Do you like playing video games? I like to play the odd game, but do not consider myself an addict by a long shot. Recently I’ve found a substitute that offers a payoff. You might be thinking of online poker, but I’m referring to brain training. By nature, young children seem to learn something new everyday. They are alert, curious, and have questioning minds. As we age, it is important to make sure that we exercise our brains in a variety of ways. To this end, I began exploring a number of brain training sites online. In as little as 15 minutes a day, you can improve your mood, your memory, and your creativity among other things. If you feel like exploring, here are a few sites that I checked out. There’s no need to subscribe. Each contains free exercises.

Have fun. I know I did.

Breaking Away From Wander and Squander

Do you feel that you are trying hard, but not accomplishing what really matters? Over the past week, I’ve noticed small details signaling that something is about to fall through the cracks. I put my wallet in my gym bag so I wouldn’t have to carry my bulky purse. Two hours later I went to put gas in my car and discovered my wallet wasn’t in my purse. After a moment of panic, I remembered where it was. Sometimes our work is like this. We try to do more with less and end up delivering less value with more stress.

After two or three similar incidents happened to me in rapid succession, it occurred to me that I should pay more attention to what I am doing and focus on the activities that yield the greatest result for a given effort. One thing is certain. We all have the same number of minutes available to us each day. It’s the small decisions we make about how we spend those minutes that add up to the results we get.

Without priorities, we can expend tremendous effort without creating tangible results. Sound like a chicken running around with its head cut off? Have you taken some of those minutes to figure out what’s important to you? Do you know what matters to your organization? If you don’t know the answers to those questions, you’ll wander (lack direction) and squander (your time).

To make the most of each day, put systems in place to establish and review your personal and professional goals. Write your goals down and keep them in your line of sight. Visible goals tend to get accomplished. Beyond that, prioritize your daily activities with your goals in mind. Try thinking about your work differently. Place each activity into one of the four categories below.

Do it Now!
High urgency and high importance. How significant is the task? The more a task contributes to an organizational goal or impacts the work of others, the more significant it is. When the start of a new project depends on the completion of a particular task, that task is likely to be highly significant. If you need to obtain a permit from the city in order to fence in your yard, getting the permit is significant. The closer the deadline is, the more urgent the task.

Low urgency (at least for now) and high importance. Frequently we are assigned sizable tasks requiring a substantial amount of effort, but they are not due for quite some time. The ideal approach is to book several two hour blocks of time over the next few weeks to work on the task. The task gradually gets done without creating undue stress. Be careful! Procrastination results in panic and stress as the deadline approaches.

High urgency and low importance. These are tasks that can reasonably be done by someone else. Personally, hiring a maid and outsourcing my bookkeeping have been great stress relievers. There is no good reason why I need to do these tasks and having them off my plate, allows me to focus on items that really make a difference in my life.

Delete or at least Delay!
Low urgency and low importance. There may be activities on your list that you never seem to get to. If tasks are still on the list in a few months time and their urgency and importance are still low, there is a high probability that if you never did them, there would be no impact. Don’t delay them forever. It’s better to delete them.

You get to choose how you spend your minutes. Instead of being overwhelmed, figure out what really matters and go do it!


Once you have established your goals, think about some activities you can incorporate into your daily life that will support you in attaining each goal. Here’s a personal and professional example.

Personal Goal: To eat in a more healthy way
Stock my fridge with healthy fruit and veggie snacks
Grocery shop once a week with a written list

Professional Goal: To be more proactive in my networking efforts
Attend a networking event at the local PMI chapter
Follow up with the contacts I make


I was on the elliptical machine at the Y, when the Jamaican man on the machine next to me smiled and said, "It's better to shine in use, than to rust undrawn." Apparently, it was his grandmother's favourite saying. I like it and so it becomes my tweet of the month.

Communi-Kate is a free, monthly newsletter on improving bottom line results through better management of projects, programs, and portfolios. Back issues can be downloaded for free at Kathryn Pottruff is a senior business executive and President of Pottruff Consulting Inc. Working with individuals and organizations, we drive profitability by improving how projects, programs, and portfolios are managed. We work with our clients to establish processes, systems and tools that deliver value and build competitive advantage. In short, we transform paralyzing complexity into dramatic results!

Phone: 905-901-4266


Gladwell is totally engaging in this series of adventures that are written with the intent of engaging us and making us think. Each chapter masterfully presents a tale and raises a thought provoking question, for which there may not be a good answer. Nonetheless it causes us to wonder. For example, “What’s the difference between choking and panicking?” Perhaps some of February’s Olympic athletes could shed some light on this. Or, “Why are there dozens of varieties of mustard but only one variety of ketchup?” For awhile Heinz produced green ketchup, but it never really caught on. Why was the phrase, “Does she or doesn’t she? Only her hairdresser knows for sure.” outdone by the phrase, “Because I’m worth it”? Are you curious? I was and I thoroughly enjoyed the book.