Sunday, November 13, 2011

Do you have an 'ignore list'?

Most of us are busy, busy multi-taskers, so I know that many of you can relate to what I'll be talking about in this post.

So many of us have been groomed in professional development to be strategists, to prioritize - you know, make that list - the to-do list. The one that makes us feel good when we get things crossed off of it.

flickr photo by john.schultz
But, when we stray from it or fail to achieve the tasks scrawled in numerical order, the pangs that send us into the oblivion of guilt are cruel. (Or is that just me?)

The truth is, lists are great to help us figure out what is important and to keep us on track. But is that approach the only one to enhance productivity? No!

I ran across a blurb that almost defies (almost) the thinking that including only prioritized stuff should be included on a list.

Real Simple magazine compiled an interesting handful of ideas to get a morning off to a good start, and it really spoke to me. One grabbed my attention though: "The Ignore List".

I like it.

As a blogger, pet sitter, better half - I'm an admitted list-maker. People to contact, details to tweak, appointments to confirm, appointments to get to, errands to run. You get the idea. And it never ends.

Lists keep me sane. But this idea of ignoring things actually makes sense. The premise is to decide what's not worth doing. Check this out from Peter Bregman, author of 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get The Right Things Done:

Most people have a to-do list, but to succeed in today's distraction-prone world, you also have to ask yourself: What's not worth doing? Jot down what you're willing to disregard-e-mails you have no intention of responding to, vacuuming, the guilt of not vacuuming. Review the list from time to time to make sure that nothing on it is getting your undeserved attention.

It seems to go hand in hand with saying 'no' to things, which for most people is hard to do. Certainly it's an exercise in standing up to the adage that we need to be all, do all, accomplish all. It's just not possible.

This strategy is a great way to supercharge the start of your week, increase productivity and reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Check out more spiffy ideas to make your day better in a recent post on Shine from Yahoo by clicking here.

Lorrie Shaw is a pet blogger and professional pet sitter/dog walker in Dexter Twp, MI and shares her life with her better half, Chris and their three pets. Connect with her on Google+ and Twitter.

Monday, August 29, 2011

A Friday state of mind

How many times a week do you say: "I can't wait until Friday!" or "I can't wait until this day is over."

flickr photo courtesy of craigCloutier
Yep, at some point in time, we've all said it, albeit quietly to ourselves.

I have to admit that I hear it a lot in passing from others, A LOT. And it really makes me wonder about the state of things in general.

Let's face it. Life's not easy. We live in a 24/7/365 society - a big part of the problem, I think. When do people ever stop, and enjoy what they work so hard  for? With work schedules, kid's school schedules and activities, personal commitments, it's no wonder that people feel overwhelmed and want "the weekend" to arrive.

But, do most people stop to even enjoy the weekend? Most often, not.

In our culture especially, we value our work, even define ourselves by it. It takes up much of our days, and for some of us, our evenings. And our weekends.

Being busy is looked at as a good thing in our culture. If you're not, you're a loser. What kind of life is that? Who started this?

Being a pet sitter, I can attest to working long hours and getting a little absorbed; my workday begins at 6:00am at times, and in some cases I don't get home until late at night. It's part of the deal, and that's okay with me. I do steal spare moments during the day and get home to unplug, be a pet mama, do whatever. And, I'm lucky - I love what I do.

But, does that mean that I live, eat and breathe what I do? Hell no. No one should. I make a point to set limits. After all, I'm a human being who wears a lot of hats.

You can relate, right?

Frequently, my priorities need to shift (in fact, they do daily) and I need to be open and flexible. Being stuck in one mode or the other is detrimental.

Life calls for being malleable. When you're not, what happens?

You start wishing for Friday. For Saturday. You wish your life away. But, guess what? You don't get those weeks, days or moments back. Ever. And then you start wishing that you hadn't let some things or opportunities pass by.

Friday isn't usually better than any other day. It's just another day on the calendar. Everyday, every moment - can be like Friday. Friday is a state of mind.

At least once a week, I say to one friend in particular, "What kind of magic are you going to make today?"

And she gets it.  She knows that every moment counts and that there are hidden treasures in them - even the difficult moments. And she doesn't wish the days away.

So, when we feel tangled up, physically and mentally exhausted, stretched to the limit, how can that sense of "Friday" be captured?

  • Be present in the moment, bad or good. Pay attention to yourself, your reactions to things, your surroundings.
  • Be malleable. Think about the fluidity of water. "Go with the flow!"
  • Set limits. Fill in the blank on what this means for you. Setting limits on ourselves is key. Valuing our time is essential. If we don't respect our time, no one else will.
  • Examine what you are grateful for or what makes you joyful. One person that I am linked up with on Facebook frequently lists a handful of things that she is grateful for and/or finds joy in. (It has a radiating effect, too. It reminds me to think about my own joy!)
  • When all else fails, just STOP. 
What brings you back to center - to "Friday"? 

Lorrie Shaw is a human being living in Dexter Township, MI. Connect with her on Facebook, Google+ and Twitter

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Paying it forward - the unexpected way to stay motivated

In one of the worst times of my life, I felt like I was completely lost. I had a hard time channeling my thoughts, keeping on track and looking ahead. One thing that I knew that would help me get outside of myself, re-adjust and get back on track was to help others by volunteering: how could I possibly not feel compelled to get up and get moving with a sense of purpose and urgency, when I was doing whatever needed to be done on someone else's behalf? It was the best decision that I could make at a time like that.

With my ever-present gravitation towards animals, the natural choice was to start volunteering at a local animal shelter. I was nervous making that first call to inquire and then attend volunteer orientation, but from there it became much easier. It was hard work - heart-breaking at times, propelling at other times but always gratifying. Seeing wagging tails, smiling faces and being in the midst of others who shared my passion was motivating and helped me keep my sense purpose. I had the opportunity to learn about other people who I volunteered alongside - another plus. I understood that we all had two things in common: we were human beings, and had a passion for helping animals. Some had outside labels like stay-at-home mom, postal worker, vet tech student, retiree, CEO of a large company, out-of-work secretary, attorney, high school student, carpenter, fellow small business owner. The former was the only important thing, and the sense of being needed for those few short hours per week was like a refuge, I think. Even if one didn't feel terribly motivated or useful during the time that we spent outside of volunteering, we certainly felt needed and valued when we were there.

There are great ways for folks to offer their time and talents for the benefit of others. Websites like VolunteerMatch and Points of Light are great resources for getting information on volunteering. Locally, in Washtenaw County, there is a way to discover groups that are a fit  - - a database of sorts that helps one search for great opportunites.

Volunteering one's time is a great way to do so much for others. It gives people a chance to be their best: they see that they are useful, valued, capable - and in turn they go further and continue to be motivated.

I think that quite often, the biggest obstacle that we face collectively in life is ourselves. We get in our own way, think too much about ourselves and when that's the case, it's easy to get lagged down. Thinking about others, well, there's just no room for that.

Lorrie Shaw is a professional pet sitter, regular pets contributor to and pet blogger in Dexter Twp, MI. She participates in Motivated Mondays along with writer, speaker, mountain bike rider and author of Backroads & Byways Of Arizona, Jackie Dishner. #MotivatedMondays on Twitter is a culmination of inspirational notes, blogs and tips to help motivate and get other ready for each week after the weekend lull - or anytime.

Monday, September 6, 2010

A peanut butter/chocolate kind of thing

Liz Strauss had a great blog post earlier and I wanted to share it, because it really resonated with me. In fact, I feel like it relates to a concept that I discussed on this past week. A total "your peanut butter and my chocolate" kind of thing.

Liz talks about being passionate, connected, and making things seamless with work and the personal side of one's life. I talk about living vicariously through the pets in our lives and how it teaches us to "be". In doing so, I stay connected to what is important, stay joyful and motivated, because I know that these pets depend on me, too.

Liz's post really fits with staying motivated, I think. too.


Lorrie Shaw is a professional pet sitter, regular pets contributor to and pet blogger in Dexter Twp, MI. She participates in Motivated Mondays along with writer, speaker, mountain bike rider and author of Backroads & Byways Of Arizona, Jackie Dishner. #MotivatedMondays on Twitter is a culmination of inspirational notes, blogs and tips to help motivate and get other ready for each week after the weekend lull - or anytime.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Keeping up with the Joneses: How your claiming your definition of success helps to shape your mindset, and stay motivated

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” - Winston Churchill

Years ago, I started dealing with a network marketing company to try and make a little extra money and diversify my time. The company offered different types of support as far as building a business - their way. A lot of what they taught was invaluable, with training from internationally-known motivational speakers and business-types, seminars, instrinsic product knowledge education - that kind of stuff. I still find it valuable, although I don't do as much with the company anymore. What I didn't like, and what I see with a lot of other companies of all kinds: the feeling that the current level of success that you've attained is not-up-to-par, that they are making you who you are, that some of the tactics that they employ to convey to you how to get clients and "build relationships" are less than desirable, that you can be more - but that you need to adhere to their way of approaching/talking to people (sometimes using methods that are beyond my level of comfort - for good reason). I could go on, but I won't.

flickr photo courtesy of Josh Janssen

I learned a lot from being in business for myself 9 years prior to that, and had done pretty well for myself. Some of what the company "taught" made me squirm, and rightfully so. Much of it went against common sense and real relationship building - both concepts that are extremely important to me.

One thing that I really felt icky about was that my "upline" and the trainings of other uplines focused on the idea that one needed to increase their success - and "success" was defined by sales and recruiting (and making other people money) and far less about creating bonds with people in a genuine way, finding solutions for them by pairing them with products that fit their needs and their budget in a way that they felt comfortable with (I mean, literally bullying folks into making a purchase? Please. So not me.) My gut said: "No, no, no..." How can people sleep at night doing that?

I've never let anyone else define my idea - or better yet, my concept of what success is. Not when I started my cleaning service, not during my time that I was active with the company and not when I started my pet sitting service. Don't get me wrong - people attempted to, and still do. ("You should hire people to do the work for you!" "Join our networking group; it'll help your business grow." "You know, you could make a lot more money if you...")


I know what my recipe for success is. The core remains the same, first and foremost, providing capable care for pets while their families are away - but some of the peripheral needs of the business and my personal life cause me to adjust what areas I need to focus in.

flickr photo courtesy of greeblie
It really seems as though so many people are comparing themselves to what other people are doing so much so, that they have either lost sight of what their concept of success is - or they've never been able to define it for themselves at all. Sad, isn't it? It happens in the corporate world, in the land of the self-employed, and equally in people's personal lives. And, it really screws things up.

Most of all, I find that many times it actually decreases motivation because you start to question yourself too much about what your process is; dumbing it down. Second-guessing is a real motivation stealer.

So my questions for you are: What is success? How do you define it? What is your recipe for staying motivated to achieve your successes in life? Are you trying to keep up wth the Joneses to hammer out someone else's standard of success?

Lorrie Shaw is a professional pet sitter, regular pets contributor to and pet blogger in Dexter Twp, MI. She participates in Motivated Mondays along with writer, speaker, mountain bike rider and author of Backroads & Byways Of Arizona, Jackie Dishner. #MotivatedMondays on Twitter is a culmination of inspirational notes, blogs and tips to help motivate and get other ready for each week after the weekend lull - or anytime.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

OPS - Other People's Success

Yes, it's great to help others, succeed at something that you love to do, to be appreciated, to be acknowledged by others... all of the good stuff that comes with success - whatever that word means to you. One of the most uplifting things for me though, is to witness someone else gaining ground.

I love the energy that people radiate when they've tackled something daunting. The process that they follow. The journey that the had to take. The failures (I prefer the phrase "learning experiences"), the breakthroughs. Witnessing someone transform into the more confident person that they weren't sure that they could become to begin with.

flickr photo courtesy of Horia Varlan
Whether I am talking to someone who has just started their business, or a seasoned professional who is embarking on a new challenge - and they are achieving their goal, it's great. Or, it could be a simple thing like learning to knit, or something bigger like conquering a deep-rooted fear of [insert word here].

Seeing their buoyancy after crossing that threshold of uncertainty is powerful.

Paying attention to others, and being genuinely interested in what is going on in their lives, listening - is an excellent asset
to have. Simply by being in the midst of, and picking the brains of others who are experiencing everyday successes is an empowering thing. It's motivating - it really gives me a sense of urgency to shift my focus a bit, or work that much harder to get up the ladder that I'm climbing.

Lorrie Shaw is a professional pet sitter, regular pets contributor to and pet blogger in Dexter Twp, MI. She participates in Motivated Mondays along with writer, speaker, mountain bike rider and author of Backroads & Byways Of Arizona, Jackie Dishner. #MotivatedMondays is a culmination of inspirational notes, blogs and tips to help motivate and get other ready for each week after the weekend lull - or anytime.

Monday, August 16, 2010

K.I.S.S. - How this little acronym serves me well

I can't do "complicated". Anything. I'm pretty sure that this has to do with the way that my brain works. Regardless, I think that following this one simple trick in all things has served me so well, and proliferated much of my success and kept me on the right track: Keep It Simple, Silly. (K.I.S.S. - for short) It's kept me organized, level-headed, focused and most of all - motivated.

Having K.I.S.S as my mantra has been invaluable. I've put it to use at home, in training my dogs and in my business. The bare-bones nature of K.I.S.S. in the latter case, has helped me maintain what my core philosophy in my business is, and why I started it in the first place.

I love animals - dogs, cats, lizards, you name it, and I love caring for them. I'm good at it, which helps and I found a way to do it as a living. It allows me to be home with my own pets more, which is probably one of the most important aspects about it.

It's a successful business because I keep in mind why I'm doing it, and why I started. It's thriving, busy with appointments, but not so much that I cannot be mindful of each pet that I care for. The way that I've mindfully structured the business has been with K.I.S.S. in mind, too. In doing that, there is no need to hire others, no extra paperwork or worrying about the quality of service that's being given. K.I.S.S. has allowed me to have great communiation with my clients when I'm "on" or "off" the clock. The philosophy is one that works for my clients, too. They like the simplistic, personal way that their pets are cared for - and I can tend to those little emergencies that occur, like last night: there was a bat that had gotten into the house, and I managed to get things under control quickly. Things like this happen all of the time in my business, so keeping things simple is key.

This mindset is such that I can be home more to tend to things there. Simplify, simplify, simplify. I can get things done. Life is enjoyable. Of course, things still get a little hectic at times, but overall, everything is still managable; fun. And, I stay motivated and can look ahead when I need to.

Lorrie Shaw is a regular pets contributor on, pet blogger on More Than Four Walls and owner of Professional Pet Sitting. She frequently writes about the fascinating bond between animals and humans as well as other social issues connected to animals. She welcomes your contact by e-mail.