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9 steps to help you work less and do more


work less do more(   )  

Okay, so who doesn't want to work less and do more? Unless you're doing what you love every single day (and, seriously, how many people have the luxury of that?), you probably would like to work less and do more with your life. I know I would! So I was thrilled when I recently was asked to review Stever Robbins' book 9 Steps to Work Less and Do More. When I saw the request for a review come up in my email in-box I thought to myself, "Sounds perfect! I'm all about productivity and this book seems like it's right up that alley." And, no surprise, it really turned out to be a great book about how to get more done so that you will have more time to do what it is that you truly want to be doing. 

According to the book's back cover, the book "will help you break the bad habits slowing you down and holding you back. Work less and do more -- your free time is waiting!" And those words ring so true. Life is short and we all want to be living the best life we can be. With the help of Robbins' advice, I found that there are so many ways to be working more efficiently so that I can have time to do what I love to do. Below are the nine steps featured in the book -- a little taste of the influential content you'll find if you pick up a copy of the book. 


The Nine Steps

Step 1: Live and work on purpose

If you're anything like me, a lot of what you call work has very little to do with getting anything important done in life. Like when I compulsively check my social media sites every hour. That kind of thing must go.

Step 2: Stop procrastinating

What is procrastinating except the very art of not doing the very stuff you know is most important? We'll cover how to nip this in the bud, or at least arrange for someone to kick you into action when you're delaying. And just in case you're someone who claims being kicked into action doesn't work for you, we'll get out an Ostrich feather and tickle you into action instead.

Step 3: Conquer your technology

Our supposed savior, technology, is for many of us, the greatest obstacle we have to being truly productive. You'll learn how to use your technology to help you focus, instead of   hey, hang on a second. There's an instant message coming in.

Step 4: Cultivate focus

Do you have any idea how much time is wasted multi-tasking? A lot. If you keep yourself focused and eliminate distractions, you can toss yourself into the kind of flow where the results come fast and easy. And you'll do it entirely without the use of pharmaceutical supplements.

Step 5: Stay organized

When you have a place for everything and everything in its place, it's no work at all to find what you need, when you need it. I'm not just talking about physical clutter; this is also about organizing your thinking, your projects, and your processes. Reclaim all that time you otherwise spend hunting for the next step, the next paper, or the next person by knowing exactly where to go and what to do when you need it.

Step 6: Don't waste time

Sometimes you appear to be doing exactly, precisely what you should be doing, but are actually wasting time that could be spent doing something more meaningful, like eating bon-bons and sipping fruit flavored beverages in a hammock strung between your computer and your doorframe.

Step 7: Optimize!

As I mentioned before, doing things twice bores me silly. Especially when it comes to making mistakes. In Optimize, you'll learn how to do things once or twice, streamline them to the point where the task is completely brainless, and   Let's just say that I'll leave you to connect the dots. Think, "brain-eating Zombies." The implications will jump right out.

Step 8: Build stronger relationships.

You can't get there alone; you need someone to program the GPS while you're trying to read street signs. Relationships are, ultimately, how everything gets done. Together, we can do far, far more than we can alone. For example, one of us can measure while the other mixes, and then we can both eat the cookies when they're ready. You'll learn some excellent ways to create and deepen the relationships that matter most.

Step 9: Leverage!

The ultimate in Doing More, our final destination of leverage will give you several ways to make sure when you do get results, you get better, stronger, and faster than you'd ever dreamed possible.

As anyone with a busy schedule knows, it can be hard to find time to get all of your work done and still have any time (or energy!) left over for doing the things you love. If you got value out of the 9 steps listed here (and I know I sure did!), you should check out Robbins' book and get some more great advice on how to make the most of your time so that you, like Robbins, can work less and do more. If you want more advice, pick up a copy of the book, check out this interview with Robbins, or check out some audio samples from the book. You won't be disappointed with the great, entertaining content that will certainly help you to work less and do more. 


What advice would you add for working less and doing more?
Do you have any great work-less-do-more resources?  

the vision board: envisioning who you want to be

dani letters


“A vision is not just a picture of what could be;
 it is an appeal to our better selves, a call to become something more.”

Rosebeth Moss Kanter

Above is a picture of my "vision letters," a version of a vision board that I created about a year ago. Many of you have probably heard about a vision board, but if you're not familiar with the concept, it's basically a board you create and post images and words that you want in your life. The underlying purpose of this board is to use the Law of Attraction (the belief that you can attract things to you in your life if you focus your thoughts on them) to bring the things you want in your life to you. Over the past few years, the vision board, and the concept behind the Law of Attraction, has been brought to popular media lately by the book The Secret and its been featured on shows like Oprah

I'm still not certain where I stand when it comes to the Law of Attraction, but I can't deny that the more positive things I focus on in my life, the more positive things seem to come my way. Shortly after I created my vision letters last year, I moved. When I arrived in my new place and hung the letters up, they fell down one by one. Irritated by them (and not entirely sure I even wanted them hanging on my wall), I tucked them into a box beneath the bed and pretty much forgot about them until I came across this beautiful picture that my boyfriend took last year. 

I'd been meaning to write about the vision letters about a year ago and I'd asked him to take some great pictures of them outside so I could use them on the blog. However, I started writing about other tops and one post lead to another and, before I knew it, the vision letters post had been forgotten. When I came across the picture the other day, I decided to pull the letters out and see if, even though I'd been ignoring them and had rudely shoved them beneath the bed, any of the things I'd wanted so badly in my life a year ago had come to fruition... 

Since it's a little hard to see the details on the picture, beautiful as it is, I've written out the words and images that I placed on those four letters so you can see what I was focused on in my life at that time. These are the things I wanted to have, in one form or another, and after writing them down for you, it's going to be very interesting to see whether or not I really was able to attract these things to my life (even with the letters under the bed in hiding). 



 dream, sunshine, luck, hope, health, fall leaves, sprinkles, fun, happy, Christmas lights, camera, yes-I-can-thinking, opportunities, kisses, hearts, wonderland, California, "live life to create," Oprah show, shine, travel around the world, birthday candles, full moon, guitar playing, clouds, money, music, hand holding, make someone smile, love letter, adorable dog, palm trees, Oscar statue  


 stars, now!, give thanks, girl writing, rainbow, freedom, pencil, hand writing, bathing suit, fireworks, painting, four leaf clover, look at the stars, butterfly, smile, money, cupcakes, inspiration, comfortable shoes, drawing, fall leaves, love, an intensely passionate kiss, sex, silver lining, mindful, freedom, health, "ban self-doubt," my name on the cover of a book   

 love, peace, "summer state of mind," laughter, sparkly things, "long live happy," writing, collaged artwork, a huge stack of books, heart, happy, killer high heels, "feel that you're contributing positively," $$$, sprinkles, "dreaming wide awake," palm trees, silliness, glitter, a picture of a dog from Guardians of Being (symbolizing how my dog keeps me present), "look back--and learn," Real Simple, a deep sleep, "dream in colors," paint, kissing, confidence, peace symbol, bright colors, "it is what it is," friendship  


 peace love music symbol, sandy toes, snowflakes, a wrapped present, happy, kisses, energetic, blue sky, colorful designs, bright sun, clock, sunglasses, modern art, relaxed woman, luxury, hearts, growth, suitcase, "be," a dog's nose, shining star, brilliant friends, stronger, "if you think positively, it will happen"


Hmmm... Wow. When I look back on the words and images I've placed on those letters two things happen: (1) I realize that some of my visions are consistent with those of a four-year-old little girl, and (2) I see that a lot -- in fact, most! -- of those things actually happened to me since I made those letters. While I didn't make it onto Oprah to discuss my best-selling novel or clutch happily at the Oscar I won for writing an amazing screenplay, I did find an amazing love filled with kisses and love notes and starry skies. I found a way to love someone else wholeheartedly and love myself at the same time. I've made positive choices and really believe that I'm making a positive difference in the world. Over the past year, I've grown stronger, happier, and more at peace with myself. I believe in myself more and I believe more in the opportunities that are all around me. 

Over the past year, I've spent hours and hours bathing suit-clad in the sunshine (some of those hours surrounded by palm trees!), I've looked up at a sky filled with falling stars, and I've watched the fall leaves float slowly down to the ground. I've strung Christmas lights and stared out the window at a snow-filled world. I've started really working on making my dreams a reality, striving to make what I want into what is. Since I created those letters, I've upheld strong bonds with my friends. I took a visit, in my own way, to Wonderland. I have been grateful, and I have given thanks for what I have been given. 

After creating those letters, I've had sunshine and luck, hope and health. I've had fun (especially with the camera I bought this year). I've felt passionate and lucky, looking for opportunities and opening my heart to a great new love. I've celebrated with birthday candles and tilted my head up to look in wonder a full moon. I've sat in the audience on more than one occasion, watching a band perform and soaking up their music. I've heard great songs and made someone smile. I've cuddled and played with my dog. I've seen rainbows and words that I've written. I've navigated my eyes through the pages of books and pulled over on the side of the road to watch unexpected fireworks. I've seen butterflies flitting from flower to flower and bit into delicious treats covered in sprinkles. I've laughed so hard tears have come to my eyes and I've found someone that I can be hilariously silly with. I've dreamt and slept deeply, waking to realize that so many of my dreams have already come true. I've thought positively and smiled up into brilliantly blue skies. I've pushed painted toes into high heels and slid sock-covered feet into comfortable tennis shoes. I've been creative and artistic; I've been energetic and confidently relaxed; I've been mindful and I've been strong. 

I have, above all else, become more me. Maybe that is what a vision board is all about -- finding more of yourself. Though the letters have been tucked away, deep down I've always known what I wanted out of my life -- to love, to write, to be happy. The letters, inspiring as they were when I created them, aren't necessary. Vision boards are inspiring, sure, but we don't need them to create the lives we want to be living. What we need is to have an understanding of who we are, who we want to be, and how we plan to get what we want. 

Whether or not you choose to make a vision board, know this: every day is a chance to envision what you want and go after it. You might not realize it, but the more you focus on what you want, the more likely you'll be to get it. I'm still not sure if I can say the Law of Attraction is all that its believers say it is, but it's hard not to have a little faith in it when I look back and see what I wanted and how I eventually got many of those things. Not every single "vision" I had became a reality, but so many of them did. And, hey, who knows -- maybe someday I will be holding that Oscar or smiling at you from the pages of Oprah's magazine... 

Have you ever created a vision board? Did you think it worked for you?
What do you envision for yourself and your life? How do you plan to attract those things to you? 

words to live by: days like this

happy days (  )



Days like this you look up at the sky above you.

Days like this you think about the ones that love you.


And all I wanna do is live my life honestly.

I just wanna wake up and see your face next to me.

Every regret I have will go set free.

It will be good for me. 



Days like this you think about the ones that went before you.

Days like this...have you ever seen the sky such a clear blue? 


And all I wanna do is live my life honestly.

I just wanna wake up and see your face next to me.

Every regret I have will go set free.

It will be good for me.

It will be good for me.  



And all I wanna do is live my life honestly.

I just wanna wake up and see your face next to me.

Every regret I have will go set free.

It will be good for me.

It will be good for...



Days like this you think about the ones that love you.

Days like this... have you ever seen the sky such a clear blue?



"Days Like This"
 Kim Taylor




"Words To Live By" is a segment on Positively Present that features my favorite quote or lyrics from the week. Every Sunday I post a quote or lyrics that have inspired me with the hope that they'll inspire you too. Comments will be closed on these posts, but feel free to tweet the post if you enjoy it or contact me via Twitter

guest post: following your heart's rules

follow your heart
 (  )

Today's post was written by Jonathan Figaro, author of The Dropout Kid and a frequent commenter on Positively Present, and a deeply creative soul. His words, even in the brief comment format I usually read them in, often speak volumes and this post is no exception. What you'll read here is different than the typical Positively Present post, but if you open your mind to Jonathan's words, you'll find that they ring true with wisdom and inspiration. Even at the young age of 22, Jonathan has a lot of great knowledge to share with you today. Enjoy the post! 

Levitate your mind... Open your eyes... Speak though the windows of your soul and wipe away the negativity that stains your windowsills. The words seem to pierce me like a dagger from the hands of Brutus. They come from the mouth of she who wears fire-red stilettos, stands taller than Goliath, and speaks in tongues only I can understand. She is a devil in disguise, who desires you to be a better person.

Don’t let her intimidating dexterity disallow your mind from seeing the truth in her words. She is everything you need and everything you desire. She is the hot fire in the eyes of those who desire to become better. She is the fire underneath the toes of those who desire to run the game of life, by their rules, not others'. She’s the one who tells the insecure kid in back of the class that one day he will be king.

Who is she? She is your HEART.

Pumping gallons of red and white blood cells through your veins, you need you realize one thing: You all have hearts of gold that shine brighter than rings and last longer than adult superstars who have decided not to pursue their college dreams. Your heart is all the optimism you need in life. For if you follow your heart -- meaning, if you follow her rules and regulations -- you’ll no longer read this blog (sorry, Dani =), and you’ll no longer need your 9-5 job (unless you’re giving someone you know a recommendation to your former employer). But to follow her, you must first know the rules of your heart... 

The Two Rules of Your Heart

Rule #1: F*%k Fear. Fear is her husband’s M.O. But your heart, she’s a bit different. She likes to influence those who may be under a dry spell of successful thinking. She advocates devilish ways to end procrastination and work towards making you better by dropping hints most are too scared to follow. 

She says things like, “Go for it, let’s see where it takes you or don’t worry everything will work out in the end." But you seldom pay her any attention. Without her guidance  you lose sight of what you should do, how far you should go, and where you can be if you put on a smile rather than a frown. But are too blind to see that your heart can never steer you wrong even if it was colder than the winter in Poland. 

You have to listen to the voice in your head. Listen to your heart beat. Listen to the little guy that says “Yes, you can!" Avoid the voice that says “No, you can’t...” Be patient, for it takes time to be conscious enough to listen to your higher self. But when it happens it’s truly something magical. I listened to myself when I decided to approach Dani for a guest post. Now look at me! Listen to your heart; it can take you places you’d never imagine.

Rule #2: Get Yourself a Goal. Without a goal, you’ll never be free. You can never be successful, happy, or even mildly ambitious if you don’t have a sense of direction. Imagine you took a trip to Canada with your family. Imagine you’re in the car you wish you didn’t own with your overweight husband that pays you no mind, your two beautiful kids, and your mother-in-law. Four hours away from home, you realize one thing: You’re lost and you have no way of getting back. You had been driving without a map and now you’re stuck between a rock and a hard spot.

What are you to do? Don’t ask me; I always have a map with me. But what I can tell you is never leave your house without a map. And don’t ever live your life without a goal. Goals are meant to stretch your heart, mind, and soul. They are set into a black and white picture frame for all to see, capturing the moment and framing up your accomplishments. Allowing you to pat yourself on the back like you just go drafted into the NBA after everyone including our mother said “You can't win.” 


Accept the words from your heart and be happy, be healthy, find your purpose, and love each other. Listen to your heart and never give in to the dark side. Follow her rules. 




This post was written by Jonathan Figaro, the voice behind The Dropout Kid where he writes all about living a life of possibility. You can sign up for his RSS feed and receive his updates or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.

book review: how to live a creative life

life a creative life 

“You must give up the life you planned
 in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”

Joseph Campbell


Authors and publishers will often come to me and ask if I'd like to review a book on Positively Present and, if it interests me (and I think it would interest YOU!), I usually say yes. However, for the first time in Positively Present book review history, I went out of my way and contacted an author to ask if I could review her book -- which means this review is a pretty special one because it's a book that I came across and wanted to read and review. A few weeks ago, I came across a mention of Creative, Inc. on Oh Joy!'s blog (which is a great site for anyone with a creative soul) and it sounded like something I just had to read. I contacted Joy and she got in touch with the publisher and shortly thereafter I was tearing open the brown packaging to expose the beautiful cover of Creative, Inc.: The Ultimate Guide to Running a Successful Freelance Business

If you have any interest in living a more creative life or running an successful freelance business, this is the book for you. It's one of the first steps I've taken to living a life that makes me truly happy (read: It's Never Too Late: 5 Steps for Becoming Who You Want To Be), and I'm so excited that I reached out the Joy and got a copy of this great resource. Already I feel more motivated and more on the right track to making my dreams a reality. For anyone who's interested in being creative or running a business, I'd highly recommend picking up a copy of this book. Here are some of the great bits of information I gathered from what I read... 

How To Live a Creative Life

  1. Find great resources like Creative, Inc. As it says in Creative, Inc., you have to "gather as much information as possible to set yourself up for success." Any process, creative or otherwise, requires a good information-gathering session and one of the best ways to begin is to find excellent resources from which you can learn a lot. Creative, Inc. even has a section in the back of the book which directs you to all of the great resources referenced in the book. A resource for resources -- brilliant! 
  2. Focus on what you really love to do. Creative, Inc. says, "you have to be passionate about what you do," and I completely agree with that statement. It can be tempting to do what you're told you're good at or to spread yourself thin dabbling in too many different project, but the key to living a successful and creative life is to focus your attention on what you really, truly love to do and give that your all. As the book says, "ultimately you should focus on offering the specific set of skills in which you excel and what you enjoy the most." Agreed! 
  3. Be endlessly curious about what you do. "Curiosity keeps your mind primed as a creative tool, keeps you open to new ways of working and looking at things," according to Creative, Inc. With it, you've come to the place where you want to live a creative life, but don't stop being curious just because you've determined that a creative life is the way to go. In order to keep a creative life fresh and exciting, you have to constantly be in a state of wonder, always curious about your work and the world around you. 
  4. Believe in yourself. Always. When you're working on a life that helps your make your creative vision a reality, it's imperative that you believe in what you're doing and the work you're able to accomplish. Confidence in yourself and your work is essential. In Creative, Inc., I read, "You must have the confidence to suggest your own ideas and bring your voice into the conversation." When you're starting out on a creative endeavor this confidence can be hard to come by, but never forget to believe in yourself. 
  5. Have a positive outlook, even when it's tough. Remember, as Creative, Inc. reminds it's readers, "a negative attitude won't make anything any better." Living a creative life isn't always easy (so I'm told), but it's important to stay positive even during the rough patches. Creative, Inc. advises its readers to "do your best to stay positive, no matter what unexpected problems arise," and I take that advice to heart. It's hard to be positive at times, but keep focusing on the good! 
  6. Set goals and be proactive about achieving them. When living creativity, goals and structure can seem like an afterthought...but they are vital elements to any creative life's success. Creative,Inc. advising setting up a business plan (and provides great ideas for how to do this) and also suggests that "every once and awhile, step away from the spate of tasks at hand to set some goals." Creative, Inc. provides some excellent questions to get you started on your goal-setting. Once the goals are in place, don't forget to be proactive about achieving them and, if necessary, revising them. 
  7. Don't get discouraged. One of my favorite lines in the book is this: "Don't get discouraged by how green you are, and don't let the achievements of others deflate you." When you're taking on a new lifestyle (something so few actually do!), it can be frustrating and hard not to get discouraged, but Creative, Inc. reminds you to keep going to and provides great tips and insights for how to make sure that you're prepared for the good and the bad. New things are often difficult, but don't let the newness of a creative life hold you back from diving in head-first. 
  8. Find time for what you love and who you love. Creative, Inc. has a entire section to balancing your work life and your personal life, a necessity for anyone who is choosing not to live a traditional 9-5 existence. Creative, Inc. knows that "setting goals and efficient work habits and allowing yourself more 'me time' will keep the 'workaholic' label at bay." When choosing to live a creative life, it's important to balance what you love to do and those you love to spend time with. Creating this balance takes effort but it's a very critical step in creating a successful creative lifestyle. 
  9. Open your mind to feedback. When you're living a creative life, you're bound to hear some feedback -- both positive and negative. It's important to be open to everything you hear and to take others' words into account as you manage life as a creative individual. When it comes to criticism, Creative, Inc. says, "you'll need to thicken your skin and remember that [its] not a personal attack." You must learn to be open to criticism, and you must also be open to asking others' opinions. Find people in the field that you admire and ask for feedback. It's a great way to learn more about the work you love -- and about yourself. 
  10. Balance the now and your future. When it comes to a creative life, it can be hard to balance what you're doing now with what you want to be doing in the future, but it's important that you spend the time valuing both your future and your present moment. You have to focus on what you love to do now and find ways to continue what you love doing in the future. As with any lifestyle, balance is key, and no balance is more important than that between your present and your future.  

There's a lot that goes into choosing a creative life. It's not an easy choice and it's not the right choice for everyone. However, if it's a choice you've made (or are planning to make), the words of wisdom from Creative, Inc. can help you as you make your way down an nontraditional road. The key is to find great inspiration, something I'm grateful to have I've found in Creative, Inc. In addition to the inspiration I've been receiving from this amazing book, Creative, Inc., I've also found another amazing resource for inspiration from Scoutie Girl. Scoutie Girl's Creative Action free e-course is inspiring me big time lately. I signed up for it a few weeks ago and day after day I've been receiving inspiring emails that are encouraging me and pushing me along to living a more creative life. If you have any interest in living a more creative life, I would highly recommend signing up for Scoutie Girl's e-course and picking up a copy of Creative, Inc.  

What advice would you offer someone trying to live a creative life? 
How do you celebrate creativity in your life?