Going Lean in Everyday Life (Or How to Write a Blog Post in 10 Minutes)

I’m a creative type. There I said it. If you know anything about this type you know that they love to be left alone for long hours huddled in their creative den, perfectly their art whether it be a painting, website or in my case--writing. Like the stereotype often goes--my work area can become super messy and even though it bugs me I just dive deeper into my work. Lately my work has been off the charts busy with a full-time client and two part-time ones. Pretty sure that doesn’t equal a balanced life. But it does equal a messy house, a neglected personal blog and too many thing too do.

I am ready to try new things--not because a big number ticked over a few weeks ago but because I have been trying to do things different since I got sick this past summer. This sickness was an indication that the way I was doing things just wasn’t working and since I’m not insane that meant that I needed to do things a different way.

So, for the past few weeks I’ve been trying something a bit different. Rather than allocating a full day to a project like I’d like to I am now getting work in very small micro bursts. I’ve started with 10 minutes on a timer for each iteration. 10 minutes to clean off my desk. 10 minutes to plow through my email. I even did it for this blog post. I didn't futz over it or spend hours trying to get the perfect phrasing. I published. a.k.a. Committing or Shipping in the tech world. I largely think it worked.  (Though I did add 5 minutes for the actual posting because wordpress can be a rascal sometimes) Sometimes I need to add another 10 minutes because I’ve gotten into the task and I want to get just a bit more done. I did this last night. I cleaned off my desk (which meant sorting my bills and receipts and other nonsense) and then in the last 3 minutes of the second iteration I paid off 3 bills and took care of another billing issue. I went to bed feeling quite pleased. I got the inspiration from the world of lean startups and small iterations and my mom who has done a similar approach which she probably got from a woman's magazine.

What I love about my lean approach

1) Feels very doable

2) I get something done which is better than nothing

3) I get very focused on the task at hand

4) I feel good about it so I inch up a few notches on happiness meter.

Now certainly everything may not fit into this lean approach and that quality doesn't matter because it does and there are times I will certainly want to luxuriate in a project. That said, so far it's really helping me to stay focused and get an enormous amount done especially in things I dread because I don't think I have time. Wondering how you might be able to put this concept into your life and what you discover.

Life Lesson #2: How to Avoid Drama

This is the 3rd in the series around the life lessons I've learned since June 2011.  It expanded on the illusion of control and now we come to this: how to avoid drama. People who have a lot of drama in their lives come in two flavors.  Let's start with the most obvious types--the one I know you thought of when you read the title of this post. They're the ones who enticed you in--just as they're wont to do in real life. The Drama Creators.

Their hallmarks include numerous, messy entanglements, excuses and a general lack of concern for your feelings. These Drama Kings and Queens and oh yes--both genders have 'em--will entice you--at first. My experience has shown them to be shockingly charming, drawing you in like a moth to the dangerous light. Aliveness may permeate throughout you in those first few interactions, soon to be replaced with a feeling of confusion, exhaustion and a serious case of emotional whiplash. And there isn't a carton of ice cream or bottle of Tequila big enough to anesthetize it. 

The only thing you can do when you find yourself faced with a Drama Creator is to move away. Exclude. Minimize. It's a hard lesson to learn but one you'd be wise to do the very moment you discover you have a life filled with these kinds of people. Or, even just a few especially if they're a primary relationship like a boss, client, lover, best friend or family member.

The thing is...they're not whole. Not yet. They're so filled with their own internal angst that baby they don't have an ounce of energy left for you. In fact, they're more likely to rob you of your precious energy rather than fill you with more. They're stuck in inner trauma---probably from a bygone era. Unwilling to do the true hard work to heal, they're stuck frozen.

They're not going to change.

Identify. Leave. Exclude. Minimize.

Then there are those who have drama surrounding them. Let's call them the Drama Allowers. This sort of type seems to attract drama without directly (or intentionally) causing it. Except they do have a part in this melodrama. Being passive may not seem as harmful as those who actively create drama but this alas, is untrue.

The rub is that passively allowing others' drama to seep into and pervade your life leaves you spent, unavailable for good to infiltrate and ultimately leaves you feeling disempowered. This in turn leaves you much more susceptible to other Drama Creators, creating a cycle which is a bit like a dangerous undertow that churns you around, scrambles you up and renders you useless. If this is you--stop it. When someone injects a bit of drama in your life pay attention to the big old yellow flashing sign. Slow down, take care to see if this is isolated or the way this person lives their life. If it's the latter--well, do I really need to tell you what to do?  Drama Creators will hijack your life, taking it over with their narcissistic concerns and you farther away from your dreams.

Identify. Leave. Exclude. Minimize.


"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" Mary Oliver

I hope you won't spend one more moment squandering your precious time on creating or allowing drama. It's simply an luxury you can't afford.

I used to be a dyed-in--the-wool Drama Allower, whipped around in a frenzy by Drama Creators until I just got tired of it and let them all go. Bosses, boyfriends, friends--really, anyone with a penchant for the dramatic. These days my business is snap, crackling and popping along with all sorts of goodness. My life is too busy, too precious to waste it on drama so I simply don't allow it in my life. The result in my life has dramatic itself. My productivity and happiness levels shot straight up like one of those hockey stick charts investors are always looking for. If I was investing in myself I'd say it was the best one I could have made.

All this talk about drama has me a bit drained. But if even one of you lets go of being a Drama Creator or Drama Allower it was worth it. And now, I'm off to gain some energy by working on a project that invigorates me: writing my book I've been dreaming of for years.

Postscript: Credit goes to Cheryl Strayed for reminding me of the Mary Oliver quote. It's a good one and should be taped to everyone's refrigerator.