Monday, June 15, 2009

Killing Worry

Worry is something everyone has been guilty of from time to time. Worry for the most part is a complete waste of time and energy. The only value of worry is in finding that something is out of alignment and needs to be fixed.

We've all heard the warning of how detrimental stress can be to our health. I believe a lot of people consider stress or worry to be something out of their control. I do think that some people are more susceptible to stress and worry but with some easy steps that worry can be lessened or eliminated.

Recognizing Worry

One of the biggest issues is recognizing when worry is present. People by nature go into auto-pilot and small incremental thoughts, actions and changes happen without us noticing. Ever drive to work or home and think, "wow, I'm here already, how did I get here"? Same thing happens with worry or stress, all of sudden you just don't feel very good or something is bothering you and you don't understand how you got yourself in this predicament.

Sometimes it's just really difficult to notice that stress has crept into your life. I struggle with this a lot. I'm thinking a habit needs to be forged where we examine our stress levels from time to time. I'm currently struggling with examining this myself. (Anyone have any ideas, please leave in comments.) I've tried setting reminders on my calendars, but if they occur too many times I get conditioned to them or ignore them.

Worry! What is it good for? Absolutely nothing!

Well that may not be entirely true, like I said above it can be good for recognizing that something is out of alignment and needs fixed. Once you recognize what the root problem is work on fixing it. Now stop worrying because worry is an absolute waste of time, fixes nothing and can even hamper your life, health and relationships.

Stress Tactics

  1. Exam your stress, define the root issue(s)
  2. Develop a plan of attack to fix the root issue(s)
  3. Work on root issue(s) all at once or little at a time
  4. Rinse and repeat
Before mastering these tactics the stress can sometimes seem overwhelming here are some tips to get you through.

  • Look at the big picture, ask yourself will this matter to anyone in a year, 2, 5, 100 years?
  • Still looking at the big picture, what's the worst possible outcome, defining the worst possible outcome is an easy way to see that it's really not all the bad. The unknown is much worse than the known.
  • Keep busy! Many times when stressed I'd rather just give up and be lazy or withdrawal. I know several people that don't have a lot of things to do and they're the most stressed out people I know. A problem is only a problem when you think about it, if you really commit yourself to be busy the problem is non-existent.
  • Consider past worries and issues you've had in life. How did they turn out? I'm assuming you made it through. Remember the phrase "this too shall pass".

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Don't Have Enough Time, You're Lying to Yourself.

It's a common complaint amongst people, "I don't have enough time to do x". What these people don't realize is they have plenty of time to do what they really find important or fun.

Some may say "this is preposterous, I have a family, a full time job, friends, errands, chores, and so on and so forth." I say, so what! I'm guessing if someone offered a once in a lifetime opportunity you always dreamed of you'd find time for it. You can find time because your time is based on your priorities. I'll explain how to regain your time so you can do what you want to do. Interested, read on.

Living on 24 hours a day
Time is the ultimate democracy. Unlike money everyone has the same amount of time to spend whether you are a king or a pauper you get 24 hours. But like money people don't necessarily spend their time as they should. BTW - this is the basic premise of the book, "How to Live on Twenty-Four Hours a Day" by Arnold Bennett. I highly recommend the book best part it's out of copyright and free as an audio book at Librivox and as an ebook at Project Gutenberg. (Apparently Project Gutenberg has the audio book now as well.)

All to often people get into mindset they have to do x,y and z, and end up not having the time to do the things they find important. When you choose to do one thing over another you are saying to the world that you consider it more important than the other. Everyone knows this, but we often get blinded or confused into doing things that aren't as important.

How to Prioritize Your Time

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to discover if something is really important:
  1. What's the worst thing that could happen if I don't do this. Chances are you are doing a lot of unnecessary stuff. We tend to fill up our time to stave off boredom, maybe we could better.
  2. In 50 years will this have made a difference?
  3. What are my true priorities? This may take some time to sort out, be true to yourself. Maybe print your priorities on a credit card sized piece of paper to keep with you as a reminder when a decision of time comes up.
  4. Think about the 80/20 rule, 80% of your results come from 20% of your actions. If you just did the 20% you'd be able to do the 80% very well and have a time more time and a lot less stress. Go for the biggest bang for your buck.
Following is a list of books I highly recommend to get a better grasp on what's really important to you, because really if it's unimportant why do it! Here are the books in no particular order:

Personal Examples of Time Saved

  1. Watching the News, overall waste of time unless you are wanting to get upset/fearful about something or learn the latest celebrity gossip. If the new is important enough you will know about it without ever watching the news, try it for a week or two and you'll never go back to a regular news watcher.
  2. Complaining about stuff that you can't change and the person you are complaining to can't change. It's natural for people to vent there frustrations but complaining over and over to someone that can't change the circumstances just wastes time and energy.
  3. Learning to say no. It is very important to be able to say no. If you are always doing what's important to others you'll never be able to do what's important to you.


The point of all of this is to enjoy the little time here on earth we have. You are not going to be perfect, you are going to waste time every now and then and that's OK and can be healthy. Whatever you do find out what your true priorities are be true to them.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Get House Chores Off Your Mind and Focus on What's Really Important

One thing that I noticed help me live a much easier existence is figuring out ways to not to have to think about anything unless I have to. If there is something you can automate or have a system to remember to do something in a way that you don't have to think about it you won't have to stress over these usually mundane repetitive types of thoughts.

In this article I'm going to give you an an example of one such system that I've created so I wouldn't have to think about what needs to be done around the house.

I've created a a couple of worksheets that contains the following sheets:
  1. A 2 week worksheet of things that need to be done around the house every day, once a week or every two weeks.
  2. A worksheet for Monthly, Quarterly and Seasonal type tasks that need to be done.
Download either of these formats:

Currently I'm printing out the 2 week worksheet every two weeks of course and I only need the other worksheet printed once a year. I post them on the family fridge. On the sheets we put the first initial of the person who did the task. If the tasks is on the monthly sheet I may even write the date the tasks were done or other important criteria like mileage on a vehicle.

The "Monthly, Quarterly and Seasonal" sheet is a good start but I think I might have missed some important things. If you have any suggestions that you think should be on there please let me know and I'll update them.

Side Notes
I mentioned earlier that we put the first initial of the person that did the task on our sheets. We do this for a couple of reasons:
  1. Self-gratification, I can go back and see what I've done.
  2. Accountability, a person in the household knows that everyone else can see what they are doing.
  3. There is one book I've read called The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate, I loved this book. In it it showed me that one of my primary love languages were acts of service, that is when someone does something for me I feel loved. This list is great for me and is a very reassuring to see my wife and kids doing things on this list.
Now that you don't have to think about the junk you need to do around the house you can use those extra brain cycles to think about more important stuff!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Easiest Ways to Get Rid of Your Junk

Clutter and junk can lead to a very stressful existence. Once you've decided enough is enough you need to find the easiest way to get rid of all of that stuff. I've used the following method to get rid of my families extra junk.

Steps to Rid Junk

  1. If the item is truly trash and of no use to others we will throw away or put in our recycle bin if applicable.
  2. If the value is less than $20 and we think it may be difficult to get rid of we consider giving it away by one of the following means:
    1. Ask family and friends if they have a need for such an item.
    2. Post on Freecycle
    3. Post on Craigslist
    4. Drop off at Goodwill or other thrift type shops
  3. If we think the item may be worth our time to sell we evaluate the items like this:
    1. If the item is small, easy to ship and possibly worth a decent amount of cash we'll use Ebay
      1. If the item has a great demand we may just post on Craigslist to save on any listing fees.
    2. If the item is large, we'll use Craigslist or possibly a Garage Sale to save the hassle and cost of shipping.
      1. You can post local pickup only on Ebay but a fee is something I try to avoid if at all possible
    3. If the item is a book or possibly CDs we use Amazon because they charge you nothing unless you sell your item and the listing process is super simple for books and CDs.

Pros/Cons of Disposition Methods



Super fast and easy especially with books, CDs. You don't pay anything unless you sell the item.


There is a fee. Items you can sell are limited to media type items.



Craigslist is great for selling or getting rid of bulky or hard to ship items. There is a community setup in most decently sized US cities you are most likely going to live close to one. It's Free to use! I've sold things like furniture, exercise equipment, small appliances, kids toys, etc…


Takes time to list, should post pictures if you want the best response. Have to deal with e-mailing back and forth.



Sought after items get top dollar. Easy proven method.


Cost money on the front and back end of each sale. Need to ship items.



Freecycle is not only a good place to get rid of stuff but you may find something you'd like to have there as well. Freecycle is free to join, easy to use and of course Free, I'm sure one is close by. It's strength comes as speed and locality. If I want something gone I can have it gone by the end of the day. Also, if there is stuff you'd rather not mess with like getting rid of an old playset or spare lumber from a project, people will come to your house and do all the heavy lifting for you. I've gotten rid of extra lumber from a privacy fence I built, an old picnic table and I had people pick up everything that was left from a garage sale. Things that I've picked up from Freecycle include: chest freezer, BMX bicycle, end tables, toys.


No shows, some people say they'll pick something up and never show up. My solution I put their e-mail address in my spam filter so they never get the chance to get my stuff and waste my time again.

Garage Sale


If done right as in prices, advertisements, etc… a garage sale can be profitable and fun.


Pay advertisement costs, time consuming, customers want stuff at a bargain and are usually savvy negotiators.



Quick drop off, no hassle, tax write off.


Impersonal, faux charity (they are for profit). You have to do work to take stuff to them.

Additional Thoughts

Don't hang on to your crap just because you spent good money on it. Clear your space and clear your mind. Someone might benefit from something you don't really use.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Destroying and Creating Barriers for a Better Life

Before I started this blog I talked about it a great deal for probably a year, there was always something in the way preventing me from starting it. I recognized there was a lot of paralysis by analysis going on, but I also recognized there were several barriers that were getting in my way. I thought a great deal about registering the right domain, creating the right logo, picking the domain provider and hosting service and so on and so forth. One day I had an epiphany, I was never going to get around to doing this blog because I had too many barriers in my way. What I needed to do was destroy the barriers and just move forward.

What barriers are preventing you from reaching your goals? What goals could you achieve by knowing your barriers better?
  • Starting your own business
  • Finding a significant other or friend
  • Furthering your education
  • Pursuing your dream career

First things first we need to figure out what we are fighting.

Defining Barriers

The first step to destroying barriers is recognizing them. I had read a guest post by Ramit Sethi of a couple of weeks ago on the Get Rich Slowly blog called "The Psychology of Passive Barriers: Why Your Friends Don’t Save Money, Eat Healthier, or Clean Their Garages" and it really got me thinking. In this post Ramit idetifies two types of barriers active and passive. He goes on to explain that the result of both is we don't accomplish what we'd like. Ramit defines these barriers as follows:
Active barriers are physical things like the plastic wrap on my food, or someone telling me that it’ll never work, etc. These are hard to identify, but easy to fix. I usually just make them go away.

Passive barriers are things that don’t exist, so they make your job harder. A trivial example is not having a stapler at your desk; imagine how many times a day that gets frustrating. For me, these are harder to identify and also harder to fix. I might rearrange my room to be more productive, or get myself a better pen to write with.

Destroying Barriers

Using my personal blog example I had several active barriers:
  • Domain Name
  • Hosting
  • Branding
  • Marketing
  • Fleshed out content
My passive barriers were harder to identify, here are a few I think apply:
  • Lack of previous blogging experience
  • lack of hosting experience
  • lack of a defined starting point
There are several ways to destroy each barrier, the only requirement is that you are happy with the end result and the barrier is circumvented. My main motivation was to get some momentum going on my blog and let the laws of physics keep it going. I destroyed my active barriers by just getting off my butt and using a prepackaged blogging system, picking a domain name I liked and writing some content. I destroyed my passive barriers by using the old tried and true fake it until you make it, as something came up that I didn't know I researched it figured it out and moved on.

Don't get me wrong I'd still like to get an actual domain name and host, but I decided I really just wanted to get started and see if this was for me. If you know exactly what you want to do you should deconstruct each of your barriers in to doable next action and tick them off one at time.

Creating Barriers on Purpose?

Creating barriers is really why I wanted to write this post. Why would you ever want to do that? Well do you ever do anything you know you shouldn't do? Why do you do it then? Many times the reason is it's too easy to do? Here's an example of some self dialog:

"Oh I really shouldn't have this ice cream, but you know it'll go to waste if I don't eat it."

Ok, if you know you shouldn't be having ice cream, maybe you shouldn't be buying it at the store. That ice cream is too easy to consume. On your next trip to the store, first off go with a full stomach and a shopping list and stick to it, put some fruit on your list instead. The next time you're at home even if you think "oh ice cream sounds good" you'll have the barrier of getting your fat butt in your car and driving to the store. I know I'm lazy enough that I won't do that. I'll end up telling myself, well I have these strawberries here I'll eat some of them. Maybe it won't completely hit the spot but you just tricked yourself into eating healthier and it's not going to kill you, as a matter of fact you'll probably live longer.

Here are some other barrier ideas I thought might be interesting to create:
  • Leaving pocket money in your car, the extra barrier of having to go back to your car may be enough to not buy that pop from the vending machine.
  • If you're married how about staying out of the singles bars, or having extended alone time with individuals you may find attractive. Eliminate the opportunity for screwing up your life.
  • Change routines, routines make life feel comfortable and sometimes part of our routines are unhealthy, change your routine from having a coffee and a cigerette to having a coffe, with a non-smoker.
  • Some people work too much, make plans with your family to meet somewhere at a certain time or meet up with friends after work and promise you'll be there at a certain time. All of a sudden you'll have the motivation to get your work done on schedule and leave work, have you ever noticed how that works?
These were just a few ideas, really there is no limit. Have any good examples?

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Good Habits are the Keys to Life

There are several themes that seem to repeat in my life, habits are one of these themes. It may sound basic but habits good or bad determine where we are in life and where we are going. I believe even if this is basic we should continually re-address.

Good habits make life easier, duh, why write about this?
There are several reasons that I felt compelled to write about habits. People tend to get comfortable where they are and habits become transparent. How many times has someone annoyed you by being late, breaking promises or micromanaging. All of these bad habits formed overtime probably with little though and the perpetrator may not even realize they're doing anything wrong.

Have you ever been in the middle of doing something you did hundreds of times before and notice you don't have to do a lot of the activity because things have changed over time or you just never noticed something small that made a big difference? As an example when I needed aluminum foil I'd pull out the roll so that I could pull out the desired amount put back in the box and use the cutter, then I read that on the boxes there are these little tabs on the side of the box that will let you easily spool the foil out. I've been using aluminum foil for 10 years and never noticed these tabs, they work great by the way.

Habits are one of the most powerful life changing actions that you can control. You need to stay mindful of your habits.

Creating Good Habits

Any job or life situation I've ever experienced got easier as time went on. What happens is that we automatically fall into a comfort zone of doing the same things over and over each day. This repetition is comfortable and makes our lives less stressful, but day to day routine can also become tedious, more about that later.

First let review a couple tips for creating better habits. If you are just starting in a job or life situation, here are a couple tips:
  • Observe others in the same situation and truly be open minded to their approach. "Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others." (Otto von Bismarck)
  • If you do make a mistake, learn from it and move on. We're all fools at one point or another.
  • Write step by step procedures for your tasks, this will get you to the comfort level quicker.
If you've been in a job or life situation for awhile here are a few tips for you:
  • Focus on your processes, what can be improved/eliminated
  • What is annoying, what processes can be changed
  • Take out a sheet of paper and draw a flow chart one of your processes or use a mindmap (recommend FreeMind)
  • Use your time wisely, while commuting, while in some meetings brainstorm how to improve your processes
  • Define what you are trying to achieve and work backwards
  • Write step by step procedure for each task
Smooth Sailing, what to do next

The less you have ot think about the more time you have to improve your processes. Some people seem to love the idea of how easy their jobs are and slack off, of course if you are an intimate friend you'll probably hear how hard they work and how little time they have . It's tempting to slack off, but I think we're better than that. Are you completely satisfied with your life? I don't know anyone that is 100% satisfied, there is always something more you could have or do. If you have everything you want out of life get comfortable and don't change a thing. If not get out there and kick some butt.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Need to Focus?

I've been struggling to focus lately so I created the following worksheet. It's for two weeks, I put the starting date in the upper left cell and put a check mark if I feel like I've been productive and an X if I felt like I was slacking.

I've made the time range 15 minutes chunks mostly because if it was a half-an-hour I'd tell myself I've messed up 10 minutes might as well get my 30 minutes worth.

I've noticed this really helps my focus.