Getting things done

getting-things-done

On Sundays, I write. About our life, our inner and outer journey, our reflections. Right now, the sun is rising above the horizon, the roosters are singing, the stove is running, and the kids are reading. Today, we are going out to bond with an American ex-pat family near Barcelona. Like-minded people in many ways. A favorite Sunday plan.

The Sunday writing has a double focus: I share our travel stories from the past week, including photo galleries and small details, and I share the inner journey: Our reflections, developments, experiences, and curiosity. It does become very personal, almost like a public diary. It is vulnerable and open. Yet, I just know this is the right thing to do.

The background of this text is known territory: Catalonia is our new home base, and we have been here a lot.

We might have left our country to travel the world, yet it seems to have a home base to travel from suits us better than free-flowing. Luckily, the “mon” in -Mon- la Bassa actually means “world” in Catalan. So, even when we are back at base camp, we are traveling the world.

In this text, I wonder what change means and what it takes to find and create something new. Can we actually change the things that keep coming back and move from the annoyances that seem to follow us through life?

Can we create real change?

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After the World School Summit and the Andalusia Road trip, we have set aside a month at home base. This time is dedicated to Getting Things Done. The ambition of being on top of everything is probably a bit too much to ask ourselves; we do know we will not make it 100%. The project also seems frustrating, as we tend to come back to it rather than winning.

Why do tasks and projects and stuff keep accumulating in our lives? Why was everything not fixed by moving into a bus and setting out to travel the world? Did nothing change? Is it not possible to learn something new so that life becomes simpler and to-do lists shorter? What does it take, and how do we do it?

The answers to these questions are multiple, from multiple levels. Mostly it is mindset.

On the practical level, we just do it. We begin at one end. Making the long lists, analyzing them so we can eliminate the unnecessary, and then we just begin With insurance cases, tax papers, loose hangers, fixing the motor, repairing clothes and furniture and windows, sorting stuff, organizing, cleaning, and upgrading.

We have done this many times in our life. Focused practical time to elevate the energy of our lives. There are two facts we need to embrace the practical life challenge:

Firstly, accept this is how it is: Life is practical and also has a natural pulse to it. Sometimes, we focus our energy on Getting Things Done, and at other times, we let go and let our spirits breathe. Both are necessary and equally important.

Secondly; we must accept that real change comes from changing mindsets and habits.

Mindset and habits

Now, I will admit it actually DID work to move into a bus and set off to travel the world. We now focus a month primarily on the practical level, but we do it in a wonderful context, and even though a veteran bus-based tiny home needs attention, and a life with three children does create lots of stuff to organize and update, AND being self-employed sometimes (often) actually is a LOT of work – it is manageable. We still run freely, we still live in a very small home, we CAN manage our to-do lists and projects, and we DO see the change in the amount of stuff we own and need to attend.

The physical frame of the tiny home simply minimizes the task, the amount of stuff, and the stressors. This really does work. And being on a constant adventure does focus our priorities: we just need and want to be ready and alert, focused in a simple yet functional setup, so we can say YES and go travel whenever we just know it is the right thing to do.

The art of letting go and letting in

We just sold our house in Denmark, and it does feel weird. It is obvious to us it catalyzes change, and we have improved our ability to get things done with no hesitation, no regrets, no trouble. It takes a lot of time to get through the lists, but after two weeks of work, we now start to feel the change.

Working with patterns of thought makes all the difference. If we are to actually win over the power of stuff and the long to-do lists, it is critical to understand the cognitions underlying the recurrent trouble and decide to change them.

Simply get in the habit of thinking in a new way.

Change your truth.

An example is this: When I minimize and decide to let go of something, I want to be responsible and not waste resources. For that reason, my first thought is: “This can still be used; how do I upcycle, or where do I relocate it?” 

Instead, I simply need to let go of it. Goodbye, a charity box, and out of my mind. To be responsible, I shall instead acquire less in the first place. Do we really need this is a very good question to ask yourself whenever something tries to enter your life.

Another example is this: I know I need to call the dentist, but it seems difficult, I don’t want to. So I put it on the to-do list, and I keep putting it off. It can wait, I think. Instead, I need to do those calls right away the first time I think about it.

Well. Enough now. Our personal story is that we actually do feel change happen, and we feel that something new is going on in our family, knowing what it means to us to have a ready and organized functional setup, including a relevant and manageable to-do list. And I can highly recommend getting things done, never giving up, working with the mindset down to the level of the values, minimizing and simplifying until it actually feels good.

Travel blogging – winter in Catalonia

Sunrises. We wake up in the darkness nowadays, and the sun rises slowly and beautifully while we lie in bed, reading, writing, and working. The surface of the bus is about 30% windows, and it is wonderful to enjoy the details of a sunrise from all directions without leaving the bed. Yay. Buslife.

Language studies. I have come to the point where I read a novel in Spanish now, “El Amante Janponés” by Isabel Allende. I did not make it become fluent in six months, but it is a great adventure still to learn Spanish. I am at an interesting level in the learning of the language. When I just read the text, I understand most even when I don’t translate to English or danish. It feels weird, and sometimes I wonder what it actually means to understand another language and if I am actually learning. I am schooled, and I am used to grammar and vocabulary lists and tests and translations – I never learned a language naturally before. It is fascinating. Like developing basic understanding again, maybe. The book is, by the way, very good. Observing. Peaceful. Appealing.

The children, too are studying language, mostly by Duolingo, which I must say, is a great vocabulary builder. They work, too, at the project here and have to speak English and Spanish while doing so. Learning a language is a huge task, and we shall never give up.

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Friendships: Sitting in the sun with friends. What else do you need? Letting go of all the plans and things to do when they show up to enjoy the moment with good people. Pemi and Yasmina returned from Africa, and we spent a few joyful hours under the fig tree, all tired and kind of cold but happy to see each other again. Storm had grown so much in those two months; it was obvious to them, which is always a bit funny when teens grow so fast.

We laughed and exchanged stories, as friends do – like-minded travel spirits sharing stories, plans, and minds. All of the other friendships just keep evolving: under the fig tree, around the work with the animals, at the school, around the bus. We are forever grateful for the community we have met here and the warmth everyone shares with us.

Work: Hours and hours of organizing, cleaning, and trip after trip with trash and donations. It is getting better, and we shall never give up.

Getting things done

I have studied countless systems of optimizing and study techniques and work, about to-do lists, success, and effectiveness. I have Evernote, a calendar, to-do lists, and the works. I have listened to motivational speakers and tried both this and that.

In my Great Experience, I find the only thing actually making a difference is deciding on what is important and then doing it. Without hesitation. Just go do the stuff you know is important. The inner work of values, the WHY are we doing this, is the most important work of all, and once that is done, all the planning and organizing is more or less just a waste of time. From then on, it is about doing it.

Once you decide to make a difference, go do it. It is a question of actually spending TIME doing this stuff. Making plans and lists and systems all take time, and it is not planning we are in need of; it is doing.

Write down the to-do list in order to get everything out of your head; keep good and organized shopping lists, so you do not have to go a hundred times to the same shops, but finally: Go DO the work.

And keep going. Never give up.

While working on this, we have to set aside time for it. We can not be at the beach too much, not hang in the sun, not create huge cooking projects. We work on it and we keep working. It is the only hack there is.

Get started in the morning, choose one thing of great importance, and start working on it. Let go of other ambitions, and change will start happening.

Peace and love

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Cecilie Conrad

It is my core value to share, be honest, and dare to be vulnerable. I am grateful you are reading my blog, and I would be even more grateful if you comment, send me an email, or otherwise engage. Thank you.

See images from the week:

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Interesting Location in Barcelona: This place is very special. It is in the middle of a very high-end shopping area with huge modern buildings and lots of expensive stores. The houses are almost ruins from the back, yet people live there and send out a very positive, chill vibe. Intriguing.

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Tacos stop at city walk: Walking big cities and making them ours is one of the great pleasures of slow traveling. Here, we are having tacos at our favorite place in Gracia, Barcelona.

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Many doves on one building: Walking through cities, it is in the detail we find the adventure. In this case the doves on this one building. Like they all liked the same corner of the square like they enjoyed the view, I don't know: It caught our attention, made us smile.

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Almost my height: My son is growing fast, almost my height, though he is only 13 years old.

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Plaza del diamante: Could someone please tell me the story about this sculpture? I am sure there is something interesting behind it.

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Organize: Traveling and working, I believe everyone, nomad or not, can relate to this problem of the cables and the tech gear. How to keep it organized and how to be able to find it when needed. After 18 months of full-time traveling, we gave in and bought several organizing bags to solve this problem. Oh, how we are happy! A very small investment but a huge relief.

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My Coffee: Living in small spaces makes it very easy to always do the dishes right away.

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The morning view: Next to the bus location, there is a beautiful Camino - a rural walk, and the mornings here are amazing. We enjoy all the details, all the different levels of light, and the plantation changing over the year.

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The vineyard: For a Dane, the vineyards will be exotic for many years; we enjoy following the work with them, the growth and the harvesting, and the changes over the year.

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Stay close: Our lifestyle is about living our life to the fullest and enjoying what is truly important to us. Staying close and staying together, sharing the little moments and the long lines of this life, is our adventure. Even when extremely focused on Getting Things Done, we never forget to stay present, grateful, and together.

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Market Places: Market days are always festive. So many impressions, so many people, sounds, and ideas flowing. We like to shop for a week, if possible in a larger market on Fridays. This particular one is the Vendrell market, our home base.

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Waffles!: We love to make vegan waffles. It takes forever, but it is worth spending an afternoon cooking and enjoying waffles.

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The travel dog Yuna: Yuna is happy anywhere. As long as we are together, as long as there is someone to hug and a soft spot to take a nap.

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Doing card tricks at a friend's house: The photo is not amazing, I shall admit that. But the idea of going out to have fun and spend time with friends is a good one, and this foto represents this idea: It is not rational, and the list of things to do stays just as long, but the quality of life is more than just Getting Things Done.



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