Tactics for Reducing Stress and Solving Sticky Problems - A Grab Bag for Hard Times

  • add more time or money: they say time is money. can you add one or the other to reduce pressure?
  • visualize unknowns in detail to bring them into existence. don't worry if it feels arbitrary.
  • adjust your long-term perspective: what are the chances that anything about this situation will matter to you at the end of your life?
  • adjust your identity: the current situation and its outcome will not say anything important to you to the people that matter.
  • focus on contribution rather than achievement: did you make a change for the better? good. was it enough? who can say.
  • eliminate and prioritize: it may be that you have to aim to do less, but better.
  • get help and work it out together: are you effective in using your team members and partner teams as assets toward the larger strategic vision?
  • disentanglement/simplification: assess whether you are treating multiple problems/factors as single, unified, factors. Things that are complex when taken together may be much simpler when you understand that they are separate but related concepts.
  • focus your decision making on action selection and then execute. if no action is available, switch tasks to something where there is action available and revisit the current subject later.
  • talk. this is another form of giving form to the unknown. you were given this task by someone. ask this person questions until you understand the whats and the whys. ask people you trust about the things that concern you. you will convert unknowns into obstacles, which can be avoided or mitigated or incorporated into the solution.
  • don't follow too closely and you won't have to rely on your reflexes and attention. this is an expansion on time and money. on the highway you can choose your following distance. follow too closely and you end up having to react quickly to the driver ahead. a poverty mindset often keeps us from giving large following distance. know that no matter how many cars lane change into the space ahead of you, you will get where you are going.

#QuickTips: Savor A Bit of Gelato


My “sweet tooth” is a bit unusual. A lot of the time, I can only have a little bit and then I just stop. My girlfriend doesn’t know how I can just have a few spoonfuls of gelato and then I’m done.

So I thought about it and here’s what I think are the key factors that may add up to a quick and dirty dessert strategy:

  1. I only buy pints of gelato. No cheap stuff. I like Talenti Coffee Chip.
  2. I eat directly from the container while standing up. No need to be comfy, I won’t be long. Just need a clean spoon. (note: This won’t work if you have kids and you’re trying to get them to eat at the table, so alter to your needs.)
  3. I try to savor the flavor of each spoon. When I stop pausing to notice how awesome it is, I’m done. Put the spoon in the sink, put the gelato back in the freezer.
  4. I only get to eat gelato once a day. Usually after a meal, but not while I feel “full”. And it’s better as an irregular impulse than an expected sequence.

It sounds a bit uncivilized when I write it out, but I dare say I enjoy each spoon of my gelato a lot more this way than in large and regular doses.

(Photo Credit.)

#QuickTips: The three most important things most people can do to improve the quality of their coffee.

Photo by Allagash Brewing

  1. Buy whole bean coffee. Grind just before brewing. Preferably with a burr grinder for consistent grind.

  2. Buy fresh locally roasted coffee. If your coffee has a “roasted on” date you can figure out freshness. If it has an expiration date, you can’t. There are no consistent standards for coffee expiration.

  3. Take the time to taste test beans from different regions and roasters. I thought I loved oily dark roasts but after trying a lightly roasted, clover-brewed, Yirageffe from Starbucks, I sought out Ethiopian beans from roasters whose product I found in my local Whole Foods. I found that Ceremony Coffee Roasters in Annapolis Maryland will roast small batches of Ethiopian heirlooms for me after my order and ship via USPS for $5. I have found true coffee love.

Bonus tip: also test out different brew processes for yourself. I have been single cup brewing for years but manual processes such as aeropress or pour over (with some stirring) work best for the kind of rich extraction I want. I own a Breville hot water heater with selectable temperature to help make this part automatic.

Photo Credit: Allagash Brewing