A New Way to Set Goals
A New Way to Set Goals

This morning I’m in New York City. I plan to visit Kitchen Arts and Letters bookstore (actually cookbook and food book store!) and visit the 911 Memorial. This afternoon I’ll head over to Book Expo America and tomorrow I sign galley copies of my two new cookbooks.

Set Goals From Abundance

I’m sure you have all set goals.

One way I learned to set goals was to write goals that were SMART – specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-sensitive.

This method of goal setting focuses on lack. I’m here. My goal is there. We are separated until I reach my goal. For me this may lead to striving and putting my goal on a pedestal. That creates distance from the goal and it seems out of reach at least to me.

My business coach taught me to write goals in a new way.

Write them as if you already have them.

And, here’s the key – mix in goals you already have achieved.

For example:

I want a happy, loving marriage. I have a happy, loving marriage.
I want three healthy children. I have three healthy children.
I want to be a homeowner. I have a lovely, cozy home.
I want to save money for retirement. I have saved money for retirement.
I want clients I adore and that I can serve. I have clients I adore and that I can serve.
I want a healthy relationship with my mother and mother-in-law. I have a healthy relationship with my mother and mother-in-law.
I want to be an involved part of a large, extended family that I have fun with. I am an involved part of a large, extended family that I have fun with.
I want friends I love to spend time with. I have friends I love to spend time with.
I want to have freedom of time and good health. I have freedom of time and good health.
I want to write cookbooks. I have written four cookbooks.
I want to be a member of Les Dames Escoffier. I have an invitation to Les Dames!
I want a positive attitude based on my deliberate thoughts. I have a positive attitude based on my deliberate thoughts.
I want a business built around cookbooks. I have a business built around cookbooks.
I want to create value and a variety of offerings for my clients. I create value and offer services to my clients in a variety of ways.
I want to create a cookbook writers mastermind group. I have a cookbook writers mastermind group.
I want to have high-end private coaching clients. I have high-end coaching clients.
I want to leverage my expertise with book-writing software. I leverage my expertise with book-writing software.
I want the freedom to travel with my family. I have the freedom to travel with my family.
I want to believe that I can do anything if I show up to offer value and serve. I believe that I can do anything if I show up …

5 Tips for Energy Management
5 Tips for Energy Management

The older I get the more I realize how important my energy level is.

I’m not talking about 5-Hour Energy drinks or extreme coffee consumption, I’m talking about natural feel-good energy.

Because when I have energy, I’m more positive, appreciative, and focused. A better version of me. My business benefits. My family benefits. My clients benefit. And most importantly, when I feel good I offer value all around.

Here are a few of my “secrets”  to energy management:

1. Adequate sleep. With teens out driving around, I set a curfew for them, and adjust my sleep. No excuses or stories. This was key even when they were little and waking me up at night.

2. Intentional hydration with water

3. Limited sugar, white flour, alcohol, and caffeine. (And Peeps, chocolate bunnies, and Opera Cream eggs.🐣)

4. Lot’s of fresh veggies, whole-grains, and high-quality protein from fish, legumes, lean beef, chicken, and tofu.

5. Some sort of body movement every day: walk the dog, head to the gym, take the steps, dance in the kitchen (the kids love this), vacuum the house.

Some think this doesn’t sound like “fun”. But I’ll tell you what’s fun.

Feeling energetic and patient.

Feeling physically good in my body – no aches or pains.

Having the energy to wake up earlier than the rest of the house to think and focus.

Getting in the zone while my kids are in school and then focus on the family after 3:00 pm.

That’s my prescription for energy.

And here’s the best part – it works for kids too! And you should see what happens then.


Cookbook author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green, RDN, LD coaches first-time cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. 

Would you like to write a cookbook, but feel alone in the pre-publication phase of writing?

Are you stuck thinking about your cookbook idea or has you project fizzled?

Do you feel overwhelmed with publishing options and the recipes, photography, and publishing process?

I’ve been there. I know first-hand that there’s not a lot of support for first-time cookbook authors who don’t have an agent or a publisher yet.  That’s why I started my work as a cookbook writing coach.

Here are a few resources for you as you venture into the world of cookbook writing: 

Checklist
An 11-point checklist that helps you answer the question, “Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook?”

Cookbook Writing Workbook

What Is A Cookbook Coach? 

10 Reasons to Hire A Cookbook Coach

Focus List and Ignore List
Focus List and Ignore List

In 2009, Peter Bregman wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review called Two Lists You Should Look at Every Morning. Even though he wrote the article 7 years ago, the content rings true.

In Bregman’s article, he encourages readers to create two lists: Your Focus List and Your Ignore List. Through a series of questions, Bregman helps you define “your road ahead”: what makes you happy, what you’re trying to achieve, and what’s important to you, as well as to define “your distractions”: what you’re not willing to do, what’s not important, and what gets in the way of focusing on where you want to go. Bregman suggests that you write down your two lists and then take time to read them before you start your day.

I’m a big believer in early morning routines that allow time to read, write, and reflect. For me this usually happens before anyone else in my house steps out of bed. It’s a sacrifice to get up early, but I know that my morning routine has been an integral part of my focus and determination as a nutrition writer, cookbook author, cookbook editor, and parent. The coffee pot that brews coffee at a time I specify doesn’t hurt either.

This week I encourage you to write down your Focus and Ignore lists. See if your actions lead you down the right path and shape your day with intentional action. See if the lists help you avoid distractions that take you away from the work you need to do. And, before you know it, your intentional actions will help your goals and dreams come to life.

Read the original article here.

And more about Peter Bregman here.

Author, editor, and Culinary Dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

Time Management Tips
Time Management Tips

In working with my cookbook coaching clients, mastermind groups, and on my own projects, I realize the importance of planning my time to get the most out of my week. I’ve always had a pretty consistent pattern for activities do on a weekly basis, but use care when planning tasks for work, book writing, free time, and family activities. Planning ahead of time keeps projects moving along in my business and sets up the time to enjoy activities with family and friends.

I once heard the analogy that a calendar with a well-planned week is like a river. It has strong banks, a certain direction, and flows quickly with energy and focus. A week that isn’t well planned is like a lake – big, open, and lazy – beautiful to look at, but lacking direction and focus. Lakes are nice for weeks of vacation but in order to schedule time for everything I enjoy I prefer to use my calendar like a river. Each week the flow takes me where I want to go, and not where is wants to take me.

1. Make decisions and move forward

The best thing we can all do to become more in charge of our time is to decide ahead of time. Plan for tomorrow and the next day, today. Decide ahead of time when you are going to work, eat, answer email, shower, exercise, read. Decide what projects you are going to focus on. Decide what you are going to say no to. Decide, decide, decide. So much of our time is wasted in indecision. Your ability to be successful is directly related to making decisions (and sticking with the decisions you make.) Read more in the book Decide: The Ultimate Success Trigger by Jim Palmer.

2. Schedule actions that produce results

When you plan actions to take and put on your calendar, focus on items that produce results. For example, when working on my cookbooks, I focus on specific tasks to schedule. Instead of saying, research salad dressing recipes, or think about salad dressing, I write specific action-oriented tasks such as write a recipe ingredient outline and list for 5 salad dressing recipes. This is specific, action-oriented, and get things accomplished

3. Plan your calendar with discipline and precision

I plan my calendar for the next week on Fridays. At the end of the workweek, I put in my appointments, client calls, and daily tasks for marketing, bookkeeping, ingredient shopping, phone calls, and follow-up on the calendar to complete at a specific time. Then I schedule in any tasks related to my 90-day goals. When Monday morning rolls around, I’ve decided ahead of time how to use my time and I follow the plan. I can accomplish a lot this way and it’s very freeing, not restrictive.

4. Plan your perfect day

One reason calendars fail us is that we don’t schedule the time to do things we enjoy. Want to go out with your mate on a Thursday night each …

20 Ways to Enhance Your Focus and Fight Procrastination Part 2
20 Ways to Enhance Your Focus and Fight Procrastination Part 2

Procrastination and lack of focus is a common challenge for writers. Procrastination is sometimes based in fear, while lack of focus can be as simple as paying more attention to the bright shiny objects that bring immediate gratification to our day than we pay to our writing and the other things we need to accomplish. Like most of you, I manage my own schedule. When I’m in the middle of meeting a deadline, focus and productivity become all the more real for me. I know that if I don’t focus, my work won’t get done, and there’s a chance my deadline won’t be met.  In the last post, I covered Part 1 of my tips to focus and enhance productivity. Today, I wrap up with Part 2 that includes tips 11 through 20.

11. Work with a coach or an accountability partner. It’s hard for me to go it alone at times and be accountable to only myself. That’s why I have been known to reach out to someone and ask them to help me stay on task with my deadlines. You too can do the same. When I work with a coach, and exchange money for her expertise and guidance, my productivity soars. An accountability partner doesn’t have to cost money, though. A trusted friend with whom you share your deadline can accomplish the same end, IF they will hold you accountable to your word and to when you say you will complete a project.

12. Join a writing group. Belonging to a group of writers who meet on a regular basis can also help you stay accountable to your project schedule. It doesn’t have to be an in-person group, but it does need to be one that meets consistently. I recently joined a newly formed group. We are four food writers and we meet once a month on Google Hangouts with a video call.  It’s fun to connect, hear about each other’s projects, and give updates on our own progress with recent writing projects. In between calls, we exchange emails if we have questions or feel the need to check in. If you want to form a writing group, now’s the time. Seek out like-minded writers who lift you up and have like-minded goals. Avoid negative or pessimistic, you-can’t-do-that-type-of people. What you need are people who encourage you and support you as you complete your writing projects.

13. Restrict your social media. Go on a social media diet if this is a source of distraction for you. I know for myself, Twitter and other social media sites are beneficial, but it can also be a “rut activity” for me. (Read about “rut activities” in Part 1 of  this post). I also turn off notifications on my iPhone and inbox because these notifications distract me when I’m writing. They make me want to jump over to Twitter or my email. I lose my train of thought. Trust me, nothing will happen if you don’t respond right away.…

20 Ways to Enhance Your Focus and Fight Procrastination Part 1
20 Ways to Enhance Your Focus and Fight Procrastination Part 1

I worked on this blog post for longer than I expected to work on it, but I don’t think it’s because I’m procrastinating (meaning that I don’t think I have a fear of results or block against writing). Instead, my time has had other demands placed upon it last month for family travel, book promotions, writing another cookbook, and other client projects. These are worthy reasons not to be super-productive and I’m not telling you anything new unless you live in a vacuum and don’t have demands made on your time. But, I hate to say – that’s not the point here. The point is that even with all of these activities and demands on my time, they didn’t fill my entire calendar. What about when I sat with my iPhone and scrolled through Instagram? What about when I drifted off track and checked how many people were visiting my blog?  What about when I rewrote my to do list and then rewrote it again the next day. I’ll discuss this more in detail, but what I’ve learned is that many of these actions are called  “rut activities”. Scrolling on the iPhone is usually a signal that I could be doing something else a whole lot more productive and that better uses my time.

If you’re not able to focus, or feel less productive than you might like, I encourage you to study this list below (and the list on my next blog post that will go up next week). It’s my list of tips that help me focus and raise my productivity at times when I lack focus and times when I’m procrastinating (fear-based avoidance of a project). I hope some of these tips help you improve your focus and your productivity as well.

1. Acknowledge that you are procrastinating or wasting time. More often than not I know when I am procrastinating or wasting time – I feel unsettled. It’s as if a cloud follows me around. The cloud is the “presence” of my unfinished projects, blog posts, or cookbook research. I find myself busy much of the time, but when I’m busy with the wrong tasks, I know I could be avoiding what  I need to be doing.

2. Identify “rut activities” that you turn to when you procrastinate. For example, I tend to scroll through Facebook on my PC, or Twitter on my iPhone, or leave my office to run errands when I’m avoiding something. This is a trigger moment. This is when I know I’m either wasting time or avoiding the next step in a project.

3. Keep track of the time you spend on your ” rut activities”. Each time you turn to your rut activity, write down how much time you spend or put a hash mark on a piece of paper. Track your time for the day and for a week. It’s easy to burn up the clock with activities that seem worthwhile, but in the end these keep you from …

Manage Your Energy to Manage Your Time
Manage Your Energy to Manage Your Time

Productivity always remains top of mind for me. Due to weekly commitments, and a desire for flexibility to spend time with family, the time I devote to work each day is finite. In order to maximize productivity during this time I created a series of daily, weekly, and monthly routines to help stay on track with repetitive tasks related to self-care, business management, and home management. These routines free up my mind and focus because I know that repetitive tasks such as bookkeeping, laundry, grocery shopping, and cleaning all get done at their their scheduled time. For example, I complete business book keeping each Tuesday. I send invoices, pay bills, and look at my income and expense statement every Tuesday. This habit to do financial work at a scheduled time frees my mind of concerns about bills, payments, and invoices on the other days of the week when I’m working on other projects and tasks.

Another one of my routines is my morning routine. It lasts about 3 hours every weekday morning from 5-8 am.  During this time I read, get cleaned up for the day, eat breakfast with my teens, clean up the kitchen, make my bed, and listen to either a podcast or an Audible book while I’m washing my face and doing other parts of my “beauty routine”. Recently I finished listening to the Audible book 6 Months to 6 Figures by Peter Voogd. This book was recommended by Hal Elrod in his podcast The Miracle Morning and book by the same name.

In his book, Voogd discusses productivity and time management as one of the keys to a successful quest to earn more income. In his discussion, he makes a clear point that time is finite. It comes, and it goes. This is something we have all heard before.  We all have the same amount of time in a day, week, or month, and there isn’t any way through time management to create or add more time to our days. To maximize our productivity, though, and take full advantage of the time we have what we can manage is our energy. With a higher level of energy and alertness, we are better prepared to focus and take advantage of the time we have.

This concept while not new did resonate with me. I’ve always known I could control my energy level. But, for some strange reason the way that Voogd explained energy control in relationship to productivity opened my eyes in three ways.

1. Energy management is my responsibility. No one can manage my energy for me. It’s all within my control. Just like managing a chronic disease, energy management is up to me.

2. Energy management is directly connected to my habits. In all cases the habits I have created for sleep, food, drink, spirituality, finances, thoughts, social media, email, exercise, grooming, home care, family time, and friendships are my decision. I have control over these habits. I can choose if I have control …

The 12 Week Year
The 12 Week Year

This is the time of year when a lot of us like to set goals, make resolutions, and get back on track with exercise, food, relationships, and other personal, work, and life goals. One particular book that I recently read gave me a new perspective on productivity, time management, and goal setting.  The 12 Week Year by Brian Moran and Michael Lennington resets the idea of spending 12 months on a goal, but instead challenges us to focus on one goal for a 12 week period of time.

With their system each week becomes one month. Then, every 12 weeks you get to reset and start on a new goal. The secret to success with their system is not over committing to too many goals in a 12 week period as well as scheduling time each week to do the work to accomplish your goal. They also encourage building in buffer time, strategic time, and breakout time to allow for creativity, everyday tasks, and research.

From September – November I tried their system after listening to the book on Audible. My cookbook manuscript was finished and I wanted to make progress on another project that had been on my mind. I committed to the goal worked in a constructive and focused way as I watched the goal come to life in just 12 weeks. I could have spent 12 months on the same goal, but with focused and consistent action, I did in 12 weeks what could have taken longer.

For January – March 2016 I plan to pick another goal and work in much the same way. Through implementing their system it’s possible we could all accomplish 4 major goals in the next 48 weeks. This also even builds in time for vacations (which I love) and gives us the opportunity to see progress rather than just dreams about goals to accomplish during 2016.  Here is a link to the 12 Week Year website and the book can also be purchased at online or brick-and-mortar retailers, as well as on Audible if you like to listen to audio books.

No matter whether you set goals for the new year, or not, I wish you joy and peace as we begin 2016.

Author, editor, and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors during the pre-publication phase of writing a cookbook. If you want to write a cookbook, and wonder if you’re ready, download her 11-point checklist Am I Ready to Write a Cookbook? 

Dealing with Overwhelm
Dealing with Overwhelm

I think we all feel overwhelmed at times. I know I do, and I have been know to let it show when dealing with my kids and my spouse.  I know my private cookbook coaching clients feel overwhelmed too. They tell me about it and their overwhelm sometimes makes them want to stop the dream of writing their own cookbook. That’s the scary part of overwhelm. We don’t function at our best when we feel that way and if we’re not careful we let it the feeling drown us in inaction or worse we let it make us want to quit.

Overwhelm is a feeling, a strong one at times, but a feeling nonetheless. The good news is that feelings are fleeting and they aren’t right or wrong. They just are. I try to remember that I can change the way I feel through concrete actions in another direction. stress

When I feel overwhelmed I ask myself where the pressure is coming from. It’s usually one of these areas:

  • Looming deadlines for projects
  • Saying yes to too much
  • Goals I have set for myself that aren’t realistic
  • Habits that interfere with my work and life
  • My expectations of myself (like I can do it all – today!)
  • Expectations of others (spouse, kids, family, co-workers, volunteer commitments)
  • Lack of self-care, sleep, exercise, quiet-time

Once I’ve identified my source of pressure I take concrete actions to make an adjustment if needed. Sometimes I need to improve my productivity focus and time management. Sometimes I need to work in more focused blocks of time on very small, but prioritized tasks. Maybe this is a wake-up call to take better care of myself with sleep, exercise, prayer, and a tightened up morning routine. Maybe I need to focus on what’s important right now and set realistic expectations of what I’m able to accomplish with the time I have.

Overwhelm is not just limited to you and me. Dawn Falcone, The Chaos Liberator, writes about overwhelm, and so does Elise Moreau with 5 Simple Things You Can Do to Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed.

When you feel overwhelmed remember that you’re not alone and also remember you can do something about it.

Cookbook author and culinary dietitian Maggie Green coaches aspiring cookbook authors in the process of writing cookbooks, cookbook proposals, and building their author platform. Download her checklist “Am I Ready to Write A Cookbook?”. 

5 Techniques to Create a Daily Habit of Writing
5 Techniques to Create a Daily Habit of Writing

Twice a day I brush my teeth. Once a day I cook a meal. Every night I sleep for seven hours. Every morning I eat breakfast, empty the dishwasher, and dress for the day. These are a few examples of habits ingrained in my daily routine. I can’t imagine a day without doing them and most of the time I do them without even thinking about it.

As a writer and author, I also have made an effort to create a daily habit of writing, whether I need to write a recipe, cookbook chapter, blog post, or newsletter. I know firsthand how difficult it can feel to write when we don’t feel inspired, but regular writing habits drive projects to completion.

When I struggle to take time to write I remind myself that whether I write or not, time will pass. So, I have a choice – do I want to let the minutes of my day pass away without progress on my writing projects? The answer is typically no. No, I don’t want the day to pass without progress. In order to make progress on my writing projects, I have five techniques I employ to create my daily habit of writing.

1. Schedule time to write
When I look up from my computer three months from now I want to have made progress on my new cookbook, regular blog posts, paid writing work, and my weekly eZines. In order to do so I schedule at least 30 minutes every day to write. I haven’t figured out any other way to make progress and I’ve learned that in order to be a successful and published author I have to do this every day. And here’s the real secret – most writers feel better about themselves, and their work, when schedule time to write whether they feel like it or not.

2. Pick your most creative time
When I have a writing deadline, I work every morning on my project. The morning is my most creative and prolific time of day. I like to sit either at my desktop computer or use my iPad (with a keyboard) at the kitchen table. I like my environment to be quiet. I like to light a candle and open a door or window if the weather permits. I block out distractions from email, text messages, and the strange attraction of Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and other social media. I’ve realized these sites for me are a window to procrastination.

3. Write an imperfect first draft
Every writing project has a beginning and for me the beginning is rarely organized or publishable. In creating this “imperfect first draft” I set aside any hopes of creating something someone might want to read and I just focus on getting my thoughts out on the page. I’ll outline if I need to, but then I have to start filling in the blanks. This calls for perseverance knowing this draft will go through rounds of revising, rewriting, and editing. …

Productivity App - Drafts
Productivity App - Drafts

Apps that I use on a regular basis are typically related to my habits. For example, I use an app to check the news headlines and another app to monitor the weather. I use an app to take notes and as I mentioned in this post I use Workflowy to outline my to-do list.  

Another one of my favorite apps, Drafts, is useful to me because I can capture and share text in a variety of ways.

When you open the Drafts app it’s a blank screen – ready for you to type. When all you want to do is Tweet, or post to Facebook, Drafts allows you to do so without getting bogged down in a timeline. When you want to send an email you can use Drafts to write and send the email without opening the email app and tapping through several screens to do so. If you need to add something to your reminder list, post a note to Evernote, write a draft and save to Dropbox, schedule an event for your calendar, or set up a reminder, all of this can happen with and through the Drafts app.

It’s quick, easy, and helps capture and act on a text document without the distractions that opening a social media, texting, or email app can bring. It’s a way to write and either save or act on text with “blinders” on. It helps me stay focused and more productive when using my iPhone or iPad. And the app is able to sync with other devices making anything you save in Drafts view-able from another device.

 …

Productivity App - Pocket
Productivity App - Pocket

Formerly called Read It Later, Pocket, is my favorite app for saving articles I want to read. One of my biggest downfalls is my love for my iPhone and iPad. I check Twitter or Facebook and before I know it I’ve gone down the rabbit hole and am reading an article someone posted a link to. This is not a productive or organized use of my time.

Now I use an app called Pocket. Here’s how it works:

  • Identify an article that sounds like an interesting one to read.
  • Open the article and instead of reading it I copy the link (URL) with the “copy” option in Safari.
  • Open Pocket app and it magically knows I just copied a URL. Pocket asks me if I want to save this URL. I say “yes” and then Pocket saves the URL and the article to the app.
  • Every week, I set aside some time to browse my saved articles in Pocket.
  • I  read the articles I want to and I archive them if I want to save them. At the same time I tag articles with one or more of the tags I’ve set up to organize the articles by topic. Current tags include: agents, blogging, books to read, communication, cookbooks, food trend, happiness, leadership, manners, nutrition, parenting, etc. You get the picture.

Pocket is one of my favorite apps because I’m more productive. I’m not reading full articles every time I open Twitter or Facebook. I’m also more organized since I can search for articles with my tags and Pocket displays the articles I’ve saved. All saved articles are at my fingertips because I can access Pocket from my iPad, iPhone, and PC.…

Productivity App - Workflowy ("Organize Your Brain")
Productivity App - Workflowy ("Organize Your Brain")

Doesn’t everyone maintain a to-do list? I know I do and my to-do list has several purposes: keep up with writing projects, track current client projects, and maintain lists of to-dos for home repairs, family birthdays, and children’s activities. I used to manually keep track of these lists, but ever since I started using Workflowy I now track the list in a modern, cross-platform way.

Workflowy is now my go-to app for outlining and organizing tasks, projects, and even proposal cookbook ideas. Available as an app for iPhone, iPad, and with a Mac/PC interface, Workflowy lists can be updated from any device/computer and then synced to allow access and/or updates on other devices.

Workflowy’s outlining features are simple to use. With information organized into headings and sub-headings, tasks are easy to identify and mark as complete. The outlining feature also allows me to take notes for project and then collapse the data so that only the headline shows in the list.

The best part is that I no longer manually rewrite my to-do list. I use this app to create my weekly to-do list and then and then transfer only a few daily actions to my calendar. This keeps me moving forward with all aspects of my work, home, and family. At the end of the week I check off completions and make any additions as needed. An added bonus is that Workflowy sends email that documents what I added and completed from the list. It feels good to receive that email and look at what I have accomplished.

For organizing and maintaining lists and notes I highly recommend this app – Workflowy. Let me know what you think.

 …