Are You Putting First Things First in Your Life?

What does your schedule say about what’s important to you?

What were you doing one year ago today? (This question is easier to answer if you keep a journal.)

Since then, have you made any progress towards being the man you want to be? Read any good books? Switched to a more fulfilling job? Gotten out of debt? Or do your dreams seem all the farther away because here you are, a year later, and you’re no closer to living the life you dream of?

You’ve had three-hundred-sixty-five days to work on it. Eight thousand, seven hundred and sixy hours. Five hundred twenty-five thousand, six hundred minutes you could have used to shape yourself into the embodiment of your personal mission statement.

Did you seize the opportunity? Or did you sacrifice the wildly important on the altar of the whimsically immediate three-hundred-sixty-five times over?

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Focus Pocus LTD

There is time enough for everything in the course of the day if you do but one thing at once. But there is not time enough in a year if you do two things at a time.

Lord Chesterfield

5 Tools That Will Save You From Email

Picking the wrong tool can create more work than it solves

This is a hammer. It pounds nails. It’s very good at it.

Once upon a time I tried driving a screw into drywall with a hammer. I had the hammer close by, I didn’t want to go track down a screwdriver, so I ignored the threads and treated the screw like it was a nail. It went in surprisingly smoothly, all things considered. I was well-pleased that my laziness had paid off.

…for about five seconds. Then I discovered that the screw came back out even easier than it went in. I didn’t even need the hammer for that. In the end, my laziness just created more work. I had to track down a screwdriver and some drywall anchors (after learning what drywall anchors are) and finish the job the way I should have started it in the first place.

Email is a tool. It does some things well. If you misuse it, you’re going to cause more work for yourself.

Here are five tools you should be using instead of seeing every situation as a problem email can solve.

Photo courtesy of Adobe Stock / cosma

Survey a Large Field, Cultivate a Small One

5 Principles of Personal Growth in Agrarian Wisdom

There is an old saying, “Survey a large field, cultivate a small one.” Like many aphorisms, we don’t know who originally said it, nor the specific context. That’s also part of its strength.

Rules can be applied only in a very specific, narrow context. Principles, on the other hand, have broad application. It’s the difference between the letter of the law and the spirit of the law—when you understand the spirit, you can usually apply the letter pretty accurately, and with less memorization. It just takes judgement.

I don’t work on a farm. You probably don’t, either. But there are principles in this saying that we can apply in our daily lives. It’s just as relevant to us as it was our agrarian forefathers.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / flownaksala

How to Create Insanely Strong Answers to Security Questions

When you don’t have to remember the answer, guessability goes to zero.

Back in college, my roommate and I both wanted to be able to make changes to the account with the utility company, so we made up answers to their challenge questions that we would both know.

There was a problem, though. Because none of the answers were derived from actual facts, it could be an interesting exercise at times to walk through the mind palace to remember the answer we had used. When it came time to disconnect the phone, I spent close to an hour with them, verifying that I was who I claimed to be, because I couldn’t confirm my mother’s maiden name. Once I had established myself, we reset the code word to a known value (her real maiden name) to replace the made-up one (“Bondi”, the color of my roommate’s first-generation iMac).

Security questions are even more common today. Web sites want an automated way to let you—and only you—get back into your account if you forget your password. Since it’s an automated system, you not only need to remember the answer but often exactly how you typed it. Did you use capital letters? Punctuation? Which security question did you even pick?

Fortunately, password managers can remember more than just your password. You can use 1Password to also track your security questions. For bonus points, you can even make up insanely strong answers that no one is going to guess.

Photo courtesy of © Adobe Stock / Christian Delbert