Saturday, January 05, 2008

Six More Tips for Simplifying in the New Year

1. Shine the Sink: I’m getting a little on the obsessed side with all my cleaning and clearing. It’s amazing, though, how a shiny sink can lift depression.

I still haven’t finished my New Year’s Resolutions, but I’m slowly realizing that it’s because I’ve been slowly testing out changes, and making all sorts of little changes that are truly changing my life.

2. Email Once a Day: One of the biggest changes I’ve made is that I only check email once a day (Okay, sometimes twice a day, but I’m trying!). I only do email (no outclicking or switching to the web browser) and I either delete the email, respond and delete, put it in a "1Return" folder for something that needs a response this week, or put in a "2StayInTouch" folder.

But at the end of my email session, every single email box is completely empty. What a great feeling!

Even better, email doesn’t interrupt me fifty times a day. I had no idea how much time it sucked, but it’s freed up hours in my day.

(See ZenHabits for some more great tips.)

3. Blog Once a Day: I do the same with blogging: I read y’all’s feeds once a day, click through and comment, and then that’s it. Then I close Thunderbird. (Okay, okay, I’m still working on this bit.)

Doing one thing at a time sure frees up loads of time.

4. Check all your Comment Discussions Once a Day: Do you go back to sites to check and see if the blogger has responded to your comment? Do you end up having to click through all the blogs again, several times, to see the discussion?

Want to make it easier? Want all your discussions on one page? Or even better, delivered to your feed reader? is WONDERFUL. You just sign up, then click and drag a bookmarklet to your toolbar. Whenever you’re on a comments page, just click that little Track link, and it will track that discussion for you.

If you click on Tools, you can either have your feed reader fetch the feed of all your blog discussions, or you can go to, and all your discussions will be on that page. (Make sure you stay signed in.)

Handy, huh?

5. Get Back on the Wagon: If you’ve fallen "off the wagon" with your goals, then check out David Allen’s presentation to the Google staff. He reminds us that it’s just as easy to get on the wagon as it is to get off. No big deal, just get back on. Fall off, get back on.

Forgive yourself for falling off. It’s okay.

6. When Will You Be Done? I tend to go to bed (or not go to bed) every night feeling like I’m not done. I hate that feeling. I run from one thing to another and never feel like I finish anything.

But I’m creating boundaries. Do email, then I’m done with that for the day. Do blogging, then I’m done with that for the day. Write, and then be done. Clean, and then be done.

My dream is to be done with everything at 9:00 pm, so I can relax and read, watch a little TV, and go to bed peacefully.

I’m working towards it. I believe that I can still get the same amount of stuff done, but with a slower pace of life, if I just focus on one thing at a time. I’ll let you know if it works out. :-)

So how are your New Year’s Resolutions going? Or, how are your current goals going? Any handy tips?

20 bonus scribbles:

Zoe Winters 1/06/2008 09:37:00 AM  

My goals are going pretty good. I'm managing to keep the yoga and vitamins one. I'm trying to be more consistent on the writing ones. I've been maintaining my blog daily, that's a big one.

This is a great post. I was just reading the other day that one of the greatest causes of stress is constant multitasking, and that multitasking isn't nearly as efficient as people seem to think it is, that it's better to focus on one thing at a time.

Now I will take breaks from one thing to do something else, but I'm not constantly toggling back and forth between projects on my to do list, and I find that my monkey mind is a lot less chatter-y when I focus on one task at a time.

Rhonda Stapleton 1/06/2008 09:50:00 AM  

Good for you! My goals have been mostly to do a lot o' writing and to destress...going ok so far... :D

Edie 1/06/2008 10:07:00 AM  

What great managing goals. I know I should do something like that, especially with my email. I'm addicted.

Maybe twice or three times a day? lol I'll try to do that next week.

I know it's not a big deal getting off and on the wagon. I've been doing that for years with diets.

Karen Olson 1/06/2008 12:13:00 PM  

You sound so organized and in control! I don't make resolutions because I know I won't keep them. But my new goal is to write at least three pages of my WIP every day, and so far I'm writing four to five, so I'm ahead. It feels really good. And if I don't write one day, I know I'm on target so I don't beat myself up over it.

Anonymous,  1/06/2008 07:24:00 PM  

Those sound like fantastic goals. I especially like the idea of responding to my e-mails immediately. I still have unanswered e-mails from ages ago sitting in my inbox, waiting for me to get to them. Finally, like leftovers, they get too old and I'm relieved to say that they are beyond expired and I don't have to deal with them after all.

StarvingWriteNow 1/07/2008 07:09:00 AM  

Life has settled here and I am adapting to the new situation. My main goal right now is to keep the "W" train in the station. You know, Where is he, What is he doing, Who is he doing it with, etc. So far, so good.

Travis Erwin 1/07/2008 08:18:00 AM  

Thanks for the tips. Especially that tracker. I'm definitely gonna check that one out.

spyscribbler 1/07/2008 11:45:00 AM  

You have a yoga goal, too? Very cool, Zoe! I read that, too, about multi-tasking. I saved four whole hours on Saturday, and got much more done than usual, by not multi-tasking. Way cool!

Good luck with the goals!

spyscribbler 1/07/2008 11:46:00 AM  

Hey, Rhonda! That's great. You were SO inspiring last year when you did that book in two weeks thing.

De-stressing is something I need to do, too!

spyscribbler 1/07/2008 11:47:00 AM  

LOL, Edie. Well, I'm aiming for once a day, but it's usually twice a day. And I sneak a peak in the middle. :-) But even that is a huge improvement!

Hah! Me, too, with the wagon thing!

Ello 1/07/2008 11:47:00 AM  

that sounds very handy - but complicated. My wee brain can't handle much more stress!

spyscribbler 1/07/2008 11:58:00 AM  

That's awesome, Karen! I haven't written for nearly a week, which is extraordinarily odd for me. I've got a scene nearly spilling out of my head, so I'm gonna go get it down before I forget it.

spyscribbler 1/07/2008 11:59:00 AM  

Booklady, that's a good way to deal with them, too! I kind of like that method. :-)

spyscribbler 1/07/2008 12:05:00 PM  

Adapting is good. What else can you do? Email me and we'll go out! Or we can go writing, or just wandering around a bookstore. I'm on your side of town every Friday and Saturday, huddled up to the fireplace. Just pop by!

spyscribbler 1/07/2008 12:05:00 PM  

Travis, that comment tracker is awesome! Very, very cool. :-)

spyscribbler 1/07/2008 12:06:00 PM  

LOL, Ello. It's not complicated at all! You just register, then click and drag a bookmarklet to your linkbar. Then click it every time you want to keep track of the conversations on that page.

No complications at all, I promise!

Zoe Winters 1/07/2008 12:19:00 PM  

Thanks Spy! When did you start on your yoga goal? I've just been going since late December, but I haven't missed a day yet, even if I sometimes just do 20 minutes or so.

Wendy Roberts 1/07/2008 01:01:00 PM  

Wow, these are great goals! You've inspired me to set a few of my own :)

spyscribbler 1/07/2008 07:49:00 PM  

Zoe, start on my yoga goal? Well, it depends what you mean by start. It's been my goal for a year now. I keep falling off and on.

What's weird is, before I moved (just across the street), I had six or seven years behind me of doing yoga every single morning no matter what.

Since then, I just haven't been able to get back to it. It might have something to do with the fact that I used to do it on carpet, and now I've got a hard wood floor.

Or it could just be weird.

Zoe Winters 1/08/2008 08:26:00 AM  

Just get a yoga mat. They're pretty inexpensive. I love mine. And just go for 5-10 minutes a day if you have to to get started again. Any practice is better than no practice.