How Are Your Energy Levels?

EinsteinQuoteIt’s taken me awhile, but I’ve come to the same conclusion as Einstein!  Productivity is about managing energy, not just about managing time. Personal Development is about increasing energy in lots of areas.

Everything is energy, and energy is everything.

Most of us know what it takes to increase our physical energy. We know the importance of taking care of our bodies and gaining strength with exercise. But how awesome it would be if we could amp up energy levels in all dimensions! I’m certain we can increase the power of our potential by developing strengths in other areas as well. There are some very practical actions we can take to increase our wattage and the activities for a Year of Personal Development are a good starting point.

See where your energy levels are with this gauge. For each area, check a square for every statement you can answer with “yes” or “usually.” If you can mark all four levels in each area, your energy levels are probably pretty high! If there are a few “no” or “sometimes” answers, you know those are areas to develop strengths.

Energy Level Gauge



  • You know what your talents are and how you will use them to add value
  • You know your values and have created a manifesto or mission statement
  • You have a specific Unique Selling Proposition that describes the special benefit you provide
  • You have practiced an elevator speech or verbal business card to communicate what you do and why


  • You learn something daily
  • You plan and review regularly
  • You set goals
  • You use time productively


  • You drink 8 glasses of water a day
  • You eat healthy food
  • You exercise at least 3 times a week
  • You get enough sleep


  • You feel gratitude daily
  • You know your beliefs and practice them
  • You pray/meditate daily
  • You act with integrity and kindness to others


  • You identify emotions
  • You understand emotions
  • You manage emotions
  • You express emotions well


  • You are happy with your partner or singleness
  • You have a circle of good friends
  • You invest time with people you care about
  • You practice good listening skills


  • You communicate well
  • You meet new people & make connections
  • You volunteer for a cause you believe in
  • You entertain or interact with others regularly


  • You know what work you find fulfilling
  • You are fully engaged in the work you do
  • You contribute with your work & accomplish what you plan
  • You earn as much as you need/desire


  • You have a bill paying system
  • You spend wisely
  • You have savings &/or investments
  • You carry no credit card debt


  • Your spaces are not cluttered
  • You have systems for storage
  • You have a Household Notebook
  • You have a system for repeating tasks


  • You laugh & smile every day
  • You invest time in activities that are truly enjoyable
  • You monitor and manage the amount of screen time you spend each day
  • You expand your comfort zone by trying something new at least once a month


  • You act and speak authentically
  • You have strong self-esteem
  • You choose responsibly
  • You act creatively

The one thing that is most critical to increase energy is to identify our talents and know how we will add value with them.

Now, I’m no energy expert. In fact, I’ve always thought of myself as a low-energy person. But I think it would be great to have more energy. Can you think of more ways to increase energy ? Let me know on the Daily PlanIt Facebook page.

Flea Market Booth Ideas

On July 1st, we moved into a booth at the Fleamart in Independence, Missouri. We had been on the waiting list awhile until one became open, and I spent the time planning and getting as ready as possible before the big day. I looked for display ideas and added Flea Market Booth Ideas on a Pinterest board. We investigated prices of things, which were surprising sometimes. Who knew a Tater Twister would be worth so much?! (It makes great curly French Fries, but no longer fits our now low carb diet.) We found the hutch cabinet at a garage sale, and after cleaning it up and refreshing the stain it looks pretty good! We added a light and my husband put a lock on the door. We got extra keys made and were ready to go.

The booth we got has a column in it which turned out to be challenging to work around. Some of the ideas I had for setting up the display didn’t work out, but I’m still pleased with what we came up with.

Flea Market Booth

I really enjoy adding value to something, like the jars I made into solar lights or filled with peppermint bath salts.


…and the rose candle holders I made from glassware.


What kind of things do people actually want to have or give as gifts? What makes you say, “I want that!”? I think people are probably looking for something unique. Yesterday I took some time studying other booths to see what they are selling and how they’ve arranged things. It’ll be a continuous process to add to and improve the booth.

Our main goal has been to declutter and get rid of stuff we don’t need or use. Will this turn out to be a profitable venture? Will it be worth all the time and effort? It remains to be seen! Hopefully this will turn out to be a fun hobby that generates a stream of revenue.

Your Inner Adult

Ah, Independence. I remember the excitement of moving out on my own after high school. I lived at home the first year of college, and then a friend and I found an apartment to rent. Finally, I could do what I wanted to, when I wanted to. I was independent, in charge of my life! Yet with freedom comes responsibility. I had been working part time since my first job as a dishwasher at Camp Wood the summer I turned 16. While things cost a bit less then, pay was less too, and the reality of paying bills must be faced. We laugh at Cliff Huxtable’s illustration of how life works to his son on the Cosby Show, but there is much truth in it.

On one birthday I received a card that said “Age is mandatory, Maturity is optional!” While it made me smile, sometimes I think I need to connect more with my inner adult. We hear a lot about our inner child, and connecting with imagination, playfulness and other child-like characteristics can be a good thing at times. But I’ve been thinking about adult characteristics like responsibility and courage.

Your Inner Adult:

An adult is responsible and thoughtful. An adult stands up and speaks out for the things they believe in. An adult handles tough situations and acts with courage. An adult acts with integrity and is kind yet firm.

Here is Ann Lander’s definition of Maturity.

Your Inner Child:

Calvin and Hobbes Original.png

A child finds joy in simple things, plays spontaneously, and has fun. A child is in touch with imagination and innovative ideas.

The book “Compelling People,” talks about a balance of strength and warmth.  Next I read the book “Making Ideas Happen,” which shows the importance of being able to switch between dreaming and doing.

“Is the ability to switch a key skill in life?”

Being able to access and switch between inner adult and inner child could be a great skill to have. Maybe we need a little of both, depending on the situation.

Making Ideas Happen (Book Notes)

Why is it so hard to finish what we start? I don’t know about you, but I have an incomplete project or two around. The initial enthusiasm begins to fade as the work goes on and difficulties occur. Distractions crop up to take us off in different directions, and sometimes we never get back on course. I was so pleased to find a book that explores this topic. Here are my notes inspired by reading the book “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky.

Getting ideas is usually not the problem. Actually acting on an idea to create something is the hard part. It’s especially challenging when working with creative teams. How this can be accomplished is the subject of the book “Making Ideas Happen,” by Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of the Behance Network, a leading platform for creative professionals.


Capture the idea. Choose ideas wisely. Evaluate the idea.


Set up a system to manage your projects. Learn more about the Action Method at 99u. Organize visually. Create a work space that allows shifting between creativity and productivity.


Act with persistence. Focus. Have a follow-up system. Set a target date.


Follow through to completion. Commit to shipping. Overcome resistance. Know when it is time to release.


Creative ideas are best served when people communicate and interact. Fresh perspectives add to the outcome. Request input on ideas and get feedback. Pitch your idea to others and market yourself.


Inspire others with your vision. Motivate yourself and others. Think like an entrepreneur. Encourage engagement with playfulness and recognition as rewards.

Watch Scott Belsky talk about making ideas happen in his TED Talk:

See Also

A Look at My System and Workspace

As part of my system reboot, I’ve been adding pictures to show how it all fits together. To choose a system that works well, we have to learn if we prefer computer based systems or paper, or a combination. As I try new things and make changes, my system has been continuously evolving. It’s still not perfect, but works pretty well for me.

My system relies heavily on Google. I use Google Calendar, Google Tasks (plus some apps) and Google Drive.

Google Calendar

Google Calendar

For my To Do List, I use a combination of Google Tasks (for repeating tasks) plus GTasks and Google Tasks Taskary. I can add tasks in Google Calendar when I’m at my computer, or in Taskary with my tablet. Taskary is an Android app I’ve been using for awhile now, and I like it a lot. You can create subtasks for projects, set reminders, and it syncs with Google.


Google Tasks, To-do - Taskary - screenshot


Combination: I send myself an email of my to do list from Taskary to print out as part of the weekly review process. This could be done more frequently if needed. I keep it in a leather index card holder inside a cut-down plastic project file. Blank index cards to capture notes are in the back pocket of the holder.

To Do List

To Do List

Check out the Free Tools page for paper forms and read more about possibilities for a To Do list here. There’s a free printable set of a weekly planning form plus five daily planning forms (pdf). I previously used these with the portable gtd mini system, and a Mead pocket calendar.

Desktop Action Files

The three front files are essential to my bill paying system: Checkbook, Bills, and To File. The files after that either are for idea capture or ones I refer to frequently. I keep two yellow legal pads in front of this file: 1) ideas and notes, 2) project planning.

Action File Headings

Project Files

My Project Files are in a wire step folder holder, and in front of that is a plastic folder that holds my value statement and an outline of what I do, why I do it, and the features and benefits of each project. See Also: Files.

Project File

Project File

Project Planning

I use a yellow legal pad for planning projects, with a list of projects down the left side, and the next step on the right side. I also keep a Project Master List in Google Drive and print out a copy for the paper planner tool for the weekly review. There’s a free printable Project Master List (pdf) too.

Project Planning

Project Planning

Project Evaluation

More in-depth about evaluating projects, with a free printable Project Evaluation form (pdf)

Project Evaluation

Project Evaluation

Weekly Review

The Paper Planner Tool for the Weekly Review contains printed information for the process, and Day Runner slash pockets for frequently changing lists printed out from Google Drive.

Paper Planner Tool for the Weekly Review

Paper Planner Tool for the Weekly Review


My desk consists of a table with a printer on one end, and a rolling computer cart for my laptop. For many years I worked in a much smaller space, and I love being able to spread out now! Here’s what it looks like when I’m deeply into a project.

Desk and computer cart

Desk and computer cart


My desktop Action and Project Files are on top of a microwave cart within reach but off to the side of my desk. I discuss these and other files here. A four drawer file cabinet and binders, including my Household Notebook, are also important elements of my workspace.

Desktop Files

Desktop Action and Project Files


The ideal workspace helps us engage with both creativity and productivity. It can be challenging to find tools that help us accomplish our work effectively. That wraps up what it looks like here at the Daily PlanIt. Maybe there are some helpful ideas, but choices about systems and workspaces are very personal. May you find the tools that work for you!


System Reboot

Earlier this week, my laptop started to act like it was possessed. The cursor began crazily jerking across the screen on a path of it’s own choosing, definitely not in the direction I wished to go. I tried some troubleshooting tactics. I updated my virus checker and did a scan. I did a defrag. I attempted a system restore. And then it seemed okay. I thought I had fixed it, until I plugged it into the outlet in the kitchen, the same outlet I was plugged into when the problem began. Then the difficulty returned, apparently only occurring in those conditions. One of my friends advised me, “Don’t plug it into the kitchen outlet!” That’s pretty good advice, I’d say.

While my computer was unavailable (it took hours to defrag) I spent some time reviewing the process and systems I use to manage tasks and projects. Some updating was definitely in order. It reminded me of the importance of reviewing, and made me think about how it should be done regularly. If the thought of doing an in-depth review is daunting, I have found that even a quick review can be beneficial. If only a small amount of time is dedicated to glancing back and then forward, it still provides a good return for the investment.  I also ran across a fantastic free tool for an annual review from The Art of Non-Conformity.

Things I learned from a system reboot

When facing a problem:

1. If certain conditions cause problems, and those conditions are not essential, avoid them! This is kind of a derivative of “If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.”

2. Experiment to eliminate possible causes.

3. Don’t forget to perform routine maintenance.

4. If you’re stuck, review your system, your projects and goals.

More problems I ran into this week:

spamI reached the limit of my endurance for Spam. Frankly, I never have had much appreciation for any kind of spam. Lately spammers have gotten quite tricky in their methods for getting through spam filters. A genuine comment on a post has become increasingly rare. I resolved to turn off comments, although I invite genuine interaction on the Daily PlanIt Facebook page. They came to this conclusion at Copyblogger back in March. (I’ve seen spam in commments on other Facebook pages, so we’ll see how that goes.)  Once the decision was made, I discovered there isn’t just one simple switch to throw. To truly turn them all off would require going to every single post, and there are lots of them here. My hope is that turning off comments on this and future posts and the pages will deter most of the spammers. Talk about time wasters, spam is on my hit list. dislike

Awhile back, an employee at Office Depot persuaded me to purchase several printer cartridges of their brand rather than genuine HP printer cartridges. I knew better than to do that, but allowed myself to be swayed. The first one perked along well, but eventually my printer revolted. When I replaced the cartridge with the real deal, my printer was once again happy. So I attempted to return the other Office Depot cartridges, but was refused a refund. I’m not mad, but I AM going to spread the word, and I’ll never buy another cartridge there. I’m just saying.

Do you do regular maintenance and a weekly review? An annual review? Let me know on the Daily PlanIt Facebook page!


A Daily Routine

BeachIt was part of my routine for awhile to take time each day for deep breathing and stretches while listening to a CD of the sounds of ocean waves. I imagined all the sensations of standing on an ocean beach, surrounded by blue sky, green palm trees, and the sweet scent of colorful flowers. I imagined feeling the warmth of the sun, a gentle breeze and the sand beneath my feet. As I touched on all the senses I felt connection with the world. While I inhaled and stretched up, I thought of filling up with hope, peace, serenity and calm. With each exhalation, I released tensions and worries, letting them go as I reached down toward my toes. I no longer do this exercise daily, but it certainly helped during some stressful times.

There is benefit in having a daily routine. These often simple yet essential tasks keep us on the right track. It is interesting to see how others arrange their days. (See the articles listed at the end of this post.) But just as we must each find a productivity system that works best for us, everyone needs their own daily routine for their unique life. Getting started on a task or a day is often the hardest part. Once a routine is in place, it becomes an automatic way to begin. The idea is to free up brain cells that can be used for more creative pursuits. Of course, the occasional shake-up adds variety and invites inspiration. I am fortunate to have more freedom and flexibility now, but generally follow these routines.


“If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I’m going to do?” -Steve Jobs

“What will I do today that’s worth talking about tomorrow?” – Montel Williams

  • Coffee
  • 7am Feed pets
  • Exercise
  • Take vitamins
  • Make breakfast/read newspaper
  • Work @computer
  • Check weather and email
  • Review calendar and to-do list
  • 10:30am workout

Noon lunch/rest


  • Errands
  • Review today and plan tomorrow


  • 6pm Fix dinner/cleanup
  • Lock up for the night
  • Wash up/brush teeth

What does your daily routine look like?

See also


seat-belt-2The facts do not lie…wearing a seatbelt greatly improves the chance of living through a car accident. Still, some  people resist wearing a seatbelt when driving.

I know seeing my nephew in the hospital after his car accident had an immediate effect on my seatbelt behavior, and I have made it a habit to always buckle up since then. He sustained a major head injury, and I didn’t know if he was going to make it. I’ll never forget how he looked lying there, his face so injured and swollen, tubes everywhere. I was so scared that we might lose him. It took some time, but thankfully he did recover.


My nephew’s car after the accident




The following scenes from three movies I love are of car crashes that also had an emotional impact on me. I love movies that connect with our emotions in a powerful way, and these definitely do that.

The car crash scene from the movie “Adaptation” shows how quickly an accident can happen.

After the car crash in the opening scene of the movie “The Lookout” the character played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt will never be the same again.

Finally, a dramatic scene from the movie “Crash.”

I urge you to watch the clips, and to always buckle up and drive with caution.

It’s Not Just Who You Know (Book Review)

'It's Not Just Who You Know'“It’s Not Just Who You Know” by Tommy Spaulding is the May choice of the 12 Books group at Goodreads.

The author starts out strong with engaging stories that describe how the relationships he developed helped him to overcome a learning disability and become a leader. However, by the time I reached the middle of the book I was worn out by the level of connection and amount of networking involved. The author is connected to many well-known people, and my thoughts turned to discouragement that this was way more than the average person could ever expect to manage. One review on Amazon describes Tommy Spaulding’s approach as “extroversion on steroids,” and after awhile introverts like me will likely begin to find the ideas daunting. Yet, there is useful information that can be employed on a smaller scale and I’m glad I read the book.

The Five Floors of Relationships

The author’s model of understanding relationships is retrofitted from the five levels of communication commonly studied in communication theory. Relationships range from the basic transactions of the First Floor to the high level of Fifth Floor relationships.

The Back of the Business Card

The book shows how to build relationships beyond the basic information that is on the front of a business card. Think about turning the business card over to the back and filling in the blanks by discovering more about a person’s interests with observation, questions, and listening. He coins the term netgiving rather than networking for a focus on what we can give rather than what we can get in our interactions with others. Many of the articles I’ve read about networking also recommend this approach.

Nine Key Traits are helpful in achieving real relationships: authenticity, humility, empathy, confidentiality, vulnerability, curiosity, generosity, humor, and gratitude. With short chapters on each of these traits, the author shows how many of the traits can be developed.

There is a need for information about how to develop relationships, and this book provides insights beyond Dale Carnegie’s classic book “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”


A First Look at Communication Theory

Altman & Taylor’s Social Penetration Theory at Wikipedia


The Surprising Truth About the Workforce Gap

…and the secret reason for it. Why Soft Skills are Lacking and What You Can Do About It.

Soft Skills are LackingThe Surprising Truth About the Workforce Gap

In a recent State of the Economy and Employment Survey conducted by Adecco Staffing US, 44% of respondents cited soft skills as the area with the biggest gap. Some studies show 60% of employers think applicants are lacking communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and other soft skills. More articles about the soft skills gap:

The Secret Reason: Why is there a lack of soft skills in the workforce? We aren’t teaching them!

Take a look thtop10skillse top 10 skills employers want.  As I worked on this series of posts with links to resources to learn the skills, it became painfully obvious to me that:

1) there aren’t enough of these resources.

2) there is a large gap between what employers want and what is taught.

The Bad News

Many of the top 10 skills employers want are not often taught in traditional education.

Were you taught goal setting and time management in school? Did you have a class in communication, understanding emotions and problem solving? You may have learned a little about these things along the way, but these skills are rarely purposely taught.

And not only are these skills important to employers, many are critical to success in other areas of our life…and they usually aren’t being taught.

That really doesn’t make sense to me.

We say we need workers with these skills, that we need to increase employment, but we don’t take the steps needed to make it happen.

Why Aren’t Soft Skills Taught? Teaching soft skills may not be easy…but it can and should be done.

The Good News

Can you imagine a world full of people living at maximum potential? Life is so much better when people know what their talents are and how they want to use them, do work they love, earn the money they need, communicate well, understand and manage emotions, have strong relationships and friendships, develop physical strength and energy, connect with spiritual beliefs, develop character, and set goals and manage time effectively.

I believe these skills can be learned and developed for an optimal life and a better world.

Coming Soon – What You Can Do About It

If you believe this too and want to get involved, stay tuned. I have an idea for a simple way to learn these important skills and connect with others interested in personal development. I’ll be sharing it soon, and would love your input. My motive is to make a difference in a way that matters, and I hope you’ll join in to share your energy and ideas.