Making Time is Easy Once the Priorities are Established

I was recently on a week-long business trip.  My schedule was booked solid with meetings both at my online business – Outdoorplay, Inc. – and with my QuietSpacing® clients.  Just another week in the modern world … before the call came in …

The Call

Me (seeing it’s my mom on caller ID):  Hi!  How are you doing?

Mom:   Not so good.

Me (sitting straight up because (a) this is never the response I get and (b) my father is 86):   What’s going on?

Mom (sounding very discombobulated):  They’re admitting your father to the hospital because they don’t know what’s wrong with him.

The remainder of the conversation covered the events that led up to my father’s admission to the hospital.

The Situation

Turns out my father had gall stones and one had become embedded in his digestive tract causing an infection.  This is a painful condition but not generally life threatening, unless you’re in your mid-80s.


The New Frontier – 2010 In Review

With our holiday travel over, I find myself working on 2011 projects – finalizing my second book, revising my first book into its third edition, and working on my 2011 business plan.  Today, though, I’m not feeling the rush to get to the future.  Rather, I’m feeling the tug of the past, specifically the last year. 

One of the best things about the week between Christmas and New Years is the retrospective programs that are aired on TV and published by print and web content publishers.  There’s something visceral and substantive about reviewing what has happened in the last twelve months.  Our day-to-day lives tend to be all-consuming, causing us to focus on the right-now and the immediate future.  Retrospectives give us an opportunity to pause and consider what has been and how and why it mattered. 

A personal favorite of mine is the review of those who have passed away since the ball last dropped.  Remembering those people and all that they accomplished during their lives forces me to look at time in the broadest and most relevant of senses – the lifetime.  Somehow that perspective is settling and reassuring to me.

With that introduction, then, let me say that for me and mine, 2010 was a year of some pretty dramatic changes and a number of pretty amazing events.  Here are some that come to mind.


The Year in Gratitude – A New Perspective on the Retrospective

2010 was a long and arduous year for most people, including me.  Entering December, I found myself thinking back over the last twelve months and wanting to write a retrospective of things that were significant to me.   But then I thought, “Doesn’t everyone do that?”  Next, I thought about doing a New Year’s Resolution piece about how we should set goals for ourselves in 2011.  But then I thought, “Doesn’t everyone do that?” 

Finding myself in this quandary about what I wanted to say about 2010 or 2011 or something, I went for a run. 

During my trudging (a more apt description of what I’m actually doing out there), I reflected on what occurred over the last year.  It was not an easy year for me.  Our online kayaking business – Outdoorplay – was taking shots to the head because the retail customer was cutting back on non-essential purchases.  My consulting business – QuietSpacing® – was dramatically affected by the elimination of training and retreat funding from most 2010 budgets. 

Both ships started the year near the shoals with unfavorable wind conditions!  But with an extra large helping of spit and vigor, we clawed and dug our way through the dark months (January through July) until a shimmer of light began to appear on the horizon at mid-year.  Since then, things have steadily improved for both companies and we appear to have survived the worst of the economic storm known as the Great Recession.

As I rounded the corner at the far end of my running route, I realized that, in fact, I had a lot to be thankful for in this second decade as an entrepreneur.  The epiphany that occurred right there on Fiore Bella was that I would craft a thank you of sorts to all the people and things that inspired gratitude in me over the last year.  And, so, this is The Year in Gratitude.


Taming The Beast – Making E-mail Work For You – Part 1 of 3

Modern Desktop


When I first began penning this article, I thought it would be a quick missive on the need for a change of perspective on e-mail, as well as some suggestions to make our use of this powerful tool more effective.  About half way through writing it, though, it became obvious that there was much more to be said. 

The result is this three-part series with a more in-depth discussion about the roots of the e-mail problem and the substantiation for the suggestions presented.  It is my hope that readers find some new insights into how we can remodel our relationship with e-mail and its sister technologies – texting and posting. 

In the end, these tools are here to stay and it is our choice about how we want to integrate them into our lives. Using e-mail productively can make very good use of our time – the only truly important non-renewal resource we have.


Tending to the Fields: Welcome Back to the 24×7 World

I was recently asked my thoughts on a productivity theory that advocated allocating specific slots of time for specific types of behavior – Productive Work, Administrative Work, and Non-Work.  As the question was being posed to me, a mental image of an industrial era worker came to mind – how they conduct productive work during part of the day, administrative work part of the day (cleaning up, etc.), and non-work part of the day (at home, away from the factory).   What struck me as odd about that image was that it didn’t fit into most modern professional and corporate work environments.

In fact, my answer to the question was that the post-industrial professional and corporate worlds are more akin to a rural farmer’s lifestyle, than the 50’s image of Dad heading to/from work in his black suit and white shirt.  Let me expound a bit before passing judgment on this observation.


Why Electric Hand Dryers Are Bad – Beware Of "Feel Good" Marketing Speak

Electric Hand Dryer

Normally, I talk about being more productive during the day.  The premise is that you’ll enjoy your day and your career more when you’re more in command of your workload. Well, today ain’t gonna be a normal day.

Setting the Stage

I travel a lot – two to three times a month – giving presentations and seminars. As a result, I’m constantly in and out of airports. Now, there are many entertaining works on traveling and airports – for example  Dear American Airlines and Up In the Air – which I commend to you.

This piece focuses on a new aspect of travel that I find particularly irksome – the signage on electric hand dryers in airport restrooms imploring us to save trees by using the electric device instead of paper towels. Every time I see one of these, I want to take a sledge hammer to the electric hand dryer and swing for the fence!

Separating the Truth from the Marketing Speak

The stated benefit of electric hand dryers is that they reduce our use of paper products, which come from trees and fill up landfills. Simple enough, right? Truthful too, on it’s face. But let’s dig just below the surface to see if there’s a real benefit here or only a perceived one.


Time Management is a Myth

Time can’t be managed. It ticks inexorably forward, second by second. The phrase “time management” is really just a catch-all to describe how we get things done. The sum of all we get done is our productivity. Thus, we’re talking about productivity, and, in this case, individual productivity.

Productivity – getting things done – is driven by how much focus we can apply to any one task. The greater the focus, the greater the productivity. Oh, and the net result of increased productivity is not just getting more done, but also the feeling of accomplishment that comes with it. Feeling accomplished is a fundamental component of satisfaction. Thus, getting more done equals feeling better about what we do!

The World in Which We Work

Today’s work environments are fast-paced, noise-filled places where focus is hard to attain and virtually impossible to maintain. Establishing and maintaining a command environment with respect to our workload is the best way to increase our focus and get things done in the most effective and efficient manner. If we allow ourselves to become enslaved by our workload, we will find ourselves constantly reacting to the latest emergency, which is an inefficient way to manage our responsibilities.


The Three Rhythms of Workflow – Getting and Staying in the Groove

It’s been a rock and roll day here at QuietSpacing(R) central.  Monday’s always are … for most of us.  Between all the things I shoved into this week from last week, the things everyone else shoved into this week, and the collective exigencies that popped up over the weekend, it’s a wonder Monday ever ends!

I felt myself ease into the groove right way, first reviewing the landscape of the day, then triaging all the e-mails that had arrived overnight.  The collective pulse rose as people started calling and the activity level all around me increased.  Soon, I was responding to client and employee requests for my attention, while I also re-scripted a presentation I wanted to record for the web. 

The middle of the day heaved over and as the afternoon drew out in front of me, I found myself contending with several technical issues.  By mid-afternoon it was time to get a number of things done out of the office, so into the world I went.  The relative quiet of the outside world was a welcome relief to the mounting pressure building in the office.  E-mails weren’t quite as urgent as keeping my eyes on the road and phone calls were taken more selectively.

With the errands complete, I returned to the office for a final triage before heading out into the drizzle for a run. 


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