Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Christmas came early

Behold, my Christmas present to Garrett: a ukulele!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Massachusetts Institute of To-do-ology

When we aren't living minimally, we tend to maximize the stress in our lives. There is always something to do -- whether it be related to work, school, family, the house, or one's hobbies. This seems to be true especially during the holiday season, which is upon us!

Remember the minimalism philosophy? First, identify what's important to you. Second, eliminate everything else. This is a helpful perspective when creating to-do lists.

Garrett and I got this idea from zenhabits. Create focus (and success) but identifying the three most important things you want to accomplish each day -- your MITs (Most Important Tasks). You may accomplish more than just three goals for the day, but if you can tackle your three main objectives, then you should feel a sense of fulfillment -- and pride!

Personally, I love to-do lists. I live by to-do lists. Writing this blog post was on my to-do list. But my organization and forethought can be my downfall. My to-do lists quickly snowball into lengthy scrolls. As I cross off one task, I add three more. I rarely feel that I am "finished." I usually feel guilty or disappointed at the end of a day when I haven't crossed everything off my list.

About a month ago, I started implementing the MIT philosophy at work, where I type a to-do list each day. This used to be a monstrous list of 10-20 bulleted points. Rather than helping me focus my energy, this kind of list left me frazzled and disoriented. So I began to choose my three MITs each day -- three and only three! At the top of my list, I prioritize the three tasks that I must accomplish that day -- meeting with a teacher, finishing a report, testing a student, filling out a special education form, etc. And then I tackle them, one by one. This keeps me from going cross-eyed, scanning through 20 tasks. On most days, I can accomplish my MITs, and then a few extra tasks that are bulleted below my top three. That's like icing on the cake!

Being organized in this fashion decreases my stress at work and at home. I usually write my 3 MITs for tomorrow at the end of today's work day. That way, I leave work with a clear head. I'm less likely to stress about work at night if I have already laid out my plans for the next day.

Garrett and I have recently started using this strategy on the weekends. Rather than put pressure on ourselves to do all of the things we meant to do during the week but didn't, we chat over Saturday breakfast, naming a few simple goals that are related to both errands and leisure time. It helps! A to-do list shouldn't get the better of you -- especially on the weekend.

Whether you're in Cambridge or Texas, let MIT into your life.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Happy Halloween!

It's Garrett's favorite time of the year! We spent Halloween eve at a party at Beth's apartment, followed by a pub crawl in the area of Houston known as Montrose.

Here's Indiana Jones and his goddess! This year's addition to Garrett's costume was a handmade fedora -- from scratch! (Or "from felt.") He worked very, very hard on it, and the end product is fantastic. Soon I'll be putting together an online photo album to document the making of the hat.

Beth dressed as a sailor, and Stephanie was Miss Piggy!

Even Lucky had a costume. He was supposed to be a dinosaur, but has also been described as a Reluctant Dragon.

Chris is an engineering student. One of his hobbies is making speakers. It took him about two hours to construct this mobile boom box, using an iPod, some wires, a lot of duct tape, and the speaker from his guitar amp. He was the most popular member of our group on the pub crawl, blasting music wherever he went!

After several hours at Beth's place, we went out to the pub crawl. There were tons of costumed people roaming the streets. Here is Laura, Patricia, Spencer, and me. Laura and Spencer are teachers at my school.

I didn't get any photos of them, but some of my favorite costumes were Quail Man (from the Nickelodeon cartoon "Doug"), Tippi Hedren from "The Birds" (a blue dress with birds attached to it, and scratches on her face), and Mormon missionaries (two guys wearing white short-sleeve button-up shirts, ties, nametags, black pants, backpacks, and bike helmets). Finalists in the official competition included a group dressed as the cast of "Spaceballs."

We ended the night at the Firkin & Phoenix, a pub next door to Beth's building. She goes there on a regular basis and knows the staff -- it's her "Cheers"! Yesterday the bartender presented her with her very own mug, which sits on the Tuesday shelf. She is very pleased.

We plan to go on a walk this evening around dusk to check out the trick-or-treaters in our neighborhood. Have a spooky day!