I love to do a little bit of reflection at year’s end, but I don’t make it complicated. Around my house we’ve been using the same two questions for years to help us take stock of the year gone by.
- What worked for me last year?
- What didn’t?
Today I’m sharing a few of the things (from significant to shallow) that worked for me in 2018. (I’ll share my list of what didn’t work in the newsletter, same as last year, and the year before that. Sign up here if you’re not on the list.)
Much is unchanged since last year; plenty of 2017 favorites are still working for me, like the right tools, and eating the same thing every day, and meeting you in person (of course!) These are my new (or new again) 2018 additions:
1. Water. Two water-holding contraptions have brought me joy this year. After years of patiently waiting for our water to heat on the stove each morning, we bought an electric kettle to heat our water for coffee and tea. It’s programmable—so the water is hot when I wake up. I like to work with a beverage beside me, so I use it often throughout the day to brew my coffee or tea, and it heats up quick.
And this is the year that I’ve finally re-established the water bottle habit. This is the one I use and I love it. I prefer to drink coffee in the morning, but I know I need my water, so I make a point to fill it first thing (usually with a packet of True Lemon) and drink it to take my vitamins. I was adding a scoop of collagen to my water, but I got nervous about cleaning the bottle, so on a friend’s recommendation I started adding the collagen to my coffee. I was skeptical but it’s fine.
2. Putting things in bins. I am organizationally challenged: I struggle to put organizational systems in place, but know I’m happier when I have them. This year I powered through organizing my desk (with repurposed stationery boxes plus a few of these), my closet (with these baskets), and the pantry. (I’ve gotten a lot of questions about the pantry since posting it on instagram: I used these plastic bins and these in extra-large for canned goods.
I organized in stages, and some of it still needs tweaking. I hated to spend money on stuff to corral my stuff, but knowing where everything goes—and being able to see it—is worth it.
3. Shots of color. Neutrals are my happy place, but this year—in my home, my work spaces, and my wardrobe—I’ve consciously embraced big pops of color. The idea makes me so uncomfortable. But the result makes me so happy, like that yellow IKEA chair above. It looks so loud in the store, but it’s just right in my favorite reading spot.
4. Getting places early. I tend to cram as much as possible into any given unit of time, but I’m coming to embrace the idea that arriving early—as opposed to doing one more thing first—isn’t a waste of time. It feels like a little gift to myself: time to sit, time to breathe, time to read. And the gift of not feeling frantic on the way.
I’ve long known I need margin in other areas of my life; why did it take so long to recognize I can appreciate it here, too?
5. The 6 o’clock hour. I love the early morning hours when everyone else is sleeping, and this year I’ve put them to good use. (Except for my days home in between book tour, when I slept hard and long in my own bed.)
For much of the year, I left the house before 6:00 a.m. to work out, a rhythm that worked well for me. Since I returned from book tour, my spring book deadline has been feeling awfully close, so I’ve been using the early morning hours to write.
Either way, I’m grateful to work on a priority before it feels like the day has truly begun.
6. Leaving the house. I tend to be a homebody: I love staying in. But over the years I’ve learned that while I hate the idea of leaving the house, I’m almost always glad I did. And so this year I’ve made myself put on real pants and shoes to go hiking, or to concerts, and so many book events. At least by my homebody standards.
7. Benign neglect. My natural impulse is often to fuss and fret over things … that would be better left alone. Regular readers know this is the year that I became one of those plant ladies. It’s been jarring to realize how much happier almost every plant is if I give it what it needs and then leave it alone. My plants thrive on benign neglect; this has become a helpful metaphor for other areas of my life as well.
I’d love to hear what worked for YOU in 2018, and what didn’t, and why. Tell us all about it in comments.