As a Creativity Coach I find that most of my clients struggle with simple life issues such as using their time, making decisions, working smarter--not harder, juggling tasks and responsibilities etc.
My book, SECRETS FROM A CREATIVITY COACH (available on Amazon or AWOC.COM) and my column in ART FOCUS OKLAHOMA magazine address these issues.
My blog, DO MORE, STRESS LESS, provides information on productivity and creativity in a super fast and easy format. Information will be practical and simple to use, making it easy for you to DO MORE, STRESS LESS.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Why Doing What Matters, Matters

It’s easy to get caught up in our jobs, family responsibilities and volunteer work. Soon you feel physically exhausted and emotionally drained. You can recharge and renew your spirit by devoting time to activities that are personally meaningful to you. I like to write and paint. These creative acts recharge my spirit and make me feel happy (and stress disappears).  As a human being on Planet Earth for a limited number of days, I encourage you to reactivate your Creative License and do what gives your life meaning. Doing what matters to you really matters! 
Meaningful activities can be identified by:

1.      A realization that what you are doing really matters to you

2.      A sense of purpose and order in your life

3.      A lack of awareness of the passage of time (also called “flow”)

4.      An enlarging knowledge of one’s self

5.      A sense of self-actualization or “becoming”

6.      Feeling unique in the world

7.      A connection to something “bigger” than yourself

8.      A feeling of deep contentment when you engage in the activity


Sunday, August 3, 2014

What about "should-do" tasks?

I received a comment from last week's blog post regarding "should-do" items on a to-do list.

What's a "should-do"?  A task that has some amount of guilt attached to it.

Here are a couple of  "should-do" tasks I've struggled with in the past:

Club meetings or baby showers.  If I feel like I "should" go, I really don't want to. Unless you are the president of the club you don't have to attend every month. Go every other month. This is enough to stay in the loop.  Not really interested in the baby shower at work? Send a nice gift and a personal note and skip it.  Guilt gone.

House chores. Some housekeeping tasks are necessary to keep things running fairly smoothly (loading and unloading the dishwasher, grocery store runs and laundry). For me, every other task is negotiable or easily forgotten!  No guilt.

I've heard that some people feel they "should" file things. I'm a stacker, it's faster.

I wouldn't ever put a "should-do" on my to-do list. To-do lists are for things that really need to get done in one 24 hour time period.

So, when should you do a "should-do"? 
If a "should-do" task can be done in two-five minutes (writing a thank-you note or calling for a doctor appointment), go ahead and do it. No need to waste time fretting about 180 seconds or so and you won't clutter up your mind trying to remember to do it.

If you have a lot of little "should-do" tasks (all within the two-five minute time limit), make a list and post it on the fridge. When you're looking for a productive way to procrastinate, you can do one! 

For more about "should-do" activities, read the chapter in my book titled "Make It Matter, Make It Happen" (order SECRETS FROM A CREATIVITY COACH from amazon or AWOC.COM or check out my book from the Tulsa City County Library collection). In this chapter you will learn the dangers of "Noble Substitute Activities" (a type of  "should-do" task). A Noble  Substitute Activity delivers a quick feeling of affirmation but ties up time better spent on long-term goals that enhance your life or bank account. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

What's Wrong with a To-Do List?

Most to-do lists are too long.
Too many items.
Too optimistic.
A sure way to make you feel less-than at the end of the day.

Change that by limiting your to-do list to three items:
one MUST-DO, one WANT-TO-DO and one COULD-DO. 

Insider tip from this Creativity Coach: It's a typical procrastinator's trick to do a bunch of could-dos instead of the one must-do and then feeling too guilty to do the want-to-do!

Having only a few items on your to-do list will help you get them done. Too many items on your to-do list is a sure way to do give yourself an excuse to do nothing. Three items. Tops. If you get everything done, you have my permission to start another list. 

Include one "MUST-DO"--a non-negotiable. This "must-do" is the ONE THING you need to do in the next 24 hours. Not doing this one thing may cause problems in your life. For example, missing an appointment with your doctor or co-worker could have long-term consequences. Cleaning out your closet is not a "must-do."

Include one "WANT-TO-DO"--an activity that has personal meaning for you. Finding even fifteen minutes a day to cultivate your creative interests or read a chapter in a book related to your interests or future goals will improve your mood and outlook.  This is the emotional equivalent of treating yourself to a cookie.

Include one "COULD-DO"--this  is  task that is usually not time sensitive and won't take much time (filling out a form or paying a bill on-line), but these are the little tasks that are often forgotten until the deadline or due date is upon you (or past). Your "could-do" may include a call to your mother (my sons, please take note).

Monday, July 21, 2014

5 Ways to Add Value to Your Day

At the end of the day you can feel good about how you spent your time and efforts. Say "yes" to activities that enrich your life.  
Say "Yes!" to:
Exercise.  Go to an exercise class or take a short walk outside.  Leave your desk and take a five minute walk around the building. The fresh air will energize your spirits and your thinking skills.

Water. When your energy lags, you might not be tired or hungry, you may be dehydrated. Instead of a sugary snack or cup of coffee mid-afternoon, drink a glass of water. You'll feel refreshed.
Silence. Take a break from the noise and distractions.  Sit in a comfortable chair, close your eyes and breathe for five minutes. Short on time?  Concentrate on the movement of the second hand on a watch for one minute.  You’ll feel rested and calm in 60 seconds.
Meaning: Do something that is meaningful to you.  Work on your pet project. Give yourself permission to do the thing you enjoy doing.

Gratitude: Recognize good work.  Notice the extra efforts of a store clerk, wait-staff person or co-worker and say “Thank you!”

Friday, July 11, 2014


When faced with a decision, take the time to think things through.

The following questions may help clarify your decision:

1.  Do you have enough of a special interest in the group to donate your time, money or talents?
You may be happy to help your child's school with a fundraising event, but you may not be as interested in another cause not as directly tied to your daily life. It's okay to pick and choose where you put your efforts, time and money.

2.  Do you have the time available to do the job by the due date without feeling pressured?
If adding a new obligation will require you to completely reschedule your life, say no.

3. What are your motives?
Do you need to return a favor? Impress someone? Saying yes to gain brownie points may cost too much. Is there another way you could contribute?

4. What is your gut feeling about this request? 
If your initial reaction is "Oh, no!" then do not say "yes."

5. Is there something new you can learn from doing this project?
If this is a rerun activity, pass and let someone else gain the experience. Don't you have a new interest you would like to pursue?

6. Try to predict the future. Will this task rob you of your energy? Make you feel resentful about lost time? Will this task energize you?

Next:  saying yes!

Friday, July 4, 2014

Nice Ways to Say "NO"

A request to donate your time or skills is an invitation. You always have two choices: accept or decline. Before you respond, give this question some thought:
"Will this opportunity move me toward my goals?"

If you know your goal and can see that this request for your time will take you off-track, pass.
Remember, the "right" decision is the one that is right for you.

Here are a three nice ways to say no.

If asked to join a club, chair an event, help a friend clean out their garage etc. say,
"Thanks for thinking of me, but my free time is tied up with a new project. I'm sure you understand." 

If asked to do something that you've done before and don't want to do again, say,
"Thanks for asking, but I think it's time for someone new to have a chance to gain leadership experience within this group."

If you're asked to do something that is not in the least bit interesting say,
"Thanks, but that task is just not a fit for me."

Saying "no" in a nice way will leave doors open and friendships intact.

NEXT POST: more questions to ask before you make a decision about a request for your time.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Decision-making Short-cut #1

 1.      Ask questions (get the real story about this request for your time or talents)
2.      Gather information (write everything down)
3.      Review information (place your notes where you can see them often)
4.      Don’t feel rushed to make a decision (it's okay to take a couple of days to decide)
5.      Examine your initial thoughts and feelings (do you feel excited or overwhelmed?)
6.      Go a little deeper (Feeling excited? Are you really interested or just trying to people please or procrastinate? Feeling overwhelmed? Maybe your schedule is too tight for one more thing)
7.      Remember your long-term goals (examine this request in light of your long-term goals. Ask: "Will this "opportunity" move me closer to my goals?" If not, pass and do something that will push you forward).
8.      Accept or decline with grace (say no in a nice way to leave doors open)