Day 3012 – When Does A Habit Become A Habit?

This morning, Bret and I were discussing habits. He’s started a few checklists because he was inspired by my checklists. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve flossed pretty much every day (minus about 3-5 days) for a year. Bret has flossed almost every day since June. We have a “Floss Journey” checklist next to our sink to keep track. He’s started a “habits checklist” that he keeps above his computer. On there, he included flossing. I said, “well, why include that? Isn’t it already a habit? Don’t we track it elsewhere?”

It got us thinking, when can you call something a habit? When is it ok to stop tracking it?

For me, I HAVE to track everything I want to grow in. I can’t stop. Even though I do devotions in the morning, and it’s almost always the first thing I do, I still keep it on my to do list. Even though I am in the habit of blogging every day, I still keep it on my to do list. Ha ha, it helps to have to number of days too!

I think that the things on my morning checklist are finally habits. I am so thankful for that! Writing and working out have been completed since 9/4, but it wasn’t until 9/17 that I added in reading through two books, and working on building my pinterest account. I do feel like those are now habits. So, that’s almost a month.

This weekend, I created two new checklists – an afternoon slump checklist (including things like laugh for 5 minutes, have a dance party, and go for a walk) and an evening winding down checklist (prepping for the next day, doing the dishes, etc). I’m looking forward to seeing how they will increase my productivity and energy throughout the day.

When do you think a habit becomes a habit? When do you think it’s ok to stop tracking something because you’ll do it no matter what? Do you have a video that makes you laugh out loud every time? (I’m building a playlist on YouTube!) Let me know in the comments below!

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Day 3005 – Looking Into The Past – or – Man This Blog Was Bad Five Years Ago

One thing I don’t think I expected to ever do was reread my blog. There is a LOT to read. As I’m trying to build up my Pinterest account, I’m rereading….every….single…..post. I started on day 644, so you can do the math. There are a few posts that have been removed due to divorces, and I missed a few days near the beginning. Some days are just a photo, sometimes I did a week or two of “walking down memory lanes.” But it’s still a mountain of posts to review.

I realized something as I read through the first year…..I published some bad stuff back then. It wasn’t until I really started putting myself our there honestly that my posts had more impact and were something I could be proud of. This was the first post I thought about maybe pinning.

So if you’re a new blogger or working on a project and it just feels like it will never be any good, take heart, sometimes take a while to marinate and become what it was meant to be. And a blog, especially, is a thing that grows, changes, and becomes something else entirely.

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Day 2988 – Forged By Fire

One of my favorite pictures of growing in Christ, and life really, is the gold/silver and dross scraping. To purify gold/silver, you have to turn up the heat to get the crap out; the dross. After a round of high heat, the smith scrapes away a layer of the dross. This process repeats until the smith can see their reflection in the precious metal (check out this article for more info). This has always been my go to picture of the hard times in life. When an angry outburst shows me just how dark my heart can be, when an embarrassing moment show how deep my pride problem goes. I try to remember this when I’m looking down on myself.

It seems that most of us these days want an easy life. We don’t want to fight with anyone. We don’t want our car to break down. We don’t want to work too hard. We want to have time to sit back and relax. But live in this world for a few years, and you’ll quickly realize, you will be met with challenges, you will be met with hardships, and you will be met with devastating experiences. I think the sooner we can look at these things as part of the growth process, the sooner we’ll live in a state of joyful endurance. A mountain to climb isn’t an obstacle, it is a chance to strengthen your legs. The loss of a loved one reminds us to embrace those who are still here even tighter. A tough experience will mean I am stronger on the other side.

How have you been forged by fire and grown as a result?

This isn’t a purifying process, but a glass factory, those fires are pretty hot though!

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Day 2945 – How To Make Big Improvements – Track Every Minute Of Your Day

As I admitted two weeks ago, I spent five hours playing video games in one day. It was painful to admit this to Bret, to myself, and to my readers. Boy howdy, it was a very humbling day. Since then, I have tracked my time on most weekdays. The only exception is when I work out of the home office. I haven’t tracked my time on the weekends, but I think I’m going to start. It is astounding how much my productivity, drive, and accomplishments take a dive on the weekends. I don’t want to necessarily work all weekend. In some respects, I don’t want to work at all. But I can be more purposeful in how I spend my time, and that’s what tracking my time has done for me – made me purposeful.

So how can you track your time? There are many ways to track time out there, but for me, I’m all about pen to paper, and using Excel to give me percentages and totals.

My best days start with preparation the night before.

Evening routine:
– clean all of the dishes
– prep the coffee for the morning
– fill all of the water bottles
– prep my doTERRA diffuser
– write out my to do list for the next day
– pick out the sermon to listen to
– copy my time spent sheet from today into a new sheet, rename it, and remove today’s time

I’m not all there for the first 15-20 minutes in the morning. If I have to sit down and figure out what to do, what to listen to, make the coffee, etc, it will not be the best use of my time.

Creating my to do list:
– I open all of my different Asana accounts (I’m only at three, not that crazy….yet)
– I move all my tasks around based on what type of day I’ll have – am I working at home or out of the office?
– I’m currently writing out my to do list on a small legal pad. This has helped me keep my expectations grounded. I mean, really, I’m not going to finish ALL of my tasks on a large legal pad, it’s too optimistic.
– I list my daily must dos first
– If there are especially important tasks, I add a star
– Once I finish my list and pack up my notes, I sometimes take the advice of Deep Work* and say something like “you are done work for the day.” It helps to tell my brain – “brain, you’re not working anymore, you are free to relax and do other things right now.”

Because I’ve done all the preparation the day before, it’s so easy to jump into my day. I already know what I’m going to do first, second, third, and beyond. My workspace is clean, my air will smell pretty (thanks diffuser!), and my coffee will be ready.

I use legal pads to keep track of my time; different colors for different clients and purposes. Over the last two weeks, I’ve split a few of the categories I’m tracking. Before, I had the following categories:
– On Jen Stuff
– On Fun
– On Home
– On Bret
– On each client

But this didn’t give me a robust picture at all.

Here are my current categories:
– Building Business – this includes blogging, reading other blogs, posting in my Facebook group, posting on social media, etc.
– Writing
– Workout/meditation/yoga
– Devos/journaling
– Self-Care
– Relax
– Organizing
– Education
– Fiction reading
– on fun – games
– social
– on home
– Bret work
– Bret growth
– each of my clients

I’ve set up a spreadsheet that totals my time and percentages and I update it throughout the day. Yesterday, I started the day with a goal of hours and percentages to hit in different categories. It was great to actually hit those goals.

Here’s a peek at my legal pads. Please excuse the handwriting. 😀

Do you track your time? Has it helped you or hindered you? Let me know in the comments below.

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Day 2851 – Why The Hood Of My Car Made Me A Little Sad Today

Today may sound a little silly, but we’re all about silliness and simplicity over here. Last week, our car was involved in a minor accident. Today I visited a collision repair place to get an estimate. One of the things that will need to be replaced is the hood of the car. You wouldn’t think the hood of a car would make you thoughtful, but the hood of my car is a little different.

Back in 2008, I was driving from my job in Baltimore City to deliver an order to wedding clients. The sky was like the movies where one side was all blue and birds singing and the other (the exact direction I was driving) was filled with black, dark, menacing clouds. In a short 1/4 mile drive, the rain started to pour. In another 1/4 mile, I thought, wow, that’s coming down pretty hard, like hail. After driving a block or so, I realized it WAS hail. I pulled over and sat in my car as it started to rock back and forth from the wind. I watched the clouds around me swirl. I have never been more afraid and thought I was going to die. As I sat there, leg shaking on the break, repeating “I’m going to die” over and over again, lightening struck close by. It blew a transformer and took out the power in the block. I found out later a tornado had touched down only a few miles away. After many long minutes, the wind died down and I drove off. Very shaken up.

I have dozens of large dents on the car from the rain of hail. I never got them taken out because it is a constant reminder of God’s protection over me that day. As I look back on my life, I realize I’ve had several near death experiences, from a canoeing accident to knowing I probably would have died if I kept driving the night I was arrested. When I made my list yesterday, I left out a big one – there is a reason I am still here on this planet. God has things for me in this life. Whether it’s through my writing, creating a business to help others travel without going into debt, or just being a helpmate to my spouse.

So take heart friends, let the little, silly things remind you of the big things. And excuse me while I go cry over the hood of a car.

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