Happy LEAP Year!

What are you doing with this extra day?

leap

Image: Clipart.com

Every few years, February gets an extra day. Today happens to be that, so happy LEAP year! I got to thinking…what would you do with one extra day per month?

Chances are, as novel as an extra day a month could be, and the big plans we may have for it, it would eventually flow into the normal routine. Rather like today, which is a typical Monday for many of us.

But because it is technically an extra day, I encourage you to take the LEAP and for today:

Learn something new: good advice for every day, but today, take a moment to read a blog post or a chapter of a helpful book.

Embrace the day you are in: my husband and I look forward to a nice trip coming up later this year. Friends mention that we must be getting excited. We both realized this weekend that we are looking foward to it, but with a contented anticipation, not a “can’t wait” attitude. In part, I’ve been trying to really learn to enjoy and embrace the day I’m in and soak it in rather than having a mindset of always looking forward. I hope my brain will be in that “embrace mode” as a habit by the time the trip rolls around, so that on the trip, I will truly soak and savor every hour and not have it feel like “it went by so fast” when it’s over.

Appreciate someone: who can you take a moment to give a shoutout to today?

Plan wisely: take a few minutes today to consider the month of March. Is your calendar too full? Do you have plans for something fun? Be intentional about planning a productive but balanced month.

Take the LEAP and enjoy today! Let me know how it went!

 

Recurring Tasks for Regular Responsibilities

Use recurring

Doing Something

Sadly in America

The Stress and Blessing of Criticism

Mirror, Brick, Rope: Criticism is all of them

Mirror Brick Rope

OPP: You’ve worked hard on an event, and it went over reasonably well. But in the debrief, your supervisor concentrates only on the elements that didn’t go as smoothly as he’d hoped they would.

Every professional faces criticism from time to time. Much as we hate to admit it, we aren’t perfect, and we aren’t everybody’s favorite person. Still, criticism always stings–even the person who has a tough skin occasionally feels the pain that comes from facing their imperfections.

But criticism isn’t all bad. In fact, it’s like a mirror, brick, or a rope. All three have negative and positive aspects.

Mirror

  • Even if in a tiny way, the criticism is a reflection of us, even if only in our response to it
  • Helps us find the small faults to correct (i.e. lettuce in the teeth, makeup smudges. etc.)

Brick

  • Can hurt and surprise you when it hits you (“like a ton of bricks.”)
  • Sometimes comes from hardened people (“Hurt people hurt people.”)
  • Can build a wall
  • Could also build a bridge
  • Can be a strong foundation for the future. (Ex: Are you now close with someone who used to be critical of you?)

Rope

  • It can tie you up inside.
  • You can be roped into criticizing others through gossip.
  • Can bind hearts together.
  • Can remind us to hang onto other more solid elements of our lives (such as our faith/value system.)

All of the above show that criticism is both a positive and negative experience. Here are a few pointers for when it comes your way:

  1. (Mirror) Ask yourself if there is a grain of truth in the criticism. Is there a small thing you could chage in how you approach a situation going forward? Sometimes a criticism can be a gift to help you grow and redirect you from a bad path.
  2. (Brick) Can you use the criticism to build a bridge or a foundation of friendship with the critic? Instead of getting defensive, believe the best about them and thank them for caring enough about you to point out something. You may become friends (or at least friendlier) with them!
  3. (Rope) Let the criticism remind you of your higher purpose and the solid foundation of your principles. If you’ve acted against them, this is a wake up call. If you acted based on your principles, the criticism can reinforce your commitment and diminish the need to be approved by others. Grab the right rope.

Yes, being criticized is something that can overwhelm a professional. But use it to your advantage!

Additional Resource: Michael Hyatt presents the difference between friends, critics, and trolls.

 

Sometimes we get overwhelmed by drama. Here’s help:

we need to become interested

Avoid the email black hole syndrome…

When you receive an inquiry by email on

Time It. Tame It.

That Dreaded Task May Not Take as Long as You Think

Every month, I have a task that I want to get done, but don’t enjoy doing. I prepare a statistical and financial report on a project for which there are ongoing sales and other people involved. The others involved are very understanding and never nag me for the information, but they do appreciate that it is being kept up with.

One day, toward the end of my work day, that task remained on my list and I decided to defer it to the next week. So I changed the due date and closed up shop for the day. The next morning, when I had limited time, I decided to see how long it would take to actually do the task and get the report out.

I timed it.

I was in for a pleasant surprise.

That dreaded task? It only took about 10 minutes, if that. I simply had to focus, transfer the numbers, prepare the email and send it out.

Now that I realize how little time it actually takes, I hope I be less likely to dread it popping up on my monthly recurring tasks.

This gets me to thinking that there are several other work tasks that really don’t take that long and can be knocked out in the time it takes to gear up to do them or complain about them. Things like:

 

5 Minute Tasks: cleaning out one file, cleaning off my desktop, deleting or moving a few electronic files, cleaning up/deleting emails I don’t really need, doing a quick review of my calendar for the next week

10 Minute Tasks: returning a couple of phone calls or emails that take just a few sentences; doing a more detailed review of my calendar, researching a product, cleaning out a desk drawer

15 Minute Tasks: conducting a call with a client, reading a chapter of a professional development book, taking a walk, cleaning out a good number of emails.

Next time you are facing a task you dread, tame it. Here are a few tips to help you get past it.

  1. Do it while running a timer. When done, note the time it took. Add that time onto your task description (if it is a recurring task) to remind you that it doesn’t take that long.
  2. Schedule it. If you can’t do it now, schedule a time in your calendar for “miscellaneous tasks” (I call it “TIE” for tasks, in-box, email) and make sure you stick with that appointment.
  3. Postpone it–carefully. If you must postpone the task, only allow yourself to postpone it once. If you don’t, you may postpone it so much that you’ll push it into a time when it comes up again, and now the work is doubled (i.e. if you don’t do September’s report until October, you’ll then have two reports to do.)

Sometimes our mind makes things harder then they are. Be realistic about the time a task will take. In some cases, you may be surprised that it won’t take as long as you think! Time it and tame it for less stress!