Want More Ease? Ten Work Habits To Re-Consider.
Explore new ways of working to invite in more ease.
Ease, who isn’t up for more ease?
In this article I’m exploring work habits that may be well worn and wonderful but might also be where you can bring in a shift or adjustment on behalf of creating more ease.
As you read this article remember that your current habits don’t need to be abandoned — after all they got you to where you are today.
But habits are also just that… habits. They are ways of working that are on autopilot, and ways of efforting that we barely think twice about. So if we’d like to invite more ease into the day to day, your work habits are a great place to start.
Because our work habits often formed in a time before we became entrepreneurs.
Perhaps they were born during the long and gruelling days of corporate life, where you worked intensely towards quarterly targets and unforgiving standards. Maybe they were shaped by the modelling of hard working parents toiling from early dawn to sundown to ensure the family was fed and the bills were paid. Or, your work habits might be the residue of your time at university where you pulled all-nighters to get the A grades you needed…
Yes, these work habits have served us well. And maybe, just maybe they can also inspire a shift to more ease as you stand on their foundation and evolve them for use today.
HABIT ONE: Future-forwarding
The future is an entrepreneur’s playground and the time & place you wake up to work on each morning. When you’re entertaining new possibilities, setting goals for the next launch, making plans to re-do your website and mulling over other dreams, you are working future-forward. For some the future is uncertain and scary, but for you, the entrepreneur it fuels your optimism and holds your promises.
But only holding this future forward view can keep you from appreciating what you’re doing in the present. The progress we make always happens in the moment so it’s important to remember and acknowledge the steps you took today as well as the ones you’ve already taken to build a foundation for your business. Without including a wider of time we can feel wobbly or like we’re never arriving in our imagined future.
A practice for ease: Include the past & present view
The future is fun, but she’s also a slave whose work is never finished. To feel stable and accomplished in your business and create a sense of self confidence that you’re doing The Thing it’s important to access and include the wisdom of our past and acknowledge initiatives already complete. The future is interesting to explore (and sometimes a great distraction); it is today’s efforts, however, no matter their size that are creating the vision you see — they need to be included in the view.
Practically speaking, on a weekly or monthly basis be sure to take a look at all you’ve been doing. Go back to review your to-do list, review all the client appointments on your calendar, notice the courses you’ve been learning and feel the ground beneath your feet. The future needs to feel like you’re meeting her and this only happens when you can fully relax into the awareness that you are truly walking towards her.
HABIT TWO: Working (and thinking about work) all day
Your to-do list is endless. You mark one item done and add two more things on that come to mind. You connect with a client and get off your call with three more action items to tackle before the day is out. A feeling of progress is elusive, and hard to really experience fully when your to-do lists are like magnets for more.
Can you see just how willing you are to do all the things? And can you feel how delicious it is to cross things off the list (which compels you to keep adding)? Your to-do list helps you remember to stay busy, but she’s not so great at helping you to forget what’s still left to do.
A practice for ease: Claiming enoughness
You can assure yourself that you’ll wake up tomorrow and find your list ready for you. She’ll never say you’ve done enough. That’s not her intent. So it’s time for you to appreciate your bias for work and also stake the ground — you must be the first to tell yourself that you’ve done enough today.
When starting this practice, you may not feel like you’ve done enough. What does “enough’’ feel like anyway? But you can learn this, you can begin to affirm to yourself at the end of the work day: “I am doing enough.” Say it again and say it out loud. And when your mind travels back to work in the evening, you can say it again: “I am doing enough.”
HABIT THREE: Valuing a fast work pace exclusively
Do you have a bias for working quickly? Does the adrenalin of urgency spur you on? Does everything feel important to do now? And perhaps you can see the prevalence of cultural judgments about a slow work pace… that it’s lazy and inefficient and won’t get you to your destination fast enough. So you keep on cruising.
There is certainly a growing cultural emphasis on slowing down, we know working at a fast pace exclusively is not a sustainable nor productive approach to work. Having said this, I’m not a proponent of fast nor slow. I’m much more curious about what is the speed we need to do different kinds of work. And there is my own favourite question of: “What happens when I work at my own pace?”
A practice for ease: Varying your speed
Start to attune to pace and your own beliefs (and the ones around you) about which pace is “better”. Spend time observing your own work habits and reflecting upon the following questions:
- When you work at a fast pace what happens with more ease? In other words, which tasks or projects benefit from a rapid pace and why?
- What happens best when you work at a slower, more measured pace? And note, that by a “slow” pace I’m not inferring that you’re tired and unable to go fast. Are there some activities that benefit from going slowly?
- What kind of work happens best when you work at your own pace? And how do you know what this pace is? When does this pace show up and what kind of work are you able to do when attuned to your own rhythm?
HABIT FOUR: Over-committing and under-resourcing
When you made your plan for this past week did you scan across your personal life to see what was going on? How did that scan cause you to adjust/ not adjust the work plan? As entrepreneurs, moms, partners etc. we are accustomed to doing all the things, and working in a way that keeps each week full to the max.
This is a sure-fire habit to keep ease at bay. Overcommitting by filling up the week and remaining optimistic that in spite of a very full personal life (which we all have) you’ll get it all done is a habit that might best be reserved for a handful of weeks a year. And if you’re like many women I know (self included), it barely crosses the mind to consider what would truly allow her to make this ultra-full week a possibility — we’re just so used to doing it on our own.
A practice for ease: Capacity plan & support yourself
A less-full life isn’t the aim here. The questions is to assess capacity. After all, you signed up to be an entrepreneur so that you could do it your way, on your own terms — not in spite of a full personal life, but because of it. This coming week, as you scan your life, assess your capacity for work on a scale of 1–10. No bother about getting it ‘right’. You’re looking to develop your own barometer so you can begin adjusting over time. Then do it again next week. And the following.
And to support yourself get curious about what you will need to get the work done given the capacity number. (I’m assuming you’ve paired back the to-do list if next week’s capacity is low)…. Ideas may include: asking for help, making sure you get take-out on Wednesday, ensuring you build in a walk with your bestie to process the intense home situation going on etc….
HABIT FIVE: Working without breathing room
A follow on from the habit above. What about margin? Whitespace? Is putting breathing room into your life a practice that you currently have? Do you have a habit of working most of the time? And perhaps the lines of work and home are so blurred you don’t even know how it happened…all the work bleeds together across the canvas.
Being able to do all the things because you’re accustomed to doing them, means only that; you’re skillful at juggling all the balls. So what happens? Our lives get fuller and fuller and somehow before we know it, we wake up without any space for ourselves.
A practice for ease: Build in margin
I hope you can affirm your ability to do all the things, and I hope too that you can see, even if just a glimpse that just because you can work that way doesn’t mean it’s sustainable nor productive. What would happen if you could insert a little bit of breathing room into your life, a pause or two? Consider this to be an experiment — you don’t even need to know what you’d do in that time.
So, try this — build in white space — untouchable blocked out time on the calendar for you… time for whatever you need it to be…. And then you’ve got to hold on to that time for you. If this feels impossible, scale it back and build in margin around your day. Even if it’s simply 5 minutes. Start with 5 and next week make it 10.
HABIT SIX: Allowing a negative internal dialogue to persist
There are thousands of reasons why we might be prone to negative inner chatter. If you are a solopreneur or spend a lot of your working time alone, it’s especially important to pay attention to the quality of your internal dialogue; you are your own team. While we might be accustomed to speaking to ourselves in a mean or self-judgemental way, it’s simply not okay to allow this kind of relationship-to-self to fuel the work.
I have yet to meet a human that is truly motivated by mean spiritedness. I have never seen my own kids improve their own behavior or show up as a better version of themselves when there are mean words in their midst (admittedly some of them originate from my mouth).
A practice for ease: Offer yourself kind words
Kind words. Can you speak kind words to yourself during the day? Can you choose to shift away from your inner critic towards a gentler, more compassionate voice?
Even if there is a part of you doubting if 100% self kindness is a better way forward, we can all benefit from tipping the balance towards kindness. And this practic isn’t about being inauthentic and plastering on words that feel plastic or untrue, it’s about recognizing you are your own team, and choosing nicer words to say to yourself is far more motivating and uplifting.
HABIT SEVEN: Being dismissive of yourself and your accomplishments
Hands up if you sometimes find it hard to accept a compliment. And, both hands up if you found yourself in a subsequent moment minimizing the effort and what it took to make it happen.
Sometimes we don’t even notice it, we finish a great blog post or Facebook Live. Or we complete a program with a client who really benefited from our services, and then on we go to the next thing, barely registering the impact we’ve had. It’s a habit that we barely register — we rarely notice that we’re doing good things.
A practice for ease: Find your way of celebrating
I have peers who will celebrate business accomplishments with champagne. Others give themselves a handbag. Personally I’m not motivated by buying myself gifts or giving myself experiences as a way of celebrating my accomplishments in my work so I’ve had to find my own way of celebrating. This may sound cheesy, but for me I need to pause, me-with-me to notice how I am having an impact on others. This may not be your thing, but my way of celebrating and acknowledging my work is to let myself feel that I’m making a difference.
Touching down and tasting the impact you’re having is such an important part of creating ease — and more joy — in your work life. Feeling that your work is making a difference is a cornerstone to why you’re in business and the only person that can help you truly know this is you. Have the courage to celebrate.
HABIT EIGHT: Over-consuming content
We sign up for all the courses, we subscribe to all the cool newsletters, we follow all the people, we buy all the books and then listen to podcast after podcast. We’re bloated on content and find learning a guilty pleasure. I’m in this camp with you, so no judgment here, but what we do need to be aware of are a couple of things:
- Drowning out your own wisdom by consuming all of someone else’s stuff. Does their wisdom feel more true or right than yours?
- Consuming learning consciously, meaning are you applying what you are learning in your business or are you putting off doing the real work of your business or simply procrasti-learning as one my coaches would call it?
Overconsuming content is an expensive habit in business both financially (time and money) and also for our spirit and sense of self — our over-consumption keeps us from seeing that we have so much in us already to give.
A practice for ease: Nourish yourself consciously
There are some alternative practices to consider that may support your voracious desire to learn as well as your desire to have an impact and make a contribution in your work:
One teacher at a time. Are you working with a coach right now? Or taking a course from a teacher you deeply respect? Can you dedicate yourself to exclusively being a good student of this investment for a season.
One course at a time. Perhaps you are taking a course on finding your brand voice and it’s deep work. Can you focus on working through the entire course to really support your desire to find your voice?
Be your own teacher. What if for a season you were your own (and only) teacher? What would allow you to access your own perspective and tap into your unique way of doing things?
HABIT NINE: Chasing goals
Goals are a massive source of motivation. They keep us focusing on a destination beyond us, one that we are excited to reach which promises us something new. Perhaps we are super keen and focused on getting our new website launched, or maybe we’d like to create a new course by the end of the summer? Or maybe your goal is to add 100 new members to your email list this month. Goals keep us chasing what we have determined is needed for our businesses, and ourselves to flourish. Goals help us grow outwards to something beyond ourselves.
And they often feel otuside of us — somewhere that we can’t quite access… and so we chase. We run towards. We strive. Always going after the thing…
A practice for ease: Growing roots of mastery
A bright woman I was speaking to lately was telling me that she was feeling exhausted by constantly chasing after goals. While we both acknowledged the clarity that can come from having clear goals, she felt a bit lost in the trap of constant goal setting, always looking forward and going beyond herself.
She was looking for depth, for mastery, for a shift in the direction of subtle improvements that came from staying right where she was. She began to explore the idea of setting down roots where she was and gave herself permission to settle into what she was already doing and enjoying the present. Less chasing. More ease. What would it feel like to have deeper roots?
HABIT TEN: Hyper focusing on the destination
We are often encouraged to narrow our focus and think single mindedly about where we want to go, shutting out all distractions and as efficiently as we can moving to our destination, however we define it. We are willing to put in the longer hours and later nights, and keep moving forward.
Sometimes this way is called for, in the days before a product is launched is not the time to broaden focus. But holding the view so narrowly on behalf of getting somewhere means we don’t enjoy the road we’re on. We’re crowding it all out.
A practice for ease: Also enjoying the journey
All of these practices above are designed to give you a taste of what it can be like on the journey. We know where we’re going but can we also have ease, fun and joy along the way? Can we also discover and appreciate all the small markers of progress around us? Can we give ourselves persmissin to find ease in today, to breathe, to go out for a walk and allow ourselves to relax into ease?
Where can you build in more ease?
Small shifts are all that are needed. Building on and waking up sleepy work habits so that they can offer you a work appropriate way now.
And it’s worth repeating — your work habits are good — they got you here — but sometimes, like an old set of tires, we need to bring in the new set because we’re running a little thread bare. So tell me, which one is calling out for a switch? Share in the comments below and let me know what’s helping you access more ease…. because we’d all like a little more of it.