Check Marks

IMG_2322Jerry Seinfeld famously motivated himself to write every day by hanging a calendar on his wall and checking off each day he managed to sit down and write.

I love this concept, and because I’m a little obsessed with my iPhone and all things Apple, I’ve started to implement this system using an app called Goal Streaks to track the progress I am making on various priorities. There are plenty of other free and less expensive apps that have the same functionality.

By default, we often focus on tasks that feel immediate: answering emails, running errands, cleaning the house. It can be hard to zoom out and remember what’s really important to us when we’re looking at a sink filled with dirty dishes.

Which is why there’s something very powerful about having a visual reminder of your priorities, somewhere, to reference. For me, the act of meditating every day is something I know will help make me a better friend, employee, daughter, sister. And so it makes the list.

What are you trying to remember every day in 2015?

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Making Things Happen in 2015

I used to think I was someone who would never eat breakfast. Not only do I despise eating in the morning, but I am also not a morning person so my routine after I reluctantly get out of bed is always rushed.

That said, over the past few months I’ve managed to work breakfast into my life because I started to make smoothies using a Nutribullet. For whatever reason, this appliance has helped me make a much-needed change in my life. Ingesting nutrients early in the morning leads to a more balanced, productive day.

But this post isn’t an advertisement for a blender. What I have been thinking about today is ways in which very small shifts in my lifestyle have led to new habits.

Another example: I used to only do yoga when I went to yoga class. At home, I very seldom managed to take my yoga mat out of the closet and do any yoga on my own. Then I realized that if I moved my bed three feet away from my windows, I’d have just enough space between the far wall of my bedroom and my bed to keep a yoga mat there all the time. And what’s crazy is just the small shift of not having to unroll and set up my yoga mat every time I want to practice has me using it all the time.

I tend to gravitate towards all-or-nothing solutions in my life. I’ll make a resolution to practice yoga every day, and then when I break that resolution I feel like a failure. This year, I’m focusing more on setting up my home, my schedule, my entire life, to make room for healthy habits.

For me, waking up at 7:30AM feels almost impossible most of the time. And yet. I still continue to tell myself this is when I should get up every single morning. To reframe this goal, I’m now realizing that I need to focus on being in bed by 9:30 and asleep by 10:30PM. Such a simple shift in mindset, and so blindingly obvious, but I never focused on bedtime in the past to try to rise earlier! Really. I’ve always known that was important, but the time I kept in my head was the AM time as opposed to the PM time in terms of what needed to change. Once I thought about what small shift would set me up for success in the morning, this became so obvious, that I needed to change my night routine to facilitate better mornings.

This year, I’m hoping to do more yoga, write more posts on this blog, read more books.

I love to read about how to form new habits and be my best, most productive self. Here are some of my all-time favorite books/blogs if you’re looking for some inspiration in 2015:

The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg
The Zen Habits Blog, Leo Babauta
Four Hour Work Week Blog, Tim Ferriss
Making Ideas Happen, Scott Belsky
One Small Step Can Change York Life: The Kaizen Way, Robert Maurer
Getting Things Done, David Allen (a classic)
(I’m just realizing these books are all written by men! Anyone out there have productivity gurus that are women? I’d love a more diverse list.)

Happy New Year!

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The Cost of Perfectionism

I spent two hours at work tonight writing one single tweet. 140 characters. One hundred and twenty minutes. This is not because I am inefficient or ridiculous. I’m actually kind of obsessed with productivity (more on my Evernote systems soon) and have figured out how to get shit done really efficiently when it comes to work and life. But I have an obsessive personality that insists on trying to perfect something even when that something can’t be done perfectly.

This blog, too often ignored, offers me some solace from that way of life because I don’t feel that I’ll be personally judged for my words. It’s horrifying to know that my issue, at its core, is really my fear not of failure, but of being looked down on by others. Instead of striving for greatness and risking failure, I settle for mediocrity.

How many of us settle like this? It’s what Seth Godin writes about in The Icarus Deception. We too often fly too low to the sea as opposed to too close to the sun. We struggle with creativity and making art because that means we’re putting ourselves on the line.

I know that I need to let go of these fears. To spell check the tweet and hit send and move on with my life.