Saturday, November 15, 2014

your workspace should be a space that works

my boy at his workspace- because being a toddler is serious business
In my mind, one of the most critical components for success is being in the right workspace. Whether you're a student needing a space to study; an artist needing a studio to paint; or a writer needing a space to write, your environment has to be in line with your needs.

A few years ago, I was working in a multi-functional space that served as my office, reception, storage and an occasional faculty lounge. Located on the building's first floor there were two ceiling high windows that had been  covered up with foam board to protect the glass from wear and tear. So, like Tantalus who couldn't eat the fruit above his head or drink the water before him, I spent my days dreaming of sunshine that couldn't be seen. I was miserable. My office was over-crowded at times, unorganized, and lacked charm. I couldn't even keep plants alive in such a sad little  place.

I personally need warm light (preferably natural but anything besides the awful overhead lamps that are found in most work spaces will do); occasional quiet and solitude; a place for my tea or coffee; pictures of my husband and son; and something green to make my workspace a space that works.

One of my challenges right now is I'm working on a book - exciting right? - and trying to find the physical and head space to do my work at home, is tough. My husband, a writer by trade, seems to manage. But he also is happy working into the wee hours of the morning after my son and I have gone to bed and he at least appears to to be comfortable holed up in the little room we call "the study" or working at the kitchen table. I, likewise, need to find an at home workspace that actually works. I have ideas (I'm thinking a lap table in the bedroom: just the right size for my iPad, journal and a cup of tea), but I've yet to execute.

What about you? What kind of work do you do and what kind of space - ideal space- do you need to be your most creative, efficient, and/or productive?

Saturday, November 8, 2014

money talks

photo by angie
We've all heard the phrase, "Money talks." I, for one, find it a little obnoxious as it immediately creates an image of a well-manicured man in a pinstripe suit dropping hundreds of dollars on frivolous luxuries and over-priced toys. Movies like Wall Street make my skin crawl - if only because we witness the implications of misdirected greed and ambition on a daily basis.

But putting all that aside, money does indeed talk. In fact, how we spend money speaks volumes about what's important to us; what we value. And, realizing this, is radically changing my relationship with money. I've never over-spent (in fact quite the opposite) but I've never felt comfortable earning and saving either. And, as a result, I've never invited prosperity into my life. Sure, my husband and I have always had more than enough, even while living in one of the most expensive places in the world. But I think it's because we've been afraid of failure. Afraid to be the guys from Salt Lake City, Utah who couldn't make it in the bad big apple. For many years, I rarely took risks which meant there was little chance of failure.

But I've found, over the last few months, my relationship with money has changed. I understand that spending money and more importantly earning money isn't inherently a bad thing. I should embrace my potential and steer towards prosperous opportunities. And I should do this with one thing in mind: what I value - love, family, loyalty, integrity, beauty and compassion - can and will be reflected in how I choose to spend (or don't spend) the money I earn.

What about you? What does your relationship with money say about you?

you have to find time before you can manage it

photo by kojotomoto
The fact is you can't manage time that doesn't exist. Over the years I've had countless conversations with individuals that are spiraling out of control because, from their perspective, they just don't manage their time well. And in some cases they're right. Time-vacuums like television, social media, clutter and poor-decision making are taking up far too much real estate on their calendars. But in some cases, quite frankly, people just have too much on their plate.

Before you can successfully manage your time, you must first ensure that you have enough time to manage. Which requires you to do a little self-assessment.

Ask yourself the following questions:

How do I think I spend my time?
Question number one requires some brainstorming. Take five minutes and write down the things, activities, people, problems that take up time in your day-to-day life. Try to be specific. Don't just write down "work" but rather the actual activities at work that take up your time (i.e. answering email; attending meetings; returning calls)

How should I spend my time?
Next, take five minutes and brainstorm the most important things, activities, people and problems that should take up your time. This isn't a list of what you would necessarily like to do, but rather the things you need to do to be effective in your various roles. 

How do I really spend my time?
Answering this question is going to take a bit more heavy-lifting. Over a one-week period I challenge you to log your time-spent. Leave nothing out. For example, on Wednesday nights, my husband and I watch Modern Family - that's a half hour that should make its way into my log.

So, where's the disconnect?
Why do this exercise? It's important that you compare what you perceive (how you think you spend your time) with the truth (how you really spend your time). Once doing so, you need to weigh it all against what you value most (how you should spend your time). There may be things that are taking up serious amounts of real estate on your calendar that don't need to be there. Likewise, you may realize that there are activities or priorities for which you've left little room. If you find that the latter is true, you may need to actually find time, rather than manage it more effectively. You have to make some tough decisions. What gives? What can you evict from your calendar to make room for what's most important?