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.

20190106 sunrise edit

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

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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.

20161205-poor-elves

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.

The day before we leave

The day before we leave
New Norfolk, Australia

New Norfolk, Australia


This time tomorrow we will be getting off a plane in Melbourne and transferring to our flight to Christchurch.

We only have a short layover in Melbourne to clear through security and customs (aka Border Force), who are currently participating in strike action. Hooray?

Our connecting flight was rescheduled several months ago to give us less time to clear through the bureaucracy, but when we questioned it, the airline told us that it will be fine and they wouldn’t have put us on that flight if it wasn’t going to give us enough time in Melbourne. We’ll be checked all the way through in Hobart, and they said they’ll have staff in Melbourne to help us.

And today when I queried their text message telling us to get to the airport three hours before the flight because of the strike (how does one get to Melbourne before we’ve even left Hobart, I wondered), they said we didn’t have to worry about a thing because our flights are outside the strike hours and we’ll already be checked in. “You have my word for it,” said the guy in the call centre. (I made a note of his name.)

So I’m trying to send this to the back of my mind and concentrate on the fact that we’re going on holidays! To New Zealand! Finally! Even though I know I won’t fully relax until we’re on the plane.

So tonight we pack and we cross things off lists. (I have lots of lists. I love lists. I love crossing things off lists. Then I love looking at my crossed of lists and wondering if I left anything off the lists….)

Juniordwarf, who will be referred to as Kramstable from now on, is also writing a travel blog, so we’re both sitting on the couch taking selfies and writing our pre-departure posts.

The next thing to do is to make sure all my devices are charged and that I have chargers and cables. This is a process involving my label maker and ziplock bags, which was recommended by a friend who has travelled a lot.

Then it might be beer o’clock.

Less than a week to go (not that I’m counting)

Less than a week to go (not that I’m counting)
New Norfolk, Australia

New Norfolk, Australia


It’s a weird feeling, knowing that at this time last year I was somewhere over the South China Sea on the way to London (via the long walk to nowhere at Dubai airport). I still haven’t sorted through the 4500 or so photos from that 2-week trip (not all mine!) or decided where to put all my tacky souvenirs. I really must get onto that.

Juniordwarf still tells me how much he missed me.

Not to worry! This time he’s coming.

Slabs and I have been planning our New Zealand trip for about 15 years, and have almost done it twice, but each time something’s come up and we’ve spent the money on crazy things like moving to Tasmania.

This year everything has fallen into place and it’s time to finally take the trip. Juniordwarf is old enough that we’re ready to take him on a longer holiday, we have the money and we got the time off work. We started booking things back in November last year, so it seems like it’s taken forever to get to this point.

In a way it’s felt like this trip has been a lot easier to organise than the UK trip. Maybe because I went through all the (almost) first time overseas angst last year, or maybe because we aren’t going halfway across the world this time.

I know what travel money options work for me, I know that my travel handbag was a good choice, and I’ve pre-purchased a NZ sim card for my phone, so I don’t have to worry about any of those things – all things that took a lot of time to work through last year.

We booked everything ourselves (or rather Slabs did. I just sat back and watched), which meant mucking about with travel agents, and we’re renting a car, so there’s none of the fun I had last year working through train timetables and route maps to get us to where we need to be. We don’t need such precision planning this time!

So it’s been a lot easier and taken a lot less time to get the trip organised.

I’ve made a lot of lists (the planner freak is happy), set up my travel journal (I’ll be taking my trusty Midori Travelers Notebook with me again), and have been checking the weather in some of the places we’re going (*adds more winter clothes to packing list*).

It’s getting a bit exciting!

12 of 12 June 2015

Friday 12 June started out cold at home, but warmed up very nicely during the day to about 13 degrees.

Yesterday had been intense, and I was feeling all sorts of things all at once. I stayed up way too late last night and looked and felt like it this morning.

1 of 12 – Coffee. I needed many of these. This is my fabulous Kalgoorlie-inspired cup by the wonderful Kim, aka frogpondsrock.  I got this last month at Kim’s Mud & Ink exhibition with the cartoonist Jon Kudelka at the Long Gallery in Salamanca.

20150612-01 Coffee cup2 of 12 – The moon looked very pretty when I went out to let the chooks out. At 6.45 am.

20150612-02A Moon

3 of 12 – The chooks were still in bed at 6.45 am, like I wished I could have been. The two older ones came out at the sound of their food bin opening, but the young ones took a bit longer to get moving. I don’t blame them. In the meantime these two hooked in.

20150612-03B Chooks

4 of 12 – This person needs more coffee right now.

20150612-04B Walk to work selfie

5 of 12 – Nice to see these posters popping up around Hobart. They are part of Peter Drew’s “Real Australians Say Welcome” project.

20150612-05 Welcome6 of 12 – Some sort of restoration work at the GPO. (As you can see, I pay a lot of attention to what’s going on.)

20150612-06 GPO restoration

7 of 12 – It’s always exciting when “other mail” is waiting for me in the PO Box. The excitement is usually followed by disappointment when it’s not for me.

20150612-07 Other mail

8 of 12 – The bus mall coming out of the GPO is a dark and scary place. And look! I managed to get the person in the red top in my photo. Because in every photo you take of a tourist spot, building or landmark, there is always That Person In Red.

20150612-08B Bus mall

9 of 12 – Inbox Zero is one of my goals each week. I’m slowly making progress with my organisational systems. It’s one step forward two steps back some days, but I’m feeling a lot more in control than I had been.

20150612-09 Inbox zero10 of 12 – Well that’s a bit blurry. A planning application notice near Franklin Square. Unsure what it’s for. Not that you could read it anyway.

20150612-11 Planning application notice

11 of 12 – Fountain at Franklin Square on my way to the bus.

20150612-12 Fountain in Franklin Square

12 of 12 – The GPO at night and Dark Mofo’s light tower to show us what a real actual tower would look like. Apparently.  Art ‘n’ stuff.

20150612-10B A light