Category Archives: organising

21 for 2021: a new list and an update

Week 53: week of 28 December 2020
I’m not sure if the last week of the year was week 53 of 2020 or week 1 of 2021. Or if was both. Or if it really matters. (My Travelers Notebook 2021 diary tells me it was week 53 of 2020 and that the next week was week 1 of 2021, so in the interests of keeping things consistent for my weekly photojournal, I’m going to stick with that. But it doesn’t matter. A week is a week. Or it isn’t.)

I spent the week trying to find my Word for 2021 and writing about that journey, which you can read about here (it’s long, so get yourself a cuppa). I was thinking about my 21 for 2021 list as well and working through my 2021 Unravel Your Year workbook so I could make sure the activities and projects I put on my list relate to the intentions I wrote in there.

Coffee shop planning

If you’re new to this (hi there!) here’s a reminder of what a 21 for 2021 list is, and why you might want to do one, from Gretchen Rubin. To my mind, the key to making it work is for the list to include concrete activities, rather than vague things that don’t have end points. “Learn to use Photoshop”, for example, is vague and there’s no defined end point you might reach and say you’ve done it. “Complete xyz Photoshop course” is specific and you will know for sure that you’ve done it and can cross it off the list.

Of course, that’s just my take on it and you (if you were to make such list for yourself) might have a completely different approach. There are no rules, except for the ones you set yourself, which you can break whenever you want because they’re your rules, and there’s no right and wrong way to go about it. Hell, you don’t even have to have 21 items on your list. I had 22 things on my 20 for 2020 list.

By Wednesday, I had 44 things (some of which were pretty vague so they weren’t going on the list), a bunch of sub-things falling off some of them (the vague ones, mainly, to make them more concrete), along with 33 nagging annoying jobs that I want to get to in 2021, for a grand total of 100 things. At least if I made that my list, I wouldn’t run out of things to write about. It has shades of the “100 things to do in 2013” list I made in, well, 2013.

There’s also my habits that I want to keep up from last year, which are:

  • Do the morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5 days)
  • Work on my art (Goal = 2 days)
  • Read a book (Goal = 7 days)
  • Do yoga stretches (Goal = 7 days)
  • Have a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days)
  • Go for a walk or do some form of physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7 days)
  • Shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7 days, with the aim to move this to 10.00 as the year progresses, and maybe even 9.45)

And any new habits I decide to pick up in 2021. The focus of these will, as you might imagine if you read my last post, be on lifestyle changes that I can make to reduce the impact I have on the Earth.

I decided to pick out the 21 most concrete things and/or the things that were most important to me for the list, knowing that I’ll still be working on most of the other ones along the way. And it goes without saying that educating myself about issues like the climate emergency and social justice and making changes to my lifestyle and my mindset is something I also have to do. But as I said in the post, these aren’t things I can check off a list, so they don’t appear on it. I have a lot of work to do in that space though.

I’m not sure if thing 5 “Spend an hour a week working through my annoying mundane things list” is a sneaky way for me to get 33 more things on the list but I’m hoping that making a commitment to spend an (yet to be determined) hour will help me to get through that list really quickly.

The final list is here and I’ll keep it updated more or less weekly. 

  1. Go to the exercise physiologist and get an exercise program
  2. Choose a different vegetable every week from In Praise of Veg and make one of the recipes from the book
  3. Complete the 30-day voice training course
  4. Work through the ideas in The Change Journal, one idea per week for 24 weeks
  5. Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list
  6. Grow some vegetables in the garden bed
  7. Clear out the area at the side of the house and make a space to sit
  8. Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos (with the aim of completing two of them)
  9. Write my mother’s life story
  10. Make a book of my 2014 UK trip photos
  11. Complete the ImageWork course
  12. Complete the Photoshop Classroom in a Book activities
  13. Create a consistent web presence for my work
  14. Photograph some unexplored areas
  15. Use my tripod in public 
  16. Go out and shoot with film
  17. Complete the Brainsparker gym* program
  18. Update my resume and apply for at least one new job
  19. Get a Strengthsfinder assessment
  20. Implement my pre-work workday routine
  21. Read at least three books about Tasmanian history

So after all that, here’s my first update for 2021.

As I thought at the end of last year, I didn’t do any more work on any of my 20 for 2020 things, so that chapter is now closed.

As 2021 started on Friday, it was time to start thinking about 21 for 2021. While I didn’t have the list finalised by then, there were a couple of things I knew were going to be on it. First was the 50 vegetables challenge (thing 2), which you can read more about here.

On Saturday, I made my first recipe from In Praise of Veg, which was the okra peanut stew.

Okra peanut stew ingredients. Just pretend there’s a jar of tomato paste in the photo.

I didn’t even know what okra was before Saturday, much less how to cook it, so it made for an interesting evening and a very tasty dish. I love peanuts and this recipe seemed a lot easier than the southern fried okra, which had me worried I’d burn the house down. I’m not much of a fryer.

Okra. Right?

One vegetable down, 49 to go.

The end result

I also did some of the work in the “Clarity” chapter of the Change Journal (thing 4). I’ll have a post that explains what that journal is very soon.

I pulled out some of the weeds in the garden bed (thing 6) and I added things to the undone things list instead of doing any of them (thing 5).

Untrue. I did one of them. I reorganised my bookshelves on new year’s eve while everyone else was out partying, and I made the window seat/bookshelf in my room into a resource section for the work I’ll be doing this year. I hope the party people who kept me awake half the night had shocking hangovers the next day. #oldpersonrant

The tidy space. Not the shelf on the right. I didn’t tidy that one.

Summary for the week

  • What I was reading this week: This One Wild and Precious Life by Sarah Wilson
  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 0
  • Things I progressed: 4 (2, 4, 5, 6)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 0
  • Things not started: 17 (1, 3, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21)
  • Habit tracker:
    • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): I wasn’t at work
    • 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 had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): I wasn’t at work
    • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 5
    • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): I’m not sure. I didn’t keep a very good record of this. Hey, I was on holidays!
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20 for 2020: week 42

Week of 12 October 2020

My 20 for 2020 list.

What did I want to do better this week?

I wanted to get my uni assignment finished and submitted. Nothing else really mattered this week. I was hoping to start tweaking my planning so I could get things done.

So, how did that go then?

It went okay. The idea of identifying “big rocks” each week and turning them into “most important tasks” each day appeals to me but I haven’t quite found a way to incorporate doing this into my days. It’s a work in progress.

Isn’t everything?

On to 20 for 2020

This was d-week for my uni course (thing 8).  (Is d-week at thing? It is now.)

The final assignment was due at midnight on Sunday, the culmination of the past (just over) 12 months of study. I found it increasingly hard to stop myself saying, “this time next week . . .” And “this time in four days . . . “ because, while all of that was true, I still had to do the work. It wasn’t just a matter of waiting for a week or a few days and it would all be over. I actually had to make this happen. I mean, it’s true, the course would be over whether I did the work or not,  but it wasn’t going to mean much if I didn’t hand the assignment in (and pass). I’d just have an incomplete course on my resume rather than another qualification, which would have made the rest of the previous 12 months a bit of a waste of time.

I had to do the work but I had no idea how I was going to do it. I was still pulling material together and I knew that in less than a week, I would submit a completed essay to the uni. It was the bit in the middle that I was struggling with.

I felt like this . . .

Screen Shot 2020-10-20 at 9.03.00 pmSouth Park: Gnomes (Season 2, Episode 17)

Still, I couldn’t help thinking of all the things I had said I was going to do once I’d finished. And it wasn’t just things I’d have time to do, but things I’d have space in my head for once the thought of the course was out of the way. I wondered if I would be committed enough to pursue those things without the deadlines and formal consequences for not doing them that a uni course has. But that’s a problem for next week.

By Saturday morning, I’d done most of the easy work (ha) and needed to do the analysis and recommendations so that I’d have a report that I hoped would include everything that was expected. I was hoping to have a fairly complete (most probably way too long) report by the end of the day that I could then spend Sunday editing and reducing the number of words in.

It didn’t go to plan and I was still making changes on Sunday afternoon at the same time as I was frantically cutting out words. It was the most difficult period of writing I’d had the entire course and I could feel myself getting more and more anxious as the hours ticked away.

At 11.50, I knew I had to call it done. I was running out of time and there was no time to make any meaningful changes. I submitted it without proof reading it just to get it in. I was out of time. But I was surprised to see on the submission receipt that my submission time was 10.54 and I remembered that the uni is in Queensland and they don’t have daylight savings there. I still had an hour to work on it and resubmit, even though for me it would technically be Monday morning.

To be continued . . .

What did I achieve this week?

My regular check in: I stayed up to date with my weekly photojournal and my street corners project. I’m grateful to have been able to make the space to keep doing these things and I think I’ve got into a bit of a routine for these that lets me get them done during times when I’m not totally at the top of my game but am still alert enough to do some good work.

What didn’t go so well?

I think I had a pretty good week considering what I had on. The whole weekly review thing and identifying my “big rocks” for the upcoming week  is still difficult for me but there have been some changes at work that should mean I don’t have to do as much reactive work and (in theory) will have more time to concentrate on my projects. We’ll see.

What do I want to do better next week?

Keep tweaking the system.

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): 3
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 6
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 0
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 4
  • Days I went for a walk in the afternoon (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5): 7

20 for 2020: week 40

Week 40: Week of 28 September

My 20 for 2020 list.

What did I want to do better this week?
Learn about different ways to get stuff done because planning and scheduling isn’t working for me.

So, how did that go then?
I’ve been vascillating between thinking I am incredibly unmotivated and lazy because I can’t make myself plan out my days and stick to the plan, and exploring the possibility that maybe this is not the best way for me to get things done and that rather than beat myself up about it I should be finding ways that work better for me.

I won’t go into a lot of detail but, as part of my research for my uni project (thing 8), I fell into a big Myers Briggs Type rabbit hole, which I know is a tool that has its fans and its critics. I’ve always found it interesting and have found that the description of the type I think I am has been pretty accurate and explained a lot about they way I think and behave. Over the years I felt that maybe I had changed my preferences significantly because of the way I’ve been working and the work environments I’ve found myself in. Doing some of the “unofficial” online tests (I know!) returned results that suggested the same thing and one of my workmates said that a type profile that was the direct opposite of my type on two of the dimensions sounded exactly like me. I was horrified!

Looking into this further, and learning how the four preferences interact with each other beyond the basic type descriptor, I’ve concluded that my basic preferences on the four dimensions are still the same as they were when I first did the profile many years ago but I’ve adapted the way I work to fit the places I’ve worked so much so that people think I’m like that persona. It makes sense to me that I’m actually really not and that my real preferences have been suppressed. So I’ve developed the other side, if you like, to enable me to do the things I’ve needed to do, but it’s not really the way I prefer to work.

Don’t get me started. Oh right, I already have.

Long story short, using that particular tool, I believe that my real preference, and where I feel most fit, is not in a particularly structured world and that’s why I’m struggling to impose structure on myself and to follow my own plans. Another part of the same tool also explains my tendency to get lost in rabbit holes as often as I do and to start things I never finish. It’s why I’ll come up with the ideas but you’ll never see me putting them into action. That’s someone else’s job. Apparently there are people who are good at that and enjoy it. Who knew.

In my rabbit hole last week, I found a resource about productivity for my particular type (or what I believe to be my type), which made so much sense to me and proposed another way of getting things does that doesn’t involve a daily schedule. So that’s going to be my focus over the next few weeks: putting that approach into practice and seeing if it gets me better results.

On to 20 for 2020
This week was still all about uni (thing 8) and, true to type, I haven’t actually looked at the project plan I made at the beginning of the project, despite the wonderfully detailed, colour coded timeline I made. (I know what you’re thinking after I said I wasn’t the scheduling type. I love making plans and schedules. I could do that all day. Just don’t ask me to follow them.)

From memory, I’m about a week behind where I expected to be. That’s in part because I didn’t allow enough time to actually sign people up, so the consultation stage has taken longer than I expected it to. This week I talked to eight people about the project, four of whom I didn’t know at all, which was extremely challenging for me as an introvert who would have been happy for everyone to respond in writing. Amusing, right? An introvert talking to introverts about being introverted. What was I thinking?

It was a challenging week, exhausting for me just being around people so much, but also very rewarding because I think I got a depth on some of the issues that I don’t  know I would have been able to fully explore if those people had responded in writing. And that’s exactly what they said to me. We had those one-on-one in-depth conversations that introverts are supposed to love. Challenging, but it’s certainly expanded my thinking on the project. How I’m going to fit it into 3000 words is anyone’s guess.

I have two weeks to do it in and I will hand it in.

What did I achieve this week?
My regular check in: I’m keeping up to date with my weekly photo journal and my street corners project. That’s the bare minimum I want to keep going while I finish my project, and it also makes sure I give myself a break from the intensity of the project by doing something creative for a while.

20201001 Victoria & Collins St 743am 220201001 Davey St & Salamanca 608pm 4A couple of images from this week’s Hobart Street Corners.

I’ve also been doing a bit better at getting to bed on time. I reactivated my Habitica app, which basically gamifies your habits. I’m not much of a gamer but using an app where my character loses strength and health if I make an undesired choice or don’t tick off a daily habit is a little bit more motivating than checking a task off a to-do list in an app that I always forget to look at. And I have a bear cub! How cute is that!

I guess I should also acknowledge the work that I did on my project as an achievement, especially talking to people I don’t know. It was a big step out of my comfort zone and I am really proud of myself for having done it.

What didn’t go so well?
I feel like this was a bit of a reset week for me so I’m not going to be too hard on myself for things not going well.

What do I want to do better next week?
Start to use the new system and see how it works.

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 shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I went for a walk in the afternoon (Goal = 5): 6
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5): 5

20 for 2020: week 39

Week 39: Week of 21 September

My 20 for 2020 list.

What did I want to do better this week?
Go for a walk in the afternoon after work. Plan my week and my days better to include a firm pack up and shut down time.

So, how did that go then?
Walking after work every day was something I did when I worked at home every day because, no longer having the commute to the office, I had extra time to do that. It was a nice and relaxing way to shift from “work” mode to “me” mode. I lost that a bit when my uni work got a bit more intense and I started staying in work mode for longer. I guess one of the downsides of working from home is that it can get harder to have that separation between work and home, especially when there’s a massive computer monitor on the space that used to be free space for me to do whatever I felt like creating. Which was usually a bit pile of stuff that I hadn’t sorted. Hardly conducive to creation, but that’s my excuse . . .

This week started well. I walked on Monday and Tuesday but on Wednesday I had to go into the office under the new edict that requires us to be there a minimum of two days a week. So the bus trip home has sort of taken the place of the walk for two days. It’s okay because it’s still a break between work and home, especially if I use the time to read rather than scroll social media mindlessly.

And there is an advantage of being in the office: as long as people don’t thoughtlessly book meetings in lunch time, I do go out of the office and get away from my desk, which is something I struggled to do at home.

On Friday it rained and I wimped out of going out. And I didn’t do it on Saturday. On Sunday, I was already out so I was technically walking, but didn’t go for a walk as such. I think I’ll give that a tick.

20200926 MalalaThis week’s reading. Highly recommended.

On to 20 for 2020
This week was still all about uni (thing 8). As of the end of this week there are three weeks before I have to hand the report in and I still feel no sense of urgency about it. I’ve been a bit disappointed that I haven’t had more of a response from people about the project but I keep reminding myself that what actually happens in the project isn’t what’s gong to be assessed: it’s the learning I get from it and how well I can use the material we’ve been learning to explain what happened.

We had our final virtual classroom this week and it doesn’t feel quite real that it’s this close to the end of the course. This time 12 months ago (almost to the day) I was struggling with writing a 1500 word essay for the very first assignment of the course and here I am doing the workplace project I’d imagined doing before I even got accepted into the program. Well, sort of. The project I imagined would have been huge and not doable within the six weeks I have/had to do it.

I also did my September monthly review from Unravel Your Year (thing 22).

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

Apart from that, I don’t think I achieved much.

I tell a lie. I was in a coffee shop during the week and realised too late I had left my wallet at home. I’d always wondered if I should set up Apple Pay on my phone but wasn’t sure how it worked and was too nervous about getting it wrong and looking stupid to try.

I now know how it works and it is on my phone. And the lady in the coffee shop said she didn’t know how it worked either so was very tolerant of me not being sure what to do.

What didn’t go so well?
I think the weekly planning, scheduling focus time blocks and the packing up on time fall into this heading. Again.

What do I want to do better next week?
I’m starting to think that my quest to improve my planning and stick to the schedule is heading in the wrong direction. It’s not working. It comes up every week as “what I didn’t do well” and “what I want to do better”. It’s getting boring. I’m not making any progress or improvement.

They do say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, a quote which has apparently been incorrectly attributed to Albert Einstein for many years, so I think it’s time to try a different approach. That will be my focus next week.

20200927 The Con 1 new-EditSunday photowalk. The former ABC building destined for demolition.

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: 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 (Goal = 2): 4
• Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
• Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 0
• Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5): 5
• Days I went for a walk in the afternoon (Goal = 5): 5
• Days I was in bed by 10.30 (Goal = 7): 64

20 for 2020: week 4

Week of 20 January

20200122 Sunrise Taroona Beach edit

Wednesday morning walk on the beach

There’s not a lot to report on this week. I went to work and had two days off that were largely taken up with family matters, a big event on Saturday and a long bike ride and some study on Sunday. It means I didn’t get as much done on my 20 for 2020 list as I would have hoped but I managed to keep some of the things ticking along.

This is the first official week of my second uni unit (thing 8). I was very relieved that there are a lot fewer readings in this module than there were in the last one, some of which I didn’t manage to read and are still sitting in a pile waiting for me. (Yes, I know. Go paperless. I can’t read on screen. I have to have the paper so I can scribble on it and get out the highlighter pen). There is a lot of reflection to do in this unit and the first module is about understanding yourself, your style, preferences, strengths, values and identity. It’s something we’ve been looking at at work, as well as tying in with some other work I’ve been doing recently, including Indistractable (thing 13) and the wellbeing course (thing 3), neither of which I progressed this week. I’m interested to see where this is going to take me.

I made some more photo collages (thing 4). I have four weeks left to do plus the first four weeks of this year.

I have committed to working on my photo project (thing 1) for 15 minutes every day, an activity from the creative kickstart course (thing 6). 15 minutes is better than nothing and it means I’m making progress on a project that stalled last year. This week I did that for six mornings, so I’m happy with that. I listened to another one of the course lessons this week too.

I had a bit of a revelation, which wasn’t so much a revelation than a reminder, that in all of this work, I don’t have to do everything. I need to take what is going to work for me in the place where I am right now. For example, there are going to be days especially leading up to intense periods of uni work, where I will not have the time to sit down for even one block of 50 minutes to do my creative work, let alone three or four. I’m currently looking for slots in the day where I might be able to fit some of this work it in as well as my 15 minutes in the morning.

This all relates to the Indistractable work too and the struggle I’ve been having trying to schedule everything. I’m very good at making schedules. I can timeblock forever. I love composing timetables down to the smallest detail. But ask me to actually do the things on the schedule and that’s never going to happen. If I’m doing something and the time comes do start on something else, the chances of me doing that are basically none, unless it’s “go to doctor’s appointment” (or “meet friend for lunch”).

So I’ve been scouring the internet for ideas on what to do if you can’t make yourself stick to your calendar.

I posted in one of my Facebook groups asking for help too. Someone suggested I was aiming too high trying to schedule everything and that I could try to put one regular thing in my calendar each week, commit to that and make that a solid habit before moving onto the next one. I like that.

Someone else suggested putting an alarm on my phone and putting the phone out of reach so I have to get up to turn it off, thereby stopping me doing what I was doing and giving me a better chance of actually doing the thing I want to do (in this case, go to bed on time), because the act of getting up will force me to stop what I’m doing, so I then have to take that opportunity to stop properly, not just pause.

A final person said maybe I’m just not a calendar person (I think that’s right) and maybe I need to just pick out the top three things to do each day and work on them until they’re done. That might work but I think it will require planning so I can figure out what are the most important things I need to do and I would still need to figure out when to fit them into my day. So I’m not sure if that gets me any further ahead.

But anyway, baby steps.

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 1

Week of 30 December

Week one of 20 for 2020 was only five days, but I’ll count it as a week.

I haven’t made a page for the list yet, but here’s a link to the first post where I outlined the 20 (or 22) things I want to achieve in 2020.

Wellbeing course (thing 3): I went through the last module, watched the videos I hadn’t watched and wrote down all the things I needed to do. I have a master list of tasks on a Trello board that I want to relating to this course so I can see everything in one place. The only thing left from 2019 that I want to complete is to do some journalling activities, which in some way are connected to the work in the creative kickstart course (thing 6). From then on, I will dip back into the course over the year and take things I need from it at the time.

Creative kickstart course (thing 6): My intention for this is to complete it by the end of January. I think some of this work will connect with the work in Indistractable (thing 13). I rewatched the first three videos that I watched at the end of 2019 to reacquaint myself with the material and to remind myself where I got up to. The idea is to watch the videos and put the strategies into place right away, so that’s what I intend to do.

In the first video it asks why I want to do this work and I said:

My goal is to create more, enjoy creating more and get better at creating work that I love. I am sick of achieving nothing because I’m tired and get easily distracted. I’m wasting my time on meaningless activities while others are going out, learning and making progress. I want to be like that.

Uni course (thing 8): I printed off the unit handbook, had it spiral bound so I can carry it round and work on it more easily, and started the first reflection activity. The unit doesn’t officially start until 20 January so I am trying to get some of the early work done now so I’m not hit with too much work at once. I think this will be a really interesting unit because a lot of it is about knowing yourself and self-management, which are subjects very dear to my heart.

Ride my bike to work (thing 10): Instead of my Sunday morning walk, I rode to town to try and find the best route to work.

Indistractable (thing 13): I read Part 4 and 5 of the book on the bus on the way home from work.

20200101 Indistractable

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

Reorganise my sock drawer (thing 18): I completed this on Sunday. It involved swapping the contents of two sets of drawers in two rooms, which is something I’ve been meaning to do for ages to make my socks (and the other things in the drawers) easier to access in the morning. It took less than an hour. I’m happy with that.

In other things, I’m counting progress I made in 2019 on my photo project (thing 1) as progress for this year because the project is really underway. I’m not counting what I did about making contact with the sewing machine repair people (thing 2) because it’s come to nothing and I really need to start again with that one. The 2019 photojournal (thing 4), although I kept mostly up to date in 2019, I have about 10 weeks worth of photos to sort, along with keeping up to date in 2020, so progress only counts on getting that backlog completed. So no progress on that one this week either.

Summary for the week

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

19 for 2019: update week 1

We’re almost one week into 2019 and I’ve printed my 19 for 2019 list and stuck it on my wall so I’ll see it rather than make it and forget about it.

I’m going to try and keep myself accountable by posting my progress over the year, so, welcome to update number 1.

Have I achieved anything? Well, yes and no. I have done some things, but I haven’t checked anything off the list.

I finished one book (thing 5), which I wasn’t sure whether to count or not, as I started reading it in 2018. I’m keeping track of my reading here and I decided to count it because I did read some of it in 2019.

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Happy Sunday

I took some of the coins to the bank (thing 9).

I think that what held me back from even doing this was the fact that “take the coins to the bank” is not actually a task that I could check off.

If you listen to the productivity gurus, they will tell you that anything that has more than one step is not a task. It’s a project. A project is made up of tasks (or actions). You can’t “do” a project, you can only do a task. Therefore, the thing you need to consider is what is the very next action you need to take to enable you to complete the project.

“Take the coins to the bank” has more than one task that I need to do before I can say it’s done. First, I have to get the coins from the basket they’ve been sitting in, bagged up, for three years or more and I have to put them in my bag. Only then can I actually take them to the bank. That’s step two. Once I’m at the bank I need to do two things: run the coins through the coin machine and take the receipt to the teller to register the deposit in my account. Actually, Kramstable’s account because he’s the only one with an account at that bank.

Realistically, if I’m at the bank I’m going to do both of those things, so the tasks that I identified are

1. Put the coins in my bag
2. Go to the bank

I did this for one set of coins. There was over $40 in there that is now in Kramstable’s account. Lucky him. The other, I had left at home because they would have made my bag too heavy. They are now in my bag ready for me to go back to the bank tomorrow.

The lesson here is that I often put things on my to-do list that look like tasks but, because they involve more than one step, they are actually “projects” or, at the very least, mini-projects. Book skin check (thing 4) is another example. To complete this, I need to do the following

1. Decide which skin clinic to go to
2. Get their phone number
3. Identify some times it will be convenient for me to have an appointment
4. Call them and book the appointment
5. Put the appointment on my calendar

All those years I’ve thought to myself I need to book a skin check when what I’ve really needed to do is decide which clinic to go to. The way I’ll do this is to ask my GP next time I’m there which one she recommends. So the actual thing on my to-do list is “ask GP for skin clinic recommendation”.

Most of the things on my 19 for 2019 are like this. Some are quite obviously large projects but others have only two or three associated actions. You might say they really are tasks, with sub-tasks associated, which is an equally valid way of looking at it. The terminology doesn’t really matter. The challenge is to work out what those actions or sub-tasks are, put the next actions on my to-do list and get to work actually doing them.

As well as the reading and the coins, this week I have made progress on the photo course (thing 1), making my folio (thing 2), my 2018 photojournal (thing 11), the photo project (thing 16) and learning Lightroom (thing 19).

Week 1 summary

Things completed: 0

Things I have taken action on this week: 7

Things not started: 12

30 days of undone things – days 2-6

I’m now six days into my challenge of doing 30 annoying little things that have been on my to-do list forever and that are mostly pretty easy to do, which which I just can’t seem to get done.

Day 2 (Friday): I put everything away off the bench top and cleaned it off (Number 2 on the list), and I put the instruction book and receipt for the new whippersnipper into the folder with the other instruction books (Number 11).

Day 3 (Saturday): I labelled the new jar for the marjoram and put it into the jar (Number 34 – it wasn’t on the original list) and I washed the fruit and veggie bags (Number 21).

Day 4 (Sunday):  I cleaned the cutlery drawer (Number 29)

Day 5 (Monday): I confirmed my blood donation appointment (I AM going to do this – Number 15) and I went to get my identity documents verified (half way to Number 13).

I also learned why we shouldn’t put little things off.

One of the things, that wasn’t on the original list but is on a list somewhere, was to get a plastic tub for the Christmas decorations instead of having them in a Huggies box in the car port (let’s call it Number 35). I went to get them out yesterday to put up my “…. days til Christmas” countdown tree, only to find that rodents had got into the box and destroyed several things, including my beautiful wooden Aarikka elves that I was given when I left Finland 27 years ago.

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I’ve always loved these as they are so cute and they remind me of the year I almost had a white Christmas. I was devastated to see them like this. I was also shattered to find  some of Kramstable’s hand-made decorations from school had suffered a similar fate.

Don’t procrastinate about the little things or you might lose the chance to do them at all.

Day 6 (today): I mailed my change of identity documents to the credit card bank (the other half of Number 13). I cleaned everything off the couch (Number 22). I bought the new tub for the Christmas decorations. (Number 35. Don’t ask whether I put them in it…)

How are you going with your #30undonethings? Reply here or tweet me and let me know!

Book 1/24 – 18 Minutes

I don’t set New Year’s resolutions, but sometimes I spend some time in January thinking about what I want to achieve in the coming year and what I want to focus on. One of the things I decided I want to do this year was to learn more. That included some specific skills I want to develop and a vaguer wish to expose myself to new ideas and to develop critical thinking.

One way I decided I’d do this was to read more books. I haven’t read many books lately, and I haven’t kept any records about what I’ve read or what I thought of any books I did read, and I vaguely liked the idea of getting a book journal. But first things first. I have to read something, so I set myself a relatively low goal of having read 24 books by the end of the year – two books a month.

It’s the first week of March and I’ve read four books. I’m currently on number 5, which I have about 13 days to finish if I want to stick to the rough schedule of two a month. I have kept no records other than the title and authors, but I guess if this is intended to help me learn, I need to also make some sort of record of the main ideas of each book I read and what the key messages are for me. What better place than here?

So the first book I read this year was 18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction and Get The Right Things Done by Peter Bregman, published in 2011.

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I first heard of Peter’s work through a presentation he did as part of an online productivity conference I attended parts of in January. (I do the best things in the summer holidays don’t I.) I was really interested in the ideas Peter spoke about, and went to the library to see what I could find that he’d written. This was the book they had, so this was the one I read.

The 18 minutes of the title refers to Peter’s suggested daily ritual, which is basically spending five minutes in the morning planning your day by scheduling things that you need to do to make progress in your areas of focus (which you have identified through exercises set out earlier in the book), setting a reminder every hour to stop and ask yourself if you spent the last hour productively, and to re-centre, and then five minutes in the evening to review your day and ask how you went and what you learned.

Obviously there’s more to the book than the 18 minutes, or you wouldn’t need to read it. It’s divided into four parts, and there are 46 very short (mostly 4-6 pages) chapters that introduce a key idea to help you do what the subtitle of the book says – find your focus, master distractions and get the right things done.

Part 1 is about taking a pause, looking at who you are and about where you want to be. Peter compares it to Google Earth locating you somewhere you’re not. so you hit the Find Me button, it zooms you out and over the earth, you hover for a bit before you zoom back in to where you are.

Part 2 is about finding out what you want to focus on, what is really important to you, and starting to make a plan to do this.

Part 3 moves into the more practical elements of planning your day, and Part 4 is all about overcoming distractions.

The main idea that I took from the book is Peter’s system where each year you set yourself a small number of important areas of focus – Peter says five is the optimal number for him, but it could be more – and you focus most of your energy on those things, rather than flitting between different projects and not getting anything done, or having so much to do you don’t know what to do first. Peter says that when someone asks him to do something, he’ll consider whether it fits in to his areas of focus, and would normally decline the request if it didn’t.

His to-do list breaks up tasks into each area of focus, so he can see what he’s spending most time on, and if there are areas he’s neglecting. He suggests 95 per cent of your daily tasks should be connected to your focus areas, and the other five per cent are the things you have to do to keep your life and family running smoothly (paying bills, grocery shopping etc).

18 Minutes has some really good ideas. I think I’ll find it difficult to use this system to cover both home and work, because the two are really quite separate, and I try to consider my hours at work as hours that aren’t available to me to focus on my own priorities. I’d almost need to run the system twice, once at home and once at work, but a single system like this could be really useful for someone who works for themselves.

The chapters on managing distractions in Part 4 have a lot of valuable tips, whether you put all, any or none of the planning strategies from earlier in the book into place. For example, “create an environment that naturally compels you to do the things you want to do”, so that you make it easier to do the things you want to do. Want to stop eating sugar? Get rid of all the sugar from your house. People aren’t filling in a form you need them to? Redesign it. Make it simpler. Make it so easy they can’t not do it. Want people to buy lollies at your shop? Put them near the check out.

I really enjoyed this book and got a lot out of it. I ended up buying my own copy because I wanted to explore the ideas more thoroughly than is possible in a three-week library loan. I like Peter’s friendly, personal style, and the short chapters make each idea very easy to take in and understand.

Recommended.

On our way!

On our way!
Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne, Australia


Last night was spent testing all my devices to make sure they all talk to each other. Of course an iPhone 6 doesn’t want to have anything to do with my 2009 MacBook Pro running an operating system that is three versions out of date. Everything else seems to synch as expected, so I’ll just have to cope with that.

This morning my body clock decided that it was a weekday or that I had too much to do to sleep in and woke me far earlier than is reasonable on a Saturday morning. Mostly the jobs revolved around packing, setting up the pot plants and animals as best as I could to minimise the work our friendly pet sitter will have to do, and making sure I didn’t forget my contact lenses. (Who does that, you ask. Yup.)

I managed to fit everything that Kramstable had “packed” last night into his suitcase, and the six teddies that are coming with us are in his carry on bag. Six. I expect we’ll need a roll call every day: Pete, Zoe, Bruno (who is the Proboscis monkey I liberated from a souvenir shop in Brunei airport last year), Dan, Tigger and Sidney.

I also managed to cram in a large assortment of leggings and cold weather gear into my own suitcase. We’re expecting cooler weather than we’ve been having in Tasmania, so I hope it doesn’t end up like last year, where it ended up being a lot warmer than we’d packed for. I don’t think there’s any danger of that in Glacier country.

Cables. Check. Chargers. Check. Travel Cards. Check. Passports. Check. Contact lenses. Check. Are you sure? Double check.

Finally we were ready to go. I checked the Hobart and Melbourne airport websites to find out if our flights were running as scheduled. I still wasn’t 100% confident about the transfer time in Melbourne, but it all looked good.

We, and our bags, were checked in all the way through to Christchurch, and we had enough time for a relaxing beverage at the airport bar (which is much improved with the addition of the Iron House beers). “You won’t be happy until we’re on the plane to Christchurch will you,” says Slabs, watching me check the Melbourne airport website for the sixth time.

You know the answer to that.

The plane we’d be leaving on arrived on time, the ETD was still 4pm, and indeed that’s when we left. Arrival in Melbourne was a fraction early (good) and the advice on the departures board was to “proceed to security”. Pull devices, the ziplock bags with liquids out of our bags, remove belt, hope there’s nothing in my pocket I’ve forgotten about. As a special bonus I got to step into the full body scan capsule, which resulted in one of the officers having to pat down my ankles, because clearly I have dodgy ankles.

Then all that was left to do was to get through the “Border Force” checks. Very long line. Not many officers. Moved relatively quickly, and it took us about 30 minutes to get through. I could hear people behind us reassuring each other that the plane would wait for them. In the end there was nothing to worry about, just like the airline guy had said, and our flight was called as we were walking to the gate. Pretty much perfect timing really,

So we’re about an hour into the flight.We didn’t have time to get dinner at the airport so I’m getting hungry, and smelling the food that the higher fare class passengers is getting is making it worse! I’m also very thirsty…

We’ll be arriving in Christchurch at just before midnight (NZ time) after a 3.5 hour flight. Hoping that getting through customs won’t be too onerous, and then we can transfer to the motel. It’s going to be a long night, but we’re looking forward to starting our kiwi adventures tomorrow.

Update: We got food. It looked like this. I wish I hadn’t looked at the label.