When a Crock’s Not a Crock

Over the years I’ve had a few consulting firms as clients. Thus I’ve been exposed to a lot of theory about lost time and whatnot, which is why I can be so “efficiency” minded — even if I’m sometimes poor at practicing what I preach to myself.

But since Maggie came into our lives 11 months ago, efficiency has become a means of survival. She is a great kid for a work-from-home parent, nearly always happy and proficiently self-entertaining. Even so, sharing space with a baby consumes a few hours of each of my workdays.

Diaper changes, wardrobe changes, toy clean-ups, toy re-clean-ups, and rescuing her from every dangerous situation she can find — all of that pinches the minutes available for work. Nowadays the last thing I want to do at 5 p.m. is get off the computer so I can get on the stove. I don’t want to lose that hour.

That’s why the crock pot has become such a standard in our domestic repertoire. My mom gave my wife one for Christmas, and it’s made our culinary life easier to live. I love cooking (I’m the one who does most of the non-microwave food prep in the house), but on most days now I just want to not worry about it.

The crock pot gives me two huge conveniences:

  1. Cooking is actually faster. The food isn’t ready to eat until forever, but my role in compiling it is brief. Most slow-cooker recipes involve just cutting and measuring (and the latter is barely necessary), followed by dumping everything in the pot and pressing the power button.
  2. One crock-pot session gives us three or four meals’ worth of food. We can eat until at least Wednesday on Monday’s bounty. Two days of cooking can feed us for a week. We sometimes don’t have enough Pyrex containers to contain it all.

On cooking day I spend all afternoon hungry, because I can smell the food simmering for hours upon hours. I keep peeking at it to see if it looks as good as it smells. Then my wife loves walking in the house and smelling the brew.

We haven’t ventured far down this culinary road yet, and the short distance we have traveled has included just the usual stops, such as beef stew, pulled chicken and chicken soup that was supposed to be chicken stew.

I recently posted a request for crock-pot ideas on Facebook and received a generous portion of recipes from friends and family, ranging from pulled-porks to puddings to soufflés to casseroles to enough oatmeal to feed the cast of Oliver!

We will likely try it all, which should give me more time to write. Bring on the paper. Bring on the Pyrex.

What were they thinking?!

What a simple joy it is to listen to Lydia independently play. She has reached a stage where her imagination and speech have blended and I get a front-row seat to reenactments of all of her experiences.

Lydia loves to play “House.” She carries her babies around with her, pretending to feed them. At times if I am not paying attention she may even try to give them a bath. I have to keep a keen eye, though. To a little girl, a toilet bowl looks way too similar to a bath tub.

The interesting thing is that without any prompting from me, air max 90 femmes the toys, games and imaginative play she uses are a display of instinctive nurturing and child-rearing skills. It’s as though she is pre-programed to care for little ones.

As a boy I didn’t play any of the same types of games. Pushing cars around in a sand box and building Lincoln Log houses was my routine.

When we first decided to have a child, we didn’t plan on having me home to raise her. I thought I would be the main breadwinner, but the economy and my wife’s work success changed that.

So I found myself — with almost no life experience — being handed a baby to care for. I would have been less nervous if they had handed me an un-pinned grenade.

To make matters harder, there seemed to be no single way to parent. Rather, there were lots of theories. And nobody told me about the weeks when she would be teething. (I like to refer to those as “hell weeks.”) I had to learn to be a caregiver after a lifetime of playing Legos, sports and working in the professional world. It was a big change and it took a lot of work to get myself caught up.

Then one day my biggest fear became real. I was alone with Lydia and she started to choke.

Without a thought I grabbed her and I perfectly followed, step-by-step, the recommended procedure to clear her throat. Within seconds she was back to normal. When I had a moment to think, roshe run nm br I realized that when I saw my baby in trouble, something inside of me took over. That natural child-rearing was in me after all.

In the end, everything really can work out fine, even though we men like to see things in black and white before taking action. Sometimes, in business as well as parenting, you simply have to have faith that things will work even when you don’t have all the information to prove it.

I Done It

Perhaps the biggest challenge of working from home is discipline. Without being visible to other human beings, you can avoid work and get away with it. You can take a three-hour lunch or a two-hour coffee break and use the cumulative hours to catch up on watching the Lost series for the fourth time. Lost hours can become lost days, which can become lost weeks — in more ways than one.

Unless you come from a military background or are just a freak of nature, maintaining a disciplined work schedule without second-party oversight is usually more challenging than finding new business.

The trick, then, is to be accountable to yourself. air yeezy 2 femmes And a good trick to that is to be accountable to an extended version of yourself.

Many people do this already, in the form of making task lists. The list essentially becomes your virtual manager. If you write ten things you need to accomplish but you complete only five, then just looking at the unchecked tasks forces you to be accountable to the earlier version of you who assigned them. It’s like having a virtual manager, except the manager is really you.

But for some reason that could probably be explained by only a psychologist, lists don’t work well with me. And I’ve tried just about every list trick available. But there’s a reverse strategy that does work. Instead of recording a queue of what I should get around to doing, at the end of the day I create a record of what I actually did.

A handy tool helps me with this: an online app called iDoneThis. It’s very simple, yet brilliant in its simplicity.

Every day (or week, or whatever interval you set), iDoneThis sends you an email asking what you’ve accomplished. You reply with your answer, and the website maintains a calendar of your productivity. You can edit or delete anything, anytime, and you can add items by just replying again.

Perhaps to-do lists work for you. Everyone is different, and even for me a list can be functional, such as for keeping a large number of tasks organized. But for everyday work stuff, I find that I’m much more motivated by marking accomplishments than by making demands. The presence of a to-do list feels self-nagging. roshe run hyp femmes However, I never want to end a day without a hefty report to return to iDoneThis.

The solo version of the service is free, but companies, organizations or teams can use a group version for only $5 per person. It’s a great way to track progress and to follow up on projects.

Strategic Partnerships 1

There is more than one way to skin a cat when it comes to building your business. I block off a section of time each quarter to think about and work on strategic partnerships.

Strategic partnerships come in all shapes and sizes. In essence it’s an agreement between two or more companies to work together in some way that results in increased revenue for all with limited monetary expenditure.

When I was starting my current business free run 3.0 v3 femmes and didn’t have a lot of capital, I approached companies that specialized in the services I needed and offered a service trade: They provided their expertise for free in exchange for my company providing our expertise for free.

When I say free I mean that neither company had to outlay the usually expected fee. Neither of us received cash for our transaction, and each company covered their own cost of getting the work done.

One of the partnerships we established was with a web development and marketing company. We matched apples to apples between our service and theirs. They wanted to become a vendor to the Federal Government and we had the expertise to get them set up. We wanted a fully optimized website and one year of technical support. Each side had to bear only the cost of in-house labor. For my company it amounted to about 15 percent of what we would have had to pay if we had purchased the website service on the commercial market. Both sides made additional sales that would never have been realized, all without a big layout of money.

I read an interesting article some time ago about two fathers who worked and cared for their children from home. They created a type of strategic partnership by trading off days: One of the fathers would watch both kids while the other focused on working. The children’s days were enhanced (they developed a stronger friendship and had nike lebron 11 undivided guardianship) and the fathers had more unfractured time to focus on work.

Strategic partnerships are not easy to put together. They require a very well-thought out and scripted agreement. But if approached properly, they can yield big results with limited investment.