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Hii-yah! Chop that To-Do List.

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Do you have a tremendous to-do list that seems to keep growing instead of shrinking? Prioritizing your to-do list can be the secret to gaining ground and eliminating tasks more effectively, but there are secrets to this process that nobody talks about.

 

Dump Meaningless Tasks

Is today really the day you need to organize all your computer’s files and folders? How are you supposed to get that project done when you’re sorting programs and pictures? Instead of sorting your to-do list right away, take the time to analyze the items on that list and remove those that aren’t needed. Save them for another day, or eliminate them altogether. After all, your collection of paperclips doesn’t need to be sorted by color and size, does it?

 

Tackle Stressful Tasks First

Your productivity may be slowing down because of a feeling of impending doom. Well, perhaps not doom, but rather a sore reminder that you’ll eventually have to complete a task that causes you stress. It’s time to put your game face on and tackle the most stressful task on your list, and what’s more, you’ll be doing it right away. Pick the task that causes you the most anxiety, get it done, and then do the second most stressful task, working your way down the line of tasks until your list is done.

 

Clump Tasks Together

Not only should you tackle stressful tasks first, but you should also try to pick tasks that, as the famous phrase goes, “kill two birds (or more) with one stone.” If a task completed will simultaneously complete another smaller task, that can greatly speed up your productivity. Prioritizing tasks on your to-do list doesn’t have to mean taking them one at a time. For example, if you need supplies for one project that can be found at a store that also has supplies for another project on your plate, get two shopping trips done in one go. One trip versus two trips saves you a lot of time.

 

Time And Energy

Sometimes, prioritizing to-do lists means taking your energy levels into account. The time and energy you have for the day can only go so far, so it may not be possible to tackle larger tasks if you have limited time and resources. If you have several appointments on Tuesday, but you need to design a website for a client that week, it may be best to leave the website building until later. Save those tasks for days when you have more time and energy to dedicate to your to-do list. You’ll do it faster, better and with less stress!

 

 

 

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Hey Entrepreneurs! (Cheap) Labor for Hire!

Willworkforwillworkforfood

Just a few years ago, entrepreneurs struggled to find affordable help for their startup business. Marketing costs took over most of the budget, while companies remained understaffed due to lack of funds for hiring. Although many businesses succeeded despite these shortcomings, there were others who weren’t able to keep going and had to close their doors, so what has changed in recent years?

 

Businesses are finding financial salvation in what’s called the “gig economy.” Almost 54 million people in the United States alone are now freelancers. Several sites have emerged that act as third-parties for these freelancers, offering hosting services for a small commission, while allowing them to offer their services for a fraction of what businesses would normally charge. Many sites like these exist now, but you can read about the best ones below.

 

UpWork

 

UpWork is very much like a regular business, but it’s on a project-by-project basis. Freelancers create a profile on the site and cover letters to potential buyers. As the buyer, you get to choose which freelancer is the best candidate for the job you have, which you list for a price you decide. If you only have a budget of $20, you’ll only get applications from those willing to do the work for that price. This is quite useful for anyone on a shoestring budget that still wants quality work. Each UpWork freelancer will have to provide accomplishments and skill sets before you consider hiring them.

 

Freelancer

 

The site’s name certainly doesn’t leave any confusion for those wondering what it’s about. What makes Freelancer great is that you can post a job listing and receive bids from freelancers to get the best price. Granted, this is only viable for those who don’t need the work done immediately, but you’ve got a much better shot at getting the best price if you’re willing to wait. Of course, you can always hire the first or second person to send you a bid – it’s up to you. Buyers must put up payment before the freelancer starts work on the project, and payments are only released after you’re satisfied with the work.

 

TaskRabbit

 

Hiring a local freelancer not only helps your local community, but there’s also an advantage to having one in a town near you. TaskRabbit lets you hire freelancers within a certain proximity to do your errands for you. This can be anything from cleaning your house to shopping for groceries. TaskRabbit does very thorough background checks on its taskers, and each freelancer lists their hourly rates for a particular service. The site has 19 major cities that host TaskRabbit’s services, but you can hire taskers from the Virtual (anywhere) option. Although the “anywhere” option has fewer taskers available, more and more freelancers are popping up and should soon give buyers more variety.

 

Postmates

 

Courier services are still in fashion, and Postmates delivers – literally. Several dozen cities host Postmates’ services and allow anyone to hire a courier to deliver packages in under an hour. This highly  localized strategy creates a competitive market for big brands like FedEx, UPS and the USPS. After all, who wants to pay $60 for rush delivery when someone can drive it there in under an hour for cheap? Of course, each courier has to go through some pretty strict background checks to get hired by Postmates. It can be difficult to get in, but freelancers can earn up to $25/hour by driving or biking around delivering packages. That’s a pretty sweet deal for everyone involved.

 

Fiverr

 

What could be better than hiring someone to raise your SEO score for only $5? Fiverr uses a basic gig model that starts at $5 and can be built upon to upwards of $10,000 or more. Don’t be turned off by the maximum selling price, however; many users still offer gigs for the usual $5. You can find pretty much anything on Fiverr, from blog writing services to custom paintings to birthday videos. The wide variety makes for some interesting gigs, and some of them can be a bit odd, but that’s the power of freelancing. Fiverr uses a payment system that accepts PayPal, credit cards or Bitcoin. Sellers can request payment through Fiverr funds (which allow them to purchase on the site), direct deposit or Paypal.

 

Guru

 

Guru lets you search by task for freelancers offering those services. Vice versa, freelancers can also search for job listings posted by buyers to customize their workload, so it works out very well for both sides. Much like UpWork, freelancers create a profile and list their qualifications for potential buyers. Payments are made/received using either the site’s invoicing system or SafePay. SafePay is the most popular option because it allows for international payments that are given only after the buyer is satisfied with the job. This level of insurance protects both buyer and seller, as the buyer has to put up the money through SafePay before hiring a freelancer.

 

Other sites like Uber, Lyft and Airbnb provide transportation and accomodation services for those requesting them. Freelancers can be found for pretty much any job, but companies looking for help with technology, writing services and design work will get the most use out of sites like UpWork and Fiverr. The gig economy is taking off, and companies looking to balance their budget should consider using these helpful sites to slice their costs in half.

 

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9 Ways to Learn a Language Fast!

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You want to learn a new language, but you don’t have the time or money to go to language classes. You also don’t want to have to wait months to use your language skills. So, how can you learn a language fast without access to a classroom?

By following these 9 methods and you will be bonjour-ing, hola-ing,
and 您好ing before you know it.

#1-Choose the Right Words

Most people think you need to know every word in a language to learn it. This is absolutely not true. Start with the most important words in a language (e.g. “where is,” “please,” “thank-you”), and solidify them in your mind. Learning a language quickly is impossible if you try and memorize its dictionary. You’ll learn more words as you go, and native speakers can always explain new terms to you if need be.

#2-In-Cognate-O

What if we told you that you already know some words in your chosen language? Cognates (words that are still similar in different languages) are helpful to know when learning a new language quickly and can be found with a simple Google search. For example, the French word for “impossible” is the same as the English one, but it’s pronounced a little differently. This makes it easy to remember and gives you a head start on whatever language you’re studying.

#3-Immerse Yourself

Interacting using your chosen language is important to cement it in your head, and this needs to be done daily. However, you don’t have to travel all the way to another country. Watching TV shows or listening to music in the language helps, but it’s even better if you couple that reading it. News broadcasts in a different language should be chosen over TV shows because they have less slang, but either one is still a valuable learning tool.

#4-Chat With a Native

With a communication between countries being easier in recent years, it’s fairly simple to connect with someone whose native language is the one you’re learning. Using Skype or FaceTime for a few minutes each day will allow you to talk with a native speaker who knows the language inside and out. They can also answer any questions you may have about the finer points of learning. Even if you aren’t fluent yet, practicing speaking with someone who is will help expand your vocabulary and grammar skills.

#5-Mnemonics Are Your Friend

Mnemonics is a word association technique that helps you remember certain words using a clever sentence or story. An example of this can be seen in the Russian word for “tea,” which is “chai.” Using mnemonics, you can help you remember the word for “tea” by using this sentence: “I wouldn’t drink that for all the TEA in CHIna.” Both words, in English and Russian, are in the sentence to help you associate them with each other.

#6-Accept Your Mistakes

Language learners often get frustrated when they make mistakes. This perfectionistic attitude can cause them to give up on the language because they feel that these mistakes have stunted them. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Mistakes are the human way of learning, and native speakers aren’t going to shun you because you messed up a word or even an entire conversation. Fluent speakers realize that you’re still learning, and they’ll be more inclined to help you than to berate you for your ignorance. Accept that you won’t be perfect right off the bat, and you’ll be better equipped to deal with your mistakes.

#7-Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

If and when you’re able to travel to the country that speaks the language you’re learning, you’ll soon find that tourists are easily identifiable by their own country’s habits, both spoken and unspoken. Make your best effort to adopt the cultural and social norms of a foreign country, but pay special attention to your accent. Speaking Japanese in an English accent not only sounds horrible, but it makes you difficult to understand. Use the proper accent from the start, especially when following step #4.

Personal tip: When I was learning to speak Spanish and I wanted to have a  Mexican accent, instead of sweating over every single syllable of pronunciation, I simply pretended I was a Mexican. You can picture someone, either famous or known personally and play like you are acting a role starring them. Example, Selma Hayek or Marion Cotillard (French).

#8-Have Goals

Learning a language quickly is a relative term unless you clearly lay out specific, realistic goals. You may be going on a business trip in a month and need to learn the basics of business conversation. Set a goal for every week that puts you at a certain level in that time. When you meet that goal, congratulate yourself on your accomplishment and move on to the next one. It’s the same principle as when you were in school. You didn’t have your final exam without having a series of study sessions and review tests first. The same principle needs to be followed when it comes to languages.

#9-Progress Makes Perfect

No one has ever mastered an entire language completely, not even native speakers. Think about all the questions you still have about your own language and realize that other language speakers have this problem as well. There’s always something new to learn. When learning a new language, make sure you’re progressing each time you use it. Conversations with native speakers in the language you’re learning will slowly get smoother, but don’t stop once you’ve reached their level. A language not used will soon be forgotten.

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How to be Street Smart Like Charlie Kelly

This post is the first in a series I will start featuring called Readers’ Choice, where I write about subjects my readers have suggested.

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Street Smarts

Being “street smart” is a term we don’t really stop to examine. And no, it’s not just something idiots say after bombing the SAT. It’s actually a very valuable set of intellectual skills that everyone should be equipped with at least to some extent.

And yes, it’s more than just knowing the bus schedule.

crabman street smart

If you Google “street smarts” it gives the definition as, having the experience and knowledge necessary to deal with the potential difficulties or dangers of life in an urban environment.

Compare this to a person who is “book smart” and is able to learn concrete concepts and apply them. In other words, someone with book smarts can memorize and regurgitate information–which certainly has its functions.

However, a person with street smarts has honed their ability to both assess their options, and figure out how to solve or get out of a problem. More important, they can do this on the fly.

Take for example the character Charlie Kelly from one of my favorite shows It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.

Charlie Kelly 1

This guy is the epitome of a street smart individual. As part owner of an Irish dive bar in a rough section of Philadelphia, Charlie is the man that keeps things running.

Although he is illiterate and can only write in his made-up version of hieroglyphics, Charlie is the go-to guy when it comes to navigating through conflict.

So why is Charlie so good, and what can we learn from him?

Well…

Charlie is aware of his surroundings.

Charlie Kelly 2

Whether he’s hanging out with his bridge people (as in the structure, not the card game) or traveling through the city sewer system, Charlie is always aware of the dangers that lurk in any situation, and he comes prepared.

Like when he hears the sound of water and knows the sewer is flooding–what does he do? Strips down and holds his clothes above his head. That way when he gets back to the surface, his clothes won’t be dirty. Genius!

So, like Charlie, when you know you’re going to be somewhere if-y, do your research, know exactly where you’re going and have an escape plan if things go wrong. This could be as simple as knowing the location of a gas station you can run to or how to apply a Krav Maga style hammer fist to a dude’s face.

Charlie has people skills.

Charlie Kelly 3

Whenever Charlie encounters someone less than caliber he knows how to talk to them without getting into an altercation. Whether it’s the mob or a hostile drug dealer, he knows how to play his cards right and avoid taking a beating. Unlike his friends Mac and Cricket.

If you ever encounter someone shady and they try to talk to you, say “hi,” be polite, but don’t invite conversation. Don’t show fear, otherwise you’ll seem like an easy target.

Charlie knows how to blend in.

Charlie Kelly 5

Mainly it’s because he’s poor and never buys clothes. He prefers to patch up his old stuff with a needle and thread–another valuable skill.

But you and I can learn from this. If you’re ever going to be in a rough neighborhood, try not to stand out. Don’t wear your nice clothes. Avoid name brands and solid colors as it might be construed as gang wear.

And ladies, keep the boob-age in check.

Charlie knows how to play it cool.

Charlie Kelly 4

Bums, meth-heads, muggers. You name it, Charlie’s seen it. And probably served it a beer or two. Charlie shows no fear, and neither should you.

On the mean streets you may run into some shady people doing shady business. You may accidentally witness a drug exchange. What’s worse, the dealer might see you witness his sale (which happened to me once). What do you do in this situation? Play it cool.

Try and look like you’ve never been so bored in your life. Parading prostitutes? Don’t care. A mugging? No big deal. Car jacking? Meh. Just an everyday exchange in my neighborhood.

That’s the kind of attitude you need to have. Don’t make trouble.

If you want to be a good Samaritan then memorize the perpetrator’s features and call the police when you are in a safe area.

Having an understanding of the sort of people you’ll be encountering is essential. Obviously social norms vary from place to place and it’s up to you to gauge the area or person and act accordingly.

Based on my research, I’ve concluded that the most important aspect of street smarts is a deeply engrained set of people skills. It’s not just knowing how to get away from danger, but also knowing who to call when you need something. Need your car fixed on the cheap? I got a guy I trust. He’ll give you a deal.  Plumbing problems?  My cousin’s got a friend who’s a plumber. He’ll take care you.

Ideally it’s best to have a bit of both worlds. You need the yin and the yang. Having a combination can help you handle difficult problems, even in the workplace. By having a bookish understanding of the concepts and applying a little street smart creativity, you will probably stumble upon some “outside the box” solutions.

And it also doesn’t hurt to know the bus schedule.

 

 

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5 Chores You Can Stop Doing

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Some days it seems that the 24 hours given to us are just not enough. As our heads hit the pillow we find ourselves wishing we had just a little more time to get everything done, but heck, even if we did have the time, where would we find the energy?

Between cooking, cleaning and grocery shopping, time just seems to slip through our fingers. After getting sick of being weighed down by my daily to-do list, I finally sat down and brainstormed ways that I could automate some of my more time consuming chores pretty much to the point where I’m not even doing them anymore.

This has freed up my schedule tremendously, and I highly recommend you adopt these habits as well.

Here are the chores with the corresponding tools that have helped me cut some of life’s more menial tasks.

1. Cooking-Crockpot

This tip takes my #1 spot for a good reason. Crockpot cooking is one of the best things I started doing. All you do is throw in some protein, water, veggies and spices if you like, and you’re done. It’s so easy and your meat comes out fall-off-the-bone tender and juicy. I can’t believe I lived so many years eating rubbery chicken from the oven.

Tip: For added tenderness, do not freeze your meat, but instead cook it immediately. It makes a WORLD of difference.

Also, don’t be afraid to buy two or even three crockpots if you are busy and have some major cooking. This three holer is great for families. Click here.

I use this for all my weekly premade meals. And  because these meals are a huge t-saver and could be a blog all their own, I’ve listed my recipes here.

2. Chopping vegetables-Food processor

Speaking of recipes, that brings us to the veggies. Keeping chopped vegetables (think white onions, green onions, bell peppers, tomatoes) on hand is a fantastic way of saving time in so many ways. For one, it makes it easy to throw together a quick meal by taking some protein, beans and veg and tossing them in a bowl. Healthy, balanced meal=done.

Having some meat and chopped veggies ready to go also helps your kids or significant other be more independent in their personal food prep. Translation: They get off the what’s-for-dinner-train and feed themselves. If they whine tell them to pretend they’re at Chipotle.

So if you want some help with preparing your veggies, I would highly recommend investing in a food processor or any other chopping gadget.

I once timed myself to see how long it took me to chop sweet potatoes and onions for dinner. TWENTY MINUTES! Not to be dramatic, but that is a lifetime, especially since they are a staple in my family. So me being a stickler for time, I got a food processor. Big difference. Now I’m able to chop and slice like Edward Scissor hands.

One thing to note: If you are wanting to slice sweet potatoes, which are much harder than regular, white potatoes, then you are going to want to get the expensive big boy food processor (cost: ~$200). However, there is also the option of buying an industrial sweet potato slicer (cost around $65) and fastening it to your counter or wall. A good one by Tiger Chef can be purchased here. It comes with suction cups so you don’t have to drill into your wall.

3. Vacuuming and mopping-Roomba and other iRobots

Oh the eternal wrestling match between you and your home. Keeping a clean house can be a full time job—if you let it. Although this could (and will) be a another blog, I will keep the focus on vacuuming in this bullet point.

I can’t tell you how much I hate vacuuming. It’s hard. It’s heavy. It literally sucks. My mom, who must have gotten sick of the struggle too, bought herself a Roomba vacuum cleaner and loved it so much she got one for me too. Thanks, Ma!

Can I just please say that the Roomba is A-to-the-MAZING?

irobot_roomba_650_1

You set it up to clean an area (remove electronic cords and anything else that might impair it), press the Clean button and go!

The bless-ed contraption even plays chipper tones indicating it has completed the job.

And it gets everything–including pet hair.

Their website also carries other fantastic iRobot devices such as the Scooba Floor Scrubber, Braava Floor Mopper, Mirra Pool Cleaner, and Looj Gutter Cleaner. Sounds like a Swedish orgy, and I want in.

The Roomba will cost you anywhere between $400 for the lower grade up to $900 for the high end guy.

Expensive? Yes. However, think about how much time you spend cleaning your floors, daily or weekly forever and ever until you die. Is that how you want to spend your life? With this robot, you could have your floors (both hardwood and carpet) cleaned every single day with the push of a button. And maybe you could check on Amazon or Craig’s List for some cheaper or second hand robots.  I have the lowest end Roomba and it works great. To me, it’s worth the investment.

4. Dusting, scrubbing, wiping, spider killing-Maid

The iRobot not for you? You want the whole shebang? Then check out Groupon for surprisingly affordable maid services. They have some great deals out there. Plus, when you sign up to use a company for repeated visits—weekly, bi-weekly, monthly they almost always offer discounts. You can even have a team come in once a year for that heavy-duty spring cleaning.

5. Grocery Shopping-Amazon Prime, Amazon Prime Now, Amazon Pantry

I paid the $99 for a year of Amazon Prime (which comes out to $8.25/month) and have been killin’ it with the free two-day shipping. Now I wonder how I survived without it.

For one, you can find virtually ANYTHING on Amazon. I use Prime and have subscribed to automatic, reoccurring orders which makes them cheaper. What do I order? Organic baby food, diapers, wipes, dog food, shampoo/conditioner, toilet paper, paper towels, K-cups—pretty much everything I used to get at Walmart.

Amazon Pantry is the same idea except you can order food items and have it all sent for a flat fee of $5.99.

amazon pantry

Amazon Prime Now is just like regular Prime except you can pay an extra $7.99 to have the items brought to you in 1-2 hours, however it’s only available in certain areas.

Automating even a few errands can do wonders for relieving your bogged down schedule. Another benefit is that it takes items off the old mental checklist which frees up brain space.

I’m sure that if you look at your calendar or to do list you will be able to think up ways you can automate some of those items. Don’t just stop with ideas. Take the extra step and implement them! By doing so, you can take your life from being a series of tics on a check list and transform it into a well-oiled machine.

Here are a few other automating ideas that might work for your household:

Bill pay, Dog food/water dispenser, doggie door, teach your kids to do some things for themselves—up coming blog! If you want to get extreme, how about permanent, tattooed makeup. Has anyone done this? I’d love to hear about your experience!

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Easy Crockpot Weekly Meal Plans

These are the ingredients you will need to prepare all three meals listed below:

baby spinach, romaine lettuce (stalks), white onion, red onion,  tomato, bell peppers, cilantro (or premade tabbouleh), 1 package of diced Portobello mushrooms

plain greek yogurt (watch out for sugar)

Italian salad dressing

2 chicken taco seasoning packets

hummus (optional, but a good idea)

olive oil, lemon juice

garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, rosemary, salt, pepper

canned white beans

canned black beans

Preparation:

Chop or dice the following ingredients and refrigerate in separate storage containers.

white onion, tomato, bell peppers, cilantro (or premade tabbouleh)

Next you will prepare the protein which will be your base when you mix and match the meals.

Shredded Southwest Chicken

 Place 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast into crockpot.

Add just enough water to where the breasts are half submerged.

Add 2 packets of any brand of chicken taco seasoning.

Cover pot, cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6-8.

Note: When the chicken is partially ready and you are able to break it up, use a fork to partially shred the chicken and then finish cooking. Once the chicken is fully cooked you can finish shredding. Or if you want to be really Chipotle like, cut the finished chicken into cubes.

Make it a meal:

Throw together chicken, black beans, white onions, bell peppers, salsa,  romaine lettuce, tomatoes and anything you’d like. But be mindful of carbs and sugars.

Greek Chicken

Cut 3  pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast into one inch cubes and place in crockpot.

Add just enough water to where the breasts are half submerged.

Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 3 tablespoons of lemon juice

Add 2 tablespoons each of garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, thyme, rosemary

Add 1 tablespoon of salt and pepper.

Cover pot, cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6-8.

Note: Traditionally the chicken should be grilled, but I prefer mine slow cooked for tenderness.

Make it a meal:

Throw together chicken, Greek yogurt, tabbouleh, red onions, hummus, bell peppers.

Portobello Mushroom Chicken

 Place 3 pounds of boneless, skinless chicken breast into crockpot.

Add just enough water to where the breasts are half submerged.

Add 7 ounces of Italian salad dressing.

Add mushrooms (however many you prefer).

Cover pot, cook on high for 3 hours or low for 6-8.

Note: When the chicken is partially ready and you are able to break it up, use a fork to partially shred the chicken and then finish cooking.  Once the chicken is fully cooked you can finish shredding, or  you can leave the breasts whole.

Make it a meal.

Throw together chicken, canned white beans, and baby spinach in a bowl. Yum-yum. You can even add white onions if your heart so desires.

 

So there you have it. 3 easy crockpot meals you can make for the week. Also, if you prefer beef, you can replace any of them with a roast. I’d ask your butcher for recommendations. Also, for the Southwest recipe, you can do the same thing on the stove with ground beef. Easy peezy!

If anyone else out there has some good crockpot recipes, please leave them in the comment section.

 

 

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6 Reasons to Stop Arriving Early

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It seems absurd. It goes against your mother’s advice. If you want to get ahead you’ve got to get in early. I mean, what about the early bird catching the worm?

But who really wants a worm?

Like many pearls of traditional advice, this one requires further examination. And as a person who hates to be kept waiting, hates showing up too early and is pro-fashionable lateness, I have made observations over the years that has solidified my premise that it is better to be on time or err on the side of lateness than to be always early.

 Here are 6 reasons why:

1. You are telling people that your time isn’t valuable.

Think about it. If you are chronically early and waiting—waiting on your blackberry for your boss, waiting at the restaurant for a lunch date, waiting on your friend’s couch while she rushes to finish getting ready—then what are people eventually going to think? Miss Early Bird must not have jack crap going on in her life. Meanwhile, that person is busy so they are automatically going to deduce that their time is more valuable than yours—since you have so dang much that you’ve made a hobby of cooling your heels.

 

2. It isn’t productive.  

My friends know how much I loathe wasting time. And if you ask why then you are subjecting yourself to my impassioned soapbox speech about how time is truly the only non-renewable resource, how we could die at any moment and that every time you waste a minute a terrorist gets its wings.

And why is that? Because I am trying to balance all the busy-work life throws at me (laundry, dishes, oil change) with the real productive work I’d rather be doing, such as writing and building my e-book business. So, I NEED to be productive, and you probably do too if you are reading this blog.

Therefore, in order to be at your peak productivity, you need to stop showing up 15 minutes early to everything because if you’re doing it chronically, then you are literally wasting hours and hours a week.

Think of all you can do with that time.

3. You set yourself up to ALWAYS be waiting.   

Most of us schedule our lives with a very small buffer in between tasks, and by small I’m talking about a 5 minute window. Between work meetings, emails and those lasts minute phone calls (not to mention the traffic around that fender bender on 12th street), we are lucky to get anywhere on time. Therefore, people need that 5 minute buffer. In writing this blog I went back through my text messages from times when I was meeting up with my group of girlfriends. What did I find? A lot of Running behind! Be there in ten. Traffic is awful. Start without me! Followed by responses like: No worries. The hostess hasn’t even seated us.

Everyone is running late. The world is running late.

Need proof? Think of your doctor’s office, dentist’s, optometrist’s, canine spiritual consultant’s. What do they all have? Waiting Rooms! Think about what you do at restaurants, Starbucks, subway stations. You wait! Don’t voluntarily exacerbate the problem.

People, all people, from your boss to your bartender, are rushing to catch up. You can’t change their circumstance. You can’t change traffic. You can’t change them. You can only change yourself.

4. It kills your energy.  

I’m sure it’s happened to everyone. For whatever reason, you arrive at a party, sporting event, or movie premiere way too early. You’re really jazzed about the evening that lays before you. Momentum is building. When is everyone going to show? What time is it now? And now? That’s when the climax begins to rise and whatever you’re waiting on gets pushed to pedestal heights.

When the big moment finally comes and it’s kickoff time, you are elated. About *%$# time! You think. However what inadvertently happens next? All that energy can’t be sustained and it starts to dissipate. Consequently, by halftime, you are tired. By third quarter, you are ready to call it a day. The event becomes anti-climatic and it zaps your energy.

5. Your colleagues won’t like you. 

Nobody likes a boss’ pet. Think about how you are portraying yourself when you are incessantly early. You’ve unwittingly made it into a competition. A competition you make damn sure you’re going to win. You’re like that kid on the playground that calls for a race and then before anyone can blink shouts “Go!” to get a head start. No one wants to play with that kid. And your colleagues are the ones you spend over 40 hours a week with (not to mention happy hours and Christmas parties), so you need to get along with these people.

6. It bothers your friends.

So, if your friend shows up to lunch on time and finds out you’ve been sipping soda for 15 minutes, it makes him feel rushed, guilty and probably a bit irritated.

People hate showing up on time and already feeling late. ESPECIALLY in social situations that are supposed to be light and enjoyable.

Really, being chronically early is a passive aggressive form of rudeness. How? If you keep purposely showing up early over and over again the other person begins to feel like you are trying to lead by example and send them a message: Hurry your rear up and get here sooner. Your friends do not want to be herded.

And now an argument from the other side.

Yeah but being early is better than being late all the time.

Is it?

Maybe. But not in my experience. Especially when you keep it within a 5 minute window and apply a little common sense. Being on time/5 minutes “late” (And even 5 minutes early. There, I said it.) to coffee is fine. You can wait, your friend will wait, however your bus driver will not.

It’s also a good rule of thumb that in anything work related, your best bet is to be right on time. However, I can guaran-dang-tee you that in most instances, the big boss will cruise in late.

And to be 100% honest, I am a person who has always, always, always shown up places a little late (excluding the common sense exceptions mentioned above), and I cannot think of a single time in my life that I have had the experience of, Oh no, I really regret not showing up on the dot. Ever. But I can think of many times I’ve been left waiting in the cold for someone/something with nothing to warm myself except the growing fire of my fury.

Therefore, I believe we can all benefit from erring on the side of fashionable lateness.

After all, it’s like the saying goes: Haters gonna hate. Waiters gonna wait.

 

 

1

Why Going to the Gym can be a BIG FAT Waste of Time

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It used to be our routine. The moment my husband walked through our door I’d begin rushing around, trying to get him up to speed on the feeding/napping status  of our baby girl so he could watch her while I went to the gym.

One day I was especially flustered and frustrated with my diminishing window of time. The litany of tasks that stood between me and my workout stacked like barriers in my head. Milk for the baby, shoes, gym bag, membership card, water bottle, car keys. Drive to gym, park, walk in, scan card, get on treadmill…

Suddenly I stopped in my tracks. “Why am I going to the gym?” I asked my husband. Perhaps he, who is a professional athlete and expert exerciser, could think of some reason I needed to be there. Oh they’ve got great equipment. There’s this certain machine that works out this one hard to reach muscle that if stimulated will make you lose a million pounds.

Instead he looked at me and said, “Drop and give me 20.”

I did. Mostly to prove that I could. But I got his point.

My toning and weight loss did not begin as soon as I got to the gym. It began as soon as I started working.

In other words, the faster I got to the free weights the sooner I began to reach my goals.

This brings me to my point. Most of us are wasting massive amounts of time by getting tied up with the process of going to the gym.

Just look at all the negative factors that we have to hurdle just to begin our workout:

-start driving

-get gas

-fight traffic

-find a parking place

-wait to use machinery

-cost

Until we finally reach the positive factors:

+do bench press

+kettle bell swings

etc.

And then we have to go back up the list to get home.

According to studies by Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Florida State University, willpower is like a muscle, the more you use it, the more it gets tired. Kelly McGonigal Ph.D., author of The Willpower Instinct writes that, “Many things you wouldn’t typically think of as requiring willpower also rely on—and exhaust—this limited well of strength.” McGonigal goes on to explain that anything one does that requires self-control can deplete willpower. This includes sitting through a long meeting or having a stressful commute.

In other words if we make our workouts, which should be enjoyable and stress-relieving, into a tedious obstacle course of minutia, then it doesn’t make it very easy to comply for the long term. This could lead to skipped sessions here and there on some of our busier days which eventually lead to quitting.

So why not just “drop and give me 20” and do our workouts at home?

There are plenty of excuses.

They have these machines I like.

 Yeah, well most of them either don’t really work or are unnecessary. The same muscles can be worked with free weights or through calisthenics. I prefer a combination of the two along with kettle bell swings.

Well there’s this Zumba class…

Buy a video!

Yeah, but treadmills are expensive.

 Seriously? Get outside! I’ve run in Phoenix 115° and Toronto 2°. It’s never too hot or too cold to run/walk outdoors (Medical issues aside. Consult your physician). Why on God’s green earth are you paying $50 bucks a month to use a treadmill? And if you insist that you really need one, then you can lease it from Leaseville.com for only $52 a month, and your compliance rate will be much higher. treadmill

Look, I’m sure you can think of many good reasons to go to the gym, however you need to stop and be brutally honest with yourself. How many times did you complete your work out this week? Last week? The week prior? If it’s any less than 3 then you are probably not going get the noticeable results you want.

In fact, according to a 2010 poll by the American Psychological Association, only 15% of adults were successful at beginning a regular fitness program. APA article

The truth is, gym memberships can become just another way for people to try and buy their goals instead of earn them. That’s why we have 30 different diet books collecting dust on our shelves, and yet we’re still carrying that extra tire. It’s the reason we see more LuLu’s than Levi’s. It’s the reason Victoria Secret launched a new workout line. Is it because we are getting fitter as a nation? Nope. It’s just more fun to buy than to earn.

Now, I understand that some people are more advanced in their fitness (like my husband). Some are collegiate or professional athletes who need access to a lot of different, expensive equipment, but these are the exceptions.

I’m going to assume that most of you are like me: an average person who’s not here to win any competitions. I’m just a mom who wanted to shed those last five pounds of baby weight and obtain my ideal body.

And the general population is the same. The vast majority of us have simple goals when it comes to our physique. Be healthy, lose a few, get rid of pain, sprout some abs and a set of pythons.

Guess what. You do not need an army of equipment to achieve this! In fact this pursuit can be a huge waste of time. It’s the equivalent of braving IKEA because you need a napkin ring.

Look, if you are serious about reaching your goals then you need to be honest about how you spend (or waste) your time. Are you taking an hour getting to and from your workout? Then you may find the number of days per week you hit the weights dropping until you look at yourself in the mirror and realize it’s been a month since you’ve laced up your Nike’s.

To prevent this you need to evaluate your workout and come up with a plan on how you’re going to get down to business sooner. If your regimen consists of a 30 minute jog followed by abs, then replace that with a run around the neighborhood and finish up on a yoga mat in the living room.

Are you more into taking classes followed by some serious arm toning? Download some classes to do at home or even in the office. Youtube has a great selection (fo free!). You can also find some good prices on free weights at Walmart or online. I prefer the adjustable dumbbells since they are compact and being a hockey wife, I move houses A LOT. You can find the ones I use here or for heavier sets, search on Amazon.

My go-to strategy is to do kettlebell swings while my baby is sleeping. video of proper form

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying there are zero benefits to hitting the gym. I understand there are social aspects people enjoy. Maybe it’s a good way to get out of the house. However you need to be honest about your progress. And the truth is, you may be forking over that membership every month for the wrong reasons, and your waist line is paying the price.

Working out in the bedroom with Dora the Explorer in the background may not be sexy, but if you’re busy then you’ve got to make do. Will you miss going to Transcendent Jazzercise and showing off your new Lulu’s to Becky Mac-Jawbone? Maybe. But probably not if you get to reach your goals faster and save a boat load. In reality, which is more important?

So now…Drop and give me 20!

If you are interested in checking out my home workout, leave me a comment and I will post it.