1,2,3 Rule

There’s so many tasks that we procrastinate on, that we pass by to do “later”. I recently read an article about something called the “1,2, 3” rule, and as I absorbed it’s instructions, I found it to be pretty silly.

The basic premise is that when one of those simple chores pops up, one we’d normally dismiss, instead of procrastinating, instead of making an excuse, we vocalize the phrase “1, 2, 3, Go!” and then do it.

1-2-3-4-5-fingers-on-handC

See? Sounds pretty silly. But it’s simple enough that I figured I’d at least give it a shot.

You know what? It works. Since implementing the rule, the trash gets taken out on time, the puppy hair gets swept before it’s clustered in nests around the table legs, and the coffee grounds don’t have time to pile up on the espresso machine.

I think the effectiveness is connected with the habit – becoming aware of when we are procrastinating on a task is the hinge to birthing the 1,2,3 habit. Vocalizing it gears us up, mentally, to get it started. And since it’s such a small thing, it’s completed before we get distracted.

Lazy Sundays (it’s even raining here today!) are an idea time to relax on the couch, watch a movie, and veg out. When you’re heading to the kitchen to grab a snack, keep your eyes open for a quick chore you might have been putting off, and 1, 2, 3, get it done. Netflix will wait for your return

Analog Lifestyle – Part I: Analog Bedroom

I’ve noticed a habit that’s slowly gotten worse.. Lying on my bed around the time I should be going to sleep, but interacting with my phone for (sometimes) hours after I should have closed my eyes.. This not only leads to groggy mornings, but to grab my device as the first thing I do when I awaken.

It’s a cascade of bad habits, all stemming from the casual use, then dependence, on digital devices to provide some sort of structure. That’s the thing about structure: it’s an amalgamation of habits (both bad and good) that creates a framework for the day. It only makes sense that one bad habit begets the next, and before you know it, your entire schedule is rife with unhealthy behavior.

Alarm-clock_2093184bThe end of one day is the starting of the next. It’s a cyclical process. You often hear the phrase “Tomorrow is a new day, a fresh start”.. The promise of a clean slate is appealing, but for me it starts in how you end the day before. Removing dependence on digital devices at least an hour before sleep: cutting out “screen time” (as a friend of mine coined it when referring to how her kids consume digital content) lets your body start to naturally slow down – bright lights from displays (TV’s, phones, laptops, etc) all interrupt our circadian rhythms and disrupt our bodies from falling asleep when they need to.

If you’re someone who is on a device “for work” or are having difficulty with the sudden eradication of devices so abruptly before bed, try installing flux, available free of charge for PC/Mac, Twilight for Android devices, and jail-broken iOS mobiles, all of which “warm” the color profile of your displays, letting your body get tired naturally: mimicking sunset.
I rarely watch much TV, as I haven’t had cable since 1996, so there’s not much self control needed in regards to taking my flat screen out of my bedroom, however, I do now charge my phone downstairs in the living room, and have banished my Kindle to daylight hours, eschewing the convenience for the handful of regular books that I haven’t yet read. I’m on the lookout for a decent analog alarm clock: one that’s battery powered is fine, but I’d prefer actual hands versus a digital display: if you can recommend one, leave me a comment.

I’ve also set an alarm on my phone, but it’s not to help me wake up.. (I actually only have an alarm clock as backup: 90% of the mornings, I wake up before it sounds) Instead, it’s to alert me to a permission to start using my phone again. It lets me enjoy my mornings, unfettered.. Have a walk with Lucas, a cup of tea, go through my planner.. frame the day before I see what’s in store.

It’s been a couple nights, but I’m already asleep by 11 and awake by 5:30 – a behavior I haven’t seen in about 3 or 4 years – and honestly? It’s great to be back.

Cluttered Space / Cluttered Mind

I’ve been bad with the whole regularity thing in my past, and I still struggle daily with the process. When I had a full time job working for the man, despite my general malaise, at least I had a structure that was imposed upon me, and I could fit the rest of my own life within the crack, making a nice comfortable padding.

Now that I am responsible for everything,  it is only more important that I prioritize a routine that extols healthy habits: physical, mental and psychological are equally essential. That healthy mindspace has its root in the physical realm: comfort and familiarity are bred from a well organized living and working environment.

The apartment in which I call home (and my office) was an emergency choice – I needed to get out of my previous unhealthy space, and did not have much time to search.. It’s pretty awesome, but way too big, and way too expensive for me as a longer term solution.  I think I’ve moved every couple years for the last decade: comfort in my inhabited space often seems to elude me.. whether I convince myself that I need a room mate, or to live on my own.. this basement is too dark, or this other apartment is too big.. Excuses are everywhere..

de-clutter-mm

I’ve always found myself attracted to smaller multi-use spaces.. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been on my own for the better part of the last decade, but my space is very much my own, and how I inhabit/am comfortable in it rarely involves making it somewhere that’s ideal to share with a friend or for general socialization… I find that the more space I have available, the more I will find things to fill it up.. The older I get, the less “knick knacks” I own.. But the cleaner my space, the less non-essentials I have “cluttering” my space, then the more relaxed I feel.. If I forget where I put my keys, and they aren’t in their “home”, the less surfaces I have, and the less things those surfaces are adorned with, the easier it is to find them.

The image below is a bit amusing to me, as it details how to declutter one’s life.. yet the graphic itself is a mess, a veritable tangled maze of color, suggestions, and ideas.. Yet it does have plenty of merit. Part of organizational habit is making sure to take decisive permanent action every day to create a space and a system that works for you and your unique needs/situation; the other part is ensuring to divest time every day to keeping your space clean.. Sweeping for 10 minutes a day, washing dishes as they are used.. Not putting anything off. Decluttering is as much about avoiding adding new chaos as it is about stripping existing anomalies away!

Hipster PDA Nano

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted anything new.. This doesn’t meant to say that I don’t have a folder full of ideas and half started drafts.. It’s more that I’ve been working harder, and more flexibly, namely taking my evenings to catch up with clients

Part of this diligence requires an upper level of organization. I’m all about organizing myself, helping other with their own projects, and so forth.. I’ve tried using a digital device, going from phones to tablets to cloud synced solutions.. I’ll admit that I’ve spent money on subscriptions to services like Todoist, GTasks, and others, always turned away because I have to make allowances for the software.. it’s never flexible enough.

TO-DO-LIST

How a To-Do list looked at age 6. Pretty idyllic!

I’ve naturally done the gambit of paper organizers in my history as well, and usually the only ones with enough space for me to create my own system are too large or unwieldy.

Once I discovered the Hipster PDA from a post on 43Folders, I knew I’d finally found a way. Not necessarily “The Way”, but at least “My Way”.

Mine has undergone a handful of reiterations, redesigns.. I’ve tried adding colored tabs for different lists, alternate ways to secure it, and a plethora of other tweaks.. One direction that has definitely been consistent is the reduction in size.

The current construction has it down to the size of a business card. While it ends up being slightly on the smaller side than I prefer, the construction values afforded by its dimensions keep it from getting skewed, and keeps it organized. I call it the Hipster Nano to capitalize on the nomenclature hype that’s so popular with similarly sized technology, and because, well, hipster slang is hilarious.

Mine is constructed from re-sizing standard 8×5 cards down to the 3.5×2 that metric users are used to seeing as the size of a standard business card. I organize / stack it thus:

  • The top 12-16 cards are the cut/re-sized index cards, one for each type of list. I pretty much used stock cards that are lined on the front and blank on the rear. This gives me the flexibility to have text or images. See template below for how to measure and cut. A paper guillotine works best and makes short work of a package of index cards
  • Next up is 3-4 cards from each of my businesses. This keeps them always with me, and lets me carry a few from each venture. They help to provide some rigidity to the stack
  • At the back, I’ve created a small pocket from two taped together cards. This affords me the ability to fold up a receipt or note someone has given me, or to tuck in an emergency $20 bill

I secure the top left corner with the one of the smallest of the binder clips, the 3/4″, aka 19mm variety.

One of the “hacks” of my own invention was more of a solution for an ongoing issue.. the bottom edge of the stack would get caught on things, and would keep separating, folding up, essentially fanning out and quickly getting dog-eared.

What I did to solve this was to wrap a velcro cable tie around the bottom. This lets me un-clip the stack at the bottom and flip through the cards, reordering them on weekends when I move my work tasks to the rear and cycle my personal tasks to the front. I tighten it enough so make the fit snug, and I can re-cinch it if I add or remove a few cards. Note the puck I linked for you

Here’s a few photos of the parts, setup, and operation

 

Trytych

 

Above photos show the assembled and disassembled PDA, below is a template to show how to cut an 8×5 card down into 4 identical business card ones

Business Card Template

 

Let me know in the comments if this is at all useful for you..I’ve wanted to give back to the GTD community for a few months now, hopefully this post fulfills this desire. I know there’s no pen attached to this stack design, but I have plenty of places to tuck a pen in my EDC.

Namaste, and perhaps next week I’ll finish something more meditation oriented and everything will slowly veer back to center.

Carpe Diem? Carpe Momentum Temporis!

So, for those who don’t dabble in Latin, don’t just seize the day, seize every moment… While this is the core principle of mindfulness, examining just how to put yourself in the right mind is as simple as framing your day with a good sleep and a morning full of routines.

I’ve blogged about routines in the past and creating habits, so I won’t go into that again, other than to urge you to read back to much of the other stuff I’ve shared.  I suggest this purely because there is a bit of a progression, each post lives on its own, but is also a form of building block that ends up today.

mindfulness-poster

Thanks to the Therapy Change and Technology blog for this wonderful poster (which is now my laptop wallpaper! I particularly like how they included my dog in this picture! http://psykologprojekt.wordpress.com/)

I’ll admit that over the last couple months, I’ve gotten a bit carried away with meeting new people, and getting lost in that newness.. It’s easy to prioritize these new friendships and to stop looking after ourselves and our goals. I am happy to report that I am back to regular sessions on the mat, and that exercise is firmly entrenched in my routine again.

Returning to daily sitting was more excruciating than I figured it would be. I hoped that my previous habit would prove simple to slip back into, yet that was not the case.  Even ten minute sessions were predominately filled with trying to sort of my thoughts out into a state of tranquility. It was only through perseverance and daily 20 minute sits that I was finally able to return to a vaguely calm sense of Zen again, and this is after a sporadic bout of semi-daily sessions over the last couple weeks.

What I wanted to share with you today was my morning routine, and how I am able to approach every day with the optimal perspective.

And what would my blog be if it wasn’t a blend of technology and meditation?

So, without further ado, my morning is bought to you, in part, by better living through apps!

90 Night

90 Night

The first is a new app called “90 Night“, which sounds lots like “Nighty Night!” It is a mobile version of the website “sleepyti.me“, which helps you plan on the best time to wake up based on your bedtime, and then will set an alarm for you based on your sleep cycles.  I’ve recently had issues with my sleeping patterns, and even when I’d sleep over 7.5 to 8 hours a night, I’d still wake up groggy and have a tough time getting out of bed.  With this app, I’m going to bed later, waking up much earlier, but still feeling clear and wide awake the moment I open my eyes.  Sounds like magic, but this is the real deal. I got exactly 6 hours of sleep last night, got up at 5 ready to meditate and then even had enough energy to exercise! Again, this is the link to the free app, but there is a paid “Plus” version that removes ads, and will soon include other extra features.

MeditationAssistant

Meditation Assistant

The second is Meditation Assistant, an app that I have been instrumental in testing and proving feedback on how to improve.  This nifty app will let you login using Open ID, Google ID, or a couple other choices.  It will let you time your sitting sessions, mute all notifications while you are sitting, and sound a gong when you are done.  It then saves your progress, lets you post a blurb about anything you might have gleaned from that last session, and even maintain a streak.  The developer, Trevor Slocum, is fast to respond to requests and bugs, and is an overall amazing guy.  If you like this free version there’s a paid option as well with a few more features.

ddpyoga1

Ok, so I’ll admit it. DDP Yoga isn’t an app, but I’m surprised that there isn’t a tie in app available that would let advocates of the program track their progress, average and peak heart rates for the workouts. An integral part of the program involves wearing a heart rate monitor and staying within your optimum fat burning zone, and I grabbed this one off Amazon.ca since the price was right and the reviews stellar.

But this program is effective, efficient, and really flexible. As long as you can push past the vague cheesiness that is the man himself, aka Diamond Dallas Page, that crazy wrestler from the 80’s, you’ll explore a deeply effective workout regimen that combines muscle resistance with cardio, eschewing weights for bodyweight exercise.

Even 20 minutes every morning is a sure fire way to wake me up and kick up my heart rate, waking me up better than any coffee or other caffeine can. I was doing this 3x a week for about a month, and then daily for about a week before I started my new job. I’m now back on the wagon, and whilst perhaps I should not have jumped back into the workout I used to to at the end of my regimen, I’m glad to be back in the habit.

Here’s my vlog that accompanies this entry, and as always, if things get overwhelming, just remember to breathe..

new phone

so i finally splurged on a new phone, a nokia e61i. sweet, sweet symbian os. apparantly i can use something called picoblogger to post new entries on here wirelessly, and upload photos directly from my phone. all i hav to do is figure it out. please stay tuned.