Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thrifty and Nifty Storage Ideas

In this day and age, with the state of the world economy, being thrifty has become of supreme importance. Being thrifty in our organizing doesn't have to be a bad thing. There are so many fun and creative ways to be both thrifty and nifty.

1) The most important factor in being organized is to be able to locate what you need when you need it. Rather than just thinking of being organized as having everything in neat, matching boxes, think of being organized as you owning your stuff as opposed to your stuff owning you.

2) Organizing holiday items is something you can get your whole family involved in. Rather than spending additional money on red and green boxes to store Christmas items, you can have your children create special labels for the boxes you do have. They can color trees or Santas or other holiday themed pictures for you to affix to the front of the boxes. Then when you store them, you will be able to see which ones are the holiday boxes just by looking. You can do this for any holiday or even birthday supplies.

3) Looking to organize your bathroom? You can spend just a couple of dollars on a roll of colorful contact paper and cover some shoeboxes. You can have a box for make-up, one for hair styling supplies, anything you like! Another advantage to this is that the contact paper can easily be wiped down with a slightly damp cloth and will stay looking new.

4) The contact paper idea can actually be used in many places in your house. If you need more clothing storage but don't want to spend money on a furniture piece just now, you can cover banker's boxes (or other cardboard boxes) and use them for dresser cubes. This also allows you to change out the 'decor' whenever you want. You can cover smaller boxes to hold office supplies or other home office items.

5) Looking for ways to be nifty and thrifty in your kitchen or pantry? Buy a handful of inexpensive plastic lazy susans and create specific areas. You can have a baking area, a canned soup area, a children's snack area just for some examples. By keeping these areas together and organized, you will save money because you will know exactly what you have. You will be able to see these items in your closet with just a spin of the lazy susan. This will help to avoid things being lost in the back which will eventually be thrown out because they become stale. This will help you to avoid buying duplicates of items you already have and it will help you to be able to meal plan by seeing right in front of you what is there and what you might need to buy.

6) The biggest nifty and thrifty way you can organize is to cut down on the amount of stuff you have. ESPECIALLY if you are paying for a storage unit or have your garage so full of storage stuff that you can't park your car in there. The fewer items or boxes that you are storing, the better able you will be to organize them effectively. If you have things in storage that are valuable to you either monetarily or sentimentally, then they should be taken care of and respected. They should not be shoved into storage boxes with a bunch of things that aren't as important.

7) If you do have an offsite storage unit that you are paying for, it's important to know exactly what is in there. Then you can determine where you might be able to store the stuff at your home so it won't cost you so much money. You might also decide that the stuff in storage isn't worth paying that amount of money for any longer.

8) You might be asking yourself what is 'nifty' about getting rid of stuff. By cutting back on the quantity of things that we have, we can more fully enjoy the items that we are keeping. If we only have a few select pieces or collectibles, they can be properly displayed inside the home. Spending money to collect things that we just end up storing is neither nifty nor thrifty!

Remember, it's important for you to own your things, not have them own you. Cherish the items that you do want to keep and take care of them properly.

Thanks to Get Organized Now!


What Don't I Need / Do I Really Want

An Organizing Tip From One Of Our Readers

I have the hardest time throwing anything out and things have been sitting all over the house and in drawers, bags and boxes just waiting to go through. In the past, I've always asked myself 'what DON'T I need?' That is too difficult of a question because I can find a use for anything...someday. I changed my wording and it made a world of difference.

Now I walk from room to room and ask what items 'DO I really WANT' in my house? I look at themes for decorating and I look at functionality to help me make my decision.

I carry a box with me and put in all the items that I DO want, and then I see the rest that's left for the junk it is. It is so satisfying to sweep all the stuff I don't want into another box to junk or donate.

When the room (or house, in my case) is empty, I can go in with my WANT BOX and place my WANT items where I would like them to go without fighting for space.

Just changing how I phrase my question has freed my mind from all the possibilities and excuses that have stopped me from parting with years of accumulation. It's amazing how many items I thought I needed or would do something with and never did!

By Dawn Brabitz - Bridgeville, DE


Why Strategic Plans Don’t Work…And What to Do About It

For any business, strategic planning is a necessity. It's the key to proactively planning for the future, as opposed to simply reacting to the marketplace. For many companies, strategic planning means going offsite for a few days once a year and laying out the company's goals and direction for the next eighteen to thirty-six months.

Surveys reveal that most executives are dissatisfied with the business results they get from formal strategic planning. Many employees, including those in management, believe that significant strategy decisions are made outside of the formal discipline of strategic planning. Unfortunately, this often results in a cynicism about strategic planning throughout the organization as well as inconsistencies in accountability and clarity regarding the company's future direction.

Why Strategic Plans Fail

There Are Seven Reasons Why Most Strategic Plans Fail:

  1. Lack Of Focus. Too often, people get lost in the semantics of defining their vision, mission, and values. They spend so much time and effort trying to understand what those terms mean and how they fit together that by the time they have it all figured out, they're mentally fatigued and the planning process stalls.
  2. Lack Of Resources. Some companies run out resources before they can devise a practical plan. They budget a set amount of time and money for the process and when this is spent, the process stops advancing.
  3. Lack of understanding. People confuse strategic planning with operational planning. They focus on financial numbers, looking at what the numbers were for the past three years and then extrapolating from that. As a result, the planning becomes a matter of establishing financial targets and budgets into the future rather than having a dynamic debate about the larger strategic issues that are critical to the organization's success.
  4. Lack of accountability. Sometimes the strategic planning process becomes too political, impeded by turf or budget protectionism. As a result, the group cannot deal with the real issues at hand.
  5.  Lack Of Follow Up. Once a plan has been created, no progress can be made if the plan is simply put into a binder and left on a shelf to collect dust.
  6. Suffocating Management Styles. When a strategic planning session is simply an opportunity for the CEO or some other powerful leader to give a "state of the union" speech and pass along the new edicts, it isn't really strategic planning. The planning has already taken place somewhere else. In today's increasingly complex marketplace, a strategic plan created by one person is probably lacking the depth of expertise, insight, and review required for success.
  7. Lack of Flexibility. Finally, strategic plans don't work because when circumstances change the plan becomes obsolete. Strategy that's just right today can be so wrong tomorrow because of external factors.

Three Steps to Successful Strategic Planning
The key to making strategic planning work is to think about it as being three distinct phases of an ongoing process:

  1. "Intuitive thinking." This step answers the bigger questions such as, "Why are we in business?" "Who are our customers?" "What do they want from us?" "What matters most to us?" "What are the values that we want to drive the way we do our business?" "Where do we see our company going in the future?" These are big picture, intuitive, and often emotionally loaded questions.
  2. Long-Range Planning. This phase is very analytical and more comparative. It involves understanding where your company fits in the marketplace, what your strengths are as an organization, where your limitations are, and how you relate to customers and competitors. It also includes understanding the regulatory environment, where technology is taking you, and how major trends affect you.
  3. Operational Planning. During this phase it's a matter of determining what you really have to do so you don't over commit yourself. Now is the time to get practical with a plan for implementing and executing on specific priorities. That includes understanding who is responsible for what, developing appropriate guidelines, figuring out what resources they're going to have available to them, and what milestones or review points you need along the way to make sure everyone remains accountable and stays on schedule.

Create the Future Today
You can't work on all three strategic planning phases at the same time. Each step builds upon the last to provide the proper focus and mind set that will ultimately lead to success implementation.

When you think about strategic planning as an ongoing process rather than an event, the strategy becomes woven into the organization's culture. And that's when progress really happens, when strategic thinking, long-range, and operational planning become a normal part of the way the business functions every day.

By Ron Price / AMANET


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Leaders Emerge by Talking First and Most Often

Put some random people in a group, give them a task and soon enough a leader will emerge. What is it about that person that makes others grant them the honour of being in charge?

New insight comes from a study published in Personality and Social Psychology, which suggests that leaders emerge through a combination of their own outspoken behaviour, and how this outspoken behaviour is perceived by others.

In two studies Anderson and Kilduff (2009) from the University of California, Berkeley, looked at how dominant individuals in a group were perceived by others in the group. Perceived competence is important because, everything else being equal, it's very difficult to become a leader if everyone in the group thinks that person is a dunce, even if they are extremely dominant. But what Anderson and Kilduff's research showed is that there is a big gap between the actual competence of leaders and the way in which they are perceived by the others.

In the second of two studies Anderson and Kilduff had participants attempting a series of maths problems in competition with another group. The groups were videotaped and the behaviour of their members carefully examined. They found that dominant participants tended to offer more suggestions to the group, and that these individuals were perceived by the group, plus those observing the group, as the most competent.

Crucially, though, the study showed that not only did a leader's dominant behaviour of itself encourage others to see that person as competent, but this was true even though their suggestions to the group were no better, or even worse than others. In reality the leaders did not always make the best contribution to the task, but their voices were usually heard first and most often.

This study suggests leaders emerge through more subtle processes than the word 'dominance' might imply. Rather than brow-beating or bullying others into submission, leaders-in-waiting effectively signal their competence to the group by making greater verbal contributions to discussions. Others then assume that their greater contribution will mean their group will be more likely to succeed.

Outside of the laboratory, of course, money and power has more to do with who leads organisations like corporations or nations. In reality groups of people don't start on egalitarian terms and people don't always 'emerge' from groups of their peers on the basis of who shouts loudest and longest. But this study does tell us something useful about more informal, everyday groups similar to those studied in this research.
Thanks to Psy Blog


Relationship Is the Essence Of Leadership

The Essence Of Relationship Is Emotion. 
In effective organizations, most employees operate on a continuum somewhere between compliance and commitment.  Compliance can be enforced in a number of ways--rules, procedures, threats, and bribes, to name a few.  But compliance has serious limitations.  It is seldom associated with innovation, breakthrough or exceptional performance.
Commitment, on the other hand, knows virtually no bounds.  Most forms of organizational capacity, power, and competitive advantage are generated by commitment.  But commitment springs only from the heart.  It can't be coerced or legislated.  Commitment is an emotional response, a response that almost always results from a meaningful connection--a relationship.
Albert Einstein once said, "We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles but no personality. It cannot lead; it can only serve."
Regardless of your industry, it is the people who work for you who are your sustainable competitive advantage.  One of your crucial tasks as a leader is to create a climate conductive to an ever expanding web of connection between people throughout the organization.  You need to do everything possible to find, develop and keep those people who make your company competitive. 
No matter what business you're in, you are in the business of building leaders.  Rather than risk losing a key employee, invest in developing their skills for a future leadership role.  Doing so will keep the employee engaged, demonstrate your company's commitment to retaining and growing in-house talent and ultimately help your organization's bottom line.

By Coach John G. Agno


10 Tips for Managing Millennials — Future of Your Company and Ours

"How to Manage Millennials" may seem like the "flavor of the month," but don't treat this like a fad or a trend, says Maureen Crawford Hentz. Millennials will soon outnumber everyone else in the workplace, and their culture will become the dominant one.
Hentz, manager of talent acquisition for Osram Sylvania, Inc., says that savvy managers will help Millennials adapt and thrive in their mixed-generation work environment. In the process, the managers will learn some things themselves.
What's a "Millennial"?

The Millennial generation is typically defined as those born between 1980 and 2000. Susan M. Heathfield, HR expert for, offers the following characteristics of Millennials, saying that they:
— Have developed work characteristics and tendencies from doting parents, structured lives, and contact with diverse people.
— Are used to working in teams and want to make friends with people at work.
— Have a "can-do" attitude about tasks at work and look for feedback about their performance frequently—even daily.
— Want a variety of tasks and expect that they will accomplish every one of them.
— Are positive and confident, and ready to take on the world.
— Seek leadership, and even structure, from their older and managerial co-workers, but expect that you will draw out and respect their ideas.
— Seek a challenge and do not want to experience boredom.
— Are used to balancing many activities such as teams, friends, and philanthropic activities.
— Want flexibility in scheduling and a life away from work.
— Need to see where their career is going and exactly what they need to do to get there.
— Are waiting for their next challenge (and there had better be a next challenge).
— Are connected all over the world by e-mail, instant messages, text messages, and the Internet (and thus can network right out of their current workplace if their needs are not met).
Ten Tips for Helping Millennials Adapt and Thrive
Heathfield offers the following suggestions:
1. Provide Structure. For example, reports with monthly due dates, jobs with fairly regular hours, certain activities scheduled every day, meetings with agendas and minutes, goals that are clearly stated, and assessments of progress.
2. Provide Leadership and Guidance. Millennials want to look up to you, learn from you, and receive daily feedback from you. They want "in" on the whole picture and to know the scoop. They want and deserve your best investment of time in their success.
3. Encourage the Millennials' Self-Assuredness, Can-do Attitude, and Positive Personal Self-Image. Millennials are ready to take on the world. Encourage—don't squash them or contain them.
4. Take Advantage of the Millennials' Comfort Level with Teams. Encourage them to join. They are used to working in groups and teams. Millennials gather in groups and play on teams; you can also mentor, coach, and train your Millennials as a team.
5. Listen to the Millennial Employee. Your Millennial employees are used to loving parents who have scheduled their lives around the activities and events of their children. These young adults have ideas and opinions, and don't take kindly to having their thoughts ignored.
6. Provide Challenge and Change. Boring is bad. Millennials seek ever-changing tasks within their work. What's happening next is their mantra. Don't bore them, ignore them, or trivialize their contribution.
Thanks to HR Daily Advisor Tip


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Science Heroes and Villains of 2008

The collective brain of New Scientist has come up with 8 scientist heroes of the year and people to look out for in 2009, 3 non-scientists who deserve special mention - and two possible bad guys. Heroes first:

Steven Chu
Chu, Nobel laureate and Lawrence Berkeley National Lab director, was named in December as US energy secretary in Barack Obama's incoming administration. The blogs erupted with excitement at the news. As a strong advocate both for scientific solutions to climate change and for carbon-neutral renewable sources of energy, Chu could well have made our list anyway - as energy boss of the most energy-hungry nation in the world, it seems certain that Chu will be one of the most influential scientists in 2009.
George Church
Church, of Harvard University, launched the first company to offer complete genome sequences to customers (Knome, tagline: "know thyself"), started the first phase of an effort to publish 100,000 complete genomes, and is engineering bacteria to produce biofuels. On top of that, he published a cool paper showing that soil microbes - "ultra-bugs" - can use antibiotic drugs as their sole source of food.
Svante Pääbo
Pääbo, of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany, pioneered the sequencing of ancient DNA in the face of impossible-looking odds. This year, Pääbo and colleagues announced they had almost finished sequencing the genome of a Neanderthal, and they did indeed complete a rough draft of the genome of the extinct woolly mammoth. A real-life Jurassic Park remains science fiction - a Pleistocene Park might not be. In any case, Pääbo's lab is doing amazing things on the technical side of sequencing and genome assembly that should pay dividends in biomedicine and forensics, as well as evolution.
Alan Stern
Stern, former NASA space chief. Stern resigned this year after refusing to cut costs on basic space research programmes. In late November, he wrote a scathing criticism of cost overruns at NASA for the New York Times and earlier in the year joked that the new term for distant, Pluto-like objects - plutoid - sounded like "hemorrhoid", so it's likely that we'll hear from him again on a variety of topics in 2009.
John Pendry
Pendry, of Imperial College London, works on a subject that caught the public imagination again this year: invisibility cloaks. While it's going to be a while before we can play at being Harry Potter, Pendry gets credit for bringing fiendishly complex physics into the mainstream media.
Peter Smith
Smith, of the University of Arizona, is NASA's chief scientist for the Mars Phoenix lander mission. Phoenix, the first mission to touch down in the Martian arctic, returned good news for people who want to find that there is or has been life on Mars, and thrilled millions with its images of the Martian surface.
Ken Caldeira
Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institution, has been investigating geoengineering claims for years. This year he was brought in by the British government to talk about ways in which we could geoengineer the climate to save us from global warming. If we don't get greenhouse gas emissions down, we're going to need a Plan B - and people like Caldeira to do the research for us. He's also been asked to organise a session on geoengineering in Copenhagen next year, where world leaders will meet to sign the successor to the Kyoto protocol.
Lyn Evans
Evans, the boss of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, is the figure behind the biggest science story of the year. When the LHC was switched on in September it seemed that everyone was talking about God particles, dark matter, and whether other dimensions exist. A billion TV viewers watched the switch-on: physics has never been so sexy, and once the thing is repaired, we can look forward to getting some answers.
Special Mentions

Philip Munger
a music teacher and blogger in a Wasilla, Alaska, high school, did his bit for science in September. Munger confirmed that Sarah Palin, then the US Republican nominee for vice-president, believed that dinosaurs and humans coexisted 6000 years ago. Plenty of scientists offered their advice to the presidential candidates, but we nominate Munger for doing his bit to counter creationism.
Claudia Castillo
suffered a collapsed windpipe after a severe tuberculosis infection, and was barely able to breathe. She then made world headlines by becoming the first recipient of windpipe tissue constructed from a combination of donated tissue and her own cells. As one of the surgeons involved said, Castillo helped usher in a new age of surgical care.
Barack Obama
promised a new era of scientific innovation when he was elected in November, and has already picked an all-star science team to form his first administration. Environmentalists can now hope for leadership from the US when it comes to dealing with climate change.
Villains Of the Year?

Bruce Ivins
The US army biodefence expert now blamed for the 2001 anthrax attacks in the US , died in July - an apparent suicide. The FBI are confident that Ivins was behind the attacks, which killed five people, and if they are right, Ivins is surely the "evil mad scientist" of the year, if not the decade. Yet whether the FBI's evidence would have stood up in a court of law is unknown, as the scientific details of any genetic link between the anthrax spores posted in the attacks, and those in his lab, have not been released.
Dale Hall
Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), was instrumental in getting the polar bear listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act - the first species listed because of the threat of global warming. But a month after the polar bear was listed, Dale's agency found itself in hot water when it was accused of granting oil companies the right to harass polar bears.

December 2008 by
Rowan Hooper 



Why You're Not Happy

Six Common Barriers to Personal Happiness and Fulfillment

Happiness can be a paradox: The more you reach for it, the more it seems to slip through your fingers. "Ask yourself if you're happy, and you cease to be so," says Darrin McMahon, PhD, author of Happiness: A History.

How could this be true? Could it be you're looking for happiness in all the wrong places? Do you think happiness is what you get when you get what you want? Some say happiness is a little like falling in love, that you can't make it happen. If that's the case, then how can you become happier?

Happiness Barrier No. 1: Complexity

Solution: Simplify

Schooled in Buddhist monasteries since childhood, Thupten Jinpa, PhD, knows a thing or two about the benefits of simplicity. Why do you think monks and nuns shave their heads, he asks? For one, it simplifies their lives.

A principal English translator to the Dalai Lama, Jinpa is no longer a monk. But he still holds on to some of the lifestyle's spartan values. "My family has a one-car policy," he says, pointing out the hassles of owning more than one -- the costs, the maintenance, and the time managing the details. Multiple credit cards? They don't create freedom or happiness, he argues -- although, these days, he might get less of an argument about that.

Modern life has elevated individual choice to the highest level, he says, but these choices come at a big price. "We often conflate quality of life with standard of life," Jinpa says, "but after a point, the connection [between the two] disappears."

If you simplify your life, you create more space in your day, making it possible to reflect on your life.

Happiness Barrier No. 2: A Breakneck Pace

Solution: Take a Pause

The same culture that entangles you in a web of complexity may also have you on the constant chase, Jinpa says. "That kind of tension takes a toll on your soul and your psyche." Whether you call it meditation, silence, or prayer, taking a "pause" just a few minutes a day can help you "recharge your batteries" and make you feel happier. A good time to do this is in the morning. Without it, your life may feel out of control.

Venerable Robina Courtin, a Buddhist nun and organizer of the Happiness & Its Causes Conference, recommends spending these minutes practicing mindful meditation. "During the day, we're completely absorbed by our senses," she says, "so we don't pay attention to our minds." Sit in a quiet place and simply anchor your mind on your breathing. When your mind wanders, bring it back to your breath. Through this process, you learn to observe what your mind is saying.

Happiness Barrier No. 3: Negativity

Solution: Let Go

"Your prison is nothing in comparison with the inner prison of ordinary people: the prison of attachment, the prison of anger, the prison of depression, the prison of pride." wrote Lama Zopa Rinpoche to a California prisoner, a student of the Liberation Prison Project, which offers Buddhist teachings to people in prison.

Some might view this statement as a bit of an exaggeration. But negative, compulsive thoughts do have a quality of stickiness to them, Jinpa says. How you see things and the way you experience the world are strongly linked, making it critical to adopt a positive outlook. "You interact with the world through your senses and mind," he says. "If you can find a way to stand at the doorway of your senses, you can have a say in how you experience the world."

In our culture, though, we take it as natural that people are angry, depressed, or dejected, Courtin says. "No wonder we get depressed -- it's a depressing world view. It says you can't do anything about it." If you believe your abusive boss, father, or partner is the main cause of your suffering, for example, then you've tied your own hands and risk becoming imprisoned by toxic thoughts.

The Buddhist view, by contrast, is that happiness is what you get when you give up a neurotic state of mind, Courtin says. It's empowering, she says, because knowing you can change it gives you the courage to look inside, pay attention, and take responsibility for your thoughts. Rather than judging negative thoughts, Courtin advises observing them with compassion. Then ask yourself, "What can I do about this?"

Techniques like mindful meditation can help with this, but may not be for everyone, especially those experiencing severe depression, says Philippe R. Goldin, PhD, research associate in the department of psychology at Stanford University.

But there are other simple steps you can take to counteract negativity and enhance your happiness. Practicing gratitude is one. People appear to have a certain set point for happiness, a range that's influenced by genetics. But those who regularly practice gratitude can enhance this set point by as much as 25%, reports Robert Emmons, PhD in his book, Thanks!: How Practicing Gratitude Can Make You Happier. Through his research, Emmons found that people who kept gratitude journals felt better about their lives, exercised more, and were more optimistic.

Happiness Barrier No. 4: Despair

Solution: Stay Hopeful

Did a parent attempt to protect you as a child by saying, "Don't get your hopes up"? There's no evidence that hope is hurtful, says David B. Feldman, PhD, assistant professor of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University in California. Instead, hope can greatly enhance happiness in people.

But genuine hope isn't a yellow smiley face or the denial of death at the bedside of a loved one in hospice, says Feldman, who's pursued research and clinical work addressing the question: "How do people maintain hope and meaning in the face of adversity?

Three components are essential for hope to thrive, Feldman says. They are having goals, as well as a plan and the motivation to achieve them. "Those who succeed don't internalize the blame game, either internally or externally," he says, "They ask, 'what now?'"

In addition to reaching goals, these people perform better in sports and school, Feldman says. They have a greater tolerance for pain. They use health-promoting behaviors. They also have a lower risk for depression, anxiety, and heart disease.

Feldman advises setting personally meaningful goals and checking to see where your hope falters -- is it with the plan or the motivation? Allow yourself to daydream, he says. It's a wonderful source of hope and, therefore, happiness.


Happiness Barrier No. 5: Suppressing sadness

Solution: Feel the Real

Having a positive outlook doesn't mean you never allow yourself to feel sadness. The parents who try to protect their children from dashed hopes -- or any kind of sadness -- may actually produce the opposite effect than is intended, says James R. Doty, MD, director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University. Some suffering, he says, makes you a whole person and allows you to acclimate and move forward in your life. Doty speaks from experience. He had an alcoholic father and invalid mother. He lived on public assistance for much of his youth.

"Happiness is not the absence of sadness," says David Spiegel, MD, medical director of the Center for Integrative Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. It is not a stiff upper lip or the pop psychology mantra, intoning "always stay upbeat" in the face of cancer. "Phony happiness is not good." By suppressing sadness, you suppress other, more positive emotions, as well, he says, so people who try to suppress emotions actually become more anxious and depressed.

By finding outlets for sadness and frustration, you gain some measure of control, Spiegel says. Using others as a sounding board -- not as a toxic dumping ground -- can help convert generalized anxiety and depression into targeted feelings you can address with specific solutions.

Happiness Barrier No. 6: Navel-gazing

Solution: Connect With Others

How important are social networks to your happiness? Perhaps even more important than you realized. A recent 20-year study of more than 4,000 people showed that happiness is influenced not just by your immediate friends and family. The happiness of a friend of a friend of a friend -- someone you've never even met -- can also influence your happiness. It turns out that happiness can spread through social networks, like a virus.

Unfortunately, many people spend so much time by themselves navel gazing, they don't benefit from this positive "contagion."

The more self-absorbed you are, the more your world closes in, and the less realistic you become, all of which produces a vicious circle. "You become oblivious to the needs of others, and the world shrinks still more, making you less able to see outside yourself." If asked, 'Why are your problems so special?" says Jinpa, you might respond, "Because they're mine!" "If you have such a huge ego, you're setting yourself up as a huge target, which can easily get hit," Jinpa says. But using a "wide-angle lens" instead helps you see connections you wouldn't otherwise see, such as the universality of suffering. All it may take is having a loved one diagnosed with a serious disease to realize how many people are grappling with similar challenges. Feeling joined by others on this journey provides some comfort and happiness.

The straightest path to making connections like these? Compassion and caring for others.

Even primates seem to understand this, says Robert M. Sapolsky, PhD, author of Why Zebras Don't Get Ulcers and research associate with the Institute of Primate Research at the National Museum of Kenya. Primates that groom each other after a stressful event experience a reduction in blood pressure. The clincher? Grooming others has a greater impact than getting groomed, says Sapolsky.

Compassion engages us with others, removes isolation, builds resilience, and leads to deep fulfillment, says Doty. "Without compassion, happiness is simply short-lived pleasure."

Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, may have said it best: "If you want others to be happy, practice compassion; if you want to be happy, practice compassion."

By Annie Stuart / WebMD Feature



Shake It Off and Take A Step Up

One day a farmer's donkey fell down into a well. The animal cried piteously for hours as the farmer tried to figure out what to do. Finally, he decided the animal was old, and the well needed to be covered up anyway; it just wasn't worth it to retrieve the donkey.

He invited all his neighbours to come over and help him. They all grabbed a shovel and began to shovel dirt into the well. At first, the donkey realized what was happening and cried horribly. Then, to everyone's amazement he quieted down.

A few shovel loads later, the farmer finally looked down the well. He was astonished at what he saw. With each shovel of dirt that hit his back, the donkey was doing something amazing. He would shake it off and take a step up.

As the farmer's neighbours continued to shovel dirt on top of the animal, he would shake it off and take a step up. Pretty soon,
everyone was amazed as the donkey stepped up over the edge of the well and happily trotted off!


Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. The trick to getting out of the well is to shake it off and take a step up. Each of our troubles is a steppingstone. We can get out of the deepest wells just by not stopping, never giving up! Shake it off and take a step up.

Remember the five simple rules to be happy:

1. Free Your Heart from Hatred - Forgive.

2. Free Your Mind from Worries - Most Never Happen.

3. Live Simply and Appreciate What You Have.

4. Give More.

5.. Expect Less


The Thrifty Manager - Cutting Costs the Smart Way

Your boss has just asked you to cut 10% from your department's budget, starting immediately.

Easier said than done, right?

As you carefully study your expenditures, you're faced with a seemingly impossible task. How do you decide what to cut? Where can you save the most money without hurting team morale, or lowering people's productivity? Should you eliminate coffee and morning donuts, or cut back on office supplies?

Most organizations have to cut costs at some point. In today's economic climate, it's more important than ever for businesses to watch their budgets, and to make sure they eliminate any unnecessary spending.

When cost-cutting is down to you, however, it can be difficult to know where to start. Cutting the right things at the right time is a delicate balancing act.

In this article, we look at some easy ways to cut your budget, and offer some suggestions to get you started.


Where to Start - Doing the Easy Things

Once you sit down with your budget, there's a chance you might feel overwhelmed. While your team might not need everything that's on the list, some items - like company vehicles or holiday parties are nice to have.

If that's the case, where do you begin?

  • Establish the Essentials: It's important to identify the things your department absolutely cannot live without. Every business is different, of course, so necessary expenditures for one company aren't always essential for another.
  • Identify the 'luxuries': Once you create the list of things you can't live without, look at what's left. Some of these are probably luxury items; expenses that aren't absolutely necessary, and could easily be cut - for example, fresh flowers in the reception area.
  • Review Your 'Maybe' Items: These are the things you're not so sure about. When you look at these less obvious expenditures, assess the costs against the tangible and intangible benefits of these items.

    A good example might be your department's networking parties. They're fun and useful, but you might at first think that you could cut them. However, when you socialize with valuable contacts during these events, they often lead to referrals and sales. You'll therefore have to judge whether these parties are a necessity or a luxury. If you expect to gain more in sales than you spend, then it may be worth keeping parties in the budget.

    Another example could be office supplies. For instance, your team might use large amounts of paper. Perhaps your company buys top-quality, expensive paper, but is this necessary? Of course, you use these items to do your work, but you could save by buying a more economical brand of paper.

Practical Budget Advice

Cutting costs is never easy, but here are some practical tips you can apply when trimming your budget:

  • Cross-Train Your Staff: Many companies hire temporary workers when regular staff are sick or on vacation. But, if several members of your team are cross-trained - where they learn the skills of a job function different to their own - perhaps they can cover those duties, in short shifts, in addition to their regular workload.
  • Focus On Efficiency: For instance, if several of your team members spend valuable time every week or month writing a report, determine whether this is really necessary. Could they spend that time on something that's more valuable? Does another team in another department create a similar report, and could you combine efforts to save time? Another benefit here is that if your team members are working more efficiently, you may be able to cut back on overtime payments.
  • Cut Back On The Work You Do: Taking this further, look at the work your team does, and ask whether you need to do everything that you do. Do your 'customers' still want each and every report you produce, and each and every service that you provide? Trimming the work you do will reduce your reliance on temporary staff and overtime.
  • Negotiate With Your Suppliers: You may be able to secure discounts for early payment, or large-quantity purchases of items that your team uses regularly. Explore special deals to see where you can save.
  • Buy Less Expensive Equipment And Vehicles: If you're about to replace your car or truck fleet, consider purchasing less costly and more fuel-efficient models. The same goes for office equipment: used printers and fax machines are often available for a fraction of what you'd pay for new ones. Also, consider sharing these resources, and costs, with another department within your organization.
  • Make Telephone Calls Over The Internet: Software such as Skype allows you to make and receive telephone calls on the Internet. As long as the person you're calling has Skype too, these calls are free. This can therefore help you to save on telephone costs.
  • Investigate Videoconferencing Or Teleconferencing: If your team travels a lot for meetings, explore the costs of setting up videoconferencing or using teleconferencing instead (again, Skype offers good teleconferencing facilities). This can help you save on travel costs.
  • Use Less Costly Supplies, And Use Fewer Of Them: Cutting your team's morning coffee might cause some bad feelings. Instead, why not use ceramic mugs, and stop paying for paper cups that get thrown away? If you currently buy an expensive brand of coffee, switch to one that's more economical. And how much energy can you save by turning off computers and lights at night time?
  • Get bids on all of your services: You might be surprised at how much you can save by shopping around for the best prices on everything from shipping to office supplies.
  • Cut back on magazine subscriptions: Your office or department might subscribe to industry or trade journals. These can be valuable resources for keeping your team up to date on trends and best practice, but make sure you carefully evaluate the costs against the rewards. Several team members may be able to share one subscription, and many publications offer digital versions for a reduced price.

Communicate With Your Team

If you're forced to start making cutbacks, tell your team what's going on. While no one wants to feel like they're with a company that's having financial problems, everyone knows that times are hard, and they probably don't want information kept from them. As far as you can, let your staff know what's happening, and why.

It's also important to realize that your team members are a valuable resource. They could have some really creative ideas for ways to cut costs. After all, they're the ones out there working every day. They might know of practices or expenditures that could easily be cut for the entire company - and you could ask them to come up with their own suggestions.

And, ask your team to examine where they might cut costs in their own daily routines. This could help empower them, and make them feel involved - even in a small way - in the decision-making process.

Key Points

Many people immediately think of layoffs when they hear about corporate cost-cutting. However, your people are your most valuable assets. Aim to cross-train, cut back on non-essential work, and reduce costs in supplies and business systems before you reduce your staff. Focus on making your department more efficient. And remember that even savings on small things, like turning off computers at night, can help reduce costs.


Thanks to Mind Tools Ltd




Late Night Emails Equate to Double Espresso Before Bed

Sleep experts have cracked the mathematical formula for a good night's sleep in a bid to halt the sleepless epidemic - and there's bad news for email addicts.

According to the Crowne Plaza Hotels & Resorts' research, checking emails before you go to bed has the equivalent effect on the body of drinking a double espresso. 

And, in an increasingly demanding working world, Brits are losing one night's sleep a week to this sleep-deprivation epidemic.

Fuelled by spiralling use of PDAs, mobiles, laptops and Blackberries, business travellers are potentially robbing themselves of a good night's sleep by failing to switch off gadgets early enough before going to bed.

Light from a mobile phone or laptop is intense enough to halt production of sleep-enhancing melatonin and experts are warning workers to switch off at least an hour before light's out.

To help guests enjoy a refreshing night's sleep, Crowne Plaza has teamed up with top sleep expert Dr Chris Idzikowski, of the Edinburgh Sleep Centre, who has trawled through existing research** to identify the top five factors for a good night's sleep - and the five things most likely to keep us awake at night:

Sleep solutions *    Quiet (Q) *    Complete darkness (CD) *    Cool temperature (CT) *    Comfy and clean bed (CCB) *    Daytime exercise (DE)    Sleep nightmares *    Electronic device usage 1hr before bed (EDU1) *    Late-night eating (LNE) *    TV  *    Caffeine (C) *    Alcohol (A)   

And this is what the formula for the perfect night's sleep looks like:

Q + CD + CT + CCB + DE - EDU1 - LNE - TV - C - A = Zzz

Dr Chris Idzikowski says: "Checking your work e-mails before bed on any electronic device is essentially the equivalent to drinking a double espresso last thing at night.  Research has shown that light from a laptop or Blackberry is concentrated enough to signal your brain to stop production of melatonin, a natural hormone known to aid sleep disturbances.  Being in a relaxed environment and incorporating essential wind-down time into your day is your best chance of securing a great night's sleep - along with silence, darkness and comfort."

Idzikowski continues: "Work-related stress is one of the major factors when it comes to sleeping at night with the average Brit suffering 55 nights of poor quality sleep a year.* It's even more important when away on business that you avoid heavy use of word-related electronic equipment at least one hour before bed to avoid having the next day's meeting racing through your head until the early hours."

Speaking of the formula, William Morris, IHG's SVP Sales & Marketing EMEA, explained: "The temptation to check emails late at night is potentially jeopardising business travellers' chances of securing a good night's sleep, something Crowne Plaza is committed to ensuring guests enjoy when they stay with us to enable them to be as productive as possible in their everyday lives.  Given the increasing expectations placed on business travellers' time and changes to traditional working patterns, we were keen to look into the factors behind why some guests may have problems sleeping and identify a remedy which acknowledged these pressures while helping resolve the issue. 

"In doing so", Morris continued, "we have identified that, whilst our rooms do promote healthy sleep, it might actually be our guests who inadvertently miss out on a quality overnight experience through increased work commitments.  We would therefore encourage guests to observe our golden rules if they want a great refreshing sleep and be sure to switch off - both mentally and technologically - before turning in for the evening.  This should help them be even more productive in their working day."

Crowne Plaza rooms all feature full black-out blinds or shutters, temperature control and sound-insulated rooms. Guests can also set the lighting to allow them to begin mentally unwinding from work the moment they set foot inside.  All hotels further benefit from extensive leisure facilities and first-class restaurants to help those with busy working lives relax in a comfortable environment and promote a peaceful night's sleep as outlined in the formula above.

"Guests at Crowne Plaza hotels have everything they need for a great night's sleep - we're just saying to them, 'switch-off and relax'," said William Morris.


** The formula has been developed by accessing key articles from the U.S National Library of Medicine database - Limiting to 19-64 year old adults 34,605 articles (worldwide) and internet research around sleep issues.

How to Say NO, and Still Feel Good About Yourself

Many people find it very difficult to say no when someone makes a request of them. They believe that saying no is offensive and uncaring. They will say yes even when they know they really don't want to do it or don't even have the time to do it. However, saying no is an important skill to learn and say from time to time. It is definitely not a bad thing to do. Keep the following information in mind the next time someone asks you do something so you can say no and still feel good about yourself.

1. It is important to remember that saying no is a choice, not a requirement. In any situation, you have the choice to either say yes or say no. Because saying no is as much of a choice as saying yes, that means they are both good and acceptable answers.

2. You think of yourself as a person of integrity. You take pride in being known as a person who gets things done when they make a commitment and won't let anyone down. You can't say no. Yes you can. To be a person of integrity means saying no sometimes. Saying no simply means that you want to stay true to the commitments you have made.

3. Keep your priorities in mind. Priorities give our life more clarity and show us the path to follow. Priorities play a large role in the decisions we make and whether to say yes or no to a request. Saying no to the things that are not on your priority list is perfectly acceptable.

4. Become more empowered. Empowerment is the process of increasing the capacity of an individual to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes.

5. To free yourself from the guilt associated with turning down a friend or family member, keep in mind that by saying no you are voicing your opinion, standing up for rights and becoming the sole proprietor of your life. Affirm this fact every morning. It's better than asking yourself how you got into so much by saying yes all the time.

6. Saying no is not a sign of weakness. It is actually a sign of strength. It indicates that you know your own strengths, abilities and limitations. If you don't want to say no, then learn to say 'not right now' instead.

7. Compare how you feel when you say yes to something and want to do it to when you say yes to something and really wanted to say no. When you do something because you really want to, you will have positive feelings and outlook on fulfilling your promise. If you said yes and wanted to say no, your feelings are going to be different. Perhaps these emotions come to mind: frustration, anger, resentment, and stress. Do you want to feel positive or negative? Go with your gut reaction.

8. Being assertive by saying no is not a negative trait and is not a form of confrontation or disrespect, as some people may think. It shows that you have self-respect and self-esteem and that you know you are not responsible for everybody and everything.

9. You should never feel bad about saying no to being asked to do something which conflicts with your values or morals.

10. When you need to say no to a request, it's fine to give an explanation. Perhaps you don't feel you have the skills, time or resources to complete the request. And saying no because I need time for myself is perfectly fine too. Feel good knowing that you were honest and up front with the other person.

11. Minimize the stress involved with saying no by smoothing out the transition by using these three easy steps: (1) acknowledge the request ('Thank you for thinking of me.'); (2) convey your circumstances ('After reviewing my calendar, I don't have the time'); (3) minimize the saying of no ('Maybe next time' or 'Have you considered?').

12. Saying no can allow you to try new things. Just because you have always helped plan the company picnic does not mean that you have to keep doing it forever. Saying no can free up time for you to pursue other hobbies and interests.

13. Remember that yes is not always going to be the best answer. If you are already over committed, you have a much better chance of getting sick, tired and crabby, which won't benefit anyone else either.

14. Many good causes may land at your door and it can be tough to turn them down. Complimenting the person or group's efforts while saying that you are not able to commit at this time helps to soften the blow and keeps you in good graces and feeling good.
Thanks to Get Organized Now