What’s Your Excuse?

Excuses are the worst enemy of productivity, and they are best friends with procrastination. When procrastination and excuses buddy up, productivity doesn’t even stand a chance. I probably wouldn’t be too far off to estimate that 90% of all excuses aren’t even legitimate. They are just what we use to justify our procrastination, and we even convince ourselves that it is a totally valid reason for not doing what we know we should be doing.

Do you ever find yourself thinking about something you don’t want to do, and then suddenly all these reasons pop into your head for why you can’t do it right now? Excuses are your mind’s natural defense mechanism for protecting you from undesirable things on your to-do list, like getting started on that overwhelming project or writing that dreadful term paper due next week. There is always some excuse you can use to get you off the hook, but for how long? Eventually, you have to beat the procrastination, stop making excuses, and get shit done!

The best way to do this is to take a look at why you procrastinate. There are 2 main reasons for putting things off:

  1. It’s something you don’t enjoy doing
  2. It’s something you don’t really know how to do

In both cases, it’s likely that your mind is making it seem worse than it really is. There are some tips for kicking procrastination and excuses to the curb:

Just get started

It usually just takes making the first move to get a task going, but it’s this first step that’s the hardest. Once you start, you will find that it’s nowhere near as bad as you thought. Make a commitment to yourself not to accept anymore excuses, and you will find that procrastination will back off and let you get to it.

Break things up

We tend to put off things that are intimidating or overwhelming. In this case, break the tasks into pieces or set small goals that will make you feel more at ease. Beware that doing tasks in a start-and-stop manner opens up more opportunities for pesky procrastination to swoop in. To help with this, try setting firm deadlines for yourself.

Dangle a carrot

Rewards motivate, and when paired with productivity, they are a tough team to beat. Reward yourself for getting stuff done. Sometimes, for me, just knowing that I will no longer have to dread the task itself is enough motivation for me to stop putting it off.

I hope these tips make you more aware of the sneaky antics of the devious duo, Excuses and Procrastination.

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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What Not to do in an Interview

We conducted 6 interviews for a marketing internship position in my department this week. I know that since it’s an entry level position, the candidates were not seasoned interview professionals, so I shouldn’t set my expectations too high. But seriously? Is anyone being taught how to write a professional resume or even how to have a successful interview? I know I went through career prep exercises in both high school and college, but I’m thinking you don’t really understand the value of this practice until you actually try to enter the “real world.” It probably takes a few doses of rejection for new grads to realize that they need to get some feedback and take the whole process more seriously.

I would really like to be able to give feedback to the people I met this week, but I don’t know how to do it without it seeming rude. Instead, I am going to blog about it in hopes that I can help anyone who reads this. So here are some things you should not do in an interview:

  1. Don’t wear a short party dress and 5 inch heels
  2. You should definitely dress to impress, but remember who you are trying to impress. Think conservative, clean, and professional. Dress appropriately for the position for which you are applying. Remember you are in a business environment, not a night club.

  3. Don’t ramble
  4. It is understood that you are nervous, but be conscious of what comes out of your mouth. Sometimes what you think is an expression of enthusiasm and passion can come off as an overwhelming spout of TMI for the person sitting across from you.

  5. Don’t come off as uninterested
  6. There is a difference between being confident and appearing completely unenthused. It is possible to be excited and enthusiastic while maintaining composure and not looking like you’re trying too hard, but boring is unimpressive.

  7. Don’t tell me you don’t have any questions
  8. My company develops highly complex biometric technologies, and you don’t have anything to ask? It’s very important to ask your own questions because you are interviewing the company and your potential coworkers as well. Not doing so shows that either you didn’t do your research, or you don’t really care.

  9. Don’t submit a resume with spelling or grammatical errors
  10. If you even get an interview, errors on a resume start you off with diminished credibility right from the get-go, especially if the person hiring is a grammar nut like me. It shows that you are not thorough in your work, and depending on how atrocious the mistakes are, it may even discount your intelligence.

Those were the biggies. Being on the hiring end of the interview process has been eye-opening for me. I hope that these suggestions help someone; even if it’s just one person, I would feel like I’ve done my part. With unemployment rates like we have now, the competition is fierce, and you just can’t afford to make simple, yet major, mistakes like these.

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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Home Improvement Projects 101

My freshly stained kitchen and new paint!

As you may have read, I am officially a first-time home buyer! Tomorrow will be my third week in my new home, and man have I been busy. Things are finally coming together, and the new house is starting to feel like home. Last night, I actually got to enjoy my first bubble bath in my nice big tub that has been calling my name all along. It took this long because the painting, cleaning, moving, unpacking, and cabinet staining were calling my name even louder, screaming actually. But it’s mind-boggling how projects can consume you, especially when it’s something you are highly motivated to accomplish. I have found myself completely engulfed lately; I just zone in on a project, set an objective in my mind and go for it! Before I know it, it’s 3am, but at last, voila! My kitchen is done! There is something so rewarding about the sense of accomplishment you get when completing a goal. This is something my dad taught my when I was young.

You should have that feeling of accomplishment every day. It doesn’t necessarily have to be from big projects, but you should feel like you did something productive. Not only do you get a sense of pride, but you also gain self-confidence and self-satisfaction that only you can create for yourself. It doesn’t feel the same when you watch someone else accomplish something. Not that you can’t feel proud of someone else, but there is something about standing back and admiring something that you actively created that feels so good.

Had I hired someone to paint my house, I would not feel the same sense of accomplishment and ownership as I do when I look around at what we did. I can’t take full credit here, because I had a lot of much appreciated help from generous friends, family, and of course my amazing boyfriend. It was a serious team effort and when I look around I am reminded of what an incredible support team I have. There is no way I could have done all this by myself, and I am truly grateful to have such wonderful people in my life. I have many, many more projects to come. I’ve been told it comes with the homeowner territory. I will definitely be learning some new skills along the way!

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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The Price of a Home

I am in the process of purchasing my first home. That’s right, I said “home,” not house. I have recently become aware, however, that there is a difference. The new real estate market is a callous beast that doesn’t care about anything but the bottom-line. If you are looking to buy right now, you are most likely going to be dealing with banks, frigid, heartless establishments that sell houses…pieces of property made of wood and nails and some paint.

These banks don’t care about that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you walk into the perfect house. They don’t understand that you can search and search and feel nothing, but when you finally find the place that makes you feel at home, you have to have it. I have been told not to get emotionally attached to anything that can’t love you back, but it’s hard. You cannot prevent yourself from envisioning your life in a new place; it’s part of the selection process when you’re buying a home. I have to be able to imagine my future in a home…Will I host my first Thanksgiving dinner here? Is this where I will start my own family?

Needless to say, it’s been a frustrating process. The banks take their sweet time trying to decide if your offer will meet their approval. After my first offer being flat-out rejected without even a counter offer, I’ve had to contemplate the price I would pay for happiness. The uncertainty of the market’s future adds an additional element of stress to any price decision. Real estate always used to be one of the most secure long-term investments you could make. But now, who knows what the future will hold.

I am supposed to hear today if my last offer was accepted. It’s a home I can see myself in for awhile, so I made the best offer I could. Let’s hope the bank thinks so too!

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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How to Prepare for Rain or Shine

It’s finally summertime! That means it’s time for BBQ’s, beaches, concerts and other fun outdoor activities. You would expect this time of year to be full of sunshine and pleasant weather, but what do you do when Mother Nature rains on your parade?

I recently had a run-in with some wet weather, and I found myself ill-prepared. In my case, it wasn’t a parade, it was my triathlon, which I had been training for all spring. I had read the weather report and saw the stormy forecast, but for some reason it didn’t register what that would entail: soggy clothes, drenched gear, muddy shoes…

In hindsight, here are somethings I wish I would have had on race day, and they are things you should have on hand if you plan to do anything outside on a rainy day. They may seem obvious, but they are things you wish you would have had but don’t think about until you find yourself in the rain without them.

  • An umbrella
  • Ummm duh! Of course an umbrella, but as I said, it’s one of those things you forget until you need it.

  • Plastic garbage bags
  • The best, easiest way to keep anything dry you don’t want wet. Like your bike seat, for example, while it’s waiting for you in the rain. 16 miles on a soggy seat is not the most pleasant experience.

  • A light, water resistant jacket
  • Thankfully, this I did have; however, it doesn’t do you any good if you don’t zip it up before getting on your bike and pelted with water drops. Trying to zip it up with one hand while racing is not a good idea either.

  • Old shoes
  • Or any shoes you don’t mind getting wet and potentially muddy. I decided to wear my new tennis shoes. Rain= puddles and puddles+dirt=muddy mess

    Don’t get me wrong, I do love the rain, and although I was drenched, the race was amazing! There are just some little preparations that can make a huge difference when you find yourself out in the storm.

    To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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Make the Time to Get a Check-Up

I am going to warn you from the beginning that this is a bit of a soapbox post. This is for the “tan-aholics” and those who don’t care about the risk of skin cancer as long as they look tan today. Skin cancer is a SERIOUS and potentially terminal disease. I’m going to share the story of a close family friend in hopes that it will change someone’s mind about the importance of a tan.

Our dear friend was just diagnosed with advanced melanoma and told she may have less than a year to live. She is only in her 40s and the mother of a bright, beautiful daughter who just graduated from college. There were no warning signs, no visible indications that something was wrong. She suddenly and very rapidly became ill and ended up in the hospital.

An estimated 114,900 new cases of melanoma were diagnosed in the US in 2010, with nearly 8,700 resulting in death. It’s been shown that about 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet radiation. There is nothing healthy about tanning and nothing attractive about ignoring the risks of cancer.

My message to you is to wear sunscreen every day, and make the time to visit the dermatologist once a year for a check-up. Our schedules are busy, and you may be under the misconception that you only need to do this when you’re “older,” but your age does not matter. In fact, most of the damage is done when you are young. Be proactive in your skin care because there is no Undo button once the damage is done.

Please pray for my amazing friend. She is a strong and remarkable woman, and my heart goes out to her and her daughter during this difficult time.

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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The “Back to Reality” Blues

I just returned from an amazing vacation in Maui. My boyfriend and I stayed with my grandparents in their condo on the beach to celebrate his graduation from UNR. You would think after a nice relaxing week on the beach I would be fully energized and ready to tackle real life, but jetlag and cold weather just aren’t making it easy. I went from Alooooha! to Aloblahhhh, and I’m wishing I was back on the beach in the sunshine.

The funny thing is, I know that if I lived in a place like Maui, it would lose its luster. Vacations are an essential part of creating balance in your life; however, if you are always on vacation, it no longer does the trick. Working extra hard makes those breaks that much more rewarding. I think if I were on permanent vacation, I would eventually have the urge to find something to do. Consider, for example, the many retirees who have gone back to work because they got tired of sitting around and needed something productive to keep them busy. It all comes down to the fact that you can indeed have too much of a good thing. Moderation is key to creating balance.

I know I will feel more refreshed in a couple of days and more motivated to get into my work. In the meantime, I am going to continue to attempt to readjust to reality while I fantasize about where I’m going next!

On a side note….

If anyone is interested in vacationing in Maui, my grandparents’ condo is amazing and available for rental throughout the year. Shameless plug, I know 🙂


Amazing Maui Condo for Rent!!

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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