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Welcome to ProcessImprovement.Me.  Each week we will post between one and three blog posts on change, how to improve at something in life or business, or learning something new.  Please join us and participate in the comments.  We would really like to hear your thoughts.  You cannot post a comment on the home page (just the way they set up the site.) All the other pages do afford the ability to post comments. We recommend you use the Blog Page for this.

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Time Woes

Have you ever noticed how fast time moves?

Time moves forward one second at a time in a relentless fashion. Seconds become minutes, then hours become days, and months become years, and finally, here I am in November wondering whatever happened to the Fourth of July. I am shocked that time never takes a timeout. What is that all about.

There’s something that we have to learn, and many do not learn this until it’s too late. The thought is ignored even though the warning signs, statements, and cute kitsch are found everywhere. The simple truth, each second, minute, hour, day, or year can never be retaken.

This leads us to another simple truth. Time leaves us whether we use that are not. You can’t save it up for an emergency or that planned future vacation. And no one else can control your reaction to time. You use it on something important to you, or you lose it. All of this is up to you.

Take a couple minutes and write down everything that’s important to you. Then put priorities to the list. Ask yourself, are you sitting in a room for days looking at how messy it is and how unkempt? Or are you taking 10 minutes to put pick everything up, throw the trash away, and put everything else back where it belongs? So how much time are you really going to spend in a dirty room, 10 minutes or days?

Please don’t think I’m preaching. Actually, I believe I’m talking to myself.

Complacency

Complacency is something that will sneak up on all of us.

People love habits. They like the feeling of accomplishment. They love knowing that things are done. And they like the ease of living that good habits will give the people who use them wisely. More often than not many of us will also fail at long-running good habits.

If you don’t believe me, please take a poll about six weeks after New Year’s day. How many people you talk to set up goals for the new year, and within six weeks, have already failed at them? Did they not care? Did they not believe? Did they not try? The truth is they did care, they did believe in they did try.

In teaching new forklift drivers, safety and control are taught and preached for hours both in the classroom and during driver training on the forklift. You would think that most accidents would happen within a few weeks after the training, while the new drivers are still what behind the ears. Not so.

Most accidents for new drivers of forklifts, according to the statistics, happened about three months after training. Why? Complacency. Brand-new drivers are very cautious. They stick to every safety rule. And, they keep the speeds very low. About the three-month mark, new forklift drivers become complacent. They start to get a little sloppy in their safety, speed increases a little and the next thing you know, they bump into something. Sometimes they bump into someone.

Are they bad people? Do these accident-prone drivers not care? No. They did so well for three months driving the forklift that they started to let their guard down. Often, they don’t even recognize it.

These drivers were taught well. Were watched to ensure good habits were being formed. And, did a good job. Complacency just sneaks up on them.

The trick is if you like the results a habit gives you, pay attention and keep it up. Don’t  become complacent.

More Control within

We hold more control than we ever know.

We’re pushed on by forces beyond our control every day. We do not have to bend to those forces. And most times, it is better if we do not. The forces at play are concerned about themselves, what their needs and desires are, and how they achieve through the skillful use of others.

We have to do this because of the money. We should really be doing that because of politics. We should be doing the other because of the neighbors… It seems as though demands are never-ending and resources are often meager at best.

With all of the above going on in our lives, I would just like to offer a thought. What if we didn’t? What if we gave up on letting others tell us to do this, that, and the other?

I’m not saying not to do anything. I’m talking about finding new voices to guide you. We always follow voices different than us, mainly because they’re different than us. We assume their difference makes them better. I believe I have found something even better than them.

I’m not saying to forget conventional wisdom. I am saying to look inside find that quiet voice within you. Not the one screaming in your head saying you’re doing everything wrong, rather the quiet voice, and consider it.

Do good for yourself and your family, and others. Strive to better yourself. And, help others to find that good within themselves. The real treasures in life aren’t things, the real treasures are the times we share with each other.

Yes, I Probably Should

Many people claim that they don’t like or want habits because they just do things when they’re needed. The truth of the matter is people don’t do things when they’re needed. They wait till everything is piled up, and it’s hard to walk across the floor, and you can’t see the sink anymore. Then the idea comes to mind, “I ought to clean this up.”

Usually, as we finish cleaning something up, it dawns on us that the time and work wasn’t too bad. And, as good as the place looks we should do this on a regular basis. And yes, I probably should.

When they’re up and fully running, habits are wonderful. Trying to get a habit up and running is tough. Times don’t work out, things get in the way, and believe it or not sometimes I just get tired.

I have to tell you I do not believe in bribery. I have been known, though, to initiate positive behavior modification. Positive behavior modification is a lot better than bribery. I modify behavior to meet a needed objective by having an incentive which is highly desired and only given after the modification conditions are fully met.

I want the dishes done every night and the kitchen cleaned before we watch TV. However, there are good shows on early in the evening, and I don’t want to miss any of them. Okay, how do I make this work?

I can clean the kitchen as I cook dinner, rinse and stack the dinner dishes into the dishwasher, and if full start it. If I get creative, I could spend about three or four minutes after each meal I eat, to rinse the dishes and stack them in the dishwasher. I could also pick up the kitchen as I cook whatever meal I’m eating. And that would also save time.

Please comment and tell me what other chores plague you, what you think a significant incentive would be to complete them, and how you would make them a habit.

Take A Look

We all have work we want to do in life, and we all have work we have to do in life.

If we are lucky, we like the work we do. Yet, some of the work is important whether we like it or not? When we get to this point, we need to stop and think for a moment.

Am I about to tell you that you don’t have to do work that you don’t like? Sorry, no. Some work we do not enjoy is still very important work. Instead, when faced with a task you don’t really want to do, stop and consider for a second.

Stop and consider why the task needs to be done. Consider what will happen if the task is not done. I hate to mow the lawn and trim the trees. So, I have some things to consider. Consider what the yard could look like if I did not do anything. Overgrown, bushes turning into trees, and havoc sprouting up everywhere. It would be a real unsightly mess. I may get some comments, but I sure wouldn’t like them.

Next, consider what the yard would look like if you did a half-hearted job. Wayward bushes and trees may be knocked down, most of the grass would be cut, you might even pile the trash into a central location. Yet the place would only look so-so. Would this really make you happy? Will it make you feel good? Or would it just be one more task done until you have to do it again?

Then, think of what the yard would look like if you really set out to do a good job. Trash bagged and ready for removal, the grass neatly trimmed with care and edges clean and straight, sidewalks swept, and proper maintenance of the lawn. Wow, this may take half the day or more. Just think of how you’ll feel about a good-looking yard when the work is done. Consider how future effort will be easier as long as the yard is kept up and maintenance may end up as little as a couple of hours a week, and that time may be spread over many days.

All of us are individuals, and as such, we all have things we do not like to do. We just need to look through the work, to see if we like the outcome.

What Am I Working On

Ever have a day where everything seems to fall apart as soon as you touch it? The big desk computer has a two-hour patch it started automatically. The laptop is fussy and hard to bring up and wants to give a continuous grief. The iPad beckons, and as you try to use it for business, it directs you towards games. There’s only one thing to do.

Dude? You have a fast desktop, a 64-bit dual core laptop, and an iPad. The last thing you should be doing is whining about anything. If you have all that, you have what it takes to run an empire. Just think about how many great people started with so much less. And how far they rose with many of them having none of those three items.

 It’s important every day that I look in the mirror, and remind myself first off how lucky I am. Secondly, and most importantly, I need to remind myself it’s not about me. It’s about doing well for the others whom I help.

When we are given things or given the ability to earn them, then much is expected from us in return. And rightly so. For as we rise in our status, just as we were helped by people before us (and yes, we were helped,) it is up to us to reach out a hand and help those behind us.

We have to remember that even the highest person cannot go any higher until the lowliest person takes that next step up.

The question isn’t what’s working, the question is what am I working on to help the next person.

Together

Thank you for being with us again today.

In researching items for the course, I am preparing, I was reminded of a very important point. If we have spouses or others who we partner with in life, in planning our future we have to consider and work in tandem with them. This is because we are no longer an individual, we are now a team member.

One important fact that we should remember:

Teams work better when they work together.

Please remember, no matter how good the plans or intentions, if not developed and shared with the team, doubt, fear, and confusion often ensue.

This is just something for us to keep in mind whether it is planning the weekend or the trip to the rest of our lives.

Thank you very much and will meet again tomorrow.