Triage isn’t scary

When we encounter the word “triage” in fiction, we often see it as a dramatic thing, the medical person agonizing over who to treat and when – usually with someone’s life on a fragile thread.

Believe it or not, even in an emergency room, that isn’t how triage works.

Triage is just a set of priorities you have thought about in advance in a non-emergency situation, so you can decide easily and quickly how to address situations thrown at you.

Do you have any sort of triage for your own life? What are your priorities?

So, in my last blog post, I talked about defining what’s “good enough” when addressing things in your life.

Until you know those priorities, you can’t possibly know what good enough should look like.

As part of getting control of your life, we’re going to explore how to triage your own life by sitting down in a non-emergency situation and making a plan of action. You’ll learn how to address what’s most important calmly. You’ll learn how to set standards, so you’re not wasting time on things that aren’t very important to you. You’ll learn how to evaluate what’s an actual problem that needs addressing and what’s a proxy (you’ll even learn the term) for the real problem.

Want to Get Control of Your Life?

The Beauty of Defining Good Enough

“If the Venn diagram of your “Good Enough” day and your “Perfect” day is a circle, you have never defined what Good Enough looks like.” – Noël Lynne Figart.

I am in the best physical shape of my adult life from defining “good enough.” Two and a half years ago, I declared that if I got in 10,000 steps a day as measured over a month, that was “good enough” in terms of physical activity.

Do I ever exercise in other ways? Sure. However, the clear priority is to make sure I have in those steps. I don’t quit. I don’t crash and burn. I exercise moderately and consistently in a way that is desirable to me.

The problem of getting in enough exercise? That’s solved. I can chew on it for fun, but there are better places to focus my attention. I don’t need to worry about running out of problems to solve

Achievement is often marketed as only counting when you are putting in Extraordinary Effort. I have many examples in my own life where Tedious Consistency beats Extraordinary Effort every time.

Today, as I write this, I’m leaning hard on “good enough.” I don’t feel energetic. I’m not excited about the day. I’m not even excited to be writing. (I know, take my temperature, ’cause I gotta be sick).

But I do have a view of “good enough.” I have a general schedule when things need to be done, and it’s not some Platonic* version of perfection. I don’t have to think too hard to decide whether or not to do something. I know what oughta get done, but bluntly? The world will not end if I skip cleaning out the vacuum canister this month. Besides, this article is more important.


You can’t define “good enough” until you’re very clear on the triage of your priorities.

Which, you guessed it, I’ll be teaching in my Get Control of Your Life! class.

* The Platonic Ideal of something isn’t about whether or not sex is involved, by the way. It is about an ideal – the quintessence of an object or concept that is the spiritual ideal and impossible to reflect in the physical world.

Can Artificial Constraints Interfere With Your Goals?

You have a task to do. You get yourself a cup of coffee and sit down to it, but you’re not excited about it. It’s ten minutes to eight, and you really ought to get going.

“I’ll get started right at eight,” you promise yourself, then check out social media or do a little shopping online.

You look at the clock and it’s 8:01.

So, you tell yourself, “Okay, I’ll get started at 8:15…”

Does this sound familiar to you?

  1. What kind of weirdo does that?
  2. Eh, maybe a little…
  3. I’m in this picture and I don’t like it.

If you answered 1, I’m jealous of your natural productivity.

If you answered 2 or 3, you’ve probably fussed at yourself more than once for procrastinating. Also, you might be doing something that can mess you up in ways other than procrastinating.

That “Imma start at 8:00” is an example not only of procrastination but an artificial constraint.

If you, to pick something completely at random, need to write an article, does it really matter if you started it at 8:01 rather than 8:00? Of course not. Next week, it’s whether or not you finished the article that’s going to count! The article isn’t somehow “less written” because you started it a minute before or after you said you would.

In my last article, I talked about rituals to get yourself going. They can be important. But sometimes, instead of helping you, they get in your way and make it harder to accomplish something.

Say you want to exercise every day, so you put your exercise clothes and your gym shoes on the chair by your bed and set your alarm for 5:30 in the morning.

But you roll over, you don’t get up until 6:30, and you have other things you have to do before you get to work. But after work, you throw on exercise clothes, have your workout, and then go ahead, prop your feet up and play a video game until bedtime.

Are you any less worked out than you would have been for the 5:30 workout?

There is a place for being strict with yourself, but the question becomes, “Is that strictness serving the goal or setting you up for failure?”

Am I about to tell you that my Get Control of Your Life! class has a method for evaluating that?

Yeah, you already know the answer to that…

Routine or Ritual

Last week, I commented on prescriptive routines. Let’s pull that thread. Humans are driven by habit and ritual, after all.

Do you have rituals that serve you?

A little over a quarter of a century ago, I committed myself to completing a novel that I’d been working on since high school.

I had a little ritual before I began writing.

I would make a mug of espresso.

I would turn on the Bring on the Night live album (stop laughing at me).

I would sit down at a large, heavy desk, and fire up the household’s Apple IIe, place my fingers on the keyboard, feeling the ridges on the F and J keys, moving my fingers slightly in the curves of the other keys in the home row, take a deep breath and plunge into the writing.

On Federal Holidays or days when there was too much snow for my husband to go to work (we lived in Virginia, so you’re looking at a couple of inches), I couldn’t really write. I had someone trying to talk to me as I was trying to get into the groove.

I did finish that first draft. It was deeply terrible. But finished.

I sometimes think about that little ritual and laugh at myself for my attention being so fragile that I couldn’t write if my groove were thrown off.

Or, I used to.

Chemex Coffee Maker

Today, I needed to write a blog post about productivity, and I couldn’t get started. So, what did I do?

I made myself a mug of coffee.

I started playing Bring on the Night (on a device that hadn’t been INVENTED yet. I love living in the future!).

I rested my hands on my laptop keyboard, moved my fingers along the keys in the home row.

And I plunged into writing.

As Kenny Kirkland is diving into his keyboard solo, I’m in my groove.

The point isn’t that writers are weirdos or something. We are, but the point is that where proscriptive routines sometimes can be thrown off easily, sometimes a little ritual can serve you when you need to get something done.

Do you have rituals that serve you? Can you develop them consciously?

Sign up for Get Control of Your Life! and find out.

The Perfect Morning Routine

The Perfect Morning Routine
A chart with actions and time to do them.
The perfect morning routine, down to the minute

Did you know The Perfect Morning Routine will bring about health, wealth, and happiness? I didn’t until fairly recently, and I learned it from a very special source.

I learned on the treadmill. I find treadmills deeply tedious, so I would often grab my tablet to watch some videos while I pretended to take a walk.

Being interested in self-improvement and productivity, I ran across a series of videos on YouTube with attractive young men talking Very Seriously about their morning routines and how that increased their productivity.

They would get up before dawn, do some meditating, exercise, eat a beautifully prepared protein-rich breakfast, and read some Improving Literature before getting on with a long bike ride to the office.

While a firm believer in bookending one’s day, the proscriptive “routines” they’d come up with often had me snickering and wondering how long such perfection endured.

Long enough to finish the production of the video? Maybe a few months until the season changed and that ten-mile bike ride would have been dangerous in the dark?

Do I think exercise is Important? Well, obviously. I was exercising while watching the darn things and had gone to the expense of putting a treadmill in my house!

Do I think nourishing oneself well is Important? Yeah, I am managing a health condition with diet until some of my organs give out on me and rebel and I have to go on meds.

It’s the prescriptiveness of it that makes me laugh and wonder if the procrustean nature of the routine wouldn’t become onerous after enough time.

I did an experiment with a finely-tuned “Morning Routine.”

How long did that last, and did it do me any good?

Evaluation of Life Experiments is part of my Get Control of Your Life! course.

Sign up to find out! The results may be surprising.

Be More Successful by Accepting Your Limits

The need for rest is a real constraint. Ignore it and fail!

If you grew up like I did, you were told there are no limits to what’s possible. “If you can dream it, you can do it!”

That feels good, but it is also more limiting than you could possibly believe.

Resources are finite. There’s no getting around that. Everyone has twenty-four hours in a day, sure. The twenty-four-hour day of a single mom looks very different from the twenty-four-hour day of an empty-nester.

It is pointless to pretend otherwise. It is an excellent way to get yourself well and truly stuck.

What if, by analyzing your real constraints, you could have a method to find workarounds that you can use that increase life satisfaction and goal achievement?

I will be teaching a class in precisely that in a few weeks. I’m charging less than you’d spend on dinner in a restaurant. I’ve even been scolded for undercharging.

If you follow through on the course (yes, that’s the catch, the work will be hard) the ROI on this course will be astronomical in terms of life satisfaction and productivity.


Do you want to Get Control of Your Life?

Sign up now!

How to keep your data clean with Advanced Excel

I had a fun job working as an administrative assistant at a local college for a few years. Part of my job was to process expense reports.

To streamline things, I created a reimbursement form for the professors to fill out after their European trips. However, since this was a language department, most of the professors liked to explain things in lots of words. While why they had to order that specific item at the Deux Magots was an interesting enough story, I just needed to know it was lunch and how much it cost!

I needed to prevent them from trying to write a novel in a cell. How did I do that?


Next Class Offered

Session One: Wednesday April 27 6:00pm-9:00pm

Session Two: Wednesday May 4 6:00pm-9:00pm

Special Course Rate $100.

Visualizing Data Makes Decisions Easier in Advanced Excel

Setting up charts correctly and according to exact specifications is an important part of many papers and studies for my various clients.

However, in my personal case, I find that many people with whom I interact (<ahem!>Husband</ahem!>) respond better to visual representations of data than to the figures themselves.

You know you want to learn advanced charting, and the finer details of formatting, as well as combination charts.


Next Class Offered

Session One: Wednesday April 27 6:00pm-9:00pm

Session Two: Wednesday May 4 6:00pm-9:00pm

Special Course Rate $100.

Pivot Charts are Easy and Shouldn’t Belong in Advanced Excel

People who just want the data in an easy-to-understand format are in love with PivotTables and Pivot Charts.

There’s also this idea that they’re difficult and esoteric, which is why most curricula (including this one) put them in an advanced course.

Thing is, once you catch on to a few basic principles, they’re childishly easy.

Wanna learn how?


Excel Advanced

This will be a six-week course starting:

Thursday, January 6, 2022

7:00-8:00 pm EST

Tables and Structured Referencing is Beautiful in Intermediate Excel

I was working on some data once, calculating by a lot of criteria whether or not one of 8,000 computers was supposed to get an operating system upgrade, or if we just needed to buy a new computer.  I had a formula to evaluate it based on some 10 or 12 criteria.

Then I hit this one computer and in looking at it, knew that the evaluation in my formula turned up the wrong result.

Oh dear.  (Only I didn’t say “Oh, dear.”)

I was looking at thousands of computers.  What if I got some others wrong?  (Hint:  Yes, the result was wrong in about 150 cases).

I rewrote the formula, tested it against some known results, and yes!  Turned out correctly.

So, I had to copy that formula down an 8,000-row column, didn’t I?

No, I blasted well didn’t.  That’s where the beauty of tables in Excel comes in.

Want to learn that?

Excel Intermediate

Excel Intermediate is a six-week course starting:

Tuesday, January 4, 2022

7:00-8:00 pm EST