Welcome to the Salon Owner’s Podcast, Phorest FM Episode 85. Co-hosted by Killian Vigna and Zoé Bélisle-Springer, Phorest FM is a weekly show that puts forth a mix of interviews with industry thought-leaders, salon/spa marketing tips, company insights and information on attending Phorest Academy webinars. Phorest FM is produced every Monday morning for your enjoyment with a cup of coffee on your day off.

Phorest FM Episode 85

This week on Phorest FM, Killian & Zoe are joined by James Parnell, Founder and Lead Coach at The WellBeing Gym. James is known to create sustainable performance improvements and increase creativity, clarity of thinking and decision making. Time management is merely a new concept. But this episode isn’t just about time. It’s about energy, daily routines, timeboxing, efficiency versus productivity, and so much more. Are you the type to think: “Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could get an extra hour or two a day?” If so, you’re not alone. A whole lot of people feel the same way. It’s time to find those 1-2 extra hours in your day!



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Killian Vigna: Welcome to Phorest FM, Episode 85. I’m Killian Vigna.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I’m Zoe Belisle-Springer. This week on Phorest FM, we’re all about time management and productivity. Our guest on the show is James Parnell, founder of The WellBeing Gym, and Lead Coach who specializes in performance and well-being. As always, we top off the show with our upcoming Phorest Academy Webinars.

Killian Vigna: So, grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, relax, and join us weekly for all your salon’s business and marketing needs. Good morning, Zoe!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Good morning, Killian.

Killian Vigna: Really excited for this show because this comes off of the back of a workshop that we did recently, I think we had them a couple of months apart. The guest that we’re about to introduce, he’s actually done this as a regular workshop in Phorest. I think it’s actually… Of all the workshops that they’ve put together for staff in Phorest, I’ve definitely got some results out of it myself.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: To be honest, I remember your calendar from ages ago from when we started this podcast. I now look at your calendar and I try to book in some stuff, and there’s just like… there’s just blocks everywhere. Where can I fit in a 10-minute slot with Killian now? It’s almost like I have to take a doctor’s appointment and book it in three weeks in advance.

Killian Vigna: It’s so true because I used to never put onto my calendar. I was a devil for pen and paper, and I always had my to do list and my notes. Then I realised that I just spent most of my time just basically being an admin of my own life, essentially. Not getting anything done. Whenever people messaged me or look for anything, I’d respond straightaway. Now, thanks to James basically impossible to book in! I have my lunch as the only white spot on my Google Calendar. I suppose without further ado, welcome to the show, James Parnell!

James Parnell: Thanks very much! I apologise for filling up your calendar. Hopefully it’s with all the stuff that’s important to you anyway!

Killian Vigna: I managed to schedule you in today – we’ve got about 15 minutes!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: It’s alright. I just realised I’m not that important to him anymore. It’s fine!

James Parnell: Tough conversations. At least you’re still friends, right?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Yeah!

Killian Vigna: She had to move to Canada to get away from me at this stage. I suppose like we already said in the introduction, this isn’t your first experience with Phorest. You’re almost a member of staff at this stage, aren’t you?

James Parnell: Yes. Yes, I am. And loving it. Thank you very much. You made me feel so welcome. Really good hosting the workshops with everybody there.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: We chatted about this a bit offline. I was asking you essentially, is it something that you do on a day-to-day basis? What’s your day-to-day? What do you do?

James Parnell: I have been described like a bit of a planner. It is really important to me to – I do it daily; I take some time on my own. I’ve got three kids. I up early and always like to have some really quiet time to myself, and look after myself first, and set the day right. We might talk a little bit later about a daily routine. But I take that time every day and every week. Then every couple of months, I take a little bit more time to go and get away from everything. My wife is really, really understanding. Because we came back from Sydney, she let’s me go for a week in the sun on my own. That’s really taken prioritising yourself to an extreme, but it’s very beneficial to everybody. I live and breathe it as much as I can, anyway.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Absolutely!

Killian Vigna: Yeah, you’re actually not long home from your holidays. Last I was chatting to you, you were off surfing in Portugal, or something like that.

James Parnell: No, I did take the family. We all went together for that one in June. That’s good. We always try and keep one holiday ahead. I love all that. If you have a holiday in the calendar and you can look forward to it, sure that’s half the fun as well. It’s cool.

Killian Vigna: Just as we kick off the show, there’s two things I’m dying to know. First off, I was taking a look around your website, and you have a whole load of buzzwords going on here. It looks like you’ve got expertise and real experience using innovation and delivery disciplines that just Human Centered Design, agile, including safe design, thinking, experimentation, Theory of Constraints, Lean Six Sigma, and prints too! What exactly does all of that mean? That’s just the first half of my question!

James Parnell: That’s a funny one because all of those skills are a result of me saying, “Yes,” to too many things, which, ironically… I tell people to learn to say, “No.” I won’t try and explain them all. Basically, they’re just tools in the toolbox. They’re just different methodologies and ways to get the most value out of limited resources. Most of those are applied in corporates or businesses, or projects, which is my background. But I just view them as tools and different ways to problem solve. If you only have a hammer, then everything you see is a nail. But if productivity, a part of that is either taking opportunities, or solving problems in the easiest way that you can find, making your life as easy as you can and there are just different ways to do that in a project or in a corporate sort of work environment.

But all of those can be applied to your own life. There’s absolutely no reason like, we, we go into work, we get organized, we focus and we plan, we collaborate with other people, and we all seem to organize our workday fairly well. I just don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t do that to your whole life. That’s what you really want to do, whether it’s work or pleasure, you get what you want.

Killian Vigna: Cool. The reason I asked you this is because, when we think of someone who’s productive or really good at time management, we just think that’s just natural, they are naturally good at that and that’s why I mentioned these because they don’t exactly sound like something that you just get naturally good at, which kind of leads into my question. Were you always really productive and great at your time or was this something that you just got into? Or, were you like us, where you just realise everything is just a clutter and a mess and you need to sort stuff out fast?

James Parnell: I’d say I was probably always efficient, I was always organised with lists and able to get things done fast. In work I’d go in and someone say, “I need X, Y, Z. Get it done.” But I never really thought about it. At a low level, if you think about like daily or weekly prioritisation, or whatever, I was good at that. Ticking off lists, getting things done, but I never thought about why I was doing it, or whether they’re being fast at those things or whether they were the right things for me. I did well in my career, but whether that was the life that I want to lead… At a much higher level, you can prioritise things and I’d say I wasn’t very good at that. You would get people who know exactly what their vision on the good life is, and are able to prioritise things at that level, but they might work daily chaotically. But they’re really good at that level.

I’d say I was good at a detailed level. But then, I suppose five or six years ago, I started meditating and I started just becoming aware of… I suppose this comes with age, maybe as well, just becoming aware of how all the areas of my life, not just my daily work, interacts with one another for my physical health, spirituality, everything like that, and I just became much more clear on what I want to do. I started asking more questions about different areas of my life and exploring those and then actually learning to go with the flow a little bit more not… You can’t predict that A, B, C, D are the steps to a big life vision, but you can start with step A, and then go with the flow and see what happens. And agile and innovation is all about taking a step, test and learn, and then adjust. That’s where some of those tools are come from.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Some of these teachings would you share them through the WellBeing Gym? What is exactly the WellBeing Gym, where does that all fit in?

James Parnell: The WellBeing Gym, it’s not a physical gym, or anything like that. It’s just a virtual gym. Its mission is to just use some of those tools and teach people how they can get their stuff together, basically, in their life. It has logical sort of ways of thinking, and logical steps to think about your life as a whole and the tools. We use life canvas to help you think about all the areas of your life, and then a roadmap to plan out things, and goals and everything else. Our mission is to help people and just have a better life whether that’s more pleasure or more purpose, or whatever their combination of those two things are for a happy life and just make them more comfortable, and everything else. But the one thing to remember is, there are people for who this doesn’t come naturally to them.

When we do the workshops, and when we do any work with people, we’re always trying to get them to choose what pieces of that whole model or those frameworks will work for them and then just small changes at the time. Some people might not want to do lists, they might not want to be planning out their whole week, but maybe they want to just get half an hour a week to reflect before the next week starts, and things like that. Ultimately, it’s about small, happy changes. That’s what we’re trying to do at WellBeing Gym.

Killian Vigna: Usually when you’re kind of talking about planning out your day, and I know we’ll develop it a bit more in the show. But for a salon owner listening to this they’re probably thinking, “Well, my day changes so much,” and a lot of us think that as well like, different appointments, chopping, and changing. I’m assuming… you’ve obviously come across the challenges before and these principles do work for both?

James Parnell: Yeah, they do I mean, every different role, and every different career has a certain amount that you probably can’t predict and control. That could be 20% of your work day, it could be 90%. The key question then is, what are you doing with the 10% that you can control? How are you thinking? Are you thinking strategically? Are you using that 10% to look at the unpredictability, and see how you make that better, how you handle that better, and maybe reduce that 90% that’s taking up on unpredictable things to reduce it to 80 or to 70 or to outsource it or to automate it or whatever? The key thing there is, it doesn’t really matter. There’s definitely time that you can gain and better ways to do things, regardless of the percentage of your time that’s unpredictable.

Killian Vigna: So this is something that’s always taken into account when you’re planning your day to have that buffer time for a change?

James Parnell: Yeah, exactly. Basically, if you know that between 9:00am and 2:00pm that’s when the meetings happen or that’s when you have bookings but they can change, then you just accept that. For the moment and you say, “9:00am to 2:00pm is gone.” Then you see what you can do with the remaining time what you’re thinking about that “9:00am to 2:00pm, I’m not happy with that, I think I can improve this” and see seeing how you can improve that. There’s always tweaks you can make.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That productivity in that like, 10 or 20, 30% that you can control. What does it actually mean to you? Is it doing less? Is it adding more value? Is it being more present for different things? What does it mean, really?

James Parnell: A lot of people think of productivity as getting more done. I like to think of it in the opposite way. It’s how can you actually do less and get more value out of it? How can you make your life easier? Almost like having a lazy attitude. What is the 20% of what I do now that really changes things for me, that really makes an impact with my client, or my business, or my relationships or whatever, and focus on the things that really have an impact and try and minimize all of the rest. All of the rest are just distractions. Yes, there are things that you have to do. But what are the things that really have a big impact? It’s the 80/20 rule, right? 20% of what you do give you 80% of your benefits and just applying that all the time.

Killian Vigna: How do we actually get into that state of refocusing, because you’re saying productivity isn’t necessarily doing more, it’s just focusing on the right things. That’s that one switch that… How do we get into that zone?

James Parnell: Well, first of all, you have to know yourself, you have to know what your values are, and what your priorities are. Part of that, or a way to do that is to take some time regularly. You take some time and initially, you might have to do a little bit of heavy lifting. What I mean by that is, you might need to take two hours, and go and write down everything that you’re doing, and write down everything that’s important to you. Think about and use the acronym MARCH to help with this, so ‘M’ is your mission, or your career, your work; ‘A’ is also everything that’s adventure, or leisure, or all those dreams you have about learning, and new experiences, and anything else; ‘R’ is relationships. ‘C’ is contribution and connection and then ‘H’ is health. 

You might just think about all those areas and have a big picture view. Just take a big picture view and really understand what’s important to you. That’s the first thing. Then, look at how are you allocating your time, right now? Are you allocating time to the things that are important to you? Are you just saying that they’re important to you, and actually neglecting them? That raises your awareness and that brings to the surface what needs to be done, what is important to you, and then how and when is all about, “Okay, how are you allocating your time during the week?” I’d say, have a weekly routine and look at the week ahead and allocate your time. Then when your time is allocated, eliminate all the distractions and focus your energy on the single thing that’s most important at that time.

There are four elements to productivity it’s the ability to prioritise, allocating time, allocating energy, and giving everything that you do the right attention. When I’m talking about allocating energy, I mean there are different types of things that you do and then you have energy rhythms during the day. Most people, for example, would have high mental level energy between 9:00 and 12 in the morning. If you have thinking work to do or strategic thinking, that’s a really good time to do it meetings in the afternoon, that sort of thing. Those four elements combined give you the productivity.

Killian Vigna: You’re saying the start of the day that’s when we’re kind of most… I suppose… I find that interesting because-

James Parnell: Typically. But everyone is different.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: It’s funny, you don’t seem to agree with that Killian, but I actually do agree with that. I’m probably the most creative… like writing, I’m probably the most creative between – if I can get up at 4:00am – 4:00 is my peak. But then it goes on until maybe 11:00, and from 11:00, it just drifts off. Then I get that peak again, starting around 10:00 PM often.

Killian Vigna: Eh no, it’s interesting. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing. I do remember when I used to get up it was a half five to go to the gym. Yeah, I was getting it done. But then I felt that was crashing about 12 o’clock or something. I switched to the evening. I suppose it’s just finding what works for you then, is it?

James Parnell: Absolutely and that is the key. That’s just the standard circadian rhythm that I was describing. But it’s so important just to pick what works for you and the only way to do that is by observing your body, okay.  So I’m quite similar to Zoe. I get up at 4:00, I love to write, I love the coziness, grab a little coffee. It’s nice and quiet in the house. I’ve built that routine around my family and what works for me. I’ve totally personalised it. I then fade at about 11:00, 11:30. All of my energy is… I’ve done really creative work, all my good stuff is pretty much done. About 11:30 or 12:00 I’m fading. I have lunch, I have a little map. If I’m in a corporate environment, sometimes I find a little room and lie down and no one knows I’m there.

I do all sorts of odd things to have my little afternoon nap. Then, I’ll have another little burst in the afternoon, but that is on lower energy mentally. It’s normally like collaboration or meetings and things like that. But you’re absolutely right. The only thing that matters when you’re talking about energy rhythms, and everything else is in need to be aware and listen to what your body is telling you and respect that.

Killian Vigna: A little bit of trial and error, I suppose. Try a few early mornings and try a few late evenings.

James Parnell: Exactly.

Killian Vigna: You mentioned a little bit about prioritising earlier, but how do we know what to prioritise? I know you talked about getting into the focus. But I suppose right now, if you were to go, what’s most important to me, I could give you a list of stuff, and then you go will prioritise that. I don’t know how to prioritise. It’s like, I want to do everything right now! What would you say to someone like me, I suppose?

James Parnell: There’s a few techniques you can do, right? This is quite often a challenge for people when they write down their top 20 things. Actually, the word priority used to be just singular, so it stood for the one thing. I was saying to Zoe before we were chatting here, I read a book recently called, “The One Thing” and it summarizes a beautiful question, which is really powerful. What is the one thing that if I did now, would make everything else easier or unnecessary? That’s one question you can ask. But often, you’ll look at a list, and they all look equally important. Sometimes you can ask, what are the consequences of not doing this, okay? You might have two things that just seem so important. If you don’t do either, you look at one, and you say, “Actually, if I don’t do that, I’ll get fired.” Or, “If I don’t do that, my marriage breaks down,” or whatever, right?

Pretty quickly, you’ll figure out if your marriage or your job is more important to you, or whatever, right? Asking, what are the consequences of not doing something is a really good way to figure out. Actually, that’s not important right now, or maybe there’s just a little bit of it, you can do just to keep live or ticking over but actually the the one is more important. Part of that is asking that question all the time. You walk out of the room now and finish this podcast, you could ask, “Okay, what’s the best use for the next 25 minutes?” If you don’t know the answer to that question, then the best use of the next 25 minutes is to find the answer to that question. Go and have a coffee and think about that question. That’s what I do when I’m when I’m stuck.

I literally go and say, “Okay, I need to look, I need to just jot down all things I could do and figure out the most important,” because otherwise, you can go straight into a task and the next one, and the next one, and the next one, and the most important one is left behind. Productivity and knowing that what you’re working on is the most important… Gives you mental clarity and it gives you peace of mind. Because the worst thing is having that nagging feeling that you left something really important behind. Just think about the consequences and try and think, “If I drop this, would it matter?”

Killian Vigna: Would you structure your whole day… well, not even your whole day, but… kind of you’re going into your day, you’re going to see some single most important task. Would you usually do that at the start of the day done?

James Parnell: Yeah, for me because I’m a morning person. I always try and get a win in the morning routine. My little win personally is a bit of writing and some physical exercise, and some meditation, say. Then between 9:00 and 12 is the most important thing but the hardest thing usually. It’s the most important thing and I just do that first. I found that- … Physically, the best time to go to the gym is normally 5:00 or 6:00. I tried that, and it just doesn’t work, because your day can sometimes go astray. For me personally, it’s best to get to the gym out of the way in the morning and also most important task, because then you can go with the flow and be happy the rest of the day.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: What happens, say, for instance, I don’t know you’ve had a really like, exhausting day the day before and that sets you off for having a hard time getting that one big thing done between 9:00 and 12:00am period? How do you manage that? How do you go around it and still be able to keep on to your list of what you have to accomplish that day? Because that happens a lot – like the environment in the south on, it’s just changing so fast and sometimes they’ll work extra hours and this and that. It just off puts the whole week sometimes.

Killian Vigna: Yeah, sometimes they would barely even get a lunch break; where you’re saying, you might be able to get like 10-minute nap. It is just a different environment, isn’t it?

James Parnell: Well, it is. But I mean, I’ve worked in banks and I’ve worked on big programs where I wouldn’t go for a lunch break for a period of time. But I would disappear for 10 minutes, and just take a breath. It might be the day is getting away from you and you might just take 10 minutes where you’re grabbing a sandwich and you look at the rest of the day and you basically ask yourself, “Okay, the morning is gone astray-“ Again, it’s that question, “What is the best thing to do now, given where I am?” You just reset, take some time out, hide from people, and take the break to think about that. I mean, over time, you’ll just become better at this and you have to start somewhere.

The place to start is always is deciding, “Okay, when am I going to take that 5 or 10 minutes?” That I know, most days will work. Not every day will work, but even on the days that go astray, I’ll try at the end of the day to look back over the top three things that I have and I limit it to just three. I basically have a card like that. I purposely just use index cards because they’re so small, and they restrict me. I don’t have a big notepad where I can write 25 things. I can only write three things. Most days, I’ll get two or three of those done. If I don’t, that’s okay. I know I’m way ahead because of being productive most days and I accept that. Then I’ll just go, “Okay, what’s the top two for tomorrow?” and go again. Again, it’s just taking the time alone and start small. It’s two minutes, five minutes, you can go to the bathroom, and take a few breaths, and stay in there ’till you’re ready to come out!

Killian Vigna: You just mentioned there like that you have your main tasks. If you need to carry one over to the next day that’s fine; it’s not really a problem. But what happens if things start building up? I know, obviously, your prioritising but… What is to stop you getting into habit of all “I’ll just do that tomorrow, I’ll just do that tomorrow.” Then eventually, these three priorities that you had, just keep getting knocked down. I know, Zoe joked earlier about my calendar. I have it pretty tight now at this stage. But I do still find tasks that I’ve been pushing off daily for the last two weeks now. How do you kind of prevent someone getting into that habit?

James Parnell: Procrastination can be an interesting one because sometimes it’s a signal that those things are actually not that important to you and you should just drop them. I remember golf. I was committing time to golf, and getting lessons, and everything else like. Then, I thought I keep putting it off, “I’m going to get golf done, I’m going to take it off the list by just taking it off the list and never play again.” That’s what I did. It’s either telling you that it’s not important to you and you should just accept that. Or, you need to actually start. It might be signalling also that you’re afraid. It’s either so big or so exciting that you might be afraid of the success of it or you might be afraid that it’s a difficult conversation ahead or whatever. Might be pointing to a fear as well.

The only way to test that or to overcome that is picking a really small action that you know you can do right now and starting and then just seeing where that leads. DNA, display next action. Just think, “Okay, how would I actually start this.” If it’s a really big project, just think what’s the first step. The first step might be, “I don’t have to start this. I’m going to call Zoe and that’s easy.” Let’s call Zoe and talk about it. Or, call anybody, call me. We’ll talk about those things you keep procrastinating.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: That’s interesting because that actually happened to me just a few weeks ago, where I was just so nervous about something, so afraid to not do well in it, that I couldn’t actually get to start it until I really felt the pressure that, “Okay, if I don’t start this now, then I’m definitely going to fail at this.”

James Parnell: Exactly. It happens me as well. I mean, I was doing a diploma recently, and I was doing other things as well. Then all of a sudden the deadlines for the diploma hit, and they make it really clear. It just becomes so easy to prioritise because it just gave me clarity like, “I have to get this done now,” and I just cleared the decks. Sometimes creating an artificial deadline by committing to somebody else, or by saying, “Okay, I’m going to meet you next week and I’ll have a plan to go through by then.” Then it just switches you back on. But it is like deciding, “Are those things really important to me?” Or, “Am I going to drop them?’

Killian Vigna: It’s actually so powerful because when you did the workshop with us, you got us to do up a chart of what would you like to achieve over the next day. I think it was like six months or 12 months or something like that. One thing I had down was, “I’d love to do a marathon, I’d love to do a marathon.” And it wasn’t even doing that much room at the time. I wrote it down. I had a DNA and everything, but I actually left that a couple of months. Then my whole summer was just jam-packed and then realised, “Oh, I’ve signed up for a half marathon in prep for it and realised it’s in three weeks time.” I would find myself sitting down in my evenings, and I was wrecked after work. But then that ‘decide next action’ was like, “Well, I’m sitting here watching TV, I’m going to be setting myself up for failure. Just get up and do one. Get up and do one run.” Then I found that after doing it the first one, I was more excited doing the next one and it just build up. It’s just that start isn’t? It’s getting it started!

James Parnell: It is and a lot of people might not set… Like that’s an outcome goal the marathon, what some people will just set are process goals, which is “I’m going to ruin three times a week.” And process goals are really good, because they’re a little bit easier and real. Ultimately, the outcome has to be broken down anyway. What you did there was you want to set, “Okay, I’m just going to get up and do this run every week,” and you succeed at that because this is physical brain change. These new habits, they physically change in your brain, and neuroplasticity is a relatively new science… I suppose, the ability that we have that we’re aware of… or to change the pathways in your brain, the neural pathways. You’re actually learning new habits. Whenever you do any physical change, you need to start small, so you don’t pull the muscle basically.

Killian Vigna: Don’t look at one big goal and go right and go “Right I’m going to get to that,” but kind of break it down into steps?

James Parnell: Yeah, exactly. Yeah, exactly. It’s good to have a vision, it’s good to have to think about really high level horizon. But ultimately, the change occurs at a tiny level every day, or whatever. You ultimately have to decide, “Okay, how would that big goal be achieved?” If I’m looking at myself in a year’s time, and I finish the marathon, what sort of man was I or what were the things that I did to run that marathon? You got up on the mornings where you didn’t want to get up. Your process goal was, just do that run, do a one-mile run for a month. Then when that’s an established habits, what’s the next little jump just outside your comfort zone, just a stretch like stretching your muscles. It’s just a stretch. Then when your brain and when your muscle is used to those morning ones that are short, you’re going to get longer and longer.

Killian Vigna: Then to bring that back to the salon owner,  we run a campaign, we’ve run two campaigns there recently, it was The #30Days2Grow…

Zoe Belisle-Springer: …In April, and then the #SalonRetailWeek.

Killian Vigna: One of the big goals was… basically discounting was a big issue in the culture. We were saying, you should remove discounting and offers, I suppose, different benefits, or basically, you shouldn’t be cheapening your services. If anything, you should be charging more for your services. That’s where The #30Days2Grow Campaign came from. Where every single day, for 30 days, it was just one small little task. It sounded like such a big task when you talked about the end result. But then when you broke down over 30 days, the feedback was actually really good, wasn’t it? In the marketing team, you ran retail week then on top of that, right?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: We did and everybody got amazing results. But again, it was the same principle of having one small task a day for seven days and at the end, compiling results, and see how far you’ve come and what you can action going forward.

James Parnell: That’s really good. I’ve been procrastinating about building a list for my business and marketing list or an email list. I just registered to do a 30-day list builders challenge by a lady who’s a bit of an expert in marketing. I’ve looked at it, and just everyday just looks so easy when you break it down. It’s like, “Yes, I can do that, I can do that. I can do that,” but the build up of this on top of each day building on top of one another. It’s amazing what you can achieve. It’s great.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: You were mentioning process goals earlier. It got me thinking about rituals, because we were chatting about that offline before. I’d love to hear your thoughts on creating a ritual for yourself and also dealing with distractions. If there’s something that I remember and hitting me a lot in that workshop was distractions, and realising how many I had, and I’m sure a lot of people can relate to that. How do you manage those distractions, but still managed to be in your ritual?

James Parnell: I’m talking about rituals first, because it’s a little bit similar to habit building. One of the biggest life changing rituals for me, was I spoke about starting to meditate. Six or seven years ago, and we were at Wired For Wonder. It’s a convention in Sydney, basically, and there was a guy who lived on an island in Hawaii for 10 years, he was a monk and now he’s in New York. He does all sorts of retreats, and everything else. He taught us how to meditate for 45 minutes. But I remember him saying, at the end, if you’re new to meditation, don’t even think about doing a meditation for 45 minutes, just do two minutes a day, until it’s a ritual. That was my first sort of… I planned every day and planned weeks and things like that. But that was my first real ritual in terms of sacred ritual, I suppose.

I started meditating to two minutes every day and I probably did that for six months. I wasn’t seeing an obvious change, but other people were saying I was a lot calmer and a lot clearer, and things like that. It goes back to that point where we’re talking about incremental changes building up and you mightn’t notice them but you’re getting long term benefits. Then when I was ready, I got a Vedic meditation teacher to teach me a little bit more and now I meditate twice a day. Rituals, you should build up slowly. Nice rituals to have are your morning rituals, starting off positively, a little ritual at the end of the day, just to give yourself a pat on the back and say, “Well done on having a good day,” and switching off, for example, work and then switching on family time, or whatever if that’s important thing in the evening. Then there are sort of longer term rituals, like taking time to go and have a coffee on your own every week or whatever, right?

They’re the rituals in terms of eliminating distractions and going back to busy environments. As I said, I worked in banks and in large programs where people are constantly demanding, and have competing priorities and you’re dealing with multiple stakeholders and multiple businesses and everybody wants a little bit of some something. To be honest, I started, just, as I said, disappearing for 20 minutes a day. But during that 20 minutes, I was able to get an hour or two hours worth of work at my desk done. I was removing myself from the environment that was distracting me. You’re not always able to do that. But you can still for example, hide your phone. Even being able to see it is a distraction, you can use noise canceling headphones, and instrumental music, you can turn your desk or your laptop, or you can go to a room where there’s less people. There’s loads of techniques there to eliminate any sorts of distractions, but the best one is to remove yourself from the environment, have a favourite place where you can spend an hour of your day, maybe getting the really important work done, and then go back in and that sort of thing. The thing that happens there is that even though you think that you’re expected to be in a place, or that you should be seen to be in a place or whatever, as long as you’re getting your stuff done, people won’t notice.

Actually, you’ll be able to have conversations with people about how you ultimately are delivering more, because you’re removing yourself from that environment. Good managers or good leaders will judge you on your outcomes, and not time in a specific place and everything else. I suppose, for salon owners, they may be in an environment that has a lot of distractions, and they may need to be there to see customers and it’s a very customer facing role. But then you also… there’s time in your business and then there’s time on your business. You need to be able to allocate the time to work on your business and grow and everything else. It’s just a matter of allocating the right amounts of time to each type of work.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I’ve just actually noticed, looking at my notes there, that the list of distractions, you’ve actually broke it down into an acronym PLENTY OF TIME!

James Parnell: Yeah! We did a survey with some corporates and we made it into a word cloud. You know the way it shows the teams that are coming out of the survey, and not enough time was the common response when we ask people, “What’s your number one challenge for productivity?” Not enough time. It’s just a pure myth. Everybody has the same amount of time. Time it’s a concept, that’s all it is, right? Not enough time, what does that mean? The only thing that you have control over not your time, it’s what you put into it. I just use that acronym PLENTY OF TIME to remind people that there is plenty of time, right? Because if you did analysis of what you do during the week, or every week, and probably spending 8 to 15 hours on stuff that you wouldn’t classify as being important to you and neglecting stuff that is.

Killian Vigna: The PLENTY OF TIME one is funny, because I remember when you were in the workshop, you did this… I think it was like this time grid. Basically, you had all these squares based forms, I think it was six o’clock in the morning until nighttime and you were saying, “Right, based on your everyday tasks, like your typical everyday tasks, shade out those blocks.” I can’t remember what it was called. It was like timeblocks or something like that. It relates to the PLENTY OF TIME because you were going, “Right, now look at these everyday tasks.” We’re all saying all there’s just not enough time in the day, we’re all flat out. But then when we looked at the grid we’re going, “do I even do any work?” because we had so much white space left. What it was, was, it was simple things like looking at your phone every now and again. Because if you do 20 minutes to work now, and I know this whole rewards… It’s the Pomodoro effect or something like that, where if you do 20 minutes work, and then you go and look at your phone. But that five-minute looking at your phone reward could end up in to another 20 minutes.

That’s when we realised, “All right, put the phone upside down.” Say what maintenance things like those the phone just either put it in your bag, or put it upside down, and then all of a sudden realises getting way more work done. It wasn’t even anything that you were doing anything on your phone, you were just looking for something to take your mind away. I suppose that a little bit of distraction, but… where it comes into the plenty of time was because you’ve got people, lists, paper, email, noise, telephone, office, fear, time maintenance, and all those add up and eats into that free time that you do have.

James Parnell: Exactly. You’re so right. The thing about it is that as soon as you’re getting that distraction, that urge to check we’re talking about listening to your body and listen to your mind… That’s the signal that you’re tired, you’re mentally tired, you’re looking for a distraction, you’re asking for rest. Take the rest actually leave the environment, take a walk, get a glass of water or whatever and make a phone call or whatever. But again, like time boxing is another technique where you just go, “Okay, I want to take a break for 10 minutes only, but I’m going to be back eleven o’clock and then I’m going to listen to some music for half an hour, and get the next one thing done.” Take the break. As soon as I want to check my email, I want to go into LinkedIn or Facebook or whatever it is. That’s me. I’m basically reminding myself, “Okay, I’m getting distracted now. I need a break.”

Killian Vigna: It’s pretty much you giving in.

James Parnell: That’s a signal to have your recovery ritual. Talking about rituals, just have a break!

Killian Vigna: Have a Kit Kat!

James Parnell: Exactly. Fresh air maybe.

Killian Vigna: What’s your day like after your day as opposed to that kind of…  You said your day is broken a bit to just like the three hours, there’s your eight hours work. Do you switch off when you’re finished work when you go home? Or do you have a strict regime like that?

James Parnell: Yeah, I do. A few years ago, I wouldn’t have slept well. My quality sleep wouldn’t have been good. I was working on really large programs in the banks, lots of people, as I said, lots of things. But I do similar work now and it’s still very busy. But my quality of sleep is so much higher and part of it is because I have that little evening ritual where I write down and give myself a pat on the back, write down what I got done that day, and write down the top two or three things that I’m going to do tomorrow, and write down every actually that’s on my mind, like anything at all. It’s out of my head first of all. Then I’ve also learned a lot from my kids. My evening routine is no devices basically most of the time, but certainly no devices after half eight, so I wouldn’t watch much TV and I wouldn’t be on the phone after nine o’clock, and I read my kids stories, and dim the lights. Then that works for them. Looking at them going to sleep, I’m like, “That’s what I should do.”

I do the same! I keep reading and keep dimming the lights basically. That’s a nice evening routine, if sleep is your goal for the evening, some people like party is their goal for the evening. Depends what your goal for the evening is. My goal is to get a good sleep and to get up early in the morning. Then the third thing that probably really helped is meditation which built up slowly. But I think that helped. I don’t have any evidence of that, but they were the common changes I made during that period of time from going to low quality sleep to really sound sleep.

Killian Vigna: Well said you’ve no evidence of it working for yourself. But other people told you that it was a difference, so it must’ve helped…

James Parnell: Exactly. Well, certainly. The meditation was then the clarity of thought in terms of knowing what’s important, and actually doing less work and having better outcomes. I definitely noticed that myself.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Suppose on a final note, are there any preconceived myths that you’ve been hearing or that people have been telling you, and that you would like to say, like, “No, this is not exactly true!” so that we can actually get better at managing our time and prioritising things?

James Parnell: Well, do want to have a game of true or false?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Sure. We’ve never done one on the podcast!

James Parnell: I got to see you if you’re listening at my workshop, right? You guys should know this if you were listening, right? Efficiency is the same as productivity, true or false?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: False.

Killian Vigna: True, you’ve been efficient.

James Parnell: Zoe is correct. Efficiency is part of it. Efficiency is being really fast. Productivity is being really fast at the right thing.

Killian Vigna: I’m afraid to answer now I’m going to get judged when I walk back upstairs. This episode is gonna air and people are going to look at me, “C’mon!”.

James Parnell: Okay… one, zero to Zoe; isn’t there a question like this?! Multitasking leads to a 40% drop in productivity true or false?

Killian Vigna: True.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I think that’s true.

James Parnell: Two, one to Zoe. You can get everything on your plate done?

Killian Vigna: True, if you prioritising when you’re getting it done.


Zoe Belisle-Springer: …There are so many variables there!

James Parnell: I don’t think so. I’d say that’s, there’s always stuff to do. When you were talking about Zoe earlier on when the day goes away, even a perfect day, there’s always new stuff that comes in. It’s more about accepting that you’ve done your best, you’ve had a good day, you had some fun, you had a mixture of pleasure and purpose, and there’s more stuff to do. There’s always more stuff to do. But the beauty of that is that it’s choice, right? If you didn’t have enough to do that’s boredom. I’d much prefer to have stuff coming in, and people coming to me, and asking for help, and that sort of stuff. It’s a nice place to be. If you don’t allow it to overwhelm you, I think is the main thing. Okay, this is a big one: work/life balance is achievable –

Zoe Belisle-Springer: It’s true but it depends on what your definition of work/life balance is. I think it changes for everyone.

James Parnell: I’d say so. I don’t know whether it’s true or false, but it’s interesting because the way we separate work and life as almost opposite sides of the scale. I’d like to think of work as just part of life, doing work that you like this podcast, I’m presuming you guys like it and that sort of thing. Sometimes you might have an intentional in balance, you might choose to focus on your career for a period of time and keep everything else stable, not neglected, but to just focus on that part of your life. You might just move from certain areas of your life and have a little bit of an imbalance. But as long as, roughly, everything is working together and there’s not a part of your life that’s going to be so bad that it’s dragging everything else down. That was just more a trigger for conversation, I suppose. Our brain is good at remembering, true or false?

Killian Vigna: My memory is shocking…

Zoe Belisle-Springer: No, false.

James Parnell: … But you can train it. It’s not that you’re remembering everything. It’s just retaining… it’s like a storage unit, isn’t it?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I’d say so.

James Parnell: Well, it is pretty good at remembering, but there’s no need to use this for that, right? It’s much better if you write things down and then your brain will then spend more of its capacity solving problems. Not subconsciously working on things that you might be afraid. Those moments of inspiration when you’re staring out at the sea or on the train and you go, “Oh, that’s what I need to do. That’s the answer to that one.” That’s what comes with freeing up your brain for doing better things.

Killian Vigna: Sure it’s not like what Einstein said, “Why fill your head with useless knowledge?” Particularly now with Google? You don’t need to remember everything. Only remember what you need to know.

James Parnell: Exactly. Exactly. All right. Couple of small ones now, last two. Tuesday is the most productive day of the week. True or false?

Zoe Belisle-Springer: True?

Killian Vigna: They always say do leg day on a Monday because it’s the hardest, false.

James Parnell: Zoe is right. True. Obviously, Monday is the least productive true or false?

Killian Vigna: Friday is least productive.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: False.

James Parnell: Yes. Well done, Killian. All right, last one. Total time spent on social media exceeds times spent eating, drinking, socializing, and personal grooming combined.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: I have no hard time believing that that’s true.

Killian Vigna: I feel like it’s true, but-

James Parnell: Sadly, it is true. It’s almost like an extension of our body. It’s funny because adults almost don’t even recognise it. We’re trying to teach our children not to become addicted, but they’re just copying us. They’re just mimicking us. Anyway, I didn’t mean to end on that sad note!

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Let’s end on a good note! If anyone listening to Phorest FM today feels a little overwhelmed or wants to just chat maybe and get some clarity on some concepts, how can they reach you? How can they get in touch?

James Parnell: Email james@thewellbeinggym.com or go to my website and fill in a form there or whatever. Anybody needs any help, for sure, we can help them.

Killian Vigna: James, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show and I’m actually delighted that you had that little questionnaire at the end. It just really ended it on a good note!

James Parnell: Zoe won it, by the way!

Killian Vigna: I know, I know. Don’t remind me. I was trying to be too smart with my answers!

James Parnell: Cool. That was really enjoyable. I enjoyed that.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Thank you so much for being here on the show with us. It’s been amazing!

James Parnell: Thanks! Thanks, Zoe.

Killian Vigna: That was James Parnell from the WellBeing Gym. We’re going to have some links to James’ website. If anyone is looking for some further consultation and wants to get in touch with him. Really good episode. I hope you’ve learned a lot about productivity and time management. One thing that I learned is never tried to be too smart or you’ll just get shown up in front of everyone. Congratulations on winning that one, Zoe. I’m not bitter.

Zoe Belisle-Springer: Thank you very much. I suppose that you don’t want to introduce me. I will introduce myself, it’s fine. The second part of the show, the Phorest Academy Webinars! So we have one coming up, it’s the Salon Email Masterclass. It’s from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM US Eastern time or 3:00 PM to 4:00 PM UK Ireland time. What you learn in this webinar, it’s a one-hour masterclass with Chris Brennan, and you’ll go through the anatomy of a successful email from subject line to booking, what’s the winning email journey, avoiding the dreaded spam folder – tips, tricks – and get simple yet proven campaign tips to get clients for booking appointments straight from their inboxes. That’s not to miss.

Then we’re at Olympia Beauty in late October – because trade show season is coming up real fast and so that is in London, in the UK. It’s from September 30th to October 1st. Well be on booth C70. Well be there to answer all your questions, September 30th and October 1st.

If you want to register or get tickets to any of those two events, so the masterclass and Olympia Beauty, you can go onto our Facebook page in the events section, find either or of those events, click the Get Tickets for the webinar. It’s just to save your spot. It’s free as usual. For Olympia beauty, you’ll be redirected to the actual trade show’s website where you can reserve your tickets from there. So that’s it for us today! If you have any feedback, feel free to leave us a review on iTunes or on Stitcher. We’re always looking for suggestions on how to improve the show. Don’t forget that we’re also on Spotify now, so you can check us out there! Otherwise, have a wonderful week and we’ll catch you next Monday.

Killian Vigna: All the best!

Thanks for reading! #LetsGrow

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