Saturday, December 18, 2010
Friday, December 17, 2010
I wondered, what was so important that needed his attention on a Friday or Saturday evening while we were dining together.
Then this summer I got a Droid. And I've had to be careful not to do the same.
Last weekend, my kids were over for my birthday and there were 3 droids and an iPod out at one time checking on "things". This was okay, because all of us were using them.
It's when you are the one without one that you find it the most annoying.
Still, there are some manners we should follow, like these from the DLM blog:
Posted: 12 Dec 2010 08:40 AM PST
Are you similar to many other people and a little too attached to your cellphone? Does it seem only appropriate that when your cellphone rings you should answer it the vast majority of the time regardless of who you are with or what you are doing? Are there Twitter or Facebook alerts popping up every three seconds? Is there really anything wrong with multitasking and taking the occasional call during dinner, or checking e-mail while you are in a meeting?
Believe it or not, your cellphone is possibly causing you more harm than good. The majority of us probably need to take a look and change how we manage our cellphone use. Honestly, how many people can you see right now? How many are nursing their iPhone like it's a newborn?
Don't get me wrong, I am just as attached to my cellphone as anyone. My Droid literally changed my life; e-mail and texts are an essential part of my day and I honestly don't remember how I existed without instant access to the internet.
But, have you noticed how cellphones have a tendency to just take over and constantly demand a significant part of your attention? You can go through life on autopilot jumping from one e-mail to the next, responding to voice mail messages, and not really ever paying enough attention to the experiences happening right in front of you. It is not that you are totally oblivious to what is going on, but let's face it, if you are continually being disrupted by your cellphone, you are just not nearly as engaged as you could be.
Cellphones are literally masters of distraction and they can take your attention away from just about anything instantly and consistently.
The Negatives to Being "On Demand"
The ability to instantly connect with anyone has its advantages, but it also has its costs if not managed properly. Don't underestimate the damage caused by allowing your cellphone to constantly require you to multitask.
Research has proven that workers distracted by email and phone calls suffer from many issues, even including a fall in IQ during the period of distraction. "Those who are constantly breaking away from tasks to react to email or text messages suffer similar effects on the mind equivalent to losing a night's sleep." The same study also found multitasking has a negative physical effect, prompting the release of stress hormones and adrenaline.
And, the usual justification that multitasking allows you to accomplish more also doesn't really stand up to scrutiny. Another study confirmed that people who multitask actually end up being less efficient.
Stop Being Used By Your Cellphone
Stop allowing your cellphone to hold your attention and mind hostage. It is time to reclaim your attention span.
Now, this doesn't mean that every once in a while you can't make an exception and take a call or check an e-mail while you are doing something else. The problem is when switching back and forth from one task to cell phone management is your standard operating procedure. And, if we notice this is one of our bad habits, we need to start work on changing it.
5 Tips to Help Free You From Being Held Hostage By Your Cellphone:
- Turn off the ringer from time to time.
As scary as that may sound, there are just sometimes you shouldn't be interrupted. Reserve blocks of times to devote your complete attention to things you need to get done, your kids, your spouse, your driving! Turn your ringer off during holidays and other family or alone time so you can really engage and enjoy those experiences.
- Turn off your notification light.
Make a leap of faith and realize everything will not explode just because you don't instantly know when an e-mail or text message comes in. Yes, this may take some getting used to, but, it really is liberating and allows you to decide the best time to read e-mails and texts instead of always checking your phone every time you notice the notification light flashing.
- Use your cell phone; don't let it use you.
It's great that you can do just about everything on your cellphone, but when you pick it up to use it, decide what you are going to do, use it, and get out. If you are going to return e-mails, then don't end up surfing around the internet. Have a plan every time you pick up your cell phone and stick to it.
- Screen your calls and e-mails.
Prioritize paying attention to who you are with or what you are currently doing. Take a look at who is trying to contact you and decide if you really need to respond right away. No one really knows whether or not you are available so you can decide to not answer your cell phone unless it really is necessary.
- Reserve blocks of time to check your messages and respond.
Take periods of time to check and return all your messages. Perhaps you have a block of time you take every morning, afternoon, and evening. This way your messages don't accumulate and you can be fairly confident you are not going to miss anything really time sensitive because you are checking your messages regularly. If you are a heavy user, you may need to have more check-ins throughout the day. Figure out what works best for you, but the key is to not consistently and continually check messages throughout the day.
If you are interested in really getting the most out of all your experiences, increasing your productivity and being less stressed and overwhelmed, start paying attention to how you are using your cellphone. You will be amazed at the positive impact that managing your cellphone in the right way will have on everything you do.
|Written on 3/17/2009 by Sibyl Chavis. Sibyl writes about the importance of seeing life from a different perspective and discovering alternaviews. She is an avid reader and blogger and has spent her career as an executive in the legal and human resources fields. As a human resources professional, she has many years of experience counseling, coaching and helping other people realize their potential. Visit her blog at www.alternaview.com.||Photo Credit: Symic|
Thursday, December 16, 2010
10 Holiday Date Ideas
- It’s a Wonderful Life
- Holiday Inn
- White Christmas
- Miracle on 34th Street
- The Bishop’s Wife
- Peanut’s Christmas
- A Christmas Story
Not to toot my own horn, but I think I’m pretty good at a lot of relationship stuff. According to Kate, I’m very supportive, respectful, and trustworthy, am able to be the rock in a crisis, and have achieved the tricky balance between being nice and being a wiener. But, as Kate can also attest, I struggle with a few things, and one of them is being romantic. I find it difficult to turn my thoughts and good intentions into spontaneous acts of affection.
Which is why I love the holidays.
This time of year takes all the work out of creating romance; the elements for it are already in place. We’re naturally feeling less guarded and cynical and are primed for bonding and cozy intimacy. Christmas lights and decorations set the scene and provide the requisite warm fuzzies. There’s magic in the air before you even lift a finger. The holidays are like a pool teeming with fish; all you have to do is let down your net to pick up a great bounty. The romantic atmosphere is out there; you simply need to take advantage of it. Here are 10 ways to do just that.
Looking at Christmas Lights
The warm twinkle of Christmas lights can set the heart of your special someone aglow and give you both the childlike feeling of magical possibilities. Ordinary houses and trees are transformed into something extraordinary.
Most towns have hot spots for Christmas light decorations. Some neighborhoods compete in an annual arms race to see which house can create the best display. Their neighborly pride is your gain. After you map out your route, create a holiday music mix that you can listen to while you’re driving around. You can never go wrong with classic Christmas crooners like Bing Crosby, Johnny Mathis, and Frank Sinatra.
Also be sure to check out the massive displays that are sometimes put on in parks by community organizations, where you can walk around in a winter wonderland of millions of lights. Check your local papers and ask your friends and co-workers to find out where they are. And try to go during the week as they can be especially packed on the weekends.
The final touch to this night of romantic holiday lights is a thermos full of thick, delicious hot chocolate. Sip on it while you take in all the wonder. Your date’s heart will melt.
Man, I love Christmas cookies. Both the eating and making of them, and chances are your wife or girlfriend does too. Holiday baking is a fantastic date idea because it gives you a chance to work with your gal on a shared task, which in turns strengthens your bond and connection with her. And most importantly, you get a delicious treat to eat when you’re done!
To keep this date simple, stick with making one kind of cookie; I would vote for gingerbread men as wielding the cookie cutters and decorating the little guys is an enjoyable task. Invite your gal over (or go over her place=-she probably has the cookie cutters), turn on the holiday tunes, and start whipping up a batch. The oven won’t be the only thing warming up.
When you’re done baking, sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor or make a plate and deliver them to a little old lady.
Re-create the romantic ice-skating scene between Cary Grant and Loretta Young in The Bishop’s Wife by taking your gal to a skating rink. Between the hand holding and the full body embraces needed to keep each other from “accidentally” falling, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to strengthen the physical and emotional bond with your date. Many cities-even relatively balmy ones-have outdoor skating rinks during the winter that play Christmas music while you glide through the winter air. If yours does, take advantage of it while you can. It’s way more romantic than an indoor rink.
Decorate the Christmas Tree
A Christmas tree will infuse your date with the sights, lights, and smell of Christmas. It’s a holiday date trifecta. Start the date off by taking your special someone to a tree farm to pick out your tree. When you get home with your tree, play some Bing Crosby, sip some eggnog, and start decorating. If you’re hanging childhood ornaments, share some of the memories you have them with your date. She’ll think you’re sweet. You can even do some flirty teasing by putting tinsel on her head when she isn’t looking.
When you’re done decorating, turn off the lights in the house and show her you’re not afraid to have fun like a kid by lying side by side together under the Christmas tree and gazing up through the branches. Romantic smooching is 100% guaranteed.
During the holidays, the need for volunteers goes up substantially at food banks, soup kitchens, and clothing donation centers. They need more hands to handle the flood of donations that come in during this time of year. I know sorting cans of pumpkin doesn’t sound very romantic, but volunteering is a fantastic date idea, especially if you’re trying to figure out if she’s the one. You’ll get a chance to see your girlfriend in a different light. How does she treat others less fortunate than her? With compassion? Scorn? Does she whine when given an undesirable assignment or does she roll up her sleeves and get to work?
I definitely recommend doing the volunteering date after you’ve been with someone for awhile. It’s a little heavy for a first go round.
Christmas Movie Night
Instead of dropping a double sawbuck on taking your date out to the movies, stay in and watch some classic Christmas flicks together. Stock up on your favorite Christmas movies, make some hot cider, and curl up next to each other under a blanket for hours of holiday-themed viewing. Need some help on which Christmas movies to watch? Here’s a list of some of my favorites. Many of them happen to be romantic comedies. Bonus!
I know. I know. Consumerism has been sucking the life and spirit out of the holidays for decades, but it’s okay to take a sabbatical from the high horse and enjoy giving and receiving a few gifts this time of year. When it’s not overdone, it’s really a terrific tradition, no? I personally quite enjoy Christmas shopping. Buying gifts for loved ones amidst the hustle and bustle, festive store displays, and Christmas music gets me right into the holiday spirit. I’ve been doing more online shopping these days, and while it’s convenient, it’s just not the same.
Both you and your main squeeze probably have some shopping to do, so why not do it together? You can help each other pick gifts out for friends and family while taking in all the sights and sounds of the holidays. And of course you can drop hints about what you’d like to get from her by pointing out things that catch your eye. End the date by going home, ordering take out, and wrapping the presents together.
Go see The Nutcracker or A Christmas Carol
If your lady is into ballet, take her to a performance of The Nutcracker. Yeah, it’s ballet, but it’s a) romantic and b) a holiday tradition, which makes it perfect for this list. I always thought the sword fighting rats were pretty cool as a kid and that crazy guy with an eye patch was bad-a.
Going to see A Christmas Carol also makes for a terrific date. Every time I see it, I leave with an uplifted heart and a ton of holiday cheer. Here in Oklahoma, a local theater does A Christmas Carol with an Okie twist. Instead of taking place in Victorian England, the play is set in Territorial Oklahoma right after the Land Run. Scrooge is some sort of cattle and oil baron and instead of plum pudding the characters eat corn bread. It’s a kitschy good time.
Holiday Bed and Breakfast
This is a tradition my wife and I began while I was in law school. After the craziness of finals was over, we’d rent a room at a bed and breakfast near Oklahoma City for a night of romance and reconnecting. The bed and breakfast we go to is old and homey, and the charm is only heightened by the seasonal decorations. It’s a night of total relaxation. We’ll light a fire, watch some Christmas movies, and, well, you know.
In the morning, we’re treated to a holiday-themed breakfast of pumpkin spice pancakes and hot chocolate. After our little holiday getaway at the bed and breakfast, my wife and I always feel reconnected and filled with the holiday spirit.
Emotionally charged moments between you and your lady friend create memories and increase bonding. The adrenaline rush from speeding down a snowy hill can jump start your relationship. When the first snow covers the ground, grab your gal and your sled, find a quality hill, and take her for the ride of her life (for those of you in warmer climes, there’s always ice blocking!). Finish the date by warming up next to a fire. Oh yeah.
Do you have any other holiday date ideas? Share them with us in the comments!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
... for Christmas:
A recent AMP Insights Holiday Shopping Behavior survey looked at teens between the ages of 13 and 19, and came up with some interesting results regarding what they are buying, where they are buying, and what they would like to receive for Christmas.
Teens have deep pockets:
-- 49% are planning on spending over $150 on gifts for others this holiday season.
-- 20% are planning on spending over $300 on gifts for others this holiday season.
They're planning to give gifts to those closest to them:
-- 86% plan to give gifts to parents.
-- 75% plan to give gifts to siblings.
-- 74% plan to give gifts to friends.
-- 60% pan to give gifts to boyfriends and girlfriends.
Teens treat themselves when shopping for holiday gifts for others. Sixty-five percent say when shopping for gifts for others, they will sometimes shop for themselves if they happen to find something they need or want.
Finding the best deal is the number one priority for teens. Forty-five percent research a gift item to find the best deal before purchasing.
Though Apparel is ranked high on teens' wish lists, the Electronics and Entertainment categories are top choices:
-- 79% hope to receive gifts in the Electronics category.
-- 69% hope to receive gifts in the Entertainment category.
-- 61% hope to receive gifts in the Accessories category.
-- 47% hope to receive gifts in the Apparel category.
-- 46% hope to receive gifts in the Footwear category.
-- 32% hope to receive gifts in the Health and Beauty category.
Within the Electronics and Entertainment categories, teens want items for a fun experience:
-- 85% hope to receive video games.
-- 74% hope to receive movies.
-- 74% hope to receive music.
-- 64% hope to receive an iPod.
-- 59% hope to receive a laptop.
Big retail stores rise to the top for shopping:
-- GameStop, 62%
-- Wal-Mart, 60%
-- Best Buy, 57%
-- Target, 53%
-- Hot Topic, 46%
-- JC Penney, 45%
-- Macy's, 40%
-- Aeropostale, 37%
-- Apple, 37%
-- Hollister, 36%
(Source: The Center for Media Research, 11/30/10)
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
This week's tip is rated M for Moderately Techie.
A few computers ago, when I used to really dig in and modify settings, thinking I knew what I was doing, I found a free program called Free Extended Task Manager by Extensoft.
Every once in a while, my computer starts running slow, or a program hangs. I want to turn off the program that is not responding, or find out what is using slowing down my computer, so I will start this program.
I know Windows has a Task Manager program built it, but I like this one better. Click here to check it out.
I noticed that Microsoft Outlook was starting by itself and eating up a lot of my RAM and slowing down my computer. So I clicked on the process tab and stopped Outlook, and my computer was back to full speed.
(Finally I decided to uncover why Outlook would start up, I found the problem in an old calendar item and was able to delete it.)
Good luck, have fun, and be careful!
Monday, December 13, 2010
Posted: 07 Dec 2010 06:27 AM PST
You always lose your keys. You rarely get any exercise. There never seem to be any clean mugs. You keep forgetting to put that letter in the mailbox. You have great intentions about putting some money into your savings account each month – but you never actually do.
A bunch of very different problems, but with one root cause: your system is letting you down.
Or, worse, you don't have a system at all...
Why You Need Systems
I know this is going to sound a bit obsessive-compulsive, but having the right system in place – even for the smallest of tasks – is really important.
Why? Because it saves thinking. It prevents repeated mistakes. It circumvents willpower and lets you build strong habits without struggling to force yourself to have more self-discipline.
You might well have a bunch of systems at work. When I worked in tech support, we had clear, step-by-step instructions for all sorts of tasks, like setting up new forums for clients. We had systems for who did what when.
But do you have strong, reliable systems set up in your personal life?
A "system" could look like any of these:
- You always put your keys on the hook in the kitchen
- You go out for a walk every evening before dinner, buying fresh vegetables on the way
- You always put the dishwasher on in the evening
- You keep your outgoing mail near the front door so that you remember to put it up
- You set up an automated transfer between your checking account and your savings, so that you never need to summon up the willpower to make that transfer manually
Finding the Point of Failure
Very often, you do have a system in place – but it's not working. (You might not realize that it even is a system.) For instance:
- You leave your keys in the pocket of whatever jacket or coat you're wearing
- You slump on the sofa every evening and end up ordering take-out because the fridge is empty
- You only put the dishwasher on when you realise you've run out of clean plates
You probably haven't set these systems up consciously, but they're running, all the same. To fix them, you need to look for the point of failure – the moment when it all goes wrong. There's often one very specific point where you can take action to turn things around:
- You lock the car (fine), unlock the front door (fine), put the keys straight into your coat pocket (fail!)
- You write a letter (fine), put on a stamp (fine), and leave it on the kitchen table amongst a pile of papers (fail!)
Very simple actions can absolutely make the difference between success and failure. Taking just a few minutes to think up a better system – and to get into the habit of using it – can save you a lot of mistakes and wasted time.
What simple systems could you put into practice today?
|Written on 12/7/2010 by Ali Luke. Ali writes a blog, Aliventures, about leading a productive and purposeful life (get the RSS feed here). As well as blogging, she writes fiction, and is studying for an MA in Creative Writing.||Photo Credit: Tony Brierton Photos|
Sunday, December 12, 2010
"He's 19 months now"
Later we used to measure it in half years.
"I'm 5 and half"
Sometime later, I started counting it by decades.
"He's in his 40's"
Last year my wife tossed a surprise 50th birthday party for me that included a friend that I've know since I was 19 who now lives in my neighborhood, and all of my kids and newer friends and neighbors.
She even invited my first wife who is 364 days younger than me. (That means she turned 50 two days ago!)
Turning 50 last year was pretty cool. As I looked at my son who turned 25 the month before, I reflected on all that had occurred in my life since I was his age and started looking forward to the next 25 years.
This year my wife told me to NOT expect anything big. Which was fine with me.
I did know that my oldest daughter Rachael, who lives in town was involved, but I thought perhaps we'd meet them out for dinner last night.
I was wrong.
Turns out Kathy cooked up something with Rachael, who in turn did a bunch of cooking up stuff:
-We got home about 6:3o last night after getting in the car and looking at Christmas lights. There was a car in the driveway and one in the street in front of our house that belonged to Rachael and her fiance Brandon, AND my youngest daughter Tiffany and her husband Jon from Indianapolis. Big Surprise #1
- Rachael was in the kitchen fixing shrimp fettuccine for us to enjoy at home. Big Surprise #2
- My son Josh and his new bride Madeline were on their way up from Richmond. Big Surprise #3
- Once everyone was there and we had enjoyed the food, cake and ice cream, I was presented with a gift bag from my kids. As I was removing the tissue paper to see what was hidden below, a brown cardboard box from Amazon appeared in the bag. It looked like the box had been opened so I really didn't expect it to contain what the box said on the outside: Amazon Kindle.
I was wrong. It really was a Kindle. Big Surprise #4
Now, I never had in mind that I would ever want a Kindle. I had never seen one except in TV ads. It was not on my wish list, gift list, I wasn't going to buy one or ask for one. But now I was holding one, and it was mine....
I have an Amazon Kindle account because I was given a book earlier this year and there is a free Kindle app on my laptop and I can download one for my phone. So last night as I signed into my Kindle account, the book appeared on my new toy. And I started reading it.
As I read more about what I can do with the Kindle, I realized that many of the pdf books and white papers I have collected and stored on my laptop, but rarely read or listen to, can be put on the Kindle and I will be reading and listening to them.
I didn't need it. I would have been happy with a quiet dinner with my wife and enjoyed the company of Rachael and Brandon. That was what I was expecting. Instead I recieved the gift of visits from my "out of town" kids and their spouses too. That was over the top too. The Kindle just added extra icing to what was already a delicious family time.
And as a side note, all day yesterday and even today, birthday greetings were being sent my way via Twitter and Facebook. If you are on Facebook, be sure to wish your friends a Happy one on their day when it shows up on your page.
Thanks to one and all. And I know this is pretty long, because I added this middle part of this blog post this morning, the rest I wrote last week.
And I live with very few, if any real regrets. If you do, reach out and forgive yourself, forgive others, and nurture those relationships.
A couple weeks ago, I received an email from the DLM blog that continues with this discussion:
Posted: 21 Nov 2010 09:07 AM PST
There are so many things I want to do in the short time I'm here. Some of these things scare me, some will challenge me and others are just plain fun.
Unfortunately, life is very short and the older I get the quicker time seems to pass. I'm quickly realizing that I probably won't fit everything in. So how do I choose? How do I pick which things to go for wholeheartedly and what things to leave to someone else?
It comes down to a simple question: "When I'm 80, will I regret __________________?"
The blank could be not doing something or choosing to do one thing over another. It's a simple question and it comes in really handy.
Next time you find yourself struggling over whether or not you're going to do something ask yourself that very question: "Will I regret this decision when I'm 80?" If the answer is no then go ahead with your decision. If it's yes think about how you can make it happen or stick it out until you're done.
Life's too precious to have you get all the way to the end and say "damn I should have done that when I had the chance" or "I really should have let that go" or "I can't believe I didn't take the opportunity when it was presented to me".
Live your life to your best capability. Here are a few areas that you could try to challenge yourself in. Some of these you may have thought of yourself, some of these will be new but what I hope is that it gives you a push to do more and be more with the life you have left.
Have you ever changed jobs? Have you thought about changing jobs? How about your career? The possibilities are endless when it comes to how you make a living. Maybe you've toyed with the idea of becoming an entrepreneur and working for yourself. Will you regret not giving it a chance? Or will you regret going for it?
Have you been eating the same food for the past 20 years? Have you always wanted to try something new but haven't got around to it yet? Are too afraid to try it because "Oh I don't like chickpeas". Go out on a limb and give it a shot. Get a cookbook full of exotic recipes and work your way through it. Make a point of going to different types of restaurants when you go out for dinner.
Do you spend most of your time in the office only to leave your chair to travel back home again where you sit down, watch TV, and "relax"? Try getting out more. Turn off the TV and get outside. Go on a walk or a hike or a drive. Is there somewhere local that you've never been? Too often we see a lot more of foreign places than we do of our own back yard.
Like to play it safe? Worried about things going wrong? It's been my experience that everything always works out. Try something risky like changing careers or quitting your job and working for yourself. Pick up and move half way around the world and see what it's like in another culture, another country or another hemisphere.
- Doing something crazy
Walk home in the rain in your business suit. Join a polar bear club or sing along with a busker in the streets and see what happens. Be a back up dancer at a karaoke bar. There are a lot of crazy things you can do. Keep it clean, be respectful and I'm sure you'll find you get a burst of energy and excitement from doing it.
- Being nice
Do something nice for someone else out of the blue and just because. Don't expect anything in return. Volunteer at a soup kitchen, donate food and toys to an animal shelter. Plant an extra row of vegetables in your garden and donate the produce to a charity. We all think we're nice people but actions really do speak louder than words. Think about it.
- Quitting something
We all know that when we say yes to one thing we are saying no to something else. If that committee you're on isn't providing you a sense of fulfillment or accomplishment as it once did, quit. Quit the soccer team if it's no longer fun, quit grad school if it's no longer what you want to do. Quitting is usually seen as a negative thing and to be avoided. However, being deliberate and thoughtful in what you are resigning from will open a large chunk of time that could be better spent.
|Written on 11/21/2010 by Sherri Kruger. Sherri writes at Zen Family Habits, a blog celebrating all things family. Sherri also writes on personal development at Serene Journey, a blog dedicated to sharing simple tips to enjoy life||Photo Credit: Pierre LaScott|