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Evading the – not enough time – trap

August 1, 2014

Have you ever felt like there just wasn’t enough time to get everything done?

Well this May found me in a panic about a presentation I was giving with a fellow coach for a large group of women lawyers. At the heart of my panic was the thought “there isn’t enough time to prepare” followed by a second thought “and so I am not going to be good enough”.

That thought “there’s not enough time” raises much anxiety and stress in the legal profession and is the root cause of a lot of inefficiency, procrastination and wine guzzling.

The culprit for all this stress is a little almond shaped part of the brain known as the amygdala. It is the “fight or flight” centre of the brain. It is also known as our reptile brain or my particular favorite expression used by brain researchers – the neural back alley.

As my mentor Martha Beck says, the amygdala is all about lack and attack. All your scarcity thoughts come from the amygdala.

Here’s the challenge: The amygdala isn’t your smart brain. The smart brain is the prefrontal cortex located in your forehead. When we are down the back alley we are no longer thinking straight. We are reacting rather than responding. This stress propels some people, like me into panicked action. Others freeze.

My May article for Slaw.ca is all about how to get yourself out of the “not enough time” panic or frozen state and back into productive action.  You can read it here.

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Superwoman, superman, take off your cape

February 5, 2014

My Slaw column in January picked up on an important theme I have been exploring in my work and in my writing, namely, the trap of setting super hero expectations for ourselves in terms of volume and quality of our work, number of commitments we take on, and so on.  I personally ran headlong into this in the lead up to the December holiday period and ended the year with much to reflect on.  If you, like me, have a strict inner task master or mistress, please read on.

From the column:

On Christmas Eve, instead of happy dreams of sugar plums and nutcrackers I tossed and turned in bed battling inner demons that were determined to remind me of all my apparently innumerable short comings.

I was sick with a flu that left me weak and unable to carry out my fabulous plans for holiday entertaining. Adding insult to injury, I was left curled up on the couch clutching my cup of camomile tea and watching others sip from that bottle of California Cult Classic wine we had been saving.

Holiday photos this year feature me with tangled hair and dark circles under my eyes. Heck even my dog didn’t want to be seen with me!

How did this happen? I burned the candle at both ends. I attempted to be everything to everyone, exceed expectations, and…

Click here to view article.

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7 tips for the time-crunched lawyer

October 12, 2013

My latest article is up on Slaw.ca – 7 tips for the time-crunched.  This month I am focused on what it takes to thrive in the whirlwind of our everyday lives.  Although my title to this post specifies lawyers, the article is really aimed at any one working in a law firm or indeed professionals in general.  One caveat, in my quick editing of the article prior to submission I didn’t notice that I skipped from tip three to tip five so really it should be six tips for the time-crunched.

So here is my missing tip number four:

Sleep.  Rest.  Recuperate.

Tip four isn’t really complicated.  It is however essential.  Human beings need eight hours of sleep a night.  Our brains work so much better when given the opportunity for a good’s night rest.  One of the results of our energetic, to-do-list lives, is that we borrow the time we need for sleep and give it to other activities.  The result is that we aren’t as sharp and alert as we could be, our thinking is slowed down, and we get less done.  I am working with a couple of clients now caught in the sleep deprivation spiral.

I suggest a simple experiment.  In the coming week try getting 8 hours or more of sleep a night for 3 consecutive nights and experience how it feels.  Are you more clear-headed?  What impact does it have on your levels of stress and anxiety during the day?  Are you accomplishing more during the day?  Send me an email and let me know what you notice.



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