Archive for the ‘Performance improvement’ Category

From: Eileen A. McAllister @ Google+
November 04, 2014 at 11:41PM

Unplugging from the Stream

Question tonight is  …
How old were you when you learned to tie your shoes? Do you remember it? Did you start with the “bunny ears” method, or pick up the standard method first?

Question from 2014-10-22
_What part of pop culture do you wish would just go away? _ 

Answers that I received were reality tv and hipsters.  I agree with reality tv, but I would just be happy if someone would do away with skinny jeans … they are frightful 😉

My personal pick for the piece of pop culture that I would do away with would be gauges. I don’t have anything against people doing what they want, but I truly believe that a lot of folks with incredibly large ones are going to regret it later in life, and it’s REALLY hard not to stare at them, ya know?  Think about the fellow who put them in his cheeks so that his teeth show. He must have a ridiculous amount of drool on his pillow for one thing, and who wants that???

My answer to last night’s question of
If you could choose anyone, who would you pick as your mentor?

+Elon Musk  – srsly  I’m in this Performance Psychology doctoral program right now, and I’m starting an MS in Space Science in January, and if I survive, then I’ll get a Master of Aeronautical Science in Human Factors and Safety in Space right on top of those two, while earning a CISSP and PMP certification in the middle somewhere.

I had given up on really doing anything worthwhile with my life, but I’ve done everything that I set out to do over the past 15 years, and after my visit to NASA last year … after sitting around shooting the shit with Astronauts and NASA engineers, scientists, and PR peeps at a little watering hole in Houston, it clicked that hey … I can still do this … it’s not too late … I. CAN. DO. THIS.  So, I am.

I have several reasons why I chose Elon Musk as who I would like to be my mentor. First of all, he’s crazy smart, successful, he’s a creative thinker, a problem solver, he thinks long-term, and he thinks BIG!!! That and he owns a space technology company who I would work for if NASA falls through 😀  He has many important qualities that I am looking for in a mentor, and I think that he would provide good advice and possibly sponsorship for my research. If Elon falls through, then I am still looking …

I was really productive at work today, plus I finished an assignment over lunch. At the end of the day I stood up, and I felt …  satisfied … maybe even happy … about what I got accomplished today.  I really like that feeling of having completed everything; of being able to walk away from work with no unfinished tasks dangling in the back of my head and distracting from my enjoyment of the evening. It feels GOOD to be productive, and I smiled almost all afternoon as I saw everything coming together and item after item dropped off my to do list. It’s feeling especially good tonight because I’ve not been posting how I like – I’ve been rushed, and I’ve enjoyed going back through and responding to comments and getting a more substantial post together tonight.

Keep your fingers crossed for me that this lasts 🙂

Questions from a few different nights that I haven’t answered yet are listed below, and I’ll work my way through them over the next few nights. I answered one extra tonight, so I’ll keep doing that every day or two until I get these knocked out … I have some fun memories associated with these, so prepare yourselves for long posts when I answer 😉

1) What was your favorite food when you were little? Is it still your favorite?  Was there a food that you couldn’t stand that you like now?  Any foods that you didn’t like then and never will?

2) Did you ever threaten, or even prepare, to run away from home when you were a kid?  Do you remember why?  Did you pack anything?  Did you make it out of the house, and if so, how far did you get?

3) Have you ever been given a present that you hated/disliked? What was it?  Who gave it to you? What was the occasion? How did you react – could they tell that you didn’t like it?
Have a great night, fellow +Plussers, and Ride the Stream while I dream 🙂

#unpluggingfromthestream #goodnight #digitalart #darkness #night #photography #productivity #dreambigorgohome

From: Eileen A. McAllister @ Google+
October 29, 2014 at 03:06AM

Unplugging from the Stream

Questions tonight are …
Did you ever threaten, or even prepare, to run away from home when you were a kid? Do you remember why? Did you pack anything? Did you make it out of the house, and if so, how far did you get?

Questions from last night were:
If you could have been a child prodigy what would you have wanted to be skilled at? Why?

I really wanted to play the piano but I hated practicing, and I was a good singer. I had no idea how to pursue becoming a professional singer, though, so I never pursued that. I was NOT, however, a child prodigy, and I don’t think that I would have chosen that. I think that if I were to choose now, that I would have chosen to be a Math or Physics prodigy … or a mind-reader, or empath … either of those would have been both a curse and a blessing, but think of how far someone who can consistently demonstrate either mind-reading, true empathy, or both could take us in the study of our brains and future capabilities!!!

Previous question that I will eventually answer 😉
Have you ever been given a present that you hated/disliked? What was it? Who gave it to you? What was the occasion? How did you react – could they tell that you didn’t like it?

I felt wide-awake and alert almost all day at work today again, but by the time I got home, I was falling over tired and took a nap. I woke up at 1:15am, did a quick homework assignment, and now I’m here doing my final post for the day.

The time change should help me a bit because that will be a two rather than three hour difference, so I won’t be working at such extremes in school. Yes, I KNOW that I should set an arbitrary time to be my deadline, but it doesn’t matter if I try to do that … I still KNOW that my assignments aren’t due until 2:00 or 3:00am, and I end up being on that schedule while trying to work on Eastern time … it’s interesting and has been a bit difficult to adjust to, but I’m getting there 🙂

Today is now day 28 (YAY!!!) of my favorite month which culminates, as I’ve mentioned many, many times now, in my favorite holiday of Halloween, and my next Halloween themed image can be seen below …

Have a great night, fellow Pressers, and sweet, batty dreams to you all 🙂

#goodnight #digitalart #darkness #night #humor #halloweeniscoming #eileenshalloweenproject #october #october2014 #halloween #halloween2014 #bats #batty #ozzyosbourne #ozzy #photographyproject #zombie #samhain #celticnewyear

Organization Makes for Improved Efficiency and Performance

Well, I got up in the middle of the night, and I completed my (small) assignment with two minutes to spare, getting it in at 2:58am, which equates to 11:58pm MST, and is just under the wire for my assignments. It could possibly have been interesting reading, but I was in a hurry. I do have another related essay due this week on the same material, though, so I will take the time to read it more thoroughly tomorrow.

One of the reasons I got into performance psychology is that I really love psychology – I find it fascinating, and I’m looking forward to learning more about it. I really want to give it the time it deserves to be cemented in my mind, but that wasn’t going to happen today. I’m in this for the long haul, and after my first course ended, I knew that I needed to make some changes. I’ve been having a horrible time with my sleep and energy levels, however, and I haven’t been up to taking the steps needed to get everything in order to help me succeed.

That changed today when I went to take a nap this afternoon. I felt tired, but for 15 minutes or so I just lay in bed looking around my room and thinking about what needed to change or move or be removed in order to help me function more efficiently. A plan came together in my head, and all of a sudden I was energized and ready to do it!

My younger son came in to help me, and we moved my furniture around, swept, wiped down walls, emptied trash, and I have a much better set up in half of my room. That’s the important half for now – the place where I can work and keep my work related materials organized. The other half is filled with shelves and bins and clothing that I will start noodling on now. I don’t like how my clothes are arranged, and I have a number of bins full of random stuff – two boxes full of electrical cables, chargers, jumpers – many of which are orphaned, but I have orphaned hard drive enclosures and the like, so I don’t dare toss the lot until I pair everything up. Really, it’s more like 3/4 of my room is complete as we tackled the bathroom today as well, and it feels a lot better to me to come in here now.

I had a huge issue with my desk in that my chair keeps going missing, and rather than continuing the war of the desk chairs with the kids, I now have my desk set up in the corner of my room where the bed is close enough to use as a chair, and it can double as a nightstand. My table on the other side of the bed toward the bathroom, and is now the family charging station with multiple hookups as well as where I organized a number of perfumes and hair care products for ease of access by my daughter and me. There’s room in the bathroom for the actual products, but both of us always walk outside to use the hairspray, mousse, gel, and perfume because we need the extra space to flip our hair around or down then back up, and we both walk into clouds of perfume rather than actually applying it to ourselves. The products, then, inevitably get set down on my table while we go back in to rinse our hands or finish up with whatever other preparations we are making.

It just made sense to go ahead and arrange for them to be there instead of piling them amid a bunch of other external hard drives, vitamins, magazines, and other items that I am now keeping on my desk/nightstand on the other side. There’s plenty of room in the boys’ bathroom for all of this stuff AND the required maneuvering, but … it’s the boys bathroom, and we girls just don’t go in there …

This is probably incredibly boring, but I like a good system, as it frees my mind up to think about other things, and eliminates a lot of frustration like when my face lotion or chapstick or earrings get lost amid the piles of mail and other items that had collected over the months. I have an entirely separate table now for mail.

When I had surgery earlier this year, I bought myself a hospital table, so that I could use the computer and eat in bed. I knew that I would need it for a few weeks, but hadn’t given much thought to what I would do with it after I was better. It has been sitting on the other side of the room holding a fan, random bits of mail, a computer that I am refurbishing, and, of course, has had many articles of clothes tossed upon it 😉

The shelving unit that was relegated to the back corner of the room is now out next to the window, and is accessible from the front and both sides which makes it much easier and more useful. Under the window along the side wall is the bed table which is now holding two of those nice cloth-covered boxes – one to sort mail, and the other for additional vitamins, supplements, painkillers, safety pins, needles, a tape measure, extra deodorant, spare keys, spare change, and other random items … basically a junk drawer, but fairly organized … for now …

I also have cables for my monitor and laptop charger that are long enough to allow me to either sit at the desk in a normal position, or I can turn around and lean back in bed while still using the big monitor on the desk. Overall, I’m extremely happy with the change, I’ve enjoyed walking into my room today, and I feel like it will be easier and more pleasant to tackle my work from here on out 🙂

Day 40 – Big Happy Sigh

Happy, because I have had a positive, productive, and fun day! Work was, well, work, but I shared a few laughs and good conversation with folks, and I accomplished a lot. I have my notebook sitting open on my desk ready for me to write my six pages in the morning, and I wrote up a fresh, shiny to do list to start on tomorrow. I usually leave one on my keyboard on Fridays as a memory jog for Monday morning, but I neglected to do so last week as I took an unexpected half day off. I will not do that to myself again. It took me until close to lunch to get my brain wrapped back around my priorities, and I never was able to write my pages today.

This cascaded into preventing me from taking my 11:00am walk with my friend, and caused me to cut my lunch short to prepare for a meeting. The good part was that I did take a walk, camera in hand, on my truncated lunch hour, and I found some lovely little gems to photograph on a seldom-used secluded slice of nature behind my place of work. One of those is shared below.

I took a nap after I got home, completed my homework, and now I am catching up on my self-imposed social media responsibilities. The nap thing is a little difficult to adjust to, but after 6 weeks, my body seems to be adjusting well. The mental aspect is more difficult. My mind gets distressed when I’m up so much later, so that, even though I am getting enough sleep, and have plenty of energy during the day, I start to feel almost panicked after so many years of 1:00am indicating insomnia rather than the norm on a work night.

IMG_2347 copy

Until then …


“Why is it important to develop the skill of questioning? How does developing this skill apply to your reading of empirical articles, research conclusions, and your own dissertation?”

Questioning is at the core of human progress.  Had man not, throughout his history, repeatedly questioned the world around him, we would not have progressed.  We have trains because someone asked questions like, “How do we move a large amount of people or materials across land more quickly than in wagons?”  Automobiles, indoor plumbing, electric lighting, computers, and shelf stable milk have all come about as a result of questioning what is, and asking how it can be improved.   It is how humanity can see this image of the Earth and Moon taken by the MESSENGER probe from a distance of 61 million miles away.  It is also how this image is visible across the planet on the world wide web on the website for anyone with access to view at anytime from anywhere on a multitude of devices.  When it isn’t just a probe, but a ship full of astronauts looking back from that  distance, I want to have helped develop skills and behaviors to cope with the tremendous stress and maintain productivity and maintain positive interpersonal communication and relationships.  Being able to maintain mental health in a situation to which we have no experience to compare will be a challenge, and I think that the success of any long-term space ventures will depend on having the right tools to adapt.


It will be the similar when conducting the literature reviews for our dissertations.  We need to learn what information related to our chosen topic exists in order to ensure that we are indeed conducting original research.  Asking questions will help us determine if an article should be included, what gaps exist in the current body of knowledge, and how our topic can add to that body of knowledge and improve our understanding in that area.  It is this questioning and formulating of ideas and directions for our research that is frequently referred to as critical thinking.

There may also be points of controversy that are discovered during our critical review of research articles, that can help us hone our topics and point to further studies to consider.   Working to prepare research to support one side of a controversy should be considered carefully, but is an excellent way to help move knowledge in the area forward while helping to resolve the conflict.  Two sides of a conflict can be dug in and wasting significant energy in maintaining their current positions.  By helping to resolve a conflict, the energy of the researchers on both sides can be redirected into new pursuits if the research results are significant enough.

Until then …

Day 28 – An Essay by any Other Name …



Whew … so it’s 1:25am here. I finished up my 1400+ word long (750 – 1000 words required) comparison matrix comparison paper (seriously?!?!?) about an hour ago, and it took me this long to get it turned in. I submitted it to Turnitin for the first time at this school, and when I hit Submit, the text changed to say, “Waiting for Report” or something like that … so I waited, and waited, and waited …

I went to poke around in next week’s assignments, and then the next week’s, and then ALL the week’s … nothing.

I finally decided to refresh the page, and just resubmit if the upload disappeared, and lo and behold – I now had a View Report link available. I’m guessing that it was ready for quite some time, but since it changed status without refreshing when I submitted, I made the incorrect intuitive leap that the same would happen when the report was returned … sigh

I had a couple of grammatical errors that I noticed when I was looking over the report, and I reworded a quote to eliminate one of the matches. Overall, I had 11% similarity, but a lot of it was phrases like, “the results of the study” and “the questions posed” which are OBVIOUSLY going to be in someone else’s paper somewhere – probably LOTS of papers … deeper sigh

No worries, though, as even with those silly matches, I’m still well under the 15% that causes a red flag 🙂

I have mentioned before that I started taking naps after work, so that I would be refreshed for my studies, and that is now the official game plan. I sleep for an hour or so after work, and I wake up refreshed with my brain ready to tackle the learning and focus and concentration required to complete my work. YAY!!! There was absolutely NO WAY that I could have done even a quarter-assed job on the paper had I tackled it without that extra sleep. It’s time for me to go BACK to bed now, though, and I’m all wrote out for the evening. I still haven’t gotten to the diet and exercise discussions, but I AM incorporating those changes, so maybe it will be better to bring you my success in action rather than just my plans!

Check back tomorrow (really later today) when I will engross you with what I learned in my 3-hour PMP course (Zzz) that I am taking every Thursday for 10 weeks. I am, as you are saying to yourself, a glutton for punishment, but I want to cram as much shit into my brain as I can, and keep that puppy in tip-top shape for the duration!!! I love to learn, and my new iterative approach to adding additional activities into my life is a rousing success so far! I am thoroughly enjoying sharing it with you, and I hope that I can help some other folks work up the courage to just get out there and make your life happen 🙂

Until then …

Day 27 – Find the Light Reflecting from Within


It’s a struggle for me to think happy thoughts … to feel confident, secure, at ease. I know that I’m not alone with this, but it’s not something people walk around admitting to each other on a regular basis either.

One of the things that causes me to struggle is the detail with which I rehash conversations in my head. I go over and over and over conversations, replaying what I said to assure myself that it could not be misconstrued, reliving bad situations while trying to determine how best to conduct damage control, and generally driving myself crazy and making myself miserable and anxious.

So how do I combat this? Well, I still work through the negative things that happen, which generally just takes time and a lot of work to try to see things from the other person’s perspective. I have frequently returned to a person to apologize for something that I said, only to discover that they have no recollection, or thought nothing of whatever it was that I said. Reminding myself of these times is one tool that I use to help speed my return to the non-obsessive semi-normalcy of general discomfort as opposed to the extreme discomfort caused by conflict, debate, or other negative interaction. Reminding myself of times when what I did amounted to apologizing for nothing helps me convince myself that this is also true of the current situation to at least some degree.

Next tool – do something … ANYTHING physical, easy, and constructive that will require you to focus on a small, short, orderly task. Clean out a drawer – rearrange a cabinet – organize a stack of papers on your desk – hose down the whiteboard in the conference room and wipe it down – fill the central copier with paper – clean out your keyboard with compressed air – if you’re in IT, make coffee regardless of the hour because it will NOT go to waste – put books on your shelves in some sort of order – sort through older binders/files and walk the paper to the recycle bin – organize stuff in the supply closet … seriously …anything but get on your phone, computer, sit, talk, or walk.

I know, I know – what I’m telling you flies in the face of the conventional wisdom of taking a walk or meditating, but here’s why I do these things instead. If I walk, then I obsess on the issue and relive it over and over and over and over … and over. Same with meditation. I have frequently tried to meditate when I am in this agitated state, but it’s a no go until after I complete the above activity. Why? Because without fail, when I clean or rearrange or organize or recycle or provide coffee or paper refills, my mood rises just enough for me to move onto the next step. Looking at a clean, organized desk, drawer, or shelf is satisfying. The physical act of moving things into pleasing places and disposing of garbage mimics the mental process that occurs in my unconscious mind, and leaves me a with a feeling of accomplishment, and more at peace with my situation.

It is at this point when I take a walk and/or meditate (yes you CAN meditate while walking 🙂 ), or sit down to create a to-do list, or call a friend, or respond to pending emails … but not until I’ve used the physical act of refreshing my environment or contributing to the welfare of the group. These acts are what provide me with the ability to focus on what’s important while I meditate – to be mindful of everything and everyone around me, and to reestablish my connection with what is real instead of what I’ve created as a crisis in my head.

Another benefit to my method of un-madness is that I frequently find something that makes me smile … something that makes me genuinely happy while I am doing my straightening up thing. Just last week, while cleaning out the cabinet above my desk I found 4 mechanical pencils that I had completely forgotten about. I thought that I was out, and ordered 12 more, but just knowing that I hadn’t lost all of the original 12 made me smile. I was also happy because they reminded me of my friend who recently passed away, and that she had ordered them for me originally, and how she always seem to know exactly the right thing to say, and remembering what a wonderful person she was makes me smile.

I also found my Montmorillonite clay that I lost track of after returning from 6 weeks of recovery after surgery, and now I have that to take again daily, as well as enough 0.9 mm mechanical pencils to last for three or four years 😀

So, you may be asking yourself what the point of all of this. One reason that I am sharing my tools for recovering from anxiety, anger, distress, panic, feelings of low self-worth or self-esteem or similar states is to help you learn, right along with me, how to cope. You deserve to be happy – to have happy thoughts and things to smile about just as much as the next person … just as much as I do! I also read a lot of articles and studies on stress, anxiety, depression, ADHD and women in the workplace, and related topics because I am always looking for ways to improve and to recover from anxiety attacks faster.

While going for a walk may help some people, it just gives me idle time alone to stew about whatever is bothering me, and the same is true for meditation … I find it extremely difficult to meditate when I am beyond a certain emotionally charged threshold until I move myself into a better frame of mind in advance.

Meditation, however, is the final key to the recovery for me, and so it has become important – almost imperative – to me to get to an emotional level where I can meditate as quickly as possible after distressing incidents. Meditation has enabled me to decrease the time required for me to move on and accept things as they are or to accept that I was blowing something out of proportion and get on with my life.

It has been this lifelong struggle to combat these issues, to find peace within, to learn how to combat feelings of anxiety and depression that have brought me to where I am right now … writing this blog post, working on a PhD in Performance Psychology, and working to become the best person I can be while sharing the means, methods, and madness with you 🙂

I wrote a short guided meditation that I will share tomorrow, and if I get some good feedback, then maybe I’ll record it and post that as well. Guided meditation is one of the focuses of my dissertation, and I would love for you to help me work on developing them for my research!

Until then …

Wallpaper can be found at