Day 6 of this crazy little experiment of posting 5 things every day the last week of 2018. Today’s topic is on the Top 5 personal growth tools that I’m currently using.

  1. Journaling – I actually have five different journals – four physical and one digital. The first physical journal is a general journal for capturing thoughts, sketching out ideas, making lists, drawing charts. More of a field journal than anything. The second physical journal is my soul journal – modeled after the process from the book “Writing Down Your Soul”. My third journal is a small journal I use to capture my current mindset, situation or circumstances. It allows me to step outside of my head chatter. Finally, my fourth physical journal is a creative journal that I use for fleshing out lyrics, poems and other creative sparks. My fifth journal is Apple Notes. I create a new Note for each Month with a date of entry for quotes I find, musings that come to me, interesting links, etc.
  2. Meditation – I have learned to sit quietly and just be present. This can be on airplanes, while driving, sitting and waiting for a meeting to start. Sitting in the quiet of the seams of life is very grounding and an easy way to be in the now. For a more formal meditation practice I use Sam Harris’ Waking Up app. I’ve tried HeadSpace, Insight Timer and others and have found Sam’s app to be the most useful. Partially because it’s stripped down to simple, science-based concepts.
  3. Productivity – We use Slack for daily communication with our team. This gloriously simple app has reduced internal emails by around 90%. For tracking to-dos and task, I use WunderList. Based on the Agile execution model, I keep a list of top 5 items, then other sub-lists as reminders based on various categories. I also use Evernote, Apple Notes, Pocket, Feedly, Buffer for various purposes. As well as both DropBox and Google Suites. Overall, I feel like I have a solid foundation for productivity but am frequently fiddling with the details to make it run even more smoothly.
  4. Connecting – Working from home as part of a remote team can be quite isolating. So I make a conscious effort to get out and connect with people. This may be my inner circle of Austin friends as well as new contacts that have reached out to me or that I’ve been introduced to. This also includes visits via phone or Zoom with friends in other parts of the country. I find these conversations to be nourishing, insightful and something to look forward to each week. I do have to be careful though, because my tendency is to fill up my calendar with meetings and swing the pendulum too far from isolation to being over-booked.
  5. Reading – Sitting down and reading a book often feels like an act of rebellion against the reality distortion chamber of social, news, etc. I think this is why I prefer tangible books. Not just to mark them up but to hold on to something real. I usually have a rotation of 5 – 6 books that I’m reading. These books frequently fall into categories such as spiritual, psychology, business, leadership, classics and novels. I don’t have a set time for how long I read or what book I pick up. I just have a sense of when it’s time to read and then make space for it. If I get bored reading, it usually means it’s time to go outside, workout, cook or do something active.

I try to be very mindful that none of these become overly ritualized or unconscious habits. In order for them to be personal growth tools, they have to feel important but not obligatory. They also have a fit-for-purpose aspect – which is if they no longer serve their purpose, stop doing them.  In 2019, I’m looking forward to re-adding health/fitness back into my rotation. I’ve let that slip fairly far down the hierarchy of importance. More on that in my final post tomorrow!

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