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Archive for August, 2008

Welcome to the August 31, 2008 edition of the Balanced Living Carnival.

Health/Wellness

Your posture is an important part of your health. Learn how to spot it, and fix it! Yongho Shin presents 4 Signs Of Bad Posture (And How To Fix It) posted at One Crumb.

Peter presents Six Scientific Ways to Create True Happiness posted at The Change Blog.

TherapyDoc presents Wall-E, Obesity, and The Magic Touch posted at Everyone Needs Therapy, saying, “This movie has subtle messages about wellness.”

Stephen presents How to Skillfully Deal with Suffering in the World posted at Balanced Existence.

You may be interested in learning about which brain areas and cognitive functions are engaged as we solve the type of brain teaser known as Spot the Difference. Now, want to try? Alvaro Fernandez presents Brain Teasers: Spot the Difference posted at SharpBrains.

Monica presents Trade Stress for Peace posted at Enjoying a Healthy and Balanced Life.

Motivation

ElleAtDefiningSomeday presents On Motivation: Why We Do What We Do posted at Defining Someday.

Sid Savara presents Positive Talk Creates Positive Action – How to Stop Talking Like a Loser posted at Sid Savara . com – Personal Development, Maximizing Productivity and Life Hacking, saying, “Every day we make many tiny decisions that affect our lives. One of the decisions we make almost unconsciously is the way we talk to ourselves, and the way our words affect our attitude and our action. I caught myself doing it yesterday when I considered going to the gym and then thought “I don’t want to do it.” Right away I decided that was it – no more loser talk, time to go work out!”

Sid is right on. After you read this article, take a gander and something I recently wrote called “Shift your attitude. What you say to yourself matters.”

Azelma Petit presents The Chuck Norris Guide to Self Motivation posted at Biz.Edu. The article gives advice on motivating yourself in all walks of life, including entrepreneurship, using the humor of Chuck Norris references.”

Personal Growth & Development

Achieving goals is a process – not just an end point- and the journey can be as enjoyable and significant as the destination.  ElleAtDefiningSomeday presents Enjoy the Ride posted at Defining Someday. Achieving goals is a process – not just an end point- and the journey can be as enjoyable and significant as the destination.

Toni presents You always have a choice posted at Happy Nest. This is a story about one of Toni’s life-defining moments. Making choices, no matter how simple or grand the situation is, empowers you. Passiveness won’t solve anything, but finding your voice and asserting it will.

Anand presents 3 Easy Ways to Change Your Emotional State Instantly posted at Anand Dhillon . com. The quality of our lives is the quality of our emotions. This article details 3 unique ways to instantly put yourself in a positive emotional state when you are feeling down.

Dr Martin W. Russell presents Working Through A Problem posted at Dr Martin W. Russell.

Chris Edgar presents Going On A Mental Diet posted at Purpose Power Coaching, saying, “Much of today’s personal development literature is about how the type of thoughts you think influence your reality. While I agree that the kind of thoughts you think affect your quality of life, I think it’s also important to recognize how the amount of thinking you do shapes your experience of living. There’s a growing recognition that too much thought of any kind, whether positive or negative, can bring needless suffering into your life. In this article, I discuss some of the ways excess thinking takes away our ability to fully participate in and enjoy life, and make some suggestions about how to stem the constant stream of thought.”

Rigdha presents 8 “Must Use” Free Time Management Tools to Save Tons of Time posted at Get Your Success Now.

AndrewB presents Hard Work or a Secret Formula? posted at Personal Hack. Ever wonder if success is a result of consistent hard work or a secret formula? This article sheds light on what Andrew says is really is behind success.

Caroline Middlebrook presents Learning To Deal With The Fear Of Change posted at Life Should Feel GOOD!.

David B. Bohl presents Is Enough Ever Enough? posted at Slow Down Fast Today!, asking readers, “Do you ever find yourself complaining that you need more or want more of something? Time, money, love, space, material possessions, happiness–what’s your “never enough”?”

Great Management presents All Managers Are Customers Too posted at The GreatManagement Blog, saying, “Whatever business you are in, you will find that there is one key cause of your success.”

Meg A. presents Who are you? posted at How to Make a Difference.

Productivity

Richard Johnson presents Happily Get More Done with Work Periods posted at Reaching A Better Place. In our contempt for the 9 – 5 work day we forget the value of having a work period. This article comments on the ways of applying one to our free time and why on Earth we’d want to.

Zantor presents The 8 Themes of Seeking Excellence posted at Internet Productivity.

Sweettooth presents How To Manage Your Gift Budget: 3 Easy Tips posted at Shop Little Gifts.

AndrewB presents 5 Instant Energy Tips posted at Personal Hack, asking, “Want instant energy? You know when you have one of those days where you get so much done, and feel energetic all day? Well these tips will help feel more energetic and productive right away.”

Relationships

ElleAtDefiningSomeday presents Wild Card Inside posted at Defining Someday. This article is about how watching someone else perform one of their strengths can help you to learn more about yourself.

Anthony Delgado presents How to Love Your Wife | eInquisitive | Think About What Matters Most. posted at eInquisitive | Giving you something productive to think about!.

Simplicity

Kathleen Gage presents Never enough time – or is there? posted at Daily Awareness, saying, “How many people live in the space of frustration? The fact is, there is not enough time to do all we think we must do, want to do or dream of doing. There is just too much to do, calls to make, people to see.

One of the few things we truly possess is time. There is only so much you can do and only so many roles you can play. How we choose to use the here and now is a personal and a powerful choice. Choose wisely.”

After you check out Kathleen’s article, take a gander at one I wrote called “The time is there. You just have to find it.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of the Balanced Living Carnival using our carnival submission form.

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Productivity is a great thing. I don’t believe that you have to schedule every minute of your day or that you have to be in work mode 24/7. I do believe that it is important to do our jobs and do them well – whether you are an investment banker, an office manager, an artist, a stay at home parent, or a research analyst.

I read a lot of blogs and I’ve seen people on both sides of the productivity issue. Some people say “get as much done as possible.” Others have a “who cares about productivity?” or an anti-“life hack“attitude. Of course, there is everything in between.

The dictionary defines productive in the following ways:

pro·duc·tive
–adjective
1. having the power of producing; generative; creative: a productive effort.
2. producing readily or abundantly; fertile: a productive vineyard.
3. causing; bringing about (usually fol. by of): conditions productive of crime and sin.

(there were three other definitions that don’t relate to what I’m writing about)

It is not a bad thing to produce, to generate, to create. Most everything we have in life was produced – the food we eat, the clothes we wear, the movies we watch, the music we listen to. I’d be pretty let down if musicians stopped producing great music for me to listen to. I don’t plan on being a hunter or farmer any time soon, so I appreciate the productivity of people who help produce the food that is on my table.

While we often have to go the extra mile at work, or put in more time at certain points, don’t work yourself to death. Work is important – but if it kills you, what good is that? Step back for a minute if you feel overwhelmed. Take time for yourself. Relax. Have fun. Take a vacation – even if it means not leaving town, but just spending time at home with family and friends – or alone.

Once you adopt a healthy view of productivity, you will stop seeing it as the enemy. You won’t feel as pressured to always be in “go!” mode or to shun the idea entirely.

What is your view of productivity and how does it impact you?



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Happy Friday!

I just wanted to take a quick moment to let you know about an article I wrote called “25 Ways to Build Stronger Friendships,” which is posted over at the Life Optimizer blog.

I hope you take a moment to read it and that you enjoy it.

Have a great weekend!

Alaia


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Hiking

What is it that you want out of life right now? A successful business? A romantic partner? An organized home? A vacation?

Are you living a life that reflects what you want for yourself and what you value? Not sure? Try this:

Grab a piece of paper, a journal, or open up a new document on your computer. Ask yourself, “what’s taking up my time?” Make a list. Here is an example of things you might include: work, time with your spouse or kids, time with other family, time with friends, volunteer commitments, spiritual development, errands, home improvement, etc.

Examine your list. Your list reflects who you are – but is that who you want to be?

What do you want for your life? Do you wish you could adopt a dog, yet you have a schedule that keeps you away from home 18 hours a day? Do you share with your friends how much you want to have a “special someone” in your life and yet you don’t leave room for dating? Or maybe you are already in a relationship, but you aren’t taking the time to cultivate and nurture it with your partner?

Take time to carefully plan out what you can scale back on or cut out entirely so that you can create room in your life for the things that you want. Go to the next step: now that you have created the time, what else do you need to do to bring those things into you life?  Just because I took two weeks off from work does not mean that I have the resources to take a trip to Argentina. Most likely I’d need to put in more hours at work for a short time, curb any unnecessary spending, apply for a passport, and so on.

While it can be nice to fantasize, wouldn’t you love to turn those flights of fancy into reality? How can you turn these things you want into tangibles? How can you get your time to reflect your values and the things you really want?

  • Decide what you really want.
  • Figure out what you need to do to get what you want.
  • Turn that list of things you need to do into goals and priorities.
  • Create milestones and deadlines for your goals.
  • Tell people you trust about what you want to create accountability and support for yourself.

You won’t get what you want by sitting around on your butt all day – unless what you want is more time to sit on your butt. Dream about it, but make sure you back those dreams up with actions. We’re given 24 hours in a day. Leverage your time and create the life you want.


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Stressed Woman with Headache

Everyone has flaws. No one is perfect. NO ONE (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!). Beating yourself up for every little thing you do wrong is not going to help your situation. Most of the clients I’ve worked with have very similar thought processes, regardless of the fact that they range in age, gender, socioeconomic background, nationality, and ethnicity. The clients that just need a little jump start to get the ball rolling are different from the ones who struggle and trudge along in one major way – the way they talk to themselves.

I can usually tell by someone’s “self-talk” and the way they explain their situation how they are going to approach the project they’ve hired me to help them with. Client’s who tend to say the following tend to have more success with their efforts:

“I know my situation isn’t terrible, but I am not happy with it. I know it could be better and I just need some help to get it done.”

“I used to be organized but __________ happened and things got hectic. Things have settled down now and I just need to get things back to normal.”

“I’m ready for things to change. I know they can be better.”

Clients who express things in the following way also tell me immediately after that any attempts they’ve made at organizing go awry and they are back at square one:

“This is just too hard. I can’t do it.”

“I don’t know how to be organized. It will never work.”

“I don’t even bother anymore because I know it won’t do any good.”

Though I don’t think it is appropriate in all situations, I think in this one, the “fake it ’til you make it” method can work.

Rather than saying:

“I can’t….” say “I can…” even though you are struggling.

“I don’t know how to…” say ” I will learn how to….” even if you don’t have the answer now – because you can find the answer.

“I wish I had…” say “I will have….” to motivate yourself to accomplish your goal.

“I would like to, but….” say ” I will achieve that, and I will do it by….” and think of things you can do to help you get what you want.

It’s very rare that anyone accuses me of being an optimist. I actually tend to label myself a “hopeful pessimist.” But I have noticed that when I say:

“I can knock those dishes out in a few minutes,”

“I can sort through all the clothes to figure out what to donate with no problem,” or

“I can get everything under control,”

I’m much more likely to get through those projects, even though they are things I really don’t want to do. When I tell myself I don’t have the time, or it will take too much effort to try everything on to see what still fits – well, you would be amazed at how long it takes me to get around to doing those things.

Get a picture in your mind of what you want, and then stop telling yourself you can’t have it. If you want an organized house, picture it – and then get real. Tell yourself you can have an organized house, but don’t stop there. Take out a piece of paper and list when, where, how, and why you can have it. When you start to come up with some solutions, you can change your situation. Don’t settle for “I don’t know how….” If you don’t know how – who does? Take a class, call your mom, hire an organizer. Get help and change that “I don’t know” into “I’ll learn how to.”

While the suggestions seem simple, their application isn’t so easy. If you struggle with negative self-talk and notice that it hinders you from achieving what you want, I invite you to try these things. Be deliberate. Give it a shot – it can’t hurt.


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Thinkstock Single Image Set

One of the top complaints I hear from clients is about paper. They have too much paper. They don’t know what to do with all the paper. Their filing system is a disaster or non-existent. For those of you dealing with the same issues, here is a brief guide to organizing your papers, setting up a system and taming the madness. Apply to home or work life as needed.

Prep

1. Gather all papers together. Know what you’re dealing with. Don’t dump EVERYTHING out of their folders and create a big mess for yourself, especially if you will be doing the project over the course of a few days. Gather everything you can find – from inside the filing cabinet, your desktop, the pile in the corner, all of it. Note: Keep an eye on the most recent active files. Put them in a folder of a different color than all the rest or leave them on your desk. You don’t want to get active files mixed in with the madness – again, especially if you aren’t starting and finishing this project in one day.

2. Go through everything file by file, paper by paper. Take stock of what you have. Write down some general category ideas that come to mind as you go through everything.

3. Route as necessary. If you no longer need the paper in question, send it back to where it belongs – to your boss, husband, teenage daughter, co-worker, or the recycle bin. Don’t create more work for yourself by filing things that you don’t need to keep.

Set Up

If you took notes on some category ideas, review your list. Notice any common themes? Can certain categories be combined? Figure out what kinds of documents you are dealing with before you start labeling folders.

How does your brain work? If it is easier for you to file everything from A to Z, go for it. This is the fastest, simplest method of filing, and it definitely gets the job done. If you can handle categories, with the files within them alphabetized, follow that system. Example: Kids – Subcategories: Medical Records, Report Cards, Summer Camp Info.

My Filing System

  • Personal
    • Car
    • Car Insurance
    • Health
    • Taxes
    • Unpaid bills
  • One Organized Life
    • Administration
    • Advertising/Marketing
    • Banking
    • Blank assessment forms
  • Los Angeles Small Business Owners Group
    • Agendas
    • Marketing
    • Receipts
    • Rosters

That’s just a snippet. I don’t have a ton of categories, so I was able to make each one a different color as well. Pick a system that works for you.

Note about filing supplies: It’s always good to have supplies on hand so that once you get started, you have everything you need. With other kinds of organizing projects, I tend to wait until we’ve sorted and purged before purchasing any supplies. For organizing paper, if you will be using a traditional filing system, it is a good idea to have plenty of manila folders and hanging files on hand. If you prefer to write on labels instead of directly on the folder, pick up some filing labels.

If a file is overflowing ask yourself: Do I need all of this? Can this be broken down into subcategories? Make sure papers are easy to find within their respective files, or else the system is pointless.

Help yourself. You can write notes on the front of file folders indicating what is inside. In my assessment form folder, I have four sets of forms, all paper clipped. On the outside of the folder, I wrote which forms are inside. Same for the former client folder. I have a list of names written on the outside. Write information on the outside of the folder that saves you from having to open it up and search.

Maintenance

Ask before you file. Do you need a hard copy of this document? Why? Where does it fit in your system? Do you need to create a new file? Is there any way to eliminate the need for this? If possible, can it be scanned and saved on your computer? Don’t worry – you can usually get the answer to these questions within a second of looking at the document. Our brains work incredibly fast.

File immediately. If you have a system in place, it does not take long to drop a piece of paper into its home.

Send emails instead of faxes and snail mail when possible. Sometimes when we send something via fax or snail mail, we’re tempted to keep a hard copy “just in case.” I always ask people if I can email invoices to them. When they prefer faxes, I have to print the invoice (which I do not normally do), fax it to them, and then wonder if I should keep it, since I went to the trouble of printing it out. Faxing creates two pieces of paper for each one sent – the one you put in and the one they take out. Try online fax services like eFax instead.

Ask people to send you emails instead of faxes and snail mail.

Avoid printing things whenever possible. “Well, I used the ink – I should probably keep it.” Just say no.

Purge regularly. If you purge on a regular basis – at the end of the month, when summer camp is over, when someone else takes on the account – you won’t have to find the time to spend a day doing this all over again.

Keep electronic copies of documents whenever possible. And please, if you are doing this, back up your hard drive on a regular basis. The less paper that hits your hand, the less you will have to file.

Remember

Avoid piles as much as possible. Unless you are working your through the pile in front of you, right now, piles are pretty inefficient. If someone opens or shuts the door quickly, a breeze comes in through the window, or you accidentally knock the pile over, you have a mess on your hands. Finding papers in a pile can be time consuming – have you ever looked through a pile several times, saying to yourself, “I know I put that piece of paper in this stack”? After a couple of look tries, you find it. Wouldn’t it have been easier to go directly to it’s file.

If you land a new client or start a new project, don’t wait until you’ve amassed a ton of papers to create a file. Do it now and you’ll be ready to handle each new document as it comes in.

Avoid creating “To Be Filed” folders – especially if you know you won’t go through it.

Avoid creating a “Miscellaneous” file to avoid forgetting what you put in it. Having a miscellaneous file is like having a junk drawer. It can be handy to a certain point, but eventually it is just a mess.

Review

  • Gather everything you need before you start.
  • Get rid of anything you don’t need to keep.
  • Create a simple system that works for you. You won’t use a system you hate.
  • Cut back on hard copy creation – save electronic copies, send emails, avoid faxing.
  • File what you need, get rid of what you don’t – immediately.

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The concept of “working at home” is nothing new. People have been working at home since the dawn of time. The ever changing world of work and business has seen an increasing number of people working from home, and there are no signs of that changing any time soon. Writers, independent sales reps, freelancers, small business owners and entrepreneurs, and employees whose companies permit telecommuting are just a small sampling of the kinds of people working from home these days.

Most people in the working world have experienced having some sort of manager or boss in relatively close proximity who can pop in at any moment to see what they are up to. It’s safe to say that for many people, this is what helps keep them on their toes. But what about those of us who work from home at least part time? I spend the majority of my time in someone else’s office, but when I come home, I still have writing deadlines to meet and things to do for my own businesses.

What can we do when the couch (or in my case, the bed) is calling our name? How do you resist the urge to explore everything the internet has to offer? Here are some suggestions to managing yourself when no one is watching.

Man looking into file

1. Get dressed for work every day. It doesn’t have to be fancy – unless you are meeting clients and that is what is expected. Get in the habit of viewing working from home as any other legitimate work environment. Take a shower, get dressed, drink your coffee, eat breakfast, or whatever your normal routine would be if you were leaving the house.

2. Keep work and home separate. Do the best you can to keep home life and work life separate. While you are working from home, remember, the key is WORK. Dedicate a room, or a least space in a room for working. Don’t work in bed. Create a space specifically for work – get in the habit of realizing you are at work. If other people are at home during the day (house mates, spouse, kids, other relatives), close your door. Send the message that you are at work. An open door sends the message that people can come in at will and interact with you.

3. Set office hours. Maintain those boundaries. Act as though you are at work – because you are. Return personal calls on your lunch break or when you are done with work for the day. Save the housecleaning for later. When work hours are over, enjoy your time with family, friends, or time alone! Sure, you’ve got some leeway, if you were working in an office or store, you’d turn off the lights and head home. Do the same thing at home. Wrap things up and walk away until tomorrow.

4. Plan your work day. Create a to-do list for the day. What absolutely has to get done? What else needs to be accomplished but is less pressing? Set up a mini-road map for the day to provide some structure for yourself. Yes, even artists can use a little structure. I’ve had plenty of artist clients!

5. Create a schedule that works for you. One of the benefits to working at home. If you aren’t a morning person, start a little later, or do tasks earlier in the morning that get your warmed up for when you are at your peak. Perhaps you start the morning with a few non-essential tasks because you know you hit your peak at 11 and you can power through something really important then that will take more of your focus and energy.

6. Take breaks. Take a lunch break. Get up and stretch your legs once every hour or two. Take breaks during times your typically feel sluggish. Use that time to check personal emails or play around on the internet during this time.

7. Create a healthy work environment for yourself. Make sure you have adequate lighting. Get a comfortable chair. Buy a plant. Listen to music that isn’t distracting – avoid mellow sleep inducing music, songs that bring down your mood, or music that makes you want to get up and dance every two minutes. Find the balance between upbeat and out of your seat. Tidy up your work space at the end of the day so you don’t dread starting work the next day because of the prep work you have to do just to get started. Getting started is tough enough as it is – don’t make it harder for yourself.

Working from home can be great as long as you can manage your time. For some of us, working from home can be a luxury (I know it would be for me!), so it is important to make sure that boundaries are put in place so that we get things done. This is important across the board regardless of who you are – but it is really horrible if you convinced your boss to let you work from home twice a week and you get nothing done on those days!

Are you a person who works from home? What struggles have you faced? Which habits and practices work for you?


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