Getting things done

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Why do tasks and projects and stuff keep accumulating in our life? Why was this not fixed by moving into a bus and set out to travel the world? Did nothing change, is it not possible to learn something new, so that life becomes simpler and to-do lists shorter? What does it take, and how do we do it?

On Sundays, I write. About our life, our inner and outer journey, our reflections. Right now the sun is rising above the horizon, the roosters are singing, the stove is running, the kids are reading. Today we are going out to bond with an American ex-pat family near Barcelona. Like-minded people in many ways. A favorite Sunday plan. 

The Sunday writing has a double focus: I share our travel stories from the past week, including photo galleries and small details, and I share the inner journey: Our reflections, developments, experiences, curiosity. It does become very personal, almost like a public diary. It is vulnerable and open. Yet, I just know, this is the right thing to do. 

The background of this text is known territory: Catalonia is our new home base, we have been here a lot.

We might have left our country to travel the world, yet it seems to have a home base to travel from suits us better than free-flowing. Luckily the “mon” in -Mon- la Bassa actually means “world” in Catalan. So, even when we are back at base camp, we are traveling the world. 

In this text, I wonder what change means and what it takes to find and create something new. Can we actually change the things that keep coming back and move from the annoyances that seem to follow us through life?

real-change

Can we create real change?

Why was everything not fixed by moving into a bus and set out to travel the world? Did nothing change, is it not possible to learn something new, so that life becomes simpler and to do lists shorter? What does it take, and how do we do it?

After the World School Summit and the Andalusia Roadtrip, we have set aside a month at home base. This time is dedicated to Getting Things Done. The ambition of being on top of everything is probably a bit too much to ask ourselves, we do know we will not make it 100%. The project also seems frustrating, as we tend to come back to it, rather than winning.

Why do tasks and projects and stuff keep accumulating in our life? Why was everything not fixed by moving into a bus and set out to travel the world? Did nothing change, is it not possible to learn something new, so that life becomes simpler and to-do lists shorter? What does it take, and how do we do it?

The answers to these questions are multiple, from multiple levels. Mostly it is the mindset. 

On the practical level, we just do it. We begin in one end. Making the long lists, analyzing them, so we can eliminate the unnecessary, and then we just begin: With insurance cases, tax papers, loose hangers, fixing the motor, repairing of clothes and furniture and windows, sorting stuff, organizing, cleaning, upgrading.

We have done this many times in our life. Focused practical time to elevate the energy of our life. There are two facts, we need to embrace the practical life challenge:

Firstly: Accept, this is how it is: Life is practical, and also has a natural pulse to it. Sometimes we focus our energy on Getting Things Done, and at other times we let go and let our spirits breathe. Both are necessary and equally important. 

Secondly. We must accept, real change comes from changing mindsets and habits. 

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Mindset and habits

Now, I will admit it actually DID work to move into a bus and set off to travel the world. We now focus a month primarily on the practical level, but we do it in a wonderful context, and even though a veteran bus-based tiny home need attention, and a life with three children does create lots of stuff to organize and update, AND being self-employed sometimes (often) actually is a LOT of work – it is manageable. We still run freely, we still live in a very small home, we CAN manage our to-do lists and projects, and we DO see the change in the amount of stuff we own and need to attend. 

The physical frame of the tiny home simply minimizes the task, the amount of stuff, the stressors. This really does work. And being on a constant adventure does focus our priorities: we just need and want to be ready and alert, focused in a simple yet functional setup, so we can say YES and go travel whenever we just know it is the right thing to do. 

The art of letting go and letting in

We just sold our house in Denmark, and it does feel weird. It is obvious to us, it catalyzes change, and we have improved our ability to getting things done, with no hesitation, no regrets, no trouble. It takes a lot of time to get through the lists, but after 2 weeks of work, we now start to feel the change. 

Working with patterns of thought makes all the difference. If we are to actually win over the power of stuff and the long to-do lists, it is critical to understand the cognitions underlying the recurrent trouble and decide to change them. 

Simply get in the habit of thinking in a new way. 

Change your truth. 

An example is this: When I minimize and decide to let go of something, I want to be responsible and not waste resources. For that reason, my first thought is: “this can still be used, how do I upcycle or where do I relocate it?”. Instead, I simply need to let go of it. Goodbye, a charity box and out of my mind. To be responsible, I shall instead acquire less in the first place. Do we really need this is a very good question to ask yourself whenever something tries to enter your life? 

Another example is this: I know I need to call the dentist, but it seems difficult, I don’t want to. So I put it on the to-do list and I keep putting it off. It can wait, I think. Instead, I need to do those calls right away, the first time I think about it. 

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Well. Enough now. Our personal story is, we actually do feel change happens, and we feel that something new is going on in our family, knowing what it means to us to have a ready and organized functional setup, including a relevant and manageable to-do list. And I can highly recommend getting things done, never giving up, working with the mindset down to the level of the values, minimizing and simplifying, until it actually feels good.  

Travel blogging – winter in Catalonia

Sunrises. We wake up in the darkness nowadays, and the sun rises slowly and beautifully, while we lie in bed, reading, writing, working. The surface of the bus is about 30% windows, and it is wonderful to enjoy the details of a sunrise from all directions, without leaving the bed. Yay. But life. 

Language studies. I have come to the point, where I read a novel in Spanish now, “El Amante Janponés” by Isabel Allende. I did not make it become fluent in six months, but it is a great adventure still to learn Spanish. I am at an interesting level in the learning of the language. When I just read the text, I understand most even when I don’t translate to English or danish. It feels weird, and sometimes I wonder, what it actually means to understand another language and if I am actually learning. I am schooled, I am used to grammar and vocabulary lists and tests and translations – I never learned a language naturally before. It is fascinating. Like developing basic understanding again maybe. The book is by the way very good. Observing. Peaceful. Appealing. 

The children too are studying language, mostly by Duolingo, which I must say, is a great vocabulary builder. They work, too, at the project here, and have to speak English and Spanish, while doing so. Learning a language is a huge task, and we shall never give up. 

Friendships. Pemi and Yasmina returned from Africa, and we spend a few joyful hours under the fig tree, all tired and kind of cold, but happy to see each other again. Storm had grown so much those two months, it was obvious to them, which is always a bit funny when teens grow so fast.

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We laughed and exchanged stories, as friends do – like-minded travel spirits sharing stories, plans, minds. All of the other friendships just keep evolving, under the fig tree, around the work with the animals, at the school, around the bus. We are forever grateful for the community, we have met here, and the warmth everyone shares with us. 

Work. Hours and hours of organizing and cleaning, and trip after trip with trash and donations. It is getting better, and we shall never give up. 

Getting things done

I have studied countless systems of optimizing and study techniques and work, about to-do lists, success, and effectiveness. I have Evernote, calendar, to-do lists, and the works. I have listened to motivational speakers and tried both this and that. 

In my Great Experience, I find, the only thing actually making a difference, is deciding on what is important and then do it. Without hesitation. Just go do the stuff, you know is important. The inner work of values, the WHY are we doing this, is the most important work of all, and once that is done, all the planning and organizing is more or less just a waste of time. From then on, it is about doing it. 

Once you decide to make a difference, go do it. It is a question of actually spending TIME doing this stuff. Making plans and lists and systems all take time, and it is not planning we are in need of, it is doing.

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Write down the to-do list, in order to get everything out of your head, keep good and organized shopping lists, so you do not have to go a hundred times to the same shops, but finally: Go DO the work. 

And keep going. Never give up. 

While working on this, we have to set aside time for it. We can not be at the beach too much, not hang in the sun, not create huge cooking projects. We work on it and we keep working. It is the only hack there is. 

Get started in the morning, choose one thing of great importance, and start working on it. Let go of other ambitions, and change will start happening. 

May the sun shine on you.

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Cecilie Conrad

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