About habits

The problem: Unwanted habits are to be changed which often turns out to be a very long and stony way.
As the new year is coming near at a lot of places I read about new years resolutions and habit changes. I don't want to write about new years resolutions because (not only) in my opinion changes are not only to be performed when the year in the date changes. There are a lot of opportunities and as it usually takes a long time and mostly also several attempts to change a habit it is not clever to limit personal improvement to happen only once in a year.

Reading lifehack and other blogs you can read several hints on how to change habits and for example you can read that it takes approximately a month to change a habit. I found several very useful posts out there but while collecting them I recognized that I very seldom thought of changing a particular habit. So I began to think why.

The reason: Habits are often only the visible side effects of the philosophies you are living.
You do live habits not because they happened to you as an accident. You live them because of "good" reasons according to your life experiences - or shocks respectively. As I wrote in "Find the root problem" several different personal (development) problems often have some common "parent problem". And so in my opinion a habit is just a leaf at the tree of problems.

The solution: Change your way of thinking and your philosophy.
First identify the reasons why you are running into the same habits again and again. The reason is usually not just a trigger, but your view of the world and the way you are interpreting your experiences with people and several event types occurring in your life. Reflecting your view of the world and the philosophies your are living and changing the general intentions will remove a lot of unwanted habits automatically, at once and without further big effort - and that is the advantage of grabbing problems at the root.

To give an example: There might be several reasons why you may not be able to communicate with people you do not know well. There might be several fears that prevent you from speaking free out what you want. There might be the fear of making a bad first impression or the fear of getting hurt by sarcastic responses. A root problem perhaps is a big dependency of foreign affirmation. There can be a lot of such discouragements that prevent you from starting a communication. Liberating yourself from this dependency can resolve communication problems automatically because you withdraw the culture medium of the problems arising because of such a basic dependency or fear.

Related post: Primary motivator.

The things in your jacket

Ever returned because you forgot your wallet, your mobile phone, tissues - or perhaps either the keys because they were just in the other jacket? - To me this happened often.

I used to use the same jacket the whole week and then when by accident or because of a little temperature change I changed the jacket and then I was not used to check all pockets and move the things to the other jacket.

What I did to solve this issue: I changed the jacket every day for a week or so and so I got used to check the pockets every day. No it got a new habit for me to check all things if they are in their pockets. A few hints regarding all those little things you have to carry with you:
  • When buying a jacket try out loading it with all the things you need to carry with you so you are sure you get a good, practical jacket.
  • In each jacket each thing should have its fixed pocket. Newer jackets for example all have a separate pocket dedicated for the mobile phone. I have a jacket where the pockets are either labeled with a picture for mobile phone, wallet, glasses and so on.
  • Learn all the things by heart that you have to carry with you.
  • Have a place outside jackets for all your things. Maybe a drawer or so where you can put all the things for example when you unload a jacket completely before loading another.


Many hands

Today I had a very good experience while hosting a family guest now for a few days. She gives us a great helping hand and I have seen the benefit of additional two hands in household and occupying of our baby.

Things can be a lot more efficient if more people help together.

Try it doing things alone and with more people together and you will see how inefficient it is working anyone alone on his own. Nowadays unfortunately it often happens that people are concentrated on their own and and see others more as enemies than potential friends.

Give it a try and group together to achieve more in less time. Another hand - quicker end.

Related posts: The family.

Hands free

A common mistake I often did is the following:

While trying to do a lot of things I often had a lot of things in hands while leaving the apartment, porting things upstairs from the car and so on. Often I did not want to go a second time the way from the car to the apartment and therefore I tried to pack everything on me. This often lead to the problem that things fall down while trying to open doors for example and either sometimes I have to pay attention not to throw the keys together with the waste into the container.

Another big disadvantage is that it gets heavy to carry all the things and you get cramped. So bad thing for your backbone.

Since a few days I definitely try to put everything away - for example:
  • I pack everything into bags and not carry every piece freely. So I have one or a few bags to carry instead of a tower of single pieces.
  • I put the keys in my jacket to have the hands free for the bags to carry.
  • I do not try to carry too many things at once because I move a lot slower and it takes a lot longer to open doors (especially when locked) so the time gained going only once is lost during the difficulties because you have no hand free to open doors or because you have to move slower.
Another sample I practiced already before it got a law in our country: Use a headset on the mobile phone while driving. I still see - although it is forbidden now - a lot of people holding the mobile phone in one hand while driving. It is a lot more comfortable using the headset that I would never miss it again.

So get your hands free!

About Religions

The problem: A lot of conflicts and even wars happen having the religion as a main trigger.
In the history a lot of wars were fought in the name of god and faith. And this although they are all talking about peace and charity.

The reason: There are multiple reasons causing wrong usage of religions.
  • There are a few people misunderstanding the religion they practice.
    In addition to that some are misusing and manipulating the faith of other people practicing the same religion.
  • People are uncertain about themselves and other religions cause anxiety to them.
    This mostly leads to arguing about other religions trying to decry them.
  • People are too certain about themselves and therefore only their way must be the correct one.
    They forget that different people need different medicines for healing their different illnesses. This does not mean that the final goal is the same for everybody - personal happiness.

The solution: We must understand that the intention of the religions are all the same: They are systems of rules and world-view to assist people living together in peace to support the surviving.
Single individuals are in the very most cases not able to live independently from other people. We all depend from other people supporting us with clothes, food and so on. The conjunction let us understand that if other people stay well and be happy will have affect also on our own happiness.
We should respect the fact that different ways may lead to the same final destination - a world full of peace and love. We should therefore pay respect to all religions. You should accept that the religion you practice is not the only possible way and there are different interpretations. Even people not practicing any religion may follow similar rules or at least have the same intention of living together in peace and love with the others - and maybe those people have chosen to practice none of the religions only because they would have liked to join all of them...

When you go to a land or location where other religions are practiced then treat them with respect. Maybe it is not doing harm to you trying one or the other practice of that religion. Celebrating with others improves the understanding the others but does not mean that you cannot have your own view of the world. It is a matter of respect and empathy.


LTO - Letting things open

The problem: You hurry to finish all uncompleted work to have your mind free but this never happens.
To get your mind free of all the things that need to be done usually the best choice is to finish as much as possible. When everything is done one can enjoy the spare time a lot better. Unfortunately we often do feel bad because our mind is full of tasks that need to be completed. GTD - Getting things done is our focus but as soon as our inbox is empty it gets refilled.

The reason: We learned that first the work and then the fun.
Be got taught that first the work must be finished until we can - or let's say - until we have the permission to focus on our hobbies and the other things we enjoy more. Therefore we try to get our work done. This may work for a child having only the homework to be done. As growing up the to-do lists get more and never empty.

The solution: LTO - Let things open - or - LTF - Let things flow
Accept that life is full of open issues. Focus on the important ones that definitely needs to be addressed. But more important: Get yourself some timeout - some time and location to relax - even if there is not everything solved. In your life there will always remain some open issues for the next day, for the next week, for the next month or at least for the next year. Accept it and remember: You may be happy even if there is not all done.

Related post: All Done Status.


An eye for an eye

Marco posted a video with war pictures on his blog. At the end there is fading in a quote from Mahatma Ghandi:
An eye for an eye will make us all blind.
I recall now the audio book I am currently listening when driving by car where the Dalai Lama puts emphasis on the importance to see every creature as an individual very similar to ourselves with the same desire to be happy and avoid suffering.

He states that sometimes it is necessary to use forces to avoid bigger suffering but it is very important to use the forces only against violent actions and never against the creature in general.

Creatures may be disoriented and several occurrences may have caused unhealthy actions. But everyone has the potential to change and we should try to contribute so that positive intentions can grow.

Hate and anger usually aims at a person and not at an unwanted action. The harm and injury we cause on the person will produce desire of revenge and again hate as well as anger. We should stop with hate and anger and clear our spirit. And we should look at and judge actions and not whole persons.

Related posts: How to be happy, When to criticize, The power of intention, Ethic economy, Importance of collaboration. Stop war by stopping defense, Dissolved aggressiveness, Best defense, The resource problem.


Blog post lengths or how to write

Now and then I read blog posts or discussions about the right length of a blog post. Some say that the correct length is about 300 to 470 words other ones tell such numbers depend on the blog general focus (news vs how-to-blog for example).

I cannot understand these discussions. In my opinion a blog post is like every other documentation. News is documentation and a project concept is also documentation. Sure, that depending on the character or type of the documentation there may be a tendency of shorter or longer size.

As many others I got taught in school often for specific home- or teamworks that those documents must be at least n words. Although the basic reason might have been to develop the skill of writing in many cases it caused me to let flow the creativity and inventing sentences that filled up the sheet.

It is a lot more difficult to collect more knowledge and write that information in a compact but still good understandable form. Because of plenty sentences added to text unnecessarily there come up needs of fast reading techniques eliminating the "polystyrene" in text.

A news article, project documentation, blog post or whatever piece of written text should be no more and no less than necessary to transfer the knowledge or the intended condition of the spirit. So don't intend to produce a certain length of text. Focus on the main intention of the text and write as much as needed to achieve that - no more, no less.

Certainly this is not an easy job and actually I am not sure if I got it right. ;-)

Related posts: How many posts must I write?
, Tell not more and not less.


Social constraints

Not all friends create an environment in which you feel free of social constraints.

Watch out for the people who do not have big expectations and judge everything do say and do - watch out for the people who are interested and open minded, humble, ready to experience something new and have fun with it.

World is complicated enough and hanging around with people that make it even more complicated is double taxation.


Productivity and fun

Are you are productivity freak?

While in the process of optimizing performance and cutting down all unnecessary actions I found out that certain distractions and chats with colleagues - and also with the boss - are important to keep the fun and good climate although the particular topics do not seem to improve productivity.

Analyzing, I found an assumption I made: Knowing well what are useful actions to improve productivity and what not.

But in the real what is important for productivity in long term view is not always easy to know.

The factors that optimize the overall productivity might not be always that easy to measure.

So while optimizing productivity keep the following in mind:
There might be several elements at work or in your private life that do not seem to be a contribution or even seem to be useless distraction but when cutting them off in the long term you and your colleagues loose motivation and power.

It is important to do things "just for fun" because although the particular sense and benefit cannot be seen immediately it does not mean that there is no.

Fun affects motivation, climate, communication and creativity so it affects also productivity. But when you think only the productivity aspect you loose the fun. It's like not seeing the forest because getting distracted by looking at so many trees.

There must be space and time for fun - at work and at home - to keep the long term overall productivity.


Imagine the missing

The problem: Someone is gone and you suddenly can see the true values of that person.
We usually do criticize more than we esteem. And we often do contribute more to putting people off than motivating them. Only when they are gone we find more good characteristics then ever before.

The reason: The persons we see nearly every day or at least very often we do forget their transiency.
We tend to assume that people entering our life frequently will be there forever and even if not very comprehensible we do appreciate them less as "normal" they get for us. The negative effect that might occur then is reduced motivation and a reduced climate in the relationships to other people.

The solution: Imagine the missing of those people around you and get aware that it is not "normal".
Try to meet people each day for new appreciating their contributions to your work or life and thank them for their contribution and being. Get aware of the value they are for you and contribute to a good climate and motivation to be value for them also.


Positivity barricades

The problem: You think you should be a more positive person but somehow you can't.
On personal development blogs (one of my favorites in this area is "The Positivity Blog" at http://www.positivityblog.com) I read a lot of calls to be more positive. You can read there a lot about reasons and advantages for being more positive. However, when trying to think positive something is hitting the brakes. Thoughts like the following come up:
  • Thinking positive is not being realistic
  • Thinking positive is to blandish the world although there is so much pain
  • Thinking positive stops the motivation for improvement as everything will seem ok.
  • ...

The reason: Being positive is behaviour and action but not a view limited to positive aspects.
Negative persons are usually driven by
  • Negative interpretations of everything around them
  • Negative expectations for the future
  • Negative recalls of the past
So the problem is that even the negative person is not realistic and realizing only a part of the world's properties.

The solution: For being positive focus on your being and not on your view of the world.
Being positive means to trust in your power to
  • improve the things around you
  • love yourself and other people
  • accept with gratitude what life brings to you
It does not mean to see only the positive aspects of life but to see them also.
But stick to the facts!
  • Drop interpretations
  • Drop expectations
If you see somebody smiling in your direction being negative may cause the interpretation that it is not you the person is smiling at (but somebody behind you). Being positive gives you the possibility to verify or/and smile anyway. It does not mean that you should expect that the person fell in love with you. ;-)

Related posts: How to be happy, When to criticize, Success with optimism AND pessimism, The power of intention, Optimist meeting pessimist.


Let 'em wait

The problem: A lot of people come to ask you although not necessary.
A problem that usually only a few people in a company have - but these few know it very well: They are known to have good knowledge in a lot of areas or have good knowledge about the company and it's organization or environment. And so they get asked often and therefore get interrupted very often in their main work.

What often surprises most is that a lot of answers could have been easily found online (Google, Wikipedia, company intranet sites, e-mail inboxes or archives and so on).

The reason: You are the most efficient way to solve their problems.
When they lookup the information somewhere else they have to think more and it takes longer. And maybe they at first have to think first where to lookup (first). As they usually know already your phone extension or have their chair next to you it is the easiest, fastest, most efficient - and maybe also most reliable way to ask you.

Although this might be part of your daily job and might be a good motivation being such an esteemed person it may grow to a level where you cannot do your main job efficiently because you have too many other "little problems" to solve or "little questions" to answer.

The solution: Let them wait.
If you let them wait a little for answers you are not the most efficient way for those little questions and problems that interrupt you more often. When they have to wait they will maybe "in the meantime" get an idea where to look up the information themselves getting there solution faster. - And the problem get solved without you.

If there are questions coming often not so easy to look up for them then write a documentation and publish it (on the internet or intranet or some whereever your company usually stores such information). When these questions come again you simply tell them to look it up. If your standard answer is "Look it up in our repository" it is even less attractive for them to call you because they could have looked up immediately without calling you.

Related post: How to rebuff somebody.


The highlander

The problem: You hand over a task or job to your team, to your employees and later you find out that nobody cared.
When appealing for something to be done too often nobody feels to act upon. Your team is simply ignoring your calls for action.

The reason: You did not define a responsible person.
Shared responsibility is the problem. If more than one person are called for responsibility regarding an issue each of them feels the security that there are coworkers who also think about the issue and now or then nobody will take action.

The solution: Define a single responsible person and define well the issue.
It is important that only a single person is responsible for a specific realm, project (or part of it) that can be clearly confined. There can only be one - like the story with the highlanders. There will be one or none responsible.


Focus on strengths

In the last time I read often that one should focus on his strengths.
But when I look back at my life the I focused also a lot on my weaknesses.

I can see two tendencies which vary in the value:
  1. Specialization
  2. Broadening
While specializing I focused on my strengths and while broadening I focused on my weaknesses.

When you find out your strengths or develop them motivation is around you while doing that what you are interested in. But as much as you focus on very special parts of life you are missing to develop other things that are important for being a person of integrity. There are many aspects of life which have to be mastered to live in peace and without fears.

To give an example: For years I focused mostly on computers not developing social and communication skills. Only after experiencing more and more problems in my daily life I began to focus on these missing skills and tried to develop them.

Sometimes in life you feel good. You are willing and full of power to collect a big amount of knowledge and/or producing something great. On the other hand there are phases where things do not run so well and these are the times to learn some lesson from your mistakes or erase some weakness.

When we are down and maybe even depressive all the people around us try to tell us to look at the good and positive but in my opinion especially when we are down we should focus our power to erase the weaknesses and overcome the hurdles in our life! Because they are the reason why we are down and do not have success!

Seems paradox but looking back in my life I always did it that way. When I didn't achieve my goals I tried to find out the reasons for my failure and I found a lot. And guess what: Breaking the own barriers is one of the greatest success and produces motivation immediately!


Change the environment

The problem: You try to concentrate and to focus but it's the others that don't let you.
One should first assume that not the environment or the other people around are guilty for the own incapacity of solving problems. But there is suffering in the world and there is unhealthy environment, that's fact.

I have seen a lot of people running away from their problems - escaping from a working place to escape responsibility or from annoyance. I know very well that all this does not solve problems. Problems must be really solved otherwise they are likely to appear wherever you go.

The reason: Knowing that an escape does not really solve a problem may cause the habit to be static in solving problems.
Whenever I recognize a problem I do want to solve it where it occurs and where I am. Changing location means escaping the problem, isn't it? - Not necessarily:
  • Would a doctor operate the patient on a rowing boat at rough sea?
  • Does it make sense to paint a house when it's raining?
  • Is it a good idea trying to get sleep on the highway?
  • Would a genius place a house on sand?
  • Would you find it useful searching mushrooms in the desert?
  • Does it improves quality when you work at a very noise place?
Location matters! There might be emergency situations in which you do not have another choice and for the training it might be good to try the extreme situation to improve skills. But if obstructive environments get common then quality of the outcome and the motivation will decrease.

It is good when you can work in noise environment because such a skill can help you when good concentration is needed but you find yourself in a noisy situation without the influence to change.

The solution: Change the location, change the environment!
As you will get candles for a romantic dinner, get the tools that you need to have an optimum environment where you can produce good work. And move on - change the location if it's not adequate for the work you want to get done. You are not nailed to the floor you can move on. If you can't adjust the environment (or if advising the other people around you does work respectively) then change it completely. A good environment will reduce your stress and improve the outcome and therefore rise motivation.

Related post: When changing the environment does not help.

Compact communication

Lately I read on a blog the rules for people who want to contribute with articles. I read there a rule that an article must be at least n words. I remembered accidentally my time in school where such rules for homework and reports were given often.

While I find such things useful if the intention is that somebody learns to write or learns the language on the other hand when the intention is to transfer information I would really prefer if the writer is able to pack his message into fewer words.

A lot of time is lost while talking long before getting to the point - often because people do construct their primary messages only while talking or writing about. - We should think before and then point out the message in a compact form. It's like getting to focus.

And there is another advantage: When you talk to people they can only remember a few things of what you said. So tell them less saying more, nobody has time to waste!


New world in the morning

"New world in the morning" - so they say. Although maybe invented to give new hope every day I take it as a reminder to see everything in new lights finding maybe a new unconventional solution for a problem.

Unfortunately so often we are so sure to already know the things and people, their purpose, their intention and the way how they work. But do we know things and people only because we have already seen them a hundred times?

By no means! We don't know and we assume that things and people around us do not change. Everything around us is subject to change. So we should at least start the new day by looking around with some curiosity for the new and giving a chance to some new solution attempt.

But it's not only new world in the morning - it's also new world at noon or in the evening.

New world in the morning, that's the day!


Value of life

Since I experienced the birth of a baby and the intensive and necessary effort to support a new life in the basic needs and when I imagine future necessary effort, I see all this effort when looking at other persons also.

So many things that can go wrong and cause suffering to children and people - so it seems to be a wonder when I meet nice people.

When meeting people, remember that their life is at least as hard as yours and value their efforts and attempts of getting out of their troubles!


Value of dreams and how to use them

Dreams are a good help for your personal development because they are the way to let your subconscious mind communicate with your consciousness. And your subconscious mind has a somehow "better overview". Dreams assist you in finding solutions for a wide range of problems.

Here are the important things when dealing with dreams:
  • You can influence the "issue" you want to dream a solution for by thinking about the particular problem before going to sleep, naming the problem and requesting for help from your subconscious mind.

    The actual dream might cover a related or more general problem - so be aware of that.

  • When you wake up, immediately try to remember and re-live your dream - and maybe write it down immediately. Because otherwise you will forget the dream very soon.

  • Most things you see in your dream are symbols.
    Remember that all the things are symbols according to your live experiences and recordings so don't use a classic book to interpret the things you've seen in your dream. Only, if you cannot get any idea, maybe such books can help a little, but usually the things are your personal symbols. People you see may stand for specific values, like friendship, egoism, passion and so on. Same applies for locations.

  • Think of your feelings you had in certain situations and name them.
    Feelings and emotions are very important and you should recall the feelings you had while dreaming.

  • Think of a possible message of the dream and get formed an appropriate sentence.
    The dream wants to show you a complete new view and/or wants to point you into a complete new direction.
Dreams can be a great help and boost your creativity - so appreciate their value!


Network planning

The problem: You are well planning your time but you still get a lot of unexpected work.
I imagine you are scheduling all your to dos in your calendar to ensure that you do not plan for more time than available. I further imagine you save some extra time for unexpected problems in your tasks and that you are using the 60 % rule (planning only 60 % of available time to have rest for unexpected interruptions). But it happens that you get a lot of unexpected additional work so you have already reduced to plan only 50 %. Should you plan only - let's say 10 % of your time keeping the rest for the unexpected? - A clear "No" - this is the argument of all people who are against time planning. They say that everything is unexpected so you can't plan.

The reason: You are not alone - your planning depends on others planning!
Only a few tasks depend on you only so you can plan them as you want. For most tasks you require the cooperation of others. If your customers are acting in an unexpected way then you will be affected by their behaviour.

The solution: Get the others in the boat of proper time management!
Teach others about time management and plan with them. Ask them in advance what they want to achieve in the next year, in the next quarter and in the next month. - If you ask them in time to find out what they are going to do in the (near) future that might affect your own work and planning then you can save a time slice for them. Asking others for their plans and talking about their long-term desires you can get them to planning even if they never did before.

Planning does not bring only the advantage of getting an adequate amount of time - you have the possibility to split the issue in a "thinking about phase" and an "implementation phase" getting a better quality of the final solution.

Some people are more resistant against planning. They always have excuses why they can't tell you things in time and always know reasons why they can't plan. The only way to get them into the boat is to let them wait! They will find out that they will get served earlier and with better quality when they get to you in time.


Who? When? For whom?

When something is to be done, there are three central questions I got from a presentation done by Viktor Frankl many years ago. I sometimes remember them and then find them very useful:
  1. Who should do it?
    Should you do it? If you will not do it, who should it?

  2. When should it be done?
    If you will not do it now, when will you do it?

  3. For whom should it be done?
    If you do things only for yourself, who are you then?
Related post: The main purpose.


Focus by direction

The problem: You have difficulties identifying your personal goals.
Life hacking blogs and coaches often mention that it is important to define the personal goals. Defining goals makes it easier to find the proper priorities and focus on the things and actions that bring you forward to your goals. They say, you need concrete goals also to know when you have achieved them. But some people have difficulties in finding and defining personal goals.

The reason: Not always in your life you can have a clear vision of your future.
Not in every stages of your life you can know what your goals are. There are periods in which bigger changes are in view and you cannot yet know the effects in detail (eg change of your working place, marriage, birth of a child, ...). At certain points in your life you can only do approximately plans. Depending on your general life style and profession you are probably more often facing uncertain future. In my profession for example - the IT - things change so fast that it is very difficult for me to define particular clear long term goals. I could define very concrete goals but it would necessarily lead to the demand of changing the goal more often. In certain situations when thinking that defining a goal is necessary I produce more troubles for myself as I would without such a definition.

The solution: Choose a direction to get focus.
If you cannot find a proper particular goal you feel comfortable with then consider choosing a direction only being sufficient for your needs. It is not always necessary to know your goals very concrete and in detail - quite the contrary - it sometimes is even counter productive to have a too clear picture of a desired situation. It might produce suffering if the goal seems to be not reachable or if you discover - once arrived - that you are not as content as you expected. You might discover that all the effort and the privations were not worth it. Take into consideration that you may find out - while on the way to your destination - that you would be happier with a slightly changed goal arriving somewhere in the area of your original goal but not exactly where you have planned to arrive. Starting with a direction is better than starting with nothing. It might cause the focus that is sufficient separating the important from the irrelevant things. Getting nearer and clearer there will be time to specify the goals more detailed.

Related posts: Focus by decision, Direction over goals, Principles over rules, Razor sharp focus, New year decisions, The golden rule.


Unwanted creativity

The problem: Missunderstandings during communication.
Ever got upset because you missunderstood your colleague or client and hence solved an issue in a wrong way - or solved a completely different issue?

The reason: Few analysis and too much creativity.
When we hear or read things we automatically do add our own thoughts and those get mixed with the words of those talking to you. At the end there are a lot of things you got from the communication that were added by yourself. A big amount of these additional thought are assumptions about present situation and desires and goals of your communication partner.

The solution: Remember the facts.
Concentrate on the facts during the communcation. Your own emotions, interpretations and thoughts are basically "first impressions". Don't make them "first reactions" without reviewing the situation, the facts and evaluation of the best reaction. Especially when you have to write protocols or project documentations it is very important that you drop all unproved assumptions.

Related post: Transferable Know-How.


The two steps solving a problem

  1. Getting aware of the problem and solve it in your spirit.
    This is important because your behaviour, your habits will not change as long as you are not convinced about their misfit and as long you did not choose to go a different way behaving in a specific other manner.

  2. Practice your new way.
    For a long time I did not see the importance of the second step. I always thought that as soon as I am convinced of doing something differently it will change without further effort. Although that sometimes was really enough, in a lot of cases it did not really work or at least took a very long time until my new spirit was put into practice.

    Why to change is sometimes so hard is because our old behaviours are sitting so deep in our kernel and was usually practiced a really long time and so it is hard to get out what is not our spirit any more.


Being positive

I read a lot about the importance of being positive, develop positive views and positive thoughts.

Although I really think that it is important to think in a constructive way I am not avoiding the negative.

There are real problems and if you see unhealthy things happening then do not close your eyes.

Being positive for me is the willing and believe that everything could be turned into good, being happy about the success already accomplished and the energy to create more positive aspects and situations.

Related post: How to be happy.


There is suffering

The problem: Life is full of suffering
There is suffering you cannot prevent from. Illness is suffering, old age is suffering, death is suffering.

The reason: Desire (greed respectively), attachment and missing knowledge are the major reasons for suffering!

The solution: Let it go, let it flow, be open!To finish your suffering ask yourself what you desire and what you are attaching to. Getting rid of your greed and your attachment to everything means getting rid of your suffering. Steps to get rid of your greed and attachment:
  1. When you feel suffering get aware of your feeling and of your desire and attachment in it,
  2. name your feeling, your desire and attachment to get a more concrete picture of your actual status, situation and the manifestation of greed and attachment,
  3. accept it but not stick to it and
  4. put it aside gently.
Emotions are not strictly part of yourself - of your spirit. They are just like sun and rain - they come and go.

Things are not good or bad in general - things are just as they seem to you right now - to you personally just at the moment. There is not general good or bad only just for each of us healthy and unhealthy at the moment. Things are full of possible attributes showing only some aspects to you or others at the moment. You are free to interpret things in a way you like.

A word to emptiness: Some people are afraid of threatening emptiness. Every creative thought comes out of emptiness. Only if you are free of restricting thoughts you are able to unfold healthy power. Only when you eliminate disturbing thoughts you can get a clean picture of the present and act accordingly. Eliminating disturbing thoughts does not bring emptiness it opens the door for what is now.

Related posts: The most important things to know, The present moment, The main purpose, Weird symbols, Being like a child, Needs and meaning, 6 Triggers of bad action, What remains, The fool gives way without borders.


Where do you go

The problem: You leave home, office or other place for going to another and half the way you find out that you forgot an important thing.
Today it happened to us that we went to look for a new kitchen but we forgot the plan at home where all the measurements were written. So we had to turn back. The worst: We definitely had to hurry up and so we left the apartment very fast - but without the important thing.

The reason: Insufficient awareness of the place where we are and where we go and missing awareness of the intention we have.
Often we focus on the time running fast and so we try to be very fast. So the focus is on getting away fast. But the higher priority must be given to the task to think about the required things to carry with us and fetch them.

The solution: Improve your awareness to have present your locations and do planning
  • Before leaving a place tell yourself in a sentence where you are and get aware of yourself and the environment you are in.
  • Think about your destination and the intention what you want to do - what you do want to achieve.
  • Think of the things that might serve you at your destination and fetch them - before you think about to leave your current location!
  • Think of the way how you are going to get at your destination location. - Maybe there are some other things you might want to do while on the way (so you achieve more things at once).
  • Plan your day in advance and get prepared for the next day. Especially when you need to get prepared for a completely new situation it sometimes take a longer time and therefore it might be necessary to search and read on the internet already the day before - just to give an example.


Getting up early and quality

I read some blog posts out there mentioning that one should get up early. Somewhere - unfortunately don't remember where - I read about the daily program of some blogger. Get up at 4 and go to sleep at midnight.

Well, after my son was born about a month ago, I experienced similar daily sleeping times. It can be compared to my experiences at military service. My interests after a while were reduced to eating and sleeping.

The effects are further head ache, concentration problems and so on. When walking to the gym it gets more and more difficult to perform as I performed months ago. Weights must be reduced and breaks have to be longer. I am awake longer to accomplish the things I wasn't able to finish before. Finally I saw that it is far from efficient running that way.

I try now to get to sleep whenever my son is also sleeping to get the hours required to ensure that I "function" well.

Getting enough sleep is a required precondition for efficient working and getting the output in an acceptable quality.

Related post: The value of rest and review.

Parkinson's law and quality

While I do find the Pareto Principle a very helpful rule I see the Parkinson's Law with criticism - here is why:

The Parkinson's Law states:
work expands to fill the time available
This is for managers a good reason to give less time to workers to achieve the company's goals. In my opinion (and fortunately not only in my opinion) this rule can be very counter-productive.

This rule applies only if you really overestimate a project and therefore give a far too big budget to the project. Then people might think that they want to get also something from the money you have too much to give away. And further - usually projects are underestimated in the required time/people/money budget and not overestimated.

In all other cases reducing the time/people/money budget for something simply means reducing the output quality accordingly!

On the other hand if you give slightly more budget than necessary then people could improve quality and/or service for (additional) benefit for the customer. Further - remaining time is a possibility to review and learn additional lessons.

The only remaining argument for the Parkinson's Law is people's procrastination tendency. But I do think that simply reducing the available budget is not a solution for the procrastination problem.

Related post: Urging to forge at full speed, Productivity limits, Minimum effort.


When to give up

The problem: You try to achieve a goal with all your power but the result is not showing up, you have problems and you get frustrated.
This problem can show up for short term working goals or even while working towards long term goals. I think it is a well known situation for everyone having those walls in front - barriers, hurdles, hences wherever you look. You put so much effort into a thing that you do not want to believe that it was for nothing. - Even worse is the feeling if you think to be already very close to your final goal. You release your last energy reserves and nothing, nothing helps. You get tired and more frustrated because with every attempt more and more time is wasted.

The reason: Insufficient evaluation, missing knowledge, missing experience and bad luck.
Whenever you set a goal before starting you usually check the possible solutions or ways to reach your goal and choose one that seems to bring an optimum somewhere between quality and required effort and/or resources. This is an evaluation process that is based on a lot of insecurities. While working towards your goal some things may happen that you did not expect and this might affect the required effort or the final output negatively.

Then you maybe already put a lot of effort into your project and to ensure that your work was not for nothing you automatically put more effort into your project. If you face a "real" problem that cannot be solved in an economic way you create a vicious circle.

The solution: Do a pit stop for new evaluation.
When you face a situation that turns out to put your main goal in danger working with the expected amount of effort then take yourself time to
  • think of a workaround for your current problem but still should lead you to your goal,
  • think of asking for help,
  • think if there is additional knowledge that could help you and where you could get it,
  • review the estimation of required work to achieve your goal,
  • review the goal itself (maybe arriving half the way is enough or another goal is more adequate - at least for now - think of the 80/20 rule here also known as the Pareto principle)
Is it still economic to work towards that specific goal - now?

"Giving up" is negatively tagged in our language and "giving up" is seen as a general capitulation. But giving up on something is not a general capitulation.

Giving up is an economical decision driven by experience!

And further:

Giving up NOW does not mean necessarily giving up FOREVER!
Giving up is not necessarily completely STOPPING - it is heading over to new goals.

It might turn out later after the accumulation of additional knowledge and waiting some time that then - later - your goal can be achieved a lot easier.

But after a new evaluation of your current situation it also may turn out to be better to continue because the new situation might add additional value to your project.

Continuing on a difficult thing might empower your personality and your know-how - it might turn you to a leader in your field of work!

Before you decide whether to continue or not make sure that you have well evaluated the situation. When you decide not to continue then think of the experience you got and the opportunity to learn from it - from the situation, from your false estimation but also from all the steps you achieved so far working towards your goal. This reduces the negative feeling of "lost time".


When to change style

Today morning I thought of a new blog post when I suddenly found me loosing a lot of time thinking on how it could fit my style in the form "The problem, The reason, The solution". Finally I either forgot about what was my initial idea to post because my focus drifted completely to the how instead of the what.

I came to the conclusion that it is not efficient to press everything in the same schema. Maybe it is possible but only with a lot more effort and less effect.

Although this is not my initial intention of post it either does not fit into the style of the previous posts. Why?
  • I didn't either feel to have a problem here before finding the solution but
  • I could identify a lot of different problems where the same solution applies: "Change your style" - And further
  • I do not really know what to write as the reason for my previously not existing problem - maybe my desire to have everything well organized or the human tendency of thinking in a well known schema - I don't know but I could imagine there are .
I can only say that there was a trigger that changed my thoughts completely: I felt uncomfortable because of the difficulty to get something done in the way I was used to.

So the message is simply: When you find yourself in trouble achieving something then think of changing your style.
Style can be your style of writing, your style of thinking or even your outfit. A football player does not wear his dress in really every circumstance. This does not mean that you do completely give up your personality if you adjust your style adequately!


Crying children

The problem: Your baby cries
Unfortunately until your children can talk to you telling you their problem they only cry and you can only guess what is the problem.

The reason: The reason has to be guessed.

The solution: Try the easiest and logical things first.
Try to put yourself in the position of your baby. Some possible problems may be very near to check:
  • Is your baby hungry? - This is mostly the loudest and desparate cry of the baby.
  • Has the pacifier fallen out of it's mouth?
  • Is the nappy probably full (nobody wants to sit in a full nappy I guess)?
  • Does it want to be taken out of the bed to be near to the mother or father?
  • Does it want that you change it's position (from back to belly position for example)?
I do see parallelism to a lot of other problems in life where it might be useful to think of the most obvious probable reasons and maybe very easy solution...

Don't go empty

The problem: When starting to clean your flat you find a lot of disorder

The reason: A lot of small things easily remain somewhere after you were using.

You might usually think: "I will bring them to their place when I have time" or "at the next possibility I will bring them back to their place".

The solution: When going from one room to another just look around if there is something that you can take with you to put in place.
Looking around what things might serve when brought to another room that you are going to or passing by and taking them with you gives additional value to each meter you are walking through your flat.

Blessing of criticism

Today I read the 16 Tips to Survive Brutal Criticism (and Ask for More) at lifehack:

Honesty is a Good Thing, Here’s How to Survive It
Here are some tips for surviving the floods of good intentions that might crash upon your ego:
The problem: Our ego gets hurt when we get critics.

The reason: We see ourselves too much in competition with others and getting critics gives us a feeling of decreased value of ourself.

The solution: Criticism is the best what can happen to you.

It is a very good thing to get feedback. If it is constructive then it helps to improve you / your work / your view ... - if it is not constructive it improves your strength finding good arguments for your opinion and your solutions or it is an exercise how not to feed a troll. And last but not least it shows you that it is sometimes a good thing to hear what others think and sometimes it is time wasted. Most people simply change their habits and do not contribute to improve the situation. So criticism is a blessing because someone took the time to give feedback. Evaluate the value for you.


Switch to authentic mode

The problem: Ever felt insecure when you get together with other people?
Whenever you enter a shop or you go to the gym there are people around you and you might feel insecure if you should ask something or talk to those people around you. But also it might be an associate or your boss: When you are talking to them you might feel very insecure how to say what and when would be the best moment for telling them.

The reason: There are a lot of goals and fears that accompany your intentions to communicate.
There are fears like being fired, fears to get an answer that offend you or the fear that others feel offended on your comments. You might have set you the goal to be the nicest person on earth and you fear that you are not meeting the high expectations - there are plenty of such inhibitors.

The solution: Be authentic - show your true personality!
Accept that you are an individual that can not satisfy everyone around you. Be honest and sincere. It is important that you respect to yourself. Accept your feelings and fears, manage them and put them aside gently. Handling fears properly is not in contradiction with being authentic. In the next step you can respect others. The only important required precondition is that your main intention is a respectfully coexistence with the world around you. It happens that even with the noblest attitude others might feel offended. It is their job to be honest and sincere to tell you. Then you can think about and discuss to get (new) convictions leading to a change towards a more adequate and more integrated personality.


The benefit of planning

The problem: A lot to do and no time.
Sometimes we wonder how people could survive in former times. They had to do a lot manually and a lot of things were nearly not automated. In our life everything gets faster and more complex as well. And sometimes we either do not know how it happened that we finished under this big amount of things need to be done.

The reason: Competition
With the intention to be competitive companies are optimizing in the way that staff is reduced and the remaining people have to complete more tasks. Again to be more competitive companies want to improve quality and increase the amount of provided services. Because of the costs no company wants to have their machines (and employees) standing still and therefore are very carefully in hiring new workers.

The solution: Efficient time planning
Everybody has the same amount of time available. This is bad because it means that you cannot gain more time than others. But it is also good because others cannot gain more time than you. The important thing is what you make out of your time. This means that the key is the efficient use of your time. It is necessary to make decisions - when there is not enough time for everything to be done that you desire to do then some goals have to be dropped for the favour of others.

The very most important thing is: Whatever you want to do - put it on your calender (with the estimated duration). If you don't schedule a day where you will actually do the task then when will you do it? Because of this I dropped my To-Do-Lists. I have a calendar. Everything I want to do is scheduled. If it is not scheduled it is not enough important. When priorities change I might change my scheduled tasks but I am always aware of the time limits because I see the days and every task has a duration and so occupies more or less hours of the day.

When I put a task on the To-Do-List I was used to write a short description but I did think only few about the duration and even less about the actual day or week when I will do it. So it happened that I thought of ideas I later discovered that there will never be time for it.

When working with a calendar you have to think about the actual time when to do it and the duration. When thinking about the time budget necessary it means that you think about the required effort and costs. While you are thinking about this you are analysing the task or project and here you are in the middle of the planning. Analysis is an important part in every project because it is very important to find out even the value, benefit and priority of the project.

When there are new projects or new ideas companies need more workers and even for doing there in-the-line-tasks they need a specific amount of workers to get out the results in a sufficient quality. So doing more with less resources is mostly not really true. Sometimes the resources change (like doing things with a computer which was previously done by humans) but resource is resource. So companies can decide whether to offer an additional service or product or not and what resources to use. Managing resources to have them fit at the time when actually needed and managing projects to have everything ready when needed is a lot of planning work. But the benefit of planning is the same as the benefit of thinking before doing.

Without planning you run risks to
  • Don't have the required resources ready when needed
  • easily get stress because of "unexpected" occurrences
  • find out too late that the time for a task or project is not sufficient
  • ...
Related post: Analysis and therapy.


Quality of work

The problem: A lot of relatively easy tasks are often do not bring the results in the expected or desired quality.
It's the "human factor" - one of the reasons (apart from the costs) that drives companies to automate processes. The robot doesn't get distracted and works all day long with the same accuracy.

The reason: Attention and accuracy of people varies because of very dynamic event driven brain activity.
People get distracted by external and internal events that I like to compare with interrupts on a computer. But the difference is that a computer switches attention completely and does completely one thing or completely another thing. Humans can do one thing but pay (more) attention to something else. A further effect is that we often and easily forget things.

The solution: Get aware of changes in your attention, control your event filter, change your environment and support yourself with notes and checklists.
It is possible to get some control over the distractions. First step is to be attentive on what decreases your productivity most. Then you can change the environment (get to a less noisy place for example) but you can also adjust your sensitivity how you get aware of interrupting events (sometimes this is happening automatically - I for example do not hear the computer noise any more if I do not explicitely pay attention to it). Helpful for adjusting your event filter is for example to get conscious about the current priorities and make a clear decision about what you definitely want to do now and what is definitely not important. As our brain does not work perfect a big help is taking notes, creating checklists for common tasks, best practice documentation and so on.

The fear

The problem: People often fear a particular event or they are frightened in general and then while in panic mode they do unhealthy things.
Fear is a root problem for a lot of common occurring personal difficulties. People are driven a lot by fears with several drawbacks such as:
  • They act too fast and then make the situation even worse.
  • They do not feel free in their life.
  • They distrust everybody.
I always have seen fears as big barriers in life. When talking about this issue I sometimes got told that fears are good because otherwise you wouldn't pay the proper attention for example to not fall down when working on a scafffold in big height. I have thought a lot about it and I completely disagree with this statement of reason (and actually I cannot find other better reasons).

Fears narrow your senses. You focus on the only thing considered as important yet.

The reason: When fears grow up your senses are narrowed. This to point you to the most important thing now.
But you simple do miss a lot of information - including other potential solutions. Fears grow up when the situation is already escalating. This means that the fast solution weights more than the solution with the best quality.

The solution: Be open minded, get sensitive (not to mix up with sensible) to get aware of important situations in time.
Seeing a rising problem early takes away pressure and you still have more opportunities to address the issue, more time and less stress. You don't have to wait until the problem is urgent.

Related posts: The present moment, Plan to get fear done, Something more important, Primary motivator.


Find the root problem

The problem: There are too many problems to solve.
Trying to improve your life you might get aware of many things that should be improved, many barriers to be removed. You might feel exhausted even before starting improvements.

The reason: You get lost in a lot of detail problems.
In your life you face concrete situations and concrete things happen. You add emotions and thoughts to your experiences and try to get everything solved. But in a lot of cases several situations and experiences discover to have same reason, the same program that runs. For example if you get defensive and aggressive because somebody pointed out a mistake you made or when you have stage fright before talking to a lot of people - both could have the same underlying problem: Your fear losing your face, you fear of leaving a bad mark at the others. Just to give an example.

The solution: Dig for the root problem.
First thing is to get aware of what the hell happened. Try to write down your experiences and impressions in a very few sentences. Then ask yourself "Is this really what happened or do I already start to invent things in addition to that what really happened?". Compare with past experiences and try to find similarities. Then the magic word is "Why?". Ask you questions like "Why do I behave this way?" or "Why do I think in that particular way in such situations?" and so on. Analyze yourself to find patterns. But remember to stop adequately because there is a point where digging more does not bring you further and does not bring further effect. If you can identify a lot of problems belonging to the same underlying problem then investigating more and digging for the root gives greater results.


Serious life starts immediately

When I was a child I got told that I should be happy that I have all those spare time for playing. When I will go to school the serious life will start.

Similar I got told when I was a school boy. I got told that when I go to work then serious life will start.

Effectively today I don't remember any period in my life where I did not have serious problems.

When I look at my baby son I cannot tell him to be happy because he has nothing to do other than eating and sleeping. He in fact already has some serious problems:
  1. Make the parents understand when his nappy is full. This is a serious communication problem - not only for him - for us also. I am sure the baby likes to sit in his excrements as much as you do.
  2. Accept really big dependencies. Without the parents help he is definitely not able to survive.
  3. Having long phases of hiccups because he didn't figure out so far how to stop it.
Just to mention a few...

The problem: When managing children they often don't get well understood.
The effects are that complete generations of people do not understand each other and have problems in communication.

The reason: When the years pass by we easily forget about how we felt in our childhood as we begin to see life very differently as the years are passing by.

The solution: Develop and exercise empathy and see that every creature suffers from serious problems.
Try to remember your own childhood (maybe by looking into old diaries) and look through their eyes before telling a homily. Take into consideration that they might grow up in a completely different environment making completely different experiences as you did plenty of years ago. You should grow together with your children.

Finding the proper priorities

Lately, when my son was born, I remembered the words of my grandma she told me when I asked heir many years ago:
"What is the most important?"

She neither looked up from heir work (watering the flowers) nor paused to think. As it would be the simplest thing in the world she responded:
"The creatures".

The problem: We sometimes loose orientation.
It happens that we face a lot of possibilities for next actions or either we are overcharged that we don't see any single way to go. We simply feel a lack of signposts or guides how to proceed in our life.

The reason: We get a lot of impressions from the world , we produce so much emotion and we get distracted so much that covers the view to our goals.
The complexity of the world grows more and more and we feel an overflow from time to time. Technical progress of the human being has come to a point where you could study the existing knowledge for your whole life without finishing and without starting to do something productive. You could be a consumer for your whole life without starting to do something productive (assuming you have enough money ;-) ). And actually for being productive you have plenty of opportunities. In this situation we sometimes forget about the main goals and what is really important.

The solution: Get back to the roots of "human" being. Remember that life forms are a central part of this world.
To support the creatures - humans as well as animals or plants - in your environment to have a better life is good for those and good for you. Help your neighbour. Doing good to others is doing the best for you. If you make other people happy it does not mean that you get less happy. Happiness is not a resource that is distributed to the people - no - it doubles if you share it!
So when you loose orientation then something you can do is look around and do something good to the first creature you meet.
And here I remember that in Star Trek one of the major philosophies there is that the weal of many is more important than weal of less or the weal of a single person.

Related post: Between short and long term goals, The main purpose, The resource problem.


Quality of solution

I used to be very critical and I am quickly in uncovering sub-optimal solutions. While this is an engine that gives you the opportunity of doing something good for the world by improving the situation it might create a negative aura around you.

The problem: You see a lot of problems to be solved and you want to help by pointing out but nobody wants to listen.
There is so much to improve in this world - too much. You see plenty of bad things done and a bunch of potential dangers in the way things are managed currently. You want to improve but you have so few time. You want to help and so you think notifying somebody about the dangers and traps is the minimum you can do. As you have so few time you hurry to the next problem...

The reason: People already have enough problems themselves and if you don't bring solutions you don't help them.
If you can't present a better solution then pointing to a bad situation can cause negative effects for you, because
  • you get considered egocentric or bigheaded/cocky
  • you are negative
  • the group you are talking to contains the architect of the current solution
The solution: There is a reason for everything that currently exists and it has a sense. If you can't improve the situation then it is better to do nothing.
Doing nothing or to wait (until you better studied the situation and environment) can be the better choice rather than making it worse. Accept that there are open issues and focus on those issues that seem most important to you and match with your fields of interest. Then search for solutions to particular problems in your area of expertise. Keep in mind that solutions might include several drawbacks but it is better to have a bad solution than having none. Accept to live with patches and workarounds - it's better than nothing. And guess: Maybe the solution you think best turns out to be even worse...


About this Blog

Focus of this blog is problem solving so this blog is meant to be a part of the productivity and life improvement blogs.

Why talking about "problems"?
The word problem seems to have a negative touch.

I did sometimes feel a sense of guilt when talking about problems. People need to get motivated and when talking about problems you get a lot of resistance - nobody wants to hear bad truth.

But history of humanity is history of problems and suffering.
Buddhism philosophy states "There is suffering".
So we can also say: "There are problems".

When people don't have problems they are likely to create some of their own because of their tendency to be lazy.

But the word problem is not necessarily negative. Naming something as a problem is getting aware of a barrier. This is the first required step before you can put it out of your way.

Getting aware of a problem is the opportunity to improve the situation.

And improving your situation and environment is improving your life - improving the quality of your being.

Improving your life is success. Success is happiness and motivation.

Solving problems is success, happiness and motivation!


About Me

For an abstract of my work and interests see my profile.

You can contact me writing e-mail to mwildam[at]gmx.at.

It happened in my childhood that I already felt in having a lot of problems leading from difficult homework to mistreatment by companions. I prayed to god for help solving my difficulties but I mostly did not have the impression that I was helped.

Like the flash of a lightning one day I came to the conclusion that I have to solve the problems myself (if one believe in god or not - you must get active).

When my father brought home a computer for work and did a lot of problem solving using the computer I got interested in it ... ... and solving a lot of "problems" with the computer (not mentioning the problems it created ;-) ) it brought me to my profession...

However, in my life beside the computer I still felt a lot of problems and as I was used to finish homework before going to play I also felt that I must solve my problems before I can start to be happy and satisfied. I found that for a lot of personal problems (communication difficulties, broken toys and hearts or many other) common root problems could be identified and so I started to dig for the root problems and tried to solve those. And that helped more because I could solve a number of problems at once solving the primary one. But again there were always problems remaining.

At university after attending a course (that did not belong to my subjects in reality) about ZEN meditation I read a little about buddhism and it said: "There is suffering."

With the experience of the meditation and some information I started to accept the permanent existence of problems - it is something "normal". Knowing that problems are something normal, the word "problem" looses it's negative attribute a little.

I remember a question from the audience of a buddhism event I attended by accident many years later: "Is the computer a bad thing that we should avoid?" - Smiling a little I expected the speaker to say: "Yes, it is a bad thing". But he answered: "A computer is a wonderful thing that can help us having satori (enlightment)". Later I understood that while growing into the computer business the computer taught me analysing or solving problems - and much more (even if it also created a lot of problems - or did I create those myself ;-) ).

Looking back, the trigger of big steps forward in my personal development was again and again the feeling of having a problem. And then I searched for a solution. So being aware that some current habit or strategy is not working (any more) well is a first important thing.

Especially (but not only) in the last months I had a lot of help from nice people improving my life's quality in general. And reading a lot of productivity and life improvement blogs in the last months gave me a lot of very important incentives.

I do want to contribute to this wonderful community.