What’s the best part of your day?

I love this exercise from Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans. You do stuff everyday. Some of it you choose to do. A lot of it you have to do. Each day your energy flows around your tasks, sometimes up and sometimes down.

If you want to have more up-energy, try tracking your energy flow for a week. You can either set up an activity log, or better yet, just mark up your planner. At the end of the day, look at each thing you did and check off or highlight things that raised your energy.

What’s cool about us is that we’re all different. A high-energy part of your day could be: Continue reading

Start where you are

How’s this for a premise: “If a problem isn’t actionable, it’s not a problem. It’s reality.”

Bill Burnett and Dave Evans develop this idea in their new book, Designing Your Life; How To Build a Well-lived, Joyful Life as they apply “design thinking” to making important life choices.

When you’re organized, you don’t like to waste time. And what’s a huge waste of time? Worrying – especially when you worry about stuff you can’t change. This doesn’t mean you don’t have stuff you wish you could change – a grouchy boss, a noisy neighbor, an obnoxious family member. But if you can’t change them, then they aren’t a problem – they are reality. And you can’t outsmart reality or bend it to your will. It’s still reality. Continue reading

Relaxing into a schedule

If you’ve been thinking about doing something cool, set a deadline and put together a schedule. A deadline is effective even if it’s something only you know about; when you write a due date on a calendar you’re making a written commitment to yourself to get something done.

A cool benefit of having a schedule, besides meeting deadlines and getting stuff done, is the peace that comes from deciding what you’re working on and when you’re going to do it. You may feel like a schedule limits you. I would counter that when you schedule something, you quiet your brain and the idea stops nagging at you.

“Are you going to work on me now? Now? Now?”

Continue reading

All roads lead to decluttering

When I give talks on Organizational Zen and ask attendees why they’re there, the #1 thing I hear is that they have clutter problems. Yes, nearly everyone you know has a clutter problem! Just knowing that kind of helps, doesn’t it? 🙂

But here’s the thing. In class, I save my thoughts and tips about decluttering for last. Why? It’s not that I’m being mean. It’s just that decluttering to me is a symptom of so many other things and my wish is that at the end of our time together, folks will realize that simply tidying up isn’t going to solve their problem.

What will? Figuring out how to nip clutter in the bud. Or deciding that clutter is not actually that big of a deal. And let’s start with that. Continue reading

Two tricks to stop procrastinating

I run the adult programs at our town library, and one of my favorites is a new Songwriting Workshop. The leader, Jud Caswell, has mad skills at being able to hear what someone plays and sings, then offering bits of advice that seem small but that help immensely.

Last week, Jud offered this advice to stop procrastination in its tracks:

(1) Make a shorter deadline
Jud told a great story about a friend he was coaching who just couldn’t make time to write, so Jud asked him to turn in a song by the end of the week. The guy said there was no way he could write a song in a week, so Jud said fine, then get it to me tomorrow.

“Write a song in a day? No way!”

“Fine then, write a song now. What’s knocking around in your head?”

The guy sat down and wrote his first song.

(2) Lower your standards
We all want to do wonderful, terrific work, but if your goal is to only do wonderful, terrific work you may never get started. Taking action gets you moving – and it almost doesn’t matter what direction you move in. Once you start, you get in the flow and can edit later.  Mark Twain famously wrote, “Write drunk. Edit sober.” In his case, it was probably literal, but I love the concept of writing, or painting, or learning anything new with great abandon. We’re generally our greatest critic. The thought here is to get started and trust that you’ll clean up the mess later.

Jud also mentioned a writer who was asked if he wrote on a schedule or only if he was inspired. The guy replied, “Only when I’m inspired! So it’s a good thing I’m always inspired at about 9:00 every morning.”

I sincerely hope you’re inspired to try something new this spring. Doing work that comes from your heart makes all the stuff you have to get done so much more interesting.

Cheers.

Here’s a shot from a local Pub where I meet with other writers to talk about writing show tunes. As we build our tribe, we’ll take tips anywhere we can find them 🙂

 

 

Getting things done by adding levels

“Action leads to insight more often than insight leads to action.”
Dan and Chip Heath, The Power of Moments

In The Power of Moments, the Heath brothers have some great ideas about breaking big goals into small parts – and rewarding yourself along the way. They compare this to video games where you feel accomplished each time to go up a level.

Let’s say you’ve always wanted to learn to play that guitar you’ve had hanging around for years. In a standard scenario, you know to break big goals into small parts so you make a plan to:

  • Tune up the guitar.
  • Find a great book on how to play.
  • Find some online class options.
  • Commit to practicing for a half-hour, 3x a week.
  • Block out time this week and get to work.

This plan works great for the first week or two, but then it gets a little boring and you start to skip practice time. And before you know it, the guitar is banished to its case, collecting dust at the back of the closet. Continue reading

The Olympics and DNA

We’re watching the Olympics on a pretty regular basis (at least until 10:00 PM or so). While I love seeing incredible performances, the practical side of me can’t believe the amount of physical effort that’s needed to carry out Olympic feats. And I can’t comprehend how you put that much work into something that has mostly a negative impact on your finances, where the smallest error takes you out of the running, and where you only get to compete every four years!

That being said, look at these folks! Those who succeed have incredible physical abilities built into their DNA. AND I love hearing about the incredible habits that got them this far.

Coinciding with the Olympics, I got results from my 23&Me spit test this week, supplemented with additional info from a site called Promethease. I am amazed at some of the stuff that’s hard-baked into my body. Do I have the genes of an Olympic athlete? No! But here’s a bit of what I learned: Continue reading