Today I’m drawing together the main things I’ve learned from Jump Start January. It’s been a challenging and interesting four weeks, and I’m really glad I got stuck in and gave it a go.
Firstly, I’ve learned that I have massive resistance to New Year resolutions: they go on forever, each one needs a whole set of habits making and time blocks carved out, and generally it’s quite overwhelming. Having a theme that lasts for just one week is much, much easier. It’s only a week, and if you don’t like it much then it’s over soon enough.
Doing a different type of task each day within that theme also prevents monotony/repetition, another aspect that puts me off resolutions. I particularly liked having something new to try each day during Tenner Week, so I could schedule in some fun stuff along with the chores. The next Tenner Week I do will have daily tasks in it, definitely.
Resolutions often run along the lines of ‘sort out my finances for good’ but again that’s daunting to the point of being terrifying. It’s been great to pick a mixture of priority tasks and a few quick wins, and during personal finance week I easily got everything done that needed to be done.
Starting just the one manageable habit – keeping a spending diary – is going to help me do my business expenses much more easily, so setting this habit up has quite obvious positive results. Otherwise, I’m glad I didn’t set up too many ongoing tasks, as once again I might have felt overwhelmed.
The mix of tasks is important. Some need to be speedy, especially best fitted into days when you know you’re going to be busy. One big lesson I’ve learned is to factor in travel times. I’ve also found out that it’s best to keep tasks that go on longer than one hour to the weekends only, when I have more free time.
Having several short tasks per week also makes it possible to pack everything into one day (or even a half day). This is ideal for me because it allows a bit of a catch-up if I get behind on anything. If I couldn’t make up the time then I might ‘fall off the wagon’ or start thinking that the whole thing was ruined so I might as well stop making an effort. Not so with a catch-up. It’s ideal if you work irregular hours, have lots of other commitments, have to travel a lot for work, or even sabotage yourself with unhelpful organisational/timekeeping behaviour. I think the flexibility to choose whether do one thing per day or to bundle the tasks is essential.
There was also a real feeling of energy and of motivation which didn’t wane half-way though the month, unlike the usual pattern with traditional resolutions. Getting a few less-than-pleasant tasks out of the way was quite empowering, and I was frequently left with a feeling of ‘that wasn’t so bad – and glad I’m not putting it off any more’.
Jump Start may not ‘fix everything’ or perfect everything within a particular topic area during a seven-day period, but it certainly helps you to get a lot done. It’s enough time to make significant inroads to something, and it makes you feel like you’ve truly achieved your short term goals and/or got a worrying situation under control. It also serves to direct your attention towards other medium- and long-term goals.
Next January will be another Jump Start, that’s for sure. The month has also given me lots of other ideas for things to continue with, but I’ll leave that until tomorrow.
If you’ve been doing your own Jump Start January, did you notice anything else I might have missed out? Please leave a comment if you have.