Saturday, February 02, 2008

Kim Komando's FireFox Tips

I get Kim's computer related newsletters each week. There's a daily tip, daily cool site, daily news, and a weekend edition. You can get them too by signing up here. In the meantime, from her weekend edition here's tips on using Firefox as your web browser:

There’s more than one way to surf the Internet. There’s Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari and many more browsers. I use Firefox. Why? Firefox is not part of Windows. That makes it safer than Internet Explorer.

If you have not tried Firefox, download it this weekend. Here’s a link at my site. It’s free and really easy to set up. I think it’s also faster than IE.

I'm a bit of a geek, so I customize Firefox with extensions. These are programs that add functions to the browser. You can learn more about them in this free column.

Here's a list of my favorite Firefox add-ons or extensions. They are all free:

Hope you like them!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Speaking of speaking...

Wednesday night, I surprised my wife.

We were at a special church meeting where the members were going to be presented with plans for a building project and then vote to approve the project.

I am tolerant of meetings as long as there is a reason for them. This was a good reason. A few million reasons if you get my drift.

Near the end, before the final vote, we were given the opportunity to step up to the microphone and ask a question or two. My wife had a question, and I had a question and I quietly slipped out of the pew to step up the microphone and asked my couple of questions.

Kathy was surprised because she thought I got up to go to the restroom!

I formulated my questions in such a way that they were straight forward, and when I did not get all the information to one of the questions, I asked for clarification. I did this in a tone of voice and in a manner through my choice of words that was respectful and the answers I got were respectful in return.

I urge everyone to get some insight, perhaps training, on public speaking so that you too can surprise your spouse, or at least be a better communicator.

Harvey Mackay wrote about this recently. Here are his words:

Harvey Mackay's Column This Week

Talking points get to the point

One of my favorite "Peanuts" comic strips is about students who were asked to write about their feelings on returning to school in the fall.

In her essay, Lucy wrote, "Vacations are nice, but it's good to get back to school. There is nothing more satisfying or challenging than education, and I look forward to a year of expanding knowledge."

Needless to say, the teacher was delighted and complimented Lucy on her fine essay. Leaning over to Charlie Brown, Lucy whispers, "After a while, you learn what sells."

Lucy had mastered the art of talking points.

New York Times columnist William Safire says he first heard the phrase as a White House speechwriter, ducking dreary assignments for "Rose Garden rubbish." Safire says President Nixon would often say to his writers, "Never mind preparing formal remarks for this bunch, just give me a page of talking points."

This is a perfectly reasonable request from someone who wishes to speak informally, and not use a prepared text. I'm a big believer in using talking points in many ways: for whatever you're trying to sell or promote or whenever you want to deliver a message.

We live in a soundbite world—you may have only 10 or so seconds to make your case. The objective is to get the idea out there, and fill in the details later. Let the central thought sink in first. Then, as time permits, support it. Studies show that people remember better when you give them information in a short and concise manner.

If you're looking for a job, you should have a 60-second commercial about yourself. If you're selling something, you want to give the buyer the best commercial you can create. If you're raising money for your favorite charity, donors appreciate information presented in a succinct and uncomplicated fashion. The point is to get to the point!

Don't confuse talking points with a fact sheet because talking points don't necessarily have to present the whole story. Talking points should include an item or two with some zip to them—perhaps a really great statistic, a relevant witty proverb or a humorous quotation. And while I write in "USA Today style"—short and snappy—I can take a little more time to reach my destination. The listening public is not as forgiving as the reading public.

Bill O'Reilly opens his popular Fox TV show, "The O'Reilly Factor," with a segment called "Talking Points Memo." It wouldn't be at the beginning of the program if it didn't work!

Consider the political stump speech. Same message, over and over. Same main points, short and sweet, amended to fit the geographic region or particular audience. The talking points remain constant: This is what I stand for. This is why you should vote for me. This is what's wrong with my opponent.

I speak to dozens of companies and organizations around the globe every year. I tell every group a few of the same things: Prepare to win. Deliver more than you promise. Knowledge does not become power until it is used. My audiences may remember my jokes, or some of the personal stories I throw in, or maybe even that I give away my tie sometimes. But I know they will remember my talking points. That's the real take-home value.

On the other side, job applicants who come into my office and can tell me what I need to know about them in the first three minutes fascinate me. Experience, education, knowledge about my company, common ground—these are the things employers want to hear right out of the gate. Make it interesting, and make sure it's accurate. When I'm interviewing for sales or customer service positions, I'm looking for candidates who can get to the point, and let me decide whether I need more details. Good talking points can mean the difference between a second interview and a good-luck handshake.

It's worth the extra time to really edit yourself and hone your presentation. A few descriptive words will trump a lengthy monologue every time. Identify your central message and put it front and center.

Perhaps the ultimate example is an irreverent cartoon by Mike Peters. It shows a giant hand reaching through the clouds to extend the tablets containing the Ten Commandments to the outstretched hands of Moses, with the voice of God saying, "Here, these are your talking points."

Mackay's Moral: As Groucho Marx said, "Before I speak, I have something important to say."

Snowed in? How about some classic Monty Python?

Save money with on free coupons from your favorite stores

Last night we had a birthday gathering for Ian who turned 27 this week. Conversation was all over the place, but one item that was talked about was the savings at Steve & Barry's.

Then this morning I realized when I opened my email, that I got another coupon offer from Borders. I usual delete them, but I know my wife has used them. Best of all they are free for signing up.

What stores do you use that email offers to you?

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Another Local Blogger

One of the great things about blogs and the internet in general, is that there is no age, gender, or racial discrimination. Anyone that has access to an internet connection, can start one and share their views, ideas and pictures with the world.

I appreciate those folks that post regularly and today came across another local blogger that has close to 70 posts in one month. AmericanSocietalReview is now listed under the political blog role on the right side of this page. Check it out here.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Our Chamber of Commerce ventures into the world of Blogging

Yup, proving that there is more to the new management team at the Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce than just a fresh logo, they have stepped into the blog world.

Hopefully once their new website debuts later this spring, the Blog will be a little more customized in appearance with a custom header and, well you know.

For more, go here.

Sightings and reflections in Fort Wayne

Wednesday morning, the last Wednesday of January 2008. The temperature is 8. Yesterday at this time it was about 40 degrees warmer.

Yesterday, I saw a 14 year old wearing shorts and a sleeveless shirt walking with his mom who was still bundled up winter weather style.

Yesterday the leaf collection crew was trying to take advantage of the warmth to clear last years leaves out of the street on Broadway. Today the leaf piles in front of my house are frozen to the ground again.

Yesterday, the weatherman cried WOLF, as we had winter storm warnings on the way with 6 feet of snow and sub zero temps on the way. Today, it's just cold and sunny. (No snow).

Yesterday I saw a woman with bright red clown hair cut short walking on Main Street. Today her hair is probably the same. In a few months, it might be green or blue.

Growing up in this town, 35 years ago I delivered the News-Sentinel after school near Parkview Hospital. There was a blind man that walked along State Street every day back in the 1970's with his red tipped white cane. I watched in amazement when I was a teenager. I watched in amazement a few years ago when I saw him again, walking on State Street 30 years later.

Someone recently pointed out to me that State Street is really State Boulevard. I don't care. State Street is the name I will always call it.

The conversations that I would overhear when I would come to town 13 years ago to visit my folks and I knew that at this time of the day he and his friends would be at Tom's Donuts on North Anthony; those conversations about nothing are similar to the conversations I am part of when I visit my friends at the Firefly Coffee shop on North Anthony. Today I saw a man named Ron who used to be a regular at the Firefly with his brother Don, until a disagreement provoked Ron to turn his back on the Firefly and find a new home. This morning, he was at Aspen Coffee, about 5 miles away.

Yesterday I spoke with my son who is going to school and saw my oldest daughter who lives here in town. It was good to trade hugs with Rachael and the "I Love You's" over our cell phones with Josh.

Today, I will have more on my to-do list than is possible to finish, so I will move some things to a latter date and focus on my priorities.

Tonight, the members of our church will gather for a shared meal and then discuss a building plan for the future of the church, the school and the families it serves. I am blessedto be a part of this group of sinners.

Tomorrow Abby will be playing basketball at Purdue with friends. Tomorrow night, we hope to gather with Ian for his birthday (which is today).

Now it is time to finish lunch and return to work with a smile on my face and in my heart. Here's a little Calvin:

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

100 painless ways to cut 100 or more calories a day.

So, how's those new years resolutions coming along? Health related resolutions top the list of adults age 30 to 60, with weight loss being the primary goal.

It's never too late, unless you really are dead, then it's not an issue anymore. (Sorry, but my wife and I saw the movie The Bucket List last weekend.)

In my bookmarks/favorites I saved a website with 100 painless ways to cut calories. It starts off with this:

REACHING YOUR FAT-LOSS GOALS may be easier than you think. To lose a pound of fat a month, all you need to do is cut 100 calories a day from your diet, assuming the intake and expenditure of all other calories remains the same. That's because a pound of body fat is equivalent to about 3,500 calories. So if you cut 100 calories a day for 31 days, you're cutting 3,100 calories--or about a pound.

Wait...a pound a month? Isn't that a little slow? Well, mounds of research indicate that you're more likely to keep weight off if you lose it slowly. Besides, losing a pound a month doesn't require drastic changes in your eating habits. It can be as simple as eating two egg rolls with your Chinese stir-fry instead of three. Here are 100 painless ways to cut 100 or more calories a day. As a bonus, they all reduce fat or sugar, which means, calorie for calorie, you're getting more vitamins and minerals.

For the complete list of 100, click here.

Convert DVD files for editing with free software

Over the weekend I needed to take a 30 minute TV show and edit it to place on YouTube. Well, the Windows Movie Maker in my Windows Vista package could not read the DVD format and so the search for a way to convert the files began.

You get the benefit of my searching (and get to save a few hours). Go here and get the VOB2MPG program free. After you convert, you should be able to use the Windows Movie Maker Software that came with your Windows Vista to edit stubborn DVD's, without spending a dime.

Convert files online... free

Recently, I've had to convert some files from the format extention that Open Office uses, back to a Microsoft office format. can do it and send you the file back in your email.

It may take a few minutes, or a couple of hours, but they do it and the cost is ZERO.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Red Light means STOP!

Or the next red you see may be blood. Everett White posted a video on his website that everyone must see

What's in your grocery cart?

A line from some comic:

Why is it that whenever we get blizzard warnings, we go to the store and buy the fixin's for French Toast? Bread, Eggs, Milk?

In my email this week came the following... (I'm glad T.P. made the top ten):

Top 10 Best-Selling Grocery Items

Item '07
1 Milk $10.86
2 Fresh bread $6.39
3 Cereal $6.11
4 Cookies $3.89
5 Toilet tissue $3.78
6 Canned soup $3.32
7 Fresh eggs $2.92
8 Chocolate
9 Potato chips $2.82
10 Batteries $1.59

* In billions

Source: Nielsen Strategic Planner

Wish I knew this when my kids were Babies

Discovered these tips this weekend. Sorry, but, I'm not going to tell you which ones I did wrong with my kids.....

There's more here...

Sorry we deleted all your email... here's 50 bucks

Here's a good reason to have a "free" email account. You can even set up your current email account to send your messages to another free account as a back up.

Charter Communications accidentally deleted the contents of 14,000 e-mail accounts. The error occurred as it was deleting inactive accounts. A software bug is believed to be the cause. The e-mail cannot be retrieved. Those affected will receive a $50 credit. (READ MORE)

44 ways to improve

Found this on the internet recently and will implement some of these in my life:

44 Ways To Improve Your Productivity

time managementBy Jeffrey Strain

When it comes to personal finances, most people concentrate on saving and investing money. This can be a problem because issues that may not first appear to have much to do with personal finances can often have a dramatic affect on them. Productivity is just one of these.

The more productive you are, the more that you can accomplish in a day. Increasing your productivity can give you the time to implement personal finance strategies (or any other important goal you have) that you may have wanted to, but simply could not find the time. If you take the time to learn and actively pursue increasing your productivity, you’ll be amazed at how this can help your finances. Here are some of the simple ways I have improved my productivity over the last couple of years:

I watch very little TV: One of the biggest lifestyle changes I made a few years ago was to virtually stop watching TV. I still watch on occasion, but not nearly as much as I once did. This change freed up a couple of hours a day that used to be wasted. It’s amazing the amount of time I was able to gain with this move and I haven’t missed it one bit.

I walk: Walking may not at first to be something that would be productive, but for me it is an excellent time each day for me to think. There is something about a walk that helps me see problems I’ve been trying to solve in a new light and to get a different perspective that I do while sitting at the computer. It’s important to refresh my mind and body, and a short walk is a great way of doing this. When I return, I’m in a much better condition to work and get more done.

I always bring a pocket notebook everywhere I go: Ideas can come at any time and if I don’t have something to quickly jot the idea down on, I would forget it. To make sure I don’t forget these, I carry a small pocket notebook and pen in my pocket. When an idea comes to me no matter where I am, I jot it down. I even take it to bed with me. I place it on the desk by my pillow. Carrying the pocket notebook ensures I don’t forget good ideas which I would certainly do if I didn’t have it with me.

I eat breakfast: Until a few years ago, I never ate proper breakfasts. I was always too busy and on the run and ended up grabbing whatever I could to shove into my mouth. Sometimes I simply skipped breakfast. I decided to listen to the literature and give eating a proper breakfast a try for a month and I’ve never looked back. Eating breakfast every morning greatly increases my concentration on the computer and I’m much more productive.

I (try to) get a good night’s sleep: I do not sleep well so this one has been a huge challenge. The problem is that when I don’t sleep well, I wake up the next day without energy I need to work efficiently which greatly reduces my productivity. I now have a set time to go to bed even if I don’t feel tired. It doesn’t work every time, but it has helped reduce those days when I feel too tired to concentrate.

I write lists: If you are like I was, I thought lists were a joke until I actually began using the effectively. I had tried to use lists in the past and I would create them, but then they would sit there without me ever going through and accomplishing what was on them. Through experimentation, I found a system that worked for me. I actually make two lists. One is my master list with all the things that I want to get done and the other is my daily list with only three items that I must accomplish that day. If it takes me all day to get those three done, that is all I do, but if I finish early, then I can cherry pick items off the master list to also do. While this system may not be right for you, if you can find a list system your productivity will soar.

I listen to music music: I know some people need quiet, but I work best with some background noise. I also have a few CDs that I call my “work music.” This is the music that I only play when I really need to work hard to get something done. Since I only play this music when I know I have to work, it has become self motivating just by the sound. I hear it and I automatically go into work mode.

I take short breaks: Taking breaks doesn’t sound like it improves productivity but taking a 15 minute break every 1 - 2 hours from the computer helps me to rejuvenate so that I’m more productive when I get back to the computer. I used to try and work hours on end, but I noticed that after a few hours, my productivity rate fell off quite a bit. These small breaks have helped me quite a bit so that I’m productive throughout the entire day rather than just in the morning hours.

I don’t take breaks at the computer: One of the worst things I did in the past was when I got tired and needed a break, I would look take the break by continuing to sit in front of the computer and surf the Internet. While this gave me a break from writing, it failed to rejuvenate me like breaks away from the computer do. When it’s time for a break, I now physically move away from my computer. It took a long time to break that habit, but once I did my productivity increased dramatically.

I set specific times to do daily work: I set times when I do the things that need to be done each day. For example, I get a lot of email, so I set 3 times a day to check it. I used to check it throughout the day and found that doing so would end up taking me on tangents all over the Internet. Setting a specific time to read and respond each day makes me get through it all much quicker and more efficiently since I know I only have a certain amount of time to get it done.

I stretch: Sitting in front of the computer all day is tiring - much more so than I imagined it would be. The problem is that this can often be gradual during the day so I didn’t notice it happening. I do a small set of stretches that takes about 5 minutes every few hours to keep my body feeling better which has helped me work more efficiently.

I have a place void of interruptions: This was a hard one to accomplish working at home, but I finally initiated a system where I won’t be disturbed while I’m working. Those little disruptions end up taking a lot of time and can ruin your productivity, so doing whatever you can to eliminate them is worth the effort.

I have a set work time: Since my work is writing, I have a set writing time each morning for about 3 hours where all I do is write. Even when I have writer’s block, I still spend this time writing even when it ends up being nonsense that I never use. Setting a specific time to write helps me get a lot more done overall. I used to wander off when I was having trouble writing, but sometimes you just need to force yourself to work through the block to get it down.

I drink water and eat fruit/vegetables: Writing takes a lot of energy and especially when I am having trouble writing something down, I crave sweets. When I cave into these cravings, I find that I am a lot less productive. While it does give an initial high, that energy quickly disappears and I crave more sugar. Having fruit/vegetables instead doesn’t always suppress this craving, but it does a good amount of the time. Over the long term, it makes me feel a lot more healthy and helps me to get more done.

I keep my water and fruit/vegetable snacks by my desk: I found that my snack craving was a good excuse for me to leave my writing when I found I was stuck. I’d wander into the kitchen and look through the drawers for sweets, go back to the computer and start the process all over again 20 minutes later when I was craving sweets again. Instead, I make sure that I have plenty of water and fruit by my desk and when I have the cravings, I eat this and there is no need for me to go wandering off.

I do small chores during my breaks: My wife would never go for the excuse that I didn’t have to help out around the house, so I do have a list of chores that are mine to do each day. When I take my short breaks from the computer, I do the chores that need to get done around the house. Things like doing the laundry, hanging out the clothes, washing the dishes, etc. This means that they aren’t all piled up at the end of the day and they are activities that are really different from writing which gives me a clean break that I need.

I leave messaging off until the afternoon: I leave all my computer messengers off in the morning and won’t turn them on until I have accomplished the things that need to be done that day. There is nothing that ruins the flow of writing than having people constantly asking questions when I’m trying to concentrate.

I do a daily 10 minute clean-up Since it never seems that I have enough hours in the day to get everything I want to get done, my desk used to get quite messy over time as things piled up. I take 10 minutes to clean my office each day. While it is not perfect, it keeps it from becoming overwhelming and enables me to know where everything is. I simply set a kitchen timer for 10 minutes and start cleaning whatever seems to need cleaning most in the room and then stop for the day when it rings.

I (try) the one touch method: I still have a long way to go on this, but it does work. Only touch things once. I’m terrible at looking at things multiple times, but I have started to embrace the one touch system because it does work. I’m much better at it some days than others, but I am working on making this a habit to increase my productivity further.

I exercise: When I started working on the computer full time, I gained about 20 pounds over a short period of time because I sat in front of the computer most of the day. The extra pounds made me feel unhealthy and affected my productivity. I decided to implement a weekly exercise routine that has greatly helped the way I feel and has improved my productivity.

I get up at 7:00 am each morning: Even when I don’t sleep well, I get up at 7:00 am each morning. If I don’t, I can waste the entire morning sleeping. If I didn’t sleep well and am really exhausted, I will take a small nap, but usually I can make it through the day and then sleep well the next evening. While it is easy to slack off in this area when you are working at home, when I don’t get up in the mornings, my productivity plummets.

I don’t multi-task (usually): I find that while in theory multi-tasking should save time, it ends up making me less productive. The reason is that it takes me time to adjust to the new task each time I change to get into my optimal work mode. I find concentrating on a single task is much more efficient for me. The one exception to this is when I’m doing lazy activities such as watching TV. When I am watching TV, I always try to do something else at the same time that doesn’t require a lot of detailed attention (folding laundry, sorting stuff, etc).

I dance: Okay, this is a bit embarrassing to admit, but sometimes when I hear one of my favorite songs, I will spontaneously get up and dance. If anyone ever places cameras in my office, I’ll never be able to live it down. My wife has walked in on a couple of occasions basically thought I had lost it (now she just rolls her eyes). There is something about getting up and dancing once a day that is completely refreshing for me and afterward, I am ready to get work done.

I get out into the sun: This is part of the reason that I walk, but when you work from home, it’s easy to stay inside all day. It’s amazing what a short walk in the fresh air with the sun shining down can do to re-energize you. I try to get out a minimum of 2 times a day and doing so helps my concentration and productivity.

I only spend 30 minutes reading news: I love reading and gaining new information, but this love can make me highly unproductive. I can spend hours reading the latest news if I don’t limit this activity to 30 minutes a day. I leave news reading for my days off which has given me a lot more time to do the things I need to get done.

I take vacation days: When you work for yourself, not only is it easy to get lazy and not do enough, it’s also easy to spend too much time doing it (especially if you enjoy what you’re doing). I find that I need vacation days from time to time, but I really do have to force myself to take them. While I’m always glad that I do after the fact, it can be difficult to pry myself away even when I do realize I need the break.

I travel On my days off, I take a lot of short trips. These are a great way for me to get away from writing for a day or two and completely refresh. They also give me a chance to see things from a new perspective and look for new and interesting subjects to write about.

I’ve learned the signs of when I need to take a break: While this may not seem like much, this was actually one of my biggest productivity increases. I have slowly learned the signs that indicate that I need a break. I used to ignore these and continued to work, but I now know that when these signs appear, it’s time to take a break and do something else for a bit. My big signs are that I’ll begin yawning and I’ll open new windows on my computer without a specific purpose. When either of these two things begin to happen, it’s time for me to take a break.

I get ahead: Pressure to produce in one of the things that makes me less productive. When I initially began writing, I would put up every article I wrote the minute that I finished it which meant that I would produce a lot over a short period of time, but then have spells where I wouldn’t produce much at all and would have a lot of pressure to write something. I have since learned to space out my writing and try to have a week’s worth of content that I can use if I happen to have writer’s block or an emergency happens that takes me away for a few days. Having this cushion makes me more relaxed and helps me be more productive.

I don’t have a cell phone: It would certainly be convenient to have one, especially when meeting up with friends in a new location, but I found that letting people have access to me 24/7 ended up creating a lot of wasted time. My life has become a lot more simplified without a cell phone and I get a lot more done as well without the interruptions.

I don’t eat meals at my computer: I used to do this thinking that it made me more productive (the multi-task thing), but when looking at it closely, realized that it hurt my productivity. When eating, I can’t concentrate as hard, so I found that I would end up reading and surfing the INternet instead of working. While I convinced myself I was doing so to find new and interesting topics to write about, I rarely did this. Then when I was finished, I was not refreshed at all since I had been reading the entire time and found it hard to get back to work. I now eat my meals away from the computer as one of my break times which makes me much more productive than before.

I compliment tasks: When there are several things that I need to do, I try to complement them when possible. For example, instead of going to the gym and working out and driving to the store to grocery shop, I will walk to the store instead. I get exercise and shopping done taking less overall time (and saving money at the same time)

I keep things simple A lot of the computer programs that are supposed to make me more productive end up wasting my time. I keep things really simple. For example, I do not make my lists on any of the list sites. This is because I always have my pocket notebook with me where I list it all - even when I’m away from the computer.

I question my habits: We all get into habits and stop thinking about the way we do things. I’m much better at asking myself if the way I’m doing something is the most efficient way and if there is another way I could do it more productively. This is an area that I still need improvement, but I am getting better at this.

I ask for help: I used to be the type of person that would try and do everything myself. It’s been a difficult task letting go of many of the things I used to do and have others help out, but many times it’s just more efficient to let others do it. Even better, they usually can do it better than me.

I explore: I find that having curiosity and actually acting upon it (something that is often difficult for me since I’m an introvert) makes me much more productive. It gives me a lot of new ideas that I would have never come up with on my own. Some of my most popular writing have been from conversations with others that I would have never had if I had not been curious and acted upon it.

I try to do something good every day: Okay, I know this sounds kind of corny and doesn’t seem to have much to do with productivity, but I find that I get a huge boost of energy when I do something nice for another person. It doesn’t have to be anything big. It can be as simple as holding open the door for someone whose hands are full. Doing something nice for someone each day gives me a pick-up and that feeling good about myself helps me be more productive. If you don’t believe me, give it a try. You’ll be surprised.

I limit time on the computer: This is another one of those things that doesn’t look like it would actually make me more productive, but once implemented has greatly increase my productivity. I have a rule that I can only spend seven hours a day on the computer and I break these hours into specific times of the day. I know I must work much harder to get things done during a specific time and therefore I’m more focused during these times. Before I just spent the entire day on the computer and in doing so wasted a great deal of time

I get dressed in the morning: It would seem that it would make no difference whether or not I changed out of my pajamas as I made my way to the computer, but it makes a huge difference in my productivity. In fact, I won’t even allow myself to wear grubby clothes. I put on jeans and a T-shirt at the minimum. It has to be something I could go outside in on a moment’s notice. While it’s definitely not company work attire, it does make a huge difference letting me know that it’s time to work.

I take naps: I used to think that naps were for people that didn’t have enough energy for the entire day, but I have learned that strategic naps can greatly increase my productivity. I have to make sure that they are quick naps, however, because anything over 20 minutes will mean that I’ll have much trouble sleeping that night.

I don’t drink caffeine: I used to be a huge caffeine junkie because I needed it to keep my energy level up at the end of the day, but I have learned that while it may give me a short burst of activity, it makes me less productive in the long run. In the process, I quit drinking soda that also saved me over $1000 a year.

I take baths: This was kind of forced upon me living in Japan since I’d always been a shower person before coming here. There is something very relaxing about a bath that helps me to think about everything that happened throughout the day. Like my walks, it’s a time when I come up with solutions and ideas much better than in front of the computer.

I’m punctual: This is another thing I’ve learned to be in Japan. Things run on time and if you’re late you miss your train or bus and have to wait. This extends to other parts of my life and being punctual means a lot less wasted time. I never thought being a minute late would mean a 30 minute wait before I began living in Japan

I place a value on my time: I place a value on my time and I use this to decide whether I should do things myself or have someone else do them. I simply take the hours of work each week and divide that by the amount that I make each week to come up with my time value. This helps me make sure I’m spending the time doing things that give me the most return for the time I spend on them.

I would not expect that each of these would make you more productive, but there may be a few on the list that would be worth trying. The key is to constantly keep an eye open of ways to do things more efficiently that work for you and how to keep your energy level up. It’s a never ending process, but pursuing it on a constant basis will help you to get more done in the limited time you do have which will greatly benefit your personal finances.

Life wisdom from you and others

Kim Komando lives in Arizona, does a weekly computer radio show, has a regular column in USA today, and sends out free newsletters according to your desires. She was one of the first persons I trusted when looking for computer related advise. One of her news letters is the Cool Site of the Day. Here's an excerpt from today's email:

Today's Cool Site...

Make intelligent guesses

A rattlesnake’s strike can be up to two-thirds of its length. That means a three-foot rattlesnake can strike up to two feet.

If you get caught in a rip tide, don’t swim against it. Instead, swim at a 90-degree angle until you’re clear of it. Then you can head back to shore.

These are just two of the things I learned at today’s Cool Site. No, they’re not exactly facts. They’re rules of thumb, estimates designed to help you make intelligent guesses.

Rules of Thumb is filled with many interesting rules. You’ll learn a lot by browsing through the categories.

Have your own rule of thumb? Then sign up and post it on the site. Once you register, you can also vote on what other people have posted.


A collection of Inspiration and Photos

A few years ago, I was signed up for these emails from Pravs World. I got too busy to read them everyday and then recently re-discovered them. Here's one to start your week: