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Time management


Time, the scarce resource that is  finite for each of us. I collected  some time management articles, books and ideas that I tested and put into practice. They worked well. Stuff that is good for me may be bad for you, still these techniques make common sense and I hope you will find some of them useful. This article contains mostly  the links, and only short resumes of the underlying strategies.

First, an incredible visualisation of how much time is there in a lifetime (a hint: not that much):

Then the must read old fashion book about time management:

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Stephen R. Covey

This book is all about priorities, urgency, what’s important, win-win strategy, relationships and making time to have a good health and constantly improve. It is a book for everybody.

Speaking of win-win, I also learned (the hard way) that being  assertive is a must.

And now,  some new and innovative ideas about time management.

The one book that made all the difference to me is Getting Things Done (GTD) – David Allen. The principle: human mind is limited and chaotic. It helps a lot to have a written system to keep a record of all the things that should ever be done. Any time a “todo” thought bubbles up (to start something, to buy stuff, to meet some people …), you quickly write it down in your “inbox”. Once a week it takes you 1-2 hours of your time to process the inbox: you take each  item from the inbox, think about the next step you should take in order to advance with that project and move that action  on a specific list (phone calls for the evening / stuff to print / things to buy from hardware store etc.). If you have some free time, you look quickly at the lists with all the possible things you could do in that time. That helps you advance on your projects. The big advantage of this method is that it makes a lot of head space. As you know you have written somewhere all these things to solve, you mind is not constantly generating scary random thoughts about the things to do. GTD boosts productivity also by  grouping similar tasks together. There are some initial steps to make GTD system work: finding a free weekend to “initialize” the system (it takes at least 2 full days, to make order in  old lists, bookmarks, mails, documents, youtube watchlater etc.). My favorite digital tool for my inbox and my project lists  is  Google Keep. It synchronizes impeccably my laptop and my smartphone, so I can quickly take a note at any time anywhere (even if I am offline).

Another concept that helped with my time management is finding my strengths and weaknesses. This is a general personal development issue, but it helped to know my strengths, so that I know what kind of people I need arround myself to complement me. One good book on the subject is Tom Rath’s StrengthsFinder 2.0. And even though I am a big fan of positive psychology, I discovered that finding my “weakest link” and working to improve it, made my life so much easier ,  fun and effective. To find it I tried to think about all the things I do not like about myself, and tried to find a pattern, the one thing that all those had in common. I was not able to find it by myself, apparently finding our faults is a blind spot. But speaking with good friends,  that know me well and that have the courage to tell me their honest opinion,  about the stuff that I constantly do and I  wish I would not, helped me see the elephant in the room.

I was also impressed by the idea of using systems, instead of goals. This idea is borrowed from Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert. He has a  nice speech on the subject. I also enjoyed his book:  “How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big”. His idea is that in order to be productive we need energy, to have energy we should be healthy, sleep well, exercise each  day and eat food that makes us feel good, energetic, ready for action (or sleepy if it’s the evening and we want a good night sleep). His idea is to tweak the environment so that the good results come without will effort (for instance the fridge could contain only healthy food). He sais we should not be afraid to be egoists, in the long-term this is the best path towards generosity . He talks about the importance of doing what you want to do when you want to do it. Logically, it is better to have as much control and flexibility with your time. And to have the optimum mood and energy for each task, exactly at the moment when you are engaged in that particular activity.

I guess this is why GTD – Getting Things Done works so well – it’s a system, once activated, it just keeps running.

Here are my other tricks (system improvements) I found really help me in my battle against time:

I consider my technology devices (phone, laptop, kindle)  not only working tools, but also brain enhancing machines. And I search all the time for new ways to boost my mind using technology. For instance I use calendar notifications.  And an alarm in the evenings to remind me to go to sleep early.

If I find something nice to read, I save it in my Pocket (a browser plugin) for later. And all the videos go to my watchlater list, waiting for me there until I am too tired to make something more active with my neurons.

Another trick: for the afternoons when I feel overwhelmed, I had a busy morning schedule, and my mind is all a big mess and I unable to concentrate anymore, I discovered the magic of 10 minutes of meditation. It resets my mood and fills me up with energy. A good introduction is Andy Puddicombe’s Ted Talk. And a very useful app is Headspace. For fun, here is what Jerry Seinfeld sais about meditation.

Trying to simplify, instead of optimize (which is a natural tendency for many intelligent people), is another eccentric strategy of Scott Adams. It is very nicely resumed here:

 I also take care of the dark side of technology: I block all notifications and put my phone on silent while I work. And I avoid multitasking, instead I concentrate on one task for a long time (for an hour – an hour and a half), followed by a large break (at least 10-15 minutes).  Sometimes I go for a  short walk to clear my head.

Recently I discovered a web browser plugin called “Focus 45″. Just One click and for a number of minutes my favorite sites  get blocked (facebook, news etc.). It enables me  to get started fast. Then the work  fills my mind and once I enter the flow zone, I stay there focused.

I save all the locations relevant to me in google maps, so that I can  ask my smartphone to show me the way.

I have always audiobooks on my phone to listen to while driving or walking. I take the kindle with me when I travel. I learned how to read fast. And I read book resumes (Blinkist is a great app for that). I save information on mediums that are easy to share and are location independent. Google keep, google calendars and google docs are golden.

I avoid going shopping in real shops, especially in a big supermarkets. Shops for me are energy black holes. I prefer to order everything online whenever possible. With good planning (thanks to the GTD system), there is no problem if it takes 2 days or a few weeks for the ordered stuff to arrive.

Another trick: as I am not a fast starter, especially if it is something new and/or difficult, it helped me to understand how procrastination works and to know some good strategies against it:


And another good article on the topic of discipline:

and the Ted Talk of Capt. Casey Whitson, U.S. Air Force 

But with a twist:  for me it’s important to be disciplined without being judgmental. Self criticism makes more harm than good. Self-compassion is much more helpful. The authority on this field is Kristin Neff, she has a good book and a Ted Talk on the subject. I am still searching for the healthiest way to be disciplined, and try to see discipline as a highly positive concept.

Time synchronization is also significant. It’s not about how much (free) time we have, but how well it is synchronized with the time of our family / friends / colleagues:

Speaking of this, as for families with children time is made of  a different substance, I mention one very good  book on the subject: Overwhelmed: Work, Love and Play When No One Has The Time, Brigid Schulte

The word “Play” in the title is so well-chosen. Play is “an activity that it  so fun that we do not want to stop from doing it and it has absolutely no purpose”. It seems it is very very important for our well-being to allow ourselves wholeheartedly to have the time for play. It is all explained very well in  Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul, Stuart Brown.  As for having time for holidays, it’s a no brainer ;)

And last, but not least: delegate, delegate, delegate

Hope you enjoyed this collection of ideas, and please feel welcome to give me your feedback.


living in the city

Do you like Bucharest? A spanish guy asked me a few years ago, while I was kayaking on the Danube. No, without hesitation in my voice. Strange, he replied, this is the 39 time I ask someone living there this question, and I always get the same answer.  Another friend, moved in western europe, asked me a long long time ago if I am happy in  Bucharest, I said no, so she asked why not move?

During my childhood I had a double life. kindergarten and school in a small city, holidays at the grandparents in the countryside. Each time I was brought back from the country side I started crying.

So now as an adult I tried to reconstruct some of the countryside happiness, a place with an orchard, flowers, dirt, grass, birds, stones, snails, worms, clouds and night stars. It is so refreshing. Still, at the countryside, I got surprised and scared about missing Bucharest.

Is it the comfort I got used to that I was missing? In time, as the countryside comfort grew, I got it that it was not that. It was something else. The people mostly, but not only that. If i compare Bucharest with a  bee hive or an ant nest, I was missing the wonderful structures the collective has build for it’s own delight.  So a little late in my life I got it, how blessed I am to live in a space where people have put so much work in building public shared spaces for everybody to enjoy, that are impractical to have, if they do not have a high enough number of users.

The olympic swimming pool, on top of my list. The running track on the  athletics stadium. The sports coaches and their followers. The quiet streets with beautiful old buildings, that I  enjoy on a late  walk or bike trip. The good restaurants. The kebab. The market with fruits and vegetables from all over the world. The yoga classes. The facebook events. The dancing clubs. The coffee shops. The 3D cinemas. The pizza. The theaters and concert halls. The sushi. The coworking hubs. The bakeries. The relieve that this list is every day changing, that events and places bloom even in the coldest of winters. So yes, now I really like big cities. And I wish Bucharest was a better city to live into, as it has his construction flaws. And hope that  people living here will work and  fight for making this place better, as it has his big big problems, compared to other european capital cities.











Fast Reading Tips

Reading more than one book a day? Of course it’s possible, with:

- Blinkist – an app containing summarized versions of thousands of books

- improving reading technique, as explained in 10 Days to Faster Reading, by Abby Marks-Beale

-  Photoreading,  by Paul R. Scheele

Sounds too good to be true, but I found that these techniques work really well. Most of the times avid readers already use the same strategies, without being conscious about it.

Blinkist, I warn you, is highly addictive. I can finally read  summaries of  books I am curious about, and would never have time in my lifetime to fully read. I also use the summary to choose the books that are worthy of the  time to fully read. And cherry on the top, I could read on Blinkist a summary of “10 Days to Faster Reading” ;)

About “10 Days to Faster Reading” I learned from the Personal Mba list (which is also on Blinkist). It did not make a huge difference for me, as I already reading quite fast. But even a 10% increase in speed, which I noticed already, for a book that takes me 5 hours, is 30 minutes of time gain. For a slow reader, using this book, the reading speed could double.

Photoreading is a different story. This technique made in my case a huge difference. Is perfect for reading tourist guides before holidays, for documentation, and for getting an idea about a book that I am curious about, but do not have the time to actually read. I also noticed that photoreading a book, before reading it normally, enhances my level of comprehension and the retention of ideas. Now I “preview” each book I read (I read the table of contents, the subtitles, the first and last paragraph of each chapter). Then I “photoread” the book (it’s all explained  in the photoreading book). Then I actually read it, if I still find it’s worth it.

Now I always have a clear purpose in my mind, when I read a book, no matter the technique. And I have no remorse to decide not to read a book, or parts of it, if they do not help me.

The question is: can I improve this even better? What other strategies do you use?  







Manifest #colectiv

Tristete si furie, impletite ca intr-o hora, traite la unison de atatea suflete. Tristete ca prietenii  nostri sau prietenii prietenilor nostri, oameni tineri si talentati, cu toata viata inainte,  nu mai sunt intre noi sau au vietile schimbate pentru totdeauna.

Cateva saptamani nu am putut functiona. Am simtit nevoia sa ma vad cu toti oamenii care imi sunt dragi, sa stam la o poveste impreuna, sa bem un pahar de vin, sa impartasim caldura umana. Cu totii am simtit ca oricine dintre noi putea sa fie in #colectiv, un zar divin a facut alegerea.

A fost o mare maturizare, o constiientizare la nivel de popor a razboiului dintre noi si ei. Cu sange si multe victime. Zilnice. Cand parintii merg la urgenta la spital, si nu pot fi tratati pt ca aparatul cel scump cumparat de la cine trebuie nu functioneaza. Cand oameni isi pierd viata pt ca niste retardati merg cu 120 km la ora noaptea prin oras. Sau cand taxiurile nu stau pe loc la culoarea rosie a semaforului.  Cand copii  primesc medicamente la care sunt alergici.  Cand ne ingramadim pe sosele supraaglomerate pentru ca autostrazile nu sunt gata. Cand ne sufocam de seceta si poluare deoarece padurile au fost taiate la ras fara mila. Lista e fara sfarsit. Si acum nimeni nu e tras la raspundere.

Acum ne-am dat seama ca nu mai putem fi martori pasivi. Pentru ca asta inseamna moartea noastra lenta. Si inseamna o condamnare la moarte pentru parintii, fratii, copii, prietenii nostri. Ruperea dintre noi si sistem a fost constientizata ca un razboi in toata regula. Si #colectiv a fost o mare batalie.

Scuzele noastre zilnice le stim atat de bine: nu vreau sa aud de politica, e o mizerie, nu vreau sa imi stric pretioasele lucruri frumoase din viata mea cu asta. Sau “nu putem schimba nimic, sistemul e prea puternic”.  Insa acum suntem adulti si stim ca asa nu se mai poate. Sistemul trebuie invins. Este singurul mod prin care putem da sens tragediei din #colectiv. Un sens pe care il datoram oamenilor care si-au pierdut viata.

Este si momentul sa preluam toate emotiile, sa nu ne lasam coplesiti de ele, ci si sa le folosim ca si energie pentru partea noastra lucida si rationala. E momentul sa ne folosim mintea.

Pt ca sistemul trebuie invins prin ORICE mijloace, atata timp cat sunt legale. Aceasta include si a inventa cai de aducere in legalitate, asa cum Partidul Pirat a obtinut dreptul de inregistrare a unui partid politic cu doar 3 membrii.

Insa vorba unui prieten informatician, daca vrei sa spargi o pagina web, nu tre neaparat sa spargi serverul de web. Orice alta vulnerabilitate este la fel de buna, atata timp cat obiectivul final este atins. Inclusiv una care nu a mai fost folosita niciodata pana acum. Astea sunt si cele mai frumoase, ca ii invingi si nici nu inteleg ce i-a invins.

Suntem tineri, creativi, motivati, si intelegem lumea cea noua, intelegem tehnologia. Suntem multi. Eu in locul lor acum as tremura de frica. Nici macar la final nu vor intelege. Si nici nu ne va pasa ce gandesc ei, vom fi multumiti sa redevenim stapanii lumii noastre.

Fiecare dintre noi poate duce lupta altfel, si fiecare isi poate aduce propria contributie. Aici sta si puterea noastra. Nu trebuie toti sa ne facem partid politic sau sa fim candidati. Putem sa facem voluntariat pentru un partid politic nou si integru. Putem sa fim observatori in sectiile de vot, sa fim siguri ca alegerile sunt corecte.

Dar putem sa luptam cu alte arme, nu neaparat politice. Putem sa cantam, sa cream comedie, sa fotografiem, sa sculptam, sa scriem, sa distribuim idei, sa conectam oameni. Putem sa invatam. Putem sa ii lasam fara obiectul muncii, fara ciolan (tehnologia ne va fi de ajutor). Putem sa nu mai fim pasivi, sa deschidem procese, sa ne informam. Putem sa avem initiative. Putem sa protestam in strada cu consecventa, pentru orice nu ne convine. Putem sa facem documentare. Putem sa cultivam competenta si integritatea.  Putem sa ne organizam.  Putem sa ne schimbam.  Putem sa ne incurajam. Si putem sa ne inventam propriile noastre arme.

La lupta!



















Move your DNA- best book I read about health

After my movement quality test, I looked more about minimalist shoes and foot health, so I stumbled upon Kathy Bowman’s book “Whole Body Barefoot: Transitioning Well to Minimal Footwear“, which I read in a blink of an eye. Then I looked about her blog and other books (that I have already read). My mind was blown away by her latest book, Move Your DNA: Restore Your Health Through Natural Movement. This I consider the best book about health that I have ever read. And one that turned up side down and made me reconsider everything I knew on the subject. To the point that I could not help bring the subject about in any conversation that I had. So not to bring that any more into the discussion, as it is so full of meaning that is impossible to resume, I thought best is just to write this post about the book, and if you are curious, please read it. Or listen to the audiobook, marvelously read by the author.

de la Giurgiu la Venetia


Urmaresc de ceva timp calatoria  solitara în caiac a unui roman de la de la Giurgiu la Veneţia. A mers pe Dunare, a traversat tot litoralul romanesc, bulgaresc, a trecut de Turcia. Mai are putin si ajunge la Salonic. Se alimenteaza din incurajarile noastre si ajutorul  unor oameni extraordinari.


Povestea este pe facebook:


(C) Petros Papadopoulos

Finante persoanale – o formula echilbrata

Am descoperit o carte despre finante personale scrisa de o senatoare americana, cu o idee minunat de simpla si eleganta. Principiul foarte sanatos: o formula care sa iti permita nu iti mai bati capul cu banii si sa iti vezi de viata.

Elizabeth Warren in actiune:

Despre autoare pe Wikipedia:

Si rezumatul cartii ei:



Cuvinte despre viata, impartasite de Oana Pellea.

Guvernul refuza sa rezolve criza citostaticelor


De mai bine de doi ani, din spitalele si farmaciile romanesti lipsesc peste 20 de medicamente esentiale în tratamentul cancerului. Oamenii afectati de aceasta problema nu au timp si putere sa lupte impotriva starii de fapt. Zilele acestea se definitiveaza bugetul pe 2013, haideti sa luam atitudine!

Sarbatori Fericite!