Tag Archives: #replenish365

20 for 2020: week 4

Week of 20 January

20200122 Sunrise Taroona Beach edit

Wednesday morning walk on the beach

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But anyway, baby steps.

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 3

Week of 13 January 2020

This was my last full week of work before school goes back so I am rather looking forward to some time off next week.

This week, I rang the hearing centre and booked a hearing test (thing 16). They didn’t have any appointment for the tests I need for three weeks but I’ve finally made the appointment, so this thing is now in progress after me putting it off for more than six months.

I read some more of my uni material (thing 8) and started work on some of the exercises. The unit officially starts on Monday and the first assignment is due three weeks later. So I think most of my effort is going to be directed at that for the next three weeks. I’m really excited for this unit because it focuses on self management and a lot of the material is stuff I’m already familiar with so I think I’ll enjoy this work.

I started putting my phone away when I’m travelling to work and have been reading on the bus instead (thing 14). In my quest to develop an evening routine (thing 3), I’ve started reading before I go to sleep most nights. So far this year, with these two new opportunities for reading, I’ve finished five books. Three of them, I started last year, but they are now out of the “reading” pile. You can find my reading list here.

Things went bit chaotic for a bit over the weekend and early in the week and I haven’t had a chance to listen to any more of the creative kickstart lessons (thing 3). I missed a few days of doing my “just 15 minutes” from that class where I sit down after my walk and work on my photo project (thing 1) but I got back on track later in the week.

20200113 Jaffa & T&G 3

Happy Monday!

I looked at my 196 hours that I figured out last week that I need to get everything I want to do done in a week from the Chapter 10 exercise of Indistractable (thing 13) and ran away screaming. Trying to work out what to let go of so I can do the things I really want to do.

Just about every productivity manual I’ve read says that if you want to get something done, you need to put it on your calendar and treat it like an appointment you might make with the doctor or a meeting you have to go to at work. This is great in theory, but I don’t work like that. I see “time block for photo editing” or “time block for meal planning and shopping list-ing” that I put in the calendar last week and if I don’t feel like doing it, I generally don’t. Same as setting an alarm to tell me it’s time to get ready for bed. I ignore it.

One of the suggestions in the creative kickstart class is that you identify the times you’re most creative and you put the time in the calendar to do creative things at those times. Which is also great in theory, but the times I find I feel I’m at my creative best, I’m either at work or I’m having to do something like cooking dinner that isn’t so easy to reschedule. As for other suggestions you need to schedule three to four hour blocks to sit down and do your work, believe me, there is nothing I would love to do more. But I work five days a week, I live in a house with other people who sometimes like to interact with me and for whom I sometimes have to do things like cook dinner. There isn’t a day during the week that I have three or four hours to devote to my work so this is never going to happen then. I’m sure I could structure my weekends better, but it hasn’t worked for me so far.

This whole scheduling time to do the things I love and that are important to me just isn’t working out for me.

By Saturday afternoon, I was feeling stuck and hopeless and ready to throw it all in. I walked out of the house, caught a bus to town and went to a location I love to photograph. 3pm Saturday is not a time I would ever “schedule” for creative work. The hours between 1pm and 4pm are my lowest hours of the day, I have no energy and am no good for anything. Yet there I was (after having a quick nap on the bus, which I’m sure the driver noticed and that’s why he stepped extra hard on the brakes at one of the stops), at my lowest time of the day, going out and doing what I love to do.

I have to rethink this one and remember that I only have to take from these programs the things that will work for me. I don’t have to do everything and I don’t have to do it perfectly. I have to do something and hopefully by taking small steps, I will start to see positive change.

The same goes for the wellbeing work (thing 3). The course rolls around every year and you can dip in and out, taking what you need at the time. Last year was the first time I listened to all of the classes (well actually I finished them in the first week of January this year). I didn’t do all of the activities but I did the ones I needed to at the time. Right now I am still trying to set up an evening routine, which is an activity for the middle of the year. I have a couple of journalling tasks left over from the end of last year that I want to do to close the circle on 2019’s work and, when I’ve done that, I will call this thing done. I’ll continue to listen to the lessons each week and pick up some of the work I didn’t do last year, but for the purpose of this thing, I specifically wanted to complete the last module and those exercises.

Finally, to scrape in progress in one more thing this week, I worked on a couple of photo collages from my 2019 photojournal (thing 4). I only have four more collages to actually make (and three from this year), then I have to print them and stick them in the book. I’m nowhere near as far behind with this as I was with my 2018 journal.

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

20 for 2020: week 2

Week two: Week of 6 January

Welcome to week two of 20 for 2020. This is the first full week for the year and I’m lucky I still have some time before my uni course starts to concentrate of some of the other tasks, some of which I think will be important to have done because they will help me stay on track with uni (thing 8).

The most obvious of which is Indistractable (thing 13), which is a book by Nir Eyal about helping out get control of your attention so you can do the things you really want to be doing. There is a bit of overlap between this work and the creative kickstart course (thing 6) and also the wellbeing work (thing 3) I’ve been doing so I think it’s good to be tackling them all at the same time.

Something that all three things look at is whether what you do every day is actually what you want to be doing. It’s described differently in all three, but the idea is that you look at how you spend your day, look at how you would spend your day if you were leading a life that you truly wanted to live and then start to see what shifts you can make to move your life closer to the life you want to be living. Each approaches it in a different way, and I love seeing the differences in approaches between a productivity person, a creative person and a person focused on health and wellbeing.

Rather than attempt to explain all of the three groups of activities, I’ll write about what I’ve been doing.

One of the first things I did was to track my time. This is important so you know what you spend time on and can assess whether you might be able to claim back some of the time you spend on activities that are less valuable to you so that you can work on things that are really important to you. I did this in excruciating detail for five days. I kept a spreadsheet and every time I started to do something different, I noted it down.

The first thing that struck me when looking back at it that every day I woke up to the alarm rather than already being awake (four of the five days) I lay in bed from 25 minutes up to an hour and 25 minutes. So over four days I wasted four hours lying in bed avoiding getting up. If that’s normal, it means I waste 365 hours a year avoiding getting up. That’s 15 days a year I spend in bed doing nothing. Two weeks!! I only get four weeks annual leave each year. I’d never waste two weeks of that like this, so what the hell am I doing this for?

I had never thought about it this way until I looked at those numbers.

The next thing that is painfully obvious is that I am very “distractable”. Other than things like walking, going out for a lunch break. watching a movie or spending time with family, the longest stretch of time I did any single activity for was 48 minutes. That was highly unusual. I did most of my work in 10-15-20 minute bursts (or even less), interrupted by emails, checking social media (48 times in five days and I think this is way less than I actually did), getting up to move, colleagues, text messages, phone calls, family members, my boss . . .

Not all of these were bad distractions. Getting up to move, for example, is very important for my physical wellbeing and to prevent further injury to my back. But a lot of them were distractions that I initiated myself, and this is where some of the work in Indistractable and the creative kickstart work is focused. Eliminating (or minimising) self-initiated distractions that take me away from the work I want to be doing. I don’t have to check social media ten times a day. I don’t have to check email that often either. What this exercise has shown me very clearly is my lack of capacity to work undistracted for long periods and, therefore, to get into a state of focused concentration where I can do my best work. This isn’t just at my day job; it’s at home too when I want to do some writing or photo editing, so when I say “work” I am talking about both.

Part of this is environmental and it’s not all down to me not controlling my attention. My day job is in a noisy open-plan office, which is not conducive to doing concentrated work for long periods. Indistractable has some ideas for minimising distractions in that type of environment, which I’ll get to later, but my work for this week has been on minimising the distractions that I create for myself.

One idea that has occurred to me is that I find I get annoyed by the walk breaks, which are reminders on my Fitbit at 10 minutes before the hour if I haven’t moved enough that hour, because I’m often (finally) settling into some work after dealing with distractions I gave into throughout the hour. So I thought if I restrict my access to my phone until the walk alarm goes off, that will minimise a lot of my self-initiated distractions and I can use the 10 minutes to have a break, move and check things on my phone if I want to. The challenge will then be to put it away again when I get back to my desk. I also think that in my day job it would be helpful to use the walk alarm as a trigger to shift into a different position and to take advantage of the sit-stand desks, so that’s what I’ll be focusing on trying to make more habitual. Using the walk breaks for good.

Distractions notwithstanding, however, the main purpose of this tracking exercise is to look at everything you do and to figure out what you’re doing that aligns with what you really want to be focusing on, and what is taking up your time and stopping you focusing on your work (however you define that, paid work, art, writing, blogging, photography . . .) and the things that are important to you, such as family, friends, walking, photography and chickens. Having done that, you decide whether you can get rid of some of the stuff that doesn’t align. If you can’t (hello, cleaning out the chicken enclosure) and, if not, whether you can delegate it to someone else, defer it until later, reduce the amount of time you spend on it, or change it in some way so that it does better align to what you want.

Travel to work is a prime candidate. It’s not a thing that aligns to anything. It’s something I have to do or I might find my cashflow stop rather abruptly. One way I got rid of it a long time ago was to start working from home one day a week, which, from where I was living at the time, gave me an extra two hours a day. Nice, but not available to everyone. Now I just scroll social media on the trip to work.

I want to read more. But I have no time to read. But I have an (approximately) 20 minute bus ride to work. Therefore, I have 20 minutes to read. Twice a day. Done.

I want to do more exercise. I bought an e-bike that get me to town with some effort but not enough to make it necessary to need to shower when I get there. Therefore, I have two sets of about 35 minutes of exercise.

Okay, that’s an easy one, but you get the idea.

On the same theme, Gretchen Rubin had this great idea many podcasts ago about mundane activities. She says that when you’re doing an activity that’s really boring try to put the word meditation after it to reframe it. “I’m doing waiting in line . . .  meditation”, which she says feels a whole lot better than being bored and frustrated by waiting in line or cleaning the bathroom or waiting for the bus (or subway in her case since she’s in New York). She refers to the saying “if you can’t get out of it, get into it”, which is, I think what “shifting” is all about. Related, Gretchen and Liz have an interesting discussion on boredom in this podcast, which is a little related to my Bored and Brilliant challenge (thing 12).

After looking at my activities and working out what aligns with where I want to go and what doesn’t, and discovering that there isn’t much on that list I do that I can actually delete, I worked through Chapter 10 of Indistractable, which asks you to allocate how many hours a week you want to allocate to each activity. Then you sit down and work out how to fit it all into your schedule.

My hours added up to 196.5.

This is after eliminating everything I no longer want to do.

There are 168 hours in a week. This ain’t gonna happen, kids.

Well, I do have 30 hours a week of work. 196.5 minus 30 is 166.5, which gives me an hour and half to watch a movie as well . . . .  Unfortunately, I also need the pay that comes with that work time!

So the work now is to figure out a schedule that gives me time to do what I love to do, and what I have to do. This is only chapter 10. There are 25 more chapters to work through.

I finished reading the book too, with my new bus reading habit (thing 14).

As I said, a lot of the work I’ve been doing for Indistractable has been connected to the wellbeing work (thing 3) and I did some of the journalling for that this week too.

I’ve now worked through seven days of the creative kickstart course (thing 6) as well, which covers a lot of the same ground. One suggestion I liked was to set aside “just 15 minutes” every day to create. I have started experimenting with doing that after my morning walk. The idea is not just to commit to the time but also to commit to what you’ll be doing at the time, so I decided to spend just 15 minutes every day on my photo project (thing 1). It’s not much, but if I do this consistently for a year it will be 90 hours I would otherwise have not devoted to the project. That’s nearly four days! I have to be able to get it done in that time.

I rode my bike to work (thing 10) and read some of my uni material (thing 8) in preparation for the start of the unit on 20 January.

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020: week 1

Week of 30 December

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

20200101 Indistractable

Indistractable by Nir Eyal

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

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

Summary for the week

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

20 for 2020

20 for 2020 is a continuation of 19 for 2019, which is an idea I stole from Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft’s podcast Happier (here’s the link to how Gretchen and Liz did on their 19 for 2019 lists). I think they actually started it with 18 for 2018.

I’m going to do 20 for 2020, which, I mean, how can you not? All the twos and zeros.

I haven’t made any further progress on my 19 for 2019 list since my last post, so in the end, I accomplished 14 of the 19 things I wanted to do in 2019. Three are still in progress (things 2, 6 and 16) and I will complete them, one I decided I didn’t really want to do (thing 14) because putting the systems in place to do it, rather than actually doing it, was more important, and I think I went some way to doing that. The other one (thing 10), I’m waiting on someone else so maybe I need to follow up.

Having learned from 2019, I’m going to include a mix of small things that I’ve been putting off for ages, longer term projects that I want to finish off and some new things that have just recently popped up in my life.

The first step was to look at my uncompleted 2019 things and decide if any of them need to be carried over into 2020. I’ve kept the photo project on the list (thing 16), getting my sewing machine fixed (thing 10) and completing the wellbeing program (thing 6), which will actually run again in 2020, so I will be able to dip back into that work as I need to.

I’ve also included two things that I did in 2019 and want to do again in 2020. And a whole bunch of new things.

Here’s the list

Carried over from 2019’s list

1. Complete my photo project

2. Get my sewing machine fixed

3. Complete the wellbeing course lessons from 2019 (and go back into this work over the year to pick up on things I missed last year or need to reinforce)

Repeated from 2019

4. Complete my 2019 weekly photojournal and put in place a system so that I don’t get behind with the photos again (I have kept up a lot better than I did in 2018 but I still have about 10 weeks of photos from 2019 to sort and edit)

5. Have an alcohol-free month

New for 2020

6. Complete the 21 days creative kickstart course I started at the end of 2019

7. Complete the Photoshop class I signed up for in 2019

8. Successfully complete my uni course and graduate

9. Use no camera other than my SLR with a single prime lens for 30 days and post a photo a day for the month

10. Ride my bike to work

11. Set up a mini studio at home

12. Finish the Bored and Brilliant challenge and write a blog post about it

13. Read the book Indistractable and do the activities it recommends (at work and home)

20200101 Indistractable

14. Develop and maintain a daily habit of reading for enjoyment

15. Redesign my study wall as a vision board

16. Have a hearing test

17. Learn to use my graphics tablet

18. Reorganise my sock drawer

19. Take a class in fermentation

20. Repot my orchid

21. Use the sprout jar

22. Commit to (and actually do) a monthly review every month

I know. There are 22 things on that list. Clearly maths isn’t my strong point or I have travelled in time to 2022.

Allow me to elaborate. The monthly review idea comes from Susannah Conway’s Unravel Your Year workbook, which is a lovely thing that Susannah sends out to her email list every year to help you figure out how you want your upcoming year to look. I’ve dabbled with these in the past and shoved them into a folder somewhere. This meant I never followed up what I wrote down in the early days of January and have come back to them 12 months later to find nothing I wanted for the year happened.

I couple of weeks ago I saw a post from a friend on Instagram about her starting her workbook and I commented that I never followed through with mine. She said she found the monthly reviews really good, which got me thinking about how staying more in touch with the book over the year might be key to actually getting the work done.

So I got it spiral bound at the local printers so that it looks more like a book and is a lot easier to carry round and write in than loose pages or putting it in a folder. I’ve been working my way through it over the last couple of days, pulling out some of the key themes to include as things for my 20 for 2020 list.

20200101 Uravel your year

The monthly review is a way for me to remind myself to check in on how I’m doing throughout the year, along with my regular(ish) blog updates.

I just threw the sprout jar in as a thing at the end because it’s been sitting on a shelf looking at me forlornly (almost as forlornly as my sick orchid that is in desperate need of repotting and if anyone knows how to do this please help!) ever since I got it. I figure it’s a small thing to do, one that I have been putting off for months, and if I include it here I might have a chance of actually doing something with it. I didn’t have the heart to bump anything else off the list to make room for it, so there it is. Something I could probably do in five minutes, but it will probably take me six months to actually do.

So there we have it. My brand new list for 2020 with lots of fun and challenging things to do.

19 for 2019: a review

20191101 Sunrise Taroona Beach 6 editIt’s coming up to the end of the year so it’s a good time to reflect on my 19 for 2019 list: what went well and what I didn’t quite do. I haven’t posted for a while because there hasn’t been much to say now. Every week since week 32 would have been much the same: I listened to one of the wellbeing course classes (thing 6), I added some photos to my folio (thing 2) and the sewing machine (thing 10) people still haven’t contacted me. I don’t have the big beautiful photo I imagined I would have (thing 14) and I’ve been dabbling with the photo project (thing 16) but I’m not going to get it finished.

So, let’s review what went well. I finished 14 of the 19 things I set out to do. I have three more classes of the wellbeing course so I might get there before the end of the year and I will have a folio of my favourite images of 2019 but I won’t have edited them or done anything with them.

I’m happy with completing 14 things from the list. I did some things I had been putting off for years, like getting a skin check (thing 4) and I now have a nice skin doctor who wears cool socks and I have reminders to rebook every year.

20190716 After manicure 3

We got manicures

I finished the 31-day photo course (thing 1) in a little longer than 31 days but I did it and at the same time gained a pretty reasonable understanding of how to use Lightroom (thing 19). I had my first manicure (thing 17) and I walked on a track in kunanyi (thing 15). I actually did this twice if being parent help on Kramstable’s bushwalk counts! I walked to Moonah (thing 3) and I filled up my Bucket List journal (thing 18) with not 50 but 100 things, so I also did that thing twice.

20190713 Bucket List Journal

Bucket list journal

I also had a bonus list of things I wanted to do but that didn’t make it onto the final list, so my real 19 for 2019 list was actually 30 things. I completed five of those things and I made a lot of progress on another one, so if you add those five to the 14 from the real list I actually did do 19 for 2019. I just picked the wrong 19!

I did a few other things I had wanted to do for a while too. I had a month off coffee and as a result I am no longer a regular coffee drinker. I didn’t buy anything I didn’t need to actually live for a month. I went alcohol-free for a month. And I almost completed the Bored and Brilliant challenge. I have one exercise to go. I should do it.

20190901 Tree on the Police Building 8-EditOn top of all that, I applied and was accepted into a university course through my work, which I had no intention of doing at the start of the year; it wasn’t even on my radar, but my manager encouraged me and I got seduced by the thought of graduation in a funky gown and a funny hat at the end of next year. So I’m now a uni student for the first time in more than 20 years and while the modules are running there’s little time for anything else. (Sorry, Weekend Wisdom posts.) I did way better in the first module than I ever dreamed possible and have three more modules to go. The last one is a workplace project, which I’m starting to gather some vague ideas about in my head and which might even end up here.

So that’s 19 for 2019 almost done and dusted. Out of all the things I wanted to do, there’s only one that I think was over-ambitious and that’s thing 14, make a photo I am proud of, frame it and hang it on the wall. I imagined that some of the other things, the photo course and learning Lightroom especially, would I have led me to be able to do this. I have a few photos from this year that I really like but none that stand out and say “this is the one”.

20190901 Boats at Derwent Sailing Squadron 14

I hadn’t given this too much thought until today when I was listening to David duChemin’s podcast, A Beautiful Anarchy. In this week’s episode, Learning to Drop, David talks about self-confidence and how if we mis-define the task we have to do, we set ourselves up to fail and, by failing, we fulfil the belief that we can’t do something. He compares it to juggling. If we think the task in learning to juggle is to juggle, we will fail and we will reinforce the belief that we can’t juggle. But the first task in learning to juggle isn’t to juggle, it’s to throw a ball and let it drop. We can do that task. Anyone can do that.

And so it is with creative work. If we identify the task as “I’m going to make a masterpiece” we are setting ourselves up to fail and to believe we can’t do it, because no one makes the masterpiece straight up. It takes a lot of throwing the ball and letting it drop before we can move onto the task of catching the ball. It takes a lot of “failures” and shitty first drafts, a lot of first lines, a lot of overexposed, underexposed, badly composed photographs that don’t go anywhere before we actually make any progress. David says

The creative life is one of failed first efforts. You’re meant to drop the ball so you can concentrate on what it feels like to throw it. Catching isn’t the point. Not yet.

So I think it was a mistake to want to make a masterpiece in a year. I should have focused on the process of creating and making and learning and experimenting and failing, not on the outcome I wanted. And, to some extent, I did that through the course and I want do to more of that in 2020. So there will be no “make a masterpiece” thing in my 20 for 2020.

Just like there will be no “read x books” in 2020 because focusing on the goal rather than the process this year meant that I basically gave up reading after I’d got to the magic number. Not what I wanted to happen when I wanted to develop a reading habit.

I’m going to use 2019 as a learning experience when I put together my 20 for 2020 list.

20191109 OHH-106 Construction House

How about you? Did you have a list of things you wanted to achieve in 2019? How did you go? Are you going to jump on the 20 for 2020 bandwagon with me next year? Let me know in the comments.

19 for 2019: week 32 update

Week of 5 August 2019

I’m finding as I make my way through my list of 19 things I want to complete, there are fewer opportunities to make a lot of progress now that I only have five incomplete things.

This week, I contacted the sewing machine repair people (thing 10) and I am on their list of people to contact next time they’re in town, so I’m playing the waiting game now. I’ve progressed that as far as I can.

I printed some of the photos for my photo project (thing 16) to see how they’d turn out when I finally finish the project. And I made a colour coding system in Lightroom for my folio (thing 2).

I’m still working on getting a bedtime routine in place (thing 6) and am slowly making progress. Sort of. I’ve been keeping up with the weekly classes too so I’ll call that progress this week.

Status for week 32

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