July, 2011

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Product Review: Packing and Grocery Checklists

Thursday, July 28th, 2011


I love these ready-to-use checklist pads! They were perfect giveaways for my Moms Summer Series listeners.

You get 60 sheets that save you little grey cells and loads of time NOT WRITING your list over and over.

These are available at The Container Store for $6.99 each. Buy 2 of each and wrap a set for that friend’s birthday!

All Out Of Checklist Pad

Make your grocery (or take with you on vacation!) list as you go with this pre-made checklist.

Frequent purchases are listed under major shopping categories so you don’t have to write those staples every time.

Magnetized so you can post on your refrigerator and everyone can add to the list.


Pack This! Classic Checklist

Read through the list and mark what you want to pack. Then check off each item as you assemble what you need.

Now you don’t have to rack your brain wondering what you are forgetting! Let the checklist remind you.

Go back to revise your list after each trip until you have it down to a science!

Getting That Project from To Do to DONE!

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

My husband, Jeff,  is a Project Management Professional (PMP).  He oversees Information Technology (IT) projects for the State of Ohio.

You and I are project managers, too. Without thinking about it, we go through certain steps to make sure something gets done on time. Sometimes we miss a step, the project falters, and we are scrambling to catch up. Perhaps we can learn some tips from the experts.

First, let’s make sure we agree on what a project is. This is the short definition in Project Management for Dummies by Stanley E. Portny, PMP:

A project is a temporary undertaking performed to produce a unique product, service, or result.

In plain English, that means:  

  • A project has a beginning, middle and an end with specific start and end dates.
  • The result or product is well-defined and measurable.
  • Resources are necessary to complete the project (ex. people’s time and effort, money).

There are 5 steps that constitute a complete project cycle. Let’s walk through the steps and apply them to a summer project. Say, for example, you want to take a trip to see the Grand Canyon.

  1. Initiating – Starting the project by clarifying needs/desires, expectations, budget, who will be involved.~~ Decide you are actually going to take that trip to Arizona to see the Grand Canyon. Invite
    people to go with you, ask what else they want to see. Estimate how much the trip will cost
    and whether you can afford it.
  2. Planning – Working out details on what is involved (scope), resources available, timing, and what can go wrong. Decide who will do what and when in order to be done on time.~~Check out airfares to see where and when you will fly out west. Plan how long you will stay based on  available resources. Map out what you will see and where you need to book overnight stays. Look at the extended forecast for an idea of what to pack. Think about what could go wrong and plan for contingencies.
  3. Executing – Taking action; work as a team.~~Book flights, rental car, hotel rooms. Have mail and papers held. Pack suitcases, get spending money and meet at the airport at the appropriate date and time. Delegate some tasks to make other traveler(s) feel invested in the process.
  4. Monitoring/Controlling – Tracking performance to stay on time and budget.~~While vacationing according to plan, be flexible to account for unexpected delays or expenses. Adjust your itinerary accordingly to stay within your budget and get to the airport on time to come home.
  5. Closing – Get approval on final results. Do a post-project evaluation to acknowledge what did well, lessons learned on ways to improve.~~Pat yourself on the back for checking that wish off your bucket list! Jot down a few notes on what you will do differently next time.

My Request to You

Take a piece of paper. Identify one project you are thinking of starting or are in the middle of.

Write the 5 steps on your paper. Next to each one, brainstorm what tasks/actions will be needed.
Assign a start and an end date to your project. Then work backward asking yourself, “When will I have to get this particular task done in order to finish my project on time?”

You will be amazed at the solid plan you end up with! Call this your “skeleton” and flesh it out as you walk through each stage. Don’t you love having a plan on paper so you don’t have to waste brain cells rethinking all the time? Now, just do it!

Sometimes Life’s a Balancing Act!

Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Flickr CC Pink Sherbert Photography

I am very glad that our Manufacturer gave us a life instruction manual. As with any product we purchase, the thing works best when operated according to the instructions. There is a right and wrong use built into the product.

Still, so much of life is less a matter of right and wrong, but of a healthy balance of two good things — applied to a particular situation.
How are you doing at keeping your life in balance? Balance is best represented by the conjunction “and” rather than by “or”.

  • Love and Discipline
  • Spending and Saving
  • Confronting and Forgiving
  • Accumulating and Letting go
  • God’s part (initiating) and My part (response)
  • Doing what I can to affect change and Accepting what I can’t change

In each pair of opposites above, neither is good or bad in itself. The key is in a thoughtful, balanced co-existence.

Is there an area of your life you have been avoiding, that sparks anger, or gives you a sinking feelingin the pit of your stomach? Those are red flags to let you know something is going on that needs yourattention.

My request to you:
Take 5 minutes to be quiet, ask yourself what the conflict is, and write down two distinctly opposite ways you can handle the situation. Then decide on a balanced plan of action that incorporates a part ofboth extremes.

Expressing negative feelings is not wrong. Remember to use the words “I feel ____________.” Makesure you put a feeling in the blank! Then you can say what is causing the feeling. Letting someone knowhow his/her actions are affecting you is the right thing to do. Your confession may not affect change inthat person, but you will have done your part to reconcile.

Summer is a great time to try something new. If you don’t succeed the first time, you will have eliminated one contender and can move on to another (cherry tomatoes.) If nothing else, life is an adventure!


Analyze Systems with 3 E’s

Tuesday, July 5th, 2011

At least once every other month, I try to visit my 3 grandchildren in Virginia. Oh yeah, I also go to see my daughter and her husband at the same time.

One of the things I admire about my daughter is that she has timing down to a science on meals, naps and TV viewing. I am having fun analyzing what systems are working for her.

The three measuring points of a system are:

  1. Easy – does it make the action simpler or more complicated/hard to remember?
  2. Effective – does it get the job done?
  3. Efficient – are resources used wisely?

Don’t we all want to get things done quickly, simply, and without using too much money or energy? That is even more appealing during the summer months when we want to go in, get it done, and get back outside for fun in the sun!

So pick one task that you perform on a daily or weekly basis. Evaluate by asking yourself the 3 E’s. If your way of doing that task fails in one area, ask yourself how you can tweak the process to get it done more quickly or easily.

Making one small change – relocating supplies closer to where used for example – can make a big difference.

I’m with you. Let’s conserve energy and enjoy easy!