2 mins, go!

I am going to write a post on procrastination, after weeks of procrastinating as a blogger. So you bet my mind is on the subject.

Source: Favim

Procrastination weighs on one’s mind like a tonne of bricks. It drags you down and before you know it, you are at a rather unhappy place. The popularity of this topic, as seen in books, articles, etc..clearly indicates that it is part of human nature. Or at least some humans, like me!

I have on numerous occasions beat that inertia. And it feels great when the hurdle has been crossed and the task done. You know the feeling?

Today, I came across some nuggets of advice that you may find helpful. It is from James Clear called the “2-Minute Rule that is The Easiest Way to Quit Procrastinating For Good”. (Admittedly, most “easiest way to <insert subject>” articles are worthless or even spammy.  However, this one strikes a chord with me and I can attest that it does work.)

There are 2 parts

Part 1 – If it takes less than 2 minutes, then do it now.

Part 2 – When you start a new habit, it should take less than 2 minutes to do.

Translating into real life examples…

Want to become a better writer? Just write one sentence (2–Minute Rule), and you’ll often find yourself writing for an hour.

Want to eat healthier? Just eat one piece of fruit (2–Minute Rule), and you’ll often find yourself inspired to make a healthy salad as well.

Want to make reading a habit? Just read the first page of a new book (2–Minute Rule), and before you know it, the first three chapters have flown by.

Want to run three times a week? Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, just get your running shoes on and get out the door (2–Minute Rule), and you’ll end up putting mileage on your legs instead of popcorn in your stomach.

My experience

For years, I had been an armchair athlete. I read about workout, I read about nutritions, I read about everything…without actually moving my behind. The need to “plan big” had been holding me back. Then out of the blue, I decided to stop reading and thinking and just did it. The results are briefly captured in my post “Dread Exercising?”.

Instead of thinking or planning to exercise, I just started moving. In 2 mins, my body was awake and was asking for more.

Ditto for re-organizing some dreaded corners of the house. No big plans.  I just started doing it and before I knew, I had cleared out a whole closet of junk.

Perhaps you are a thinker/planner like me? If so, yes, the “2 mins, just do it” thing seems counter-intuitive. But give it a try anyway. The worst case scenario – you lost a few minutes. Possible best case scenario? The sky is the limit 🙂

Enjoy your Thursday!


Coffee shop alternatives

Shoptalk over a cup of coffee is a standard practice. I don’t know about you, but I am getting rather bored with the same old, same old.

Source: http://olechko.org/
Source: http://olechko.org/

According to A Brief History of Coffee Houses as Meeting Places (what a great read, thanks!):

….the first coffeehouses started springing up in the late 1600’s, there was at last an alternative to the perpetual drunken haze, people “who drank coffee instead of alcohol began the day alert and stimulated, rather than relaxed and mildly inebriated, and the quality and quantity of their work improved.”

In coffeehouses, the people met not to drink and sing, but to exchange ideas, to discuss poetry, philosophy, politics science. One could even argue that coffee was the drink that brought the Enlightenment to Europe.

Career women, especially those in the entrepreneur world, know the value of “Let’s have coffee”. I am particularly fond of one-on-one conversations, where I get to know someone more upclose and personal. In my work, many of my conversations happen virtually – Skype, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. – so putting a (real life) face to an Avator or voice is always an exciting moment to look forward to.

By default, coffee chats happen in coffee shops. And again by default, Starbucks or similar chains are the typical choices because of their locations.

So lately I have been thinking: Why default to the same old, same old? Why not explore other ways to do out-of-the-office shoptalk? Why not make the experience more unique and enjoyable?

Alternative #1: Independent cafes

Source: blogto.com

The first step of course is to explore the many independent cafes that have sprouted up in the city in recent years. Some remain small and unique, a few have expanded to become a “mini chain”, as described by BlogTO.com.  Shame to admit that I have not explored many yet – more goodness waiting to be discovered!

Here’s a couple of useful links for independent cafes in Toronto:

Recommendations by Toronto.com
A comprehensive list and reviews by BlogTO.com

What about YOUR city? Any good ones?

Alternative #2: Art Studios

Source: http://www.tanyakirouac.com/studio-fuse/

I recently had a reunion with an ex-colleague at Studio Fuse, an art studio and exhibit space with a quiet cafe that is open to public. Situated in the Distillery Historical District, it certain beats a commercial joint amidst office buildings. During the afternoon hours of our visit, the space was relatively empty, so we pretty much had the whole room without worrying about eavesdropping (a concern in coffee shops in the business districts).

There are many similar establishments in Toronto and I am sure in other cities around the world as well. I have attended many functions in spaces like that, including an intimate birthday party in a cupcake studio and a Red Cross Canada fund-raising event in another art studio, etc.

Do you know of similar spaces in any city? If so, please share!

Alternative #3: Chinese Tea House

Source: taotealeaf.com

I stumbled upon Tao Tea Leaf while looking for a quick workday lunch spot. There were 2 options in the busy business district: this tea place (showcasing some interesting-looking vegetarian dishes) or greasy pub fare next door. No brainer.

It was quite an experience to step in from the buzzing summer heat into a quiet tea house. Much like other tea retailers, it had rows and rows of tea leaves (and the accompanying aroma), but the space was also decked out in Chinese rose-wood furnitures.  I felt rather regal, to be honest, and even slowed down to enjoy every bite of my lunch.

The place worked equally well for one-on-one meetings.  My client and I had a nice quiet conversation over lunch. It was 2 years ago and I am not sure if they have changed – but according to their website, they also host tea tasting events and workshops.

Does anyone know of other Chinese (or maybe Japanese and Indian too?) tea houses? Did you enjoy the experience?

Heels, Glorious Heels (or not)

When it comes to heels, there are 3 camps: Must have, Stupid idea, and those 1.5-inch devotees in between.

Source: Favim.com

I myself belong to the 1.5-inch camp because of my total inability to master heels. Many are objects of beauty, architectural wonders really (and I am not being sarcastic here, there are so many things a top notch designer can dream up), but they will always remain eye candy for someone like me.

Well, me and millions of women in the world. Try googling “how to wear heels” and you will find everything from instructional videos, doctors’ warnings, women falling, training classes from a former model (!), training classes from a man (!!), and confessions of the ultimate heel advocate Sarah Jessica Parker (!!!)

My take? I am not a doctor, a fashion guru, or what not to participate in this debate.  Your body, your style, your choice.

Nevertheless, I do have my 2 cents to share when it comes to women + career + heels. No, make that 2 dollars, this is quite a list.

Save the unusual/artistic/look-at-me shoes for after hours

Source: highheelsdaily.com

Indulging in the unexpected is cool, I like it. There are websites and even a whole museum devoted to the art of shoes and shoe-making. But unless you work in the fashion industry or alike, such footwear will only act as distractions. You never know how people would react to it. Perhaps you would be regarded as a unique and creative individual, a bonus for your professional image, or – much more likely for most business context – your attire would be considered inappropriate and unprofessional. There is no one definition for “artistic” or “unusual” shoes, so please exercise your judgement.

Pilot run – how long can you walk in those heels?

Source: shoeperwoman.com

I once attended an important meeting. Parking right outside, straight to the office, all good.  Until I was given a tour. A long tour of the big building. You see, I was betting on a nice sit-down talk and was spotting my 3-inch new shoes. So please don’t be stupid like I was. Never bet on just “being there”. If the conversation continues afterwards at a nearby pub, you want/should be there without worrying about that 5-block walk.

Classy heels as part of your outfit

My hats off to those who can master heels and incorporate them elegantly into their style. Here are a random few I like from The Satorialist. Garance (1st picture) is one of the best-dressed women I have come across because she makes everything works for her, and always appears to be comfortable. Giovanna (2nd picture) is similar, just a bit more colourful and daring.

Be comfortable, but don’t be an eyesore

Source: nytimes.com

Those are “Furkenstock” from Céline’s.  I don’t care if they are lux, cozy and ergonomically sound, they just don’t cut it. The same goes for well-worn sandals, anything that resembles slippers, UGG….you get the picture.

Admit your defeat, wear flats or low heels

Source: nytimes.com

Browsing for “low heels for work” images, I almost got distracted and started online shopping!  If like me you toddle on high heels, admit it and live with it. There are so many delicious options out there, from luxe to affordable….and all far from your boring matron-y pumps.

And I don’t really buy the “It” shoes concept either. Below are a few in my closet (years old but never made it to my feet yet….shame on me). Unless you are a die hard fashionista, you probably would not point and laugh at me being so last season.


Signing off, I am leaving you with a “fun facts about shoes” questionnaire from the Bata Museum!

Dread exercising?

“Working out is my Joie de Vivre.”. There, I said it, a monumental statement from someone who, merely 1.5 years ago, specialized in nothing but sitting and typing at her desk.

Source: transfigure.ca
Source: transfigure.ca

Being fit is not an option; it allows you to enjoy life to the fullest. Evolution dictates that strength and endurance ensures the survival of a species. However, as modern humans, we have nothing to hunt and no predators to avoid….and are left to our devices to figure out the big M – Motivation.

I have succeeded in nailing down my own M …and along the way discovered the joy of ignoring counter-motivational advices. So, if you happen to have “work out more” on your resolution list for years, you may want to check out my alternative perspective!


Counter-motivational advice #1 – Find an exercise that you like

Source: blog.aarp.org
Source: blog.aarp.org

Health experts understand the importance of getting over that first motivation hump. So they say “find something you like!”. And they give you a list of activities to try out.

Here’s the problem – I KNOW what’s out there, I have not been living under a rock. In fact, I can give a lecture on workout trends from the Jane Fonda era to last week’s favourites.

For the motivationally-challenged, it is not about the options. It is about how our brains have been wired to separate “Exercise” from “Pleasure”. Walking-and-shopping for 3 hours = Joy.  Walking for 20 minutes to burn calories = Not Joy.

Only after we get over the hump, we can associate working out with pleasures. But to pick an exercise before our self-motivation kicks in? Does not work.

What works for me instead: 

Source: Favim.com
Source: Favim.com

Learning from the kids (useful if you are a parent!)
My 5-year old has lots of “outside” time both at home and at school. Basically, running, jumping, sandbox digging, silly chasing, etc. He also knows about mommy’s “exercise time” (home gym).

One day, he saw a jogger and commented that he was being silly “He is running on the street!”. I explained to him that jogging is a kind of exercise and; when I work out at home, that’s another kind of exercise. His little brain associates all those running and jumping as “play”…and who cares if he is tired and should come in for a rest…no…PLAY MORE.

What does that mean to you? It means, anytime, and I do mean anytime, you are moving, you can consider that an exercise. Browsing the antique market on a Sunday? Yes, count that in. Strolling over to the neighbourhood ice cream parlour? It counts. Marathon shopping spree? Most definitely.

Pay attention to how your body feels during and especially afterwards. That sweating, that little sore, that little bit of tiredness…it’s your body working.  Start with pleasure and you will soon find yourself yearning for more.

Move like a French Woman (by Mireille Guiliano)

Source: favim.com
Source: favim.com

Mireille Guiliano said it so well that I rather just refer you to her article What is means to move like a French Woman. It echoes what I’ve written above…but much better 🙂

It’s only the view of the workout as mandatory sentence that rubs us the wrong way.

Counter-motivational advice #2 – Happy Pictures

I used to buy health magazines when I needed some visual motivators. Somehow seeing happy people with glowing skin riding a bike made me feel instantly more virtuous, as if their “happy to be fit” attitudes somehow would rub off on me.


Needless to say, nothing really changed after a few moments of borrowed euphoria.

Here’s the problem. Those pictures are “photoshopped emotions”. In real life, people do not smile, sans sweat and in perfectly groomed hair, when they work out. Observe athletes – they mean business and they do not wear a silly grin.

Not all visuals are created equal. Here’s a super collection “Reasons to be Fit” that I go back to time after time, even adopting some as my Facebook banner. Below are a few that speak to me:





I also LOVE pictures that demonstrate “grace and strength”, like the one below (I don’t remember where it is from, but will update if I locate the source).

balance strength and beauty

Counter-motivational advice #3 – No Pain No Gain

This advice is passe but many people still subscribe to it. That’s really unfortunate, because it is about how hard you work and not how much it hurts – there is an important fine line between the two.

Without being preachy, let’s just say make sure you know what you are doing, get the right professional guidance, and know and do everything to prevent injuries.

Another reason why this is so counter-motivational is that it is telling you, the current couch potato to “Get up, you need to do this 60 days programme, 30 mins a day, then you will be all good!”. So, you work out as per instructed, feeling half dead after 10 mins, about to puke in 20…..and somehow you need to mutter the enthusiasm to feel half-dead again the next day?

This is perhaps the only area in life where I would say – forget the principle of commitment. DO commit to work out but DO NOT commit to how long or how frequent.  Get yourself in the gym or in front of that DVD, start moving. If you are unfit, you will likely start sweating in 5 mins and seriously panting in 10 mins. Bon, c’est tout for the day. Enjoy that feeling of your heart beating, the sweat beads, the feeling of being alive.

When you look forward to that same endorphin fit the next day, you are already on the winning track. Before you know, you will complete the whole workout and ready for more.

The bottom line is: find that little morsel of joy and it will motivate you to go back and do more until exercising becomes your daily Joie de Vivre.

So, friends, have you experienced the same thing? Do you have similar stories to share? Any great pictures to share?

Styling Tips from Super Heroes

Out of all superheroes, Iron Man is my favourite because he is one stylish dresser.

Think about it. Iron Man’s super power is his intelligence, accompanied by a sense of justice and integrity. His armour is the result of his ingenuity and is used as a tool to achieve peace and justice.

To top it off, he has a whole collection of suits for different situations. All beautifully-crafted powerful technology.


On the other hand, most if not all superheroes wear the same signature outfit. Batman has his dark suit (the design does evolve over time), Daredevil prefers head-to-toe red, Superman has a cape, and Wonder Woman spins around and transforms into the same thing every time.

Moreover, while many costumes are designed to mask the identity of the hero, Iron Man is loud and proud and is totally “out”. He is fighting the bad guys in his own name.

How’s this related to styling?

I know it may sound farfetched but that’s just how my brain works so allow me to explain!

To me, Iron Man represents a woman who:

  • knows herself really well and is aware of her power, knowledge and experience.
  • has a high sense of self-awareness and is comfortable in her own skin.
  • builds her own style (does not follow trends or let others “give” her a style).
  • understands the importance of dressing appropriately for each occasion.

Conclusion: You really cannot be stylish unless you have substance.

What do you think? Do you know someone who is a superhero dresser?

Setback? The Art of U-Turning.

Mastering the skills of U-Turning will save you lots of anguish (and wrinkles).


I had a bad meeting yesterday. It did turn out to be successful….. but I was painfully aware of my sub-par performance in steering the conversation smoothly. If I am a 10 on my best day, yesterday would be a 4. As someone who have been told (by too many, for too many times) that I tend to be hard on myself, I would still be beating myself up …. had I not been introduced to the art of u-turning.

Curiously, I came across the term “U Turn” not in any business or self-improvement book, but a diet book – You: on a Diet (sidenote: a fun reference but no, I did not follow their programme.) In fact, the authors use “YOU turn” but you get the gist of it….Here’s an article that explains “YOU-turn”.

In essence, U-turning is about expecting or even planning for curve balls, so you are constantly armed with both the mindset and strategy to efficiently deal with setback as productively as possible. As the saying goes, why cry over spilled milk?

It is similar to business terms like Pivoting (Lean Startup) or a post-mortem that some companies conduct after completing a project.

Source: conferencebites.com
Source: conferencebites.com

Hats off if you were born with a U-Turn radar. But if you are more like the old-me who had a tough time dealing with setback, I hope this post provides with you something to consider! Chin up!