Sunday, February 11, 2018

Pay Attention to this Hot Mess… a practical guide to organizing!

Great read for anyone who wants to look and feel more organized

When I heard the title of my talented organizing friend, Laurie Palau from Simply b Organized, new book, I smiled – Hot Mess: A Practical Guide to Getting Organized. 

This book is funny, valuable and a great easy read.

This book will also help you identify the root of your clutter, provide solutions for feeling less overwhelmed and provide systems for you to really get organized in every area of your life.

Laurie addresses the physical, emotional, and calendar clutter that everyone faces and in her funny, ‘tough-love’ approach, gives you practical solutions you can apply immediately at work, at home and even in your relationships.

Buy this book, follow her advice, and then share it with a friend who would benefit from it as well. Not only is Laurie a fun writer;  I have seen her speak and she is an expert in this topic. She’s not a typical stuffy, strict organizational consultant, she is authentic, practical and fun to work with. Many of my clients have hired her and their spaces (and lives) have been transformed. Get yourself a copy of this great book today – you can order here.

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Monday, January 29, 2018

Change Your Relationship with Technology

…and pay attention to what matters most!

How would you define your relationship with technology? Are you able to put it down and walk away from it when someone or something that matters demands your attention? Or, are you denying your technology addiction as you sneak glances at your device during moments that really matter?


If we are ever going to decrease our stress and the feeling of being too busy, we must start first by creating a new relationship with technology. We must recognize who is in charge and understand technology is a tool, not a life source. Social media is for socializing, not surviving.


Technology is a tool, not a life source. Social media is for socializing, not surviving.
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Let’s start first with a confession session by answering the questions below. These will help you understand how your relationship with technology is defined and where it can be refined.


What digital habits do you hope to create for yourself in 2018?


As you know the focus of my work as a keynote speaker is getting the world to pay attention! My new book, Attention Pays™ is full of strategies to help people pay attention, and that includes me too! Throughout the process of writing the book, I began to uncover habits I had developed that needed redefining. There are several tools I used to help me manage my focus and concentrated time. Those will certainly become must-haves in my 2018 routines – see the list below for the tools I swear by.


What about you? Do you suffer from daily distractions such as alerts on your phone, text messages or social media? Do you find yourself spending countless hours online without even realizing it? Perhaps you spend your day drowning in your email inbox, allowing it to dictate your day, energy and time.


What digital habits are you trying to leave behind in 2017?


I want to leave behind the habit of pulling out my cell phone when I am traveling or between meetings. I’d rather use that time to be creative, meditate, learn something, or be alone with my thoughts. I want to create more white space in my life in 2018.


What about you? Perhaps you’ve realized it’s time to stop pulling out your phone while sitting at a red light, or allowing it’s alerts to distract you from meaningful conversations. Maybe, you’ve developed some unwanted habits of tuning others out while you tune into your screen. What do you recognize that needs to change moving into the new year?


What digital habits have helped most in terms of productivity, focus, mental health, etc.?

I’m always on a search for the latest and greatest technological tools that will – ironically – help me decrease my time with technology. While digital tools can certainly help us in daily productivity, it can also be a huge time suck that steals away our focus and attention from what matters most. Below is a list of tools I’ve found necessary to my daily success. Share with me your ideas and let’s pay attention together!

  • Using Freedom App on my mac allows me to do dedicated work.



  • Turning off every notification, alerts, and sound for social media, my smartphone, mac and email also assists me.


  • My smartphone is permanently turned to silent so I only answer calls if I see it ring otherwise it is out of reach so I can get work done.


  • Using meditation apps has helped me this year and I hope to get even better at that next year.


  • Having my whole team using Slack has assisted minimize email, have quick conversations, and even though we are spread across the country it’s a great way to feel more connected.


  • Sharing Facebook Live videos with clients has allowed me to be accountable and productive for where I am and help others share in the experience.


  • Only using Google products has assisted us i. Gmail, Alexa, calendar and maps – the whole team is united in everything.



  • Buying a Peloton 1 year ago was life changing, with live and on-demand classes and hundreds of workouts off the bike I can use it when I travel and it keeps me healthy and in shape.


What tools/techniques have been most useful in creating a better relationship with technology?


  • Freedom App
  • Gmail
  • Google calendar
  • Boomerang
  • Peloton bike (and app)
  • Techniques include:
    • switching off my cell, putting it in a draw, leaving it in my bag when I am driving and traveling.
    • Not using my cell phone as an alarm to wake up.
    • Using my cell phone as a timer to power through tasks (especially email) I play a game that I set the timer for 15 minutes to see how many emails I can answer in one dedicated 15 minute block.
    • Not checking email until I have worked out.
    • Pre-scheduling rides on Peloton in my calendar so I commit to health first
    • Leaving devices in my bag when I meet someone for a meal.
    • Using Alexa for reminders in my house.
    • Using Slack with my team (instead of texting or email)
    • Blocking my calendar before 9 am so I can workout and eat breakfast before any meetings. In 2018 we are blocking out until 11 am so we can also get strategic work done early in the day when I am not speaking for clients or traveling.
    • Stopped sending emails at night or weekends (still wrote them but scheduled them for later delivery)

Now, it’s your turn. Are you ready to pay attention to what matters most? Will you consider changing your relationship with technology so you can begin to pay attention to what matters most? Share with me your ideas in the comments below and join the #AttentionRevolution by encouraging others to unplug, disconnect and take control of who and what deserves their time and attention.

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Monday, January 15, 2018

When You’re Just Too Busy – Attention Pays!

We wear busy like a badge of honor. Busy has become a status symbol within our society, which is crazy when you stop to consider how terrible it is to our productivity, personal well-being and relationships. We believe if we aren’t busy, we aren’t productive. Problem is, being too busy is counterproductive to everything that matters most.


Researchers have discovered people are feeling overwhelmed at work dealing with constant distractions that then spill over into our personal lives, affecting our recovery, families and friendships. The result: the feeling of anxiety, stress, fatigue and a lack of focus on what matters most.


The Centre for Time Use Research at Oxford University says the total amount of time people work is the same as it’s always been and data indicates people who say they’re the busiest generally aren’t.


If studies show we are not actually busier than we have been in the past, why do we feel like it?
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Part of the answer is simple – attention is our new currency and is more valuable than ever before. With a constant stream of incoming emails, meetings to attend, things to read, ideas to execute, it’s no wonder we feel too busy and unable to give our undivided attention to what is most important.  When you couple everything competing for our attention with the digital age of technology, it’s no wonder we are feeling overwhelmed, overstressed and overtired. Fact is: we work 24×7. We never get a break.


Technology and societal pressures leave us feeling the need to be accessible to everyone all the time. As a result, everything suffers. Ironically, being constantly accessible actually decreases our productivity, not the other way around. When we feel rushed, we actually suffer from decreased production, focus and attention to detail. The pace of which we work slows, we are more apt to make mistakes and more likely to disconnect from meaningful relationships. Being too busy makes us too distracted.


When we are overwhelmed and lack concentrated focus, we inadvertently compile our stress by taking on even more obligations than we can handle. Before we know it, we are sacrificing what matters most to suffice what matters now. Even worse, we have pre-programmed ourselves to believe we must always be on, plugged in and responsive. We fail to give ourselves the necessary time to recover and refocus.


It’s time to change our mindset. It’s time for an Attention Revolution.  We must stop considering busy as an indication of our importance. We must measure our success not by the time it takes to complete a task, rather the results we achieve. It’s time to prioritize what matters most to us and use those priorities as filters for what we commit to doing. We must learn to say ‘no’ to requests for our time that steal our attention from what matters most. It’s time to start realizing the value our undivided attention brings to relationships, productivity and accountability.


Maybe then, we’ll see we aren’t as busy as we thought we were.

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Sunday, January 07, 2018

What I Wish I Would’ve Known Before Buying My First SmartPhone

Have you ever been so excited to buy something new you fail to consider how it might impact you in the long run? Let’s face it; rarely do we ever consider the long term consequences of our purchases and impulsive needs, especially when it comes to technology – like the smartphone.


I can still remember my first smartphone purchase – the answer to my productivity needs. The ability to map my destinations, create travel itineraries on a whim, respond to emails in a more timely fashion, take photos and more. I’ve never been one that is a cutting-edge ‘early adopter’ where technology is concerned, but the smartphone was truly that – smart. It was the answer to my overwhelmed, overly committed life.


Never one time did I stop to consider the long term impacts the smartphone would have on my life, let alone on society. Have you ever stopped to contemplate how your life has changed since introducing this device into it? Would you have bought your first smartphone if you knew then what you know now? Or perhaps, would you have introduced it to your life differently?


Would you have bought your first smartphone if you knew then what you know now?
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The following aspects are those I wish I would have – could have – considered before that first smartphone purchase:


Dinner Disruptions:

I wish I would have known that I would rarely see families and friends engaged in a conversation around the dinner table without the distraction of a device. I can’t even recall the last time I sat in a restaurant and witnessed everyone engaged in a non-device disrupting conversation and meal. Far too often I see adults tuned out reading online while kids mindlessly play games and avoid interaction. I watch as young couples engage more on social media than with each other. I wait as servers and staff turn their attention to patrons in need of photos, causing other patrons to sit in wait.


Traveling Challenges:

I wish I would have known that every airport would become a land mine of adults sitting on floors and against walls, hovering near any available power outlet or charging station, handcuffed to their device in a desperate hope it will charge before boarding the flight. Before smartphones, I can’t recall a time it was commonplace to see grown adults holding a small device as if it were their very life support.


Distracted Driving:

I wish I would have known the rate people would crash, or even die, due to distracted drivers. Let’s face it, there are few things more annoying, distracting and dangerous than a smartphone alert going off when you’re behind the wheel of a car. No matter where you keep the phone – your purse, console, glove box or back seat – there is something about the sound of an alert that pulls your focus from the road. Never would I have imagined how many people I would share the road with that would be texting while driving, reading the news, posting online or even live streaming their thoughts in transit. Even when thought I have disciplined myself not to look at the phone while driving, the very thought of what awaits for me competes for my attention more than I would have ever imagined. I was shocked to read a recent statistic that revealed over 25% of all crashes are due to drivers texting while driving. The Department of Motor Vehicles reports 9 people die every day because our drivers distracted on their smartphone. Is it worth it?


Home Life Hindrances:

I wish I would have known how much I would ask my friends and family to pause their thoughts as I answered a self-inflicted obligation to respond to emails after hours. I can remember when I first linked my email to my smartphone and thought how amazing it was to respond to emails after the work day was over. I considered this a productivity win as my response times were cut in half. I had faith that others recognized my diligence and would be appreciative of my timely response. What I didn’t realize is that in time, my enthusiasm for answering after hour emails would turn into a habit and that habit would turn into obligation. Little by little, I had trained those in my circle to expect an immediate response from me. Before I knew it, my 9 to 5 turned into a 24×7 workday. My loved ones became the ones in wait as I took time and attention from them to respond to messages that could have easily waited until morning.


Need for Instant Information:  

I wish I would have known my need for instant information would become a crutch. I’m not sure if you’re like me, and have lost track of the number of times you’ve stopped mid conversation to research facts and figures to prove a point. While having information at our fingertips is amazing, it can also hinder our ability to be free thinkers and engage in healthy debates and judgement without the need to immediately prove who is right.


Social Media Influence:

I wish I would have known how toxic social media would become. If only I could have seen the day I would wish for photos of a friend’s meal to be the topic of social media fodder. Instead, the smartphone has allowed all of us to think, and post, without self-censorship. We’ve entered into a world where what we feel is immediately available for others to read. I would have never guessed the draining effect it would have on my in my daily life, feelings and productivity. Not only has the smartphone increased my accessibility to read social media, it’s made it addictive to the point that a concerted effort has to be made just to tune it out or avoid it all together.


Productivity Nemesis:

I wish I would have known that the very tool I was purchasing to help me become more productive would be the very thing that would challenge my ability to do so. With constant alerts, messages and updates, it’s hard to remain focused on anything of importance. Trying to focus on a task becomes challenging when I know someone has messaged me and is awaiting an immediate response. Now, I have to make a conscious effort to download apps and schedule times of days they work to keep alerts and messages at bay. Never the less, the impulsive need to check my screen for notifications is often more than I can bear. Despite my need for focused thinking, I find my attention challenged in ways I would have never previously imagined.


Talking to Foreheads:

I wish I would have known that the introduction of the smartphone meant learning to carry on conversations with people’s foreheads. If only I had the ability to grab someone by their face and say what my 5 year old friend, Donovan, taught me – “Listen with your eyes.” Put the phone down and pay attention to what is right in front of you, not what can wait. If only I would have known how preconditioned I would become – we would become – to accepting interruptions and someone’s half attention as the norm. I couldn’t believe the news when I heard the World Health Organization announced a new classification of mental health disorders due to persistent and addictive gaming. Will we ever be able to retrain our brains to step away from our smartphones and connect with a real reality as opposed to a virtual one?


Is there anything you wish you would have known before buying your first smartphone? While technology has helped us in many ways, it challenges our focus and competes for our attention for what is truly important. While I don’t regret having this amazing technology, hind sight is always 20/20. Now that we know the challenges, can we change our habits, or are we doomed to distraction?


I believe attention is our new currency. Attention to what matters most is where we will profit, boost productivity and increase accountability. Paying attention to what is important is a skill we must learn – if not relearn – to help us achieve balance in our lives with technology, empowering us to take a digital detox.


What are your thoughts? I would love to read them. Are you committed to changing your habits and learning how to use the smartphone as a tool and break the dependency you’ve created? If so, subscribe to my ezine to learn tips, techniques and strategies to help you pay attention to what matters most.

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