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The Simple Yellow Banana: How to simplify your life.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010 1 comment

(Photo: Jason Gulledge)

Did you ever notice how great the banana is? How it fits so nicely into your hand; how just by looking at it you can tell if it is ready to eat? Did you ever realize it has a built in pull tab for easy opening, the peel separates and falls back so gracefully and it’s even curved toward your face for easy consumption? Yes, it doesn’t get much better than the simple yellow banana.

For all the effectiveness the banana has to offer in its tight yellow package there is not much about it you can offer as a complaint; in fact the packaging is even biodegradable. So my question to you is how can you make your life simpler? What can you do to make everything you in your life as effective as the banana has? The answer is easy; it is execution that’s the hard part.

Going on an Information Diet:

“You don’t need to know everything; you just need to know where to go to get it.”

  • Watch a little less television.
  • Skip the morning paper occasionally.
  • Cut down on some of your internet time.

Think about it; do you really remember everything you read, watched or listened to at the end of the day? And of the things you do remember how important are they to your life? Does it really affect your life when a celebrity cheats on his wife? Unless you are his agent or he is endorsing your product, I’m guessing not. So why spend time cluttering your mind with information that is going to be yesterday’s news – tomorrow?

Instead spend some time with your family and friends or take some time for yourself to relax.

Apply the 80/20 rule:
Pareto’s Law says 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes. This or similar ratios apply to most things in life.

  • 80% of your life’s complication is caused by 20% of….
  • 70% of your stress is created by 30% of….
  • 90% of your happiness comes from 10% of….

Think about what you can eliminate to remove the complicated stressful parts of your life and apply the extra time toward those things which make you happy and add simplicity to your existence.

Be in Control:

“You can’t control everything that happens in the world but you can control your response to it.”

Be in control of yourself. If someone is trying to argue with you; the only person who can allow you to get upset about what they are saying, is you! If you are feeling stress about an upcoming event, this may happen or that might go wrong; guess what? Those things are out of your control! What are you accomplishing by worrying about them? Have a contingency plan and move on.

All too often we get worked-up about things in life we have no control over, take time to assess the situation, determine if there is anything you can do to affect the outcome and if the answer is no, then let it go. Take control of your life and put your efforts toward the things you can contribute to and make your life simpler.

Once you start to let it all go, you will feel the stress dissipating and your mind focusing on what is truly important Let your own built-in effectiveness take over; the banana did it, why can’t you?

What are you going to do right now, to make your life simpler?

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“No, no way, uh-uh, forget it!”

Thursday, January 28, 2010 Leave a comment

(Photo: massdistraction)

We are pulled in many different directions in life, be it a project at work, a bake sale for school, a volunteer opportunity, you name it. So how do you find time to participate in everything and still find time for yourself and for your family? The answer….you don’t! It is time to just say, “NO!”

It Hurts to Say No

It is not so easy to say, “no.” The word “no” carries with it:

  • Guilt associated with not being able to help.
  • A struggle against peer pressure and others impression of you.
  • Feelings of failure not being able to do all the things you may want.

Let’s face it, You can’t do it all!

Why say, “no?”

We all have goals in life and hopefully you are focused on what you really want. If so, the answer should be an easy one, however saying, “no” is the difficult part. Remember every time you say, “yes” you are taking time from your schedule and essentially saying, “no” to something else in your life. So don’t feel bad saying, “no,” it allows you to have time to concentrate on what is really important to you and…

  • Keeps you from burnout.
  • Lowers your stress level.
  • Allows you more time for other things.

When should I say yes?

Before you can even think about getting good at saying “no,” get clear on what to say, “yes” to in life. If your yes is more time with your family it will mean turning down obligations keeping you away from home. If it’s yes to better health, you’ll need to say, “no” to late nights at work that keep you from the gym. “The firmer your foundation and connection to your yes,” says William Ury, Ph.D., author of The Power of a Positive No, “the less difficult it will be to say no.”

Are there some times you should say, “Yes?” Of course, but before you do, ask yourself:

How to say, “no.”

You have come to the decision to say, “No,” because is does not fit what you are looking for in life; so how do you do it?

  1. Show sincerity. – People appreciate a genuine response.
  2. Be direct and don’t elaborate. – No one wants to hear excuses.
  3. Be convincing and exude confidence by being firm. – If your answer is no, say, “no,” and mean it.

“Avoid burdening the other person with unnecessary or elaborate excuses. You run the risk of the other person trying to fix the situation. Plus, the more drawn-out the excuse, the less authentic it sounds — and, in the end, it’s really no one else’s business.”

Here are some examples of  ways to say, “no” and why they work:

  • “Thank you, I already have something going on at that time.” – Tell them you already have plans for that time.
  • “Thank you for the offer, but I am committed to another project.” – Let’s them know you appreciate the offer, but you are committed to something else (ie. Church, charity, school, family, etc,)
  • “I’d really love to, but it just does not fit my schedule.” – Shows interest, but let’s the other party know the timing does not work for you.
  • “Not at this time.” – Leaves the door open for them to ask you at another time.
  • “I don’t want to take on what I can’t fully commit to doing well.” – This is a yes to higher standards.
  • Say “no” by saying “yes.” – Lessens the feeling of conflict.

Don’t be ashamed or feel guilty about saying, “no.” Take pride in knowing you are remaining committed to your values and are doing what is important to you and your family. You’ll be stronger for it. Even better, you’ll be a more focused contributor to the people and things that matter to you most.

What are some other ways to say no?
Do you think you should ever say, “no?”

Article Title Source: Parents Just Don’t Understand DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

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What’s it gonna be; yes or no?

Tuesday, January 19, 2010 2 comments

(Photo: Johnny Grim)

You have a decision to make and the answer is yes or no. Maybe it will help you get where you are going, maybe it is a temporary solution, maybe it is not the right decision at all. How do you decide?

First, you must have a clear vision of what you desire in life, a definite major purpose. Once you have that, you will know the answer by formulating it based on what best suits your goals.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Will this tie-in directly to my definite major purpose?
  • What is my heart telling me?
  • How does saying yes help me?
  • If I say yes; what will I have to give up doing to do this instead?
  • What will happen if I say no?
  • Will this be too much for me to handle?
  • Will this challenge me?
  • Is it the right time for me?
  • Is this something I am saying, “yes” to or is it something that makes me say “HELL YEAH!”

If the opportunity does not seem exciting to you, then the answer should be an easy one. Only do what fits your vision and don’t do it if this is not something you are going passionate about.

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Does your sales cup runneth over? Just add water.

Thursday, December 17, 2009 1 comment

(Photo: darkpatator)

So many times we are thinking about the big win, the one deal that will save the day, help us reach our goals or make us look like hero to the rest of the company. And why not; it is great to focus on those sizeable achievements, but it also takes those several smaller feats too when you are looking at the big picture. Often times it can be those last few small drops that allow our cup to run over. After all without the constant flow of your day to day business, where would you be?

So where do you start & how do you determine what to focus on?

  • Take a step back.
  • Look at the big picture.
  • What are your goals?
  • Determine what would be the quick and easy slam dunks.
  • Figure out what might take a few extra days to close.
  • Plan and prioritize according to what will allow you to compile the largest sum before the end of your selling cycle.

All too often we get so busy, being busy, we don’t take the time to focus and strategize on what the big picture is and what needs to be done to accomplish the most. So be sure to take the time to assess your best strategy then move forward with a well thought out plan.

Get the big win’s, but don’t forget about your core business and the small feats. Take time to prioritize and strategize. Soon you will find your cup runneth over.

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4 Ways to Improve Yourself ~ A cut above the rest.

Thursday, December 3, 2009 Leave a comment

20-047

(Photo: Stanley Tools)

You may have heard the phrase “Sharpen the Saw” in Stephen Covey’s book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®. He uses the example of a woodcutter sawing day after day continually losing productivity as the blade of his saw becomes dull. The solution is to periodically sharpen his saw so he can continue to be productive as a woodcutter.

Times have changed!

If you have ever used a hand saw you might think a saw is a saw, it cuts through wood and you send up with two pieces of wood and a pile of sawdust in the end. Although this is true to a point, Stanley® Tools makes a saw, the FatMax® Saw with BladeArmor™, they also make this same saw without BladeArmor™.

“Yeah, so, who cares, what’s the difference?”

Now if you were to take these two saws and try to cut through a 2×4 you would realize the difference. The Stanley® FatMax® saw without BladeArmor™ will cut through the wood and it will do a sufficient job, it might tweak here and there and it might stick a bit from time to time but in the end you have two pieces of wood and a pile of sawdust. Now using the Stanley® FatMax® Saw with BladeArmor™, you will still end up having the same results, two pieces of wood and a pile of sawdust, but you will have it in half the time. Why? Because the BladeArmor™ gives you:

  • 50% less friction
  • 2x rust protection
  • 6x abrasion protection

You might spend a couple extra dollars, but in the end it is worth it because you created two pieces of wood and a pile of sawdust in half the time and you avoided the:

  • Extra friction of the saw cutting through the wood
  • Toll that rust can take on your saw
  • Abrasion caused by cutting through the wood

Now what if you could apply this concept to your day-to-day life. How would you like to go through life with your own armor which provides you:

  • 50% less life friction?
  • 2x protection against the corrosion caused by life?
  • 6x less abrasion from others?

You would love it! So why not take the time to upgrade your saw?

Ask yourself these questions:

  • How sharp is your saw?
  • Does it cut smooth?
  • Does it cut straight?
  • Does it cut through wood like a hot knife through butter?

If you answered “no” to any of these questions, then take a step back and look at where you can make improvement to your skills.

What needs to be done to improve your saw?

First, you need to take time for yourself.

It is all too easy in this industrious world we live into skip a meal, forget to exercise and not sleep as much as we should. All of these things are important to keeping you healthy, energetic and alert. According to MayoClinic.com improving these areas of your life can help you to:

  • Enhance your mood
  • Combat disease
  • Manage weight
  • Boost your energy level
  • Promote better sleep
  • Improve your memory
  • Enrich your health

Second, spend time with your family, friends, and colleagues.

Studies have shown our social relationships can directly affect our mental and physical health. In order maintain solid relationships it is important to be:

  • Approachable
  • Genuine and honest to others
  • A good listener
  • Loyal and respectful of confidentiality when others confide in you
  • Supportive of their situations and to add perspective to what they say
  • Considerate of your relationships and giving of your time and self

Third, contrary to what you might think; YOU DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING!

Take some time to learn. By taking time to improve your mental skills whether it be through formal classes, reading, writing or even teaching others. It will help you to:

  • Be more productive and efficient
  • Ensue a competitive character giving you an advantage over others
  • Enhance career opportunities
  • Improve your skills by getting better at what you do
  • Become a disciplined individual

Lastly, take time to enjoy life!

When was the last time you jumped out of bed in the morning exhilarated for the day with a complete calm, not thinking about the issues affecting your life? When is the last time you dived into a pile of autumn leaves, without thinking how dirty you were going to get? When is the last time you jumped in a puddle, with no concern of getting wet?

“Childhood is that state which ends the moment a puddle is first viewed as an obstacle instead of an opportunity.” – Kathy Williams

It’s about:

  • Finding peace in your life
  • Taking the time to appreciate all your existence has to offer
  • Enjoying those little circumstances you encounter each day which brighten your spirit.

There are a number of ways you can cultivate your spirituality:

  • Go for a nature hike
  • Listen to music
  • Visit a local gallery to appreciate some art
  • Volunteer in your community
  • Pray or attend church

“Everyday is a new opportunity…so don’t waste it!”

Each day provides you a new opportunity to renew your being. Take time for yourself, be social, spend time learning and enhance your spirit.

What will you do to improve your saw?

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“HELP! I’m buried under here!”

Saturday, November 7, 2009 2 comments

(Photo: Tasja)

Do you ever feel like you are getting buried under a ton of bricks, by your work? Like you are unable to breathe and no matter what you do you will never catch up with your workload? Well join the club; the club of millions of people across the globe fortunate enough to be employed in this age of cutbacks and layoffs. Everyone is taking on heavier and heavier loads, bearing more weight for the company. And you’ll do it without a flinch or the bat of the eye, after all look at your alternative – unemployment! You may be only one person but you need to learn to cope and to manage yourself as a more productive and effective employee.

Prioritizing can help!

This is one of those times where you need to spend a little time to save yourself even more time. Start by writing down each item on your to do list. It’s okay if you fill up the whole page, just take the time to get your list written down no matter how big or small. Next, label each item prioritizing it as an A, B or C item.

  • A = Item which is urgent in respect to time. No matter the importance it needs to be done right away.
  • B = Item of importance and somewhat time sensitive, but not with an immediate need.
  • C = Item which is not urgent or does not have a time line.

Once you have each item prioritized, the path is clear. Start with the A items, work through each task, move to the B items, complete each task and eventually move on to the C items completely clearing your list. Well maybe not. You see it is not likely your list will ever be clear and it this economic climate you should be concerned if you don’t have another project in the queue. It is likely you will continually be adding new items to your list which is why you will need to reprioritize as new tasks come in. Each task will vary in importance so be flexible with your priorities allowing new projects to take precedence when need be.

As times passes, items which were lower on the list, often increase in priority. Something which was not important last week could take precedence today; so it is important to review your list daily. As new items keep piling up taking precedence; when will you ever get to those C items? Great question.

A and B items can frequently take much time and concentration, but if you use your time wisely, you will find time to complete all your tasks. First take a good look at those C items determining if they are really something you need to get done or are they non-productive filler items which can be scratched off your list. Next, take a look at your schedule to find bits of time where you will not be able to focus accurately on the important A or B tasks; this could be on the seat of airplane, on the commute into work or while waiting for an appointment; no matter the case, use this time to knock out a few of those C items. It could be a phone call or quick email, either way use this gray time do what you can to complete a few C items.

What if you have multiple high priority items needing completion right away? Take a look at each item determining which item is most important or urgent. If you come across a hard decision it becomes a judgment call. No one knows your job better than you so make the call. If you are not confident in your ability to do this, contact your manager present him with the conflict, provide potential solutions, and then ask for assistance.

When you are feeling buried alive remember to ask yourself what is important, prioritize it and accomplish your goals one by one.

  • Are there other things you can prioritize in your life?
  • What other methods do you use to get yourself out from under the workload?

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Don’t GOal into Debt, Balance your Goal Checkbook.

Sunday, November 1, 2009 2 comments

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(Photo: megan/quinn)

Goal setting; what a waste of time, right? WRONG! Every year without fail, I grieve over this process. And every year without fail I start looking at how I did and think, WOW, I did this and that, I could have done better here, and could use some improvement there. But you see it’s like taking time to balance the check book. You hate to do it, but it has got to be done so you can see where you are at financially. Consider goal setting and goal reviews as your personal checkbook to balance. You need to take time to balance your life and figure out if you are on the path you intended.

First, start by reviewing last years objectives:

  • Did you come out ahead or are you in the red?
    • If you came out ahead, what led to you to achieve your goal and are you able to utilize a similar process to attain other goals?
    • If you came out in the red, what could you have done differently to change the outcome?
    • Look for areas where you can make improvements and work to do better.
  • Did you blow your goal out of the water?
    • Set that goal even higher next year.
    • Or has it become so routine and natural, you don’t need to include it as a goal anymore?

Now give yourself a pat on the back for what you did well and a stern talking to for things you could have done better. Don’t be too rough on yourself; resolve to do better in the year ahead.

 

Second, set SMARTER goals for the future.

  • As you set goals, verbalize them in a positive tone and it will keep you optimistic. Never discourage yourself by stating your goals in a negative fashion.
  • Start with your major objective and break it down into small clearly defined achievements which will stair step you up to your major objective making it a reality.
    • Having these smaller goals makes your major objective seem more achievable.
    • Accomplishing these smaller goals will motivate you and improve your self confidence as you near your major objective.
    • Prioritize your goals keeping the most important one on the top of your list.
  • Develop a method to evaluate your goals for achievement.
    • You need to have a way to measure your goals in order to know if you have achieved them.
    • Whatever the case set a realistic number and then just for the fun of it tack on a little bit more than you can handle. This becomes your “go get” target. You know you will likely reach the realistic goal, but can you “go get” that little bit extra? You bet you can!

“Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for?”Robert Browning

 

  • What are the realistic levels of achievement for your goals?
    • Are there areas of improvement which you could add to your targets?
    • Set both qualitative and quantitative result oriented goals:
      • Qualitative: goals tied to quality improvements.
      • Quantitative: goals that can be measured and are usually tied to numbers.
  • Apply a specific timeline as to when you have each goal accomplished.

Finally, take a few minutes to review your goals frequently. Reviewing your goals keeps them in the forefront of your mind and will make them more achievable because you will be thinking about them often and looking for ways to make them happen. It’s like checking your balance. Are you going to end up in the red? What strides can you make to change that? Take those strides and be sure you always end the year with your checkbook balanced in the black. Before you know it your goals will be accomplished as if it happened by banking error in your favor.

Ready, Set, GOal!

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