Quote of the Week

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

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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