Update: Daily Essentials for Happiness ~ Self-Employment Struggles

(If you read this title and are already confused – then hop on over to the post I wrote a couple weeks ago about my Daily Essentials for Happiness before reading this one!)

It’s been almost 3 weeks since I announced that I was going to start utilizing a spreadsheet compiled of my “Daily Essentials for Happiness” to keep me on track each day. So I figured that it was about time to do a little update and let you all know how it is going!!

First of all – I can definitely say that overall I feel like I’m a more balanced and happy person since I started to implement these rules!! 🙂 I especially think the movement/stretching/meditating each day has kept me from getting angry so easily and snapping at James like I used to. It turns out I’m way more pleasant when I’ve burned off a little energy instead of just sitting in front of a computer all day… Shocking, I know! But I have to give full disclosure here – and that is that I’ve been kind of bad about remembering to meditate. I try to do it before I go to bed – which maybe I do… but I’m not positive because I fall asleep pretty quickly after starting my breathing exercises. haha. I would prefer to do it in the morning so I start the day giving thanks and breathing deeply – but Chloe makes that a little hard! She would prefer I start my day being jarred awake by her barking at me from our bedroom doorway to take her outside. This dog has no patience. When she is ready for me to be up and taking her out – SHE. IS. READY. It’s actually insanely frustrating because she will continue to bark at me as I get dressed, put on shoes, a coat and get ready to take her out. I’m all like… “Look dog – I’m getting ready to take you out and I literally just woke up seconds ago! Let’s take a chill pill here!”

Okay – sorry I got way off on a tangent there… haha. Basically I’m hoping to do the meditating in the morning – but I guess that would require I set an alarm to wake up before Chloe to make that happen. We’ll see if I can mange that… (But it must not disrupt Rule #1. Get 8 hours of sleep each night!)

Moving down the list – I can openly admit that I’ve been kind of bad about remembering #5 (checking my email only 3x a day for no more than 30 minutes each). I know I’m not spending even close to 1.5 hours on email each day – which is great – but I am still checking it sporadically through the day. Not as much as I used to – but I’m still not where I need to be for it! I’m working on this one – but it is a bit of a struggle some days.

I’m proud to say, however, that I have been rocking at numbers 6, 7, 8, 9, & 10!!! Yeah!!! And during my focused time I’m really staying on task and being so much more productive than I used to be! I am so excited about this – especially for busy season – because I think I will be so much happier and sane! 🙂

Also – one of the main things I’ve realized in doing the spreadsheet each day and actually timing myself for each activity (using the stopwatch feature on my phone) – is that I am much more aware of where my time is going. And I’m much more focused about my time overall, because I know if I’m checking email and jump over to social media then I have to hit stop on the timer, log my time, and restart the timer for a new category… so I do way less of that hopping around and multi-tasking than I used to!! I also spend less time on social media in general because I know I’m being timed and I don’t want to waste the time I have allotted for it scanning through people I don’t know well or particularly care about (sorry to be blunt). Instead, I streamlined my news feed on Facebook so I see those closest to me – my family and long time friends – so I can keep up with what they’re doing! I’m using it more as an upkeep to my real life relationships and a supplement for those I’m unable to see as often as I would like – instead of using it as a tool for comparison and making me feel bad about myself (which I totally used to do)! And that difference alone has been amazing!!!

Another thing I’ve really noticed is that I used to feel tremendous GUILT when I was doing anything other than working throughout the day (even stuff like walking Chloe & working out!). And when I feel guilt, I start to slack and procrastinate – because I’m feeling negative and bad. And then I get nothing done, and then I feel worse, and the guilt continues because I’m still not getting anything done, and it was this terribly ugly circle of guilt and being unproductive! But with the new rules and spreadsheet – I feel like I’m actually being productive when I’m taking Chloe for a walk (yay minutes towards my movement category!) – and as a result I come back feeling really good about how my day is going, log my minutes, and move on to getting work done! It is amazing! I no longer have guilt about doing things that I need to do for my mental and physical well-being, and I no longer have guilt about not working at night because it is a rule that I have to be done with work by 7! 🙂 It is really kind of crazy how the human brain works… but basically (at least for me) positive reinforcement is the key to productivity. So if I feel like I’m doing well and following these steps each day (even if it is just moving, stretching, meditating, and eating lunch away from my desk) – that translates into doing well with my focused work hours as well because I’m feeling good about everything else! Super weird, but true!

And last but not least, is my cell phone/social media stuff at night. I think I’ve been very good at not getting on my phone in bed. It actually has been amazing if I say so myself! James and I used to both get on our phones and I would actually fall asleep facing the wall (away from James) while surfing social media on my phone! Seriously. So sad. Now, we actually lay in bed and chat at night, and I fall asleep with my head on his chest. It. Has. Been. Wonderful.

Regarding the no social media during our time together at night – at first I was really good about this! James and I were in a really good place where we were present with one another and had such wonderful quality time together at night. He mentioned that he felt closer to me than he had in a really long time because I wasn’t constantly having my mind wander to other things going on in Facebook/Twitter world, and was instead just focused on our conversations and time together. In general I’d say it has been great, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that occasionally over the last 4-5 days I’ve not been as good about this. It started when I photographed an engagement session Thursday and posted a sneak peek on Facebook… and then I kept going on my phone to check and see if people were liking the photos and if the bride & groom had seen them yet. It is SO SILLY (but I don’t think I’m alone here)… I find myself going onto social media for some sort of validation. Even if I really love a photo I took – I never feel like it really is worth anything or actually any good until other people comment on it and tell me so. Call it Insecure Artist Syndrome (or whatever you want)… but I need to get over it – especially if it is at night when I’m not supposed to be on social media! I need to seek my own joy & confidence through helping others, making a difference in people’s lives, and spreading positivity with those I interact with in my real life – instead of how many likes something I post gets on Facebook, or how many *hearts* a photo gets on Instagram. When my life has come to an end – will any of those things matter? Do they even matter now?

So, as you see – some of the rules are going really well!! And in general I would say this has been a huge WIN for my happiness and productivity… but as always – I still have work to do (but I don’t think that will ever go away)!! Overall I am really proud of the changes I’ve made and how it has positively affected not only me, but my relationship with James and others in my life. It is a growing process – as life always is!! And I’m looking forward to things continuing to improve from here!!! 🙂


And because no post is complete without photos – Here are a couple of Chloe and I spending some quiet time together for a midday work break to relax/meditate… 🙂


Have any of you guys implemented your own Daily Essentials for Happiness since reading my first post? If so – I’d love to hear how it is going!!!


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Christy & James are Chicago based but happily travel anywhere in the world that beautiful love stories take them!