Category Archives: health

20 for 2020: week 38

Week of 14 September 2020

My 20 for 2020 list. 20200915 New shoes editShiny new shoes

What did I want to do better this week?
Set myself a stop time for my uni work to give myself some wind down time before I start to get ready for bed.

So, how did that go then?
I didn’t work as intensely on the uni project this week so I wasn’t doing it all evening and I didn’t really need to do it this week. But it’s something to keep in mind for when things start to get a bit more hectic. I have four weeks before the project has to be completed and I have to hand in the report.

I’m also struggling to make picking out my “big rocks” for the week that I talked about last week and making time to do them during my weekly planning session. (“Planning session” sounds a whole lot more efficient that it actually is, by the ways.) I think because it’s new, it feels forced and awkward. I’m hoping if I make myself do it it will start to feel more normal and I’ll get used to doing it.

On to 20 for 2020
This week was all about uni (thing 8). My project, which is what my final assignment will be about, is now fully underway. The publicity is out there and people are starting to contact me about taking part. I’m not getting as much interest as I’d hoped for but I am getting people who I don’t actually know contacting me about it, which is cool. What I need to do is focus my energy now on putting together as much background as I can so that will all be written before my consultations get into full swing and I can then spend the last couple of weeks writing those up rather than fretting about the desktop research.20200918 Steven Walker scuplture at Long Beach-EditStephen Walker sculpture at Long Beach

What did I achieve this week? 
I’m keeping up to date with my weekly photo journal and my street corners project.

I wrote some briefing notes for my manager about something that I’m supposed to be working on but right now have very little idea about, so somehow managed to pull that together to make sense. I also sat in on a (virtual) meeting that she wasn’t able to attend and made some notes that she said were “very helpful”, thus demonstrating my ability to listen to conversations about things I know very little about and extract the key issues.

What didn’t go so well?
I think the weekly planning, scheduling focus time blocks and the packing up fall into this heading. I don’t think there’s anything else that I particularly struggled with.  That’s enough!

What do I want to do better next week?
I went to my physio on Friday with a couple of really niggling sore points. I’ve completely lost the habit of going on a walk in the afternoon after work and I’m not sure if the two are entirely unrelated. The physio suggested, among other things, that I need to move more, sit less and drink more water. So next week I want to focus on getting back into that walking habit. Along with better planning of my weeks and my days that includes a firm pack up and shut down time.

20200918 Long Beach Bathing Pavilion 3Curvy concrete

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 12 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 1 (8)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (7, 11, 13, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 4 (9, 12, 19, 21)
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 6
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 0
  • Days I was in bed by 10.30 (Goal = 7): 6

20 for 2020: week 25

Week of 15 June 2020

My 20 for 2020 list.

This week seems to have gone really fast with not much being achieved! My idea from last week of allocating time in the afternoons to work on my creative projects has been a bit hit and miss, mainly because I haven’t always been home in time to do the work. Or is it because I have prioritised other things over doing that work on those days when I’ve been out in the afternoons?

20200615 Hinsby Beach 3-Edit

Monday afternoon walk

I need to think about that a bit more.

We’ve been talking about return to work plans and I have tentatively come to an agreement with my manager about what I’m going to do over the next few months. I’m not sure when it’s all going to start but I will still be working from home most of the time, so I’m very happy about that.

After a full day assisting a family member with a medical issue on Wednesday, I got home just in time for this week’s uni webinar (thing 8). There has been a lot of interesting material but I don’t feel like I’m engaging with it very well at the moment. I have a couple more weeks before the assignment is due and I’m hoping that will tie at least some of the work together in my head.

I spent a lot of time over the weekend working on the assignment. The power helpfully went off at home on Saturday morning so I went to work to do it there. It’s weird seeing all the new signs and things that they’ve had to put in place to allow people to return safely to work in this new Covid-19 world. I don’t think things will go back to the way they were there for a very long time, if they ever do.

20200617 Chemist on Liverpool St 2

Masks, hand sanitiser and thermometers are the way things are now

I listened to a webinar from the wellbeing program that I have been working through (thing 3). What I like about this program is that it runs every year in exactly the same format (my structured brain loves this) so you can revisit the material over and over again if you want to. If you’re like me and love some structure, you can work through it week by week, taking whatever you need from it, which might be different each year. Or you can do nothing on it for weeks or months, and it will all still be there and you can go back to it whenever you want. Or if there’s a couple of things you want to refresh your mind on you can just dig back into to those classes and get what you need when you need it.

I missed most of the first two modules in “real time” because I was struggling with getting through the material from the last module of last year, which was the thing I wanted to complete this year. Now that I’ve finished that, I’ve started going back over the earlier material just to refresh my mind and grab any tips that I think I might need at the moment. One session that I caught up on recently was a session on transitions and change, which is great for me right now. It reinforces what I learned last week about just focusing on one thing at a time and letting go of what doesn’t absolutely have to get done in the period we’re talking about. The session looks more at transitions in terms of daily routines, like chaotic mornings when frazzled mums are trying to get kids ready for school, but the principles can apply equally to bigger, longer transitions or periods that feel unsettled because things aren’t quite “normal”.

20200621 Green bird in the yard 9-Edit

Visitors to the back yard

The main takeaways I got were to identify what absolutely has to get done, to make a plan for getting that stuff done and to reduce your expectations of what you can do in challenging times. So, much like I concluded last week, I can’t complete my uni work and a Photoshop course while I’m working pretty much full time and keeping my house running. If I try, I will do a half-arsed job at both. Far better to let the Photoshop work drop off while I complete this unit and then go back to it with my full attention in a couple of weeks. I’m feeling a lot calmer about everything now I’ve made that decision, even though the looming deadline is filling me with terror!

20200621 High tide at Hinsby Beach 02

Winter on the beach

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 10 (1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 14, 15, 16, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 1 (8)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (7, 11, 13, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 6 (2, 9, 12, 19, 20, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 4
  • Days I read a book: 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches: 7

20 for 2020: week 21

Week 21: Week of 18 May
My 20 for 2020 list.

After I handed my uni assignment in last Sunday (thing 8) I felt completely drained and flat and certainly not inspired to start thinking about the rest of the work and the next assignment, which I think is due at the start of July. I hoped I’d feel a bit better about it later in the week and got the readings for the rest of the unit together so they’d be ready to work on.

As it turned out, my week was pretty disrupted with three medical appointments, including one on Friday that left me needing to take the rest of the day off work, so I really didn’t settle myself down to refocus on this work until the weekend and even then I only managed to get through one reading.

The good news from my GP earlier in the week though was that the lumps and scrapes on my hand are not, as I’d imagined, the result of some creepy crawly living under my bed that comes out at night to bite me when I’m sleeping, but a specific sort of hand eczema that can be caused by excessive hand washing, soap, the cold, stress . . . whatever normally causes me to get an eczema flare up. I’m relieved that it isn’t a mysterious nocturnal predator slowly poisoning my body bite by bite, but also secretly disappointed, because that would be a kind of cool story to go into my isolation journal.

20200519 Concoction of potions 2 edit

Begone, itchy hands!

On the days I go out, I’ve been taking photos of things that show how the world has changed in the last couple of months. I think it will be interesting to look back on this in the future.

I’ve been trying to develop a more useful and regular mindfulness meditation practice, which I have been doing recently through a combination of different apps following a study I participated in last year through the Menzies Centre on mindfulness at work. About two months ago, I went back to the Insight Timer app, which I used to use every day and had built up a streak of over 500 days before I forgot one day and completely lost the habit. I was very disappointed in myself that one missed session was enough to kill a habit of almost two years. I have always struggled with the idea of focusing on my breath and, whenever I get distracted by a thought, bringing my focus back gently to my breath. So my daily three minutes “mindfulness” was mainly me struggling not to think. This week I started a new program that I’m using in conjunction with Insight Timer, which involves two 30-minute sessions every day. It’s a huge step up from slotting three minutes in sometime during the day when I think of it, and it’s not easy. It is frustrating and there are times I hate it.

The reasons for me doing this are long and varied and I don’t want to go too much into them, other than to say that developing a mindfulness practice is one element of my personal development plan that I completed in the second unit of my uni course and I hope that it will support me in dealing with some of the other things I identified in the plan. None of this is supported through the uni program. What I do with the personal development plan is entirely up to me, but I feel like now I’ve made the effort to put it together, I need to actually make it happen.

It’s too early to tell if the mindfulness program is going to benefit me and but I know that I need to commit to it and do it for several weeks to see any real effects.

So there’s that.

As well as doing my mindfulness practice in the mornings, I’ve been continuing to use the time after my morning walk to work through the Photoshop course (thing 7). It’s really exciting stuff and I need to actually break out of my bubble and start to do some of the things I’m learning.

I’m three lessons in to the second module and realised there is a lot of material I’ve been sitting there nodding at but not taking the time to sit down and practice. There almost seems to be a point right now in the course that is a really good time to actually do that before moving on. It’s almost like the instructor knows I haven’t been doing the work and wrapped up the video I watched on Saturday with a pretty clear instruction to stop consuming the content and start creating. (And if he didn’t, that is my brain putting that interpretation on it because it knows it’s time to do some work.)

20200523 Shattered dreams and broken 3 edit IG

Trampled dreams

I have this idea in my head that I need to get through the videos as fast as possible to finish the course and then go back and do the work later. But, of course, this isn’t like that. The videos build on the previous work, so if you haven’t done that, you’re going to get very lost and confused.

I do not need to finish watching the videos in any set time. There is no time limit, only the one my completionist brain insists on. But there’s no benefit in doing it this way. I need to work through the material and actually do it as I go and when I start to understand it, then I can move on to the next video. There’s no prize for getting through them all in record time. There’s no prize at all. And there definitely won’t be a prize for watching all the videos but not actually being able to use any of the techniques. I need to do the work. Now.

One thing I have learned from doing my uni course is that I actually do have time to sit down and do the work I want to do. I can organise my days to do this. Not having time is an excuse that really means I’m not prioritising things. I already knew this, by the way, but I have seen for a fact that I can sit down and focus on something. I also learned a bit more about procrastination this week and that ties in well with the Indistractable work (thing 13) that I still haven’t gone back to and finished . . .

I used my graphics tablet (thing 17) for all of 30 seconds this week before Photoshop crashed and I didn’t go back to it. 30 seconds is still progress, right?

And finally, following my raven reading theme, this week I read the book The Ravenmaster’s Boy by Mary Hoffman, a young adult historical fiction piece centred around the last days of Anne Boleyn.20200524 The Ravenmaster's Boy

Summary for the week

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

 

20 for 2020: week 17

Week 17: week of 20 April

My 20 for 2020 list.

This was another slow week for my 20 for 2020 list. There are some things I won’t be able to do while we are in death virus lockdown, such as getting my sewing machine fixed (thing 2) and going to a fermenting class (thing 19). The Bored and Brilliant challenge (thing 12) really needs me to be home alone so that’s going to have to wait too.

I reviewed the wellbeing classes (thing 3) I want to complete from 2019 on Sunday and started to work on some of the journalling exercises. I’ve also been maintaining my nightly reading habit (thing 14).

20200426 How to love Brutalism

This week’s reading

My uni course (thing 8) starts again on Monday, so that’s going to get resurrected very soon. I have no real excuse for not doing the work on Indistractable (thing 13) other than I just haven’t made time for it in my schedule. I’ve been working on editing some photos for another project now that I’ve completed my first project (thing 1) and that’s been taking up a lot of my time outside of work. Time I probably won’t have when uni starts up again, so I’ve been making the most of it.

This week was my first full week working outside of the office and I have to say I’m really getting used to this. I used to think that it was my job that was making me miserable and stressed but working in this different way has made me question whether it’s actually the job. I realised that when I go to work, my whole day revolves around work: either getting ready for work, getting to work, being at work, getting home from work or unwinding from work. With all of that in play, it wasn’t uncommon for work-related activities to take up 11 or 12 hours of my day. Add in seven hours for sleeping and a couple of hours for house and family stuff, there wasn’t a lot of time left over, and I never really felt like doing much in the afternoon/evening even if I did have some time because I was worn out after a day at work.

20200420 Abandoned Wrest Point 11

Wrest Point from a bus stop after a late appointment on Monday night

Fast forward to now where the amount of time I need to prepare for and recover from work has reduced. I get ready for work more quickly, I don’t need to travel to work and I finish work at either 2.30 or 3.30 because, not needing to travel, I can start at 8.00. Whereas in the old world, I’d not be home before 4.00 and sometimes closer to 6.00, and the last thing I’d feel like doing is going for a walk, now I finish work and I head out for a walk in the afternoon light to clear my head and close the door on work for the day. It really re-energises me and I actually feel like working on my own projects for a few hours when I get back.

20200424 Tree in Jenkins St 2

Beautiful afternoon light

Not only did my whole day revolve around work, the environment was not good for me. I was always uncomfortable and anxious in an open plan office designed for maximum occupancy than maximum productivity. Maybe some people like it; maybe some people do the sort of work that is suited to that kinds of environment. I don’t and my work isn’t. Away from that space, I feel calmer and more relaxed, even though the work has ramped up quite a lot because of the death virus.

The combination of not being in that environment and having more time away from work has meant that I am feeling more comfortable than I can ever remember feeling. I haven’t been getting headaches or a sore neck, even though I haven’t been doing my physio exercises (sorry, Tom), I’m sleeping better and I haven’t been running out of rooms in tears because I can’t take it any more. I delete the emails I get that tell me that I’m probably experiencing something between mild anxiety and full-blown panic right now. No, that’s how I felt before this happened. While I would never say I love my work, it seems clear that wasn’t the actual job that was making me unhappy; it was how I had to do it.

20200423 Tree at Taroona Beach 2

More beautiful afternoon light

Of course, as I said last week, I am so very lucky to be in a position where I still have a job and can do it at home, when so many don’t and can’t. Many people are on that spectrum between mild anxiety and full-blown panic. Unlike others, I don’t have to put myself in situations where I might be exposed to the death virus and nobody I know has contracted it. The circumstances that have made this way of working possible are not something I would ever wish to happen. I also recognise that things could change for me in a heartbeat, any day. But this is the situation that we’re in, and I can’t change it. I can only make the best of it and I’m grateful that I’m able to do that right now, in this moment.

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 16

Week of 13 April

My 20 for 2020 list.

20200418 Hinsby Beach 51

Saturday walk

This week was not one for a lot of progress on my 20 things. The only thing I did was reading (thing 14). I finished The Secret Commonwealth by Philip Pullman, which is the second in his Book of Dust series that follows on from the His Dark Materials trilogy. Books, and a world, that I love and I can’t wait for the final installment.

20200419 The Secret Commonwealth

Captivating read

I spent some time watching Photoshop videos but they weren’t from the course I actually am intending to complete (thing 7). Not to worry, they were useful and I learned a lot of tips.

I had a couple of nice days off for easter and then it was back to work: two days at home and one in the office. This year, I cut back on my bus travel a bit when I started riding my bike to work (thing 10) but the weather wasn’t so good on Thursday so I caught the bus. Here’s what I wrote afterwards.

20200416 Morning bus 3

Two buses waiting at the bus stop

This is a bus that I catch when I miss the earlier one that I prefer. It’s often a bit late and is always crowded and noisy, especially with the school girls singing up the back.

Since we’ve been required to stay at home, it’s been nothing like that.

First, they made bus travel free to give people time to get a greencard so they could pay their fares without cash. They cordoned off the front-most seats of the bus so no one could sit close to the driver.

Then they extended the free travel and made everyone get on the bus through the back door (to the delight of schoolboy humourists everywhere). The whole front section of the bus is out of bounds now.

These days, the buses are practically empty. They’re quiet and no one’s talking, let alone singing. The people who do get on sit as far away from the other passengers as they can get. The buses are early now, something I have only very rarely had to deal with on this route and am still not used to. Fortunately, the drivers are pretty good when it comes to spotting people who haven’t quite made it to the stop on time.

Before, when the buses were usually running late, they’d only stop at the “does not depart before” stop if someone was waiting, but now there’s no one waiting and they sit there for what seems like ages, often with the bus going the other way sitting at the stop on the other side of the road.

I took this photo out of the window from the back seat of an almost deserted bus waiting at the bus stop to remind myself was bus travel was like in April 2020.

I think it’s important to document my experience of this pandemic in the small ways like this, where something that is a very minor part of my day has changed so dramatically. What’s happening is something none of us have ever seen or lived through before and hopefully never will again. My experience will be different to anyone else’s experience, for a whole range of reasons: my life is different to anyone else’s, my circumstances, my personality, my job, my responsibilities and the effect this is having on people around me are all different, to name just a few. What I document will be different to what anyone else documents because I will live through this from my own perspective and my own filters, and the things I notice will be different to the things other people notice.

20200414 Everything is going to be okay 3

A sign on the fence st the park

While I’d prefer the world not to be shut down because of a global pandemic and I’d rather people weren’t getting sick and dying and that my friends weren’t out of work, there is nothing I can do about it. It is the world I’m living in right now. All I can do is observe, document what I see, treasure the fact that I am alive and well, and stay healthy, stay connected to the people close to me and stay at home.

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 14

Week of 30 March

My 20 for 2020 list.

Things continue to change in the world at a rapid rate as the covid pandemic wreaks havoc across the world. More and more people from my work are working at home as we are told to stay at home unless we absolutely have to go out for work, to get food or medical supplies or to exercise (alone or with no more than one other person). People are joking that the world of social distancing and staying home is something introverts have been doing for years, and I can relate to that.

20200401 Bus Mall 1001am

Deserted bus mall being cleaned. The construction work is still going on.

Adding a couple more days to my working from home routine is a welcome relief from the noisy open-plan office (which is remarkably not noisy now, because most people aren’t coming in any more). And the weird thing about that is, I have endured the noise for over two years and now it’s so quiet, it’s unnerving because it’s not supposed to be so quiet. And that makes it hard to concentrate. As opposed to weekends when I’ve gone in to study with no one there and been super-productive because on a weekend it’s meant to be like that. It gives me a real sense of unease to be in there at the moment and I’ll be relieved when I don’t need to go in there any more.

20200330 Macquarie & Harrington St 904am 2

Macquarie Street, Monday 30 March 2020, 9.04 am

However, working from home while there are other people there doing the same thing has its own challenges. It seems to make a big difference, just having other people in the house, to how it feels to be there.

20200330 Stay at home

Front page of the Mercury, Monday 30 March 2020

All very small problems compared to the scale of this issue and the chaos, fear and tragedy it’s causing across the world and I’m sure I will find ways to deal with it. I’m grateful that I still have my job and that my workplace is still a safe place to be.

While the schools were still open this week, they asked us to not send our kids if we were able to supervise their learning at home. With at least one parent at home every day, we were in a position to do that. Kramstable has been working on the material set up by his teachers this week, and I’ve been impressed by his ability to make himself a schedule, that includes breaks, and stick to it each day. School holidays will start a week early to give the schools more time to put learning resources online for next term. The school has been great with its communication and I am really impressed with the work everyone is doing to make this as minimally disruptive to the kids as possible. We’re in for an interesting time over the next few months adapting to new ways of learning.

20200331 Frilly pants edit

I can’t ride to work in these pants but they are brilliant house pants

I am trying to hold myself to as much of a routine as I can in this strange world, which means going on my non-negotiable walk every morning at 5.30 (or thereabouts), doing my 15 minutes of creative work, getting dressed, eating breakfast and having movement breaks during the day whether I’m working at home or in the office. I’ve started to add a morning mindfulness activity into the mix to try and keep myself more grounded but I think I might need to work this in a couple of other times during the day.

I’m rolling with my 20 things as best as I can. One of the big ones was completing 30 days alcohol free on Tuesday (thing 5). I did this in March last year for 19 for 2019 and went straight back to drinking almost as soon as I’d finished. I struggled with maintaining drinking in moderate amounts, in not drinking on weeknights, in not drinking late at night . . . and the result was I was feeling really down on myself for not being able to control myself better. I couldn’t understand why I could easily go without a drink for a month but then rarely go one night after that.

This time I did my 30 days in conjunction with the book The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace, which offers you new ways to think about alcohol, why you drink and whether alcohol is really giving you what you want.

20200402 The Alcohol Experiment

The Alcohol Experiment

I was reluctant to try this experiment because I was worried that the result might be I would never want to drink again and (at least I thought) I rather enjoyed drinking. I won’t say too much other than it has completely changed the way I think about alcohol and made me realise that I don’t really want to drink at all right now. Never is a long time, and Annie cautions against committing to never drink again for the rest of your life, so I won’t say I never want to drink again. But right now, especially right now when the temptation might be to drown out the fear and anxiety about what’s happening in the world with alcohol, I don’t want to drink.

The good thing about this book is it asks you to consider what you want to do after the 30 days, not just run you through the 30 days and leave you on your own, which I was when I did my alcohol-free month last year. Being more mindful and informed this year, I think I have a much better chance of not getting back onto that slippery slope that I fell onto last year. For now, I have made the decision not to drink.

20200402 St Davids Park 2

Autumn hasn’t been cancelled

I have been working on my photo project (thing 1) and I’m now into the tidying up stage of it. I’ve been reading before I go to sleep (thing 14), which is not my favourite time to read, but it’s the only time that’s working for me at the moment.

20200401 Walking

Reading about walking

I did a bit more work on my monthly review (thing 22) to try and work out my goals for April. I got a bit lost last week when I did it and am still not sure what I’m tying to do. I feel very unsettled and ungrounded at the moment but I think that’s probably a very common reaction to what’s going on in the world around me, and the fact that the world as I know it is very different to the world I was in this time last month.

20200405 Sunrise Taroona Beach

Walking alone is still allowed

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: #5
  • Things completed to date: 7 (4, 5, 6, 10, 15, 16, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 3 (1, 14, 22)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (3, 7, 8, 11, 13)
  • Things not started: 7 (2, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit this week: 7
  • Days I read a book for at least 15 minutes:  7

20 for 2020: week 13

Week of 23 March

My 20 for 2020 list: https://thesleepydwarf.wordpress.com/20-for-2020/

This week was a bit of a blur trying to get a grip on what’s going on in the world during the covid pandemic and what it means for me, my family, my work, Kramstable’s schooling . . .

20200323 Deserted Cat & Fiddle

Monday lunchtime in Hobart

My main focus aside from all of that was getting my uni assignment (thing 8) completed and submitted. I did my usual thing of writing far too many words and then spending a large amount of time trying to cut it back to something that resembled the maximum word limit (plus 10 per cent) but that still included everything I wanted to say. Much as it caused me angst, I knew I was going to hand something in. It got to the point where I was quibbling over individual words and I knew that the effort I was making wasn’t going to improve the essay in any substantial way, so I bit the bullet and handed it in. Bang. Done. I am now officially half-way through the course and I have a break for about a month before the third unit starts. Whatever that’s going to look like.

20200324 Hinsby Beach 42 edit

Tuesday afternoon reflection time

I spent 15 minutes every day working on my photo project (thing 1). I watched some of the Photoshop course videos (thing 7), and even tried to use one of the techniques, which, let’s just say, did not end well. I have a lot of practice to do!

20200328 Hinsby Beach 2 edit

Watching the clouds

This was week 4 of no alcohol (thing 5). Since I’m riding my bike on the days I go to work (thing 10), I don’t have time on the bus to read (thing 14) anymore, so I’ve been doing it before I go to sleep at night. It’s not my favourite time to read but, because I’ve been going to bed earlier, I can actually do it then. Maybe over the coming weeks I’ll be able to find another time that works better for me.

20200329 Tea break edit

Tea break instead of alcohol

Sunday was the closest Sunday to the end of the month so it was time to do my Unravel Your Year monthly review (thing 22). This had been a coffee shop ritual, but as the coffee shops aren’t allowed to serve anything on the premises now, I decided at least to stick to the ritual, get a takeaway coffee and do it at home. I don’t find it as easy to concentrate on things like this at home so I don’t think I did as good a job as I’d like to have and I didn’t really come out of it with any clear goals for April. I feel like my March goals (and sub-goals) are still a bit undone because so much has happened since I wrote them down and that I need to keep going with them rather than try and move onto the next thing.

That’s okay. I rather suspect I will have a lot of time to do that work in coming weeks.

20200326 Salamanca Place & Gladstone St 534pm 1

Salamanca Thursday home time

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 6 (4, 6, 10, 15, 16, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 6 (1, 5, 7, 8, 14, 22)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 3 (3, 13, 11)
  • Things not started: 7 (2, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 7
  • Days I scheduled (and did) 50 or 25 minute blocks of time to work on my projects: None.  Let’s face it, this isn’t working!
  • Days I read a book:  7

20 for 2020: week 10

Week of 2 March

My 20 for 2020 list.

20200308 Fallen

Fallen

On Monday, I started my alcohol-free month (thing 5). I did it in March last year as part of 19 for 2019 and decided to repeat it this year. A few weeks ago I came across The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace, which is subtitled “30 days to take control, cut down or give up for good”. I thought “30 day alcohol experiment” sounded better than “no alcohol for a month” so I decided to follow the program in the book for the coming month. Last year I did my month. It was easy, but I gradually slipped back into my old ways, which is not something I wanted to do, and was always a risk after reaching a goal without a clear plan on what I wanted to do afterwards. It means that I still stay up too late, I don’t get enough sleep and I am tired a lot.

The program outlined in this book shows you a new way of thinking about alcohol and “asks you to look a little close about why we drink, what we get out of it and whether it’s really the alcohol that’s giving us what we want”.

There have been some interesting things to think about and challenges to some of my beliefs, so it’s a lot to take in. I think the most important thing that I have learned is that it isn’t a lack of willpower that makes me reach for another wine when I really should have started packing up and getting ready for bed, and that treating myself with compassion for my past “failures” is going to be very important. I’m not very good at that.

The “lack of willpower is not the problem” theory also features in the book Indistractable (thing 13) and Nir Eyal suggests a similar compassionate approach towards yourself when you make a mistake.

I reviewed what I’ve done so far in the book and where I’m up to. I started to feel a bit overwhelmed about some the ideas because I know that they aren’t going to work for me. Scheduling time to reply to emails (chapter 15), for example, might not work in an organisation that relies on email for a lot of its “immediate” interactions. I do this a lot precisely because I don’t want to disturb people by going to talk to the face to face, but actually talking to them would probably save a lot of time when I get into those back and forth email conversations. So, okay, let’s not say never. I will give this a try.

I’m not sure about the stuff on work interruptions (chapter 14). I always thought that putting on headphones meant that you didn’t want to be disturbed but in my workplace, noise canceling headphones are essential to get any work done, not just the work you need to concentrate on because the noise is unrelenting, so people feel quite at liberty to come and talk to me. I think the only way to be truly uninterruptible is to go and work someplace else when you really need to focus. For me, it’s not just the noise, it’s the constant movement in my peripheral vision that keeps me constantly on edge and unable to concentrate, so I don’t even think putting a “do not disturb” sign on my computer would help that. I read somewhere that it’s like your lizard brain constantly scanning the environment for signs that something out there is about to attack you, so you’re always in this semi-alert state, ready to fight or flee if you have to.

I’ve picked a few things out to try rather than go full-on and implement everything at once. I think one important thing to be sure to have is a clear work space around me (chapter 19), which means no phone within reach and only the things I am working on in front of me. I’m very good at clearing the spaces off but not so good at keeping them clear. I let stuff pile up and then I spend ages clearing it off again instead of putting things where they belong in the first place.

20200305 Wet chooks 05 edit

Wet chickens are wet

Earlier in the year I made a STOP-START-KEEP list, which I hope is pretty self-explanatory. As I discover things I’m doing that aren’t serving me, they go into the STOP section, things I’m doing now that are working well are in the KEEP section and things I want to start doing, well you get the idea. I’m going to add a TRY column to this list for things I might want to start but are more of an experiment than a thing I definitely want to do.

I stuck some more photos from my 2019 photojournal into the book (thing 4) and trimmed all of the ones I printed last week ready to go in the book. I worked on my photo project (thing 1) and completed the last three modules of my uni course (thing 8). I watched a webinar from the wellbeing course (thing 3), which relates the journalling that I need to complete from last year to call this thing done for the year.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 5 (6, 10, 15, 16, 18)
  • Things I progressed: 7 (1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 14)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress:  3 (7, 11, 22)
  • Things not started: 7 (2, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit this week: 7.
  • Days I scheduled (and did) 50 or 25 minute blocks of time to work on my projects: None.
  • Days I read on the bus on the way to work (or another time for at least 15 minutes): 6.

 

20 for 2020: week 6

Week of 3 February 

School went back this week. I had the first two days off with Kramstable before I went back to work and he went back to school. I always find January a bit unsettling because there’s no real routine. I work longer hours at the start of January to cover some of the days leave I need to take at the end of January before school goes back, so my normal routines never quite fit the January days. Some of them are long work days and some of them are no work days when I spend time with Kramstable.

QNTI20200205 Waiting for Mark at school edit

Back to work colours

The family issue I’ve been dealing with has added an extra layer of complication into the mix, as has having to undergo a fairly extensive process of self-analysis for my uni assignment (thing 8) in only three weeks. The time I’d like to have devoted to this wasn’t available to me and I had to make use of the time I did have to do this as well as I could.

I spent several hours undistracted in at work on Saturday trying to complete the assignment and then I spent an excessive amount of time on Sunday being incredibly nit-picky to try and get the word count down. It was a frustrating process because every time I read it through, something else occurred to me that I needed to say that was relevant to the assessment criteria. I spent hours shuffling and reshuffling sentences and paragraphs until I had a story that flowed well and said everything I could reasonably expect to cover in 1500 words. Except that it was closer to 2000 words. By this stage, after two days, I couldn’t bear to read through it again and try to cut more out. Removing anything else would have disturbed the flow and lost important parts of my story so I decided to hand it in and accept any consequences for exceeding the word limit.

This was a self assessment and personal development plan and what I wrote relates well to other development work I’m doing, some of which made it into the essay and some of which didn’t. The stuff that didn’t make it in is still important and I’ve kept it to feed into my master development plan. (That sounds more impressive than it is, but I’m working on it.)

After the family issue and the intensity of the uni work, I’ve tried to re-establish “normality” by being more committed to the “just 15 minutes” of my creative work first thing after my walk. This week I did it every day, an improvement on last week’s two days. During this time, I worked on my photo project (thing 1) and on some other photos I wanted to edit.

I had a bunch of photo collages for my journal (thing 4) ready to print as a result of last week’s sprint to get all of 2019 finished last week and then forgot to take them to get printed on tightarse printing day, so they can wait for another day. In the meantime, I have eight collages already printed, so I trimmed them all down ready to stick in the book. Progress.

Setting up the studio (thing 11) isn’t as big of a thing as it might sound. I got a dodgy backdrop and lighting kit from eBay a while ago to experiment with portrait making. It also has a green backdrop that Kramstable is interested in for his videos. There’s only one or two places in the house where I can set it up, and it has to be packed up again when I’m done with it; I can’t leave it there all the time. So this week I moved a pile of stuff away from one of the potential setup areas, got everything out of the box and that was enough for now. At least I made space.

I had my hearing test (thing 16). Lots of things came out of it, including some issues that are related to my master development plan. It’s interesting that health issues in one area show up as problems somewhere else and the solution is not always as simple as addressing the presenting issue. As the audiologist said, everything is connected. Among other things, I was assessed as having a low noise tolerance, which explains why I always feel so anxious and tense when I’m in noisy environments—and “noisy” for me is a lot quieter than most people would consider “noisy”, so it doesn’t take much to trigger this. Not an ideal situation when work in an open plan office! The next step is to talk to my GP about how I can manage this.

It was a full-on week.

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

20 for 2020: week 3

Week of 13 January 2020

This was my last full week of work before school goes back so I am rather looking forward to some time off next week.

This week, I rang the hearing centre and booked a hearing test (thing 16). They didn’t have any appointment for the tests I need for three weeks but I’ve finally made the appointment, so this thing is now in progress after me putting it off for more than six months.

I read some more of my uni material (thing 8) and started work on some of the exercises. The unit officially starts on Monday and the first assignment is due three weeks later. So I think most of my effort is going to be directed at that for the next three weeks. I’m really excited for this unit because it focuses on self management and a lot of the material is stuff I’m already familiar with so I think I’ll enjoy this work.

I started putting my phone away when I’m travelling to work and have been reading on the bus instead (thing 14). In my quest to develop an evening routine (thing 3), I’ve started reading before I go to sleep most nights. So far this year, with these two new opportunities for reading, I’ve finished five books. Three of them, I started last year, but they are now out of the “reading” pile. You can find my reading list here.

Things went bit chaotic for a bit over the weekend and early in the week and I haven’t had a chance to listen to any more of the creative kickstart lessons (thing 3). I missed a few days of doing my “just 15 minutes” from that class where I sit down after my walk and work on my photo project (thing 1) but I got back on track later in the week.

20200113 Jaffa & T&G 3

Happy Monday!

I looked at my 196 hours that I figured out last week that I need to get everything I want to do done in a week from the Chapter 10 exercise of Indistractable (thing 13) and ran away screaming. Trying to work out what to let go of so I can do the things I really want to do.

Just about every productivity manual I’ve read says that if you want to get something done, you need to put it on your calendar and treat it like an appointment you might make with the doctor or a meeting you have to go to at work. This is great in theory, but I don’t work like that. I see “time block for photo editing” or “time block for meal planning and shopping list-ing” that I put in the calendar last week and if I don’t feel like doing it, I generally don’t. Same as setting an alarm to tell me it’s time to get ready for bed. I ignore it.

One of the suggestions in the creative kickstart class is that you identify the times you’re most creative and you put the time in the calendar to do creative things at those times. Which is also great in theory, but the times I find I feel I’m at my creative best, I’m either at work or I’m having to do something like cooking dinner that isn’t so easy to reschedule. As for other suggestions you need to schedule three to four hour blocks to sit down and do your work, believe me, there is nothing I would love to do more. But I work five days a week, I live in a house with other people who sometimes like to interact with me and for whom I sometimes have to do things like cook dinner. There isn’t a day during the week that I have three or four hours to devote to my work so this is never going to happen then. I’m sure I could structure my weekends better, but it hasn’t worked for me so far.

This whole scheduling time to do the things I love and that are important to me just isn’t working out for me.

By Saturday afternoon, I was feeling stuck and hopeless and ready to throw it all in. I walked out of the house, caught a bus to town and went to a location I love to photograph. 3pm Saturday is not a time I would ever “schedule” for creative work. The hours between 1pm and 4pm are my lowest hours of the day, I have no energy and am no good for anything. Yet there I was (after having a quick nap on the bus, which I’m sure the driver noticed and that’s why he stepped extra hard on the brakes at one of the stops), at my lowest time of the day, going out and doing what I love to do.

I have to rethink this one and remember that I only have to take from these programs the things that will work for me. I don’t have to do everything and I don’t have to do it perfectly. I have to do something and hopefully by taking small steps, I will start to see positive change.

The same goes for the wellbeing work (thing 3). The course rolls around every year and you can dip in and out, taking what you need at the time. Last year was the first time I listened to all of the classes (well actually I finished them in the first week of January this year). I didn’t do all of the activities but I did the ones I needed to at the time. Right now I am still trying to set up an evening routine, which is an activity for the middle of the year. I have a couple of journalling tasks left over from the end of last year that I want to do to close the circle on 2019’s work and, when I’ve done that, I will call this thing done. I’ll continue to listen to the lessons each week and pick up some of the work I didn’t do last year, but for the purpose of this thing, I specifically wanted to complete the last module and those exercises.

Finally, to scrape in progress in one more thing this week, I worked on a couple of photo collages from my 2019 photojournal (thing 4). I only have four more collages to actually make (and three from this year), then I have to print them and stick them in the book. I’m nowhere near as far behind with this as I was with my 2018 journal.

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