*Note – Apple products are just plain amazing. If you are considering writing your own book, I recommend Pages (see above icon).
I have decided to write a book about how our society has created it’s own issues, stress, corporate life, and more. Tonight I worked on the Intro and first chapter.
Below is a small excerpt. If you look closely you can see a small confession.
Stress is quite the silent killer. I’ve never handled stress well. You might be thinking that my years in martial arts would have provided some training on relaxation, focus, etc. Undoubtably they did. But stress is something I was born to suffer from.
Interestingly, I did not consider myself stressed out. Perhaps a little burnt out, as I was involved in so many things that free time had become a premium. I can’t tell you why I was doing so much. Looking back, maybe it was fear of missing out on something. Maybe, just maybe, it’s actually a bad thing to be so driven. And that was a realization that I had come to.
What have your written?
I don’t profess to be some great author. But I find the process therapeutic. Feel free to share if you have ever started, and stopped, writing your own book. I’d love to hear about your experiences.
I am so out of here! Seriously, I’ve had enough. This has been coming for some time. And that time is now!
So, I am wondering. Do you work more at not working, than you do actually working? Most people, if they would be honest with themselves, don’t truly “work” the entire time they are at work. But you don’t have to take my word for it. Even Forbes Magazine agrees.
My productivity research project results
In my last post I mentioned that I had decided to do a productivity research project with myself as the subject. My intentions were to do the research over five full working days.
It only took one day to learn what I had suspected. I waste too much time on unproductive things. I understand your shock. Here is how I know.
The proof is in the minutes
On Tuesday of this past week I decided to track where I spent my time. For the most part I monitored this by tracking my activities during fifteen minute intervals. For tasks that were already scheduled for longer, I left them at that scheduled interval. I began my tracking at 7am and stopped at 5pm.
Before you say it, I know my handwriting sucks. But the results are telling. The above picture is the first page worth of results running up until 1:30pm. Here are a few things I learned.
- I like to ease my way into my day, but once rolling I tend to accomplish a lot – while it took me a few minutes of “settling in” and catching up on the news, once I got busy I was relatively productive for the next few hours.
- I am much more productive in the morning hours – because of this I will schedule the more important tasks of the day for the morning if at all possible.
- Most tasks that I had to do took between 15-30 minutes to complete – I also noticed that I was fully engaged for that period. During longer interval tasks I lost focus.
- Boy do I waste time – of the ten hours tracked, I only considered myself productive (the green) for about 5 hours. Half the time tracked. Part of it was me losing focus and the other part was trying to get restarted once I either switched tasks or got off track.
- I am fairly productive, but not profitable – I also took a look at what activities I did during the day that I considered “profitable” for my company. Of the ten hours tracked, roughly 3 were profitable. Not good.
I’d encourage you to try this for yourself. Frankly, many of you don’t want to know how unproductive you are being. The thing is, I am not suggesting that you do this exercise so that you can fit more junk into your day. I am suggesting that you do this exercise so that you can fit more profitable time into your day. However you define profitable.
Want to create a jump in your life? Remember this. You can only get your life under control to the extent that you are willing to eliminate low producing activities. And you say you are just too busy…
I’d love to read some feedback on what you find. If you decide to try this, please come back and share.
Every college graduate knows to include time management as a skill when they are being interviewed for a job. There are countless books on the subject. Each professing to have the best process for controlling the clock.
But I have yet to read a time management book that suggests this – be lazy.
The best productivity hack
We have been taught since childhood that laziness is a bad trait. If abused it is. The problem is that as adults we are terrible at finding a balance. In an effort to avoid being seen as lazy, many adults refuse to sit still. They run from one to-do to another, in a whirlwind of busyness.
If your body is pushed to the limit it will force you to sit still for a while. I learned this the hard way. It was a tough, but good lesson. Since going through my illness I have eliminated quite a few activities from my schedule. Some were hard to let go of. But it was necessary to insure I stay healthy. But what I have already found is that most were unnecessary activities that took up my time and energy, with little in return.
Some research states that as much as ninety-nine percent of all illness is due to stress. In the hustle and bustle of life our bodies become immune compromised and open to illness. Allowing yourself to be lazy occasionally can actually improve your productivity and keep you from getting sick.
When is the last time you allowed yourself to be sit still for a while, without flipping through Facebook? Take a jump and find the time for yourself. Allow yourself to be lazy. Even if just for a hour. Just make sure it doesn’t turn into a month.
By the way, this week I am participating in my own experiment on productivity. Next week I will share the results, so check back in.
P.S. Here is a great article about stress and it’s impact on illness.
We all have things we are passionate about in our personal lives. Unfortunately, those things become hard to define or forgotten all together in the rush of life.
More of the most, less of the least
During my recent issues I had a lot of time to reflect on this exact thing. But I struggled with defining what I was personally passionate about. It’s easy to fall back on the standard answers – family, friends, etc. But what are you selfishly passionate about?
One great way I have found to discover, or rediscover, the things I am passionate about is to track them. Each day I take the time, usually at the end of that day, to sit down and write out my “most” and “least”. These are the thing during the day that I enjoyed doing the most, and the thing I enjoyed the least. Each month, to allow for enough “data”, I go back and review my responses for things that appear the most often. I then make adjustments by simply doing more of the most, and less of the least.
Do you know the things you are selfishly passionate about? What are they. If not, I recommend giving this a try.
Don’t just leap…jump.
There are times in life that you have to act. Standing on the sidelines, watching the events unfold, will do nothing for you or the ones you care for. Trust your instincts, and jump.
Jump into action
When my daughter was a few years old I saved her life. It was nothing unusual. Children, especially young children, choke on food all the time. The difference? I was ready to act. In less time than it took for her to release a struggled cough I had covered the distance between us, flipped her over, and knocked a piece of food loose from her throat.
Years later, I was able to react quick enough to dislodge a peanut from a co-workers throat, seconds short of her passing out.
Today, I was able to assist a loved one as they struggled through their own emergency. It was only extraordinary in that everyone else there was not reacting at all. But, isn’t that the difference? That people react when others freeze?
What type of jump will you make?
Would you jump for a loved one? Could you jump for a loved one? How prepared are you to jump? The measure of a person is not how they act when things are good. It’s how they act when things aren’t good.
Would you leap….or jump?
Whether you love your day job like I do or not, a plan B is a great way to change your personal finances.
As humans we are preconditioned to expect, and desire, great things. We jump from one adrenline induced rush to the next, constantly looking to top the last experience. And when the experience is not a home run, we are let down by our expectations. But what is wrong with a few singles?
Celebrate your small victories
I am constantly reminded by my daughter of the beauty in being a child. They see everything as fresh, new, thrilling experiences. Look at the picture above, and the excitement of her first time playing frisbee golf. For most adults that distance would be almost a “gimme”. But for her it was a monumental jump!
Children know how to live in the moment. No doubt they look forward to future events, like birthdays or Christmas. But of all things, children know that life is in the here and now. They innately understand that tomorrow is just that, it’s tomorrow.
As adults, we seem to have forgotten how to live in the moment. How to “seize the day”. We push today away, with the expectation that tomorrow will be different. Well, it just might be. Or it might not exist at all.
So how do I change?
Here are a couple of things that help me stay in the moment and recognize small achievements:
- record them with pictures/video
- reward yourself with a treat (I recently bought myself a new computer that I had put off buying for 10 years, all because I had won a small victory recently)
- make a list of “to-do” items and how/when you plan to accomplish them (this should help remove some of the stress)
- reflect back to a negative time, remember how that felt, and what you learned
- keep a written record of all the small victories you have had (you will be surprised how many there are that you have taken for granted)
One Life to Love
Below is a link to one of my favorite songs. I think it makes my point for me. Please take a listen, and share. Don’t just leap…jump!
Even now, almost two weeks down the road, I can still feel the pressure. It’s nothing like it was, but it’s enough to remind me of all I have been through.
A jump delayed
A week ago today, at 4am in the morning, I was awake re-working this blog. I had hit a point where I wanted to get my life under control, stop stressing myself out with senseless things, and start enjoying the moment. Strangely enough, God was about to use that same day to give me a stronger wake up call.
The smack down
Almost two weeks ago I woke up with pain in my left ear. By the following Saturday morning, after two visits to my primary care physician I was no better. In fact I was worse, so I visited a walk-in clinic. I walked away with my third round of different antibiotics, a stronger pain killer, and a new potential diagnosis (Staph).
By 8pm that night I was due my next dose of medications. Ahead of that, I decided to take a shower. Shortly into a nice warm rinse off I began to feel faint. Within minutes I had passed out twice and both arms were rigid with both hands in a claw shape.
As I waited for the ambulance to arrive all I could think about was my wife and daughter. Barely coherent, I made my wife repeat to me where all of our financial information was (life insurance, will, who our financial advisor was, etc.). Here is my first piece of advice – make sure everyone knows where this information is. We don’t like to think about our loved ones dying, but it’s a mistake to not be prepared.
At the ER I went through an array of blood work, scans, and tests. At this point my pain levels had hit an 8 on a 10 point scale. The final test, to rule out meningitis, was a lumbar puncture. This is just like when a delivering mother gets an epidural, except flood is taken out. It took two different attempts to get what was needed. All tests returning negative I was released back home since the doctor had “ruled out all majors concerns”, even though I explained that my symptoms had not been relieved.
All of Sunday was uneventful. However, Monday things turned south as I began getting nauseous and eventfully vomited. My father was called and we returned to the ER. Since this was my second visit, the doctor decided to admit me to the hospital for more testing. I spent the following Monday through Friday there.
In the end it was determined that my ear ache was actually a rare form of Shingles. It was such a bad case that the virus had created a finger nail size ulcer on the outer part of my ear and had eroded my ear canal. The pain was so intense due to two sources creating the headaches. First, the Shingles in my ear was attacking the nerves on the entire left side of my face and throat. Second, the lumbar puncture wound had not healed and I was leaking spinal fluid. This was corrected when a blood patch was done. I pray you never need one. Blood is drawn from your arm, at the same time that your spine is punctured again and the arm blood is injected over the spot of the original puncture to create a seal.
Each day since this Friday I have improved slightly. The exciting part is that I am finally eating normal food (I was living off crackers and lost 11lbs.). Today I did almost pass out again leaving the shower, but my pain is considerably less.
I know it’s cliche
My second piece of advice – stop waiting to enjoy your life, and the people you care about. Unfortunately, it often takes events like mine to put things into perspective. I am convinced that I could have easily have died. Remember, “someday” is a word that will take your dreams to the grave. Make today the day you show others you love them. Make “someday” today.