Friday, April 1, 2016

More Productive Than Ever Before

It's no April fools joke: 2016 is 25% over.

I'm really happy with how this year has gone so far. I think this year (really the 2015-2016 school year), I have started making better use of my time. This has helped me reach more goals. Honestly, in large part, I really believe this is due to using my Life Planner.

If you too are looking to have a most productive year, these are some things I'm doing differently:

Committing to Dates: In the past, I sometimes had lofty ideas about things I wanted to do like "oh, it'd be good to do more programs at the writing center," but this year, I just put firm dates on the calendar, got people to promote the events, and this forced me to plan the programs. Instead of waiting around for myself to do the work, I just set a firm deadline, which forced me to get the work done. The programs turned out great because I already knew I had an audience signed up to attend, so I was incentivized to do my best.

NO Excuses: For the last eight months, I have worked out an average of five times a week, every week. If you would have told me this would be me nine months ago, I would have said "no way!" In the first three months of 2016, I logged 63 workouts in 91 days (that's working out 7 out of every 10 days). I don't have any secret other than NO excuses. For instance, I normally attend barre until 6:45PM Thursdays, but when my friend's birthday party was at 5:00PM yesterday, I worked out at 8:15AM instead. On Fridays, I can only go to class at 6:00AM, so guess who wakes up at 5:00AM? When yoga got canceled this Wednesday, and it was already too late for barre class, I found a free advanced yoga class and enjoyed 50 minutes of yoga in my living room. With fitness in particular, I also stopped worrying about my weight or what I look like. I'll write more about that soon, but essentially, I just decided working out is important to me for the sake of staying healthy and that's it!

No Excuses doesn't just apply to fitness. I had a goal of submitting to a conference and submissions were due yesterday. I wanted to write a short story, so I worked on it for hours and hours leading up to the deadline. I would work, go work out, eat dinner, and spend several hours writing. I would send the draft to Brendan or my friend Allie, get notes, and repeat the process the next few days, making corrections. This brings me to my next point...

Only Set Goals You CARE About: My experiences these past three months have proven to me that if you want to do something, you just do it. The goals I set but didn't meet (for instance, organizing my papers and books after starting on The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up process), I now realize are goals that I honestly didn't care so much about (I did organize my closet, and I stuck with Kon Mari's methods). Sure, maybe I want the result (the cleaner house), but I don't care about the process or the journey. So, I realized, if I want to write more for instance, I have to care about the process of doing the work (not just having the outcome of a new story). Also, I have to ask myself WHY I want something now. When I approached fitness a means to be X size or weigh X pounds, I never committed to it for that long. Likewise, if I approach writing as a means to being published, I'll probably lose focus. For me, I have to find some larger reason (for instance, I want to write because it makes me feel excited, brings me personal satisfaction, and gives me an outlet to express all the crazy things I'm thinking of). Please note that for a different person, writing as a means of getting published may be a wonderfully incentivizing reason; I'm using my feelings as examples, not arguing these should be everyone's motivations.

Stop Wasting Time on The Computer/Netflix: Have you ever considered just how much time you waste online and watching television and felt really negative about it? Me too. That's why I started being more careful about how much time I'm spending on the computer and whether not what I'm doing is really important. Here are the following activities I actually enjoy online: checking to see if I have any non spam emails, checking Facebook about twice a day, reading interesting/inspiring articles and stories, writing my blog, and reading other blogs. Here are the things I have to do online: check email, grade, manage my online course. My new rule is, I constantly question myself and say "does this matter?" Sometimes, I find I'm wasting time on something silly like a quiz I found on Facebook, and I'll close the quiz right in the middle and sometimes even say out loud "this doesn't matter." When I tried to watch Fuller House on Netflix and realized it really wasn't that good (once the nostalgia wore off), I just stopped watching. We started House of Cards, but we're savoring it, not binging on it. In general, I'm trading screen time for reading, working in the yard, relaxing in the bath, and writing, and these things bring me more pleasure and also tie to my next point...

Go to Bed Earlier: Monday and Tuesday nights, I was so wound up from writing that I didn't take my own advice here, and the result was that I didn't feel good. Lately, I'm really trying to establish an earlier bedtime. If I need to wake up at 6:15, I try to be asleep by 11:15, which means ideally, I'd be in bed and reading by 10:45PM (which means I have to start getting ready for bed at 10:30PM). When you're watching Netflix, and an episode ends at 10:00PM, it's so tempting to watch "just one more;" yet, for me at least, that episode really causes me to be tired the next day, so it's not worth it. On Monday and Tuesday, I ended up staying up so late because I was on the computer. I couldn't fall asleep for the longest time. We've all read about how the light from computers and TVs causes your brain to not start shut down mode. My new thing has been starting a sleep routine 45 minutes in advance of when I want to actually be asleep. It takes me about 15 minutes to get ready, and then I read in bed for 30 minutes. The reading is very soothing, and I find myself drifting off faster. I wrote this post on ditching the snooze button. Daylight savings was terrible for me, but now I'm readjusted and back to not snoozing.

I hope these tips help you to have a most productive second quarter of 2016 (second quarter, what am I, a business student? Whatever). I am very much looking forward to and excited for the weekend because the following things are happening: birthday celebrations, the re-opening of the farmer's market, a crawfish boil, bend and beer (yoga in the beer garden), our final cheese shipment came today and, of course, Shark Tank and 20/20 (do you people know me at all by now?!)

Plus, we still have half of this leftover (but not for long!):

I also need to tell you guys that this taco recipe in the current issue of Shape magazine is like WORTH IT. It made enough for dinner for the two of us on both Monday and Wednesday nights. If you are looking for a great vegetarian taco recipe, this is IT!

Happy Weekend!

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