Hey there, remember me?

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So it’s been quite awhile since I’ve written anything here.  Summer, as always, got super busy and I decided for once to really just live in the moment (that sounds so cliché) and not do any projects.  I always hoped that as an adult I would one day happen upon a perfect formula of keeping up on long term planning, short term planning and living in the moment all at the same time.  I’m beginning to realize that it’s usually a messy mosaic of doing what suits your life at the moment.  So this summer instead of training and planning for every moment I decided to spend as much time as possible hang out with friends and it was worth every second.

But as summer faded away I felt that project urge bitting once again 🙂 My latest project and obsession is organizing my house and belongings using the KonMari method.  I love organizing, love it.  I’ve read dozens of books about it, get really excited about new organizing products and have organized my own stuff countless of times… for fun!  Now I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but whether you like organizing, or if you just need to organize, this book/ method is the best one I’ve encountered.

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This book is the first one I’ve read that really has some new ideas (including some that seem crazy) and doesn’t just rehash the same old organizing ideas you find in every magazine.

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If you had no idea that there were whole magazines dedicated to storage and organizing… welcome to heaven.

Most of the book is spent explaining the process and stories of her former clients.  She does actually claim that if you go through the whole process correctly and completely you will never have to organize again.  That seems like quite the claim, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

Toward the last third of the book she explains why organizing has the power to really change people’s lives.  She did a great job of explaining something that I have felt with organizing but never put into words.  Basically by going through your stuff and keeping only the items that give you joy and pleasure you really answer some key questions about yourself.  What do you value, what do you love, what are your passions?  These are key questions that a lot of people struggle with.  Even if you know the answers it’s amazing how your belongings don’t always reflect those answers.  As she says in the book:

“In essence, tidying ought to be the act of restoring balance among people, their possessions, and the house they live in.”

and now… on to the method! Of course this is a simplified version of what she suggests, but it’s the key points. 

First, you gather the items

She suggests you go through items by category instead of organizing by room or area.  I’ve always done the opposite, organizing a specific area like a closet or a storage area.  I have to concede i really like her method better.  It helps you get a better picture of how much of the item you have spread throughout the house.

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turns out I do have a lot of shoes!

Second, you get rid of some of those items

She has a very specific (and in my opinion very Japanese) way of discarding items.  This part is always the hardest part for anyone organizing.  I mean if it were easy to throw your things away, no one would need help organizing!  But of course people get attached to their possessions, this is why she suggests talking to them…yes I’m serious.  With each item you pick up you should ask yourself if this item sparks joy in you.  If the answer is no, than it is time to discard it.  You can’t think along the lines of, “but what if I need it”  or “ it was so expensive!”.  Now you take the item and you thank it for it’s use and for whatever lesson it taught you.  Maybe you learned that you really don’t like wearing 4 inch heels so matter how cute they look, or that orange isn’t your colour after all. Thank these items and send them on their way to mangle someone else feet. Donate what you can, but bag them up right away and don’t go back through that bag!

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My eyes miss you, but my feet sure don’t

While I felt silly at first talking to my possessions, I was surprised how much it helped to just thank them for their service and say goodbye.  When it’s hard to let go of something it’s usually for one of two reasons: attachment to the past or fear of the future.  Sometimes the items confronts you with a poor choice you made.  Acknowledging that poor choice and letting the item go does a lot for your psyche.  In fact as you go through the list, letting go of things gets easier and you can feel the weight of all these items lifting off your shoulders.  One last important fact of letting go: don’t focus on the idea of getting rid of things, focus on choosing the items that you love and spark joy in you. Changing this mindset is really critical to letting things go.

Third, you find home for the kept items

Now that you are left with the items that excite and inspire you, put them back in their “home”.  For most things you already know where that is, they just couldn’t all fit there before.  She actually has very little in the book dedicated to the storage part, no fancy storage contraptions, no magical suggestions.  It’s quite simple, when you have less stuff there is less stuff you have to store.  She also believes that simple storage solutions are much better, no need to think up complicated storing strategies.  It’s the Occam’s razor theory of storage solutions.  One other major point she she believes you should keep all of the same item in the same place, especially for storage.  

Last, repeat for all your items!

She suggests doing this process for your items in a very specific order.  Here is a very detailed checklist I found online.  It’s the one I have been using and i really like it.  Over time she has found this order to be the easiest for her clients to follow.  She says it goes from easiest to hardest to get rid of.  For me clothes are always really hard so I bet the list is somewhat subjective, but I am following her method, so I will follow her list!

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you can get it here

One final rule, don’t discard other people’s items.  Even if you know they won’t miss it, it’s just not a good idea.  If you are trying to inspire other people to organize and get rid of their things, try to remember the following:  

1.) You can’t change other people and trying to do so will usually result in the opposite of what you are hoping for.

2.) Often once you start successfully organizing your stuff and living in the dreamland of simplified possessions, other people living with you will be more inclined to follow suit.

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seriously, who wouldn’t covet these closets?!?!

I’m going to be tackling this list over the next month or two, and I really curious if it will help me simplify my belongings.

The daily grind

I’ve been following my new schedule pretty well for the last month.  I never quite hit everything, but it’s much better than it’s ever been before.  I’m proud of that, and I can tell I am much more focused on my specific goals now.  However that leaves me to wonder what is the point of this blog.  When I started I had a lot of side projects I really wanted to get to.  Now I really want to focus on training and circus work.  Funny as it sounds, I’m not sure what I would keep writing about.  So i’m not sure if I will continue this blog, but I will definitely continue stretching!

Here’s my latest compliation:

2015 – learning to follow a routine

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I decided to recenter in 2015.  I have been putting a lot of focus onto my monthly projects, which has been fun, but it’s been taking time away from a lot of the things I really care about.  It was important for me last year to expand and not feel like I was only thinking about work all the time. Now I feel I need to focus on creating and maintaining a better routine before I continue to branch out in my free time.  I also feel like I a lot of my projects were for naught – I wasn’t able to add it into my daily life in anyway.

I’ve also really started to examine the simple truth that I can not learn everything and I need to let go of that impulse.

In December I created a daily schedule.  I have been tweaking it for the last several weeks and I will probably have to continue to tweak it over time.  I really do overestimate the amount I can do in a day, but underestimate what I can accomplish in a month or more.  I think the hardest part so far for me it slowing down my expectations and just committing to the knowledge that it’s a long process.

My focuses are: stretching, training, more time spent on the business side of work, and improving my spoken french.  I also have a couple minor focuses that I want to do everyday, but are more mindless: recording my business expenses daily and doing my rehab exercises.

To spend more time on these areas means creating habits for them in my everyday routine. It also means working on my largest undoing- procrastination by research.  I get fearful when I don’t see instant progress, which feed into my need to research, to find the perfect training method before beginning. I need to break that cycle. I am beginning to really realize that beginning is more important than perfection.

Area #1: Stretching

When I say stretching, most people probably think of this:

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However, I am definitely thinking more like this:

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I have an on-again, off-again relationship with stretching, but I’m in for the long haul… for a year.  I want to truly see what stretching 3-5 times a week for a year will change.  I’ve had high expectations for a long time, always telling myself “if I only trained a little harder”.  However, I might have to face the reality that I will never been as flexible as I want.  Before I can tell anything though I need to test it.  So here’s my goal:  I will aim to stretch 5 days a week, with 3 as an absolute minimum.

So, in the spirit of beginnings, here is a video of my starting off point for consistent stretching:

Hello December, hello routine

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As I mentioned in my last post, in December and for the next year, I am trying to focusing more on my day to day routines than on a specific project.  I want to change from marathoning through projects to doing a set amount of work everyday.  I make schedules all the time, however I usually end up making impossible to achieve schedules, then get frustrated that I couldn’t achieve them.  In retrospect that seems pointless, but I really always put the blame on my effort instead of looking at making the schedule more reasonable.  And then assure myself that next time I would try even harder.  It’s part of a perfectionism trait of mine, that I have only recently seen how it can negatively affect me.  So I’m going to make the schedule easier.  There is a part of me that it really pains to do that… but I’ve been up against this wall so many times I have to make a change.  I am prepared for it to be difficult and I’m prepared to work at it all year.

Monday – Friday:

30 mins/1 hour – emails and businessy work

4 hours – training

30 mins – French

30 mins /1 hour – Projects

15 mins – money

5 mins – rehab

Saturday:

30 mins /1 hour – emails/business work

15 mins – money

5 mins – rehab

FUN!

Sunday:

1 hour – reset for next week

15 mins – money

5 mins – rehab

As for monthly projects, I’m going to change that a bit too.  I am going to focus on a couple themes over the year that I think will make me happier in the long run.  Although I might have to throw some instant gratification projects in there too. Long term growth may be make me happy eventually, but I’ll never make it if there isn’t fun along the way.

I’m still working on my themes so I’ll write more about them in another post, but here are some of the ones I’m think about:

Love my home

Love winnipeg

friends

family

communities

causes?

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Letting go & using up

I feel like the last couple years were very externally growth oriented.  Learn skills, try new hobbies, add, add, add, more, more, more.  They were all really fun, but I was always left with a feeling of, how will I possibly add this into my day, into my life.  I’ve only recently really accepted that I can’t do everything and begun the process of letting go. This year I want to focus more on routine and inward growth.  A year of getting closer to what I care about and whom I care about.

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I hope I grow as fast and strong as bamboo!

A change is coming…

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…Well that sounds more ominous than I meant.

It’s been a blast doing these projects  the past two years. I have learned so much about both myself and the topics at hand. In learning more about myself I’ve come to the conclusion that I need to change things up a bit. I am so happy I’ve done all these projects, but I having trouble fitting all these new habits and ideas into my daily life. Daily life, habitual action is how things really change long term. My projects have been fun one or two month mini obsessions, which more often than not fall to the wayside as I start a new project. Which in itself is fine, not all my projects were meant to impart lasting change on me. Recently though I’ve been using the projects as more of a procrastination tool, choosing the project or other really short term goals over the long term habitual work I need to be doing.  I’ve always loved a good marathon project.  The kind you lock yourself up in a room with for the whole weekend and only emerge when it’s complete.  Funny thing those marathon projects though, that’s not helpful for everything.  Shorter chunks of habitual work, daily will make a larger impact.  I know this, I believe this, and it’s time to focus on these ongoing, daily habits.

The last two years of projects have really helped my understand some of my personality quirks… aka flaws.

“you can do anything, but not everything”

I don’t know why I have such a desire to do everything, and everything all at once, but it doesn’t seem to be going away. Maybe it never will disappear on it’s own, but I have begun to see it in it’s true light: it’s a vice, it’s looking for an easy fix and it’s not helping me.

“perfect is the enemy of good”

I’ve always been a perfectionist, but I used to feel almost proud about it. It means I’m a hard worker who strives for the best, what’s wring with that right? It also means I never feel like anything is good enough and I stop things before I finish rather than doing them poorly.

“stop researching, start doing”

I can plan things forever. Always reading another article, researching another method, or watching another training video. Research is my go-to form of procrastination.  It makes simple tasks take forever and it fills my brain with unnecessary obsessive thinking, so I’m less free to be creative.  I do make excellent lists though.

I used to hide from my bad habits and I never would have wanted to share them with the world, I mean I want to be perfect. p.s. I definitely have more than three. But now I realize it’s much more powerful to know your faults, your tells, your coping mechanisms. That way I can recognize them when they are happening and steer myself back on course. They are part of my character and I don’t think I can rid myself of everything negative or counter productive, but I can recognize them, catch myself and then get on to the work that needs to be done.

So starting in December I am going to change it up a bit.  I’m going to focus on getting more consistent with my daily habits (a routine!) while working on smaller projects centered around themes that will help make my daily life more productive and happy (hopefully!).

Here’s to a happy December!!

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The problem with facts…

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…is they are difficult to ignore once proven!

I recently couldn’t resist the idea of watching TV while I did work. So I decided to at least make it a test of how much multitasking affects my ability to do something. So I put a random show on the ole’ netflixs and proceeded to work on a crochet project. I was making cute heart shaped coasters for my friend’s upcoming wedding. Without tv (but with coffitivity!) I managed to make one in 42 minutes. With the TV on it took me one hour 10 minutes, plus I messed up the beginning 3 times which I didn’t even count on the timer. Also as an attempt to make it as fair a comparison as possible, I made the one with no TV first, so my second one (with TV) should have gone even faster!

Ugh, now I have proof I can’t ignore. I still don’t really understand the allure though. I don’t like watching TV enough that I just want to do that, but whatever else I engage in ultimately suffers. Hopefully the less I do it, the more I will miss it… but I would love to understand the “why” I do it too!

 

 

A few productivity tools to help you through your day

 

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I am always interested in new ways to be more productive.  For the most part when I get enticed to read the latest, “121 ways to make you the epitome of productivity” I finishing having learned nothing new, and actually having just lessen my level for productivity by reading said list.  There are a few things that have stood out though, they have been helping me quite a bit over the last few days of trying to not multitask.  Here are my top favourites:

1.) coffitivity

I don’t know exactly what it is about a coffee shop that makes me so much more productive.  I always assumed it was getting away from my house and minimizing distractions.  I’m sure that helps, but maybe it was just the hum of people working that helps me out.  Coffitivity is exactly what I need in the background to get me to work.  A vague “noise atmosphere” that isn’t TV or music.  Whatever the scientific explanation is, it works wonders for me.

2.) Pomodoro Techinque

via wikipedia – “The Pomodoro Technique is a time management method developed by Francesco Cirillo in the late 1980s. The technique uses a timer to break down work into intervals traditionally 25 minutes in length, separated by short breaks. These intervals are known as “pomodori”, the plural of the Italian word pomodoro for “tomato”. The method is based on the idea that frequent breaks can improve mental agility.”

My biggest hurdle to working on a task is starting.  Once I start I can keep my focus pretty well and for a long time.  So for me this technique is helpful because the idea of spending only 25 mins on a task doesn’t seem overwhelming at all.  Once I start usually 4 or more cycles fly by without a problem… especially with coffitivity on in the background!  There are several apps revolving around this technique, but you can also just use a timer, or this website (Tomato timer).

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3.) The Email Game

This website is pretty straight forward as well.  Basically you enter your email address and you race against a clock to respond to emails.  I’m not sure why I am better at playing this “game” than just answering emails when they come in, but I am 🙂

 

Those are definitely at the top of my list, along with everything I learned from, “Getting Things Done”.  So far I can absolutely see how not multitasking is improving my ability to actually complete tasks.  It’s just a matter of continuing to put in effort to make not multitasking a habit. Is there a word for not multitasking??  single-tasking,  mono-tasking, unitasking, or just tasking?  Does anyone know ?

 

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