Sometimes small details can really make a difference in our ability to be present and focus on what is in front of us. When it comes to working on anything related to a computer, my ability to focus is, well, almost scary. The world could be coming to an end, and I might not know it if I am in the middle of building a web site. However, when I am playing with my kids, or doing some chores around the house… I can be focused at times, but certain things will throw me off. The biggest one: the classic “ding” sound from Sparrow letting me know I have a new email.
In theory, I like having an audible notification that I have a new email. However, when I am eating dinner or reading a book with one of my kids and that little “ding” goes off, it’s all I can do to keep from checking. All of a sudden, my email has a tyrannical hold on my thought process. The sound sits in my head until I check the darn thing. Our family computer sits in our great room, where we spend most of our time. If I am home, I’ll likely hear the sound. Of coure, I usually end up checking it to make sure it isn’t anything important. Thing is, I rarely have an important email of such magnitude that I would need to check it out right away. Almost never, really.
I am not sure why I let this go on so long. Such a simple thing… I turned off the sound notification on Sparrow the other day. It makes a huge difference. I still check my email quite often. But now, I wait until after dinner, or after I am done reading or playing with my kids. I love it… I changed one little setting on my email client and my ability to be present is better. Not perfect by any stretch, but better.
Well, it’s been over a year since I started embrace/refrain. I definitely faded down the stretch of 2012, but that is mostly due to starting a web-design company over the last couple of months. Still, I did 9-10 embrace or refrain projects and wrote around 60 blog posts. Not terrible for year 1.
Some thoughts on the past year:
- Starting new habits is hard work, but definitely worth pursuing. Taking habits that are beneficial, but not part of your routine…. to part of your daily or weekly routine takes patience and persistence. A month gives you a good start, but many times it isn’t long enough to get something fully ingrained as part of your daily life.
- In our over-stimulated, thing-driven western culture, fasting (or refraining) from things like foods, entertainment and typical conveniences is a great practice. My favorite project of this past year was staying away from wasting time on the internet. I got so much done and spent my time so much more efficiently that month. At first, I kept a lot of that momentum, but after awhile, my old habits crept back in. I probably need to do that fast at least once a year.
- Writing is hard work. I give a ton of credit to bloggers who post creative, original content on a weekly basis. It takes a ton of time, determination, and creativity. I thoroughly enjoy writing, and find it incredibly beneficial, but it is still difficult.
And moving forward….
- I really enjoyed doing this experiment of 1 project a month over the past year. However, there were months that life was just a bit crazy to be pursuing an embrace or refrain project and writing about it on a regular basis. So I was successful with it some months, and others not at all. In light of that, I plan on continuing this year, but on lighter schedule. My hope is do to 5-6 month-long projects over 2013. I’ll start them when it works as opposed to figuring out a project for the beginning of each month. I’ll probably get my first one going in the first couple weeks of February.
- My second favorite project of the past year was the month I attempted to blog everyday. That month forced me to write about a greater variety of interests beyond the original embrace/refrain idea. Since then, I have continued to to do that on a sporadic basis and I’ll continue that in 2013.