Balance & Beyond Podcast

Episode Summary

#46 How to do more with less

Discover the transformational strategies that redefine success for women in the workplace, specifically tailored for navigating today's high-pressure environment.

We're cutting through the noise of increased workload expectations in a climate rife with high interest rates, inflation, and global uncertainty.

Discover the transformational strategies that redefine success for women in the workplace, specifically tailored for navigating today's high-pressure environment. We're cutting through the noise of increased workload expectations in a climate rife with high interest rates, inflation, and global uncertainty.

Uncover how the seemingly benign 'time vampires' of social media, procrastination, and the pursuit of perfectionism are costing us dearly – burning both ends of the candle and leaving us drained. We're getting real about the Hunger Games-esque corporate landscape, where budget cuts and headcount restrictions pit colleagues against each other in a battle to stay employed. It's time to recalibrate, to set boundaries, and most importantly, to understand that the answer isn't always to do more but to do differently.

Embark on a journey of self-discovery with a time audit that could reclaim up to ten hours a week from those pesky 'leaked hours'.

Say goodbye to saying yes to everything and hello to strategic prioritisation, as we discuss the golden trifecta of people-pleasing, perfectionism, and procrastination, and how to confront them head-on.

Learn to channel your newfound time into avenues that boost productivity, deepen family connections, or simply allow for that much-needed downtime. We're replacing the 'dopamine junkie' cycle with meaningful task engagement, tackling the art of focus and batching tasks for ultimate efficiency.

Join me as we embrace the empowering paradigm shift of doing less to achieve more, paving the way for women to thrive in the workplace without sacrificing their wellbeing.

If you want to learn how to do more than less, including practical strategies that work in today's world, join us at Burnout to Balance, a free, live event starting on Wednesday 15th May.

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Episode Transcript

INTRO: Welcome to Balance and Beyond, the podcast for ambitious women who refuse to accept burnout as the price of success. Here, we’re committed to empowering you with the tools and strategies you need to achieve true balance, where your career, relationships and health all thrive, and where you have the power to define success on your own terms. I honour the space you’ve created for yourself today, so take a breath, and let's dive right in…

How to do more, with less. One of the most common questions I'm getting at the moment, and the reason why we're dedicating this second episode in this special two-part series on how to master 2024's new dynamics, when it comes to moving from burnout to balance. This is all part of these five key trends we are seeing. 

So, in today's episode, we're going to talk through what actually is going on, what are some of the trends we're seeing, so that you can benchmark where you're at in terms of your work, in terms of your life, and then also talk about what are some of the subtleties that perhaps you may be missing or the implications that are happening in your life that we want to nip in the bud right away. 

It's not new that we're being expected to do more with less. I still remember my father, who's now in his 80s, saying to me, “Jo, you know, companies always want more.” They always want to squeeze more out of the lemon. However, what we are seeing is there's a particular, at the moment, confluence of certain factors that are making this feel a lot more intense than it has previously. 

Of course, going through COVID, there was a whole lot of change and everybody had to do more, and they were trying to do more under the circumstances, and organizations have always been looking for efficiencies. But right now, we're seeing this interesting combination of factors. We've got changing economic circumstances, high interest rates, inflation, cost of living pressures, global instability. This is really amplifying what was there before. 

Especially now, everyone's been running really hard since COVID and we never really stopped to look up and go, “Oh, it's been a couple of years now, we're in 2024, and everyone is exhausted, and has still been going at this pace.” So what we're saying with this trend, this sort of economic circumstances, factor that is driving what we're seeing here, where we've got some overt changes, when we're talking about doing more with less, and then there's some subtle changes that I want to draw to your attention. 

So some of these overt problems, as well as, obviously, we've got the economic climate. People are now, due to the current economic climate and due to circumstances, aren't getting the budget that they used to. They're not getting the headcount, they're not getting the opportunities to outsource or bring in consultants. They're faced with redundancies. They're faced with restructures, reorgs, matrix structures, and everybody is really turning up those expectations on themselves. 

Because many organisations I know right now feel like the Hunger Games, where it's elbows out, everybody's in absolute self-preservation mode, because there's a fear that, “If I'm made redundant, or I'm restructured out in this economic climate, am I going to get another role?” Sometimes, in these tough times, it can be last in, first out. So, a lot of people, even though they're unhappy, are bunkering down and staying put. Even though they're unhappy, they are bunkering down and staying put. 

What this means is, we've also got this doing more with less. From a more subtle perspective. So, yes, expectations remain sky high. Lower budgets, lower headcount. Even if you've got a budget, you probably can't find the people, you can't recruit them fast enough, because you don't have time, because you've got too much on. 

From a subtle perspective, we are seeing this gradual creep in expectations, where bosses are giving more and more, and it's another project and it has to be done because maybe it's a regulatory change, or it's a legal obligation, or this particular customer or client has demanded it be done, and on the surface, each one looks like a legitimate yes. 

You know, you're right. Laws are changing. We have to be compliant. We're going to have to take that on, but what women are terrible at is going, “Okay, I'll take this on.” However, this is a huge project. I'm now going to shift or drop, or we have to change this other thing. Instead, there's this, “Yes, I'll take it.” Or, we have to change this other thing. Instead, there's this, “Yes, I'll take it.” “Yes, I'll take it.” “Yes, I'll take it.” 

And, eventually, after many, many years of this slow and gradual creep, now it's like oh my god, I've got no more room. There is absolutely nothing left. My arms are so heavy from holding all of this stuff. The challenge women tend to face is, with all these circumstances, women have very high expectations of themselves.I often call these ruthless, or tyrannical, and these expectations are far higher than any boss or any organisation could ever put in place. 

So, when you've got this confluence of circumstances, the workload externally is piling up. I am seeing that the expectations that women have of themselves, of what they're able to do, of what they're capable of doing, of what they can fit in a day, is gradually going up. It's going up as well, because of the fear of “Well, the stakes are now higher If I'm restructured out, I can't afford to pay the mortgage.” “Costs of living have gone up, how am I going to do this?” 

And so this fear starts to infiltrate everything and instead of now being a high performer, being a woman of influence, really owning your worth, it becomes this Hunger Games. Really owning your worth? It becomes this Hunger Games, almost worker bee marathon, about who can work the hardest, who can produce the most, in this misguided belief that the more I produce, the more stuff I get done, the more valuable I will be and the less likely I am to lose my job, which means then that I feel safe. 

But all that happens is that these expectations, we just end up beating ourselves up more, and you can't beat yourself up to a promotion. Trust me, many women have tried, and many women do do it to a point, but there's a plateau where this is going to be successful and there is a plateau when so many women now are saying enough. 

I don't want to feel this way. I don't want to not be able to sleep for three consecutive nights because I made a mistake. You're human, and yet we expect ourselves to be robots, to have no feelings. Oh, we'll just suppress them with a whole lot of wine and chocolate, by the way, but all right, I've made a mistake. 

The ironic thing is, the reason you probably made a mistake is because you've got 50,000 things on your list. You're switching between them all. You haven't had any sleep because you're overwhelmed and you're stressed, and when you're trying to do six things at once, of course you're going to make mistakes. You haven't delegated it to your team, you won't let anyone check your work, you won't ask for help, and so, no surprise, and then you don't have any sleep, you're more likely to make mistakes, and thus the cycle continues. 

So, I am not suggesting for a second that a lot of the workload that you are perhaps dealing with right now is excessive. It is likely too much. You may be doing two roles or three roles, or covering for someone I hear this all the time but I'm going to get you to question how much of my current suffering of the overwhelm, of the anxiety, of the stress is actually because of my own self-imposed expectations of what I am or am not capable of versus the expectations of those around me, versus the expectations of those around me. 

Chances are pretty high, so much of this is self-inflicted. And with all this stress and all this overwhelm, what women are asking me for, coming to people like me, is saying well, jo, I need more, I need some help, I need coaching, I need you to do more, make me more efficient, make me more organized. They hear words like collapsing time yeah, I've had, I would say. 

A significant portion of people come to me lately, suspecting that they've got ADHD, and that may be the case, but I would suggest they just have a brain that's controlling them, that they've got a brain that has been trained to not pay attention. They've got a brain that is completely distracted from all the subconscious programs that are sitting within it, that are actually concurrently running. You think, if you've got 50 tabs open, that your brain is going back to “Yep, failed at that one.” “Yep, failed at that one.” “Oh, haven't done this.” “Don't forget to book the dentist.” 

And so, it does look like you have ADHD because you can't focus on anything, but it's not a neurological condition. A lot of the time, it is simply the inability of your brain to shut down those tabs, to process those emotions that are keeping all those tabs open. And so what becomes so important this year, particularly with this confluence of factors that are not going away anytime soon, is to learn to control your brain and to completely change the paradigm of how you see yourself, and it's for this reason that I'm running a three-day live event, which is coming up very soon, which is all about giving you these strategies to really master this new paradigm, in 2024. 

Because if you don't, you are going to be on this fast path to burnout. And I do not want that. You are going to be on this fast path to burnout, and I do not want that. I'm seeing so many women who are incredibly capable, who have so much potential, go downhill, often with this desire for I need to do more with less, is at the forefront, it’s leading the charge. 

I'll go more into this in the event, but what I'm actually seeing is the way to actually learn to do it. It’s more what I'm calling how to master the art of strategic subtraction. By this I mean, it's not actually about more, it's about less. Now your instinct might be are you kidding me? I can't put anything down. I've got so much to do. It all matters. 

Yeah, yeah, I know you think it all matters, but I can tell you, after working with hundreds of women through my coaching programs, we get the bulk of people who come to us to do a time audit in their first couple of weeks and you know what they uncover Despite being frantic, run off their feet, no time to do anything. We typically find between five and 10 hours of leaked time, whether it's through time vampires, whether it's through social media, whether it's through procrastinating, whether it's doom scrolling or whatever it may be, some confluence of all of those. 

What do you think you could do with 10 extra hours a week when you were actually productive and alive and had energy and could focus? Chances are quite a lot, and I'm not suggesting that you even have to spend those five to 10 hours that you find in work. What if you could spend them I don't know talking to your partner, if you have one? What if you could spend it with quality time with the kids, if that's what you want to do, or, heaven forbid? What if you spent it alone, doing nothing. Oh my gosh. I know that sounds crazy to say, but this is where you need to learn how to actually extract and subtract things that are not necessary. Most women have conniptions when we take them through this process, but I promise you the results are remarkable. 

And when I'm talking about less here again, I'll go into more detail on this in our live event but this is when I talk about less I mean about saying no, and we recently released an entire PDF free guide. That was this must-have guide about how to say no, so I'll put the link to that in the show notes if you haven't got it. This is about saying no, not saying more yeses to everything. This is about less procrastination. When you are a people pleaser and a perfectionist, I call this the golden trifecta you will also procrastinate. 

Chances are, you know how you do it. You know when you're procrastinating, whether it's doom scrolling or you probably got your crutches. But you'll be procrastinating way more than you realize because a lot of your procrastination is wrapped up in busyness. Things that your brain has said to you are crucial, are important, that you have no choice, that they have to get done right now in this way, are important, that you have no choice, that they have to get done right now in this way, and the reality is that's all a fabrication of your imagination. 

I've had people come to me and say, jo, the house has to be vacuumed twice a day. You have no idea. I have to iron everything. I have to iron socks, I have to iron sheets, and I have to do this every day. And I have to do this every day and they are adamant with their bodies. By the end of the program they've turned around and gone. “Oh, I don't know when the last time I changed the sheets was, I can't remember.” Instead of changing them every second day, like there are things that we do in our lives that we stuff it in, because we've got this identity, that it's all about more.

Part of learning to do less is also doing less. Switching, and this comes with the procrastination and the overwhelm is also doing less switching, and this comes with the procrastination and the overwhelm. But the amount of women I see switching between 50,000 things at once. And look, I'm a human. I will confess to doing this at times, but I have such a good read on my brain Sometimes I will allow it to wander and go, “All right, I'm going to switch.” 

But I have all these tools in my toolkit. This means when it's time to focus, I know how to batch, I know how to focus. I've got this beautiful toolkit that means I can smash out more in half an hour than I know somebody else could in three hours. And that's not sounding boastful, because it's not just me. We replicate these results through hundreds and hundreds of our clients who magic all this time. So by less switching, they're actually going to achieve more, contrary to what their brain is trying to tell them. 

And then the last piece that we see around learning to do less is as well as the switching is. We need to learn to move away from less busy work. It's so easy for us to become what I call dopamine junkies, and by this I mean every time you send an email or you send a notification in Slack or Teams, or whatever you're doing these little tasks that you know are the busy work, you're getting a dopamine hit. 

And it's only when you begin to understand how your brain works and you can learn to subjectively trigger dopamine for the things that you know you need to do, that you're procrastinating. You know you need to do that. You're procrastinating on that. You're actually going to get to do them. This is what holds us back. 

And it's super easy just to, “Oh, I've only got 10 minutes between meetings”, rather than working on this thing that you know needs to be done. That's the strategic work that's actually going to move the needle that you're probably going to enjoy is going to boost your chances of work and fulfilment. “Oh, I'll do this thing, and I'll do this thing, and I'll do this thing, and I'll do this thing.” 

And then, I'll look at my list and I'll write a list to my list and then I'll spend ages looking at my list and then where am I on my list? And I'll check back which one's on my list and let me take this off the list. Oh, I did this thing but it wasn't on my list. Let me add it to my list. It's exhausting. So the answer to how to do more is actually all about learning to do less. 

But when we talk about doing less, there is one paradigm shift that you need to make if this is ever going to be successful. For you, and by this I mean so many women's identity is built on being a get shit done person. When your identity is built on how much you can do, how much you can produce. That's where your worth has been based. That's what your self-worth and your self-esteem is based on output, it's based on stuff. 

Anything I tell you is not going to stick Because in a world where there's the opportunity to do more, if your worth is based on doing more well, the only way you're going to feel worthy is if you do more. And despite the fact that you're resentful, and the only way for you to feel worthy is if you do more. And despite the fact that you're resentful and exhausted and you don't want to do more and you're at war with yourself. This is all that's happening. You're at war with yourself because the logical conscious brain of yours is going, “This is nuts, I've got too much on.” 

But your deep subconscious and your identity, if it's based on being a get shit done person, it's based on how much you can do, then no tools, no strategies are ever going to work long term unless we shift your identity. This is the game changer. We shift your identity away from being someone who is valued for their output and we help you instead learn to be valued for their outcomes or for making things happen, or simply for who you are. 

Imagine if you didn't have to do anything to feel worthy. Imagine if you didn't have to do anything to have earned some rest, or you didn't have to do anything to even for who you are is how you were paid and how you're rewarded. To even you just for who you are is how you are paid and how you're rewarded. I know that's a foreign concept to a society that is completely wired around doing and doing more, doing it faster and doing it better, and we have fallen into the trap of thinking that this is the way that we live and this is the path to fulfilment. And I can tell you as someone who followed that path hard. 

I was a good get shit done person. I could do a lot. I could do it fast. That was my thing. I could do it better. I could take on more than everybody else. I could push all the limits, and all it got me was misery and emptiness, because no matter how much you do was misery and emptiness, because no matter how much you do, it's never enough. It's like this insatiable beast that you can never feed. And so, that is my invitation to you to start to look at where you are being trapped in this loop of having to do more with less, and how much of this is actually tied to your identity. Because it's only once we fix this, we address your identity and we go down to the root that now all of your behaviours will start to shift. 

So, I'll say it again, I can preach it until the cows come home. I can give you tools, I can give you strategies, but they are not going to work in the way that you want and you are not going to get the results unless you make this identity shift. And this is why it is so important that I would love you to come and register for this free workshop we've got coming on next week. I want to help you understand, what are these shifts that you need to make?

When we talk about doing less is more, I'm going to give you some tangible and practical strategies that work, but I'm also going to challenge you on your identity and what's the opportunity for you? If you can make this shift and I give you the tools, oh my goodness, everything is going to click. And, ironically, by actually dedicating yourself to doing less, don't tell anyone, but you're actually going to end up doing more. 

That's the secret to this success. We intentionally do less, we stop the leaks, we stop the vampires, we intensely focus and magically we actually get more done with less stress, with less overwhelm, with less exhaustion. Who wouldn't want that right? So this is your invitation. Come and join us! Let's get you the tools, and let's help you better cope with how to do more, with less, in 2024. 

OUTRO: Before we go, in case you missed it, I wanted to make sure you had that link to grab your free, must-have guide the Art of Saying no Without Guilt. You can visit Lots of practical tips, beautiful information on conditioning, and I want you to be able to embrace the freedom of saying no. Let's help you reclaim your time, boost your energy and create a life with true balance. That's Enjoy the guide, and we'll see you next time on the Balance and Beyond podcast. 

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