Laura’s note: I’m welcoming Elisabeth Frost to the blog today! Elisabeth participated in my Tranquility by Tuesday Project during the spring of 2021, and she is one of the people whose results appear in the book. If you’d like to work through the nine TBT rules, week by week, please sign up for the Tranquility by Tuesday Challenge, which starts this Friday.
by Elisabeth Frost
After wanting to start a blog for well over a decade, I hit publish at 4:25 pm one Saturday afternoon in 2021. Since then, I’ve hit publish 424 more times. Because that’s the way we create habits in life – do something once and then repeat.
So how did I go from wanting to do something – for years! – to actually doing it? Enter Laura and, more specifically, her rules from Tranquility by Tuesday.
Early in 2021, I was part of Laura’s time-study group trialing her nine rules aimed at “calming the chaos.” Because even with the universal limitation of a 24-hour day, we all have additional, unique constraints that bring some form of chaos – kids, pets, a long commute. It’s the stories we tell ourselves about those constraints that can make a big difference in how we structure our lives.
I Don’t Have Time to Write. I’ll Never Stick with It, So Why Bother Starting? Or, the runaway bestseller: It’s So Much Easier to Just Scroll On My Phone and Read Other People’s Blogs.
I had lots of stories in my head, and none on paper.
Following Laura’s rules challenged me to rethink this narrative. First, I have a lot more time than I think – turns out, 168 hours each week. Second, now I had permission to claim as a habit anything I did three times a week; with regard to my writing aspirations, this released me from the notion that I had to write every day for it to count. Third? I needed to put down my phone and actually write.
For the duration of the study, I committed to writing something three times a week. I could have copied out the phone book (I didn’t) – what mattered to me was forming the habit of regular writing.
When the time study was completed, the e-mails from Laura stopped. No one was there to ask me if I had remembered to Move by 3 pm; I didn’t get reminders to plan in One big adventure, one little adventure or to write Three times a week.
In lieu of direct oversight, have I stuck with the rules perfectly? Not even close. I often forget to Plan on Fridays. I sometimes pick away at tasks inefficiently throughout the day instead of Batching the little things. During one low point, I ate onion rings and chocolate in response to catastrophizing about how long it had been since I had gone running – instead of getting up off the couch and, you know, actually going for a run (the epitome of Effortless before effortful?).
I now write more than Three times a week. Last summer my family’s big adventure was a 3-week-long road trip. Laura gives equal airtime to little adventures, too. It was with this rule in mind that I invited a friend to go out for ice cream one beautiful evening…without kids. It was delicious and a highlight of my summer. Her Move by 3 pm rule was the subconscious nudge I needed to maintain a daily outdoor walking streak in 2022.
Even without perfect adherence, applying these rules have made me feel better about how I use my time. They’ve made me more mindful of my autonomy to choose well. While it’s tempting to consider a complete life overhaul, what I really needed and wanted was the inspiration to finally launch a little writing space online, say yes to a second Broadway show (a big adventure!)…and commit to a 10:30 pm bedtime (this last one is harder than it sounds).
Early in Tranquility by Tuesday Laura writes: “I believe the big pieces in your life are probably good. I don’t want to change those. I want to change how you spend an average Tuesday.”
Well, yesterday was an average Tuesday. I wrote. I walked the kids to school in the morning. I batched administrative tasks at work. My light was out before 10:30 pm.
And today? I’m guest posting for Laura Vanderkam. I’d say Three times a week is a habit provided some pretty fun results…
Your turn. What goal or habit change – big or little – currently feels overwhelming? How could you break that down into more manageable chunks or, perhaps, reframe entirely? What was your best adventure – big or little – from 2022? What’s your ideal bedtime…and do you stick to it?
Photos: Elisabeth’s usual writing spot; Elisabeth Frost