Monthly Archives: August 2019

Weekend wisdom 9

I went through my email inbox this morning and I didn’t get a lot this week that I really want to remember so it’s a short post this week.

One thing I’ve been loving lately is James Clear’s new weekly 3-2-1 email, which offers three ideas, two quotes and one question. Two of the ideas he presented this week especially resonated with me for different reasons.

  • Idea 2: When making plans, think big. When making progress, think small.
  • Idea 3:  A simple strategy that will save you so many headaches: don’t care about winning trivial arguments. Did someone say something you don’t agree with? Smile, nod, and move on to more important things. Life is short. Learning to not care about having the last word will save you so much time.

Idea 3 reminds me of something I saw a few weeks back, I don’t remember where.

Before you argue with someone, ask yourself, is that person even mentally mature enough to grasp the concept of different perspectives? Because if not, there’s absolutely no point. (Amber Veal)

I listened to Asian Efficiency’s podcast with Mridu Parikh, which I found full of useful tips, some of which I knew about and others that were new to me.

Here are my takeaways from the podcast:

  1. Use the pomodoro timer not just for things you want to get done but also to set limits around distracting activities. If you’re going to do something distracting, set yourself a time limit and then stop and get back to work when the time’s up.
  2. To make your top three (or five or one) tasks stand out from everything else, put them on a sticky note somewhere that you’ll see it all day. These are your “gotta do’s” not your “wanna do’s”.
  3. If you struggle with making yourself do your work when you’ve blocked out time to do it (hello!), break it down into more manageable chunks. Don’t block out two hours to work on a report. Block out 30 minutes to do a specific task for the report: look up statistics, write the introduction, then another 30 minutes (or an hour or however long you need) to do another discrete task. That way you know exactly what you’re going to be working on and you’ll be able to sit down and focus on that task (once you’ve got rid of the distractions that Mridu also discusses in the podcast).

I’ll be trying to put these tips into practise this week as we roll into another busy time at work.

19 for 2019: week 32 update

Week of 5 August 2019

I’m finding as I make my way through my list of 19 things I want to complete, there are fewer opportunities to make a lot of progress now that I only have five incomplete things.

This week, I contacted the sewing machine repair people (thing 10) and I am on their list of people to contact next time they’re in town, so I’m playing the waiting game now. I’ve progressed that as far as I can.

I printed some of the photos for my photo project (thing 16) to see how they’d turn out when I finally finish the project. And I made a colour coding system in Lightroom for my folio (thing 2).

I’m still working on getting a bedtime routine in place (thing 6) and am slowly making progress. Sort of. I’ve been keeping up with the weekly classes too so I’ll call that progress this week.

Status for week 32

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 14 (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19)
  • Things I progressed: 4 (2, 6, 10 16)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 0
  • Things not started: 1 (14)

Weekend wisdom 8

A weekly review of things that came through my inbox that I found interesting and want to remember.

This week, I stumbled on Dr Sarah McKay, a neuroscientist who studies women’s brains. She’s also an author and presents the ABC’s Catalyst program. On her blog Your Brain Health, Sarah outlines the seven habits of healthy brains, which she says are:

  1. Sleep—it needs to be a priority, not a luxury. It is essential for consolidating memories and draining waste products from our brain. We also under-consume natural light during the day and over-consume artificial light at night, disrupting our natural rhythms, hormones and immune systems.
  2. Move—physical exercise is the best exercise for your brain. It triggers the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which promotes neurone growth and survival, reduced inflammation and supports the formation of long-term memories.
  3. Nourish—she says research favours a Mediterranean-style diet of mostly plants, fish, some meat, olive oil and nuts.
  4. Calm—chronic stress can change the wiring of our brains. Too much cortisol prevents the birth of new neurones and causes the hippocampus to shrink, reducing your powers of learning and memory. Meditate, walk or nap. Do something you’re good at that requires some degree of challenge.
  5. Connect—we are social animals and have a fundamental need for human warmth and connection. Loneliness and social isolation is as bad for us as smoking.
  6. Challenge—regularly challenge your mind and stay mentally active. Choose mentally challenging activities that you can practise regularly, that are reasonably complex and take you out of your cognitive comfort zone.
  7. Believe—seek out your purpose in life. People who score high in purpose live longer, healthier and more fulfilling lives. Set fantastic, passionate goals and work like crazy to achieve them. Find your place of flow.

What struck me when I was reading this was that six of these seven things are the exact same things I am (or will be) working on in my wellbeing program. So this is good to know.

Another post I found useful was from the Insight timer blog, an app I used to use regularly but haven’t used for several months now. It talks about morning routines, which are supposed to be good for us in setting up our day, but which I have fallen out of lately. This post specifically talks about how to alleviate anxious feelings by establishing a healthy morning routine. I generally don’t have a problem with anxious thoughts in the morning but the routine is similar to what I used to do before it all fell apart.

This is their suggestion for such a routine:

  1. Examine your thoughts
  2. Get up and hydrate
  3. Practise gratitude
  4. Breathe
  5. Meditate (incidentally, Sarah McKay’s blog has a great article on what to do if meditation stresses you out, which I’m kind of glad to hear her say because when I was doing it I always felt like it wasn’t helping me and I guess that’s one reason why it was so easy for me to not resume when I broke my 500+ day streak last year, when I think I was doing it under a sense of obligation to maintain the streak than any actual benefit. Maybe that’s one to think about for another day.)
  6. Exercise

I found this great article from songwriter Christine Kane on another blog I read occasionally. It’s about how to overcome “attention splatter”.  Of all the articles and tips I’ve picked up over the years I’m finding this to be one of the simplest and clearest outlines of what to do when you “mindlessly and half-heartedly splatter your attention on non-activities, but you never fully engage”. This sounds like me.

Christine’s seven steps are:

  1. Have no more than three priorities for the day. Ask yourself, “If I only accomplish one thing today, which one thing would make me most happy?”
  2. Know the task before you sit down at the computer. Assign tasks. (i.e. “Clean out email folders”) Assign times. (“From 1pm to 2pm”) Stop as soon as the end time arrives.
  3. Put an end to activities that leak (like checking mails). Make a list of “leaky” activities, and stop the leaks by scheduling these activities—and stop when the time is up.
  4. Use your small slices of time. Learn to fit constructive things in to small slices of time. (Along the same lines, this week’s Asian Efficiency podcast has a heap of ideas for activities you can fit into small slices of time.)
  5. Use your intention. Before you begin any activity, set an intention for that activity. Focus on your desired outcome and how you want to feel during the activity.
  6. Get rid of anything that doesn’t feed you—emails, unread books, subscriptions . . .  if you subscribe to it, ask yourself why. Start letting go of stuff. Be ruthless about keeping the incoming stuff to a minimum.
  7. Be present in your down-time. When you take a nap, take a nap. When you take a Saturday off, really take it off. Don’t spend the day obsessing about the things you should be doing.

I think the last one is a really great thing to keep in mind. You aren’t going to recover and rejuvenate yourself if you keep working and don’t take a proper break.

And finally, two thoughts from James Clear. Or one thought and a question:

An imperfect start can always be improved, but obsessing over a perfect plan will never take you anywhere on its own.

I need to put this up in very large print above my desk.

How long will you put off what you are capable of doing just to continue what you are comfortable doing?

Indeed.

19 for 2019: week 31 update

Week of 29 July 2019

I’ve not made a lot of progress on my five remaining 19 for 2019 things.

I really should contact the sewing machine repair person (thing 10), especially as Kramstable says he’s enjoying his textile work at school that he’s started this term.

With my photo folio (thing 2), as I’m already sorting my photos each week (or thereabouts) for my 2019 photojournal so it makes sense to pick out the ones that are potential folio material at the same time. That way I only have to review the week’s photos once.

I did a bit more work on my photo project (thing 16).

Early bedtime has become a bit of a dream, I think (thing 6). I’ve been writing up my bedtimes on my whiteboard so I can see how well I’m not doing at going to bed by about 10.30. The last two weeks, I’ve never gone to bed before 10.50. I think I need some new strategies to make this happen. On the positive side, I haven’t missed a day’s walk for a long time, even if it’s just been to the bus stop at the end of the street (because I didn’t get out of bed because I was so tired from staying up too late). I’m also revisiting some of the work I did earlier in the wellbeing course to try and re-establish some of those habits.

Bonus thing No-buy July, which got extended into August because I slipped up, is going well. I haven’t bought a single book, item of clothing or new pen or signed up for any class (not even free ones). One week to go with that one (actually, four days) before I can *happy dance* buy the book I’ve been eyeing off the last couple of weeks. It’s one I’ve thought about a lot as it will complement some of the work I’ve been struggling with in the wellbeing course. So it won’t be a spur of the moment purchase. It’s one I’ve considered carefully.

Here’s a photo of a lost shopping trolley of Hobart waiting for its morning coffee.

20190731 Lost trolley waits for its coffee edit

Status for week 31

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 14 (1, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15, 17, 18, 19)
  • Things I progressed: 3 (2, 6, 16)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 0
  • Things not started: 2 (10, 14)

Weekend wisdom 7

A weekly review of things that came through my inbox that I found interesting and want to remember.

Sometimes I find it interesting that emails, usually from lists I never remember subscribing to, all come in around the same theme, which are often things I’m grappling with at the time. Perhaps there’s an invisible thing out there that says everyone has to write about the same thing at the same time. And everytime I think, I don’t really want to be on this list and think about unsubscribing, the post is about one of those relevant things.

This is not one of those things. This is an interesting article about how to store cooked rice so you don’t get sick.

The theme that seemed most prevalent in my email inbox this week was about setting boundaries. It follows on a little from the topic in the Bold Self Love podcast last week about how we don’t get to control what other people do, but we get to choose our responses to what they do, and our response, not the behaviour, determines our feelings.

So what this was about was if someone behaves in a way we don’t like and that we feel like we need to protect ourselves from, we need to set a boundary for ourselves around that behaviour in order to do that. For example, if someone speaks to you in a way that upsets you, you might set a boundary around this by saying that you are going to remove yourself from any conversation where the person adopts that way of speaking. Or if someone continues to call you when you’ve asked them not to, you might set a boundary by blocking their number.

And the thing this is supposed to do is to protect yourself, not to control the other person. They can continue to speak badly to you, but you now choose to leave the situation because it’s unhealthy for you to be there. If they subsequently change the way they speak, I guess that’s a bonus, but your reason for setting the boundary was not to make them change their behaviour.

It sounds like a very subtle difference to me but I think it’s important.

I suppose the next article, from the Havard Business Review a couple of years ago, might help you have the conversation about setting boundaries. This came to me from the wonderful Kendra Wright.

The article suggests that the way to approach difficult conversations is by reframing your thoughts about the conversation. It presents the following ideas.

  • Begin from a place of curiosity and respect, and stop worrying about being liked. [Conflict avoiders are often worried about not being liked, so they don’t raise difficult issues. Anyone? Anyone?]
  • Focus on what you’re hearing, not what you’re saying. You don’t need to talk that much during a difficult conversation. Instead, focus on listening, reflecting, and observing.
  • Be direct. Get to the point and talk to the person honestly and with respect. ([o which you may well respond, but what if the other person doesn’t respond with honesty and respect, for whatever reason? I guess you halt the conversation and try again later. Or get help.]
  • Don’t put it off. If you’re always thinking it’s not worth arguing about and that you’ll bring it up next time, you most likely won’t. You haven’t done yet. The article says “now’s the time. Instead of putting off a conversation for some ideal future time, when it can be more easily dealt with, tackle it right away”. [Uggh! Scary! No way.]
  • Expect a positive outcome. If you tell yourself the conversation is going to be a disaster, it probably will be. Focus on the positive and  tell yourself, “This will result in an improved relationship.” [I’m not so sure about this one. It never works for me.]

I think I’ll just leave that one for now and move on.

Lastly was this piece from the Insight Timer blog by Carolyn Ziel on how writing can change your life.

I quite liked reason number 5: You Can Write Your Life!

Writing is powerful. Writing an intention is like creating a vision board on steroids.

If you just THINK about your goals and dreams you’re only using the imaginative center, the right hemisphere of your brain. When you write your visions, you tap into the left hemisphere, the logic-based portion of your brain. You open up your subconscious mind to seeing opportunities that you might not have seen before. Things start to fall into place.

You receive what you’ve asked for and you are living the life you have always dreamed of, as if by magic!

There can’t be any harm in trying, right?

Number 2 (Writing is great for people for like to be in control) made me think too.

Start by writing a list of your fears. As human beings we have the power to change our thoughts. Review your list and write down all the ways that the fears you have aren’t accurate. You can also list ways to counteract the fears. Looking at your fears in writing, rebutting them with common sense, changing your thoughts through the written word and knowing that you’re prepared for what comes next will help.

Keep writing. Write about specific outcomes. How you want to feel. How you want to think. What you want to let go of — like control.

Like to be in control? Me? Never.

I think I need to find something a bit light-hearted to end the post on.

Nope, I got nothing. Instead, a quote from Seneca, “How disgraceful is the lawyer whose dying breath passes while at court, at an advanced age, pleading for unknown litigants and still seeking the approval of ignorant spectators.”