A Sleep Solution

If you only knew how much I love my digital watch, you’d laugh at me. It has five alarms, a stop watch, tells the time in 12 time zones, and has a countdown timer.

I have all five alarms set for something.

  • 9:55 p.m. – time to start my bedtime routine
  • 6:55 a.m. – time to get the kids up for school/weekend wake-up time
  • 7:40 a.m. – time to leave for work
  • 10:45 a.m. – time for mid morning snack/MCT oil
  • 5:15 a.m. – M-F wake-up time (this can vary based on the next thing)

But the thing I’m using the most is the countdown timer. When I boil eggs, I bring the water to a boil and as soon as the water boils, I cover the pot and boil the eggs for 9-minutes. When I put something in the washer, I set the timer for 28-minutes, because it will remind me the load is done. I set it for 20-minutes when I have clothes in the dryer.

What does any of this have to do with a good night’s sleep?

Here goes my latest, craziest “hack”. I used to set an alarm for the time I wanted to wake up but now instead, I set my countdown-timer for the amount of hours and minutes I want to sleep. The goal is always 7 hours. So if I go to bed at 11:00 p.m., I could set my alarm for 6 o’clock, right? Sure. If I didn’t have a countdown-timer. Duh. For the past three nights, at the moment I stop reading or decide it’s lights out and time for some R.E.M., I calculate how many hours I need and start the timer.

Brilliant, right?

Last night, I went to bed at 11:15 and was light’s out at 11:30 and determined that 6.75 hours of sleep would mean I wake at 6:15 a.m., giving me enough time for a short walk with the dog (it was zero-degrees out) which gets me back home in time for a 6:40 a.m. shower (I had subtracted out shaving time …I didn’t shave today).

So, right before bed I drank my orange juice with Green Vibrance and Macha powder (yuck), took 100 MG of Magnesium, and a half a banana, went to bed and because I was confident in the countdown-timer, the next thing I knew, my watch was signalling I’d successfully slept 6.75 hours.

Maybe it’s a mental thing, but there’s a different mindset when I lay my head down knowing I’ll sleep 6.75 hours rather than setting an alarm for an arbitrary time and hoping I get all the sleep I want.

Why does this work?

Your brain anticipates time and events in a linear way and think about when you know you have an appointment or date that starts at a specific time. As your “2 o’clock” approaches, it’s natural to keep checking the time. “Oh, it’s 12 o’clock. I have to leave at 1:45.” Later. Oh, it’s 1:05, I have 35-minutes until I have to leave.” Then, later, “oh, look at that, I have 5-minutes until I have to leave for my 2 o’clock.”

Your brain doesn’t stop thinking about the appointment. Now, I set alarms on my watch for 12:50 p.m., then 1:30 p.m., then 1:40 p.m. so I don’t have to keep checking and I’ll leave right on time at 1:45 p.m. Better still is countdown timers. If it’s 12 o’clock and I know I have to leave at 1:45, I can set my countdown-timer for 90-minutes so it alerts me at 1:30 p.m. Then I can quick set a 10-minute timer and when that alerts me, I’m out the door. And if I happen to check my watch, at any point, I can see exactly how long I have, versus doing some quick reverse math.

Does it make me sound crazy? When you’re anticipating a vacation, how do you track it? You tell yourself, “four more days,” and then, “two more days.” You don’t look at the date on the calendar and say, hey, it’s the 20th of December and I leave on the 23rd of December . . . no. You just know there are three days until you leave. Or 1 week until your birthday. Or 3 weeks until Star War Rogue One is out in theaters.

This “countdown” instead of “setting an alarm” at bedtime can trick your psyche and you can approach the amount of hours and minutes you want to sleep like you’re looking forward to something.

It works. It changes your mindset before you sleep and when you wake up in the middle of the night.

Try it, won’t you?


Obsessed with My Lawn, But I Come By It Naturally

I’ll bet, like every father, my Dad occasionally sits around wondering, “I wonder if I made an impression on my children and taught them something?”

Well, Dad, rest assured, you did. Especially when it comes to my lawn. My Dad always had the best lawn on the block. Period. And he seemed to have it effortlessly. He didn’t pay for a sprinkler system. He mowed it himself. He watered it with a oscillating sprinkler. He didn’t hire a service to fertilize and treat his lawn. But it was perfect. He plucked dandelions by hand.

His most amazing feat happened when we moved to a new house in the summer of 1988. Most everyone in the neighborhood had sod delivered and installed. Insta-lawn. Lawn in a day. And then they ran their in-ground sprinklers to make sure it took. My Dad? He planted seed. Not spray-on seed like many more of the new builds used. Nope. Grass seed that he spread by hand. He was patient. And disciplined. He watered. He overseeded. He mowed and trimmed. Overseeded some more. Fertilized four times a year.

It was an awesome lawn.

Now, here I am, almost 30 years later and I obsess about my lawn. It’s my pride an joy. I mow it myself. I fertilize it myself. I pull weeds by hand. I spot spray others. And now I’m remaking my backyard to be a grown-up/teen friendly yard and it required me to get rid of my sandbox, a play structure, and we had to take down a dead pine. I found some bricks to build a fire pit, but what I’m most excited about? I’m most excited about the sandbox area and the areas that surrounded the pine and how I’m planting grass seed and how, by next spring, it will be like a carpet around my firepit.

This either makes me borderline insane, or it shows I have a hobby, albeit unorthodox and not quite golfing or running. I like my lawn and take pride in it. My wife bought an outdoor couch at a garage sale. I built a fire pit. We’re rethinking and redesigning our garden path (which mostly became a weed-ville). And as Droopy says, ya know what? I’m happy.

To my blog readers – I’ll keep ya updated.

Oh, and I’m obsessed with this guy, The Lawn Care Nut.

Corporate Shill

635743814308649228-IMG-4284Last year, the company I work for (and where I’ve worked for more than a decade) changed it’s name from Clear Channel to iHeartMEDIA. They did this because (my words) the coolest part of our company was the iHeartRADIO app and Clear Channel was tied to an old-radio term and had some P.R. issues. iHeart, on the otherhand, is cool because it has an “i” in front of it, which is the coolest letter that goes in front of things since the letter “e” used to go in front of everything. Like …what’s cooler? Reading an iBook or an eBook? I think we all know the answer.

Same with “radio.” Put an “i” in front of it and …whoa …cool. Oh, and I could’ve worn a Clear Channel sweatshirt or hat every day and nobody would’ve said anything about it. But now, when I wear my iHeart zip-up microfiber sweatshirt or hat (with a tightly rolled brim), teenagers and baristas notice and say “cool hat.”

Anyway, this article (by Jefferson Graham) and video (below) appeared in the The USA Today. I thought it was pretty cool. Yes. I work for the company. But I kinda like the stuff the company is doing and think regular old radio ain’t so “old” and is actually pretty cool.  And it’s not even an “argument” that I’m trying to say one thing is better than another …it’s just saying, just because something is mostly the same today as it was yesterday and ten years ago, it doesn’t make it dying or dead.

Basically …keep listening to FM (and AM radio) and use a radio or your smartphone and don’t be ashamed.

Advertising Myself (Brand Me)

The picture says it all, so there’s no real reason to support it with a blog entry, right? Well, this is a blog, so …ya know. I’m gonna blog something.

The picture is my “why?”

Why do you waste time blogging, Don?

Why do you love Twitter so much, Don?

What good is all this extra writing doing for you? What’s this about you ghost-writing?

What if you spent the time you spend blogging and engaging on social media just working?

I guess I’ll answer your question with a question? Do you have hobbies? Do you golf? Do you scrapbook? Do you gamble or play fantasy football?

Without a creative outlet, personally, I’d be less than what I am. It’s a hobby. And I like to think, maybe someday, the stars will align and – boom, poof – I’ll have 10,000 readers and a publisher will all but beg me to write a book. Or that won’t happen, and I’ll just have a buncha blog entries that explained who I was and what led to who I am.

I am a radio advertising professional. I love radio as a medium. I am a writer. I am a ghost-writer. I am a blogger. I am a part time social media consultant. I am a content creator.

I enjoy it. And, something happened along the way – I learned to market myself. It’s made me a better version of the person I try to be in my day job.

It’s about passion. Want to know my passions? Want to know what excites me in the middle of the night and gets me out of bed and running to my iPad to jot down a “great idea for a blog entry?”

I want to know what does that for you.

Follow me at @donkowalewski.

The Cold Call

Part of my job is the “cold call.” The idea of cold-calling, for many (including me), can sometimes create anxiety and fear and nervousness. We consult our cold-call tactics and techniques. We lock ourselves in a small conference room and pull the shades down. We pick up the phone as if our life depends on the next 30-seconds and it’s do or die. Either I call, establish a rapport, charm this person, ask for and appointment on such and such a day at such and such a time “if that works for them.” We’ll drive into work saying, “today is the day I’m going to make cold calls” and then we get to the office and start doing anything and everything that seems more important just to avoid that uncomfortable feeling of being hung up on, ignored, or being told, “no.”

I’ve read every book (and will read many more) I could find on cold-calling and selling and overcoming objections and it’s all useful. I’ve sat through courses and listened to webinars and watched educational videos provided by my companies over the years. I’m still looking for that magic formula that will allow me to pick up the phone, get an appointment every time, go to that appointment and show someone great ideas, and walk away with a handshake and signed agreement.

I’ll look for the rest of my life and I’m pretty sure that won’t happen.

I’m also pretty sure the “cold call” will always be what it is. Cold. Dangerous. Intrusive. And the person on the receiving end of a cold call will never actually want your call. Maybe someday they’ll want to talk to you, but not on a random Tuesday, out of the blue, when they were about to do something on their own to-do list so they can get out of work and get home and to a childs little league game.

I also don’t think business owners and decision makers take courses and read books on “how-to squash the cold-caller.” I’ve just searched Amazon …they don’t have a book for business owners on the subject. The business-owner/decision-maker is just as uncomfortable with the cold-call as the person making the cold-call.

So… the thought for today. Why not just refer to it as a “phone call.” Nothing more. Do we have to make such a big deal out of it? I have a thing or do a thing that might be something you need done or need to do. Let’s just talk about it. If someone called me today and said, “we want to sell you a lawn service for the year,” …I’d say ‘no’ I’m not interested. But if they said, “can I come to your house today and mow your lawn?” …I’d actually say ‘yes’. See, I like mowing my lawn for many reasons. I just do. Call me crazy. But this week has been busy, and it’s rained, and if someone could get to my house today and mow it, I’d happily pay.

See? I’m not never (double negative) going to say ‘yes’, but it depends on my mood and when you call.

Just call. See what happens. It might just be that simple.

Follow me @donkowalewski.

Things I Do: Persist

“Commitment is doing what you said you would long after the mood you said it in has left you”  Don Mincher

Do I? Is it bragging? I can only say that after 16 years in sales and somehow managing to feed my family and (barely) make my house and car payments, I guess I must have at least a little persistence. I could probably have more. I could probably be more focused and make that extra phone call at the end of the day. Stuff like that.

I wonder what percentage of sales people read motivational quotes once. How many read them daily? How many read them, then make an action plan, and figure out how it applies to their clients, prospects, and leads? For example, look at the chart below. Let’s pretend everything on that chart is true. If these percentages are true,

Why do sales people read so many books? Sales is always changing, right? Or is it? I argue that if you find a really, really great and motivating book about sales or creativity or …well, really, any great book written on any great topic of interest to you …if you read it over and over again, it will have the same results as reading a new book on a topic every month.

Luckily for the next “expert” or “guru”, most of us keep chasing sales and keep chasing this idea that sales and closing sales will eventually become easy …if we just learn the right thing or read the right book.

There is no magic bullet, but this is close.