Welcome back! Hope you had a wonderful break and the new year is unfolding gently and happily for you.
With or without resolutions, I think we all pretty much want to start the year as we mean to go on. I want to keep healthy, push my running further, make the house even more organised and manage my time so that I have as much time as possible for all the creative projects I keep putting on a back burner. I was worrying about having too many goals, but it’s not impossible to attack them when you use a few shortcuts to success.
Great things are not done by impulse, but by a series of small things brought together ~Vincent Van Gogh
After receiving a Kindle at long last (I am a luddite) I read a lot this holiday. Everything from Gok Wan’s autobiography (curiously compelling) to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project (loads of interesting ideas, but not quite the book or the person I thought it/she would be) to Anthony Rubbin’s Awaken the Giant Within (very inspiring, although you have to really commit to the science bit). Books that helped to consolidate some ideas and shortcuts I had been trying out already.
Firstly, I’ve learnt it’s vital to be kind to yourself at this time of year (but not too kind) Rome wasn’t built in a day, but equally, it took a whole lot of effort. Productivity experts, like Anthony Rubbins, seem to agree that the trick with change is to take it a day at a time, to reward yourself immediately for steps in the right direction and to keep reviewing things. If they don’t work, don’t give up, try something different.
Start with one drawer
I’ve tried quite a lot of things recently which have changed my life, then I’ve read about them in magazines and realised they are a ‘thing’. Decluttering has been a thing forever of course, but my facebook timeline is full of people doing the Marie Kondo method.
I spent much of 2015 complaining the whole house was coming down on my head. One day I decided to start the clearing out with one drawer, it is amazing how once you get going the decluttering almost propels itself. Over the holidays I was amazed what a couple of afternoons did for my ability to find things, to concentrate and relax. I’ve since spoken to people who have read the Kondo book and I realise I was onto something, I even started with my clothes, which apparently is a very good place to start.
You can make a list of cupboards and drawers to tackle and tick them off, follow the Kondo method, but I am quite enjoying the random approach of whatever takes my fancy that day.
‘You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.’ Mike Murdock
A smoothie a day keeps the doctor away
I love my blender and so do the kids. Committing to one smoothie a day, either for breakfast or to see off the afternoon biscuit craving hour seems to be a really easy way to make a big difference. It’s great knowing you have the bulk of your 5 a day in one swoop. The kids hate my green concoctions but love the novelty of making smoothies for pudding. Long may that last!
A brain dump
Last year I learnt to dump absolutely everything in my head on paper once a week. It works wonders for my sanity and is a great starting point for a weekly planning session.
A great app for a quick workout
Ever get put off exercise by having to start a DVD, you tube an exercise to work out how to do it or by getting to the gym? I love the SworKit app because everything you need is in one place, you pick an area of the body, or type of exercise. You set the timer for however many minutes you have, the video demo of each exercise plays as you exercise.
Ditch the Distractions
Last year I read Happiness by Design by Paul Dolan, it really impressed on me how we can easily design our own happiness by setting up defaults for our brains. Our brains go for the easy option. One default I had was to scan facebook whenever I was bored or waiting, I deleted the app, and replaced it with news and exercise apps instead.
Water on tap
Another easy default setting. We have a gorgeous cream pitcher on the kitchen table. We leave our glasses on a mat in the middle of the table so the kids can always fill up too. It makes it easy to make sure we all stay hydrated.
I’m shopping for a great carafe for my desk too, something gorgeous that makes me want to actually use it.
Stay on budget
Dave Ramsey the US Amercian author nails it when he says, “Your priorities, passions, goals, and fears are shown clearly in the flow of your money.”
Fear or boredom put me off doing this, but control is a magical thing, as is having something to look forward to, to spend it on, like holidays. I am trying to make boring tasks fun this year. Mr A and I have booked a night to play some music, eat good food, and sort the budget.
As Dave says, “You will either learn to manage money, or the lack of it will manage you.”
I used to think meal planning was such a waste of my energy and a bore. Then I discovered how life changing it was.
I hate hearing those words ‘Any ideas what’s for tea?’
We were saving money, there was the joy of just knowing what we were eating. We even got to try new recipes because we had ordered the ingredients, not having to cook because we had made double the week before was amazing, the healthy meals we were eating made me feel so much better as a person, and a mum.
These were wonderful bonuses, but the thing that really convinced me, was the fact I had much more time and headspace for other things. I even enjoyed cooking, it stopped feeling like a chore.
The little things
Although I don’t always write good things down, I did start to mentally seek them out each day, and when I read recently that the act of noting them makes you actively seek more happiness I was sold.
Taking part in #BlogItForward last month really showed me how fast acts of kindness start to snowball in your mind when you perform just a few.
“I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all.” — Laura Ingalls Wilder
As I type this the timer on my phone is on for 25 minutes, the recommended amount of time according to the Pomodoro technique. I’m typing faster, I am phaffing less. Putting the timer on was the difference between writing a blog post and sharpening pencils, checking facebook again or cleaning out another cupboard, that’s stuff for the 5 minutes break between 25 minute blasts.
These are my favourite tricks for staying productive. Let me know if you want any more info on any of them as I am planning some more posts for January. What are yours?