Category Archives: Productivity

Titania’s tenth month: A New Morning Ritual

I have two great evening routines. For many years now I’ve been writing in my feel-good book, not every night, but often. Here I write down a few words about what has happened if I want to (no stressful reporting duties), and – more importantly – “Three (or more) things that I’m grateful for today”, “Something I need help with” and “Something I’ve done to feel good” (such as yoga, meditation or a jog). Writing down these things is a way for me to focus on some positive aspects, even a day when the sun isn’t shining. I strongly adhere to Dalai Lama’s idea that we’re so good at dwelling on the negative aspects in life, that we don’t have to make an effort to remember these, whereas what we really need to make an effort to do is notice all those little miracles in life.

Thanks to the Memento Vivere project, I also finally managed to get back to meditation last August, and now I meditate regularly, almost every evening before I go to bed. Meditation is usually an efficient remedy for my inspiration overload, although every now and then it seems to have the opposite effect, i.e. to open up yet another channel to my creativity. In those cases  I simply have to give up and go write down whatever it is that comes flying.

But now to my mornings. My friend and colleague Sara has been meditating in the mornings for quite some time now, and her husband does some yoga. I’ve been envious, since meditation and yoga seem to be such great ways of starting the day. My morning is somewhat more complicated than theirs, since I still have such small kids (my youngest is three), so I’ve simply dismissed the idea. Until a few weeks ago, when I read a blog entry about a woman who had started a new morning ritual, which inspired me so much that I decided to give it a try during my May month. What she did was meditate and write some specific things down in a beautiful book.

I realized that there is indeed some room for me to do something similar. It can’t take more than ten minutes or so, but I can have those ten minutes to myself, after my husband and daughters have left for work and school, and before I take their little brother to kindergarten half an hour later. My son loves to watch some web TV with (really good!) children’s programs in the morning, and I usually let him do that for about a quarter of an hour or so, since it gets him in a good mood. I have now decided to do like this: Instead of walking around picking up things, dressing myself and my son, brushing teeth etc. during those fifteen minutes, I’ll get up a little earlier and make sure that everything is ready when it’s time for his web TV session. Then, while he’s at the computer, I’ll do a short meditation session and then write a few lines in my new notebook, according to the following headings:

  • 2013-05-01 22.33.14The best things things about yesterday
  • My three most important tasks today
  • Today’s affirmation (a sentence formulated as if something has already happened, e.g. I have completed X and feel very satisfied with the result, or as a state I want to be in, e.g. Today I feel really creative)

I hope that this will make me more efficient and even more positively tuned than otherwise to my working tasks. Then I’ll try to keep the evening routines as well, as a more general form of relaxation and reflection.

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Filed under creativity, Meditation, Priorities, Productivity

Miranda’s ninth month: Priorities

Inspired by Titania’s thoughts on time and priorities, I have decided to turn this month into an experiment. Since my life gets more and more stressful, I think it is time to start prioritizing the right things. Since I came home from Italy, I have been exercising twice a week, and I notice such a tremendous change in my energy and motivation that it would be stupid not to take time to exercise. It simply gives me so much time in return.

One thing that doesn’t give me energy, however, is sugar. This easter weekend has been crazy, with two family dinners and lots of desserts and candy. I don’t need to lose weight, but stomachaches and tiredness is something I could definitely do without. I’m curious to see how it would affect my body and mind to stay away from sweet things for a whole month. I don’t think I have managed more than a week before, but I think that this perspective will help me. Instead of viewing it as a ban, I will prioritize eating healthy because it makes me feel much better and gives me much more energy.

Finally, because of my stress I almost feel guilty when I spend half an hour reading  before I go to bed.  I haven’t touched my guitar for months, and sometimes I would like to draw or take some photos or bake bread or meet a friend, but I usually end up studying instead. This is not okay! I have to squeeze in some free time and fun activities to be able to cope with the stressful days, and I think that if I can make my days more effective by gaining more energy, I will find time for this as well.

So, my goals for April are:

1. Do some kind of physical exercise every day.

2. Eat no candy or cookies.

3. Take time to do something I really enjoy every day.

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Filed under Body, Challenge, Diet, Food, Goals, Health, Miranda, Physical exercise, Priorities, Productivity, Stress, Wellbeing

Miranda’s sixth month: Simplicity

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”
— Henry David Thoreau

In line with this month’s area of focus, I’ve decided to keep this post simple. To sort out the mess that my life, home and workload has turned into during the constant stress of the last few months, I’ve decided to make things simpler, and these are my goals:

– Figure out my priorities in life and spend more time on them.

– Get rid of all unnecessary things and find a home for everything else.

– Do one thing at the time.

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Filed under Goals, Miranda, Organisation, Priorities, Productivity, Simplicity

To get things done

As November and my month of Productivity & Order is drawing to an end I thought I’d share some advice on how to get things done:

1. Plan

Although some people prefer to be spontaneous I think I would be helpless without my lists. When I have everything that needs to get done penned down on a paper in order of importance on my desk I can relax in a way I can’t when the tasks are just soaring through my head without structure. And I love the feeling of crossing another task of my list!

2. Break down big tasks

No matter how much I love to write, essays always freak me out. The last few weeks I’ve written two essays for school and I realised that the only way I could get myself to tackle them was breaking the working progress down into small, manageable pieces. I wrote down each step ahead (Read through the texts, note differences, form into so and so many topic sentences, write a draft, let it rest, read through it etc.) and suddenly I could approach one tasks at a time instead of just running away from the huge impossible essay. Simple but very effective.

3. Work in intervals

Since my dad told me about the pomodoro technique when I struggled with my bachelor’s essay last winter, I’ve started working so much more effectively. The method was developed by Francesco Cirillo in the 80s and is ridiculously simple:

– Set a timer and work with a task for 25 minutes (one ‘pomodoro’).

– Take a short break of 5 minutes.

– Repeat.

– Take a longer break every four ‘pomodoros’.

There are numerous different iPhone and computer apps devoted to the technique. The one I currently use (which you can find here) is free and very simple. However, I find it to be extremely useful, as it allows me to stay concentrated (and most importantly, awake!) and reminds me to take pauses. I get small tasks done during the pauses, and the big tasks usually take much less time than I expect when I work like this.

4. Get some fresh air

Every day I try to use some of my little pauses to step outdoors, to get the mail, collect firewood, take a short walk or just breathe. A few minutes are enough to revive my brain and give me enough energy to focus some more hours. This morning I woke up to find a layer of snow on the lawn! The change of seasons always makes me happy, and when you’re happy, even the most difficult task seems a little easier to tackle.

What are your best advice for staying productive?

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To let go

I’m happy I chose Productivity as this month’s focus, because I really wouldn’t have time to focus on anything else than getting things done. I’m so stressed out that it’s affecting me physically, making me nauseous and tired all the time. Tonight, however, I sat down and tried to structure all my tasks for the rest of the year, week for week. Now I know what I need to do every week when it comes to school, work, driving practice and exercise, and that is somewhat comforting. Next week I’m going away for a few days to visit my grandfather, and perhaps the change of scenery will help me relax a bit as well.

So, what about the Love month? Although my boyfriend and I have had our ups and downs I think I managed to take quite good care of our relationship last month, and I keep trying. I survived the tour, obviously. After the first anxious days I simply didn’t have any energy left for worrying. I let him take care of our contact, which meant that I didn’t have to worry about unanswered texts or calls and got a happy surprise each time I heard from him instead. And I ended up really enjoying having time for myself.

Whether it’s a sky-high heap of homework or a boyfriend touring Europe or something entirely different that makes your intestines ache with anxiety, the only thing that really helps is to let go. And to realise that when you do, things tend to work out quite nicely in the end.

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Filed under Fear, Giving space, Letting go, Love, Miranda, Productivity, Relationships

Miranda’s fourth month: Productivity & Order

The last few weeks have been extremely stressful because of my school. I had an exam today and I still have a huge analysis to finish and hand in before Sunday. I might give you an update on my last month’s project next week, but I’ll have to keep this post short.

Next week I start a new course, though, and I really can’t allow myself to keep behaving the way I have up until now. I keep oversleeping, procastrinating important tasks and mess up things because I have a thousand thoughts on my mind at once. So, this month I will focus on Productivity & Order. I will simply try to create a peaceful environment, get things done and pick up some habits that will help me keep things that way. Here are my goals:

 – Stop procastrinating
I think I’ll try to reverse my behaviour by doing the hardest tasks first. Then it will just get easier as I progress through the list of tasks and I won’t have to go through them with the difficult task hanging over me like a dark cloud. This includes tasks such as difficult homework, collecting firewood in the morning (instead of freezing throughout the day because of my laziness, and yes, we heat the whole house with firewood), doing dishes and my back exercises…

 – Find order
I will clean up my home office, go through my computer, my wardrobe, anything where there is disorder that distracts me.

– Sleep and work earlier
I study a full-time course. I technically need to work 8 hours a day but I usually don’t. Mostly because I get started way too late. The earlier I start, the more free time I’ll have in the afternoon to do whatever I want and get school completely off my mind. And of course, rising early means I can’t stay up forever in the evenings.

– Stop multitasking
Writing a few words, writing a text, watching a youtube-clip, reading a blog-post, going back to writing a few more words, making a list, rushing up to do some back exercises while checking instagram… No wonder time rushes and nothing gets done. I really need to make an effort to do one thing at the time, and finish each task before I move on to the next.

Approach new tasks with confidence
I always stress out before dealing with a new school task, and I always work it out in the end, so why not skip the doubting and avoiding and just do it.

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