What worked in 2015

IMG_0007I already did an update on my major quarterly goals for 2015. I hit most of them. The ones I didn’t hit I’ve mostly decided not to care about except for the new non-fiction book idea. This one is going to haunt me. And it will become my top goal for Q1 of 2016.

Anyway, following the suggestion of Katherine, who was following the suggestion of Modern Mrs. Darcy, I’m going to write about what worked for me in 2015. These are not the big goals. These are more of the every day things.

Time tracking. I began tracking my time continuously in April. As of December, I’m still going. I plan to continue until at least April just to have a whole year (8784 hours – it’s a leap year) of data. It’s fascinating in a very naval-gazing sort of way. That will be a fun series of data analysis posts (well, for me at any rate) next spring.

Keeping a journal. After three years of writing very, very sporadically, I have kept up the habit this year with only a few missed days. Between that and the time log, 2015 will be well-recorded.

Family photos. We’ve taken 3 sets of photos in 12 months. It’s a pain to sit for them, but I’m so happy to have them, and I’ll be even more happy in years hence.

Nordstrom Trunk Club. I’ll call it Stitch Fix’s more elegant (and yes, expensive) sister. I’ll likely spring for another trunk next summer. I’ve worn almost everything, and the two dresses I haven’t worn I definitely will. In general, Nordstrom has been a nice part of my year. My frugal soul hates to admit it, but I was not a bad addition to Nordstrom’s year, either.

The piano teacher who comes to us. My two oldest boys started piano lessons this fall. There’s a local music school that sends the teacher to you to do lessons in your house. This is brilliant, because if I had to haul the kids somewhere, it wouldn’t happen. They’re making great progress. My 8-year-old has started composing. One piece was about Jesus and another was about Avatar, the Last Airbender.

My speaking business. I’ve always given speeches, but this fall, after the launch of I Know How She Does It, I feel it’s really taken off and will become a bigger chunk of my business next year. I think I’ve gotten decent at it too. You can watch my Chicago Ideas Week video here.

The Cooking Light banana bread recipe. This was one of their all-star recipes from a few years ago. My 4-year-old daughter now notes whenever we have 3 brown bananas. That’s the signal it’s time for banana bread! We make it together. We make it about once a week now. It’s really awesome. This leads me to the next item…

Low-carb eating. This sort of worked and sort of didn’t. I went from 136 to 121 lbs in 3 months on a low carb diet. Then I realized that I really, really, like ice cream and cookies and beer. So now I’m a bit higher. For the most part I’m OK with that, though I go back and forth.

The literary advent calendar. I’ve enjoyed reading the stories with the kids, and I think they’ve enjoyed it too. I’d like to come up with some other nudge that gets me and them reading more.

My 8-year-old’s book club. It’s been a little harder to set up playdates for him, partly because he’s in school all day, and then swimming, and then weekends feature a lot of other stuff. But the 5 kids who get together every 2 months or so to discuss a book have done well together. Maybe they’ll inspire me to start my own book club!

Runs with new running partners. I have two new folks I run with this year, and it’s been great! They’re both faster, which is pushing me. I need to be pushed, as left to my own devices I would just loiter. Jane and I did 6 9:36 miles about two weeks ago. That’s the pace I’d like to run more regularly.

My new bathrooms and kitchen lights. I’d hated the first floor bathrooms and kitchen lights in my house for 4 years. In 2015, I did something about it. I have a few projects in mind for next year now too.

Waiting for the bus with my boys. I do it every morning I’m home now. It’s a good chance to chat and get a bit of fresh air first thing.

Using a different type of wrapping paper for each child’s presents. I could see instantly if things looked balanced. Also, my pre-literate children knew who each present was for.

What worked for you in 2015? If you blogged on this topic, feel free to leave a link in your comment!

Photo: Present triage area.

25 thoughts on “What worked in 2015

  1. Hello Laura
    Your blog is my favorite. It always inspires and encourages me.
    2015 was a year that proved I was stronger than I thought.
    I have used the different wrapping paper for each kid for 30 years for the same reasons.
    Have you considered having a book club on your blog? I so enjoy your insights and comments about articles and books you have read.
    I’m going to include time tracking,daily journaling and the Nordstrom Trunk to my 2016 goals.
    Thank you again for your quality blog.
    Here’s to 2016!

    1. @Shelley- potentially I could make a book club on the blog. I’d have to figure out what kind of book could work. I just finished Little Beach Street Bakery, which is a total book club type book. Hmm…

  2. I’ve gotten lots of good ideas from your blog this year, Laura, and this one–thinking about what worked in 2015–is a great one. I like the idea of pondering what worked in the past year and building on it in future. We (I) too often don’t take time to appreciate our own progress and accomplishments. All the best to you for 2016!

  3. I read 168 Hours a few years ago but it has been so helpful/inspirational to find your blog and read your latest book this year. It has totally changed my approach to parenting. Your talk from Chicago is really great. Would love to share at my firm’s staff meeting in January.

  4. Oh, and I had wanted to say “ME TOO” about the lower carb (well, for me more paleo) thing. I can’t seem to make up my mind whether the restrictions are freeing or annoying. I like how small (yet important!) some of the items on the list are. Little tweaks really can make things better.

  5. I have been so much more purposeful with my time this past year (in part thanks to you). The first step was to do a self-assessment about when I was most productive (or not productive at all) with different types of tasks. Then, I shifted things around. One example is my typical afternoon web browsing. Instead of just reading other blogs, now I use that time to work on my own blog and comment on sites to bring in traffic to my own site. I used to waste a lot of time in the morning, because I just couldn’t focus. Now, I let myself sleep in a bit and do some more work at night.

  6. Very cool! I checked out Trunk Club on your recommendation and was just about to get a box when hubby found out his job is moving to CT. So once he finds a new gig (we decided not to move), I’m going to try it. Let us know if you have a referral code 🙂

    Thanks to you, I have 3 quarterly goals for Q1, one of which I’ve made significant progress on in the last 2 days. (Painting a dresser that’s been sitting in the garage for 5 months.) Thanks for that!

  7. Amen to the traveling piano teacher. That is what makes piano lessons possible here, as well.

    thanks for the post! I look forward to reading others’ posts as well!

  8. Enjoy the time at the bus stop for now. When my daughter reached middle school I was wondering why she always missed the bus. Then I had my appendix removed and was under orders to stay in the house. Without the embarrassment of Dad standing with her, she has only missed the bus a handful of times since.

  9. Hi Laura.
    A little new to your blog, so excuse any oversight of perhaps recent posts — but just curious, are you still mostly using pen&paper for your time tracking? And are you using any specific tools for analyzing?? (spreadsheets, apps, other programs, etc.?)

  10. Thank you for the prompt to revisit what worked in 2015, I’ve been so focused on planning and setting goals for 2016 that I’ve ignored the fact that 2015 was fabulous. The new jobs for both me and hubby are just great. I’ve made changes to the way I teach my class that resulted in the best student work to date. I’ve revitalized the student programs through the professional organization I volunteer for and got a lot of praise and support. Eliminating commute increased the quantity and quality of my home life. I even took six weeks off and spent some serious time with my aging parents in the home country. And I made it to yoga about twice a week. Yay for 2015!
    The only thing that didn’t work for me was keeping the time log, but between three jobs my weekly hours are tightly allocated, and I bill my job hours and logging it all seemed making a copy of the schedule I would set for the week. So instead of tracking I’ll do a better job planning and making sure everything I want to do is on the schedule.

  11. There a few things that worked for me. 1. the move! Now the commute to the office is 20 minutes, not 3 hours a day. Talk about life improvement. 2. the move :). We shed some stuff in the move process, so now everything is slightly lighter and cleaner.
    One thing that worked and didn’t work at the same time was assisting other photographers at A LOT of events. I got to see how other professionals do beautiful work, but left me exhausted. I loved 2015 but I think I will 2016 even more after a few adjustments.

    And I love reading your points. There are a few I will try in 2016. Happy new year!

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