The Sparrow “ding”

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.

1st year in review…

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.