Category Archives: commitments

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)
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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)

19 for 2019: week 14 update

Week of 1 April

After my massive week of achievements in week 13, I wasn’t anywhere near as productive in week 14 with my 19 for 2019 list. In fact, I can count the things I progressed on one hand. One finger, even.

Status for week 14

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

Not to worry, I have the whole year to finish the 11 unfinished things and I can’t expect to do everything at once.

Besides, I’ve been busy with the Bored and Brilliant challenge. Well, I’m not sure if that’s actually an excuse. After all, the point of that challenge is to get me off my phone to give me more time to come up with creative ideas and get things done. I’ve not been on my phone as much as I had been before I started the challenge, but I’m not sure I’ve done anything super productive with the time.

It did make me think maybe I could add some bonus things to my 19 for 2019 list for significant things I do over the year. That would give me a nice picture at the end of the year of some of the big things I did.

So what did I do instead of my list?

Well, I wrote three blog posts about Bored and Brilliant, I went for a whole day without taking any photos and I deleted Instagram (and Tweetbot) off my phone.

20190403 No more social combo

Now you see it . . . now you don’t

I visited the Plants of Tasmania Nursery with my sister.

20190406 Plants of Tasmania Nursery edit

Plants of Tasmania Nursery at Ridgeway

I went to a local living festival in our area.

20190407 Lunch from Honey Child 2

Smoky Creole goodness from Honey Child’s Creole Corner

I went to a union stop-work meeting

20190403 Stop Work

Public sector unions stop-work meeting at City Hall

and I got my poor old teddy bear repaired.

20190402 Pandy back from the Dolls Hospital

He got his leg stitched up and some extra stuffing but I left his nose because that’s his ageing personality

Plenty of things to do!

19 for 2019: week 13 update

Week of 25 March

On Sunday I completed the month without alcohol challenge (thing 13). I went for a whole month without a drink. Yay me!

I’ve written a lot about doing this over the month and I’m not going to go over it all again other than to say I feel a whole lot more energetic, I get tired earlier and go to bed earlier, which was my goal for the month. I also lost somewhere between 3.5 and 4.5 kilos, depending on which day I weighed myself.

I was listening to the Happier podcast over the weekend, where Gretchen Rubin and Liz Craft were discussing, conveniently, giving up something for 30 days.  Liz mentioned that she had given up alcohol for 30 days. She said that she felt she was drinking a lot of wine mindlessly so she decided to eliminate it, and that if she decided to bring it back in, she would be more mindful and less habitual about it. She considered it a good way to break the habit and see how she felt without it.

Something Gretchen observed was that people give up something for a period (like 30 days) as a way to get into a new habit of not having that thing and that the 30-day “without” period helps them to rethink their patterns associated with the old habit. But she also found that sometimes people give up something and think they have created a habit whereas, in reality, they have just achieved a goal, that is, the month. And that if they want to keep going it’s harder, because having reached the goal they have to start again, which she suggests can be harder than the initial abstinence. To avert this, Gretchen says you need to think of the month as a milestone in a bigger change that you’re making, not as an end goal.

In the chapter on rewards in her book Better than Before, Gretchen discusses this topic and she observes that “the real test of a 30-day blast is what happens on day 31”. She recommends that if you do this type of thing with a view to kickstarting a new habit, you should decide in advance what you’re going to do to keep the habit going after you’ve reached the milestone.

Last time I gave up alcohol I hadn’t thought about this at all and day 31 was Friday and there may have been a very large can of a product I very much enjoy consuming waiting for me . . . and it ended at 30 days.

This time, day 31 was actually day 32 and it was Monday and I’d already decided that I’m going to reinstate the habit I’d been trying to bring in for many months of not drinking on a school night. Like Liz, I want to be more mindful about drinking and make a deliberate choice about when I am going to do it, and how much I will drink, not just sit down at night and fall into that deadly trap of drinking and Youtube.

I have some more to write on this over coming days but right now I know the first danger time will be the day I decide to have my first drink.

This week’s numbers:

Day 25 (Monday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,2447 | Bedtime: 9.55

Day 26 (Tuesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 16,292 | Bedtime: 9.55

Day 27 (Wednesday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 17,474 | Bedtime: 9.30

Day 28 (Thursday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 22,208 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 29 (Friday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 18,485 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 30 (Saturday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 15,707 | Bedtime: 10.00

Day 31 (Sunday): Alcohol: 0 | Steps: 20,645 | Bedtime: 10.00

With that step count, I finished the Cancer Council’s March Charge fundraiser with a grand total of 373 km for the month (73 km over my target distance) and I raised $420.62. And I achieved my goal of going to bed before 10.30 every night. Now there’s one I really have to keep an eye on maintaining!

I didn’t make a lot of progress on other things, but here’s what I did in week 13.

Thing 6: Wellbeing: I made a cabbage salad to have for lunch (actually that was last week). It was really good. Will do again. I added quinoa to it this week.

Thing 12: 33 Beers: Complete. I finished Book 10 and added in the beers I have tried in book 11 for a total of 345 beers. The idea is if I’m out somewhere and want to know if I’ve tried a beer before I can look it up on my fancy Google spreadsheet and find out.

Thing 19: Lightroom: Still using it.

Status for week 13

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

Bored and brilliant challenge 2: out of sight

Previous posts on the challenge:

Challenge 2 of the Bored and Brilliant experiment is called ”Keep your devices out of reach while in motion”. This means exactly what it says. You’re supposed to keep your phone out of view, including not listening to anything on headphones, any time you’re in transit, which includes driving, on the bus or walking down the street.

According to the book, the idea is that your mind is not doing nothing; rather, the times you are travelling are great times to just let your mind wander. The book refers to a conversation with “boredom expert” Sandi Mann, who said she switched off during her morning commute and found she would often come up with new ideas during those times.

The book says that we may think of times when we’re in transit as “unproductive, inefficient or lost if we’re not checking our mail or doing other tasks” but that letting your mind wander instead can be “refreshing”.

It beefs up the challenge a bit by suggesting you take the time you save by not looking at your phone on your travels to notice five things you’ve never noticed before. So that seems to me like it’s bringing some mindfulness into your day to replace phone use. Sounds good to me.

Here’s what happened on day one (Sunday). I had agreed to meet my sister on the way to an event we were both going to so she could give me a lift the rest of the way. I’d calculated it would take me about an hour and a half to walk to the meeting point so I left home at 8am, which I thought would give myself a bit of extra time. Normally walking this route I’d have my phone out some of the time, I’d probably check instagram and twitter a couple of times, maybe listen to a podcast or two and take some photos. But I’d also do a lot of the walk without the phone.

I thought it was a bit ironic that it was a podcast that actually got me into reading this book, after I’d just go back into listening to podcasts when I was out walking after a 15-month break, and now I couldn’t listen to any more because of this challenge. Walking is generally the only time I listen to podcasts.

So, with my phone dutifully stuffed into my bag, I set off.

20181028 Long Beach bathing pavilion 1

I usually take photos on my walk. Here’s one I might have taken if I had been using my phone in transit. It’s actually from October 2018.

I didn’t think about much at all really. I spent a lot of time looking at the cars going past and noticing how many of them had only one occupant. It made me think what a terribly inefficient transport system the car is. It takes so many resources to build a car and then even more more to run it and maintain it, all of which does untold damage to the environment and the planet, all to move one person from one place to another. And most of the time, most cars just sit on the side of the road or in a garage or car park, completely useless. There has to be a better way to move people than destroying the planet in such a way.

After these deep thoughts, for the rest of the walk I was wondering how I was going to get to my sister on time. I realised I’d planned my walk time for a different route than the one I actually needed to take. I didn’t end up going the way I’d thought I would go and was on the road that ran parallel to the road I had to meet my sister on. As I was walking on the wrong road and the time got close to the meeting time I realised I was going to run out of time and I needed to get to the right road sooner because my sister had said she’d drive along there if I wasn’t at the meeting point on time to find me.

But, if I wasn’t on the right road she’d miss me and then she’d call me to find out where I was and I’d fail the challenge because I’d have to answer!

I knew some of the side roads joined the two roads but I didn’t know which ones were the most direct roads and which ones would take me longer. If I’d had my phone I could have found out very quickly on Google maps (phones in transit are not bad!) but I was determined to stick with the challenge so I resisted the urge and turned up a street I knew would get me there. It was very steep and it actually took me backwards onto the road I needed to be on so it wasn’t a good choice, but I preferred that to one that might have been even worse, or more convoluted, and taken even longer.

At least I was on the right road at this point so, if I didn’t make it to the meeting point, my sister would be able to find me without me having to pull out my phone and tell her where I was.

It got to a couple of minutes before our meeting time and the phone rang. (I know this because even though it was in my bag on silent, it’s attached to my Fitbit, which alerts me to when I get a call. There is no escape from the phone.) It was her. I was not within sight of the meeting point. What to do?

I knew I was close so I ignored it. The phone rang again. I ignored it and sped up. It rang again!!!

I was remembering how, in the By the Book episode on this challenge, Kristen had been going home to get ready for some friends coming over and someone kept calling her while she was on the subway, so she couldn’t look at the message or respond. There was a delightful frenzied exchange she went through with her husband, Dean, wondering if it was the people coming over trying to message her and if it was an emergency or if they had questions about the party.

This was me right then!

Dean, not in the slightest bit worried, responded with: “then let’s pretend it’s 1982. They’ll wait until we get to a phone . .  as soon as we stop we’ll be able to call them . .” Of course, there was no emergency, the friends turned up to the party and everything was fine.

And so too with me, everything was fine. My sister found me just a block from where I was supposed to meet her about two minutes later, we made it to the event on time and, although I had picked up the phone, I didn’t actually use it.

I totally understand how Kristen felt on the subway that day!

Challenge two: success.

Water, water and more water

On Tuesday I wrote about how I was going to attempt Chris Bailey’s water experiment that he wrote about in The Productivity Project. Chris gave up coffee, alcohol and soft drink for a month and drank only water. A lot of water. He says he drank four litres of water a day and nothing else. As far as I can see, he doesn’t say specifically that drinking nothing but water (and a lot of it) gave him more energy; it was more that cutting out the other drinks did. He discovered that for him, four litres was what he needed. He suggests that if you drink three (women) or four (men) litres a day you will be “surprised at how much energy you have”.

My challenge was to increase my water intake to three litres a day for the last week of my no-alcohol challenge to see if Chris’ hypotheses that doubling my water intake would make me feel better.

It actually wasn’t hard to drink that much, and even more, water, especially when I wasn’t drinking anything else. I always drink 500 ml when I wake up and am usually thirsty when I get back from my walk, but don’t usually drink anything then. So it was easy enough to add in another 500 ml when I got home from my walk. One litre before 6 am. Easy.

I have a one-litre water bottle at work and most days last week it wasn’t difficult to fill it twice during the day, which made up the remaining two litres. At home, most days after work I also indulged in carbonated water with lemon juice. Yeah, I know. Not quite the same as a late afternoon cider but very refreshing.

I’m surprised at how easy it was to drink three to four litres a day when previously I often struggled with two. It was almost like the more water I drank the more I wanted to drink.

Interesting.

I’m not sure if I can say after a week that drinking more water increased my energy. I certainly didn’t have any more energy last week than I did in the previous two weeks when I started to notice an impact from the other things I was doing. I’m sure that drinking less alcohol has increased my energy, as has getting more sleep, and I think the two things are related.

However, I think there’s a point during the afternoon or early evening when you need to stop drinking water or you’ll find yourself waking up at stupid hours in the morning needing the bathroom and being unable to get back to sleep. And when that happens and you’re back to the five or six hours of sleep you were getting before the no-alcohol month, all the benefits of going to bed earlier are wiped out and you have a lot less energy the next two days until you get so tired you crash and eventually get a full night’s sleep.

Or maybe that’s just me?

I know there’s lots of ideas floating around on how much water you need, the potential side effects of drinking too much water, what happens if you don’t drink enough . . . it gets very overwhelming trying to work out what’s right! I think the key is to figure out what works for you and that might be different on different days depending on what you’ve been doing, the weather and a heap of other factors I can’t think of right now.

For me, I don’t think that drinking more than two litres of water a day (and nothing else) had any real benefits so I’m not going to make any real effort to continue to do it. If I want a herb tea or a brewed cacao drink I’ll have it. If I want water, I’ll have that. If I want a beer, well . . . stay tuned for more on that.

Bored and brilliant challenge 1: digital overload

You can find the introduction to the Bored and Brilliant experiment here.

The first challenge in the Bored and Brilliant experiment is simply to observe your phone usage and to think about what you want to get out of the challenge.

The brains behind the experiment, Manoush Zomorodi, suggests downloading the Moment app, which tracks how much time you spend on your phone. It tells you how much time you spend out your phone and how many time you pick it up during the day.

I think somewhere is a stat that says the average screen time across users of the app is 3 hours 10 minutes per day and the average number of pickups is 41. I was inclined to bet that I use my phone for more than three hours and pick it up a lot more than 41 times.

The first couple of days I used the app, it set itself to pause during the day for some reason so I’m missing several hours data for those days. Despite that, what it tells me is this:

  • Monday: Pickups: 7, Screen time: 3 hours 4 minutes, with about an hour and a half missing.
  • Tuesday: Pickups: 14, Screen time: 3 hours, 13 minutes, with three hours missing.
  • Wednesday: Pickups:14, Screen time: 3 hours 10 minutes
  • Thursday: Pickups: 15, Screen time: 5 hours 1 minute.
  • Friday: Pickups: 8, Screen time: 5 hours 58 minutes (to be fair, I was using Google Docs for an hour to take notes at a meeting. . . )

I’m not convinced of the accuracy of any of this. For example, it tells me I was on my phone for 141 minutes from 3pm to 6.20 pm on Friday, which is completely untrue because for part of that time I was watching a movie in another room. And on Wednesday, apparently I used my phone for 10 minutes while it was at home and I was at a yoga class. So it’s tracking something that’s working in the background that is contributing to this.

I’m also sure the pickup numbers are way too low but I’m not sure how it identifies an individual pickup. And it refuses to accept that my battery screenshots are for 10 days, not 24 hours, which it asks for, and so it won’t tell me my app usage. So I’m a bit frustrated with the app.

(I did give it one more chance to track my app usage and it came up with this, which I still don’t think is right . . . see my note above about Google Docs . . . and what’s with all those 16 minutes apps? That seems a little odd to me.)

20190330 Monemt screenshot_

I think we have a clear winner for the app I use the most 

I’m finding the battery setting in my phone’s settings is actually more helpful in terms of telling me how much I use my phone and which apps I use the most—or, more accurately, which ones use the most battery. This becomes relevant a bit later on in the experiment. This tells me over the last 10 days I had an average of 4 hours 27 minutes screen time.

Whatever I look at, it tells me I’m on my phone A LOT and makes me ask whether there’s scope to reduce this and do something else instead, which takes us to what I want to get out of doing this challenge. I think for starters I want to reduce the times I pick up the phone and mindlessly scroll through an app (mainly Instagram), both when I’m not doing anything, as well as for no reason when I’m doing something else. (Picking up your phone at random while you’re doing another task is mentioned in the book but I can’t find it now.) In the case of the former, I could be using that time to think or read or do a small task that I have on my to-do list that I never get around to doing because I don’t have enough time (ahem). In the latter, it’s a case of losing concentration on the task I’m supposed to be doing, so I want to strengthen my “focus muscle”.

I don’t necessarily want to reduce my phone use when I’m using it as a tool—I use it for my meal planning and shopping lists, for writing my journal, for editing photos and things that actually contribute to me doing things I want to do. I don’t want to cut back on that. But I often find when I’m doing those things I can often flick over to the apps that tend to be more time-sucking. I want to become more aware of that and cut down on that too.

So there we go, challenge 1 complete. Bring on challenge 2!