Author Archives: DivaFish Business Coaching

Project Clean Sink… Revisited.

Category : Coaching , Organization

Ah Project Clean Sink…. This has been sitting on my whiteboard for a few months now. Here’s the scoop. I wear several hats (don’t we all?) and several of those hats have an email account or list attached to them. Each one has its own bunch of email groups, newsletter signups, account notifications, etc. that accumulate quickly and fill up my inbox. There are a number of reasons why this built up… I had one account forwarding to my main account… I filed one and the other backed up with the duplicate… I switched to gmail and wasn’t familiar with the tagging system vs. my familiar Outlook folders… It has been an incredibly full year… blah blah blah blah blah… Bottom line is this (and it is challenging to write this in public):

I have 15,875 email messages in my inbox and 6,575 unread messages. No kidding. Beautiful divisibles of five at this very second.

Whew. I said that and lived. My friend and talented writer, Jen Arbo, has something like 9 whole messages in her inbox. And that is on a busy day… I can’t even imagine what that is like.

I did take a stab at deleting a bunch of them this spring and called it Project Clean Sink. There is a great website about cleaning your house by Flylady. The premise is that you start with a sparkly clean sink and make sure that each evening, you clean your sink out. There is something about starting the day with a clean sink that just makes me smile. So I thought the same principle would apply to my inbox. I spent some time cleaning out my inbox, marking unsolicited mail spam, removing myself from newsletters that I never read, moving my social/art related newsletters to a different place so that work related stuff didn’t get lost. I also cancelled the loop of forwarding emails between accounts that created unnecessary duplication. O. And stopped Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter notifications for things that my phone notified me of anyhow… done. Believe it or not, I probably reduced my inbox at that time by about 2500 messages.

It has been a very full summer and now it is time to address the rest of the inbox. One of the reasons that I didn’t complete my spring project was that I had very black and white terms: either my inbox was clean or not clean. This time, I am giving myself until the end of the year to have this finished. I am allocating one hour per work day for the month of December to work on this. On average that means cleaning up 550 messages per day.

So here is my plan.

  • Tap into what it is about a clean email box that is important to me (being able to clearly see what needs to be done, make sure important emails don’t get buried, help me be timely with my responses, let go of clutter in this area)
  • Clutter… get clear on what is it that keeps me holding on to the email (fear of deleting something that I might need later – really? I am not dealing in life or death here)
  • Have accountability on what I want to get done with this and by when (uh huh. It isn’t good enough to think about a Clean Sink. You have to do some scrubbing. Publishing this is a  huge accountability. And I will ask the above said Jen to hold me accountable. We are overdue for a tea and chat fest so that will be a good deadline.
  • Visualize – well, part of the visual for me is that I have a new laptop from my amazing husband, Glen Murray. He wanted me to have a new tool for my business as well as part of our grand migration back to Mac. I want my email to be cleaned up so that my laptop is running clean and sleek. I also have moved my business to be paperless so cleaning up the inbox is a virtual extension of that.
  • Celebrate – What will I do to acknowledge the hard work that goes into creating a clean  inbox? My tea with Jen will be part of it. And moving to my new computer will be another one. Hmmm.. to close the door to the full inbox, I will also be getting rid of my old computer. Buh bye.

Going forward:

I say yes to:

  • being in control of my inbox
  • organization
  • efficiency

I say no to:

  • Clutter
  • Being passive about my inbox
  • Spam

What is the Project Clean Sink that you want to tackle? Want to join me in busting through a project?

The Gift of Pain

Here is an article I wrote for Dr. Melissa Carr‘s newsletter about pain:

Now you may be thinking, “Isn’t that just like a coach to try to spin the good into every situation…” Pain is one way that our bodies communicate with us that things aren’t going well. Regardless of the type of pain – physical, mental, emotional, spiritual or how you experience it – there is information there.

The gift of pain is an awareness that all is not right in our world. It’s like the fire alarm going off on one floor of a multi-story building. One alternative is to close off the floor and not go there anymore. Another is to turn off the alarm and continue business as usual. Or run around yelling about how the building is on fire. Or sit in hopelessness that the fire is probably going to spread and burn down the whole place. Or call in the firefighters… Or an electrician to examine the wiring… Or…

How we are with our pain is related to what we do about it. Emotional pain is often ignored or suppressed. The expression “Time heals all wounds” gives hope that the sharpness of the pain will fade and soon disappear. The thing is that unless the cause of the pain is resolved, it will eventually pop back up again, often when we least expect it and with a vengeance. Sometimes with physical pain, we take painkillers or try to ‘push through it’, hoping that our body will resolve the issue on its own. Or we can choose to seek out the help of a specialist, like a doctor or TCM, to find the source of the injury and heal it.

You get to choose. Coaching is one way to really feel your area(s) of pain, explore the possibilities and then choose how you want to address it.

The ultimate gift of pain is the opportunity to connect with ourselves, choose a path and seek healing.

In Joy,

School or career change?

Category : Career , Coaching

Here is another guest post as part of the BNI Amplify’s Health and Wellness team on the topic of Back to School. If you are thinking of a career change or possibly retraining for a new career, consider how you will be sure you are headed in the right direction. Read my post here.

Making the most of your vacation

Check out my guest post on creating a fulfilling vacation on the BNI Amplify Health and Wellness team blog.

Staying in character

Vancouver is known for many things:
– Spectacular scenery (rainforest, desert, mountains, ocean – we have it all!)
– Hosting world class events like the 2009 World Police and Fire Games, the 2006 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships and the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics
– Friendly people
– Close proximity to 3 local mountains for after-work ski/snowboarding/mountain biking as well as a quick drive to world famous Whistler Blackcomb ski resort
– Having the busiest sea port in Canada
– The nickname “Hollywood North” for being 3rd largest film production centre in North America

Last week, Vancouver hit the headlines for another reason: post-Stanley Cup riots. This was the Vancouver I saw from my balcony:

Vancouver riot fire

Vancouver post-Stanley Cup riot fire

Now there are ongoing debates as to who is at fault, how it could have been prevented, what is the fall out and kids these days… what really caught my ear was hearing people that were involved in looting, setting vehicles on fire, destroying public property and/or taunting police say that their behavior was “out of character” for them.

The curious juxtaposition for me is that Vancouver is home to a vibrant film, television and theater scene. We create great entertainment here and part of why it works is that actors create characters that we believe.  There is an acting term called “staying in character”. This means that the actor responds and acts in the way that his or her character would. Instead of seeing an actor going through the motions of a line or action, we, the audience, see the character. When an actor breaks character, or doesn’t act in the way that their character would, the effect on the audience is that they are no longer able to suspend their disbelief and believe in the character.

This brings up some great coaching questions:

– where are you “out of character” or out of integrity?

– what does it feel like when you are “in character” or in your integrity?

– what stands out about your character?

– what would you like to strengthen about your character?

– what does “I’m sorry” mean to you?

In Joy,


Making decisions: Apples to Oranges

Decision Making Process with a Personal CoachNot all fruit are created equal.

Decisions in grown up life are rarely simple. They tend to be less of “blue cup or red cup” and more like move to Toronto for a great job opportunity or start your own business here. I call these “Apples to Oranges” decisions.

Coaching can help you through the decision making process by taking “Apples to Oranges” options and helping you figure out what are the root factors in the decision and how they weigh in importance to you. In a sense, it helps you quantify what can be a very strong emotional decision.

If you are facing an “Apples to Oranges” decision in your life or business, consider how coaching may help. For more details on my “Apples to Oranges” package, click here.

Practice makes perfect???

Ever listened to a little kid practicing the piano?

I remember diligently (OK, that is a rosy reflection. Begrudgingly…) doing my 30 minutes of practice a day. Well, most days. I would play the same song – usually as fast as my fingers would go – until the timer beeped and I bolted off the piano bench to play or read or whatever.

The thing about practicing the same thing over and over is that sometimes I would learn a song and learn one note incorrectly or with a weird rhythm. But I wasn’t able to hear the part that clunked. I bet my neighbors did, though! When I trucked into my piano lesson each week, my teacher would first listen to me race through the song and then get me to slow it down. Sometimes I would then hear it. Or sometimes she would point my attention to that area and we would work through the passage together. Muscle memory is an itch and it takes more work to unlearn a habit and then retrain a new one.

Working with a coach is kind of like this. There are areas in life where we go on auto pilot because *we know it*. In fact, the conscious mind can only hold about 7-9 things at any given time. That is a whole lot of thoughts, feelings, perceptions, and actions being run by our unconscious! So it is hard to hear the parts that we keep tripping over.

Coaching turns our attention to these things to bring them into consciousness to see what we find, tweak what is working and rework what isn’t. Then we are able to set off to the races again, knowing that we will hit the right notes to make our Fur Elise soar. A professional coach is trained to listen for the clunks and and is skilled at slowing you down to work through the rough spots. Coaches are also trained to listen for your inner Mozart and will help you amp up your genius.

For your enjoyment, a piece that reminds me of tranquility and the underlying madness of the mind:
Satie’s Gymnopedie No. 1