Category Archives: learning new stuff

20 for 2020: week 37

Week of 7 September 2020

My 20 for 2020 list. 20200910 Mr Ogilvie masked up

Mr Ogilvie’s Covid outfit

What did I want to do better this week?
Following the training course I went on last week, I wanted to use some of the things I learned to streamline my weekly and daily planning and review processes.

So, how did that go then?
I find making myself sit down and do a weekly review really forced and I struggle with getting distracted and trying to do things that I identify during the process instead of adding them to the to-do list and focusing on just doing the review. This ends up making it take ages and is probably one of the reasons why I don’t like doing it. So I guess the goal is to be more disciplined, to know what I have to do and to do only that in the time I’ve set aside to do it.

On to 20 for 2020
On Monday afternoon, I got my mark for my assignment (thing 8) that I had submitted on Sunday. I am impressed with that for speedy turnaround. I wasn’t completely happy with the mark but the facilitator told me I had put too much in (who would have thought I could ever do that?!) and that what was supposed to be a proposal was starting to look like the beginning of the project.


On the positive side, it means I’ve done some of the work for the final report that I now don’t need to do again. 20200912 Paul Kelly book

I finished reading this book this week.

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

20200910 Harrington & Macquarie St 742am

Harrington Street Thursday morning

One of the ideas that I got from the training course I did a couple of weeks ago was making time to just think. Actually scheduling time to sit and think, and being comfortable with not doing anything, especially not checking your phone. It relates a bit to the Bored and Brilliant challenge (thing 12) that I started last year (and still haven’t finished).

The presenters suggested to find something you already do and add “thinking” in to that as a way of starting. So it could be exercising without music, or going to the coffee shop without your phone. I decided to make my morning walks tech-free as a way of starting this exercise. I reset my “morning walk” habit in my habit tracker to zero. I mean, tracking a habit that I have done every day for the past (I’ve forgotten how many) years and that I don’t skip on is a bit meaningless now. So the incentive to get back to 100 per cent will be a lot stronger now that it says zero, and having to go out without the phone will make me be more mindful about checking off the habit.

What didn’t go so well?
This packing up at 10.00 thing I want to do. I’m finding that now, because I’m working on my project most nights and doing what I used to do, which is turn off the computer, get ready for bed, read in bed and fall asleep, isn’t working for me now. Because I’m focusing on the project until the time I turn the computer off, I’m not giving my mind time to wind down so I’m finding it harder to fall asleep. Previously, when I was working on photos or journalling last thing before I turned the computer off, the part of my mind that wants to stay awake wasn’t being stimulated as much and I could quite easily fall asleep. So I think what I need to do is to set a time to stop work on the project and, even if I have the computer on, I need to be doing things that use a different part of my brain that help it wind down rather than keep it alert and focusing on the project.

That’s the theory anyway.

What do I want to do better next week?
What I just said!

20200911 Leaf on the ground 1A traffic light leaf

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): 2
  • 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): 5

20 for 2020: week 36

Week of 31 August

My 20 for 2020 list.

What did I want to do better this week?
Go to bed on time. 
Have a proper lunch break

So, how did that go then?
I mean, it’s not like I’m going to bed near midnight or anything. Except on Saturday night. And the four days this week I wasn’t in bed by 10.30 I’d been working on my uni assignment, so it’s not like I was spending the night vagueing out on Facebook or anything like that.

However, I went back to my list of “rules” I made for myself at the start of the course, and right up at the top is “protect your sleep”. I had made a promise to myself I wasn’t going to stay up late to get this work done. Sleep has to a priority for me and it currently really isn’t. Ideally, I’d like to go to bed with enough time to do my reading before 10.30—otherwise what would be the difference between reading in bed until 10.45 or staying up reading and going to bed at 10.45?

So next week, I’m going to start packing up at 10.00 instead of 10.25. Or 10.30. 

And I didn’t do the lunch break thing.

Tuesday clouds

On to 20 for 2020
My sole aim this week was to finalise my workplace project proposal (thing 8) and submit it on Sunday. It’s worth 40 per cent of the mark for the unit, so I wanted to make sure I did a reasonable job of it. 

I met with my project sponsor (we have to have one of those) this week to go through my draft and I got some very encouraging feedback about how well I had refined it after our initial discussion a couple of weeks ago. 

The main thing I was struggling with was identifying which of the plethora of tools we had been learning about would be most relevant to my project, as part of the assignment was to outline how I was going to use the tools in my analysis and recommendations. My sponsor wisely pointed out that what I think I might use might not actually be that useful when I get the information I need to analyse. She suggested it might be better to identify just a couple of tools now that I’m fairly sure will be useful and reserve the right to use others as it becomes apparent that I need them, rather than include a whole bunch of things that I don’t end up using. This makes sense to me, though I don’t know if it will satisfy the unit facilitator when she’s marking it.

On the other hand, the assignment is limited to 1500 words, and there’s only so much I can include in that limit!

After a solid weekend of work (punctuated by a small shopping trip and a Father’s Day lunch), I got it done and I submitted it on Sunday night. I’m not going to tell you that after I had shut my computer down (at 10.15) and was getting ready for bed, I thought of something I should have done differently . . . and turned everything back on (a tedious process that takes ages) to make a small change, which, once I’d done, I realised was going to need more work than I had time to do, and I turned everything off again and went to bed.

What’s done is done.

A view for not much longer

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

I attended a training course called Priority Samurai, which was, as you might imagine, about setting priorities. There wasn’t a lot of material in the course that I wasn’t familiar with, but the course presented it in a different way that helped me to understand how I could actually use it in my weekly and daily planning. I think it will be really helpful, especially in the very intense period I’m in right now with the assignment. 

What didn’t go so well?
Bumping a random key combination on my computer that closed my project plan after three hours of work that I hadn’t saved. On the positive side, I learned how to recover a document that you haven’t saved . . . .

What do I want to do better next week?
Following the training course, I want to use some of the things I learned to streamline my weekly and daily planning and review processes.  And I want to make having a proper lunch break away from my work a habit.

Today, I dressed to match the flowers on the ground

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: 2
Days I read a book: 7
Days I did yoga stretches: 0
Days I was in bed by 10.30: 3

20 for 2020: week 35

Week of 24 August

My 20 for 2020 list.

Watching a big crane being dismantled

What did I want to do better this week?
Go to bed on time. 

So, how did that go then?
Not too bad. I missed one day, and there was one day where the clock said 10.31 and my Fitbit said 10.30. I think the idea is to be in bed before 10.30, so I’m going to try and shift my packing up time back a bit and to try getting in my head that 10.00 is “start to pack up things” time, not “try and rush a few more things in before 10.21” time. There is a feature on my computer that I could use that automatically shuts it down at a certain time but I’ve been reluctant to try that out. I’ll see how the 10.00 mindset shift goes next week. 

On to 20 for 2020
My new sewing machine (thing 2) arrived on Wednesday. The thing is done. It doesn’t matter that I don’t have any time to use it right now. It’s there fore when I do. 

After more than two years, I have a working sewing machine

This week was the final uni workshop for my course (thing 8). It was great to catch up with my classmates again and to go through the material face to face. It was an absolutely exhausting week. There was a lot to take in and my job now is to work out which bits are going to be relevant for my workplace project. I have a week to finalise the plan and have it signed off at work and then it’s time to get stuck into the work.

I did my monthly “Unravel Your Year” review (thing 22) on Sunday.

Selfies outside Centrelink

What did I achieve this week? 
Nothing I can really point to. I made time to work on some photos for my street corners project and I’m keeping up to date with my weekly photo journal. In the interests of not over burdening myself while I’m working on my uni project, that’s all I really expect myself to be able to do. If things start to get really hectic i a few weeks, I’ll reconsider whether I can left those things drop for a while and catch up later. I don’t want to because I hate being behind and editing photos is a nice break that gets me out of the work headspace I’m going to need to be in to get this work done. I think I will actually need this creative time to stop me overwhelming myself. 

What didn’t go so well?
Being organised enough in the evening to pack up without rushing. 

What do I want to do better next week?
Focus on sticking to my 10.30 bed time. I want to start packing up with enough time to actually be in bed before 10.30 rather than leaving myself less than ten minutes and rushing to get into the bedroom while the clock still says 10.30.

Continue to stick to my day plans and try to be more consistent in the afternoon. I didn’t do it this week because I was at the workshop but I’m going to try taking a proper break in the middle of the day to give myself time to regroup and refocus on what I need to do in the afternoon.

Watching the clouds

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 34

My 20 for 2020 list.

Monday beach walk

What did I want to do better this week?

  • Go to bed on time.
  • Plan my days and stick to the plan. This will be really important over the next two months as I complete my uni work.
  • Abandon the idea of 15 minutes creative time every day and find two time blocks within the week when I can work on my creative projects.

So, how did that go then?

It went well! I was in bed no later than 10.32 every night. I think I need to start packing up slightly earlier that I have been though, so I don’t find myself jumping in to bed at 10.30 and getting changed into my PJs in bed just so I’m in bed before the clock ticks over. (Yes, I really did that one night.) That is really lengthening the bow. Even five minutes earlier would be enough.

I have been doing a lot better at planning my day and sticking to the plan. At least for the first half of the day. By the end of the day I’m getting tired and am less likely to do it. But I’ve made progress.

And I feel a lot less guilty for not doing 15 minutes of my art every day now that I’ve decided to stop trying to do that. I achieved my goal of doing two longer sessions during the week and together they added up to a lot more than the hour and three quarters I would have done if I’d just stuck to the 15 minutes (that I wasn’t doing anyway).

Friday waterfront walk

On to 20 for 2020

I picked up the book Indistractable (thing 13) again this week and had a flick through to see where I was up to.

“Up to” implies I’ve been systematically working through it and doing everything it says. I haven’t. I’ve randomly implemented ideas that I think will work for me rather than try to religiously stick to doing everything in the book chapter by chapter. Some of the chapters aren’t relevant to the situation I’m in and some of the things I’m already doing.

This is especially true for work now that I work from home four days a week. A lot of the interruptions I used to get just don’t happen any more and we don’t have as many meetings as we used to.

One of the things that has been causing me issues though is work email. I manage a shared email box that gets a lot of requests for information from other areas, often at short notice. Most of the requests are things I have to send to other people rather than being able to deal with myself, which means a lot of things on my task list require me to wait for someone else rather than being able to do them myself. I’m not good at waiting. If something’s an open loop like that, I like to close it as quickly as possible, so I struggle with sending stuff out and not knowing when I will get a response. I get quite anxious and unable to settle to focus on other things because I’m always thinking about what’s in the emails.

I know this is something I do to myself and I’ve been working with my manager and colleagues to find ways to manage this better. One of the things I’ve started doing, which is partly based on chapter 15 of the book, is to actually schedule blocks time for checking emails and dealing with them so that the emails don’t leak through my entire day. This means I can also schedule larger blocks of time during the day to work on my projects undistracted, knowing that I will get to the emails at regular times.

So far, it’s working well.

Farewell to the Parliament Square crane

I had a win on my uni project (thing 8). I had submitted my draft proposal to my facilitator last week without knowing if I had any support from work to do it. This week, I met with the relevant senior manager to talk about it and she gave me the green light to go ahead as long as I can do it in a way that addresses the concerns that she identified. (She actually talked to her boss about it before she spoke to me. I won’t be sneaking this one in under the radar. It is Out There now.) She’s going to work with me to help me develop a project that meets the needs of the program, is of value to the workplace and is doable in eight weeks. As a former graduate of the program, she understands what’s needed and I think she will be a good sponsor for the project.

I got feedback on my draft proposal from the unit facilitator on Monday. She raised some issues I’ll need to address in my final proposal, which is due at the end of next week. We have the face to face workshop next week for four days, so I have a lot of reading to do over the weekend to prepare for that. I’m expecting my life to be fully engrossed in this work for the next two months.

The best thing is that, after 12 months of study, the end is in sight! I’m still trying to get my head around how I’m going to transform the concept for the project I had in my head at the start of the program into a 3000 word report in two months, but I keep reminding myself that I don’t have to know all the answers now, I just have to keep taking the next step and I will get there.

I spoke to the sewing machine people (thing 2) and ordered my new machine. It should come next week.

What did I achieve?

I overcame the voice in my head that told me I wasn’t good enough to do something and did it anyway.

What didn’t go so well?

Being organised enough in the evening to be able to pack up without rushing.

What do I want to do better next week?

Focus on sticking to my 10.30 bed time, I want to start packing up with enough time to actually be in bed before 10.30 rather than leaving myself less than ten minutes and rushing to get into the bedroom while the clock still says 10.30.

Continue to stick to my day plans and try to be more consistent in the afternoon. Maybe I need to take a proper break in the middle of the day to give myself time to regroup and refocus. I’ll try that.

The week’s reading. Highly recommended.

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 33

Week of 10 August

My 20 for 2020 list.

What did I want to do better this week?
Start packing up at 10.15.
Schedule 15 minutes of creative time every day and do it.

So how did that go then?
That did not go well. By the weekend I had I only gone to bed on time on Monday. One night I didn’t get to bed until 11.30. I didn’t sleep well that night and I woke up at some stupid time in the morning beginning with a 4. Not surprisingly, my sleep score has been down this week too.

I’m also struggling with the 15 minutes of creative time. I had it scheduled for 5pm, which is probably a completely unsuitable time so I need to rethink this one. The days I have stuck to it, it hasn’t been at 5pm and I’ve worked for a lot longer than 15 minutes because I was enjoying it. I’ve probably done the whole week’s 15 minutes in one or two days. Much as I appreciate the idea of doing 15 minutes every day, I’m not making it work, so I need to review that one as well.

On to 20 for 2020
I got a phone call from the sewing machine guy on Monday afternoon (thing 2). He said he was leaving his last job and asked if now was a good time for me. It was fine. I was home and I’d finished work, so I told him to come over. Because it was so unexpected, I started freaking out that someone was coming to my house in 20 minutes. Frantic moving things off the sewing machine cabinet for him to be able to access it. Wondering why I have never put my graduate diploma on the wall and just left it propped up against the cabinet since I’ve been in this house. (Thinking that, all going well, in three months time I will have a newer one to put next to it.)

People who haven’t known me long are surprised when they find out I have a sewing machine. I guess I don’t talk about it now that I don’t actually use it. In the past, my one sewing job a year was a Book Week costume for Kramstable but I stopped doing that around grade 5 when he started to put his own costumes together. Long-time readers might remember that these were long, drawn-out affairs, where my vision and enthusiasm were unmatched by my skill, but somehow I managed to pull off some pretty good costumes. I’m not sure if I was more proud of the cat outfit (for the Cat in the Hat) or of the Dame Washalot outfit that I designed the pattern for myself based on illustrations in the Faraway Tree, having absolutely no clue what I was doing.

And I don’t think I’m creative. Pffft. Begone, doubters.

The sewing machine guy arrived. After giving him a vague description of the problem (“It doesn’t work”) I left him to it.

(It is a slightly more specific problem than that, for which I had initially sought advice from sewing friends and the internet, because I thought maybe it was a setting I’d mucked up somewhere and that I just needed to move a few dials and everything would be back to normal. Clearly, given I had to call in an expert, this was not the case, though I still had doubts about my ability to use the machine properly and set it up to work.)

He spent a bit of time doing fidgety-looking stuff to it and pulling bits off. This involved a highly vile smelling oil that I feel is going to linger in my room for the next week and him holding various bits and pieces up to the light. I heard him say a few things like, “oh, that shouldn’t happen”  and, if nothing else, I was relieved that there actually was something wrong with the machine and it wasn’t just me not knowing what lever to move.

The verdict, after all that, was that it was a workshop job, not something he could fix at my house. He would have to pull it apart and it would cost at least $150, more if any parts were needed. I don’t know how much the machine was worth as I got it as a gift, but his advice was that I’d be throwing good money after bad if I tried to get it fixed and that for not much more than the repair cost I could buy a new machine that would be more suitable for what I use it for. It wouldn’t have all the features of this one, but given that I never used them anyway, this wouldn’t be a problem.  From what I understand, this is a lower-priced machine trying to cram in features of a higher-priced machine and not succeeding very well. Apparently, this brand performs very well at the high end of the market with machines that do fancy stitching and embroidery but that this doesn’t translate to the lower end of the market, which is where I am firmly planted.

So there you have it. After two years and two lists, I have still not got my sewing machine fixed but at least now I know it isn’t worth fixing and can decide where to go from here.

I also had to borrow some money from Kramstable to pay for the service call because he’s the only person in the house who has any cash. How awkward is that!

20200811 Sandy Bay Rd & Queen St 356pm

Sandy Bay Tuesday afternoon. From Hobart Street Corners.

The only other thing I worked on this week was my uni work (thing 8), which is going to have to be my focus for the next nine weeks. This mostly involved a very long, agonising process in which I made a decision about the workplace project I want to work on for this unit. I had to submit a draft 500-word project proposal on Sunday so that the unit facilitator could give feedback and direction to make sure it’s on the right track and is gong to be manageable in the time I have to do it. (Did I mention that it’s only nine weeks? No pressure.)

500 words.


I spoke to the facilitator on Friday about it because I wasn’t sure if what I wanted to do was appropriate, especially since it’s not a project that is directly relevant to my workplace. She said it absolutely was, so all I had to do was get an official tick from the relevant person at work and submit the proposal. As of Friday afternoon, I hadn’t been able to make contact with the manager I needed the okay from and I had a 1500-word proposal. This left me with the weekend to think of all sorts of reasons why work wouldn’t support me and to cut 1000 words out of the document.

One of these things I had control over and one I didn’t. I decided to focus my attention on the one that I did have control over, hard it was to try and put the doubts aside. What reassured me was that other people I had spoken to, including people in the area that the work most directly related to, were positive about the idea and thought it would be valuable work.

And if worst came to absolute worst, the facilitator said that if I don’t get my work’s support to do this work, it will be possible to throw the whole thing out and start again with something else.

I hope it doesn’t come to that!

And I submitted the proposal, without having any authority to do it, but minus 1000 words, on Saturday afternoon. A whole day early.

Now, I wait.

What did I do well or what did I achieve? (Did I do what I said I wanted to do better?)
My biggest achievement this week was to make the decision on the project I wanted to do. This might not sound like much, but making that decision was actually a huge thing for me.

What didn’t go so well?
I think we know that already.

What do I want to do better next week?
Go to bed on time.
Plan my days and stick to the plan. This will be really important over the next two months as I complete my uni work.
Abandon the idea of 15 minutes of creative time every day and find two time blocks within the week when I can work on my creative projects.

20200816 The Sea Priestess

This week’s reading. This had been on my bookshelf unread for at least 15 years.

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 32

Week of 3 August

My 20 for 2020 list.

20200803 Hinsby Beach 10

Why is that photographer coming back from the beach with a giant lens? Ohhhh! There’s a giant pink full moon out there! Why didn’t I bring my camera out?

We got the reading material for our final unit of the uni course (thing 8) on Monday. I spent a couple of hours organising the material and making a study plan so I know what I need to do over the next 11 weeks. I’m trying to be more organised with this unit so that I can get more out of it than I did the last one.


I have three weeks to work through the first three modules (there are six) before our face to face workshop. I thought that working through a topic in each module a day (most of them have five topics) would be a good pace. That would mean I’d need to set aside roughly an hour a day to work on it.

That sounded fine in theory, but finding that hour wasn’t as easy as I thought. I found myself drifting through my days without a plan and finishing the day without having done any of the work, so by Saturday morning, when I wanted to have completed the first module, I’d done exactly no readings.

It’s amazing how easy it is to not do the work when there is no real consequence of not doing it. I found with the assignment in the last unit, I could focus on that all day because I had to do it, there was a hard deadline, and there were major consequences of not doing it (i.e. failing the unit). Whereas with the course reading material, it’s all self-directed and you are responsible for doing it: there’s no one to check up on you, nothing to hand in and no mark at the end.

Clearly, if I want to get something out of this unit, this isn’t the way to do it, so I made it a priority on the weekend to complete the first module and to schedule regular time each day to work on the material. This fits in nicely with the work I am doing to better organise my workload at work and to try and prevent my role of being that annoying person in the branch who manages all the coordination requests (I mean, being my branch’s coordination superhero) leaking over into the rest of my day and affecting my ability to focus on the projects I’m supposed to be doing.

That’s a whole other story and perhaps I’ll write a post about it one day, once I get it worked out.

The other thing I need to do for uni is to decide on a workplace project and get started on planning that so I can hand in my draft project plan next week. This project will decide my final mark so there is a real consequence of not doing that. It’s been something I’ve been thinking about since the start of the course back in September 2019 but now it’s time to take my thoughts and put them into something that I’m actually doing to do. I have ten weeks to plan it, do it and report on it. No pressure, then.

20200803 Cherry blossom 1

Spring started to spring . . .

I didn’t hear back from the sewing machine people (thing 2), so I’m not sure where that’s at.

I had a conversation with one of my workmates this week, which turned into a conversation about our art (she’s a proper artist who has actually had shows). I was telling her about my Photoshop work (thing 7) and a vague idea for a project I want to do but how I feel a bit overwhelmed about getting stuck into it because it’s all so new and there is so much to learn. She said the same thing to me as I’ve heard and read so many times that it should be ingrained into my mind and something that I just do. That is, it doesn’t matter what you do, just do something. Make a commitment to do just one thing every day. She said for her it might be something as small as making a decision on the thickness of a hem. And she said that sometimes just doing one thing will lead you to do something else and something else and, before you know it, you might have completed a piece. Which is great. Or it might not, which is fine too because you’ll still be one step further than you were before you did it.

That’s the point of my 15 minutes a day creative habit. Just like my uni work, I need to schedule this and then actually do it. I know I can’t commit to doing huge chunks of the Photoshop course during the next ten weeks. I’ve already agreed with myself that I can’t possibly take on two huge study projects at the same time and that the Photoshop work is going to take a back seat for now. But 15 minutes a day, I can do that if for no other reason to reinforce to myself that I am creative and that I make art. Even if it’s bad art. To quote photographer David duChemin, everyone starts ugly. But without the ugly start, you’re never going to make anything beautiful.

I went back over my monthly review and picked up on the things I didn’t quite get through when I did it last week. In particular, I wanted to set some goals for August:

  • Complete all of the readings for Unit 4.
  • Decide on a workplace project and submit the proposal.
  • Commit to 15 minutes a day to creating something.
  • Finish two chapters of a book I’m working through.

20200804 Davey & Murray St 503pm-1

. . . and winter hit back

I also decided to ask myself three questions at the end of each week:

What did I do well or what did I achieve this week?
I can’t think of anything.

I need to pay attention to small wins and accomplishments to remind myself of the good things I did. And knowing I’m going to be writing about it each week is going to inspire me to think of at least one thing I did well . . . it’s going to look like I’m pretty down on myself if I only write about what didn’t go well!

Actually, now I think of it, I did do something well. I overcame my fear of speaking in meetings and contributed to a national meeting of about 40 people, most of whom I’ve never had anything do with, on a subject I am not very familiar with.

What didn’t go so well?
I’m still struggling with going to bed on time and getting up with the alarm instead of lying about in bed for half an hour or more. My Fitbit sleep scores are mid-80s. I want this to improve.

What do I want to do better next week?
Start packing up at 10.15. Set a reminder for this.

Schedule time to create something every day and actually do it.

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 29

Week of 13 July

My 20 for 2020 list.

After a week off that I really needed, it was back to work this week. Kramstable was still on school holidays. I’m glad that he’s able to do his own thing for most of the time now, so there is no longer this crazy juggle of work hours, annual leave, vacation care and other family members every 10 weeks or so to make sure he is suitably supervised in the holidays. Sometimes it used to feel like if we weren’t in school holidays, I was planning for the next set. There are some things I don’t miss about having a younger child, and that is right up there near the top of the list!

I had a lovely day out with Kramstable, my mother and Slabs on Wednesday. This included us taking him to an activity that my mother had been doing with him in school holidays since he was about six, but she needs someone to drive there now as she doesn’t drive any more.

Kramstable also needed some help with filming some scenes in the city for a project he’s working on. As I stood in the middle of a public street watching his camera and tripod while he made the shots of himself he needed, it occurred to me that first, unlike me, he had no reservations whatsoever about setting up his gear in public and paid no attention to the people wandering past looking at him. Second, I felt a whole lot less self-conscious being with him than I do when I try and set up my camera on a tripod in the street. I think there’s a lesson or two in there somewhere.

My uni program (thing 8) sent through the learning guide for the next module (the last one!) and I printed it off so I can flick through it before the module starts. For the final module, we have to do a workplace project that applies some of the things we’ve learned throughout the course to an actual work situation, so I’ve started to give that some thought and to talk to a few people about what I might do.

20200719 Writing in the coffee shop

Sunday morning coffee shop writing


I proved yet again to myself that I am perfectly capable of focusing on work for long periods if I set things up properly and know exactly what I need to be doing. On Friday, after spending most of the week catching up on what was going on and following up all the mundane things that seem to form the bulk of my job at the moment, I turned off my email and teams chat, set my status as “do not disturb”, put on an out of office message that said I was busy, and sat down for four hours to work on the project I had wanted to finish before I went on leave. It was brilliant! I got so much done and ended up with it being at the point where I was actually comfortable to send it to other people for their input.

This is how I work best. This is how I get things done, and it feels so satisfying to have done this work. My next step is to figure out how to bring more of this type of experience into my work day and try to minimise the time I spend in “reactive mode”. This is a work in progress and I’m going to keep tweaking and refining what I do to find a system that works.

On Wednesday, I went to the garden centre to get a new pot for my sadly neglected indoor plant. While I was at the counter, I asked the guy what I needed to do to repot my orchid (thing 20). Well, I asked him after a couple of attempts at trying to speak to him while he was checking out my other items and ignoring me while he spoke to the customer at the other check out about golf. It turns out they didn’t have what I needed anyway so I have no problem with not going back there to get it. If they aren’t interested in helping me because golf is more important to them, I’m not interested in giving them my business. I went to another garden centre on Saturday, got what I needed and repotted the orchid. Thing done.

I spent some time on the weekend sorting and editing photos from the 2019 Open House Hobart weekend that was held in November. I had been posting my photos on my (other) blog, fell a bit behind and never really caught up. Now I’m up to date. Eight months late, but it’s done. (Check them out here. You know you want to!!)

20191110 OHH-384 Dorney House-Edit

Esmond Dorney House, one of the fabulous buildings open on the 2019 Open House weekend

It felt good working on my photos again and I really want to be doing this every day (and getting stuck into thing 7, the Photoshop class). Finding a consistent time every day that I can do it is what’s proving challenging at the moment. But hey, four days a week is better than three days last week, is better than no days!

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 1 (20)
  • Things completed to date: 11 (1, 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: 5 (2, 9, 12, 19, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 4
  • Days I read a book: 6
  • Days I did yoga stretches: 4
  • Days I was in bed by 10.30: None. Most days I’ve been close to 10.30 but I’m doing that thing where I’m quietly packing up later and later and edging my bedtime closer and closer to 11.00, a bit like the dog gradually edging itself off its mat closer and closer to the fire so no one notices until it’s taking up the entire floor space and not a single part of it is on the mat.

20 for 2020: week 28

Week of 6 July

My 20 for 2020 list.

I had been looking forward to this week for a long time. After the chaos of last week at work and spending the entire weekend working on my uni assignment (thing 8) that I had handed in with the mantra “it doesn’t have to be perfect; you just need to pass” playing off against “you should have put more work into this” in my head, I was ready for a break.

If I hadn’t had a holiday booked, I wouldn’t have been at all surprised if ”should-me” had requested an extension on Friday to give me more time to finesse the assignment. Thankfully, I did have plans and what I handed in on Sunday was it. I’m glad, because it forced me to submit something that I think is good enough but is by no means up to the standard I expect.

Ha! Take that, “should-me”.

This week’s destination was Bridport, a small town on the north coast of Tasmania. I believe I went there once when I was a baby, and there is some family folklore story about me having been kidnapped by “Uncle Charlie”, who I think was my grandmother’s aunt’s husband. The actual truth is far less dramatic. From what I understand, Uncle Charlie simply decided to take the baby (me) out for a walk and didn’t bother to tell anyone, and they all went into a bit of a panic when no one could find us. I must have been returned safe and sound because I’m still here.

20200706 Clouds near Barnbougle 2

Chasing clouds in the middle of nowhere

I have no memories of the place, so it was all new to me and I was happy to not have any particular plans in mind other than wanting to visit Mt William National Park, on the north-eastern tip of the state, and take lots of photos. I certainly did that.

20200706 Old Pier Bridport 37

I got a bit obsessed with the old pier

It was great to get away. I let myself sleep in and I missed my morning walks and mindfulness sessions (goodbye, 100-day streak). I didn’t do any reading and I didn’t do my daily yoga stretches. I made sure I got right back into all of that when I got home though. I’ve put too much work into these habits to let them go after a couple of days off.

I also made up for skipping my daily 15 minutes of creating the past few weeks on Saturday, when I sat down for four or five hours and edited a bunch of photos from the trip.

20200707 Eddystone Point Lighthouse 27

Obligatory lighthouse photo (larapuna/Eddystone Point)

As for my 20 for 2020 things, I didn’t do much at all.

Uni doesn’t start again until next month so that’s on hold for a couple of weeks.

I had a look at what I wrote in my monthly review (thing 22) last week and pulled out the main things I said I wanted to work on in July.  One of those is to figure out how to take the focus that I know I have when something is important enough and time critical (aka my assignment) and apply that to things that are still important but perhaps there isn’t as much riding on.

I think I need to revisit Indistractable (thing 13).

20200711 Journalling at the ccoffee shop

Catching up on the week at the local coffee shop

I used my graphics tablet for some of my editing (thing 17). Well, I used it for five minutes until Photoshop crashed. Does that count as progress? Yes, yes it does.

I took the photos that were the reason for setting up the home studio (thing 11) but I didn’t do any more to work out how to set that up, so I won’t count that.

Overall, it was a nice relaxing week, and I really needed the break. Back to work next week while Kramstable has another week of holidays. Lucky him!

20200708 Platypus Park river walk 07—marshes

I felt a bit Famous Five traipsing about in the marshes

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: 2 (17, 22)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (7, 8, 11, 13)
  • Things not started: 6  (2, 9, 12, 19, 20, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 3
  • Days I read a book: 4
  • Days I did yoga stretches: 3
  • Days I was in bed by 10.30: 3

20 for 2020: week 27

Week of 29 June

My 20 for 2020 list.

I had two things on my mind this week. My uni assignment, which was due on Sunday, and getting a work project to a point where I could hand it over to my boss before I went on leave. Yes, next week is school holidays, and I’m having a week off. It’s perfect timing with the assignment so I can have a break without anything looming on my mind.

20200703 Hinsby Beach 2

Breathe time

That was the idea, anyway. I had planned to sit down and work on the work project for pretty much the whole week and I was excited about getting stuck into it and turning it into something that I could circulate to others for sanity checking. Unfortunately, work had other ideas, and I spent much of the week in reactive mode. Such is the way of my job at the moment. It’s not my ideal way of working by a long shot, but it’s what I have to do right now, and I just have to get on with it. I got all of that work done by Friday afternoon, but the project was still one big mess when I sent it to my boss. At least we still have time to work on it and I think I have all the ideas in there, even if they aren’t executed very well at this point.

I went back to the office on Thursday as part of the staged return to the workplace now that the Covid-19 restrictions are being lifted. Different people are coming in on different days so everyone isn’t jammed into the open-plan office all at once. It’s kind of funny because three years ago they were working out how to cram as many people in there as possible, and now we all have to stay away from each other.

While I’d be perfectly happy to never set foot in there again, that’s not going to be possible and I’ve got the next best thing, which is one day a week at the office and four days at home. I can live with that.

One of the things that I hope is going to keep me sane and settled going back into that space is my daily mindfulness practice, which I’ve been learning while I’ve been at home and have been building up over the last few weeks. On Thursday I reached the 100 consecutive days milestone on Insight Timer, which is the app I’ve been using to keep track of my progress. I posted on Instagram that I thought the day I went back to a workplace that isn’t good for me was a good day to reach this milestone. Building up to 30 minutes practice a day (twice most days) and learning to apply this to real life rather than it just being something that I tick off a to-do list is very challenging and very new to me, but I hope it will benefit me as I start to emerge from my isolation cocoon.

20200701 100 days milestone

100 days mindfulness

As I said last week, I went into the office last weekend to work on my assignment and came back from those two days feeling more confused than ever. At the start of this week, I felt like I was never going to get it done because I couldn’t make sense of it at all. It was beginning to remind me of a work project I struggled with several years ago that seemed simple on the surface but that I just couldn’t get my head around. I emerged from that project with my confidence severely dented and, in some respects, I don’t think I’ve ever really recovered.

I knew I had to get the assignment done because of the Sunday deadline and there was no option to get an extension because of my holiday, so I was feeling really frantic about it and had no idea how I was going to do it. Half of me knew I was going to hand something in because I just would, but the other half was freaking how about how exactly this was going to happen.

I emailed one of my classmates during the week to see how she was going. She hadn’t done much but she had an outline and she had some notes on how she was going to apply her work situation to the assignment. She had not, as I had, got caught up on trying to set up the big picture and then been unable to apply the actual problem to this. As soon as I saw her work I realised what I’d been doing that was causing my frustration, and I ripped everything up I’d done and started again. Yes, everything I had done on the weekend was pretty much a wasted effort. Through I had done some flow charts that I decided I was going to include, no matter what, because I had put too much work into them to leave them out.

20200701 Working on my assignment 3 edit

Slightly freaking out

Once I’d pressed reset, the work finally started to come together and for the first time, by Thursday night, I felt that I would have something to hand in that vaguely resembled the topic. I remarked to someone who had done the same course last year that there was bound to be one assignment that ended up being more difficult than all the others put together, and that for me it was this one. He said I’d be fine. I hoped he was right.

My weekend to-do list was to do the assignment. Nothing else really mattered, and that’s what I did. I had a semi-polished piece by Saturday night that I thought if I’d been hit by a bus on my walk on Sunday morning walk, someone could have handed in and I’d probably have passed the unit posthumously. (Yeah, I was in a good place mentally, wasn’t I?!) I didn’t have the days that I would normally like to take to refine it and cut it into something close to the word limit. I had one day, and I did the best I could. By 10pm, I was exhausted and I knew that if I kept looking at it I’d start to doubt myself and try to rewrite sections, which would end up turning something that was relatively coherent into a big mess. I knew it wasn’t perfect and that I hadn’t explained some things as well as I’d have liked to, but there was no way I was physically or mentally capable of changing anything in the two hours I had left, so I handed it in and collapsed into bed.

I expected to feel relief after handing it in but I felt completely drained. A break away would be just what I needed.

(I did make some time to work on two of my other things this week. I spent a bit of time one night when my brain was exhausted playing with my graphics tablet (thing 17) and I took an hour to sit in the coffee shop one morning to start my monthly review for June (thing 22), which I intended to finish after I’d handed the assignment in.)

20200705 Monthly review at the Picnic Basket

Monthly review time

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

20 for 2020: week 24

Week of 8 June

My 20 for 2020 list.

After a weekend where I put off doing any work on my uni course (thing 8) until Monday, which was a public holiday, I succeeded in not doing any work on it at all. Instead, I spent the day writing, thinking, editing photos, wrestling with my computer and doing some work on my home studio (thing 11).

I also learned that if you put a flash on a camera the wrong way round, it doesn’t work. Who knew.

After getting my 100 per cent habit score for reading last week (thing 14, which I am happy to report I am still doing and actually finished two books this week), I passed another milestone this week.

Tuesday was the 100th day since I’ve had a drink. If you’d told me back at the start of the year when I decided to go a month without alcohol (thing 5) that I’d still be alcohol-free more than two months after finishing that challenge, there’s no way I’d have believed you. Regular drinking had been firmly ingrained in my identity for many years and, although I knew it wasn’t where I wanted to be, I enjoyed drinking and I couldn’t imagine a time without alcohol.

I might write about my experience later or I might not. I don’t want to sound like the preachy ex-drinker, and I don’t know how long I’ll keep this up for. But what I can say right now is that I believe that being alcohol-free is the best thing I can do for myself and I have felt better this last three months than I had done for many years as a regular drinker. I don’t feel any need to go back to where I was.

20200613 Hinsby Beach 2

Subtle afternoon colours

This week, Kramstable went back to school, which I think he was happy about. I have been really impressed by the work the schools have done to transfer students’ learning online for this last couple of months. I know I’m lucky to have a young person who is very self-directed and who adapted well to the situation and who’s old enough to be trusted to work independently. I imagine my experience working from home and supervising online learning would have been very different with a younger child or someone who isn’t as driven as Kramstable is. I’ll miss having him around during the day but I’m glad he’s able to go back to face to face learning. It makes a big difference, as I’m discovering with my uni work (thing 8). Two-hour zoom sessions aren’t anywhere near the same as the intensive three-day workshop we were supposed to have. I’m really struggling to get engaged with the work in this unit and I miss the opportunities to have the deep discussions with my fellow students that we’d been able to have in the previous units.

20200610 Workking at the Picnic Basket-1

Studying at the coffee shop

However, everyone is in the same boat and it’s just something I have to adapt to. Complaining isn’t going to get my work done!

I (re)learned a valuable lesson this week from a podcast I used to listen to regularly. This is The Productivity Show by Asian Efficiency. In this episode, they discussed the importance of focusing on only one goal at a time to avoid having fragmented effort and not really achieving anything. I could immediately see that this was something I was trying to do. Right now, I can see the Photoshop course on my list (thing 7) and I can see my uni course, both big projects that will take a lot of time and commitment to complete. But instead of focusing on one of them really intensely and getting it done, I’m dabbling in the uni course, wishing I were doing the Photoshop work, feeling bad I’m not doing that and not really focusing on the uni work either because the Photoshop work is hovering in the back of my mind. So I’m getting stressed about not doing the uni work either. This podcast was a brilliant reminder that I need to stop scattering my focus on too many things, even though I want to do them all, and acknowledge that right now is not the right time for the Photoshop work. Once I have made that space, I can focus on the uni work without feeling guilty about not doing the other work. I’m not quitting. I’m pausing, and I need to do this without guilt. Photoshop will still be there in a month when this unit is completed and I’ll be able to spend time on it then, knowing that I put my best effort into my uni work and that now it’s time to refocus on my art.

It seems such a simple concept and I think I’d forgotten it and was stretching myself too thinly. But worse than that, I wasn’t doing any of the work I needed to do on anything. I was stressing out about having so much to do that I wasn’t doing any of it. That really isn’t the way to get anything done. It’s time to put some things on hold, refocus on one thing and get to work.

But . . . (you knew that was coming, didn’t you?) what about my commitment to 15 minutes of creative work every day? I had been doing that in the mornings after my walk, but with my 30-minute mindfulness practice taking up that space, I didn’t want to get up even earlier to fit that in and it’s falling through the cracks. So I had a look at my afternoons. I go for a walk after I finish work every day before my afternoon mindfulness session. Then I have a period of about two to three hours, depending on the day and whether it’s my night to cook dinner, to do whatever I want. That might include sorting photos, deleting emails, writing, paying bills, scrolling social media, reading . . . or maybe . . . working on my uni assignment (yeah, right).

20200610 Waiting at the library

Clicking and collecting at the library

None of it is particularly well-directed, which is fair enough in a way after a day’s work. It’s not a super productive time of day but it’s a couple of hours. Sure, there are some things I need to do in that time, but there are other things I don’t have to do, so there is time to fit in things I really want to do. 15 minutes of space to work on photo projects? Look no further. Having already decided not to do the Photoshop work at this time, I still have plenty of other creative work to do and one project that jumped out at me was my Hobart Street Corners project, which I have neglected for several months. Editing those photos doesn’t take a huge amount of creative energy but it still allows me to dabble in my photo art. So that’s my new focus while I’m not fully engaged in the Photoshop work. It keeps me engaged but it’s familiar work so fear and resistance are less likely to put their hands up and try to stop me.

At least, that’s the plan.

20200613 Hinsby Beach 5

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: 2 (8, 11)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (7, 13, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 6  (2, 9, 12, 19, 20, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 6
  • Days I read a book: 7
  • Days I did my yoga stretches: 7