Sunday, March 25, 2007

thinking bloggers

Toilet paper. That’s what I was going to blog about today. Or I should say “the absence of”, after reading a story in the New York Times about an environmentally savvy couple in Manhattan who decided our planet didn’t need it (TP, that is) … and neither did they.

They’ve been living without toilet paper—with no apparent substitute—for a whole year. The NY Times said, “Think lots of water and fresh-air drying.” I say, only if you must …

But I digress. Because the theme of this weekend’s post changed after I received this:

Congratulations, you’ve won a

Wow! Now, I don’t usually respond to memes. But since Kiyotoe (thank you, oh great dragon!) took the time to pin me with a Thinking Blogger Award, I thought I should show my appreciation and rise to the occasion by selecting my five award winners.

There are many talented bloggers out there—some who really make me laugh/and I love to laugh—but this is about those who most often make me think. So if your name is mentioned below, you too have won a Thinking Blogger Award. (Check out the rules at the end of this post if you choose to participate!)

  1. The Dragon: 050376—yes, I know he tagged me and already has an award, but since I’ve often pondered something he’s written, long after reading, I would be remiss in not mentioning him. He’s not afraid to be controversial, and his well-thought out philosophies have often fired cerebral synapses, or made me stop and about-turn on an issue. So, Kiyotoe, does that make you a double-award winner?
  2. She’s a brilliantly talented artist and more, and in Colouring Outside the Lines, Andrea often discusses her art form, the art world, and creativity-at-large. In addition, she has terrific research skills, and includes the neatest links to some really obscure sites and unusual viewpoints.
  3. Don’t go here if you’re sensitive to the youthful blush of language or sexual innuendo since it sometimes gets a little ‘fresh’, as my grandmother would say. Ant's nothing if not open and honest, and he likes to push the envelope. His tongue-in-cheek Antedisestablishmentarianism Brit wit often makes me laugh, as well as think, and his writings remind me of my 20-something nephews ... I feel I’m getting a little insight into the things they do not want Aunty Bibi to know about!
  4. She often blogs about writing, and as a teacher and musician, Becca works a lot of relevant life experience, and practical, yet thought provoking philosophies into Becca’s Byline.
  5. Sometimes she writes about simple, everyday life, but there are times when Deidre at Writing Anam Cara writes so poignantly about the painful journey following her sister’s death, that it makes you stop to appreciate—right now—the wonderful people we are lucky enough to have in our lives.

And there you have it. Five bloggers who make me think.

PS. As with anything and everything on the Internet, check details for yourself before deciding to participate! Bibi.
The Thinking Blogger Award Rules

If you were named above and choose to carry this meme forward, remember to tag only those bloggers who stimulate your cortex … or something like that.

Please make sure you pass the rules to the blogs you are tagging.

  1. If, and only if, you have been tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think.

  2. Optional: Proudly display your 'Thinking Blogger Award' with a link to the post that you wrote (here is an alternative silver version if gold doesn't fit your blog).

Sunday, March 18, 2007

redefining time

Unless you're lucky enough to live on your own private island (and believe me, I’m saving for mine!) there must be times when almost every working person feels somewhat overwhelmed by trying to keep up with daily events.

I don’t have to list the sources of our overload. Suffice to say that most of my colleagues—and I’m sure it’s the same for you—receive between 150 and 400 business emails every day.

Many of these solicit responses, which in turn, demand further attention. And that’s before you add daily or routine responsibilities, and before you’ve carved out time for special projects, meetings, business-related travel, professional development, networking. Or that thing called a life!

For 13 years I’ve been a proponent of Stephen Covey’s old catchphrase: “Why just manage your time, when you can LEAD your life?” But the work world has changed dramatically since he introduced his Quadrant II, First Things First philosophies, and just as we upgrade technology to keep pace, we must also upgrade our thinking and re-evaluate work habits.

Like most people, I frequently work according to other’s schedules. But on days or weeks when I’m driven only by deadlines, I’ve adapted a method of redefining my time using Jack Canfield’s Breakthrough Results Time System.*

Canfield breaks his week into three kinds of days: Best Results Days, Preparation Days, and Rest & Recreation Days.

Best Results Days: On these days, you’re seeking a high return on your investment of time by spending at least 80% of the day focusing directly on your primary area of expertise, or as Canfield calls it, your core genius, i.e. the one thing you do really well and enjoy doing so much that you would do for nothing. This might be writing, speaking, teaching, painting, sculpting, coaching, filming, editing, designing, negotiating, building.

Preparation Days: Consider this as prep time, crucial to making the most of your best results days. This might include planning a new product line, developing resources, training new team members, seeking out a life coach or mentor, hiring a housekeeper, learning new skills, writing copy for a seminar, or selecting images for a marketing presentation. Assuming you have available resources, delegate anything you don’t do well or don’t enjoy doing—this will free up more time to pour into best results days.

Rest & Recreation Days: Usually the first thing we give up when we’re super busy, but vitally important for renewed creativity, mental clarity, and life balance. Adopting Canfield's rules, an R & R day extends from midnight to midnight and involves NO work-related activity whatsoever! That means you are ‘unavailable’ to clients, staff, vendors, and anyone or anything else business related. I know many who will shrug and say they simply can’t do this, and I’ve been guilty of it myself, but honestly, is the world going to stop if you take one day off? (If you answered yes to that question, get over yourself!! ;-)

The key to making any system work is to remain flexible and— keeping the big picture in mind—set clear expectations and boundaries with yourself and those who work alongside you.

In a typical week, I plan two prep days and three-to-four best results days, but as with anything, this changes week to week; sometimes day to day. And since I spend so much time hunched over a keyboard for work, I have one full day a week where I absolutely refuse to even look at a PC.

How about you: Do you ever feel like stopping the world for a day or two? And if so, how do you cope? What work/life balance tips do you have to share?

*The Success Principles How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be by Jack Canfield.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

jet lag ramblings

I read years ago that when you wake in the middle of the night, keeping one eye closed ensures that you’ll go back to sleep with ease. Haven’t found it to work for myself, but nevertheless I still open only one eye. 1:50 am. Sigh … I am NOT getting up.

Seven minutes, a million thoughts, much pillow-puffing, and two impossibly fidgety legs later I throw back the duvet and jump out of bed. It’s pitch black. And silent outside, except for a heavy stream of rain rushing down the storm drain. I nudge the shower lever to maximum red and step inside, groaning in semi-masochistic pleasure as the stinging heat smoothes the cricks of a restless sleep.

I’ve been fighting this all week. After five weeks overseas, I’m stuck on Greenwich Mean Time; up by 2 am—a living, breathing zombie by 6:30 pm.

The good news is that I’ve wrapped at least eight hours work before 10 am every day. And in the peace of the early hours, the world outside my window presents an entirely different perspective.

Ideas that seemed ridiculous or tough to fulfill at two in the afternoon, seem reasonable and easily achievable at 3 am. Logic that eluded me at 8 pm, is razor sharp at 4 am. Challenges that made me want to hide my face in the pillow at 11 pm, become great opportunities at 6 am.

The bad news is that I have dark shadows under my eyes and my eyebrows are permanently raised in an attempt to pull open my eyelids. Plus, my current hours are just plain anti-social.

Four-thirty-am and I’m starving. I mean, eat the whole horse and tail, ravenous. (Although as a vegetarian I don’t recommend horse or tail.) So I pull on my ski jacket and head to the only local place open at this hour … Denny’s.

I feel bad about this, because for a couple of years after reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s Nickel and Dimed, On (Not) Getting by in America, I boycotted all franchise diners and discount stores whose employees worked for poverty-level wages.

But today I’m beyond hungry, I’m belly-growling famished, and it’s the only place open at 4.30 am. I vow to thank the waiter for covering the midnight-to-six shift and promise to tip generously.