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.

 

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

The Gift of Time (iMoveU Launch)

iMoveU“The first person you lead is you.

-John C. Maxwell

Let me start by saying I am humbled by the outpouring of love and support from family and friends after announcing my new passion project, iMoveU. It’s nerve-racking  to put yourself out there, and I wasn’t sure what would happen after I shared the idea publicly. I was scared and nervous to share. What if people think it’s stupid? What if they don’t like it? What if they think I’m crazy? What if it fails?

For most of my professional career, I’ve been self conscious and scared to share. I only speak up if I feel comfortable, or if I’m 100% sure everyone will think my idea is brilliant. I’ve been afraid to fail. While I’ve witnessed many of my co-workers have no problems voicing their opinions or ideas, I often times sat in silence with my thoughts hoping no one would call on me.

This self doubt and fear began when I was in college. I remember calling my mom crying the semester before student teaching. I was so nervous, and I didn’t think I could do it. I had a horrible experience with my practicum teacher and she didn’t give me very good reviews. My first (and only) lesson she observed was awful. As I attempted to teach her 9th grade class, I was so nervous my voice trembled, I began to sweat, and I nearly fainted. I’m not sure what I said or did, but I’m pretty sure those 9th graders thought it was awful.

Luckily, my student teaching experience was much better. I was paired with a compassionate and veteran teacher. He let me lead from the first day of school, and by my last day there I was crying as I said goodbye to my 7th graders.

After graduating college, I began my teaching career in Atlanta, GA. I wasn’t a great teacher. I had no idea how to manage my classroom, and I was too scared to ask for help. So I sat in my room and cried almost every day after my students left.

This fear of failure, self doubt and low self-esteem has followed me my entire professional career. Don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I’ve been comfortable enough to share and show my true colors thanks to a few compassionate leaders. But for most of the past 15 years, I’ve let my fear get in the way. I listened to my inner voice when it told me to stay quiet, that my ideas were dumb, and that I didn’t belong there.

In my personal life, however, I’m fearless. I’m the lone nut, dancing on the dance floor like Elaine from Seinfeld. I don’t care who sees me and I don’t care what they think. I’m comfortable in my own skin and I know who I am. My family and friends love me crazy and all, and laugh with (and at) me.

So for the first time in my professional career, I’m going to be brave. If I want to lead others, I first have to lead myself. For the first time ever, I believe in myself and the impact iMoveU will have on those I love.

As much as I want to take off running full speed ahead with iMoveU, I have a far more important title: Mother. So I’m going to crawl, walk, and then run. I’m going to take the summer slow and spend time with my kids. I’m going to cherish every moment with them and give thanks for this precious gift of time. I’m going to kick some old habits that developed as a result of my fear and self-doubt. (Bad habit #1- comparing myself to other women.) I’m going to look in the mirror when I’m scared and tell myself “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and dog-gonnit, people like me!“.

Mark Your Calendar!!

On Sunday, May 11 (Mother’s Day) I will be launching iMoveU with a free 1-hour workshop for families. It will be called “The Gift of Time” and will include a mix of discussion, presentation and a scavenger hunt through downtown Arlington Heights. (Location and time information coming soon!) Any donations will be given to Our Lady of Wayside School, a community that has welcomed me and my family with open arms this past year. I invite you and your families to join me as we celebrate Mother’s Day with the ones we love.

iMoveU isn’t just about exercise and learning. It’s about helping individuals live their best life.

This past week I sketched out my tagline and logo for iMoveU (see image above). I’ll share more background on why I designed it the way I did, but for now I’ll share this: The apple core in the hand of the “i” is in memory of my late cousin Andrew who lost his battle with leukemia as a child. He was first diagnosed with cancer in kindergarten, the same age as my oldest son. I hope the work I do with iMoveU puts a smile on his face as he watches from above. While I can’t heal the hurt and the pain that my family has experienced as a result of this loss, I take comfort knowing that I grew up in the most compassionate, caring, loving, fun, loud, goofy and faithful family because we knew first hand how precious life is. Each moment we spend together as a family is a gift. My hope is that iMoveU will create opportunities for my friends and family to spend more time with the ones they love the most.

iMoveU

Be Brave. Be Better. BE HAPPY.

 

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

Introducing iMoveU

“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, LEAP.” 

-Cynthia Heimel

It was just over a year ago that the idea came to me. I don’t remember where I was or what I was doing, but I remember my inner voice suddenly take over me, screaming in my ear “You need to figure out a way to do what you love by combining your two passions: exercise and professional growth. And you need to call it iMoveU!”.

For the most part, I ignored my inner voice. I was pregnant with my third child, working full-time in a job I enjoyed, surrounded by co-workers I adore, and in grad school finishing my Master’s degree. Free time was something I had very little of. But in those fleeting moments when I was alone with my thoughts, my inner voice would remind me of what I was putting off.

It wasn’t until August, when my 3rd son was born, that I had some free time to explore the idea. With the older 2 boys in school and a newborn who loved to sleep, I had pockets of time where I started to flush out what I wanted iMoveU to be.

It’s with tremendous fear excitement that I am finally ready to share the idea with the universe and see where it goes.

Introducing iMoveU: An innovative approach to professional growth

iMoveU was developed based on research that exercise positively affects learning. By incorporating movement into the learning process, we are increasing the brain’s cognitive capacity, allowing the body and mind to work together.

iMoveU

 

WHY?

As a working mother, education enthusiast, and exercise junkie, I understand how difficult it can be to find time to take care of ourselves. I often times felt guilty taking time out of my day to exercise because it meant taking time away from my family or time away from work. However, on the days I exercise I found that (as I’m sure you all know and can relate) I’m more productive, I have more energy, and I’m just….happier.

iMoveU is dedicated to providing innovative learning experiences, allowing the mind and body to work together. By incorporating movement and exercise, we are clearing our minds and allowing the brain to absorb and process new information.

I believe that learning is a lifelong journey. Throughout my career I have continually sought out opportunities to grow professionally.

I have an insatiable thirst to explore the world I live in and my purpose within it.

As a result, I’ve sat through my fair share of workshops, seminars, webinars, classes and retreats. Some have inspired and transformed me as a learner. Others have sucked the life out of me.

I’m also a bit of an exercise junkie. I fell in love with running in middle school and haven’t looked back since. I hoard workout videos like candy, and I’ve tried everything from hot yoga to The Dailey Method. Exercise is so much more than a way to improve my health and wellness. I quickly realized that some of my best thinking comes when I’m in motion.In the book Steal Like An Artist, author Austin Kleon shares that “our bodies can tell our brains as much as our brains tell our bodies”.

I’m hoping to create learning experiences that challenge your perspectives, expand your horizons, make you laugh, get you moving, and push you to strive for better

iMoveU is my way of sharing what I have learned with others. This is a journey that is just beginning, and I am looking for friends, family and community members to help me build this into what I know it can be. If you are interested in participating, here’s how you can be involved:

  • iMoveU pilots: I’ve tested it once with 3 of my amazing friends (you know who you are- THANK YOU), and I need to test it out a few more times to improve upon what I’ve developed. If you have the space to host a session and people to test it out, I’ll do it for free. I am looking to do 5-10 pilot sessions within the next few months.If you have a small group of co-workers you think this could benefit (think of this opportunity as a new type of motivational/inspirational speech) I’d love to talk with you about how this might work with your organization. I have an entire list of topic ideas ready to go.
  • Send me your feedback: Comment on this blog post, on FB, call me or send me an email. I would love to hear your thoughts, answer your questions, and connect with anyone you think I should talk to.
  • Follow my Pinterest board: iMoveU is more than just in-person workshops and events. As an avid reader and reflective practitioner, I’ll post what I’m learning online. As I read and find inspiration, I will share it with you through a new board I created on Pinterest. Feel free to steal and use these images, just give proper credit 🙂
  • iMoveU Spring/Summer Bootcamp: Beginning in May, I’m going to offer 1 hour outdoor bootcamps. (Weather permitting of course. I’ve talked to mother nature and she has assured me this cold, dreary winter weather WILL come to an end.) These 1 hour iMoveU sessions will include a mix of strength and cardio moves, a short 15-20 minute presentation of a topic or idea (for example- creativity and innovation), and a 20 minute reflection run/walk. If you live in the Arlington Heights area and you are interested in learning more about these bootcamps, fill out this form and I’ll send you more information.

Within the next month I’ll also share my website which will explain iMoveU in more detail.

So there you have it. Who knows where this journey will lead me. It’s been terrifying and nerve-wracking to put myself out there, but the more I work on it the more my inner voice is yelling “YES!! Keep going! FINALLY!” If iMoveU helps even one person to improve themselves personally and professionally, I’ll consider it a success. And more importantly, if it inspires my 3 boys to pursue their passion and  find joy in their life’s work, I’ll know I’ve successfully modeled for them what I hope they strive for as adults.

“Look what I accomplished all by myself!” –Said no one, ever

This is hardly a solo effort. So many people have already helped me along the way, and I couldn’t be more grateful for their support. A huge thank you to my husband for his unwavering support and encouragement in this new venture. Thank you to my parents who took care of my 3 boys for a week in Florida so I could sit on the beach and dream of what this could and should be. Thank you to my inner circle of friends and family who have taken the time to listen to my iMoveU rants, provide feedback on my website, and volunteered to be my test monkeys. Thank you in advance to those of you who I’ll be reaching out to in the coming months for help. Feel free to ignore my calls, texts and emails now that you know what I’m up to. But don’t forget I know where you live, and I have a box full of high school, college, summer vacation and wedding pictures that can easily be scanned and shared online for all to see 🙂

Introducing iMoveU, my adjacent possible.  

 

 

The Adjacent Possible

photo (3)A few years ago I read Where Good Ideas Come From by Steven Johnson. The book takes a close look at the natural history of innovation in an effort to identify what sparks our great ideas.

In the book he talks about the “adjacent possible”.

 

 

 

“The history of cultural progress is, almost without exception, a story of one door leading to another door, exploring the palace one room at a time.”

In other words, when one door closes, another one opens. This allows you to explore a new space, previously unavailable to you. As an educator and lifelong learner, this is incredibly exciting. It can also be a bit overwhelming, especially when the door was closed unexpectedly by someone else. Relationships end, companies evolve, and friends change. Regardless of how it closed, if you continue to move forward, you allow yourself the opportunity to explore new possibilities.

Last week I had the privilege  of spending the week on a beach in Florida with my parents and 3 kids. I began each morning with a long run along the beach. The first two days were sunny and warm, and I could see for miles as I ran. But the third day a thick, low fog settled in. I could only see about 100 yards in front of me at any given time. For some reason, my run on the third day was much easier than the first two.

Then it hit me. I was enjoying the moment, exploring the adjacent possible as new faces and places came into view. I wasn’t fixated on the end goal which looked so far away on the first two days. I couldn’t see it, but I knew it was there.

Here’s my point. In life, we often times get wrapped up in the long-term vision, becoming overwhelmed thinking about how we are going to get there. It looks so far away, and there is so much to do, so we become paralyzed with fear and indecision. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you shouldn’t have a long-term vision. It’s essential to know where you are going, but it’s not always going to be along the path you expect. The more you focus on small accomplishments, the more you will open new doors to explore the adjacent possible. Over time, you will be able to connect the dots between the rooms. That’s when the magic happens and great ideas are born.

In the book Creative Confidence, David and Tom Kelley (founders of IDEO and the innovative Stanford d.school) warn that “the fear of failure is THE biggest obstacle to creative success”. They define creative confidence as “the ability to see your potential and your place in the world more clearly, unclouded by anxiety and doubt”. Don’t ever let fear or doubt trump your passion. Set a series of small goals and keep in mind that courage is the “accumulation of small steps”. If you waste time focusing your attention on a problem,  you run the risk of missing the opportunity hiding behind it.

Or, as the famous fish Dory once said, “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming!”

Here’s to exploring the adjacent possible.