Archive for April, 2012

The Benefits of Being Prepared

April 24, 2012

I read an interesting comment from a friend and colleague, Geralin Thomas, last week. She said (and I’m paraphrasing) ‘I’m the person you want to sit next to on an airplane. I always carry extra magazines, snacks, a nail file and …’ She is prepared to wait. There is a huge benefit in this. Geralin won’t be bored and neither will the person sitting next to her.  When I leave my house for the day I always bring extra bottles of water in a small cooler – just in case. Generally I also have a stash of snacks in that cooler in case I don’t have time to stop for lunch. I also have garbage bags – clear, white, and black – for easy identification. Sometimes I need to see, at a glance, which bag holds recycling, which one is for shredding, and which is for donations. The milk crate in the trunk of my car holds the collection of garbage bags and paper towels, wet wipes and an assortment of other items I use for work. I have extra blank files and a labeler in my tote bag in case I need to sort papers and organize files.  Often, when I go out at night I take a sweater – even in the summer! Some people, and I am one, get really chilled in cold restaurants or movie theatres. So, rather than complain, I bring a sweater. I find many benefits to being prepared. Before I leave my house I think through my day trying to anticipate the sorts of things I will need for my work and my personal use. I have a basic check list to ensure I don’t forget any usual items. This helps me feel really in control and organized when I leave the house. So, how do you prepare yourself for the day ahead? Do you make a list of activities and then gather the items you need to bring along? Do you prepare the night before or do you rush around in the early morning?

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Multiple Interests

April 17, 2012

Do you have multiple interests? I do. I love to garden and now is prime gardening season for me. More on that later. I also love to do fine needlepoint. I have a needlepoint project that I am close to completing and can already see it in its completed form – a pillow! Baking is another interest or hobby I have. My husband loves to have cakes and cookies in the house. His metabolism is so fast that he needs to eat these yummy creations in order to maintain his slim weight – lucky guy!

Then there is my business. This business I run is more than an interest it is a passion and a responsibility. As such it is a priority for me. So how do I keep track of the projects I want to implement or changes I want to make in my business as well as my other hobbies and interests? Another way to ask this question is: how do I make time for my other interests and stay on top of the projects I have going on for my business? I should also say that another interest I have or another place I devote my time is to my home and my family. I bet you have many things that demand your attention also!

So, what to do? Life is a bit of a juggling act. I have written before that I don’t believe in a perfect balance between work life and personal life. Let’s take this one step further and imagine that all my interests (business, family and friends included) are spheres which I can juggle. Dan Thurman (the closing keynote speaker at the NAPO Conference in Baltimore) pointed out that when juggling you have to let go of one thing in order to catch another. He also said that you should never try to do it all at once. Instead, do one thing at a time and do it really well.

Back to my interests and hobbies, how do I apply this advice? I schedule my time carefully. For me it is imperative that I truly focus my attention on the task at hand. This way if I only have a small amount of time to give to that task I will be mindfully present and do my very best. Also, I do not try to do it all every day. There’s no way I can give time to every interest I have or every project I’m interested in every day.  I pick and chose what I do according to the time I have available and the importance of the task. When I’m not working on a particular project it is on the back burner. I know where I left off and will be ready to pick it back up when I next assign some time to that project.

Sometimes I only have a little bit of time to spend on a project but a little bit is better than if I did nothing at all. Just a few minutes ago, after I had my lunch, I went out into my garden for about 15 minutes. It is a gorgeous sunny day and I had a bag to contain any clipping I did or weeds I pulled so that I would not have to go back and pick up after myself. I also had my clippers. I did a little weeding and clipped some beautiful roses which I put in water when I came back inside. All together I spent about 30 minutes – a terrific (green clear my head to get back into work mode) break.

My advice is to identify the ways in which you spend your time. Figure out your priorities. Plan your time so that you are only focusing on one interest at a time and doing it well. As Dan Thurman indicated in his speech nobody starts out juggling 5, 6, or 7 items. You start with one or two and build up to more. So, if you are juggling so many interests that you feel like your head is spinning perhaps you need to scale it back a little. Then, as you are more comfortable add one interest at a time.