Tag: The Well Well Well Project

3 tools to help you find your purpose

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hamlet quotes shakespeareWelcome to a new week! It’s been a challenging one in my family and circle of loved ones – including an epic ER visit (nine hours), multiple illnesses, physical therapy and two funerals – but we have survived and it’s a brand new day.

Before our ER visit with Mom, I had started writing a post with the famous Nietzsche quote “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” but I decided to move in a different direction with today’s post. (I’ll still get to that one – because I truly believe adversity makes us stronger and allows us to help others through what we’ve learned – but not today.)

Last week we talked about apps that help us find margin in our lives. This week I’d like to share some less-tangible (but arguably more important) applications to move us along on the journey to well-being. These are things that are going to require you to think about what you want out of life, so warm up your brain.

The first one is a book, and I’ve talked about it before, but it bears repeating because it’s the best nonfiction book I read in 2015. Then a short video from a pastor with a different perspective on volunteering. And, third, a post from my favorite “virtual mentor,” Michael Hyatt, whom I’ve written about before.

Here are your three thought-provoking applications for this week:

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  • Boil everything down to essential vs. nonessential. I’ve mentioned a particular book several times on my two blogs: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (the best nonfiction book I read in 2015). I learned of Mr. McKeown on Michael Hyatt’s podcast, then I bought his book and devoured it. He gives a formula for how he decides what’s essential and what isn’t in his own life. I also wrote a post called “The art of saying no” (on my other blog), which wasn’t a direct result of the book but has the same goal: margin. Subscribers to To Well With You get the free PDF “8 tips for saying no graciously” as my thank you gift. (That PDF is a modified version of the one that accompanies my “saying no” post.)

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As you serve Him, you’re likely to find the greatest work God is doing is not through you, but it’s in you.” – Cory Lebovitz

  • Why is volunteering important, and what is its purpose in a Christian’s life? A pastor named Cory Lebovitz. followed me on Twitter last month, and I followed him back after viewing his recent Tweets and his website (I don’t follow back without checking out someone’s posts). Today I viewed his 3-minute video on volunteering, and it made me stop and think about why I volunteer and what it means. I hope this gives you something to ponder.

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Few things in life are more rewarding than marketable work fueled by passion and competence.” – Michael Hyatt

  • How to find satisfaction in your work. Pastor Cory’s video addresses volunteer work, and Michael Hyatt’s post is about finding meaning and fulfillment in the paid work you do. I’ve followed Michael for about a year and a half, and I’m so grateful to my friend Rusty for recommending that I check out his site. Michael has resources, wisdom and insight on so many topics, and I find myself seeking info from him on the regular. I subscribe to his blog and his podcast, I’ve read some of his books (still making my way through the list) and I’ve taken a few of his online courses. (More on that in a future post.) This week, you need to read his post on “The 3 Components of Job Satisfaction.” He has a podcast episode on this topic, too, and it goes into more depth than the blog post. It’s called “How to Discern Your Calling.” (It’s 36 minutes long.)

Your turn: Which of these three areas do you need to work on this week? Share with us in the comments, then schedule some dedicated time to think about it, even if it’s for just 15 minutes.

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Time to get organized – let’s do it together

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Time to get organized – let's do it together
This gives me the illusion of being organized. The blank grid in the No. 1 position means I finished something!

I used to think I was organized.

People would say to me things like, “You’re so organized.”

Proof, right?

Ha!

That was before I was juggling a full-time job, two blogs, freelance work, several social media accounts, two dogs, a husband with a chronic illness (and recent surgery for a fractured collarbone – no relation to the illness), laundry, dishes, lawn mowing, household repairs, budget maintenance (ha!), piles of paper, digital to-do lists, electronic calendars …

OK, OK, you get it.

You get it, because your list is as long as mine, if not longer. (And, trust me, that paragraph contains just a fraction of the balls I’m juggling these days.)

But pretending to be organized, and giving others the impression I’m organized, is not the same thing as actually being organized.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

What’s the purpose of “being organized,” anyway? For me, as I assume is the case for you, it’s so that I can have a bit of “margin” in my life.

Margin. Space between all the obligations, commitments, buzzers, alarms, demands, dog barks, appointments, meetings …

Margin allows us to spend more time with loved ones, relax once in a while, have a measure of control over our schedules.

So … it’s time to do something about it.

To get serious.

I’ve been researching productivity and timesaving tools this year. I’m really good at research. (If you call reading and half-hearted implementation good.)

So I’m going to start testing – in earnest – some of those tools, tips, tricks and time-honored habits.

For each one of the things I’ve downloaded already, I’m going to keep using it (more regularly, in a lot of cases) until I’m convinced it’s either a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. And I’ll share with you the results – the good, the bad and the ugly.

I’ll do the detective work for you.

I may download more tools, but not until I’m convinced that what I already have isn’t going to work well and get me (and you) farther down the road to margin.

If you’d like to join me on this journey, subscribe (see box at upper right if you’re on a computer and at the bottom of the page if you’re on a mobile device) and you’ll get to help me decide what works and what doesn’t. We’ll figure it out together. Subscribers not only get a notification every time I post here, they get content that I don’t always include on the blog. (Private tips via email.) That may be just a quick heads-up about something I’ve learned that week or a timely notification about something that’s coming up.

WHAT ALREADY WORKS

I already have a few tools I use, love, and love recommending. Here are three you should check out:

  • For keeping track of practically everything: Evernote. It allows you to dump everything in and forget about it, because there are so many ways to find it later. (The beauty of Evernote is in its tagging system.) I keep all kinds of notes in it: articles saved from the internet, to-do lists, shopping lists, blog ideas, freelance tips … I even created my own calendar from scratch when I couldn’t find an acceptable calendar tool to integrate into other apps and sync across all my devices. Jury’s still out on my calendar, and we’ll explore that later, but here’s a screen shot of the rudimentary one I made a few weeks ago (I didn’t make links from any of the calendar items, but you can totally do that – make a link from a piece of text in Evernote to another item saved in Evernote, sort of like creating your own index). The free version is awesome, but the paid versions have features such as sharing. I created a shared notebook in my premium version with a shopping/to-do list that my husband can access (and edit) in his free account. Sweet! Free for Basic, plus three paid tiers – Plus, Premium and Business – that you can pay for monthly or annually.

organized productivity apps

  • For tracking habits you want to establish (or break): the Way of Life app. It’s the best habit tracker I’ve tried, and it’s easy to keep it up to date. It’s customizable (you get three habits, or “journals,” in the free version and unlimited in the paid version). In the screen shot below, you can see that I didn’t do yoga or strength training on any of the seven days pictured; I shredded junk mail every day except Tuesday (Tuesday is in red for No, and the other days are green for Yes); I ran only one 🙁 of my intended five days that week (the two light gray days are when I didn’t intend to run, so they don’t count as No – they count as Skipped); and I flossed five out of seven days. My longest streak is in flossing, and on those streaks I get a sweet little celebratory sound and a dot in the middle of the day tracked. (A few weeks ago, I told my hygienist I had flossed more in the previous month than I ever had. She was impressed and wanted to know more about the app!) Free for three journals, $4.99 for unlimited.

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  • For drowning out distracting sounds: the White Noise app. I’m an extremely light sleeper. My dad once commented to my mom, “She could hear a mouse pee on a cotton ball.” Noise-canceling devices have been my friends since my first job out of college: at a daily newspaper at which I worked until 2 a.m., I never – and I mean never – got enough sleep during those newspaper years. (Did I mention I’m also a “morning person”?) With that first job, I bought a floor fan and kept it turned on the highest setting next to my bed. Eventually I bought a little fan to take with me when I travel. I had a good one until a couple of years ago, when it wore out and I got one that is the wimpiest excuse for white noise that I’ve ever (not) heard. So when Michael Hyatt gave me the idea for White Noise (he’s also where I got the idea for Way of Life, and he’s an Evernote fanatic), I jumped on it. I use White Noise when I travel, instead of having to pack a fan in my luggage, and also when I’m at home trying to concentrate and there’s some distraction (such as two barking dogs or Bruce eating crunchy food 🙂 ). White Noise is a lifesaver, my friends. Free, with upgrades that I don’t use or know much about.

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Now it’s your turn. Please answer one or both of these questions:

1) Have you found a tool, tip, app or habit that makes your life better, even just a little bit? If so, please share it with the rest of us in the comments. We want to know! 2) Do you have a problem or dilemma that an app or a life hack – or maybe just a little info – could solve? Tell us what it is, and I’ll do the detective work to help you solve it.

NEXT UP: I have more tips for saving time, being more productive and having a better life (margin) – and one or two of them may surprise you.

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The ‘Well Well Well’ Project – life declutter

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This is embarrassing. I hope you appreciate it!
This is embarrassing. I hope you appreciate it!

It’s time to take my “decluttering” mission seriously.

In that vein, I’m going to be painfully, brutally, embarrassingly honest.

(I can’t seem to do life any other way.)

I’m going to show you pictures. (Embarrassing pictures.)

This is such a big deal to me (and to you, I hope) that I’m giving this sucker a name: The Well Well Well Project.

I’m doing this for two people-groups:

1) Me.

2) You.

Why did I list myself first, when my purpose for this blog is to help others live their best lives?

Well, you know how the flight attendant always instructs you to don your own oxygen mask first, before you help your child or other helpless loved one do the same?

Same principle applies here: I have to help myself so that I can help you (does that make you my helpless loved one?). I can’t guide you on how to declutter your life without doing it myself first. With pictures. (Ugh.)

That’s my oxygen mask: starting the ball rolling on my own mess. It’s also how I’ll be able to tell what works and what doesn’t, what I can recommend and what you can skip, plus other helpful information. (With humiliating pictures.)

My desire is to dispense with everything that’s cluttering my life so that I can live it without regret, confusion, delay, displaced priorities or any other kind of stress. And I want that for you, too.

WHAT’S GONNA HAPPEN

Here’s what I want to declutter:

  • My home (household items, personal files, finances, car and property).
  • My body (with exercise, healthful eating and weight loss).
  • My mind (family calendar, freelance scheduling, email inbox and other things that tend to stress me out on the regular). This one is the real challenge.

Most of the process involves purging the unnecessary and organizing the necessary (after deciding which is which). I have many sources to draw from (I’ve been reading declutter/organize books and articles for years), and I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

This will require a lifelong maintenance plan, but let’s get the clutter out of the way first. We can learn about maintenance along the way.

I’ve already started this process in a few areas:

This chick has a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see her husband’s collection!)
That’s a lot of running shoes, no? (But you should see my husband’s collection!)

1) Home: A year ago, I reorganized my bedroom closet (just mine; I didn’t touch Bruce’s). I wrote a bit about it on my other blog, including a “before” photo (above), but I never finished the whole-house project. I’ve been taking baby steps along the way (started working on a kitchen purge last month), but this time it’s going to happen – by Dec. 31. Period.

(What’s gonna be different this time? My expectations about how much I can get done at one time and how much time I have to write and post pictures about it. Also, setting a deadline makes a project much more likely to be completed – so the experts say.)

2) Body: I’m on Day 7 of a 30-day elimination diet (one that excludes potential “trigger foods” in an effort to find out what might be causing certain physiological problems). I’ll tell you more about that in a future post, but I can say that it is a CHALLENGE and I’m glad I’m on vacation this week. Being home makes it sooo much easier.

3) Mind: The best nonfiction book I read last year was Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. I wish I could say I had published a review of it, but that was one of my “good intentions” that I didn’t follow through on.

One of my failures to follow through involves my blogs (I’m probably cray-cray for having two, right?). For instance, I finish a great book and intend to review it, then I don’t. Or I start a great book and decide to write a multipart series on the book’s sections, then I write one post and don’t write the others (or finish reading the book). The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, anyone?

Sometimes I think I have attention-deficit disorder (maybe I do), but a lot of it has to do with blogging and freelancing on top of my full-time day job. My schedule is overloaded, and my mind can’t keep up with the clutter.

BOTTOM-LINE IT FOR ME, SISTER

Here’s how I envision this project:

  • I tackle a particular area, take pictures (if appropriate – I will NOT be posting pictures of me in my underwear for the weight-loss portion), post here and on social media (this is going to get interesting) and basically humiliate myself – all for you (and, yes, for me).
  • You decide to join the fun by tackling a challenge in your own life. (Don’t worry; we won’t expect you to post pictures of you in your underwear, either.) Your challenge can be about ANYTHING you want it to be. Maybe you need to get into the habit of flossing your teeth every night (I finally started doing that this year, and I’ll tell you later about the two things that helped). Or maybe you want to start eating better. Maybe you need to start going to bed an hour earlier each night. Or cut out the late-night Oreos (not that I would know anything about that). You just pick a thing and tell us about it.
  • Or you wait awhile. Maybe you know you need to change some things but you’re not ready yet. I hear you, my friend. Change is hard (I believe I said that once before), and no one can make you ready before you’re ready. I’m here to hold your hand, though.
  • Expect at least one post a week. I’m not going to promise more than that (see? I’m learning), but I might write more if my schedule permits.
  • Let’s figure out together whether this needs to be a bigger thing: Do we need our own Facebook page, Instagram challenge, Pinterest board? Crisis hotline? Pint of Ben & Jerry’s? (Oops – nevermind that last one!)

Tell me what you want and need. Better yet, tell me what you’re going to commit to. Then you can tell me what you need.

Life is hard enough on your own; let’s do this together.

SOME RESOURCES TO GET YOU STARTED

Here are a few books I’ve read, apps I’ve used and websites I’ve visited over the years that have helped me along the journey to sanity. In fact, I plan to read a few of the books again. Take a look at some of them if you need help deciding what to tackle.

IT’S YOUR TURN

Ready? Your first assignment, once you’ve decided what you’re ready to tackle (something small, like flossing, or something big, like eliminating processed sugar from your diet): Tell me about it in the comment section.

Let’s do this!

(On social media – Twitter, Instagram, Periscope, wherever – use the hashtag #WellWellWellProject.)

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