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September 2011 Review: Creating a Digital Sanctuary

Yesterday, I arrived at my hot yoga class early because I wanted to lay on my mat, bask in the heat, and review the month of September. I bring my journal everywhere and frequently have my best ideas before my daily yoga class begins. As I was laying on my mat I reviewed my journal notes and wrote down themes that emerged during the month of September.

I do monthly reviews for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, I have a very bad memory. My memory issues are part of the reason I write and review what I’ve done each month. Second, my monthly reviews hold me accountable to personal goals and by reflecting on what I’ve done (and haven’t done), I’m able to move forward. Third, the reviews remind me to start every project with a beginner’s mind.

Focus is my overarching theme for the year and every month I zoom in on specific themes. The month of September was dedicated to . . .

  • Writing. I’ve been experimenting with posting more frequently to the blog. I wanted to see if my writing would improve by hitting the publish button more often and I feel like it has. It’s been fun and as long as the quality of my writing is good then I’ll continue to publish frequently.
  • Photography. I recently started The Photo Essay Project with Bindu Wiles and I’m having a blast! I don’t have an iPhone, but I’m taking all my pictures with my iPod Touch. If she offers the course again, you should check it out. Follow my progress here.

I’m excited about the month of October!

Previewing October

October’s focus is organization.

We’re moving into the little house in a few weeks, I’m continuing my classes, and working hard on my manuscript. I feel like the book is starting to come together but I have research, stories, and edits to make. These projects require an attention to detail and that means I need to stay organized.

Do you do monthly reviews? I’d love to hear about your process in the comments section.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Frank October 1, 2011, 8:54 am

    I generally don’t do this sort of thing, but I think I might just start. Now that I’m out of school for the time being, I need to bring a tighter focus to what I’m doing, instead of just sitting around not accomplishing anything. How would you recommend starting to plan this sort of thing out?

  • Tyler Tervooren October 1, 2011, 10:43 am

    Doing a monthly review ranks in the top 5 “best decisions I’ve ever made” categories. Really helps identify what’s important/what’s fluff in my life.

    Keep up the great work, Tammy. That book’s going to be done before you know it!

  • Kate October 1, 2011, 11:50 am

    I’m enjoying your blog! I journal on loose-leaf pages that eventually go into three-ring binders. So I review things about once a month, when they move from the pile into the journal. What’s coming up for me now is whether I want to follow your lead and condense the old journals (from about the last decade now) or keep it all. I’m considering this. I’m not terribly space constrained, but I’m a big fan of decluttering. I’m also trying to figure out whether I want to de-segregate my work life from my personal life in my journals, since I tend to keep them very separate. But I’m needing to re-evaluate some things. Thanks for the journaling questions and inspirations!

  • Sandy October 1, 2011, 12:44 pm

    I don’t do a reflection of the month — but I do something similar.

    At the beginning of each year I have a ritual where I sit down and randomly toss out 12 words that I would like to focus upon. I take those 12 words and put them on little slips of paper. Then I fold up the paper and put them in a pretty jar on my dressing table. On the first day of every month I randomly pull a slip of paper out of the jar and tape it to my mirror where I will see it every day.

    I’ve had words up this year like love, positive, and create. This month’s word, just pulled this morning, is forgive. (This will be a hard month!) It’s the word I choose to focus upon — to meditate upon — when I”m getting ready in the morning. Sometimes the answers are obvious (like this month. Obvious doesn’t equate to easy however.) Some months like “create” aren’t as obvious. They force you to think and extrapolate and consider. Create items? Create relationships? Create opportunity? I see things in different ways once I’ve had time to think about them. What seems so obvious sometimes isn’t.

    Anyway, that’s what I do. I look forward to the first of every month to see what the word will be. Even though I wrote the words down, by this time of the year I really don’t remember what they were but they certainly are something I need to work on!

    • Jen October 2, 2011, 4:58 am

      Reviews never really worked for me, but I love this idea of focusing on one word a month. Thanks for the idea Sandy.

      Tammy I’ve been subscribed to you for about a month now and really enjoy your site. Glad to know that monthly reviews work well for someone!

    • Tammy Strobel October 3, 2011, 7:49 am

      @Sandy – I LOVE this idea. Thanks for sharing. I might start doing something like this too. Super fun and insightful.

  • Megyn @ Minimalist Mommi October 1, 2011, 1:30 pm

    I like to review, but in extreme moderation (oxymoronic?). For me, my memory it too detailed, and I’m too harsh a critic, so if I do an analysis, it can set me off in the wrong direction. I’m having to learn to be less of a critic and more of a friend, which means backing off on the analytics (despite my love for them). I often find it funny how one person’s area needing improvement can be leading to the demise of another. If only we could feed off each other to balance ourselves out 🙂

  • Megan Swicegood October 1, 2011, 2:24 pm

    I’ve never done a monthly review, but I really like the idea. I feel like it could help me focus and improve my writing. It seems like there would be less verbal diarrhea and more meaningful and thoughtful content if I did a monthly review or even tried to think about an over all theme or direction for the month ahead. I’m curious to see how you enjoy it and how it works for you in the coming months.

  • Mike | Homeless On Wheels October 2, 2011, 11:56 am

    I think the monthly review is nice not only for you, but for readers to get a second chance to go back and read something they might have missed.

    As for the more frequent writing, I’ve noticed that. Actually, it is my perception that you publish in spurts, going a week or so with nothing, and then suddenly several articles within a few days. I’ve contemplated my own writing style and (rather loose) publishing schedule and wondered if I might not do better with more frequent but shorter posts.

    • Tammy Strobel October 3, 2011, 7:52 am

      @Mike – Prior to my July sabbatical I was publishing about once a week and fretted over every word in each article. I want my posts to be good, but I also felt like I was losing the fun in blogging. Publishing shorter posts has been great and I like having a lose publishing scheduled too. I’m not feeling so constrained anymore. Putting less pressure on myself has been a good thing. 🙂

  • Katie October 2, 2011, 1:43 pm

    Hey Tammy, I love reading your writing and following your inspiring projects on your blog. The new look is great.
    I am constantly making to-do lists to keep me focused; get my ideas out of my head and onto paper; and to move forward productively (hopefully!). I share pretty much most of them on my blog. I’m very pleased with my latest one: 25 Before I’m 25 (http://jesuisunemonstre.blogspot.com/p/to-do-list.html)
    I think October’s goal for me is to organise and minimalise. I too will be moving into a tiny house – firstly the van that my boyfriend and I converted two years ago (have a peek here if you’d like, I just wish I’d documented it a bit better! But you get the idea http://jesuisunemonstre.blogspot.com/2010/08/how-to-build-van.html) We’re driving up to the French Alps, where we’ll then move into a very tiny flat, and let Toby’s nephew live in the van so he has his own space.
    I’m really excited to see how you like your Tiny House, it’s such a great thing when you realise you DON’T NEED MUCH STUFF! 🙂 But I am very bad at having a little amount of stuff, so wish me luck with all my saving and sorting!
    Keep up the great work, Rowdy Kittens is so brilliant. 🙂
    Katie. xxx

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