Monthly Archives: August 2012

How to Be More Productive

There’s an old saying that the devil wants us to believe we have all the time in the universe because that’s the way we get recruited to do nothing or bad things.  If you think you are going to live forever, you tend not to value the moment and end up wasting a lot of time. 

I’m not saying you should be a compulsive maniac – I’m talking about productivity in your life.  And I’m not just talking about work productivity.  It could be at home, school…anywhere.

So, how can you use your time well?  I’ll start by telling you what I used to do in college.  I was a serious maniac because I was very serious about my education.  Every night before I went to sleep, I would plan out my whole day on a three-by-five card starting with what time I woke up:

 7 a.m.: Wake up
 7 – 7:15 a.m.: Shower, get dressed, go to breakfast
 7:15 – 7:35 a.m.: Breakfast

And so on.

I literally had every five minutes of the day planned out – when to have lunch, when to review my notes…everything.  At the end of the day, everything that I had to get done got done.  

You can use this technique in your home too.  Focus on what has to be done.  Usually the biggest percentage of what you do doesn’t actually have to be done.  There’s a lot of excess busyness debris in your lives.  Don’t confuse things that can be done with what needs to be done.  What’s important at the end of the day is that you feel satisfied and impressed that you did what you were responsible for.  If you end the day that way, you are going to be more productive the next day, and you’re going to feel happier, nicer, and better. 

You don’t have to be as maniacal as I was in college, planning out every 15 minutes of the day.  I’m not even that way anymore.  However, I still put a schedule in my head.  I know what I’m going to accomplish in the morning, and when I accomplish that, I’m going to see what I feel like doing in the amount of time I have before I go on the air.  In the afternoons, I have scheduled times to play tennis with friends, take a pool lesson, practice archery, or do whatever.  I just try not to do be doing more work after I get off the air because I get up at 5 a.m.  Of course, there are times when there is more work to do and that’s OK.  I just don’t get crazy if it doesn’t get done.

The good side to being disciplined (and by the way, discipline is about choices, not genetics) is that you get a lot of things done.  The bad side is that sometimes you push yourself too hard, and then you don’t realize that your brain just exploded.  When it feels like my brain exploded, I realize I’m putting too much in a day and need to yank the pace back.  I’ll just take the dogs out for a walk and experience the breeze, flowers, and sun. 

I have a few ideas to help you be more productive:

First of all, you have to assess your priorities.  A lot of you spend way too much time doing what somebody else wants you to do and not something you are obligated to do.  There are friends and relatives who you let impose on you because you don’t want to seem mean.  You don’t want them to judge you negatively, and you don’t want to be disliked.  However you have to get over that guilt because it’s childish.  If someone – even if they’re your parent or best friend – nags you, wants to usurp your time, energy, and attention, doesn’t reciprocate, or fails to respect any kind of boundaries, then who cares if they don’t like you.

You’ve really got to be more of a gladiator when protecting your time because it is finite.  It is not forever recreating itself.  Get over the guilt of “I really want to be doing something else, but they’re going to be mad.”  Nobody has died from being annoyed.  Stand up to people who vampirously suck you dry.  

Next, figure out what activities fall under “obligatory time” and “discretionary time.”  There are times when you have committed to others to be at a certain place at a certain time.  That’s obligatory time.  Your discretionary time is the time you can manage.  You create your next moment.  Make a list of all of the things you think you should be doing tomorrow and put an A, B or C next to each item.  A = must do, B = should do, C = could do.  Do the A’s first, and then try to slip in the B’s.  The C’s may just go by the wayside, and in the process, you might discover that they make no difference in your life. 

In your mind or on a piece of paper, check off what you’ve done and note what you haven’t finished.  Juggle the unfinished things into the next day’s schedule and reprioritize.  Don’t kill yourself trying to do too many things perfectly – you are just going to burn out. 

Finally, don’t confuse being busy with being productive.  It’s not enough to be busy.  Ants are busy.  The question is, what are you busy about?  You’ve got to be ferociously selective.  There are certain things I will not do, especially at this stage in my life and career.  I wish to use my time differently.  I’m 65 and I’m using my time as well as I can.  Unfortunately, when you’re 25, you think you have infinite time, and you tend to waste a lot of it.  That’s why the joke is, we should be born knowing everything and just get younger.  We would use our time better that way. 

Basically, you are totally in control, whether you think so or not.  It’s all about time management, making decisions, and making choices.  You have to govern the clock, not be governed by it.

Here are some great stats about how poorly we mismanage our time.

 

My Blunt, No-Nonsense Answers

Dr. Rodger Dean Duncan is widely known in the business world as an expert in the strategic management of change.  To name only a few, his client list includes American Airlines, IBM, eBay, Federal Reserve Bank and presidential cabinet officers in two White House administrations.  Dr. Duncan recently asked me to comment on personal responsibility, ethics, values, and moralities of today.  You can read my interview at his website: DoctorDuncan.com

Why Women Stay in Bad Relationships

Why would any reasonable woman stay in a bad relationship?

Well, reasonable may or may not have anything to do with it.  I’m going to break down some of the reasons people stay in relationships they should really be leaving:

Fear of being alone.  Although it’s extremely nice to have a companion and a love in life, it is not a good experience trying to squeeze square pegs into round holes.  If you’re with a guy out of fear of being alone, then it’s not even the guy you want – it’s the avoidance of not having a guy.  If you just want to avoid not having a guy, you’ll take just about any guy who’ll line up.    It doesn’t bring peace.  (It’s also curious to me why women think a man can stand their company when they can’t, but that’s a whole other issue).

For some women it’s the devil you know vs. the devil you don’tThere’s something comfortable about staying – even in a bad relationship – because at least you know what you’re getting.

Others make the excuse that “it’s not that bad.”  I remember one woman who called in about her second husband being physically violent.  She said she knew how to deal with violent guys, and this one was less violent so it was “not that bad.”

“Not that bad?!”  It blew my mind to hear that.  It doesn’t matter what comes before the word “bad,” it’s still bad.  That’s called denial.

Some people just can’t stand the notion of having failed, especially if they have lost a marriage or a relationship in the past.  They just don’t want to acknowledge that this is a failure.  Well the way I look at it, the failure is not in leaving when the relationship doesn’t work – the failure is not leaving.   The purpose of dating is to discern whether or not the other person’s a good match.  Once you discern that they’re not a good match, hit the eject button.

Sometimes the guy has some kind of leverage over you.  You’ve done something really dumb, like shacked up with him or put down half the money for a house or condo that you’re not going to get back.  Or maybe he’s made you a kept woman and you don’t know how you’re going to survive on your own.

You believe he’ll change.  After all, he said he would.  He says he’s trying, and really it’s you that’s making him so mad.  If you only stopped making him so mad or crazy or annoyed, he’d stop doing whatever it is that bothers you.

He makes you feel special.  Even though you’re not quite good enough (in his mind), he’ll manipulate you to feel grateful that he’s with someone like you.  He says things like, “You’ll never find anybody to care about you as much as I do.”   That’s laughable.  If somebody says that to you when you know you’re in a bad relationship, just say to them, “Well thank God nobody else is going to treat me like you do.”

Some women become so absorbed with the other person and isolated from their friends and family that they don’t get feedback from anybody else.  They deny that anything’s wrong and try to hide what’s going on.

Lastly, women sometimes won’t let go of a relationship because of the time and energy they’ve invested.  However, it’s just the opposite.  The longer you stay in a bad relationship, the more time and energy you’re going to spend.

If you’re in a bad relationship, don’t just think that working harder is the solution.  If you keep having the same problems, arguments, hurt feelings, and resentments, and nothing gets resolved, end it.  If you’ve been to couples counseling and you can’t reach a place of understanding, move on.   Realize you’ve made a mistake and you’re not compatible.  Don’t go from therapist to therapist until you get someone to agree with you.

Remember that life is finite.  I think that’s one of the most important things people forget.  You only have so many days to be alive.  How do you want to spend them?  Do you really not want to face your fears and stay with what you have?

Why Baby Drop Boxes Are Needed

In the United States, we have “safe-haven” laws in all 50 states, which allow children to be left anonymously in designated places (hospitals, fire departments, etc.).  Taking a similar initiative, European countries are providing more and more baby “drop boxes” for parents to drop off unwanted babies.  They have recently become a big deal in the news because the United Nations (which in my opinion is totally useless) has had the nerve to criticize them.

According to an article in Time, “At a children’s charity in Hamburg, Germany, there’s a steel door to a hatch where unwanted babies can be left anonymously. Once closed, it cannot be opened again from the outside.  Established [12 years ago], this is the first of Germany’s now 80-plus baby boxes or baby hatches.”  These are what the U.N. is criticizing.  The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a statement saying that the boxes are “contravening the right of the child to be known and cared for by his or her parents.”

Well no kidding!  That’s the whole point – there aren’t two parents wanting to take care of the kid.  Duh! 

And guess what?  Roughly 30 to 40 babies (that they know about) die each year in Germany because they’ve been abandoned, and about that same number have been left in the hatches since their inception. 

It’s an alternative to just letting them die.  Are we really that worried about violating a child’s right to a name, nationality, and parents? 

We’ve had so many scandals here in the United States regarding this issue.  Remember the teenybopper who went to a dance, gave birth, flushed the baby down the toilet, and then went out to finish the dance?  A report by the Department of Health and Human Services showed that out of 4 million births in 1998, 108 infants were abandoned.  Between December of 2000 and March of 2001, seven babies were found dead in New York City – one thrown out a window in Washington Heights, another dumped in a sewer in Queens, and a third left in a vacant Bronx lot.

So, in my opinion, arguing about whether or not this is a good idea is sort of silly.  We’re dealing with people who are not going to take care of their kids anyway, so what are the options?  A lot of young women want the anonymity and a lot of babies are saved.
 
Some of you may take the side of the U.N. and argue back at me that the child has a right to be known by his or her parents because of medical issues that could arise.  To that, I just say don’t even bother.  In this day and age with the technology we have, the scans we can do, and the blood and genetic tests we can conduct, we don’t need family history to know what your problems are likely to be if you don’t take good care of yourself.  A lot of people have genes for a disease, like breast cancer, but they never get it.  Some people don’t have the genes for breast cancer and get breast cancer.  There’s no guarantee either which way.  It’s a specious argument.  

Some people might ask, “Hey, but what about the dads?”  Well, if the dad has a feeling he’s knocked up somebody and he really wants his child, he can either talk to the woman who’s carrying it, or he can go to the authorities to register his DNA.  Some adoption agencies deal with the DNA matchup of the putative father.  But I don’t even know the number of fathers in these situations who want their kid. 

One of the fellows who organizes safe-haven adoptions says that each year, his crisis line gets about 2,000 calls.  Most – 70 percent – decide to keep the baby and raise it with the help of their family.  However, 20 percent decide to place the baby in adoption, and 10 percent decide to leave the baby in a safe haven anonymously.  That’s one out of 10 kids that gets adopted out with anonymity through a licensed adoption agency.  They are placed with mommies and daddies who want them.  I say that if the law saves kids, it’s worth it.

It would be nice if only responsible, sane, married moms and dads were the ones having babies, but that’s not the case.  I am all for anything which does not result in a baby getting killed for no good reason other than “oops!”   That’s why I think the U.N. is being stupid.

When Kids See Smut Online

Should parents be concerned about Internet porn?

Yes!

The thing parents should be worried about most is the victimization of their children.  Whether it’s being preyed upon by a pedophile or experiencing crass sex totally disconnected from intimacy, it’s all victimization.
 
Today’s kids live in a culture where hard-core pornography is everywhere.  Kids have an arsenal of portable devices these days which enable them to go online just about anywhere.  Even if you monitor them closely at home by getting them to use child-friendly search engines and setting up OpenDNS or other parental controls, you still might not be able to stop them from looking at porn.  They could see it at a friend’s house, on a cell phone, or someplace where there’s public access to the Internet – like the library or at school. 

As far as I’m concerned, the windows in front of Victoria’s Secret stores depict soft-core pornography.  The same goes for Abercrombie and Fitch.  When parents walk by these stores in the mall with their kids or get their catalogues in the mail, they are exposing their kids to porn. 

A lot of people call in to my radio show wanting to know if they should wait until their kid asks about sex to talk about it.  I just tell them that at that point, it’s already way too late.  You should talk to kids about sex beginning at a very, very early age because they already have a high chance of seeing porn when their age is still in the single digits. 

You can say we all have different morals and philosophies about this topic, but mine is very child-centered and focused on kids having quality lives with quality relationships.   I think the ultimate goal for developing a child’s sexuality is making them see why connecting both sexually and spiritually is important.  You need to make them see that sex is a special act, and it symbolizes deep love and commitment between a husband and wife.  There are things that are sacred and sublime, and there are things that aren’t.  To take something sacred and put it in a meaningless context diminishes humanity, and affects not only the child’s sexuality, but his or her values, such as how women should be treated.

By helping your kids see the big picture about how sex is sacred and how it is being abused largely in our culture, you will be better prepared to confront the problem of pornography when it occurs in your children’s lives.

If you find out your child has looked at pornography, don’t get hysterical.  I think children are always victims of a form of sexual abuse whenever they are confronted with sexually provocative materials.   Gently find out if someone introduced it to them.  It’s really important to understand the context in which they got a hold of it.  It could have just been a pop-up, or their web search request came back with a porn site (e.g. they typed the word “fox” with two “x’s” by accident). 

And in the worst case scenario, your child could be looking at porn because it has been sent by someone who preys on kids.  “Pedophiles can use access to porn to establish a bond with a child.  The bond can lower a child’s resistance to meeting in person, and viewing porn may lower his or her resistance to being persuaded to perform sexual acts.  Showing a child pornography also is a good way to prevent detection because the child knows at some level he or she is doing something his parents wouldn’t sanction and is unlikely to tell them.”

Lastly, if your kid was just curious and looked at porn, don’t punish them.  Yelling, “We’re taking the computer away and we’re not going to feed you for four days,” is not helpful.   Instead, I think you should use the incident as an opportunity to teach your child that not everything and everyone on the Internet is harmless.  It’s a good time to talk to them about sexuality, how it can be exploited, and your values about sex, marriage, men, women, and relationships.  In your own home, it’s always a good idea to put the computer in a place where it is visible to the adults and limit the amount of time your child spends there.  You initiate the Internet session, log them on and off, and use blocking software and tracking services.  Basically, you set the rules.  If a child breaks the rules, then they get punished, but don’t punish them simply because they were curious and looked at porn.  If they are going to get a punishment, it should be because they disobeyed the rules.  Above all, you don’t want them to feel uncomfortable talking to you about something as incredibly important as their sexuality.

Your kids are being seduced all the time, and you have to keep that in mind.  I constantly see commercials that make my drop jaw.  It used to be that people would get hysterical over a kid getting his hands on a Playboy, but it’s not even close to that way anymore.  Our kids have lost their innocence and their sensitivity about viewing certain things that should be special.  It’s time to redirect and educate them.

Here are some alarming statistics about how Internet pornography is affecting our kids: