Saturday, April 30, 2016

Great things that happened - April 30, 2016

GREAT QUOTE I READ: "Your language should be so clean you could give your talkative parrot to a priest, preacher or rabbi." (From Zig Ziglar, but he was quoting someone else).


- Kenny's concert. All his original compositions, performed by students at NKU.
- Kenny played guitar on one song, trombone on two others.
- Tommy made cheesecake cupcakes for desert, fulfilling another cooking merit badge requirements.
- I got 30 minutes in on the elliptical.
- I had my first "Zig-a-then". I flipped the day's script and played music on the drive, and Zig Ziglar at the office.
- I traded the highway for back roads on the drive to work. Much more fun.
- I still made it to work in the same amount of time.

- I don't have a talkative parrot.

Effective Use of Humor

Beth got the text as we were driving to Northern Kentucky University.  It was from our oldest son Kenny "There's a Barry Manilow concert tonight - traffic is terrible."

It was the night of Kenny's junior composition concert - scheduled to start at 8:15.  Barry Manilow's concert - at the BBT Arena on the NKU campus - was scheduled to start at 8:00.

As we waited in traffic, Kenny texted his mother "Don't worry - the guy before me had to delay his concert too - so I won't start until 8:30 or so."

Eventually we got to Kenny's concert, as did everyone else.  People were frazzled.  Everyone was complaining about Barry Manilow.  Some about the traffic, most just about Barry Manilow.

When the concert started, Kenny - in tuxedo - stood up in front of the group and said "Good evening. I'm Barry Manilow".  Everyone laughed.  The pressure of the night was relieved.  And the concert was awesome.  Kenny's concert I mean.  

Friday, April 29, 2016

A great trip

Joe needed an irrigation syringe for his wisdom teeth holes - the first one broke. 

We tried all over - then Beth had a great idea: Call the dentist. 

Sure enough - they had some - but were closing in 20 minutes. Beth finished dinner while I did the drive in 10 (it's really not that far). 

On the way I found a CD I had put together in 2001 called the "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Hard Rock Mix" - it was what I used (with headphones) to block out distractions before I was on the show. I put it in - and there were songs I hadn't heard in a long time. 

The song list:

Barenaked Ladies Live - This is Where we Used to Live (not sure on the name)
BNL Live - If I Had a Million Dollars.
Van Halen - Black and Blue
Aerosmith - Living on the Edge
Dire Straits - Industrial Disease
Bob Seger - Katmandu
Mountain - Mississippi Queen
Joe Walsh - The Confessor
AC / DC - Money Talks
AC / DC - The Jack
One other - it skips my mind right now.

A great trip with a great outcome - the dentist gave us two syringes for free.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Thoughts on the Browns draft

Tonight is the night that Browns fans probably most look forward to - the NFL draft.  It's like Christmas... If you got really lousy presents in the past.

As expressed in my book - I'm a Browns fan for reasons that have nothing to do with the 1999 and beyond version of the team.  I generally don't get frustrated with them - I take a stoic approach to them.  If they start losing in September (they usually do) I focus my efforts on yard work, fall festivals, etc.

Still - I approach the draft with some excitement, for two reasons:

1) I get to predict what they will do (I'm rarely correct...) and
2) With their lousy record from the year before I get to see if my prediction was correct relatively quickly.

This year's prediction:

I'm going with Ezekiel Elliott if he's there, trade down if he's not.

From a numbers point of view it just makes too much sense.  If you can run the ball, you take time off the clock.  When you take time off the clock, that keeps your opponent's offense on the bench.  Did you know that - in the entire history of the NFL - no team's offense has ever scored from the bench?

The Bengals, with an average running game, ran the ball 90 times more than the Browns last year.  If the Browns did that it would translate to 36 fewer incomplete passes (you can either run or pass - the Browns completed 60% of their passes), which is 36 fewer clock stops.  At 30-40 seconds per stop, that's 20 minutes - over one minute per game - of defensive help.

Put a player like Elliott in there and you become well above average, and probably shorten the game by 2 minutes.  Given what an NFL team can do with 2 minutes - that's huge.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Great things that happened today - With explanation.

- I read William Hiler's list "Things that made me happy today".   

Bill Hiler is a friend and fellow Scoutmaster.  I was honored that he said "Phil has inspired me to do this."  His message was better than mine too...

 - I didn't have enough Frosted Mini Wheats for a full bowl, so I had a strawberry / banana / blueberry / etc. smoothie to go with them. 

This one is fairly self-explanatory.

Beth's meatloaf for dinner! 

We have several extra popular meals - taco night is always a hit.  Meatloaf is right at the top of the list.

 - Got some shoulder lifts, regular lifts and elliptical work done. 

Again - fairly self explanatory.  The shoulder is near fully recovered.  The bonus here was after the lifting I wound up doing 20 minutes on the elliptical.

 - Got a friend request from Beth's cousin
Keith - that still won't stop me from trying to take his money at our next family penny poker game...
- OK... Maybe we'll just split up Uncle Raymond, Uncle Bill and Aunt Ruthie's money...

Once or twice a year the relatives on Beth's father's side get together.  A group of 5-7 of us gather in the basement for a night of penny poker.  We laugh, trash talk, and just generally have a great time. 

 - Gave a speech at Toastmasters - and got outstanding feedback from
Michael J Pope Jr. - Also got to hear a great speech by the same Mr. Pope - and had a really good chat with him and Randy after the meeting.

Toastmasters is a big engine that fuels my growth.  It's speaking, reviewing my speaking, watching others communicate, giving and getting feedback.  All great things.

- Productive meeting with the church breakthrough leadership team.

We moved forward - that's what a breakthrough leadership team needs to do.

- Closed the day with a glass of my in laws' homemade blackberry wine.

I pick the blackberries, my father in law and (mostly) mother in law make the wine.  We then split up the bottles.  The 2015 harvest was the worst in our history of doing this (9 years).  We cleared a significant chuck of land, so I'm predicting the 2016 harvest will be better, and the 2017 harvest will be a record breaking one.  Blackberries have a 2 year growth cycle.

Meanwhile, I have a limited number of bottles of 2014 Blackberry wine - so it's an extra special event when I open a bottle and enjoy a glass in the evening.

Look - I'm the only one who volunteered

That doesn't give you an excuse to do a half assed job. Do it well or not at all.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016


Great ideas can't be scheduled.  They will come at any time - night or day.

The key is to have a way to collect them all.  A plugged in iPhone works:  "Hey Siri!  Remind me to..."  (Mind you - the key is to say enough that - even when you have the inevitable mistranslated word - you will still get the idea).

The idea grabbing tool that I like most of all is a four color pen and a moleskine notebook.  You can leave one on the nightstand by your bed.  You can get a small one that fits in your pocket.  Wherever I am, and whatever I'm doing (the exception to this being driving a car) - I can write down an idea in blue ink (that's the color I choose for my ideas).  Additionally I circle it in red or put a side note "PROCESS THIS IDEA" in red (that's the color I choose for my follow ups).

I once read that an idea will stay in your head for an average of 30 seconds.  Then it's gone.  Capaturing is the key.  30 seconds sounds a little long actually - capturing and collecting is the key.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Look around - you might be surprised

I planned my weekend to be unplugged.  I figured that a) it's a state park, so there will be no access, and b) it's camping - I'm not necessarily supposed to be online.

Let's address point b first.  Even when camping there are times - first thing in the morning and last thing at night - when being online is a good thing.

Now... point a.  I was SO certain there wouldn't be Wifi access that I didn't even think about it.  Not until Saturday night when I looked up and saw the wifi router in the middle of the field at the park. 

Sure enough - General Butler State Park has wifi.  (Neither my son nor I bothered to look).

Had I HAD the wifi there were moments where I could have done something quickly - update a file, order something on Amazon, who knows what?

The point is - I could have done more... had I just looked around.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Staying connected and disconnected - you can have it all

I have the commitment to publish a blog post every day for a year.

I have the commitment to unplug - especially this weekend when we will be camped out by the Ohio River at General Butler State Park in Kentucky.

The solution is easy:  Write the blog post early and schedule the publishing.

And yeah, I can see me signing on with my phone just to make sure the blog post made it...

And yeah...  I can see me posting photos from the weekend on Facebook too.  But probably not until I get home on Sunday.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

The big idea - four or fewer goals

From one week to the next I want to focus my effort on four or fewer areas. 

The areas can be a project - such as a work project; or a role - such as parent; or a combination of sorts (a boy scout project which also involves my role as scoutmaster).  It might be a particular speech I'm working on - or maybe a skill I want to improve.

In each case I have a list of tasks I could do. These tasks are brainstormed constantly.  When I get an idea I tell Siri to remind me about it.  (I may or may not actually schedule a reminder).  Handing the task off to Siri will put the task in my inbox on Outlook. 

During my weekly review I will take the task from my inbox and categorize it in any number of ways: 

Where will I do it (on the computer, at home, when I'm running errands, etc.)?
When will I do it (firm deadline, someday, or review it again on a certain month)?
What efforts is it tied to?  (project, role, program, etc.)

The last one is key for my process.

Each week I select my four focus areas.  In Outlook I filter on those areas.  That brings up every possible task I can complete to move ahead in those areas.  I then categorize ALL of those tasks with the tag ##top4 (the two #s cause it to sort to the top). 

For that week I can then consult my filtered view ##top4 tasks only when I have a small block of time.  (I have other views... I can pull up errands before I leave for the store, etc.)

The other key to this process:  When I change focus areas next week, I will remove the ##top4 tag before selecting the new ones.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Family tradition

Approximately 4-5 times per year our son Kenny (trombone) performs in a large concert as a member of the NKU Symphonic Winds. 

I enjoy the music.  Kenny is a very talented musician.  (So are the rest of the members of the symphony).  It is always  entertaining.  Since it's a learning experience for the students, there is always a variety of music  I'm guaranteed to get some music that I really like, and some other music as well.

That variety of music has led to a family tradition that I enjoy.  After the concert I ask Kenny - what was your favorite song, and what was your least favorite?  We have different reasons for choosing each.  We don't often have the same least favorite.  That's probably because least favorite is more a matter of taste.  

Our favorite, however, is generally the same song.  That's because of the high energy.  Kenny - and likely the rest of the band - enjoys the high energy songs.  The musicians put a lot of energy into the song, and it shows.  As a member of the audience, I enjoy that energy.  It's not that I don't enjoy long drawn out songs written to Walt Whitman poetry... It's just that... Oh wait, I didn't enjoy that song.

In last night's case the symphony opened with a high energy song where the trombones got to play, in Kenny's words, "as loud as we could".  The song got the audience involved and set the tone for a great concert.  It was his favorite, and mine too. 

Thursday, April 21, 2016

What's the big idea?

I like to track how many Big Ideas I have.  (Technically I call them Big Ass Ideas - I'm not sure why, other than I like the sound of it.  Not everyone likes that thought, so I abbreviate it BAI).

I track it, because what gets measured gets done.

The impact of a BAI can be huge - even if a particular idea never gets made into a new process (I also track new processes).

Since I track the ideas I also set aside time to generate the ideas (it doesn't always happen during that time, but it's a good practice).  Occasionally when I go for a run I leave the headphones in the gym bag.  I leave my mind open to ideas.  It might happen on the run, or I might just wind up listening to the birds and nature.  Neither of those is a bad thing.  Frequently it will happen after the run. The ideas that have been percolating will come out when I get back to my desk.

Occasionally the impact goes well beyond the big idea.  Today I was tired and dragging when I got out of bed.  When I got to the point in my morning routine where I reviewed the upcoming day I saw that I get to implement my new big idea - the Top 4 projects categorization tool (more on that tomorrow).  Suddenly I'm fired up and can't wait to start the day.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Table Topics Question: Does God talk through cats?

(This question came from a book title. The answer below is a better answer than I gave during the actual table topics.  It's a combination of what I said and what I wish I had said.)


Here's my cat:  I want food.  I want out.  I want back in.  I want out.  I want back in.  Out.  In.

God doesn't change his mind like that.

If God talks through an animal - it has to be a dog.  "I want you to be happy.  I love you."  Yeah, that's a dog, and it's my vision of God.  And if your dyslexic - well there you have it...

But cats?

Come on.  Cats live to torment people.

He could - no doubt about that.  If the other team can speak through a reptile... Why not?  And he did talk through a donkey once.  So it could happen.

But a cat?  Yikes.  Can you imagine if God spoke through a cat?  "We have 10 commandments.  No.  Make it 12  You want to know what they are?  Well tough.  I don't feel like telling you.  Maybe later.  Scratch my back.  Not too much tough..."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Talk about nothing

Today is my club's Toastmasters meeting.

I wasn't on the agenda. 

When I looked at the (wide open) agenda I thought "I have nothing to talk about."

Then I thought "I will talk about nothing." 

It worked for Seinfeld, why not me?

I have to remember what Darren LaCroix said:  The purpose of Toastmasters is not to give a great speech at Toastmasters.  It's to practice to be great in the real world.  Or something like that.

I've been working on a speech for a while in my head.  It's time to get it out there.

And next week will be time to get out there again.

Monday, April 18, 2016


I'm becoming more and more addicted to Evernote.  It's my go to tool for a lot of things right now.  I use it to track receipts, track ID cards, and my favorite thing of all:  The check list.

I was brainstorming on my white board this morning - and I suddenly noticed that Evernote was becoming my solution for everything.  Weekly check lists, daily reviews, monthly reviews, etc.

I thought of the hammer story... when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. 

Evernote is great, but there are some limitations.  Right now the biggest limitation is this:  I'm still learning what the tool can and cannot do.

(If you're in that spot - trying to learn a new tool - go to the Kindle book store.  In the case of Evernote I found 3 free > 4 star books on the subject.  Each one taught me something new).

In this case I decided to not force the issue, and let evolution take me where I need to be on Evernote.  As I learn more I will figure out the balance on what I can and cannot most effectively do with the tool.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

No exceptions

Zig Ziglar talks about the danger of exceptions.  Yesterday I didn’t listen.

At the scholarship competition I decided to have another half cup of coffee.  I rationalized it.

Next thing you know I’m putting butter on my roll at Mama’s Grill, and sleeping in an extra hour.  Again, I rationalized the sleeping in.

I was going to hit the Y for a workout, but I figured shoveling 1 ton of gravel and some mowing was better.

Later, when I reviewed my week I realized that exceptions were creeping in.  I could blame it on travel, I could blame it on the project work load, I could blame it on any number of things.   But blame wasn’t going to fix it.

When I stepped on the scale – 196.  This was up 4 from the low.  1 lb at a time mind you – but I crossed back over 195 – so rationalization had to stop.

The time to eliminate the exceptions is right now.  And I mean all exceptions.  6am on the alarm means 6am.  No butter means none.  Start tracking the diet all day long. And back to the Y for some serious exercise.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

How am I doing long term?

It's Saturday morning.  I could have slept in, but I didn't.

Instead I'm sitting with my cup of coffee... Listening to the birds sing...

I completed my basic morning routine:  The stretches, journal, affirmation, Bible reading, etc.

Now I'm doing my favorite Saturday morning activity:  Review the long term vision.

As part of my visioning process I look at my long term goals.  I look at the vision around the goals (example to follow), then spend time brainstorming individual activities that will move me closer to that goal.  Those activities are quickly added to my task list (in the inbox).  The next time I do a detailed weekly review (tomorrow morning) I will pick off those tasks, and give them everything they need to get done - a target date in some cases, additional context if needed, and reminders to keep me focused.

For example:  Today I did visioning around my upcoming book.  Tasks included the simple - turn on the laptop to get all files synced up - to the much more detailed - find a cover artist and set up a marketing plan.  In between there were the detailed tasks like "Final edit on the 'Why We (Browns fans) hate the Steelers".

The entire process took 15 minutes, and that included writing today's blog entry.  I didn't finish the process - I have a 7am commitment - but I left enough bread crumbs to allow me to quickly finish things tomorrow.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Great things that happened yesterday

1. Exit row with no one next to me, and no row right in front of me either. It happened on both flights
2. Breakfast at the Atlanta airport: Salmon and egg sandwich.
3. I was able to scrape the avocado off the sandwich before I ate it.
4. Two words: Airplane nap.
5. Woke up from my nap just in time to get Kenny's biscoff cookies (when I travel I'm Kenny's cookie mule).
6. 16,000 steps.
7. Got one ton of gravel down on the driveway.  One shovel full at a time - with Tommy's help.
8. Attended a really good humor webinar that had a guest star - the hilarious Dan Nainan.
9. Had a homemade smoothie.
10. Being back at home and in my own bed.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Fun on an elevator

I got on the elevator with a family. The young boy said "Dad - can I press 6?" His dad said okay. After he hit 6, I said "Hey buddy - can you press 4 for me?" He looked at his mom and dad and they nodded. "SURE!" A little while later the elevator stopped and he said "Here's 4!"

Wednesday, April 13, 2016


When you go from

"I can't believe I even packed exercise clothes on this business trip"


"I can't believe I didn't pack enough exercise clothes on this business trip"

That's progress.

Great things that happened yesterday - travel edition

1. Ran on the treadmill before breakfast.
2. Had a good egg while omelette.
3. Breakfast was comped. Even though I'm on a business trip and it would have been paid for anyway - there's just something about getting free food...
4. Great lunch catered in at the mill. Tilapia and broccoli salad.
5. And a small brownie.
6. Found a local place that had salmon for dinner. Lots of fish getting eaten this week...
7. Really productive meetings. Nothing like a project deadline to make people focus and move the meetings along.
8. More book progress.
9. Met a lot of really nice people at the Riegelwood mill.
10. Got to spend some time talking with Beth on the phone.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Observations from the airport stores

A huge amount of shelf space is being given to magazines in the airport stores, and very little to books.  I think that’s because books, especially for travelers, are going the route of Kindle.  On the other hand, magazines – especially for travelers – represent less of a commitment – read it, leave it on the plane or in the hotel.  With a magazine, you can read the article or articles you are interested in, and you’re finished.  Finally, magazines are visual – lots of pictures.  That means they take a long time to download (much more for a small magazine than a large Kindle book).

Monday, April 11, 2016

Travel helps focus

At the start of the week I like to outline the four "projects" I want to push forward for that week.  Zig Ziglar calls them goals - but since I consider everything in life a project opportunity I call them projects.

The projects that get my focus will be measured at the end of the week.  Each morning I will look at them at remind myself - this is the priority.  I will schedule time on my calendar to make sure I move forward in these areas.

The projects might be different during the week vs. on the weekend.  This week will be like that.

For this week - the projects that have my attention are:

1. My big work project.  That's why we're traveling.  This one is a given, and it will have most of my attention during the day.  As for scheduling - it has already been done for me.

2. Health and fitness.  This is a normal activity but I feel like this week it needs a re-dedication.  Travel can throw a curve ball to a healthy lifestyle if I let it.  By focusing on health and fitness I will  not only avoid slipping back, I will dramatically move forward in this area (as measured by active minutes and body fat percentage)

3. My book  By eliminating other distractions and getting my workout complete early in the day, I will have a couple of hours each night to work on the book.  Additionally there are four hours of flights available to work on it.  This is a luxury that would not be available to me in a non-travel week.

Every week is what you make it.  Travel can be a pain, or an opportunity.  I choose opportunity this week.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Using Evernote to run the day

Every day there are a list of meetings, tasks, etc. that must be done.  In addition, there are things that I schedule that will move me closer to my life's goals - writing, exercise, reading, etc.

With a full day, it's easy to lose sight of key small activities that need to be done every day to keep things moving in the right direction.  That's where Evernote comes in.

I have the following check list.  Every day I look at it in the morning, the evening, and - since Evernote syncs across all devices - on my phone if I have a minute.

As you can see - I've got most of the morning complete.  After I hit publish, one more check box will be filled in...

Read the Bible

General morning stretches
Review Dream Board
Daily scorecard

Shoulder exercises - stretch 1
Shoulder exercises - stretch 2
Shoulder exercises - stretch 3
Shoulder exercises - lifts
A 2 minute tooth brush session.
Read a book / listen to an audio program

Capture any missing morning items (scorecard, etc.)
Close out your daily scorecard and task list
Affirmations (second)
Publish your 10 great things

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Great things that happened yesterday

1. 30 minutes on the elliptical after dinner. 
2. More Zig Ziglar audio: Zig's goal setting program.
3. Got more Kroger discount cards at the Scout Center.
4. Got 3 free 12 inch subs at Subway when I cashed in some points. Only had to pay for 1 and a salad...
5. Had a tuna chopped salad from Subway for dinner.
6. Listened to Television Marquee Moon on Amazon Prime music
7. I accidentally found a new back way in to work - with help from Siri. Way faster than the old way - any traffic delays on 275 and I'm set...
8. Made nice progress on my book.
9. Watched The Rock with Beth.
10. Another great shoulder therapy session - it gets better every day.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Is it a detour or an opportunity?

I was headed to the Scout Achievement center to drop off some paperwork.  Given the time of day, it should have been a straight shot on the interstate.  When things backed up near Milford I knew there was an accident.  I took the Milford exit.  At the stoplight I told the GPS to find the Scout Achievement Center.

I turned off the highway, and went in the general direction of the center.  After a while, Siri got tired of telling me to make a U-turn, and she took over. 

The route I was following was the back way I take to work.  But at one point, she told me to go straight instead of turning.  I figured she would send me all the way to the scout center, and away from work.  Instead, she sent me to a winding road that led me right past my office. 

All these years my "back way" involved four stop lights, many of which were backed up for a few minutes.  This "new" route takes me right to the office - stop signs with right turns and one light to get in to the parking lot.  It's probably 10 minutes faster.

This might be the most time saving detour I've taken in years.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Predicting the great things

Yesterday started an experiment.  I put 5 great things I would like to do for the day on my Great Things that Happened list.  I was originally going to put 10 up - but that didn't leave me open for new great experiences along the way.

No conclusions drawn from the experiment yet.  So I will continue it today...

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Gerat Things That Happened Today

I did a Table Topics at Toastmasters (if you could play a college sport, which would it be?)
I found a free lunch coupon in my desk.
I had a portobello mushroom / spinach / Swiss cheese omelette for dinner....
Got my new hose reel from Sears assembled and all hooked up.
Got the Amazon shipment of furniture felt pads - the kitchen chairs are now silenced.
Got in a stationary bike ride at the fitness center.
While on the bike I watched some of the the Indians / Red Sox game on Direct TV.
I watched the part where the Indians scored 2 runs to tie the game, then went back to work before things went south.
I found out that I won a $50 gas card in the work NCAA pool.
Helped Tom with his math homework - he's at a level that I still remember.

More on Amazon

Our air compressor broke.  It's a shame, because I think it was old enough to donate to the Smithsonian.

Without Amazon:  I could decide to go to Sears, or Wal Mart, or Lowe's, and get a new one.  Then I'd have to shop around, find the one that looked best, and buy it.

With Amazon:  I pull up the air compressors, price compare, feature compare, and MOST importantly - look at the ratings.  I can find one that has hundreds of positive ratings, plus the features I'm looking for, plus a decent price.  Two clicks later and it's on the way - it will be here in 2 days

The ratings feature is huge.  It lowers my risk on the purchase.  From the manufacturer's point of view it creates a small barrier to entry.  There were pumps that looked nice - but they had no ratings.  I didn't want to be the first - not on something as basic as an air pump.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Why I love Amazon Prime

1.  It saves me time on getting things.  Two days shipping.  I like that.

2.  It saves me time online.  If a site wants me to spend $25 for free shipping, I will spend extra time looking for items I don't really need, or will need later, so I can get the free shipping.  There is also a money savings component to this.

3.  It saves me time shopping.  I don't have to add the item to my shopping list.  I don't have to go to the store.  I don't have to spend time trying to find the item when I'm at the store.

4.  It keeps me from running out of things.  Actually this might just be a regular Amazon feature - but my vitamins show up automatically.   Batteries for the dog's collars - same deal.

5.  I don't have to buy a Netflix membership.  Mind you - I never started with House of Cards.  The shows I like to watch while working out are available on Prime Videos - so I'm good.

6.  The music.  It's not a great selection, compared to Pandora or iTunes premium, but it's enough to use when I work out, or need background music at work.

I haven't gone all in with Amazon yet.  I don't have Alexa and I don't have Kindle Unlimited... yet...  But given how much I like Prime, it might just be a matter of time...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Managing the week ahead - getting closer to GTD

I have a new process for managing my work week.

Well, as the title infers, it isn't new.  It's getting closer to David Allen's GTD methodology.

I love GTD - let's start right there.  It has made a radical change in my productivity.

My problem with GTD was this:  There were always items that I wanted to get done this week, but maybe not on a particular day.  I didn't feel right putting them on my calendar, but I also needed to separate them from the rest of the pack.  I tried putting them on Friday, but that made things messy.

Here's my solution:

If it's something that must be done that day, it goes on my calendar.  By calendar, I mean the one that everyone sees, the one that people use to determine if I'm available for a meeting, etc.

If it's something that has to be done that week - it goes on my iPad and iPhone calendar, but not my main calendar. It shows up in a different calendar.  The iOS calendars are what I use to run my day.

Headed in to this week - my iOS calendar is pretty full.  But there are available slots on my main calendar.  If someone needs me for a call or meeting they can still find a spot.  If that spot overlaps with something I have on my iOS calendar, I will move the item to later in the day, or later in the week.

The final note - anything that gets moved to Friday gets put on the regular calendar as well.  That way it still gets done.  I actually have a couple of hours on Friday blocked off to hold the extra items.  Should those hours not get used up - that gives me two more hours to work on the @office list of key activities (from GTD methodology).

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Great things happen - be grateful

This week I shared the great things list on my blog.  I create that list on Facebook every day.

At first I wondered how long I would be able to keep doing that - finding ten great things that happened every day.  When I'm on vacation it's easy.  But what happens when it's back to work?

I think it's still easy - as long as I've trained myself to look for the great things that happen.  I do that by being grateful.  If I wake up with the attitude of gratitude I will naturally find great things about the day.

It's easy to complain about things that went wrong.  I fell in to that trap this week on the day when my Lowe's order got messed up, and my work issue (outlined prior) still wasn't resolved.  But focusing on those issues raises stress and makes for a bad day.  If I instead work on finding a solution (which we did with Lowe's - still working on the other), and then turn my attention to what's great in life - things go much better.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Why I get books from the library

Because I'm cheap?  No.  

It's because there is a time limit.  If I have the book forever, I don't have the urgency to read it.  If I have the book for a limited time I'm under the gun to read it.  

Especially with a book on MP3 - it's like I actually have that author with me, but only for a little time.  Think about it:  If you have Zig Ziglar or Brian Tracy in your car, and only for a limited time, are you going to say "Hey Zig, can you hush for a while?  I want to listen to Meaghan Trainor."

Okay, bad example.  I would rather listen to almost anything than Meaghan.  I'm not all about that bass.  But in my case, I will even skip Aerosmith to listen to Zig's advice - every time - if he's on loan.

And of course it's free.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Busy is out of control

One of the two podcasts I listen to regularly is The Tim Ferriss Show.  (The other is Ziglar).

I first heard this quote there.

This week I haven't been busy.  I've been in control.

Too often I take the challenge at work - see how many items I can check off my task list.  See how many calls I can take.  See if I can clean my desk files up before the next call.  I go and go - and at the end of the day I say "Wow!  Look at all the things I got done!"

But were they really important?  Did they move me toward a long term goal?  Or was it just a way of making the day go quickly?

The interesting thing about this week - I haven't been busy but I've gotten a lot accomplished.  And it's been a lot of important items.