The Chaos Whisperer

Helping you tame the Chaos at Home & Work


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How To Identify Your Goals

A few posts ago, I walked you through my 11 Tactics for reaching your personal resolutions and goals. But what I didn’t tell you is how to actually identify what those goals are. This is by far the most important FIRST step you will need to take if you want to see any project or goal to fruition.

Your goals should be very personal to you, so I’m not going to try and tell you what they should be. But I can tell you how I went about deciding on my own 10 Goals for the year.

The key is to keep it simple and specific.

Start with one category or area of your life at a time, such as your work, your relationships, or your health. If you’re only focusing on work for the purposes of this exercise, then try to identify what areas of your work or project that demand your focus the most. You can’t make a goal for every single desire or problem you face – you’d never get them all done!

So simplify and specify.

What aspects of your work and life need the most attention? It’s important to understand the process of killing your “good” ideas for the truly great or worthwhile ones. And the same goes with your goal setting. For me, I decided to focus my goals on my work environment & experience, my finances, my sleep & fitness routines, my relationship, and my inner voice. This is my simplified list of the specific aspects, or categories, in my work and life that most need my focus this year.

Once you have identified the categories within which you need to focus, then take a few minutes with each one and describe what you want to see happen in that aspect of your life. What would a successful outcome be that you could reasonable reach in a year’s time? You can describe it however you like – in prose or poetry, as a list, or even as a drawing – however will resonate with you the strongest.

Personally, I am an avid list-maker. So I made a list. I took each category, and listed out the 1-2 successful outcomes I’d like to see in each this year. Limit yourself to only 1-2 in each category, to prevent your overall list from becoming overwhelmingly long. And again, remember to be specific and actionable.

Describe the “what” and the “how”.

What are your 1-2 ideal outcomes for each of your focus categories, and how could those come about? Or rather, what is your ONE ideal outcome in that category, and what are 1-2 ways you could see that coming true? If you describe what you’d like to see happen in that category in a year’s time, then your goal will simply be how you will get yourself there.

For example, one of my categories is my work environment. Within that category, I realized that my two primary work spaces needed to be better organized to allow me to be more productive. So the 1-2 ways I envisioned that coming true were to (1) organize my production office, and (2) clear the clutter in my home office to keep both more artistically and productively arranged.

Now you do the same! After you’ve done the above, you should end up your own simple number of specific outcomes you’d like to see in your work and life. If you end up with too many of them, or they are too vague and broad, go back and go through them again.

Remember to simplify! Keep them as specific and actionable as possible, and you will be better setting yourself up for success. If you prefer an acronym, keep them SMART: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic & Timely. However you remember, the bottom line is that the more specifically you nail down the “what” you want, the more easily the “how” will come with it.

Beyond that, the next step is to assign priorities and deadlines to your goals, and start taking action… but that’s getting more into the weeds of how to actually start achieving your goals. That’s your next assignment. But at least for now, if you’ve done the above, you can proudly say you’ve identified what your goals are – and that’s a very rewarding thing to have achieved in itself!

So happy goal setting, and feel free to ask me any questions or leave any comments you like below. I’m always here and always happy to help you simplify and specify!

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How To Have a Richer Life

Now that we have a shiny new Chaos Whisperer site and clearer Categories for you to navigate through, it’s time my Weekly Whispers got more specific within each Category – starting this week with the 1st Category: Finances.

The most common financial frustration I observe amongst artists and creative people is the difficulty of balancing having enough money to live the life & create the things you want, without feeling like you’re “selling out.”

Everyone wants to have a richer life, but that means different things to different people. And while it’s important to value the non-monetary things that do enrich your life, you cannot ignore the important role money does play in your ability to continue thriving and (most importantly) continue creating.

It doesn’t have to mean making choices simply because they make you more money, or skimping on your midday latte purchases. That could be part of it, but it’s really so much more than that – and it doesn’t have to mean compromising your ideals or your art.

The real secret to having the money you need to lead a “richer” life is a combination of 3 steps:

(These were inspired from the wisdom of Ramit Sethi, author of I Will Teach You To Be Rich, so I’ve linked to his site for reference on each below)

  1. Earning More Money
  2. Saving More Money
  3. and Automating Your Money

1. Earning More Money

There is a difference between making tons of money, and making tons of money worth earning. It isn’t just about making more salary – it’s also about where that paycheck is coming from. Because money coming from a occupation you truly love will be worth more to you. And doing something you love will motivate you to work harder and keep you working there longer, encouraging more productivity and ultimately making you even more money! So there is an actual logical case for sticking with your creative passions so you can earn more there in the long term, rather than “sell out” for something that seems more profitable in the short term. The moral of the story is that in order to earn more money, you should earn it from something you are passionate about.

2. Saving More Money

I agree with Ramit Sethi’s theory on Big Wins. Making little changes to skimp on the everyday splurges (“I don’t really need another t-shirt” or “I’ll just get a small coffee today”) isn’t going to make a significant enough difference. It’s about saving on the big things that do have a large impact on your savings bottom line — things like your rent, your mortgage, your energy bill, etc. Take a look at your finances, track your expenses or just watch your checking account activity for a few months. Take note of which items or categories cost you the biggest chunk of change. If you can find ways to save in these larger areas of your finances, you will find it a faster and easier way to save larger sums of your money.

3. Automating Your Money

Automation is a wonderful concept that basically frees you from the hassle of remembering – when to pay your bills, when to pay off your credit cards, when to evaluate your savings and investments, etc. These can be easier managed by arranging direct payments on your bills from your bank (most banks offer this option), setting up automatic payments on your credit cards, working out a regular payment plan on your mortgage or other recurring expenses, or giving yourself automatic reminders (my favorite is creating recurring “reminder” events on my Google Calendar). There are many other methods as well, but the point is to utilize systems that alleviate your need to do any of the remembering.

Now if you can master all 3 of these steps, you’ll be able to live a richer life in more ways than one. You’ll be earning more money from an occupation that fulfills you and provides you the freedom and creative autonomy you crave. You’ll be better saving your money for a backup plan in case your creative endeavors don’t go as well as you hoped. And you’ll be freeing up your time from worrying about payments and money management, which you can instead spend on more valuable and enriching activities, like working in your studio or hanging out with friends and family.

Because as Ramit Sethi says, living a richer life is really composed of 3 areas: our jobs, our finances, and our relationships. So if you can master the 3 steps above, you will be able to optimize all 3 areas at once!

Happy richer living!

And please comment below if you have other ideas on how to achieve a richer life. 🙂


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The New and Improved Chaos Whisperer site!

Introducing the newly designed, focus-refined, Chaos Whisperer site!

As I promised in my last post, the new and improved Chaos Whisperer site now features simpler navigation and clearer Categories listed right at the top of the site, so you can more quickly find what you need to help manage the Chaos in your creative projects & endeavors.

You may have already heard me mention the following key Categories, which I’ve noticed are often the greatest areas of struggle for creative minds, and are where I feel I can best offer my help:

So naturally, it makes sense that each of these Categories be accessible at the top level navigation. Because no matter what type of creative work you engage in, you probably struggle with all of these. And hopefully the solutions and systems I offer in these sections will help you navigate your own Chaos with each of them.

So without further ado, please feel free to explore my new and improved site. You can access any of the above Categories by hovering your mouse over “Conquer Your Chaos” in the top menu. Whatever area gives you the most Chaos, click on over to that Category and see if The Chaos Whisperer can help you manage it.

And please let me know if you have any comments or suggestions for further improvement.

Happy Chaos Whispering!


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Design from Chaos

In my last post, I put out a call to action for all of you, to seize the day and take control of your own battle with your Chaos. And before that, I also posted about my original intentions in creating The Chaos Whisperer, and my current plans to reel in that focus on what I do best and what I most want to help others with.

So now I want to bring the two together and show you how I plan to simultaneously help you take on the challenge I presented to you, and better achieve my goals as The Chaos Whisperer.

The key is in this website – the vehicle through which I intend to equip you for your journey ahead. In order to be able to give you any direction, I’m going to need to give new direction to this site – because as I narrow in on what I can best offer you, I need to ensure this site also provides the best delivery of that offering to you.

So with that, I’ve decided to give The Chaos Whisperer a facelift – a new refined design for a new refined focus.

The design of your website really says a lot about you – what you are offering, what you are trying to achieve and what you believe in. So not only is it important for purely functional purposes, but it is also an essential part of strong marketing and branding of both yourself and your creations.

For example, I know that if I’m going to make a measurable impact in the creative work of others, I’m going to need to better market my offerings and The Chaos Whisperer brand — just as I am narrowing in the focus on what those offerings and that brand will be.

My goal is to offer you simpler site navigation and clearer post categories, to help you more quickly find what you need to help manage your creative Chaos. And through this new website, my ultimate goal is to then help you turn your creative ideas into action and implemented results.

So stay tuned for the new and improved Chaos Whisperer site coming in a week, with our next regularly scheduled Wednesday Whisper!

And in the meantime, please let me know below:

What do you think of this new refined focus, and what would you like to see on the newly designed website?


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Freedom from Chaos

“Freedom is just Chaos, with better lighting.” –Alan Dean Foster

Happy Independence Day! (And if you’re not American, then just Happy 4th of July!)

Today is about finding independence from what threatens to restrict and constrict you. For Americans in 1776, that meant freedom from the rule of Great Britain. But for most of us today, that could mean a great many other things that threaten to inhibit our expression and livelihood.

In my opinion, one of the greatest and most common of obstacles – particularly for creative minds who value freedom of expression very highly – is the Chaos that often comes with life’s creative process. When Chaos hits, it’s easy to lose focus on your end goal. It’s easy to feel intimidated by the expectations and successes of others around you, combined with your own internal critic. And it’s easy to lose momentum and hope of completing your creative endeavors, whatever they may be.

But on this Day of Independence, I want you all to remember where you come from – or at least where your good friends in America come from – and take this as a call to action!

Today, fight back against the Chaos that threatens to reign over you. You are in control, you set the rules, and you do have the power to set yourself free!

Just as the Declaration of Independence dictated the new framework for Americans in 1776, so you can write out your plan for taking back control of your own situation today. Get a game plan downset realistic goals and milestones for what you most want to achieve, and how you define success – and then never let anyone or anything hold you back from achieving those!

I want to help you get there, but I can only give you pointers and offer possible directions. It’s up to you to choose the path that’s right for you, and then actually walk that path. I’m on the same journey for myself. So let’s do it together, and share with each other what we learn along the way.

Remember, your Chaos (whatever that may be, Great Britain or otherwise) doesn’t have to hold you back, and it doesn’t have to be an enemy. If you can rule it, instead of letting it rule you, you can channel all its power and energy into something truly creative, productive… and uniquely you!

  

So now tell me, how do you intend to take your Independence into your own hands today?


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Creativity = Chaos

“Chaos in the world brings uneasiness, but it also allows the opportunity for creativity and growth.” -Tom Barrett

As I’ve continued exploring this new path as The Chaos Whisperer, I’ve discovered something vital about both who I am and what it means to be The Chaos Whisperer.

It’s all about CREATIVITY.

I have always preferred working in fields related to the arts and creativity, but I’m not actually an artist myself. I’ve tried my hand at various creative pursuits within widely varying degrees of success. But the one thing that’s always been stable is my ability to navigate the logistical side of creative business.

You see, I am not a creator. I am an implementer. I’ve never been a big ideas person, I don’t frequently have that lightbulb moment, and my days aren’t filled with a regular influx of new concepts. But when an idea does reach me, and it’s fresh and original, I do know how to get it in motion. I am an implementer, a progress-maker, an organizer and achiever. I can take a big wild idea and break it down into its executable form.

That’s really why The Chaos Whisperer was born. Because with creativity comes its own kind of Chaos. You can’t have one without the other. And all those ridiculously creative people I so admire do often struggle with the more logistical elements of their work – the finances, the time management, the business development.

And that’s exactly what The Chaos Whisperer is here for – to help identify simple systems and tools that those wonderful creators can utilize right now to help better manage their creative workflow.

You don’t have to drastically change the way you do things. That’s not what I want. I want to help you find applicable solutions to the most common Chaos that comes with your creative pursuits, and help you integrate time-management techniques into your existing routine.

I’m not just going to give you motivational advice on being more productive. There are plenty of other sites that do that. The Chaos Whisperer is less about having more willpower, and more about having the right systems for your kind of creative work – navigating the clutter and mess you accumulate when you’re busy creating, and finding simple solutions that help you focus on the things that need your creative attention.

So if you feel like your creativity could use a little Chaos Whispering, then subscribe to this site and check back for more weekly words of wisdom.

I will also be giving this website a new facelift soon, to help you better navigate the chaos of content within the site. So stay tuned for that too!


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Resolutions in Review

Well we’ve done it folks! We’ve now gone through all 10 of my 2012 Resolutions, as well as the 11 Tactics that I am using to accomplish them.

To recap, these were:

Tactic #1: Simplify – The fewer goals you have, the more likelier you are to achieve them. Narrow your list down to 10 or less, and keep them simple & actionable.

Tactic #2: Prioritize – Multi-tasking is a myth! Assign an order of importance to your goals and keep this in mind as you attack them accordingly.

Tactic #3: Think Big, Act Small – Break up each goal into smaller bite-size steps, and then tackle them one at a time according to their priority, giving yourself no more than 2 CRITICAL to do’s each day.

Tactic #4: Set Deadlines – Give yourself a time frame to accomplish all the steps in each goal. Be realistic and remember Parkinson’s Law: any task will take as much time as you allot it to get it done.

Tactic #5: Don’t Justify – Often the things we least want to do are the things most needed to get done. Ask yourself, “Am I inventing things to do just to avoid the important?” Remember: the sooner you do it, the sooner you don’t have to do it!

Tactic #6: Outsource – Can any of the steps toward your goals be automated or done by someone else? Don’t be afraid to ask for help, and remember: the key to having more time is doing less.

Tactic #7: Imitate -Why reinvent the wheel? Learn from what your colleagues have done, use that as a helpful jumping off point, and then make it your own.

Tactic #8: Define Your Space – Identify those places where you feel most productive and then make that your regular workspace. Organize all your necessary materials there, and keep out any other irrelevant clutter.

Tactic #9: Teach It – One of the best ways to learn something yourself is to try teaching it to others. Find a friend or colleague who wants to learn what you are doing and share with them along the way.

Tactic #10: Stay Positive – Stay focused on the Chaos you can influence. Don’t waste time on things you have no control over, or things that may go wrong. Learn from the past and quickly move on to improve the future.

Tactic #11: Make It Your Own! – Stop defining your goals based on what others tell you is important. Define your own definition of what success means to you, then go for it and never give up!

I also hope, through this process, that I’ve demonstrated how you too can utilize these Tactics to achieve your own goals. You just need one final key to tie them all together – a solid plan for how to use them the most effectively. So I’ve incorporated each of my 11 Tactics into a simpler 5-step process. I call it my IDEAS Plan:

Step #1: I is for Identify

  • Define your list of goals, and the spaces & materials you will use to achieve them. (Refer to Tactics #1 & #8)

Step #2: D is for Devise

  • Deconstruct your goals into actionable steps, with priorities and deadlines. (Refer to Tactics #2, #3 & #4)

Step #3: E is for Energize

  • Get moving! Put your devised plan into action, and don’t let procrastination or mistakes slow you down. (Refer to Tactics #5 & #10)

Step #4: A is for Analyze

  • Evaluate your progress & your process, and find opportunities to outsource or learn from others in your field. (Refer to Tactics #6 & #7)

Step #5: S is for Systematize

  • Develop your personalized routine & optimize your workflow to give yourself maximum freedom to do the things you want to do, or share what you’ve learned with others! (Refer to Tactics #9 & #11)

I hope these prove useful to you in your own personal and professional journey.

Happy trails!

  

And as always, please don’t hesitate to share any comments, questions or exclamations below.