In this issue:
Product Highlight |
Brainpower | Finances | Security | Health/Fitness | Miscellany | Thought for the Day
1. Product Highlight
Rebates On Selected Scanning Pens|
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The one at right is$35 off!
Sale runs through September, 2008 only.
2. Brainpower tip
I recently had a conversation with an old friend whose life has
truly tanked. How is he handling this? He's concocting a sort of alternate
universe that allows him to blame other people for how he got to where he
is. Using fallacious logic, "creative" fact gathering, and a whole lot of
mental energy, he's been able to devise quite the story. Of course, it
doesn't square well with reality. But, that's the point of such an exercise.|
This coping strategy helps a person avoid the discomfort
of facing reality. "It's not my fault" soothes the ego and lets those
insecurities and self-defeating behaviors continue to thrive.
But coping and curing are quite different. How much
better would it be if, for example, he identified just one of his many
problems and analyzed what he could personally do about it? Rather than
waste brainpower rationalizing personal failings, it's more advantageous to
direct that brainpower to solving the problems you are facing.
The person in question blames his first ex-wife for
his current financial condition. They were divorced about 15 years ago and
it was financially a clean break (no support payments or alimony), so right
there you have a clue that he's not looking clearly at the situation.
They divorced because he was abusive physically and verbally. If you were to write a book on how to be a poor husband, he'd be poster child for about 80% of the material. He cherry picks
his facts, saying he was a good husband because he "didn't get drunk and run
around with the boys." He conveniently forgets all of his points of failure
in this endeavor. And he conveniently forgets that he abused his next wife
the same way, causing her to leave him as well.
He's retired now and his money is running out. He has
medical bills that are draining his savings, but his health ills are all caused by
his compulsive overeating. He has refused to get help for his compulsion or
even try to overcome it himself, despite the obvious consequences. So now that the money is about to run
out, he has adopted a "why me?" attitude and blames someone who has nothing
to do with the problem.
It's easy to point fingers and say, "Well, that guy's
just an idiot." In fact, that's a normal response, so don't feel bad if
you responded that way. But the problem is that in finger-pointing we risk
not looking at our own similar issues. As a consequence, we may go about
with our own self-defeating behaviors and not stop to think through the
causes and possible cures.
It takes courage and discipline to look at whatever
problem you're having and ask questions like:
- What actions of mine could have contributed to
this problem, and am I still doing such things?
- What actions can I take to ameliorate or even fix
- How have others solved a similar problem, and
what changes did they make?
- Am I making any real progress? In what ways, and
by what yardstick to I know this?
If you put yourself to this task, you will find that
you have ample ability to formulate solutions. The reason is when you stop
wasting brainpower on excuse-making, you will have huge reserves available
for problem-solving. Use those reserves, instead of wasting them. Imagine if
you could multiply the mileage of your automobile by a factor of ten or do
the same with your salary--that would produce some impressive results. So
does removing the brainpower-drag of excuse-making.
3. Finance tip
We've all heard the adage, "Time is money," yet most
of us waste staggering amounts of time. This has a cost, even if you
don't count it in dollars. If you don't count it in dollars, you should.
One way to look at it is this: if you use your time wisely, you can
reduce expenses on "time saving services" and other things that suck up
One way to stem
the flow of wasted time is to use e-mail rather than making (or
receiving) a phone call. Most people think the phone call is quicker,
but it usually isn't.
From a productivity standpoint, phone calls are
disasters. Have you wondered why just about every company you deal with
has a phone tree, though just about every consumer hates those things?
Phone trees aren't implemented to direct you to the right department. They are
implemented to discourage you from picking up the phone and costing that
company what is usually a quite needless expense.
Further, if your call
goes through to a salaried individual, that person has to make up for
the call on his or her personal time. Phone calls are one reason why
white collar workers in America work 65 and 70 hour weeks. Think about
that before you pick up the phone to contact someone you do business
Phone calls are synchronous communication, so the
caller necessarily must interrupt the other person. For that person to
get back to where s/he was prior to the call takes about 30
minutes, according to some studies. I think that number is conservative
for people who work in concentration-heavy jobs such as engineering or
law. This is one reason why attorneys tend to bill much lower for
e-mails than for phone calls and why executives have a gatekeeper to
filter incoming calls.
Here's the math on my own typical workflow. A
15-minute phone call takes me an hour (15 for the call, 15 putting the
call into notes, and half an hour trying to get back to where I was when
interrupted), on a good day. Sometimes, though, I just can't get back to
where I was and the rest of the day is pretty much shot. But, let's
assume the numbers given at the outset and look a little more at the
I can type more than twice as fast as I can talk
and I can read 10 times faster than I can listen (and more accurately).
So a 5 minute e-mail puts me 55 minutes ahead of a 15-minute call.
That's a huge competitive advantage.
But take care you don't adopt an "e-mail only"
policy for business or personal communications. This mentality is
becoming more pervasive, and that's also costly when it goes beyond
common sense and into absurdity.
Obviously, if an e-mail can't do the job then it's
pretty pointless. The usual reason an e-mail doesn't work is the person
writing it dashes it off to "save time." So, instead of spending 10
minutes thoughtfully composing an e-mail and then writing a good subject
line, that person ends up trading e-mails back and forth a few more
times and then hopping on the phone. Total time consumed by "saving
time" this way can easily run 4 hours. The solution is to spend 10, 15,
or even 20 minutes making sure your e-mail is logical, limited in scope,
You don't have to be an outstanding writer to
achieve that. In fact, if you can't write that way you can't speak that
way either. The phone offers no actual advantage in communication to a
person who can't articulate, unless the other person is able to drag out
the correct information and clarify.
But what about those times when an e-mail is
simply inappropriate? You have a couple of options. One is to just pick
up the phone and call. Another is to send an e-mail to make an
appointment for a call. Use your judgment as to when to choose which
There is nothing inherently wrong with a phone
call, whether incoming or outbound. But a call does cost time and thus
money to make and to receive. In many cases, it's well worth it. Think
of the last time you had a stimulating phone conversation with a friend,
and how e-mail would have made it far less stimulating.
Timing is also a factor. One complaint of
consultants, telecommuters, and others who work from home is they get
nonbusiness calls during business hours, as if their working from home
means they aren't really working. One "friendly" call at the wrong time
for that person can result in several hours of unpaid overtime. A real
friend won't do that to someone.
Try to make calls
only in those situations
where a phone call is clearly the best method. And don't think you have
to answer a phone just because it's ringing.
4. Security tip
Most people understand the dangers of being distracted
by a cell phone while driving. This issue has been thoroughly tested and
documented, so let me provide a brief explanation if you don't
The human brain cannot
multi-task. It just doesn't work that way. When you try to do two things
at once, your brain has to switch between those tasks. There are
switching costs associated with this.
In one study, people sat in a test room with
monitoring equipment and took on the role of drivers. Every single one
of them had periods of "brain suspension," in which they actually did
not process visual information. In this study, people carried on a
conversation via cell phone, and then also with a person sitting next to
them. The results were the same.
The reason for the blindness that carrying on a
conversation uses some of the same brain resources that seeing does.
Ordinarily, you don't have a problem with the switching issue. But when
hurtling along the highway at 70 MPH or trying to make split-second
decisions in city traffic, the switching can cause enough of a delay in
your response to prove fatal to you or to that child who just ran in
front of your car.
Lesson: If you're driving in any situation where
you may need to suddenly stop or swerve, shut up. Alert your passenger(s)
by saying something like, "This looks dicey. I need a few seconds of
quiet so I can drive safely."
So much for talking and driving at the same time.
What about walking and talking at the same time? That brings up a common
fallacy about cell phones. Criminologists are reporting that people
used to avoid bad areas of town or dangerous conditions, but now feel emboldened because they have
their cell phones with them (apparently failing to understand the adage,
"When seconds count, the cops are only minutes away.").
The one group that has shifted behavior the
most this way is--can you guess? Teens. They are busy texting and are
almost oblivious to their surroundings. They don't notice the suspicious
man or the car that has jumped the median.
If you're in a dangerous place, put the phone
away. It won't help you. Being alert and then adjusting according to
whatever is out of place is what you need to be doing. And you can't do
that if your attention is on a conversation.
Here's a parting thought. Have you ever heard any
coach tell an athlete, "Keep your eye on the ball and your cell
phone and the spectator in the fourth row, and be thinking about what
you plan on doing tomorrow...."?
going to go out on a limb here and take a wild guess that you have heard
only, "Keep your eye on the ball." Why do coaches insist on focus,
instead of multi-tasking? You know the reason, so keep yourself safe by
focusing in any situation in which proper attention is paramount to your
5. Health tip/Fitness tips
- A starfish doesn't have a brain. So, it has much in common with your
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7. Thought for the Day
If you're stewing over a wrong done to you, the other
person doesn't need your forgiveness nearly as much as you need to
Wishing you the best,
The views expressed in this e-newsletter are generally not shared by criminals, zombies, or brainwashed individuals.
Except where noted, this e-newsletter is entirely the work of Mark Lamendola. Anything presented as fact can be independently verified. Often, sources are given; but where not given, they are readily available to anyone who makes the effort.
Mark provides information from either research or his own areas of established expertise. Sometimes, what appears to be a personal opinion is the only possibility when applying sound logic--reason it out before judging! (That said, some personal opinions do appear on occasion).
The purpose of this publication is to inform and empower its readers (and save you money!).
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