Monthly Archives: December 2011

There’s an inherent design flaw in Starbucks coffee cups. They drip. They drip from that spot where the lid meets the seam of the cup, and it makes me a special kinda crazy! The only drip I want my coffee to do is in the pot. Not on me!

As a person on the move I have to have things that can pick up and go with me. Things that can keep-up with my daily hustle; I expect my coffee to be one of them. But with the aforementioned structural snafu, my coffee certainly does not keep-up! The fact that my Venti-Soy-Misto with 3/4 coffee and 2 raw sugars drips in a way that can only be likened to a kind of medieval water torture has me worked into a high frenzy. But never the quitter I’ve worked diligently to remedy this dilemma.

Ladies and gentleman, may I introduce the “BIB”; a strategically placed napkin folded specifically to keep the best part of waking up from becoming your own private purgatory!

Allow me to explain –

Upon receiving your favorite caffeinated coffee treat remove the lid and proceed to doctor your beverage diligently. While adding the finishing touches to what can now be referred to as your morning coffee remove the sleeve from your cup and set it aside. Take a napkin and fold it a quarter of the way down, creasing it to ensure the fold remains in place. The next part takes a little finesse but if it ensures you a morning commute drip free and potentially a lower dry cleaning bill then all I can say to you is practice makes perfect. With your napkin now folded wrap it against the side of your cup so that it’s flush with the top of the cup and the seam runs up the middle of the folded napkin. Grasp the cup and the aligned folded napkin from above with one hand and work to slip the sleeve on with the other hand. Ensuring the napkin is snug between the cup and the sleeve and gently settle it into place. Voila! The bib is set secure and ready to face the day with you, drip free! And that’s my special kinda crazy folks.

Post authored by Josh Schulteis

We have all heard this saying from time to time: “You can’t see the forest for the trees” OR “You can’t see the trees for the forest.” So this means either don’t forget the big picture OR don’t forget the little things. No matter which way it is said to me – I don’t really like hearing it. 

Just as it is hard to switch between very different tasks without giving your brain a break and a moment to refocus – so is it very difficult to switch your perspective from extremely broad to extremely detailed. So I’m not going to try and do it that way anymore. 

My habit is to focus on the trees, the minutiae, the building blocks, and to remember the forest and the big picture, seemingly by magic or divine intervention, just in time. I recognize this is a direct symptom of being extraordinarily detail oriented and a perfectionist (like none of you I’m sure) and also recognize there are better ways. After all, missing the big picture is not such a great thing.

So here is what I’m doing. I am seeing big projects as through the lens of a camera. Keeping everything in view, with the things that are close and in the forefront in sharp focus, while keeping the bigger stuff in the background in a soft focus. This way I can see both forest and trees and am in a productive but mindful middle ground with awareness of my immediate tasks and of the larger goals.

For example:

Forest (soft focus) = write a book

Trees (sharp focus) = write chapters

I could not possibly write a book if I focused on each chapter as if it were it’s own book, but would get nowhere if I sat down and saw “write a book” on my to do list. Forest, trees, repeat.

Post authored by Brooke Stone

Rules are meant to be broken is the favorite token phrase of rebels, entrepreneurs, innovators, teenagers and failure to launch adults everywhere. There is some merit to this of course. Break the rules, magically discover a new way of doing things, of seeing the world – open your eyes, explore the possibilities – rage against the machine, power to the proletariat…I get it. But I have found it to be irrefutably true in my own life and in the lives of my clients that basic rules and structure allow for more productive creativity than anarchy does any day of the week.

I thrive on structure, a good plan and a decent skim latte – I know not everyone thinks they do – but you might be surprised (latte optional). Try putting a few rules in place in your life and following them for just a week or two – see what happens. Here are three that make my life more creative, productive and happy.

Rule #1: Me first.

It sounds awful right? The fact of the matter is if I don’t take care of myself I can’t take care of anyone else. Exhausted, yoga deprived and poorly nourished I am cranky, quick to snap and incapable of accessing my reserves of information and intelligence – and so are you. The truth is you are the only one who knows what you need – and ultimately the only one able to provide those things for yourself. Take the time for you and you will have more time and energy for everyone else.

Rule #2: Computer off at 10PM, no matter what.

I often find myself driven to endless after dinner sessions with my trusty MacBook Air. And I do mean endless. Creativity may strike and I feel compelled to ride it out. Paperwork must be completed and I might as well do it now, right? Wrong. Sososososo wrong. When I give in to these endless sessions of worship at the altar of Apple I spend the next day reviewing my work and noticing mistakes, realizing my adrenaline infused creativity has actually been totally off topic and is simply an endless ramble. When I follow this rule I am able to arrive back at my darling 2.3 pound beauty feeling refreshed and alert and therefore able to catch mistakes and steer my creative energy in a mindful direction (and forgo my 4PM latte). This rule is especially good when seen in light of Rule #1.

Rule #3: Schedule the time you spend with you. 

As a small business owner I wear so very many headbands (I hate hats so…). Much of my daily schedule is determined by other people’s schedules because I can be flexible. The schedule of the days I spend in the office however, is only determined by me. If I see blank on the calendar – blank happens. If I see instead: 12-1PM, Payroll, 1-2PM Write blog entries, 2-3PM Client follow up, 3-3:30PM Coffee break, 3:30-4PM Pay bills – I do that. Now which plan seems more productive to you? Schedule the time you spend with you too, no one else will (again, pesky Rule #1).

Post authored by Brooke Stone.

What day is it today, Wednesday or Thursday?  Did I pay the credit card bill this month?  Why is my refrigerator empty, didn’t I go grocery shopping yesterday?  As busy individuals our days are not necessarily defined by regular office hours. Do you ever feel that time is an endless stream of trying to do too much all the time with no plan and little differentiation between a Monday and a Saturday? I do. The solution to this confusion: Ritual Days.

Creating and sticking to a system of Ritual Days is an easy way of imposing order to the chaos of naturally unstructured time. Do this for weekly, monthly or even daily repetitive activities.

To create weekly Ritual Days, the first step is to assign an action or task to each day. Say Monday is grocery shopping day, Tuesday is the day you update finances and pay bills, Wednesday is all about 30 minutes of cleaning house, Thursday is the day you file all your papers, Friday you update next week’s calendar with all of your kid’s activities, and so on and so forth. Once your days are ritualized, if you haven’t done one of these important items, you know exactly which one you’ve missed and don’t have to waste time trying to remember what you did and didn’t do. This is NOT about being perfect or hyper scheduling every minute of your life. This IS about having a system that allows you to easily take stock of what you need to do weekly, account for things which have been neglected and notice which tasks fall through the cracks.

Use Ritual Days for tasks that need to be done monthly as well. For example, every 5th of the month I take stock of toiletry items and then shop for what I need. I never stress about running out of shampoo or toilet paper because I have one day a month set aside to remove the weekly and sometimes daily stress of running out of necessities. 

Turn Ritual Days into Ritual Hours in your daily routine. If you must spend one hour working on your book, archiving emails or planning for the next day, pick one hour, say from 4-5PM, and do that task during that hour every day!

I REPEAT – Ritual Days are not about being perfect. I’ve used Ritual Days for over a year and I don’t think I’ve ever had a “perfect” week, but I can say that my productivity has increased and my brain mess and stress have decreased greatly. I know I’ve missed updating my finances because I didn’t get to it on Tuesday, so I either wait until next Tuesday (depending on the task) or I find another day to accomplish what I’ve missed.

It is vital to take a look at the things in your home and work life that continually slip through the cracks and become emergency stresses. When you first start using this system put reminders into your calendar, post-its on your fridge – whatever works to remind you which day is which. Soon enough, you’ll find you won’t need the reminders as often because the behavior will have become a habit. Bonus: you will always know what day of the week it is.

Post authored by Erin Jerozal

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