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Who Gets Your Leftovers?

leftoversYesterday was Thanksgiving Day here in the U.S. So today, many American families are eating leftovers.

That’s the motivation for our post. Only we’re not thinking about leftover food. We want to talk about YOU – your time, your attention, and your love.

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A time trap
This is an easy trap to fall into. See if you can relate to this:

You get up and get ready for work. You grab a cup of coffee for the road and get into your car to drive to the office. Finally, you get to work. Next thing you know, it’s time for lunch. You eat at your desk while you keep working. You look at the clock. Where did the day go? Time to go home. You rush out to your car and hit the road.

At home, you grab a quick dinner. Then you’re off for that committee meeting for your favorite charity where you volunteer. You drive home again and sit down at your computer to check your e-mail. You read that report for tomorrow’s meeting.

It’s late. You’re tired. Better get to bed.

Leftovers and scraps

You may have a different scenario, but is the net result the same? We unintentionally take for granted the people who are closest to us.

Our family often gets our final burst of energy, if we have any energy left at all. They get our leftovers.

But there’s yet another party that we haven’t considered. We may only have scraps left for this party. It’s …

You.

3 tips to give your best to the best in your life

Put it on your schedule
Treat family time like any other important activity – put it on your schedule. When you put it on your schedule, it becomes a priority. If it’s not on your schedule, it’s likely that it will get pushed aside to more urgent, but perhaps less important, activities.

Plan an activity
Now it’s on your schedule. But if you don’t have anything planned, it is easier to push it off to another date and time. So plan to do something, anything. Go to the movies. Play games. Attend a concert. Go to a museum. It doesn’t matter – if you have an activity planned, you’ll be less likely to let the day’s events get in the way of this important time together.

Make it a regular event
Now schedule a regular event every week. For example, a couple could schedule a “date night.” You and your spouse may decide that you’re going to go out on a date every Thursday evening. It may not always happen on Thursday. So “make it up” on Friday. By having it planned regularly, it’s more likely to happen sometime during the week.

We don’t intentionally neglect our loves ones or ourselves. The problem is that we don’t intentionally make time for them. The result ends up being the same.

Instead of giving our leftovers to the most important people in our lives, we should give them the main course by planning time with them just like we do everything else that’s important to us.

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We really appreciate that you stopped by today! Join us next time as we offer up a great reality check for your spending decisions. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Is Convenience Busting Your Budget?

time-money The good people at CareerBuilder recently posted the results of a survey of workers. Forty-seven percent of the people surveyed said they “always” or “usually” live paycheck to paycheck.

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Does more money help?

One way to stop living paycheck to paycheck is to make more money. Forty-two percent said an additional $500 each month would help make ends meet.  Fourteen percent already work more than one job.

The amount of money that comes into a household does make a difference, but not as much as you might think. Twenty-one percent with salaries of $100,000 or more said they also live from payday to payday.

We’re working ourselves to death instead of thinking about the other solution to the more month than money problem. We need to look at our lifestyle. We’re so busy trying to make more money to support our lifestyle that we end up spending money we wouldn’t need to spend if we just slowed down and honestly assessed our situation.

Convenience expenses

We’re so busy that we spend more money on “convenience expenses”. We define convenience expenses as the premium we pay for goods and services because we don’t have time.

So we end up in a downward spiral – we work more to have more, but then we
spend more and we don’t have any time to figure out how to do anything differently.

One example of a convenience expense is that we eat out more than we plan to. An appointment runs long. We get stuck in a traffic jam. The boss needs to talk. The next thing you know it’s late. Now we feel we have no choice. We’ve hit that wall. We’re hungry now! We’re too tired to do anything but grab some carry-out or order delivery.

Cutting back

It may seem like a small expense, but it eats away at your budget (pun intended). If you’re feeling like we’ve described you perfectly, don’t feel like you’re alone. We’re right there with you! Here are some ways we’ve found to cut back on this convenience expense:

Always stock some food that’s easy to stick in the oven or microwave.

Then if you’re running late, you can have less expensive convenience food. Plus you’ll save the time of stopping or running out for carry-out.

Plan for leftovers

If our next week’s schedule looks busy, we’ll cook up a little extra food on the weekend so we have leftovers which can be nuked in a matter of minutes. These leftovers are also an excellent way to save money on going out for lunch. There are more productive ways to spend a lunch hour than driving back and forth.

Invest time today to save money tomorrow

By planning next week’s meals, you can find coupons for the items you want to purchase. It’s like printing money legally as we learned from Crissy Thompson, who often spends as little as $10 a week to feed her family of five.

You can also think about where you shop. They’re called “convenience stores” for a reason! We pay a price to be able to run into the store and grab something on our way home.

This is just one example of the many convenience expenses. If you’re living payday to payday or not saving as much as you would like, think about your convenience expenses and the time / money interplay.

There is a huge trade-off between time and money. If you have money,
you can save time. If you don’t have money, it’s important to really
 think about how you’re using your time and try to save money.

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Subscribing to the Bigg Success Weekly! It’s conveniently e-mailed to you once a week. And it doesn’t cost you any money! But the time you spend reading it will help you make and save money! How’s that for a deal?

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Next time, we’ll discuss how to create wealth in today’s new economy. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
http://media.libsyn.com/media/biggsuccess/00261-111008.mp3

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2 Tips for More Effective Project Status Reports

pm411_logo We visited with Ron Holohan today on The Bigg Success Show. Ron is a Certified Project Management Professional and is currently the Director of Program Management at Shure in Chicago. Ron also hosts a weekly project management internet radio show called The pm411.org Project Management Podcast, which has consistently been one of the top four project management shows on iTunes.

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marylynn We all know that project management can be a stickler. So we asked Ron to share two tips with us to create more effective project status reports.

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ronThe first tip is to focus only on the exceptions. What I mean by that is that you don’t want to throw everything in the kitchen sink into your status reports. No one wants to read all that. They want to be able to look at your status report and pull out just the information they need. So focus on the exceptions – those issues that have changed since your previous report. Your audience only gets the information they need so your status report is short and concise.

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georgeI think that’s a bigg one. It seems that you often see status reports that look like a “mind dump.” You see all the activity that’s happened since the last report. You get bored with it so you’re not able to help them. might call it stubborn.

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ronThat’s right. If someone wants to go back, they can always look at one of your previous reports for more information.

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marylynn Cut the fat … get to the meat. What’s another tip?

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ronAnother tip is to make your report as easy as possible to read. This is the same kind of ideas as Tip #1. You want to allow your audience to easily scan for details that interest them the most. One way to do that is by using something called “Stoplight Reporting” – you communicate progress by using different colors. A bullet point in green may mean this item is going according to plan. Yellow means that particular item needs to be watched. Red means action is required because that item is starting to go off track. You can actually use blue as well to indicate that particular item has been resolved or completed.

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marylynn Can you put a “Don’t Walk” in there?

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ronThat would be nice! Use short bullet points. You don’t want to write a paragraph; this isn’t going to win you a Pulitzer Prize. You’re just trying to convey simple facts to your audience. Also, use tables where you can. They’re great for listing things like milestones, budget information, or product material cost.

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georgeWhat’s interesting about this to me is that some people are good with words or numbers, but other people are very visual. So you’re giving your report in a way that allows your audience to consume it the way they prefer.

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marylynn I prefer stick figures!

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georgeIt’s a great system that you’ve outlined with the different colors. You instantly can see what’s going on. Now I assume what you talk about are the “yellows” and the “reds”.

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ronThat’s right. So if I was reading the report, my eyes would naturally look for those yellow and red bullets that need my attention the most.

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Ron’s freebie!
Ron has a free status report template available for you, complete with a Stoplight along with other great templates.

Thanks Ron for sharing your fantastic tips with us!

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Is Your Schedule Overloaded Like A Dishwasher?

dishwasherSome couples argue about whether the toilet paper should roll over or under. Others squabble about whether toothpaste should be squeezed from the bottom or the middle. We might be unique, but we have a running disagreement about how full the dishwasher should be.

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marylynn If you’re keeping an eye on the news, you see that a lot of large companies are cutting marketing and even customer service. They’re cutting jobs and even entire departments. They’re streamlining.

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georgeAnd Mary-Lynn doesn’t fill it up enough … we spend money we don’t need to because we waste water and electricity.

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marylynn Well, we spend money when we have to wash the dishes again because some of them didn’t get washed in the overload.

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So now you see where we reach an impasse!

More importantly, this whole dishwasher discussion made us think about our schedules.

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marylynn My theory is that if you put too much into your schedule, just like the dishwasher, you can’t get it all done.

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georgeI don’t disagree that you have to be careful about overloading your schedule. I may be guilty at times of doing that, just like I overload the dishwasher according to Mary-Lynn. But you know the old saying – if you want something done, give it to a busy person.

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marylynn It’s the old 80/20 rule – 80 percent of the work gets done in 20 percent of the time. It is true that when you’re super busy, it seems like you are more productive. However, when you get too overloaded, you may not achieve what you set out to do. The result – you get frustrated and discouraged. It can even paralyze you at times.

4 ways to keep from being overloaded

#1 – Plan for reaction time

georgeWhen I first started managing people, I often overbooked myself because I didn’t allow for time to respond to my employees. I’ve seen a lot of first-time managers make this same mistake. The closer you are to the front line, the more important this is. Allow time to react to customers and employees or you’ll find yourself with too much to do in too little time.

#2 – Understand your patterns 

marylynn George is more of a morning person … I’m more of an afternoon person. So we just don’t work together at all! Seriously, plan your schedule so you’re working on your most important activities when you’re at your best.

#3 – Work at human capacity

georgeThis is a tough one. My dad, who’s one of my heroes, always thought he could get done more in a day than he actually could. He taught me well! Make sure you’re not planning ten hours of work if you only have eight hours to do it. Realize that you’re human, too. There will be times when you need to slow down or take a break.

#4 – Sometimes it pays to procrastinate

marylynn A prime example is the post you’re reading. Yesterday, we were trying to get this show done and I just wasn’t feeling well. We felt like if we pressed on, our end product wouldn’t have been as good as what you’re reading now.

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georgeSo we decided to put it off for a day. There was no reason not to … and hopefully, you’ll agree that we did alright!

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marylynn Now if I can just get George to stop loading the dishwasher so full!

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Ben Franklin Got It Wrong

Change. A word that sparks fear in many people.

We work to get to that comfortable spot, and we want to stay there.

“Nothing is certain except death and taxes.”
Ben Franklin

We think he got it wrong, not in the message, but in the semantics. We think he should have explicitly included change as something that is certain, rather than making it implicit in his quote.  


Will you lead or follow?

Even when it’s change that we’re creating ourselves, it can be scary. But it’s especially frightening when it’s a surprise.

For example, picture Jane telling her boss that she’s accepted a new position. She’s going to experience change. But isn’t that more comfortable than Jane’s boss telling her that her job is being eliminated?

It’s better to be a leader of change than a follower.

Who’s in control?
However, you can’t always control change. What you can control all the time is how you choose to respond to it.

You can also try to anticipate it. For example, as technology continues to develop, change is occurring more and more rapidly. Isn’t it safe to assume that this will continue?

So you have a choice to make. You either develop the skills to anticipate change so you get ahead of it or you just respond to it, after the pain becomes too great to do anything else.

Bigg action item – Separate the change into fads and trends
There are fads and there are trends. Fads come and go, so don’t worry about them. Trends are long-term. Get on board with them.

Divide a sheet into two columns – one called “Fads” and the other called “Trends”.  In your chosen career, think about the things affecting your industry. Now start putting those changes into the appropriate column.

What will affect your future income? Something will – for good or for bad!

Is it a short-term phenomenon? Or is it likely to continue? You can position yourself properly by seeing the change coming.

What opportunities will be created? What skills will be important? Do you have them? Can you get them?

Develop a plan for what you need to do to position yourself to take advantage of the trends.

Where do I get this information?

We’ll look at two examples. Search for the name of your industry followed by the word “association”. For example, “beauty salon association” yielded a half-dozen or so associations in Google.

You can also subscribe to magazines for your industry, or just about any industry you’re interested in following. They’re often free, supported by the advertisers. Amazon has an excellent resource that lists magazines by industry. It’s an extensive list!

So there are a number of ways to get the information you need so you can embrace change rather than begrudge it.

Subscribe to The Bigg Success Show in iTunes. 

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