100 Happy Days 8 – a hand written letter

Today I wrote a long-overdue letter to my friend in Portugal:

Got a long way to go

Apart from that I’ve been busy all day. Done a lot of walking, which is good. And I got my hair cut! The medication has killed my ends far too much. Now they’re gone, and I’ve dyed over the rest to make it one colour again.

I know I have a long way to go before everything’s back to normal, but every little step lights up my day.



My six little boxes

I’m writing this post to accompany a challenge I’ve set up on an organisation website called HabitRPG. I’ll blog more about Habit another time, because it’s amazing and I love it and everyone should check it out! But for now I want to explain what I mean by my six little boxes.

We’ve all heard the spiel of the self-help guru. Sometimes it works for us, sometimes it doesn’t. When it does we rejoice that some other person has told us how to fix our lives. When it doesn’t we either change everything to someone else’s plan, change the existing plan repeatedly until it does work, or promptly give up, go home and never again speak of the whole embarrassing situation.

Basically, I made up my own. I’ve never told anyone about it, never really saw how it might work for anyone else – but it works for me. So, since I was feeling brave and made a challenge for others to try and do it on Habit, I thought I’d write a nice blog post explaining the idea more thoroughly.

I looked at my life. I looked at what I needed to do more of or pay more attention to. And I split everything into 6 categories, or my “little boxes”. I try to do something for each box as often as I can – if I’m feeling great and have lots of free time, it’s every day. If I’m busy or unwell or life gets in the way I aim for one significant thing from each box a week. That way I always feel like the plan is ticking over.

So here are the boxes:

1# Health and Wellbeing

Don’t worry, I’m not telling you to eat better or exercise more. What you do is up to you. This one’s about what ever makes your mind, body and soul feel better. It can be physically tailored, of course – go for a walk or a swim, do some dancing or yoga, even cleaning can break you out in a sweat at times. Just make sure you say to yourself – this is for my health and wellbeing box. If food is more your thing then you can cook healthy meals, do the diet logs, try to drink more water. Then there’s the mind and spirit activities, like meditation and relaxation, even prayer and bible study is something I’ve placed in this box at times. It’s about variety of choice just as much as it is about discipline and keeping the ball rolling. Never be afraid to shake it up a little, and remember that your body is more than just the vessel you live in. So experiment with different ways to take care of it.

#2 Education and Acheivement

We’re never too old to learn, and I’m a massive fan of retraining and expanding my skill base. So for this box we’re looking at new things or building on existing things. Perhaps learn a new language in preparation for a holiday abroad. Take a class for a hobby you enjoy or find a new qualification you can sit for in your local area. I use this box for learning my programming or doing research for stories I’m working on – because when the research is in-depth enough it’s still learning. I have a few history books I often read from the middle ages and medieval period because one of my stories is set in that era. I can tell you so much about 1400’s England that I didn’t know before all because of the time I’ve spent working with this box. Also, if you’re a parent or older sibling, don’t be afraid to tick this box for sharing your own knowledge, such as helping with homework. Or, as a student, doing your own. Pop down to the library for book on new skills or read up on the internet. I’ve taught myself how to do pixel art online using a handful of tutorials and a lot of patience – and every pixel I’ve placed comes under this category. And, if you really can’t think of anything you’d ever need to or want to learn because you know it all – blog about it, and show someone else. Make some tutorial videos. Be the teacher.

#3 Organisation and Productivity

Here’s our box for the household and all those niggly chores we don’t like doing, such as hoovering the carpets, cleaning out the bathroom, washing that mountain of clothing you wish wasn’t hiding in the corner. But it’s about so much more than just mediocre things you’d do every day – hence the organisation part. Spend a bit of time detailing your diary and making sure you know when all your appointments are for the next week. File away all those wage slips and bank statements so they don’t keep falling off your desk and all over the floor. If you’re getting cluttered up there’s always spring cleaning, emptying boxes you never open and can’t remember what’s inside, or sifting through your wardrobe and admitting to yourself at least half of those clothes never see the light of day. Whether you work from home or not, lots of little things in your career can also count under this, like clearing your desk, computer files and email inbox. Even checking your emails is organised, since it’s better not to miss anything important. And don’t forget shopping, of course! Making sure there’s enough food for any hungry mouths, products for dirty faces and everything your house needs on a weekly basis can sometimes take more organisational skills than you’d think.

#4 Creativity and Art

Some people are daunted by this one but it covers a broad spectrum so don’t be afraid. If you’re an artist, fantastic. Drawing or painting, sculpting or crafting, even decorating and DIY, building furniture and other items, knitting and crochet and quilting all counts as making something. Then there’s performance art, such as dancing, singing and drama. I count my fictional writing as creative, whether it’s short stories, poetry or even spoken word art. Video editing and, in some ways, blogging can count. Cooking or baking can be very artistic, especially when something’s made from scratch or decorated really well. Even gardening has elements of art in there. For those of you who cannot think or find or feel their way with this box, perhaps art and cultural enjoyment would be an alternative? Like a visit to a theatre, art gallery or museum. Remember the photography mentioned earlier? That’s artisitic too.

#5 Socialising and Making Connections

I know some people need no encouragement here, but others do, and I’m one of them. It can be friends, family, strangers, work colleagues – anyone you like. But try to find a way to push just a little connection here every so often. Call a relative you’ve not heard from in a while and ask how everything is. Make arrangements to have that coffee with that person you keep running into and forgetting to get back to. Meet your friends for a drink or invite them round for dinner. If your career involves a lot of social media elements this one’s a great box for your contacts and meetings. Go mad on twitter telling everyone how your new project’s going. Log into your favourite forums and spend some time bending the ears of others on things that matter to you. Even taking a walk to the shop with the dog and buying your bread and milk counts as opening the door to the outside world and another person. Assuming there’s a shop keeper. And a dog.

#6 Entertainment and Personal Space

We’ve had the time for others, now let’s have the time for me. This one is such an easy one to miss out, but it’s so important! You have to look after yourself and make sure that you do something that makes you smile, no matter how unusual or random you might think it is. Relax in a cafe with a good book and a slice of cake – you’ve done the healthy bit, now be naughty. Have a lie-in on a Sunday morning or spend a really long time soaking in a bath. If you really are the biggest extrovert ever and nothing alone makes you happy then go out on the town with your friends and get giddy, invite people round for a film night, or shut them all away and watching it on your own with a hot chocolate and your favourite pyjamas. listen to music and dance when nobody can see you – this is something I do far more than I should! But it makes me feel silly happy, and that’s the point.

So there we have it guys. My six little boxes, and a few ideas of what you can do to fill them. Everybody’s different, everybody will have contrasting tastes, and everyone will find some boxes easier than others. It’s part of life. And there are a lot of things that can fit under more than one box – I mentioned reading more than once. Reading for pleasure can be entertainment, reading aloud can be education for others or even for yourself. If it’s reading something you’ve written, that’s creative. Don’t be afraid to find your own way to fill those little boxes.

And let me know what you do! I’d love to hear how other people find this structure works for them.