BOOK REVIEW: EASE Manage overwhelm in times of “Crazy Busy”October 30, 2014
By Sheryl Smolkin
Most of the books reviewed this year on savewithspp.com have been about personal financial planning and retirement. However, it’s hard to hold down a job and save for retirement if you are always overwhelmed and crazy busy both at work and at home.
Does that sound familiar? Then Eileen Chadnick’s new book “Ease” may help you find the balance you need to break the cycle.
Chadnick is a leadership coach and principal of Big Cheese Coaching in Toronto with more than 20 years of experience in diverse careers including coaching, public relations, fitness and writing. Her articles regularly appear in the Globe and Mail.
Are times of “crazy busy” the new normal? Chadnick says the season of “rush” is now year-round. Demands of work and life continue to accelerate to unprecedented levels. In Ease, she offers a toolkit to manage “overwhelm” in our daily lives.
Here are some of the tools for organizing your life Chadnick explores in detail.
- Get it out of your head: Write it down
Making lists seems pretty basic to me because that’s how I’m wired. But lists covering short and longer term personal and work objectives can certainly help you stay focused.
- Get a grip on your schedule
Don’t schedule two activities back to back in different parts of the city. Build in more responsible time margins. And schedule “white space” — time for yourself — into your agenda.
- Prioritize and triage
Use priorities to establish boundaries but maintain appropriate flexibility. Having clear priorities will act as a compass for how to spend your limited time and give you a reassuring map when there is too much to do.
- Manage distractions
Ah yes. Facebook, surfing the web and email are notorious distractions. But non-urgent interruptions by colleagues and family members can also throw you off course. Identify distractions, manage the expectations of others and create systems for handling email.
- Reign in the multitasking
Being able to multitask is generally viewed as a positive attribute. But if you spend your entire day juggling tasks with little time to focus, you will likely use much more energy and feel more depleted than if you utilize the same amount of hours focusing on serial tasks.
- Learn to say no
Learn to manage your reflexive “yes” habit and how to appropriately say no when it counts. Acknowledge the request. Share your reasons for declining. And where possible make another offer that is more doable. For example, “While I can’t participate in that project I’d be prepared to attend a preliminary brainstorming session so others can run with some of my ideas.”
- Managing the paradox of choice at the buffet of life
Be aware of and take responsibility for the work and life choices you make. Just because you love to golf doesn’t mean you have to play two or three times a week and beat yourself up when you can’t. Take one course a semester instead of two. It may take longer to get your degree but you’ll have time to do other things.
- Tame your inner critics
Do you have an inner voice constantly telling you that the job will never get done or you will never be able to manage? It often comes out when you are tired or can’t sleep. Know your triggers. Become masterful at self-observation so that you can recognize those inner-critic moments and transition to your resourceful, reasonable self.
- Climb your mountain one step at a time
Step back from any project or task and break it down into pieces. Then attempt one step at a time. Remember — small steps add up to a solid journey.
- Clear the cache
Experts say that sometimes the best way to solve a seemingly unsolvable problem is to walk away from it for some period of time. Taking breaks from an issue can trigger a switch that increases mental function, creativity and productivity. Take a walk, go to the gym or bake a cake. While you unplug and shift gears answers will come to you.
I particularly like the chapter on the importance of positive thinking. In one of my early jobs I had a hard time adjusting to the company culture and initially blamed my unhappiness on other co-workers. Shortly after when I decided to stop complaining and take a more positive, constructive approach, my work and my relationships became a lot more manageable.
Much of Chadnick’s advice is common sense and you have probably heard most of it before. However, taken together and with explanations grounded in neuroscience, her ideas form a powerful roadmap for getting your life in order. She is available for private coaching, to speak to book clubs via Skype and to present at conferences.
She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also check out her website. Ease can be purchased from Chapters/Indigo online for $12.24. In addition, it is available as an ebook for your Kobo or Kindle.
Mar 17: Best from the blogosphereMarch 17, 2014
By Sheryl Smolkin
The road to retirement is a long one with many twists and turns on the way. In addition to saving to pay for your retirement you have to think about where you will live, how you will spend your time and how much you will need for health care costs not covered by Medicare.
In Retirement: Who do you want to be when you grow up? on retirehappy.ca, Donna McCaw says we could be volunteering, mentoring, coaching, working part time, serving on committees or boards, engaging in politics at various levels, writing, taking courses, getting more fit, and taking on projects, challenges, or causes.
Dave Dinnen weighs the pros and cons of retiring early in his blog Should you retire early or retire late? on Brighter Life. Early retirement costs more and most of your friends will still be working. But he retired at 54 and loves that he is young and free with the time to make his own lifestyle choices.
For many people, getting ready for retirement is such an overwhelming goal that they simply can’t get started. Using cleaning her office as an example, Eileen Chadnick of Big Cheese Coaching says Tiny is the new big – when it comes to goals. It’s often better to set smaller goals, because you’re more likely to achieve them. This gives you something to celebrate and reinforces the habit of goal-setting in the first place.
Lent started on March 5th. Big Cajun Man suggests that for your financial Lenten journey you could go without lattes for 40 days; read four personal finance books and live on cash for 40 days. Even if Lent is half over when you read this, it’s not too late to commit to strategies that will save you money all year.
And, on another note, independent life insurance broker and president of Life Insurance Canada.com Inc. Glenn Cooke exposes three big fat myths about critical illness insurance on myownadvisor.ca that you need to know about. For example, you could be denied coverage for a heart attack because insurance companies use their own definition of a heart attack instead of the typical consumers definition of heart attack or even the medical industry’s terminology.
Do you follow blogs with terrific ideas for saving money that haven’t been mentioned in our weekly “Best from the blogosphere. Share the information with us on http://wp.me/P1YR2T-JR and your name will be entered in a quarterly draw for a gift card.
Dec 23: Best from the blogosphereDecember 23, 2013
By Sheryl Smolkin
As the year draws to a close, I am pleased to join brighterlife.ca in celebrating some of the best Canadian retirement writers in 2013. I thank them for including me on the list.
Week after week we link to these and other fine bloggers who freely share their time and considerable insight with us. To get to know some of these people a little better in 2014 savewithspp.com will present a series of podcast interviews with prominent personal finance bloggers.
Retire Happy. Follow financial expert, author and speaker Jim Yih on Twitter: @jimyih
MoneySense. Follow MoneySense Magazine editor Jonathan Chevreau: @JonChevreau
Boomer and Echo. Follow mother-and-son financial writers Marie and Robb Engen: @BoomerandEcho
Sheryl Smolkin. Follow this lawyer and financial journalist: @SherylSmolkin
Unretired Life. Follow coach, consultant, speaker and author Eileen Chadnick: @unretiredlife
I’m a sonic boomer… not a senior. Royce Shook writes about issues important to Boomers, grandparents and others, who are changing what retirement looks like.
Canadian Dream Free at 45. Follow engineer and financial writer Tim Stobbs on his journey to early retirement: @canadiandream
Everything Zoomer. Follow executive editor and travel writer Vivian Vassos (@vivianvassos) and associate editor and arts and culture writer Mike Crisolago (@MikeCrisolago)
Grey Routes and Tips. Follow travel-for-grownups writer Jane Canapini: @janecanapini
Best from the Blogosphere will be taking a three week break, but I look forward to bringing you more great retirement and money saving ideas beginning again in mid-January.
Have a happy, healthy holiday season with friends and family.