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The 6-5-4-3-2-1 Concept

One of the perks of getting oil changes at the car dealership nearest us is the array of local luxury-living magazines in the waiting area. Whoever stocks the magazine table has totally overshot the mindset of a Ford owner by providing the kind of publications that considers hard-hitting journalism ten-page photo pieces about wealthy stars of yesteryear discussing the interior design (that they helped with, really) of their beachfront homes.

These magazines are thinly veiled advertising directories, featuring a few double-spaced articles of topical material--the less offensive, the more superficial, the better. (Who could get upset reading "Why Ed Begley, Jr. Thinks It's Important to Insulate Your Home" or "Study Finds That Eating Vegetables Improves Health?") These articles are sandwiched among a barrage of ads for a surprisingly small range of products and services: cosmetic dentistry, real estate, tutoring, and supplies for luxury activities like sailing and equestrian.

Whenever I pick up such a magazine, I marvel at its technical aspects. Why don't the readers demand higher-quality, better-written content? Don't the advertisers notice that all the ads compete with each other? Do readers recognize the ham-fisted advertorial? How much money do these damn publishers make, anyway? Shouldn't I be in this business too, since the advertisers obviously are drinking the Kool-aid? These things are low-quality noise, just words and pictures to look at and pass time, like a rich kid's USA Today.

In a recent issue of C-Suite Quarterly, whose tagline is "Uptown's Definitive Guide to Luxury Lifestyle & Business," opposite a dim-witted profile of Lee Iacocca--described in the article both as "82 years young" and as "Los Angeles resident octogenarian" (how's that for journalism!)--was an article actually worth reading.

The author describes a method for workaholics to take care of themselves and achieve a sense of accomplishment while suppressing the chronic need to "do" more. For your consideration:

Excerpts from "Top Six List" by Corey Rubin (or, as I like to call it, "6-5-4-3-2-1: For Big Babies Who Can't Stop Working"):

6 - Plan six big-task items to accomplish tomorrow. Once you've completed those six tasks, allow yourself to feel 100% accomplished and be finished 'til the next day.

5 - Take five minutes at the beginning and end of each day to do absolutely nothing--no computer, cell phone, television, or other distractions. Take the time to rest, re-energize, and let go of the need to "do, do, do."

4 - Make four meaningful connections during your day. Spend an intentional moment with your spouse or child, walk the dog, or thoughtfully acknowledge a friend or coworker.

3 - Eat at least three healthy meals a day. The eventual goal should be five or six small, healthy meals while awake. Drinking vodka at 5:30pm is not a meal, and neither is a protein bar on the run. If you're walking, talking on the phone, and eating, it's not as healthy as it could be.

2 - Schedule email (reading and writing) for two blocks of time per day. When an "urgent" email comes to your Blackberry or iPhone, give some thought to whether it can wait 'til the scheduled email time.

1 - Breathe one deep inhale and one deep exhale every time you feel the need to "get busy." The simple act of pausing to breathe can slow you down and bring you back to a healthier focus.

Food for thought.