Appreciate the healthy life you are living and achieve more through EnerG coach, Ellen Goldman. Your questions on balance, motivation and your healthy lifestyle are answered through these simple tips and solutions. Get more out of your life with the help of Identity.
Question: How do I create balance with all the online distractions?
ANSWER: The only way to create balance with online distractions is to pick targeted times during the day when you eliminate the distractions completely. These times are called “focus sessions.” A focus session is a pre-determined time of the day, and an amount of time when you will work undisturbed. For instance, I know from experience that I can spend approximately 60 minutes on a task before my mind starts to wander or fatigue sets in. I also know that early morning, and right after a lunch break are my most productive and alert time of the day. So when I need to get something important done, say writing the answers to the Identity community’s questions or creating a new program, I determine which days and which time slots I will work on it.
When that time comes, I shut down my email program and the alert sounds on my computer, remove my cell phone from my office or silence it, and set a timer for 60 minutes. I then commit to working on that targeted project until the timer goes off. Usually, I am so absorbed in what I am doing, I am completely taken by surprise when I hear the buzzing of the alarm. I then take a break, perhaps check my emails or FB for 10 minutes, which is the maximum amount of time I allow myself to break away. When first learning to do this, I suggest you set a timer even for breaks. Otherwise you might find yourself going down the online distraction road for way longer than you intended. All of this takes practice and discipline. In the beginning, you might only be able to sustain your focus session for 15 minutes.
Perfect that, and then add on another 5 minutes, continuing to increase the sessions, until you find your own sweet spot. The exciting news is we can actually retrain and strengthen the parts of our brains that control focus and attention. Once you get in the swing of this, you will be shocked at how much more efficient and productive you will be! Next, try setting boundaries around the number or times and time of day when you check email and social media. But that’s the answer to a whole other question. 😉
Question: Do you have any tips to clear the clutter from my overwhelmed mind? How can I start each day out feeling in control?
Answer: Your idea of starting each day in control is key- it’s the sense of being out of control that leads to a cluttered, overwhelmed mind. A sense of feeling calm and focused happens when you begin the day well rested, well nourished, and with a concrete plan. So it actually begins the night before. Make sure you are getting the rest you need. Burning the midnight oil into the wee hours of the morning trying to get tasks done actually works against you. Most individuals function optimally with 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Sleep depravation leads to a decrease in efficiency and an increase in errors.
Meaning, you’ll get more done in less time if you are rested. Our brains function optimally when well fueled, so eat a healthy breakfast consisting of protein, healthy fat and some complex carbohydrates. If at all possible, exercise in the morning before you begin your work. Movement increases oxygen to both our bodies and brains, and produces feel good and calming hormones. Each evening, take time to plan out the next day. Create your prioritized to do list, and clear off your desk. A cluttered environment contributes to a cluttered mind. When you begin your day knowing exactly what you’ll be doing and when, you’ll be in control and focused. And lastly, stop multi-tasking. Put all your attention on one task at a time, minimize distractions such as email, texts and ringing phones, and take frequent breaks to relax and rejuvenate. We weren’t designed to work non-stop 24/7. Doing so is a sure path to feeling out of control and overwhelmed. In other words, work smarter, not harder and take time for fun.
Question: Do you recommend a ratio on spending time on my business vs. personal life?
Answer: There’s no one size fits all formula for hours spent working vs. playing. The answer is as individual as each person asking that question, and can change for each one of us depending where we are in our lives. Obviously, a single person just starting a new business is probably going to need and want to spend a significant number or hours working on their professional life, and personal time may be compromised for awhile. The working mother of three who is also taking care of her ailing parent will need a different ratio to feel satisfied that all things she values are getting the right amount of time and attention. No matter who or what the circumstances, here are some guidelines I recommend for all. To be at your optimum best self, get 7-8 hours of sleep a night. Set aside time to exercise at least thirty minutes on most days of the week. Take the time out for healthy meals, and eat without work distractions. Try to have one fun thing on your calendar daily that you can look forward to, even if it’s just a fifteen minute phone call to your best friend, or twenty minutes of reading a great book before bedtime. We all need a little “me” time everyday. Although many might be shocked or perplexed on how to do so, I highly recommend one day of the weekend completely work free. And to know if you are in balance, ask yourself this question at the end of the day, “Am I feeling accomplished, productive, satisfied and happy with how I spent my time today?” If most of the time you can answer “yes,” you are on track. If too often you answer “no”, it’s time to rethink your priorities, productivity habits, and self-care. Consider working with a healthy lifestyle coach to help you clarify your values and prioritize your time. Sometimes a few little tweaks in your habits can make a significant difference in your health and happiness!
Question: I don’t want to diet, but want to eat right. I can’t figure out easy, quick and healthy breakfast’s to start the day out right. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer: If you want to begin your day with a power meal that will contribute to high energy, make sure it has a combination of whole grain carbohydrates, lean protein, fiber, and a small amount of healthy fat. That will sustain you through the morning keeping your body and brain alert and focused. A few of my favorites are greek yogurt with mixed berries and some whole grain lo-fat granola sprinkled on top. Fortified whole-grain cereal with lo or non-fat milk or soy-milk, and some raisins. Enjoy a whole-wheat english muffin with nut butter and a few slices of avocado, accompanied by an apple or pear. Try scrambling some egg whites with spinach, mushrooms and feta cheese. Or a poached egg on whole grain toast, with sliced tomato and a half of a grapefruit. To save time, keep some hard boiled eggs in your fridge, along with cleaned and cut fruit ready to grab as you run out the door. Even some of the fast-food restaurants have started to offer healthy quick grab breakfasts. When all else fails, have a stack of protein bars on hand. Keep in mind the lower the sugar count and higher the fiber count, generally the healthier the bar. You can even think outside the breakfast box- I know many a healthy individual who grabs left-over dinner for breakfast! The most important thing is that you do indeed eat something within an hour of awakening. Your body and brain need some fuel to kick start the day.
HAVE A QUESTION FOR ELLEN?
Please free to email Ellen with your question. It will be answered in the order it’s received. Please continue to check back for your question to be answered. Note: we do not use last names.