Category Archives: photo editing

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 30

Week of 20 July

My 20 for 2020 list.

In my quest to find a regular time to sit down and focus on my creative work for longer than 10 or 15 minutes snatched here and there, I thought Tuesday afternoons might be a good time. Except for the Tuesdays when I have appointments in town, which, for the next couple of months, is every second Tuesday. Not really a routine I can get into at this stage. But this week, I did have a free afternoon on Tuesday and I figured I should take advantage of the time rather than talk myself out of doing any work because I couldn’t do it every week at the same time. (That is really scraping the bottom of the barrel for excuses not to do something, isn’t it . . . ?)

20200723 Macquarie St 749am edit

Macquarie Street, Thursday morning

It was time to get back to the Photoshop course (thing 7). I had a look at the exercises and realised I’d forgotten most of what I’d seen in the videos because it had been so long since I’d watched them, so I went back and watched a couple of them.

That went well, and I went to do the work, but . . . Photoshop wouldn’t cooperate, which meant I had to spend time googling how to fix what wasn’t working. Adobe and my computer don’t really get on very well.

Once I finally got it working, I was able to run through some of the exercises, reminding myself that (a) I was working on a copy of the file so it didn’t matter what I did to it and (b) this is all just experimenting and learning and there are no mistakes or failures here. I would call the afternoon’s work a moderate success.

Cementing my bedtime reading habit (thing 14), I finished reading the book Down the Dirt Roads by Rachael Treasure, which I got for Christmas a couple of years ago.

20200726 Down Dirt Roads 2

Down the Dirt Roads

It was a fascinating story of a Tasmania that I, a lapsed suburban gardener, am only vaguely aware of. In the book, Rachael gives her account of learning about better land management and reconnecting with feminine principles in an attempt to restore the land from the practices of generations of intensive farming practices and big agri-business that have depleted the soil and provide us with food that is nutritionally deficient. It made me disheartened to read of consequences, some of which I was already aware of, about what our culture of “bigger and more” means for the food that we eat and the land we live on and, ultimately, our future and our ability to survive in a changing climate. How we have wiped out tens of thousands of years of sustainable land management in just a couple hundred years and the reluctance of most people to question ingrained habits, practices and assumptions.

But it also encouraged me to know that there are people like Rachael who are quietly going about promoting better ways to do things and there are people who are starting to listen. Her philosophy resonates very strongly with me, and reading her words made me want to find out more about what I can do as a consumer to make a difference besides my boycott of big supermarket chains.

20200720 Pepsi egg edit

Our first post-moult chicken egg

Unlapsing my “lapsed gardener” status might be a good start. I should have put that on my list!

I emailed the sewing machine people to arrange for them to repair my machine (thing 2). This was a thing on my 19 for 2019 list and I had emailed them last year but it hadn’t happened. I was waiting for them to let me know when they’d be in the area and hadn’t realised it was almost 12 months ago I first made contact with them and hadn’t followed up!

Conscious that I keep saying I need to get back into the book Indistractable (thing 13) but don’t do it, I picked it up again on Saturday and reread chapters 20 and 21 which are in the section about getting rid of external triggers. I’m already doing some of the things Nir Eyal talks about in these chapters, but I have a bad habit of seeing articles and blog posts and leaving them all open in browser tabs, which creates a lot of clutter on my phone and on my computer. So I decided to try Nir’s suggestion of using the app Pocket to keep articles I want to read in one place and making time to read them rather than leaving them as open loops on my devices. The result of that was that I closed more than 20 tabs on my browser on my phone and about ten on my computer. And I listened to several webinars and interviews I’d never got around to listening to.

One of these was an interview with the actors who played Julian, Dick and Anne in the 1970s TV series the Famous Five. I used to love that show and it brought back heaps of memories listening to them talking about their time on the show. Kramstable has the DVD set and it’s made me want to watch them all over again.

Fun fact: Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor Who, appeared in one of the stories and Gary Russell, who played Dick, was a massive Doctor Who fan (weren’t we all in the 1970s?). He’d been told not to talk to Patrick about Doctor Who but he said he couldn’t help himself and after a few days on set asked Patrick to sign a copy of one of his books. He said Patrick then sat down and talked to him about the show for more than three hours. Gary Russell went on to have a long involvement with Doctor Who both in the spin-off work throughout the years after the original show was cancelled and as script editor on the new series.

I’m all nostalgic about the TV of my childhood now. Grange Hill, anyone?

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, 7, 13)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (8, 11, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 4 (9, 12, 19, 21)
  • Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit: 5
  • Days I read a book: 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches: 3
  • 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 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

20 for 2020: week 21

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

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

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

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

20200519 Concoction of potions 2 edit

Begone, itchy hands!

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

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

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

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

So there’s that.

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

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

20200523 Shattered dreams and broken 3 edit IG

Trampled dreams

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

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

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

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

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

Summary for the week

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

 

20 for 2020: week 19

My 20 for 2020 list.

Week of 4 May

This was week 2 of the third unit of my uni course (thing 8). Our lecturer said this means we are more than half way through, unless you are counting assignments, in which case we’ll be half way through when we submit the one we’re working on now. It will be number five out of nine. The assignment is due on Sunday and I am quietly freaking out about it.

20200507 Boats at Sandy Bay 2

Quick stop on the way home from the physio

I really can’t relate my work to the material in the course and I had to contact the lecturer to clarify what I have to do in this assignment. I’m a little clearer now after chatting with her and sitting in on the online workshop on Wednesday night but I still have a long way to go and less than a week to get there. This is the least prepared I have been for any of my assignments. Normally I’d have a fairly robust (and very long) first draft by now and I’d be giving myself a week and a half to refine it and make it fit the the word limit. Right now, all I have is a vague outline and a few references, and it’s making me very edgy and unsettled. I really need some very large blocks of uninterrupted time to focus and I don’t seem to be able to carve them out. My plan to spend all of Sunday on it got upended, and the closer the deadline gets, the more I’m doing to avoid the work. But feeling overwhelmed isn’t helping and I need to sit down and just do it. Just focus on one step at a time but I can’t even work out what the first step needs to be. This is the most frustrating part of the course for me so far and it’s not pretty.

Since I did the 21-day creativity kickstart program (thing 6), I’m dedicating the small pocket of time that I have after my morning walk to my creative work, because I need to do something creative to stay sane. I’ve started using the time to watch the Photoshop course videos (thing 7B) and I am really excited about this work. It’s what I really want to be doing right now, which makes it all the harder to do the uni work. Right now, I’m questioning why I even signed up for that. I think I’m in way over my head and I don’t know how I’m going to get the work done.

For the assignment, they recommend drawing a “rich picture” to demonstrate the relationship you are analysing. I thought this would be a good opportunity to practise using my graphics tablet (thing 17). In hindsight, this was a bad idea because I have no idea how to draw stuff and I made a complete mess and nothing worked and I went back to pen and paper (after a mammoth effort on the whiteboard). I’ll chalk that up as a learning experience and leave the tablet for something that isn’t time pressured.

One of the tasks for the wellbeing work (thing 3) is to keep a track of everything you do for a couple of days. I did that a while back for Indistractable (thing 13) but I figured things have changed a bit since then so it might be worth doing this again with my new  schedule and seeing where the windows of wasted time are popping up. I can probably guess. Any time I try to sit down and do my uni work would be the main one! I’ll try and track my time for a few days over the next week to see if this is correct. I did some more journalling work for that class as well.

I’m happy with my continuing reading habit (thing 14). This week I finished Rob Lowe’s second book, Love Life. Rob was one of my first teen idols (after the cricket players and footballers I used to adorn my bedroom walls with) and I have found both of his books (I read Stories I Only Tell My Friends several years ago) interesting and insightful.  According to my trusty habit tracker I have done some reading every day since 8 March. It means I am slowly working my way through my unread books piles. (Yes, piles.)

20200506 Love Life

Love Life

Now, enough complaining. Back to the assignment.

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 18

My 20 for 2020 list.

20200501 Hinsby Beach 6

Afternoon walk

I signed up for a new Photoshop course during the week. It’s by one of the instructors of the other course I’m doing (thing 7) and when I got the email advertising the course at a massive discount I thought for ages about whether I should sign up for another course when I hadn’t made much progress with the one I was already doing (and not making much progress on). But the special deal and super discounted price were sweet and I am a sucker for signing up to pushy emails that try to sell me courses, so here I am.

I did do a bit of research and I asked them about whether there would be much overlap between this course and the one I’m already doing. There isn’t, and their answer is what really convinced me to do it, which is that this is more of a Photoshop course and it covers a lot of the basic elements of the app that I don’t know much about and have been using with only a vague idea of what I’m doing and get frustrated when they don’t work properly. I think this course will give me more of what I need right now and it will give me some of the foundations I need to do the course I was originally planning on doing, which covers some elements of photography as well as Photoshop. I’ve started work on the first module and have learned (and applied) a lot already. One of the first lessons was about setting up a graphics tablet and I learned a couple of new things about my tablet (thing 17), which was a bonus.

20200430 Lavender on my walk 4

Collecting ideas on my walk

As a result of starting this course, I decided to change my 20 for 2020 list slightly and make this new course thing 7 on my list. Of course, there’s no reason why I can’t complete both of them this year, and that would be brilliant. But looking at the uni work (thing 8) for the next two and a bit months, and then the final unit after that, I can’t see me having a lot of time to devote to these courses until the middle of October when uni finishes. So I am just aiming to get one course done, or as much of it as I can, this year. I think this will require some better time management and scheduling than I currently have, and I will need to go back and finish the Indistractable work (thing 13) so that I can become more focused.

Unit 3 of my uni course officially started on Monday and the first assignment is due in two weeks. No pressure! After a full-on unit last time and with all the odd things going on at the moment, I’m finding it really hard to muster any enthusiasm for it at all. I’ve been enjoying the extra free time to work on my creative projects and I feel like I’m making progress there. So I need to get my head around this. It does seem like it will be relevant to my work and will have things we can apply at work throughout the unit but the thought of starting a new unit, with new materials and a big reading pile, is not filling me with joy right now and I’ve only started one of the readings.

I continued to work on the journalling for the wellbeing course (thing 3) and am finding the overlaps between this and some of my personal development work from the previous uni module really useful. Some of it also links to the Indistractable work.

20200430 Tree at Taroona beach 4

Same tree as last week, slightly different light

I’ve been reading in bed every night (thing 14). I never used to like to read in bed so I didn’t think this was a good time to do it but now I’m going to bed earlier than I used to, I’m not quite as tired and reading puts me more in the mood to sleep than before, when I’d just crash as soon as I got into bed.

Sunday was my allocated day for doing my monthly review of my Unravel Your Year workbook (thing 22). Sitting at home in my room with a takeaway coffee isn’t quite the same as sitting in my local coffee shop first thing in the morning, but these are the times I’m living in and I’m glad the coffee shop is close enough for me to be able to do this. It was still nice to reflect on what I learned last month and to clarify what I want to focus on this month. Now I just have to get myself to work on that uni assignment!

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 17

Week 17: week of 20 April

My 20 for 2020 list.

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

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

20200426 How to love Brutalism

This week’s reading

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

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

20200420 Abandoned Wrest Point 11

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

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

20200424 Tree in Jenkins St 2

Beautiful afternoon light

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

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

20200423 Tree at Taroona Beach 2

More beautiful afternoon light

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

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 15

Week 15: Week of 6 April

My 20 for 2020 list.

I’ve lost count of the number of weeks since we have been in the world of covid-19, where no one is supposed to go out unless they are going to work or school, getting essential supplies or medical treatment, or exercising. People aren’t allowed to gather in groups of more than two unless they are family who live together, shops are closed and streets are a lot more empty than usual. I’ve been in this kind of transition state, where I would prefer to be working from home but haven’t had the technology to do so every day and have needed to keep going to my office two or three days a week. The one day in, one day out has been making me feel quite unsettled, like I’m not really in one place or the other, though I have also been grateful for the change of scenery and the chance to ride my bike on roads that are a lot quieter than normal.

20200406 Centrepoint 1230pm

Centrepoint, Monday 12.30pm

(When I said I wanted to practise riding to work when there were fewer cars around, I didn’t mean I wanted there to be a pandemic that shut the world down and stopped most people going to work. A few rides on weekends and leaving for work earlier would have been quite sufficient, really.)

20200408 Wellington Court

Wellington Court

Anyway, I got the technology update on my laptop that means I can work at home most of the time from now on, so my trips into town for work are going to be a lot less frequent. I think this will help me to feel a bit more settled working from home and to get into more of a routine. Now that I can use my work laptop at home, I’ve set it up on a different desk from my normal computer so I’m hoping that will keep me away from the distractions that my Mac likes to offer up when I’m trying to work.

20200408 Stay home at Easter message from the govenrment

Easter message from the government

I’m also going to start putting into practices some of the things I’ve been learning from Indistractible (thing 13) to try and stay as productive as possible in what is turning out to be a very unusual year.

I got the first set of course material for the next unit of my uni course (thing 8) this week. This is a unit called “Managing Outwards in a Networked Government” and I’m sure they weren’t thinking of remote networks and everyone working from home because of a global pandemic when they came up with that title. It’s going to be interesting to see how this unit goes in the current climate, when the way government does business could change dramatically over the next six months.

I still haven’t sorted out what I want to focus on this month from my monthly review (thing 22) and I’ve been making lists and mind maps and trying to make things link together . . . everything except making a start on anything. I feel like I need to do everything and that I am frittering my days away on make-work rather than actual work. I think I’m falling into the trap of trying to have everything planned out, when I don’t need to. I just need to know the next thing I need to do. And I’m also falling into the trap of feeling like I have to use the extra time I have at home, which isn’t really that much more than normal because I don’t go out much anyway, to do something and learn something and be useful, when what I really need to do is take the opportunity to look after myself, to rest and to not get sick.

At the same time though, there are things I want to be doing and that I can do. My world hasn’t turned so far upside down yet that I can absolve myself of all responsibilities. I have a little time to be doing things I want to do. Striking a balance between being and doing will be important in the coming weeks.

I continued to work on my photo project (thing 1) for 15 minutes every morning. On Friday, which was a public holiday, I decided I wanted to finish it once and for all. I had a few little things to tidy up that I thought would take maybe a couple of hours.

Ha.

I kept finding little things that weren’t quite right or that I had overlooked. Then I came up with a new idea to include that meant I had to edit some more photos. And then I found that the format of the quotation marks was different in some captions to others . . . By the end of the day, there was only one thing left that was bugging me and I didn’t know how to fix it, so I left it.

20200412 Hinsby Beach 08

Leave it, go out for a walk

I did some more work with it on Saturday but it was late at night by the time I finished. I thought I was ready to have it printed but I decided to have one last look in the morning when I wasn’t as tired and I’m glad I did because there was a huge typo in there! Then when I got to preview the ready-to-print product I decided I didn’t like how some of the pictures looked, so I went back to change them. But I finally said enough was enough and uploaded it and sent it to print.

Done is done. Perfectionism, begone!

I watched a video on how to set up my graphics tablet (thing 17). I imagine that is going to take a bit of getting used to, to use a pen instead of a mouse. One suggestion was to use it exclusively instead of the mouse until you get used to it, which makes sense, but picking it up and putting it down all the time sounds like it would be a bit annoying. But I guess the more I use it, the easier it will be.

20200412 Setting up the tablet

Let’s find out how this works

I also did some work on my dodgy home studio (thing 11), which involve attempting to get wrinkles out of the backdrops, which wasn’t successful. I’ve googled some other ideas to try for that.

20200412 Scoby hotel edit

Sunday kombucha brewing

Bedtime reading (thing 14) seems to have become a thing for me. I didn’t like it before but I seem to have got more used to it now and am quite enjoying it. I guess it’s become part of that evening routine that I’m struggling to develop.

20200412 Light on Eastern Shore 2-Edit-Edit

Sunday afternoon

Summary for the week

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