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5 Steps to a Zen Commute

5 Steps to a Zen Commute

“I love sitting in traffic,” said no one ever.

You have to get from A to B, B to C, and C to D. You need to get groceries, go to work, get to the gym, and maybe you would like to go out for a drink. Let’s face it – most of the time that involves getting into your car. And if you live in a big city, more often than not, it also involves traffic. How can you make that time less stressful and more zen?

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Here are 5 tips:

1. Listen to an audio book.

How often do you complain that you do not have enough time to read? How much time do you spend in the car? Why not use this time to check a book off your to-do list, or learn about something new that interests you? Here’s the best part: the library. The library has hundreds of audiobooks to be checked out – for free! When you have an audio CD, it automatically stops and starts up again when you get in and out of your car. No playing around with your cell phone, no problems if you are in a rush and cannot find where you left off last. Audio CDs make it simple and efficient to listen to in the car. You’ll be surprised when you find yourself nodding in agreement with your latest self-help book, or laughing out loud to a celebrity autobiography. Your commute goes by faster, and it does not feel like you are just sitting in your car wasting time.

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2. Find your calm.

What symbolizes calm to you? Find a small object or picture that reminds you of calm: a picture of a beach, a pinecone, a flower, a pebble, or a picture of your family. Whatever it is, hang it from your mirror or place it somewhere close to you. When you are feeling overwhelmed, take a moment to hold your calming object. Reconnect with your breath. Change your perspective and realize that change is the only constant in our lives, and this frustrating or exhausting experience will end. Make the choice to breathe. You do not have to judge yourself or change how you are feeling. Just breathe. Yes, you would probably like to be anywhere but in your car, but here you are. How can you connect with this moment?

3. Be grateful.

When you find yourself slipping down the slope of self-pity, begin to list all the things in your life you are thankful for. If you are on your way to work, that means you have a job, and that is something to be grateful for. If you are headed to pick up your kid, they will probably tell you a funny story on the way home and make you laugh. If you are headed to the grocery store, it means you have money to put food on the table. Begin to focus on and appreciate all the wonderful things you have in your life, and realizing that extra time in the car is sometimes just a price we pay for living wonderful, full lives.

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4. Practice positivity.

Stuck in traffic? Look around you at all the people who are also in the same spot. This is the best way to get out of the movie scene you have created for yourself in your head. Wish them a safe commute. Wish for their health and happiness. Send them good vibes and you will also start to feel better. The good energy you send out will come back to you.

5. Visualize.

Use your commute to visualize your day. How do you see it going? What challenges do you foresee, and how can you handle them with grace? What choices will you face? Use your time in the car to manifest the day you want.

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Featured photo credit: www.picjumbo.com via picjumbo.com

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Last Updated on April 8, 2019

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

Unless you’re infinitely rich or prepared to rack up major debt, you need to budget your income. Setting limits on how much you are willing to spend helps control expenses. But what about your time? Do you budget your time or spend it carelessly?

Deadlines are the chronological equivalent of a budget. By setting aside a portion of time to complete a task, goal or project in advance you avoid over-spending. Deadlines can be helpful but they can also be a source of frustration if set improperly. Here are some tips for making deadlines work:

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  1. Use Parkinson’s Law – Parkinson’s Law states that tasks expand to fill the time given to them. By setting a strict deadline in advance you can cut off this expansion and focus on what is most important.
  2. Timebox – Set small deadlines of 60-90 minutes to work on a specific task. After the time is up you finish. This cuts procrastinating and forces you to use your time wisely.
  3. 80/20 – The Pareto Principle suggests that 80% of the value is contained in 20% of the input. Apply this rule to projects to focus on that critical 20% first and fill out the other 80% if you still have time.
  4. Project VS Deadline – The more flexible your project, the stricter your deadline. If a task has relatively little flexibility in completion a softer deadline will keep you sane. If the task can grow easily, keep a tight deadline to prevent waste.
  5. Break it Down – Any deadline over one day should be broken down into smaller units. Long deadlines fail to motivate if they aren’t applied to manageable units.
  6. Hofstadter’s Law – Basically this law states that it always takes longer than you think. A rule I’ve heard in software development is to double the time you think you need. Then add six months. Be patient and give yourself ample time for complex projects.
  7. Backwards Planning – Set the deadline first and then decide how you will achieve it. This approach is great when choices are abundant and projects could go on indefinitely.
  8. Prototype – If you are attempting something new, test out smaller versions of a project to help you decide on a final deadline. Write a 10 page e-book before your 300 page novel or try to increase your income by 10% before aiming to double it.
  9. Find the Weak Link – Figure out what could ruin your plans and accomplish it first. Knowing the unknown can help you format your deadlines.
  10. No Robot Deadlines – Robots can work without sleep, relaxation or distractions. You aren’t a robot. Don’t schedule your deadline with the expectation you can work sixteen hour days to complete it. Deathmarches aren’t healthy.
  11. Get Feedback – Get a realistic picture from people working with you. Giving impossible deadlines to contractors or employees will only build resentment.
  12. Continuous Planning – If you use a backwards planning model, you need to constantly be updating plans to fit your deadline. This means making cuts, additions or refinements so the project will fit into the expected timeframe.
  13. Mark Excess Baggage – Identify areas of a task or project that will be ignored if time grows short. What e-mails will you have to delete if it takes too long to empty your inbox? What features will your product lack if you need a rapid finish?
  14. Review – For deadlines over a month long take a weekly review to track your progress. This will help you identify methods you can use to speed up work and help you plan more efficiently for the future.
  15. Find Shortcuts – Almost any task or project has shortcuts you can use to save time. Is there a premade library you can use instead of building your own functions? An autoresponder to answer similar e-mails? An expert you can call to help solve a problem?
  16. Churn then Polish – Set a strict deadline for basic completion and then set a more comfortable deadline to enhance and polish afterwards. Often churning out the basics of a task quickly will require no more polishing afterwards than doing it slowly.
  17. Reminders – Post reminders of your deadlines everywhere. Creating a sense of urgency with your deadlines is necessary to keep them from getting pushed aside by distractions.
  18. Forward Planning – Not mutually exclusive with backwards planning, this involves planning the details of a project out before setting a deadline. Great for achieving clarity about what you are trying to accomplish before making arbitrary time limits.
  19. Set a Timer – Get one that beeps. Somehow the countdown of a timer appears more realistic for a ninety minute timebox than just glancing at your clock.
  20. Write them Down – Any deadline over a few hours needs to be written down. Otherwise it is an inclination not a goal. Having written deadlines makes them more tangible than internal decisions alone.
  21. Cheap/Fast/Good – Ben Casnocha in My Start Up Life mentions that you can have only have two of the three. Pick two of the cheap/fast/good dimensions before starting a project to help you prioritize.
  22. Be Patient – Using a deadline may seem to be the complete opposite of patience. But being patient with inflexible tasks is necessary to focus on their completion. The paradox is that the more patient you are, the more you can focus. The more you can focus the quicker the results will come!

Featured photo credit: Estée Janssens via unsplash.com

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