Monthly Archives: February 2012

25 Hours in A Day

25 Hours in a Day

How can I better manage my time?

An Art of the Question Blog

Dost thou love life? Then do not squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of.

–          Ben Franklin

Sometimes the math doesn’t work out.

The ancient Egyptians discovered that their calendar didn’t always jibe with the solar system. It seems the sun moved according to its own timetable. It meandered on its circular way, unmindful of the havoc it was wreaking with calendar life here on planet earth, taking 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes – well, you get the picture. Those pesky solar systems….

Anyway, no worries – the Egyptians just added to the calendar! And it was one of those win-win situations, because they wound up with an extra day! Wow! How cool would that be?  An extra free day, free time to catch up on reading, take a nap, finish that project – whatever! Hey, wait a minute – we have that free day too! We call it leap year, and it comes around every year that is divisible by four (except years that are divisible by 100, unless they are divisible by 400…never mind! Like we said before, sometimes the math doesn’t work!)

Today is February 29. This is 2012, a leap year. The next one won’t come around until 2016 (by the way, that will be a Monday – I recommend that you take a long weekend!)

But back to our topic. Free time.

Even the words are beautiful. Free time. Time to spend with family or finally read that latest business book or novel.  Time to do something crazy with friends. Time to wash the dog or paint that landscape you’ve been seeing in your mind’s eye. Time to take a long drive in the country or nap in the hammock. Time.

The Greeks had two words for time, Chronos and Kairos. Chronos is the concept of linear time – what our clocks and watches measure. When we talk about time management, it is most often this concept we are discussing.

Kairos is different. It deals with the quality of time. This is the concept we are referring to when we ask someone, “Did you have a good time?” There is an interesting dynamic at work here. Our struggles with Chronos are often aimed at having more Kairos.

So what is the key to getting everything done? First, we must understand that we really do have all the time we need!

William Penn said, “Time is what we want most, but what we use worst.” We often feel that we need more time, when the problem is that we just need to learn how to use our time more wisely. What are some ways that we don’t use time wisely? Perhaps we don’t plan well, so we have to go back to the store again. Or back to the office to retrieve something we left. Or we neglect to write it down, so we buy the wrong size, or brand, or color. We may listen to too much radio, and watch too much TV. It has been estimated that the average American sees or hears over 500 ads a day! Perhaps we don’t eat right or exercise enough, so we are always tired. The list could go on.

We must understand that we have to control our time, rather than letting it control us. One key to this is prioritization.

Prioritization is knowing how to rank the items which you have to do. A powerful tool to help in this area is to have some system in place. For me, making a “to do” list works wonders! When I am overwhelmed with things to do, it helps me to capture them all and put them in order. You can use paper, Outlook, Task-management software, your iPhone, whatever works best for you. The key is to find a system and use it consistently. Something about putting things in order and writing them down helps us to organize our thoughts. It calms us and helps us think more clearly. That makes the tasks seem a little more achievable. Begin your day with a list, and check off items as you accomplish them.

A couple of pointers may help here. First, don’t overwhelm yourself with a list of things to do today that is so large you couldn’t finish if you had a week! Write all the tasks down, and then prioritize what must be done today. Once you’ve done that, rank them in order for that day. One of the most important keys is that all-important check mark! Looking at those checks by the items we complete gives us a sense of accomplishment and momentum!

Another powerful tool is delegation. John D. Rockefeller said, “I would rather earn 1% off 100 people’s efforts than 100% of my own.” There is a lot of wisdom in that thought. Effective delegation is one of the most powerful time management and efficiency tools, and it is applicable to all of us, whether we are stay at home moms, volunteers, or corporate executives.

Here, briefly, are some of the other tricks and tips for more effective time management. For the complete article with more great tips on effective time management, email us at terrydnewberry@bellsouth.net and request You Have All The Time You Need! No charge! This one’s on us.

Remember –

1) Plan ahead regarding how you spend your time.

2) Make a “to-do” list. Prioritize the items on your list. Mark them off as they are completed, and reprioritize as new items come up.

3) Create routines for yourself.

4) Delegate when appropriate.

5) Plan ahead for specific errands or trips.  Have a purpose in mind for what you are doing, and know what your goal or outcome is. Coordinate your time. For instance, if the dry cleaner is on the way to the grocery store, plan to visit both on the same trip.

6) Schedule time for yourself. In our age of frantic activity, noise and distraction, it is more important than ever to have time alone to think, plan and reflect.

7) Set deadlines! Accomplishments are dreams with deadlines!

Each of us has the same amount of minutes in each day. The difference is in how we use them!

Remember, for the complete article with more great tips on effective time management, email us at terrydnewberry@bellsouth.net and request your free copy of  You Have All The Time You Need!

Am I using my time wisely?

What 3 things can I do to improve how I use time?

If you like this blog, please comment and forward to your friends!

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A Problem or a Predicament?

An Art of the Question Blog

Is it a problem or a predicament?

Two-and-a-half months.  76 days.  Over 1,800 hours.  6 million endless seconds.  Wet.  Cold.   Hungry.  Thirsty.  Adrift in the Atlantic Ocean – alone.

Steven Callahan left Rhode Island on his sloop, the Napoleon Solo, a 21 footer that he designed and built himself.  He set sail solo, bound for Bermuda.  From there, he sailed to England.

Leaving England, he set sail for Antigua.  Seven days into the voyage, in the middle of a night hurricane, something hit his boat and put a hole in the hull.  The Napoleon Solo began taking on water and was soon swamped.

Callahan escaped to an inflatable raft.  He had a small provision of food and water, a sleeping bag, a few flares, navigation charts, and a small device to distill drinking water from the sea.  Ocean swells soon separated him from the Solo.  He was adrift in the middle of the Atlantic, at night, in a hurricane – alone.

He survived the night.  The next morning found him drifting with the current and trade winds. His small stores of food and water were soon exhausted.  He made a spear for fishing and devised an elaborate system to capture rainwater for drinking.  He existed on about a pint of water per day – the size of two school-sized milk cartons.

Steve dealt with a leaking raft, sharks, and equipment which did not function properly.  He lost over one-third of his body weight and suffered saltwater sores over his entire body from being constantly soaked with cold seawater.  He dealt with physical deterioration as well as extreme stress brought on by the situation.

Callahan spotted nine ships, but none of them saw his flares.  Facing discouragement bordering on despair, he realized that he had to rely on himself to survive. He began a daily routine designed to save his life.  He navigated as best he could, given the currents and the lack of sails or rudder on the raft.  He fished and harvested water.  He exercised.  He devised ways to measure his progress. He worked and watched.

For 76 days – over two months, Callahan remained adrift, captive of sea, wind and current.  After drifting 1,800 nautical miles, he saw lights.  He was near the coast of the small island of Marie Galante, near Guadeloupe.  He was rescued the next morning by a fishing vessel.

Steven Callahan called his voyage “a view of heaven from a seat in hell.” He found strength within himself, a will to survive and thrive.  His exile uncovered gifts and unlocked a profound positive mindset. 

Speaking of the event, Callahan said, “There is a stage of recoil that hits. You escape the sinking boat but once you are in the life raft, disorientation sets in. You start asking yourself ‘How can I make a life here?‘”  

Notice that he did not ask “If”. He asked “How”.  The choice between the two makes all the difference.

 Steven Callahan could not control what happened to the Napoleon Solo.  He could not control the wind or the rain or the direction of his drift.

But he could control his mindset

He could control his attitude and his approach to the problems he experienced.  He salvaged success and rescued himself through ingenuity, courage and a will that refused to give up.

John Maxwell, in his great book The Difference Maker, distinguishes between problems and predicamentsPredicaments are things that we cannot control.  Problems are things that we can control. 

Steven Callahan’s predicament was that he was a castaway, adrift on the Atlantic Ocean in a small life raft, a floating speck that could not be seen in the vast expanse of the sea.   His problem was that he didn’t have supplies.  He couldn’t control the fact that his sloop sank.  But he could control his problem of food and water.  He made a spear and caught fish to eat.  He fashioned a way to capture rainwater. He controlled his mindset and attitude.  He exercised and monitored progress.  He became a problem solver.

How about you? What predicament are your dealing with? Are you wasting energy trying to control the things you can’t control?  Shift that focus away from the predicament, and apply it to solving the problem.  As we solve the problem, the things within our control, we are better able to manage through the predicament.

Callahan went a step further.  He used the predicament and its problems to create a solution to benefit others.  His ordeal led him to develop a new kind of life raft called “The Clam”.  It is a utility craft that eliminates many limitations of traditional rafts to help sailors better survive.  It has a canopy to shield the sailor from the sun, a fiberglass hull to help prevent punctures, and most importantly – a sail.  The sail allows the castaway to navigate, rather than be at the mercy of winds, tides and currents.

Often I am asked the question, “Why? Why did this happen?”  But the real question for our growth is not “why”.  The real question is “what” – what can we learn from the experience, and how can it benefit others?

Steven Callahan experienced 76 unimaginable days.  His predicament and its problems changed his life, and the lives of others. But he refused to give up. Instead, he became a problem solver.  How about you? How will you solve your problems? How will your experience benefit others?


Heroes and Heartache

Heroes and Heartache

An Art of the Question Blog

 

The hero is one who kindles a great light in the world, who sets up blazing torches in the dark streets of life for men to see by.  

                                                                                   – Felix Adler

“She just looked like she was sleeping like a baby, but she wasn’t sleeping. She was gone.”

And it was true. 16-year-old Christina Heichelbech lost her life, the victim of an EF-3 tornado that destroyed much of the small town of Clay, Alabama, a suburb of Birmingham – and also my home.

On Monday, January 23, 2012, at 3:58 am, the deadly EF-3, as wide as 8 football fields laid end to end, packing winds of 150 mph, cut through our community. It destroyed or damaged nearly 300 homes, injured over 100 people, and left the landscape looking like a war zone. Roofs ripped from homes, houses reduced to splintered piles of rubble, cars buried under trees and debris, and trees twisted out of the ground with their root balls still intact, tossed across roads and power lines. Gas lines were ruptured, power lines were downed, roads and streets were impassable, strewn with the detritus of life and home and family.

Families wandered in the pre-dawn darkness, barefoot and pajama clad, dazed, looking like zombies. Lost and shocked, unable to comprehend the utter destruction, the ruins in the rain.

We went to sleep on a normal Sunday night, and awoke on Monday to a world that was changed forever.

And that is when the magic started.

Before dawn, they began to arrive. Firemen, policemen, members of the armed forces, neighbors and family members and friends. And they kept coming. Strangers from across town, from other cities, from other states. It began with a trickle that became a full-fledged flood of helping hands and listening ears and strong backs. They came with chainsaws and blankets. They came with sandwiches and fresh-baked cookies. They came with coffee and water and soft drinks. They came with kind hearts and teary eyes. They came with grills and supplies and fresh clothes and diapers. They came.

Heroes.

Webster’s defines hero as “a person admired for his achievements and noble qualities or one who shows great courage”. In Greek mythology, a hero was a demigod. They figured heavily in the ancient Greek religion. In time, the concept of a hero was someone who faced danger and difficulty, but pressed on to help others in need.

That is a great description of those who showed up in Clay Alabama in the hours and days following the devastation.  They worked tirelessly, cutting trees and moving tons of debris. They delivered food and supplies, and opened their homes to those rendered homeless by the storm.  They made sandwiches and iced tea and drew colorful inspirational pictures on lunch bags.  They gave to others from their own pantry, their own closet, their own wallet.

Their jobs done, many of our heroes have begun to pack their trucks and cars with their tools and supplies, ready for the next call of someone in need. They will be leaving us soon.

But Clay, Alabama is a better place because of them. Our streets are cleared, the destruction has been organized into neat piles of wood and metal and plastic and glass that line the roadside everywhere you go.  We have places to sleep and clothes to wear. We have food to eat and warm blankets to cover our beds. We have new friends who proved themselves in the crucible of disaster as someone who listened and comforted us when we broke into tears without warning.  

And as important as all those things are, and as appreciated as they are, our heroes leave an even greater legacy. In their wake, they leave inspiration. They leave a bright spot on a horizon that is otherwise dark and discouraging.

Our heroes leave us with a sense of hope.

And maybe, of one day, becoming heroes ourselves.

Terry D. Newberry

Clay, Alabama

1 February 2012

 


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