Month: January 2011

Let’s face it we all multitask out of necessity and with the goal of getting ahead. However (contrary to popular belief), research shows the brain cannot fully focus when multitasking.

The interference that comes when performing more than one task at a time creates a block which will impede your ability to efficiently finish a task. The ability to manipulate information and toggle tasks simultaneously will rarely benefit you in the long run.

Here Are 5 Reasons Multitasking is Keeping You Ineffective:

1.  Social Consequences. It is all too common to see people texting, listening to music and having a conversation with a friend at the same time. However, we are incapable of responding to our friends completely if we are juggling more than one task. A person will feel excluded if you start texting in the middle of a conversation because there is zero eye contact and connection. Multitasking when with friends or family creates a body language that says, “I am not connected with you and the social consequences are not worth it.” Living in your own world is the opposite of having a healthy social life.

2.  Hinderance to Happiness. If you are switching attention from cooking to talking to a friend, to helping with homework, to tweeting, then your brain will be on overload. With an endless sea of information at your fingertips and the ability to have so many choices, your happiness is compromised because you cannot fully complete each task with the attention it deserves. This leaves your spirit feeling incomplete, and possibly incompetent, thereby interfering with your happiness.

3.  Productivity is Compromised. When we fragment our attention, our ability to reason, learn, understand, work, and be creative is hindered. Our ability to produce and the depth of our focus continue to deteriorate as we juggle too many tasks at a time. We make more errors and that doubles the time of getting the job done efficiently.

4.  Lack of Clarity. When we are working on too many objectives at the same time our brain is conditioned to an over stimulated state. Physiologically it is impossible to maintain concentration. When we lack clarity there is a loss in the skill and the perseverance necessary to focus.

5.  Overstimulation. The human brain needs rest and recovery time to process ideas and memories. If we fill every second with habitual multitasking then the brain never receives the reprieve it needs to maintain concentration. The end result when the brain is overstimulated is that it cannot process and grow cognitively or socially.

Multitasking is ineffective. We are distracted by irrelevant information, rendering us less capable of focusing on a single line item.

Many people depend on synchronizing their lives through technology and integrating personal tasks. The computer encourages society to multitask, while leaving zero room for reflection, family relations or creativity.

It is impossible to properly plan or execute strategies to eliminate all your daily tasks if you attempt to do too much at once. Concentrating on one thing and suspending several other tasks will help you to create a sense of momentum, without ever feeling snowed under.

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Expand Your Dinner Options with this Asian Stir-Fry Dish

If you are a busy working mom and entrepreneur like me, we know that sometimes time is tight and resources are low in the kitchen. When this is the case, its options we seek.

Asian style stir fry is always a tasty and versatile option. You can serve it over a bed of rice or noodles and you can add in your vegetables of choice (or what you have in the fridge or pantry).

The sauce and seasoning of the meat (if using) is the key to any successful stir-fry.  Below please find my version of the “base” sauce.  Double it as necessary, I’m not one for measuring but this serves my family of 5 nicely.  I usually add meat or chicken, onions, red peppers, broccoli, carrots, zucchini, snow peas and water chestnuts.  Mushrooms and tofu would be a great addition as well.

Another key ingredient to making this a quick and easy meal is to plan ahead. For example, if you are using onions in a dish on Monday and you know you’re making stir fry on Wednesday, cut up extra onions and keep them reserved in the fridge.

Expand Your Dinner Options with this Asian Stir-Fry Dish

Here’s one of my recipes, what’s your favorite Asian Stir-fry recipe?

Meat:

  • 2 lb chicken or beef, sliced thin

Vegetables:

  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1 small package of snow peas
  • 1 can water chestnuts
  • Carrots, julienned

Sauce:

  • 1 cup chicken or beef broth
  • 2 Tablespoons of Hoisin sauce (or a spicy BBQ sauce works well too)
  • ¼ cup of soy sauce
  • 1 ½ tsp grated fresh ginger or 1 tsp of dried ground ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon of cornstarch

Other:

  • Olive, sesame or peanut oil
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 can Water chestnuts, sliced
  • Cooked rice or Asian noodles

Directions:

  • Sprinkle meat (chicken or beef, whatever you are using) with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a large measuring cup or bowl and set aside.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat in Wok or large non-stick pan, add meat and brown on both sides.
  • Remove meat from pan and set aside. (Meat will not be cooked through yet).
  • Add more oil if necessary to the pan, then add the vegetables and stir fry about 1 minute – just until the snow peas bright green and the onion begins to soften.
  • Return meat to pan.  Add in water chestnuts, then pour in the sauce, stir to coat. Cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Remove cover and cook for another 3-5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thicken.
  • Serve over white rice or Asian Noodles

Servings: 4 – 5

How do you make your dinner quick & easy?  Let me know your thoughts.

Betty Hakes is a working mom and entrepreneur. Her passion is to bring families back around the dinner table and to help business succeed locally and in the online space.

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Ten Things to Do To Jump Start Your Productivity for Next Year

For many of us, work slows down and we have a lot more free time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. Of course, a lot of that is taken up by holiday preparation and celebration, but why not take a bit of time to get a great start on your next year?

1. Purge and declutter. Do you need it? Will you ever need it? Is it irreplaceable? Make it easier to put your hands on the things that you do need by getting rid of the things that you don’t.

2. While you’re decluttering, go ahead and put all receipts and other documents you’ll need to file next year’s taxes in a folder or box.

3. You won’t be able to file your taxes until after the New Year and after you have all your documents in place, but that’s no reason you can’t get things started now. Find out what documents you’ll need that you might be missing (such as a social security number for  a new baby or tax identification numbers for contractors) and sort receipts by type.

4. While we’re at it, find out ways that you can still do this year to lower your tax bill.

5. You know all those broken things that trip you up and vex you every time you go to use them? Fix them or replace them. Life is easier when your things do the job that they were meant to do.

6.  Get caught up on your sleep and work on developing good sleep habits and hygiene.

7. Take some time off and completely relax. Your brain needs to see and do new things to keep growing and working its best so why not try exploring areas of your town that you’ve never gotten around to visit or playing new board games?

8. Read a book that can help explain how your mind works and what you can do to take advantage o f its natural inclinations rather than going against it. I recommend Your Brain at Work: Strategies for Overcoming Distraction, Regaining Focus, and Working Smarter All Day Long by David Rock.

9. Do care of all of those little nagging items on your to do list like returning library books and donating those old clothes to Goodwill. Breathe a sigh of relief.

10. Reevaluate your schedule and obligations. What makes you happy and motivates you? What makes you feel tired and hopeless? Even if you can’t immediately rid yourself of the energy drains, you can start on a plan to free yourself of them, which in turn can help with motivation and enthusiasm.

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Life is a whirlwind of activities, threatening to sweep you up and carry you away.

Nothing makes sense and your priorities are spinning out of control. You are officially sick of your lifestyle and have hit rock bottom.

You are tired of complaining and ready to do something about it.

Time is a priceless commodity, often depleted and leaving us living in vapor. It is all too easy to get mired in bad habits and time zappers such as procrastination, crisis management, media (television, telephones, technology), and emotional blocks ranging from stress to daydreaming.

Prioritizing your life’s tasks will help you find order, set precedents, and live up to the master plan you’ve designed for your best life.

Shift Your Priorities With These 5 Simple Tips!

1.Define your priorities by planning and using lists. A weekly calendar with daily to-do’s is a helpful tool to budget time and map out the activities that take precedence in the week. List daily, weekly, and monthly activities and prioritize the importance of each task with a ranking of  “A(most important),” “B,” or “C.”

2. Always keep your priorities in front of you and check them daily. This is the time when you create order, rearrange ideas, and ensure nothing is left out. Remember, the order of priorities isn’t permanent and should be a flowing, fluid list that is continuously adjusted as personal preferences or life alter each project. Use the master list to keep track of all your commitments. If you are worried about finishing something, put it on the list. Having a list helps you develop long term goals and frees your mental space for other items that need attention.

3. Be honest with yourself and never create impossible goals. Whatever your priorities are, give adequate time to each goal. Being realistic will lead you to a life of fulfillment. Whether your priority is family, health, or career, don’t fall into the trap of doing too much too soon. Take time to identify each priority and define the boundaries that will lead you to a positive outcome.

4. Take time for yourself to reflect. Taking time for yourself seems simple, yet it is the first thing we tend to neglect. When time isn’t set aside to regroup and reflect we feel frustrated, overwhelmed and stressed out. The end result is a loss of priorities and personal needs. Take five minutes in a quiet place to close your eyes and focus on your breathing. A peaceful mind will always lead to clearer thoughts.

5. Stick to the plan. You wouldn’t take a trip around the world without an itinerary. If you want to go anywhere in life you need to plan ahead and remain consistent.  Pinpointing the priorities and staying true to the personal goals requires great time management and perseverance.

Remember, life changes and your priorities will shift. You can’t manage all your tasks if you have not identified what needs to be done, determined the actions to accomplish the task and provided yourself with time to reflect. If you don’t set goals and prioritize, you can expect to spin your wheels.

Opportunities happen to people with a plan, and having one is half the battle to changing your life’s priorities.

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