Three salient features of Poor man’s mentality


I wrote this wonderful piece a few days ago. Please go to LinkedIn to leave your comments. Thank you.

People are likely to associate mentality of the poor with the real poor who have no plan of getting out of government assistance. But in reality this mentality is found not just among the real poor. It exists within many who are in the range of middle class. It is the mentality that traps people where they are for decade after decade, leading them to be surrounded by a pile of poor man’s junks.

Number one salient feature of this mentality is they don’t know the value of time, in that they value money more than time. They are willing to save money at the cost of spending extra time. They let time pass without gaining any tangible and intangible value. In a way, we all trade our time for money when we go to work every day. Very often, how much value we can extract from our time at office is not entirely up to us to decide. Some people have to take a day job for basic sustainability so that they can work on their day dreams as soon as the day job is over. There are always something that we can control in regard to our time. Here are some examples.

An IT guy who works in the neighborhood of Overland Park Convention Center lives north of the Missouri River. He spends an hour and half daily on the road. He told me that he would not be able to buy a large house like his in Overland Park. Never mind about the cost of daily gas and the stress on the road. I would say he exhibits the mentality of the poor when he tries to save money by squandering extra driving time every day. The thought process must be like this– while time is free, large house costs more. He would trade his free time for the costly house.

Influenced by this mentality, he finds it hard to part with his money and would grab anything that is free. Here’s what he doesn’t realize: the free time is not unlimited. With money, he earns, spends and can earn it back; but not with time. Always keep this in mind — time is the only thing in life that we have less and less.

It is because they don’t value the free yet limited resource that they don’t invest wisely their time to generate more values or assets. People waste something that is the most valuable one in life.

There is another case where a friend of mine drove us around the town in Los Angeles to find sale beef. For a ridiculously insignificant amount of saving, we spent like an hour checking in and out grocery stores. It even seems comical.

Number two of poor man’s mentality is to trade health for money. Like when people work strenuously or sit there for so long that they won’t stop until they are struck down by illness. They don’t know how to extend their life span by investing in some fitness activity or by stopping working when they should. Whatever they earned is not enough to pay their medical bills or to bring back their health and enable them to enjoy life. What a short-sighted idiocy!

Number three is to bring home sale items or free stuffs even if he doesn’t need them. Nothing is free. Everything he brings home takes up his time and space. Once again this mentality leads people to trade their time with some cheap or free stuff that they don’t really need, and later on they will have to spend some time to decide how to dispose it, like selling them at garage sale. Gradually they end up being collectors of poor man’s junks and their lifetime will be an endless cycle of junk collection and junk disposal. How pathetic!

My 85-year-old mother knows best. She keeps telling me, “Don’t bring back anything from America. They are all made in China. If I need, I can get it cheaper here. More important, I don’t need anything.” I know what she needs most. My time. Good luck on this.



Five categories of to-do list


When I was in school, weekend relaxation started Friday noon. When I work, weekend planning starts Friday afternoon when I am physically in the office but have mentally checked out. Sometimes I made such a long ambitious list for the weekend that it is even discouraging to look at it. Recently I found that I will be able to get more things done if I divide the tasks into different categories. I think for me there are at least 5 categories of to-do list for now.

(1) Office (I make this one during weekday, not on weekend)
(2) Sideline –books I’m reading, articles that I have saved and will read, pictures that I will take, writing topics;
(3) Friends and relative — my children, my relatives in China, crafts I promise my colleagues, friends I will contact, volunteer activities if there is an opportunity
(4) Family — grocery shopping, cleaning (endless), kitchen work, yard work;
(5) Personal care — walk and other exercise, daily mental exercise, memory training.



One big SECRET about Young People


I wrote about this before. I am sharing this again as I think it rather important as a reminder to young folks.

Let me share with you one big secret about the wealth of young people. Most people do not associate resources and wealth with young people, especially young and unemployed. Instead they think of many senior folks with millions of savings under their mattress.

The fact is both young and the old have their own wealth. With the old, their resource is money; with the young, their resource is TIME.

Right. Time is the resources of the young, which the old don’t have. With time, the young are not afraid of venturing out on a thousand-mile journey. They are not afraid of making mistakes. If one idea doesn’t work out, they have time to start all over again. The old does not have this luxury.

The sad reality is many young people are not aware of their resource. They squander away their resources while they are young. For some, they don’t even realize they were once rich in their lives. Rather pathetic!

Yes, young folks are rich in TIME and time is something money cannot buy.



There went the first month of the year before I got serious on my New Year Resolution


Today is 2/2/2014. It looks like a lucky number. I can’t believe it’s already February. When I look back just a month ago, it seems like yesterday when my children were still home, filling the house with joys and laughing.

Yes, it’s true. Before I had time following my New Year Resolution, the first month of the year 2014, 1/12 part of the year, has rushed by unbelievably fast. It seems so crazy.

The last weekend when my daughter was home was 1/18-19. I used the following one, 1/25-26 on getting ready for two job interviews, and then this weekend on online tests, three of them, which I am going to take in the afternoon. This way I will still have time for android course work, which is due today.

It seems I always have something to keep me occupied. Still, I must find time to work on my resolution, before the year end is dawning on me.



Joseph R. Ferrari on procrastination


Joseph R. Ferrari’s Still Procrastinating? The No-Regrets Guide to Getting It Done caught my attention as I was postponing working on my second paper. Of course, I was thinking of many other people in the similar situation.

I am sure I have written a lot on this topic. But the problem persists and the topic is permanently relevant. Most people procrastinate now and then, but about 20 percent of the population are procrastinators. Ferrari says “A procrastinator is someone who habitually and consistently delays tasks.”

Here are some of his suggestions:
(1) Try to find out why you postpone tasks.
(2) Keep a to-do list or planner, and update it often.
(3) Set your priorities, and tackle the most urgent matters first. After the most pressing tasks, do the worst jobs next. Putting them off will just make your whole workload seem more impossible.
(4) Set realistic goals and deadlines. Don’t bite more than you can chew.
(5) Set some strict rules on using cellphone and email checking
(6) Team up with the most productive friends or colleagues.
(7) Be punctual.
More on this later.



Technologies, Distraction, New Challenge to Time Management


Technologies can be a double-edged sword. They make life easy on the one hand, take away our lives on the other hand.

Just look at the technologies around us now, from TV to computer to cell phone. TV certainly has informed, entertained and educated us for many decades. The use of computer and cell phone have benefited our lives in more ways than we can count.

In turn, each new technology is also a new distracter, grabbing our attention and providing more excuse for us to delay doing what we should do.

They also hurt us by taking away our precious time when we sit for hours in front of a TV set or on the Internet or cell phone chatting.

They pose a new challenge to anyone who wants to get more things done in the shortest possible time.



Distraction, Information Overloading…


When I shared with a friend of mine my last posting on cellphone, she mentioned an important issue that we all face today, that is information overloading.

With the advent of Internet, information of all kinds come down on us like the flood. Without the ability to prioritize and to filter out useless information, we will always be plagued by time management issue and find it hard to get as many things done as we have planned.

My daughter read both of the postings. She agreed this is absolutely a challenge.



Cell phone, Distraction and Addiction


I gave my cell phone to my daughter around last week of April before she headed for Albuquerque, NM. My son got his first cellphone also in April of his junior year in high school.

Before I gave it to her, I often checked and returned email using my cell phone during daytime as I cannot access personal email from office pc. After I gave it to her, I could not do it any more, which, at first, seemed a bit odd. But after a few days, I feel like “no big deal.” I haven’t missed anything when I postponed email checking.

In the past, there is absolutely no need for me to check email. I did it just because I could. In fact, without this possibility, I found that I have one less distraction now, which is wonderful for time saving.

On the other hand, I have found my daughter constantly interrupts her homework by texting or checking her cell phone as if she expects something. On 5/2, less than two weeks after she owns a phone, when I told her jokingly that I needed to borrow her phone for a day or two, she said resoundingly “No way.” I have noticed the changes that this gadget brought to her in such a short period of time.

My son used to shut down instant message and cell phone when he needed total concentration. We need a statement to ourselves so that we don’t give up control over our lives to any outside forces. Some type of mechanism needs to be installed so that we can guarantee that our time is not subjected to the whims of outside interruptions.



Money always means time


On 2/22/2012, my son told me about a credit card offer and asked if it was worthwhile having an extra issue like this. I agree it is a good offer, but I thought it a bit waste of time trying to manage many credit cards. As it is with me now, I try to simplify my life so that I will have less things to worry and more time and energy on what I want to do.

I told him not to go for it, that is, if he has more important issues than this. Also, I thought by giving it up, it will help him get in the habit of focusing on bigger prize. One can always squeeze some savings elsewhere for that amount. Money always means time. You want to get more out of your limited time.

I keep telling myself to focus on the major things in life, but given my current situation, I have to worry many minor things. At the same time, I constantly try to rise above and focus on something bigger than this. I wish my children’s life will be a whole lot simpler than mine so that they can be more focused.

I wish someone told me this when I was young so that I could have avoided wasting my time and energy on some very trivial issues and could have used them on what was really important.



Eight Time Saving Tips


I read an article by Tracy Erb Middleton, “Sneaky Time-Saving Tips to Use All Day Long” on 6/5/2011. I found them helpful for both of my children, especially my son when he just started working and found time pressing.

1. Defrost and Dash–
Before you go to bed, get ready tomorrow’s breakfast-to-go.

2. Reroute Your Commute–
To shorten your commute time by 10 percent, avoid time-consuming left-hand turns on busy two-way streets by taking right turns instead.

3. Take Five–
Focus on something for 25 minutes without interruption, then take a five-minute breather before diving back in. A pause can actually help you move faster.

4. Shop Smarter– don’t waste too much time shopping around

5. Use the OHIO Method–
OHIO stands for “Only Handle It Once”– and it’s the best way to tackle e-mails and voicemails.

6. Manage Drive-bys
Keeping a spare chair and candy dish at your office desk invites visitors to linger.

7. Burn More Fat in Less Time
Eight to 12 minutes of intense intervals can burn as many calories as 25 to 30 minutes of constant moderate-exertion exercise.

8. Move the Clock
Waking up a mere 15 minutes earlier pads your morning with precious time to leisurely drink your coffee as you open mail or pick out what to wear. To keep from hitting the snooze button, put your clock away from your bed.



Last Day of the First Decade of the New Millennium


Today is the third end-of-year celebration since the launching of this site, following 2008, 2009, 2010. Today also marks the end of the first decade of the new millennium. As we were busy with our lives and our work, a decade flashed by faster than we thought.

I remember I was with DMR working on Y2K project at Sprint PCS, working overtime testing their software readiness. I remember Christmas celebration and team-building outings with that company. I remember getting my daughter back from YMCA daycare. I remember a Chinese colleague of mine went to our apartment with his wife and two daughters. Now DMR, YMCA daycare, and that colleague are no longer here, the first two entities having gone under and that colleague being consumed by brain cancer. Yet, the memories of these events and people are as vivid as yesterday.

The first decade started with an economic boom at least in the US and ended with its opposite, loudly pronouncing a future very much different from the one when the millennium just started. The events and changes in this decade are of huge momentum, setting path toward the new arrangement of power and direction for most of the powerful countries. It is interesting to see where these powers will end up at the end of next decade, that is, year 2020.

This passing decade also saw big changes in my children with one moving from elementary school to college, the other from daycare to high school. I am sure by now both of them know what they want to do with their lives and there is no shortcut to their goals. I wish them success in their endeavors.

To my dear friends and readers, I wish all of you happiness and healthiness. Remember you are happy only when you are healthy and you have got what you want in life or at least you know what you want and are in the process of reaching your goal.

Happy New Year!



Time Management Tools at Leadership Workshop Part 2


Explanation on the tasks in Action-Priority Matrix. See post on 7/18.
(1) “Major projects” are tasks that are high impact and in need of serious effort.
(2) “Quick wins” are jobs that are also high impact but less effort. A easy piece of cake.
(3) “Hard slogs” are jobs that need lots of time and energy without much significance.
(4) “Fill Ins” are things that we do when we have nothing urgent on hand.

The problem with many people is they tend to postpone job number 1 and 3 as much as they can or they will tackle it till last second, the moment before deadline. That is how procrastination comes in. It seems I am not the only one who tend to dodge hard work.

Those who are experts in wasting time tend to spend their prime time on Fill Ins. For some people, it is very tempting to focus their energy on Fills Ins and Quick Wins. If you think it so dumb to spend time on minors, take a hard look at the pattern of your own time-spending.

Now you know why we always get behind, feel pushed by deadline and where our prime time has gone, and why we need to manage time in order to get as much tough task done as possible.



Time Management Tools at Leadership Workshop Part 1


Last Thursday, 7/9/09, during our leadership workshop, we talked about job planning and organizing. The time management tools consist of two matrix:

Action-Priority Matrix

Y = low —-> high impact
X= low —-> high effort
Note: (1) being high impact and high effort and (4) being the opposite

(2)
“Quick wins
(1)
“Major Projects”
(4)
“Fill-ins”
(3)
“Hard Slogs”

Urgent-Important Matrix

Y = Not important —-> important
X= not urgent —–> urgent
Note (4) being least important and least urgent and No 1 being the opposite

(2)
“Important
Goals
(1)
“Critical
Activities”
(4)
“Distractions”
(3)
“Interruptions”

Time management is my favorite topic. I will come back to it later..


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