new rules, one little word, realize

New Rules

Six months ago (where has the year gone?!) I decided to focus on realizing, using both definitions of the word to understand what my priorities are, as well as make some personal goals become a reality. Although priorities are always shifting, I think I’ve done a pretty good job with the first part of my word. Additionally, I’ve spent a whole lot of time realizing what works and doesn’t work for me as I strive to give reality to all that I had hoped to accomplish this year. Now it’s time to work on that second part of my one little word, which brings me to

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New Rule: Once vertical, stay vertical.
I’ve gotten really good (too good, if you ask me) at waking up early; I’m often feeding the cat somewhere between 6:00 and 6:30. The problem is that I have a bad tendency of crawling back into bed to Facebook on my phone before finally rolling back out to start the day, which doesn’t do much to jumpstart my productivity.

New Rule: Once coherent, start working.
Much to my dismay, somewhere along the aging process, I’ve become a morning person. Like a chocolate-chip cookie, I’m at my best when fresh out of the oven. Too bad I often “waste” my most alert hours on activities that don’t require as much attention, which would be better attended to later in the day when I’m sleepy and feeling less motivated.

New Rule: Take your breaks away from the computer. And the kitchen.
Taking “five-minute” Facebook/Twitter breaks wind up sucking away much larger chunks of my time without me even noticing it. Taking breaks in the kitchen is adding chunks of weight to my bones. Until our house is completely unpacked, putting away contents from one box would be a good use of this time instead. After that, perhaps a trip to the mailbox, reading a chapter from my book, triaging pictures into my LOM system, or – brace yourself! – a quick exercise routine would work in lieu of standing in front of the open refrigerator.

New Rule: Don’t deny yourself that which makes you happy.
Why does my blog have very few entries this year? Why does my book sit unfinished on my hard drive? Why do so many scrapbooks sit empty on my shelf? Why does my pile of to-be-read books continue to grow while the number of books I’ve actually read remains stagnant? Because there’s this little voice inside my head that says I’m not allowed to do what I want to do until I’m “caught up” on X, Y, and Z. That voice needs to shut it. I have to work to live, but no matter how much I enjoy what I do, I shouldn’t be living to work. I need to take time everyday for me. I got SO good at this when I was in PA (I’m thinking being stranded in the snow-covered mountains for weeks at a time might have had something to do with this) but have since regressed to ignoring my needs.

New Rule: Stop collecting pretty paper and start using it.
That pretty paper I ogle at my local scrapbooking store that somehow makes it onto the checkout counter and into my house looks much better in scrapbooks than it does in a container. It’s time to stop being a scrapbook supply hoarder and start being a scrapbooker.

New Rule: Do what works.
I spent the better part of a year finding systems – writing schedules, bookending/using a timer, weekly goals – that work for me. When I moved a year ago and got out of my routine, I abandoned my systems and inexplicably never brought them back into my life. It’s time to put out the welcome mat!

New Rule: Get out of the house.
Whether it’s going out with friends, going to services, or going to a class, I always have a great time out of the house. It’s the making myself do it that’s the hard part. I am queen of excuses: I’m tired, I don’t feel great, it’s such a schlep across town. A few girlfriends and I have discussed implementing a weekly girls’ night – same time, same day every week, different activity – so that we have fewer excuses not to socialize.

New Rule: When overwhelmed, don’t bury your head in the sand.
I have become a master of avoidance. Feeling overwhelmed, I’ll pick up the remote or take a nap. Imagine how much more I’d get done if, instead, I chose one thing from my to-do list that was quick and easy to complete, did it, and then checked it off my list. I’m not saying I’m going to deprive myself of much-needed downtime, but I need to start being honest about my motivations. Am I taking a nap because I need to rest, or am I simply trying to put off an overwhelming task?

New Rule: Relearn how to use the phone.
As a preteen, my phone was physically attached to my ear. Thanks to email and social media, what’s attached instead are my fingers to my keyboard. Even when I do have my phone in my hand, it’s rare that it’s up to my ear; more likely, my fingers are texting, emailing, or scrolling. Digital communication is great, but it’s no replacement for hearing the sound of a friend’s voice.

New Rule: Be present.
I have such a nasty habit of letting my to-do list creep into my mind and cause me to either lose attention on what I’m doing or check my watch to see how many more hours I have left in the day to get stuff done. I would get so much more out of experiences if I would give my full attention to the “here and now.” Similarly, when I’m in my “work zone,” if I remember something that requires attention, I need to write it down on my to-do list and then Let. It. Go.

New Rule: Don’t let fear and perfectionism stop you before you even start.
What’s that saying about it being better to try and fail than never to have tried at all? I have so much I want to do, both big and small, and the only thing standing in my way is me. It’s time to get out of my own way.

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