How many apps/challenges/systems does it take to motivate and improve oneself? Well if you’re anything like me, every single one of them. I feel like I’ve tried, or contemplated trying, pretty much every app out there. I have drooled over every planner from Day Runner to Moleskin to the cute one the Chicago Public School system gave my child at the beginning of the school year. I have tried micro-journaling and just plain ole journaling. I have a journal in notebooks, in a Google word doc and on my cell phone. And clearly I blog.
This need to improve myself, quantify the things I do, I’m not sure where that comes from. Clearly I am not the only one afflicted with this, otherwise all these products and apps wouldn’t exist. I suppose it’s a combination of a need to get things out from inside my head, remind myself to take time for reflection and the little things, and a desire to improve. While a lot of it may seem like navel gazing, I know that I need to be happy with myself to make the changes I want to see in the world - and boy do there need to be some changes in the world (but that’s another blog post).
Here are all the things I am currently doing to improve myself:
1. I am using a new journal/datebook called the Ink and Volt. It grew from, where else, a Kickstarter campaign when the designer went on a quest to create the perfect notebook. It has a place for weekly, monthly and yearly goals. It has monthly and weekly calendars. It has space for you to reflect on what went right that week or doodle ideas or whatever.
2. I am using - sporadically - an app called the 5 minute journal. Each day it prompts you to add three things that you are grateful for; three things that you will do to make today great and a daily affirmation. At the end of the day you are prompted to write three amazing things that happened that day and three things you could have done to make the day better. You can also take a picture for each day.
3. I joined an 8 week challenge called the Whole Life Challenge. This focuses on 7 areas: Nutrition, Exercise, Mobilize, Sleep, Hydrate, Lifestyle, and Reflect. The nutrition is probably the hardest thing for me. It cuts out a lot of food. And even though I was already working on cutting out processed food, this eliminates almost all dairy and all grains, all sugars. So it’s basically a paleo diet. It’s only for 8 weeks, so we’ll see how it goes. Exercise is just exercising for 10 minutes a day - so that should be a no brainer since I should be doing something like that anyway. Mobilize is adding movement such as yoga and breathing exercises. Again, it’s just 10 minutes a day. For the Sleep requirement I set an amount of sleep that I want to get each night, same with drinking a certain amount of water a day for Hydrate. Lifestyle are challenges they set each week. Like this week it is writing down three goals each day of the week, the same goals. The intent is to focus on the goals and keep them top of mind. Finally, you end your day with a reflection.
4. I am tracking some tasks via an app called Coach Me. Not unlike a lot of people, I get a certain amount of satisfaction out of checking off my to-dos each day. And some of my to-dos are mundane, but for some reason I have a hard time doing them every day - like flossing my teeth. So I set up my basic to-do list - read for 10 minutes, exercise for 10 minutes, floss, write 500 words each day etc. I try to remember to go in there each day to check the things off. I probably need a task to check off my tasks, but that seems a bit, well, crazy.
There have been a myriad of other apps and systems I’ve used to try to fix my life, get my life to where I want it to be, to be the best me I can be - whatever. All of these things probably seem like overkill. But so many of them actually overlap. It’s not like I have to exercise twice to check it off both the whole life challenge and coach me. And now that I’ve written this, I've written more than 500 words so I can check that little item off my list too, as well as the write a blog post weekly goal I have. See, they’re working already.
Note: I have not received any compensation by any of the above products. These are just things I’ve run across in my never ending journey to get my shit together. What I will do with all of it when it is together...well I guess there’s probably an app for that.