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Life Inside a Chaos Bubble

The first Monday of each month, I dust off a favorite post from the Bennis Inc Blog archives and give you another chance to enjoy the wit and wisdom that’s been shared. Enjoy this month’s treasure – and if it inspires you – be sure to share it with family and friends!


Life Inside a Chaos BubbleRecently I used the term the “Chaos Bubble.” It happened during a conversation in which I was describing how some people whose time is in such high demand actually become immune to the whirlwind of chaos surrounding them. So to properly define this new concept, a Chaos Bubble occurs when the heavy demands of your work and hectic lifestyle create a protective layer to the outside world and insulate you from the chaos.

I’m of course basing this off of several people I have met who have the “luxury” of experiencing this Chaos Bubble phenomenon. These people are in such high demand that their email and voice mail are consistently filled to capacity. Not a single new message can be received. Their phone rings but almost always results in a missed call due to a dead phone battery or because they’re in and out of meetings all day. Their secretaries or personal assistants are the gatekeepers. If you need input or an approval, your best bet is to get the message to their #2 or risk it bouncing off this Chaos Bubble never to be seen, heard or so much as acknowledged.

To reach such a threshold where chaos becomes a protection and no longer a threat, first takes going through many uncomfortable, and at times unbearable, levels of chaos. It’s fairly comparable to being in the eye or a hurricane. Outside of this inner circle a fierce storm of mayhem is constantly brewing, but inside all you experience is an eerie silence and false sense of calm. To get inside this eye, you may spend years being whipped by the winds and swirled around to the point of not knowing which end is up, but once you make it to the inner circle, the chaos spins around you—not within you.

For the most part, chaos is an unwelcome and heavily avoided part of life. But when the dinging and ringing of emails, iPads, cell phones and calendar reminders reach a high enough volume, they have the ability to create a white noise that cancels out their sounds all together—leaving just you and your thoughts inside your own Chaos Bubble.

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Posted by on August 1, 2016 in Life

 

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Life Inside a Chaos Bubble

Chaos BubbleRecently I used the term the “Chaos Bubble.” It happened during a conversation in which I was describing how some people whose time is in such high demand actually become immune to the whirlwind of chaos surrounding them. So to properly define this new concept, a Chaos Bubble occurs when the heavy demands of your work and hectic lifestyle create a protective layer to the outside world and insulate you from the chaos.

I’m of course basing this off of several people I have met who have the “luxury” of experiencing this Chaos Bubble phenomenon. These people are in such high demand that their email and voice mail are consistently filled to capacity. Not a single new message can be received. Their phone rings but almost always results in a missed call due to a dead phone battery or because they’re in and out of meetings all day. Their secretaries or personal assistants are the gatekeepers. If you need input or an approval, your best bet is to get the message to their #2 or risk it bouncing off this Chaos Bubble never to be seen, heard or so much as acknowledged.

To reach such a threshold where chaos becomes a protection and no longer a threat, first takes going through many uncomfortable, and at times unbearable, levels of chaos. It’s fairly comparable to being in the eye or a hurricane. Outside of this inner circle a fierce storm of mayhem is constantly brewing, but inside all you experience is an eerie silence and false sense of calm. To get inside this eye, you may spend years being whipped by the winds and swirled around to the point of not knowing which end is up, but once you make it to the inner circle, the chaos spins around you—not within you.

For the most part, chaos is an unwelcome and heavily avoided part of life. But when the dinging and ringing of emails, iPads, cell phones and calendar reminders reach a high enough volume, they have the ability to create a white noise that cancels out their sounds all together—leaving just you and your thoughts inside your own Chaos Bubble.

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2011 in Life

 

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The Home Office: A guide to working from home and keeping your sanity

Proof of the overly affectionate cat

Before recently moving into a bigger apartment that allows me actual dedicated office space—Okay, so it may not be a corner office but at least I have a window—I began my business working from a 660 square-foot apartment with no air conditioning and an overly affectionate cat. My generous neighbor, Steven, allowed me to use his internet, but this required me to sit on the far corner of my bed to get any sort of signal. The first two months of opening my business, I spent quite literally working from a bed in an 86 degree apartment with a fuzzy gray cat as my only semi-human interaction most days. If Forbes Magazine featured a list for the career field of bedridden sweaty cat-ladies, I was sure to rank at least in the top 10 by this fall.

Luckily I found sanity working from home, abiding by a few standards I put in place for myself.

Shower and put on real pants every day—This may sound obvious, but believe me, when you first start working from home it’s easy to jump right on the computer and not bother getting ready like you were going into an office. While I may not do my make-up or wear skirts and dresses like I did at my old desk job, I still feel so much more professional and business-minded when I’m cleaned up and presentable.

Try and schedule a different appointment each day—This can range from a casual meeting over coffee, a conference call or a professional pitch to a client, but I give myself a reason to get out of the house and interact with the world each day. It also helps to provide more structure and gets me moving whether I feel like it or not.

Set regular work hours and stick to them—Working from home allows me a great deal of flexibility. I can run an errand, go for a walk or grab groceries whenever I choose and then work late into the night or early in the morning to make up for it. However, I’ve found this to be a trap and before I knew it, my evenings and weekends were non-existent. It’s much better to set regular work hours (it’s doesn’t have to be 9-5, but whatever works for you) and then stick to them. By structuring my day like a “real job” I reinforced the mindset that working from home is indeed a very real job. It also provides me with a predictable schedule that allows for me to be social with friends and family who are only able to do things during the evenings and weekends.

And during these work hours, only focus on business work—Working from home makes it tempting to do laundry, clean and organize (not to mention nap) when I should be focusing on client work. While a little multi-tasking can be productive, it’s also a great way to procrastinate. Throwing in a load of towels is easier than sitting down and writing that media pitch I’ve been putting off—so when I know I’m using these household chores to put off my real work, I nip it in the bud, close my office door and focus solely on Bennis Inc until my work hours are over.

Working from home certainly has its benefits—flexibility, no overhead cost for office space, comfort and freedom. But it takes discipline and dedication to make it successful and stay sane in the process. If there’s any other “home-workers” out there, I’d love to hear your own tips and tricks for how you made it work for you!

My cat, Pinot tried, but only made organization and sanity lost causes in my old apartment.

My cat, Pinot tried, but only made organization and sanity lost causes in my old apartment.

Now in my new home office, and still staying true to my work standards, Bennis Inc is running much smoother.

Now in my new home office, and still staying true to my work standards, Bennis Inc is running much smoother.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2011 in Business & Success

 

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The “Unhappy” Trend

It seems as though we are moving toward an “Unhappy” trend. By this, I mean we seem to live in a day and age where it is more acceptable to be bored, tired and miserable than to be publicly happy and content.

I remember so often asking someone–a co-worker, a friend, the cashier at Starbucks–how they’re doing and getting the same response: Oh, hanging in there…Good, until my alarm went off this morning…Minus being at work? Great! And when it wasn’t a gripe or complaint, it was usually a generic and apathetic response like: Good, thanks…Oh, I’m okay…Doing well. For many of my friends who would give me such answers, I knew enough about their lives to know they had plenty of great things taking place that they could share and talk about. Instead, they chose to settle for a sarcastic or emotionless answer, but for what purpose? To make those that are less happy feel more comfortable?

What I’ve come to realize is that it’s hard to be publicly happy and not have it taken the wrong way. Too often genuine happiness is perceived as bragging, boasting or being fake. Sometimes it is even seen as offensive or intimidating to someone who isn’t as happy as you are.

I have a lot of things in my life for which I’m grateful and happy. I started my own business to pursue my passion, have many meaningful and fulfilling relationships and have a flexible schedule that allows me to travel as I please. Yes, life is good. But these tokens of happiness have to be earned each and every day with hard work, dedication and sacrifice. I’m not kidding–those motivational posters couldn’t have summarized it better. What’s disappointing is that even after all of that hard work to create my happiness, I often feel guilty when I go to share this happiness with others. I feel like it’s easier to gripe and complain about little things, even the weather, just to make myself more likable to those who don’t allow themselves to be as happy.

The “Unhappy” trend is one I look forward to seeing pass. We need to get back into the trend of not just supporting each others’ happiness, but working to preserve and grow it. It’s as simple as the next time today you’re asked how you’re doing–respond with a genuine and positive answer about something good in your life.

I know we all have at least one thing in our lives right now that we can be happy about. Even if it’s just the 5 free minutes you had to surf Word Press and find this blog!

Some of My Pieces of Happiness

My cat and companion, Pinot who keeps working from home interesting.

My cat and companion, Pinot who keeps working from home interesting.

The flexibile work schedule that allows me to travel as I please.

The flexibile work schedule that allows me to travel as I please.

A summer full of sweet and simple memories

A summer full of sweet and simple memories

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2011 in Life

 

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Technology: Bridging the Gap or Building the Wall?

My day begins with technology. The first sound I awake to in the morning is the ringing of my phone alarm which I immediately grab—but not just to shut it off. Instead, I proceed to check the weather and then my email all while still lying in bed. If I head for a run, I use the RunKeeper app on my phone to map my miles and track my pace along with my iPod to ensure there’s not a moment of silence or serenity from the time my feet hit the ground.

Before 8am I feel so connected to the world, but yet I haven’t had one single face-to-face interaction.

Let’s rewind this scenario and this time take away technology. I might wake up and have a cup of coffee with my boyfriend instead of checking my email. Without a phone or an iPod to keep me busy, I might choose to walk with a friend and catch up on each other’s life. Without the technological noise, I’m now available to engage a neighbor in a morning hello and actually get to know the special people who live right around me.

So what role does technology play in our lives? It’s certainly the Great Connector, but just like any other tool—it’s all about how you use it. I can use smart phones and social media to stay connected with people all over the world; for this reason, technology bridges the gap. But the moment I refuse to “disconnect” long enough to interact with the world right around me, technology instead begins to build a wall—a fortress, really.

At one point or another, we have all found ourselves in at least one of these scenarios: G-Chatting with a friend sitting two computers away. Sitting at a restaurant where everyone at the table is looking at their phone, texting. Thinking the person in the bathroom stall next to you is engaging you in conversation, when really they’re on their phone. Breaking up via phone call, email—maybe even by simply ending the relationship on Facebook. Asking someone for directions only to realize they have an iPod in and didn’t hear a word you said.

These are such trivial examples, but they’re signs that bigger problems are on the horizon. When did we become a society more comfortable Skyping with someone continents and oceans away, but too uncomfortable to talk to the person bagging our groceries?

Technology is one of the greatest tools we will ever possess, but it’s up to us to use it to build bridges not walls.

 
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Posted by on September 22, 2011 in Technology

 

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Making Time to Live

Before I officially took off the training wheels and launched Bennis Public Relations, Inc nearly two months ago, I found my mind often fantasizing about the free and flexible time I might have as my own boss. I could make weekly trips to the farmer’s market, eat lunch on a park bench by the river and become a regular at the city library. I could use the free WiFi from a trendy café and sip lattes while I clicked away on my laptop or take an afternoon cat nap after watching the Price is Right. While some of these visions were both dramatic and unnecessary, I’m disappointed to admit that two months later, my “new boss” hasn’t allowed me much more free time to pursue life’s little slices of happiness to exist all around me.

Harrisburg's McCormick River Front Library

I can’t blame this on my boss, or maybe I can since I am my boss, but in either case I’ve decided to take the opportunity to close my laptop more often and step out into the bustling and beautiful world that exists whether I make time for it or not.

The week before my North Carolina vacation I realized I needed some new beach reading materials and so I stepped inside the Dauphin County Library for the first time since I moved to Harrisburg in December of 2009. While I’m now a proud owner of a shiny red library card, I can’t help but feel a pang of regret for not having done this sooner. The library isn’t big, it’s just one of several branches that the county manages, but it still evoked the same rush of excitement that I felt as a child eying up the rows and rows of colorful treasurers—all for my taking. And so I limited myself to just 5 books which I never read or heard of before but will know intimately, page by page, in just a few weeks.

Now that I’ve experienced the joys (and sorrows) of being a functioning, taxpaying, member of society, I feel that it is my civil duty to make use of all of the free resources this affords me. The County Library is just one. I’ve started a list of all of the other things this area has to offer that I’ve never made time to take advantage of before. So here’s the bucket-list-in-progress that I hope to get through before 2012:

  • Buy my fresh produce from the Farm Show Complex’s Farmer’s Market
  • Complete the ropes course at Ski Roundtop
  • Visit a corn maze, pick pumpkins and drink apple cider
  • Kayak the Susquehanna
  • Visit the Renaissance Festival
  • Ice Skate
  • Go to a Haunted House Tour
  • Read a book by the river
  • And more to come…

If you have any suggestions for fun things to do in Central PA or even just in the autumn season—I’m interested!

 
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Posted by on September 12, 2011 in Life

 

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What I wish My College Professors Would Have Taught Me: Tardiness is Unacceptable

There are some things that can and will never be taught in the classroom. Maybe it’s because those topics are seen as too radical or have been flagged as a lawsuit risk, but truly these are the missing pieces of wisdom that leave many college grads as an incomplete puzzle with still much to figure out in the real world. In the spirit of Back-to-School, this will be a 5-part series exploring the top lessons I wish would have been included in my own college degree. It’s blunt and it’s honest, but it’s sure to be interesting.

Lesson five: Tardiness is Unacceptable

I see this saying everywhere, but it has really stayed with me—

“Opportunity doesn’t go away, it goes to someone else.”

Partially due to this very saying I’ve become a huge stickler for timeliness and I first and foremost apply these standards to myself. Through experiences, both good and bad, I know that not responding to an e-mail, or message of any form, within a reasonable time frame could lose me a potential business opportunity. Applied to

another situation—showing up late to an event not only displays lack of interest, but could cost me key networking opportunities. These facts of life are ones I had to learn on my own, outside the walls of a classroom. While I was in college, it seemed as though time was irrelevant and I don’t just mean by pulling all nighters or staying out ‘til the sun came up.

Far too often I had professors who accepted late papers without even challenging the student to provide a reason. These were the same professors that would let students saunter into class fifteen, twenty, sometimes even forty minutes late carrying lattes in their hand looking anything but rushed, disheveled or apologetic.  They would walk right in front of the professor, mid-lecture, and disrupt the focus of the classroom and make us on-timers wonder why we even bothered setting our alarms if clearly there were no repercussions. So maybe this boils down to a matter of principle and respect—no matter what my underlying issue is with tardiness, I see it as worthy of deeper discussion.

I wish my college professors would have stressed the importance of timeliness, which of course goes hand-in-hand with time management. As students, we would have benefited from learning that boundaries exist and when someone who is in a position of power over us sets such a boundary, we are expected to comply. This would have taught us to be more respectful, responsible and better stewards of our time. Those college years are crucial ones. We are experimenting with both the freedoms and obligations that come with living on our own. While we may be seeking our independence, we still need reminders that we don’t make ALL of our own rules and opportunities are like college co-eds—if you don’t pay them quick enough attention, they’re on to the next person who will.

In case you missed a few “classes”, here’s some reading homework:

Lesson One: Group projects can be completed alone.

Lesson Two: It’s okay to NOT like everyone you work with.

Lesson Three: In the real world, you’re not expected to have every answer.

Lesson Four: It’s almost never about WHAT you know.

 
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Posted by on September 6, 2011 in Wisdom

 

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