How the hell are we already halfway through January?!?!?! I feel like it was Christmas for about two seconds, and then I blinked, and here we are.
I’m hearing this from my clients, too– a vague sense of panic because they feel like they’re already behind.
There’s a lot of pressure in January. Goals! And plans! And people hitting the new year hard! And Mari Kondo has a new book out even though you haven’t finished the first one! And everyone around you seems to be killing it!
And meanwhile us mere mortals are huddled in a corner biting our nails. Which badly need a new manicure. Because little flecks of that festive holiday gold polish do not belong in one’s mouth. It’s so much, so fast, so loud, this time of year– which is ironic, because the outward hubbub of the holidays has died down. But this cacophony is inside our own heads.
I should be further ahead. I’m already failing. I’ll never catch up. I must be doing something wrong. I’m just not cut out for this grownup thing. I’m doomed as an entrepreneur. I’ll never reach my goals.
When it’s loud inside our own heads, it’s a good time to get down to basics. Look away from the big shiny goals out there for a minute, and let’s get very close to home.
Let’s talk about the basic systems, routines, habits, and tools that make life GO with more smoothness and beauty.
Last January, I wrote about the daily habits that make my life run smoothly— little things like always doing the dishes at night, and setting a daily priority, and breathing. Today I want to get even more nitty gritty with you and share the actual tools I use.
Even when I feel overwhelmed in my life, there is a strong foundation of order underpinning things. I am immensely grateful, because it was not always so. NOT AT ALL. I well remember what it was like to be spinning and swirling, careening from one crisis to the next, just barely putting out all the fires. There was no WAY I could ever get to my bigger goals and dreams, because I was barely scrambling from one seemingly-urgent thing to the next. I always felt anxious, wondering what was going to explode.
Living this way creates a lot of unnecessary drama. An unpaid bill even though you have the funds. A missed appointment even though you were looking forward to it. The package that has to be sent overnight even though you’ve had it a week. Subpar takeout again because it’s 6pm and everyone is starving.
This week I’m going to share with you the things that make my life GO…and even make it beautiful.
But first!!! A note of warning. I’ve implemented and layered these in over YEARS, so don’t try to add them all at once. Ask yourself what area of your life is making you most crazy. Is it your calendar? Your to-do list? What you see in the mirror? Managing your finances? Losing things? Pick one (JUST ONE!) to work on.
Here are some of the gears and levers that make my life more beautiful, graceful, and enjoyable:
- YNAB, the budgeting software and philosophy, has revolutionized my finances
- Keeping grocery lists on my computer to print out weekly that then live on the fridge
- Using a daily compass (a 1-page declaration of that day’s priorities)
- Before that, I used a Franklin planner and a series of lists a la David Allen’s GTD system
- A pared-down capsule wardrobe in just one color palette (grey and black!)
- Automated bill pay and online banking
- Keeping a bliss fund (no matter how small) of money specifically designated for frivolity
- Getting the house cleaned and laundry done on a regular repeating schedule
- A “waiting for” list of things you’re waiting for–responses, estimates, packages (this is something I learned from David Allen’s GTD method and it’s LIFE CHANGING)
- A spot for things that are pending– theater tickets, birthday presents, permission forms, etc
- A consistent bedtime ritual and story for my daughter, no matter what’s going on
- An hour of buffer in the morning before I start my calls so I can get on top of the day
- An old-fashioned paper filing cabinet with a stash of blank folders
- Carbonite and Time Machine for automated computer backups
- Using Pages with iCloud for easy doc syncing
These things aren’t sexy– but they WORK. They keep my life humming along so that I can focus my energies on the things that matter most to me– my beloveds, my clients, my business, my writing.
You will be tempted to try to do three of these right away. Resist that urge!!! Pick one. Master it. Make it such a normal part of your life that you’d no more skip than you would go to bed without brushing your teeth. And then move on.
What about you? What are the things that make your life GO? I’d love to know– come tell me over on Facebook!