Wrapping Up Winter Efficiently

Just when I started to think we may be heading into spring, it snows. That’s Reno for you. It got me thinking about how we can stay efficient in the adverse weather.

The first thing that comes to mind is winterizing your vehicle. Here are a few things to check.

  • Tire pressure and wear – consider using snow or all-weather tires
  • Belts and hoses
  • Battery
  • Antifreeze mixture
  • Wipers
  • Heater

From a time-, money-, and energy-saving standpoint, investing in preventative maintenance is essential. Forking over a few dollars on a worn part now could save you a more expensive repair down the road. You can’t expect anything to run at peak efficiency without it, including your body, like I mentioned in my previous post. If you’re looking for a good place to take your car, check out Roy Foster’s Automotive.

You can also pay attention to being energy efficient at home. There are a number of things you can do to make sure you stay warm, while saving energy, and in turn money for the rest of the cold season.

  • Seal drafts and leaks
  • Shut vents in unused rooms
  • Invest in a programmable thermostat
  • Take advantage of heat from sunlight
  • Bundle up!

For when you have to shovel that white stuff off your driveway, here are a few tips to get it done safely and efficiently.

  • Get a bent handle shovel, or even better, a snow blower!
  • Start slow to warm up your muscles
  • Map out a quick game plan and work methodically
  • Don’t try to throw the snow from wherever you are

And remember, work smart, not hard. Have an idea of what is forecasted. Take into account how much snowfall is expected and the type of snow. If it’s snowing non-stop and it is fairly wet, you should consider shoveling every time you accumulate a couple inches. If it’s snowing in the morning and is expected to get warmer throughout the day, consider skipping shoveling and letting the sun do the work for you.

With the weather acting so weird lately, who knows if this will be our last snow of the season or if our winter is just now starting. It is always good to stay prepared.


Top Productivity Killers and How to Avoid Them

There is only so much time in one day, and it never seems to be enough! But there are some main reasons why your productivity could be suffering. The key will be to learn how to recognize when you are being inefficient and know how to fix it.

Your body has to been running well in order for you to get things done. Even if your spirit is willing, the flesh can be weak.

  • Not getting enough sleep
    • Researchers agree most people need 7-8 solid hours
  • Not getting enough exercise
    • Even JFK said “physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity.”
  • Getting too much exercise – burning yourself out
    • Over-training can have the opposite effect, make sure to give recovery time
  • Not eating a healthy diet
    • Avoid junk foods and trans-fats for a healthier mind and body
  • Not getting enough time to yourself to recharge
    • Taking small breaks throughout the day improves performance
  • Being sick
    • Prevention is key

On the other hand, it is just as important to be mentally healthy. Your mind needs to feel positive emotions and be free of bad stress and concerns.

  • What you’re doing isn’t motivating you
    • It’s important to be happy, excited, and passionate about what you do
  • Personal relationships aren’t harmonious
    • Appreciating your loved ones is one way to remove frictions and frustrations
  • Stressing about your financial situation
    • Manage your budget

  • Having too much on your plate
    • Be realistic about how much time you have in a day (10-12 working hours)
  • Relying on willpower
    • When your motivation is low, habits are what get you through your list

Procrastination is probably the most popular obstacle to productivity. Sometimes it’s too easy to make an excuse to put something off another day.

  • It’s so nice outside
    • Have control over your schedule to rearrange your time to take advantage of beautiful days.
  • There’s no urgency/accountability
    • Set your own deadlines
  • Fear of failure/success
    • Look at each task as an opportunity to learn something
  • Indecision– don’t succumb to perfection paralysis
    • Just start task and modify as you go

You need to know what you want, and how you will get there. Doing the wrong things is very inefficient.

  • You haven’t defined your goals– SMARTly
    • Specific, measureable, attainable, realistic, and time bound goals always!
  • Poor strategy/planning
    • Stay flexible to achieve a stress-reduced balance in your life
  • Handling things more than once
    • Do it, dump it, or delegate it!
  • Disorganization
    • Being disorganized can cost you valuable time (~5 hours per week)
  • Multi-tasking
    • Attention to one task at a time is more productive

Avoiding all of these productivity killers will allow you to make the most of each day. You can read about more productivity killers here.

Value-Based Self Management – Part 2: Effective Planning

ImageMaking better decisions about the use of your time and effort will require planning – daily. If you make this a habit, you will achieve a stress-reduced balance in your life.

Start by creating a list of priority tasks for each day. It also helps to categorize your tasks into the following:

  • Must Do (critical to your values)
  • Should Do (worth spending time on, less critical)
  • Could Do (worth thinking about, if must do’s and should do’s are complete)
  • Urgent (must be done now)

The payoff of any list is being able to cross something off when it’s complete. You should have different completion symbols to signify

  • tasks that are done (check mark)
  • tasks that have been rescheduled (arrow)
  • tasks that have been deleted (X)
  • tasks you have delegated to someone else (O)

And don’t forget to reward yourself! For some, the mere act of crossing off a task is the reward, but it is important to maintain motivation. Focusing only on your daily activities could cause you to lose value focus, because they are not always consistent with your goals. To help this, make sure you create monthly, yearly, and life plans as well.

Another self-management technique you can use to check if you are maintaining good life balance is rating your degree of satisfaction with the progress you are making toward value congruence on a scale of one to ten, for each of your defined values. This will show you where you need to spend more time and effort to maintain good life balance. Feel free to share any other techniques you have found helpful, I would love to hear!

Value-Based Self Management – Part 1: Defining Your Values

Life is a never-ending series of demands upon your time and efforts. People often find themselves trying to juggle their career, family, physical fitness, education, and civic or religious activities. All of these take up your precious time and drain your limited energy. You can take control by choosing to respond to the demands that best meet your true needs. This requires an internal locus of control, which means you believe you have control over what happens to you. Of course, we are all subject to external forces that we cannot control, but much in your life is influenced by you.

So how do you identify your value system? For some, like me, this can be the hardest part. It takes mental effort and some clear thinking, but once established, your personal values define your life’s purpose and provide focus to your life. I suggest making (or finding) a list of values, then check off which values you personally espouse or values that you would be willing to dedicate significant time and energy to pursue. Many values will sound good to you, so make sure to be honest with yourself when choosing.

Shaping these values is a continual process and takes time. You want to focus on how a specific value can become a reality in your life by describing activities that align with that value. For example, if one of your core values is being healthy, some value-aligning activities include exercising regularly, avoiding harmful habits, or getting regular check-ups.

These activities can be written as goals. Goal setting is an important technique that helps focus your efforts. Your goals need to be SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. But most importantly they need to be value-anchored. And, in order for those goals to be reached, you need to have a plan. Stay tuned for the next post where I will discuss planning. In the meantime, start thinking about your personal values!

Increasing Your Quality of Life Through Efficiency

“Efficiency is intelligent laziness” – David Dunham. I love this quote because I feel like laziness is exactly what drives me to be so efficient. If there is a way to complete a task in less time or by doing less work, I’m on board. But, efficiency is such a broad word. It can take on many different meanings the more specific you get.

Henry Ford's Model T

Henry Ford’s assembly line strategy comes to mind as a great example of efficiency. Overall production efficiency was the goal, but in order to obtain that you must look at each individual piece of the production process. To maximize profits, he had to analyze worker efficiency, machine efficiency, efficient use of resources, etc.

As the saying goes, work smart, not hard. I want to share with you ways that I try to be efficient and also provide you ways you can incorporate efficiency into your own life. Some benefits of living an efficient life include:

  • Cutting costs
  • Having more free time
  • Saving energy
  • Less stress

Needless to say, being more efficient creates a sense of joyfulness and accomplishment. For example, I love home improvement projects. Just last weekend my boyfriend and I installed an over-the-range microwave. We have a small kitchen and not only did it add to the aesthetics, but it cleared off so much counter space. It is much more enjoyable to work in now.