Tag Archives: career success

10 Steps to Make 2009 Less Busy, More Productive

Are you busy or fruitful? I heard this question recently, and it caused me to think about how the busyness of life can keep us from the important things, the goals we want to achieve in our families, relationships and professional lives. I’m not one to make resolutions each year, but I am one to evaluate what is working and what isn’t. Look back at your 2008—was it very productive? Or were you frequently overwhelmed by your to-do list?


Here are some strategies I’ve tried to use to make my life less busy and more fruitful. (I’m a work in progress.)

1.      Set goals based on your talents and true calling. What is your passion? Write down some smaller steps to help you reach your goal.

2.      Spend more time thinking (or in prayer/meditation) and reading good books and less time watching TV. These activities boost creativity and energy and help us focus.

3.      Reduce your intake of negative news. As a Journalism major, this was tough for me, but I’ve gained more than an hour a day of time and reduced my anxiety level.

4.      Consolidate errands, go online or do without. Do you really need a new outfit or another car wash, or can you spend the time/money elsewhere?

5.      Delegate, ask for help or just say no to things you do not want on your to-do list.

6.      Stop complaining to those who cannot correct a situation. Address problems with the appropriate sources, but don’t waste everyone else’s time over it.

7.      Make peace. Resolve conflicts with people in your life; you’ll spend too much time and energy stewing over unresolved conflicts.

8.      Encourage and help others, especially the less fortunate.

9.      At the beginning of each day, think about what you’d like to accomplish (write it down) and the attitude you would like to project to others.

10.  At the end of each day, evaluate how you did on #9, and consider what changes you may need to make.

So, what are your goals for ‘09? Please share the time-saving tips that have worked for you. And best wishes for a happy and most productive new year!

Can You Connect the Dots?

What do you do to stay on the cutting-edge or to generate new ideas or personal growth? Do you read from a wide variety of sources? Do you seek out new people from different backgrounds? Do you find yourself drawn to new subjects? Do you then explore them, or do you say you wish you had time to explore them? Do you have a mentor either for your personal or professional life? Do you volunteer?

A few years ago, Steve Jobs, co-founder and CEO of Apple, gave an inspiring commencement speech at Stanford University, during which he expressed the need to expand your horizons and follow your heart. He explained how he dropped out of college (mostly due to financial strain on his parents) and then started “dropping in” on classes of interest. A chance decision to take a calligraphy class taught him about great typography and became very useful in creating Apple computers, eventually shaping the way we use fonts in every desktop computer today. At the time, taking a calligraphy class seemed like a useless activity, but he found it fascinating. Clearly, this knowledge became invaluable in his work and well worth the time. “You cannot connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking back,” he says. See the speech at http://www.collegetips.com/college-graduation/steve-jobs-commencement.php or Google Steve Jobs commencement speech.

I think this kind of exploration comes naturally to children. My son is 7 years old and is regularly fascinated by something new—music, the planets, chess, and this week, the periodic table of elements.  Instead of sleeping, we’ll find he sneaks books or other materials into his bunk bed. A few days ago we found note cards in his bed related to Moh’s scale, which measures the hardness of minerals from talc to diamonds. I asked him where he learned about it, and he said, in a book he picked up. I have no idea how or if these interests will shape him; I just feel it’s my job to encourage exploration.

I think trying to continually learn new things makes us more interesting to others, including our spouses. Learning something new together can even bring you closer. Learning about each other is also a great idea. By learning and changing together, you can prevent becoming one of the couples who conclude, “We just grew apart.”

Each person has his or her own path in life, and meandering off the well-worn path is what makes you unique. You may find that following your interests will contribute meaningfully in your life. As Steve Jobs said, you will only be able to connect the dots looking back. What do you hope to see when you look back? What unusual decisions are you glad you made? How did they contribute to your life or relationships?