45-Second De-Stress Tips

If you’re anything like me, you wake up in the morning, hit the ground running, and only stop thinking about your job when your head hits the pillow. So, needless to say, I occasionally have days where I’m stressed out of my mind. Americans increasingly seem to be living life in the fast lane. A better understanding of the harm that stress can cause, as well as the possibility of some benefits, would help an increasing number of people. You may think that your day is too jam-packed with deadlines and events to find the time for relaxation…and you’d be wrong. Believe it or not, you can take measures to reduce your stress levels that will only take 45 seconds of your time. Here are some tips that can help you de-stress in record time.

1. Read a Poem

Take 45 seconds to read over your favorite poem. Beautiful language can really twist your mind in a way that helps to push away the cares of the day. And even if poetry isn’t really your thing, you might find enjoyment in reading something with a humorous bent.

2. Blow Off Some Steam

Get up and get moving, just for the amount of time it takes to hum a couple rounds of “Happy Birthday”. If you can burn off some of that nervous energy, you’ll feel energized, refreshed, and far more mentally capable of handling the stresses of your day. If you can get some sun in during those precious few seconds, so much the better. Never underestimate the power of fresh air and sunshine to improve your mood.

3. Follow Your Nose

Peel an orange at your desk and crush the rind in your hand to release the scent of the orange. Orange is a great scent to help you feel energized and rejuvenated.

4. Elevate Your Brain

Meditate, pray, commune with nature…whatever works for you. Take a few moments to center yourself, open your mind, and get spiritual…if that sort of thing is helpful for you.

5. Pump Your Jam

There’s a reason that sporting arenas play songs when introducing the starting lineup for a sports team. The right song can change your outlook on life in less than 45 seconds. The trick is to find a song snippet that works for you.

Maybe it’s something off a Jock Jams compilation album, or the over-the-top intro to “The Final Countdown”. Alternatively, maybe a extract of something classical would be better for calming you. It comes down to personal preference, and exactly what about your day has got you so stressed out.

6. Don’t Forget to Breathe

Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Slowly. Repeat. Make sure the breaths are steady and full. It’s just that simple.

7. Chuckle

Hit the randomizer button on your favorite web comic, engage in cube warfare with a co-worker, or check out a website that offers a “Joke of the Day” service. Laughter really is the best medicine, and if you can laugh away the stress, your outlook for the rest of the day will be a lot brighter.

8. Organize

Sometimes the best way to tackle stress is to clean house and get organized. Set up a new email filter, organize your paperwork, clean the clutter off your desk, or something along those lines. When you have all your ducks in a row, so to speak, your workload will seem a lot more manageable.

9. Chow Down

Eating or drinking helps to relax us. That’s why we give pacifiers to babies. Just try to make sure you’re making smart food choices (ie, choose a crunchy apple over a bag of potato chips).


There just aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. Stress management is an incredibly important tool, and the more techniques you can master to lower your blood pressure, the better. With just 45 seconds, you can de-stress and re-focus your mind to maximize your productivity.

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GOP Economic Policy Has Failed

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Learn It, Love It, Live It…










It is rare that someone makes such a profound impression on me, and as I write this I wonder how many millions of others think the same as I do.  As an owner of Apple products iPod Touch, MacBook Pro, and an iPhone I have bought into the belief that Apple knows exactly what they are doing with regards to mobile technology. Steve Jobs was the face of that technology, the CEO of Apple for so many years, and the one who helped usher in the era of personal computers.

To me and the many that have followed the annual Apple WWDC (Worldwide Developer’s Conference) show with baited breath and anticipation the water cooler talk and rumors flew on what exactly the man in the black turtleneck was going to release to the public.  Rarely were we disappointed.  Steve was described as a visionary, a pop culture icon, mercurial leader, who thought nothing was unimaginable.  The best way I would like to remember him is what I heard on the night of his passing and that was he will be remembered as the Einstein of our generation. A man, who never graduated from college but yet was a voracious reader, once told a reporter that taking LSD was one of the two or three most important things he had done in his life died of a net worth of 8.3 billion dollars and besides leaving behind a wife, and four children left behind 49,000 loyal employees. He spoke of death in a way that inspired many to follow their dreams; “Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything–all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure–these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important.”

Jobs demanded excellence – his belief was to create an environment where excellence is really expected,” he said; “My best contribution is not settling for anything but really good stuff, in all the details. That’s my job — to make sure everything is great. His heroes were Bob Dylan and the Beatles, once asked if his dream was to get Paul McCartney to perform one of those sweet two-song live sets that often close his keynotes. “My dream,” he joked, “is to bring out John Lennon.” As I stated earlier – the man was unimaginable.

Below is the commencement address he gave to the 2005 graduating class at Stanford University, in a way just like the man it is awe inspiring.  As I read it over and over, several times today I am reminded, even inspired to continually change my life and find that one thing that makes me truly happy –  Learn It, Love It, Live It…

‘You’ve got to find what you love,’ Jobs says

This is a prepared text of the Commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005.

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I’ve ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That’s it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: “We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?” They said: “Of course.” My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

And 17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents’ savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn’t see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn’t interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn’t all romantic. I didn’t have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends’ rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on. Let me give you one example:

Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, it’s likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky — I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parent’s garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation — the Macintosh — a year earlier, and I had just turned 30. And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn’t know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down – that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me — I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the world’s first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I returned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple’s current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn’t even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor’s code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you’d have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I’m fine now.

This was the closest I’ve been to facing death, and I hope it’s the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.

Thank you all very much.

Steve Jobs R.I.P.

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Understanding Help Wanted Ads

  1. Competitive Salary – we remain competitive by paying less than our competitors.
  2. Join our fast-paced team – we have no time to train you.
  3. Casual work atmosphere – we don’t pay enough to expect that you’ll dress up; well, a couple of the real daring guys wear earrings.
  4. Must be deadline oriented – you’ll be six months behind schedule on your first day.
  5. Some overtime required – some time each night and some time each weekend.
  6. Duties will vary – anyone in the office can boss you around.
  7. Career-minded – female applicants must be childless (and remain that way).
  8. No phone calls please – we’ve filled the job; our call for resumes is just a legal formality.
  9. Seeking candidates with a wide variety of experience – you’ll need it to replace three people who just left.
  10. Requires team leadership skills – you’ll have the responsibilities of a manager, without the pay or respect.
  11. Good communication skills – management communicates, you listen, figure out what they want and do it.
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Get What Matters Done by Scheduling Time Blocks

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            The things that matter most to you need to be scheduled — no matter what The demands on our time are greater now than ever before. With information coming at us faster than we … Continue reading

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Day In the Life

Ever been in that state of consciousness where you’re half asleep but totally aware of everything and everyone around you?  You hear the clock, the dog sleeping near the bed is snoring quite loudly while doing some serious Z’s, and every bad commercial for sleep aids is running through your head that it is causing you to have nightmares?  Hey Charlie Sheen – am I W-I-N-N-I-N-G yet?

Just when you finally drifted off to slumber land, Mr. Responsibility comes a knocking with his alarm music playing from the clock radio and I hear John Lennon sing his Day In the Life…

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup,
And looking up I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat
Made the bus in second splat
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke,
and Somebody spoke and I went into a dream

Time to get up and go make the donuts!  Hit the shower and accidently turn on the cold water instead of hot, cut myself while shaving, close the medicine cabinet door on my finger – man it’s a banner day so far – hell I’m afraid to go much farther – hey Mr. Lennon are you sure I’m still not dreaming?

Wake the wife up as I am heading out the door and the 3 large dogs want to go out – o.k. o.k. I get the message!

Am I complaining – hell no I got a job where they do nothing but complain.  Where the residents of stoopid town all seem to have my phone number or e-mail address and ask the craziest of questions.  But I got TIGER BLOOD – I GOT THIS!!!

So remember when you’re having a bad day – no matter what day it is – press on, because as John Lennon sang to us so many years ago – it’s all a “Day In the Life”.  Have a good one…

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How to Simplify a Complicated Decision

You make decisions every day, all day long. With all of that practice, why is it so easy to get hung up on the biggies?

  • Snooze button or wake right up?
  • Coffee or tea?
  • Button down shirt, or pullover?
  • Cereal or fruit?

That’s a lot to think about all before breakfast. Those are not examples of complicated decisions. In fact, we can usually make those choices without a list of pros and cons, or giving them too much thought.

What happens when you need to make a big decision? The trick is to apply some of your gut instincts that you use in your daily, simple decision making to the big choices too. You know what’s best for you and your family, and once you start to trust that, you will make better decisions faster.

Steps to Simplify a Complicated Decision

  • Don’t ask everyone about what you should do. 

If you ask 5 people to give you their opinion, you will get 5 different answers. That input will lead to second-guessing and confusion. Consult the people who will be directly affected by your decision and let everyone else know what you’ve decided, with confidence.

  • High/Low

What is the best thing and worst thing about each choice? Is the best thing worth putting up with the worst things?

  • Call it

You may take time to actually make your decision, but when presented with the choice, your gut/heart/intuition or whatever it is that speaks to you, will give you an immediate answer. Write it down. That written answer could be the tiebreaker.

  • Be grateful for the opportunity

If you see your options as a burden instead of an opportunity, you may not choose wisely. Once you realize how fortunate you are to have the choice put in front of you, you can act accordingly.

  • Consider the escape clause.

What happens if you back out? Recognizing that something is reversible makes it easier to take the leap.

  • Take the pressure off. 

Chances are, this one choice you make is not going to save or ruin the world. Let go of the drama and consider the facts. Trust yourself. If you can’t make a choice, go back to #4.

  • Consider option C. 

Often we put ourselves in a position of choosing A or B. Don’t be afraid to create C. Things are not always either/or.

  • Rinse and repeat. 

Remember how you made your last great decision and do that again.

  • Believe it. 

Once you make your choice, believe in it. Know that you made the right decision for that moment and move forward. Let go of the what ifs and make the best of your new opportunity.

When considering a big decision, take your time and apply a few of the steps above. If you can keep it simple, you will have more clarity on the best way to move forward. Good luck simplifying your next complicated decision.

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