Quote of the Week

"One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty councils."
- Woodrow Wilson

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Don’t Time Block Too Far Ahead

When I started getting into time blocking, I had to fight back the urge to sit down at the beginning of the week and block off time days in advance. Of us who start off each morning with a game plan, know that plan can be thrown out the window within hours. Not to mention what was the top priority at hour one, may not be the top priority by hour two.

What I’ve found that works for me is following the below steps:
  1. Block off the time on my weekly calendar for the important meetings already scheduled.
  2. If any of the meetings require prep work, block off the appropriate amount of time before the meeting.
  3. Make a list of my priorities for the week.
  4. Block off time Monday morning to work on the top item(s) on my list.

I usually leave the first half hour of the morning open to allow time for the miscellaneous tasks waiting for me when I get to work. Process email, etc. I will also leave a half hour or an hour free space between and time I block off for meetings or focused work to allow time for everything and anything else that might need my attention.

Leaving gaps between my blocked time allow me to handle the small fires that might pop up before they turn into raging infernos. The gaps also allow flexibility with my blocked timed as well. If I'm making great headway on a task, I can keep the momentum going for another half hour. Or if I've made enough progress on the task, I can still keep that momentum going by pulling in the next task that I have time blocked off for later in the day.

I try to limit the time block scheduling to only the next work day when planning ahead. As I mentioned above, I'll save time to prepare for meetings, or if I have a specific due date for a project. But over all I follow the same routine.
  1. Plan out a day that morning or the night before.
  2. At the end of the day, start planning the next day base on what I got done and what new priorities emerged.
  3. Next morning, fine tune the night before's plan if required.

As tempting as it can be, try not to plan too far ahead of yourself. It will lead to frustration. Time management has to be a bit fluid in order for it to work. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

Time Blocking At Home

Turning off all distractions for a half hour or hour of uninterrupted work does not have to only happen at your work. This can be a powerful tool for home too.

At a scheduled time on your calendar turn off the phone, TV, and email; then spend a half hour tidying the bedroom. Or schedule an hour to give your undivided attention to a loved one.

I know of people who make a calendar appointment to play with their kids. This seems very cold and mechanical. But is it cold to make a conscious effort to focus all your attention to your child, or is it cold to pay half attention to your child and half to responding to a text message from your boss?

Monday, December 16, 2019

Time Blocking Works and I Can Prove It to You in Half an Hour

No matter what your profession or your personal life is like, we all have tasks or projects we've been falling behind. Something always comes up to get in the way.

Time blocking, as in making an appointment for yourself on your calendar can help. If you doubt me, I challenge you to prove me wrong with just a half hour of your time.

Either professionally or at home; think of a project or task that you've been meaning to complete and need to complete, but haven't yet. Now find an open half hour on your calendar and block it off to focus solely on that task.

When the time comes, turn off your smartphone, turn off your email, mute your desk phone, and focus all of your attention for that half hour on the task at hand. If you work in an office environment, reserve an open conference room for yourself if one's available.

You will be amazed at the amount of work you can get done in that mere half hour.

Now just think what you can do if you can block off a half hour or an hour every day.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

The People You Surround Yourself With

The saying goes that you're a combination of the five people you spend your time with the most.

George Washington said: "Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company."

There is also a saying about avoiding negative people, for they will bring you down to that level.

But what if that negative person is trying to "associate with men of good quality" and you're one of them?

Make sure you don't hold someone back who is looking for your help. Just make sure your help is what they're after.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

If You Want the Truth, Just Wait a Minute

"We should always allow some time to elapse, for time discloses the truth." ~ Seneca

Seneca, the great stoic philosopher, as some great quotes if you do a quick Google search. The above is one of my favorites. We all need to slow down at times.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

Five Years, Five Minutes. Keep the Big Picture in Mind

We have all let something minor ruin our whole day, or week, or even longer.

Someone cutting you off in traffic. A snide remark from your egotistical department manager. A team member who missed a dead line due to lack of effort. There are countless examples.

Some small thing that shouldn't matter, and in the end doesn't matter, drills into our brain and we can't let it go. I am guilty of allowing this to happen to me. Stress allow.

"No one's happiness but my own is in my power to achieve or to destroy"

The above powerful mantra from the classic Ayn Rand novel Atlas Shrugged ring true for all of us. Don't allow the actions of others to destroy your happiness.

Recently I was introduced to the Five By Five Rule. If it will not impact your life five years from know, don't spend more than five minutes being upset by it.

Easier sad than done. Trust me. But give it a try. When you catch yourself stewing over a snarky comment, step back for a moment and ask yourself how will that impact me five years from now?

Chance are it has zero impact. That should give you some motivation to be the better persona and take full control of your own happiness.

Monday, December 9, 2019

Thank God its Monday

Thank God its Monday. Now that's something you never here, but you should.

Everyone looks forward to the weekend, two days. But few look forward to the work week, five days. Can't we all get more enjoyment out of five days than two?

They say if you do what you love for work, you'll never have to work a day in your life. But is it really all or nothing? Do you have either love your job or hate it and be cursed to spend your time only looking forward to the weekend?

I consider myself fortunate. It's Monday and I get to go back to work. Do I love my job? No, I do not. I also don't hate it. There are many things about what I do that make me excited to go back to it every Monday.

If you can't be excited about returning to work today, do something about it. Everyone's first thought is that in order to truly enjoy their work, they would need to change jobs. I don't think that is really require.

Maybe all you need to do, is change your view of your current job. Look for one thing that you truly enjoy about your work. Then build from there.

Friday, December 6, 2019

Next on the Reading List: Indistractable

Next on the Reading List: Indistractable. The book just arrived from Amazon the other day and I can not wait to start this one. Click the above Amazon link to learn more.

The author, Nir Eyal,was recently interviewed on the Art of Manliness podcast on my way home, and order the book as soon as I got home.

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Be Cautious of the Self Proclaimed Leader

Unfortunately, "leader" has become a workplace buzzword.

We have all seen the infographics comparing the characteristics of a boss to a leader, or management to leadership. They are meant to show there is a distinct difference between someone in a managerial role that has true leadership traits, and some who is simply in a position of power based solely on education, experience, and/or seniority.

However instead of inspiring people in positions of authority with marginal leadership capabilities to strive for self improvement. This trend of rebranding managers as leaders is simply that too often. Just rebranding. The same poor management, just call leadership by the poor managers.

Seems many think if they simply call themselves leaders enough it will be true. It won't. Bad bosses will remain bad bosses, regardless to what they decide to call themselves.

Be cautious of the self-described leader. Too often they are a mediocre manager at best that has a shelve full of business books they've only skimmed through enough to pick up that "leader" is what the successful people call themselves. Only they are not actually doing what makes a true leader a leader. Once again there are no shortcuts on the path.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Learn to say no, so you can do more by doing less

It's a problem I have. I have a difficult time telling people "no" when they asked me to participate in a project, or for my help. Part of the reason is I don't want to seem uninterested in their project or selfish with my time. Also, chances are if they're asking to participate, it's something I'm good at, familiar with, and or enjoy.

I know I am far from the only one with this problem. It is at least partially why so many of us struggle to find the time to get all things we want to do, done. We are simply over loaded.

We need to remember that it's okay to say no, and we all need to say it more often.

It's can be hard to not offer others your help. But when your help takes away from the tasks and projects you are responsible for completing, you suffer.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Start a Morning Routine

For a long time I've been reading and hearing how a solid morning routine can have a positive impact on your productivity. It always made sense to me, but I never took the time to implement one.

I was always the type of person to lay in bed until the last possible minute and end up rushing out the door with my hair still wet from the shower and the last bite of my breakfast still in my mouth.

Over the years I have became more of a morning person. But I still did not embrace a deliberate morning routine.

About a year ago that changed. On a whim, I decided to give it try.

  • Rise out of bed at or before a set time.
  • Stretch and exercise for a few minutes.
  • Read.
  • Plan my day.
Right away I saw results. I was more organized and focused. I got more done in the morning, whether at work on the weekends. I noticed I was getting more out of my most precious and nonrenewable resource: my time.

Over the last year or so, my morning routine has been refined and improved to better meet my needs. My only regret is that I didn't start focusing on this years ago. 

But I guess self improvement is like planting trees. The best time to start is twenty years ago, the next best time is right now.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Take Control of the Work Week Before It Starts

One of my Sunday routines is to create the new weekly spread for my bullet journal to plan out my work week. I list out my scheduled meetings that I know of at this time. I list out my goals for the week and tasks that need to be completed, and I tentatively block off time for those tasks.

Of course I need to make updates throughout the week. Sometime within the first hour or two of Monday morning. But I still have a plan. I still have control.

I have been starting out the same basic weekly spread on Sundays for over a year and a half now. I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that this practice has been a major boost to my productivity and has helped me manage my time much more efficiently than in the past. Having my goals, tasks, and priorities laid out in an organized manner makes all the difference in the world.

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Professional Lessons From History

Currently I am reading a well written and researched biography of man who played an important role in our Nation's war for independence. A man I never heard of until recently.

Fortunately I have some free time over this Thanksgiving holiday, for I have found this book difficult to put down. Baron de Steuben was a very interesting man who had a major impact on our newly formed army.

Besides being an entertaining biography piece, this book highlights some good examples of leadership skills (and things not to do) from the key subjects of this book; Baron de Steuben, General Washington, General Charles Lee, and others.

Click the below Amazon link for more info on this book. If you like American history, this may be a must read for you.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Don't Fail Twice in a Row

The self improvement book I am currently reading is Atomic Habits by Jame Clear. I’ve heard James on several different podcast before and found him to be a very intriguing guest. So it really was just a matter of time before I would read his book. While I’m only two thirds of the way through as I write this, I would (and have) recommend giving this book a read.

One key item that I took away and have already started to implement into my daily life is the strategy of “don’t fail twice in a row.” Often many of us are doing well with a new goal or habit, only to miss up once then quit. We get into the routine of going to the gym everyday. Then we miss one day, and never return. We go a few weeks eating healthy but forget to bring our lunch to work, then it’s back to getting something from the drive thru.

So many times we are making improvements to our lives and we hit one bump that sets us back into our old ways. Self doubt is quick to take advantage of a minor setback.

This has been the biggest issue with me sticking to a written budget. I end a month by sitting down and writing a budget for the next month. I take the time to note all my planned reoccurring expenses. I look through my calendar to make sure no quarterly or seasonal bills sneak up on me. I start the month with a solid plan and the confidence of knowing I will be telling my money where to go, instead of wondering where it went.

For a month or two I stick to my budget and track my spending diligently. Then sometime mid month I slack off a day or two recording my spending. Then self doubt walks in, I throw up my arms and say “oh well, maybe I’ll try again next month to stick to a budget.” Does that sound familiar?

For me, that’s where the “never fail twice in a row” philosophy comes into play. Earlier this month the above scenario happened to my budget. Last weekend I lost a pocket full of receipts and didn’t keep track of the cash in my wallet. My first thought was “oh well, guess I’ll try to stick to a budget again next month.” But then I decided to try the alternative I’ve learned from the Atomic Habits book.

The next day I went back to tracking my spending. Yes, my end of month numbers of my written budget may be off. But I kept reinforcing the habit of tracking my expenses. Which is more important at this point than the accuracy of my written budget vs. my checking account. I can reconcile the bottom line when I start next month’s budget. What I gained is a few more weeks of consistency with being better at keeping my budget.

Don’t fail twice in a row! Remember this the next time you sleep in, or miss the gym, or don’t go for that run. One miss won’t stop you for reaching your goals as long as you don’t miss again right away.

Click on Image for Amazon Link

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share this on social media, or directly with anyone you think would enjoy it.
Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more On The Path content.

Sioux Scout
If you're into backpacking, hiking, hammocks, bush craft and other related things, I have a YouTube channel dedicated to that. Please check it out: https://youtu.be/IzIfJNC9RCo

Thursday, March 14, 2019

My Professional Bullet Journal's Weekly Spread Part 1

For the six months or so, I've been using a weekly spread in my work bullet journal. It's been refined several times to fit my personal needs through trial and error.

The format of this weekly spread has pretty much stayed unchanged for months now, so I thought I'd share it. It might work for you as well as it works for me. Or, it may give you some ideas to make some that works better for you.

Amazon Links to the Bullet Journal items I use and have mentioned:

Bullet Journals
Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll https://amzn.to/2ELmLU9
Official Bullet Journal by Leuchttrum 1917 https://amzn.to/2SG0o5W
Dot Grid Notebook by Leuchttrum 1917 https://amzn.to/2C2umvE
Rhodia Goalbook Dot Grid Notebook by Rhodia https://amzn.to/2ELk8BB

Fountain Pens
Pilot Metropolitan Fine Nib https://amzn.to/2EIwnyG
Pilot Metropolitan Medium Nib https://amzn.to/2Uq16pC
TWSBY Diamond 580 Extra Fine Nib https://amzn.to/2Tba0Lk

Fountain Pen Ink
Noodler's Walnut https://amzn.to/2XDo1QH
Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun, Rigor of Winter, Cool Gray https://amzn.to/2EIFgIO

Monday, March 11, 2019

Why I Have Two Bullet Journals

In late summer 2018, I started keeping a Bullet Journal and I wish I started keeping one sooner. While I've been a note taker pretty much my whole life, I've never really have been an originated note taker.

Discovering this simple method of journaling has changed that for me. Keeping a Bullet Journal has make noticeable improvements in all aspects of my daily life. That is not an overstatement. Many coworkers have commented on it and have ask me about the notebook I carry with me everywhere and how it works.

With my example, I now have a few coworkers trying the method out. Even a few Team Leaders have talked to me about it and how they want to get their teams using the method or something similar. That may be a good idea by the Team Leaders, but this is different something that won't do you much good, unless you truly want to try it. Kind of like making your spouse go on the same diet your excited about. If the excitement isn't shared, all involved will soon be unhappy.

I won't bother reinventing the Bullet Journal wheel by explaining it here. Below is the YouTube video by the inventor of the Bullet Journal Method, Ryder Carroll that got me started. Check it out and it should all make some sense.

After about a month of keeping a Bullet Journal, I knew it was a habit I was going to keep. I also came to the conclusion that, for me anyways, it would make more sense to keep two separate Bullet Journals. One for my day job, and one for everything else.

Now using the Bullet Journal method in it's purest form, one really should keep one journal. The whole point of it, is to have everything collected and organized in one place. One simple notebook to keep your shit together. So, have two Bullet Journals inherently has some drawbacks.

The main drawback of having two Bullet Journals is, well, having two Bullet Journals.Two notebooks to carry around, and maintain. Has fate would have it, when you think of something to jot down or need to look up, odds are the notebook you need may not be the one by your side.

No doubt individual results may vary on this topic. But for me, the advantages are more than enough to counter the hassles of maintaining two journals. 

1) A defined separation between my personal and professional life.

The boundaries between our personal and professional lives are very blurred in today's world. Some of us are answering work emails & text messages at night, while taking care of family schedules through out the work day. It can be difficult to keep boundaries between your two lives. Keeping two separate Bullet Journals can help. 

When you flip through your personal Bullet Journal, you mind isn't flooded with all your meeting notes, pending tasks, and appointment schedule for work. When you flip through your professional Bullet Journal, your not distracted by your grocery list or you kid's upcoming soccer game schedule.

2) Keeping reference information archives where they will be needed.

One my favorite parts of keeping a Bullet Journal, is that over time you can build a fantastic reference library of idea, meeting notes, lists of things that went good or bad, etc. I keep my filled professional Bullet Journals in a desk drawer at work. More than once I've gone to an old journal to look up some notes on a project or some general ideas that were discussed in a meeting months ago. If I kept everything in one Bullet Journal, I would have to wait until I got home that night to look up the information.

3) Having a separate profession Bullet Journal will help keep your personal life personal.

Besides keeping a defined separation between your personal and professional lives when you flip through your Bullet Journal looking for information; having two separate journals helps keep your privacy. 

When you flip through your Bullet Journal in a meeting to find some project notes, you may not want others in the conference room see your fertility tracker spread; or that your taking next Tuesday afternoon off for a job interview and not for your kid's dentist appointment like you told your boss.

4) A professional Bullet Journal can keep the work moving when your not in the office.

Keeping a well organized Bullet Journal up to date with open tasks, detailed meeting notes, etc. can help others on your team stay on top of your workload when your out of the office. Before I go on a vacation, I go over notes, tasks, etc. related to each project I'm working on with my project team members, along with my boss. I leave the Bullet Journal on my desk for their reference. This actually works.

So those are the reasons why I keep two Bullet Journals. The idea may not be for everyone, but it does work for me.


For more on the Bullet Journal Method, I can't recommend reading Ryder Carroll's book enough!
- Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carroll https://amzn.to/2ELmLU9 

The notebooks I use for Bullet Journals

Official Bullet Journal by Leuchttrum 1917 https://amzn.to/2SG0o5W
Dot Grid Notebook by Leuchttrum 1917 https://amzn.to/2C2umvE
Rhodia Goalbook Dot Grid Notebook by Rhodia https://amzn.to/2ELk8BB

The fountain pens I use with my Bullet Journals

Pilot Metropolitan Fine Nib https://amzn.to/2EIwnyG
Pilot Metropolitan Medium Nib https://amzn.to/2Uq16pC
TWSBY Diamond 580 Extra Fine Nib https://amzn.to/2Tba0Lk

The fountain pen inks I use with my Bullet Journals

Noodler's Walnut https://amzn.to/2XDo1QH
Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun, Rigor of Winter, Cool Gray https://amzn.to/2EIFgIO


Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share this on social media, or directly with anyone you think would enjoy it.

Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more On The Path content.

If you're into backpacking, hiking, hammocks, bush craft and other related things, I have a YouTube channel dedicated to that. Please check it out: https://youtu.be/IzIfJNC9RCo

Monday, March 4, 2019

I Think Pot Should Be Legal, Just Not Legalized By Our Government

Another quick YouTube video on a current hot topic.

Link to the YouTube video: https://youtu.be/54sEtklgfqI

To summarize my ramblings:

  • I don't use pot
  • I wouldn't use pot if it was legal
  • I don't care if anyone else uses pot (legally or illegally)
  • Yes, I think its a "gateway" drug, just like alcohol is a "gateway" drug
  • I still think it should be legal, just like alcohol is legal
  • I think it is an unneeded burden on justice system (cops, prosecutors, defense lawyers, judges, jails, probation case workers, etc have more important things to take care of)
  • I don't want our current State or Federal Governments to legalize it, simply because they'll screw it up
If you agree with me or not, please feel free to comment below. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share this on social media, or directly with anyone you think would enjoy it.
Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more On The Path content.

Sioux Scout

If you're into backpacking, hiking, hammocks, bush craft and other related things, I have a YouTube channel dedicated to that. Please check it out: https://youtu.be/IzIfJNC9RCo

Sunday, March 3, 2019

SFD Responder Ankle IFAK: Great Option

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to get back into the habit of carrying medical gear on my person at all times again. It was a habit I picked up, but soon fell out of.

As I went into briefly in my Happy New Year! post I am a proponent of carrying some medical gear on you whenever possible. Accidents and bad things can happen at any time, such as natural disasters, car wrecks, etc. Having quick access to items like gauze and tourniquets can truly be a life saver.

The problem I ran into was wear to have it on me. Even the most compact trauma kit I bought would take up an entire front pocket of my pants. Now I could work with this, but it just became an inconvenience that I didn't learn to overcome. Over time I went from carrying a small trauma kit, to just carrying a tourniquets (which was still way better than nothing) to back to not carrying anything again.

Then I started looking into ankle kits. Basically all they are is a soft wrap that goes around your ankle with pockets to secure some basic items. This seemed like the way to go, since I could keep a decent amount of medical at location that was out of the way, yet easy to access.

As I was researching this option, I came across this video on Byron Childers YouTube channel.

Byron and Dana McLendon start discussing ankle worn medical kits in general, then they compared the SFD Responder, that Dana has, to the brand I was considering buying. This video made up my mind to get the SFD Responder and I have no regrets. I now carry some trauma first aids basics all day everyday comfortably. 

If you are of the mindset of having the right gear to treat traumatic injuries near you, this may be a product you would want to look into for yourself.


Happy New Year!  Blog Post
Safer Faster Defense Website

Amazon Soft T Wide Tourniquet
Amazon H&H Compressed Gauze
Amazon Israeli Bandage 

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share this on social media, or directly with anyone you think would enjoy it.
Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more On The Path content.

Sioux Scout

If you're into backpacking, hiking, hammocks, bush craft and other related things, I have a YouTube channel dedicated to that. Please check it out: https://youtu.be/IzIfJNC9RCo

Monday, February 25, 2019

Benchmade Outrage

While I've been working behind the scenes preparing to grow this blog, I might have jumped the gun a little. One of my ideas to direct traffic to this blog is to post a YouTube video regarding a current hot topic, disable the comments on the video and provide a link to a post here on the same subject.

A topic has come up that, even though I don't have everything in place here, I really couldn't pass it up.

Recently the knife company Benchmade has gained a whole lot of attention from the gun community it really wasn't looking for. Right wrong or indifferent, due to a FaceBook post from the Oregon City Police Department, Benchmade is getting a ton of heat from Pro Gun people.

For me at this point, the heat is a bit over the top. People (like people these days do) are reacting emotionally with very little information, or arming themselves with just the data that is aligned with their preconceived notions, based on their initial emotional reaction to reading the very first headline on the story.

It's sad that this is the way we are. Instead of taking in all the data and coming to a logical conclusion, we choose to just fly off the handle. Sometimes our first reactions are correct. Unfortunately sometimes they are not. And when the real truth comes to light, we still refuse to accept it.

More on Why I'm Making This Style of Video

Attached is the video I made to drive traffic here.The audio is poor and so is my delivery. My arms are flying, my head is bouncing and I'm tripping over my words. That's another reason why I'm starting to make videos to go along with this blog. I am a train wreck in front of the camera. Just like most people. Also like most people I will improve the more I do it. So I'm going to improve this over time. Bare with me, or just skip the first 100 or so videos...

Something I Forgot to Say in the Video

One point I originally was going to make in the video, but forgot during the recording, is the Oregon City Police were going about things the wrong way from the very beginning.

In a damage control post to their Facebook page, they stated that Benchmade was not against firearms, but were merely helping out the Police Department by destroy firearms that were turned in by citizens who didn't want them, or were evidence in criminal cases and could not legally be returned. Fair enough. I'm sure that was per the Department's bylaws.

But there is a better solution. The Police Department should simply resell them.If some anti-gun resident turned in their Grandpa's old deer rifle because guns are scary to them, by all means, they should give them to the Police so they can sleep better at night. But why destroy the gun? The Police could have a firearms auction and Grandpa's pre-1964 Winchester Model 70 30-06 could be bought for a song by someone who would treat it right.

An anti-gunner gets rid of a scary gun, someone who would value and treat that firearm correctly gets a great deal, the Police Department makes a few extra bucks for being the middle man, and a perfectly fine rifle doesn't get hacked up by an angle grinder on loan from a knife company that now gets to spend a fortune on PR spin doctors to recover from bad publicity.

Same goes for guns used in a crime. The crime was committed by the criminal, not the gun. Let's put the gun that was once in the hands of a bad guy into the hands of a good guy. But hey, that's too simple. Instead of making money for the department, let's just hack them up.

If you agree with me or not, please feel free to comment below.


Link to YouTube video: https://youtu.be/cDD23EGuvAQ
Link to my original "I Boycott Boycotts" blog post: http://www.shanelien.com/2013/07/i-boycott-boycotts.html
Amazon link to the Benchmade knife I most likely will buy: https://amzn.to/2GZpKtr

Thank you for taking the time to read this. Please share this on social media, or directly with anyone you think would enjoy it.
Follow me on Instagram and YouTube for more On The Path content.

Sioux Scout

If you're into backpacking, hiking, hammocks, bush craft and other related things, I have a YouTube channel dedicated to that. Please check it out: https://youtu.be/IzIfJNC9RCo

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Jumping into the Deep End

Every once in a while, I tell myself I need to put more effort into this blog. Every once in a while I listen to myself. This is one of those times.

Over the past few weeks I've start writing down some ideas for blogs and videos for my dormant YouTube channel. Now the time is right to start putting things into motion. I've setup a little temporary video studio in the corner of a spare room and today I recorded a few short videos and intros for others.

My YouTube channel will be like this blog has been over the past few months. Mostly focused on self improvement and productivity. But I will throw in a few other topics I'm interested in. Such as firearms & firearms training, diet & exercise, habit building, and my views on current social & political topics.

Nothing that all typically belongs on one YouTube or blog, for it doesn't foster rapid growth being not focused on a particular subject. But I my life isn't concentrated on one subject, so neither should my personal blog or YouTube channel

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Image is Everything

We in the middle of a large remodeling project at the company where I work. We are in the process of converting on of our plastic injection molding bays into a Class 7 and a Class 8 clean room for molding and assembling drug delivery devices for the medical industry. A lot of work has been done already moving equipment, removing existing infrastructure such as HVAC, plumbing and electrical hook ups for the equipment that was there. 

Not only are we building clean rooms in the existing structure of the production bay, but the outside hallway is getting a face lift too. More windows are being installed to allow staff and guests to view the activities within the new clean rooms without the need to scrub down and dress up in the "bunny suits" that will be required to enter the rooms. Also the cinder block exterior wall of the bay is being covered by sheet rock.

The building of a wall to cover a wall has many here shaking their heads. To them, understandably, it seems like a waste of the company's resources. But I see the reasoning. Remember the Cannon camera commercials from the early 1990's? The ones where tennis star Andre Agassi would say the tag line "image is everything." There is some truth to that premise.  Well, a lot of truth.

Having a potential customer looking into a pristine clean room where a team of workers are completing complicated tasks using complected equipment to produce complicated product should be impressive enough. But there is a difference between viewing that scene from a hallway with clean lines, and a hallway of painted cinder blocks with support I-Beam protruding out a few inches every so often. The sheet rock wall simply looks better, cleaner, more thought out. Intentional. 

Whether we are willing to admit it or not, appearances do play a factor on how we available things. We shouldn't judge books by their covers, yet book publishing put a lot of time and effort into creating their book covers. This goes for us as individuals too, and not just books or hallways.

But let's not get overboard into appearances and image. Perhaps a better slogan would be "Image is everything for a good first impression." Back to the hallway example, our company could have the nicest looking, cleanest and will organize facilities and equipment in the world; and those things would beyond a doubt help bring our desired customers in the door. But the customers we seek won't stay if we cannot deliver superior goods and services on time and on budget. 

Anyone can clean up and look good. Many have the hard skills to meet or exceed what a customer or employer expects. The few that do both effortlessly are the ones are have a major advantage.

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Monday, January 7, 2019

"Analog Deep Work" with a Bullet Journal

Recently I've decided to do some things the old fashion way. Such as handwriting some of my blog posts with pen and paper. So far I've found several advantages with using this method.

Less Distractions

When I sit down to write a post on a computer, distractions are just one mouse click or notification alert away. Its so easy to momentarily lose my focus and click onto my web browser for a "quick mental break." Only to spend the rest of my time I had available for writing surfing the web.

Even when I'm behaving and staying focused at my task at hand, sometimes I can't resist the urge to check email or some other unrelated task.

Sitting down with simply a nice pen and a blank spread of paper in my journal is a simple, convenient, and fun way for me to find focus and my creativity.


Since I started keeping a Bullet Journal, I pretty much always have what I need to write a blog post close at hand; a pen and my journal. Now, when I get an idea, or a have some down time, I can start writing wherever I am. No need to power up a laptop or be near one for that matter.I have virtually no limitations as to when are where I can write. There is no need for a computer, an internet connection, power, or even a table. As long as I have pen and paper, I can write. I've had some pleasurable writing sessions on a hiking trail in the middle of nowhere, setting on the ground with my journal on my lap.


I've found that its relaxing writing with a pen and paper. In this high tech high speed world it is therapeutic to slow things down by putting pen to paper. When you enjoy doing something, it is easier to set aside the time to do it, making it a productive habit.

Productivity Habit

As other who have adopted the practice of keeping a written journal, especially a Bullet Journal, have found out; I've discovered how the "off the grid" or "analog" approach of keeping a written journal can be a boost to productively and organization.

If you enjoy writing things down in your Bullet Journal, you will use the method more. The more you use the method, the more organized and productive you can become.

Not Just for Blog Posts

I'm finding that using my Bullet Journal for writing is far more useful than just for drafting idea for this blog. I've started using it for many personal and professional tasks. I draft emails, outline presentations, and schedule my day. I take meeting notes and compile action items and task lists from the meeting notes.

I get a fair amount of "deep work" done with my Bullet Journals due to their ease of use, reduced distraction format, and the simple enjoyment I get from writing with a good pen and a clean spread of quality paper.

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

Budgeting 101: Write It Down Before You Fail

With the New Year upon us, many have made a resolution to do better with their finances. In a few short weeks, many of us in the States will be receiving our W2 forms from our employers. It can be extremely frustrating to see exactly how much money we earned over the course of the year when we compare that number to the balance of our checking and savings accounts. As financial expert Dave Ramsey often says "if you don't tell your money where to go, you'll wonder where it went." For far too long I was in the camp of wondering where it all went.  It goes without saying the one of the cornerstones of financial independence is spending less than you make. We all know this, but many of us struggle to except it. The key to keeping your spending in check is having a written budget. That is the hard part. 

The first month (or months) you keep a written budget can be very tough. Just like diet and exercise, many of us jump in with both feet and go strong for a few weeks with a budget, then go back to our old poor habits.  I believe the main reason keeping a written budget is so hard, is that it makes us see, on paper in black and white our poor habits and that generally we are not as well off as we act. Actual numbers written down on paper or a spreadsheet on your computer force people to face another one of Dave Ramsey's favorite sayings head on "we spend money we don't have to buy things we don't need to impress people we don't like." And that's a reality that is hard to face. At least it was for me. But if we stick to our goals through the pains of the beginning, we are rewarded with life improving habits. Also like diet and exercise, we can get into the budget habit easier if we start off slow and easy.

I failed more than once by starting off writing a budget that was not realist to my spending habits and needs. I just broke out what I thought I'd spend my money on into categories and jotted down a dollar amount that was basically off the top of my head. When within a week or so I already spent more than my perceived monthly allotment for groceries (or whatever) I would throw in the towel and go back to just spending money without a plan. 

My suggestion for a easy start is to simply track your spending for a month before you even draft your first written budget. Start a month out by writing down every time you spend money and what you spent it on.  Don't judge yourself, simply track yourself. This first month is a time for observation, not intervention. Use this data as the base for your first budget. If it is less than what you make, then your off to a good start. Now just look as places you can trim some fat from your spending, so you can save, pay off debt, and possibly invest. If you spend more than you make, don't panic; all you have to do is be a little more aggressive with your "fat trimming" to get yourself into the black.

If you still fail with your next written budget, try again. 


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