When I cry out to God he often answers – through books.
In the last days as I was thinking and praying about what I most wish for 2017 there was one thing I longed for most.
Less stuff in my head.
2016 was hard
- Hackers attacked my German blog, my English blog, the websites for my 5 training courses and the blog of down to earth publishing – several times!!! Having Hack as a family name it may sound funny when I say I was hacked. But it was not. It took my team and me several months to clear up the mess. And it cost tons of money.
- Moving. Moving house is never easy. But moving after 20 years in one place (4th floor without elevator) is a challenge. Especially if it means moving home and office and you move to an office 1/3 of the previous place. Tons of sorting. Lots of organizing.
- Building. Although I already live on the ship we still need to finish some building i.e. putting up ceilings, floor surfaces, doors, new heaters…
- Finances: Hackers, German tax department charging me for income I had not made (and I did not have the strength for a legal battle), drastic increase in the storage costs for books, and other stuff that unexpectedly drained finances – and had me struggle for financial survival.
- 1000 other problems – like an author cancelling a book project that we had worked on – 4 weeks before it was meant to go in print. And lots of the other stuff like a flood in the ship or the British Border control taking my identity card from me (it had once been stolen, but returned and I had reported both the theft and the return to the German government, but the Brits did not care and it cost me one day plus 300 Pounds to travel to the embassy, get a passport that is only valid for one day and book a new flight). You know – all the kind of stuff hat just happens, because it happens. Yikes.
Just thinking about 2016 makes me tired. Understandably.
But there was more to that. There was an incredible tiredness in my brain. Just the thought of thinking about something made me feel exhausted. And I felt that somehow I was doing something wrong that took my energy. And creativity. And to some extend the joy in life.
I found the answer – or at least a big part of it in an interview of the Bergman Leadership Podcast (20 Min Interviews with interesting people, often authors) The Interview mit Christine Carter inspired me and on her page she had a link to an Ebook, that promises strategies that would free up to one day per week.
In a nutshell she sais that our brain is craving for novelty as much as it is craving for food. If there is no outside stimulus it starts to search inside for new connections, processes things and comes up with new ideas.
However if we constantly give the brain outside stimulus (email, Facebook etc.) it has the short moment of “happiness” that satisfying an addiction gives (not the same emotion as true happiness that satisfies you deeply, whereas the act of fulfilling an addiction only leaves you hungry for more).
I would like to add: Because this habit of constantly looking for outside inspiration the brain has no real time to process. And thus the brain gets exhausted, deeply exhausted. So exhausted it does not even have energy for things that are true fun and inspiration (She did not say that in the interview, I just describe my experience).
Shorty before that I had read that German employees check their emails every five minutes, but believe they do it far less often. Yikes. Ouch. I will not confirm that my email checking habits contributed to the statistics nor deny that I checked my emails every … minutes. Yikes.
Ideas to free your time
She recommends (among other things)
- Reducing checking Emails to set times (1 – 3 times a day). And setting up different accounts for work, newsletters and private mail (I have work and newsletter, am thinking about a private mail account). I will have to experiment with this, but plan to reserve mornings for writing and answer mails before lunch. And maybe another time in the afternoon before I finish.
- Reducing internet / social media time and being “off” at least one day per week. And making it impossible to get access. I will try to work on an 11 – 6 pm internet-time. And take Saturdays off. And put my laptop in my office in the evenings. At night it gets so cold there that the laptop “freezes”. It needs several minutes to warm up enough to respond to commands. And keeping my phone out of reach, so I can hear it ring, but am not tempted to play with it.
Reducing to-dos. o not fit into any of these categories, but need to be done).Kick out stuff that does not fit with your five priorities in life. There is lots of stuff that you think you might be doing sometime or should be doing, but you never will. Just decide to NOT do them. Or delegate. And sort the rest of the to-dos into the five priorities (and ok, one pile for the 5% that d
So I went through all the notes I had written to myself what I should do and ki
cked things out. And sorted the rest into the five priorities for 2017 – that part was easy as I do sort things by category anyhow. All in all deeply satisfying feelings
Going through this stuff I also realized that I had a ton of things in the back of my mind that never made it on one of my to do lists, but are still there as a “you should”: i.e. I should go through my jewelry and decide what I no longer wear and would like to give away and through the books that did not fit into the shelves and the towels and pots and … I pulled all of these out of the back of my brain and started a new category.
- Potential Happiness boosters: I know it makes me totally happy and relieved, when I sort things and put them in order. So I wrote all of these ideas what I do want to do to make my ship and my life more ordered and beautiful on little filing cards, put them in a beautiful box and decided that even day after work I would takle ONE of them. I know I can do this, because all through summer every day I took 20 – 30 minutes after work to reduces the content of two folders into one. So once I made the commitment I know I can keep it. I also marked those of the happiness boosters that others can help me with (i.e. sorting linen, wood…) as sometimes people who stay on the ship would like to do something for me. So it is good to have ideas.
I know it will be challenging – especially the detox from Internet and Social Media. But rewarding. Weeding out my to-dos, resisting “quickly checking what is happening in my life (i.e. did I get new messages or book orders) or in the lives of others is a challenge, but I can sense how much it will strengthen and ease my life.
Just thinking of it makes me feel relieved.*
Thanks you, God and thank you, Christine Carter.