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Archive for August, 2010

儿子去美国留学,毕业后定居美国。还给我找了个洋媳妇苏珊。如今,小孙子托比已经3岁了。今年夏天,儿子为我申请了探亲签证。在美国待了三个月,洋媳妇苏珊教育孩子的方法,令我这个中国婆婆大开眼界。

不吃饭就饿着

每天早上,托比醒来后,苏珊把早餐往餐桌上一放,就自顾自地忙去了。托比会自己爬上凳子,喝牛奶,吃面包片。吃饱后,他回自己的房间,在衣柜里找衣服、鞋子,再自己穿上。毕竟托比只有3岁,还搞不清楚子的正反面,分不清鞋子的左右脚。有一次托比又把裤子穿反了,我赶紧上前想帮他换,却被苏珊制止了。她说,如果他觉得不舒服,会自己脱下来,重新穿好;如果他没觉得有什么不舒服,那就随他的便。那一整天,托比反穿着裤子跑来跑去,苏姗像没看见一样。

又一次,托比出去和邻居家的小朋友玩,没多大会就气喘吁吁地跑回家,对苏珊说:“妈妈,露西说我的裤子穿反了,真的吗?”露西是邻居家的小姑娘,今年5岁。苏姗笑着说: “是的,你要不要换回来?”托比点点头,自己脱下裤子,仔细看了看,重新穿上了。从那以后,托比再也没穿反过裤子。

我不禁想起,我的外孙女五六岁时不会用筷子,上小学时不会系鞋带。如今在上寄宿制初中的她,每个周末都要带回家一大堆脏衣服呢。

一天中午,托比闹情绪,不肯吃饭。苏珊说了他几句,愤怒地小托比一把将盘子推到了地上,盘子里的食物洒了一地。苏姗看着托比,认真地说:“看来你确实不想吃饭!记住,从现在到明天早上,你什么都不能吃。”托比点点头,坚定地回答:“Yes!”我在心里暗笑,这母子俩,还都挺倔!

下午,苏珊和我商量,晚上由我做中国菜。我心领神会,托比告别爱吃中国菜,一定是苏珊觉得托比中午没好好吃饭,想让他晚上多吃点儿。

那天晚上我施展厨艺,做了托比最爱吃的糖醋里脊、油闷大虾,还用意大利面做了中国式的凉面。托比最喜欢吃那种凉面,小小的人可以吃满满一大盘。

开始吃晚饭了,托比欢天喜地地爬上凳子。苏珊却走过来,拿走了他的盘子和刀叉,说:“我们已经约好了,今天你不能吃饭,你自己也答应了的。”托比看着面容严肃的妈妈,“哇” 地一声在哭起来,边哭边说:“妈妈,我饿,我要吃饭。”“不行,说过的话要算数。”苏珊毫不心软。

我心疼了,想替托比求情,说点好话,却见儿子对我使眼色。想起我刚到美国时,儿子就跟我说,在美国,父母教育孩子时,别人千万不要插手,即使是长辈也不例外。无奈,我只好保持沉默。

那顿饭,从始至终,可怜的小托比一直坐在玩具车里,眼巴巴地看着我们三个大人狼吞虎咽。我这才明白苏珊让我做中餐的真正用意。我相信,下一次,托比想发脾气扔饭碗时,一定会想起自己饿着肚子看爸爸妈妈和奶奶享用美食的经历。饿着肚子的滋味不好受,况且还是面对自己最喜爱的食物。

临睡前,我和苏珊一起去向托比道晚安。托比小心翼翼地问: “妈妈,我很饿,现在我能吃中国面吗?”苏珊微笑着摇摇头,坚决地说:“不!”托比叹了口气,又问:“那等我睡完觉睁开眼睛时,可以吃吗?”“当然可以。”苏珊温柔地回答。托比甜甜地笑了。

大部分情况下,托比吃饭都很积极,他不想因为“罢吃”而错过食物,再受饿肚子的苦。每当看到托比埋头大口大口地吃饭,嘴上脸上粘的都是食物时,我就想起外孙女。她像托比这么大时,为了哄她吃饭,几个大人端着饭碗跟在她屁股后面跑,她还不买账,还要谈条件:吃完这碗买一个玩具,再吃一碗买一个玩具……

以其人之道,还治其人这身

有一天,我们带托比去公园玩。很快,托比就和两个女孩儿玩起了厨房游戏。塑料小锅、小铲子、小盘子、小碗摆了一地。忽然,淘气的托比拿起小锅,使劲在一个女孩儿头上敲了一下,女孩儿愣了一下,放声大哭。另一个女孩儿年纪更小一些,见些情形,也被吓得大哭起来。大概托比没想到会有这么严重的后果,站在一旁,愣住了。

苏珊走上前,开清了事情的来龙去脉后,她一声不吭,拿起小锅,使劲敲到托比的头上,托比没防备,一下子跌坐在草地上,哇哇大哭起来。苏珊问托比:“疼吗?下次还这样吗?” 托比一边哭,一边拼命摇头。我相信他以后再也不会这么做了。

托比的舅舅送了他一辆浅蓝色的小自行车,托比非常喜欢,当成宝贝,不许别人碰。邻居小姑娘露西是托比的好朋友,央求托比好几次,要骑他的小车,托比都没答应。

一次,几个孩子一起玩时,露西趁托比不注意,偷偷骑上小车,扬长而去。托比发现后,气愤地跑来向苏珊告状。苏珊正和几个孩子的母亲一起聊天喝咖啡,便微笑着说:“你们的事情自己解决,妈妈可管不了。”托比无奈地走了。

过了一小会儿,露西骑着小车回来了。托比看到露西,一把将她推倒在地,抢过了小车。露西坐在地上大哭起来。苏珊抱起露西,安抚了她一会儿。很快,露西就和别的小朋友兴高采烈地玩了起来。

托比自己骑了会车,觉得有些无聊,看到那几个孩子玩得那么高兴,他想加入,又觉得有些不好意思。他蹭到苏珊身边,嘟囔道:“妈妈,我想跟露西他们一起玩。”苏珊不动声色地说:“那你自己去找他们啦!”“妈妈,你陪我一起去。” 托比恳求道。“那可不行,刚才是你把露西弄哭的,现在你又想和大家玩,就得自己去解决问题。”

托比骑着小车慢慢靠近露西,快到她身边时,又掉头回来。来回好几次,不知道从什么时候开始,托比和露西又笑逐颜开,闹成了一团。

管教孩子是父母的事

苏珊的父母住在加利福尼亚州,听说我来了,两人开车来探望我们。家里来了客人,托比很兴奋,跑上跑下地乱窜。他把玩沙子用的小桶装满了水,提着小桶在屋里四处转悠。苏珊警告了她好几次,不要把水洒到地板上,托比置若罔闻。最后,托比还是把水桶弄倒了,水洒了一地。兴奋的小托比不觉得自己做错了事,还得意地光着脚丫踩水玩,把裤子全弄湿了。我连忙找出拖把准备拖地。苏珊从我手中抢过拖把交给托比,对他说:“把地拖干,把湿衣服脱下来,自己洗干净。”托比不愿意,又哭又闹。苏珊二话不说,直接把他拉到贮藏室,关了禁闭。听到托比在里面发出惊天动地的哭喊,我心疼坏了,想进去把他抱出来。托比的外婆却拦住我,说: “这是苏珊的事。”

过了一会儿,托比不哭了,他在贮藏室里大声喊:“妈妈,我错了。”苏珊站在门外,问:“那你知道该怎么做了吗?” “我知道。”苏珊打开门,托比从贮藏室走出来,脸上还挂着两行泪珠。他拿起有他两个高的拖把吃力地把地上的水拖干净。然后,他脱下裤子,拎在手上,光着屁股走进洗手间,稀里哗啦地洗起衣服来。

托比的外公外婆看着表情惊异的我,意味深长地笑了。这件事让我感触颇深。在很多中国家庭,父母管教孩子时,常常会引起“世界大战”,往往是外婆外公护,爷爷奶奶拦,夫妻吵架,鸡飞狗跳。

后来,我和托比的外公外婆聊天时,提到这件事,托比的外公说了一段话,让我印象深刻。他说,孩子是父母的孩子,首先要尊重父母对孩子的教育方式。孩子虽然小,却是天生的外交家,当他看到家庭成员之间出现分歧时,他会很聪明地钻空子。这不仅对改善他的行为毫无益处,反而会导致问题越来越严重,甚至带来更多别的问题。而且,家庭成员之间发生冲突,不和谐的家庭氛围会带给孩子更多的不安全感,对孩子的心理发展产生不利影响。所以,无论是父辈与祖辈在教育孩子的问题上发生分歧,还是夫妻两人的教育观念有差异,都不能在孩子面前发生冲突。

托比的外公外婆在家里住了一周,准备回加利福尼亚了。临走前两天,托比的外公郑重地问女儿:“托比想要一辆玩具挖掘机,我可以买给他吗?”苏珊想了想,说:“你们这次来,已经送给他一双旱冰鞋作为礼物了,到圣诞节时,再买玩具挖掘机当礼物送给他吧!”

我不知道托比的外公是怎么告诉小家伙的,后来我带托比去超市,他指着玩具挖掘机说:“外公说,圣诞节时,给我买这个当礼物。”语气里满是欣喜和期待。

虽然苏珊对托比如此严格,托比去却对妈妈爱得不得了。他在外面玩时,会采集一些好看的小花或者他认为漂亮的叶子,郑重其事地送给妈妈;别人送给他礼物,他会叫妈妈和他一起拆开;有什么好吃的,也总要留一半给妈妈。

想到很多中国孩子对父母的漠视与冷淡,我不得不佩服我的洋媳妇。在我看来,在教育孩子的问题上,美国妈妈有很多值得中国妈妈学习的地方

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一封父親給女兒的遺書 & 十年後女兒的回信

( 文章來自網路流傳 )

給可愛的女兒:

爸爸和妳玩了好多次躲迷藏,每次都一下子就被妳找出來。

不過這一次,爸爸決定要躲好久好久。

妳先不要找,等妳十四歲(還要吃完十次蛋糕)的時候,再問媽咪

,爸爸躲在哪裡,好不好?

爸爸要躲這麼久,妳一定會想念爸爸,對不對?

不過,爸爸不能隨便跑出來,不然就輸了。

如果還是很想爸爸,爸爸就變魔法出現。

因為是魔法,不是真的出現,所以不犯規,爸爸不算輸。

爸爸的魔法是:趁妳睡覺的時候,跑到妳夢裡大玩遊戲;

在妳畫圖畫爸爸的時候,不管好不好看,妳覺得是爸爸,就是爸;

當妳拿爸爸的照片看時,爸爸也在偷偷的看妳……。

要記得,爸爸一直都陪著妳!妳已經是四歲的大姊姊了。

爸爸要拜託妳一件事,要妳照顧和孝順爺爺、奶奶和媽咪,

看妳是不是比爸爸以前做得好?

有多好,媽咪會告訴你的。

爸爸猜想,我們這一次玩躲迷藏要玩這麼久,

爺爺、奶奶、媽咪有時候看不到爸爸,他們一定會偷哭。

偷哭就是犯規、就是失敗。

他們偷哭,妳就要逗他們笑,

不然遊戲輸了以後,他們一定會哭得更厲害了。

好不好,寶貝?

我們是同一國的,來比賽看妳厲害,還是爸爸?

準備好了嗎,比賽就要開始了!

********************************************************************************

十年後女兒的回信:

最愛的爸爸:

爸爸,我找到你了!

爸爸你知道嗎?

這些年,我很厲害唷,媽咪說我做得比爸爸你還要好呢!

爺爺、奶奶和媽咪犯規時,我都很努力的逗他們笑。

而且爺爺奶奶需要幫助時,我都有乖乖聽你的話。

爸爸……我是不是贏了?

不要擔心,我很勇敢。

因為我知道爸爸永遠都在我身邊看著我,

陪我哭、陪我笑、看我鬧彆扭。

你真的好厲害,你的魔法讓我變的很堅強,讓我變的更茁壯。

我很幸福,因為有爺爺、奶奶、你和媽媽陪著我!

我不孤單,爸爸也不會孤單,因為有我陪著你。

所以爸爸,你不用替我操心,

我已經是個十四歲的大姊姊了,

我已經懂事了。

爸爸你可以變作星星,在天上安心的看著我。

爸爸,我畫了幅畫,是我們全家唷!

你想我們的時候,就看著這幅畫,

你想我的時候,我就變魔法,讓你在我們的夢裡來遊玩。

爸爸,我真的好愛你。

可惜比賽結束了…。

爸爸,我贏了……我是不是可以哭了…?

後記:

非常喜歡這篇文章,雖然每次看完都會忍不住掉下眼淚,我還是喜

歡被感動後流淚的滋味。

讓我們更真誠的相待吧!因為人生難得、因緣難遇!

讓我們更真誠的對待妻子或丈夫,因為百年後就不能攜手散步了。

讓我們更珍惜兒女的成長,因為百年後要擁抱他們就不可得了。

讓我們在每一個相會、每一個因緣裡,

都能全心的付出與融入,

都能無私的感謝和奉獻。

讓每一刻相待都是最真誠的相待,因為,

因為,百年後,這些都不可得了。

「珍惜今天 ~ 因為它是明天的美好回憶!」

==========================================================

很感動!!

一個有智慧的父親在往生前所寫下的一封信,

對於四歲的小女孩是這麼的彌足珍貴的回憶…..

但是…..

如果您能在寫這封信前…..

您更加疼惜您的寶貝 ( 兒女, 配偶, 父母… )

讓這一生了無遺憾……

因為……

因為….

因為..

世事難料

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Know the Details

Corner Office

Talk to Me. I’ll Turn Off My Phone.

Published: February 27, 2010

This interview with Tachi Yamada, M.D., president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Health Program, was conducted and condensed by Adam Bryant.

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Dan Neville/The New York Times

Tachi Yamada, M.D., is president of the Global Health Program at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. When conversing, he advises, make others feel “like nobody else in the world matters.”

Corner Office

Every Sunday, Adam Bryant talks with top executives about the challenges of leading and managing.

More ‘Corner Office’ Columns »

Q. How did you first learn to become a manager?

A. I think the most difficult transition for anybody from being a worker bee to a manager is this issue of delegation. What do you give up? How can you have the team do what you would do yourself without you doing it? If you’re a true micromanager and you basically stand over everybody and guide their hands to do everything, you don’t have enough hours in the day to do what the whole team needs to do.

Learning how to delegate, learning how to let go and still make sure that everything happened, was a very important lesson in my first role in management. And that’s where I learned a principle that I apply today — I don’t micromanage, but I have microinterest. I do know the details. I do care about the details. I feel like I have intimate knowledge of what’s going on, but I don’t tell people what to do.

Q. How do you have a granular understanding of what somebody’s working on without actually doing the work?

A. Every day, I read about 1,000 pages of documents, whether grants or letters or scientific articles, or whatever. I have learned what the critical things to read are. If there are 10 tasks in an overall project, what is the most critical task among those 10? What is the one thing that everything else hinges on? And what I’ll do is I’ll spend a lot of time understanding that one thing. Then, when the problem occurs, it usually occurs there, and I can be on top of what the problem is.

Q. How do you develop that ability to understand the key thing?

A. It’s just having enough experience to understand when problems do occur and how they occur, why they occur, and being prepared for that particular problem. Problems can occur in the other 10 areas, but they won’t determine the outcome of the overall project. But there may be one or two points where the outcome of the entire project is at stake, and there you’d better be on top of it.

Q. What other leadership lessons have you learned?

A. One very important partner I had in life was my father. He was a senior managing director of Nippon Steel Corporation and was one of the architects of the reconstruction of Japan after the war. He negotiated the first World Bank loan to Japan after the war to the steel industry, and it helped develop heavy industries in Japan. His outlook was always international. Very early, he sent me to the United States. I was 15. He sent me to a boarding school, Andover.

His whole idea was that you can’t possibly be competitive in the world unless you actually go outside your own geography and learn the way other people live and think. That probably was the most important lesson I learned — that what’s out there is more important than what you already know, and that you’d better go out and learn what it is out there that you don’t know.

Q. What else?

A. A second key lesson was from a doctor named Marcel Tuchman. He was the most compassionate person I have ever met in my life — I mean, full of human kindness. And every time he met somebody, you had the sense that he cared more about them than anything else in the world.

So what I learned from him is that when you actually are with somebody, you’ve got to make that person feel like nobody else in the world matters. I think that’s critical.

So, for example, I don’t have a mobile phone turned on because I’m talking to you. I don’t want the outside world to impinge on the conversation we’re having. I don’t carry a BlackBerry. I do my e-mails regularly, but I do it when I have the time on a computer. I don’t want to be sitting here thinking that I’ve got an e-mail message coming here and I’d better look at that while I’m talking to you. Every moment counts, and that moment is lost if you’re not in that moment 100 percent.

Q. Any other important mentors?

A. Morton Grossman. He was one of the founders of modern gastroenterology. I remember he once gave me a paper to review. I was young at the time. He said, “I want you to review this paper.” So I spent a couple of evenings reading the paper and wrote a six-page review of it. I shredded the analysis. And I showed it to him, to show how smart I was.

He looked at it and said, “O.K., now I want you to write me a report and give me a reason why it’s a fantastic paper and how we could make it even better.” And I did. And from that viewpoint, actually, the paper wasn’t bad.

This applies to people, too. It always comes down to people. One of the things I’ve learned is that you can’t go into an organization, fire everybody and bring in everybody you want. You have to work with the people you have. I’ve gone into different organizations in completely different walks of life several times, and you walk into the organization and you realize that some people are very good, some people are average and some people are not so good. And if I spend my time focusing on everything that’s bad, I’ll get nothing done.

Or I could say, what are really the best things about the people I have? What makes them great, and how can I really improve them one or two notches? And if I spend my time on that, then I’ll have a great organization. Everybody has their good points. Everybody has their bad points. If you can bring out the best in everybody, then you can have a great organization. If you bring out the worst in everybody, you’re going to have a bad organization.

So that lesson, while it was about reviewing papers, has been a critical element of my management style.

Q. Talk about how you hire.

A. You have to have people in an organization who are willing to truly embrace change, because if they don’t, then what you have is an organization that’s constantly fighting to stay at the status quo. And, of course, that leads to stagnation. It’s also an unsustainable model.

I’ve made an observation about people. There are people who have moved. Take somebody who’s a child of an Army officer — they will have moved 10 times in their lives. And then there are people who’ve been born and raised and educated and employed in one town their whole lives. Who do you think is willing to change? I think, in this modern world, you really have to be sure that your work force has the experience of being elsewhere. That experience then has the ability to ensure that you will be comfortable with change.

The biggest problems I see in a group of people who don’t embrace change is that they will always fight anything new, any new idea, any new concept, any outside point of view. And, of course, there are many examples of companies that have failed because of that. So I think that’s a critical point. Almost all of the people on our staff have traveled all around the world, have lived everywhere.

Q. What else are you looking for when you hire?

A. Native intelligence is critically important. I don’t think you can train people to be more intelligent.

Q. How do you test for that?

A. I really try to understand people, what their values are. So it’s usually quite an unstructured interview — where they come from, their family members. And then I try to understand how they deal with difficult interpersonal issues.

Q. Why?

A. Intelligence is often more displayed in what I would call complex abstract thinking, and there’s nothing more complex and abstract than human relationships. And if they can work their way through a human relationship problem intelligently, my guess is that they’re very smart people. Not that they can’t add and subtract six-figure numbers multiplied by whatever, but that they can take a complex problem, break it down into its pieces and figure out the best way forward.

I also look for people who’ve moved. Did you move when you were a kid? When you went from one high school to another, what was it like? How did you deal with it? This kind of thing is often very informative about how people have had to deal with crisis, different circumstances and how they’ve had to adapt or change.

I like people who are very confident but who understand the value of other people. Often, in interviews, people will say, “Well, I did this, I did that.” But who were your teammates? What did they do and how did you get them involved?

Q. Anything else?

A. One underestimated and important value, I think, is a sense of humor. It’s engaging, it’s delightful, but it’s also a reflection on not taking yourself so seriously — especially if the sense of humor is self-deprecating. It gives you a sense that they understand that they’re not so important.

Q. How has your leadership style evolved?

A. One of the things that I learned is that you have to give more of yourself than you’re used to. I’m Japanese. We’re very reserved people. It was very difficult for me to learn that, in order to connect with groups of people, you have to give of yourself. You have to tell people about yourself in a self-deprecating way in order to get people to hear you. And that was a very difficult thing for me early on. I just didn’t know how to do that without seeming a little uncomfortable. But I learned that, too.

Q. You’ve worked in organizations of very different sizes. Talk about that.

A. I went from having a small lab with four or five people to a department of medicine with 2,500 people to an R.& D. organization that I was running with 15,000 people. Each step was a huge step. But the lessons I learned at the job with thousands of people are really, really useful in learning how to deal with the 250 people we have now.

Q. What are those lessons?

A. Well, it’s how do you turn a battleship? You turn a battleship by making a directional commitment and staying the course, not wavering from it. When you’re down to 250, you could turn this like a motorboat, but your organization is much better if you treat it like a battleship and you stay the course.

Q. How do you give feedback?

A. One of the things I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter how many good things you say, the one bad thing is what sticks. So. therefore, feedback should be viewed in the context of time, not in any one specific episode. So if I have something negative to say, I will say it. I will be clear about it. But I won’t try to couch it in a lot of positives, because people have a natural tendency to not want to hear a negative message. So I try to do it as quickly as I can, and I try to do it in the moment. But I also try to give positive feedback in other moments. To try to mix the two is often very hard, because the positive messages get lost in the one negative message, and the negative message gets garbled.

Q. What is your best career advice for young people?

A. I think one of the hardest things to do is to figure out what your North Star is. What is it that you really are interested in? This helps you to weigh one option versus another. And then keep your eyes and ears open.

Be open to new challenges. I don’t think anyone should do one job for too long a time. I think every five to eight years you should be willing to take on some different challenges. It’s so easy to get stale. Every time I’ve left a job, I was loving the job that I left. But I never regretted the next move that I made.

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DAILY SURVIVAL KIT

Today, I am giving you a
D
AILY SURVIVAL KIT


to help you each day…………

Toothpick
… to remind you to pick the good qualities in everyone,including yourself.
Rubber band
… to remind you to be flexible. Things might not always go the way you want, but it can be worked out.
Band-Aid
….. to remind you to heal hurt feelings, either yours or someone else’s.
Eraser
….. to remind you everyone makes mistakes. That’s okay, we learn by our errors.
Candy Kiss
… to remind you everyone needs a hug or a compliment everyday.
Mint
….. to remind you that you are worth a mint to  someone known or unknown .
Bubble Gum
… to remind you to stick with it and you can accomplish anything…
Pencil
… to remind you to list your blessings every day.
Tea Bag
… to remind you to take time to relax daily and go over that list of God’s blessings.
This is what makes life worth living every minute, every day


Wishing you love, gratitude, friends to cherish, caring, sharing, laughter, music, and warm feelings in your
heart…


I know this kit will help you get through the day.

Enjoy.

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(Full article here: http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/80-ways-to-steal-valuable-minutes-for-your-work-day-glen-stansberry)

80 Ways to Steal Valuable Minutes for Your Work Day

Mar 23, 2010

We’re all too busy. We’re living and working in an age with countless online and offline inputs, leaving little time for us. If you’re anything like me, you wish there were another couple of hours in every work day. Or at least a few clones of myself to do things like email and laundry.

I’ve asked some of the top small business and productivity bloggers and consultants to share some of their best tips on how they add more time to their days. They’ve got some excellent advice, and each unique to their industry and talents.

Chris Brogan, ChrisBrogan.com

  • “I don’t watch television, so that gives me several minutes (or hours) most people don’t have.”
  • “I also use my waiting-in-line time to answer emails and manage my calendar.”
  • “Further, I try to relegate lower-end tasks to my ‘scrap’ time so that I get more unbroken ‘good’ time when I can find it.”

Liz Strauss, Successful Blog

  • “Leave the last task of each day ‘almost done’. Then in the morning you can hit the ground running. You won’t spend time deciding what to do and will start with a feeling of accomplishment.”
  • “Establish an early morning no interruption time. Use the first hour or two of work to work on things that require focus. You’ll get more done. Email, phone calls, and interruptions have a way of expanding to fit the time we allow them.”
  • “Take 15 minutes at a specified point of the day—maybe before lunch —to work on something that’s your passion … at the end of a week you will have put more than an hour into that one thing.”
  • “Get a great phone notepad and calendar app. You won’t be spending time rewriting dates and information for meetings.”

Anita Campbell, Small Business Trends

  • “Organize your online accounts with a ‘business dashboard’. If you have a significant presence online and manage multiple websites, it pays to organize your entry point, so that you don’t have to hunt around for screens to log into. You can also coordinate some of your stats into a simple dashboard, to manage your online operations by seeing key stats at a glance. I explained how to do this a few years ago, using a free Netvibes account. I also wrote here at OPEN Forum about taming social media by using a Netvibes start page.”
  • “Set aside a ‘recharging’ space to organize all your gear for travel. If you travel on business regularly, you know how important it is to have the right technology so you can continue to do business while on the road. Set aside space on your credenza or somewhere else in your office, just to charge up your gear, download software updates and get everything ready for trips. It will save you loads of time and frustration. Here are some more of my tips about business travel.”

Jonathan Fields, JonathanFields.com

  • Exercise – It sounds counter-intuitive. You have to spend time exercising. But, research has shown that exercise boosts cognitive function, creativity, problem solving and productivity. In fact a NASA study showed employees who exercised daily worked at 100% efficiency after 7 hours, while those who didn’t saw a 50% drop, meaning it took them twice as long to accomplish the same thing. So, exercise, in effect, creates time.”
  • Batch & Focus – Multitasking kills time. Again, sounds counter-intuitive. But, every time you switch your attention, there’s a cognitive ramp up time. It can range from a few seconds to a few minutes. So, if you constantly cycle between checking email, IM, twitter, texts, voicemail, calendars, blackberries, apps, scores, stock quotes, news, current projects and more, then respond to each, the time you lose to incessant ramp-up becomes substantial. Instead, minimize time lost to nonstop cognitive ramping by batching your time and focusing on individual categories of tasks with intense, yet discrete bursts of attention.”
  • Call – We’ve become so accustomed to doing everything digitally, trading flurries of emails, IMs and texts, we sometimes forget that we can get the same thing done in a fraction of the time with one or two quick phone calls.”
  • Schedule meetings online – Check out online/smartphone scheduling apps, like Tungle or Timebridge that largely eliminate the back and forth needed to schedule meetings with multiple parties in different places.”

Erin Doland, Unclutterer

  • “One way to see a boost in productivity is to be explicit about your work when interacting with your coworkers, boss, clients, and vendors. Wear your progress on your sleeve. Be open and honest and leave politics to those who work in the Capitol building. Notify the people who are dependent on you of your status, especially when a glitch or event changes your deadline. When you communicate well and manage others’ expectations, you help them to better manage their time. When others do the same with you, you can better coordinate your schedule and efficiently complete your work.”
  • “If you work for yourself or work from home, set strict office hours. This is an important rule for you and for everyone else in your life. These boundaries keep you at your desk and productive throughout the day and also remind people that you are a professional. When you’re done with work for the day, clear your desk, hit the do-not-disturb button on your phone, turn off the light, and close the door.”

Brian Tanaka, Brian Tanaka Consulting

  • “I use a timer to limit the amount of time I spend on daily tasks such as ‘inbox zero’, ‘snail mail zero’, cranking through my lists, etc. This keeps me from getting distracted from what’s really important during my day.”
  • “At the beginning of each meeting, be it in person or on the phone, I state right away what time the meeting has to end. That way it sets a limit, and the meeting is less likely to drag on when the other person knows my limits. It ensures that we take care of the important stuff before we run out of time.”
  • “Only be available in an interruptible way (ie. IM, phone, Skype) during set ‘office hours’ each day, rather than all day long. This allows me to be available to others without compromising my core time.”
  • “I try to do a few extra little items at the tail end of the day, when I’d ordinarily stop. This gives a small push to the end of the day, and helps wrap up some ticky-tack stuff I might otherwise leave for the next day.”

Brett Kelly, BrettKelly.org

  • “Make better usage of commute times. Listen to audio books, make calls, etc. I’ll make use of Dragon dictation and Evernote on my iPhone and capture tons of ideas and thoughts.”
  • “Limit your TV. In fact, cut it out altogether. Would you really miss it anyway?”
  • “I used to play computer games with my co-workers at lunch. Since I’ve cut them out, I’ve been much more productive by using that time on my personal projects.”

Carolyn Heacock, Leading Kids Today

  • “Start scheduling certain days to do certain things, so there is a flow to your week or your month. This adds structure to an otherwise crazy week.”
  • “It’s been said many times before, but putting it into practice is hard: Do the things you don’t want to do first.”

Muhammad Saleem, MuhammadSaleem.com

  • “I eat at my desk, or when I eat away from my desk it is usually with co-workers and we discuss what’s going on that particular day.”
  • “During commutes I go through my email and feeds on my BlackBerry and respond to stuff on the go. This saves me time processing stuff when I’m at the office.”

Danielle LaPorte, White Hot Truth

  • “If you resent doing it – stop doing it. Outsource, delegate, phase it out, quit. Do whatever you have to do in order to get the resentment-inducing, energy-soaking tasks, projects, and clients off your plate. They are the biggest time suck there is. Those big resentment gigs slow you down, impede momentum and always seems to ‘take forever.'”
  • “Keep your ego in check. Don’t let the popularity contest known as social media suck you in. If you focus on making quality stuff – from content to services, time frittered on Twitter and Facebook seems far less important – because it is.”
  • “Schedule creative time blocks. You can’t be on top of you’re creative game with endless interruptions. Personally, my best chapters, posts and strategic plans need about three hour time chunks for me to roll around in them and tie together the best parts. Undivided attention is the best time-bender there is.”

Dominic Basulto, Endless Innovation

  • “Use Evernote as a digital organizer – Finally get rid of all the scraps of paper, sticky notes and newspaper clippings that find their way into your bag, wallet or pocket. Using Evernote, you can snap photos of anything, take voice notes, clip text from the Web and then sort all of this content either online or using a mobile device. All of this multimedia content then has a home within Evernote, where you can easily search for content when you need it.”
  • “Ruthlessly pare down your e-mail inbox – As a first step, cancel any e-mail newsletter subscriptions that you do not read anymore. If you subscribe to more than one newsletter in a certain category (e.g. innovation newsletters), choose the one that delivers the most value to you on a daily basis. If you’re still missing the other e-mail newsletters after two weeks, find out if they have a Twitter feed or some other way to receive their tidbits and advice. The e-mail inbox should only be for priority communication.”
  • “Re-claim life’s ‘interstitial’ moments—Whether it’s waiting in the hallway for an upcoming meeting or taking a cab to a client’s office—use this time to catch up on e-mail, prep for an upcoming presentation, or jot down notes about a project. Those 3-5 minute blocks of time, when added up over the course of the week, can lead to increased productivity. For longer blocks of time (i.e. morning commutes), subscribe to an audio podcast via iTunes and use this time to make yourself smarter before the work day even starts.”

Michael McLaughlin, Guerrilla Consulting

  • “I add extra minutes to my day by defining when my work day is done. Using my daily planning approach, I know what needs to be done, and when. That allows me to create additional time to do the things I want to do—without stress.”
  • “During the day, I add extra time to my day by establishing ‘no interruption’ periods. During these periods, I focus my complete attention on specific activities without allowing myself to be interrupted by anything or anyone. This allows me to work faster, smarter, and it eventually leaves me more time to answer email, compose tweets, and make phone calls.”

Jonathan Salem Baskin, Dim Bulb

  • “My best trick for adding extra minutes to my day is to avoid losing minutes whenever possible, and the most common drain of minutes is being unfocused or working on non-priority items. When I assess a list of things I need to do, I prioritize them and generally scratch whatever ends up in last place. That frees up minutes I otherwise would have wasted.”
  • “Another tactic many of my clients use is the ‘touch once’ principle, which means they resolve things the first time they encounter them…whether opened email or a telephone call. If you avoid parking things in ‘to do later’ piles, whether actual or virtual, you free those minutes for more constructive work.”
  • “Finally, a technique I learned in a high school mechanical drafting class was to group like-executed tasks together, so don’t just staple once but try to take care of any immediately obvious stapling needs. If you open your online calendar to add an appointment, check to see if there are others to add before you close it out. The time you don’t spend doing these repetitive tasks will be extra time to focus on the work that matters.”

Jeff Cornwall, The Entrepreneurial Mind

  • “Too often, entrepreneurs do not prepare their employees before delegating to them. This results in the classic case of ‘it is quicker to do it myself’. By investing the time in simple training, communicating a clear explanation of expectations, and documenting the basic process for them to follow, delegation will quickly become a way to free up time.”
  • “Although it is true that too much time is wasted in meetings, it does not follow that meetings are by nature a waste of time. Preparing for meetings ahead of time and make sure the outcome of the meeting is to improve the performance and productivity of everyone involved. Run each meeting with an iron hand so as to keep everyone on task and on agenda. Doing so will ensure that meetings have effective outcomes and are an efficient use of time.”

Andrea Learned, Learned on Women

  • “To add extra minutes, use a few minutes to prioritize important over urgent ‘to-dos.’ A lot of the ‘urgents’ are probably all in your head.”
  • “It has been said before, but I’ll put it out there again—close email, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for big chunks of your work day. “
  • “Overall, you probably know for yourself what makes for a productive day and what is mainly distracting. Under most circumstances, it is your choice.”

Becky McCray, Small Biz Survival

  • “Be clear on what’s important. It takes time up front to decide on priorities, plan, and set goals, but it saves you time during the day. Knowing what is really important makes it that much easier to say no, to kill off distractions, and to delegate to others.”
  • “Create an index card reminder. On one side of one index card, create the kind of reminder that motivates you. I’m a numbers person, so mine is full of measurable goals. You might want pictures or just a single word that reminds you of your priorities. Then keep that card in front of you while you work.”
  • “Use checklists. Make and use checklists of daily tasks. This saves you time in two ways: you will work more efficiently with a checklist in front of you, and you will spend less time trying to remember what still needs to be done. You can read more of my explanation of a social media marketing checklist here.”

Andy Wibbels, AndyWibbels.com

  • “Find a protein shake you like and order of case of them. Drink for breakfast and/or snack.”
  • “Have two laptop power adapters. One for work and one for home. That way you don’t look for it or forget to bring it to work in the morning.”
  • “Develop a Leaving the House chant. For me it is ‘keys-wallet-cellphone!’ Makes it easier to not forget the important stuff.”

Rich Brooks, Flyte Blog

  • “Set up iGoogle for RSS feeds from industry leading blogs. That way, over a cup of coffee, I can catch up on the most important news that affects our industry and see trending topics based on who’s blogging about what.”
  • “Write up tomorrow’s to-do’s before I leave the office today. I find that if I have a clean lined paper (physical or digital) of the most important to-dos for the next day, I can hit the ground running when I get into work the next day.”
  • “Ignore emails to my co-workers that I’m cc’d on. I’ve discovered a wonderful thing: my co-workers take care of business when I give them the chance! If the email is from an important client I may put it in an ‘action items’ folder and follow up with my co-worker later, but I always give them the opportunity of handling the situation themselves. I’ve found that if they need some extra guidance they’ll ask for it, but more often than not any issues are solved without my intervention.”

In addition to these great tips, I’ve added a few of my own methods of squeezing the most out of my work time.

  • Start planning your day the night before. Leave your computer programs up and everything literally in place so you won’t be distracted with other things like email and Twitter first thing in the morning.
  • Don’t waste small increments of time. We often dismiss little “breaks” to our days and space off. Ten minutes can make a big difference over the course of a day.
  • Use social media in perspective. It’s easy to get caught up in the “importance” of always being available and connected, letting these services dominate our work times.
  • Before taking a break, get your workspace ready for the next “batch” of work. Get those phone numbers ready, pull up computer programs, and anything else that you might need for the next work session.
  • Ask more questions. Often people view asking questions and relying on others as a weakness. I believe it can help you get closer to your workers and peers, as well as a time saver.
  • Automate, automate, automate. From creating email filters, to automatically tracking my money spending, to setting groups of browser tabs to open with one click. The more you can automate, the more time you’ll save.
  • If I’m ever getting bogged down with a project, I immediately stop and do another unrelated task, like wash the dishes. A solution usually comes to me while I’m doing the other simple task . Plus I’m not wasting time beating my head against the wall. ( I’ve written more about this nifty hack here.)
  • Early on I learned my “productive cycle”. I’m most productive in the mornings and late afternoons, and my mid-afternoons are pitiful. So, I block my time accordingly to make the most of my energy. I write and do intensive tasks in the morning, and in the afternoon I’ll catch up on email and friends.
  • I make it a point to read, every day. The benefits of reading are many, and at the very least keeps you sharp and exercises your brain.
  • Keep your todo list simple, and don’t waste time playing with new tools, etc. There’s always going to be shiny programs that promise to make your day faster and more efficient. Stick with one, and learn to rely on it.
  • I try to eliminate “fiddlies” in my day. It’s easy to get caught up in small tasks that consume large chunks of our day. Like tweaking our productivity tools or obsessing over layout elements in our blogs. Fiddlies keep us from doing the bigger, important tasks in our days.
  • When I’m getting nothing done, I relocate to a coffee shop. Relocating helps me kick the doldrums and mentally gives me a fresh start.
  • Try taking more breaks. You might be surprised at how much more focus you’ll have for the entire day. Even small, five to ten minute breaks can be enough to keep that productivity surging the entire day.
  • Don’t put things down, put them away. It’s mentally taxing to have cluttered areas around your workspace and home. Putting stuff away the first time saves minutes and improves your productivity.
  • Stop trying to remember all your passwords and use a password manager like LastPass. LastPass helps you remember all your passwords and forms, and it syncs across different browsers and devices.
  • Develop a routine to your day and stick with it. Routines give us a feeling of control over our day and help put us on “autopilot”, keeping us from worrying about the little details of the day.
  • Make the most of your work space. Add plants, make it an enjoyable place to work. After all, a happy worker is a productive worker.
  • Improve your typing speed. Think about how much time you spend in email and other forms of online communication. Improving how fast you type could potentially add bunches of minutes to your day.
  • Use a program like TextExpander to create keyboard shortcuts that fill in larger pieces of often-used text. You can create shortcuts for things like email signatures, or email greetings, or literally anything else that you find yourself writing often.
  • Utilize Google Alerts and make the news you care about come to you, instead of having to search for it.
  • Echosign is a handy way to send contracts and other documents that need to be signed, completely online. Not only does this keep you from printing and faxing documents, it also speeds up the back-and-forth between signing parties.
  • Schedule doctor, haircut, dentist appointments for first thing in the morning. The earlier the appointment, the less likely it will be delayed.
  • Don’t plan too much into your day because, inevitably, Murphy’s Law will happen. Make sure you’ve got a bit of buffer time to “expect the unexpected”.
  • One of the best things I’ve ever done professionally is develop a “calming routine”. I make it a point to do things like read and exercise in the early morning, to ensure that I’m not burned out later in the day. We tend to skip things we know we should do (like exercise), in favor for things we “have” to do.
  • Really diginto email filters and labels. These alone can automatically save you tons of time organizing your inbox.
  • Start tracking your time with RescueTime. It really is an eye-opening experience. RescueTime will show you exactly where you’re spending your time and how much. It shows you trends that you probably hadn’t considered, like when you’re most likely to visit Facebook. Knowing when you’re vulnerable to distractions is incredibly valuable to your productivity.
  • Use keyboard shortcut programs like Launchy, Quicksilver, or Spotlight to speed up tasks like opening programs and finding documents on your computer.
  • Lump often-used documents in a folder on your desktop for quick access.
  • Use CoTweet to divvy up responsibilities among your employees with your Twitter efforts. You can schedule tweets, search for your brand and other related keywords, plus easily keep a tab on your industry and reactions on Twitter.

Wise Bread is a leading personal finance community dedicated to helping people get the most out of their money. Get daily money tips by following Wise Bread on Facebook or Twitter.

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http://www.openforum.com/idea-hub/topics/lifestyle/article/how-to-restore-balance-in-your-life

Feb 17, 2010

“You can have it all!” This one statement alone is responsible for causing a whole nation of over-achieving Baby Boomers to operate daily with dangerously high levels of stress and Generation X-ers to live in a constant state of overwhelm.

While it may seem the norm to feel stressed out these days, this isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. Instead of simplifying and letting unimportant things go, people just get busier, trying to get ahead by doing more. This is taking its toll on the U.S. as a nation as well as on individuals physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Finding balance in today’s frenetically paced world is no simple task. Yet it can be done. And it begins by asking yourself one question: Even if you could have it all, would you really want it? After all, the drive to have it all is what got you into trouble in the first place, right?

The path to restoring balance in your life begins by taking eight decisive steps each and every day. These eight steps will not only reduce the amount of stress in your life, they will also help put you in control and make balance a way of life naturally and simply.

Eight Ways to Restore Balance in Your Life

Step One: Set your positive intention for the day.

First thing each morning, set your intention for the day ahead. Make sure it’s a positive one.

Step Two: Set a “balance goal” for your mind.

Right after you set your positive intention for the day, spend the next five to ten minutes mentally picturing your life the way you want it to be. Clearly see and experience how it feels to be perfectly balanced, centered, and whole. By doing this you will have set a goal for the mind and a feeling state for the body to achieve.

Step Three: Simplify.

After you’ve set both the balance goal for your mind and the feeling state for your body, look over your week and see what you can do to simplify your life for the next seven days. Be very Zen about this. Invite simplicity to be your new way of life.

Step Four: Let things go.

As simplicity becomes your new way of being, you’ll find that many of the things you compulsively thought just “have to get done” no longer need to be done. Do you really have to stay up late putting the final touches on that report or can you do it in the morning after a good night’s sleep? Does the car really have to go in for detailing or is it OK to just go through the car wash for now? Begin today to recognize the things that don’t really have much impact on your life, then allow yourself to let them go.

Step Five: Set priorities and create boundaries.

When you begin living more simply and letting things go, you’ll find yourself coming quite naturally into alignment with a more balanced lifestyle. You’ll feel in charge again. You’ll be eager to set priorities. You’ll find yourself wanting to create healthy boundaries in order to maintain balance. The key here is to figure out what you want your priorities to be, not what you think they should be.

Step Six: Learn to say no to others.

The more balanced you become, the more you will come to appreciate and utilize the word “no.” Saying no helps you to maintain the balance and equilibrium you so crave. Quit doing things you only do out of guilt or a negative sense of obligation. Instead, make more room in your life for the activities that are meaningful to you and bring you joy.

Step Seven: Practice saying yes to you.

Now that you’ve learned to say no to others, it’s time to practice saying yes to you. In order to restore balance, it’s important to experience fun and relaxation as essential to your balanced life and lifestyle. Therefore, make sure that you set aside time each day for an activity that you enjoy, and set aside one night each week for something special you know will rejuvenate you.

Step Eight: Protect your private time.

The final thing to do as you go about living your balanced life is to fervently guard your personal and private time. There are very few things that actually warrant a necessary and urgent intrusion into your personal time. Let no one and nothing distract or intrude upon you. Turn your cell phone off.

While you can have what you want, it must certainly be clear after reading this article that the quest to have it all is what’s causing you and your life to be out of balance. Balance doesn’t mean doing everything. Balance means having equilibrium in your life and ease in your lifestyle. Follow these eight steps to restore balance in your life to help reduce stress and put you back in balance naturally and simply.

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Washington, DC Metro Station on a cold January morning in 2007. The man with a violin played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time approximately two thousand people went through the station, most of them on their way to work. After 3 minutes a middle aged man noticed there was a musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried to meet his schedule.

4 minutes later:
The violinist received his first dollar: a woman threw the money in the hat and, without stopping, continued to walk.

6 minutes:
A young man leaned against the wall to listen to him, then looked at his watch and started to walk again.

10 minutes:
A 3-year old boy stopped but his mother tugged him along hurriedly. The kid stopped to look at the violinist again, but the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk, turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children.. Every parent, without exception, forced their children to move on quickly.

45 minutes:
The musician played continuously. Only 6 people stopped and listened for a short while. About 20 gave money but continued to walk at their normal pace. The man collected a total of $32.

1 hour:

He finished playing and silence took over. No one noticed. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this, but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the greatest musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written, with a violin worth $3.5 million dollars. Two days before, Joshua Bell sold out a theater in Boston where the seats averaged $100.

This is a true story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of a social experiment about perception, taste and people’s priorities. The questions raised: Do we recognize talent in an unexpected context?

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