Tag Archives | planning

10 Fun Things to do During a Power Outage

Photo courtesy of D’Amico Rodrigo

Hopefully it’s not something you find yourself faced with very often, but when dealing with a power outage, brainstorming fun and interesting things to do is important if you want to come away from it with your sanity. If you happen to be without power right now and like many people, have never thought this through, you’re in luck, because I have just recently been in your shoes.

This week, Hurricane Sandy has caused power outages for thousands of households in between Jamaica and Eastern Canada. As she made her way toward my town, along with buying the appropriate survival supplies, I started compiling a mental list of activities that would keep us adequately entertained, should we find ourselves without electricity:

  • Make a tent world. All this requires is candles (or flashlights) and blankets. Especially when you have children, hours can be whiled away creating interesting “rooms” and telling stories inside your gigantic room-sized tent. For added fun, bring pillows, books, and snacks in with you!
  • Sleep. Taking advantage of the lack of power to catch up on your sleep may not sound like fun, exactly, but it sure feels good, and is good for you.
  • Tell stories. Make them up as you go, having each person in your family add to the story as you tell it outloud, or read a good book!
  • Have a pig out. Raid your freezer since everything in there will be the first to melt or go bad, and reach for the ice cream first. Make the most of it and have a “Make Your Own Sundae” party with your family and/or neighbors.
  • Draw or paint. Take advantage of this time to get in touch with your creative side again.
  • Trade back rubs.  Take turns paying special attention to your significant other’s back (or feet, or….you get the idea). And then make sure the favor gets returned. Another fun idea is to “draw” words on your kids’ backs and have them try to guess what you “wrote.” They’ll love it (and it feels great!)
  • Have a candlelit dinner. Even if the food is sandwiches and fuit – eating dinner by candle light isn’t something you probably get to do very often.  With all of your electronic distractors turned off, you might end up having the best conversation you’ve had in a long time.
  • Meditate. The best place to practice meditation is in a quiet, dimly lit room.  Light a few aromatherapy candles, get comfortable, and get in touch with yourself.
  • Have a fashion show. While this might seem like something that would need light, you’d be surprised how much you can see with some of today’s powerful flashlights.  Set up a few battery powered lanterns and try out some new clothing combinations, or engage your kiddos in a game of dress-up.
  • Sing. Perhaps you’ve forgotten, but playing ”Name that Tune” is actually really fun. If the power is out for an extra long time, you might have to resort to ”99 Bottles.”

As always, be sure to stay mindful during whatever crisis may be causing you to be without power.  Although it may be scary at times if you’re in the throngs of an intense storm, follow the mindfulness principles, find your center, and try to make the best of it.

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The #1 Way to Completely Ruin Your Weekend


Photo courtesy of Crock TeesIf your ultimate goal is to have the worst weekend of your life, keep reading. If you want to spend days repeatedly fixing your own mistakes, you totally wish you were me right now. Don’t worry – I will tell you exactly how you can totally ruin your weekend BUT, in the interest of self-improvement, I’m also going to be forced to tell you how to enjoy your weekend instead. Just in case you change your mind.

It all started out innocently enough. I wanted a swimming pool in my backyard, but I couldn’t afford the kind that is installed by pool professionals. If I had that much extra money, believe me, that is what I would have done. BELIEVE. ME. However, when I pulled up my bank account balance on the internet, instead of numbers it simply said, “Do it yourself.” Hmmm.

Buying the pool and supplies was easy and kind of fun! I loaded a shopping cart with all kinds of pool rafts, tester kits, and chlorine tablets. I brought everything home (including the pool) and Operation Pool Fail began! I was given the title of Director and Chemical Engineer, due to my physical limitations, and I quickly led the rest of the family…into a weekend of pure torture.

  • Day 1 

    We built that pool so fast I think we broke a record somewhere. There was much back patting.

  • Two Hours Later 

    Directions? We were supposed to follow those? The pool began to look like the Leaning Tower of Pisa and we decided to start all over using the directions. We crafted an ingenious DIY tarp trench to allow for speedy pool drainage, and still waited all night for the pool to empty. (We did go to sleep, though.)

  • Day 2 

    We dismantled the entire pool we had assembled the day before so we could level out the ground underneath. This is emphasized in the directions.  We discovered an additional 87 other errors due to our poor planning and we had to work all day to fix them.

  • Day 3 

    We built the pool for a second time in sweltering heat and nearly dehydrated ourselves (ironic since we were building a pool). We became covered from head to toe in bug bites because no one thought ahead and bought some OFF!  After much sweat, some tears and a whole lot of kicking ourselves, we collapsed to ground and swore that we would do better next time.

Do yourselves a favor and learn from my mistakes. If I learned anything this weekend, other than which bug bite cream works best and that I do NOT look good with hat hair, it’s this: the nitty gritty particulars of proper planning are much more preferable to witlessly winging it. By investing time in formulating a solid plan before starting a project, you’ll not only save time in the end, but you’ll also save your sanity, and possibly, your weekend.

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Why Keeping a Steady Pace Always Wins the Race


Photo courtesy of M Francis McCarthy
I’m all about time management. I’ve discovered that pacing myself works very effectively and allows me to accomplish a steady amount of tasks on a regular basis without stressing my mind or my body too much.  I keep a list of actions that I need to fulfill each day of the week and I cross each item off when completed. Since I work from home, my To-Do list pops right up onto the corner of my laptop to remind me what needs to happen every day/week/month in order to meet my financial and life goals (feed the children, try not to live in squalor, etc). So, yes, my daily list even includes things like “Buy milk” and ”Do 1 load of laundry.” Breaking things down like this helps me to get more done over the course of the week, both professionally and personally.

I didn’t always work my life like this, however, and neither do most other working adults these days. Many of us have spent years attacking each day haphazardly, with few or no specific goals in mind, only to reach 5:00pm to realize that we did everything but the important stuff. Getting off-task is all too easy on any given day of the week, causing us to feel overwhelmed by all of the things we weren’t able to accomplish. Most people bite off more than they can chew regularly by overestimating the amount of time they have available during the week. Although you can’t expect the unexpected, you should leave time for it just in case it happens.

Start by making a list of everything you would like to conceivably get done by the end of the current week. Include all tasks that must be completed in order to retain your employment, and necessary life-sustaining errands like grocery shopping. List actions that will boost your professional life, and things that you need to get done in your private life in order to keep things flowing harmoniously.  Divide your list of actions into daily groupings in order from what needs to be accomplished first, to what can wait until the end of the week. You can make your workload lighter if you:

  • Delegate one item on your weekly list to someone who has the time, ability, and willingness.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed this week, attempt to reschedule one action for later in the month when you’re less busy.
  • Try combining two similar tasks into one or do two tasks at once wherever possible.
  • Move one thing to your “Someday” list or delete it all together if it’s just not that important.

What you’re left with should be a very do-able action list for your week, divided nicely into daily task goals. Remember that there will be days where something unexpected pops up and an item on your list doesn’t get completed. In that case, simply highlight it and move it to another day during the week where it might feasibly get accomplished.  Pace yourself, people. Life isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.

 

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Does Taking the Road Less Traveled Really Make a Difference?


Photo courtesy of Bill Ward’s Brickpile
I’m a planner.  I feel better when there’s a plan in place for just about everything.  I lay out clothes for my entire family each night before bed. I make To Do lists. I know how I’m going to spend my money before I even have it. I planned what age I wanted to be married by and when my children would be born and succeeded at achieving both. Planning makes me feel in control of things and gives me a sense of accomplishment. I don’t handle surprises well at all and my loved ones have all been forbidden from throwing me a surprise party, like, EVER.

I had planned to live happily ever after with my first husband, but, after ten years of marriage, we found ourselves separated and filing for divorce. This was definitely not in my plans, and all of the life changes that occurred afterward were enough to really throw me off balance. However, despite it not being part of the blueprint I had created for my life, I slowly adapted to the idea and life after a divorce.  Now, 2 years later, I am happily remarried to an amazing man and good friends with my first husband. It seems The Universe knew what it was doing.

What I learned from this situation is that, while it’s good to be organized and have life goals, you can’t expect the unexpected. That’s kind of the whole definition of the word, right? Whether something takes you by surprise personally, professionally, or medically, it’s how you react that counts. You can spend your whole life making and executing plans, and bravo if you accomplish everything you set out to do. However, the real life lessons come from navigating the bumps in the road along the way.

Avoiding the bumpy roads keeps us in our comfort zone but doesn’t allow for the personal growth and self-awareness gained by facing a challenging situation. What we learn about ourselves as we face seemingly insurmountable obstacles can be quite an eye-opening experience and can lead us to re-think our original plans.  The next time your life goes off the grid, don’t panic.  Sometimes, the road less traveled can take you where you should have been going all along.

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Why Now Could Be the Perfect Time to Renew Your Resolutions

Resolutions
Photo courtesy of Ewan MacNeilage

March is not the most typical time of year to make life-improving resolutions, but really, who decided that we can only better ourselves on New Year’s Day? According to a survey conducted by Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton, only 8% of the people who make resolutions at the start of the year will succeed in seeing them through, and by the time March rolls around, most of these resolutions are all but forgotten.

We like to use the New Year as a symbol of new beginnings; out with the old and in with the new. But when we tell ourselves that January 1 is the only date we can make these big goals, we’re effectively limiting the amount of success we can achieve over the course of the next year. As absurd as it sounds, I’ve actually met people who live by the outlook that if things aren’t going well in August, they’ll have to wait until January of the following year to do something about it.

If you find yourself setting resolutions on New Year’s Day, only to then forget about them several weeks later, right now could be the perfect time to revisit your personal goals, perhaps by revising your plan and outlining clearer objectives. In the end, January 1 is an arbitrary date. If you have a goal you really want to succeed in, you can renew your commitment to it at anytime. It’s either that or waiting until next year comes around.

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Are You Sabotaging Your Projects By Broadcasting Them?

Broadcast
Photo courtesy of Andrew Allio

Common goal-setting wisdom says that you should tell as many people as possible about your goals in order to achieve them. This is so that you can then draw the strength of your personal support network when times get tough, and they can hold you accountable. The theory is that the more people who know about your goal, the more you’ll look like a failure if you don’t follow through, and so you’re more likely to work harder.

I, however, was surprised to hear this perspective, because in my own experience I have found exactly the opposite to be true – i.e. telling people about my goals actually makes me far less likely to achieve them. In the past when I have kept a project to myself, I found myself more determined to work harder to get the job done so that I could brag about it.

Several psychological studies have delved deeper into this topic, attempting to work out exactly how people’s minds behave when they tell other people about their goals. What they found was that test subjects got a great deal of satisfaction in their goals being acknowledged after sharing them with somebody else, so much so that their minds were tricked into feeling like they had already achieved the goal.

Several experts believe this satisfaction felt from sharing plans actually makes people less likely to go out and do them. Sounds a bit counterintuitive, I know. But I can’t tell you how many of my friends have told me about a great new project they’re about to start working on, only for the project to disappear into obscurity within days.

My advice to you would be to look back at some of your past goals. Do you always follow through with your plans, or have you started more projects than you’ve finished? If you’re the kind of person who is motivated about having your family and friends cheering for you, and you’re worried about how you’ll look to them if you fail, then broadcasting your goals might work well for you.  If, on the other hand, you gain greater motivation from the thought of keeping things under wraps and having a big ta-dah! reveal at the end when you’ve actually accomplished something, then do just that. You could find your next project a lot easier to stick with.

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