Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Getting my priorities straight

Things I love: kitchens and bookcases.

Do I spend (much) money on clothes or cars or jewelry or beauty products or movies or music or TV or a fancy phone? Nope. But after a year of tracking my finances on Mint, I've noticed that the budget I'm willing to justify for books and kitchen supplies (appliances, groceries, and dishes all included) seems to be relatively sprawling.

I've also noticed that kitchens and bookcases are inevitably the places I gravitate toward when I'm in other people's homes - the nooks I find myself nosing around in to learn about other people. And when I notice the same book on the bookshelves of several different people I admire and respect, it's not long before I'm tracking it down at the library/Elliott Bay Books/Half Price/Amazon (my book distributors of choice, in no particular order; I think I do equal parts business at all four.)

So I've been reading David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (thanks, Tom and Brant.)

Me and Tom atop Mt. Si two weeks ago, having left Seattle at 5 a.m. with headlamps and snacks in tow to make it to the summit for sunrise!

Overall, the book is more corporate-jobby than is 100% relevant in my life right now - organizing my home office, ha! - but I've picked up a couple priceless concepts from it so far:

1. Stress comes from having "open loops" in your head. Getting them down on paper - every last one of them - clears up space in your head to relax and focus better, because you're not trying to juggle a hundred to-do's in the back of your mind at all times. I'm harnessing the power of the yellow notepad.

2. If anything on your to-do list will take less than two minutes to do, do it immediately. Amazing what a difference this simple change has already made for me!

I made a list of all the ongoing projects in my life - everything from specific work-related projects (the ONW website redesign, helping coordinate REI's annual running shoe expo) to school-related projects (designing a website for my comedian friend Quinn Patterson, applying for scholarships for next year) to ongoing self-education crusades (learning banjo, learning Dutch, learning PHP, learning about investments, learning about holistic wellness and alternative medicine, learning about social media and guerilla marketing) to strengthening personal relationships to training for ultramarathons to my ongoing book reading list to apartment maintenance to developing a freelance portfolio.

My Vision Board from a couple weeks ago.

It felt amazingly good to write it all down on paper. The process also reminded me of the five thousand or so blog entries that I haven't managed to write here yet but really want to! I know I tend to write disproportionately about running, the great outdoors in Washington state, and general life musings - and that makes sense, since those are largely the things that sustain my soul - but there are other unwritten entries itching to get out, too. In the works are: a serious food/cooking blog entry, a what I've been reading blog entry, a reflections on the Kindle blog entry, a music I've been listening to blog entry, a snowboarding in Salt Lake City blog entry, a 2011 bucket list entry, a gratitude blog entry, a tribute to good people in my life blog entry, an ode to my food processor blog entry, a tribute to my cat blog entry, a video blog featuring me on a snowboard and me playing banjo (not at the same time), and a likely-to-be-long-and-rambly blog entry reflecting on Sid, the lawyer I worked for one summer five years ago - a work experience that had a pretty profound effect in shaping the Me of today.

Beautiful footprints leading into the unknown.

Good God, it's a fascinating world we live in. Stay tuned.

Postscript: The following quote is painted in the employee stairwell at REI.
"Oh, let us always have a mountain within our soul with a peak so high that we never quite reach the top…for then we always strive for greater things and will not be content with merely climbing hills." - Ardath Rodale
She was and continues to be an inspiration to me. Indeed, let there always be a mountain within my soul!

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