Friday, November 25, 2011

Five Ways to Simplify Your Communication Life

We are inundated with all kinds of communication everyday, to the point where it can become overwhelming. Here are five tips to cut down on the noise.

Purge your email. Periodically consider whether you really need that weekly email newsletter. For example, not long ago I tried jumping into the couponing pool. I've come pretty much right back out (that's another topic.) In the process of trying it, I ended up subscribing to several sites and then hardly looking at the deals. Time to unsubscribe from a lot of them.

But Beth, what if you miss out on a deal? I miss out on deals all the time. I can always find the sites later, or bookmark them into a "saving money" folder so if I get the urge to do something like eat out or some other fun activity, or have something specific I need to buy, I can research sales and coupons then.

Turn off notifications. If you are active on social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, adjust your settings so you are only getting notifications for things that really interest you. These days, it's easy for people to add you to groups, and if you don't have settings adjusted to your preference, you could have long lists of notifications or emails of when someone posted in that group. I've recently done this myself for Facebook groups that I want to remain part of, without being reminded every time someone posts there.

Also consider adjusting notifications on your cell phone. If you use a phone that lets you see email, it may be best you may not need to have a sound or icon come up every time a new email comes in. You can check it when you want once or twice a day.

Be cautious about your cell phone. Many of you may be using a cell phone exclusively rather than a land line. In that case, you really don't have much choice about  giving out your number. But if you still have a home phone and a cell phone, be cautious about giving out your cell phone number too widely. We already deal with lots of interruptions in life and extra calls may not be necessary in the middle of your days.

Use voice mail. Many messages can be handled by a simple voice mail--both leaving one and receiving one. You don't have to answer every call right away (same goes for email.) Let the phone go to VM if you are in the middle of something that needs focus such as driving or meeting with a friend.

Use “do not mail” and “do not call” lists. From time to time, check and and get your name off of junk mail and telemarketing lists. Now, if you enjoy getting coupons, catalogs, samples, or other pieces of mail, so be it. But if you want to simplify--these services can help you out.

These are just a few ways to reduce communication noise. What works for you?

Friday, November 18, 2011

Fear and Time Management

I mentioned in other articles that one of my biggest time management challenges is allowing enough time for each errand or task of the day. I am not strong at estimating how long something will take, or allowing for the inevitable interruptions or setbacks (i.e. from technology) that come my way. Sometimes I think there is a deeper reason for this than simply underestimating. It can become a heart issue, based in some fears, such as the following:

Fear of boredom. I am the kind of person that really enjoys being reasonably busy--meaning that I have plenty to do but like to see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think I fear being bored, so I enjoy having valuable tasks ahead for the day. But I can easily reach the tipping point of having too many tasks on the list and then get stressed trying to meet all the self-imposed expectations.

Fear of insignificance. I like to do things that cause people to think, to change, to grow in their walk with God and others. In a strengths finder assessment, one of my strengths is significance--the desire to be important to people and do important things. But I can allow my personal drive to prove myself significant to cause me stress and pressure.

Fear of failure. I get a rush out of accomplishing a lot in a day. So I keep going because I don't like the feeling of things being left undone. I was valedictorian in high school and have always been at least somewhat driven by achievement. I don't like to fail at something and want to do a lot of things naturally well.

Fear of work. this may sound counterintuitive since I have workaholic tendencies. But, sometimes, hidden in that, is a laziness. For example, I can be on Facebook for an unreasonable amount of time each day. I can get a lot done because I'm fast, but that doesn't mean I always do things well or give them enough thought in the process.

I could apply some time management principles to this, but the bottom line is that my fear interrupts me from receiving the love and grace God has for me, and finding my value simply in being His daughter, not in what I accomplish.

Does any of this resonate with you?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fasting from a To Do List

If you are used to using a checklist to organize your life, try a day of "fasting" from making a list. Go through the day relying on the Holy Spirit to guide your steps and tasks. In some ways, you may feel less pressure because although checklists are a good tool, they can become our masters. Trying a fast from time to time can refocus your perspective and you may be surprised at what you still get done!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Too Many Mugs!

How many ceramic and thermal coffee mugs do you have in your house? I hate to admit that for three people, we probably have at least 20 of these things throughout the kitchen, and I'm the only one who drinks coffee or tea! These types of cups can pile up because it's easy to buy a mug from a place you want to remember, or you receive a travel mug as a gift at some conference or event, or someone gives you one as a gift, or you have a collection for certain holidays.

Here are a few tips for managing your mugs:

Find all travel or ceramic mugs and put them on the table. (Don't do coffee mugs at the same time, just one or the other.)

Pick out three of your favorites. They could be your favorite because they fit well in your car or you like the design. For whatever reason pick three.

Pick out two or three that you don't care about. Put them in a giveaway container.

If you entertain with mugs regularly, now pull out a fair number to keep for entertaining purposes (i.e. the small group of four women that come to your house each week for Bible study.) Only save what you reasonably need for entertaining.

Count how many you have left. Are any that are part of the "leftover" mugs ones that you can't bear to part with? If so, consider an alternative use for those. Can one go on your desk to hold coins? Can they be used as seed starter planters? A pen cup? Come up with an actual use for any you want to keep.

Hide the remaining. If you can bring yourself to put the rest in the giveaway pile, put them in a box and hide them in the back of a closet. Make a note on your calendar to retrieve the box six months from now. If you haven't looked for them in six months, give away the entire box to a place like Goodwill without opening the box.

Now, take the three you want to keep and find a suitable place for them. Why are you keeping three? On any given day, if you are a regular hot-drink person, you will be using one mug, and the other may need cleaning. The extra one is there for those inevitable times that you forgot to bring the mug in from the car or forgot to wash the other two. You should be able to rotate with three and always have one available in the cabinet.

Now, repeat the process with the other type of mug.

One additional suggestion. If any of the mugs are holiday related, consider storing them with the appropriate holiday box and putting them on display during that season.