Episode 81: Needing to Get Closure (And How You Actually Don’t)

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Needing to Get Closure (And How You Actually Don’t)

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Needing to Get Closure (And How You Actually Don’t)

We often think we need closure on a situation like it’s a vital part of the human experience. But my hot take here is that you don’t actually need closure on anything. Needing closure is just a thought you’ve practiced on repeat your whole life, and now, it’s time to understand the truth about it.

When having “the talk” at the end of a relationship or after being let go from a job, the person you are talking to might believe there is closure. But even though there has been a discussion about what happened and both points of view have been shared, you may still feel as though you haven’t had closure. Nobody is actually wrong either way. Closure is totally subjective, but is thinking you need closure from somebody else serving you?

Tune in this week to discover the truth about closure, and why you don’t actually need to get closure from anyone else. I’m showing you why closure is a matter of your thoughts, not your conversations with others, and if you still want closure, I’m showing you how to give yourself what you’re craving.

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I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. At the end of October 2023, I’m selecting five random listener reviews and giving a prize to each of those reviewers! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Some of the reasons we think we need to get closure.
  • Why you don’t actually need to get closure.
  • Where closure really comes from.
  • How you might be unknowingly depriving yourself of real closure.
  • My favorite thoughts to try when I’m feeling like I need to get closure on something.
  • How you can give yourself closure without needing to discuss it with anyone else.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 81. Today, we’re talking all about needing closure, and how you actually don’t. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach Olivia Vizachero.

Hey, friends, how are you? I hope you are doing well. I am really excited to dive in to today’s topic. I have what some people might say is a hot take on closure. So, I’m excited to introduce you to it, and to talk about it and go through some examples.

Before I do that, this is the last week of the giveaway that I’m doing for reading and reviewing the podcast. So, get in there, go leave me a rating and review. Tell me what you think. If you’re loving it, tell me you’re loving it. I can’t wait to hear your feedback.

I’m going to pick five. Not just one, but five reviewers, and I’m going to be giving away prizes, okay? They’re going to be good, because I like to give good gifts and not just mediocre ones.

Part of my self-concept, which I talked about on the podcast a lot, is that I am a good gift giver. I promise to over deliver if you go ahead and you do me that kindness, you go do me that favor. So, thank you so much in advance. Get those in there so I can pick a winner, and hopefully I pick you.

Okay, without further ado, let’s get in to the topic of closure, and really, whether or not you need closure. So, the hot take here, is that you don’t actually need closure. That is a thought that people practice and rehearse… One that we learn from other people, too. We hear a lot about it in movies. We hear it from other people, “Oh, I just need closure.”

But you really don’t. You don’t need closure. If you’ve heard me on the podcast before, you know that I like to say there’s only ever five things that you need to do: Eat, drink some water, sleep, breathe, use the restroom. That’s it.

If it’s not one of those five things, you don’t need to do it. So, you don’t need to have a conversation in order to get closure in that situation. you don’t need to have the talk; you don’t need to hash it out. You also don’t “need” closure yourself. I’m going to talk about that in a bit. But you don’t need closure.

It’s also always going to be an opinion that you hold whether or not you have closure. Like, you can decide that you don’t have closure. Someone else can decide that you do have closure, and no one’s right or wrong. It’s just a matter of opinion. Closure is subjective.

So, you get to decide, is the situation that I’m currently living in, is that closure enough for me? Do I actually “need” closure? And what facts would need to happen in order for there to be closure?

Thinking through that, here’s what I want to introduce to you, it’s what I want to offer you. The situation that’s been eating at you, the one that you think you need to have a conversation about, where you talk about what happened, where you explain your side, your position, your point of view, you think you need to have that talk.

But you’re wrong. No conversation is “needed” at all. All right? Now, I’m using air quotes. You can’t see me of course, but I’m using air quotes every time I use the word “need” because we don’t actually need closure, even if we tell ourselves that we need it. You won’t die without it.

You won’t die if you don’t have that conversation. You won’t die if you don’t get that thing off of your chest. If you don’t convince them. If you don’t get them to come around and see it your way. If you don’t explain yourself to them. If you don’t defend yourself to them. You won’t die. Okay? So, we don’t “need” to have these conversations.

Now, you might want closure. And you might be thinking that you need to have a conversation in order to get it, but you don’t “need” to have a conversation in order to get closure.

It’s easy to think that the conversation is what brings the closure, we hear that all the time. But the conversation isn’t actually what creates it. You know what brings closure? Your thoughts. Remember, circumstances don’t cause your emotions. Okay?

So, however you think you would be feeling when you “get” closure, that feeling… That’s the only reason we crave closure is because you want to feel a certain way, a way that you don’t feel right now. And you think that having the conversation is what’s going to create that feeling.

But that’s not how our emotions work, they’re not caused by facts. They’re caused by our thoughts about facts. So, you have the conversation, and then you would give yourself permission to think different thoughts. Then, those new thoughts would change the way that you’re feeling and give you that sense of closure, whether it’s feeling at peace or something like that.

So, think about it. That situation where you’re really craving having that conversation, you’re craving closure. What would you be thinking if you had the conversation that you keep telling yourself you “need” to have? Go ahead and find those thoughts.

Find the thoughts that you’d be thinking. Once you’ve said your piece, then find the feelings that you would finally get to feel if you were thinking those thoughts right now. Feelings, like I said a moment ago, feeling at peace, feeling acknowledged, and everyone’s favorite, feeling understood, the conversation doesn’t create those emotions.

Saying something to someone isn’t going to make you feel those feelings, it’s going to come from your thoughts. And you don’t need to have a conversation in order to cultivate those feelings, because you have the ability to create them for yourself with your thinking, with those thoughts. So, what would you need to think in order to feel those emotions? I want you to take a second and find those thoughts.

I think the most amazing thing about learning this is that you don’t need closure. And that if you want closure, it’s something that you can create for yourself, another person doesn’t create it for you. A conversation doesn’t create it for you. You create it with your thinking.

You can get access to those thoughts right now. There’s nothing standing between you and changing the way that you think about the situation. So, when you think, “How would I be thinking if I had the conversation that I’ve been craving? That I really feel like I want to have? That I “need” to have?” Of course, you don’t need to, you won’t die.

But if you were to have that conversation, what thoughts would you gain access to? Would you be thinking, “I’m right. I’ve said my piece. I’ve said everything that I have to say. I’ve said everything that I need to say. I feel complete. I am complete. I’m putting the situation behind me now. There’s nothing left for me to do.” You can think all of those thoughts right now.

I also want you to take a look at the thoughts that you’re thinking that make you feel deprived of closure, that have you craving the conversation. What difference do you think having that conversation would make? What would change if you had it? Do you think that you would change their mind? Do you think that they would come around and see things your way?

That typically isn’t what happens in these situations, and then you actually don’t get the closure that you’re seeking, you still feel unsettled. So, identify the thoughts that you would be thinking that would drive you to have this conversation, that make you feel compelled to have this conversation, and see if you can change them.

Rather than, “I need to explain myself,” think, “I don’t need to explain myself.” Rather than thinking that things would be different if you said something, if you got this off your chest, choose to think that things won’t be different, no matter what you say.

If you’re thinking they’ll finally understand you, that they’ll come around and they’ll see things your way, and that’s driving you to have this conversation, change your thoughts. Choose to think that they won’t come around, that their opinion and their stance is their stance, and they’re unlikely to change it based on whatever you present to them. Because they’re coming at it from their perspective, and you’re coming at it from your perspective.

Are you telling yourself that it shouldn’t end this way? That it’s a shame that it ends this way? That it should end better than this? If you’re thinking those things, you’re going to try and recreate a different ending, but it’s not changing the ultimate result, that the situation is coming to an end.

One of my favorite thoughts is, “Things don’t end on a high note. If they ended on a high note, they wouldn’t be ending.” Now, I don’t tell myself that thought in every situation. I actually think that my legal career ended on a high note. Because the last case that I handled, we had a really amazing outcome in, and I knew it was going to be my last case. I wanted it to be my last case for that reason.

But I don’t think that with relationships, I choose to think it’s going to end on a low note, otherwise it wouldn’t be ending. So, let’s talk about a few different examples where people crave closure, and they pursue it, they seek it, they chase it, really, to no avail.

A big one, the most obvious one, is of course breakups. I was actually just talking to a friend of mine who is going through a breakup, and she was really seeking closure because she just really can’t believe that this is the last time that she’s going to talk to the person that she was in a relationship with. That the last time she talked to them will be the last time that she talked to them.

And what I really see is as long as you’re craving this conversation you’re really preventing yourself from experiencing closure. You’re prolonging the time between you and the closure that you want to get.

What I explained to her is, “That even though you really want to have this conversation, where you tie this beautiful bow on everything, that’s not actually going to create closure. The breakup is the closure. You don’t need to have a conversation. You don’t need to talk about why things didn’t work out. You don’t need to talk about what was great about the relationship.”

You don’t need to do an evaluation with the other person. You don’t need to tell them how they hurt you. You don’t need to tell them what didn’t work, what they should have done differently. You don’t have to do any of that to create closure. The breakup is the closure. Silence is the closure. Moving on with your life is the closure.”

Same thing when it comes to quitting jobs. I work with so many of my clients, that upon quitting they want to go in and do this debrief with their management and talk about all of the things that they didn’t like about working there, and all of the things that the employer needs to change and do differently.

How they’re doing things wrong, and they could be doing things better. And if only they had done things differently and better, then they probably wouldn’t leave. But they’re already leaving. They’ve already decided to leave. What’s the point of having that conversation? Right?

You don’t need to go into your boss’s office and tell them how they’re toxic, and explain how they’re doing everything wrong, and tell them how hard you worked for them, and that they didn’t appreciate you. You don’t have to do any of that.

Quitting is the closure. Moving on with your life and going on to a different career, a different job, working for yourself, whatever transition you’re about to do, that’s the closure. The distance is the closure. All right? Cleaning out your office and moving on with your life is the closure.

Same thing with ending relationships, ending breakups, ending friendships. One of the best decisions of my life has been to end one of my closest friendships. It happened two years ago, and I had been unhappy in the friendship for a while. It wasn’t feeling like a fulfilling, rewarding relationship to me. I was a little resentful. I was often annoyed. I didn’t like how I was feeling. I didn’t like how I thought about this person anymore.

I just didn’t want to spend my time there. I didn’t enjoy spending my time with this person. I really thought long and hard about it, and we ended up getting into an argument. It was a rather heated argument at the time. We were driving in her car, and I actually had her pull over. I got out of her car, and I said, “I’m all done. I’m all done.” We never discussed it after that, our friendship just ended. It is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Moving on is the closure. The silence is the closure. I didn’t need to sit there and explain all of the things that I didn’t like about her, all of the things that I think she should change, all the things that she did that I didn’t like. I didn’t have to go through any of that.

I didn’t need to get her to see things my way. I didn’t need to change her mind. I didn’t need to defend myself. I didn’t need to explain myself. I didn’t need her to understand me. I made the decision that I wasn’t here for that friendship anymore, and I moved forward. Moving forward is the closure.

Now, you may be saying, “Olivia, I get it. I don’t technically ‘need’ to have this conversation, but I want to have the conversation.” And if that’s you, if you’re telling yourself, “I want to have the conversation we’ve already gone through,” with the fact that the conversation doesn’t create closure. So, that’s not why you want to have the conversation.

You can create closure all by your damn self, with your thoughts, by changing the way you’re thinking about the situation. So, if you still crave the conversation, I want you to be really honest with yourself. Why are you craving it?

In most cases, it is to do one of three things. To change the person’s mind. to change how they’re thinking about the situation. You want them to have a different opinion about it. You want them to change their thoughts. And you think by having the conversation, if they just listen to you, if they hear you out, will change your thoughts.

You also want to make them feel a certain way. You want to say things and you’re hoping that they’ll feel certain feelings based on the things that you say to them. You want to control how they feel.

Or lastly, option number three, you want to control their behavior. You think that if you have the conversation and you say the things, that they’ll do something differently, that there will be some different outcome. Maybe it’s that they’ll apologize. Maybe they’ll say what you’ve been waiting for them, to say maybe their behavior will change.

But our actions don’t control what other people think, how other people feel, or what other people do. So, your desire to have this conversation is really a desire to manipulate how they think, how they feel, and what they do.

And that’s not how humans operate. That doesn’t work. We don’t get to control what someone thinks, how someone feels, or the action that they take, that’s within their control. How you think, how you feel, and what you do, is within your control.

So, if you’re craving this conversation, to get them to change their mind, to get them to feel a certain way, to get them to do certain things, you’re not operating from a clean place.

Now, in very rare instances, I’ll have this conversation with clients of mine. I’ll ask them why they want to have this conversation, and it’s typically, the main answers are the reasons that I just gave you. They want to change what the other person’s thinking, they want to change how the other person’s feeling, and they want to change how the other person is acting.

In very rare instances, people just want to say something to say it. They’re not hoping for a different outcome. But it is very important for them to just feel heard. Now, you can’t control whether someone hears you, whether they’re listening.

But if you just need to say it in order to feel proud, to feel complete because it’s important for you to say what’s true for you, to say what’s on your heart just for the sake of saying it, not for changing the course of anything, and also not to create closure. If you just want to advocate for yourself by speaking up and saying the thing that’s on your mind, you get to do that. All right?

Most people, when we really work through this, they realize they can also do all of that on their own. They don’t have to have the conversation to feel that feeling. They get to just understand themselves. They just get to know that they’re right for themselves. They just get to have their own back.

They don’t actually have to say the thing in order to feel that way about their position, about their stance, they can just create that with their own thoughts.

When you realize that your motives aren’t clean, that really the only reason that you would want to have the conversation is to change what someone’s thinking, how they feel, or what they do, and you acknowledge that you don’t have control over those things, most people lose the desire.

They quash the craving to have the conversation. They don’t need to have it anymore. They don’t even want to have it anymore, because they realize it’s not going to accomplish what they think it’s going to accomplish. Okay?

So, if there’s a situation in your life where you’ve been craving closure, I want you to remember, you never need closure. But if you want it, you can create it for yourself, in your own mind, with your own mind. No conversation needed at all. All right?

Go give that a try. It’s going to really free you up from thinking about how you need to show up, what you need to do, what conversation you need to have, and the things you need to say to create closure. None of that’s necessary. You just get to create it for yourself. Have fun with that.

All right, that’s what I’ve got for you this week. I hope you have a beautiful week, and I will talk to you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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Episode 80: Email Inbox Insights

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Email Inbox Insights

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Email Inbox Insights

When you unpack your thoughts about your email inbox, what comes up? For most people, they don’t love how their inbox looks, but if you’re looking for a tactical strategy for reducing your stress around your email inbox, you’re in the right place. There are some best practices I always suggest to my clients when it comes to managing their email inboxes, and I’m bringing them to the podcast this week.

Just looking at your inbox can be really overwhelming, and there are some common mistakes a lot of people make. But when you follow my safeguards and processes for dealing with your inbox, as well as using the mindset shifts I’m sharing today, you can create a different experience of looking at your inbox.

Tune in this week for some valuable email inbox insights. I share practical strategies for making your inbox look how you want it to, the problem with working towards inbox zero, and I’m giving you tons of tips for keeping your inbox functional and organized in a way that works for you.

Want to be the first to know when my monthly subscription Lawyers Only launches? Click here and sign up for the waitlist!

I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. At the end of October 2023, I’m selecting five random listener reviews and giving a prize to each of those reviewers! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • How to get clear on your current thoughts about your inbox and what you want to change.
  • Why aiming for inbox zero might not be helping you.
  • How to decide what you want your email inbox to look like.
  • Why you always get to decide what you want your inbox to look like, for any reason you choose.
  • My best practices for handling your email inbox.
  • How to come up with a framework for maintaining an inbox that works for you.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 80. Today, we’re talking all about email inbox insights. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach Olivia Vizachero.

Hey there, how are you? I hope your week is off to a wonderful start. I am so excited to talk about today’s topic. I talk a lot on the podcast about mindset, and we’re going to talk a little bit about that today, but this is going to be a really tactical episode.

I find that people get so much value out of the tactics that I teach when you’re just confused on the proper approach to take, and someone can just spell it out for you. It really does simplify your life. So, I’m going to do that on today’s episode.

We’re going to dive in and talk about some of the best practices that I suggest to my clients when it comes to their email. We’re going to talk about some of the mistakes that I see people make, how to safeguard against those mistakes, how to course correct if you’re making them, and a proper process to follow when it comes to dealing with your inbox. So, let’s dive in.

Actually, really quick, before we do that, I want to remind you, I’m going to say this at the end of the podcast as well, but I just want to remind you that I’m doing a giveaway this month. For anyone who leaves me a rating and review for the podcast on iTunes, you’re going to be entered into a giveaway. I’m going to give away five prizes to five different reviewers.

So, make sure you go do that; leave me a rating and a review. If you’re loving the podcast, tell me all the things you love about it. It means the world to me. It helps the podcast perform better, it helps me get this content in front of more people, and I want to help more lawyers live lives with less stress and far more fulfillment.

If you leave me a rating and review, it helps me achieve that goal. I want to thank you for your time, so that’s why I’m doing the giveaway. It ends at the end of the month, so make sure you get your reviews in before October 31st.

Without further ado, let’s talk about email. First of all, let’s just do a quick check in. What are your thoughts about email? Or your thoughts about your inbox? Are they positive or are they negative? Chances are, if you’re anything like my clients, you’re not thinking super positive thoughts about the number of emails that you receive, email in general, your inbox.

Are you thinking things like “I get too much email. I never know where to start when it comes to email. My inbox is never ending. I feel like I can never get to the bottom of it?” If you’re thinking those thoughts, you’re going to create a negative experience for yourself when it comes to how you interact with your inbox.

It’s going to be a source of overwhelm for you, not because email is inherently overwhelming, but because of the way that you’re choosing to think about it. So, you really want to check in with yourself here. What am I choosing to think about my inbox? What am I choosing to think about email?

Also, I want you to be thinking about, what’s my goal when it comes to email? I watch a lot of people focus on getting to inbox zero. And if that’s you, I’m not saying that there’s anything inherently wrong with that being your goal, but I really want you to check in with yourself. Why is that your goal? Why does that matter to you?

A lot of my perfectionists tell themselves they want to aim for inbox zero because it sounds good. It’s like this shiny gold star that is elusive and on the horizon, and they just want to keep reaching for it, but they can never quite get it in their grasp. Is that you?

You’ve got to check in with yourself here. Why do you want to aim for and strive for and work towards inbox zero? If you have a good reason for it, by all means aim for it. But if you’re just doing it because you think it’s what you “should” do, I just want to let you know it’s optional. That isn’t the gold standard. It’s not better than a different way of doing things. It’s just one thing to do.

Inbox zero is where you have nothing in your inbox. You either delete or file all of your emails that you’ve received. Now, much like a to-do list, my guess is you’re never actually going to get to inbox zero. And if you do get to it, it’s going to be fleeting because more emails are going to come in and then you’re going to have to process them.

So, what I like people to do, first and foremost, I want you to decide: Am I an inbox zero person? Is that what I’m striving for? Okay. And as part of that decision, you have to decide: What do I do with emails? If you’re an inbox zero person, they’re not just being read and staying in your inbox.

Now, quite frankly, that’s my preference. I don’t have the type of practice or business that requires me to file my emails, so I don’t file them. That’s my choice. I want to offer that as a choice that’s available to you.

If you work in a law firm setting, like when I used to work in big law, we did have to file our emails because they automatically deleted. So, if that’s you, you probably are going to strive for inbox zero, because you’re going to need to file those emails and save them to a particular client folder or a client matter.

So, you know what you’re working towards, you’re working towards a system of organization for your emails, so you know where those emails live, and you have a clear understanding of what goes where. It either relates to a client matter, or you might have a personal email file.

I had a personal email file on things that just related to maybe my Bar Association memberships, being licensed to the Michigan State Bar, things like that. That didn’t relate to any particular firm business, or any particular client matter. I had a file for that, where I could store things myself.

There might be newsletters that I would technically want to read, but I would never actually get around to it. But I had so much discomfort deleting that stuff that I would save it to a ‘read later’ folder.

So, you get to decide what you want your framework to be like. Do you want to be someone who saves things to folders? Or do you want to be someone who just lets things live in their inbox? Go ahead and decide that right now. Then make sure you really like your reasons for whatever it is you choose. All right?

Now, once you’ve made that decision, we can start to create a framework. I’m going to teach you my best practices for handling your email. One of the biggest mistakes I see my clients make is that they don’t factor time into their day for email. So, we need to start to do that. That’s a great place to start.

I want you to ask yourself, how much time do I spend on email? Email demands your time day in and day out. There’s some amount of time you devote to it. We want to know how much time that actually is. Is it one hour? Is it two hours? Sometimes it might be three hours or more.

It also might depend on what you have going on. If you’re working on a deal closing, you might be in your inbox all day long. You want to make sure you plan based on what your email is going to require of you. If your email on average requires two hours of your time, you’ve got to factor that into your daily plan.

I watch people day in, and day out, not factor it into their daily plan, which means at the end of the day, they end up feeling behind. Now why is that? Well, it’s because they planned eight hours of substantive work for an eight-hour day, and they didn’t afford any of the time that they were going to be spending in their inbox.

So, when they invariably spend two or three hours reading and responding to emails, they’re going to be that far behind whatever they planned to do for the day. Right? Because that time has to go somewhere. You can’t just fit three extra hours of emails into an eight-hour day when you’ve planned eight hours of work. Eleven hours will not fit into eight. It’s simple math. No matter how hard you try, I always remind people of this, you cannot fit 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound bag, it doesn’t work.

Which means, no matter how hard you try, you’re not going to be able to fit 11 hours of work into eight. It just won’t work that way. So, if you frequently feel behind, I want you to start getting better at understanding how much time you want to, and need to, spend on email.

One of the ways you can get a better understanding of this is by doing a time audit. I have a specific episode all about time audits. But what you need to do in order to complete a time audit is to keep track of how you spend your time all day long, all 24 hours of it.

And if you’re trying to get an understanding specifically as it relates to email, how much time you spend on email, you want to keep track of that. So, for the next two weeks, do that. Keep track of how much time you devote to it each day. It may change day in and day out.

It’s probably not going to change all that much. It’s probably not going to be a significant difference day to day. But you’re going to be able to calculate an average, daily average email time. And then, you can build that time into your daily plan.

So, if you average two hours on email each day, and you want to… don’t go under average, go over average… if you’re at two hours and 15 minutes, give yourself two and a half. Or if you’re at two hours and 22 minutes, give yourself an hour and a half. Don’t go lower, go higher.

What this means, when you’re factoring this email time into your daily plan, you’re going to create email blocks in your daily plan. You’re going to take that average, and then you’re going to find that time in your daily plan and calendar it; time slots where you only do email. Yes, you heard me right, time where you only do email.

So many people don’t set aside a specific time block for email. They just end up in their inbox in between everything else they’re doing all day long. And they end up being what I like to call “half pregnant.” Splitting their time between the substantive projects that they’re working on, and reading and responding to the incoming correspondence that they get. If you’re guilty of doing this a you’re not alone, so many people are guilty of doing this.

But I want you to know, it makes you so inefficient you end up wasting so much of your own time reorienting yourself between the projects that you’re working on and your inbox, you constantly keep interrupting yourself. You keep distracting yourself with the messages that are coming in.

This is a perfect time for me to mention that notifications on your phone and your desktop should be off. You don’t need those little messages popping up in the corner of your screen telling you that you just got an email from so-and-so.

You also don’t need that little number on the top of the email icon on your phone. If you can move your email to a secondary screen, not your main screen, that’s a great way to get it out of sight, out of mind, so you’re not constantly being haunted by the little red notification icon that shows you you have mail.

You want to make sure you really eliminate all of the notifications that you can so you’re only seeing that you have mail when you go in to check to see if you have mail. It’s really going to dial down that desire to jump from what you’re doing and scratch that itch because you received a notification. If we eliminate the notification, we eliminate a lot of itch.

And as you start to decondition your desire to constantly be checking your email, it’s going to get easier and easier over time to not check it. We conditioned ourselves to want to check all the time, and we create this relief/reward system where our curiosity and our uncertainty about what’s in our inbox builds.

Then that grows higher and higher and higher and more uncomfortable, and we ultimately check it. We feel that sense of relief, and we create a sense of certainty because now we know what’s there, whether there’s something new there or not. We have certainty on what is there, and then we feel relieved.

And the cycle starts over again. We go back to doing what we were doing, the tension builds, the uncertainty builds, the curiosity builds, and then we check it again, and we get relief. So, we create this reward cycle for ourselves. By doing that we condition ourselves into this habit.

All that means is that you can decondition yourself out of this habit by going longer and longer and longer periods of time without checking. It may be uncomfortable, very uncomfortable in the beginning. But the longer you go and the more you practice not checking, the more tolerant you’ll get of that discomfort, and the less it will bother you.

Now, let’s get back to talking about email blocks. We don’t want to be in and out of your inbox all day long. It’s just not a productive, efficient way to work. Instead, we want to figure out how long you need each day for email. I just talked about that. You’re going to get that average, and then you want to factor those time blocks into your daily plan.

Part of this requires you to define what “responsive enough” means to you. You have to figure out what your comfort level is, as far as it comes to how quickly you want to respond. Most people are operating with “responsive enough” meaning “as soon as possible.”

Or they also do what a lot of my clients do, which is, they say, “Well, it depends on what the message is.” If your standard is “as soon as possible,” or “it depends on what the message is,” then you’re always going to need to be checking your inbox so you can respond as soon as possible, or so you can see what the message is in order to make the determination about how quickly you need to respond.

We don’t want you doing that. We can’t have it be the “it depends” standard. I know they teach that to you in law school, that “it depends” mindset, but it really doesn’t serve you when it comes to email. If you’ve got the “it depends” mindset, you’re always going to have to be in your inbox to make those real time determinations of, do I need to respond to this immediately or can it wait?

Then, once you know that it’s there, it’s going to be much harder to let it wait, because now it’s this open action item that you really want to tend to. So, you’ve got to define what “responsive enough” is for you. Does “responsive enough” mean you respond within eight hours? Same day? Twenty-four hours? Four hours?

There is no right or wrong answer. This is just the answer that feels right for you. But I want you to decide what it is. If your answer is ‘an hour,’ then it’s an hour. Now, I don’t recommend that. I think that’s a little too frequent. It really robs you of the ability to plan focused work time blocks throughout your day. You’re constantly going to be jumping back and forth between things that you haven’t finished and your inbox.

I really like people to think how long would you be willing to go in a client meeting without responding to email, because you have to be fully present in that client meeting. Is there ever a time where you meet with a client for let’s say, two or three hours? Maybe you’re preparing for something. Maybe it’s a really long call, a strategy session.

Maybe you’re in a deposition and you’re out of pocket for four hours or eight hours, right? If you’re in trial and you’re gone all day, then let that be your guide. Let that be your standard, at least as a starting point. You can work up to longer periods of time.

If you would be willing to spend four hours with a client, or four hours at a golf outing entertaining a client, or four hours at a three Martini lunch… if they still do those. I’m sure they do somewhere… But if you’re willing to devote that kind of uninterrupted present focused time, then that’s a good, standard little bright line rule that you can start to use for what does “responsive enough” mean to you.

Now, depending on what your comfort level is, you’ll come up with your answer. And then, I want you to start to arrange your time blocks in light of that answer. So, I typically suggest between two to four email blocks a day. And again, that’s going to depend on your comfort level.

If you have less of a tolerance for a longer period of time between responding, you’re going to have more time blocks for email on your schedule. If you have a higher tolerance, and you’re more comfortable with going a little bit longer without responding, you can get down to two time blocks a day, or even one time block a day.

I have someone on my email list; she is like my hero; I absolutely love it. When I send out emails to my list I get people’s auto-responders, so I receive your ‘out of office’ notifications. Because I have a lot of people on my email list, I get bombarded with a lot of ‘out of office’ messages all at once. Because at any given time, a certain percentage of my list is ‘out of office.’

There’s this one woman, and her ‘out of office’ isn’t actually an ‘out of office,’ it’s just her default response. Whenever she receives a message, she informs people that she only responds to email once a day. I absolutely love it.

She acknowledges that it might be unconventional, but that it’s the best way for her to serve her clients. And if they need something immediately, they’re welcome to call her but that she only checks and responds to email once a day. That’s just her process. I absolutely love that.

Now, you can tell she has a higher tolerance and a higher level of comfort with taking longer to respond. I’m sure she had to work up to that. But she did work up to that, and she’s just an example of what’s possible.

You have to figure out what your comfort level is. Do you want to respond once a day? Do you want to respond twice a day? Do you want to respond four times a day? It’s up to you, but you want to decide and pick a number and stick to it. We don’t make up a new decision day in day out. You’re going to decide this one time and you’re going to stick to it. You’re going to have a clear understanding of how much time you need to spend on email.

And then, you’re going to figure out, how do I want to break that up? So, let’s say you need to spend two hours a day on email. If you were going to have to email blocks, here’s the proposed schedule.

You start work at 9. You do email for an hour. From 10-12 you’ve got focused work time. From 12-1 you eat lunch. At one o’clock you’ve got a client call. At two o’clock you’ve got a client call. From 3-5 you’ve got another block of focused work. And then, from 5-6 you do another hour of email. At six o’clock you stop working. How fun is that? How orderly and clean and systematic is that?

Now, let’s say you want to do three time slots a day: same thing. Start work at 9am with an hour of email. Another focused work time block from 10-12. Have lunch from 12-12:30. Email for half an hour from 12:30-1. Client calls at one and two o’clock. Another chunk of focused work time from 3-5:30. And then, another block of email from 5:30-6.

Okay? That gets you those two hours of email. If you need more than two hours, you can make that last block of the day a little bit longer.

If you wanted four time blocks for email, if you don’t want to wait until after lunch for that second email block, your schedule could look something like this. Email from 9-10. Focused work time from 10-12. Email for 30 minutes, from 12-12:30. Lunch from 12:30-1. Client call at one o’clock. Client call at two o’clock. Email from 3-3:30. Focused work time from 3:30-5:30. And then, email for 30 more minutes, from 5:30-6.

You can go to my website and see the transcript, so these time blocks are really clear. You can see them in front of you. You can copy and paste them if you want. All right? That option’s available to you. Or you can just rewind to this part of the podcast, slow me down, because I talk a little fast, and take notes. Pause where you need to, to sketch this out.

But decide for yourself which of these options resonates with you the most. Pick one and try it. Try it for 30 days, and see what happens. See if it works for you. See what doesn’t work for you. Learn what needs to change, what works, what doesn’t. You’ll start to come up with a system that feels most aligned with the way you want to work.

The choice is really yours. There isn’t one right way to do this. I recommend two to four time blocks a day, simply because I’ve coached enough people on this, and I’ve found patterns for what my clients tend to prefer. They either want to do it twice a day, three times a day, or four times a day. Those are the common answers.

Again, like I said, if you’re checking every single hour, you can do that. You could have a 15 minute block of time for email at the start of every hour, or at the end of every hour. But that’s going to be really disruptive. So, I’d love for you to give the two, three, or four time block options a try before you go to that instead.

Now, like I said, this is going to depend on your discomfort tolerance. What that means, is that you should not be alarmed if doing this, sticking to this, and honoring this schedule, honoring these time blocks, is uncomfortable at first. It is likely to be uncomfortable.

You want to get very clear on how exactly it’s going to feel uncomfortable. Are you going to have to feel constrained? Are you going to have to feel guilty? Are you going to have to feel worried that you’re not getting back to people fast enough, that they’re going to be upset, that people might judge you?

Yeah, you’re going to have to feel that type of discomfort. It’s going to be fine. Trust me, “responsive enough” is what I just laid out for you. You don’t have to be responding as soon as possible, or within 15 minutes, that’s not necessary.

If you’re a junior and you’re working with someone, feel free to ask them what they expect as far as responsiveness, in order to get an idea. You don’t have to adhere to their expectation. You can make up your own mind on what you want your expectation to be for yourself. But it does help to get someone to think that through so that you have more aligned expectations, and that you’re more closely on the same page than if you hadn’t had the conversation.

Now, like I said, it’s going to feel uncomfortable. That’s because you’re probably used to responding to people immediately. So, waiting to respond during your scheduled email blocks is going to feel unfamiliar at first. But once you get used to it, I promise you really will love it.

And you’re going to love it because you’re going to be so much more productive, efficient, and effective. You’re going to better serve your clients because you’re going to get to the meat and potatoes work so much faster, with so much more consistency, so much more regularity, than you currently are.

If you are guilty of setting out an ambitious plan for the day, then getting into your inbox and the plan goes right out the window, and you don’t get to even the second thing on your to-do list that you planned to do, following this way of emailing, and handling your inbox and scheduling your time for email is going to be a game changer for you.

You’re going to actually be able to complete what you planned. Do you know how good that feels? You’re actually going to get to the end of your day and not feel behind. Number one, because you planned intentional time for email instead of pretending like email doesn’t exist. And then, double booking yourself between the substantive work and emailing, because you know you’re going to be spending time in your email.

And you don’t get stuck in your email because you know you’re going to check it later. You don’t have to respond right now. You’re going to get to it, you have time set aside for it.

So, you can stay focused on the task in front of you, and work methodically through your plan for the day getting your most important work done, while trusting that you’re also going to have time to read and respond to the messages that you receive. Because you’ve made it a part of your plan.

This is going to help you be so much more productive, so much more efficient. It’s going to make your work feel less frenzied, less chaotic, and it’s going to make work more enjoyable. Chaotic, frenzied work doesn’t feel fun, right? So, this is going to feel really intentional, really methodical, and much more enjoyable.

Now, we’ve got a system for how to schedule our email. You need to get clear on the time that it takes you to email each day, your average amount of time, and then you’ve got to schedule time blocks for email.

But you might be asking yourself, “Olivia, what the hell do I do during those time blocks? I get so overwhelmed with my inbox I don’t know where to start.” If that’s you, I’m going to give you the framework that I teach my clients.

It’s a process for processing your emails, all right? For working your way through your inbox. At the beginning of this episode, I asked you to decide: Am I an inbox zero girl or guy, or not? That answer is really important because it’s going to inform part of the process that I’m going to lay out for you.

But before we dive into this specific process, I just want to say, if you feel overwhelmed by your inbox, it is likely because you don’t have a plan for how to process it. That’s basically a great rule of thumb whenever you feel overwhelmed by something, you probably just haven’t taken the time to come up for a plan of how to process it, whatever the thing in front of you is.

First, in order to make our plan for processing email, we’ve got to make decisions. First decision, like I said a moment ago, is: Are we an inbox zero person? Are we doing that or are we not?

The second decision that I want you to make is: Where do we start when it comes to email? When you’re going to work your way through your inbox? Let’s say you have 100 unread emails, where are we starting? Are we starting with the one that was most recently received? Or are we going to first in time?

I watch people not decide between those two options, then they spin, and they never make up their mind, and they never work through their inbox because they’re confused about which approach they should take. Same thing with inbox zero, if you don’t know. Am I filing emails or am I letting them stay in my inbox? What is it that I need to do here?

So, make up your mind right now. Do you want it to be first in time, or do you want it to be most recently received? What do you want your starting point to be for processing email? Are we saving emails to files, or are we just letting things stay in our inbox unfiled, marked red?

Once you’ve made the decision, you’re going to go through your email during your scheduled time block; one by one, email by email. For each email you’re going to make a decision. You’ve got four options. Delete it. Second option, save it/no response required. If you’re not an inbox zero person and you’re letting things stay in your inbox, it would be marked read/no response required. Instead of save it, file it. Okay?

Option number one is delete it. Option number two is save it by filing no response required, or mark it read/no response required. And then, option three is respond to the email immediately. If a response is required that will take you less than five sentences to send. Again, if you’re following inbox zero, file email. If you’re not following inbox zero, just let it be there.

And then, option number four is a response is required, but it’s not a response that you can complete within five sentences. Five sentences are just my rule of thumb. You can pick your own rule of thumb. It might be 10 sentences, or it might be less than five minutes. Make up your mind about what you want your standard to be. If you can’t think of a good one, use my rule: Five sentences, or shorter.

Option number four, if the response is longer than five sentences, then you’re going to add responding to this email as a task to your to-do list. You’re going to add it onto your to-do list, and then you’re going to schedule the time that you’ll respond, on your calendar. Okay? Then you’re just going to let that stay in your inbox until you go back and complete it at the scheduled time. Then you would save it or mark it as read.

Those are only four options when it comes to email. It is no more complicated than that: delete it, file it, no response required. Let it live in your inbox/no response required, that’s the second option. Third option, respond immediately if you can respond in less than five sentences. Option number four, if it requires more than a five sentence response, add it to your to-do list.

And when you’re making your plan for the following day, schedule time when you will respond and put it on your calendar. That’s it. That’s the process that you need to follow to process your email inbox.

Now, that’s not what most people do when they dive into their inbox. They just start diving in headfirst with no rhyme or reason. They either hop around reading things and only responding to what they want to respond to. They don’t add things to their to-do list, so they lose sight of things. If it’s out of sight, out of mind, and you forget to respond.

Or you dive in, and you just start answering every single email, without regard for how long that task is going to take you. You end up getting bogged down by typing out very meaty responses, that you can’t ever get through all of the messages that you’ve received. You don’t process them, so you don’t know what’s there.

Then you’re seeing this higher number of unread emails because you’re getting stuck on a really meaty response, so you don’t know that out of the 100, maybe 70 are deletes, saves/no response required. Right? That means you would only have 30 to get through. Maybe 25 of the 30 are ones you can respond to immediately.

So, if you’re following my system, you’re going to get a much clearer understanding of what is actually in your inbox, what your inbox is going to require of you, how much time it’s going to take you, and what you have to do in response to the emails that you’ve received.

When you create this clarity, by following this process and making one of these four decisions, you’re going to feel like you have such a better handle on your workload. Rather than feeling overwhelmed and stressed out not knowing what’s in the 95 emails that you haven’t been able to read through yet, because you got bogged down responding to email number four out of 100. This process helps you avoid getting bogged down.

It’s also helpful to decide, for lengthy responses, whether you want to send a short message that confirms that you received the email and that you’re working on it. I watch a lot of people not make up their mind about this, as well. They’re half torn between, ‘do I want to be someone who responds and acknowledges receipt? Or do I want to just send my substantive response later?’

I encourage people to confirm receipt. I think it dials down your anxiety, your stress, and your overwhelm. It dials down your guilt. It makes it less likely that someone’s going to send a follow-up email checking in on the status of something if you’ve acknowledged that you’ve received it.

Most of my clients hate receiving those follow up emails, so if you hate receiving them, I encourage you to send a quick “Got it. Looking into this. I’ll get back to you. I’ll get back to you soon.” You don’t even have to commit yourself to a specific timeline if you don’t want. All right?

So, make that decision ahead of time, too. Just like you’re deciding ahead of time if you’re inbox zero or not, if you start first in time or most recently received, and then do you send confirmation of receipt ‘I’m working on it. I’ll get back to you.’

Making these decisions ahead of time makes it so that you’re not confused when you’re going through and processing your emails. That means you’re going to work with more ease. The more we dial down the confusion, the easier we make it to get our work done. Okay?

I promise you; your email inbox does not have to be the bane of your existence. But the only way that’s going to happen is if you make these decisions ahead of time, you come up with a process. I highly encourage you, don’t reinvent the wheel. Just adopt mine. The one I just gave you in this episode.

And then, once you make these decisions ahead of time and you’ve got a process, follow it. You won’t do this perfectly at first, that’s fine. That doesn’t mean you need to go recreate an entirely new process; you just need to practice sticking to the one that I just offered you. Okay?

Doing that day in day out, and getting 1% better every single day, is going to be a game changer for you. It is going to make it so much easier for you to manage the messages you receive. And that’s what I want for you. I want it to be easier for you to manage the messages, that you get to read them, to respond to them, and then to get on to the rest of your work.

Email doesn’t have to be overwhelming; you just have to change the way you think about it and then you’ve got to alter your approach to it. I hope what I gave you in this episode is super valuable. Go give it a try and see how it changes the way you work. It’s really going to make a big difference. I guarantee it.

All right, my friends. That’s what I’ve got for you this week.

Remember, like I said at the beginning of this episode, I’m doing the giveaway for ratings and reviews of the podcast. So, go do that. Go give it a rating and review. Tell me what you think. Tell me that you’re loving it. It tells me that it’s been helping you out, making your life less stressful and far more fulfilling. That’s what I’m aiming for. That’s what I hope to hear from you.

When you do that, when you give me a little bit of your valuable time by leaving me a rating and review, you get entered to win a giveaway. I’m going to pick five reviewers and give away five amazing prizes as a thank you, to extend my gratitude for you taking the time to do that. All right? Go ahead and get that done.

In the meantime, I hope you have a beautiful week. I’ll talk to you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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Episode 79: Can’t Thinking, Avoidant Behavior & Reward Systems

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Can't Thinking, Avoidant Behavior & Reward Systems

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Can't Thinking, Avoidant Behavior & Reward Systems

When you’re faced with big projects and decisions in your work, you’ll inevitably encounter resistance. You’re thinking you can’t handle what’s in front of you, and this leads to avoidant behavior. We often think we can’t force ourselves to do things. But the truth is, you literally can force yourself to do hard things, and that’s where the reward systems piece comes in.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, you might be rewarding yourself for your avoidant behavior. Whatever you’ve been avoiding, today’s episode is for you. You’re capable of much more than you currently believe, as long as you build the necessary skill sets, and I’m showing you how on today’s show.

Tune in this week to discover the problem with can’t thinking, how it leads to avoidant behavior, and why the solution lies in how you reward yourself. I’m discussing why you can always force yourself to do the difficult things, and how to change your thoughts so you can get things done and stop avoiding life, without needing to force yourself.

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I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. At the end of October 2023, I’m selecting five random listener reviews and giving a prize to each of those reviewers! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • Why you need to be on the lookout for can’t thinking, especially if you’re a procrastinator.
  • How can’t thinking leads to avoidant behavior.
  • My standard for whether you can or can’t force yourself to do something.
  • How to identify the thoughts and feelings leaving you feeling avoidant and unable to take action.
  • A framework for changing your thoughts, so you feel capable and in control.
  • How to eliminate the reward cycle that keeps you procrastinating.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 79. Today, we’re talking all about “can’t” thinking, avoidant behavior, and reward cycles. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach Olivia Vizachero.

Hi there. How are you? I hope all is going well in your neck of the woods. I am doing well over here, getting settled down in Charleston. I’m finally getting back into the rhythm of coaching my clients.

My first week here, there was construction right outside of my office on the porch in the place that I’m staying, and it was pretty disruptive to my coaching schedule. So, I’m getting back into the swing of things now. I am into my second full week of coaching my clients following my regular schedule, and something came up on a recent client call and it inspired today’s episode topic.

This is actually something that comes up pretty frequently with the clients I coach, especially the people that I work with who struggle with procrastination and avoidant behavior. So, I’ve talked on the podcast before about thinking that things are hard.

I recently did an episode about thinking that something’s big, that it’s a big project, that it’s a big deal, that it’s a big decision, and how we create resistance for ourselves when we’re thinking those types of thoughts. We drive up our avoidant behavior by thinking that way.

Another way that I see people drive up their avoidant behavior is by telling themselves that they can’t do something. This might seem really obvious, but I promise you, it is a really important thing to be on the lookout for, especially if you’re a procrastinator.

So, if you procrastinate, you probably do what a lot of my clients do, which is they tell themselves that they literally can’t force themselves to do something. When I coach people week in and week out on avoiding what they’ve planned to do, my clients come back to me and they’re like, “Olivia, you don’t understand. I just can’t force myself to do it.”

This is actually one of my favorite thoughts to coach on, because it couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is, you literally, you quite literally can force yourself to do something. All right? Now it has to be something that’s within the realm of possible things that you can do.

If I asked you to jump off of a 50-story building and fly without any machinery attached to you, you can’t do that. Humans can’t fly without being assisted by some sort of technology. But if it is something within your capabilities, your natural capabilities to do, then you literally can force yourself to do it.

So, the standard, and this is going to seem kind of drastic and maybe a little dramatic, but I do use the standard and I think it’s very, very helpful. It just provides so much clarity. My standard for whether you can or cannot force yourself to do something is, “If I put a gun to your head, and your life was on the line, would you be able to do it?”

If there’s an email that you’re avoiding sending right now, you know that there’s an email in your inbox that’s been there for a week and a half, and you just keep telling yourself, “I can’t force myself to respond. I don’t understand what’s wrong with me. I just can’t force myself to respond to it.” You keep dwelling on it and it’s starting to haunt you.

It’s sort of like “The Tell-Tale Heart” Edgar Allan Poe poem, right? It’s relentless, it won’t leave you be, it’s just lingering there hanging over your head, creating all of that extra stress and strife, and you’ve got so much dread that’s just building up inside of you.

We make matters worse by lying to ourselves and telling ourselves that we literally can’t do it. But if I put a gun to your head, and your life was on the line, and it was between you sending that email and you dying, you would find the willpower to send the email. You would write it probably quite quickly. You would be able to find within you that motivation, that drive, that determination, would come to the surface.

I’m not suggesting that we put ourselves in such dire situations as having a gun to our head. But what I want to highlight here is that if you are capable of doing it under such circumstances, then you’re always capable of doing it.

So, the opposite is actually true, you literally can force yourself to do it. Learning how to force yourself to do things is a skill set that we build, right? This is what I mean when I talk about developing discipline. It’s when you force yourself to do something simply because you committed to doing it, regardless of whether or not you feel like it.

But the only way that you can develop discipline is by no longer believing the lie that you can’t force yourself to do it. Because like I said earlier, the opposite is true, you literally can.

Now, I want to talk a little bit about what happens when we tell ourselves that we can’t force ourselves to do something. When you’re thinking about a task and you’re telling yourself, “I can’t force myself to do that,” you end up feeling really out of control and helpless, very powerless.

Then think about what you do when you’re feeling that way. You procrastinate, you avoid, you don’t force yourself to do it. So, if you’re thinking that you can’t force yourself to do it, I promise you, you won’t.

Now, when you change your thoughts to the opposite, to choosing to believe, “I literally can force myself to do this,” what changes? You’re going to feel completely different. You’re going to feel capable and in control. And when you’re feeling capable and in control, guess what you do instead of procrastinating and avoiding the task at hand? You do it.

I’m going to give you even more of a specific framework to follow. I want you to, when you’re telling yourself, “I literally can force myself to do this,” and you’re feeling capable and in control, I want you to start by identifying: What are the thoughts, the negative thoughts, I’m thinking? And the negative feelings that those thoughts cause me to feel, that are coming up for me when it comes to this task?

I want you to identify the specific T’s and F’s; the specific thoughts and feelings, okay? You’re going to identify those thoughts, and you’re going to make a little list. I call it an “allowance list” of the negative emotions that instead of avoiding, you’re going to force yourself to feel. You’re going to feel them on purpose, okay?

So, you’re going to find the negative thoughts and identify the negative feelings. And then, I want you to pick one thought that you’re going to think instead of all of the negative thoughts that you just identified. What’s the thought you’re going to choose to think instead? I love to think, “I literally can force myself to do this.”

Then I want you to find one additional thought about the task. One thought makes you feel a little bit more determined, a little bit more committed, a little bit more in control, a little bit more capable. What’s that thought?

And then I want you to make a deal with yourself. Remind yourself that you literally can force yourself to do this task. You’re going to say, “All right, I’m going to be willing to feel all the negative feelings that doing this task will require me to feel,” and then you’re going to gag-and-go through that discomfort.

So, when you’re believing that you literally can force yourself to do it, guess what? You end up doing the task. You end up forcing yourself to do it. And you get all of the relief and sense of accomplishment that comes on the other side of telling yourself that you literally can force yourself to do it, that it’s within your control, that you’re in control of yourself, rather than being out of control and not having any power over what you do and do not do.

Now, I want to also offer a few different suggestions for what you can do to really overcome your initial resistance. I’ve talked about this on the podcast before, but when you are feeling really resistant and you’re in an avoidant pattern, and you feel like you can’t bring yourself to do the task at hand, I want you to make a deal with yourself that you’re just going to do it for 30 seconds. If you can get 30 seconds into a task, you will work on it longer than 30 seconds. But you just have to get over that initial hump.

Another incredible trick, and I love this one. I actually learned this from Kara Loewentheil. She’s a coach, also a former attorney. She teaches people… Because one of the reasons that we end up resisting the negative emotion is we’re shoulding on ourselves. We’re telling ourselves we have to do something, and then we create this rebellion cycle.

You start to rebel because deep down you know you don’t have to do anything. You become sort of like a petulant child; really fighting yourself, going to war with yourself. You’re telling yourself you need to do something, you have to do something, and the toddler inside of you, the primitive part of your brain is like, “No, I don’t. You can’t tell me what to do.” Then you create this resistance.

When there’s resistance, then we want to rebel against the resistance. You end up rebelling by procrastinating, by avoiding the task that you keep telling yourself you have to do. While simultaneously telling yourself that you literally can’t force yourself to do it, even though you can.

So, the suggestion that Kara makes, which I think is absolutely brilliant, is she suggests if you’re going to rebel, because you just have to prove to yourself that you have free will, then rebel, but don’t reward yourself. Meaning, don’t do the thing that you said you were going to do, and also don’t do anything else.

Don’t scroll on Instagram, don’t go watch an episode of Seinfeld, don’t go grab a snack, don’t go work on something else that you weren’t planning to work on but seems more fun or easier to do in the moment. Literally do nothing else. When you confront this decision, this choice between doing the thing you plan to do or doing nothing at all, 99 times out of 100 you’ll choose to do the task at hand rather than squander that time.

The problem that we face when we’re in an avoidant pattern is that we reward ourselves by doing something more entertaining, more fun in the moment, easier in the moment, and then we reinforce this resist/avoid rebel cycle because we get a benefit by avoiding the task that we planned to do. We have to eliminate that reward cycle.

If you stop rewarding yourself by doing something else that’s more entertaining or easier or more fun, and it just comes down to wasting time or doing the thing you planned to do, doing the thing you planned to do will be less uncomfortable than just wasting the time. So, you end up choosing that because it’s preferable to the alternative. That will only happen when you take the reward, the more entertaining option, off the table.

You really are only comparing, “Do the thing that I planned to do, or do nothing at all?” But all of this starts with you believing that you literally can force yourself to do something.

So, I want this to become one of the most practiced thoughts you think, all right? Every time you tell yourself, “I can’t force myself to do this. I don’t understand why I can’t force myself to do this,” I want you to remind yourself, that it isn’t true.

“That’s just a lie my brain is offering to me right now to get me to avoid completing this task, to get me to seek instant gratification and comfort, temporary comfort in the moment. It’s just a lie. What is true, is that I literally can force myself to do this. I just have to be willing to feel some uncomfortable feelings, and that’s within my capabilities, that’s within my power and my control. I can feel those feelings and force myself to complete this task. I am strong in that way. I am capable in that way. That’s within my abilities to do.”

Every time you tell yourself you can’t you have to redirect your brain and remind yourself that that isn’t true, and that you can. You absolutely can force yourself to do something. I know it might not sound like a super exciting way to go through life, forcing yourself to do things that you don’t want to do, but I promise you, it really is rewarding.

You will feel so much more proud of yourself when you force yourself to do things you don’t feel like doing, simply because you promised yourself you would do them. All right? Give this a try.

Practice thinking this new thought, “I literally can force myself to do this,” and see what happens over time. It may not work the first time, or the fifth time, or the 10th time, or the 50th time, but if you keep practicing this thought, I promise you, over time you will build belief in your ability to force yourself to do things.

And, you get to start small, if you want to start small. Don’t start with the hardest thing on your to-do list. Start with the easiest things, the things you just have a little bit of resistance to, not a ton of resistance to. Okay? Remind yourself, “I can literally force myself to do this. If a gun was to my head, I’d be able to do it, which means I can do it anytime I choose. I just have to force myself to follow through.”

You can force yourself to follow through, you just need to practice. All right, get out there and go practice.

That’s what I’ve got for you this week, my friends. Short and sweet and to the point, but it’s a big game-changing shift in your thinking. From “I can’t,” to, “I can.” Go out there and go get things done.

I will talk to you next week. In the meantime, have a beautiful week. I’ll see you in the next episode.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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Episode 78: My Time Management Masterclass

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | My Time Management Masterclass

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | My Time Management Masterclass

As you may know, I host monthly webinars on a range of different topics, and I recently hosted a time management masterclass with almost 1,000 people in attendance. The feedback was incredible, and the content was so valuable that I have decided to share it here on the podcast this week. If you have ever wondered what it is like to work with me personally and how the stuff I share in these formats differs from the podcast, this episode provides a glimpse into both. 

This is the most comprehensive and easily digestible way you’ll hear time management taught, so if you need a refresher for managing your time, don’t miss this episode. I’m also giving you information on a lawyer-only opportunity to work with me and get coached on your personal and professional development.

Tune in this week for a masterclass on everything you need to know about managing your time. I’m sharing how to start working on your mindset around your time, some of the common mistakes lawyers make when planning and scheduling, and three key actionable steps you can implement right now to manage your time more effectively.

Want to be the first to know when my monthly subscription Lawyers Only launches? Click here and sign up for the waitlist!

I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. At the end of October 2023, I’m selecting five random listener reviews and giving a prize to each of those reviewers! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The mindset required for managing your time.
  • How to gain awareness of why you currently struggle with time management.
  • Some common mistakes lawyers make when it comes to managing their time.
  • A special announcement you don’t want to miss.
  • How rules and discipline around your calendar will create freedom in your life.
  • The foundational skills that will set you up for time management success.
  • 3 key steps for managing your time.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 78. Today, you’re in for a treat. I’m doing something I’ve never done on the podcast before. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach, Olivia Vizachero.

Hey, there. How’s it going? I’m so excited to share this episode with you. I haven’t done this on the podcast before. I’ve been thinking about doing it for a really long time because I host monthly master classes on a different topic every month, and I just got done doing one on time management, which happens to be one of the most popular topics that I coach on.

I would say, time management, how to set boundaries, and how to develop business are my three top topics that I teach. The most popular, by far, among my audience.

So, I just got done, at the end of September, recording my time management masterclass. I did it live. I did it in front of an audience of almost 1,000 people, the biggest audience that I’ve had yet at a webinar. The feedback that I got on this masterclass was incredible. People reached out to me, slid into my DMs, texted me, and emailed me right after the class was over. They said it was insanely valuable.

People have been dying to get their hands on the replay. The replay, if you want to watch it, is available on my social media. If you go to my Instagram, there’s a Linktree link on my profile, and you can watch the replay on Zoom there. But I’ve never done this, and I’ve been thinking about doing it.

Actually, this is inspired a little bit by Gary Vaynerchuk. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Gary V., but he’s an entrepreneur and he takes a lot of his keynote speeches and turns them in to podcast episodes. So, I got the idea, the inspiration, from him, to take my monthly masterclass and turn it into a podcast episode.

I teach a little bit differently during my master classes than I do on the podcast, so I wanted you to hear how I interact with my viewers in real time, and how we workshop through problems together. It really gives you a glimpse inside of what it’s like to work with me.

I teach my time management framework in the most comprehensive way that I’ve ever, ever taught it. You’ve heard me talk about my time management series on this podcast before. There are amazing episodes, I think it’s like Episode 26 or 28 through the mid-30s, all on time management. This is like one hour; everything you could possibly think that you would need in this one-hour masterclass.

I haven’t taught it this comprehensively, all in one place, in this short amount of time where it’s just easily digestible. And I wanted to give you a chance to have a refresher course. If you’ve been following along with the podcast for a long time and you’ve already listened to those episodes, amazing.

This is going to be the refresher that you really need if you’re still struggling with managing your time. If you’re new to the podcast, this is an amazing deep dive for you to get more familiar with what I teach.

At the end of the podcast episode, at the end of the audio recording for this masterclass, I talk about the monthly subscription that I’m getting ready to launch. I’m going to talk about that more on the podcast in future episodes. But I just wanted to give it to you now.

If you already heard me talk about the monthly subscription service that I’m starting, it’s for lawyers only. It’s a coaching subscription, where we’re going to meet each week, and just like Netflix, it just keeps recurring. So, you keep getting the support month in and month out for your personal and professional development. It’s just like Netflix, is how I keep describing it to people.

If you want in on that, as soon as I launch it later in October, I want you right now to head to bit.ly/lawyers only. Go there and sign up for the interest list, and you’re going to get a private invitation from me before I open enrollment to the public. It’s going to give you the first opportunity that you have to join this monthly subscription and to get to be part of the founding cohort.

It’s going to be so incredible. I talk a little bit about what the membership is going to be like at the end of the masterclass. So, make sure you listen to the whole thing. And, of course, you also want to listen to the whole thing because I can’t say this enough, this masterclass is incredible. It’s everything you need to know about how to manage your time.

So, tune in. I think you’re really going to enjoy it, and hopefully this inspires you to come to my next master class. I’m teaching you how to care less about what other people think. If you want to register for that, head to my Instagram as well. Click on the link in my bio, and you can register for my next masterclass there. I hope to see you on Zoom, and have you take part in the next one, and I hope you’ll enjoy this one. I definitely think you will. Happy listening, my friends.

Hello, hello. How are we? How is everyone doing? Welcome. So excited to teach this class today. I haven’t taught time management this comprehensively, I don’t think, ever. So, I am so, so excited to dive in and teach you all of the things about how to manage your time.

I’m going to give people a few minutes to get in here. As I do that, do me a favor. If this is the first time you’ve ever been to one of my webinars, welcome. I’m Olivia Vizachero. I’m a life coach for lawyers. One of the things that I teach on the most is how to manage your time.

If you have been here before, you know how I like to run my webinars. You know that I love a really active chat. So, do me a favor, if you’re new or you’ve been here before, just jump in the chat really fast. Make sure you switch it from “to hosts and panelists” to “to everyone,” and come on in the chat. Say hi, let me know if this is your first time.

Amy, amazing. First time, Laura. First time, Andy. First time… So good to see you guys here. So, I workshop with people, and we’re going to do a lot of that together today. We’re going to engage. I’m going to ask you a bunch of questions in the chat. I want you to answer me in real time. I do a really good job about reading as I go, because I really want this to be a conversation.

Even though we’re not together in person, I want it to feel like I’m in the room with you when you’re learning this, and I’m right there in front of you. So, the way that we do that…

Second time, Scott, amazing. Second time, Amy, good to see you again. Hey, Cassandra.

So, the way that we do that is by having this really engaging chat. The reason, and I call people out, the reason I have you switch from “to hosts and panelists” to “to everyone” is I want everyone else to see your amazing comments.

Sometimes people are afraid to speak up, and if I’m the only one who can read what you’re saying other people are going to be chilled and not want to participate as much. So, you’ve got to lead the way and make it comfortable for other people to participate and engage in the conversation.

The other reason that it’s important is it doesn’t make sense if I’m reading something and I’m responding to you, but no one else can see what I’m reading and responding to. It’s just a little confusing, right?

Hey, Elsa from Charlotte. Love it. Getting ready to move to South Carolina on Sunday, so I’ll be down by you. Hi, Jill. Hi, gorgeous. So, we’ve got a good amount of people here. Hi, from Boca. I love it. I love seeing where everyone’s from. Hey Christina. Good morning, from Scottsdale. So good.

We’re going to dive in and get started because we’ve got a lot to cover. Let’s talk about today’s agenda. I like to just level set expectations and let people know what we’re going to be talking about so they can follow along. First things first, we’re going to talk about the mindset of managing your time.

Mindset is so important. So many people struggle with time management because they skip this step. We can’t skip that step. Mindset is really, really key here. This is why, if you ever, with time management, feel like you know what you need to do, but you’re just not doing it. It’s because you’re not addressing the mindset and you’re just trying to learn tactics. Learning tactics isn’t enough, I’m going to explain why that is in a second.

So, we’re going to cover mindset for managing your time, then we’re going to lay a foundation for managing your time. I’m going to talk about a couple of things that you need to do at the beginning before we get into the three key steps to managing your time. That way you really prime yourself and lay the proper foundation to set you up for success. I’m going to teach you how to do that today.

Then we’re going to dive in and I’m going to very comprehensively go through the three key steps to managing your time. We’re going to talk about all three of them in detail. I’m going to teach you how to do it. We’re going to make some decisions here. You’re going to get a game plan together, so you leave here knowing what you need to do.

And then, at the very end, I’ve got a special announcement to make. So, please stay on for that announcement. I’m super excited to tell you guys about it. We’re going to get to time management first, and that I’ll save for the end.

We’ve got to start with gaining awareness. We always need to start with gaining awareness, because if we don’t know what we’re currently doing and we don’t know why we’re doing it, then we can’t improve. We’re definitely not going to make lasting change.

So, tell me in the chat, drop in the comments, how do you currently manage your time? Now, a lot of you might want to say, “I don’t manage it,” because you’re not managing it well. But I want you to tell me… “Poorly,” I love it, Sagia, what do you do, and what don’t you do?

Use a Google Calendar, shared Google Calendar, Outlook calendar… Great. To-do list, agenda, daily list, Live by Calendar, productivity calendar. “I make wildly unrealistic plans,” so good. I want to start writing some of these things down, so I use my calendar. That’s great. Maybe you make a to-do list, or you don’t. Maybe you do this inconsistently. If so, write that down. “Make unrealistic plans.”

Anyone double book themselves? I have a lot of clients that have a habit of doing that. Yeah, also do too many things. “Try to do too much in a day; double book.”

Maybe you don’t leave enough time in between things. So good, love that, “Practice and look at the calendar each Sunday to plan for the week.” So good, I do that too. “I try time blocking; sometimes successfully, often not.” “Time blocking.” And if it’s not successful, write out what you do. So sometimes, I honor it. Sometimes, I reshuffle. Sometimes, I procrastinate. Do we people please when it comes to managing our time? Say yes when we don’t have capacity?

“Drowning in emails.” Yes. So, maybe you will stay in your inbox all day. Think about what don’t you do. You don’t stick to the plan. “Always people pleasing,” Kathy, that just means you’re in the right place. We’re going to talk about that today.

“My key issue is not putting appointments in the calendar straightaway. And then I ended up double booking.” Amazing, Naomi, we’re going to talk about that too. I have a rule for that.

We’re going to create some rules today. If you just cringed when I said “rules,” we’ve got to reframe the way that we think about rules and decisions around our calendar. I promise you; it is going to create freedom in your life. Thank you, Cynthia, I do have tips for drowning in emails, we’re going to talk about it.

“No space between virtual meetings,” amazing. If you don’t like that, we’re going to change it. So, we’re figuring out what we’re doing right now that’s not working, right? It’s not working, and that’s why you’re here. Or, at least, some of what you’re doing is not working.

As you start to make your list of what you’re doing and what you’re not doing, we’re going to start to understand why we’re doing it. “Give me new rules, mine aren’t working.” I love it, Andy. So, we want to understand the problem. I love teaching this because it gets to be so simple. I don’t know about you, but I used to struggle with time management really significantly, and it used to feel absolutely impossible to me.

I’m going to tell you two things that are true, at least for me. Number one, it is really difficult because there’s so much emotion involved with proper time management. It is a masterclass in feeling uncomfortable, ‘gagging and going’ through that discomfort, and doing shit you don’t feel like doing anyways. We’re going to talk about that a lot today.

So, that’s why it’s hard. It brings up your desire to people please, it triggers your perfectionism, that avoidant behavior, it taps into our natural human conditioning where we seek temporary pleasure and avoid instant discomfort. That’s why we have a hard time with it. It goes to our core habits, and is counterintuitive to what feels protective in the moment.

However, with that being said, it is actually simple to improve once you understand the framework for how to do that. So, we want to understand the problem. This is the good news, you guys. There are only three reasons that you fail to manage your time.

I know it seems way more complicated than that. You’re probably thinking there’s a million reasons you don’t manage your time, mostly the circumstances that you encounter and other people’s behavior, but I promise you, that’s not the case. Okay?

There were only three reasons you fail to manage your time: Negative thoughts you’re thinking. Negative feelings that you’re avoiding. And intentional actions that you’re not taking. Okay? Once you’re able to identify them, I’m going to teach you how to identify them today, you’re able to course correct.

So, in order to get better at managing your time, you have to understand the causal connection between how you think, how you feel, and what you ultimately do; the action that you ultimately take. Okay? Knowing the actions to take, like I said earlier, it isn’t enough. The reason it’s not enough is because this is exactly why you say, ‘I know what I need to do, but I’m just not doing it.’

Because you’re not addressing the negative thoughts and the negative feelings. Okay? That’s what we’re going to learn to do today. We’re going to learn how to address those things. Now, I want to introduce you… this is the causal connection that I’m talking about. I want to introduce you to the think-feel-act cycle.

This is operating behind the scenes, and it drives and determines everything you do. It also drives and determines everything everyone else around you does, okay? We’re all having this operate all throughout the day as we’re going throughout our day to day lives.

What this is, the think-feel-act cycle, it just means that your brain serves you up thoughts, you think thoughts, and those thoughts cause your feelings. Your feelings are those one-word emotions that you feel like; overwhelmed, pressured, behind, panicked, guilty, stressed, inadequate, unprepared, confused, defeated, discouraged, disappointed in yourself.

Those are the one-word emotions that we experience, okay? Those feelings, our feelings, drive all the actions that we take. It’s our actions that produce our results, which ultimately means our thoughts create our results. Thoughts cause our feelings, feelings drive our actions, and action produces our results.

So, we want to understand our own think-feel-act cycles so we can leverage this causal connection in order to better manage our time. We’ve first got to figure out what we’re currently thinking, the feelings we’re currently avoiding, and the intentional actions we’re not taking.

Then, the solution, again, it’s threefold. You’ll notice that I like “rules of three.” We’re talking in threes basically all day today. But the solution is also threefold: You have to change your thoughts. You need to feel your negative feelings on purpose.

If you’ve been around me for a while now, you know I love the phrase “gag-and-go.” It’s going to make you feel nauseous to move forward. It’s going to be uncomfortable. But you’re going to gag-and-go through the discomfort anyways. And then, the third step, is to take the intentional action that you identified, and take it in spite of, and despite of, how you feel; in spite of, and despite of, that discomfort.

We’re going to do some examples of this, so you can see your own think-feel-act cycles. I want you to tell me what thoughts do you think about time? “There’s not enough time? Overwhelmed.” Yes. “I’m going to be late. Maybe stressed. I lack control over my time.” Yes. “Which normally makes us feel either helpless or out of control. I don’t understand how long things take.” Yes.

Maybe confused, or incapable. This could also be ‘I’m bad at understanding how long things take.’ “I take too long.” Yes. “They waste too much of it.” So good. You’re getting a good idea. Yes, to what Amanda said, “I always want to do the new thing in the inbox.” Amazing. You want to start to ask yourself why that is. It’s giving you something in the short term.

We were just talking in the group coaching program that I run, we were talking about it this week, how people get to feel heroic when they are putting out fires and they’re triaging that stuff as it comes in. Versus having to stay focused on what you plan to do and let that guilt bubble up by not triaging the thing that comes in.

“Inbox becomes the calendar.” Yeah, exactly. “I’m either avoiding or putting out fires.” Exactly. So, when you’re ‘thinking there’s not enough time,’ what do you end up doing? When you’re thinking that you’re going to be late, do you end up being late? When you think you lack control, do you end up giving up control?

If you don’t understand how long things take you practice estimating how long things take. Or do you avoid estimating and then you stay confused? If you take too long, if that’s the identity you have, you’re going to continue to take too long. If you waste your time, you’re going to keep wasting it. Now, that might not seem like it makes sense but I’m going to show it to you.

Take one of your thoughts; I’m going to do some common ones. These are three common thoughts that I really want you to walk away from this training practicing. Okay?

I love this. “You practice how long things actually take.” Yeah, it requires practice, you’re not going to get it right the first time. I just recorded a podcast episode on this. If you’re not listening to my podcast, it’s called The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, go give it a listen. I have a very comprehensive time management series and I’ve recently done a couple of episodes that also get into what you need to be thinking, and how you need to be approaching learning time management.

One of the things that I teach is that you have to let it be messy, you’re not going to be good at this right away. You’ve never learned how to manage your time. No one’s ever taught it to you. You don’t learn it in school. The places that you work don’t teach it to you. So, it makes sense that you’re bad at it, if you struggle with it, okay?

But that doesn’t mean that you’re not capable of learning how to do this. Learning how to do it is going to be a messy process, and you’ve got to know that going in.

“I’m having a hard time doing an actual inventory of what it is that I do, and thus how long each of those things take.” Erin, we’re going to address that today. So good.

Okay, so I want you to… These are three core beliefs. If you have them, we’ve got to get rid of them. They’re standing in your way, and they’re going to prevent you from managing your time well.

The first thought is, ‘I’m not in control of my time.’ When you think ‘I’m not in control of my time,’ you feel helpless or out of control, like I said, just a moment ago. Here’s what you do when you’re feeling helpless and out of control. You probably people please. You say yes when you want to say no. You take on more work than you have capacity for. You fail to set boundaries. You don’t plan your schedule, or if you do plan, you don’t follow it.

So, then you end up not controlling your time. You probably also let other people schedule for you. You cede control over your calendar to other people. You acquiesce, there’s a lot of that going on. Okay? You’re avoiding the discomfort that comes from planning, setting boundaries, and saying no.

You’re avoiding all that discomfort, so you end up not controlling your time, and you end up making really unintentional decisions. Instead of that, remember the framework: There’s a negative thought you’re thinking, negative emotions that you’re avoiding, and then, intentional actions that you’re not taking; these are the actions you’re taking instead.

Now, if you want to create the result of controlling your time and managing it well, we need to be thinking a different thought, right? Step one, we’ve got to change our thoughts. So, you need to think ‘I am in control of my time.’ I promise you, you are in control of your time, even if it doesn’t feel like it.

A lot of people have a habit of thinking, ‘I have to do this. I need to do this. I must do this. I can’t do this.’ But that’s not true. There are only five things you ever have to do: Eat, drink water, sleep sometimes, use the restroom, and breathe. That’s it. Literally, that is it. So many people like to challenge me on this.

Every other exercise of your time is a choice. You choose to show up to court. It might not feel voluntary, but it is. You choose to wake up in the morning and get your kids ready for school. Some people don’t do that, some people don’t take care of their kids. I’m not suggesting that you should try that. I’m just telling you; it is optional.

You are making a choice when you do it. You make a choice to go into work, you make a choice to go to your email, you make a choice to answer the phone, when someone calls you and it’s unscheduled. All of that is a choice. Okay?

So, you need to start believing that you’re making choices and you’re in control of your time. If you are believing that, you’re going to feel powerful and in control.

From there, what are you going to do when you feel powerful and in control? You’re going to follow the three steps that I teach: You’re going to control your calendar, you’re going to plan your schedule accurately, and you’re going to honor your plan. You’re also going to set some boundaries; say no when it serves you to say no.

You’re going to allow the discomfort of doing that. You’re going to feel guilty; you’re going to feel worried; you’re going to feel a little afraid, maybe nervous, or anxious, pressured. Instead of avoiding it or reacting to those feelings, you’re just going to sit with them.

Remember, change your thought, feel your feelings, take intentional action to produce a different result so you can control how you spend your time and make intentional decisions instead. So, this is the first thought that I want you to replace.

The second thought that I want you to replace is the thought, ‘I don’t have enough time. There’s never enough time.’ When you think this you will feel overwhelmed or rushed, and you will do one of two things. You will either shut down, freeze, procrastinate, and do what we call “buffer” in the coaching industry.

That just means you take some action where you seek temporary pleasure and avoid temporary discomfort. So, eat too much, drink too much, watch Netflix, scroll on Instagram or LinkedIn, go to Amazon, buy it now. Maybe you take a nap, you sleep. You can buffer with things that are seemingly good, to working out, cleaning, making lists, planning, clearing out your inbox.

Things that actually don’t move the dial but feel good in the moment. So, shutdown, procrastinate, buffer, freeze, or you react and take unintentional action. You don’t do the big ticket items. Maybe you’re multitasking, which is a really ineffective way to go about tackling your to-do list.

Studies show you waste up to 40% of your time when you’re multitasking because you have to reorient yourself to the task in front of you, and that loses you a lot of time and productivity.

Yes. Oh, my God, “Queen of buffer and procrastinating in South Asia.” Amazing, you guys are in good company, right?

So, you do one of those two things. Either take really unintentional action, or you shut down and freeze, and then you end up wasting your time. You don’t spend it wisely. So then, it seems like there’s never enough, right?

“Stress eating is a big thing for me,” totally, it’s very common for a lot of people. I tell my clients, “this is an incomplete thought.” I don’t like the word ‘lazy,’ but I do think this is a lazy thought. What I want you to do instead, is figure out whether or not this is true.

The way that we do that is we have to complete the sentence. So, “I don’t have enough time to do… by…” Okay? The answer is either going to be you do have enough time, or you don’t have enough time. We end up focusing on the math of it. So, “I don’t have enough time to answer 100 emails in an hour,” or “by 10 o’clock.” That may be true if it’s nine o’clock.

Now, if you say, ‘I don’t have enough time to answer 100 emails by the end of this week,’ that may be false. Right? It depends on what your availability is. But you’ve got to know that.

When you get clear on what the math is by figuring out what’s the specific task or tasks that we’re talking about, and what’s the timeframe you have to do them in, now we’re in a much different situation. We’re actually looking at the facts in front of us, rather than the dramatic story we’re telling ourselves, that may or may not be true. So, we’ve got to figure out what’s going on, what is actually true.

What I like people to switch to… I’ll just say this, if it’s not true, the solution isn’t to try and do it in the amount of time that you have available. The math isn’t going to work. So, the thing that has to change is your expectation of what you’re going to get done by when. That’s what has to change.

I say this to my clients all the time, “Y’all are mad at math. Y’all are mad at time.” We can’t be mad at time; time is not going to change. Time doesn’t care if you like it or not, or you think it’s fair, or that you think you should be able to get more done in a given period of time than what you actually can.

Between you and time, time is going to win the war every single time. Pun intended, with the time reference at the end there. But you’re not going to win. I have a client; I love her to death. I finally called her out on this one day. I was like, “You keep making unrealistic plans. Why are you doing this to yourself? You end every day feeling terrible. You feel so behind because of your unrealistic plan.”

She’s like, “I know, I just always want to get more done in a day than I can.” And I’m like, “Why would you want to plan that way?” The truth is, it’s because she wishes she could get more done in a day than she can. Right?

But just because you wish it, doesn’t mean that you plan in accordance with your wishes. We’ve got to plan in accordance with what’s actually possible. That’s totally what people do. It’s so, so common. But this is what I mean by ‘y’all are mad at time.’ Time’s going to win every day of the week, and twice on Sunday. So, you have to stop fighting an unwinnable war; that’s what I call those.

You’ve got to adjust your expectations. So, if the math doesn’t work, if you actually can’t do the thing by the time you have to do it, something has to change, and it’s got to be your timeline. “Yeah, I keep wishing.” Wishing is not going to get you anywhere. That’s the cold, hard truth.

I used to do this too, so I understand what drives this. But we have to be aware of it and we have to change it. So, instead of thinking ‘I don’t have enough time,’ we’re going to get clear on what the truth actually is. ‘I don’t have enough time to do… by…’ Maybe it’s true. Maybe it’s not. If it’s not true, get to work. Get it done by the time that you have to do it, right? We’re going to talk about that later.

I like people to think this, and it’s not a super sexy thought but it is a good thought to think, ‘I can only do what I have time to complete.’ This is going to get you to feel very accepting, and you’re going to stop arguing with time, you’re going to plan accurately, follow the plan, and then you complete what you have time to complete.

I also think, another variation of this can be, ‘I can get through 10 emails by 10 o’clock,’ if that’s what you actually have time to do. That’s going to make you feel capable. ‘I can do this by then.’ Then, if you’re feeling capable, you’re going to get to work. You’re not going to be over here buffering, avoiding, or taking really unintentional action.

“But shouldn’t we try to get better at doing more or being more productive?” You can, over time, increase your efficiency. I like to really distinguish between productivity and efficiency. Efficiency is what you’re getting done in the amount of time that you’re working. Rather than just getting things done, which is productivity.

So, you can get more and more efficient as you cut out distractions, stop allowing yourself to be interrupted, focus, and don’t indulge in perfectionism and take too long to do things. You can definitely get more productive and more efficient.

However, there is… It takes me a certain amount of time to write out this flip chart for these webinars. It takes me an hour. If I try and do it in 45 minutes, I’m not going to complete it on time. That’s just the honest truth. It takes me 20 minutes to do my makeup.

If I only give myself 15, something’s not going to get done on this face; I’m not going to contour, I’m not going to have my eyelashes on, or I’m going to be five minutes late to something, because it takes me 20 minutes.

If you’re trying to shove 20 minutes into 15, and the thing actually takes you 20 minutes, you’re not going to get it into 15. You can’t shove 10 pounds of potatoes into a five-pound sack, time doesn’t work that way. So you’re going to get efficient, get efficient, get efficient, but then you’re ultimately going to get to a point where there is no more efficiency to gain out of what you’re doing. Unless you automate something.

But if you’re doing it, and you’re putting in the work, it just requires a certain amount of time. So, you need to accept that, and you need to be clear on what the math of that is.

You also might have this thought, and if you have it, we’ve got to replace it. What did Lauren say? “I keep planning to do low priority tasks and then reshuffling to use that time for higher priority tasks, to the point where the low priority tasks just don’t get done.” Totally.

“Will someone or something be permanently harmed if I don’t do this thing right away? If not, not urgent, and schedule.” Yes, totally good test, Ryan. I love that. My rule is, I want the default rule to be to not change your day of schedule.

So, you really have to get out of the habit of saying yes to same day turnaround. Anything that comes in should get scheduled, at the earliest, for the next day. If you do that, you’ll get through those lower priority tasks, okay? You also are going to have to feel guilty when that higher priority task comes in, saying no to it, or saying ‘No, not right now. I’m going to get to that tomorrow.’ It’s got to be uncomfortable.

You’ve got to gag-and-go through that guilt. You’ve got to gag-and-go through that worry, and create safety on the other side of it. The world doesn’t fall down, your clients still work with you; they will, it’ll be fine. You’ve got this narrative in your head that this is going to be a really big problem, and then you avoid advocating for yourself, saying no, pushing back, suggesting an alternate timeline, because of the discomfort of doing so.

Yes, the default rule is not changing the plan or the schedule. “Indulging in perfectionism. I think I’d be better if I was more confident in my skill/ knowledge.” Totally. You’re going to see how… We’re going to do a model in a second. You’re going to see how your lack of belief in yourself impacts how you approach tasks, right?

But you have to gag-and-go through feeling incompetent, through feeling confused, to feeling unprepared, to feeling not assured, insecure, unassured, if that’s how you feel. You have to take action and move forward in spite of, and despite of, that discomfort.

So, if you’re thinking that you’re bad at managing your time, you probably feel either ashamed or incapable or guilty. And then, you know what you don’t do? You don’t practice the three steps. You keep doing the same stuff. And you end up continuing to be bad at time management, right?

Thoughts create results. What I want to introduce you to… Yes, oh, you feel lazy. Yeah. None of you are lazy. All right? That’s just a default rule that I tell all of my clients, “You’re not lazy, it took too much work to get where you are. That’s not it.”

If you skip that, if it’s not laziness, what is it? Then you really start to gain some really incredible awareness as to why you’re doing the things that you’re doing. Okay? So, instead of thinking this, because we realize this doesn’t serve you, even if it feels true, you want to switch over this instead. ‘I’m learning to manage my time, and I’m getting better with practice’ or ‘I’ll get better with practice.’

Then you’re going to feel encouraged or capable, maybe determined, right? And then you’re going to practice the three steps: You’re going to let it be messy, allow your discomfort, and you’re going to learn and improve. I tell my clients all the time, when it comes to time management, we’re aiming for 1% improvement every day.

One percent improvement every day will absolutely change your life, okay? But you’re not going to wake up tomorrow morning and be a master at what I’m teaching you today. You’re just not. So, if that’s your expectation, you’ve got to re adjust your expectations to be much more realistic.

If you expect that of yourself, and then reality doesn’t match it, which I promise you it won’t, you’re going to feel so discouraged, so disappointed, so frustrated, and then you’re going to quit. So, you have to be setting realistic expectations.

Now, I want you to do these three think-feel-act cycle exercises with me so you can see it’s not just about your thoughts about time. But it’s also the thoughts that you are thinking about the work tasks you do, the interruptions that come your way, and planning your schedule.

Think of a work task that you’re really avoiding right now. The most common that I see with my clients… You can drop your answers in the chat… is, ‘I don’t want to do it.’ You can always ask yourself why, to get a little bit more insight.

To whoever said that they were talking about how ‘I’m already so far behind,’ you feel guilty probably, or ashamed if you think that. ‘I don’t want to do it’ will always bring up dread. You might be thinking ‘I don’t want to do it,’ because you don’t think you’re going to do a good job. That’s going to be that nervous, inadequacy, unprepared, incompetent feeling that we talked about a moment ago. That slows you down.

So, think about how you show up when you’re feeling whatever feeling that you’re feeling. When you feel dread we typically avoid, and we procrastinate, and we buffer. You’ll see, whatever thought you’re thinking about your task, causes you to feel a negative feeling and then you’re taking negative action.

If you’re thinking a negative thought you’ll feel a negative feeling, you’ll take negative action, or no action. If you’re thinking a positive thought you’ll feel a positive feeling, and you’ll take positive, productive action. The two never crisscross.

So, if you’ve got negative thoughts up here, you don’t have positive actions. Alright? That’s a way to check your math, so to speak.

“It feels like it’s a waste of time.” Totally. How do you feel when you think that, Elizabeth? Annoyed? Frustrated? Bothered? And then, what do you do? Yeah, we avoid when we feel annoyed, totally.

Think about what you think of an unscheduled meeting or call. Your phone’s ringing or someone sends you an email, ‘Hey, can you meet in an hour?’ And you had your whole day planned. You really needed that time to get some work done. You probably think, ‘I can’t say no,’ and then you’ll feel resigned or out of control, and you don’t say no.

‘I don’t have time for this;’ annoyed. But then, what do we do when we’re feeling annoyed? Probably allow the call but do it in a really negative energy.

“I try to think of it as a positive, ‘They want my help with something because they trust and like me,’ but at the same time, I think of it as a massive interruption.” Yeah, Aaron, it probably is a massive interruption. They might need your help, but you don’t have to make that your problem at that very moment. You can give them your help on a timeline that works for you.

Then I want you to tell me, what’s your thought about planning your schedule? I’d love to see what people think about this. Because if you’re not making plans right now, it’s because you have negative thoughts about doing this. “It’s pointless.” Yes. It’s pointless, might feel defeated or discouraged, and then you don’t make a plan. And you never see how amazing it is to have a plan. Why you want to do it.

Yeah, “I don’t like doing it because I rarely stay on track,” for sure. ‘I don’t have enough time to do it,’ that’s a big one. ‘It’s going to take me too long.’ Then we feel overwhelmed, rushed, and we don’t do it.

So, you can see, just like I told you a moment ago, negative thoughts you’re thinking, negative feelings that you’re avoiding, intentional actions you’re not taking. “Yeah, why do it if I’m not going to follow it?”

The solution, whether it’s thinking about time or thinking about it the circumstances that you’re encountering during your day, is change your thoughts, feel your negative feelings, gag-and-go through them, and take intentional action in spite of, and despite of, those emotions.

“Yeah, I’m afraid to be structured, as I’ve always prided myself on flexibility. But I realized this is self-defeating.” It totally is. I really want you to be thinking about how being more structured really gives you more freedom. Okay?

“Yeah, afraid of what I say to myself if I don’t do it.” Amazing, Claire, that’s such a good point. My perfectionists especially don’t like to make plans because if they don’t stick to them they beat themselves up. We’re not going to do that. We’re going to put a pin in the judgment. We’re going to put it on the shelf, and we’re just going to drop in and operate from curiosity.

We’re conducting experiments. You’re learning how to do something; it’s going to be very messy. That is okay. We’re just going to get 1% better every day. We’re not going to bully ourselves because we’re bad at something we’ve never learned how to do. It would be like, if you were trying to do calculus and no one’s ever taught you. Or you’re learning how to do it for the first time, you’re going to make mistakes.

Think about learning a language, you’re going to say some stuff wrong. You’re going to pronounce stuff wrong if you’re learning how to do it. Yeah, Amy, “I can’t quite get through the gag-and-go part. Maybe I’m dreading too big of a task; I choke and don’t finish.” You can break it up into smaller tasks, but you have to practice feeling dread and doing it anyways.

One of the things that I teach my clients in my group program is to pick something that you do every single day. A good example of this would be like clean the cat litter, or put the dishes in the dishwasher. Or maybe it’s a facial routine at night that you do, or make your bed, whatever. It’s one thing every day, that’s a really low lift, maybe it’s 10 push-ups that you can do without that much resistance. I have a whole podcast episode on this. It’s called “The F*ck It Point.” Go listen to that if you struggle with this.

You want to learn how to develop that discipline, so you can follow through and gag-and-go through the dread. Listen to that episode. I also have an episode totally on “Dread;” that’s the name of that podcast episode. It will touch on that. So, you see how mindset plays into this, right?

Now we’re going to lay the foundation. In order to master time management, you first have to know how you’re currently spending your time. How do you do this? You do it through time audits.

For those of you who bill hours, this is more than just tracking your billable time. Okay? When you do a time audit, it is a comprehensive audit of your schedule; of how you spend your time all throughout the day. So, you keep track of all 24 hours, how you spend it. You also want to be looking at why you’re making the choices that you’re making, each expenditure that you make.

Now, the things that you want to be looking for. You want to be looking for the length of time you spend on common tasks, what do you do day in and day out? How long do those tasks take you? Are there tasks that either could be reoccurring or are reoccurring? If what, what are they? Where do they fall on your schedule? When would you like them to fall on your schedule? How long do those things take?

What’s the time required to human? People significantly underestimate the amount of time it takes to be human. So, the amount of time it takes to be a parent. The amount of time it takes to just take care of yourself; shower, eat, sleep, all of those things, drink water, use the restroom, talk to a family member. So, what’s the amount of time required to be human?

Another thing I like people to really track is, how much time do you spend on email? Most people don’t know. They plan an eight hour day, and they don’t make any time for email. So, they’ll plan eight hours of substantive work, but they probably spend two hours on email a day. If you do that, you’re going to get to the end of the day, and you’re going to be at least two hours behind. Probably more, because you didn’t factor in time to eat lunch, time to human, all of that stuff. So, you’ll probably be at least three hours behind. You want to get clear on the time that you need to email.

Then you’ve got to build that into your plan. You also want to be paying attention, as you do your time audits, to what makes you behind. Is it interruptions? Is it procrastination? Are you reshuffling your schedule? Are you taking too long to finish things? Are you under estimating how long it takes to finish things?

We want to start to create some awareness there. I did a time audit when I prepped for this webinar, and almost all of my non-work time is going to parenting. Totally. Right? So, you’ve got to be cognizant of that. How much of that time does it take, and where are you going to put in other stuff that you have to do?

We want to create awareness through time audits. When you work with me you get amazing worksheets on doing a time audit. I have a worksheet that breaks things down into 15 minute tasks. You can create that yourself, but if you work with me you get it.

What you get out of that… You don’t need to make this overcomplicated. You don’t need to write down what you do every single second. I like to break it into… You could use tenths of an hour, or every 15 minutes, keeping track of what you do. That way you start to gain awareness as to how you’re spending all 24 hours of your time.

Once you’ve completed your time audit, now you get to begin simplifying your schedule. We do this in two ways. Number one, we practice constraint. The second thing we do to simplify your schedule is we make decisions ahead of time. So many people don’t make decisions one time and stick with them.

Instead, they wake up every day, and they remake the same decisions they make day in and day out. Constantly changing, constantly coming up with different ways to do things, when and what time you do things, how long you spend on something. You are constantly remaking the same decisions. Not only does this lead to decision fatigue, it’s just a waste of your time. It’s much easier, and much simpler, to decide one time and just stick with that.

Here’s some questions you want to be asking yourself in order to practice constraint and make decisions ahead of time. Looking at your time audit, what can you eliminate entirely? What can you eliminate entirely? Maybe you don’t want to watch YouTube videos anymore at night, because it doesn’t make sense and it keeps you up late. Or maybe you just want to reduce that, you only do it on the weekends.

Maybe you only watch TikTok on the weekends. Maybe you don’t like talking to family members during your workday, because it really puts you behind. Or maybe you have open office hours all day long, and you get a lot of interruptions. Maybe you want to reduce that to only being available from three to five for people to drop by.

You also can start to think about what can you put into time blocks. So, instead of being in your email all day long, can we put that into a time block? Where there are certain times throughout the day that you check email. I get your auto responders because I send out emails.

This one woman, I absolutely love her auto responder. All it says is, “Hey, this is unconventional, but I only checked my email once a day. So, you can expect a response from me after 4pm. If you send me an email after five, you won’t get a response for 24 hours. That may seem weird to you. But that’s just how I do it, and it allows me to really focus on my client work.” I was just like, that’s amazing. I love it.

So, what can you put into time blocks? How much do you want to work? Now, we’re starting to think about making decisions ahead of time. How much do you want to work? There’s no right or wrong answer to that, there’s only the answer that’s right for you.

But get clear, how much do you want to work? What would that look like on your schedule? When do you want to work? What are your desired start and stop times? What humaning activities do you do or want to do? When do you want to do them? When do you want to work out? What time do you want to go to bed? How much sleep do you want to get?

How much do you want to work? Two hours a day? Amazing, if that’s your honest answer, and you can swing it, you might be able to swing it. Some people can. If you can’t, we’ve got to align our expectations with what is realistic, right?

“I have that exact auto reply.” That is amazing, Shannon. It might be you if you’re on my email list. I don’t know if you are or not. But if so, that’s fantastic.

Okay, so when you’re going to do human activities, how long it’s going to take you? Then, really starting to think about, do you have a desired schedule for emailing, meetings that you have that you participate in, standing meetings with clients or team members? Are there certain times you’d like to do focused work?

Start to think about those things. What can we eliminate? What can we reduce? What decisions do we want to make ahead of time? It’s going to start allowing us to flesh out, basically a skeleton outline for your schedule that is really consistent and predictable.

To give you an example, my schedule is so easy, you guys. I wake up every day at 8:30am. I am not a morning person; I don’t care to be. I wake up at 8:30am. I work on LinkedIn. I write a social media post, and I engage for an hour to an hour and a half, and then I get ready at 10 o’clock. My first coaching call is at 11:00. Then I coach, basically five or six calls a day from 11:00-6:00 or 11:00-7:00. I have 15 minute breaks in between them, sometimes a half an hour, depending on the day.

At the end of the day I unwind for an hour, and then I figure out dinner. Typically, Monday-Wednesday at least, or Monday-Thursday, I do a little bit more work if there are things that I’d like to get done. For me, I have no problem working long days Monday-Thursday, because I want to be able to take Fridays off and enjoy my weekend.

But that’s what my schedule looks like every single week. Yeah, it’s inspiring. It is inspiring. I used to not be the person who was capable of doing this, but you can get there. It might look a little different for you. We’re going to give an example of it in a second, if you don’t have standing client calls like I have. But we’re going to create a schedule that works for you.

Now, we’re going to talk about the three key steps. Step one is reclaiming control of your calendar. “Yeah, my client calls are all over the place.” Yeah, mine used to be, too. We’ve got to consolidate that. You’ve got to make decisions about, what’s the one time slot that makes sense for me to fill next. Right? Don’t give them the option to pick whenever, only give them one or two options that work for you.

“When do you move your body, keep healthy, and keep that rockin bod healthy?” Thank you, actually I don’t work out. One of my priorities in the new year, I’ve already decided this, is to hire a personal trainer because I want to take better care of my physical health.

“The pressure to be making it rain in a pressed suit at 7am.” Only if you decide to make it rain in a pressed soon at 7am. Right? That’s a choice you’re making. You don’t have to wake up at seven and start working. Do you want to wake up at seven and start working? If you don’t, what do you want to do instead?

Claire, thank you. So sweet of you.

All right, step one, reclaiming control of your calendar. We’ve got to figure out where are you ceding control. So, I want you to tell me in the comments, where are you ceding control? To your clients? Do they email you and ask you to drop what you’re doing, and then you drop what you’re doing and triage, put out fires? Do you take unscheduled calls from them?

Do coworkers ask you to do something, and you drop what you’re doing, and you tend to that instead? Playing whack a mole. Are you multitasking? Do friends and family reach out and you give control to them? You let them interrupt you. You allow the interruption? Do you allow the interruption, or do you set a boundary? We’re going to talk about that in a second. Do you let people plan for you?

Think about the interruptions that you allow. Do you allow people to just swing by at any time? Do you allow people to schedule for you? If so, does that work for you? “Yes, my partner, it’s really hard to say, ‘I can’t help you.’” Totally. But we’ve got to start saying at least, “I can’t help you right this second.” Then, we work it into tomorrow’s plan.

I like to have people decide ahead of time what they’re going to say. You might just need to buy yourself more time and say, “Let me check my schedule, and I’ll get right back to you.” That way you can make an intentional decision and resist the urge to people please right in that moment. “It’s not a good time for me, not my best time of the day,” for sure.

So, who has power to schedule for you? Why do they have that power? How do you reclaim that power? Think about what changes do you need to make in order to reclaim control of your schedule? Do you need to stop people pleasing? Do you need to say no or suggest an alternative time? Do you need to set a boundary?

‘If you ask me for a same day turnaround, I will say no. If you ask me to work late on something, I will say no. If you email me after 5pm, I will not get to it till the next day.’ That’s a proper boundary.

Do you need to schedule standing meetings to head people off at the path, and control your calendar rather than having them spring things on you? If you schedule standing meetings, people won’t spring unscheduled calls or meetings on you nearly as much, because they know to expect that you’re going to be meeting with them.

Do you need to have a conversation with whoever schedules for you? Maybe it’s your assistant, and you need to get on the same page. We just had a conversation about that in the group program that I run.

Then, are there decisions ahead of time that you need to make? ‘No meetings before 9am. I only take my calls in the afternoons because the morning’s my time to do my most focused work. I don’t do back to back calls,’ because maybe something runs long. Figure out what changes you need to make and then make them. You’re going to have to feel uncomfortable, and allow that discomfort to be there in order to make those changes. That’s step one.

Step two, I’m so excited to teach you guys this. It is so comprehensive. I think people overcomplicate the living daylights out of time management. I have gone to work to make it as simple and straightforward, and fail proof, as I possibly can.

I don’t believe in separating things between urgent and important. I think that’s very confusing. All of my clients are like, “All of my stuff is urgent and important. How would I be able to decipher between the two?” So, step two is to plan your schedule accurately.

People do one of two things. Either they’re not making a plan at all, or they’re making wildly unrealistic plans that they’re never going to be able to accomplish. They’re trying to shove 24 hours of work into eight. Like we said earlier, that’s never going to work.

So, both of these approaches set you up to fail and fall behind on the work that you have in front of you. If you’re sick and tired of feeling behind all the time, we have to start planning your schedule accurately. Instead of not planning, or planning inaccurately, instead we’ve got to start by accepting that you can’t get nearly as much as you’d like to get done in a day. Okay?

You’re just not able to get that 24 hours’ worth of work done in eight. It sucks, I get it. But it’s true. I teach my clients to allow themselves to feel underwhelmed by what they can actually get done in a day. You have to process your underwhelm. It’s okay that you feel underwhelmed.

I wish I could do 24 hours in eight, you probably do too. It’s fine to have that desire, but once you recognize that you have the desire, like I said earlier, your expectation has to change. Once you accept that you can’t get nearly as much done in a day as you’d like, and you recognize that your daily plan isn’t going to be a wish list of what you wish you could get through, it’s going to get so much easier to actually plan your schedule accurately.

So, we’re going to focus on time management being a math problem. And through proper planning, by focusing on the math, you’re going to learn how to get the math right. Yes, “Again, reminding me that this is a practice.” It is a practice, 1,000%.

Here’s the process for how to properly plan your time. Number one… I said we were going to talk about all these things that you guys brought up earlier. Number one, rule of thumb, put all appointments on your calendar as soon as the need arises. As soon as the need arises. If you promise someone a time, and you’re waiting for them to confirm with you, go block that time and put it as a placeholder.

As soon as that time has a question mark, as to whether or not it will be available for you, you need to block that time off. It’s how you’re going to avoid double booking yourself and having conflicts that you later have to resolve. You need to do this, so we have a clear understanding of what your availability is, all the time, in real time. It’s got to be up to date.

This is a rule of thumb. Your brain is going to want to whisper to you, ‘Later, you can wait. It’s fine.’ No, no, no, no, no. Treat your brain like the toddler it’s trying to be, and help it course correct. Like, ‘No, we’re not doing that today.’ Because you’re not doing that today. You’re putting it on your calendar as soon as the need arises. All right? If you’re at home, say it with me, “We’re putting it on our calendar as soon as the need arises.”

Step two, you all are going to fight me on this, and I am ready for it. You need to make an electronic to do lists. No more written to do lists, they’re a waste of your time. I go so far as to say they are a masturbatory exercise. You do it because it feels good. But it doesn’t lead to the result you want it to lead to. It isn’t actually productive. You’re not producing anything with it.

The reason it’s not productive is that you have to keep remaking them. You cross some stuff off, now your list is messy, and then it gets too long, now you have to rewrite it, and you spend like 30 minutes at least once a week rewriting the same shit you already wrote down. We’re not doing it.

“Should the electronic list be the same format as the written list?” Yes. So we’re going to have only one list. I like it to sync with your phone and your computer. If you’re an Apple user, I use the Notes app in my phone. “I lol’ed for real. I adore you.” I love you, too. He’s so proud, right?

So, I want it to sync with your phone and your computer. If you’re a Mac user, I use my Notes app on my phone. I do not make it more complicated than that. If you use PCs, Microsoft’s To Do is really good. Wunderlist is another app. I have a client using Monday.com right now, I think that’s too complicated. I think there’s a lot of different features in there that just make it overly complicated. I want it to be as simple as possible.

If something has a court deadline attached to it, you can put a deadline. But if there isn’t a court deadline, I don’t want you to complicate it. Don’t make tasks switch from black to red. Then you have all this anxiety when you see that it’s red and you should have gotten it done already, and you’re picking timelines even though you don’t have a really clear estimate of when you’re going to be able to get to something. Don’t do that, just put the task.

Put enough information to where you’re able to identify it. Okay? So, we’re going to make an electronic to do list, one list, for all things personal and professional. We don’t keep two lists. I know the perfectionist hate that I just said that. I understand. I used to want all these pretty lists in all these separate places. You’re not going to maintain it.

You’ve got to trust me, I’ve coach on this thousands and thousands of hours, hundreds of clients, I’ve coached on time management. You will not stick to and maintain a to do list if you make the system too complicated. So, it’s got to be easy.

The next thing we’re going to do, we’re going to break projects up into tasks to help you get a better picture of what each task requires of you. So, instead of writing a ‘motion for summary judgment,’ that is way too big, that’s a project, we’ve got to break that project down by task. It would be Research issue one, Research issue two, Research issue three, Review the deposition transcripts, if you need to. Or Review case documents to make timeline. Summarize timeline and statement of facts, Draft introduction, Draft issues presented, Draft legal standard, Draft analysis; part one, part two, part three. Add citations, Write conclusion, Proofread, Send to client. All of these different things.

“Do you add things like ‘post Monday on Instagram’ to that list?” Yeah, mine’s on my calendar, I have that blocked in already. So, if it’s something that’s recurring, I don’t have to put it on my to do list because I know I’m living off of my calendar. Your to do list is really to put things on your calendar, it’s a reminder. So, if the recurring thing is there, you don’t need it on your to do list, because it’s already on your calendar.

However, if I am sending out emails for a launch of a program or to work with me, whatever, or a launch for this, I had specific emails that I wanted to write and send out, those did go on my to do list and checked them off as I did it. Because there were certain topics that I want to talk about. I record a podcast each week, but I don’t have that slotted in at a specific time, so that goes on my to do list and I have to find time for it in my week.

You want to break up projects into tasks, so you get a better idea of what each task requires of you. In planning this webinar: I have to outline it, make my flip chart, I have to order the flip chart, I have to send the email, I have to set up the Zoom, I have to get ready. And then, I have to do the webinar. Those are all things that are required in order to produce the webinar.

When I break it up, it gives me a better idea of ‘I need to make sure I have my whiteboards, my flip charts, before I can write my flip charts out.’ So you see what needs to go in what order, how long things take, when you need to make sure you have the things that you need, or have the time available to you so it all falls into sync. That’s step three.

Step four, you need to estimate how long each task is going to take you to complete. Next to, in parentheses, the task on your to do list, you should have an estimate. Do I think that’s going to take me .25, half an hour, an hour and a half, eight hours? Whatever it is, estimate how long each one of those individual tasks will take you.

In the beginning, you’re going to be terrible at this. So, my rule of thumb is double your estimate at least, just to be on the safe side. Estimate how long tasks are going to take you to complete, that way you’re starting to get an idea of how to plan your day.

Then you’re going to choose start and stop times for your day. Because we need to create book ends in order to get clear on how much time we have available. Once you choose them, calculate the total time you have available. You should already have all of your appointments on your calendar, then you’re going to plan your humaning. You’re going to have, from your time audit, an understanding of how long it takes you to human, put that in.

Then look at your to do list and plan less than what fits. If you are prone to lots of interruptions, I recommend people include a short amount of flex time in their schedule.

So, if someone calls you and they’re like, “Hey, do you have time to do this right now?” You’re like, ‘No, but I do at three o’clock,” so you don’t have to interrupt yourself, what you’re doing. You can complete it, but you have a little bit of time built into your schedule for something unexpected to arise. So, you plan less than what fits.

Then it comes time to implement the plan. Once you implement it, you’ve got to evaluate. I want you planning the night before. You use a different part of your brain when you plan the night before. You use your prefrontal cortex, instead of the primitive part of your brain that’s just trying to avoid the most immediate discomfort.

I want you to plan the night before and then implement the plan. At the end of your day you’re going to evaluate: How did the plan go? How did I do? We’re not going to operate from judgment, we’re just going to operate from curiosity. What worked? What didn’t work? What will you do differently?

You want this to be very, very specific. ‘I said yes to an unscheduled meeting, a last minute meeting, and I should have said no. I should have allowed myself to feel guilty.’ Remember, go back to: What thoughts, what feelings, and what actions didn’t serve me? What would I need to think? What feelings do I have to feel on purpose? What actions do I need to take instead? It’s that three problem framework I gave you earlier.

This is really important, once you figure out what didn’t work and what you need to do differently, you’ve got to apply the learning by doing tomorrow differently. You have to make changes. If you keep doing the same stuff, you’re going to keep getting the same results. Okay?

Here’s an example of what people typically do. They plan, ‘I’m going to work on a motion for summary judgment. I’ve got a 12 o’clock meeting.’ But the meeting runs long. So, if you had a call planned here, you end up canceling this call. Then someone comes in with an emergency.

And even though you were planning to work on the motion for summary judgment, now you do [inaudible] the rest of the day. While you were working on this you were checking your email. So, instead of having 8-12pm, four hours to work on that, you don’t have four hours anymore because you robbed yourself of two hours answering emails.

Then your meeting went long, so this got canceled and now you have to figure out where you’re going to do that call. All the time that you had planned to work on this, it didn’t happen, right? Does this sound familiar to anyone? This is what most people are doing day in and day out. You never get the work done. It’s how you start your day with a to do list, and then at the end of the day, you feel like you haven’t accomplished anything.

Now, what I suggest people to do, like I said earlier, make decisions ahead of time, practice constraint, figure out when you start your day. I don’t like to start until later. Maybe you don’t want to start until nine, so you’re just going to get ready in the morning.

We want to be realistic about how long email takes us. Now, you might want to start your day with a substantive project. But maybe you don’t. Maybe you want to do email, first thing, respond to what came in overnight. Give yourself an hour to do that.

Then decide if you take a lunch. If you do, maybe half an hour for lunch. Don’t tell me you eat lunch at your desk, it still takes you time to do that. Don’t double book yourself by under estimating how long this actually takes.

Now, you might want to have an email block right after lunch and maybe one before the end of the day. “This is taking up more room than it needs to.” Really, planning for the following day and evaluating can take five minutes. I just want it on your calendar.

So, if you do focused work, you’ve got two hours to get a project done. Maybe you’ve got a meeting here, and a call here. That’s a full day, but this is what it looks like. So, if you have focused work, you’d have to look at your to do list and figure out what can you do in two hours. Do you have a two hour task? Do you have two, one hour tasks? Do you have four, half an hour tasks? You have to plan only what fits in this time.

This is an example of what your day can look like if you’re planning the way that I teach you to plan. Okay? Yeah, “I don’t see this adding to eight billable hours a day.” So, you have to decide on that, right? If you’re emailing that’s probably one hour. Emails are billable, right? So, you’ve got 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6… What’s in flex time will probably be billable… 7, 8. See? It does add up to eight.

This has you ending at five, right? Which is so fun. “I love that emails are billable. I find that time hard to capture.” You just have to practice. Pay attention and check in with yourself. Are you avoiding feeling guilty by avoiding billing for emails? “I don’t want to live to email.” But you probably are living to email.

Now, you might not need this many email blocks, some people don’t. But a lot of my clients spend their entire day in their inbox, and if that’s you, we’ve got to create some blocks for it. “In my view, emails are associated with client files, so I only touch them when I work on the client’s file.” Amazing. “Email is life.” Yeah, so you’ve got to make time for it.

If it were me, I wouldn’t have a lunchtime block, I would want to create another big chunk of work, of focused work, down here. Or meetings and whatnot. I would just do email in the morning and email in the afternoon or in the late afternoon.

But a lot of people get too anxious in the beginning, so I let them include the email block in the middle of their day, just so they’re not going all day without it. I like you to define what “responsive enough” means to you. If you tell yourself responsive enough is responding within 24 hours, then two email blocks a day should be fine.

If you think being responsive is answering in two hours, then you’re going to have to set up your email blocks differently. This is an example of what it would look like in practice using my system.

Last step, step three, is everyone’s least favorite part. It’s the hardest part because it requires you to embrace discomfort. Once we’ve reclaimed control of our calendar, we’ve planned our schedule accurately, it comes time to honor your plan, the hardest part.

The way to do this, I told you I like rules of three in order to keep things simple, you’ve got to start on time, work without interruptions and end on time. You’re going to be bad at this, at first. But you want to practice.

When you’re doing your evaluations, ask yourself: Did I fail to start on time? Why did I fail to work without interruptions? Why did I fail to end on time? Why? You’re going to start to see what changes and tweaks you need to make to get 1% better at this every single day. Okay?

I also want you to keep a lookout… There are only four reasons that you don’t honor your plan. Either you don’t make a plan, so you’ve got nothing to honor. That’s one reason. Your plan wasn’t realistic, so you tried to get way more done, and you underestimated how long things would take. So, that’s why you didn’t stick to the rest of your plan. You started one thing, and you just took too much time to get through it. Or it took more time to get through than what you accounted for.

You reshuffled your schedule. So, you had a plan, stuff came in, and you jumped from what you were doing to attend to that. Or you procrastinated. This is it. When you’re evaluating, this is all you need to look for.

Now, your thoughts and your feelings are driving that behavior for sure. But you want to look, when you’re evaluating, did I start on time? How do I get better at doing that? Feeling the discomfort of starting, feeling that dread, feeling guilt to end a meeting earlier to start one on time.

Saying, “No, we’re not allowing interruptions.” Feeling the discomfort of that and ending on time. Feeling like you could put in more to a project but not letting yourself. Aiming for that sort of B+ work instead of aiming for the A+.

This is a really great framework to use for evaluations. It will help you honor your plan, and get better and better and better at that as time passes.

Last but not least, I just want to quickly talk about common mistakes that people make when it comes to managing their time. First things first, you plan best case scenario, okay? I don’t want you to do that. I want you to plan worst case scenario.

If it normally takes you 15 minutes to drive to the airport, ask yourself, what would it take with traffic? If you are going to a court hearing and you think it’s only going to be hour, but it could be three, because sometimes the judge doesn’t call your case until the end of the morning; plan for three hours. If you get back found time, amazing. It’s like finding $20 in your jeans, right? But you don’t want to set yourself up to be behind schedule.

Another thing I want to say about being behind schedule, I don’t believe in rollover behind. Okay. A lot of my clients torture themselves with rollover behind; think rollover minutes from like the early 2000s cellphone plans. I’m dating myself a little bit.

But people carry their behind from one day into the next day. I don’t believe in that. You cannot wake up in the morning already being behind schedule. Unless your plan was to wake up at eight and you woke up at 10am, then you are behind schedule. But you’re not behind from the day before.

Every day is a fresh start. You want to plan your start and stop times, plan what you’re going to do in your day, plan less than what fits so you’re planning really accurately, and if you get to the end of your day, you can be behind.

You might have reshuffled, you might have procrastinated, you might have taken too long on things, or underestimated how long stuff took. That’s fine. We’re going to evaluate and get better and better and better, to reduce the amount of time that we feel behind. But we don’t do rollover behind.

People double book themselves all the time. Stop doing this. You literally can’t be in two places at once. Don’t do that to yourself, all right? Also, when you notice that you’ve double booked yourself, people will avoid resolving the conflict immediately. That’s another rule of thumb: As soon as you notice the conflict, resolve it. It’s really going to save you so much emotional suffering.

I watch people indulge in perfectionism, so they don’t engage in this process because they feel messy, because they make it so complicated, like overcomplicating their to do list.

I also watch people quit the learning process because they don’t do it well right out of the gate. I want you to resist the urge to do that. You’ve got to stick with it. The only way you’re ever going to get better at this is if you commit to making those 1% improvements.

Chronic consumption mode, I watch this all the time. Rather than just coming here and implementing what you’ve learned today, you’ll go watch some YouTube videos on time management. and go listen to more podcasts from someone else who teaches it totally different than me. You’ll follow different people on Instagram, and maybe you’ll buy some new planners. Maybe you’ll read a book on it.

You keep trying all of this stuff, but you’re not really trying it, you’re just learning about it. You stay in consumption mode. You’ve got to get out of consumption mode, and you’ve got to get your hands dirty.

“Oops, pretty planners from Amazon cart.” Yes, you don’t need them. In fact, I discourage you from buying them, even though they’re pretty. I used to be a planner addict, too. It just doesn’t make sense. We live in an electronic world, you need to have the stuff on your electronic calendar, it syncs with your availability. We can’t do it in writing, it’s just too cumbersome.

Now, telling yourself that your schedule is unpredictable, don’t do that. When you tell yourself your schedule is unpredictable, you’re not going to spend any time predicting it. So, we don’t want to do that. We want you to believe that even if some things pop up and your plan changes, it’s still okay to have general rules of thumb, general structure, and you can make accommodations as they arise.

Not evaluating, it’s a massive mistake I see people make. You’re never going to learn if you don’t evaluate what worked, what didn’t work, what would you do differently.

Then, staying confused. The way people stay confused is they don’t get their hands dirty and try. So, the way to work through your confusion is to just get started, follow the steps that I taught you today, reclaim control of your calendar, plan your schedule accurately, follow that 10-step process I gave you, and honor your plan. Do it imperfectly, and allow yourself to learn. That’s the only way you’re going to get out of confusion and into feeling capable.

That’s what I have for you. I hope this was helpful.

Now, for my special announcement. I am going to drop a link in the chat. I’m so excited about this. I am getting ready to launch a new program, it’s called Lawyers Only. It is a monthly subscription service where we will meet weekly for coaching.

But there will also be courses. The first course is going to be all on time management. I’m going to give you the foundational basics to managing your mind, as well. So, those are going to be the first modules. Then I’m going to keep adding courses as time goes on.

It’s going to be a monthly program. Most of my programs are short, and in containers. So, you work with me for six months, and then you decide whether or not you want to keep going. This isn’t going to be that; it’s going to be a monthly subscription.

So, you’re just always going to have the support of my coaching and the community that I create. It’s going to be for lawyers only. So, only practicing attorneys who are dealing with the exact same struggles that you’re struggling with.

All of the stuff that I’ve offered before, whether it’s one-on-one coaching or my masterminds, have been what we call in coaching “high ticket offers,” four figures, five figures: significant investments. What I wanted to do is two things.

With the in-person event that I run, I realized that a lot of people want to work with me, and they want to learn the tools that I teach, but they don’t want to have to take off work. They don’t want to have to fly across the country.

They want to just be able to be in the comfort of their own homes, be on their laptops, and learn from me. Communicate with me through Zoom, not take time off work, not have to sort out childcare, not have to step away from their busy practices. They just want to be able to do it as part of their weekly routine.

So, I wanted to create the ability to do that with a monthly subscription. We meet each week for an hour, for a coaching call. Then there’s going to be a member portal with all of these amazing resources, a community where you can come ask me questions, ask your peers questions, learn from one another, celebrate, get unstuck, get out of your confusion, and figure out how to solve problems and move forward.

Then we’ll focus on all the different topics that I teach. Time management is going to be the first focus. But we’ll also cover how to set boundaries, how to develop business, how to delegate, how to get organized, how to relax; all those fun topics that you’ve seen me teach month after month through my webinars, if you’ve been coming to my webinars for a while. I wanted to make coaching more accessible to more people.

The way that the subscription will work, it’s just going to be $150 a month. It’s going to be just like Netflix, where it’s recurring. You get access to all of that amazing content, and I’m going to keep putting in new content, so it never gets stale. You’re always going to have new stuff to learn. And you’re always going to have a place to come and get support with whatever it is that you’re struggling with.

I’m going to launch this membership later in October. Okay, I’m going to be sending out, the first time I open enrollment, I’m only going to accept a limited number of people. If you are committed to mastering time management, you want to be in that first group. I dropped the link in the chat. That is an interest list. I want you to sign up.

If you’re interested in joining, I’m going to send you a private email inviting you to join, instead of you needing to wait for the public enrollment. So, by coming to this masterclass and spending this time with me, you’ve already shown that you’re committed to getting better at this.

So, I want to invite you to sign up for that interest list. Keep your eye on your email. Over the course of the next two weeks you will be getting an email from me inviting you to join the inaugural cohort of this monthly subscription, Lawyers Only. So, do that.

“It’s exactly what I’m needing.” Exactly. I’m so excited people have been started talking about it a little bit on social media. This is my first big announcement. I’m so excited to offer this to people. It is going to allow people to get my help, to learn the coaching tools that I teach my one-on-one clients and the people that have been in my mastermind, at such an accessible price.

It’s going to be the biggest overdeliver you can possibly imagine. It’s really going to change the way that you practice law, the way that you enjoy your career, the way that you enjoy your life. I absolutely can’t wait to launch it. So, make sure you’re in there. Make sure you’re going to be one of the first people to join.

I can’t wait to see you on our first call, which will be at the beginning of November. Keep your eyes on your email in order to sign up for that.

“Thanks.” You’re so welcome. “Great class. Thank you so much for sharing. Not a lawyer, unfortunately.” That’s okay. I hope you got a ton of value out of this, regardless of whether you practice or not. “Waiting for the paralegal course, as well.” “So fun.” “I’m going to stick with the podcast.” “Thanks so much.” You guys are so welcome. I hope this was valuable.

“Awesome class, as usual.” My absolute pleasure. I hope you have a beautiful weekend. Thank you so much for spending time on your Friday. And I look forward to seeing you. “Sounds like a great program, no question.” Thank you so much.

I’m so excited about it. It is going to be a game changer for people. Make sure you go sign up, that way you can sneak in there before anyone else gets access to it. “Miss you.” Miss you too, Carol. So good to see you.

“Thanks, Olivia. Have a great weekend.” You’re welcome, Samantha. All right, you guys. Bye, Vivian. Bye, everyone.

Have a great weekend. I’ll talk to y’all soon. Have fun managing your time.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit www.TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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Episode 77: Doing “Big” Things

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Doing “Big” Things

The Less Stressed Lawyer with Olivia Vizachero | Doing “Big” Things

Have you ever had something big you know you needed to do, but you didn’t take the steps required to move forward as quickly as you should? This week, we’re talking about doing “Big” things. Notice the quotation marks in the title? Well, thinking of and labeling a decision or an action as big has the unintended consequence of bringing up resistance to tackling it. 

I have a process for reframing the “Big” things and a strategy for eliminating the resistance we experience around taking action or making decisions, and I’m sharing it with all of you on today’s episode. So, if you’re avoiding actually following through on some big things you want for your life, this episode is for you.

Tune in this week to discover how to start doing “Big” things. I’m discussing why labeling decisions as big often prevents us from taking action on them, and I’m showing you what you can do to start “Small” and begin making real intentional progress on any decision or change you’re avoiding.

I would really appreciate it if you would leave a rating and review to let me know and help others find The Less Stressed Lawyer Podcast. At the end of October 2023, I’m selecting five random listener reviews and giving a prize to each of those reviewers! Click here for step-by-step instructions on how to follow, rate, and review.

What You’ll Learn from this Episode:

  • The stories we tell ourselves around big decisions and actions we know we need to take.
  • What changes when you start small when it comes to big decisions.
  • Some of the “Big” decisions I see people struggling with.
  • How to see what could change if you stop applying the word “Big” to your decisions.
  • What you can do to stop thinking of things as “Big” when it’s no longer serving you.

Listen to the Full Episode:

Featured on the Show:

Full Episode Transcript:

You’re listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast, Episode 77. Today, we’re talking all about doing “big” things. You ready? Let’s go.

Welcome to The Less Stressed Lawyer, the only podcast that teaches you how to manage your mind so you can live a life with less stress and far more fulfillment. If you’re a lawyer who’s over the overwhelm and tired of trying to hustle your way to happiness, you’re in the right place. Now, here’s your host, lawyer turned life coach Olivia Vizachero.

Hey, my friends, how are you today? This is the first time I’m recording a podcast in my new place, down in Charleston. I’m in a really old home, it was built in the early 1800s. The ceilings here are crazy high. So, my podcast producers will let me know if the audio sounds good or bad. But we’re going to give it a try. It’s a little echoey in here, but bear with me, as I figure out the best place, in my new place, to record this.

Okay, speaking of my move, that’s what inspired this week’s podcast topic, talking about doing “big” things. If you noticed, in the title, on the podcast app, wherever you’re listening to this; maybe it’s on Apple podcasts, maybe it’s on Spotify, maybe it’s on YouTube. But you’ll notice that I put “big” in quotations.

That’s really what I want to focus on today. Why I think about doing “big” things, and putting “big” in quotations, what my thought process is with that, and the impact of labeling something that way, and how it creates additional resistance.

Obviously, if you’re listening to this, you know my “big” news. The “big” news is that I just moved out of Michigan. I have lived in Detroit my entire life, Metro Detroit, and then more recently, in Detroit proper. I have lived there my entire life.

I had been thinking about moving for a while. Candidly, I have a decent amount of resistance. I should say ‘had’ because I’ve worked through my resistance, which is obviously what enabled me to move. But I had a decent amount of resistance to it. It was something I kept telling myself that I really wanted to do, but I wasn’t taking the steps to move forward to actually do it, to actually complete the moving process.

I had dinner with someone, I think it was last fall, probably about a year ago to be exact. We were having a discussion about what was preventing me from moving. When you think of something as being a “big” decision, you make the decision a harder one to make, you up your resistance to it.

So, I don’t know that I would have specifically called moving a “big” decision, but the way that I was thinking about it, it was like I was subconsciously telling myself that it was a “big” decision. Because the story I was telling myself about moving was that it was going to be really hard and complicated and really involved.

That it was just going to require so much effort and time, be really annoying and tedious, and all of these limiting beliefs that I had about moving. That’s what was going through my brain. So, of course, I was avoiding moving forward with the moving process.

The person that I was with, this is a former client of mine, she simply said to me, “You love to travel, don’t you?” I was like, “I do love to travel. I absolutely travel all the time, at least once a month. Typically, more than that.”  I think that I’m great at traveling.

All of my thoughts about traveling are so different than the thoughts that I had about moving. At this time, I hadn’t moved out of my house. I had been in my house, that I own, for 12 years. I think I bought my house in 2009. So 2009, 13 years, I guess; 2009 to 2022 at this point, when the story is taking place.

I hadn’t moved into either of the furnished condos that I’ve lived in, in Detroit, since December. So, I hadn’t moved at all, and it was making it out to be this really huge thing in my head. She just pointed out to me, “What if moving is just like traveling, but you just stay a little longer?”

It kind of broke my brain, because I quickly got access to thinking of it the same way that I think about traveling. That it’s easy, that it’s easy to plan, it’s easy to do, it’s a lot of fun, it doesn’t require that much effort, that it’s figured out-able.

All of those thoughts are thoughts that I now had access to, because I was no longer thinking of moving as this “big” thing to do, as this “big” decision to make. So, I want to talk to you about what “big” decisions or “big” things you’re avoiding doing, that you keep telling yourself that you want to do.

Because that’s the thing, I really did want to move. I don’t like being in Michigan in the winter, it’s freezing there. If you don’t live in the cold, you probably think that we get used to it. Maybe some people do, but that is not true for me. I think I get less and less used to it each year. The older I get; it just takes so much out of me.

I hate having to go out and schlep through the snow, deal with it being slushy and gray, and really had started to bother me. I’ve actually talked about that on the podcast before, just how dismal it is to live through so many months of gray weather. You really do miss the sunshine.

So, once I became aware of the fact that I was thinking about moving in this way, that I was making it out to be a much “bigger deal than it needed to be, I was able to embark on my moving journey. I started small, that’s one suggestion that I recommend to a lot of people. Again, “small,” we’ll put that in quotation marks too. Because, again, that is just our opinion. It’s just a thought, a judgment that we’re having.

But I started “small,” and I moved out of my house and moved into a furnished condo in Detroit. Then, once I saw that that was possible, and I started to learn what I like and what I don’t like, I started working up to move out of the state. I decided on the city that I wanted to live in; I picked Charleston.

I started doing my research and I ultimately found a place to stay. Then I was able to embark on the process, figure out how am I going to get here. I’m going to drive down. I’m going to go scoop up my cat, she’s still in Detroit staying with who I call her “main squeeze.” I have a boarder that she stays with sometimes when I travel.

I’m going to go back and fly back so she doesn’t have to do the long drive with me. We’ll just get it over pretty quickly. It’s a pretty short, direct flight from Detroit to Charleston.

So, I started working out all of the logistics. I packed up my place, got into my car and drove here. I made the move. I now no longer live in Michigan. Kind of crazy, huh?

I’ve had people reach out to me all throughout the week, because they know that I’ve moved, and they keep saying to me, “Wow, I can’t believe you did that. That’s crazy. It’s so brave of you to move.” I wasn’t really thinking about it as a “brave” thing to do, because I was no longer thinking of it as a “big” thing to do.

Which is so interesting that in a relatively short period of time, my thoughts could change so drastically. But they did change. And, when they changed, everything else shifted, right?

All of that negative emotion; the stress, the dread, the worry, the confusion; that I was feeling around figuring out this move, started to melt away. Then I was able to start taking intentional action because I changed my thoughts. Because I stopped thinking of it as a “big” thing, as a “big” decision, as a “big” move.

So, I want you to apply this same concept to your life. Is there a decision that you’re not making? Is there a change that you’re avoiding or resisting? Is there something that you want to do that you’re just not moving forward with because you’re thinking about it as a “big” thing.

Here’s some examples of “big” things. We’ll use moving obviously, because it’s the thing that I just did. I also watch people feel this way, and think about things this way, when it comes to quitting their job, or starting a business, or buying a home, or getting divorced or getting married, for that matter.

Or having surgery. I’ve had a couple people throughout, I don’t know, the past year, clients and friends embark on surgery. I think they thought about it for a really long time because they were thinking of it as a “big” decision. I just think that’s such a fun thing to think about; it doesn’t have to be a “big” decision. You can think about it that way or you can choose to not think about it that way.

Maybe you’re also thinking about changing careers. Or, this might seem crazy to people, but what about having kids? What if that isn’t a “big” decision? What if it’s just a decision that you make? What changes if you stop thinking about the things that I just listed, or anything thing else that’s coming up for you, anything else that you’re considering doing?

Maybe living abroad for a year or six months, or something like that. Maybe going back to school, getting a doctorate, or writing a book. What would happen if you stop thinking about it as a “big” thing to do? What would change?

Remember, circumstances don’t have any positive or negative energy to them, they’re simply neutral. The things that we’re labeling as “big,” those are merely circumstances. So, moving is a neutral circumstance, okay? Quitting your job is a neutral circumstance.

Then we think the thought that it’s a “big” decision, or that it’s a “big” thing to do. That thought is not a fact. It’s a thought, it’s an opinion, it’s your judgment about the circumstance. Getting divorced is not a “big” decision. You can totally choose to think that it is a “big” decision, the question is, do you want to think of it that way?

The answer may be yes. Or the answer may be no. I had a client who is a lawyer turned coach, and she actually had a client of her own who was contemplating getting divorced. My client and I were talking through what thoughts my client was bringing to the coaching session. What judgments she had about the divorce process.

We were working on cleaning up her thinking about it, so she could better coach her client on making this decision, without adding any of her own judgment or her own opinion to the coaching session.

One of the things that I offered her was, what if it’s not a difficult process? What if it’s not a “big” deal? What if it’s not a “big” decision to make? What changes in your coaching if you think about it differently than you are? What if you offered that thought to your client? Now, the client can agree or the client can disagree, that’s totally okay for them to choose what they want to think about making this decision.

But it turns out, my client did offer her client the thought, “This isn’t a ‘big’ decision,” and the client was able to move forward really powerfully, in a really rapid manner. Not hastily, I don’t want to put that judgment on it. But she made the decision, moved forward, and executed quickly because she was no longer thinking of it as a “big” thing. All right?

So, what changes for you when you stop thinking of the thing that you’re telling yourself you want to do? What changes when you stop thinking about it as “big,” right?

Think about how you feel when you think something’s a “big” deal. When you think it’s a “big” decision, when you think it’s a “big” change, “big” shift, “big” move. You’re going to feel scared. You’re going to feel overwhelmed. You’re going to feel nervous and uncertain.

Then think about what you do when you feel those feelings. You definitely second guess yourself. You hem and you haw. You remake a decision that you’ve already made. You just keep going back over and over again thinking through something you’ve already decided.

What else do you do? You waste a lot of time because you don’t move forward. You just stay stuck, so you don’t make a change. You don’t pursue what you want. You just keep tolerating the status quo. You end up living the exact same life that you’re currently living; one that you don’t particularly love, probably, if you’re contemplating making this “big” change. Again, “big” is an air quotes here, you guys.

It really is just a judgment. It’s one that is very protective. It keeps you conserving energy, seeking pleasure, and avoiding the temporary discomfort that comes from making a change. So, it makes sense why your brain wants to keep offering you up this thought. But it is optional.

As you’re thinking about this… This is the main thought, doing “big” things… I also want you to be thinking about what other thoughts are holding you back when you think about the “big” thing that you want to do? Start to make a list. How are you thinking about it? Are you thinking that it will be hard? I’ve done a whole podcast episode on that, thinking about things being hard.

Same thing with “big,” right? Thinking about things being “big.” Do you think that it’s going to take you too long? Do you think that you’re not going to be able to figure it out?

One of the things, this is a smaller, “big” thing, but I am getting ready to fly my cat down here. Poor Snickies’ probably not going to love that process. I was making it out to be a really “big” hassle in my head, and I was having all of this resistance to it because I was feeling really overwhelmed about the process. I wasn’t sure where to start, that was another thought that I was thinking. I thought that it was going to be too difficult.

So, I was creating all of this resistance from my thinking, and then I was procrastinating doing the things that I would need to do, in order to make sure I can fly her down here. I was actually going to make my life way, way harder, because I was going to drive back to Michigan and then drive her back down.

But after I did the drive, it was about a 14-hour drive, all in, I realized, I really don’t want to do that when the flight is like two hours long. So, I changed my thoughts. Instead of thinking that it’s going to be a “big” deal, that it’s going to be a “big” hassle to get her down here, I changed my thought to, “I can figure this out. Maybe it won’t be that hard.”

Then my resistance started to melt away. I was able to feel capable, focused and determined, and I started to take intentional action. I reached out to Delta; I figured out what I have to do there. I reached out to the vet. I made sure I could get her in so she can get her little anti-anxiety medication. I did all of the things that I need to do in order to get her on the plane and get her down here.

So, that’s another example of when you shift out of thinking something is going to be a “big” deal or a “big” hassle or a “big” decision or a “big” change. What shifts? Your resistance goes away, right? Think about what thoughts are holding you back. Are you thinking about something that you want to do as being a very “big” deal, as being a “big” decision?

From there, check in with yourself. When you think about it as “big,” what feelings come up for you? Do you feel overwhelmed? Do you feel scared? What other emotions might be making an appearance? You want to make sure you identify them. You’re going to quickly see how you’re avoiding those feelings with your inaction, with not moving forward.

Now, if you really do… and you have to check in with yourself here, do you really want to do the “big” thing? If you really do want to do it, we’ve got to make a change.

So, there’s three changes that we’re going to make. First and foremost, you’ve got to change your thoughts. I think this starts to happen naturally, as you become aware that thinking of the thing as “big” is just optional. It’s not true that it’s “big.” It’s just an opinion, and you can choose to think it or you can choose to not think.

What would you need to think about your “big” thing instead, in order to feel better about doing it? You can also ask yourself; how do you want to feel? What’s the positive emotion you would need to feel in order to move forward? Is it capable? Is it determined? Is it committed? Is it convicted? Is it compelled? I like all my “C” words.

What emotion do you need to feel? Maybe powerful or empowered. Motivated, perhaps? I don’t love motivation as an emotion just because it tends to be so fleeting. However, if that’s the one that really jumps out at you, pick it. I also have a lot of clients who love to feel confident when they’re making a decision or making a change.

So, what would you need to think to feel confident? Work this backwards, figure out how you want to feel, then ask yourself what would you need to think about the thing that you want to do? The neutral, not “big,” not small, thing that you want to do? What would you need to think about it in order to feel this feeling? Start to identify those thought and feeling combos.

That’s the first step, we’ve got to change your thoughts. Figure out what you’re thinking right now, that’s holding you back, and then change those thoughts to thoughts that move you forward.

The second step you need to take, you’ve got to be willing to feel your feelings, the negative ones that are still going to be there, because when we’re doing something new, that we’ve previously thought of as “big,” there’s going to be lingering discomfort. You’ve got to be willing to feel that discomfort instead of doing what you’re currently doing, which is avoiding it.

Okay? No more avoiding. We’ve got to gag-and-go through this discomfort and take you to step three, which is we need to take intentional actions. I want you to make a list. Write out all of the intentional actions that you would need to take in order to get from A-Z and do this “big” thing. All right?

Make a list. Create your ‘follow the yellow brick road’ roadmap. You’ve heard me talking about this on the podcast before. If you don’t know all of the steps A-Z, write out as many of the steps that you do know. Start there, and then the subsequent steps will become illuminated eventually, in time. All right?

That’s the process that you want to follow. If you’re thinking about something as “big,” we’ve got to change your thoughts, we’ve got to feel your negative feelings on purpose, and we’ve got to take intentional action.

I just want to offer you one more thought. What if you trusted yourself to figure the “big” thing out? What if you trusted yourself to do that? I trusted myself to do it, and I ended up moving across the country, I guess you could say. I always think across the country as the two different coasts, from east coast to west coast. But technically, I did move across the country, because I moved from the north to the south.

I trusted myself to figure out getting Snickies down to Charleston; and I did figure it out. I trusted myself to start my own business. I trusted myself to change careers. I trusted myself to quit jobs that weren’t aligned with the life that I wanted to live. I’ve trusted myself to buy a house. I’ve trusted myself to have surgery.

I’ve trusted myself in doing so many things, that at one time I thought were “big.” But then, I stopped thinking of it that way. I trusted myself to do it and to figure it out. That’s what you need to do in order to do your “big” thing. Trust yourself to figure it out, because you absolutely can.

It’s a lot easier to figure it out when you stop telling yourself that the thing you want to do is a really “big” deal. All right? So, no more “big” thinking. Unless you’re thinking about “big” thinking as being really open minded and dreaming really “big.” If that is the way that you’re defining “big” thinking, by all means do more of that.

But if you’re thinking about things as being “big” in a way that is a hindrance to you, let’s cut that out. All right? Okay, my friends. That’s what I’ve got for you this week. I hope you have a beautiful week, and I will talk to you in the next episode.

One more thing, just a friendly reminder, I’ve talked about this at the end of the last few podcasts, I am doing a podcast review giveaway. So, if you leave me a rating and review before the end of October 2023, depending on when you’re listening to this, I’m going to be selecting five different reviewers and giving away five different prizes as a thank you for taking time out of your day to leave me a rating and review.

It means the world to me. I hope you’re loving the podcast. If you ever have ideas for episodes… I’ve had a couple people reach out recently to give me inspiration for podcast episodes. So, DM me on social media. Do that if there’s anything in particular you want to hear me talk about. All right? Have a beautiful week.

Thanks for listening to The Less Stressed Lawyer podcast. If you want more info about Olivia Vizachero or the show’s notes and resources from today’s episode, visit TheLessStressedLawyer.com.

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