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.

concept

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.

monthly-reflection

 

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!

 

 

Babies are the Best Thing To Happen To Your Time and Daily Schedule.

 

Most of us have been unwilling (and unconscious) participants in a popular dialogue.  “I’m a mom!  I don’t have time!”  We just buy into it and assume its the truth, right?   And then we get to the newborn stage and think my life will never be the same again.  It’s like deer in headlights stuff.  What just happened? 

Tell someone you have two babies:  “wow, you must be busy!”  or you tell them you are working and have two young kids – they shake their heads in disbelief and mutter under their breath “have fun with that.”  Then you wonder if you are making a massive mistake, if it’s truly possible.

Before I even had kids people would hush their voices, grab my hands and whisper, as if disclosing a deep dark secret.  “your life is over.” (Okay maybe not that dramatic but their tone conveyed this hidden message.)

I came into motherhood literally bracing for a vortex.  A giant black hole into which my time, my previous life, and my identity would get sucked into. Oh my, it was scary. I was bracing.

To be sure, the “fourth trimester” – the first three months of babykins’ life – are this endless loop of feedings, naps, diaper changes and cooing over a miracle, and googling like you’ve never googled before.  And crying.  Lots of crying  But… BUT…once you get your groove, slowly, ever so slowly you begin to do little things again.

Stand in the kitchen and sip a coffee.   Watch netflix.  Read a book.  Go out for a quick date with your husband.   Paint your toenails (oh yes, believe it!  Those 7 layers of crusty sparkly stuff from your pre-baby life will be removed – it happens!) Laundry.  You get to this stage where you sit down at the end of the day, feet aching, bracing yourself for the night shift, yet you think “shit, I am more productive than I HAVE EVER BEEN BEFORE.”  You, my lady, are a machine.

The argument I am going to make here, is that HAVING CHILDREN IS THE BEST THING THAT COULD POSSIBLY HAPPEN TO YOUR TIME.

A pretty absurd statement isn’t it?  I am sitting here on my laptop, struggling to stay awake at 9:54 pm, but I am telling you that how you use your time will be transformed, and you will use it ore effectively than you ever have before.

Is this shocking? When you are hurriedly showering hoping your little humans don’t  destroy something (or themselves) in the living room upstairs?   Or while they are howling downstairs in the bathroom from their car seat / swing / whatever restraint device?  I hope it does feel a bit shocking.

But hear me out mama.  I speak from two mat leaves, and the future.  

I’ll tell you a quick story.

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I work with olympic athletes.  If you think you are busy, let’s talk about olympic athletes who are studying at University.  Swimmers.  Swimmers are some of the craziest of that lot. 5am swims.  Quick breakfasts.  a full day of university classes.  Back in the pool early afternoon.  Another session early evening, if not dryland training.  Somewhere in between there, eating and recovery activities such as massage (don’t think this is relaxing massage, it’s terrible, I’ve use an olympic team masseuse and it redefines torture) – and rehabilitation if they are injured.  I didn’t even mention part time jobs in here.

Yet, when I work with these people, they are the people who have the best attitude about time.  This group, who have almost NO downtime, can tell me without hesitation how they enjoyed their downtime, and are quite dialled in on their time management! It comes down to the age old phrase of “quality over quantity.”

Olympic athletes are not that much different from us new mamas.  Limited downtime.  A physically, mentally, and emotionally exhausting job that goes from the crack of dawn to well past sundown.  They have maybe an hour of downtime in their days.  I know this, because I literally map out their schedules with them as part of my coaching profession. I also map out schedules with new mamas as a professional coach, and the short bursts of free time are not all that different.

What we can learn is when we have just one precious hour, one delicious break where we sit down with a sigh, feet aching, we are that much more mindful of the beautiful but short break we have. More so than we have ever been before.

Remember the days spent on a couch, 10 hours passing by with only our hunger telling us to get up and go to the kitchen?  There’s no time to waste time away anymore.  I don’t ever hear a mom say “just killin time.”  NOPE.  If there is an hour of free time, the mums I know are strategically planning out the best use of that.  Maybe it’s laundry.  Maybe it’s making a meal. Maybe it’s some kind of critical budgeting or administrative activity.  Maybe it’s (equally important) sitting down or having a nap.  No drop of time is wasted.  It is planned and used with intention.  And that occasional glorious break? A glass of wine? A magazine?  We remember those moments.

I challenge you to remember one moment drinking a glass of wine in your house ten years ago, versus one moment doing it now (probably chugged because you’re not sure when the baby will wake up, haha.)  We savour that which is sacred.  So much more.

And this, is why I think children are the best thing to happen to our free time.

We are so much more conscious and intentional with it.

I was chatting with a friend the other day about my instagram feed.  I do enjoy social media and it is part of my wake up in the morning routine.  I get my housecoat on, sneak into the lounge before anyone is awake, sip coffee and wake up.

I know I only have 30 minutes to do this.  I want to make sure I use those 30 minutes well, and a few months ago I thought “wait, why am I wasting this amazing break on useless shit on instagram that doesn’t help me?” so I’ve pared down my social media to 25% of the accounts that I followed previously.  Most of the accounts I follow now are connected to a greater meaning.

They either give me ideas or inspire me to work towards the vision I have for my life, the lifestyle I am working toward, the goals I aspire to, or remind me of the values I hold.

I’m sorry random online business hustler taking selfies with hot women – I’m not giving you a few minutes of my attention.  My time is too precious.

That which is limited, we value even more.

Think about anything in your life that you love.  If it becomes limited, you appreciate it even more.  It’s true.  Try drinking just one coffee a day and then come back and tell me how much you appreciate that one cup of coffee. 🙂

When the quantity decreases, the quality increases.

Your downtime may have literally decreased, but figuratively you have gained so much more.

Will you take advantage of that?  Or continue to pine for that which was in the past?

 

 

The Basic Gear You Will Need for Your Baby (A Somewhat Minimalist and Gender Neutral List)

This blog post came about as a side-project. After I read “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, I went to town on everything we own in our house including everything I had accumulated over a year with a baby.

When our 2nd baby came along, I had been able to pare down everything and keep the most important things, which are on this list.  It made a huge difference in the feeling of overwhelm and reduced our clutter.

I followed both Lucie’s List and Pregnant Chicken, which were awesome. I can’t recommend them enough.  Add yourself to their mailing list.   They were fantastic to learn from.

I pretty much bought everything they recommended because I had no idea what I was getting myself into with my first baby.

What motivates me to provide a gender neutral / minimalist list?  

I HATE accumulating too much stuff.  And it happens really  quickly with kids. Clutter and “stuff” stresses me out. My goal is always to own items that I use at least once a week.  

I found the process of acquiring baby gear SO OVERWHELMING. There’s an entirely new vocab.  I bawled my eyes out twice. Picking out a stroller and picking out a car seat.

It wasn’t fun for me, even when it was just pinning on Pinterest.

People loved telling me what I would need and every time, I would answer with “What the hell is that?”  – Clueless.

There is no possible way to guess what you’ll need until you’ve gone through it, so this list is written with the knowledge of hindsight and is really written in a “advice for dummies” way because I was a dummy myself and had no f*cking idea what a jumperoo or a swaddler was.

Most of these items are gender neutral (read: Can be used by multiple children!)

 

Blanket #1

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Aiden & Anais Cotton Muslin Lightweight Swaddle Blankets

Swaddling is a word, and a magical art all in one.  That I did not learn until discharge day at the hospital.  Then the Aiden & Anais Swaddlers alllllllll made sense.

The cotton muslin gets silky soft the more you wash it, and these patterns do not fade.  Gender neutral too.  These wraps are wonderful to wrap up those go-go-gadget arms and legs, as well as cover the car seat, cover the stroller, cover your boobs for a feed – all sorts of things. They are nice and large.  There’s a reason people always buy these. They are just so multifunctional!

They’ll fit your baby from newborn up to 9 months.  I also used these blankets to lie on the ground for diaper changes (no need for a diaper pad) cover the stroller, cover the car seat, on planes, as a feeding / pumping cover by tying around my neck, and as head support in the car seat.  I STILL use them here and there.  These come in a pack of four, which I’d recommend – it lets you keep one in the car, one in the bedroom, one in the stroller and an extra put away.

aden + anais Classic Swaddle 4-Pack Twinkle

Blanket #2:

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This is a very large light fleece blanket that has travelled the world with us.  It’s been brilliant as a blanket for my kids and myself on planes, for picnics and beach time, and also as a make-do-tent on planes, by clipping it in the fold up seat tray.  It’s my  go-to for the stroller in cooler weather or as a blanket on cold nights.  It hasn’t pilled or lost its softness despite a gazillion washes.

Babies can get way too hot in fleece blankets, which are generally too thick and warm, but they loove snuggly blankets.  So this one is perfect.

Bonus is the fact that it is $2.99 at Ikea.  Seriously, best $3 I’ve ever spent. I’ll keep using this for myself.  Great couch throw.  Gender neutral colours also.

Ikea Link:

Krakris Throw Blanket Ikea

THAT’S IT.  NO MORE BLANKETS. YOU ARE DONE.

But sorry friend, you’ll get like 100000x blankets.  And stuffed toys.

People loooove buying you stuffed toys.

 

CLOTHES

You may have seen on Pinterest the “capsule wardrobe” concept.  Essentially, you pare down your wardrobe to a few high quality neutral items, which are mixed and matched with accessories.

This is a technique that greatly reduces clutter and simplifies life. If you apply this technique to your baby’s clothes it is a game changer!

LONG OR SHORT SLEEVED ONESIES

Invest in long sleeved body suits in neutral colours.  White, tan, grey, black. Whatever your preference. Buying them in four-packs is economical, working out to $5 each.  I have been impressed with Carters’ as a brand.

“>Carter’s 4 Pack Long Sleeve Baby Onesies – White

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It’s a little boring, isn’t it? Just buying super plain clothes.  But here’s where it gets fun. My life was changed when I bought a few Hug Me Sew Bibs from Etsy.

DROOL BIBS / DROOL SCARVES

I tried out a few brands and these are the best quality.

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These are cotton (fleece on the underside) bibs that you put on your little drooler.  They catch all of the drool, save you from doing an obscene amount of laundry, and all of a sudden you are accessorizing that simple onesie with a variety of adorable bibs that are way cheaper to buy than a bunch of clothing.

Hug Me Sew Drool Bibs

PANTS / LEGGINGS

Here’s a sample of a 2 pack you can buy in neutrals for a boy.  I tend to recommend Amazon for everything as I’ve found their prices cheaper.  You can get great deals in stores though, so if you love shopping (me) stop in when you are out and about – otherwise, Amazon will almost always be a better deal.  I also tend to recommend Carters or Baby Gap because they seem to hold together and resist fading better than other brands.

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Carters Baby Boys 2-Pack Pants Grey & Navy

WINTER BABIES

If you plan on going outside for walks in winter (I did a ton and am so glad, it kept me sane,)  just go for a “bunting bag.” I know, wtf, all this strange language right?  You learn a whole new vocab with a baby.

And again, go for one bigger so they last longer in it.  Make sure it has ears.  It is outrageously adorable and enjoyable looking at a baby bear in a stroller.’

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Carters Baby Bunting

ACCESSORIES

Babies  don’t need shoes until they walk, but they do need some kind of foot covering.  Especially if you are Canadian and will spend any time shuffling babies around in the cold weather.  The other thing I learnt is no matter what you put on those feet, the little mastermind creatures somehow get EVERYTHING off.

That is why I love Padraig knitted booties.  Yes, they are expensive.  I balked at the price and didn’t buy a pair till my 2nd born.  But here’s the thing. You buy a pair in the 6-12 month size and they are going to last your kid an ENTIRE year.

It doesn’t matter that they are too big when they are little…  it’s not like they are walking, and if they are in the car seat, or strorller, they are covered with a blanket anyways.

Hand crafted & stitched, you are supporting local business and you can throw them in the wash. Win, win and win.

Padraig Knitted Baby Booties

MISCELLANEOUS

I had no idea how tiny and blocked baby noses become.  If they get a cold, it’s actually quite stressful VERY STRESSFUL watching them struggle to breathe.  New parent trauma I’m telling you. lol.

I’m going to horrify you with this recommendation but a snot sucker is the best & fascinatingly disgusting thing you could possibly put in your medicine cabinet.  It’s absolutely disgusting yes, but it does the trick.

Especially if you “pre spray” your babies’ nasal cavities or drop some slightly saline water in there (which they’ll hate by the way.)

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After trying at least 5 different brands, I finally got the best one and man, does it work a thousand times better than any other.  Don’t go for the shitty $6.99 turkey baster style snot sucks in shoppers. GET THIS ONE:

Nose Frieda Snot Sucker.

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Baby Bottles & Pump (So many brands.  Personal preference. They all do the same thing)

Other useful additions to the medicine cabinet:

Gripe Water

Camilia Homeopathic teething drops

Baby / infant ibuprofen and acetominophen

A baby bottle cleaning brush * I just gone one, 2 kids later and wonder on a daily basis WHY THE HELL I did not get this sooner.

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Other miscellaneous items:

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A portable travel crib (lots of brands.  Personal preference = Phil & Teds travel crib)

A stroller (needs its own blog post. My favourite of 4 brands is still the Bob Stroller.)

A portable high chair – not necessary until 4 months.

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A car seat

A baby carrier (so many brands.  Personal preference = baby bjorn carrier one)

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A baby swing / “baby bouncer” **This is key to being able to cook and drink coffee.

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Toys

Each baby had different preferences with toys, so the requirement for this section was that both kids had to L-O-V-E both. These toys progress really nicely in age from 0-4 months, then 4-8 months, then 9 months plus.  These three items were a life saver for being able to prepare dinner and generally function as a human being!

Yes these start to take up a bit of room but these three toys provided endless entertainment when all other toys’ novelty wore off.

Also, if you are going for minimalist for the love of god don’t let people buy you stuffed animals.  They add up VERY quickly and babies never seem to want to play with them.

Activity Arch 0-4 months

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Exersaucer 4-8 months

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“Jumperoo” 8 Months+ *

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*my toddler still tries to climb in this.

Building a Business on Maternity Leave: Know When to Stop Learning and Start Taking Action.

Why Read This:  If you struggle trying to find the balance between learning, reading, taking courses – and taking action – this post will help you focus & clarify.

This is part of my series on building a business while on Maternity Leave.

Reading Time:  3 min

The Internet in 2016 is VERY exciting.  It is possible to choose yourself, rather than wait for a company to “choose” you.  You can build a business based on being yourself, instead of  changing yourself to meet someone else’s expectations.

The Internet provides you with all of the information you need to build a business online. While working full time or on maternity leave, you can at the very least build the foundations.

Here I am on my second maternity leave, building the foundations for my business(es) (yes I have a few – go big or go home, right?)

Why There are a Shit-Ton of Coaches out There:

What you will begin to notice, as soon as you start “liking” coach pages, or communities, or groups, and start learning about building a business, is that there are TOO MANY TEACHERS AND NOT ENOUGH STUDENTS.

It is good money to get into the business of “teaching” others.  That is why everybody is some kind of “coach.”

The thing is, anybody can research and develop their own curriculum.  I have completely self-taught myself how to build a business using a combination of podcasts, bloggers, facebook groups, pinterest and instagram.

Knowledge is a big business.  People make big money off of collecting knowledge on the internet, reformatting it, and then selling it to you.    What I want to write about today though, is the caution you need to exercise.

Before you Pick a Coach or Take a “Course”

There are two elements you should receive from a good course:

1.) Knowledge and information.  Do they really know their stuff?

2.) Proper Coaching:  For example, do they provide you with the ability to address your own obstacles, how to tackle the demotivation, the head games you play, etc.

And Most Importantly:  Do Not Get Caught In The Knowledge Acquisition Trap

  1. Every.Single.Resource that you will come across as you build your business is not “free” – because they are trying to create an addiction in you – an addiction to acquiring more and more information.  It is so easy to keep buying books and courses, and not actually take action and do the hard work.  It’s why of 100 people in a course, 20 will actually launch successful businesses, and 80 will not.  But the other 80 will keep coming back and buying products.  That’s great for the “Coach” or “Teacher.”

I finished my professional coach training 1 year ago and I could have happily continued just “learning” and reading coaching material.  But the deepest learning, growth (and progress) happened when I finally started DOING IT.  Taking action. Forcing myself to jump in and work with clients and have my calls evaluated by an International Coaching Federation board.

Knowledge acquisition is a super hard habit to kick, especially when EVERYBODY is throwing knowledge at you.  Much of it is free (as long as you give them your email, which is a way to get you engaged and create a potential paying customer out of you.)

I Did Take One Online Course… Once….

The only money I have shelled out is a one-time “building an online business” course run by Penelope Trunk.  She sold me on it. I loved her blog.  I spent $100 along with at least 50 other people (!)  I did take information from the course but I also took this:  Holy shit: I can do a much better job than this.  I also realized that much of the knowledge is either common sense, or the same principles recycled over and over.  Also, much of it is intuitive.

Most business owners know the information taught in these classes.  Most business owners do not take step #2:  Put it into practice.  This is where the real reward is.

Kick the Learning Addiction with Analysis:

Needing to know everything before you start is what we call an enemy of growth.

So how do you kick the addiction to learning, the feeling that “I can’t do this until I learn to do that.”   “I need to know this before I can start that.” How do you separate and become the 20% of success stories?

You undertake an analysis to understand how much of your “to do list” is LEARNING and how much of your “to do list” is ACTION.

Here you can see an image of the current “To Do” list that is on my mind with my business:

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS

Lots to do, right?

Next, I need to analyze what is going on here.

WHICH are learning items?

WHICH are action items?  

**I highlighted the action items in orange.

TRAJECTORY COACHING TO-DOS (1)

Once you have done this, you can then address the balance.

LEARNING VERSUS ACTION:

What are action items I can take right now, that will get me closer to my goal?

Which learning items will have the most immediate impact on my business and how much time do I want to allocate to getting things done vs. learning.

Budget your Learning:

I make room for ONE new learning topic per day, to avoid information overwhelm and to avoid getting off track.  Today I learnt about using better hashtags on instagram.  That’s it.  That’s all.

Have an Information & Learning “Dumping Ground:”

If I come across other articles that pique my interest, I keep a “brain dump” board on Pinterest called COACHING where I save articles for later.    Learning is my candy – I LOVE IT and it is motivational.  But I’m addicted. So I need to partition it out as a reward.

I have future podcasts saved in my overcast app under “to listen.”  I have great infographics or web services I can used saved in my pinterest folder.  Great quotes or articles saved in Evernote.   I extract them from my memory and put them somewhere external, so I can dedicate my willpower and motivation to action items instead of learning.

Willpower is very finite (and quite variable) so every precious drop needs to be conserved for the more challenging aspect – getting shit done.

 

I am currently reading the NY Times Best Seller “The ONE Thing” by Garry Keller http://www.the1thing.com/  and there is an entire chapter dedicated to the taking action piece.  What stuck with me last night, as I read it, and designed this post was this quote, which I’d like to leave you with.

 

“The secret of getting ahead is getting STARTED.  

The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks

into small manageable tasks.

And starting on the first one.”

-Mark Twain

 

What I Learnt from Laura Vanderkam’s Book I Know How She Does It – And How I Became more Productive on Maternity Leave

What You’ll Learn:  Some of the best things I learnt from the book I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam – and how I applied it to maternity leave.

Reading time:  5 minutes

This is part of the Great Maternity Leave book club series, where I share some of the most influential books that have shaped 2 great maternity leaves so far. We all have 168 hours in a week and there is so much diversity in our daily schedules. It doesn’t matter what we do with our time, just that we are doing it with mindfulness. With this post I hope to contribute to a larger dialogue on maternity leave and living it with intention.  Using our time on this earth to do something.

Laura Vanderkam’s book was a fantastic opportunity to address my time use and shift the way I look at things.  Below I will outline some of the key points that I took away and how they translate to real life.

The Points That Shifted my Perspective:

I often mention that in coaching, that to take different actions you must experience a shift in perspective. That creates lasting change and lasting results.

I had several ah-hah moments with this book that shifted my perspective, for sure.

Did you know:

From Monday to lunchtime Thursday is only HALF of the week?!  

How does that land with you?   Think about that.

On maternity leave I lose a bit of my day / time awareness, but as a working Mum, this one point revolutionized my perspective.  It is so easy to write off Friday-Saturday-Sunday as “weekend” and be less intentional with our time and how we use it.  Knowing that an entire half of a week is left on Thursday has influenced me greatly.  I am much more of an active participant in deciding what to do with the second half of my week rather than just writing it off as weekend and haphazardly finding something “fun” to do with the kids.

A Constant Reminder That Flows Through My Life After Reading This Book:

Through a comprehensive analysis of mothers’ schedules Vanderkam nails home the point that you can either haphazardly gather up the scraps of time left over in your day, or start the day with clear intention and mindfully assigning chunks of time.  And in those chunks of time are tasks that get you closer to your goals.

She also draws a clear line between busy work and growth work.  These are my own unique terms for them – which I’m trying to come up with at 5 in the morning, lol – so bear with me. I’ll explain.

On maternity leave my little guy sleeps about 2-3 hours in a day.  Multiply by 7 days and that is 14-21 hours a week, where I can have some say in what I do.

For sure, there is housework that is routine and that will always be there.  But I also need to decide what I am going to do with that time that will align with my goals for the future.  I also resist the temptation to do housework which is not going to last (ie: cleaning the living room in the middle of the day when I know I’ll be doing it again at night when the toddler is in bed.)

Even if it’s just 1 hour of each day, am I taking that one hour and getting myself closer to where I want to be?  Or am I filling the time with something else?  

This perspective has helped me a TON. When I feel drawn to an activity in a spare moment of time, I ask:  Do I straight up need some downtime, or shall I use it to get me closer to the vision / goals I have for this mat leave?  I go through this quick decision making process each time I switch activities.  The goals are below.

Some of those days are just coping / napping / sleeping, because on materity leave the wind changes direction and we must adjust the sails.  Last week with teething and very little sleep for either of us, I had to reduce my blogging and just get through it and nap where I could.  It was a temporary pullback from growth activities.  That is okay too.

But the key is readjusting the sails after the windstorm to get back on track to the destination and travel toward the port of call you want to arrive at in 2016.

Here is my own Port-of-Call / Destination:

-Continue to dedicate 5 hrs / week to my online jewelery shop as a steady income source for trips.  My goal is to pay for one trip this year.

-Build the “bricks and mortar” foundation of my coaching business (online presence, brochures, contracts, worksheets, materials, etc.)

-Add a voice of “growth, confidence and self-identity” to the dialogue around maternity leave.

-Being present with my children outside in nature

-“Date” my husband again

-Cultivate my close friendships & be a supportive listening ear

-Reduce my body fat percentage through gluten free, paleo-style eating

-Fall in love with running again

A key component of getting to my destination is the “fuck yeah or no” approach which I learnt from Derek Sivers.  Open this in a new tab and save it for reading.

I Practice saying “fuck yeah” or “no” to every “ask” I get – if my reaction isn’t an excited “fuck yeah” I say no.

Laura mentions in her book that we all have 168 hours in a week.  If you can practice saying no to things that aren’t important, you would free up a ton of time and “feel like the millionaire at Safeway.” I’m not actually sure what she meant by this, but I assume it means feeling pretty good.

The result of this practice is you wind up with more free time and less “busy time” filled with auxilliary projects.  I like these “underbooked weeks” – I feel like I am not a slave to my calendar. As a P in the MBTI Types I naturally rebel against that anyways.   It’s a pretty cool feeling being able to embrace life as it comes and take up things that align with my goals and are simply part of the grand experience of being alive.

I carry that list with me, both in Evernote on my iPhone and in a journal in my handbag (I use iCal as well as an old-school journal.)  I have it memorized, and check in with it constantly – in each decision I make in my day.

Especially in the morning as I decide what I am going to do with this beautiful time on this earth.

Tell me, what are you going to do with your time on this earth?  What is your maternity leave port-of-call in 2016?

 

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The Great Maternity Leave Projects:  Never Forget to Take Vitamins – Using Charles Duhigg’s Book The Power of Habit

Yes ,this one is straight from the original GML Project list in my lovely little journal, which I have kept to this day.  It was one of the first tasks I undertook and it really has a soft spot in my heart.

In order to accomplish this, I had to buckle down and study the science behind habit and really dig into psychology.  Little did I know that reading this book would change my morning routines forever.

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I was on a plane to London England, and picked up this book at the airport (I believe books choose YOU so I always buy them when I am travelling or randomly in a bookstore.)  I just happened to be thinking about creating a multivitamin “habit” and boom, come across this.  Sometimes the universe is not so subtle.

 

I highly recommend this book and if you do not have the time to read the whole thing, cover to cover, Charles Duhigg has a very comprehensive website.  You can also use the amazing app Blinkist to read all of the latest releases in 15 minutes or less (what I do!)

What really nails Duhigg’s points home, are the examples.  I started a book club section on the Great Maternity Leave Project, and will be following up with a more detailed big post on this book and what I took from it for maternity leave.

(Most of the books I read involve business examples – but they are easily translatable to maternity leave, so that’s what I do for you! )

 

So how did I manage to hack my own brain’s habit loops and make the multi-vitamin as automatic as having a coffee in the morning?

HABIT ANCHORING + HACKING THE HABIT LOOP.

Our brains are very intelligent and will make as many routines as possible a habit, so that can dedicate most of its energy to sorting through information and thinking through tasks like decision making and critical analysis.

So when you get up and do routine things, make a coffee or tea, habit.  When you check your phone.  Habit.

Habits get taken over by an older, deeper part of the brain. Did you know that? Me neither.

That is why bad habits are so hard to break. 

That’s why this book was so fascinating.  I liked the smart science and research in it.

 

But we are talking about forming good habits here.

Pick a habit you already have, a routine which is almost automatic for you – you wind up doing it subconsciously.

For me it’s coffee, for sure.  It’s literally the first thing I do after I put on my housecoat.   It’s automatic. I go to the kitchen, get the grinder going, assemble my aeropress and we’re off to the races (or blogging in my case.)

 

Duhigg Proposes the Habit Loop.

Cue + Routine/Habit + Reward

So, I decided to

1.) Hack the Loop

2.)  Anchor the habit to another good one I have.

 

Here’s how I did it.

Cue:  Getting out of bed & feeling tired

Routine/Habit:  Coffee cup on table. Making coffee before anything else

Reward:  Coffee + I love relaxing with my coffee and writing.  Both enjoyable  (I linked those two habits at an earlier stage.)

 

Remember, the habit I wanted to build was to add multivitamins to my day.

ANCHORING THE HABIT:

I anchored it by having my multis RIGHT BESIDE my aeropress / coffee maker.  The visual cue could just NOT be ignored.  And I know I will NEVER forget to have coffee.  So by anchoring multivitamins to coffee, I know they will never be forgotten.

HACKING THE HABIT LOOP:

I thought about how powerful the coffee habit loop is, that I have above.  So I decided to use the same loop principles.

BEFORE:

Cue:  Getting out of bed & feeling tired “I need coffee.”

Routine/Habit:  Coffee cup on table. Making coffee before anything else

Reward:  Coffee + I love relaxing with my coffee and writing.  Both enjoyable  (I linked those two habits at an earlier stage.)

 
AFTER:

Cue:  Getting out of bed & feeling tired “I need coffee.”  Addition:  I did research on how having healthy micro and phytonutrients helps with energy ,and began to reframe them as another form of “coffee” for my body.  I began to use feeling tired as a cue for good nutritional practices.  I also looked at nutrient depletion in post-partum women to strengthen my resolve to rebuild my body’s stores.  

Routine/Habit:  Coffee cup on table. Making coffee before anything else.  Addition:  I put my multi-vitamins in a cute little le creuset espresso cup, right beside my coffee cup! Taking them happens before anything else, AND I get a nice glass of water in before hitting the coffee.  

Reward:  Coffee + I love relaxing with my coffee and writing.  Both enjoyable  (I linked those two habits at an earlier stage.)   Addition:  Meh.  There’s no intrinsic reward to taking fish oil and glucosamine sulfate and multis…  so this one not so much.  But the other TWO stages were hacked.

 

And that my friends, is how I NEVER forgot to take a multi-vitamin again.

 

While you are on the topic, you might enjoy this read on hacking your morning “energy” and mindset – by by shifting your Instagram or Social Media habits.