Friday, December 5, 2014

5 Reasons That I Love Jeep

My 2013 Jeep Compass
by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

I love cars. I love them so much that up until a few years ago I would trade to get a new one every two years. I love discovering the variety and experiencing the "feel" of driving different models. Of late, my favorite vehicle is a Jeep -- a Compass to be exact. Here are five reasons that I love Jeep.

  1.  Jeeps are cool. Call it a mid-life crisis or whatever you want, but I feel youthful when I'm driving my Jeep. It's stylish, and the model that I drive could even be termed as elegant, if you stretch the definition.
  2. Jeeps are fun. The way that my Jeep handles is what I'd call 'perky.' It has all kinds of hidden storage space and all types of fun features, such as in-car speakers for your phone, an efficient navigation system, and you can even choose what mode you want to drive it in, e.g., automatic transmission or a pseudo-manual transmission where you can drive it as if it has a stick.
  3. Jeeps come in a variety of models. There's a Jeep out there for every personality type. Whether you're outdoorsy, practical, elegant, or suburban -- there's a Jeep model that will fit your lifestyle perfectly.
  4. Jeeps allow you to sit up high. I'm sold on the SUV experience of being able to sit up high. It just offers better visibility in my opinion and makes it easier for me to process transactions when I pull up to ATMs, drive-thru windows, and other kiosk-type scenarios where I don't have to get out of the car to make a transaction.
  5. Jeeps are practical. With my Jeep bad weather isn't a major limiting factor when I need to be mobile. Because of the drive system and the built-in safety features I can continue to navigate with ease under almost any circumstance.

If you're in the market for a new vehicle and have a preference for an SUV-type driving experience, please consider the Jeep brand. Millions have purchased them over the years and have remained loyal, so much so that you can find a number of social networking events geared towards Jeep enthusiasts.

For more information on the different Jeep models that are available, be sure to visit the company website listed in the sources section below.

Happy driving!

Personal experience

*Photo: (c) Angela Lane Woods

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 06/21/2014 (no longer published there).]

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Work at Home Tip: How to Maintain Productivity When Working From Home

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

I've been blessed to work from home almost continually since 1989. Over the years, I've tried a couple of times to go back into office work, but it just didn't suit my nature. Not having to spend eight hours a day on a 'cube farm' is a wonderful thing, and I'd like to share my tips on how to maintain productivity when working from home.

Maintain a daily in-office routine

By this I mean get up, wash up, and get dressed as if you're going to work (casual business attire is fine), and follow the standard business hours that you've set for yourself. If you've decided that your workday is from 8:00am until 4:30pm, then with only few exceptions find yourself working during that timeframe. Keep a space reserved in the house that is to be used exclusively as your office.

Minimize distractions

The truth of the matter is that most folks who have never worked from home don't really understand the dynamic. They think that you can just up and play, run errands, and talk on the phone without restriction and without consequence. You and I know though that the set-in-stone formula for working at home is time=money. It's up to you to set boundaries about when people can call, come by, and ask you for favors.

Create a system for meal preparation

Maintaining high productivity hinges a lot on how you feel, and how you feel depends to a great degree on what you eat. Get a system in place where you can prepare meals and snacks in advance so that when hunger hits you aren't tempted to hit the fast food joints. Place an emphasis on lean meats, fresh fruits and vegetables, filtered water, and healthy snacks.

Get at least 30 minutes of exercise in every day

As above, your productivity success is affected to a great degree by how you feel, and exercise can help with that. It doesn't have to be a complicated routine; you don't even have to go to the gym. Try walking around your neighborhood for 30 minutes or working out to an exercise DVD. Just get moving! Your choice of exercise is only limited by your creativity.

Use productivity systems

Use little productivity techniques, like the Pomodoro system. This is where you use a simple kitchen timer and work and then take rest breaks in intervals. There are also apps that you can install on your computer to block websites that can kill your productivity.

Take a lunch break every day

It's important that you give your mind a rest during the course of your workday. Plan a lunch break that's not only long enough to have time to eat, but use it to return phone calls and emails, take care of simple household issues that may arise during the day, and even run a short errand or two.

All of the above tips taken alone may seem very simple, but when combined they make for a day that is very productive, that minimizes stress, and that will leave you with a sense of accomplishment. Incorporate a few of them, or even all of them, into your own workday and come back and let me know how it works out for you.

Happy working!

Personal experience

*Photo: David Svensson via Flickr

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 06/22/2014 (no longer published there).]

Monday, December 1, 2014

Why I've Decided to Kill the Cable and Turn Off the TV

by A.L. Woods, Staff Writer

Over the last few years a quiet movement has been taking place among deep thinkers and those who value personal development: they're deciding to minimize, or cut out entirely, TV viewing. Even before I found, which presents many excellent arguments for doing so, I'd already decided that minimizing my TV viewing would be a good personal choice for me. Here's why I've decided to kill the cable and turn off the TV.

Passive entertainment

TV watching is passive entertainment. What this means from the standpoint of brain activity is that your brain isn't being challenged to function at a level that stimulates creative thought and productivity. In fact, the effect is just the opposite. Your thought processes atrophy a little bit each time you engage in TV viewing. Your brain just plain gets lazy.

No real quality programming

In my opinion, the TV shows of today just don't have real value for the most part. Violence and moral standards that were deemed unacceptable by society in the past are now promoted nonstop on TV. Reality shows present unrealistic portrayals of life and behaviors that if carried out on the streets would result in jail and/or prison time.

Productivity sink

Valuable time that could be spent working on life goals, nurturing relationships, and participating in activities for the betterment of society is wasted parked in front of the "boob tube."

Less reading

Reading is the most effective pathway to personal growth and development, creation of a universal worldview, and independent thinking and problem solving. There's no need to quote statistics to understand that the more time one engages in TV viewing, the less time one generally spends reading. Many young students frequently ask, why should I read a book when I can watch the movie?

Added household expense

I pay approximately $75/month for my cable bill, and I know other folks who have bills even higher than this. Despite this added household expense I find myself surfing, surfing, and surfing trying to find something appealing on TV or a quality show or movie that I haven't seen before. The thought hit me one day that if I survived years of my life without cable TV, why is it so essential that I have it now?

This, of course, is America - the land of the free - and you have the right to do whatever you want to do in your own home. I encourage you though to give some focused thought to the points presented above, even take some time to visit the website that I've listed in the sources section below. In my own case, I've achieved a 50% (no exaggeration) increase in my personal productivity and creativity since minimizing my TV viewing.

What types of gains could you make if you made the decision to turn off the TV?

Personal experience

*Photo: Regan Walsh via Flickr

[Originally published on Yahoo! Voices on 06/22/2014 (no longer published there).]