Daily Victories and Mapping Out a Successful Day

BigMagicFinal_cropped-for-headerMost of you will agree that we can read, listen and study for hours upon end on how to enhance our minds and become 1% better versions of ourselves daily, but the greatest lessons in life are from actual experience. 

Mapping Out a Successful Day

I am a professional list maker and note taker. If I don’t write it down, my wild and creative crazy nine year old inner child takes over and the next thing you know I have 20 projects that I have begun but will probably never finish. This is one of the things that I struggle with daily, so I have decided that as I begin to declutter my life and brain, I will become more mindful of my approach and system to tackling the day.

Listening to an interview with one of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Gilbert, author of  Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear I love the way she handles the creative younger sister in her mind, the one who wants to do everything at once. She calms her down by devoting 15 minutes a day to letting her mind run free and capturing those creative thoughts on index cards and in notebooks – to do later on.   Listen to her interview with Rob Bell here.

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The Morning Journal, Master List and the Top 5 for the Day

As for prioritizing my daily to do list, I have a new approach. I have come to appreciate the wild and creative mind that I have as just an excitable version of me that wants it ALL and that is okay. I love that about me, I just know that I can’t do it ALL right now. So here are my steps/system to making it happen over time.

The Morning Journal

After a five minute gratitude journal moment, I write down my goals and tasks for the day/week/month in Evernote. I love how Evernote is accessible from everywhere – my phone, desktop, tablet and laptop and automatically syncs my lists so they are always updated.

Organizing My Tasks – The Master List

I organize these tasks in three categories: Personal, Work and Creating (writing, photography, making things). I dump everything I want to include in this master list – things like outlining my book, clients I have to call, learning more about social media strategy and tools like Periscope, etc.

My Daily Top Five

I then take a notebook from Muji (love this Japanese store) and write down the Top 5 tasks I will complete for the day – or start for the month. I am sure to include at least one thing from each area of my life to keep it balanced. I prioritize by sense of urgency and importance.

I also use Moleskin note books and Pinterest to help keep track of things that inspiring me throughout the day.

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Recording Daily Activities

Try this with me.  I am now committed to taking an extra 90 seconds a day and recording not only what I have achieved, but how it felt to accomplish the task. This will include my personal and work achievements because I don’t believe any one of my clients is recording my wins. This job journal will come in handy later on when I decide to raise my fees and move towards more.

Organizing Systems

If you love journals and notebooks and have developed a system for creating tasks and documenting wins I would love to hear more about what works for you. Be sure to comment in the section below.

Moleskine_notebooks_GROUP Moleskine Classic Notebook, Extra Large, Plain, Black, Soft Cover (7.5 x 10) (Classic Notebooks)

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Not just for wandering the world, Midori Traveler’s Notebook Brown Leather (1, 1 LB)

Because inspiration can spark at any time. . .

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Rite in the Rain – Green Tactical Note Book (All Weather)

On your road to greatness, the details make all the difference. Write them down.

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Leuchtturm Medium Notebook, Ruled, 5.75 x 8.25 inches (LBL11)

A Sky Like Mind, Active Abs and The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating

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Have you thought about what pace feels right for you? At times I do have a need for speed and love the energy and creativity that feels supercharged in big cities like Manhattan. Right now, I feel the need to breath deeply, chill out and slow down to refocus. Not unplug, just down shift to first or maybe second gear.

Something clicked the minute I stepped off the plane at Providenciales. An assuring voice inside my head delivered a comforting message “a more intentional pace.” This slower island pace. Not the harried, brisk and hurried hustle of New York, but the more deliberate and intentional easiness, much like the gentle movement of the waves and soothing breezes of this island.  I am not describing a snail-like, creeping, lazy/boozy pace, but that of speaking, thinking, walking and working which is more conscious, considered and purposed. More thoughtful living. This is the pace for now.

And so it goes with meals, especially meals together. My memories of my youth bring me back to four hour dinners around the long outdoor communal table, under the grapevines, with my loud and excited extended Italian family. The never-ending conversations, the slow and relaxed experience of enjoying a meal together.

The Art of Slow and Mindful Eating begins with an intention to create an experience. Setting the mood, dimming the lights, selecting soft and slower music and smaller plates,  create an atmosphere for mindful eating.  Imagine setting a stage to enjoy and savor your meal. This mindful eating ritual can be extended to any meal – from breakfast to dinner. For more tips on mindful eating, check out Dara Rose, PhD, neuroscientist, foodist, author and the creator of Summer Tomato.

I start my meals by saying grace. Sometimes privately, sometimes with my family. Saying grace can transform a mere meal into an act of celebration, focus, and gratitude.

Listening to meditation talks from Tara Brach, I actually envisioned what she describes as “A Sky Like Mind“, a more expansive mind that allows me to open to the very healing, healthy and beautiful moment that is right now, this healing presence.  Tara’s podcasts and book, Radical Acceptance has really helped release the fear, worry and pain that stems from the mental swirl of anxious activity, the grasping and wanting that only proves to enslave my mind.

It is by meeting each moment throughout the day with radical acceptance for what ever is going on and holding those feelings that arise with a compassionate and open heart, a forgiving heart, this is feels like true freedom.

Reading
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha

Active Abs

With everything moving at a slower pace this week, I had the opportunity to try Pilates class for the first time. One of the slowest classes I have attended in a long time, a slight pick up from yoga, nothing about the Pilates Method is haphazard. The reason you need to concentrate so thoroughly is so you can be in control of every aspect of every moment.  The one reminder that I have walked away with today is Active Abs and focusing on my posture, especially when sitting at my desk for hours at end.  Two exercises to help you feel your abdominal muscles correctly.

The Busy Trap, Turks & Caicos and the Art of Slow Travel

Parrot Cay

If you live in America in the 21st century you’ve probably had to listen to a lot of people tell you how busy they are.  It’s become the default response when you ask anyone how they’re doing.

Busy, so busy, crazy busy.

It is is pretty obviously a boast disguised as a complaint. And the stock response is a kind of congratulation. “well that’s a good problem to have!” “Better than the opposite.”

This frantic self-congratulatory business busyness is a distinctly upscale affliction. Notice it isn’t people pulling back to back shifts in the ICU or those taking care of their senescent parents or holding down three minimum wage jobs that have to commute to by bus, who need to tell you how busy they are. What those people are is not busy but tired, exhausted, dead on their feet.  

 It’s almost often said by people who’s lamented business is purely self-imposed- work and obligations they’ve taken on voluntarily. Classes and activities they’ve encouraged their kids to participate in. They’re busy because of their own ambition or drive or anxiety because they are addicted to busyness and dread what they might face in its absence.  –  excerpt from Tim Kreider’s “The Busy Trap”

The Art of Slow Travel

I’m leaving this Sunday for an impromptu week on Turks & Caicos –  Parrot Cay to be precise.  My husband was called down on a design and build mission and I get to tag along. You see we don’t do vacations, we do “adventures”. Sailing excursions where we squeeze six humans on a 35 foot boat for 18 days. Camping trips with small babies up the Cape coast for three weeks. I don’t really understand the concept of doing nothing. It frightens me like nothing else.

So, unfortunately, I’m already worried about the wi-fi. Really? Well there goes 100 hours of meditation practice down the drain. Will I have a bike? 24/7 internet access? transportation to island hop? Access to anything I might, need, want, desire?  What if I get tired of the beach? Will I be “trapped” on this beautiful slice of heaven? And to think I’ve been dreaming of going on a silent meditation retreat. Who am I kidding? Laughing very hard at myself right now.

This neurotic anxiousness of being left out (a bit of FOMO I gather) reminds me of a brilliant essay that Tim Kreider wrote for The New York Times a few years ago. It’s called Lazy, a Manifesto.  For anyone who feels the same, it’s a quick must read- the full essay here The Busy Trap, Tim Kreider and one of my favorite book of short essays buy the same author –

We Learn Nothing: Essays

While I do feel incredibly blessed with this opportunity to go, I ask myself, how will I learn to slow down, savor and enjoy this gift of a “vacation”? Perhaps I will meditate on Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice and enjoy a moment of nothing.

If you can find a moment to sit, wherever you are, stay there and enjoy nothing. Just enjoy your in-breath and out-breath. Don’t allow yourself to be carried away by your thinking, worries or projects. Just sit there and enjoy doing nothing; enjoy your breathing and the fact that you are alive . . .

Taken from Your True Home: The Everyday Wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh: 365 days of practical, powerful teachings from the beloved Zen teacher

In the meantime, if anyone has suggestions about what to do or see in Turks & Caicos – I would love to hear suggestions.