Back to work

Back to work

Organizing the office

I was the kind of kid who used to love Mondays, New Year’s Day and first day back at school after the summer holiday.

I am still that kind of kid, just a little older, a little more grey than blonde.

I love fresh starts and new beginnings, and I always have. I love the promises they bring, the hope and the possibilities.

Beginnings have always been my forte. I dive headfirst into new projects, full of enthusiasm. I am a beginner. A finisher … not so much.

And after my month long hiatus from this blog, it could have ended as another starter-project that fizzled out. But it turned out I just needed to embrace those few short summer weeks we get her in Scandinavia. Somehow it didn’t seem very tempting to be cocooned inside when the sun was finally making an appearance.

But that was then, and this is now, and the summer is drawing towards an end and I am heading back to work.

And I’m loving it!

As a kid, moving up a year in school meant new books, new stationary equipment, maybe a new backpack or lunch box. Returning back to work after the summer doesn’t bring quite the same newness, but one can try, right?

My back-to-work ritual

So this is what I am doing to mark the end of summer and the return to work:

  • Clean my office, remove all the dead flies piling up in the windowsill, wipe the dust that has had time to settle, tidy away any clutter I have dumped on my desk during the summer.
  • Empty my inbox. I like to start on zero, so I will go through all my emails, delete all spam, out-of-date press releases, chain mails and emails not needing a reply. Those needing attention will be filed in a separate folder, so that the main inbox remains empty.
  • Change over my wardrobe. Yes, it’s that time again soon, when the summer dresses are getting too cold and the cardigans are sneaking back into my wardrobe. I might do a capsule wardrobe, I might not. I haven’t decided yet.
  • Buy scented candles. I like to add some niceties to my office. It can be fresh flowers or a pretty item or candles. I believe in making my home office a place where I want to spend time, not just a place where I have to be to earn money.
  • Get out a new notebook. OK, I might not need it, I have several unused ones stashed away. But as a stationary junkie I don’t need any excuses to buy more notebooks.


Do you have a back-to-work ritual?




How one single push-up can make all the difference

How one single push-up can make all the difference

Can you get strong by doing one single push-up? Surely not.

What if you did that one single push-up a couple of times a day? Every day?

What if you after a while found you had enough strength to do two push-ups? And then five? And then ten? And twenty?

Small disciplines can lead to great changes. And if you combine small disciplines with tiny habits you can transform your life (should you want to – you might be quite happy where you are, thank you very much).

From tiny to habit
The phrase “tiny habits” were coined by Dr. BJ Hoggs and refers to a method of creating new habits by breaking them down into ridiculously small sizes. This can be the single push-up I mentioned earlier, or flossing a single tooth, writing one sentence, reading one paragraph, tidying one single shelf and so on. You simply make the task so ridiculously tiny that you give yourself no reason to avoid it.

However, you might want to make sure you settle on a “tininess” that makes sense to you. To me, things can get too small, to the point where I cannot be bothered to pull out the flosser if it’s only to floss one tooth (yes, I am that lazy). I would need a slightly bigger section to be bothered to do it, such as the teeth in the bottom left part of the jaw or similar.

– Behavior and behavioral changes are not as difficult as people think. They are systematic.

BJ Fogg

behavior scientist

You also need to be motivated if you are to have any success implementing the tiny habits into your daily routines. If you feel you ought to do something, but you are not really bothered about it, you probably won’t be able to establish a habit.

        TIP! Only implement one or two habits at the time.

Trigger makes the habit
In addition to creating the tiniest task you can perceive yourself doing, you need to find a trigger that will make you do it. This can be anything, although you will probably want to work with some logical sequences such as “after I get undressed for the evening, I will remove my makeup”.

However, you might also have success making unusual connections, such as “after I put on my shoes to leave the house, I’ll do one sit-up” or “after I’ve used the toilet, I’ll read one paragraph of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu”. The quirkiness could make it easier for you to remember to do your tiny habit.

Either way, the important factor is that your new habit comes after an existing and well-established action.

Further resources

BJ Foggs TEDxFremont-talk on Tiny habits

Tiny Habits – the website

BJ Foggs Behavior Model 

How I did it
When I first heard about tiny habits, I went overboard and wanted to change it all – and change it now! I was creating sequences for exercises, for drinking water, for taking my vitamins, for flossing a tooth, for tidying up my hot-spots. You name it, I tried it.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t go very well. There were simply too many new things for me to remember.

So I scaled back and settled on one thing: getting stronger in time for my new baby. And so I started doing push-ups against the kitchen counter after I had placed the moka a pot on the (I was eight months pregnant at the time, I wasn’t going to start doing push-ups on the floor.)

That baby is now a 15 months old toddler and I still use the time when the coffee is brewing to exercise. It is no longer purely countertop push-ups, but rather any type of strengthening exercise I can do in short burst. If the coffee is brewing, you will find me on the kitchen floor doing squats or lounges or hip-lifts or whatever.

The tiny habit has become a regular habit.

These tiny daily exercises haven’t transformed my body, mainly because I am not motivated by the changes in my physical appearance. But I feel stronger in my body, more prepared for the everyday challenges I’m faced with as a toddler mum. And my posture has improved.

Now I just need to get that flossing habit sorted …

Have you tried the tiny habits method? If not, which tiny habit would you implement if you were to try it?

What do you want in life?

What do you want in life?

Life is a one time journey, and yet som many of us settle for drifting through at random rather than mapping out the destinations we would like to see. And sure, it is sometimes fun to go on a whim. But wouldn’t it be nicer to be in charge, to steer your life in a direction that you have set, rather than being led by circumstances?

Do you have a clear grasp of what you want in life? Not just what you wish for, but what you truly want? Then you are ahead of most people.

Here’s a challenge: Before you read on, take a minute and write down 8-10 things you want in life that you don’t already have. This could be anything from a possession to an experience to a career goal or a relationship status.

It is easy to get your wishes and your wants confused. A wish is something that would nice to have, a fortunate situation, a daydream you don’t really see yourself fulfilling: I wish I had a million pounds. I wish I could loose weight. I wish I could be as famous. I wish I drove a Ferrari rathern than a Ford. A want, on the other hand, is more than a flimsy wish. It’s something you truly desire: I want to be a mother. I want to double my salary within the next five years. I want to loose ten kilos.

They look so similar,but unless you know the difference, you could easily spend years dreaming your life away. Luckily, there’s also a very simple method of discovering if what you are daydreaming of is a wish or a want. Just ask yourself this one single question: Am I willing to take action to make this come through? If your answer is no, then you know you are dealing with a wish and you should stop wasting more energy on it. But if you find yourself saying yes, then you can be sure this is something you really want – and it is time to take action.

Challenge update: Look over the list you made earlier and ask yourself the control question: Am I willing to take action to make this come through? How many of the items on your list did you answer yes to?

When you know what you really want in life, you have the advantage of being able to map out the road that will take you there. You won’t get confused by the mirages created by flimsy wishes, but you’ll be able to stay on the path you have decided upon.

Challenge update: Discard your no-items from your list and focus on your yes-items. What actions, small and large, would you need to take to achieve what you want? What action, even if it’s a tiny one, could you do today that would get you started? Got it? Great, now go do it!

5 ways to find time to study

5 ways to find time to study

You have probably heard all the sayings: Leaders are readers. Knowledge is power. The book you don’t read won’t help. And so on.

But you might find it hard to sit down to study after a hard day at work. Maybe you’ve had a long commute too. Maybe you have children in need of food an attention when you get home. There just don’t seem to be any time or energy left to read, study and work on your self-improvement.

At least there won’t be unless you make it a commitment and find ways of incorporating it into your daily life. Here are five ways of making sure you find time to study every single day.

1. Get up half an hour early.
Books have been written about the power of the early morning starts, and some advocate getting up at five in the morning to make the most of the day. However, unless you are already an early bird, I would not recommend that. Instead, set the alarm half an hour earlier than you usually do and spend those thirty minutes studying before the rest of your day start. Don’t be tempted to overstretch by setting the alarm an hour earlier. It takes time to change your body’s daily rythme. If you push yourself too much, you are more likely to give up.

2. Don’t waste your commute
Whether you’re walking, biking, driving or using public transport, make sure you utilize your time on the move to get ahead intellectually as well. Whichever aspect of your life you are trying to approve you are bound to find a podcast or audiobook on the subject. Set your own curriculum for the week each Sunday and dowload a few podcasts or audiobooks to listen to while commuting.

3. Feed your mind at lunch time
Take 15 minutes out of your lunch time to feed your mind as well as your body. You could watch a short TED-talk on your chosen subject while eating at your desk. Or if you need a proper break from the work space, take your lunch and a book to the nearest park and try to get through a chapter before going back to work. If your work consists of mundane tasks, you might find that your brain is processing the information you’ve study during lunch, making the rest of your day at work a little more interesting.

4. Excerise yourself smarter
Michael Hyatt, the CEO turned blogger, has written and talked about how he’s an avid reader, and yet he might not open an actual book for months. Instead he’ll get most of his reading done while running.
I am no runner, but I discovered podcasts and developed a love of walking at the same time. I realized that the only way I would get to listen to the podcasts I wanted, would be to carve out some time outside the house. And so I took up walking, and pretty soon I was taking 45 minutes walks at least five days a week. I’ve become healthier and more informed at the same time.

5. Call it me-time
If you find it hard to open that book you know you ought to read or get through that course you have signed up for, you might need to make a shift in your attitude. Reframe your study time from being a chore to being me-time. Block out half an hour each day that is dedicated to you and your improvement. A good time for this would be after work and the daily chores but before you sit down in front of the telly or collaps in bed. Make your self a non-coffeinated drink, find a quiet corner and get those books out, open that online video course or start listening to that audio book. This is your time, this is how you are going to become the person you know you want to be.

Remember, it’s not enough to want it. You have to do it as well. And it is the small, daily disciplines that will get you to where you want to be. Now go study!

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