Category Archives: Eliminating Excess

There’s No Place Like Home

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Image (c) cristian ruberti from

If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.

– Ram Dass

In the US, November is a time for family — we go to them, they come to us, or maybe everyone just gets to the table at the same time. Later this month, I’ll be traveling over the river and through the woods, to spend a few days with my nearest and dearest.

As holidays approach, my anxiety level sometimes shoots up. Yours, too? Stress increases as home and family obligations pile on top of regular work. Emotions run high. Expectations and hopes can call for one scenario, while life delivers another.

I suggest we take this opportunity to think about goals for the coming holiday season. It works like goal setting in your business:

  • Get clear about everything you’d like.
  • Determine what’s essential and what’s optional.
  • Focus on the essential.

While a golden turducken deep fried in peanut oil would maybe be awesome (would it?), the essential goal is a dinner to gather and delight the people closest to us.

In family life as in business, there are distractions and irritations pretty much every day. There are also opportunities to get closer to our heart’s desire. Practice keeping your focus on what matters most, and letting the small stuff swim by.

Begin with this planning exercise:

  • Write down everything you’d like during the the holidays this year.
  • Then highlight what’s really required to make it a celebration that pleases you.
  • Schedule those things.
  • Make a regular review of your list to make sure you get the things that really matter.

Some of the other things, those “non-required” things, will come your way, too, almost without effort. But you don’t have to stress about them because they aren’t your big priorities. Save your focused attention for the essentials.

The way you plan your business will be the way you plan your life. Now is an excellent time to practice.

What’s essential to your happy holidays?




Worth Repeating – October 2014

Happy Harvest Time! In this monthly feature called “Worth Repeating,” I’ve harvested a small crop of posts from recent Octobers that  feel as fresh as when they were first written. Because when it comes to good productivity practices, we can all benefit from a little reminder. Next weekend, most residents of the United States will… Continue Reading

I Would Have Written Less If I’d Had More Time – why a shorter business plan is better

I’d have written a shorter letter, but I didn’t have the time. — French author Blaise Pascal Once in a while someone gets the wrong idea. They hear that I teach owners of very small businesses how to make a one- to two-page plan, and they conclude that it’s a “business plan lite.” But in… Continue Reading

Essential Office Supplies (& How To Make Sure You Don’t Run Short)

Is there anything as bad than running out of basic office supplies? Yes, there is. It’s having a ten-year supply of hanging files consuming all your storage space since someone accidentally ordered three cases instead of boxes. Managing your inventory of essential office supplies shouldn’t consume a lot of time or brain power. If you’re… Continue Reading

Cruel and unusual management (or, how to stop being the worst boss you’ve ever had)

Most entrepreneurs place a high value on freedom. And most of us can tell bitter tales about “that horrible boss” we once had, back in corporate days of yore. But was that “horrible boss” anywhere near as demanding, critical, and unforgiving as YOU are, as your OWN boss? Did she make you stay up till… Continue Reading

How to say goodbye to a beloved (business) child

Come with me in the way-back machine, to a time very different from today. I’m thinking of 2009. As the year began, Lehman Brothers had recently collapsed and everyone had learned the phrases “mortgage-backed securities” and “toxic assets,” even if we didn’t know exactly what they meant. For a time the business world held its… Continue Reading

Why I Love To Help People Get Organized

Order is the shape upon which beauty depends. – Pearl Buck One of the most alarming people I’ve spoken to recently was a young woman who thought she might want to become a professional organizer. What she really wanted was to lay down the law, boss people around, and plumb everyone up. I carefully explained… Continue Reading

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