Monologue: The Best Times to do Various Things (Book Recommendations)

Katie Corbett headshot

By Katie Corbett

If you’ve ever wondered “When is the best time to interview for a job?” or, “How often should I update my resume?” I’ve got two book recommendations for you that could answer all your job-related—and personal—questions. Listen to get the full scoop!

My Most Effective Workday Schedule, and How You can Find Yours, too

Katie Corbett holds the book "When"

By Katie Corbett

As I have been contemplating the shift from working a set schedule at an office to doing my own work from home, I wondered how I would adapt and stick to a working schedule that would give me the freedom and flexibility I want yet assist in the growth of a business. I decided to turn to science for the answers.

In “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing,” Daniel H. Pink provides much information to aid in the development of an ideal plan. My ideal work schedule, according to science is:

7:00 – 9:00 a.m.: Breakfast, light reading, meditation/prayer
9:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.: Writing, strategic planning, strategic sales calls
12:00 – 1:00 p.m.: Lunch
1:00 – 2:00 p.m.: Light editing, admin work, updating databases
2:00 – 4:00 p.m.: Nap/reading for pleasure
4:00 p.m. onward: Dinner, networking, hobbies, creative pursuits

It is my hope to one day adopt this schedule. It mirrors pretty closely the schedule I’m working now, since I work from 9:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. each day. I’ve discovered I like that work schedule and it works for me. When I’m working totally for myself, however, I’ll probably pull a Tim Ferriss and take Mondays and/or Fridays off—maybe both. (Tim talks about it in “The 4-Hour Workweek”, if you want to look it up.) Because, after all, what’s the fun of working for yourself without the flexibility?

I didn’t go into the science of things because I want you to read the book for yourself and figure out your own ideal schedule. Give “When” a thorough read and use it to find your ideal schedule. There are different types of people in the world, and everyone has a different body chemistry and circadian rhythm. What works for me might not work for you—especially if you’re a night owl. Remember to experiment and have fun with the experience.

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The Best Time of Day for Hobbies

Katie Corbett holds the book "When"

By Katie Corbett

While my husband and I were in the process of putting our condo on the market to sell, I wanted to make sure I had enough fun in my life to combat the stress of this venture. I did this by doing a new hobby each day. I wanted to guarantee I made time for this project, so I determined the best time of day when my brain would be most ready for fun.

I consulted, “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing,” by Daniel H. Pink. In the book, the author explained that the brain was most capable of creative and fun pursuits in the afternoons and evenings. During that time, I made sure to try something new. Some of the activities I enjoyed were:

• Learning to use the Cranmer Abacus, a device people who are blind can use to do math.
• Solving sudoku, logic and word puzzles.
• Doing crossword puzzles using either braille or an accessible crossword gaming program on the computer.
• Cooking during my lunchbreak at work.
• Baking a cake using all paleo ingredients.
• Going on a waterfall hunt.
• Birding and apple picking.
• Playing guitar.
• Writing poetry.
• Studying astronomy.

One might ask, “That’s great, Katie, but how did you come up with so many varied and unique hobbies to try?” Well, I created a spreadsheet listing all the hobbies I wanted to try and areas of life I wanted to learn more about. I chose the items I was most interested in pursuing, and wrote them down on index cards. On each card, I wrote down what doing the hobby would look like, such as reading for an hour and a half or solving one sudoku to completion. That way, if I got bored or couldn’t think of a hobby to try, I could draw a card and add some spontaneity into the project. I made a rule that I could not repeat a hobby more than once within each seven day period. To track my progress, I made a notebook listing each day of the week on a separate line, and wrote down on that line what fun activity I did that day.

If you are looking for more amusement in your life, I encourage you to take an afternoon or two and try some new hobbies. Any time after 4 p.m. will do. Tell me in the comments what kinds of activities you find you enjoy. Explore and have fun!

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The Science of Perfect Timing

Katie Corbett holds the book "When"

By Katie Corbett

I’ve always known that, for me, attempting to solve a logic puzzle at midnight is harder than brainstorming short story ideas. What I didn’t think much about is that science backs this up. In my quest to become more productive, I decided to delve deeper into this topic.

I read the book, “When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing,” by Daniel H. Pink, and learned that chemicals in the body and circadian rhythm can inform how well humans do at various tasks throughout the day. Here are some lessons I learned about myself through applying the lessons in this book:

• I tracked my time for a week. I learned that, in a given 24-hour period, I only need 7 hours of sleep to function optimally.
• I discovered that it is helpful for me to take melatonin at night to fall asleep faster and stay asleep all night.
• I only need one cup of tea in the morning on workdays to attain optimal alertness.
• I figured out that it is good for me to stop work at around 2:30 p.m. in order to avoid the afternoon slump.
• I found that I socialize and network best in the afternoons and evenings.

I encourage you to track your time and observe your habits, likes and dislikes around your routine. Note that preferences could change as you get older or your life circumstances change. (For example, in college, I used to be a night-owl, but have found I have transitioned to more of a morning person as I have gotten older.) What do you notice about yourself that could inform your decisions going forward? What would you like to find out in order to make changes for greater fulfillment and life satisfaction? What goals are you working towards? How do you hope that the science of perfect timing will help you realize them? If you feel like sharing, let me know in the comments.

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Reflections on The 4-Hour Workweek, Q4

Katie Corbett holds the book, "The 4-Hour Workweek"

By Katie Corbett

Since I owe a lot of my success—and future planning—to the book, “The 4-Hour Workweek,” by Tim Ferriss, I have decided to revisit the book each quarter in 2019. Here are my thoughts as we enter the fourth quarter. I hope this inspires you to pick up a book that helps you live your dreams. Enjoy!

How Learning to Say No Helped Me Make Time for the Things that Matter

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By Katie Corbett

Everything in your life takes up room, even if that isn’t physical space. Things, people and ideas can take up emotional space as well as time. If this is a positive, no problem. Negative situations in your life, however, can fill space that could be occupied by something better.

Author Rachel Hollis, in “Girl, Wash Your Face,” advises looking at your life and making sure you only leave room for things you want to be there. I took her advice and made room for a great new friendship. Here’s what happened.

I have a friend from college who is fun to hang out with. We have a lot in common and enjoy many of the same activities. This friend, however, is flexible to the point of being stressful to schedule with; details are vague or keep changing. This person has opinions about where and when we get together, but it takes a while to pin down a plan. This was fine when we were in college since we lived minutes from each other and had more time freedom. Now, however, this is not the case. After one particularly stressful planning session, I said “Screw it,” and cancelled—which I hate doing. I decided I wouldn’t get together with this person unless we had a date, time and place firmly established. I discovered that reliability is important to me and I want all my relationships to be with people who display that quality. I took a break from this friendship for a couple weeks

In the meantime, I started getting together with one of my husband’s friends. This friend loves the outdoors and I had been hoping to find someone with whom to do things like hiking, canoeing and birding. This friend is also reliable and tries her best to be on time.

My other friend texted me and asked to hang out. It took about an hour—I’m not kidding—but we were able to pin down a date, time and place. I had to stand firm and say no to a few ideas that would have made things complicated, and ask many questions to elicit this person’s preferences. In the end, though, we got together at the specified hour and had a nice time.

By letting go of the need to be flexible–and the stress that comes with it–I made room for someone fun to have a more prominent place in my life. And I didn’t have to completely let go of my other friendship to do it; I let go of my need to please others beyond the point to where it’s good for me. I’m relieved I had this realization and can enjoy both relationships stress-free.

I encourage you to take a look at your own life and prioritize the things, ideas and people in it. What kinds of space do they take up? Is there something else you want that you don’t have room for currently? Saying no, even if it’s just to yourself, can be scary. If you stick with it and remain true to yourself and what you want, it will be worth it.

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Have Physical Reminders of Your Goals so you Don’t Get Diverted

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By Katie Corbett

Often, people have a tendency to focus on what is right in front of us. We get distracted when enthusiasm wanes, when a project ceases to be interesting, or when something else comes along that seems more exciting. Having visual or physical reminders of our goals can help spur us on during emotionally dry times.

I first read about this idea in “Girl, Wash Your Face”. Author Rachel Hollis says she puts pictures on her closet door to remind her to keep striving for those big goals. I love the idea of having a collage or vision board. As a person who is blind, though, I knew pictures would not be an effective way to motivate myself. Here’s what I did instead.

• For motivation to keep working on my garment project, I wear my prototype every day when I’m in my office.
• To remember to complete one hobby each day, I have a notebook where I write my hobbies down as I do them, with a line for each day of the week.
• To keep prayer in mind, I put my rosary on a shelf right next to my cell phone, so I’ll feel it when I reach for my phone each morning.
• I have a notebook where I record everything I need to get done for the day; in addition to containing my list, it serves as a physical reminder of all I need to do.
• If I have to bring something unusual to work, such as a snack for a work pot luck, I put that item with the things I take with me each day.

Whether you use physical motivators like I do or create a collage of inspirational pictures cut from magazines, keeping reminders of your goals front and center will propel you to achieve them. What goals are you going after right now? What could you keep visible for motivation? Let me know in the comments.

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What I did to Discover that I’m Satisfied with Where I am in Life

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By Katie Corbett

I turned 30 this year, and one of the things I felt as I reflected on my life is that I wished I had accomplished more. I think this comes from not feeling good about myself. I knew one of the activities I could do to fight and disprove this feeling was to make a list of all my accomplishments so far.

I didn’t actually get around to doing this until I read “Girl, Wash Your Face,” by Rachel Hollis. She is an encouraging person who is honest about her faults, accomplishments and goals in equal measure. After reading such deep bluntness, I figured it was high time I sat down with myself and got a little pep talk.

I wrote out my list of achievements by thinking about my life at different ages, stages and activities. Here are some of the fruits of that exercise:

• I realized that most of the time, when I start a project, I see it through to completion. I do wonder whether I could achieve more in some areas, but I don’t wish I had spent more time on any specific achievement in the past.
• There are many things I have done that I am proud of and happy I achieved. It’s pretty cool to tell people that I have seen the moon through a telescope, learned braille shorthand, and have written three novel-length works.
• I want to explore some of my hobbies on a deeper level, though I am not sure how. I want to do something more with music and the 70 songs I’ve written.
• Although I’m blind, I have gotten to have many experiences in spite of – and in some cases, because of – my disability. I won two essay contests only open to people who are blind, got an A in an astronomy class even though others tried to tell me it would be impossible, and had the opportunity to go whitewater rafting while working at a summer camp for blind students.
• These life experiences could give me an avenue to teach others. I could teach someone how to cook Filipino food, how they could go about designing a product, or the ins and outs of being an editor of a newsletter.

I encourage you to think about your life and make a list of all you have accomplished. Writing it all down might help you realize you have achieved more than you thought in your lifetime. It can help you see that you are good enough, and give you the kick of motivation to go after those big dreams.

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The Acupressure Point that has Changed my Life

Katie Corbett holds the book, "Accupressure's Potent Points"

By Katie Corbett

Today, I’m talking about how I’ve successfully managed menstrual cramps. Not a topic you’d expect from a lady who blogs about career books? Well, our energy levels, sleep cycle and even our period can impact our careers. Here’s my journey from pain to productivity. Listen and enjoy!

Settling Your Stomach

Katie Corbett holds the book, "Accupressure's Potent Points"

By Katie Corbett

Nausea can hit at inconvenient times. It can be caused by something you ate, by menstrual cramps or morning sickness, or by nerves. I don’t get nauseous often, but when I do, I get to a point where I’m wondering if I should grab the nearest trash can.

The book, “Acupressure’s Potent Points,” by Michael Reed Gach, provides a quick way of dealing with a stomachache. Here’s how it works:

The Acupressure Points:
Intermediary (P 5)
Location: Four finger widths above the center of the inner wrist crease, between the tendons.
Benefits: Relieves upset stomach, nausea, and vomiting.

Inner Gate (P 6)
Location: In the middle of the inner side of the forearm two and one-half finger widths above the wrist crease.
Benefits: Relieves nausea, indigestion, stomachaches, and wrist pain.

Firmly press P 5 and P 6:Place your right thumb on the inside of your left forearm three finger widths from the center of your wrist crease. Apply firm pressure with your thumb for one minute, placing your fingertips directly behind as you take a few long, deep breaths. Then place your thumb two finger widths from your wrist crease and apply pressure for another minute. Firmly press these points on your other wrist for one minute each as you breathe deeply.

I have found this book to be instrumental in helping me feel better, concentrate more and ward off those common aches and pains that would normally bring my productivity to a halt. Pick up a copy and learn how acupressure could change your life for the better.

Note: I am not a doctor, and any advice I give on this blog is not to be taken as medical advice. I’m merely providing information about a technique that I have found to be effective in dealing with common aches and pains. Consult your doctor to get advice from a medical professional.

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