Tag Archives: setting priorities

Creative Routine Hack: How to let go of old habits – and live and work with joy (1)

How much time do you spend on making plans and decisions? And how many of those do you actually carry through to completion? On time? Really?

And how often do you beat yourself up along the lines of “I should have”, “I could have” or “why didn’t I”?

Part One: To plan or not to plan – that’s the question

Continue reading

Colouring Time = Me-time

The past couple of weeks have been even busier than I had anticipated, and other than a few sketches I did not get any drawings done.

That’s changed now, and I’m working on a new project. 🙂

Well, it’s not so new, as I’ve been thinking about this for a while, but I hadn’t managed to put it into context until yesterday, and therefore I didn’t quite know where to start or on what to focus – there are so many possibilities…

What happened yesterday was that I got my first assignment for the Mini Digital Product Mastermind Group.

This first assignment was to describe and find the so-called Ideal Customer and to identify one to three problems this customer has. As you can imagine, describing an Ideal Customer for colouring pages is not really possible, they come from so many different backgrounds and enjoy colouring for many different reasons.

But there was something that probably most of them have in common in some way: Colouring for relaxation.

This is mostly because colouring gives us a time-out, a mini-break, me-time. It’s a time period where we can switch off and recharge our energies.

So that’s what my next project is specifically designed for. As a sneak preview I’ll also give you the description I posted for the first assignment:

For people with demanding jobs/businesses or multiple duties, like working Mums or Dads, that is people who are so busy, rushing around and stressed during their daily activities that they forget (or think they haven’t got the time) to
– smile
– take care of themselves first
– take regular mini time-outs for a reboot and for recharging their energies.
Also includes people who are surrounded by negativity, stressed co-workers or clients/customers/patients.

How about you? Are there times when you get caught up in your daily life that you forget to take regular me-time? Are you perhaps so involved that you need to “go to the bathroom” as an excuse for a time-out?

Or, if you do take mini-breaks, how long are they and what do you do? How well can you switch off, how refreshed do you feel afterwards?

And – in case you like colouring, doodling or tangles: What does it do for you, how does it make you feel?

I’d really love to know!

Maria ♥

Benefits of Colouring Pages for Adults

Benefits of Colouring Pages for Adults – http://worldofmagnifica.eu



Saying No to Survival Mode

What do you do when you’re running behind schedule? Run faster?

Since I started rolling with the Small Product Lab, ideas keep flowing, take on shape, expand…just wonderful! I love this creative energy and I want to do everything at once.

Of course I can’t. I can have – and I do have – several larger and smaller projects in progress, so I always got something that fits my current circumstances and mood and keeps me from getting into a rut. But it’s not possible to do two things at the same time and give them my full attention.

So the usual questions are Continue reading

My Own Pair Of Glasses

A few days ago, I tried to be clever.

When I work away from home, I usually put anything special in my bag the night before and routine stuff before I leave. Every once in a while I forget something in the morning rush.

That morning, just as I came from the bathroom, I saw both my husband’s and my reading glasses lying on the table, his a black metal skeleton with a brown chain, mine grey with a black chain; and neither of us could tell a dog from a cat looking through the other’s pair. I better take my glasses now, I thought, so I won’t pick up the wrong pair in the rush. I put my pair in its case and right away in my bag.

Shortly after I arrived at work, my husband phoned to wish me a fun day – with his reading glasses.

Lessons learned: 1. When trying to be clever, check again what I’m doing. 2. Only my own glasses let me see the world my way.

For lack of something better to do 😉 , I thought about how often we see the world through glasses which are not our own…

  • …following shoulds and musts which others have created
  • …not giving in to our intuition, but repeating “how we’ve always done it”
  • …getting stuck with our obsolete beliefs about how things are or should be
  • …defining our goals by comparison with what others do and are successful with
  • …entering the wrong “competitions” with others
  • …lazy thinking, that is not thinking for ourselves

…What are your examples, from your life, of looking through someone else’s glasses. Or in which cases has putting on your own glasses led to joy and success?


Playful Professionalism

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 14 & 15

Half-time = time for a pie and a hot-dog, and a revision – or rather…

Half-time watering, the Madejski Stadium - geograph.org.uk - 994437

…half-time watering 😉

For more than a week, this blog post title has been going through my head. That it didn’t make it into an article has got nothing to do with research and the often tedious task of finding real-life examples, but a lot with making my mind up…

…and after having made it through the Slump Swamp once again, I’m more convinced than ever that Playful Professionalism is not only possible, but the way to go.

Maybe you, too, know one of those “Playful Professionals” who don’t call their work “work”? Who enjoy what they are doing, even if it’s for a living? Who come out of the drag-or-drop phases of their jobs or projects more motivated than before?

What is considered “professional” is most of all a question of definition; here mine:

Professionalism is not limited to money-making activities, nor a hollow etiquette ritual following step-by-step instructions on “How not to horrify your customers”. It is an attitude encompassing whatever I can do to provide best service, paid for or not, and if it requires me moving beyond my likes and dislikes of the moment then I’ll do it.

Often enough though, I perceive and react to professionalism as if it were a set of rules engraved in granite – shoulds and musts which activate my Inner Terrier, who is quite the opposite of an Inner Schweinehund and starts digging deep tunnels under ground. My struggle with the spelling of the word stubbornness was just a small indication of that.

Playfulness however pulls me up and lifts me onto a different level, lets me explore the realms of non-thought and inspiration while distracting the terrier with a toy.

My conclusion: Pure, serious professionalism sure helps to get things done when the going is rough, but playfulness ensures that I’ve got and replenish the life energy to do so.

Coping with change – part 2

I had three wake-up comments these past two days (thank you all!) which made me look at what I didn’t want to know: I’ve allowed my terrier to take over, again…

My posts of the past two weeks actually show clearly where the problem is: one blog post a day, on which the terrier insisted. (Trisha, my novel is shouting AND doing a breakdance in front of me…) I do like blogging – I’m so happy about having met so many wonderful people through this blog – but those of you who followed from the beginning will remember that I had this issue (with my terrier) before.

I had arrived at an enjoyable and manageable two posts per week, and then came NaNoWriMo and my terrier pushed and nagged at me, making me feel guilty and obliged, provoking me with “You whimp…talking about exploring your boundaries, and avoiding the real challenge…”

Calling me whimp… That Kentucky-fried brontosauros leg should keep my hot-dog busy and quiet for a while – and I’m going to spend my early mornings on the island of “Magnifica’.

Official statement: For the second half of November, I’m waving the White Flag Of Surrender regarding the post-a-day, and focus on writing fiction.

I apologise to all  readers of this blog (and especially the NaNoWriters) who expected more tips and tools on a daily basis – I hope you find that you’re actually doing what you wanted to do in the first place.

What has your mid-month or mid-NaNoWriMo revision revealed about your novel and the process, or about new habits – or yourself?


PS: Apart from the comment notifications with the three wake-up calls there was another, related, message in my email inbox, from Glen Allsopp (ViperChill.com), whose informative and insightful blog posts I look forward to. Glen’s newest post covers the whole gamut of procrastination & habits, and purpose, process & results.

“The Post on Productivity I Wish Someone Else Had Written” is definitely the longest blog post I’ve ever read – and enjoyed all the way to the last full-stop. And: Thank you, Glen, for investing so much time and energy in research and writing! 🙂


“There is not a productivity method in the world that can help people as much as they can help themselves.

That’s it. Nothing too flash or (admittedly) interesting. It probably doesn’t make you very excited for the rest of this article either, so let’s hype it up a little. I elaborated on how I came to this conclusion with a friend and he sent me this email a few days later: 


And now, if you’re interested, I’ll elaborate on it for you.”

“If you just kind of want it, don’t expect anything more then just kind of wanted it results.”

My word count Days 14 & 15: blog: 1086 – novel: 0

Easy access to all posts this month via a new menu category: Specials >> November 2011: NaNoWriMo – But Not Only

Coping With Change

NaNoWriMo – But Not Only | November 2011, Day 11

Huh, had I thought my spontaneous commitment to a post-a-day would turn me into a prolific blogger, I’d need to think again (and let’s not mention the still more or less fictitious 25k).

Two days ago, my brain went on strike. The best I could do was to upload one of my emergency posts: Why?

Yesterday, after having written a longer comment (a tip for learning a foreign language), life took over…

… and I admit I was about to skip this post as well, when I realized that I could do exactly what I do with writing: Mark The Gap or problem for revision – and go on as I feel appropriate right now.

What I intended to do

In October already I took notes on my blog post for 11th November, to post on the 10th: Remembrance/Veterans Day, A Minute For Peace, and in some parts of Germany the official beginning of the German Carnival Season (Why in November, when carnival marks the beginning of lent? Well, you need a few months to organise the fun, of course…). I was looking forward to the challenge of linking these topics, but not so much to the research involved (as I wantedthe article to be).

In case you’re curious how the carnival fits in with war and peace, here a few of my  bullet points:

  • “carne vale” = “good bye, meat” = the beginning of the spring fast, a physical and spiritual cleansing (“detox”, in modern English)
  • driving away the evil winter spirits by going over the top (the Basler Fasnacht (“fast night” = “Eve of the Fast”)
  • to minimize going over the top, carnival is usually organized in troops, with floats or without, and at least in Germany, Switzerland and Austria occasionally in army-inspired uniforms, (some dating back, as far as I remember, to the times of Napoleon Bonaparte, e.g.  Rheinish Carnival in Cologne)
  • conclusions??

[This represents the gap – to be filled in next year, maybe…]

Schränz-Gritte, Carnival of Basel / Switzerland

Carnival in Basel/Switzerland - Image via Wikipedia

What you get instead

…is a real-life, real-time example of how I write…and how I strive to live: adapting to internal and external change – not by simply caving in, neither by letting myself being pushed around by shoulds and musts, nor by giving up, and not any more by beating myself up, but by choosing how to go on now, “after the fact”, and staying open for revision, sooner or later.

“Commitment”, “self-discipline”, “pushing through the barrier” are great helpers – as long as you like them and believe in their value. After almost 40 years of allowing them to get the better of me (and having developed a distinct aversion, not to say allergy, against pressure) I have, for the past 10 years, turned from struggle, building up resentment, self-punishment, self-reward  and the “that’s how it is -there’s nothing I can do about it” of the 16 basic desires connected with intrinsic motivation:

  • If I don’t like it, I can choose again (that is I stop to ask myself what learned from this experience, then let go and move on)
  • If it’s one of those things where I feel “I haven’t got a choice” (there always is one alternative: “to do or not to do”) I go with whatever leads me towards the life I want to live – if I still don’t like it, hard luck, I’ll do it anyway
  • The result is the reward – the only one and the best one
  • I choose consciously which desires I give in to – or not

Instead of fighting or cajoling my Inner Schweinehund* (and wasting a lot of money on sausages) I open the gates and let him run wherever he wants, and get on with what I want to do NOW 🙂

By the way, embracing change get’s a lot easier with practice – and can even turn into fun 😉


*In German, referring to someone as a Schwein or Sau (female pig) can mean that person is externally dirty, but also (perhaps even more so) dirty-minded, foul, mean, lazy.

The Schweinehund was originally simply a dog that guarded the pigs = “pig”herd dog. During the 19th century, “Schweinehund” found it’s way into student’s language as an insult, referring to someone who is lazy and/or a coward.

Der innere Schweinehund would be that part of us that keeps saying “nah” or “later” and finding or making up excuses…

My word count Day 11: blog posts: 860 – novel: a big Zero – with : for eyes and a D for a grin 😀

Btw: You can still join the Writing Buddies 🙂 – and it’s not too late to sign up for NaNoWriMo 2011, either 😉

Easy access to all posts this month via a new menu category: Specials >> November 2011: NaNoWriMo – But Not Only