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Thursday, March 28, 2013


Before you do something rash … stop and think. Seriously. Stop, take a deep breath, walk away and think…

Think about the consequences
Think about the lasting impression your action will cause
Think about the domino effect you’re about to cause.

In a word … THINK!        

When we act impulsively, we are normally acting on emotion. We are doing what feels good at that moment. A lot of times though, if we had stopped to think about it, we’d have realized that it won’t feel good later … when those pesky consequences rear their ugly heads.

Sure, it felt good and extremely satisfying to tell your boss off and quit. After all, she’d had it coming for a while. Now, though, when the landlord is looking for the rent and the utilities need to be paid and the job search is moving at a snail’s pace, you begin to think that maybe you should have kept your mouth shut.

Yes, you were angry. The Significant Other was really getting on your last nerve and the guy at the club was hot. The only think hotter was the tryst you had after the club closed. Now, in the cold light of day, with that itch you can’t seem to scratch, you’re thinking twice. The plus on the stick will definitely complicate things, … especially since you’ve managed to smooth things over with the significant other.

Of course, it doesn’t have to be that serious. Maybe you didn’t think too much about getting some gas, after all, you were about to be late. Now, as you sit on the side of the road waiting for AAA, you’re going to be really late.

Impulse and emotion can be good. A little impulsivity can be fun and add a little spice to your day. Emotion can be exactly what you need to get you to take the actions you need to take. Put the two together though, and you have a combustible situation. And a lot of times, you create a situation that will definitely blow up in your face.

Thinking makes a difference.
  • You were upset at your boss’s latest rant but you thought about it. You didn’t act impulsively, but you used the emotion you felt and used it to fuel your job search. Several months later, you resigned and started a new job. And all the while, you’re bills were paid on time because you kept that paycheck.
  • You were flattered by the hot guy at the club but kept it at the flirtation phase. Now you are itch free and not a future guest on the Maury show.
  • You looked at your gauge on E and decided to stop at the gas station. As you filled up, you called and let people know you’d be about 10 minutes (and not over an hour) late.

We need start putting in the pause, before we act. You can’t un-ring a bell or put the toothpaste back in the tube. Likewise, you can’t take back harsh words or ill-planned actions.

Try one of these three things if you feel as if you are about to act impulsive and emotionally.
  1. Take a walk to clear your head.
  2. Step away from the situation. Go to another room, the bathroom, outside or even to your car.
  3. Call a friend to vent and let them talk you down (but remove yourself from the situation first).

Monday, March 25, 2013

Making the Most of Each Day - Don't Hesitate, Delegate!

In this four-week series, we will look at how to make the most of each day by making the most effective use of the one commodity we all share – time.

If you want it done, do it yourself is the mantra of the women (and men) who do too much. A more accurate mantra would be, it you want to be overworked and over-stressed, do it yourself! It is easier to have everything under your control but it is neither realistic nor healthy. For your sanity, you should delegate.

I know what you are saying, “Karyn, I don’t have time to show anyone how to do it (whatever it is).” If you have another objection, it might be, “I could show them how to do it but they probably won’t do it right.”
My short answer to both questions is “Yes.” Now, allow me to elaborate.

Yes, you are right. It does take time to show someone how to do something. However, the time you take now will save time down the line. Invest now and reap the benefits later. Make sure to schedule your training when you have a little extra time. If you are facing an impeding deadline, it isn’t the time to train anyone. For a simple task, give the person you’ll be delegating to the opportunity to observe you and ask questions. This might be all you need to do. For more complicated tasks, get a pen and paper and jot down the steps you are taking as you go along. This way you won’t forget anything. Share your instructions with your delegatee.

Yes, you are right. There is a good chance that the new person won’t be as wonderful as you are in completing the tasks. Then again, maybe they will be. The question to ask is “Do they have to be that great?”Sure your hospital corners are immaculate when you make the bed, but when your son makes his own bed, do they have to be so pristine? You may be a better cook but is your husband’s food edible enough for him to make dinner one night a week? Is it okay if he orders out? The key here is patience, flexibility and realistic exceptions.

Here are some additional tips for delegating.
  • Be clear. Know exactly what tasks you are delegating and how often you want them done. Make your expectations and your instructions as clear as possible.
  • Show some flexibility. As the saying goes, "There is more than one way to skin a cat." Focus more on the outcome than how that outcome was reached. Give the person you're delegating to a little freedom to complete the tasks his way. As long as it's right, it usually doesn't matter what means were used to reach the end.
  • Have a balanced approach. Be it kids or co-workers, if you are delegating a number of tasks, don't just pass off the dreaded tasks, pass off some tasks that might be interesting, or dare I say it, even a little fun!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Karyn Cooks: Shrimp Rolls

I recently purchased a new cookbook. If all of the recipes are as good as the first one I tried, then Cook This, Not That is going to be my new favorite. The authors take a lot of everyone's favorite restaurant meals and create a tasty, healthier version you can make at home. I decided to try the Shrimp Roll. This is a cheaper and healthier version of Uno Chicago Grill's Lobster Sliders. Pricey lobster and fatty butter are replaced with more economical shrimp and a little bit of Olive Oil Mayo. The recipe is simple and the results is amazing.
You'll Need:
1 lb cooked shrimp
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
2 Tbsp minced chives
2 Tbsp mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp hot sauce (we like sriracha)
Salt to taste
4 hot dog buns (top-loading buns from Pepperidge Farm are best)
How to Make It:
*Mix the shrimp, celery, onion, chives, mayo, lemon juice, hot sauce, and salt together in a bowl, stirring to carefully incorporate.
*Heat a cast-iron skillet or saute pan over medium heat. Add the hot dog buns and toast until the sides are nicely browned.
*Divide the shrimp mixture among the rolls. Garnish with chopped chives, if desired.
Makes 4 servings
Cost per serving: $2.96
300 calories
9 g fat (1.5 g saturated)
470 mg sodium

Monday, March 18, 2013

Making the Most of Each Day - Got Pockets?

In this four-week series, we will look at how to make the most of each day by making the most effective use of the one commodity we all share – time.

It would be wonderful if we had large blocks of time. We could really get a lot done if we had an hour or two or even more to devote to getting organized, study, clean, spend time with loved ones, write, read or indulge in a hobby. It’s rare, though, to have that kind of time on your hands. The sad thing is that we sacrifice a lot based on something that really doesn’t have to be a problem.

You have time. Trust me, you do. You just don’t see it because you don’t have great big boulders of time, you’ve got small rocks, pebbles even. However, if you use these small blocks effectively, you’ll be able to find a couple of larger rockers and even the occasional boulder.

  • Want an extra 30 minutes? Wake up 30 minutes earlier or go to bed 30 minutes later. Use half of your lunch time to get things done.
  • Got 15 minutes? Use it. A quarter of an hour can be enough time to get some cleaning, straightening, or organizing done. Fifteen minutes of filing or cleaning out your email box can get a lot done. I even write sometimes in 15 minute increments. It isn’t a lot of time but done consistently, it can make a big difference.
  • Have just 5 minutes? Five minutes is enough time to return a few phone calls, especially if you are just have information to communicate and don’t have to have a conversation. Leave messages. Call work colleagues before the work day begins, at lunch or right before you leave work. Call family and friends during the work day.
  • Drive much? Use your time in the car to return phone calls (Use your hands free headset. Safety first!). This is also a great time to catch up on the news or listen to an audio book. It could be a good idea to turn off the radio or music and use the silence to recharge and get a moment to yourself.
  • Dog Gone It! I return a lot of phone calls while walking the dog.
  • Use Your Smartphone Wisely. On my Android, I have apps for most of my bills, and my bank. I also have apps that let me check the weather, get movie times, create and update a task list and a calendar for appointments. While I never advocate this while driving, this can be an excellent use of your time when you are standing in a long line, on breaks at work or waiting at the doctor’s office or at the mechanics. Recently, I paid several bills on the train ride to my salsa lesson.

Using the time you have is empowering and effective. It’s a great feeling to know that you are getting things done and saving time to boot.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Maintenance Matters

My 2007 Mazda 6 is approaching a milestone, 100,000 miles. In honor of this occasion,  the dealer sent a notice that it is time for my 100,000 mile maintenance. I've been pretty good (but far from perfect) in maintaining my car. I had a Hyundai a while back that lasted half as long as it should have, not because it was a bad car, but because I was very bad with the maintenance.

I started thinking about it. Like cars, there are a number of things in our lives that require maintenance.

Relationships: Some relationships require constant and consistent maintenance. Children, significant others, even co-workers can require daily care and feeding. Other relationships don't need quite as much but some is required. There are friends and family that you connect with regularly. However, those you communicate with infrequently are important as well. With these relationships, it's all about quality of contact rather than quantity. Neglect in this area can fracture relationships. Marriages can end in divorce and relationships with children, parents and siblings can be irreparably damaged.

Finances: Maintaining or repairing your credit, paying your bills, stashing some money away for savings and putting some aside for retirement are ways that you can maintain a positive relationship with your money. Money matters. When your relationship with money sours, often so does your mood and your relationships.

Home: Even if you aren't a home owner, maintaining your home is important. It doesn't need to be spotless but a livable level of clean and organization can go a long way to making your home comfortable and relaxing. Making small repairs, surrounding yourself with nice and personal decor, and investing in home or renter's insurance are also forms of home maintenance. I firmly believe your home should be a haven, a place where you always feel welcome. You should feel at home in your home!

Health: It should go without saying that you have to maintain yourself. This means regular doctor and dental check-ups but it goes further than that. Taking care of yourself through exercise and eating right counts too. However, 'health' goes further than the physical. You also need to make the effort to maintain your emotional, mental and spiritual health.

I learned my lesson with the Hyundai. Maintenance is important. It might seem inconvenient or like something that can wait, but a little maintenance now can go a long way towards preventing problems later.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Making the Most of Each Day - Get It Together!

In this four-week series, we will look at how to make the most of each day by making the most effective use of the one commodity we all share – time.

In 2005, The Independent conducted a study on how people spend their time. Ten minutes were spent each day hunting for keys, five minutes looking for the TV remotes. Seven minutes rummaging around for socks and shoes. About four minutes was spent for glasses and other accessories. Of course, there is also time spent every day looking for electronic and paper files, lost email messages, not to mention kid’s toys and other items. Roughly 30 minutes a day is spent looking for things. Could you use 30 minutes a day? I’m sure you could!

In my book, Get It Together Girl: A 28-Day Guide to Practical NOT Perfect Home Organization, I spend one day talking about finding homes for the homeless. It’s always a good idea to volunteer or donate to a charity and homelessness is a great cause but that isn’t what I’m talking about. Everything that people spend time looking for should have a designated place.

This isn’t rocket science. All of these items should have a place that is easy to use and that makes sense.

Keys: The way my house is designed the front door and garage door are side by side. I found a small table with one drawer that fits between the two. My keys and the dog’s leash go into that drawer. That’s all. It works because it’s by the door and it’s convenient to put my keys in it when I walk in or get the leash out when we’re ready to take a walk.

TV Remotes: These go at the end of my coffee table on the side where I usually sit. When I sit down, I can reach them easily. No matter what happens during the evening, the remotes are there when I turn off the TV.

Clothes and Glasses: Every night, I take a few minutes to lay out my clothes for the next day. My glasses go on the end of my dresser.

At work, I have a folder for items that need to be filed and I use a variety of folders for electronic documents and emails.

Most mornings for me are pretty stress free. Time spent looking for items is time wasted and time spent stressed out. Granted, since it’s just me it’s easy to do this. But, I’ve tested this with friends who have children from toddlers to teens and it works. In fact, getting your kids to find places for their homeless items is a great habit for everyone in the family to develop!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Longer Days Are Almost Here!

I'm a big fan of Daylight Savings Time! In the winter months, when it gets dark so early, it is hard to get motivated to do much of anything after work. It's cold. It's dark. You just feel kind of blah! However when DST rolls around you don't just have more sunlight, you also get warmer weather and I love that too.

Here's a thought. What will you do to take advantage of the extra sunlight. Take an evening walk. Take the kids to the park? Engage in more 'retail therapy'? Venture out to some new restaurants? Participate in some concerts in the park or in some other activities that happen outdoors? Whatever you decide to do, do something!

However, the first few days of adjusting to losing that one hour of time can be difficult for many people, so here are a few tips to make the transition a little easier.

  • Start Tomorrow: Reset your clock on tonight and begin getting up an hour earlier on Friday and Saturday.
  • Begin with the Sun: When you wake up, open the blinds and get some sunlight to get your body and your mind used to the start of the day. In the evenings, dim the lights and allow your mind to prepare for sleep.
  • Get Active Early: Try to get in a short morning walk or sometime during the day, get out and work out outdoors. Don't indulge in late workouts though, as they can affect your sleep.
  • Stop the Naps: While the urge to sneak in a few minutes of shut eye sounds tempting, this can make it harder for your body to adjust.
  • Watch What Your Eat and Drink: Eating late and going to sleep isn't the best idea. Having all that food to digest will make it harder for you to get good sleep. And, contrary to popular believe, a drink (alcohol) before bed isn't a good idea either. While it might help you get to sleep, alcohol makes it more difficult to stay asleep as the night progresses.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Making the Most of Each Day - What Matters Most

In this four-week series, we will look at how to make the most of each day by making the most effective use of the one commodity we all share – time.

I’m a big fan of Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. My favorite habit (yes, I have a favorite!) is Habit 3: Putting First Things First. The Habits are designed to be mastered sequentially and this one comes after learning to be proactive and to begin with the ending in mind. By Habit Three, the reader is ready to start living their priorities. This is the time to bring the most important things to the forefront.

In order to put first things first, you have to have the time. What things am I talking about? Exercise, eating healthy, quality time with family, friends and the significant other, prayer and meditation, professional development, hobbies, writing the Great American Novel, these are the things that we say we value but we often put aside. Why? Most often, we simply don’t have the time … or so we say. Take a moment and look up at the banner of this blog. What does it say? LOSE THE EXCUSES! More often than not, not having time is just that, an excuse.

Covey has a simple but dramatic four quadrant square that illustrates where we are currently spending our time and how we can reallocate it to make time for the things that matter most. The quadrant tracks two concepts – urgency and importance.

Quadrant One is the Quadrant of the Procrastinator. Things in this quadrant are both urgent and important. This quadrant is where we are when we are rushing to get that report in by the deadline or stay up all night cramming for the test. It is the quadrant of car trouble, and even heart attacks.

Quadrant Two I’ll talk about last.

Quadrant Three is the Quadrant of the Yes Man. Things in this quadrant are urgent but not important. We are in this quadrant when we let interruptions (chatty co-workers,  non-urgent phone calls, immediately answering non-essential emails) take us away from what is more important. Some meetings fall into this category and things that are important and urgent to others but aren’t important to us appear here too.

Quadrant Four is the Quadrant of the Slacker. Things in this quadrant are neither urgent or important. Some time spent surfing the net, watching TV or napping is a good thing. We all need down time and relaxation. However, if you are spending too much time here, it is a problem.

Quadrant Two is the Quadrant of the Prioritizer. Things in this quadrant are not urgent but they are important. This is where we should spend more of our time. This is the quadrant of planning, relationship building, exercise, planning, and prevention. The lack of urgency sometimes makes these important tasks take a back seat to Quadrant 1.

However, spending more time in Quadrant Two reduces the amount of time we spend in the first quadrant. A little planning and time management and the adrenaline-filled rush to complete the report or the caffeine-fueled cramming session could have been avoided. A little preventive car maintenance could have eliminated the car trouble. It’s possible that making time to exercise, prepare healthy meals and visit the doctor, the heart attack might not have happened.

We can also work on spending less time in Quadrants Three and Four. Begin managing your interruptions. Hold people who drop by to a time limit. Let them know you have five minutes or so to talk and then you have to get back to work. Five minutes later, give them a better time to continue the discussion, if necessary. Use technology to your advantage. Check your Caller ID and voicemail. You don’t have to answer every phone call. Return calls when you have the time. Likewise, set a time to return emails. Use the flag feature to keep them from falling through the cracks.

It is easy to end up spending too much time in Quadrant Four. After all, time flies when you are having fun! Give yourself a set amount of time for your activity and then use a timer to reinforce that.

Make the time for the things that matter most. This is where life is lived and memories are made.