Smatterings: Managing Email, Nature Prescription, Building Habits

habits, managing email, nature prescriptionThis is my fourth “Smatterings” column, which is a weekly digest of my selection of favorite and/or most-informative or inspiring articles read on the web during the past week or so. It’s a nice way to pass on to my readers good posts/articles that have helped me in some way and also an opportunity to “put in my two bits” on a given subject.

Also, stay tuned. This week I will be posting a new series that will cover a gamut of subjects/ideas under the heading of ‘the perfect vacation.’ It’s taken a while to write, but this is the week!

18 Tips and Tools for Managing Email Successfullybuffer

This was such a practical article loaded with ideas and tips.

There was one suggestion that I take exception to: “Use your inbox as a to do list.” Personally, I don’t think that’s the best way to handle “to do’s.” If I leave an email in my inbox rather than dealing with it, it becomes an “out of sight, out of mind” issue as it drifts further and further down my list of emails—a really good way for me to forget about it all together!

But there’s an easy solution in Outlook, which is the email client I use, and maybe in other email clients, as well. I can “flag” any email to convert it to a to-do. When I click the flag icon, it automatically adds the subject line of the email to my Task List. I usually change the task name from the subject line to something that actually sounds like a to-do. I can also double-click the task to read the contents of the email if my memory needs refreshing. After I flag and convert to a task, I file the email away in order to keep my inbox pared down to unread/unprocessed items.

But I digress. Other than this one exception, I found this to be an excellent article with lots of applicable ideas. My favorite ideas were all the tools that were suggested–Boomerang, Unroll.me, Batched Inbox, etc. I had never heard of most of these, and I have already signed up for one of them and plan to look into the others soon.

If you use any of these tools (or any other such tool for managing email) and find them helpful, won’t you leave a comment and let me know your thoughts?

Do You Need a Nature Prescription?WebMD

I am a believer in the calming, peaceful effects of getting outdoors! I recently wrote about this in A Powerful Therapy That EVERYONE Can Take Advantage Of.

It is a fact: getting out in a nature has strong positive effects on mood, stress levels, depression, cognitive abilities, recovery times after surgeries, etc. It appears to be linked to childhood obesity (the more time a child spends outdoors, the less likely he is to be obese), social integration (the more time a child spends outside, the more friends he has), as well as a converse link between spending time outdoors and all kinds of other issues, such as ADHD, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, to name a few.

But there’s a spiritual component that I don’t read about in these kinds of articles—or at least not the same kind of spiritual component that I find extremely valuable (speaking of… it’s amazing the kinds of things that get labeled “spiritual” these days). The Bible talks plainly about the  connection between Spirit and nature: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands” (Psalm 19:1, NIV).

Getting out into nature just makes me feel more connected to the Creator! And why not? Nature is, after all, his handiwork!

Six Signs that You’ve Developed a Good HabitPick the Brain

It is no secret that I love the subject of building habits. I’ve written about it a time or two myself (such as this post on Building Your Values Into  Habits). Habits can be our best friend (if they’re good habits) or our worst enemies (if they’re bad ones). This article quotes a study that says approximately 45% of our behavior is habitual rather than intentional. I’ve read heftier percentages, too. But the point is, much of our behavior is done without thinking. Things like brushing our teeth, where we put our keys, the route we take to work, etc. are examples of habits/behaviors that we do without giving it second thought.

The beauty of habits is that we can actually choose to build specific ones that will work with us to help us become the person we won’t to be. The author of this article says:

Habits are unfair, superhuman powers. They can make an initially challenging and uncomfortable behavior turn into an automated, enjoyable process. That’s magic.

I love—and agree—with that summation. Are you up for a little super-humanness? What habits would you like to build into your life that would make you a better person?

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