I always have a personal improvement project going on in an effort to make my life work better. I’m on a mission to eliminate hassles. I want a simple life that works for me and allows for serendipitous occasions.
THE FACTS: I am retired, single, and live alone, which inherently makes my life less complicated than the lives of people with jobs and families. However, I confess that I am my own worst distraction. I get the blame and the credit for what happens or doesn’t happen at my house.
I read several blogs every week that spur me to focus on my passions, to be mindful of my habits, and to have courage to change. Some of my favorites are James Clear, Becoming Minimalist, Nosidebar, and Zen Habits.
My life is like juggling balls (which I’ve never learned to do). Every day my intention is to accomplish four things: write, practice piano, swim, and read. Most days I get two of these things done; on a good day I complete three. Hardly ever do I do all four — certainly not consistently. Reading books is the item that seldom makes it to the accomplishment list.
A few weeks ago I read a post by James Clear on how to read more books. His suggestion was to read twenty pages a day — a simple action that is certainly possible for most of us. He also wrote about our first-hour-in-the-morning routine.
So I’ve been pondering. . .not just his words but the accumulation of wisdom from other blogs about habits and failures and time-stealers and excuses.
I like leisurely mornings. My habit is to get up, fix my coffee, check my email, play a game or two on the computer, read the paper, and do the puzzles. By then nearly two hours have slipped away before I’m finally ready to start my day.
Three weeks ago I created a new morning routine. I fix my coffee, then settle into my favorite chair and read twenty pages (often more). Along the way I fix my toast, pour more coffee, and continue reading. Then I head to the pool for my thirty-minute lap swim. Only after returning home do I check my email. Now I have the rest of the day to juggle the remaining two balls: writing and practicing.
My evening routine has changed, too, though it wasn’t part of my original plan.
My habit had been to practice piano late at night. After I went to bed the spinning music in my head was nearly impossible to shut off. Often after practicing I played a few games of computer Scrabble to end my day. You know how it goes: just one more game. . . or I’ll quit when I win. I consistently stayed up way too late and consistently had difficulty falling asleep.
Now at 10:00 each night I finish practicing and close down my computer. I turn on some quiet music and continue my morning’s reading until my eyes are tired, then go to bed.
These simple tweakings have brought surprising results:
- my four activities are being juggled successfully, with minimal effort
- I fall asleep quickly every night
- I usually wake up before my alarm goes off.
It all started with reading twenty pages in the morning. I didn’t expect such impact from one tiny decision.
Small changes matter. What change can you make to allow you to pursue your important stuff?
Until next Tuesday . . .