10 things I’ve learned (as a chronic card-procrastinator) from a daily card-writing practice

I have always been a reluctant card-sender. Logically, I know that they are one of the best things I can do to emotionally process my life and to show up in support for the people I love. However, I hadn’t figured out a system that worked for me.

Instead, I used the excuse that I was busy. Ironic, I know, since I own a card company. I would try to write a note while Ellie was in the bathtub. That was a good practice, but still, to keep up on all the notes I felt like I should be sending, it wasn’t enough.

At the beginning of the New Year, I realized that it’s the daily habits that add up over a long time. Having a spot in EACH DAY to prioritize the things that I want to get better at, the things that I value, such as daily health routines and doing the dishes in the morning, helps me stay on track.

For some reason, it’s easier for me to commit to doing something every day, rather than three times a week. When I know that I’ll be doing something every day, I don’t let it build up into a pile that seems insurmountable.

I think I always built up writing a card so much, that in my head, I didn’t have time for it.

After about 10 days of actually writing a card a day, I noticed that it really didn’t even take as much time as I thought it might. Five minutes. A handful of sentences. And the relief that it’s been giving me — to not put off notes – feels amazing.

 Hopefully these will help you prevent card-writing procrastination, even if you don’t decide to write a card a day. 

Here are 10 things I’ve discovered since starting a daily card-writing practice.

1. I really like following up with an interaction by writing a card. If there is someone in my life who I hear is going through a tough time, that becomes the card I write that day.

2. It’s thrilling to take action so quickly after the interaction. Instead of putting off a card for “sometime... in the next week.. or so,” I know that there is a five-minute slot in my day to seize the day and spend some time writing some words that I need to meditate on and hopefully will resonate, comfort, and encourage the recipient.

3. The first week I would pop the card in the envelope, and address with just their first name. Then, at the end of the week, I went through the cards and took time to address the envelopes. Although I liked being able to read the cards back over before sending them, I have now switched my system slightly. I discovered that I can drop off the card in our nearby post-box as part of my workout, and then the cards can show up for the people sooner. Plus the act of finishing the card doesn’t pile up. It only took me a few days to get into this rhythm.

4. I have decided to save my Sunday as a day to write Ellie (my daughter) a card. I have a binder with pages that I am collecting the cards into. It’s satisfying to already be building a stash of cards for her. I imagine that when I’m gone someday, she’ll be able to look through the cards and hear her mama’s voice in my thoughts and words. I am constantly aware that I don’t know when my time is going to be up (since I’m a paraplegic, I probably think about this more than the average person). Seizing the opportunity each Sunday to invest my time into this project is highly cathartic for me.

These are the binders I got.
These are the inserts I’m using.

5. I’ve always been bad at sending Birthday Cards. But now when it’s someone’s birthday, I take 5 minutes to give the person I love some affirming words that can rattle around in their brain. I have been writing the card ON their birthday because I haven’t yet figured out a better way to do it ahead of time. But a late card is a way to extend the celebration, and it’s better than just a text message.

6. The Ultimate Stash has made it possible to do this project. So far, I’ve been able to find a good card from the set every day. It has been helping me realize that I need to design some less dramatic thank-you notes 😅, and some wordless cards would be really nice to have too. In the survey I took a few weeks ago, you all echoed these things as well, so I’ve been thinking about this a lot as I’m designing the cards for this year. (Our first collection will be coming out in April!)

7. Unlike Grace, I don’t tend to decorate the envelopes, besides using our sticker seals (which helps each envelope feel a little more polished). Perhaps I’ll try decorating some envelopes with Ellie… but so far, done is better than perfect, and I’m ok with that.

8. I’ve realized that storing addresses in my phone is the way to go for me, and I’m getting better at updating the address in my phone right away when I ask via text message for an address. This is nice for future Leah because it will help me save time, and avoid losing the address and having to ask for it again.

9. I’ve experimented a bit with when I write the card, but often it is the last thing I do before I get into bed. Some people journal before bed, I kind of like the habit of writing a card. Dr. Rangan Chatterjee in his book Feel Better in 5 (great book, btw!), talks about how having a gratitude practice at the end of the day can help you sleep better. Taking 5 minutes to write and meditate on someone in my life whom I’m grateful for is really a great way to give gratitude. Plus Kelsey is typically home and can watch Ellie while I sneak away for a few minutes.

10. I’ve skipped a couple of days, but I forgive myself because I am writing to SO many more people than I would have otherwise. Instead of simply thinking about doing this kind action, I am actually taking action.

And I have so far haven't had much trouble finding people to write to. Some people I aim to write to once a month. Some people it's their anniversary. Some people it's probably the only time I'll send them a card, but I know they are struggling and could use some encouragement and a nice piece of art to inspire them.

It's felt pretty organic so far, and there are people on my list who I need to get to still.

Why this is working for me:

I think positive actions like this will always have a bit of resistance. It’s easier and more seductive to just browse my phone for ten minutes, so having a system in place that helps me spend a few minutes of my time making sure that I don’t let the day slip through my fingers feels like there’s a lot of power in it.

I’m excited that it feels like this simple challenge is letting me redefine myself from “procrastinator” to someone who says, “let’s do it today.”

What works for you?

Have you ever done a card-a-day challenge? What works for you? I'd love to hear!

P.S. Something I’m really aware of is that everyone is different. I think the best thing to do is to figure out what works for YOU. 

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I look forward to your posts and often read parts aloud to my husband. Thank you for your time and sharing your thoughts. I love your cards and artwork too!

Blair Crouse

I find each of your posts so valuable and this one especially resonated with me. Thank you for taking the time and effort to share these thoughts.


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