Category Archives: change

20 for 2020: week 2

Week two: Week of 6 January

Welcome to week two of 20 for 2020. This is the first full week for the year and I’m lucky I still have some time before my uni course starts to concentrate of some of the other tasks, some of which I think will be important to have done because they will help me stay on track with uni (thing 8).

The most obvious of which is Indistractable (thing 13), which is a book by Nir Eyal about helping out get control of your attention so you can do the things you really want to be doing. There is a bit of overlap between this work and the creative kickstart course (thing 6) and also the wellbeing work (thing 3) I’ve been doing so I think it’s good to be tackling them all at the same time.

Something that all three things look at is whether what you do every day is actually what you want to be doing. It’s described differently in all three, but the idea is that you look at how you spend your day, look at how you would spend your day if you were leading a life that you truly wanted to live and then start to see what shifts you can make to move your life closer to the life you want to be living. Each approaches it in a different way, and I love seeing the differences in approaches between a productivity person, a creative person and a person focused on health and wellbeing.

Rather than attempt to explain all of the three groups of activities, I’ll write about what I’ve been doing.

One of the first things I did was to track my time. This is important so you know what you spend time on and can assess whether you might be able to claim back some of the time you spend on activities that are less valuable to you so that you can work on things that are really important to you. I did this in excruciating detail for five days. I kept a spreadsheet and every time I started to do something different, I noted it down.

The first thing that struck me when looking back at it that every day I woke up to the alarm rather than already being awake (four of the five days) I lay in bed from 25 minutes up to an hour and 25 minutes. So over four days I wasted four hours lying in bed avoiding getting up. If that’s normal, it means I waste 365 hours a year avoiding getting up. That’s 15 days a year I spend in bed doing nothing. Two weeks!! I only get four weeks annual leave each year. I’d never waste two weeks of that like this, so what the hell am I doing this for?

I had never thought about it this way until I looked at those numbers.

The next thing that is painfully obvious is that I am very “distractable”. Other than things like walking, going out for a lunch break. watching a movie or spending time with family, the longest stretch of time I did any single activity for was 48 minutes. That was highly unusual. I did most of my work in 10-15-20 minute bursts (or even less), interrupted by emails, checking social media (48 times in five days and I think this is way less than I actually did), getting up to move, colleagues, text messages, phone calls, family members, my boss . . .

Not all of these were bad distractions. Getting up to move, for example, is very important for my physical wellbeing and to prevent further injury to my back. But a lot of them were distractions that I initiated myself, and this is where some of the work in Indistractable and the creative kickstart work is focused. Eliminating (or minimising) self-initiated distractions that take me away from the work I want to be doing. I don’t have to check social media ten times a day. I don’t have to check email that often either. What this exercise has shown me very clearly is my lack of capacity to work undistracted for long periods and, therefore, to get into a state of focused concentration where I can do my best work. This isn’t just at my day job; it’s at home too when I want to do some writing or photo editing, so when I say “work” I am talking about both.

Part of this is environmental and it’s not all down to me not controlling my attention. My day job is in a noisy open-plan office, which is not conducive to doing concentrated work for long periods. Indistractable has some ideas for minimising distractions in that type of environment, which I’ll get to later, but my work for this week has been on minimising the distractions that I create for myself.

One idea that has occurred to me is that I find I get annoyed by the walk breaks, which are reminders on my Fitbit at 10 minutes before the hour if I haven’t moved enough that hour, because I’m often (finally) settling into some work after dealing with distractions I gave into throughout the hour. So I thought if I restrict my access to my phone until the walk alarm goes off, that will minimise a lot of my self-initiated distractions and I can use the 10 minutes to have a break, move and check things on my phone if I want to. The challenge will then be to put it away again when I get back to my desk. I also think that in my day job it would be helpful to use the walk alarm as a trigger to shift into a different position and to take advantage of the sit-stand desks, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on trying to make more habitual. Using the walk breaks for good.

Distractions notwithstanding, however, the main purpose of this tracking exercise is to look at everything you do and to figure out what you’re doing that aligns with what you really want to be focusing on, and what is taking up your time and stopping you focusing on your work (however you define that, paid work, art, writing, blogging, photography . . .) and the things that are important to you, such as family, friends, walking, photography and chickens. Having done that, you decide whether you can get rid of some of the stuff that doesn’t align. If you can’t (hello, cleaning out the chicken enclosure) and, if not, whether you can delegate it to someone else, defer it until later, reduce the amount of time you spend on it, or change it in some way so that it does better align to what you want.

Travel to work is a prime candidate. It’s not a thing that aligns to anything. It’s something I have to do or I might find my cashflow stop rather abruptly. One way I got rid of it a long time ago was to start working from home one day a week, which, from where I was living at the time, gave me an extra two hours a day. Nice, but not available to everyone. Now I just scroll social media on the trip to work.

I want to read more. But I have no time to read. But I have an (approximately) 20 minute bus ride to work. Therefore, I have 20 minutes to read. Twice a day. Done.

I want to do more exercise. I bought an e-bike that get me to town with some effort but not enough to make it necessary to need to shower when I get there. Therefore, I have two sets of about 35 minutes of exercise.

Okay, that’s an easy one, but you get the idea.

On the same theme, Gretchen Rubin had this great idea many podcasts ago about mundane activities. She says that when you’re doing an activity that’s really boring try to put the word meditation after it to reframe it. “I’m doing waiting in line . . .  meditation”, which she says feels a whole lot better than being bored and frustrated by waiting in line or cleaning the bathroom or waiting for the bus (or subway in her case since she’s in New York). She refers to the saying “if you can’t get out of it, get into it”, which is, I think what “shifting” is all about. Related, Gretchen and Liz have an interesting discussion on boredom in this podcast, which is a little related to my Bored and Brilliant challenge (thing 12).

After looking at my activities and working out what aligns with where I want to go and what doesn’t, and discovering that there isn’t much on that list I do that I can actually delete, I worked through Chapter 10 of Indistractable, which asks you to allocate how many hours a week you want to allocate to each activity. Then you sit down and work out how to fit it all into your schedule.

My hours added up to 196.5.

This is after eliminating everything I no longer want to do.

There are 168 hours in a week. This ain’t gonna happen, kids.

Well, I do have 30 hours a week of work. 196.5 minus 30 is 166.5, which gives me an hour and half to watch a movie as well . . . .  Unfortunately, I also need the pay that comes with that work time!

So the work now is to figure out a schedule that gives me time to do what I love to do, and what I have to do. This is only chapter 10. There are 25 more chapters to work through.

I finished reading the book too, with my new bus reading habit (thing 14).

As I said, a lot of the work I’ve been doing for Indistractable has been connected to the wellbeing work (thing 3) and I did some of the journalling for that this week too.

I’ve now worked through seven days of the creative kickstart course (thing 6) as well, which covers a lot of the same ground. One suggestion I liked was to set aside “just 15 minutes” every day to create. I have started experimenting with doing that after my morning walk. The idea is not just to commit to the time but also to commit to what you’ll be doing at the time, so I decided to spend just 15 minutes every day on my photo project (thing 1). It’s not much, but if I do this consistently for a year it will be 90 hours I would otherwise have not devoted to the project. That’s nearly four days! I have to be able to get it done in that time.

I rode my bike to work (thing 10) and read some of my uni material (thing 8) in preparation for the start of the unit on 20 January.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 1 (10)
  • Things completed to date: 2 (10, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 13, 14)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 0
  • Things not started: 13 (2, 5, 7, 9, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 19, 20, 21, 22)

19 for 2019: a review

20191101 Sunrise Taroona Beach 6 editIt’s coming up to the end of the year so it’s a good time to reflect on my 19 for 2019 list: what went well and what I didn’t quite do. I haven’t posted for a while because there hasn’t been much to say now. Every week since week 32 would have been much the same: I listened to one of the wellbeing course classes (thing 6), I added some photos to my folio (thing 2) and the sewing machine (thing 10) people still haven’t contacted me. I don’t have the big beautiful photo I imagined I would have (thing 14) and I’ve been dabbling with the photo project (thing 16) but I’m not going to get it finished.

So, let’s review what went well. I finished 14 of the 19 things I set out to do. I have three more classes of the wellbeing course so I might get there before the end of the year and I will have a folio of my favourite images of 2019 but I won’t have edited them or done anything with them.

I’m happy with completing 14 things from the list. I did some things I had been putting off for years, like getting a skin check (thing 4) and I now have a nice skin doctor who wears cool socks and I have reminders to rebook every year.

20190716 After manicure 3

We got manicures

I finished the 31-day photo course (thing 1) in a little longer than 31 days but I did it and at the same time gained a pretty reasonable understanding of how to use Lightroom (thing 19). I had my first manicure (thing 17) and I walked on a track in kunanyi (thing 15). I actually did this twice if being parent help on Kramstable’s bushwalk counts! I walked to Moonah (thing 3) and I filled up my Bucket List journal (thing 18) with not 50 but 100 things, so I also did that thing twice.

20190713 Bucket List Journal

Bucket list journal

I also had a bonus list of things I wanted to do but that didn’t make it onto the final list, so my real 19 for 2019 list was actually 30 things. I completed five of those things and I made a lot of progress on another one, so if you add those five to the 14 from the real list I actually did do 19 for 2019. I just picked the wrong 19!

I did a few other things I had wanted to do for a while too. I had a month off coffee and as a result I am no longer a regular coffee drinker. I didn’t buy anything I didn’t need to actually live for a month. I went alcohol-free for a month. And I almost completed the Bored and Brilliant challenge. I have one exercise to go. I should do it.

20190901 Tree on the Police Building 8-EditOn top of all that, I applied and was accepted into a university course through my work, which I had no intention of doing at the start of the year; it wasn’t even on my radar, but my manager encouraged me and I got seduced by the thought of graduation in a funky gown and a funny hat at the end of next year. So I’m now a uni student for the first time in more than 20 years and while the modules are running there’s little time for anything else. (Sorry, Weekend Wisdom posts.) I did way better in the first module than I ever dreamed possible and have three more modules to go. The last one is a workplace project, which I’m starting to gather some vague ideas about in my head and which might even end up here.

So that’s 19 for 2019 almost done and dusted. Out of all the things I wanted to do, there’s only one that I think was over-ambitious and that’s thing 14, make a photo I am proud of, frame it and hang it on the wall. I imagined that some of the other things, the photo course and learning Lightroom especially, would I have led me to be able to do this. I have a few photos from this year that I really like but none that stand out and say “this is the one”.

20190901 Boats at Derwent Sailing Squadron 14

I hadn’t given this too much thought until today when I was listening to David duChemin’s podcast, A Beautiful Anarchy. In this week’s episode, Learning to Drop, David talks about self-confidence and how if we mis-define the task we have to do, we set ourselves up to fail and, by failing, we fulfil the belief that we can’t do something. He compares it to juggling. If we think the task in learning to juggle is to juggle, we will fail and we will reinforce the belief that we can’t juggle. But the first task in learning to juggle isn’t to juggle, it’s to throw a ball and let it drop. We can do that task. Anyone can do that.

And so it is with creative work. If we identify the task as “I’m going to make a masterpiece” we are setting ourselves up to fail and to believe we can’t do it, because no one makes the masterpiece straight up. It takes a lot of throwing the ball and letting it drop before we can move onto the task of catching the ball. It takes a lot of “failures” and shitty first drafts, a lot of first lines, a lot of overexposed, underexposed, badly composed photographs that don’t go anywhere before we actually make any progress. David says

The creative life is one of failed first efforts. You’re meant to drop the ball so you can concentrate on what it feels like to throw it. Catching isn’t the point. Not yet.

So I think it was a mistake to want to make a masterpiece in a year. I should have focused on the process of creating and making and learning and experimenting and failing, not on the outcome I wanted. And, to some extent, I did that through the course and I want do to more of that in 2020. So there will be no “make a masterpiece” thing in my 20 for 2020.

Just like there will be no “read x books” in 2020 because focusing on the goal rather than the process this year meant that I basically gave up reading after I’d got to the magic number. Not what I wanted to happen when I wanted to develop a reading habit.

I’m going to use 2019 as a learning experience when I put together my 20 for 2020 list.

20191109 OHH-106 Construction House

How about you? Did you have a list of things you wanted to achieve in 2019? How did you go? Are you going to jump on the 20 for 2020 bandwagon with me next year? Let me know in the comments.

19 for 2019: week 26 update

Coming up to the middle of the year, I’ve completed nine of my 19 things I wanted to do this year. That’s pretty close to half, although the pedant in me says that half of 19 is nine-and-a-half, which is rounded up to ten, so I should have completed ten things to be on track at the half-way point.

The realist says that’s ridiculous and that many of the things are more than half-finished so if you added in all of those to the mix, then the grand total would be way more than ten.

The pedant says that’s stupid and that a thing is either done or it isn’t done and only nine things are done. There is no part-done . . . and so I let my brain carry on its pointless argument while I actually sit down and do things. Or write about them, which isn’t really achieving anything. Well, it is. I like writing and I’m trying to improve, so any writing I do is helping me do this. I hope.

By writing these posts relatively quickly and publishing them, it’s also helping to reinforce the message in my brain that “done is better than perfect”, a concept I struggle with. I touched on this in my Weekend Wisdom post this week, and I lived the experience on Tuesday morning.

Tell me more, I hear you say.

To set the scene, I’ve been feeling more and more like I’m getting my walking back on track (see what I did there?) since I got sick in May and stopped doing my morning walks. I think it must be three weeks now, maybe four, when I’ve been for a walk every morning even if, on a couple of days, it was just to the end of the street because it was all I could do that day (because I slept through the alarm and had no time. True story).

On Tuesday, the “do what you can do” got taken to another level. It was freezing cold. I went outside for my walk at 5.45 and I could see frost on the road. What I didn’t realise was it was also on my driveway, which, although short, is steep. I discovered the frost pretty quickly when my feet started to slip out from under me and I just stopped myself from falling.

20190625 The frost that bit me edit

The frost that bit me

At first, I thought if I could just get to the road I’d be okay, but after three slips I still hadn’t got anywhere near the bottom of the driveway and I was worried about falling over. I slipped down my front stairs a few months ago and hurt my back really badly and I didn’t want to go through that amount of pain again.

I decided that walking wasn’t worth the risk of injuring myself and I stopped trying and went back inside. My fitness will not dramatically drop off because I missed one day. My health is my top priority, and I decided that if going for a walk presented a risk to my health that outweighed any benefit, I wouldn’t walk.

I told myself that I had walked to the extent that it was possible to walk that morning. I had followed the routine. I’d got up, got dressed and gone outside to walk.  Just like the days when I only get to the end of the street and that’s okay if it’s all I can do that day, on Tuesday I got out of the house and onto the driveway and, in the circumstances, that’s all I could have done. It was my personal best that day. It was different from what my personal best would have been the day before and different from what it would be tomorrow. But it was okay for that day.

Was it a perfect morning walk? No. Did I do the best I could do in the circumstances? Yes. Was I happy with that? Yes.

I’ve told myself time after time that done is better than perfect and that “done” looks different every time. It’s an antidote to the other voice in my head that whispers “it has to be perfect or it’s not worth doing”. That’s the voice that usually wins, despite every argument I throw against it.

But lately, I’ve been noticing a shift. The “done is better” voice is getting stronger and drowning out the whispers of the perfectionist. I’m starting to feel like it’s okay to call something done if I’ve done the best I can with what I had in the circumstances I was in at the time.

It’s one thing to know something and another thing entirely to believe it and to live your life by it and I wonder why, having known this is true for many years, I didn’t accept it sooner. How different my life might have been if I had fully accepted this belief 10 or 20 years ago. But I didn’t, and there’s no point wondering. I’m learning to accept it now, and how I take it forward into the rest of my life is what matters, not what might have been, because I can’t change that.

I suppose it’s part of the journey of life that it takes time to incorporate new beliefs into your way of thinking and behaving. You can see the same phrase over and over again, read countless articles that say the same things from different angles and sit there nodding your head, thinking, “I have to start doing this”, but when it comes down to it, you carry on as you always have because you don’t really believe it.

Changing long-held beliefs is like trying to change any other habit you’ve had for a long time and struggled to break. It doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t just wake up one morning and say, “hey, I’m not going to beat myself up for not being perfect any more” and never do it again, just like you don’t wake up one morning and decide to quit smoking and never do it again. (Well, I suppose some people do, but they are not me. I struggle with replacing behaviours that don’t support me with ones that do, so it comes as no surprise that I also struggle with replacing beliefs that don’t serve me with ones that do.)

I hope Tuesday morning is a turning point for me in my quest to overcome perfection. I hope that it has started to prove to me that it’s okay when my best isn’t really very good because what matters is that I did it, even though it wasn’t perfect. And that tomorrow I will have a chance to do it better. (And I did go for a walk in the middle of the day after the frost had gone.)

20190625 Hinsby Beach 2 edit

Lunch time walk

And so, to the pedantic perfectionist, which is still arguing with the realist, it’s half-way through the year and I’ve completed nine of my 19 things. Nine! Yay! You need to remember this was a wish list to guide me through the year, not a rigid set of goals that I had to achieve no matter what. Nine things completed and eight more in progress is tracking pretty well at the half-way point. So thanks for your thoughts but I’ll let that one go.

This week I only progressed three things.

Wait, no. I progressed three things. Three is good. I had a lot of other things on. I progressed three things on my wish list. Great!

I didn’t do any work on the photo course or Lightroom (things 1 and 19).

I’m working on trying to re-establish my evening routine and get to bed at a reasonable hour (thing 6) but I’m struggling turning my computer off at night when I’m not being productive, I’m just mindlessly scrolling and surfing. It might be relaxing but it’s not giving me the kind of rest that I really need.

I think I need to approach this with the “personal best” mindset, which is that any night where I get more sleep than I normally do is better than beating myself up because I didn’t turn the computer off at my scheduled shut down time and be in bed with the light off at precisely 10.30. No one will die if I’m still brushing my teeth at 10.35. The aim is a gradual shift into building the habit, just like I gradually got walking back into my life.

I stuck November’s collages into my photojournalist (thing 11) and I spent some more time tinkering with the draft list to go into the bucket list journal (thing 18).

20190628 Argyle & Davey St 754am edit

My favourite @hobartstreetcorners photo from this week

Status for week 26

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

Weekend wisdom 2

Welcome to another instalment of my (hopefully) weekly posts on the things that came through my inbox that resonated with me this week. (Week 1’s introduction post is here.)

First up this week is an old post that I had saved from Ali Stegart’s blog Alphabet Soup and somehow stumbled on again this week. It’s in my extensive email library*, which as we learned last week, is something I never look at so I’m not sure how I found it again.

Ali’s post complements what I was reading about perfectionism last week and echoes the direction my own thoughts have been going. Ali refers to “toxic perfectionism” and says

. . . perfectionism, like most traits, has pros and cons, a light side and a dark side. It can be helpful and harmful.

Perfectionism may well be the superpower that got you where you are. Be proud of your commitment to excellence. The world needs your people of your calibre and standards. However, high achievers and perfectionists are not the same. The former strives for real excellence, as in a personal best, or the best on the day; the latter pushes for an ideal, unattainable perfection. To the perfectionist, ‘almost perfect’ is the same as failure.

Ali says we should “strive for excellence, but make GROWTH [our] aim”.

I agree and think there is a whole world of difference between excellence and perfection, which is unattainable. Photographer David duChemin refers to perfection as

the bastard love child of a protestant work ethic and the fact that we celebrate the work of artistic genius but never acknowledge the process responsible for that work. We are told, if not by others then frequently by ourselves, “Unless we can create that brilliant thing, and unless we can make it perfect, don’t bother.” And we forget that any good thing is almost always a result of a long, slow refinement of something that almost always starts ugly.

I think some of my quest from perfectionism comes from comparing my work to that work of the artistic genius David refers to. I will compare my beginner level work to that of someone who has been working for many years and feel bad because mine isn’t as good, so I give up instead of striving to make my work better.

However, as David has pointed out, that person’s good thing is “a result of a long, slow refinement of something that almost always starts ugly” but you don’t see that in the finished product and you don’t see everything that the person has done, their years of training and practice and mistake-making they needed to do to be able to create their brilliant thing. David puts it like this

Perfectionism is a childish response, itself imperfect, incomplete. It pouts in the corner when it can’t get something done “right” the first time and so it never learns the lessons of craft and character that come from wrestling the muse to the ground and making something of nothing.

(Speaking of putting in the work, I also enjoyed this article by Charlie Moss on the Digital Photography School website.)

David’s comment reminds me not to compare my ugly starting point with the beautiful end-product of someone who has been around a lot longer than me, knows a lot more than I do and has spent years mastering their craft. It reminds me that my ugly starting point is not my finished product, so the comparison to any finished work, let alone that of someone else, is completely invalid. And it reminds me that if I don’t start at that ugly starting point because I’m overwhelmed with feelings of inadequacy that arise from my work not being as good as that of the artistic genius, I will never achieve a beautiful end-product of my own.

20190628 Week 25 1

In the interests of embracing imperfection, here’s an imperfect photo of a beautiful sunrise on Friday, taken from the bus window

As one of my favourite people, Kendra Wright, says  “comparison kills creativity”. I love this expression and I try to bring it to mind whenever I start to feel like this.

Other things I read this week reminded me that it’s also important not to feel down on myself when I’m in this state of mind. Talking about comparison, Ali’s post says

If you find yourself struggling with feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and bitterness, it’s time to pause. Remember, these aren’t “sins” or character flaws; they are common human feelings that simply indicate how strongly you want something you don’t yet have.

Acknowledge the feelings without judgement. “Hmm. Interesting…” Then move on! Ruminating on it or shaming yourself or poking yourself in the eye do no good.

Acknowledging negative feelings without beating ourselves up about having the feelings was also a theme in an email from Cassandra Massey, who says

Feeling the bad emotions is not a bad thing. In fact, it’s a healthy thing to do. But most of us believe that when we feel bad, we should do something to make ourselves feel better.

But feeling the negative emotions, along with the positive emotions, is what creates a deep and fulfilling human experience.

  • When someone dies, it’s normal to feel sad and to experience grief.
  • When you don’t get the promotion or the house, it’s okay to feel disappointment.
  • When someone betrays you, it’s okay to feel resentment (at least initially).

The problem arises when we try to resist or avoid the emotion by doing something to make us feel better. Trying to get rid of the emotion with food, wine, or even by trying to stay positive, is very disempowering.

And often times, the emotion grows. Emotions don’t like to be ignored. We have them for a reason.

When you call allow yourself to process the emotion fully, you become empowered.

My takeaway from her post is to use these negative feelings to motivate you to take the actions that will get you to the point you want to be rather than doing things to numb the feelings with self-destructive behaviours.

That’s a lot to think about!

*Actually my Evernote files, which I refer to just as infrequently as I do to my extensive email library.

19 for 2019: week 24 update

Week of 10 June

This week was much better than the last few weeks have been. I got up every day and went for a walk. I count that as a win.

I also completed another of my 19 things! Yes!

I had to go to the GP and this time I remembered to ask about getting a skin check (thing 4) and she agreed it was a good idea. I got a recommendation from her about a good doctor and I phoned them the next day to make an appointment. When they said they had an appointment available the next day, I decided to just do it and get it over with rather than drag it out to next week. So I did it, had a great conversation with the doctor about where he gets his very cool socks from and learned that I should be using sunscreen a lot more.

This is a thing that has been on my list for six years. I now have a standing task in my to-do list to make an appointment every year as is recommended for people with my Celtic Princess complexion living in this unforgiving sunny land. It’s either that or move back to the land of my ancestors.

I watched seven of the photo course videos (thing 1) and completed two assignments in Lightroom (thing 19) with photos I took last year near Lake Pedder. I’m working through the last few photo course videos, which are all around using different functions within Lightroom. I haven’t learned a lot that I hadn’t already figured out for myself but it’s good to see that what I’m already doing is pretty much on the right track and I have picked up a few extra tips and tricks along the way.

20190610 Assignment 24 1

A foggy day in South West Tasmania, July 2018

20190610 Assignment 25 1

The Needles, July 2018

20190610 Assignment 25 2

Serpentine Dam, July 2018

I watched this week’s wellbeing videos (thing 6) and completed some of the exercises from a couple of weeks ago, including looking at ways to better support myself while I’m in this winter slump.

I stuck a couple more collages in my 2018 photojournalist (thing 11), I did some work on my photo project (thing 16) and I googled some manicure places to work out where I want to go (thing 17).

I finished a list of 100 things to put in the bucket list book (thing 18). I want to sit with it a bit to make sure there’s nothing I really want to do that isn’t on the list, or anything that’s on there I don’t really want to do. I know I’m overthinking this, because there’s nothing to say I can’t change anything on the list and I don’t *have* to do everything this week (or ever). It’s just an inspiration list and I’m sure I’ll think of other things to go in there along the way (which means I’ll just need to get another book!)

Status for week 24

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

19 for 2019: week 18 update

Week of 29 April

I went back to work this week. That always seems to take up an awful lot of my time for some reason!

I made some progress with 19 for 2019. I did some work on the photo course (thing 1); I watched two videos and completed one assignment. I have 12 assignments to complete. I’m waiting for something to arrive in the mail that will, I’m hoping, make at least one of those easier to photograph.

As the assignment I completed was a Lightroom assignment, I learned a couple of new things and had a few things explained that I was already doing but didn’t know why (thing 19).

I did a lot of reading for my wellbeing work (thing 6), which is probably not moving me a huge way forward but is still progress. I need to remind myself though that I need to actually take action on what I’m learning, not just collect underpants. (If you’re wondering what I’m going on about here, it’s a reference from the TV show South Park, which I wrote about in 2016.)

I stuck one collage into my 2018 photojournal and trimmed 11 more ready to stick in (thing 11). Small progress, but progress nonetheless.

And an update on thing 5, my reading challenge, which I’ve already finished. I finished another book this week and have now read 17 books this year, which is more than I read in the whole of 2018. This is almost entirely due to my habit of reading 20 (or so) pages every morning after my morning walk.

20190502 Time Travelling with a hamster edit

One of the best things about having a 12-year-old is they get cool books and let you read them

Status for week 18

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

Bored and Brilliant challenge 4: app addled

Previous posts on the challenge:

An idea came to me for a work thing while I was out walking without my phone. It works!

Today was the day to delete the app. The tough day that was coming . . .

That app.

The one that you use too much. The one you use to escape—too often, at the expense of other things (including sleep). The one that makes you feel bad about yourself. Delete said time-wasting, bad habit app. Uninstall it. (Bored and Brilliant page 107)

Woah!! Makes me feel bad about myself? That’s pretty full-on! I don’t think I have an app that does that.

I already knew what it would be without doing any of the tracking exercises in this challenge. (Yeah, it was my homescreen . . .)

For many people, it’s a game like Candy Crush or whatever the latest iteration of that is (I don’t play games so I have no idea what’s big in the world of games) and for others, it’s a social media app. Facebook, I’m looking at you. I deleted Facebook from my phone a long time ago and have been pretty good with regulating my use of it on my computer. There was a time I cheated and logged in on the browser on my phone but I realised that doing this wasn’t really addressing the issue of mindless scrolling and liking and getting sucked into things that drained my energy away from things I wanted to be doing. So far, since the last time I logged out of it about a month ago, I’ve been disciplined enough not to do that again.

So in the absence of Facebook, I turned to Instagram. I have three accounts. Straightlinesgirl is for my attempts at learning photography, where I follow a lot of professional accounts and people who share the same photography interests as me. Then there’s my Hobart Street Corners project, where I don’t follow anyone and don’t spend a lot of time other than posting my photos. The other one is almost a Facebook substitute. Most of the people I follow there I know so I see a lot of their photos I missed by not going on Facebook as much. But this feed has a lot less stuff I don’t want to see or am not interested in than what comes up in Facebook.

I do spend a lot of time on the app. (Observe my screenshot from last week. A lot of time.)20190330 Monemt screenshot_

My first instinct when I pick up my phone is to scroll to my last screen of apps and into the last screen of the folder I hid it in to make it harder to get to (hint: that doesn’t work if you want to reduce your use of an app), and scroll. Often through the same photos and often through my entire feed over and over just to make sure I’ve caught up with everything and not missed anything, even if I don’t spend a lot of time actually looking at the photos. I feel like I’m not getting a lot of value out of the time I spend on Instagram and it’s just a convenient way to occupy my mind for a few minutes when I have nothing specific I want to do.

My experience echoes that of Sandra, who is quoted in the book as saying “I check that app far much more often than I actually need to and I’m not even sure why.”

I think Instagram is a two-edged sword. On the one hand it serves as a platform where I can keep up with my friends in the same way as I would on Facebook, which is great. But it also instils in me this need to keep checking it to see if anyone has posted anything cool, or has commented on one of my photos or one of my comments on theirs. That is not what I want to be doing with my time. It’s fine, as long as I’m not on there multiple times a day.

In my other world, Instagram also shows me photos from people whose work I love and am inspired by that I may not have otherwise seen. But the sheer volume of photos is overwhelming and the app is set up to be fast-paced, to scroll, look and like, without taking the time to fully appreciate the photos. I mean, you look at them on a tiny screen so you are never going to experience them as a work of art, which many of the photos I like to look at are. It doesn’t do the photos justice. But then again, a phone rarely will. But even so, it’s not set up to encourage you to linger and look at an image for very long. And good luck trying to find it if you want to look at it again and consider a comment you might want to make after you’ve thought about it for a couple of days. (The save feature is a bit handy here, just saying.)

So . . .  Wednesday morning I sat down to do my meditation practice after my walk and decided that would be the fateful time. I hesitated and thought I should check my feed first, but I breathed deeply and didn’t think any more and deleted it. For good measure, I deleted Tweetbot as well because I knew that, in the absence of Instagram, that would be my go-to app, in the same way that Instagram became that app after I stopped going on Facebook. I can do without it for a while too.

20190403 No more social combo

Now you see it . . .  now you don’t

I know I’m not going to stay off Instagram forever, but I hope that a few days without it will help me reassess my relationship with it and set some boundaries about how (and how often) I use it, and what I allow into my head.

Just out of interest, since last week, the Moment app has recorded the following amounts of screentime. It paints an interesting picture.

Thursday: 4 hours 22 minutes

Friday: 5 hours 10 minutes

Saturday: 5 hours 6 minutes

Sunday (first day of no phone in transit): 2 hours 47 minutes

Monday (no phone in transit): 2 hours 9 minutes

Tuesday (no phone in transit, no photos): 2 hours 7 minutes (no photos didn’t make that much difference)

Wednesday: (no phone in transit, no Instagram): 1 hour 9 minutes (hmmm . . . )

Thursday (no Instagram, taking some photos): 1 hour 56 minutes

Friday (no Instagram but taking photos of a special event): 2 hours 59 minutes