My Favorite Strategy for Getting Things Done

I think I’ve mentioned in a previous post how I used to be a terrible procrastinator. I did. I would put things off endlessly or pretend there wasn’t a deadline. Then the task would hang over my head and nag at me until the guilt was overwhelming.

What holds us back from starting a project or doing a task? I think it is often because we don’t know where to start. We see the whole project as one enormous boulder and no way to get a grip on it to move it. My number one strategy to get a grip on the boulder is to break the project/task into manageable steps.

For example, making a photo book. I did a post recently on steps for making a photo book. These steps could be broken down into even more manageable steps. For example, the first step is gathering the photos. This step could be broken down into 3 steps. 1) Gather photos from Instagram. 2) Gather photos from Facebook. 3) Gather photos from computer. If you able to even just gather the photos from Instagram, you could check off that first step and voila! Progress! I think it’s super important to feel a sense of progress especially during a big project.

Just identifying these steps can also expose what piece of the project is the piece that is overwhelming you. A recent example from my own life is finding dental insurance for my husband. We’ve been putting some dental work off for some time (two years!) because we lacked the funds. We finally have the money to move forward and I signed him up for a dental plan. I expected I would get a confirmation email from the company, but some time passed and nothing came. I found myself paralyzed by this task. I realized that the first step was to call the company and this caused me to also realize that I was nervous about calling for some reason. For myself at least, I often find an emotional element that is preventing me from finishing a task or project.

What helps you get things done?

 

The Story of My Life

A month before my 9th birthday, I received my first journal as a Christmas present from my aunt. I didn’t particularly like the cover (naked baby cherubs), but it started 20 years of journaling for me. At the time I was really into using mechanical pencils because it’s what my dad used. My journals generally last at least 2 years. For a long streak of years, a different aunt would buy me a new journal as a birthday gift.

The first entry in my first journal

The first entry in my first journal

As I felt myself shifting and growing throughout the years, I would start rushing to finish the last pages so I could begin a fresh journal. During high school and college, I journaled the most prolifically. During this period I was particularly committed to using gel pens and wouldn’t journal if I didn’t have one with which to write. I have to admit, looking back, those gel pens were often so sparkly and metallic it is pretty hard to read my entries!

When I realized that Jan 1, 2016 would mark 20 years of journaling, I was pretty amazed. It’s hard to believe I’ve been chronicling my life, thoughts, emotions, joys, and pains for 20 years. It’s been a cathartic way to dump out the hurts and pains of life, a permanent record. A way to look back and even when I doubted my memory (or others did), to be able to look back and say, “That really happened.”

It’s also been a time to highlight special events in my life and has often turned out to be my only record of the people I’ve met over the years. When you’re in the midst of life, it’s hard to imagine ever forgetting these people, but I’ve been amazed how fast some names have slipped out of my long term memory. When I was in my senior year of high school, I was able to secure an internship at the juvenile court as a file clerk (back when I planned to become a lawyer). This was because of a woman named Margaret, whom I met through a different avenue. Although I’ve forgotten her name at times, I haven’t forgotten how she advocated for me and went out of her way for a 17 year old girl.

My journals over the years

My journals over the years

I journal much more infrequently now. The reason is threefold. First, I have so much so say that sometimes I just give up and don’t write anything at all. Second, I married my best friend and so I usually tell him stuff instead of journaling it. Third, sometimes I’m just too tired and overwhelmed to put anything to paper. I did do a pretty good job journaling both my pregnancies, but I did it on the computer because I just couldn’t keep up on paper.

I’m almost done with the journal I’m working through now. The timing is appropriate. This year has been one of enormous change for me and my husband. I’ll be shopping for a new journal soon. I’m looking for something smaller than I usually do, so I won’t feel obligated to fill a large page. Just something smaller, maybe 4”x6”, to jot down a few sentences each day about what is going on. This new season deserves a new journal.

5 Beauty Favorites

Hi! I’m sorry my posting has been so infrequent, but between various family birthdays (including my own daughter’s), my sister-in-law visiting from Taiwan, and the usual Christmas hubbub, I’ve been too tired to write much. Although I love the feeling of getting my makeup all done in the morning, I love taking it off just as much. I thought I’d share a couple of my favorite beauty products. I always enjoy reading about the products other women are using and gleaning tips.

Sephora 10 hr wear foundation. To be honest, until this last year, I almost never wore foundation. But lately, my skin has been very blotchy, erratic and prone to break outs. The best thing about Sephora’s foundation is the custom color matching they do at the Sephora store. I first bought some foundation there in the summer and lately felt like the shade was a little off. Sure enough, I needed to go one shade lighter. This is a liquid foundation that feels very lightweight and has a tiny bit of a flattering shimmer. Also, only $20. IMG_3158

MAC Matte lipstick. I’m pretty picky when it comes to lipstick, lip gloss, lip crayons, etc. I was looking for a really fun lipstick that would dry and stay on all day. This one is awesome and I love the shade. $17 at Nordstrom.

Neutrogena Naturals fresh cleansing & makeup remover. I have pretty sensitive skin and I’ve tried several things for makeup removal. Wipes tend to feel scratchy to me, plus they are expensive. I’ve done coconut oil but it usually leaves a film that gets in my eyes (doesn’t hurt, is just annoying). I tried a much more expensive version of the liquid makeup remover in an Ipsy bag I got, but I couldn’t stand the thought of paying $30 for makeup remover. Neutrogena’s version can be found at Walgreens and is only $10.

IMG_3159Baking Soda. Lucky you! This is 50 cents at the grocery store. I’ve been using baking soda for a face scrub sometimes, and best of all, as a lip exfoliant. This weather gets my lips all cracked and dry. The baking soda takes all the old lipstick and dead skin right off.

Bag Balm. This oh so glamorous product is also inexpensive. I apply this right after the baking soda lip scrub. It’s super hydrating. It’s also great for cracked heels or hands.

What are your favorite beauty products lately?

Hurry, Hurry!

When I think of being in a hurry, the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland comes to mind. He’s rushing along, muttering, glancing at his pocket watch. white-rabbit-with-watch-1-1I’m a “hurry” kind of person and I tend to move quickly even when there’s no need to do so. I feel like my sub conscious mantra for a while was, “Anything worth doing is worth doing quickly.”

After two little girls joined our family however….have you ever tried quickly doing dishes with two little ones pulling on you and getting into trouble? It can be downright aggravating being interrupted every other minute as I’m hurrying to get a task done.

When Abrielle was small, it occurred to me how often I was rushing through a task and pushing her to just bear with whatever I was trying to do. I asked myself why I needed to hurry. Sometimes we did have an appointment to get to, but more often I was hurrying for no good reason. Why not slow down and take an hour in Target if we needed to?

I love this quote by C.S. Lewis,

“The great thing, if one can, is to stop regarding all the unpleasant things as interruptions of one’s ‘own,’ or ‘real’ life. The truth is of course that what one calls the interruptions are precisely one’s real life — the life God is sending one day by day.”

This month I’ve been nearly hit in my car several times by people in a hurry. Don’t forget to slow down this season and savor some moments with the people you love.

Missing the Point

I feel like I’ve been circling this whole year. After the 4th trimester (the rough postpartum phase) ended with Alsea, I started to feel like a human being again and realized I wanted something for myself. Something that could be part of how I defined myself. Something that wasn’t about me being a mother. I’ve made lists. I’ve brainstormed. I made a brainstorming idea page where I listed every possible thing I could do and tried to draw connections.

Could I write? Could I blog? Should I sell something? Should I make something? Should I offer a service? My gut says that this “thing” that I’ve been missing is some type of creative endeavor. Although I enjoy blogging, I’m pretty sure it is not my “thing.” To be a successful blogger, one’s blog needs to have more of a main focus and be much more directed and consistent than mine is. But I like writing. I always have. I wrote a children’s picture book this fall and I’ve pitched it to a couple publishers. Not sure if that is supposed to be my “thing.”

My inbox is full of job listings for copyright and editing jobs I could try and acquire. But I don’t really want to do that. It doesn’t feel like the “thing.” So, once again, I’m circling, tossing out ideas and hoping something sticks.