Category Archives: productivity

Supression of Chinese Dissidents and Activists

The suppression of the blind Chinese activist is just one of a hundred thousand incidents per year.  China is a repressive country trying to mask itself as a modern society.  No centrally planned, code word for socialism, economy has ever prospered for an extended period of time.  You cannot manage a billion people and hundreds of billions of activities.

The pot of water is one stove, the water is boiling and the problems inside of China will become visible to the world.

Check out Push Back, my latest novel, where the recent case of the blind activist mirrors what a main character, Timothy Lee does.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Children and poverty, criticism, improvement, integrity, productivity, self esteem, success

Energy Saving Light Bulbs

LED, Fluorescent, Incadescent – What to buy?

Like alot of things in life, light bulbs are now complicated!  The light bulb used to be an easy purchases. Now we must consider if it Is energy efficient? Will it switch on quickly? Can I use a dimmer? What is a lumen? How long will it last? The cost? The color? Etc.

A recent article by WSJ’s Katherine Boehret answered some of the questions I had and I thought it might be a useful subect, even if it out of my wheelhouse.

Bulbs can be divided into three main categories: incandescents, compact fluorescents (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). We now mainly use incandescents, they are cheap but throw off heat and use up alot of energy. An incandescent lasts about 1,000 hours.

Recently, halogen incandescent bulbs have become popular. The bulbs, which cost as little as $3 for two, look and act like incandescents by dimming and turn on fast, but use less energy. The Philips EcoVantage line uses 28% less energy: A 72-watt bulb replaces a 100-watt, and a 43-watt bulb replaces a 60-watt. They last as long as a traditional incandescent bulb.

Compact fluorescents, the spiral bulbs, use less energy than incandescents but can appear harsher in color and don’t turn on immediately. They cost about $5 to $10 each and have an average lifespan of 10,000 hours.  They contain mercury and should be recycled at stores like Home Depot.

LEDs, which look like the incandescents we’re used to, are the latest in energy-efficient bulbs. They’re also the most expensive, costing around $20 to $60 a bulb, though this will drop as they become more prevalent. These bulbs don’t contain mercury, turn right on and many can be dimmed. Their light-emitting surfaces remain cool to the touch and the hue of light from these LED bulbs are more like traditional incandescents. They are estimated to save up to 85% more energy than incandescents, with a lifespan of 20,000 to 50,000 hours, or 20 to 40 years.

Watts = Lmens = What?? Help!

For years, we’ve measured light bulbs by watts, which show how much energy a bulb uses. But bulb brightness is measured in lumens. Many of the new light bulbs’ boxes list lumens and include info about how the bulb compares with the wattage you want to replace. An incandescent 40-watt bulb gets replaced with a 450-lumen bulb; a 60-watt bulb with a 800-lumen bulb; a 75-watt bulb by a 1,100 lumen; and a 100 watt by a 1,600 lumen.

Many bulbs are now packaged with a “Lighting Facts” label. Besides lumens, this may include factors like lumens per watt (bulb efficiency); watts (energy used to make the light); correlated color temperature, which indicates cool or warm color (about 2700 Kelvin replicates what we’re familiar with a traditional incandescent); and a color-rendering index (the measurement of a light’s appearance on objects).

Consumer Reports recently tested several bulbs for factors like brightness, warm-up time, light distribution and actual lumens. The $10 GE Energy Smart SAF-T-GARD earned the highest overall ranking for 60-watt equivalent spiral CFL bulbs.

The $25 Philips AmbientLED 12.5W ranked best overall in the 60-watt equivalent A19 style (the typical pear-shape found in incandescent bulbs) covered bulb category.

Helpful Tool

Light-bulb savings calculators are online, like one from National Geographic, giving you a rough idea of how much they may save over time.

Now your are armed with some lighting knowledge!

Leave a Comment

Filed under improvement, productivity, Uncategorized

Fear

Fear is a part of our existence.  Our DNA is hard wired and our physical responses to real danger are instinctive.   But fear is not danger but a mental perception of a possible danger.  This is a key distinction that almost everyone misses.

Fear lives in the unknown. We are afraid of what we don’t know. We feel fear when we are unsure of the outcome of a situation and it cripples us.  We need to learn how to tame fear.

Permitting fear to guide your existence allows your mind to create a negative response to the unknown. You hear a sound in the middle of the night and immediately feel threatened. You lie still in the bed hoping nothing else will happen as your mind bubbles up all kinds of negative scenarios.  It is simply illogical!

Why not get up and see what the sound may be?  If it is a real danger you are not helping yourself lying in bed!  Check it out if it bothers you and get back to sleep.

We have fear of looking foolish, heightened by the media’s projection of their image of perfection.  This fear prevents us from becoming who we really are.  It keeps us from pursuing our dreams, living small, stagnate and full of regrets.

What’s the downside?

If for example, you have to speak in front of a group what is the worst thing that can happen? You flub it, or do just an okay job? So what!  You are not the focus of the audience’s day, it is forgotten so fast.  Ever been to a boring speech or bad concert? How long did you hang onto it?

It’s a good thing to feel nervous and desire to do a good job. However, we need to channel the nervous energy we feel into positive action.  Acknowledge the presence of your nervousness, it happens to everyone, even seasoned pros, athletes and performers.   If you don’t feel nerves at all, you don’t care and that’s worse!  You just need to put it into proper perspective.

If you cannot convince yourself that your presentation is not going to cure cancer and feel undue pressure, then get better prepared.  Practice and prepare if it’s a presentation, performance etc.  If it’s a social thing, ‘practice’ in smaller, less intimidating situations.  Preparation is the antidote but will not completely cancel your nerves.  It is also important to know that your audience wants to like you and that you know your stuff better than 90 percent of them.  Prepare, do and move on.

Make a Real Effort, Its All That Counts

We all have different interests and goals; it’s what makes life and people so interesting!  I love meeting people with unusual passions; it’s refreshing to see them pursue them vigorously.  Don’t be shy, whether you want to learn to dance, swim, read tarot cards, learn to ride a bike, paint etc. block out your fear and start participating.  Stop being self conscious, the world does not revolve around you.  When and if criticism comes your way, use it constructively even if it came mean spiritedly.  Learn from it and strengthen your resolve to grow.

This quote by Teddy Roosevelt says it all, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; who strives valiantly; who errs, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Get Going

There is a substantive difference between fear and danger.  Our need to control and insulate ourselves imprisons us in a small, supposedly safe existence.  Say yes to life now, stop saying no due to unfounded and unrealistic feelings of fear.

If you do not do well in your endeavor don’t allow it define who you are and don’t let it get to your heart. Just as importantly, if you do well don’t let it get to your head!

For a memorable example of dealing with fear in a life threatening situation check out Marble Mountain – a memoir of a Vietnam helicopter pilot. It’s a gripping insight at the incredible challenges the brave men and women who served faced.  Marble Mountain Link Check it out!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Blog, criticism, improvement, integrity, pride, productivity, success

Statement of Purpose

Have a purpose or mission to accomplish, makes achieving your goals easier.  You should be focused on your task or goal.  All your actions and thoughts should be directed towards the goal.

This mind set increases your confidence and it is proven that confident people have an easier time with achievement.

How Do You Get Purposeful?

Think about what it is that you either want to do or are responsible for doing.  Set your goal, or review your tasks.   Focus on what steps you will take to achieve the goals set or mandated.  It is always a good idea to write them down as reinforcement. For example,  I want to ‘stop smoking, lose weight, reduce my golf handicap, learn a language, obtain a promotion, increase my sales etc.  This process transforms you from walking around in a reactionary mode into a proactive, purposeful state of mind.

Next, it is time to visualize doing the things that make progress towards your goal.  It’s not silly, visualizing the steps you need to take brings them to life.  Then visualize you actually achieving the goal and what positive changes it brings to your life.

Before you go to sleep, think about what you need to do the next day.  Do not allow yourself to get overwhelmed, keep it positive, focusing on the next step only and the satisfaction, or relief it will bring.  When you wake up, set your mind to the tasks of the day, review the actions needed and get going.

The momentum you build by completing daily tasks necessary to achieve the ultimate goal, creates a level of confidence that is invaluable.  You will also obtain a sense that you must do something, lest you waste a valuable day of your life.

Don’t get ahead of yourself, success is a bunch of tiny victories, peppered with losses, strung together.

It is critical to accept setbacks as natural part of your growth, and to enjoy the small gains made en-route to the big goal!

Set your mind to a goal and break the steps into small increments to guarantee success!

You can do it, start believing in yourself.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Blog, improvement, pride, productivity, success

How to Save Time

I decided to put this valueable information all in post rather than a downloadable PDF. Put these into action ASAP & give feedback.

Practical Suggestions to Create Time To Pursue Your Interests & Increase Productivity.

Business

Little Mo – Many business experts and consultants stress the big picture or big task/project.  Rightfully so, if we don’t accomplish the big things the smaller one usually won’t matter.  Because larger scale projects require more thinking and pondering, you can find yourself stuck by over analyzing. What works for me is to tackle a series of small tasks first.  The momentum and sense of accomplishment is something I build on.  It clears my head, readying me for the larger tasks at hand.

Touch it – Do it.  Too often we handle a document, review it, only to deal with it later.  A waste, you’ve invested time in it, complete it now; otherwise, you will re-read / re-review it when you actually deal with it.  Live by the Touch it Once rule!

Email, a huge consumer of our time, is a great place to implement this concept.  When you open an email, deal with it, if possible.  Even if you need to check another document, email etc. for the answer, you will save time, gain momentum and clear your mind to focus on the next.  Only flag the emails that absolutely need input or careful consideration. Read, act, then go on.

Shorten and reduce meetings – We have way too many meetings, wasting the collective time of all the attendees.  First, invite only critical persons, too often people are in meetings with nothing constructive to add or learn. (I am fan though of including, at times, junior staff/interns, as a learning experience) Many meetings are just plain unnecessary. Use email/phone/ or video conferencing if truly necessary.

Don’t let attendees get too comfortable.  Do away with the coffee and donuts, I like standing meetings. Get to the point and get to work.  Shorten meetings, use a timer and let people know you are.

Strategy meetings require ‘homework’ beforehand to be productive.  Demand that participants come prepared otherwise you and the others are wasting valuable time.

Personal Life

T.V.  As if we didn’t already know this sorrowful fact, we watch way too much TV, wasting hours to the detriment of our goals and pursuits.

I confess to being an ex-news junkie but the news rarely changes during the day.  The networks just spin it a bit differently.  Rarely is there a REAL developing story that compels us to watch.  I am not talking about the endless babble about a storm that is days away yet is covered from every minute angle. Pick a news broadcast you like and give it no more than an hour a day.

We are all connected in some way during the day, if there is something you need to know, you can be sure you will know it.  Being an hour or three behind the story will not change a thing.   TV news once a day, should give what you need, watching 2- 3 times a day is just regurgitation, even during a crisis

A TV pet peeve is the time spent on the weather. Broadcasts start with a tease and continue, giving a ridiculous amount of detail.  I couldn’t care less about Doppler pictures and temperature readings in 30 different places.  All you need is what the highs and lows of the day are and if sunny, cloudy or precipitation expected.  You can get all this on your phone, web, or in seconds on the weather channel.

Use commute time productively – We spend a lot of time commuting and if we use that time on something like reading a book we want to, studying something we have an interest in, listening to an audio book if we are driving, or the news and weather so we don’t have to waste time watching it on tv!

Bank on Line – I realize there is some trepidation about this subject but clearly it is as safe as any other means we use to pay bills.  You can set up your regular payments and forget about them.  Schedule your payments to vendors who accept payments via ACH for the last due date. No need to address envelopes and buy stamps.  You will also have an easy organized place to check your payment histories.   I also advocate receiving bills on line.  Schedule for payment and then save them into a folder, dramatically reducing the handling time.

Reading material – Slim it down, we are inundated with reading materials concerning the field we work in. Depending on the area of expertise, condense the publications/materials you read.  Most times they are all a version of each other.  Find the one that covers the bases and stop wasting time on others. A great example are newspapers, there really is no need to ready two or three papers a day.

This said with an eye towards the flood of sources we now draw from (web, mobil, tv, radio, print…)

DVR – Instant time saver -get a DVR, 30%, yes 30%, of each hour is devoted commercials.  Record a show, fast forward thru them and ‘pocket’ the time!  An easy way to pick up time.

Don t make your schedule based upon TV programming!  Use your ‘prime time’ to pursue your hobbies and interests.  If you choose, you can watch your ‘DVR-commercial free’ later (in place of the news and weather you already know!)

Lunch hour – we all need to be refreshed but we can use our lunch time to pursue an interest we have or to get a bit exercise (freeing up time we wd use later in the day)

Multi Task – we are a nation of mult-taskers, or so we think.  They number of people who cannot perform two routine tasks simultaneously is astounding.  Learn to do it NOW!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Blog, improvement, productivity, success, Time management

Saving Time – Ways to Save Time

As promised, I have concrete, time saving ideas that actually work!

These free, practical suggestions apply to both your work and personal life.

To get your free copy via email, please subscribe to my blog (its free as well).  You will also receive all new posts via email automatically.

You will not receive any offers, advertisements, spam etc.

Note – Current subscribers will receive it

automatically.

So, pick up time now!

Leave a Comment

Filed under improvement, productivity, success, Time management

Slackers – How to Handle Them

We know them, they are in the office,  are in our department, they are everywhere.

They are the slackers. They do little, hide a lot and get by while aggravating the hell out of us.

Slackers take credit for work done by others, pretending to have contributed.

Slackers are experts at appearing to be busy and engaged.  We may all get equal credit or pay but the reality is that in a group of five, at least one will not make any meaningful contribution.

Take the Slack Out

The only way to deal with the slackers in our midst is by a combination of tight management and encouragement.

First, we must have an honest but polite discussion. Preferably one on one, but if you are on a team or group of some sorts, you can have a meeting and bring the topic up.   Keep it on business terms, don’t attack the person.

Try language like the following;

We need everyone to participate equally in this department or on this project.  It is not only fair but essential to have everyone share the work.  Otherwise, we will be unable to accomplish our goals and will make appropriate changes to address the failures of those responsible. Make it clear there will be harsh consequences for failing to contribute meaningfully.

With the warning in place, you need to designate, if in management or request such from a manager, a specific task and a corresponding time line for completion.  When you designate to a known slacker, you must be definitive in what and when it is expected.  If you leave anything unclear you can be sure they will exploit it.

It may be easier, though tedious, to break down the task into tiny components with corresponding timelines, or to hand feed each piece.  That leaves the slacker with very little wiggle room.  You should engage the slacker, being sure they acknowledge they have what they need to do the task at hand.  Then you need to monitor the progress according to the time line set.

Document any failures, you will need them.

If you are not in a management position then you must get the evidence and be tactful.   Ask for a review or meeting and during that time of feedback you can say you are being held back by someone who is not carrying their weight.  This is a time to identify the person and specify the failures.    General, wishy-washy complaints will not work.  If you want management to take action give them hard evidence!

The Effort is Worth It

We must acknowledge that in any setting there will be one or two who step up and do the lions share.  That is a fact of life.  However that being said, we should not allow ourselves to be taken advantage.

The main thrust is to grow and improve our situations, failure to address slackers is unacceptable.

If you can either expose a slacker and they contribute or are tossed out, you will reap benefits in productivity, not to mention the stress reduction!

Leave a Comment

Filed under Blog, improvement, integrity, pride, productivity, success