Tuesday, Bluesday

IMGP4519Over the last couple months, I realized that Tuesday is the hardest day of the week for me to focus.

I used to think it was Monday that I dreaded. I muddled through Sunday night: I double-checked the upcoming family and work schedule, sorted through weekend emails, planned the week. But by Monday morning, I found I am often invigorated to start the work week. It’s usually filled with calls, meetings, travel, a few social gatherings.

Then Tuesday hits. Blah. I finally realized there was a negative Tuesday power in my routine. The work week isn’t half over, my energy is sapped. And why, why are there are more Tuesday problems than ANY other day in the week? That is my drag day, filling spare moments in the kitchen, longing to flatline that stress.

I decided–let’s change it! To conquer my Bluesday, I am going to try to change up how I approach that day. I am going to schedule time to work with a friend or at the library, meet someone for lunch, specifically work on a fun, new project, set aside time to write or take pictures, vary my exercise routine. Today’s visit to the dentist does not count.

Hopefully this positive attitude will spike the Tuesday mood, flow into Wednesday and the rest of the week. I think the key to successfully working solo most of the time is figuring the triggers to anti-productive, negative attitudes and behavior. Then change it.

What tricks do you have to break up the week?

The journey continues.

C

Perfect New York Visit

Hello, lonely blog.  Summer used to be a slow, lazy time for families. No more.  Between working overtime, kids choosing to continue sports camps, family obligations, volunteering, and blistering hot  weather, it feels only like a slow-motion of the school year.  Since we did not have a long summer trip planned, I took my girls with me to New York for a business trip and play weekend.  It was wonderful to spend time with them when there was no sports tournament, no college visits, no homework.

Here are 8 highlights (non-work-related) from our recent trip:

8. The only perfect-summer-weather for 6 consecutive days this year. Fantastic for walking the Highline or taking photos on the final day of the year to take pics between the buildings.

Sunset view in NYC

7. Friendly, sometimes unusual people sparking up conversations in taxis, hotels, shops, the park, coffee shops.

6. Eating a different ethnic food daily–Greek, Thai, Italian, Mexican. Some our own finds, some recommendations from friends.

5. Friends sharing our hotel for a night, with a day walking from Central Park to Rockefeller Plaza and beyond, sharing appetizers and drink at the lively Eataly before dinner.

Yummy fresh cheese, meats, fruits and wine at Eataly.

4. A day of sight seeing at Ellis Island, the Statue of Liberty, and WTC Memorial.  A ferry ride, lots of walking, a bit of learning, no teenage complaints.

3. Shopping, shopping, shopping at familiar stores, one-of-a-kind places, in So-Ho, Chelsea, Times Square, Fifth Ave and everywhere in between.

2. Seeing the fantastic Tony-award winning play “Once” on Broadway , then watching the girls’ faces as we exited the theatre, walking into Times Square the first time nearing midnight.  The masses, the lights, the chaos.  Then seeing Steve Kazee, the “Once” lead several days later by the theater, chatting and taking photos with him.

1. Spending unhurried, explorative days with my two daughters in such a phenomenal city as New York.  It’s a trip we will always remember taking together.  one day off work felt a week to me.  C

Building Core Strengths

Tipping over in tree pose this week, I was again reminded how important core strength is.  Standing, for this yoga move I can place one leg up onto my other inner thigh, but lifting my arms or holding them out to the sides challenges me each time I try it.  I wobble, I rock, I slip.

I need to re-build my abdominal strength (after several months of doctor-required rest) so that I can hold this pose successfully without shaking.  And with a stronger core I will be able to attempt moves that remain in my past.

The same is true for starting to ride horses after a 5-month forced sabbatical.  I warm up longer, re-learn the muscle memory, slowly leave my comfort zone as my body becomes stronger, leaner.

The core.  The center. We all need to keep our cores strong, as positive energy and actions build and emanate from our core.

I think this is also true in our personal and business lives.  Running my own business, I have a set of core strengths, learned from consulting in media firms for almost 15 years.  But as technology has transformed the publishing industry (like most others), my projects have morphed, roles changed, involvement growing in newly developed areas.

While I continue to use the talents developed over the years, I continue to expand my strengths. I have stayed abreast with the industry changes—many coming from social media and new mobile apps—so that I can broaden my work into other industries.

If I don’t keep learning, pushing myself, I become weak, bored, complacent.  And that will not help me or my clients test new arenas, find unexpected successes, as we keep up with changing business times.

Yes, it can be intimidating, sometimes frustrating, building my core strengths—both mental and physical– to reach a new client, to attempt a handstand, to jump a short course.  But by working slowly, patiently, and celebrating the small successes, hopefully all of these will be attainable.  The reach is what keeps life engaging.  C

The Social Media Vortex

Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Instagram. WordPress. Pinterest.  So many brands of social media—and all created for different uses–it’s getting complicated to manage them all.  Post a picture-a word-a story,  then check back later to see who comments, who reads, who “likes”.   Respond.  Check out what other influencers, friends, family, curiosity seekers have to say right now.

I joined some social media sites for “market research”, to learn the who-what-why-how people use them. Twitter was my latest endeavor, and within 24 hours I learned firsthand the power of social media, when an airline changed my seats based on what I tweeted.

The social media sites can draw you in, then steal your time as you visit other sites in addition to keeping yours current. I have already seen how Twitter and Instagram have taken time from my blog, as I haven’t written a blog post in over a week. I feel like the blog is less fleeting than the Instagram or Twitter posts, so it is time to get back to it.  And it helps me explore my thoughts in word.

As I wander around the “popular” pics on Instagram, it intrigues why people BEG, borrow, and comment to capture and hoard as many followers as they can.  People ask others to “like” their pics and promise to follow them, pictures unseen.

What does the person get with the most followers?  Businesses, can accomplish goals of more revenue, more exposure, new clients. But I see people on Facebook who comment on pictures  and “like” pictures  where someone says “want 2000 more friends?  Like my post.”  Or people on Instagram with 30,000 followers—who post unoriginal, blah pictures. (though a few inspired me enough to follow them). Does it make you “popular” in your mind?

But, this journey takes me to unexpected places and introduces me to new people and concepts, so I will keep each path and door open. I welcome you to join me as I explore these various social media at

Twitter: @CindyCardinal1

Instagram: haveanopinion

WordPress:  https://haveanopinion.wordpress.com/

LinkedIn: Cindy Cardinal

And next month, welcome to Pinterest.  I have an idea that Pinterest is like Alice falling into the proverbial rabbit hole.  Easy to get lost, lots of unexpected surprises.  So if you do not hear from me for while, check out the pinboards.

I just read an article in Folio: magazine about how Time Inc and Meredith Publishing are using Pinterest to build their subscriber bases for the women’s magazine market, but time will tell if this platform can help more specialized, business journals.  Time and experimentation will tell.  C

Purging House and Office

This year I dug deep to prepare for the neighborhood garage sale.  Not an annual participant, we had done some remodeling so there is much to purge this year—furniture, linens, lamps, grandma’s clutter from forgotten drawers, scads of stuffed animals (though the girls found some of their old treasured friends too), dusty books, unused sports’ gear, mismatched kitchenware.  It feels great to lighten the load, then hopefully end up with a couple dollars for each of us, donating the remnants.

I think it’s time to do the same swap out, clean up for my business.  After 20+ years of doing similar work, including consulting for 14 years, I have been itching, wanting to change up my job, my clients, my days.  My weekends are incredibly full, but by Sunday night the Monday-morning-blues are already invading my brain.  Not the way to run a business.

Most of my clients are innovative, smart people who run their own publishing/media firms, and I have grabbed wisdom and insights from each of them.  While I have my own firm, watching these leaders makes me covet owning something tangible of my own.  I am so fortunate to have worked with some incredible people,  as their businesses grow, products morphing as the times change.

I have consciously lightened the client load this year, and the freedom has allowed me to delve deeper into my current clients’ projects.  It has also given me a smidge of time to re-evaluate my work process, the projects I enjoy most, and what work I can outsource to others.  It’s been rewarding, it’s been exciting, it’s been frustrating, and it’s made me think—it’s time to make some more changes.  Purge the clutter, invite the new, embrace the changes, overcome the fear of branching out. It will take time to implement new changes and ideas, but with some time, planning and hard work it will hopefully happen.

It’s my business.  I think that anyone who has their own business should find it inspiring, play to their strengths, remove the dust, keep it fresh. Doing the same for too long causes complacency.  C

 

Shutting off the Email

People can wait.  The beep of the email arrival doesn’t mean that every message deserves equal, critical attention the moment it hits the in-box.

For years, I tried to answer emails as they came in.  The ding in the in-box was like the proverbial snap of the finger—read me now!  Give me your attention! This certainly did not allow me to focus on what I was working on. Then I realized that people began expecting immediate answers, day and night.

Over the past couple years,  I made a conscious effort to not answer emails right away.  More recently, I have taken the more drastic step of completely shutting down email for an hour or two each day, allowing me to focus on the project in front of me.   Sometimes I do this a couple times a day, and I have found that my productivity has increased dramatically, my work quality has improved, I am less stressed about the in-box to-do list, and not one person has complained about me responding to an email in a few hours rather than a few minutes.

I have the freedom of mainly working from home, juggling several clients.  With a lack of face-to-face meetings, I think it was easy to get into long-term email conversations.  But our in-boxes have been overloaded.  People cover-their-asses by copying everyone on group emails, then replying to everyone, and so on and so on, exacerbating the email glut.

So I am not only emailing less, I am using the phone more.  It is so easy to misconstrue ideas in an email. Talking through a large project, timelines, or  resolving a problem can oftentimes be resolved quicker in a call than 57 emails, with less room for disconnect between the parties involved.

Email is still a great tool I use through the workday.  But it can distract, overload, confuse.  And it doesn’t take place of the human voice, the handshake, the conversation, the doodles that can help provide a solution, inspire our creativity, keep us on task with goals, and simply add back the human element back into our workdays.  C

Changing Expectations

Over the past few months I have found myself changing my expectations for many people around me–my clients, my vendors, my friends, my kids, my spouse, my siblings.  I think we have some expectations ground into us when we are young, from what our parents taught us.  Then life experiences, a recession, and watching others around us moderates our long-term thoughts.

From work, I expect to slave many hours per day at my computer, on the phone, in meetings.  And for those extra hours I will get more demands from clients, tighter deadlines, project piling on until I learned to say NO!, an occasional thank you. Vendors are working harder to keep up with rapid technology changes, the same tight deadlines, and the new products reaching across departmental lines.

I have learned to lower my expectations of my children’s grades, especially when they are viewable daily online. A recent conversation made me realize I was striving for unattainable perfection in them.  I will accept the reality that my kids are putting in extra effort, some subjects are easier for them to comprehend, and some interest them more than others.

As they get old enough to choose their electives for next year, they need to select ones that interest them, so they can start to form their own future paths, with some open conversations about where that path might lead. Outside of school, I expect that they will make mistakes, hopefully not repeat them.

I have been married over twenty years, with many of the “normal” events of marriage shaping the adults we have become–moves, children, illness, job changes, pets, new hobbies,old hobbies, loss of friends and family, illness, planting a garden, choosing paint colors, buying a new car-a sofa-toilet paper, vacations, volunteering.

Sometimes I have absolutely no expectations, making it easy for Bob to succeed.  And sometimes the everyday distractions make it possible for us to succeed together.  Ever make a to-do list that’s impossible to complete in one day? One week?  A lifetime? A marriage to-do list never ends.  And to set sky-high expectations will only doom it daily.

From my friends I have learned to accept their offerings–a meal, a smile, a text, a phone call, a gift, a flower, a joke, a card–with grace and gratitude.

And from myself, as my abilities to do much have diminished since surgery, I have lowered my expectations for myself.  I have raised the expectations for my family to contribute more with the house cleaning, the shopping, the cooking, the laundry, the dogs.  Being forbidden to lift more than 10 lobs for a full 12 weeks has certainly reshaped my reality.

And tonight, my expectations for this blog post have dropped dramatically from what I envisioned while walking to what I have typed into this computer.

C

PS.  The morning after addendum on 1/12/11 is that I realize that this list of expectations could be much longer.  I have left off a myriad of people/organizations we have expectations for, who may or may not live up to them:  the President, local politicians, the mail lady, the next U2 concert I attend, the grocery store clerks, bus drivers,  the next episode of “Top Chef”.   The list goes on.