January 1st, 2014
I couldn’t sleep last night. Normally that’s not a bad thing on New Year’s Eve, however it was way past midnight and I was the only one awake. Restless.
I hadn’t thought much about my goals for this year. It seems as though our lives have been on hold for the past 8 months. In transition (how many times have I said that?). Waiting for our new life to begin. Holding pattern. Stress. How can you start a fresh year when you’re on hold? I still don’t know. I still feel overwhelmed by the clutter and chaos that surrounds me. I’ve never really battled with depression, only during my pregnancies to some extent – hormone related no doubt. But being in transition seems to bring out the worst in my psyche. These past few months I’ve battled with some form of sporadically crippling depression. It comes and goes in waves, sometimes for a few days and other days I’m amazingly productive. But it’s there kind of hiding waiting to sneak up on me. “Today’s going to be a productive day!” I know it, and then, BAM! it’s there, and I can hardly function. I’ve never dealt with anything like this before so I don’t know what to call it, or how to manage it (other than dysfunction). I’m just clinging to the hope that it’s due to the transient nature of our lives, and once I’m on more solid footing and in an environment more conducive to creativity (not piled high with boxes and cabinets and nearly everything I own still in boxes) that it will disappear.
So not feeling particularly motivated to make any changes just yet, and feeling as though I should just keep eating my feelings (like I’ve been doing for the past few months), I stumbled upon an instagram of someone’s One Little Word. Now I’ve never done a OLW, I didn’t even know who the founding person was who started this – I just found out this morning that it’s Ali Edwards who started it several years ago. Basically the premise is that you choose a word – like a little spirit guide – to help you in your personal progression through the year. To help you focus your intentions, desires, goals, and actions into one central unifying principle that you are working towards.
Thinking about this idea late at night really just hit a spark with me. I could choose a word, I could find my path again – I could even create a free printable to help me execute my word (see below!). But what word to choose?
What do I name this battle that was I fighting? I thought “Organize” is a great word. If there’s anything I need right now, it’s Organization. But that seemed pretty shallow for my needs. Like a bandaid to fix an artery. I thought “Health” because building a house is kind of like building a baby, it takes everything out of you and I could really use focus on my health to start getting things in order (also see eating emotions above). But I instinctually knew that this wasn’t right either. I was trying to heal symptoms and and not the actual problem.
After much pondering, I realized that my symptoms were all caused by my life being off-kilter. Not just my physical environment, but everything. I had set myself up so much to be living a temporary life during this house-build, that I never found my center. I just knew if I could hold on till we were settled in the new house that everything would work itself out. Except the design and build took longer than I thought, and before I knew it I was spinning on the wrong axis and life was spiraling out of control. I can handle a little chaos, even a lot of chaos, but it just got to be too much, and I didn’t know how to correct. And thats when the depression came. Endless cycles of stress eating, stress insomnia, stress stressing, stress shopping, stress crying, stress iphoning. And I knew what I needed more than anything else was to find my center again. Throw off all the disfuctional coping mechanisms and be incredibly deliberate in my actions.
So today on this glorious first day of a brand new year, I’m starting fresh. Mr. Project cleaned the house this morning, soon the boxes and cabinets will also be gone, and I have a clean slate to make choices that will reinforce my decision to find my center. I’m going to edit and print my 2014 Planner, and be as organized and cleanly as I can. Plan menus, the works! I’m going to look at food not as a drug to numb my stress, but choose to eat things that bring me health and clarity of mind. I’m going to be far more deliberate in loving my husband and children and when/how I choose to interact with my phone/social media outlets. And probably most important, I’m going to reconnect with my inner self, and my spiritual self. No more excuses, just using my time as wisely as I can to make sure my actions are inline with my One Little Word.
I created this “focus matrix” not just as a goal sheet, but a prioritizing of aspects of my life, and how to reinforce my “One Little Word” in each of those areas. I filled this out by keeping my OLW in the center box as my “fixed point”. Then I asked myself what areas of my life do I need to focus on and make better and how do they relate to my OLW. For mine, I chose:
2. Relationship with Spouse
And in each of those areas, I carefully thought of ways that I can apply my “one little word”. I hung this above my desk, and am going to use it as a daily reminder of my desire to find my center, and the types of choices that will lead me towards the change that I need to see this year.
This form is available as a free download. I challenge you to choose a OLW use it as a guide to bring about change in your life. Click on the image below to download. If you like it, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear how it’s working for you.
I feel like my goals now have a “fixed point” instead of being independent ideas of what I want to do or be this year. And I know that focusing on that fixed point will lead to greater success towards getting to where I want to be.
I created this saying for the printable form, and decided I should design some printable art version of it, to hang up and motivate me. So I drew this up and printed the black ink it on a piece of ombre card stock (MME Cut & Paste Adorbs “Story” Recollect Paper).
If you’d like to print it out, I’ve provided a free download PDF (download by clicking on the image below) that can be printed on plain or colored paper.
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December 15th, 2013
With all the house stuff happening, it’s been hard to get to any work that is kind of on the sidelines (including blogging!). But I knew that I needed to get this 2014 planner finished. Probably because I keep getting emails and comments asking if I’m going to have time to do it. And I totally love that, because I know that some people out there care about this little planner I make, and it completely motivates me to get it done! And since you’ve all been so patient, I’m giving 25% off to anyone who purchases my 2014 planner before the beginning of the year.
So after much ado and many requests, here is the re-designed The Project Girl 2014 weekly planner. No new editing features in this one, just a sleek new design. Something that is new however, it’s available at my new Etsy shop!
And with the new house in 2014 I’m going to need my planner more than ever. I filled out this first page to show you how you can customize your daily & weekly chores, daily notes, and (grocery) list. And for me, once it’s customized digitally, then I print it out and write down all the other stuff that’s going to be happening each week. I love having this week-at-a-glance to keep me organized.
These blue areas are the ones that you can change the text on. Daily chores are populated throughout the file, so if you don’t exercise, then you can change that to feed dog, and it will change on all the pages. There are also 3 blank daily chores that you can have say anything like flirt with hubs, Cook dinner, Read book, scrapbook etc etc.
You will be able to add any additional weekly chores (space permited) in the highlighted weekly chore boxes. New/changed weekly chores do not populate through the whole document. If you don’t ever want to clean your purse (and who does, really?), you’ll have to change each of those individually, or ignore them, or even better, print it as is and get to immediately cross off something on your list!
I use the LIST for my weekly groceries making each field a different grocery category (dairy, meat, bakery, etc.). Sometimes I use the days at the top for my weekly menu. But really you can use these fields for anything. Even the word LIST can be changed to anything you want it to be – like “Husband’s Chores” or “TO DO”
This document also contains a bonus set of 2014 calendar pages. These pages are not editable. They are intended to be printed.
So there you have it! I’m happy to have it done, and I love the new look.
Don’t forget that it’s 25% off through the end of the year. See coupon code below:
October 21st, 2013
1. Turn of Push Notifications
The best thing I’ve ever done for my productivity was to turn off push notifications on my phone (and my laptop). If you’re an internet/social media junkie like me, being connected can quickly become top priority. However, if your phone tells you every single time someone comments on a facebook thread that you also commented on, pretty soon you’ll spend your whole day on facebook. It can be a pretty vicious cycle. One easy click to facebook or instagram, and next thing you know, 30 minutes has passed by. Do yourself a favor and just check a few times a day. Trust me, you’ll get much more done. To make this change on your phone go into Settings>Notification Center and you’ll be able to customize which apps on your phone can send you push notifications.
2. Make a list and stay on task
(download my daily planner)
When you’re busy (and aren’t we all busy?) there are a million to dos swimming around your head. It’s pretty easy to forget what you need to get done and even easier to be distracted by something that seems more pressing at the moment (like checking facebook, or grabbing a snack). The best way to keep yourself on track is to make a list of all the tasks you need to complete and then prioritize those. When you are finished with one task move quickly onto the next by checking your list instead of trying to recall what you should do next. If you can manage to stay on task and not lose precious minutes/hours in between tasks trying to remember what else needs to be done than your productivity will increase significantly.
3. Have a Weekly Schedule
(download my blank weekly chore schedule)
If every minute is precious to you, then you don’t have time to waste on duplicating tasks needlessly. Schedule one day a week for Errands – mail, bank, grocery store etc. If anyone in your family asks you to run an errand for them, let them know that you can, but you won’t be able to until your errand day. Same thing with cleaning, filing, scanning, laundry etc. If you can assign certain tasks to certain days and really stick to your schedule, then you’ll be much less likely to waste time running to the post office 3 times a week, dropping off dry cleaning more often than necessary, and going to target daily (even though you’d probably like that one).
4. Plan your meals & grocery lists
(download my meal/menu planner)
People say cooking their own meals takes too long. But really what they mean is that planning and executing meals is a big task that is really easy to ignore and going out to eat is easier. It is easier to eat out, but it’s not really saving you any time. If you can sit down for 15 minutes once a week, plan out all your meals and corresponding groceries (keep it simple), and then go to the grocery store and procure all the items, you will save time (and calories, and money). Quick and simple meals can be made in 15-30 minutes if you have a plan and have all the supplies you need. This is much faster than picking a place to eat, driving there, waiting for someone else to spend 15-30 minutes to cook it, eating it, and then driving home.
5. Treat email like a task and utilize rules/folders
Just like push notifications, I try to not let my email dictate my life. I do not check email while I’m working on a task or group of tasks. If I checked each of my emails every single time I got one, I’d get no work done. So instead I check them as part of their own task, and then I do my best to respond to each of them as needed – not leaving things to be done later as much as I can help it – and then I move onto my next task. This way I only spend 15 minutes checking and responding to emails several times a day, instead of spending 5 minutes every 20 minutes. You do the math. I schedule my email task several times during the day, and then only once in the evening.
Another great way to limit your email from sucking away your productivity is to take any sort of “junk” email – promotions from your favorite stores, blog update notifications, news and entertainment site updates etc. and filter those all into a separate folder or folders. Then check those once a day for any can’t-miss items and sales.
Merlin Mann has a great project – Inbox Zero and he talks specifically about “processing” vs. “checking” email – his video is worth listening to/watching if you get tons of emails and want to be more efficient with your email processes.
6. If all else fails, turn off the internet
I’m addicted to the internet as much as the next guy, but when deadlines get serious, I just have to turn the internet off and get down and dirty with photoshop and illustrator. Try it sometime, you’ll be amazed at just how many times you mindlessly open up your browser or email in an attempt to procrastinate what you’re supposed to be doing. Now if I could only turn off the kitchen, I’d get even more done!