Starting Over

I thought my last project was complete, but the first deadline on the 15th wasn’t the end – it became a new beginning. The challenge will now be presenting the same material from a different angle ie. a different point of view, written at a different reading comprehension level for a different audience. Continue reading “Starting Over”

Doing Less, Producing More, Feeling Great

flowerI have finally learned a life lesson I have failed to learn many times before.  Being productive isn’t about doing more. Being productive is about doing less and doing what I choose to do better. Continue reading “Doing Less, Producing More, Feeling Great”

Looking Forward a Stress Free Future

bright yellow lotus

Last autumn was a good time to renew my strategy for the future because I recognized there is no magic potion that will guarantee a long, healthy life. I made an assessment of where I was at and where I wanted to be. Continue reading “Looking Forward a Stress Free Future”

Time Keeps on Ticking into the Future

paradox clockTime influences who we are as a person, how we view relationships and how we act in the world. Our attitudes to time and the way we use it, reveals much about our personality, attitudes and philosophy.

Do you race to beat the clock? Or do you have too much time on your hands?

Continue reading “Time Keeps on Ticking into the Future”

Permanent Calendar: What do you think?

day planner My Beloved’s new position comes with lots of responsibilities, meetings and travel.  That means an increase in work for me on the home front.  Though we scheduled our time in advance there were several unexpected events in January and every one resulted in a change in our scheduling. There were days where we were snowed in and without power so we tossed calendars aside and went into survival mode. On those days we lamented that no matter how hard we tried to lead a scheduled life we were living an unscheduled one.  Continue reading “Permanent Calendar: What do you think?”

What excess in your life will you prune in 2009?

pruning
pruning

Everyone’s answer will be different; no one is exactly the same. Our habits generate or drain our power and energy. Removing a dead leaf from a plant or a dead branch from a tree or suckers that grow shoots from the base of a plant and rob the parent plant of strength gives it life and vitality. Likewise, pruning excesses from our lives creates space allowing us to progress and prosper. Source. Continue reading “What excess in your life will you prune in 2009?”

Best laid plans that come undone

This weekend my partner and I decided that we needed some time to get our firewood all cut and stacked before the fireban that prohibits the use of power tools in the bush goes into effect. As we heat our home with an airtight woodstove this is a very important job that cannot be done at any other time of the year. And, as we work every Saturday morning at the Farmers’ market from the May long weekend until Thanksgiving long weekend, we decided that taking one Saturday off and allowing another vendor to use our spot was the way to go. Continue reading “Best laid plans that come undone”

Defining success

Ralph Waldo Emerson’s comments on success were: “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived; this is to have succeeded.”

I’ve been visiting sites included on Priscilla Palmer’s Personal Development List and locating some great resources. K. Stone of Life Learning Today has some solid advice for setting and achieving your goals:

“There is a way to reach your goals faster and easier than your current method. In fact it’s so powerful and surefire that many people avoid it. Why? Because it forces you to do the work that will make your dreams come true. So what’s the secret?” -> Read more .

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In short I believe that I’m a “success” when I’m setting realistic goals and achieving them. My definition success includes achieving goals in the workplace, however, I believe “success” is applicable to finishing whatever I planned to do in any aspect of my life.

I will not feel that I have lived a “successful life,” if the amount of time and attention I invest on a single aspect of my life exceeds the investment I make into the other aspects. Workaholic: Who Me?

What are your thoughts on “success”?

How do you define it?

How will do you determine whether you are leading a successful life, or not?

Journaling

Doreene Clements created The 5 Year Journal to make journaling easy and effective.

Keeping a journal has many advantages and benefits. Whether you write a few lines or pages, through journaling, you can record and track a lot of information that can be easily retained for future reference. You can actually see what you were thinking because your thoughts and experiences are in a journal. When you commit to writing them down, you have put your thoughts and experiences into a solid form. Below are some examples of the benefits of keeping a journal.

Continue reading “Journaling”

Motherhood: The Sleepless and Stressed Out Choice

My husband and I are both older children from large families. As we devoted a number of years to raising younger siblings we are keenly aware that women who make the choice to nurture another human being from infancy to adulthood (and beyond) face an enormous stress load. And, without doubt that stress has significant impact on everyone in relationship with those who make the choice. Continue reading “Motherhood: The Sleepless and Stressed Out Choice”

Develop Systems and Simplify Your Life

If you feel like your life is chaotic, it’s probably because you haven’t organized the way you handle the different things in your life into systems.

Systems are anything that happens regularly in your life — errands, laundry, email, kids lunches, etc. They can be either simple or complicated – depending on whether you’ve given them some thought and organized them.

Make a list of all the systems in your life that you could simplify. Here are a few more examples:

smalldatebookMail
Bills
Phone Calls
Lunches
Cooking
Exercise
House Chores
Travel
Yard work
School or work
Appointments
Bookmarks and saved information from the web

Now here are some suggestions for creating simple systems:

Give your system a name – Formalizing the system will make you more likely to stick with it. Also, write it down, step by step, and post it up somewhere.

Designate things – It’s best to have designated days for things, and designated areas. That gives order to your week or day, as well as your working or living space. It turns chaos into simplicity.

Group things – Grouping all errands into one day, for example, saves time and money.

Stick to the system – It will take a little while, but you’ll need to focus on sticking with your system at first. After awhile, it’ll become second nature.

Re-evaluate the system – Every now and then, it’s good to step back and take a look at whether your system is working, and if it can be further streamlined or improved. No system is perfect.

Here are some additional tips:

  • Rethink the commitment based on your life’s goals and eliminate it if it doesn’t fit.
  • Practice saying, “no,” so that this word is on your lips when asked to make a commitment you are not willing to accept.
  • Use either a paper or computer-based organizer to write down your systems schedule and names and phone numbers.
  • Arrange your work hours so that you start earlier, avoid the commuting crowds, and give yourself more daylight hours off work.
  • Anticipate and avoid peak use time for stores, streets, restaurants, services, and offices.
  • Establish a regular, weekly shopping and errand day. On your shopping day, do all your grocery, clothing, or supplies shopping. Also do your bill paying, banking, and other errands.
  • Schedule genuine down time and fun time.
  • Break down your projects into chunks and then to specific tasks, and then work on the tasks regularly. Work on project tasks in scheduled time blocks.
  • Prepare in advance the time, tools, training, and information you need to work on your project tasks.

Reference:
You can simplify your life


Top Twenty Time Savers

Top Twenty Time Savers
Go ahead and ask people you work with what their biggest stressor is and they will say: “There aren’t enough hours in the day!”

I can relate. Can’t you?

I used to fall into bed utterly exhausted but my mind was still reeling. Finally, I learned how to control my time instead of letting it control me. Here’s how I did it.

Identify Time Robbers – Keep a Log

It stands to reason that If you know why or how you waste time, you can start to do something about it. Keep a week long log of what you do and how much time you spend doing it. You may discover one or more of the following culprits: Seven Time Management Energy Savers.

A Time Management Plan

1. Establish a to do list and learn to set priorities on things like goals, tasks, meeting agenda items, interruptions. (Note that there are free online to do lists that you can use to get organized and see the end of this article for the link to one.)

2. Start with “A-priority” tasks; is it the best use of your time?

3. Fight procrastination; do it now if it’s important.

4. Subdivide large, tough tasks into smaller, easily accomplished parts. Cutting a huge task into smaller chunks so it seems less insurmountable will lift your spirits and increase your energy level. Once you’ve decided what your “A” priority tasks are and you’ve subdivided projects into manageable chunks, spend seven minutes on an “A” priority task. Then switch for eleven minutes to one of the chunks of a larger task. By scheduling time for both, you’ll make sure that what needs to be done now gets done now.

5. Establish a quiet hour, even though it requires will power and may not always work. Find a hideaway. A library or the office of a co-worker who’s traveling. Whether it’s taking a brisk walk through the hallways or deep breaths at your desk, be sure you stick to your date with yourself. If someone asks you to do something at that time, say, “I’d love to, but I have something scheduled. Let’s pick another time.”

6. Learn to say “no” when you’ve got something important to do. If you have too much on your plate, just say no. While this may seem obvious, it is one of the most difficult things to learn. And keep in mind — if you attempt to outrun the Energizer Bunny, you risk, at best, not completing tasks to your standards, or at worst, burnout.

7. Learn to delegate. This frees up time, and imbues others with a sense of responsibility.

8. Accumulate similar tasks and do them all at one time.

9. Minimize routine tasks; spend only the time they deserve on them.

  • Shorten low-value interruptions;
  • Throw away junk mail and other low-value paperwork;
  • Delegate, shorten or defer indefinitely the C-priority tasks.

10. Avoid perfectionism. Remember the 80/20 Pareto Principle mal-distribution rule.

11. Avoid over-commitment. Be realistic about what you can do in the time you have.

12. Don’t over-schedule. Allow some flexible time for crisis management and interruptions.

13. Set time limits. For example, some decisions shouldn’t take more than three minutes to make. Know how to recognize these.

14. Concentrate on what you are doing.

15. Use big blocks of time for big jobs.

16. Do difficult things quickly; doing them slowly doesn’t make them easier.

17. Try to handle paper only once.

18. Think the job through before acting.

19. Finish as you go; get it right the first time.

20. Never agree to completing a last minute Friday afternoon request.

Establish a Perfect for Friday Productivity List.

Then consider the week closed, leave the office at work, give your brain a break, and have a weekend.

Sources: The Augustine Club at Columbia University.

Pareto’s Principle: The 80/20 Rule

A group of friends were seated on my back deck complaining about how frustrated they were with their colleagues at work and in organizations because only a handful actually accomplished the work. Most are in supervisory or managerial positions. Story after story was told. Eventually the teen-aged daughter of one chimed in saying she had found the same thing when it came to the problem solving group project she had managed at school.

She had gone crazy trying to get work out of the other group members. She hated being a group “manager” and feels she would have done a better job and got a higher mark if she had been allowed to work on her own. Worse yet she has an assignment to write an essay on everything she had learned from participating in the project and it’s due tomorrow.

I spoke up saying: “Well, it’s the Pareto Principle. It’s a given 80% of what really counts gets done by 20% of the people, take or give a few,” and I was greeted with blank stares. So I motioned the teen into the house, booted up my computer and did some online searching.

After the searching was done and the website urls were noted I got a hug from the teenager who told me two things. The first was that she was now going to include the Pareto Principle in her essay. And the second was that she was going to look for a career where she could work independently because she never wanted to be a manager ever again.

The Pareto Principle
In the late 1800s, economist and avid gardener Vilfredo Pareto established that 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population. While gardening he later observed that 20% of the peapods in his garden yielded 80% of the peas that were harvested. From these and other observations, Pareto advanced the theory of logarithmic law of wealth distribution, or what has come to be called the Pareto Principle.

It was in 1941 that Joseph Juran discovered the work of Vilfredo Pareto. Juran expanded the Pareto principle applying them to quality issues (e.g. 80% of a problem is caused by 20% of the causes). Juran went on to use the phrase “Pareto Principle” as a way of describing any maldistribution, particularly quality. Simply put, a few account for most. Juran calls this, the separation of the vital few from the trivial many.

Pareto’s Law is now a management technique more commonly known as the 80/20 rule. Mathematically, 80:20/80:20/80:20 would give 96.2%. That is 3 successive paretos almost does the task. [Only as long as Murphy's Law is held in check.]

The Pareto Principle or the 80:20 Rule has proven its validity in a number of other areas. In the business world, it has been found that the principle could be applied to many areas, such as:

  • Applied to Meetings: 80% of decisions come from 20% of meeting time.
  • Applied to Managerial Headaches: Roughly 80% of your managerial problems and headaches are caused by just 20%of your problems.
  • Applied to time management and your daily To-Do List: 80% of your measurable results and progress will come from just 20% of the items on your daily To-Do list. The major problem is that most people are so busy fighting fires that they never get around to the most vital few activities that will lead to the greatest results.
  • Applied to Interruptions: 80% of a Manager’s interruptions come from the same 20% of people
  • Applied to product defects: Roughly 20% of the input errors typically cause the lion’s share of defects.
  • Applied to Salespeople: Roughly 20% of a sales force will develop 80% of the annual results.
  • Applied to Customer Complaints: Roughly 80% of customer complaints are about the same 20% of your projects, products or services.
  • Applied to Business Units: Roughly 20% of a company’s business units will produce 80% of the annual revenue.
  • Applied to Advertising: Roughly 20% of your advertising will produce 80% of your campaign’s results. If businesses could only determine which 20% of their advertising was really working, U.S. businesses could save literally billions in advertising costs each year.

Application
Use of the Pareto Principle or “Pareto thinking” can become way of life that improves problem-solving efficiency. Rather than wasting time, energies and money on efforts to correct everything, the experienced problem-solver will focus his attention only on those few variables which are shown to account for most of the problem.

An increased ability to separate the essential from the non-essential will improve with practice, especially if that practice involves use of the actual data and not just “eye-balling” the situation.

Once established this approach can become a normal reaction to solving problems. In time an experienced “Pareto thinker” can even make quick, accurate judgment calls without taking the time to get the data.

Related blog post: Top Twenty Time Savers

The Simple Life: Present Moment Living

We spend a lot of time dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. We have either forgotten or have never learned how to live a simple, authentic life in the present moment.

This concept of living in the present moment originated as a Buddhist concept, mindfulness but it is now incorporated into many stress management programs. If we live our lives mindfully we will get more out of life.

A related concept is the distinction between importance and urgency. We often let life slip away by confusing these two concepts. Important tasks are those which we place value on. Urgent tasks are those which someone tells us to do right away. While we are busy with a task with an urgent deadline we may be missing a much more important task.

The Secret To Having More Time And Energy

Failure to establish a system of elimination can lead to the symptoms of emotional disease in your life. Such symptoms include; toxicity, anxiety, stress, sadness, melancholy and depression.

Use the following guidelines to provide you with an excellent system to assist you to eliminate any energy you may still be storing in your past.

1. Close off all unfinished business or incomplete cycles of action (work, finances, family, partner, friends, health and well being etc.).

2. Remove toxic thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviours from your mind simply by focusing on what you want, not on what you don’t want.

3. De-Clutter and simplify your life, your house, car, garage, wardrobe, office etc. Eliminate any old energy that no longer serves you.

4. Make your life leaner and more purposeful.

5. Give every situation or coincidence its due attention, every day regardless of how small it may seem, always address every situation with the respect it deserves and at the time it arises.

6. “Remove the Dam and the Water will Flow”. If feeling frustrated, impatient or annoyed then ask what needs to be addressed at present. Ask your self; What is it that is blocking my progress? Then ask what do I need to do in order to get my life flowing smoothly again?

By eliminating the unfinished business in your life you will allow your emotions to become more positive which will make you feel a lot fresher and provide you with the necessary energy and time to manifest your life of ease.