With Winter 2013/2014 approaching, I desperately want to be able to do one simple thing: park my car in the garage.
My Car's 1st Winter
This is my first Winter with my "new" car (2004 Honda CR-V…yeah, that's right, I'm making payments on a car that's almost 10 years old…don't judge me!), and I would love to never scrape a frosty window. Seems like a reasonable goal, right? Especially with a 2-car garage!
We've been living in our house for over 3 years now, and our garage has been a revolving door of stuff. I am absolutely tired of it. I hit my goal over the summer of clearing junk out by having a garage sale and donating everything that didn't sell. So WHY, OH WHY, is my garge still un-parkable?
I Just Can't Do It!
I've spent a couple days working on it and this past weekend I hit a wall. After a mini-anxiety attack, I just couldn't take anymore. It is just too much for me to do. I can't do it. At least not all in one. So I need to break this monster down into smaller, achievable "projects" (projects that to other super-moms out there are just little no-sweat tasks). But hey, I work full-time (45-60 hours/week) and I have 2 precious babies at home (3 months and 2 years) and a hubbie who likes to hang out with me. (On a sidenote, why am I using so many parenthesis in this post???).
Let's Take a Look
Now, this was my FIRST set of Before pictures. I've actually done a lot more work on it since these were taken. But some of the "problems" aka "projects" are still there.
So let's see what's on the Garage Cleanout – Fall 2013 To-Do List
If I can get through those 6 projects this week, then I'll atleast have some more room to work in. The rest of the garage still has a lot of other projects to complete, like:
- Clean out and plug-in freezer
- Move giant TV onto dresser
- Lay down rugs
- Move workout equipment onto said rugs
- Set up "kid area" in "workout area"
- Consolidate & label Christmas boxes
- Buy/Build/Install storage shelves
- Organize tools
And really, a lot of this could be solved with my Spring Goal: Buy a Storage Shed! Then we could put some of our bigger stuff in there: lawn mower, weed wackers (2), snow blower, shovels, rakes, cans of gasoline, bags of fertilizer and weed/feed, and on and on. Until then, I need to shove all that stuff into a nice little corner.
I am really struggling today to get focused on work. I'm juggling a few different projects with similar deadlines, and I'm finding that I quiickly lose interest in all of them as soon as I start working on them. So what happens? I switch between projects repeatedly, which means I have about 30 windows open on my desktop, including Facebook and my personal email (tsk, tsk).
If you ever have days (or weeks) like this, try using some of the following ideas to get focused at work. As soon as I'm done writing this (giving myself a 7-minute time limit to finish it), I'm going to do #1.
#1 – Set the timer for 45-minutes & turn off EVERY unrelated distraction
I set the alarm on my phone for 45 minutes from now and I turn off every distraction. For me, that means closing every window and tab on my computer that is not DIRECTLY related to the task at hand. I tell myself, when that alarm goes off, I can reward myself. Until then, all I can do is the project at hand.
This method usually results in the same amount of work as a 3-hour chunk of time with all those distractions.
#2 – Measure your tasks & time to deadline
Make a list of all of the tasks you need to complete to finish said project. Now make a time estimate for each of those tasks. How many working days until your deadline? Divide those days by the total amount of time. That's how much you need to spend each day before your project is due. It's a good idea to add a couple extra hours in there for when things go wrong, too.
Put your time in at the beginning of the days so that if you want (or are able to), you can spend some more time on your project as needed. Don't save it all up for the end of the day when you're liking ot push it all off. The key is distributing tasks and times evenly.
Project: Computer-Based Training Development
Deadline: 6 working days
- Create Training Binder & Need of Training Verification (.5)
- Complete training analysis & summary (.5)
- Determine & justify delivery method (.5)
- Identify existing material to re-use or adapt (.5)
- Review flip chart & suggest edits or updates (2)
- Collect visual media, finalize layouts, design CBT activity (4)
- Storyboards, Action Maps, Scenario Branches (2)
- Create facilitator guide (3)
- Create Knowledge Check (2)
- Collect attachment info & URLs (1)
- Complete CBT scenes with text and visual media (8)
- Write narration (2)
- Record Narration (4)
- Add animations, annotations (3)
- Develop participant handouts and guides (2)
- Subject Matter Expert review (2)
- Test and Edit (2)
- Test and Edit (2)
- Test and Edit (2)
- Publish for Pilot (1)
TOTAL HOURS: 44
RESULT: 44/6 = 7.3 hours per day
Suddenly a project that seemed pretty simple and straight forward just became real. I need to work on this baby for 7+ hours per day to hit my deadline? And this is only 1 of 3 projects that are coming due.
As you can see, this exercise can be a big wake-up call. It only takes about 5 or 10 minutes to complete, but I feel incredibly motivated (and a tad stressed) to get VERY focused today. I really don't want to be spending time at home working on these projects. Perhaps if I focus intently, I can shave some of that estimated time off!
#3 – No time!
Would love to make this list long, but I REALLY need to get focused on deadline-oriented tasks right now!
After starting our new company, Wilson Media Consulting, I experienced what all home-based business owners experience: struggling with discipline and motivation.
Here are some tips on how to be more productive (no matter where you are).
1. 45/15 Split
My background in psychology and experience as a learner and worker has taught me that people have an optimal range of time of which they can learn, focus and be productive. The typical time range is 40-55 minutes. What this means for you: start paying attention to time when you're working. About how long into a task do you start to "fade" or does your creativity or productivity diminish? For me, it's about 45 minutes.
I like to start my work "on the hour" so I can easily do a 45/15 minute split. I start working at 7:00 am and at 7:45 am, I take a planned break. Knowing that I get to take a break helps me focus because I don't create excuses to not work.
When you let yourself expect a break, you'll be more productive in your 45 minutes than if you just take random breaks, get frustrated, and then stop working altogether for a couple hours.
2. The planned break
Before I start my 45/15 split, I have a plan for how I'm going to spend my 15 minutes break. That way, I don't waste time thinking about what I'm going to do when I should be working, or wasting my break time by trying to decide how I want to spend it. For example, I know that in 20 minutes I'm going to get a snack and play with our adorable cockapoo, Mazie. She likes to sleep in, so I won't wake her for a little while.
3. Timing my tasks
Measure, measure, measure! That's how you know if anything is successful. I measure the time I spend every day by using an automatic time tracker. Gone are the days of writing down what you're doing (especially if you spend 80% of your work day at the computer). I use a cool time tracker that lets me add new tasks and then set the timer on them when I start working on them. At the end of the day (or week, month, etc), with a click of a button I can see where all my time went. It also helps me bill clients because it's organized by client profiles. It's a breeze to use, and I've noticed that on the days I don't use it, my productivity plummets. There's something about seeing that little timer on my screen that shouts to me: GET TO WORK!
Today is all about LOVE – the most powerful things in the world. There's a lot of pressure put on today, but relax! Expressing your love is one of the easiest things you can do. All it takes is a little planning and a little effort.
The 5 Love Languages
The following ideas are inspired by Dr. Gary Chapman's book, "The 5 Love Languages." If you don't own this book already, one of the best gifts you can give your relationship or marriage is buying this book today and committing to reading it and discovering your love languages. It's currently on sale at Amazon for only $6.59. That's a pretty cheap gift that says, "I commit to loving you the way you need to be loved."
Words of Affirmation
If your partner's love language is words of affirmation, you have it pretty easy on Valentine's Day! Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Write a letter
You have tons of ways you can choose to write your letter: handwrite it, type it, use fancy paper, make it look old and roll it into a bottle, draw a picture on it, fold it up like you're in middle school, frame it, etc. The key is to just sit down and express your love in writing. Feel free to talk about how you met, why you fell in love, why you're still in love, why that person means the world to you, etc.
2. Create a video
Whether it's a flip camera, your phone, or a fancy camera, film yourself saying all the important things your partner deserves to hear. I suggest taking some time to write down what you'd like to say and maybe even practice it a couple times. Then just sit yourself in front of the camera and go for it. Another video idea (if you have a little more time and some video editing software like Windows Movie Maker) is to create a a slideshow of pictures of the two of you and then record what you'd like to say (maybe even with their favorite song in the background) and put it all together. This will end up being a cherished gift for a long time to come, especially for the person who needs their love tank filled with words of affirmation.
As you can see, I haven't added a new blog entry in 6 months! That's pretty ridiculous. Like many people, I have some pretty typical excuses: I'VE BEEN BUSY.
Really? Too busy to take 15 minutes to post a new blog? Probably not. So here's to a new challenge to add one new post every day for 30 days straight. I'd like give myself a 100-day challenge because I think those are more substantial and fun, but let's start with a more manageable 30-day challenge.
And to give myself the motivation to get those posts written every day, here's a list of 10 reasons why blogging consistently is good for you:
1. Stretch your mind. It's one thing to sit and have a chat with a friend about something, but when you sit down to write something, you're going to stretch your mind much more. You have to organize your thoughts and communicate in a way that will connect with people.
2. Do better in Google. Search engines love fresh content. If you want to perform better in search engines and grow a larger following, you need to write consistently so that Google will rank your blog better.
3. Maintain reader loyalty. If you're writing just for yourself, then this one doesn't really apply to you. Usually people are writing for an audience – friends, family, or strangers. If you want those people to stay loyal to your blog, you need to give them content to keep coming back to. If you let your blog sit without an update for 6 months, no one is going to be paying attention!
4. Challenge yourself. Ok, so this is kind of like stretching your mind, but seriously – stop being so lazy and give yourself a good challenge. With something new to accomplish every day, you're going to push yourself more than just sticking with the "same old, same old."
Jean-Clean Van Damme is a bad-ass. I don’t care if you think differently. He is the model of pure awesomeness. Last night, Tyler and I watched this awesome movie and I knew I had to share this awesomeness with my Happy List readers.
If you’re needing a way to cheer up, I encourage you to rent/Netflix/etc. his movie Kickboxer. It will cheer you up immediately. Just check out some of the reasons this movie is awesome:
1. 1980’s martial arts movie. Need I say more? The 80’s are filled with so many fun classics, and Kickboxer is one of them. If you love 80’s movies, you’ll love Kickboxer. It has a definite 80’s vibe to it: terrible dialogue, crazy awesome fight sequences, and a rockin soundtrack.
After our Chocolate Apothecary and Auntie’s Bookstore date last night, we went out to Rusty’s Sports Bar & Grill for our friend’s 26th birthday.
We didn’t want to drive downtown Coeur d’Alene, but we wanted to go somewhere that was open past 10 pm – and so we went to Rusty’s for the first time. Overall, the service & drinks were good. Here’s what stood out to me:
- Down-to-earth service. Our server was friendly, but she wasn’t pretentious, annoyed, or fake. She was friendly and helpful. When asked what she’d recommend, she asked good questions and made good recommendations.
- Variety of music. Other than the times when there was music (which was kind of odd), we all liked the variety of music from contemporary to hard rock to country – something for everyone.
- Drinks were priced right. Most of the drinks averaged $3.75 – and that’s without having any specials.
- Variety of seating. There’s the bar, some high bar tables, tucked in booths, and a couple couches. Again, a little something for everyone.
- Sports on the TV. This is sort of a given since it’s a Sports Bar, but whatever. I like having some good old sports on the television so I can have additional entertainment other than friends and drinks.
- It’s in Hayden. For those of us that don’t want to go downtown Coeur d’Alene (or to some of the scary bars I haven’t tried), Rusty’s is the perfect solution.
After our fun chocolate tasting date at the Chocolate Apothecary, Tyler and I headed over to Auntie’s Bookstore to use another Groupon.com coupon (50% off $20 purchase).
I was so excited to get $10 free dollars to Auntie’s. Tyler and I love that bookstore. Here’s a few reasons why:
- It’s Big AND Local. We haven’t found many local bookstore that have such a huge selection of books at such a big location
- Downtown Spokane. There’s something fun about old downtown buildings. Auntie’s Bookstore is big, open, and old. It’s awesome.
- Great staff. Every time we go there, the staff are friendly and accessible.
- Huge selection of new and used. I love discovering fun little “finds” there – old used books for an affordable price.
- Autographed books. They are always hosting book signings, from local to national authors, including the likes of David Sedaris, Jamie Ford, Sherman Alexie and Chuck Palahniuk. If you can’t make it to one of the book signings, you can still pre-order a signed book, or even purchase one afterwards.
Last night, the hubbie and I headed to Spokane after work for a Chocolate tasting class the Chocolate Apothecary in Spokane, Washington.
I didn’t even know they were there until their coupon showed up last week on Groupon.com. After 8 years of being together, Tyler and I are always on the lookout for new and fun adventures. Last night was just such an adventure.
10 Reasons Chocolate Apothecary of Spokane rocks:
- Groupon.com participation. Yeah, I know it’s basically for their own promotion, but without their participation in Groupon.com, we never would have known about them. Using effective marketing makes them smart (and I like smart businesses).
- Chocolate Dream Tour Engineer. That’s not exactly what she called herself, but it was something awesome like that. She did a great job of presenting the process of making chocolate and the experience of tasting.
- 14 different chocolates. By the end of the chocolate tasting, I was on an incredible chocolate high. It was fantastic.
- A little to-go baggie. Once I started getting a chocolate overload, I wasn’t able to eat the whole piece of the samples. They planned ahead and had cute little to-go baggies so we could save our leftover chocolate. Brilliant!
- Water. Water is fantastic, and we had plenty of it to cleanse our palate between tastings.
- Journal & Pen. At first I thought it was silly that they offered a journal and pen, until I realized I wanted to take notes on all of the chocolates we were trying. Great idea!
- Chocolate and espresso cafe with tables and chairs. People don’t have to just stop in and buy chocolate. They can stop in, have a drink, relax and enjoy themselves. The atmosphere was great!
- Delicious souvenirs. Nothing like purchasing a souvenir that’s so delicious.
- Perfect length. An hour event was perfect – not too long, not too short. It seemed to go really fast, which is a good indicator that we were enjoying ourselves.
- Chocolate High. I felt amazing after munching down on so much chocolate. I could tell from the look in Tyler’s eyes that he was feeling mighty good as well. (He had this big grin on his face, despite feeling kind of sick earlier in the day).
Bottom line: Chocolate Apothecary has a fun Tasting Class that I would recommend to anyone who enjoys chocolate and wants a fun date.
The Hubbie and I (commonly known as Team Wilson) are not wealthy by any means. We work in fairly low-paying jobs (in the $10/hour range) despite our advanced college degrees. And yet, despite living paycheck to paycheck, we have managed to end up owing the government an additional $2,000 this year.
Here are 7 reasons why (my UNHappy List of the month).
1. Miniscule pay raise. I actually worked full time for the whole year and we earned a little more money since I wasn’t going to school. But that leads to #2.
2. No longer a student. Those tuition credits came in handy.
3. Debt Settlement = Taxable Income. So poor that I defaulted on a student loan and settled the debt for about 50% of what I owed. Turns out that counts as “taxable income.” Because that makes sense.