contact us

Use the form on the right to contact Tremaine's team


123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789


You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Thinking about Thinking

Thoughts on thinking about thinking from the Raising Thinkers Series


Filtering by Tag: Executive Coaching

Two Simple Secrets to Getting More Out of Your Time

Tremaine du Preez

"How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."

~ Annie Dillard, The Writer's Life 

In my coaching practice I have an unusually high number of clients right now who feel unfulfilled, time-constrained and doing what's expected of them rather than what they want to do with their life. The year is not panning out the way they thought it would way back in January. Personal projects are lagging, dragging or even sidelined. And the reason I hear most often is that they simply don't have time for personal pursuits. They thought they would, but they really don't.

So I tell them this story

Some time ago my family decided to give up watching TV. We were so committed to this that we handed back our set top box - gulp. This was as hard to do as it sounds, especially over school holidays. Why would any family deny man's evolutionary right to waste away in front of scheduled programming? The short answer is that we were tired of never finishing our personal projects. "I just don't have time" had become our mantra.

So we took the plunge and channelled our evening down time into personal pursuits. I wrote a middle grade children's book (that I'm immensely proud of) in nothing more than 1/2 hour slots 3 nights a week over 3 months. Was I exhausted and wanting to chill in front of the tube, or Facebook, with a shiraz after hours? Yes, initially, but when I saw my story coming together and the real progress I was able to make - writing time with a glass of red became my after dinner treat that I wouldn't trade for anything.

What's your thing? Not everybody is a writer. A client of mine has been trying to get his personal travel blog out of his head and onto the web for three years. Three years! Is he super busy with a 100 000 air miles a year job? Does he have 6 kids? No - 1 child, normal working hours and an inability to say no to the many requests that come his way.

1. Good decision making is the first key to good time management 

Do you really need to be reminded that every hour you invest in something that doesn't fulfil you is an hour less invested in your dreams?

I challenge you to find a successful person who makes bad decisions about how they invest their time. Making hard decisions about how you spend your time is the ultimate investment in yourself. Would you hand over all of your monthly earnings to anyone that asks for cash? I'm guessing you wound't. Like me, you'd probably make sure that your financial commitments are honoured before handouts and charity became a possibility.

Our time is our greatest asset yet we often take less care with how we spend it than we do our cash.

There are lots of useful time managements tools, plans and strategies, I teach many of them. But good time management is not much more complicated than a successful diet.

You can't expect to maintain a healthy weight if you don't eat healthily. Healthy eating isn't about taking time to count calories, designing complicated quinoa dishes or spending Saturday mornings at health food stores. A healthy diet is about making good choices in the moment when you are faced with a take out menu, or during the weekly grocery shop.

We all have 24 units of time, everyday, but we make different decisions about how to spend it. Choosing to spend 1/2 hour on Facebook at night or on the novel that's well outside of your comfort zone but burning you up from the inside, is a decision that only you can make.

2. Weed out and scale back on quick-win projects

I'm guilty of pursuing those quick jobs that I can easily tick off my list. At least then I can look back at my day and say, "I got so much done - all the admin, all the chores, dry cleaning, emails, expenses. Boy I'm busy." These are quick win projects that fill our time and fulfil our need to be productive. Could you rather leave the washing on a Wednesday and take that language class that's been on your bucket list since before bucket lists were a thing?

After all, how you spend your day is your decision. Your days become your years and those years can't ever be relived.

Follow Tremaine to receive Monthly coaching tips: 

Tremaine du Preez is a behavioural economist, Huffington Post Blogger and lecturer in Critical Thinking, based in London. Her book Think Smart, Work Smarter - a practical guide to making better decisions at work is available from AmazonHer next book Raising Thinkers will be out soon.

5 Reasons Not To Set Goals For 2015 - Set Processes Instead

Tremaine du Preez

Are you one of the millions of people around the globe who wants to lose weight in 2015? Get in shape, take a course, get organised, save money or spend more time with your kids?

In my coaching practice we no longer help clients to set goals. Why? Well let's start with new year's resolutions: only 8% (1) of people that set them actually achieve them. We're in the business of making real changes, an 8% success rate isn't going to cut it.  Of course recording them as SMART goals works if you have a coach, buddy or boss to report to regularly, but alone (and who can keep a coach on the payroll forever?) we slip back into old habits like ice-cream down a cone in July. But that's not the only reason we've stopped setting goals. Here are 5 reasons followed by some ideas that will help you achieve your dreams in 2015. 

1. Goals are a constant reminder of what you haven't achieved
My son would love to get his 'pen licence' at school so he can move from writing in pencil to pen. It's been his 'goal' all year. Every week when his name is not called out another little part of him gives up on this dream. It no longer encourages him to write neater and try harder but is a constant reminder that he isn't good enough.

2. Goals force you to live in the future
Goals come with the expectation that you will be happier, healthier or more successful when you have achieved them."When I lose weight, I'll have more friends, be able to love myself or be taken seriously by my colleagues." They give us a reason for not finding these qualities in ourselves right now. Qualities reserved for our future self exclusively.

3. Once you've set them they're hard to get rid off
If you haven't really progressed towards your goal once the initial motivation runs out it won't simply disappear, it will hang around and continue to generate negative feelings. 

Joanne is a successful executive who came to us for coaching. She felt 15kg's overweight and loved nothing about herself. She brought along meal plans, food diaries, weight charts and a heavy heart. We discussed how she would feel without her history of failing to shed 15kg's. How she would feel without having that goal at all? Failing to lose weight had become a part of what defined her - her story.

Read on to see how we changed that.

4. Giving up a goal is bad for your health
People who don't reach their goals tend to set lower, more achievable goals over time - a natural self-protection mechanism. But disappointing yourself even once takes its toll on your body too. Failure releases the stress hormone cortisol and raises your blood pressure, which is especially harmful if the goal is continuously on your mind. 

5. Goals can lead to false conclusions
A failed goal can be seen as proof that things can't change. 

There is a better way of achieving your objectives

Before I begin writing a new book. I go through days of paralysis when I'm unable to write anything because all I can think about is having to put down 80 000 intelligent words in the correct order in 6 short months. I drink too much coffee, my heart murmur shouts at me and I bite my nails as I sit and watch the earth turn and the hours drip by. Tick tock. Then I panic because my publisher is expecting more than the nothing I currently have. 

I only move forward when I remind myself that a book is a collection of chapters that consist of paragraphs. Paragraphs are just single sentences of words strung together between periods. Today I have to write a paragraph, not a book. One idea, not 50. 

Set Processes not goals
Our journey creates our destination and the actions that we take everyday create our future success. Instead of setting goals with our clients, we set processes. We agree on the small and detailed steps that they must take everyday in order to move forward in the right direction. We are aware of the final goal that they would like to achieve, but they have no power over that goal. They have power over what they do tomorrow and the next day and the day after that. That's what I'm interested in. That's worth talking about.

How Joanne changed her life
Joanne's previous weight loss plans had involved going to the gym, eating half of what was on her plate and giving up Friday drinks. Losing weight became associated with giving up the things that she enjoyed. So when she felt stressed or angry or tired she reverted straight back to eating what she shouldn't - and then felt guilty about it. 

So instead of focussing on losing weight, we focussed on the positive changes she could make everyday. Not changes where she would have to sacrifice anything but rather where she could add to her daily activities. To drink an extra glass of water between drinks on Friday night. Order a vegetable side dish and eat that before the main dish. Walk in the park on a Saturday morning. It wasn't long before Joanne stopped thinking about losing weight and focussed instead on being the caretaker of her body. She celebrated every successful week and corrected herself when she veered off track. Losing weight was no longer about shedding unwanted parts of herself but taking care of her future self, everyday. 

If you want to achieve something special on your next journey around the sun, then why not gift yourself a weekly activity chart instead of a list of goals. Now each daily activity becomes the goal. Then celebrate each small step that you achieve. Remember that today is the only thing you have control over, today is real, the future is a work in progress.

(1)  Source: University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Research Date: 1.1.2014

Tremaine du Preez is the author of Think Smart, Work Smarter, executive coach and lecturer in Critical Thinking based in Singapore. This blog series is from her upcoming book, Raising Thinkers - preparing your child for the journey of a lifetime. She also blogs at the Huffington Post