Need More Clarity, Creativity and Focus?

woman writing in journalI am finding this time of the year, end of summer leading into fall, particularly overwhelming. The year is more than half over (can that possibly be?) and my intentions and goals are way behind where I wanted them to be. There are multiple events and of course the usual fall holiday anticipations to consider and prepare for. What about you?

If you ever experience times of overwhelm – when you have so many things you would like to accomplish in any/all areas of life – consider this routine.  I found an article, “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity” which provides a way to both focus and to boost creativity.

The author Benjamin Hardy reminds us of Napoleon Hill’s words, “Your subconscious mind works continuously, while you are awake, and while you sleep.”  If that is the reality, it may be a really good idea to focus that work for our benefit.  How does that work? Hardy again quotes Hill: “The subconscious mind will translate into its physical equivalent, by the most direct and practical method available.”

Sounds like a good idea to me, then, to harness that power. Part of the routine described in the article has to do with using a few minutes before you go to bed and within 10 or so minutes of waking up to do the suggested activities.  For many of us, checking our electronic devices fill that space both before bed and first thing in the morning.  As we do that, we are focusing on input into our thoughts and consciousness.  This approach instead puts our attention to output from our subconscious to our conscious in a targeted way. It expands our creativity.

Try This Routine

To summarize the two parts of the routine, Hardy suggests we:

  1. “Take a few moments before you go to bed to meditate on and write down the things you’re trying to accomplish. Ask yourself loads of questions related to that thing….make some ‘requests.’ Write those questions and thoughts down on paper. The more specific the questions, the more clear will be your answers.
  2. “Now, first thing in the morning, when your creative brain is most attuned, after its subconscious workout while you slept, start writing down whatever comes to mind about those things.”

You can include any areas of your life – relationships, work, life balance, or anything else you want to address. Perhaps start with one topic. This approach is a routine and also a skill to develop and in which to become proficient. As with all routines or habits, it is a good idea to commit to practicing it for a minimum of 21 days in order to assess its effectiveness for you. I would love to hear how this works for you! 

For more details, you can read the entire article here:  “This 10-Minute Routine Will Increase Your Clarity and Creativity”

And you can see the books Benjamin Hardy has written here: Books by Benjamin Hardy, PhD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Does Perfection Slow Down Accomplishment?

The Power of QuestionsAs I look at the early framework of my business plans for the 3rd quarter of the year, it looks exciting. When I look at the individual projects on that list and what it will take to get them done in a high quality way (perfection), I am overwhelmed! Am I crazy to think I can really do all of that and do it well, along with the rest of my life? Is accomplishment of all this possible?

Then the gift came. A Facebook friend and mentor posted a link to an article: “It’s Never Going to Be Perfect, So Just Get It Done” by Tim Herrera. I read it and feel more hopeful and confident that with this approach I can accomplish a great deal.

Of course, it’s one thing to read an article and quite another to incorporate what you read into daily thoughts and actions. This article provided some clear concepts that I can remember (probably assisted by posting them by my desk as reminders).

Tools That Move Us Forward

Herrera writes of the M.F.D. – Mostly Fine Decision which he describes as the “minimum outcome you’re willing to accept.” He notes that the approach assists us with making decisions and getting things done – and that people who practice this are generally more satisfied with their accomplishments.

Sounds appealing to me! However, how does that happen? Thankfully Herrara offers two strategies to help: the “magic of micro-progress” and “reframe how you think about things you have to do”:

“First, embrace the magic of micro-progress: Rather than looking at tasks, projects or decisions as items that must be completed, slice them into the smallest possible units of progress, then knock them out one at a time. …

“Second, reframe the way you think about the things you have to do. Focus far less on the end result, and far more on the process — this allows you to be aware of the progress you’re making, rather than obsessing over the end result of that progress.”

Although there’s still a thread of perfectionism in me, I am more and more convinced that this kind of approach is a good one. One verification of this came when I realized how quickly I consume articles, books, training, and other things. I am not looking for every detail to be exquisite – I want the main points, I want clarity, I want to be able to follow the thoughts and I want to be able to implement it if that is appropriate.

As I tack up the reminders (M.F.D., Micro-Progress, Focus on the Process More Than the End Result) near my desk, I note that this can work only if I have done the detailed planning first. I need to make sure I have goals broken down into projects into tasks, etc., for this to work. So I will tackle that first for my current top priorities.

I invite you to check out the entire article and see if the approach will work for you and your life!

 

I Celebrate Books for Opening Vistas and Expanding My World

Reading Journal Cover

Get your Reading Journal here: http://carolbrusegar.com/Reading Journal for Book Lovers

I LOVE to read! Do you? Reading has always been a favorite pastime for me. As a child, I attended a rural one-room school and we had one large bookcase of books to read. What I remember best is reading each of the biographies – a series of books with orange covers. The stories of people in different situations and historical periods fascinated me. We also used the library in our nearby small town and I recall checking out books including Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and earlier the Flicka, Ricka and Dicka series. Do any of those ring a bell with you?

As I moved into high school and even more so in college and young adulthood, I read non-fiction almost exclusively. Books about current events, theology and history primarily. My interests went in those directions because I moved from living in small town/rural in southern Wisconsin into inner city communities in Chicago and Minneapolis – in the mid-1960s and beyond. With the great societal change occurring during those years, there was so much to learn about. My deep involvement in an inner city church and related social justice efforts led me to reading theology books. It wasn’t until about fifteen years ago that I began regularly reading fiction, especially historical fiction, along with an expanded variety of nonfiction books. I wish that I had written down what books I read over the years, but I didn’t. I do know that the reading I did shaped my understanding and the directions I went in my life in dramatic ways.

Have you kept lists? What kind of patterns, if any, do you see in your reading habits over the years? Can you see significance in those patterns?

Since finding Goodreads.com a few years ago, I have used it as an easy tool for recording the books I am reading. Using their Reading Challenge to set a goal for number of books I will read in a year has been both fun and motivating. Having access to reviews, ratings, suggestions a way to keep track of books I want to read is wonderful.

I still had a desire for a book in my hands where I can record other things. I wanted to identify books both that I have read and want to read by genre. And I wished to have in one volume notes, quotes and reflections on some books I especially value. This could be a reference and a treasure for me in the future.

So I designed a reading journal that met those criteria! If you see a value in such a tool and treasure, I invite you to check out my newly published Reading Journal – For Book Lovers Who Take Their Reading Seriously.
The link will take you to Amazon.com where you can read more and preview the journal.  It is a handy, portable 6″ x 9″ size.Reading Journal Cover

Happy Reading!!

How About a Midyear Check-in?

Check-inIf you are anything like me, you are amazed to realize that the midpoint of the year is upon us. It’s a great time to do a check-in with ourselves. It can be about personal goals and situations, family or groups in which you are involved, work, business or any other area of life. As the days, weeks and months seem to whiz past us – or we whiz through time on a roller coaster – a milestone like mid-point of the year can be a good reason to assess and refocus.

(If you are reading this at another point of the year, you will probably see that similar questions can be used at any point when you want to assess and regroup.)

I suggest a few simple questions to get started. Here they are:

What do you consider your accomplishments and high points of the first half of the year?
What attitudes, habits or practices helped those things happen?
What held you back from being at a different point at mid-year in each of the areas you are reviewing?
What needs to change so those things don’t hold you back in the second half of the year?
What are your major goals for the next six months? (or three months)
What do you need to do to make them happen?
What additional resources (of any kind) do you need?
When will you do your next check-in?

I am finding this very helpful. I am ending the first half of the year with a very productive last month. By actually writing down what contributed to that will help me build in things to maintain and accelerate my momentum. Identifying what held me back earlier in the year allows me to make sure those same things don’t sabotage me in the coming months.

Although it is easier to read through questions like this, think of some responses and move on, the impact will be so much greater if we write down answers. The resulting document can be kept where it is a visible reminder on those days and even weeks when life takes us off course.
May your second half of the year be enhanced by your thoughtful assessment and planning!

The link below will take you to a free PDF of the questions – a worksheet you can use for your check-in.

Midyear Check-in

Day Trips: Including Getaways and Mini-Vacations in Your Plans

Day TripsDay trips are often scheduled into a vacation week in a distant location – you spend one day at a location away from your primary base for the week. But day trips can be a year-round adventure right from our homes. We often have more time for them during summer when there aren’t as many regular activities scheduled on weekends. In fact, they can augment summer vacations, or even substitute for them when there are multiple people’s schedules to accommodate.

Strategically planned and scheduled day trips can provide many of the benefits of vacation: change of scenery, breaking the routine, exploring something totally new, trying out different foods or activities, and more. They also are more affordable than vacations that require greater transportation costs and hotel or motel stays.

Day trips provide a way to try out something new without committing too much time or money. For example, one person may be excited about a seven-day tour of Civil War monuments and battle fields that is available in a few months. Another person may have never visited anything of that kind and is very hesitant. A day trip to a nearby battle sight or cemetery would be a great way to assess if a seven-day tour would be enjoyable to both parties.

Regardless of your stage in life or family configuration, there are day trip options. In many cities and towns, churches, organizations for seniors, and other groups provide day trips for older people. They do all the planning and provide the bus or van transportation for a reasonable charge. It’s a great way to spend time with a friend or two and you can meet and even develop ongoing relationships with other people.

Research, Lists and Notes

Most people drive their own cars and make their own plans for each day trip. Have you ever had the impulse to get out of the house for the day (or an overnight) and then been at a loss as to what to do or where to go? You may have ended up just staying home being bored. What if you had a list of possible things to do at your fingertips from which you could choose a perfect activity or destination for that day?

Take some time to research types of day trips you would enjoy and create an ongoing list of specific destinations and activities. You can continually expand it as you discover more possibilities. This will make it much more likely that you will both take more spontaneous trips and schedule others in advance.

To get you started, here are some categories of places to go and things to do on a day trip:

Outdoor Activities and Exploration – scenic locations of all kinds, activities like fishing, horseback riding
Historic and Cultural Destinations – explore the history of your area
Museums, Zoos and Aquariums
Shopping – flea markets, antique malls, vineyards with winetasting, Amish or International Markets
Using Different Modes of Transportation – take a train ride, boat cruise, hot air balloon ride
Scheduled Events – sports, outdoor fairs, concerts

Having a designated notebook or planner to collect information and make plans can make it more likely that you will take more trips for relaxation, enjoyment and learning. It can also be fun to journal about your experiences

Perhaps you would be interested in my Planner & Journal for Day Trips: Getaways and Mini-Vacations which is available on Amazon.com as a 8×10” paperback.Cover of Planner & Journal

How About Bucket Lists for Summer?

Summer Bucket List
It’s summer!  Despite the view as we enter June that we have a long summer laying out before us, full of potential, we all know how quickly summer passes.  Before we realize it, it will time for school to resume and the regular schedule of activities with organizations in which we participate to be back in full swing. Don’t let the summer get away from you! I encourage you to consider create one or more Bucket Lists in your household that include things you really want to have done by the end of summer. You can have individual family members write lists and create a family list as well. These are the basis of making plans that will make this a great summer full of meaningful memories for all.

Although Bucket Lists are generally seen as a way to keep track of things we would like to do before the end of our lives and hopefully to move us toward actually doing them, they can be used for shorter time frames to help you prioritize what’s most important and make plans. Here’s a particular kind of Bucket List that I recommend: A 3-Part Bucket List.

A 3-part Bucket List includes:  1) “Things I Want to Learn About” 2) “Things I Want to Learn to Do” 3) “Things I Want to Do.” You may find some overlap between them; that’s okay.

The “learn about” list will probably have things about which you’ve been curious: the history of your town or neighborhood, your ancestors and family history, the newest knowledge about outer space, etc.

The “learn to do” list might include things like excel at new swimming strokes, type at a rate of at least 40 words per minute, write short stories, expand art techniques, play an instrument, take better photos, etc.

The “do” list can include simple things like “read one book per week”, “have a home vegetable garden”, explore at least one new area of town each month, etc.

Taking Next Steps

Of course, once all the lists are written – even if it’s only two – it is time to compare notes and discuss what is reasonable to accomplish in the limited weeks of the season. Perhaps that will mean each person prioritizing their own list and making plans to make sure at least those top items can happen.

Some items can likely be put on a list for another season, or even next summer. It can be a fine balance between desires and reasonable expectations, particularly as the number of people involved increases.

Make it your goal to end your list preparation, discussion and planning process with each person (as well as the whole group) having things to look forward to and confidence that they will happen.

Here’s a free 3-Part Bucket List for you to download, print and adapt for summer and get started. Happy Summer!!!

http://carolbrusegar.com/3-PartBucketList

 

Giggs, Side Hustles and Second/Third Jobs

Side Hustle - Uber

People have been working second jobs forever. As economic conditions change, fewer or more may be engaged in them to augment their main income source. What that looks like and who is involved also changes. Most often the part time jobs people take on are to augment an income that isn’t enough to support themselves and/or their families. Do you now or have you in the past worked a second job? Are you considering or looking for one now? You may get some ideas or inspiration here.

A recent article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune newspaper gives a current snapshot of the phenomenon with examples from the Twin Cities. Author Kevyn Burger, in “From Millennials to Seniors, Twin Cities Workers Embrace ‘Side Hustle’ Economy, cites a 2018 survey by Bankrate that found that 37 percent of Americans have “side gigs.” She notes:

Some pick up cash through the ever-expanding array of internet platforms, logging on and landing on-demand service work – driving, delivering, walking dogs, tutoring, running errands, cleaning or babysitting. Others rely on their creativity and connections to cash in on their marketable skills….While there have always been temps, moonlighters and freelancers, the sheer number of people involved in what economists call the ‘contingent labor force’ represents a shift in how Americans make a living, according to Sarah Kessler, author of Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work.

The motivation or need for taking on part time work varies by population group. From millennials to seniors, there are reasons to explore moneymaking options. They range from funding desired luxury items or activities to paying off college loans to keeping active and involved and many more.

Whether you call it a second job, a side hustle, a gig, or anything else, this is a thriving part of the economy. Read the entire article at Side Hustle Economy

A review of Sarah Kessler’s book Gigged: The End of the Job and the Future of Work says:

“With deep reporting and graceful storytelling, Sarah Kessler reveals the ground truth of a key part of the American workforce. Her analysis is both astute and nuanced, making GIGGED essential reading for anyone interested in the future of work.” —Daniel H. Pink, author of WHEN and DRIVE

 

Journaling as a Tool to Create the Life You Want

journal writingYou may love your life overall; you may love parts of it, but one or more parts may be frustrating or unfulfilling or disastrous. Regardless of your situation, journaling can be a powerful tool.

If you love your life overall, journaling about it will allow you to appreciate it even more and have that record for yourself. As you increase your appreciation and gratitude, it radiates out to others to inspire and uplift them. Your journaled words can be something for you to read again in times of stress or unhappiness. They will remind you of what is possible and help you move forward.

If there are parts of your life that just aren’t what you want them to be, consider journaling to assist you in sorting out the issues and options. Journaling draws out things of which you were not even aware. It can be almost magical.
There are a variety of purposes for journaling, and often they mingle together as you write. Here are a few purposes and how they can be of benefit.

Journal for Personal Growth

Often the beginning point of this kind of journaling is to really articulate your situation – what you appreciate and what you struggle with. Getting it out on paper can clarify the muddle that you may be experiencing.
As you lay out those things, you begin to realize what it is you want to be different and in exactly what ways. You are creating a vision for the future and you can take steps toward it.

Journal for Self-Discovery          

Self-discovery is, of course, related to personal growth. As you journal you go beyond the particular issues with which you began and discover more about yourself. This can include going deeper from what you like and don’t like to what priorities and values lie beneath those preferences. It allows you to explore those values and additional ways you can live them out in your life. This can move you in new, exciting directions.

Journal to Gather Ideas and Brainstorm Solutions

Journaling is also a tool to use to gather ideas and put the best into action, and to brainstorm solutions to issues.  Gathering ideas is an ongoing, even daily activity that will pay big benefits. And when you encounter obstacles as you pursue what you want or you’ve faced a significant setback, journaling can provide clarity. Write down possible solutions from different perspectives without prejudging and you will see more possible alternatives. The sorting out is a next step. A simple journal like this can get you started: My Idea Journal   It is free to download and you can make as many copies of the journal pages as you choose.

Journal to Capture Your Life Experiences

An additional type of journaling focuses on capturing and reflecting on your life experiences. This may be a more occasional effort in which particular events, situations or turning points are the basis of your writing. These journals can be precious accounts of your life when you look back in later years.

Journaling can be done in many ways and used for a variety of purposes. Try out some of them and see what you learn about yourself, others, and the world around you.

Remember to check out the free My Idea Journal

Are You Feeling Stuck?

StuckAre you feeling stuck? Do you have intentions and just can’t seem to do what you know you need to do? I suspect most of us have, if we aren’t right now. Somehow the motivation and focus on those tasks isn’t there. At this time of the year, you may be running into this in relation to your new year’s resolutions or plans.

I am facing exactly that. It is easy to get into a downward spiral of feeling badly about myself when I continually fail to do what will lead me in my preferred direction. Some popular advice and counsel would be to exert will power: make myself do what I am not doing. Sometimes that works. Many times, however, it fails to have the desired effect. In fact, it makes it worse. Emma Brooke Gilding in an article entitled “Why Willpower Isn’t the Answer to Your Problems” says:

“I don’t believe in willpower. That sounds like a whole lot of effort and nonsense. Trying to cultivate a power which makes things easier is not easier. It’s harder. What I DO believe in, is the ability of every individual to achieve their goals with the right self-awareness and self-compassion.”

Perhaps your intentions are to let go of something or move onto something new or to heal from something. Or perhaps just leaving behind the disappointments, hurts and failures of the past and start anew. There are specific things you want to do, and yet you are not doing them.

Gilding suggests that means you and I are not ready to let go, move on or heal. Until we get are in touch with what that is about, progress is unlikely. What is holding us back isn’t a lack of willpower or discipline or laziness. It’s unfinished business.
Taking time to unearth what is holding us back may be the first and most important step if you and I are stuck in this way. We can then move forward and access the motivation, energy and focus that we desire.

Go to my earlier post on Looking Back and Moving Forward and scroll down to where you can request a free Year-End Review Journal. In the journal there are questions that will help identify areas for work.

Have You Discovered Timeboxing?

timeboxingI have used a variety of time management techniques over the years but somehow had never discovered Timeboxing. The idea behind it – of establishing blocks of time for certain tasks, sections of projects, etc. – certainly isn’t a brand new idea. But I’ve learned that it is ‘a thing’ in a way I had not known.

Perhaps you are like me: the likelihood of me trying a new technique or practice is increased if I know the benefits I may gain ahead of time. I need the ‘sales pitch.’ Thus finding Red Tani’s article, “5 Reasons to Practice Timeboxing” was really helpful.

Here are two of the five reasons; more explanation and the rest of the reasons are in the article:

+ Timeboxing is flexible and customizable – you can be as specific (“Write a 100 word description of my main character.”) or as vague (“Make some progress on my novel.”) as you like. …Timeboxes can also be used for activities other than work. You can timebox chores to turn them into games….(and) timebox unproductive activities.

 

+ Timeboxing lets you flow – …During flow, you focus all your emotional and intellectual capacity on the task at hand, allowing you to achieve your best work.

The only thing you need to use this technique is some kind of timer. It can be on your phone, watch, or computer; there are lots of options for timer software online. It’s much better to set a timer than to be checking your clock to see what time it is. Just work on your task until you hear or see the signal indicating the end of the appointed timeframe.

I’m looking forward to using this technique as I move into the new year. I would love to hear your comments if you already are a Timeboxer (is that a word?)!!