The One Thing all Disruptors Do.

Choice. It goes hand in hand with freedom.  Most of us associate having a choice with the ability to say “yes” or “no” or some variation in between.

Choice also refers to how we think.  The freedom to think in ways that serve us or harm us.

The one trait that all disruptors have – people who challenge the status quo – is the that they dare to create original and new content.  They choose not to accept things how they are, and disrupt that status quo with original thought and ideas.  They actively, intentionally choose how to think and filter incoming information accordingly.

The freedom to think and choose is about taking all of the incoming data, inputs, opinions and what else arrives from the external world, sift through it and then use what serves and aligns with our values, and discard that which does not. A disruptor is also someone who dares to step outside of the box and offer a different way of seeing things, which is risky, scary and sometimes dangerous.

I choose to be a maternity leave / early motherhood disruptor.  I choose to take in information, filter it, choose what works, discard what does not, and I work to be aware of alternate ways of thinking.

A great example is one of the most common things that people say to me every.day.  I choose to be a bit of a shit disturber and have them think twice about this common phrase.

Someone will ask me how old my children are.

I reply, 3 and 1.5 years.

They shake their head, pity in their eyes.

“Oh wow. That must be soooooo busy.”

Half of the time, I don’t tell them I work full time as well.  I feel like based on that initial reaction, it might be too much! And I’m already not particularly interested in hearing all of the reasons why that is hard / scary / challenging /sucky.  Because I don’t see it that way.

Sometimes I like to be mischievous and go for it, and maybe while I’m at it all drop the bomb that I also write and run a coaching business.

Pity sort of, well…. it usually turns to horror.

“Oh my god. How. Why?!?!” something along those lines.

Here’s where the disruptor bit comes in.I choose not to look at things the same way.

If I focused on how busy and overwhelming life with two under three is, it would create some pretty powerful self-limiting beliefs and barriers.  “I couldn’t possibly focus on anything else right now.” That’s what I would tell myself.  If I worked and focused on childcare costs and the logistics of it all, well, it would be not very… helpful.

“I couldn’t possibly focus on anything else right now. Look at all of these barriers. My lief is busy! hard! maxed out!” That’s what I would tell myself if I listened and bought into external influences.

The thing is though, that doesn’t work for me, my life or my goals.  I’m not saying it is a bad belief or wrong, it just doesn’t serve me. 

I choose to be liberated in my thinking. I choose to see things in different ways because we do have a choice. My days aren’t busy, they are so ridiculously fulfilling and exciting. I’m not dropping half of my paycheque on childcare and rendering my work futile, I’m exposing y kid to exciting things and a social life and activities, and in turn I’m enjoying professional development growth and adult engagement.  It’s a win-win. Not a lose-lose.

As a mother there is a very, very powerful motherhood dialogue out there – in media, advertising, even in mommy groups.  Too busy. Too overwhelmed.  Unable to balance life (can’t keep up with all of the jobs and roles). Struggle (I’m alone in this).  Hardship (isolation, the difficulty of mommyhood). It sucks. (sleep deprivation- how could you possible survive it and work?!)  Fear (not spending enough time with my child because of work, quality time, tv time over play time)  – gosh all of those dialogues are so, so prevalent.

If I listened to all of those, all of the time, and bought into them, my potential would be wasted.  Lost to self-imposed barriers and harmful thinking.

Choose to be an outlier, choose to be someone who sees the positive in everything.  Choose to get away from the average or status quo.  Disrupt.  Know you have a choice in how you think, act and talk.

Then, go and watch this 12 minute video of Shawn Achor at TED talking about the outliers and positive psychology. (he is also incredibly hilarious.)

And go disrupt, mama. March to your own drum.  Listen to that which serves your goals. Think for yourself.  Set an example for other new mothers, mothers like me that look for “things that are great about being a parent” or “why it’s easy to work and have children” – because I know I have googled those, and I wasn’t able to find the voices or the blog posts that told me all of this is possible. I stumbled around, tried it out and discovered it for myself, but there needs to be more voices out there encouraging, inspiring and disrupting.

 

The Strangely Mixed Experience of Using my iPhone Less Often.

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Last month, I undertook a project, to reduce my iPhone usage by 50%

I actually have a university class to thank for this.  This semester I have been teaching an academic strategies & learning / study skills class.  I’m fine if my students are nodding drowsily, or perhaps fighting heavy eyelids, but in one area, I was not  fine.  Blatant iPhone usage – screen up, covering the lower half of their face – while I was talking to them.  On human-talking-to-human basis it just wasn’t cool.   Instructors vary on their standards around this and I hadn’t set standards at the start of the term – a newbie mistake.

As the weeks passed and a few  individuals continued their iPhone ways, I had a realization; this must much be what it is like for my kids when I am on my phone – especially when they ask me a question.  I’m just not there. 

I wound up privately conferencing with those students in my office and stopped the habit in its tracks by connecting with them on a human-talking-to-a-human level, rather than an instructor-student level.  But, it also led me to reflect on my own habits. If I am telling others to improve their habits, well, I’ve got to walk the talk as well.

Sure, I choose to be on my phone, and most of the time it is with intent – and I believe every person deserves a break.  I wholeheartedly agree that as a parent you do NOT have to be “on” all the time.  People at jobs get breaks, and so should people doing the hardest job at all – parenting.  Even if it’s a micro break like a quick scan of social media during the kids’ naps, or a quick moment in the kitchen, standing by the coffee, waiting for it to finish brewing.  With kids they are micro breaks, but a break is a break.

Goodness knows doing that in the kitchen or on the toilet has allowed me a much, much needed break from the emotional maelstrom of a three year old and has given me a chance to recompose, stabilize my own response and come back into the situation with the calm confidence that they need in that moment.

Before cutting down on iphone usage, I spent some time recording what I spent my phone time on, and each time I put the phone down, I’d think, “was my precious time worth that activity?”

With beginning to pay this closer attention, I began to ask more questions: What exactly I was getting from my Instagram & Facebook feeds? (my go-tos) I realized I was leaving disappointed, not particularly relaxed, or annoyed (especially during the US election aftermath.)

Was this really a beneficial use of my ten precious minutes?  That hard earned break, a delicious feet-up moment with a cup of tea?  No.  The random Buzzfeeds and Instagram sponsored posts which proliferate my IG feed were so not worth that valuable time.

Feeling unfulfilled, I further resolved to use my phone less.  First, around the kids – who try to get at it and then squabble over it.  Second, around myself.  I started forgetting to charge it at night on purpose, and would just leave it in my handbag along with my work tags and keys (I had to use physical strategies.)

In all honesty, during the first week of reduced phone usage, I found myself wondering what on earth to do with a break. I genuinely worried that I would just not take breaks and fill them with even more to-dos, or chores, or something equally “un- break-like.”  I did notice one frustrating day that I was simply replacing a well-earned break with laundry.

I felt lost, sitting there, feeling quite irritated, if I am honest, that I didn’t have my little reward and even more frustrated that I was likely to replace it with work.

When emotions arise, it is a great opportunity to dig deeper and address where those emotions were coming from. It’s a chance to determine exactly what we say to ourselves. What I was telling myself?  “if I don’t take my phone break I won’t be able to have a break because I’ll just replace it with work and I deserve a break and grrrrr.”  Cue another astounding realization.

Aside from using my phone, I couldn’t remember what a break entails.

I had defined breaks around iPhone activities and was at a loss as to alternatives.

The last two weeks have been fascinating because I’ve had to work at “relearning” what a break is without a phone.  Slowly, I began to rediscover things.

Reading a magazine (which re-trained my focus, from scrolling through a feed in 3 seconds, to making it through 10 minutes of an article)  Meditating (that thing I always put off but know I should do.)  An act of creativity.   Having a nap (!)  Reading a fiction book.

At first, all of these activities didn’t feel like a break, until I gave them a chance.

Then, I realized that after these activities, I came out of them a better person, and in a better mood, than I ever did using Facebook or Instagram during most of my microbreaks.

I decided to title this post “The Mixed Experience” because I sit here, genuinely much less interested in my phone these days, and feeling quite free from iPhone habitual use / dependency, yet, in all honesty, it’s a mixed bag of results.  I feel so-so about that.

With vastly reduced iPhone usage, you wind up putting it down.  It is not on your body.  You miss texts and calls.  I’ve learnt there is a fine line between being liberated from the smart phone and being labelled a “terrible texter” or “bad communicator” – people do notice when their family or friends are less available or accessible – and they definitely let you know!  I’ve received comments from family or friends (mostly good natured) about how slow I am to get back to people  It is true – I’m only getting back to them once the kids are in bed, or at my lunch at work.  I respond most often hours after they texted me.

But on the other side, it’s lovely.

With two toddlers underfoot, I don’t have a lot of time to engage in a conversation and I did feel uncomfortable texting entire conversations with the back of my phone to their faces.

Ultimately, you have to decide on your own comfort level and look at your own values and preferences. There is no right or wrong approach, only what works for you.

But the experience is so mixed in my mind. There are also genuinely useful and educational apps, and social media can be designed to work for your life goals, rather than just show you others lives in process (and the highlight reel at that.)

Yes, I spent a lot of time on Facebook and IG,  but for the most part they are carefully curated to reflect people, groups, causes that stand for the life I am working towards (I’ll do another post on that.) That being said though, a lot of crap seeps through based on sponsored posts and data mining, I am of course, a 30-something mother so you can guess the content that gets pushed my way.

AND I still of the strong opinion that hard working mamas of all types DEFINITELY deserve true downtime where they don’t have to learn, don’t have to be ‘on’ for everyone, and can just entertain themselves.  I don’t watch any particular show on TV so I felt a bit of resentment working on removing the social media to the extent that I did.  I’ve reintroduced it but now limit it to specific times of the day.

I feel really good overall, about not using my phone half as much as I did around my kids, and plan on keeping it that way, “bad communicator” joking aside –  but I fully, admittedly enjoy the downtime and will continue to enjoy my phone as a nice break and will scroll the shit out of my social media and continue to use the phone as my quick downtime moment. I don’t regret going through the process – it was fascinating and helpful having to find other ways to occupy “break time” for a few weeks there.  It made me realize that it is far too easy to lose perspective and forget that breaks take on many forms and there is life outside of the iPhone.  I’ve tried to continue many of those breaks, which are iphone-free and now incorporate them as part of a more balanced “break diet,” so to speak.

I’ve love to hear what your perspectives are. Remember, there are no rights or wrongs, only our perspectives which are shaped by our greatly varied history, culture, families, experiences, values and backgrounds.

 

 

The Passion Planner is one of the Greatest Time Management Products I’ve Seen for Busy Moms.

The other day, a student in my office introduced me to the Passion Planner.  She seemed surprised that I did not know what it was (luckily my students keep me up to date with the times!)   I AM SURPRISED I did not know about it!

The moment she pulled a beautifully inscribed journal out of her bag, I knew it would be right up my alley. I am a huge proponent of analog methods of time management (not to replace, but to complement digital methods.) However, I did not know how many great things were inside the pages until she showed me.

The passion planner is a fantastic combination of two important components of time management: It has a tactical component (day to day execution pages – with weekly and monthly calendars, personal & professional to do lists)

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And a strategic component.  There are pages for passion roadmaps and concept charts for 1, 3 and 5-year plans incorporating SMART goal setting principles.  Tips abound and plenty of space for creative brainstorming.

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Smart time managers are also adept at another practice:  They reflect.  The passion planner also allows for that, with a monthly reflection at the end of each month with prompt questions.  The monthly reflection has you think about whether you stayed true to your priorities, how to improve, what successes you had and where you feel gratitude and a sense of accomplishment. It is a nice balance between celebrating success and identifying areas of improvement.

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If you have a journalling or time management enthusiast in your life, this is perhaps the best Christmas gift you can get them, ever, along with a set of fantastic coloured pens 😉 Especially for those returning to work from mat leave, or setting a new year and new priorities for what they want to get out of their maternity leave – or out of their busy lives which include motherhood.  The sacred space to plan, reflect and assess is one that we are all too often missing in the busy days of motherhood, and is perhaps one of the most beneficial gifts we can give to a mother 🙂

http://www.passionplanner.com/

I have mine already on order & can’t wait to show you what I do with it!