Productivity

I feel extremely compelled to write this morning.  Productivity has been heavy on my mind this week, and it was reinforced this morning during my run.  I’m only giving myself 10 minutes for this, though.

My blog is currently in the middle of a series entitled “Creating a Fitness Routine.” If you haven’t read about our process check out the three posts here:

I have to admit that staying productive can be tough for me.  Most days at work we’re very busy with the tree work, training, and keeping things up and running efficiently.  But when I sit at the office in front of a computer there are so many things reaching out for my attention:  Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader, email (personal, business), and that doesn’t even include news sites so I can know what’s going on in the world. 

How is a man supposed to concentrate when everything is so readily available?

This isn’t new information, but maybe just a reminder.  Or maybe it’s just me processing this on my blog.  What it comes down to is prioritizing.  For me the question is not “What do I do first?”  The better question is “What do I not do?” 

  • I don’t need to have email open all day.  I can check it 3-4 times rather than always having it in real-time.
  • I don’t need to have Twitter open all day.  Checking for 5 minutes twice per day is plenty.
  • My Google Reader will keep those items stored and unread, also for the end of the day or even better the weekend.  

I know this post may not make sense to my readers, so sorry for the little rant here.  If I were giving this more than 10 minutes I’d explain more of what I’m doing (specifically) to stay productive. 

For now, I’ll just tell you that saying no to email and Twitter is a good thing (albeit very difficult).  My Moleskine notebook is my best friend.  And I’ll live today with my favorite line from one of my favorite books, Four Pillars of a Man’s Heart:

“Organize and lead.  I say it again, organize and lead.”

Any successful leader must first be able to lead himself.

Creating A Fitness Routine – Part 3: Keeping Records

If you’re new to our series on becoming more fit, please check out the first few posts.  In part one we talked about how we’ve all failed at fitness in the past.  We all do it – just admit your with the rest of us and move on.  Failure is critical component to success.  It wasn’t the first time you failed and it won’t be the last.  (We’ll be getting into this later in part six.)  In part two we talked about SMART goals.  As an experienced personal trainer I feel this is top-three important!  Working out for the sake of working out very rarely works – so don’t try to be the exception.  Read about creating a SMART goal and you’ll find a lot about yourself and your motivation.

In this post I’d like to talk about record keeping.  One of the biggest challenges I have is keeping good records for my clients.  Doctors have nurses and administrative assistants to take notes and update records.  But it’s up to me and me alone to take notes during my sessions with clients and then record them on their programs so that we know where we’ve been, what we’ve discussed, and new developments and goals as the come up.

And you?  Maybe you’re not the detail orientated person for the job.  But you should be – and here’s why.  Writing down what you’ve accomplished is a great way to reflect on the physical activity you’ve done.  It also ensures you have accurate records for two, six, eighteen months down the road.  Even if you have a perfect memory I guarantee you’ll appreciate looking back at your workouts in a couple years to reflect on where you’ve been.

This record keeping can take various forms.  Do what works best for you.  Some examples:

Google Documents – you can share (online) with friends, family, trainers (like me)
Word or Excel file on your computer
DailyMile.com – the Facebook for athletes in training
Journal – I love my Moleskin notebook
Or whatever works for you.

So what will it be?  Give it a try and tell me how you’re making it work.

Creating a Fitness Routine Part 2 – Goal Setting

This is part two of our J2K Fitness Challenge.  In part one we talked about how we can learn about ourselves in our failures, and that in fact failure is essential for success.  I ended part one with instructions to write down some obstacles that have gotten in the way of your training programs in the past.
Now with those in the back of our mind, let’s start writing some goals.  Goals, both short and long term, are extremely important in creating a fitness routine.  In college as I was learning about physical and health education we learned about S.M.A.R.T. goals.  At first it seemed a little over the top, but over the years I’ve come to realize how important each component is to the success of your goal.
S.M.A.R.T. Goals:
Specific           (What *specifically* do you want to happen)
Measurable     (How will you know when you’ve accomplished your goal?)
Attainable        (Is your goal within reach but still challenging?)
Relevant          (Is it your goal or someone else’s; how does it fit in your life?)
Timely             (To be completed next week, next month or next year?)

Without a goal we will never accomplish what’s important to us.  The world distracts us in many different ways, so we need to focus.  And when we establish a goal, it needs to have the five SMART components.
Take that sheet of paper and start formulating your S.M.A.R.T. goals.  Nothing is written in stone, remember?  You may write these goals and then make some changes a few weeks into the program.  Life is a series of adjustments.  But we’ll continue our J2K Challenge by writing some goals.

Creating a Fitness Routine Part 1

Admit it – you haven’t had that much success in this area.  You’ve had a few exercise routines come and go over the years.  Maybe you’ve tried running or getting on the bike, but it didn’t last more than a couple weeks.  You’ve tried some diets that didn’t produce the results you expected.  And weight lifting – after a week you were so sore you never made it back to the gym.


Score:  Intentions 44  

            Results   0
Deep inside everyone knows they could be a little healthier.  We all want to eat a little better and workout a little more.  We have something to prove to ourselves.  Forget the guy at work who always gets a good workout in – we have something to prove to ourself!


This is the first article in a new series called J2K.  Kind of catchy, right?  J2K.  It’s a project for you, by you, with me.  But mostly it’s for you.  This is a story you’re going to write about your fitness experience.  “But Hans my fitness experience, if I’m really honest, has been a story of failure.”  I’m with you.  I’ve failed too.  But luckily history provides proof that even when we fail, we can still learn and succeed.  Here’s how the J2K Fitness Challenge derives its name.

Virgin Atlantic Airways is an airline owned by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin label, a forward-thinking business group known to be highly innovative.  In 2000 they made a $67 million investment to create sleeper seats, reclining seats for their business class.  

Although sleeper seats had long existed in first class, airlines had not yet adopted them for business class. Virgin was the first to announce it would be offering “a bed in business,” says Joe Ferry, Virgin’s head of design, who led the design of the J2000 seats. Within a year, however, Virgin’s idea was one-upped by its chief competitor, British Airways PLC (BAB ), which rolled out a truly flat bed. While customers were initially enthusiastic about the J2000, some complained about sliding and discomfort. In the end, says McCallum, it “was wildly unsuccessful. Everybody acknowledged that it was not as good a product as our principal competitors’.” Agrees Ferry: “We were an also-ran, which didn’t really sit well with us.”

But Ferry didn’t get fired.  In fact, CEO Gordon McCallum entrusted Ferry with more money – $127 million to over-haul the upper-class seats.  The new version, launched in 2003, has been a solid success.  Called the “upper-class suite,” Ferry’s makeover made a design leap beyond merely being flat.  Flight attendants flip over teh back and seat cushions to make the bed, allowing for different foam consistencies for sitting and sleeping.  While Ferry hoped the new seats would eventually improve Virgin’s business-class market share by 1%, they’ve already exceeded that goal.  (Source: businessweek.com)


Failure is not the end of the story.  Many leadership experts and business professionals would testify that failure is in fact necessary for success.  So we begin J2K with a look at our failure.


When you think back to your attempts at creating an exercise program for yourself, what has gotten in the way?  What’s made your routine fall apart?  What one aspect would you do differently to improve your chances at success?


The first part of the J2K Fitness Challenge is to get one piece of paper for some thoughts.  Write “J2K Fitness Challenge” at the top and brain-storm a couple reasons why exercise hasn’t worked for you in the past.  That’s it.  Come back in a couple days and we’ll talk about what to do with those thoughts and we’ll formulate some goals.  But not just any goals – we’ll formulate S.M.A.R.T. Goals.

Training Log: I Use DailyMile.com

After three seasons of running, it looks like this summer will be an off-season for me.  I’ve really enjoyed the different challenges of each race.  But Katie and I are expecting our second child this April and that means our household will be busier than ever.  Time for training will be hard to come by, so I’m planning on a much lighter exercise routine.

But as a personal trainer I have come to find great joy in helping others experience success and a healthier lifestyle.  I’ve promoted this lifestyle and these runs (half and full marathons) and a few members of our extended family have taken the challenge and joined me in these different races.  This season I’m focusing on two of these people, Jess and her dad Kevin.  Jess is the finance of Katie’s brother Grant.  Kevin is her dad.

I’ve found a great website that will be helping us stay in contact with our workouts.  It’s called DailyMile and it’s free!  If you use Facebook you’ll see the similarities.  Once you create a profile (which you can link to Facebook) you find other friends who join your News Feed.  When your friends post a workout or make a comment (“note”) it shows up in your News Feed under “You and Friends.” 

I am really impressed with the way technology is allowing us to create community in the exercise and fitness industry.  Sure, it can get overwhelming.  But with a little discipline and initiative it’s possible to start a couple accounts on social networks and create some community as you get fit.

What I Learned From the Haiti Challenge

This Haiti Challenge has been a mini-series on The Game Plan.  I’ve really enjoyed it and it’s made me think of the project from many different angles.

It helped people: 10 days ago this money hadn’t been given.  The need arose, people responded, and money was donated.  People benefited from our work.

Teamwork wins:  I’m very proud of the fact that my efforts in combination with the efforts of my team produced more dollars than would have been donated with just one person. Some would have donated anyway, some donated after reading the Challenge.  We formed a team.

Not everyone will join:  My biggest frustration and learning moment is that not everyone will join the cause, as good and as necessary as it may be.  I admitted in my first post of this series that,

It’s too easy to pass up opportunities to help.  I’ve done it so many times in the past.

I knew only a small percentage of my friends on Facebook and the blog would respond.  My blog has a small readership, and I know I have exactly 416 friends of Facebook.  But I honestly thought I could get at least 20-30 people to donate $5 or $10.  This honestly baffles me.  Maybe it shouldn’t b/c I’ve passed on other similar opportunities to give.  It’s leaving a sour taste in my mouth, so I’m done digitally processing this thought.

(Alright, tt’s still pissing me off)

People appreciate a good story:  I thoroughly enjoy researching a topic and presenting it to my readers and friends.  This story of course was a global disaster, but I took it and organized a sub-story for people to join.  If I’m frustrated with those who didn’t join, I’m equally joyful with those who did.  They joined my story. 

Social Media will be a platform for really good things:  Not everyone is into Twitter and Facebook.  I hope they will see how quickly good information and stories can spread if we get involved in networks that are so viral.  And texting generated so much money.  Technology can be such a powerful tool.

Every cause needs a champion:  I’m not saying I championed this Haiti cause, but I moved towards it.  For 7 days I was a leader for a really good cause.  This disaster will pass, recovery will happen.  In the big picture this is a small story.  Serious but small.  What are the bigger stories?  What stories need to be told?  What stories need a champion?  How has God gifted you or given you experiences that have drawn you towards a cause or problem that needs to be solved?

I’m not going to go back and delete that point about my frustration with those who didn’t join.  I know many may read it and be turned off by my harsh words, but I can live with that.  My frustration is equally directed at myself b/c in years past I haven’t put my money where my heart was.  Hypocrite?  No.  I’m learning and I’m growing.  I’m willing to challenge people to excellence even if I can’t always produce it myself.  I want to be in the game and leading myself and those I love towards goals that are bigger than ourselves.

Jack wrote his check to World Vision on Friday.  I wrote my checks this morning – $45 each to World Vision, Compassion, and Red Cross.  Thanks for reading about this Haiti Challenge.  Let’s continue to do good things and cheer each other on to greatness.

Final Numbers for the Haiti Challenge

There was no way I was going to process the reports from Haiti and not do anything.  It was impossible.  Over a two day period I watched Twitter and glanced at nytimes and cnn.com.  I saw the tragedy unfolding and knew that as a God-fearing man and father of a little boy that it was my responsibility to take action.  Families were being torn apart and forced into extreme conditions.  It was my obligation to assist in whatever way I could to the relief efforts. 

What I did was not revolutionary.  It wasn’t even my idea.  I was reading my Twitter feed and saw that Bebo Norman (singer from Nashville) was donating $5 for every person that mentioned that a link where you could donate: 

Help Haiti. Donate to Compassion’s Disaster Relief. Roshare & I will give $5 for every person that RT’s this link http://bit.ly/8VNyfF from TweetDeck

Bebo has 5,000+ people “following” him, so you can do the math and see how their bill could add up really quickly.  But the idea inspired me.  I talked to Katie about us donating, and then I decided to create my own Haiti Challenge.

I’m happy to report that my team raised $133 in six days.  The challenge was posted on Facebook and on my blog.  One of my blog readers then decided to match whatever I had to match.  So “Jack” is contributing $133.

Our grand total is $399!  Sorin just found four quarters in our couch, so you can tell people that the Haiti Challenge raised $400. 

I would like to thank each person who joined my team for this effort.  When people work together for a single cause, big things can happen.  $400 isn’t even a drop in the bucket for the problems in Haiti, but that money will certainly provide assistance to someone who needs it a whole lot more than we do.

(Stay tuned: my next post will include additional thoughts about this project and I’ll report when I write the check and where it goes.)

Last Day for Haiti Challenge

Tuesday January 19th will be the final day of my Haiti Relief Challenge.  In my last post, I challenged my readers here and on Facebook to donate to one of three organizations: World Vision, Compassion International, or Red Cross.  I asked them to post how much they donated (suggested $5 or $10) and I would match their gift.

 
(picture courtesy of Ruth Fremson NYTimes: Quikani Alakassis, 21, gave her 4-month-old daughter, Kiana Jean Baptiste, water from a bottle distributed by soldiers with the 82nd Airborne as she sits in her makeshift shelter on the grounds of the Pétionville Club.)

BREAKING NEWS::  one reader (“Jack”) has been inspired by this campaign and has offered to match what I’m matching!!    This means that if someone donates $10, I turn it into $20 and then Jack turns it into $30!  How cool is that?!?  Inspiration is a powerful thing.  There’s also power in numbers.  Do you know someone who might want to join our team?  Please pass this on and tell them that they can join anonymously by posting at the bottom (comments) of this blog. 

And thank Jack for Jack-ing up the donation!!!
Haiti needs our help.  Please consider a $5 donation.  

 (Photo courtesy of Damon Winter NYTimes: Quake survivors fight over goods that were taken from a destroyed home supplies store.)
(Photo courtesy of Ricardo Arduengo NYTimes: An injured boy in a hospital bed in Port-au-Prince. Many hospitals were destroyed, and those that were not are swamped.) 
 

(Photo courtesy of Damon Winter NYTimes: Marie François, in the foreground, who lost three of her six children, waits with a son and daughter for a delivery of fortified biscuits from the World Food Program.)

(Photo courtesy of Ruth Fremson NYTimes: Soldiers with the 82nd Airborne and members of the Navy loaded helicopters with food and water.)

(Photo courtesy of Ivanoh Demers)

Haiti Challenge

I admit I haven’t done much reading on this disaster in Haiti.  I’m just sitting down to write about thoughts that have been going through my mind for 24 hours with no time to process.  Yesterday the recurring theme on Twitter was, “Watching scenes from Haiti.  Wow.  Shocked.  Praying for Haiti.”

From where I sit on a daily basis I get my news from Twitter.  I fire up my iPod Touch and read “tweets” from people who make sense to me.  But this post is NOT about Twitter.  It’s about people’s reactions to the world.  My Twitter feed has given me a very unique perspective on this event from people who I highly respect.  I don’t hear from strangers.  I hear from very intelligent, thoughtful, and caring people.  And their response has been one of awe, compassion and action.  And that is what this post is about – action.

My life has changed since Sorin was born. The thought of my son suffering is unbearable.  And when I look at cnn.com and nytimes.com and see the photos of Haiti, I see news through a new lens now – awe.  I see it through the parent’s lens, and I know each person suffering is someone’s child.  And they need help.

As I said, I haven’t done much reading on this.  But really, what do you need to know?  You need to see pictures and hear a couple stories of what’s happening.  From the nytimes.com:

“You can’t do anything about the dead bodies, but inside many of these buildings people may still be alive. And their time is running out.”

–Eduardo A. Fierro, a structural engineer
inspecting quake-damaged buildings

Their time is running out.  I’m sitting on a laptop computer, sore from a hard day’s work, and ready to get some sleep.  But their time is running out.  

Compassion.

I have no other stories to share.  Do you really need one?  My purpose is very simple:  action.  It’s too easy to pass up opportunities to help.  I’ve done it so many times in the past.  Not this time.  I was inspired by Bebo Norman’s tweet where he said that he would donate $5 for everyone who repeated his plea (on Twitter) for financial support to Compassion International.  My challenge is this:  

  • donate $5 or $10 to World Vision, Compassion International, or the Red Cross (texting “disaster” or “Haiti” to 90999 will take it right out of your phone bill)
  • write on my Facebook wall that you did this (or comment on this blog post)
  • I will match your gift 

I started the challenge this morning, and I have 4 partners on my team

If you’d like to forward this blog post to someone who may be interested, please copy and paste right after you visit one of the three websites above.

Awe   =>>  Compassion   =>>   Action

3 Words for Twenty-10

I think new years resolutions set you up to fail.  Have you ever actually kept one past the third week of January?  On the other hand, I’m a big proponent of reflecting often on the details of life – where you’ve been, what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you’re going to do it.  The title of my blog, The Game Plan, should signal my readers that I believe in organizing strategies and executing the plan.  To my core I’m a teacher and coach.

In my last post I talked about articles by Michael Hyatt and Chris Brogan that are exercises in reflecting on the past and planning the future.  I highly recommend both articles.  It’s not too late to put together a plan for 2010.  In fact, I think without the pressure of the first few days of the year you can strategize with a more level head.

Chris Brogan has an exercise he does called 3 Words.  From his post:

Over the last few years, I’ve practiced something I call “my 3 words,” where I come up with three words that I use as guidance for how I should conduct my efforts in the year to come. I set goals around these three words. I build deadlines and projects around these words.

Here’s my 3 words for twenty-10:

catalyst:  A catalyst is someone or something that makes things happen.  I want to take more initiative with my family time (especially with a baby girl on the way).  Catalyst.  I want to add value to people’s lives.  Catalyst.  I want to take Katie out more often.  Catalyst.  I want to create excellent content on my blogs. 

athlete:  I understand the world of athletics; I think in terms of sports.  Athletes are into training, planning, practicing, performing, and then reviewing the whole process and doing it again.  Thinking of the word “athlete” makes me pursue my fitness.  Though I may not compete in a race this year, I want 2010 to be a solid year of training.  Athlete.  I want to prepare for each week (and month) as an athlete prepares for a game.  My life would be much more efficient and enjoyable if I spent a little more time preparing.  Athlete.  I also want to explore the idea of failure.  Athletes fail.  Failure is ok… if you learn from it.  I’m afraid of failure.  But if I fail I will know I’m trying hard and am fully invested.  “I’ve never failed.  I’ve just found 10,000 ways that don’t work.”

coffee:  This is my most abstract word.  Coffee this year reminds me of my morning routine.  Before my family is awake I’m up reading my Bible, journaling about life, reading a good book, and preparing for my day.  Coffee.  I’m also going to pursue a few more meaningful relationships for me and my family.  Coffee.  I want to host friends and family at our house.  Coffee.  I want to get into some strategic relationships with other Christian men who I can do life with.  Coffee.

Disclaimer:  These three words may mean nothing to you, and they can’t be fully understood from this post; it’s not meant to be all-inclusive.  But they have been pondered by me for over a week and I’ve internalized them and started to process them here.  Accountability is good.  Having goals is good.  Failure is ok.  Learning the process to growth is essential.