Your Time

Thank you for being with me today I don’t know where you are. Here it is beautiful, sunny, with clear skies.

My question today is a simple one, “are you taking care of yourself?”

When we are younger, our parents take care of us. As we grow a little, we find ourselves taking care of our kids. And, as we get a little bit older, we find our kids taking care of us. This must be one of those universal cycles. And, as is true in life, we always look out to help and take care of our family, our neighbor, and those we see who are in need of help. So my question stands, “are we taking time to take care of ourselves?”

I ask this because if we don’t take the time, and we don’t listen to our bodies, the bodies have a way of speaking louder, to a point where we cannot ignore them. It is much easier to take care of a whisper than it is to fix a body when it is screaming at you.

I have been there, and I have done this myself to an extent, so I understand. With everything we have these days and very busy lives, we seem to be continuously running the race for others and saving time by ignoring our needs.

This is just one man’s opinion; however, with all the communication software we have on the market today, we can stay in contact with everyone for very little or no cost. Tie that into calendar systems which will keep track of each of your events, appointments, and meetings. The next thing you know, you have a system of organization.

The next thing you need to do to set up your calendar from the inside out. Start with you, and start with seven hours of sleep minimum, eight hours is even better. Lunchtime is the time to get out from behind The desk or off the construction line. Eat something and look around a little. Taking this respite from work is needed. Your work for the rest of the day will far eclipse anything you could’ve gotten done over lunch.

When you set this up, be sure not to sink the whole program by scheduling your ‘me time,’ at the same time somebody else needs your help whether it is kid’s soccer, your spouse’s ‘me time’ or other events you also need to pay attention to.

This is something each of us has to do for ourselves. And like everything else, it will take time and practice to get it right. The neat thing is it is something everyone can succeed at when we work at it. You succeed for your children, you succeed for your parents, you succeed for your spouse, and now, you can also succeed for you.

Have a great day

If You Change Your Angle

Hello and welcome back.

We’ve been talking about comfort zones. Up until now, we’ve been talking about having a comfort zone and going to a new one as something fearful. There are always worries about what might happen. The truth is you don’t know until you try.

Would it be fearful for something to offer you a large sum of money? To give you prestige? To give you a better lifestyle? You’re probably expecting me now to tell you all this happens with the comfort zone to the next. Sorry. As stated in the last blog, I have been around the block a few times. But I am here to tell you that with a little research and a little work moving from one comfort zone to another can be a very good thing.

Look at changing a comfort zone like this. I had a friend in Alaska who won a free trip to Hawaii from a radio station. It was for him and his wife, and the catch was they had to leave in two days. They both had jobs, and kids, and other responsibilities.

Most people would have just said no I can’t go, I have too many responsibilities. The contest involved packing suitcases, so the suitcases were packed. They each made a quick call and explanation to their jobs and their employers who understood and encouraged the trip. The next-door neighbor, who they traded babysitting with offered to take care of the kids while they were gone. And in about 18 hours, they were ready to board the plane and enjoy a vacation paid for by local radio station.

Many things look impossible when you’re down looking up. If you can change your angle of view a little bit, you can start to see ways in which obstacles diminish and opportunities become possible.

Take another look at the worries and concerns that you may have in trying to achieve something new. If you can adjust the view, maybe with reading a few articles or watching a few YouTube videos, maybe you can see a way.

Thank you for being with me today and listening to one person’s ideas. We hope you find the way to seek and find what you’re looking for.

We look forward to being with you again tomorrow. Thank you.

 

 

Pareto Chart

Hi, there this is Mike.

I want to thank everybody who wrote in earlier this week and answered my three questions. The more I know about what you are looking for, the easier it is for me to develop the content you like and can use.

We plan to double down on the things you like while improving some of the ways we deliver the content. Just because I’m not asking every day what you like or don’t like and what you can use or cannot use, does not mean that we’re not interested. As you find entries that are useful, please let us know. If you find things you can do without, that’s even more important for us to know.

I know some people are concerned because they’re afraid if they make a comment, they will end up on my mailing list somewhere.  I’d make everybody this promise, “I will never put anyone on a mailing just because they commented on one of my blogs.”

If you would wish to be on my mailing list, please let me know. Otherwise, reading and commenting on the blog will not put you on a mailing list. This is a promise between friends, me and you.

As promised, today we are looking at a real Pareto chart.  I was going to use a computer build line to show it.  I thought it would be better if I used SAM and his scenario as the backdrop for this.  We all know about SAM’s work.

SAM has been keeping a tick sheet with the number of each type of problem he encountered.  This was before everything got fixed last week.  The tick sheet looked like This:

 

Problem Occurrences Tic marks
Car will not start 6 XXXXXX
Lost car keys 10 XXXXXXXXXX
Saw snakes 2 XX
Had to borrow money 1 X
House over 80° 1 X
Total 20

 

Once SAM collected these numbers, then he could make the Pareto chart. You often hear that the Pareto chart shows where 20% of your problems cause 80% of your work

Rear Real Pareto

The chart shows us what to tackle first to get rid of the biggest hitters. Very small numbers are showing minutia. Minutia is a word for all those little bitty annoyances, they don’t cause the big problems and fixing them won’t fix the big problems. That’s why we use the Pareto chart so we can identify and fix the largest problems first.

Once those problems are fixed, guess what, the smaller problems have moved up to be the largest of the problems. This is presuming another unknown large problem has not shown itself yet. And once the medium and smaller problems are now our top problems, we can turn attention to those and fix those also. We don’t leave problems unfixed, we just fix them in order.

I hope this helps.  Tomorrow I will have a new article, and next week I will start a story that is told in graphics and pictures.

Have a great day.

SAM’s List

Thank you for allowing me to be back with you again.

I hope you had a chance to read yesterday’s blog and make a list of those concerns and problems which are trying to overwhelm you. One thing to remember is that you were rarely alone.

Because I do not know the specifics of everyone’s problems or what their list may hold, it would be wrong for me to suggest somebody perform a set of action items based on that list. Yesterday we talked about making a list, and the lesson plan called for you to make a list. This list will be for your use after we’ve gone through this week’s lesson.  By the end of the week, you should have a good idea of how it works.  If you want to ask questions at that point, please write or call me, and we can talk about them,  The list is a starting point so you can try what SAM is working on right now.

Remember SAM? We looked in on SAM last week. He was having problems, and we watched as he made an affinity diagram, and a cause-and-effect chart (Fish-bone diagram.) Cause-and-effect charts and affinity diagrams are great for pointing out concerns and problems. By changing the causes, you are able to change the effects.

SAM made a list last night.  SAM is a pretty smart avatar. And we are going to look at his list  and help to get things sorted out.

Sam’s list looks like this:

SM'S PRO

+= a safety concern     * = a Health Concern

The big thing to remember when you start looking at problems is that you are not alone.  You may have friends, family, significant others, social clubs, religious organizations, or neighbors. You also have this blog. Please remember that nothing is so horrible it can’t be worked out and good remedies taken. And also, please remember the rules of numbers. One person can be fooled, overtaken, or defeated however some people working as one can easily win the day.

SAM did a pretty neat job on his list. I did notice he left out some of the concerns he had listed earlier.  Although everything gets tackled in an order according to how it affects the overall flow of the home and work, if an item is not on the list, it misses getting considered.  The list will be in great turmoil if it is unnecessarily interrupted.

Please notice that SAM noted safety and/or health concerns.  Putting these issues towards at the top of things to fix helps to save money and heartache in the long run.

Did you leave anything off your list?  It is better to acknowledge a concern than to ignore it.  Ignored items have a tendency to come back and get us.

Consider this and tomorrow we will help SAM (who will have a complete list ready) to plan his order of attack on the problems and have some solutions ready to go.

I think you are really going to like the actions and ideas SAM and his friends have in store for tomorrow.

Thanks for being with us today.

The Affinity Game

Howdy!

I am very proud of all my sons.  They have each graduated college and are doing fantastic in their fields of endeavor. Especially my son who is a Ph.D. and a tenured college professor. I was amazed that he was published three times as an undergraduate. In all three times, the papers dealt with games. I knew I should’ve stayed in college. That is okay I am developing some new games that we can play.

I hope you were with us in our last session when we discussed and went through a scenario on solving a problem and overcoming a Band-Aid fix.

Every time you have a problem pop up, and is reoccurring, it is developing what we call a hidden factory within your normal life. The hidden factory is something you don’t normally plan on, and yet it happens. Hidden factories steal time and money.  Usually both.

Sometimes we have so many small problems that keep vying for our attention, we don’t know which one to fix first. Sometimes we end up focusing on a small set of problems that are annoyances while missing either more costly problems or items that may be safety issues.

To help keep the larger problems from creeping up on us from behind, it is good to keep an eye on them, and even rank order what you need to fix first and what may be able to wait a little while until you have a better time or better money. To do this, you can play a game with an affinity chart. You can get the whole family, significant others, and/or friends involved in this. I like to make a party out of the affinity game. Have some soda and popcorn or some coffee and cake, or just good friendship. The game requires some post-it notes, a place you can put the Post-it notes, and something to write on them with.

This is a problem hunting game. Think of it this way, what items are giving me grief, taking my time, or taking my money? If I want to save time and money, I need to identify them and start to fix them. If there is something that would cause harm, or flood the house, I want to fix that one first. If I have a screen that is loose, I do want to fix that, I just may need to fix something else first.

In the affinity game,  use five headings.  The headings are People, who are those who are affected, family and/or friends. Plans, they are the overall goals, not just the problems. Processes, how we do things such as pay bills, buy groceries, etc.. Prosperity, the paycheck and other resources we use. Lastly, Papa Nature, the environmental concerns such as living in tornado alley or near a flood plain. You want to write these five areas on separate Post-it notes and place them on a whiteboard, a wall that won’t be marred, or some other flat surface where you can put plenty of other Post-its below each one.

To start out, go around the room, and each person puts one Post-it note under a heading with one item they think could be done better. Just list the item. Don’t give ideas for fixes or long written descriptions now. It is probably good to have somebody act as the facilitator for this. You could even spark interest by having the child or teenager be the facilitator. The facilitator also places post-its on the chart when it is his or her turn.

If more than one person hands in a Post-it note with the same item or nearly the same item on it, that is okay. Put those Post-it notes on top of each other. The fact that there are multiple Post-it notes shows a deeper concern in that area.

You can limit the affinity game to an hour, or you can keep on going until no one else has anything that they can think of to put on a Post-it. The more Post-its, the better because you’re getting ideas out there. And every idea is of value to the person who had it. Every person is also valuable to the family or team as a whole.

When the game is done, everybody should thank each other and tell each other that everyone is important to the family or the team. The nice thing is now you have information.

You have gathered data. It is believed, and talked of, and is yet to be proven. It is, however, valuable data because it is a start.

Next time we will take what has been learned here with the affinity diagram and learn how to use it in our next step.

Thank you for being with us.

The Right Tool Always Works Best

Do Not Try This at Home.  Have you ever tried to put a nail into a board by pushing it in with your fingers? Or maybe just banging it in with your fist? It could get painful. Have you ever tried to drill a hole for dowel with your fingernail or really dig into it with the thumbnail? DO NOT try any of these methods. There are better ways. Just a few minor manual tools such as a claw hammer and a hand drill would not only be safer and less dangerous, they would get the job done a whole what faster.

Tools are a wonderful thing. Tools are there to assist you to do a job that you want to get done. The right tool always works best when used for the right job. There are manual tools and power tools, a screwdriver will open a can of paint, but it can also slip and cut your hand. Believe it or not, most stores will give you for free a little key to open your paint can easily and safely.

You don’t have to have fancy power tools all the time. A cordless drill always helps, or the circular saw if you cut a lot of wood. Yet, there is nothing more fun to watch, nor anything more enjoyable than seeing the happiness in a kid as he uses his first manual tool set to build his first birdhouse or his first sailboat. Although inexperienced, the young one is thrilled with his first tools.

Tools aren’t limited to carpentry. Mechanics have many types of tools to help every day. And, we have other great tools at our disposal.  I had a birthday yesterday which helped to remind me I am not the youngest rooster in the barnyard. I do not mind the slow walk toward senior citizenship, it does bother me when I feel I am acting the senior citizen stereotype.

The nice thing is, there is help using the right tools to keep me on point. Just like the carpentry tools, these tools can be very simple and manual or very complex and powerful. We need to play with them to understand which ones are right for each of us. Whatever we use, these tools should not cost us an arm and a leg. It doesn’t matter how much we would like to turn in that arm or leg for new one.

The last three weeks, we looked at goal setting and building a map to where we wanted to go in life. This week started out with a wonderful tool called a decision tree which helps you to record how you work on a problem or solution. The work can be done on a piece of paper, a notebook, on a tablet or a computer.

The decision tree doesn’t have to be fancy to be effective.  Simple is just as good. I’m sure there are people designing software to make the tree quite complex.

The simple fact, the decision tree is a tool. It won’t do everything for you, but it will help you with the task you’re trying to complete. I would like to show you some other tools you use to accomplish what you want to do, help keep your tasks straight, help show  what should be done first, help determine what is value-added, and what is not value-added. And, a few other things

If the tools start to look like something from process improvement class, you are probably right. Are we going to force everybody into groups to talk for hours each week and drag out long decisions over storyboards and printed slide presentations?  Oh, heavens no! We are going to simply take some tools and mold them, so they work for the needs of each of us. This means you’ll get to customize your tools to better do what you want to be done. In the end, the tools will help you to be on time, pay the bills when due, keep in touch with others, make better decisions, and save some money by spending it more wisely.

Bottom line, I’m not writing about the tools, is much as I’m writing about what you can do with them.

Have a great day and tomorrow will start with our next tool.

Thanks for being with us.

 

Ever Play 20 Questions?

When you were a kid did you ever play 20 questions? It was a fun game to help pass the time. It basically worked by everyone agreeing on a topic (person, thing, activity, etc.) One person would pick something based on the topic. Everyone else playing the game would ask the person questions for a yes or no answer. A few years ago, an electronic game of the same name, and played the same way was a hit in the marketplace as a holiday gift.

Today, I promised you forests of decision trees, and here I am talking about games. The neat thing is, the 20 questions game is the same decision matrix which is used in the decision tree. You ask a series of questions for which there can only be a yes or no answer. You do need to verify the answers as you go. This, though, is often the easiest, and smartest way to discover root cause, or help you decide on a course of action.

If you look at the trees, each junction has two branches. A red branch which we will call the ‘No’ branch, and, a green branch which we will call the ‘Yes’ branch. It is always good to draw your decision tree as you go.

You can do this in your notebook, on a whiteboard, on your computer, on a tablet, or on your smartphone, depending on what type of software you have loaded. I like to put mine either in my tablet or in my notebook so I can refer to the decision tree later.

Remember, a no is not always the end of a line of questioning. You can explore a no route, although it is often easier and more correct to follow the yes trail. By doing so, you stay on a positive path. If you do this, ask the questions in a way that yes leads you on, and no helps you to eliminate something. In that case, and it is the case I recommend, your tree will look like the one on the right above.

Let’s run a practice decision tree just to test one out. This is something that happened to me last night, and although I did not draw the decision tree at the time, these are the steps I took.

Last night the pencil to my iPad did not work, I was frustrated. It cost hundred dollars, and I was in no mood, nor prepared to buy another one. So this means I had to figure out why and make the pencil work again. This decision tree will be the one on the right, not the forest on the left.

  1. Is the pencil not working properly? Yes, not working
  2. Is the pencil charged? Yes (I charged the pencil for 15 minutes to ensure it was charged.)
  3. Is the charge port working? Yes (I could charge the iPad)
  4. Does charging the pencil external to the iPad work? No (tried it, this means it’s not the charging port)
  5. Is there an explanation in the pencil guide online? Yes (I followed the instructions)
  6. Does the pencil now work? Yes

I learned new things last night. I also learned not to be the cliché of the guy who reads the instructions only as the last step. Next time, I will move reading the instructions further up the list.

Whether I do it consciously or subconsciously, I like the decision trees.