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Small changes, big results

I have been making changes in my life. Big changes. I’m bringing to the forefront all that is good, and cutting the bad out as one would a mat of hair. My mantra has been “Simplify!”  I have been doing just that. Even this post had its roots in some overly-complex mini-biography of sorts that grew out of itself and had to be abandoned.

A while back I found myself arriving to work angry; it wasn’t every day, but it was often enough for me to realize there was something amiss. I got to thinking about what happened on my way to work that made me so angry and what I found was both obvious and simple: every morning, even though I woke up with plenty of time to shower, ready my lunch and attend to my daily chores I was running late. I have been reading Leo Babatua’s blog for a while and had been interested in a lot of what he had to say on the topic of simplicity, so I thought I’d give his methods a try; thus began the experiment.

I took an inventory of what I typically filled my morning to see if I could discover what it was that was causing me to be late- it was something I was doing (or not doing) every day, because regardless of traffic I still found myself running late. I also examined the various efforts I had tried in the past: what worked, and what did not. What I discovered is that no matter how much time I gave myself in the mornings I always managed to fill it up with stuff. I realized I’m the self-motivating type, which isn’t a bad thing (quite the contrary!) but in this case it was detrimental to my efforts to leave at a certain time because I had a hard time shifting from ‘home’ to ‘work’ mode.

What ultimately solved my problem was the simplest solution I had tried: I reversed the order in which I did things every morning, starting with what needed to be done immediately and working my way out to larger tasks.

Instead of getting up and immediately reading or getting on the computer or paying bills etc, I started doing the things that I needed to do that morning. After my immediate needs were met, then it was time to focus on larger tasks, or things that I wanted to do like reading or doing something on the computer. What I found was that my immediate tasks took little time with regard to other tasks. Reversing the order of operations was a two-fold benefit: I wasn’t rushed to do everyday tasks like showering, thus I was able to enjoy them more. Also, having my other commitments out of the way allowed me to adjust my work on the larger-scope projects and tasks into more manageable chunks. I could stop reading, for example at a logical place to stop rather than letting the clock dictate where to end. Even my drive in to work improved- instead of getting upset at “jerks in my way,” I started keeping in the slow lane. After all, why did I need to speed? I’m not running late anymore!

This was huge. I set out to solve one problem, being consistently late to work and in the process was able to bring joy back into several other parts of my life at the same time. Things I previously either did not enjoy or was too rushed to appreciate (like a nice, long, hot shower) I found being the highlights of my morning. I now enjoy my drive in to work- and often arrive more relaxed than when I first woke up, all with one simple change to my routine.

Posted on February 18, 2011 @ 3:08 pm

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