"The Dog" Journal

Welcome to the Dog Journal, a Sunday afternoon blog, where I'll share my best finds of the week for taming those puppies that gnaw at your planner.

Could be a quick time management tip, a smell-the-flowers moment, a comment overheard on the elevator. Whatever the inspiration, I hope you'll blog right along with me by commenting and sharing your tips and stories for taming an overbooked life.

Why Sunday afternoon? That's time I call "white space," a block of time I set aside for reflecting on the week before and planning the week ahead.

Yay for Me!

June 10th, 2013

photoThis weekend, when my granddaugher Taylor had her first ballet recital at the ripe old age of 3, I expected to be charmed. She and a bevy of little classmates were predictably precious as they twirled and pointed their toes.

But it was at the family celebration after that I most loved watching her. Like the other tiny dancers, her participation had entitled her to a little plastic trophy.  My grown-up brain had dismissed it as so much hype. I was wrong.

“Yay for me!” she said, And climbed on her chair, held the trophy high and beamed.

When we clapped, she went for an encore.

And why not? For a solid two hours, she’d waited patiently backstage – no tears – for her few minutes of fame, then danced out and given it her best. It was a moment worth celebrating and savoring, and she knew it.

Somewhere between age three and age 23, 33, 43, 53, 63….some of us lose that powerful ability to celebrate and savor. We don’t like tooting our own horn. When we accomplish something, we just check it off the list and move on to the next.

We could take a lesson from Taylor.

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On Time and Chicken

May 11th, 2013


All moms teach by example. On this Mothers Day, I feel fortunate that mine taught by setting good ones.

Giving by nature, she also knew where to draw the line. She did not, for example, buy whole chickens unless she was planning to cook the chicken whole.

“It’s cheaper to cut them up yourself,” she told me. “But once you go down that road, spending a lot of time to save a little, it’s hard to turn back.”

Somehow, the remark became a powerful lesson in honoring my time and honoring me.

Half a century later, I have no idea about the relative costs or whole and cut-up chickens. But I would no more buy a whole chicken and cut it up than I would drive 90 MPH in a 65 MPH zone.

Likewise, her instruction to “keep your robe on” when you’re sick stuck with me because, as she pointed out, “otherwise, people will expect you to be back, giving 100 percent.”

She was not a paid consultant on the work-life balance puzzle. But she might as well have been.

Thanks, mom.

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MoodOff Day = Challenge

February 24th, 2013

After challenging others to observe the second annual MoodOff Day, a dose of good old-fashioned guilt inspired me to power down my smartphone this morning at 6 and not text or call anyone till at least 11 a.m.

This was to show solidarity with the MoodOff movement’s message that we have become smartphone/text-obsessed and it’s high time to resort to some good old-fashioned connection.

I’m the first to admit my obsessions. I love sending and receiving texts, and though I’m a terribly unreliable FB poster, I do check in and lurk from time to time.

As for MoodOff Day, I’m happy to report I survived it. I’d like to say it was because I felt so much peace and tranquility disconnected. But actually, it was due to a texting friend’s suggestion that it was OK to use my landline.

Also, my daughter was in town this weekend visiting from Chicago, so I rousted her out of bed in time for plenty of conversation before we left for my son and daughter-in-law’s, where there was more conversation and entertainment by my three-year-old granddaughter.

Later, when I realized we were running late for a restaurant reservation, I nudged my daughter, who was not observing MoodOff Day, to make the call. Oops.

So I was not on my phone but I was constantly thinking about the fact that I was not on my phone and working around it. I guess that’s a start – recognizing obsession, briefly stopping, and enjoying the moment.

I think I’ll be ready to do it again. In another 365 days.

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Goodnight iPad = Good Advice

January 14th, 2013

photoShopping at our spiffy new neighborhood toy store, I discovered a children’s book that should be required reading for all the overbooked attorneys I coach.

Goodnight, iPad has a familiar cover. It looks like Goodnight Moon, that old bedtime standby by Margaret Wise Brown, in which children say a ritualistic goodnight to their daytime surroundings and toys before drifting off to sleep.

In Goodnight iPad, though, author Ann Droyd has us bidding a bedtime goodbye instead to Angry Birds, smart phones and tablets. No doubt it will strike a chord with parents of teen-agers, who wrestle with shutting down their electronics. That’s probably why Droyd subtitled it “A Parody for the Next Generation.”

But while we’re at it, some of us might start reading it with the thought of untethering ourselves.

For those who want a more adult untethering guide, there’s also Harvard Business School professor Leslie Perlow’s Sleeping with Your Smartphone: How to Break the 24/7 Habit and Change the Way You Work. Read on….but possibly not on an electronic device.

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