I published 2020 | What Worked For Me | What I’d Like to Change in early January and promptly forgot that I’d set some big picture goals for the year. Some recent engagement with that post reminded me about them and I decided it was time to revisit those ideas.
I came up with five general strategies to ensure I was using my time in ways that felt important. They’re targeted to address some problem areas for me such as mindless scrolling, wasting time looking for things around the house, and unnecessary tidying. They are also targeted to ensure I’m spending time on things I feel are important: writing and taking care of my body.
Put my phone away
I no longer participate on any social media platforms, but still catch myself mindlessly zoning out on my phone. My current strategy to minimize phone time is to keep my Kindle nearby. Anytime I get the urge to pick up my phone and go to the same 3 news websites over and over, I try to read a few pages of a book instead. It’s been effective when my reading game is strong. It’s not so effective when my brain is tired or I’m avoiding reading for a myriad of reasons.
While this is a good substitution, replacing my phone habit with reading books doesn’t address the underlying problem with mindlessly accessing the internet: I’m looking for an escape. Of course, that’s fine periodically throughout the day, but not when it becomes a crutch that I’m leaning on several times an hour or when I become crabby with the kids because I’m too distracted by my phone to pay attention to them.
I’m going to experiment with really putting my phone away. That will mean slipping it into my purse during the day. I have an apple watch, so it will alert me if my phone rings and I’ll know if it’s an emergency or something I want to pick up. Other than that, there’s nothing I need to immediately access!
More time writing
This is hard. I’m still trying to find a rhythm that welcomes all of my hobbies: reading, writing, sewing, and knitting. Time to sit at my desk and pull thoughts together is not easy to come by, yet feels necessary. Every morning, after journaling and meditating, I have an internal struggle – should I write for my blog or should I get on the exercise bike? I’m Making A Decision right here: I will write. I’m going to release the guilt about exercising in the morning and not overthink it, which will give me (typically) an hour of writing time each morning.
Embrace the slow
The idea here was to not get caught up in “finishing” everything, but finding ways to enjoy the process. I become wrapped up in a certain identity – someone who achieves a lot. Lots of knitting, lots of quilting, lots of reading, lots of writing – and I’m trying to let that go. And I think I’m doing okay with that. I haven’t spent much time knitting or sewing and I typically use those two activities as a way to prove to the world that I’m actually “doing” something. Instead, I’ve focused on reading and writing, which has been quite fulfilling. I still miss admiring the knit stitch and a perfectly sewn seam, so I’d like to find ways to pull those back into my days but with less internal pressure to finish everything quickly.
I don’t think this is something I’m going to solve this spring and summer because so much of my time is taken up with gardening and playing outside. But perhaps I can turn my attention toward it as the weather starts to cool and we head into the last third of the year?
Drink more water + physical movement
Now I remember why I was tracking my water intake and worked so hard to exercise in those first few months of the year! Exercising early in the morning worked really well, but it made it difficult to find writing time, which is another goal listed above. Most of my day is completely out of my control – I can have a general idea about what to expect, but there’s always some sort of wrench thrown in.
The good thing is that we’re moving into summertime, which means I’ll get some quality time puttering in the garden. That will ensure natural and functional workouts nearly everyday. I’m going to channel the Okinawans and focus on time in the garden and eating lots of fresh vegetables. And again – I’ll revisit this goal when the weather turns cooler and working outside becomes more difficult.
It might not look like it around here, but I am making progress in this category. It’s been something I’ve had to face with our flooring and painting projects. There are still several hotspots that need to be addressed, which I’ve written down in my planner and am slowly (like, one a week) working through. There are moments when I want to sweep everything into a trashcan and just be done with it all, which I’ve been known to do in the past. I’m trying to be as thoughtful as I can, but I pine for clear spaces. Shelves with margin. A place to put things when my hands are full and I just need an empty spot for a few minutes until I can sort through it all. I’m determined to get there! So: one hotspot a week is a good place to start.
You can see that my goals contradict each other in some ways; some occupy space and time that others need. More time writing most likely means less time exercising or embracing big, slow quilting or knitting projects. So how does one navigate all of the competing desires?
Well – I’m going to focus on what makes sense given the season we’re in. Why would I hole myself up in the basement to ride an exercise bike or quilt when there’s magic outside during the warmer months of the year? Typically when I think of rhythm or routine, I think of it in the time span of a day. I’m challenging myself to think of my rhythms as seasonal – what works in the dead of winter is different than when the grass is green and the sun is shining.
To keep these goals at the top of my mind, I’ve written them down on an index card and taped it to the windowsill I stare at while I’m going through my morning routine. I’m planning to revisit these goals in early September, once we’ve made it 2/3 of the way through the year.
Did you set any goals this year? How are they going? How do you remind yourself as the year wears on? Do you live by the seasons or do you find that you usually do the same things every day, despite the weather outside? I’d love to hear about how you work big-picture goals into your life.
I’m planning to be back tomorrow with an update on my reading – take good care!