Category Archives: Time Management/ Organization

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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How to Tackle New Project Anxiety

I always get overwhelmed when first assigned a new project. It’s that point in time when you have no answers, limited information, and no plan that evokes the fear of the unknown. My head begins to swim with questions, ideas, and thoughts as the new assignment is laid on me. It’s not until I have a moment to sit down and organize the muddled mess in my mind that I begin to relax and move forward with confidence.

When tackling a new project, organization is key. You have to organize your thoughts before you can even begin to make sense of it all. Here is what I do during the initial stages of project planning:

Ask questions

Get as much information as you can right from the beginning, and take notes. Make sure you are clear on expectations, timelines, and assumptions. If you don’t know something, leverage the knowledge and experience of others. The more details you can get from the beginning, the less chance you have of losing time by heading in the wrong direction.

Make a list (1 of many!)

This is how I release all those thoughts clogging my brain, so I can think clearly. I write things down in lists, starting with the major components of the project. I sort these sections in order of urgency and sequence. From there, I break down all the actionable items into tasks for each.

Create a timeline

Once you have a better understanding of the work breakdown structure, it’s easy to start creating a timeline or Ghantt chart. Be realistic with your time estimation; you have to find the balance between over ambitious and dragging your heels. Give yourself a little cushion because overly aggressive timelines could set your project up for failure.

I always feel much better once I have done these things. What do you do when journeying into the unfamiliar territory of a new project?

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!


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4 Reasons You’re Stressed & It’s Your Fault

You’ve heard it all before: “It’s just one of those days,” “I hit traffic,” “My dog ate my homework.” We find excuses for the consequences of our actions and try to blame them on some external force out of our control. We often use stress itself as an excuse: “Sorry, I’ve been under a lot of stress lately.” I’m going to tell you something you probably don’t want to hear… it’s probably YOUR fault you’re stressed. It’s not traffic, and it’s not your poor dog. There are many cases in which stress is self-induced, and here are some examples:

Poor time estimation

One of the most frequent causes of stress is time constraint. Deadlines, appointments, and other obligations put pressure on us to be somewhere or have something accomplished by a certain time. If you don’t manage your time effectively, you create more stress for yourself than if you had planned properly.

Procrastination

We’re all guilty of putting things off to the last minute sometimes. If you procrastinate, however, you are just asking for stress. No one else is to blame for waiting until the last minute but yourself.

Should have said “No”

Are you a “yes” person? Do you take on too many things and wind up spread too thin? It is ok to say “no” sometimes, especially when you already have a full plate.

Distorted perspective

This one is the trickiest source of stress to identify because it usually takes someone on the outside looking in to say, “hey, it’s really not as bad as you are making it.” When you lose perspective of how things really are, you lose sight of the big picture. When you place too much importance on things that are actually insignificant in the long term, you cause yourself undue stress. Ask yourself, “Is this really something worth the energy, time, and mental capacity I’m giving it?”

The good news is, these self-induced stressors are actually the only ones you have control over. There are circumstances that cause stress which are out of your hands, but the ones you impose on yourself can be prevented if you recognize you are doing them and assume full accountability. You must admit that the stress is your fault before you can take action to fix it.

To a happy, healthy, productive life!

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9 Times You Should Resist Multitasking

Our fast-paced, digitally facilitated lifestyles have integrated multitasking so seamlessly into our daily activities that we don’t even know we’re doing it. Multitasking sometimes gets mistaken for productivity, but does getting more done at the same time guarantee that the result is of acceptable quality?

In pursuit of maximum productivity through multitasking, you may actually end up actually wasting more time than if you had just focused on one task at a time. As an example, I recently spent over an hour in the grocery store because my mother called, and I am incapable of talking and shopping at the same time. I ended up wandering around the store talking on the phone because I couldn’t concentrate on what I needed to get. Then at times, I would tune out of the conversation to compare the price of this or that, and Mom would have to start over because I missed what she said, which dragged the conversation longer.

That being said, there are some people and activities that deserve your full, undivided attention.

You should resist the temptation to multitask…

…when driving.
…when spending time with family.
…at the dinner table.
…when working to meet a deadline.
…when trying to fall asleep.
…when exercising.
…when having a one-on-one conversation.
…when walking on a busy street.
…when grocery shopping.

Don’t get me wrong. I am an avid multitasker; however, I would argue that when quality matters, the task at hand should not share your attention with other preoccupations. The best time to multitask is when the tasks don’t require full mental capacity and perfection is not required. For example, I watch the news while folding laundry, and I can cook breakfast while getting dressed and packing a lunch. I would consider these examples effective time management. But when your focus is necessary, turn off the phone, stay off the internet, or close the door, and you will be surprised how much more you actually get done.

When do you multitask? Has there ever been a time when multitasking turned against you?

To a happy, healthy, productive life!

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7 Problem Areas in Need of Some Spring Cleaning

Spring is the time of year for starting fresh. You start seeing new leaves on the trees and flowers sprouting, as Mother Nature cleans up the winter mess. Remember those piles and projects you’ve been putting off all winter? You know, those ones that you’ll get to once Spring comes. Well, tomorrow is the first day of Spring, at precisely 9:21 P.M. EDT in fact. I don’t know if Spring is in the air where you are, it certainly isn’t here in Reno, but it’s about that this time of year when a fresh start is needed in your own life.

Having trouble deciding where to start? Here are 7 messy places that could probably use some Springtime lovin’:

1) The car

If you live in a place where it snows, you probably have a nice dingy coating of road sand both inside and out.

2) The garage

Do you still have boxes of holiday decorations that haven’t been put back in the rafters? It’s time to clear a path so you get to your garden tools or bicycle without loosing a limb.

3) The bathroom cabinet

The bathroom cabinet becomes the storage place for all extra toiletries. If you have multiple, half-used shampoos or lotions under there, combine them into one bottle and throw the rest away.

4) The closet

It’s time to make room for the summer clothes! Sort through clothes and shoes, and bag up at least one bag to donate. While your at it, it’s a good time to organize too!

5) The office

Once you’ve tackled the desk and filed/recycled/shredded the piles of paper, it’s a good opportunity to dust as well. This includes the electronics and behind the desk; that’s where the dust bunnies live.

6) The yard

If the weather is nice, it’s about time to start preparing for garden season. Trim the dead branches from bushes and trees, and rake the leaves from the lawn and planter beds. It’s time to get ready for the new growth.

7) The pantry

Sort and organize food so it’s easy to find. Check expiration dates, and make a point to either use or discard food that has been in there for awhile.

Where are your problem areas? I would love to hear about your Spring cleaning projects!

To a happy, healthy, and productive life!

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How to Adjust to Daylight Saving Time

It’s that time of year again. It case you missed it, you are an hour behind. Daylight saving time began this morning at 2am, which, for me, is the first sign that summer is finally on its way! Do you know why we do this every year?

Here are some fun facts about daylight saving time:

  • It was first suggested by Benjamin Franklin in 1784.
  • It was originally put into law in 1918, but is now optional for the States to decide whether they will use it or not.
  • Hawaii and Arizona don’t practice daylight saving time.
  • In Western Europe, it’s called Summer Time, and it starts the last week in March and ends the last week in October (different than the U.S.).
  • Daylight savings in the Southern Hemisphere is opposite of the Northern Hemisphere. It begins between Sept.-Nov. and ends between March-April.

I personally enjoy the longer days and extra sunlight. Why waste precious sunlight when you are sleeping? However, I’m not a big fan of losing an hour; it always takes a few days for my biological clock to adjust.

A few tips for getting used to the time change:

  1. Make sure all of your clocks have been changed
  2. Don’t think in terms of the previous time.
  3. Try to get ready for bed earlier the first few nights, so it’s easier to fall asleep at your new bed time.
  4. Take advantage of the extra sunlight by taking an evening walk or eating dinner outside (weather permitting of course).
  5. Conserve energy. Open up the curtains and shades so you don’t need to turn lights on until later.

How do you cope with losing an hour?

To a happy, healthy, productive life!

Photo Credit: Adil Harchaoui

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More Valuable Than Gold or Oil

With the current instability in North Africa and the turbulent market conditions over the past few years, there is a heightened awareness of the value of limited resources and commodities. We are all conscious of this because we hear about it every day from the media or suffer from it when we fill up our gas tanks. But there is a bigger crisis, one that goes completely unnoticed. Every day, as we go about our lives, we use up the most precious resource we’ve been given, and because it’s free and seemingly unlimited, we often waste it or take it for granted.

Let me give you some clues and see if you can guess what this vital resource is….

1. It’s priceless- it can’t be bought, sold, or traded.

2. It’s non-renewable- it’s impossible to make more of it.

3. Everyone is given the same amount each day- it’s up to you to get the most out of it.

4. It’s an equalizer- it doesn’t matter how rich or powerful you are, you get the same as everyone else.

5. It can’t be saved for later- you have to use what you’ve been given because once it’s gone, it’s gone!

Where you able to guess? The answer is…

Time

…and it’s the only resource you don’t hear about in the news. Everyone is given 24 hours each day and complete freedom to use it as they please. Make the most of your time and don’t let it slip by unused or unappreciated. This doesn’t mean if you aren’t doing something all 24 hours, it’s being wasted. Sometimes doing absolutely nothing for a moment is exactly how it should be used. My point is, be aware of your time and how you are using it because when it’s all gone, you want to be able to reflect on how amazing it was, not wondering “Where did the time go?”

To a happy, healthy, productive life!

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