Tag Archives: Time management

Routine Auto Maintenance – A Necessary Pain in the Ass

I admit, I have always been (and apparently remain) a total slacker when it comes to keeping proper care of my vehicle. I didn’t have to worry about this in NYC, which was awesome, but now we’re back to daily driving and car ownership and so it looms… I did buy two Groupons for Jiffy Lube (pats self on back), so I’m at least acknowledging and addressing my shortcomings in this area. At any rate, here is a handy and simple guide to routine auto maintenance. I’ve scheduled it into my Google Calendar so I won’t space and kill our Kia.

Every 3,000-7,000 miles

The oil and oil filter should be replaced

Inspection of transmission fluid level, coolant, power steering fluid, washer fluid and wipers, tires, exterior lights

Every 15,000-30,000 miles

Replace air filter

Inspect battery and coolant

Replace fuel filter

Replace air filter and power steering fluid

Inspect coolant, radiator hoses, HVAC system, brake pads and suspension

Every 35,000-50,000 miles

Inspect and replace battery

Replace spark plugs and spark plug wires

Inspect ignition system and suspension

Every 60,000 miles

Replace brake pads and brake fluid

Replace radiator hoses, coolant, power steering fluid and timing belt

Inspect the HVAC, suspension components and tires

Oil changes and air filters are very important parts of engine maintenance; however, a thorough inspection of all engine, transmission, cooling, brakes and suspension components should also be performed regularly. The owner’s manual provides a routine auto maintenance schedule based on engine mileage for most cars.

The other issue with car maintenance is the money – my solution is to put aside a fixed amount every month to be saved in case of extensive repairs or parts replacement (beyond the maintenance listed above).

See what the Lifehacker Hive Mind has to say on the subject:



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Getting Things Done: The Calendar

The Getting Things Done method also places a great deal of importance on the calendar. It’s the “bucket” in which only three types of information should go:
– time specific actions (meetings, appointments)
– day specific actions (tasks and to-dos that must be completed on a certain day but not at a specific time that day)
– day specific information (things you want to know about on certain days such as directions to appointments, events of interest)

Evidently only these three types of information and nothing else can go onto your calendar – be it digital or analog. This is to prevent the jam-ups that occur on your daily to-do checklist because of constant new input and shifting priorities. Additionally if there is something on the list that doesn’t really need to be done it dilutes the importance of the tasks which must be accomplished that day.

To that end, actions that are not day-specific and reminders should go on a “next actions” list. So your daily tasks revolve around two separate sources of information: your calendar and your next actions list. This seems needlessly complicated to me and is why I love my Moleskine daily planner, it’s the best of both worlds. I can put in events by time and list what I have to do that day – as well as a general time (morning, afternoon) in which I have to get stuff done. The only drawback is that if I don’t get something done on one day, I have to transfer it to the following day…which would be painful except I have a fetish for my own handwriting and adore making lists. Just sayin’…

How do you keep track of daily tasks – do you have a system with which you are similarly obsessed?


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Friday Bites: #3 Establish Your Morning Routine

In this week’s installment of Tsh Oxenreider’s “52 Bites,” I’m hitting week 3, “Establishing Your Morning Routine.” With a 3.5 year old, a 2 month old and a telecommuting spouse who opens up shop anywhere between 4-8am daily, “routine” is a stretch… Mornings are typically chaotic, hectic, and fraught with anxiety. I expect this state can oh be heightened when I go back to work. So, I’m fully on board with this week’s bite!

Oxenreider stresses that you do the essentials first, before beginning your day. Choose five tasks and do them first thing in the morning, in the same order every day. Your list of five tasks should be written down and hung prominently until it becomes a habit.

Here is what I’ll be tackling in the morning:
1. Shower and fully primp – hair, makeup, and non-yoga pant outfit (gotta keep up with these Texan girls)
2. Make and pack kids’ meals for daycare
3. Prepare our grown up breakfasts and lunches (we’re on a diet plan…starting next week…I mean it…)
4. Create and review my to do list for the day
5. Check, respond to, and clear personal email, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc messages

Phew. Mind you, this all must be accomplished by 7am when O wakes up and may possibly have to be done one-handed, while holding H in the other.
Setting the alarm now for 5:30am, ugh…


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Getting Things Done – Part 1

So the first expert method I’m hitting up is the ubiquitous “Getting Things Done” by David Allen. I already apply several of these techniques to my own work and personal life, but I am always looking to tweak and improve.

His workflow can basically be broken down into the following steps:
collect – process – act

Of course, there’s much more to it than that – since the book is several hundred pages, but that’s the gist.

– capture all information in “containers” (physical in-boxes, note taking/lists, electronic systems, etc)
– every open loop must be in your system
– “collection” system must be emptied, regularly, item by item

– is it actionable?
– NO: then it goes into the trash or into either a tickler (future project) file or reference/information file
– YES: is it a project (more than one step)? if so, what is the outcome? what is the next action?
Capture projects on separate projects list
If it’s a one-step action item, put it on the action item (to-do list), where you will do it, delegate it or defer it

So, basically we’re looking at a few categories for all of your data:
– action item list (consisting of singular actions – i.e. make vet appointment, follow up on printing order, etc)
– calendar (where you put time-specific actions such as meetings/appointments and information needed for these appointments)
– project list (a main list consisting of multi-step projects and intended outcome which will be broken out into individual action items and then added to your daily action item list according to when they need to get done)
– individual project files (where you keep all pertinent information applicable to the projects on your list)
– tickler file (stuff you want to get to eventually, but either don’t have the time, inclination or all of the information to begin)
– reference/information file (stuff that is not actionable, but that you need to save for future reference)
– TRASH (duh)

Well, seems rather complicated when it’s all written out – but I’ve gone ahead and started a project list, a tickler file and a reference file. I already have the to do list and calendar – which I am not embarrassed to say – is totally analog. The action of physically writing things down is extremely satisfying to me. At any rate, since we just started this week, I’ll keep the blog updated with the outcomes.

I’ll start with the filing system – coming soon in a subsequent post.

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Resolutions are for fatties


I’ve accepted my big rear, hatred of exercise and passion for booze, so my “resolutions” this year relate to the one area over which I have some modicum of control: time management (and by extension, organization…)

So in 2012 I’m going to experiment — combining some methods and tips from experts, apps and tools from the intarwebs, and my own common sense and experience — to make some lifehacky tweaks in our little world. The purpose of this blog is to share what I’ve learned and to hopefully pick up a few pointers from readers.

As a family, we have three major areas of improvement to straighten out:
– F’s workflow (now that he has a home office and the boss is back in NYC)
– my goals and projects (top of list – get a job!)
– organize and manage our budget and finances once and for all (total stress reduction…)

Starting with “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, I’ll road test some time management methods: break them down, try them out, and post the pros and cons. I’ll also be outlining and applying the principles of Julie Morgenstern’s “Organizing from the Inside Out,” as it pertains to our physical environs (home, office, etc…)
Sprinkled in the OCD mix will be tests and reviews of apps, tools, and software designed to get our collective sh!t together. I’ll share the best and worst.

It’s going to be a streamlined and efficient 2012, damnit!

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