Tag Archives: getting things done

New Years Resolutions 2020

new year's resolutions

new year's resolutionsHappy New Year!

In recent years, I’ve dedicated myself to a concept at the start of the year, rather than a list. Past years have featured concepts such as slow living, authenticity and balance.

Although I’m quite drawn to thematic New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve not yet sorted out what this year’s watchword is. So I’m going to revert to form and list ten small, discrete goals I’d like to commit myself to in the coming months.

Here goes:

a. Take more baths. I’ve long suspected that, much like the pet vs. anti-pet distinction – you can neatly break people into two groups: those who are pro-bath and those who are pro-shower.  (Apparently, I’m right! There’s a whole #teambath vs. #teamshower debate I’ve blissfully ignored for years.) Given the rapidity with which I approach life, I’ve always stood solidly in the shower camp. But I want  to make 2020 the year of the bath – at least once or twice a week. I think it will help me to sleep better. And, courtesy of my 16 year-old, we now possess about  50 assorted bath bombs and I’m curious to see whether those actually make a difference. Some people drink wine in baths. I think I’m going to try reading…which brings me to my next resolution.

b. Watch more good TV.  My husband and I don’t watch a lot of television. On weeknights, we read before we go to sleep. And we’ve deliberately chosen not to subscribe to Netflix, Amazon TV or any of the other streaming services so as to make watching television that extra bit harder. But we also know how very good television has become over the past decade and are woefully behind on household names such as The Crown, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and Shtisel. So on weekend evenings, I’m going to priotise good TV and see how many of these series we can work our way through. (Have already tried – and dropped – Fleabag. Sorry to disappoint.)

c. Work less. I’ve fessed up before to how hard I find it not to work on weekends. Although the ultimate goal here is to stop working on weekends altogether, I don’t think a cold turkey approach is realistic for me. But I do think I can manage to adopt a 24/6 strategy. Stealing a page from  Tiffany Schlain’s new book, 24/6: The Power of Unplugging One Day a Week, which is all about unplugging from technology one day a week, I’d like to extend this concept to work altogether. I made this commitment about 10 years ago – declaring the Sabbath “me-time”  – and I really did feel the mental and physical benefits. So I’m going to try and renew this vow in 2020.

d. Schedule in Admin Time. One of the things I can never quite find enough time for is the assorted admin that governs both my work and personal lives:  responding to emails, billing clients, keeping track of expenses, planning blog posts. If you subscribe to the Getting Things Done methodology (and I now do, courtesy of Nozbe), you’re also meant to check in with all of your projects – as well as an empty drawer you stuff things into – once a week. Nozbe recommends that you find a nice place to do your half day of admin – a nice cafe, etc. – to make your administrivia more palatable. I think I first need to find that half-day, commit to it, and then find the location. (Currently eyeing converted Edwardian era laundry-turned-cafe/pub in my ‘hood.)

e. Write more. A little bit over a year ago, I began writing fiction. But I’ve also conceptualized a series of essays about family. While I’m at it, I need to find an agent for my book manuscript or bite the bullet and self-publish. Because writing for me is a joy, I try to be less hard on myself in this department than I am about hitting goals in my paid work. But there are certain milestones I’d like to hit this year – like getting a short story accepted – and that requires putting in the work.

f. Walk more. I don’t own a car, so that certainly gives me a leg up on this  goal already (no pun intended). But most of my walking is purpose-driven:  it gets me from A to B. On Christmas Day, I took a long, meandering walk around my neighborhood while listening to a podcast. It was utterly refreshing. I am blessed to live in a city with a seemingly infinite number of wonderful nooks and crannies, many of which you wouldn’t know about unless you stumbled upon them. So I am going to try and take more advantage of walking in the New Year. Lucky for me, new research suggests that my naturally brisk pace may decelerate aging. Yippee!

g. Eat less meat. Yeah, yeah. I know. Everybody’s doing it. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy to cut down on your meat intake. Especially if you’re a meat and potatoes gal such as myself. But after listening to a recent BBC Radio 4 programme featuring author Jonathan Safran Foer on what we as individuals can do to help mitigate climate change, I decided I could make an effort in this direction. Foer says , “There are four acts which matter significantly more than all others, these are flying less, going car free, having less children and adopting a plant-based diet.” I’ve already done #2, it’s too late for #3 and I’m somewhat limited on #1 by where I live in relation to friends and family. That left eating less meat.

h. Meditate longer. I’ve long prided myself on my near-daily mindfulness practice. But my husband – a fellow Headspace aficionado – recently suggested that I increase my daily dose of meditation from 10 minutes to 15, as he does. Initially, I resisted. “I’ve got too much to do!” I retorted. He arched an eyebrow. So I tried it. He’s right. It’s better.

i. Create a new set of affirmations. This one’s a case of “Practice what you preach.” Not only have I extolled the virtues of affirmations on this blog, I also encourage clients to use affirmations to set and achieve their business goals. But your goals shift over time, so it’s important to update your affirmations accordingly. Check.

j. Celebrate the Sabbath. I don’t mean this literally. But I’ve discovered  that one of the most important ways for me to relax on weekends is not to go out on Friday nights. Whenever I do it, I always feel exhausted and anxious on Saturday morning, even if I had a good time. So I am going to start turning down all social invitations for Friday nights. Bonus! This will make more time for more “good TV”!

As I look over this list, I’m not quite sure if they add up to a collective watch word for 2020. I’ll keep working on that…

What do you hope to achieve in 2020?

Image: Top New Year’s Resolutions by Forth With Life via Flickr

Tips For Adulthood: Five Reasons To Clear Out Your Inbox

Every week I offer tips for adulthood.

As many of you know, I recently moved house. And in the process of tossing out assorted long-dormant items like my son’s erstwhile Playmobil castle and the fish poacher that was serving as a spice rack, I realized that I shouldn’t limit my decluttering to actual stuff. It was also time to do a virtual declutter.

As I’ve said before, I’m not one of those die-hard Inbox Zero types. I’ve come to accept that there will always be a certain base level of flotsam cluttering up my inbox. Otherwise, I’d do nothing but eliminate emails all day long.

But there comes a time – and everyone has a different threshold – when you just can’t bear to look at your inbox splitting at the seams anymore. For me, it was when my inbox went over 1000 messages. (I won’t tell you how much over or you might gasp.) And I knew that it was time to get our my virtual hacksaw and start chopping.

If you’re like me, you probably dread the idea of sitting down and going through your inbox. Maybe there’s stuff in there that you’re trying to avoid. Or you fear that by managing your inbox, you will necessarily *not* be doing something else with your time. Or maybe the whole task is just too daunting.

But today’s post is meant to help you see that by setting aside time to clear out your inbox, you’ll actually feel calmer *and* more productive. Here’s why:

1. You get ideas. I’ve posted before about how I come up with ideas, whether it’s taking a “thinking shower” or going outside for a walk. When I get those ideas, I usually write them down in a little notebook I carry around that’s precisely for that purpose. But sometimes – and especially if it’s an idea that I plan to save for a later date – I write myself an email about the idea with the thought of subsequently storing it in a file on my computer. Except that sometimes I never actually complete that second step. And so the idea – which has subsequently gone completely out of my mind – is essentially lost, drowning in the sea that is my inbox until I find the time (which could be weeks, even months) to rescue it. Clearing out your inbox reminds you of those little gems that are hiding in the recesses of your brain.

2. You take action. And once you’ve been reminded of that cure for cancer you came up with while jogging one Thursday afternoon back in March, you might actually be inspired to do something about it. In my case, my virtual decluttering prompted me to send off an essay I’d written (gulp) 18 months ago to a major media outlet and also to get in touch with an agent I’d flagged but never actually contacted. Those were both things I’d been meaning to do for ages. But until I happened upon those items in my inbox, I completely forgot that they were even on my to-do list.

3. You reconnect with people. Just as the decluttering entailed in moving house reminds you of important people from your past, so too does scrubbing out your inbox remind you of friends and relationships that matter. I just found an email that was several months old from a friend of mine who moved to Colorado last year. In it, she not only brought me up to speed on what she’s been up to, but sent me an article about her new employer that reminded me – in turn – of an idea I’d been meaning to write about (Twofer! See #1). Another email from an old friend reminded me that his father had passed away. While I’d already sent my friend a condolence letter, I now remembered that I’d wanted to send his mother one as well.

4. You feel accomplished. If you’re like me, half of your inbox is filled with things like “Buy bananas!” “Get birthday present for X!,” “Write post on Z!” So half of your inbox is filled with things you’ve already done. (And we all know the joy of retro-actively crossing things off our to do lists!) With the rest of the items, you’re hopefully either executing them (see point #2) or storing them in a virtual home. Either way, you’ll feel like you’re getting stuff done.

5. You relax. And this is perhaps the greatest benefit of all. There’s nothing quite like a good, old-fashioned declutter, whether real or virtual. It takes years off your life…removes pounds from your body…lifts scales from your skin. (O.K., I”m mixing metaphors a bit but you get my drift.) Short of doing yoga, there’s really nothing quite so soothing.

Image: Inbox Zero by eweibust via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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