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A guest post by Romée Jager

Do you also feel overwhelmed and overloaded before the day has even started? Then don’t worry, you are not alone. It is 7:30 AM and I started working half an hour ago. Even though it is only the beginning of my working day, I already feel that I am way behind on my tasks. I am staring at my screen and scrolling through my emails, opening a few, marking them as unread again and giving them a colour code. 

I feel overwhelmed and do not know where to start. My solution? Preparing myself a cup of coffee. While the smell of fresh roasted coffee beans reaches my nostrils, I think about how to structure my tasks for the day ahead. 

I am wondering why we ‘’only’’ have 24 hours in a day and I start wondering whether I will make it in time for my dinner appointment, as I will probably have to work late again. I feel like my mind is going in a downward spiral and suddenly I remember something that Angie Weinberger once told me: ‘’it is not that we need more hours in a day, instead we should prioritize better’’. 

I mean it would be great if somebody could invent a time machine and could double the time we have in a day. But let’s face it, as the time machine is not invented (yet), we need to find ways to boost our productivity to simply get more done in the time we have. 

Manage your Energy

If you enter ‘’Improving Productivity’’ on Google more than 226 million results pop up including many articles providing productivity hacks. We already provided your Angie’s seven productivity hacks.

However, when implementing those tips it is fundamental to consider your biorhythm. Knowing your chronotype is key.

Instead of just scrolling through our emails and randomly doing some of our tasks, we should carefully reconsider when we do certain tasks in order to increase our productivity. According to Daniel Pink, international best selling author of six provocative books about business and human behavior, big chances of performance can be seen depending on time of day. Therefore, instead of just doing our tasks randomly, we should carefully plan and structure our day. Our day is divided into three periods of productivity that Pink calls: Peak, Through, and Recovery. 

As you plan your day ahead, you need to consider your different periods of productivity. Do you recognize any of the mentioned productivity periods? Consider when you are in which productivity period. When do you have the most energy during the day? 

During which part of the day are you the most focused? Try to identify for yourself the different levels of productivity during the day and plan your tasks accordingly. Personally, my peak time is during the morning until lunch, therefore, this is the time for me to do some highly focused work. After lunch, my productivity drops and I see myself scrolling through my emails again. 

As I already had three cups of coffee, it is not the time to get another one. Instead, this is the time for me to start on the administrative tasks and routine activities. During my ‘’Through’’ period I start feeling that the ‘’Recovery’’ is coming and I move to more creative and insightful tasks again. 

Everybody has their own subjective understanding of chronological time. 

How to get started

Maintaining a Have-Done Diary could be a great help to recognize how you use your daily time and to give you an understanding of when you are focused. When you have identified your different productivity periods, the next step is to plan your tasks accordingly. After a while you can see your productivity skyrocketing and your pile of work slinking. 

As a consequence, you can peacefully shut down your work computer and feel satisfied. You can even plan your tasks for tomorrow already. You can now be at ease and can attend the dinner parties with your loved ones. You might even sing along with the radio while driving home, because you got things done! You come home and your mind is where it needs to be, present in the moment. 

If you want to learn more about timing and our hidden patterns then we recommend you to read the book ‘’When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing’’ by Daniel Pink. 

Do you find it challenging to identify your productivity periods? Or do you feel that you need to reset yourself again? Then our RockMeRetreat from 18 to 25 November 2021 is for you! 

During the RockMeRetreat we will work on boosting your productivity. Hopefully, once you come back from this week you will feel refreshed and inspired again and ready to tackle whatever challenges arise. Does this sound interesting to you? Then you can sign up here to be invited or Angie will be happy to set up a meeting with you to discuss your participation. 

About the Author

Romée Jager is the Academic Intern at Global People Transitions. She loves travelling and is passionate about exploring new cultures. As a soon to be graduate in Intercultural Management, she considers herself as an interculturalist. She has been working in a Dutch governmental youth panel for over 7 years where her aim was to give the youth a voice in the Dutch political system. She believes in continuous learning and is passionate about exploring and doing research. She wrote her master thesis about Defensive Nationalism and is interested in furthering her research. She is wishing to pursue a PhD in social sciences. 

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Entsorgung

“Experience is, for me, the highest authority. The touchstone of validity is my own experience. No other person’s ideas and none of my own ideas are as authoritative as my experience. It is to experience that I must return again and again, to discover a closer approximation to truth as it is in the process of becoming me.” – Carl R. Rogers, On Becoming a Person, 1954

When I was a teenager, we had set meal times and would actually sit on a table together at least twice a day. Our family brunch on Sundays would often lead to a conversation about a “problem”. My dad was studying to be a Carl Rogers client-centered therapist at the time and I am not sure if he sometimes tried to use a questioning method or if he was just very skilled in giving me and my sister the space and safety in which we could just “let it out”. 

Having this kind of open environment in which you would be able to talk through anything is a family tradition which we still live with when we are together. Even though my dad and sister have left this earth already a long time ago, my mum, my aunt and I often sit down and just talk through anything, we love to analyze why a person shows a certain behaviour and how we can solve relationship issues. For me, this is so normal that I sometimes need to remind myself that it is not at all “normal” but rather extraordinary, especially in the German context. I would assume other families have a stronger discussion around political topics, money issues (how to save it) or even more mundane topics like sports.

I, on the other hand, have realized in a conversation with friends that sharing problems and openly talking about feelings, insecurities or areas of your life where you might not feel like “Wonder Woman” could be misinterpreted or it could come across as if you don’t really know where you are going. 

Which is funny, because right now I feel completely safe and on the right path of my life. I have a strong sense of alignment between my strengths and my life’s work. Insecurities of artistic types are normal because we expose ourselves to critiques a lot more often than the average business professional but most companies also train people to use other words than “problem” or we are not allowed to use words such as “drama”. 

It took me years to weed out the “corporate speak” in my writing and even a word like “alignment” creeps me out a bit as it feels “corporate”. This year during a meditation I chose the word “Roots” for my word of 2021. Solving problems is one of my roots and hence I wanted to share four beliefs behind problems with you.

Problems remind us of Math in High School

When I think of problems I think of my favorite math teacher (who also died rather young) and his gigantic triangle. He had the outer appearance of a garden dwarf but he was a great math and physics teacher. He even made me like physics at some stage. In math we had to solve problems all the time and sometimes this would cause stress. I can’t remember this from school or university but I know that I personally don’t like those psychometric tests which are sometimes still used in banks and consulting firms to weed out candidates. The classical IQ tests focussing on calculations in your head can be stressful if you grew up using a calculator. “Being bad with numbers” is a common stereotype of women and often used against women. I’m concerned that women might often not be “bad with numbers” but with the pressure of solving a mathematical problem without using EXCEL or without a calculator and under time constraints. If you take this into consideration with a bit of practice and a good teacher every math problem usually is solvable. And this is exactly what I mean with a “problem”. It’s a riddle that is complex and will need time, practice and different angles to be solved. Do you like crossword puzzles? Could you imagine an upcoming “issue” or pickle to be approached like a crossword puzzle? Write down all the pieces, paint a picture and see if a solution shows up.

Problems seem to be too complex to solve

Sometimes solving problems alone is not possible. Problems might seem too complex to solve. You might have a machine in front of you and you always follow the same steps and always end up with the same error messages. For this kind of problem you either need Google or you need to ask someone who understands the machine better than you do. You need to potentially try several times and several different approaches. You can write down what you did to solve the problem, you can ask a bot for help or you can ask around in your network. Maybe someone else has encountered the same problem and has a solution or a workaround. My advice is usually to break the problem into smaller tasks or to paint an image to understand the components and how they are interconnected. Are you confronted with a problem you cannot solve? Which steps have you taken and tried already? Would it be time to ask for help? If you aren’t getting help, should you escalate the issue to the next level now? What is at stake? Can you allow yourself a bit of discomfort?

Problems harm our “Wonder-Woman” self-image

Having problems is often associated with shortcomings and hence harms our self-image of being a perfect “Wonder Woman”. However, this self-image also creates a lot of harm, especially when life isn’t perfect. For example, when I was in my thirties and forties not being able to get pregnant, nor holding my marriage together in two locations with two careers was a real problem. Up until then I was living in this illusion that life was planable and that all you had to do was to take action and be a go-getter. I might have exaggerated this a bit too much since I lost half of my family rather early in life. I probably thought “okay, from now on I will just plan this better.” (I really love plans, spreadsheets and to-do lists.)

Life isn’t like that and during my coach training I learned to accept that. I also learned that you cannot change other people, you can only change yourself. And do you know who is really a “Wonder Woman”? It’s a woman who loves herself anyway, despite the failure of her body at producing offspring, despite her failed marriage and despite the stain on her top. Ask yourself if you could accept a little more each day and what it would take to “be yourself”? What does it mean for you? Maybe start with a small change, like wearing a different outfit or letting your hair down.

Problems could show us a dependency we are not happy about.

Often a problem is a conflict of two or three different interests pulling into different directions. It can also stem from opposing beliefs and constructs of reality. If we cannot seem to solve a problem alone we might feel dependent and many of us don’t like to ask for help. It’s a common stereotype that men don’t like to ask for directions. However, I don’t like to ask for directions either. Mainly because I have a hard time differentiating left and right sometimes and again asking for how something is done best could show a weakness of sorts. Are you afraid to ask for help? Are you unhappy to depend on a colleague, a mentor or a friend? If so, ask yourself why that is? What is so shameful about asking for help?

Problems are here to guide us on our past. Obstacles are learning opportunities and pain is useful. Approach your day with a small problem you wish to solve and add a weekly practice to your RockMeApp around solving problems.

If you feel overwhelmed with a bigger problem and you don’t know how to ask for help or who to turn to, maybe it’s time to talk to me about a coaching program or the RockMeRetreat. Please reply “Magic” to this email and we will make an appointment for a free consultation of 30 minutes.

Guest post by Jacqueline Vicario

Some say Feng Shui is the Chinese art of arranging the furniture in your home. But I can assure you, as a certified Feng Shui consultant (FSS), it really is so much more! It’s all about your own energy and where you put it. What does this have to do with spring cleaning? It’s simple: The outer order reflects your inner order. Meaning: If I am unhappy with myself and the world, or feel tired and worn out, my home usually looks like a bomb has struck with things lying around everywhere. After I clean it all up again I always feel so much more satisfied than before. I now feel ‘clean’ inside and am ready to conquer the world again.

Winter is a time of rest and darkness. It is the last season in the lifecycle, representing stagnation or even death as everything slows down and freezes. In those days I get lazy and love to curl up in a warm blanket on the sofa and do as little as possible.

Once the days get longer and temperatures begin to rise the yearly lifecycle starts all over again. Spring is the time of birth and growth. What better time to turn new ideas into projects? But before I can start my new projects, I want to get rid of the old dirt and all the unwanted, unloved stuff. This is where my spring cleaning comes in.

Remember how my outside (the home I live in) represents what my inside looks like? I admit that during the winter I put things into drawers just to have them out of the way quick. After a while this disorder starts to irritate me. It’s now time to do something about this mess!

Then I realize there is soooooo much to do, but where do I start? When I think about it I get overwhelmed, don’t know where to start and end up doing nothing at all. I feel like I will never ever get it all done, that it will take me forever and right now I just don’t have time for this…

Here are some tips that really help me get started with my spring cleaning:

1. I start small and decide to do only one thing at a time.

If I decide to clear out only one drawer today (not the whole commode!), then I usually get it done, because the goal is reachable within a short amount of time. Usually the energy comes while cleaning and if I have time to spare I continue and do another one and another and before I know it it’s all done. If I don’t have the time I just do the next drawer the following day.

2. Throw away the things you don’t love anymore

When going through my stuff I find all sorts of things, that I had forgotten about and I ask myself:

  1. Do I still love it?
    Yes = keep it / No = on to the next question (valid for all questions below)
  2. Does it raise good/happy memories when I use it or look at it?
  3. Will I ever need it again?
  4. Will I miss it when it’s gone?

If I say YES, I find a good place to put it and go on to the next thing.

If the answer is NO to all these questions, then into the trash it goes. Sometimes the item still looks new and I am reluctant to throw it out, then I either sell it on eBay/Tutti.ch etc. or ask around if anyone can use it or who may love to have it.

3. Sort out your Wardrobe

The same goes for my wardrobe. Here I ask myself the following questions:

  1. When was the last time I wore this? If it was more than 2 years ago out it goes
  2. Do I feel/look good when I wear it? If not, out it goes.

4. Treat yourself after reaching the set goal

After I finish cleaning out that one drawer or my wardrobe, I treat myself to a nice little break. This could be a cup of tea on the sofa, or 30 Minutes of reading in my favorite book or just put my feet up for a few minutes and congratulate myself.

Clearing out old stuff gives me space and energy for new things and ideas. Cleaning up is actually step 1 of my professional Feng Shui advice. Before you rearrange any furniture or paint any walls its important to clear out unloved and unwanted things.

If you are interested in learning more about Feng Shui or wish to have a professional Feng Shui consultation, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can also visit www.fengshuiprincess.ch.

Looking forward to meeting you and happy spring cleaning!

Kind regards

Jacqueline

Jacqueline Vicario

Jacqueline Vicario
Dipl. Feng Shui Beraterin FSS since 2013

Jacqueline was born in New York, N.Y. USA to Swiss parents, who were interested in iGing and Feng Shui.  Raised half in Switzerland and half in the USA but calling Switzerland her home for the last 30 years. Works as an Administrative Assistant and Feng Shui Consultant

FSS = Feng Shui Schule Schweiz

I just looked at my diary in shock. Lucy, our holiday lights will be lit in Bahnhofstrasse on Thursday. My agenda is full of evening events and the dentist popped the question first for 2017 “Do you already have all your Christmas presents?”. I think, he was kidding. Mid-November, who has Christmas presents already? Is that a thing?

 

It’s high time you and I discuss the secret to managing the year-end.

Maybe it is obvious to you but the secret to managing the year-end and every other transition phase is to take small steps, baby steps actually.

 

Most bigger projects in life such as an international assignment with a move to another country or a move to a new company seem stressful because we are trying to tackle everything at once.

 

Transitions force us to change and do stuff in a different way, which our whole body resists too. (I’ll spare you the long explanation but you can read about cultural transition phases if you like.)

I used to feel overwhelmed when trying to create more space on my laptop BUT two weeks ago, I had been to a coaching retreat where I reprogrammed my brain. Then I approached the laptop issue step-by-step. (@TK, no, I still don’t read instructions…I still go intuitively).

 

I updated my dropbox, so I can move the photo library to my bigger Mac. Then I cleared space for old files. Then I finally updated the laptop. Then I used a program called Gemini to find duplicates and now I have 19 GB free space and can work on the road again. (Not literally the road but when I am traveling.)

What we are trying before the Christmas holidays looks a bit like my laptop pre-retreat. We are trying to stuff more activities in the same amount of time and then our system blocks and goes into overdrive- We either explode or despair.

One of the qualities of Switzerland is planning. Here, we schedule in advance so that all processes can run smoothly and without clogging. Sometimes this feels very slow. When you come from an action-packed, high activity country, you might get impatient.

 

I had a hard time adjusting to planning for at least two years. Then I finally accepted that this is the way it is and since then I plan my lunches four weeks ahead. I take the next appointment for the hairdresser while I’m still sitting there.

Yes, this is the way the rabbit runs in Switzerland (literally translated from a German proverb).

You probably wonder how to take those baby steps. I recommend first of all that you start planning 2018 by buying a physical calendar that shows the whole year. You can already enter your industry events, vacation, seminars, and other long projects. Anything you already know you committed to. Also special days such as anniversaries, birthdays, children’s vacation where you probably won’t work a lot.

Then buy a pack of colorful post-it notes. Split your whiteboard into five sections for the time until the year-end. Write down headers as Week 47 to Week 51.

Now, add three post-its of the same color of the most important projects you have to complete in each week. You should come up with your 15 main professional priorities. I would suggest you use pink for those but it’s up to you. Then take a picture and send it to me. I will continue to explain next steps next week.

Have a productive week ahead (and start buying those Christmas presents).

 

Kind regards

Angie Weinberger

PS: Sign up on our mailing list, if you wish to receive information about the RockMe! Retreat 2018

Powerbreakfast #1

In March I had the honor to talk to a group of highly motivated female entrepreneurs at the #Powerbreakfast of the Powerhouse Zurich (Follow @Powerhouse_ZRH).

A key quote they selected was “Your Mood defines your Business”.  I know that mood can be influenced and as an intercultural executive coach I help you to reach a state of “relaxed attention” from where you can follow through your plans while at the same time keeping your energy level. However, being an entrepreneur I can tell you that I also sometimes fall out of my state of relaxed attention into either creative-overengaged–workaholic or phlegmatic-I-cannot-deal-with-all-of-this-at-the-same-time (staring into the empty space as if I was looking at someone). 

I had to accept as a manager, leader and business owner that there will be times when I am losing it.

Did you ever feel like you lost the overview, lost the focus or lost yourself?

Usually this is the time where I consult either my male coach or my female coach (depending on what I need). No, you are not calling your father or your mother, because honestly when you are beyond 40 you deal with this sh** professionally. And then once you paid your 350 CHF per coaching session and worked out your limiting beliefs and a few not-very-helpful-behaviors you get back on track. And then (whoo-hoo) success flies at you at rocket speed. (It’s true…after every crisis my business takes a leap).

In my talk on 5 March 2015 I went through nine rules I have developed over the last three years of running my business Global People Transitions GmbH.

They have been kindly summarized by Mirka Schaller in this one-pager. Let me know if you have questions.

 

Powerbreakfast #2