Everyone’s talking about 2011 right now. I’m not feeling it.

There were some lovely moments, but overall 2011 was a hard year. I’d like 2012 to be easier. That is of course not entirely subject to my control, but I’m gonna do what I can to facilitate rather than complicate.

So cheers, all. Here are a few things I’ve been learning about making things easier. As usual, all this advice is also advice for myself.

It’s easier to cook at home when you have some basic meal templates. In our house, this typically means one-dish meals with protein + greens + either barley or brown rice. Infinite variations are possible. We mostly use the wok to make them. Another dinner template: roasting vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper. Put them in the oven and go away. They become delicious. The breakfast template is steel-cut oats with berries and apples. Soak the oats the night before and pre-cook them some in the microwave and it won’t take a lot of time in the morning.

It’s easier to get up and go to the gym when you pack your bag the night before. If you know it’s hard for you to get up when the alarm goes off, set it earlier and let yourself press snooze a few times or listen a while to the radio.

It’s easier to have an idea how you’re doing with exercise if you track your workouts. I like to write them down in a nerdy little notebook. I’m aware that there are any number of apps for that, but I appreciate the tactile quality of making a hash mark when I finish a circuit, getting some sweat on the page, seeing blank pages fill with day after day of activity. But if an app works for you, then app up.

It’s easier to keep your house the way you want it if you make it harder to mess up. I now have a number of items of nice wooden furniture, the surfaces of which I’d prefer to remain unmarred. But I’d also like to avoid shrieking fussily at visiting friends, so I’ve been deploying both expected (coasters, placemats, tablecloths) and less expected (taped-down butcher paper) methods to ensure the continued viability of both the furniture and my status as a pleasant host.

It’s easier to write if you schedule regular times to do it. Deploy Freedom. Make writing dates. Make deadlines, your own if you don’t have any that are externally imposed.

It’s easier not to beat yourself up. Beating yourself up takes a lot of energy. If you’re upset that you’re doing something you feel like you shouldn’t be doing, or not doing something you feel like you should be, take a moment to think about why you’re so inclined or disinclined. Are you trying to prove something? To yourself or someone else? It’s okay to want to prove something, but if the proof is in the pudding aka the results, do everything you can to make sure that pudding is delicious. If the pudding isn’t tasty, vary the recipe.

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  • Claire Hennessy
    January 3, 2012 at 7:35 am

    I am so loving something that looks towards 2012 instead of gushing over 2011. Just sayin’. And I like this advice, a lot. Hope it’s a good year for you.

  • Jeff Parker
    January 3, 2012 at 7:44 am

    I agree, this is the best blog post of the new year so far! Wow, that sounded just like spam trying to get through your filter, sorry Sara. Congratulations on implementing these good practices, that’s mad wisdoms.

  • Sara Z
    January 3, 2012 at 7:58 am

    This is all so wise.
    I concur re 2011.
    One of the good things? Getting to see you in Portland.
    And ya look beautiful.

  • Sara
    January 4, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    Thanks, friends! I always have a little bit of “Well who am I to give advice” anxiety before putting up advice-y posts, but then I remember how much I tend to like it when other people write them.