The 3 lies that trap us into procrastinating

Original Photo by  Paul Swansen

Original Photo by Paul Swansen

In the last little bit I’ve been needing a refresher on some of the stuff I’ve previously blogged about on  the topic of productivity. These days I’m learning what it means to not procrastinate around the home. My problem at home is that I’m not a cleaner, and I’m rarely tidy for longer than a few days. I just slink back into my old slobbish ways. Growing up my parents called me Messy Jessy for obvious reasons: my room was always total chaos, but it was a chaos I understood. I could always find whatever I was looking for UNTIL I TIDIED.

Now that life with baby has mostly fallen into a recognizable routine it’s time I figured out how to keep this place in order. Thus the return to all the things I’ve learned about decision fatigue and habit development, productivity, and everything else. But before I remembered to pull up those old blog posts, I found myself Googling something like “help! I’m a slob” and found FLYlady.net which is a frightening website but a really good system. As I read through it I could identify elements of keystone habits, combating decision fatigue, and a whole range of other things I’ve blogged about. Basically, I was in heaven. In reading through the website and adopting (and adapting) the plan for myself, I noticed a few mental traps I always fall into when it comes to getting things done.

  • “It will take too long to do right now”
  • “I don’t have the right tools”
  • “This other thing (Netflix) is more rewarding right now”

Over the next few posts I’m going to address each one individually. I’ve talked about some of these in my e-book and definitely in previous blog posts, but never as specifically as this. I hope it will be as helpful to you as the realizations have been for me.

Chronodex: an introduction to the visual time management system

chronodextitle

There are two places I get good ideas about my life: Pinterest and my husband. This week my cousin-in-law (is that a thing?) pinned a picture of the chronodex/hyperdex/spiraldex and if you’re looking at these for the first time you’re probably thinking, “How the heck does this work?”

As I started googling it I found out a few things:

  1. It’s time management for visually oriented people.
  2. It’s created by Patrick Ng at Scription
  3. Chronodex is the original but since then people have adapted it to suit their needs. Now there’s hyperdex, spiraldex etc.
  4. It’s super useful if you want to track how you’re multitasking/layering OR track different schedules

How do you use it?

 

CHRONODEX

A chronodex version of 2 schedules. It's less obvious there are 2.

A chronodex version of 2 schedules. It’s less obvious there are 2.

Let’s take a look at the Chronodex first. It’s fashioned after a clock and depending on the version you have it has 12h-24 on it. Basically, you colour in when you’re busy either before your day starts or after to track what you did. I usually did this with my Google Calendar at work. In some ways it’s the same as having a Google Calendar or using multiple calendars on the same view, except that this is for people who like to use paper and probably those who like to make things pretty. 

What’s very different from a clock (and from the hyperdex & spiraldex) is the different widths of certain hours. This is how I’mJulie explains it in her review:

Many people wonder why there are 3 different lengths to the time section (short, medium and long). The idea behind it is quite smart: It’s made for all you multi-taskers out there. When you are doing a task that can not be mixed with anything else (like filming a video, creating an outline for your future online course or writing a blog post) you will fill in the time slot to it’s full length (even if the time wedge is shorter, you’re allowed to go outside the lines). If the task was something you can mutli-task (like exporting a video while you make lunch) you will color a part of the height of the wedge with one color and the rest with the other (to represent 2 types of tasks that you did during that piece of time).

In the above picture I was trying to track when Jack eats and sleeps so I can plan what I do during or around those times. The blue is when he naps (though not nearly as long as an hour). But my plan got broken down because I couldn’t quite figure out the chronodex. Do I colour outside the line? Plus, it has aspects of the spiraldex where the hours build on each other like a spiral. For this reason I  the hyperdex.

LM-Hyperdex

HYPERDEX

The hyperdex was derived from the chronodex by DIYfish. It features the 24h clock which is why I like it. It has 24 slots around and multiple rows which enables better layering/scheduling tracking (in my opinion at least).

hyperdexroughHere’s what I threw together in terms of a typical day for Jack and I.I used an image I found on Google images.

His eating schedule is determined by when he wakes up and then follows 2h after, then every 3h, then kind of whenever come the evening (usually 2h-1h). So if we wake up at 7am then it goes 7,9,12,3,5,6 then he’s down for the night. It’s kind of odd maybe but that’s what he seems to like and it works fine for me. We’re still working out regular nap times and the last week he’s only been napping for 30 mins so we’ll work on that.

The smallest circle is Jack’s life, the next one out is me. If I want to build a routine based around morning, evening and his nap times, this works well as a visualization tool for me. I just do that stuff in the fuchsia (it looks more red here) block.

SPIRALDEX

spiraldexThe spiraldex has 24h in it but only one row, so if you want to track layering, then you’re on your own to divide the boxes. The spiral is also smaller than the full 24h circle which may appeal to you for whatever reason. Other than those features it works the same way.

More reading

If you want to know more you can check out these links:

So, do you think you’ll make use of this? I’m still wondering if I’ll like it.

Rethinking my morning routine

Photo by jencv

Photo by jencv

I guess its been a few years (!) now since I first wrote about morning routines. Since then I’ve had varying success and most recently since my son was born, continued varied success.

I’m sure you can relate. If you couldn’t you likely wouldn’t be following this blog.

You have a good routine or daily organization system going and then something happens and it messes it up. You fumble around for a little (or months?) until you remember it doesn’t have to be this way!

And so you reboot your system and try again.

This happens to me all the time and is the reason I tell people not to give up on a system until they’ve failed in this cycle a few times. If it worked for awhile then there’s hope. If it never ever worked then you should probably keep looking.

Routines

Since Jack was born I’ve had a few different routines that have helped me stay sane. For awhile I did at least 2 loads of laundry a day: one in the morning of Jack’s barfy clothes and one in the evening of his cloth diapers. Now I have more clothes and more diapers so I do laundry every other day.

Other mornings I had a routine of waking up, starting coffee, drinking a glass of water, feeding Jack, then shower and get my day in order during his first nap.

Then that got messed up.

So here I am working on a new routine to help me have a decent day despite the unpredictability an infant can bring. There are other routines that I would like to establish so that I don’t have to decide what I want to do or feel like doing. Because I will never feel like cleaning. Ever.

I went back and read those blog posts again and actually found them helpful!

Things that are helpful in a routine

These days I need habits that will help our life work more smoothly. This means that things like laundry, dishes, quiet times and meals get done naturally rather than haphazardly. I think something I need to institute is a consistent wake-up time. I usually wake up when Jack wakes up, which was 6:30 for a long time, then 7:00 for a long time, now it’s 7:30. I think I actually had better days when he was waking up earlier, even though I always needed a nap.

The other thing that has helped me operate well is dealing with clutter quickly, whether it’s unloading the dishwasher right away so it can be loaded as dishes are dirtied, or fold and put away laundry right away. (Sidenote: I have never folded laundry or put it away until Jack was born so let’s just all do a slow clap for me right now because I’m finally a grown up. It only took me becoming a parent).

So we’ll see how this goes! If anyone has any tips on what worked for them (or their mom) please leave me a comment!

When things turn ugly

Photo by Steve Bowbrick

Have you ever noticed it’s pretty easy to take a perfectly good thing and turn it into an ugly thing? A bowl of chips can turn into eating the whole bag, a conversation with a friend can turn into gossip, being organized can turn into being obsessive and controlling etc.

I let this happen all the time.

Lately I’ve noticed that I’ve been thinking about this blog and my bucket list and it’s become this ugly thing looming over my head. I think things like:

  1. When will you get it together, Jess, and workout more? 
  2. When will you stop stressing over your baby?
  3. If you don’t figure these things out then say goodbye to doing anything with your life.

These are the kind of things that are happening deep in the back of my mind. I try to tell them off:

  1. I just had a baby! (Four months ago, get it together, woman!)
  2. I will never stop stressing over my kids, it’s what mothers do! (Are you sure it’s all mothers? Can’t you be better than them?)
  3. I don’t need to “do anything with my life”! I still have value even if I don’t “do anything”. (Sure keep telling yourself that. It’s just an excuse for being lazy.)

It’s weird even writing these things out because I know they’re crazy. This blog and these goals were never supposed to turn ugly. They were supposed to add to my life: add challenge, fun, satisfaction, adventure (and bragging rights?). I think it’s that last part that made things go sour. Somewhere I developed a drive to show people I can do these things. When I admit it – like that one ugly response revealed  in #2 – I want to be “better” than other people and on some level I think I am. Doing hard things validates this in me.

The last few years I have noticed a frightening trend: I’m not better (surprise, surprise) and I actually give up on hard things pretty easily.

But really, I’m regular. I’m plain-Jane-vanilla-regular and I need to get it through my thick skull that it’s not a bad thing. I’m ordinary and trying to do ridiculous things to try to be different or prove something isn’t going to solve any problems I have but only make more.

So right now I’m going to keep trying to do my little goals:

  • Be more ok with letting non-relatives watch Jack
  • Get my hair cut
  • Go to the dentist
  • Try to care less what people think about me
  • Keep going to the gym

And maybe that means I’ll be able to do some of the other bigger things on my list some day. And maybe not. But I refuse to let this stuff define my happiness even if I really really want them. Sometimes things don’t turn out the way we hope or want them to and that’s ok.
Maybe one day I’ll figure out how to chill the frig out.

Happy New Year

veggies

A few days ago my mother in law asked us all at the dinner table if we had any New Years Resolutions. I hadn’t really thought about it until then except that I was toying with the idea of letting this year be a “no resolution” year largely due to my (exceptionally cute) two-month-old. At this point, I have yet to figure out how to do groceries in a way that doesn’t involve ordering them online and having them delivered (FOR A DOLLAR!!).

But one thing remains a problem that, unless fixed, will surely lead to bad health and general discomfort: I don’t eat my vegetables and fruits.

I just can’t be bothered. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s that I don’t like them more than meat and potatoes. I don’t like them enough to have them be more than an afterthought at best. If I have the option of a salad bar, I will always get a salad, but with the option of a salad or fries it will almost always be fries.

On top of that, my high blood pressure is now on the radar. My OBGYN induced my labour due to high blood pressure (but not pre-eclampsia) and I had to stay longer in the hospital for the same reason. I’m not even 30 and I feel tightness in my chest frequently these days because of it. It seems all that McDonald’s is finally catching up with me.

So as I thought about what needed to change in my life it was pretty simple: I need to learn how to love vegetables and stop eating poorly. I thought being pregnant and breastfeeding would encourage me to eat well, but so far that hasn’t happened and I managed to bake a healthy, strong baby eating mostly potato chips.

There are a few other things related to health that I want to incorporate into my New Years resolution but I haven’t nailed all the details down yet. I think my goals will be in phases where by March (for example) I want to have x habit and by June y habit.

Maybe by the time Jack is eating real food I will be too!

Extra-ordinary

As I was preparing to give birth and transition away from “world changing” work to maternity leave two months ago, I started thinking about what it means to be ordinary. I was a bit nervous that I would (temporarily) leave a job I really enjoy and find much fulfilment in to being woken up in the night, changing 10+ diapers a day only to find myself deeply disappointed with the repetitive ordinariness.

In preparation for this transition (because it’s me, and when do I ever just do something without preparing) I started reading a book recently released called Ordinary. It’s a bit of a response to the popular idea lately that everything/everyone needs to be extraordinary, and live lives that are epic or radical. In some ways I felt like the first part of the book spoke directly to this blog saying, “Just live your life, stop trying so hard to be something and just be.” It was a helpful reminder that ordinary isn’t necessarily bad or boring. In a culture where we’re always competing to have the most exotic vacations, the most epic weddings, the smartest kids, etc. we overlook the treasure in “regular” life.

daddy-heroRight now, my life is “extra-ordinary”, as in really-really ordinary. I’m doing what billions of women have done since the beginning of time: try to keep an infant alive and then turn them into a contributing member of society. And yet, when you think about the process of pushing a small human out of your body you can’t help but think: HOW IS THIS NORMAL? HOW IS THIS ORDINARY? But it is. Just like when I was at my University graduation. Bachelors degrees seem like a dime a dozen these days (same with Masters) and the really special people get Doctorates. My mom went on and on about how proud she was that I got my degree, something she never got to do. When I finally got in the convocation hall to receive my degree I realized: degrees may be very common these days but it doesn’t mean it isn’t special and it doesn’t mean I didn’t work really hard for four years to get that piece of paper (that is entirely in latin and I can’t read, thanks Queen’s…). This ordinary thing is still special in some respects.

Making a human is a very regular occurrence in our world, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t extraordinary. While other people are out conversing with other adults and contributing to society, I’m at home watching Gilmore Girls for hours while keeping this tiny human alive and battle his diaper rash. I’m a bit surprised that I don’t feel more disappointed by the slowness and by what the world seems to think is a very un-liberated and menial work. I’m enjoying it. I am grateful for this perspective change and the help to slow down and enjoy the ordinary.

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