“Nothing is so fatiguing as the eternal hanging on of an uncompleted task.” William James

It is spring and distraction is all around us. Okay it is all around me at least. I find it hard to focus when the breeze is warm and the sun is shining (okay it can be cloudy and cool too). Even my offspring feels like he is wearing cement boots towards the finish line of school.

I have been hearing lots of other people talking about having a tough time keeping  focused and getting things done. It got me thinking, how do we do that? How do we keep ourselves motivated?

I sure could use a refresher on that – I have things to get done!!!

So here is my kick-start motivation checklist:

Start. Really, just do something, anything for 15 minutes and see what happens. For me this is often like the cork coming off the champagne bottle, once it pops, you have got to jump in!  Write something, read something, talk about it to someone, Google information, whatever. Just get STARTED.

Choose one thing to accomplish TODAY. (Yes it can be the easiest piece, or it can be the most exciting piece of the project/task, whatever compels you to get STARTED.)

Make a work plan – this always works to scare the heck out of me, seeing the time crunch that is about to present itself. Assigning time and dates to steps sure gets the anxiety juice going, and that can often be enough to get STARTED.

Get your head into it – get some brain food (i.e., healthy), not mood food (i.e., tasty), get some fresh air, read a few jokes online, change your scenery for 10 minutes (get up and walk away from your desk). Kill four birds with one stone – eat some nuts while you walk briskly outside in the sunshine, telling yourself jokes! If all else fails get up and go get a coffee, that will at least get you through the 15 minutes to get STARTED.

Whine to someone – this works especially well with males. When you tell them a problem you have, they will automatically tell you what you need to do ;-). Seriously, call someone trusted and say you need a motivational jump start, will they listen to you, soon you will not want to listen to yourself, and you will get STARTED.

Give it to someone else to do – I love this one! Vicki maybe not so much. But sometimes it can work, having to explain to someone what you are passing off, often is the kick start to focusing and then you feel quite able to get STARTED.

Take off, I am not talking about shopping or some other distraction, remember that is what we are trying to avoid?! I am talking about moving your local to an untypical workspace that feels fresh, treat it like a retreat.

Finally, what works well for children can also work well for ourselves. Bribery. Promise yourself, when you get X done, I will give you X (fabulous new shoes for a finished report is completely reasonable to me!).

There we go – I am on it. I am jazzed, I am ready to go.  I am going to post this on my computer, front and centre. If only I were motivated to find that tape….






Proud to be Mediocre!

by Karen on August 12, 2011


After a tough couple of years trying to make sense of the economy and in doing so scrambling to get by with as little resources and investment as possible, do you now feel like things inside your organization are back on track?  They sure are better than they were.  Customers are happier and there are fewer serious service problems.

During the economic turmoil it became a little more acceptable to deliver less than excellent service.  It became the necessity to change schedules, downgrade service commitments and even answer the phone a little slower simply because the human resources and the assets just were not available.  Co-workers might have even started making excuses for each others’ failings, explaining them away because they “understood” the pressure the other guys were under.

And, if you kept your job when many were laid off, you were grateful even if that meant working more hours for less pay.  Caution – that often translates into keeping quiet about problems so as not to be seen as a troublemaker.

What has all of this done to the performance expectations and the service bar of your team?

If you start probing around and hear from the frontline “service is pretty good, better than we were” or “we’re as good as everybody else” it is time to take a hard look at the performance goals (if they are still there) of the organization.  Undoubtedly, they aren’t high enough.

When did it become okay to be as good as the next guy?


Last night I attended the Women Mentors & Friends event at the Calgary Petroleum Club.   I was drawn to the event because of the diverse and meaningful speaker line-up, but even more so by the format the club promised.  The goal for the evening was to provide a strong connection and dialogue between the speakers and the attendees.

The five speakers, all recognized for success in their chosen field, presented to the women in attendance in small groups.  Each break-out session lasted 20 minutes so I was able to sit in on 3 amazing dialogues.  Each woman told their story in brief and then opened it up to an informal and candid discussion.  The 5 speakers were The Honourable Justice Elizabeth Hughes, Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, Ruth Ramsden-Wood, President and CEO of the United Way of Calgary and Area, Anna Wallner, Co-Creator, Producer and host of Shopping Bags, A&K’s Grocery Bag, and A&L’s Beauty Call, Esther Colwill, Parntner, Deloitte & Touche AND mountaineer (she has reached 7 summits!) and Carlene Donnelly, Executive Director, Calgary Urban Project Society.

The consistent messages I heard from the three women I listened to was that their success was very much tied to a strong belief in themselves and their ideas, persistence (expect to hear “no” way more than you hear “yes”) and you have to love what you’re doing because it will be hard work, time consuming and require personal sacrifice if you want to reach the top.  None of them regret their choices and the passion in their voice was truly admirable and contagious.

In the end though, I was most surprised by the diverse group of women who attended the meeting.  In the brief time allotted for getting to know your neighbour, I met a social media expert who came from the film industry, a cultural legacy strategist who is coaching organizations up and down the west coast through leadership transitions and a PR and community engagement strategist.  There is a lot going on in this city, and a truly passionate and driven group of women who are looking to make a mark in their industry.

An inspiring evening!



Can you Handle the Truth?

January 28, 2011

Effective and efficient businesses and organizations know who their ideal customer or client is, what problems they are trying to solve and why.  The ideal client values what you do, they are willing to pay you appropriately for your service and/or product and view their relationship with you (your organization) as a wise  investment that […]

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What’s Your next Chapter?

January 7, 2011

That is the headline on the front page of the current edition of The Oprah Magazine.  I had to pick it up because “what’s my next chapter?” is how I’ve framed significant unplanned changes in my life and it has helped me move ahead with curiosity, an open mind and optimism.  Change is difficult for […]

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