Sunday, April 17, 2011

OCD Quick Tip: Clearing Car Clutter

I know my usual schtick is about the internal stuff; staying sane in a crazy busy life and all that.
BE -> DO -> HAVE

That said, although I'm no "Get-It-Done Guy" or "Tip Junkie", I still like to give some good OCD "DO" pointers now and then.

This is for you if you could feed a small country with the Cheerios, french fries and other snacks on the floor of your minivan crossover vehicle.

Or, it looks like you've been living in your car surviving only on coffee and fast food.

Or, your "remote office" has four wheels and a free form filing system complete with cup holders.

Or, if you actually could live and work in your car without needing any external food, paper or clothing for several days.

If this is you or you know anyone who fits one (or more) of the above descriptions, there is hope.

The key thing to remember is that it's all about routine.

Yes there are fancy bins and "systems" for keeping the car tidy, but my experience is that these only serve to create more nooks and crannies for the junk.

Personally, it helps me to have a frequent trigger for getting the crap out of the car on a habitual basis.

For example, sometimes I stop at Dunkin Donuts to get a coffee for my ride to work.  As I approach the drive-thru, I stop at the convenient giraffe-like barrels to discard old coffee cups or plastic bottles I may have collected in prior days.

When I get gas, I empty the car of any other trash.  Lately it's LOTS of tissues thanks to all the sniffles going around.   If the kids are in the car, they are part of the process.  While I am pumping gas (and using more tissues to dry my tears over the $4 per gallon), they unbuckle and go on "the hunt."  Sometimes I give prizes.  If I'm not in a huge rush, I shake out the floor mats real quick as well. 

When we get home, the kids know they must carry in everything which belongs to them.  This includes artwork, bags, half-empty (or half-full) juice boxes, sweaters, toys, balls, shoes, cups, hats and fencing swords.  Everything. 

Just like the toys and stuff on the floor at home:  If I am the one who has to pick up an item, I get to determine it's destiny.

My poor son has learned the hard way that I'm not bluffing.  (Though I do feel just a tiny bit guilty for throwing away his precious snowman picture, he is exponentially more diligent ever since.)

If you don't have kids, then parent yourself and do a quick "clean sweep" every time you go into the house or the office.  What's ten extra seconds a day towards respecting such an investment?

Like life, you may not be able to prevent the crap from getting in there, but good habits and healthy routines will keep it from piling up and creating an overwhelming mess.

Good luck!

Photo credit for "trash car": Robyn Miller from Dinosaurs and Robots
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Monday, April 4, 2011

Whose Life is it Anyway?

Here's a fun assignment: In five minutes or less, act out a skit about a foreign country and a mythical creature from that culture. During the story, you must incorporate three random objects in such a way so as to symbolize "souvenirs" from that destination. Just for fun, you will also be presented with an unexpected problem which you must also integrate and overcome.

Oh, and you only get your culture, creature, props and problem five minutes before you have to tell the story.

So let's say its Greece, the Oracle at Delphi, a mop, an embroidery hoop and dental floss. And the problem is that someone in the story suddenly grows a tail.   Ready, set, go!

Sound like fun?

This "improvisational challenge" is an example of what my daughter, Miss M (grade 5) and four of her friends got to do this weekend with a very cool program called "Destination ImagiNation."

As you back slowly out of the room, consider this: Life is one big improv challenge. 

We really have no way of knowing exactly what may happen next in our lives, what "tools" we may need to use or what unexpected problems may be thrown at us.

Okay, so most likely we won't grow a tail.  (Though there was that one time in '92 with the tequila shots.)    Anyhoo...

Last week, I had the pleasure of listening to and meeting Pamela Meyer, author of  Workplace to Playspace: Innovating, Learning and Changing Through Dynamic Engagement.  Her talk was about using a specific set of strategies to develop organizational capacity.  However, it really got me thinking about the connection between improv and personal capacity.

Pamela explained, "Everyone has times when they need to respond to the unexpected and unplanned."

Among many other great insights, she also conveyed three specific dynamics:
     1. Competence - ability to respond using only available resources

     2. Consciousness - lively and active awareness of possibilities

     3. Confidence - belief in one's own and others' abilities

As you can imagine, her ideas really resonated with me (especially the one about confidence.)   Furthermore, its clear that these things become increasingly important in a world which is changing exponentially and on so many levels.

Thinking about my own experiences, I might actually add one more to her list.  I know - who the hell do I think I am, right?

     4. Centered-ness

(It may not be a real word but since Pam used "time-ful" in her speech, I figure I'm good.)

In my mind, centered-ness is the presence of a healthy "home base" that we can rely on and come back to.

As individuals, it's the solid foundation of physical, mental, spiritual, emotional health that we can count on to get us through any change, obstacle or unexpected event.

(There are some great organizational connections here as well but we can save those for another time.)

Thinking about what makes a successful improv performance group, there's a certain "go with the flow" that just works. You know it's unscripted but somehow a cohesive story emerges with a clear beginning, middle and end.  Magic.  

As I observe Miss M's improv team, that collaboration is centered by specific "knowns" such as understanding the strengths of each individual and solid principles of teamwork. On a more basic level, it's having a clear head, being well-fed and well-rested, etc.

The truth is that life can present us with even bigger challenges than having to fit cable ties and tube socks into a story about the Russian Firebird and having frogs in our pocket.  

When I keep harping on true life balance being internal, this is what I am talking about:  it's about our ability to be ready for anything that comes our way. 

Next time you need a little extra motivation to take care of yourself, think of it as building your improv toolkit so you can handle whatever "stuff" gets thrown at you (or hits the fan, as the case may be.)

Internal life balance... the new duct tape.

Carpe diem,

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