Do Just One Thing Today

ladybug and daisies

Weird early morning shot of a ladybug and daisy buds

 

One of the best time management tips I ever heard was to jot down a list of Top Three Priorities each morning, and commit to accomplishing those three things. When I take a moment to do that and stay focused on just getting through my short list, I accomplish so much more than when I let the day self-direct itself with e-mails, calls and other demands.

 

Clematis vine

The clematis in full bloom

Let’s simplify this idea even further, and just focus on a single priority.

What’s the one thing you would love to accomplish today? Write it as a comment.

And then, let’s each do that one important thing.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. I committed to spending 15 minutes a day this week taking photographs. If you’re new to this blog, you can read more about accomplishing big things in small increments of time.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Let’s Talk About Resistance

face in a tree

Yesterday’s photo – a whimsical tree face

Most of us can identify a handful of activities that make us feel extraordinarily satisfied when we do them. A few on my list include exercising, writing, meditating, spending time with my family, praying, walking, gardening and creating. So why do I so often get to the end of the day and realize I’ve squandered most of my precious minutes on everything but those things?

Resistance comes in many forms. “You have too many important things to get done right now. Maybe you can take a walk later in the day,” that little voice says.

Or: “It’s only fifteen minutes anyway. It won’t really matter if you skip meditating today.”

Or: “What you really need is a weekend away in a quiet cabin. Then you can focus on your novel and do some great writing.”

My friend Diane Sieg—an author, speaker and yoga instructor who is one of the most active and productive people I know—says she talks to her resistance. “I’m not going to listen to you!” she says. “You’re not going to sidetrack me today.” And then she gets busy doing the things that matter.

How about you? Do you ever feel that mysterious pull to ignore those few actions that mean so much? How do you handle resistance? How would you feel if you devoted 15 minutes today to something worthwhile?

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. Congratulations to Denise at Wisdom From My Parents who won the giveaway of sunscreen from Block Island Organics. Check back again soon for more giveaways.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Learning By Messing Around

currant close up

When I was just starting out in the business world in the 1980s, Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. wrote an international bestselling book called In Search of Excellence. One of the concepts the authors wrote about was an idea they called MBWA – Management by Wandering Around.

During their research they discovered that managers who got out from behind their desks and regularly talked to people built companies of greater openness, trust and creativity. That simple idea always resonated with me, and I think of it to this day when I get stuck. Get up! I tell myself when I’ve been at my computer too long. Get out! Wander around and explore. Stop thinking and planning, and go out and make something happen!

I’ve taken photography classes and studied my camera manual, but I’m really a student of LBMA—learning by messing around. I love to tinker and explore out in the field. The close-up photo of currants above is one I took yesterday while experimenting with macro lenses again. I was lying in the grass and the sun was already too bright, so I only snapped a few shots.

I was hoping for a pretty result because I love this currant bush. I had trouble even digging a hole for it eight years ago in our rock-hard clay soil, and then Dad died and I totally neglected it. But the bush flourished nonetheless. The currants are tart and sweet, and I eat them off the bush because I read that they’re a good source of phytochemicals. They also make delicious homemade booze. But I digress.

When I looked at the images closely later, I was disappointed because they were overexposed and slightly out of focus. Here’s how the image above looked straight out of the camera:

red currant

But part of the fun of learning, for me, is experimenting with photo editing. Using Photoshop Elements, I cropped the image, adjusted the colors and tones a bit, and increased the contrast. I experimented with the program’s Sharpen feature, and that improved my shaky hand.

While it’s not a photo that will win any awards, I was happy with it and learned a few things in the process. Because I have to shoot in “manual” mode with the camera’s macro lens, I need to make slight adjustments in the focus and shoot several versions of each image to increase my odds of getting that nice, sharp focus. I need to experiment more with the aperture settings, and a tripod would be a good idea, too. I also need to get up a little earlier in the morning if I want to capture the pretty light on this currant bush.

How about you? Could you do 15 minutes of LBMA today? Let’s go!

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. Today is the final day to enter to win full-sized bottles of organic, zinc-based sunscreen and cooling sunburn gel from Block Island Organics. Details here.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Fifteen Minutes a Day – What Good Thing Will You Do Today?

Emperor Angelfish

I posted a challenge on Sunday about devoting just 15 minutes a day to something worthwhile for the next six days. A number of you are undertaking some important endeavors, and I’m excited about your goals and plans. If you’re just now reading about the idea, feel free to jump right in!

For my 15 daily minutes I committed to take photos, and I shot this one yesterday when my son and I stopped at a pet shop. This striking saltwater fish is an Emperor Angelfish, and he was very shy so I stood still and waited for several minutes until he came out of hiding. I’ve never seen a fish with such beautiful markings.

How about you? If you’d made some time for something important, I’d love to hear what you’re up to.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

How I Spent My First Fifteen Minutes

Clematis close up

In yesterday’s post, I invited you to participate with me in a six-day experiment to do something worthwhile for 15 minutes a day. I committed to taking photos each day, and thought you might like to see my first effort. I’ve recently been fooling around with some macro lenses, and the image above is the very center of a clematis blossom, taken with a 10+ macro lens. I spent about 15 minutes setting up a tripod, trying different settings, and taking a number of shots. A little sunshine came in and hit the blossom during this time, which I thought made the pistils look like a tiny sea anemone.

 

To put this weird photo in perspective, here’s the same blossom shot from a different angle a few inches back:

Clematis blossom

 

Here’s a photo I took over the weekend, of the clematis vine in the early evening sunshine:

Clematis vine

How about you? Would you like to commit to spending 15 minutes a day this week doing something worthwhile? (It’s not too late to start.) You know we all want to hear what you’re up to.

Hugs, and here’s to making good things happen in manageable increments this week,

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.

Let’s Explore the Incredible Power of Fifteen Minutes

Write every day

Photo: Rui Fernandes

 

“I’d love to write a book someday, but right now I don’t have the time.”

I hear this often when I teach writing classes. One of my favorite exercises to do with beginning writers is a timed sprint. We set a timer for 15 minutes, and everyone writes as quickly and unconsciously as they can.

When the timer goes off, these writers are often astonished that their average word count comes in at about 400 words. Then we do the math:  if we write just 400 words a day for five days a week, we can write a 60,000-word draft of a novel in about seven months—and still have weekends off.

I’ve learned that doing big things in small chunks of time can be incredibly productive. With this in mind, how would you like to join me in an experiment this week? If you’re game, let’s commit to 15 minutes of one activity for the next six days. We’ll start Monday and end Saturday. The only requirement is that we state our intentions below and check in every day for six days after we complete our activity. By Saturday we’ll have devoted an hour and a half to something meaningful, and we can share our results.

Creating art at Happy Simple Living

Photo by Stephen A. Wolfe

Here are some ideas:

  • Organize
  • Meditate
  • Practice gratitude
  • Exercise
  • Create a scrapbook page
  • Pray
  • Write in a journal
  • Beautify a space
  • Learn foreign language words or phrases
  • Read to a child
  • Create art
  • Memorize a scripture
  • Write a letter
  • Take a walk
  • Reach out to a friend or loved one
  • Take photographs
  • Work in the garden
  • Write a story or begin your novel

If you’re “in,” leave a comment below about what you’ll do for 15 minutes a day this week. Then, just reply to your own comment each day you complete the activity.  You can just write “Done,” or tell us more about what you did, or how it’s going.

The Quinoa Quookbook

Just for fun, I’ll choose a random name from those of you who participate and give away a signed copy of The Quinoa Quookbook at week’s end.

Are you game? I’ll get the party started and leave the first comment.

The signature for Eliza Cross

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is a full-time writer and the author of seven books about food and home design. She has been blogging about simplicity and sustainable living since 2006.