Journaling challenge

Last fall I did a bunch of posts on journaling and gave a way a great hand bound journal. I just stumbled upon a challenge that I thought I’d share with you because it’s a great idea. Over at Cloud Productivity, they’re throwing out a challenge starting March 1 (that’s this Friday) to start journaling. It gives you some time to decide whether you want to write or type, to pick up a fresh journal or buy an app or just open a new window in Word.

Can journalling can make you more productive?” was my most popular post on journaling, which you might find motivating to start.

Have you recently started journaling? Have you tried before and quit? What did/didn’t you like about it? Do you think you’ll give it a shot this time? Comment here with your thoughts.

That familiar cycle

We’re back to that place I’m sure you recognize so well: Jess admits she still doesn’t have this all figured out and has to reboot her life a bit in order to get it all back in order. Some things are going well: I’m still reading regularly, and that’s developed into a lovely habit I’m enjoying. I really appreciate the freedom I have in the 1 book every 2 weeks system. I can easily complete a book in that time, but it gives me room for evenings off etc. Ok so really one thing is going well.


The fact that my Christmas decorations are still up is probably a sign that things are a little out of control. I’ve been thinking about the balance between doing what I want to do and reaching my goals and how I have the tendency to let other more important things be moved aside by my goals. Important daily life things like grocery shopping, laundry, and all the other things that are not exactly fun.

I just recently read The Organized Heart by Staci Eastin. I felt like I was reading a book I could have written it was so similar to where I’m at:

“So the real question is why don’t I organize my days to do what I believe is important and what I do, in fact, have the skills and training to do. The answer is that I have a motivation problem. I do what I do not want to do–and I do not what I want to do” (Chapter 1).

For me, it’s more like I’m doing what I really want to do that is important to me personally, but not what I have agreed with my husband that needs to get done and in the long-term and from day-to-day is actually more important. Groceries need to get done. Clothes need to be cleaned. The house needs to be cleaned/tidied or else we’ll both go nuts. But those things don’t feel immediately rewarding. 

Maybe that’s it: I need to devise a system where doing the basics is rewarding me by moving onto the other things I want to accomplish like my reading, my running etc.

(I’m just being an external processor right now.)

So yes, my Christmas decorations are still up and I kind of don’t care! I have laundry still sitting in the dryer and it’s been there for 2 days! These last two weeks have not been the highlight of accomplishment for my year. But I vow to have those decorations down by May… I should be able to manage that, right?

Are you in the same place or are you doing better than I am at keeping up with New Years Resolutions and Regular Life? Are you managing your real priorities well? Share here in the comments. 

I still love lamp!


A few weeks ago a friend asked me how things were going with my lamp since I blogged about it. Well, let me tell you: I’m a fool. I started feeling bad as early as the first week of October this year which is earlier than usual. So I started using it regularly in November. That went well. And then December came.

I stopped wanting to. My motivation went through the floor. Every morning I thought to myself, “I don’t really want to…” Then I didn’t. POOR CHOICES.

Here’s the thing: there are one of two mistakes we make when we’re feeling the winter blues (or for any other mental health related things).

  1. I’m feeling good so I don’t need it. Wrong. We’re feeling good because the treatment is working. That doesn’t mean STOP, it means CONTINUE.
  2. I don’t feel like it/I don’t want to. It means the treatment isn’t yet working because motivation is low. At least that’s how it is for my personal experience.

Learn to trust the data

I need to learn to trust data in front of me rather than my feelings. The data of the last few years says: you’re not yourself at Christmas and your family thinks you’re this bump on a log who doesn’t like being with people and doing basically anything but eat and play Dutch Blitz. That’s not who I am normally (though, let’s be serious, I’ll eat and play Dutch Blitz any time). This experience this past winter tells me I need to ask my husband to help me not listen to my feelings or my own head because it isn’t trustworthy.

This past year I tried to do better than the previous year. I did! Sort of!

So here’s to learning about how to function optimally, healthily and to asking for help in doing that.

Do you have a hard time reading or accepting the data that you see about your health? How can you fix that? If you’d like to share, leave a comment or leave some feedback here in the comments.

Taking Off:

Guest Post SERIES1

nickThe third post in my guest post series is someone I’ve known all his life: my brother Nick. We didn’t always get along as well as we do now. He didn’t really like it so much that our older brother and I teased him relentlessly. I’d like to take some credit for his success in life. I’m confident that the fact that after he developed a little stutter when he was younger (after me always interrupting him or finishing his stories for him) and my yelling, “HURRY UP AND FINISH YOUR SENTENCE” helped him persevere in difficulty and made him a heartier person. He really doesn’t stutter anymore.

Twice in the past three years, as the wheels left the tarmac, the plane took off and so did I.

To a new city, to a new job, a new place, friends, struggles, and adventures–that’s where I was going. The first time, I packed a bag and the day after college graduation, flew out to a new life on the west coast. In the young hours of the morning as my classmates were stumbling back home from celebrating our accomplishments as students, I was waiting for my flight. A quiet, empty departure terminal early in the morning is a place ripe for second guessing and the decision to take a job on the other side of the country was either an accomplishment I should be celebrating too, or a mistake of a severity I hadn’t yet discovered.

The second time was an out-of-the blue offer to take a job at a tech startup in New York City. I had been out west for a year and was just settling in but it was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up. As over the PA, “Flight 132 to Newark International, Final Boarding Call” echoed through the empty terminal, I pulled myself out of the cold and uncomfortable seat to find my place on a one-way flight to a scary new city. Again.

You hear it in different ways. “He’s never been the same since his dad took off.” Or, “Her career really took off when she cracked into the local business development community.” Part of taking off means leaving something behind and if not done right can be really hurtful. But in a lot of ways, to start something new you have to leave things behind. You have to end relationships, sell off belongings that you value, and walk away from the impression you’ve left on people (which you use to identify your personality). But that process creates an experience which will strongly define you.

Sometimes to really take off, you need to take off.

It doesn’t need to be as drastic as packing your life in to a bag and moving to NYC, but many things in our life we hold on to because we’re afraid of taking off and leaving those comforts behind. It’s a combination of our habits, our friends, our homes–the environment we find ourselves in every minute of our life–that are the factors which either help our lives take off and soar or hold us back from what we want to become.

Piece by piece, we are choosing the shape of our lives. We often settle at “good” because the steps to “great” aren’t easy. Being in constant search of great things means walking away from good things. To take off from something doesn’t mean running away and leaving people hurt. And wanting things to take off is not selfish. When set with the right morals, taking off means that you can bring people with you and have a higher platform for which you can help build people up.

There is some risk involved with taking off. You risk leaving behind something great. You risk friendships that you may not find again. You can be risking your reputation and setting yourself up for failure. But in my case, I’ve found that those fears are mostly unfounded. When you go on a new adventure, your family will still be there to support you. Your friends will change over time, but so will you, and it’s more than likely that you’ll both have changed for the better and can still find a place in each other’s lives. As my plane approached Newark Airport, the New York City was reflecting gold in the sun. It was beautiful and daunting. More than anything, fear pulsed through me. I was afraid of what I would become if I couldn’t make it in the Big City. I was scared that if I couldn’t make it here, people’s perception of me would be different and even worse, my perception of myself would fall. That’s the risk but the rewards are even better.

You’ll be fine taking off and more than likely, your life will take off because of what you chose to leave behind in seeking something greater.

And the winner is….


Thanks to everyone who entered for the chance to win this book. I’m pretty happy to be able to share the wealth with others. I hope that some of you decide to pick up a copy because it’s quite helpful as I’ve spent all week saying.

I calculated all the entries and through picked one. Who won?

Samantha Buxton!

Congrats, Sam! You’ll receive your copy in the coming week.

The UnSchedule

It’s Day 3 of my giveaway of The Now Habit by Neil Fiore. It’s outrageously helpful in battling procrastination. Click here for rules on how to enter the draw. Good luck!

Example from the book of an Unschedule.

One of the many things I found helpful in The Now Habit was The Unschedule. Fiore developed this over about 10 years on clients until he felt it was perfected and used it in his book. It’s a concept that will surprise many because you start by filling in your schedule with your non-work activities. Why? There are a few reasons: 1) to show you how busy you actually are with other things so that when you think “oh, I can do that later” the reality is is that there probably isn’t a later because you’re busy with other life activities; 2) often procrastinators isolate themselves from other people because they aren’t getting their work done. They live in a cycle of procrastination and unintended social punishment, which generally makes life miserable. Here’s the complete guide to how to make your own Unschedule (without all the background information which is actually very helpful):

  1. Schedule only non-work activities
    This includes:

    • Previously committed time such as meals, sleep, meetings
    • Free time, recreation, leisure reading
    • Socializing, lunches, and dinners with friends
    • Health activities like going to the gym
    • Routine events such as commuting, classes, appointments
  2. Fill in your Unschedule with work on projects only after you’ve completed at least one-half hour of uninterrupted work
  3. Take credit only for periods of work that represent at least thirty minutes of uninterrupted work.
  4. Reward yourself with a fun activity after each period of work
  5. Track of the number of quality hours worked each day and each week.
  6. Schedule at least one full day for fun and small chores.
  7. Before doing something fun, do thirty minutes of work on your projects
  8. Focus on starting and the next action (rather than finishing the whole project)
  9. Think small
  10. Keep starting
  11. Never end “down”
    Never take a break when you’re stuck or ready to give up. Always stay with a tough spot for another five or ten minutes, trying to come up with a partial solution that you can pursue later.
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