Ballet, Cakes and Ants

balletshoesThis morning, I dropped my daughter off at the theater for her ballet dress rehearsal. She just turned six. Costume and all. It’s incredibly cute. And hard to believe for someone who is is flexible like a brick that they have fun doing all this. They do because it’s easy for them.

All other parents seem to know where to go and what to do. That’s another thing that’s not easy for me, knowing what’s going on. Reading all the emails that tell about schedule and room changes is one thing, remembering another. So I am standing here after we’ve rushed from A to B to C, back to B and over to E. I am sweating. We made it, even in time. Everything is okay, but it could have been easier.

Parents are not allowed behind the scenes -I didn’t know – and so I am standing here, waiting and writing this post. I may not publish it. I may change it a hundred times. I may also delete everything I just wrote. But you’ll never notice. That happens behind my scenes.

Ten minutes later, talking to the other parents I realize most of them don’t know what is going on either. One guy admitted he was following me because he thought I looked like I knew where I had to go.
Not sure how he got that impression. It was nice to learn that I am not alone, though. We all struggle. You see it when you get granted a look behind the scenes.

One day years ago, we returned home just to find an entire ant invasion coming through some crack in the wall. They formed a thick black line straight from the crack to a spot in the middle of the living room. That’s where I must have dropped a cake crumble the day before. They were in a straight line! Crack to cake. Those were tiny ants. Imagine ant, less than a 1/10 of an inch (about 2 mm). Distance crack to wall about 15 feet. That’s like if you and your friends managed to find a giant cake within a three mile (5 kilometers) radius in the middle of a deep forest. You also established the shortest distance between the cake and your cabin while bringing pieces back to your cabin. All that without any tools or devices at all!

Incredible, isn’t it?

That is until you see the very first ant. (more…)

June 14th, 2015|

Pronounceable Serial Numbers

Serial-NumberYesterday at my local coffee shop, I realized how many variations there are for some names. Bob, John, Brian, and also Alex are simple. But Catherine, Carry, or Jasmine allow for quite many variations. Here are – just for fun and absolutely not related to recent news – some ways to write another name: Kaitlyn, Katelyn, Kaitlin, Katelynn, Katlyn, Kaitlynn, Katelin, Katlynn, Kaitlin, Caitlyn, Caitlynn. While our names are supposed to be pronounceable (or in shout- and scream-able), serial numbers are not.

But why not?


June 2nd, 2015|Tags: |

The Old Nine To Five – TwitterTuesday

TT-9to5As it has it with Twitter you start following one person in a specific niche and then you get all these suggestions of other people in the same niche. At times I don’t check who I follow and accept all of Twitter’s suggestions. Somehow that brought me into the realm of freedom loving 9 to 5 haters.

Some blame modern media for the short attention span many of us suffer under,  I would rather say my indifference to things I don’t care about is the reason,  but regardless of what or who is to blame,  I am having a hard time recalling the details of their posts. The gist is that 9 to 5 is bad and we all can be free and make money without being tied to an office. Without sarcasm and just from experience that means we probably transition to be stuck in our home office for 12 hours a day instead. Be it 8 to 5, 9 to 6, or 7 to 7, the #9to5 (aka regular work) has good things to offer as well.

And so I’d like to help you through the work week with my favorite tweets  for this week: (more…)

April 7th, 2015|Tags: , |

What Would You Do With 100 Hours?

Stop-CnLWhat would you do if somebody gave you 100 hours? I don’t mean 100 hours of some membership or rollover minutes in your mobile phone plan. I mean if you had 100 hours that you could spend any way you want. As if somebody bought you out of your usual obligations. For all the 9 to 5ers among us that could be two and a half weeks not spent in the office or your car or meeting clients. But I am not talking about vacation. That would be too easy.

What would you do if you suddenly had 100 hours to spend on whatever you want in your everyday life?

I realized last week that this is the case for me right now. I suddenly have a couple of hours every day when I am free to do what I want. And, to be honest, I am already about 20 hours in and have to admit that this is more difficult than I thought.  As so often I greatly overestimated my energy and underestimated the time it takes to do stuff, especially after work. I have just moved and a lot of things I promised to do had to be postponed for after the move. And now I suddenly have more time than I thought. No excuses for me.

Anyway, as I found myself last weekend with the perspective to have so much time at my hand, I was wondering what others would do with the time. Of course, I asked my friend Google “How would you spend 100 hours”: (more…)

April 6th, 2015|

Dear Outlook, you still suck! … or not?

Ole-Olook 210There is a saying in German “Man trifft sich zwei mal im Leben”, which means so much as “You always meet twice”. I don’t know what your first thoughts are when you read these words. I always took them as true advice to treat every person you ever meet well because you’ll never know in what situation you’ll meet them again. For meeting them, you will. In other words, in the sense of never burn any bridges. Karma is a bitch. I absolutely believe that. What goes around, comes around, eventually.

However, just a month ago I met an old friend (not), who I thought I would never ever see again: Outlook

I can remember for my first job that involved a lot of email communication, coming from clunky webmail, I was out of my mind happy to use Outlook. I could finally write emails just like I wrote a letter in Word. I would have a calendar and task reminders, and…
Well, yes and an ever-growing archive file that included all my saved emails (*.pst). To save valuable hard disk space (the olden days…) you had to be brave and delete the ones you didn’t deem important. And because it was impossible to find even the ones you kept ever again, you had to print out important emails and file them at physical locations. Well, then Gmail came around with the promise you’d never have to delete an email again, with filters, labels, the possibility to use Gmail with your company’s email address (Send via Gmail), with plugins like active inbox , and so much more. Life was good.

After almost a decade without it, I was sure I would never have to use Outlook again. In fact, I didn’t know Outlook was still around. But you know, you always meet twice.

One new job later and there it sits on my computer. And not much has changed. (more…)

March 17th, 2015|Tags: , |

Time To Look Back

jumpYour team just barely made the deadline. It was a struggle and despite the best planning a lot of things went wrong.

You think so much could have been handled differently, but now is not the right time to ruin the party you might think?

I respectfully disagree. Now is the best an probably the only time to look back at all the mishaps and reasons for why this was such a struggle.

One of the best chances for improvement lay in the few days after a completed project.

The memory is still fresh and everyone is most forgiving. (more…)

November 30th, 2014|

Show Gratitude

autumnleafGratitude doesn’t happen once a year. It isn’t something you practice only at home.
Exhibiting gratitude in business and at work shouldn’t be weird. The appreciation for your customers will serve you as a daily reminder for whom you are serving. It will become a habit if you internalize it.
And most of all, it will eventually show and serve your customers as a reminder on their side to why they are working with you.

Despite everything what we may not like about our job, there are always a lot of reasons to come back every day. Appreciate those. Every day.
Show it and give credit whenever you can.  Eventually, the reasons to come back will multiply, because appreciation is contagious.

November 23rd, 2014|

Don’t Read If You Enjoy Waiting In Line!


Everything has it’s time. We have productive and unproductive hours. I accept that now. I am also slowly managing to accept when I don’t accomplish what I had planned. But I am having quite a hard time accepting when I feel like my time is wasted by the hands of others.

I mean, who likes that?

We don’t like waiting in line forever when we just want to pay for a few items. We don’t like traffic jams because we want to get home. We also don’t like to be surveyed on the phone, because we want to continue doing what we did before we accidentally picked up the phone.

And I don’t appreciate sitting through meetings when half of the agenda remains untouched because we lost track of time. Have you ever been too late to work although you accidentally woke up 15 minutes too early? Same effect. If everyone thinks, they have plenty of time they will take more than they should. (more…)

November 16th, 2014|Tags: |

Deconstructing the Email Myth

The-email-mythProductive people hate email. If you pay attention to productivity tips at all, then you’ve likely read too many posts about email hacks already. The email inbox ranks high on the nuisance scale. The average person it seems spends way too much time with their emails. I think that is a myth.

So how comes that virtually every blogger who writes about modern life has written at least one ‘email strategy post’ over the last year? And isn’t it ironic, when at the same time all these bloggers ask you to sign up for their newsletters?

I don’t want to be a hypocrite here. Yes, I also ask you for your email address and I also write about managing our email inbox. Yet, with this post I want to question how much of a problem email actually is. It is not the email inbox that’s the problem, is it?

How much trouble do you really have with your email inbox?

Before I get to the problem,  I want to talk about why email is still one of the best means of communication.

For me personal one-on-one communication tops everything. Then why don’t we meet everyone in person?
Because we can’t.

Yet, we can reach literally everyone via email. And that makes email so appealing. Unlike with a phone call or meeting, your recipient doesn’t have to be available at the time you want to communicate. The other huge advantage of email is that you can reach a lot of people at the same time. And unlike a video or audio broadcast it doesn’t require much setup, cost or effort. Our email inbox is still something very personal to us which makes email a more personal way of communication than it often is. If you see it from the sender’s side it means that sending an email is a way to get close to someone whom you don’t even know. And that is why everyone asks you for your email (me included).

So what is your problem with emails? (more…)

November 12th, 2014|

Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN)

VPN-TunnelBearAlthough I knew what a virtual private network (VPN) was, I wasn’t aware how simple it has become to set one up. And as with many tools you only realize what you can do with them when you use them the first time. Such was the case just recently with VPN.

I was sad that I couldn’t watch short web clips about European Soccer Games here in the U.S. although they are free to watch in EU countries. IPs outside of Europe are simply restricted from accessing these videos. So I tested the Tunnel Bear app just to watch some soccer and loved it because it was so simple to use.

A traveling friend suggested Tunnel Bear because she used it while traveling abroad. With Tunnel Bear she can access sites in the US that are restricted in some of the Asian countries she visited. YouTube is one example. Her employer’s server can also only be accessed with an US IP address.

I am not an expert on VPN software. When I recommend Tunnel Bear then not because I compared it to all other VPN services, but because it couldn’t be easier to use. I love how it looks and I like the attitude. I’ve used it over a week now and the app works great. Here is a good review about Tunnel Bear along with many other tested VPN services. My main point of this post is that using a VPN makes a lot of sense even when you are not traveling. (more…)

November 9th, 2014|Tags: |
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