Tag Archives: advice

Here’s 100 ways to improve your life by tweaking it slightly


I love this: 100 ways to slightly improve your life without really trying | Life and style | The Guardian. While it’s great to tackle big resolutions in the new year, sometimes small changes are fine.

Here’s a few of the 100 to give you a sense of what they recommend:

24 Start a Saturday morning with some classical music – it sets the tone for a calm weekend.
25 Look closely.
27 If possible, take the stairs.
30 Be polite to rude strangers – it’s oddly thrilling.

I especially like 30!

While the Guardian says they are slight, I think some of them take a bit of work. But see for yourself. Look closely. 🙂

How I track my goals and my year using spreadsheets: my 2021 review. (Maybe you can steal this approach)

I’ve used a number of ways to track my goals and my year, and I have found spreadsheets the best way to do it.

Below are snapshots of the two worksheets I used in my spreadsheet. The first image is the worksheet I use for the goals I have regarding my responsibility for people and other things. The second image is the worksheet I use for the goals I have regarding myself. Each row is a week in the year. If I did nothing to advance the goal that week, I colour the cell red. If I did something but fell short, I use yellow. If I had a good week, the cell is green, and if I had a great week the cell is purple.

What’s nice about using colour like this is that I can zoom out and see how I am progressing over the year.

In the first two columns above I track how much I do for my son and daughter. Pretty good there. The next column is what I do for my brother and sister: I started weak but picked up throughout the year. It was good, and better than last year, but it can be better still. Next column is for keeping in touch with friends. It’s tough in a pandemic but I could email and use social media. The last three columns are my home, my finances, and my involvement in politics.  I was much better with political engagement last year: this year the pandemic wore me down. Likewise I did ok managing my home and finances this year but it could be better. All in all too much red and yellow in those last 2 columns. (Part of the problem is I find them thankless tasks that provide little or no good feedback.)

After my responsibility to others,  my goals are managing myself. I found I did poorly on the hard parts of this but better on the soft parts. lol! The first two columns above are fitness (do more exercising) and reading (do more reading). I get a D to an F grade for much of the year there. The third column tracks how much I draw and do other art. Again, D or maybe a C-. I did well writing (column 4): I wrote every week in my main blog, and sometimes elsewhere.  After that comes column 5 and IT skills development: I got maybe a B- there. Often that takes a backseat to other things. In terms of cooking (column 6) that was easy in a pandemic! I did a lot of cooking and cooked hundreds of different recipes. (I track all the meals separately because I am a nut.)

For a long time I felt homebound and never did things for myself, so I tried to improve that and make them goals. So the last three columns are Treats, Restaurants I’ve tried, and new and good things I have done. Mostly I’ve done well there, compared to reading and fitness. Sigh. Ah well. (Those are easy to do, since the feedback you get once you do them is really good.)

The colour coding is subjective, of course, and in a pandemic the bar to green and purple is lower. But as a consultant, I quite like this way of tracking my goals.

Now I have a lot of goals, I admit. One thing nice about that is that I usually feel like I am accomplishing something. So if I am not getting in shape, at least I am keeping in touch with people and taking care of other things.

I also don’t track everything in a spreadsheet: I have some goals I track elsewhere, for example for some relationships and responsibilities. Likewise I sometimes have goals that are in a limited time window of weeks instead of months: they don’t go here.

It may seem like a lot to track, but I find I spent a few minutes each day then I can get it done. Plus I can course correct this way too and shift my priorities around.

If you struggle with goals and tracking them and moving forward, I recommend this approach. It’s fast and painless.

Here’s to achieving your goals, small and big, in 2022.

Great dumbbell exercises and other good things to get back in shape post holidays

If you are past Christmas feast you may be thinking of getting in shape as a New Year’s Resolution. If so, good for you. But you may need help. Here’s some links to do that.

I am a big fan of dumbbells, both at home and in the gym, and I think they are a great way to get stronger and fitter. This particular guide is one of the best ones I’ve seen: 19 Best Dumbbell Exercises for Building Muscle 2021 | Garage Gym Reviews. If you want to take them up or get back into them, read that.

If you aren’t sure how often you should work out, read this, How to Motivate Yourself to Exercise Every Morning, this Can You Do a Full-Body Workout Two Days in a Row?, and this I Stopped Working Out Daily. Here’s What Happened.

If you want to get started but find the idea of it daunting, read this,  How to ‘Grease the Groove’ and Exercise Easy – The Atlantic and this, From Zero to 45 Days in a Row: How I Built a Habit of Daily Exercise.

Good luck! Get up and go!

(Image from Garage Gym)

 

 

 

How to easily buy wine as a gift at the LCBO


You want to buy wine for a gift at the LCBO. Maybe you know nothing about wine. Maybe you only know a little bit. Unless you know a lot, here’s what I recommend. It’s simple.

Go into your local LCBO. Ask for where the Wines of the Month are. Buy as many of those as your budget allows. That’s it.

You can also go to the web site and look for Vintages New Releases. Once on that page, look for Explore our featured products and click on it. Then look for Wines of the Month. Easy peasy.

What’s great about this is you can be sure those wines are very good and carefully selected by staff at the LCBO. Not only that, but most of the time they are around twenty bucks. Want to spent $40? Buy two bottles.  If you want to spend over a $100, you can consider getting a half case or more. Or mix in a bottle of champagne: you can’t go wrong with that.

If you know what the person likes, then you can buy that. If you know wine, then you should pick what you think is best. Otherwise, follow this and you won’t go wrong.

 

It’s Monday. The Holiday Season is Upon Us. You need help

The holiday season is upon us! If you need help, The Washington Post has your back with these tips for decorating — and staying organized — for the holidays.

Included are such classics as:

  • How to stay organized
  • How to pick a tree
  • How to do your lights

And more. Don’t fret. You can do it. It’s not too late. Grab a piece of paper and a candy cane and get working on planning, and more importantly ENJOYING, the holidays. Cheers!

You have some difficult things you need to get done. What you need is a hate day


According to this, a hate day is…

…a day each week when I lump together all the tasks that steal my energy to knock them out in one long, extended punch.

So if you have a pile of things you have putting off, that might be a way to do them. Now not only will you get them done, but you won’t be thinking about them all the time.

Some additional thoughts:

  • if a day seems too much, pick a part of the day you think is best. Even an afternoon can be good.
  • if you don’t get them all done, you still got some done. Remember that.
  • treat yourself afterwards if you can. Hey you did a hard thing!
  • give yourself a lot of credit for getting the hard things done. You should be proud!

P.S. Yes, there is a German word for it. According to the piece, it is called a “Kleinscheiss Tag”—or, “little shit day.”

 

Good gift ideas: books (courtesy of Five Books)


Books usually make good gift ideas. While there are lots of ways to come up with book ideas, one way I think is good is to go to FiveBooks.com and check out their most recommended books. They have them all listed, here.

You can’t go wrong with any of books on the list. In the worst case, you can refresh a copy of a book the person may already have.

How I made my bucket list by making a reverse bucket list

bucket list
Have you been thinking of making a bucket list? A few years ago I was thinking the same thing. Do you get stuck when you try to do it? Me too.  I started creating one back then but it seemed blah and untrue.

Since I was stuck,  I started researching what other people put on their lists.  I wrote down the things people listed and then put them into groups. The main groups looked like this:

  • Fitness goals
  • Creative goals
  • Travel goals
  • Material attainment goals
  • Relationship attainment goals
  • Fame goals
  • Spiritual achievement goals

Within these groups there were subgroups:

  • Fitness goals
    • Complete an event (e.g. 5K/10K/marathon)
    • Complete certain fitness challenges (e.g. 100 pushups)
    • Join a gym / join a team
    • Lose / gain weight
    • Change your diet, go on a diet and lose x pounds, become a vegan / vegetarian
  • Creative goals
    • Write a book, play or poem
    • Learn an instrument
    • Learn how to draw, paint, sculpt, take photography
    • Learn a language
    • Act in a play
    • Sing or play in a band
    • Read certain books
  • Travel goals
    • Visit certain countries
    • Visit cities
    • Stay at certain places
    • Go to certain museums
    • Eat at certain places
    • Meet certain people
    • See specific sites
    • Travel in specific ways
  • Material attainment goals
    • Own a certain vehicle
    • Own a certain home/house
    • Live in a particular place
    • Start a business
    • Save X amount of money
    • Have certain investments
  • Personal and Relationship attainment goals
    • Get engaged / married / divorced
    • Disconnect or reconnect with certain people
    • Have kids
    • Have pets
    • Complete college or university
    • Learn a non-creative skill
  • Fame goals
    • Win certain awards
    • Meet certain people
    • Perform in certain venues
    • Appear in certain media
  • Spiritual achievement goals
    • Perform certain pilgrimages
    • Do specific religious activities

I used this as the basis of my reverse bucket list. I went through those categories and listed all the things I had already done. It was surprisingly a lot.

Then I took things not yet done and separated them into three lists:  Want to Do, Maybe Do, Not Interested in Doing.  The first two make up my new Bucket List.

So now I have a Bucket List of things I want to do, plus a Reverse Bucket List of things that would have been on the Bucket List of younger Me.

A Reverse Bucket List is a good thing to have: it can help you come up with a Bucket List and it can give you a sense of accomplishment. I highly recommend you make both.

P.S. I started thinking again about bucket lists after reading this:  One Thing I Don’t Plan to Do Before I Die Is Make a Bucket List. That’s totally understandable.

Another thought I had is there are things I want to do again. Go to Paris and NYC were things I really wanted to do when I was younger and I did. But I want to do them again. You don’t have to always be doing new and unique things. Sometimes enjoy what is have is the best.

(Photo by Tobi Law on Unsplash)

Thoughts on getting my booster vaccine

I got my booster shot yesterday. It was different from my other two in several ways. My first two were AZ shots at my local pharmacy: this was Pfizer at the Toronto Metro Convention Center. Getting it at a pharmacy is very low key: at the Center it was a process. That said, it was a well organized and fast process. I went from entering the building to sitting in the waiting area in minutes. There are lots of signs and assistance everywhere and well done.

Like my other two vaccines the side effects occurred. I slept a lot. With this one, my arm was sore longer. Also I had flu like chills at one point. Overall though it was fairly mild.

The pandemic is hard. Get your vaccine booster when you are eligible. Get a flu shot too.

Some consolation for “bad” sleepers

man yawning

Are you worried you are a bad sleeper? Do you wake up in the middle of the night often and think: OMG I will never get back to sleep?? Do you fret daily about what can be done about your sleeping?

If those things apply to you, first of all, read this: Shuteye and Sleep Hygiene: The Truth About Why You Keep Waking up at 3 a.m.

The key take away I took from it is this:

A mindset change may be what’s needed. “People might have this belief that they are a ‘bad sleeper’ and there is nothing that they can do about it. Sometimes it’s about changing people’s perceptions of what good sleep looks like.” Taylor says she “really cannot bear” fitness trackers, which monitor sleep, for focusing people’s minds on often inaccurate data. It is wrong to assume that you must sleep through the night, every night, she says. “We all have blips in our sleep – it’s never going to be that you sleep brilliantly all the time.”

Maybe I am not the good sleeper I wish I was. But maybe it is not as bad as I feared. That might apply to you too.

(Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash )

It’s Monday. You have a difficult decision to make. Use this approach to make it

a ladder

If you have a difficult decision to make, then the 5-minute ladder rule is a good way to approach it. Essentially the ladder rule allows you ” to climb, one rung at a time, to a resolution. For example, at the first rung, ask yourself:

  • “Will this decision have a measurable or noticeable impact on my people, my company, or society?
  • Is this decision time-sensitive?”

The rest of the rungs and the approach in general can be found here: Stressing Out About a Tough Decision? Make it Easy with the 5-Minute ‘Ladder Rule’ | Inc.com.

Dealing with tough decisions is like falling into a big hole — it can overwhelm us. The ladder rule approach can help you get out of such overwhelming sitations. Give it a try.

(Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash)

It’s Monday. You need some inspirational quotes to perhaps fire you up. Here’s 10

EpictetusMark Dymond, a senior leader in my part of IBM, has put together a good list of leadership quotes that I think can benefit a wide range of people. My favorite of them is from one of my favorite thinkers, Epictetus:

Anyone can hold the tiller when the sea is calm.

Check out his list for the other 9. Worthwhile.

(Image of Epictetus from Wikipedia)

If you are writing a bash script to call a curl command and you want to pass variable values to it, read this…

CodingImage
If you are writing a bash script to call a curl command and you want to pass variable values to it, you may find a hard time determining how to go about it. I did!! I consulting with lots of pages, and nothing seemed to tell me what I want.

Here’s what I eventually did.

Take this example. I am using curl to call the sendgrid API, as you can see below. (I don’t have all the variables, but they were all strings like THESUBJECT and THECONTENT.).

The trick is in the use of single and double quotes. For the variables, they are in double quotes. But notice the use of single and double quotes in the curl command:


TOYOU="noone@gmail.com"
THESUBJECT="once again!"
THECONTENT="Looks good!"
curl --request POST --url https://api.sendgrid.com/v3/mail/send \
--header 'Authorization: Bearer '$AUTH_TOKEN \
-H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
--data '{"personalizations": [{"to": [{"email": '\"$TOYOU\"'}]}],"from": {"email": '\"$FROMME\"'}, "subject": '\""$THESUBJECT"\"', "content": [{"type": "text/plain", "value": '\""$THECONTENT"\"' }]}'

Let’s look at the variables in that curl command.

$AUTH_TOKEN has no quotes around it. In fact, it is up against a single quote on its left. That single quote ends the string Authorization: Bearer and let’s the script fill in the value of $AUTH_TOKEN.

Now look at $TOYOU AND $FROMME. Both of those variables have no blanks in them. So there is a single quote-slash-double quote on the left and a slash-double quote-single quote to the right.

that is different than $THESUBJECT and $THECONTENT. Those strings have blanks in them. For them, there is a single quote-slash-double quote-double quote to the left of them and a double quote-slash-double quote-single quote to the right.

It’s crazy but true. Good luck with it!

(Photo by Shahadat Rahman on Unsplash )

Five digital tools to help you with Kanban (plus one analog tool)

Last week I extolled the virtues of Kanban. If you are looking to grab some tech to run yours from, here are 5 open-source kanban boards to help you get and stay on task from TechRepublic. I’ve used one of them (Kanboard, seen above) and liked it. Check them out and see which one works best for you.

If analog is more your thing, consider this tool featured on Yanko design:

You can easily work this into a Kanban type tracker. Plus it looks cool.

For more on it, see it here.

It’s never too late to….

It’s never too late to do many things. And the Times has an entire section devoted to it, here. For example, here is a lovely story on people who fell in love in their 80s. Here’s another fine piece about a woman in her 60s who learned how to swim.

If you are older and you feel it’s too late to attempt to do the Thing You Always Wanted To Do, read those pieces.

This goes for younger people too. Sometimes people in their 30s or 40s think it is too late to do something. Nonsense. It’s never too late to start.  You may not reach the stars, as they say, but you’ll land on the moon. Better than than continually looking up wondering what if.

IBM Cloud tip: take advantage of tags to better manage your cloud environment

Last week I encouraged you to  consider your naming standards before adding services. This week I’d like to encourage you to use tags as well to help you manage your IBM Cloud environment.

 

As this piece from the IBM Cloud Docs on Working with tags explains, you can use tags to

organize, track usage costs, and even manage access to your resources. You can tag related resources and view them throughout your account by filtering by tags from your resource list. To see a full list of tags in your account, go to Manage > Account in the IBM Cloud® console, and select Tags. You can apply user tags to organize your resources and easily find them later or help you with identifying specific team usage or cost allocation. By creating access management tags, you can control access to your resources without requiring updates to your IAM policies.

Here’s some examples, partially taken from the same piece:

  • Use tags to identify or even manage access to your development environment, not to mention QA, UAT, Production and DR
  • Use tags to identify or even manage access to a project: project:lw-wizard, app:poc-app
  •  Use tags to define compliance requirements: dataresidency:germany, compliance:hipaa, compliance:pii
  •  Use tags to help you automate optimization: schedule:24×7, maxruntime:12days

So use tags: your IBM cloud environment will be easier to operate if you do.

For more on this, here’s a good blog post on tags, here: Characteristics of User and Access Tags on IBM Cloud | IBM

And this piece in IBM Cloud Docs is a good tutorial that will guide you:

…through the steps to centrally manage access to the resources in your account at scale (using tags). By completing this tutorial, you learn how to create an access management tag, add the tag to selected resources, and define a policy to assign access to resources based on the tags on those resources.

Good stuff. Start using tags more and you will find it much easier to manage your resources in the IBM Cloud. If you are unsure, start with a few for now (e.g. tag your production environment, tag resources belong to specific groups).  You’ll start to see the benefits soon.

It’s Monday. You want to be more productive. Toss your todo list and project plans and use a Kanban board


It’s true: we can all get more done if we adopt Kanban boards, as this piece in TechRepublic argues. While todo lists are good, Kanban boards give you more. They show you your backlog (more or less your todo list). But they also show you todos in progress and what state they are in. That’s good. They’re more flexible than a project plan, which is great for when you aren’t sure of what it takes to get done. In effect, they lie somewhere between a todo list and a project plan.

Kanban boards are also good for prioritizing long lists of todos. The tasks that leave the backlog are the ones you have decided are the most important. That’s useful, especially if you are trying to communicate to someone else what is happening and what is on hold.

Kanban boards also give you a sense of progress. Sure there may be lots of things to do, but over time the Done column fills up. It can give you a real sense of accomplishment.

They have weaknesses though. If the tasks you include are too big, they may sit in one column for a long time. If the tasks are too small, they move quickly from backlog to done.  That said, those weaknesses can turn into strengths. Items that are too big should be broken down into parts. Small items can be lumped together with larger items or left off all together.

There’s lots of ways to create a Kanban board. Simply sticky notes can work. You can use a window or whiteboard or even fridge to attached them too. You can also use software tools. You can set up a spreadsheet with the various columns. You can use a tool like Workflowy to manage them. Trello boards are another source. You can even build your own, like I did using IBM Cloud years ago. 

While it may seem that they are tools for IT only, they actually can be used by anyone. For anything.  Moving your home? Use a Kanban tool. Planning a trip? Kanban it. Staging a big event? Well, you know.

So get out your todo list or your project plan and turn it into a Kanban board. You will see results soon enough.

(Image from the TechRepublic article)

 

So you are thinking of quitting your job during the Great Resignation. If so, read this

If you are thinking of walking away from your job these days,  you are not alone. As the WSJ says:

The ‘Great Resignation’ is on. Here’s what to do about your finances before embarking on the slowdown you’ve been craving.

Wait! You haven’t thought of your finances before quitting? Well stop for a second and read this: How to Prepare Your Finances Before Quitting Your Job – WSJ.

Change is good. Well thought out change is better. So get your finances in place and then make your move. Good luck!
(Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash )

IBM Cloud tip: consider your naming standards before adding services

Before adding services to your IBM Cloud environment, consider adopting a naming standard for them. By default IBM Cloud services will give them a unique name (e.g.IBM Log Analysis-4g, DB2-r0). While that may be fine, giving them a name that clearly identifies their role and service (e.g. DB2-Development, IBM Log Analysis for Production) helps the support teams do their job easier. It can also help later if you are deciding to pare back services. If you have 10 instances of DB2 or 100 devices, clear naming standards will also help you decide which ones to delete and which ones to keep.

It’s Monday. If you are feeling down on yourself and unmotivated, do this

It’s Monday. You are feeling unmotivated, insecure, lacking in confidence to do the things you have to do. One approach to deal with this is this? This: Motivate Yourself by Listing the Stuff You’re Already Doing Right

You may not realize it, but you already have such a list: it’s called your resume. Your resume is a list of stuff you’ve done or are doing right! Go check it out and see how great you are. If that isn’t enough, consider adding to it, even informally.

For fun, you can do a resume for all the other roles and skills you have, from

  • good friend, sibling,  relative or support person
  • good cook, runner, knitter, bartender, painter, coach, joke teller
  • expert or teacher on your favorite topics
  • &c

We are all good at so many things. Instead of fretting on your gaps or deficiencies, focus on your strengths. Try and deploy them this week and get things done.

If you use Chrome as your regular browser, read this and make it better

If you use Chrome as your main browser, you owe it to yourself to read this:  11 of the Best Free Extensions for Google Chrome.

I’ve used a number of them and continue to use Momentum and Grammarly. They make it a better tool.

P.S. And speaking of making tools work better, if you want to have better search results from Google in Chrome, read this: 20 Google Search Tips to Use Google More Efficiently

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)

Why you may not want to send smart home devices like Google Nest to university with your kids

I decided to send my son off to university with a Google Home device (a Lenovo Smart Clock). He could use it as a clock, to get the weather, to play music and to provide rain sounds. You may be thinking something similar.

The problem is that at least for some of these devices, they assume that the wifi works like a home network. Home wifi networks often only need a password to join them. However for my son’s university the wifi network needed a userid and password. There is no place in Google Home to provide the userid, so I was unable to set it up for him.

Something to keep in mind.

On connecting a Chromebook to a wifi network using LEAP like the one at Dalhousie

Here’s the problem: you are trying to connect your Chromebook to a wifi network like the one at Dalhousie University that uses the LEAP protocol. That protocol is likely well and good if you use an up to date Windows or MacOS computer. But as I found, it’s no good for the Chromebook I had because it did not have LEAP as an option. What to do?

Well if you get into the network settings and you go with the EAP-TTLS with the settings above, you can get your device to connect. (The above does not show the user I’d and password fields, but you will need those).

Good luck!

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.