Anna Burgess Yang

Tinkering With Ideas #030: New year, small habits

Published 3 months ago • 2 min read

Hi friend 👋 -

Happy Wednesday and Happy New Year. I'm in full-blown "recovery mode" after the holidays. If, in December, you said a lot of things like, "that feels like a problem for 2024 me" you're probably in catch-up mode at this point. I feel that. I hope you're able to ease into the new year as much as possible.

1) Reflection:

"How do you measure a year?" - a line from RENT, one of my favorite musicals.

But maybe the answer is just... don't. If you don't know the song, it goes on to suggest that a year might be measured in daylights, miles, or cups of coffee. Those all sound pretty great to me, unless coffee is symptomatic of stress or overwork.

Sure, I looked at my year-end financial statement. But did that reflect how I really felt about the year? Not exactly. The year is more than numbers and achievements.

Still, I usually take some time to think back over the prior 365 days. If you reflected on the prior year (as I often do), I hope that you can take what you need and leave the rest behind.

2) Product:

I'm not a fan of big New Year's resolutions. I think they're often unattainable and there are so many external forces that we can't control.

But I'm a big fan of small habits that work toward a bigger goal. I often don't set a firm date for a big goal, but will set a target (usually a month) for building a small habit.

I've tried several different habit-forming apps and my current favorite is Streaks. It's really easy to set up habits and "check them off" every day. I like the app so much that it's landed a coveted space on my home screen on my phone.

3) Tip:

If you're a creative person who also needs to expend creative energy for work, you may feel like you have nothing left for your own projects. It's really hard, I know. I have an endless list of things I'd love to do and a finite amount of time (since I also have kids and like naps).

What I'd encourage you to do differently this year is carve out time in your week for your creative work, and fiercely guard that time. For me, it's mornings. I wake up before everyone else and give my best, most productive time to my own projects — before I do any client work or spend time with my family.

Maybe, for you, that's an hour in the evening or a Saturday afternoon. But whatever you decide, find ways to protect that time. You'll find that it quickly becomes a habit and it becomes easier to say "no" to things that threaten to interrupt that time.

That's it for this issue of Tinkering! See you again in two weeks.


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Want more ideas?

A new year can often mean fresh starts. My friends Olivia and Jenny formed the Fresh Starts Registry to help people through difficult transitions in their lives. They have a ton of resources and a beautiful podcast. Check out Fresh Starts Registry here.

If "growth" is on your radar for 2024, you may want to check out this article: Grow With Purpose: The Path Between Audience and Income.

Onboarding new clients can be tedious work. Here's a tutorial for automatically creating folders in Google Drive.

If you're enjoying this newsletter, please forward it to a friend. Sharing is caring. Or you can buy me a coffee and fuel my writing habit.

Anna Burgess Yang

Writer. Productivity geek. Always tinkering.

I share tips, tools, and resources to make your daily life a bit easier.

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