I love my job. I do, I really, really do. I don't have a "normal" 9-5 job, I get to pick and choose my hours, my days, my weeks (all under the understanding that the more I work the more income I generate and the less I work the less income I get).
I still suffer from that monster called Procrastination.
(Just an aside here - there are some peeps who advocate for some Procrastination ... and essentially I have to agree with them, cause really, when you are daydreaming, or reading a book, or taking a walk, these are the times when your mind is ripe with creativity, so please keep this in mind when reading this blog post - SOME PROCRASTINATION IS GOOD!!!
Want to know more about why procrastination can be a good thing? Check out these groovy links:
Why Procrastination is Good for You.
6 Reasons to Procrastinate.
Even Marie Forleo has gotten in on the argument for some procrastination.)
Recently I was going through my emails and a question popped up in one of them, asking for opinions about good time management ... and I am sure, we can all agree that procrastination is the death nell for effective time management ... but, what if we factored in more breaks, more time for daydreaming, during our work hours, so much so that we actually get more work done with more efficiency?
A dream? A crazy crazy dream?
(Image from Claudia)
Time management is something I have always struggle with ... except for the most successful time of my life - my Paralympic Years.
I kid you not!!! My time management skills during my teens were beyond outstanding! My days, my weeks, my months and years were laid out in a time managed dream, with moments of focus, rest, and focus. Life was cool, calm, and collected, with me knowing exactly when and where I had to be at every point of the day, and it worked - my three Paralympic medals have to be a testament to that.
SO how did this happen? What made my time management so successful? AND how can this be implemented into work life, everyday life, your life?
Successful time management is as unique to you as your fingerprints. What works for someone else may not work for you, so you have to take it upon yourself to look at your habits, preferences, and body clock to see how you can perfectly fit your work and other things into your day.
So here are a few tips on how to successfully figure out the perfect time management plan for you.
1. For me, as a teenage swimmer, I had set activities that had to be fit into my day, including swimming training, school, and homework. Write down your set activities for your day, week, month. These are your starting points for structuring your unique plan.
2. Are you a morning person, a midday person, or a night owl? I am probably midway between a morning/midday person. As a swimmer this was slightly problematic as it was hard to be up at 5am!! But now, an 8am start is good for me, and then a fairly early night. So I start work at about 9.30 - 10am and try to clock off by 5pm (Unless I'm out speaking of course, and then my timings are up to my speaking schedule).
3. What is important to you outside of work? I like to make time for my friends, to go hiking, and do yoga. Sometimes, without proper attention to my time management these activities can get a little lost through work, so I have to keep on top of it, and even if I feel I am behind in email marketing, follow-ups, and blog post writing, I will still stop and do a yoga session, or meet up with a friend for coffee. Schedule time in for the activities that help to keep you sane.
4. When you have your hours set up for each day, break down the hours into segments, so that you have periods of intense focus and periods of relaxation and/or movement. As a swimmer my training sessions didn't just involve two hours of non-stop swimming. Each session ran to a plan, which involved gaps between each set, to allow for recovery, catching of breath, and a chance to guzzle some water. So think carefully about how you are structuring your hours of work.
5. With all of these things now being considered, plan out your weeks and days, placing activities at ideal times, but remembering that you have to allow flexibility in the plan. Remember to also have fun with your time - life really is to short, and it is nice to remember to slow down and let your day take you where it takes you sometimes, try not to get too hung up on keeping to a perfect time management schedule.
(image from flickr)
I attended my first session of a Cafe Psychologique last night in Leeds.
Cafe Psychologique? I hear you ask.
HISTORY LESSON TIME!!!!!
Back in the day when philosophers were still king, a certain arts movement started to create discussion groups in the Cafe's of Montparnasse in Paris. (A hug and a good luck wish for the person who guesses the correct art movement). They would gather in Cafe's and discuss life, love, art, journey's, destinations, passion, beauty, etc. However, it was the well known philosopher, Sartre, who put the Cafe Philosophique on the map. After WWII, Sartre held the discussions, which became known as "Cafe Philos," in the Cafe de Flore, opening up philosophical ideas to the general public ... or in this case, the taxi drivers and "ladies of the night" who inhabited the Cafe during the hours Sartre was there.
This was the inspiration for people in more recent times to take interesting ideas out of academia and into the general masses, to open up the wonder of knowledge and the power of storytelling to those who may not have ever had a chance to experience such delights. Cafe Psychologique is one of many groups that have started and flourished since the 1990's, engaging with people on a grass-roots level, encouraging discussion, encouraging openness.
I attended my first one last night.
the topic? SELF CARE AND MINDFULNESS.
What was interesting about this topic was the way that the people in the discussion interpreted the meaning of self care and mindfulness. Some felt that self care could lead to self indulgence, where you literally do 'nothing' as to do anything takes effort, emotion, thought, etc; others, like myself, felt that self care was more wrapped up in the mindfulness aspect, where you focus on the present moment, lose yourself in the moment, no matter what you are doing - but in being aware of yourself in the moment you can identify anything bad, not good, or disastrous that may arise in that process - i.e., running too much that you pull a muscle, eye strain from working at the computer too much, or even falling asleep during meditation and falling off your cushion (?).
I heard many differing opinions, and as Chris - the organiser of the evening stated, "all opinions are valid," and so they were. But this is my blog so I want to give you a little insight into how I think self care/mindfulness can help you on your goal journey.
When you set a goal it is expected that you will continue to drive yourself forward until you achieve that goal. In that process, however, it is highly likely that you will lose sight of the number one priority in achieving goals .... YOU! Self care and being mindful reminds us that we cannot achieve our goal if we are burnt out, injured, or dead! So what are some steps you can take on your goal journey to ensure that YOU are the main priority in the journey?
1. Live your goal journey day by day. Keep the end goal in mind, but recognise that you can only do so much each day towards reaching that goal.
2. Embrace some daily meditation, in whatever form that takes. Since I have started my yoga practice I have noticed that I am more likely to make space for a form of meditation during my day, even if it is just a few stretches and deep focused breaths for two minutes whilst I wait for the jug to boil. It is taking that time to make sure that I am stepping out of my mind, my thoughts, and am remembering that I only ever have this moment. I can then take this focus to my work, as can you!
3. Create a solid (yet fluid) structure for your day. Know what you have to achieve, but recognise that you may not get it all done, but that that is okay. Give yourself a cutoff point for work ... I always try to finish up work by 5pm (unless I'm speaking in the evening of course). Once that 5pm arrives I switch off the computer and RELAX!!!
What do you think about self care and mindfulness? What self care rituals do you follow? Comment below!
Over the past few weeks there has been this little sports competition that has captured everyones attention ... the 2014 Word Cup!!
Held in Brazil (only the second time it's been held in South America), it has proven to be a spectacle of epic proportions, with many favourites not doing as well as expected and other, not so well known football countries doing surprisingly well (like my own home country Australia!). However, it was the Germany v Brazil match that I want to draw your attention too. This semi-final was geared to be a top game, with Brazil likely to win due to the home ground advantage ... but no, it was a whitewash of German players outclassing the Brazilians ... i watched in amused horror as Germany first got one, two, then three goals, within the space of minutes, the Brazilians body language said it all - disbelief, horror, dare I say it, fear?!?
But this is where the problem lay for Brazil, the pressure obviously became too much and the much needed team dynamic and discipline unraveled in the face of the impossible - defeat.
And there was Germany, an obviously tight team, almost seemingly able to read each others minds, so in-tune with each other they were. With an efficiency the Germans are renowned for, they took control of the game, as a team, and kicked butt like no one has ever seen.
That is the clue, the step to their success, efficient team work.
(image from here)
On friday night I was invited to watch the Leeds Rhinos play Hull in Rugby League at Leeds Carnegie Stadium. It has been years (if not decades) since I watched a Rugby League match live. I was going for Leeds, of course, and as I watched the first half I could not believe it as no-one seemed to be scoring. In fact, both teams seemed slightly disconnected, missing obvious plays, and lacking in communication. When they went off at half time I though if they keep on playing like this then this could be the first time I ever see a Rugby League match end nil all.
As they came out to play the second half I noticed a perceptible change in the Leeds side. They seemed more relaxed, more in touch with each other as they made their way out to line up - this change was evident in the first ten minutes when they communicated themselves to an eighteen/nil lead over Hull. What a change to first half! They were talking to each other, directing each other, intuitively passing the ball to each other, suddenly they were in the flow, the stream of success and things were going their way. Sound familiar? Like a particular German football team that blitzed Brazil?
(image from here)
So, what is Germany and the Leeds Rhinos trick to awesome teamwork leading to amazing success?
1. They all know what they want to achieve ... as a whole. The goal they have is clear in everyones mind and because of this there is no deviation from the game plan, no ego's involved, just plain understanding of what each cog in the wheel has to do to get the required results. Simple really!
2. They bond like no-ones business. They communicate clearly with each other and will listen to all opinions, knowing that this is best for the team dynamic - no-one feels left out or disregarded, everyones opinion is valid and this fosters a relationship of trust and triumph.
3. Because they trust each other they can get a little creative in their plays, take a few risks, knowing that their team members will be there to back them up. AND whether the risk is a success or not, the team does not blame them, in fact they forgive, learn, and move on.
4. They give a hundred percent of effort, because the game isn't just for them, it is also for everyone else on that team, and therefore the responsibility is greater and something they take seriously. They do, however, understand that people can have bad days, but in recognising this they support and take up the slack without complaining if a team member is out of sorts.
5. They have a fantastic leader (or team captain) who doesn't let their ego get in the way of the team dynamic, in fact, they will often sacrifice themselves for the good of the team, knowing that the shared goal is more important than the individual.
Can you think of anything else that makes a great team? Let me know in the comments.
Hi all, how you been? Here I am with another inspired interview with a lady I had the privilege to meet at the Professional Speaker Association (PSA) and who has inspired me beyond belief, she is one amazing woman who has not let ill health stop her from anything ... in fact I think it's made her a much tougher and kick-arse woman then ever. Read on...
Describe your personal situation (i.e., disability, illness, caring responsibilities, as much as your comfortable with) and your business?
I live in a fabulous apartment in Leeds near Roundhay Park. Although I am classed as "terminally ill" by the medics, you wouldn't know it and I am keeping really well and enjoy working and socialising in equal measure.
My work is my speaking business. I use the name Nina Joy (Joy is my middle name) because I like it! I speak on two major topics - Who has got the remote control - to your life? which covers how to cope with massive challenge or change. The other is on Mind Body and Business, how to be healthy and deliver peak performance.
What motivated you to start your business?
After over 25 years in corporate life (working in financial services), I had the opportunity to take voluntary redundancy. I grabbed this with both hands, thinking that it was time to go freelance and do my own thing. Throughout my career I had delivered presentations, enjoyed connecting with people, and was told that I was rather good at it. So in 2011 my speaking business was born
How do you balance your personal needs with your business/work?
I make sure that I have play time as well as work time. I make it a priority to do things for me, and have a pretty healthy daily regime. Most weeks I will have a treat, maybe a massage or healing session. My ideal way to wind down is to spend time with friends and family and that's what I do evenings and weekends. Plus I love to sleep! I always make sure I have enough rest.
What is the toughest thing you have had to deal with in life/business and what got you through?
My toughest time was in the summer of 2012. Not only did I find out that I had breast cancer, but that it had spread to my lymph, lungs, liver and bones. This means it's classed as incurable. I was devastated. It seemed that my life was at an end, and all the plans I had wouldn't be fulfilled. However, I decided to take on this challenge and see what I could achieve, despite the awful prognosis. I have taken charge of my own health. I have learned a lot about cancer, and have undertaken a range of therapies, from the cutting edge through to the alternative. Now, almost two years on, although I still have cancer, I am well and carrying on living my life to the full, and building my business.
What is the most “WHAM BAM” exciting thing in life/business that has happened and how did you celebrate?
I suppose the most exciting thing is that I am alive, when the doctors thought that I wouldn't be! I celebrate by making sure every day I do the things I enjoy, and make being happy a priority. I can't take life for granted, and I don't. I feel so proud of what I've achieved - it is devastating to hear that you are "incurable". I wouldn't want anyone to feel as I did - hopeless and helpless. So I have written a book The Adventures of a Cancer Maverick to share what I have learned with other "Incurables". I want to show that there are many things you can do for yourself outside orthodox medicine, and that it is possible to live, and even to thrive, with cancer.
Which business/person has inspired you and why?
My initial inspiration came from my parents. My dad was in sales, and we used to talk about PMA (positive mental attitude to the uninitiated) over the dinner table. I remember him teaching me "you can if you think you can, and if you think you can't then you're probably right!" My mum was an incredibly energetic vibrant lady, and she had absolute confidence and unshakable belief in me. If ever I waver, I imagine her looking at me with those twinkly brown eyes, telling me " you can do it, I know you can".
The business people I admire would be Richard Branson, and Anita Roddick. I like that they remained very human, don't really care too much what others think, and believe that success doesn't have to be at the expense of others. They are both a force for good in the world.
Do you have any life/business tips you could give my readers?
Decide to be happy. Now. Do the things you love, that make your heart sing. And then do them some more.
Make yourself a priority - it is only when you are fulfilled and happy that you then have enough to take care of others.
Look for the good - in people, in life, in each day. You will find it by the bucket load.
Don't take life too seriously. A playful approach is a lot more fun
Hey Peeps, don't ya know it's been awhile since I have down one of my interviews of amazingly awesome and rad ladies, but here is my latest one, and boy is this chick inspiring, motivated, and showing us all how to kick our fears and anxieties in the butt! How? you might ask? By swimming the English Channel this year!! How mind-blowing, exciting, and extraordinary is this?!? Hazel is only 16 years of age, and has already achieved many inspirational swims in the past few years. So grab your cup of tea, pull up your chair, and get ready to read an incredible interview ...
Hazel, you are going to embark on an amazing journey in August next year – swimming across the English Channel – can you explain how you first came to the idea that you wanted to do this?
I started open water swimming around 5 years ago this is when I was completing the smaller swims such as 3k. I then found out that USWIM had a Channel relay going out that year and I was massively interested in making my challenge harder. We had long talks with coaches, successful channel swimmers and also family as it is a huge investment and also you have to be 100 percent sure you want to do it, it was the best decision I ever made and I cant wait for the day and for the rest of the other swims.
To swim the English Channel is a huge challenge and not a lot of people would choose to do it, just over 1000 swimmers have been officially recorded as crossing the channel successfully! How are you preparing for the swim and how do you envision the swim to be like?
When preparing for something like this you cant do enough of something. Practice makes perfect and you cannot afford to not practice or prepare something you think you wont need as you probably will need it. When you think you have enough add a few more because when your out in the channel there is no way of accessing more things which you might need, Preparing is a massive part of the channel challenges, everything has to be prepared and your crew need to understand it fully but you also have to practice; you have to practice failing, being sleep deprived, being hungry or not being in control. I have an idea of what I want my swim to be I think everyone would like the perfect swim with the 7am swim start and then swimming into the night or starting at night and swimming into the morning with the perfect conditions which would be the calm sea and being able to get into France without a fight but really we all know that wont happen. You go out when the weather and conditions are at there best
What equipment, assistance, etc, will you be using to help you cross the channel?
While I swim the English channel I will have a support vessel. Mine is Louise Jane with Andy King as my pilot for the swim. Andy has the final decision about everything during the swim and he is the only person other than me who can stop the attempt. I will also have a crew: a crew of around 6-8 people which so far include, My support swimmer and successful channel swimmer Ella Dunn who I have been training with for a few years, My dad as I have never completed a big swim without him, My brother to complete Social media I.e. updating face book, twitter and blogs and hopefully another one of my very good friends one who is also a channel swimmer and the other who crewed my two way Windermere in August this year.
You have swum distances before, what is the longest distance you have ever swum?
In one swim: it would have to be Two way Windermere which was 21 miles in 10 hours 50 minutes and then following that it would be the back to back 6 hour swims then 7 hour swims. I have also competed 6 x 6 hour swims ; you only need one 6 hour swim to qualify to swim the channel solo.
How do you prepare mentally for such a long swim?
Its just a swim.. you have to make sure you stay calm and fully understand what you are doing. There is so many other things that you cant control for example jellyfish, other wildlife, weather and the tides these are things you cant change or prevent so you have to be mentally prepared to be able to adapt; if the tide turns and your on the last mile to France you could be facing another 6 hours to get in and you have to be able to keep your mind strong enough to think “ yes I can do this” which after 12+ hour swimming could be a bit tricky or if you miss cap griz nez due to tides or your feeding times being too long this could add another 9 hours on to the swim as you would have to swim to the other side.
As a swimmer, when I had long, distance training sessions to get through, I would often sing songs in my head, particularly high beat songs, as I would set my stroke rate to the pace of the beat. Do you have any mental coping mechanisms that you use to get you though long training sessions and/or races?
All my training sessions are long, from 2 hours up to 6 in a pool and then the swims in open water could go on for 10 hours + so singing is definatley something that ALWAYS happens. I also spend a lot of time while training thinking which is not always a good thing but it depends what kind of day I have had. I enjoy thinking about things that have happened and being in the water they are no longer there, its just me and the water. Bit of friendly competition always keeps the session cheery so maybe racing a fellow swimmer or changing the sets a bit to keep it fresh helps. Overall the main thing that happens is I go into a day dream where I have my swimming pace and im kind of in the zone, this is when I use quotes such as “just keep swimming” or if I am finding the session hard I say to myself “you wont get to France if you don't do this” bit harsh but it works and it keeps my legs kicking and arms moving.
What is a typical training week for you? AND how do you fit your training in around you education and social life?
A training week starts with Mondays off for a rest day the reason for this is weekends are full of morning swim after noon sea/lake swim and then back in the pool in the evening so the Monday off gives my body time to repair itself. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday usually are one hour morning session before school and then 2 hours in the evening or in the summer/open water season Wednesday nights are at Salford and Thursday evenings are at a lake in Cheshire with USWIM. Weekends are usually spent either away from home training or Saturday in one place and then Sunday another sea/lake swim and then masters on a Sunday night. Fitting a social life around this is not easy and I cherish all the free time I get but mainly spend it sleeping or doing paperwork for the channel arrangements. My friends and family have understood that I am not available a lot of the time and they plan around me which I appreciate so much. When I have to say no to things it is hard and sometimes can make you feel down because your missing out but the social time with all the people I train with makes it worth it, the hardwork and achivement that comes out of training makes saying no worth it as well. I am not going to say that my education is easy to fit around my training or should I say my training around my education because it is not. In some cases it is not too bad as there isn’t as much work to do or there are no exams coming up but when im flooded with coursework or have to revise for exams it can get a bit tricky but it can also go the other way where I have to miss school to attend swims and do things due to swimming commitment. For example this year I was lucky enough to be part of a world record group who swam the Caledonia way in Scotland for pancreatic cancer but with this amazing opportunity I had to miss 6 days of school which is a lot of work to take or come back to, I do not struggle to complete all work or get my grades as training has been part of me since the age of 5 but missing the days do definatley make a difference to your knowledge and you just have to work extra hard when you return. On the other hand my school are massively supporting me and actually only found out how successful my swimming had become when I won 1st junior girl for the British Long Distance swimming in June but ever since then they have been behind me all the way and supporting me as much as they can over the next 8 months before the swim.
Is crossing the English Channel your biggest swimming goal? Or do you have other goals in swimming that you would like to achieve?
The EC swim is only the tip of the ice berg for me, its classed as the Mount Everest of the long distance swimming world but if I am successful in my attempt next year I will go on to complete the Oceans 7 swims. This includes swimming : Irish Channel, the Cook Strait, the Molokai Channel, the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Tsugaru Strait and the Strait of Gibraltar. Being a winter swimmer as well I am also in training to complete my ice mile in February which is a mile in waters under 5 degree.
If you could choose to hold a dinner party for the top three swimmers of all time who would you choose to invite and why?
I really cant decide with this as im actually lucky enough to know a lot of the best swimmers but if I had to pick it would be Lewis Pugh who is one of the most inspirational people I have ever known. Lewis the 1st person to complete a long distance swim in the north pole which was -0.3 degrees.
I would love to continue to help you out in any way I can Hazel, because I think what you are wanting to achieve is pretty special, so over the next year I would love to do occasional updates for my readers on how the crossing plans are coming. In the meantime, is there any particular support you are looking for or needing that perhaps, some of my readers, could help you with?
If you would like to support me with my swim your business / organisation might like to provide sponsorship for…
Free or discounted services, for example;
Entry to swimming pools / Open water venues
I also asked Hazel's parents a few questions about how they are supporting Hazel and what it's like to be the parent's of a highly motivated and big dreaming athlete ...
Mr and Mrs Killingbeck, thank you for letting me interview you and Hazel and to try and find out more about Hazel swimming the English Channel. Firstly, how do you feel about Hazel wanting to cross the channel? Was it a surprise, or is choosing big challenges such as this a usual thing for Hazel?
We are incredibly proud of Hazel for her decision to swim the Channel and all her training. It was not a surprise when hazel decided to swim the channel as we had discussed it in depth together and with her coach who at the time was actually down in Dover on the Manchester USWIM channel relay.
How will you be supporting Hazel in the lead up to the crossing and during the crossing?
I will be part of her crew on the boat which is a massive privilege as I will get to see first hand what happens and the whole thing.
Is Hazel the only swimmer in the family, or is it a genetic trait?
It is a genetic trait as I was a swimmer before I was diagnosed with MS. When Hazel was born we were very strict about making sure she knew how to swim just for safety reasons but Hazel began to compete and then took it further as she got older.
What advice do you have for other parents out there who’s children are setting great big dreams and lofty goals?
We believe as parents that you should allow your child to want to do as many big dreams in their life’s. Especially at a younger age like Hazel it is something they have for life the people they meet, them experiences that they will get to have like Hazel. Make sure they want it and make sure they work hard.
Wowee, what an interview, Hazel is one very special young lady, and she really deserves all the support that people can give her (and her parent's are pretty special too - supporting her on her big journey to English Channel glory). If you would like to support Hazel you can check out her blog, her MS fundraising page, or her twitter feed. Please get behind her 100%, we, as a society really need to support young people in whatever their dreams are and help them succeed, because it is youngin's like Hazel that are our future!
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright