jmonen

daily blog

Month: April 2017 (page 1 of 6)

Create More Margin In Your Days

I realize I have a bad habit I want to break that causes unnecessary stress in my life almost every single day.

The habit?

Biting off more than I can chew for a day.

I thought I was a good planner. But now I’m not sure.

I may in fact be horrible at planning because almost none of my days go according to plan.

I realize part of that is just life. You can’t plan for all the unexpected things a day may bring. So a plan must not be too rigid.

But that’s not what I’m referring to.

I’m talking about the fact most my days don’t line up with the plan I make the day before for one simple reason: I underestimate how long each task requires.

I think if I only schedule 1 hour to write a section of a sales page I will indeed get it done in 60 minutes. I think I’m being smart by taking advantage of “Parkinson’s Law” which states that “work expands to fill the time available for its completion.”

And I still believe there’s some truth to it. But like most things there’s another side of the coin, right? I mean just because you allocate 15-minutes to write a 2,000-word sales letter doesn’t mean you’ll get it done in 15 minutes.

So I now realize it’s foolish to only consider Parkinson’s Law when making a schedule. I must hold the reality of that law in tension with, well, reality.

Do you do the same? Do you constantly cram your day with more things you have time available? If you do then you’re probably creating more stress for yourself than you need to. I know I am.

So here’s what we can do about it.

Overestimate how long you think your tasks will take you.

So if you think it’ll take you 60 minutes to do something then give yourself 90 minutes. If you think it’ll take you 2 hours then give yourself 3.

Just get in the habit of being a little more conservative with your time and not assuming you’re going to be “in the zone” 24/7 and able to operate at peak performance all the time.

I’m implementing this tomorrow. I’ve limited my daily goals to just 2 simple things. We’ll see how that goes.

My New Death Countdown Clock

I get excited about weird things.

I don’t realize they’re weird until I start talking about them to others (usually my wife).

Today, for example, I read about how Kevin Kelly, co-founder of Wired magazine, has a “Death Countdown Clock” on his computer. “I tell you, nothing concentrates your time like knowing how many days you have left,” says Kelly.

As soon as I read that I got really excited and was like, I need one of those! 

So I immediately started researching ‘death countdown clock apps.’ And to be honest there’s not a great selection out there. 

Side note: if you’re a developer I wish you would make a high quality Mac desktop app. I’d also love to have a good one for my phone.

Anyway, I finally found one I settled on. I paid 99 cents and downloaded it. I estimate I’ll live until I’m 100, even though the life-expectancy-calculator I used today told me I’ll only live to be 92.

So that means I have 24,517 days left.

Which is 805 months or 3,502 weeks.

I told my wife and her sister about this tonight and they both thought it was morbid and depressing. 

I tried, unsuccessfully, to explain that it’s not about being excited about death but about remembering you’re going to die so you remember to live.

But they were not buying it. And that’s OK. To each his own.

But I still like my new Death Countdown Clock. I may rename it my Life Countdown Clock because I don’t like the name death.

So now every day I’ll open my computer and be reminded that my time here on earth is limited. 

Hopefully it’ll inspire me to live each day more fully and stop wasting time on pointless pursuits.

If you want to get your own Death/Life Countdown Clock you can do so here.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
– Psalm 90:12

The Power to Choose Your Own Thoughts

“The greatest weapon against stress is the ability to choose one thought over another.”
– William James

One of the most helpful and life changing lessons I ever learned was when I was 21 years old.

I learned it from a woman named Linda who became my mentor shortly after I quit using drugs. She was my friend’s mom and she was (and is) a very wise and spiritually-minded person.

During one of our first meetings she told me I could “choose my thoughts.” She encouraged me to read a book titled, The Battlefield of the Mind and also to meditate on a scripture that talked about “taking every thought captive.”

So I did. And the crazy thing is that it worked!

To be able to choose what to think versus just entertaining every passing thought was a totally new concept for me. I was excited but also a little embarrassed because I wondered if everyone else already knew this “secret” that I just discovered at age 21.

Was it something you were supposed to learn as a kid? I don’t know.

But I do know this… it changed my life. I no longer had to agree with every negative, self-defeating whisper in my ear. I didn’t have to believe all the depressing thoughts that sucked the life right out of me.

I could choose to think positive, life-giving thoughts. It felt so good (and still does!).

I’ve come a long way since I was that crazy kid trying to kick my drug habit. But I still need to remember this truth that I can choose my thoughts. It’s one of the most simple but powerful tools I have at my disposal. And it’s available to you too.

What will you choose to think about after you get done reading this?

Will you choose to be thankful for something or someone?
Will you choose to think about all the good things (or bad things) that could happen?
Will you choose to think about all the people you love (or gossip about people you don’t like)?
Will you choose to focus on what you have or don’t have?

The choice is yours!

How To Figure Out the Right Order to Adopt Habits

“The recommended sequence is to first stop doing the destructive activity, then embark on making the good and desired activity part of your life.”
– Rabbi Daniel Lapin

Remember, there are only four ways to change your life. You can either:

1. Start something.
2. Quit something.
3. Do more of something.
4. Do less of something.

But did you know the sequence also matters regarding which “life changing” activity you do? That’s important because you can do all the right things, but if you do them in the wrong order, you may as well not even do them.

For example, back when I had a $500 a day cocaine addiction it would not have mattered if I started doing something positive like meditating, exercising or reading good books.

Starting something or doing more or less of something would not have helped. I just needed to Quit Something. Until I quit using nothing else would have helped.

That’s an extreme example, I know. So let’s bring it to a more normal situation.

Let’s say you want to stop experiencing the stress of not having enough money. And let’s say you spend $6,500 each month but your income is only $6,400.

It’s not much, but you have a habit of living beyond your means. This constant stretch will no doubt add unnecessary financial pressure to your life.

You could focus on #3 “Doing more of something” and work more hours.

Let’s say you do that and you bump your monthly income up to $7,400. If you spend $7,500 you’re stuck with the same problem and stress.

It’d be better to focus on #2 “Start something,” like say a budget. Or on #3 “Do less of something,” like eating out or going to Starbucks.

The point here is that before you decide to start a new habit or make a life change ask yourself what would be the most important thing to do now.

Step back and assess your situation from a higher perspective. Then choose the habits and actions that will have the greatest impact on your life right now. Timing and sequence matter.

Find or Create Work You Love

“Work is personal. It’s an expression of who we are and the change we seek to make. [Or] work can merely become the way we spend our days, a 60-year-slog on the way to not-work.”
– Seth Godin (I think) at least it was on the registration page for his AltMBA Course

Over the course of your life you will spend a lot of time working.

According to calculations done by Revise Sociology you will spend 35% of your total waking hours over a 50-year working-life period at work (assuming 8 hours of sleep a night).

It can be hard to fathom how much 35% of your waking hours are over 50 years really is. So here’s another way to think about… about 50% of your total waking hours on most days will be spent working.

Sleep = 8 hours
Work = 8 hours
Other = 8 hours

That’s your day. And that’s your life.

So since you will spend so much time working doesn’t it make sense to find or create work you love? Or at least like?

Doesn’t it make sense to spend some time thinking and planning about what type of work you want to be doing 5, 10 and 20 years from now?

Remember, just because so many people view work as just a way to pay the bills doesn’t mean you have to.

Let others waste time complaining about their employers while you spend time figuring out what you were born to do.

It’s up to you to make this a priority. Nobody else will. And if you don’t then you could wake up 40 years from now wondering what happened.

Don’t do that. Make a decision today to find or create work you love. A great place to start is by reading the book, 48 Days to the Work You Love by Dan Miller. I read that in 2010 and it changed my life. That, and the book, The Art of Non-Conformity by Chris Guillebeau.

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