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

The 8-week Sprint

A friend at work recommended a blog by creative guru Jessica Abel. I checked out her site and read through a long, long, long post about why I should pay her to help guide me through an 8-week sprint to get a creative project done. I read – and read, and read – and thought, “I don’t need a coach. I just need to do the work.”

Here’s the plan I came up with for my 8-week sprint. 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

“Never take chaos personally”

If you’re a planner, like me, you like linear patterns. If you do A, B happens. If you get a good education, you’ll get a good job. If you eat good food and exercise, you’ll be healthy. If you do work you’re called to, you’ll be successful. Life is logical and fair.

Except when it isn’t.

The Universe actually prefers chaos to straight lines. How many straight lines do you see in nature?! You tidy up; things get messy. Sidewalks crack. People age. The most natural thing on earth is that things we build up break down. 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 🙂

 

 

The huge impact of cutting back on the time you eat

A fundamental step to getting organized is to take care of your precious self. If you’ve gained weight, aren’t exercising, or aren’t sleeping well,  your #1 task is to take care of yourself before you attempt anything else. You have one body for this lifetime, and the sooner you feel better, the better off you’ll be as you age.

Think of your health as a foundation rock. If you get that right, you can build all sorts of things on top of it.

One of the trickiest things many of us deal with is gaining weight as we age. Stats tell us that two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. And as the years tick by, the pounds seem to come out of nowhere. Right? And once they’re on your body, they feel impossible to lose, and they affect everything – from blood sugar, to blood pressure, to good knees. Continue reading

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