Edit or Eliminate?

It is OK to change your mind.

For several years I have had a calendar entry on the 1st of each month reminding me to send photos from my phone to Lightroom. But as life has changed, this calendar entry inevitably was closed instead of snoozed, or popped up when I thought I would have time so I dismissed it too early.

Edit or Eliminate?

The result was not productive – I still had photos on my phone that needed to be transferred.

This is not to say that if you leave photos on your phone in perpetuity you are not leading a Sustainably Productive (SusPro) life. Only you can decide that. I had decided what was SusPro for me was moving the photos on a monthly basis. The challenge was that my methods of reminder were no longer working.

Actual footage of my photos situation. This is about the max I can deal with and maintain Sustainable Productivity.

It was time for an edit.

Not time for elimination. See – I still needed the photos off of my phone. If I have thousands of images on my phone, I get overwhelmed (unsustainable), and I can’t find what I need (unproductive). I might take a screen shot of a book I want to add to my TBR or a recipe posted on a Facebook group. If I cannot retrieve it when needed, it is not useful for me.

Eliminating photos from my phone is not the SusPro way forward for me. Enter – the edit.

This one was simple for me. I made it a reminder on my phone instead of a calendar entry. Most phones have a native app for reminders. My iPhone allows me to make it recurring each month with no end time. Plus I can set the time for it to fire (i.e., not while I am working and have no time to move photos). Bonus points for being able to snooze it for certain windows of time (1 hour, until this evening or tomorrow).

Practical Application

Sometimes it is hard to figure out what edit to make. You know you cannot eliminate something, but the current practice is not working. Here are some real life examples from clients, divided into each Sustainable Productivity pillar.

Health & Fitness

Challenge: Changes in weather disrupts your exercise routine.

Potential Edits: Have a plan B in your pocket. If it is too hot to run outside, head to the treadmill. Take advantage of summer pool season by lap swimming and letting pilates slide for a few months.

Mental Well-being

Challenge: Summer camp drop off for the kids conflicts with a work meeting.

Potential Edits: Carpool and offer to do the afternoon pick up. Poll your colleagues to see if they could meet at another time.  Take the call from a nearby coffee shop or park after dropping off kids at camp.

Environmental Surroundings

Challenge: Your college student is home for the summer and clutter is taking over your house.

Potential Edits: Let her keep her room in the disastrous state, but close the door. Have a talk with her about how the clutter makes you feel and agree on boundaries (i.e., dishes go from her room into the dishwasher, not on the counter “for later”).

Your Turn

Sometimes when you are too close to the situation, it is hard to see the edits. Or you have lived with the challenge so long you get too frustrated to edit and you just eliminate. Let’s crowd source this on social media to see what edits you could make. Come over to Facebook and share challenges so we can all create the life we don’t need to escape.

By |2021-06-27T09:54:39-04:00June 28th, 2021|Habit Change|0 Comments

Reading Relapse

Remember how I said I was going to read less? I reduced my reading goal so I could free up time to create more of my own content?

Welp, you are only as sick as your secrets so I am here to tell you I relapsed this weekend. I finished three books I had going, and started and finished 3 more. Over a span of 4 days. It is a disease. I am powerless.

In my defense, this was not all my fault.

  1. I was traveling so I just had to do the Read and Return thing. It is not a flight without a R&R book.
  2. The reason for the trip was to help my dad and sister pack up my mother’s things, which I knew would be emotional so I wanted more books to comfort me instead of forcing productivity on the plane.
  3. When I arrived I saw my sister was finishing a book that I had requested from the library MONTHS ago. She finished it shortly after we arrived so I had an opportunity to snatch it and read before she flew home.
  4. We finished early and had time for about an hour at the pool on the last day. I can’t go to the pool without a book – I am not a monster!

But alas, I am here to come clean with a recap of what took me off the clean and narrow path.

Books I Finished

I had three books in progress that I knocked out over the weekend.

Keep Sharp by Sanjay Gupta

My dad bought this, and we are passing it around the family. It is a mix of neuroscience that bounced off my brain at times and practical advice that you can incorporate into your life. Much of his advice is part of the Sustainable You program as well!

The Janson Directive by Robert Ludlum

I really want to be a Robert Ludlum fan, but this is strike 2. And it took 650 pages to get to strike 2 (I cannot even remember what strike 1 was). His books are massive deep dives into foreign policy, weapons, overlapping timelines that don’t need to be there, and poorly written romance scenes. I can’t believe I carried this around the airport. I should have thrown it in the pool when I finished.

Three Girls from Bronzeville: A Uniquely American Memoir of Race, Fate, and Sisterhood by Dawn Turner

This was a book I read on my Kindle after getting an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from Netgalley. This was gut wrenching at times, eye opening all throughout. You cannot understand what privilege means unless you hear – and listen to – what others walk through to know their story.

Books I Started and Finished

Next there were three books that I started and finished over the course of the 4 days.

The Book of Lost Names by Kristen Harmel

While I will always pick up a book about World War II, I loved this point of view and combination of stories – forgers, book lovers, resisters. All from an airport Read and Return! What is not to like?

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

Super quick read from multiple narrators. I called the twists but really enjoyed getting there. It was extra fun because my sister finished reading it the day before so I was commenting as I read and we were able to have our own little book club discussion during our visit.

The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning: How to Free Yourself and Your Family from a Lifetime of Clutter by Margareta Magnusson

OK, not the best choice for a trip spent cleaning out my late Mother’s things, but when the hold comes up at the library you roll with it, right?! This was a super fast read (only 137 pages), filled with frank, practical advice, encouragement, and anecdotes about getting rid of crap now. Between this book and the weekend spent purging 154 reusable shopping bags and 77 bath towels, I came home and scheduled an appointment with a local consignment store.

 

Your Turn

What are you reading right now?

Note: I am an affiliate of Bookshop.org and will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

By |2021-06-22T08:03:34-04:00June 22nd, 2021|Mental Well-being|0 Comments

Sleep – A Foundational Component to Sustainable Productivity

Let’s talk about the elephant in the room – sleep deprivation. This impacts almost 70% of Americans. In my 30 years of studying health, wellness, and productivity, sleep has time and again shown itself to be the foundational component to a Sustainably Productive life.

Sleep deprivation has a detrimental impact on all 3 dimensions of Sustainable Productivity (SusPro). Let’s break each pillar down.

Health and Fitness

Lack of sleep has been linked to negative short-term and long-term hormonal changes in your body. Research has demonstrated that sleep loss (less than the recommended 7-8 hours) is associated with a higher Body Mass Index, lower leptin, higher ghrelin, and increased hunger and appetite. Ghrelin is a hormone that increases hunger, while leptin decreases hunger.

I think this is what the movie Gremlins was about. When you go to bed on time and get the right amount of rest, your body responds as a cute little mogwai. You coo and have those big round eyes and are generally pleasant to be around. Hunger is under control and you make healthy food choices because your body is in balance.

Tell me you don’t feel like this when your stomach is growling.
Photo source is Amazon

When you are sleep deprived, your body releases ghrelin which leads to increased hunger. This seems to primarily be related to acute (short term) sleep loss.

When you are sleep deprived, your body inhibits leptin which leads to increased appetite and storage of body fat. Data from the Wisconsin Sleep Cohort Study found that sleep deprivation is a greater contributor to obesity that hormone imbalance causing high leptin levels and is directly linked to increased BMI. This seems to primarily be related to chronic sleep loss – continued sleep deprivation over time.

Mental Well-being

There is a reason that sleep deprivation is used as a means of torture. Job performance suffers with lack of sleep. Psychiatric illnesses are made worse with lack of sleep. Driving while sleep deprived can have the same result as driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs.

The detrimental impacts of lack of sleep can be devastating and far reaching. They impact all the SusPro components of mental well-being.

  • Relationships. Please tell me I am not the only one who is impatient and crabby with her People when she is tired and sleep deprived.
  • Time Management. You can get more done – and focus more on the right things – when you are not sleep deprived. A couple weeks ago I was mentally limping out of the work week after not sleeping well and literally sat at my computer for a full 60 seconds before I could remember what I was supposed to be doing with a certain report.
  • Hobbies. Creativity is higher in those who are not sleep deprived. Additionally you will have more energy and patience to learn new things if you are not sleep deprived.
  • Rest. It is hard to rest when you are sleep deprived because you just end up falling asleep. This is ok because your body is claiming what it needs, but not great when your Kindle drops onto your face. A SusPro life needs sleep and rest in balance with each other.

Introduction to Sustainable You

Environmental Surroundings

I find that when I am sleep deprived the first thing to go is my environment. When I am exhausted and ready to drop into bed, the kitchen shutdown does not happen, clothes drop wherever I put on my pajamas, and there is a general feeling that a tornado hit the house.

Additionally, because sleep deprivation allows for less mental space for hobbies and SusPro time management, we tend to fall back on numbing out with creature comforts like social media and TV.

It is not something to push through or feel badly about because you “have no willpower.” Your body is trying to be good to you and signal that you need to sleep.

Let’s talk about how to make that happen.

SusPro Sleep Tips

While the Sustainable You Health and Fitness Module goes into depth about how to make small, impactful adjustments to improve your sleep habits, here are a few quick tips that you can try tonight.

  • Stop caffeine 30 – 60 minutes sooner than you do now.
  • Turn off screens an hour before bed.
  • Decrease your thermostat by 1 degree when you go to bed.

Your Turn

How are you sleeping these days? What have you tried that does or does not work? What do you notice about your mood and focus when you have slept 7 – 9 hours per night consistently?

By |2021-06-13T08:28:51-04:00June 15th, 2021|Uncategorized|0 Comments

Quick Tips to Declutter

It is always darkest before dawn.

You have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet.

There are dozens of pithy sayings to describe the “hit by a tornado” look that happens when you finally tackle your clutter.

But those pithy sayings resonate for a reason – there is a kernel of truth there.

The Storm

Last summer I brought home my mom’s cross stitch supplies. Reorganizing them and incorporating them into my supplies seemed like a daunting task – physically (there was a lot) and emotionally (it made me sad to think of her death).

But every time I went in my office, I saw the pile of floss, needles, and patterns sitting there abandoned.

I decided the effort of organizing this section of my office was less than the effort of seeing the abandoned stash for one more day. I grabbed my tissue box for the tears that would inevitably come, set aside several hours and took over a large space to tackle the work.

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out, and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” Cynthia Occelli

My starting point. The key here is to expect the chaos – and don’t stop when you get to this point. Get rid of what is not working and categorize what you want to keep. Group like items together.

 

Midway – Messy thread contained onto bobbins. This could be a natural stopping point if the day and emotions required it. I still have labeling and storage to do here.

 

The final result. I have seen other crafty people use a label maker on their bobbins, but hand written was good enough for me. This was how I defined “done” before I started – thread on bobbins, organized in their boxes.

The Payoff

Once the chaos of decluttering passes, you know you will be pleased with the outcome and glad you did it. Here are some of the ways you might notice yourself feeling post-decluttering:

  • You will feel light a weight has lifted from your shoulders.
  • The mental clarity you feel at not looking at the clutter will be noticeable.
  • This wont be a space you avoid going to – you can fully enjoy your home.

https://www.instagram.com/juliemorgenstern/

Quick Tips to Get Started

  1. Define what done means before you even start. For me on this project, I wanted to get the labeled thread on bobbins in boxes. You might say you are done when your clothes fit in your drawers or the linens fit in the closet.
  2. Start small. Then go one step smaller. I originally was going to sort all of my mom’s sewing supplies this day, not just her cross stitch stuff. I thought I was starting small (just crafts, not all her stuff I brought home – clothes, books, jewelry, etc.). Then I went smaller and landed on just cross stitch. Instead of organizing the whole garage you might do the outside fridge or just the sport corner or shelving unit.
  3. Identify bailout points. Taking breaks or tackling project in small bits of time requires identifying natural bail out points. On this project, I could have sorted one session, labeled the next and stored the third. If you are taking your kitchen one drawer at a time, maybe this is something you do while you watch TV each night. The key is to stop at those bailout points – even if you feel like you have mojo to continue.

Your Turn

What is an area of your Environmental Surroundings that you want to declutter? How can you break it into smaller projects with defined breaks with an identified goal in mind?

By |2021-06-06T13:42:35-04:00June 8th, 2021|Environmental Surroundings|0 Comments

Beginners and Dabblers

There is a danger in comparing someone else’s outsides to your insides. You most likely will not like what you find – often because you are not comparing your proverbial apples to their proverbial oranges.

There is value in being a beginner, a dabbler.

The Beginner

Let’s say for example you work in a fast paced office in corporate America. You are wildly successful and everyone hangs on your every word, waiting to rush off and carry out your requests.

What would it be like to do a slow paced activity like Tai Chi or Qigong in the evenings. You only have to listen to you and the purpose is to move as slow as possible.

Spoiler – it may feel weird. Like really awkward. You may <gasp> not even be good at it.

Congratulations, you are a beginner.

The Dabbler

Or what about this – you know you need something different, something more. You are seeking out that change of pace so you borrow cook books and the special baking pans from the library. Then you join a Couch to 5k group the following fall. January comes around and you gather 4 teacher friends to start a book club.

All of these things are enjoyable and you want to keep poking around to see what else interesting might be out there.

Congratulations, you are a dabbler.

Beginners and dabblers can be found in components and pillars of Sustainable Productivity. Let’s break down each pillar to see how being beginners and dabblers can help us create a life we don’t need to escape.

Health and Fitness

Ever since junior high school, I had a goal of earning a full ride basketball scholarship to college. It was like a mantra: tuition, room, board, books, and fees.

There was little room for dabbling. I quit the golf team when it interfered with pre season conditioning for basketball. Track was tolerated because I lifted weights heavily (I was a thrower), which was good preparation for playing in the post come basketball season.

I accomplished that goal and let me tell you how much basketball I play now: ZERO. I don’t want to play. Not even H-O-R-S-E. Especially not H-O-R-S-E.

Today dabbling is playing well below average tennis with my husband on a Sunday morning. Or flubbing a drive into the woods with my in-laws (I swear I will be free one of these Fridays!). Swim races across the cove, bike rides, or hikes in the woods – none of which are at anything nearing what normal people call “fast.”

All of this is a pace I can sustain lifelong if I want to.

Mental Well-being

On the May 20th, the Edit Your Life podcast talked about editing stress out of hobbies (one of the components of the Mental Well-being pillar of Sustainable Productivity). One way to do that is to let go of perfection and embrace being a beginner. This means all the uncertainty and messiness of being a beginner. This is very evident in fabric crafts.

Let me paraphrase the comparison idea from the start of this message – don’t compare your backside to someone else’s front side. In embroidery, there is a reason that the back is often finished so you cannot see it. There is a hot mess going on behind the curtain. FOR EVERYONE.

Looks like nice, tight and even stitches, right? Don’t turn it over!!!!

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I will save you from having to hear all of the times I had to rip out stitches or miscounted. Some of those errors are still in my embroidery. The list of rookie mistakes I have made in the name of hobbies is enormous:

  • Typos in every single one of my yearly family photo albums
  • Dead plants
  • Seams ironed the wrong way

You get the idea. But that is all part of the game.

Environmental Surroundings

Beginners and dabblers can make impacts to the Environmental Surroundings pillar of Sustainable Productivity as well.

My daughter is an artist and aspiring interior designer so we set her loose in her room with paints of all colors a few years ago over Christmas break. Some parts she knocked out of the park, some pieces did not get started.

My sister participates in a 365 day declutter challenge each year. Some items in the challenge she might tear through (junk drawer), while others are harder (storage bins with keepsakes).

It is in the trying that we create a life we don’t need to escape. Like we mentioned last week, it is chipping away at what isn’t David – even if you created the non-David that needs to be chipped away. Try something and see if it brings more satisfaction and ease to your environment.

Even if it is not perfect or perfectly executed.

Your Turn

Is there something you have been wanting to try or get back to? What small step could you take today to become a beginner or dabbler? Which interests you more – being a beginner or dabbler?

By |2021-05-31T16:31:27-04:00June 1st, 2021|Sustainable Productivity|0 Comments

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