Archive for 2015

Announcing My Project 70

Posted on: December 14th, 2015 by Kathie England | Time for Success No Comments

My Project 70

Change Red to Blue – Small Steps

Help elect Bryan Caforio, my nephew, to represent the 25th Congressional District in California!

Here is a link to the article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times on December 9 that talks about his candidacy:

My goal is to raise $7000 before the California Primary on Tuesday, June 7, 2016.

My strategy is to ask 1000 people for a minimum donation of $7.

I need your help!

Would you ask seven people to donate $7?

Would you ask these seven people to ask seven more people to donate $7?

“Small steps actually taken lead to more progress than great steps that never happen.”

Checks should be made out to Bryan Caforio for Congress.

More details will follow about how you can join My Project 70. Right now I urge you to make donations directly through Bryan’s website:

What Is Your Bottom Line?

Posted on: October 27th, 2015 by Kathie England | Time for Success 1 Comment

Last Saturday I discovered this poem by Daniel Skach-Mills at the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland.


“Don’t call it multi-tasking,

this ritual I do: lifting, pouring,

setting the pot down again

and raising the bowl to my lips.

Stepping into the tearoom,

I shake off the dust of the world.

Rinsing off the teaware,

I wash away thoughts from my mind.

Retreating an hour

from the world of men,

the only “bottom line”

is the one you are reading now.”

What is your bottom line today?

If We Downsize and Declutter Our Lives Can We Get More Out of Life?

Posted on: August 18th, 2015 by Kathie England | Time for Success No Comments

That is the title of an article published in Australia on July 5, 2015. I discovered a summary of this article in the most recent issue of The Chronical, the newsletter of the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD – I was so intrigued by the summary that I followed the link to find the entire article.

I hope you’ll do the same, so I’ve provided the link below.

Here are a few of the interesting snippets in the article:

  • According to recent UK research, couples have 32 arguments a year about the volume of objects in their house. Stuff can mean serious stress.
  • Stuff is out. Experience is in according to James Wallman, cultural-trend forecaster and author of Stuffocation: Living More with Less.
  • Tamara DiMattina created a project called “Buy Nothing New Month.” Each October, she encourages people to think before they buy, and ask if they need a new item, or if they could borrow or buy secondhand instead. “It’s not about having nothing; it’s about having the right things,” she says. “Well-designed products give longevity.”

The article begins by describing the following project:

“Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus are two friends now known as The Minimalists. Five years ago, they were earning six-figure salaries and working 70-hour weeks in the US. But ‘affluenza’ was making them stressed; the cars and gadgets they could afford weren’t enriching their lives. So they packed every item in their (large) houses into boxes with the aim to unpack only what they needed, when they needed it. On the first day, they each unpacked hygiene products, a suit, one pair of underwear, one pair of socks, one pair of shoes, one tie and one belt. The next day came a few more things, such as plates and cutlery. Five days later, they didn’t unpack anything. Almost everything they owned was still sitting in boxes. They discovered what made them happy wasn’t their stuff, but spending time with friends and family.”

How might you get more out of life if you decluttered?

Do You Need a Brain Hack?

Posted on: August 4th, 2015 by Kathie England | Time for Success No Comments

If you find yourself stuck and not able to get started on a task or project, you might benefit from a brain hack.

What’s a brain hack? That’s the question I asked myself as the presenter of a recent teleclass I attended kept talking about brain hacks. The title of the teleclass through the Institute for Challenging Disorganization (ICD) was Getting Clients Unstuck: Using Mindful Presence to Improve Productivity. I had actually heard the presenter, ADHD coach Allan Brown, on two previous occasions and he talked about brain hacks but he never defined what they were until the very end of the most recent teleclass. I’d even begun to hear others use this term, but always without clarification.

Brown’s definition finally clued me in to the possibilities of this term!

Think about what happens when a computer is hacked. It disrupts everything and that’s not good.

But a brain hack is different! Its goal is to disrupt one’s thinking, but in doing so, it opens the door for another perspective and that can be very powerful.

Let’s look at one example. You tell yourself that you have way too much to do and don’t even know where to start. You’re paralyzed and begin to procrastinate. You may do something like check email or Facebook to avoid making a decision about where to start. And that doesn’t help you!

Brown’s strategy is the Rule of 3.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Does this task need to be done in the next three hours?
  • Does it need to be done in the next three days?
  • Does it need to be done in the next three weeks?
  • Does it need to be done in the next three months?

I think you get the idea.

If it does need to be done in the next three hours, then you’d better get started right now.

But what if you still can’t decide?

If you truly CAN’T distinguish among the competing tasks for their degree of urgency, then Brown invites you to acknowledge they must be equal and it doesn’t matter where you start. Choose any task – even if you make the choice by closing your eyes and pointing to one.  Or write the tasks on a slip of paper, drop them into a hat, and choose one.

Let’s say that your issue is not starting on a particular task or project. It’s making a decision about something that seems important. You can begin by asking the Rule of 3 questions, but that still might not help.

Brown recommends writing down your thoughts (being very honest with yourself). What are you thinking? The brain hack is to ask yourself a question that challenges your thinking. It hacks into your locked-in perspective and invites you to disrupt your thinking just as a hacker might disrupt your computer. The difference is that the brain hack can get you unstuck and that’s what you’re seeking.

What brain hack might be helpful to you right now?

Brown’s perspective is that the key is to just START! Starting creates its own momentum and energy.

Brown recommends the book The Now Habit by Neil Fiore which I just ordered. Maybe it will be the next focus of this blog after I finish Better Than Before.


Better Than Before – Sitting Is the New Smoking: Pairing

Posted on: July 31st, 2015 by Kathie England | Time for Success 1 Comment

The strategy of pairing is a fascinating approach to developing a new habit. It can also help identify bad habits.

Pairing is coupling two activities. According to Rubin it’s one activity that you want to do and one you don’t particularly want to do. I think that’s a narrow perspective. I believe that it’s also pairing something you’d like to START doing with something you already do.

In the book One Small Step Can Change Your Life, Robert Maurer invited “Julie” to pair walking in place for one minute with turning the television on. He asked her to walk in place for one minute BEFORE she turned the television on. Turning the television on was a habit she already had. Her new habit was to begin exercising by starting with that small step of walking in place for just one minute.

Rubin shares a number of pairing examples:

  • Watching a certain television show ONLY while working out at the gym
  • Reading printed magazines for fun ONLY while on the cardio machines at the gym
  • Buying a bagel ONLY after WALKING to a favorite bagel shop

Another example I really liked was what she called “Commercial Cleaning.” In this case one of her readers explained that whenever a commercial came on, she would do a chore like putting a load in the dryer or washing a few dishes.

That strategy was the next step that “Julie” took when she decided to extend her walking.  She began walking in place during commercials. Eventually she advanced to walking in place during the entire 30-minute show.

Rubin suggests that these examples are actually a form of multitasking, a time management strategy that is usually discouraged because we lose time as our brain toggles between two activities. These examples many indeed be examples of successful multitasking because the brain isn’t being required to toggle back and forth quickly between activities (kidding ourselves that we are actually doing two things as the same time).

How does pairing relate to the subtitle, “Sitting Is the New Smoking?”

Rubin proposes that to reduce the amount of time sitting while working at a desk, find activities that can be done while standing like talking on the phone. She sings the praises of treadmill desks as another example of standing while working. (I’ve read that isn’t necessarily as effective as some believe.) The important issue, though, is that many studies show “the average American sits for at least eight hours a day. While we sit, our metabolism changes for the worse. Sitting for several hours a day seems to raise people’s risk of early death, even for people who exercise.”

Pairing is also associated with bad habits like having a cigarette with the first cup of morning coffee. Other habits that aren’t so desirable include reading emails as soon as they arrive, shopping while travelling, and eating candy at the movies.

My own example is how I’ve paired taking my make-up off at night and brushing my teeth before climbing into bed. My old habit was to take off my make-up, climb into bed, and read. By the time I’d finished reading, I was frequently too tired, or so I told myself, to go back to the bathroom and brush my teeth. Since I created this new pairing, I’ve only missed one night of brushing my teeth (and that was a night I was sick).

What pairings could you start that would help you create a new and desirable habit?

Unstoppable – Like a Girl

Posted on: July 24th, 2015 by Kathie England | Time for Success 1 Comment

Do we limit girls and tell them what they should or shouldn’t be?

Do we box them into expected roles?

I discovered this video today while watching a TED Talk and decided I would end my week by posting the link:

Better Than Before – Just Because: Treats

Posted on: July 21st, 2015 by Kathie England | Time for Success No Comments

Rubin proposes that treats are a valuable strategy in developing habits. She explains that forming good habits can be draining and treats can play an important role in their development. She believes that a treat is a form of self-regard. When they help us feel energetic and happy, they can play a key role in habit formation.

She defines a “treat” as “a small pleasure or indulgence that we give to ourselves just because we want it. ” Unlike a reward it doesn’t have to be earned. We don’t have to be “good” to get it. When we deprive ourselves of treats, we feel depleted, resentful, and angry. This state often results in “justified self-indulgence.”

Rubin recommends creating a menu of healthy treats but she illustrates the wide variability of what each person perceives as a treat. She contends that peeling a hard-boiled egg could be a treat for some (I get what she’s saying but I really don’t identify with that example). One of Rubin’s own examples is sleep – that’s one I can definitely relate to. Reading for pleasure is another example for me.

One point she makes is that we make something a treat by calling it a “treat.” This perspective is about awareness. It’s very easy to overlook how much we enjoy something. “When we notice our pleasure, and relish it, the experience becomes much  more of a treat.”

An interesting example is someone who shifted her perspective about a daily walk from something she “should” be doing to time for herself. That shift made all the difference and it became a treat to have that daily walk.

Rubin offers a word of caution about the lure of unhealthy treats. Three categories of treats can even be dangerous: food, shopping, and screen time. (I think the implications here are obvious!)

She concludes this chapter by talking about transcendent treats gleaned from reading a thousand-year-old guide for monks titled The Rule of St. Benedict. The monks referred to this time as lectio divina, or spiritual reading. Rubin translates this idea as time for beauty, creativity, service, and faith. These activities are frequently pushed aside for more urgent demands, but without them life is more apt to feel empty and purposeless.

I realized yesterday during an afternoon walk that this walk was something I really looked forward to, even though it was 88 degrees at the time. I’m glad that I was able to acknowledge this awareness. I’m curious what other treats might be on my menu. What treats are on yours?

Rubin concludes this chapter by sharing that until a habit truly comes easily and without decision-making, treats can give us a valuable little boost.

Better Than Before – No Finish Line Continued

Posted on: July 16th, 2015 by Kathie England | Time for Success No Comments

Remember when Rubin talked about the thirty-day Blast Start to jump start a new habit?

I love this line in the current chapter: “The real test of a thirty-day Blast Start is what happens on day 31.” I used my own 30-day challenge to get started on blogging and I kept my commitment to blog for at least 30 consecutive days. What happened next for me is aptly described by Rubin’s suggestion to use “if-then” planning from the Strategy of Safeguards. If-then planning is to plan in advance what happens after you cross the finish line.

In my case, I knew I would be travelling within days of crossing my “finish line” so I would not be able to maintain more consecutive days of blogging. My ultimate goal is to blog a minimum of once a week and ideally three times. Although that goal hasn’t been achieved yet, I feel I am developing the blogging habit which was the original reason I had given myself this challenge.  I have blogged more regularly than I ever had prior to creating this challenge.

Rubin discusses how important it is NOT to focus on rewards because that focus sabotages the habit. She proposes that a habit must be rewarding in some way or one won’t bother to do it. It’s a classic coaching question, “What makes this important?”

Rubin answers the question of how to do this: “By finding my reward within the habit itself, with a reward that takes me deeper into the habit. If I look outside a habit for a reward, I undermine the habit. If I look within the habit for the reward, I strengthen the habit.”

I listened to a teleclass this morning titled “10 Rules for ADHD-Friendly Organization” and that was definitely the perspective of the ADHD coach presenter, Lynne E. Edris. She invited the listener to ask these questions:

  • How will my life be better if I am organized?
  • Why do I want to get organized?
  • What is the root of the problem?
  • How will I measure success?

I loved these questions because they get to the heart of what makes the habit of organizing important! They get to the heart of identifying the reward of the habit. They absolutely illustrate Rubin’s perspective.

Rubin’s final thoughts from this chapter:

  • “A ‘reward’ changes your attitude toward a behavior”
  • “The reward for a good habit is the habit itself.”
  • “Continuous progress is the opposite of the finish line.”

What is your reward for the habit you seek to develop?

And by-the-way, Lynne Edris also suggests “Start small!” (Music to my hears!)

Better Than Before – No Finish Line: Reward

Posted on: July 14th, 2015 by Kathie England | Time for Success No Comments

Rubin offers a fascinating perspective about the downside of rewards when building habits. She concludes that rewards can actually be dangerous to habit formation.

She refers to ideas introduced by Daniel Pink in Drive about the very complex consequences of rewards. Pink explores extrinsic versus intrinsic rewards. When we are extrinsically motivated, we do an activity because we get an external reward. Pursuing an activity for its own sake is intrinsic motivation and we are far more likely to stick with a behavior (habit/routine) that we find satisfying.

Rubin cites sources of intrinsic motivation identified by organizational development theorists Thomas Malone and Mark Lepper:

  • Challenge – personal meaning in pursuit of a goal that’s difficult but not impossible
  • Curiosity – intrigued and finding pleasure in learning more
  • Control – feeling of mastery
  • Fantasy – using imagination to make an activity more stimulating
  • Cooperation – the satisfaction of working with others
  • Competition – the feeling of gratification when comparing ourselves favorably with others
  • Recognition – pleasure when others recognize our accomplishments or contributions

She offers three reasons why rewards obstruct habit formation:

  • First, a reward teaches us that we wouldn’t do a particular activity for its own sake. We do it ONLY to earn the reward.
  • Second, rewards pose a danger for habits because they require a decision. A habit is something we do without making a decision. When we stop to consider whether or not we deserve a reward for the action we have taken or will take, we use up a lot of mental energy and that energy shifts attention away from the habit and toward the reward.
  • Third, the reward of the finish line actually undermines habits. The finish line is an obvious stopping point and Rubin has repeatedly explained that once we stop, it is much more difficult to re-engage and start again. She offers the perspective that once we’ve achieved success, we tend to stop moving forward. “A finish line divides behavior that we want to follow indefinitely…into ‘start’ and ‘stop’, and too often the ‘stop’ turns out to be permanent.” She shares examples of women who stopped smoking during pregnancy but resumed after the birth of their child. One-third to two-thirds of those who diet eventually regain more weight than they had initially lost. “Maintaining a healthy weight requires us not to follow a temporary diet, but to change our eating habits forever.”

She urges caution: if your reward marks a stopping point, that means you will need to start again and starting is hard.

I invite you to ponder whether your rewards for developing a habit are extrinsically or intrinsically motivated.

I’ll conclude this chapter in the next blog by discussing the value of finding the reward within the habit itself.




Better Than Before – Wait Fifteen Minutes Continued

Posted on: June 30th, 2015 by Kathie England | Time for Success No Comments

Continuing the discussion of distractions, Rubin describes two types of trances that impact us. One is the “bad trance” and the other is the “good trance.”

The “bad trance” hits when you are exhausted. It’s the paradox of being too tired and too wired to go to bed. This is a great example of when one’s executive function has been maxed out and decision-making is severely compromised. During a “bad trance” you overindulge in things you don’t even enjoy. What’s the price you pay for this overindulgence?

This is the perfect time for an awareness pause – what’s happening? The power of the pause, if you’re honest with yourself, gives you the opportunity to make a better choice, to be mindful. It’s an opportunity to ask yourself, “What’s the smallest step I can take to move forward?”

The “good trance” by contrast is the state of flow where time passes quickly, you feel energized, and exhilarated. Even during these times, what would happen if you paused to be present and appreciate that you are in a state of flow? It’s another example of an awareness pause.

Rubin comments that she has discovered that getting more sleep has resulted in a marked decline in the frequency of her “bad trances.”

She concludes this chapter by talking about focus boosters. Hers was chewing on something when she was writing. Chewing on plastic coffee stirrers met her need. In fact, she said, “I’ve been astonished at how helpful this small habit is.”

This same idea is more richly discussed in Fidget to Focus by Roland Rotz and Sarah Wright. This book explores all types of fidgets from doodling to sucking on a lemon drop to boost focus. Fidget to Focus strategies include movement, sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and time. Although Rotz and Wright wrote this book to help individuals with ADHD, their strategies can help others too. I appreciate their discussion of strategies for home, work, and school.