Energy Management

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If you were to type in the words “time management” into a Google search, you would receive 499,000,000 results. Countless books, blogs, articles and seminars have been written and built based on this concept. I’ve read and attended my fair share over the last 2 decades. There is no lack of content if you want to learn more about how to best manage your time.

We live in a culture where a crazy, busy schedule is the norm. Expected, almost. With more “to-do’s” fighting for our daily attention than ever before, it’s no wonder time management is a topic many are trying to master.

The purpose of this post is not to give you my insights on how to best manage your time. I think the bigger issue is how you manage your ENERGY.

In my last post, I talked about the idea of creating Core Habits, a concept I found in the book Off Balance by Matthew Kelly.

In his book, Kelly also tackles the issue of energy management. People, places, things, and activities all have energy. Some energize us, and some drain our energy.

Your capacity for life increases with the more energy you have. Your ability to embrace, absorb, and enjoy all the good things in this world, and your ability to respond and react to the not so good things in this word, depends upon the amount of energy you have….Knowing how to balance various activities in our life to produce the maximum flow of energy is perhaps the most important skill any of us can learn to develop…Your experience of life expands with the more energy you have.

Keeping in mind that everything has energy, take a look at your daily schedule. Are there times in the day where the negatives outnumber the positives? How can you reorganize your day to better balance the scale? (A word of caution: don’t overload your daily schedule in an attempt to add more positive energy. Ten pounds of fun will never fit into a five pound bag. Nothing empties your energy tank faster than the overwhelming feeling of being rushed.)

Is there a certain time of day where your energy goes to die? Mine is 2:30. EVERY DAY. Trying to do more energy-sucking tasks when your tank is already on “E” is no fun.  And I’ll let you in on a little secret – caffeine and/or sugar is not the answer to your empty tank. They only make matters worse in the long run.

You may also notice a certain time of day where you have a surplus of energy. Early morning is my favorite time of day. I try to schedule all of the things that require the most energy and focus first thing in the morning. If it’s not done by dinner time, chances are good I’m not going to have the energy to do it.

Here are a few strategies I use to help manage my energy flow throughout the day.  (Caffeine and sugar free!!)

    • Multi-energy-task. I know what the research says about the negative impacts of multi-tasking. But there are certain tasks that can be done with minimal cognitive effort (things you do often that don’t require much thought), and can be combined with something else. For example- if you are like me, and feel that completing necessary household chores (laundry, dishes, dusting…) sucks the very life out of you, try to schedule a phone call with your best friend, parent, or someone who fills up your energy tank every time you talk to them. Enjoy the uplifting phone date while you fold the laundry and see how much easier it becomes. Maybe you work full time and can’t seem to escape a co-worker who drains your energy tank each and every day. “Who ‘ya gonna call” to lift you up and give you the energy you need? Play your own “fight song” before or after you talk to them. Play it loud and sing along with it. It’s amazing how music can lift you up and make you feel less alone in this crazy world.
    •  Take Five: If your day does not start out on the right foot, it is highly unlikely it will end well. It is difficult to change the trajectory of your day once you set the course. What begins as a tiny snowball of negativity in the first few minutes of your day becomes an unstoppable avalanche by lunch. Not good. Spend the next week experimenting with the the BEST way to start your day. For the first five minutes- do something that gives you energy. (If you have longer than five minutes-take it!) It could be a quick exercise, quiet meditation, prayer time, reading, drawing, or planning your day. If you don’t take the initiative to run your day, your day will run you over.
    • Waffle Wednesday. Hump day often gets a bad rap. If Wednesday were a body part, it would be an armpit. A smelly, ugly, hairy (but necessary) energy sucker. Poor Wednesday. About a year ago I decided to give Wednesday an energy overhaul. Every Wednesday morning my kids wake up excited for “Waffle Wednesday”. I realize the irony of this sugar-filled energy boost. But what was once a mid-week day we all dreaded has now become one of my favorite mornings of the week. Having something to look forward to GIVES us energy. Maybe Monday is tough for you. If so- what energy giving person, place or activity can you add to prevent having another “case of the Mondays”?  case of the mondays
  • Move. I try not to sit for more than 20 minutes at a time. I’ve heard it said more than once, and I couldn’t agree more, “sitting is the new smoking”. (There is also plenty of research to support this claim.) Instead of sitting down for a meeting with your co-worker, try a walk-and-talk option. Then come back and write down any action items. If you have a job that requires you sit at a desk all day with minimal options to get up and walk, try doing some chair yoga moves. If you stay at home with your kids, turn on Pandora’s 80’s station and dance together in your living room. It doesn’t matter how you move your body. Just move. (Especially during the time of day when your energy is the lowest.)

Take a moment to write down your daily schedule. Identify the energy givers with a “+”, and the energy suckers with a “-“. Give yourself a 1:1 ratio in order to balance your energy scale. Set boundaries and build in opportunities to recharge your battery. If you are a chronic people pleaser, use the power of “no” more often than you are comfortable. Give yourself the space and time you need to fill up your tank, and you’ll uncover energy reserves you never knew you had.

 

 

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Are You “Off Balance”?

Ginny's 7 core habits

Ginny’s 7 core habits

“We seem more interested in how we want to live than we are in discovering the best way to live. Likewise, we are much more interested in developing self-expression than we are in developing selves that are worth expressing. Personal preference has triumphed over the pursuit of excellence. We want what we want, and we feel entitled to what we want.”

-Matthew Kelly, Off Balance

I read this book with my mentor while I was working as a Director for Discovery Education. I was overwhelmed with how to “balance” everything. My family, my career, exercise, grad school, etc . This book was a gold mine of information.

In his book, Kelly begins by explaining that “work-life balance” is a myth. It’s impossible to balance the amount of time spent on your personal life if you are working full-time. Instead, he talks about striving for personal and professional SATISFACTION.

This week I’m basing the presentation portion of the iMoveU bootcamps on this book. Here is my Haiku Deck.

Here are a few points he makes:

  1. Satisfaction is different from pleasure. Satisfaction can be sustained beyond the activity producing it. Pleasure is immediate and short-lived. We have become addicted to pleasure, and the cost is genuine satisfaction
  2. Time Management vs. Energy Management: People, places, food and things can give you energy or take energy away. It’s important to manage our daily energy flow.
  3. Systems drive behaviors. We often times approach our work strategically, but our personal lives randomly. Identify your desired outcomes, identify the right behaviors that will lead to these outcomes, and create a system so that it flows.
  4. What are your CORE Habits? Write them down, look at them every day, and add new ones to the list as needed.

This book is worth every penny. It’s evident through his writing that Matthew Kelly is a compassionate individual. If you are interested in learning more, there is a free work-life balance assessment you can take HERE.

 

Make Believe

make believeMake-Believe. Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

Sing it with me. You know you want to. Belt it out. Right here, right now.

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood. A beautiful day for a neighbor. Could you be mine? Would you be mine?…. I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you. I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you. So let’s make the most of this beautiful day. Since we’re together, we might as well say: Would you be mine, could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor.”

Hello, neighbor.

Here’s the thing.

In this hyper-connected world, we are all neighbors. We have access to one another, like it or not.

And it’s not going away.

We have a choice to make in how we interact with one another as “neighbors”.

I choose to be the best neighbor I can. I choose to wake up each day and make you think, smile, move and laugh. I’m like Wilson, and you’re Tim the Toolman Taylor.

I want to make you believe in yourself.

You become what you believe.

You know that saying “fake it until you make it”? Sometimes as adults we need to play a little make believe. We need to MAKE ourselves BELIEVE we can do something. When we believe we can, we WILL.

Here’s a perfect example.

My best friend from high school ran cross country with me. She hated it, and she wasn’t very fast. She did it more for the social aspect.

A little over a year ago, she made herself believe she was a runner.

She ran a few shorter races, gained some confidence and ran Dam to Dam (just short of a half marathon) last summer, ran her first marathon, and then ran the Lake Wobegon Trail Marathon just a few weeks ago.

She pushed through an injury and 10 mile an hour winds she endured for 6+ miles.

Kiley, mother of 3, runner and Boston qualifier.

Kiley, mother of 3, runner and Boston qualifier.

And she qualified for Boston. 

Don’t think for a second that Make Believe is just for kids.

Find something you want to do (especially something that scares you). Something that will make you a better version of yourself.

And MAKE yourself BELIEVE you can do it.

#iMoveU

What Makes You Happy?

DSC05450“‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?'” And whenever the answer has been ‘no’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something,”

-Steve Jobs

A good friend of mine posted this quote on Facebook the other day. It immediately made me smile, because I’m in the middle of a pretty big life change.

If I would have asked myself the question above on my 35th birthday (which was this past January), the answer would have been “NO!”.  I had recently returned to working full-time after having my 3rd son. Although I LOVED Discovery Education, adored the people I was blessed to work beside, and honored to work with compassionate educators across the nation to help transform teaching and learning, I was not happy. For me and what I want in MY life, it was too much travel. I loved my job, but I love my husband and my family even more. I was so stressed, and I didn’t have the confidence to have “the talk” with the leadership team at work to tell them I was drowning. I’m the type of person who doesn’t like to upset anyone, and I’m also the type of person who doesn’t like to admit I can’t “do it all”. So I put on a front and pretend everything is “A-OK”. I avoid the crucial conversations and instead cry and pray in the privacy of my own home for courage and strength. I lie to myself and tell myself that this is just the kind of stress that all full-time working moms deal with. I surround myself with friends and family every weekend who lift me up and give me energy to face another week.

Luckily, God often times takes the wheel when you are lost and guides you along the right path when you need it most.

Two days after my 35th birthday, I received the news that my position at work was eliminated as a result of a reorganization. Let me first say that I 100% AGREED WITH AND SUPPORTED this decision. I knew a change was coming and was hoping it would place me in a position where I was traveling less. The position I was in no longer made sense for the team I was on. I knew it, I felt it, and I agreed with the decision. I was in the wrong seat on the bus.

There were other seats available on the bus, however they also required a significant amount of travel, so in the end I made the decision not to pursue any of those seats, and I left.

I could say I was excited, happy and relieved when I left, but that would be a lie. I did feel that deep down, but mostly my ego was bruised. I felt embarrassed, ashamed, and angry. Laid off? That doesn’t happen to me.

I was pretty upset the first few weeks. I didn’t want to see or talk to anyone outside my inner circle. Luckily I have the most amazing family and friends, and they lifted me up and reminded me that everything happens for a reason.

A few weeks after I left, I flew down to Florida to visit my parents for a week with the boys. We got to the condo we rented on a beach outside of Tampa just in time to see the sunset. My 2 older boys kicked off their shoes and ran to put their toes into the ocean for the first time.

As the sun disappeared behind the Gulf, a man (who had been standing in the ocean playing his bagpipes when we arrived) played Amazing Grace. Now, of all the places in the world he choose to play, God placed him right in front of me. If that’s not a sign that I’m on the right path, I don’t know what is. My dad hugged me and I held back tears of joy. I knew in that moment that I would be ok.

Fast forward a few months to yesterday, Mother’s Day. About a month ago the idea came to me to launch iMoveU on Mother’s Day. It was more of a symbolic launch, and I wanted to celebrate with family and freinds. That little voice in my head said “You should call it The Gift Of Time.” I likedimage (1) this name because time is a gift, and as a Mother of 3 boys, there is no greater gift than spending time with my family. The SAME DAY I had this idea, my middle son came home with this picture he had made at school. Getting chills yet? Yeah, me too.

About a week after I chose to launch iMoveU on Mother’s Day, I also decided I would use the book The Dot by Peter Reynolds. It’s a wonderful children’s book that teaches kids how to “make their mark” on the world. I recently gave it to my friend Jessica who wrote her first novel.  (It’s called The Rooms Are Filled, and it’s amazing. Go buy it. Barnes and Noble, Amazon, etc. ) Although I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting Peter in person, I had the opportunity to listen to him talk during a virtual event while I was at Discovery and I was really touched by his own story. He’s an amazing man with a passion for helping kids (AND ADULTS) make their mark and share their inner art with the world.

image

The SAME DAY I decided to use this book in my launch, my middle son (who rarely draws anything- normally he’s busy playing with his cars and planes) drew this picture, which looks almost identical to the cover of the book. HE HAD NEVER SEEN OR HEARD OF THE BOOK!!! And why, of all the things he could draw, would he draw a big dot? Yet another sign….

These are just a few of the “signs” I’ve received along the way over the course of the past 3 months. These signs give me courage, hope and excitement for the future of iMoveU. I’m not doing this for attention, to prove anything to anyone, or to make a ton of money. I’m doing it all out of love. I’m doing this because I’m HAPPY. And I want to help other people be HAPPY.

Tomorrow I’m hosting my first “Happier Hour” for a group of amazing women where I will be cooking some of my favorite healthy apps and fresh juices, and I’ll be talking about companies, resources and products that have made me happy. (If you live in the NW Chicago burbs and you want to come please let me know!)

One of those products is Nerium. About 2 months ago my best friend and college roommate Megan called me to tell me all about “this amazing, all natural skin care product” called Nerium. I thought she was crazy and almost started avoiding her calls and texts. I’ve never spent more than $30 on face cream and I just lost my job, why would I want to spend money on that? However, because she is my best friend and because I love her, I listened.

I’m SO glad I trusted her when she promised me it would change my life.

I’ll save the details for a later post, but let me just say that Nerium has transformed my skin. Not just my face, but also my stomach (which I’ve had very loose skin since my second child), my neck, and my chest. I worked hard to loose the baby weight after each child. But after gaining and losing 30-40 pounds 3 times, my body has been through quite a beating. I am proud to say that I did it the right way. I didn’t go on a crash diet, I exercised daily and ate well. However, I was embarrassed by the loose skin on my stomach and was sad that it looked the way it did. I even thought about getting a tummy tuck because society is constantly yelling at women that we have to look perfect. (Which says a lot, because I even refused epidurals for all 3 kids in large part because needles scare me. The thought of my skin being cut off makes me cringe.)

After only 5 weeks, my stomach looks drastically different. Don’t get me wrong, I still have loose skin. I HAD 3 KIDS! You should see what my stomach looks like in high plank position if I don’t have a compression top on. Not pretty. But it has made such a huge difference, and it’s made me feel more comfortable in my own skin.

I’m happy to privately send my before and after pictures to anyone interested. Maybe in time I will post them publicly on on here and Facebook, but for now just send me a message if you want to see my real results.

I’m such a firm believer and supporter of Nerium that I also signed on to be a brand partner. I’ve never sold anything in my life, but I believe so strongly in the product AND the organization. I’m proud to represent Nerium and can’t wait to share it with my friends and family to see the difference it can make for others. And the best part about it is, you receive Nerium for free when you refer 3 friends. The company believes so strongly in helping people live better lives that they literally give the product away for free. They also give 30% of their profits to cancer research, which was how the product was discovered. It’s gluten free, and does not contain anything artificial or harmful for your skin. As a brand partner, I am blown away by the leadership and commitment to personal development this organization provides. Nerium is giving me access to amazing tools and resources that will help give me the skill set to build iMoveU.

If someone would have told me on my 35th birthday that I was going to lose my job, start my own non-profit, sell skin cream and have a new stomach (without having to get a tummy tuck)  within the next 3 months I would have slapped them across the face and called them crazy. But when you drown out noise of the world and listen to what’s in your heart, you never know where God will take you.

Here’s to being HAPPY!!

LOL

This week my yoga instructor talked about the importance of laughter in our lives.

The Mayo Clinic says laughter can produce short term benefits like stimulating organs and it helps to increase endorphins. Long term benefits include an improved immune system, pain relief and improved overall mood.

UC Irvine Health says:

Laughter and good humor have such all-around benefits that it wouldn’t be surprising to see them on the prescription pad as recommendations for your overall health. Some researchers even suggest that doctors ask patients about their “laugh history” because humor is so important in maintaining a high quality of life. Interestingly, studies have shown that the benefits of laughter are the same in different countries and cultures, even though what’s thought of as funny might be different.”

Here is a scary fact. According to my dear friend and fellow jumping enthusiast Dean Shareski,

the average 4 year-old laughs 300 times a day, while the average 40 year old laughs 4 times a day.

When I was young, LOL meant “Lots of Love”. I signed all my hand written notes to my friends  (and love letters to my boyfriend Joey McIntyre from NKOTB) with “S.W.A.K.” (Sealed With A Kiss) and “LOL”.

When I was in college, I remember instant messaging (a new phenomenon) with my cousin. He kept saying funny things that were going on in his life, followed by “LOL”. After a few LOL’s I started feeling a little awkward. I mean, I love my cousin, but seriously, we’re cousins. Love you too, buddy! I finally asked him what LOL meant to him. “Laugh out Loud!” he replied.

OHHHHH….

LOLOLOLO. ROTFL. LQTM(Laughing Quietly To Myself- this one I used with some colleagues at SMART when were were in “serious” meetings and couldn’t LOL. You know who you are. I miss you guys!)

I love to laugh, and I love to make people laugh. I like to think I laugh much more than 4 times a day.

So- the rest of this post contains personal stories which will hopefully make you laugh.

When I was 4 or 5 years old, my dog Bandit had a marker hanging out of his mouth. The way he was holding it and walking around, it looked as though he was smoking a cigar. I laughed SO hard I peed myself. Luckily I was outside in our backyard, so I waddled back inside and changed my pants. Wetting myself was worth it, the dog seriously looked so funny. I can still picture him clear as day 30 years later.

This picture of my sweet baby K was taken this past week. Ladies- fair warning- this is evidence of what can happen when you leave your husband in charge of entertaining the kids. Michael and Owen were laughing and yelling “Look at his boobies!” Of course after we all had a good laugh, we did have a serious talk about “private parts” and how we didn’t need them going to school telling their friends about their brother’s boobies.

Kellan's support

 

 

 

 

This picture is a “goal” chart that my 6 year old made to track the money he is saving to buy a $100 Lego set he saw at Target a few months ago. When he told me he wanted the Lego set, I explained to him that $100 is a lot of money and that he would need to save some to buy it. I pulled up an image of a fundraising goal chart so he could draw his own. I walked away and fed the baby and came back to find this little gem. You bet your bottom dollar this is going to be laminated and given to him on his 18th birthday. Clearly he’s pretty excited about these Legos. I had it proudly displayed on our fridge for a while. As you can imagine, it was a real conversation starter when guests came over.

Lego goal

 

 

 

He also made this self portrait (below) AT SCHOOL when he was 3 1/2 years old. I about wet myself when I saw it. Clearly he’s a very confident little boy. Again, as any mother would do, I proudly displayed this on the fridge for several months. This one will also be laminated and given to him when he’s 18. If he ONLY knew the irony of these pictures. Some day soon he will.

Michael self portrait

 

 

This video was taken when O was 2 years old. He developed an obsession for the iPad and would do anything to play with it. You can see at the very end that he’s had enough.

So , how much have you laughed today? 

🙂

Lots of Love, Laughing Out Loud,

Ginny

 

Slow Down And Enjoy The Ride

 “Slow down and enjoy life.  It’s not only the scenery you miss by going too fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”

Eddie Cantor 

My yoga instructor shared the quote above at the beginning of class last week. I’m fairly certain she was speaking directly to me. The evening before, I attended a guided meditation call led by my friend Carolyn Flyer with the same message: slow down. Prior to calling in, she had us watch a video about Slomo.

I don’t know how to go slow. I’m fairly certain I came out of the womb running. I’ve been moving at mach speed since I was born. As a little girl I was independent and fearless. I’m always in a hurry to get where I’m going, wether it’s running, working, eating, talking, driving, reading or learning. On the first day of kindergarten I demanded on walking to school alone in front  of my parents. Basically, as a 5 year old I had a restraining against them. I can just imagine my kindergarten demands ….”Fran, I said 50 yards away! Frank, is that a tear? You better lock it up!”

Just like Forrest Gump, I’ve just always “felt like running”.

I barely event taste my food, I inhale it before my husband has finished his third bite.

If there are stairs, I’ll run down them. Or better yet, I’ll take the slide.

Slowing down is hard to do, but it’s necessary. I’m realizing that I haven’t taken the time to enjoy my life’s scenery. I’ve been too busy focusing on what’s next to take in the beauty of the present moment.

It’s very difficult to slow down when you are passionate about something. You want to change the world, help people better themselves, sing kumbaya as you hug your friends and family.

So, I’m going to need you to hold me accountable. If you see me moving too fast, feel free to slap me across the face (figuratively) and remind me to enjoy the ride.

It’s not about racing towards your destination full speed ahead. Life is best lived when you enjoy the journey and take in the beautiful scenery.

I’m soaking it all up and taking time to enjoy every moment. And as far as I’m concerned, a genuine smile from a child is God’s greatest gift to a mother.

my 3 boys laughing

Chase Your Fears

birthday cake scareMy oldest son Michael was petrified of candles until he was almost 3 years old. You would have thought he was being held at gunpoint by an armed robber when we sang him happy birthday and showed him the cake on his second birthday. DON’T SHOOT! I’ll GIVE YOU MY TALKING ELMO! PLEASE DON’T KILL ME!

(Side note: does it make me a bad mom if, in moments like these, I grab the camera instead of calming his fear?)

Obviously now that he’s almost seven, he knows candles are fun and harmless as long as you don’t touch them when lit. He laughs every time he sees this picture and makes fun of himself for being so scared.

We all have irrational fears. And for many of us, that fear can make us do crazy things. It can keep us from doing the work we were truly meant to do.

(Please understand I’m not talking about rational fear. If someone is really holding a gun to your head, the advice below does not apply.)

We all have that inner voice. It’s constantly telling us why we shouldn’t do something, why were are not good enough, why we are not ready or why we should stay quiet. In the book Linchpin, Seth Godin calls it the lizard brain. When we feel certain feelings (stress, fear, doubt, vulnerable, anger, confusion), cortisol is released in our brain, causing us to do anything we can to run from the fear. It’s fight or flight. Instead of being honest and pushing through, we lash our or run and hide.

In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield calls it resistance. And here’s the thing about the resistance, or the lizard brain. It lies!! Pressfield says “If you take Resistance at its word, you deserve everything you get. Resistance is always lying and always full of shit”.

I’ve struggled with anxiety, fear and doubt my entire life. It has caused me to do crazy things.

Over the past few years I’ve found a few coping strategies that have helped me find confidence to face these fears.

1. I give the resistance (or lizard brain) a name. I call mine Newman. “Hello Newman” (I say in my very best Jerry Seinfeld voice). I acknowledge my feelings. “Oh, hey there anxiety. Nice seeing you again. NOT!”

2. I repeat my inner mantra: Let your purpose trump fear and doubt.

3. I ask myself for advice in the 3rd person. “Ginny, if your best friend was going through this, what advice would you give them?” This removes my emotions from the equation, allowing me to think rationally as if I’m looking in from the outside.

4. If the above doesn’t work,  I reach out to my support system. Sometimes I need someone to check my thinking to ensure I’m doing what is right for me and my family. Sometimes I’m trying to do something that the resistance is convincing me is right. Find someone who will give you the honest truth (not just what you want to hear) and put you in your place when you need a kick in the butt.

I’ve felt more fear and anxiety in the past 2 months than I have in my entire life. And I’ve never felt more confident to tackle it.

As Pressfield explains,“Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember our rule of thumb: The more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it”. 

Next time your lizard brain walks in your front door and lies to you, shove it out the back door. If you continue to believe it and let it stand in your way, you only have yourself to blame.

Don’t be afraid to tell your spouse how you feel. Don’t be afraid to tell your boss you aren’t happy. Don’t be afraid to try something you’ve never done before because you might look like a fool. Don’t be afraid to talk to your child about difficult topics. Don’t be afraid to tell your friends or family you need help with an addiction. Don’t be afraid to change something you don’t like about yourself, even if that means cutting people or things out of your life.

Do you remember what babies look like when they first start to walk? Their hands held out, taking a few wobbly steps, and then falling. Do you still walk like that? No, because you got back up and tried again. And again. And again. If you REALLY want to do something, and it’s for the RIGHT reasons, find the inner strength to do it.

#iMoveU