Sunday, December 30, 2018

Rejuvenation and Goal-Setting

The pattern of frost-filigreed wisteria vines is so lovely. The winter holidays are such a great season for rest and rejuvenation - and our weather in the high desert of New Mexico has obliged with lots of snow and freezing temperatures. All the better to keep me cozied indoors and focusing on both relaxing and giving my mind the room to mull thoughts for the coming year.

I did something a little different this year. Not on purpose, but because in those last few days before guests arrived for the holidays, I just couldn't keep my attention on work.

Instead of fighting that - I let it go.

I spent those couple of days baking, wrapping gifts - and even tandem watching schlocky Christmas movies with a long-distance friend. The upshot is I went into the actual holidays feeling rested and calm, instead of stressed. I'm going to do this every year.

In fact, front-loading rejuvenation time rather than relying on post-effort recovery time is going to be my compass concept for 2019.

The other thing that's happened is that I relaxed and rested enough that I started to get a little bored - which meant I was excited to take on some business tasks, yay! - and my mind wandered quite a bit, of its own accord, to ideas for the coming year. A big part of that is going to be reducing back log and lists.

Some of those things:

Maintain Inbox Zero

Some people can live with full email inboxes. I just can't. I tend to treat my inbox like a To Do list, which means the emails in there weigh on me as tasks that remain unfinished. Worse, emails that are more important, and thus require more effort, tend to languish in there for months, growing hopelessly stale or often forgotten entirely.

To change this up:
  • I already emptied all of my email inboxes and will start the new year with Inbox Zero
  • I will treat email with the one-touch principle - each email gets touched once and dealt with
    • to do this I will either reply immediately or
    • file emails and add any reply tasks to my To Do List instead
  • I'll also continue to check email only a couple of times each day, and then only after I get wordcount

Revivify To Do List

Related to the above, I'm going to make my running To Do List, which I keep on an Excel spreadsheet, more relevant and active. I have that same syndrome where some tasks tend to linger on it for MUCH too long, sliding from one day to the next, until they build up so much inertia from Dread & Procrastination that they feel like insurmountable obstacles.

To change this up:
  • I will minimize tasks that float for a long time by
    • distributing tasks instead of clumping (i.e., if I have a list of things to do for SFWA, I'll put them over several days or weeks instead of all on one day, then moving them as I don't finish them.
    • And if I do move a task, I'll break it up into smaller tasks, then distribute over several days
  • I'll give larger, longterm tasks a category (I already have these, like Finances, Business, Errands, etc.) and subtasks until complete
  • Everything gets this treatment, rather than having very large tasks on my list that float with no progress
Reduce TBR List

Back in 2015, I made a spreadsheet (of course I did!) of all the books in my possession that I hadn't yet read. It lists the format (digital or paper), date acquired, reason to read, etc. I add to it as I acquire new books. All the books that I had at the time I made the spreadsheet got a date of October 27-29, 2015, which were the dates I entered them. When I made the list, I had something like 280 books on it. Today I have 316 and 233 of those are from October of 2015. (To be fair, those represent YEARS, possibly DECADES of unread residency in my life.) This list can feel like a crushing unfinished task, however, so I'm resolved to deal with this backlog.

To change this up:

  • I will read one of these 233 books for every newer book I read, alternating them.
  • I'm reducing my 25% commitment (reading at least the first 25% of every book) to 10%. If I'm not wanting to continue by then, off it goes.
  • In fact, I'm going to get ruthless about this decision-making. If the book isn't making me glow with delight and LONG to keep going, then it goes. 
I've got a few other goal sets on my list - on a spreadsheet, OF COURSE! - but they feel more personal. What about you all - anything you're looking to change up this year?


  1. I'm keeping to 25%,but also have a three strikes rule. No matter how much I've read: three strikes and the book is out! (a strike being anything that annoys me)

    1. Oh, that's a good idea! That's what gets me - hitting the strikes

  2. Always in awe of your spreadsheets....!!!