506: Finding the Joy of Missing Out with Tonya Dalton (Host of Productivity Paradox)

By October 25, 2019Podcasts


Tonya Dalton explains how saying no to opportunities leads to more satisfying work days.

You’ll Learn:

  1. Why you should embrace JOMO
  2. How to determine worthwhile opportunities
  3. How to say “no” without feeling guilty

About Tonya:

Tonya Dalton is a productivity expert, author, speaker and founder of inkWELL Press Productivity Co, a company centered around productivity tools and training. She released her first book, The Joy of Missing Out, with Harper Collins this month.

Tonya’s messages about business management, productivity, and the pursuit of passion have impacted thousands and inspired her to launch her podcast, Productivity Paradox which has surpassed more than 1.5 million downloads.

Tonya has been featured on Real SimpleEntrepreneur, Inc.CheddarLauren Conrad, and Fast Company among other places. In 2019, Tonya received the Enterprising Woman of the Year Award and was named North Carolina’s Female Entrepreneur to Watch by The Ladders.

Resources mentioned in the show:

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Tonya Dalton Interview Transcript

Pete Mockaitis
Tonya, welcome back to the How To Be Awesome At Your Job podcast.

Tonya Dalton

Thank you so much for having me. I’m thrilled to be here again.

Pete Mockaitis
Well, I’m glad we didn’t miss out on having you back again. We’re going to talk about your book, The Joy of Missing Out, and maybe you could orient us first and foremost. So FOMO versus JOMO, what’s the story here?

Tonya Dalton
For your listeners who are not familiar, FOMO is the fear of missing out, which I think so many people experience. They feel like opportunity knocks and, “I have to open up that door every single time. Otherwise, I’m going to miss out. And if I do, oh my gosh, I’m going to worry about it.” And it’s this terrible thing. And so, we often have this fear of missing out. And, to alleviate that fear of missing out, we try to do everything. We chase our tails being busy all day long, trying to do it all.

And I try to tell people, all right, we need to let go of the FOMO and embrace the JOMO. We need a little more joy of missing out. I truly believe that there is happiness already really nestled into our day. There’s joy just waiting to be had, but because we’re filling our days and because it’s so crammed full of tasks and errands and projects and this and that and the other, we miss out on finding that joy, even though it’s right there.

So when you think about your ideal day, there’s a lot of incredible, amazing things in it, but there’s also some things that are missing. There’s that feeling of being stretched too thin, that’s gone. That feeling of saying yes out of obligation instead of saying yes to things you want to say yes to, that’s missing. So really getting rid of a lot of that clutter and that noise in our lives, that busy-ness allows us to find the joy that’s already there waiting to be had.

Pete Mockaitis
Boy, I think that really resonates. My mom just recently reminded me that John Mulaney has a joke, one of his specials associated with, once you reach a certain age, when plans get canceled on you, it’s like crack, it’s so thrilling and exciting because you finally have the opportunity to do nothing.

Tonya Dalton

Pete Mockaitis
Which is awesome. And so then, that just sort of raises the question, well, why not just conscientiously decide to do nothing?

Tonya Dalton
Why don’t we purposely choose to have our days with a little bit of more open space, a little more freedom in our day?

Pete Mockaitis
And so when it comes to the joy of missing out versus the fear of missing out, to what extent is it true that you might be missing out and that’s terrifying and really unfortunate that you are not taking advantage of a given opportunity versus false. And I guess that’s kind of the core of it. Is identifying what matters and, and making informed choices. But are there some reliable guides, some indicators, that, “Ah, this is all an opportunity well worth taking,” or, “I really will regret missing out on this opportunity”?

Tonya Dalton
Yes, I really think so. It really is this idea, when we’re talking about productivity, I think the reason why productivity has failed so many people is because they think there’s this magic system out there, and they think they have to work their life and shift it and change it and make it work to fit this system. When in effect, let’s put you and your priorities front and center, and then let’s custom design a system to work for you to play to your strengths and play to your weaknesses.

And when you do that, when you create a system for your life that really feels manageable, maintainable because it plays to your strengths and to your weaknesses, when you really are allowing your priorities to sit front and center, that can really act as your filter for “What do I want to say yes to,” and, “What should I really be saying no to more often?”

I think that’s the issue a lot of times, is that it’s not when it’s black or white. It’s not when it’s good and bad. It’s when it’s the good, better and best. How do you know what to say yes to and what you should really, just let that opportunity knock and move on by to the next door so to speak?

And so really that’s one of the things that we talk about a lot in the book is, this idea of it isn’t just about saying no, it’s about finding your yes. It’s finding the yeses that are meant for you. The things that are really tied to your priorities, to your purpose, to your passion.

And a lot of that is really tied to the idea of your North Star, which is what I talk about in the first section of the book, which is your mission, your vision and your core values, and really allowing that to be your filter. To act as your first filter for, there’s opportunities here, do I even want to say yes to it?

Because I think that’s the problem. Is a lot of times we think to ourselves, “Well, I’ve got 15 minutes, I’ve got the time to do this 30 minute project, so I should just say yes.” And really, the question of time, that’s not really what we should be asking ourselves. We should be asking ourselves, “Does this fit the life I’m really looking for?”

I have this whole finding your yes blueprint that we walk through in the book, that asks these questions. How does the opportunity feel? Why do you want to take it on? Does this align with your North Star? We don’t ask the question of time until like four or five questions in. And I think that’s the problem is, we don’t often times know what we want to say yes to.

So in an effort to be at all, we say yes to everything, and that’s why we end up feeling overwhelmed, because we don’t know what we want to say no to. And I truly believe we all have our own yeses that are meant for us, that are tied to our North Star. And when we can really figure that out and we can use that North Star as our filter, that makes it so much easier to let those other opportunities to pass us by, and not feel like we’re truly missing out. To feel like, okay, this feels good. That these things are not things I’ve taken on.

Pete Mockaitis:
You said overwhelming and that reminds me of our previous conversation. I thought about it again and again, and you said, you said it better than, “That it’s installed into my brain.” But you said that, “The feeling of overwhelm comes not so much from having too much to do, but rather the feeling that we’re not actually making progress on the things that are important to us.” Did I say that right or how do you say it?

Tonya Dalton
I like to say the overwhelm isn’t having too much to do, it’s not knowing where to start. So it’s tied to that whole idea of, what do I want to work on? What do I want to say yes to and where do I start? And we’re spinning in circles, driving ourselves crazy. And this is why we feel overwhelmed because we have a to-do list that is three miles too long and unachievable and unattainable in our day.

And this is what happens is we end up with this long to-do list. We’re checking a million things off of it. We’re running around busy, slipping into bed at night thinking, “Gosh, why didn’t I get more done?” Even though we were busy all day long. Even though we chased our tail. Even though we checked all those things off.

When instead we choose where we’re going to start, when we choose to focus in on what’s most important to us as the cornerstone of our day and really the center point of what we want to do. When we do that and we do fewer tasks that have more meaning, that is when we really feel like we’ve accomplished something. That’s when we finish our days feeling satisfied.

And I think that’s really the difference is, knowing where to start that you’re not going to start with the menial tasks, the things that aren’t really important and driving you forward, but knowing where you’re going to start with those big tasks that feel really good to our soul. Instead of filling our calendar, let’s work on filling our souls and feeling really good about our days.

Pete Mockaitis
I think the corollary to that that struck me is that, I’ve had days that had lots of activity to them, but I didn’t feel overwhelmed, and it’s because each of those things indeed was filling up the soul.

Tonya Dalton

Pete Mockaitis
And I think it’s hard to feel overwhelmed say on a camping trip. Even though I’m doing a lot of things. I might be hauling a canoe over my head, cutting wood-

Tonya Dalton
Catching dinner.

Pete Mockaitis
… Boiling water. Yes. It’s like there’s a lot of activities happening here, but I don’t feel frantic. Like, oh no, it’s just sort of like, well, yes, this is exactly what I wanted it to be doing, is enjoying some outdoor time and being with great people and mission accomplished.

Tonya Dalton
Yeah. I think that’s so true and I think this is the thing. I like to tell people that productivity is like what I use to get them in the door. “Oh, come over here, look at their productivity,” and then they come in and I go, “Okay, it’s really about being intentional. It’s really about intentional living.”

It’s choosing how you want to have lived your life and choosing how you’re going to spend your day, and really doing the things that do have meaning to you. Whether that is when you’re camping and doing a lot of things that are really important, like you said, like getting the canoe together and getting dinner and cooking the dinner and doing all those things.

You end up feeling really good because you’ve gotten something accomplished. You’ve worked towards your goal versus chasing our tails, picking up the dry cleaning, returning a shirt to Target, doing these little teeny tiny tasks that are really filling up our schedule and keeping us from doing the important work that will make us feel like we’re making big steps towards where it is we want to go.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well, so now I want to talk a little bit about the particular how’s of zeroing in on some of the North Star guidance. But first maybe could you inspire us by shooting a tale of a transformation? Someone that you worked with who was dealing with one set of circumstances and experiences of stress, anxiety, overwhelm, and then what that person did and the results that emerged?

Tonya Dalton
Yeah, absolutely. So I’ve worked with a lot of different people. I like to tell people that I’ve worked with men and women in all different seasons of life with all different life circumstances. I think the difference that it makes with what I teach in the book and in my courses is truly, it’s all about customizing it so it works for you.

So, I had this one woman who I was working with who was really struggling because she just felt like she was in a dead end job, but she felt like, “Well, I don’t really have any choices because this is what I trained for. This is what I’ve been doing for the past 10, 15 years, so there’s no other options for me. There’s no other place to go look because this is just how things are.”

And I think that’s oftentimes what people fool themselves into believing that there are no choices. When in fact if we look around and we change our perspective a little bit, there are options everywhere. It’s just a matter of sometimes having to go and look for them a little bit.

So she was feeling really, really stuck and those are her own words. She was like, “I just feel stuck and I feel like, I’m not really happy, but this is just how life is. I’m chasing after the kids and I’m doing all the things that they need me to do, and there’s no time left for me.”

So she and I sat down and we worked on, discovering her North Star, uncovering what her mission, her vision and her core values are, and then creating all these systems at work around that. And it was interesting, because at the start of working together through this course, she was really determined that this was just not going to work, because this was just how life was.

And then by the second week you could see that she was like, “Okay, there are some choices.” So we first opened up her eyes to the choices and really taking a lot of what she discovered about herself. And this is why I think it’s so important to start with that discovery phase. To really think about who you are in your heart of hearts.

So she took what she learned from that discovery phase, and then she started really implementing that into, how do I make it so this is the center point of my day. And so she started to feel really good about that. And then we started doing the simplifying and adding systems and making sure all the other things are running.

And then now, I just caught up with her a couple of weeks ago and she goes, “I quit my job. I’m now doing something I’m absolutely passionate about. I had conversations with my family about what their schedule look like, what did I want, what did they want?” We have a lot of these misconceptions that our kids want to do 5,000 different things. Our boss wants to give us 5,000 different projects.

And when I started having her create these conversations where she was like, “What do you really want? What are your priorities?” We began to uncover that a lot of this was stories she was telling herself. That her kids really wanted to do five different after school activities every day. When in reality, her kids were like, “No, we’d be fine just doing, piano and doing field hockey.”

And so she was like, “Oh.” So she was able to really make that manageable, not only for herself but also for her family. And now she’s starting up a job that she’s truly passionate about, that’s really tied very strongly to one of her core values of faith. And she says she’s in a completely different span of life than she was back when we started a year ago, because she really customized and made it all work for her.

And to me that is really what’s most exciting. Is when you see those light bulb moments where people are like, “Oh, I do have choices.” Or, “Oh, this is why I feel this way.” Or, “Oh, I love how now I’m spending more time on these things I really love.”

I mean that’s just one example, but I’ve had people who have gone back to school. I’ve had people who have changed careers. I’ve had people who’ve done all different kinds of things, because I think when we open our eyes and we begin to realize that we really can make life work for us, that life is meant to be enjoyed rather than just endured. And that we can create systems so the other things still happen so that the grass still gets mowed, the bills still get paid, the laundry gets done, and those types of things, that it really is achievable to have that ideal day and make that into your everyday. And that is truly what I love about what I do.

Pete Mockaitis
That’s exciting stuff. And so, we talked about that mission, vision, values pieces last time. So I’d like to zoom in on saying no in terms of one, I guess being okay internally, psychologically with your own self—

Tonya Dalton
Going to say space to say no, yes.

Pete Mockaitis
And secondly, how you find the ability to articulate that when you’re kind of nervous. What are your top perspectives when it comes to saying no well?

Tonya Dalton
Well I think this is one of the problems that people have is, sometimes we know we should say no and we’re like, “Ooh, I want to say no to this.” But yes, feels so good coming out of our mouth for about 10 seconds. And then it’s like, what did I just say yes to? Because a lot of times we’re either taken off guard or we feel guilty. We feel bad because we feel like we’ve let people down.

And we forget that every time we say yes, we’re actually saying no to something else. So every time we say yes to someone else’s project, we’re saying no to our own passion project. When we’re saying yes to volunteering for a project that we’re not really excited about or truly invested in, we’re saying no to our own goals and we’re saying no to time with our family.

So if you start to reframe that and realize, you know what, every time I am saying yes, I’m actually saying no, but most times I’m saying no to my own priorities and to the people and to the things that are truly important to me. I think that’s the first stepping stone to get to is to realize, “What am I saying no to every time I’m saying yes?” Because I really think that makes you stop and think for a minute when somebody asks you to do something.

But I think it’s really important too, to have a little something in your back pocket ready to go. Because we are thrown off guard, and then a lot of times if we say no, we ended up overexplaining, over apologizing and somehow, somehow getting roped into saying yes after all.

I like to teach people that there’s a really simple strategy to use called the sandwich strategy. And it’s like the little black dress of saying no. It works in all situations and it really is so simple and easy to do.

So it’s essentially this idea that if you think about a sandwich, you have two pieces of bread with some kind of filling in the middle, the meat in the middle, right? Well, with our sandwich strategy here, we have two slices of kindness, that’s our bread with that solid no right there in the middle.

And when we sandwich our know, it makes it more palatable. It’s easier to give, and it’s easier for that person to receive so there’s not a lot of guilt.

So let me give you an example. Let’s say someone asks you to volunteer for yet another project. You could say to them, “Oh, thank you so much for thinking of me. I really appreciate that you’re pulling together a group of people to really make this fundraiser happen. Unfortunately I can’t give it the time it deserves. However, I do have some ideas that I’d done for this other project, so I’d be happy to pass those along to you.”

So there, we’ve had kindness at the front, kindness in the end, but right there in that middle there was that no. There’s no question about it. I can’t give it the time it deserves.

And to be honest with you, that phrase, I can’t give it the time it deserves, is one of my favorite phrases to use when you’re saying no. Because I’m not saying I’m busy, I’m not elevating myself. I’m not saying what they’re doing is unimportant. In fact, I’m saying, “Gosh, what you’re doing is so important, it really deserves time and I am not able to give it to it.”

So that’s really the sandwich strategy in a nutshell. It’s starting with kindness, putting in you no and then finishing up with a slice of kindness.

And because it works for all situations, it’s so easy to remember. If let’s say that somebody asks you to go out for a girls night, and you’re really wanting to spend more time at home with your spouse. You could say, “Oh, thank you so much for asking me to the movies. I’ve heard some really great things about it. I’m so sorry, but right now I’m really committed to spending a little more time at home with my husband, and so I’m going to give this time to him. I really think you guys are going to enjoy the movie and I would love to go next time.”

I think so often we forget that being kind and being assertive are not mutually exclusive. We can be assertive with our time, we can be assertive with our calendars, we can be assertive with our boundaries. And that doesn’t mean we don’t have to be kind or generous or thoughtful. We can be both at the very same time.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Excellent. That’s a real nice clear perspective on saying the no. And so then, you’ve got a nice section on finding clarity within the realms of focus, time and energy. How do you recommend we go about doing these things?

Tonya Dalton
Well, this is the thing is, I think we don’t realize that we have these three precious resources of time, focus and energy. Once we give those away, we cannot get them back. Once you give away time, there’s no getting it back. But we don’t think anything of handing out 10 minutes here, 15 minutes there, five minutes here.

If we thought about our time like we do our money, we wouldn’t do that. If we had a set amount of money for the week, we would make sure that we paid our bills, that we fed ourselves and fed our families. We would make sure that we paid our mortgage before we started handing out dollar bills. But with our time, we don’t think about, first I need to invest it in the places that matter, invest it in my priorities, invest it in my goals, and then I can hand it out.

So when we shift the way that we’re looking at how we spend our time and we start looking at it as an investment, I think that really does help. So we go through in that section, that section two of the book, this whole idea of how do we clarify our day so that really we are spending most of our time on what matters most.

And this is where I get into that very controversial idea of tossing the to-do list. The to-do list is one of those things that people have talked about for decades and decades. It started back with Bethlehem Steel where they started doing a to-do list. That’s where it actually originated. And people have taken it so much further than what it was originally intended.

It was originally intended to be a list of three things when it first was brought about. And now people have these to-do lists that are 25 miles too long. So I really tell people, “The problem with a to-do list is it’s taking you everywhere, but where you want to go. It’s long, it’s unorganized, it’s jumbled, and it doesn’t tell you where to start.” And as we said earlier, overwhelm isn’t having too much to do, it’s not knowing where to start.

So if instead of making a to-do list, you spend five seconds longer—and I can promise you that’s all it takes—to make a priority list, that tells you very intentionally where you want to start. I like to say that a priority list is a to-do list with intention.

So like I said, it takes the same amount of time. It’s just really thinking through what are the tasks that are most important to you?

So it’s a little bit of a riff on the Eisenhower matrix, which I know you’re familiar with and I’m sure your listeners are familiar with, which was originated from Dwight D. Eisenhower, our most productive president, and then adopted later on by Franklin Covey and that whole system. But we, instead of having the four quadrants in the priority list, we start at the top with, there’s three levels.

So we have the top level, which is escalate, which is our tasks that are important and they’re urgent. So they’re important in that they are connected to our North Star. That mission, that vision, that core values. It’s linked to a goal. It’s something that’s essential to be done by us. It’s advantageous. It’s not tied to our perfectionism or a story that we’re telling ourselves about what we should be doing. So it’s important, but it’s also urgent.

And so we put our items at the very top because that’s really where we want to begin our day. With the things that are important, but have a deadline, because that’s why they’re urgent. And then that next level goes right underneath it. So instead of being a quadrant, it’s just almost like a vertical list. That second level is cultivate. Which are our tasks that are important but not really urgent.

So what’s amazing here is that this is truly the area where you’re going to see a lot of professional growth, a lot of personal growth, because these are things that are going to cultivate. These are investments in ourselves that will pay dividends in the future. So these are things like, creating a budget, taking a course, bettering yourself, reading articles that are in your industry, doing things like that. Working on a presentation that’s not due for another two weeks.

So things that are really important, but they’re not urgent. But because they’re not urgent, a lot of times those get pushed aside, even though that’s really where we’re going to see the most growth because they’re not screaming out at us. So that’s our second level.

And then our third level is our accommodate. And these are our tasks that are urgent. So they’re screaming out, they want to be done, but they’re not necessarily important. They’re not really tied to our goals, our vision of where we want to go. But because they’re screaming out at us, we oftentimes want to do them first. And a lot of times they’re really easy things. There the kind of ticky tack things in our day. Running to the dry cleaner, or returning a shirt to Target, Answering emails. Because 99% of what’s in your inbox right now, is not really important, but it’s urgent. It needs to be done. Those emails need to be returned.

So when we create this priority list with those three levels of escalate, cultivate, and then accommodate, and we start our day at the top and work our way down, it really does help us focus our day on what’s most important. Because we’re beginning with those important tasks and we’re making sure those get tackled first, which is why we can end up feeling like we have bigger wins in our day. And I think that’s really important, ending our day feeling successful.

Pete Mockaitis
Let’s talk about email for a second here. So I agree with you that the vast majority of the emails that come in are not necessary to look at or reply. And yet, there are some that are just, change your life.

Tonya Dalton
That’s true. That is true. Not everything that’s in there is trash. There’s some jewels in there, yes, for sure.

Pete Mockaitis
So how do you think about processing email?

Tonya Dalton
Well this is the thing is, you’re right. There’s lots of great nuggets in there. There’s a lot of things that we need to just kind of discard and get rid of or just quickly reply to. Email is an important communication tool, especially when used correctly.

The problem is though, is that your inbox is like digging a hole in a sand storm. That whole idea of the inbox zero is such a great idea and I’m an inbox zero type of person, but that zero, and this is what I can’t remember his name, Merlin Mann, I think it is.

Pete Mockaitis
Merlin Mann.

Tonya Dalton
Yes, Merlin Mann who came up with that term. He talks about, it’s not about the zero, it’s not really about the number, it’s about how you feel about your inbox. That it’s not really dictating your day and it’s not taking over your day. So if we’re spending all day going into our inbox, trying to empty it out, but it keeps filling itself back up, that is really an exercise in frustration. And it’s taking up so much of our time, considering most of the information in there is not truly important.

So if instead, we chose to very intentionally batch our emails and check our emails, let’s say four times in a day, that would give us bigger pockets to focus on the important work.

So for me, and I’m going to go ahead and throw this out there, and tell you that email for me, I’m like Pavlov’s dog. I hear that ping of the inbox and I’m like, “Oh, what’s in there?” I don’t know why. I don’t know what it is. It’s not the same way with texts. But, I love checking my inbox, even though I know it’s mostly junk.

So what I did for myself is, I started checking email four times a day. So I come into the office, I start off by creating my priority list. I process my day, I take care of setting my day up, and then I check my email for the first time. Then I let other people’s priorities begin to invade my calendar.

So I do a quick check and I get myself a container of time, 15 to 20 minutes to check it in the morning. And then I check it again around lunchtime, and then I check it again mid afternoon, and I check it again after closing time for work.

And I do it four times a day because that allows me to get through my inbox and really respond to the things that are important in there and allows me to clean it out and keep on top of it. But I’m not in there all day long.

So what happens is, if we’re checking email every five minutes or so, we’re continually interrupting ourselves. We’re not getting to that deep work where we can really do great things, the important tasks on our list.

If instead we batch it, we have these bigger blocks of focus time, where we can really get into our big work. And I think that this is the thing. It’s not about getting rid of email. It’s really about how can we make email effective, so it truly does work for us. So for me it’s four times a day.

Now I have worked with other people who are like I only check it twice a day. I have some people who were like, “Four times will not work with me. I need to do six or I need to do eight.” And I’m like, “That is great.” Again, it should be totally customized to what works for you, just be intentional with it. Make a decision when you’re going to be in and when you’re going to be out. And when you set that container of time, abide by it. And then use the time that you were checking email to do that big important work instead.

Pete Mockaitis
And so for you personally, four bouts of 15 to 20 minutes keeps you in control such that you are hovering near zero ish most of the time?

Tonya Dalton:
Yes. And like anything else, when you’re batching tasks, you’re able to do it a little bit faster. You’re getting kind of that zone where you’re just automatically like, “Okay, quickly checking them,” and you can tell what’s trash and what’s not. And you’re cleaning it out and you’re checking things. And because you’re in that batch zone, it’s so much more effective than if I pop in there and I check one or two emails, and then I come in 10 minutes later and I check one or two more emails, and then I come in 10 minutes later.

Anytime that we’re batching tasks and we’re doing the same repetitive action again and again over and over again, it’s very similar to that assembly line, right? It just moves quicker. So we get that task done off of our plate and then we move on to what is truly important.

Pete Mockaitis:
All right, so Tonya, when folks are on board, they say, yes, JOMO, I’m embracing it, I’m going to live it and love it, are there any common mistakes or missteps that seem to pop up a lot when folks are starting down this journey?

Tonya Dalton:
Well, I think one of the biggest mistakes we make, and this happens whether it’s with JOMO, or a goal, or a project or anything else, is we try to take it all on at once. Okay, there’s all these different things you can do, and we talk about different strategies and tactics throughout the book, but people try to take it all on at the same time.

I think anytime that you’re trying to effect a change and you’re trying to, maybe live more intentionally, it’s okay, let’s take a step back and let’s figure out what’s one thing you want to do first. Let’s focus just on one small thing and let’s make these adjustments slowly. So it really feels a little more natural so we can begin to see how does this really work for you? And we can make those adjustments that I think are really important and are really necessary.

And then maybe a week later, let’s add another step. And then maybe a week later, let’s add two more steps. And build up to it instead of trying to take it all on.

It’s kind of like, have you ever tried to start getting up earlier. People think, “Oh, I want to start this morning routine so. You know what, I’m going to start getting up two hours earlier.” Well, getting up two hours earlier, getting up at eight o’clock in the morning and then six o’clock the next morning, that’s jarring to your system.

So instead back it up. Back it up 30 minutes for the first couple of days, and back it up another 30 minutes and then back it up 30 minutes again. It’s taking these baby steps and making it so we can acclimate to these changes and really start building them in as habits. Because that’s one of the other things that we talk about throughout the book is, this idea of let’s take the thinking out of it. Let’s make it so a lot of these intentional things that we’re doing, these intentional choices, become habits. So we don’t even have to think about them, they just happen automatically.

We talk about that whole idea that our brain is one 50th of our body, but it burns one fifth of our calories. And we can choose, do we want to burn our calories on the nonsense and the things that aren’t really important? Or do we want to burn our calories on the things that are really going to drive us towards that life we really want? And when we choose to allow habits to kind of step in and work on autopilot, especially when they’re good, healthy, intentional habits, that allows all that to run automatically and seamlessly, allowing our brains to really focus in on what matters most.

Pete Mockaitis
And when it comes to these baby steps, have you found historically that there tends to be one or two or three that make a world of difference, and just get that ball rolling quite effectively, consistently?

Tonya Dalton
I love that question. I would say, just like anything else I talk about, I think it really is personal to you. I usually tell people, “Start with what you’re most excited about. Start with what you’re most passionate about. What got you most excited? Let’s start there, instead of trying to say like, you have to start here, then you go here.”

The one thing that I do really encourage people to do is really do start with that discovery phase of what is important to you, because then we can really tweak and make everything work for you. And when I say for you, I don’t just mean like what you’re really good at. I also mean what you’re not good at. Let’s make it play to your strengths and your weaknesses.

So thinking about that and then starting with what you’re truly most excited about. Let’s say that the morning routine is what you’re most excited about. Let’s start there. Maybe it’s the priority list, then I would start there. So really to me, ultimately, with everything that I teach and everything that I talk about, it really is about this idea of customizing productivity, making it mold and work to you and your life. Instead of you feeling like you have to twist and turn yourself to fit the systems, let’s twist and turn the systems so they work for you.

And that’s really what I want people to get out of the book is that, when they finish reading the book, they’re like, “Okay, I know how to make this system for myself work, and I’m ready to get started.”
Because I wanted people to feel like they had a roadmap for how am I going to really start implementing this idea into my real everyday life? It needs to really work for me.

Pete Mockaitis
All right. Well Tonya, I want to hear about some of your favorite things and we’ll see if any thing’s newly favorite. Last time your favorite quote was from Oprah. Are you sticking with, “Do not think you can be brave with your life and your work and never disappoint anyone. It doesn’t work that way.” Or, do you have a new favorite one?

Tonya Dalton
Good question. That’s still my favorite. It’s really hard to let go. I mean, Oprah, she knows what she’s talking about. And I think too, I think this is a thing, especially when I talk to people about, JOMO and really finding that joy of missing out, that there’s going to be times that people do push back. There’s going to be times that people are like, “Well I just think you should say yes to this because you should say yes to it,” and don’t believe you can be brave in this life and not get a little bit of flack from people. But yeah, I’m still with Oprah. She and I are still one.

Pete Mockaitis:
Okay. All right. We’re sticking with it. And last time you had a favorite study about multitasking at a Duke. Any other studies that have caught your eye?

Tonya Dalton
Well, I have this other study that’s actually about multitasking that I really like as well.

Pete Mockaitis
Let’s hear it.

Tonya Dalton
Multitasking seems to be one of my favorite things. There’s been a lot of studies on it and there was a study at the University of London on multitasking, and what they found was that, when people were multitasking, they performed as well as people who had stayed up all night long. And so what they did is they had a control group that was, multitasking. They had a group that went to bed, they had a group that stayed up all night long, and they had a group that smoked marijuana.

Now, the people who are multitasking did not perform as well as the people who had stayed up all night or the people who had smoked marijuana. So I like to tell people, “When you are multitasking, not only are you increasing your cortisol, not only are you stressing yourself out, but you might as well either stay up all night or smoke drugs.” To me it’s most interesting about this study—

Pete Mockaitis
“You might as well smoke drugs,” wonderful pull quote.

Tonya Dalton
Maybe not my pull quote please, no… But I think that’s so true. When people hear that, they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I keep multitasking because I think it’s increasing my productivity,” but it actually is decreasing your productivity 40%. That means you’re losing about, I think it’s like 17 hours a week when you try to multitask. That’s a significant amount of time.

So really, when we think that we’re working harder, we’re not really working smarter, we’re just wearing ourselves out.

And the other part of that study that I thought was so fascinating is there was this inverse corollary where the better someone thought they were at multitasking, the worst they actually were. Which I found interesting because they said, they would ask people like, how good are you multitasking? And the higher they rated themselves, the worse they performed.

So this is the thing. There’s very few super taskers out there who really can multitask.

Pete Mockaitis
It’s almost like I’m one of them. So, caution, caution there. The odds are not in your favor.

Tonya Dalton
Yes, the odds are not in your favor and that’s one of the things that the researcher said. He says, “People want to fool themselves into believing that they’re the super taskers, but they’re not.” I mean, that’s like his direct quote, “but they’re not. They’re just fooling themselves.”

Pete Mockaitis
Well so, last time you mentioned your favorite book is Jane Eyre. Are there any other favorites you’d like to mention?

Tonya Dalton
Well, I just read not that long ago James Clear’s Atomic Habits, and I really enjoyed that book. That was something that I really enjoyed recently. On the fiction front, I’ve been doing quite a bit. I’ve been reading some Ruth Ware, and I’ve really been enjoying her. I don’t know if your listeners are familiar with her, but she just came out with one called Turn of The Key, and then she did, The Woman in Cabin 10. Those have been my reads lately that I’ve been enjoying.

Pete Mockaitis
And if folks want to learn more or get in touch, where would you point them?

Tonya Dalton
I would tell them to go to joyofmissingout.com for information on the book and where you can get that, it’s available really anywhere books are sold. And then if you want to connect with me or learn about my podcast or anything that I do, my products or anything else, you can go to tonyadalton.com. So that’s Tonya with an O and a Y, tonyadalton.com.

Pete Mockaitis
And you have a final challenge or call to action for folks seeking to be awesome at their jobs?

Tonya Dalton
My call to action could be just go get the book. Because I really do feel so passionate and excited about the book. But really what I want people to take away from this is, we’ve talked about that idea of the small steps and starting small. I think that that’s really what I want people to walk away from this episode remembering. That that ideal day that we dream about when we’re in the shower or we’re waiting for our coffee to brew, it feels so far away from where we are.

And, so because it feels so far away, we sometimes think it’s not ever going to be possible. But, if you take one small step each and every day closer to that ideal day, if you get 1% closer each week, by the end of a year, you’re going to be 52% closer to that ideal day, to that ideal life. It really is the tiny little itty bitty steps that matter.

We often think it’s the big giant leaps. It’s the leaps of faith and the giant running starts. But oftentimes, it’s just taking that first step that builds that initial momentum, and that’s really all we need to keep us moving forward. And one tiny step each and every day really does make a gigantic difference in how we feel about our days, and how we feel about ourselves, and how we feel about getting to that ideal life that we want.

Pete Mockaitis
Tonya, this has been so much fun. Thank you. I am overjoyed that we didn’t miss out on this conversation

Tonya Dalton
Me too.

Pete Mockaitis
So, keep up the good work.

Tonya Dalton

Thank you. Thank you so much for having me again. This was great.

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