December 28, 2009

Getting Ready for 2010

I'm back from a week in Jamaica where I made some time to sit in a swing outside my room and give some thought to 2010. I read a great book while away: The Art of Racing in the Rain and highly recommend it to you. The back cover of the book contains a wonderful description. "A heart-wrenching but deeply funny and ultimately uplifting story of family, love loyalty, and hope - a captivating look at the wonders and absurdities of human life ... as only a dog could tell it.  Having recently put down our 16 year-old Golden Retriever Dusty, I wasn't sure about reading this book, but I'm so glad I did.

I haven't completed the obligatory list of my resolutions, but I am committed to making more time to write in 2010. I haven't figured out how to do this yet, but I am committed.  I even went so far as to start a list of topics I'd like to write about in the coming weeks.  I'm sure my list will include the annual resolutions to eat more healthily, exercise regularly, treat my wife and kids well, work hard, and give to the charities that are important to me. I got a Kindle for my birthday last week and hope to make more time to read in 2010. I hope to learn new things, travel, and spend time with my family and friends.  More on all this later.  For now, I'm trying to adjust to the 60 degree difference in temperature (90 to 30).

December 27, 2009

Social Networking Can Be A Time Drain | Manage Your Time

Recently, I have been cajoled, harassed, and embarrassed into participating in the “Social Networking” craze. I have a MySpace page. I’m on Facebook. I am participating in Plaxo, Linkedin, and Twitter. Putting aside the time I should have spent to set up my “page” on each of these sites (the bare minimum to participate is what I opted for), the question now is, how do I find the time every day to visit each of these sites and actively participate in the things they have to offer?

At this point in time I am only visiting these sites in the evening, after work. I find that once engaged, I can be going from site to site for hours. These sites are addicting and time consuming. Which brings me to a few other questions: 1. Does a person have to be on all these different sites to stay connected or is one better than the rest? 2. What value do these sites really add to my already-too-busy life?

From a time management perspective I think the best way to handle these sites is to send your status updates when it doesn’t interfere with real work that you are getting paid to do. I sent one the other day while sitting in a parking lot waiting for a funeral procession to go by. As for “browsing” the site to see what other people are up too, all I can offer is that you set aside a specific amount of time to do this. Once that time is up, STOP. Otherwise, these sites can be very addicting and you won’t be able to get anything else done.

Please leave a comment on your experience with these social networking sites so we can all learn from your experiences.

December 15, 2009

Prioritizing My Health | Tips To Make It Happen

There is not enough time in the day. This morning, I slept in until 8:00 and it ruined my entire day. I didn't get half of my Sunday To-Do List completed. Every day is the same. There is not enough time for me to work, spend time with my family, pay bills, do chores around the house, read, write blog posts, Facebook, tweet, Link in, Skype, or hang with my Plaxo family. How can I possibly find the time to exercise?

Well, I do. Last July I woke up one morning and decided I wanted to live long enough to meet my grandchildren. I decided I wanted to do something about my health so I wouldn't be a burden to my wife and children. I decided I wanted to be a better golfer, have more fun fishing, and not poop out so early when we go snow shoeing.

So, I went on a diet and intensified my workouts. Since last July I've lost a ton of weight. When I walk into a room people continue to ask me "Where's the rest of you?" Frankly, I've run out of witty replies. It has been a long hard road and I'm not to the end yet. I firmly believe that much of my weight-loss success is due to the fact I religiously work out at least six days a week and usually seven. I do Pilates one day a week for an hour. I stretch and do some intense (interval) cardio work for forty-five minutes to an hour, two or three days a week. I also stretch and lift weights for an hour four days a week, and on one of those days I do thirty minutes of light cardio work. When I sat down and thought about it, I determined I was exercising over 8 hours a week and that doesn't account for the time it takes to get to and from the gym or Pilates studio, shower, etc. etc. That's a lot of time for a guy who already thinks there isn't enough time in the day to do the really important things!

Recently I did some soul searching and determined it was important to me to do all the things I mentioned before. None of them could be eliminated from my Life's To-Do List. Once that was determined I decided I better set some priorities. My exercise regimen remained in the top three, right behind time with my family and work. I then had to determine the best way for me to get everything I needed to do, done. Long story short, I decided I needed to schedule my workouts. I decided to put all my workouts right in Microsoft Outlook along with all my other things to do. What a revolutionary idea! Okay, maybe not, but its working like a charm. Every Sunday night I print my schedule for the week. Then I write on the schedule and type into Outlook the times during the week I'm going to work out. I take the schedule with the handwriting on it and put in on my nightstand to help remind me every night before I go to bed the time I am working out the next day. This also helps me know what time to set the alarm clock to, and pack my workout bag for the days I go to the gym instead of down to my basement. When 4:45am on Thursday comes around I always know its time to get up for my 5:30am Pilates session. This has worked like a charm for me. Sure, there are days I just have to make a change. Even then, I still find another time to work out during the day and I'm feeling great!

You might want to try this scheduling idea too.

November 29, 2009

Just Shoot Me When I Turn 50!

When I was a teenager I remember telling my Mother to "Just shoot me when I turn 50." I don't recall what was happening at the time, but I recall telling her to shoot me. At that age I thought people 50 and older were OLD! They couldn't see. They couldn't hear. They couldn't drive. They were old, and had no quality of life.

In less than a month I will turn 50. Maybe it's because of all the advances that have been made in medicine, but I'm feeling pretty good. My health is pretty good. I hear just fine. I wear contact lenses and seem to see quite well. I work out pretty hard 5 to 7 times a week, lifting weights and working on the Elliptical Cross Trainer.

About a month ago I had breakfast with a friend of mine. We went up to the cashier who was a teenager. She looked at me and gave us the "Senior Discount" on our breakfast. I think we saved about $3, and I was devastated for days. It was beyond my comprehension that this young lady could believe I was a "Senior Citizen!" What could she have been thinking? Then it occurred to me she was thinking the same thing I was when I was her age.

Now I have it pretty good. I have my health, I am employed, and I am happily married to a wonderful woman. My two children, in spite of me, have grown into incredible young adults. My oldest graduated from college last spring, found her dream job and moved to San Francisco. She couldn't be happier. My son was one of very few people admitted to the Business School his freshman year at college. He is doing great, making lots of friends and thoroughly enjoying college.

I suppose if I were to be able to convince my mother to fulfill my childhood wish, I would go with no regrets, but, in all honesty, I'm not ready yet. 50 doesn't seem like such a big deal to me. I'm probably reaching the pinnacle of my lifespan and about to start the downward trek, but I'm not really concerned about it. There are still many things I'd like to do. I'd like to travel a bit with my wife. I'd like to attend my son's graduation from college. I'd like to attend both my kids' weddings. I'd like to hold my grandchildren, babysit them, and spoil them rotten. I'd like to go to a Super Bowl Game. I'd like to retire and spend my days fishing or playing golf.

Lots of people get freaked out about turning 50. My wife did not handle it well. Some of my friends appear to be dreading it. Remember the Doris Day song "Que Sara Sara" which meant "What will be, will be." I thought the phrase was Spanish. Today I was told it was Italian and the complete phrase is "Quel che sarà, sarà" (pronounced approximately "kwel ke sará sará") and means precisely "Whatever will be, will be" and that in Italy it is a popular saying that means one should not worry overmuch about the future, because it's unknown. Whether its Spanish or Italian, for better or worse, its how I feel. So, now that I'm about to turn 50, and I'm older and wiser than when I was a teenager, I take it back. Don't shoot me when I turn 50.

November 26, 2009

Nostalgic at Thanksgiving

I'm feeling nostalgic this Thanksgiving. Maybe it's because so many things have changed over the years and I'm just plain longing for "The Good Old Days." I find myself thinking about the telephone. Yes, the telephone. No, I haven't lost my mind. At least not entirely. I keep thinking about how the world has become so impersonal. Rarely do we use the telephone to talk to people anymore. Instead, we rely on e-mail and text messages, often going through an entire day communicating with someone and never hearing their voice.

In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell was the first to patent the telephone in order to transmit voices telegraphically. Antonio Meucci, Philip Reis, and Elisha Gray were other inventors credited with inventing the telephone, but Alexander Graham Bell seems to get the credit most often when the story is told about the first complete sentence being transmitted to his assistant in another room, "Come here, Watson, I want you." This transmission was followed in 1877 by the formation of Bell Telephone Company and in 1885 with the formation of American Telephone and Telegraph Company.  And, as they say, "The rest is history."

We saw the invention of the rotary dial phone which had many looks over the years, followed by the push button phone, and later the first cell phone that looked like a brick. I actually owned one of those. And now, of course, we live in the world of the iPhone, the Blackberry, and other "Smart Phones." Phones were meant to transmit the human voice from one location to another. It just doesn't seem like we use the phone for that purpose anymore.  Instead, we use our phone to text and e-mail. Or we use it to play games, post tweets and status updates. Some even download hundreds of applications meant to make our lives easier or more fun. But, none of these things have advanced or enhanced human voice communication. More likely than not, these "advances" have just created better and easier ways to avoid human contact.

Do you worry that our youth will not be able to stand in front of a classroom and make a verbal presentation? What is going to happen to political debates or our legal system that depends upon "oral arguments" before a judge? Don't get me wrong. I enjoy a new technological breakthrough as much as the next person. I'm usually right there in line to buy it too. I've always felt that to successfully function in the world, we have to know how to read, to write, and to speak. Many of the young people I meet dislike reading, write incomplete sentences with abbreviations like "lol" and "btw," and rarely have to speak to each other, or anyone else for that matter.  Maybe I'm making a big deal about nothing. Maybe I should try harder to give up my apparent need for human contact, and embrace this new technology. I think I'll try it out on my wife. Over the next couple of days we won't verbally communicate. We'll only talk via text messaging. Maybe that would be good for our relationship. Maybe it will catch on. Maybe this method of communication will be used to cut the divorce rate. I'm certain it would cut the rate of child birth. Or, maybe I'm just one of those rare people who need some human contact, and to hear the human voice,every now and then.

September 13, 2009

Tips To Complete Multiple High Priority Projects on Time

KirAsh4 commented on my January 11, 2009 post and described a situation many of us find ourselves in more times than we would like to admit. How you handle the situation where you have multiple critical projects due at the same time, can determine how you are viewed by your superiors and associates at work. More importantly, it will determine how the people expecting you to deliver quality work, on time, will view you.

Let's say you have three or four very important projects pending, and they all must be completed on the same day. What do you do? Are you overwhelmed at the thought of having to do all this work? Are you the type who just doesn't know where to start first? Do you procrastinate or panic which simply causes you to freeze? Can you confidently focus on what's critical, or are you uncertain as to what task to perform first? Are you able to methodically complete one task at a time, or are you so frazzled that you do bits and pieces of each project and can't bring closure to any one of them?

The people I admire most in the workplace are those who can consistently "cut to the chase," and easily determine which tasks have priority when they are under the gun, and crunched for time. These people "never let 'em see you sweat," stay calm, and are generally prized by their employers, colleagues, and clients or customers. Let's talk about some ways to choose and prioritize your tasks, and how to handle conflicting priorities.

The first thing I always do when feeling overwhelmed by the tasks ahead of me is ask, "Will each of these tasks generate revenue for my business?" This is the first line in prioritizing my work. If it isn't going to generate revenue, or save costs (which also effects the bottom line) then the task moves down on my list of priorities.

Next, instead of being paralyzed by the mound of work, take several minutes to look closer at each individual project. We already know you have several projects that must be completed at the same time. Look at each project as if its the only thing on your plate. Just for a few minutes. See if you can break each project down into smaller tasks. Tasks that when completed will result in the project itself being completed. This will enable you to tackle each project in smaller chunks while having a feeling of accomplishment as each task is completed. This feeling of accomplishment will motivate you to continue with your work instead of being paralyzed by the amount of work remaining. Complete this exercise for each of your pending projects. Then you should prioritize the projects choosing the most important project. Not the one you will complete the fastest. Choose the most difficult project over the easiest project. Many times you will find, once you get deep into the project, it wasn't as tough as you perceived it to be when you were making your list of tasks needed to complete the project.

The next step is the most intuitive, and sometimes the hardest. GET TO WORK! You have determined the tasks you must complete in order to complete the project. You have prioritized the projects. You know how long each project will take and you know you can complete all the projects on time. NOW GET TO WORK!

Turn off your phone close your e-mail program and your web browser and get to work. Plan to take regular short breaks to clear your head, use the restroom, or eat something. Don't get distracted by opening your e-mail program or your web browser. Be efficient with your breaks. Take a break, but don't let it derail you from the tasks at hand.

Unfortunately, there is no substitute for hard work. Remember, you put yourself in this position to begin with. You accepted the work and agreed to the completion date. You did this to yourself. Next time, don't make promises you may not be able to keep. Under promise and over produce. Always deliver the highest quality work you are capable of, and understand that by taking a step back in the beginning, breaking each project into smaller tasks, and GETTING TO WORK, you will be able to accomplish your goals and WOW you superiors, colleagues, and clients/customers.

September 1, 2009

A Tip To Help You Use Your Time Wisely

It's a snow day today in Denver. Schools are closed, malls are closed and my office is closed. I was thinking about how best to use my time off today and thought that while I'm thinking I would make some notes. I've had something sitting on my desk for about two weeks now that needs to get done. I know that once I focus my attention on it I will spend about an hour on it and then it will be done. Why have I been wasting my time on other things when I could easily get this one task completed and off my "To-Do List?" I often find myself working on something because it's "convenient," or seems more "fun" or "interesting." It seems that my time would be better spent if before beginning a task I gave some thought to the importance of what it is I'm starting to do. Will this task generate revenue? Is this task necessary because of a deadline, like paying bills on time? Is there something more important I could be doing? Asking these and other questions every time I begin a task could actually make me more productive.

August 20, 2009

Time For The Empty Nest

Today we took Brandon to the University of Colorado. He and I agree that though CU is about 40 minutes away, it can be as far away as Brandon wants it to be. It's important to me that Brandon take advantage of this time in his life. He needs to meet people and have FUN! He needs to get a job that will allow him to work about 15 hours a week so he can pay for his cell phone and car insurance. Other than these two things, his number one job is to get good grades, and grow into the man we both know he can be.

The move today went better than expected. It didn't take long to get all his stuff up to his dorm room. He and I moved all the furniture around so the room was more open. Everything he brought fit in the drawers and closet provided by the school. His roommate seemed very cool and his parents were very nice. The other kids on his floor and in the dorm also appeared to be very nice as they stopped by and introduced themselves. Many of the girls we saw, in Brandon's words were very "HOT." There is certainly some potential for him having an incredible experience this year. I really hope so!

I'm going to miss Brandon. A lot. I'm going to miss him sitting next to me at Colorado College Hockey games, Nuggets games, Rockies games, and Avalanche games. I'm going to miss him ridiculing me on the golf course and at the bowling alley. I'm going to miss playing ping pong with him at night and watching his face light up every time he wins a point. I'm going to miss playing Tiger Woods golf and Madden Football on the PS3. I might even miss the poking, punching and bruising caused by a growing teenager who enjoys poking, punching, and bruising his father.

Most of all I'm going to miss Brandon. I'm going to miss his smile, his laugh, and the way his eyes still light up when I come home from work. I'm just plain going to miss Brandon. With both kids out of the house now, I think what I'm going to miss most of all is being a father. I know, I'll always be Lauren and Brandon's father. But it will never be the same. Much of my identity for the past 22 years has been as a Father. For the past twenty-two years I've been Lauren's and Brandon's father. Now, I'm an "Empty-Nester."

In the world of time management one would say I should take advantage of the beginning of the next chapter in my life. Take advantage of the time I won't be spending with the kids. Maybe even, God forbid, do something for myself. With that in mind, I must say I'm looking forward to the opportunity to get to know my wife again. Not that I don't know Laurie, but, I'm looking forward to getting to know her all over again. I'm looking forward to seeing if she can sit through an entire sporting event without falling asleep. We're going to bowl together in a league this fall. Tiger Woods golf and Madden football will be a solo activity. Ping pong is probably not going to happen, but pool is a possibility. I'm looking forward to quiet nights sitting on the deck talking, and going to the movies together. I'm looking forward to my time on the computer while she's watching Dancing With The Stars, CSI Every City, and whatever Reality Television show is in fashion this week. I'm looking forward to the unknown, the getaway weekends, the new experiences I can't even imagine right now. I'm looking forward to whatever comes next. And, most of all, I'm looking forward to all this helping me forget how much I miss my kids, and how much I am going to miss being a father on a day-to-day basis.

Do you have a tip to help deal with the "Empty Nest?" If so, leave a comment!

August 13, 2009

College Bound Time Management Tip #1

My son Brandon leaves for college on the 20th.  He will be attending the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado.  The other day he said, "Ya know Dude, I might need to read your blog. I'm not sure how I am going to find time to do the studying I need to do. Might need some of your time management tips." Duh!

I suggested he do what organized professionals everywhere do. SCHEDULE IT! Do what I do. Every Sunday night I set aside several minutes to look at my schedule for the coming week. I see where I have calls to make, meetings to attend in the office, people I need to meet with outside of the the office. I take a look at my Task List and determine some of the pending matters that require some work. What projects do I want to complete this week?

Once I have completed this review I SCHEDULE IT! Schedule time for the most important things you want to accomplish this week. Block off time on your calendar to exercise, even if it is at 5:00am like it is for me most days. Block off a few hours for homework in the afternoon on Thursday because you know that Thursday night is party night on campus. SCHEDULE IT! Keep to your schedule and you will get the important things done.

Try it for a month, then let me know how it works.

July 26, 2009

My How Time Flies When You Are Having Fun, Part 4

It's the 7th and I'm up at 7:00 to workout before another day of shopping and box emptying. After breakfast we were off to Union square. While we were out-and-about I was shown, from a distance, Lauren's office building. Being the youngest in the office, Lauren didn't want to go up and introduce me around. She hadn't started work yet and didn't want it to look like Daddy was checking up on her new workplace. The building is in an absolutely fabulous location at Market and New Montgomery. You have the hustle and bustle of big city life all around. The youth and energy in the area is easily noticeable. Within a few blocks we found her bank, a drugstore and enough restaurants to keep her fed at lunchtime for quite a while.

From there we went to buy some pillows, a rack to hang in the closet, hanging drawers for the closet, shelves for the bathroom, storage for makeup, a table for the television, a table with three drawers for the cable box, DVD player and all Lauren's movies. Needless to say, we had to take a cab back as there was way too much to carry. Unloading the cab made us both cringe at the amount of work left to do in the short time we had remaining in my visit.

The apartment was really starting to come together. Lauren continued her work in the all-important closet while I hung the shelves in the bathroom, hung the hooks in the closet along with the 5-drawer hanging device. Then, after a quick break for lunch which Lauren ran out to get so we wouldn't waste any time, I put together the table for the television and the three-drawer table that went underneath the television table. Once that was done I got a real break and we went back to Crate & Barrel for a salt & pepper shaker, decorative "O's" for the bathroom and a clock for the wall. From there we went to CB2 for a very cool coat rack. All this got dropped off at the apartment before we headed out to dinner.

Dinner at Saha was incredible. Arab Fusion. Spices and flavors that tested the taste buds. We had Kafta, lamb and Fatoush unlike any we had tasted before. Another delicious suggestion from my Aunt Linda. After dinner we had to put the coat rack together, take out a huge load of trash and hang the clock. It was 10:00 and we decided to turn in early tonight. We had to get an early start so we could get everything finished and we had to return to CB2 to get a piece for the coat rack that was broken.

It was the 8th and a pall hung over both of us. I woke early to get in a good workout. After breakfast we got the piece for the coat rack, canisters for sugar and flour, a Dust Buster, groceries and a new litter box. We were back at the apartment at 2:30 ready to do as much as we could in the three remaining hours we had before we had to eat dinner and head for the airport. I had a very productive day putting away the groceries, hanging a calendar and unpacking boxes in the kitchen. Lauren continued her work in the closet. By the time 5:30 rolled around the apartment had really taken shape. Lauren still had several boxes to unpack, but we were at least 90% finished setting everything up. It looked great! I said goodbye to Tom and Connie, and Izzy of course as we headed to dinner at Colibri an upscale Mexican Bistro. The food here was fabulous. Not your typical tacos and burritos. There's no doubt that the food in San Francisco is good and the choices of good places to eat is endless.

After dinner we walked to the Bart and Lauren came with me to the airport. It had been a great six days. A lot of hard work that had really paid off. Lauren was on her way to settling in to her new life "in the Big City." My flight was 30 minutes late, so we had a little extra time together in the airport. Never have I had a more difficult time saying goodbye and getting on a plane. As I neared the plane's entrance it was as if I were in a fog. My heart was heavy and I had this overwhelming empty feeling inside. I had to will myself to keep moving forward, and I almost turned back. But I didn't. I had to get home, get some sleep, and then get in the car for a five hour drive to Crested Butte to spend the weekend with my son Brandon.

Lauren and I had a great six days together. It was an excellent example of time management in action as we accomplished task after task, trying to get as much done as possible in the short amount of time we had. I felt so lucky to be able to spend all this time together, working and talking, and that was more important than what we were trying to accomplish. Though I will miss her terribly, I can't wait to visit, and hope I can do so often. My little girl has grown into an impressive young woman. A young woman with hopes and dreams she shared with me. Hopes and dreams I know she will see come true. There is no doubt in mind she will take San Francisco by storm. As for me, I'm thinking it might be time to face the fact that I am getting older. Nah. This is all just part of the "Circle of Life."

July 19, 2009

My How Time Flies When You Are Having Fun, Part 3

It's Sunday July 5 and the drive today was much longer than we anticipated. We left Reno early, with the hope of arriving in San Francisco around lunch time. We did take a detour to check out Lake Tahoe. What a beautiful place. We didn't stay long. Took a few photos and hit the road. Tahoe is a place I'd like to visit again.

There was a lot of traffic on the highway. We took several photos of the city as we arrived. We were finally here. As we crossed a toll bridge into the city it looked like San Francisco was opening its arms to welcome Lauren. It was a beautiful day, and the view in both directions from the bridge was amazing. We could sense the excitement of big city life.

Checked into my hotel at 2:30 and went to lunch. Next stop, Lauren's apartment. Lauren and her Mom did a great job choosing this place. The location was great. Two blocks from the hotel I was staying at, but more importantly, just a fifteen minute walk to work, and less than that to some of the greatest shopping in the world! Union Square was impressive. The apartment was perfect. Wood floors, lots of windows, great view of the city, and very friendly apartment managers, made this place a keeper. Several hours later the truck was empty, the apartment was overflowing with boxes and we needed to find a place to park a slightly large truck overnight. The hotel wanted $125 a night. We found a lot that took $40. At any price, I was glad to be out of the truck for the night.

We had dinner at a place my Aunt Linda suggested. Le Colonial, was very good, but we didn't linger. Even though we were exhausted, we both wanted to get back to the apartment and get something accomplished tonight. Lauren started loading clothes into the closet and I put together the bed frame, piled on the box springs and mattress, and did my best to cover it up so that over-achieving Izzy would not claw it to death. It was midnight and we were ready to sleep!

On Monday I woke up early to get some exercise. Lauren was tired so I let her sleep and we didn't get out of the hotel for breakfast until after 9:00. After breakfast we retrieved the truck and began maneuvering the streets of San Francisco. Not an easy task I might add. Lauren's iPhone with GPS got us everywhere we wanted to go. First stop was a store Lauren found online. We were looking for a kitchen table and chairs and we found just what she wanted on our first stop. Must have been fate. The table and chairs were black and fit perfectly into Lauren's black, white and red motif.

Four hours and three grocery baskets later, we left Target. Good thing we still had the truck. She needed a lot of stuff. We got a microwave, a bookcase (for me to put together), sheets, a comforter, a rug, and many many other items. It was kind of embarrassing when American Express got nervous about the out of state charge and declined the purchase. A quick phone call and we high-tailed it out of there. Next stop was to drop this stuff off at the apartment and then unload the truck! I couldn't wait to get rid of that thing. 1328 miles later, I couldn't have been happier to not have to park that baby one more time.

After we returned the truck we hopped on the Muni, went back to the hotel to get cleaned up and headed out for a seafood dinner. The hotel recommended this place. Lauren and I were the youngest people in the place by about 30 years and the food was very average. Oh well, we found a place we didn't have to return to. It was a good lesson!

After dinner, Lauren continued her work in the closet and washed the sheets so I could make the bed after I put the bookcase together. Once the bed was made we finally felt like we had fully completed one of the several hundred tasks still left to do. It was after 11:00 and we were both very tired. We called it a night, thinking there was still much to be done tomorrow. Two more days then I had to leave.

July 15, 2009

My How Time Flies When You Are Having Fun, Part 2

Our journey to San Francisco begins on July 3, 2009. After renting the smallest truck Penske has, Lauren, with the help of me, Laurie, Justin, and Alexis loaded up all her belongings. Fortunately, we didn't fill the truck, top to bottom, but we did a good job of filling it front to back. The door barely closed, which was a good thing as nothing moved or rattled around during the drive. About 4:00 we loaded up the Izzy the cat and the cooler filled with snacks and liquid refreshments. We were off. The goal was to get from Boulder, as far into Wyoming as we could.

The camera was up front with us. We decided to do our best to memorialize the trip in photographs. We did a good job as I arrived home with 153 photos. As we approached the Colorado/Wyoming border we were looking for the "Welcome to Wyoming" sign, so we could take a picture of it. To our surprise, there was no "Welcome to Wyoming" sign, so we turned around and photographed the "Welcome to Colorado" sign to memorialize our border crossing.

Next stop: Laramie Wyoming, where we were fortunate enough to find a parking place I didn't have to parallel park in. Dinner at was at Tommy Jacks, a place I had eaten at before while on a fishing trip. After dinner we headed to Rawlings for some gas. Even though it was late, we pressed on to Rock Springs where we found a Holiday Inn willing to let us bring Izzy in. At that point Izzy had been whining for seven solid hours even though she was sedated, and, frankly, I really didn't care if she had to spend the night in the truck. Needless to say, Izzy and Lauren overruled me and the three of us settled in for a few short hours of sleep. It was 12:15am. Our plan was to be on the road no later than 8:00am.

At 5:00am, after about three hours of sleep (Izzy was a tad bit hyper) I got up to spend thirty minutes on the cross trainer, thinking that some exercise would be a good way to start every day of this journey. Breakfast was at Village Inn and then at 8:04am, only four minutes behind schedule, we were on the road headed for Salt Lake City.

Lots of stops today. Plenty of photo opportunities.

We decided to spend a little time in Salt Lake City, a place neither of us had been to before. We visited the Church of Jesus Christ of the Later-Day Saints and the Mormon Tabernacle. And we drove by the Great Salt Lake. Just outside of Salt Lake City I was able to convince Lauren to drive so I could take a nap. She drove for about an hour. I napped for about thirty minutes. It was too stressful for her!

For the fourteen hours or so that we were on the road, we listened to rap music, made plans for our arrival, unpacking and setting up her apartment, and we talked about her dreams for the future. San Francisco was where she wanted to be. She felt so fortunate to have found a job in San Francisco. And she didn't find just any job. She found a job where she could get paid to do what she loves to do: blog, tweet, and post Facebook status updates. What could be better than doing what you love, for money, in the City by the Bay?

Since I couldn't get Lauren to drive, I decided she could help out at the gas stops. Next stop, her job was to clean the windshield. This task led to one of the funniest moments of the journey as my five foot tall daughter attempted to clean the windshield of this rather large truck. The result was an upside down triangle with the windshield being clean near the edges and toward the middle at the bottom of the window. It was hilarious.

On to Reno, where we watched the Fourth of July fireworks from the stairwell of our Day's Inn hotel located adjacent to the highway. Of course, our room was on the highway side of the building. That night Izzy slept great, having finally adjusted to the herbal sedative. It was the truckers and other motorists who decided not to sleep that night, along with me. Tomorrow we would arrive in San Francisco. And the journey continues......

July 11, 2009

My How Time Flies When You Are Having Fun, Part 1

We've all heard many times how important it is to "Cherish every minute you have with your children when they are young." We've been told, "They grow up so fast." We've heard about all those people who spend so much time at work they miss seeing their children grow up. CEOs have written about how work damaged relationships with their spouse and their children. They write about missing soccer games, little league baseball games, dance recitals and band concerts. Everything I've heard and read indicates this is bad. It's bad to miss out on seeing your children grow up.

I'm here to tell you I'm not so sure all the people who write and speak about this topic are correct. I am one of those fathers who believed what I read and what I heard. I very rarely missed a band concert or a soccer game. I made decisions about my job based on my kids and their schedules. I spent every free minute I had with them. Every summer from about age 5 we took separate vacations. One with each kid. Looking back, I think I made a lot of life's decisions based on my kids. To be honest, I don't regret it at all, and if I may say so myself, they turned out pretty darn good. Which brings me back to my point about the message we heard from all the pundits. The reason I think they are wrong is because when they grow up, if you have followed all the advice, it's very hard to let them go.

Next month, my son Brandon, goes to college. He'll only be 45 minutes away from home, but it might as well be 1000 miles. I am dreading the day I have to take him up there, help him unpack, and then leave him there. In earlier posts, I have described our relationship. He is my buddy. He is my companion at basketball and college hockey games. He and I just got home from bowling in a league we've bowled in every summer for the past several years. He golfs with me, shoots hoops with me, and torments me every chance he gets. We just got back from 4 days together in Crested Butte, this year's summer vacation. Because I believed what I read and heard, taking him to college is going to be very difficult.

On July 3rd, I traveled to Boulder Colorado. My daughter Lauren graduated from the University of Colorado in May. She continued to live in Boulder this summer. She is one of those fortunate college graduates who actually got a job immediately after graduation. She got her dream job. Lauren is a talented writer with a degree in Journalism. Check out her blog at Lauren was the Editor-in-Chief of the CU online newspaper and spends her days on the internet, blogging, tweeting, Facebook status updating, etc. etc. Lauren got her dream job at Context Optional where she is required to work on websites, tweet, blog, and do all the things she loves doing, for a salary. Context Optional is located in San Francisco, coincidentally, the city Lauren dreamed of living in. So on July 3rd, I was traveling to Boulder to rent a Penske truck, load it up with all Lauren's belongings, and drive her out to San Francisco to live and work 1268 miles away.

And because I believed all the things I read and heard, this trip was one of the most difficult things I have ever done. The thought of her being 1268 miles away.... The thought of her meeting a boy, getting married and my grandchildren living 1268 miles away.... The fact that we are so close and her being 1268 miles away... This was a very hard drive. I think this was so hard because I believed what I read and heard. We left from Boulder on Friday and I flew home the following Wednesday. Its taken me since then to even be able to start writing about it. In future posts I'll share some thoughts, some photos, and the story of our journey to San Francisco. Stay tuned.

June 3, 2009

Take Time To Reflect On Your Habits

Seems to me that most of what I did today is pretty much the same as yesterday. Which would me that what I do tomorrow will be the same as today, and so on and so forth. I think that's because most of what we do is the result of habits we have formed. Don't you have the same routine every morning? Do you brush your teeth at the same time, eat the same breakfast, read the morning paper? All this is because, like me, you've formed habits.

Its a little scary to think that your future is going to be determined by what it is that you do today. For example, your habit or lack of habit to save money today will effect your retirement. The problem is that we don't usually set out to form these habits, they develop when we are young, or we pick them up from our friends, family, classmates, etc.

If you are trying to take control of your day and manage your time better, chances are you will fail unless you take a close look at your habits and determine whether they are good habits or bad ones. Get rid of your unproductive habits and focus on your productive ones. Develop new habits to get organized and you'll find your day runs more smoothly and you, all of the sudden, feel like you have more time to do the things you really enjoy.

Last year, I decided it was time to lose some weight. I've written about this before so I won't spend time re-hashing the details. In any event, I did manage to lose some weight and, so far, with daily thought, I've managed to keep that weight off. Much of the reason for my success was that I changed my habits. Years and years went into forming those habits, and it wasn't easy to change them, but I did. And today I am much happier.

The same goes for the "Time Management" habits you have spent years forming. To take control of your day let me suggest that you first need to take a close look at what it actually is that you do during any given day. I've created a form I call "Work On What Counts." You can do the same with any spreadsheet program you use, like Microsoft Excel for example. My form has a column for the time, and a column for a description, and a column for how long. Once or twice a year I fill out the form from the moment I wake up until the moment I go to sleep. I do this for a full week and then analyze it.

If you are meticulous and include absolutely everything you will really be able to see how you spend your time. You will see the time you waste chatting with colleagues. You will see the time you waste interrupting your work on a project to reply to an e-mail or answer the phone. You will see that a two hour lunch is detrimental to you getting home to be with your family for dinner. You will see when you are most productive, when you are hungry, when you go to the bathroom, when you sleep, and when you are unproductive. You will see what habits you have formed and what habits are causing you to waste time during your day. From there, all you need to do is decide to change the habits that are inhibiting your success and form new habits that will make you more productive, happy, healthy, or whatever you need to do to accomplish a particular goal.

It won't be easy to change those habits, but knowing that you have them in the first place is a great first step. From there, resolve to change those habits. Focus on them for a month and I guarantee you'll see progress. Before you know it you'll have developed new habits and you will be on your way to accomplishing the goals you have set for yourself.

Try this for one week and then let me know what you learned about yourself. You won't regret it!

May 20, 2009

Time | Another Milestone Event

Just two weeks after my daughter graduated from college, my son, Brandon, will graduate from high school tomorrow. It's hard to believe he will be 18 in July and a freshman in college in August. The thought of being an empty nester is a little scary. I have been very fortunate to have a close relationship with both my kids. With Brandon going off to school, no one will be around to punch me in the arm, tickle me, blow on the back of my neck, wrestle with me, bowl with me, shoot hoops in the driveway, travel to Colorado College hockey games, and go to Nuggets and Avalanche games with me.

The time has certainly flown by. No longer am I looking at a curly-haired chubby faced little boy. Today Brandon towers over me and is built like a beast. Though the cuddling days are long gone I am fortunate to get a good hug every now and then. Not the most open about what's going on in his life, Brandon does occasionally share some personal information, and in time, I'm certain he will realize I can be a resource to him. In this respect he and his sister are total opposites. Lauren is "My life is an open book" whereas Brandon is "My life is a sealed vault." They tell me that is one of the differences between boys and girls. All this time I thought the only differences were anatomical.

I am so excited for Brandon. Yes, the tears I have been shedding for the past several months are tears of happiness. My four years at Colorado College were four of the best years of my life. I am so hopeful that Brandon is about to embark on four of the best years of his life. This is a kid with great potential. Brandon is fortunate to have been blessed with the ability to work with numbers. He is entering the business school at Colorado University, something few Freshmen are able to do. He is going to explore a degree in accounting and is then likely to graduate and go into some sort of business. These are his plans, at least as of today. What I know for sure is that whatever he decides to do he will be a huge success. Brandon is a good kid. He has a big heart. He cares for other people even though he's far to cool to admit it. He is very conscientious at his job. He is a fine young man, and I am very proud of him.

As I think about the graduation ceremony and Brandon's future, I can't help but think about the song written by Cat Stevens (now known as Yusuf Islam) called Father and Son. This is the message I would like to send to Brandon:

Go to College, take advantage of this time
Just relax, take it easy
Don't put too much pressure on yourself
You're still young, that's your fault
There's so much you have to know
Make some friends
Go to parties
Study hard and get good grades
Meet a girl
Open up
Share something about your life
There's so much you have to go through
I know it's hard, but remember
I was once like you are now
And I know that it's not easy
To be calm when you've found
Something going on
But take your time, think a lot
Well think of everything you've got
For you will still be here tomorrow
But your dreams may not
And no matter what you may do
Always remember that I love you

May 7, 2009

Time | A Milestone Event

I know a girl
She puts the color inside of my world
She's just like a maze
Where all of the walls continually change
I've done all I can. I’ve done the best I can.
Now it’s up to her – (John Mayer wrote some of this!)

My daughter Lauren graduates from college today. Her degree comes from the journalism school. From the time she could write, she’s pretty much done nothing but write. Filling journal after journal with messages of hope, life, love, despair, boys, girls, and, of course, fashion. Lauren is famous for her two-page notes on Birthday cards, and her “My life is an open book, read my Blog,” attitude.

On the occasion of her graduation from College, it occurred to me I ought to write her something. And it ought to be lengthy. After all, I’ve also taught her “What goes around comes around.”

Lauren is my oldest child, so she is the first to graduate from college. The first to officially “leave the nest.” The first to “spread her wings and fly.” The first to…… How corny all this stuff sounds now. What I really want to do is take some time to express some of the feelings I have on this auspicious occasion. Maybe this post is really for me. As I start to type it feels a bit cathartic.

To my core, I believe the words sung by Whitney Houston and others reminding us "the children are our future teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they posses inside. Give them a sense of pride to make it easier." I've tried to do this. This is a message I have given to Lauren all her life. I told her "never to walk in anyone's shadow. If she fails, if she succeeds, at least she'll live as she believed." I've told her "no matter what the world may take from her it can't take away her dignity." most importantly I told her to learn to love herself as that's the greatest love of all. To be perfectly honest, from a fatherly non-biased objective point of view,I’ve got to say this: She listened to what I said, even if I said it many many times, and she became exactly the young woman I knew she could become. My pride for her today, and always, is balanced by my tremendous love for her, and my awe and respect for the young woman she has become.

As a young child I could tell what kind of person Lauren would become. When she reached the age of the “Allowance” we had a deal. She was given three envelopes. Envelope number one was for Lauren. Envelope number two was for savings. Envelope number three was for charity. Yes, we negotiated a bit over what percentage of her allowance would be placed in each envelope, but once it was decided, that was it. Then, each envelope had to be decorated with hearts and flowers, shapes and colors.

Every week the envelopes would come out and the allowance would be divided up into each of the three envelopes. Every couple of months we would take a trip to the bank to make a deposit. A couple times a year, we would sit down and I’d ask where her charity money would go. She gave money to the summer camp she attended and to the Dumb Friends League. But I’ll never forget the day when she said she wanted to send $125 to an organization she had learned of that helped women who had been in abusive relationships. And, I’ll never forget the day she called to tell me the president of the organization called to thank her. She couldn’t have been happier to have helped someone else.

Then there was the time, and this was recently, she gave money to an organization and then asked them if she could volunteer some of her precious time working at their office. She used the Spanish she had studied for eight years, to help others and to help the charity be more effective with its clientele. She had become the person I knew she would become. Charity, in its truest sense, had become a part of her life and that made me very proud.

I grew up with a brother. As Lauren entered her teenage years I heard on many an occasion, from many different people, that I had no idea what was about to happen. “You are not prepared for the transformation about to occur,” they would say. Everyone also told me in the end, on the other side of it all; she would come out of “this” just like all the women before her. “Eventually,” they said, “She will return to this planet.”

Those years were exactly as I expected them to be. During her middle school years Lauren dealt with the competitive girl friend situations I expected and the boyfriend issues too. She was as fickle as they come. There was a different boy every couple weeks or sometimes every couple months. Every single one of them was the one “who treated me better than anyone else ever did.” At least for that week or two. She dealt with most of the teenage anxiety with grace, and lots of tears, always living up to her title “The Drama Queen.”

In high school, the girl friend issues subsided a bit, but the boyfriend issues magnified, just as I expected. In high school though, the young woman I knew was inside her began to emerge. Lauren began to develop her work ethic. When she got her first job, she threw herself into it. She was the model employee. She was dedicated, and she truly loved what she did. When I watched her work birthday parties at Chuck E Cheese’s I marveled at her poise as well as her ability to handle the noise, the music, and the chaos around her. She was so successful at her next job; they transferred her to a restaurant near her college so they wouldn’t lose her. Everywhere she worked, she left her mark, and it was a mark others were compelled to live up to.

While juggling the complexities of being a teenager, and holding down a job, Lauren also developed her heart. Whether it was doing something for someone else, or just hanging with her family, Lauren constantly showed what a loving person and daughter she had become. She always made time for me. There was always time to share with me what was going on in her life. She easily shared the “dramas” she was dealing with, as well as the happy times. People always told me how lucky I was to have such a close loving relationship with Lauren. From our annual fishing trips, to our shopping for bras, to our walk through the condom aisle in Walgreen's before she went off to college, she always made time for me and made me feel like I had a special place in her life. I will always treasure those times. Especially the talks at night while cuddling on her bed, and the fishing trips where we would have three or four days to ourselves and she would always, and I mean always, catch three or four times the number of fish I would catch. She was, and is, a natural when it comes to fly fishing.

Now we are at another milestone in her life. I milestone I haven’t stopped crying about for about the last three months. Maybe longer. Now it’s time to see what’s next. Where will she go from here? What will she do? The only thing I know for sure is that she will be fine. She will be a success at whatever she does. She will be confident in herself and her abilities. She will continue to love herself and the people around her. She will be LAUREN, and that’s all I ever wanted for her.

While I have the floor, and even though it is redundant, I want to tell her the following:

Keep on sending Tweets, writing your blog, keeping your journals. You have an incredible talent that is sure to take you places neither of us have ever dreamed of.

Today you will graduate from college and a part of your life will be over. Up until now, I have guided you and protected you. I held your hand while you learned to walk and jogged beside you when you learned to ride a bike. I watched while you test your wings with a car of your own and a job. As you step out into the world, there are things I’m sure I have told you more than once, but I wouldn’t be doing my fatherly duty if I didn’t tell you again. Follow your dreams, especially now while you are young and you can. Life has a tendency to get in the way of our dreams so you need to take advantage of every moment.

Always pay yourself first. Put as much money into savings as you can and leave it there until you have enough to live on for 6 months or so. You will never be sorry Thank your grandmother for starting your retirement fund early, and don’t touch it except to add to it. If you go to work for a company that matches your contributions, take advantage of it, even if your paycheck seems smaller.

Be wary of credit cards. They are too easy to get and too hard to pay off. If you have to buy it on credit, you probably can’t afford it anyway and most likely don’t need it. If you use credit cards regularly, you will pay many times for the same item. Save buying on credit for two major purchases, a car and a house.

Invest your money in things you understand, not things people tell you to invest in. If you don’t understand it, then either educate yourself or find something you do understand. This understanding will help you decide when to invest, when to hold and when to sell.

Find a job doing something you love to do. You spend most of your life at work; it helps to enjoy what you are doing. While making a lot of money is great, doing something you enjoy and are good at will bring you more satisfaction in the long run so try to find a balance between being a starving writer and an overstressed CEO.

Keep an emergency savings account. In a perfect world, this would be enough to support you for 6 months but it can be as little as the $1000 I’ve asked you to keep on hand for the past several years. The emergency fund’s purpose is to pay for emergencies. I know you are saying “duh, Dad” but you have to understand an emergency is not the concert tickets you can get at the last minute or for those cute shoes you just have to have to go with your new dress. It is for things like when the car breaks down and you can’t get to work without it.

When you find that special person, make sure they are someone who will support and respect you. Hopefully, you will find someone with similar goals to yours, both financial and life goals. While love is grand, if the support, respect and common goals aren’t there, love loses out at worst, and at best your life will be a struggle.

Whatever you do, do it with all your heart. You are smart enough to do anything you want to do; you just have to make up your mind you are going to do it. Don’t let anyone beat you down. Don’t settle for second best, you deserve the best of the best. And remember always that I love you and you always have a place to come home to.

Like I said, all this is redundant. It’s the same stuff I’ve been saying since she was old enough to understand.

I find it amusing that a graduation ceremony is an event where the commencement speaker tells thousands of students dressed in identical caps and gowns that "individuality" is the key to success. This is a lesson Lauren has learned well. There is a good reason they call these ceremonies "commencement exercises." Graduation is not the end; it's the beginning. I think she knows this to, though it all seems a bit scary right now. Most importantly, as I found out just in the last week, Lauren is aware her family is extremely proud of her. She understands the sense of relief we are experiencing, and now is an opportune time to ask for money.

Okay, so there’s the attempt at humor to mask my true feelings and the tears that don’t seem to be subsiding. Really, all I need to say to Lauren is “I LOVE YOU, and I’m so very PROUD of you.” But I say this to her all the time and saying it isn’t nearly as cathartic as writing all this was.

April 23, 2009

Time Management Tips | Thoughts While Traveling

I'm on a plane to New Orleans to spend a few days at the Jazz Festival. The flight will last about 2.5 hours and I'm thinking "How can I use my time wisely?" It's not often I have 2.5 hours with no phones ringing, or any other interruptions. But what am I going to do in order to make the most of this time. First, I read the Wall Street Journal during the period of time after takeoff when you aren't supposed to use electronic devices. Once the seat belt sign went off, I booted up the trusty laptop and started to write this post. But is this the best use of the time I have? How should I determine what to do? Let me share with you my thought process at this time.

My first thought was "What can I do, considering where I am and what materials and technology I have available to me?" I don't have internet access right now so that eliminates several things I could be doing. I can't check my Facebook page or send tweets on Twitter. I can't check my e-mail or do any of the other things I enjoy or need to do on the internet. Writing this post for my blog seems like a good idea under these circumstances.

Next, I thought about how much time I had available to me to accomplish this task. Roughly two hours of uninterrupted time is a lot. I can write this post in thirty minutes or less. Maybe I can write more than one post. I am always looking for "spare time" to write. What a great opportunity this is.

Now I'm still thinking "Is this the best use of my time?" I'm pretty tired. I didn't sleep well last night and was up at 5:00am to get some exercise before getting on the plane. Could my time be better spent taking a nap and conserving energy for the weekend? Am I in the right frame of mind to write a post for my blog? Turns out I couldn't resist the overriding fact that I had all this time on my hands. It would be foolish to pass up this opportunity to write something.

My final thought was, "Is there anything else, more important, I could or should be doing?" Clearly the answer was "No."

So, the next time you have some time on your hands, stop and think about these four things before you do anything: 1) What resources do I have available to me at this time and in this place? 2) How much time do I have to do whatever it is I'm thinking about doing? 3) Do I have the energy and will to do a good job on this project at this time; and 4) Is this the most important thing I can be doing at this time and under these circumstances?

This thought process works in places other than on an airplane. It works when you are at the office trying to determine which task on your list to do next. It works at home when you find yourself with some "free time." It works when you're taking the bus to work in the morning and home at night. It works in lots of situations. Give it a try.

April 16, 2009

The Demise of the Printed Newspaper is Yesterday’s News

I've been thinking about this a lot today. You see, I have a routine. Every morning I get up at about 5:00am and workout for an hour or so. Then I get the local newspaper and the Wall Street Journal from the driveway. I make coffee and breakfast. Then I sit, eat, and read the paper. I've had this routine for about as long as I can remember. I have always read the newspaper. I like to know what's going on locally, nationally and abroad. I enjoy reading the short human-interest blurbs and the gossip column. There are also several comics I make a point of reading every day. Most days, the information I glean from the newspapers enables me to start interesting conversations with people as I go through my day.

A month ago the Rocky Mountain News folded. I was quite distressed. I enjoyed reading the News, and had done so all my life. The News was printed in tabloid style. The other local paper is not, and in my opinion, is much harder to read. Just the other day I was trying to read the paper in a restaurant and was having a difficult time folding and situating the paper on the table. Twice, pages fell to the floor to my amazement and the amusement of other diners. Having to read the other local paper in this format was causing me some distress. About this same time, I was notified it was time to renew my subscription. I was torn. Do I subscribe to a paper I dislike reading, not because of the content, but because of the format? I thought it through and realized quickly that the Wall Street Journal was printed in the same format and I had no problem reading that paper. Weird revelation wasn't it? I have subscribed to the online version of the Wall Street Journal for many years. I read the printed paper a couple days a week. Instead of reading it at home, I bring it to the office and place it in the lobby for visitors and colleagues to read throughout the day. I renewed my subscription to the local paper for the shortest time possible, thinking I would give it a try and see if I could adjust to the new format. I also thought I'd bring my computer to the table a few times and see what it was like getting my news fix from the internet.

I've pretty much adjusted to the new format of the local paper. Today I received another notice. It's time to renew my subscription again. Once again, this has become quite a dilemma. On the days I tried to get my local news from the internet all went well, except for one thing. Once the computer was on, I felt compelled to check my e-mail, visit my Facebook page, and send a few tweets on Twitter. It took me significantly longer to get my local news online because of these "distractions." The other problem was determining the source of the local news I was going to read. Should I go to the website of the newspaper I didn't like reading (After all, that's where the comics are!), or should I go to one of the local television stations' websites? Generally, I did both.

Printed newspapers around the country are closing shop. Ad revenue is not great enough to cover costs. This saddens me. Today though, I had a revelation as I was browsing the internet for my local, national, and news from abroad. Mixed in with the stories found in today's newspaper were stories titled "Breaking News" and "Today's Stories." I realized today that when I read the paper in the morning I am reading yesterday's news. I also realized that a lot of things have happened since that paper went to press. By reading the newspaper in the morning, I am actually behind the times. I am not reading the current information others are reading. My conversation starters are "old news" to many. Maybe that's why ad revenue is not great enough to cover the cost of printing a paper. Advertisers are likely to get more bang for their buck advertising online. Is this a bad thing or just the natural progression of a society that is getting more comfortable with the online experience? I don't have the answer, and continue to struggle with it myself. Maybe I'll know more by the time my subscription renewal is due.
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