It’s a new month! In fact, we’re already a whole week in. That days always seem to move more quickly than normal in September, since we start off the month with a long holiday weekend. And while I’m not quite ready to accept that summer is coming to a close, when it comes to my plans for the month, I am definitely ready to hit the ground running.
August Report Card
In August I started this little experiment of defining a handful of personal and professional intentions at the start of each month, in an effort to be more conscious of how I’m spending my time and energy.
So, after my first 30 days, how’d I do? Well, in the interest of complete transparency, not great.
Here’s an update:
- Get outside every day: A – This one was pretty easy for me, mostly because I would rather be outside most days, at least in the summer. (Doing this in the winter would be a different story.) Such a simple intention but an important one for me, because as much as I would rather be outside, it is also way too easy for me to get in workaholic mode and not leave the house for days. So it was great to consistently get a little change of pace in the middle of the day, even if only for a few minutes.
- Implement a consistent quitting time: F – This may always be a challenge for me. I did a little bit better this month than in the past, but I was incredibly inconsistent, so that certainly warrants a failing grade.
- Read at least 2 books: C – I only read one. Believe it or not, this is still a huge improvement for me. I have a stack of books I really want to get to, and most months I don’t read any. So, while I’d still love to improve on this moving forward, one is definitely better than zero.
- Give my website a content makeover: C – I didn’t get as far as I would like last month, but the wheels are in motion. This is absolutely going to continue to be a goal for September.
- Start a new personal project: F – Didn’t even get this off the ground. This is a goal I’ve had pretty much perpetually—I have tons of ideas and really want to make the time to work on them. It just didn’t happen this month, but I’m going to keep trying.
Here’s what I learned:
- An intention is different than a goal. Intentions are focused on the present; goals are focused on the future. I always wanted this project to center around intentions, but last month I inadvertently mixed them up with goals. I already have a zillion goals on my list—weekly tasks I need to complete, products I want to create, milestones I want to reach. So I don’t need more of those. I need more presence in my day-to-day life while I am working towards those goals, to make sure that I am moving forward from a place of presence as opposed to living from my task list. A goal might be, “Meditate every day for 30 days straight”, while a related intention might be, “Be more mindful.” In September I’m going to aim for the latter.
- I was a bit too ambitious. Last month I came up with 5 intentions (some of which were really goals). And for me, 5 was just too many to start with. I made it too difficult to focus on any one thing in a meaningful way. Our brains can only handle so much, so this month I will make it a point to simplify.
- Tracking is not enough. Just having a list to work from to track my progress every day is not enough to keep the intentions top of mind. On days when I took a few minutes to pause and focus on my intentions, before doing anything work-related, I was much more likely to operate from a place of intentionality throughout the day. If instead I sat down and got right to work, I’d often get to the end of the day and realize I hadn’t thought about them at all in the previous eight hours. So taking a minute to reaffirm my intentions at the start of every day is key.
- Sit Less. Stand More.
Lately I’ve been reading more about the harm excessive sitting can do to our health (and lifespan), even if you exercise consistently. Luckily I have an office set-up where it’s easy for me to work while standing, so I’m working on shifting 2 hours of sitting time to 2 hours of standing every day.
- Make time for deep work.
I may think I am completely focused during the day, but if I were to carefully track my time, I know that I am losing minutes (and probably hours) to distractions. So I want to carve out a 3-4 hour block of time every day where I intentionally turn off all distractions and get hyper focused on whatever my most important task is for that day.
- Prioritize impact over effort.
As I’ve mentioned before, my to do list is consistently overflowing. And when I have a ton of tasks to complete, I tend to prioritize the time it would take to finish something over the importance of the task—”How many things can I check off in the next hour?” vs. “What is the best use of the next hour to ensure it’s time well spent?” So in an effort to support my daily focus, I plan to start each day with a list of 3 goals—the 3 most important things that I need to complete before I spend time on anything else. All in an effort to prioritize the impact completing a task will have over the time and effort it will take.
My aim for this mood board was to capture the transitional period of summer to fall that is now upon us. It’s still hot and humid in my neck of the woods, but the pace is quickening. Fall isn’t quite in the air but those lazy days of summer are much much fewer and far between.
Colors are a little bit more muted and less in-your-face, and everything is more focused. Kids are going back to school, parents are resuming their regular routines and us entrepreneurs are putting our heads down and getting to work. Think Cooling + Clarifying + Sharpening.
See the bottom of the post for links to all the image sources I used.
Here’s what I’ll be listening to while I make all of this happen: