30-Day Challenge - January 2022

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Kiy Turk

My illustrious cohort mate Pengpeng has been doing 30-day challenges. Simple enough - try something new for 30 days and see what happens.

The stories of what she's been able to do, and where she's fallen flat, are very entertaining. One month she generated no trash for 30 days. For another month she did random acts of kindness each day for 30 days. Inspired by her example, I'm trying out 30-day challenges for Q1 this year to see if they fit for me.

I've added a few more design constraints:

  • Short (takes <10 min / day) - I've got too much going on as is, so this needs to be simple and accessible
  • Aligned (maps to annual planning) - I'm prone to the shiny object syndrome, so each challenge I select must have a thick bold line to an exist an existing project or aspiration for 2022
  • Simple (can explain in <10 words) - I can explain my daily challenge to an elder in 1 sentence and they understand.

Lastly, the biggest reason that I resonated with the concept of the 30-day challenge is to rebuild trust in my capacity in a bite-size way. My word for 2022 is diligence and I'm testing these challenges as an awesome way to practice diligence.

Jan 2022 challenge = digital declutter

A big lesson I learned last year was that I'm overloaded with too many projects and information streams. I've committed the first quarter of this year to pause or cancel lingering projects. This reduces distraction and the psychic burden of open loops.

So in January, I decided to take 5-10 min every day to decrease my digital clutter. Think the equivalent of clearing and organizing my junk drawer.

Specifically, on any given day I focused a few minutes on the following things:

  • Various email inboxes down to 0
  • Personal gmail
  • Work 1 dedicated inbox
  • Work 2 dedicated inbox
  • Work 3 dedicated inbox
  • ThrivingHenry inbox
  • School inbox
  • Centralize and allocate personal to dos
  • Organize personal google drive
  • Clean up and archive passwords
  • Deep archive of old projects / folders

Even making that list gives me a slight sense of anxious energy. I've been digitally shoving things in my closet for years and it's time to diligently clean up my mess.

January 30 day challenge outcome is unequivocal success

I'm awful at digital clutter. To set the scene, at the beginning of the month I had ~5000 emails in my personal inbox alone. And that's just 1 of 5 inboxes (though the others get much less spam)! There was a strong sense of the insurmountable and I got a pang of "this sucks" disincentive every time I looked at my email. Plus, there were a handful of emails that I'd been avoiding for months (*ahem* maybe years ...) that were buried in the muck.

I chose this as my first challenge for a few reasons:

  • Move the insurmountable mountain one grain at a time
  • Give myself permission to do any small thing to move forward
  • Generate momentum
  • Overcome the inertia hurdle
  • Lift the negative association with my email / digital workspace
  • Decrease distraction and psychic weight

And, across the board, it was an overwhelming success! I couldn't be happier with how it all turned out.

I successfully digitally decluttered 87% (26 of 30) days. In that time, I was able to:

  • Get personal email down to inbox 0 (holy shamoly!! woo hoo!!)
  • Get school email down to inbox 0
  • Close Work 3 project, change & archive all passwords, and close outstanding accounts
  • Centralize and assign most (not all) of my to-dos
  • Clean up my desktop and downloads

There is certainly plenty more to do, but this is a monumental leap forward. I could not have imagined that just a handful of minutes a day could achieve so much.

I won't make it a top priority, but I'll keep the ball rolling on digitally decluttering a few times per week moving forward.

Feb 2022 challenge = physical declutter

My digital workspace was decidedly worse than my physical space, so I started there. Now it's time for me to transition to the physical space. If I organize and get rid of 20-30 different things in my physical space, I'll be quite the happy clam!


So far, I'm loving this 30-day challenge workflow. I'll check back after Feb to reflect on this next micro-push.

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