Today’s post answers a series of reader’s question. You can read previous answers to readers’ questions here.
What change/habit/routine has made the most difference to your life in the last 9 years?
How do you make sure you keep to the plan you set for yourself for the day/week/month? i.e. do you get distracted at all and if yes how do you get back on track (or is it all ingrained habits by now)? Has this changed in the last 9 years?
What has changed the most for you in the last 9 years?
I love these questions! It is always great to take some time out and think about how we have changed, what we have improved at and what we would like to become better at. I will answer each question individually.
1. What change/habit/routine has made the most difference to your life in the last 9 years?
Exercise is known as keystone habit. Keystone habits are ones that have positive flow on effect through out the rest of your life.
This is how exercise acted as a keystone habit for me:
- Started getting up early to make sure I could fit exercise in.
- Started going to bed earlier so I could get up earlier.
- Started eating better so I could perform better in my exercise.
- Started reading more about exercise performance and implemented changes to the way I exercised.
- Introduced yoga and meditation to help offset the stress of high intensity exercise.
- Yoga and mediation allowed me to be more mindful in my approach to parenting and daily life.
- By being more mindful in my parenting, family harmony has increased.
2. How do you make sure you keep to the plan you set for yourself for the day/week/month? i.e. do you get distracted at all and if yes how do you get back on track (or is it all ingrained habits by now)? Has this changed in the last 9 years?
I would estimate that I naturally stick to my plan 80% of the time. There are still times when I do get distracted or procrastinate because I don’t want to do the task at hand. I find there are generally just two key reasons why this happens:
- I am tired.
- I have said yes to things that I really should have said no to.
To get myself back on track there are few things I do:
Get more sleep – it can seem counterintuitive when you have a lot of things on but you are much less effective and productive when you are tired. I never used to think this. If I had been flaky or distracted during the day, I would make myself finish things off later that night regardless of how tired I was. As a consequence the task would take me longer, the quality of work would be less and the next day I would feel even worse.
Freezing the calendar – when I have taken on too much, I will put a freeze on the calendar. It is easy to accept things in the future, because you think you will be less busy, but there is always and after affect to manage when you have been too busy. You need some time to regroup and recharge.
To do list – I used to be the sort of person that would add stuff on to my to do list, just so I could cross it off. My to do lists at times where so overwhelming that I would just ignore them. Now I use my to do list process to help me manage distraction and overwhelm.
I wrote about my to do list process in this post here but this is what it looks like in my day to day life. The list below is what I refer to as my master list. I start a new one every Sunday and add to it through out the week as I need to.
It is like a massive brain dump. I write down everything that is in my head that I think I need to do. I don’t however assume that I am going to get everything done in the week that I put down. It is more about taking the idea out of my head to leave space for me to me present. Once it is written down, I feel like I don’t have to hold on to it in case I forget it!
The list below is something that I may not necessarily do every week, but on weeks when I have many due dates and deadlines, I will sketch out the key tasks I need to achieve for work and home each day. This list keeps me focused and on track with the things that are most important for me to complete. If the week is less full, I will just write down each night the three key things I want to achieve for the day.
I also write my goal at the top of the page before I do anything else. This helps remind me what I am really working towards. So if I have to choose between a few tasks which one I can work on, I will choose the one that will help me move towards my goal.
Then for those days when I have to complete a lot of tasks for either work or home, I will break up my day into task chunks and allocate them to time slots. While it can seem quite rigid, I actually find it quite freeing. The list for the day is my anchor. I tackle a task and then refer back to the list as I need to and I don’t have to keep things in my head.
Knowing that I have planned the day out so I will achieve everything I need to, allows me to be present in the tasks that I am completing. I am not working on one thing but worrying about what else I have to do, as I know it is all sorted on my list.
What has changed the most for you in the last 9 years?
I have slowed down considerably. I no longer look to have something scheduled in for every second minute of the day. I create and enjoy white space in my life. Here are some examples of what I mean:
- I sit in the sun and eat my lunch, rather than work through lunch eating at my desk.
- I leave work unfinished when I finish work at the end of the school day and don’t finish it at night when the kids go to bed, rather I take some time to read or meditate before going to sleep.
- I take almost all of the school holidays off each year and I don’t run myself into the ground having everything scheduled before hand. I choose a sensible amount of work to do in advance and stick with that.
- I manage my phone, rather than it manage me. I don’t look at it first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I have it away from me a lot and I choose if I want to answer calls or not.
- I spend time thinking about what I am grateful for and enjoying the little moments of life, as opposed to worrying about ticking every single thing off my to do list.