Thursday, March 31, 2016

Great things that happened today

1. Shoulder therapy - I keep getting better range of motion.
2. Shot some baskets in the driveway - the therapy is working!
3. Ran 2 miles.
4. Tom came along with me on the run and rode his scooter.
5. La Rosa's for dinner - spaghetti and salad.
6. Fixed the clogged drains.
7. Mowed more of the lawn.
8. Got over 17,500 steps in for the third day in a row.
9. Got the cistern filter cleaned.
10. Watched a Big Bang Theory rerun with the family.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Great things that happened yesterday.

1. Went to the art museum with Beth and Tommy. Saw some great works of art.
2. Also saw some things that made me laugh out loud...
3. Shrimp and grits for lunch.
4. Mowed the grass - lawnmower started no problem after a winter's rest.
5. Taco night for dinner!
6. Took a walk with Beth after dinner.
7. Watched an old episode of The Librarians with the family.
8. Came up with my book title.
9. Found Tom a Chinese drawing set on Amazon.
10. Finished the day with a Kasteel Rouge.

Great things happen every day.  I'm grateful.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Great things that happened yesterday

1. Watched the gorillas at the zoo.
2. Saw the new baby cheetahs (also at the zoo).
3. Had a picnic lunch in the car with Beth and Tommy - a little to cold to do the picnic area.
4. Watched Tommy feed a giraffe.
5. A nap in the hammock (it's still indoors).
6. Elliptical at the YMCA.
7. Dinner at my in-laws - I provided the grilled chicken.
8. The new grilled chicken recipe (Coca Cola chicken) was a hit.
9. Banana milkshakes before bed.
10. Found a new area rug for the family room online - free after Kohl's cash.

Great things happen every day.    I'm grateful.

Monday, March 28, 2016

If you are in customer service.....

Say "Let me get my manager".

Don't ever say "there's nothing I can do..."

Unless of course you like having people hang up on you.

And yeah - the whole Discover / Lowe's idea blew up.

Using Discover Cash Back to think long term

We were standing in line at Chipotle for the second or third time this month.  I looked at my wife and said "You know what?  I need to use some of our Discover cash back and order some Chipotle gift cards.

When I checked Discover I realized I had enough cash back to buy another Gladiator Garage Works cabinet at Lowe's, and continue the garage rebuild project.

Then it hit me:  I can always buy dinner at Chipotle.  If I want to really use the gift cards effectively - I need to use the cash back for the big things - the long term things.

From a financial perspective it doesn't matter - the money will turn out the same.

From a focus perspective it makes all the difference in the world.  Dinner will come and go.  I don't need to spend energy planning for the next dinner (unless it's making my grilled salmon of course).  The focus of the Discover cash back should reflect the focus of my long term thinking.

Lowe's it is!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Remember the infinite

Today is Easter Sunday.  It is a time when Christians throughout the world reflect on Jesus' sacrifice.  

This isn't a religious blog - but I feel that a connection to something larger is important for everyone.  As a society we are becoming more secular.  We are busy.  We don't take the time to reflect on how we fit into a much larger picture.

I'm guilty of it too.  We had a meeting scheduled for Friday. It included some folks from one of our mills.  They said "We have that day off".  I thought "Why?"  I had forgotten that Friday was Good Friday, and a key part of the Easter weekend.

Take today - whatever your views and whatever day you are reading this - and spend some time reflecting on the bigger picture. 

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Winning your NCAA bracket pool

Our work sponsors an NCAA bracket pool.  Top ten points all get a prize.  Prizes range from a $100 gas card to a free lunch in the cafeteria.  First round games are worth 1 point, each round points double after that (1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32).

If that sounds in any way familiar - let me now take you through my logic on how I filled out the bracket.

But before we start - know this:  I watched a parts of 3 games prior to the tournament - all season long.  I'm not an expert.  It doesn't matter, here's why:

The only way you win a tournament is to pick the team that will win it all.  And no one really knows who will pull off the win.  Last year Kentucky was a heavy favorite to win it all - but the winner was Duke.

The fact that no one really knows is the key to my first recommendation:  Pick a team that has a good chance to win - probably a #1 or #2 seed - but one that MOST people won't pick.

When I filled out my bracket, I figured that there would be around 100 people entering the challenge. I needed a team that less than 10 people would pick (there are 10 prizes, I want at least a lunch out of the deal).  I threw out Kansas, Michigan State and Xavier (local team).  That left me with three number ones and two number twos.  My immediate thought was "North Carolina is the best of the remaining ones - I'll take them".

Having picked my winner, I filled out that part of my online bracket.

From there it was simply a matter of picking the rest of the teams - with the rule that all of my final 4 had to be #1s or #2s.  It's not that I believe it will work that way - it's just that I'm not smart enough to know which number 3 / 4 / etc. could be the next Cinderella team - or if there will even be a Cinderella team this year.

Having pulled up all the other final 4, I then move to the final 8 (again, lots of low numbers).

After that I have a little fun with it.  Pick some #12 seeds vs. the #5 for early bragging rights and fill out the rest.

As of right now - I'm in first place.  There was a lot of luck this year, but I will stay there as long as the Tar Heels keep going.  Anyone else who picked NC will also win something - as long as they keep winning.  (As a very unexpected bonus - if NC makes the final 4 along with Virginia - It won't even matter who wins that semi final game, as long as they also win the final.  No one picked Virginia in our pool.  I would get a prize either way.)

If I hold out it will be the second pool win - for someone who rarely gets to watch a non-tournament NCAA game.  (The last time I won was when the UConn Huskies won - I was the only person who picked them...)

Friday, March 25, 2016


When Beth and I were first married - MTV had a show called "Unplugged".  (This was back when MTV played music).  Artists would play in front of a small audience - acoustic instruments only.  It was wildly successful - I still have Clapton Unplugged on my MP3 player.  Aerosmith, 10,000 Maniacs and Nirvana were others that did a great job.

Tomorrow - and for the next week - I'm playing Unplugged.

Once a quarter I take a week to unplug from work.  It effectively manages stress.  I do things with the family.  I read even more than normal.  I review the quarter that passed:  Am I better - physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually than I was the last time I unplugged.  I look at the quarter ahead.  How will I continue to improve.

I spend time with family.  Sometimes we travel, sometimes we take a "stay-cation".  This quarter will be the latter - we will go to the zoo, the art museum, and maybe hit a few places like Ollie's and Jungle Jim's.

I won't totally unplug from technology.  I tried that once.  It can be done - but it made things more difficult in areas.  I find it's better to selectively unplug.  I will unplug from work technology.  E-mails, Instant messages, etc.  I will unplug the data on my phone before we leave for the zoo and art museum.  The work will still be there next week.  And it will get done then.  In fact, the week I come back, I will be more focused and more productive and better than ever before.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Opportunity at 30,000 feet

I don’t do Wifi on Delta planes.  For one thing:  I’m cheap.  But I even pass on the free Wifi movies and TV shows provided by Delta.

There’s a golden opportunity on an airplane.  I can put on my headphones and read, or write, for the duration of the flight.  Most of my flights are an hour or so.  If I eliminate distractions (the Internet, the ability to get up and go for a long walk, phone calls) I get one “golden hour”.  An hour when I can focus on the most important thing.

Golden hours are harder to come by.  When is yours?

A bigger question is:  Why am I waiting until my next flight to carve out another entire hour?

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

It's not what you said - it's what they heard

The meeting was sailing along fine.  Decisions were being made, action steps were being documented.

Then all of the sudden - when reviewing a decision I thought was made the month before, a voice spoke up "Wait - I don't think we decided that at all."  Another voice "No, we did."  A second from the table "Yeah, that was decided."

But then another voice said "No, I don't think so."

What went wrong?

Is it because we didn't use Roberts Rules of Order?
Is it because no one read the minutes?
Is it because the last meeting was 3 hours long, and people were tired and didn't catch all the points?

Maybe it's all of the above.

But the bottom line - we left the prior meeting without a concrete understanding - and we lost up to a month on an effort because of it.

What to do?

1. Address the immediate issue.  We came up with a plan of next steps needed to move forward.
2. Address the long term issue.  Maybe the group needs Roberts Rules. Maybe we need a better tool for communication (we currently use a Facebook group).  Or maybe we need to formally adopt Facebook as our communication method.  (A simple check will tell us if people are reading the minutes or not).

Bottom line:  As the leader of this particular group - I don't have to do all the work, but I have to make sure that communication issues like this are handled.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Excellent customer service

Tommy had a broken wheel on his bed.  The farme is supposed to sit on 4 wheels, but one was somehow broken off.

I called The Original Mattress Factory - a local chain where we bought our last two mattresses and box springs.  Rich answered.  I'm pretty sure Rich is the only person who works there - because every time I go in - Rich is there.

I explained the problem - and asked if they sold replacement parts.

Rich said "I'll tell you what - we came put new wheels on the beds in our showroom here, and I have a bag of old wheels here.  They're perfectly good.  Next time you're around stop in and I'll give you one."

Yesterday, on the way home from work - I stopped in and got the replacement wheel.  When I got home, we put it on the bed. The whole fix took less than 10 minutes.

Giving me the wheel probably cost Rich nothing.  In fact he probably was looking to get rid of the extra wheels.

But for me, that transaction meant a lot.  Tom's bed is now fixed.

The transaction meant a lot for Rich too.  Beth and I will need a new king sized mattress in a little while - and I know we'll be calling Rich when it's time to get one.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Predicting the future

From my Kenny diary - 18 years ago.  (Kenny was 3 at the time).
Kenny enjoys music quite a bit.  He will take a bat, or another toy, and run through the house pretending it's his guitar.  He literally wears himself out doing it.  He also makes up songs about Joey, and even makes sure the words rhyme.  Pretty good for a 3 year old.


Kenny was hitting Joey on the head with a toy.  His mom told him to stop, or she'd take the toy away.  He thought about it, and hit Joey one more time.  Beth took away the toy, and Kenny said "It's okay, I didn't want it anyway”.

Based on this we weren't sure if he would be a musician or a criminal.

Fortunately we now know - he's a musician.  And a really good one at that.

Sunday, March 20, 2016


  • Sundays are family days.
  • Sundays are days when I get to hear my two sons play guitar in our church's praise band.
  • Sundays are days when the entire family sits down to lunch AND dinner.
  • Sundays are days when we sleep in a little.
  • Sundays are free from the normal hustle and bustle (at least until Sunday evening).
  • Sundays are days when I fire up the grill.
  • Sundays are the day we get to rest from the other six days of chaos.
  • Sundays are the day when we plan how to attack the next six days of chaos.
  • Sundays. Are. Awesome.
(This is why I don't ruin them by watching Cleveland Browns football games in the fall.)

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Why I wear $100 jeans

  • They fit better.
  • They look good on me.
  • When I look good, I feel good.
  • When I feel good I am inspired.
  • When I am inspired, I do better work.
  • When I do better work, I make more money.
  • When I make more money, I can afford $100 jeans.
Oh yeah - I also got them on sale.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Letting your network have a say

I've come up with a great number of fairly lousy titles for the book (mentioned before in this blog).  While I haven't spent a lot of time formally working on the title, I have burned up quite a few mental cycles on it.  The right title can make or break the book.  It has to be a title that will appeal to the audience who will buy it.

This morning it hit me.  Who better to tell me what the title should be, than the audience itself?  I have over 1000 friends on Facebook - many of whom are either Browns fans, or at least NFL fans who are painfully aware of the pain that Browns fans to through.  Why not ask them?

And just like that, before 6am Eastern Time - I had my first big win for the day.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Things for which I am grateful first thing in the morning

  • The sound of my morning cup of coffee as I pour it from the carafe to my cup.
  • Our brown lab Bailey sitting next to me in the morning as I go through my morning routine.  She knows she will get fed in 15 minutes when Beth wakes up - she's just sitting next to me for the company.
  • The opportunity to drive into work and listen to Zig Ziglar on the way.
  • Reflections on a great dinner with friends and family the night before.
  • The fact that I can still bend over and touch my palms flat to the floor when I finish up my stretches.
  • My health.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Something isn't working...

No blog post yesterday.  No reminder.  When I try to do too much in a day - the slightest failure in the systems I use to get everything done can cause misses like this.

The answer is not better systems.  The answer is better focus.

The benefits of exercise, the benefits of focus.

Yesterday as I walked out of the fitness center - after a good run / walk on the treadmill followed by some stretching - the idea hit me.  It was an idea that instantly became my number one project.  An idea that I will give all of my extra effort to.

As mentioned previously - I wrote a blog about the frustrations of being a Cleveland sports fan.  Naturally a lot of those frustrations are focused on the Cleveland Browns - 1999 to present.

That part of the blog (plus so much more) will become the material for a book:  The Official Cleveland Browns Encyclopedia of Ineptitude.

The book will be published in 30 days.  Before the draft.

This should be fine.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Final note on the scheduling of the blog posts...

I suspected that I had done it incorrectly.  When I set the schedule I hit "Publish".  The act of doing that felt different, and I was pretty certain I had clicked on save the last time. 

Case closed.  Lesson learned.

It was my fault

This blog post was created 3/13, with a target publish date of 3/14.

If it shows up, then I messed up when I tried to future date one before.

The lack of an evening routine

For some time now I've said I need to develop an evening routine, similar to my morning routine.

This morning, as I was going through my morning routine I realized that our family has developed an informal evening routine.

Almost every evening we have a milkshake:  Beth and I have a banana milkshake (we use 1% milk and frozen yogurt to make it more heart healthy).  The boys each have an Oreo milkshake.  We will then watch an episode of Big Bang Theory, or just talk for a while.  It's family time - something that is precious when you have sons who are ages 14, 17 and 20.

Maybe it's not the routine I drew up in my mind.

Maybe it's better.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Avoiding a heart attack - The Hike to Buzzard's Roost.

As mentioned in the prior post - I took the weekend off to go camping with my scout troop.  On Saturday we did a 5 mile hike in Adams County Ohio.  The view at the end was magnificent.

One of my favorite moments was when we looked down a valley, saw an old cabin, and my son Tom said "Dad, that looks like the scene from a John Wayne movie"


So... I'm learning... (Another missed day)

(Or maybe I'm not.)

I knew I would be hiking and camping out all day Saturday.  I also knew I wanted to keep the streak of blogging going.  So I scheduled a blog post. 

Only it didn't work right.

Either it's me, or it's the software.

My IT roots are now showing - I will have to perform a test.  I will set up a future dated blog post for tomorrow.  I will double check everything.

If you see a blog post tomorrow, then it's me.

Friday, March 11, 2016

App Review - BlogPad Pro

It doesn't work.  Not with Blogger anyway.  I think that might be a problem with Blogger - which is the platform I use.  Blogger may not be the best platform, and at some point I might migrate - but it's the one I picked up years ago, and it's working for me right now.

The issue with BlogPad Pro is line spacing. No matter how many paragraphs I write, it jams everything up into one paragraph.  Then I have to go back in and modify things online.  That doesn't exactly save me time...

So I will continue looking for an app to help with my blogging.  And for now, I will continue updating online.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

The 11th idea

There was noise on our phone line.  Our internet had slowed to the point where we were reminiscing about the good old days of dial up.

Something had to be done.  

I did what I always do.  I cleared the white board and brainstormed the list of possible reasons for a slow network (the noise on the phone line didn't bother me as much).  For each reason I listed the likelihood of it being the problem, how we would test to see if that was indeed the problem, and how we would fix the issue.  

After I discussed the options with my wife - we decided that the first thing to do was have the phone company check the line coming in to the house.  They did that while I was on the phone with them, and found an issue.

They sent a representative out.  He fixed the line in three spots (going all the way in to town to fix one).    

The result?  There was less noise.  The Internet was somewhat better.  After he left, it slowed to a crawl.  

As I was going down the list of things on my list of 10.  In the process of testing I pulled out some equipment from a box.  In the box sat two additional phone filters (see attached photo).  The filters are 12 years old.  We use one on the main phone line - because it goes into the wall with the Internet line.

I wondered why they ever gave us more than one.  Then I remembered.  The filters need to go on EVERY line, not just the one with the Internet.

I put the filter on the bedroom phone line, and... Problem solved.  

Sometimes - even after you brainstorm - it's the 11th solution.  

But - without brainstorming - I wouldn't have ever found the 11th solution.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Avoiding a heart attack. Get a Nutri Bullet

The most used appliance in our kitchen is a Nutri Bullet.

We use it to make low fat milkshakes (Frozen Yogurt, Fruit - Bananas with or without frozen strawberries, and low fat milk).

I use it almost every day to make a smoothie. 

Today's smoothie:

Frozen apples:  I found some on sale at Jungle Jim's (49 cents a lb.) last November, so I bought a bunch, cut them up and froze them.  They work fine in the blender and they're in every smoothie.

Frozen blueberries.  Wild ones from Kroger.

Fresh fruit:  Today it was strawberries and a small pear.

Protein powder:  One scoop of vanilla whey protein powder from target - 25 grams!

Milk:  Today was 1% skim.  I frequently use water.  Just depends on my mood.

And no smoothie would be officially complete without...

Vegetables:  Today it was kale.  I alternate between kale and baby spinach, because I can't taste either one of them.  I have tried celery but it doesn't work for me.  I can't taste it in the smoothie, but I burp it up for an hour afterwards.

The Nutri Bullet people say half fruit and half vegetables.  I'm not there yet.  And I'll probably never get there.  I'm at my target weight and body fat percentage.  I see no reason to alter the taste of the smoothie.

Speaking of taste - it's delicious.  It tastes like a milkshake.  That's what keeps me coming back.  I like the fact that it's healthy, but I LOVE the fact that it's delicious.

By the way - a Ninja is a perfectly acceptable choice.  I just found the Nutri Bullet on sale with a lot of accessories.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I missed a day

The original idea behind this blog was to blog for one year straight.

I have written blog entries every day.  Some days I write an idea for a blog entry but don't get the whole thing finished.  I might collect several thoughts.

Yesterday I wrote an entry.  I thought I published it.  But I didn't check the website. 

Let's review what's going on at the Barth house:

1.  We are having problems with our wifi and internet access. 
2.  I tried a new app on my iPad - it doesn't seem to be as good as just composing on the web.

So whose fault is it that I missed a day?  Mine.  I knew we were having internet issues.  I didn't check the site yesterday.  And I was the one who took the risk with the new iPad app.

What to do?

I can say I did blog yesterday - even though I didn't publish.

And... I can publish more than one update today (done).

But the one thing I can't do is past date the blog entry.  That's bullshit. 

I missed a day.  I took a risk, and I didn't live up to the Charles Emerson Winchester ideal.  I will learn and move on.

Avoiding a Heart Attack - The Exercise Routine

There's an old saying:  The perfect exercise is one you like and will keep doing.

For me - that wasn't enough.
I like running.  Always have. Not competitive running - but just getting outside and running.
The problem was:  I live in Ohio.  For the most part, running outside in December through February is not an option.

The other problem was:  I have knees.  And the left knee didn't like running every day, or even every other day.  When I tried to push through it - the knee held me back.

The solutions?  A treadmill solved the first problem.  It's not as fun as running outside, but with SportsCenter in front of me it got better.  
The second problem was a little more difficult to solve.  I had to learn to like exercises that weren't my favorites.  The stationary bike is a pain in the butt (literally).  But with the right program I can challenge myself with hills and advancing levels.  And there's always Sports Center.  The elliptical machine also not a favorite, but it offers the same options (hills and SportsCenter).  Additionally, some of the elliptical is I use take me on a hike through Germany or New Zealand.  That turns the exercise into a strong like.

Lastly - I added weights to the routine.  If I have done all of my aerobics, I get to use the workout machines at the Y, or Dumbbells at my work gym.  This is something else I enjoy.  I can see the immediate results.  Not that I turn into Arnold or anything, but I do get some immediate feedback. But the weights only come AFTER I've done the bike or the elliptical.

The results?  I now like all of the exercises.  It's a habit.  I've been doing it for over 6 months.  And my body fat has gone from 25% to 18%.

Want to get better?  Find the things you like and do them.  Then find the things you don't like, and find a way to turn them into things you like.  And do them too.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Capturing my dreams

Last year I had the opportunity to meet with the CIO of our company.  Our team was given the chance to submit questions ahead of time.  

In the past I would avoid submitting questions.  Usually these questions take the form of "What do you see as our next big technology wave?"  (It's going to be apps - look around you people...) Or "Are we going to have a headcount reduction?"  (We will match supply and demand...  That's the standard answer - has been for years).  

But this time I decided to ask a different question.  It's the same one that Tim Ferriss and John Lee Dumas ask:  

Ideally - what do the first 60 minutes (or so) of your day look like?  

Here's a guy who's had a lot of success in business - why wouldn't we want to know what his habits are?  

Some of the answer was what you'd expect:  Hit the gym, read the Wall Street Journal (especially the technology section), in general read a lot.    

But then there was a new thought:  He said "Ideally the night before I dreamt.  That's very important.  I like to capture what I dreamed about."  

If it's good enough for the CIO, it's good enough for me.  When I wake up in the morning - as part of the journaling in my morning routine - I capture any dreams I remember.  In as much detail as I remember.

Sometimes they're inspiring.  I'm speaking on a stage in front of 1000s of people.  Other times they're just odd - I notice that we have bunk beds stored in our Boy Scout Troop trailer.  Sometimes I know that I had a dream - and maybe a thought I wanted to keep - but by the time I wake up I forget what it was.  The last area is why I capture the dreams.  If I train my brain to capture them - the key thoughts won't disappear so quickly.   

Do you capture your dreams?  

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Toastmasters Speech Contest Season

I love Toastmasters Speech contest season.   Ever since 2011 - when I started at the club level (February) and went all the way to the finals in Las Vegas (August) it's been an important part of my year.

This year will be different.  After the August heart attack, and a few months of thinking about it, I am taking a break.

That doesn't mean I'm not involved in contest season.  This year I am focused on helping others.  So far I've worked with eight contestants on speeches.

I am hearing some great messages.  Messages that will reach people. I am hearing some wonderful stories.  Stories that draw me in.

I'm using my experience to make those messages more impactful, and reach more people.

I look forward to a full recovery and being able to compete again (next year?  Vancouver would be awesome!) - but I am really enjoying helping others exclusively this year.

Friday, March 4, 2016

I do one thing. I do it very well. I move on.

I have been having a payroll issue at work.  Like many companies we have a program that invents employees to get blood pressure and cholesterol checked once a year.  When that happens the employee gets a rebate in their paycheck of $250.

Beth I got the blood test in October.

I still haven't received the $250.

Every month I call our employee service center and describe the problem.  Every month I get someone who acts like they're hearing this problem for the very first time.

During the month I get calls.  The call is "We just wanted to let you know that we have no update at this time."  Everyone gets those calls.

The people on the other end are nice.  They mean well.  But they are clueless.   My initial thought was "incompetent" instead of "clueless" but I don't think they're incompetent.  They have a flawed process which they follow.  To me that means the organization is clueless.

How much time are they spending telling people they have no update?  Wouldn't that time be better spent finding and then documenting solutions to problems?

They need to listen to Major Charles Emerson Winchester from the classic TV show MASH:  "I do one thing, I do it very well.  I move on."

DO ONE THING:  Fix one problem.  Don't juggle between problems.

DO IT VERY WELL:  Close the loop with the customer.  Leave breadcrumbs for everyone else on your team.  If the problem is a system issue that has a permanent fix, turn it over to IT for that fix.

MOVE ON:  With a  clear conscience to the next problem.

I follow this advice as often as possible.  I tell myself:  Don't juggle.  Do one thing.  Do it very well.  Move one.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

The six cent solution

My youngest son was having problems focusing on his math homework.  It's true - there are more fun things in life than math.  He's at the age where he doesn't want (or need) the help, but he needs a nudge sometimes.

After a few minutes I walked up to him and said "how many problems do you have left?"


"Do you think you can have them done in 10 minutes?"


I placed 6 pennies on the table.  "Every time you get a problem done take one of these pennies.  But at the end of 10 minutes I'm going to come back and take whatever pennies are left."

Three minutes later the homework was done.

Sometimes a little change of focus is all it takes.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The morning routine

In 2014 I read the Hal Elrod Book "Miracle Morning".  I was sold:  I needed to get up a little earlier and start my own morning routine.  Hal's idea is you can spend as little as one minute each on six areas, or if you have the time an hour (10 minutes each).  I generally get 15 to 30 minutes (it used to be an hour - but as I'll discuss on a future post - I made a commitment to get enough sleep).

Over the past two years it has evolved.  Here is what I currently do:

1. Read the Bible.  It's important to reach out to something bigger than you.  For me, that book is the Bible.

2. Stretching.  One minute of stretching with deep breaths - the idea is to stretch my body and stretch my mind.  It's corny - but who doesn't need to be more flexible (physically)?

3. Gratitude log.  I list 3 things I am grateful for.  People in my life, little things in our house, moments from the prior day, opportunities in front of me, etc.

4. Daily Affirmations.  I use the affirmations from Zig Ziglar (you can google it), but any affirmations will do.  Just something to get a little pumped up.

5. Journaling.  5 minutes or less.  I have a word document on Dropbox.  I update it.  At this point I also review my New Year's resolutions (yes, I'm still trying to keep them), and make a quick update to my scorecard (subject for another blog post).

6. Visualization.  I write about my goals as if they are complete.  I talk about what I do and how I live in the future as if it's today's reality.  This primes my mind for success.

I close with a quick look at my schedule for the day, my task list (to make sure both are in sync with what I've just done).  I then note the ONE thing I need to do to make the day a success - to move toward the future, to help others and to move closer to the end state I just visualized.  I wrap up with a word of prayer - and I'm ready to start my day.

I'm also working on an evening routine - but I'm not quite there yet..

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Small efforts consistently applied

When my two oldest sons were ages 1 and 4 I decided to write down things they did.  I would capture brief snippets of the items on a Palm Pilot (at the time - later a Blackberry and finally an iPhone).  Each month I would look through the brief notes and write a few sentences about each item.  It could have been a quote, an event in their life, or just one of my observations.

I never missed a month.  And in any month I probably never spent more than an hour in total on the effort. 

Today I have three sons, and hundreds of pages of wonderful memories.

What can you do with a little effort consistently applied?