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18 Minutes That Can Save You Hours

It’s so easy to get off track…and sometimes we need a reminder. I was just listening to an interview by one of my favorite podcasters, Accidental Creativewhere he was discussing time management, or maybe more accurately ‘priority management,’ with Peter Bregman. I love Peter Bregman’s philosophy and process and am a fan of his book “18 Minutes.” In fact it has a prominent place on the bookshelf in my office…but I had sort of forgotten it was there. It was a good reminder that had me reaching for the book once again.

While I don’t follow Peter’s plan precisely, I do think he lays out a simple solution to a problem that plagues most of us; too much to do, a never-ending task list, and the overwhelming struggle to master the issue of time management.

To be fair, his 18 minutes a day process alone is not the entire solution. He goes beyond daily task management, to address the larger issues that overwhelm us, not being happy and fulfilled with what we’re doing, feeling like we’re beating our heads against the wall and becoming more clear about where we want to go with our lives.

With strategies like using the Four Elements of Focus, hourly reminders and learning to pause.

“A brief pause will help you make a smarter move. Know what outcome you want before you respond.”

- Peter Bregman

Here’s a quick summary of the “18 Minutes” process…Read the book for the full explanation…

STEP 1 (5 Minutes) Set Plan for Day. Before turning on your computer, sit down with a blank piece of paper and decide what will make this day highly successful. What can you realistically accomplish that will further your goals and allow you to leave at the end of the day feeling like you’ve been productive and successful? Write those things down.

Now, most importantly, take your calendar and schedule those things into time slots, placing the hardest and most important items at the beginning of the day. And by the beginning of the day I mean, if possible, before even checking your email. If your entire list does not fit into your calendar, reprioritize your list. There is tremendous power in deciding when and where you are going to do something.

STEP 2 (1 minute every hour) Refocus. Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour. When it rings, take a deep breath, look at your list and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don’t let the hours manage you.

STEP 3 (5 minutes) Review. Shut off your computer and review your day. What worked? Where did you focus? Where did you get distracted? What did you learn that will help you be more productive tomorrow?

The power of rituals is their predictability. You do the same thing in the same way over and over again. And so the outcome of a ritual is predictable too. If you choose your focus deliberately and wisely and consistently remind yourself of that focus, you will stay focused. It’s simple. This particular ritual may not help you swim the English Channel while towing a cruise ship with your hands tied together. But it may just help you leave the office feeling productive and successful.

And, at the end of the day, isn’t that a higher priority?

Let me know your thoughts on this book?

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21 Ways To Be Thrifty With Your Time and Money


Thrift often gets a bad rap, conjuring up visions of Scrooge pinching a coin and holding a stop watch, watching every penny and every minute. But actually being thrifty with both time and money is one of the oldest and most successful practices of the prolific, successful and content among us. The problem is that the meaning of thrift is often misunderstood.

Thrift is not: stingy, cheap, shoddy, meager, selfish or uncharitable.

Thrift is: efficient, grateful, simplicity, order, thriving, streamlined, inventive,responsible, practical and fruitful.

The best part is, it’s really not that hard to toss some thrifty practices into your daily mix.


  • Bring documents, files, magazines or other reading material with you for those in between waiting times.
  • Avoid prolonged conversations, keep it short and to the point (unless the point is to build a relationship.)
  • Automate as much as possible; use automatic bill payment, auto-program your coffee maker, organize frequently used numbers, contacts, websites into favorite lists, set up filters to sort your email, etc.
  • Use checklists for things you do frequently, work or home routines, chores, packing, end of day, reusable grocery lists, projects, cleaning, work processes, etc.
  • Organize your home or office so you’re not wasting time looking for things.
  • Spend less time making decisions – Set a deadline, limit the amount of research and discussion, create general decision-making criteria, don’t second guess, move on once the decision is made.
  • Set a timer for tasks, meetings, projects, online and social media use, breaks, etc.
  • Do similar tasks together; filing, errands, chores, calls, emails, filing, cleaning, billing or bill paying, etc.


  • Use the back side of tear off calendar pages for scrap paper or task notes.
  • Recycle copy paper, print on the other side.
  • Go digital. only print or use paper when necessary.
  • Order frequently used supplies in bulk.
  • Bring your lunch to work as often as you can.
  • Pay your bills on time to avoid late fees and get better terms in the future.
  • Avoid the vending machines.
  • Buy equipment  used, preferably gently used.
  • Re-examine – Subscriptions and memberships to make sure they’re worth the cost.
  • Shop around for better rates; interest, insurance, suppliers, contractors, etc.
  • Borrow instead of buy.
  • Barter services.
  • Do preventative maintenance instead of repairs.

What other ways have you found to be thrifty with time or money?

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6 Simple Things You Can Do Today To Create a More Balanced Life

A healthy well-balanced lifestyle isn’t only essential for well-being; it impacts our ability to achieve success as well. A “balanced life” can mean many things to many people, but it’s generally a sense that all of the important parts of our lives are working together, rather than against. When the parts of the whole of our lives operate in some semblance of harmony – remember, we are going for reasonable, not perfect – it’s much easier to achieve goals, attain success, and find joy and satisfaction in life.

A balanced life is not a “goal” to attain. It’s a lifestyle to maintain. There’s a vast difference.

A more balanced life is found through those choices we make every day that move us more either into or out of alignment with our best life.

Balance Builders You Can Choose Today

Carve out 15 minutes (more is better) of alone time to decompress – meditate, journal, do yoga, listen to music or just relax silently for a few moments.

Go to bed 30 minutes early – a bit more sleep actually gives you more energy to do more in less time.

Turn it off – Set a specific time when you will unplug the cord from work, turn off the computer, and silence the cell phone. Staying mentally (or physically) attached to your electronic tether impairs your brains ability to relax.

Call or meet a friend to catch up – connecting with others allows us to vent, get support, have fun, and put our focus on someone else for a while.

Get outside – walk your dog, get outside at lunchtime, watch the sunset or sunrise, sit in the park and watch the kids and squirrels play.

Laugh – Such a small thing, with big benefits; Laughter lowers stress, boosts immunity, decreases pain, improves mood and makes life more fun!

We aren’t going to make the healthiest of choices every day, but each one we do make improves our well-being, our stress levels, and our ability to move towards a balanced lifestyle. Persistence and commitment to living a balanced life will pay off.


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What’s Your Favorite Work Avoidance Tactics?


We’ve all got them, whether we like to admit it or not. Even the most productive, organized, and disciplined among us, occasionally allows themselves to be sidetracked from what they really should be doing. How we avoid unpleasant, boring work and what we use to distract ourselves varies, but we all do it just the same.

Some of my favorite avoidance tactics:

Checking email – not as a necessity, but whenever I feel stuck

Social media – I’ll just spend a few minutes to see what’s going on out there, before I get started on this project…

Checking my to-do list – maybe if I check my list one more time, it’ll look more inviting, or motivation will strike

Organizing – office, laptop folders, phone apps, cleaning chores, etc. I may be organized, but I haven’t done any revenue generating work.

“With Friends” games on my iPhone – taking the occasional break from work to play a few games as a stress reliever is fine, still playing “Scramble with Friends” 45 minutes later is not…

Reading – I love to read. It’s my first choice, go-to activity whenever I have a free minute, but when it supplants task completion, it’s avoidance.

Other common tactics:

Television – a biggie

Repeatedly checking the news

Reading too many blogs, newsletters – a few is fine, but there’s a limit to your time

Aimless surfing or game playing

Chatting – water cooler is one of the biggest avoidance tactics there is

Eating – so many emotional, bored, anxious, frustrated eaters out there.

No matter how many times we check our to-do list, our email, Facebook, or our refrigerator, the work is not going to change. It will still be there and we’ll be even further behind. The first step to minimize avoidance is to recognize our tactics. Try to catch yourself the next time you say, “maybe I’ll just blank for a few minutes…” Perhaps, just maybe you’re stalling. Just maybe…

How do you “avoid?”

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What We Can Learn from Good Ol Ben


Autograph of Benjamin Franklin

Autograph of Benjamin Franklin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I recently came across a copy of Ben Franklin’s Virtues list. Though some of the terminology is a bit outdated, most of the concepts are sound. I took the liberty of modernizing and combining to boil his wisdom down to something that I find relevant and useful in today’s world.

My interpretation of Ben Franklin’s Modern virtues…

1. Use moderation – Moderation is still the best policy – Eat in moderation, drink in moderation, play in moderation, and most importantly today…work in moderation.

2. Silence is often wise – Use your words wisely. Speak when its useful, helpful or necessary – Dont use words to harm, criticize or blame and don’t squander your words on mindless chatter.

3. Order is important – Let things have a right place, events have a right time and life have a sense of order.

4. Be resolute – Know what you want, decide what you need to do and be determined to follow through.

5. Waste nothing – Frugality is not old-fashioned. Spend wisely. Buy what you need. Take what you must. Use what you have. Give what you can.

6. Make the most of your time – Strive to be productive. Be efficient with your time and effective with your actions. Dont squander your precious time and effort on mindless, useless or wasteful activities.

7. Be sincere – Be kind and considerate, thoughtful and honest.

8. Be fair – Be responsible and just. Keep your word and do your part.

9. Strive for calm – Dont take things personally. Let go of what you cannot control. Worry doesn’t solve anything.

10. Embrace humility – Life is not all about you. Understand your place in the bigger scheme. Everyone is important and valuable in their own way.

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