Author Archive for Caroline Cameron – Page 6

Rat Race Feeders – the sneaky truths that keep you stuck

Is what you’re telling yourself really true?

Rat Race Feeders - the sneaky truths that keep us stuck

I’ve yet to walk into an office where everyone isn’t really busy! Busyiness has become one of many well-worn ‘truths’ – a cultural norm that weighs us down and holds us back. We rarely think about or question the commonly used phrases that keep our stress levels in the red zone. But beware – these Rat Race Feeders are unconsciously undermining your potential and outlook on life.

Simple comments take off like wildfire and before you know it they are accepted as stress-inducing facts. Here are a few of my favourite Rat Race Feeders, which are guaranteed to keep you running faster and harder on life’s treadmill, no matter what.

  • Everything’s a priority (a management favourite!)
  • I haven’t got the bandwidth
  • It’s out of my/our control
  • I’m/we’re so busy/flat out
  • My inbox is a ‘sea of red’ (unread emails)
  • I’ve got back-to-back meetings all day
  • We have to do more with less/work harder
  • It’s too early/too late to …
  • I’m/he’s/she’s really stressed
  • My client/customer/manager is always shifting the goal posts/expecting more
  • What work/life balance?

The problem with Rat Race Feeders is the way they often inflict unwarranted limits but few benefits. Before you know it, you too are ‘flat out’, ‘really stressed’ and feeling like you’ve little control over what’s going on around you. What you tell yourself is absolutely true for you in that moment.

Question the ‘truth’

Who says, ‘everything’s a priority’ and what’s that based on? If you had to decide what was most important right now, what would it be? Stepping back to question the reality behind a throw-away statement, will help you realise how baseless it really is and discover new options to take control of any situation.

Greg was putting in long hours at work and struggling to keep his head above water. No matter how hard he worked, new tasks continued to pour into his in-box. He just didn’t have the ‘bandwidth’ to get it all done. He was seeing precious little of his wife and children and when did, was often tired and abrupt.

It seemed like he was buying into the stresses of a high pressured work environment and felt powerless to change it. Besides, Greg didn’t like to say ‘no’ and never wanted to be seen as letting the team down.

You decide the truth

The ‘truth’ came to Greg when he realised he has far more control over his workload than he believed. Setting up his calendar to schedule his work; consciously deciding which meetings he really had to attend and turning automatic email off gave him fast relief and instant control.

Then he set up a meeting to play back the well-worn, stress-inducing phrases his team used often to raise awareness of how they were driving them to work harder but not necessarily smarter. They were surprised and amused, not realising how often they disempowered themselves and each other with throw away lines. Their favourite was “we’re under the pump and really stretched.” (Seriously, what ‘pump’ were they under and what’s actually ‘stretched’?!). The following week they set up a ‘rat race feeder radar’ team challenge to call out and question the validity of their common office cliches.

Within 2 months everyone in Greg’s team reported less stress, higher productivity and more fulfilment from their work. Rather than being ‘too busy’, they now agree the priorities every week and focus on the tasks that will make the biggest difference in the time available. Best of all, Greg’s achieving a lot more and enjoys his family time without worrying about work.

Over the next week, listen out for the unquestioned ‘truths’ used by your colleagues, friends and family. The words may differ slightly but their meaning will be the same. Once you start noticing them, you’ll be amused at how many pop up each day.

What are your favourite Rat Race Feeders?

Which limiting generalisations or hackneyed phrases are lurking around your office or home? Share them below – I’d love to hear your favourites!

Carpe diem

 © Caroline Cameron 2011: extract from The Great Life Redesign – change how you work, live how you dream and make it happen … TODAY


It’s that time of year again – have you got the Burnout Blues?

Have you got the Burnout Blues?What is it about this time of year that pushes 'busyness' over the top? Artificial deadlines appear for things that must be finished by the end of the year. Then there's the Christmas preparation overhead.  No wonder we feel like we're running on empty.

If you’re feeling stressed and time poor, rest assured you’re not alone.  Latest figures from the Race Against Time Report, show that balancing work and family remains a big issue for Australian men and women, with around 40% of women and 30% of men feeling often or always rushed or pressed for time.

The report shows how the sharing of household tasks, longer working longer hours (including more early starts, late finishes and weekends at the office) and more time spent commuting  are all impacting the quality of our lives.  It also seems that the more we earn, the less free time we have, with those in the upper quartile having between 1.5 and 2 hours less per day to play than those in the lower quartile.

Seems like ‘busyness’ is a way of life but it’s not necessarily good for us.  Left unchecked, this state of being can lead to a nasty dose of the Burnout Blues.

What are the Burnout Blues?

The Burnout Blues (BBs) are a side effect of relentless 21st-century living. They feed on society’s expectations, an unhealthy lifestyle of too much work, lack of direction, time and purpose, loneliness, and disempowering beliefs.

Put simply, the BBs create an abiding and ever-increasing sense of despair, discontent, disenchantment, and disconnect. Rarely attributable to one definable cause, they start slowly and gradually pervade every part of a sufferer’s life.

A chronic, insidious condition, the BBs have become a way of being for many people. They feel powerless to control or change anything, yet often invest a lot of energy, time and emotion ineffectively trying to control and change everything. Nothing they do alters the outcome and prolonged sufferers inadvertently become sitting duck victims.

The BBs are a common response to the pressures of juggling work and life, though not a clinically diagnosable mental condition.  However, failure to recognise and address them can lead to prolonged anxiety, exhaustion, physical illness and depression.  So… how are you feeling?  Let’s see if you’re suffering from the Burnout Blues.

Top 5 Burnout Blues Symptoms

While there are over 20 common symptoms of the Burnout Blues, here are five that may be familiar.  If you had to rate how often you’ve experienced these over the last year    (0 = never ? 5 = all the time), what score would you give yourself for these:

Symptoms                                  Beliefs                                               Typical feelings

1. Stress……………..…….  too much to do, too little time  …………………… pressured

2. Demotivated…………..  whatever………………………………………………….. bored

3. Frustration……………..  my best is never good enough………………………. irritated

4. Controlling……..    if it’s going to be right, I have to do it myself…………….. inflexible

5. Guilt………………….   I can’t say no or let people down……………….. compromised

If you scored 3 or above for any of these, don’t despair.  We all inhale the exhaust fumes of life yet it is possible to filter out those which contribute to the Burnout Blues.  By identifying the cracks in your life that need attention, you can take out the polyfiller and repair them.

Top 3 Tips for Beating the Burnout Blues

Simple life repairs and renovations now will prevent major problems further down the track.   Here are some actions you can take right now to stop the rot setting in:

1.  Step back and notice how you respond to events

One of the most common reasons we suffer the Burnout Blues is that we ‘buy in’ to the drama and invest precious emotional energy in it.  Notice how you feel when your work phone rings while you’re having dinner with the family at night.  When work pressure increases, the stress levels of those around you quickly rise.  Before you know it, you’re also time poor, stressed out and struggling to maintain perspective.  This often leads to an instinctive reaction, driven by your fight or flight reflex as you go into an auto-pilot survival mode.

Mentally step back, as if you’re a fly on the wall, and simply notice what’s happening, without reacting.  Take a walk outside and give yourself space before consciously deciding how you will respond to the situation.  Ask yourself, how do I need to be to manage this situation effectively?  By consciously choosing how you’ll respond, you create the ability to conserve your energy, maintain perspective and know that ‘this too will pass’.

2.  Instigate a ‘Be Kind to Me’ Strategy

The busier we get, the more we tend to neglect ourselves.  Believing it to be ‘selfish’ to put ourselves first, we mistakenly focus on helping others while our own energy bucket empties out.  Before you know it, you’ve become tired, unfit and struggling to get everything done.

Although it may seem initially counterintuitive, putting yourself first is vital.  When you carve out time each day to do something that refills your energy reserves, you’re much better placed to help others.  What’s more, when your wellbeing is regularly nurtured, you have more capacity, opportunity and perspective.

What’s one thing you can do every day to take care of you?

3.  Keep what’s working well and ‘ditch’ the rest.

Nothing’s all bad and it’s important to recognise the parts of your career and life that are working well.  What parts are OK or even terrific and what have you done to make them this way?  Having identified your success strategy for these parts of your life, how can you apply them to the other areas?

For example – I’m pretty successful at resolving problems at work by taking time to understand them first, involving and listening to others and agreeing on what ‘fixed’ looks like.  This is a strategy you could also use at home to encourage your partner and children to share more of the household tasks.

Whatever’s not working has to go or change.  Identify the main contributors to your Burnout Blues.  Specifically, what’s the main cause of your anxiety, exhaustion and discontent?  If it’s your job – what’s within your control that you can change?  If the work is no longer fulfilling, interesting and enjoyable, maybe it’s time for a career change.

Consciously reducing tasks that add little value is immediately liberating.  Seriously, if you don’t check your emails every 5 minutes, will it really matter in a hundred years?  Close email and check your messages 3 times a day instead and notice how much more you get done.

The pressures of 21st century living are not going away anytime soon.  However, there’s far more within your control than you may think and living with the Burnout Blues doesn’t need to be inevitable.

So what’s one small thing you can change that will make the biggest difference today?

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron

This blog is an extract from THE GREAT LIFE REDESIGN – change how you work, live how you dream and make it happen TODAY .  Available online and in all good bookstores.

A Simple Solution to the Work/Life Balance Puzzle

It seems like the harder we try to solve it, the busier, more
stressed and exhausted we become.

A Simple Solution to the Work Life Balance PuzzleYou only have to Google ‘Work Life Balance’ (over 32 million results) to know it’s something we all aspire to yet struggle with.

Reality Check:  Work/Life Balance is actually an unattainable myth and the quest to achieve it is futile!

Think about it.  The idea of a ‘balanced’ life is actually flawed. Taken literally, balance suggests equal amounts of everything you’d love to cram into each day and it’s simply not possible.  If we spend 8 hours sleeping, this leaves 16 hours for everything else.  Do you really want or need to devote equal time to your work, health, family, leisure, daily incidentals and other priorities?

The other flaw in the work/life balance proposition is the inherent assumption that work is ‘bad’ and the rest of life is ‘good’ and we should therefore strive for less work and more of the rest of life.  Once you uncouple work from life, it all starts to unravel.  If you didn’t work, how would you support the rest of your life? Besides, many people actually enjoy their work which provides challenge, social connection, variety, routine,
certainty and financial stability.

Lifestyle pressures pull the pieces apart.  These are often self-imposed and it’s relatively simple (not to be mistaken with ‘easy’), to change them when you know how.  Like a jigsaw, all the parts of your life interlock and you are the common denominator.  So now you’ve been freed from the struggle, let's see how to piece together the puzzle and create a seamless picture of your life.

An Integrated Life – a realistic and attainable alternative

Rather than striving to achieve balance by enforcing strict boundaries between work and life, it’s much easier to integrate your life and treat it as a whole. Once you’ve mastered the art and skill, all the parts work harmoniously to support rather than compete with each other.

How to live an Integrated Life:

  • Decide what's important (our priorities often get lost amidst the 'busyness' of everyday life) and let go of that which isn’t.
  • Consciously devote time to what's important – scheduling self-appointments in your diary to get things done; learning to say 'no' without guilt, planning and responding rather than reacting.
  • Change your expectations – many of us are notoriously hard on ourselves believing we can and should 'do it all'. Be kind to yourself and take the pressure off.  You can have and do it all once you’ve decided what ‘all’ is, how much you really want it and what’s possible.

Living an integrated life is vital for your physical and mental wellbeing and once achieved, creates a positive impact on the lives of those you care about.  This includes
being a great role model for your children, friends and colleagues.

If creating an integrated life seems hard, these 3 steps will make it easier:

  1. Check in on what you're telling yourself.  For example, if you believe you have to  work a 50+ hour week, how do you know that? What evidence is there and who said so? We often fail to challenge work place norms and in doing so hold fast to limiting beliefs such as, I have to be at work before the boss arrives and stay till after he/she has left.  How do you know that?  Have you actually asked him or her directly?
  2. Turn statements and beliefs into better questions.  Instead of I have to work long hours to be successful, ask yourself If I could be successful by swapping the long hours for working smarter, how would I do that?
  3. Learn how to influence others constructively.  Creating an integrated life requires compromise and effective negotiation techniques are a powerful skill to master. Positive conversations with your boss (eg about working shorter hours or working from home), partner and children (to help out more around the house) are simple when you know how.

All puzzles are easy to solve once you have the solution.  Remember, you don’t have a ‘work’ and a ‘life’ – you only have one life. Don’t you owe it to yourself and those you care about to integrate the parts to make it work well for you?

Find out more about how to create an integrated life in my book, The Great Life Redesign – change how you work, live how you dream and make it happen today.  It will be available from all good bookstores and online in January.

Carpe Diem

Caroline Cameron




Unexpected Life Lessons from an Unconventional Teacher

So much wisdom from one small vegetable!

Unexpected Life Lessons from an Unconventional TeacherOK, so I’m not the world’s most gifted green thumb but when I planted my winter veggies back in April, I did expect to be harvesting a few fresh cauliflowers by the end of June. The label even said they’d be ready within eight weeks.

By the end of July I had promising looking leaves but no cauliflowers.  In late August the leaves were even bigger but nothing more.  By September I’d forgotten all about them and given up.  It looked like a self-fulfilling prophecy – I’m hopeless at growing veggies and this proved it!

The vegetable patch was soon taken over by enthusiastic weeds as I resigned myself to failure and other priorities took over.  The cold wet winter gave way to warm spring sunshine and towards the end of October, I decided to give up on the winter crop.
Besides it was time to plant fresh lettuce, baby cucumber and sweet tomatoes and transfer my hope to the lovely tastes of summer.

Approaching the veggie patch to clear it all out and start again I suddenly stopped.  There, to my amazement, was a perfect cauliflower, peering up at me amidst the weeds!  A few days later, two more beautiful cauliflowers appeared.  Nearly seven months after they were planted, they'd finally decided the time was right.

Here’s what I’ve learnt from such a seemingly mundane event:

  1. Don’t give up too soon – success could be just around the corner
  2. Surprises happen when you least expect them and are all the sweeter for waiting
  3. Expectation often generates disappointment
  4. Many things happen in their own good time if you simply ‘leave them be’
  5. Patience is a seriously underrated virtue

These are all timely reminders for anyone experiencing change.  Whether you're redesigning your life – changing jobs, relationships, where or how you live or going through change in your workplace, pearls of wisdom will make the transition easier.

Who knew I could learn so much from a cauliflower?  Now that my conscious awareness is switched on, I’m looking for learning and timely reminders everywhere.

What unexpected life lessons have you learnt from an unconventional ‘teacher’?

Carpe diem




Is your personal brand shooting you in the foot?

How you're perceived can make or break your success

Is your personal brand shooting you in the foot?Whether you’re a senior executive, working mum, public servant, small business owner or large corporation, your personal brand matters.

As Qantas grapples with the daunting task of rebuilding its credibility, it’s a great time to do a reality check on your brand.

When you think of successful, reputable companies such as Google, Apple, Disney, BMW and Lego (Top 5 place holders in the Global RepTrak 2011 consumer study into the reputations of the world's most prominent companies), what comes to mind? Each does what it claims to do consistently, predictably and exceptionally well.

Likewise, Oprah has created a strong brand that is so trustworthy, relatable and credible that when she endorses a book or individual, success is almost guaranteed.

Why your personal brand is so important

What you do and the way that you do it tells clients, employers, colleagues, friends and family everything they need to know about you.  Getting your brand wrong is the quickest way to kill your reputation, credibility, career and relationships. Your brand is what makes people to decide whether they want to work, socialize and spend time with you, or not…

Having a clear and consistent brand:

  • improves your ability to influence and make a positive difference
  • makes it easier and quicker to get things done
  • leads to greater fulfillment and wellbeing as you achieve what’s important to you in a way that feels right.

Define your personal brand

The 3 vital and interconnected keys to your brand are Image, Integrity, and Trust.
The following questions will help you define your brand and identify what you need to change to make it even stronger.


Image is all about aligning your intention with how people perceive you.  It
includes how you look, what you say and how you behave.  Ask yourself:

  • How do I want to be perceived? I want to be perceived as someone who …
  • How am I actually perceived and how do I know this?
  • How do those who are successful in this field project themselves?
  • What do I need to project for people to have confidence in me?


Closely linked to honesty, Integrity encapsulates your personal values and how well you ‘walk your talk’.  Those whose actions consistently align with their values and beliefs make a point of always doing what they say they’ll do.  They are highly regarded and always in demand.  Ask yourself:

  • What does integrity mean to me?
  • What do I stand for and what am I 100% committed to?
  • How do I demonstrate integrity in everything I do?
  • Where do I struggle to do what I’ve committed to do every time, without fail?


Your credibility (how believable you are) is based on the degree to which people trust you.  To trust you people first need to know and then like you.  Not to be confused with
being the ‘same’, we all like people ‘like’ us. This includes the degree to which you demonstrate respect for others.  Ask yourself:

  • What do I share and how do I share it to enable others to get to know me?
  • How do others predict what I am going to say and do?
  • What can I best be relied upon for?
  • How do others know, with absolute certainty, that they can trust me?

If you had to summarise your answers to these questions in a short, pithy, compelling sentence to articulate your personal brand, what would it be?  Weave this into your resume, LinkedIn and other profiles to help others get to know you better.

Your answers to these questions will help you communicate who you are, your strengths, abilities and priorities.  Consciously strengthen your brand based on the responses you get and notice what happens. Opportunities more closely linked to your passions and who you are will increase.  It will also become easier to  synchronise your work and life with your values and beliefs.

If you need help to develop and strengthen your brand to achieve your personal and professional goals, contact Possibility to Reality today.  It’s much easier than you think!

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron



The 3 Biggest Interview Mistakes that Kill Your Chances

how to avoid them and get that dream job

The 3 Biggest Interview Mistakes that Kill Your ChancesYour resume has done its job and you’ve got an interview!  Pumped and ready you shake hands with the interviewer, smile confidently and get down to the business of
answering their questions.

But gradually it all starts to go horribly wrong.  As the interview progresses, you sense you’re starting to lose them and by the time you walk out, you just know you’ve stuffed it up.

In spite of being well prepared and confident, something went wrong in the process. While smart people follow up to get feedback as to why they were unsuccessful, they often don’t receive a complete and honest answer to learn from.

Having interviewed many candidates for different jobs and been interviewed countless times myself; here are three common interview mistakes that are guaranteed to lose you the job.

Mistake # 1: Failing to listen to the question and watch for signals.

Nerves play a key part in this.  Eager to display your key strengths and wonderful experience, you launch headlong into a lengthy demonstration of your knowledge and achievements.  Although admirable, it may be a long bow to tie what you know to the question.  When you’re busy talking, it’s too easy to miss the body language signs that the interviewer is bored with your answer.

Tip:  The best way to blitz an exam is to read the question carefully and consider your answer before putting pen to paper.  Likewise in an interview, listen to the question and watch for non-verbal cues.  If necessary ask the interviewer to clarify what they mean.  This also buys you precious time to compose your answer before you open your mouth.  Once you truly understand what the interviewer is looking for you are better able to make your knowledge, strengths and skills relevant and give a high impact, concise answer.

Mistake #2:  Insufficient understanding of the role and the company

Many candidates invest hours, $s and effort preparing their CV and practicing for interviews, yet neglect to thoroughly research both the role they are applying for or the company it’s with.  What’s written in the advertisement or position description is often not what the role is really about.

Tip:  Take time to ring the recruiter, HR manager or the person the role will be reporting
to.  Discover what’s not been written in the ad or PD before the interview.  This gives you time to prepare your answers thoroughly and ensure your responses are relevant.  Demonstrating a deep understanding of what the company does; where it’s at and where it’s heading is an easy way to differentiate yourself from the other candidates.
Weaving this knowledge into your answers shows you’ve invested time and effort in increasing your understanding before the interview.

Mistake #3:  Not asking your own insightful questions

As an interview draws to a close, the adrenalin drops, the nerves start to calm and you can’t wait to get out of there!  The interviewer asks if you have any questions. In a relieved tone you say, “No, I don’t think so, thanks for your time,” stand up to shake hands and leave.

STOP!  You’ve just wasted the perfect opportunity to nail the interview!

Tip:  Asking a few well-targeted questions leaves a great impression and further demonstrates your strong desire to understand more about the role and ability to do it well.  Great questions include:

1.  What are the three most important traits you are looking for and why are they  mportant?

The answer provides an opening for you to match your strengths and further highlight your achievements.

2. What do you believe will be the biggest challenges the [name the role title] will face in the first three months?

This answer opens up the opportunity to demonstrate where you’ve overcome a similar challenge in the past.

3.  When the person who is appointed to the role has exceeded all your expectations, what will be different and how will you know they have succeeded?

This helps the interviewer articulate the priorities which are often buried or not stated in
the position description.

Note:  This isn’t the appropriate time to ask about the pay and package, hours or working conditions.  These questions can come later if and when you are successful in moving to the next round or offer.

Remember, an interview is a two-way process and you want to find out what you need to know to decide if the role is right for you.  Acute listening, considered questions, concise answers and a thorough understanding of the role and company are often the
difference that makes the difference to winning your dream job.

Good luck with your next interview!

Caroline Cameron




Beat the Back-to-Work Blues

Dreading the thought of going back to work?

Beat the Back to Work BluesYou know you’ve got them when that gnawing dread that started on Sunday afternoon moves to the pit of your stomach.  As you head off to work on Monday morning there’s a sinking feeling that just won’t shift and when you think back, this isn’t the first time you’ve felt like this.

With an endless stream of back to back meetings, relentless emails to deal with and looming deadlines, the thought of going back to work on Monday is often the low light of the week. To make matters worse, researchers have found that Monday morning is the most common time of the week to suffer a heart attack and the link with workdread seems more than a coincidence.

Yet the start of the work week doesn’t need to be dreaded.  Imagine how it would be if you looked forward to Monday morning as much as you do Friday evening? Even if you don’t love your job, it is possible to convert that sinking feeling by shifting the way you think about work.

Here are some simple ways to get you started:

Identify what’s within your control and forget the rest

Many people feel frustrated about things they actually can’t or don’t know how to influence.  This includes the behaviours of others, the direction their company is taking or the tedious trip to work.  Investing energy in these is wasted.  The only person you
have full control over is you – including the way you think and act.

Decide what you want control over and take constructive steps.

You actually do have more control than you realise over many of the stressors that are driving your Monday morning dread.  This includes your workload which can be successfully negotiated with your manager and others (when you know how). Taking time on Monday morning to set clear goals for the week ahead will keep you focused on what’s important and help you achieve more of what matters. This can be as simple as blocking out a sacred hour on Monday morning in your calendar for planning.

If your job really has ‘done its day’ and there’s nothing more to do or achieve, take steps to plan and implement your next career move.  This could be as simple as identifying what you love to do and how you can best use your strengths and then researching all the options.

Notice what you’re telling yourself – it’s absolutely true!

Nothing has meaning except the one you put on it and this can be easily changed. If you believe your job is stressful, boring or frustrating, you’re right, it is.  Yet by shifting your ‘truth’ to a more empowering belief, you’ll instantly change the way you feel about it.  I used to believe that my 2 hour daily commute on the clogged freeway was a complete waste of time.  Regularly stressed about being late to work or collecting my daughter from day care, I resented that freeway like nothing else!

Yet I soon realised there was nothing I could do about how slowly the traffic moved and as the alternative routes were equally slow, the only thing I could change was my attitude.  Allowing an extra 10 minutes each day was a practical first step – if I
got to where I was going early, that was a bonus.

I also saw my twice daily commute as ‘my time’ – time between work and home where I could sit in my own little bubble, listen to my music rather than the Wiggles and reflect on the day that was.  The positive effect of changing my thinking was instant and dramatic.  I planned the day ahead on the drive into work; no longer took work problems home (they were solved on the drive home) and had regular, daily time to just ‘be’.

There are many other ways to shift that back-to-work-Monday sinking feeling.  What’s your best tip for bowling into work eager and ready to enjoy the week ahead?

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron



Too much to do, too little time – are you busier than ever?

Something’s puzzling me and I can’t quite work it out.

Too much to do, too little timeToday, we have more time-saving, convenience creating, effort reducing resources than ever before and yet we seem to be busier, more stressed and time poor.

I just don’t get it.  There’s now an app for everything and you can DIY or outsource pretty much anything so in theory, life should be getting easier, right?  Wrong!

As as an executive coach visiting clients in various city offices, I notice an insidious, entrenched and common theme.  My clients are smart people working for  corporate, government and non-profit organizations, all with very different purposes and yet one way or another, they all lament their lack of time.  Here are some of the expressions I hear often – maybe you relate to them:

  • I don’t have the bandwidth
  • I’m in back to back meetings all week so won’t have time…
  • My inbox is killing me
  • We’re really stretched at the moment
  • There isn't time (the common cry of a pressured project team juggling multiple priorities as they stare down the barrel at a ‘go live’ for their system in 3 weeks)

The ‘inbox’ one was interesting.  One guy had over 2,000 unread emails in his inbox and his way of surviving the email tsunami was to ignore them until the sender spoke to him directly.  “I figure that if it’s important enough, they’ll come around and talk to me or pick up the phone.”  Hmmm, sounds good in theory but I wonder how that works if the email is from the CEO.

Yet, he’s also onto something here – he's Filtering.  By prioritizing his emails based on a set of criteria (in his case the personal contact effort made by the sender), he’s filtering in what he believes is important and ignoring the rest.

With millions of bytes of information coming at us every second, we’d soon drown in overload if we didn’t filter it.  Our natural reaction is to distort, delete or generalise as a mechanism to keep control of our lives.  Yet, if that was an effective technique, why are we all still so busy?

If this is how it is for you, it's time to spring clean your filters.

Like every other useful resource we can call on, our information filters need routine maintenance.  Over time they become clogged with the exhaust fumes of life.  Rather than consciously and regularly sifting out the obsolete and unnecessary crud whilst keeping the important, they become blocked.

Understand what’s driving your ‘busy’.

Our actions are driven by an underlying cause that often isn’t connected to the activity or its outcome.  This can include ‘a need to be needed’, a determination to be seen to be 'on top of it all' ( superwoman/man syndrome – a common one for perfectionists and high achievers), or procrastination because we’re not sure what to do or how to do it.  This can lead to aimless ‘fluffing’ and before you know it, you’ve blown hours or days and achieved little more than frustration.

Recognising the real cause of your lack of time helps you take steps to reclaim it.  Think about it – if we valued time as much as we value money, wouldn’t we have more rather than less?  Imagine how different it would be if you had plenty of time in the bank and were time rich rather than time poor.

Decide what's important

The best way to get the ‘busy’ under control is to check in on what’s most important and ensure you’re focus is largely on your main priorities.  Do you really need to attend that meeting that you know will go round in circles or is it just that you don’t want to
miss out on being 'in the know'?

Know what matters most

Check that your priorities will make a real difference.  One of the best ways to identify this is to ask, “Of all the things I’ve got on my plate, which will make the most difference a hundred years from now?” Chances are not many, but it’s a sobering thought.  If it doesn't really matter – don't do it!  Choosing not to do something is surprisingly liberating.

Identify the best return on your time investment.

If there were no limits, what would you choose to be doing right now?  Yes, you do have a choice as to how you spend your time, far more often than you realize.  Which task is going to pay back far more than the time you'll invest in it?  This is a great way of stripping out the time wasters from your day.

Clogged filters are making us busy.  That’s my theory but I’m sure it’s not the whole story. With so much more at our fingertips to ‘save time’, why do you think we’re still soooo busy?

Carpe diem

Caroline Cameron



Welcome to The Great Life Redesign Project Blog

Thanks for dropping by.  There's no doubt that 'times are tough'.  The economy is struggling, consumer confidence is dropping, everyone is 'time poor' – in fact it seems like many of us are struggling to overcome the pressures of 21st century living.

Yet, there are also those who are achieving great things, in spite of the doom and gloom. So, let's talk about everything that makes your 21st century life suck or great!  Whether it's lamenting your lack of time or celebrating an amazing achievement, I want to hear about it.

Where Ordinary People achieve Extraordinary Things

I love to hear and share inspiring Life Redesign Success stories of people who have broken free from the 21st century treadmill.  If you've kissed the rat race good-bye, beaten the Burnout Blues and are doing what you love, in a place you love, with those you love – I'd love to hear from you.

Who do you know who has achieved something extraordinary?

We all know someone we admire who has stepped outside their comfort zone to achieve something extraordinary.  If you believe their story is inspirationa. please share it in the Comments below.  Who was it (name is optional) what's their relationship to you (eg brother, friend etc) what did they achieve, why and how they did it and what it was that made it so extraordinary.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

mid-life career change, pursuing a cause, achieving success against the odds, moving to a foreign country, getting out of debt once and for all, quitting a destructive habit, breaking a record, turning your life around, recovering from a major illness or a defining moment that changed your life forever …

Extraordinary is however you define it to be.

I look forward to hearing your story :-).

Carpe diem.

Caroline Cameron