Tag Archives: business

Need more hours in your day? 3 Easy steps…

16 Feb

I remember days gone by when I wished for more hours in my day… no matter how I tried to rearrange things, I just couldn’t find all the hours I needed to get everything done. By the end of the day, I was exhausted and spent, and my kids did not get to see me at my best on many occasions.

These days, my children are grown and I watch around me as more and more people are in the same predicament that I was – and are equally harried and stressed.  For them and you, I present “3 Easy ways to create more hours in your day”.

1.   Reduce your load…Stop doing things that do not really matter

While you may feel that everything you do during the day from paid work to laundry to helping with homework to driving to soccer practice to …. (100 other things!) are essential for you to do, I disagree.  When I recall everything I did for so many people, I realize that they might have seemed essential (especially to me), but I know that there were things I did simply out of a sense of duty.  One way to figure out what you can stop doing that does not really matter is to stop doing something and then see if anyone misses it.

For example, I call several friends many times before they return my calls (if they ever do).  Once I stopped calling them (which I had done more for myself if the truth be known), some did not call me at all – I discovered that the “friends” do not miss me, and as a result, I can spend my time pursuing relationships that really matter.

For another example, tasks like dusting are one of the “mom” type duties that we often think must be done to avoid what others might think or say (such as a mother-in-law).  But if you stop doing dusting or do it only 1/2 as often, the results may not be noticed.  Voila!  Time saved!  Make a list of everything you do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis and see if there is anything that is non-essential, immaterial or that you can cut back on the frequency with which you do them.  You may be surprised to find out that there are things you do to satisfy your inner critic and no one else really cares.  So, stop doing these things!

A friend once told me “You can come over to my house and even write your name in my dust, as long as you don’t date it!”  I realized then that the process of dusting was less important than spending time with my children.  I stopped dusting so often, and surprise, no one noticed!

2.   Outsource what can be done more cheaply by someone else (and help another person in the process!)

Once you have pared down your list in #1., figure out what other things could be better done (from both a financial and emotional standpoint) by someone else.  You can outsource and win just like the big corporations!

For example, if mowing the grass is on  your list of “must do’s” and it takes you 2 hours to do it weekly, consider that a neighborhood teen may charge as little as $10. a week to mow your grass AND clean up the clippings!  Are your two hours worth more than $10. (let alone the sweating and stress it may cause you?) If the answer is yes, do yourself a favor and give the teen a job to mow your lawn – you will both benefit.  This single act gives you 2 hours to do something else!

If, however, you love to mow your lawn (I know people who do!), then find other tasks on your list where it might be more efficient to outsource the work to someone who wants and needs the work.  You will both benefit and be happier!

3. Accept help when it is offered

Too often those of us who are self-reliant and independent “cut our noses to spite our face” by not accepting help when it is genuinely offered.  Our misplaced sense of pride and feelings that we might “owe” someone who helps us – can actually work to our detriment!

When someone offers to aid you with something that would help you stretch your day, accept the help!

As I mentioned in a earlier post (The more you give, the more you … give) – the acts of giving and receiving  are not coupled.  So, if you feel that you would owe someone when they give to you, think about all the times that you give freely to others.  It is about time that you allow others to give back – especially when they are not the same people who have received from you.

These are three easy steps to more hours and more happiness.  Best of all, they come at little or no cost (especially when you factor in the price of your own heartbeats and hours you save!)  Prioritize your time, follow the steps, and let me know what happens in your life.

Have a great weekend!

Carol

Let’s stop being wasteful – in consumerism and in life!

9 Aug

I’ve had a great summer with more beach time than I can recall in recent years. It’s funny how peaceful and contemplative we can become when we sit still and listen to the repetitive lull of the waves lapping at the shore.

Times at the beach lead my mind to wander and wonder – about all sorts of mundane things… like what’s the point of so much consumption of “new” products when yesterday’s products still work?

Last week when I was in New York City, my daughter and I visited a few clothing consignment shops (formerly called second-hand stores) and I realized just how much greener our society could become if we all decided to reuse, recycle, and restore.  It was amazing how good were the clothes as the shops showcased next-to-new clothing, gently worn, at a fraction of the original price!  Some of the pieces still had the tags on them!  Why do we keep churning out miles and miles of new textiles when the ones already fashioned are still wearable?

As I was thinking, it occurred to me that another “wasteland” is in our heads… Have you noticed lately how people love to plant “waste” in your psyche with negativity the minute you mention something good has happened?  I have “friends” who chide me about wearing fashionable black nail polish that I love (“you’re not really wearing that color to work are you? That’s not professional!”) or who project jealousy through my clothing choices (“I don’t think your shirt really looks all that good with that skirt”) or who can’t wait to disparage a new interesting person in my life (“why would he like YOU?”).  When you stop to consider what  a waste of time and energy it is to: 1. listen to them at all; and 2. to allow their negative waste to invade your good day!

My new “recycling campaign” is to repeat and reinforce positive ideas in my head so that I can spread GOOD cheer and not “fertilizer” (aka waste).  I would be ashamed to say the things some people say to me!

Today, more than ever, we need to sustain and nurture our spirits with environmentally friendly thoughts and actions – why not plant seeds of positivism and recycle good words to others today?

Have a great week!

Carol

Fear & Excitement – Two Sides of the Same Coin?

10 May

Perhaps you’ve noticed that when a new situation in life arises, you may alternate between fear and excitement of the same unknown future. Most often the fear is unfounded and excitement should prevail, yet our psyche seems to favor punishing us by hanging on to the fear.

Take a new job or career move.  How often do we allow what should be an exciting new adventure (a positive career move) digress into a set of unfounded what-if questions:  What if they find out that I can’t do the job? What if I don’t perform to the level the job demands? What if I’m not as qualified as I portray?

Yet, for all the gloom and doom this entails, we ought to be focusing on the equally positive outcomes.

We ought to ask questions like:  What if the job is too easy and I am ready for the next level quickly?  What if I exceed all expectations?  What if everyone loves my work?

As children we learn to temper disappointments long before they occur and to prepare for negative outcomes (somehow it was supposed to prevent hurt…) and to face our fears.  But seldom is it taught that one should be excited about positive outcomes – yet those are precisely what we want most.

I believe that when we feel fear in a new situation, all we really need to do is to turn it around into an opportunity where we can be excited, and watch the situation turn itself around in our minds!

For example, I’ve never moved out on my own yet I am in middle age!  Having moved from my parents to my marriage and then having stayed in my house since, it is a scary (and exciting) proposition to think about having to move and find a small apartment.  I was feeling overwhelmed at the prospect of having to clean out 4 bedrooms, an office, 3 bathrooms and a 4 car-garage all by myself and find a new place to live (who knows where?) – and I mentioned to a colleague that I was fearful of the process. His response was that it is an exciting new fresh start in my life – and never have I had the opportunity to make decisions for me alone.  “How incredibly excited you must be” were his words.

That’s when I realized that Fear and Excitement are often two sides of the same coin.  From now on, I prefer to nurture an outlook of excitement! How about you?

Have a great week,

Carol

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How Green can One Become?

15 Mar

I have been an advocate of recycling for most of my life – having grown up in Canada where it is simply a way of life.  There was never a question of throwing out a beer bottle in the trash because we had paid a deposit on its use (10 cents a bottle) which you got back when you returned it to a recycling depot.  Homeless people collected cans and bottles because they could be turned in for cash.

When I first moved to Florida 16 years ago, I remember calling the Garbage utilities and asking why the county did not have a solid recycling program – especially for glass.  “Why we dispose of our garbage in a much cleaner way than recycling, ma’am” she started, “we incinerate it!”  I was surprised by the response but took slight solace in the fact that it seemed that at least recycling had been considered.

Today, every business wants to appear earth-friendly and conservation conscious.

The “Green” movement has done much to encourage recycling, but I am still amazed at the wild consumerism we enjoy – even in times of conservative spending.  All one needs to do is to visit a thrift shop and a Wal-Mart on the same day to see just how much “stuff” feeds our consumer society.  Instead of reusing, we buy. Instead of recycling we toss. Instead of buying used, we buy new.  Second hand stores nationwide feature working used items, yet we often prefer to buy new and unused.  I wonder where all this stuff will end up.

I was reminded of the disposable mindset many of us have when I my printer broke down last week – it would scan fine, but just wouldn’t print.  When I mentioned this to a friend and noted that the printer was about 7 years old, she told me to toss the printer as it had outlasted its useful life.  “In fact, I’m lucky if I get two years out of my printers” she added.  Instead of prematurely retiring the errant printer, I called my brother who stepped me through clearing out the software print spooler.  The printer responded and I saved at least 10 pounds of trash going to the landfill.

Here’s a few ideas to become a “greener” person – just in time for St. Patrick’s Day:

  • Use both sides of a sheet of paper – and create a recycle bin of one-side used paper;
  • Collect paper waste (newspaper, bulk paper, envelopes, cardboard, etc.) and take to a recycling center
  • Save clean glass jars and take to your local elementary school art class (to use while painting)
  • Use old towels to wash your car or in the garage as shop towels
  • Use the cardboard inserts from toilet paper rolls (cut in thirds) to keep soil intact for growing seedlings
  • Compost vegetable waste in a backyard container for later spreading on plants
  • Use discarded coffee grounds to enrich garden soil
  • Ask for paper bags instead of plastic at your grocery, then use them to store waste headed for the compost. (Toss the bag and waste daily onto the compost heap)

What other ideas have you found to become more “Green”? I find a bit of hope for the future when I can conserve and reuse the resources we consume. How about you?

Wishing you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Carol

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80/20 in life is PDG (Pretty Damned Good)…

25 Jan

8020You may have heard of the 80/20 rule – and it is applied to business and life situations where 80% of problems are attributable to 20% of the causes, or 20% of effort leads to 80% of the profits. There are many variations on the theme.

When I was talking to my friend Karen last week, she spoke of one client whose negative energy was bringing her down.  After regaling about the problems, I asked her what percentage of her income he was generating and the answer was small.  We purposely misapplied the 80/20 rule and concluded that out of her total client base, 80% of her clients were wonderful, yet the other 20% brought her down.  For some reason, negative people and situations, even when they account for a small percentage of our life, can dominate our day.

The 20% or less of our life that is obnoxious, monotonous, boring, or downright unpleasant should never steal our happiness with the remaining 80%!  Maybe it is our negative press (80% of front-page news is negative) or our upbringing (the word “No” dominates childhood) – but we need to get over this preoccupation!

Consider how much brighter your life would be by focusing on the good 80% and forgetting the rest?

Imagine for a minute an open meadow of gorgeous wildflowers – what do you see?  It is easy to see that the flowers are beautifully enhanced by the greenery and weeds.  If the field had entirely weeds or entirely flowers, the beauty of the flowers would be diminished.  It is the greenery that makes the flowers stand out.

wildflowers

Now, what if you only looked at the green and saw that it was a mismatch of greenery and weeds?  With such a focus, you might even miss seeing the flowers all together.  We do this when we miss the beauty in life in favor of the crap.

If you don’t believe me, start tracking what happens to you during your day – how many neutral events happen that you don’t really notice (these are like the greenery), how many truly negatives occur (these are like the noxious weeds), and how many joyous moments (the flowers) are in your day?

Rebalance your day

If the balance is off, and you see more weeds than flowers, what can you do to do about it?  Think of ways to increase the moments of joy in your life? Did you miss counting some of the joyous moments once a negative came into play?  Maybe you could frequenting positive eating places where you feel good, drive to work via the scenic route, or rearrange your day to enjoy more of the sunset.  Anything that increases the positive moments is good.

At the same time, figure out if and how you can reduce the negative moments in your day.  By changing the balance of positive to neutral and negative is enough to change your entire outlook.

Most of life ranges on the neutral to positive side and we need to recognize them. Just like my friend who fixated on the one negative that brought down her otherwise positive day, we need to focus on being grateful for the good.

Do not extend a negative by “bringing the negative person home to dinner” figuratively (sometimes we dedicate more time to reliving the event than it took in the first place)!

A wise man told me years ago – never waste even a single precious heartbeat on anyone who does not matter.

The story of two monks
(paraphrased)

I am reminded of the story of two monks from an order that banned contact with women. As they were walking by a pond one day, they came upon a woman crying on the shore.  She was finely dressed in a long dress and was despondent that she could find no way to the other side where there was a family wedding. The first monk expressed sadness and said there was nothing he could do. The second monk picked up the woman and carried her across the pond holding her high enough so her dress stayed dry.

For the rest of the day, the first monk scolded the second about how he had broken his vows about touching a woman, and would owe repentance on their return.  Once they reached home, the second monk finally had enough of the tirade and said to his friend, “sure I made a choice to touch the woman by carrying her across the pond for 10 minutes. I can live with that.  But how can you live with the fact that you carried her around with us for the entire day?”

Even though the 80/20 rule refers to inputs versus outputs in process, (eighty percent of results come from 20% of the efforts) – the idea to focus on 80% of our day that is good, and disregard the other 20% is a valid concept.

If you can imagine every day being an 80/20 day – that is pretty damned good!

Have a happy, productive day!)

Carol

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Will work for…

12 Jan

I know that it takes fortitude to ask for support.

I don’t know about you, but the new millennium is strange:  everything I grew up to expect in life is upside down; jobs are not guaranteed, home ownership is no longer an investment, the middle class is shrinking, and homelessness is no longer the domain of a few downtrodden souls.  Here in Florida, the number of unemployed continues to rise monthly (Florida leads the nation in both unemployment statistics and real estate devaluation) and I am thankful to have a roof over my head.

While there are buskers who pretend along with others who may not deserve a handout, the benefit of the doubt has graced people I’ve seen with signs or an open hand.  Maybe it’s my upbringing, but I find it difficult to pass by without giving them something.  I often think “There but for the grace of God, go I,” were it not for good luck and education.

Have you seen how creative some of the signs have become?  It seems that today even the homeless compete for dollars (did you see the story about the New York person whose sign “Need money to buy weed” brings in close to $500 per shift?)  This was not the society I was raised to inherit – yet I find that there is little security today.  Here at the crossroads of mid-life, neither friends nor I wasted away savings or quit jobs; we are challenged because of downsizing and business cuts.  Do you see the same things occurring where you live?

As a young engineer who graduated in the 1980’s,

I was fortunate to have job choices and options – there were more jobs than applicants!  For years, I could move freely between jobs progressively up the ladder.  It was also easy to start my business in 1994 and to make a profitable living.  I had no idea how lucky I was then or over the next six years when I was able to support a freelance team of 5 people.  I kept my team gainfully employed with generous salaries for several years and life was good.  During this time, I could have advised other young women on how to build a profitable business easily and quickly — even though my secret was that I was in a niche and high demand market.

Since then, life has changed – business changed and contracts slowed, and today my clients want short-term (less than a week at a time)  project management and software metrics training.  I deliver high energy knowledge transfer in my speaking and consulting engagements, but the work “pipeline” remains low.  It is frustrating to have good health, an excellent reputation and skills, yet have open blocks in my calendar.  When I look at who I was with a highly successful business and who I am today, I am the same person of high integrity, but with more experience, credentials, and compassion.

Finding contracts online or via job boards is no longer a reality as anyone with a computer and a mouse can click their way to applying for technical jobs.  The key to finding work today is through connections – successful job seeking is based on who you know not what you know.

So, it is with humility that I say “will work for…”

I definitely need more speaking engagements and contract work!  Will you help me by referring me to your superiors, colleagues, and friends when you hear that they need a speaker or an instructor for their upcoming event?   I speak on topics ranging from project management to making technology a success to software measurement. In addition, I can be a spokesperson for your company at conferences to bring traffic back to the trade show floor.  My fees are reasonable and I am willing to travel internationally.

Recently my keynote speeches included the International Project Management Association Global Congress (Nov 2010 in Istanbul Turkey) and the International Function Point Users Group annual conference (Sept 2010 in Sao Paulo Brazil).  I deliver workshops on software measurement and quality topics throughout the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Over the past 10 years, I have spoken in  25 countries including Asia, Australia, and South Africa.

Thank you in advance for your leads and kind help. My passion is speaking and consulting — I work best with companies who want to improve their business with technology. Please me email (dekkers@qualityplustech.com) or visit my other blog at http://musingsaboutsoftwaredevelopment.wordpress.com for more information.

Thank you, I am grateful for readers like you.
Carol

websites: http://www.caroldekkers.com and http://www.qualityplustech.com


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Should I stay or should I go?

7 Dec

Today marks the 100th post

on this blog over the past 2 years… and as people typically do when there is a landmark, I feel like celebrating in some small way.

But, before I do, I’d like to ask you to venture back with me, about where The Dekkers Report started, where it’s going, and whether it is even worthwhile to continue.  I started writing to have a dialogue with you – readers known and unknown – about current affairs (things like Technology Barbie, Bullying, etc.), and to express my thoughts (and elicit comments) about  everyday life happenings.  From my writer perspective, the blog has done that – I know that I’ve meandered through a variety of topics and ideas and thoughts, but I don’t have a real sense on whether it really has connected with any of you.  (Is this the curtain call?)

Evanescence - The Open DoorI thank you for the various comments I’ve received over the 2 years, they have kept me writing when, at times, I’ve felt that I had nothing real or worthwhile to share.  Your responses and comments have been valuable and insightful – I appreciate them all.  So, having done 100 posts, I’m at a crossroads. Readership is small (that can be a good thing) and growing ever so slowly (a writer needs to increase readership!) I could continue to use creative energy to keep penning my thoughts a couple of times a week, or I could funnel it into something else and chalk it all up to an experiment in blogging.

So, I’m going to put it out to you:  what do you think – should I stay or should I go? Do you get anything out of my posts?  Can you think of any compelling reason that I should continue with The Dekkers Report?  Or should I pack it in and spend my energy elsewhere?  Are there any topics that are (or have been) worthwhile to you?

If no comments come back on this post, then the writing is on the wall and the masses will have spoken with resounding silence…

Here in Florida our temperatures are dipping down into the teens (F) tonight so it’s a chilly week here in the “Tropics”… stay warm and healthy wherever you are!  I’m going to celebrate with a spiced latte.

Carol

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