Monthly Archives: April 2010

Make It Easy On Yourself

30 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

“Sure, go ahead. Take the easy way out.” At one point or another in your life, I’m positive either you’ve said this to someone, or had someone say this to you.

Taking the easy way out paints you as a slacker, a shirker, a lazy-assed Captain Slacktastic unwilling and unable to step up and do the job. It’s simply unacceptable — Un-American, even. But what do you think happens when you turn this idea on its head?

Hard work is not the only way to go – of course, hard work is unavoidable and, but smart work is what’s needed too. Know yourself.

  • If you’re the type who works best in short bursts of energy, accept it and work with it. There’s no point to forcing yourself to slog through hours of half-hearted effort.
  • If you feel exhausted and burnt-out, then by all means ease up, it’s counterproductive to work harder. Many people have high levels of energy, it goes to follow that there are also many people with low levels of energy. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way you’re wired. Accept it and work with it.
  • If you’re excitable and get distracted easily, then you can try and arrange a quiet, distraction-free place to work, whatever lets you do what you need.
  • If you perform better at certain times of the day (or night), work with it. Night-owls and early birds have their spots in the schedule, know when you’re at your best in the day and use that time for the high-value tasks.

Continue reading Make It Easy On Yourself

Actions Lead to Consequences

28 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

It’s a sad truth that we generally spend more time spinning day-dreams than laying-out the steps to make these dreams come true, and even less time actually taking these steps.

Admittedly, dreaming cost us nothing. You can day-dream about whatever you want, wherever and whenever you want.

Acting on your dreams, on the other hand, can cost you a lot. That’s why it’s can be so uncomfortable and nerve-wracking to take action, because it involves risks, consequences and the possibility of failure. Emphasis on consequences. (And the possibility of failure.)

Actions lead to consequences. You want a particular consequence, you have to commit to the particular set of actions needed to get that particular consequence.
Continue reading Actions Lead to Consequences

Protecting Yourself On-line 2

26 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

Here are more links with security tips, this time with great stuff from Lifehacker.com.

On passwords:

Assorted phishing and protection tips:

Continue reading Protecting Yourself On-line 2

Protecting Yourself On-line

23 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

Here’s a little compilation of useful articles from an excellent resource, MakeUseOf.com, to give you a few helpful suggestions on more secure browsing and internet use.

Whether you’re doing business or buying stuff, you can check out the following articles for safety tips on account security and credit card protection.

Your kids need to keep safe as well, and here are a few suggested sites you can visit for more information on how to do so: Continue reading Protecting Yourself On-line

How To Manage Your Stress 2

21 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

Continuing from part 1:

No matter where it comes from, stress generally can come from the feeling that you’re being controlled ( when you suffer the lack of personal choice, or feel that you’re a puppet), or feeling out of control (as in having run out, being pushed past your limits; having no power to change the situation, or that you don’t having a handle on things — and reacting by flying off the handle).

However you perceive it, you feel at the mercy of things outside you, and the way you handle things internally decides how stressful the situation is.

Notice what happened there? Outside events influence your internal state. To manage your stressors and your stress, you need to be able to change that kind of viewpoint around, and take the focus from outside influence to inner decisions. This is a shift in locus and focus.

Side note: You might find our two-part special on Focus and Planning ( part one and part two) helpful reading.

Internal locus is, in this sense, being centered.

What’s outside you is quite literally outside your control, but not always out of your influence, so it’s up to you to decide how things can go, using what influence you do possess, and then not get too attached to the results.

Attachment is also a source of stress — the emotional over-investment can drag you under if the results aren’t exactly what you wanted or expected. Continue reading How To Manage Your Stress 2

How To Manage Your Stress

19 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

Stress.

Inescapable, ever-present and all too often overwhelming, it is a major cause of billions of man-hours lost to a host of illnesses, lowered productivity, mental fatigue (and even more serious conditions), and just plain more stress.

There are hundreds of web sites and tens of thousands of web pages out there detailing the many ways in which stress is created, how it manifests in us physically, emotionally and psychologically, and how you can deal with it– but reduced to simplest terms the bulk of the advice comes down to one thing.

The feeling of having control.

Not too much control, of course –that in itself is another source of stress– but a realistic and honest understanding of the things you can affect, and the changes you can put into effect. A human control, not one based just on technological know-how and mastery, or only strongly rooted in intellectual understanding, but one managed from the heart.

 

Think of the popular Serenity Prayer, well-known from various 12-Step programs (most notably Al-Anon).

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; The courage to change the things that I can; And the wisdom to know the difference.

Happily enough, there’s another version available, one which is slightly altered from what many think of as the original, and the alterations themselves make a very telling difference. Continue reading How To Manage Your Stress

Good Foundations Are Built At The Start

April 2010, by A. Cedilla

But what if they weren’t?

Experience and history has shown us that the best time to establish a good foundation –for life, for everything– is at the beginning. But history has also show us many, many examples of people who’ve grown up among horrendous conditions and, managing to defy all expectations, went on to live productive, generous lives.

Not everyone is lucky enough to be born to or grow up within a life where they’ll be assured of the most basic necessities, or get a stable, loving family, or live in an environment that’s safe and reliable.

If life dealt you a bad hand, it’s up to you to decide how to play it. If you feel that it’s too late to start, it’s not. As long as you’re still breathing, you can start over. That’s the good thing about being able to change your mind, and we mean that literally, as well as figuratively.

Researchers have estimated it takes about about 4 to 5 weeks, on average, for a person to fully adjust to a new habit. That covers the difficult first few days, and all the times you have to talk yourself into getting up and keeping at it. It also covers the inevitable slips, and the periods where you gain a sense of quiet accomplishment that you managed to stick to it for longer than you thought.

You can start strengthening your foundations now. You can establish a stable structure that can stand you in good stead for a long time, for the rest of you life.

To do it, you’ll need compassion, fortitude, commitment and discipline, as well as a certain cold-bloodedness — let’s call it detachment — to make the changes you need. Plus, you’ll have to get some attitude adjustments.
Continue reading Good Foundations Are Built At The Start

How To Plan For Transitions

14 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

In a recent article, Respecting Your Limits, I stated the following:

“Limits are there for very good reasons. They remind you that you have a physical presence, one rooted in this world, and as such bound by physical laws. For starters, you need to rest, you need to move, and you need to eat. You also need time and energy to do these things. (…) There are just some limits you can’t avoid.”

Just as there are limits we can’t ignore, there are truths we can’t — or at the very least, shouldn’t — hide from.

  • We are not meant to be still.
  • Life is meant to be lived, and living means action.
  • It’s up to you to make those actions meaningful.

Living means action, and action means changing states, whether it’s a) shifting from one state to another on purpose or b) being carried by these changes, as well as getting used to these changing states, to live always in “a state of on-going change.”

Get used to moving to accommodate what’s coming in, and then adjust to let go of what’s leaving.
Continue reading How To Plan For Transitions

Jump! Using Momentum To Deal With Procrastination

12 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

Have you ever watched someone freeze on the dive-board at the swimming pool? It’s something to see.

Usually it’s a kid who just realized just how high the board is over the water, and freezes. From the vantage point of the swimmers in the water, it’s no big deal, just take the step, but for the poor guy staring down, taking that step is inconceivable. Unimaginable. Impossible, just — Aaaugh!

That’s what procrastination is. You freeze before the jump. It’s being stuck on the diving board, wobbling. The wobble is composed of worrying and catastrophizing, self blame, and inertia. You can’t move.

You can’t move.

So what do you do? Start. Start anywhere. Increase the wobble — build up momentum. And then jump.
Continue reading Jump! Using Momentum To Deal With Procrastination

Finishing Early

09 April 2010, by A. Cedilla

In this short follow-up, a companion piece to Start Early, we’ll be supplying some additional advice, meant to apply to the very end of your day.

When the work day draws to a close, it’s usually standard procedure to do a little clean up and arrange your work area for tomorrow. Here are a few things you can do to ease the transition:

When planning for the next day – carry over loose ends from but don’t deal with them first-thing…yet. Some issues will invariably resolve themselves, wait and see. In the meantime:

  • Try out what Cal Newport of Study Hacks does: end your workday with a shutdown ritual.
  • Once you’ve left work, leave it. Let go – drop the pressing issues. Stop carrying them around in your mental backpack. When you get too involved (read:tangled into a corner) you lose perspective, and that can affect your decisions. Let go, and sleep on it. There’s time enough in the next day to deal with things, and by then, who knows, a solution may come from an unexpected source (your subconscious may be working on it even as you dream), or the situation have resolve itself because of an event entirely out of your control.
  • Enjoy the free time you worked for.

That bears repeating, it’s so important. It’s the core reason why you started early. Enjoy the free time you worked for.
Continue reading Finishing Early