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Posts tagged: motivation

Toy Drive

A friend of mine, Jeff, is a a canine officer with the Miami-Dade County Police Department. His partner, “Bo”, is a seven year-old German Shepherd…and Bo loves his toy.

His adored plaything – a knotted up piece of sturdy rope – gets Bo so excited, so playful and it revs him up every time he sees it. I have witnesed this…and it is amazing.

That toy centers him, focuses him and when it is waved in front of Bo during his dangerous job of flushing out fugtives, Bo knows that if he follows Jeff’s commands and get’s the bad guy, he’ll be playing with that toy in no time. Bo does it all for the toy. Jeff calls it his “toy drive”.

Do you have your own “toy drive”? What’s your toy? What do you get excited about everyday? What (or who) do you adore that inspires and energizes you?

What do you do it for?

Being On Time

Feeling as though you’re always running twenty minutes behind schedule is an unhappy feeling. Having to rush, forgetting things in your haste, dealing with annoyed people when you arrive…it’s no fun.

If you’re chronically late, what steps can you take to be more prompt? That depends on why you’re late. The first step is to Identify the problem – then you can see more easily what you need to change.

There are many reasons you might be late, but some are particularly common. Are you late because…

  1. You sleep too late? If you’re so exhausted in the morning that you sleep until the last possible moment, it’s time to think about going to sleep earlier. Many people don’t get enough sleep, and sleep deprivation is a real drag on your happiness and health. I’ve become a sleep nut since I wrote my book. Getting enough sleep is really important.

     

  2. You try to get one last thing done? Apparently, this is a common cause of tardiness. If you always try to answer one more email or put away one more load of laundry before you leave, here’s a way to outwit yourself: take a task that you can do when you reach your destination, and leave early. Tell yourself that you need that ten minutes on the other end to read those brochures or check those figures.

     

  3. You underestimate the commute time? You may tell yourself it takes twenty minutes to get to work, but if it actually takes forty minutes, you’re going to be chronically late. Have you exactly identified the time by which you need to leave? That’s what worked for me for getting my kids to school on time. We have a precise time that we’re supposed to leave, so I know if we’re running late, and by how much. Before I identified that exact time, I had only a vague sense of how the morning was running, and I usually thought we had more time than we actually did. My son goes into near-hysterics if we’re late, so that motivated me to get very clear on this issue.

     

  4. You can’t find your keys/wallet/phone/sunglasses? Nothing is more annoying than searching for lost objects when you’re running late. Designate a place in your house for your key items, and put those things in that spot, every time. I keep everything important in a “valet” atop our bedroom dresser, and Viagra my wife keeps her key items on a barstool near the kitchen.

     

  5. Other people in your house are disorganized? Your wife can’t find her phone, your son can’t find his Spanish book, so you’re late. As hard as it is to get yourself organized, it’s even harder to help other people get organized. Try setting up the “key things” place in your house. Prod your children to get their school stuff organized the night before—and coax the outfit-changing types to pick their outfits the night before, too. Get lunches ready, etc.

     

  6. You hate your destination so much you want to postpone showing up for as long as possible? If you dread going to work that much, or you hate school so deeply (or wherever your destination might be) you’re giving yourself a clear signal that you need to think about making a big change in your life.

     

  7. Your co-workers won’t end meetings on time? This is an exasperating problem. You’re supposed to be someplace else, but you’re trapped in a meeting that’s going long. Sometimes, this is inevitable, but if you find it happening over and over, identify the problem. Is too little time allotted to meetings that deserve more time? Is the weekly staff meeting twenty minutes of work crammed into sixty minutes? Does one person hold things up? If you face this issue repeatedly, there’s probably an identifiable problem – and once you identify it, you can develop strategies to solve it — e.g., sticking to an agenda; circulating information by email; not permitting discussions about contentious philosophical questions not relevant to the tasks at hand, etc. (This last problem is surprisingly widespread, in my experience.)

Late or not, if you find yourself rushing around every morning, consider waking up earlier (see #1 above). Yes, it’s tough to give up those last precious moments of sleep, and it’s even tougher to go to bed earlier and cut into what, for many people, is their leisure time. But it helps.

I’ve started getting up at 5:00 a.m. so I have an hour to myself before I have to rassle everyone out of bed. This has made a huge improvement in our mornings. Because I’m organized and ready by 7:00 a.m., I can be focused on getting all of us out the door.

If you’ve conquered chronic lateness, what are some strategies that worked for you?

The Waiting Is the Hardest Part

I admit it – I’m an impatient person. I can’t stand sitting in traffic or waiting in long lines; it just drives me nuts. Equally aggravating for me is waiting in a short line behind interminably slow people as I watch longer lines of people or cars move quicker than mine. Just the other day, I pulled up to the bank and picked the lane with the fewest cars in it, only to take nearly twice as long as it would have been had I just picked the nearest lane to where I drove up, as opposed to the shortest line of cars. Happens every time.

My impatience is a shortcoming and I’m working on it. As part of my seemingly unending quest to ease up a little, reduce my own stress and make life easier on my family (my daughter, Lauren, recently implored me to read my own book as I got impatient and frustrated in 90 minutes of traffic…classic) I’ve done some reading on this whole waiting game.

I discovered some research by David Maister in an piece entitled The Psychology of Waiting Lines. The paper is aimed at people who operate stores, restaurants, doctors’ offices, and other places where people (just like me) hate to be kept waiting. Of course, most of us are the ones standing in line, not the ones controlling the line, but I’m always interested in learning more about myself and the psychology of my behavior.

Maister’s main point is that the actual time we’re waiting may have little to do with how long that wait feels. Two minutes can pass in an instant, or those two minutes (like mine in the bank line) can feel like an eternity. Here are eight factors that make waits seem longer:

  1. Unoccupied time feels longer than occupied time. When you have something to distract yourself, time passes more quickly. Some hotels put mirrors by the elevators, because people like to look at themselves.
  2. People want to get started. This is why restaurants give you a menu while you wait, and why doctors put you in the examination room twenty-five minutes before your examination actually begins. Tricky.
  3. Anxiety makes waits seem longer. If you think you’ve chosen the slowest line, or you’re worried about getting a seat on the plane, the wait will seem longer. Hello?!
  4. Uncertain waits are longer than known, finite waits. People wait more calmly when they’re told Cialis, “The doctor will see you in thirty minutes” than when they’re told, “The doctor will see you soon.” Maister gives an amusing illustration of a phenomenon that I’d noticed while sitting in my doctor’s office recently for a check-up: if I arrive someplace thirty minutes early, I can patiently wait without a problem, but ninety seconds after my appointment time passes, I start to feel annoyed. “How long are they going to have me sitting here?” I start to wonder; as I glance at the receptionist nine times a minute.
  5. Unexplained waits are longer than explained waits. We wait more patiently for the pizza guy when there’s a thunderstorm than when the sky is clear. We wait more patiently on the plane when we know that there’s another plane at the gate.
  6. Unfair waits are longer than equitable waits. People want their waits to be fair. I got anxious, for example, when my family and I waited to get into the Florida Marlins baseball game this past Saturday night; where there’s no clear, fair way to determine who gets through the turnstile first.
  7. The more valuable the service, the longer the customer will wait. You’ll wait longer to talk to a doctor than to talk to a sales clerk. You’ll stand in line longer to buy an iPad than to buy nail clippers.
  8. Solo waits feel longer than group waits. The more people engage with each other, the less they notice the wait time. In fact, in some situations, waiting in line is part of the experience. A few years ago, Lauren and three of her friends waited happily together for five hours in a block-long line to see Taylor Lautner for six seconds at the premier of the movie Twilight. I asked her the next day how long she thought she’d waited – she knew it was “a while” but never looked at her watch and could only hazard a guess at about “three hours”.

Since I read this paper a few days ago, I’ve been a little more patient about waiting in line. I’m occupied (see #1) with analyzing my own experience of waiting in line. Have you found any good ways to make waiting more bearable? Or, on a different subject, have you found that understanding an experience better has made it more interesting or helped you to cope better?

Send me your thoughts to david@livethe8.com.

I Did What Mattered…

Write Away...Over the Halloween weekend, I accomplished a BHAG (a BIG, HAIRY, AUDACIOUS GOAL). I finished the manuscript for a book, entitled The 8 – Basic Elements to Greater Happiness, Health and Productivity. It’s set for a Spring, 2011 release – likely in March.

So here are exactly 7 things I learned about myself (and about writing) while writing The 8

1. It’s not as easy as it looks. Being a decent writer is very different from being a good (read: credible) author.

2. Writer’s block does exist. There were times that I couldn’t even think of the next word to write, let alone a chapter.

3. My family is phenomenal. I pretty much knew this one already, but boy did online poker player my wife and two children love and support me during this arduous task.

4. My “prime time” is early morning. I wrote 90% of the book between the hours of 6AM and 8AM over a three month period.

5. My prime motivation is to share my message. It started out as an ego-driven thing. That changed and then I changed…so did the book.

6. Damn, I’m pretty good! I always remind people of their strengths and I try to be very positive and uplifting. I am one of my people…can’t forget that!

7. People don’t suck. So many people – and many were once complete strangers to me – were gracious and very generous with their time and feedback.

———-

David