30-Day Challenge - February 2022

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Behnam Norouzi

In January, I published my first 30 day challenge and it was a huge success. In that post I outlined the 3 core criteria for a good challenge: short, aligned, and simple. I also noted that a primary function of my first few challenges will be reducing and removing noise from my systems. Importantly, I called out that part of the objective of 30 day challenges - and of my overarching daily, weekly, monthly and quarterly review process - is intended to rebuild trust and practice diligence.

For February, I pushed myself to expand beyond the digital realm into the physical realm and clean up my space. Here is how that went.

February 30 day challenge a qualified success + valuable learnings

For whatever reason, it's easier for me to stay organized in my digital world than in my physical world. I was curious to see if I could manage my clutter entropy with an explicit goal.

In February, I tracked 24 of the 28 days of the month. Of those, I decluttered my living space 12 of those days for a success rate of 50%. That's probably generous because the 4 days I didn't track were mostly because I was feeling stretched thin and it's likely safe to assume I didn't clean those days. I mark my overall daily success rate at 43% (12/28). Curiously, my residual awareness on digital declutter landed higher at 15 total days.

I learned a couple important lessons along the way:

  • Physical clutter correlates with mental / energetic clutter - When I'm feeling pulled in many directions or stretched thin on time, I cut corners one micro-decisions (i.e. putting something back in a drawer after use) that quickly add up to a cluttered space. I can address that by focusing on the moment of micro-decision or reducing the amount of activities / commitments to have more space in my awareness for cleaning.
  • I enjoy, but don't need, a clean space - For better or worse, I can ignore my surroundings and focus on my work for days or weeks on end. Physical clutter does not weigh on me with the same intensity that digital clutter does. That said, when my space is messy I find myself smiling less. This is most notable when I first enter my space and it either elicits a smile or a disapproving glance.
  • Parabola of cleaning effort - When I'm full of energy, often in the morning, I can get a lot of cleaning done relatively quickly. When I'm feeling low, cleaning can take forever. I most enjoy pairing cleaning activities with catching up with family or friends, but that doesn't always align on timing.
  • Little things done frequently compound - The inverse of the micro-decisions, when I consistently keep a clean space with little things, there appears to be a momentum generated. When I notice things are clean, and enjoy that quality, I'm more likely to do the micro-move that keeps things clean. Oftentimes this is really small, simple stuff like washing dishes before bed.
  • No aspect of cleaning (beyond the outcome) appeals to me - Perhaps my biggest lesson is that I'm relatively inefficient at cleaning and it brings me no joy. When I have the resources to outsource this household responsibility, it'll be top of my list.

Beyond the small cleaning tasks, this challenge also prompted me to post my first items on Freecycle and reorganize my space to be more spacious and welcoming. Both of these were huge wins.

Overall, even though I was far from 100% compliance, I found this challenge meaningful and productive.

March 2022 challenge = hip opening

For March, I'd like to switch things up and focus on stretching. I've always wanted to be more flexible and, even when I was active with my yoga practice, I was always underwhelmed with my hip flexibility.

This will be an assisted challenge via Yoga Body's 21 day hip opening challenge.

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