How to Keep Your New Year's Resolutions
A few tools to make you healthy, wealthy and wise. Or at least healthy and wise.
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Well, we made it! 2021. And while hanging up a new calendar might not solve all (er, any) of the world’s current problems, it at least gives each of us an annual opportunity for some self-reflection that hopefully leads to some self-improvement during our next trip around the sun.
So regardless of your New Year’s resolution (or lack thereof), here are a few tricks I’m using in the new year to keep myself better organized and hold myself accountable for building good habits and eradicating bad ones. Maybe some of these will work for you, too!
Toward the end of 2020, I discovered this amazing “all-in-one platform” for getting my life together. For years I have searched for a solid to-do list app, system or physical piece of paper that will help me stay organized at home, at work and everywhere in-between. I’ve downloaded and uninstalled so many apps, ingested countless productivity articles and podcast episodes, and scattered my tasks and important information that I want to remember across too many different online and offline locations. It’s early yet, but I think Notion might actually be my key to success!
While Notion’s website stresses its usability for teams and companies, I have found great personal utility for it. The simple interface, availability on mobile and desktop, and the community of people who are creating public, implementable templates make this an extremely extendable product.
That’s great, Dad. But what IS it?
Well, in essence, it’s your second brain. You can create any kind of online document you can think of, link them to each other, search across them, nest them, share them privately, publish them publicly with a unique URL, and more. People have used Notion for to-do lists, resumes, schedules, time cards, personal websites, wikis, travel planning, food journals, reading lists, bucket lists….Look at this gallery of user-generated templates and you will see the possibilities.
I’ve honestly found it kind of addictive to play around with and further organize different aspects of my life. That’s the best kind of addiction! I have documents for personal to-dos, job to-dos, side hustle to-dos, freelance timecard, personal goals, writing ideas, movies/podcasts/books I want to consume or have consumed, inspirational quotes, and even the names of my neighbors (hey, it’s hard to remember all of them!).
The best part is that all of these lists are just a swipe away on my phone or a tab away on my computer. I have a spot for any info that I want to remember, or I can easily create a spot for it—and all in one place.
Check it out and let me know if you find a template that is particularly useful!
I’ve technically been using this fitness app for about three years now, but I used it a lot more in 2020, as one of my ways of dealing with the pandemic was to start running multiple times each week (and sticking with that) for the first time in my life. My goal for 2021 is to not let that slip even when the world begins to eventually reopen a bit.
Strava is a great tool that syncs with my Fitbit to track my runs (or bike rides) and I like it better than Fitbit’s internal tracker. You can connect with friends on the app, give and receive “kudos” to support each other’s efforts, and use it to log your exercise and track general trends over time. Since I usually run the same couple of routes, it will even show me how my efforts are improving (or backsliding) on a similar run. There are a bunch more features that require a subscription, but I haven’t taken that plunge yet.
You can also use the app to run “segments” that have been created in your area by local users to see how you stack up on those particular routes against other Strava users. Finally, you can join competitions and link up with other people running virtual 5Ks, as I did earlier this year when I ran the Imerman Angels Brunch Run. (highly recommended in post-pandemic times for people who hate cancer but love brunch)
When I was starting high school, my mom gave me an old-fashioned pen and paper 5-year journal that offered the opportunity to capture daily thoughts, activities, and reflections for each day for five years. I’ve returned to that journal a few times over the years and treasure the glimpse that the entries give into such a formative time in my life. It also leaves me wishing that I had actually written in it with any regularity, as I would then have a pretty epic record of my entire high school career and my first year of college.
Now that I’m a father, the days are flying faster than ever, and—since I’m equally bad at updating my Dad blog—I wanted to find a way to capture a couple thoughts or the flavor of each day in a way that wouldn’t take much time. I realized that if I found a good journal app, I could use the speak-to-text feature on my phone to dictate my daily thoughts and hopefully eliminate one more barrier to actually journaling. I sprang for a lifetime premium membership using money I had earned from the previously mentioned Google Rewards program that gives me free Google Play money for taking surveys.
While I haven’t been awesome about it, I have written 115 entries in 228 days. That is 115 more days than I would have captured otherwise! The app itself is pretty simple and uses Google Drive to save all the data and media that you write or upload into the app. While you could probably do this yourself on Google Drive (or Notion…), I needed the organization and push reminders of this app to make it work for me. I haven’t done this yet, but you can eventually export all the entries in various formats, including PDF.
Semi-related: Check out this podcast for tips on how to be a better storyteller and the journaling-worthy idea of capturing the most unique story of that happened to you each day.
O Launcher Minimal AF
This last one is just for my fellow Android users. Thanks to the Android’s ability to customize the “launcher” that dictates how your phone displays and organizes apps, I was able to find this one that makes it possible for me to minimize distractions and stop myself from giving into the temptation of endlessly scrolling social media apps. (I need to keep them installed on my phone for work, so just deleting them is not an option for me.)
Here is my home screen when I unlock my phone:
All of my apps are still available via search, but having them go unseen when I unlock my phone is exactly what I need to increase my productivity and eliminate wasted time. It’s been a great start to the new year and a perfect way to continue trying to fulfill all the promises I made after watching The Social Network.
What to Watch
The Right Stuff
Stream on Disney Plus
If you’re looking for a new binge-able show for the new year, I highly suggest National Geographic’s The Right Stuff, a dramatized series based on Tom Wolf’s book on the early days of NASA and the space program. Now that The Mandolarian is over, my wife and I needed a new show, so we gave this a try and are currently three episodes in. The acting, plot, soundtrack and 1960s-era set decoration make for a very enjoyable viewing experience, even if you already know how it ends. There is also an accompanying documentary called The Real Right Stuff that separates fact from the semi-fictionalized portrayal.
That’s it for this edition. What apps, tips or tricks are you using to improve yourself in the new year? Seen any good shows lately? Let me know in the comments! Thanks for reading and please pass this along to anyone else who might enjoy it!