I think this “rushed” feeling we have isn’t made any better by the compulsive need to be constantly accessible via technology. This goes hand in hand with the need a lot of us feel to respond to an email as soon as it hits our inbox. At the macro level, it is believed that the more you do, the faster your rise up the ranks. For women especially, who already feel disadvantaged in the workforce and that they’re playing constant catch up to the men, this feeling of being “rushed” is an epidemic. For the most part, women feel like they have to fit more into their lives than men do.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Vivian Garcia-Tunon, Founder of VGT Consulting. Vivian brings years of experience in executive coaching, as well as a successful career as a Human Resources leader within financial services, private equity, and investment banking. Her specializations have included mergers & acquisitions, talent management, performance management, and change management. Throughout her career, she built high performing teams in fast paced growth organizations. Vivian founded VGT Consulting Group to work with senior executives, mid-career professionals, and entrepreneurs to provide leadership, management development, and transition services, helping them achieve individual professional goals and corporate objectives. In addition to executive coaching, Vivian consults on talent management, performance management, diversity initiatives, change management, and recruiting strategies across industry sectors. Vivian earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Fordham University. In addition, she has done extensive studying in Organizational Cultures & Design, Leadership, and Change Management. She also has received certifications in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching. Vivian is best known by her clients for her enthusiastic, straightforward, innovative, and supportive approach to evoking transformational change and getting results for individuals, teams, and organizations.
Thank you for joining us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to this specific career path?
Truth be told, what brought me to becoming a career and executive coach was exactly the topic we’re discussing in this interview. While I was successful in my role as a HR leader and recruiter, I felt like I was always rushed and competing in a never ending rat race. I was working 100 hour weeks, traveling 60–70% of my time and all the while felt as if I would never be good enough at my job. I was exhausted and had no idea how to slow down in work and life and just be happy. I find it ironic that as a HR leader my job was to support people to be happy and successful in their jobs, but I wasn’t doing it for myself. I had to make a change for my own sake. I started researching ways to make work more fulfilling and impactful, which led me to getting a certification on coaching and positive psychology.
According to a 2006 Pew Research Report report, 26% of women and 21% of men feel that they are “always rushed”. Has it always been this way? Can you give a few reasons regarding what you think causes this prevalent feeling of being rushed?
I think this “rushed” feeling we have isn’t made any better by the compulsive need to be constantly accessible via technology. This goes hand in hand with the need a lot of us feel to respond to an email as soon as it hits our inbox. At the macro level, it is believed that the more you do, the faster your rise up the ranks. For women especially, who already feel disadvantaged in the workforce and that they’re playing constant catch up to the men, this feeling of being “rushed” is an epidemic. For the most part, women feel like they have to fit more into their lives than men do. Hair and beauty appointments, dates with friends, fitting in family, doctor’s appointments and exercise — the list goes on and on. Men do not put as much pressure on themselves to fit into these roles, whereas women have a much harder time saying “no.”
Based on your experience or research can you explain why being rushed can harm our productivity, health, and happiness?
Productivity, health and happiness can all be rushed if you’re not mindful of them. From a productivity perspective, feeling rushed leads to a higher risk of making an error, as well as plummeting creativity when completing a project. From a health perspective, rushing increases cortisol in the body, which increases cancer cells in your body — something you definitely want to keep in check. Lastly from a happiness standpoint, being able to truly savor life and be present is one of the twelve mechanisms to being happy. Being present is imperative to happiness and that’s just not possible when we feel rushed.
On the flip side, can you give examples of how we can do more, and how our lives would improve if we could slow down?
In today’s society we are constantly replying to email and different technologies, which can be extremely distracting. If you devote a period of time to one specific task, you can get more done while working with a slower process. This could mean closing out your email or shutting off your cell phone for a full hour to complete the task at hand. By doing this, you’ll find yourself to be more present and engaged, which will promote creativity and acute focus.
We all live in a world with many deadlines and incessant demands for our time and attention. That inevitably makes us feel rushed. Can you share with our readers 6 strategies that you use to “slow down to do more”? Can you please give a story or example for each?
Here are 6 strategies I like to use:
1. Set your top 3–5 priorities and block out time on your calendar for each of them. I like to color code my calendar and assign each priority a color. That way you can track your progress and the time allocated to each priority. This could mean setting aside an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening to read email, two hours to research and complete a project, an hour of “me time” for the gym or a walk outside, etc.
2. Say “no” or delegate things that don’t fall within the scope of your priorities or zone of genius. If you don’t have the bandwidth to take on an assignment that doesn’t fall in the realm of your job description, it is ok to say no. You can also take a task you don’t excel at and give it to a colleague who does.
3. Create shorter meetings. Instead of an hour meeting, set it for 45 minutes and use the extra 15 minutes in your schedule to do something for you. Do a breathing exercise, brainstorm, take a walk or visit a friend in the office for a quick break.
4. Set times to respond to emails. This is so important because email can be a huge time suck. If you set times to check and respond to email, you’ll keep it in check — you’ll reply to others in a timely manner but it won’t rule your life.
5. Set strategic time aside to be proactive. Look into that course you’ve been thinking about, finally email your boss about a change you think will help the company’s growth, invite a friend to dinner you haven’t seen in some time.
6. Put your oxygen mask on first. Find time to energize yourself. Gym, meditation, dinner with friends/family, outside learning. You need to fuel yourself first if you’re going to successfully deliver for others.
How do you define “mindfulness”? Can you give an example or story?
I define mindfulness as being intentional in your interactions, actions, time, relationships and emotions. 80% of thoughts are subconscious and it is important to bring those thoughts into your daily conscious thoughts and interactions. If your day throws you an unwanted curveball such as a disgruntled client email, mindfulness is a tool you can use to step back, evaluate the situation from a rational perspective and then plan a proper course of action. It prevents you from making rash, emotional decisions.
Can you give examples of how people can integrate mindfulness into their everyday lives?
I like to say you have to put your own oxygen mask on first before you can be productive for others. Set aside time for you — this could be a ten minute walk, an hour of exercise, a 5 minute break to call up or text a friend. From a work perspective, you want to set aside time for your different priorities and during that set period of time give your undivided attention to that priority. The less you structure your time, the more time you end up giving away or wasting.
Do you have any mindfulness tools that you find most helpful at work?
I like to step out and take a walk. I also journal every day to set my mind at ease from the emotional stressors of work and gain a different perspective. I really like using the Pomodoro Technique for time management, which uses a timer to break down work into intervals of 25 minutes followed by a short break. Research shows that taking short breaks throughout the day leads to more productivity.
What are your favorite books, podcasts, or resources that inspire you to use mindfulness tools or practices
From a meditation perspective, my favorite app to use is Headspace. I like using it in the morning before I start my day to set up my brain the best way possible for what’s ahead. Some of my clients use it during the day when necessary, to reground them in what they need to get done and recalibrate their emotions.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Living with intention means saying no to the things that aren’t important to us so we can say yes to what matters most.”
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
My mission is to help individuals achieve satisfaction and happiness in their lives, including in their careers. I desire to change the level of engagement and satisfaction they have for the impact of the work they do. A recent survey showed that only 32% of employees in the U.S. are engaged in the work they do. I want to make that 100%!
Thank you for all of these great insights!