Intervew: Jennifer Van Uffelen on Procrastination, Mindfulness, and Managing Up

Audio Transcript is below the embedded videos.

Part 1/3
Part 2/3
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Contact details for Jennifer Van Uffelen on Linktree.

Audio Transcript

pt 1/3

Kevin:

Hello, everyone. So I’m speaking today with Jennifer Van Uffelen, from Belgium, and who’s living in County Wexford, Ireland.

Jennifer is a qualified life and workplace coach and NLP practitioner, adding neuro wellness and mindfulness elements into her practice. She founded JVU Coaching to enable people to connect to themselves, organise their thoughts, and find clarity and focus. With a real passion for self development and growth. She wants to provide people with the tools to fulfil their full potential in life.

At the moment, she’s pursuing a Diploma in Leadership and Health & Wellbeing. Jennifer and I met on LinkedIn and we’ve been chatting back and forth and found that we had a number of mutual topics that were suitable enough to stick on a LinkedIn or YouTube video. So we’re going to just record a conversation today and see what comes out of this that might be helpful for you. So, Jennifer, hello!

Jennifer:

Hi, thanks, Kevin, for having me as well. And yes, we have been chatting for a while. So I’m sure we’ll have something productive to come up with.

Oh, actually, this is extra special because Jennifer’s also the first video interview I have on this new channel. I have one audio interview already. But this is the first of hopefully, monthly video interviews. So let’s see how it goes.

So, first question for Jennifer; we were talking about how you work with your clients on the topic of productivity, which is where we crossover a lot. When it comes to your clients becoming more productive, and achieving the tasks and the goals that you’ve set out with them, what are the main things that keep coming up again and again, that you tend to work on with clients. Is it procrastination, routines… what really stands out?

Yeah, I think actually, procrastination is a big one, because people kind of have this feeling that “I should be doing this, I should be doing that”. So the job gets really big in their heads, which is kind of blocking them from taking action. So I think a lot of what I work on is to get them to check in with themselves and see where are actually the priorities. So making a list of what are the things that need to be done, checking in when is a good time to work on them as well, and then working on the mindset around it.

So if there’s a lot of “shoulds”, and a high inner critic coming up, you know, a lot of inner voices of “I’m not doing well enough, I’m not working hard enough”, it’s kind of stopping action altogether. So it’s really connecting to possibly having some mindfulness techniques on connecting to their own breath, checking in with their body, kind of calming down.

So if there’s high levels of stress, starting to recognise that as well, stepping away from that, and coming back to the task when they’re feeling fresh and recharged to actually tackle it. So I think a lot of the procrastination is often related to that thought process. So thinking a lot about what needs to be done, but not really taking action. So it’s about breaking it up into smaller action steps. And then starting with step one, so starting with a smaller step forwards, which gives that sense of achievement, you know, which gives a good feeling, you start to see the progress as well in what you need to do.

So that kind of motivates some forward movement, going to step two, and really breaking it up so that you can keep making progress, and you don’t let it pile up into a really big job that you don’t start until you have all the tools ready to do the big job all at once. Because then often, it gets procrastinated. And it’s this job that’s like hanging over you like a big cloud where it’s usually not really that big, it can, you know, look much bigger then in their own heads.

And I think apart from that, what’s really important is to find a routine that works. So when you’re finding, for example, in the morning when you need to start work, let’s say you don’t really take time for breakfast, you know, you kind of want to rush into starting your work, finding out what is it that you actually need maybe apart from, you know, your work set up to be productive for work. Maybe you need to implement some exercise, maybe going for a walk in the morning. Maybe you need to have a good breakfast so that you’re not actually sitting there being hungry.

So that’s what mindfulness can help with as well is just to become more aware of your bodily cues so that you can fill those needs when you need to, and you actually have your full energy ready to do your work in a productive way as well when you’re doing the tasks and you’re not being distracted by other things that you haven’t really met so you know, figuring out, do you work best when you do exercise the morning, do you want to do exercise after work to switch off from work? Do you need to go for a walk to have a break in your free time?

So it’s really finding out what are the things that work best for you and sticking to that so knowing what works and then actually do those things, rather than avoiding them and sitting at your desk, procrastinating and not really taking any action. Just hoping that the work will happen on its own, because you thought about it so much….

pt 2/3

Kevin:

So Jennifer, we spoke a second ago about how you would help your clients figure out the best working structure for themselves for their energy for their focus. And then before we recorded this call, we were chatting a bit about an example, where people should check in with themselves on that, kind of realising what their best structure would be, and what might occur when, you know, a superior manager comes to you and says, “I want you to do it this way at this time”, or maybe they’re getting back to the office, and they’re getting their productive schedules that they’ve found themselves in the last year are getting moved around a bit. So I wanted to ask you, what sort of boundaries could you set? Or what sort of control could you come back with when someone’s asking you to do something in a way that that actually doesn’t suit your better energy, your better work or the better routines, you’ve found for yourself? In the last year?

Jennifer:

So with clients, it’s really important for them to check in with their days, and if there’s frustration in certain parts of their role is to figure out, you know, what is making it difficult in that moment, and is it something in their daily structure that they could change? Or is it something that they could implement in their day? So let’s say if it’s straight after lunch, is there something that they could do on their lunch break, to give themselves a break away, to switch off from work, and to get back to their their work re-energised? Is it certain coffee breaks, that actually tend to be a distraction, you know, is the caffeine not really sitting well, so it’s making them really anxious when they’re having to sit down and write a report. So it’s very simple things and it sounds really straightforward but it’s often things people don’t really think about to connect to themselves and check in with themselves to see, “how does this actually work for me”, if it’s something that comes up every day or every week, can I change that around, and can I build a structure around that to really be productive in this type of task that I’m doing? What do I need to be successful in that?

Kevin:

There’re two things I’d love to expand on there. So when you said, checking in with yourself to find that, what does checking in with yourself mean, practically? Is that a simple turn of phrase where you’re like, think about it? Or do you mean, take Saturday morning sometime and really look at how you worked last week? So like, what does “checking in with yourself” Sort of mean to you and your clients?

Jennifer:

That’s a good question, actually, Kevin, and I think it kind of depends on what you’re looking at. I suppose from a mindfulness perspective, a really good way to check in with yourelf is to observe yourself. So one of the really important parts of checking in with yourself is also not to judge yourself. Because when you check in you might think “oh I haven’t done this, I haven’t done that”, that “I should be doing this” so it’s really not judging yourself on where you are or how you are performing but observing yourself and becoming more aware so that you can implement changes to improve that. So that’s a really important critical part; to leave that inner critic aside, so park that and really bring up your inner observer…

Kevin:

… to ask you; does that mean journaling? Does that mean meditating after the work day every day or taking a monthly review? What might it look like in a real practical sense for people watching?

Jennifer:

Yeah, good to make it practical as well. And I was just gonna say, you could write that down, if that’s what you prefer, I think for me, journaling can be really powerful! And there’s actually a lot of research done on the difference in when you’re thinking or when you’re talking, or when you’re typing out stuff, or when you’re writing. So it’s really that connection to your pen on paper and writing down your thoughts or your observations, it can be really, you know, help you to move and process the words that you’re putting down.

And I think one of the things that came up for me lately is that you can think many thoughts at the same time, but you can only really write down one word at a time so it makes it more specific and it helps you to organise your thoughts as well.

So in Mindfulness, what you could do is:

1) Write down, what are your thoughts? And without really judging what’s coming up, and you can free flow write, as well, and just write down any thoughts that are in there. What’s on top of mind?

2) Then write down your emotions. So what is it that you’re feeling? You know, what resonates with you in that moment? Are you feeling anxious? Are you feeling excited? What’s your emotional state?

3) And then also write down what are your physical sensations? So what is your body telling you, trying to really break them up and split them up. So observe them separately, and over time, it could help you to maybe find links in between and see is there something that’s affecting each other. When you’re writing down that you’re really anxious, and you’re writing down that you’re really hungry, you know, maybe it’s a sign, you should have some lunch in your day. And that’s just a really simple example. But it’s really becoming aware of yourself and what works and what you could change in your day to make your day more productive and more successful.

pt 3/3

Kevin:

…the second was back to those those workplace boundaries and dealing with your managers and knowing your own best practices. So in a practical sense, if I was your manager, and I said, “Okay, Jennifer, I think we’re going to be better productive as a team if we all check in. We’re gonna have like a one hour check in every morning from 9 to 10am and that’ll set us up well, because I’ve heard of this thing called Scrum and, I think, one hour is better than 15 minutes, actually, so we’re going to do it that way”. And now you’re thinking, “actually, personally, I find I work very well, from 9 to 10, or 9 to 11, when I’m just focused on my own stuff that I need to get done. And I feel more productive, because it’s done before we get into all our meetings and distractions and differing priorities and new priorities.” and you know you work better that way, how would you push back against me who’s basically just said, “I think we’re going to do this.” and in in my position of authority, do you just have to say, “Oh, yes, sir.” or how do you come back against me on that, knowing for yourself that it’s a bad idea?

Jennifer:

Yeah. And I think one important thing to keep in mind is to obviously, when it considers a team and a manager, is to look at, what’s best for for the entire team. So obviously, you can’t accommodate one person in how they work best if that would go against the whole team. So I could answer the question for me personally, but what would be helpful maybe, is also to look at how would I help people in general with that conversation? And what I would say is to check in again, with themselves, so when the request comes, to have a look at what’s the request? What’s required?

So it’s a 9 to 10am meeting every day to check in. What’s the purpose of that meeting? What will be agreed? What is needed to be successful in the day for the whole team. So really looking at the outcomes of that meeting, and then the outcomes of the the team in general, and then the outcomes of the clients work specifically as well, and really evaluate that situation. I would say, have a tactic for how you will approach that conversation.  In many situations people might be unsatisfied with a decision of a manager, but it wouldn’t be helpful to be giving out about a situation, it would be helpful to come up with a solution.

So have a solution in your head as well to step to your manager and say, “Look, I actually feel that that whole team would be more productive in this certain way”. So let’s review; what are the tasks that need to be done, and is there a meeting required first thing in the morning to align certain actions for the day? What’s the purpose of that meeting? What is coming out of that? And then what do people need in order to actually do the work they need to do throughout their day? Is that time in the morning necessary to do certain calls or to get specific work done, and would this person be much more productive in that time to do that work by themselves? It will only be in the manager’s benefit to know about that.

So when the manager is setting up that meeting, they’re thinking of what would benefit the team in general, to get all the work done. So if that’s not going to be the case where this meeting is happening, it’s not really in the manager’s benefit! So it’s really just looking at what will be the outcome of saying yes to this request, or no, and if you are planning on saying no, what is the suggestion that you’ll make? Maybe you will find that “actually, this time, for me, it’s really important to get all my work done. Usually, by 11 o’clock, I have all the main parts for the day done and then I review new projects that I need to work on in the afternoon. Would there be an opportunity to review the timing of that meeting, to maybe a time in the afternoon to check in?”. 

So it’s really about being really clear on how you work well, how the team works well together, what the team needs to communicate in a meeting and what everyone needs to do their work. Because if the whole team is relying on you spreading out the work in the morning, nothing much is going to happen if you don’t have a meeting. So finding the things that maybe are able to be communicated by email, is it something that you could put together as a plan of action for at the end of the day and send that out so people have it first thing in the morning.  So it would be a situation to look at on a case by case basis but always focus on the outcome. What would be in the benefit of the team, and of the manager as well? And communicate yourself that way and set a boundary that way, in a way that’s beneficial to the manager as well so that they see that you’re coming at it with a full heart with ambition and with the will to have your work done. Not just because you’re not interested in doing this meeting.

Kevin:

And any good manager, they’re not looking to be ‘obeyed’, they’re looking for the best results. So, being able to voice your feedback on it, not as a refusal, but as a suggestion, or “actually, from my point of view, we might be better off doing it last thing in the day for half an hour, would probably be enough. What do you think and here are my reasons.” And if the decision is still “no, it’s got to be 9 to 10.” then just be a team player and that’s what it’s got to be because maybe the team or all over the world, and it’s 9 to 10 for you but for most of the team, that might actually be the last thing in the day and it’s just got to be suffered, and… well “suffered” might be the wrong word, but it’s just got to be done, essentially, and hurts you a little more than it hurt someone else’s productivity. but you’re the smaller part of the team in this case, so it’s the best overall decision – let’s go.

Jennifer:

Yeah, really about working together as well and not seeing it as someone that is telling you what to do but someone that is enabling you to do your best work so that they are successful as well, because that’s the main purpose of a manager anyway.

Kevin:

Great reframe actually. They’re not cracking the whip, they’ve a different objective, like, that’s the other side of that coin. Well, Jen, it’s been great talking to you this morning. I’ll put contact details for you down in the description of the video but if you’d like to say them aloud for anyone here, who should get in contact with you and how will they do it?

Jennifer:

Yeah, thanks so much, Kevin, for having me. It was a lovely conversation. I think we can keep just exchanging ideas and yeah, it’s some food for thought as well.  So people can find me on my Link Tree, if you just look for my name, Jennifer Van Uffelen, you can find me on Instagram, on Facebook, I’m most active on LinkedIn, or you could email me on Jennifer@jvucoaching.com. And really, for anyone that has maybe troubles with their inner critic, that lose their productivity during their day because they’re being distracted, and people that want to implement change in their lives and that want to connect to themselves better so that they can just have a more fulfilling life and connect to others in return as well.

Kevin:

So, just about everybody, that sounds like. So everyone should get in touch with Jennifer…

Jennifer:

Everyone!

Kevin:

…and sure maybe we’ll do this again sometime. But it’s been great having these videos done with you and – have a good one!

Jennifer:

Yeah. Thanks so much, Kevin.

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