Saturday, July 02, 2011

Saturday Night Classic Music Video

One of favs, hope you like it too....

Fort Wayne Site of the Day

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Friday, July 01, 2011

30 More Frugal Friday Tips

January 1st is the traditional day to make resolutions and changes.

That was 6 months ago and you don't have to wait 6 months.

Since the end of April in my family, I can count at least 6 employment changes, all self-imposed by various family members including myself.

And no matter how much you earn, it pays to be frugal.

DLM recently shared a list of 30 tips:

30 Easy Ways to Save Money (and No, you are not doing them all!)

Posted: 18 Jun 2011 10:23 PM PDT

Let’s keep this one simple and clean - just a bunch of relatively easy ways to save money. As you incorporate more and more of these tips into your life, the savings add up and it wouldn’t surprise me if you could save thousands over the course of a year.

It will take a little work on your part but those thousands of dollars in savings are what helped us get out of debt earlier, kept us out of debt for several years and will hopefully help us pay off our recent auto loan soon as well.
  1. Cook at home often: If both the husband and wife work, this is likely to be very difficult. Start out with the habit of cooking at home once a week and slowly increase the frequency until you find a balance between saving money and getting stressed out.

  2. Make your own coffee: Everyone seems to have heard of the latte factor. Even though the author may have overestimated the savings from skipping a latte at Starbucks, don’t underestimate the ding it puts in your pocket in the long run. You don’t have to entirely ban drinking coffee, but skip it as often as possible unless you make it at home.

  3. Brown bag lunch at least a few days a week: Lunch times are great opportunities to network and make connections that could improve your career growth. So unless there is a common eating area for brown baggers, you may choose to limit brown bagging lunch to three days each week. Find a balance between saving some money and making the connection. In my case, I take my lunch with me 2-3 times a week and eat out the rest of the time.

  4. Make a list before going shopping: They call it impulse buying for a reason. Humans simply have a very tough time resisting the temptation to purchase extras while shopping. Without a list you will buy items that you simply do not need. Even worse is when your forget to purchase the actual item you came to the store for in the first place. If you plan on cooking at home, pre-plan a rough menu and make a list before you go grocery shopping. Getting all that you need in one trip can help avoid another unnecessary trip and temptation.

  5. Go grocery shopping while you are in a hurry: Maybe you need to go out in a couple of hours. Or your favorite show is going to be on TV after a couple of hours. Try to squeeze in the grocery trip in that intermediate time. Armed with your grocery list, you should be in-and-out very quickly with little time for meandering and getting tempted to buy things you don’t need.

  6. Watch out for expiration dates on perishable goods: This one seems intuitive when you read it, but I am surprised at how many people do not pay attention to expiry dates. No point getting a gallon of milk if it is going to turn sour with a couple of days. Same goes for meat, eggs, yogurt, spreads, frozen items, deli/bakery items etc. Some people say you can use a few items a few days after expiry – but I personally value my health more than money and would rather avoid buying such items in the first place.

  7. Buy in bulk whenever possible: When it comes to non-perishable items, buy in bulk whenever you find something on sale. The items I usually stock up on are, cereals, tinned goods, rice, beans, pasta, coke, toothpaste, body wash, shampoo, toilet paper etc. For such items, shopping at warehouse stores like Costco, Sam’s Club etc can save you quite a bit of money, provided you stick strictly to your shopping list when you shop at these places.

  8. Buy generic products whenever possible: Does it really matter whether your cereal is made by Kellogg's or is the store brand? Does it matter if your milk is Oak Farms or the store brand? For a few things (like soda in particular), I prefer brand name products. For others, I do not mind generic store brands if they can save me money. Find what works for you and switch to generic brands for at least a part of your grocery list.

  9. Use grocery store bags to line trash cans: This may not work if you use a massive trash can but we use a small sized one for which the grocery bags are a perfect fit. This not only helps us save some money, but reduces our environmental foot print and avoids the kitchen from stinking from a huge overflowing trash can.

  10. Consolidate and pay off debt as soon as possible: If you carry any debt, focus on consolidating it to a lower interest and paying it off as soon as possible. Money paid in interest is money thrown away! Why spend your hard-earned cash to make the financial institutions rich?

  11. Pay your bills on time and avoid late fees: Get organized about your regular bills. If possible, automate the payments. Most utilities and other recurring bills can be set to be charged to a credit card or deducted from a checking account these days. Also, many banks offer free bill pay programs. So there really is no excuse for forgetting to pay a bill on time and forking out the late fees. Say, by chance you do forget a bill, if you are a first time offender, call the company and request politely to waive the late fees, and more likely than not, they will oblige.

  12. Be aware of your bank balance and avoid over draft fees: If you use your checking account often or have some bills that are paid automatically from your checking account, be aware of the balance and avoid overdraft fees.

  13. Avoid ATM fees: Be aware of the ATM withdrawal fees charged by your bank. While some banks waive fees for all ATM transactions on any ATM machine, most don’t. So be sure to use only those ATM machines where your bank will not charge the fees, or withdraw directly at your bank.

  14. Avoid credit cards with annual fee: Credit cards with their cash back bonuses and reward points are a great way to save some money. Just make sure that the card does not charge you any annual fees! There is no dearth of cards that offer fee-free reward plans, so there really is no reason to pay the annual fees.

  15. Disconnect land line if possible: Unless you have small kids in the house or older people to take care of, it is more than likely that you will be able to survive with only the mobile phones and can get rid of the land line. We have survived without any problems for over 4 years now with out a land line. Our Internet comes via cable.

  16. Instead of buying books, borrow books from the library: Whenever possible, borrow your books instead of buying them. The card to your public library is free and the libraries are generally well stocked. In my city, the chain of public libraries is connected and the available books can be checked online. If there is some book that I cannot find in my local branch, I can make a request online for it to be brought in from one of the other branches to mine which is very convenient.

  17. If you have to buy books, check if you can buy it used: Used books do not quite give the same feeling as leafing through the crisp pages of a brand new book. But considering that you can get used books for almost as much as half the price of a new book, it is a small price to pay. My favorite place to buy used books is a local chain called “Half Price Book Store”. Check if you have something similar in your city. For text books, look online on bulletin boards, mailing lists etc, and price compare on websites like

  18. Price check before buying anything expensive: For other items that are expensive, do a price check before buying the item. If you can wait for a while you can track the prices and grab a great deal when it comes along. Frequently available online coupons make it even more easy to save some money. This is especially true while purchasing any electronics.

  19. Avoid impulse buying: Make it a habit to avoid impulse buying. Many of the things you want to buy do not seem all that necessary, if you only you wait for a day or two. Also, waiting means you will be able to check prices and make an informed decision to buy it at the best possible price.

  20. Bottle your own water: Drinking water is good for your health. I always make it a habit to keep some at my desk at all times. Bottled water is the most convenient since it can provide protection against accidental spills. That said, buy bottled water only once in a while, and then reuse that bottle to fill your own water. If you are not happy with tap water, invest in a Brita Filter – in the long run it can save a lot of money.

  21. Avoid the vending machines: Almost everything that is dispensed via vending machines has a huge markup (and is rarely healthy). However, if you suffer from snack attacks at work, consider creating a secret stash of snacks. If you like drinking soda and have a fridge at the workplace, save a refrigerator pack in the fridge with a post-it with your name on it. If you have a long commute, consider a stash for the car as well and avoid a quick drive-thru visit.

  22. Keep your car as long as possible: When possible, try to keep your car as long as possible. Find the balance between the money spent on repairs versus the monthly installment on another vehicle and choose to run your old car as long as the repair costs are low.

  23. Do regular scheduled maintenance on your vehicles: Do not skimp on or forget to do regular oil changes. Remember to check the air in your tires often. And use the grade of fuel that the owner’s manual recommends. These small acts can significantly lengthen the life of your car, giving you years of use.

  24. Avoid buying a new car: When you eventually buy a car, see if you can make do with a pre-owned vehicle. A new car depreciates significantly the moment you drive it out the dealership. Is the new car small really worth thousands of dollars? Pre-owned cars that are only a few years old with low mileage are the best bargains. Regardless of the purchase, learn to negotiate with car dealers.

  25. Ride your bike or carpool whenever possible: In many of the cities in the US it is hard to get by without a car. That said, just because you have a car does not mean you have to use it every day. Whenever possible, ride your bike or share a ride with a colleague or spouse and save both on gas and reduce the environmental footprint.

  26. If you watch a lot of DVDs, get an online DVD store membership: Membership to online movie stores like Netflix or Blockbuster Online can save you a lot of money compared to buying DVDs or renting it from a local store. You need to wait once you order the movie, but if you watch a lot of movies at home, then you can easily get into the habit of ordering ahead of time so you always have something at home. If you are patient and your library has the resources, check to see if they have a movie section. You won't get anything very new, but they are free.

  27. If you like watching movies at the theater, go before 6:00 pm: This is one of our soft spots when it comes to spending. We really like watching movies in the theater with the big screen and the great sound effects. But instead of paying ~$10 a pop for the ticket, we usually go before 6:00pm when the tickets are a little less expensive. Also, for movies that we don’t absolutely want to watch right away, we just wait until it screens on the discount theater where the tickets are $2 a pop. We avoid the temptation to buy snacks, by usually going for a theater some time soon after our lunch or sometimes sneaking in our own snacks in the purse.

  28. Regulate your electric use: When not in use, unplug electric appliances. Apparently, unplugging the TV instead of just switching it off can save a lot of electricity! When not in a room, switch off the lights and the fan. Use a programmable thermostat to control your A/C and heater usage. If that's too much, at least know what each appliance uses and unplug a few of them.

  29. Plan vacations ahead of time: Vacations are a necessary part of saving our sanity in the busy lives that we lead. But vacations are also a huge drain on the family finances. You can cut the cost of a vacation significantly by planning and booking ahead of time. Bookmark travel sites for finding inexpensive airfare, hotel etc., and book at least two weeks in advance.

  30. Finally, keep distance from lavish, high-roller friends: If you have lavish friends who buy a new car every other year (or worse still, lease it), have large screen TVs and every other conceivable electronics gadget, eat out at fancy restaurants every other night and just live way beyond their means, keep the distance. They may be nice people and mean you no harm, but hanging out with such people often can lead to a lot of unnecessary desires and discontent. What’s more important – your friends or your peace of mind?
Whoa, that article ended up being a lot longer than I anticipated. Hopefully, I haven’t put you to sleep! Despite the length though, it barely scratches the surface when it comes to ways to save money. Make it a sub-conscious habit to save money in things that you do every day, even if it is a few dollars. All that money saved can add up significantly and you can save it or spend it on things that really matter!

NOTE: I am not saying that you should follow *all* these tips. Trying to be too frugal can make both you and the people around you very miserable. So, pick out a few tips at a time that will work for you and make them a habit, before deciding if you can incorporate more money saving habits in your daily routine.

Written by Sam Baker of - a site dedicated to providing students a choice of money making ideas so they can say no to debt. Republished 6/19/2011.

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Thursday, June 30, 2011

24.016438356 hour Days?

I recall reading about a movement to eliminate leap year.

Theoretically, all we need to do is add 6 hours to each year, which means each day would be 24.016438356 hours long.

There's a better way to add more time to your day (from DLM):

16 Great Tips That'll Add More Hours To Your Day

Posted: 25 Apr 2011 08:36 AM PDT

Everyday it seems that one of my friends is whining about how tied up he is in his work and household chores, and how he wished he had more than 24 hours to accomplish things. As if they were placed on Earth with some lesser amount of time than the rest of us. Don't get me wrong, I have time management issues too. However, I'd like to think that I'm the one in charge of the schedule, not the tasks.

The best way to overcome this situation (and the never-ending frustration) is by doing a careful analysis of your daily schedule and figuring out how to save time by doing the same things you do every day in a slightly different way.

The following points should help you get started. Oh, and please: don't do all of these tomorrow. Choose one or two that are simple to implement. Once you see some gains, revisit this article and grab two more and implement those. Time issues cannot be solved with a shotgun approach, you have to selectively and carefully target what needs to be tweaked.

Ok, so enough monologue. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Work From Home When You Can
Working from home sure saves time. Try and convince your boss to let your work from home for few days a month. And if she does agree, you should take a look at our posts on staying productive and beating the stress when working from home.

Make Use Of Your Commute
Can't get rid of the long commute? Boss won't let you work from home? Well, then make the most out of your commute. Reading a book, listening to a good podcast or catching up to the DLM feed in your RSS reader....there are just so many ways to utilize that time.

Spend Less Time Looking At Your Inbox
I have talked before about managing your email productively. If you are able to do that successfully, it could go a long way in adding time to your busy schedule.

Outsource Errands
We don't often realize that paying bills and running errands could suck up a good bit of time from our 24-hour days. May be you could outsource them to a local service, or find someone on a site like Mechanical Turk and have him do it for you. Maybe you go as far as finding a virtual assistant.

Use the Best Tools Of Your Trade
No matter what work you do, there are always tools available to make your job quicker and easier. The important thing is to know about them. For example, a list like this could come in really handy for web workers. So, tab into your inner autodidact and find the right tools of your trade.

Use Windows Productivity Tricks
Using a Windows PC? Implement these essential Windows productivity tricks to make your everyday computing a better experience.

Deal With RSS Feeds Productively
RSS Feeds could end up consuming a lot of time if they are not managed well. Our posts on avoiding RSS overload and getting good with Google Reader should help.

Use a Good Password Manager
A password manager can speed up the task of registering on sites and creating strong passwords. You should definitely start using one of these 8 amazing password managers.

Get a Good Startpage
A well crafted startpage can help you start off the day productively by letting you take care of multiple tasks from a single page. Try one of these 6 startpages and see how it pans out for you.

Be More Productive At Online Shopping
Shopping - even if it's online - could be one of the most unproductive exercises during a 24-hour period. And it's not usually avoidable either. We can't stop buying, can we? But we can be better (and faster) at it for sure.

Delegate Tasks Whenever You Can
Delegating tasks you are not good at (or you don't enjoy doing) can be a big time saver. Granted it's not easy but there's no harm in trying. Start with these four steps we talked about previously.

Make Use Of Your Offline Time
Are you one of those who can't figure out what to do if your internet is down? I don't blame you. We are just too hooked to the world wide web these days. But offline time can, and should be utilized. You can do a number of productive things during that time.

Don't Multitask
If you remember my productivity myths article, the very first myth I talked about was about the belief that multitasking works. I don't think it does. Save time by not doing it.

Declutter Your Home and Your Life
Decluttering your home and office can help you find things quickly when you need them. Eliminating unnecessary possessions also helps to clear your mind about what exactly you need and when you need them.

Get Things Done With Your Mobile Phone
It's hard to differentiate a computer from a mobile phone these days, at least in terms of functionalism if not the look and the hardware. Hence it'll be good to learn how to get the maximum out of your cellphone, and use it productively.

Use Twitter and Facebook productively

Last but not the least, we've got two social sites that could turn out to be the biggest time suckers - Twitter and Facebook. You might not be able to stop yourself from using them but you could certainly try and become an expert at using Twitter and be more productive on Facebook.



Written on 4/25/2011 by Abhijeet Mukherjee. Abhijeet is a blogger and web publisher from India. He loves all things tech as long as it aids in productivity. He edits Guiding Tech, a blog that publishes useful guides, tutorials and tools. Check it out and subscribe to its feed if you like the site. You can also find him on Twitter. Photo Credit: svofski

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wisdom from Ben

and the AOM:

7 Must Read Life Lessons from Benjamin Franklin

Posted: 27 May 2011 06:52 AM PDT

Benjamin Franklin was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States of America (USA). A famous polymath, Franklin was a leading author and printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, satirist, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat.

As a scientist, he was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity. He invented the lightning rod, bifocals, the Franklin stove, a carriage odometer, and the glass 'armonica'. He formed both the first public lending library in America and the first fire department in Pennsylvania.

His colorful life and legacy of scientific and political achievement, and status as one of America's most influential Founding Fathers, have seen Franklin honored on coinage and money; warships; the names of many towns, counties, educational institutions, namesakes, and companies; and more than two centuries after his death, countless cultural references.

7 Must-Read Life Lessons from Benjamin Franklin:

  1. Waste Not

    "Do not squander time for that is the stuff life is made of."

    Your time is your life. If you waste your time, you are wasting your life. I’ve never met a successful person who didn’t value their time, and I’ve never met an unsuccessful person who did.

    Don’t let other people waste your time either, why is it when someone wants to “kill an hour,” they want to kill your hour as well? Protect your time, it can never be replaced, it can never be replenished, your time is your life.

  2. Learn

    "Being ignorant is not so much a shame, as being unwilling to learn."

    Benjamin Franklin said, “He that won't be counseled can't be helped.” Always be open to learning. You can learn from anyone, and from any situation. You can learn from the fool as well as the genius. Bruce Lee said, “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.”

  3. Make Mistakes

    "Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out."

    Success comes from doing things “right,” and doing things right is usually the result of first doing things wrong. You are certain to make mistakes; the path to success is lined with mistakes and failures, just keep moving. Successful people make a lot of mistakes, but they don’t quit, they keep moving until they arrive to their goal.

  4. Energy and Persistence

    "Energy and persistence conquer all things."

    To have energy and persistence you must have passion, their must be an inner vision that drives you to achieve your goal.

    If you don’t have a clear picture of where you’re going, then you don’t have the energy or persistence to make any noteworthy progress. You must be driven by a picture that is bigger than your current reality.

  5. Prepare

    "By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail."

    It’s better to not have an opportunity and be prepared, than to have an opportunity and not be prepared. Success loves preparation, are you prepared?

    If the perfect opportunity presented itself, would you be ready for it? Spend your days preparing for success, so when your opportunity comes, you will be ready.

  6. Be Diligent
    "Diligence is the mother of good luck."

    Solomon wrote, the diligent shall be made rich. If you want to be lucky, be diligent, the more diligent you are, the luckier you will be. Everyone has the ability to increase their luck seven fold by becoming more diligent.

    Create the habit of being diligent in all you do, and you will be surprised at how lucky you become.

  7. Make an Impression

    "Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing."

    Benjamin Franklin said, “Many people die at twenty five and aren't buried until they are seventy five.” I hope you’re not dead, I hope you haven’t achieved all that you’re going to achieve; I hope your best days are in front of you. I think they are.
Thank you for reading and be sure to pass this article along.

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

9 Free Computer Programs to Save $$

I've used some of these, and they keep getting better.

From DLM:

9 Free Programs That'll Help You Build a Side Business

Posted: 14 Jun 2011 05:17 PM PDT

The traditional view of a small business is changing.

There was a time when building a business involved joint ventures and angel investors. It involved asking the bank for a big business loan to cover overhead costs until you turn a profit. If you had the dream to start a business, you needed to invest a lot of money.

No more – today's business, particularly a web-based business, has very little overhead. Want to start writing for a living? Have a service that you wish to offer? You can build a business presence with free software that has all the features you need to get started.

Here are 9 different software alternatives to “brand name” software that can get your business up and running quickly, with no financial investment:
  • LibreOffice/Google Docs (replaces Microsoft Word/Powerpoint/Excel)
    First, if you need to work with documents, you need software that can handle them. Unfortunately, while Word is the standard, Microsoft has priced it out so that any business looking for the latest software with no money is left in the dust. LibreOffice (formerly OpenOffice) is a powerful, free desktop office suite that can handle virtually all types of documents. With LibreOffice, you won't miss Microsoft Office for a second.

    If you want to go even lighter on your desktop, you can use Google Docs, which lives entirely within your Web browser. Again, you can use these tools to replace Microsoft Office pretty easily, and if you don't need to do any ultra-fancy formatting, they are more than adequate.

  • Gmail (replaces Microsoft Outlook)
    If you have separate business and personal email addresses, the last thing you want is to have to switch back and forth between them. Many people use Microsoft Outlook to handle all of their email addresses, so that they only have one place that they have to look. Instead, try using Gmail. Gmail makes it easy to handle multiple email addresses, and it runs light and quick. So if you need to search through your vast backlog of email, you have the speed and power of Google behind it. Gmail offers a number of other great little tools, but the ability to easily handle multiple email addresses is at the top of the list.

  • Evernote (replaces OneNote)
    Brainstorming is a valuable practice in a business. Whether you are keeping track of your latest ideas or just fleshing out your latest campaign, having a centralized place to store your thoughts is valuable. Microsoft OneNote is a handy piece of software, but it is expensive. Instead, sign up for Evernote, and store your thoughts online. There, you can access them from anywhere so if you are out and about and have that great business idea, you can pull out your phone and get it into Evernote (via an Evernote app or by texting through Twitter) so that you will not forget it. Their excellent notebook/tagging organizing scheme makes finding any of your thoughts as efficient as possible.

  • Spreadsheet/ClearCheckbook (replaces Microsoft Money/Quicken)
    Tracking all of your expenses and income is a hassle, especially if you have separate business expenses. While many choose to use Mint for their finances, I much prefer handling the transaction record keeping myself. Set up a spreadsheet in LibreOffice or Google Docs (Google Docs even has a great template for it), and you can keep track of your finances on your own. Or, you can use a service like ClearCheckbook, which gives you a few more reporting options. Either way, the bloated price of dedicated financial software just isn't worth it.

  • MailChimp (replaces Aweber)
    The power of your business is in your email list. You need subscribers that are interested in hearing from you on a regular basis, so put a sign-up box on your home page and encourage people to sign up to receive updates, free reports, etc. The industry standard seems to be Aweber, which is a very powerful tool, but it comes at a cost. Instead, MailChimp offers free emailing for a large number of subscribers, so you can keep your overhead low while you build your list (their interface is a little more pleasant, too, in my book).

  • Google Voice (replaces a separate phone line)
    If you are dealing with clients, you don't want to be passing out your home phone number or your personal cell number, either. Who has the money to afford a separate business line? Instead, sign up for a free phone number from Google Voice and have it routed to your cell phone or your home phone. Then, you can block numbers, set up special voice mail messages, and do a ton more without having to pay for a separate line or service.

  • Gimp (replaces Adobe Photoshop)
    One of the “necessary evils” of graphic design has been Photoshop. A powerful and useful tool, Photoshop is also incredibly expensive. If you are looking to save money, Gimp is a free tool that works very similarly to Photoshop. The interface is slightly different, but once you use it (and search around for a few tutorials), you can use it for plenty of graphic design and desktop publishing purposes.

  • Scribus (replaces Adobe InDesign)
    Creating a publication, whether it is a magazine or a newsletter, can be a pain without the right software. Again, Adobe claims the standard with InDesign, but Scribus is a free tool that offers much of the same functionality, allowing you to create elegant and beautiful PDFs and printed documents with little hassle (and no cost).

  • Ubuntu (replaces a new computer)
    Finally, if you want to run a business but worry that your old computer can't handle it, you may be looking at getting a new computer. But instead of wasting hundreds of dollars on a new PC or Mac, try installing Ubuntu. Ubuntu is a version of Linux that feels and acts a bit like Windows or Mac OS X, but without the bloat. You may be able to give that old computer new life and save yourself an expensive purchase.
There are plenty of ways you can build a business online, and you do not need to spend an arm and a leg to do it. Use some of these free software alternatives, and you'd be surprised how quickly and easily you can get moving. Now, if you want to build a business on the side, you have nothing standing in your way!

Written on 6/14/2011 by Tom Meitner. Tom is a freelance writer who helps average people reach their goals at The Practical Nerd, and he publishes a free digital magazine devoted to making your life awesome at HustleLife.Photo Credit: Steve Snodgrass

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Monday, June 27, 2011

6 Ways to Cure the "I'm Bored"

Advice from DLM:

Six Ways to Stay Motivated during Hideously Boring Tasks

Posted: 28 May 2011 07:44 AM PDT

Motivation can be tough. Even when you want to do something – like exercising regularly, eating right or keeping a journal – it’s easy to find your enthusiasm slackening off.

But motivation gets really tough when the task at hand is downright boring.
don’t know exactly what your most-dreaded things are, but maybe they look something like this:
  • Repetitive, boring data entry or copy-and-pasting tasks on the computer
  • Housework – laundry, cleaning, cooking, tidying, washing dishes...
  • Sorting and filing papers
  • Delivering leaflets door-to-door
They’re tasks that are repetitive, unchallenging and uncreative. There might be relatively little reward or recognition for completing them. No wonder you put them off, or struggle to focus when you’re tackling them.

The problem is, you can’t simply ditch these tasks. For whatever reason, they need to be done. So here’s how to stay motivated (and sane!) while you’re tackling them:

#1: Remind Yourself WHY
Whatever the task at hand, there’s a why behind it. Sometimes, focusing on the why can help you feel more motivated to do a good job – even though the work itself is boring. Your why might be:
  • An end result that benefits you – e.g. a clean, tidy house that you can relax in
  • An end result that helps someone else – e.g. a happy client
  • Saves you doing more work in the future
  • Doing good in the world – helping charity or a political/religious organization that you support
  • Your paycheck – an important motivator for many of us!
#2: Think How Good You’ll Feel When You’re Done
Chances are, you might have been dreading this tedious task for a while. Maybe you’ve been putting it off for days, weeks or even months. It’s been hanging over you.

Think about how great you’ll feel once you’re done with it. You’ll have it off your mind, you’ll have a sense of accomplishment, and you’ll be able to get on with the rest of your life without dreading this one thing.

The faster you get on with the task, the sooner you can enjoy the benefits of having finished. Yes, I know that’s obvious – but we sometimes need to remind ourselves of it.

#3: Work in Short Bursts
You know what happens when you try to concentrate on something for hours on end ... your attention wanders. Perhaps you manage 20 minutes or so, but then you’re onto Twitter, and you click on a link, and you end up reading web comics. Or you flick the television on and get drawn in.

By working in short bursts, you help yourself stay on task. If you spend 15 minutes cleaning the kitchen or 30 minutes entering data, before taking a break, it’s much easier to focus – you know the end is in sight!

#4: Crank the Music
I find that music distracts me from my more intense, creative work – but it’s ideal for boring tasks. You’ll probably want to choose something with a fast tempo and a bit of energy to it – maybe rock music, or whatever works for you.

If you’re not a music fan, or if you’re working in an environment where loud music isn’t appropriate, try audio books. Try LibriVox for classic books, read by volunteers – they’re free.

#5: Use Your Task as a Breather

This might sound odd – but you can actually use those dull tasks as a welcome break in the day. Sure, two hours of cleaning or data entry might drive you nuts, but spending 15 or 20 minutes doing something unchallenging can give you a chance to unwind, in between more intense tasks.

You’ll find that it helps to pay attention to the times of day when you’re most creative – and the times when you’re feeling a definite slump. Use dull tasks to fill your “slump” times, and keep your most important work for your best hours.

#6: Work With a Partner
You might not always have this option, but when you do, it’s often a great way to improve a dull task. Find someone else to work with. That might mean:
  • Doing the housework with your partner or kids
  • Asking a colleague to help you out at work
  • Getting a friend to come over and clear out the garage with you
...and so on. It’s motivating to have someone else along because you’ll be sharing the work (so it’ll get done faster), you’ll have someone to talk to, and you won’t want to slack off because you’ll be letting them down. Of course, you’ll probably need to return the favor in future...

What hideously boring tasks are festering on your to-do list? What could you do to make them a little more bearable?

Written on 5/28/2011 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: Samael Kreutz

Fort Wayne Site of the Day

This is the last week of Media Monday. The past 6 months I have featured most of the media outlets that have had a website as my Fort Wayne site of the day.

Today's site is also a salute to my former employer for the past 8+ years.

The four radio stations broadcasting from their studios on Lower Huntington Road, are in my opinion, some of the very best to work for. That is why I stayed thru various changes.

When I was hired by Karen Travis in April 2003, I had a background in radio both on the air and in sales, but wasn't doing anything in the business except some free lance commercial voice work.

I have worked on the air at several radio stations in the area, including some that are no longer on the air in the same format. The list, starting in my high school days includes:

WLHI 88.3 FM
WCMX 101.7 FM
WFWR 1090 AM
WMEE 97.3 FM
W??? 106.3 FM
WBTU 93.3 FM
WFWI 92.3 FM
WGL 1250 AM
WAJI 95.1 FM

And I also worked on the air at WBAT 1400 AM in Marion, Indiana; WIOU 1350 AM and WZWZ 93.5 FM both in Kokomo, Indiana; W??? 98.? in Indianapolis, Indiana and WMUZ 103.5 FM in Detroit.

Earlier this month I accepted a position at Cirrus ABS in Fort Wayne, and one day I'll explain more about what that involves.

But as I wrap up the Media Monday, I want to provide you with a "hidden link" to the Summit City Radio Group of stations, that include:

WGL-AM 1250
WGL-FM 102.9
WNHT FM 96.3
WXKE FM 103.9

Just click on the pic and you'll go to the website where you can then select one or more of the 4.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Old "What's His Name"

I admit that there are times when someone will come to me and start a conversation as if they are my best friend and I have no idea of who they are.

It's not a sign of getting old, in my case at least, because I am better at this than I used to be.

If anything, it is now because of being connected to so many people online and face to face.

A few years ago I decided to overcome name recall problem and just deciding to get better was half the battle.

A few tricks like those mentioned in this story from AOM help too:

How to Remember a Person’s Name (And What to Do When You Can’t)

You’re at a business convention chatting with a colleague, when up walks a man, the head of some major department, a guy you know you’ve met before. “Hey there, Sam!” he says as he shakes your hand. Then he waits for you to introduce him to your colleague. The only problem? You cannot for the life of you remember his name. Awkwardness ensues. And a potential business deal evaporates.


The key to being a charismatic gentleman is making others feel important. And what better way to make someone feel important than by remembering their name? Remembering someone’s name tells them that they were special enough to have made a real impression on you. And everybody wants to feel special. Thus there are few better, and easier, ways to build rapport then to answer, “You probably don’t remember my name,” with, “Of course I do!”

And saying someone’s name is a powerful persuasion tool. It makes people feel at ease and comfortable. Legendary success writer and Mr. Charisma himself, Dale Carnegie, once said that “a person’s name is to him or her the sweetest and most important sound in any language.”

But if you’re like me, remembering names isn’t your strong suit. I can remember faces and I can remember names, but I often have trouble putting the two together.

There’s actually a perfectly good reason for this common human foible.

Our brains process faces differently than other bits of information, including names. A study done in 1971 showed that we have a much easier time recalling faces than we do abstract ideas like letters, numbers, and yes, even names.

But fear not, aspiring gentleman. With a little bit of savvy and know-how, you can overcome this shortcoming and become a master at remembering names. You can be the man who walks into a party and works the room like a pro.

Today we’ll discuss some of the tried and true methods for remembering people’s names, throw in some ways to take advantage of new technology to aid in this process, and end by outlining how to deal with a situation where your best intentions fail and someone’s name slips your mind.

How to Remember a Person’s Name

Commit to listening and remembering. Most of us are lousy listeners. In social situations, we fall prey to conversational narcissism and are always waiting for a moment we can jump in and add our two cents. If you’re concentrating on what you’re about to say when someone introduces themselves, their name will go in one ear and out the other just like that. If you aren’t intently tuned in during that tiny window, the opportunity to learn their name passes in mere seconds and you’re sunk.

Before going into any social situation where you’ll be meeting new people, commit yourself to being as attentive as possible during introductions. Just having that extra mental focus can go a long way in helping you remember names.

Repeat early, repeat often. When you first meet someone, repeat their name as soon as you learn it. That will help sear the person’s name into your memory. Say something like, “Hi Jill, nice to meet you!” or “Pleasure to meet you, Jill.”

After that initial repeat, use the person’s name as much as you can throughout the conversation without coming off as a cheesy used car salesman. “Where are you from, Jill?” “How’s the weather in Toledo this time of year, Jill?” “How do you know the bride and groom, Jill?” You get the idea. Again, be natural and don’t over do it.

To really burn the name into that noggin of yours, make sure to end your conversation by repeating the person’s name one final time. “Great meeting you, Jill. I hope we can stay in touch.”

Not only does this technique help you remember someone’s name, it also makes you seem charming. As we mentioned, people love the sound of their own name.

Have them spell it out. Hearing a person spell their name can help you remember it, especially if it’s an unusual name. If it’s a common name, but has different spelling variations, ask the person which variation he or she uses. For example, if a person’s name is Bryan, you can ask, “So is that Bryan with a y or Brian with an i? He answers, “It’s Bryan with a y.” Now whenever you see that person, you can think, “That’s Bryan with a y.”

Use a mnemonic device. If someone has an especially unusual or a foreign name, even having them spell it out won’t help much. In that case, try to break their name up into real words that sound like the syllables in their name. Katie Couric famously revealed that she remembered how to pronounce the name of the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, by thinking, “I’m a dinner jacket.” This technique is highly effective. After reading Couric’s comment, I have never forgotten his name or how to say it.

Visualize the person’s name on their forehead. As soon as you hear the person’s name, visualize their name stamped in big block letters across their forehead. Keep that mental picture on their forehead the entire time that person is in your presence.

Associate the person’s name with an easy to remember picture. After hearing a person’s name, make it as tangible as possible to you by associating their name with a picture. Be as creative as you want with this. There’s no wrong or right way to do it. The association just needs to be meaningful to you. For example, if a person’s name is Leif Bernstein you might imagine Papa Bernstein Bear holding a big leaf.

Associate the image that represents the person’s name to an outstanding facial feature on the person. Again, most people can remember faces and names, they just have trouble remembering the two together. Here’s how to fix that. Take that visual representation you made of the person’s name and associate it with an outstanding physical feature that the person has.

Let’s use our example of Leif Bernstein. Our picture for his name was Papa Bernstein Bear holding a big leaf. Now we need to associate that image with a feature of Mr. Bernstein. Let’s say Bernstein has big ears. You can imagine Papa Bernstein Bear with huge Ross Perot ears while holding a leaf. Your association can be different–just use whatever works for you.

Takes notes. If you’re a salesman or in another profession that involves the frequent and vital making of new contacts, be sure to carry a pocket notebook with you. After meeting someone new, write down his or her name in your notebook along with some notes about who they are and what they do. Before a meeting where you may see them again, take a moment to review your notes.

Practice, practice, practice. Remembering names is a skill that takes practice to develop, so put yourself in situations where you’ll have to learn new names. Use these techniques as much as you can.

Tech Tools to Help You Remember Names

In addition to using mnemonic devices, there are several online tools you can use to help remember the names of people you’ve met. These are especially handy if you haven’t seen the person in awhile and you know you’re going to be seeing them at an event and want to make sure you can put a name with a face.

Facebook. Facebook puts a picture of the person right next to their name. How easy is that? I plan on reviewing Facebook before I go to my 10 year high school reunion this summer. I don’t want to have long-lost high school friends come and give me a hug while I say, “Hey you! It’s really you!”

Twitter. Yeah, I Twitter. [Insert obligatory remark about how Twitter isn't manly] I’ve found it to be a useful networking and name remembering tool. When I meet a new person at an event, I’ll often check to see if they have a Twitter account. If they do, I’ll follow them. People usually have their name (or some variation of it) as their username and a picture of themselves as their Twitter profile pic. Anytime that person tweets something, I see their name and face. Bam. Name review.

Rapportive. Rapportive is an awesome little browser plugin for gmail. Rapportive shows you a detailed description of the person that you’re having an email conversation with. If available, Rapportive will show a picture of the person. This has come in handy when I’ve met someone in person briefly, but then engaged in email conversations with them later. Every time I open an email from them, I see their bright shiny face. Name with face burned into brain.

What to Do When You Forget a Name

No matter how hard you try, you’re bound to forget a person’s name every now and then. If you do, just politely and apologetically say, “I’m terribly sorry, but I’ve forgotten your name. What is it again?” Simple. Ask them as soon as you realize you’ve forgotten their name. The more time you spend together, the more offended they’ll be when they realize you don’t know their name.

But having to ask for someone’s name again can make you look bad. I mean, you’re basically telling the person, “You weren’t important enough for me to remember you.” If your memory fails you, and hey, we’ve all been there, here’s how to deal with it as smoothly as possible in several different situations.

When you part ways.

If you realize as you part ways with someone that you can’t remember their name, ask if they have a business or calling card you can take home with you. This is great, because not only do you now know their name without having to ask again, you’ll always have something you can take out and review at home.

When you see someone you’ve met before.

If you encounter somebody you know you’ve met before, but you can’t put a name with their face, don’t guess their name if you’re not sure. For some reason, having someone say your name wrong always feels more offensive and noticeable than simply being asked for your name again.

So if you can’t remember someone’s name, you have a couple of options. The first is a little trick I’ve used several times with success.

You simply ask the person, “Excuse me, what was your name again?”

The person will likely respond with their first name.

You then respond with a charming laugh and a smile, and say, “Oh no, I met your last name.”

People seem to be more forgiving of someone forgetting their last name–not so much with first names. With this technique you’ll get the person’s first name without them knowing you had forgotten it. And if you forgot their last name, now you have that too.

Of course this little trick can backfire if they respond by asking, “My first or last name?”

If you’re not a gambling man, you can simply walk up, stick out your hand, and say your name. “Brett. We met at the Christmas party last year.” They’ll likely respond in kind by saying their name. Chances are, he or she had forgotten your name too! By taking the initiative, you remove their burden of anxiety as well. Very gentlemanly.

When you’re making introductions.

What if you’re standing with a friend, and someone walks up and waits for you to introduce them, but you can’t remember their name? Say to the person, “Have you met my friend, Mike?” The person will then hopefully say to Mike, “No I haven’t. Nice to meet you. I’m Luke.”

Alright. Now it’s your turn. What tricks do you use to remember people’s names? Share them with us in the comments.

Fort Wayne Site of the Day

Click on Pic