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Time is on your side. Except it doesn’t feel like it. We experience time in a variety of ways and one sign of being stressed and anxious is time feeling disjointed. Sound familiar? Yeah, us too.

Join Michelle and JoyGenea as they discuss time management when time feels all wrong – days that drag on with tasks that feel unproductive, but whole weeks and months flying by. So the past feels simultaneously close and distant. So much has changed, but nothing has happened. And if this is all starting to feel like an existential essay from Jean-Paul Sartre, we’re with you. How can we relax into this enough to experience the ever-elusive Flow that comes from sinking into a task and losing ourselves in time?

TRANSCRIPT:

J:  Hi! I’m JoyGenea with Solutions by JoyGenea.

M:  And I’m Michelle, owner of BadCat Digital.

J:  Welcome to If These Heels Could Talk.  We’re so glad to have you here.  So, it’s Saturday May 16th.

M:  Yes. 

J:  And we are hanging out in…

M:  Oh my gosh, it’s May 16th already.

J:  It is.  Were half way through this month already. 

M:  Wow.

J:  So this is a perfect segue into our conversation.

M:   I know.  I did it on purpose.

J:  So today one of the things we will acknowledge first is that we’ve been having a podcast creep.

M:  Yeah, they’re getting really long.  So thank you so much for sticking with us.

J:  And we’re gonna correct that today.  We’re on it.  Not a problem because today’s topic is-

M:  Time.

J:  And how it’s seems like possibly during this pandemic, there’s been two continuums going at once.

M:  Yes.

J:  Like part feels like it’s going really fast and other parts of it feels like this is dragging on forever.

M:  It’s honestly the strangest thing and everybody that I talk to says the same thing and I realized we hadn’t talked about this yet.  Time is so weird right now that it can take me forever to do something and the days are just dragging but then I look back and I was like oh my gosh that was two weeks ago.  That feels like forever ago.  And so they’re flying by but they’re dragging at the same time.  It’s the strangest thing.

J:  I’m noticing it more in work.

M:  Yeah.

J:  And in the business.  Things happen.

M:  Yup.

J:  And then you move on to the next thing and then something else happens and you adjust and you adjust again.  Those days feel really long.

M:  Yeah!  And then you’ll get to like yesterday I got to the end of the week and I was like oh my gosh its Friday already.  I didn’t do this and I didn’t do that and didn’t email this person back on Monday.  I just kept saying I would do it tomorrow and now it’s Friday.  Crap!

J:  Well and remember at the beginning of the pandemic, particularly the beginning of self-quarantine, at that moment. Remember when we couldn’t even keep track of the days.  It was just like ok is today Monday?  Where are we?

M:  And it really did feel everybody really did feel like March would never end.  And then it felt like April was 700 days long because you would get into the middle of April and it would be like it’s only April 12th.  I’ve got 3 weeks left of this and now May is just scooting by. Like what the heck happened to May 3rd?!?

J:  And I have a feeling particularly for businesses, cuz we are now starting in Minnesota to do some reopening.

M:  Yes.

J:  And we’re now just doing a safe in place.  Is that the new name of the campaign but we’re getting out…

M: Stay Safe Minnesota.

J:  Yes. 

M:  I wasn’t gonna do that. I was gonna run down the traffic in the street screaming.

J: Don’t do it.

M:  Hit Me! Hit Me!  Hit Me! 

J:  Don’t do it.  So we’re transitioning to this as more businesses are opening up.  More people are going back to work environments and so we’re transitioning and I can definitely tell for those people who are waiting for this moment, those businesses and so forth all of sudden they feel like they’re drinking from a fire hose a little bit in getting food and so forth all ready and prepared for this next chapter.  And this next opening and I’m really hopeful economy-wise that it does feel kinda of like flood for them.  That the doors do open for restaurants and so forth and they do feel like oh my gosh how are we keeping up. How can we do all of this?  That would be wonderful. 

M:  I don’t know.  We’ll see what happens.  I had to make the decision about reopening our business on Monday.  You know the employees all wanted to know what I was gonna do and I just am not comfortable reopening and something in me is saying it’s about to hit the fan.  Something in me is saying this a perfect storm. People are tired and frustrated and impatient and angry and defensive and not communicating well and businesses and business owners are people and therefore they are also all of those things.

J:  Yes.

M:  It’s just the perfect storm of we have to reopen because we need money and we want people in here but a lot of people aren’t gonna want to be in there and then the people that are tired of all of the behavioral restrictions and the social distancing and they just want to hang out with friends and I totally understand cuz I do too.

J:  Yeah.

M:  Um so to me it’s not about what I choose for myself, it’s about what the guy who’s gonna sell me gas next week chose for himself.  And so because of that I think I want to keep my employees as safe as possible.  I think we should stay closed for at least another week or two.  And so that’s what we did.  We talked about it yesterday as a team and we voted and there were a couple people who wanted to come back to the office.  So we’re gonna open the office for them.

J:  Ok.

M:  But not for the public.  Not everybody.  And I’m not forcing anybody because everybody’s in a different place.

J:  So you’re doing a nice soft reopen.

M:  It’s soft reopen. 

J:  That’s an option.

M:  It is. We can maintain social distance in our office.  The desks are far enough apart.  They were talking about do we work in shifts and I was like look everybody let’s not over complicate my life.  And I also don’t want to do this thing where well today I kinda think I want to work from home for 2 hours and then come in for 3 hours and then work from home.  I’m like I can’t keep track of all of that and that will add a lot anxiety to my life.  So if you decide, decide.  If you’re gonna work from the office then you’re gonna work from the office your normal working hours and if you’re gonna work from home you’re gonna work from home your normal working hours.  I’m with ok with either but some odd configuration of both that just floats day to day is not good for me.  I don’t think that’s asking too much.

J:  It’s not easy for any businesses either though.  I will say that’s been complicated.  I’ve seen it and I’ve heard about it from other business owners and there like that is complicated.

M:  It’s so complicated and different people want different things from you and you know I’m striving to keep a team together and productive and so their individual happiness affects their productivity.

J:  It does.

M:  And their willingness to kind of step outside of their comfort zones effects their ability to be a team and so how do you find that balance.

J:  You work at it as a team. 

M: Everyday. 

J:  I was just gonna say everyday.

M:  No matter how long or short the day may seem.

J:  Now didn’t you read an article.

M:  I did. 

J:  I was gonna say I want to talk some about that cuz it was really interesting.

M:  It was really interesting and I’m kind of trying to figure out so a friend of mine, my best friend, sent me this article which is actually from Vox which is not normally a source that I would go to but it’s an interview and we’ll link to it on the website and the podcast but this interview is about how time feels really variable.  That the quarantine is gonna go on forever but the days are flying by and it just feels like it’s just heavy.  It’s just heavy.  Time is heavy and that’s what the whole interview is about.  It’s really interesting.  What did you get out of it?

J:  I just got the fact that I wasn’t alone in reflecting.

M:  In this feeling.

J:  Yeah, I wasn’t alone in this feeling and then reflecting over the last few months certain things did really feel like. Well I told you I had that kind of angst that moved in and that was all about a time line. Well that was all about the world’s slowest snail moving thing.  Like you know I’m staring at it going oh my lord is this gonna happen.  But yet other things felt like oh my gosh didn’t that just like I that client just emailed me yesterday like I was gonna deal with that.

M:  Like what do they want from me.  Like why would you email me three time a day.  No, you just emailed me three times this week.

J: Exactly. And it’s like whoa. I agree.  So I really related to it from that.  I’m like she really is right like certain things feel like they fly and it is a little – I can tell my mind is a little challenged with it from time to time.

M:  Well and so here’s the thing about the article that spoke to me it mentions a concept of flow and it’s that idea that you lose yourself in task and when you lose yourself in a task it can go really, really fast.  So they’re talking about subjective time perception.  Subjective time perception which has to do with a combination of attention and emotion.  The type of emotion that we experience affects the type of attention we have to pay in combination with our circumstances.  So the ideas that when you’re relaxed and you’re engaging in a routine activity you can experience this flow and this exactly why I quilt because when I’m quilting flow happens very easily. 

J: Sure.

M:  Um because I’m doing the same thing over and over and over again or I’m just the hum of the machine and the –

J:  Well and you’re following a list.

M:  Yeah.

J:  You’re following a pattern. 

M:  No decisions to make necessarily.  There’s parts of it where I’m making decisions and that’s not flow, that’s my creativity part.

J:  That’s little.

M:  Yeah.  And that’s a small percentage of overall process. 

J: That’s a great example of that.

M:  And so flow is this kind of relaxed directed attention where your attention is directed out of you. 

J:  Yup.

M:  And they talk in the article about how children experience flow very, very easily and this is why, you know, a kid starts playing and all of sudden 2 hours later and you finally had a moment of peace and you’re like crap, it’s been quiet for too long. 

J:  Right.

M:  Why? Where are they?  But this is why kids can play with matchbox cars for hours.  Or legos.  Or dolls. Or they can just wander in the backyard for hours at a time.

J:  You’re so gonna laugh at this but I had a client that purchased a brand new project management system.

M:  Okay.

J:  That was my flow.  I fell into that thing.  The 2 days.

M:  I am gonna laugh at that.

J:  I know.  I know but that’s totally me.

M:  That’s so you.

J:  I know they shot me near that thing and I was just like.

M:  Ever the organizer.

J:  Oh I just I devoured it.  I ate it up and I was like oh it should do this and that and I mapped it out.

M:  It was like you were going through boxes of stuff and putting it into smaller boxes.

J:  That’s ridiculous.  And it was nice to get out of there but I was amazed like when I stepped out of it I was like how many hours have I been in?  Like how long was I in there?  You’re right, flow.  You flow.

M:  And so what they’re saying kind of the whole setup of the interview is that because of all of the anxiety and the stress and the disruption to our routine flow is harder to find.

J: And we want it, don’t we?

M: And we want it.

J: Sure.

M:  And so we’re experiencing our days in these like disrupted, you know non-joining awkward odd times but then we look back on time and we can’t remember what we we’re doing from one minute to the other that stopped us from doing all of the things that we should of done.

J: Yeah.

M:  And so it’s a loss of productivity.  We’re experiencing it as disjointed time.  And I was like I read that and I was like ok well I know I’m not the only one so let’s move on.  Like how do I get some flow back and I have been.  You know I’ve been quilting this whole time as anybody who follows me personally on social media knows because I’ve finished so many things this year.  But I’m trying to find a way to get it back when I work.

J:  How’s that going?

M:   Not well. 

J:  Well what have been some successes?

M:  So.

J:   Have you had any successes?

M:  No.  I have not.

J:  Ok.

M:  I mean when I write proposals it requires a certain level of attention and I’m able to do that but I’m really only getting into flow off-hours.  And I think that was always the case.  I think that’s why I like to work on Sunday’s when nobody else is at the office because my time gets so disrupted.

J:  That is a business owner experience.

M:  Yeah. 

J:  Like that is business owner 101.  Pandemic or no pandemic.

M:  Yeah.  You’ve got to find your flow because you can’t like work on something for an hour in one place without 15 people coming to you with 15 problems that aren’t really problems.  Really.

J:  Well one of them was.

M:  One of them was. 

J:  One of them probably was.

M:  One of them was important, yeah.

J:  But the other 14, yeah.

M:  Not so much.  It was like, can I get a new chair?

J:  I think I hear that from a majority of business owners when I’m coaching.

M:  Yeah.

J:  They don’t call it flow per say but they’re just like I just want to get something done.

M:  Yeah.

J:  I want to start something and complete a thought.

M:  Yeah. 

J:  And like be able to follow it through.

M:  And this is kind of you know I hear the same thing from people who have small children because it’s the same thing.  I just want to complete a thought like I just want to have an adult conversation that has beginning, a middle, and an end.  You know. Like I just want to take one thing and follow it through to its logical conclusion.  And if that takes 10 minutes or if that takes 2 hours I need that freedom and I don’t have it right now.

J: We need to find you something this week that you can.

M:  Find some flow.

J:  Yeah.  That you can feel a little bit.

M:   Well where are you getting your flow?

J: Well that project management software actually provided me with a nice little shwooop.  I’ve had little side projects, personally, some side projects and stuff that I’ve been doing and I plug away at them at night.  An hour here and hour there.  Like your quilting.

M:  Yeah.

J:  Television is on or podcasts are going or something and I’m plugging away at those and kind of how I segregate is I have enough computers at this point that certain computers do not hook to the internet or certain computers are not logged in to email accounts or anything business related.

M:  Oh.

J:  So I can pick that computer up literally.  I pick that computer up to just do this personal photo stuff cuz nothing else can disrupt me.  And I’ve had to kind of do that at this point to separate because the second I pick up my business computer, that’s business.

M: Right.  I’m in my business brain.

J: Right and my notifications are popping up and I’m seeing the messages on the Facebook, like everything is coming in.  Whereas this other computer that’s not, it never logs in to any of those things so there is not those distractions.  And for me that’s been helpful. 

M:  Well and do you think that this kind of conversation is when people are talking about silver linings and the pandemic and the ability to slow down and the ability to calm?  Do you think part of it is that more people are finding their flow?

J:  People who are not home trying to teach their children.  Run a job or a business.

M:  Oh my gosh. 

J: And trying to stay, you know, and cook dinner and prepare everything.  No.  Those people, they miss flow.  They probably would do anything to have that moment but for those people that aren’t living that environment I do think.

M:  I found out this week that I have friends who have children, young children, like 1st and 2nd grade, in Spanish immersion programs and they don’t speak Spanish.

J:  What do you do then?

M:  And then I found out that here in town, see neither one of us have kids so I’ve never looked into the educational opportunities for 8-year-olds in St. Cloud because why would I have to.  That’s kind of creepy.  There’s a Chinese immersion program.

J:  Wow.

M:  I think I would die. 

J:  Right about now. 

M: Right about now. 

J:  Yeah.

M:  I would have died a month ago.  Oh my gosh I can’t even fathom.

J:  Those are unsung heroes right there.

M:  Yeah.  Unsung. Absolutely.

J:  They’re getting our tiny heel award.  Those are people that are gonna get nominated, that’s all I know.  Because that is an experience.

M:  But anyway, I think you’re right.  I think that you know some people have said yes, this is a silver lining of this we’re able to slow down a little bit but I think you found a way to slow the anxiety of all of those things coming at you that interrupt you and I have too.  I used to wear an apple watch and I don’t anymore. 

J:  I did notice that. 

M:  Yeah.  I don’t wear it anymore.  It’s not because it’s not a fantastic piece of technology.  It’s because I always have my phone with me so if a notification comes in I get it on my watch, on my phone, and then on my computer at the same time but not exactly at the same time.  So every email goes ding ding ding.

J: Wow.

M: And it makes it really, really, really urgent when it’s really, really not. 

J: So you’re finding ways to carve out.

M:  I’m finding ways to carve out some peace.

J: Which is so necessary.

M:  Which I think is necessary for flow.

J:  And it is necessary for business because even in the middle of all of this and even the middle of day to day potential dramas or adjustments or the changes in government rules or the outlines of how, you know, how to ramp your business back up.  Somewhere in there, a year from now, I want my business to be amazing.

M:  Yeah and I want it to still exist and I want it to be amazing and I want it to all of the things I wanted it to be before this started.

J:  And I can’t completely not engage with that.

M: Right.

J: For too long.

M:  No.

J:  A period of time.

M:  No.

J:  So that. Perfect. I’m gonna add a little something so this week one of the things I did. I went out to hunt down as many podcasts as I could find in business that we’re recording still like current to date.

M:  Ok.

J:  Cuz it turned out there were a lot of people that just had stuff in the cue and they just let it roll and I’m like I do not want the let it roll.  I want the…

M: Well we had things in the queue before this started.

J: Absolutely.

M: But we interrupted that to do this because it just felt so off-tone.

J: Absolutely.  So I found some just wealth of great feedback and one of my favorites was actually her name is Carla Harris. It’s called Access and Opportunities.  She’s amazing.  She works for Morgan Stanley and she has this great podcast and talk about direct and to the point.  One of them she was talking about is the fact that there are kind of four segments of your life that you definitely as a business owner need to be participating in every day.  She says grab a little sheet of paper you know, fold into fou,r and she says quadrant one at least one thing in your day should be about how to keep your business going.

M:  Yeah.

J:  Check that box off.  And then the next box is how are my people doing and what’s one thing I need to do checking in with them and keeping them afloat.

M:  Yup.

J:  And then the next quadrant is who needs me and how is my family doing and what do I need from them?  So family and friends taking care of that aspect of it.  And then the other quadrant was miscellaneous next steps and you only get to pick one in that quadrant.  And she goes if you can get to the end of the day and you’ve done one thing in each of those groups, it’s been a great day.  Like you’re moving things forward.  You’re keeping things going.  The business is continuing.  You know the business is continuing your family is ok.

M:  That is really smart. 

J:  It’s great.

M:  And it pulls a lot of pressure away. 

J: There’s so many things to do.

M:  In every quadrant.  And that’s how you feel out of balance.  You feel out of balance when you push to one or the other too far.

J: Which we did at first.  Like at first it was like ok I got to do this or you know there were certain things that were emergencies that we had to deal with at first but we’re not in emergency mode anymore

M: Right.  We’re now in decision making mode.  We’re now in what’s next mode. 

J: Correct.  She really foresees and I thought this was interesting, it’s gonna be a 1099 economy.  It’s gonna move from a W-2 economy.  She thinks 1099, sole proprietors and small business is going to explode.  She foresees contracting becoming the thing outside of this.

M: Well, yes because why would you provide a working environment under these conditions.

J:  Well and if you’re employed and you’ve been let go or something and you’ve always had a dream of possibly starting a business when is there not a better time.

M:  Well exactly and I think it’s combination of those things cuz, we talked about this a little bit last week, but from the employer standpoint there’s a lot to provide and it’s expensive and it’s nerve-wracking and you know it’s a lot of responsibility to provide that environment for employees.  And then to protect them from the public who is maybe not participating and then ask them to ask the public to participate and now we’ve got news stories about how dangerous that is so it really puts the employer between a rock and a hard place.  So as consumer I’m really trying very hard.

J:  You are.

M:  To just.

J:  You’re doing a nice job.

M: To follow the rules and thank the employees and keep everybody, keep everything pleasant.  I can see that because I’m you know sitting here going well if we’re not gonna be able to work at the office which is how I always envisioned this.  The team works so much better that way but if we’re not gonna be able to do that then why am I paying for it?

J: And that’s just it.

M: And have to start asking that question.

J:  Yeah.

M:  And I don’t want to if any of the team members are listening, I don’t want to cause anybody any anxiety by saying that.

J:  Absolutely not.

M:  This is just that thought that runs through my head like why is that building sitting there empty? 

J: Yeah. 

M:  When I write that check I feel that it’s empty.

J:  Absolutely. Another thing she pointed out was that talent is going to be very, very available.

M:  Yeah.

J:  So if you have thought about growing your company.  If you are able to map that out she said be really specific like dream really big of who that ideal employee that you would love to have.

M: Cuz you’re gonna be able to get the unicorn.

J:  You are right now.  And you need to dream and aim that high and not take anything less.  She was pretty adamant about that.  And then her final statement I’m bringing back in is what’s your plan after the recovery?  She said business owners need to start thinking ok we re-opened like we are recovering and stuff but what lies outside of that.

M:  Yeah.

J: In this type of economy. 

M:  Yeah because this is the moment when money is really cheap.  This is the moment when there’s going to be a lot of opportunity for people with forethought and enough resources to let’s say that too this is not just a forethought thing this is a resource.

J:  No there’s resources.

M: This is a resource pool thing.  So if you have enough resources and you have that vision and that plan what can you do to take advantage of what’s happening.  And it’s a pretty cold way of saying it but it’s absolutely true and if we don’t think like that certainly other people will.

J: She was interviewing a variety of people which was really interesting and one of the people that she was interviewing is a woman that does capital funding out in San Francsisco and Silicon Valley and they were having one of her podcasts was with that woman and they were talking about how those companies are pivoting.  Companies that are in start-up, that are in the incubation mode.  Like how they’re pivoting.  What she’s making them do.  That was very, very interesting so parts of this come from that conversation and couple other conversations she had with other people that are also running large companies and large groups and how they’re pivoting and what they’re telling people.

M:  Yeah.

J:  To kind of do.  So, it was an interesting podcast and they were well worth the time but now you got some of the juice of that.  And that’s where my mind has been going this last week.  You know after I kind of heard that I started thinking about ok dream really, really big.  Like the coach in me kinda kicked in for myself and I’m like what would I love this to look like?  What are people gonna need?  What do I have that could meet their need?

M:  Well and we’ve been doing that with a lot of our clients because, for example, a client that makes and sells custom promotional you know swag stuff that you buy with your businesses logo on it. 

J:  Yeah.

M:  They’re biggest season is the summer because of all of the events, all of the parades, all of the 5K’s with the t-shirts.  All of the biggest season.  None of it’s happening so now what are people gonna need instead because all of those nonprofits are still gonna have to figure out how do their events and raise money and all of those small businesses that rely on in-person networking are still gonna have to figure out how to. So what do we do?  What products?  What do we talk about today that puts at us at the forefront of what people are going to need in 6 months.  And so that’s what we’re looking at and then when we’re done making sure that our business is still viable for the next 6 months, what are we going to next year?  What are we going to do the year after?  What are we going to do the year after that and how are you gonna take this from this to that?

J:  Because recovery business not probably the business you build on.

M:  No.

J:  Or you keep.  And that was really what she was reminding us of.  She’s like you’re gonna do a whole bunch of things to be survival and recovery business but that’s not where you’re actually going and if you aren’t looking at where you’re going you might wind up adjusting yourself so much you lose track.

M:  And in our space I’m getting feedback from people who’ve gotten you know solicitations, you know email solicitations from SEO –

J:  Oh. all the time.

M:  We’ll just say people.  I don’t really mean people but we will say people. All of the time and they get all of the time and they’ve stopped.  They’ve stopped.  And it’s at a time when open rates for email are up almost 30% so how is it that their prime way that they were farming for or soliciting business is no longer viable for them or is no longer worth their time. 

J:  Interesting

M:  When open rates are up so high.  It’s really interesting and so I’ve gotta put some really brain power into that and try and figure that out and why is that they’ve stopped doing that.

J:  I think we just found Michelle’s flow area for the week.  You can deep dive and that wouldn’t be all bad.   So that would be definitely would be our encouragement.

M:  Yeah find your flow.

J:  And accept the fact that time is fluid and it’s slow and it’s fast all at the same time and you are not alone.

M:  And for those of you who are Harry Potter heads, like I am, there is a scene in book 6 where Harry Potter is talking to Professor Slughorn at a party and Professor Slughorn is talking about a time.

J:  A timer.  It’s a sand timer. 

M:  A sand timer yeah things somebody tell me the word oh my gosh I can’t even believe this my brain is not working.  I haven’t had any coffee yet that’s the problem. 

J: That’s what it is.

M:  Um but this time sand time thing and it goes in different speeds based on the quality of the conversation.  So when conversation is socially really, really good it slows down.

J: Sure.

M:  And when it’s maybe not so great it speeds up.  So what I would say lesson from that is let’s be grateful for the time that we have and the time that we’re spending and if we relax into it and it let it move around us then we can find our flow.

J:  So I have special service message I wanted to share to those essential workers and the essential worker I really want to focus on today are postal workers. 

M:  Yes.

J: Did you know that the VA sends all of their prescriptions out by the mail.  The US Postal Service provides all of those amazing essential items.  So 40 plus postal workers have come down with Covid.

M:  Yeah.

J:  And more.  I know there are a number that have unfortunately passed away also and so my brother is an amazing postal worker out in Pennsylvania and I just want to put out a huge thank you to all of the postal workers in United States who delivering our mail for us and making sure that my stimulus check made it into my mailbox.

M: That’s how people pay me.  People pay me through the mail.  So we yes absolutely and I think today is the day to wave and smile and say hi and say thank you.  Thank you to your postal carrier.

J: Because they are doing this every day for us and making sure our mail makes into our mailbox.  So that’s my essential worker plug this week is for the postal workers.

M: That’s a really, really good one.  Well thank you very much JoyGenea.  Thank you very much for spending your time with us today.

J: Same to you. Thanks for tuning in. We hope you’ve gained a little something, been motivated, been a little bit inspired and we got you thinking a little.

M:  Have a good day.