On this podcast episode, Monique was interviewed by Joey and Jeremy, hosts of the Focus and Chill Podcast. They talked about Monique’s work with Time Alchemy, and her journey to becoming The Time Alchemist, after having an addiction to work while living in Germany. They also talked about how she increases her productivity during work hours, and what she does when she is not working.
You can play the episode here or if you prefer, you can go ahead and read this article.
What projects are you concentrating on currently?
I am currently focusing on writing a little bit more.
I am rebranding my brand as the Time Alchemist, cause it is the first time ever that I have an umbrella term for everything that I am doing.
In the early stages of my business, I was known as the “German Efficiency Queen”, everyone came to me for efficiency and productivity, but even though I am still doing this, it is far out from the things I am all about now.
I’m pushing this brand forward, pushing my work to a new level at the same time that I am learning more, and I keep mastering my own form of time management.
My main concept is to apply Time Alchemy to my clients. So when I start working with a client, I break things down to the essence and reformalize them into a different form of existence. And this is the essence of Alchemy.
As an example, you take a metal and break it down into the essence and then you liquidize it and burn it and it takes a whole different form.
This is what I do with people’s lives and businesses.
We take things that work and cut things that don’t work, and we add very simple things because it is really about simplifying everything, I don’t want to make people’s lives more complicated. Instead, I make it very easy, so simple that you don’t need to think about it.
Tell us about the T.I.M.E. Method Coaching Program
I have always been in male-dominated industries. I worked for a long time in IT, advertising, and marketing in Germany.
As a woman you are always told that you need thicker skin, to get your stuff together. not to cry, and to get over things.
It is a very unforgiving place to work as a very young female.
By that time I was wearing a lot of makeup, I had fake nails, so it was always for me a place where I apparently got all of my jobs because of my looks and not because of my effort, my intelligence, my capabilities, or how hard working I was.
I have 2 uni degrees and I worked since I was 13, but that did not count at all.
By that time, which is over 13 years ago, I started to figure out that things in corporate aren’t working well in so many areas. More specifically I found 4 base foundational pillars that were not going well or completely missing: Time Management, Impactful Leadership, Mindset Mastery, and Energy Efficiency.
We normally talk about Energy Efficiency in terms of reducing pollution in the environment and cutting energy bills. But we don’t look at it for humans.
We throw our energy away. We use it in the most inefficient ways. People talk to you about things that are irrelevant to your day. Managers have so many meetings that are not necessary. How do they get all the things done if they have so many meetings? That’s when they start working on the weekend, missing time with their family, and entering that circle from which is difficult to escape.
Why are they doing all these meetings? because they don’t have another form of communication with the team.
So I developed this method over a decade, I have seen what is wrong. Working in these industries for so long, was a good experimental playground for me because I could try and test all the methods with the people I was working with in corporate and agencies, and start-ups. So I brought in all of these methods without even telling them. And it worked much better. Suddenly people could go through projects much faster with less budget, and they were wondering why it was.
Those 4 pillars are the foundation of everything. If they are not rock-solid, you cannot elevate you cannot grow your business. you cannot escalate.
The method behind what I am doing is building rock-solid foundations. If you build a castle on sand, at some point it is going to fall off.
Working in corporate Germany seems quite unpleasant, do you think it is any better these days?
Germany is a very unique place to work. I don’t think that the work ethics that we have been conditioned to adopt in Germany are likely to be found in another country other than Japan.
I understand that there are toxic workspaces everywhere in the world, I have seen it, I worked in 9 different countries. but in Germany, there is this pressure that I have not seen anywhere besides Japan.
It is so extreme that you don’t even dare to think about how toxic it is, that something can be wrong, cause the moment you do, you are falling off this cycle and you will lose your job. Once you see it, you cannot unsee it. And that is why I don’t live in Germany anymore and why I cannot go back.
I don’t serve the german market, I don’t work with german companies, and I’m not ready yet to go there.
I am still thankful because working in Germany was very good training for me and it prepared me for what I am doing now. Thanks to my experience, I am ready to change how work culture is influencing people and how it is damaging us.
I thought in Germany people don’t work after hours, is that the case?
There are some jobs like public-facing jobs, where you can find the boundaries that are set, like by 5 pm you are out.
But in the places where I worked, I.T., advertising, and marketing, there is a lot behind closed doors. And there are a lot of taboo things like sexual harassment, which is real, but you don’t dare to say anything, ask anything, or think something is not okay.
When I left and I started talking about my old employers and what happened and how I felt during this time, even my old colleagues would be like, “oh come on, it wasn’t that bad”.
I am not saying they are bad people, I am saying what happened to me. I was discriminated against. I was being talked down to or my colleagues made me look like I was a dumb assistant in front of clients when I was actually the Project Manager, I was setting up the budget and running the show there. But the boss was too sexist about it and wouldn’t even let me speak.
It was a constant fight.
Germany has a reputation for being so upfront with human rights. We follow all the rules, we are so efficient, Made in Germany stamp means quality, we have this amazing reputation, and we have to keep it in public too. But behind the scenes, it does not work that well.
Our justice system does not work well because the government is more concerned with finding people who don’t pay their taxes rather than finding rapists, or perpetrators who kill people. Rapists are free to go because you cannot prove that they have done something.
But don’t get me wrong. I love Germany in many aspects too.
I do love what Germany does for its citizens, our social system works very well. our gun laws are so important, we don’t have mass shootings, and we are safe. We do help refugees, we take some in versus other countries in Europe that are not taking them at all.
What do you do when you are not working?
I hang out a lot with my dog, who I adopted some time ago. As an autistic person, I don’t socialize a lot. Only sometimes.
I really like to not have to do things. Mainly because of my background: At the age of 19 I died of cardiac arrest and one of the reasons this happened, is my german background of overworking.
One of the ways you can be the best German is to work hard, and I took it really literally.
The way I had to be validated was to perform the best, in everything. I genuinely wanted to be the best, and I was always in the top 3, mostly the first.
I started working when I was 13, and I worked beside the school and university. I had 3 full-time jobs, didn’t sleep much, and together with my chronic health issues, and smoking and drinking, it all led to me dying of a cardiac arrest.
It took me over 10 years to untangle that addiction to work, the whole attachment to it.
Most of us use work and the addiction to work as a coping mechanism for some form of underlying lack of validation or not feeling good enough or having to prove something to someone else.
I see this, especially in entrepreneurs. I feel that work has become such a socially accepted addiction and coping mechanism that we don’t talk about this a lot. And it took me a long time to untangle this.
And here I am. I was able to break free from this addiction to work, and now I work only 3 days a week. Some people cannot believe this to be honest.
I do a lot of reading, and writing, and sometimes I just do nothing, because I want the space to have a clear mind and just have my mind say everything to me that it needs to say.
In terms of how you switch off at night, are there any active practices that you use to wind yourself down?
I have good days and bad days. On bad days, I can be scrolling on my phone until I realize that I should go to bed. But luckily those days are not very often.
On the good days, I turn off every device 2 hours before I go to bed. I have lights that are not artificial but they are yellow LEDs that remove blue light as well. So when it is getting dark outside, I turn all the artificial lights off and all these lights on. This way my body can wind down with the daylight rhythm so I am in my natural circadian rhythm which I wrote about in my book.
Sometimes I listen to audiobooks. I don’t read, I listen instead, and this has to do with how my brain processes information.
Sometimes I do journaling, and intention setting, I listen to meditations, or generally do nothing and let my mind process a lot of things.
How do you plan to “do nothing”? Do you do it intentionally?
I practice an exercise with my clients that has an intention behind it. You take a piece of paper, set the timer for 5 minutes, and write down everything that is on your mind. This is a good way to dive into all of the mud.
If there is nothing on your mind, you write down “there is nothing on my mind”. You can even repeat words until something comes up.
Once the time is up, and you wrote everything that was on your mind, you can sit outside in the garden or in nature.
You look around and the exercise is not to observe, or do a meditation, or anything like that, just look around. And maybe you start seeing different shades of green. You just acknowledge it and leave it.
The reason why you want to do this is that if you keep sitting there and then look around into nature, that is where inspiration comes faster.
Just be. Don’t look for something.
Practice to just be.
Sometimes we need to allow ourselves to be present.
And this is totally different from meditation. The problem with meditation is that people cannot follow their breath, there are so many rules, and they punish themselves if they do have thoughts because you are not supposed to think at all when you are meditating.
Instead, if you are just there not expecting anything, inspiration comes.
You can focus and get a “soft focus” when you have blurry vision. That is when your brain goes beyond anything that is there right now and comes up with something.
My intention for doing nothing is just to practice doing nothing to not fall into an addiction to work again.
What does your morning routine look like?
Normally I get up between 5.30 and 6. I wake up naturally mostly at 5, but I am still recovering from being in the hospital earlier this year, so I take it slow and I get up at 5.30.
After that, I take lemon water or detox tea to detox my body. Then I journal and set intentions for the day.
My next activity is to work out for 15 to 30 minutes. Then I take a shower and get ready for the day.
The whole thing takes at least 3 hours because I don’t want to rush myself.
Then I set everything up next to my desk, I need it clean and tidy. and I get started.
If you want to know how to make the most of your morning routine and how to set your day for success, click here.
What do you do to optimize productivity during your work hours?
I need to know and understand exactly how my brain works and use it to my advantage.
As an autistic person, I work very differently as someone with ADHD, or as any other person.
I follow my Chrono-Energy type and I really recommend looking into your V too.
You need to understand how the 24-hour clock of your body works. When you wake up naturally, when is your energy high during the day, when is low, and use that to your advantage: Do the hard tasks when your energy is high and the mundane tasks when your energy is low.
You can take the quiz to find out about your Chrono-Energy type here.
I drink a lot of water, stay hydrated, and I cut off all the drinks and substances that are not natural to my body, like alcohol, added sugar, and gluten.
What resources do you recommend?
Firstly my Book, The T.I.M.E. Method. It is really actionable and very simple. A lot of people told me that they finally understood time management in a way that they can understand and implement.
Secondly, you can take the Chrono Energy Test, and get your personal result with the result of how you can start implementing this better into your life. It helps you understand more about your energy throughout the day and how to use it for the best outcome.
Other than that, I love to recommend the book The Way of Integrity by Martha Beck and The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi & Fumitake Koga. This book will show you the different forms of responsibility. What is your responsibility in your life and in your way of living. I read this book every year because you can never read it and not learn something from it. It is one of the most transformational books in my opinion.
I would love everyone to just consider that if you slow down you can speed up.
Slowing down means being more intentional in your life and in your business, and you will be able to implement much more quality with everything that you do.
Just think about everything that you do, or start with the small things. What does it do for you and how does it affect your energy? For instance, what do I eat right now, pasta that will drain my energy, or can I eat salmon that will help me lift my energy?
You will be surprised at how much this is going to help you to speed up everything else.
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