1.26.2012

Little Bites {January Update}

Hard to believe that the first month of 2012 is rapidly coming to an end. If January went by this fast, one can only imagine what the remainder of the year is going to do! Or perhaps I'm the only one who thought it flew by, in which case, hang in there, February is almost here.

If you need a reminder of what I chose as my Bite Sized goals for this month, I'll list them again to jog your memory. I wish that I could say that I had breezed through all of these goals and that they were now comfortably listed as good habits, but that isn't the case.

Here's the good news though - I'm getting better! I have settled into some habits (keeping the kitchen sink cleaned out, making the bed every morning, drinking more water, continuing to floss), I have been diligent about working in the office (major improvement - MAJOR), and I've gotten a slightly better handle on keeping the whole house picked up so surprise visits aren't heart attack inducing. Peter's happier with the state of the house as a whole, and he's thrilled that I've done more than simply talking about making changes - I'm actually changing. Imagine that.

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Goal #1: Spend one hour a week working in the office
Result: To ensure that I didn't burn myself out or become overwhelmed, I stuck a timer to the side of our filing cabinet and set it to twenty minutes. For the first few days, when the timer dinged, I turned off all the lights and shut the door behind me. After a few twenty minute days, I realized I was building momentum, so I reset the timer and continued to work. One day I stayed for 2 hours, another day, 1.5 hours. The key, for me, was knowing that I could stop anytime I wanted to after the initial twenty minutes were up.

Want to see before and in-progress photos? For the record, the BEFORE photos were taken in November, before it got REALLY bad. When I started cleaning this month, both sides of the desk had stacks to the top of the printer, and the chairs had even more stuff on them. I'm not proud of that, just trying to paint an accurate picture since I didn't take a real one before I started cleaning (but I should have!).

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Goal #2: Spend 10 minutes each day (minus the week-ends) brainstorming for a book
Result: One day - I did this one day. I admit that I am totally and completely pathetic when it comes to sitting down and trying to brainstorm a story. While reading A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (D. Miller), I got a slap-in-the-face reminder of why I need to make an effort to write something every day. In the passage that grabbed me, Miller is quoting another book, The War of Art (S. Pressfield):

"The [The War of Art] is about writing, about the process of getting words onto an empty page. Pressfield said a writer has to sit down every day and write, regardless of how he feels. He said you can sit around and wait for inspiration to come, but you'll never finish your book that way."

{OUCH} I'm leaving this one on the "To Do" list.

Goal #3: Dust one room a week
(bedrooms, living/dining, library/kitchen entry, office/basement)
Result: Half success/half failure. However, here's a little tidbit for you: As I mentioned yesterday, I stopped using paper towels and started using old, mateless socks. I dust a room or two with a sock on my hand, then throw it in the wash the next time I do a load of towels. It has been working like a charm and hopefully it will help us save money as well.

Goal #4: Vacuum one room a week
(same grouping as above)
Result: I've been vacuuming as needed instead of sticking to the schedule. While I'm not totally pleased, making an effort to do SOMETHING on a regular basis is better than what I was doing, which was crisis-management. This is an area that I'll continue to work on in the future.

Goal #5: Clean out five items a week
(donate, trash)
Result: SUCCESS! I ended up cleaning out way more than my goal of five items a week, and I now have a large pile of bags and boxes sitting by my back door. My next project is to sort the stuff that can be sold on Craigslist (or in a spring yard sale) from the items that can go straight to my favorite charity shop. I've been a purging fiend and it feels great to open a cabinet or closet and see only things that I know I use, wear, or love. Jules and Mr. Morris would be so proud.


How about YOU? Any Little Bites updates that YOU'D like to share?
I'll be back on February 1st with my goals for the month.

19 comments:

  1. Congratulations on your awesome progress so far! May these successes continue to drive you forward in the coming months :)

    We've also had an epiphany here and my husband is actually on board to help me clean stuff out, which is just so totally awesome. I mean I love doing it myself, but there is just so much to do be done and some of it is his...so I'm not about to start trashing stuff that I will get in trouble for later! ;)

    I have mostly kept my desk cleared in my office, and work in there daily, where I really can concentrate better. Mack is starting preschool next week, which will give me 3-4 hours of uninterrupted time to work, so that should really help.

    We've gone through about 15% of the magazines on my declutter list and I have a big stack of them to scan now. I've said I will do 15 min/day scanning going forward. Not doing so great at it, but purged...wait for it...18 inches of paper from our shelves! Seriously, I think this stuff is multiplying on its own!

    You might want to check out Getting Things Done by David Allen -- that book is changing our lives. I'm sure I'll write more about it on Who is Tiffany once I finish it (hopefully this weekend). But from the first few pages even, your brain starts changing its way of thinking.

    lol the Captcha below is exesses -- spelled wrong but appropriate! :D

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  2. You're doing great!

    (I loved A Million Miles and The War of Art is on my list. You're reminding me how much I want to get it in my hands!)

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  3. Thanks Tiffany and Anne!

    Tiffany - It does indeed help to have your spouse on board with cleaning out projects (or any project, really). 18" is a lot - I didn't measure ours, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was similar. We were drowning in paperwork overhere! My shredder has been very, very busy. I have my eye on a scanner for the office once I get it all cleaned out, but I'm waiting for the price to drop.

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  4. Amazing what a timer can do! My grandmother's motto was '15 minutes a day!', even though she would add that you usually end up doing more than that, the first 15 minutes are the hardest. Getting going. You made huge progress! {my office ends up the dumping grounds for unfinished anything. This means not only does it get messy, but the mess is a reminder of all I haven't finished. It can get overwhelming. I want to finish everything instead of just clean.}

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  5. I like the idea of small bites. It's so do-able. And it seems to be working for you, too! I get so bogged down thinking about the big projects, I forget about the things that only take 5 or 10 minutes each day that make a difference. Congratulations on your progress!

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  6. Way to go, Carrie! : )
    I always enjoy your posts, but your posts about your goals and your financial updates are probably my very favorites.
    Oh -- here's an idea, for what it's worth. Try making the writing goal absurdly easy (like I will open my notebook and write for one minute, or I will write one sentence). And then tie it to something you already do automatically. For example, "after I brush my teeth (or sit down with my coffee, or something else you ALWAYS do -- there's probably a logical thing to link it to), I will open my notebook and write one sentence." This is the idea of BJ Fogg, who teaches people to form tiny habits. It worked great w/ getting me to floss my teeth and to clean out my car every time I park in the garage. You make it so easy (like his thing was floss ONE tooth or to clean out the car for 5 SECONDS), that you tend to do more that that one thing -- but it's totally fine and you have succeeded even if you only floss the one tooth or write the one sentence. It gets you in the habit. He might even make it to write one word, instead of one sentence! The keys are to link it to something that will be a trigger, and make it extremely easy. You can go to tiny habits.com, and he explains it really well and has a free mini program that you can do. Just a thought! : ) Good luck!

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  7. The office is really starting to look good! Keep up the great work. :)

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  8. Your progress in the office is to be commended! GREAT work. I love what you said about writing every day, even when you don't feel like it. I read the same D. Miller book, but haven't read The Art of War. I think I need to pick it up. Better yet, I should just write every day.

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  9. Wow! It sounds like 2012 is starting off very successfully for you!

    I'm with you--January has gone by so fast!

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  10. Great work! I like how you are establishing habits, I'm trying to do that to and it's nice to see how you wrote them down. I have just started writing myself through blogging and it sure is mind growing...it doesn't always feel good, but it sure is cathartic. I just followed you on twitter and pinterest, I love pinterest :) I "found" you from Jule's project, I am so thankful for this project and Jules. Thanks for sharing your progress, keep up the good work!
    -Lais

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  11. Great progress...I also recommend Julia Cameron's "The Right to Write" to get you into that 15 minutes a day mode. I was doing this for many months last year, but need to get back on the writing wagon. I make myself progressively more miserable the longer I stay away!

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  12. Great progress! I, too, have a difficult time establishing new habits, however small. That writing every day thing...SO HARD. And flossing--ugh. Thanks for sharing your goals--it really helps me work on my own if I know other people have the same challenges!

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  13. Ahh! You just inspired me for our home office. I'm posting about it tomorrow as my "confession area" - it is a disaster! But I could commit to spending one hour/week in there cleaning it out. That is doable. Thanks so much for a super idea. And, congrats on your progress in other areas. You are doing great.

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  14. I'm envious of the progress on your office! It's one of the rooms in our house that badly (really badly) needs a purge and organizing. I like the idea of 20 minutes at a time. It seems totally doable! Maybe next week!

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  15. i have been using the old sock trick for years and people have always side-eyed me and some have even flat out asked if i am crazy. but it certainly does work "like a charm" and is so much greener, too.

    chrissy
    http://www.mydearwatsonblog.blogspot.com/

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  16. Just popping by from P&FF. What a great job you're doing - it looks like a lot to organize, I don't envy you (well, I sort of wish I had an office to organize :)). The War of Art is such an influential read, you've reminded me that it is time to read it again!
    (Having problems...blogger doesn't recognize me...)
    -Jenn
    jenniferdouglas.wordpress.com

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  17. The office looks great! 4 out of 5 of my "bites" are going really well. The other one? eh...notsomuch. But we'll see how it goes this next month. :) Thanks for the update.

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