Solve most of your problems by solving just one

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This month I broke my record for the most traffic to my blog. Ever. About 375,000 page views. Hooray. Ironically, I spent most of the month garnering high-traffic by writing about what a hard time I’ve been having. So I want to take a day to pat myself on the back, because if I only write about the stuff I struggle with, I start to feel one-dimensional here. Or three-dimensional, but a 3-D mess.

Anyway, for most of last year, I struggled to blog regularly and run the company and be around for my kids. Finally, this month, when the company has been more difficult than ever, I managed to start blogging four times a week again. This is the result of trying a new time management trick every week, for months and months, until I figured out a system for getting the blog posts done. What finally worked was examining the other problems I was having in my life, and solving those first.

That shouldn't surprise you. Because the research about problem solving is that if you start targeting any problem in your life, and nail it, all the other problems become easier. There are problem solvers and problem sufferers. And most problems are not unique, so you need to just start tackling them to fall into the first category.

So I started tackling. First, I fixed my company. Instead of stressing that we won’t get funding, we decided to fund ourselves with profits from consulting. We have a consulting business that helps companies attract and retain top young talent. That strategy has allowed us to continue to grow our network of bloggers, which is now about 700.

Next problem—yelling at my kids. I’m sure other people have this problem, but no one is blogging about it. Of course no one is, because it feels so crappy to admit. And my kids are young, so when I yell, it is really heartbreaking to see the reaction on the kids’ faces, especially my three-year-old. But this month I’ve been able to stop. It’s an especially big accomplishment because I’m sure my yelling is actually me taking my stress out on them, and there's been plenty of stress on me lately.

Once I stopped yelling, I felt more able to tackle the blogging problem. So now I’m on a roll. And I’m thinking about the next problem to solve. I think it’s going to be listening. I’m a terrible listener. I’ve been noticing myself not listening. And I've been noticing that it’s painful to have to wait until someone finishes a sentence. To make sure this problem should be next, I asked Ryan Healy, “Do you notice that I go on and on talking way after someone has lost interest?” He looked at me, to make sure I was really asking, and then he said, “Yeah.”

So I’m happy to have a day to toot my own horn. It’s been a month of success in ways that have surprised and pleased me. And I'm on a roll. Hooray.

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  1. Irina I
    Irina I says:

    Congratulations! That sounds really great!

    I know what you mean about not being able to listen to people. I had that a lot over the summer, where I just felt like I had so much to say that I could not wait to get my turn. After I got a lot of people to listen to me, I now feel calmer and therefore listen to them. And it turns out, listening to other people is actually fascinating!

  2. Doctor Who
    Doctor Who says:

    Don’t mean to rain on your parade yet….
    Racing thoughts, not being able to listen to people. You got people to listen to you or they took the easy way out?
    Now you feel calmer.. hmm. Let’s look at the seasons involved. The sunny seasons promote racing thoughts,or from our recent past the need to gather stores for winter which takes more energy and also to grow the fetus for survivial. Now comes less sun-time to relax the mind,gain much needed perspective and to rest the brain for the next go around. Our brains are still wired for survival. It’s called mania, it’s there for a reason and different levels of mania are needed for survival.

  3. Taylor at Household Management 101
    Taylor at Household Management 101 says:

    Glad to here you are on a roll. The technique I use to try to solve my problems, and get into a type of problem solving snowball, if you will, is the technique of Kaizen, or small steps. Kaizen keeps my brain from freaking out because there is too much chnage too fast, and also makes me focus on just one change at a time so that success is more likely.

  4. Esther Brady Crawford
    Esther Brady Crawford says:

    It’s tough to own up to personal shortcomings or failures. Thanks for your post – it’s a reminder to me to do the same.

  5. Alora
    Alora says:

    Congrats on the solution for the business. Diversification is usually a comforting risk mitigator, especially after the roller coaster you’ve been on. Good luck with that.

    And listening is hard. I think that ENTJ’s are probably some of the least naturally talented listeners of all, because we like to fix things, are often convinced that we are right, and we are not always as sensitive to other people’s feelings as we probably should be.

    A great technique that I try to focus on when I catch myself not listening the way I feel I should be, is to repeat the last word the person says in my head before I start talking. It forces me to pay attention and process through their comments before I launch into whatever life-changing, earth-shattering advice I’m going to give them.

    It also has the added benefit of giving me one more second to reconsider what I’m going to say. There are times when this has stopped me from inserting my foot into my mouth.

  6. Jenny
    Jenny says:

    Believe it or not, there are a lot of us who do talk about yelling at our kids, and the troubles and tribulations of trying to raise a family. There’s an entire generation of us, I think they call us Mommybloggers, doing it out loud, and on the internet for the world to read, despite baring ourselves to the criticisms of our parenting skills, or lack thereof. But we are doing it for the community, and because we know someone else is out there reading and looking for a little help. Unlike my parent’s generation, where you didn’t talk about any of it and you sure as hell didn’t talk about yelling at your kids or going to therapy, us Gen Xers and Gen Yers have already figured out that community is the key. And we saw it, and it was good.

  7. Bettie
    Bettie says:

    What are you paying these 700 bloggers? $.10 a post? Why so many bloggers saying nothing much? You’re the main event, as your blog traffic shows.

    And you didn’t “fix” your company, you just shifted stuff around–did you get any infusions of investment money? No, but you’re probably telling the bloggers that you’ll make it up to them.

    Mommybloggers, like, oh I dunno, Heather Armstrong? blog about yelling at their kids all the time. Nothing new there.

    But this is telling
    Also, it was important to notice that I can control it, because I don’t scream at the kids in front of lots of people.
    Because you know it’s wrong? Or because you’re worried about what others will think of you? If that’s the reason, it’s not because you’re worried about yelling at the kids, you’re worried about getting caught yelling.

    I like your writing, but I often think that you’re playing at candor and honesty, and letting the reader catch you being naughty and difficult in an adorable way. The truth might be rather a lot darker than you’re willing to admit, here or IRL.

    And listening requires more than just keeping your mouth shut until it’s your turn to talk. If you’re rehearsing what you’re going to say next, that’s not listening.

  8. Andy
    Andy says:

    What a great blog you have here and congratulations on the milestone. This was a month of milestones for my blog, albiet on a smaller scale.

    I happened upon your blog and ended up spending my entire lunch break reading about your story. Interesting, sad and most notably finishes with a positve attitude.


  9. Laurie | Your Ill-fitting Overcoat
    Laurie | Your Ill-fitting Overcoat says:

    To make sure this problem should be next, I asked Ryan Healy, “Do you notice that I go on and on talking way after someone has lost interest?” He looked at me, to make sure I was really asking, and then he said, “Yeah.”

    Wow. I know a LOT of people with this problem (I might be one of them). Kudos to you for actually acknowledging it. It’s a quirk that’s caused me to reject people as roommates, romantic partners, and friends and yet it’s something people really have trouble admitting about themselves.

  10. Tracey
    Tracey says:

    I have to second the recommendation for 1-2-3 Magic. I used to have the problem of yelling at the kids. The problem was that yelling at them made me MORE upset and angry and that led to even more yelling. I started feeling they were “making” me angry.

    So with the 1-2-3 thing, when you reach 3, it’s just them in their cool-off period and you don’t get to yell or scold. They know what they did to get there, and you don’t have to rile yourself up explaining what they already know, making yourself angrier in the process. If they really don’t know, they can ask you later. That only happened once or twice if I remember.

    Anyway, I used it for years and it really did break down that habit. It’s a quick read – give it a shot.

  11. MDTaz
    MDTaz says:

    Thanks as always for a provocative post.

    As much as we try to contain those yelling-at-the-kids outbursts, it’s impossible to control them all. Some days there’s too much pressure. It’s real life stuff, and I believe our kids can handle it, if we handle it. It’s not always the fall, but the recovery that counts, when we can teach them a bit about their own feelings, and how to express them rather than suppress them. I’m not saying yell all you want, I’m just saying when it happens, we can process it with the kids afterward. They’ll learn from that, too.

  12. WmRios
    WmRios says:

    What is Asperger’s Syndrome??
    On to my reply,
    You have a really cute nose.
    Go to your nearest Dollar Tree in town.
    Pick up the book called The Passion Test.
    Read it and have a wonderful year long celebration of your birthday.

    Warm regards,
    (two fellas in a ship)

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