Archive for the ‘Time Management’ Category

Where Are Your Feet?

Another trip into Business Land has come and gone. At first, I grumbled about needing to travel for work over the holiday weekend. 

Then, I realized that my feet were in California, my flight home wasn’t until noon on Saturday, and I could wake up early and enjoy the beach!

Feet in the Sand

So often, we think about where we’re going (or where we want to go) in life instead of where we are at this very moment .   About 10 minutes before taking this picture I was packing my suitcase and dreading the plane ride home.  Then it struck me.  I was near the beach and had two hours to live in the moment of NOW. 

Had I kept looking into the future instead of the NOW, this is what I would have missed…

Newport Beach  Surfer in Newport BeachLifeguard Station 44   Newport Beach 

Crashing waves (whoosh) sea gulls (whaaaak, whaaaak, whaaaak), the whisper of a cool breeze off the Pacific Ocean (shhhhhhhhhhh), and people having fun (hahahaha). 

Can you hear it?

Life unfolds before us in the present…right in front of our own two feet.  Too often, we let the present slip away…unnoticed…unseized…and wasted away while we’re worrying about the future.   When we’re away from our family, we long to be with them.  When we’re with the ones we love, sometimes we can’t wait to get away.  At work, we think about going on vacation.  On vacation, we think about the work that’s piling up on our desks.

Life is more enjoyable when your body and your mind are in the same place.

Surfers in Newport Beach

I’m going to take my own advice and enjoy the NOW, back home in Pittsburgh, with the minutes of the July 4th weekend ticking away. 

Where are your feet today? 

#3 – Nothing = Something

As suggested by fellow bloggers SuziCate, Ron and Penny, over the past 120 hours (that’s five consecutive days, round-the-clock), I’ve simply gone with the flow and let life happen.  Except for a scheduled Memorial Day cookout at my house with the in-laws, I made no plans…and just did things as they presented themselves. 

I felt as free as a bird…

IMG_4295Dove.  Not the soap.  Not the ice cream bar.

…and it was glorious! 

I took a 24-mile bike ride, finished a book, hung out with neighbors and friends, went out for ice cream, bathed my cat (she didn’t like it)….and  just a whole bunch of nothing that added up to something big…called me time.

If you haven’t had some you time in a while…or if you are so stressed that it’s almost straight jacket and rubber room time….

Mental Health Sign

…take it as a sign to look at your calendar, block out a few hours, an entire day, or a few days as time for Nothing = Something.

I used to think that doing nothing was simply a waste of time.  I would sit in a state of physical idleness while thinking about the 1,00o other things I could or should be doing instead.  This mental battle between what I was doing (nothing) and what I should be doing (something) was very unsettling.

Then, along came my vow to beat the Feeling of UN.  After five days of me time, I am now a believer in the mental health value of taking time for nothing.

When I look at my calendar, my schedule usually looks packed.  Work, family obligations, housework, lavish parties (okay, I’m dreaming about the parties).  We all wish there was more time in our lives to relax and do nothing.  But, when we get a moment to do absolutely nothing, our minds are on other things or we distract ourselves by watching TV, checking our e-mail, browsing the internet, or doing chores.  We don’t enjoy time spent in nothingness.

Instead of writing a few more paragraphs and compelling you to read them, do this….

Close your eyes for what feels like a full minute…and do nothing.

Did it feel like you wasted your time?

Chips for Breakfast

If you wake up in the morning, make yourself a cup of tea, eat a banana, and then start in on a bag of chips….does that signal a problem?

If so, then I must have a problem…

Chips

…because it’s before 10AM and I’ve just had all the calories and sodium required for an entire day.  Oops!  At least they were baked.

This past week has been all work and no play.  I thought about sending Buster to work in my place one day.  Although he can totally rock a briefcase, he’s hasn’t learned how to do my job.  He’d just lay around on the desk and waste time.  With those skills, maybe he could work for the federal government. :-)

Cat

A person only has so much energy and brain power to give in a week and when it’s all spent….bad choices can start to set in (like chips for breakfast).

Usually, I feel pretty fabulous.  But this week, not so much.  If you get this way too…if you sometimes feel like the world is closing in on you…like you’re only a shadow of yourself…

City Shadow

1.  Be realistic about your capacity for “super-human-ness.”

2.  Realize that it’s better to do fewer things right that everything wrong.

3.  Prioritize your time, including your own personal needs.  Never put yourself last on the list.  It’s not about being selfish.  It’s about giving yourself what you need to be the best version of yourself, so that when you give to your family…your job…your friends…you are giving them the fabulous you.

I’m heading out for a walk…to work off a bag of chips.  Whooo Ah!

Do often feel pressed for time?  How do you deal with it?

A Letter to Afghanistan

There’s a letter that I’ve been meaning to write.  I should have done it 6 weeks ago.

Procrastination is not about being lazy or disorganized.  It’s a self-defense mechanism.  You might be thinking that’s a crazy notion, but it’s totally true.  If you commit to doing something and then do it poorly, then you’d probably call yourself a failure.  But, if you don’t do the thing at all…well…then you didn’t fail, did you?  You simply didn’t try.  By not trying, you protect yourself from a feeling of failure.

Procrastination is one of those things in my BACKBONE that I’ve always struggled to correct.  Knowing what it is…a defense mechanism…allows me to face the fear of my to-do list and prepare for the potential of failure. 

So, in spite of the fact that I might do this poorly, here it goes…

Dear Mindy:

I got your letter a few weeks ago and was thrilled to find it in my mailbox. I knew you had left for Afghanistan, but your deployment seemed to happen so quick that I didn’t get the chance to call and say good-bye.

Letter

What a whirlwind your life has been. Just last summer you were planning your wedding and opening bridal shower gifts under a sunny sky.  A few months later, you were walking down the aisle.

And then…off you went to serve our country.

Planning a wedding and getting your orders shortly before the ceremony had to be hard, but we were all so proud of you…and still are.

KennedyI’ve been carrying your letter around in my purse since the day it arrived. I thought if I put it somewhere obvious (like my purse), I would remember to write a speedy reply.

So, you’re probably wondering why I haven’t written back yet.   Honestly, I don’t know.  I could blame it on the fact that everyone in our family has the late gene.   But, that would really be a cop-out.  I think the honest reason is that I don’t know exactly what to say. I’m procrastinating to protect myself from the failure of writing a bad letter.

The typical “hi, how are you, how’s the weather?” doesn’t seem enough.  Questions I want to ask, like “is the war changing you?” or “are you scared?” don’t seem appropriate.  And, telling you about life’s challenges here would seem trivial in comparison to what you’re facing every day. So, I’m going to get out some paper…grab a pen…and write you a long letter. I still don’t know exactly what I’m going to say…but I’m sure the words will come once the ink begins to flow onto the page.  It will probably be about just random, every-day stuff…like snowstorms, all-you-can-eat spaghetti  dinners, and American Idol.  The typical American day-to-day life that many of us don’t appreciate nearly enough.

Note 

We love you. We’re proud of you.  Come home safe and sound. 

Tracy

Do you procrastinate?  Is there anything that’s been on your to-do list for way too long?

If you liked this post, you may also like Great-Full-Dead and Hey Mr. Postman.

Lookism

 About  six hours ago I was getting ready to head into Business Land to give a public presentation.  I understand that public speaking terrifies some people.  It doesn’t scare me, but I’ll admit that I feel more confident when:

  1. I’m well-prepared on the material; and
  2. I think I look good.

#2 may sound silly.  Regardless, my confidence level always feels stronger when I believe that I look good.

Today there was a slight problem with #2.  My hair was an absolute wreck.  Ya see, my hairdresser had shoulder surgery last month.  Need I say more?  Who knew that she’d be gone for months!  So, my locks are much longer than I like and require much more time to deal with. 

I spent the early part of today working from home.  After lunch I took a quick shower.  Then, I got sucked into a 2-hour conference call.  During which my hair dried.  My two-months too long hair.  On its own. 

Illustration (c) Jenny Solomon

Using a blow dryer while placing important conference calls on mute not advised.  No one wants to hear Warrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr when you accidentally hit unmute while trying to hold the phone and your curling brush in the same hand.  “Oops; sorry about that Mr. Businessmen.  I was drying my hair.”  With my luck, that would happen.  Trust me – it really would.

When the call ended I had less than 10 minutes to finish getting ready.  No time to deal with a bad hair moment.  So, up it went with one quick mirror check in the car.  Not bad, huh?

 

Is looking good worth the effort?

Yesterday’s newspaper said YES.  The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reported that a new book by Princeton University Press will be released next spring called “Beauty Pays.”  It links physical attractiveness and income earnings.  I usually don’t read the daily paper, but this article caught my eye.  To quote the article:

After adjusting for all the other factors that can affect earnings . . . women in the bottom third of looks are paid about 4 percent less than average-looking employees, and men in that group are paid 13 percent less.

If we accept that these findings are accurate, the questions then become — does it matter, and should we do anything about it?

Okay, so….with all the issues that are out there to deal with…now we have to combat Lookism?  The concept that unattractive people are discriminated against. 

This goes beyond dressing appropriately and presenting yourself positively.  It’s about natural beauty.   I personally think that attaching the word discrimination to general attractiveness is going a little too far.  I’ve been in business a long time and have had business relationships with people of many different levels of physical attractiveness.  I don’t recall ever relating their natural-born appearance with their business ability or success.  So, I suppose that I’m not a Look-ism-ist when it comes to business.

However, I have passed judgement based on dress and grooming.  I once interacted with a colleague who wore leggings to a professional meeting.  Public service announcement: leggings are not pants.  I judged.  I didn’t take her work seriously.  All because of the leggings. 

What do you think about Lookism?  Does it exist?  

If you haven’t already entered this week’s giveaway, enter a comment on this post.  The winner will be selected at random and announced on Friday.  Good luck!

Boom x 4

Emeril Lagassi says Bam when he adds spice to his recipes.  I say Boom when spice is added to life. 

On Thursday and Friday, one of my best girlfriends came to visit and we hit a local spa and took in a little Pittsburgh nightlife.   I love spending time with her because she’s so fresh, fun, and free-spirited.  Mint leaf – Boom! 

On Saturday, I packed my bags for three important events.  First up was my cousin’s wedding.  It was so nice to spend time with family at a happy celebration.  We even did the Hokey Pokey and flapped our wings to the Chicken Dance.  Sugar – Boom!

 

Saturday afternoon was my grandmother’s viewing.  Of course it was sad, but also an opportunity to reflect on her life and all the happy times we had together.  She was a strong, independent woman and valued family more than anything.  I don’t remember her ever missing a birthday, a graduation, a wedding, a holiday dinner, or any family event.  Salt (for the wounds) – Boom!

 

That night after the viewing, I drove 3 hours to attend a professional conference where I was scheduled as a speaker.  This caused me to miss the actual funeral, and I’m still debating with myself over that choice.  I guess I’ll pick a flavoring that sometimes I like and sometimes I hate.  Molasses – Boom!

 

I’m ready for life to calm down.  In fact, I could use a little boring right now. Unfortunately, my schedule continues to look insane for the next two weeks.  I usually power through these busy times, do what needs to be done, and then reflect on it all later.  The bad thing about this approach is that when I have too much on my plate, I usually just go through the motions without emotion.  The spices and zest of life get all mixed up together …and everything ends up tasting the same.

How do you handle busy times in your life?

Penguins, Alligators, and Shrek…Oh My!

Whew, did I ever have a busy weekend! 

Once a year I volunteer at a charity festival.  I’m in charge of game booths – about 20 of them.  Umph!  If I don’t see another plush animal or fish pond novelty for the next 362 days, that will be a-okay with me. 

All and all, about 400 volunteers are needed for the 3-day festival. 

Look how happy these people are – who said volunteering can’t be fun and spirit-lifting!?!

The festival was fun and brought in a good sum of money for the charity!  I was running around making sure all the games were running smoothly and not shut down due to malfunctions or lack of volunteers, cause time is money ya-know. 

While we’re on that subject, let’s talk about the value of time and money.  It seems like every week my mailbox is full of requests for donations.   Red Cross, Cancer Society, Food Bank, Fire Department, Animal Shelter.  The list is endless.  Once I even got a request to fund a dog’s campaign for GovernorHuh? 

I’ve always felt that giving my time is worth more than any amount of money.  Other people feel differently – they would rather get out the checkbook.  Or, do nothing. 

Personally, it makes me feel super great to volunteer, particularly in a day and age when we are all incredibly crunched for time.  If you’re like me, at the end of most work days all you want to do is go home, pour a glass of wine, and decompress in front of your favorite TV show. 

Dinner?  Laundry?  Housework?  Open the Mail?  Yeah, Right. 

Once in a while I will actually open my mail and donate money to a worthy cause.  But, I’ve never found much satisfaction in writing that check or licking that envelope.  Sharing by giving my time and heart (and sometimes sweat) instead of my wallet brings me much more peace and joy.  What about you?

Have you ever given your time or money to a worthy cause? 

If you liked this post, you may also like Put the Dress(ing) on Generosity.

Now is Not Forever

Friday has arrived and so has the end of “Change the Way You See, Not the Way you Look” week.  Have you done something nice for yourself this week?  If not, practice a little self-love today! 

 

ob_5_large2 

My copy of the book Operation Beautiful arrived by mail today and I can’t wait to read it.  I don’t know why I do this, but before reading any book I always flip to the back and read the credits and acknowledgements.  This time I had a nice surprise.  In the back of Operation Beautiful was a list of “Motivational Mantras.”  There was one that I really liked: 

Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end. 

We all seem to get sooo stressed out about the right now.  We trick ourselves into believing that how things are today will be that way forever.  And, it’s simply not true.   How many times have you heard your friends say things like… 

  •  Marc broke up with me today; I’ll never date anyone ever again.
  • That dress doesn’t fit me anymore; I’ll always be too big for it.
  • I had a fight with my brother; he’ll never talk to me again.
  • I got my bank statement; we’ll always be broke!
If you say these sorts of always and never statements, try to stop thinking that way.  Time passes.  Situations change.  Circumstances change.   Take a minute and think about how many things you were once upset about that were resolved or that time healed.  I’ll bet there were many, too many to even count.
 
Yesterday I was Busy (with a capital B!).  I kept saying “tomorrow will NEVER come!”  Well, whatta-ya-know, here I am in tomorrow-land.  Nine months ago I was so depressed that I figured I would NEVER be happy again.  Well, looky-here, life is still not perfect , but I’m much happier!!  What about you?
 
Have you ever thought something would never change, but then it did for the better?

Today’s Attitude

Today isn’t just an ordinary day, it is the first day of the rest of our lives.   Oh, that old saying…

Each of us has probably heard those words more than a thousand times …but, when you stop and think about it, why shouldn’t we believe that today is unique and special?  I think it is, and so should you. 

Let’s talk about todays.  Look at the calendar.  There won’t be another day with today’s date ever again.  Next, look at the clock.  You’ll never be able to recapture the second that just passed and call a do-over.  Some of the greatest and worst moments of your life may have passed in a single second.  A smile, a laugh, the draw of your Megabucks Powerball number (okay, if there are any lottery winners out there, my congrats.).  That special moment of your day may be just about to happen, and I don’t want you to miss it! 

Okay, now let’s talk about yesterdays.  When tomorrow comes, what you are doing right now will be in the history book and dubbed “past.”  Old News.  A Memory.  A Time Gone By.  Whatever happened just a minute ago, or yesterday, or even years ago can certainly be having a profound effect on the now, but I’ve never seen a reason to dwell back there.  We can’t change the past and there are no time machines or rewind buttons on life.

It comes down to a little something called attitude.  You know, the way you view things, either positively or negatively.  It also comes down to outlook – whether you look forward to life ahead or are constantly looking back.  Think about your attitude and outlook about today, about what you are doing right now.  Are you enjoying your day, or at least making the most of whatever situation you happen to be in?  If not, try practicing a little positive adjustment.  Your outlook on life is a key element of your BACKBONE.

Do you live in the moment, are you a forward-thinker, or do you dwell in the past? 

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