Category Archives: advice

Why you need to exercise self-care (especially in a pandemic)


It’s easy to let care for yourself slide in a pandemic. But even in normal times it can be a problem. If you find this to be the case, then I recommend this piece. It can help you understand why you aren’t taking better care of yourself. It then helps you understand what good selfcare looks like.

I’d add a base reason for self care is you can only take care of others if you take care of yourself as well. The airplane mask rule is always in effect.

(Photo by Jungwoo Hong on Unsplash)

I hope Americans still on the fence about travelling for Thanksgiving read this


I understand the importance of Thanksgiving in the US. It’s a big deal, and a big part of that is coming together. But coming together might mean spreading COVID-19, not just with the people you visit, but others after the visit.

Because of that, I hope you will stay in your respective dwellings and take advantage of this offer from Zoom: Thanksgiving on Zoom: Your family get-together can surpass 40 minutes.

Normally if you have a free Zoom account, you are limited to how long your online session can last. Happily, Zoom is waiving that for this year. It’s a great offer: you should jump on it.

I hope people will meet up virtually in the US this Thanksgiving. It will make a world of difference.

In praise of the cardigan, perfect for your pandemic fashion needs

Fancy cardigan
Finally! Advice we can all use: How to wear a statement cardigan | Men’s fashion in The Guardian

You might think I am joking but I am not: the cardigan is my favorite article of clothing. It’s dressier than a hoodie, more comfortable than a jacket, adjustable for different temperatures, and definitely stylish. I mean look at that one above! A cardigan with a shirt and tie is casual chic. Add more layers and you will be the picture of elegance.

I only have one piece of advice about cardigans: if you see one you like, do not hesitate to buy it. Clothing lines usually have a very limited number of cardigans they make every year, and often those are boring. Some years I have not found one good cardigan worth owning. A good cardigan is a rare and wonderful thing: don’t hesitate to get one or more.

Four good ideas from IKEA


Nothing radical decor-wise, but here are some good ideas from IKEA. For example, they’ve packaged up some of their products to make improving your home easier: IKEA Launched Decor Kits That Let You Mix Up Your Style Easily

They have these speakers (seen above) that I would quickly get if I didn’t have a Sonos speaker already. It combines the quality of Sonos with the affordability of IKEA: SYMFONISK WiFi bookshelf speaker – black – IKEA.

Speaking of affordability, here’s a reminder that IKEA is always stocked with affordable items: Under $10 – Affordable Furniture and Gifts – IKEA

Finally, it is easy to criticize rooms with too much IKEA furniture in it. Such rooms tend to look like a showroom rather than your room. However, for people who have a hard time making good choices about their decor, stealing ideas from IKEA makes a lot of sense. To see what I mean, check this article out: IKEA Catalog 2021 Neutral Calming Rooms | Apartment Therapy

You know about hygge. Now it’s a good time to learn about friluftsliv

winter in NYC

You likely know about hygge, and adopting that into your life can make winter not only more endurable but even wonderful. But while hygge is good for indoors, what about outdoors? This is where friluftsliv comes in. As this article explains, ‘We belong out there’: How the Nordic concept of friluftsliv — outdoor life — could help the Pacific Northwest get through this COVID winter  the idea of outdoor life,  especially in the depth of winter, is what we are going to need to get through this cold part of the pandemic.

I think you would benefit to read the article, but basically it describes friluftsliv this way:

More expansive than outdoor recreation and less self-serious than outdoor adventure, friluftsliv describes “whatever you go to REI for,” said Meyer. “But in Norway, it’s this deeper concept of having space from other people, which is kind of a Norwegian thing to do, and then it has that sense of being able to wander freely outside.”

It’s like flaneurism combined with winter. 🙂

Get yourself some good winter clothing and start planning to get outside. Not only will it help you from feeling cooped up, it will help you appreciate what you have inside. You can come back to your cozy blankets and candles and whatever else you have to make indoors delightful. Make a tea or a hot chocolate. You are the master of winter.

(Photo by Heather Shevlin on Unsplash)

Are you more worried these days? This can help


Are you more worried these days? Ha! I know you are: I see your tweets and your socials! Hey, it’s fine. These are difficult days. That’s not a licence to worry your head off though. Difficult or not, being able to worry less is a good skill to have.

If you don’t think it is a skill you have much of, read this. It will give you good practical tips to deal effectively with your worrying. Better yet, read it with a pen and paper handy; when you are done, write down a practical plan to change your worrying.

Worrying is a habitual way of thinking that can cause you damage. The good news is you can break that habit and change your thinking and have it shift away from worrying.  Worrying is like smoking or eating badly or any other harmful behaviors. Behaviors you can change. So set your mind on a different form of being. You’ll be calmer and more positive soon enough.

(Photo by Henrikke Due on Unsplash)

How to get into reading philosophy? Start with these five books

What Does It All Mean? Book
If you haven’t read philosophy before, it can be daunting. Doing it with an instructor helps. A good instructor or lecturer can give you context, guide you to what is important, help you ask the right questions, even acknowledge the difficulty of what you are reading.

If you don’t have that but still want to give it a try, I recommend this list by Nigel Warburton. Some of them are general, and some focus on specific fields of philosophy. They all sound good. Read the list: Warburton tells you what each book is about and why you want to read it.

I suspect by the time you finish the article, you’ll want to go out and get one of those books.

(Photo by Grant Jacobson on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. You want to get into some good habits. These two things can help

Perhaps you’ve developed some bad habits over the pandemic. Habits you want to shake off.  You might need help developing new and better ones.

Here’s two things that can help. First is James Clear’s book, Atomic Habits. He takes a methodical approach to how habits form and how you can break them.

Second, there is the habitlist app that can help keep you going on your way to building new habits.

If you really struggle with developing new habits, try this. Make up a habit that takes little time and effort and practice making it a new habit. For example, you could take 30 seconds each day just to stretch. Or 10 seconds each day to breathe deeply. Heck take 5 seconds each day to say: I can develop new habits. 🙂 The point isn’t so much the habit as it is developing the ability to form habits. Once you can form some really basic but good habits, other habits that you might struggle with will get easier.

In praise of cozy corners (and how you can make your own)

Cozy corner.

Coziness is in the eye (body?) of the beholder. For example, I find the above image cozy. Other people might find the picture below cozy.

Cozy with cats.

Regardless of which one you prefer, I think having a cozy corner in your home is essential, especially as the cooler weather starts.

If you don’t have one or need inspiration, here’s 12 cozy corners from Cup of Jo you can check out and steal ideas from. A nice couch helps. So do blankets and pillows. Sleeping dogs and cats are nice. As are books and fireplaces. But don’t let me tell you how to be cozy: I think you should get there however you think best. 🙂

(Images from links to that blog post on Cup of Jo).

Did you mess up this week? Are you beating yourself up about it? If so, read this


Chances are you messed up at some point this week. It happens to everyone.

If you have a good attitude about it, that’s great. If you don’t, if you are beating yourself up for messing up, then read this.

I hope you feel better after reading that. Everyone makes mistakes. People trying really hard especially make mistakes. Give yourself a break. Then get back at it.

(Photo by Sarah Kilian on Unsplash)

Two good articles on sleep

Man and dog sleeping

If you are having sleep problems, read #1. If you need to understand why you need to sleep more, read #2.

  1. Shuteye and Sleep Hygiene: The Truth About Why You Keep Waking up at 3 a.m.
  2. Scientists Now Know How Sleep Cleans Toxins From the Brain | WIRED

I especially liked #2. I had a long held belief that is why we sleep. It’s satisfying to see it established by science.

We all need clean and shiny brains. To do that, get some sleep.

On the joy of updating Wikipedia and how you can experience it too

Wikipedia home page

It is a small joy to update Wikipedia. I reflected upon that when I read this story of a librarian who has started down that path.

I have made a number of updates myself! Not many, but here’s my list:

  • on a French pastry I used to love getting, but found no entry on: Bichon au Citron
  • I’ve fixed a minor typo on this list regarding SNL
  • I was reading a book on the late Bronze Age collapse and when I went to the wikipedia page, I noticed it needed some references. I referred to the book I was reading.
  • Finally, I was reading about Anoxygenic photosynthesis and I added some references.

Basically I fixed up some pages that had errors or lacked citations. This is the easiest way to start. Creating a whole new entry, as I did with the pastry,  is harder.

You don’t even have to create a login, though I did.If you aren’t feeling too confident at first, try playing around in the sandbox. It’s easy, and you can’t break anything.

We all benefit from improvements to Wikipedia. Why not do some yourself? You will find it satisfying and joyful.

(Photo by Luke Chesser on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. How are you doing? Not sure? Here’s a checklist to help you find out


With the pandemic, it’s easy to get into a mindset of thinking things aren’t going well and you aren’t doing well. I get it. But guess what? Chances are you are doing well. To see what I am getting at, check out this checklist.

It won’t take more than 5 minutes to do, but after you do it, you will think:

  1. Hey, I’m doing more good things than I give myself credit for
  2. Oh dear, I really need to work on X and Y and Z

Ok. Great! You now know you are doing better than you thought (give yourself a pat on the back). You also have a list of items to work on improving. It’s Monday: make up a plan to work on them this week.

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

It’s the weekend: here’s something good to read and something good to do


Congrats! It’s the weekend! You made it. Perhaps you want to relax. If so, here’s a list of books you might be interested in reading: 2020 books: Feel-good reads with guaranteed happy endings – The Washington Post

Hey, it’s the pandemic: you could use some more upbeat reading material.

If you are not the relaxing type, why not check in on that friend you haven’t heard from lately and drop off some soup. Need convincing that it’s a good idea? Read this: Soup for a Friend | A Cup of Jo

Obviously homemade soup is great. But if you live in Calgary, consider getting some soup from my friend, Carmie. She’s a great cook, and you can order soup from her company, SpoonFed. Get some bread or crackers, too.

The weather is getting cooler and the days shorter. Good soup can help you and your friends.

(Top image from the Cup of Jo blog post. Bottom image from the SpoonFed site.)

Friday night cocktail: the shaken martini (with guest appearances from Bill Murray and Google Trends)

You might think, how much can be said about a martini, shaken or not? Well quite a bit if you are David Lebovitz. I recommend you check him out and then get out your cocktail shaker.

Need more reasons to drink one? Well, you can be cool, like Bill Murray, here  drinking one in his new film, On the Rocks. 

Based on Google Trends, people must drink martinis mainly at Christmas. So save this post until then. Or be a trend setter and start having one now.

Why you really are procrastinating

It’s not likely laziness. As LizAndMollie illustrates above, it’s likely due to

  • feeling inadequate
  • fear
  • not knowing where to start
  • being stretched too thin
  • perfectionism (or for me, not wanting to mess up)

So give yourself a bit of a break when you feel you aren’t getting things done.

P.S. Follow LizAndMollie for more great illustrations to help you get through this pandemic and more.

Three sets of rules to help guide you

  1. Marcus Aurelius: 3 Rules For Life – Darius Foroux: a good set of rules to govern your life. Stoics and stoic wannabes, take note.
  2. Wells’s Rules, annotated – Macleans.ca: a good set of rules on governance. These are aimed at Canadian politics, but really can apply anywhere.
  3. A very simple rule – Austin Kleon: finally one simple rule which is where the top image comes from

The first thing on your todo list this week? Deciding what you are looking forward to

You are putting your todo list together for the day, the week, who knows…but it likely has a quite a few things for you to get through. Now make another list of things you are looking forward to. It could be taking a coffee break. It could be going for a walk and admiring the leaves. Or catching up with a loved one. Perhaps doing something creative, like knitting or painting or making a nice meal. Whatever these things are, make sure you list them and strive for them. Because life is harder if you don’t have things to look forward to.

I thought of this often recently. I would look at my todo list and feel unproductive. Then I started approaching it from the viewpoint of what I will look forward to once I start and finish the tasks. I’d think: what positive things can I look forward to as a result of doing this? The more I thought this way, the more I found it easier to get things done.

Try it: you might find you get more done too, the more you look forward to things.

For more on this topic, see this: Something to look forward to – Austin Kleon

P.S. When the thing you are looking forward to happens, make sure you really take the time to appreciate it. For example, there was a messy part of my house I recently cleaned. I was really looking forward to it looking good again. Now it does, I take the time every day to appreciate it. I now find anticipating fixing up more of the house so I can enjoy that same feeling of satisfaction. You will too!

(Photo by Alexis Fauvet on Unsplash)

On how care leads to love and how it relates to having more by having less

I have been thinking of this post by Austin Kleon, how caring for something leads us to love it, which leads us to care for it more. I think this is true. It’s a virtuous circle.

I have found this myself during the pandemic, when I purchased house plants with the expectation that they wouldn’t live long. I was wrong: because I was around them more, it was easier to care for them, and because I cared for them, they have thrived, and I loved them more and have cared for them more. Now I have more plants than I ever did before.

It’s tempting to try to stretch this virtuous circle, and you can, to a point. The limiting factor is your ability to pay attention and the needs of the things you are caring for. If you have something or someone that requires much attention and care, you can’t have multiples of those things without exhausting yourself. You need to strike a balance.

To strike that balance, you need the right level of things to care for. Chances are, you have too many things that requires your care. I think you and I need to find the right level and pare down the rest.  Give those things to people who need things to care for. By doing so, you end up caring for and loving yourself. You are the root of all this love and care you are providing. Take care of the root, and the love and care you have for other things and beings can branch out and spread.

P.S. If you are having a hard time paring down, take the advice of either Marie Kondo (keep only things that spark joy) or William Morris (see below)

(Imagine via mylightbag.wordpress.com)

If you want to get started doing coding and you don’t know anything about coding, then do this


If you want to get started doing coding and you don’t know anything about coding, then do this tutorial: How To Build a Website with HTML | DigitalOcean

I say this for a few reasons:

  • It’s a thorough step by step guide to building a website. You will learn quite a bit about HTML by the time you are done, but you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed or that you are missing things.
  • This should be approachable by anyone from age 10 to 110. (Maybe 5 to 115…I don’t know. You get the idea.)
  • You will also learn about developer tools, in this case, Visual Studio Code. A text editor is fine too, but learning new tools and how to effectively use them is better.
  • If you go here, you will learn how to host it using Digital Ocean and Github. So not only will you build a website, but you can show it off to your family and friends, too 🙂
  • Lots of good practices in here including in this tutorial. Always a plus.
  • Once you know how to build a website, you can use this as a basis to go on to learn more about HTML, CSS, Javascript and more. Building a web site is a good set of foundational skills if you want to get into coding.

Give it a try. Even if you already know a bit of HTML: you might find your skills much increased by the time you are done.

(Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash)

What do you get when you combine mindfulness with hygge?


You might get something like niksen. At least that’s what I thought as I read this article: I tried niksen, the Dutch are of doing nothing. We all need more of it. – The Washington Post.

Key quote from the article:

So when I heard about this Dutch concept of doing nothing, or “niksen,” I was willing to give it a shot. Apparently it’s about as straightforward as it sounds: You can actually actively engage in doing nothing — like looking out a window for a few minutes — and not feel guilty as if it’s a waste of time. Lots of studies have shown that daydreaming and letting your mind wander increases creativity.

It might be just the thing to help us get through the pandemic. For more on it, click this Google search.

(Photo by Sid Leigh on Unsplash)

It’s the weekend. You need to stop wasting it. Here’s how.

It’s the weekend and chances are you are using it up doing 1-5 of the things mentioned in this article. Don’t. (Or at least do one less). I especially liked the tip on laundry. But read the article and see what I mean. Carve out your weekend for more Me time.

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

On turning an old Windows laptop into a Chromebook for my son’s virtual school

For my son’s virtual classroom, most of his work is being done using Google’s cloud services. I’ve decided to take an old T420 laptop that was in the basement and turn it into a Chromebook for him to use. So far it’s going ok.

If you are interested in doing something similar, I found this article on PC World very detailed and good for all skill levels. (I’ve read a half dozen pieces and the ones I reviewed all pretty much said the same things.) All you will need is an old PC (or maybe an old Mac), a 16 GB USB stick, and some patience. 🙂

I haven’t wiped the Windows OS yet: I booted up the 420 and told it to load the OS from the USB stick. (This part will differ from machine to machine.) With the 420 it’s easy: just hold down the blue button on top of the keyboard and let it go into setup mode and then follow the prompts.

I can’t say that the user experience is fast. It’s….not terrible. Still slow. But once things come up, it should be good.

More from me as new results come in.

Oct 19: so far so good with the Chromebooks. I ended up wiping the old OS and installing the ChromeOS on the disk drive. One odd thing: there is no notification that the installation is complete. So I recommend you start it, leave it for 30 minutes or so, then reboot the laptop. It should come up with the new OS.

One nice thing about it is that my son has Chrome settings (e.g. bookmarks) specific to his Gmail account. So when he logs into the Chromebook, I can set up the bookmarks specifically for his e-learning (e.g., I have links to all his courses on the bookmark).

The other thing I like about converting old laptops into Chromebooks is that the screen and keyboard is often better than most Chromebooks. For example, I turned a T450 into a Chromebook and I love typing on it.

Finally, old laptops are relatively cheap. You can get T420 for under $300, and T450s for around $350, which is cheaper than many (though not all Chromebooks). Better still, I bet many people have an old PC lying around doing nothing. Make it into a Chromebook and give it to someone who could use it.

 

 

Canada Post wants you to send more mail. You should take them up on it by going to these sites.

First off, here’s is some tips on how you can get started letter writing (and if you celebrate Christmas, now is a good time to start thinking about it): Write here. Write now. | Canada Post

Second, if you need more info, including how to get personalized stamps: Picture Postage

Get your pen out and get going. Thank you! 🙂

Hobbies, or how to start drawing even if the idea terrifies you


Yesterday I encouraged you to take up a hobby. If you haven’t decided on one yet, I recommend drawing. You may be terrified or at least put off by the idea of taking up drawing. It’s ok. Many people feel that way. To help you, here’s some good links to get you thinking at least of taking up drawing.

Lots of good advice there in those links. As for books, I highly recommend the book above. It is superb. It can be hard to find, but these folks seem to have it.

If you have big projects you have been struggling with…

If you have big projects that you have been struggling with, I recommend these two pieces:

Sometime you need to gain a big of perspective in the daunting face of what seems is an overwhelming effort. Those pieces can help you.

(Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash)

 

Which Is Better, Rewards or Punishments? Neither

Good piece if you are struggling to change behavior in children: Which Is Better, Rewards or Punishments? Neither – The New York Times. But honestly, what is good for changing children’s behavior is good for changing any one’s behavior, including your own. 

I recommend you read the piece: it has good examples. But in a nutshell, you should:

  • Motivate Instead of Reward
  • Help Instead of Punish

There’s one other piece of advice in the article. I’ll leave it for you to find out what it is. You can do it! Just click the link above. You’ll be glad you did.

(Photo by sydney Rae on Unsplash)

How to procrastinate well

What, you say? That makes no sense. Procrastination is a thing to be avoided, not perfected.

But let’s face it: some of you — us! — will always be procrastinators. If it is something that will be always with us, why not make the best of it?

That’s what this piece argues. By structuring your procrastination, you can still get important things done…it just not the thing you really ought to be doing.

So take a lesson from that piece on structured procrastination and go do the second most important thing on your list. Or third. Whatever.

I’d like to add that if you do that, you might get some wind in your sails and find that after you’ve effectively procrastinated, you can go back and work on the thing that you really ought to be doing.

Procrastination: make it work for you.

P.S. Yes, I wrote this as a way to avoid some things I should be doing.

It’s a good time to pare down the things in your life

The pandemic is a good time to pare down your life. No doubt it has already helped with that. Now it’s time to take it further. For example

Cut back on possessions — get rid of the extraneous clutter that is just weighing you down, and find joy in owning little.

Sounds good, right? I thought so. I took that quote from this piece: Paring Down Your Life : zen habits. I recommend you read it and consider what else you can eliminate from your life in this life changing time.

(Photo by todd kent on Unsplash)

To me, the main reason you want a Lenovo Smart Clock

 

I’ve read some good and some not good reviews of the Lenovo smart clock. The not good ones point out the obvious limits of it, but I think they miss the point.

To me the main reason you want this smart clock: it can help you get your smartphone out of your bedroom. If you get one of these for the night table near your bed, you get most of the things you want your phone to do: wake you up, play white noise, tell you the temperature before you get dressed. It does all that, while preventing you from  doomscrolling or exposing your eyes to light that keeps you up. For those reasons, I think it is a great thing and the main reason you want it.

You can also turn the microphone off if you are concerned about Google listening in on your bedroom (a proper fear). Or if you just don’t want anything “smart” in your bedroom, phone or otherwise, I recommend you check out this beautiful Moon Clock from LL Bean. My grandfather had one of these and it was a beauty. 

Gardening as a form of mental wellness

Gardening is a tricky hobby. I’ve always associated it with older people. Which makes some sense: if you go to a gardening center in spring, it will be packed mainly with old folks. This is a bad prejudice to have. As this article by Samin Nosrat showed me, gardening can be a great activity to help with one’s mental wellness.

She starts:

Last winter I suffered a devastating bout of depression. Unable to do much else, I took to the neglected beds of the vegetable garden I share with my neighbors. Weeding and composting for hours a day, I was regenerating both the soil and something deep in myself. It felt so crucial to my well-being that sometimes I wore a headlamp to extend my work time past the waning daylight.

It’s worthwhile reading the entire article. She makes a great case for the goodness that gardening can do for you. After you finish it, you may want to rush out to a garden center and get started on your own garden and improved mental health.

(Photo by Benjamin Combs on Unsplash)

Is this “Saturday Morning” Weekend Cleaning Checklist doable?

So I read this, The “Saturday Morning” Weekend Cleaning Checklist | Apartment Therapy, which begins with

So you didn’t clean this week but you want a clean house to hang out in over the weekend. And you don’t want to spend half your weekend getting ready to enjoy it. Good news: You can condense your weekly cleaning into one super concentrated Saturday morning blitz of chores. It’s best if you can solicit some housemates (sometimes known as spouses and children) to help.

Now I am skeptical. But I will try it tomorrow and see how it goes. If you need a “goal” for the weekend, maybe you can too.

(Photo by pan xiaozhen on Unsplash)

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Great advice on how to get better at drawing that can be applied to anything

I have been trying to get better at drawing lately, but I have been floundering. Much of what I have been drawing is poor by my standards. Poor and not getting better. To try and get better, I was trying different media and different tools (coloured pencils, watercolour, etc.). All these different things didn’t help. I was stuck.

Then I came across this video and had an a-ha moment. It’s really good. I recommend you take a few minutes and watch it.

In a nutshell, the idea is to focus. Focus on drawing one thing. Don’t do what I was doing, which was a little bit of everything. A little bit of everything didn’t add up to anything.

What I found was that by focusing, I didn’t have to think of what to do, I just did it. In his case he drew emus. In my case I drew robots. Just dozens of robots. I would start by drawing a shape and then adding to the shape. Or I’d start with a theme (a book robot) and use that to draw. The drawing didn’t have to be good, though I tried to make it good. Regardless of good or bad, what I discovered was that I was learning more about drawing from each picture. Before, I would think: what shall I do to practice drawing and get better? Now I don’t think, I just draw, and I am naturally getting better.

I think this can be true of any skill. Take running for example. You might fear starting because you don’t know anything about how to run well. Fine, just pick a short distance and run it. Do that over and over. Each time you do, you will learn something. Maybe you are running too fast. Or too slow. Or too long. Or too much. Take notes each time and look to improve. If you get stuck, do some research and try to apply it. The next thing you know you will be much better at it then you were only a short time ago.

Anyway, watch the video and then think about how you can apply it to your own life. You will improve. Keep with it.

Here’s a link to the video: The drawing advice that changed my life – YouTube

Speaking of keeping to it, he has another great video about “not getting off the bus”. I highly recommend that too. You can find it here.

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How to engineer your own happiness


That sounds like a ridiculous idea, but if you read this piece, you might find yourself thinking along the same lines: A Lazy Person’s Guide to Happiness.

It’s hard to be happy in a bad environment. I think most people can agree with that. It’s possible, but there is a significant mental effort to achieve it.

It’s also possible to be unhappy in a good environment. Again, it takes mental effort to achieve.

Given that, the more you can design your environment to be one you are happy in, the happier you will be. Simple when you think about it. Simple, but not often easy.

Perhaps a good task is to list all the places and people and other things in your life where you have been happy. That’s list A. Now come up with list Z, with all the things where you have been unhappy. Finally take list A and Z and come up with a plan to add more of the items on list A in your list and less of the items on list Z. But before you do, rate your happiness on a scale of 1-100. After your follow through on the plan, rate it again. Congratulations, you have engineered your own happiness. Keep it up.

(Image via David Siglin)

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A good idea on how to channel your ambitions in this time

I liked this piece: Where Did My Ambition Go?

I suspect many people will suffer this problem, wondering why be ambitious at your work when for many jobs the opportunities to succeed are decreasing.

The whole piece is worth reading, but the ending (below) was noteworthy:

At the same time, my ambition for my community and the wider world has gotten bigger and broader. I don’t know exactly where I fit in it, but I do know that I want all workers to be treated with dignity and respect — a small, humble ask that requires an unending amount of work. And I want all people who are unable to work or unable to find work to also be treated with dignity and respect. I want to become more active in organizing, I want to be a resource for those looking for guidance in their careers — at least while we’re living under capitalism — and I want to make enough money to be able to throw some of that money at the world’s problems. My medium-size dreams for myself may be getting smaller, but my ambitions for the greater wide world have to be enormous. It’s the only way to get through.

If you are ambitious in this way, you will achieve things beyond what you could achieve through your job. Wanting to succeed and achieve something of value is a good thing to want. Don’t limit that desire to just your work life: make it a desire for your whole life. That is truly ambitious.

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Are calendars more effective than To Do Lists? Is there a third option? (Yes of course :))


This piece argues that they are: Why Calendars are More Effective Than To Do Lists.

I think there are definite benefits to using calendars over to do lists. For example, when you need to work with other people. Scheduling time makes sure people commit to working on something and getting it done. Calendars are also great for when you need to give yourself a deadline.

I think todo lists are better than calendars when you aren’t sure how long it will take to do a task. Calendars aren’t great if you  spend a significant amount of time planning to do things versus actually doing them. (Although you can procrastinate the same way using todo lists.)

One way of merging calendars with todo lists is to work in sprints of 1 to 2 to 4 weeks, like agile developers do. At the start of a sprint, go over your todo list and prioritize and size your tasks. Then fill up the sprint period with the tasks you can get done in that time. Then you can schedule them on your calendar to remind yourself to get them done.  If you have things blocking you that day, plan to resolve them by eliminating the blocker.

 

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If your house is in shambles, you’re not alone


If your house is a bit of a mess right now, don’t beat yourself up. As this article showed me, it’s a pretty common problem: My House Has Not Kept Up With the Pandemic in The New York Times.

Now what you do about it is up to you. If you are fine with the mess, then fine. But if you are like me and the mess is getting to you after awhile, I recommend you start setting up a schedule to tackle it. Even bits at a time, starting with an area you can manage. You may find (like I did) that after you clean and tidy a bit, you feel better. Sure, no one may be visiting, but you’ll feel better, and that’s important too

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On the importance of pride as a feeling to cultivate


Being proud is like many feelings: you have to proportion it. But many people believe that only lacking pride is the way to go. If you are one of those people, I recommend this: What Are You Proud Of? | A Cup of Jo

Being proud is a feeling that can keep you being good and drive you towards being better. Mix in some humility and some love for and your fellow human beings and you have a formula for growth as a person.

Pandemic Perspective: here’s some reasons to be optimistic


Sure, the pandemic isn’t over. In some places, it’s far from over. But that’s no reason to be totally pessimistic. If you feel that way, I recommend you read this: Six reasons to be optimistic about Covid-19.

It’s not the end of the pandemic. It’s not even the beginning of the end. But it is at least the end of the beginning. Things are going to get better.

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Someday we will have dinner parties again. When we do, I recommend you study this piece


Someday we will have dinner parties, post pandemic. When we do, we will be very rusty having them. Plus, we will be so happy to have people over that the food, while important, should be secondary to being able to host people. So, what to do?

Easy, Through a very easy dinner party, like they did over at the blog, A Cup of Jo. It looks like a wonderful time with the least amount of effort. Which is fine! More than fine, in fact.

We will have dinner parties again. Read this and be ready.

P.S. Of course you can do just the opposite and throw an elaborate party to celebrate. That’s fine too! 🙂