Explore the World!

Keri Smith’s book, How to Be an Explorer of the World: Portable Life Museum, is a great tool for stimulating creativity through guided exercises that are immediately accessible, highly interactive, and non-threatening for those of us who are artistically or creatively challenged.  This is also a good stress-reduction tool for busy professionals.  See your world from new perspectives, experience the beauty around you and have fun!

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Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time by Brian Tracy

If all of life’s commitments and expectations are overwhelming, this book may help.  It is filled with simple and practical tips for managing your time and tasks.  The book begins on an upbeat note:

This is a wonderful time to be alive. There have never been more possibilities and opportunities for you to achieve more of your goals than exist today. (p.1)

The author then makes a case for being selective:

As perhaps never before in human history, you are actually drowning in options. In fact, there are so many good things that you can do that your ability to decide among them may be the critical determinant of what you accomplish in life. If you are like most people today, you are overwhelmed with too much to do and too little time. As you struggle to get caught up, new tasks and responsibilities just keep rolling in, like the waves of the ocean.

For this reason, and perhaps more than ever before, your ability to select your most important task at each moment, and then to get started on that task and to get it done both quickly and well, will probably have more of an impact on your success than any other quality or skill you can develop.

The frogs are a metaphor for the tasks that may overwhelm us:

Mark Twain once said that if the first thing you do each morning is to eat a live frog, you can go through the day with the satisfaction of knowing that that is probably the worst thing that is going to happen to you all day long. Your “frog” is your biggest, most important task, the one you are most likely to procrastinate on if you don’t do something about it. It is also the one task that can have the greatest positive impact on your life and results at the moment. The first rule of frog eating is this: If you have to eat two frogs, eat the ugliest one first. (p.2)

Each chapter provides practical suggestions such as using the Pareto Principle (80/20 rule), focusing on key result areas, identifying key constraints and getting out of the technological time sinks.  Applying just one or two strategies can lead to greater productivity, focus, and calm in the midst of an unmanageable workload.  This is one of the best time management books I’ve come across as it presents strategies that can be immediately applied to any busy professional’s life and for those of us who are so busy we cannot spare the time to read a book, take it one chapter at a time, focusing only on those strategies that speak directly to your situation.

miCal iPad App is my new best friend!

The miCal program and attendant task manager app (in-app purchase) represent the seamless integration of two major productivity functions — calendaring and task management.  

The clean, easy-to-use interface belies the complexity and capabilities of this app.  It is a truly elegant way to manage your schedule and to-do lists.  Some of the features that have improved my productivity include:

  • A wide array of settings can be customized to facilitate quick additions to a calendar or task list.
  • Tasks with due dates can be converted to calendar events with one touch.
  • A dashboard that can display selected tasks, time, weather data, present month thumbnail.
  • Synchronization with other calendars, with color-coding used to indicate origin of the synced events.

These are only a small subset of miCal’s features – check out the complete description at the iTunes app store.

De-stress with the soothing sounds of Vibrational Sound Healing by Dr. Andrew Weil & Kimba Arem

I cannot attribute any healing to this music, but it does help quiet my oft-busy and cluttered mind.    I find it helpful to start and end my work day with this music – it facilitates focused thought at the beginning of a busy day and then eases me out of the rat race, into a peaceful and relaxed state.

Loving the Livescribe Echo Smartpen!

I have been recommending the Livescribe Smartpen to faculty and students for years; now that I am going back to school for a doctoral degree, it only made sense that I purchase one for myself.  I purchased the second generation of this device — the Echo Smartpen — and the Flip Notepad.  This is a handy little notepad that measures 3.2 x 1.2 x 5.2 inches; the portability means increased usage of the pen as it fits easily into my purse or pocket.

There are so many uses for the Smartpen – check them out and hear testimonials at the company’s website.  I especially like the ability to transfer handwritten notes to my computer, iPad, and the cloud (MyLiveScribe).  The ability to easily and quickly email notes to others is such a timesaver!

I am looking forward to using the audio recording for classes, meetings and conferences.  While I still use my iPad note-taking apps, the Echo Smartpen is the tool of choice when you need to capture and store audio and handwritten notes into a single file that can be shared easily in multiple formats. Since one format is pdf, you can easily open it in an iPad note-taking app if further annotation is needed.

I named my device Penny, though my hubby suggested Penn and Teller which is a more apt name!