Category Archives: productivity

21 for 2021: week 18

Week 18/2021: week of 4 May 2021

21 for 2021 update

This week in the Change Journal I tried out the Eisenhower Principle chapter, which I am familiar with but don’t think I’ve ever actually used. It’s a way of prioritising things according to their importance and their urgency. I’ve seen it used to organise things in a long term way as well as to prioritise things on a daily basis. (James Clear has a good explanation of it.)

One of the ideas it promotes is to try and focus most of your time working on things that are important but not urgent, so that you work on them before they get to the urgent stage and you start to panic. However, we also know that many things that crop up on a day to day basis might be urgent but they aren’t really that important in the long term. And there a lot of things we might do that aren’t urgent or particularly important, such as excessive social media scrolling, which we (by which I mean I) spend way too much time on when we’d be better using your time on things that are important. 

Chapter 6 lays out an Eisenhower matrix for each day of the week so you can have a go at prioritising your tasks each day according to their importance and urgency.

I had limited success with this as a daily planning exercise and I think it would work better for long-term planning. I see it more as a way of identifying the things I want to be prioritising and the things I would be better off limiting, and then developing my daily to-do list from that and giving it a way of identifying the top priority things (a la the Circle technique). Something like that anyway. Because, for example, I’m not going to put “check twitter” in the not urgent/not important box of a daily list, but it is something that in a long-term big picture view would go in there.

I’m sure that makes no sense. So I’m calling that chapter done. 

I did some work on my resume (thing 18) this week. Due to a recent reorganisation in my team this week, I started a new job this week, which is going to give me some new challenges and, I hope, more of an opportunity to use my strengths and skills. As a result of that, I’m not sure I need to apply for a new job this year, so I’m taking that part of thing 18 off. I’m only going to apply for a new job if something irresistible comes up. I’ve been putting off saying my resume is finished because there are a couple of statements in there that I’m being overly picky about wording and it‘s holding the whole thing up.

I think I just need to do it and be done with it. It’s not like anyone is going to see it right now. 

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable.

This week I cooked with fennel, which is anther vegetable I don’t think I’d cooked with before. The recipe was called Fennel Cacciatore with Free-form Polenta Dumplings (page 72), and it’s Alice’s twist on chicken cacciatore. It’s another simple dish, which involves browning the fennel pieces mixing in some olives and garlic, then cooking with tomatoes for about 45 minutes. Alice says you can add chicken if you like or, as I did, cut up some pork and fennel sausages, cook them and add to the sauce.  

The recipe also calls for what she calls free-form polenta dumplings on top, which I found a little bit dry, and I imagine you could also serve it with a creamy potato mash.

This was another for the “will make again” list.

Regular projects

There are several things on my 21 for 2021 list that I have made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. How about ten minutes reading one of the books on that list?
  • Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. I spent a couple of hours on one of these videos on Sunday afternoon.
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I went to see my mum on Thursday and talked some more about her school days. 
  • Thing 17: Brainsparker gym*. This week, I completed Module 5. I was supposed to attend the live workout on Thursday morning but I managed to mix the time zones up and tune in an hour after the actual start time. That was 3 am, and there was no way I would have got up for that! I only managed to get up at 4 because I woke up then anyway. But I missed it, and went for a very early walk instead.
Ursula enjoying the wet weather this week

21 for 2021 week 18 summary

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

Blast from the past

Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s the final flashback to my favourite posts from 2011. This one is from 17 December 2011: The unchristmas tree. Coming up to midwinter (okay, that’s a few weeks away . . .), it’s a good one to finish this series with.

I think that means I probably should have finished sorting out my websites to coincide with the 10-year blogiversary (thing 13) but I haven’t. It’s a small matter of getting some words right. (See above comment on my resume.)

What I’m reading this week

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Dæmon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling by Philip Pullman
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 2
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 6
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 1 (er . . . )
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7

What do I want to do better next week?

See that number one next to the number of days I did some physical activity in the afternoon . . . ? That.

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21 for 2021: week 17 update

Week 17/2021: week of 26 April 2021

I  had a lovely day out with my sister and her friend at Mt Field National Park on Saturday, which was great because I could forget all about my to-do list and concentrate on  not rolling my injured ankle clambering over large rocks on the Tarn Shelf. Did I succeed? No, I did not. But I can still walk, so I don’t think I did too much damage.

I still have a tonne of photos to sort through, so here are just a couple of them.

21 for 2021 update

This week in the Change Journal I worked on chapter 5, Digital Detox.

I don’t know that I learned that much from the exercise other than that on a bad day, if I was on social media and email and watching TV as much as I was that day every day of the year, I’d spend the equivalent of 43 days a year doing that.

43 days!!!!

Actually, this is a bit misleading, because I don’t normally watch TV and I have been lately because I watch Masterchef with Kramstable, and I check the Twitter feed about the show on my phone at the same time, so a lot of the time I counted as being on social media was double counted as TV time as well. If I hadn’t been watching TV, I might not have been on the phone either.

 The idea of the chapter is to track your usage over the first four days of the week, to track your non-usage over the last three days and then work out how much time you’d save over a year by not going on the phone. I found that difficult, to actually track the times I thought about picking up my phone but didn’t do it, especially as I was out and away from the journal for most of the time so didn’t have any way to record near-misses. I sort of get what it was trying to do but it didn’t work for me. 

I know what my main triggers for wasting time on the phone are. They are being in between tasks, not being sure what I should be doing or not really having anything to do. I know that on days I have a lot to do and I just sit down and do it, I spend a lot less time on the phone. 

So I found this chapter more of a reinforcement of what I already knew, rather than something new.

Also, I completed 66 days of the habit of doing the pre-work routine (thing 20), which is part of chapter 7, so that thing is done. I’m also working through the journalling chapter (chapter 24).

I did some more work on my resume (thing 18)

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable.

 This week’s dish was Carefree Cabbage Curry (page 456). I’m not a huge fan of cabbage. In fact, I reckon it’s up there with Brussels sprouts and we already know what I think of them. However, Alice says, “Often, when cabbage gets braised, it is shredded, grated or chopped in some way where you lose the beauty of its folds and undulations. Here, the rich golden marinade and equally shimmering gravy only serves to emphasise the grandeur of this brilliant Brassica.”

Wow! What a description. It’s a love letter to cabbage, right? Writing like that is almost enough to turn the most ardent cabbage hater. 

Almost.

For this dish, you cut cabbage into wedges, marinate it and then cook it in what is a very tasty curry sauce. (Note to self: you have run out of Kashmiri chilli.) It’s actually nice.

Marinating cabbage. It’s a thing.

There, I said it. There is a cabbage dish I liked.

I think having the cabbage as such a big chunk bulks it up a bit so you don’t feel like you’re missing out by not having any meat in it. I can imagine I’d make this again. 

I even had nigella seeds already

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that I have made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. One hour on Saturday morning. I didn’t do this on Satirday as I was out but I did read a bit from one of the books that’s on the list during the week.
  • Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. I worked on this for a couple of hours on Sunday afternoon.
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to my mum this week, but I got her to identify some people in some old photos
  • Thing 17: Brainsparker gym*. I finished lesson 3 of Module 5.

21 for 2021 summary

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

Blast from the past

Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s another one of my favourite posts from 2011. This one is from 11 November 2011: eleven, which is about how I spent 11/11/11. Sick on the couch at home, it turned out.

I took a photo every hour that day for the 11Eleven project, which seems to have now disappeared. I don’t know if the book ever happened but I’m pretty sure none of my photos would have made it in!

When did I listen and what did I learn this week?

I went to a webinar on age discrimination in the workplace, which I found very interesting. One of the panelists asked why we have this constant fixation on chronological age, and said that focusing on age to categorise older workers is deficient and limiting. I found Kay Patterson, the Age Discrimination Commissioner, a real inspiration at age 76. This is all going to be relevant to my work in the coming months so it was a useful and thought provoking session for me.

I was also interested to see Hobart Council’s Crowther Reinterpretation Project in Franklin Square. This project provides local artists with the opportunity to respond to the statue of William Crowther, a public figure in mid-19th century Hobart.

The first project is called “Truth Telling” by Allan Mansell, and it considers Crowther’s treatment of Aboriginal man William Lanne (King Billy) after Lanne’s death, including decapitating his body.

There will be four temporary artworks involving the stature over the rest of 2021. While I was aware of Aboriginal people’s bodies having been desecrated in the name of white people’s “science”, I didn’t know about William Lanne’s particular story, and I think this project is a good opportunity to, as the project description says, “acknowledge, question, provoke discussion or increase awareness about the story of Crowther and Lanne”. These are important stories that we need to learn about.

What was the best thing about this week?

The Tarn Shelf walk.

What I’m reading this week

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Dæmon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling by Philip Pullman
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine(Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 4
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 5
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 4 work days): 4
  • 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): 7

21 for 2021: week 16

Week 16/2021: week of 19 April

This week I started Chapter 4 of the Change Journal, which is called the Circle Trick. This is a technique by Sigur∂ur Ármannsson,  which Tim Jaudszims, the Change Journal author, says he has modified a bit. It asks you to list your tasks chronologically in the order you have to do them if they have specific times they have to be done by, otherwise you can add them however you want. There’s a list of symbols you can use to tag that the tasks, a bit like the symbols that people use in bullet journals.

I didn’t know who Sigur∂ur is so I googled him. He is an Icelandic designer who seems to like fonts a lot. His website is font.is and a quick search of his blog archive finds a post from February 2009, where he talks about his way of recording tasks in a notebook to fit the way he uses the Getting Things Done (GTD) methodology. He’d been using this system for years, he says, and decided it needed a name, so he called it Circle. Just out of interest, Ryder Carroll, the inventor of the Bullet Journal system, says he was working on his system in 2007 and launched it in 2013.

I’m not going to compare the two systems. They use different symbols to denote to-dos, degrees of importance, and various stages of completion or cancellation (and bullet journalling goes way (way) beyond a simple to-do list). But looking at it from the simplest perspective, I don’t suppose it matters what symbols you use. You might start out with one set and change them as you get familiar with the system, how it works and what you actually need to symbolise. There are no rules. 

I tried it for a week, as a slightly different system to the one I currently use.

I say my “system”. That is, perhaps, being a bit generous.

What I like about Circle is that Sigur∂ur uses it in conjunction with a to-do app, so he might write something on the list, but he might later decide to move it out of the notebook into the electronic system. That item gets marked as completed in his notebook so that he can only see things he has to still do there. Of course, this relies on you actually checking your to-do app.

I check mine regularly.

 Ahem.

 Starting out, I felt a bit sceptical of the system as it appears in the Change Journal but, having seen Sigur∂ur’s original post and putting a couple of things back that Tim had removed, I think it makes more sense to me now.

The idea of putting things in chronological order put me off but I don’t think I read it properly the first time because they only need to be listed chronologically if they have to be done at a specific time. Nevertheless, on Day 1, I tried to allocate times to the tasks I wanted to do. I had a seven hour work day and I listed eight tasks, some of which relied on other people getting back to me, one of which was a quick phone call, and others that were not particularly well-defined, breaking all the rules about specifying an actual task.

At the end of the day, I had completed four of my eight tasks, worked on three of them and not done one at all. Actually I had completed five. One of them was to watch some training videos but I didn’t say how much I wanted to do, so I watched two videos and got up to the next written exercise and called it done.

 The photo gives you an idea. This was the only day I allocated times to the tasks. I’d generally do that in my calendar if I needed to get something done at a certain time rather than on the to-do list.

Not my actual tasks

I liked seeing very clearly what I’d done, with a bunch of filled-in circles, and where I’d overcommitted myself with a bunch of open circles. I think this is a technique I could keep working with, or at least incorporate some of the ideas into the way I plan my day. I think it’s worth persevering with.

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that I have made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. If you read last week’s post, you’ll know that I ordered a new external SSD to replace my apparently failing internal hard disk drive. It arrived on Tuesday and I set it up to be my computer’s main hard drive. Everything seems to be working fine and I’ve had no issues with it beachballing or freezing or being super slow. I really should have done this months ago instead of complaining about it.
  • Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. I spent an hour on Sunday afternoon working on this. It’s coming together well, I think.
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I went to see my Mum on Thursday as normal. She’d got held up at the doctor’s so we didn’t get as much time as we normally do.
  • Thing 17: Brainsparker gym*. I worked on lesson 2 of module 5.
It’s so tiny!
Yay!

21 for 2021 summary

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

Blast from the past

Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s another one of my favourite posts from 2011. This one is from 27 October 2011: The big 300, which is about reaching the 300-post milestone and still wondering what my blog is about.

When did I listen and what did I learn this week?

This week I went to two event organised by the City of Hobart’s Bush Adventures team. On Thursday I went to a session about playpus conservation in Hobart’s waterways and learned many things about the platypus. For example, they can climb up waterfalls and their bills are nothing like ducks’ bills. I also learned that the plural of platypus can never be platypi, as that is a Latin plural and the word “platypus” has its origins in Greek words for “flat foot”.

On Saturday, I went on a “fungi foray” with a small group led by mycologist Richard Robinson. And that is the first thing I learned, that a microbiologist who studies fungi is a mycologist. This was a lovely two-hour exploration of some of the fungi growing on the foothills of kunanyi. I think I mainly learned how much I don’t know about fungi—and how many of them there are all around us that we never notice.

I also saw some wicked spider webs.


What did I do for the Earth this week?

A key message from one of the speakers at the platypus session was that it is not enough to enjoy the environment, We have to actively take care of it and protect it. This is something to keep in mind for next weekend’s state government election.

Our beautiful Mountain, kunanyi

What I’m reading this week

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Dæmon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling by Philip Pullman

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine(Goal = 5): 3
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 2
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 6
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 2
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7

21 for 2021: week 15

Week 15/2021: week of 12 April 2021

21 for 2021 update

Working through the Change Journal (thing 4) I’m still working on the journalling chapter (Chapter 24), which relates to the new habit in Chapter 7 that I’m trying to form of doing 20 minutes of writing every morning. I didn’t start a new chapter this week.

I did a lot of work on one of my annoying undone things (thing 5) this week. Following my discovery about how to potentially address my Mac’s issues, I decided to post in the Apple support forums to see what the Mac gurus thought would work best in terms of getting an SSD to replace the useless hard drive. Before I did that I ran an Etrecheck scan, which they alway ask to look at before answering people’s questions. It came back with flashing red lights and the scary message that, not only is the hard drive useless, it is FAILING!

Nothing to see here

The Mac gurus’ advice was to get an external SSD as soon as possible, and one of them sent me some instructions on how to set it up as a startup drive.

After a bit of research, I decided which drive I wanted and went to order it. My delivery options were two weeks to have it delivered to my GPO box or I could pick it up from the post office shop on Tuesday. Two weeks to get it from the post office box or three days to get it from the counter AT THE SAME POST OFFICE.

Okay.

It’s ordered.

The other thing I did from that list was to take Kramstable into the bank and open his new account.

I spent an hour on Sunday afternoon working on Kramstable’s video (thing 8) and I went to see my mum on Thursday (thing 9). We tried to work out from Google maps where her childhood farm was. I got a vague idea but not the exact spot. I didn’t think it would be that hard, I mean if Saroo Brierley can find his childhood home in India on Google Earth, surely we can pin down the location of a farm on South Riana Road. Apparently, we can’t.

I worked on lesson 7 of The Compelling Frame (thing 11) and started module 5 of the Brainsparker gym* (thing 17).

Sunday morning walk

21 for 2021 week 15 summary

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

Blast from the past

Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s another one of my favourite posts from 2011. This one is from 23 October 2011: Find your passion. The lesson I still need to take from this, ten years later, is

I need a big push to get me started on anything, even if it’s something I love doing. This can only come from me. There are no excuses. I can either take the easy way and procrastinate, do nothing and continue to feel bad about that, or I can push through the pain of the resistance barrier, do something and end up feeling good about what I’ve achieved.

When did I listen and what did I learn this week?

I’ve been working through the Wicking Centre‘s Understanding Dementia MOOC, and this week I learned more about caring for people with dementia and the approach called person-centred care.

I learned that there are many different definitions of person-centred care, but to me it’s about recognising that every person is a unique individual with their own likes and dislikes. They have things that make them happy, they have things that make them sad. And before we attempt to provide care or address behaviours in a person with dementia, we need to know who that person actually is and what matters to them. What is actually important to them? What makes their life worthwhile? What is it that they really can’t stand? Things like their background and their history, what their occupation was, what their hobbies were underpin person-centred care so we get to know them as a person rather than as a “dementia patient”.

I also learned that people with dementia can get offended when people brush off lapses in their own memory as “dementia” if they don’t actually have the condition. Dementia is a terminal condition, not something to make jokes about in that way.

Finally, I learned that what is good for your heart (in terms of exercise diet etc) is also good for your brain.

More Sunday morning walk

What was the best thing about this week?

I took part in an assessment for a community grants program, which I really enjoyed. I felt a bit out of my depth as I didn’t have a lot of knowledge about the program and what was expected, but the program team had prepared clear assessment guidelines and outlined their expectations really well. I felt a lot more confident meeting with the rest of the panel and finding that for the most part, my views and rankings were consistent with what others had thought and that I wasn’t way out of the ball park. I also felt more confident knowing I had picked up on points that the some of the others hadn’t noticed. It was great to meet new people and to come together for a process like this and I appreciated the opportunity to be involved. This is a program I expect to be more involved with in the next few months, so it was a great introduction for me.

What I’m reading this week

  • On Writing by Stephen King
  • Dæmon Voices: On Stories and Storytelling by Philip Pullman

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine (Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 6
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 4 work days): 4
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 2
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7

21 for 2021: week 12

Week 12/2021: week of 22 March

I still haven’t started a new chapter of the Change Journal (thing 4) but I have been working my way through the Habits chapter (7), the Clarity chapter (8) and the Pitch Yourself chapter (9).

I mentioned doing the UK trip book (thing 10) to my mum a few weeks ago and she sounded interested in seeing it. I wrote a travel blog with photos while I was on the trip on a platform called Travelpod, which no longer exists, but I was able to save all the entries as webpages so I can see them in a browser. I could just print them but it would look a bit shitty so I think putting everything into a nice photobook would be a nice thing to do. It will give me a chance to go back and choose the photos to tell the story with more distance from the events, rather than being on the trip and having to pick photos on the spot every day for the post. And hopefully do a better job editing them. So I started looking around for a platform to make the book on and trying a few test templates to see what will work best. 

This week, it rained. The chickens got wet.

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from the book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. This week I used (most of) the rest of the pumpkin from the weekend’s soup to make the Classic Zesty Pumpkin Risotto (page 168). It took a lot longer than I expected. I don’t know if that’s because the rice was so old (as in, the last time I made risotto was before we moved to this house at the start of 2017 and the rice was left over from whenever that was) or if the recipe was just over-optimistic.

Pumpkin risotto

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that I have made a regular commitment to doing in the hope that this will be more likely to make me do them. I worked on these ones this week.

  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. One hour on Saturday morning. One of my undone things (actually, two) is to read a book I borrowed from a friend and haven’t read, and give it back to them. This week, I started reading one of those books.
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. I wrote up some more of my notes and spend way too much time googling my great great aunt Annie’s family. Someone made a comment on a post I wrote on here about my great great grandfather (aka Alfred the builder) a few years ago, to tell me that his grandmother was Alfred’s daughter, Annie. As Annie was my grandmother’s aunt, she’s my great great aunt, which makes this guy some sort of cousin (I think). My grandmother spent some time in NSW looking after Annie’s kids, so I’m guessing one of them must have been the parent of this guy. I would love to get in touch with him to find out if his parent ever said anything about their childhood and knowing my grandmother, but his comment has no contact details, so I have no idea how to do so. I’m following a couple of other leads to see what I can find. It’s fascinating how the idea to write my mum’s story has turned into a quest to find out about other family members.
  • Thing 11: Complete the Compelling Frame course. I did some more work on lesson 6.
  • Thing 17: Brainsparker gym*. This week I completed the second lesson of Module 4.
Saturday afternoon walk

21 for 2021 summary

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

Blast from the past

Following on from my 10-year review of my blog, here’s another one of my favourite posts from 2011. This one is from 29 August 2011: Dear inner critic. This is one I still battle with. Reading back on this made me cry.

What I’m reading this week

  • Diana: Her True Story – In Her Own Words by Andrew Morton
  • Wanderlust: A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
  • Writing the Story of Your Life: The Ultimate Guide by Carmel Bird

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine(Goal = 4): 4
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 2
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • 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): 7

21 for 2021: week 1

Week 1/2021: week of 4 January 2021
My 21 for 2021 list

This was my first week back at work so I decided it was as good a time as any to get back into the pre-work planning routine from the LifeHack program (thing 20). The video suggests following the exact routine for 66 days to cement it as a habit loop in your brain. I am struggling with that, not least because I’m not in the same place every day. It also feels very weird to try and work through a structured checklist like this. However, I will persist. 

Coincidentally, there is a chapter in the Change Journal (thing 4) about forming new habits, which also suggests trying new habits for 66 days. It gives you space to track seven new habits, presumably staring a new one every day for a week consistent with the way the rest of the book is structured to allow you to follow a new idea each week. I didn’t think it would be a good idea to try and introduce a new habit every day for a week, so I’m going to use this section of the book to track seven new habits over the course of the year. Unsurprisingly, the first one I’m going to try and follow for 66 (work) days is the pre-work planning routine.

I worked through the first module of the Brainsparker gym* (thing 17) and learned something really interesting. Well, as a contact lens wearer, I found it interesting. I learned that the modern contact lens was invented by a Czech chemist called Dr Otto Wichterle and his colleague Drahoslav Lím. Dr Wichterle had to leave the Institute of Chemical Technology after a political purge by the institute’s Communist leadership in 1958. He was appointed as leader of a new institute but, as it didn’t have a building at the time, he continued his research at his house. In 1961, he succeeded in producing the first four hydrogel contact lenses on his kitchen table with a machine he had made himself from a children’s building set, a dynamo from his son’s bike and a bell transformer.

The lesson from this: Keep going, even if the circumstances aren’t perfect. Use what you have and keep going.

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from Alice Zaslavky’s book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. This week I chose radicchio, which is another vegetable I’ve never cooked with (and, like okra, wasn’t exactly sure what to do with). I picked the radicchio and sausage pasta recipe.

Radicchio & sausage pasta ingredients

It uses pork and fennel sausages that you take out of the casing and smash up. Alice says to use the “fancy” ones, not ones that are packed full of fillers. It seemed a little sacrilegious to me to destroy the butcher’s work in putting these things together, and I wondered if using pork mince and fennel seeds might work as well. Perhaps I’ll try it one day. The recipe includes fennel, which is another vegetable I’d also never cooked, so I got two for the price of one with this dish!

Smashed sausages. Sorry, Meatgrrl.
Radicchio. Right.
Raddichio chopped.

It worked out well and everyone had seconds. So maybe it was worth destroying the sausages for. And I learned a very cool tip for adding zucchini to pasta rather than cutting it up and adding it to the sauce: use a spiraliser (I have one of those. I think I’ve used it once. I never forgave it after I cut myself on it). You put the spiralised zucchini in the colander before you drain the pasta and then let the pasta water soften it a bit.

Spiralised zucchini, yeah!
The finished product.,

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that are going to work best if I make a regular commitment to doing them. Consistency is the key. Brainsparker gym* is one (an hour a week) and the pre-work routine is obviously another one. So are these ones.

  • Thing 3: Complete the 30-day voice training course. I haven’t allocated time for this yet.
  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. One hour on Saturday morning. I didn’t do it this week because we went out most of the day, but I did work on a couple of the things on the list another time.
  • Thing 6: Grow some vegetables in the garden bed. One hour on Sunday afternoon for garden projects. I pulled out all the weeds and cleared space around it. I’m a little concerned that the cover for this garden bed is plastic that is rapidly deteriorating and I’m not sure what to do about that. No matter what I do, the plastic is still going to be somewhere, whether I throw it out or leave it. 
  • Thing 7: Clear out the area at the side of the house and make a space to sit. One hour on Sunday afternoon for garden projects.
  • Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. One hour on Sunday afternoon. I started the next video on my list. 
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. This week, I arranged with my mother to visit once a week to talk through this project and capture her memories.
  • Thing 10: Complete the ImageWork course. I haven’t allocated time for this yet.
  • Thing 11: Complete the Photoshop Classroom in a Book activities. I haven’t allocated time for this yet.

Yeah, I know I don‘t do well in sticking to a plan, but I have had some success in fixing regular times to do things in my week and making them habits so I’m hoping this will work for these things too.

Nice afternoon for a walk

What else did I achieve this week?

My regular check in: I finished the final collage for my 2020 photojournal and I now have all of them printed so I just need to stick them into the book to finish that off. It’s one of my annoying undone things.

I didn’t work on my Hobart Street Corners project on Thursday, which is the night I usually work on those photos, because my computer was playing up and it took two hours to even get any photos off my phone, much less edit anything. I finished off my backlog of 2020 photos on Sunday morning instead.

Last year I had some questions that I asked myself every week that would set me up for the new week, about what didn’t got so well that week and what I might do better next week. Most of the time my answer was that I was scrolling through my phone too much, and I never really kicked that habit, which I’m sure made for boring reading. It also made me realise that this approach wasn’t working so it was time to try something different. I have a bunch of questions for myself related to areas where I want to do better, not all of which I might be able to answer every week, so I thought I would answer just one or two of them on the blog each week rather than run through the entire list every week.

What did I do for the Earth this week?

There is so much going through my head. So many things I could do and so many things I should have been doing for years. Part of me wonders why bother? I can take all the small steps in the world to reduce my footprint but it won’t make a lick of difference if world leaders don’t make some hard decisions. We have to stop using fossil fuels and overfishing the seas and destroying rainforests and all the things we do that make our lives easier. We can’t sustain what we’re doing, we just can’t.

It all seems too overwhelming so, rather than give up because I don’t know what to do, I need to start somewhere and keep learning and making changes.

There are a couple of things that are extremely low-hanging fruit and I have no excuses not to do them.

The first one is the kettle. I had a habit of filling it up every time I use it, which is, I learned (and if I think about it, actually knew) a massive waste of energy I couldn’t find any exact numbers for Australia, but suffice to say boiling a kettle with 1.7 litres of water when I only need 500 ml is very inefficient and I don’t do it any more.

What was the best thing about this week?

Getting my new glasses so I can see again!

My blog also celebrated its tenth birthday, so I will be posting some more on that in the coming weeks.

Getting out for a lunchtime walk

Summary for the week

What I’m reading this week: A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough.

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

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 3
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 2
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 6
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7

The Change Journal

I’m not sure where I first heard about the Change Journal. Probably on one of the many stationery store social media feeds that I follow. 

It’s a journal by LEUCHTTURM1917 that was originally produced in German, with an English edition being released in 2019. 

Designed by Tim Jaudszims, it’s a guided journal that gives you 24 ideas to try out to see if they help you improve your productivity and organisation. Some of the ideas include gratitude, digital detox, single-tasking, reading, and decluttering.

Testing out ideas is one of my favourite things, as you’ll know if you’ve been following my blog for a while, and I’m a sucker for gorgeous stationery, so finding a beautiful notebook whose sole purpose is to let you experiment with new things is my idea of heaven! I was never not going to get a copy. 

Change Journal, Berry edition

In the introduction, Tim says:

“When you’re incredibly lazy and yet as full of ideas as I am, at some point you start searching for tricks to make your life a little easier. Like how to get more done in the same amount of time. No, hold on! How to get even more things done in less time! A fine idea but no matter how hard I tried I failed at it.”

Tim Jaudszims, Change Journal Founder

Hmmm, sound familiar? 

Tim observes that he used to try and keep journals in beautiful notebooks, like the LEUCHTTURM1917 journals, but he always lost the motivation after the first few pages. And his handwriting kind of wrecked the beauty of these fine books. I can totally relate. He decided to design his own journal that allows you to try out 24 different ideas for a week at a time (I refuse to call them “hacks”), with a brief explanation of the technique and then a week’s worth of daily templates to record your experiences.

Each chapter has a short introduction to the idea

Each chapter also has a review page where you can go over what you learned during the week and decide if you want to continue using the idea or if it didn’t work for you. The website has downloadable templates you can print if you want to keep doing it. 

A daily tracking spread, which includes tracking your water intake

This page gives you an idea of how it works. 

The weekly review page

You can work through the chapters in any order you want. The instructions say to flick through the journal and start with the chapter that looks the most interesting or that appears easiest to you. The only rule that Tim wants you to follow is that once you start a chapter, you need to stick with it for the whole week. He says using the journal should only take a few minutes a day so even if you hate the idea, it shouldn’t be too much of a chore to do the work each day and then, after the week, you never have to do it again. 
Basically, you just have to start. 

So after buying the book about six months ago and sitting it on the shelf, occasionally getting it out to flick through it and thinking how beautiful it was, I think that if ever there was a good time, it’s now. A new year, a new list of 21 things to do this year and an empty book, with 24 weeks worth of mini-challenges to do. If I start now, I’ll be finished by the end of June. Actually, there’s really only 23 challenges I need to do, as the first one is to drink more water. This is something I have already made a priority, and it doesn’t actually have its own template in the journal. Rather, each of the other 23 challenges has space to record your daily water intake, so I’m going to continue to aim for around 2.5 litres a day of actual water and record that in this book.

There’s a couple of others that I don’t think are going to work for me as weekly challenges, so I’m going to find different ways to do them as I get to them. The first one is the chapter called “clarity”, which sort of relates to the work I’ve been doing with the Unravel Your Year workbook and includes stuff that I might do over the course of a week, a month or even a year . . . or perhaps just one day. I started filling out this chapter as I was working on Unravel Your Year 2021, so this one is a work in progress rather than a weekly challenge. 

I’ve set up a page to track my progress with this journal. I think I need to pick up my German language studies again now so I can read the Change Journal’s Instagram posts! 

20 for 2020: week 52

Week of 21 December 2020

My 20 for 2020 list.

Hanging out with a sticky friend on Christmas day

What did I want to do better this week?
Keep pushing with the morning planning routine at work.

So, how did that go then?
I didn’t do it. I did, however, start to set up what I hope is a better way to manage my work that will make it easier for me to keep track of things and I’m going to try to use this routine as part of that next year. I’m off work for a week now. Not going to think about pre-work routines. Or work at all.

On to 20 for 2020
This week was the last full week of 2020 so, even though I still have a few days left of the year, I know I’m not going to get any of the remaining things finished. I decided to do my monthly review for Unravel Your Year on Sunday and then to focus next week on an annual review, as well as starting to plan for 2021. That will include making my 21 for 2021 list and exploring my “word” for 2021 using Susannah Conway’s other workbook, Find Your Word 2021.

So my final tally of how I went in my 22 things for 2020, at 29 December 2020 and unlikely to change, is:

  • Things completed: 18/22
  • Things I worked on but didn’t finish: 3/22 (the Photoshop course, the home studio and the graphics tablet)
  • Things I didn’t do: 1/22 (the fermenting class that got cancelled because of covid)

All up, I think it’s a pretty good result.

What did I achieve this week?
My regular check in: I kept up to date with my weekly photojournal and my Hobart Street Corners project.

I had some upsetting news that has shaken me up and I’ve not really been able to focus on much else. It’s not something I’m ready to share and it doesn’t directly involve me, but it is going to have an impact on my life over the coming months and it will mean I need to be gentler on myself for a while. I suppose it will also be an opportunity for me to learn to not try and change things that are outside my control.

As well as that, I had some exciting news, which is that one of my photos was chosen as a winner in the Open House Hobart photo competition for 2020.

Hobart Magistrates Court

I was super happy about this, and it was all the more rewarding because I had made the photo with my 50mm lens as part of my 50 photos challenge (thing 9). At the start of the Open House weekend, I was a little annoyed at myself for having timed the challenge to coincide with the weekend so I wouldn’t be able to use my 10-22mm lens, which is the lens I normally use to photograph buildings. But rules are rules and the wide-angle lens was locked away from temptation. I’m so glad I stuck with the challenge and only used the 50mm lens as it proved to me that I can make decent architectural photos without a wide-angle lens and has inspired me to keep experimenting with this lens.

What didn’t go so well?
I’m going to say I did as well as I could this week, and that’s enough.

What do I want to do better next week?
Be kind to myself, get as much rest as I need, and be present with the people I care about.

Afternoon walk to clear my head

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 18 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21, 22)
  • Things I progressed: 0
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 3 (7, 11, 17)
  • Things not started: 1 (19)
  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 0
  • 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 = 7): 6
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 4 work days): 3

20 for 2020: week 50

Week of 7 December 2020

My 20 for 2020 list.

What did I want to do better this week?
I wanted to track how many times I mindlessly picked up my phone and scrolled through stuff for no reason.

And to force the morning ritual at work.

So, how did that go then?
I forgot about tracking my phone pickups and I did three out of four work days of the morning ritual. It feels forced and awkward and I am going to keep pushing it to see if it works.

On to 20 for 2020
I’m coming to the end of my 50 in 50 photo project (thing 9), where I only use my 50mm lens for 50 days and take a photo with it every day. I’ve been posting those photos on my instagram and on my photoblog.

Day 45: Farewell to the Aurora Australis (there are more photos on my photoblog).

I flicked back through the book Indistractable (thing 13) and looked through some of the thing I said I was going to do. I think I need to sit down with this once and for all and be done with it.

What did I achieve this week?
My regular check in: I’ve been staying up to date with my Hobart Street Corners project and my weekly photojournal.

One of my things this year was to develop and maintain a daily habit of reading (thing 14). It doesn’t matter how much I read, a few pages, a chapter or an entire book, as long as I read each day. Mostly, I’ve been reading a few pages every night before I go to sleep. Shutting down my computer earlier and getting to bed earlier has meant I’ve actually been awake enough to do this. I haven’t read a lot during the day. Sometimes on the bus but otherwise it’s mainly been an evening thing. And I’ve managed to read 30 books this year, a few pages at a time. Making reading a habit rather than setting myself a book target for the year has been a lot more of a successful way to read more, so I’m happy with how this has gone.

While I have been reading books a few pages at a time, there are sone that I haven’t been able to put down. One of those was Truganini by Cassandra Pybus, which I bought last week. I finished most of it in a day and found it a profoundly moving and disturbing read.

This week’s reading

As I read, I was reflecting on my own position in this country, and it occurred to me that had the events described in the book not occurred, not only would my ancestors have never come to this country, lutrawita, but I would not have been born. It’s a confronting thing to think about, but something that I have to own, and my thoughts were very much along the lines of Cassandra’s in the book’s Afterword. She writes

 . . . every Australian who is not a member of the First Nations is a beneficiary of stolen country, brutal dispossession, institutionalised racial discrimination and callous indifference. The expropriation of the territory of a generous people, and the devastating frontier war and dispersal that followed, is Australia’s true foundation story, not the voyage of Captain Cook or the arrival of the First Fleet.

The question we must all wrestle with is how the majority immigrant society acknowledges what is owed to the original people who possessed their territory for more than sixty thousand years, and who have never ceded that sovereignty to the British Crown of the Commonwealth of Australia. The very least we can do is pay attention and give respectful consideration when the original people of this country tell us what is needed.

The First Nations of this country want their unique relationships acknowledged and respected; they want to hold their heads high in their own country. That is not too much to ask.

This is something I feel strongly that I have an obligation to learn more about, and I also believe I have to find out what I can do to play a role in what this nation needs to do to build a stronger relationship with its First People.

What do I want to do better next week?
I want to be finished with Indistractable!

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 16 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21)
  • Things I progressed: 2 (9,13)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 4 (7, 11, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 1 (19)
  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 4): 3
  • 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 shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I went for a walk in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 5
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 4 work days): 4

20 for 2020: week 49

Week of 30 November 2020

My 20 for 2020 list.

What did I want to do better this week?
I wanted to track how many times I mindlessly picked up my phone and scrolled through stuff for no reason.

So, how did that go then?
I forgot.

On to 20 for 2020
I’ve been focusing on my 50 mm photo project (thing 9) this week. I got a bit behind in editing so I spent some time catching up with that.

Day 34 of the 50 in 50 project

What did I achieve this week?
My regular check in: I did my weekly photojournal and worked on my Hobart Street Corners project.

Apart from that it’s been a pretty slow week. Last week I was talking to someone about Christmas trees and I said I hadn’t put mine up last year until a couple of days before Christmas and had assumed no one was interested. Then Kramstable asked why we hadn’t put up the tree and it was done in very rapid time. The very day after that conversation, he asked when we were putting it up. So we did that together.

Oh Christmas Tree . . .

As you can see, I put a lot of effort into it.

I went to the optometrist during the week to get all of my scripts reviewed. This resulted in me needing new computer glasses, new normal glasses (my current pair is over six years old), and handing over a lot of money. It was one of those times when I didn’t realise how much I needed new glasses until I saw what a difference a tweak to the script would make.

What didn’t go so well?
I’ve just learned about a new way to plan my work days, which may or may not be helpful for me. It involves sticky notes. I’m going to try it over the next couple of months and see if it helps me.

The idea is to follow the routine exactly as written for two months to implant it in your brain so that it becomes a habit. I did it for one day and it felt awkward and forced and I didn’t do it the next day. I’ll blame being really late for work the second day because I was at the optometrist and I’ll try again next week.

What do I want to do better next week?
Force the morning planning ritual.

Summary for the week

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 15 (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 21)
  • Things I progressed: 1 (9)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 5 (7, 11, 13, 17, 22)
  • Things not started: 1 (19)
  • Days I did the morning planning ritual (Goal = 5): 1
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 6
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 0
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I went for a walk in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 3
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5