Lifestyle Category

Watch Your Mouth

January 18th, 2011 by Ric in Lifestyle

Communicating with others is a very important skill, not just in business, in our day to day lives too. We communicate in different ways: through writing, our body language, facial expressions, and of course, talking and conversing with others. This last topic, conversation, is what we’ll be tackling today.

Peter Murphy has a post called 5 Conversation Tips for Dealing with Awkward People up on Healthy Wealthy n Wise, and he raises a few bad conversational that habits many of us develop. We all do these things from time to time, and we also encounter people with these habits often – that’s why it’s good to know how to deal with them

1. Talking on and on

“Also known as a blabbermouth,” according to Peter, “these people tend to monopolize the conversation.” They won’t stop talking, and in some cases, may not even realize that nobody is listening.

Peter explains that some people tend to talk non-stop when they get nervous. He suggests trying to “make them feel at ease by showing interest in them and asking questions.” Maybe when they calm down a bit, they can stop talking and let others participate in the conversation.

2. All about me

“The goal for them,” Peter explains, “is to get the attention on them and allow them to speak.” They try to do this by injecting a personal opinion in the conversation, or empathizing with the person speaking. This is fine in small doses, but some take it too far, really trying to make the whole conversation all about them.

The key here is to play the role of a moderator in the discussion by paying them attention and allowing to “feel like they are a valued member of the conversation.” You may only need to do this once or twice, but if “they try to turn the conversation about them,” you may have to play it a bit tougher to keep the conversation on topic, or allow others to speak too.

3. Lectures

Peter describes this person better than I can: “This person always has an answer for any situation. They are most often known as a know it all. They seem to know everything on every topic. They also have a way of making their way the only way to do anything.”

The problem, as Peter says, is that the lecturer usually means well. This makes it more difficult to deal with them than with the other awkward conversationalists.

His advice: “listen and thank them for their advice, then change the subject.” If they persist, draw a line, telling them you want to do things your way, and that you’ve already heard their piece.

4. Not contributing

They stand there beside you, listening in on the conversation and rarely saying anything. “They may interject occasionally,” Peter says, “but usually with just a brief sentence or one word answer.” I personally don’t feel awkward around them, but some people do.

The silent types are usually shy, and need to be actively drawn into the conversation. Ask them questions, and ask them to expound on their answers. Just be careful though – sometimes, the silent type is just a blabbermouth waiting to happen.

5. Gossip

Peter makes it clear: “everyone has told a juicy piece of gossip at one point or another.” The problem is that gossip rarely amounts to any good, and is often full of lies, or at least errors.

Low self-esteem and a desire to “fit in” are common motivations for gossip. Gossips usually see their own lives as boring, and as such would rather talk about others. The trick is to ask them questions about their life. Find about their interests, or introduce other topics you can talk about.

Like I said at the beginning, we all do these things from time to time. Personally, I’m probably a bit of a wallflower myself, but anybody who knows me already knows that. I keep working on that though, and that’s one of the keys to becoming a better communicator, or better anything for that matter – work on your weaknesses.

What habits do you find yourself caught in often, and what do you do to try and improve that? Tell is in the comments.

Until our next conversation,

Ric


Image by: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Do You Want What You Have?

January 4th, 2011 by Ric in Lifestyle

“Success is getting what you want. Happiness is wanting what you get.”

This quote has been repeated many times by many people, and it still rings true whoever says it. Happiness comes, not from something outside of us, but from within. Happiness isn’t the result of success. In fact, it’s the other way around – happiness leads to success.

So many people have written about happiness that I would be hard-pressed to come up with  original ideas about being happy. Whatever I say, somebody else most likely has already said before. The quote above, for example, has been attributed to H. Jackson Brown, Dale Carnegie, and Ingrid Bergman, among others. I really don’t know who said it first, and it really doesn’t matter – it still rings true regardless of who said it.

I won’t be sharing anything truly unique and original, but I can, however, share some of my favorite ideas on happiness as shared by some contributors to Healthy Wealthy n Wise.

Just Be Happy

“True happiness is not derived from favorable circumstances only,” shares Sanjay Joshi in his article Discover True Happiness Within You.  “It is all about maintaining the same degree of joy even in the face of most adverse conditions.”

Continuing this line of thought, Melody Larson’s 1st stone in her article 7 Stepping Stones to a Life of Joy is this: “Be happy for no reason. There’s nothing you need to become, nothing that needs to happen, in order for you to be happy.”

Both Sanjay and Melody highlight the fact that happiness is a choice you make. You don’t need a reason to be happy. Instead, you choose to be happy, whether or not things are going your way.

Stop Judging

“When we judge ourselves, our circumstances, or other people,” explains Lenora Boyle, “it leaves no opening to settle into and accept ‘what is’.” Sometimes, what may initially seem like the worst thing in the world could turn into the biggest blessing. Your failure could be the springboard to future success – but only if you let it.

When things don’t go your way, you still gain from the experience. Bobbi DePorter explains it well in her article 8 KEY CATALYSTS – Failure Leads to Success: “Whenever you fail or succeed, the universe has just handed you a piece of wisdom. Don’t let it go to waste. Mine it for all it’s worth.”

Keith Varnum explains further by saying “Be Specific, but Not Limiting” in his article Prosperity Can Be Easy and Fun! “Focus on the essence, the spirit, of what you want – not on the exact outer appearance you think it has to take. Center on the specific experience and qualities you want to create – not the form or box it has to be delivered in.” Accept that life doesn’t always give you exactly what you want, yet still gives you everything.

Be selfish

Melody Larson put it best: “You have to put your own needs and desires above everyone and everything precisely in order to serve everyone and everything.” In her 4th stone: Relish being selfish, she explains that “Selfishness in the highest sense of the word is about being yourself so fully that you can share yourself fully with others.”

Our blog title also highlights this, though maybe a bit more subtly. We want to give more to others, but in order to do that, two other things must come first. We have to make more and live more. If we don’t do that, we won’t have much to give to others.

Don’t hold back

Yes, being happy is a choice. This doesn’t mean that you choose to be happy and not feel anything else though – that’s a sure-fire way to drive yourself insane. Instead, Keith Varnum suggests that you “feel the pain as well as the joy. Shake with fear. Let the anger rise up and roar!”

“Feel Extravagantly” is how he puts it. “Feel. Feel the agony – and the ecstasy. Until you feel you’ll surely explode!” Many people go about their daily lives insulating themselves from negative emotions and thinking that this allows them to be happy. What happens to them instead is that they end up not feeling anything.

What ideas can you share to help others live happy and fulfilling lives? I’m sure there are a million other tips out there that I’ve missed out on, and I’ve probably skipped at least a couple of your favorites. What are they? Share with us in the comments.

Stay happy,

Ric


Image by: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Attracting the Good Life

December 28th, 2010 by Ric in Lifestyle

Liz and I are huge proponents of the Law of Attraction. We believe that you are the catalyst that drives everything in your life and. Therefore, you can accomplish anything that you want to accomplish – that is the power of the Law of Attraction. Because of this law, you receive an abundance of whatever you focus on.

For me and Liz, this means that we try as much as we can to focus on what we are thankful for and what we want in our lives. We want to make more, we want to live more, and we want to give more. We focus on the things we want to attract into our lives, and because of this, we attract those things.

Matthew Ferry explains the Law of Attraction in his Healthy Wealthy n Wise article Life Coaching – Law of Attraction Explained by saying that “you attract into your life whatever you give your energy, focus and attention to, whether you want it or not.” If you focus on what you don’t have, what you hate about your situation, and basically, the negative aspects of your life, that is what you attract. If, instead, you focus on your goals and dreams, you bring yourself closer to achieving them.

Of course, the results aren’t always instantaneous. Thinking about being rich doesn’t cause riches to land on your lap the next day. The Law of Attraction, Matthew explains, “is hard to see because it usually happens over long periods of time and is very subtle… But eventually you are living exactly what you had thought about, in one way or another.”

Because we don’t always see immediate results, many of us struggle with the Law of Attraction. Many of us find ourselves stumbling along the way, and even doubting the truth or power of the Law of Attraction. Luckily, Barbara Kelly has written an article, Beyond Affirmations – 10 Tips for Using the Law of Attraction, up on Healthy Wealthy n Wise.

  1. Take 10 minutes every day to meditate. Barbara explains that you don’t have to take meditation too seriously. “There is no need to take a class, use a particular breathing method or sit on a hard pillow. You can meditate in a recliner, on the floor, standing up or even in the bathtub!” The idea is to get in touch with yourself and find time to focus only on you, your thoughts, and your feelings.
  2. Write 3 pages every morning. Barbara gives only three rules for this: “keep writing,” “no editing,” and “no judgment.” I don’t exactly do this everyday, but I like doing this every so often because it gives me insights into my own mind. Try writing three pages without thinking, and ideas that are swimming in the back of your head somehow find their way to the surface. What pops up may surprise you.
  3. Exercise your inner guidance system. Barbara suggests you ask yourself the following questions everyday, and write your answers down: “What are my special gifts? How do I bring more love, wealth, abundance into my life? Where do I feel most peaceful? What brings me joy? What is it that I truly desire?” You may not know what you want right now, but this should help you figure that out.
  4. Turn down the volume of your inner critic. “Your inner critic is not your friend!” Barbara explains. She suggests that you “invite this voice into your consciousness.” and learn to identify this voice. When you can identify it, then you can play around with it – make it talk louder or in a whisper, or make it sound really silly. It’s hard to take somebody that sounds like Donald Duck seriously, isn’t it?
  5. Learn while you sleep. Your mind doesn’t stop working, even when you go to sleep. Sometimes, your dreams present solutions to problems you experience in your waking hours.
  6. Take out the trash. Barbara puts it really well: “by clearing your space, you say to the universe, ‘I’m ready for beauty, joy, and abundance.’” Take the clutter out of your room, house, or office, and out of your life. Letting go of things makes more room for more blessings and abundance.
  7. Keep a gratitude list. This goes back to focusing on what you want to attract into your life. By writing down the things that you are grateful for, you can remind yourself of the good things you have when you start getting stressed or feeling bad.
  8. Look where you are going! “Faith is leaving the past behind and trusting in the future,” Barbara explains. “By focusing on the past, you miss your present and your future.” It’s a bit like driving a car. You have your mirrors to keep you aware of obstacles and dangers that are behind you, but you should only glance at them every so often and keep your eyes focused on the road ahead.
  9. Give. Sharing what you have with others, “results in better physical and mental health.” Donate to a charity, contribute time to a worthy cause, share some words of encouragement to somebody struggling, or even just smile at the person beside you.
  10. Once you have stated your desire for abundance, a loving relationship, or more wealth, release it and get on with your life. “Sitting on your couch waiting for something to happen will not bring the results you want.” You have to trust that the universe is working in your favor. Instead of waiting for results, it’s best that you go out and work to achieve your goals.

These are just a few tips from two experts on the Law of Attraction, but there is so much more we have to share with you. One of the things we’d like to share is this Free Video on the Law of Attraction. We invite you to watch it so you can learn more about how to put the principles of the Law of Attraction to work for you.

May you attract the good life in the coming New Year!

Ric


Image by: Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



All You Need is Love

December 21st, 2010 by Liz in Lifestyle

Love. A four-letter word that speaks volumes. As I think about it now, I realize how love has become to mean so many things to me at this stage of my life. I daresay I have experienced all kinds of love, in all its permutations .

I felt love or was made aware of that feeling, as a small girl who felt it towards her parents, grandparents, and siblings.

And of course, I knew a different kind of love when I met Ric . It would take a whole novel for me to describe that kind of love. But let me just say, that it’s the kind of love that would let me take that risk of being with somebody for the rest of my life. Marriage is indeed like jumping off a cliff, without knowing if there will be a safety net to catch us both. But with love, we both conquered that fear, and here we are, more than 18 years after falling down that cliff, hand in hand .

And then there’s the love for my children. It’s the kind that you have to experience yourself to understand what it’s like. From the time I found out I was pregnant, up until this minute as I watch my sons grow up and form their own individualities, my love for my children continues to flourish.

I’m so proud to have in me all these positive and empowering kinds of love.

The power of love, is a curious thing

Love can be so powerful. It is such strong emotion that all of us should know how to tap its power for our greater good.

This is the topic of Roseanna Leaton’s article on Healthy Wealthy n Wise entitled The Healing Power of Love and Good Relationships

If love can ruin kingdoms, seal victories, forge friendships, then imagine what it can do for a person like you .

In her article, Roseanna cites the numerous studies which have proven the positive benefits of love to a community.

One such study is of a community of Italian-Americans in a town called Roseto in Pennsylvania. The incidence of heart disease in the area was low, resulting in longer life expectancy. As we all know, Italian-Americans have a very close knit family. This cohesive family structure was seen as the reason for the good health of this community.

Consider too those countries which are the happiest in the list of Happy Planet Index 2009 which measures the happiness and general satisfaction of people. Costa Rica, Jamaica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala are not exactly rich countries, but they are the happiest . And it is of no coincidence that these people have a deeply-rooted tradition of kinship and familial social structure.

Roseanna further emphasizes that the kind of love you need is one that exists in a good relationship.

Now love CAN take on many forms – and not all of them are empowering. A woman who “stands by her man” in an abusive relationship is not the kind of love we’re encouraging here. Nor are we talking about the kind of love where a person subverts their own desires and beliefs to fit into a mold that loved ones approve of.

Love in healthy, meaningful relationships, where there is respect, kindness, trust, generosity, and understanding is the most powerful kind .

Love from the mouth of babes

While all this talk about love can be too logical and scientific, it’s also good to view love through the purest minds of children .

These are some of my favorite love quotes from children which I got from internet and all the other emails that I’ve received:

“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.”

“Love is that first feeling you feel before all the bad stuff gets in the way.”

“Love is when Mummy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.”

“If falling in love is anything like learning how to spell, I don’t want to do it. It takes too long.”

“I’m not rushing into being in love. I’m finding fourth grade hard enough.”

“Don’t say you love somebody and then change your mind … Love isn’t like picking what movie you want to watch.”

“When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.”

“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.”

Love in its pure form, with all that tenderness and honesty, does make you smile and appreciate the simplicity of this emotion.

Love is a gift that keeps on giving

“To the world you may be just one person, but to one person you may be the world.”

Finding love is giving love. Among the human emotions, love is very selfless. When you feel it, you don’t think of yourself, but of others. You are able to sacrifice your own needs and wants just to be able to give to your loved one his own needs and wants.

As a matter of fact, this emotion is so powerful that you are often able to stretch beyond your own perceived limitations to do things for your loved ones. Your own limits and “issues” can take a backseat .

And whether you find this love in a family, from your partner, your friends or a spiritual group is not important. What’s important is that you are in a stable structure that welcomes and cares for the REAL you with all sincerity.

Look within your family or group right now. Are you experiencing the kind of love that has the power to create a better you and a greater good for all?

If yes, PERFECT – enjoy your blessing.

If no, get cleat on the kind of love you wish to have and offer it back to the world. It will return to you magnified .

Happy loving and Merry Christmas!
Liz


Images by: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Finding Thanksgiving

December 13th, 2010 by Ric in Lifestyle

With Thanksgiving a few weeks ago, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the meaning of the origins of the holiday, and what it means to us.

The first Thanksgiving celebration was literally that – a celebration giving thanks to God for helping the Pilgrims survive their first brutal winter in a new land. Today, Thanksgiving evokes images of several different things: turkeys (and other food), vacations, family, football games (and other sports too), and, if you count the week after Thanksgiving, shopping. With all these different images, it’s easy to forget what the holiday is all about, and I think it would be a good thing for us to explore that again.

Thanksgiving, you see, isn’t just a holiday in November (or another time of year, if you’re from other parts of the world). Thanksgiving is something we can do everyday – we can count our blessings and be grateful for what we have no matter what time of year it is.

John Carpenter Dealey gives one great reason to be thankful in his Healthy Wealthy n Wise article entitled Gratitude, a Gift that Keeps On Giving! In his article, he says that people who “describe themselves as feeling grateful, either to others or to a higher power, tend to have less stress, less depression, more vitality, more joy and feel more successful.”

The next time the economy, people, the weather, or anything else gets you down, Dealey suggests that you “grab a pen and write down some things you are grateful for. You will be amazed at how much this simple act of acknowledging the good around you can lift your spirits!” I totally agree – simply thinking of things I’m thankful for already lifts my spirits.

Gratitude goes beyond being thankful for what you know you have. It also means being able to receive new blessings gracefully, whatever form they may take. Judith Severn and Jim Sniechowski put it well in their article Gratitude Becomes You, also on Healthy Wealth n Wise. They say that “without gratitude, you can never feel spiritually full. You can never accept and trust that life is joyous and rewarding.”

Judith and Jim urge you to “make it a practice to see the opportunity in the crisis, the blessing in the disappointment, and the joy when it goes just like you want it to.” The saying goes that “when one door closes, another door opens” – this is exactly what Judith and Jim are telling you. New blessings are all around you – sometimes you just have to look a bit harder to recognize them.

Mike Robbins says it another way in another Healthy Wealthy n Wise article, this one called Discovering Everyday Gratitude: How to Live a Life Filled With Appreciation & Enjoyment. “There are great things happening in your life and around you all the time,” he explains. “You interact with amazing people each and every day. And, this is only “true” if you choose to recognize it, acknowledge it, and live it through your thoughts, words, and actions.” There is so much good happening around us and to us, and it’s up to us to acknowledge and recognize this good.

Mike goes on to share his “Top 5 Principles to Living a Life Filled With Appreciation and Enjoyment:”

1. Be Grateful
2. Choose Positive Thoughts and Feelings
3. Use Positive Words
4. Acknowledge Others
5. Appreciate Yourself

He explains each of these principles in his post, but before you read his explanations, I wonder, what do these principles mean to you? Give us your take in the comments.

Always thankful,
Ric


Image by: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Is Your Pain a Burden, or a Gift?

November 6th, 2010 by Liz in Lifestyle, Sharing Success

Much has been said about pain being powerful – how it can heal us and turn us into better human beings.  Or how pain can “purify” our souls and help us emerge as someone reborn.  Notwithstanding the agony of it all, we can choose to channel our pain into something positive – turn it into creative energy or a life-changing moment. 

No one goes through life without pain, may it be physical or emotional.  It’s how one sees it that makes the difference.  It’s a deliberate choice and a conscious decision.  Is my pain a burden, or a gift?

Sean Stephenson chose to see his pain as a gift.  Born with a disorder called osteogenesis imperfecta, a severely painful condition that made his bones so brittle even simple cough can cause his ribs to break.  His bone structure was so fragile that he would only reach up to three feet tall, would not be able to walk, and live his life on a wheelchair.  Sean endured 200 bone fractures and his daily life was filled with pain and suffering.  Now 30-years old, this little man is truly a giant of inspiration.  His story, and how he chose to live his life, humbles me whenever I look back at moments when I chose to curl up and indulge in self-pity.  Sean teaches us how not to make excuses for life’s woes and instead get off our “BUTs” and triumph through life “STANDING” up. <g>

In the February cover article of Healthy, Wealthy n’ Wise, Janet Attwood is given the privilege to listen to how Sean Stephenson took a stand early on in his pain ridden existence.  Sean Stephenson – Three-Foot Giant of Inspiration shares with us how he came to see his pain as a gift instead of a burden, and how he realized that this was his personal mission in life.

I found Sean’s words truly thought-provoking and inspiring.  His example prompted me to reassess my own views on hardships and suffering.  Next on my “to-read” list is his book Get Off Your “But”:  How to End Self-Sabotage & Stand Up for Yourself .   For Sean, most of us keep ourselves from living a full life because we sabotage ourselves.  Sean’s book lists 6 lessons that can help us change all this. 

 No magic fairy dust

Sean is realistic in saying that he didn’t pop out of his mother’s womb with an automatic positive attitude.  He had to go through the different emotional levels of anger, self-pity and depression.

 Just like many of us, the problems we bear bring us through a variety of emotions that when remain unchecked, can turn us into angry, bitter, negative people.  Our life should be “in spite of” and “despite of”.  Problems will always be there, it’s a matter of choosing an outlook that will help us get through.  Sean woke up each day making a conscious choice, “Today am I going to commit to a life of happiness, or am I going to commit to a life of struggle”?

 Life does not pepper us with magic fairy dust so we can live “happily ever after”.  People’s problems and struggles are presented in different situations and different levels.  It’s the conscious decision to commit to a life of happiness, in spite of it all, that will make our burdens and pain so much more bearable. <g>

 A choice between a burden or a gift

For Sean, the turning point in his life was on Halloween when he was in 4th grade.  Looking forward to going out in costume and for one day, “being just like everyone else, he broke his femur on his way out through the door and suffered excruciating pain.  His mom tried her best to console him but his anger shone through his eyes.  It was then that his asked the question, “Is this, -’this’ being my condition, going to be a gift or a burden in your life?” 

It was during this time it all became clear to Sean – he loved his life even with all that pain, he was happy to be alive.  He chose to see his pain as a gift.

What is your life’s mission?

…And decided to make teaching the rest of the human race how to love their life amidst their pain his life’s mission.

Many of us go through life not having any idea what on earth we’re here for.  <g>  I found mine when Ric and I agreed to see what else is out there, and share everything we know and will still learn on how to make the world a better place for all of us. <g>

I take my roles seriously and those are as a wife, a mother, an entrepreneur and a teacher.  I give my all when it comes to fulfilling these roles, and I find that life has been very interesting and satisfying.  I keep it simple.  I know life’s purpose; I know the reasons why I’m here.

Do you?

Get Off Your “But”  

Sean’s book talks about 6 life lessons that he wants to impart to the rest of the world.  First of all, he tells us to choose our environment, to surround ourselves with people and activity that can only be good for us.  It is during our most trying and difficult times that we turn to our friends and neighbors and also the time that we are at our most vulnerable.  The prudent choice then would be positive and supportive people.

This is one reminder that I constantly give to my sons Chandler & Stefan.  I tell them to choose their friends well – the kind who will influence them to do good and become better individuals.  I encourage them to devote their free time in activity that will enhance both their physical and mental well-beings.  Environment is key to a positive attitude, and when the going gets tough, it is the same environment we’re in that will carry us through.

Be your own best friend

Another lesson that Sean shared in his talk with Janet is to be kind to yourself.  Sean says that who we are is two-fold – what we say on the outside and what we say on the inside.  “The world can think you’re so positive, loving, and dedicated because of what you keep saying and doing on the outside.  If on the inside you’re beating yourself up, tearing yourself down, saying you’re not enough, and you go to bed with your head on the pillow with your worst enemy talking in your ear, that’s not right. That’s not healthy, good, or acceptable.”

Whether we are aware of it or not, our harshest critic can be our own selves.  We tend to give ourselves impossibly high standards and we’re the first one to be secretly disappointed when these standards are unmet.  No matter if the rest of the world thought we did a good job or have praised us in our efforts.  Our competitive natures seek to improve ourselves further and higher.

Yes, we can be our own worst enemy, but we can also be our own best friend.  Don’t be too hard on yourself – love yourself, believe in YOU.

Sean’s book talks of 4 more life lessons that can help us stop sabotaging ourselves and our self-esteem.  Take it from a person whom the medical community said would not live for long, who suffered agonizing pain every day, and yet, sees everything in his life as a gift.  You can download the full audio version of Janet’s interview with Sean Stephenson here. <g>

Get off your butt, people, no more excuses! <g>

Make your everyday a gift of life!
Liz


Image by: Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Block Your Time

October 30th, 2010 by Ric in Lifestyle

There are 24 hours in a day. For most people, 6 to 8 hours are for sleep, another 2 go to meals, and just under an hour goes to showering, brushing teeth, and bathroom breaks. This leaves between 15 and 13 hours for work, playing with the kids, doing chores, and other things. Some might look at this and say they don’t have enough time. I say otherwise. This is a lot of time as long as you use it wisely. 

Denise Landers has an article up on Healthy Wealthy n Wise about Time Management Training. She talks about a couple of young children playing with bricks that came in small, medium, and large sizes. She explains that at first, “there was no understanding of larger pieces providing a stronger foundation for the smaller pieces and so things would come tumbling down without using all of the bricks.” Soon, they learned that “if they started with the biggest size, they were more likely to be able to use all of the bricks.” 

Like the structures they built, our daily schedules are also made of different sizes of blocks – and choosing the right blocks first determines how well our schedules are constructed. 

Large Blocks – Your Day’s Foundation 

Denise recommends starting with “an uninterrupted block of time when you can focus on difficult, involved projects.” When she says uninterrupted, she means it – unless you’re really expecting a specific call or email, put your phone on silent and switch of your email alerts. 

Do this for around an hour and a half each day, and you’ll be surprised how much you accomplish. If you can’t find that much time, you can get a significant amount of work done in an hour, or even 45 minutes of uninterrupted time. 

Medium Blocks (Grouping Blocks) – Multi-Tasking Isn’t Always The Best Option 

Returning non-urgent calls, going through email, reviewing notes, and other tasks can be assigned their own blocks. These blocks can vary in size (or length), but the key is to stick to them. If you still have unread messages after your half-hour email block, don’t worry – you’ve got another email session later in the day. 

The second part of this header is about multi-tasking, which according to Denise, as well as other experts, slows you down. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “spreading yourself too thinly,” you’ll know that trying to do too many things leaves you with less time, energy, and  

brain power to deal with each of your tasks. Don’t agree? Try this online game called Multitask (yes, I sometimes play games too), and see how well you do. 

Small Blocks – The New Items and Lower Priority Tasks To Be Handled

The small blocks are there, as the header suggests, for new items and lower priority tasks. You can probably find some gaps between larger blocks, and these small blocks will probably fit right in. Denise includes “requests for help from a colleague, quick answers to questions, filling out forms, and other project components” among these small blocks. 

I think it’s also important to think of the even smaller blocks that she doesn’t mention. These are very important, and they can also fill out your day quite nicely. I’m talking about little breaks you take during the day to stretch, take a deep breath, call home to speak with your kids, and simply remind yourself that the day isn’t all about work. Since they’re pretty small, you can sprinkle them throughout the day without being forced to move other blocks. 

Another one of our contributors, Danielle Kubus, has 10 Time Management Tips For Small Businesses up on Small Business CEO Magazine. Let’s start with number one: 

1. Recognize you can’t do it all

It doesn’t matter if how many hours there are in your day – the fact is that you can only do so much in any given amount of time. Some things will just have to wait, or be left to others. 

2. Figure out your time-wasters

If we lose track of them, some of our tasks somehow eat up most of our time. For me, it’s handling all my emails. Whatever it is, you might be surprised how much time you spend on it once you start keeping track. This then leads us to the next point… 

3. Set time limits for all tasks

This is quite similar to Denise’s tips on blocks of time. It’s important to block off time for your important tasks, and put a leash on your time-wasters 

4. Develop routines and stick to them

Setting routines simplifies things and gets our minds and bodies used to certain tasks. This leads to better productivity. 

5. Learn to Delegate

This goes back to the first point – you can’t do it all. Figure out which tasks you absolutely have to do and work on those. Other people can take care of the rest. 

6. Take advantage of “down-time”

You need to stay sane, right? Take a break every so often and look over your schedule. Do you need to move things around? Your down-time is the perfect time to re-plan your day if you have to. It’s also the best time to stretch, breath, call your kids. Wait, I said that already earlier, right? 

7. Stay Organized

Danielle recommends that you “take time at the end of each day to organize your desk, inbox and emails. By doing so when you come in the morning, your desk will be clean. You will know what tasks need to be completed first and what emails to respond to.” I don’t think I could have phrased it better 

8. Use the 80/20 Rule

“80% of your success comes from 20% of your efforts,” so goes the rule. If you can figure out what that 20% is, you can focus your time and effort on that, and as Denise suggests, assign some big blocks for that. 

9. Keep your “to-do” list short

Danielle recommends having “no more that eight items on your list.” Again, we go back to #1: there are only so many hours in the day. Making the most of your day doesn’t mean cramming everything you can into it. Figure out what’s important, and when you get that done, you’ll know you made the most out of your day. 

10. Have you hired a Virtual Assistant?

You can’t do it all, and you have to delegate – and this is why Danielle recommends hiring a Virtual Assistant. Liz and I wholeheartedly agree. We outsource everything possible which is why we actually went to the Philippines – directly to the source for amazing outsourcers. . If you want to know more about how to do it yourself, go to http://www.OnlineOutsourcers.com . You should consider hiring one too. 

All of us get 24 hours each day – some just know how to fill that time better. Figure that out, and you’ll see that 24 hours is plenty. 

Until next time,
Ric


Image by: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Working at Home Should be Stress-Free

October 23rd, 2010 by Liz in Lifestyle

“Look at a day when you are supremely satisfied at the end. It’s not a day when you lounge around doing nothing. It’s when you’ve had everything to do and you’ve done it.” -Margaret Thatcher

One of the things my husband Ric & I love about what we do is that we get to spend a lot of good, quality time with the family.  We get to work at home, or wherever our traveler’s feet to take us.  Our boys Chandler and Stefan appreciate it too, that mom and dad are just a holler away anytime they need us.   Of course, all these we’re able to do with the aid of technology, and the support of some very reliable people whom we can’t live without. <g>

My favorite days are when I’m working from home.  It gives me that balanced sense of control and freedom.  The sense of control comes from knowing that I’m still very much on top of everything, and I am as productive as much as I want to be.  The sense of freedom, I get from being able to readily kick back and take a break whenever I feel the urge to take one.  The pressure I put on myself is only as much as I allow it.  <g>

There are days, though, that working at home is not as blissful as I would like it to be.  Stress triggers can come from a lot of directions –the constant hustle and bustle of high volume online activity, coupled with frequent interruptions of goings-on in other parts of the house, can be overwhelming!

TJ Philpott, internet entrepreneur and author from North Carolina, gives a list of practical tips on how to reduce stress when working online, in the February 2010 issue of Small Business CEO online magazine.  I found TJ’s seven suggestions to be very useful and applicable for people like me whose work is done 80% online.  In all its simplicity, I very much agree and find good sense in it, to help keep my days stress-free, and maintain that work-life balance I need.

There’s a time for everything and TJ’s advice basically tells me to break down my day into three simple categories:

Time to be productive!

I find that it’s during mid-morning that I am most productive.  Just after a leisurely breakfast with Ric and the boys, and right before I have to get up to make lunch for everyone.  It’s during this time that I tackle the more difficult tasks for the day.  Four hours of uninterrupted time is enough to sink my teeth into the challenges of being a small business entrepreneur.  The hours between lunch and supper is devoted to simpler tasks that are administrative in nature.  All these happen in my very own workspace – customized with both efficiency and comfort in mind.   <g>

Time to de-stress!

Whenever I feel the need to get away from it all, I take a good thirty minutes for a walk around the neighborhood.  Depending where we are, it’s always a joy to explore the outdoors, breathe in the fresh air, and delight in the simple beauty of what God and man has created.

On some days, I make it a point to get alone time with a trip to the spa or the salon.  There’s nothing like a little pampering of yourself that will give you that renewed energy to once again, get down and dirty for work! <g>

Time for real people!

Sometimes, being cooped up for hours in that workspace of mine makes me forget about the real world.  Although the wonders of the internet allow me to still connect with the outside – keep up with whatever is happening miles from home, or catch up with people in my online community, I find myself craving for real interaction with real people.  Of course, Ric and the boys are there, but I make it a point too to sit down and have coffee with my circle friends once in a while.  Meeting up with them to talk about everything and anything under the sun is a wonderful way to relax and unwind.  Nothing compares to good conversation with good friends.  It’s a chance to give and receive advice to people I have a lot of things in common with – on family life and parenting, on work and being an entrepreneur.  Dates with my friends always give me fresh insights, new ideas and renewed vigor to continue doing the things that I love! <g>

Working at home, doing everything online, indeed has both its pros and cons.  This is the kind of life that I chose and I am definitely going to make it work for me, with more of the pros on my side.  Work has its challenges, but it’s how we handle them, that make’s doing it much easier and stress-free.  <g>

TJ’s tips indeed make a lot of sense.  Make your own work-at-home situation a pleasant experience, follow some of TJ’s good advice and aim for that work-life balance that everyone should have!

Time for my break now, till next blog! <g>

Enjoy your day,
Liz


Image by: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Rise, Shine and Get Moving!

October 14th, 2010 by Ric in Lifestyle, Sharing Success

 

Working from home is great. After I get out of bed and into my morning routine – stretch, wash up, eat breakfast, and whatever else I have to do to get my day started – my trip to “the office” involves just a few steps. A few weeks ago, the balcony of our rented seaside villa was my office. Today, a corner of our living room serves that purpose. Liz is also on her laptop just a few feet away, and the boys are pushing each other’s buttons in the next room. 

Of course, working from home has its perils too. The kitchen is right there, inviting me to grab a snack. Worse is my bed, which refuses to let me up in the morning and keeps me wrapped in its sheets. My whole house, it seems, is conspiring to keep me from doing anything productive. 

Fortunately, I’ve found ways to resist its charms and keep myself focused. I have my own ways of motivating myself, but I couldn’t help but smile when I read Denis Waitley’s article How to Stay Motivated on Small Business CEO Magazine. We share a number of similar ideas (it almost feels like he took the ideas right out of my head), and I’d like to share them with you. 

Focus on the positive
Denis suggests that you tell yourself, “I’m on the right road. I’m doing OK. I’m succeeding.” If you focus on your flaws and failures, you psyche yourself out – and you probably won’t want to keep going. 

This is why it’s important to focus on what you like about what you’re doing. The best thing about working from home is being able to spend more time with my family. Liz and I get to spend time together, and we both get to watch our boys Stefan and Chandler grow up. 

Getting to where we are now wasn’t easy either. When Liz and I first started our first business 15 years ago, we didn’t know what we were doing, and we fell on our faces again and again. We could have quit then, but instead, we picked ourselves up, figured out what lessons we could apply the next time around, and kept going. 

Push yourself
Denis explains that “Doing well once or twice is relatively easy. Continuously moving ahead is tough, in part, because we so easily revert to old habits and former lifestyles.” Liz and I have reached a point where we could take a step back and simply enjoy our success, but we’ve chosen not to do that. Instead, we want to share our success and how we got it. This is one of the driving ideas behind Make More, Live More, Give More! 

The main idea is to take pride in what you do. If you need praise, an award, a promotion, or some other external stimulus to keep going, you might not always have enough fuel. If you can find that fuel inside you, then you have everything you need. 

Keep your eyes on the prize
Denis shares the story of how factory workers constructed parachutes during World War II. It was a tedious, repetitive job that “involved crouching over a sewing machine eight to ten hours a day, stitching endless lengths of colorless fabric.” The end product, “a seamless heap of cloth,” didn’t help motivate the workers either. What kept them motivated was the idea that “each stitch was part of a life-saving operation.” 

In our case, the problem isn’t monotony. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. There are so many distractions around the house trying to grab our time and attention. What we have to keep in mind, though, is that we’re now trying to make a difference in other people’s lives, and we can’t do that just by laying back and enjoying the fruits of our success. Yes, we do that – we’ve made more, we live more, but we always make sure we give more too. 

Establish order
Denis puts it very succinctly: order is about “getting into a positive routine or groove, instead of a negative rut.” 

For me, part of establishing order is keeping a morning routine. Part of this routine is hitting the laptop to see how everything is going. This helps me map out the rest of my day and ensures I get started right. 

Denis also states that “order is the opposite of complication; it’s simplification.” This means learning to say “no” when your plate is full, and “doing in a day what you set out to do.” 

For me and Liz, this meant, among other things, learning to let go of the tasks that occupied much of our time but contributed little to our long term goals. We had to learn to focus on a few things at a time and delegate the rest to others. When we tried to do everything (and believe me, we did), we only managed to exhaust ourselves. 

There are times when I’m so tempted to just lay in bed, wrap the sheets around me, and hope Liz brings me some breakfast. Sometimes, I just want to play with boys all day. Sometimes living more is all I want to do. I feel like making more and giving more can wait another day, but somehow, I find reasons to do just that. These four tips help me do that, and I hope they help motivate you to make more, live more, and give more too. 

Get Moving!
Ric


Image by: photostock / FreeDigitalPhotos.net



Keep Your Financial Identity Secure

October 7th, 2010 by Liz in Financial Freedom, Lifestyle

You work hard for your money and it’s only fitting that you protect every single cent filed under your name. More than the money, your safeguard should be for your financial identity. Cases of identity theft world-wide have been increasing. Statistics reported an 11% increase in incidents from 2008 to 2009 alone.

Identity theft used to be as simple as losing your wallet and finding out later on that someone used your credit card and IDs to make a purchase. Usually, this can easily be prevented by immediately calling your credit card company to report the loss and cancelling the card. It used to be that this kind of activity could easily be brought to the owner’s attention, say in about a month’s time.

Not anymore. Identity theft is now much more sophisticated and has included financial and credit fraud, sometimes, only made known to the owner after months, or even years. Identity robbers go “phishing” on the net for financial data that they can use – credit card numbers, billing addresses, birthdates and mother’s maiden names. They then use this new identity to make an online purchase, or even take out loans from various financial institutions.

In the February issue of Healthy Wealthy n Wise, John Sileo, once a victim of identity theft and data breach, and is now America’s leading identity theft speaker & expert, talks about how you can Discover and Recover from Identity Theft in 2010.

John lists 3 easy steps:

1. Create a dossier of all your financial accounts and put in a fire-safe.

2. Order and monitor your credit report at least every 4 months.

3. Set-up account alerts that notifies you for every bank, credit card or investment activity.

John’s suggestions may sound simple and easy, but believe me; it takes a lot of conscientious effort to secure all these. Prevention is the best thwart to theft and just like keeping your homes secured, your doors and windows bolted at night, your financial identity should be kept safe away from people with criminal minds and intentions.

Read the reports

When my mail comes in, I sort them out in 3 categories– To-read, To-reply-to, and To-File. When it comes to bank statements and credit card bills, my usual habit is to take a quick glance at the bottom figure, check how much I have and how much I have to pay. If you’re like me, I seldom go through every single line of debit, credit, or purchase. Which I now know is wrong! <g>

John suggests regular monitoring – request for a quarterly report of all your bank and credit card statements. I think I’ll start with meticulously poring over each item in the monthly statement. <g> Our frequent travels mean that our bank statements and credit card usage crosses continents as well. I need to be detail-oriented with time and places of deposits, withdrawals and credit card activity. With frequent travel too means that Ric’s and my cards are vulnerable to credit card fraud! More reason for us to be disciplined in monitoring all account activities!

Keep confidential information confidential!

Some banks use birthdates and mother’s maiden names for verification. Unless necessary, don’t be too loose with these information. Even calling out credit card numbers over the phone where someone can hear you and jot it down for “future use” should be avoided. Password protect or encrypt sensitive information regarding your finances, and when no longer needed, shred confidential documents before throwing them into the trashcans. Believe it or not, some identity robbers go through our trash bins for information that they can use.

Shop where it’s safe

The World Wide Web is a huge databank of information. Identity robbers and hackers see this is a gold mine of information, data and identity that they can steal and use for fraud and criminal activity. Be careful when sites ask you to type in your credit card number, birthday and other information. This information is required from us when we make online purchases. You don’t know as to whose hands this information falls on. Make purchases only in sites that you can trust with secure shopping carts. Check credibility ratings of vendors to ensure that it’s a legitimate transaction.

A good amount of caution and prudent monitoring can help you thwart identity theft. Only you have the right to use your hard earned money, and only you have the right to use your well-kept name. <g>

There’s no need to get crazy about identity theft – but it doesn’t hurt to take a few prudent precautions.

‘Til next time, friends.

Keep safe!
Liz


Image by: vichie81 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net