Get a life!

Is there anything you do that wastes so much of your time that you don’t have time to do other things that are more useful, things like having more fun or getting more work done?

I have a friend who spends — wait for it — at least five hours a day dealing with her emails. And her job does not require her to be fully available on email. Not at all.

Five hours a day is a huge chunk of time. She says it’s because she gets about 200 emails a day. But this is counting spam, which is very quickly dispatched, and a lot — a lot — of newsletters she subscribes to.

She spends so much time on her emails that she watches hardly any TV, hardly ever reads a book, eats her meals while she’s emailing and she doesn’t even have time to clean her own house — she has to pay someone to do it. So her email habit is eating up her money as well as time!

Why doesn’t she do something about it, you may well ask. And I did. Why don’t you file the newsletters into a folder and read them when you have time? Or better still, set up your email system to file them away automatically? ‘Well, because then I’d never read them!’ So she sits and reads them as they come in. This is NOT a smart use of time. And yet, she’s a smart lady, I wouldn’t want you to think otherwise.

Plus, if she wouldn’t bother reading them if she filed them away, they couldn’t be all that important, could they? The solution is obvious except to her: Unsubscribe to the lot of them. Of course, I suggested that, too, but it seems that although she seldom gets any good ideas or learns anything much from them, she’s afraid she might miss out on something!

Granted, she’s an extreme case but I have a suspicion that she isn’t the only person who does things in an over-the-top way that prevents them from having what the rest of us might call ‘a life’.

So here’s my Call to Action: Figure out what wastes a lot of your time, and cut it out or cut it down.


Start the New Year off Right

Okay, you’re probably back at work now and struggling to get back into the swing of it. Here are three ideas to make sure you swing rightly.

My parents had a book by Dale Carnegie called How to Win Friends and Influence People.  I read it and it was a great book. One of the things he said in it was: ‘There is no sweeter sound to a person’s ear than the sound of his own name.’

That’s the first way to start the New Year off right: Use people’s names (if you don’t already). It encourages them and builds good working relationships.

The Positivity Principle is the second way to start the New Year off right. Not only are people with a positive approach happier, healthier and live longer lives than gloomy people, but they are also more popular — most people would rather hang out with a positive person than an old party pooper. A positive approach makes your day and everyone else’s that much brighter.

The Boomerang Principle is the third way to start the New Year off right. You know that if you smile at someone, they smile back. Try giving a compliment to someone and watch what happens. No, you’re not fishing for a compliment yourself, although they’ll be more willing to compliment you. The point is, you’re building positive working relationships.

So there you have three quick and easy things to do to start the New Year off right!


How to make your New Year’s Resolution Succeed

Most New Year’s Resolutions go the way of the Dodo. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make one, though. When you schlumph along doing the same old, same old, you stagnate, which surely isn’t what you want. That just grinds you into a rut and the only difference between a rut and a grave is the dimensions (borrowed from Ellen Glasgow, that one).

So, to keep improving, commit to making some positive changes. Then, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said: Once you make a decision, the Universe conspires to make it happen.

Make your resolution powerful by writing it down. Research consistently shows that people who write down their goals are far more likely to achieve them that people who just think about what they’d like to achieve.

Write your resolution down in clear words and put it where you’ll see it. Go ahead — Stick it on the bathroom mirror or put it on your bedside table where you can see it before you fall asleep and when you wake up. The more you see it, the more it imbeds itself into your subconscious, which makes it easier for the Universe to conspire to help you make it happen. Plus, when events conspire against you, as they do, having your goal in sight means you won’t lose sight of it.

Make your resolution realistic. Not too easy or you won’t bother and not too hard so you don’t give up before you begin. Go for something you can achieve with a bit of effort. Make sure you have enough background information and knowledge to succeed at it and that you’re willing to pay the price to carry it out.


Make your resolution a doing resolution, not a being resolution. In other words, don’t resolve to be trim, taut and terrific but resolve to lift weights three times a week and go for a 40-minute walk every day before work. Then stick to your commitment.

Warning: You may run into sabotage from yourself or from your loved ones.

We’ve already agreed that you won’t make your resolution so easy you do it effortlessly and automatically. Building a new habit takes time and effort. Remind yourself of why you set your goal in the first place. Let someone you know and respect who has already achieved it be your inspiration. Turn your self-talk into your biggest motivator and make sure it’s encouraging and supportive. Messed up one day? One week? Don’t worry. Hop back into your newly-forming-but-still-fragile habits. Motivation gets you started. Habits keep you going. So let me say it again: Stick to your commitment.

When it’s others who seem determined to put you back in your box, remember that it’s much easier for them when you’re predictable. Your new habits might unbalance what they’ve come to expect and feel comfortable with. So don’t make them too uncomfortable by too big a change. You might want to tell them what you’re doing and why so lessen their resistance and maybe even garner their support. And make sure your resolution doesn’t require them to make any accommodations, adjustments or changes.

There you have it: The low-down on how to make your New Year’s Resolution succeed. Over to you — Go for it!