Tuesday, April 20, 2010


I've been really out of things for the last two weeks online. First there was stress at work; not out of the ordinary, just a crunch period. Then there was a wake and a funeral. And then there was Wedding Stress. Everything fell by the wayside, and it occurred to me that, if the management of my life can so easily fall by the wayside, I must not have a good handle on managing my life.

But more importantly, I'm looking for motivation, I think. Motivation to keep chugging at long term goals despite short term challenges. What do you all do when you're having trouble with that?

Recently, I've been eating ice cream and watching Bones. Which is all well and good on its own, but not a good coping mechanism.

One of the most helpful tools I've found in motivating myself to do things I don't want to do is maintaining zero emails in my inboxes, Gmail, at work, and our physical mailbox. The satisfaction of having a big empty box in front of me inspires me to deal with items as they come it: either address the issue, file the issue for future reference, or just delete it. You'd be surprised what you can get away wth just deleting; the biggest lesson I've learned in the last month or so of doing this has been just how much information DON'T need to consume or store.

Doing this for our physical mail is more challenging - it's easy to take mail out of the mailbox everyday and throw away the junk, but items that don't require an immediate action wind up in piles on the kitchen table and even on top, not inside, the filing cabinet. Ideally, I'd have our filing cabinet downstairs near the mailbox so putting things away would be less of a chore, but I digress.

The concept is explained better and in greater detail elsewhere, just Google it, but that's what I've been doing.

Another of the things I've learned to increase my productivity is to think small. One of my biggest hurdles is getting overwhelemed by too many things to do or one thing to do that's just too big.

Like finding a hotel for my wedding guests to spend the night. I had no idea how to go about getting something lined up, so I started with one thing: I need a hotel within 30 minutes of our venue. A few quick Google searches and I had a list. The next thing I needed was a hotel with room options for around $100/night. I narrowed down the list. I also needed a hotel with enough rooms for my guests, so I crossed out all the bed and breakfasts. All of a sudden, I had a manageable task: call the four hotels left on the list and ask about group rates and transportation to and from our venue.

This isn't a new concept, its just one that I've seen myself learning.

I'm trying to apply the same principal to another goal: getting up earlier to work out and eat a healthy breakfast. I'm finding that, even though I know the long term reward of having a lovely, relaxing, healthy morning always outweighs the short term reward of staying in bed longer, I hardly ever follow through. In fact, I'll be hungry, but still get back in bed, leave for work with minutes to spare, and skip breakfast.

Any advice?

The other area I've had trouble getting motivated in has been, obviously, blogging. I think this is another instance where creating the habit is hard work, but once it's in place, it's easier to maintain. But how do you create a habit that requires you read, think, and write - like homework - every day? Or one that requires you to work out every day?

Maybe I should break taht into smaller pieces. Maybe I will write a blog post every day for the month of May, even if its just 300 words musing about something I read. Maybe I'll just aim to put sneakers, instead of flats, on every morning before taking Maddie out, whether I exercise or not.

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