Category Archives: advice

How to get rid of those things you can’t seem to part with? Use the Box and Banish method

If you are trying to declutter and you are struggling, why not grabs some boxes and practice the Box and Banish Method? Essentially what you do is take all those things you consider “maybes”* and put them in a box and…

 … close it up. Yep, close it, and put it somewhere out of the way, like the back of a closet. Then set a reminder on your phone or in your calendar for a date about six weeks from now.

And after six weeks (or six months, but not six years), take those boxes and either trash them or give them away.

If you don’t trust yourself, recruit someone to do it for you. You’ll be glad you did.

(* Maybes are all those things you aren’t sure of that you may want to keep but aren’t sure.  )

When it makes sense to eat your lunch while you work

It’s easy to find articles condemning the act of eating lunch at your desk (for example, this one ). I get it. That said, I believe there are three times when eating at your desk is ok:

  1. You have too much to do and even a 15 minute lunch break seems too much.
  2. You want to downplay lunch.
  3. Your work is not good but your lunch is.

Now #1 is not a good situation, but sometimes that just the way it is.

#2 makes sense if you are trying to decenter or downplay food. If you are in a place where you find it tempting to overeat and are trying to avoid temptation, this strategy can work. (I can vouch for it.)

#3 is often overlooked and is often tied to #1. Sometimes your work is just awful but you have to get it done. At least eating something you like while you do it makes it bearable and even a bit enjoyable.

These three reasons to eat lunch while you work are not ideal, for sure. But not unreasonable either.

(Written while eating my lunch :))

(Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash )

Yep, it’s the weekend. Time to clean. Here’s how to do it better.

If you are like me and somewhat dread cleaning on the weekend, perhaps you need an alternative approach. One approach to consider is to spread it throughout the week so when the weekend comes it’s not so bad. The problem with that approach I have found is that the week speeds by and you are left with all the cleaning piling up into Saturday and Sunday.

One way to deal with that is having a cleaning schedule. If that sounds good tto you, read this: How to Create a Cleaning Schedule You Can Stick to | Apartment Therapy. Lots of good tips there, such as “throw things out as you go”. After all, why keep moving things around you don’t want or dust things you no longer like. Trash them, or better still, give them to someone who could use them.

May your (laundry) loads feel lighter after you put that article into practice!

 

How to easily redirect your Netfirms domain to another domain/web site

Recently I wanted to take a new domain registered at Netfirms (netfirms.com) and point it to another domain, so that if people put the URL of the the Netfirms domain in their browser (e.g. berniemichalik.ca), their browser would get redirected elsewhere (e.g. blm849.github.io).

I thought: this should be easy to find out how to do in 2021. I was surprised it wasn’t easy or obvious. Much of the advice was dated and not useful.

Now that I found out how to do it, I will show you what I did to get it to work in 7 easy steps:

  1. First, login to netfirms. It should take you to a web page like this: https://www1.netfirms.com/controlpanel/foundation/
  2. Click on “Domains” on the top left of screen
  3. Look for your domain (e.g. berniemichalik.ca) Click on the “Manage” button underneath it
  4. On the left, look for “Pointers and Subdomains” and click on it
    The web page your browser will go to will look something like this:
    https://www1.netfirms.com/controlpanel/foundation/berniemichalik.ca/pointers-subdomains.  And the page you see should look like the image at the top of this post.
  5. Click Under “Pointer Type” and set the value to “URL Standard”.
    In the box to the right, under “Directory”, put in the URL of your web site (note, put the entire URL, including http:// or https://).
  6. Click the “Save” button.
  7. Test it. Point your browser at the Netfirms URL and see if it gets redirected. (For me, if I type in berniemichalik.ca I get redirected to blm849.github.io). It may take some time, up to a few hours. But it will work. (If it doesn’t seem to be, try different browsers or ask someone else to try.)

That’s it. I hope this helps! Good luck!

 

A different kind of notebook: The Anti-Anxiety Notebook

Yesterday I recommended a paper planner. Today I am recommending a different type of paper product, The Anti-Anxiety Notebook. If you suffer from anxiety and cannot get the help you need to deal with it, such a notebook can help you. If you can get help, this notebook could supplement it.

It’s a well-designed book for dealing with anxiety and the approach they recommend I found useful in my dealings with my own anxiety. If you are interested but unsure, talk to a medical professional about it. But please check it out if you or someone you love suffers from anxiety.

(Photo by Ashley West Edwards on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. You need help planning. Maybe a better planner can help

As someone who does most of his planning digitally, it seems weird proposing people use this paper planner I found in a piece at Yanko Design. Even weirder, this planner comes to you via a kickstarter promotion, and I am reluctant to promote such things given my own bad experiences. But weird or not, this is a very nice planner at a very nice price, so if you are the type of person who likes paper, I highly recommend you go to their kickstarter and check it out.

The planner has many different types of pages: not just to-do lists and calenders. I can see it really helping people to get better organized and helping them to come up with new ideas and approaches. It might just be what you need to get better focused with your planning.

Head over to the kickstarter and decide for yourself!

How to tighten up your privacy settings at Google, Facebook, Amazon and Venmo

Do you use Google, Facebook, Amazon or Venmo? Ha! Of course you do. Do you want to having better control of your privacy regarding these companies? If so, go here: A guide to every privacy setting you should change now – Washington Post.

(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash )

How to overcome the mid-afternoon energy slump


If you find you are depending more and more on beating your midday slump with lots of caffeine, you may want to read this:How to Beat Your Mid-Day Slump Without Caffeine. In a nutshell:

  1. Limit your carb intake—and hydrate
  2. Work while standing (and inhaling good smells)
  3. Turn off your phone early—and get enough sleep
  4. Move your body for 15 minutes
  5. Incorporate music and meditation

I find #1 especially hard, because I will often eat a carby treat with my afternoon coffee to keep going. But it doesn’t last long.

A variation of #4 is stretch. While you may not have much room to move around, stretching is always possible and may help you in other ways.

Good luck!

No time to mediate or do other relaxing things? Why not try making risotto?


Yes, making risotto is a highly relaxing thing. It’s a dish I love to make just for the way it calms me down (not to mention it is delicious). You have to be mindful when making risotto. You don’t have to be constantly stirring it, but you do need to be attentive to it. Steam rises off it as you cook it, and that is relaxing. Once you get the hang of it, being mindful of the transformation of the dish is also relaxing.

Need more persuasion? Here’s the chef and owner of the River Cafe who thinks the way I do: A Chef’s Advice for Relaxation: Stir Some Risotto – The New York Times.

If the idea appeals to you, here are 20 Easy Risotto Recipes To Make All Season Long from Chatelaine.

Start off with a classic parmesan risotto and go from there! It’s really not that hard. Plus, as I argue here, it’s a great way to use up veg. Enjoy!

(Image by Roberto Caruso: linked to in the Chatelaine recipe.)

 

 

It’s Monday. You should update your resume (especially to deal with bad AI) and your LinkedIn too


It’s Monday. End of Summer. There are many things you could be doing in the last quarter of the year. One of them should be updating your resume, regardless of whether or not you are looking for a job.

A challenge with updating your resume these days is running into AI that filters you out for jobs you are applying for. To see what I mean, check this out. How to find a job and make your search for work less terrible – Vox. Some of that I disagree with but I found these two suggestions helpful:

Don’t leave off skills, even if they seem basic. Are you proficient at Excel? List it. “Your odds of getting an interview and a job if you have a facility with Microsoft Office goes up hugely,” Fuller said.

Don’t leave unexplained gaps. If you took a year off to write the Great American Novel, say so. Otherwise, it will look like you were doing nothing, and you might be screened out.

After you update your resume, make sure your LinkedIn is up to date and consistent with your resume. If you say you have five years experience doing XYZ and XYZ does not show up on your LinkedIn, employers will wonder why. So be consistent.

One article to improve your sleep, dozens of books to improve your life

If you feel the pandemic has messed up your sleep, you are not alone. Read this and with any luck you might find you can improve your sleep: How To Get a Better Night’s Sleep – The New York Times

The website FiveBooks.com will pick a topic and highlight five really good books on it. They have done it again with self help books. However, they seem to have decided that there are many types of self help books, so this piece has dozens of the best Self Help Books by various experts. You will no doubt find something there to help.

Get some sleep. Read some books. Make a good life better.

Friday night cocktails: G&T++

Sure, I have written about gin and tonic before. It’s a simple cocktail, you say…what else can you write about it? Well, bear with me and check out this article: 4 Ways To Make A Perfect Gin And Tonic in Chatelaine

You may have a great way to make gin and tonics and that’s great. But if you want to shake things up a bit (pun intended), check out that article. You’ll be glad you did.

Cincin!

(Image: a link to picture in the article above)

On being acknowledged at work for what you are good at

I have found over my many years at work there are:

1) Things you are good at / like to do
2) Things you get acknowledged for doing

And the intersection of the things you are good at and the things you get acknowledged for is a very small sweet spot.

I try to focus on doing things I am good at. Others I know focus on doing things that gets them recognition.  If you are like me, you will find times when you wish you were in the circle on the right. All I can say is that many in the right circle wish they were in the left circle. The good feeling of acknowledgement is great but it doesn’t last long. While the good feelings from doing things you are good at and like to do last a long time.

If you can find work that you like to do, are good at, and comes with much recognition, then you have a good job and you should stick with it as long as you can. Meanwhile celebrate all those acknowledged and congratulate them. Then go back to what you do best.

Read this when your motivation is still on summer vacation


Sometimes you come back from vacation, all rested, and you can dive back into work and be more productive than before you went away. Other times that productivity can be hard to find. If the latter is  you, I recommend you read this piece: Is Your Motivation Still on Vacation?

Get the most out of your vacations, including refilling the tank that your motivation comes from.

(Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash)

This makes me want to write a cover letter again. Read it and you will too.


In this era of LinkedIn and software processing your resume, cover letters seems like a relic. But hop over to here and read this one: Benedict Cumberbatch Reads “the Best Cover Letter Ever Written” | Open Culture.

It’s a treat to hear Cumberbatch read it, but even if you don’t, go and relish that one. You might want to write you own afterwards and send it unsolicited to organizations. They might enjoy it and want to have a chat with you!

(Photo by Álvaro Serrano on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. Aim to do more this week by doing less


I know that sounds contradictory, but if you think about it and read this you will see it makes sense: Want to Be More Productive? Try Doing Less.

If you are like me and a lot of people, you take on many (too many) assignments and tasks. You feel like you are getting a lot done but it may not seem satisfying or even worthwhile. If so, take the approach outlined in the article and focus on a few things and cut out the clutter.

More and more I find the secret of being successful is saying no to most things. You need to Marie Kondo your todo list and work on the tasks that bring you joy. It’s not always possible, but more possible than you think.

Good luck!

(Photo by Fernando Hernandez on Unsplash )

How to clean your house (and other things) if you’re depressed (or down in general)


I really found this article worthwhile: How to Clean Your House When You’re Depressed

It’s worthwhile reading even if you are not depressed. There can be times when it is too hard to clean your place. Unfortunately, a messy place may lead to more sadness and stress. Applying the lessons in that article can help alleviate that.

Now your house may not be messy, but you may be suffering from being down and not able to do other chores. Again, try and apply the lessons in that article. It may help you make progress, and clear signs of progress can often help.

Good luck. Go easy on yourself.

Consolations from the classics: Seneca and Suetonius

First up, Seneca. Here’s a good piece that summarizes some of the consolation letters he wrote to people close to him. Though they were written centuries ago, they are timeless and worth reading.

Second, Suetonius. Here’s a good piece on why you want to read him:  The Consolations of History. Essentially,  good histories like those of Suetonius give you  perspective that help you deal with your own time. Sometimes they do that by showing you things are fundamentally the same. Other times they do that by showing how much things have changed since that time. Either way you come away with a deeper understanding of your own time even as you learn about another time.

During the pandemic I have been noticing this frequently. People are looking back at the pandemic of 1918-19 and trying to draw lessons from it. That’s a good thing, I think. We can all gain perspective by looking to the past, which is never really past.

 

On the pleasures of darker tinted rosé (with a bonus recipe :))

I was surprised to read this and discover that many fans of rosé prefer the lighter coloured version: A Rosé by Any Other Color – The New York Times.

I like lighter coloured rosés, but I find the darker ones have more substance and are more interesting. If you need convincing, I recommend you read that. Heck, read it regardless: it’s a good piece.

After you do that, I recommend  you head out to your local wine shop and pick up a bottle or two. Maybe your favorite pale pink number combined with something darker. And if you do, why not pick up the ingredients to make a nice niçoise salad to go with it. I think they may be a perfect meal combo. If you want a minimal version of niçoise salad, I recommend this 5 ingredient version from Cup of Jo. Purists may disagree, but that is a fine dinner salad whatever you call it.

(Photo by Dennis Vinther on Unsplash )

 

More writing advice you may find useful


Here a list of 5 or more things to help you become a better writer and (self)publish your book. Let me know if you find any of it useful.

  1. Here’s good advice on the non daily writing practice
  2. This is good to read if you aren’t Steven King: On printing a small number of books
  3. Some useful writing tech: Calmly writer. It’s a good tool to help you write in a focused way.
  4. If you want to write non-fiction, here are some tips.
  5. If you want to publish your own book, read this.
  6. Here’s Maeve Binchy’s advice for writers.
  7. And here’s Austin Kleon’s advice for writers.
  8. If you want to write alot, here’s how to write 40 books like Graham Greene.
  9. Finally, this piece on how someone made 40K on their book. It’s worth a read if financial considerations are important to you.

(Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash …good advice as well.)

It’s Monday. Midsummer in the pandemic, WFH. You don’t want to do anything? This can help

Let’s face it: it can be hard at times to want to do anything, especially these days, the dog days of summer. You likely are getting tired from being at home all the time. The thought that the pandemic shows no sign of dying off doesn’t help. It’s also hot, and that can sap your morale too. What can you do?

Well, two things. First off, read this: How to Get Things Done When You Don’t Want to Do Anything – The New York Times. There’s some thoughtful advice on how to get enough motivation to do something. Don’t expect things to change overnight, but you can learn from it and get started.

If you are still struggling, maybe you need a better set up at home. If so, read this: 5 Habits of People Who Are Especially Productive Working from Home

Finally, maybe you need to create a short list of easy things to do to gain some momentum. I wrote about how you can do that, here.

We all fall into the doldrums from time to time. The quicksand of life, so to speak. Just stay positive and keep moving however slowly and you’ll get unstuck sooner than you think.

P.S. Finally grab one thing you love to do and do it. Don’t worry about being productive. Just focus on doing something.

(Photo by Christian Lambert on Unsplash)

How the list of five things gets you unstuck and going

Whenever I get stuck and feel unmotivated, I write up a list of five things to do. I recommend you do this too. The list can be trivial tasks that can be done in a minute. Nevermind, just write them down. Then do them. Then take a break and congratulate yourself! Only moments earlier you were not able to do anything and you  just did 5 things!

Here’s some things you can put on your list if you can’t think of anything:

  1. Take deep breaths
  2. Stretch
  3. Drink some water
  4. Have a snack
  5. Empty the garbage
  6. Tidy your desk
  7. Email a quick thank you/note of appreciation to someone
  8. Water your plants and see how they are doing
  9. Eat a piece of fruit
  10. Read something inspiration
  11. Write something inspirational for you to read tomorrow
  12. Delete unwanted emails
  13. Unsubscribe to unwanted emails
  14. Check your spam folder for important emails
  15. Declutter your desktop a bit / a lot
  16. Change into better clothes
  17. Wash your face
  18. Brush your teeth
  19. Sweep or clean an area of your home
  20. Plan to do something you enjoy

You can easily pull five things out of that list.

Once you get the five done, do five more. Maybe you now have the momentum to tackle something bigger? Great, then do that!

I find this technique good when my energy levels are low, or if my todo list seems daunting. Give it a try: you might find yourself getting more things done.

(Photo by ANIRUDH on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. You need a better way to use the pomodoro technique. Read this


There are two things I struggle with when it comes to the pomodoro technique and maybe you struggle with them too. First thing is the length of the pomodoro: 25 minutes is a loooong stretch for me somedays. Sometimes I may not even be able to do 5 minutes at a time. Second thing is that the timer is a distraction: I keep checking the time versus focusing what I am supposed to be doing.

If you also struggle with that, then read this: I Created The Best-Ever Pomodoro Timer, Just For You by Clive Thompson. Clive has the same problems I have and he writes about them there. Better still, he made a better pomodoro timer. Go check it out.

Your week will be more focused and productive because of it.

(Photo by Veri Ivanova on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. You’re todo list isn’t working for you. Here’s what you should consider


It’s Monday. You are trying to plan your day, your week, and you are struggling. It may just be you, but chances are it is the act of writing out your todo list. To see what I mean, read this excellent piece by my online friend and great writer, Clive Thompson. Everyone struggles with todo lists and the tools used to work with them. I know I do. I have used many such tools over time and have never landed on the perfect one.

So here’s what I recommend:

  1. First, acknowledge todolist tools are blunt instruments at best. Don’t try too hard to do everything with one tool. Do the best you can.
  2. Second, acknowledge that it is easy to overwhelm todo list tools with data. When you do, you end up spending more time working with the tool then getting things done. Try to hold back.
  3. Third, understand the level of granularity to require. Start high level on your todo lists and then drill down only if you have to.
  4. Finally, separate planning and reporting from todo lists. Your plans should drive your todo lists. Focus on more on achieving your plans and your goals and less on your tasks. Then when you are done, report what is necessary.

Todo list tools are good to help you achieve your tasks. But focus less on your tasks and tools and more on what you are trying to achieve.

(Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash )

Trite, simple advice to make you happier at home

butternknife with marmalade

Often times advice is overlooked because it is trite or simple. Such advice is like a butterknife: of limited use but still useful.

We can use all the tools we can to be happier. Even those that cut like butterknives. Here’s 10 of them right here: 10 simple things to make you happier at home

Whatever can help you cut through life’s sadness is worthwhile, I think.

(Photo by Calum Lewis on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. Here’s some advice on how to work hard EFFECTIVELY. (Think Marathon training)

Marathon event

It’s Monday. You have a work week ahead of you. Here’s a good essay by Paul Graham on: How to Work Hard – Paul Graham

I often disagree with Graham on Twitter and you may too. However don’t be put off by that: his essays tend to be well thought out and worthy of a read and your consideration.

As for me, where I learned how to work hard effectively is during marathon training. Training for a marathon is a form of hard work. I would argue it is the best form of hard work. Here’s why.

For marathon training, you need:

  1. a clear goal. For many people, it is to finish the marathon. Or to finish it under a certain time. There are subgoals too: not get injured during the race, or to race easy, or to have a negative split. To work hard effectively, you need goals and subgoals
  2. a well thought out plan. People who train effectively for a marathon have a well thought out plan to achieve their goal. These plans can be anywhere from 12-20 weeks and describe what you are doing each day. The plan is often broken up into phase: a phase where you build up your mileage, a phase where you work to get faster, and a tapering phase. A good training plan gets you much closer to achieving your goal.
  3. A mix of hard and easy training. No one goes hard every day in marathon training. You will fail if you do. Overall the training is hard, but there are many days where it is easy. Days your body gets to recover. Some days you may not train at all. The most effective way to work hard over a long period of time is to mix in easy periods.
  4. A good amount of fun and variety. Yes, good marathon training has fun and variety mixed in. It’s not the same every day. It’s not all a grind. Good marathon runners will run fartleks for fun or run with friends to help keep their spirits up. They might mix in some cross training. They rarely run the same distance every day.
  5. Passion and vision. More than anything, you need these. You need to have a strong desire to get through the training. A desire that gets you out of bed for those long runs when you really don’t want to. You need to have a vision of where you will end up when you complete the training. Successful marathoners see themselves reaching that goal most days of their training. It’s the thing that gets them excited to run the same routes over and over again. It’s the thing that gets them pumped when they have to charge up hills. Preparing for a marathon can’t feel like a job if you are going to do it well.

Now ask yourself about hard work that you have to do? Do you have those things. That hard project you have in front of you: are you passionate about it? Do you have a vision of what completing it looks like? Do you have a clear goal and a well thought out plan? Do you have a practice of taking breaks, or is it full tilt all the time? Is it merely a grind, or do you have fun and variety in it? If you have all the features of marathon training in your plan, chances are you will be able to work hard, very hard, and be successful.

Do work hard poorly is to waste yourself, to waste your life. Don’t do that. Work hard effectively and  make the most of your life.  Good luck!

(Photo by Capstone Events on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. You need to start writing better emails. This can help


It’s Monday. Most of you need to write better emails. Want to know how to do that? Read this: How to Write Less Terrible Emails If Writing Doesn’t Come Easy to You. You will learn several good things from that article, including how to structure your email. Essentially your emails should be in this form:

1. Greeting
2. Ask or action requested
3. Concise description of context and impact
4. Closing

Now some of you may say: I don’t need email, I have Slack. Trust me: you still need email and you need to know how to construct good emails. Read that and you will.

If you don’t have to send email, then don’t. That’s the best option. But if you do, send a good one.

On what you can learn from the obituaries of the not quite famous


What can we learn from the obituaries of the not quite famous? I thought of that when I was reading the sad fate of Hash Halper, here: Hash Halper, Street Artist Who Adorned New York With Hearts, Dies at 41 – The New York Times.

Obituaries in big newspapers tend to be for the rich and famous and powerful and great. Mainly. But sometimes you read about someone who was none of those things, who was struggling, yet who affected people in a positive way. Someone like Hash Halper.

What we learn, perhaps, is that it doesn’t matter if you were rich and powerful.  Bernie Madoff was rich and powerful. It didn’t make his life better or more worthwhile. Hash Halper did more good with his chalk hearts than Madoff did with all he had. In the end, it all washes away, save for the things you did to affect the lives of others.

We can learn many things from the obituaries of the not quite famous. Maybe we can learn/be reminded of what it is we want to do in the world, while we are here. That’s a very fine thing to learn indeed.

Rest in peace, Hash Halper.

(Image Kholood Eid for The New York Times, link)

It’s Monday. Time to rewrite those S.M.A.R.T. goals. Here’s why

If you’ve done any work on goal setting, you’ve likely heard of SMART goals. You may even have used them to achieve an outcome you wanted. That’s good. Before you do that again, read this good argument on why you need to critically rethink the use of them: SMART Goals Are Overrated.

For example do you do this? Do you say: S.M.A.R.T. stands for…

Specific, Measurable, something, something, Time-bound. There’s disagreement on what some of the letters stand for, which is our first hint that maybe they’re not that important.

Yep, I do that too. I usually get the R (realistic), but then I get tripped up on the A (if it’s Achievable, how is that different than Realistic?).

Ok, you say, fine…it’s a weak acronym, but it still works. True, it can work. It can help you define your goal and get it done.  But as the article says, you can end up getting “tunnel vision”.  Instead of aiming on achieving your utmost, you settle for something smaller that you can measure and achieve in a set time. That’s less than ideal.

The article goes on and promotes the idea that you should…

Deliberately remove one or more of those SMART parameters and push yourself to see what you can achieve when it’s no longer a pass/fail test.

I like that. Essentially use the SMART goal as a stepping stone to a much large goal that may not be achievable or timely but it’s a goal that gets you excited.

Because here’s the thing: SMART goals may be achievable but they might not be the thing that gets you up early in the morning to do the thing you have to do to achieve your goal. Sometimes you need that big goal, that vision of something great, that …that is the thing that gets you out of bed in the morning.

So yes, SMART goals are good. But tweak them and stretch them and build upon them and make something better. You may find that you not only achieve more goals, but you achieve bigger goals too.

(Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash )

If you think you are suffering from complex PTSD

If you think you might be suffering from PTSD, I recommend you review this checklist: Signs You Might Be Suffering from Complex PTSD.

As someone who suffered from PTSD, I found it useful. If too many of them ring a bell for you, what should you do? First,

… stop being brave. We should allow ourselves to feel compassion for who we were; that might not be easy, given how hard we tend to be with ourselves. The next step is to try to identify a therapist or counsellor trained in how to handle Complex PTSD

There is nothing wrong with being brave. It’s admirable in many ways. Just don’t let it get in the way of getting help.

.(Photo by Finn on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. The best time management tool you have is the word “No”

I was reading this piece, Time Management Won’t Save You, and thinking about it a lot. Some of it I agreed with, other parts of it I thought dumb. However, I did do some thinking after I read this:

In all of these instances, the solution isn’t to become more efficient to accommodate more tasks, more decisions, and more distractions. The imperative is clear: simplify. Reduce the number of tasks you take on, replace decisions with principles, and put structure in place to eliminate distractions.

He is arguing that the goal is simplifying. I agree. But I would be more assertive: if you have too much to do, the goal is to say “no”. You have to say “no” to many things in order to say “yes” to the things that matter. Saying “no” gives you more time to do the things you need to do.

You might find saying “no” hard, but you are doing it all the time. If you choose one task to work on over another, you are saying yes to one and no to the other. If you interview 5 people for a job, you have to say no to the others. It goes on and on.

Part of the reason we think saying “no” is hard is because it implies a judgment on what you said no to. For example, if I hire one person over 4 others, it doesn’t mean the people I don’t hire are bad. It means the person I hired is the best fit for this particular job. If I buy a medium size shirt, it doesn’t mean the large shirt and the small shirt are bad: it means the medium fit best. That’s all.

Likewise sometimes we say “no” when we really mean “not now”. For example, I love chocolate cake, but I might say “no” to it because I am full. I still love the cake, it just isn’t the right time for it.

Indeed, if you find say “no” hard, try “not right now” or  “not this week ” or “not until my next review period”.

Saying “no” is like weeding your garden. Weeds aren’t bad: some are beautiful. But your focus is on what you are trying to grow. That’s all you are saying with the weeding you do. Likewise, that is all you are doing when you are saying “no”. You are maintaining your focus in order to have the best outcome.

Go through all the things taking up your focus. Dump most of them into your “no/not now” list. Enjoy the time you now have to do the things that matter most.

(Photo by Daniel Herron on Unsplash )

Work is not good for working parents. The pandemic exposed that.


If you are parenting small kids (or in my case, single parenting a large teen), you know how hard it has been during the pandemic to be a good worker. You know it was very hard to be a good parent, and it was basically impossible to take over the job of support staff for your kid’s teacher. Yet even before the pandemic it was hard to do all those things.

If you agree, I highly recommend this article.

If you are young and planning to have a career and have children, you should especially read it. At many firms, you should expect your career to take a hit if you have to beg off to do parental thing. Plan according.

(Photo by Alexander Dummer on Unsplash )

S.A.D. – not just for winter


If you think Seasonal Affective Disorder is something that only affects people in winter, read this. In some ways, it can be worse in the summer. People think: you should be happy with all the nice weather. There’s all kinds of sunlight too, they might add. But people can struggle in the dog days as much as any other time….I know I do. I find August as difficult as February. The reasons are different, but the challenges are similar.

If you find your mood goes poorly in the summer, read that piece.

(Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash )

Does work leave you feeling exploited, exhausted, and alone?

Do you look to work to love you back? To make you feel valued, energized, part of a big family? Instead, do you feel “exploited, exhausted, and alone”? If so, you will want to read this.

It is a piece aimed at creative workers, but really, it can apply to anyone.

There is a lot to be gained from work besides a paycheque. But sometimes the expectations set are well beyond what work can do. If you feel your expectations are too hard, read that.

It’s Monday. Why are you working more than five hours a day?


It’s Monday. You are only working five hours today, right? I bring this up because I recently read this piece in Wired on how that is the right amount of hours to work each day, and how people who worked that way were more productive.

Of course there are a few caveats. For one thing, many jobs are not mainly focused on being productive. Anyone who has a job that requires many meetings can tell you that. But if you have a job that is largely focused on producing things, then try and limit yourself to five hours.

(Photo by ANIRUDH on Unsplash )

If you ever have that feeling of not wanting to be here

If you ever have that feeling of not wanting to be her, these article might be of some help:

If they don’t help or they don’t help enough, consult with a professional right away.

(Photo by John Baker on Unsplash )

On the difficulty with being stuck on a local maximum

In math there is the concept of a local maximum. It is a point on a curve that is higher than the area around it, but not the highest point on the entire curve.

This happens in life too. You can be at a point in your life where you know life could be better, but to make a move from that point leads to life getting worse. Now if this high point is good, you can feel pretty good about it. Sure you could try and go for the higher point, but you may decide the tradeoff isn’t worth it.

The problem is when the high point isn’t good. Here you are stuck between choosing bad or worse. You could decide to move from bad to worse on the hope of getting to a much better life, but what if you don’t have the resources to do so? What if you move off the local maximum and fall into the valley of the a local minimum and never move off of there?

When you ask yourself those questions and you don’t have good answers, you will get stuck. You will be unhappy with the thought of staying, and unhappy with the thought of leaving. It’s hard. Here’s some things to consider.

First off, this is just a model. A diagram. It’s not the real world. It’s just a way of analyzing your situation. Your life is not just one point on a curve, not one score (like an IQ) that says your life is good or bad. Mathematically speaking, your life is more like a set of numbers, all different values on different curves, and these values are changing all the time. Indeed, if you only focus on one number, you may find you life painful and shallow. Some people devote their life to one measure: an award, a championship, a job title, and find themselves disappointed and even bitter when they achieve it and realize they gave up everything just for that.

Second, it is hard to measure things even at the best of times. That job title you wished so hard for suddenly means nothing when the company suddenly goes bankrupt. Or the limited domestic life you have suddenly looks good when a pandemic lands on everyone.  Measurements change all the time as the ground shifts all the time, and all measurements are relative.

That said, it is no reason to be complacent. Have more faith in yourself. Look back at all the difficulty you have had in the past that you survived and prospered in. If you do move off your local maximum, you may get stuck in a rut for awhile. But only for awhile. Keep moving. Keep remembering that you life is more than one measure, and if you are in a rut workwise, for example, your life may be at a high point in other aspects. You are not measured by one number: you are measured by a set of numbers. Better still, you can decide on some of those numbers yourself. Don’t let others dictate the numbers.

What curves you use to measure yourself, and how you measure them, are up to you. Choose wisely, and you may find your life is closer to the maximum point than you thought.

Have a good life.

It’s Monday. You want to stop procrastinating. You need to use your brain (better)


It’s Monday. If you are struggling with procrastinating, here is a good article on how to finally stop procrastinating for real this time. Basically in order to understand why you are procrastinating, you need to understand there are two parts of your brain that are influencing your behaviour. Knowing this can help you change. Here’s a key quote:

…there’s a part of the brain that accurately weighs the benefits of a behavior against its costs. This is your neocortex, and it’s one of the newest and shiniest parts of our brains. Very often, the neocortex comes to quite reasonable conclusions—that, for instance, the benefits of exercising outweigh the costs. But there’s another part of your brain that’s been around for millions of years—the limbic system—and it only seems to care about what’s happening right now. So if a behavior incurs more upfront hassles than upfront benefits, the limbic system isn’t interested in participating.

For more on this, read the article. It will help you get your neocortex and your limbic system working together. If you do that, you will definitely procrastinate less.

(Photo by Jason Strull on Unsplash )

Two hacks for cleaning your oven

Sure, you can go out and buy oven cleaner and deal with all that. Or you can try one of these two hacks to clean your oven:

  1. Clean Oven with a Dishwasher Tablet | Kitchn
  2. Use Shaving Cream to Clean an Oven | Kitchn

I haven’t tried them, so I can verify they are good. But if they work as well as the articles say, it could be a nice alternative way to have a sparkling oven.

Let me know if you try them and if it works.

What do you do if you want to keep working from home

While many of us have been forced to work from home during the pandemic, that time may be ending some time this year. Many people will be delighted to go back. If this is not the case for you, then read this article.

That article contains good advice for either finding a new job that is full time remote, or finding a job that can be a hybrid. Either way, if you want to continue to work from home, I recommend you start thinking of how to achieve that now.

(Photo by Collov Home Design on Unsplash )