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Love/Hate Relationship

This week I have been thinking a lot about things I have a love / hate relationship with.  How do items end up in this category?  Is it really possible to both love and hate something?

My most bothersome candidates are running, my inbox, and eating.  All of these activities for very different reasons, I love and hate.  I’m going to dive into running & my inbox!  (Eating is such a big one –I’ll save that for another day)

I’ll jump into running first.  It has probably been my longest love / hate relationships.  While I am running, especially when I am running faster than is comfortable for me, or especially if my back is aching, I think I am going to die.  I think about whatever is hurting me (back, legs, lungs etc.) with every single step.  I think I will not possible be able to go anymore.  I try to drown myself talk out with music.  This works to varying degrees depending on my amount of mental toughness that day!  But when I am done, I feel better and prouder than any other workout.  I feel great after all kinds of workouts, but I feel a different high (runner’s high – I suppose) after jogging (let’s be real – I don’t actually run).  Therefore, this is why I love and hate running.  The good news is if jogging is my workout for the day, I do not delay in getting started – I am not afraid of it.  And on days when I do not feel like I am dying, I actually do not mind jogging at all!  The issue is, I never know what kind of day it is going to be.  So I will continue with jogging since it is always a good workout and such a great feeling after!

This weird relationship has caused another odd side effect: I cannot tell you how many times I have started and stopped Couch to 5k app on my phone.  Countless times!  I just started it again this weekend!  I had been up to the week four or five of the workouts in early December.  Then in December through early Jan I had one cold after another.  I kept walking at the gym so I would not lose my workout habit, but I didn’t have the lung capacity to jog.  Finally today, I felt up for it.  Since I had not used the app or run since 12/4, and I am not 100% over my cold, I started over… again…  At least I am running???  That’s what I am telling myself.

I would love it if I find another workout that gets my endorphins as high as jogging.  Until then, I will continue my love hate relationship with it!

My inbox has been a problem for me since I started working.  I’ve read so many productivity and ‘eat that frog’ type of books, so I am well trained in focusing on the big problems and the real work instead of email.  I get it.  I wish I could check my email even less often than I do.  My focus on the ‘real work’ results in me being hopelessly behind on my emails and sometimes I just flat out miss stuff.  In general this does not bother me.  If it is something super important people will call me or email again.  However, last year I listened to a podcast that outlined a method of email clean up that I can get behind!  It had a method that made sense to me & after years of thinking it impossible, I did begin to think an inbox of zero was possible.  I worked at it for about a month, tackling little by little, but I did get my 3,000+ emails down to zero.  Since then I have done it a few more times (more on my inbox progress).  It felt completely amazing!  This year, when making my list of goals, I added, get my inbox to zero at least once per month.  I thought it sounded like the right thing.  This weekend I had to work on a presentation.  I also noticed that I had only 400 emails in my inbox.  It was time to jump on that if I had any hope at a zero inbox in January.  So I spent 1.5 – 2 hours on Saturday getting my inbox to zero.  I did it!  It did feel good, but it was NOT my frog.  My frog this weekend was the presentation.  Now I have to work on Sunday as well to get that updated.  So I am torn on this goal.  Was it worth the time?  Time I am taking away from Jackson to get my inbox to zero?  Especially when I knew I had more work the next day?  What is the right answer here?  Every time I push myself to clean it down to zero I find something important that I had missed or lost sight of, so there is work value, but at what cost?  The saga of the inbox continues for me.

What do you have a love hate relationship with?   How are you coping with it?

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At Home Pajama Party

When is the last time, for a whole day, you didn’t leave your house and you didn’t get out of your PJs?  When it is not even the middle of January and I have already done it twice!  I have to say, it’s a super luxury!

I am a recovering busy body (or maybe more accurately, I am an aspiring recovering busy body).  I was raise as a go-go-go-go motto.  My work certainly demands this of me now.  But I am finding more and more I actually like a little slower pace.  Especially with the internet and news and Facebook.  Everything is screaming by.  It is kind of nice to stay put.  Read a book.  Watch TV on the TV and not on the phone, or iPad, or PC screen.

How have I managed 2 days in such a short period of time?  Well the first time was intentional.  We had Monday the 2nd off as a holiday & I took the day to rest from all the holiday rush!  I planned to keep it low key & then I took it to the next level, by never getting out of my PJs.  This was fine until my neighbor came over at like 3 in the afternoon.  I sheepishly answered with my Grinch PJs on.  She was dropping off a nice lasagna for us.  I was a little embarrassed when she asked if I was all right!  This seems like an acceptable price to pay for being able to lounge around all day in my PJs and read my book.  I’ll take that any day!

The second day I stayed home was not so glamorous.  The first week back to work I got a ridiculous cold.  I stayed home all day the next weekend b/c I was hacking up a storm and walking up the 7 stairs in the house was spiking my heart rate.  I was in no condition to go out.  So, the reason I was forced to relax my entire Sunday was crap (I hate being sick), but made for a decent day to only watch the Steelers win & read!

I love reading and rarely make enough time for it.  This getting to stay home really has allowed me to read more this year already than I had in the past few months!!

So if you enjoy staying at home all day, try to plan a day when you do not need to leave the house!  See what you think!

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Firsts for 2016

Last year I created a list of things that I did for the first time in 2015 (here is the link to last years post!).  Good & bad.  It was really fun.

It is so easy to race through life and never look back an reflect.  In general, one of the things, I am trying to do more is actually take the time to think.  I know this sounds crazy, but many times I am so busy that I do not take time to really thing things through.  In hoping to think more, I want to reflect more, plan more and most importantly get to know myself better.

Where will I find the time to think?  This is the tough one.  Maybe I will watch a little less TV, or try to do some thinking while driving or doing chores instead of listening to music and podcasts.  The time is there, I have to figure out the best way to utilize it!

Here are some of the highlights from my firsts for 2016.

  • Got married!  Wahoo!
  • I went to Nashville! – Nashville had been on my list for a long time!
  • Went to Galena
  • Quit a volunteering gig that was taking too much time from me.  Felt liberating to quit.
  • Used our new fire pit!
  • Went to a local nature park to hike & another to climb stairs
  • Got my work email inbox to 0 a few times! I do not know if I have ever done this before in my career.

I bet if you reflect back on your year, you’ll find some amazing wins in your year too!  Share some of yours with us!

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To Do List Tango

I am a list girl.  I always have been.  I think it matches up with my type A personality.  It actually blows my mind that some people do not create any lists at all.
I would like to be a fly on the wall of these people to see if they are calmer. Are they more organized or do they frantically later remember things?

Anyway.  One thing I have noticed is that I cannot seem to keep a consistent method for my to do’s.  I realized this recently.  I am obsessed with keeping lists but I also seem to be in search of my perfect tracking mechanism.

Within the last year alone I have used at least 5 different ways to track my tasks.  This seems crazy to me.  Do you have one consistent way you track lists?  What is it?  Why do you think it works for you?

Here are the things I have been using in some combination over the past one year.

  1. White board – Jackson & I each have a white board.  I used this extensively during our wedding planning to keep track of the endless tasks.  I still use it now to track my countdown weeks (I am always counting down to something exciting – right now I am counting down to my trip to CA over Thanksgiving) & to track my exercise.  This entire year I have exercised at least 3 hours per week with very few exceptions.  Tracking this on the white board has been hugely helpful.  I also track what I would like to do on a weekend on this board. Recently I started to add a Should Do & a Could Do list to the white board. I am seeing if this puts less pressure on me than just To Do, which implies MUST.  The Should Do’s are a higher priority than Could Do’s.  I’m still determining if I like this strategy.
  2. OneNote – I use this for mostly work tasks.  It gets a little unruly sometimes because I have a million things I would like to do at work.  I am always trying to determine the highest priorities so I can keep my focus there.  I also track my power hour & admin hour tasks (See more here)
  3. Post it notes – I often make a list for that day only & put down what needs to be done.  When I do this, I will put it on my notebook or PC screen to be sure I focus on those until they are finished.  This should not be necessary in combination with the One Note & white board, but somehow I need to do this.  It is like a little security blanket.
  4. Awesome Note app – I was using this religiously for about a year.  I got out of the habit somehow.  I like this app, but I think for now my other methods work better.  One challenge I had was I had trouble syncing it between my iPad & phone.  OneNote does this seamlessly, plus I can see it on my desktop.  I think this is why I transitioned away from any app that tracks my lists.  I like to be on the same page with any devise I have.
  5. Flagging to do’s in my inbox.  The other way I keep an eye on tasks is through my email.  I flag things I need to do or I move then into a folder called ‘For Immediate Action’. I have recently taken a new approach to my email.  (This is specific to work emails, I have not tackled my personal email yet).  I normally have about 2 – 3000 emails in my inbox. Honestly it would have been worse but they get auto-deleted after so long OR my inbox gets too full & I have to clean it to keep getting emails. It is so inefficient.  I recently learned some great tips from April & Eric Perry (more info here).  I have not implemented their whole system, but this part has been very helpful for me.  I try to check email less frequently (all time management folks recommend this — I am only somewhat successful so far 🙂 ).  And when I do check it, I try to follow the basics.
  • If I can answer it 2 minutes I do so right away & then file the email.
  • If I can’t I flag it for follow up.
  • The key here is to move it out of your inbox.

After I read each email I file it or move it to a folder for Immediate follow up.  The other trick I love is creating a folder called To Sort.  Here I put things that needs filed but I am not able to take the time to file correctly right then.  This gets it out of my inbox & available for sorting when I have more time.  It honestly makes sorting later faster because I can grab everything from one person and file once vs. every few days when I am trying to clean up.  One other note, it took me about a month to sort my inbox, which was at 2500 emails when I started this.  I completed it by sorting one or two letters of the alphabet every day.  I just worked through any emails from an A or B on the first day & put them in the right folders.  So, for the first time in my entire life, I have had an inbox at 0.  I usually only get there once a week.  Normally on the weekends.  But I feel like I am more organized and I have miss less things that require action.  I used to just say, ‘I am bad at email’. I would still not claim to be great, but my inbox feels less overwhelming…. HUGE WIN.  One other Side note.  My To Sort folder gets big quickly (I get 100 – 200 emails a day), however, I have found a great time to catch up on this is when I am stuck in a meeting that I am not adding a lot of value!  Win!  I can partially pay attention & partially clean my emails.

  1. Asana – I also played with Asana for about a month.  I have given up on that for now. Maybe I’ll come back to it in the future.

Part of the fun for me is experimenting with new ways to track things.  (I know Super Nerd).  When I started this post, I was hoping to come to the conclusion that I could really settle on one way of tracking.  After thinking about all of these, I do not think that is going to happen.  At least not right now.  I think I am the type that likes to manage myself with multiple avenues.  It is working for me.  I think I will continue to tweak and monitor in a way that helps me without being overly burdensome!

How do you track your to-dos?  Or do you skip the tracking all together?  I’d love to hear.  Really I would!!

to-do-list

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In Search of Acceptance when I Cannot Control Time

Can you control time?

Lately I have been feeling so much like I want to control time.  It seems like the more I try to control it, the less control I have.

I have been so busy at work.  So busy.  And I want to be as efficient as possible.  But being efficient often doesn’t allow me to dive deep into something.  Sometimes this is good, because I avoid a rabbit hole.  Sometimes this is not good because some digging would really open up the issue and lead to a breakthrough.

It is also tough as a working manager.  My team needs time from me.  I completely understand that.  And I have a big workload of things I have to accomplish.  Must find time to help / coach them or sometimes just be a sounding board.

I have a lot of HR work going on.  It is incredibly time consuming.  But not spending the time upfront on HR and team building would be disaster in the long term.

This Saturday I turned into Super Crank because I couldn’t control the time.
I had the house to myself!  Yeah (see this back story) so I really wanted to relax a little.  But I was just so overwhelmed with work.  I committed to finishing at least one big looming task I had for work (in between laundry) and then I could relax.  It really needed to get done & with me traveling all week for work, I was not sure when I could get to it.
Plus this job required 100% attention because it was very detailed.  Not something I could do in 30 minute increments and be effective.

So I finished it!  I should have felt great.  But I felt shitty.  It took me like 4 – 5 hours to do…  And most of my Saturday…  And I was leaving Sunday morning for a work trip, so my entire free time for the weekend was spent on an analysis….

The ironic part is, when I was doing the analysis, I was kind of enjoying it.  Not over the moon, but I was into it deeply and felt like I was making progress.  Progress is a big booster for me.

The crash came when I realized just how long it took me.  And I still had to pack my suitcase.  (Normally I can pack in about 15minutes.  But this trip was going to really stretch my abilities of packing.  I was going to be gone for 7 nights, I had a lot of work stuff to take for the trade show & I only wanted to take a carry on.  Oh! And of course, almost every one of my consumables (contact solution etc.) needed to be replenished.)

So even that job took 5 times longer than normal.

So by the time I was ready to ‘relax’ it was already 7 PM.

Great… I was exhausted and I wanted to go to bed early, so my relax time was about 3 hours.  For the whole week.  That just wasn’t enough.
So I went straight to being cranky during the few hours I had left!

Jackson, the constant support system, said I could leave the sink full of dishes (my chore) & he’d take care of them tomorrow.  I gratefully took him up on this.

Then he offered to give me a back massage to help me relax.  Such a super husband.

I woke up Sunday feeling pretty refreshed and calm.  I felt ready to tackles the day & the crazy week coming my way.

But how do I get around the Super Crank on Saturday?  I think I did the right thing but sucking it up & getting the work done.  I probably wouldn’t have felt so good Sunday when I woke up if I hadn’t done so much work on Saturday.

So, my question to the universe is: How do I feel better & more accomplished about the days that are all work, during those days?  How do I feel good about the work I put in & the relaxing I skipped because it allows me to have less stress in the coming days?  How do I accept the fact that I cannot control time and that’s ok?  Things will often take longer than planned.  Some weeks there isn’t a lot of time to relax.  It happens.

I would love to hear if you anyone else can relate to this and especially if you have any advice on how to feel less overwhelmed when it does happen?

i-cannot-control-time

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