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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Trained myself to be less busy and get my life back

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I am a robot, programmed to obliterate my to-do list. During the day, I direct a research laboratory, write papers, and teach classes as a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona. Come 4:30 pm, I run a kid limousine service, shuttling between various activities, preparing dinner, helping with homework and the evening routine. I scurry through these activities — often missing the moments of joy embedded in everyday life — until I have some sort of nightly electrical shortage, then crash out on the couch. I reboot in the morning and do it all again.


I am addicted to busyness. I am embarrassed to say it, largely because I am lucky to have a wonderful life and a great career, and, to be fair, the struggles, demands, and slings and arrows are all of my own doing (especially the part about having kids; I know I was there for that).

I created this mess — a life at breakneck speed from the moment I wake until I finally watch 30 minutes of Netflix before drifting off. But, I recently hit rock bottom, feeling as if I was going through the motions of my life rather than truly living it.

I’m not the only one who feels overwhelmed — you probably do too

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I don’t think I am alone in my feelings about busyness, nor do I think these feelings are especially new for the average working adult. I might be alone at my rock bottom, but there are many indicators that we are feeling more overcommitted, overscheduled, overtired, and overburdened than ever before.

Brigid Schulte, in her 2014 book, Overwhelmed, writes incisively about this trend, “So much do we value busyness, researchers have found a human ‘aversion’ to idleness and need for ‘justifiable busyness.’” My favorite example from her book: Researchers can track the rise of busyness in holiday cards dating back to the 1960s. In holiday cards, Americans used to share news about our lives (the joys and sorrows of the year), but now we’re more likely than ever to mention how busy we are as well.

As a clinical psychologist, I have worked with many people who are trying to make substantial changes — from improving a marriage to overcoming generalized anxiety or depression. The idea that these changes begin with acknowledging that there’s a problem is a truism. Personal responsibility is the vehicle for behavior change. When it came to my busyness, though, I had what might be described as extreme difficulty looking beyond the hamster wheel. (Professionally, people in my line of work call this “very little insight.”)

I don’t think I am busier than anyone else. My wife and friends are just as busy as me. I think the difference is that I became aware of my busyness and started to hate it. I was feeling claustrophobic in my own life. I asked my wife if I could retire and get some time back in the day. (She said no.) Then I started to wonder about the opposite of busyness. I thought immediately of the slow food movement. I needed a slow food movement in my everyday life.

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I realized busyness had devoured my values

The first change took root for me about 18 months ago when the graduate program that I direct started teaching Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (pronounced as the single word ACT) to our doctoral students, who are future clinical psychologists. ACT is a scientifically validated psychotherapy treatment for a range of mental health problems. Basically, it’s a form of talk therapy.

A central tenet of ACT is that emotional pain is driven in large part by getting over-involved in difficult experiences and thoughts (that is, going over and over things in our mind, getting stuck in our experiences, and being unable to create any psychological distance between yourself and the terribleness of things). Consequently, when we become stuck on or in our emotional pain, we go through each day in a way that is disconnected from our core values — the essential principles that, ideally, come to guide our lives. In ACT, value-centered living is paramount, and a big part of the treatment is to help people separate themselves from the painful language in their heads (“This is so awful. I feel so terrible.”) to get on with the business of living a meaningful life.

As I learned more about ACT and started incorporating its methods into my psychotherapy practice with clients, something important dawned on me: Busyness devoured my values. I was working, parenting, loving, emailing, and exercising in a sort of mindless way, just doing and doing. Busyness is not, nor was it ever, a guiding principle in my life. Yet, I had let the inertia of doing take deep root without realizing what was happening to me. To get more out of life — more meaning, more joie de vivre — I needed to start doing less and to become more conscious about my choices.

How I started to reclaim my life from busyness

Image result for less work my lifeI started with a simple value: being outside. I am a regular exerciser, but I was losing touch with being outside and moving my body through space. I began walking more, that’s all. It was not a hard change to make — I just park a little farther from work and hoof it a bit more, or I go for a nice stroll during lunch. It would not be an overstatement to say that an additional 40 minutes a day of walking just two or three times a week has changed me in a profound way. Walking provides time to think, to be energized by nature, and to feel less frenzied. Quite dramatically, I am much less of a robot and much more of a human being.

Next, I focused on valuing idleness. I do not mean being a sloth, only that I was coming to see the value of doing as little as possible for long periods of time. I just finished Tim Kreider’s incredibly thoughtful and hilarious book of essays We Learn Nothing. The audiobook includes a bonus chapter called “Laziness: A Manifesto.” Kreider writes, “This busyness serves as a kind of existential reassurance, a hedge against emptiness. Obviously your life cannot possibly be silly, or trivial, or meaningless if you are so busy, completely booked every hour of the day. All this noise, and rush, and stress seem contrived to cover up some fear at the center of our lives.”

I cannot say if I my busyness was a hedge against some sort of existential emptiness, but all the doing certainly left me feeling empty in the end. Now, with idleness in mind, I just park myself on the couch as often as possible and see what happens. Mostly, I am looking for an opportunity to enjoy the moments of life in an unstructured way; I am looking for more play. In my idleness last night, I spent a long time just tickling my 5-year-old daughter, pretending to scare her, and lying on my back with her in “airplane position” while she perfected a move she called the hummingbird. That was the best half-hour of my year so far. What is more, I’ve found that the less I work, the better my work actually is in the end, from the ability to attend to students and clients to the creative energies needed for doing science.

As part of my effort to create time and space for doing less, I also got off Facebook. At first, I was simply trying to escape the toxicity of the election on social media. In time, though, I realized I was also escaping an attentional black hole, one with an incredible gravitational pull. I would never willfully stand in the middle of a room noisy room with everyone screaming for my attention, yet this is best metaphor I can think of to describe my mind on Facebook. I was weak and could not resist its forces, fair enough, but I also started to see it as filler and fluff. When I got past my FOMO and let it go, I gained back many moments in my day.

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I’ve also tried to get serious about laughing more. For me, busyness’s neighbor is seriousness. Seriousness is overrated, and I feel much healthier and even childlike when I am not taking myself so seriously, and when I am trying to make other people laugh.

Finally, my relationships. In my days of busyness, I loathed the work pop-in — too many unscheduled interruptions. Now, I’m coming to appreciate people dropping by to say hello and to joke around (see: laughter). My door is a little more open, so to speak. I am also focusing on my local drinking club, where a few friends have been going for beers together for several years. Sometimes I am too busy and have to miss, but that really bothers me now. Friendships are sustenance, just like food.

Have I sustained these changes? Sort of. I am working as much as ever and find it hard to not get sucked into the trappings of busyness. Sometimes I look at my schedule shout to myself, “Too much, too much!” When this is the case, I just go for a walk. Or I just get on the floor and mess with my kids. Or I follow the mantra of our club: “Relax, have a homebrew.” (If my busyness freakout is in the morning, I do wait for the homebrew, in case you’re wondering. At least until lunch.)

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By and large, though, I am feeling better than I have in a long time — more deliberate in the choices I make, more connected to the people around me, and more energized for the demands of the day. The surprising irony here, for me at least, is that by doing less, I am getting way more out life. I have banished my inner robot.

David Sbarra, PhD, is a professor of psychology at the University of Arizona. His new ebook, Love, Loss, and the Space Between, is available on Amazon.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

What Is the Grandfather Clause and When Should I Use It?

Image result for What Is the Grandfather Clause and When Should I Use It?When implementing a new management system based on ISO standards, experts usually invoke the grandfather clause as a way to relieve the enforcement of some requirements. When, where, and how often can the grandfather clause be invoked?

The grandfather clause is a statement that an organization makes to declare that, before a specific date, certain individuals or processes do not comply with company rules or regulations.
The grandfather clause has three basic components: [Individual/process] + [area of grandfathering] + [date].
Here is an example of a grandfather clause taken from a quality manual:
The effective implementation date of the quality management system is Sept. 1, 2012. This date is also used for grandfathering* of suppliers, employees, and records.
* The grandfather clause is used as a way to grant exemptions to all those who were part of the organization before the new quality management system rules went into effect.
And here is another example taken from a human resources procedure:
All employees who were part of Mireaux Management Solutions on or before Sept. 1, 2012, are considered grandfathered in terms of education and experience, and therefore are competent to perform their duties and responsibilities.
These are, of course, just examples. The grandfather clause can be worded many ways to suit your needs.

Why grandfathering

When an organization is seeking ISO certification, whether it be to ISO 9001, ISO 14001, or ISO 27001, it’s understandable there may be new rules to enforce. The grandfather clause helps us to recognize that things were done differently before ISO requirements were instituted. It is a way for the organization to approve those people and processes, based on historical performance, to continue being part of the organization.

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When to use the grandfather clause

The grandfather clause can be used to exempt people or processes from scrutiny regarding the past. Plainly said, if Joe has been working as a mechanic at your facility for 20 years, he must be doing something right; therefore, you can’t fire him just because he doesn’t fit the requirements of the newly instituted job descriptions. If a new prerequisite for his position includes a college degree, you can disregard it because he has 20 years of experience. Going forward, you’ll hire new mechanics who meet the job description requirements and have college degrees, but for now you’re keeping Joe based on his experience and tenure with your organization.
Similarly, you can use the grandfather clause for processes. Let’s take engineering processes as an example. You know that, prior to a certain date, your drawings, design reviews, and design validations were not created or performed according to the newly established procedures. In compliance with design and development requirements of the ISO standard to which you are certified, you accept that moving forward you will abide by the new procedures; however, you cannot guarantee that work done prior to the grandfather clause date was done accordingly.

Grandfather Clause, by Chris Wright

How many times can I use the grandfather clause?

Obviously, you want to invoke the grandfather clause only once. Usually I recommend that clients set the grandfather clause date during the first year that they are going for certification. That seems like a natural dividing line: “Before this date, we were not complying with ISO standards, and so ISO standards didn’t apply; now that we’ve decided to seek ISO certification, the standards all apply.”
I definitely do not recommend that you invoke the grandfather clause more than three times; that would defeat the purpose of the clause. Shifting the date forward as time passes will seem as though you are looking for excuses to not meet the requirements of the standard rather than honestly saying you were not in conformance before.

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Do registrars accept using the grandfather clause?

Yes, registrars are fine with the grandfather clause. In fact, in our consulting firm, we use the grandfather clause all the time. However, leaning on the grandfather clause too often may give the impression that an organization is trying to dodge responsibility, and so we plan our grandfather clause statements and dates carefully. And once we reach that date, by all means, we make sure everyone enforces it.
Whether it is for people or processes, we make sure all is in order. If anyone new is hired, we will ensure their education, training, skills, and experience match those established in job descriptions, or that there are signed waivers if anything differs. Or if we have a new supplier, we make sure that this supplier was approved following the supply-chain procedure or process.
It’s worth emphasizing that most registrars want to see at least three months of solid use of your management system for an audit. Therefore, your grandfathering date should be at least three months before the date of the registrar’s initial visit or a stage-one audit for first-time certifications.

Can records be avoided when using the grandfather clause?

Some people wonder whether using the grandfather clause is a free pass to forgo records. The answer is no. You still need the records. Granted, those records may lack certain objective evidence, but that’s exactly where the grandfather clause comes in.
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Let’s go back to our mechanic Joe. You still need to have a personnel file (hard copy or electronic) with Joe’s application, résumé, training records, etc. Obviously, in our example, those records will show that he does not have a college degree. That’s when you invoke the grandfather clause. But what if Joe never filled out an application or doesn’t have a résumé? You need to have documentation showing when he was hired, and at minimum, you must have training records—even if the training records are only for when he was trained in the new ISO program and procedures.

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Australia Day Festival 26th January ..onyamate

Australia Day is on January 26 and commemorates the establishment of the first European settlement at Port Jackson, now part of Sydney, in 1788.

 It is an opportunity for Australians to come together to celebrate their country and culture.

There are reflections on the achievements of the nation and explorations of way to make the country even better in the future.
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Australians show their pride for their country on Australia Day.

Public life

Australia Day is a public holiday in all states and territories. All schools and post offices are closed. Some public transport services do not operate and others run a reduced service. Stores are often open, but may have reduced opening hours. There may be some congestion on roads, particularly close to major events.

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What do people do?

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Many people have a day off work and use the day to picnic in a park, to go shopping or to play or to watch sports events. In some places, particularly Lake Burley Griffin, spectacular public fireworks displays are held. In addition, the Australian of the Year Awards are presented. These are awards for Australians who have made an outstanding contribution to their country or community.
In some towns and cities, citizenship ceremonies are held on Australia Day. These are ceremonies to welcome immigrants to the country who have been granted Australian citizenship. Although official, these ceremonies often have a festive atmosphere.

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On January 26, 1788, the First Fleet of 11 ships from Great Britain arrived at Port Jackson, which now forms Sydney Harbour. The First Fleet was led by Captain Arthur Philip. He established the Colony of New South Wales, the first penal colony in Australia. By 1808, January 26 was being celebrated as “First Landing Day” or “Foundation Day” with drinking and merriment.
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Thirty years after the arrival of the First Fleet, in 1818, the Governor of Australia ordered a 30-gun salute, hosted a dinner ball at Government House and gave government employees a holiday. In the following years, employees of banks and other organizations were also given holidays. In the following decades, horse racing and regattas were popular activities on January 26.
In 1838, Foundation Day was Australia's first public holiday. It was also the occasion of the first public celebrations of the founding of Australia. The shores of Sydney Harbour were crowded and there was a firework display. By 1888, January 26 had become known as 'Anniversary Day' was celebrated in all colonies except Adelaide. In 1888, the centenary of the arrival of the First Fleet was celebrated with ceremonies, exhibitions, banquets, regattas, fireworks and the unveiling of a statue of Queen Victoria.
By 1935, January 26 was known as Australia Day in all states except New South Wales, where it was still called Anniversary Day. In 1938, large scale celebrations were held. These included a re-enactment of the landing of the First Fleet, which did not mention the convict status of many of the passengers on these ships. The re-enactment is included the removal of a group of Aborigines. Shortly before the celebrations, a group of Aboriginal activists arranged a “Day of Mourning”. They used this to campaign for citizenship and equal rights for Aborigines.
From 1946, January 26 was known as Australia Day in all states. However, the public holiday was moved to the Monday nearest to January 26 to create a long weekend.  Since 1994, the Australia Day public holiday has been on January 26 in all states and territories.
The anniversary of the first permanent European settlement in Australia is not a cause for celebration for all citizens. Indigenous Australians often feel that the celebrations on Australia Day exclude them and their culture, which was thriving for thousands of years before the arrival of the First Fleet.

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The main symbols of Australia Day are the symbols of Australia. These include the Australian national flag, with its representations of the Union Jack, the Commonwealth Star and the five stars of the Southern Cross, and the national anthem "Advance Australia Fair". Other symbols include the Golden Wattle, which is the national floral emblem, the opal, which is the national gemstone and the national colors of green and gold.

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Sunday, January 1, 2017


Basic Truths

You might be interested in knowing what scientists have discovered about why geese fly in a V- formation. It has been learned that as each bird flaps its wings, it creates an upward current for the bird immediately following it. By flying in a V-formation, the whole flock has at least 71% more flying power than if each bird flew on its own.
  1. People who share a common direction and communication get where they are going more quickly and easily because they are travelling together.
  2. Whenever a goose falls out of formation, it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of trying to go it alone, so it quickly gets back into formation to take advantage of the lifting power of the birds immediately in front of it.
  3. If we have as much sense as a goose we will stay in formation with those who are headed the same way we are going.
  4. When the lead goose gets tired, it flies to the back of the group and another goose flies the point.
  5. It pays to take turns doing hard jobs.The geese honk from behind to encourage those up front to keep up their speed.
  6. We need to be careful what we say when we honk from behind
  7. Finally, when a goose gets sick or is wounded by gunshot and falls out of formation, two other geese also fall out of formation to help and protect it. They stay with that goose until it is able to fly or it dies and then they launch out on their own with another formation to catch up with their group.
  8. If we have the sense of a goose we will stand by each other.
(Adapted from Harvey O Bennett’s address to Phi Theta Kappa, May 5, 1990)
Typically people think that success is good and confusion is bad. In our workshops, we’re always telling you that success is the most dangerous human experience because it keeps you from noticing other things and learning other ways of doing things.

That also means that any time you fail, there’s an unprecedented opportunity for you to learn something that you wouldn’t otherwise notice. Confusion is the doorway to reorganizing your perceptions and learning something new
If you were never confused, that would mean that everything that happened to you fit your expectations, your model of the world, perfectly.
Life would simply be one boring, repetitive experience after another. Confusion is a signal that something doesn't fit and that you have a chance to learn something new.
The phrase “unprecedented opportunity” is a reframe in itself, because it directs you to search for the opportunities that always exist, even in the worst disaster.
The character of the goose and teamwork is the one of the core values we populate in our culture at Central Insurance Brokers
Another core value belief is kinship with clients to establish trust and rapport, we are not sales people, we are professionals acting as a concierge to assist you in achieving best practices to protect your assets by way of best use of Insurance, that is a balance of personal needs and budgets.

We welcome you to call for a free health check on your Insurance and Risk management program to optimize budget and peace of mind. - social media channels