As it would be the last day

The problem: Sometimes it is difficult to decide about the current priorities.
In your life you are playing a lot of roles, for example lover, father/mother, son/daughter, photographer, co-worker and many other. There are a lot of locations and situations where you come to action. World becomes more complex (at least it seems to - maybe only because there is more information flowing ;-) ) and it seems that there are plenty of things that should be done.

The reason: The overwhelming amount of to-dos, ideas and information.
The mass blocks the view to the main things in life.

The solution: Think of the day as it would be the last from time to time.
Some years ago I read somewhere that one should live every day as it would be the last. I thought about that but I came to the conclusion that this is not adequate because there are several realms in your life that require long term view and planning. For example to evolve strong relationships or if you are going to marry you need to create a feeling of confidence and constancy. Or even in your work for your customers it is important to have continuity and stability. Because of these reasons it is important to make long term plans and do long term thinking. And it also would not be realistic to see every day as the last because in most cases it is not true that the day is your last.

However, some day will be the last or something else big happens (an accident for example) that changes the situation and your abilities drastically and then you might ask yourself if you set the right priorities in your life.

It is adequate to think "as it would be the last day" from time to time. At least when you are not sure about the priorities to set for the next day or next week.

Related post: Between short and long term goals.


Why not work too much

I worked a lot in the past two months. Although I managed a lot by "simply" working longer which definitely could not have been solved using only the normal working times there are several reasons why working very much should really be an exception:
  • Working too many hours on and on simply causes more errors.
  • Creativity is decreasing with the hours awake without pauses and the days of continued stress.
  • View is narrowed with the hours awake and days of continued stress.
  • Nervousness is increasing if you do not sleep enough.
  • Working too much for too long is an attack at your health.
So to summarize it: Working too hard for too long is shortening your lifetime and decreasing your efficiency. So this should really be an exception in emergency cases.


Respect by attention

The problem: People feel forgotten or treated without respect because you forgot those small favors they asked from you.
I am sure you know it: Your girlfriend/wife/colleague asked you for a little favor and you forgot it although you definitely like them and want to fulfill their requests.

The reason: You are somewhere else with your thoughts and not completely present.
In most cases when you are asked for a little favor you are asked while you have something completely different in mind. And actually your first and only brain wave is that thinking of that favor is not important now.

The solution: Pay full attention when your beloved ask you for a favor and set exclamation marks in your thought.
Bear it in your mind what you are asked for and set a date and time (also in your mind - not only in your calendar). Build memory aids that create links to that to-do. Be present with your mind and soul. Then return to your current work. Only if you really got it you have planned that in your mind to do it.

Related post: The present moment, Show respect to the team, Unattended mode.


This can be used as a weapon

Many years ago I traveled with my family to the USA and we met very nice friends there. They showed us how to play baseball and when leaving they presented us a baseball bat as a gift to carry home. As the bat was too big to put into the normal luggage we went to carry it with us onto the plane. Arrived a stewardess stopped us with the words "this can be used as a weapon" and told us that they will take it and send us by post. Since this it happens sometimes that I remind those words.

Lately I talked to a few people who worry about leaving their footprints somewhere in the web and therefore participate only very few on forums or weblogs. What this has to do with the story above?

Well, in my opinion a lot of things and words can be used as a weapon. And no matter if you are a person getting active or if you stay passive some people could use your behaviour against you.

And on the other hand: A lot of things and words can be used to improve the world and help others. Introducing positive elements is more important than avoiding negative elements.

Let me give an example: If you participate on the web there could be bad guys sending you more spam, hacking your account and post harmful texts in your name or other things producing negative effects. But on the other hand you can use the web to expand your network, find friends, help other people or even get a well-known professional on the web.

Whatever you fear, take into consideration that usually everywhere are risks AND opportunities. Keep in mind that you do not live from avoiding negative but from producing and getting positives - like a good coffee, intensive good work, a pretty woman or a good glass of wine.

Take your choice.


What is reality?

One of the most important things towards a balanced life is to get a realistic view of the world.

Sure, the effect of experiences has a lot to do with how you take it and from your interpretations - but anyway life manifests every day and there are things that exist however you name it.

Today the sun is shining and we went out for a walk. No matter if you like sun or not or whether you like sun in winter and hate it in summer and not matter if "sun" should be named different - if the sun is shining it's shining that's a fact.

There are philosophies or science fiction films that suggest the consideration that everything could also be an illusion only.

But what is the difference between reality and illusion? How to unveil an illusion?

While growing up you get ideas of the world - on how or what reality is. As long as it is only an unproven idea without feedback of the world/nature it is only an idea and not reality.

How to prove:
  • See it with your eyes
  • Hear it with your ears
  • Smell it with your tongue
  • Sniff it with your nose
  • Sense it with your body
  • Feel it in your heart
  • Research it with scientific tools

How to detect illusions:
  • If you suffer there might be an illusion the reason for your suffering.
  • If you find yourself in behaving automatically in some manner and you suffer by the effects you get then it is time to analyze the situation and get a new view.
  • If you experience different effects in same environments behaving the same way then there might be a hidden illusion.
  • If other subjects suffer less than you then you should start to improve by unveiling illusions.
  • Communicate with others.

How to unveil illusions:
  • Criticize your current view.
  • Search for reasons.
  • Analyze your motivation.
  • Search for new aspects.
  • Analyze the situation.
  • Set in relation the situation with the rest of the world.
  • Act and experience the results.
What all the points above have in common is the opportunity of asking a lot of "Why?"-Questions. Try to find and answer a lot of such questions.

Your whole life can be seen as a journey to truth and reality and don't expect to arrive before you die. But never getting in action and proving the results will not push you towards truth and reality.

Having ideas about rules of nature and the world is an important step to bring you towards truth and reality. While ideas about rules may not be the last step to wisdom it is a useful first step.


Detach facts and risks from fears and from decisions

In the post Michael Jordan’s Guide to Shooting for the Stars at The Positivity Blog I read today:
When you are actually out there, be detached from outcomes.

“I never looked at the consequences of missing a big shot . . . when you think about the consequences you always think of a negative result.”
Well, while in sports it might fit the needs I would take care of applying that rule to the rest of life.

It is good looking at the consequences because all the actions you perform will have their consequences and knowing the consequences before would often lead to other decisions.

Thinking of (possible) consequences does include thinking of negative results. If you think of a failure in general as an opportunity to learn then failure is never considered in a negative way and positive experiences will be the "only" harvesting the fruits of earlier improvements.

When thinking of negative results produces negative feelings and fears then you should separate first the facts then think of the risks. In the next step analyze your fears coming along with thinking of the risks. Last but not least take your decisions when you can have a detached view so that you do not feel so emotionally involved.

GTD - E-Mail Folders or Tags

The problem: You lose a lot of time by reading again and again the same e-mails.
You know the problem that you are browsing through your e-mails looking on which you need to respond or on which you have to do something and while reading a lot of subject lines and opening some mails because you don't remember well what's in it you remember that you already looked at that several times?

I did not know that I have that problem until I knew of the GTD folder sytem and then observing my own behavior and impressions while reading my mail.

The reason: Growing inboxes and the amount of e-mail arriving let you loose the overview.
You looked at your mails only 10 minutes ago and you remember that the second mail in your inbox was important and needs action. Then the phone rang and you gave a short information but now some other mails arrived and you have to search again that important e-mail. Your inbox is a very dynamic thing and to retain the overview is difficult.

The solution: Simple GTD folder system.
Until a few days ago I avoided introducing GTD folders because in my opinion it was too complicated because of too many folders. Then I read that people using simplified systems and so I tried with these:
  1. Action ... All the mails that needs an action - so I have to do something
  2. Waiting ... I am waiting for a response or some action and confirmation of others
  3. Hold / Reference ... Mails I probably need later when working on the things in the action folder.
  4. Later ... Not so important but interesting things I want to look at when is time.
  5. Current ... Archive of the current year (subfolder for each client - or project - as it fits better to your business).
  6. Archive ... Archive of the older years (subfolder for each year and then for each client - or project). If you are using Outlook you should export the older e-mails should be exported to a PST file on the disk (on your server home drive). If you have a Linux based mail server then usually it doesn't mind and you can keep everything on your server always available (even using the webmail).
I actually named them including the number prefix to have them in actually this order.

For every e-mail that needs longer operation I do put an entry to the calender and move the mail to the "Hold / Reference" folder. Only the mails with smaller amount of work for the time "in between" or for the time dedicated to e-mail replying I put into the "Action" folder. This is to prevent double occurrence of to-do items (in action folder and calendar).

So I use the combination of calendar and simplified GTD folder system and to prevent from double "reminders" e-mails with a short work are kept in the action folder and every longer work will be scheduled in the calendar putting the e-mail to the reference folder or copying the text directly to the calendar (archiving the original mail).

Depending on your job you might face different types of e-mail conversations:
  • More e-mails producing lesser work
    In this case schedule larger time blocks for "responding to e-mails".

  • Less e-mails producing more work.
    If this is the case then define each e-mail as a single task and schedule a time block for each e-mail.
  • More e-mails belonging to few "topics", "issues" or "tasks".
    Group them to the tasks or projects where they belong (have appropriate subfolders in your archive folder) - put only the main e-mail that actually triggers the work (e.g. a final confirmation within a longer e-mail thread) to the action folder and the rest to the Hold / Reference folder (or archive them if all the relevant information is already included in the e-mail containing the decision).