If you wrote a post for this month’s check-in, I invite you to join the One Word party, share in Comments below, or reflect on your own. Whatever works! The link will be live all week, through Sunday.
Thanks for coming.
Similar to October’s, my November prompt for Engage ’22 was…dry…you could say.
But helpful. Necessary. A good investment!
This month, I paid attention to how I engage. Specifically, I’m trying to readjust the auto-setting I described here:
More than 18 years ago, I trained myself to execute tasks the same way some people eat: as a grazer. (Not to be confused with multi-tasking; I rarely do two things at once anymore.) I'll do a little bit…then address something else equally/more important…repeat…and repeat. Circle back ’round and, eventually...eventually...everything’s done. (Or forgotten!) That’s how I did it for years! Because I had to [as a mother of three young children]. And it worked. But? It doesn't work for me anymore. And? It doesn't have to! Our kids are growing up-up-up. (One is very much on her own.) I can finish what I start without worry of nap times or choking or getting through the witching hour. It's a hard habit to change, though. It's been a long time. So. This month, I remind myself I don’t have to engage that way. You’re good! You can finish what you start! You don't have to work triage anymore. Not as much, at least...
Just noticing this month packed a big punch.
: : Noticing how often I was ‘grazing’. (Constantly!)
: : November progressed, my habits morphed, and with some objectivity I noticed when and how I became distracted: Opening a tab to do one thing but ‘checking’ something else first. Worse, stopping in the midst of the first thing to ‘check’ something else. (In the midst of writing this post, for example, I really wanted to browse vintage turkey prints.) The other pitfall? Starting a task that should be completed in one sitting when I already know time is tight. I.e., squeezing it in. (Like buying plane tickets.)
: : Noticing what I’ll call payoffs for completion. When I finish what I start, I have less clean-up at the end of the day because a million things aren’t left mid-stream; and, I have more time available for what I want to do, not just what I need to do. Finish-what-I-start is way more efficient than ‘task grazing’!
In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear says this about forming good habits: Make it attractive. Make it easy. Make it satisfying. Make it obvious. If we’re talking about drinking more water, for example, that’s an easy formula to follow: Pick a water bottle you love. Keep it where you can see it. Put a lime or cucumber in it. Set a timer to remind you to finish/refill.
Changing habitual behaviors requires a little more…effort. But I’m finding it’s a cycle–all I had to do was get started. The rewards...those payoffs for completion…are the motivation to keep doing the changed behavior: In James Clear’s words, the results of finish-what-I-start make life easier. Make my space more attractive. Better time management is super-satisfying. And when I’m mentally more organized, it’s way obvious when my habits slip. (I feel sloppy + scattered again.)
Some of my prompts feel big and full and rich; others are a bit more…staid. October + November have felt the latter. Stay-at-home-and-wash-your-hair-on-a-Friday-night type of word work. But that’s significant in its own right, really, and as the year winds down I’m glad to tackle a few things I know will stay with me. Habits I may not have otherwise addressed. Tying loose ends as Engage begins its 12th(!) and final month.
This year’s word has been helpful and enlightening… and I’m going to be ready for something new in another month! I’be done a good bit of grazing since Lucy came and think we are finally getting past that point. I’m looking forward to engaging with more purpose in December.
That sounds like a very good place to be with one’s word… And, I will be curious to hear if our words ‘link’ again, as they have the past couple years!
I know so well how easy it is to get distracted and find that it happens to me quite a lot. And that grazing is sometimes the best that can be done when life is really busy and we’re often trying to do multiple things at once.
I can’t believe we only have one more month left with our words! I still haven’t had a revelation about next year’s word, but I am hoping after the bat mitzvah, when I have more mental energy free, things will begin to clarify for me.
It’s really interesting to read what you say about grazing activities. I do distract myself whilst doing something, frequently end up reading something especially when tidying, but I figure that maybe the reading is more important than tidying. Also my crafting is usually something that will take many sessions, so I do have lots on the go at once, not sure if that’s wise… Lots to think about.
For me, ‘in-progress’ crafting supplies are a totally different category. (I fully embrace a creative mess.) I tend to frustrate myself with getting through half a stack of paperwork (or half of a clean dishwasher!)…or jotting a grocery list, opening the fridge, then cleaning out the fridge only to get to the store with half of a grocery list! That kind of ‘incomplete.’ 🙂 And, I’m with you–I think the reading trumps tidying!
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Kernel of wisdom right there: “…when I have more mental energy free, things will begin to clarify for me.” To echo Kat, this is surely a time of consciously tuning IN/tuning OUT.
Gad zuks! I can’t think of one word. Should it be joyful or discipline or abstract? I’ll go with disciplined because it’s something I lack. So my one word, sort of, is
Brilliantly hyphenated 🙂
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I have never been successful at the *grazing* method and boy, have I tried. In my work years, I struggled mightily with the need to be able to do this seamlessly. My approach was more like the Victorian Applique Quilts… visible seams everywhere!
One thing I have learned this year is that it is okay to tune things out, it is also okay to tune things in… the key is knowing when! I often tell Steve, I can’t focus on X right now, because I have to get Y right.
And, I am so incredibly excited for December and my word. I have a fun month planned for myself with a (hopefully) excellent close at the end of the month!
Oh, what a carrot! I look forward to following along with your month!
(Your quilt metaphor made me giggle–because I *immediately* went to Crazy Quilt. Yes, if my mind was a quilt, that’s what it’d be. Oh, for the tidy and ordered Log Cabin!)
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This post was so helpful. I hadn’t considered myself a grazer, but I totally am! And you know what? That’s okay. Because that’s just the season I’m in. You’ve given me hope that I won’t always be here!
I’m so glad it was helpful, Katie! It’s kind of funny/not funny that it took me a while to realize my life had changed gears–but *I* hadn’t! I’m not even sure *how* to change gears, but I think noticing was the first step.
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