Getting Started Archives


It's never too late to celebrate Discardia

It's been a lovely long Discardian season, but life happens and I'm betting more than a few folks haven't been able to fit in as much life improvement over the past month as they'd ideally like.

Don't worry and certainly don't beat yourself up over it. Now's when you need both a little extra slack and the lift from having accomplished something. So go for the low-hanging fruit. Set your game difficulty on a friendlier setting. Lighten your expectations and give yourself credit for what you achieve. 

That's not saying 'give up on the bigger goals', but let yourself take a win that's sized for your ability today. Start from basics and work up. 

Here's a post from a few years ago which will help you find those easy wins. I hope you'll let me know in the comments about the wins you've found this week!

Recovering from chaos

It's all very well to want to look at the big picture of goals and projects, but what do you do when you're down in the trenches and the trenches are full of junk that's piled up while you were too busy?

First, don't beat yourself up. Everyone has things spin out of control sometimes. Major life changes, happy and sad, can pull you out of your routines of maintenance despite your best intentions. Other changes can come along which necessitate a new baseline of how much organization your home and life need for you to feel calm and on top of it all.

So, where do you start when you realize that you've got to turn this mess around and transform it into something that doesn't make you wince?

Looking at a room full of things which are out of place can be overwhelming. Don't try to tackle it all at once.

Decisions are tiring, so the trick is to make the most of every one you make. Look for the easiest possible decision and start there.

For example, that cough drop wrapper on the floor there by the sofa. That can go in the trash. There is no acceptable second use for cough drop wrappers. Mmmm, away into a trash bag with it.

But don't stop there: You've got a useful decision you can leverage, painlessly. ALL cough drop wrappers can go. In fact, since they're pretty much the same thing, all candy and food wrappers can go. Walk around for a couple minutes with that trash bag ignoring everything but dead wrappers of edible things.

Nothing else in the pile matters right now except those things that match the current game of Concentration you're playing. You don't have to play long, just start playing more often.

Decide one kind of thing on which you can take the same action and then see how many matches you can get in a few minutes strolling through the house. Here are some example rounds of the game:

- full trash and recycling containers get dumped in the big bins;

- used dishes not in the kitchen move to the kitchen;

- catalogs move to recycling;

- mail to be processed goes all together in one stack in your inbox;

- clothes that need dry cleaning or repairs go into a basket by the door;

- bills in your inbox go in one stack with your checkbook on your desk (everything that's not a bill can stay in the inbox).

Don't worry about the next round; just play this one, briefly, right now. And give yourself credit for moving your world toward the life you want to be living!

Posted on April 14, 2015 at 12:55 PM in Getting Started | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Making it a game

Perhaps it's a common quality of only children, but I've long had a habit of turning little things into games. To this day, I'm always setting myself unnecessary but useful obstacles like, "New rule: Every time I enter a room for the next hour I have to do one thing to make it nicer." or "Challenge round! How many pieces of laundry can I fold and put away before this song ends?" And you know what? It works. It keeps me motivated and cheerful as I get more done than I otherwise would.

There are a variety of to-do list trackers which take a playful approach to productivity, but I found I did not stick with them after the initial charm wore off. I'd enjoy using them and would indeed find myself doing "just one more task" in the evening in order to score those few more points. Then I'd travel or get sick and once my schedule was disrupted, I would not return to them. 

Over the past couple months, though, I seem to have found the one that has enough allure to get me back in the game even after a few days distraction. The key for me came in two parts: supporting habit-building and character advancement. HabitRPG, as the name suggests, is centered on building and maintaining habits defined by you. The core are your "Dailies" (though you can set some to occur only on certain days of the week). If you don't mark them off, your little character will lose life points that night. If you do, you'll gain experience and treasure, which increases as your streak of successful days grows. You also can list behaviors you want to reward yourself for engaging in or negative ones for which you want to penalize yourself. And HabitRPG also supports jotting down To-Do's, which bring a reward when checked off. 

Screen Shot 2015-01-28 at 2.46.35 PMYou set up the appearance of a cute little character and as you go about your day, marking things off your list, your character grows more skillful and, importantly for those of us who adore the character creation part of games, you can customize its appearance and powers. Those powers, for example, include its defenses against lost life points for missed Dailies and indulgence in bad habits, or its ability to extract greater rewards from completed tasks. My little rogue character is focused on that latter path, using ninja skills to glean a few more gold pieces from each task I ambush.

All good so far, but perhaps not compelling enough to keep me coming back, were it not for the sneaky inclusion of varying rewards and frequent, but not constant, extra treasure. These treasures take the form of eggs, hatching potions, food, and saddles. There are nine different kinds of pets that can be hatched from those eggs and ten different hatching potions creating their variations. This leads to a total of 90 pets to be collected, each of which can be fed its special variant food to grow into a mount. Sure, it's silly, but when making my bed and tidying the bedroom only takes a couple minutes and it has the potential for a treasure I haven't collected yet, I'm just more likely to do it.

HabitRPG gives me the pleasure of a microbreak playing a game (when I get a reward and take a minute to spend it), without actually leaving the context of my goals for the day or risking getting caught up for a long time in playing. It gives me a place to jot down trivial To-Do items (e.g., 'empty the paper shredder') where they won't clog up my main project planner. And it keeps the background hum of daily and weekly personal tasks from creating a sense of overwhelm when I'm looking at all my longer-term projects.

It's enjoyable and it really is succeeding in helping me shift my behavior in the direction I want to go. When games work better than more boring methods, it's a double win. Try out some fun and see if it turns out to be most functional too!

 

Want to learn more about the science behind gamification and its great potential? Check out Jane McGonigal's 2012 book Reality is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World. It's available in print and as an audiobook. I listened to the version from Audible while getting things done around the house and working out; isn't that just like a sneaky little rogue?

Posted on January 28, 2015 at 03:25 PM in Getting Started, stretching your mind | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Beware the Auto-Loading To-Do List

There are never enough hours in the day to do everything we dream of doing—and that's fine. The act of deciding what we will do is how we construct our selves.

However, overflowing lists of things we might do, which we feel we ought to do, or which others would like us to do, can be so significant a source of stress and indecision as to eat up time we could spend on what we most want in our lives.

I've spoken before about the vital importance of giving yourself permission not to do it all, for example in this talk which I gave at an OmniGroup event last year. Maintaining the difference between active and inactive projects (and their associated tasks) and clearly dropping those you decide not to do, while still allowing yourself to get things out of your head and into a trusted system, is how you manage all that potentiality.

Whether that trusted system is software or paper-based doesn't matter (though I personally find smart software to be less work to use and maintain), the essential part is that it is your system—and, critically, that nothing else is.

You email inbox cannot be your trusted system because things can be added to it without you having consciously processed each of them and affirmed them as something you are going to do (even when "doing" means "delegating" or "adding to a someday/maybe list").

Your physical inbox cannot be your trusted system for exactly the same reason.

Your calendar cannot be your trusted system because it can't hold inactive projects and tasks without becoming useless for managing the active ones.

The essential qualities of a trusted system are:

  • that it be easy to use wherever you are in order to see current tasks and to note new items (for later processing into active or inactive projects or tasks as appropriate);
  • that it be simple to toggle projects from active to inactive;
  • that it support a pleasant process for conducting weekly reviews;
  • that it helps in reminding you to review projects on their individual appropriate cycles (some of which might be weekly, others monthly, quarterly or even annual);
  • that it gets inactive and not-for-current-review things out of your face until it's time to consider them;
  • and that supports deletion by archiving of things you decide not to do.

When you know that adding anything into your system or noting a decision about something in your system means that that item will be presented to you at the appropriate future time and that you no longer need to carry it in your head, then you can trust it. Once you trust it, you can relax and use your clear head to engage with the present moment and whatever task you are deciding to address in it. The work of building a trusted system pays itself back a thousandfold. Your stress will drop and your productivity and self-fulfillment will rise.

Draw that line in your life between your conscious engagement with potential activities and those things which are presenting themselves for your attention. As I indicated above, your email inbox is one of the critical areas for seeing the difference between what you have decided to engage with and a pile of stuff that you have not yet processed. Deletion, unsubscribe, and "No, but thank you for thinking of me!" are all your friends in keeping this territory under control.

Still, after you've got a trusted system and your email isn't driving you batty, and once you've gotten better at identifying an appropriate number of active projects, you may still find yourself feeling that you're running behind. Most peculiarly, you may encounter this feeling more often when you're not working than when you are. This is the signal to start hunting down and eliminating auto-loading to-do lists.

Information technology has made it easier than ever for us to be provided with things that truly do fit within our interests. Lots of things. More things all the time. And more things that are unconstrained by limits such as the number of pages in the daily paper or a magazine. Bit by bit, over time, we sign ourselves on for far more than we could ever hope to read or watch. Then we wonder why we can't seem to keep up and our leisure media nags at us.

Once again, decide what you are going to engage with, rather than letting someone else put those items on your list. You don't have to read everything cover-to-cover or catch every episode.

Here are great places to do some pruning:

  • Podcasts. Not only do many of these take longer to consume than the average "long read" link, they also may be living on your computer, filling up your hard drive. Unsubscribing from TEDtalks videos and a couple hour-long-per-episode podcasts cleared up 37GB on my laptop! Consider your consumption rate and downsize your subscriptions and downloads to match it, making use of episode descriptions to skip what doesn't really grab you.
  • Television. Don't watch things just because the fall in between two things you do care about. Watch what rewards you and watch it on your time. When it stops rewarding you; drop that show. Remember to answer that question "Is this rewarding me?" in comparison not only to what else you might watch, but also to all the other things you could be doing with that time.
  • Books. You don't have to finish a book you don't like and you don't have to keep a book that isn't grabbing you around in hopes that someday it will. The last time a single human had a chance of reading every book in print in English in their lifetime was over 500 years ago; you can't get to it all, so quit beating yourself up and free up some shelf space.
  • Magazines and email newsletters. If it isn't rewarding, unsubscribe unsubscribe unsubscribe! Plus, watch for boxes you can uncheck to keep yourself off these mailing lists when you're buying something from a business or signing up for a new service.
  • Social Media. Monitor your moods when you spend time on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Are you getting joy or positive self-insight out of making this part of your day? Pare back how many people and who you follow to just those who help make you more who you want to be. Don't keep these applications open all the time or let them distract you with alerts, sounds and unread counts on the application icon. When you choose to connect with them, really do connect and then unplug to take the energy and knowledge you've gained into the rest of your life.

When something seems to be piling up beyond your ability to keep up, take a good hard look at how things get added to that stack and make sure you're the one in control.

 

Posted on March 27, 2014 at 01:10 PM in Getting Started, prioritizing | Permalink | Comments (5) | TrackBack

3 short laps to a better kitchen

As with so many other parts of our lives, kitchens often drift into a state of low-level inconvenience. If you're feeling frustrated and thinking major changes may be required, start with this quick fix to clear the slate and reconnect with what is most useful and attractive to you.

This won't take long at all and it will feel great when you see the difference you've made. You'll be running three short laps. You can do these all in a row or spaced out over a few days, depending upon your available time and energy. Each lap should take about twenty minutes.

 

#1 - Move out the old and cold.

Look quickly through your cupboards to find clots of things you haven't used in the past six months. Move those things out to cold storage elsewhere in the house (e.g., a clearly labeled storage bin in the garage such as "Holiday Baking Tools") or to your charity box. If you don't need it more often than a couple times a year, it should be out of your daily way.

When we did this on our kitchen we came to terms with the fact that we haven't made muffins, cupcakes, or bread in the over five years since moving in. Off to a new home with those pans and liners! We located a few large but only occasionally needed items that were able to move to a closet. We also purged a batch of cheap empty water bottles which never get used on hikes since we have a nicer reusable bottle.

Finish this lap by wiping down the newly cleared space with a lightly moistened paper towel.

 

#2 Clear the decks

Your target now is the countertops and open shelving. What is out in plain sight, taking up space, but which you haven't used in six days? Get those things into a more appropriate location out of your view and your way. If you don't use them more than once a week (or if they're ugly), they don't belong at the ready. Take advantage of the space you've cleared in lap #1 to store things conveniently out of sight.

We had allowed our counters to be populated with many things which seemed convenient but which we didn't actually use often enough to warrant losing so much of our limited task surface. Spice and herb boxes moved into a cupboard. Ramekins moved into the dish cabinet. Spare cutting boards shifted from a visible location to an unnoticable spot on top of the fridge where they are still handy but less ugly. We also put our least favorite one into the Goodwill box. A broken slate trivet headed out to the garden for use as a different sort of pot rest. Pot lids moved from being propped behind spice racks to their new home behind the pots in the cupboard under the sink. Lastly, some old decorative items such as a fruit basket moved out to leave more room for their more attractive successors.

Again, we finished the lap by wiping down newly exposed surfaces.

 

#3 Improve the new reality

Now that you can see more clearly and the items ready to hand are the right things, take a last few minutes to see if you can arrange them more effectively or attractively. Look at the kitchen with fresh eyes, acknowledging your progress and seeing the opportunities it has created for you.

We found that our attractive breadbox, which had been jammed on top of the microwave under a cupboard could now move to a more convenient spot on our sideboard, next to where we actually prepare things like sandwiches. The breadbox's top now became available as a home for a few small, formerly counter-cluttering items such as tea, honey and a small decorative pitcher. Two decorative dishes for fresh fruit were then able to move from the sideboard to the top of the microwave and free up even more of our work surfaces. Our SodaStream carbonator changed from blocking access to cooking utensils and a standing spoon rest (which Joe hadn't even noticed we had!) to live on the other counter closer to the fridge and its chilled water bottles. The kitchen now looks like we got rid of half the stuff we'd had in there even though we primarily just made better use of our space.

 

What can three little laps do to make your everyday life even nicer?

Posted on August 20, 2012 at 11:49 AM in Getting Started | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Seven times Seven Streamline

Got some small but stagnant stuff on your to-do list? Feeling nibbled to death by wee ducks? Try the 7x7 Streamline.

Deep breath.

Now set a timer for seven minutes. Focus completely and without interruption on one task for those seven minutes. Let the phone go to voicemail. Do not check email. Do not do anything but this one task.

As soon as you complete that task—or when the seven minutes are up—go on to another small to-do on which you've been procrastinating.

The most time you are going to spend is 49 minutes, so email and Twitter and texting and the news headlines and all those other distractions can wait. You are giving yourself the gift of a smaller list. Focus tightly on slapping these chores down.

If you haven't built up your focusing "muscles" this may feel very difficult. Pull yourself back on task and keep going. You will get better and over time you'll become fantastic at getting seven (7!) things out of the way in less than an hour.

Posted on May 29, 2012 at 01:24 PM in Getting Started, working clearer | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Discardia at SXSW

I was invited to do a brief reading and Q&A on Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff at South By Southwest Interactive conference this year. (Very brief: I knew I only had 20 minutes and so I hurried at the beginning to be sure we'd have time for lots of questions. As it turned out more time had been allowed, so we were able to switch to a more comfortable pace and have a great conversation.) Thanks to everyone for a great time during the presentation and at the book signing afterward!

Listen in the player on the event page

or get the MP3 file


Here's the description from the program:
Let go of everything that doesn't make your life awesome! With three key principles and numerous practical tips, Discardia helps you solve specific issues, carve away the nonsense of physical objects, habits, or emotional baggage, and uncover what brings you joy. This SXSW reading from Dinah Sanders' new book Discardia: More Life, Less Stuff will feature staying on target, little decisions, and big priorities. Maintaining focus on what you most want to achieve in the face of a world of distractions is hard, but you can do it – even when you don't always have anyone above you helping to maintain that big picture perspective. Come hear about techniques which can help you in your work—whether you're part of a team or working on your own. Learn how to make your hour-to-hour decisions serve your longer-term priorities.

Posted on May 12, 2012 at 12:09 PM in Getting Started | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Creating the confidence to relax and love what you do

It's easy to waste time worrying that you haven't done something you should have done when you don't have a clear picture of what you're currently committed to—both to others and to yourself.

The solution to that problem has three parts: A system, a habit, and a piece of permission you give yourself. I learned what I think is the best version of the first two of these from productivity guru David Allen's great book Getting Things Done and his writings and lectures on the topic since, but some of it boils down to good advice any of us might have gotten from a parent or grandparent. "Write it down" and "Measure twice, cut once" are just another way of talking about these same two ideas. As for the third, it is in essence the Discardian mantra: "Let it go".

The system part is to get this stuff out of your head (and your calendar and your inboxes, etc.) and keep it in one master place. That place might be a digital tool (like OmniFocus) or it might be as simple as a paper notebook. Whatever it is, make it easy to get your ideas and commitments into it as soon as they cross your mind.

Constant and fast capture has several benefits. Obviously, one is that you're more likely to remember your ideas and obligations if you write them down. Another is that the faster and simpler you make it to capture these things—by using OmniFocus's quick entry shortcut, for example, or by always having that master notebook with you—the harder it is for those thoughts to seriously distract you from another task at hand. You can park the thought in the right place and carry on with what you were already doing. The last big benefit is that the more you trust and use your system, the better you become at focusing on the right things at the right time.

As writer and teacher Clay Shirky said, "Behavior is motivation filtered through opportunity." In order to be making the right choice of what to do next, you need to understand your motivations (as I discussed in my last post) and make sure you have a complete and current picture of your obligations and options. When you know what you want to achieve and what you've said you'll do, it's much easier to identify the best match between the current opportunity—including your available resources and energy level—and the tasks on your list. But look out: If you don't have a purpose-driven list, other motivations will take over.

This is where the habit comes in. Until you pull back and consider those tasks (and the projects of which they are a part) in light of your goals and values, they can feel like a giant, depressing pile of undifferentiated to-do's.

How do you transform all that stuff you want to do (or someone else wants you to do) into something which will motivate you and keep you calm? You review it regularly. Every week you quickly look over the most important things. Periodically, you review the less important things. As you do that (along with looking at the past and coming couple weeks on your calendar), you'll add any commitments you haven't captured yet and you'll cross off those things which are complete or no longer necessary. By doing this every week, you will be able to trust on the days between that you will be soon returning to that big picture view where any date-bound obligations can be identified and scheduled. During this review—ideally through the very structure you use to organize things within your system, as I discussed last time—you will remind yourself of where these tasks and projects fit in relation to your higher level goals and the roles you want to be playing in the world.

It's easy to resist doing a review—it can take a couple hours for most busy people. But, as David Allen points out, "The additional amount of time and energy that you’ll have to spend, caught in the 'last minute' syndromes which will arise from avoiding a Weekly Review, so far outweigh what the Review requires, pure economics demand that you stop and do it – now!"

One of the things which keeps the review more manageable is to only be looking at the important stuff every single week; other things can be revisited on slower cycles. Use those shiny buckets I talked about last time—the roles you currently want to be playing in the world—as the identifier for what is important right now. For example, if you've currently got a bucket labeled "Awestruck Parent of a Beautiful Newborn Baby" now is unlikely to be the time that you also have in play that bucket labeled "Beginning But Getting Better Marathon Runner". It's fine to quickly note any less important ideas for the future—so you quit trying to carry them around in your head—but focus your time and energy on the projects and tasks for your active roles.

That brings me to the last element of solving the problem of worrying you haven't done everything you should and that is granting yourself permission to define "should". All of us can pile far more expectations on ourselves than any one person could achieve, let alone achieve while enjoying a happy, relaxing, rewarding life. Whether it's a single task, an entire project, a goal requiring multiple projects, or even something as big as a role you play in the world, you are in charge of deciding where it falls in your priorities. It might be currently active, it might be inactive and something you'll review and perhaps revive in the future, or you might exercise "completion by deletion" and drop it from your lists entirely. As I've said before, you can do anything, just not everything. Recognize that you will change over the years and filter your expectations of yourself to maximize your happiness and service to your highest values.

It is that permission to let go which is one of the essential ingredients to sticking with a system like this (and to getting back on track when you veer). Productivity guru and humorist Merlin Mann noted that "The danger of tracking everything is setting yourself up to a) have to keep revisiting them and maybe b) feel bad about not doing." This danger led to my labeling the inactive section of my system as "Things to think about again sometime".  Thus I remind myself that these inactive things are not a commitment to do, just an acknowledgement of a thought that I will reconsider at some point in the future, so it can get off my mind now.

Getting stuff out of your head and safely parked somewhere in your system—whether paper or digital—combined with picking today's top few priorities is vastly more productive than perfect fiddly management of all possible tasks. The best systems will support all three aspects I've discussed. They will make it easy to capture an idea for later without losing focus on your current task. They will support weekly review for the important stuff and less frequent reviews for the lower priority things. They will enable marking projects inactive and getting them out of the way of your current focus.

Constant capture to a trusted system, weekly reviews, and choosing to let go of some expectations previously laid on yourself are powerful tools, but can be tough to get into constant use. The value of such organization and habit change can be profound, though. Coach Clarissa Rodriguez said, ''Even if you only save an extra ten minutes a day, over the course of a year that adds up to forty hours... Who couldn't use an extra week in their year?''

Posted on March 22, 2012 at 02:03 PM in clearing your head, Getting Started, prioritizing, working clearer | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Keeping roles, goals, and projects aligned for success

Ideally, our hour-to-hour decisions should serve our highest values. But how can we encourage this simultaneously strategic and tactical behavior in ourselves? My solution is to organize the way we think about projects and tasks to be in alignment with the way we prioritize our goals and the values they represent.

Take some big-picture contemplative time away from distractions to think about who you are and want to be. What fundamental beliefs drive how you relate to the world? What roles do you play?

You can start by identifying the big areas in your life (e.g., family or other relationships, work, creative expression, social responsibility), but push down to greater detail and articulate to yourself the roles in which you manifest these. In the book, I refer to these roles as "shiny buckets" and I believe you really can't be effective over time if you're trying to carry more than five or six of them at once. Its fine to periodically swap out those buckets and emphasize different roles (with their different goals and projects), but focusing on a few at a time is what creates success and avoids overload.

Within those buckets are your goals, and the projects that you use to achieve them. Again, you can only handle so many at once and focusing on fewer makes for faster and less painful accomplishment. If one of your buckets is very full (many simultaneous goals and projects) or very heavy (involving tasks that require exceptionally high amounts of time or emotional energy), you should lighten your load of other buckets to compensate.

Identify your buckets.

Now imagine yourself faced with a personal or family crisis. What's the first bucket you'd set down? What next? What could wait when a real emergency came up? This exercise serves two purposes: 1) To remind yourself that you are allowed to set a bucket down when you need to and pick it up again when you're ready; 2) To reveal to yourself the priority order of your roles and therefore of the goals and projects they contain.

Reflect that priority order in whatever system you use to track your goals, projects, and tasks. Review it regularly—quarterly is good, I find—to confirm that these are still your current buckets and that they are still in the right priority order.

By reflecting your buckets as the core organizing principle in whatever system you use to track your tasks (e.g., as folders in OmniFocus or as flagged sections in a paper notebook), they are automatically prioritized. When you review your projects on a weekly basis, you will be approaching them in the order that echoes your higher vision for yourself.

Executive Christie Hefner said, "Be sure you’re true to what you believe... I would argue that the way to do that is to spend less time thinking about what you’re doing and more time thinking about what you represent."*

Writer and Kirtsy founder Laura Mayes, in her session "Be Your Own Boss: Create a Life You Love" with Maggie Mason at SXSW Interactive conference in 2010, put it even more succinctly, "Be really solid on what your intention is."

By making time for the big picture thinking that enables structuring your to-do system around your fundamental priorities, you give yourself the daily freedom to spend more time doing and less time figuring out what you should do next.

Posted on March 18, 2012 at 12:42 PM in Getting Started, prioritizing, setting goals, working clearer | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Recovering from Chaos

It's all very well to want to look at the big picture of goals and projects, but what do you do when you're down in the trenches and the trenches are full of junk that's piled up while you were too busy?

First, don't beat yourself up. Everyone has things spin out of control sometimes, especially at holiday time. Major life changes, happy and sad, can pull you out of your routines of maintenance despite your best intentions. Other changes can come along which necessitate a new baseline of how much organization your home and life need for you to feel calm and on top of it all.

So, where do you start when you realize that you've got to turn this mess around and transform it into something that doesn't make you wince?

Looking at a room full of things which are out of place can be overwhelming. Don't try to tackle it all at once.

Decisions are tiring, so the trick is to make the most of every one you make. Look for the easiest possible decision and start there.

For example, that cough drop wrapper on the floor there by the sofa. That can go in the trash. There is no acceptable second use for cough drop wrappers. Mmmm, away into a trash bag with it.

But don't stop there: You've got a useful decision you can leverage, painlessly. ALL cough drop wrappers can go. In fact, since they're pretty much the same thing, all candy and food wrappers can go. Walk around for a couple minutes with that trash bag ignoring everything but dead wrappers of edible things.

Nothing else in the pile matters right now except those things that match the current game of Concentration you're playing. You don't have to play long, just start playing more often.

Decide one kind of thing on which you can take the same action and then see how many matches you can get in a few minutes strolling through the house. Here are some example rounds of the game:

- full trash and recycling containers get dumped in the big bins;

- used dishes not in the kitchen move to the kitchen;

- catalogs move to recycling;

- mail to be processed goes all together in one stack in your inbox;

- clothes that need dry cleaning or repairs go into a basket by the door;

- bills in your inbox go in one stack with your checkbook on your desk (everything that's not a bill can stay in the inbox).

Don't worry about the next round; just play this one, briefly, right now.

 

Tell me some rounds you've played today!

 

Posted on January 9, 2012 at 09:33 AM in Getting Started | Permalink | Comments (12) | TrackBack

Finding the core of who you are

Maggie Mason, when speaking on finding your passion, suggested that you ask, "What do I do when I'm sick and I have no energy to do anything and can't sleep?"

Look for the thing you'll do even when you're tired.

See where that intersects with the skills on your resume. Notice topics you keep going back to, even as other aspects of your life and career change.

It's this "core of who you are" stuff for which you want to be making space.

Posted on January 3, 2012 at 11:39 AM in Getting Started, stretching your mind | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

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