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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Why I will never work more than 40 hours a week

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In today’s society being a workaholic is esteemed. People that burn the midnight oil to get a project done wear their accomplishment as a badge of honor, but is it really an accomplishment? How is working MORE something we should aspire to? If you are putting in more hours at the office you are putting in less time with family, friends, and exercising. Something we all need to stay healthy.

Now let me clarify this. I’m not saying I NEVER work more than 40 hours a week, because there are certainly times where that is necessary, but it’s not the norm. Family, friends, and life are far more important than any amount of work you can do at the office, or building a business, even if that project can cure cancer. Time spent working comes at a cost, many times that is neglected relationships and/or personal health. Below are eight reasons why I chose not to overwork myself, in pictures.

 

Horseshoe Canyon Ranch Camping

My daughter Abby at 8 months.

 Weekend rock climbing trips with my wife and daughter.

 

Town Lake - Austtin

Town Lake from the Lamar St. pedestrian bridge.

Running Town Lake with my daughter. Every other weekend we go on an 11 mile run around the lake.

Galveston Sea Wall Biking

Family biking weekend along the Galveston Sea Wall

 Weekend bike rides at the beach with my wife and daughter.

 

Fun photo at a friend's wedding.

Fun photo at a friend’s wedding.

 Date nights with my wife.

 

Baby Swing

Abby, enjoying the swing. Once she’s in, it’s hard to get her out.

Play time with my daughter.

 

Cactus Rose Ultramarathon

45.5 miles into a 50 mile race, and happy as a clam! Had I been working too much I wouldn’t have been able to train for this race, TWICE!

 Trail races, by myself, and sometimes with family.

 

Kristy and at Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Kristy and at Emerald Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Breathtaking views of the mountains.

 

Day of the Dead Festival that we randomly stumbled into during a family walk.

Day of the Dead Festival that we randomly stumbled into during a family walk.

Impromptu , family fun times.

Even if you don’t have a family; overworking only causes you stress and to miss out on more important things in life – people! Even if you do something for a living that you absolutely love (like myself), burning the midnight oil just to grow faster or get ahead always comes at a cost.

If you struggle to get lots done in an eight hour day I would suggest trying the KanBan system for prioritizing and organizing work. Since implementing this system my productivity has gone up significantly, thus leaving me more time to spend with family and do other things I love.

Personal KanBan a visual way to manage work

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I’m addicted to Evernote to some extent. I use it as a mind dump. I use it to manage my massive to-do list, take meeting notes, record receipts, track mileage, and store important information that I need to access frequently. It has many uses, but recently I have realized it fails in the way I need it most…managing my to-do list, and this is by far the most important need.

About two weeks ago I was so overwhelmed with my LIST, that it crippled me from moving forward. I couldn’t even figure out where to begin. But, a week ago  I met my saving grace, and was introduced to Personal KanBan. Personal KanBan is a way to visualize and complete work. It moves beyond the typical to-do list and allows you to see everything going on at once.

My biggest hang up with my LIST was that even if something was in limbo, or I was waiting on somebody to finish something before moving forward, it remained in the list, so it looked enormously huge, even though I was actually making progress on many of my tasks.

KanBan basically utilizes a horizontal and vertical column system to visualize work flow. For example, my Personal KanBan has 6 columns that work flows through: To-Do, Ready, Today, Waiting, In Progress, and Done (within this column I break it into horizontal columns by day).

Personal KanBan

My Personal KanBan at Bearded Brothers.

To-Do: Obviously, this is my list of stuff to get done
Ready: This represents the things I plan on working next, or things that are not, “future projects”, they are tasks ready to be worked on in the very near future
Today: Represents what I need to get done that day.
Waiting: Represents tasks I have started working on, but am awaiting a response to move forward, or waiting on somebody else to finish another piece of the puzzle.
In Progress: Simply means I have started the project, and I am the one responsible for completing it and need to take further action.
Done: Means I have completed that task and no longer have to worry about it.

The system is amazing. I have never been so excited about a way to mange my work before. The only other methods I have seen prior to this were variations of the typical task list…just version 2.0 of Overwhelming.

I have only been using the system for a week now, and already feel way less overwhelmed, and I have an excellent grasp of everything going on. I’m going home at night with less stress; I don’t have my list swirling around in my head because I know exactly what I need to do.

I also plan on using it with my team at Bearded Brothers to manage projects and work flow. Since it’s column based the columns can be used to represent different stages of a typical workflow, and the project moves through the columns until it reaches completion, thus allowing you to track its progress and always know what the status is at any given point in time.

The best part about this system is that it helps you become more efficient in your work. As you use the system you will start to see where things are getting bogged down. For example; at the start of my week I had nothing in the “In Progress” category, but within a few days I had five tasks sitting in there, I also had 5 tasks in the waiting column. This lets me know I have a lot of things I need to follow up on, and possibly need to be more diligent in following up with people and/or making sure I’m doing everything I can to move projects forward. It will also give you a realistic idea of how much you can complete in a given day, how long projects typically take, and it will help you determine high vs, low value tasks.

I’m really excited about continuing to use this system and eventually adopting the digital version of my large physical KanBan, so I can work from anywhere. I have been making an effort this last week to work in the office every day so I can get a better feel for what KanBan is really all about, and I have honestly enjoyed taking my PostIt Notes, placing them on the wall, and moving them through the various columns until completion.

Here are a few more resources for Personal KanBan. I also wanted to say thanks to Gerry, our Couch Surfing guest from Canada that recently stayed with us and introduced me to this system.

Personal KanBan – Visualize Learn Improve
Blog post on Nomad8 – Also sells small physical KanBan boards
Lean Kit – The digital version of a physical KanBan baord

20 things I wish I would I could go back and tell my 20 year old self

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Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Looking back to my college years, there a whole slew of things I wish I would have known. Parents and other adults taught many of these things to me, but I refused to buy into them. Had my 35-year-old self visited me, I might have had a different perspective on things. Here is what I would tell my 20-year-old self if I could go back in time.

  1. Pick a major that sounds fun and interesting to you. Forget picking a major just because it seems like a good fit, or will offer a career that will make lots of money. True success will come when you pursue what you are passionate about.
  2. Start your own business, even if it’s selling lemonade on the corner of campus. Do something that will earn you extra income and teach you about running a business.
  3. Work fun and exciting jobs. Forget working at Wal-Mart, or that telemarketing firm. Get a job that excites you and that you are excited to walk into every day. Don’t settle for a J.O.B.
  4. Save Money. Plain and simple.
  5. Don’t have debt. Walk past those campus credit card reps. The free t-shirt is not worth it. They rip after a couple of washes anyway. Being slave to the lender is not fun. And avoid student loan debt too, if you can, unless you want to be paying that beast off for most of your adult life.
  6. Budget. Something I wish I would have been able to tell my 16-year-old self. Don’t just set theoretical budgets. Actually stick to them, and make sure savings is a part of that.
  7. Invest Money. Again, this goes along with the above, but saving money now will set you up for a way better retirement, even if you are only investing a small amount. It will yield far bigger results than starting to save in your late 30’s.
  8. Plan to retire early. Don’t buy into the idea that retirement occurs at 65, or when you have enough money saved. Start planning now, and you will be able to retire very early.
  9. Don’t plan on retiring! Sounds like a contradiction, but “retiring” simply allows you to pursue other jobs and business ventures with little risk and low stress. Setting yourself up for financial health early on will prepare you to live comfortably when you are older.
  10. Start giving generously early. Donate money to your church and local charities. If you don’t have giving as part of your budget early on it’s going to be harder to ad it in there as you start making more money, so start giving generously now.
  11. Eat healthy. Don’t eat so much fast food, make your own meals, and I don’t mean cheese sticks and pizza. Learn to cook tasty healthy meals, and don’t gorge. It made you 50lbs overweight.
  12. Exercise more. Remember that time that cute girl beat you at basketball? It was because you were winded and out of shape. So, run several times a week, lift weights, or go to the climbing gym. Get in shape, you will feel better, and be able to do more things.
  13.  Don’t smoke. I’m actually kidding. I enjoyed many of good conversations around a cigar, cheap cigarette or a pipe. Smoking creates a unique bond between men. My only regret now is smoking too much, and not giving it up sooner. This is something that definitely shouldn’t be a mainstay in ones life, but it’s not an evil that some people make it out to be.
  14. Really and truly don’t care what others think about you. It was easy for you to say, but deep down you were a people pleaser. Don’t listen to those lies and pursue your dreams, not what other people want you to do, or expect you to do.
  15. 15. Don’t stress over finding a mate. So much wasted time and mental energy can be spent pining over a certain girl, or surfing Internet dating sites. Stop it! Be you. Be bold. be brave! Enjoy life as you are, and take advantage of all the free time you have as a single person. Life will be much easier if you don’t stress over things that are not in your complete control.
  16. Develop a sense of fashion. Stop saying, “ I don’t care how I look” and act like a man. Dress nice, and learn what clothes work together. You will feel better and more confident the better you dress.
  17. Do what you want, not what makes sense. Taking the first job offered for 25K a year made a lot of sense at the time, but the 5+ years wasted there did not.  Pursue something that is going to make you happy and allow you to utilize your gifts and talents.
  18. Ignore conventional wisdom. Conventional wisdom tells you take the moderately paying “secure” government job, but truth of the matter is, no job is really secure. Moving across the country doesn’t sound like the wisest idea either, but truth be told, things always end up working out. So, pursue what you want, not what everybody else says you should do.
  19. REALLY, listen to your gut. This is something I haven’t been really in tune with until my 30’s, but if you have a bad feeling about something, it’s probably not a good idea…RUN.
  20. Get out doors more. Come out from behind the computer screen, get off Instant Messenger and get outside. Go for a walk, run, or swim. The outdoors are amazing and have far more to offer than a computer screen.