Life as an Experiment

You would think that with such a novel lifestyle as a traveler has, that it would be impossible to fall into the kind of day-after-day routines that one experiences living a stationary life. But that isn’t the case. Oh, the routine has more variables than one of a person living a stationary life, but it is still a routine.

Routines lead to efficiency, which is nice. But they also make you stop pondering if there might be a different, better way of doing things.

To ensure the routines I get into are helping me more than harming me, I added a sort of monthly review to my calendar a while back. At the end of every month I go over what I did that month and what worked well, and what didn’t. And then I adjust for the next month. My next one is coming up this week, so I thought I might as well blog about it.

A recent sunset in New Mexico

Longtime readers will know of my annual reviewΒ process that I blogged about early in the life of IO. I still do the annual review, and doing this smaller step every month has made it easier to do the big one at the end of the year.

For the monthly review I divide my life into three basic categories: work, personal, and travel. Everything I do falls into one of these categories, and there is often overlap between them. Your categories may well be different than mine.

I look back over my to-do calendar for the month of everything I had written down, whether it was finished or not. Day by day it’s hard to see patterns, but when you take the time to look at the month as a whole like this, patterns emerge. I look at my best days and think on what I did those days that worked so well for each category, and write out answers. I do the same for the worst days.

Usually by the time I get to this point, it’s quite clear to see what’s working well and what isn’t, and make the necessary adjustments for the next month. Occasionally I do need to rest on my answers for a day or two, and come back to it.

I had several neighbors over Thanksgiving

This is not a magic fix-it. How good of a month you have is also subject to internal factors, like overall mood for any given month, and external factors, like unexpected problems beyond your control. But it doesn’t take much time – maybe a half-hour to an hour a month – and I definitely have seen improvement in my life since I started having a monthly review. And maybe it’ll help you too.

Life is an experiment. We’re constantly trying new things and tiring of old ones. Constantly leaving behind who we were in favor of who we are. Bad things happen when we allow ourselves to stagnate. Having some sort of process like a monthly review in place, it makes working towards where (and who) you want to be much easier.

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Looking for more information on scheduling and life planning? Check out my book “The Little Guide To Dreaming Big“!

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23 Responses to Life as an Experiment

  1. TDT Fan November 28, 2017 at 3:03 pm #

    Deming cycle: Plan – Do – Check – Act

    This is what your article described and it is the scientific method contained in 4 words. If you’ve not encountered this previously, I hope you find it helpful to research and read more about W. Edwards Deming, Ph.D.

    Enjoying everything you’ve written lately on your decision to go to a tear-drop trailer (TDT Fan – get it?) and the changes that will mean to your approach to the travelling life. Safe travels as you head towards your speaking engagement at RTR in January!

    • TDT Fan November 28, 2017 at 3:06 pm #

      Following up – I’m now reminded that the title of your recent column on selecting the TDT in Denver was “Kaizen” so I suspect you already know some about Dr. Deming.

      • Becky November 29, 2017 at 5:07 pm #

        I haven’t read much of his stuff but yes I’m familiar with Dr. Deming. πŸ™‚

  2. Bob ide November 28, 2017 at 3:10 pm #

    I like your idea and going to give it a try. Thx for the suggestion

  3. Rob November 28, 2017 at 6:21 pm #

    An experiment, paperwork on schedule… My life is not like that but you seem to be enjoying yourself and that is what’s important.

  4. Rick & Brock the dog November 28, 2017 at 9:56 pm #

    I’ve read your blog from start to now. You have good insight. Ever thought of becoming a life coach? Anyway, really enjoy your travels, pictures and writing. I’m retiring next year. Just bought a new Escape 17B. So looking forward to seeing the desert again.

    • Becky November 29, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

      Congrats on your upcoming retirement and purchase Rick! Enjoy your Escape…..and your escape. πŸ˜‰

  5. MnDreamer November 29, 2017 at 3:51 am #

    Hi Becky-
    You are much more systematic than I think I could ever be. Maybe I need to get with the program, as it seems that this approach is working so well for you! What we do have in common, it seems, is the belief that without a learning curve, life can get dull, and it’s way too short to settle for that!
    I learn something most every time I read one of your posts– So, thank you for letting us in on your life!

    • Becky November 29, 2017 at 5:10 pm #

      I’ve found that having a system keeps my progress more steady, but like everything else I imagine some would find it helpful and some wouldn’t. πŸ™‚ You’re welcome Mn!

  6. Anne S November 29, 2017 at 7:46 am #

    Hi Becky!
    I actually do something similar to your annual goal-setting and review, but I have never taken it to the level you are describing here. What is the “to-do calendar” that you are reviewing each month?
    Beyond the method, I was very much taken by your title “Life as an Experiment.” It’s so very true, isn’t it?
    Thank so much for all you share with us!

    • Becky November 29, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

      I talk a lot more about this stuff in my book “The Little Guide to Dreaming Big” (http://www.interstellarorchard.com/the-little-guide-to-dreaming-big/) but basically it’s a collection of daily to-do lists where I write down the 2-4 most important tasks I want to get done for the day which I write up at the start of each week. Lately I’ve been using the free version of a scheduling software called Asana (https://app.asana.com/) to organize it, I use to just use an excel spreadsheet which worked but Asana makes it look prettier and neater, lol.

      Note that Asana was made to be used by a team of people working on projects together, but it’s function for a single person working alone too.

      • Anne S November 30, 2017 at 3:49 pm #

        Thanks, Becky!

  7. Terri November 29, 2017 at 8:32 am #

    So do you have a planner that you write your to-do list on, and then cross things off as you go, and then look at it every night or morning? Just curious.

    i could see where you would need routines even on the road. That’s one thing I keep going over in my mind – do I want to be stationary in a tiny house or have something like a class B (because of the cats) – both have their advantages and disadvantages, you know?
    Terri recently posted..Money: Why and How do I Spend It?My Profile

    • Becky November 29, 2017 at 5:18 pm #

      I’m using Asana right now, see the comment above. πŸ™‚

      I’m sure the right answer will come to you Terri!

      • Terri November 29, 2017 at 6:32 pm #

        God, I hope so soon!!!! If I had a vehicle to tow a tiny house and it was a super small one…. πŸ™‚

  8. Dawn November 29, 2017 at 8:39 am #

    I am not that organized, and in year two of retirement I don’t think I’m ready to try to be. But I do see that it could make life better in the long run.

    LOVE LOVE LOVE that photo of your home in NM. Perfect colors! Another advantage to being on the road….early morning light is different in different parts of the country. Thank you for sharing your life with us!
    Dawn recently posted..Money: Why and How do I Spend It?My Profile

  9. Barbara November 29, 2017 at 8:48 am #

    I have never commented but read you blog for over six months and do enjoy it. However, today’s message from you touched me deeply and I needed to respond. What a thoughtful way to go about living your life. We all could learn valuable lessons were we to do the same. Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Becky November 29, 2017 at 5:20 pm #

      You’re very welcome Barbara and I’m glad you decided to comment! πŸ™‚

  10. JimM November 29, 2017 at 10:13 am #

    Excellent advice.
    JimM recently posted..Back to Burns…My Profile

  11. Ellen November 29, 2017 at 3:47 pm #

    I love this post! It’s a great way to keep yourself accountable for your day to day life.

  12. Sherri Burris November 29, 2017 at 5:12 pm #

    I love the way you set up goals with a to-do calendar of each month and then review it. I’m starting a new business and want to make this a new adventure. I plan on using some of your ideas to organize and motivate me to keep moving forward You are right Life is an experiment! and the process is a journey. thanks for you ideas.

    • Becky November 29, 2017 at 5:21 pm #

      You’re so welcome Sherri! Best of luck with your new business!

  13. Becky November 29, 2017 at 5:23 pm #

    Thanks for sharing everyone and I’m glad you enjoyed this post. πŸ™‚

    If you’re wanting more info on scheduling and life planning, I talk a lot about this kind of stuff in my book “The Little Guide to Dreaming Big” http://www.interstellarorchard.com/the-little-guide-to-dreaming-big/.

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