How To Write A Kickass To Do List

By Smack Bang Designs

My desk is a total disaster.

It looks like a crew of teenage girls converged for a fluoro party with post-it notes and artliner pens. And scraps of paper. And paperwork I should have dealt with ages ago. There is what appears to be a designated section for empty teacups and a graveyard of scrunched up notes. There are three items that I’m unable to identify and two empty lunch containers that should most definitely go in the bin rather than the dishwasher.

I think my current desk situation is accurately reflective of my life at present. Chaotic, crazy and full. I’m in the midst of fulfilling three roles at Smack Bang, negotiating a rather large deal at Urban Growers and doing the legwork to set up my next business baby.

Busy, yes. Happy, absolutely.

I’m a Type A personality and I thrive on being busy just as much as I thrive on having a colour-coordinated wardrobe and matching skin care products. Being busy is my jam.

Over the years I’ve toyed with becoming a more chilled out, zen-like person. The idea of lunchtime yoga and slow beach walks is awfully romantic. In fact, one of my New Year’s resolutions this year was to slow down and learn how to do less in my two businesses. And in typical Tess style, on January 4th I thought of my next business idea and by January 5th I was knee deep in concept development. Four days Tess, kudos!

Being busy is bonkers, but somehow my brain has not yet flown the coop (this statement is most likely not supported by my boyfriend). I owe it to a great support network and epic team – oh, and by always writing a kick-ass to do list each day.

Without my to-do list I would probably be in hospital getting my limbs sewn back onto my torso from a classic case of trying to run in too many different directions at once. Without my to-do list I would likely be a nervous wreck trying to learn how to teleport so that I can be in two places at once. Without my to-do list I would absolutely be staring blankly at a white wall trying to slow my racing mind down to prevent one thought obliterating the next.

My to-do list is my bestie, and here’s the low down on how we keep sane together.

  1. KEEP IT REAL
    I know how it goes; you wake up, you smash a coffee and sit down at your desk feeling super pumped and ready to take on the world. With a never-ending landscape of time ahead of you, you fill your to-do list with a billion tasks knowing that you’ll easily finish them all by 2pm so that you can clock off and head to the local pond to feed bread to the ducks and ponder the meaning of life. Perrrrfect. Truth? That ain’t happenin’ anytime soon, my friend. Calm the hell down and be reasonable with yourself. If your to do-list isn’t realistic, you’ll end up finishing your day feeling like the kid that missed the Mr Whippy van – majorly bummed out.
     
  2. PRIORITISE THIS
    When you’ve got a long list of things to do in front of you, it can send you straight into paralysis mode. Prioritising your to-do list by order of urgency will show you what you need to concentrate on today and what can wait until tomorrow, allowing you to breathe easier in return. Start the list with at least two items that absolutely must get done today, so you don’t end up vacuuming under the couch instead of finishing a project report due tomorrow.
     
  3. ONE THING AT A TIME
    Easier said than done: pick one thing off your list and do it! Once that’s done, do another thing. Lather, rinse, repeat. If you try to juggle five tasks at the same time, chances are you’ll end up feeling overwhelmed and outnumbered. Write things down as soon as you think of them so nothing slips through the cracks. Then pick one thing first and see it through. Reward yourself with cheese or a Jimmy Fallon YouTube clip. Just one! Okay, three.
     
  4. NIGHT WRITER
    On the occasion that I manage to write my list the night before, I wake up to singing birds and talking deer and coffee brewing and wafts of almond danishes through my door. Legit, writing your list the night before gives you the clarity and rational mind to not assume you can dust off 15 blog posts and teach yourself HTML coding all before noon. Writing your list in the morning can sometimes make you feel like you’re already one step behind, which is sort of depressing when the goal is winning.
     
  5. TORTURE-FREE ZONE
    And on that point, step away from the cliff in your mind telling you that you’re a failure because you didn’t get it all right, all the time. Don’t write an unrealistic list the length of Santa’s just to remind yourself that it’s not possible. Break the habit of martyrdom and set yourself up for more wins. Unrealistic expectations on yourself do nothing but drain energy and make you reach (again) for the Cadbury block. Eat that chocolate because you’re stoked, not miserable!
     
  6. PICK A MEDIUM
    To-do lists come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s all about what works for the individual. Some research suggests writing information by hand helps us remember it better, but if you last picked up a pen in 1998, fear not: there’s a huge range of digital apps that help create personal to-do lists. Have a to do list that travels with you. I find that Google Docs are the bee’s knees.
     
  7. SCHEDULE SCHEDULING
    You know you need to make a list, so now comes the actual crux: you have to write it down. Schedule time to schedule – sounds a bit wacky but you will relax in the knowledge that there is time set aside to write a nice list and take back some small bit of control over your life. Take that, chaos!
     
  8. START FRESH
    Make a new list every day so the same old items don’t clog up the agenda. It’s also a useful way to make sure we actually get something done every 24 hours and don’t just spend time decorating the paper with colourful smelly pens. Don’t use your email inbox as your to-do list. It’s just too tough to prioritise the big to-do’s from the small annoying ones that clutter up your inbox. Start fresh and start strong.
     
  9. FROGS LEGS
    Eat the frog for breakfast, and the rest of your day will follow on nicely behind it. Once you tackle that monster task, you’ll feel in control and on top of the world! And maybe a little bit French. Tres bon! And on that note, effectively prioritising means only having one to-do list. Keep it simple, keep it real and keep hopping until you get into a solid to-do list rhythm. You’ll get there

This post originally appeared on Smack Bang Designs and has been republished here with permission. To check out more of their incredible design work visit their website.

The Power of Building Customer Trust

By Kathy Wilson

Trust is tough to gain, quick to lose. As a business owner every social media post, newsletter or product you put into the world should help your customers learn to trust - and value you. This is essential to your business success and I'm going to show you why.  Let's start with a story to illustrate my point...

As you walk into the Real Fitness Centre, the first thing you notice is a slightly dog-eared black and white photograph. It is a candid snapshot of a smiling 70-something lady with dumbbells in both her hands.

Kim Johnston, who is the gym’s owner and a client of mine, tells me that this is a photograph of her first client Clara; her neighbour who used to suffer from weak knees and immense joint pain.

Clara had tried several fitness centres, and not one of them offered customised workouts that suited her age and fitness level. Because they were already friends, Kim knew that Clara couldn’t afford personalised training so they struck a deal. Kim helped her develop a workout that suited her needs – and Clara would provide Kim with all the Mango-chilli chutney could use.

“It was amazing chutney,” Kim laughs, “and even better, working with Clara gave me the confidence and the motivation of breaking into this niche segment of women’s fitness.”

This single story about Kim, tells me so much about her mission, her values and her motivations. It rings truer than the thousands of likes on her Facebook. Next time I want to recommend a fitness centre to a friend or family, I will think of Kim not only because she’s great at what she does but also because we seem to share the same values.

And that is the lesson for entrepreneurs who want to succeed online.

To work with you, I need to trust you. I need to relate to you. Unlike businesses that were run decades ago, we do not have the privilege of being in the same location or the facility of meeting each other face to face. The unknown face behind the computer and the public profile on social media although informs me of who you are, it doesn't tell me much about you. My reassurance of you comes from what I know about you and who I perceive you to be. Your story is your most powerful tool. Who are you? What do you believe it? Why should I trust you?

Leanne Faulkner, founder of Fortitude at Work, a mental health consultancy shares “ Be brave and tell your story honestly. I think failure has been my greatest success.  If I hadn't really had that breakdown, which my husband calls a breakthrough, I wouldn't be advocating for mental health for small business owners”. She started Fortitude at Work, due to her personal battle with stress in running her first venture, which she had to let go of due to the stress and anxiety of running a business.

The vulnerability in her story makes her relatable and I would feel positive about reaching out to and working with Leanne. Knowing her motivations and her journey will help me to believe that she can truly make a difference to my situation. This is true not just for service based industries but product based as well.

After spending years in the corporate world, Emma, co-founder of Emma and Toms decided to start out on her own venture of fresh juices with the belief “In business, the relationships you develop are really important and treating people fairly and with respect is the way to have good business relationships”.

This is an entrepreneur whose philosophy I buy into and so I would love to buy her products as well. Now, telling your story isn’t always comfortable. But as soon as you enter the online arena a story is being told about you anyway through your posts and videos and updates. An impression is being formed, which can either build or take away from you trust quotient.

So tell me. What story are you telling online?

Kathy Wilson used the power of the internet storytelling to land her dream job as a travel writer. She now builds courses that show others the exact steps she followed to use the power of the online reputation to transform careers.

5 Tips For Spiritual Entrepreneurs Pursuing Their Dreams

By Brit Carmichael

"Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world.” -Harriet Tubman

Today, pursuing your dream is all the rage. It seems as though working for the man isn’t cutting it anymore in the creative world. We have our own ideas of what and how a company should and could be run. With that being said, creatives sometimes have a hard time translating our ideas into form.

After starting my own entrepreneurial biz at the age of 6 collecting aluminum cans for cash, I’ve continued to have the mindset of creating freedom for myself by turning my passion and creativity into profit.

It may have started with collecting cans, but over the last decade, I’ve successfully run 3 creative businesses as a master hairstylist, boudoir photographer, and inspirational blogger/coach.

During the last decade, I’ve discovered 5 key beliefs that have made my success possible. It seems to be a common thread throughout all successful businesses, so I know this isn’t just magical thinking, but a must-have mindset for all entrepreneurs that want to turn their dreams into reality.

5 KEY TIPS FOR PURSUING YOUR DREAMS:

#1 BELIEVE – IT IS POSSIBLE!

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” -Steve Jobs

The beauty of your dreams begins within. Always keep your mindset positive. Believe in yourself and know in your heart that you will achieve it. When you commit to your dreams and believe they are possible for you, the Universe begins to move in your favor. You’ve heard the term “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” This is the Law of Attraction in movement.

When you commit your thoughts and beliefs to that which you want to manifest, you begin attracting the necessary resources, people, and opportunities that will help you along your journey to make your dreams possible. Remember to trust your heart, only do what LIGHTS YOU UP, be patient, say YES to new opportunities, and hold a clear vision of what you’re wanting to create in your mind and heart and believe in it fully.

Believing in yourself is the #1 essential key to making magic happen. When you believe ANYTHING is possible, you can create your wildest dreams.

#2 CLARITY – KNOW YOUR WHY!

“Clarity is the counterbalance of profound thoughts.” -Luc de Clapiers

Why do you wake up and do what you do? Who are YOU? Get super clear on your mission, so you can make intentional moves in the direction of your dreams.

Knowing your why is essential to manifesting your dreams because the Universe responds to clear, direct orders. If you don’t know what you want, the Universe doesn’t know what to bring you. This is your life. You get to decide.

#3 ASK FOR HELP!

“Friends can help each other. A true friend is someone who lets you have total freedom to be yourself – and especially to feel. Or, not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at the moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to – letting a person be what he really is.” -Jim Morrison

It’s totally ok (and even encouraged) to reach out to others for their support & input. Remember to do this with a grain of salt. Make sure you are sharing your dreams & passions with other like-minded and supportive girlbosses!

As humans, we are naturally drawn to wanting to help others. We don’t have all the answers, but if you’re willing to ask, the answer will make it’s way to you. The same goes for Divine help. Without asking, the Divine can’t make moves in your favor. You must ASK and then you shall receive.

#4 DROP THE DRAMA!

“Don’t Make Assumptions. Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness and drama. With just this one agreement, you can completely transform your life.” -Don Miguel Ruiz

Let go of people, beliefs, the past and anything else that is holding you back from blossoming. As you create major good vibes in the world, you will start to shake off what no longer positively serves you. Let it all go.

Remember, you are a make up of the 5 closest people you keep. Make sure they support you and your mission with love and light. Drama drains our energy. If we’re going to create magic and miracles in our life, we must focus our precious energy on what we want to create and NOT what we don’t want. Capiche?

#5 ACT “AS IF”!

“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” -Winston Churchill

Change is always happening whether you like it or not. Why is it that we are so resistant to change? If the caterpillar resisted change, even though it can SEEM scary, then it would never fully reach it’s potential as a butterfly.

Act as IF you were already the PERFECT version of yourself. Tell a new story that represents the change you want to embody. When you introduce yourself or get dressed in the morning, imagine your BEST self and then DO THAT.

Stop waiting to wear the bright red lipstick. Stop waiting to say you’re an expert. Stop waiting for someone else to give you permission. Refer to yourself as if you have already achieved that goal/desire and it will magnetize itself to you because you’re telling the Universe that you are worthy and ready to receive it!

I’m Brit and I’m a trailblazing lightworker with a mission to inspire + empower badass females to live a life you love + shine from the inside. I’m like the truth-telling bestie you’ve always wanted.

I embody a unique method of combining intuitive awareness & compassionate honesty with spiritual truths + techniques to help you break free of fear + discover your deepest desires. I’m on a mission to give females permission to give themselves permission to live their BEST LIFE! Stop waiting - it’s yours to create! Let's connect on FacebookInstagram or Twitter

The Friday Files

The rain continues here in Sydney this week which (gratefully) has meant moving at a slower pace and tackling some unexpected emotional uprising. I've continued to see a theme in the conversations I've been having both online and off - all surrounding the idea of shift, change and hovering 'in the between'. 

For me personally this transformation is coming in many forms, most notably this week in the form of working on our website refresh (a long over due change I can't wait to reveal to you guys) and in the shift of re-entering launch preparation as Digital Bravery prep is well and truly underway. Combine these big projects with some pretty intense work on manifesting and working on my abundance mindset and it's been a powerful (and exhausting) week. I'm looking forward to a little rest and rejuvenation this weekend, starting with a wedding set on a beautiful vineyard tomorrow and (fingers crossed) some beach weather on Sunday, I'm feeling the need for a big does of vitamin sea :)

So if you're also feeling a bit 'in between' at the moment I'd love to hear from you. Comment below or reach out personally to let me know what transitions are happening in your world. Otherwise I'm sending you good vibes to help you trust the process, embrace the change and lean into that beautiful unknown space - what awaits is exactly where you're meant to be.  

To keep you focused and make sure you're taking care of YOU this weekend, here's a little link love with a wellness twist, enjoy.

x Jac

  • I've been clearing out some big time limiting beliefs with the help of this manifesting challenge
  • Obsessing over these healthy mixes (banana bread anyone?!) 
  • This event was such an eye opener, completely feeling the lunar love at the moment
  • 6 signs you're in the process of transformation (I'm all about #4 at the moment)
  • Taking care of you, also means having a sound financial plan at any age
  • Restless? Me too - this project is helping me learn how to mediate and I'm loving it!

My Top Life-hack To Inner Self-Confidence

By Rebecca Papillo

Do you ever have an off-day at work, a day when you want to curl up under your desk and hide, pretend that you’re invisible and hope that no one notices you?

And do those days ever coincide with a day when you have to give an important presentation? Maybe you have to meet with a prospective client? Or a challenging stakeholder? For whatever reason, you need to be ‘on’. You need to be at your most charming and engaging.

I most certainly have days like that. My greatest hope on those days is that I’ll get by unnoticed and just plough silently through my work with as little social disturbance as possible. But when those meetings roll around, I need to reach deep down inside myself and somewhere, somehow find the energy to make it work. I know that I always manage to pull through but often I still come off a bit awkward, my small talk is stilted and I find myself wishing that I could put it off to another day, a day when I’m feeling a bit more confident and outgoing.

Well lucky for me, and now you, I discovered Amy Cuddy – social psychologist, author and university professor. Amy is the poster girl for faking it until you make it – and she has the science to back it up.

The poster girl
In her Ted Talk “Your body language shapes who you are” Amy talks about how she was involved in a serious car accident during her college years and wasn’t expected to ever regain her full mental capacity, let alone finish her degree. The experience left her feeling like her identity had been taken from her, like she was completely powerless. But she didn’t give up and four years later she graduated. From there, she went on to bigger and better things, but she always felt like an imposter, like she didn’t deserve to be there. Then one day she received some pretty straight-talking advice from one of her mentors who told her to buck up and ‘fake it til you make it’, and that’s what she did. Amy became an absolute superstar in her field and eventually realised that she wasn’t faking it anymore - she’d made it.

The science
But here’s where the science comes in, and where things get interesting (and useful – you'll want to write this one down because wisdom is coming…).

As it turns out, one of Amy’s areas of focus is the study of body language and nonverbal cues, including nonverbal expressions of power. What she found in her research was that when you feel powerful, you’re more likely to take up space. Think stretching out in your seat, legs wide, shoulders back. But when you’re feeling powerless, you curl up and try to take up as little space as possible. Sound familiar?

But here's the best - it works in reverse too! By taking up physical space, you can create a feeling of confidence and power! There’s more science behind it but essentially, taking up more space triggers changes to our hormones that actually make us more assertive and confident i.e. you can actually, physiologically, fake it til you make it. Mind blown.

The life changing life-hack
From this, she offers us a powerful tool, a ‘no-tech life hack’, to turn those powerless, under-confident, hide-under-the-desk feels into feelings of power and confidence in just two minutes.

All you have to do is stand in a high-power pose – a power-pose – for two minutes. There’s a whole host of poses you can take but a popular one is the ‘Wonder Woman’ – feet shoulder width apart, hands on hips, shoulders back and chest out. That's it. No tricks. No mantras. Just a two-minute power-pose. We can all manage that, right?

Making it your own
I'm no scientist but I think we can take it a step further. In my own career, I’ve often come across women who have their own unique hacks for rousing their confidence when they need it. One of my mentors talks about a pair of boots – totally kick arse, platform boots – that she wore whenever she had to give a killer presentation or dominate a critical meeting or negotiation at work. Others might have a certain outfit that makes them feel totally indestructible. 

The first time I experienced that shift firsthand was a few years ago. I was having one of those aforementioned ‘off-days’ and would have happily holed-up under my desk until it was time to clock off. I remember looking at myself in the full-length mirror under the harsh fluorescent lights of the ladies room, feeling exhausted, completely depleted, and realising that the pants I was wearing had gone all saggy around the knees and my shirt was a mishmash of too-tight and too-loose all at once and in all the wrong places. I felt deflated and just wanted to run home, jump into my pyjamas and forget the whole day.

Being the conscientious worker I am, I returned to my desk, hoping against hope that I wouldn’t be noticed for the rest of the day. When 5pm finally rolled around, I felt so lethargic that I almost cancelled the yoga class I had planned on taking. But, as I’d dragged my yoga mat into the city, I decided to give it a go – even if I just relaxed in child’s pose for half the class, at least I’d have tried. So I forced myself to pull on my favourite Lululemon tights and suddenly I felt at least 85% better.

I’m not making this up. It was that instant. Taking off that dreary, ill-fitting suit and slipping into my activewear changed my mood, it lifted my confidence, it energised me.

That’s when I knew two things. One, I was never wearing those pants or shirt again and two, starting the very next day, I was going to invest an extra ten minutes in the morning into getting ready for work.

And I did. It’s not that I turn up to work looking like a glamazon (I'm lucky if I get as far as clean hair!!) but I do invest time into putting on an outfit that lifts my confidence and feels like me. And when I need that extra boost, I reach for a pair of statement earrings or throw on a red lip (which only takes about four products, five steps and three missed trains to ‘throw on’).

So I guess what I’m saying is, go watch Amy Cuddy’s Ted Talk (she explains the science much better than me), and don’t despair if you’re feeling like a fraud. Whether you’re having a rubbish day or struggling to settle into a new job, pull on your favourite pair of killer boots, slap on some red lipstick and Wonder Women the hell out of the next two minutes and rest of the day.

How do you deal with those days when you’re lacking confidence but still need to be ‘on’? 

 Rebecca Papillo is a full time corporate who moonlights as a blogger at The Modern Ascent

The Modern Ascent is for and about women working it the modern way. But, as Rebecca knows all too well, sometimes, even for super women like us, the elusive path to having it all can be tough. Through The Modern Ascent, Rebecca creates a place where we can all find a daily dose of inspo from kick-arse women doing brilliant things out in the world. A place where we can connect with others and learn from their experiences. A community that gets us - that understands that we’re all finding our way through this modern day workplace together.

Rebecca is a big advocate for finding and nurturing your passions! Her greatest passion in life is writing, followed closely by connecting with like-minded superstars. She loves meeting new people so head over to the blog to take a look around, follow her on Instagram, 'like' her page on Facebook and drop her a note at bec@themodernascent.com.