As I mentioned in my last post, I’m not happy with how infrequently I have been posting on this blog in recent months. I’ve wracked my brain for a long time to try to figure out what has stood in my way of blogging more regularly. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about. After all, I have written numerous articles on various topics since I started Full Life Reflections, including intentional living, relationships, technology, self-esteem, and wardrobe management. I thought that maybe I was just experiencing writer’s block, but I recently came to understand that my issue runs a lot deeper than that.
In today’s post, I share the two primary reasons why I haven’t been blogging very often. I then delve deeper into one of those reasons, as it has also been standing in the way of my living a more fulfilling life. I suspect that many of you may also struggle with the same issue, so perhaps we can help each other to make some headway in pushing past it. Most of us connected with each other because we struggled on some level with shopping too much, having too many clothes in our closets, or not being happy with the way we dress (or perhaps a combination of all of these things!). But while such clothing challenges can be difficult and need to be addressed, they often serve to mask or distract us from deeper life concerns. It can be a lot easier to focus on what’s wrong with our closets instead of what’s missing from our lives. I have done just that for many years, but I don’t want to do it anymore, which is a big reason why I started this blog back in January 2018.
My First Reason for Not Posting
When I post here, I want to share things that I feel will be of value to readers. Sometimes this goal lines up with what’s most on my mind and sometimes it doesn’t. At times, what I’m thinking about most often is not something that I want to write about, primarily because I don’t feel that I’ll be able to share useful information with you. While I always want to be real and honest here, I don’t want to be a “Debbie Downer” or a “Negative Nancy” and just bitch and moan about all of the things that are bothering me. I feel that it’s okay for me to share my discontent (that’s part of being real and honest), but I want to combine that with offering useful tips or “nuggets” of information that can help you to improve your lives. When I don’t feel that I can do the latter, that’s when I hold back from posting.
I know that I don’t have to have all of the answers, but I would like to at least be able to offer some potential solutions for you. But when I look back at the posts that I’ve written, I’m reminded that sometimes what I’ve done is summarize and simplify insights and suggestions that others have written. Here are a few examples of posts in which I’ve done just that:
- What is a Full Life? – Revisited
- On Forgiveness: The Three Types and When They Apply
- Are You a Moderator or an Abstainer?
- The Importance of Novelty for Happiness and Fulfillment
- The Importance of Solitude
- On Connection, Technology, and Freedom
I realize that synthesizing information is one of my gifts and the above posts are some of the ones that I have been most proud of. While I like to share my own concepts on the blog, I also enjoy bringing my favorite ideas from others to your attention – and offering my thoughts on how those insights have impacted my life. I see this blog as continuing to be a combination of these two types of posts.
My Second Reason for Not Posting
Besides what I have shared above, there’s another compelling reason why I haven’t been posting. I’ve also been dealing with poor time management, which has gotten in the way of my being productive in all areas of my life. Although I believe that I should be able to get many things done each day and week, my reality has looked a lot different from that. My productivity has been absolutely abysmal and that has affected my morale and self-esteem.
I’ve tried to turn this around numerous times, but it continues to be a big problem for me. I may have a day or two here and there on which I get going and get a lot done, but this has been more the exception than the rule. I’ve been feeling increasingly demoralized because this is not how I want to be living my life. While I’m grateful for the level of freedom I have, I think there can be such a thing as too much freedom such that it can start to feel like a prison of sorts. Of course, this prison is of my own making and I’m the only one who can engineer my escape from my jail of poor time management and inertia.
If one were to look at my desk and planner, they probably wouldn’t think they belong to a person who struggles with time management. I always have multiple projects going on and I maintain a lengthy to-do list at all times. But perhaps this is part of the problem, as it’s not about getting a lot of things done; it’s about getting the right things done. I wrote about the importance of efficacy over efficiency back in March 2018, yet I have failed to heed my own good advice (well, actually it was advice from Tim Ferriss that I summarized and shared my thoughts about).
The “Just One Thing” Approach
Fortunately, I stumbled upon a YouTube video today that just may hold the secret (or at least one secret) to solving my time management woes. This video (which came up as a “suggested” video) was from The Minimal Mom, who creates videos about family minimalism. The Minimal Mom’s advice is similar to that of Tim Ferriss, but it’s even simpler, which I think I need right now. You can definitely watch the video yourselves, but I’ll summarize it here as a handy reference for those who want to try what The Minimal Mom suggests.
Many of us have lengthy to-do lists that can feel daunting for us. When we sit down to start working through our lists, we usually pick the easiest items so that we feel a sense of momentum in getting things done. We often keep pushing the more difficult or intimidating items (what Brian Tracy called the “frog” in his great time management book, Eat That Frog!) out to the end of the day, the next day, and so on. When we do this, we frequently feel like we’re not good at managing our time and that we’re disorganized and even lazy, despite the fact that we’re getting lots of things done.
The problem is that many of us aren’t prioritizing things correctly. We feel busy and we’re checking multiple items off of our to-do lists, but we’re not tackling the most important tasks. This can create a low level of anxiety that permeates our days and gets in the way of our feeling productive. To avoid this feeling (which I have most of the time!), The Minimal Mom suggests that we ask ourselves the following question at the beginning of each day:
“If I could only do one thing today, which item on my list would make me feel accomplished and like I got something important done?”
When we answer this question, we have a singular focus to our day. When we do the item that we have identified as our “one thing,” we can feel like our day is a success even if we are interrupted and aren’t able to get anything else done. We will have at least accomplished the most important item on our list. Sometimes this item doesn’t even take that long to do, either. We put things off for days and days and when we finally do them, we’re often surprised at how little time they actually take. The Minimal Mom mentioned a task that she put off for almost a week that only took her 45 minutes to complete. This type of example can apply to all of us.
The truth about to-do lists is that they are never-ending. They will never be complete because as soon as we check some items off, we will find others to add. Trying to finish our to-do lists is a “fool’s errand.” Our progress with a to-do list is not the barometer of a successful day, week, month, or year. Identifying our priorities and getting them done is a much better approach. When we get our “high impact” tasks out of the way, we feel better about ourselves and are generally more energized to tackle other projects that we’re not looking forward to.
After watching The Minimal Mom’s inspiring video, I selected “writing a blog post” as my one thing for today. This item had been hanging over my head since the beginning of last week, when I was hoping to publish a post. Because I continued to push this task (among others…) out, I experienced that low level of anxiety that was mentioned in the video. I felt unproductive and like a failure even though I was crossing lots of items off of my list. I built the task of writing a blog post up to more of a mountain than it actually was. Once I sat down to write the post, it took me just a couple of hours to get it done. I feel a sense of accomplishment and I’m happy that I was able to potentially add some value to your lives today with what I had to share.
I plan to continue using the “just one thing” approach at the beginning of each day. It’s simple yet powerful and I think it will make a big difference in my life. I’m hopeful that it will help me to get out of the rut in which I’ve found myself in recent months. I also plan to revisit the “essentials for happiness and peace” that I wrote about earlier this year in this post and this one. I probably set out to take on too many new practices when I wrote those posts, so I’m just going to select one practice to integrate into my life and then build from there.
As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day, so I can’t expect to figure everything out and get everything done super quickly, either. But I have more confidence now that I can accomplish the most important things and feel better about myself, and I’m grateful for that. While the YouTube “suggested videos” feature can be a major time sink, it served me well today.
I hope you enjoyed this post and gained some value from it. I would love to read your thoughts on the “just one thing” approach, and I’d also love for you to share the time management ideas and practices that you’ve found most beneficial in your lives. I’ll be back soon to recap my “freedom” theme for the year and to share my theme for 2020, as well as other posts related to living a more fulfilling life. Wishing you peace and happiness this holiday season and always!