Saturday, January 30, 2010

For the Tool Kit

Dearest Readers,

From September 1995 to November 1996 I lived in Ireland. I've got lots of stories about that time, enough to fill a book (or five). I was in my early twenties and it was a great time of learning for me. (Never mind the Guinness.)

In the last 3 or 4 months of my time there I was living and working in Dublin. I managed to get hired at a Spanish restaurant in Temple Bar, which is now a tourist Mecca but in the mid-nineties was just becoming the new local hot spot. The restaurant was owned by a man who was as Irish as they come and yet all the staff, except me and the Kitchen Porter, were Spanish.

I was amazed to learn that there is a huge Spanish-speaking population in Dublin. Many young Spaniards move there to learn English. Many stay. At the time, many of them worked at La Paloma.

One of my co-workers was a man named Pedro. He was the only man among a bevy of big-breasted, small-hipped, full-lipped, gorgeous Spanish women. Pedro had a good sense of humour and I was always glad when we had a shift together. He used to make me laugh.

Pedro's English was pretty good, comparably (a lot of the gals only spoke a few words), and whenever Pedro would hear me say a word he didn't understand he would ask me to explain it and I would. He would then say, "Everyday a new word," and smile with gratitude.

Over the years, I've taken to adapting Pedro's mantra for myself. Whenever I learn something new, something I did not know before, I say, in a bad Spanish accent, "Every day a new word." I really mean "lesson", of course, but it just doesn't sound as good.

Yesterday, I had lunch with a friend and she shared two amazing new tools with me. They come at a perfect time in my life, when I am having to be extremely vigilant about time management.

The first tool is this: Do the hardest thing first.

My friend and I were talking about to-do lists and I shared how I will often do everything that doesn't really need doing first and then not have time for the thing that actually needs doing.

I'm familiar with "first things first" but "do the hardest thing first" gives it a whole new spin. And although doing the hardest thing first makes me feel slightly nauseous I know it's the key to time management.

The second thing my friend shared with me is this: Only Handle It Once. OHIO.

For example, if you click on an email, answer it right away; if you take your laundry out of the dryer, fold it and put it away; if you open a piece of mail, answer it now.

OHIO, too, brings up the nausea. But it's because I know I need it and I know it will work.

Despite my fear of change, I'm actually feeling very excited about being given these new tools. Both of them are not entirely new strategies in my world but to have them presented in such a succinct, new way feels revolutionary. I've already begun to practice both.

Every day a new word! (Or two.)

Inspiring Message of the Day: There is always something to learn. I can overcome my fear of change by practicing a new behaviour knowing it will build my confidence and improve my self-esteem.

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