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What We Talk About

Hey there. Alyson here. And if you’re anything like me… you’ve got bits and scraps of paper ALL over the place with ideas, notes, things to think about, research, wants, shopping reminders, and actual work-stuff that needs to be done to, you know… make profit.

But if you’re like me, you ALSO know that’s not exactly sustainable, is it? And no matter how many tools, proven systems, processes… whatever! you try… they just… don’t stick.

That’s why Louise Miller is here to talk to us about what to do when we want REAL productivity that lasts… and then she’ll talk to us about the counterintuitive thing to do when we feel more overwhelmed than ever.

Resources

Louise’s Website


Connect with Louise on LinkedIn
Shoot Louise an email
Get your FREE Planning Workbook so you can go from big picture to “get it done.”
Ready to Tame The To-Do list? See how Louise can help.

Check out the entire library of mindset episodes here.

Our transcript hasn't been proofed, so there will probably be some errors. Sorry about that!

Alyson Lex 0:03
I don't know about you. But I look online for hacks and tricks and techniques to get more done in my day to be more productive to be more accomplished by the end of my day, and frankly, most of them just don't feel good. They don't fit my personality. They don't feel like something that I can keep up with. They're just not sustainable. And so, when Jenny and I met Louise Miller, we got to talking about this overwhelm productivity kind of culture that's out there. And whether that's really the way we should be approaching our businesses. And we're really excited that she's here to share her. Her, her viewpoint, her strategy, her alliterative process. Louise, thanks for being here with us.

Louise Miller 1:05
Now, you're so very welcome. Thank you very much for inviting me, it's an absolute pleasure to be here.

Jennie Wright 1:11
Well, in your bio, it says that your clients think you're a soothing balm. And I'm excited to have a fellow soothing balm on the podcast, because I get that as well. Because I deal in the deal in the sight of, you know, we've got 85 tasks to do. And we're going to do them. And we're going to do it in a calm and efficient manner. As opposed to we've got 85 tasks. Oh my god. Right. So it's kind of it's gonna be good to have another soothing balm on the show. I'm looking forward to it.

Louise Miller 1:39
Yeah, it's interesting, as sorry, Alison, you go, go

Alyson Lex 1:42
ahead. No, oh,

Louise Miller 1:43
you know, I was just gonna say, yeah, it's, it is so interesting, just what you were saying a moment ago, Allison about this whole, all the ideas are out there around productivity, and overwhelm, and all of that kind of stuff. And, you know, what I tend to find is people are looking for the quick fixes, and they're looking for the hacks and the tips and the tricks. But those things don't usually work in my experience, because that is the thing that worked for that person in that moment. And, you know, we're also very different as you both know, so yeah, I am looking forward to sharing a slightly different way of exploring this topic with you both today. Yeah. Well, and

Alyson Lex 2:21
one of the things that that you just mentioned is, a lot of the stuff we see that quote unquote, works is what worked for that person. And I think that's really important. So for me, my first step and understanding what works for me is to understand me, is that the first step that you really like to take when figuring out how to do this stuff,

Louise Miller 2:45
yeah, totally. And I think, you know, something that I often talk about is self awareness as being your kind of productivity superpower, because until you know yourself and how you work, and you know, what doesn't doesn't work for your own energy levels, and the peaks and troughs as you move through your day, because again, that's different for all of us. Until you start paying attention to that and noticing that, you're always going to be butting up against things that are not working for you. Because once you can hone in, you know, something as simple as there are 1,000,001 ways of managing a to do list. So, you know, a really simple way to start honing down and honing in on something that's actually going to work for you is to think, do I naturally reach for a pen and paper? Or do I grab my phone or my laptop? If I want to write something down? I need to remember. And even just asking yourself that really simple question about what you do naturally, is a really great starting point. So that you can build, you know, a way of working, it's actually going to suit you, rather than we all feel like we have to be doing everything electronically, because all of these apps are out there. I know I work better with a pen and paper. So that's what I do. But again, that's different for everyone. So yeah, self awareness is absolutely crucial.

Jennie Wright 3:56
Um, Alyson and I both have big notepads on our desks. And we communicate with each other often. So we're always scribbling notes. Oh, let me get that on the notepad. And we've tried a bunch of other systems. And I know my clients have tried a bunch of systems. What did we you know? What is the thing that actually works? Because I feel like people go from one tip to the next. Oh, you have to try Asana? No, it's gonna be Monday. No, it has to be, you know, this thing or that thing? Or you have to use Slack. What is the you said, we have to know ourselves? But does knowing ourselves mean? We have to try out all these things to see what fits? Is it like trying on a bunch of clothes?

Louise Miller 4:35
Um, that's a really great question. And, you know, I think there is an element of trial and error involved. But there are so many of those systems out there that if you were to try and try them all, you'd be there forever, you know. So I think it's just being really clear on what you need the thing to do. So if you're collaborating with someone, for instance, using something with an electronic component that is going to allow you to share stuff more easily if you're working remotely in collaboration. This one is perhaps the way to go. And quite often, to be completely honest with my clients, it comes down to which one they liked the look of best. You know, they might just have a little look at the interface and go, Oh, God, that makes me feel a bit sick. I can't even look at that. And there's, you know, there are others that look really pretty a lot of my clients love Trello because it's, it's, you know, a lot more visual and the board, I can't get on with it. I can't.

Jennie Wright 5:23
I can't even work in Trello. It drives me nuts. So yeah, I got you a marvelous person.

Louise Miller 5:30
Yeah, totally. I'm the same. So no, you don't need to try them all, just get really clear on what you need the thing to do you know what it is that you're trying to get from it? And then I would just say, Pick one. Give it give it a chance to work. And see how you go and see what you can learn from it. And if it's working good enough, then great. You know?

Alyson Lex 5:54
What about when the thing that works for you? The thing that you naturally reach for? I was thinking about this? When you said what do you naturally reach for and I usually reach for a pad of paper, because like Jennie said, Now if I'm out, I actually will send myself an email. So that it pops up, if I don't have paper. But what if like that just doesn't work. Like it doesn't have a system behind it, it doesn't fit into a process, it requires manual touching all the time. And you can't actually then grow. So then it becomes where your to do list or whatever is, is actually the point of overwhelm for you what what, then,

Louise Miller 6:43
yeah, that's a really, really great point, because I think a lot of people do exactly that they've got a system that's maybe working for them. And then all of a sudden, they find themselves in a situation where they don't have access to that system, they try something else, and you end up completely overwhelmed. And you know, my, what that used to look like for me when I was in my job before I started doing what I do now, every time someone would appear in my office door, which was all the blooming time, they would ask me to do something, I would just grab a scrap of paper, scribble on it, put it on my desk, and then five minutes later, something would be on top of it. And I'd have post it notes stuck everywhere it would. And that was exactly as you were saying causing my overwhelm. So actually, like you say the overwhelm wasn't necessarily about the stuff I needed to do. It was about actually not having a really clear overview of what it was that I needed to do. And that was the overwhelm that was the constant fear that I was going to forget something that I was going to trip up in some way. So you know what, what I did in that case, I was got really serious about creating a system for myself. And what I did at that time was discovered bullet journaling. Which again, you know, I'm not going to preach that that is the solution, because we're all very different. But for me, I took what I liked of that system, and I evolved it to work for me, you know, there was a lot of it that wasn't working for me, I, if you Google bullet journals, if you've never seen them before, you will be faced with loads of beautiful calligraphy and people designing them to be this work of art, which can be really great if that floats your boat. But actually, that's not, in my opinion, what therefore, it's about somewhere to gather all of these to dues and gather everything that needs to happen. So that you can then move into action and start getting stuff done. And I love the system so much, I actually created a whole course based around setting up a system. That's kind of my version of that. Because I just think consolidating everything in some ways, the way is the way forward, whatever that way looks like for you. And the great thing about what I teach when I teach this stuff and you know, the bullet journal method is that you can be really flexible with it. And you can make it work for you. It does take experimentation. With any system that you choose to use, you're never going to get it right first time. You need to try these things instead of waiting for it to be perfect before you start. You need to just get going with it, and then make tweaks and adjustments as you go.

Alyson Lex 9:11
All right, what about and I love the bullet journal thing, and I want to come back to that in a minute. But I'm kind of stuck on what we were talking about before. We're Jenny and I collaborate a lot. And you know, I'm growing my team and our listeners will probably be growing their teams. What about when you're collaborating with someone either from a team perspective or as a partner, and they operate differently? Is there a way to build in compromise? Or is it really just Jenny and I are big fans of open communication. Is it really just one of those situations?

Louise Miller 9:53
Yeah, I think it really is that it's just being really, again, the self awareness comes in there because you if you know what you need and how you work best, you can communicate that with someone else, and they can do the same with you. And, you know, if we all move through life, assuming everybody thinks as we do, that's gonna cause all kinds of problems. So when we can understand and realize that we're not all the same, and have got that flexibility, and the, you know, the willingness and the capacity to meet somebody where they are, and finding a way of that working for both of you, and I think you can only really find that through open communication. I mean, I have somebody I collaborate with, who's also been a client of mine, who is very on the fly, she just will say, she's going to do a workshop tomorrow, and we'll just rock up and do it. And it'll be amazing. That is not me. I need a lot of time.

Alyson Lex 10:46
Thinking, yeah, I just got excited.

Jennie Wright 10:50
This is really different.

Louise Miller 10:53
Yeah, totally. And it but it can, that can be a really great dynamic, actually, I think in terms of, you know, when people are seeing both of those things at play, because there's absolutely value in both. But it means that, you know, when I'm working with her, she knows she has to give me notice if there's a lot going on that I'm involved in, she can't tell me the week before I need enough notice that she does that really well. And similarly, I won't give her all the details that I know is going to send her into a tailspin. But yeah, it is that communication piece really important.

Jennie Wright 11:23
The communication piece, so you know, we're bringing this back over to Allison and I a little bit just because we've, we've been working together on this podcast now we're going into see, you know, it'll be season three and 2023. And working with somebody who has a different like, I'm bullet journals make me happy, although I have had to adopt it. Because again, also the frilly, you know, the frilly calligraphy stuff didn't really fit for me. And I want to talk more about your system. Do you mind sharing what your like some details about your system? How does that work? What is the what's the setup? And how people can start it, you know, start to like, we've talked about sort of the high level stuff, I really want to get into the nitty gritty of how we can create that productivity. So do you mind sharing a bit more about that?

Louise Miller 12:08
Yeah, no, absolutely. I mean, the to do list stuff is now a very, very small part of what I do. So that course isn't even actually, on my website at the moment. If anyone wants to know more about it, do let me know. But I'm not actively promoting it at the moment. But you know, where I really support people. Now. Let me backtrack, let me backtrack. So we've got the course which is called time your to do list and what that allows people to do is to go, Okay, I am going to pull together everything that is going on for me, not just in my business, but in my life as well. Because those two things do not exist in separate vacuums, you know, what's going on in your life is going to impact on the energy you've got available for your business, because you are one human being with 24 hours in a day. And only, you know, a certain amount of energy that will get used up one way or another. So I think that's a mistake I often see people make is trying to pretend that their business and their, the rest of their lives can exist separately from each other. So the to do list course I have encourages people to bring all of that together. And it's not you know, is thinking about, yes, what needs to be done. But also, when does this need to be done. Because you know, traditional to do list, you just write it all on a big old list. And you think you've got to get it all done by teatime. And that's not very realistic. So what the cost I teach in the bullet journal, all of that stuff does that I think is really powerful is it adds a win to the what. And it encourages you to capture all of those tasks, so that you're seeing them when they become important. And you're not looking today at something you don't need to worry about for another three weeks. Because that's just going to take up valuable headspace and mental energy. So that's what I really love about it. It's a really neat way of capturing everything that's important. And again, one of the very first things I really encourage people to do with this is to look at what's on their list and go is this really important, because quite often, we're very good at putting things on the list, but we're not so good at taking things off. You know, I once had someone go through the course, who would have something on her list for three years that someone had asked her to do three years ago, it was a family thing. So it wasn't a work thing. It had never been mentioned again. She hadn't done it. And every time she looked at it, she felt terrible. So having permission to remove that from her list, honestly that the lightness and the energy that that gave her was really astonishing to witness when I saw her on that on the call that we were having. So remembering it's okay to take things off the list evaluating whether these things are still important and thinking about when they're going to happen. As you're putting all this in place and consolidating everything is what's going to make the biggest difference in my opinion. And then what I do more of now is actually help people beyond that into the kind of planning. The planning piece in terms of you know, how often you actually sitting down, giving yourself the time and space to plan what you're going to do. I think quite often, as business owners, particularly when we're busy, when we're overwhelmed, our our tendency is to want to speed up, keep our heads down, and just keep going. So I am all about, and this is where the alliteration is going to come in. Allison mentioned earlier, I am all about taking a purposeful pause for powerful planning. So that's very much what I'm preaching these days. Yeah.

Alyson Lex 15:35
Talk to us more about that, because I knew about this alliteration. I've been so excited for it, and I was gonna lead you in with a perfectly placed question. That's some more alliteration for you. But talk to me about what this looks like. Because I feel like this is more than just burning out crashing and sitting on the couch on your phone and messaging your bestie at eight o'clock at night with 30,000 ideas. I don't just you know, for 30 for a friend. It's more than that. It's more intentional, am I correct? So talk to me about this powerful pause?

Louise Miller 16:13
Yeah, absolutely. I'm gonna throw some more of alliteration at you now as well. So brace yourself strapping. So what I find is, you know, my clients, and it sounds like, you know, I'm sure you guys in your audience, what we all want is a business that really flows, you know, that functions really smoothly, that's financially flourishing, that's fulfilling, and that's fun. So we want all of the good F's in our business, all of those good, lovely F's. But what we actually find in reality, when we're moving through our days is that we're, you know, butting up against all the bad F's, so we're frazzled, frustrated, frantic, you know, we can find ourselves feeling really frozen to the spot when we're in that overwhelm. And just generally, you know, really fed up. And it's very easy for that to happen. When there's loads of ideas, like you said, 32,000 ideas of things you want to do, you've got your existing clients that need you to take care of them, you've got all your admin that needs to happen, or that needs to be delegated, you've got stuff going on in your family, potentially, there's a pile of laundry in the corner, there's all this stuff fighting for your attention. So it's really not surprising that we end up feeling all of those bad F's and the good F sometimes feel a little bit elusive. And again, you know, I think it's only natural that our tendency when we're feeling that, as I said, is to keep our heads down, and to just speed up and just keep wanting to go faster. But when we take this kind of purposeful pause, when we slow down, take a breath. And do that really intentionally, as you said, that's when we get this sense of real perspective, and a sense of clarity. And we can start to get curious in a way that just is not possible, when we've got our heads down, trying to go Festival at the time. And when we can build all of that into our rhythm in our business in a really intentional, regular way. Hopefully, we can prevent that sitting on the sofa, feeling really burnt out and exhausted. Of course, there will be moments of that because we're human and running a business is hard. And there will be times when there's a lot going on. So we can't I you know, I'm not going to sit here and promise you will never feel that way again. But, you know, if we allow ourselves this space, to think really clearly and calmly, about what's actually going on, about what's important. We can have less of that burnout, less of that frantic frazzled mint and more of those, you know, fun fulfilling times that we all want. So yeah, it's really, really powerful.

Jennie Wright 18:40
You find that the productivity tips that you share are different, or you have to look at them differently for neurodivergent versus non neurodivergent people when it comes to overwhelm which it seems to be more prevalent in the neural neurodivergent strand.

Louise Miller 18:59
Yeah, it's a really interesting question. And something that has come up a lot lately, actually, and I am embarrassed to say that I don't have a good answer for that, you know, it's not something I can claim to be an expert in. That's okay. Perhaps. Yeah, it's something because it's come up a lot lately. I've had quite a lot of people asking me that, you know, versions on that question. It's something I'm probably I'm going to look into, because it is really, it's fascinating to me that Yeah, well,

Alyson Lex 19:24
I'll tell you what, I am a very self aware, therapy, loving ADHD. So if you want to talk about it, I'm happy to hop on the phone. We'll talk about the way my particular version of the neuro divergent brain works. help you get there. Okay, yeah, it's, yeah, it is really important. I think that, you know, going all the way back to what you said at the very beginning, where figuring out what works for you and understanding you is important and it's So that's why I mentioned like, I'm very self aware. And I'm in therapy. And it's that's part of it is, that's why I went and started therapy was to help with my business and getting things done. Yeah. Yeah, but it's all

Louise Miller 20:14
of it. Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And I think what I would say about the way that I approach things, I am not prescriptive, ever, I will never say you must do it like this, this is what I do, you must do it like that, too. So, you know, in Make It Happen Club, which is my membership, where we do this lovely planning every month, I guide a really gentle, flexible process that people can approach in whatever way they want. You know, I get people thinking in a certain in a certain way, you know, thinking about looking at what's on the list? Is it still important what I'm there is most important, you know, what might you let go of, I invite people to look at their calendar, break things down into small steps, but how people choose to do that is up to them. Obviously, I'm here to support but I will never, never profess to know all of the answers, because there's no such thing. You know? Yeah,

Alyson Lex 21:02
I hear you. Well, one answer, I think you do know is where people can find you learn more about you. And maybe by the time this podcast drops, pick up that to do course, on your website. Just gonna say maybe you should get that up there. But where can people get in touch?

Louise Miller 21:20
Yeah, so I hang out most on LinkedIn. So you can find me over there. Louise Miller is a really rubbish name for social media, because there are a million of us. But if you go to LinkedIn, and go Louise Mila DASCH Betty Liu, which is the name of my business, you'll find me there on LinkedIn. I've also got a free planning workbook, which is a really great starting point of view on a kind of experience, my sort of gentle, spacious, flexible approach to planning, you can find that at Betty Liu online.com, forward slash System to THRIVE. And that is there for you completely free. So go grab that. I'm also really happy to hear from people. So if you want to email me, if anything I've said sparks anything you need anyone have a little chat, my email is Louise at Betty Lou online.com. Always happy to hear from people.

Jennie Wright 22:06
First of all, I'm impressed with the length that you made. So thank you, we'll get that into the shownotes for everybody. So they can get all that we'll put everything that you just said into the show notes. I love the fact that you're in your business name is Betty Lou. My middle name is Luis. And when I was a kid, and my sister and I used to go to play bowling, and she would always put me in as Jenny Lou. Just don't drive me crazy. But I just love

Alyson Lex 22:37
a band. Everybody's name was Lou, my sister in law had a cat. And she was Sophie Lowe. And it's Yeah, I do. Yeah.

Jennie Wright 22:47
Well, we're so glad that you've been here, we're so glad to get these productivity tips. And to help make awareness around how to overcome overwhelm. And just finding a system. I mean, and the great thing that I like about this episode, is we didn't give you an ABC 123. It's not like we told you to go get a pad of paper and write a list. What we talked about was more about figuring out yourself, and knowing what you need, right? So like, I love that, I mean, the first thing that people need to do is when you want to make the list when you grab that paper or the you know, or the stylus or the keyboard. So I mean, sure, take that step. But this is about creating awareness about what works for you. And I like that. I mean, not every not every style fits, and not everything fits like I've known through trial and error. But I like Slack. And that I like asana and I have known through trial and error working with Allison, you know how she works. And we've had to find a lot of compromise together to make things a year it out. Yeah, figure it out. And so that's just yeah, it's just, it's the steps you need to take. It's just the step that doing it, you know, to overcome that first step, I think is important. So we really appreciate you being on Louise. And everything that we talked about today is going to be on system to thrive.com forward slash 160, which is the episode number. This is episode 160. So you can go and find that at system to thrive.com. And also make sure that you connect with Louise and also check out that awesome freebie she the link is going to be in that you know in the show notes for you as well. So thank you so much, Louise for being here. We really appreciate it.

Louise Miller 24:22
Oh, thank you so much. It's been a joy. Thank you for having me.

Jennie Wright 24:25
Thank you. All right, everybody. Thanks so much for being here. We'll be back again soon with another episode. In the meantime, make sure you follow us on like us on social media, wherever it is that you're listening to these podcasts. Make sure you give us a follow there as well. And like back again soon. Take care

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