The common cold – and happy thoughts #6

Sandpaper, nails, a jackhammer, and a tidal wave.  The ingredients of the common cold which has beset me this week, afflicting my throat, eyes, neck/head, and nose.  Although, of course, as at least half of the people likely to read this will understand, it was really manflu and consequently a potentially lethal biohazard.

But if the last few days have been plague-ridden, what better moment to think positive and look for the happy thoughts? This week I’ve been introduced to biomechanics and how to improve my posture and gait – ideally becoming rather more flexible than an oak tree.  I’m looking forward to progressing and heartily recommend it.

Some years ago, in the dark days before the Blackberry or the iPhone, when we were ‘off sick’ we were physically separated from work and had the chance to peacefully recuperate – although often all that happened was that the work piled up and we just had more to do when we got back.  Whilst at home for a couple of days this week I had my Blackberry and could keep the plates spinning with a instant meesage here and an email there – this is probably better for the business, and it meant less of a backlog for my return, but did it help my work/life balance?

Likewise, when we are on our holidays, is there a fine line between relaxation and separation anxiety? We want to be thought of as invaluable, but is ‘workaholic’ any better an epithet?

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Happy thoughts #5 – and a bit more philosophy

“Procrastination is the thief of time.”

For a long time I didn’t understand exactly how putting something off to another day could actually cost me time, but once I understood the meaning I started to look at it more deeply:

  • if I put something off until tomorrow, or next week, or some future date, then I’ve spent time today in thinking about it and making a decision to postpone the action.  In reality this (and the time I’ll spend thinking about the delayed matter) is time which I could have used towards the task (even if I couldn’t have finished it); or
  • if someone else delays dealing with a task from which I require the output then my time is stolen in chasing, remediating, explaining, or even just managing the delay.  (There is the deeper question of managing expectations, but perhaps that is for another day.)

Outside of work this can range from simply tedious to deeply frustrating; overall – work included – time thefts can directly be related to financial costs, and can even affect the bottom line.

Is the message, therefore, not to put off until tomorrow what we can reasonably do today?  I think that’s an entirely reasonable position, and it’s directly related to my happy thought for the week.

My diary got crunched at both ends this week and so yesterday I ended up going for a run at lunchtime (hard intervals) and another in the afternoon (slower and longer, but with a powerful finish).  I had thought about postponing one or the other but I’m glad I didn’t: I felt really good after the second, both mentally and physically. And so my happy thought is all about my running – and the fact that I didn’t succumb to the subtle lure of procrastination.

And the thought to ponder: what will you now do today that you would otherwise have put off?

Happy thoughts #4 (and a bit of philosophy)

Two weeks into the new year and Christmas seems so long ago.  Do we wish our lives away, lurching from weekend to weekend, from one public holiday to the next, and ultimately from vacation to vacation?  Is there merit in saving for a rainy day, or should we live for the moment?  Is it better to regret what we did, or rue the opportunities that we missed?

This moment will only come once, this day will never be repeated, so should we be more concerned with what we can do and achieve today than being the donkey chasing the elusive carrot?  That’s not to say that we shouldn’t lay the foundations for something bigger and better, or strive to complete today’s part of a much bigger task, but is yearning for the next day off enriching our lives?

Rudyard Kipling’s “If” encapsulates this concept in the last few lines (and maybe you’ll be inspired to read the rest of the poem):

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

And it is partly in this context that I like to think of my happy thoughts – what has made this week special, and not simply the filler between Sunday and Saturday?  A couple of good runs – one of five miles over particularly hilly terrain, and another of four where I pushed a friend to do it in a personal best time (of recent years anyway).

Still on the same theme, I’m going to fill the unforgiving minute – and with Amy’s help and encouragement I’m going to register for a 10k.  I might post details when it’s complete,

Happy thoughts #3

I can’t believe that it’s Friday again (or very early on Saturday): this last week has flown by! And this week it would be difficult to say that my happy thought is anything other than Christmas.

But what of Christmas? What made it special?

  • fun times with friends on Christmas Eve,
  • a great Christmas day,
  • the amount of thought which had gone into the gifts I received from friends, and
  • (of course) the excuse to eat, drink, and be merry.

Maybe I’m cheating slightly on the premise of just having one happy thought for the week, but it’s Christmas.

(For an explanation about happy thoughts have a read of Happy Thoughts #1 or click on the tag below.)

Happy thoughts #2

It has been a bit of a strange week: the classic run-up to Christmas with the typical organisational behaviours, for example people using up their leave at the end of the year – or otherwise absent.

And after a rather protracted week, culminating in Christmas eve eve, it’s now time for ten days away from work. Ten days full of chocolate, food, alcohol, and no doubt the odd present or two.

So to this week’s happy thought: last Saturday was meant to be the busiest shopping day before Christmas – and yet the news announced the same thing for today.  Despite the prospect of being trampled to death by marauding shoppers, we had a weekend in London for retail therapy (Westfield), restaurant therapy (Lebanese – and rather nice), and alcohol therapy (enough said). It was very pleasant, and a worthy happy thought.

(For an explanation about happy thoughts have a read of Happy Thoughts #1.)

Happy thoughts #1

One of the traditions that my eldest brother has with his family is that they share ‘Happy Thoughts’ over their Friday night dinner.  The simple rule is that the happy thought must relate to something which has happened during the previous seven days, and each person picks just one thing.  I rather like this tradition and on some Fridays, especially when I’m not with Stephen and family, I’ll post my happy thought here.

This week’s happy thought: doing a 5 mile run (in the howling wind and rain!) last Sunday in a personal best time.

What’s yours?