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Journaling Simplicity

I do this basically every year: I write a post a few days before the new year, prepping for the new year and then, I write a post in the new year to try to jump start my writing during the new year. This year, however, I had a very different thought when I wrote the former: what if I finally followed through on my constant quest for simplicity, not just simple minimalism but whole-life simplicity. And what if I used that to help with the latter: journal about the moves I have made in the effort toward simplicity. Also, I have a vested interest in continuing this effort, as my second child is due in early May and I am assured that stuff gets crazy after that.

During Shawn Blanc's The Elements of Focus, a few of the overarching themes were consistency, routine, and follow-through. After the course completed, I read some writing advice from Ben Brooks that followed the same path, leading Ben to a successful variant of NaNoWriMo during which he wrote over 50,000 words on his site during the month of November. From both of these gentlemen, I took that I need to make writing (and really any act with which I would like to become consistent) a routine in order to make it an important part of my daily life. Set aside time, preplan, and capitalize, even if that means that all I have is a very rough draft in the end.

As a part of this thought experiment, I starting writing down the things that I would like to accomplish each day, keeping in mind what I thought to be the most important parts of my day. In addition, I would like to include these accomplishments as part of a new routine that I practice daily. A few of these items are listed below in following with Lesson 10 of The Elements of Focus, "Schedule your most important tasks".

  • Spend time with family (at least sixty minutes)
  • Spend time in contemplation (at least thirty minutes)
  • Take a walk (at least thirty minutes)
  • Take a picture (negligible time)
  • Read something for fun (at least thirty minutes)
  • Read something for learning (at least thirty minutes)
  • Write something down (at least thirty minutes)

Some of the above items may seem overly simplistic or overly obvious, but remember, this post is about contemplating and obtaining simplicity by reminding myself of what is important and scheduling those tasks I personally deem to be the most important.

More important still than the list itself is what I have learned of myself in all of this; things like: I overthink things, I hold myself up to a very high standard and become frustrated when I do not reach said standard, and I am a planner. However, in thinking through what simplicity really is within my own frame of reference and why it is important to me, I decided that part of my endeavor this year has to be about giving myself more credit for hard work or, better said, letting myself off the hook more often. I may desire to keep a clean house, get all the filing done, and have large amounts of time to devote to reading and writing, but in the event that I am too busy doing something else of value to get to my extended list of things and beyond, that should be OK.

Within the context of simplicity, prioritization is key. If I am to let myself off the hook, I have to actively seek my own understanding that the ways in which I spend my time are not a waste. Similarly, if I believe myself to have wasted time, I should actively seek understanding about why, trying to change the ways in which I see those wasteful practices. Finally, prioritizing the well-being of myself or my family should never be considered wasteful.

I will be honest that this post may not have the intended effect of jump starting my writing in new year, especially given the fact that the writing portion of my above-listed endeavors may include journaling or other written practices each day. However, I can say that I will attempt to write up interesting anecdotes regarding my moves toward simplicity in the new year. 2016, here I come!