Every month or two, I plan to give you an update on my Word of the Year since my 4th Big A word is Accountability. Also, I'm hoping to inspire some conversation around your words of the year and how they are going (or not).
My word of the year is Declutter. Honestly, it was the least attractive of my front runners because I knew it would be the most challenging. I see this word as focusing on 3 major areas:
The physical space aspect is going well. I've gotten my whole family involved, and we made some improvements. I've taken 3 bags of clothes and 2 boxes of toys and other items to Goodwill, and I've thrown away almost an equal amount. Here are some before and after pictures because who doesn't love those? Cici's closet before and after (hamming it up for effect...):
My desk before and after (yay! I have a lovely workspace now!):
And a couple more after only pics...believe me, the before was impressively bad. The first two are my older (and messier) daughter's closet, and the last picture is of the youngest's book shelf.
Turns out that decluttering the way I use my time is much, much harder. I'll admit it, though it is hard to, but I am addicted to my phone. My pattern is this: grab my phone. Check my personal e-mail. Check my work e-mail. Check facebook. Check headlines (and occasionally follow one to the whole article). Rinse and repeat...an embarrassing amount of times per day.
I know I could be using my time better. I could read books. I could write more blog posts. I could do more marketing. I could create a coaching curriculum for kids. I could get started on writing a book. I have so many ideas, and yet I default to my useless cycle of checking and rechecking my phone. Blah.
I recently gave a workshop on creating (or breaking) habits. Oh the irony! In my research, I learned that your environment and your systems are more important than your "will power." Will power waxes and wanes, but if you have good systems in place, you don't have to fight with yourself so often.
Again, easy to understand in theory...harder to put into practice. Despite all the logical reasons to cut down screen time, I am resistant to the change. However, knowing I was going to be writing this blog post inspired me to implement a new system...this morning. And I think it's going to be a game changer.
I have a morning ritual. I wake up before the kids. I feed the dogs, make the coffee, let the dogs out and sit and drink first cup in solitude. I also complete a round of Duolingo (if you haven't hear of this, it's an awesome language learning app--I'm trying to learn Spanish) and the daily mini crossword from the New York Times app. Then I let the dogs in and complete my first cycle of e-mail, facebook, headlines roulette. After that, it's usually time to wake up the kids. I enjoy this, but does it serve me? I can justify the Spanish lesson and crossword--if you don't use it, ya lose it, right? But this ritual is almost giving me permission to start the vicious cycle that repeats all day long.
I was listening to a podcast about routines and rituals and while it wasn't all applicable, one idea stuck with me. One of the speakers was talking about the book Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss (which I now have on order) and one of the recommendations in the book is a 5-minute journaling exercise. You respond to 3 prompts: 1. 3 things you are grateful for. 2. This day would be great if...(complete sentence with 3 things you'd like to do) 3. I am...(complete with 3 personal affirmations).
This morning, I tried it. I didn't touch my phone. I came down, drank a big glass of lemon water (another added healthy ritual), fed my dogs, made the coffee, and sat down to journal. It literally took 5 minutes...maybe even less. Then, I allowed myself to complete the Spanish lesson and crossword, but I didn't look at my e-mail or social apps until after breakfast...and then, I did it on my laptop, not may phone.
I won't say it changed my behavior for the rest of the day. I still checked my phone several times, but definitely fewer than the day before. And I completed the 3 things that I defined would "make this day great." I made a big pancake breakfast for the first snow day we've had in years, finished clearing my desk, and I wrote this blog post. Writing those intentions helped declutter my mind so that when I had some time, I went to work. I'm going to keep at it and I'll let you know how it goes in my next update. In the meantime, I'd love to know: How are you honoring your word of the year so far?