A Bias For Action: Procrastination is a Personal Pitfall

Read This Now, Not Later

For a number of years I taught a class called “A Bias For Action” to literally thousands of employees in classrooms, meetings and one-on-one.

It was important to make certain we had “shared expectations” and “working definitions” immediately. Hard as it might be to admit it, we sometimes put off the tough stuff in our lives and especially our job.

Some leaders would avoid confronting a direct report who isn’t performing within the new work environment. Others had a tendency to postpone projects that would test their self-confidence, abilities, comfort zone or patience. But procrastination is a leadership pitfall. Causing stress and anxiety, it sticks with you like glue until you’ve addressed it. So tackle the tough stuff first, and you’ll immediately eliminate undue stress, build your abilities, raise your comfort level, and boost self-confidence, too.

Here are some points to keep in mind:

Procrastination is the enemy. 

According to “Psychology Today,” 20% of people are chronic procrastinators. They avoid challenging tasks or addressing big issues, even seeking out opportunities for distraction.

So, what’s the big deal? Procrastination is negative and always has consequences — some direct, some indirect. These negative implications can be tangible, like a missed deadline, and intangible, such as irritability from losing sleep over an issue. It’s an enemy that affects you, your team and your company’s potential to succeed.

Addressing challenges is often easier than you think. 

Taking the first step is the hardest part, but things often go smoother after that. The classic example is when you’ve needed to address a performance issue with a direct report and been a bit worried over doing so. Then when you go to talk about it, the person is surprisingly receptive, rather than reactive, and your anxiety melts away. You think, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?” You’ve freed up your emotional and mental currency, the problem is addressed, and now you’re able to get back to and really focus on your main job.

Dealing with “it” leads to greater productivity.

Some people claim that they work better under pressure and actually use that clichéd excuse to avoid a project, problem or person. But this mindset’s repercussions can prevent and destroy productivity.

For example, maybe you’ve put off fixing some software bug because it would test your patience and take too much time. Yet the crippled system slows the daily performance of your direct reports — and then stops altogether when it crashes one day. Everyone (most notably you) now suffers big consequences. You must do (in panic mode) what you previously put off, plus repair and pay for more serious damage that’s now been done. No doubt, fixing the problem in the first place could have lessened or prevented the blow, yet one common reason people procrastinate “dealing with it” is simply because they don’t know how or where to start.

Begin by putting some ideas down on paper and then build a specific, deadline-oriented plan for tackling that tough stuff…and there will be A LOT during this time. Doing so will help you create the accountability and steps necessary for your goal achievement. And it will also help prevent further procrastination, so you can drive, rather than dodge, that critical, ever-productive change.

 6 Strategies ASAP To Keep Procrastination At Bay:

🔹Start on the day before day one. Your strategy to avoid workplace procrastination should start before your employee’s first day. Start with clear and accurate job description matched up to accurately qualified candidates, then analyze the next steps of your hiring process.

By recruiting and hiring employees that possess the right skills for the jobs at hand, you’ll get off to a good foundation in your quest to avoid procrastination pitfalls. Incorporate checkpoints in your interview questions, reference check process and in your interview testing process to look for signs that your potential new-hire has a procrastination track record.

Clarify goals and expectations. Now that you’ve done your best to hire the right employee for the right role, it’s quintessential that you set them up for success with a strong start. By communicating company-wide (as well as departmental) goals clearly and defining the expectations of the specific role, you’ll alleviate gray areas that could lead to workplace procrastination.

Make communication a two-way street. As business owners try to avoid workplace procrastination and correct it when it occurs, opening the communication lines with employees can be the greatest way to drill down on the causes. Create multiple communication vehicles to help employees communicate with management regarding issues that could lead to and improve upon workplace procrastination. This communication strategy can consist of surveys, anonymous comments boxes and push notifications via mobile app or intranet tools.

Train, train and retrain. Bake procrastination avoidance strategies into your training program for all employees. Be sure to train managers on ways to spot, address and avoid workplace procrastination issues among their teams.

Work on your company culture. A team of motivated, engaged employees feels connected to the company mission at a deeper level and less prone to procrastination. Company culture can be the edge your business operations needs to keep procrastination and all its repercussions at bay. Creating a strong culture may consist of employee recognition programs, career development opportunities as well as work life balance considerations.

🔹Trust but verify. It’s important to place trust in your team and trust your hunches regarding your business, but the importance of measurement can’t be discounted. By setting up systems to measure deadlines, productivity and detect dips before they have detrimental impacts, you will gain real visibility into your business operations. Using this data, you can avoid workplace procrastination as well as be able to quantifiably reward the positive efforts of your team.

Letting procrastination run rampant in your workplace can cost your business customers, impact your bottom line and create a negative culture. If you make smart hiring decisions, set your team up for success and measurement performance, however, you’ll be able to avoid the complications that workplace procrastination can bring.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

Americans Seek More Wellness Opportunities as Pandemic Eases

For those who go beyond corporate news propaganda and pay close attention, the pandemic continues to teach many of us critical lessons.

One of the most valuable knowledge gains is realizing most of the media is corrupt and dishonest. Chances are, all of us have fallen guilty to seeing a new claim and not doing our own research to confirm if what they presented is true.

This article goes beyond the political, Big Pharma, Big Tech and Academia mistruths and indoctrination to zero in on our health, wellness and nutrition.

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From the moment consumers experienced the toilet paper shortages of 2020 to the most recent supply chain scarcities on store shelves (along with lockdowns, business closings, controversial vaccine and mask mandates), the one thing most people concentrated on improving was their health.

We personally made several significant changes. We moved from an urban area to a less expensive home far out in the Texas Hill Country, built contingencies for essentials (water, power, communication…), started a food garden, increased our exercise, and enhanced our nutrition/supplement intake.

A heightened—and understandable—focus on health, natural and wellness products by consumers is increasing. Today, “natural and wellness” products make up a $187 billion market that is growing at 12.5%. 

In fact, natural and wellness products are leading growth across consumer products in 2021.

As conventional positioned products grew 6.3% over 52 weeks in American grocery stores, specialty and wellness positioned products grew 14.1% and natural-positioned products grew 9.8%.  

Lessons Learned

Remember what we learned about the dishonesty in news media, Big Tech, Big Pharma and Academia. The same strategies can be used in other media. Be cautious of convincing advertisements alerting us to the latest foods that will help us live longer and be healthier that are plastered on billboards, appearing across our TV screens, and in-between our favorite songs on the radio.

“Pomegranates cheat death.”
“Dark chocolate lowers cholesterol.”
“Almonds boost your memory.”

If we are seeing these claims everywhere, they must be true, right? Think about the disinformation the CDC, FDA, CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times dish out.

We count on nutrition science to help us make smart food choices, but when food companies paid for that research, can we trust the findings?

Beware Misleading News & Ads

In her latest book, Unsavory Truth, Marion Nestle exposes the unspoken agenda between nutrition researchers and the funding they receive from the food industry.

As Nestle so bluntly states in her books opening, “Unsavory Truth is about how food, beverage, and supplement companies fund nutrition researchers and practitioners and their professional associations, with the ultimate goal of promoting sales.”

When the experts of these scientific studies are merging with the marketing experts who emulate the results to the public, we get the uninformed and misled consumers we have today. Nestle remarks that this happens in all parts of the marketing industry, going back as far as the 1950’s tobacco campaigns. Even though industry executives were well aware of the connection to lung cancer, campaigns were still released casting doubt that cigarettes were harmful.

Current decisions we are making because of news media, government mandates and paid talking heads can be massively dangerous. Much propaganda and advertising is resulting in numerous public health issues, environmental concerns, and food insecurity.

Nestle states that, “Everyone eats. Food matters. All of us need and deserve sound nutrition advice aimed at promoting public health – not corporate commercial interests.”

It’s important to note that Nestle does make the distinction that “not all industry backed-research is biased” but, we must be cautious. Ultimately, Nestle is encouraging shoppers to vote with their fork and look at the contact information on food labels and have open conversations with the companies that make the food you’re consuming. Write letters, send emails, pick up the phone and ask to speak with someone. If we don’t do it, who will?

Like most health advocates, Marion Nestle concludes her book with recommendations for her readers to pursue. She motivates consumers to “eat your veggies, choose relatively unprocessed foods, keep junk foods to a minimum, and watch excessive calories.”

Future Survival

To survive and thrive this political and lifestyle turmoil, the wise will consider how wellness impacts our future. We really do have more choices and it’s smart to acknowledge opportunities.

One tactic to deal with product shortages is to consider alternatives and expand the breadth of products for our lifestyles. 

The move toward online shopping in all its forms accelerated last year. For instance, most of our supplements and health regime such as Green Pasture Products are conveniently acquired by mail. The book we are reading now, Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon, is very informative. Shoppers have more options. We can get our groceries delivered at home, put in the car curbside, or packed up for in-store pickup. That’s here to stay and shoppers aren’t going to accept a retail experience where these perks are taken away.  

Natural product shoppers now rely on internet ordering at nearly twice the rate of all customers and spend less at the biggest conventional outlets. That matters because it means that natural shoppers are tech-friendly, eager for convenience, and committed to spending their dollars at outlets that deliver a specialized experience they’re not getting at the Wal-Mart type big box stores.

Products with wellness attributes are performing in sales stronger than ever. Even keto branded products were up 31% over pre-2020 sales.

We are not taking it for granted that pre-pandemic times will be the future. Personally, for the most part we ignored lockdown restrictions and other government mandates. We traveled, ate in opened restaurants, turned off news, and improved our lifestyle.

During the pandemic, like so many others we have talked to, we rediscovered the joy of cooking at home–including the convenience and health benefits.

Many signs point to a different kind of workday for many office workers, which means more remote working and at-home meals. The economic situation for many workers has not fully recovered, and at-home dining is an affordable option. 

Our suggestion moving forward is to build out long-term strategies but don’t forget to identify immediate opportunities as well. As we look ahead, keep these ideas in mind: 

  • Educate ourselves about nutrient dense and functional foods 
  • Adopt maintainable diet and lifestyles 
  • Evaluate broader ideas and alternatives as we personalize efforts fight back and survive the turmoil.

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Unearth the Mysteries of Those Who Lie Beneath the Oldest Graveyards in the Lone Star State

Texas, the second largest state, both in land mass and population, has more than 50,000 cemeteries, graveyards, and burial grounds. As the final resting places of those whose earthly journey has ended, they are also repositories of valuable cultural history. The pioneer cemeteries—those from the 19th century—provide a wealth of information on the people who settled Texas during its years as a Republic (1836-1845), and after it became the 28th state in 1845. In What Lies Beneath: Texas Pioneer Cemeteries and Graveyards, author Cynthia Leal Massey exhumes the stories of these pioneers, revealing the intriguing truth behind the earliest graveyards in the Lone Star State, including some of its most ancient. This guide also provides descriptions of headstone features and symbols, and demystifies the burial traditions of early Texas pioneers and settlers.

More titles by Cynthia Leal Massey.

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Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

Rust, Paint, Garden, Grease & Other Great Tips

WiFi Signal Booster

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Depending on how old you are, you may remember using “rabbit ears” to get a better television signal. Sometimes the rabbit ears weren’t enough on their own, and you’d have to add some aluminum foil to the ends to boost the signal. The days of using foil to get a better TV picture may be over, but it’s not as obsolete as you might think. Today, you can use aluminum foil to boost the signal from your wireless router.

Adding aluminum foil to a Wi-Fi reflector can help the signal bounce around your home, reaching those otherwise spotty areas.

Greasy Easy Clean-Up

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Hopefully you’re aware that you shouldn’t pour grease down your kitchen drain — hot or otherwise. So, how are you supposed to get rid of your used cooking grease and oil? Pouring it into the garbage can seems like a terrible — and potentially messy — idea.

Luckily foil is here to save the day. Line the inside of a bowl with aluminum foil, and pour the hot grease into it. Once it cools and solidifies, ball up the soiled foil and toss it into your trash can.

Remove Rust, Really

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Tired of looking at rusty metal? If it’s chrome, there’s a quick fix. Just tear off a piece of foil, soak it in some water, and use it to start scrubbing the rusted chrome. The rust will disappear in no time!

No AA? No Problem

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The batteries have died and the only replacements you have in the house are AAA. What to do?

You can convert those AAA into AA by placing a bit of foil at the positive ends before inserting the batteries into your equipment.

Banana Trick

Bananas are such a delicious, easy-to-eat snack. Unfortunately, they also go bad really quickly. After a few days of lying out on your kitchen counter, your bananas will start to brown.

If you need to keep your bananas fresher longer, turn to aluminum foil.

Wrap a small piece of aluminum foil around the stem of your bananas. By breaking off part of the banana’s contact with the air, you can slow the decaying process that plagues these fruits. A little piece of aluminum foil can lead to longer days of ripe, yellow, ready-to-eat fruit.

Good Crust

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Getting the perfect pie crust can be a little tricky. You can account for flakiness and flavor with the recipe, but when it comes to just how golden brown your crust will get, you have to throw yourself at the mercy of the oven. Or will you?

Try out a little-known baking hack using, you guessed it, aluminum foil. Cover your crust in aluminum foil before popping the pie into the oven. This should help ensure that your crust doesn’t burn!

Messy Ice Cream Cone Prevention

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Use aluminum foil to keep an ice cream cone from spilling everywhere. Simply wrap some alluminum foil around the very bottom of the cone, that way any melting or spilled ice cream drips into the foil instead of the floor… or

Funneling

Wrap foil around paper cone.

Need a makeshift funnel? No worries. Grab your trusty roll of aluminum foil and fashion a funnel out of that. It’s surprisingly easy.

Foot Foil Relief

Wrap a foot in aluminum for one hour to see what happens. There are several benefits to wrapping your feet in foil. It can alleviate aching joints, it soothes pain caused by burns and it is a great solution against fatigue. Another fun trick is keeping your foil in the freezer before you use it on your body to not only help with fatigue but swelling as well.

Home Made Stylus

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Need a stylus in a pinch? Before you fork over $10 to $30 for one, try making your own. It’s quick and easy. Just wrap the tip of your favorite pen in foil, use a bit of tape to secure it, and voilá!

Garden Protection

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If you’re looking for a way to keep insects out of your vegetables, mix some aluminum foil strips in with your mulch. Seriously. Also, you get the bonus benefit of the foil reflecting light back into your plants.

Door Knob Paint Protectors

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When painting doors, be sure to wrap your doorknobs in aluminum foil. When painting a door, or even surrounding walls, paint drips are inevitable. By wrapping your knobs in foil, you can keep them clean and paint free

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Get Your Natural Vitamins A & D from the Sea!

CLICK HERE for GOOD HEALTH!
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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Goettle HVAC and Plumbing services are located in Phoenix, Tucson, San Antonio, Austin, Las Vegas areas as well as regions in Southern California.

What To Do If You Have the Mandate and Lockdown Blues

Special Note:  If you start having thoughts of wanting to die or harm yourself, seek professional help immediately, or let a loved one know. Or call 1-800-273-8255 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, which provides 24/7, free, and confidential support.

When the COVID-19 Pandemic first appeared in early 2020, Jack and I were as startled as everyone by the strict restrictions of just going to the grocery store to buy toilet paper and food. After a few weeks, we both agreed “NO MORE.”

We moved to the country, lowered our living expenses (cut them over half), started an organic garden and became far more self sufficient (energy, water, food backups and redundancies). In a nutshell, we simplified.

While many people we knew were rushing to get experimental vaccines, buying hoards of masks, staying home and complying with lockdowns, we took the opposite approach.

We went on several roadtrips (Washington DC, Las Vegas, Colorado Springs, Phoenix, Graceland in Memphis, Pigeon Forge in the Smoky Mountains, Andy Griffith Museum in North Carolina, Ark Encounter in Kentucky and other crowded places) visiting 20 states.

We were a bit surprised to see both ends of the spectrum:

1. People wearing masks, gloves, headgear and wrapped in extra clothing just to walk outside to their mailbox.

2. Or like us, RVers, bikers, campers, and travelers enjoying America’s freedoms indoors and outside. We only wore masks per local establishment restrictions, but even then, like other patriots, it was minimal. We attended theater plays, saw movies, enjoyed concerts, explored museums and road amusement park rides.

Everyone experiences ups and downs, but the sadness we’ve been seeing from some people is like weather. It tends to come and go, and it can lift quickly if something positive happens. We made sure to focus on positiveness. We turned off the TV and especially mainstream media of any kind (radio, newspapers, magazine’s, etc.)

Those who took similar approaches seem to snap out of it—sort of like a rain cloud moved aside by the sun.

When It’s More Than Normal Sadness

But some people practically bolted themselves indoors and continuously watched the propaganda and news. Their sadness wasn’t a temporary occurance like a rainshower. It is full blown depression, like a season.

Depression moves in and stays for a while, most of the day, every day, for weeks at a time. It can affect your mood, your physical health, and the way you perceive just about everything. Rather than an emotional state, depression is a health condition.

Consider simplifying your life, finding alternative news sources (like CleverJourneys.Com), and improving your well being. Here are some suggestions:

1. Get moving. Any form of regular exercise boosts mood and energy. It’s hard to get moving when you’re feeling down, so start with small steps and build from there. Standing, stretching, or taking a quick walk around your house or neighborhood is better than being boarded up. And guess what? You don’t need to wear a mask! As a registered nurse of 40 years, I’m not about to wear a mask so frivolously. Just move!!!

2. Try meditating. Research has shown that medication can improve depression symptoms, but research shows you can equate the benefits of 30 minutes of meditation to the effects of one antidepressant pill. Of course, if your doctor has prescribed medication, you should continue to take it as instructed—but you can add meditation to your routine. There are plenty of apps that can help you get started, including Headspace, Calm, and The Mindfulness App. Or simply just go walk!

3. Go outside. Spending time in nature can decrease feelings of depression. It also exposes you to sunlight, which can help your body produce vitamin D. Low levels of the nutrient have been linked to depression, but soaking up even 15 minutes of sun per day can lift your spirits in the present and over the long term.

4. Foster close relationships. Nurturing your existing relationships with friends and family is one of the best things you can do for your health. But it’s also never too late to forge new bonds. How? Sign up for a book club, volunteer to lend a hand at your local community center or place of worship, take a group exercise class, or simply invite a neighbor to meet for a cup of coffee. As feelings of connection increase, depression often decreases.

5. Read. Simply pick up a book and read it. I say book, instead of reading on a computer or phone, for the sake of your eyes. Each day, I have a ritual of reading Bible devotionals and a few chapters in a novel. Library cards are a good thing. It is positive and good for the spirit.

6. Practice gratitude. Making daily lists of what you’re grateful for has been found to help lift mood. Even if you’re not able to write everything down, simply thinking about it or expressing gratitude to others can help boost happiness.

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Get Your Natural Vitamins A & D from the Sea!

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Cold Weather Car Hacks: Herd It Through the Grapevine

Foggy Windshield Fixes

During the winter months, fogged-up and frosty windshields can be a constant issue. To quickly eliminate the fog without creating a mess of smudges, use a chalkboard eraser! It works really well, and it’s easy to store in your glove box or center console.

Another tip for dealing with a foggy windshield is to make sure your car’s air recirculation is turned off. The air in your car is already humid, and humid air contributes to windshield fogging. Use the fresh air intake option instead, which will pull in dry air from outside. The dry air will help take care of the fog in no time!

winter car hacks

Fog-Proof Your Windshield

While the tips I mentioned above will help you get rid of fog on your windshield, there are also ways to prevent fog from forming in the first place! Here are a few you can try:

  • Smear shaving cream on the inside of your windshield, then wipe it off. You’ll leave behind a thin layer of shaving cream, which contains some of the same ingredients as commercial defoggers.
  • Fill a stocking or sock with kitty litter and leave it in your car overnight. The litter will help absorb moisture that would otherwise collect on your windshield.
  • Before you turn your car off in the evening, open the windows for a few seconds to let the cold, dry air in. This dry air will help dehumidify your car overnight.
  • Don’t leave water bottles or other drinks in your car overnight. The moisture from them can contribute to a foggy windshield.
winter car hacks

Keep Socks In Your Glovebox

Having a pair of socks all ready in your car can be especially useful during the winter! You can pull them on over your shoes if you ever need to push your car out of ice or snow. (The socks provide a little extra traction that makes it easier to find your footing.)

Another way to use socks is to cover your wiper blade overnight! Just raise your wiper blades and slip the socks over the ends. The socks will help prevent ice from forming on the blades, which will make your de-icing process much easier in the morning.

winter car hacks

Fix For Frozen Wiper Blades

During the winter, make sure to fill your car with washer fluid that is rated for cold weather. It can help melt the ice that’s clinging to your wiper blades in the morning. It can also be a quick way to defrost your whole windshield if the ice is thin enough!

winter car hacks

Impromptu Ice Scraper

Can’t find your ice scraper and need to get going? Grab a plastic spatula from your kitchen, or use a plastic card from your wallet! (It’s best to use a card that you don’t mind losing, in case it accidentally snaps while you’re scraping the ice.)

Windshield Parking Hack

Let Mother Nature defrost your windshield for you! If you can, park your car facing east. This ensures that your windshield will get a bit of extra warmth from the sun as it rises in the morning. Your wiper blades may be able to take care of the remaining frost—no scraping required!

Thaw Frozen Car Doors & Locks

For frozen locks, try heating your key with a match or lighter. Gently push it into the lock to melt the ice. (Just be careful not to burn yourself!)

Another option for thawing frozen locks is to use a drinking straw. Just aim the straw at the lock, and blow air into it. The heat from your breath will start melting the ice, and you’ll have that door open in no time!

And finally, you can use hand sanitizer to fix frozen doors and locks. Just rub a layer of hand sanitizer over the frozen area and let the alcohol melt the ice.

Prevent Frozen Doors

Sick of having to unstick frozen doors? Prevent them from freezing in the first place with a bit of cooking spray. Just spritz a bit of it where the door seals. This acts as a “waterproofer” to prevent water from seeping in and freezing your door shut.

Keep Side Mirrors From Freezing

Prevent side mirrors from freezing overnight just by covering them up! Use a plastic shopping bag, a ziplock bag, or whatever you can find to slide over the mirrors. Tie the end or keep it in place with a rubber band, and your mirrors will remain ice-free overnight!

winter car hacks

Fast Headlight Fix

Having bright, working headlights is especially important during the dark and snowy winter months. If your headlight covers could use a cleaning, just cover them with a layer of toothpaste. Let it sit for a minute or two, then rinse the toothpaste off with warm water.

This toothpaste treatment will help remove the film on your headlights so they shine more brightly. It’s a quick and easy fix that’s much cheaper than buying a special headlight cleaner product!

Get Un-Stuck Fast

Keep a bag or two of heavy cat litter in your trunk on snowy days. It will help add weight to your car, which can help give your tires a bit more traction in the snow and ice. And you can sprinkle the litter under the tires if you get stuck! This will give your tires something to grip onto and improve your chances of getting out of that snowbank.

Another useful tip for getting your car out of a snowbank is to use your floor mats. Just lay them down in the snow in front of your tires. They’ll provide more traction for your tires and help you get your car moving. (Just don’t forget to pick them back up before you drive away!

Make A Winter Emergency Kit

Weather can be unpredictable during the winter, so it’s a good idea to keep emergency supplies in your car just in case. Start with a spare outfit that can keep you warm if you happen to get stranded. Follow these steps:

  1. Unzip a winter coat
  2. Put a thick pair of socks, long underwear, hat, gloves, scarf, and snow pants inside the coat
  3. Zip the coat up and stash the outfit in your trunk

You should also keep additional supplies in your car that could save your life in a winter weather emergency. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Flashlights
  • Warm blanket
  • Charged battery pack for your phone
  • Hand and foot warmers
  • Bottles of water
  • Energy bars

Now that you have these helpful tips, you’ll be able to face many winter driving challenges with confidence!

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Finding Money for Christmas Gifts in 2021 and Beyond

Holiday season 2020 was a tough year for retailers and other small business due to the pandemic. In 2021, Black Friday sales hit some all-time lows. With the higher prices for fuel, energy, food and just about everything imaginable, it seems like the 2021 holiday season will be challenging to most people.

Some of us are rightfully concerned about holiday gift giving while others have already begun their buying early. We have all seen the Christmas season creeping in early on Halloween, but this can actually help some people spread out the gift buying over a longer period of time. We much prefer using a planned budget instead of depending on credit cards and suffering depression in January when the bills pile in.

Throughout the year, or as early as possible, it’s a good idea to save $10 to $25 a paycheck. It can add up nicely when it’s time to buy gifts (or make them). With 26 paychecks in a year that’s around $500 when black Friday hits after Thanksgiving.

However, few of us can escape the realities of a harsh economic and political climate today, not to mention the increased hardships (jobless, out of business, or health, for instance) we’ve endured.

It’s a good idea to rethink our spending strategies. Besides just setting aside money from each paycheck, there are other ways to find money to put aside. Some people set up a separate savings account just for gift giving.

Here are some additional ideas some may deem helpful:

🔹Choose a gift of something useful and customized for the individual. This year spend less, but provide more value. A book (instead of a toy or game), health food or supplements (rather than a fruit cake), or something needed (helpful household items versus nonessential decorative ones).

🔹Cutting Down on Eating Out. Lunches out with coworkers can be dropped for one day of the week. At $6 to $12 a day, that adds up to, in a month $24 to $40+ that can be instead put into a gift savings jar.

🔹Reduce Your TV Service. We haven’t had any such service in over three years and absolutely love it: No fake news, social engineering or propaganda has been wonderful. Our time is spent simply living, traveling and experiencing (rather than having). It’s far more meaningful.

Those television ads will have you believing the whole point of Christmas is to spend tons of money on food, shopping and dining out.

Instead of going cold turkey, you can drop down your TV subscription to basic service for a few months or the summer and sock away the savings. This is also handy if you are coming to the end of a promo and can’t get another one; drop down in service for a few months and then pick up the new promos coming out later. You could save considerable money each month and it’s not that hard.

🔹Limit the Coffee/Donut/Sweets/Soda Budget. I remain amazed at the drive thru queues at coffee shops in the morning. This wouldn’t be a lot of money set aside but if you buy a $5+ drink and reduce it by one cup a week, you have an extra $20-$30 to put into savings for gifts.

By making some simple changes to your budget NOW, you can plan to have a terrific Christmas. There are plenty of other ways to save money. Just look at what you are currently spending on any one item and try to reduce it by a few dollars each week. Those dollars add up quickly.

If you aren’t willing to cut back at all, there are a couple of ways to bring in extra money and set that aside for gifts as well.

🔹Save Change. I’ve always been a fan of rounding up in the checkbook and by the end of the month there’s a good $15-$25 higher in the bank than my checkbook shows. That extra money goes to savings without a thought. And add into that any change I get throughout the year, there’s around $250-350 dollars that I didn’t even have to cut back for.

🔹Do you really NEED it? Selling off items around the house (some people I know find stuff on the curb for trash pickup and regularly make more than a few extra bucks). Keep the fees to a minimum and try selling the items off through Craigslist first. The idea is to collect it all in a closet and then have yourself a grand yard sale over a warm weekend.

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Please Support These American Owned Businesses

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From award-winning Texas author Cynthia Leal Massey.

Herd It Through the Grapevine #5: Bathroom Cleaning Made Easier

Keeping it simple, here is #5 from Dodie Dennis in her new series “Herd it Through the Grapevine” with useful tips, hints and tidbits of information for everyday living. Enjoy!

Cleaning Your Shower Using A Dishwasher Tablet

Let’s face it, cleaning the bathroom is a thankless task that seems almost impossible to get done properly. It takes a ton of elbow grease to get the shower spotless. And even after what seems like hours of scrubbing, it can still look a bit dirty.

There’s an easy solution to this..dishwasher tablets! Take a sponge, cut out a small hole, and insert a dishwasher tablet. Now when you go to clean your shower doors, instead of endless scrubbing, just rub this sponge over the door and wash away. It’s that easy. It even works on shower curtains, the tub, and faucets!

Dish Soap Used In The Toilet

With endless products claiming they can make your toilet look brand new, it can be hard to sift through them all and figure out which one to buy.

Rather than spending money and time wasted, there’s something in your house already that you can use. And it’s not what you might think.

Dish soap is the answer you’ve been looking for. And it couldn’t be any more simple to use. Take 1/4 cup of dish soap + 1/4 cup of baking soda + 1/4 cup of water. Mix them together, then pour them into the toilet. Stir the solution, then let it sit overnight.

The next morning, do a light scrub and your toilet will look brand new!

You can also use dish soap to unclog a toilet without a plunger. Simply put 1 cup of soap into your toilet, let it sit for 30 mins. Then take hot water and pour it into the bowl. The clog will be gone.

______________

A Special Message From Dodie Dennis (Retired RN)

With 40 years experience as a licensed Registered Nurse on a cruise line, a Colorado ski resort, and in Phoenix, AZ, I did everything from Operating Room to Immunology to all levels of Newborn care.

Among my favorite jobs was teaching childbirth and nutrition classes. For the most part, I believe whole foods trump supplements. And eating a nutritious diet loaded with veggies, grass-fed meat, and plenty of good fats is the starting point. You certainly cannot supplement your way out of poor dietary choices. However, even with the best diet, there may be a few gaps that we might want to fill to “supplement” a solid diet.

For example, Omega-3 fatty acids are vitally important to our health. Our Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio should be 1:1 or 1:2. Sadly, the average person’s is more like 1:20. Not only are we not getting enough Omega-3 from sources like grass-fed meats and fish/seafood, we’re also over consuming Omega 6 (e.g. vegetable oils, excessive nut consumption) – a double whammy.

Personally, Jack and I don’t eat enough fish to get adequate Omega-3 due to concerns about toxins, mercury, etc. That’s why we welcome a new sponsor to “supplement” with Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO).

Welcome Green Pasture Products to CleverJourneys

I use the word “supplement” loosely here, since FCLO is really a whole food. Not only that, but it’s also a traditional food with a long history of use. Quite the opposite of highly processed fish oils.

Green Pasture’s website

Fermented Cod Liver Oil is simply cod livers fermented naturally to extract the oils. The cold-processing method maintains all the fat soluble vitamins. Most fish oils on the market are heat processed. What’s worse is that they’re then bleached and deodorized, and since most of the vitamins have been removed or destroyed, synthetic vitamins are added back in.

FCLO contains more than Omega 3s. It’s also a great source of Vitamin A and Vitamin D, and contains small amounts of Vitamin K2, Vitamin E, and various other quinones.

If you want to try out the amazing benefits of Fermented Cod Liver Oil, or maybe your current supply is running low, we highly recommend Green Pasture.

Green Pasture’s website

They are the only company to supply naturally fermented cod liver oil that we are aware of (and the one recommended most highly by the Weston Price Foundation).

Check out Green Pasture’s website now and tell them CleverJourneys sent you.

In addition to Fermented Cod Liver oil, Green Pasture also sells other products like high vitamin butter oil, coconut oil, and coconut ghee.

Green Pasture’s website

Jack likes Green Pasture because they are an American business that share the same patriotic values we do.

Check them out today! God Bless.

From Atlas Rockets to Protecting the Statue of Liberty: 40 Ways to Use WD-40

Herd It Through the Grapevine #6

Long before WD-40 was a household name and a can resided in practically every home across America, it was an obscure product invented for a singular purpose.

Back in 1953, Norman Larsen, founder of the Rocket Chemical Company, created WD-40 for the Convair aeronautical company to protect the SM-65 Atlas missile–the American military’s first operational intercontinental ballistic missile.

In order to reduce its weight, the Atlas had a very thin steel skin and even thinner steel balloon-style fuel tanks. It was critical to protect the skin and the paper-thin steel fuel tanks from corrosion and WD-40 accomplished that task by both displacing water molecules on the metal and penetrating into the pores of the metal surface.

Although the SM-65 Atlas missile was briefly put into service, as a nuclear missile platform it was, thankfully, never deployed as such. After retirement as a military missile system in the mid 1960s, the de-weaponized Atlas system had a long and fruitful career as NASA’s launch platform of choice–sending countless satellites, the Mercury missions, and the Gemini missions into space.

Although we know that WD-40 is comprised of compounds like hydrocarbons and petroleum, the formula of WD-40 is a trade secret and the product was never patented in order to avoid disclosing the formula.

WD-40 Uses

‘Water Displacement’ Compound.


1.      Protects silver from tarnishing.


2.      Removes road tar and grime from cars.


3.      Cleans and lubricates guitar strings. 


4.      Gives floor that ‘just-waxed’ sheen without making them slippery.


5.      Keeps the flies off of Cows, Horses, and other Farm Critters.


6.      Restores and cleans chalkboards.


7.      Removes lipstick stains.


8.      Loosens stubborn zippers.


9.      Untangles jewelry chains.


10.    Removes stains from stainless steel sinks.


11.    Removes dirt and grime from the barbecue grill.


12.    Keeps ceramic/terracotta garden pots from oxidizing.


13.    Removes tomato stains from clothing.


14.    Keeps glass shower doors free of water spots.


15.    Camouflages scratches in ceramic and marble floors.


16.    Keeps scissors working smoothly.


17.    Lubricates noisy door hinges on both home and vehicles doors.


18.    It removes that nasty tar and scuff marks from the kitchen
flooring. It doesn’t seem to harm the finish and you won’t have to
scrub nearly as hard to get them off.  Just remember to open some
windows if you have a lot of marks.


19.    Removes those nasty bug guts that will eat away the finish
on your car if not removed quickly!


20.    Gives a children’s playground gym slide a shine for a super fast slide.


21.    Lubricates gearshift and mower deck lever for ease of handling on riding mowers.


22.    Rids kids rocking chair and swings of squeaky noises.


23.    Lubricates tracks in sticking home windows and makes them easier to open.


24.    Spraying an umbrella stem makes it easier to open and close.


25.    Restores and cleans padded leather dashboards in vehicles, as well as vinyl bumpers.


26.    Restores and cleans roof racks on vehicles.


27.    Lubricates and stops squeaks in electric fans.


28.    Lubricates wheel sprockets on tricycles, wagons and bicycles for easy handling. 


29.    Lubricates fan belts on washers and dryers and keeps them running smoothly.


30.    Keeps rust from forming on saws and saw blades, and other tools.


31.    Removes grease splatters from stove-tops.


32.    Keeps bathroom mirror from fogging.


33.    Lubricates prosthetic limbs.


34.    Keeps pigeons off the balcony (they hate the smell).


35.    Removes all traces of duct tape.


36.    Folks even spray it on their arms, hands, and knees to relieve
arthritis pain. (See picture above).


37.    Florida’s favorite use is: ‘cleans and removes love bugs from grills and  bumpers.’


38.    The favorite use in New York: it protects the Statue of Liberty from the elements.


39.    WD-40 attracts fish. Spray a little on live bait or lures and you
will be catching the big one in no time. Also, it’s a lot cheaper than
the chemical attractants that are made for just that purpose.   Keep
in mind though, using some chemical laced baits or lures for fishing are not allowed in some states.


40.    Use it for fire ant bites. It takes the sting away immediately and stops the itch. 


41.    It is great for removing crayon from walls. Spray it on the marks
and wipe with a clean rag.


42.    Also, if you’ve discovered that your teenage daughter has washed
and dried a tube of lipstick with a load of laundry, saturate the
lipstick spots with WD-40 and rewash. Presto! The lipstick is gone!


43.    If you spray it inside a wet distributor cap, it will displace the
moisture, allowing the engine to start.


44. Ants don’t like it.

_______________________

A Special Message From Dodie Dennis (Retired RN)

With 40 years experience as a licensed Registered Nurse on a cruise line, a Colorado ski resort, and in Phoenix, AZ, I did everything from Operating Room to Immunology to all levels of Newborn Care.

Among my favorite jobs was teaching childbirth and nutrition classes. For the most part, I believe whole foods trump supplements. And eating a nutritious diet loaded with veggies, grass-fed meat, and plenty of good fats is the starting point. You certainly cannot supplement your way out of poor dietary choices. However, even with the best diet, there may be a few gaps that we might want to fill to “supplement” a solid diet.

For example, Omega-3 fatty acids are vitally important to our health. Our Omega-3 to Omega-6 ratio should be 1:1 or 1:2. Sadly, the average person’s is more like 1:20. Not only are we not getting enough Omega-3 from sources like grass-fed meats and fish/seafood, we’re also over consuming Omega 6 (e.g. vegetable oils, excessive nut consumption) – a double whammy.

Personally, Jack and I don’t eat enough fish to get adequate Omega-3s due to concerns about toxins, mercury, etc. That’s why we welcome a new sponsor to “supplement” with Green Pasture Fermented Cod Liver Oil (FCLO).

Welcome Green Pasture Products to CleverJourneys

I use the word “supplement” loosely here, since FCLO is really a whole food. Not only that, but it’s also a traditional food with a long history of use. Quite the opposite of highly processed fish oils.

Green Pasture’s website

Fermented Cod Liver Oil is simply cod livers fermented naturally to extract the oils. The cold-processing method maintains all the fat soluble vitamins. Most fish oils on the market are heat processed. What’s worse is that they’re then bleached and deodorized, and since most of the vitamins have been removed or destroyed, synthetic vitamins are added back in.

FCLO contains more than Omega 3’s. It’s also a great source of Vitamin A and Vitamin D, and contains small amounts of Vitamin K2, Vitamin E, and various other quinones.

If you want to try out the amazing benefits of Fermented Cod Liver Oil, or maybe your current supply is running low, we highly recommend Green Pasture.

Green Pasture’s website

They are the only company to supply naturally fermented cod liver oil that we are aware of (and the one recommended most highly by the Weston Price Foundation).

Check out Green Pasture’s website now and tell them CleverJourneys sent you.

In addition to Fermented Cod Liver oil, Green Pasture also sells other products like high vitamin butter oil, coconut oil, and coconut ghee.

Green Pasture’s website

Jack likes Green Pasture because they are an American business that share the same patriotic values we do.

Check them out today! God Bless.

How We Took an Inexpensive Caribbean Trip For Mother’s Day

For Mother’s Day weekend, Dodie and I went to the Caribbean, the Florida Keys, the Bahamas, Cancun and Hawaii.

A much needed trip, it was relaxing and offered us time to unwind. The pace there was irresistibly slow, but the service was top notch.

The best part of our islands adventure was that we only had to drive about 20 miles from home.

That’s right! Here in the beautiful Texas Hill Country between Comfort and Kerrville in Center Point, is a restaurant—No, scratch that out, it’s a destination— that evokes the good vibes and karma of a Caribbean island village. It’s Toucan Jim’s on State Highway 27, about 9 miles north of Comfort.

Jim Lackey and his business partner, Mike Blackledge were there to greet and make us feel extra special when we walked in.

Lackey & Blackledge

In 2007, Lackey decided to bring the beach atmosphere he loved to his hometown. His restaurant and bar, Toucan Jim’s, evokes a Caribbean vacation with island-inspired architecture and décor. A dry-docked boat and nautical flags along the highway led us right up to the near one acre oasis.

By the look on our faces, Mike immediately welcomed us and told us to settle down “anywhere ya’ want, whatever looks good” amid a lushly landscaped tropically shaded outdoor area.

We had our choice to sit beneath 27 different palapas, each emblazoned with the name of an exotic locale like Oahu, Playa del Carmen, and St. Kitts.

We chose Kauai.

_______________________________

Toucan Jim’s

5814 SH 27, Center Point.
830-634-2640; toucanjims.com
_______________________________

His own adventures to the beaches of Belize, Mexico, and the Florida Keys inspired Jim to open his restaurant in 2010.

“When I saw that blue water the very first time, it reeled me in,” he grinned. He and Mike can obviously tell when someone comes in for the very first time. With Dodie and me, our faces transformed from anticipation to “WOW” with an immediate sense of island time. A 40-minute professional massage couldn’t have done what instantaneously walking in there did.

A prompt sense of island time took hold, providing a place to relax and unwind.

“If it makes you feel that for five minutes, I’ve done my job,” Jim said on a recent Texas Bucketlist television travel show episode.

The grounds offer an assorted range of fun and amenities including covered dance floor and stage, an outdoor fire pit, a fake pillory for photo ops, a Bow-Wow watering station for dogs, and a Bimini ringtoss game.

From March through October, bands perform a variety of musical genres, including reggae, contemporary country, and oldies on indoor and outdoor stages every Saturday night.

When live music is not playing, Radio Margaritaville Siriusxm is, featuring Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff, and Jimmy Buffett. (Note: Jim Lackey has been to 25 Buffett concerts. Look close and you may find a couple of pictures of him with Buffett hanging in the entry room).

Jim spent almost three years building his dream business. The main structure was his childhood home.

“After inheriting the property, he knocked down walls and transformed the building from the ground up: The former living room is now the kitchen, and what was once a bedroom currently serves as the women’s restroom,” read one account.

Partner Mike is a talented carpenter and cabinetmaker who helped construct the palapas, tiki bar, and brilliantly painted furnishings. Jim designed the splendid landscaping to transform St. Augustine grass into a tropical oasis complete with crushed granite paths that wind through oleanders, palm trees, and other flora.

One smiling patron, a regular, tells us that “every time I walk in I feel welcomed and relaxed like I’m on vacation. Ever’ body is just so damn friendly here all the time. They just can’t help it.”

They do have weekly specials, but we tried cheeseburgers (we were in paradise, after all), and sampled sweet potato fries and Toucan Toothpicks (fried jalapenos and onions).

Besides burgers, we also noticed tacos, brisket sandwiches, boneless wings, and pulled-pork sliders. Talking with the friendly staff and patrons, we learned Toucan Jim’s is known for its specialty drinks: piña coladas, daiquiris, and other concoctions that provide a taste of the tropics.

Because Center Point is a dry municipality, guests can only indulge in tasty alcohol beverages on the premises if they have a membership. Mike signed us up quick for free and now we are proud owners of membership cards. They are valid for 99 years so we are good to go until 2120.

We sat at Kauai.

Jim says their signature drink is rum punch.”

“We tried different drinks in the Florida Keys, Mexico, and Costa Rica, but we liked the one in Belize the best,” his straight face turned to laughter. 

“We stretched our test tasting out five months longer than we needed to,” he grinned again.

When you go out to the deck, you’ll find “twenty-seven palapas, two stages, two bars, seating for three hundred and more palm trees and plants than we can count.”

Mike told us most people don’t just come in to eat and leave like in typical restaurants.

“They stay to relax, enjoy the scenery, listen to the island music and be at peace,” he explained. “It’s an experience.”

He was right. We stayed almost two hours. It was rejuvenating like a mini vacation should be–only it was close and far less expensive.

We told Jim and Mike they’d start seeing us around more often since we are bonafide members now.

Clever Journeys Ratings (1-10 scale) 9.28

Food & Drinks 8.7
Atmosphere: 9.4
Service: 9.6
Friendliness: 9.4
Cleanliness: 9.3

Simple Things Baby Boomers Know That Millennials Don’t #1

I watched a video of two fourteen year old boys recently trying to use a 1970s vintage rotary dial phone without any instructions. It was hilarious. Hadn’t they ever seen an old movie video of anyone using a dial phone? Or watch an old episode of the Dynamic Duo on the Batphone?

“What is this coiled cord for?”

“These holes? With numbers?”

It took them 21 minutes, together, to do it. The dial tone was hard to figure out, but putting their fingers in a dial (especially “9”) and seeing their reaction as the dialer spun around was amusing.

This made us wonder what other things younger generations may not know about.

When my daughter, Jennifer, was a teenager, a large closet was open upstairs in my home office.

“What are those, Dad?”

“What?”

She pointed to hundreds of LP record albums in my collection.

“You don’t know what record albums are?”

I reached for one and unsleeved it to show her how to handle them. Fortunately I still had a workable record player at the time. She was amazed how the needle made the music.

Since then, we’ve gone through 8-track and cassette tapes, DVDs and a few other advancements along the way. Dodie and I Bluetoothed it along the way in our recent road trips and we are still not certain how they work.

As long as they can play Elvis, Beatles, Eagles, Roy Orbison, The Cars, Rod Stewart, Blondie, Dire Straits, Merle Haggard, George Jones, George Strait, Stevie Ray Vaughan and some good Mississippi Delta Blues, the technology doesn’t matter to us.

We started thinking about simple things younger generations may not know about. Some of these might be nice tips, hints for better living, or just interesting history. Here’s a few. We will add more now and then.

Loop In Back Of Shirt

First of all, this doesn’t apply to garden-variety t-shirts. Surely, you own at least one nice, collared shirt that has this mysterious loop in the top middle of your back. We actually have the Navy to thank for the loops on our shirts.

Believe it or not, there isn’t a lot of closet space while you’re out at sea, so sailors would have loops on their shirts so they could just hang them on hooks. College kids in the 1960s and 70s also utilized the loops, as we could hang up our shirts and keep them neat and wrinkle-free while at the gym.

Today, manufacturers put them on shirts as a sign of class and quality. Also, you may have noticed that young ladies sometimes pull the loops of boys they like, so there is still a practical reason to have these on our shirts.

Randomly Placed Buttons On Jeans

Avid jeans wearers are no doubt aware of all the extra buttons scattered about their pants, usually around their pockets.

Yes, it seems a little odd, but you’ve probably just accepted that’s how jeans are made. But those buttons actually have an important purpose.

First, they’re technically called rivets, even if they resemble buttons. More importantly, they are strategically placed on the jeans to prevent them from getting worn out at the seams and ripping. Imagine that happening at an inopportune time and you’ll be glad your jeans are properly riveted.

It’s actually interesting to note that jean tycoon Levi Strauss owns the patent on these rivets. The idea came about in 1829 after miners complained about how quickly their jeans were wearing out. Young Mr. Strauss came up with a solution to the problem, and now it seems like jeans can practically last forever.

Ridges On Coins

We’re not sure if everyone has noticed this, but both quarters and dimes have rough edges while pennies and nickels don’t.

Go ahead, check all of your coins to confirm that I’m not lying to you. See, it’s true. Well, the reason for this goes back to the days when coins were stamped in different weights to reflect the true value of the coin.

To stop people from shaving the edges of the coins and melting them into new coins, minters put ridges on coins made of precious metals so that it would be easy to tell if the edges had been shaved off. It’s not really an issue today, but we still have edges on our coins.

Volume 2 Coming Soon: Same Bat Channel, Same Bat Time.

JackNotes: The Effective Executive by Peter Drucker Summary

When reading up on management, you can’t help but come across the name of Peter F. Drucker.  

He wrote 30+ books on the topic and his teachings are integrated deep within business practices many are familiar with today. 

Not only did he coin the term, “knowledge worker,” but many of the quotes being thrown around the web today came from him or his books as well:

The best way to predict the future is to create it.

Time is the scarcest resource and unless it is managed nothing else can be managed.

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

It isn’t enough for an executive nowadays to simply get things done. It’s more important to know how to get the right things done and to prioritize effectiveness, not just efficiency. As with productivity, find out where your time goes, focus on contribution, and put first things first. 

________________________________

The Summary

Effective executives follow the same 8 practices:

  1. Ask “What needs to be done?”
  2. Ask “What is right for the enterprise?”
  3. Develop action plans
  4. Take responsibility for decisions
  5. Take responsibility for communicating
  6. Focus on opportunities rather than problems
  7. Run productive meetings
  8. Think and say “we” rather than “I”

The 5 habits of an effective executive:

  1. Know Thy Time
  2. Focus on Contribution
  3. Make Strengths Productive
  4. First Things First
  5. Effective Decisions

The 5 habits of an effective executive:

  1. Know Thy Time. Effective executives know where their time goes and work systematically at managing it
  2. What Can I Contribute? Effective executives focus on outward contribution
  3. Making Strengths Productive.Effective executives build on strengths—their own, their superiors, colleagues, and subordinates; and on the strengths in the situation, that is, on what they can do
  4. First Things First. Effective executives concentrate on the few major areas where superior performance will produce outstanding results
  5. Effective Decisions. They know that this is a matter of system, the right steps in the right sequence

Effective executives know that time is the limiting factor.

To be effective, every knowledge worker needs to be able to dispose of time in fairly large chunks. To have small dribs and drabs of time at his disposal will not be sufficient even if the total is an impressive number of hours.

The 3-step process to manage time:

  1. Record. Find out where your time actually goes
  2. Manage. Cut back unproductive demands on your time
  3. Consolidate. “Discretionary” time into the largest possible continuing units

Every organization needs performance in 3 major areas:

  • Direct results
  • The building of values and their reaffirmation
  • Building and developing people for tomorrow

The man who asks of himself, “What is the most important contribution I can make to the performance of this organization?” asks in effect, “What self-development do I need? What knowledge and skill do I have to acquire to make the contribution I should be making? What strengths do I have to put to work? What standards do I have to set myself?”

How to have an Effective Meeting:

  • Know what to expect to get out of a meeting and what the purpose of the occasion is or should be
  • State at the outset of a meeting the specific purpose and contribution it is to achieve
  • At the end of the meeting, always go back to the opening statement and relate the final conclusions to the original intent

Staffing from Strength

Fill positions and promote on the basis of what a person can do. Do not make staffing decisions to minimize weaknesses but to maximize strength.

Effective executives know that their subordinates are paid to perform and not to please their superiors.

The 4 rules to staff for strength:

  1. Any job that has defeated two or three men in succession, even though each had performed well in his previous assignments, must be redesigned
  2. Make each job demanding and big
  3. Start with what a man can do rather than with what a job requires
  4. To get strength, one has to put up with weaknesses

Staffing the opportunities instead of the problems not only creates the most effective organization, it also creates enthusiasm and dedication.

Conversely, it is the duty of the executive to remove ruthlessly anyone—and especially any manager—who consistently fails to perform with high distinction. To let such a man stay on corrupts the others.

Effective executives periodically review their work programs—and those of their associates—and ask: “If we did not already do this, would we go into it now?” And unless the answer is an unconditional Yes, they drop the activity or curtail it sharply.

The executive who wants to be effective and who wants his organization to be effective polices all programs, all activities, all tasks. He always asks: “Is this still worth doing?”

And if it isn’t, he gets rid of it so as to be able to concentrate on the few tasks that, if done with excellence, will really make a difference in the results of his own job and in the performance of his organization. 

Systematic sloughing off of the old is the one and only way to force the new.

Priorities and Posteriorities

There are always more productive tasks for tomorrow than there is time to do them and more opportunities than there are capable people to take care of them—not to mention the always abundant problems and crises.

A decision has to be made as to which tasks deserve priority and which are of less importance. The only question is which will make the decision—the executive or the pressures.

If the pressures rather than the executive are allowed to make the decision, the important tasks will predictably be sacrificed.

The job is, however, not to set priorities. That is easy. Everybody can do it. The reason why so few executives concentrate is the difficulty of setting “posteriorities”—that is, deciding what tasks not to tackle—and of sticking to the decision.

Courage rather than analysis dictates the truly important rules for identifying priorities:

  • Pick the future as against the past
  • Focus on opportunity rather than on the problem
  • Choose your own direction—rather than climb on the bandwagon
  • Aim high, aim for something that will make a difference, rather than for something that is “safe” and easy to do

The 5 Elements of the Decision Process:

  1. Ask if it’s a generic situation or an exception
  2. Clear “boundary conditions” as to what the decision has to accomplish
  3. Start with what is right rather than what is acceptable
  4. Convert the decision into action
  5. Build feedback into the decision

Effective Decisions

A decision is a choice between alternatives. It is rarely a choice between right and wrong.

Executives who make effective decisions know that one does not start with facts. One starts with opinions.

People inevitably start out with an opinion; to ask them to search for the facts first is even undesirable. They will simply look for the facts that fit the conclusion they have already reached. And no one has ever failed to find the facts he is looking for.

The effective executive encourages opinions. He then asks: “What do we have to know to test the validity of this hypothesis?” The people who voice an opinion also need to take responsibility for fact-finding.

“What is the criterion of relevance?”This turns on the measurement appropriate to the matter under discussion and to the decision to be reached.

The best way to find the appropriate measurement is again to go out and look for the “feedback” —only this is “feedback” before the decision.

The first rule in decision-making is that one does not make a decision unless there is disagreement.

The executive who wants to make the right decision forces himself to see opposition as his means to think through the alternatives.

The final question the effective decision-maker asks: “Is a decision really necessary?” There’s always the alternative of doing nothing.

If the answer to “What will happen if we do nothing?” is “It will take care of itself,” one does not interfere.

JackNotes