This is the first of a new series of emails called “How I Monk.” In this series we will be highlighting + celebrating members of the Monk Manual community as they’ve meaningfully applied our tools and resources to find peaceful being and purposeful doing in their everyday lives. If you’d like to be featured in a future “How I Monk,” share your information with us here… #HowIMonk
Name: Anne Fletcher
Occupation: Business owner & University Lecturer
Where are you from: Berkeley California (I know - insert hippie joke here.)
Advice for Monk Manual Users: Stick with it! The habit gets easier and the rewards build slowly and steadily. Also - the annual planning process is really valuable.
A bit about who you are and and how you spend your days:
I’m a parent to an 8-year-old, a spouse, a daughter, sister and friend, and a member of my community here in Berkeley California. I’m also a nature lover and have been since I was tiny.
In my 20’s I had a career as a professional snowboarder and mountain guide in Chile and Argentina before founding a company in the (then) nascent Chilean surfing industry.
After a few years of making surf gear out of plastic materials (almost all sports stuff is essentially plastic!) I returned to school to study product design and to figure out how to make things more responsibly.
Today I make ceramic self-watering seed pots that help gardeners succeed with seed starting, and deepen their own connection with the nature right outside their door. We manufacture everything in-house in our California studio where we can monitor every detail. We pack and ship in 100% paper packaging – no more plastic!
What originally drew you to the Monk Manual?
While living Silicon Valley, though I wasn't not involved in the tech industry, I was surrounded by a culture of hyper productivity Where I was either “keeping up” and burning out, or “falling behind” and feeling like a desperate failure. So, as soon as I about the ideas behind the Monk Manual, it just clicked for me. Monk Manual seemed in tune with reality as I experienced it, whereas the tech industry, for all it’s accomplishments, felt like desperately swimming full-speed-ahead upstream against the cosmic tides.
How has your life changed since using the Monk Manual?
I’m way way way more intentional about how I spend my time, which in turn makes me much calmer. Even if things aren’t going as planned (when are they ever going exactly as planned?!), I know I’m heading the right direction. There is an existential dread that I used to feel, but I don’t feel anymore.
I do more of what’s meaningful - ambitious backpacking trips to the Sierras, playing outside with my kid, visiting family without any special occasion, building a garden that will produce food for decades to come - and less of what’s not - consuming news and social media, watching TV.
I’ve also gotten my husband on board with the annual planning so that our family goals are aligned. It’s given us a common language and process that makes planning the bigger life goals easier.
At home I grow food for our family and the local pollinators, I plan, shop for and cook our meals, I coach my daughter’s soccer team, and do all the usual chores. I credit the Monk Manual with helping me prioritize and get everything done. When I’m clear about the big picture “being” goals, the smaller details slot into place much more easily!
Are there any personal you’ve applied to your Monk Manual practice?
I love using it for gardening reminders - I add reminders weeks in advance to keep my gardening on schedule. The seasons wait for no one, so you really do have to work backwards from planting and harvest dates to get seeds started in time.
With bigger work projects I like to lay out the whole project on a table with post-its for chunks of the project. Then I put those post-its in the Monk Manual, stuck to the week where they need to get done. That way I can relax and know they’re there.
Do you have a favorite prompt or section?
I really love working down from the annual plan to the quarterly plan through months and weeks. It makes sense to me to be chipping away at bigger, meaningful goals. And it helps me prioritize the little every day to-do’s.
I also love the “looking forward to” prompt. If I go too many days without anything good to look forward to, it reminds me to make a course correction, whether external- adding something nice to the schedule - or internal - asking myself if I’m overlooking goodness that’s already there.
Finally, I LOVE that the pages are undated. I fall off the wagon often enough that having wasted, blank, but dated pages would break my heart. It’s like there is forgiveness built in with the Monk Manual. I miss a day, but I can still come right back.
How can readers find out more about you and what you’re using the Monk Manual to accomplish?
Glad you asked! My best channel is the newsletter I send out about twice a week which focuses on seed starting - and all the awesome plants and food you can grow from seed - and deepening our connection with the nature around us. You can find out more and sign up here.
If you’d like to be featured in a future “How I Monk,” share your information with us here.