≡ Menu

Guest post by Cass Mullane, Creative Innovator, Right-Brain Business Plan® Licensed Facilitator, Prosper Creatively, LLC

How are you at dealing with distractions? Do you find your day slipping away because of distractions? On the other hand, perhaps you’re pretty good at managing your time and your attention. Either way, you need to have a few simple techniques in your bag in order to handle the barrage of distractions that you encounter each day.

Distractions fall into two broad categories: self-created and externally created. They can be productive or they can wreak havoc with your ability to get things done. Your job is to have the discipline to choose your distractions and your reactions wisely.

Self-created distractions abound. These are the games you play on your computer, the videos you watch, the social media you check, the wandering, the idle chatter, the breaks for beverages and snacks, the books and magazines, the shopping, day dreaming, whatever you choose to do that uses up your time.

As for externally created distractions, they can include the ping of your phone, an unexpected visitor, meetings, news, rumors and gossip, traffic or the weather. These are distractions that you have no control over, they just happen.

Remember, not all distractions are bad, they are just distractions. While you may not be able to control the arrival of a distraction, you certainly can control your reaction to it and how you deal with it.

Let’s look at games on the computer. This is a self-created distraction that people generally associate with wasting time. One sure fire technique you can use to sensitize yourself to how much time you actually spend on games is to physically track the amount of time you are playing online. When you add it up, it can be shocking. Then, when you look at the pile of work not yet completed, it may be just the kick in the pants that you need to start making a better choice on where to spend your precious time. If you’re not ready to cut out games all together, an effective technique to manage your games is a using a timer. Set the timer and when it goes off you stop and close the game. Period.

But not all distractions involving games are bad. For example, I do some of my best creative business thinking while I’m putting together an online jigsaw puzzle. This is a productive self-created distraction as it frees up one part of my brain to work on the problem while another part is busy doing the puzzle. When I’m done letting my mind work something out, I simply close the puzzle tab so I’m not tempted. Out of sight, out of mind.

Externally created distractions are everywhere, especially in our digital age. Just think about what happens when you hear the phone or laptop ping… you drop everything to check it. Obviously there are times when you need to be on top of a situation, but most of the time the pings are extraneous and they can wait.

Think you’re immune? Probably not. When you see an email notification pop on your screen your eyes are naturally drawn to the movement. You automatically look at it for a moment. The result is a distraction from whatever it was that you were looking at before. The same is true with any notification like an instant message, a Facebook post, an Instagram pic, a tweet, a video, a sound byte, a podcast upload, a blog post… you get the picture.

But who is in charge here? Do those online services decide how you will spend your day or do you decide when you check those services?

One technique you can use to help resolve this problem is to turn off your notifications. You’ll be amazed at how much more you can get done in one uninterrupted hour. After all, your devices are just tools and you’re in charge of how you use your tools.

Dealing with distractions can be as easy as implementing a few simple techniques like setting a timer or closing a tab. All it requires is knowing the technique and having the discipline to use it.

Like many great innovators, Cass Mullane has the unique combination of being a strong creative as well as a strategic thinking MBA. After departing the corporate world in 2004, Cass built a thriving business and personal coaching practice that focuses on accountability and specializes in solid business skills for right brainers and creatives. Tapping into this whole brain approach has helped to make Cass a highly valued coach with an international clientele.

Cass’ new #1 International Bestseller, ­The Cool Stuff Jar: Three Simple Ways to Live a Happier Life, is now out on Kindle! Keep tabs on the book launch and all the fun following the launch by visiting www.CoolStuffJar.com and entering your email. You can also follow Cass on Facebook!

Growing up I was a “good girl” – you know… nice, quiet, polite. I shied away from rocking the boat, dominating a conversation, or speaking up when something felt off. Being the youngest in my nuclear and extended family I dutifully tagged along with what everyone else was doing even when I was upset or uncomfortable.

Even as an adult, I admit that I still find it challenging to assert myself in the moment and I worry waaaay too much about being nice/liked/proper. Perhaps you relate on some level?

In my 15+ years of working with creatives and heart-centered folks, I’ve seen how often we tend to minimize anger by saying we’re merely frustrated or annoyed when really we are seething with rage, especially if we’ve let it build up over time.

Rage about a passive-aggressive comment a colleague made because they didn’t have the courage to say what was really on their mind. Rage about someone copying your creative work or a co-worker taking credit (again!) for something you did. Rage about a client giving you the run around when they owe you a final payment for a project you just delivered with all your heart. Rage about injustices in the world, and the list goes on.

Sure, anger can feel scary for a number of reasons (it seems unsafe, out of control, or too bitchy) AND it can be a catalyst for action and transformation, it can lay the foundation for clear boundaries, requests, and communication, and it can be a powerful rallying cry that helps you find your right peeps.

For creative business leaders, anger is an often untapped yet extremely valuable resource.

So, what has you seeing red?

Here are a few prompts to get you going:

  • What really pisses you off because it feels unfair, insensitive, or just plain wrong?
  • What are you constantly (and angrily!) complaining about because you wish it were done differently? Remember, complaints are usually requests in disguise.
  • What seems totally broken to you but no one is talking about (argggh!!!!!)? Or maybe there’s lots of talk but no action and that makes you even madder (ARGGGH!!!!)
  • Who tends to trigger you? What are they doing and/or saying when you sense your skin crawling?

Journal your thoughts and see what themes or ideas begin to emerge.

You could discover clues to a manifesto that helps to crystalize what you are taking a stand for in your business or the messaging for a new offer. I get mad when I hear very authoritative, arrogant figures lecturing (and boasting – ew!) about how things “should” be done as if that is the one and only way. And I get even more upset when I see the confusion, overwhelm, and shame creatives experience when they then think they’re doing it all “wrong” and are failures. You can see how that inspired the work of the Right-Brain Business Plan ;).

Or perhaps you find the words to better articulate your company policies or guidelines so that you have clearer agreements and boundaries. For example, a few years ago I wrote up a page to explain what people can and can’t do with my materials after we found several unauthorized uses of my work and had received lots of well-intentioned but overreaching requests because people didn’t understand copyright or Intellectual Property.

Maybe you find the courage to speak your mind to a group of friends, colleagues, or even family members and give them feedback about how something landed with you. It may ruffle feathers at first, you may need to deal with some messy fallout, and you just might create deeper trust and connection in the long run.

Let anger be your ally and advocate

In order to transform anger into an ally and advocate, make sure you’re able to identify what is going on for you and take conscious action.

  • Become aware of what anger feels like in your body so that you can easily identify it as it arises. Does your skin feel prickly? Your belly tense? Do you clench your fists or jaw? Does your temperature or heart rate go up? Do you feel like screaming at the top of your lungs?
  • Articulate what exactly you’re angry about. What core value of yours has been violated? What boundary has been crossed? Sort through what’s yours to own and what needs to be cleared up with the other party. That’s much healthier than blaming and putting it all on the other person (she made me soooo mad!)
  • Ask yourself how anger can be your ally. How can your anger provide support and be in service of healing and growth? What is the message it has for you? And what other allies can you enlist to help you take on the issue so you don’t have to go it alone?
  • Advocate for what you believe is right. Speak up in order to make change. Give voice to the unspoken. Be willing to say the thing no one is willing to acknowledge. This all requires tremendous courage. Thankfully, the fiery energy of anger can help you access the boldness and bravery needed to take a stand!

Guest post by Cass Mullane, Creative Innovator, Right-Brain Business Plan® Licensed Facilitator, Prosper Creatively, LLC

Over the years, I’ve closely watched how entrepreneurs handle what life throws them. From death to illness to fire to accidents to theft to bad judgement, everyone has to deal with the unexpected.

It’s tough when you’re the primary breadwinner in your entrepreneur household and you have to stop work or to step away for a period of time. For many of you, when you don’t work, there are no revenues. In addition, that creates a bubble in your sales funnel and it can take several weeks or even several months to work through that bubble and get back to normal. Knowing an interruption is a likely to occur should make you put planning for the unexpected on your Must Do, Non-Negotiable List. But, then again, it might be one of those things you think you can always do later.

Then, ‘later’ happens, usually without warning.

Many of you seem to think that you’re immune to business disruption. You’re not! Disruption just occurs, and it’s often outside your control. You are left standing there like a deer in the headlights not having a clue what to do next. That’s why it’s called disruption. The good news is that a little preparation can go a long way toward a healthy recovery from being away from your business.

So how adaptable are you? What are you doing now that you can leverage later when something happens that keeps you out of work? How’s your staffing? How are you set up to generate future sales? What do you have in place that you know will run without you physically being present? Do you have a financial safety net in place?

These are questions that you must answer. If you have not gotten around to it, you’d better.

On a small, easier scale, think about what you would do if your phone got stolen along with your calendar, contacts, emails, notes, files, messages, apps and photos. Is your data safely backed up somewhere or are you assuming that you’ll always have access to it on your phone or your laptop and you’ll get around to syncing and backing them up later? What about when your laptop crashes and you cannot recover your data. Where can you go to find all that sensitive, essential business and personal information?

Aside from data loss, what happens if you have a major life event like an illness, an accident or you need to help a parent and you’re out of work for a longer period? How do you continue to generate revenues to cover your bills and other expenses when you’re not physically at work? How do you ensure you business continues to run?

Here are some tips:
1. Plan how your business operations can continue without you.
2. Make sure you’ve adequately backed up your critical data.
3. Hire appropriate contractors to manage certain areas of your business and focus your energies on doing what you do best.
4. Set aside 10-30% of every receipt for your financial safety net.
5. Make sure you have automated some of your systems so clients and customers can continue to utilize your services and buy your products while you’re away.
6. Practice “what if” drills to see how your plan might actually work during a business disruption.
7. Learn to expect change and to embrace it.

Like many great innovators, Cass Mullane has the unique combination of being a strong creative as well as a strategic thinking MBA. After departing the corporate world in 2004, Cass built a thriving business and personal coaching practice that focuses on accountability and specializes in solid business skills for right brainers and creatives. Tapping into this whole brain approach has helped to make Cass a highly valued coach with an international clientele.

Cass’ International bestseller, ­The Cool Stuff Jar: Three Simple Ways to Live a Happier Life, is now out on Kindle! Keep tabs on the book launch and all the fun following the launch by visiting www.CoolStuffJar.com and entering your email. You can also follow Cass on Facebook!

Guest post by Cass Mullane, Creative Innovator, Right-Brain Business Plan® Licensed Facilitator, Prosper Creatively, LLC

When you think of a playground you may envision a small place with a swing set, a teeter totter and maybe a merry-go-round. Or, perhaps you live in a community that has created a larger space that may be the size of a city block with lots of equipment and areas to play. While the joy experienced in a small playground can be delightful, imagine the possibilities in a larger, more diverse playground.

The same holds true in your mental playground. If you have a small pleasant place to play, that’s fine. You are comfortable with the equipment and are very familiar with what’s possible there. But what if you pushed the boundaries out a little… or a lot? Imagine what your mental playground could be like if you removed the boundaries altogether. That would be an exceptional space that could provide you with endless ideas and possibilities to explore.

Today I’m going to challenge you to expand your mental playground and to develop new ways of thinking.

Creatives have many ways to stimulate new thinking. One simple way is to take two different materials that they are not used to using together and figure out how to combine them into one piece.

You can translate that into a good exercise for anyone wanting to expand their thinking by taking two seemingly unrelated things and figuring out a way to connect them. For example, how might you connect the need to water your garden with a commercial building?

While you’re pondering that, pay close attention to how your mind is working. At first you might be thinking, “What the heck is she talking about?” Then, as you accept that anything is possible, you’ll relax and feel your mind expand to start considering the possibilities and the various ways you could connect those ideas. Ultimately you may have a free for all in the ideas department, coming up with the laugh-out-loud hilarious ideas along with the ‘oooh, that might actually work’ ideas, regarding each with equal consideration. It is a playground after all!

Several years ago someone told me that I had to have a traditional office for my business coaching practice and a separate studio for my art because the clientele was totally different and I could not combine business and art. Had I kept my mental playground small, I might not have come up with the way to connect my two worlds because I would have accepted someone else’s limitations. Instead, I thought, “There has to be a way to do this,” and I went to work expanding my mental playground until I came up with a way to connect my business and my art.

Today I work in a studio that I call “The Playground” which is located in Cottonwood Center for the Arts, a building that houses 70+ artists working in many mediums. A simple walk around the hallways serves as great stimulus for expanding my mental playground.

While in my studio I focus on helping clients navigate their businesses AND I feed my creative side simply by looking up from my computer screen. I am surrounded by art and art supplies which stimulate me and tweak my brain, continually reminding me that possibilities abound, workarounds abound, solutions abound, innovations abound. All I need to do is expand my mental playground to find them.

What are you doing to expand your mental playground?

Like many great innovators, Cass Mullane has the unique combination of being a strong creative as well as a strategic thinking MBA. After departing the corporate world in 2004, Cass built a thriving business and personal coaching practice that focuses on accountability and specializes in solid business skills for right brainers and creatives. Tapping into this whole brain approach has helped to make Cass a highly valued coach with an international clientele.

Cass’ International bestseller, ­The Cool Stuff Jar: Three Simple Ways to Live a Happier Life, is now out on Kindle! Keep tabs on the book launch and all the fun following the launch by visiting www.CoolStuffJar.com and entering your email. You can also follow Cass on Facebook!

Relax Into Innovation

Netflix did not invent movies, they innovated how you watch movies. Steve Jobs did not invent the phone, he innovated the phone. Jennifer Lee did not invent business plans, she innovated how they are created.

There is such an important difference between innovating and inventing. Knowing the difference can make the idea of innovation much less intimidating. And when the intimidation factor is reduced, you can relax into innovation.

When you think about it, you are all capable of innovation because, fundamentally, you are all creative. Whether simply solving a problem using something in a new way (like blending paint with baby wipes) or completely changing up how something is done (like building a viable visual business plan), you are tapping your creativity to come up with innovation.

What else do you do that is innovative? I know many of you will immediately jump to the response, “Nothing.” I’d like to challenge you to look at what you do more carefully and look at what you do that others might think is different or creative or unusual. There may be innovation awaiting discovery.

A great example for me is my Cool Stuff Jar. I’ve had a Cool Stuff Jar for decades and it is a natural part of my daily routine. Early on, I didn’t think of it as odd or unusual, it was totally normal for me and I assumed that everyone had something similar. However, when I showed it to an online audience at a Right-Brain Video Summit a few years ago they responded in a way that surprised me. I had to take a step back and look at the idea of my jar a bit more analytically. It was then that I realized that what I’d done was I’d taken a little step to the side and that the Cool Stuff Jar was an innovation.

As a creative, innovation is more natural to you and you may not even recognize when you’re being innovative because it feels so natural. I had no clue that my Cool Stuff Jar was unusual, and now it has turned into a best selling book, a whole new coaching program and a restructuring of my practice so I can focus on helping others live a Cool Stuff Jar life.

What are you doing or have you done that’s innovative? Do you have a different way of using creative materials? Are you known for delivering workshops with a fresh look at content? Do you have an unusual use of an everyday product? What do you do that no one else does?

Once you’ve taken a look and identified a few things that you do differently, the first thing you need to do is celebrate your creative side. Give yourself a pat on the back and let your confidence go up a couple notches… you’ve earned it.

The second thing you need to do is think about how you can continue to enhance and strengthen your creative muscles. You can incorporate creative exercises into your daily routine, do an online challenge, join a group, whatever suits you. The idea is to make sure you’re continuously training your creative brain. The reason is not just because it’s fun, but because it puts you in that remarkable space where you are more open to relaxing into innovation.

Like many great innovators, Cass Mullane has the unique combination of being a strong creative as well as a strategic thinking MBA. After departing the corporate world in 2004, Cass built a thriving business and personal coaching practice that focuses on accountability and specializes in solid business skills for right brainers and creatives. Tapping into this whole brain approach has helped to make Cass a highly valued coach with an international clientele.

Cass’ International bestseller, ­The Cool Stuff Jar: Three Simple Ways to Live a Happier Life, is now out on Kindle! Keep tabs on the book launch and all the fun following the launch by visiting www.CoolStuffJar.com and entering your email. You can also follow Cass on Facebook!

Where Is Off?

calendar

I was at a presentation not long ago and the speaker asked attendees to turn off their mobile devices. One of the attendees leaned over to his friend and said, “There are so many options anymore that I can’t find Off!”

Has that ever happened to you? You find yourself going to your device for one thing and 45 minutes later you lift up your head and realize that you are miles from where you started and you barely remember what it was that you first came in to look for.

There are so many options, distractions, pop ups and rabbit holes that assault you every time you log on. Your attention is diverted constantly and you find that it is really hard to stay on task.

People say your attention span is getting shorter.

I don’t think your attention span is getting shorter. I think you’re letting someone tell you that your attention span is getting shorter and that you’re accepting this as a fact.

What is really happening is that you’re developing the bad habit of not making yourself focus for any length of time. You’ve gotten lazy. You’ve let people tell you that you can’t, so you don’t.

This is particularly troubling because it means you’ve given away your power to think beyond the superficial and, more importantly, to think independently and creatively. What you should do is choose to spend some time intentionally developing your brain’s massive power.

Your brain is a muscle and it needs to be exercised to stay healthy. When you do not go beneath the surface and exercise your critical thinking abilities, your brain atrophies. When you blindly accept what you’re fed as the truth, and do not apply independent thought, your brain atrophies. When you do not bother to flex your creative muscles, your brain atrophies.

The ability to discern what’s important to the task at hand and what’s complete fluff is the skill you need to be developing, not the ability to jump like a flea from stimulus to stimulus without delving deeper. The ability to take an idea and fully explore it from multiple perspectives is what you need to be developing. The ability to find creative solutions to problems is what you should be developing.

The quickest way to do all this is to find the Off button … and use it!

When you do it’s like lifting your head up out of a fog. You open your eyes and reorient yourself to where you are sitting or standing, to the sounds and smells around you. To what’s going on around you and where you fit in.

Making a habit of regularly finding the Off button allows you not just to maintain your sanity, but to immerse yourself in the sheer joy of being able to think clearly each day.

So don’t settle for the status quo and don’t let someone else determine what you and your brain are capable of. Prove them wrong by turning off your device, then fully engaging in whatever the task at hand is. You’ll find that you will engage your brain in critical thinking, you will have independent thought and you will spark your imagination and your creativity.

Like many great innovators, Cass Mullane has the unique combination of being a strong creative as well as a strategic thinking MBA. After departing the corporate world in 2004, Cass built a thriving business and personal coaching practice that focuses on accountability and specializes in solid business skills for right brainers and creatives. Tapping into this whole brain approach has helped to make Cass a highly valued coach with an international clientele. Cass’ book, ­The Cool Stuff Jar: Three Simple Ways to Live a Happier Life, will be out at the end of the month! Keep tabs on the book launch by liking her page on Facebook!

A New Normal

calendar

It’s a very exciting time for me right now as my book is to be published in a few short weeks! Yippee! I’ve been laser focused on this project for a while and now I’ve got to shift back into my regular business operations… or do I?

When you’re fully immersed in a big project, you naturally exclude other things from your field of vision in order to get the project done. This is great as it can really help you get your priorities straight. Then it’s easy to clear your plate of the things that really are not important or can be done by someone else.

That being said, sometimes it’s a challenge as you try to get back in to the normal swing of things. You might forget what was next on the to do list, you might find your priorities have significantly changed, you might even forget what your life was like before the project. The thing to remember is, all you’re doing is adjusting to a new normal.

When the manuscript went off to the book designer and while I await the proofs to make final tweaks, I have to get back into the rhythm of my business. The thing is, it’s all different now. I’ve made changes in my coaching practice, I’ve added new workshops, I’ve added retreats, I’ve changed my priorities and I find myself looking at a whole new way of making a living. I certainly did not expect this when I decided to make the push to finish the manuscript and get this puppy published.

When you think about it, you adapt to changes routinely as a human being. You are in a constant state of flux with everything from the way you think about things to simply responding to the weather. What happens is you adapt naturally and don’t really notice that you’re changing. However, when a change is triggered by something big, like a job change, a new baby or moving to a new location, you tend to notice that your behavior is different. It feels like you’re looking at the world through different lenses.

This is the opportunity to pay really close attention to what will become your new normal. After all, you are in charge of you. You are in charge of how you think and how you feel. You get to choose how you respond and what you decide is important now, what can slide off the plate. What a great opportunity to start fresh!

Naturally, when you adapt to a new normal it affects those around you like your clients, colleagues, friends and family. You should be aware that while you may be well down the road to adapting to a new normal, they need to go through the same process of adapting to a new you.

The next time you feel yourself going through a change, remember that you are in charge… what will you choose to create as your new normal?

Cass Mullane is an artist with an MBA. Cass Mullane’s calm, comfortable approach consistently yields positive results for clients. Her business and personal coaching practice, www.ProsperCreatively.com, specializes in delivering solid left brain business skills to right brainers and creatives in a fun, visual way. She’s a best selling author, a contemporary abstract artist and creator of the Cool Stuff Jar™ Retreats.You can also visit Cass on Facebook!

Featured in:
The Right-Brain Business Plan®

The Right-Brain Business Plan®