Just like that, another month is behind us.
February was another big one over here work-wise: learning, personal growth, long hours, and a lot of time spent outside of my comfort zone. A multi-day roller coaster ride is the best analogy I can come up with to describe it. One moment I’d feel tightness in my throat and flip-floppiness in my stomach. The next, I’d be walking out of meetings, energized by the conversation, collaboration and team progress. Up, down, up, down.
It’s a crazy time, that’s for sure. I’ll easily get caught up in the day-to-day, but zooming out on the situation (like in this check-in), makes me realize how comfortable I was before moving into my new role earlier this year. Discomfort is an important part of growth, and my goodness, was that ever the theme for February!
Looking back at the intentions I set for the month, here’s my self-assessment of how they went down:
1. Work on part 1 of de-cluttering my digital space: photos – B
This didn’t get as many hours allocated as hoped, but I’m proud of myself for making a solid dent in the work. The main area I tackled was applying keywords to my photos, which allows me to search for them more easily in Adobe Lightroom and (Apple) Photos.
Finding my old photos that help to tell the stories you read here on the blog is one of my most time-consuming tasks, but taking an extra minute to apply keywords before exporting my edited photos from Lightroom is making a massive difference. Those keywords are maintained once I import the images to Photos, which means I’m able to search for them in both applications.
In addition to keyword tagging everything I create from now on, my plan is to continue working through the tagging of old images. I won’t go into more details now because I realize that this probably isn’t super interesting for most of you, but if anyone has questions or wants more detail on how to use keywords in Lightroom/Photos, feel free to ask in the comments below. We can nerd out together!
2. Finish the first draft of my Sugar Detox program – A
She’s done! The first draft, that is.
This has been in the works for several months, and early in February it became very apparent that I wasn’t going to have the time, nor the energy, to work on writing it during the week. Instead, I made it a creative weekend project that I really enjoyed. It felt great to shift my brain over to a completely different project, and I’m so excited to move closer to finishing the final version this month. The part that’s been taking longest is creating the meal plans to cater to a very wide variety of eating styles (vegan, vegetarian etc), but I think you guys are going to be really happy with the result.
3. Continue expanding my social and professional circles – A
While a few social commitments had to get taken off the calendar, there were a lot of successes here. What lacked in my outside-of-work social life (almost non-existent) was made up for in strengthening existing and building new relationships at work. As I’ve said in the past, sometimes it blows me away that I get to work with so many talented, caring and passionate people. When I spoke about that emotional rollercoaster earlier, the highs were high because of them.
3 intentions for March 2018
My original plan was for March to be the month I achieved my 2018 goal of taking a trip to California – both to attend Expo West (similar to CHFA West, the natural food trade show I attended last weekend, but about 15x bigger), and also just for fun. I’ve been dying to check out the LA wellness scene, and this was going to be the trip to do it on.
Unfortunately, due to timing of a whole bunch of things happening at work – deadlines, campaign go-lives, new hires etc – I made the call a couple of weeks ago to cancel the trip. It was a difficult decision and I’d be lying if I said I’m not still gutted about it. At the same time, I knew I wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy myself and relax.
I’m fully aware that there will likely never be a convenient time to take vacation, and if you’ve been following along with the blog and my Instagram posts over the past couple of weeks, you’ll know finding balance between work and non-work life has been a struggle for me lately. I’ve promised myself that I’ll make up for the cancellation – either this summer, or by adding a few extra treats to the Hawaii trip I’m taking this fall. But in the name of restoring some sense of normalcy and stability in the meantime, my 3 intentions for March all fall under the same theme.
1. Focus on single-tasking
Brain health hasn’t been an aspect of wellness that I’ve felt particularly excited about in the past. But as I get older, and as more research emerges about mindfulness and interconnectedness of all body systems, it’s pretty clear that mental health deserves more attention. Despite all other efforts I make to “be healthy”, I’ll admit I’m a chronic multitasker. I’m not talking about things like listening to podcast while driving or getting ready in the morning – I’m a huge advocate for all this and think it totally makes sense. But the multitasking I know I need to stop are things like constantly texting or scrolling through Instagram while walking between destinations, responding to emails or doing other work during meetings, and trying to jockey between work I’m doing in 10+ open browser tabs. I like to call it productivity, but really, I know it’s not.
There are plenty of studies that show our brains are so NOT built for multitasking, which I think most of us like to ignore. Layer in the dopamine hit from a constantly buzzing phone and before long, we learn to expect – perhaps subconsciously crave – that stimulation every few minutes or seconds. From the outside it makes sense why we can’t focus, but in the thick of a busy day, it’s so easy to ignore.
The above is all stuff I know, but haven’t taken personal responsibility to do anything about. For March, I intend to be much more mindful of the things that compete for my attention. Back in January I removed the Gmail notifier icon from my Chrome browser at work, and it was amazing how much longer I was able to maintain concentration on what I was actually supposed to be doing.
Sadly, I don’t think I’d ever get away with only checking my work email once or twice a day. However, I plan to do my very best at completing other tasks in their entirety before looking back at my inbox again. I’m going to experiment with:
- Writing every blog post I publish this month without doing any tab/application switching between
- Checking my personal emails 3x per day – once in the morning, once at lunch, and once after dinner
- Having no more than 5 applications open on my desktop at once (both at work and home)
- ZERO texting or emailing while driving (I’m not proud to say this even has to be an intention – I know I shouldn’t do it in the first place)
2. Get back to writing my daily top 3
This was something that worked SO well for me upon declaring it in January, and I made it to about half way through February before falling off the wagon. I definitely make lists – every day, in fact. But they have far too many things on them and often, so I don’t get that sense of accomplishment upon finishing all 3. I’m planning to re-implement this to help me maintain focus on what’s needed, and to decrease the mental overwhelm I tend to find myself feeling when trying to switch quickly between to-do’s. Again, single tasking and seeing tasks to completion will show up here!
3. Re-implement at least 1 self care activity every day
I’m all about these things on the weekend – perhaps even fanatical about it. But weekdays have been a different story, and they need to be fixed ASAP. You know something’s wrong when taking a shower AND washing your hair feels like an indulgence!
I still use an old-school paper planner to write out my daily lists, so on each day while setting my top 3, I’ll also be including a line for 1 self care activity and 1 fun activity. I’ve already booked some regular massages, but realize I need to be doing mini practices every day. Even if each only takes 2 minutes, I’m committed!