Why Do I Always Do My Tax Return Last Minute?

Well, last weekend saw me racing to get my tax returns sorted.  OK, so although it wasn’t completely eleventh hour, as I don’t like leaving things to the last minute I was feeling the pressure of it.  Every year I promise myself that I’ll be more organised, and every year I complete them in January.

I have no excuse, I’m an organised person.  I’m just an organised person with a tendency to procrastinate.  So this year I’m going to take these 3 simple steps to my accounting with a goal of having my tax return done by the end June.  Having the finalised accounts will help me with my business planning for the following year.

  • Schedule 30 minutes every week, this is to go through my diary and record my weekly miles and expenditure, number the receipts and record my earnings.
  • Place a diary entry end April to chase the additional information required.  I.e. getting tax certificates on my savings accounts, etc.  Check that I can log onto the system.  Check stock etc
  • Diarise a half day in June to pull together all missing information and enter onto system

The advantage of doing this is that all the information is fresher in my mind.  You can use this 3 step diary approach to any tasks that you keep putting off.

If you find yourself procrastinating over important tasks, get in touch with Carolyn today on 07714 216388 to take advantage of your free consultation.

P1080106copyright Carolyn Trafford (2014)

How Do I Make Time For Me?

How many times have you said that?  “I don’t have time to” or  “If only I had more time….”

Modern lifestyles, juggling jobs, businesses, family, friends, is there any time left for me?

The easy answer is “No”.  If we settle for “No” then we’re seriously selling ourselves short and under estimating our abilities to prioritise, juggle, organise….. whatever it takes to find some me time.

It is January and we’ve probably taken on some new goals and resolutions too.  Where do we find that extra time from to run, go the gym, spend more time with our partners, something has to give if we are to be successful.

Try these 3 steps, to making some time:

  1. Make a list, make it big,  Write down everything you need to do regularly or as a one off.  This is the biggest to do list you’ve ever made.  Don’t miss anything.
  2. Now divide it into 3.  Be ruthless in your decisions.  Separate your tasks into  “What really doesn’t matter”, “What could be given to someone else”, “What has to be done by you”
  3. Make it a priority to talk to others that can help you, whether this is your boss, colleagues, partner, children, parents or friends, ask for help.  Ditch the stuff that doesn’t matter.  But make a task of doing it.  By that I mean don’t ignore them, make a conscious decision to remove them from your mind and your physical to do list.  Remind yourself they don’t matter. In fact exterminate them!            What’s left needs to be scheduled, your online calendar, or a diary – either will do – its the physical act of getting the information out of your mind and onto paper that creates the space and time you need to think and get on with the tasks you need to do.

Perhaps you need a bit more help creating a perfect work/life balance for you.  Carolyn regularly coaches business owners and employees alike on achieving a low stress, healthy lifestyle to create more time for what YOU want to do.  Call Carolyn now on 07714 216388 to see how she can help you achieve the life YOU want.

 

Exterminate your to do list!

P1060741copyright Reflectionscoaching

 

 

How Can I Challenge Myself In 2014?

2013 saw so many challenges, it was a year that saw my business gain more direction and focus and at the same time diversify, adapt and change.  There was a 3 day expedition for charity in the Lake District in May and a second fundraiser performing stand up comedy for Gingerbread.

I’m now looking ahead to 2014, and thinking that my few humble goals are nothing special.  A few carefully constructed action plans and a bit of dedication and motivation will see me through.  What they are lacking is the real challenge, the excitement of 2013.

How do I make my goals exciting?  How do I really challenge myself in 2014?

I’ve thought about this long and hard and concluded that most of the excitement in a goal comes from the challenge.  My goals seem flat and uninteresting because they are task based i.e.

  • I will take on x new team members this year.
  • I will do y task by z date.

These are just stepping stones to enable something bigger.  So I’m going to shake them up a little.  I’m talking more about missions than goals.  My mission should be all encompassing, challenging and exciting.  It should put my business on a new level and the tasks based goals will become obvious.

The mission will take my business to a new level.  And will look more like this:

I will be known as………..

Of course this question still needs to be answered.  It affects my goals, my branding, my business planning and I need to take time out to do this.

What will you be known for in 2014?

If you can’t answer that question, taking some time out for you to think about it can be a useful process and a coach can help facilitate your thinking and provide challenge.  If you want to know more about how a coaching session could help you or your business then CALL CAROLYN TODAY on 07714 216388

P1070982content and photo copyright Carolyn Trafford (2014)

 

 

Its Christmas………

DSC_8845_HDR-Edit

I sign out for two weeks over the Christmas and New Year Period as I believe its important for us all to take some time out and ensure that our work/life balance is restored.  After all, all those Christmas preparations can be stressful.

I’ll be back, bright and breezy and thinking about goals in the new year, but for now………

Comfort Zone Leap Part VI – The Final Countdown

The anticipated big day arrived. All the emotions I have ever felt in my life before came to the fore. I slept surprisingly well the night before however nerves really kicked in on Thursday afternoon. No matter how much I rehearsed complete with a makeshift hairbrush microphone, nothing flowed, bits got forgotten or confused and in front of my mirror it just didn’t seem funny at all.

Time out was in order and I grabbed Ziggy the dog and took myself out for a walk. I’m a big believer that fresh air and exercise is as good for the mind as it is body. Thankfully no one saw me walking around talking to myself as my act slowly came together.

By the time I arrived at the venue my nerves subsided as I immersed myself in practicalities.

I stood tall,  delivered, paced myself and the audience laughed and applauded. I walked off stage a whole foot taller than I walked on it.

So the learning from this is simple:

When something is standing in your way. Check first that it’s not you. Comedy was so far out of my comfort zone that I very nearly didn’t do it. The nerves I felt that afternoon were all “what ifs” that were all unfounded. Had I have listened to those thoughts that were telling me I couldn’t do it then I wouldn’t have made that stretch to my comfort zone that has ultimately led to a huge shift in my confidence.

2013-12-07_1733copyright Brett Trafford Photography

Comfort Zone Leap Part V – How To Deal With Nerves

Do you suffer with bouts of nerves?  Does your stomach turn over at the thought of standing up and talking to people? My heart pounds too!

Last week saw the last rehearsal for the comedy night.  I delivered what I felt to be a pretty good performance, well timed, confident and people laughed.  I forgot one joke that’s all. A couple of adjustments based on feedback but I’m now at the stage where there is nothing more I can really do.

The only thing is – every time I think about Thursday, my stomach turns over and my heart starts pounding.  So how do you make sure that these symptoms don’t get in the way of your delivery.

Accept them for what they are – our bodies are designed to react to danger, we have a flight or fight response, so acknowledge that feeling sick and racing heart beats etc are all about the adrenalin rush we get and adrenalin we know is good – right?

Don’t let these feeling get in the way.  There is a simple breathing technique I use to calm the nerves and take my mind off what is happening.

Breathe in to the count of 7

Breathe out for the count of 11.

This works in two ways.  Firstly concentrating on your breathing in this way focuses your mind on something other than what lies ahead of you.  Secondly the longer out breath expells some of the stale air and carbon-dioxide sitting in your lungs, your body will naturally need to take in a fuller breath of clean air and lots of oxygen, critical in aiding your brain to work effectively.

Try it – it really works.

If you’re facing an uncomfortable or stressful situation, coaching provides a supportive environment in which to prepare.  Call Carolyn today on 07714 216388 to see how Reflections Coaching can help you be super-confident.
P1070814copyright Carolyn Trafford

Level 1 – Unconsciously Unskilled

(You Don’t Know that You Don’t Know)

At this level you are blissfully ignorant: You have a complete lack
of knowledge and skills in the subject in question. On top of this,
you are unaware of this lack of skill, and your confidence may
therefore far exceed your abilities.

Level 2 – Consciously Unskilled

(You Know that You Don’t Know)

At this level you find that there are skills you need to learn, and
you may be shocked to discover that there are others who are much
more competent than you. As you realize that your ability is limited,
your confidence drops. You go through an uncomfortable period as you
learn these new skills when others are much more competent and
successful than you are.

Level 3 – Consciously Skilled

(You Know that You Know)

At this level you acquire the new skills and knowledge. You put your
learning into practice and you gain confidence in carrying out the
tasks or jobs involved. You are aware of your new skills and work on
refining them.

You are still concentrating on the performance of these activities,
but as you get ever-more practice and experience, these become
increasingly automatic.

Level 4 – Unconsciously Skilled

(You Don’t Know that You Know – It Just Seems Easy!)

At this level your new skills become habits, and you perform the task
without conscious effort and with automatic ease. This is the peak of
your confidence and ability.

– See more at: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_96.htm#sthash.SrfZRNRe.dpuf

Level 1 – Unconsciously Unskilled

(You Don’t Know that You Don’t Know)

At this level you are blissfully ignorant: You have a complete lack
of knowledge and skills in the subject in question. On top of this,
you are unaware of this lack of skill, and your confidence may
therefore far exceed your abilities.

Level 2 – Consciously Unskilled

(You Know that You Don’t Know)

At this level you find that there are skills you need to learn, and
you may be shocked to discover that there are others who are much
more competent than you. As you realize that your ability is limited,
your confidence drops. You go through an uncomfortable period as you
learn these new skills when others are much more competent and
successful than you are.

Level 3 – Consciously Skilled

(You Know that You Know)

At this level you acquire the new skills and knowledge. You put your
learning into practice and you gain confidence in carrying out the
tasks or jobs involved. You are aware of your new skills and work on
refining them.

You are still concentrating on the performance of these activities,
but as you get ever-more practice and experience, these become
increasingly automatic.

Level 4 – Unconsciously Skilled

(You Don’t Know that You Know – It Just Seems Easy!)

At this level your new skills become habits, and you perform the task
without conscious effort and with automatic ease. This is the peak of
your confidence and ability.

– See more at: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_96.htm#sthash.SrfZRNRe.dpufWant to know more about my comfort zone stretch in learning to do stand up comedy for Gingerbread – catch up on the last few blog posts below:

Comfort Zone Leap Part III – Gaining Context When It Doesn’t Go Your Way

Well, I’m about half way through the comedy challenge now and like most things that start well, there’s a point you reach when things are losing momentum or not going as well.  And that’s where I’m at.  Fortunately I’ve still got 2 weeks to get out there and iron out these niggling problems.

There were 2 things this week.  The first was at rehearsals.  Having made good progress last week, I hadn’t needed to tweak my routine that much.  Many of the others had, so really my material was old hat to them.  As a result the laughter wasn’t as rich.

Secondly the day after rehearsals I visited the local comedy club here in Leek and the sudden realisation of how good they were and how amateur I am hit me.  I also experienced how hard the 2 middle acts had to work for their laughs. These are the new comedians on the scene who are still forming their material.

For me this a great metaphor for life.

How many times do we compare ourselves less favorably to others and have unrealistic expectations of ourselves.    So here is this weeks learning point:

  • Be realistic – who should you compare yourself to?  In my case it would be better to compare myself to my peers who are learning comedy with me, and we’re all doing OK, some are better at delivery, others have better material but we’re all improving each week.

P1070607

If you apply too much pressure to be something you’re not or to achieve other’s standards, you could set yourself up for failure.  As a coach this is common with my clients, so if you’re giving yourself an unbelievably hard time and need some help taking the pressure off yourself, give me a call on 07714 216388 to see how learning some personal development techniques could help you.

Comfort Zone Leap Part II – Stepping Up To The Mic

In last week’s post I shared with you my thoughts on the OMG state – a state of mind where your inner voice continually tells you that you’ve made a mistake and its all going to go horribly wrong.

I met up with my fellow comedy challengers again last week.  We’d all prepared some material – short comedy sketches to test on each other and I felt OK about it.  But when we got to the meeting room – there was a microphone and a speaker.  How can one inanimate object scare me so much.  I panicked at the thought of using it.  I quickly realised that this was my negative self (Frankie) trying to sabotage me.  What a brilliant opportunity to practice and use the mic now rather than face it for the first time at the show.

Turning thoughts around into a positive outcome is a great technique to use when you start to panic over something.

P1070681copyright Carolyn Trafford

I’d also really worried about my material.  Having stood in front of a mirror and read it out, it neither sounded funny nor was delivered in a funny style.  I was really nervious when I stepped up to the Mic.

Yet I was greeted with laughter from my 14 strong audience.  Loud laughter! Imagine what that will sound like with an audience of 300.  And better still the feedback I received was that it was almost there.  So my second learning point today is:

No matter what you say, do or in fact believe, when delivered to someone else it will be interpreted differently, gather feedback and if its positive believe it as readily as you would if it were negative.

Well I’m off to practice for this weeks meeting, I’ve added a few bits, changed a few bits and streamlined some of it, so we’ll see what this week throws at me.

Sometimes we need help, encouragement and motivation to achieve the things we are aiming for.  Call Carolyn today on 07714 216388 if you need help with yours and to book your free 45 minute consultation.

 

 

 

 

Me Time, You Time, Us Time, All The Time

Less than 4 weeks ago, I was enjoying sunshine in Cornwall and now autumn has arrived with vengeance coupled with cold damp mornings.  I’ve suddenly realised that the normal organised me has done some of my Christmas shopping by now. 

I wonder how many people have been thrown by the long summer and are now in a period of being extra busy, Christmas is on its way, self assessments are looming, and what about those year end goals?

I’ve stopped for a moment to think about me time. I’m a firm believer in balancing my work and my life.  There are certain things that are important to me, getting to the gym at least a couple time a week, walking Ziggy the dog, crafting, spending time with friends and not least Brett and I having some quality time together.

I do like to make sure that there is enough time for a bit of everything in the week.  My top tips this week help to achieve that balance:

  • Promise yourself you’ll finish your work on time 1 or 2 days a week and follow it through.  You and your home life are important.
  • Me time.   Schedule in some time in the week for ‘Me’.  Me time could be your gym sessions, a trip to the spa, or just some time to knit, read a book and relax.
  • You Time.  I regularly take out a couple of hours in the week to meet a group of friends in the day time.  Being self employed is perhaps easier to manage, but even if you work for someone else its often possible to manage your hours more flexibly to ensure you’re around for the important people in your life.
  • Us Time.  Schedule some “us time” in the week.  Whether us is your partner, kids, family, friends or dog, its all important and the people around you will love you more for it.  Take the time out to do something special as a reward for working hard.
  • All The Time.  Make this a habit not a one off.  It’ll become easier with practice.

Change Clock

Whether in business or juggling a home life, a few simple time management techniques could be all that’s needed to make a difference.  Give Carolyn a call today on 07714 216388 to book your free consultation to see how I could help you reclaim some more me time.

Why Is Goal Setting Like Getting Married

Those of you that know me personally will also know that I’m not adverse to getting out a camera at the weekend and tagging along with my husband Brett Trafford to photograph a wedding.  We were at a wedding last Friday and it started me thinking about how working with your goals is a bit like getting married, yet it so much easier to divorce our goals than our spouses.

My VVW approach to goal setting is simple and could help prevent you from divorcing your goals.

Vows – Make a commitment to yourself as you would your future spouse.  During the ceremony the couple promised so much to each other and are unlikely to break them.  Ask yourself why you find it so easy to break promises to yourself?

Value – When entering into a marriage we value the thoughts and opinions of our loved one.  Its equally important to value yourself.  Its only when you achieve this that you will place enough emphasis on achieving your goals.  Lets face it – you’re worth it aren’t you?

Witness – Tell others what you’ve set out to achieve.  Tell no-one and it becomes too easy to back out when things get tough.  If you’re going on a diet, tell people, the risk of guilt if caught stuffing that chocolate bar into your mouth might well just stop you sabotaging yourself.

 

I’m currently working towards a goal of losing a stone in weight.  I know from experience that I often set myself a goal and give in.  So I’ve made my vows to 80 witnesses in my facebook Thin From Within facebook group and now potentially another 2000 here on my blog.  All I need to do now, is know that I am worth it.

 

P1060885copyright Carolyn Trafford

 

 

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