A Habit That Gets You Out Of The Head And Straight Into The Heart

A.B. Wisely
4 min readFeb 27, 2024
Photo by Natalya Letunova.

Whenever I come across an even moderately valuable piece of advice, rarely am I capable, I must admit, of exercising the necessary level of self-control to rightly keep it to myself.

Furthermore, on an off chance a truly valuable remark finds its way to the forefront of my awareness, I am then almost certain to be compelled to share it with as many of those who may benefit from it, in ways big or small, as I can. So here I am. Proselytizing.

It was in a fleeting moment of a sunny summer lunch break walk that a friend had mentioned a curious habit she adopted years ago and now swore by almost religiously.

She described how she had trained herself to duly log every important activity she’d accomplish in a day. The mere act of recording, she argued, helped her gain the necessary distance from the regular hamster wheel way of existence, eventually leading to a more proactive approach to life, as well as an all-around more fulfilled kind of living.

As a firm believer that true freedom is attained through the exercise of rigorous control over one’s life, I was instantaneously intrigued by this exotic habit I never heard anyone mention before. Though, I wasn’t ready to drop everything and add yet another “to-do” to my already lengthy list of modern-day tasks and obligations.

So, at first, I nearly dismissed it. Yet, in the days to come, this habit kept quietly glinting somewhere in the back of my mind, signaling to me, patiently, as if a warm yellow light of a lighthouse flickering in the haze of a nightfall, that there was, in fact, something worthy hiding inside it. And if I was willing to commit to it whole-heartedly I, too, would eventually discover the gifts lying deep down at its core.

So off I went — tracking every moment devoted to the three, dear to my heart, activities I chose to focus on during this endeavor: dance, creative writing and quality time spent with friends and family; diligently recording them in an excel document safely tucked in an unnamed folder on my laptop.

Four months and countless carefully filled data rows later, and there was still no apparent result to show for my daily efforts. No ancient wisdom has revealed itself as a reward. No fancy insight hailed from the ether.

Not quite ready to give up just yet, I decided on a cutoff point: “Two more months,” I reasoned, after all I already spent a considerable amount of time on this undertaking, might as well try a little longer. “Two more months and if nothing changes — I’m out.”

And then something incredible happened.

Having experienced a major setback at work — a project I was working on with my team and cared about deeply was put on a back burner indefinitely — the weight of the world began insidiously mounting atop my shoulders. Questions of meaning, difference, and impact, and if I ever was going to create any, began quietly nagging.

Meanwhile, winter came with its windy days and early-onset nights and, as it so often happens, winter blues promptly followed.

I was sitting at a desk one of those gloomy nights, as the falling snow sparkled in the bleak-orange glow of a streetlight outside my bedroom window.

About to log my productivity hours for the day, I opened the excel and began to, unassumingly, scroll through what now has, proudly, amounted to full six months of data, when my finger slipped, accidentally highlighting the entire “hours” row in one instant.

My eyes were then slowly drawn to the “Sum:1,389” self-contentedly glaring at me from the right bottom corner of the spreadsheet. 1,389 hours spent on activities that matter to me the most. That’s 231.5 hours per month, 57.9 hours per week, 8.3 hours per day — I began breaking it down.

All of a sudden, the chaotic world around didn’t seem so chaotic anymore. The knots of anxiety all around my chest began untying as I could, once again, fill my lungs with a full breath of freedom.

My awareness rushed through the veins, now swirling palpably through the entirety of my body, not just the head, where it has treacherously resided over the last few days. Before I knew it, I was mentally transported right back into the driver’s seat of my life. An increased sense of clarity, calm and order followed.

I never doubted recording again. Perhaps a placebo effect, still this habit has managed to make my life infinitely better. It helped me appreciate even the smallest contributions I make towards my goals daily, as those have a peculiar tendency to add up, eventually, snowballing into incredibly meaningful results.

But, most importantly, it allowed me to relax into the uncertain ocean of existence a bit more fully, knowing that if I ever felt dissatisfied with my efforts, the logged hours would always be there, serving as the tangible proof of as the tangible proof of my hard work and dedication.

So, whatever your thing is, whether it is training for a marathon, running a business or spending time with puppies at a local animal shelter, consider logging your hours for a while. So, when moments of defeat come, as they inevitably do on the treacherous paths of those relentlessly reaching for something more in life, you can always look back at the time spent pursuing your goals and be reminded of a deeper truth that we, oh so often, forget — that what really matters is the journey, not the destination.

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A.B. Wisely

I've been called a strong woman more times than I care to admit. Not sure when, along the way, I became strong. Or a woman for that matter.