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Category Archives: Changing Your Life

Many people I know run at about a mile a minute. They juggle work responsibilities, family, household chores, friendships, cooking, car repairs, and about a million other little things. When they do finally find a moment to themselves, they often spend it in front of the TV, or maybe listening to music, a podcast, or an audiobook.

Amid all the action and noise, where is the silence?

Silence is important because it allows us the time and space we need to just think and be present. When we go on a quiet walk or take a shower or drive the car with the radio turned off, we give our minds a much-needed break. These quiet moments allow ideas to germinate and come to life. They are essential to the creative process.

Think about it. How much creativity can you really have during a Zoom meeting? Or when you’re helping out with homework? Or scrambling to put together dinner?

There’s a reason why the advertising agents in the show Mad Men have all their best ideas during “downtime.” When your brain is allowed some peace and quiet, it has the freedom to stretch and travel to places it might not usually go. Entrepreneur Jason Hennessey sets aside an entire day (what he calls “Creative Wednesdays”) for idea generation and creative endeavors. He admits that the idea of devoting a whole day to creativity was daunting at first. He feared that he wouldn’t get all his work done and that deadlines wouldn’t be met. However, he found that his Creative Wednesdays actually made him more productive during the other four days of his workweek. He had more energy and enthusiasm, and he found himself looking forward to his mid-week creative time.

Get Started

You don’t have to dedicate an entire day to quiet, creative time (it’s simply not feasible for many people). However, you can start somewhere. Begin by setting aside fifteen minutes or half an hour every day for quiet journaling, mind mapping, or free writing. If you have a family or housemates, let them know what you’re up to, so they respect your space. Then, find a quiet a room or go for a walk and let the ideas flow!

This may not come naturally at first, but take heart. You’ll soon become accustomed to your designated quiet time. To help ease into this time, you may want to practice free writing. Pick a topic and write whatever comes to mind. Let your thoughts flow in a stream of consciousness. Don’t worry about grammar or complete sentences—just write. You may be surprised by what comes out!

We all need a little more silence in our lives. Try fostering quiet creative time in your life, and see what comes of it.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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be yourself oscar wilde

NOTE: This is an updated post from Oct, 2015.

I sometimes get the question: “Margaret, what is the most important attribute of a good leader?”

This question is a tough one. There are a lot of factors that make up an excellent leader: trust, self-confidence, good communication skills. In fact, I talk about my top ten attributes in my book, the Ten Minute Leadership Challenge. But the one thing at the heart of it all is AUTHENTICITY.

You have to be an authentic leader before anything else. You need to know yourself, your values, how you work, and who you are before you can even consider leading others. Authenticity means having a deep understanding of your inner self and not compromising your deeply held values. Sure, you can adapt to different situations and show different sides of yourself at different times (i.e. a more casual side at home, a more professional side at work), but your core should remain the same.

superhero

How would anyone trust you if you acted like one person sometimes and a completely different person at other times? What would people think if you always agreed with whomever you were speaking, even if their assertions were way off base from what you believe?

Being authentic should be part of your personal brand. Show up, be yourself, and take a genuine interest in those around you.

I have found that authenticity is just as important as ever in the workplace. Employees of all ages and backgrounds look for candid, authentic leadership that they can trust.

Furthermore, with the popularity of social media, your comments and photos are everywhere. Yes, you should be your authentic self on the web, but you should be your BEST authentic self. Let your funny or intellectual or caring side shine!

You’ll find that being your best authentic self is a heck of a lot easier than significantly modifying your behavior and beliefs whenever you’re with a different group of people. When people say, “your reputation proceeds you,” you should know that is a good thing.

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MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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If you’re among the many people who have been working from home for over a year, it may be time to spruce things up and clean your space. Papers tend to get shuffled into stacks, odds and ends tend to get crammed into drawers. It’s a good idea to take some time to pay attention to your work space.

Why tidy your home office?

For one, it will make things easier to find and keep track of. Though you may have to invest a few hours to clean your space now, you’ll save time in the future.

Secondly, having a clean work area can help put you in the right mindset. Decluttering your space can help to declutter you mind, reduce stress, and increase self-esteem. You’ll likely find yourself breathing easier once you’ve tidied up your space.

Where to begin cleaning?

Start by taking a good look at your work space and thinking about what needs to be improved. Are you in need of a new filing system? Could you benefit from a “to do” box? Would a large whiteboard calendar be useful for organizing? Are you thinking about swapping out your current desk for a standing desk? Identify your big-picture needs before getting to work.

Quick Tips for Home Office Cleaning:

  • Remove the clutter. It can be helpful to take everything out of your office before putting anything back in. That way, you can thoroughly clean the space and start afresh with your organization.
  • Sort papers efficiently! Create a recycling pile, a shred pile, and a filing pile. Once you have your filing pile, turn on some background music and get to work! Make sure your file folders are logical and well-labeled.
  • Make sure everything has a home. Even your paperclips and sticky notes deserve a place in your office.
  • Group similar items. For instance, you might create a letter station filled with envelopes, paper, stamps, mailers, and return address labels.
  • Buy drawer organizers. It’s easy to cram everything into a drawer and forget about it. Instead, shell out a few dollars for small, plastic drawer divers, like these by Madesmart.
  • Be logical. Keep the things you use the most (pens, notebooks, sticky notes, etc.) handy and within reach.
  • Commit to tidiness. Once you’ve revamped your space and reworked your filling and organizing systems, be sure to stick to them! Once per week, set aside time to take care of any filing or other organizational tasks that need to be done. If you keep up on the work, it won’t feel nearly as daunting.

Happy spring! Have fun reorganizing your space.


MARGARET SMITH IS A CAREER COACH, AUTHOR, INSIGHTS® DISCOVERY (AND DEEPER DISCOVERY) LICENSED PRACTITIONER, AND FOUNDER OF UXL. SHE HOSTS WORKSHOPS FOR PEOPLE WHO NEED CAREER OR PERSONAL GUIDANCE. 
CHECK OUT MARGARET’S ONLINE LEADERSHIP COURSE.

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