Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Doobedoobedoo & More Secrets

Reading my archived blog entries (and feeling groovy about the fact that I even have archives), there's a lot of the "inside-out" stuff.

Philosophically, I feel good about this.

BE --> DO --> HAVE instead of DO --> BE --> HAVE and all that.

It's oddly satisfying to me that others question how I maintain such a positive attitude inside no matter what is going on outside. From some people's perspective, certain circumstances would have justified taking the elevator to the top floor of the nearest, tallest building and doing my best Superman impression. Some of these people even know that I can't actually fly.

Recently on my Facebook wall, someone accused me of being stuck in a Folgers coffee commercial. Reverse fade as the sun rises above the horizon in all it's glory; rays of light and hope spread across my smiling face. A grateful appreciation for my mere existence physically radiates throughout the scene as I inhale the wondrous essence of life itself........ or at least the aroma of my morning coffee.
So...um... the Folgers thing was a a compliment, right?
Most of the time I'm pretty sure when people ask rhetorical questions like, "How do you stay so positive?" what they really mean is, "What the hell is wrong with you??"

What they really want to know is, "What are your tricks?" ... Despite my best efforts, they want to know about the DO. How do I DO it all?
Here's the big secret: WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER.

Okay, not a secret. It's just plain common sense that in order to have life balance in this crazy busy world, you have to be somewhat organized and efficient.

I'm very thankful to have had some wonderful productivity mentors. In addition, I've learned to make a mild case of OCD really work for me in positive ways. Thank you dysfunctional childhood!.

OCD = Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Luckily, my OCD comes in the form of a deep desire to keep my Inbox empty vs. the need to wash my hands three hundred times a day. (Though I do recommend frequent hand washing as a rule.)

In the same way I can't get it all done if I am a wreck internally, I've learned that I really can't get it all done if I'm a disorganized mess externally.

Even for the majority of you who don't have an OCD bone in your body, it's about having systems and using tools which create that environment for you.
I have lots of favorite websites, tools and resources. Of them all, here are a few which I use every single day. I believe these things truly contribute to my life balance success as far as the "external" stuff goes.

Protopage: This is a customizable, online home page which keeps all of your favorite links and widgets in one place. All your categorized sites, cryptic work links, lists, reference search boxes, weather forecasts and even your daily Dilbert comic can be easily accessed from any computer connected to internet. It's free and you can password protect it so that only you can see your Protopage. I've included a screen shot of mine here; I could not function without it.

Notepads by LobotoME: In general, I try to do as little with paper as possible. At work for example, my files are almost exclusively electronic. Much easier to keep track of things and no ugly filing cabinets cluttering up my lovely corner office.
However, I love notepads and disposable lists of various kinds. LobotoME is the candy store of lists. Just this morning I ordered a new package of eight different notepads which will help me with my grocery shopping, meal planning, packing, "Honey Do" lists and more. They also have a MomME weekly planner which actually has a place for "Me Time" on the handy scheduler. LOOOOVVVEEEE it! The creators must read my blog.

The Get-It-Done-Guy (TM): Some people worship action heroes. I worship Stever Robbins. In summary, his "Quick & Dirty Tips to Work Less & Do More" include every productivity tip I could ever share plus many, many more. I've had a lot of moments listening to Stever's podcast when I thought excitedly, "Hey - I actually do that!" I've also had moments of complete deflation as I realised that yet again, I had not actually invented the tip.
That aside, the podcasts are very entertaining in addition to being truly informative. Stever as a knack for infusing wit and creative eloquence which is completely enviable. Well, to me anyway. Now that I think of it, maybe it's not worship. Maybe it's jealousy? Stever Robbins might very well be living my professional dream life. *sigh* I hear he's even writing another book which will no doubt be wildly successful. (On the plus side, I now have a fabulous gift idea for friends and family.)
EditGrid: I know you may not find online spreadsheets very exciting, but I love this tool which I stumbled on completely by accident. This site has loads of great spreadsheet templates; everything from a matrix for Thanksgiving dinner to penny stock tracking to Jr's baseball schedule. You can also create your own, share with others and collaborate as needed. Some friends and I are currently sharing an online spreadsheet to track healthy eating/fitness activities and goals. It's very cool. (Hey K., congrats on losing five pounds last month! Whooohoo! And, I'd love your "Super Slimming Thai Quinoa" recipe. Can you please post it on tab 2? Thanks!)

This summer, I'm sharing babysitters with my friend J. .Using EditGrid, I just created a detailed online schedule which we can both update/edit as needed without having to email a document back and forth. Our babysitters will also be given "read-only" access so they too can see the latest and greatest schedule from the comfort of their own home. Or mine for that matter.
MommyTips: The name says it all! I'm all about sharing best practices. There are lots of parenting sites out there but this helpful site and online support group has been a favorite of mine for almost a decade. In addition to parenting tips you can find shopping tips, family fun tips, household tips, coupons and more.
In thinking about the "Support" element of tackling life's biggest problems (per my May blog entries), this site has been a great resource for me over the years. The Community section of Mommytips provides a safe, supportive, judgement-free zone with women from all over the world. These are people who are going through, or have gone through, the same kinds of issues. There are women on MommyTips who know more about my six pregnancies (and four losses) in greater detail than any of my doctors.
They've also given me the best ideas for peanut-free school lunches and helped me with a great "get up & go" system for the morning family routine.
ActiTrainer: Unlike all of the above resources which are free, this one actually cost me some money. Personally I think it's worth it. I don't belong to a gym these days so maybe there's a trade-off there. It's basically a fancy digital pedometer which tracks steps, calories burned and other info. My goal is 10,000 steps minimum per day. It's one of my many sneaky ways of "working out" all day long. As my daughter so loudly shared at a recent school fundraiser, I also don't get my "treat" of a glass of wine at night until the ActiTrainer shows my 10K.
In the event that I do structured "exercise," I wear the heart rate monitor so I can see my BPM and optimize my workout for maximum fat burning, cardio efficiency, etc. There is an online "Virtual Trainer" where I can enter and track all kinds of data. The device syncs with the website and keeps track of where I am against my goals.
In the past, I accomplished almost the same thing (sans heart rate monitoring and other "extras") using a freebie pedometer I got at a trade show and the free version of Fitday online tracker. A great combo solution if you're not quite ready to go hard core and/or spend the money.
As we continue on this journey together, I'm sure I'll be sharing more of my "favorites." For now, I hope this has fulfilled some of your hunger for the DO.

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Stever Robbins said...

Hi, Charlene,

*bashful blush* It's very funny, you and I both share a penchant for the BE part of the equation. What people want, however, is as much the DO as anything else. I try to sneak some BE into the podcast, but I've gradually come to suspect I don't know what's best for anyone, often including myself. If people want DO, I'll oblige. (The first chapter of my new book, however, attempts to debunk the idea that DOing better will make your life better. ... and then proceeds to share a gazillion tips for DOing better.)

Thank you so much for your support. I feel honored and flattered to make an appearance on your radar screen.

Best wishes,

Stever Robbins
host of "The Get-it-Done Guy"

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