I’m starting to feel terribly stressed by the approaching end of the year and all the things I both want to do and need to do in the very near future. I’m trying to remind myself to breathe.

Breathe, breathe, breathe, and all else will fall into place.

But it feels like I have lots of things that I’ve been putting on my list to take care of soon that have all stacked up now, not taken care of, and needing to be done.

Get my websites back up as independent domains. Format the translations for print editions. Organize my financial info for taxes and FAFSA purposes. Create a new budget for next year, based on the data from my first five months of traveling (with realistic numbers for how much my darling dogs actually cost me.) Get Serenity in for service, help my sister move, visit my brother in Fort Lauderdale, get birthday presents for Rory, do my laundry, respond to emails… you get the idea.

I’m letting the things in my to-do list start to intimidate me, even though a) most of the things have been waiting for me to do them for a while and the fact that it is the end of the year does not make them more  imperative, just makes it more obvious that I really should take care of them and stop dwelling on needing to take care of them and b) some of them are just life. Normal life that requires that we do stuff.

But I’m using an app that I found recently called Streaks, and it’s making me so much more aware of getting things done, if that makes any sense. Streaks describes itself as “a to-do list that helps you form good habits.” It’s really simple — you set 6 tasks and when they need to happen and when you want reminders and then let it go.

It can link to Apple Health, which is really nice for some types of tasks. So, for example, my first task is to walk 4000 steps and my goal is to do that every day. Apple Health tracks how many steps I’m walking and in Streaks, a circle gradually gets filled until I reach my goal. If I haven’t reached the goal by 3:30 in the afternoon, it sends me a reminder that I still want to walk. Right now, I have successfully reached the goal 21 days in a row, so yay me.

Another one of my goals is to meditate for 15 minutes every day. I use a meditation app as a timer, set the timer for 15 minutes, do my best to stay still, breathe, and listen to the universe, and when the timer goes off, the app sends my meditation info to Apple Health and Apple Health sends it to Streaks and Streaks marks my goal as successful for the day.

I also have a goal of writing Morning Words, which is basically stream-of-consciousness journaling every day; writing 2 blog posts a week; and writing 1000 words of fiction 6x/week. I gave myself one day off for fiction because sometimes it’s just not going to happen.

Since I started using Streaks, I’ve hit all those goals. The app counts the number of days in a row you succeed (that’s why I know how many days I’ve walked) and it really does work to motivate me. There was one day last week where my morning walk got cut short and my afternoon walk wasn’t enough, and I did actually take a longer-than-usual evening walk just because I didn’t want to break my streak. (I should note that 4000 steps is really not a huge amount to walk, less than 2 miles, and I should probably set it higher if I really want it to count as pushing myself. Maybe in the new year!)

But checking items off my checklist every day is making me more aware of all the things in my life that are not on my checklist and that are not getting checked off. I guess that’s a good thing? Honestly, I’m not sure it is. Today I have started laundry and exercised–a class, thirty minutes on the cross-trainer, and a mile walk with the dog!–and cleaned up Serenity and written morning words and now I’m writing a blog post and I ought to feel accomplished and like I’ve gotten a lot done. And instead I think wow, it’s noon already, and I have so much to DO.

Breathe, breathe, breathe.

I hope all your Christmases were merry! I’m hanging out at my dad’s house, parked here for one more night, and moving on tomorrow to a friend’s house. My big plan for the next few days–and maybe part of why I feel like I have so much to DO–is driveway surfing and visiting lots of local friends. But I am really hoping to get my website stuff taken care of while I’m able to use internet that doesn’t measure cost by megabytes, so that’s the plan for the afternoon. That and writing my 1000 words of fiction because right now, while I’m sorry those are not happening to be words on Grace, I am really enjoying the story I am writing and those 1000 words are turning into the best part of my day.

And that is the best result of all of my Streaks results.