After bringing your attention to Shedworking, a blog for living and working in small places, I had to post this link to an article I stumbled upon over at LifeHacker. One of their readers, Brian DeHamer, solved his lack of office space in his house by constructing a toolshed behind his garage and converting it to a state of the art office! The office is fully insulated and complete with multiple monitors, carpet, track lighting, and plenty of storage space. Check it out.
This is very inspiring for my own shed living project. My plan was to have one of three shed units be a combined sleeping, office space. One thing I really like about the design above is the ability to isolate yourself from the rest of the living space. In my current living arrangements, my office and sleeping space is combined, which can make it difficult to work while the wife is trying to sleep. It might be time to rethink the office/sleeping unit.
One thing I struggled with for many weeks and even months, was turning off the television and focusing my mind on other tasks. This battle became known as “the war on tv” in my household. Some of you might remember my post, Things to Do, No TV, where I discussed some of the activities that I have done in place of tv watching. While partially successful in the regards that I have drastically reduced the amount of time I watch TV, the war on tv became more of a reality check of priorities and the meaning of life. Since starting the war a year ago, I continue to tell myself that TV is nothing than a marketing tool to brainwash the masses into parting with their money and wasting time.
And now, the war just heated up a bit. The financial blog, The Simple Dollar, recently posted an article discussing the advantages of turning off the television, titledTen Financial Reasons To Turn Off Your Television – And Ten Things To Replace It With. The author also discusses activities to do in its place. While my decision to go to war with the tv was not financial, The Simple Dollar points out that one can save a bundle by getting rid of the cable bill and saving electricity that the tv is no longer using, about $760/year. In addition, you’ll have more time to cook, more time with the family, and more time to devote to your business.
Overall, I found the article to be a nice refresher as to why I am trying to get totally off TV. The financial ramifications are certainly positive and I would love to start my own side business. A little less stress would nice too.
In my first post, Maxwell’s First Law of Leadership, I discussed Maxwell’s Law of the Lid in which ones effectiveness is only as high as their ability to lead. Next in the ongoing series of Maxwell’s 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, I would like to take a moment to discuss his second law, the Law of Influence. Before I do, I would like encourage everyone to head over to Amazon and pick up a copy of this wonderful book.
The Second Law:
2. The Law of Influence
This law is quite simple, if you can’t influence your followers’ actions, there is no way you can lead them effectively. Maxwell makes a clear distinction between influence and a title; true leaders can influence their followers despite their title or position. As an example, he discusses the influence that Princess Diana had over the world. A woman who was afraid of her position and responsibilities early in her marriage, became one of the most powerful women on the planet, even after her divorce and the removal of royal title. Her influence, many argue, was greater than the Queen’s. Diana was a true leader.
So, when you think of your ability to lead, think back and recall the last time you influenced anyone. Then ask if you influenced them through your title or your heart? I think this law has a lot to do respect and trust than anything else. You must show that you have them in your interest and that your decision making skills are in line with theirs. This is how you earn respect and trust. For me, this is the case, as I have always gained the trust and have been respected by many people who call me for advice. It is something that I take a lot of pride in.
Now that we are only a few hours away from 2008 being reality, I plan on spending time reflecting on 2007 and setting goals for 2008. While 2007 was an interesting year full of lows (my mom’s trip to the hospital) and highs (paying off my car, my vacation), I would expect 2008 to be even better as I continue to work toward happiness, develop this blog, and find my niche in life. I would encourage everyone to spend a few minutes reflecting on the previous year, admiring your efforts and knowing where you are. Whether it is a simple list of events or a complete scrapbook with photos, you will cherish it forever.
While I was in Texas, I spent a fair amount of time contemplating what success is. Prior to this, I had struggled through college and rushed into a job to pay the bills and found it extremely difficult to find work in my field. I was demoralized. Heck, I couldn’t even get a basic retail job in Texas. So, I started a period of serious reflection and thought hard about what success is and what life was about. More specifically, I formulated the following question which I thought was key:
“What factors are important to living a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically, while being successful in the 21st century?”
In July 2005 I made a number of mind maps focused around this topic. The mind map below is a high level look at the basic components of what I felt made success for someone living in the 21st Century. From being in good mental and physical condition to networking with the right people, these are the basic components as I saw them in 2005. This is a reproduction from my notes using a program called Freemind. (click below for the larger image).
Looking at it today, I think I would add a sustainability component along with a mention of goals and the role of music. If you have any feedback regarding the map, please feel free to comment or email me. Note that the above mind map is not to be reproduced without my written permission.
I found one of those classic, what’s the meaning of life posts over at Lifehack.org. The post, titled Where am I going? Putting Your Life in Context, is quite intriguing as it outline three phases of life, learning, earning, and yearning.
I won’t spoil it for you, but I will say that making the right choices early in life can make a huge difference later.
“Reality bites. This ($ecurity) can require sublimating the dreams of youth as a life of routine takes over.“
This supports my theory that even the lowest man on the totem pole can make the right decisions and live a happy, prosperous life.
A while back I had read a post over at Lifehacker that really intrigued me. The post talked a productivity tip from Jerry Seinfeld. The thing was, it was so simple, I had a major Duh! moment. Jerry’s tip was to take a wall calendar with the entire year on it and put it on a prominent wall. Then take a big red marker and cross out the day everytime he accomplished a task like writing daily. Each time he crossed off a date, he extended a chain of red marks. The key is not to break the chain. Simple? Yep!
For me, my task was to not have more than one cup of decaf coffee per day. I printed out a calendar I found on the internet, and have been building my chain ever since. This would be useful for reaching your goals and/or trying to learn something, like SQL. If I spend 30 minutes each day studying SQL, then after a few months, I would not only have an impressive chain on my calendar, but I would also have a pretty grasp of SQL.
This would be good for those that are trying to get out of debt and are on a tight budget. Did you make your budget for that day? Yes, build the chain. If not, you broke your chain and have to start all over again.
I encourage everyone to try it. It is quite motivating!
There is an interesting article about passion over at Yahoo! Finance. It talks about Chris Gardner, who was the focus of the movie “The Pursuit of Happiness.” Mr. Gardner went from being homeless to a multi-millionare stockbroker. He attributes his success to his passion for being a world-class stockbroker. His advice to those seeking a new career is to simply be bold enough to find the one thing that you are passionate about.
The author supports Gardner’s position with discussion of Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz’s passion. His passion was surprisingly not coffee, but creating a place that treats people with dignity and respect. Coffee, in the end, was how Schultz made his passion come alive.
While the article touches on many different aspects of passion, the following quote I found best summarizes passion:
“Passion is the foundation of effective communication. Dig deep to discover your core purpose, your true passion. Once you connect to it, use it as fuel to build a rapport with your audience…”
I truly believe that passion is the foundation of effective communication. From your resume, to the job interview, to your presentations at work, passion can make a huge difference in how the audience comes away with your message. Brian Fagan, one of my old college professors is another wonderful example.
So, go find your passion if you haven’t already. Once you find it, your life will change. Goals will be easier to meet, your motivation will be more intense and your boss will be impressed.
While tools such as David Allen’s theory of Getting Things Done and software like ThinkingRock are wonderful for mapping our to-do lists and daily lives, there is still something missing. Making lists are great, but what happens when you can’t cross anything off that list? You are stuck with a growing list that becomes more daunting while your self-esteem dives and stress level sky rockets. I have been there and it isn’t fun.
However, there is help. There is a great article over at ZenHabits that helps you solve these issues. One of their readers sent a comment to the author discussing the situation above. They have a large to-do list, but for one reason or another, just can’t make progress on it.
The article offers suggestions for dealing with situations such as overload, distractions, being scared of tasks and projects, to the classic I-just-don’t-feel-like-working problem. One of the more basic solutions is to start small. Commit to 5 minutes or merely just starting the project. By starting the project, you get over the largest hurdle and by committing to only 5 minutes, you take the word daunting out of the task.
One of the more interesting solutions to I-just-don’t-feel-like-working is to take a shower. I must admit that I have done this and there is something very refreshing about working on a project after a shower. Another solution the article discusses is taking a walk. For me a brisk walk just before starting a project helps me focus and get the thought train moving.
I encourage everyone who struggles one way or another with starting project/tasks to read this article. At the very least it is an interesting, complimentary read to Getting Things Done. This will help you achieve your goals, become more motivated and live a happier life.
For those of us that are fans of ThinkingRock and the Getting Things Done theory of action management, version 2 epsilon is available for download. An epsilon release represents the fifth revision of a pre-release software candidate. It has increased performance and a lightly revised GUI over version 1.2.3. I am happy to see that the old DOS prompt is gone. You can check it out over at the ThinkingRock homepage.