What worked for me in 2014.

What worked for me in 2014.

Will and I have been reviewing our 2014 by talking through two reflection questions that helped us before:

  1. What worked last year? and
  2. What didn’t?

Today I’m sharing a few of the things (from significant to shallow) that worked for me in 2014:

What worked for me in 2014 | Modern Mrs Darcy

1. My Jawbone Up

I’m still surprised how just wearing a step counter inspires me to get more steps. Although my Jawbone bit the dust last week, and I replaced it with a Fitbit Zip. After a year and a half with my Jawbone, I knew I didn’t care about sleep tracking but I really wanted an instant step count. The Zip gives me what I want (for less than $50).

2. Toggl

This simple and free time tracking app shows me how I’m spending my time. I use it for two main things: to track how much I’m working and the time I spend on social media. The work info is enlightening; tracking the time I spend on social keeps me from mindlessly browsing twitter.

What worked for me in 2014 | Modern Mrs Darcy

3. Tidying up

I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up at the end of the year, and the $10 it cost me was worth this paradigm shift: if it doesn’t spark joy, toss it. Will and I also converted to the author’s method of folding our clothes, organizing drawers, and corralling makeup in old Apple boxes.

4. Special breakfasts

When I asked Will what worked in 20134, this was his immediate answer. We’ve turned this goal (from way back in 2013) into a bona fide tradition. We keep a drawer stocked with fun plates and napkins, special straws, and a go-to list of simple but special meals for minor holidays, birthdays, and any day that needs a little something extra.

What worked for me in 2014 | Modern Mrs Darcy

5. Glitter flats

I picked up a pair of Tory Burch gold glitter flats on serious sale at Nordstrom Rack late last year, hoping they’d be versatile. They quickly became part of my personal uniform. I’ve worn them 200 of the last 365 days, easy. (They’ve been discontinued; these are similar).

Now the question is: what am I going to replace them with when they fall apart? Because that day is coming. (Sniff.)

6. Cottage school

This year my 6th grader and 4th grader have been attending a local cottage school once a week. It’s like college: you discuss the material in class and leave with a boatload of homework. Neither kid was too excited about it before we began, and we all got off to a rough start (made worse by this book, which Jack and I both hated), but it’s turned out to be a huge win for everyone involved.

What worked for me in 2014 | Modern Mrs Darcy

7. Lucky’s Market

I wrote about this in the fall newsletter when I shared the things that were saving my life right then. Lucky’s opened in our town last spring, but I didn’t drop in until school started. I hate shopping, but at Lucky’s I can buy a week’s worth of groceries in 20 minutes and almost enjoy it.

8. Audiobooks

I listened to a ton of audiobooks in 2014, including 6 of the 8 Outlander books. I estimate I “read” at least 10,000 pages this year with the Audible app—while I walked the dog, folded the laundry, and did the dishes.

What worked for me in 2014 | Modern Mrs Darcy

9. The park

We’ve always lived close to the park, but since our move it’s almost in our backyard. We walk the dog, hit the swings, hike the trails, and take the long way home. This winter I’ve resolved to set foot in the park every day to get steps, fresh air, and Vitamin D. (So far, so good.)

10. Conversation starters

The pundits say that blogging died back in 2013. I’m so glad the bloggers—and readers—I know didn’t get that memo. I can’t tell you how much I’ve loved conversations around here this year. We’ve talked about highly sensitive people and everything you need to know about a person, dream jobs and being the boss lady, showing up and spinning out.

I’m so grateful for the thoughtful, smart, funny, and kind readers who take the conversation starters here on MMD and turn them into something fabulous. Thank you!

11. The fireplace

In our last house, we had 3 fires in 10 years. Since it got cold this year, we’ve had 3 fires every week. We all love snug evenings by the fireplace after dinner, playing games, reading books, and drinking tea.

What worked for YOU in 2014?

Two of my favorite year-end (or year-in-progress) review questions are these: 1. What worked for me? 2. What didn't?

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50 comments

  1. Emily says:

    What Worked and What Didn’t is a nice way to do an Annual review!

    I’m intrigued by Toggle. There are a few days I’m just not sure I would want to see the results…which means I should probably give it a shot!

  2. Jess Townes says:

    I’m totally intrigued by the cottage school. I’m a first year homeschooling mom and looking to branch out a little in terms of finding community and additional resources for my kiddos this coming semester. My introverted ten year old is thriving but my extroverted seven year old, while happier with the academic approach at home, could use more interaction with other kids. They go to a gifted program through public schools once a week, which we love, but I’m hoping to add a couple more classes this winter.

    Love the review, working on one on my blog this week too.

  3. Breanne says:

    I love the idea of special breakfasts and keeping a drawer stocked with the supplies to make those happen.

    Those are great review questions and I hope to go over our year with J later this week!

  4. Patty R. says:

    In reference to the book that you and your son hated, my 6th-grade son was assigned “Black Ships Before Troy,” also about the Trojan war. We both disliked that one, too! Are there no good books about this subject out there? Or are kids that age just not ready for all that mythology? 🙂
    Our kids started attending a university-model school this fall, which sounds a lot like your cottage school. It has worked well for us, giving a nice balance of family time and academics.

    • Anne says:

      The other moms and kids and I have thoroughly debriefed The Trojan War book and the consensus was that it was really hard for the kids who didn’t have Greek mythology last year, and really hard for the kids who had a full year of Greek mythology last year! I think the challenging content + challenging writing was just a bit much, especially for the first book of the year.

      But there was a HUGE plus side to starting with that book: everything they’ve read since has seemed like a cakewalk in comparison! I wonder if that was the point?

  5. Rachel says:

    Audiobooks were a revelation for me this year, too. I’ve never really listened to them in the past, but I started running this year (something I NEVER thought I’d be into and am surprised to count as something that worked for me in 2014!) and very quickly got tired of listening to music while I ran. The Harry Potter audiobooks were the perfect fit–but I just finished them this month and am in serious audiobook withdrawal!

      • Rachel says:

        My husband trained for and ran a marathon, all while listening to audiobooks, and I remember thinking it must be torture to try and run without music and a beat pounding. And now that I run, too, audiobooks are the only way I can do it!

        • liz n. says:

          I can’t listen to music when running. Completely throws me off-pace. I listen to news radio. (Yes, I know how boring that sounds, lol!!)

  6. Jillian Kay says:

    Great list!

    For me audiobooks and podcasts, lightweight hoodies from Old Navy, starting plants from seed, a fire pit, family hiking, and tracking my reading on librarything and pinterest all worked for me.

  7. Ana says:

    Love the idea of thinking through what worked last year—may “borrow” it from you—its a great way to ensure you will continue the right things going forward (I’m assuming there is a “what didn’t work” post coming soon? definitely don’t want to repeat mistakes)

  8. liz n. says:

    Very nice recap of your year!

    Let’s see, what did and did not work for me?

    Worked: 1. changing up my daily workout=no more boredom and actually working every day! 2. I found a hand cream that actually makes my ugh winter hands soft and pretty! (Luxe hand cream from Julep, in case you’re wondering.) 3. Finding this blog, of course! 4. Purging my fabric stash. Painful, but necessary. 5. Pinterest: I use Pinterest to save and keep track of patterns, tutorials, recipes, and projects I find online, rather than save them to folders on my laptop. So much easier, and doesn’t slow down the computer. 6. Switching from dryer sheets to aluminum foil balls=no static in the clothes, no build-up in the lint trap or dryer vent.

    Did not work: 1. A few highly-recommended books that didn’t wow me, but everyone has their own preferences. 2. Neighborhood harvest swap: We will try again next year, but with better organization and communication. 3. Going to the gym: I’m just not a gym equipment person! 4. Outlander tv series: Sadly, I am one of the few who does not love the screen adaptation. 6. Convincing my grandson that Indian food is yummy. He just isn’t buying it.

  9. Heather says:

    Anne, I love the idea of taking time to review what worked (and didn’t) over the past year. Great way to boost chances of success in the New Year.
    For me, it worked to create my own desk space in the dining room, learning how to Skype (my daughter and son-in-law live overseas now), committing to a big art project, and starting up a writing club with a couple dear friends.

  10. Dana says:

    Love this idea!
    What worked for me:
    Discovering several wonderful blogs, including this one. This is my favorite! Enjoying a full year of retirement. Keeping track of my reading on Goodreads. Reading more non-fiction.Getting lot so of good recommendations on books here. Getting a hot tub and sitting in it every night before reading in bed has really helped me sleep better and has helped heal my knee after a torn meniscus and knee surgery. Folding my clothes in my drawers vertically after reading about that here. Love that! My clothes are easy to find and drawers are neat all the time! Working on developing my personal clothing style for retirement and getting rid of what does not work anymore. Cooking healthier and more varied meals at home. Getting involved with a weekly writing group as I work on rewrites for my novel. Attending a weekly Bible study with a lovely group of women.

    What did not work: Developing a website and starting a blog. I could not get the hang of WordPress and I gave up. I want to try again but I am not tech savvy enough to pull it off. Need to find a mentor for this. Memorizing scripture using the Charlotte Mason method. This started well but fizzled.Want to reboot that too. Completing more sewing projects did not happen either. Maybe in 2015.

  11. Kitty says:

    Thank you for turning me on to audiobooks! Thank you for Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day. What a gift! Thank you for No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency. My new friend! Thank you for Flavia De Luce. I love that girl! So many more…I need to keep a list. I’m listening to Jim Dale reading Peter and the Starcatchers right now. Delight!

    Have a happy new year and rest assured that one of the things that worked in 2014 is that you enriched the lives of strangers. Thank you!

    • Anne says:

      Aww, thanks so much! (I know MMD readers keep recommending the No 1 Ladies Detective Agency books but I STILL need to read them! Thanks for the reminder.)

      • Jessica says:

        Alan Bradley (Flavia author) is a great author to follow on goodreads. He is constantly replying to reader questions for him. I love that!

  12. Martha says:

    Your post encouraged me to write what worked in 2014 for me and send it to our family! I have been working especially hard over the holidays, and it was a great break to reflect on the amazing year.

    I also upped my audiobook game this year, especially for nonfiction books that I listen to as I run.

    Thank you for a wonderful year! I truly enjoy the blog and wish your family a fantastic 2015.

  13. Shannon says:

    Things that worked in 2013- 1. Counting steps has been something that’s worked really well for me, too. It’s crazy the way getting that feedback and facing up to the reality about my activity level keeps me moving. 2. The No S diet. (With modifications.) It sounded lame at first, but sticking to this healthy eating pattern has been a huge revelation to me. 3. Cleaning house on Sunday night. Waking up to a clean house on Monday gives my whole week a productivity boost.

  14. Anne says:

    I’ll have to think on this more, but using Goodreads has been a big help. It really bothered me that people were talking about what their favorite books were last year, and I *couldn’t even remember what I read.* Now, I can joyfully participate in the linkup this week! Tra-la-la!! 😉

  15. Not to be creepy, but I don’t know how you and I don’t run into each other all the time. Lucky’s is a game-changer for me, too. There are no words for how much the whole “Not going to Kroger” situation has improved my life! 🙂

  16. Debbie says:

    I love Audible! Used to be a news/talk show junkie in my car going and coming from work, but now I listen to books! Listening to Gone With The Wind right now and LOVING it! I need to get the tidying up book for my teenage daughter! Thanks for the information!

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