Time management has long been my Achilles heel despite the fact that I have done extensive reading on the subject. Over the years, I’ve tried various productivity strategies, yet I continue to feel like I never get enough done and am always behind on my tasks. While I’m frustrated that I have yet to become a master of productivity, I don’t want to give up, so I will keep exploring different avenues and adopting new approaches.
What productivity “hacks” have you learned over the years?
Natural Rhythms and Productivity
One topic that I’ve given more thought to lately is the concept of natural working styles. We all have our own unique rhythms that point to the times when we have high versus low physical, mental, and creative energy. One of the keys to increased productivity is tapping into these rhythms and using them to our best advantage. Of course, we can’t always get things done at the absolute optimal times for us, especially if we work for someone else, but most of us can tweak certain aspects of our lives to increase both our productivity and life satisfaction.
It’s now been a month since I moved and started my new educational program. Things have settled down enough for me that I will probably be able to post more often. One thing I didn’t mention in my last post is that I now live just a few minutes away from my favorite mall! Since it’s been a long time since I’ve written about shopping issues, I thought that now might be a good time to revisit this issue. Additionally, the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale (NAS), which has been a big shopping occasion for me for many years, starts tomorrow. Since I started Recovering Shopaholic in 2013, I’ve approached that sale in a variety of ways, some of which were more productive and successful than others. In today’s post, I’ll share about my 2017 NAS experience, as well as what I plan to do differently this time around.
What tips and strategies do you have for successfully shopping sales?
Blogging about my compulsive shopping issues was kind of a double-edged sword. On one hand, it helped me to stick to a shopping budget for the first time in my adult life, as well facilitated my paring down an oversized wardrobe and refining my personal style. However, it also kept my focus firmly directed toward what I was buying – or not – and what I was wearing. In the beginning, that was beneficial, but I later felt that blogging on these topics hindered my recovery in some ways. For that and other reasons, I took a hiatus from my last blog and decided to shift focus when I began writing again. While I no longer want to write about clothes and shopping all the time, I’d still like to delve into these issues from time to time.
This is the first blog post I’m writing in my new home. My husband and I moved two and a half weeks ago to a condo we purchased about fifteen minutes away from where we were previously renting an apartment. The past month has been a whirlwind… Not only is moving stressful and labor-intensive, but the move exacerbated some of my health issues, which was disappointing because the hope was that I might do better in this new environment. That may still end up being the case, but there are some challenges that we need to address in our new home that we didn’t anticipate before moving. I also started a new educational program two weeks ago (more on that below) that is occupying a lot of my time and energy.
The above basically explains why I haven’t written a new post for so long. This blog is still important to me, but in the spirit of my word for the year – essential, I’ve had to take a few steps back and focus on what was most important since I didn’t have the bandwidth to do everything I wanted to do. I’ve thought of a few post ideas in the past several weeks, but none of them felt quite right. I may write about those things in the future, but I’m also trying to figure out how to make my posts less time-intensive. I definitely want to have everything I post be of high quality and meaningful to readers. That doesn’t mean they need to be lengthy, but old habits die hard! I hope to resume more regular posting as things settle down and I adjust to a new rhythm with my life.
Taking on a New Challenge
In regards to the new educational program, I am pursuing certification as a health coach through the Kresser Institute. I feel this is a good fit for me given my passion for health and wellness, my educational background in psychology and life coaching, and my own health struggles. I wrestled with my decision to sign up for the program for months. I felt it calling to me, but I had a lot of doubts, mostly because I’ve made a lot of bad decisions in many areas of my life, particularly in the realm of career.
I’ve had a lot of different jobs over the years and my career path has included many twists and turns. I have two college degrees (BA in Clinical Psychology and MA in Counseling Psychology) and a life coaching certification, have run three businesses (life coaching, web design, and wardrobe consulting), have done varied contract work in numerous fields, and this is my fifth blog. My businesses never took off the way I wanted them to, I haven’t liked most of the jobs I’ve held, and I’ve never found my true passion or “dream job.” Since I chose not to have children, I’ve felt even more pressure to forge a career that would serve as a large slice of my personal identity. That has never happened, though not for a lack of trying.
I’m a big fan of happiness and human nature writer and researcher Gretchen Rubin and I have read several of her books and many of her blog posts. The first book of hers that I read was called Better than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits. There are many interesting and helpful philosophies outlined in this book and I highly recommend reading it, but today I’m going to explore just one of these ideas: the concept of abstinence versus moderation.
I’m glad that I re-read the chapter about this concept in Gretchen Rubin’s book, as I had some misconceptions about it, including my thinking that the way it manifests is more absolute and constant than it actually is. In today’s post, I will summarize the chapter and share how the issue of abstinence versus moderation has played out in my life, as well as the ways in which I continue to be challenged by it.
Do you agree with this sentiment or do you think it’s best to avoid certain things?
Abstainers vs. Moderators
Moderation is based on the idea that if we deny ourselves something altogether, it will result in binging or falling farther “off the wagon” in the future. However, in many instances, it can be easier to resist certain temptations by never giving in to them in the first place. Sometimes when we deprive ourselves completely of something such that it’s not even an option for us to entertain, we end up feeling less deprived. Another potential benefit of this type of self-denial is that mental energy is conserved because there are no decisions to make regarding whether or not to indulge. Therefore, self-control doesn’t need to be mustered on a regular and ongoing basis.
What Gretchen Rubin discovered in her research is that some people are Abstainers and others are Moderators. Abstainers fare better when they implement all-or-nothing habits in their lives and Moderators do better when they indulge themselves moderately. For Abstainers, having something makes them want it more. Conversely, for Moderators, having something makes them want it less.
We’re closing in on the halfway mark for 2018 and it seems like the year is speeding by. I’ve written a few times about my theme for the year, “essential,” including my most recent post recapping my essential wardrobe challenge. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I really need and want in my life, as well as what brings me joy. I’ve come to understand that I’m more easily overwhelmed than a lot of other people I know. I used to berate myself for this fact, but I have moved more to a place of self-compassion and a willingness to honor my own needs. We all have different personalities and constitutions and that’s as it should be. When we increase our awareness of who we are and work with our personality traits instead of against them, we often fare better in life.
The tagline for this blog is “striving for happiness, peace, and fulfillment… in a chaotic world.” I added that last part because I often feel highly stressed out by the fast pace and “always connected” state of being that’s so common in today’s society. This way of life doesn’t work well for me and I’ve become far happier since I’ve learned to accept this fact and live my life accordingly. However, I’m still struggling with the concept of moderation, especially when it comes to technology and connection.
Does connecting online ever feel like this to you?
At the beginning of April, I took on a wardrobe challenge to help me better understand what an “essential wardrobe” is for me and how I can reach that desired goal. My April 6th post outlines the specifics of the challenge, which I completed this week, but here’s a brief synopsis:
- My challenge was a modified version of the “30 for 30 Remix,” originally created by Kendi Skeen of the blog Kendi Everyday.
- I set out to create two 30-piece capsules, one for my “out and about” wardrobe and one for my at-home wardrobe. However, instead of selecting my capsule pieces before starting the challenge, I built the capsules organically as I went along.
- As I wore closet pieces, I added them to the appropriate lists and continued on until I reached roughly 30 items in each capsule. I also cordoned off two distinct sections in my closet to contain my two “30 for 30” capsules.
- The challenge continued until I wore 30 “out and about” outfits. I originally thought I would just do 20 outfits because I only wear such ensembles three or four days a week, but I ultimately decided to honor the spirit of the challenge and continue on until I reached thirty.
- During the course of the challenge, I tracked how often I wore the items in both of my capsules, as well as captured notes about my outfits and how I felt wearing them (sort of like the “outfit journal” I kept for three years).
On Wednesday, I wore my 30th “out and about” outfit, so it took me roughly a month and a half to finish the challenge. While that may seem like a long time, I know it would have been at least a week or two longer had I not taken a ten-day trip to Lake Tahoe, during which I wore “out and about” outfits every day but one. In today’s post, I’ll share information about my wardrobe capsules, some wear statistics, and what I learned from taking on the challenge.
Here’s a snapshot of my two wardrobe capsules hanging up in my closet. The “out and about” capsule is on the left and the at-home capsule starts with the light green t-shirt to the right of the pants. Coats, jackets, and sleepwear items are not shown in this picture, but many of those pieces are included in the other images below.
In my last post, I wrote about the three different types of forgiveness – exoneration, forbearance, and release – and the situations to which they apply. Today, I’m going to expand further upon the topic of forgiveness with some tips and strategies for how to best forgive those who have wronged us. These suggestions will primarily apply to the third – and often the most challenging – type of forgiveness, release. Release is the lowest form of forgiveness and generally relates to situations in which the offender has never acknowledged wrongdoing or apologized for their behavior.
“I never knew how strong I was until I had to forgive someone who was not sorry.” ~ Unknown
Most of the concepts and tips mentioned in this post were derived from a podcast from The Savvy Psychologist, titled “5 Ways to Forgive People (Even Those Who Don’t Apologize),” as well as an article from Greater Good Magazine, titled “What is Forgiveness?” Other helpful resources on the topic of forgiveness are included at the end of this post and some relevant quotes (from this article) are peppered throughout as well.
One of the reasons it can be so difficult to forgive is that it feels like forgiving means excusing the wrongdoing or forgetting it ever happened. However, if we hang on to old hurts for a long period of time, it can result in tremendous suffering that only serves to compound the initial injury we experienced. While the pain of being hurt by others is an inevitable part of life, the suffering caused by holding a grudge and ruminating on past offenses is optional.
After a few posts on body image, wardrobe management, and transitioning to gray hair, it’s time to switch gears and pivot back to the realm of personal relationships. In the next two posts, I’m going to cover a difficult topic when it comes to relating to others: forgiveness. I wrote about that subject a few times on my first blog (this one is number five!), The Healing Project, back in 2010. If you’d like to read those essays, they are archived HERE.
In today’s post, I highlight what forgiveness is and why we should endeavor to do it. I also summarize the three different types of forgiveness and the situations to which they apply. This information comes from an excellent video from Prager University, featuring psychiatrist Steven Marmer. I’ve also heard Dr. Marmer interviewed on this topic and found his ideas on forgiveness both interesting and helpful. While you can certainly watch the video on your own and learn the information, I hope my summary will enable you to better internalize the concepts. I have watched the video probably ten times at this point, but writing this blog post deepened my comprehension of the material considerably. My next post will offer guidance on how to more easily forgive those who have wronged you.
What is Forgiveness?
Psychologists define forgiveness as a deliberate decision to release feelings of anger, resentment, or vengeance toward someone who has hurt you. In contrast, “unforgiveness” is marked by a mix of bitterness, hostility, anger, and fear. Holding a grudge or aiming for revenge can sap our ability to find peace and happiness, but finding a way to forgive without giving up our principles is no easy task. However, if we can find a way to do so, we will reap many benefits. Studies have found that those who score higher on measures of forgiveness are less depressed, sleep better, use less medicine, have more energy, and enjoy improved cardiovascular health and better life satisfaction.
It’s been well over a year since I last gave an update on my gray hair transition process. Although I was on a blogging hiatus for ten months during that time frame, I wasn’t in a hurry to address this topic once I started up this new blog. In truth, I have been dreading writing this post. No, I haven’t gone back to coloring my hair every four weeks like before, but I have made many mistakes along the way. At first, I wasn’t going to write about this at all and I even considered deleting my previous gray hair transition posts. However, I ultimately decided to write this difficult update in the hope that I might potentially save even one woman from going through what I have.
I have done more don’ts that do’s during my gray hair transition…
I’m publishing this post on the two-year anniversary of the last time I colored my roots. I should be done or almost done with the transition process by this time (hair grows an average of half an inch per month), but I’m not. The reason I’m not done transitioning stems from my not being in the right headspace to take on this journey in the first place. I wasn’t ready to fully embrace the process because I was afraid of looking bad and receiving strange looks or negative comments from others. Ironically, those fears only served to make things worse for me, as you will soon learn. The type of deep-seated insecurities I wrote about back in 2014 led to a series of missteps that have made the going gray process harder and significantly set back my progress.
In today’s post, I give a recap of the steps I have taken during my lengthy gray hair transition process. I also share some not-so-flattering photos of my hair at various points in the journey. Warning – this is a very long post that I considered breaking into two parts, but I think it works better as a single long essay. If you’re not interested in the topic of gray hair transition, feel free to skip this one, as I will be back next week with a different topic.
Last month, I wrote about my ongoing challenge with negative body image and shared some helpful tips on this subject from my online friends. Since I received so much helpful advice for improving a poor body concept and didn’t want the post to get too long, I decided to break it into two installments.
Do you sometimes hate what you see when you look in the mirror?
Today’s post is part two and I hope you will find it beneficial. I also highly recommend that you read the comments section of the original post, as a number of readers offered their own words of wisdom on this important topic. I love how much I learn from all of the wonderful women I know through this blog and my other online communities. As I continue to work on healing my body image, I plan to refer back to these two posts from time to time, and I’m glad to have compiled this advice for others to use in their personal growth journey.