My #1 problem has always been that I think too much and don’t take enough action.

I’ve got a slight obsession with listening to podcasts, reading blog posts, and watching YouTube videos about productivity & personal development. And you know what? I don’t think you would ever know it to look at me.

I have collected so much information about personal development & productivity. I could talk about it all day and if I really committed, I could surely fool someone into thinking that I was some sort of personal development guru.

Photo by britt gaiser 

Sure, I’m no slob. I’m good at my job, my bills get paid, I get by in general… but I am not productive in the ways I would like to be, especially compared to the people I watch, read, and listen to. Inaction has taken over my life.

I’ve given a lot of thought as to why this is. I’ve written many a journal entry on how it feels to be this way. I’ve ruminated on the ways I’d like to change and how I’d actually get there. Finally, I’ve told myself over and over that doing all of that is just as important as making the jump and trying something. (ANYTHING.) And news flash: it is really, really not!!!!!!

I can say that with confidence because reflecting and organizing and researching and collecting ideas is pretty much all I have done for too long a time. And I don’t have sh*t to show for it! How could I?

That is a painful [but important] realization.

I think there has always been this sense that tomorrow is the day I will act and today is the day I will prepare to act.

Enough, I say. Enough!

Keeping it light.

Part of what inspired me to write this was another post on the blog Untangled called “My mind is tired of mindfulness“. It’s a great, short read; go for it!

I ponder over my personal development a lot (hence this blog), and I know I’m just one of many. It’s no wonder that this is the case considering “Personal Development” and “Productivity” and “Life Hacking” and aaaall that jazz is enormously popular these days. Bestsellers about nurturing effective habits crop up [what feels like] every other week, articles on powerful morning routines seem to publish every hour, and blog posts about all of the above are popping up more and more frequently (like this one!).

Once a person starts down the road of personal development (there’s that phrase again!), mindfulness, and other things of that nature, it can become difficult to stop. Some of what you’ll read and hear all over this realm are things like:

Consistency is key.

Good habits form when you make small changes every day.

You will see a difference when you are willing to put in the work.

Consistency. Every day. Work.

I’ll state the obvious here… I don’t disagree with any of these statements. I’m simply pointing to the fact that it’s not a wonder that people get swept up in this stuff so quickly, or that they feel guilty and maybe a little paranoid when they give it a rest. If you break the consistency, if you break your streak, if you stop the work for X amount of time, will you immediately slide back and find yourself stuck again? That’s a question I’ve certainly asked myself and to be honest, I do think that sometimes the answer is yes. For me, that will have to be okay.

Some may disagree, of course, which is great. Everyone has different circumstances and goals, everyone processes change differently, and everyone works at different paces and in different ways (even if all these differences are subtle). All of us cannot possibly be on the same exact page when it comes to something so personal as personal development.

Photo by Carolyn V 

I just need a break from it sometimes, and it’s really as simple as that. I’m the type of person that turns inward very easily, and if I spend too much time there, things start to get very exhausting and fuzzy. As long as my breaks (ranging from an hour to a day to a couple days) are completely intentional, I am golden. If I start to let things slip a little bit at a time, day after day, without thinking and without having a reason behind it, that’s when trouble ensues-but I won’t get into that. Today, I’m choosing to keep it light! And now I think I’ll go make a nice cup of tea like the one in this really pretty photo.


Managing my time on weeknights ( + 3 tips ).

One big [entirely self-imposed] obstacle on the road to positive change has been my tendency to let time slip away from me. Today I want to talk about 2 ways this happens, specifically during the week, and how I’ve been trying to fix it.

Historically, my evenings looked a bit like this: I’d get home from work and sit down for a while (problem #1) before making and eating dinner, and then I’d just relax and watch TV (problem #2), and before I knew it… it was 10PM and I’d be tired and basically useless, and bedtime was upon me.

Problem #1: Sitting down when I get home from work. It took a while but I eventually came to terms with that fact that doing this is bad for me. It takes a long time and a lot of willpower for me to get up again once I’ve succumbed to the couch. 20 minutes will fly by as I sit and dinner has yet to be started. I know I am not alone here; I’ve spoken to others like me.

My solution: I keep moving once I’m in the door and I don’t stop until it’s time to eat dinner. I’m already walking, so why break that bit of momentum I have? I put away my stuff, pet Morty (my cat) for a few minutes, and get working on something. Usually it’s emptying the dishwasher and starting on dinner. Making this tiny change has not been difficult and it has had a great impact.

Problem #2: TV, my ultimate time-sucker. I have to control my TV intake during the week or it will surely control me. If it goes on before I’ve started my after-dinner tasks, I’m in trouble. I will just want to stay glued to it and before I know it, 3 hours have passed.

My solution: Now, on most days, the TV stays off ’til around 7:30 or 8PM. I’ve also instituted “No TV Tuesdays.” By doing these things, I’ve freed up a few hours each week to focus on more worthwhile things. (I’m waayyy behind on so many shows now which totally sucks from a TV lover’s standpoint, but at least I’m being a more productive adult, right?)

Another (and probably my favorite) thing I like to do is set timers for anything and everything. It works as a call-to-action for me and I kinda enjoy racing the clock. Also, knowing there’s a limit keeps me from totally resenting the task at hand because I know there’s an end in sight. If I need to dust, for example (important when you have a cat), I’ll set a 10-20 minute timer and then go be a dustin’ fool. And BONUS: I’ve usually built up so much momentum by the time the alarm sounds that I’ll just continue for a while or I’ll easily move on to something else.

These are small changes but over the course of a couple months, they have totally made a difference. It no longer feels like time is constantly disappearing from me, and I consider that a very big win.