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Cultivating Habits

A favorite little activity of mine is trying to figure out new routines or ways of doing things that will make it easier or more enjoyable to live life in a way that I value.  Most of these changes aren’t particularly difficult to make, but I find that it is easier to make good decisions on a regular basis once I have acknowledged and verbalized them.

Here are a few examples of things that are now a part of my everyday life as of 2013:

  • I wake up earlier every day so that I can enjoy the quiet and enjoy watching the trains that often stop me on the way to work (instead of cursing them for making me late).
  • I take a cloth napkin in my lunch bag.
  • We don’t buy any groceries with added sugar.  I find it easier to monitor what comes into the house than moderate what I do with what is here! (Note: I happily indulge when celebrating elsewhere!)
  • I order my water without ice at restaurants because then I will really drink it instead of just letting it sit there.
  • I don’t drink fully caffeinated coffee at home. (I usually do 1/3 caffeinated or decaff)
  • I make our grocery list in the same manner every time.

Now, at the start of a new semester and new year, I’m brainstorming about what I would like to make into new habits and routines.  Here are some things I’ll be working on:

  • getting the coffee maker ready at night every night
  • packing my lunch at night (especially right after dinner)
  • going to bed at a consistent time
  • reading something non-digital before bed instead of using that time for Facebook or online articles
  • an exercise routine
  • a system for the timing of paying bills and budgeting

I can’t wait to fold some version of these processes into my everyday routine so that it will free up my mind to start working on new things to add in.  I’m all ears for suggestions if you have any routines that have worked for you or that you’re considering!


Snow Week Productivity

Forget snow days, I had a snow week this week. Sunday night brought a pretty substantial snowfall, enough to make roads impassible for two days and a little tricky for the second half of the week. The result? A slow-moving world and a somewhat-faster-moving me.

My only complaint would be that I was not able to work the two days (fourteen hours) I was scheduled to work. Having a substantial block of time to work on home projects, though, allowed me to get knee-deep in things that otherwise would have taken me a bit longer.  It was nice to have a chance to build momentum for the year.

During the week I was able to:

  • identify 100+ items to declutter & post them (today I’ve had another burst of productivity on this front)
  • scan my receipts from 2010 (I’m almost done with this project)
  • organize my hope chest (I use this for all non-hanging, non-pajama/underwear/workout clothes)
  • reorganize my dresser (it moonlights as a bedside table; it holds the pajamas/underwear/workout clothes)
  • get my notebooks organized for the upcoming semester

After three days inside, I spent Thursday about town, tying up the ends to some of these projects.  For instance, I:

  • exchanged the wine stopper, #31, at Ross, and was able to get a penny and 4 pairs of socks for my mom (she had been needing them)
  • returned the pound of coffee, #43, to Starbucks; the guy put a credit of $10 on my gift card, and then he realized the coffee was nearing expiration (it was pretty new to me, so I didn’t think to check it); he ground the coffee and gave it back to me, and then he gave me the coffee I purchased on sale (free soy upgrade)
  • swung by the consignment shop to pick up a check for $75.06 for items I took in the fall (which won’t be counted for the challenge, as they were 2010’s decluttering)
  • took my friend K her items (#3, shaving cream, #76, cotton rounds, #77, Qtips, etc.)

Also, I randomly got a $20 check from the hospital (I’m assuming that insurance covered more than I expected from an MRI I had in August), and I received $34.30 from two books I sold on Amazon.  Interestingly, the hospital check + Amazon check + consignment check + Starbucks credit come to about the same amount that I would have made if I’d been able to work!  Of course, I had counted on those going above my regular income, but what great timing that it filled in the gap just perfectly!

The next semester starts on February 1 for me.  Until then, I hope to keep my productivity in high gear.  I think another big declutter push this week will put me in a pretty good spot for a while (as in, my room will be tidy enough to be livable, and I can just slowly collect declutter items and drop them in my milk crate as I find them, rather than posting almost daily about what’s getting the boot).

The new project I want to tackle is figuring out how to get my computer organized.  I need to develop a better filing system, revamp my passwords, look into backing-up my documents (online and external hard drive), etc.  Now that I have a scanner, I’m more interested in reducing the amount of paper I’ve got going on.  I’ll probably always want some sort of paper system, but it could definitely work on a much smaller scale.  Whether I reduce my paper usage or not, though, it’s not a bad idea to have important documents secured digitally.  There are several helpful pieces I’ve read over the last year on how to get my computer in order; a post by Laura at No More Spending reminded me that I need to get going on this project!

Hope you had a nice weekend!