Rebel Diaries

Alexis Haselberger - Productivity Coaching That Has Helped People From Google, Lyft and More

November 14, 2022 Alexis Haselberger Episode 31
Rebel Diaries
Alexis Haselberger - Productivity Coaching That Has Helped People From Google, Lyft and More
Show Notes Transcript

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Alexis Haselberger is a time management and productivity coach who helps people do more and stress less through coaching, workshops and online courses.   Alexis has taught thousands of individuals to take control of their time and her clients include Google, Lyft, Workday, Capital One, Upwork and more.

  • Why do people keep giving unrealistic deadlines and what to do instead
  • How we can set some boundaries around the technology we use
  • Using templates to avoid re-doing a lot of the same work
  • How email, Slack and other tools are about other people's priorities not yours
  • The culture of back-to-back zoom meetings
  • How most of her clients say they spend 80% of their time in meetings and only 20% of those feel like a good use of their time
  • How she uses "the five R's" to help clients with meetings and their calendars
  • Keeping a meeting agenda focused and what to do with new items people bring up during the meeting
  • The three roles you need in a meeting even if they are done by the same person
  • How perfectionism and procrastination and tightly linked

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[00:00:00] Scott: Hi, I'm Scott Fulton, the host of the Rebel Diaries podcast. This show will help you learn how to make work better for you, your colleagues and the organization you work for. I believe the modern workplace is broken for too many people with leaders and their teams, drowning in corporate complexity, information overload, and unnecessary levels of stress. 

[00:00:18] Scott: Having spent over 20 years leading disruptive high-performing teams who have won international awards for their impact. I've now dedicated my career to helping coach and train leaders and teams to deliver more value and impact at work whilst reducing the risk of burnout, overload, and wasted effort. 

[00:00:34] Scott: This podcast is dedicated to you and thousands like you who know work can and should be better.

[00:00:39] Scott: You'll get tips and insights from me as well as the amazing guests I invite to be the show, many of them have disrupted their industries and are thought leaders, speakers, and authors who have fascinating stories and advice to share. 

[00:00:50] Scott: Thank you for listening. I'm Scott Fulton and welcome to the Rebel Diaries show. 

[00:00:55] Alexis: But that's something that a lot of people struggle with, right? We want to give people deadlines, or we want to commit to things that are really faster than we probably can right? We wanna give people the best case scenario, and I just don't do that.

[00:01:08] Alexis: There's so many emails. I think the average is like 111 emails a day. Lots of my clients are getting 300 plus emails a day.

[00:01:14] Alexis: The people who build technology like they are smart, right? They're doing the things to make us engage and so it becomes up to us to set some boundaries around that.

[00:01:22] Alexis: And the question that I'm always asking is, "when is the last time that you received an email that was a true emergency? "

[00:01:29] Scott: Alexis is a time management and productivity coach who helps people do more and stress less through coaching workshops and online courses. Just like me, a woman after my own heart! She has taught thousands of people to take control of their time. And her clients include Google, Lyft, Workday, Capital One, Upwork, and more. Lots of great tips in this one for you. Welcome to this week's show.

[00:01:51] Scott: Alexis. Welcome to the Rebel Diaries podcast.

[00:01:54] Alexis: Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to talk to you.

[00:01:57] Scott: Excellent. And where are you located?

[00:01:59] Alexis: I'm in San Francisco, California.

[00:02:02] Scott: What's the weather like there at the moment?

[00:02:03] Alexis: Um, you know what it is sunny, uh, and it is cold for us, which is like a laugh to everybody else because it's like, you know, 55 degrees here. But November is usually our warmest month, so it's a little strange right now.

[00:02:18] Scott: it's just starting to get a bit chilly over here in the uk. We've been holding off, turning on the heating for as long as we could, but unfortunately we buckled the other day, so

[00:02:25] Scott: yeah. Dreading the 

[00:02:26] Alexis: the bill

[00:02:27] Scott: the bills. Yeah, it's fun and games . So what got you. Productivity and, and trying to help people out.

[00:02:34] Scott: How long

[00:02:34] Scott: have you been doing this?

[00:02:35] Alexis: So I have, I opened this business about five years ago. Uh, but I opened it because people had been coming to me for this sort of advice for a really long time. And I think that, you know, in my earlier stages of my career, I was working in startups where everything was like fast paced, everyone's burning out, left and right around you.

[00:02:52] Alexis: I handled, you know, kind of all the things that weren't sales and engineering and I did a lot of kind of consulting and people just kept coming to me for, "Hmm, how can I also like be less stressed while I'm doing all of this stuff and how can I not work you know, crazy hours all of the time?" And eventually one of the CEOs I worked for said to me, "Hey, do you think you could do just a productivity workshop for our staff? Just base it on all the things you already do." 

[00:03:20] Alexis: And I was like, "Yeah, that sounds super fun". And that really sparked something in me that like, "Oh, this piece that's kind of ancillary to all the things that I had been doing is actually a through line that's really important. And that a lot of people don't have these skills and I could teach them."

[00:03:35] Scott: Great. And how so? How did people know? Did they just start to notice "Alexis is just not stressed out like everybody else, and she seems to still get work done even though there's more work than we could ever do." how did people start to take notice of that? 

[00:03:48] Alexis: Yeah, I mean, I had a CEO, he likes to say, "Alexis can do in 20 hours what other people can do in 60 hours." And so I think it was like fairly obvious that I, you know, that, that I was able to produce at, um, at a level that was able to get things done and just not work after you. And I never worked after hours unless, you know, unless there was some big launch or something we were doing where it was really required.

[00:04:10] Alexis: Um, You know, I went home and I, I had a couple of kids along the way and I would leave at five o'clock and all of my stuff would always be done. Uh, and so I think it's just something that like one people saw and then, you know, once you see, Oh wait, how's somebody doing that thing? Then you start asking about it.

[00:04:28] Scott: So what was the kind of questions you were get or the challenges people were coming to you with? 

[00:04:33] Alexis: Well, I think a lot of it was like around task management and things like that, right? It's like, "Hey, how do I organize these things?" "how do I keep track of everything that is going on?" Right? Because I think, you know, for me, accountability is kinda my highest value. Well, accountability and autonomy, right?

[00:04:46] Alexis: And so, you know, I just believe, I always wanna do what I say I will by when I say I will. But that's something that a lot of people struggle with, right? We want to give people deadlines, , or we want to commit to things that are really faster than we probably can, right? We wanna give people the best case scenario, and I just don't do that, right?

[00:05:05] Alexis: I give people like the worst case scenario so that I'm setting myself up for success. So I think those are the types of questions like, "Hey, how can we make sure that we're not missing things? How can we keep track of things?" I had companies that asked me to like build the task systems for the company and things like that.

[00:05:20] Scott: People underestimate how long something will take, don't they? So, and then they just. I mean that in my industry when I, I, for a long time I worked in digital and it was always, the first question I get asked is, "when will this thing be ready that you're building?"

[00:05:33] Scott: And generally you don't know cuz it's completely new territory. It took me a time to be able to say, !I don't know", and find a way to explain why that's the case. But early on in my career was like, "uh, uh, uh, about two months" . And quite often I was making a, a commitment based on my team who didn't even get a say on giving the commitment. I was just making that assumption. 

[00:05:53] Alexis: Yeah, exactly right. It's like we, and, and I think that, you know, people have actually come up to me and said, "Well, isn't it better? Doesn't my boss want me to give them the best, you know, the, the most optimistic date?" And I said, "No, your boss wants you to. Do the thing you said you were gonna do. So if you're not gonna be able to do that, then what your, what your boss prefers is that you give them something that they can know is real."

[00:06:15] Alexis: Right? And so I am always encouraging people," Hey, if you think you can get something done by Wednesday", say to the other person, "Hey, I can get that done by Friday. How does that, how does that feel to you? Does that, is that timing work for you?"

[00:06:27] Scott: Mm-hmm. 

[00:06:28] Alexis: If you get it done by Wednesday, now you look amazing, right? You got it done early, but if you know you get it done a couple days later than you thought you would, you're still accountable.

[00:06:37] Alexis: You still did what you were said you were gonna do. So it accounts for the fact that we just don't know. We can't an, we can't anticipate what's going to come up, but I think we can anticipate that something will come up or things will take longer than we, we expect them to

[00:06:51] Scott: Yeah. So do you have a, like a formula, almost like a percent add this percent on top of any estimate that you give, or does it just depend on the, individual case? 

[00:06:59] Alexis: I mean, it just depends. I think for me it's a little bit easier because I, um, you know, I, I kind of time block things at the moment that I'm committing to them, right? So if I am saying I'm gonna do something, I'm gonna, like, let's say I'm gonna do a new workshop for a client and they've asked me to develop new content.

[00:07:15] Alexis: I'm gonna look at my calendar. I'm gonna see, okay, I know from experience it's probably gonna take me about three to four hours to create a deck. Okay, great. When can I actually do that? And then I'll probably put that on my calendar and tell the client, A week, I'll give them a deadline of like a week after that.

[00:07:30] Alexis: Right. Just giving myself enough time. If it's a bigger project, if it's something that I have no idea how to do or like maybe the first time I made an online course, I might give myself months of buffer, 

[00:07:41] Scott: Mm-hmm. . Yeah, and that's key, isn't it? It's you, you mentioned there you've got from experience. So if you've done it before, if it's something almost repeatable, then it's easier to give an accurate timeframe. Whereas if you're in completely new territory, those estimates. So it got to the point where I would say to people, "I can give you an estimate", cuz again, they seem to measure your success by giving an estimate rather than actually is the thing you deliver delivering value. So I can say, "I can give you an estimate, but it could be up to a hundred percent wrong. Do you want an up to a hundred percent wrong estimate or do you want me to focus on delivering the highest value to you as quickly as possible? 

[00:08:13] Alexis: right. right. Exactly.

[00:08:15] Scott: What other challenges are people coming to you with, uh, beyond like the deadline?

[00:08:19] Alexis: Distractions. Yeah, I mean, distractions are one of the biggest ones, I think. Um, email, like email 

[00:08:25] Scott: Oh yeah.

[00:08:26] Scott: Yep.

[00:08:26] Alexis: you know, it's just like, there's so many emails. I mean, lots of people get, I think the average is like 111 emails a day. Lots of my clients are getting 300 plus emails a day.

[00:08:35] Alexis: Really hard to stay on top of that. Stuff. Um, notifications are turned on by default in most of our apps. And many times, like people don't even think about the fact that they could change that, right? That they could turn them off. And so people are just kind of losing time constantly because every time, you know, the studies show that every time we're distracted or interrupted takes us about 23 minutes to refocus, right?

[00:08:57] Alexis: And so it doesn't take very many interruptions to tank your day.

[00:09:01] Scott: No, and those interruptions are tempting to take you away from the hard thing, aren't they? It's like, "I've got this really hard thing to do, but, oh, look at distraction. I can deal with that email cuz that's easier to do than the hard thing. "

[00:09:14] Alexis: Right. Like our mind goes to the specific, it likes to close open loops, right? Uh, I mean, the people who build technology like they are smart, right? They're doing the things to make us engage and so it becomes up to us to kind of set some boundaries around that.

[00:09:27] Scott: So you've got distractions, you've got deadlines. What other challenges are you coming across?

[00:09:33] Alexis: I think, I think if like things related to efficiency, which I consider like delegate, you know, not delegating as much as we should, right? For any number of really good reasons, uh, but still kind of hinders us. Um, templates, like, I think the word template means many, many things to me, but just the fact that we end up redoing a lot of the same work that we have done before instead of capitalizing on the work that we have done before.

[00:09:57] Alexis: Um, I think that shows up a lot. Kind of recreating the wheel, starting from scratch. Um, lack of planning. I think that is really key. Lots of people just kind of like show up in their day and look at their email to drive what it is they're gonna do. Instead of thinking about like, "what are my actual priorities and how does this relate to, you know, the messaging that I'm receiving."

[00:10:16] Alexis: You know, I, I often refer to email, Slack, all those things as other people's priorities, right? Sometimes they align with. But not always. Right. And, and whose priorities do we wanna focus? So yeah, I mean, I could go on and on. There's so many things that um, that kind of fall into, to these buckets.

[00:10:33] Scott: Yeah, I think the email one would be interesting to explore just for a minute. I like what you said about other people's priorities. It is very much this kind of culture. Where if I send this email and fire it off to someone else, I've now given you the giant monkey on your back, 

[00:10:48] Alexis: Right. It's 

[00:10:49] Alexis: in your 

[00:10:50] Scott: think about it.

[00:10:50] Scott: Yeah, and it like this, this ping pong goes back and forward, doesn't it, with passing the buck Like you think you've done it now, but you've given it to someone else to worry about whether it's relevant to them or not. 

[00:11:02] Alexis: Right, Exactly. And I think that because email, like we, like humans like dopamine, right? And it's like you go in, you check there's something there, you respond to it, it feels good. It's like, it feels good in the moment and it's like, it feels like work, right? It feels like something is happening. Um, but really like we spend, I mean, people spend so much time managing email and they spend so much time managing it.

[00:11:26] Alexis: And there's not on top of it at the same time, right? Because it's kind of this checking and rechecking and you know, how many times are we gonna read an email before we respond to it or snooze it or you know, Now we've read it and it's in the back of our head, even though we haven't responded to it. And now we're not able to focus on the thing we are doing.

[00:11:43] Alexis: And so I think there's just a lot of stuff that comes up with email and now, you know, Slack and teams are like that on steroids in a way, 

[00:11:51] Scott: Yeah. The instant nature of it. Have you heard of a Cal Newport and his book A World Without Email? 

[00:11:57] Alexis: Um, so I haven't read that book yet. I think, I feel like a lot of these books, I'm just gonna say you can read like the first page of every chapter and you kinda get the idea of the book, right? Like, we don't need to read the whole thing. Um, and I think, you know, what I think about Cal Newport is he has so many great ideas around things.

[00:12:13] Alexis: And at the same time, he's a Professor , who has a lot of, um, control over his environment and the ways that he does research in a way that I think doesn't really resonate with a lot of folks who work in the tech industry say, or who work in, you know, professional services or who work in areas where, um, you know, research based areas can move slowly and there's not as much like needs to happen quickly and certainly some of that is externalized, um, maybe false perceived pressure, but there is some amount of that That's true. Right? I think that most people would feel pretty uncomfortable. Um, you know, just not doing it all together. I mean, I will say I worked at a company where we had no internal email. We had internal Slack, 

[00:12:56] Scott: I've heard some companies do that. Yeah. They ban internal email.

[00:12:59] Alexis: yeah. Uh, I mean, and so I think, I think. I think email is a tool that's here to stay, to be honest. But I think that the way we use it probably needs a little, little upkeep. A little upgrade.

[00:13:09] Scott: The ethos of his book is he understands we won't be without email. It was a bit of a click bait book title, but it just stuck with me. One of the comments he said was, "meetings and emails are talking about work, not doing work". And yeah, it's that, and, and that people spend the majority of their time.

[00:13:24] Scott: Talking about work in meetings, dealing with their inbox, and then go home at the end of the day and it's like, "I didn't actually do what I'm employed to do." 

[00:13:31] Alexis: Right. Yeah. I mean actually you bring, I didn't even bring up meetings before, but meetings are like, that is one of the biggest issues and it has only gotten worse over the last, you know, over the last couple of years when everybody has switched to being in Zoom meetings. It's like now you look at people's calendars and I always ask them, "What does your calendar look like?

[00:13:49] Alexis: A brick wall or Swiss cheese?" right. Like which one? Because both of them we're gonna need some help with. Um, but I, I mean, the majority of my clients say that they spend upwards of 80% of their time in meetings. And when I ask them how many of those meetings feel like a good use of their time, the answer is like below 20%.

[00:14:08] Scott: Yeah, it's scary. Yeah, and you're right, those kind of. Now it is literally one click and you're in the next meeting. There's not even that that walk to the next office or you know, and that's just bad . You can spend the whole day and that cognitive switch as

[00:14:23] Scott: well

[00:14:24] Alexis: Mm-hmm. .Yeah. With no breather, no buffer. Or if you're like lucky enough to have 30 minutes between meetings, you feel like, "well, I can't actually get anything done in this period of time. right."

[00:14:33] Scott: yeah. Absolutely.

[00:14:35] Scott: So obviously we talked about some of the key areas. What are your key tips and advice that you give people that come to you for help and in your workshops without obviously giving all your

[00:14:44] Scott: secrets away? 

[00:14:46] Alexis: Yeah, no problem. I mean, I'm always ha I'm always happy to share. so I think, you know, one thing we were just talking about was meetings. And so one thing that I do with all of my clients is that we do a calendar audit. We do a meeting audit to try to figure out. If the meetings on their calendar are the right meetings, Are they, you know, are there too many of 'em, et cetera.

[00:15:04] Alexis: And so I use, uh, what I call the five R's. And so this is first review, like what are the meetings on your calendar, specifically the recurring meetings. And most people when they, when they do this, they find that they have somewhere between 30 and 40 recurring meetings on their calendars. Right. Recurring at different frequencies.

[00:15:23] Alexis: But it's, it always surprises them. Right. Um, then we look at those, we're reviewing and we're saying, What, "which ones of these feel actually like they're really great use of your time". Great. We leave those alone. Um, and which ones do we think we could make some adjustments to? And then we get to the second R, which is remove.

[00:15:39] Alexis: Where can we remove ourselves from meetings? So, Maybe this is, we don't, maybe it's, it doesn't need to be a meeting at all, right? It could be an email, it could be an announcement, it could be an asynchronous, you know, all hands or something like that. Um, maybe it's, you can remove yourself because five members of your team are already going to this meeting, right?

[00:15:58] Alexis: Um, maybe it's that you can remove yourself because you can delegate it to one of your direct reports and then they can send you the notes, right? But where can you kind of remove your. Um, and a, a tip I like to, people are like, "Well, which meetings can I go to and which meetings I can't". And I often say, you know, if you are both giving and gaining, then that's probably a good meeting for you to go to.

[00:16:18] Alexis: But if you are just doing one or the other, there's probably better ways that you could spend your time. 

[00:16:23] Scott: Hmm. 

[00:16:23] Alexis: or neither, right? or neither, right? You're just there. You're not even really paying attention. Um, then we move into reduce. So we want to reduce in frequency, reduce in length. I mean, the reason that meetings are half an hour and an hour is because those are the defaults in our calendar, not because we're thinking about how much time do we need for this agenda, right? Uh, so we reduce and then we see what's left and we rearrange so that we can have larger swaths of time, right? So that our calendar isn't like an hour long meeting and half an hour of nothing and an hour long meeting and a half an hour of nothing, which is really hard for people.

[00:16:59] Alexis: So we. Big have bigger blocks of time for deep work. Right? Just like we were talking about Cal Newport, like that's important. Um, and then lastly, we want to repeat because meetings are additive and so this probably is something that you would need to do every three to six months to just take stock of what's on your calendar because, you know, we start a new project, we get added to a new team.

[00:17:20] Alexis: Now we have more meetings and so our calendars tend to, to get filled up. Even though we're actively aware of it, we're like, Oh, it's just one meeting and then all of a sudden it's, you know, 10 meetings. So that's what I like to, to have people do from a meeting perspective.

[00:17:35] Scott: Brilliant. Yeah. I used to work in an organization that loved a meeting and they would get to the point where they'd go, "We got too many meetings for senior leaders. Right. We're gonna agree we only need these ones, and we are cut these back and everyone's gonna sign up to that."

[00:17:48] Scott: And then within weeks, senior leaders were like putting new meetings in outside of that agreed schedule. Cause they're like, Oh, this doesn't work for me. I want this meeting and we need to talk about this. And it would just balloon again into this chaotic noise of just. Talking and talking and talking and as we said before, not actually doing any work

[00:18:07] Alexis: Yeah, the meeting about the meeting, right? ? 

[00:18:09] Scott: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. That's the thing. Yeah. We need to have a meeting about that meeting and yeah, it's just a slippery slope of meeting chaos. 

[00:18:15] Alexis: The pre-meeting, right? The pre-meeting. About the meeting. That's tomorrow. You 

[00:18:19] Scott: Yeah. And do you get into things like meeting etiquette as well? You know, tips for actually making sure the meeting is focused and to the point and has a clear agenda and it's not just a rambling discussion that everyone leaves and go, "That was a waste of our time."

[00:18:33] Alexis: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I, I typically recommend that people never join a meeting that doesn't have an agenda. Uh, because if we don't know what the purpose of this meeting is, then it is very likely not to be a good use of anyone's time. Right. Um, so I, and I also, you know, help people with how do we, how do we.

[00:18:49] Alexis: Get back on track because there's always gonna be people who bring up something random that is not part of this meeting, and we wanna be gentle with them, right? We wanna be able to say, "Hey, like that's a really important point. Uh, and also we wanna make sure we get through today's agenda, so let's table it.

[00:19:03] Alexis: We'll handle it at the end, and if we don't have time, then we'll figure out how to handle it offline." Right? But even just coming up with some of the. Is hard for folks because it feels, you know, it, it, I don't know, maybe it feels needy or it feels like rude, but we want, I, I work with people a lot and I'm like, how do I say things in a way that is boundary setting is, um, is getting us to what we need, but also doesn't feel bad to other people.

[00:19:28] Scott: Yeah, when I chaired meetings, I would often bring a visual timer to the meeting, so, You might have seen those time timers, the big things, and I had a big one and I took at the meeting and said, Right this agenda item, 10 minutes, start the timer. And it just keeps everyone focused and say, "there's a rule if we don't finish that item, we just move on to the next and we'll just have to pick it up separately."

[00:19:48] Scott: And I found it really quite effective to keep things on. On task cuz otherwise yeah, it just rambles on. And then you only get through the first couple of agenda items and then you've got this massive backlog. Or we're another meeting now in between the next meeting scheduled to catch

[00:20:02] Scott: up. It's just chaos. 

[00:20:03] Alexis: Yeah. No, I love that. I, I always suggest that like meetings, we really need three roles in a meeting. Even if one person is doing all the rules, we need a timekeeper, we need a facilitator, and we need a note taker. Right? Uh, because these things are all necessary to get what we need out of a meeting.

[00:20:18] Alexis: And I think it's really smart bringing the big old clock, because, you know, that invokes Parkinson's law, right? Which is that. Work Expands to fill the time allotted. And so if we don't allot the time, work just fills it. Right? It's like, this is why we have such, We put a meeting on the calendar for an hour. We don't have that much to talk about.

[00:20:35] Alexis: We'll fill an hour, you know? Don't worry. Like we'll all fill an hour.

[00:20:40] Scott: And do you think technology can help? So obviously there's tools now that will transcribe the meeting for you, and have you had experience of, of using that kind of stuff with teams? Does it help or is it just an extra, extra burden? 

[00:20:52] Alexis: I think it really helped. I, so I think recording meetings, having notes, like the transcription, I'm like, I don't think that many people are like reading the full transcription of a meeting. Right. But I think the ability to record a meeting and then listen to it on double speed is really helpful. Um, for a lot of folks.

[00:21:07] Alexis: I think it makes, uh, it makes global work a lot more. Helpful because I think that, you know, for a lot of people it's like my clients will say like, "Well, I have to join this 5:00 AM meeting and I have to join this 10:00 PM meeting because I work with a team in India and I work with one in Australia", and I think moving to an or a more asynchronous.

[00:21:27] Alexis: World in terms of, um, you know, it's not as if we will never need to meet face to face, but I think that a lot of the things that we're doing could be for the majority of people, we could be doing it asynchronously, and that that can really help with inclusion and can help make sure that, I mean, even just even you aren't on different, you know, different areas.

[00:21:47] Alexis: You know, maybe you have someone who needs to pick up their kid at five and they can't make this meeting. It's not reasonable for them to make this meeting, but they still need the information from this meeting. And so I think technology has help us to be able to get that information even if we weren't there.

[00:22:00] Scott: Yeah. One of the things I know a lot of people struggle with and I do personally is procrastination. And, uh, is that something you help, uh, people with as well? So what, what are your tips for that? 

[00:22:11] Alexis: So I think at procrastination there's a, there's a lot of different strategies and in fact, I have a, um, a free download that has nine different ways to combat procrastination that don't involve willpower or motivation. And so maybe I'll send that to you. You could pop it in the show notes 

[00:22:27] Alexis: yeah I'm just making a note so I don't forget. Um, and so one, but one of the things, we're not gonna go through all of nine of them here, but one of the things that I think is like the most effective is actually just to break down our tasks so that we have smaller chunks. I think very often procrastination happens when the task at hand is unclear, Amorphous.

[00:22:49] Alexis: Big. We haven't done it before. Um, there's just something about it that is kind of an emotional blocker to doing it for some And what I've found is that if we can break it down so that the first step is so easy, you can't convince yourself not to do it, that then we kind of can keep going. Right.

[00:23:07] Alexis: And so thinking about something, I'm gonna give you a very like, base level example that, but let's say you need to write a document, right? Maybe the first step for you is create the document. And put a title on it, right? Or maybe it's write the outline or maybe, you know, I've had some clients who really struggle and their first step is actually open my laptop, right?

[00:23:28] Alexis: Open my laptop, go into Google Docs. And so this is kind of a silly example, but I think that it really, really helps. It's very, you know, I had a client the other day say, My hands are always dry and I needed to buy and I need to buy lotion, but this is something that I probably would've procrastinated forever using the technique of breaking it down.

[00:23:47] Alexis: I, I said, Go to Amazon , buy lotion when lotion arrives. Bring it into my office. And he was like, It sounds silly, but I actually did the thing instead of, you know, being complaining about my dry hands for the next three weeks. Right. And so it, it's just funny because you realize. Something so simple actually makes a big difference because there's often a hurdle of like, I don't know what to do.

[00:24:11] Alexis: I don't know how to do it. And even if we might know in our head, if we don't write it down, then we have, we, our mind looks at the big task and it says, "Oh, I'm not gonna do that right now". Or maybe it's a bigger thing that's gonna take six hours and you don't have six hours. If you break it down, you can start to see, "Oh, I could make a little bit of progress."

[00:24:29] Alexis: And so that's the place where I start most with people for procrastination.

[00:24:33] Scott: Yeah. So there's obviously concerns people have around, It's too big. I'll, I'll tackle it another day. There's also, um, other things that plays in there around fear of failure and, those other things

[00:24:46] Scott: that Perfectionism 

[00:24:47] Alexis: Yeah. Perfectionism and procrastination are very highly linked. Right. Because, you know, you don't wanna start something if it's not gonna, cuz you're worried about it not being perfect and then you finally do it at the last minute and then it's not, you know, if it's not perfect, it's not your fault.

[00:25:01] Alexis: You didn't have enough time to make it perfect. Right.

[00:25:04] Scott: It's a perfect, perfect excuse, 

[00:25:07] Alexis: Right. Exactly. 

[00:25:09] Scott: So you've mentioned startups is a lot of your work with startups in that, that fast paced kind of just get it out there, everyone's overloaded and working long hours? Or do you, do

[00:25:21] Scott: you, is it wider than that? 

[00:25:22] Alexis: Yeah. Well, it's wider than that, I would say. I mean, I do live in San Francisco. Um, so, you know, it's kind of the, the land of the startup. Right. however, you 

[00:25:30] Scott: must 

[00:25:30] Alexis: be busy then. 

[00:25:32] Alexis: Yeah. So there are a lot of, there are a lot of companies I work with that are startups. There's a lot that were startups and have become bigger, Right.

[00:25:37] Alexis: It's like I work with companies like Google and Lyft and I work with a lot of like banks and lawyers and, and things like that. People who have lots of people who just have really big lives, big jobs, and not a lot of time. Um, and so, you know, I work with people from a wide variety, but yeah, there's a lot of startups done in there because I think people are, they're trying to do a lot with very little, and it's really easy to think that, Yeah, I'll just keep doing it.

[00:26:03] Alexis: I'll keep doing it until I can. And then you realize like at a certain point you burn out, the company burns out, and that isn't actually sustainable in the long run.

[00:26:12] Scott: So, how much of your work is with, leaders, , versus the teams itself? Cuz a leader could make or break all of this, can't they, in terms of their expectations of the team and practice what you preach, et cetera.

[00:26:23] Alexis: Yeah. So I would say that when I do corporate work, uh, I'm doing like a lot of workshops and trainings and things like that, that is open to everybody typically. So it'll be, you know, big mix of both leaders and employees and like, everyone's all in there. Right? Uh, when I work with individual. Uh, one on one coaching.

[00:26:40] Alexis: It tends to be a lot of people that are in leadership positions or have some kind of level of professional seniority. Um, and I think that, you know, the, the reason for this, I'm just gonna speculate, is a lot of people that I work with tend to be people I would describe as successful people who have gotten there by brute force.

[00:26:58] Alexis: And who are now looking for a different way to kind of maintain their success without, you know, all of the stress and without, you know, maybe having no time for family or, you know, the things that are important to them. And so I tend to, you know, and also one on one coaching, um, you know, it, it's probably something that a lot of folks aren't even thinking about until they become leaders, you know?

[00:27:19] Scott: Yeah. So are they getting to that kind of burnt out stage?" I'm working, putting in the long hours. Something's gotta give. I need some support here". Is that generally when they come to you rather than, Ideally they'd come sooner before it got to that stage. 

[00:27:30] Alexis: I I know, right? It's, it's one of those things, when I give workshops and I teach workshops, one of the questions I always get asked is, "Why don't they teach this stuff in college?" And I don't have a good answer for this, Right? Because these are skills that, um, that everyone can learn. Uh, and they're skills that we expect people to have instead of realizing that they are skills that need to be learned just like everything else, right?

[00:27:53] Alexis: And so some people have been naturally good at them, and it feels. Normal to them and other people have really struggled. Um, I also work with a lot of people who have been diagnosed with ADHD in their adulthood, um, as, as was I actually. And so I think that's something that comes up a lot too, is, you know, we've, we've just been, we've been doing the things and we get the things done, but with a lot of stress and a lot of cycles and things like that.

[00:28:19] Alexis: And so I think that's something that shows up a lot.

[00:28:22] Scott: Yeah, and you're right. Why isn't that taught in college? I think that the organizations and traditional ways of doing things are still, and you've mentioned the technologies designed to keep you addicted to it and to keep you on that. So it's almost. The odds are stacked against people, aren't they? It's almost giving them permission to know it doesn't have to be this way.

[00:28:43] Scott: You don't have to just, you know, be the slave to your inbox and a slave to meetings. You can stick your head above the para pit and say, "No, it doesn't have to be this way!"

[00:28:53] Alexis: Right, exactly. I mean, I think email is a really good example of this. Um, most people have email notifications on, right, And they're just like constantly in the background pinging and dinging. Or maybe they have the sound off, but they're still getting that little popup or maybe they're seeing that red notice, which all of these things are built to get us to go in there and engage.

[00:29:10] Alexis: Right. I am always telling people, turn off the notifications, right? And batch process, your email batch process, your messaging on whatever schedule works for you. And people are always afraid to do this. And the question that that I'm always asking is, "when is the last time that you received an email that was a true emergency? "

[00:29:28] Scott: Yeah. 

[00:29:29] Alexis: Never. People don't use email in 

[00:29:32] Alexis: emerg. 

[00:29:32] Scott: they'll,

[00:29:32] Scott: phone you

[00:29:33] Alexis: Yeah, they'll call you, right? They're not gonna be like, Yeah, "the house is on fire, but we just left her in there cuz she didn't check her email". You know, like, that just doesn't happen. If someone really needs you urgently, they will pick up the phone and call you.

[00:29:44] Alexis: Right? They will hunt you down. Um, and so usually I, you know, I, I always approach things from a perspective of experimentation, right? We wanna experiment, we wanna see what works, what doesn't. And so typically people will experiment with turning off notifications and I don't think I've had anyone who's ever turned them back on

[00:30:01] Scott: I'd imagine there's a period of withdrawal though, cuz Yeah. I've helped people with similar email problems and yeah, it's like, "I, I need to, I need to check it. I'm just gonna, 

[00:30:11] Alexis: uh, 

[00:30:11] Scott: Check it, but, and I must check it in the morning first thing". But then that's, if you do that, you're then down the rabbit hole and you've lost an hour and like, you know, so it's deferring 

[00:30:20] Alexis: Mm-hmm. 

[00:30:21] Scott: But you people have been doing that for years.

[00:30:23] Scott: It's, it's quite difficult, isn't it, to let go of that?

[00:30:25] Alexis: Yeah, it is. And I think you're totally right. Like there's the notifications, which are kind of the external, you know, thing that's bringing you in. And then there's also our own brain seeking that, right? And so it's, it's equal parts of, yeah, we can use the technology to help us remove the temptation, but then our brain is also in the habit of like wanting to check, right?

[00:30:45] Alexis: And so then we have, we have, you know, there's tools that we can use to help us with that as. Right. Um, even just closing out your email so that the temptation is not there when you're not actively checking it. Um, having a little mantra for yourself of like, get back to what you're doing or, uh, you know, there's just a lot of different ways that we can use to help train, retrain our brain to not seek that every single time.

[00:31:08] Alexis: Okay.

[00:31:10] Scott: So you've shed loads of great tips. If you, if you had kind of your top, I know your top three tips to give away for someone listening is thinking "I just, I'm in this chaos state, I'm overloaded, I dunno what to do next. I've got meetings coming out my ears. I've got inbox, 300 emails plus a day.

[00:31:25] Scott: I dread going on holiday cuz when I come back it's over a thousand. "What, what are your kind of killer tips that you give, you'd give to, to listeners? 

[00:31:33] Alexis: So I think the first one is actually gonna be use some sort of task management app and write everything down. Like stop relying on your memory 

[00:31:42] Scott: mm-hmm. 

[00:31:43] Alexis: it doesn't work and it's really stressful. Right? Uh, so just stop, just write everything down. It's okay. We don't need to have good memories. I know we've been prided on that.

[00:31:51] Alexis: Like people, you know, our teachers told us when we were young. It's good to have a good memory, but it's okay. You don't have to, you don't have to use that. So just use a task system, write everything down. Um, my next tip would, Make a plan today for tomorrow. So before the end of your workday, look at your calendar for the next day.

[00:32:08] Alexis: Look at your task list. Make sure that it makes fit, Makes sense, right? Like if you have a day of back to back meetings, at best you're gonna be able to get through your email and Slack. You're not gonna be able to do anything else. So don't assign yourself stuff that you're definitely not gonna be able todo.

[00:32:26] Alexis: Sign yourself things on days that you do have the time for them, um, and make that plan so that you can disconnect from work in the evening, and that you also can start the next day knowing what to execute on. This also helps with what you said about email, which is if you have a plan in the morning, it is really obvious what you should be doing, and there's a trade off between answering email or getting this stuff.

[00:32:48] Alexis: Right. Whereas if we don't have any plan, email seems like the obvious place to start. Right? Um, and then the last one would be like, just turn off all those notifications, just turn them off. Like, especially for any kind of games or social, um, for email and then for, you know, for teams, for Slack, et cetera.

[00:33:06] Alexis: I think. Depending on your organization, you may need to have some maybe direct mentions or things like that might need to be turned on. And calendar notifications are generally okay because they're bringing us closer to the thing that we need to do, which is being on time for the meeting.

[00:33:20] Scott: Perfect. That's great. Thank you. So one of the things I ask all my guests, if you could take one book with you to a desert island and you're stranded for the rest of your life,

[00:33:28] Scott: what would it be?

[00:33:29] Alexis: Oh, Kitchen by Banana Yoshimoto.

[00:33:32] Scott: Tell us a little bit about it.

[00:33:33] Alexis: Um, it's a book I read in high school, so of course it's like one, you know, one of the things that's remained with me, but it's just kind of a, like a beautiful story about, um, about family, but not fa you know, family built in different ways and kind of struggle and grief and, I don't know, it's just a really, it's just a really great book.

[00:33:52] Alexis: Um, I don't wanna give away too much of the plot, but it's worth a read. It's worth a read,

[00:33:57] Scott: Brilliant. I'll get that link in the show notes. If people want to work with you, how do they get hold of you?

[00:34:02] Alexis: Yeah, so the best way to get hold of me is through my website, which is alexishaselberger.com. So hopefully that goes in the show notes cuz no one will be able to spell it. That's the, that's the problem I have there. Um, or people can find me on my YouTube channel, do more stress less or, uh, Facebook do more stress less or Instagram do dot more stress, dot less.

[00:34:23] Alexis: But you can find all of those things at my website as well.

[00:34:26] Scott: Perfect, and I'll get all those linked in. The show notes been been absolutely great chatting to you and thank you very much for your time.

[00:34:33] Alexis: Yeah, likewise. It's been a really fun convo.

[00:34:36] Scott: A big, thank you for listening to the Rebel Diaries show your time is precious, so it is appreciated. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to hit that subscribe button in your podcast app of choice so you don't miss the next one. There's a new episode every Monday morning, ideal for your commute to work or early morning walk. 

[00:34:54] Scott: Until next time, take care be a rebel and deliver work with impact.