Episode 006: Taking the BS Out of Time Management with Vicky Cook
In this episode, I’m joined by Vicky Cook.
Vicky Cook is a certified transition coach who helps high-achieving women find more purpose, connection, and adventure outside of the corporate walls. She specializes in helping women who are transitioning through their late 30s and 40s awaken to the woman they're craving to be.
I “officially” met Vicky two summers ago in a branding course. It just so happened that we were both going through training programs and getting ready to launch our respective coaching practices.
I asked Vicky to come on the show, specifically for a chat about a blog post she wrote over a year ago that really struck a chord with me. It’s a blog post titled, “Taking the BS Out of Time Management.”
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In this episode, I'm joined by my friend, Vicki Cook. Vicki is a certified transition coach who helps high achieving women find more purpose connection and adventure outside of the corporate walls. She specializes in helping women who are transitioning through their late 30's into their 40's awaken to the woman they're craving to be.
I met Vicky two summers ago in a branding course. We were both going through our respective training programs and getting ready to launch our individual coaching practices.
Previous to that we both had personal blogs. Ironically, I was a reader of Vicki's personal blog. We quickly hit it off and have since gone from being online friends to real-life friends. The work that we do compliment each other so nicely. So I asked Vicki to come on the show specifically for a chat about a blog post that she wrote over a year ago and that blog post struck a chord with me, and one that I refer back to often. It's a blog post titled, "Taking the B.S. Out of Time Management."
One of the biggest things I hear from people is, "I don't have time."
...I don't have time to grocery shop. ...I don't have time to make a home-cooked meal. ...I don't have time to exercise. ...I don't have time for self-care.
If you're like me and somewhat of a productivity nerd you may always be in search of the perfect process, the best planner or the best app that would help me manage my time a little bit better.
But as Vicky says:
I hate to burst your bubble but here's the no B.S. reality about time management that no one wants to hear. It's not about your calendar or the clock. There are no magical tips and tricks. There isn't a secret or a perfect plan or answer all of your I-don't-have-enough-time prayers. The cold hard truth is that you don't need to learn how to bend it better manage your time. You need to learn how to set priorities. Drop the excuses and get real with yourself on what you truly want.
And this is what we chat about in this episode.
So you may notice a trend that I'm trying - to present episodes in mini-series.
Episode 000, 001 and 002 were what I call "grounding episodes." These are episodes where I introduce myself who I am, what I do, why do it and what I talk about.
Episodes 003, 004 and 005, and the Bonus Episode 005.5 were on environmental toxins.
This episode, Episode 006 is a transitional episode, as it sets up my next mini-series that's starting next week.
So with that let's get to the show.
Naomi Nakamura: Hey Vicki welcome to the show!
Vicky Cook: Thanks so much for being here!
Naomi Nakamura: I'm so excited that you are here because we're going to talk about a topic today that is near and dear to my heart, and it's based on a blog post that you wrote over a year ago that I've saved because it has so many truth bombs! I love it so much, and I think it's something that we all struggle with at times.
Naomi Nakamura: You titled the post, "Taking the B.S. Out of Time Management." Tell us what that means, and we'll dive into all the specifics but what is the B.S. in time management?
Vicky Cook: So you and I both work with clients. You know we're trying to encourage people to follow their goals and get things right. I don't know about you, but I hear a lot of excuses - "I don't have time to do that." "I just don't have time to get that done."
Vicky Cook: And it's something that you and I as coaches recognize that because we lean into it as well. It's a very, very easy crutch to fall back on because everybody's busy. We all have kind of things on our plate, get a lot of things done and take on new things. And there are only 24-hours in a day, so we just don't have time to do everything.
Vicky Cook:And it sounds like a nice logical reason, but really when it comes down to it, it's not a matter of time. The planner industry will tell you if you get the perfect planner you'll be able to manage your time and get everything done it, follow your goals, etc. And as a recovering planner addict, I can tell you that my stack of beautiful, pretty planners have done nothing with helping me manage my time better because it's not about time.
Naomi Nakamura: So I'm laughing because you and I met in a Facebook group two summers ago but I think we really connected over our love for planners like Foxy Fix. If you haven't heard of Foxy Fix, I'll include a link to it in the show notes. They're so beautiful, and we love that. But I get what you're saying about how our planners are not our problem.
Vicky Cook: You know what is our problem? It really comes down to not being able to set priorities. Not being able to say "no." So we end up taking on too many things. It's also making excuses and just not really getting clear on what is important to us.
Vicky Cook: Another problem is we like to think that being busy makes us more important, or makes us appear more important. So we put a lot of our self-worth into being busy.
"Look at all the stuff I have to do."
"I have to go to this meeting."
"I have to go to a committee."
"I have to take care of this and drop this off over there.
"I am just so busy."
Vicky Cook: And it just makes us feel more and more busy.
Naomi Nakamura: Yes, and I feel like there's a lot more talk these days about the glorification of busy.
Naomi Nakamura: What do you mean when you say that it's tied to our self-esteem?
Vicky Cook:This is a generalization, not a blanket statement but a lot of people just feel like they're if they're doing something, and if other people see them doing nothing, then there is a perception of being lazy or wasting time.
Vicky Cook:We live in a world where people do a lot of judging, and people don't want to be judged. And so if they can appear super, super busy, then they feel that they are more desired by other people, that people depend on them. And it just helps them feel like there's a sense of, "I am needed. I am wanted. My life is more meaningful because all these people depend on me and I need to get all of this stuff done."
Naomi Nakamura: So a couple of things there is that we can be busy, but we're not busy on the things that matter to us.
Vicky Cook: Exactly, and that's why people constantly feel like they are at the mercy of their schedule. And that there's never enough time because they're not getting to the things that are meaningful because they're filling all their time with this busy work stuff.
Naomi Nakamura: So how do you clear through the clutter? What's the first thing to do?
Vicky Cook: So the first thing is probably learning to say no. Women, in particular, you know they're martyrs. They want to take on everything they want to do everything for everybody else. If you have kids, they want to go and take care of everything at school, bake brownies, and just take care of everything. And in the end, they forget about themselves and the process.
Naomi Nakamura: I see it in the workplace too. I see where a lot of my female colleagues would take on a whole lot more. And I think it's just inherent to the nature of women.
Vicky Cook: There's a need for women, especially in the workplace to try to prove ourselves. Taking that extra workload on can it make us feel like, "I can handle everything. I can take care of everything. I'm a total team player."
Naomi Nakamura: I think that combined with the need to be nurturing and to take care of other people too."
Vicky Cook:Yes. So all of that together just creates this craziness where we're overburdening and overwhelming ourselves with all this stuff to do.
Vicky Cook:So a couple of things and that is learning to say no. Learning what's important to you to feel joy, peace, and happiness. What's important to you. In your career. What's actually going to get you ahead.
Vicky Cook: Being really clear on that and then also working on your own sense of self-worth. Because if you're feeling like you're just on a hamster wheel or you're just constantly chasing something, you really have to find that from within.
Naomi Nakamura: Absolutely. Now there's one more thing that I really want to dive into because I definitely suffer from this - perfectionism.
Vicky Cook: Yes. Perfectionism is a mask for fear of not being enough. We want to make it perfect before we send it out into the world because we don't want to get judged on it. We don't want for people to look at it and see this little mistake here or think that they were lazy. It basically comes back to that judgment piece and being worried what other people are going to think. I think it's admirable because when there's perfectionism, it means somebody has a lot of pride in the work that they're doing.
Naomi Nakamura: But when it goes so far that it's holding you back from getting ahead, that's where you're starting to dip into it's more than just taking pride in your work. It's getting into being worried about what other people are going to think about me.
Vicky Cook: Yeah. I had a friend who would spend an entire day trying to fix one little tiny thing. She did design stuff on her job. And she knew that her boss wouldn't even realize that if she sent something off one or two pixels off, nobody would notice. Her boss wouldn't notice, but she'd spend all day trying to fix something before sending it off, and it was just taking all of her time. And she was not getting other things done. It was really hard for her to break that.
Naomi Nakamura: Wow. That's amazing. And I have to say in my 9-5 I'm a project manager, and I see that. And you can't really fault people for that because they want to put their best work forward. But at the same time when you let it hold you back from doing other things that need to be done, then it's going to be detrimental.
Naomi Nakamura: So what are some other ways that we sabotage our time management?
Vicky Cook: We make excuses. We basically say, "Oh I've got too much on my plate."
Vicky Cook: We also like to wait for something else to happen first. This is really common. "I will apply for a new job when I lose those 10 pounds." "I will clean out the closet when I move all these boxes in this other room and get them out of the way." We wait to do the thing that we really want to do by putting things off. "When I get that done then I'll do something else." And in the meantime, we find excuses for not doing a thing.
Naomi Nakamura: I think it all comes down to like you said, in the beginning, that really it's just having your priorities in place but you have to be really honest with yourself. You don't have to be honest with anyone else, but you've got to be honest with yourself on what those priorities are.
Naomi Nakamura: Do you have any recommended ways of going about doing that? It's easy to say, and not always easy to do.
Vicky Cook:Yes. I think when it comes down to setting your priorities and being really clear on what's important to yourself you have to start paying attention to - I don't know if this sounds a little woo-woo...
Naomi Nakamura: I hear so many people saying well this is going to sound woo-woo, but there is nothing wrong with woo-woo.
Vicky Cook: I totally agree. Thank you for that. Most of the time we spend all of our time in our head, and we are very logical, especially if you're in the corporate world, we are used to being logical. We think it through and weigh the pros and cons.
Naomi Nakamura: Exactly.
Vicky Cook: We are stuck in our heads, and we question ourselves. And really that's not where you're going to find the answer. You have to get in touch with how things are feeling in your body. And by that, I don't necessarily mean emotions. It's really, how things are sitting in your body?
Vicky Cook: If you're doing something that's not important to you you're going to feel it. Even though your mind might be saying this is exactly what you need to be doing, and this is what you should do, if it's not the right thing for you, if you're really in tune with yourself, you're going to feel it somewhere.
Naomi Nakamura: And by that, you mean a physical reaction, a physical feeling?
Vicky Cook: Exactly. It may be tension in your shoulders. It could be your stomach starts to feel upset. It could be just an overall feeling -a little more tired, more stress than what you normally feel. You're going to feel some sort of physical sensation, whereas if you're working on something that is in line with what you what you want to do and who you are and what's important to you, sure you might get a little stressed about it, but there's a sense of excitement in it. There's a sense of calmness where it just it just feels right. That's a more advanced step if you're not already in tune with you.
Vicky Cook: I think initially, just ask yourself, "Do I want to do this?" And a key that I like to tell people is any time the word "should" comes into your thought system, that's where you need to examine it because if you're doing anything that you should do you're meeting other people's expectations.
Naomi Nakamura: Wow. I never thought about it that way, but you're right about the word "should." That is a great way to do some self-examination, and I think it's also important that when you ask yourself, "Do I want to do this?" it's okay if you say "no."
Vicky Cook: Perfectly OK.
Naomi Nakamura: And if someone has a problem with it, it's their problem.
Vicky Cook: Exactly. And I think it doesn't always have to be a cut and dry answer. I think if there's something that is pulling you back from being productive because you don't want to do it maybe there's another creative way that you can go about doing it.
Naomi Nakamura: Yes. You know I'm using this example with a lot of my clients. We all know exercise is good for us but yet for whatever reason, and it's different for everyone. For some people exercise is a burden and just the thought of it makes them not want to do it. Yet their health is a priority, and their goal is to feel more energized. They want to lose some pounds so exercise can get there. I think if you reframe your thoughts towards exercise and make it more about play than about this hard thing that you HAVE to do. Then it's not something that you have to do, or that you have to schedule on your calendar, it's something that you want to do.
Vicky Cook: And even if you take it to something bigger, like work, most of us don't want to get up in the morning and go to work every day. We have to do it. We should do it to be productive citizens in the world. But if we reframe that and look at it from a different perspective, like what are the benefits that you're getting from going to work beyond just making money to pay for your lifestyle and your bills and everything? You learn a lot while you're there, you learn how to do different things, you learn how to interact with different people.
Naomi Nakamura: Exactly. I started going to health coaching school over two years ago. I could see how there's a lot of opportunities to use the skills that I was learning from health coaching in my 9-5 job. I'm not in a coaching role there, but there's a lot of skills that I can take from either of my jobs and apply them to each other it which makes both so much more enjoyable. I can honestly say that in the past 2-3 years I have enjoyed my 9-5 job more than I have at any other time in my over 20-year career.
Vicky Cook: That's awesome. And it didn't come from changing anything at your job, it really came from changing your mindset and just reframing it. So that's awesome.
Naomi Nakamura: I thought it was and I thought, "Gosh I wish everybody could do this!" And they can.
Vicky Cook: Exactly yes. We love to blame all of our problems on why I don't have enough time to do this. I don't have enough time to do that. And you say it's really not our calendars fault.
Naomi Nakamura: So what is the first step that you would recommend people do?
Vicky Cook: If you're in that position where you are overwhelmed with too much to do and your calendar is full of stuff, and you're feeling really frustrated with not having enough time to do everything, I think the first step is to take a closer look at how you're spending your time. And then ask yourself, "Is this something that I have to do?" "Is it something that I can delegate?" "Is this something that I can outsource?" "Is this something that I can get somebody else in my family to do?" Or, "Is it something I completely let go completely?" There are a lot of options but that's where you can streamline everything that's on your plate and get rid of a lot of things that you don't have to do. That could help free up time to do some of the things that you want to do and enjoy.
Vicky Cook: And I think to take that a step further, once you start to do that, it's really important to factor and fun time. It doesn't have to be all day long or every single night. But it's very, very important to have that mental break for both your mind and your body to just make sure that you have time in your schedule to just take a break and do something fun.
Naomi Nakamura: Well thank you so much for being here. I thought you wrote such a great blog post and I just really wanted to extend it to my audience because I think there are so many different ways that we can apply it to the different aspects of our lives whether it be in our family, in our work, or in our personal time. But all your posts are that great.
Vicky Cook: Thank you.
Naomi Nakamura: So where can people go and connect with and find out more about you?
Vicky Cook: They can come to my website. From there, there are links to my Instagram, where I'm pretty active; Facebook and Twitter. I'm not as active on Twitter, but you know you can find me there. It's all on my website.
Naomi Nakamura: Thank you so much for taking the time. I've enjoyed it, and you're going to have to have you come back later to do a follow-up on self-care.
Vicky Cook: Absolutely I would love it.
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Naomi Nakamura is a certified Holistic Health Coach who takes a holistic approach through functional nutrition. Through her weekly show, The Live FAB Live Podcast, coaching programs, and safer skincare solutions, she helps people with acne and other chronic skin issues clear up their skin by teaching them where food meets physiology and how food, gut health, stress, and toxins are intricately connected to the health and appearance of our skin. Naomi resides in the San Francisco Bay Area and can often be found romping around the city with her puppy girl, Coco Pop! Connect with Naomi at: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest.