Get Back on the Horse!

148-4846_IMGWhen it comes to habits, whether it’s time management, your diet, organization and cleanliness, I find that I often fall off the horse.  I try to stay on top of my mail as it comes, but sometimes I really don’t even want to look at any of my mail.  I remember when I would wait for 2 weeks to get a letter from my cousin on the other side of the world and how awesome it would be for it to finally come.  Now, between junk mail, bills, ads, and maybe some actually nice mail in there, it’s just information overload.

I try to highlight the top 3 or so things that I really have to get done today, but sometimes, for better or worse, I just wing it.  Today was one of those days and I felt really discombobulated!  Not every day is like that though – sometimes the day ends up being a whack-a-mole type of day and I did actually whack a bunch of moles.

I try to bring healthy snacks to work and a healthy lunch, but then I go through phases that I don’t want to cook on a Sunday night and I don’t want to see another trail mix.  Though I attribute it to lack of self-discipline in myself,  I always try to pick myself up and get back on track.  Maybe try a new healthy habit to mix it up and to keep it fresh.  I think that’s key.

I may not feel like cooking, but if I stick to keeping limited snacks around the house, I am in less danger of making some detrimental decisions.  I may not always stay on a GTD track every single day, but I believe we need those days sometimes to free-style it.  It makes us appreciate the days we actually stay organize and GTD.

I may splurge on a meal and ate some fries or had the ice cream or cookie, but if my next meal decision is a good one and my good decisions out-weigh the bad ones, I’m hopefully gaining traction somewhere.  Day by day if we’re making traction in different aspects of our lives, I think that will get us far.

So no matter how off track you feel, try to stay on track in other areas and get back on the horse.  I say this as a pile of mail is stacked on the corner of my table, haunting my peripheral vision, and I eat cereal for my dinner/late night snack too.  But I am here writing this and that’s one thing I got done tonight.  Perhaps too falling off the horse may be a blessing in disguise?

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It’s Not Statistically Valid

You Had Me At..

What does it mean to be statistically valid?

Let’s say you are in the first grade and your teacher wants to know what ice cream would be best to get you and your classmates.  Let’s say she asks a girl who says Ube  is what she should get for you and your classmates.  

Of course, most kids may not have heard of that flavor. Some may know of it by the nickname: the purple ice cream.  

The teacher now brings the class purple ice cream.  That girl would have reported back an awesome day at school.

If everyone let the teacher know what their favorite flavor was, what would the teacher have bought?

Who’s to say.

Anyway, let’s hit rewind.

If the teacher had everyone vote for their favorite, let’s say that 5 say vanilla, 2 cookies and cream, 7 chocolate,  6 for coffee, 5 strawberry, and one each for ube, Pistachio, and some blue ice cream.

If we were to put it on a graph…

On a bell curve, the chocolate and coffee would have the most on the chart.  Since the teacher only asked one student, her preference could have been where the majority would have been or, in this instance, not.

There is a population sample size where, if you get that number (minimum requirement), you can be confident that your feedback is, for example, 95% certain it represents the popular vote.  I won’t get into the specifics here on the math behind it, maybe another day.

Knowing this, makes me question every news voting results . Who is voting here, how large is their sample size, what’s their confidence interval, and why can’t I get a survey to take too?  I don’t think survey results should ever be published without any of that data shared.  ( It’s as credible as those Nielson ratings – who even has one of those boxes anyway? )

I once sat in a supplier review meeting, where they toted their high customer satisfaction ratings until I asked how many people they needed for their results to have a 95% confidence interval.   They had to take that answer offline.

Anyway, I think we need to go back to the popular vote and back to basic math and minimum requirements for voter response rate. Even if we don’t have a minimum response rate, it would be more of a diver for voters to vote.   (Once you start introducing a middle layer (delegates), how do we even validate that?!?)

If we had a popular vote, you’d have a say in the ice cream you get.  It’s the difference between coffee ice cream and purple ice cream.

Do it for the coffee.

Breakfast, the most important meal of the day vs Fasting is great for your Health

SE1Q3523-Cereal

This has been my breakfast, almost consistently for several years for close to over a decade.  After initially going on weight watchers, I scoured the aisle of a Wegmans supermarket, looking at every cereal to identify which would give me the most bang for my buck. On WW, this for me was the one I would spend the least number of my daily allotment of “point” for the most calories. The rationale for me was that it would ideally keep me fuller, longer.  A year later I was on an exercise machine looking at a Women’s Health magazine, I believe, and saw this same cereal was listed as the healthiest one out there. Yay – I was being healthy!  LOL

In recent months, I was introduced to Intermittent Fasting (IF) and after a few family health concerns, I wondered if IF was a contributing factor.  After all, the person who was vloging about it wasn’t a medical professional, though he was in good shape so it appeared to work for him. However, I did hear IF mentioned in The Truth About Cancer in a positive way.

Turns out though, IF for a female has different guidelines than what a male is able to follow.  A woman shouldn’t be doing this daily as it could lead to early menopause – maybe 2 or 3 non-consecutive days at best.

As for me, I wasn’t really following it that strictly, listening to my body’s cues for it’s signals that it may need something.  I probably was only able to do it 3x a week at best.  I also ensured I was staying active and getting in some strength training when I could.

At the end of the day, your breakfast is when you break your fast so as long as your getting your vitamins, minerals, and amino acids from your carbs, protein, and fiber sources, you should be okay.  I’m no nutrition expert, but as long as your diet is healthy and your eating right I think we’re good to go.

As for me, I will occasionally eat my Nature’s Path Blueberry Power Crunch, with a spoonful of dried cranberries on top to regulate my blood suger and ideally with skim milk. However, these days I find myself eating my LO’s leftovers – good thing he like this ceral too!!

Getting Things Done (GTD) and Other Key Take-Aways

IMG-20120126-00005.jpgAt one of my most stressful jobs I found myself scouring for ways to do things better, faster, cheaper…I read several books and listened to several podcasts desperate to make my life less miserable and maybe recover some time back to enjoy life.  Some of the books I’ve read / listened to included:

  • Getting Things Done (Audio)
  • The 4 Hour Work Week (Audiobook)
  • Get People to do Whatever you Want and Never Feel Powerless Again (Audio)
  • Getting to Yes – (I listed to the audio book several years later after reading a part of the book)

For some of these longer books, the commute time I had leant itself to completing a chapter one-way.  After years of taking training classes, I always make sure there is something I can take away from them.

Here are some of the take-aways I’ve gotten from these books, respectively:

  • List Yourself!  Don’t leave it all in your head – that’s SO stressful!  I have  GTD app on my phone and it reminds me to take a shower at 5 am, to refill my vitamins on Sunday, to wash my bed sheets every X days, to set up lunch with specific friends every quarter, for example.  It’s so much easier knowing that I don’t have to keep that all in my head.  I don’t just rely on the app though – I have a month/week planner I use at work that helps me keep track of items that are due on certain days of the month – but that method is more beneficial when I’m in a desk setting.  When I went on leave, the paper method went out the window for that time period as being able to remind myself what I could / should do in the 15 minutes the baby actually took a nap was critical when I was delirious, and a way to capture it when I only had one free hand.
  • When setting up meetings with people, if you throw it on the calendar, tell the person you’re trying to set up time with to propose 3 times that would work for them, as an alternate, if the proposed time you put up didn’t work.  It was all about anticipating the response and reducing the amount of emails that went back and forth.  I’ve also considered the author’s YMI solution but I never went there.
  • If you want to get someone to commit to something, put their credibility on the line.  I actually did a social experiment with some executives on this.  I was setting up a social event after work and, while collecting donations for a charity at lunch time, for every VP executive I saw (who initially RSVP’d for this after-work event), I said to them, “So, I’ll count on seeing you [afterwork] at the  ____ .”  If they say yes, you’re putting their credibility on the line with this wording / phrasing.  In my experience, for folks (whether in college or in corporate American) who RSVP’d to events, it was a pretty accurate estimate that 30% of the folks who RSVP’d would show up.  In this case 100% of the VPs who said yes SHOWED UP!   Holy cow – they’re onto something here.
  • Instead of YOU, say WE.  It instills a sense of teamwork and keeps people off the defense.  This was great when I had to foster a sense of teamwork in a team that was being cut and prides justifiably hurt. When you’re the last girl (or guy) left standing – and folks may know it, this shows a lot of tact and I got commended by folks much more senior than me that I was very diplomatic. I can imagine others in that position would have been easy to throw folks under the bus, but at the end of the day it wouldn’t do myself, the team member, or the customer any good.  We all had the same goal at our job, we knew what was the right thing to do, and it was all about WE because we succeed as a team.  It was a very humbling time.  One of my teammates said he’d work for me when I became CIO.  My boss at the time also mentioned me being a CIO one day.  I’m not a CIO but I took that of a compliment of course!

I’m sure if you read these books, you’d get more or other things out of it that I’m not mentioning, but for me, these items come to mind almost on a daily basis.  I’m not perfect and I often go running back to the book / audio book to remind myself of tips to get through other challenges, because you’ll always take away something new and applicable if you’re paying attention.

If any readers out there have other best practices or tips they found helpful, can I count on you sharing them?  😛 Please do!  I’m sure there’s other books I’m not listing here but these are the heavy hitters for me – I will add mores tips if they come to mind!

No Carbs, No Fats, and Only Protein!? Oh My!

I'm making me hungry...

We all think we know best but when we deviated from time-tested effective traditions, we may be missing out.  I try my best to not reinvent the wheel but sometimes even the most seemingly good thing may have unintended effects on our health.

I knew I wasn’t taking care my health as best as I could when I was in college – those buffet style eating halls will be the bain of your freshman 15.  As my taste for food got more experienced, I find that photos/ ads for fried foods don’t do it for me anymore.  When I was on maternity leave, the hours I spent sitting down were testing of my stamina and patience. I ended up purchasing several courses from The Great Courses so that my brain would stay stimulated in the middle of the night and I would continue to hold onto the LO.  One of those courses was on Nutrition.  One of the things I remember listening and watching these lessons was that I saw so many drawbacks of fad diets I recall a friend in high school was into (I.e. Atkins, Stacker pills that don’t let you absorb/digest the fats in your foods, etc.) but the more you realize for example, what subset of carbs (i.e. brown rice) to keep in, you find yourself more satisfied during the day while taking proper care of yourself.

After all, you need complex carbs in your diet to ensure proper function of your nervous system.  You need cholesterol for proper, and long-lasting, maintenance of your brain.  You need a good balance of fats to help the food pass through your digestive system.  And no doubt there’s lots more that I’m not referencing here.

As I scour on my free time for natural ways to address ailments, I have come to believe that it’s a rainbow diet – ideally organic so you get as much nutritional benefit as possible, everything in moderation (eat or split half your food in a restaurant!), keep active (walking is a key element of those who have the longest lifespans according to Blue Zones), and just keep getting back on the horse even if you had a bad eating day, weekend, or winter!

In looking to see if Intermittent Fasting was more adverse to myself as a female, this author has said it best:

Learn the essentials of good nutrition. It’s by far the best thing you can do for your health and fitness.

Cook and eat whole foods. Exercise regularly. Stay consistent.

So here’s to our health!

Why is my Baby Crying?

The WizardAs I sit in peace while my LO sleeps, I still have the paranoia to check that he’s alright because he’s slept for an extended period of time.  I recall, less vaguely than not, the long days off where I spent our hours trying to pacify him.  I referenced books and several online resources to obtain ideas on how to help him.  I kept them on a list, on my phone, available to my fingertips as I would need it to be.

Here’s my list:

Top 10 Ideas Why My Baby is Crying? / Top 10 Things to Do to Help Pacify a Crying Baby

  1. Hungry–> Give BM or Bottled Formula
  2. Diaper –> Check / Change his Diaper
  3. Fatigue / Tired  –>
    1. Rock baby to sleep [i.e. in your arms]
    2. Put in crib with pacifier
    3. Darken the room
    4. Swaddle
    5. Cuddle
    6. Walk around or bounce on yoga ball
    7. Warm bath
    8. Hairdryer/ shhh/rhythmic sounds
    9. Go Outside (Stroller, Carrier, or car ride)
  4. Tummy Discomfort – Massage / Pressure on tummy
  5. Give him something to suck (pinky, pacifier when calm)
  6. Too warm –> Remove any extra clothing layers on him
  7. Too cold –> Provide warmth
  8. Same position/view for too long–> change it
  9. Carry for 3+ hours
  10. Be entertaining or, if tired, less stimulation

In retrospect, it seems like some of these items would be common sense, but when you’re sleep deprived and your baby is wailing, this list helped me to ensure I exhausted all my options before I resorted to the iPod idea, which I don’t think I ever had to do.

Hope it helps some tired mama and papas out there!  Is there anything else you’ve tried that I’ve missed?  Please share!


References*:

*This is not an all encompassing list.

Guilt-Free Purging

Loitering Dolls

I went on a much-needed vacation last week and I actually got a chance to read a book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by [Kondo, Marie]

It may have been the topic was of interest to me, but I was able to read it in a couple of sittings. It gave an interesting perspective on how to clean up and downsize:  Instead or organizing by area/location, organize by category.

people who can’t stay tidy can be categorized into just three types: the “can’t-throw-it-away” type, the “can’t-put-it-back” type, and the “first-two-combined” type.

I am definily of the first type because my goal was, in recent years: A place for everything and everything in it’s place.

In a nutshell, you put all your shirts, for example of a category, on the floor and you pick up each one and if it give you good feelings when you pick it up and touch it, you keep it.

Believe what your heart tells you when you ask, “Does this spark joy?”

The author gives a recommended order of categories that have proven, in her experience, most effective – shirts were first. Once you get the hang of making the keep vs toss decision, the momentum and hang you get from this decision-making pocess supposedly gets easier.

You just need time to dedicate to go through this process. Perhaps during your next rainy weekend, I can negotiate a couple of hours to start with the shirts.

I currently have a one in one-to-two out policy when it came to making clothing purchases.  This method is suppose to make a big dent in the order you go in.

I highly recommend this book if you’re looking to improve your living space and situation. Apparently, once you go through the whole process, you may hit some sort of mental clarity.  Some have changed their careers paths onced they saw what books were left on the shelf.

I’m excited to see where it may lead me!  

How about you – what do you do to keep you space sane?