Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Lessons from a Mop

Image result for Steam MopI thought I'd give myself a week off from blogging after the A to Z challenge, and all of a sudden, it's been two weeks and counting. That's May for you!

Here's a not-very-interesting fact about me: one of my least favorite domestic tasks is cleaning the floors. I detest the whole "scrubbing on hands and knees" bit, and wrangling with a mop and bucket is only marginally better. Even the no-rinse cleaners seem to leave some residue behind, which my bare feet constantly try to detect and analyze. (Because apparently my feet don't have anything better to think about.)

Last week, I finally gave in and bought a steam mop, which uses only hot water to clean and sanitize. After I finished the floors in record time, with zero sticky feet, I held the mop tenderly in my arms and asked where it had been all my life.

The point of this tale of domestic drudgery is that it got me to thinking about the concept of working smarter, not harder. That familiar phrase is one of those business-speak platitudes I've largely ignored because I like to think I'm special and above such things. But now, thanks to my new best friend Moppy, I'm looking at my life and wondering how else I can work smarter, not harder.

(For the record, I do not believe that smart and hard are mutually exclusive. I suppose we should all endeavor to work smarter AND harder. But I'm not sure a mop can help me with that.)

So, I did what any diligent modern person does, and I googled "work smarter, not harder." Dozens of tips popped up. Many of them were familiar to me and might be to you, as well. Delegate. Follow up. Stay off the internet. Get a good night's sleep. Restrict how many times you check email. Understand the value of your time.

But a few jumped out at me as a bit more original and more pertinent to my lifestyle:

Make a "to-don't" list for things you shouldn't waste time on. I love this tip, which is credited to Tom Peters, because, for me, seeing something written down is much more effective than my usual nagging mental loop.

Carry a notebook and pen, because you never know when inspiration will strike. Hey, if it was good enough for Thomas Edison, it's good enough for me. Plus, I won't waste a lot of mental energy trying to remember all the ideas I forgot.

Be quick but don't hurry. This comes from famed UCLA coach John Wooden. It resonated with me because I know that when I'm doing something at a comfortably quick pace, I'm efficient and energetic. When I have to hurry, however, I feel a little frantic and get sloppy.

Establish opening and closing rituals for your work day. Give your brain consistent cues to tell it when to start work...and when to quit work and sneak off to watch The Handmaid's Tale.

Spend ten minutes a day laughing out loud. Laughter reduces stress hormones and increases oxygen to the brain, both of which do wonders for productivity.

All in all, these are easy things I can incorporate into my life, but I'm still open to suggestions. How do you work smarter, not harder?

Monday, May 7, 2018

A to Z Reflection

Hello, and thank you for checking in with me on A to Z Challenge Reflections day!

First, the good stuff:
1. I finished! And I think I got all my posts up on time, with the correct letter on the corresponding day. Whew!

2. I kept up with comments pretty well, both on my blog and others.

3. I enjoyed my theme exploring lesser-known characters/concepts of world legend and mythology. If anyone is curious, this was my go-to reference:

When necessary, I'd check the internet for additional information, but this two-volume set gave me a reliable starting place, even for the tricky letters Q, X, and Z. And seeing as how I'm a book person, I'd much rather browse through an encyclopedia than surf the web any day.

Now, the not-so-good stuff:
1. Some days, it was a scramble and took much more time than I planned.

2. I didn't have a lot of traffic. I've done A to Z a couple of times before, for a blog about my hometown entitled Choice City Native. Those challenges brought many more readers my way. Maybe it's because this blog is much newer. Or maybe I'm less interesting these days :-)

3. On some blogs I visited, it was difficult to find exactly where to leave a comment. If it took more than twenty seconds, I left, regardless of how much I enjoyed the post. Am I the only one who had this problem?

4. I left many comments that were not returned, which is disappointing. I did have trouble leaving my web address at certain sites, so technical glitches may be partly at fault. On the flip side, I didn't make it back to some great blogs as often as I wanted.

Saving the best for last:

1. As always, the content in A to Z is varied and fascinating. Funny, poignant, creative, thought-provoking, and sometimes a little dark, the blogs reflect the fascinating variety of the human experience.

2. I became acquainted with a handful of amazing bloggers who returned to my posts again and again, left great comments, and generally made me feel validated. Thank you so much!

Here they are, in no particular order:

AJ Blythe
Natasha of Tasha's Thinkings
Sue of The Great Raven
Keith of Keith's Ramblings
B Pradeep Nair of Time and Tide
And a special shout-out to Karen of Profound Journey, whose blog was, and I'm sure will continue to be, a welcome refuge of wisdom.

I do plan to join the A to Z Road Trip in a couple of weeks and visit some of the many blogs I missed. Check the A to Z page for details. Hope to see you there!

Image result for Animal Road Trip Memes