Saturday, December 20, 2008
Posted: 17 Dec 2008 11:36 PM CST
The season for parties is currently in full swing. For the party guest, the event is a chance to kickback and have a good time. But for the host, throwing a party can be a stressful endeavor. A host must worry about the decorations, the food, the entertainment, and whether their guests are getting along, having a good time, and behaving themselves. Take one worry off the host’s list by being a winning and polite guest. Not only will you help your friend’s event be a success, you’ll find more invitations to parties in your mailbox.
1. Always, always, RSVP. “RSVP” stands for “Répondez s’il vous plait,” French for “please respond.” When you receive an invitation that asks you to RSVP, the host or hostess is kindly requesting that you let them know whether or not you will be attending their function. Today the RVSP has come to be seen as optional. Some men believe you only need to call if you are coming; some think you only need to call if you are not coming; and some do not think you have to call either way. Sometimes RSVPing is avoided because you do not want to face the awkwardness of telling someone you are not coming and making up an excuse about why.
However, not RSVPing is rather rude. The reason you must RSVP is that the host or hostess needs to know how to plan his or her party. They must pick the proper venue to accommodate a certain number of guests, the proper amount of party supplies, and perhaps most importantly, the right amount of food to serve the guests. By not RSVPing you keep your host completely in the dark as they attempt to prepare for their function. The host is forced to guess and may then buy too much or too little food, causing them to overspend or experience embarrassment, respectively.
On that note, do not RSVP and then pull a no show. Again, the host will have allotted for too much food and party favors, and these things will go to waste.
If you cannot attend an event, simply express to the host your appreciation for the invitation and then apologize and say that you unfortunately have other plans. This excuse is always true-whatever you will be doing instead of the party are your alternative “plans.” If you like the host, make plans to get together another time. If you do not like the host (and this may be why you are not attending the party in the first place), simply leave it at that.
2. If you are attending a dinner party, offer to bring something. Cooking up a tasty meal for several guests is no easy task. Take some of the burden off the host by offering to bring the salad or dessert.
3. Always arrive on time. Part of the pressure of throwing a party is timing your food to come out exactly when the guests arrive. If you’re 20 minutes late, you will significantly add to the cook’s stress by having them worry not only about the taste, but whether the food is getting cold. If the food is not ready by the time you arrive, you simply have more time to mingle.
If the party is a large, come and go as you please type of shin-dig, being “fashionably late” is acceptable.
4. Bring the phone number with you on the way over. If you get lost or have an emergency, you will need to call the host to keep them abreast. Don’t keep the party waiting without any word from you.
5. Bring a gift for the host. A bottle of wine or a bouquet of flowers are excellent choices. This is particularly appropriate for dinner parties.
6. Come prepared for conversation. Don’t be a party dud. On the way over, think of a few things you can talk about-movies you’ve seen, funny stories from work, and interesting news about yourself and your mutual friends. Think about the host and the other guests; what are they interested in and what kinds of questions can you ask them? Remember, you should almost always avoid controversial subjects such as politics and religion.
7. Eat and drink responsibly. Don’t come to the party famished, ready to devour anything and everything in sight. At a party in which hors d’oeuvres are being passed around, don’t put a ton on your plate. You’ll look like a hog. And no double dipping! Finally, don’t become inebriated.
8. Compliment the host. Tell the host what great food or what a great party it is at the midpoint of the night and then again when you are saying your goodbyes.
9. Help wash the dishes or clean up. Not all etiquette guides would approve of this, but we have made it a personal rule concerning dinner parties with close friends. If someone is kind enough to slave away in the kitchen making us a meal, we don’t think they should have to wash the dishes too. We always step in and do them. Your host may initially protest, but they will be inwardly grateful.
10. Don’t overstay your welcome. The appropriate time to leave is something you just have to feel in your bones. Things will be winding down, and conversation will hit a lag. At this point say, “Well, we’ve had a wonderful time tonight. I think we should get going. Thank you very much for having us.”
11. Write a thank you note. Within a few days of the party, always send a note of thanks to the host or hostess.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Posted: 11 Dec 2008 01:46 AM PSTToday I'm going to take you through a daydream (you might call it a "thought experiment"). So grab a mug of your favorite beverage, get yourself comfy, and read on...
A genie appears to you and explains that he's going to take care of everything for you for three months. The bills will all be paid, your job will be done expertly, your dependents will be looked after, your house will be kept clean, your goldfish will be fed. For the next three months, you're free. When the three months are up, you have the option of starting a new career, moving to a new city, or even leaving behind friends and family.
The genie has just two conditions:
- You have to try at least one thing you've never done before (but have perhaps always secretly wanted to do) during those three months
- You have to spend the three months doing things that you want to do, rather than things you feel you should do.
What Do You Do During The Three Months?
Grab a piece of paper, and write or draw a few things that indicate what you'd do with three completely free months, to do whatever you want with (remembering that at least one thing has to be something you've never done before).
Your list can be absolutely anything you like. It'll probably include some things where you've said "If I won the lottery, I would..." or "I wish I had the time to..." or "If I started over again, I'd..."
Here's some examples, big and small, of things you could write on your list:
- I would travel around Europe for a month.
- I would read a bedtime story with my children every night.
- I would finally start to get fit.
- I would learn a foreign language.
- I would take a computer science class.
- I would start writing a novel.
- I would volunteer at a homeless shelter.
- I would get back in touch with some old friends.
- I would visit all the art galleries in my home city.
- I would go to the theater every week.
What Would You Do Afterward?
Once the three months are up, would you go back to your job?
Would you go back to your home city?
Would you stay with your family and friends?
Of course, your experiences during those three months would have a strong bearing on those questions. For example, if you're currently in a strained relationship with your partner and children because you rarely spend much time with them, you might find that you all get along much better after they have three months of your unstressed presence! If you've never traveled outside your country, you might find that you want to live on the opposite side of the world.
Even so, if you know that you would hate to go back to your current job, or dread returning to your house, then write that down.
Making It Real
You may be wondering what the point of this is. After all, there is no genie. No-one's about to come and take care of your life for you while you swan off for three months...
But, think about this. What would it take for you to be able to have a three-month sabbatical - or even a month off? It might mean saving up for a while, either cutting back on spending, or working some overtime. It might mean some tricky negotiations with your boss. But don't rule it out as a possibility.
I read Escape 101: The Four Secrets to Taking a Sabbatical or Career Break Without Losing Your Money or Your Mind a few months ago. I'd already made the decision to leave my job and freelance then, but for anyone with a "traditional" job - especially if they have kids too - this is an excellent book. There's also a blog, Escape 101. If you think that taking a career break, or designing the lifestyle of your dreams, is impossible, try seriously looking into the possibilities.
Look back at that list of what you'd like to do: you can start on some of them right now. If you want to write a novel, how about finding just a spare hour, twice a week, to get started? If you want to go to the theater or to museums more often, how about picking one to visit this weekend?
It's easy to put off chasing our dreams because we become so busy with the things we think we should be doing, or worse, with the things we've just somehow ended up doing - without any conscious thought about it. Start taking control again today.
What would you with your three free months? How can you make your daydreams real?
|Written on 12/11/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university.||Photo Credit: pniak adam|
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Posted: 04 Dec 2008 06:56 AM PSTLet's face it, most of us have highly hectic lives. We juggle our work life, our home life, our family life, our personal life, etc. It's enough to make you feel like an actual juggler in the circus, however the balls aren't balls - they are blackberrys and iphones.
Before I learned to slow down fast, this was my life.
As a business owner, I've learned about several effective tools needed to run an efficient business. I utilize systems, strategies, and support, to keep my business running smoothly and profitably. And I've seen how if I apply some of these same tools to my personal life, I can streamline it as well.
So whether you have your own business, work for a company, or run a household, if you manage your life like a business, I can guarantee you'll be surprised at the results. Here are some tips taken from my experience that can be valuable for streamlining your life:
- Keep a calendar
I'm amazed at how many people don't keep calendars. You know the ones--they're always late for appointments! And when you ask them how they remember anything without a calendar, they say, "Oh, I have a great memory." Whether you use an old fashioned paper calendar you write in, or you use a computer based one like Outlook or Google, or you use a high-tech hand-held piece of equipment, you must calendar your life if you want to keep it streamlined.
- Set goals
Most of us have goals in all areas of our life. If you don't, you're just drifting through life, accepting whatever comes. With goals, you can measure every choice you make for how you want to spend your time and money against your goals. A streamlined life has room primarily for the activities and acquisitions that help support you in reaching your goals. This doesn't preclude an occasional diversion from the path, doing or buying something just for the fun of it, but don't clutter your life with too many diversions.
- Learn to prioritize
With so many choices being thrown our way on a daily basis, learning to prioritize is a skill that will keep your life streamlined. When you know your goals, you'll be able to prioritize the choices that move you toward your goals. Say you have a goal to improve your golf game so you sign up for a series of lessons. But on the day you have a lesson scheduled, a buddy calls with a last minute invitation to a football game. You love football almost as much as golf, however, if you have prioritized your goal to improve your golf game, you would choose your golf lessons.
- Learn to say no
Following along with the last scenario, you have to learn to say "no" to some things some times. If your life is full to overflowing, I'm sure a lot of choices come your way. The golf lessons, the football game, and your best friend's backyard BBQ all fall on the same day. In order to streamline your life, you have to master the art of when to say no. Of course, you can say it in a way not to hurt someone's feelings. I coach my clients that when they take responsibility for their choices, the other person will, in most cases, not take it personally.
Look around your life and see what you can delegate. You might think if you hire people to take over some chores, how is that streamlining of you have to manage them. Delegating doesn't have to be hiring a house cleaner, gardener, or personal assistant. Start by having family members share tasks. On child is responsible for pet care, another for watering the yard and mowing the grass. Split other tasks with your spouse and you won't find yourself doing more than your share and resenting it.
- Set up systems
Setting up systems for household activities would make delegating those chores go smoothly. Some of my coaching clients keep a chart on the refrigerator for family responsibilities that get checked off when done. As in running a business, you also want to set up systems to keep your important papers filed, for bill paying and record keeping, for family health check-ups, and anything else you can think of that is a recurring activity you can create a system for.
- Clean out your space
Make this a fun, family event. Put it on the calendar and once a month clean your car. Twice a year, clear out unused items from the garage, the closets, and other areas in the house. Donate your recycled items to a local charity.
|Written on 12/04/2008 by David Bohl. David shares the viral message Slow Down FAST and helps people raise the roof on all facets of their lives without risking implosion. Get some must-haves here.||Photo Credit: notsogood|
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
From the Art of Manliness Blog:
Posted: 15 Dec 2008 11:35 AM CST
Back in your grandpa’s time, a man was just expected to bring home the bacon and was excused from being too hands on in the child rearing department. Today’s man is expected not only to be a provider, but also a highly involved parent. These two demands can burn out even the strongest of men. Here are a few suggestions on how to be a corporate warrior and a super dad at the same time.
Have family dinner. Studies have shown children from families that have meals together do better in school and are less likely to get involved with drugs. Make it home each evening to have dinner with your family. If this means getting to work extra early in the morning, so be it. If you can get home early enough, cook dinner with your kids. At mealtime, ask about what’s going on in your kid’s life. Pose questions designed to stimulate genuine discussion. Dana Perino’s father would expect her to come to the table prepared to discuss and debate one current event each night. First she had to argue from her personal bias, and then she had to argue from the other side’s perspective. This tactic apparently paid off; Perino and her dad still enjoy a close relationship, and she currently serves as the White House press secretary.
Leave work at work. Obviously, this is not always going to be possible; sometimes you’ll need to continue your work at home. But during dinnertime, bath time, storytime, and any other time in which you are focusing on your kids, turn off the cell phone and Blackberry.
Take each kid out once a month for dad time. Each month, set aside a “date night” for each kid. Take them out individually and do something they enjoy. It’s a great way to get one-on-one time with each kid and ensure that jealously between siblings remains in check.
Limit work on weekends and holidays. Devote your time off from work to your family. Sure, you’ll have to spend time doing chores and running errands to get ready for the next week, but try to get your children involved with those tasks. Six hands pulling weeds are better than two.
Use your vacation. Many American workers are taking less and less of their vacation time. Don’t be one of these men. Use your two weeks and take your family on the Great American Road Trip or on a camping adventure in a National Park. Don’t bring along your laptop or Blackberry. Family vacations will be some of your kids’ best childhood memories. Don’t deny them these experiences by being a work-a-holic.
Take your kid to work with you for the day. You’ll get to spend some quality bonding time together. Your kid will see what Dad does all day, and will better understand why he can’t be home all the time.
Make it to all your kids’ activities. Even if this means bringing some work with you to do during the timeouts and halftime of their football game, at least you are there. I knew an attorney who worked for a high-powered law firm and yet he made it to each and every one of his four kids’ activities. He was there with legal pad in hand, but he was there. It will mean a lot to your kid to see their dad in the stands rooting them on.
Schedule a weekly Family Night. Make this a non-negotiable date, and schedule all other activities around it. Play board games, watch a video, or go out and get some ice cream.
Tuck your kids in bed and read them a book. Bedtime routines aren’t just for tykes. Even when your kid gets older, make it a tradition to read to them. You can move on from “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” to “Treasure Island” as they grow up.
Don’t forget the Mrs. While the focus of this article is about balancing work with your kids, make sure to focus time on your wife, too. One piece of advice that I hear over and and over again from people is if you want to be a good father, then be an awesome husband. Call a babysitter, and take your wife out on a date. Make time every day to talk to each other. Right before bed when the kids are asleep is a good time. And don’t let work or being a dad get in the way of your sex life with your wife.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
Posted: 17 Nov 2008 02:27 PM PSTOne common meme online is for bloggers and forum users to discuss what they wish they could tell their “past self” – perhaps five or ten years ago. Common examples are things like:
- Take better care of your teeth.
- Don’t start a relationship with…
- Change your major to…
- Eat less junk/exercise more
- Don’t flunk your exams
(You can just think this through, but it’s much more powerful to write it down.)
Here are some areas where your future-self may need to have a firm word with your present-self:
Can you see yourself in the same career in five years’ time? If that thought makes you think of five long years of stress and boredom, it’s time to start researching a career change. If you’d like to be in the same career but at a higher level, are you actively working towards a promotion, or just assuming that it will happen? Will your current actions put you in the position you want to be in, or will they mean that you never progress from where you currently are?
If you’re in school or college, are you truly investing in your future – or are you just enjoying yourself and blowing off classes whenever you can? Alternatively, are you taking on so many extra credit courses that you’re risking burnout? Whatever your attitude towards your education, stop and think about where you’re likely to be in five years time if you carry on as you currently are doing. Will you be in the position you want?
Are you currently in debt? Do you have the level of savings that you’d like – maybe an emergency fund, or a bigger pot of cash for traveling? Consider how the way you’re treating money today will impact you in five years. If you keep buying on credit, leaving bills unopened and refusing to get on top of your finances, you’re going to make things very hard for your future-self. But if you start saving just $10 a week today, that’s $2,600 (plus interest!) in five years time.
What good habits would you like to have in your life? What bad habits would you like to get rid of? Unless you’re taking active steps to build the former and conquer the latter, you’re unlikely to make any progress. If you want to cut down your coffee habit or quit smoking, don’t keep putting it off until next week, next month, or next year. Because five years down the line, your future-self is looking back and wishing that you’d started working on those habits today.
Do you eat a healthy diet? Do you exercise on a regular basis? Is your body in good shape and likely to survive the next five years without any significant health problems? Be honest with yourself: if you’re overweight, why not start taking action now? Even if it takes you five years to reach a healthy weight, those five years are going to go by anyway. Just ask your future-self (who wishes you’d start your healthier lifestyle right now).
Something many people regret in life is not taking advantage of the chances that they have. Are you missing out on any opportunities at the moment? Is your future-self looking back and telling you to sign up for that course, take that class, reach out to that potential new friend, or volunteer for that big project at work? A good place to look for the opportunities you’re missing is to think about anything you’re afraid to try, or afraid to start. Those are the things that future-self wishes you’d do!
|Written on 11/17/2008 by Ali Hale. Ali runs Alpha Student, a blog packed with academic, financial and practical tips to help students get the most out of their time at university.||Photo Credit: superfem|
Monday, December 15, 2008
Posted: 10 Dec 2008 12:33 PM PSTChristmas is ahead and so is the holiday season. This is the time when people start packing their bags and gear up for a nice holiday with family and friends. And this is also the time when almost everyone of us finds it hard to plan and organize things in the right way. Whether it is finding the right hotel, booking flights or making a checklist of things to carry, everything seems to take too much of time and effort.
Keeping that in mind, I decided to list ten pretty cool websites which help you in planning and organizing things in a better manner, thereby making your travel hassle free and enjoyable. Previously, I've mentioned a list of seven general travel websites which could be of great help to any traveler. But this list, as you will see, is different. It's comprised of cool, free, mostly unusual websites which not everyone knows about. I hope you enjoy reading about them and then trying them out.
Tripeedo is an amazing site which makes finding airfares an easy task. It has a simple search bar where you can type the destination and date and it does the rest. It gives you a preview of information it has gathered from different travel providers like Kayak and Travelocity and then you can choose the one you want and check the fares immediately.
Don't Forget Your Toothbrush
Don't Forget Your Toothbrush is another cool website which makes the task of making a holiday checklist a cakewalk. You can just check the items you want and easily print out a holiday checklist without the need to type long sentences. It also allows you to set email reminders for important stuff.
Traveas allows you to track information such as the status of your flight and other related information on your cellphone. It alerts you by sending an SMS in case your flight gets delayed or canceled. Hence it's another nice app to save you time and frustration during the hustles and bustles of your journey from home to airport.
SeeYourHotel uses Google Maps to locate the hotel you want and then get a glimpse of its rooms. When you find a hotel on the map, just click on it and you get a box with various options including the option to book the hotel. Great app to find and locate good hotels.
Travel Guides Free
As the name indicates, Travel Guides Free (US and Canada only) provides free travel guides which can be received free by mail or downloaded to your computer. It certainly could be of great help to those traveling to and within the US and Canada.
Wanna get the best and the most comfortable seats on your next flight ? Then SeatGuru is just for you. As they mention, it is " the ultimate source for airplane seating, in-flight amenities and airline information. " Another tool to make your journey a pleasurable one.
ATMLocator helps you locate cash dispensers in almost every country and location. It is a service provided by Visa, can be accessed from your cellphone and you can even get a map view of the location of ATM. So next time you run out of cash in a location which is not familiar, then use this service to locate an ATM nearby.
World Taximeter gives you the estimate of the fare of a taxi ride in major cities around the globe. So if you want to prevent yourself from getting duped by a greedy cabbie then make sure you check the fares beforehand if you are travelling to a destination listed on the site.
Sleeping In Airports
A perfect site for travelers on a budget (I'm sure a lot of you would be considering the recession) and plan to have an overnight stay at the airport. SleepingInAirports provides airport sleeping tips and the best airports to consider for the free overnight stay.
Drive Pricing does a good job calculating the gas cost if you intend to go for a road trip in the US. Hence you can use this site if you can't decide between a road trip and air travel and want to find out which one would cost you less.
|Written on 12/10/2008 by Abhijeet Mukherjee. You can catch him at Jeet Blog where he blogs about different Web 2.0 apps a nd online tools and how they can help you become more productive.||Photo Credit: agahran|
Sunday, December 14, 2008
I got a head start in life by skipping school. Let me explain.
In 1978, when some of my high school peers were off experiencing their freshman year of college, I was starting my radio career experience.
4 years later a friend of mine, took the same job I had 4 years earlier. She was earning just over minimum wage, she had 4 years of college debt and she was 4 years behind me in her radio career.
She quit and left the business a few years later.
What matters most, a degree or experience? I've seen plenty of college grads that were unable to do the job that they studied for. And I've seen many non-grads held back because they didn't earn any letters behind their name.
My suggestion is do both.
My son graduates in the spring of 2009 and then will be going on to law school. However he is also getting lots of experience along the way in related fields. My son-in-law took an internship while in school, they hired him and helped him finish his education, so he did both too.
My step-daughter, in her second year of college has been doing work that is related to her career path and will be doing a paid internship that includes an excellent wage. For an Internship!
Even if you didn't finish college, or never started, never stop learning, adding to your experiences.
Harvey Mackay wrote about this last week:
The 10,000-hour investment
For years I have preached the importance of hard work, determination, persistence and practice—make that perfect practice—as key ingredients of success. A nifty new book seems to support my theory.
Malcolm Gladwell has written a fascinating study, "Outliers, The Story of Success," which should make a lot of people feel much better about not achieving instant success. In fact, he says it takes about 10 years, or 10,000 hours, of practice to attain true expertise.
"The people at the very top don't just work harder or even much harder than everyone else," Gladwell writes. "They work much, much harder." Achievement, he says, is talent plus preparation. Preparation seems to play a bigger role.
For example, he describes The Beatles' rise to fame: They had been together seven years before their famous arrival in America. They spent a lot of time playing in strip clubs in Hamburg, Germany, sometimes for as long as eight hours a night. John Lennon said of those years: "We got better and got more confidence. We couldn't help it with all the experience playing all night long." Overnight sensation? Not exactly. Estimates are that that the band performed live 1,200 times before their big success in 1964. By comparison, most bands don't perform 1,200 times in their careers.
Neurologist Daniel Levitin has studied the formula for success extensively, and shares this finding: "The emerging picture from such studies is that 10,000 hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert in anything. In study after study of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, the number comes up again and again. Of course, this doesn't address why some people get more out of their practice sessions than others do. But no one has yet found a case in which true world-class expertise was accomplished in less time. It seems it takes the brain this long to assimilate all that it needs to know to achieve true mastery."
Two computer giants, Bill Joy, who co-founded Sun Microsystems, and Bill Gates, co-founder of Microsoft, also were proof of the 10,000-hour theory. Their years of hard work paid off, don't you think?
As Gladwell puts it, "Practice isn't the thing you do once you're good. It's the thing you do that makes you good."
My purely unscientific observations support all that he says. Our sales reps at MackayMitchell Envelope Company seem to hit their prime after several years of hard work. And I believe it's more than getting comfortable in the job, because I've also seen sales reps that seemed like naturals at selling who couldn't peddle water in the desert. Why? They thought they could get by on their good looks, their winning personalities or their pedigrees. The notion of investing 10,000 hours didn't apply to them—or so they thought. I wouldn't know, because they aren't working for us anymore.
Consider these thoughts from successful folks in all walks of life:
- "A winner is someone who recognizes his God-given talents, works his tail off to develop them into skills, and uses these skills to accomplish his goals."—Larry Bird, basketball star turned coach/team president.
- "No one can arrive from being talented alone. God gives talent; work transforms talent into genius."—Anna Pavlova, poet.
- "I know the price of success: dedication, hard work and an unremitting devotion to the things you want to see happen."—Frank Lloyd Wright, architect.
- "The way to learn to do things is to do things. The way to learn a trade is to work at it. Success teaches how to succeed. Begin with the determination to succeed, and the work is half done already."—Mark Twain, writer and humorist.
- "Things may come to those who wait. But only the things left by those who hustle."—President Abraham Lincoln.
Do you detect a theme here?
The abilities these people possessed were far-ranging, yet the formula for success was the same: hard work and lots of it. I don't know anyone who has succeeded any other way. Some people just make it look easy. Of course, you probably didn't see the first 9,999 hours of hard work. And you don't just have to work hard; you have to work smart too.
Mackay's Moral: Some people dream about success, and others wake up and do something about it.
Miss a column? The last three weeks of Harvey's columns are always archived online.
More information and learning tools can be found online at harveymackay.com.