We often live with a layer of distractions muffling us and keeping us from focusing our energy where we really want it.
Start building habits to cut through that noise.
- When you are not at work and you find yourself gnawing away at a coulda woulda shoulda set of thoughts about work, cut it short. Quickly - without getting distracted into reading new mail - open your email and send yourself a very concise note expressing the actions you want to take to resolve or improve the situation. Extract the constructive part from that fuss in your brain, dismiss the rest, send that email to your working life so you can get on with the off-duty part.
- If you're, as Mrs. Lovett says, always broodin' away on your wrongs what happened heaven knows how many years ago, quit sitting there nurturing that tension like a hen on an egg. Take one small immediate step to improve things - and I mean little and right now - then give yourself the rest of the day off from it.
That letter which is half practical questions about an upcoming family event and half guilt-slinging? Just answer the practical part courteously, refrain from any reciprocal slinging, and let go of the rest of that noise. That person you think must be mad at you for some dumb thing you did months ago that you've been afraid to contact? Find something small you can thank 'em for and send a postcard. "Just found myself listening to some Chet Baker and thought of you. Thanks for introducing me to the good stuff!" Open a door you've been holding closed; if they come through to reconnect, great, and if not, at least you aren't spending energy on worrying about it.
- Fretting over something you Should Be Doing? Shit or get off the pot. Sitting on the couch thinking "I really should be exercising"? 20 minutes non-stop action right now. Just do it. It's only 20 minutes and you could blow that checking on Twitter for cryin' out loud. Dishes in the sink? Do 'em now or decide at what time you will do them, set an alarm and relax as you wish until it goes off. Stack of unread books by the bed? Take all but the one you want to read right now away - make a "new arrivals" library shelf at home, representing them as possibility not obligation - and be sure to get anything you've figured out you really don't want to read after all gets out of your life. Here's the big secret: you don't have to finish the book (read the post, listen to the podcast...). Life is short; spend your energy where it enriches your soul.
- Thinking "I'm creatively stagnant" as a commercial comes on in the random tv show you turned on and started watching? Turn off the idiot box; it saps your time and your will. If you want your life designed around certain actions, design your rooms around them. Take a look and see if you've done that with television. If you want to do more of something, grease the slope toward doing it and make it less convenient to fall into habits of distraction. Cancel that cable subscription you don't really use except to get things you can just get online or on DVD when desired. Unless "watch more movies" is your goal, reduce your Netflix membership so there aren't those red envelopes around nagging you that you "should" get to them. If you haven't found yourself revitalized and your life improved by something you watched on the television within the last 10 days, find a better place for it than dominating your living room. Or at least get a cabinet for it today so you can hide this tool until you need it.
Open your eyes to the blockcades you put between you in this moment and where & who you really want to be. When you see them, knock them down. Build bridges to your creative, happy self. Chaucer observered six hundred years ago "The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne". Our time in this world is brief, spend it where it matters to you and not where it doesn't.
Eat something good for you that you like, then find a project you really enjoy and put in a good chunk of time working on it.
- Tidying up and catching up with your newspapers, magazines & catalogs. Don't get hung up on reading guilt and think you need to finish them all. Just get them looking nice and read the quick stuff/toss the junk.
- Catch up on uploading photos to Flickr (or other photo sharing website, which I have heard might exist, but why?) and title/tag them while you can still remember what they show. Charge your camera battery while you're at it and then (important) put it back into the camera today.
- Clean up your desk or project space and then spend an hour doing the most creative thing you do there, writing, sewing, drawing, whatever you like.
- Clear the dining room table and the kitchen counters of stuff that doesn't belong there, wash the dishes so the sink is ready for action, then plan a nice meal. Head out to the farmers' market to shop for ingredients if you have one in your area today.
Share what you did in the comments!
Hi gang, long time no post. I'm still alive and crazy busy, but life is good. What happens when it's really, really good & busy? Pileup! Aieee!
This weekend is all about getting back to your happy place. Do these things on Thursday night or Friday morning or first thing when you get home Friday after work.
Step one is dealing with the essentials.
Go get a big glass of water right now. Now. Do it.
Okay, I've got mine too. Water is the means for your body to do a little discardia of its own. Purge out the bad stuff, set yourself up for the good stuff. Drink that glass of water all up while you work your way through this post and then refill it when you're done and have another.
Nothing fancy, just eat a small meal with something good for you and something yummy. And while you're preparing it, if you come across anything spoiled in the fridge don't you dare set it back in there. Throw it in the trash and carry that nasty baggage out of your house.
Are your sheets dirty? Change 'em now. (Always have a change of sheets; it radically improves your quality of life.)
Now lie down on the bed for a moment and see what the first thing you're going to see when you wake up is. If you don't like it and it isn't nailed to the wall, get it out of your sight.
In my case, the sheets are okay but there are clothes all over the place. Clean clothes back from the laundry, stuff that can be worn again that needs to be hung up, new clothes I bought over the weekend, dirty clothes on the floor. I'm putting those all away.
How long did it take? Sometimes I do the whirlwind action, but tonight I felt like relaxing, so it took about 4 old episodes of Gary Vaynerchuk's Wine Library TV. And I even got Joe's unread magazines into a nice little rack arrangement under the bedside chair they'd been piled on. Fluffed comforter, reading light on by the bed, covers turned back. Ready for my return shortly. What a lovely bedroom!
One more step. We took care of the last thing we see before sleeping and first after waking. Now make sure that walking in the front door doesn't drag down your mood. Straighten that doormat, tidy that shoerack, put away (or at least move) that clutter in the front hall. Let the first sight of home remind you of what you like about this place, not of your to-do list.