Monday, March 26, 2012

Happy Little Changes

I’ve written here before about my dislike of change. However, in smaller matters, I do seem to like change, even seek it out. I’m frequently reading about ways to better organize my life, get more done and bring in more happiness.  

Recently, I’ve made several little changes that have made a happy difference in my life, and I thought you might be interested in them:

I began to actively manage my email. I have several email accounts for various reasons.  After reading the suggestion to “zero out your inbox,” I did just that with the one that gets the most messages. I read and discarded or printed emails, made email folders for some of the regular newsletters I receive and so on. Now, instead of being bombarded with 25 messages every time I open this account, I usually only have a few to deal with. I can easily see anything new or urgent. If I can’t deal with it immediately, I put it in the applicable folder and voila! Empty inbox. (And what a nice feeling that is.) I plan to do this with my other accounts, too.

I reorganized my recipes. Even though I’m not wild about cooking, my family has this pesky habit of wanting dinner every night. Despite the fact that I tend to make the same things over and over again, I had a huge collection of untried recipes as well as a big three-ring binder full of recipes we’ve tried and liked. My binder was old and tattered, and our tastes have changed, and clearly it was time to do something with this mess. I could never seem to find that new recipe I wanted to try when dinnertime rolled around. After seeing a couple of versions of recipe organization systems, I took an afternoon and evening to go through all my loose recipes, keeping the ones we either already like or definitely want to try, and throwing away all the rest.  Family favorites either went into page protectors or photo sleeves (depending on their size) and the untried recipes got tucked into a pocket divider at the beginning of the appropriate section of the new binder I found. I typed a master list of our favorite recipes and slipped it into the front of the binder as well.

Even though I don’t like cooking any better with this new system, at least I can find the recipes I want when it comes time to make them. (One thing I didn’t do that I wanted to was put the date on the untried recipes, and after six months or a year if I haven’t tried them, out they go. I’ll incorporate this with any new recipes I add.)

Before

After
I stopped writing “Morning Pages”…and started writing them again. Ever since I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, I’ve been writing “Morning Pages” every day (well, M-Fri.) Some days, that was the only actual writing I did. Day in, day out, three pages in long hand would pour (or dribble, depending on the day) into my composition notebooks. Every day began to sound the same (what I did yesterday, what I will do today…). I bored myself. I wasn’t getting the bubbling up of ideas I got when I first started writing Morning Pages, and frankly I was a little sick of them. So I quit writing them. Surprisingly, the Creative Police did not come and arrest me, and after a week or two, I found I missed them. I was at a loose end in the morning, drifting without anchor. One day I picked up my composition book again, and words poured forth. Now I’m back to writing Morning Pages most mornings, if not all.

I began Yoga Journal’s 21-Day Yoga Challenge, beginner level. Each day, I get an email with a link to a yoga routine and meditation, a challenge tip and a recipe (and yes, the Yoga Challenge has its own email folder). I’ve dabbled in yoga off and on for years, and wanted to add more yoga to my exercise routine because it makes me feel good. The longest video so far has been 35 minutes, so I’ve been able to fit them into my days fairly easily. Every morning I check the daily video to see how long it is and what time of day it would be best to do it—some of the routines are relaxing and some are invigorating. I’ve been surprised at exactly how difficult some of the poses and routines can be, even though they are labeled for beginners.

Finding a way to fit in an extra 15 to 30 minutes of exercise doesn’t seem like it would be too hard—but sometimes it is. I’ve figured out, though, that because it’s a “challenge,” I’ve taken it on as such, and really make an effort to do it every day. When I focus on getting it done, I find a way. (I’ve missed two days in the past two weeks.) I’m wondering what else I could “challenge” myself to do—maybe 15-30 minutes of extra writing every day? I think that’s doable!

None of these changes is anything very flashy or earth-shattering, but taken together, they’ve made my day-to-day life a little more pleasant.

What happy little changes have you made lately?


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8 comments:

Laure Ferlita said...

Perhaps that's the problem...I don't think I've made any small changes lately and I know I need to. Actually, I need to make some big ones too.

Glad your changes are making life more agreeable!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Sometimes we (I) get overwhelmed trying to change too much or too large a thing. Little changes are easier, and easier to maintain. Good luck with whichever change you decide to make!

Elizabeth Smith said...

Well, this is fortuitous! I just filed a huge pile of errant emails this morning. :) what a good feeling! Why did I wait so long? And recipes...I have the same "before" pile as you, but perhaps more hodge-podgy. The third time I sifted through it looking for a particular recipe, I thought wistfully of what it would be like to have the entire stack organized. Every recipe is a different size! And then I write little notes on them when I make modifications. Ack! Now at least I'm inspired to organize a 3 ring binder. I'll have to start one and work on it in bits, though. Thanks, Kathy!!

Cheryl Gebhart said...

Good for you for making those small changes. Sounds like they're all good. I haven't really made any changes lately myself - the one I need to do most is to organize my sewing room! I have organized a couple of stacks of fabric recently - does that count? LOL!!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Elizabeth--that huge pile of recipes can be daunting, can't it? Take heart--it actually took me less time than I expected to get through them, and it felt so good to be done. Now I just have to keep up with the system!

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Cheryl--Sure that counts! I'm all about the little changes, baby steps, etc. They all add up.

Timaree said...

My son told me to quit worrying about deleting emails. He never does and uses the search tool to find what he needs. It drives me crazy though so I keep deleting.

New habits? Like getting lazier and lazier? What I need to do is give up computer games! With the warmer weather and growing weeds, I have gone out to hoe them a couple of times. I'll call that my new little habit as I'll be watering more often now too.

Kathy A. Johnson said...

Timaree--I can't stand to see all those emails in my inbox--it drives me crazy!

I guess watering and hoeing is probably "better" than playing computer games...but it doesn't sound like as much fun!