I want to make some long-term changes before the fall semester begins, and the craziness that is the school year happens all over again.  I don’t want to spend 9 months counting down to summer, just to find that I am still incredibly stressed out.  I want to enjoy the now!

On the advice of a stranger (one with extensive training, but a stranger nonetheless), I’ve decided to cut back.  I’ve known for months that I’ve needed to, and PB has also been prodding me.  Hell, my own mother has been hounding me for years that I do too much and I just need to slow down.  And yet, it felt different coming from a stranger.  Like, if she came to this same conclusion, then man, I really need to make a change.  Ridiculous, I know, but I guess it’s what I had to hear (for the third time, from a stranger).

I started by making a list of promises to myself.  I made it pretty and hung it up by my desk.  I won’t share it here because it’s too personal, but I based it off of this work/life balance to-do list.  It includes statements such as “I will schedule time for scholarship during the year and will not feel guilty about work that does not get completed in this time frame,” “I will not hold myself to ideal standards,” and “I will put my family and my happiness above work.”  It also includes a lot of specific promises.  Now that I have a plan, I already feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders.  I even have a contingency plan for what I will cut back on first (and second and third) should work start to get overwhelming.

Then, I decided to try out the Daily Habit Tracker from Daisy Cottage Designs.  I’m only two days in, but I’m hooked on coloring in those little squares!  Compared to the year-long list of promises that I started with, this is a list of small things that I would like to do on a daily/weekly basis.  From eating fruit to prepping my classes to blogging, these are things that I would like to do regularly but that aren’t a big deal if I don’t do every day.  If you plan to only do the task less than once a day, you can put a dot in the squares for the days that you want to accomplish that task.  If I do the habit, I get to fill in a little colored square (fun!) and if I don’t, then I don’t (sad).  But it’s completely low-stakes.  And it’s a way to celebrate all those little things I do every day that otherwise might go unnoticed.  By acknowledging my successes, I can feel like I’m not sucking at being an adult (even if I’ve just started going back to yoga, and it’s once a week vs. 3 times/week pre-LB).

By acknowledging my successes, I can feel like I’m not sucking at being an adult…

Next up, I’d like to try making SMART goals and bullet journaling.  I first heard about SMART goals in a professional development seminar last semester.  The idea is that you want long (and short) term goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound.  For example, a poor goal would be “I want to be fluent in Italian.”  SMART goals would be: I will practice italian in Babbel/DuoLingo six times a week.  I will write a blog post/journal entry in italian once a month.  I will find a tutor or start a language learning coffee club this month.  The goals should be small steps where you can actually tell if you’ve completed it, and you give yourself a deadline.  I particularly like the printables on the My Love for Words blog.  You have to sign up for their emails, but then you get the link really quickly.

I’ve heard a lot of people talking about bullet journaling recently but it was Crystal Russom’s post at The Little Things that convinced me I should give it a try!  As someone who frequently makes to-do lists and then leaves a few items on there for weeks, it sounds like bullet journaling will help me stay organized without stressing me out even more.  I like that the symbols also help you to find little notes that you wrote to yourself last week, and that each day/week you can reevaluate whether the items left to do should be moved to a different list.  (Maybe broken down and turned into SMART goals?)

Do you use any of these techniques?  How do they work for you?