Before we get started, I’d like to take a brief moment to make a public service announcement: Dear people on the Internets, I’m tired of all the announcements about how you’re taking a break from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, fatty foods, whatever. I keep thinking of a nice way to say this — a way that tip toes around feelings and whatnot, but I’ll just put it out there — no one cares. It’s not a “we don’t care about your well being” non-caring. It’s more of a, “My day to day life does not hinge on what you do and don’t post on Facebook.” I’m all for taking breaks and pulling away from the things that consume us. But I really don’t see why announcements are necessary. We can’t really blame it on social media. Narcisscism pre-dates social media.
It’s January, the start of a new calendar year, and with the new year comes great hopes and aspirations from the masses. It’s also the time when there’s an uptick in a certain behavior I’ve grown to loathe more and more in the age of social media — personal announcements and declarations of all the things we are going to do. If you think you know where I’m going with this, you’re wrong. I’m not here to knock people having goals or wanting to make major life changes. We should all have a checklist of things we want to accomplish both tangible and intangible and we should hold ourselves accountable to those goals. People perish for lack of vision. So if you haven’t written out your goals for 2015, even loosely, I highly recommend you hop on that because Q1 is already underway, folks. That said, I’m somewhat unimpressed as of late with how much talking people do with so few results.
One of the questions I often jokingly ask among my friends is — if you experience something, and you don’t take a picture of it and post it somewhere, did it really happen? Many people treat their online persona as a living will and testament. They make lots of claims and paint a picture of who they aspire to be, but then behind the online persona, they are very much not that person they’ve posed as. The problem I find with this is that it creates this false reality that people actually begin to think is real. It’s a bit like what happens with pathological liars. There is a point where a person can lie so much they begin to believe their own lies and no longer even believe they’re lying anymore. That is not to say that I’m calling everyone on social media dishonest. But I do think that a lot of people have tricked themselves into thinking they are accomplishing more than they actually are simply because those same people are being more vocal about their plans.
The best-laid plans of mice and men oft go astray. Pinterest, one of my absolute obsessions of the last 3 or so years, is a shining example of how you can trick yourself into thinking you’re productive. Pinterest is a sea of inspiration. There are so many creative, awesome ideas there it can be almost overwhelming. You perused the site just looking for a good potatoes au gratin recipe and suddenly you feel like your life will not be complete until you have a bathroom with tile laid in a herringbone pattern. Okay, maybe that’s just me. But Pinterest allows you to curate boards of ideas and such and you can literally spend hours upon hours each day fantasizing about all the things you want to do — the parties you want to throw, the wedding you will one day have, or the books you’ll one day read. But soon “pinning” idea on Pinterest becomes satisfying enough — more satisfying than actually implementing those ideas.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m really tired of year after year going by and people all around (myself included) seem like they’re doing a bunch of talk, but not producing much of anything. I’ve come to grow very fond of the silent doers. We’ve all worked alongside someone like that. They don’t reveal much about their plans. In fact, they can be downright enigmatic at times and then bam, one day they drop a bomb like, “Here’s what I’ve been working on for the last six months and it’s finally done.” And everyone is all, “What in the world? We just thought you were the quiet guy over in the corner twiddling your thumbs.” Little did anyone know, the guy in the corner was quietly killing it. and making everyone else look lazy. Sometimes (not always) the people who talk/boast/announce the least that actually put in the work.
I’m guilty of doing too much talking myself. I can look back on super essays/articles I wrote or things I posted on Facebook and cringe a bit that I was brazen enough to declare something without really seeing it through. Sometimes we announce our intentions because we hope for accountability within our communities. But more often, I think we announce because we like the way it looks and we care more about the opinions of others than we do about actually doing what we were placed on this earth to do. I think accountability is good. But accountability is better among few close, trusted confidants. Announcing on Facebook how 2015 is going to be your breakthrough year does not automatically make it your breakthrough year — changing your habits, your behaviors, and your attitude does.
January serves as a marker for us of another cycle of 12 months and for that I am very grateful. But January is just another month. Nothing special or magical happens in our lives in a new year unless we put in the work to not repeat the same habits and patterns of the past. It’s not enough to say you’re leaving unforgiveness in the past. If you don’t take the steps necessary to forgive those who’ve wronged you and get fully healed, what’s to make you think that something amazing is going to happen over the next 12 months. It’s the 21st century and we have some of the most advanced tools, platforms, and resources at our disposal, but we seem to struggle with productivity more than ever.
Everyone is on their own path this year, but I thought I’d share some personal productivity tools that I’ve been using that help me tremendously. If there are others you use, please shout them out! I wish everyone the best in their endeavors this year. Don’t let perfectionism hold you back from launching something that’s in your heart. Sometimes finished is better than perfect. Let’s get it done, folks.
A few of my favorite productivity resources:
Evernote is everything. If I could sing, I would write a song about all the ways I love this application. It’s a desktop and a mobile application with both Mac and Windows versions. I pretty much document everything that’s in my brain on Evernote. It allows you to keep your thoughts divided up into virtual notebooks full of notes. You can clip online articles you find that interest you, store images, record voice memos, songs, keep sketches in there. You can tag, categorize, and cross categorize things so that they’re easily searchable. And the search functionality is pretty kick butt. Best of all if I’m updating via my computer or the mobile app, it all syncs up so everything is always current – except the one time it didn’t sync up my matron of honor speech that I typed for my sister’s wedding, but whatever, I’m good off the cuff anyway. If you’re on a PC, OneNote is Microsoft’s “version” of an Evernote type application.
This is another daily application I use to keep up with all my files and things I’m working on. It saves everything to the cloud (which I think we should stop using and just call it “The Internet”). But basically it’s eliminated the need for flashdrives in my life which is a major feat. Even my mom’s on Dropbox, ya’ll. That when you know it’s big time.
Asana is an online project management tool that also has an accompanying mobile app you can use if you choose. But don’t let that intimidate you — it’s free for individual users and can be used for things as simple as planning a party or launching a website, or in my case, launching a new blog. It’s a great way to keep track of personal goals and keep yourself on track with tasks with due dates, reminders and all that jazz. If Asana’s not your cup of tea, there are about eleventy billion personal project management applications out there — some of my photographer and independent contractor readers can probably recommend a ton. Basically any tool that helps you track your goals online is a good thing!
I haven’t bothered to find a newer/better personal finance tracker, but I’m sure one exists. My husband and I use Mint which gives us real time monitoring of our spending and saving. It’s really awesome — until you buy those pair of shoes and your husband texts you, “What’d you get at Nordstrom?” Yay for transparency.