Category Archives: Personal Development

10 Quick and Easy Ways to Say Thank You

The woman who looks after children’s programs at our church gives out a thank you treat every week to her helpers. It’s usually a candy attached to a slip of paper, with a punny note.

For example, she tapes a Hershey’s Hug to the paper and the note says, “Here’s a hug for all the good work you do.” It’s a simple gesture. The time and money involved is small, but the recipient feels great.

Saying thank you doesn’t need be be a big production. In fact, most of the time, it shouldn’t be. “Thank you” should be a quick and natural response when someone helps you out or does you a favour.

Here are a few quick and easy ways to say thank you:

  1. Say thank you directly to the person. Tell them what you appreciate and why.
  2. Send a handwritten note.
  3. Send a thank-you e-mail.
  4. Pick up the phone and call someone to thank them.
  5. Acknowledge their effort in front of friends, family or coworkers.
  6. Print your own personalized thank-you certificates.
  7. Keep a handful of certificates for free beverages from your local coffee shop.
  8. Keep a handful of chocolate bars to give as an anonymous thank you.
  9. Bake some cookies.
  10. Take them out for dinner.

What are some other ideas? Leave them in the comments.

10 Ways to Slow Down

UPDATE: March 2020

The effects of COVID-19/coronavirus are forcing people to change the pace of their lives: self-isolation, quarantine, working from home, schools closed, and more. This is a post I wrote eight-years ago and their some good pointers as to how you can best make use of any enforced isolation.

Do you have days when you feel life is rushing by at breakneck speed? Maybe your whole life feels that way. Here are 10 ways to slow it down and help you keep things in perspective:

Stop multi-tasking.

Computers multi-task by doing several things at once When people try to multi-task, they end up doing everything poorly.

Turn off your screens, including your television.

Try going for a full week without turning the TV on. Put aside time everyday where your smaller screens -phone, tablet, computer- are turned off. You will discover that you suddenly have a lot more leisure time.

Ignore the telephone.

You don’t have to answer it every time it rings. If the phone interrupts you in the midst of doing something, let the answering machine pick it up. Most of the calls will be from telemarketers anyway. ;)

Sit.

Do it for a while; a half hour. Don’t do anything else. Just relax and let your mind drift. If you start obsessing about your job or worrying about tomorrow, stop and refocus on relaxing.

Listen to music.

Don’t make music merely background noise to another task. Sit and listen to music without doing anything else.

Keep a journal.

Take a few minutes each day to write your thoughts. Describe something that happened to you that day. You will develop a better understanding of yourself.

Take up a hobby.

Do you like to paint, take photographs, restore cars? Why not do it now Lose yourself in your passion.

Have some quality recreation time:

with your kids, your partner, a friend or your dog. Whether playing tag in the yard, going for a walk or even video games with your children, have some fun.

Have a conversation.

Head out to the coffee shop with a friend Take the time to really listen to someone else, to hear their thoughts and share yours.

Live life.

Pay attention to what you’re doing. Don’t gobble down your meal as you rush to your next commitment. Take time to savour and enjoy. As you drive from one appointment to the next, enjoy the view—even in an industrial park. Look for things you’ve never noticed  before. Get the most out of everything you do.

Track Your Goals Online

A critical part of achieving goals is the tracking.  is an online service which simplifies the tracking process. Using a simple day-based grid, you enter your goals and mark accomplishments day by day. If you want some external accountability, you can share you goals with others.

Joe’s Goals is a simple yet powerful tool to make tracking your goals the easiest part of accomplishing them. Use our simple single page interface to setup daily and weekly goals and track your overall progress and score. Setup negative goals (or vices) to confront and overcome the bad habits that finally need to get the boot.

Joe’s Goals

Enhanced by Zemanta

How to Manage Work Life Balance

Take this Work/Life Balance quiz from the Canadian Mental Health Association. It will open in a new window. Once you have your results, come back here for some tips to help you manage the balance between work and life.

In Life

  • Decide what is important. If you do not have a clear sense of your personal values, goals and priorities, you will not be able to determine which activities are important to furthering your life plan.
  • Eliminate the unnecessary. Once you have a clear picture of your life plan, drop those things that do not move your goals forward. Learn to say no!
  • Protect Your Goals and Priorities. Everyone will have an opinion as to how you should be living your life. Listening to opinions is fine, being dictated to is not. Live the life you want, not the one your parents or best friends or anyone else thinks you should be living.
  • Don’t go it alone. Get the support of family and friends. Give your partner permission to remind you when things seem to be getting out of balance. Better yet, your partner should be involved in developing your life plan.

At Work

  • Schedule brief breaks for yourself throughout the day. Your productivity and effectiveness will increase if you take short breaks every couple of hours. You will get more accomplished.
  • At the end of each day, set your priorities for the following day. Be realistic about what you can achieve in the time you have available.
  • Only respond to email once or twice a day. Then, shut off your email program to avoid being distracted as messages come in.
  • Make a distinction between work and the rest of your life. Protect your private time by turning off electronic communications.   Don’t be available 24/7.
  • Address concerns about deadlines and deliverables early. As soon as you see that a deadline is unrealistic, communicate your concern to your employer – don’t wait until the deadline passes.
  • Take all of your allotted vacation time. Taking vacation allows you to come back to work refreshed and more productive.
  • Learn to say no!

At Home

  • Create a buffer between work and home. After work, take a brief walk, do a crossword puzzle, or listen to some music before beginning the evening’s routine.
  • Decide what chores can be shared or let go. Determine which household chores are critical and which can be done by someone else.  Let the rest go.
  • Exercise. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes at a time, you’ll feel more energized and refreshed.
  • Create and implement a household budget. Start by setting aside some money from each pay cheque for the future.
  • Make healthy food choices. Healthy eating will gives you and your family more energy.
  • Pursue a hobby. Either with friends or family or for some quality time on your own.
  • Learn to say no!

In Your Community

  • Make choices. Social, community and volunteer obligations pull us in many directions. Choose the ones that are most fulfilling and learn to say ‘no’ to the rest.
  • Manage expectations. Be clear at the outset about how much time or support you can contribute to community organizations or your children’s school events.
  • Learn to say no!
Enhanced by Zemanta

A self-management checklist

Everybody faces challenges in managing certain aspects of their lives. Someone who loves to go trail riding on a bicycle will have no problems motivating themselves to exercise. However, putting aside time to sit and read might be problematic. On the other hand, the reader might have problems putting down the book and getting active.

This self-management checklist can be applied to any area of your life where you need to gain some control.

  1. Set specific goals. You can’t measure achievement if you don’t know where you’re going. Set specific goals such as: I’ll walk for 30 minutes per day; or I’ll write a 1,000 words each day; or I’ll lose 20 pounds.
  2. Set specific times. You need to determine when you are going to accomplish your goals. Work with specific times; whether it’s a deadline for a one-off project or regular times for on-going behaviour.
  3. Track your progress. Write it down. You can use a journal, a calendar, a graph or any other form that works for you. Make sure you track both your successes and failures so you can refine your systems.
  4. Set rewards or penalties. You’ll need some motivation to help you move forward. Set small rewards to mark the completion of small steps. Set larger rewards to mark major accomplishments. You might even set penalties for not reaching goals. You could, for example, make a donation to a food bank every time your weight went up instead of down.
  5. Take small steps. If you’ve been sitting in front of the TV for ten years, don’t try and run a marathon tomorrow. Changing a habit takes time and you need to start slowly.
  6. Break it down into pieces. Regardless of your readiness, if the task seems overwhelming, you may never get started. Break down large tasks in to small, logical and manageable pieces.
  7. Monitor time increments. Use a timer to help you stay on track. Set it to the best interval to help you measure your progress.
  8. Share your goals. Telling someone what you hope to accomplish can add another level of motivation. It’s easier to fool ourselves than to fool others. Tell someone what your goals and your deadlines are; get them to check on you to see if you met the goal.
  9. Have a work buddy. It’s not just enough to share your goals with someone, you need to have a buddy that can meet with regularly. Keep your goals on someone else’s agenda. This should give you an added sense of responsibility and motivation to reach your goals.
  10. Review with your buddy. Have your buddy do more than review accomplishment. Review the written track of your regular progress. They might spot patterns you don’t see and give you some help for getting back or keeping on track.
  11. Eliminate distractions. Reading through e-mail may seem productive, but it’s not going to help you read three chapters of a book. If need be, turn off the phone, shut down the computer and throw the television in the garbage.
  12. Review and rework your system. Your self-management plan may not work the first time you try it. There will be times when your self-management process falls apart. These steps are not static, but need to change and grow with you. Make time to review your process and see what changes can be made.

Some people look at self-management techniques as cumbersome, getting in the way of productivity. The truth is, if you look at successful and productive people, you’ll find some type of system guiding them. Give it a try.

7 Reasons to Volunteer

Once a month, my wife and I volunteer to visit a seniors home and conduct a church service for them. Periodically we wonder about our time commitment to these folks, but their gratitude each month helps us see the importance of being there.

If you want to make a difference in your community and in your own life, volunteering is the way to go. Here are seven reasons why you should make the commitment.

  1. To give something back to others – First and foremost, volunteering is about giving. Agencies and organization that require volunteer services are generally involved in improving society and the world around them. When you volunteer, you contribute to their efforts to improve life.
  2. To learn something about yourself – You might find out you have a knack for relating to seniors. You might have compassion when working with people during disasters. When volunteering puts you in new situations, you discover skills and traits you may not have used before.
  3. Because you have a passion – You love animals, so you get involved with an animal shelter. You’re concerned about the environment, so you join a wetlands cleaning project. You practice magic tricks in your spare time, so you entertain at a children’s hospital. Put your passion to work.
  4. To develop new skills – Get involved with Habitat for Humanity and learn how to put up drywall. Volunteer in a suicide-prevention program and learn crisis intervention. Many volunteer organizations provide training for the skills you will need to use.
  5. To have some fun – An afternoon of baseball as a Big Brother will be far more entertaining than sitting on the couch watching baseball.
  6. To improve your resume – If you’re a web designer and you volunteer to build a web site, you have a new entry in your portfolio. Volunteering in your skill areas will add experience to your resume.
  7. To feel good about yourself – Hopefully, when you decide to volunteer, it’s not with ulterior, self-serving motives. However, when you sincerely give of yourself to others, it’s amazing how good you start to feel about your own life.

It’s time to do something! Get out there and volunteer.

Enhanced by Zemanta