All posts by Joshua Howard

How To Be More Efficient

One of the best ways to get ahead in anything that you work on is to find ways to improve efficiency. The faster you can get something done the more time you can put towards working on other important things. I think that’s a pretty straight forward concept to understand but the real trick is identifying what can be improved and how.



Let’s start with what you should try not to make efficient. It’s important to understand that not all things should be optimized for efficiency. For some things, the actual amount of time and the quality of that time both have an impact on the end result. One big area in this regard is in your relationships.

Don’t try to make Relationships efficient!

When we start thinking about efficiency we tend to start looking for lots of areas we can improve and this unintentionally bleeds over into our relationships, but…. this is the one place that you do not want to be efficient.

If you try to be efficient in your relationships people will know that you are doing just that, and it will come off as being too busy for them. Even if it’s not intentional, you just cannot put efficiency into your relationships. Instead, focus on quality and effectiveness in this area.

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Automate your way to getting more done!

So what you can focus on for efficiency? Just about everything else. And there are a number of ways you can optimize efficiency. One of the best ways is to look for places to automate things. (read my article on automating: Automate FTW!).

Automation can provide you a great deal of efficiency and potentially remove the risk associated with people. Because let’s be honest, people are very error prone (I’m sure I failed a grammar test on this blog...).

Get better at what you’re already doing.

After automation you can look to training. Training can greatly improve efficiency. The more you do a task and the more you learn about a particular task, the better you can do it. Consider an athlete who wants to improve their shot efficiency and spends the off-season in training camps. You can approach your tasks the same way.

And you have two approaches to getting better training. You can learn to train yourself through practice and self education OR you can hire/find a coach or mentor. Both methods can be effective and both combined can be efficient, see what I did there 😉

Master… Delegate… Train… Master… Delegate… Train…

Your next option to improve efficiency is to delegate. A lot of people struggle with delegation and it’s because they have an expectation that another person… a completely different human being, with a different background and a different set of life experiences, is going to do something the same way they do when they delegate it.

But that never works. If you delegate something to someone, your expectation should be that they do it roughly 85% as good as what you really want them to do.

Once you’ve set a more realistic expectation on the tasks you’ve delegated, you need to start training. Now you are the coach or mentor and you need to help this person improve their efficiency, which in turn, will improve yours. Delegation is often an investment that is mistaken as a handoff. Delegation is not a hand-off. Be clear on that. It’s an investment and should be treated as such.

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Now you have three different approaches you can use to improve efficiency. Remember, not all things should be more efficient. I find the best way to know what should be efficient, is to identify something that you’re doing on repeat. If you’re performing a particular task and it has become fairly routine for you, you should look to see if you can apply one of the three methods above to make it more efficient.

Can you automate it? There are a million ways to automate things. I automate my monthly budgeting and my weekly grocery list. I automate rules in my email applications to organize them for me. You can buy dog feeders to reduce the number of times you have to fill up a dog bowl. These are just some random ideas to get your mind on the right track.

Can you train on it? Can you learn to get better at the task and therefore do it more efficiently? I’m a very avid reader and reading has given me a ton of insights into how to complete tasks more efficiently. We live in an age of technology where literally learning to do anything faster or better is a google search away.

Take advantage of this opportunity and do a little research to teach yourself how to do things better. Just be sure to consider your source and know that not all information on the internet is equal. I recommend getting multiple view points.

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Can you delegate it? Can someone else do this for you? I delegate chores to my kids and offer an allowance in return. If I have a particular work task I think someone else can do better than me, I offer to exchange a work item with them that I know I could also complete faster.

Can you hire an accountant to do your taxes for you? What about pay someone else to cook for you, like when you order take out? Delegation happens more often than we think but once we start to realize it we can take better advantage of it.

If you have other tips on how to improve efficiency share them in the comments!


How To Get Past A Plateau

Everyone reaches a plateau eventually. It’s a normal part of the growing process, and not just physically, but in the world around us also. When we attempt to achieve or push towards a new goal and begin to rise, we inevitably hit a plateau moment.

And there’s a key a difference in people that continue their growth pattern and those that level off and settle on the plateau.

Identify when you’ve plateaued



The first piece to overcoming that plateau is really recognizing when you’ve hit it. In our exercise or our fitness routines it can be really easy to recognize when we’ve hit our plateau.

All you have to do is check if you’ve improved in the last couple of weeks. If you’ve noticed that your run times haven’t improved or you noticed that you’re no longer increasing your weight week-after-week, you’ve plateaued.

A plateau is a normal part of the the process

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It’s important to understand that plateauing is a normal part of any process. It’s the result of our bodies and our minds adapting to the current situation to have a better chance of continuing to survive in that situation. The problem becomes when our goal isn’t to just survive but to grow, and our bodies and minds don’t quite follow that pattern naturally.

However what’s really important is how quickly we recognize that we are plateauing so that we can pivot as quickly as possible. I’ll talk more about pivoting in just a bit but the important piece right now is understanding that we want to know as soon as possible when we have leveled off. The sooner we recognize that we have slowed our growth, the faster we can change direction and get back on track.

It can be extremely tricky to identify when we’ve plateaued outside of fitness. How do you know when you’ve plateaued at your job? How do you know you’ve plateaued as a parent? How do you know you’ve plateaued at your hobby? The answer to these questions is the same way you know you’ve plateaued in your workouts. By measuring.

Track your efforts like you do your workouts

The only way we can really make a good decision that isn’t based on emotion or bias is to use quantifiable data. In our workouts we do this by recording time or our weights. In other life aspects this can be more complicated but we can still help give ourselves an idea of if we are on the right track.

You can do this by identifying a metric that you feel closely represents (not exactly) where you are getting your value from, and recording it every week just like you do your workouts.

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Is your goal to learn to play the piano? Write down how many minutes you practice for every day. Is your goal to write a book? Write down how many words you write every day. Is your goal to be a better parent? Write down the number of times you do something you feel makes you a better parent.

By capturing this information and reviewing it each day, just like you do in a workout program, you can identify when you are improving and when you have plateaued.

Now, to actually get past the plateau…

Remember, our bodies and minds try to adapt to the particular situation we are putting them in and then from there they will level off when they feel good about that adaptation. To overcome this, we simply need to throw a wrench in the current routine.

Pivot your routine into something different

In exercise, when we are doing pushups and we get to a point where we just can’t seem to do any more day-after-day, we should switch to a different style of push up. We should purposefully do something that is similar, but slightly different. That’s the trick to over-coming a plateau.

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So if you’re having trouble improving your long distance run times, try spiriting short distances. Having trouble improving swimming laps? Go ride a bike. Is your bowling game falling off? Try bowling left-handed. Struggling to think about what content to create for your next blog? Go off on a new topic.

Find ways to create change in your routines.

Don’t use the same tools and the same strategies every day!


Read The Bedtime Story

Parenting is an exhausting job.

From the minute you wake up, or should I say, they wake you up, to the minute you go to bed, or should I say, the minute they get out of bed for the 15th million time, you are on the clock.

From sun up, until sun down, you’re clocked in as a parent.

Oh and from what I hear, that actually never ends, by the way…



But despite all of that, and all of that work, as you get older and your kids get older, there are going to be certain things that they remember about their childhood. Just like us as adults, our kids are going to look back and remember key moments or traditions that they were exposed to in their lives.

They’ll unfortunately remember that one time you accidently embarrassed them or that one time you were too hard on them for a mistake they made.

They are going to remember that one movie that first scared them when they were little and they are going to remember that time you took them to go do that one thing that they love.

This is because memory is selective, and as our kids get older they are only going to remember certain things about their past. And those specific memories, which ever ones they are, are going to stick with them and be a basis for how they live their lives.

That may be good, or it can be bad.

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They may remember growing up and being rewarded for doing a good job and now that they are older and are starting a family, they are going to remember to reward their kids for doing a good job.

Or they may remember that you were always fighting with them and arguing with them. They may remember that you were demanding and unkind. They may remember that you were distant or always too busy…

The things that you do with your kids tend to be things they grow up and do for their kids. It’s something that can be passed down as tradition (creating traditions: The Easiest Way To Leave a Legacy), and one of the best things you can do, to set a tradition, is read to your kids before bed.

Reading to your kids has such an astounding impact on their lives, especially… I’m going to say this twice… especially in today’s world of technology.

In today’s world, reading sticks out like a sore thumb. In a world of screens where the imagery and sound is being provided for you, reading and using your imagination has incredible upside.

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Not only does reading allow kids a different flavor of content to consume, it allows their own minds to think and consider what is happening in the story, in their terms. They picture the characters how they want to see them, which encourages their minds to grow on their own terms, in reflection of their own personality.

Reading to your children encourages them to be readers of their own. While many youtube videos can show you how to repair a washer, no one whose read a book will tell you that the big screen adaptation was better than the written word. No one. The book wins every time and it’s because the book is personal.

You should read to your children every night. You won’t be perfect, and you don’t have to be, but you should read to them every night. Read to them because it provides something unique in comparison to technology, read to them because it helps their minds grow, and read to them because it’s something they will remember.


Team USA!

The USA Weightlifting team is holding a sponsor giveaway!

They are giving away a ton of great gear that would be perfect for anyone that is looking to get some extra equipment to start the New Year. Entering to win is as easy as following this link and putting in your email address!

Click Here to Enter to Win USAW Equipment

They are giving away Backpack’s, Weightlifting Belts, Lifting Straps, Wrist Wraps, Protein Powders, Shaker Bottles, Protein Bars, and more.

It’s all free stuff and the purpose of the event is to raise awareness!

If you’re not familiar with Team USA they represent and host some of the USA’s greatest Olympic Athletes, which represents the US in a variety of competitive world events.

I’ve recently started competing in their online hosted weightlifting events. You can checkout my last month’s submission on my Instagram page:

If you’re interested in getting some new gear before the new year click the link! New Gear for the New Year!

If you’re interested in competing in the events or setting a new years resolution to get in shape, contact me at Howard.Joshua.R@gmail.com and I would be more than happy to help!

THE MANDALORIAN (S2:E8) – THE Rescue REVIEW

Hole.. Eee… Smokes… What a closer!

I did not see that final scene coming from even a mile away. I just simply did not put two and two together until the final unveil. I think the biggest part that threw me off was how things aligned in the Star Wars timeline but let’s start from the beginning.



Mando and crew start off chasing down and capturing the head scientist we saw a few episodes back, that was working for Moff Gideon. It’s the same scientist that was directly involved in attempting to get little midichlorians out of Grogu. Capturing him gives Mando’s team a good plan to move forward with on how to ambush Moff Gideon’s ship.

Before heading off, Mando recruits Bo Katan and her sidekick for a little extra fire power. Their plan is pretty straight forward. Bo Katan and team will disguise themselves as an Imperial transport under fire from Boba Fett. Once aboard Gideon’s ship they’ll head for the bridge to capture Moff Gideon.

While she is raising a ton of hell, Mando will take a slight detour and attempt to shut down the Dark Troopers (the robot dudes that captured Grogu) and then head to rescue Grogu himself.

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The plan kicks off successfully with Boba chasing the imposter Imperial transport ship holding Mando and crew right into the Moff’s ship. Once on board Boba quickly jumps to lightspeed and it’s up to Mando and crew to complete the mission.

Bo Katan and co immediately step foot off of their ship and begin to raise hell. Moff Gideon is aware he’s been tricked and sends the signal to fire up the Dark Troopers. While Bo’s team is working their way towards the bridge with some epic shoot outs, Mando begins sneaking his way towards his own objective.

As Mando nears the Dark Troopers he’s not quite quick enough and before he can close the blast doors preventing the troopers from making their way to Bo Katan one of them slips through and it becomes Mando vs Dark Trooper.

We’re quickly shown the power of even a single Dark Trooper as it begins to pummel Mando. If not for Mando’s near indestructible Beskar armor he would have quickly been beaten to death (as shown by a number of punches Mando takes to the head).

Mando pulls out all of the stops to defeat the Dark Trooper and in the end uses the Beskar spear he previously acquired, to defeat the enemy. Soon after he ejects the remaining Dark Troopers from the ship and moves towards rescuing Grogu.

At the same time Bo Katan and team move in to capture the bridge. They blast their way in and eliminate all of the enemy troopers but Moff Gideon is no where to be found. As Mando rounds the corner to Grogu’s holding cell and enters he comes face-to-face with the Moff himself.

Moff is seen holding Grogu hostage with the Dark Saber and Mando is left with no option but to attempt to negotiate. Moff Gideon tells Mando that Bo Katan is only after the Dark Saber so that she can claim Manda’lore and that he’s already got what he wants from Grogu. Gideon agrees to let both Grogu and Mando go free if he can keep the saber.

As Mando reaches for Grogu, Moff Gideon strikes and an epic battle ensures. Mando and Gideon fight Dark Saber against Beskar spear but Mando is simply too much for the Moff and takes him hostage. Mando joins Bo Katan and crew at the bridge with the Moff in tow as his prisoner.

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Before anyone can celebrate a number of alarms begin to emit from within the bridge as the Dark Troopers begin to return. The troopers start heading for the bridge and considering the fight a single trooper put up against Mando, the group appears to be trapped…

As the Dark Troopers attempt to force their way into the bridge a lone X-Wing flies past and boards the star ship. Over a series of security cameras we only see a green lightsaber slicing it’s way through Dark Troopers heading towards the bridge. If you recall, Grogu previously reached out with the force in an attempt to contact any other Jedi and it looks like one did indeed hear the call.

As the Jedi nears the bridge Mando’s team waits in anticipation. When the dust settles and the Jedi appears we learn that it is non-other than a young Luke Skywalker!

After a bit of fan service, Luke takes Grogu leaving things open ended with where Mando will head to next. However, Mando does have the Dark Saber which technically means he can claim the throne of Manda’lore. We’ll have to see what happens next in the Mando timeline….

If you stuck around to watch the closing credits you also got a sneak peek at where our buddy Boba Fett is headed. It looks like he’ll get his own spin off show as well titled, ‘The Book of Boba‘ and I can’t freaking wait!

Director Jon Favreau has given the ol’ Marvel spin on Star Wars. With a mix of fan service and creative action scenes he’s managed to revive the Star Wars universe far beyond what Rian Johnson or J.J. Abrams were able to do. With a number of new Star Wars shows coming up and the awesome tie-ins between each of them we are in for quite a few years of great content from Disney and team in the Star Wars universe!


How To Setup A Status Page For Your Website For Free

With all the talk around SLO’s and SLI’s what soon follows is a request or need for transparency. In the age of technology, when your website or webservice goes down, people know.



In most cases, they actually end up knowing faster than you, and when there is an issue the expectation to provide an immediate response is high. Thankfully there is already a great tool to help make this happen.

Say hello to the Atlassian Status Page: The Hardest Work Status Page

This status page provides a means to communicate the status of an event in which customers or end users are affected. From the end users standpoint, they can easily subscribe to receive updates the moment an incident occurs. This can allow them to react or mitigate any down stream issues with their own services and avoids any manual processes around notifying users.

The status page also allows users to have a central place to receive additional updates on the status of an on-going issues as it is being resolved. Status Page maintainers can provide updates on the findings of the incident to customers as well as how soon they expect the issue to be resolved.

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Status Page also allows you to break down individual components of your services to provide more accurate reporting and status updates as well. This can be useful for larger products that may have multiple services or websites.

Atlassian’s Status Page also allows a number of application integrations for alerting. Alerts can be sent out to multiple chat services like Teams and Slack as well as ticketing systems like Jira and notification systems like Opsgenie. If you really want to, you can automate a Twitter notification to be sent out as well.

In today’s world of technology things move fast. Customer expectations are higher than ever and response times matter. Keeping your end-users informed and up-to-date as production issues are resolved is vital to meeting transparency and communication expectations.

Try Status Page out for free: Atlassian Status Page


Carabiner Clips, Weightlifting Belts, & Posture Correctors

What a hefty title for a post…

I wanted to take a minute to post about some of the more recent equipment I’ve picked up in the last month and share some updates on it’s usage, quality, and how I’ve felt about it so far.



The first item on the list is the Fitness Invention: Rope & Handles kit.

Tricep Rope Cable Attachment 35 Inch with 2 Exercise Handles + 3 Carabiner Clips – Cable Machine Attachments – Tricep Pull Down Rope – Cable Attachments for Gym, Home Gym Accessories

I was actually only looking for a new Carabiner Clip, because the one I had currently was getting bent, when I stumbled across this kit. I had found a couple of others online but then I came across this nice little kit and at the time it was on sale so I went ahead and picked it up. I’ve made use out of it every week so far and it’s been really sturdy. The extra clips meant I didn’t have to move a single clip from the top of my machine back to the bottom or vice-versa, which was nice.

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The handles and rope are both of a nice quality and I’ve been putting them to use with roughly 150+ lbs on the machine. I haven’t noticed any wear or tear and the products look like they will last quite a while. If you’re in the market for handles, a rope, or clips, this is a great set!

Next up on the list is the classic Weight Lifters Belt by RitFit:

RitFit Weight Lifting Belt – Great for Squats, Clean, Lunges, Deadlift, Thrusters – Men and Women – 6 Inch – Multiple Color Choices – Firm & Comfortable Lumbar Support

As I started adding deadlifts to me routine my lower back was giving me issues. I particularly noticed I would have more pain as I was coming off the rack with the weight for calf raises, so I wanted to get something that would help me get a little more support. Before I made my purchase I did a little research into just what belt would be the right fit.

I had used weightlifting belts for most of my high school sports career but I never really, fully grasped how they should be used. While looking into what belt would be best I learned that you actually want to inhale and really push your stomach into the belt to create pressure in your mid section, which gives you a stronger trunk when you lift heavy.

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With that in mind I opted for this RitFit cloth belt as opposed to a leather one and I’ve been extremely satisfied with it. The cloth material is very comfortable and very easy to get around the mid-section. I feel like I can get a very deep inhale and really fill up the belt and push my stomach into it, which gives me really great support for squats. With this belt and a little bit of core work my lower back has already started feeling better.

And last but not least is the Snoky Posture Corrector:

Snoky Posture Corrector for Women and Men, Back Support Straightener, Shoulder Lumbar Adjustable Breathable and Posture Corrector for Improve Posture, for Neck, Back and Shoulder Pain Relie

I picked this item up because I’m a classic desk jockey spending a lot of time behind the keyboard. I wanted to grab something that would help give me some extra support so I could try and improve some of my lower back pain I was experiencing.

I’m not as in love with this item as the previous two. While it does provide good support and does help you try and keep your posture right, it’s a little inconvenient to take on and off. The extra belt across the mid-section is nice but also not easy to slip on-and-off between video meetings.

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Overall I do think this is a decent product I just think I would have been better off, personally, getting something that is a little quicker to throw on. The material is very nice but I noticed I would get a little hot or sweaty from the mid-section belt which means it’s probably not great to wear all day long under your clothes.

I would highly recommend the Fitness Invention Handles & Rope Kit and the RitFit Weightlifter’s Belt if you’re looking for any type of similar item. You might like the Snoky Posture Corrector if you don’t need to take it on or off many times a day. If there’s an interest in more reviews on this type of equipment let me know and I’ll keep sharing items I pick up as I build my home gym!