The Top Commandments of a Superwoman

Achieving a balance between personal life and work life is the ultimate goal of most career men and women. Though a mission hard to accomplish at the onset, you don’t need superpowers to eventually get the drift of an effective system which allows for a truly productive, well-spent, and fairly allocated time for work and play.

Pulling off this balance is a challenge. There’ll be times when the line separating the two will be blurred, and that’s acceptable only to a certain extent. If you find this happening often to you, however, a possible culprit (no kidding!) is your time management. You may consider the thought laughable, but operating on an efficient one will save you from suffering from work overload and stress. There are a lot of what-ifs and could’ve beens that don’t need to arise if only you are more cautious about making use of the time on your hands wisely.

Yes, the time is in your hands, and the only power you actually have within you is the power to control how things go around your clock. Indeed, there may be times when things are beyond your control, but knowing how to work your way around the things you have control with in order to ultimately get your task done is where good time management comes to play.

It can sound really complicated especially since there’s no formula to master the art of time management, and a lot of books on this topic will tell you a lot of different ways to supposedly help you — which can all just get hard to follow in the process and overwhelming in the end. Keep in mind that when it comes to this “craft,” what works for someone else may not work for you and the other way around, so devise a strategy you know is best and, most importantly, doable for you and something you can stick with for the long haul.

Rules To Live By
  1. THOU SHALL BE ORGANIZED. This quality is the greatest ally of time management. Why, when you’re organized, you have everything covered systematically — like having all your schedules (be it tentative!) penciled in on a desk calendar and/or a notebook planner so you’re constantly reminded and therefore don’t miss a thing, ensuring all your important files are properly labeled and stored so that when you need them you won’t have to waste time rummaging through all your stuff, and/or making a tracking sheet of your to-dos with corresponding deadlines so you can not only keep track of your progress but also be aware of your pending tasks — and be able to act on them the soonest possible time.
  2. THOU SHALL BE PROMPT. Having this trait of getting-things-done-when-they-need-to-be done will save you any future hassle. Reply to texts and emails as soon as you can and don’t put it off unless really unavoidable — because otherwise, there’s a big tendency for you to forget it altogether. If you’re not quick to act, your task at hand will carry over to the following day, thus posing a problematic case of domino effect to the next tasks which await you.
  3. THOU SHALL NOT BE LATE. Because when you are, it commonly ruins one’s day. You know what they say, “Start your day right.” What’s more, when you’re late for appointments and meet-ups, you’ve already lost precious time you can never get back, not to mention painting an unpleasant image of yourself for being tardy. As for deadlines, it can never be emphasized enough how important it is to submit on time (even earlier!), so you still have leeway should something unexpected crop up.
  4. THOU SHALL DO A TO-DO LIST. This may be written in a small notepad or notebook, on a cute little whiteboard on your work area, or a note on your tablet. There are different ways to go about this. You can either jot the tasks down on a daily or per period/time frame basis. It will be such a relief to see them getting ticked one by one.
  5. THOU SHALL WORK IN ORDER OF PRIORITY. This tip further expounds on the advantage of a to-do list. Following this hierarchy of sorts makes a big difference in your productivity. Get the big chunk of your work out earliest then work through the moderately heavy stuff, and finally the smallest and lightest ones.
  6. THOU SHALL HAVE YOUR SCHEDULER HANDY. As soon as you find out about a particular meeting/appointment, take note of it right away (and please, don’t just mental note it), and having your organizer with you will immediately help you determine if you’re free or not, plus you get to avoid having overlapping schedules.
  7. THOU SHALL STAY FOCUSED. Don’t let yourself get distracted with everything going on around you. In the workplace, for example, it may work for you if you put on earphones or headphones to eliminate extraneous variables in the environment which could distract your work flow.
  8. THOU SHALL MULTITASK TO A MINIMUM. Sounds contradicting, yes, but when you think about it, it actually makes sense. While it is good to multitask, this habit, when not practiced properly, could only leave you a pile of tasks only half-done. This tip is related to the previous one, as it doesn’t hurt staying focused on one thing first and making sure that’s complete before proceeding to the next. When your head is also clouded with too many thoughts and your full attention is not in what you’re doing, you may produce some mediocre output.
  9. THOU SHALL LEARN WHEN TO SAY “NO” — OR “LATER.” You can’t do everything in a day’s time, so don’t force it. Doing so could only mean wasted time in the end. Postpone unnecessary activities until your work responsibilities are done. If you really can’t say “no” to something, try “later.” When you entertain a distraction, it’s usually hard to regain your momentum or your train of thought.
  10. THOU SHALL GIVE LEEWAY FOR SETBACKS THAT MAY ARISE. When you fix your daily activities, you have to be realistic with your system of scheduling, something you can follow as planned.
  11. THOU SHALL MAKE WAITING TIME USEFUL. Personally, I hate doing nothing at any given time which I feel could actually be useful for something. I suggest you always bring stuff that can serve you well, like a book to read, or a tablet to surf the Net with, while waiting. Even time in transit can be used for replying to texts and deleting messages from your inbox and sent items.
  12. THOU SHALL AVOID PROCRASTINATION. When you’re procrastinating, you stop in the middle of something to go ahead and do something else. This is a mortal sin in time management because it makes you feel like you’re already quota for the day, when in reality, you haven’t really accomplished much yet.
  13. THOU SHALL STOP BEING A WORRYWART. The time you spend worrying about something could instead be spent wisely on thinking or, better yet, finding a solution for pressing problems.
  14. THOU SHALL ALLOW YOURSELF A SHORT BREAK. You need a breather, of course. Have coffee and snacks. This break can re-energize you and motivate you to accomplish more things.

With everything on your plate, mental noting just won’t cut it anymore. You need to have some tools with you to help make things more smooth flowing for you.

1) Clock or wristwatch.

2) Desk calendar.

3) Organizer or planner.

4) Tablet.

5) Pens.

6) Highlighters.

7) Memo pads.

8) File holders.

All the tips here work on a case to case basis, and it’s really up to you to learn and adapt to the system that best fits your lifestyle. But one thing’s for sure, they work on achieving one goal — that is, help you get something done and over with at the schedule they need to be done.


Dealing with Criticism

…or learning to think positively in the face of negativity. Here’s the scenario:

You’ve just started a new blog and posted your first entry. Your friends’ comments have come pouring in: “Great site!” “You write so well!” “Keep ‘em coming!” But as you scroll down, five words catch your eye: “What a waste of space.”

That single sentence eats at your confidence. Despite all the wonderful things everyone else has said, that one line troubles you the whole day. You question your writing skill. You wonder whether you should keep blogging at all.

Criticism almost always carries more weight than praise. Psychologists say it’s because positive remarks are easy to process, while negative ones need to be digested and analyzed by the brain. But whatever the reason, the important thing is learning to deal with the criticism you receive. For instance, how do you forget the time your teacher told you your report deserved a barely passing grade? Or the day your mom said you don’t have the talent to fulfill your dreams of becoming an artist so you should just focus on what you’re good at?

As tough as it may be, there are ways to take criticism with grace. Leo Babauta, the man behind, suggests following these four steps:

  1. STOP YOUR FIRST REACTION. Instead of throwing a tantrum or spitting a biting comeback at your critic, take a deep breath and walk away (literally and figuratively). Let the criticism sink in before responding. It keeps you from saying anything you’ll later regret.
  2. TURN NEGATIVES INTO POSITIVES. Even the meanest, rudest comments have a nugget of positivity in them. The trick is to spot that bit of honest feedback. For example, “What a waste of space” can be read as, “You need to find more interesting topics to write about.”
  3. THANK YOUR CRITIC. No matter how harsh they can be, critics are people too. Maybe they’re having a bad day or maybe they’re naturally negative. But quick, sincere thanks from you will catch them off-guard – and you might even end up making their day. What’s more, you get to file this as something helpful and move on.
  4. LEARN FROM THE CRITICISM. Now it’s time to act. Apply the feedback you’ve received. You might take your friend’s advice and look for fun topics for your blog as well as find more creative ways of writing about them. Or you could listen to your mother and take art classes, but also hone your natural talent at sports. What matters is that you use the criticism and make yourself better through concrete action.

Keeping these four steps in mind, how about a little mining exercise? Let’s dig through a few common criticisms until we find the useful suggestions they hide. Then we’ll decide on a course of action.

The Negative: “You’ve gained so much weight!” or “You are so skinny you look like a scrawny witch!”

The Useful Suggestion: You should care about your health.

The Action: Start taking your diet and exercise seriously. You could begin a regular jogging routine with your friends (much cheaper than a gym membership), incorporate healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables and lean meats, and stay away from chips and chocolate (well maybe you can eat a small portion of dark chocolate of at least 70% cocoa content everyday). The effort will benefit you in the long run.

The Negative: “She’s prettier than you.” or “You’re not pretty enough.”

The Useful Suggestion: Learn to be better at something other than smiling.

The Action: Your face isn’t your only weapon. Venture out of your comfort zone and try new things! The search for a hidden talent is one of the most enjoyable things life has to offer. And once you find what you’re truly good at, work on perfecting it. Eventually you’ll find yourself too busy to worry about how you look.

The Negative: “You’re such a nerd!”

The Useful Suggestion: Loosen up!

The Action: School is important — no doubt about it — but you don’t have to spend all of your time studying. Unbutton your collar; let your hair down! Go to a party or two. It’s all right to take it easy once in a while. You’re probably a lot more fun than you realize.

The Negative: “You’re not smart enough.”

The Useful Suggestion: Spend less time watching television and more time learning new things.

The Action: Open your mind to challenges. Read a classic book. Watch a Discovery Channel documentary. Go see an artistic film. As fun as a full-season marathon of Gossip Girl is, a day spent on the couch tends to dull the mind. Keep yourself sharp through thought-provoking tasks.

The Negative: “You’re no good at this.”             

The Useful Suggestion: Get better.

The Action: We’re not always naturally blessed with talent at the things we want to do. For instance, you may dream of becoming a ballerina someday, but stretching and exercise wears you out after a few minutes. Or you want to become a novelist someday, but your English grades are in the dumps. There’s only one solution: practice. Work on it, and then when you think you’ve reached the skill level you aimed for, work on it some more.

Remember that when it comes to taking criticism well, it’s all about spinning the negative to make it useful to you. Learn to stay humble and accept others’ suggestions openly and with gratitude. You’ll be helping others help you become a better person.

A Self-Lecture On Doing More and Being More

Everyone now is a multi-hyphenate. A racketeer. A go-getter. Use whichever term you want to, it all means the same thing. We are a generation that wants to do more and be more. We demand more of ourselves and out of the talents and abilities given to us. Gone are the days that only the students at the top of the class get noticed; hey, the student blogger may even be more popular than the school’s queen bee. Just because you are the boss of your unit doesn’t mean you are the most liked; the opinionated student-by-day, artist-by-night could have a more influential network of contacts than you. It’s a good thing I think, because we all have different things to bring to the table, we all deserve credit, and we all get our time to shine.

And just how do we get things done and be better? By making the most of what is given to us and knowing how to maximize what we have. And since we know ourselves and what we want more than anyone else, there are times we just have to take matters into our own hands and get things done ourselves.

One important note though: do not spread yourself too thinly. A piece of advice I hold dear to me, is to “stay true to your core.” If you feel you are veering away from who you really are and what your heart holds to be true, then reel yourself back in. Be more without losing yourself; be more by making a better version of yourself.