How I Get Stuff Done

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Yesterday morning I once again had the honor of being featured on ABC33/40's Talk of AlabamaI was on last month discussing how I managed to exercise every day for 365 days. This time I had the chance to promote my e-course How to Write and Have a Life. (For a limited time, you can view my segment here.)
People constantly ask me "How do you do it all?" because I juggle managing See Jane Write with teaching full time, freelancing part time, blogging, exercising daily, being active in my community and church, and spending time with my husband, family, and friends. And so I developed this e-course to show people exactly how I get stuff done.
TOA tips
Yesterday I offered four time management tips to Talk of Alabama viewers:
Multitasking is ruining your life.  Many people believe that multi-tasking will help them get more done and that’s actually not true. You can get more done and in a shorter period of time if you simply focus on one task at a time. Whether I’m grading papers, writing a blog post or cleaning my apartment, I can do those things in half the time if I focus on doing just one thing. And in my e-course I share a technique that I use to help with focus.
The magic is not in your planner but in the planning.  People always ask me, “What kind of planner do you use?” And I always tell them “The magic is not in your planner but in the planning.” To get more done you must be intentional about how you spend your time. In my e-course I show you have to make to-do lists that will help you set priorities and even plan out each hour of your day when you are especially busy.
Remember that "No" is a complete sentence.  Even though I do a lot, I believe in taking a day off. Each week I set aside a day when I do no work and I just relax or spend time with family and friends. If you’re consistently unable to take that day off, then you’re doing too much. In my e-course I write about the importance of realizing that "No" is a complete sentence. And when trying to determine when to say "No" it’s about vision and values. If something doesn’t move you closer to your vision for your life and doesn’t align with your values, ditch it! In the e-course I walk you through exercises to help you determine your vision and values.
Stop sleeping through your life.  I am a believer in the old saying that the early bird gets the worm. Getting up early is a great way to get more done, especially if you are a parent. If you wake up before your family does, you can have time to yourself to work on that book you always wanted to write or update that blog you’ve abandoned.
But to be honest with you, my #1 secret to getting stuff done isn't something I can teach -- it's simply gumption.
I'm not feeling well right now and didn't get much sleep the night before my segment.  Snow was in the forecast for yesterday (which as you know for Alabama is a HUGE FREAKING deal) and thus there was a chance my segment would be canceled. A part of me wished that it had been because I was so exhausted that morning. But then I stopped being a big baby and stopped feeling sorry for myself. And sometimes this is exactly what we need to do to make the time to pursue our dreams. Sometimes you just have to put on your big girl panties and do the work!
Stop making excuses and just do what needs to be done.
Click here to enroll in How to Write and Have a Life today!

A Rising Tide Lifts All Boats

Monday, February 23, 2015

A rising tide lifts all boats.
On Thursday evening the Birmingham Business Journal celebrated its 2015 class of Top 40 Under 40 with an awards ceremony at Iron City. I was among those honored, chosen for the work I do through See Jane Write. The evening was nothing less than fantastic.  I walked in the door and was greeted by several people I'd never met before who wanted me to know how much they loved my picture -- the one that ran with my article in the Birmingham Business Journal, the one I was once insecure about because I'd opted to wear a trendy Olivia Pope-inspired outfit instead of a traditional black or navy business suit. "Your picture was hands down the best," one fellow honoree said to me. This was a great lesson in daring to be different and daring to be myself.
A rising tide lifts all boats.
A table with my name on it and people stopping and asking to take my picture all made the night feel surreal and unreal. I tried to soak it all in. I tried to figure out what I would write in my blog post about the night ,but I just kept hearing the same thing in my head over and over:
A rising tide lifts all boats.
As each honoree received his or her reward, a video recorded the day of our photo shoot was played for the crowd. I'll be honest -- we were all dreading this moment. Seeing yourself on camera is bad enough. Seeing yourself on a larger-than-life screen while hundreds of other people look on is much, much worse. In the video we were each asked what helped our career take flight. Again, I dared to be different. My answer wasn't about a partnership or promotion. Instead I spoke about getting over my impostor syndrome and self-doubt. I talked about the importance of believing you deserve success and I declared that if I want people to take me seriously as a businesswoman I must do so first.
As the ceremony continued several women made their way over to my table to thank me for what I said in my video, to thank me for saying something they believed all women needed to hear.
Ironically, even though Thursday's ceremony was in part a celebration of me, it was also a reminder that my successes aren't about me. In fact, that's why I call my organization See Jane Write, not See Javacia Write. It's not about me. It's about empowering all Janes and all Writeous Babes; it's about empowering all women writers, bloggers, and entrepreneurs.
A rising tide lifts all boats.
An expanded version of this post appears on the See Jane Write blog

Like a Boss

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Last week the Birmingham Business Journal announced its Top 40 Under 40 class for 2015 and I am proud to say that I am among the young professionals chosen for this honor. What makes me even prouder and even happier is that I recently learned a group of women who have in some way been inspired by the work I do through See Jane Write teamed up to nominate me for this recognition.

This time last year I didn't even consider myself a real entrepreneur and now here I am being featured in the Birmingham Business Journal! This wouldn't have happened without the support of that group of women (or the support of my sweet husband who helps me with every See Jane Write event). But I also believe this wouldn't have happened had I not decided to change my attitude last summer.

Back in July Megan LaRussa Chenoweth's keynote address at the See Jane Write Bloganista Mini-Conference inspired me to start taking myself seriously as a businesswoman. As a result, I revamped the See Jane Write website and weekly newsletter, started working with a business coach, and started signing up for every webinar on business building that I could find.

As I state in my article for the Birmingham Business Journal, "My career as an entrepreneur started to take flight when I overcame my self-doubt. Once I started to take myself seriously as a businesswoman, other people started to as well."

For that article, each honoree was asked to answer a slew of questions and obviously not all of them could be used. If you live in Birmingham I hope you'll pick up a copy of the latest issue of Birmingham Business Journal at a local bookstore like Little Professor Book Center. But I thought it would be fun to share with my blog readers a few of my responses that weren't used in the article.


What keeps you up at night? 

Ideas keep me up at night! I always have so many ideas for lessons I can teach, programs I can offer, events I can host, and things I can write to inspire my students, my clients, See Jane Write members and other women in my sphere of influence.

What's the first website you visit each morning?

What book has influenced you most in your career? 

The book that has influenced me most as an entrepreneur is Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In. It pushed me to overcome my impostor syndrome and to start believing that I am good enough and smart enough to do what I want to do.

What inspires you? 

Women inspire me more than anything on this planet. My mission in life is to empower women and girls to find their voice and share their stories. That drives nearly everything that I do.

What important lesson have you learned that has helped your career? 

I've learned to embrace and be unapologetic about my femininity and to never see it as a liability.

What's the best advice you've received? 

Feel the fear and do it anyway.

Your turn! I'd love to read your answers to these questions, too! Leave them in the comments. 

You Are Loved

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Happy Valentine's Day, Writeous Babes!

I hadn't planned to blog today. In fact, I'm breaking a personal rule by writing this because today is my day off. Today there was to be no writing, no grading papers, no brainstorming for my business; today was to be just about spending time with my husband. But he's still tucked in bed and I woke up with a message on my heart that I just had to share.

This has been quite a week for me. On Monday I celebrated my 34th birthday by meeting my hero Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry Show. The Birmingham Business Journal announced its Top 40 Under 40 class for 2015 and I am honored and proud to say I am among those recognized. On Thursday I announced that I'd be doing a blogging boot camp for 5 participants and the $100 tickets sold out in a day. And last week I was featured on the blogs and Twenties Unscripted (which allows us old folks to be interviewed, too).

2015 didn't start the way I had hoped. January was a pretty mediocre month for me and I felt very discouraged. This month, though, I've been on fire! So this morning I asked myself what was different and it hit me:  This month I have believed that I am loved and that I deserve success. Last month, my relationship with God felt rocky and so I'd convinced myself I did't actually deserve to have my prayers answered or even heard. But, fortunately, I left that attitude in January.

I am loved. I am loved by my God who is blessing me with the desires of my heart.

I am loved. I am loved by my students who surprised me with a Beyonce album cover themed birthday cake.

I am loved. I am loved by my husband who arranged for me to meet Melissa Harris-Perry.

I am loved. I am loved by the women of Birmingham and See Jane Write who nominated me for the Birmingham Business Journal award.

Image via Birmingham Business Journal

On this Valentine's Day I want you to think of and even write down all the ways you are loved. Don't think Valentine's Day is just a day for romantic love and couples. In fact, some of the best Valentine's Day celebrations I've ever had were with my girls!

And on this Valentine's Day I also want you to focus on loving yourself. You see, I was loved by my God, my husband, my students, and my friends in January, too. But the difference between this month and last is that in February I have loved myself. In February I believed I deserved to be loved and deserved to be blessed.

So my Valentine's Day gift for you is this little mantra: "I am loved. I love myself. I deserve the desires of my heart."  Repeat it, believe it, and just watch what happens next!

What is TRX Suspension Training?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Have you ever heard of suspension training?

Yeah, I hadn't either until last week when I had my first TRX workout. 

TRX Suspension Training is a type of workout system that was born in the Navy SEALs and focuses on using bodyweight and gravity to develop strength, balance, flexibility and core stability. 

Last week I did some personal training with my running coach, Coach Ann of Resolute Running. After doing some warm-up exercises and throwing around a kettle bell in ways I didn't think possible, we moved to the TRX Suspension Trainer. 

How harmless the TRX Suspension Trainer appears as it innocently hangs from the ceiling. The kid in you even wants to try it out. You think it will even be fun! 

Then you slip in your feet and suddenly you're convinced that the T in TRX stands for torture. 

Just kidding. (Not really.)

With TRX, which really stands for Total Body Resistance Exercise, you'll do exercises you've probably done before but in a way that will feel fresh and new. We did, for example, squats, lunges, bicep curls, tricep extensions, push-ups, planks and more. I've done all these moves a countless number of times, but never before had they felt so challenging. 

With TRX you can get a full body workout without picking up a single weight. We worked my arms, legs, glutes, and core. I think even my toes got a workout! 

When driving home it took herculean effort to lift my foot from the accelerator to the brake because my quadriceps were so tired. The next day I was limping around my classroom and down the hall of my school. I was grunting and groaning every time I had to pick up something on the floor. My core was so sore that it hurt to laugh, sneeze or even take a deep breath. 

But don't let all that scare you away. It was the good hurt. Seriously. It was as if I could feel my muscles getting stronger and more defined as they recovered throughout the day. And the best thing about TRX workouts is that you have control of how much you challenge yourself. If an exercise seems to be too much all you have to do is adjust the position of your body to decrease the resistance. 

And TRX suspension training is great for runners. 

"TRX Suspension training focuses on total body strength, balance, flexibility, and stability," Coach Ann explained.   "The emphasis on single-leg training and constant core engagement helps prevent injury and is an invaluable tool for runners.  Plus, the side benefit of a trim and toned stomach for swimswuit season doesn’t hurt."

Resolute Running is the only TRX qualified facility in Birmingham. If you're interested in trying out TRX Suspension training at Resolute Running, click here for a class schedule and to register.  

I attended this personal training session free-of-charge for the purposes of reviewing it for my blog. All opinions are my own.

Maybe You Should Meet Your Heroes

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Melissa Harris-Perry

People always say you should never meet your heroes. They say that when you do you will inevitably be disappointed as there's no way your role models will live up to your expectations. They will almost always fall from that pedestal on which you've placed them.

Monday night I met one of my heroes. Melissa Harris-Perry of MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry Show visited Birmingham to give a talk she called "Crashing Into Michael Brown" through which she discussed race-related issues of the past decade while tying them to the legacy of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. The talk, held at the Alys Stephens Center, was in celebration Black History Month and part of the University of Alabama at Birmingham's lecture series.

Harris-Perry didn't simply live up to my expectations; she surpassed them. As we were leaving the event I told my husband, "I didn't think it  possible for me to love her more than I already did, but I do!"

Monday was also my birthday and my sweet, sweet husband pulled some strings to get us access to the VIP reception held before Harris-Perry's talk. I had the chance to have a real conversation with her, not just exchange a handshake and a smile. She actually gave me a hug and we even took a selfie!

Here's why I'm glad I met my hero Melissa Harris-Perry:

My hero reminded me to be kind. Harris-Perry greeted her fans with such gratefulness and grace. She seemed genuinely happy to see each and every one of us. And during her talk, this idea of kindness took on even deeper meaning. Harris-Perry's discussion of civil rights reminded us that there should be no separation between the fight for racial equality, gender equality and gay rights. We need them all, we need them all now, and we all need to be a part of this fight. Being kind isn't about extending a handshake and a smile. It's about making the people around you feel important and known.

My hero reminded me to be humble. Let me be honest: If I were Melissa Harris-Perry it would be hard for me to be humble. I mean, she's absolutely amazing! Not only does she have her own show but she's the author of books like Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America, she's a contributing editor for Essence magazine and she's a professor at Wake Forest. And on top of all that she's a wife and a mom and she's freaking gorgeous! But not once during her talk did Harris-Perry boast about her accomplishments. I think her sense of humility stems from the fact that she has not forgotten from whence she came. Harris-Perry started her talk by saluting the sacrifices of the men, women, and children of the civil rights movement of the 1960s. "I'm not sure what my people are made of," she said in awe recalling the courage of people like Elizabeth Eckford, the brave black girl who in 1957 tried to integrate the all white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas. Race is not real, Harris-Perry reminded us, but we all know that racism certainly is. And the fights against racism are often won over broken black bodies. Never forget.

My hero reminded me to be myself. I had no plans of blogging about Monday's event. I didn't take a single note during Harris-Perry's talk, which is unheard of for me. I'm the girl who will fill an entire notebook at a conference. But I just wanted to sit and soak in every word she spoke and believe me I could have listened to Harris-Perry all day. Never in my life have I seen someone speak who is so brilliant yet still so relatable. She could go from Professor Harris-Perry to Melissa from the Block in two seconds flat and I loved it!  She has the audacity to be authentic and I aspire to one day have the same.

Respectability will not save you. Harris-Perry repeated this phrase again and again Monday night and I can't get it out of my head because I must admit that there was a time when I thought that it would. I thought that if I talked a certain way and dressed a certain way and read all the right books that I would be accepted, that I would be considered good enough despite my race, my gender, or my Southern accent. But respectability will not save you. Look at President and First Lady Obama, Harris-Perry said. They have degrees from Harvard and bigots still talk about them like dogs!

So just be free, Harris-Perry said.

Just be yourself and demand that the world see you for the complex, flawed and multi-faceted person that you are.

Just be free.

A Birthday Prayer

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dear God,

I thank you for 34 years on this crazy, beautiful planet you have created.

Today I commit the next year of my life and all my endeavors to you.

I commit my marriage to you. I thank you for my husband's love. I pray that you will bless our marriage and help me be the wife that my wonderful husband deserves. I pray that our marriage will be an inspiration to other couples.

I commit all my relationships to you. I thank you for my family and friends. I pray that you will help me be a better daughter, sister, cousin, and friend. Bless my loved ones and show me how I can be a blessing to them.

I commit to you all material possessions and desires. I thank you for being the Ultimate Provider. Please wash me clean of any desires I have that are not in line with your will for my life. I declare that what you have for me is for me and will be mine. I pray that you will use my material possessions to have a spiritual impact.

I commit to you all my career aspirations. I thank you for my gifts, talents, and opportunities. I pray that See Jane Write will prosper and grow and that the women of the group will receive the desires of their hearts. Show me how I can be a blessing to those women. From magazine articles to personal essays to blog posts, please anoint the words that I write so they will change lives. Help me be a better role model and teacher. Bless my students and show me how to be a blessing to them.

I commit to you my body. I thank you for the strength and ability of my body and for allowing me to triumph over sickness and disease. I pray that this will continue to be my story. I pray that you will bless my running endeavors and help me remember you and thank you with every step of every race.

I pray that my life and all my life's endeavors will bring glory and love to you.

And so it is.

Not-So-Common Core

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Monday night I had my first workout session with my new running coach, Coach Ann of Resolute Running. It was a core strengthening class with about a dozen other lovely ladies. 

I knew the class would be tough because Ann is a superhuman. (Let's not forget that she qualified for the Boston Marathon when she was 4 months pregnant.) But for some reason I actually thought the class wouldn't make me sweat. And I mean that literally. I walked out of the house without a towel. Fortunately, Resolute Running had plenty of towels on hand to mop up all the perspiration on my brow, back and chest by the end of the workout. 

I should have known better. If Jillian Michaels' 30-minute 6-Week Six Pack workouts have me looking like I got knocked in a swimming pool, then why didn't I think this core class would get my heart pumping, too? 

Oh, and did I mention that the class was an hour long?! If you think this means I was doing crunches for 60 minutes, think again. This class was about strengthening not just abs but the back, hips, glutes, and oblique muscles. Even my quadriceps are sore as I type this. 

Monday's workout included planks, squats, lunges, push-ups, and a host of other moves so tough that when we did do crunches it felt like a break. 

Why is my running coach helping me strengthen my core? 

"Running is a balancing act—placing one foot after the next and allowing the body to make the adjustments needed to keep moving forward," Coach Ann explains. "A strong core is vital for good posture, stability, and balance for everyone, and more so for runners.  Runners that maintain proper running form are more efficient, which translates directly to running farther and faster before fatigue sets in.  Improving muscular strength by developing the postural muscles also reduces the risk of injury. This is why I stress core strength to all of my clients." 

Working out with Ann was great. She's the kind of coach who really pushes you to be your best self. She offers different levels of difficulty for each exercise but urges you to try the level above what you think you can do. She wants you to challenge yourself, but she wants you to be safe and smart. She'll encourage you, for example, to try a move with ankle weights but let you know you're free to take them off if they start to compromise your ability to do an exercise properly. 

She's also hilarious. 

During the class Ann said to us, "If it hurts to laugh or sneeze tomorrow -- you're welcome!"

And I've been saying "Ouch" after every laugh today.

If you're interested in trying out this or other classes at Resolute Running, click here for a complete class schedule

Disclosure: I attended this class free-of-charge for the purposes of reviewing it for my blog. All opinions are my own.

Why I Want a Running Coach

Monday, February 2, 2015

Last month I launched an e-course on time management. I launched this e-course because people constantly ask me how I manage to do all the things that I do. And people ask me because I do A LOT of stuff.

Last year I decided that I really wanted to get serious about building a business and so I started working with a business coach. And I chose this coach because she makes $10,000 a month when business is slow!

My point is if you want to do something you could struggle and strain and try to figure things out on your own or you could find someone who does what you want to do and does it well and ask that person for help.

This year I want to walk/run 1200 miles and next year I want to run a full marathon. I could struggle and strain and do this on my own and end up injured or I could ask for help.

Meet Coach Ann.

Ann works with Resolute Running fitness center in Birmingham and she is my new running coach.

Coach Ann and I met for the first time last week just to chat about my running goals. I was nervous but her bright eyes and big smile eased my fears. Sort of.

Already I can tell that Coach Ann is very nice, very understanding and a great listener. But she's also a freak of nature.

She can finish a full marathon in the time it takes me to finish a half-marathon. She ran the Hot Chocolate 15K in Atlanta last weekend despite the fact that she got sick just before the race. She actually threw up during the race! After throwing up she not only kept running, but she finished 3rd! Oh, and the year she qualified for the Boston Marathon she was four months pregnant.

Go on and let all that sink in for a moment.

Today I'm meeting with Ann for our first workout session. We'll be working on core strength. This means on tomorrow laughing and perhaps even breathing will hurt. But that's the good hurt, right?!

What are your fitness plans for the week? 

February Intentions

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Lamentations 3:22-23 reads: "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."

That Scripture certainly rang true this morning. There's something about turning the calendar to a new month that makes me feel as if I have a fresh start. I guess that's why I love New Year's Eve and New Year's Day so much, too.

This morning I hit the reset button. For me, January was a pretty mediocre month. I didn't work toward my goals with true gumption and grit. Don't get me wrong, plenty of great stuff happened last month. I hosted two successful See Jane Write events, launched my e-course How to Write and Have a Life, and my blog landed me a spot on a local television show. I also spent quality time with many of my best girlfriends, including a girls weekend in at Atlanta where I participated in the Hot Chocolate 5K.

Will run for chocolate!

But there's so much on January my to-do list that remains undone. I slacked on my morning ritual, I slacked on exercise, I slacked on cleaning, I slacked on blogging, and I slacked on building my business. Also, I didn't spend time as much time with my family or my husband as I would have liked.

But this new month brings new mercies. I get to try again. We all do.

Here are my intentions for February:

  • Better promote my e-course through blogging, social media, television appearances, features on popular websites, networking and speaking engagements.
  • Write in my prayer journal daily.
  • Streamline and strengthen my online presence
  • See Melissa Harris-Perry on my birthday. (Yes, that's actually going to happen!)
  • Improve my eating habits.
  • Walk/run 100 miles.
  • Clean up my hard drive. 
  • Buy a new phone and more iCloud storage (The struggle is real).
  • Clean and wash my car (It's so gross).
  • File my taxes (Taxes are gross, too). 
  • Recycle 2014 magazines. 
  • Organize my closet, drawers, journals, makeup and toiletries. 
  • Have a girls day out with my mom. 
  • Have a great Valentine's Day weekend with my husband. 
  • Attend TEDxBirmingham as an senior educator fellow.

What are your goals for February?