Happiness Project April Resolutions: Stop Becoming a Useless Sloth After 4:00 p.m.

Like Gretchen Rubin, I am beginning my Happiness Project with a month dedicated to Energy. She believed if she could increase her daily energy, the following months of resolutions would be easier to implement and uphold. Likewise!

I’ve been struggling with low energy since I started my first full-time job post-grad. For the first few months, I figured it was normal. An adjustment to a new lifestyle. A side effect of learning a lot, being “on” for most of the day and trying to make a great impression.

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But, now, a year later… something feels off. I’ve become useless after 4:00 p.m. Chores, personal projects and time with loved ones slip further away as the couch swallows me whole any chance it gets. In the words of Arya Stark, “That’s not me.” I always have a long list of things I want to do and gain much joy from doing them. This depressive, low-energy state has been a major source of unhappiness and is perhaps what truly pushed me to begin the project in the first place.

In my excitement to begin my Happiness Project, I went a little overboard with my resolutions this month. For reference, Rubin had 8 energy resolutions in January. I narrowed mine down to… 18 (turns out writing a few blog posts about perfectionism, overwhelm, etc., did not make all of that go away & I might actually have to put in some work on those things myself. Weird!)

To start defining my April plan, I thought deeply about my daily patterns and what could be draining my energy. I outlined three tenants to pull ideas for my resolutions from. Each resolution will help me in one of these categories:

  • Decrease my day-to-day mental load by decluttering and catching up on to-do’s I’ve let pile up, then optimizing and systemizing to prevent becoming overwhelmed with tasks in the future

  • Feel more energetic by focusing on task at hand (not task switching) and giving my attention to what’s most important

  • Sustained daily energy through healthy mind & body practices

Once I figured out what I thought was making me feel so drained- constant mental load, being unfocused and not treating my mind and body the best (sugar addiction!!! Help!)- I did some brainstorming and researching to come up with actionable ideas. 

To decrease my day-to-day mental load & feel caught up, then create habits to stay caught up, I resolve to:

  • Clean out technology as I’m using it, daily. I get really overwhelmed by neverending files, emails, etc. If things stay cleared, I don’t need to put “clean out my inbox” on my to-do list.

  • Organize photos on phone during downtime, daily. Instead of scrolling mindlessly through my phone during random periods with nothing to do, I’ll work on deleting photos I don’t need & categorizing what I want to keep.

  • Start decluttering (loosely following the konmari method), choosing an area to declutter weekly

  • Aim to get my overflowing to-do list to 0 items

  • Follow a time-block routine I structured for myself, daily

  • Follow the doggy routine I made, daily (essentially get them exercise daily, practice commands daily, teach new commands over the weekend)

To increase energy by FOCUSING on what matters, I resolve to:

  • Commit to a “Decide now. Do it now.” mentality, daily (indecision + endless research is very draining!)

  • Follow a 7 minute social media/internet browsing rule I read about on Zen Habits

  • Use the pomodoro technique daily, always setting an intention for working periods and breaks

  • Focus on doing ONE thing at a time and finishing that thing if able

  • Streamline my goals for 2019

  • Create a vision board in my office

To sustain my daily energy via healthy habits, I resolve to:

  • Aim to eat mostly whole foods, limiting added sugar and processed snacks

  • Drink at least 70 oz. of water daily

  • Walk 10,000 steps daily

  • Meditate daily

  • Follow my bedtime routine

  • Workout 4 times per week

So this is… A LOT. It makes me chuckle. You see, I spent most of 2018 creating daily goals for myself each month and becoming increasingly frustrated when I couldn’t meet every single one of them every single day. Have I mentioned I tend to overwhelm myself? 

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I’m reminding myself over and over again not to aim for 100% – it’s not possible and would drive me crazy. I’m staying open, approaching this month of resolutions with an experimental mindset, eager to see what works and what maybe doesn’t make a difference at all. 

I feel more energetic already! (She said before waking up April 1st and trying to figure out how the heck to fit all of these changes into a single day…  )

Who else feels they struggle with low energy? Is there anything you know makes you more energetic, or keeps your energy levels constant? Are there any small changes you’ve implemented in your daily life that have made a positive impact? (Other than a constant IV of coffee) I’d love to hear!