Episode 126 | July 24, 2018

How to Get Sh*t Done with Erin Falconer


A Personal Note from Orion

Some days, it seems like you blink and the time has flown by. Before you know it, it’s the end of the day and your computer is turned off, the dishes are put away, your workout completed. Maybe your children are in bed and tomorrow’s lunches are already packed. And still… you have a mountain of laundry staring at you on the couch, a report that your boss is expecting on her desk tomorrow, and a forgotten promise to call your mother. 

Don’t panic – you can do it all, you just won’t be able to do it all at once. There is an art in achieving more, while doing less, and my guest today is an expert in this. Erin Falconer is the author of How to Get Shit Done: Why Women Need to Stop Doing Everything So They Can Achieve Anything, and she shares how you can refocus your mind so you can breathe and enjoy life!

 

About Today’s Show

Hello. This is Orion. How are you doing? Do you feel overwhelmed like there is so much to do and so little time? You blink and the day goes by? Don’t worry, today’s episode is going to help you. I invited Erin Falconer, the author of How to Get Sh*t Done: Why Women Need to Stop Doing Everything So They Can Achieve Anything to help us. She is the partner and Editor in Chief of pickthebrain.com, and the co-founder of leaf.tv, and she’s a Canadian living in L.A. She is a wonderful human being that is going to really help you refocus and reorganize your mind so you can breathe and enjoy life, and achieve more and do less. Now, without further ado, onto the show. Hi Erin, and welcome to Stellar Life Podcast.

Thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to chat with you today.

Why don’t we start by you sharing a little bit about yourself.

Sure. My name is Erin Falconer, I am a Canadian who lives in Los Angeles, Venice, California.

Across the street from me.

Right? I know. Which we just discovered. We’re literally neighbors and I run and the co-owner of a pretty big self improvement blog called Pick The Brain which is pickthebrain.com and I co founded a company called LEAFtv which is kind of a millennial ecommerce how to shopping site. I have just released my first book which is called How to Get Sh*t Done, Why Women Need to Stop Doing Everything So They Can Achieve Anything. I kind of live in a world of self improvement, and female empowerment, and spend a lot of my time online.

It seems like you accomplished a lot in a very short time. How did that happen?

Well, it felt like every overnight success it took about 15 years. When I was growing up, I was on this fast track to be a professional, I was considering law, I was very studious, I was very happy in the world of academia and when I was about 17 years old, I got this kind of random bug bite to start performing. I started at a very young age performing stand up comedy. while I was going to university, I performed the whole time and when I was about to go to law school something inside me said, you’ve got to give this creative side of you a chance. Long story short, much to the horror of my parents who thought I was on the fast track to law school, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue this dream of writing and performing, the kind of classic thing. I found myself seven or eight years later, totally down and out, no money, no car, house being foreclosed upon, you name it, Visa maxed me up, and I kind of had a major crisis on my hands where I thought I was going to have to go back to Canada like a complete you know in my mind, a complete failure. I was literally desperate, there was a ticking clock where I had no money and I need to figure something out. I applied for 100 jobs on Craigslist and got one response to be a copywriter for this self improvement site. It’s $15 an hour, I can’t believe this is the writing job I’ve gotten, seven years later living in Los Angeles, but it’s take this job or go back to Canada. I took the job and I did everything I could to make it count, and as a result, Pick the Brain came out. I learned very quickly about both the self improvement world, and the online world. This is like around 2007 when blogging was just really starting to pick up. It was completely new to everybody, and through a sequence of lucky events, I found myself running Pick the Brain which was a very tiny almost nonexistent blog. But again, good timing, I got my foothold in there. I was able to turn Pick the Brain into this very small blog. Now I have 200 to 300 writers writing for me.

Wow.

Yeah but that was not overnight, that took about six or seven years, and then through my success with Pick The Brain, I was able to go out and raise money for the other company LEAF, which I had a partnership with Jerry Hirsch and we founded LEAFtv, and then out of those two successes, came the book. This overnight success basically has taken about 17 years.

Were you always a very productive person?

You know, when I think when I have something that I’m really amped about, and I’m really focused on, and it excites me, my enthusiasm will not wane. I am excited and I want to get things done, and in those moments, I am as productive I believe as it gets. Where I am very unproductive is when there are things that I’m not enthusiastic about doing, where I have a lack of motivation around, it’s very difficult for me to be productive. I have a tendency to procrastinate, and I don’t think this is an atypical behavior, but the stuff that you don’t love, I have in the past have trouble getting it done. Once you analyze and realize overall, I don’t have a lack of motivation, I have a lack of motivation on certain things, once you become cognizant of that, it becomes a lot easier to get a plan in place where you can start to get all your stuff done in a meaningful way. It’s something that I have to be really conscious of so that I don’t slip into old habits.

So what do you do not to slip into old habits?

Well again, I think the thing is just to be aware of first of all like I know I don’t like doing this. that’s half the battle, it is knowing that and then it’s like okay, but now I’m going to get a plan to get it done. for me getting the stuff I don’t like done first is really important so it’s like I always have something to look forward to, the stuff that I do like, I put at the end because it’s like that’s something that if I can get through the stuff that’s boring, then I have something to look forward to. As opposed to the other way, it’s like you get stuff that you really like to do, you just kind of want to keep working on that stuff because the prospect of doing the stuff you don’t like is waiting for you at the end. My go to is just try and get the stuff that you’re less enthusiastic about, done first. More importantly than that, and I talk about this all the time in the blog, and also in the book it’s like, understanding the stuff you don’t like, why are you doing it? Because you want to get to a place where you are doing as much as possible that you love, and that lights you up, charges you up. Of course, you’re not going to go through every day, loving every minute of your day. We have to be realistic about that, every single day there’s going to be stuff that you love to do hopefully, and stuff that you don’t want to do. The goal is to be constantly minimizing the stuff that you don’t like to do, and maximizing the stuff that you do like. It’s like finding the right path for you where you can have it be like an 80/20 love or don’t love workload, or I don’t even like calling it work, the things that you’re doing on the a regular daily basis. All these stuff comes back to consciousness for me. So much of what we’re doing every day, we don’t pay attention to it, we just try to get through the day, and we’re going through the motions, and how many times have you gotten to the end of the week and you go, “Wow, where did this week go?” Well, that’s a problem, you want to understand, you want to be living in the moment so that when you get to the end of the week, you know where you spent your time, and more importantly, you’re happy with how you spent your time. So that for me is kind of always like the guiding light, or the true north, really understanding how you’re spending your time so that then you can live in that time as opposed to just trying to get through it.

Just try and get the stuff that you’re less enthusiastic about, done first. Click To Tweet

Is this a black and white separation? These are the things I don’t like to do, these are the things I like to do, or is there a way to change it to where you start liking or enjoying doing the things that you don’t like?

Yeah, that’s a really good question. I don’t think it is black and white, I think there’s a lot of grey, and that’s where things get interesting. I think that a lot of the things that we’re doing that we don’t like to do, we haven’t taken the time to understand why we’re doing these things. Finding the why behind all the stuff you’re doing is really important, because the why is what motivates you. Things that you can actually feel like, without thinking about things, there are certain things that feel really mundane. If you understand the why, like if I’m doing this, it’s because I’m going to get here, and that gets me closer to where I really want to be. Then those things that are seemingly mundane or boring all of a sudden have purpose. That’s where the grey lives. It’s like if you can find the purpose behind the mundane, the mundane becomes that much less mundane. They’re simply just stuff that as human beings, we need to get done, you need to brush your teeth. You not going to be particularly excited and pumped about brushing your teeth, but you have to do it. There’s that category of things which just is like as normal healthy functioning people, you need to do. That’s just you have do it, do it and get on with it. in terms of like your overall motivation and going towards your goals, again, when you take the time to analyze what it is you’re doing, and you put a why or a reason behind a lot of them, and you should be able to find a why or reason, if you can’t find a why or a reason, that’s half the problem. Then you should not probably be doing those things. If you can find the why, even if it’s a small why, that doesn’t have to be a yell out loud why, even like a whisper of a why, that’s enough to take something mundane and make it less mundane because there’s a purpose behind it.

Finding the why behind all the stuff you’re doing is really important, because the why is what motivates you.

Do you know Dr. Demartini?

Yes.

I studied with him, and I interviewed him for the Huffington Post, and I had him here on the podcast, for the listener, people who don’t know him, he was also a guest on the movie The Secret, he’s a big motivational speaker, a thinker, a philosopher, super smart man, genius.

Very smart.

Yes, and on his website, he’s got his value determination, the Demartini Value Determination which is a super cool exercise where you go to the exercise, and you figure out by analyzing your surroundings, the books you read, at the end you think about what you put most effort into, you figure out your top highest values, your four top highest values, and according to Dr. Demartini, the themes that are on your number six, seven, eight, nine, ten, will be the themes that you will probably never achieve because they are not linked to your highest value. For example, if the number one is family, and number two is travel, and number three is your body, and number four is something else, but finance is number 10, then it will be super hard for people to achieve finance, and they will go and procrastinate because they want to put more effort in those four top values. Let’s say number one was family, and then you create this psychological link between finance and family, and how if you are going to work in this certain job, it’s going to lead somewhere, it’s going to help your family, and you make this very strong connection, then you can take the themes that you maybe don’t like to do, or procrastinate if you want to do, but there is this subconscious conflict inside, and you shift it around, and then you like it, it’s very similar to what you said.

Right, that’s basically exactly what I’m saying in a different package, but yes, it’s finding the value behind what you’re doing and how it moves your larger goals forward.

Do you think that procrastination and empowerment have something to do with each other when it comes to women?

I think there’s a lot behind female empowerment right now, when you say procrastination empowerment, do you mean that women are procrastinating from being empowered, or that it is hard to be empowered if you’re procrastinating?

What I’m saying is that, women will procrastinate on their dreams because they don’t feel empowered enough.

Yes, definitely. They don’t feel empowered enough and there’s a big fear factor, there’s also a guilt factor because it’s like, if I want to go for this, I feel like I’m supposed to be doing something else because society has told me that, my family has told me that, I’ve probably told myself that I should be doing something else, but in my heart, I feel like I want to be doing X, Y, and Z. There’s a lot of conflict that lives in the feminine psychology that precludes us from really owning our empowerment. I think what’s very interesting right now is we’re seeing a big movement to let go of all of those things that are holding us back, and to really own this moment, because I think that there is the pendulum that is changing for women a little bit. We’re obviously seeing it all over social, and in the news, and I’m not just talking about the big movements that are happening, I think that there is a general consensus that it’s time that women are equal, and the only people that are going to make that happen is women. I think something that even like two years ago, we didn’t feel like our voice should necessarily be as loud as the men in the room. I think we’re finding that voice. Certainly—in the past from owning our true sense of power.

There’s a lot of conflict that lives in the feminine psychology that precludes us from really owning our empowerment. Click To Tweet

Yeah in the western world, yes.

Yes, in the western world, yes.

Right now I’m in Israel, in Israel women are equal, we had a woman prime minister, women are in the army, they are leading big companies. It’s very much a female empowerment society, I just came back from a trip from Egypt that’s why I’m saying that, because I just came back last week from a trip to Egypt, and I saw the pyramids, and I saw the beautiful temples, but when I went to Cairo, I felt very unsafe. It was super hot, it was like 105 and I was covered from head to toe but I didn’t have a hair cover, and the people, the guys in the street, you almost don’t see women in the street, you see just men, and they all stare at you, and there is a big problem of cat calling, and sexual harassment in Cairo, later on when I did my research, I saw it is the most dangerous mega city for women in the whole world. I felt very unsafe there, even when I went to the market, I covered my hair, and I still felt very unsafe, and the women there, they’re trying to have their voice heard, but the society condition there, I don’t know when it’s going to happen. I really hope it will for them… we should be very grateful where we live and have this safety to walk down the street, and be ourselves, and have big businesses, and big blogs, and all that. That really affected me. It really affected me, and I put my mind in perspective as to, “Wow, we are so privileged.” It’s so cool that we can talk about the voices, and the things that we do, and how we can advance in the world.

Yeah, it’s so true. As much as in the United States, there is a slight imbalance, there are definitely places in the world as you’re talking about Israel, and certain places in Europe where it feels very balanced but then there are those places in the Middle East, and India, and Pakistan, and the I mean parts of Africa where it’s just like it’s almost like they’re totally second class citizens. We definitely have it. Lucky and to your point, it’s not even just about, “Hey let’s get paid the same, there’s a real fear factor of personal safety, which is we’re sometimes afraid to speak up in a boardroom because our voice might not be heard, or we might get fired, this is like if you say something wrong, you could get killed. We’re talking about real profound human rights problems as far as I’m concerned.

Yeah, so in your blog, do you talk about this type of issues as well?

One of the really cool things about the blog is that as I mentioned at the top, I have a lot of people writing for me and the cool thing is that they’re writing from all over the world. I have people submitting content from Ireland, from Israel, from India, Canada, the UK, Australia you name it, and it’s really interesting that there’s different perspectives, and how different cultures handle things. What’s also interesting is that the problems that we face here, the kind of philosophical, or psychological problems we face here are very similar in the sense that just the humanness comes through that no matter where you’re living around the world, you’re still dealing with the human condition. There are different ways again to deal with different pieces of advice depending on where you where you find yourself in the world, but that’s what has kept me so enthusiastic after all this time on the blog because I am getting that international perspective. What I personally write about on the blog is much more specific to me and my experience. I’ve never been to Egypt for example, and so I think I couldn’t personally speak to that, so you will find content on the blog that is very international. It’s just the stuff that I’ve written is as much more personal to me.

What do you like writing about?

I like writing about number one, I like writing about women and my experience as a woman. I’ve had numerous careers over the past 25 years, and so I’ve kind of dipped my toes in a lot of arenas, the politics, again stand up comedy. Then a lot of different writing in the startup world. I’ve had all of these experiences and I’ve gotten a great chance, great opportunities to work with very strong creative women. I love talking about that, and my experiences in that. People email me all the time, readers email me all the time, and there’s this idea of where to get started, and how to get started, and that’s the biggest kind of challenge that I see it for a lot of the people that are writing into me. One of the biggest problems I see is that people like to live in their heads and that’s for many reasons, but the number one reason is fear. The cure for fear, is action. Once you’ve started taking action, the voice of fear gets more and more quiet. I like that process of being able to help people through writing blog posts, or through email correspondence back and forth about how to get out of your head and into action, and into the real world, because I find that once people take that first step, it is so galvanizing. There’s nothing you can say really that replaces the feeling of taking those first steps of action towards anything. You’re not always going to make the right move, but the way you can learn from your mistakes, or from your first forays into taking action is so important. It’s so important for self growth, and it’s not just about towards your goals, towards making yourself better, about taking those first steps whether you want to lose weight, or eat healthier, or become more spiritual, more grounded, whatever you’re looking for, it’s about of course doing the work, and making a plan in your head, and doing your research, and figuring out where you want to go. I feel like the problem is that people live in their heads far longer than they need to. I like talking about that, that a lot of my focus is on taking action, how to take action, why to take action, and then what to do once you’ve started taking action.

What was the biggest thing you overcame in your life?

Well I would say the biggest professional struggle I had was definitely when I found myself down and out in Los Angeles, I mean literally crying in the fetal position on the bathroom floor, as cliché as that sounds, that was my reality, and the reason that I had that crisis at that moment was not that I didn’t have money, or I didn’t have a car, or I didn’t know where my next paycheck was going to come from, or any of that stuff. My crisis came from this idea that against all better judgment, all those years ago, when everybody seemed to think it was the right move, including myself to a certain extent to go to law school and do that course, I listen to this voice within me that told me pursue this, pursue this dream, this is part of you, you need to explore this part, do it, and I listened to this voice, and so when I found myself down and out, really down and out, the problem was that I thought that I’d listen to my voice and my voice had failed me. That was earth shattering to me because if you gamble on yourself and lose, that is about as dark as the places you can find yourself. It was in that crisis of consciousness, and that crisis of who are you, are we crazy, did I hear the voice wrong? The thing is, my struggle was like, do I double down on the voice or do I open my eyes into a reality check here and say this is clearly not working, go back to Canada and figure something out, go to law school, or get back in the world of academia, do I do that, or do I double down on the voice? Literally in a panic state, I had three weeks to make something because my next mortgage payment was due. I was like, okay I’m going to double down on this, I literally sent out 100 resumes, and as I said at the top, I said to myself, if I get a job here, this is like this is it, you either turn this into something, or you’ve got nothing and you got to go home. It was a very scary moment because again, it’s not about the money, it was about this voice seems to have failed me. Do I continue to listen to it or not? That was very scary, it seemed very ill advised to keep listening to this voice, but I still felt compelled to do it, and it was in that last moment when I took that job, and I was able to turn it into that ultimately, it was right, and I was right to listen to my voice because now I feel like I couldn’t be in a better place. I feel very satisfied with where I’ve ended up, and I don’t think I would feel that way if I kind of listen to reason and gone in the other direction in those dark moments. That was probably the biggest, the darkest, and the scariest place I’ve ever been. Also when I moved to Los Angeles, I had extreme youth on my side, was 23, and now I’m actually in my early 30s and I was like, it’s just not the same. It’s not like a flight of whimsy where it’s like I’m moving to Los Angeles to do this, okay, you better get it together because you’re running out of time here to make something really happen for yourself. The failure felt very big, if I made the wrong decision, I could really do some big time damage to myself.

Is the idea of clairvoyance, people think that success is a straight line. They go from here, and then I get there, and this is success. It’s almost like the universe, whatever you want to call it, just had to take you do a little right, and a little left, and a little backward, and forward, zigzag, to get you to the right place, and that voice was probably there right voice. It didn’t tell you anything bad, it was just like, go for it, but it didn’t tell you what you’re going to discover, that’s something that you made up.

Exactly, it was like, go for it, but I’m not going to give you a map. Actually, it’s funny that you mentioned that because one of my favorite quotes of all time is, if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans. It’s like, if this little thing called life is so much bigger, and there’s so much unexpected, and so much that you have to discover about yourself before you can find the right direction to go but you’re only going to figure out what direction to go if you make mistakes, and you make some wrong turns, that’s what brings out the best in you if you have the right attitude about it, you know what I mean? These are all teachable learning moments that when you look back on it, it’s like there were a ton of struggles but I actually wouldn’t change a thing really because those struggles are where I gained the toughness, or the character traits that helped me get through that now I feel like a very developed person. I’m not a complete version of myself yet, but getting there. You don’t get those character building traits through destinations that are straight line destinations, you get those character traits through the zigzags, through the bends in the roads, through the small setbacks, those are how you grow as a person.

I think the you are a complete version of yourself that is looking to step into a different version.

Yeah, we’re always growing in a sense.

If you don’t grow you die.

Right. And I’m a complete version of myself right now but then in a year from now I’ll go, oh no wait, now I’m a complete version of myself because of everything I’ve learned, and in all the ways I’ve grown, and then I get grown, you just grow into yourself and you grow into, I’m complete right now, I feel complete. But in a year from now as I said, I’ll say, now I’m more complete because I’ve learned things, I’ve grown, I’ve learned things about myself, I’ve learned things about the people that I love around me, from mentors. Hopefully you’re always learning, that’s the goal, that’s what keeps life exciting, that’s where you find new things to discover, that’s where curiosity grows out of, keeping yourself engaged is how you keep yourself alive. Once you learn new things, you want to learn more, and that’s I think how you become the most fulfilled for sure, and the most excited about life. Life can get you down, it’s just the nature of life. People let you down, you let yourself down, it’s finding these new curiosities and these new interesting things that life has to offer that keeps you in the game. Otherwise it can be a drag man, you know what I mean?

What do you do every day to center yourself or to motivate yourself?

I’m huge believer in meditation so I find time every morning, 20 minutes to meditate, it’s done wonders for me. I have not always been a morning person. I am as most creative, like to stay up late, and burn the Midnight Oil, and I was like this is where I find my inspiration. the fact of the matter is it was actually really killing my creativity because then I’d wake up, I’d feel lethargic, your first half of the day was just trying to get it together, those kind of morning, early afternoon hours are really where peak productivity happens. I made a conscious effort about three years ago to really start to number one, get my sleeping and check because I was a terrible sleeper, and sleep is so important. I’ve learned the power of sleep, what that can do for you, from productivity, to overall energy levels, and just happiness, I really worked on getting my sleeping control, and then having a solid morning routine, something that I really look forward to getting up for in the morning. The meditation has been—I can’t speak highly enough about it. It just centers me, it gives me energy, it gives me focus for the day. In September I had my first child, I have a son. That’s been an absolute thrill, but the meditation has become even more important because having a young child so thrown off, and just finding that 20 minutes for myself in the morning has been amazing.

When do you wake up?

Well, now I wake up every morning between around [6:45] or [7:15], it depends on when he wakes up, but that’s basically his window. That’s when I get started, pre-George, his name is George, pre-George, I used to get up at around [7:30], and then I’d have a tape right after that, but now I get George up and do that, and I do a meditation after I’ve got him kind of set for the morning.

I’m talking to the part of you that is the stand up comedian, and I want to ask her a few more helps with productivity.

Oh my god, if you can find the humor in something, or if you can find a way to incorporate humor into anything, I find it such a motivator. The ability to laugh, what that does to you physically and mentally, or even smile, I mean the research analysts on just the act of smiling, what that does to your body chemistry, it brings you so much energy. The ability to find number one, humor, a sense of humor about doing certain things, everything is about attitude. As I said kind of earlier, we all have to do this mundane crap, we’re humans, we got to do it. Your attitude towards it is what is going to be the differentiator for you if you’re going to be happy fulfilled person, or an irritated energy depleted person. The ability to find the humor in a situation is, you’re operating on a very high level if you can find the humor in generally, and specifically in these things that you don’t really like to do. And then just from an actual literal humor situation, it’s funny that you asked me this, but about two weeks ago, I was driving, I have this commute, I go when I kind of like to have a coaching session, but it’s in Malibu, and you’ll understand this because you live in Santa Monica, but for those that don’t know, Malibu is about 45 minutes up the coast from where I live, and this time that I have to go is in traffic. I love seeing the person at the other end, but I hate sitting in traffic even though it’s the most beautiful view driving up there, you just get numb to it. About a couple weeks ago, also because it’s on the coast, you can’t listen to the radio, it cuts in and out because of the reception. A couple of weeks ago, I’m miserable doing this, I got to find something to do. I had this idea to listen to a stand up routine. This comedian I discovered about a couple of months ago, his name is Sebastian Maniscalco, I don’t know if you’ve ever heard of him. The guy is literally one of the funniest people I’ve ever heard. I said, oh my god, I’m going to put on this stand up routine. I listen to this stand up routine, and I kid you not, I got to the destination and I didn’t want to get out of the car. I literally went from, I need to stop doing this, this is torture for me to, how can I extend my time in the car because I’m laughing so hard. Now because I figured this out, for example, I don’t like grocery shopping, I was in whole foods the other day, I was like, God, I got to go do this, I put on the stand up comedy. There I am standing in the produce section, literally as I’m choosing zucchini, laughing. I looked like a total lunatic but I got to tell you something, this ability to infuse comedy, if you find yourself a good comedian, or a funny podcast, and again, you should be able to use your mind and find any podcast like listen to your podcast, or something that you’re focused on is great because you’re using your mind in a certain way, but the comedy aspect of this is just unbelievable, I mean I literally left whole foods like I’m not kidding you, with like almost a skip in my step because I’ve been laughing for 30 minutes. Yes, humor, and comedy is so important. In fact, forget everything we’ve talked about, the one take away I would say to anybody listening is, find yourself a funny stand up thing, and get it on your phone, and listen to it. Take a walk and go listen to that, check your mood when you come back, check your energy level when you get back, and then say, “Now how can I incorporate this into my life in a meaningful way regularly?” that’s how powerful comedy and laughter is.

That’s extraordinary, one thing that I used to do is I take improv classes.

Yes! I recommend that in one of my blog post, so tell me about that.

I’m a pretty funny person when I open up, I can be really funny. Being there, and doing that, and expressing myself in this humorous way, I mean like now I’m traveling, I’m away from the active studio but it was so much fun. I was probably more productive after doing improv. We tend to get too serious about ourselves, our family, and the way we need to present ourselves to the people around us, and blah, blah, blah.

You know what’s funny, you said things that I like to write and talk about. I can’t think of a better life metaphor for taking action, for getting out of your head, and taking action. It’s in the moment, you don’t have time to think about, what does he think, what does she think, it’s about what’s the first thought that comes to your head, now spit it out. That exercise, whether you’re funny or not, those exercises at the improv are perfect life training. It is exactly what I’m talking about. About getting out of living in your head and taking action. Again, I recommend anybody that’s struggling with taking that first step, or in a riot, the act of actually performing in that way is giving fear, the middle finger, it’s shrugging fear off, it’s throwing it away. Those muscles that you develop, those brain muscles, those emotional muscles can be used and taken into your real life, your relationships, they can be taken into your career life, these are the most valuable skills I can really think off in terms of just being able to get out of your head, and into action.

Yes, and to add to that, I also think that spending time in nature and going and doing some free dancing, some kind of hippie spiritual work. It is really superficial, gratitude, and even singing circles, drumming, whatever you feel that you can connect with that will allow you to move your body and just be in the moment, be with nature, and get out of that very constricting urban way of thinking, and just connecting to yourself, to your body, to nature, and find that beautiful childlike happiness from within. I think this is the greatest motivator because when you are on a higher vibration, then things move, you are inspired to move, you don’t push, you get inspiration to move.

Right, it’s natural.

Yes, and you move forward.

Yeah, I couldn’t agree more. All of these things are about connecting to who you really are. unfortunately, the brain starts to take you away from who you really are because you’re over thinking, you’re processing a lot of what other people think you should be doing, what you think other people think you should be doing, and that’s getting you farther and farther away from who you are. when you can get into those moments of true kind of instinct, and you’re right, that happens from things like nature, and body movement, things that get you out of your head, all those things get you out of your head, and then of course, improv, that’s how you start to connect to who you really are, that’s when the creative juices start flowing, that’s when you start saying, “Hey, I’m going to take action.” We don’t say it, you just start doing it, that’s the important thing.

What are some of your top productivity tips to get the things done?

Well the number one thing is to have a plan. If you’re just going through the motions, there is generally a lack of enthusiasm, a lack of understanding, and it’s much harder to get things done when you don’t have that enthusiasm and that motivation. The number one thing is to understand where you want to go, what’s important to you, figure out who you are, and what makes you tick in a vacuum without the outside voices. Once you understand that, start creating a plan around those things. What I talked about in the book, and this is a very important thing, I talk about a seven-day time challenge which is I basically ask you to write down literally everything you’re doing from morning to night for seven days, and at the seventh day, I guarantee you, when you look back on how you actually spend your time, you will understand how much time you were giving away each week, you were throwing away either helping other people get their goals accomplished, or you’re doing things that you thought were moving the needle for you but they’re actually not. When you have a clear plan of where you want to go, that’s first and foremost, and then you’ve actually done the work, analyze how you’re spending that time, and you look at those two things, and see how far apart where you want to go is based on how you are actually scheduling your time. You start to be able to see where there is actually a lot of time in the day if you cut out the stuff that’s not moving you forward. That’s my definition of true productivity. It’s not about how much stuff did you get done at the end of every day, it’s about how much stuff you get done for yourself to move your needle, your goals forward, that’s productivity. It’s not about quantity. When you start realigning your schedule and how you operate through that lens, you will see, you have a lot more time, and a lot more energy to get the stuff done that really matters to you, but if you haven’t taken the time to understand what really matters to you, you’re just spinning your wheels, again, you’re just getting through the day, and at the end of the week, you’re going to find yourself saying, “I don’t know, where did this week go.” Every week you’re going to be saying that and that’s the opposite of productivity.

I do that a lot where I try to take care of other people, even my husband, and I get away from my goals, and I’m like, “Oh, but he wants this, and she needs that, and my mom needs that, and it’s so important to spend time with this person.” It’s hard to say no sometimes. What would be your advice for somebody like me that sometimes is having a hard time saying no to others and folks more in their goals.

Right, well first of all, I think it’s just about being aware that number one, you are doing that. Now, the next thing is to understand actually how much time you are spending on that. one of my favorite things and it’s certainly not me that came up with this metaphor, but one of my favorite metaphors is the idea of when you’re flying, and they say put your own oxygen mask on first before you try and help other people, for obvious reasons, you’ll pass out and then you won’t be able to help anybody if you don’t put your oxygen mask on. I think the idea here is if you have people that you’re really love, and you really are invested in helping, the idea is that you can help them far more once you help yourself first because you are not a compromised person, you are a whole person who is feeling fulfilled and productive. Once you feel that way then you are that much more valuable to those people. Number two, it’s very important to analyze the people in your life. Not just how you’re spending your time, but who you’re spending your time with. There are the people in your life that, I use this example a lot, how many times in a day or in a week does your phone ring in the middle of the day, and you see the name on the caller ID and you go ugh, and you roll your eyes like, what does he want, what does she want,. Those people are people that take energy from you and prevent you from kind of getting the most out of every day. Because you allow them, because you pick up their call in the middle of the day, what you’re doing ostensibly is training, you’ve trained people in your life how to treat you. The responsibility comes back to you, so if you have these people that are draining you, that is your responsibility, to untrain them. It’s a work in progress. Now obviously, there are going to be people like your mother, or your husband that are your top priority too, but is every whim that they have at any moment, is their whim more important than what you’re doing in your life at that moment? Ideally not, but again, that’s a calculation you have to make, and the important thing is that you’re making the calculation. What most people are doing is they’re not making that calculation, and they’re just accepting every call as it comes in, every demand as it comes in. You can’t fault those people for keep wanting more from you because you’ve trained them that you will accept every demand, and every whim that they have. You will do that ahead of yourself. What you need to do is start prioritizing yourself, and then training the people, it doesn’t mean you’re cutting your mother off, you’re cutting your husband off. What it means is, you’re going to say, “I will help you, but I will do it on Saturday afternoon.” and that is the window. I’m just making that up, but whatever the formula is, as long as it’s a formula that you’ve crafted, and you’re in control of, and you are okay with, then that’s okay. If you’re just like, I was getting to a point I was so busy at one point between Pick The Brain and LEAF, and I’m trying to write the book, and I have friends calling me the middle of the day, and when I don’t answer, they’re getting upset. Then I get irritated, why are they upset, don’t they know I’m working, they’re calling because I kept answering their call for 10 years, of course they’re calling me. Until I said, “Hey, listen, I love you, I want to talk about your relationship crisis, but I’m not doing it in the middle of a work day. I will find a reasonable amount of time for you but it’s not going to be on your schedule, it’s on my schedule.”

It’s very important to analyze the people in your life. Not just how you’re spending your time, but who you’re spending your time with. Click To Tweet

Did you tell them that?

In some certain instances, yes.

That’s great. I use this metaphor of putting your own mask first a lot especially because I coach love and relationship, and I think for me, A. I didn’t see it as so severe, instead of like, “Oh my god, they’re taking my oxygen.” I say it as like, ” I’m such a good wife, I’m such a good daughter.” And on the other side, it might have been also an excuse to not do the things that they need to do.

You’ve said it beautifully because that’s the rationalization for it. Of course there’s a part of it that you have a responsibility as a wife, you have a responsibility as a child, or a mother, or a parent, you have certain responsibilities, and beyond that, you want to, you just want to help because you love them. But you can’t love them at a cost to yourself. Only you can answer what the correct balance is. That’s why this whole idea of being conscious, and checking in with yourself, and how am I spending my time, because if you look at your time at the end of the week, and you’ve spent nine hours on phone calls with your mom, and 15 hours on projects for your husband, well then that’s 24 hours that you haven’t spent on yourself, and that equation might be fine for you, but you at least have to be conscious that you’re spending 24 hours a week between your mother and your husband, does that make sense for you? Only you can answer that, probably that sounds like a lot for example. I don’t know how about you specifically, I’m talking about in general, what is the number, the magic number, only you can come up with that number but then it’s up to you to kind of enforce it or at least retrain, you’re responsible for your relationships, and how you allow them to be conducted. If you don’t put barriers, boundaries on the relationship, the relationships are going to run right over you.

That’s is such a good point. And I teach these stuff.

It’s very difficult to do, trust me, constantly learning, constantly checking in, it’s not like you drink a magic potion, you do it once and then go, “I got this.” no, these things are lifelong works to try and get it right.

Right. What are some technical tools that you use? For example, I use an app called Things, it’s a great app for productivity. What kind of apps or tools do you use for productivity?

I use an app called Asana, I don’t use this all the time, but when I do it with my check-ins, I check-in with kind of where things are at about every three months. I’m not somebody that likes to micromanage every single thing I’m doing. I like to kind of understand where I’m at, pivot, and then you move forward and then re check-in, so I use that app for that. one of the great apps I use, and this is maybe a nontraditional productivity app, but as I mentioned earlier, I had a major problem with sleeping, I’ve had it my whole life, and so I use an app called Sleep Cycle which tracks your sleeping, it’s a whole comprehensive thing, it kind of gives your report card, it helps you to start making pivots in your routine. so much of these stuff is just about being conscious, once you start to understand, wait, how am I sleeping, I want to start working on my sleeping, I want to get a plan together. Anyways, this is an example of that I use this app Sleep Cycle and it really changed the game for me. I started to really pay attention to this thing that had been a lifelong problem and the fact of the matter is, it is now no longer a problem for me. It took about two years, and this app really helped. another app that I use, and again, this is not something you would necessarily think of when it comes to productivity but I can’t tell you how important it’s become in my life, is an app called WaterMinder. It’s a very simple idea, it basically reminds you to drink a cup of water. The energy when you’re feeling hydrated, a lot of people don’t understand how dehydrated they are. I mean if you think about dehydration like you’ve crossed the finish line at a marathon, most people are dehydrated not to that level but are not getting enough water, and there are a lot of consequences for that. The physical, you’re tired, you’re lethargic, you are distracted, and so this being very conscientious about getting enough water a day, and I think enough is about two liters, eight cups of water a day, that has been a real game changer. I used to crash every day at about like [2:30] or [3:00] o’clock, I think that’s pretty common for a lot of people. That’s been eliminated by simply drinking water. No joke.

It’s good for wrinkles too.

Of course the vanity aspect of both getting a good night’s sleep, and drinking water, is a major motivator. It’s again getting creative about productivity to your earlier point. There’s no straight line. It’s about finding what your shortcomings are, getting creative on you know, I needed more sleep, I want to drink more water, those two things alone have tremendously helped my productivity, and then of course there are the more obvious things like tracking your time, and the app that you spoke about, getting organization and focus. To me one of the biggest things in terms of productivity is about holding yourself accountable and that is writing things down. Write your goals down, write your plan down, write what you’re doing in a day down, whether it’s via an app or just typing things through keyboard, writing through your schedule. I’m a pen and paper person still, so I’d literally write things down. It’s about getting out of your head, and getting on to the page. Once you have things in black and white, that is a contract you have with yourself. that is a way to hold yourself accountable, otherwise, you’re living in your head and things become very vague, very pliable, you said, “I’m getting this done today.” when you live in your head, if you don’t get it done by today, it’s like, “I can do this tomorrow.” all of a sudden, things become very gray, when you get things down, written down, they become black and white, you become held accountable to yourself and that’s a very important thing when trying to get stuff done, when trying to be max productivity. That’s when you’re going to see real growth. Those would be my productivity tips, and find a comedian you love and plug that in, because honestly, I’m telling you, the sheer entertainment value of laughing out loud while picking up zucchinis is worth it.

Amazing. Where can people find you and maybe contact you, read your blog, work with you.

Yes, for all things social, I’m either @pickthebrain or @erinfalconer, so that’s the Facebook, and Instagram, and the Twitter of the world. My blog is pickthebrain.com and you can email me at erin@nullpickthebrain.com and then my book which is again How to Get Sh*t Done: Why Women Need To Stop Doing Everything So They Can Achieve Anything is available everywhere, through the website, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, I’m not sure in Israel but probably Amazon, Amazon exists in Israel right?

Everywhere, it’s like your brother.

It’s like my brother, it’s there. That’s how you can get ahold of that.

Wonderful. Erin, thank you so much. It was so great talking to you.

I had the pleasure, let’s connect when you’re back in Santa Monica.

Yeah, thank you very much.

Your Checklist of Actions to Take:

✓ Try Erin’s seven-day challenge. Document your daily routine and evaluate how much time you spend on certain activities.

✓ Utilize productivity apps such as Asana, Things, Sleep Cycle, and WaterMinder.

✓ Don’t dwell on the idea of overnight success. Success is earned from years of hard work and dedication.

✓ Determine which tasks you like and don’t like.  Finish less interesting daily tasks first so you have something to look forward to during the day.

✓ View time as a vital part of yourself. Make sure you leave some time for yourself and don’t give too much to others.

✓ Find your “why”. Let your purpose motivate you to keep going until you reach your destination.

✓ Make your own decisions and forget about what others might think. Empower yourself by listening to your own voice.

✓ Step outside your comfort zone and take a leap of faith. it only takes one defining moment, backed by an iron-clad efficient routine, to change your life.

✓ Have a good sense of humor. Laughter is the best medicine and when you’re just starting to build an empire

✓ Grab a copy of Erin Falconer’s book, How to Get Sh*t Done.

About Erin Falconer

Erin Falconer is the author of How To Get Shit Done: Why Women Need To Stop Doing Everything So They Can Achieve Anything, a partner and the Editor in Chief of PickTheBrain.com, the co-founder of LEAF.tv. Canadian living in Los Angeles.

 

 

 

 

 

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