Some of your struggles and how to overcome them!

A few weeks ago I exchanged e-mails with a scientist who’s been newly appointed as an assistant professor at a University in the USA. She shared with me the struggles she gets to deal with on an day-to-day basis. And there were plenty of them.

Many of those struggles were specific to her position. There was however the whole paragraph that listed struggles that are often experienced by scientists at all levels and stages of their career. This is what the woman wrote to me:

“The other things I struggle with are more universal.  Balancing time at home with my baby along with the work load.  Keeping my relationship with hubby healthy.  Struggle focusing while at the office.  Getting distracted by visitors to the office, and the lure of email!  Not asking for help enough.  Not having a good system of organization.  Powerful internal negative voice.  Very self-critical.”

Whether you are a masters or a PhD student, a postdoc or a young staff, you would surely be familiar with some of those. These challenges come into our work and life experience simply because of our human nature. And by increasing your awareness, introducing new healthier habits and rituals, and by being persistent with it, you can overcome those struggles.

Overcoming those challenges would do wonders to your productivity and work/life balance. It is worth making the effort!

Today I want to offer you a compilation of articles/videos I have already written and published on these topics. And I will make sure to follow-up with some more articles covering the aspects that are not yet represented in my blog.

Hope you find this collection useful and it will inspire you to take this first step and start changing how you approach your work and life reality.

Struggle focusing while at the office.  Getting distracted by visitors to the office, and the lure of email!  

How to thrive as a research student. Part1: what not to do

Dealing with addiction to email

Powerful internal negative voice.  Very self-critical.

Are you making this mistake when working on a big project? [VIDEO]

Dealing with self-criticism [VIDEO]

Not asking for help enough.

I hear this one so often from scientists!! A blog post is due on this.

Not having a good system of organization.

This can refer to organising your desk, papers, e-mails. I also hear from scientists that they don’t have a good system for organising themselves!

These are the most powerful techniques I teach, and are a good place for you to start organising yourself:

Weekly Summit: how to become in charge of your week

Morning ritual: Instead of checking Facebook

Evening ritual: Celebrating your accomplishments: a key to your success

Balancing time at home with the baby/family along with the work load.

How to manage it all [VIDEO]

Keeping the relationships in my life healthy.

What to do when a relationship gets difficult

A few more ideas on how to overcome most common struggles:


“Must. Stop. Procrastinating.”

Being overwhelmed with too many projects and not able to decide which one to work on NOW even if you’ve got some time on your hands. Ending up wasting time

How to find time for two important projects during one busy week

Seeming lack of inspiration

How to catch an inspiration

Not being able to say NO to others and finding yourself doing many things that you are not sure why you are doing

Saying No and setting boundaries

General feeling of overwhelm

Download my poster on overcoming overwhelm: 5 top tips to stay peaceful and productive

Your Productivity for Scientists assignment for this week:

Do yourself a favour, pick one issue from the above list that you are having right now. Read the corresponding article/watch the video, and do the steps suggested!

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Posted in Change, Choice, Commitment, Creativity, Discipline, Habits & Practices, How to, Increase productivity, Mindsets, Productivity, Ritual, Stop procrastinating, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Dealing with self-criticism [VIDEO]

(click the image above to watch the video)

Just recently I’ve received many e-mail from you and I’ve heard from you about your self-criticism. The e-mails were from PhD students, postdocs, and even the newly appointed staff. It looks like this issue is common for different levels and stages of the research career.

You’ve been sharing with me that it makes you feel bad when you start loathing yourself, it stops you in your tracks; some of you said it is paralysing you. It is clearly not good for your productivity, it is not good for you, it prevents you from making further progress.

If it is no good for you and it is no use to you, it would be actually useful … to let it go! And why do we keep doing it? It’s like any bad habit, it’s stuck to us, and it requires some effort to let go of a bad habit. The good news is that you CAN dissolve this bad habit and replace it with a better habit that will actually support you as well as help you make progress and become more productive.

The good thing is that you are already aware of this habit, since you wrote to me about it. You are aware that you have these self-criticising thoughts. Once you become aware, what you can also do is to catch yourself in the moment of doing it. And today I want to suggest to you what you can do INSTEAD of your usualy self-criticism.

I am particularly excited to talk about it today because during the past weekend I went to attend a summit called “I can do it!” which was led by Louise Hay and her publishing company, Hay House. She was on stage – she is 86 years old woman who radiates energy and love – and literally said: “Let go of all self-criticism”.

And today I am going to share with you, HOW to do it. I bought the book “Heart Thoughts” by Louise Hay, got it signed by Louise – it is so wonderfully illustrated – so I read it with pleasure every morning, and want to share some inspirations from this book with you.

Once you become aware of the self-criticism, and you also catch yourself in the moment of doing it, what you can say is: “No, thank you, you are no use to me” and let it go. Now start gently pondering on new thoughts that are better and more positive. I would like to share some of these thoughts with you. These can be as simple as “I accept and approve of myself”, “I am doing my best”. Another one is “I am wonderful and I am proud of myself”. You can up it to: “I love being me”. “I am willing to see only my magnificence”. “I am willing to see my good side” – because often we don’t. “I am willing to see the good things I do” – because often we don’t.

Some of these thoughts might sounds silly to you or not true. It is just because you are not used to them, you have not said anything like this to yourself in a very long time. How wonderful it would be if you can become your internal supporter and your internal cheer leader.

Of course if you decide to work with me privately and go through one of my coaching programs, this is what I will do FOR you, I will cheer for you, I will support you. And today I am sharing with you such a good way to create an internal supporter inside you. You spend most of your time with yourself, so imagine what difference it would make if you would be supporting and encouraging yourself rather than doing this self-criticism.

The thing is that these new thoughts will be as true or even truer than your old negative self-criticising thoughts. A PhD student – one of my private clients – shared with me that she has been stuck with her PhD and not doing as much as she thought she should; she thought she is taking SO much time to complete her PhD, she is disappointing herself and her parents. The last one turned out not to be true, because her parents never said anything like this, they’ve been supportive.

And also when we calculated how much she spent on her PhD – she worked on it part-time at first and then full-time – and when we converted it to full-time, it was only 2 years and 9 months. A lot of PhD students require longer than this, and submit towards the end of the fourth year (4 years is the usual University deadline for a PhD study here in the UK). So actually time-wise she was doing ok, and her self-criticising thoughts were not even true.

Listen to the new thoughts that I suggested today for you and start gently introducing them instead of those old negative self-criticising thoughts. And what is also going to happen – on top of you becoming more effective and increasing your productivity – you will be able to take someone else’s criticism and you will be able to look critically at your work in a much better way. Because now you know you accept yourself exactly as you are and when you hear criticism you can now say: “This is great! This is really useful, I am going to go now and apply it to make my work much better”.

Your Productivity for Scientists assignment for this week:

1)      Become aware of your self-criticism, and catch yourself when you do it. This is probably going to be when you feel bad and when you have those self-criticising thoughts going round and round in your head: “I am not doing it well enough”, and “Yet again I failed”.

2)      Say: “No thank you” to those thoughts and start introducing these new more gentle more supportive thoughts: “I love and accept myself exactly as I am”, “I approve of myself”, and “I am wonderful and proud of myself”.

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Posted in Acceptance, Change, Choice, Habits & Practices, Increase productivity, Making better choices, Mindsets, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

What to do when a relationship gets difficult

“How can she do this?….”
“It really hurts what he said today”
“This behaviour is unacceptable, I am so angry!”

Do these expressions sound familiar? It’s the kinds of thoughts some of us have from time to time, I certainly do.

We tend to get angry and frustrated with what other people do and say. And it can negatively affect our mood and the relationship with the person, be that your partner, your parent, your child, or your colleague at work.

I used to get upset and be overtaken by the swarm of negative thoughts for days if someone said or did something that hurt me. Often I would say something hurtful to the other person in return, and after everything was “back to normal” I’d wish I had not said this.

It’s only recently that I have started approaching the relationships and interactions with other people on a more conscious level, and actually try to respond to the situation rather than react.

Below I would like to share a few thoughts that can be helpful in a difficult situation with any kind of relationship. Pick one or several of the suggestions if any of those resonate with you and try them out next time you get angry and frustrated in the communication with a relative or a colleague.

1. Listen to the other person. Listen with intend to understand not to respond.

2. If the person is emotional, reflect their feelings back to them.

3. Look at the person’s needs not their behaviour.

4. Accept the other person for what they are.

5. Find positive aspects of their personality. Tell them about those.

6. Find good things they do. Tell them and thank them for this.

7. Respond back – not react.

8. Set some ground rules about your interaction with the other person.

9. Let go of blaming the other person. Let go of blaming yourself.

10. Don’t take things personally. Imagine that their anger is a reflection of the difficulties in their own life and not a description of you.

11. Imagine talking to the other person as if nothing bad ever happened between you two. Be absolutely present in the moment. Drop your story of what has happened between you and the person you are talking to.

12. Communicate with openness and kindness, show respect.

13. Pause, breathe, and remember that they are doing the best they can.

14. Feel the feeling you are having right now and ask yourself how do you want to feel instead? What do you need to do for this?

15. Accept the situation as it is, and think of your following action from the place of acceptance.

16. Be the knowing, not the reaction.

17. The relationship is given to you not to make you happy but to make you conscious (Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now)

18. Create space for the other person to express themselves.

19. If you think “the other person should be more understanding” watch this video of Byron Katie, the author of The Work.

20. When you find yourself angry at another person and then regretting and blaming yourself, forgive yourself. Now. You are doing the best you can. Look at your own needs rather than your behaviour. Ask yourself: what do I need right now to feel better? Then go and take care of it 🙂

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How to make an empowering decision [VIDEO]

(click on the above image to view the video)

There is a good chance that right now you are facing making a decision. I myself am going through the work of getting clear and making a decision right now, so I thought I’ll share with you a few thoughts.

We are going to talk about making big decisions as well as small decisions. Often we need to make small decisions, and on a day-to-day basis we tend to spend a lot of time and energy to try to figure out what is the best thing to do. But the thing is that it is really a tiny decision, and what we don’t realise is that most things don’t really matter, they don’t make a difference. No matter what you pick, it is going to make a very little difference if any.

What you can do is to pick one or the other, and save yourself time and energy and it will have a very little impact on the result.

I am telling you this, but I used to be someone who could not answer anything when asked: “Do you want an orange juice or an apple juice?” I would just hang in the air – I was so indecisive! This was about 10-12 years ago. I remember I was a PhD student and dating a guy, who is now my husband, and he would ask me something like this and I would not be able to give an answer. This was because I was so out of touch with my own desires and feelings.

And of course to get in touch with your own preferences, desires, and wishes would help you to make decisions easier. But really you can start with picking just one or the other and reminding yourself that it does not really matter which one.

I shared this with one of my clients a couple of weeks ago and he applied this approach to buying something on internet. He just picked one thing, and maybe it was not the cheapest, but then the price difference between various items was small anyway and he saved so much time and energy for himself, so it really worked.

Gradually you will get in touch with your own preferences more and more, and this is what I’ve been going through in recent years. Especially looking at my children I could see that they always know exactly what they want and have no problems deciding and saying what they want. I think this is because they are not disconnected with their preferences like many of us are!

This is everything I wanted to say about making small decisions that you are faced to do on a day-to-day basis. I gave you an example of buying something, but you can also apply this to something at your work and in your lab, and save yourself lots of time and energy.

Speaking about big decisions – some of them are life changing decisions or career changing decisions – a lot of us are obsessed with making the RIGHT decision. And of course the right decision is the best thing you can do. But the truth is that making a wrong decision is the second best thing you can do. And not making any decision is the worst thing you can do. Just think about this for a minute. And this is because if you don’t make a decision, you don’t move, you don’t evolve, you don’t change. Absence of change equals stagnation, recession: you don’t grow and you are not really living.

So to make a wrong decision is OK! And in many cases you can amend it or steer it in a slightly different direction. Or many new opportunities or wonderful things can come up or open up even if the decision was wrong for this particular aspect.

I’d like you to start thinking about it that making a wrong decision is the second best thing you can do and become more comfortable with that.

I cannot really teach you how to make the right decision or what is the right decision for you to make, but what I can share with you is how you can make this decision that is in front of you from a more empowering place. You can make a decision that is going to empower you, and you are not going to constantly regret it and ask yourself “why did I make this decision?”

When we are faced with making a decision, we often look at our current situation, at the people who surround us currently, at our current circumstances; we listen to the thoughts and feelings we have currently. What I want to suggest you do instead is you imagine the person you want to become as the result of this decision, imagine the circumstances you want to have around you when you make this decision. Imagine the feelings you want to feel after you make this decision, imagine the thought you want to be thinking after you make this decision, imagine the people you want to be surrounded by after you make this decision.

Start approaching making this decision not from the place where you are right now, but from the place where you want to be, or from the perspective of that person you want to become. And this is going to help you to make an empowering decision!

Your productivity assignment for this week:

  1. For the little decisions you face on a day-to-day basis, remind yourself that most things don’t really matter. Make a quick decision, picking one or the other, because it is not going to affect the result much, saving your time and energy.
  2. Remind yourself that only few crucial things really matter, and focus your time and energy on them. And when you face making decisions for the things that really matter – in your work and life – then remind yourself to make this decision not from the place where you are right now, but from the place where you want to be, and from the perspective of the person you want to become.

If you are ready to start working with me more closely and personally, today would be a good day to join me in the “Heal Yourself and Grow” coaching program. And by the way in this program we discuss a lot about decision-making. By joining me today you can still get this wonderful bonus I am offering: Effortless manifestation kit! Click here for details.

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Posted in Choice, Creativity, How to, Making better choices, Personal Growth, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to feel confident during networking at a conference or a meeting

Do you feel nervous when thinking about networking at the upcoming conference or meeting? Do you feel anxiety about talking to scientists you don’t know well? You think they know much more than you. You are anxious they might think your questions are silly. You worry they will judge you, you feel like you are at an exam. You lose your confidence and feel like you are not good enough.

I have coached two of my private clients on this topic this past week! They both are going to attend a meeting this and next week and shared with me the above concerns. So I thought I’ll give you some of the tips that I shared with my private clients.

First of all let’s look at some worries you have about networking with other scientists you are hoping to do during a coffee break or lunch. You think they know much more than you do, that they will judge you, they’ll think you question is silly, and that they are much more confident than you. And this makes you feel less confident and often prevent from having a conversation all together.

The thing is that these thoughts are most probably not true. Most probably you know more about your area of research than that other person because you are the expert in your area. Yes, even if you are a PhD student. Most probably, the other person won’t think of judging you or your questions, as they have other things to worry about.

And even if this other person appears to be confident and know a lot, they might be also having their own worries of being judged or be nervous about networking. I know scientists who do appear quite confident and give engaging invited talks at conferences, but tend to get a bit nervous about having conversations during breaks with people they don’t know well.

As I have illustrated, your thoughts about other people judging you, being more confident and know more than you are probably untrue. So, it does not make sense to worry about something that is not even true!

Let’s now see how you can help yourself to start building your confidence for your next networking opportunity. You can start doing it by choosing to have other thoughts that are more helpful to you.

The following thoughts are much kinder and will help you feel less worried and more relaxed:

I am safe — I am clear — I am creative — I am an expert in my area — I am doing my best — I approve of myself

These are true or truer than the negative thoughts we discussed above and will help you make a shift to a more confident feeling.

Now that you mind is not preoccupied with worries about people judging you and how you will appear in front of them you can actually focus on listening to what this other person is saying. And this is the key to a being a good networker!

When you listen attentively, really listen soaking up their every word, being absolutely present in the moment and focused on a conversation – instead of worrying about people judging you – you will be able to hold a better conversation. When it is your turn to speak, you can then simply say: “This sounds interesting, tell me more about it” or “You mentioned this and that, can you explain what you meant by that?” You attention to the details will lead you through the conversation and make it deeper and more meaningful.

When it is your turn to speak about your area of research focus on making it understandable and clear, and on conveying your passion for what you do (If you are not passionate about what you do – we need to talk! ;-)) In addition, feel kindness towards this person, after all they might be nervous or having a hard time.

Your Productivity for Scientists assignment:

Getting ready to network at a conference or a meeting, start thinking more positive and kind thoughts than you are having right now. Focus on feeling safe, clear, that you are doing your best and you are the expert in your area. During the conversation, become present in the moment, paying attention to what the person is saying instead of worrying about what you are going to reply or what this person is going to think about your question. This will take you further through a more meaningful conversation!

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