An ode to pen and paper

Get back to basics!

Okay, maybe this is less an ode and more of a confession.

In my quest to become more productive, I’d delved into lots of systems in the last year: daily/weekly checklists, online time tracking tools, phone apps, list software, calendar reminder tools, blah blah blah. I even resorted to asking my sister to check in with me on IM several times throughout the day to see if I was sticking to task.

What did I learn from this experiment?

Keep it simple, stupid!

I finally reverted to three cheap, handy and invaluable items we all have in our arsenal. Pen and paper. And calendar. (Let’s just ignore how crazy my calendar is right now but I suspect many of you have something similar.) Of course I use an online database to keep track of important data, but I finally decided to throw all the time trackers out of the window. Time management is really about priorities and not goofing off. All of those fancy systems won’t help you if you’re a procrastinator.

How do you stay organized? I’d love to know what methods help keep you on track.

P.S. Do tools become obselete after you’ve learned what you need to know from them? Ie. I’ve had my fitbit for about 8 weeks now, so I have have a general idea of what physical activity it takes to hit my 10K steps per day. Did I just waste $100 on a fancy wristband?

Accountability partners = momentum regained!

Where are you pointing your finger?

Where are you pointing your finger?

How do you hold yourself accountable?

That question is deliberately vague.

Since I started this original blog post in November of 2013, I think it’s pretty clear that I allowed lots of categories of life to get away from me: blogging, work, finances, fitness, motivation and achieving monthly goals.

The brilliant thing about wanting to hold yourself accountable is that it’s really easy to enforce if you find some partners. I have several fitness partners who motivate me online (mainly because I see photos of them getting in shape without me!) and for that I’m thankful.

But now I also have a group of coworkers – doing the same thing I do, day in and day out – who are going to be watching what I do and motivating me along the way.

Energy and momentum regained! Can’t wait to check in with an update about how we’re helping each other. Got any tips or tricks on how to communicate with your accountability partners?

It’s Groundhog Day! (No it isn’t. But it is, kind of.)

It's that time again!

It’s that time again!

Are you a procrastinator or do you conquer your to-do list every single day?

I’m a reforming procrastinator so some days it takes monumental effort to cross all the tasks off my list. When I start making excuses about not completing a specific task, I know it’s time to revisit my goals and reacquaint myself with the big picture again. I finally decided to approach my workdays as Groundhog Days until I get my systems running smoothly; one of these days they will all flow perfectly. But for now, when the excuses start happening, I just get out of my headspace for a few minutes.

Why am I putting this off? How do I switch up my priorities? How can I change the way I feel about getting this task done? Because really, don’t we already know what’s required to get our daily tasks done?

How do we stop making excuses?

Simple. By just not making excuses anymore.

But:
1) I’m busy!
2) I’m tired.
3) I don’t feel like it.
4) I’m in a bad mood.
5) I don’t have time for this right now.

Well, hummmph. When there is something you really want to do like watch your favorite show, read a novel, get your nails done, buy computer equipment, whatever your thing is, don’t you make time for it?

If that thing were all of a sudden really, really, really expensive, wouldn’t you find the time and the money to do it if you really, really, really wanted to?

Of course you would.

So reexamine what’s tripping you up and kick those excuses to the curb. It’s not easy but if you work on it a little bit every day, you’ll eventually reach your Groundhog Day. That’s my goal!

How close are you to quitting your job?

Yeaaaaaaaah.

Yeaaaaaaaah.

A friend of mine recently quit her part-time “day job.” After 8 years, the network marketing company she’d been working with finally gave her the financial freedom she’d always been looking for. We met for lunch last week and she mentioned that some people were expressing shock at her (now) relaxed work schedule, which allows her time to grab lunch with friends, see family more often, and get a pedicure whenever she wants. Among other things, of course.

This article about the culture of quitting got me thinking about this very subject a few days ago.

Isn’t that what we’re all striving for in one way or another? Saying (or in some cases, shouting) “I QUIT” and moving onto something better? Working really hard for many, many years and then relaxing into a less-feverish work schedule or retiring early altogether? Did I mention that my friend is only 36? Why aren’t more of us doing something we enjoy?

Last summer I started working for a healthcare network marketing company. Lots of factors went into this decision to take myself out of the corporate rat race (if I was actually “in” it to begin with!) Having a child ironed out my priorities. I had already achieved some important sought-after goals made earlier in life and now I was just looking for a path to follow that would offer a secure, financial future for us while allowing me to spend time with my bebe while he was young. I wanted to work with a company that I believed in and could get behind. I have trouble with authority so I didn’t want to be ordered around. I wanted to telecommute. So, I pretty much landed my dream “job” except it’s not really a job – it’s a home business. Did I set out to own a franchise? Heck no. But when the opportunity arose, I knew I couldn’t pass it up.

Being self-employed isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. Most of us are raised to pursue a dream or passion, and without that we likely wouldn’t have the workforce of doctors, lawyers, artists and makers that we do today. But what about the rest of us? There are other options out there to generate an income without stepping foot in an office. You just have to think outside of the box.

That line of thinking might get you retiring at an earlier age. And who doesn’t need a more relaxed way of life? We could all use that!

Have you ever been scammed?

Beware of duck.

Beware of duck.

Have you ever donated money and felt almost immediate unease? This happened to me a few times in the past: most notably the smooth-talking college guy who came to my door years ago requesting money for magazines to help him take an educational trip. My check got promptly cashed, no magazines appeared and I had zero luck tracking him down although the local university reported several people in the same position.

These days I know better. I trust my instincts and if something feels fishy, chances are it probably is. Is this request for money coming from a legitimate organization? What do you get in return? How do you confirm the company is legitimate? Do you call their phone number, search online, look for reviews, ask around, do some research? How do you know what you’re seeing is the real deal (and not a slick version of my smooth-talking college scammer?)

Once in a while I’ll get a phone call or email from a person who thinks the company I work for is a scam. I ask myself, why do they think this? The company has been around for 22 years, is well-known in the healthcare field and has more than 50,000 employees (I could go on!) It echoes my experience working for Yelp a few years ago. Yelp is widely known these days since the company has been around 10 years, but many small businesses – especially those who were on the receiving end of negative user reviews – felt they were being scammed. Why? Many companies simply didn’t understand how the website worked and solicited reviews, paid reviewers or tried to game the system. Blerg. No wonder there were bad feelings!

How did you get scammed and what did you do? Inquiring minds want to know!

Are there hidden benefits to telecommuting? (Yes!)

Should I wear pants today?

Should I wear pants today?

This morning everyone accidentally slept in and I had to run some errands after dropping bebe at daycare, so my work day didn’t officially begin until about 10 a.m. As I was making scrambled eggs and brewing a cup of coffee, it suddenly occurred to me how grateful I am for such flexibility in my work life. How many employers are going to let you off the hook if you regularly waltz into the office at 10 a.m.? Not many that I know of!

After filing my taxes a few months ago, I realized just how much I can write off being a home business owner. (And you can too! Check out www.tracktofreedom.com or www.mommy-jobs.com for more details.) And I only work part time!

Here’s my list.

  1. I spend less on gas and clothing
  2. I eat healthier and have more opportunities to get outside and exercise
  3. I spend more time with my son than if I were commuting to an office job with strict 9-to-5 hours (plus, he’s only in daycare part time so I’m saving money, too.)
  4. I can work on something passive if I’m sick and I can work during non-traditional hours (like, 3 a.m. if I need to!)
  5. I’m paid for my results, not the passage of time so I’m more invested in my success and financial future
  6. I can take time off when I need to for family emergencies or appointments and not have to feel guilty
  7. Great tax benefits (I can write off a TON of work expenses; I learned I can even write off my monthly overhead!)
  8. I’m not stuck in “meetings” all the time

I do realize telecommuting is not everyone’s cup of tea. I’m used to being independent so this job really suits me, plus I’m not much of a delegator so I enjoy doing most things on my own. Of course, I do miss the old office get-togethers and holiday parties, but for me the benefits far outweigh the costs.

Do you think you could work PT or FT from home? Why or why not? For all you telecommuters, is there anything missing from my list? #dotell!

The problem = the solution

IN

The files are in the computer?

The company I work for offers a tremendous amount of personal development training, so for the past year I’ve been dabbling: reading the oft-recommended Tony Robbins tomes (amongst many other authors), creating routines and striving for consistency. Once in a while I hear something that knocks my socks off, and I was fortunate enough to have two lightning bolts strike in the past week.

The topic was trusting your instincts and intuition, which has really been on my mind a lot lately anyway.

Do you have something that trips you up time and time again?

It’s usually a problem that comes from the gut and it just doesn’t go away. This issue is different for every single person. Again and again, this topic or problem or challenge or issue will rear its head and maybe it fades away for a time, but it always emerges again.

How do you solve it? How do you make this go away?

Would you be shocked to hear the problem is the solution. The opportunity is disguised as a headache and I suppose it really comes down to that trite saying “turn that frown upside down.” (Trust me, I kind of want to kick myself for saying that.) I sat down and made a list of those nagging issues that pop up for me time and time again. Specifically with work, there are many times I find it challenging to pick up the phone. Why? Why is this of-most-importance thing so difficult? My 17-month-old picks up anything resembling a phone (calculators, remote controls, anything shaped like a rectangle) and walks around having conversations with himself. How could this be so hard for me to do?

I realized all of my answers were excuses and if I looked at the situation from a different angle, there was my solution. Part of this exercise was also to write down 10 accomplishments, big or small, and look for patterns. Again, I discovered consistent patterns of behavior and it was a real eye-opener.

So the next time you have that recurring dream, issue or problem pop up, take a few minutes and look it in the eye. You might just be able to solve your own conundrum by looking at it from a new angle.