Archive for September, 2013

Add Time to Your Day by Improving This


Time is a precious commodity.  The reasons why we never seem to have enough time vary per individual.

A big time waster… television.  According to USA Media, the typical American spends more than 30 hours a week, (that’s more than a full day!) sitting in front of the TV.

Another culprit, your memory.

Yep.  Forgetting something and having to fix or re-do it later can become a big time waster.

For example, you get home from the store and realize that you forgot the eggs for breakfast tomorrow.  Now you’ll have to spend more time going back to the store, or else scrounge for a replacement for breakfast.  All to make up for your forgetfulness.

Or, maybe you forgot a deadline at work.  Now you’ll have to take time rescheduling and rearranging your schedule to accommodate for the rush job you’ll have to do now.  Not to mention the inferior work you’ll do in your haste.

Another example.  You left the house to run errands but forgot the movies or the library book that needed to be returned on the way.  Now you’ll have to make a second trip because you forgot.

As you can see, improving your memory can actually, add minutes and maybe even hours to your day.  Here are some ideas to help improve your memory.


1.  Pay attention.  It’s almost impossible to remember something if you are distracted.  Try to be more alert and conscious of others and your surroundings.  When you are having a conversation, turn off the TV or radio and give your full attention.  Notice land marks while driving.   Sleep well the night before a long meeting or class.

2.  Write it down.  “Writing something down is the best way to remember it,” says Doug Alexander, a Boston-area psychologist.  Try keeping a notebook or something similar, where you can not only write down things to remember but have them organized by category – such as “to-do lists,” phone messages” or “directions”.  The process of writing and categorizing information can reinforce your ability to retain it.

3.  Repeat it.  Repetition is an easy way of helping information sink in.  When you meet someone new, use their name several times during the conversation to help you remember it.  “Rehearse” directions, grocery lists, or test answers a few times so you don’t forget.

4.  Put it in the same place.  Make a habit of putting your keys in the bowl by the front door.  Put all the screwdrivers in one place; all the bills, somewhere else, etc.

5.  Make notes to yourself.  Attach sticky note to the pone, front door, or bathroom mirror, such as “Call Mom to wish her a Happy Birthday.”   These can be used like an external memory or an extension of your memory – a way to remember without having to actually remember.

6.  Take a deep breath.  When you are stressed, hormones are released that can negatively affect your memory.  Relaxing can reduce these hormones and help you remember things better.  “If you slow your breathing, your heart rate slows, invoking a relaxation response,” says Stanford university insomnia expert, Madsen Palmer.



Living a More Simple Life


There’s a recent trend to live simpler and easier lives.

A little curious about how others do it, I did a little research on my own and ran across several stories.  One was about a woman that only possessed 1 pair of jeans and 2 shirts.  Another woman was in the process of making changes in her families places of work, school, and markets in an attempt to get rid of their only car.  And have you ever heard about having a buy-nothing Christmas?  There’s a thought, or should I say, a rebellion?

Dave Bruno, author and advocate for simple living has an idea as well.  It’s called “The 100 Thing Challenge”.

Bruno wanted to live a simpler, more meaningful life.  His solution was to narrow his personal belonging down to, yep, you guessed it, just 100 things.

What followed was a worldwide movement of people taking on the challenge to pick out just 100 things to live with – and give the rest of their possessions away.

Bruno says it wasn’t about the numbers though.  It was about becoming a person that could shake off the constraints of consumerism.  A person that was free to follow a satisfied life.

Comments showed that people believed that the challenge made them live more fully… giving them more time and space to do the things that were most important to them.  And that the challenge was inspirational and helped them improve their lives.

I have to be honest.  I don’t know if I’m up for “The 100 Thing Challenge”, but I am all about figuring out how to simplify life.

I’m convinced that we do not need stuff to be happy.  And although I’m not quite ready to reduce to the extreme that Bruno did, I’m looking forward to reducing to an extent.

If for no other reason than to change my attitude toward “stuff”.

How do you feel about simplifying your life and to what extreme are you willing to go?



Stop the Morning Madness


Do you find yourself scrambling every morning and in the end yelling as your kids head out the door?  Here are a few suggestions that will make your morning smoother…and happier.


Get up earlier.  Be sure to plan for plenty of time in the morning and maybe even a couple extra minutes for that inevitable, “Mom, I lost my homework”, scenario.  Set your alarm clock with time to spare.  And if you’re one of those that loves the snooze button, try placing your alarm clock across the room so you are physically forced to get out of bed to turn it off.


Get ready before the kids.  We all love our “Z’s”, but according to Mary Belche, Ph.D., a clinical child psychologist in Cincinnati, “Children love their parents attention and a great time to give them that is in the morning.  If parents don’t slip out of bed until their kids are gone to school, they are missing some valuable time with them.”  Try rising before the kids and get ready yourself.  Then when the kids wake up, you’ll be ready for whatever comes your way.


Have a schedule.  If your kids wake up in plenty of time, but drag their feet and aren’t able to fit everything they need to do into the allotted time, try coming up with a schedule with them.  Do things in order of priority and set appropriate times for each task to be done by.  You can even make it into a game.  Use a stopwatch and create a chart to keep track of their times.  Try to beat their time the next day.


Prepare the night before.  Not everything has to be done in the morning.  What can be done the night before to alleviate some stress?  Daily baths, homework, lunches, setting out clothes, and getting backpacks ready are all thing that can be done ahead of time and leave time in the morning for things like a healthy breakfast.


Go to bed on time.  Waking up in the morning is always easier to do when you’re not tired.


Have a positive attitude.  Be happy.  If problems arise, deal with them calmly instead of sending the house into a frenzy.  Be an example to your kids of appropriate behavior and send them out the door ready for a great day.




Things to Avoid When It Comes to Chores

Do your kids face chores kicking and screaming?  Never fear!  There are ways to make chores, well, less of a chore.


Don’t delay.  Kids are never too young to start learning the benefits of chores.   And they are probably more capable than you think.  Sometimes we hold back because we think they need to be ready first.  Well, they have to start somewhere and kids learn by doing.  Make sure that their assigned chores are age appropriate and start today.


Don’t be inconsistent.  If your kids aren’t expected to follow through on their chores regularly then they’ll never get them done.  They will just expect some else to do them for them.  Instead, set timelines and consequences and follow through yourself.  In the beginning they will test the waters to see what they can get away with.  But stick with it and soon it will become easier for all involved.


Don’t require perfection.  No one is perfect and one aspect of doing chores is to learn.  Relax a little and use this as bonding time.  And, no matter how strong the urge is to step in and do it for them…resist it!  Doing (or redoing) their chores undermines the whole point.


Don’t hold back praise.  You don’t have to wait for them to finish their chores to tell them “good job”.  Be your child’s cheerleader from the start.  Shower them with praise and encouragement all along the way.  Build a positive connection between praise and chores.  And if you have one of those kids that thrives on praise, but you find it hard to find something to praise them for, when you do find something, use it over and over.  Tell them all day what a great job they did making their bed.  Tell Dad (in front of them) what a great job they did making their bed when he gets home.  You can even bring it up again weeks later.  Praise what you can, over and over.


And when you feel alone in your quest to have peace and a clean house, remember that you’re not alone.  There are so many of us out there that are having the same challenges you are.  Our goal is to raise responsible, capable children and that happens one chore at a time.