“Plan the work, work the plan”

“Plan the work, work the plan” where the wise words of a previous manager. They reminded me of the quote from Ben Franklin: “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” This concept is well cemented in my brain. This is what I do at work everyday, in spite of that I was not applying it to my biggest project: my life. Shouldn’t there be a case to have a life plan? I had gone about my life using a checklist at best or nothing at worst. I was not giving enough time to planning my week, my month, my year, my life. I was planning to fail amidst successful plans at work.
At the end of 2017 I began to apply business principles to my personal life. I came across an advertisement for a planner, and the first words caught my eye: “What do you want to leave behind this year?” The question took me back and really made me pause. I wanted to answer the question quickly and move one, but I couldn’t. The question stayed with me for several weeks. New Year’s Day came and I wrote down my goals as I always did, yet I still couldn’t answer the question. The first week this year I set aside one day to come up with a good answer to the question.
After two days of soul searching, I had an answer and a plan. This year I wanted, above all, for my daughter to have a conscious and memorable baptism. I was also able to create meaningful desires for all the aspects in my life. I wanted to succeed as a husband, father, employee, manager, professional, mentor, disciple of Christ, and human. I was not only enlighten by this experience, but hungry for further introspection, planning, execution, and results. I set apart two hours each week to plan my week, four hours each month to plan the month, and two days each year to plan next year. I planned 2018 by setting goals for each of the roles in my life. I recorded all these goals in a note to be evaluated during each of my monthly planning sessions.
In my four hour monthly planning for January I analyzed which goals needed to be started, advanced, or completed that month. I put specific actions that needed to be taken during that month and the week that needed to happen. Many tasks were full actions others were more vague and required further thought at certain points in the month.  It took me less than four hours to plan the month and I was able to plan the first week. I made sure I understood all the tasks needed to complete the monthly goals. I assigned a specific day in the week when I was going to complete the work. I only assigned work Monday through Thursday to be able to catch up on in-week tasks on Friday.
As of this writing I’ve completed five weeks of planning and execution. I have also done February’s monthly planning. I cannot lie, it felt completely overwhelming the amount of things I needed to do each day. Gone were the days of just working on one or two initiatives. I felt like I was sprinting all the time, moving from one item to the next. After a couple of weeks while I was writing my thoughts about the prior week I noticed that I had completed more than half of the items I had set out to do in January. A sense of pride and satisfaction overcame me, I had moved the proverbial needle significantly and visibly. I realized that I could be on sprint mode because I had taken all the fluff out of my days. Instead of having multiple times of “what do I have to do now?” I crunched them into a few hours each month and week, and then I could just run. I had replaced all my planned failures into successful planning.

Reflections on 2017

Friday January 12, 2018 – Columbus, Indiana

Looking back to last year, I can easily it was one of the best years as far as accomplishments, even though there were many goals that I set were not met. Think about that, I am proud even when the goals I set were not met, how can that be. My number 1 goal for 2017 was to buy a house, I tried to do it and was unable to do; the reason was that I did not know what was needed to fulfill it and I was not ready to do it. Goal Number 2 was to get a promotion and I did accomplish that; here is the kicker, this is not what I’m most proud of in 2017. My greatest accomplishment in 2017 was not even a goal at the beginning of the year, it was not even a goal by October 2017. Getting a deep understanding of my finances is my greatest accomplishment of 2017.

Looking at my records, I’ve had an Excel Budget since 2007 when I changed jobs and Debora stopped working, and almost every year we’ve set up a family budget. I thought that was enough, to know if our planned expenses would be covered by our income, yet we had good months and bad months. Questions about what we could afford was gut check that would lead us to hitting our spending breaks way ahead of the next paycheck. I felt that I was failing, if only we would stick to the theoretical budget we would be fine, a fleeting hope that never materialized.

Coming back from our summer vacation where our expenses were so far off our budget I turned my concern into action. I opened the 2017 Budget and added a column called expenses, then another with the difference. I pointed my browser to my checking account and started adding the values into each of the budget’s categories. Two months after, I had added my savings accounts and started tracking movements across accounts and had a tab for each paycheck, then a workbook for each month. In November I had tabs for each credit card, loan, and savings account; this changed my life.  I am so proud, happy, elated about these new revelations; I know exactly why I could not buy a house in 2017 and I’m happy I didn’t.

I am looking forward to a good 2018, I’m actually looking forward to better understand my financial situation and do something about it. The greatest consequence of wrangling the financial beast is that I feel I can wrangle other beasts in my life. I want to understand my health, my time management, my work habits, my exercise patterns, etc. I recognize a formula that works: define, measure, analyze, improve, control; straight out of the Six Sigma playbook. I’m so happy to start 2018 and looking forward to the new challenges.


Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

5 Years of Blogging

October 27, 2017 – Columbus, IN

A little over 5 years since I’ve purchased the site FamMijangos.com and started writing. There has been many changes since that first post on the new site. I have learned to write faster, to edit images faster, I am more comfortable using WordPress, and more intentional in what I write.

A couple of years back I read this quote from Howard W. Hunter, and hit me that this is central to the FamMijangos.com Blog: “Giving consistent effort in the little things in day-to-day life leads to true greatness.”  This further cemented the Mission and Vision, which I’ve had in a note.  I’ve worked a bit on the wording, and in this Anniversary Post I can share it, they can also be found at the Mission and Vision page.

MISSION (Why it exists)

Recording life’s small things to remember how greatness came about.

VISSION (What we want to accomplish)

Provide a window for the world to peer into our daily life.

Lifehack: Audio

new best friendIf you were to see me from 7:30am to 5:30pm you will see me wearing my headphones, y almost never taken them off, I love them. My wife gave them to me as a Christmas gift a year ago. There are 3 activities I use these headphones throughout my day:

  1. I’m in conference call, I’m in conferences about half of every day.
  2. Listening to music, I’m in an open collaboration office and if I’m working I’m listening to music.
  3. Podcasts & Audiobooks, all other times I’m listening to either a podcast or a book.

I started listening to podcasts and audiobooks when I had a long commute in Guatemala, 60-90 minutes each way. Now, this how I consume technology news, how I learn history, how I understand social problems, how I prepare for new skills, and how shape my political views.

I love listening to books, I use Audible, and the readers are amazing. I can be walking and be immersed into a great story. Everywhere I go, my goes with me, my headphones are an appendage now.

Podcasts are my second love, it has taken a bit to find the right mix of podcasts, both in length and content. For some podcasts I listen to every episode, with others I only listen to the ones I think are interesting. Here is my list of podcasts:

What do you listen to?

*headline image courtesy of unsplash and Antonio Spiridakis

Blogging: Blog printing

I year ago I started a new project, printing the family blog. At the time it looked like a quick enough project, convert all the 2014 posts into a book. Each post was fast enough, copy-pasting from the web to a word template. It did take me longer than I thought, and the result was good enough. Here are some pages:

Book 2014 - Example 1Book 2014 - Example 2

I was very happy with the result, but I wanted something better for 2015, and I wanted to complete the project early 2016 (I finished with 2014 the end of July 2015, over 2 months of work). To accomplish this I converted all previous 2015 posts into the Word format I was using for the book, and all new post where first written in the new format. Also, all images were added to the book in full resolution, the 2014 book since it was copied from the web had the images in a lower resolution. Also, the 2015 book is a bit more aggressive in the page design and flow: not all images from the web are included, smaller images, more attention to image collages, etc. Here are some example pages:

Book 2015 - Example 1Book 2015 - Example 2

I am very excited with the results from the 2015 book, and I feel that creating these books has helped me understand the importance of page flow and composition. I’ve also learned a lot about how to format well in Word and the importance of negative space (white on pages). It also ups the ante for the 2016 book.

Somethings that I learned with the 2015 book:

  1. The book file became unmanageable after 100 pages, because it was heavy with images.
  2. I had to stop writing directly on the book file, but rather wrote in separate files.
  3. The best way (so far that I know) is to write each post on a file, add all images and format the way you want it, then import the file to the book file. Importing is much better than copy/paste.

For 2016 I’m writing all my posts in separate files using the book template. I’m formatting each post to look as best as I can. I want to explore some new formatting and try to keep the look consistent across the whole book.

I created a Yearbook page (it’s in spanish) in the family blog to showcase these works. You can download the pdf or even order a book from Lulu.


Have anyone else gone down this path of printing a blog? What have you learned from doing it? What has stopped you, if you’ve never printed?


*headline image courtesy of unsplash and Patrick Tomasso

Note Taking

I must confess that during my years in High School and later in College, I did not take notes. I am a listener, I would go to class and listen. There were plenty of people who took notes, and some were my study buddies. Their notes would refresh my memories and together we could really understand the lectures. Now, 15 years after my college days, I am a note taker.

IMG_2894I wanted to explore how I transitioned from not taking any notes, to a place where I find pleasure in taking notes. I can’t remember the exact date, but do remember the job. I was a manager for a company that published Market Studies for the Pharmaceutical Industry, and every client I met used a notebook, either an agenda or a moleskin notebook. I also mas managing multiple projects and making commitments to different parties; I couldn’t keep everything in my head.

My first attempt was to use a digital organizer. I signed up with Evernote to write my tasks and notes. I liked the perpetuity of my notes on Evernote, and being able to search for emails or documents; but the complete solution was not Evernote.

I saw my assistant using an inexpensive notebook as a work journal and thought that something like that could help me. I made several attempts to find what I liked until I got in a good rhythm, and from there I have a notebook.

This week I was reading an article on taking notes, and saw these amazing notebooks from a soccer commentator. (Full Article)

I am not as organized or as artistic as this commentator, but I do like to keep things organized. I carry 1 notebook that holds goals for the week, tasks for the day, and commitments or things I want to follow up on. I also carry with me a legal pad with a line across the center to make it 2 columns (2 columns make for more tidy notes), and a small pad as scratch paper. Every Friday before the end of the day I move the things that are not yet completed to the next week. Every Monday morning I plan for the week, blocking times in my Outlook calendar for specific work and putting tasks to a particular day on the week as a to-do. Every day I write my to-do for that day.

I still use Evernote a lot, and I will spend a whole post on how I use Evernote. Every week I take a picture of all my notes for the week and add it to a note on Evernote title Week Of XX along with any other paper notes I took.

I would love to know who else still take notes on paper and your overall process.

*headline image courtesy of unsplash and Tim Gouw

Tool: Password Manager

Famous words from LOTR “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all, and in the darkness bind them” The state of passwords and hackers is probably just one click darker than Mordor, and thus the need of a password manager. My tool of choice is Lastpass.com.


I started using Lastpass many years ago, I currently have 326 different sites. I can go back to 326 different sites and remember my username and password, most of them have unique, long, complicated passwords. But passwords are not the only things I store in my lastpass vault.

  • Profiles – whenever I need to create a new account, or fill personal information, I can push a button and fill all the info. I have a profile for my personal data and for work.
  • WiFi Networks – I can store credentials to frequent networks that you use, in case you don’t have them stored in your phone.
  • Secure Notes – Store you bank information, routing and account information. Other accounts where you have to make deposits. Super secure notes or images can be added and additional per note passwords.
  • Memberships – Take a picture of a store membership that you use once a year and save it in a membership item
  • Credit Cards – Store credit card information to either use on websites instead of storing the cards in their system, or just as reference in case you lose the card.


I use this service every day, in multiple devices (you do need to pay to have it in multiple devices). The premium account is $12, which to me is a great value for what you get. The iOS integration is amazing, got to a site on your phone, click a button, authenticate with your fingerprint, and you are in.


Some things to keep in mind:

  1. Have a long, complicated password to be your master password.
  2. Enable 2 factor authentication
  3. Enable country restrictions and allow only the countries where you would need to login from.

Capture2 Capture3

If you want to give it a try, consider using my referral code: https://lastpass.com/f?8434866