Watch the video here, or read the full article below.

video-superachieverOne of the greatest challenges for busy, successful and creative people juggling several projects, talents and ideas is to live a well-balanced life. If only we could do all that is on our personal and professional ‘to do’ lists while simultaneously attending to our health, nurturing our important relationships and taking good care of our responsibilities.

Everyone knows someone who works full time, volunteers, runs a successful blog, and somehow still finds time to go grocery shopping, cook organic Instagram-worthy meals, foster a loving relationship, walk his or her adorable Boston terrier, and, oh — train for a half marathon. These kinds of “super-achievers” have the same number of hours in the day as the rest of us, but somehow, they always seem to get more done. How do they do it? Here are 5 tips to help you maximize your precious 24 hours daily.

Tip #1: Stop Trying to Win the Crazy-Busy Badge of Honor
crazy_busyStaying busy, but not productive, is the curse of our times. These days we are so busy that we can’t stop talking about it. And busyness has become a cultural symbol of status. Even though people say they’re complaining, they’re secretly bragging. Here are some typical phrases that I often hear from my private clients and audience members:

“I am so tired, I can’t remember the last time I got a good night’s sleep!”
“I’m drowning over here!”
“Oh my God, I’m crazy-busy!”

We have to stop the glorification of busy, and realize that no one is really “busy”… it’s all about priorities. We have to stop using this phrase, and take back control so we feel empowered, not depleted.

Tip #2: Use Time Management Tools that Work for You & Stick to Them
One of the key components to time management is to find time management tools that work well for you and then stick to them. Consistency is key! Use one calendar, one master project list or project management tool, and one task management system. It doesn’t matter if they are paper or digital, old fashioned or a fancy new app. The key is to create a system around your habits, needs, work and lifestyle, learn it well, and use it consistently.

Tip #3: Stop Multi-Tasking & Engage in Uni-Tasking Instead
Multi-tasking is generally less efficient than focusing on one thing at a time. Studies show it impairs productivity. It is impossible to do 2 tasks at the same time without compromising each. Research shows that it takes your brain 4 times longer to process than if you focused on each task separately. David Meyer, Ph.D., a psychology professor at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor has spent the past few decades studying multi-tasking. His research shows that not only is multi-tasking inefficient, but also can cause problems at work, at school, and even, in some cases, be dangerous. Meyer explains, “It takes time to warm up to a new task, especially if both require the same skills.” So focus on one task at a time, give it your full attention, and then move onto the next task.

Tip #4: Use the Power of the Pareto Principle (a/k/a the 80-20 Rule)
The Pareto Principle takes its name from a 19th century Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto. In the late 1940s, business management guru Joseph M. Juran suggested the principle and named it after Pareto, who observed that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. Pareto’s Principle (or the 80/20 Rule as it is often called) means that in any grouping of items or events, a few (20%) are vital and many (80%) are trivial. 80% of our results come from 20% of our activity. That means that of all of the daily activities you do, and choices that you make, only 20% really matter (or at least produce meaningful results).

What is the takeaway that we can learn from the Pareto Principle? Identify and focus on the 20% that matters! When life sets in and you start to become reactive instead of proactive, remind yourself of the 20% you need to focus on. If something in your schedule needs to be deleted or not completed with your fullest attention, try your best to make sure it’s not part of that 20%. Use the Pareto Principle as a litmus test to constantly check in and ask yourself: “Is doing this task or activity right now the highest and best use of my time? Is this truly part of the 20% that matters?” Let the Pareto Principle serve as a powerful daily reminder to focus 80% of your time and energy on the 20% of your work and life that is really important and delivers positive results.

Tip #5: Honor Appointments with Yourself
facialCalendar in your personal to-do’s, along with your professional appointments. Our work calendars fill up quickly with tasks, projects, and events. When was the last time you scheduled something fun for yourself and/or your family? A date night with your significant other? A yoga class, time to read, take a bubble bath, etc.? Give structure to unstructured activities and tasks. Try to reverse your calendar and begin with the premise that you need (and deserve) time for play and relaxation. You schedule those first, as well as previously committed time — like when you sleep, eat, exercise, commute to work, and other blocks of time you must expend each day.

Start practicing proactive, positive productivity using the 5 tips above. And remember, be consistent!

I had the chance to hang out with Smead and two of my fabulous organizing/productivity colleagues a few weeks ago. We did a video chat using Google Hangout and answered questions submitted all about organizing and productivity around the general theme of Spring Cleaning. It was a lot of fun! And we shared lots of great information to help you be more productive this spring in your home, office and life. Get the 411 here!

 

In the world of time management, we give a lot of weight to appointments that we set with other people, or events and meetings that we have to attend. We block them out on our calendar and then we make a commitment to show up unless there is a true emergency. And that is certainly a good thing. One would say we are practicing good time management techniques.

And yet, when it comes to making appointments with ourself, we don’t give them the same importance on our calendar. Indeed, most people put themselves last. That yoga class you wanted to take? Missed it again. Getting to bed on time so that you are well rested? Oops, that went out the window when you let something else take precedence over it. Sadly, most of us do not honor appointments with ourself!

me_timeWhen I speak on time management and productivity, I ask my audiences to name something that they don’t allow themselves enough of in their lives. The answers are almost always focused on simple pleasures like reading, sleeping, spending time with family, taking a bubble bath, going for a bike ride, etc. We crave more “me time” and yet we deprive ourselves of it on a daily basis.

We have the imagination to find creative ways to deny ourselves simple pleasures. You should hear the convoluted excuses high functioning, success-minded folks devise as to why they couldn’t possibly, say, sit and read a book for half an hour. It’d be funny if it weren’t so sad that they are denying themselves such basic human treats. Even though I know better, sometimes I catch myself doing the same thing.

Why do we do it? Sometimes it’s guilt, sometimes it’s low self-esteem (a sense that you don’t “deserve” a treat), sometimes it’s because you put everyone else’s needs first. Sometimes it’s a societal dictum or a limiting belief like, “I have to work hard and earn X before I deserve a treat.”

Whatever the reason, the truth is that not only do you deserve to treat yourself to simple pleasures – it’s essential for your health, well-being and creativity.

reading_bookHow can we change this? First, start by recognizing that you give your own appointments the short end of the stick on your calendar and in your own time management practices. Then not only resolve to change this, but act on that resolve. Block out the time on your calendar and then honor that appointment as if you made it with the most important person in your life. Why? Because you are an important person in your life! And you are worth it. Don’t skimp on time for your own personal and professional growth and development.

“But Lisa”, I hear you say, “I can’t possibly. I have too much to do. I don’t have enough time.”

Ask yourself this: What do you spend time doing that you really don’t enjoy – and that you really don’t have to be doing? What isn’t particularly healthy or helpful? What could you be doing less of, if you were honest with yourself?

Maybe you’re a workaholic spending many more hours working than is really required. Perhaps you spend time worrying or stressing or complaining (most people spend more time complaining how little time they have than doing anything about it). Maybe you don’t have systems set up so you are spending too much time doing tasks that could be streamlined. Maybe you’re wasting your evenings watching television programs you don’t really like that much anyway.

Whatever your day is like, you have an opportunity to do less of what you don’t want – and more of what you do want.

I invite you to engage in this rare, but powerful, time management treat. Look for opportunities to not only make some appointments with yourself… but honor those appointments! Trust me, you are worth it.

Several courageous participants have accepted my offer to work on transforming their life by joining the La Dolce Vita Group Life Coaching Program. It could be writing a book, focusing on your health, improving your relationships, getting off the see-saw of life-work balance, reigniting some of your long-lost passions, or changing your career.

In each case, we have a destination that is unknown to us now. The adventure is in the journey, but also in knowing that you will come out “different” on the other side. Hopefully, a new and improved version of you. 🙂

take_controlEach member of the La Dolce Vita Program has set his or her goals. To get there requires vision, determination, consistency, and some fun too! By March 27th, all La Dolce Vita participants will have all earned their right to live The Sweet Life.

What will it be for you? In what way do you want things to be different?

You might think that it’s selfish to invest in yourself… (we will nip that in the bud with the No Negative Self Talk Rule!)

But your happiness depends on YOU…and you deserve it.

Join me for the La Dolce Vita 6-Week Group Life Coaching Program, starting Thursday, February 19, 2015 that will help you:

  • Evaluate what’s working and not working in your life, and identify areas for transformation.
  • Develop realistic and fun techniques to help you grow.
  • Use productivity in a proactive and positive way to set boundaries and better master your use of time and resources.
  • Overcome Cinderella’s Ugly Step Sisters: The 3 Blocks to Success (The Perfection Trap, The Comparison Trap and the Impostor Syndrome)
  • Get real about things you’ve said you really wanted to do and have in your life but never give yourself permission to implement.
  • Adopt a positive mindset and learn about cutting edge research on the power of happiness.
  • Learn effective tools for dealing with difficult, toxic or negative people (including you!).
  • Stop giving away your power to the Negative Nellies and Neds.
  • Recognize and exploit your own greatest assets.
  • Get comfortable with who you are vs. keeping up with the Joneses.
  • Balance preparing for the future with living well today in terms of financial wellness.
  • Get your house in order – literally and figuratively!
  • Learn the power of commitment and consistency.
  •  Tap into your passions, figure out what they are, and how to enjoy and manage them.

Here’s What You Will Get as Part of the La Dolce Vita Group Life Coaching Program:

  • 6 weeks of group coaching calls with me and your fellow La Dolce Vita group members covering powerful content to help you learn to live the La Dolce Vita lifestyle. These calls will be open line allowing for interaction and discussion.
  • Mp3 recordings of all calls – Can’t make the live calls? No problem! All teleclasses will be recorded.
  • Course materials – We will use tools like Journaling, creating a Vision Board, my Wheel of Life exercise, along with tons of thought provoking questions, self assessment exercises, and content that will help you learn to practice La Dolce Vita techniques and incorporate them into  your life.
  • Private Facebook group – Where you can connect with other members, gather feedback, ask questions, AND have access to me during the entire program.
  • Special Bonuses – 2 of my fabulous audio programs, “How to Overcome the 3 Most Common Blocks to Living a Productive Life” and “Decision Making as a Means to Living a Satisfying Life & Enjoying a Successful Business.”
  • Opportunity for Private One-on-One Coaching at Discounted Rate – See section on Private Coaching Upgrade, which you can select at check out. All this for only $359!

BUT WAIT… if you register by February 12th, then you only pay the Early Bird Rate of $299.

That’s an amazingly affordable price to spend 6 weeks improving your life!

What are you waiting for? Come join La Dolce Vita now.

Ciao!

Lisa

PS – Portions of this program may qualify for Continuing Education Units (CEU) depending on your certification. For example, if you are a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO), some of the classes may be CEU eligible if you assist your clients with time and productivity management and life-work balance.

Do you…

… long to live a life of purpose and passion, that reflects your values AND desires?

… need permission to make your well-being, happiness, and self-care a priority?

… have fear that is still holding you back from going after what you want?

… feel tired of living your best life “in your head” and want to make it a reality in 2015?

Then you are in luck! Come learn how to live “The Sweet Life!”

Introducing the La Dolce Vita 6-Week Group Life Coaching Program from LMG University, starting on February 19, 2015.

Lisa-Sean-ItalyThis isn’t just any group life coaching program. It’s based on content taken from my concept of La Dolce Vita (The Sweet Life), a nd will help you bring the passion and zest back to your life.

The content is based on my research (and background!) of Italian culture, positive psychology and happiness, years of coaching clients holistically to integrate life-work balance, and my own personal lifestyle. My life is a work in progress, and sharing my own personal experience, and that of the hundreds of clients I have been privileged to work with, is part of the La Dolce Vita process.

Stop settling for good enough because you are worried if you go for great that people will think you are too big for your britches. It is time to step into your power and claim the life you know you are truly meant to live!

How much longer are you willing to wait? How much time are you willing to sacrifice? When will you decide that you deserve to be really happy and live The Sweet Life?

If you are committed to making regular “deposits” in areas of your life that have been neglected and feed them what they need to grow and prosper, then join me for La Dolce Vita.

Topics we’ll address in the 6 weeks:

checkbox Crazy Busy Is Not a Badge of Honor: Positive and Proactive Productivity
checkbox Prioritizing Self Care: Let Go, Say No, and Make You a Priority
checkbox Become a Passionista! How to Tap Into Your Passions & Manage Them
checkbox Don’t Be a See-Saw Anymore: Go Beyond Balance and Engage in Life-Work Integration
checkbox Mind, Body & Soul: Health & Fitness, Personal Spirituality
checkbox C’Mon Get Happy: The Power of Positivity
checkbox Connection & Relationships: Romance, Friends & Family, Say No to Toxic Relationships and Negative Nellies & Neds
checkbox Financial Wellness: Preparing for the Future, While Still Living Well Today
checkbox And more!

italy-vineyardMany people have been asking me to share this type of content and create a program like this for years. And I am thrilled to finally be able to share it with you. But I don’t want fiances to keep you from living a La Dolce Vita life! So I have kept this program affordable.

Early Bird Rate is $299 until 2/12; $359 thereafter (there’s even a 2 pay option available if you need to spread payments out).

Go to lisamontanaro.com/ladolcevita/a for details and to register.

Hope to help you live a La Dolce Vita kind of life this year!

PS – Portions of this program may qualify for Continuing Education Units (CEU) depending on your certification. For example, if you are a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO), some of the classes may be CEU eligible if you assist your clients with time and productivity management and life-work balance.

I love to work with business owners on a mission.

My clients are not men and women who are complacent with the status quo. They KNOW they are meant to do something important.

They see something they want and are looking for support to go and get it. “It” can be a boost in their business or a change in their lifestyle – the common denominator is passion and vision.

Which is why I am so excited to work with the men and women I am privileged to call my clients.

My current client roster includes business owners who are looking to make a difference in:

  • Arts
  • Technology
  • Law
  • Productivity
  • Relocation
  • Finance
  • Personal Image & Style
  • Entertaining and Enlightening audiences
  • Interior Environments
  • Non-Profit Consulting/Mediation
  • Marketing
  • Social Work

. . . and many other disciplines and industries. I know how to create a life for myself that is balanced, energizing, fulfilling and helpful to others. One of the ways I do this is by limiting my practice to a manageable number of clients and groups.

PowerUpI will be starting the 6-month PowerUp Your Business Group Coaching & Mastermind Program on January 6th for a small, special group of business owners who are passionate and know what they want, and who desire to become a part of a committed group to reach their vision. That’s my promise.

If you’re ready to make a commitment to yourself that sounds something like: “This is my time, my year, my turn to make it happen,” then join me and watch “it” come to fruition.

Check out all of the details here.

BONUS! If you sign up for Platinum Coaching with me, you get PowerUp at reduced rates. Contact me for the details.

So we are coming to the end of another year. And a particularly popular exercise that a lot of people do at the end of the year is to look back and reflect on their activities, goals, and achievements to determine if the year has been a successful one.

But this begs the question: How do you measure success? It seems to me that it’s important to have metrics in order to measure success. But these metrics are going to be very different from person-to-person, and from business-to-business.

Is success based on earning a certain amount of money? Maybe. But to me, not if it means working 100 hours a wee k, rarely seeing my friends and family, having no time for exercise, and never taking a vacation. I value financial wellness, but not at the expense of my life. For others, making a lot of money, even at the expense of their personal life, is a very important measurement of success. Only you know where your metrics lie when it comes to money.

Is success based on ticking off a huge to-do list? From a personal productivity standpoint, I’m all for being effective and productive, which often includes ticking items off of your to-do list. But sometimes the better option is culling down the to-do list and only focusing on what’s really important and is a priority. An overflowing to-do list can become a regimented replacement for enjoying the moment in favor of often unimportant activities.

Is success based on receiving external accolades, winning a competition, or getting some other type of attention? Again, it depends how important this is to you and what value it adds to your life or business.

I think success is highly personal and varies widely among people and organizations. What is considered a huge overarching success to one person, can be considered a colossal failure to another. Success is usually made up of activities and goals that lead to achievements that then lead to feelings of accomplishment, value, and self-worth. But for some people it’s not even the achievements that lead to success, but the activity of striving for a goal itself. In other words, it’s not the completion of an activity or goal, but the progress and effort of working towards it. As Greg Anderson so eloquently stated “Focus on the journey, not the destination. Joy is found not in finishing an activity, but doing it.”

success-2015Too often, we are measuring success using the wrong metrics. We need to be crystal clear as to our definition of success in order to know if we are, in fact, successful. To me, success can be defined as taking consistent action towards achieving my goals personally and professionally. I try to reward myself for progress and consistent action, not just results. Sometimes results are delayed, and sometimes for very legitimate reasons. If I only measured success when I actually achieve the results, it would certainly make the journey seem much longer and laborious.

So look back on your year, keeping your definition of success in place, and deciding on the metri cs that you will use to measure it. Make sure that your metrics are not so difficult to achieve that you set yourself up for never feeling like a success. On the other hand, try not to make your metrics so easy that you have nothing to strive for.

I hope you’ll join me in a toast. Here’s to a successful year — no matter what your success metrics are!

calendarA few weeks ago, I presented at the National Association of Professional Organizers San Francisco Bay Area Regional Conference. My topic was Make Time for This: Effective Time Management. As I was putting the finishes touches on my slides and handout prior to the conference, I started thinking about the many different systems, tools and strategies people use to manage their time. Specifically, I started thinking about how far we have come with regard to digital/electronic systems compared to years ago. Yet, every time I speak to an audience about time management and survey the participants, it amazes me how many people are still using paper-based systems (paper, pen, notebooks, post-it notes, folders, etc.) compared to digital (software, apps, tablets, smart phones, etc.). And yes, even in a room full of professional organizers and productivity consultants, there were more than a handful that admitted to still using a paper-based system.

So which is better? That’s not an easy question to answer, even for a productivity expert because the winner is in the eyes of the user.

checkmarkA paper-based system has a certain solidness to it. You get to touch your system and hold it in your hands. For people that are very tactile focused, this concreteness can make all the difference. Being able to write with your own hand, feel the pen move across the paper, turn the page, tab it, shuffle paper, put a post-it note on it, etc. can make all the difference. The act of being able to physically manipulate the system is what helps the paper-based user to stay in control of the system and perhaps even enjoy using it. The disadvantages to this “ol d fashioned” type system include a limited/finite amount of space/storage, inconvenient size if the system is too large to fit into a small purse or pocket for example, and the fear that your system can be easily lost or destroyed with no back up.

People that are digital focused tend to do better with an electronic system. There are many advantages, including the ability to set reminders and alarms, an amazing amount of storage (especially if your digital system is in the cloud), portability and often a small size if you use your system on a handheld device, and the ability to share and synchronize with other’s calendars in workplace. Some disadvantages are that you can’t always see the full month view (a real pet peeve for those that are strong visual learners), and it’s not satisfying for tactile individuals who love the feel of pen to paper.

I used a Filofax day planner for years when I was still practicing law. I absolutely loved it! The smell o f the leather, the feel of the paper, the way my pen filled up the pages with appointments, and the fact that it was always with me ready to serve me at a moment’s notice. I was very careful about the way I handled it, and was adamant about not losing it. Some lawyers were so fearful that they may lose their daily planner that they offered a hefty financial reward to anyone that found it and returned it to them! I knew someone that left his planner on a plane and got it back and did indeed send a large check to the finder.

I fought the digital revolution tooth and nail for a long time, as I loved my Filofax and it served me well in the sense that I used it religiously and had great time management skills. But when the Palm Pilot was created (yes, I am dating myself!), I thought I had died and gone to Heaven, which is surprising for such a tactile person (I love to write by hand… even to this day!). I think it was the fact that it looked like a Filofax (leather bound, small size with the device inside) and you could “write” with a stylus. So it was a great transition piece as it mimicked many of the attributes of a paper system, but was the beginning of the digital overthrow — at least for me!

asanaThe Palm was the first in line of many digital time management systems. I am now fully digital using Asana as my digital task/project management system (if you haven’t checked it out, go to Asana.com — it is free and pretty amazing!), and iCal as my digital calendar system on all of my Mac devices (iPhone, iPad and iMac). BUT I still often make a daily to-do list on good old fashioned paper, and sometimes I even do a Brain Dump on paper when I have a lot of mental clutter in my head and need to get it out. There is still something so satisfying to me about running th at pen across the paper and watching the words appear. And there is nothing like the feeling of physically crossing an item off your to-do list!

If you are still struggling with whether to go fully-digital or continue using your tried-and-true-but-outdated paper system, realize that you can use both. Just be careful not to duplicate your efforts (by using two systems for the exact same purpose) or create systems that conflict and compete with each other.

In the end, there is no “perfect” system. The ultimate goal of any productivity or time management system should be to capture and complete the tasks and responsibilities that make up your personal and professional life, not necessarily HOW that is accomplished. The system doesn’t have to be pretty or stylish (unless aesthetics are important to you), or the latest and greatest digital marvel (unless being a techie is fun for you and you love being an early adopter). The system just has to do its job, which is to help you manage your time and tasks better. Free yourself from the mindset that one is better than the other, and ask yourself which is better for you at this particular time in your life. And if you absolutely can’t choose one or the other, feel free to create a system that incorporates both the paper and digital worlds. Heck, you never know… it just may become the next big thing!

 Only One Month Left to Join Me in California Wine Country for my Live Retreat!

If you want to have a more successful and passionate life, and profitable and productive business or career, then ponder this:

“What got you here, won’t get you there.”

What you’ve been doing up until now has only gotten you where you are now. To reach higher goals, to get where your desires are calling you, you need something different.

You need to shake up the same-old, same-old.

You need to blow up the plan and get a new one!

wine_country_viewAnd you need to do it in an environment guaranteed to coax you out of your normal habits and patterns of thought and into fresh new ways of looking at your business, your life, and your opportunities.

Like beautiful California Wine Country this fall!

I’m taking a small group of women to Sonoma Valley next month to help them shake up things and step into a new plan for where they want to go — in their business/career and lives.

If you are serious about improving your life, personally and professionally, I’d like you to consider joining me for the Purpose, Passion, Productivity Retreat for Women Entrepreneurs & Leaders held November 6-9, 2014 in Sonoma Valley, CA. (And you still have a chance to use the 2-pay option today and spread payments out 14 days apart.)

The Good News is: We’re nearing full but still have room for a few more women! And there are still 30 days before the retreat, so ample time to plan logistics, like transportation, lodging, and time off. Yes, that’s par t of the beauty of this event… you get to unplug from your “regular” life and work and do a deep dive into your personal and professional development.

vineyard_grapesIf you are interested in joining me, give the retreat page a look and go ahead and register… or feel free to set up a chat with me if you have any questions.

We are such reflections of our environment: the people we hang out with, the four walls we work in, the food we eat, the routines, the habits, the everyday.

Get out of your everyday environment. Join me in California Wine Country and surround yourself with:

  • like-minded go-for-it women entrepreneurs and leaders
  • facilitative guidance, insights and training from me
  • the inspiring and nourishing Wine Country landscape, food, wine, and culture

The retreat will be a game changing experience! Hope to “see” you on November 6th for our Meet & Greet Wine Reception. See the details here.