Pull the weeds

I have been avoiding my front yard for weeks. I also have not been watering it [1], so it hasn’t been growing all that much. However, the weeks somehow find a way to keep growing. Every time I turn onto my street, those nagging weeds stare at me like my 6 lb. poodle who insists she hasn’t done anything wrong. I seem to consistently come up with excuses why I shouldn’t move my capable self outside and attack the yard.

This morning however, was a new day and I decided to stop making excuses. Sarah had a recovery run [2] so I used that time while she was away, to make some progress in the garage and in the yard. I’ll spare the details on the atrocities of my yard, except for the realization I had while pulling weeds.

It seems that weeds can always be compared to sin in life, and how it’s best to address the root of an issue in life, rather than only the surface issue. I agree with that, but today I was comparing weeds more to the workplace – particularly organization, planning, and next actions. Over the last few weeks, I have been trying really hard to work out of Omnifocus and capture everything that comes to mind or into my email inbox, no matter how small or irrelevant-seeming. I want to get in the habit of having a consistent workflow and process.

A couple weeks ago, I found this post at SimplicityBliss.com which shares how to do a daily review with Omnifocus[3]. I think I found the post because I was researching how to better use contexts[4]. Anyway, it’s been a huge help for me and is the first thing I do when I sit down at my laptop in the morning[5].

So, back to the weeds-pulling. It has been a little challenging to re-orient myself with how I keep track of workday items and emails that get dropped on my plate. It’s so much easier to avoid capturing and to instead do when I think of something, or when I see that email that won’t take that long. That’s what I will call, a “performance mentality”[6]. This mentality might make me look good to a few people, because I respond to them quickly or always say “yes”. But in the end, does this approach help me achieve my goals?[7] Nope. My goals, and the needs of my coworkers and business partners, will be better served if I take the time to “pull the weeds” (bad habits), create a clean foundation to work from, which is organized and efficient, and then work and carry out tasks from that place. I must say though: creating that clean foundation and weed-free working area is half the battle. It’s not about how much you know, like Dave Ramsey says[8]. It’s about changing our behavior.

What’s the hardest part about modifying behavior or following through on a plan of action?

  1. What’s the point? I live in Texas.  ↩

  2. She’s training for the Marine Corp Marathon this October  ↩

  3. A quick 10 minute process to get a jump on the day  ↩

  4. Another journey in and of itself!  ↩

  5. No, I don’t check email first. That doesn’t come until 10am.  ↩

  6. You know, it’s all about looks and performing well for people around you  ↩

  7. It’s not all about me, but I do need to take responsibility for my career  ↩

  8. Personal Finance is 80% behavior and 20% head knowledge  ↩


My current reading list

I recently took inventory of all the books I have in my posession, which I have either started, or plan to read. Here they are, in no particular order. However, I think the two that I will finish first are Public Speaking for Success and How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Public Speaking for Success
The Power of Who
Chi Marathon
How to Win Friends and Influence People
The Starfish and the Spider
Passion and Purpose
Steve Jobs

Launch Gmail to a blank page instead of the inbox

At the suggestion of Merlin Mann on his latest visit with Mac Power Users, he recommended a little Gmail hack that is amazing and I have to share. 

Requirements: Google Chrome

First, create a new label. Name it “Null”. Now go to that label and grab the url. It will probably be something like this: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/?shva=1#label/Null

Next, go to Chrome, and right-click in the address bar to select “Edit Search Engines”. Create a new search engine, just like this:



Now, you can go to Chrome, type “gm” in the address bar. Press enter, and your GMail will load to your new label which bypasses your inbox and can allow you to search or compose, without be bombarded with new email. 


Chrome Plugin: Instachrome

I am a huge fan of Instapaper – especially the iPad app. I am adding things to my reading list all day long. I could create a book from all of the articled I have saved and want to read. One way that makes it really easy for me to add articles is with the Instachrome plugin for Google Chrome. I used to click the icon in Chrome and then click “Read Later”. But lately, I’ve been using a keyboard shortcut of Opt + Shift + I which saves the current page to Instapaper … And then I set it to automatically close the page when it saves. Try it out!

Running naked is like living without a budget

I ran 11 miles yesterday. Naked.

That probably got your attention. Actually, what I mean by “naked” is that I ran without my Garmin GPS watch, which will tell me my distance and pace. These watches are a great tool for almost any athlete. I’ve had mine for over a year now and it revolutionized my running because it gave me all sorts of great data that I could use to compare against different training runs.

I charged my watch the night before my run to make sure it was ready to go. But I went to turn it on as I was prepping to make my way out the front door, but nothing. No sign of life on the thing. Well, darn. I grabbed my ‘regular’ watch that would at least give me my overall time as a last resort.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to do a long run without my Garmin because I had a little epiphany about life and money. As I was on my run, the only data I had was the total time I had run. I didn’t have my GPS to tell me if I had started out too fast or if I was being too conservative with my pace. It was all based on feeling and I “hoped” that I was running at a consistent pace but there was always a question in my mind of whether I would run out of energy too soon, or not push myself enough and finish too slow. Sometimes it can be good to run ‘naked’ and not be tied to a watch but in this case I equate running “naked” with living life without a financial budget.

Think about it. You’re going along and make a few purchases at the beginning of the month. No biggie. Maybe a few more swipes of the debit or credit card a few days later. Go out for lunch. Then go out to dinner the same day. Maybe you only order an entrée instead of a drink to go with it. It still adds up. All the while, you’re running “naked”, not able to track how much is being spent or how much you’re allowed to spend, based on a budget.

I am still learning how to improve and simplify our budgeting process. I definitely made it too complicated in the beginning, and that wasn’t appetizing to Sarah. Oh, and I didn’t include her in the conversation. I just said “this is what we’re doing”. Where’s the teamwork in that? (Nowhere!)

Do you have a budget? What do you like or dislike about it?

What if life had an Undo Send button

It happens often, we write emails, hovering over words or sentences, wondering if they come across the right way. Then we decide to hit send after all. But wait! Too late, you already clicked send. Unless you use Gmail and have the Undo Send feature turned on.

Undo Send came in handy for me at least a couple of times today. Have you ever wished that life had an “undo send” button? What would you undo?

Right off the bat, I think that I would undo my decision to attend a private university for 3 years and amass $80,000 of student loans. But, then I wouldn’t have the friends, experiences, or life changes I have met along the way. I wouldn’t have met my amazing wife. We wouldn’t have a great debt-free story and history to share with others to encourage them to also become debt-free. So, even though there might be instances in life that I’d like to undo, those moments define me and shape me into who I am today, and the person I continue to grow into.

IM vs Phone

One thing that I am realizing, is that I wish we used the ol’ telephone in our day-to-day work and life more. Here is why:

I am always logged in to our internal chat throughout the work day (we use Microsoft OCS now). It also has built-in audio chat. Most of the time it’s cool. However, I’m not as keen on it when I get those messages that say “are you available?”, which makes me feel pressured to say “yes”. Where did the days go, when you just called someone’s extension when you needed to talk to them – and if they were available then they’d pick up. If they didn’t answer, then maybe you leave a message or just try again later. I think I would have liked those days.

Tweet Less, Kiss More – via NYTimes.com

I’m not opposed to the remarkable technological advances of the past several years. I don’t want to go back to typewriters and carbon paper and yellowing clips from the newspaper morgue. I just think that we should treat technology like any other tool. We should control it, bending it to our human purposes.

via Op-Ed Columnist – Tweet Less, Kiss More – NYTimes.com.

Tinted window film for home

My office at home faces the grueling afternoon Texas sun. So, to keep energy costs down, and keep me sane, I got some tinted window film from Home Depot. I am in the process of putting on the layers. I’ve done two so far and will finish the rest tonight (maybe). Here is a comparison of the windows so far. Hopefully you can tell which two have tint on them…?

tinted windows 2 of 4

(ɹɐɟ os sʍopuıʍ oʍʇ ɯoʇʇoq ǝɥʇ uo sı ʇuıʇ ǝɥʇ)