The Butter Cookie Breakthrough: How I Learned To Spike My Productivity

I’m new to the entrepreneur lifestyle and it has been a huge learning curve with many highs and many lows. And lots of ‘What the hell have I done?’.

It has felt a bit like getting a ticket for a 2018 Simon & Garfunkel Nostalgia Tour (someone please make this happen) but then finding out it’s in London and I forgot to renew my passport.  

I’m being dramatic, but I had a recent wake-up call that turned my business on its head

Here’s what happened.

My mom was visiting over Christmas which also happened to be when I was getting ready to officially launch The Magnetic Actor Method.

Needless to say, I was busy.   

Every morning I scurried off to chip away at my “must do today” list.

The list was long, and, honestly, I wasn’t very efficient despite the fact that I’m an enthusiastic list checker-offer.  Because…chocolate in the cupboard...and Facebook...and Twitter… And Instagram.

It was like a giant, gleaming pool of  Social Media Quicksand.  Plus snacks.

So, one day when I was in the kitchen “on a break”, my mom suggested we make Butter Cookies together (aka Snowballs or Mexican Wedding Cookies).  

I LOVE to bake.  I LIVE to bake.  It’s an outlet that’s comforting and relaxing and especially fabulous if there’s chocolate or some kind of cookie dough involved.  

So, of course, my answer to my mom was...

No.

I said no! To my mom?!  To my favorite woman.  To the person who wanted to enjoy her favorite cookie, with me, her favorite (and only) daughter over the holidays.

And what I actually said was worse than just saying no. I said something like, “I don’t have time to make cookies! And I don’t even like butter cookies anyway.”  And then I probably walked off in a very busy huff.

WTH?

It wasn’t until after the holidays and my mom had gone home that the shame started creeping in. I was unbelievably embarrassed; I didn’t recognize the person who was too busy to make Butter Cookies for her mom.

Then it hit me.

This was not the kind of entrepreneur I wanted to be. I didn’t want to have a business that meant I was too busy to spend time with my kids and husband or to make my mom feel special.

I needed to re-evaluate what the hell I was doing because there was one thing I knew for sure. That no-cookie-making-for-her-mom person was definitely not invited to the Magnetic Actor Method party.  

And then, as kismet would have it, one of my business mentors, Melissa Cassera, mentioned the importance of building time into each day/week for “Pleasure Breaks”,  to stave off burnout.

What? It seemed so decadent. Too indulgent. Not business-y, and most certainly, I didn’t have time!

But, being a diligent student, I did what I was told, and I made a list of the 10 "Pleasure Breaks" (or Guilty Pleasures),  I would commit to that week, and every week.

Here they are:

1. WATCH AN EPISODE OF TV WITH POPCORN:

As actors, watching TV is actually not a guilty pleasure at all. It's critical for our career!  We need to watch TV and movies to be connected to what's happening in the industry, to know who’s who, and who’s casting what.

2. EAT CHOCOLATE

What if I ate popcorn and chocolate while watching a show? Pleasure overload.    

3. CUDDLE DOG

It’s so hard for me to focus with my dog staring up at me, desperate to play. A few minutes of stepping away from the computer to show her some love, is heart-filling for us both.

4. CONNECT WITH MY KIDS

They are 11 and 13, but still. Shutting my laptop when they get home from school isn’t always an option, but I make a  concerted effort.  My 11yr old still loves to play games with me (Monopoly, cards, Catan) and I want to milk that for all it’s worth. And on cold days I love our tradition of making hot chocolate and popcorn.

5. WALK FAST

Exercise falls by the wayside so easily.  But I looove walking, and as it turns out, it's also where I do my best brainstorming.  For what it’s worth, running does NOT do this for me. When I’m running, all I can think about is when I can stop running.  

6. CONNECT WITH FRIENDS

Recently, I've also felt "too busy" to see friends.  Now, when someone pops into my brain, I shoot them a quick email, text. And when I can, I call.  Even if I just have 10 minutes to hear their voice, it’s gold.

7. LISTEN TO 80s/OLD-SCHOOL MUSIC

I hate working with distractions and I count music as one. But, nothing gets me pumped up and feel like I’m on vacation like You Spin Me Round, Cum on Feel the Noize, Mama Said Knock You Out or Good Vibrations. And sometimes, Garth Brooks’ “The Dance”, because a good cry out of nowhere is super therapeutic.

8. MASSAGE

Ok. This one I don’t do every week because it's soooo expensive. But it’s also one of my most favorite things and remains my ultimate treat and motivator. But if quick, low brow backrubs from my husband and kids count, then I'm golden.

9. TUCK IN WITH A COZY BLANKET, HOT CHOCOLATE & A BOOK

Three pleasures in one! Hot damn!

10. GO TO BED BY 10:00 PM

Because my multi-degreed, brilliant sister-in-law is an unbelievably accomplished sleep doctor and researcher.  And circadian rhythm based sleep-wake disorders is a scary-real thing that was biting me in the ass.

Phew!

I bet you’re wondering how I get anything done since I schedule these Pleasure Breaks into  every week (not all on the same day...although, great idea).  

Here’s the crazy thing!  

Adding these Pleasure Breaks into my week actually makes me MORE productive!  I think it’s because I know I have to be more efficient in order to have time to indulge in my (scheduled!) breaks. 

I call this whole crazy paradigm shift, The Butter Cookie Breakthrough.

Another newsflash. Carving out time for yourself is for everyone, not just entrepreneurs!

As actors, we can feel like we’re spinning our wheels a lot. Or we feel guilty about doing the things we love since our career goals and our passions are so intertwined.   We love what we do, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't make time for the other things we also love. Right?  

So. I encourage you to make your own list (or just steal mine).  It’s good for self-reflection and it’s good for the soul.

Make a list of 5-10 things that you will do, every week, just for you. Not for your career, not for your friends, but things that will supercharge, inspire and make you feel all giddy inside.  

You’re worth it and I want you to have your own Butter Cookie Breakthrough.

P.S. Shortly after my breakthrough, I whipped up a batch of Butter Cookies and sent them off to my mom with an apology/love letter. My cousin and his kids were in Hawaii visiting her for the week, so I sent her enough to share with everyone.  She texted me a photo of the empty container with a message that said, “I didn’t share.”  

I ❤️ that.