At the beginning of this year, I opted to focus on one word instead of a list of tasks for my New Year’s Resolution. My 2013 word was “intentional”. I wrote about my thoughts and experiences a few times in the first half of the year:
Being Intentional (January 3rd)
Intentionality, Reader and Life Lately (March 20th)
Getting Things Done, Intentionally (June 20th)
In the more recent part of the year, which has involved more actually being intentional than writing about it, I’ve mainly been focused on the way in which I complete tasks.
As the school year began, I made some observations about the way in which I was getting work done. After getting multiple comments from my students about the number of tabs open at any given time on my already taxed laptop, I began to think about why I think that having a dozen web pages ready to go at once causes me to get more done. I immediately started trying to approach pages in the way that many experts suggest approaching mail or other paperwork: only touch things once. When I open a browser tab, for work or at home, I try to immediately read it/use it/Pin it/tweet it/leave the comment and then close it. If I know I don’t have time to read or leave comments or whatever, I try to not open the email or Feedly or start planning a new classroom unit. As a result, my computer is happier, I have less halfway done tasks staring me in the face and my kids harass me less (well, less about that particular issue).
I’ve also noticed that I feel more accomplished when I finish one or two things rather than making a little progress on several things. I’m trying to restructure my productive time to be completely focused on one thing. I don’t want to write half of three blog posts but still have nothing to post that evening. It feels better to completely finish the weekly lesson plans for one of my classes than have all of them started. I’m sure not everyone would agree, but actually reaching completion of a task motivates me to start something else more than feeling like I’m not really getting anywhere.
Of course, there are still many areas of intentionality that I still want to make serious progress on:
- Making better use of my to do lists — but I’m still not feeling Asana, even after several months of use. Has anyone else discovered a good online task management system that works on a browser and an Android device?
- I need to leave time for non-school productivity. If I want to be semi-serious about this blog (and I do), I need to make time to work on it. I also need to make time to care for our home, interact with friends, cook, etc…
- Relationships, in general. I had really good plans for spending time with people through dinner parties, dates, phone calls and letters but really did poorly in this area.
Even though I didn’t consistently focus on intentionality as much as I intended, I’d still call 2013 a success. I’ve gotten pretty serious about being intentional with my spending. Brian and I began tracking all of our receipts this fall and it’s definitely helped us see where the money goes and plan ahead for big things like the holidays, tuition and travel. I baked all of my own sandwich bread in 2013 and I’ve begun considering the human cost (such as slavery) of some of the foods I enjoy. My food purchasing is changing as a result. We purchased our first home in April and 8 months in, I’m still loving home ownership. Recently I’ve really started to get a vision for color and furniture that I’ll be looking to add in the coming months and years. As part of the move we did a serious book purge and put the “rejects” up for sale on Amazon. I sold 41 books between April and today. Well worth the time. The blog continues to change and improve and develop to more clearly reflect me and I think that’s going to be a continuous process. This fall I also, finally, began feeling that I’m comfortable enough with the content I’m teaching and the general practice to really start honing my skills and improving what I’m doing. I made good progress with intentionality in 2013 and I’m looking forward to putting those experiences to work in 2014.
I’m pretty sure I’ve settled on my 2014 word and it’s not a big change from this year. More of a subtle shift in direction. I’m looking forward to sharing it later this week.