Monday, January 3, 2011

Lessons From the 21 Day Challenge

Well, I'm back!  Life has been pretty good and pretty busy the last few weeks. I have been processing some of the things I learned during my 21 Day Challenge. I promised to share what I learned with you. So, here are some highlights, in sort of shorthand version.  Interestingly, most of what I learned was in the first week of the challenge.

To recap, the challenge was primarily to get me into the habit of doing something every day for my blog and business I am working on starting. In that respect, my challenge was very successful, but not as I imagined it would be. Early in the challenge I was given a large order for stationary from a friend. Much of my challenge was spent on that, which was great! However, I still have a lot to learn about blogging and haven't read or done my online "class" as much as would have liked.

  • Day 1 was all about commitment and sticking to my challenge. I had to be fully present and give it my full attention. And, planning for the next day quickly became essential.
  • Day 2   I realized that having a plan and a specific time set aside to be in my home office each day took away any anxiety of wondering what I would do and when I was going to get to the blog or stationary work. I had a plan. Come home, take care of the dogs, have my own dinner, relax a little, then blog and do stationary. Done! That was it.
  • Day 4 was a biggie. As I began the work on the order, it became very clear that I had been taking two steps forward and one step back since trying to blog and start a business. I was wasting time trying to catch up or relearn my software and was quite frustrated. So my lessons at this time were:
    • #1 Keep current. Use the tools of the trade each day, practice, craft, create...even if there is no order. Here is that word again...."commitment!"
    • #2  Focus. Use a 3x5 card system to keep ideas or some sort of system for future blogging/stationary ideas to prevent overload or forgetting good ideas.
    • #3 Prioritize. Decide the night before what will get me where I need to be. Give it one-two hours a night and then STOP! Sadly, I sometimes found myself working very long hours and getting exhausted with a full time job to get to the next morning. It is important for me to set some boundaries and then work hard within those boundaries of time and space.
  • Day 5 As I learned more about my software possibilities, I learned to track the details of an order I am creating such as what settings, filters, etc. were used. I also learned to keep a hard copy of each thing for my file.
  • Day 6 was a lesson in flexibility when I had computer issues and rather than give up, chose to work on other things instead.
  • Day 7 was all about multitasking. There are good kinds and there are not so good kinds of multitasking. An efficient example is when I am using the paper cutter while other things are printing. Blogging while watching TV is not so good. Insufficient focus is given to either thing and neither is enjoyable and both just consume time. Here it is again, fully present to the task at hand.
Days 8-21 were mostly about putting these lessons into practice and about the details of using my software and keeping records of what I was doing. I think the first week set the stage for the rest of the challenge. 

Even though I haven't been blogging since my last post, I have been working. Well, and to be honest, enjoying time off with my family, too.  My next challenge has already begun and I will tell you about it next time. I hope it will go as well as the first one.

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