“I’m So Busy…” Efficient Time Management

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” 

We draw wisdom from the genius of Socrates. The structure and organizational skills of the masters inform and educate us. In 1906 two giants, one American and one European developed theories and plans to increase productivity and enhance time management.

In the 1906 in Western Europe a French/Italian named Vilfredo Pareto set out to study the distribution of wealth in Italy and found that a few families owned most of the wealth of the country. More specifically he found that there was an imbalance in that 20% of the families owned about 80% of the wealth creating an unequal distribution. Pareto was an economist but he also noted that 20% of the pea pods in his garden contained 80% of the peas. Others found this to be the case in many situations and many countries so the 80/20 rule was formulated and ultimately named after Pareto. It became a rule of thumb after it was obvious that 80% of a company’s complaints came from 20% of its customers and 80% of a company’s sales come from 20% of its sales staff.

The 80/20 Pareto Rule in relation to time management: there is imbalance in what we do and what we achieve. 80% of what we achieve comes from 20% of what we are doing. Therefore, that is the equivalent of getting everything done in just one day of work and the rest of the week only tiny amounts get done. This is a major concept and one worth intense study.

The concept or principle applied means spending more than 20% of your time on what really matters creates better time management resulting in a huge amount of increased productivity in both your personal life and business work programs. The trick here is identification of what matters and application of prioritization to omit imbalance.

In 1906 in America a Princeton University graduate named Ivy Lee was setting the stage for becoming the founder of American public relations and publicity. In the process, his methodology created amazing productivity in the workplace. Mr. Lee established a philosophy called Declaration of Principles and along with his business partner George Parker they formed Parker and Lee one of the first public relations firms in America. Parker and Lee met working for the Democratic Party in the Presidential Election of 1904.

Lee was first hired and worked for the Pennsylvania Railroad, then was hired by Charles M. Schwab. Mr. Schwab was president of Bethlehem Steel. Mr. Schwab asked Lee to consult on better productivity at Bethlehem Steel. It was at this point Mr. Lee who was operating his own corporation developed and introduced the Ivy Lee Method. Ivy Lee was so confident of increased productivity that he made the deal with Mr Schwab not to pay him for three months and only if the method worked effectively.

The Ivy Lee Method of increased productivity and Time Management:

  1. At the end of each day write down six tasks you need to accomplish tomorrow.
  2. Prioritize these tasks in order of importance, not if they are easy or fun.
  3. When you begin focus only on the first task until you complete it.
  4. Repeat the rest in order from the list.
  5. Move anything not completed to the next list.
  6. Repeat the entire process.

Mr. Charles M. Schwab sent Ivy Lee a huge check three months after implementing this plan at his corporation. That check for $25,000 would be equivalent to half a million today. Mr. Charles M. Schwab is not Charles R. Schwab from the brokerage fame. What are the odds of two men with the same name becoming billionaires?

Time Management:

  1. Ponder the organizational skills needed to increase productivity.
  2. Visualize the tasks to be completed.
  3. Prioritize the plan.
  4. Metacognitive techniques and routines should be incorporated.
  5. Procrastination needs to be omitted or controlled.
  6. Clear the chatter in your head: meditate and single task.

 

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Princeton Architecture

Princeton University was founded in 1746 initially to train Presbyterian Ministers. The campus moved from Elizabeth to Newark operating with the name College of New Jersey until settling in at its present location in Princeton, New Jersey in 1896. As a university it is considered to be ranked one of the top five institutions of higher learning in the nation. Princeton University has educated two United States presidents, twelve supreme court justices, five chairs of the Federal Reserve, sixty-three Nobel Laureates and eight secretaries of state.

The university was named after British William III of the House of Orange-Nassau and the colors remain orange and black for team sports with a tiger as the mascot. In 1768 Princeton University President John Witherspoon changed the direction from educating ministers exclusively to training American leaders. In 1969, Princeton University admitted women and allowed women in the eating clubs during the early 1990’s. Some of the notable graduates include: Bill Bradley, James Madison, Woodrow Wilson, Aaron Burr, Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Jimmy Stuart, Jose Ferre, Brook Shields and Will Stanton.

The pictorial focus of this blog is on the architectural style of the buildings that are found on the campus in 2018.  The early style of High Victorian Gothic is still found in a few of the oldest structures. It features the use of polychrome multi color decorations.There are also some Romanesque Revival in style with simple rounded arches and windows, but Princeton University now favors Collegiate Gothic. Collegiate Gothic has a rectangular plan with pointed arches and recessed entrances. Enjoy our photos.

National Natural Landmark: Boulder Field

In a remote area of Eastern Pennsylvania in the Appalachian Mountains there are 16 acres of rock formations dating back to saber-toothed cats from the last ice age. The boulders that make up the huge field some of which measure 25 feet long, appear upon arrival to be a dry lake but it is so much more. It is also not a glacial deposit, but rather according to geologists the result of freeze-thaw, frost and gelifluction from over 20,000 years ago. However, the most extensive ice sheet to cover the area containing this boulder field occurred prior to 900,000 years ago. So the freeze thaw made smaller boulders from bedrock. During the ice age the permafrost of mud and sand moved the boulders and then moved small rocks to the bottom and the larger boulders to the top.

The magnificent Boulder Field was designated a National Natural Landmark in 1967 and remains mostly as I remember it from my first visit in 1988. There are a few more trees and vegetation and perhaps in many more years the forest will again claim the area, but not in my lifetime.

Upon arrival at Boulder field there is a strong temptation to run out onto the boulders only to realize the spaces between them makes it difficult, and they do move when people hop around. Most people never make it out more than ten feet from the forest but many locals in fact seem to negotiate a walk right down the middle without effort! My photographs use examples of the two primary rock formations. The first found in Boulder Field is Quartz Conglomerate. The other prominent one is Red Sandstone have various shades of red caused by iron oxide rust.

Boulder Field is located in Hickory Run State Park in Pennsylvania. The area also includes Sand Spring Lake and Hawk Falls and some of the best hiking in the Poconos.

Your Happy Pill (Guest Blog)

Excerpted from DDworkouts.com


The Iron is the best antidepressant I have ever found. There is no better way to fight weakness than with strength. Once the mind and body have been awakened to their true potential, it’s impossible to turn back.” – Henry Rollins

First, let’s define “depression,” as I’m sure it means different things to different people.

Excerpted from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3674785

Depression as a mood state is characterized by feeling sad, discouraged, or unhappy, while depression as a clinical condition is a psychiatric disorder in which diagnostic criteria require five or more depressive symptoms, one of which must include either depressed mood or loss of interest or pleasure along with at least four other depressive symptoms including significant weight loss, sleep disturbance, psychomotor agitation or retardation, fatigue or loss of energy, feelings of worthlessness or excessive guilt, diminished ability to think or concentrate, and recurrent thoughts of death.

There are mountains of scientific literature that support the efficacy of exercise in the treatment of mood disorders that can be access via PubMed. An article that can be found here http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC474733/ compiles findings from several years of studies on the benefits of exercise for clinically depressed patients. I found the following section to be particularly concise:

“Exercise appears to be an effective treatment for depression, improving depressive symptoms to a comparable extent as pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. Observational studies suggest that active people are less likely to be depressed, and interventional studies suggest that exercise is beneficial in reducing depression. It appears that even modest levels of exercise are associated with improvements in depression, and while most studies to date have focused on aerobic exercise, several studies also have found evidence that resistance training also may be effective. While the optimal “dose” of exercise is unknown, clearly any exercise is better than no exercise. Getting patients to initiate exercise —and sustain it – is critical.”

Now, I’d like to focus on two specific points from the above paragraph…

  1. “Getting patients to initiate exercise — and sustain it — is critical”
  2. “The optimal “dose” of exercise is unknown”

I’ve said over and over again to clients and anyone else that would listen, that if there’s one common thread between healthy, fit people, it’s consistency. Really, nothing else matters nearly as much, as long as you show up when you’re supposed to show up and conduct yourself in an intelligent manner that’s suited to your objectives. This becomes especially critical in formulating a plan that is aimed towards goals of not only physical health, but also mental health.

My keys to improved consistency in exercise are:

  • Learn workouts that you can do at home. If you get home from work at the end of the day and driving 10-20 minutes to the nearest large commercial gym full of juiceheads isn’t your idea of a good time, there are plenty of ways you can get to work in your living room. I dealt with the topic of home based workouts here: http://ddworkouts.com/2014/01/30/snowed-in-workout/
  • Learn workouts that you can do outdoors. A park or your backyard is ideal because being in the great outdoors is, in itself, an excellent mood enhancer. The possibilities for outdoor workouts are limitless. I love to use my imagination when devising them: http://ddworkouts.com/2014/04/01/the-art-of-improvisation/
  • Pace yourself. Work hard, but don’t work so hard in a single session that you have to take the rest of the week off. This bring me to my next bullet point…

Let’s address the mythical “optimal dose.”  There are few words in the fitness domain that are as misleading as “optimal” — one of those corporate-america style buzzwords bandied about to make the speaker sound more sophisticated than he or she really is. The truth is that you and I could perform the exact same training protocol for a year and end up with completely different results. Individual physiology will always thwart our best attempts at arriving at a one-size-fits-all workout program for this purpose or any other.

I’ll deal directly with the issue of proper exercise intensities for mental health.

It’s important to keep in mind that when performed at elevated intensities, exercise causes systemic stress to the body. In fact, the generally agreed-upon symptoms of over-training are very close to the symptoms of clinical mood disorders.

Here are a few..

  • Change in sleep patterns, difficulty sleeping
  • Increased number of sickness and/or injuries
  • Lack of enthusiasm
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Irritability

See what I mean? An over-trained body will end up worse off, resulting in undesirable effects. This means that extra care must be taken not to employ “get ready for the beach” style workouts if your goal is overall health and mood enhancement.

Then, add about 30 minutes of low intensity cardiovascular exercise a few days per week, such as walking, bike riding, kayaking, etc. When I say “low intensity” I mean employ a pace that gets your heart rate up but doesn’t force you to breathe out of your mouth. If you start huffing and puffing, take the intensity down a bit. Remember that consistency is key and that for the purpose of mental health, a workout should leave the trainee feeling energized instead of exhausted afterwards.

Finally, my advice for advanced trainees who want to make progress in the gym while staying/getting happy:

  • Minimize overtraining risk by stopping most sets a rep or two short of muscular failure.
  • Spread out the workload so you’re performing workouts more frequently, but with the overall volume distributed over more training days. When you’re in a bad frame of mind, I find it’s better to do more “light” days and take fewer days of complete rest. Rest days mean you’re going to sit around feeling sorry for yourself, so get in the gym five or six days per week.
  • Get adequate sleep, but try not to oversleep. The right amount of sleep is highly individual, but make sure you’re going to bed at about the same time and waking up at the same time. If you need more sleep, go to bed earlier rather than sleeping in.
  • Eat more protein. Trust me, just do it.

Sources

Is Exercise a Viable Treatment for Depression?” James A. Blumenthal, Ph.D., Patrick J. Smith, Ph.D., Benson M. Hoffman, Ph.D. ACSMs Health Fit J. 2012 July/August; 16(4): 14-21.
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3674785/

http://www.oldtimestrongman.com/strength-articles/iron-henry-rollins

Blue Blood

Sometimes when you are doing something as simple as walking on the beach there appears an unexpected opportunity to learn profound things about the world and its humblest inhabitants. My dear Uncle Al joined me on such a walk many years ago. On a sparsely populated area of the New Jersey shore we came upon dozens of small male and larger female horseshoe crabs mating in the warm May weather. The females were laying their eggs in the moist sand. My Uncle, who had been an observer of this process for years, explained that these pre-historic rituals dated to around 1/2 billion years ago adding to the paradox of this primitive arthropod known affectionately as a living fossil. He gently lifted one to show me the structure of the crab, carefully avoiding the tail, not because it could harm him, but rather because of the importance of the tail in enabling them to turn over. If the tail of the horseshoe crab is damaged, the little fella would not be able to maneuver and flip. The horseshoe crab, a misnomer, is not really a crab at all, but rather an arthropod and invertebrate with no spine.  Horseshoe crabs have fascinated me ever since that first encounter.

The eggs that survive grow and  molt many times until fully grown. The eggs that are eaten by shore birds are part of the ecological balance and are amazingly important to human quality and quantity of life. If fewer horseshoe crab eggs are available as a result of diminished populations, then the Red Knot birds in Delaware, New Jersey and South Carolina also end up on endangered lists. The significance of this is the effect on both declining horseshoe crabs and medical science. As it turns out the horseshoe crab provides a life saving liquid used in biotechnology that affects anyone who has ever been to the doctor or a hospital, which is just about all of us.

The liquid which at present only comes from the horseshoe crabs around the world,  has to be harvested in laboratories. The horseshoe crabs are taken from the beaches and brought to labs, turned on their sides and an instrument to draw the blood is attached near their hearts. One quart of this precious liquid is valued at fifteen thousand dollars. The crabs are then returned to the sea usually within the three day period because the gills need to remain moist. It is estimated that between 15-30% are so stressed they don’t survive. Looking at both perspectives or the middle path it becomes increasingly obvious that the labs are doing everything possible to insure the survival after returning them to the sea. The researchers are also working around the clock to produce a synthetic alternative to bleeding the crabs. The value of the liquid blue blood is so important to medical science because anyone receiving a routine injection at the doctors office or injectables for insulin, knee replacements or the routine use of hospital instruments is safer from the potential of life threatening infection thanks to our little horseshoe crab friends.

The horseshoe crab swims on its back for most of the year to migrate to sand or mud. In the spring, several males fertilize the female eggs and after many years they grow and molt and emerge almost in the same area where they were born. They have survived millions of years due to their protective blood stream which prevents the ocean bacteria from killing them off like 90% of other pre-historic creatures. The horseshoe crab, unlike vertebrates have no hemoglobin. They use hemocyanin to carry oxygen and due to copper in hemocyanin their blood is blue.

The technical process includes an understanding that Amebocytes from the blood are used to make Limulus Amoebocyte Lysate (LAL) which in turn is used to detect bacterial endotoxins in medicine. They detect E.coli, for example, on the medical instruments and devices mentioned earlier. The gram stains normally used can not detect and do not recognize endotoxins leaving medical technology no choice but to use this method.

In addition the careful handling of the horseshoe crab harvesting is set by law in the states of NJ, SC and Delaware and they help fund the research of a synthetic compound. Finally, it has been suggested that feeding the little guys a diet high in copper before release might help reduce the stress and the loss of 30% of their blood supply during the process. It is certainly worthy of research by the scientific community.

So, as we walk along the shores with our children and grandchildren it might be interesting to teach our future leaders the respect, compassion and value to human life that Limulus polyphemus, the “American” Horseshoe Crab provide to all of us.

~Nora D’Ecclesis


Dance of the Peacock Spider

Entwined together…

There is a small spider less than a centimeter found in Australia called the peacock. The male peacock spider dances for love by chasing the female with a series of abdominal thrusts and producing an ornately colorful fan off his tail. He moves his appendages in what looks like a dance of perhaps a creative traffic cop’s arm movement  to offer direction to drivers.

Several males dance for one female simultaneously and when they sense she lacks interest and obviously rejects them, they flee quickly to avoid being her lunch! The one lucky male who is accepted by the female is not much better off because after mating she devours him anyway.

The initial attraction is charged with all the attributes of the most profound infatuation in life, the in love at first sight moment. The twin flames are madly in love and the rest of the world is of little importance. Human dating is a dance, ritualistic by cultural norms and loaded with rejection, insecurity and yes, peacock strutting. It either produces moving into relationship and joy, or abandonment and rejection. Thankfully, human dating rituals don’t end in a New Jersey trip to the Meadowlands swamp. 

https://www.amazon.com/Twin-Flame-ebook/dp/B073L5155D/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8