Please Stop the Whining

no-whiningWe have all experienced the “Debbie Downer” character in our personal or professional worlds. Complaining has been elevated to a high art by these individuals and while entertaining at times, it’s more frequently draining and off-putting. Fault finding is valuable when you identify what’s not working and look for a solution. Occasional whining may be acceptable but if it rises to the level of chronically finding fault, it’s time to take stock. When crankiness has become an end to itself and a legitimate issue actually does arise, how likely will others respond to it?

Life is imperfect and for some people, complaining is a way to get or even deflect attention. Notice your own behaviors:
• Are they energy draining or energy building?
• Are you feeling powerless in a situation or a relationship?
• What is your typical response?

Chronic irritability distances you from others. If only they would change, then you might not have anything to object to. Focusing on what others need to do rather than on your own actions avoids the possibility of personal transformation and empowerment. Turn that critical eye inward.
• Identify what you would like to create
• What are you choosing to modify or eliminate?
• Channel the energy
• Ask for support from others
• Create a plan of action
• Engage

©MWeisner2017

Time Management- The Pomodoro Technique

pomodoro-timerI‘d heard about a time management system called the Pomodoro Technique, created by Francesco Cirilio. It seemed too simplistic, but as they say, the simplest things often work best. According to users, this time management system is simple to learn, and life-changing when applied correctly. The Pomodoro Technique can be broken down into the following four basic principles.

1. Work with time, not against it: Many of us live as if time is our enemy. We race the clock to finish assignments and meet deadlines. The technique teaches us to work with time, instead of struggling against it.

2. Eliminate burnout: Taking short, scheduled breaks while working eliminates the “running on fumes” feeling you get when you push yourself too hard. According to users, It’s impossible to overwork when you stick to the system.

3. Manage distractions: E-mails, phone calls, Facebook messages, or suddenly realizing you forgot to get the car inspected– distractions constantly bombard us. Short of a true emergency, these things can be attended to later. This technique helps you log your distractions, and prioritize them for later.

4. Create a better work/life balance: Most of us are intimately acquainted with the guilt that comes from procrastination. If we haven’t had a productive day, we can’t seem to enjoy our free time. When you create an effective timetable and achieve your high-priority tasks, you can truly enjoy your time off.

“All this is great,” you may think, “but what do I actually do?”
• Choose a task
• Set a timer for 25 minutes
• Work on your task until the timer rings, then put a checkmark on a tracker
• Take a five minute break (you just completed your first Pomodoro)
• Repeat steps 1-4 three more times, followed by a 15-minute break.

That’s 25 minutes of steady, focused work on ONE task. No multitasking. No emails. No phone calls. No checking Facebook. Nothing! No distractions allowed!

Suggested tools from someone, not me, are:
1. A kitchen timer
2. Phone on Airplane mode
3. A quiet place to work and/or a good pair of headphones
4. Pen and paper for the Pomodoro check off marks
5. Five minutes each morning to plan out the day’s tasks
6. 30-minutes at the end of each week to review and plan for the next week

I’m definitely going to give this method a try and see how it works for me. My most productive times have been when I chunk activities and refrain from distractions. Multi-tasking is a myth, so a timer based approach, makes good sense.

©MWeisner2017

The Power of Small Distractions

smooth-stonesOver the years we’ve all seen various desk objects that were more than likely gifts from someone who had no idea what to get, opting instead for a gender neutral item, suitable for work space. Brookstone and Sharper Image were at the head of the curve for categorizing and promoting this “New Age” like approach to serenity, focus, and creativity, enhanced by these purchases. I scoffed at the idea. Even handling some of the doodads seemed excessive and at the very least, a dust collector. Would anyone buy one for him/herself?

Well, “bah-humbug” and fast forward to new research and the power of these small distractions. According to studies done at the NYU School of Engineering, playing with everyday objects at work may boost creativity and help workers de-stress and stay on top of their mental game. Perhaps we all engage in some unconscious hand movement, tapping a pen or playing with a paper clip, but with more of us keyboarding and not needing pages to gather, what else might we turn to? Researchers suggested some of the following as examples and avoid driving your co-workers too crazy at the same time.
1. Rubber toy:
Squeezing one helps vent frustration and lighten the mood.
2. Pen:
Clicking a retractable point rapidly and repeatedly can stimulate the mind just enough to sustain attention through mundane tasks.
3. Magnets:
Fiddling with smooth, plastic coated magnets from a dry-erase board provides tactile stimulation and keeps the hands busy.
4. Executive Sandbox:
Playing with sand is relaxing and can spark conversation. A compact set-up combines an easy to handle blend of sand and polymer.
5. Smooth Stones:
Running the hand over a surface that is pleasing or soothing to the touch can evoke a meditative state and help screen out external stimuli.
6. Slinky:
Stretching and bending a wire coil during long, tedious conference calls can keep the mind busy enough to avoid bigger distractions like e-mail.
7. Coat Toggle:
Pressing and releasing a spring-loaded device provides a satisfying tactile experience that can stimulate creative problem solving.

What is your immediate goal? Try one and see if it’s a good match for you.
• Stress reduction
• Focus
• Creativity

©MWeisner2017

What is Being on the Edge?

563534_622994991086589_2108856561_nIt reminds me of carrying a tray of over filled coffee cups and watching the liquid slosh over the sides. While my intense concentration on each step was not the sole reason for this less than stellar presentation, it made the experience unnecessarily nerve wracking. So concerned was I with how I looked that my self-judgments just underscored my nervousness. Only when my arms relaxed and my focus was forward was I able to reduce or eliminate the spillage.

Many times I have been on the edge and many times I have sat on the ledge. Sitting for the short term, like the downhill skier briefly resting, provides that space in which to regain one’s composure or gain a new perspective before continuing. Think of it as the scenic view, designed for a quick stop rather than a long term lease.

• What’s behind door #1 or #2 or #3?
• What if you had access to the answer keys in advance? Would you use it?
• What if you always knew the right/best decision to make?
• What is the impact? How colorful or in fact, colorless would your life be?

Dream BIG and focus small and if you fail, do it BIG and FAST.  We get so caught up in the questions that we forget the joy and possibility that may just be around the corner. It’s a confidence builder to just get going.

  • Is there an inherent fear in having big dreams?
  • What if you were to fail in an astonishingly BIG way?
  • What is most unnerving, having the dream or imagining it is unattainable and therefore not possible.

Being on the edge means being uncomfortable. It means not knowing that you will attain your goals/dreams with any certainty. Risk is not always easy to manage but with practice, it comes to feel less terrifying.

Not every edge overlooks The Grand Canyon, or the triple black diamond ski trail or view from atop The Empire State Building. Remember, in some cases there are safety rails and in others you will not have a life jacket. However, rest assured; you are not trying out for a spot with Ringling Brothers. Rather, your contract is with yourself to dig down and examine your most deeply held beliefs about change and what you are capable of doing.

I vividly recall my 50th birthday and its significance. The image that came to me was of walking towards a large swimming pool with a diving board that seemed to be 1000 stories high. The choice was to enter the pool from the side, either in a shallow dive or a less dramatic slide in, or climb that stairway to heaven and jump off the board. Fiftieth birthdays are nothing to brush aside so how did I want to celebrate it? In a perfect world, I would love to tell you that I executed brilliant form, entering the pool with nary a splash of water. The truth is I came to 50 somewhat sloppily but thrilled to have gotten there in one piece. Yes, make some waves and ruffle some feathers, do not worry about being perfect.

© 2016MWeisner

Stay Focused on the Right Thing

266Woman-Head-SpinningBeginning a project is exciting. Ideas are percolating and you are feeling creative and inspired. You may be working with a team or independently and plowing through data to support your next move. Hours don’t seem endless and you are producing reams of material and more thoughts on managing the flow. In short order, it may also become overwhelming and what once was the dream is feeling more and more like a nightmare. What do you do?

• Slow down
• Breathe
• Review

For many of us, and I speak from personal experience, we hunker down and keep going, which is not always the best solution. Others micro-manage, experience excessive anxiety and/or give up. We all have our defaults and these are the telling times to stop and recall past successes, how you can ask for help and even re-evaluate your direction. Is it still a workable idea? Once you invest time and money it’s not easy to walk away, so where do you start and how do you determine what the “right things” are to focus on?

When you are feeling physically and emotionally in alignment you are better able to see the big picture. According to the ridiculously successful entrepreneur, James Altucher, he focuses on improving four specific areas of his life; physical, emotional, mental and spiritual health. For example, he believes that our bodies are the average of the 5 things we eat. So, if you take in a lot of junk food, guess what? Your body is full of junk. The rule of 5 also applies based on the people you spend time with. Again, we are the average of those 5 people, so choose your friends and associates wisely! Maintain your mental sharpness by writing down ideas daily and tossing most of them. And lastly, be grateful. Gratitude engages the part of the brain that makes it too hard to be anxious or regretful. Remember too, that your thoughts are the average the 5 things you think about.

So, before you jump back in, take time to check-in with Altucher’s 4 tips for improved focus and take inventory. Has your self-care regimen given you the best platform for success or is that where you need to focus your energies for now?

©MWeisner2016

10 Things You Can Do Better Today

 

how-to-time-management-300x225I am a list maker. It helps me to synthesize my thoughts and organize my activities rather than to operate free-form, without a plan. It is too easy to be in action for the sake of feeling like there is accomplishment. Yes, at the end of the day it is better to have cleaned closets, gone to the gym and emerged from the darkness with the purchase of proper wattage light-bulbs. However, task driven busyness is not a substitute for long term measurable results, improved relationships and clarity. Thinking in broader terms may be useful in creating your own list. Below is a sample of a place to start and #10 is a reward in and of itself.

1. Increase your response time to requests.
2. Improve the brevity and simplicity of your electronic correspondence.
3. Connect with 5 new people and 7 existing colleagues or friends each day.
4. Inspect your business process cycle from start to finish for improvement.
5. Rethink your approach to helping others succeed.
6. Increase the number of times you connect others to build new relationships.
7. Resolve 3 pieces of unfinished business, no matter how painful.
8. Live closer to your goals and your main points of focus, and less by reaction.
9. Take time to thank the people who make your life possible.
10. Rest and unplug!

Your list may be quite different and it must be one that makes sense for you. Who wouldn’t want to be better at understanding the value of designing a process, an internal plan that is uniquely yours? How effective will you be when the questions you ask, the calls you make and the level of engagement you choose are consistently in alignment with your list!

• What are your most fundamental guiding principles?
• Too big? Begin with 3 or even 1 and add as you choose
• Notice the shift in your focus – what’s different?
• Notice the response of others to you – what’s different?

©MWeisner2015

Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

rogowski-225x300I recently joined a close friend for lunch who, for the moment, enjoys a good life on multiple fronts. Her children are thriving, her marriage is solid and she is prospering financially; the trifecta of happiness. Needless-to-say, things have not always been so calm and she is very appreciative, knowing that even the best of times can come to a screeching halt without advance notice.

Yes, bad things can and do happen to good people. Playing by the rules is no guarantee that you will be treated fairly or that your relationships will be rock-steady or that you are successfully keeping potential turmoil at bay.

What’s the upside to having a good long run of happiness or health only to be peeking over one’s shoulder waiting for Dorothy’s tornado to touch down in Kansas and turn our lives upside down? Is it uniquely female thinking that takes us away from the pleasure of the present and into the unknown of the future or is it generalized habitual thinking that can be reconfigured to better serve us?

Where is your body right now? Silly question- of course our bodies are only in one state…the present. Our thoughts may focus on the past, filled with regret or race ahead to the future consumed by worry, however, when we are fully present, mind and body in sync, we are most powerful, most aware and most centered. By the way, at some point, the other shoe will drop. It may be a combat boot, a Jimmy Choo pump or perhaps a delicate pink ballet slipper. I know what my choice is, what about you?

©MWeisner2016

Suffering is Always Optional

Nervous Business Woman Cringing As She Bites Her Nails“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” – Yiddish saying

Any adult can tell you that life is not linear and yet as human beings don’t we plan and create. What we know to be true beyond a doubt at this very moment may be changed or challenged in the next. As convinced as we are that the “terrible twos” of childhood are seemingly endless, fasten your seatbelt for the traumas of the teen years.

Yes, you may have a perfect life, the ideal career, fulfilling relationships, supportive friends, significant wealth and terrific health yet you may still be suffering. What is your daily dance about? Is it worry, anxiety, excessive thinking and more that might be keeping you from fully living your life?

We poke and prod, plan and plan even more in anticipation of the future and making it manageable and perhaps creating our notion of perfection. We cannot control the future and living there only increases our anxiety in the present. The more we resist whatever is happening now, the more we suffer and the more it persists.

Suffering = Change x Resistance

According to the author Steve Mitten, “The suffering you experience is equal to whatever resistance you give to the changes you experience in your life.” Once you accept whatever comes as a fact rather than purposeful acts to ruin your life, you can stop your personal suffering, step back and focus your energy on the reality of a situation, not the fantasy of what you wish it to be.

Helen Keller is often partially quoted, “When one door of happiness closes, another open.” However, her complete thought adds.”… but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

• What are your habits that may spiral into suffering?
• How willing are you to step into appreciation instead?
• Choose 1 action today that will focus your thoughts on the open door?

©MWeisner2016

 

Suffering is Optional

imagesCAKC7FR7“You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails.” – Yiddish saying

Any adult can tell you that life is not linear and yet as human beings don’t we plan and create. What we know to be true beyond a doubt at this very moment may be changed or challenged in the next. As convinced as we are that the “terrible twos” of childhood are seemingly endless, fasten your seatbelt for the traumas of the teen years.

Yes, you may have a perfect life, the ideal career, fulfilling relationships, supportive friends, significant wealth and terrific health yet you may still be suffering. What is your daily dance about? Is it worry, anxiety, excessive thinking and more that might be keeping you from fully living your life?

We poke and prod, plan and plan even more in anticipation of the future and making it manageable and perhaps creating our notion of perfection. We cannot control the future and living there only increases our anxiety in the present. The more we resist whatever is happening now, the more we suffer and the more it persists.

Suffering = Change x Resistance

According to the author Steve Mitten, “The suffering you experience is equal to whatever resistance you give to the changes you experience in your life.” Once you accept whatever comes as a fact rather than purposeful acts to ruin your life, you can stop your personal suffering, step back and focus your energy on the reality of a situation, not the fantasy of what you wish it to be.

Helen Keller is often partially quoted, “When one door of happiness closes, another open.” However, her complete thought adds.”… but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”

• What are your habits that may spiral into suffering?
• How willing are you to step into appreciation instead?
• Choose 1 action today that will focus your thoughts on the open door?

© 2015 Maureen Weisner

Time Earned or Time Spent

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” – Tolkien

A simple math calculation tells us that for the most part, we will have 168 hours a week to spend. Deposit this in your personal “time” bank and begin again on Monday with 7 days at your disposal. Yes, like yourself, I have often taken this for granted and have even wished for a challenging week to go faster and be over with. How frequently has that same desire to manipulate time been focused on slowing things down and savoring the minutes, lengthening the experience and appreciating a well planned schedule? Unless we are in a state of pleasure or pain, stressed or bored, conscious or unconscious do we pay attention to time?

Author Lavaille Lavette has another perspective and her focus on the measurement of time is not in hours or minutes but in seconds, yes seconds. To be precise, think about 86,400 seconds in a day. Picture thousands of anything; grains of sand, feathers, or even bulldozers. That is quite an image to hold in your mind’s eye. How different does it feel than the common expression of a day being a 24-hour period? How productive, efficient, driven and passionate are you and how are you spending your time, the gift that you did nothing to earn? Regardless, managing your time is useless unless you manage your purpose. When your intention is clear and your priorities are in place, your effectiveness is directed and the results more meaningful. Time constructively spent feels much more like time earned and is ultimately added to the bottom line of a life well lived, decisive, and fulfilling.
• Review your day
• Have you spent it on purpose or with purpose?
• Plan tomorrow and include one intentional act(ivity) that honors your purpose

©2013 Maureen Weisner