As I sit near my woodstove at the cottage, looking at the lake through windows I haven't cleaned in recent memory (I've cleaned some, just not all), with dirt on my feet because I was away most of yesterday and nobody else swept the floor, I drink my morning tea and reflect on several things that are swirling around in my head, primarily this piece I'm working on about how to be happier by lowering expectations...
I don't like messes. I really don't. I like things to be organized. I could spend hours re-arranging pencils if I had hours for this sort of thing at my disposal. But I don't. And I married someone who, shall we say, doesn't have the same standards when it comes to tidiness. Not that he's a slob, but he doesn't see dirt and has different ideas of what "orderly" looks like. And the kids - well, they're still fairly young and they don't always notice their fingers are dirty before putting them on the wall for no good reason. (On the plus side, I get very little nagging about the state of the house. On the down side, there's the state of the house... and cottage and car. Unless I've just cleaned it myself, it's dirty. And that's tiring.)
I'm also busy reading "Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World" by Adam Grant, which is fascinating, as well as "The Power of No" by James Altucher which is very inspiring too. Oh, and taking Ryan Holiday's advice to write notes on actual paper index cards (I just finished his splendid "Ego is the Enemy", and started reading more of his older columns and came across this really strong suggestion to have a commonplace book. This rang a loud bell in my head. You see, I got my law degree (with pretty decent grades, though not spectacular) in two and a half years while working full-time at a pub by taking copious notes by hand and basically copying law texts.
By hand, and not in rushed abbreviations either. I would rewrite my notes in full words and sentences, taking great care to write tidily and with the right instruments. I had a whole system of pencil, pen, and various ink colours (also highlighter colours) to keep everything neat and organized.
It worked, too. Not only did I pass my exams, I still remember a fair bit to this day, 20 years later. I haven't written anything down in years, but earlier this summer after listening to Tim Ferriss explain his journaling habits, I decided to give that a go, though not following his method to the letter - as it were. I got myself a notebook in which I write, ex post facto, how my day went. It hasn't changed my life yet. But who knows?
And now that I finally am making more time to read (whence the dirty window staring me in the face), I find myself taking more notes. I've used Evernote for years and thought it'd be great to keep all my reading notes there along with my recipes and reference links and who knows what-all. And it is. But yesterday Ryan Holiday threw me back to the mid-1990s and my law-degree habits and I thought, "oh, hey, what if I were to give that a whirl again." No law against keeping notes on paper and digitally, is there? I put in an order for index cards on Amazon and am now pondering which pen/colour combination I'll use for what. That makes me happy.
I have a whole bunch of chores to do this Labour Day weekend, including some filming and a whole whack of brush clearing. I'm getting some rest, too. I wish you a happy one.