Goals // Week 47

This week shouldn’t be any more difficult than the last. I have the same amount of work scheduled and the same surplus of free time. The trick will be the same as the trick always is, to be mindful of how I spend my time, to keep at it even when I don’t want to, and to be fiercely protective of my focus. 

This week I want to:

Listen to more music. I love finding new playlists to listen to while I work or write or read but lately, I have had to be so available for others that there is no time to tune out and focus. But, as someone who suffers from social anxiety and a tendency to overthink and succumb to irritable moods, music is a vital recalibration tool. Music is self-care. Bonus: Listen to more podcasts too!

Find a little spark for my next piece on Zen and Pi. I am excited to be publishing writing outside of my daily journals and life updates here but I’m feeling pretty low on direction and ideas at the moment. This week I will spend some time with pen and paper mind mapping and listing even the most uninteresting or absurd ideas. I would love to end the week with 5 things I’m excited to expand on.

 Get through the first half of The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller. I finished Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky last night—finally!—and I’ve already picked up the next book. The Song of Achilles wasn’t supposed to be my next read, but I feel the need to switch gears and lose myself in fiction for a while.

Continue waking up on time every morning. I’ve been doing so well in the mornings and I really want that to continue for as long as possible. This week I’m going to remember that getting ready for any day begins the night before and that “5 more minutes” in bed never feels good and does great damage to the rest of the day.

Finish my resume and prepare for an upcoming interview. This is exactly the kind of task that I would avoid doing until the last minute. I’ve never had a resume before. I don’t know what I am doing, I’m afraid of looking foolish, and I am afraid of failing. At the same time, I know it won’t actually take very long. My mind will convince me it’s ok to put it off. Do not listen! Bonus: Ask two or three trusted coworkers for a letter of recommendation too.

This week I’m going to build on the progress from last week but only an incremental amount, that is key! I’m still not feeling like my healthier self and I fear I’m getting worse all the time. I fear burnout, overstressing, and exhaustion. I fear there’s a high possibility that by midweek I’ll have done all I can and I’ll have to cut these goals short just to get through the workweek, and that will have to be okay.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 46.

Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

Goals // Week 46

This week should be a lot easier than the last two with my work responsibilities winding down for a while and I plan to spend that time catching up on all the time I missed spending on my own hobbies and personal pursuits.

This week I want to:

Take care of myself. I’ve stressed my mind and body too much and skipped too many doses of my medication these last couple of weeks. Moving forward my sleep, food, and medication schedules have to become my top priorities again. Also, as a consequence of my self-neglect, I need to contact my doctor and discuss my returning symptoms before things get any worse.

Update: I made sure to keep my work schedule light, to go to bed on time, to eat my meals on time, to move my body a little more, to get outside a little, and, most importantly, to take my medication. I wasn’t perfect, but I was so much better than the last two weeks. I count that as a win.

Walk on the warm days. The weather forecast is predicting six out of the next seven days will see near 60-degree highs. I know that nothing eases seasonal depression like the warmth, sunshine, and exercise. Soon there will be days and days where the cold wind will blow and the clouds will stick around. Fight the melancholy while you can!

Update: I’ve been feeling so tired that dedicating any block of time to walking felt beyond any amount of energy I could muster. I did make an effort to take short walks between the buildings at work throughout the day but because I didn’t even hit my step counts goals I can’t count it as a win.

Finish reading the last of Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky. I have less than 150 pages left now and if I buckle down and read a little every day, I could finally move on to something else, something I’m looking forward to desperately.

Update: I did it! Just before bedtime Sunday night I turned the last page of the nearly 1000 page volume and set it down for the last time. I loved the book and I plan to write a proper review soon. I even plan to read it again, next year perhaps, but right now all I want to do is start a new book, The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, something to get lost in.

Post a short introductory post to Zen and Pi. I purged the site over the weekend in preparation for a new beginning and like a new notebook or a pristine canvas, it’s only after you’ve marred the perfection that you can allow for creativity and mistakes.

Update: It not very good, and it’s not very interesting, it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, and it isn’t even exactly what I had hoped to say when I started it but it’s up. I plan to post more, weekly, maybe, or closer to monthly, probably, but as often as I can for sure. I only need to work at it every day and to remember that the goal is to get each piece just 80% where I want it.

Mark everything off of my to-do list every day. My list isn’t very intense. It’s just one or two small things to do both during my breaks at work and after I get home from work. I’d like to get these small things done during the week rather than saving all the small things for the weekends and leaving no time for larger projects or time to get out and do something fun.

Update: I was doing really well at first, but just after midday on Thursday I’d lost the momentum. I want to say I got 50% through my weekly list but that might be a little too generous. In my defense, it was the first week since I merged all my lists and put so much effort into completing so many tasks. I made progress.

This week I won’t be too hard on myself and I won’t ask too much of myself either. I need to destress. I need to take a break. I need to focus on me while I can. That isn’t a weakness, and that isn’t wasting time. It’s being protective, disciplined, and healthy, and it’s admirable.


Photo by Luke Stackpoole on Unsplash

Goals // Week 44

This week is starting off on a very stressful note. Winter is rearing its ugly head, promising days of freezing temperatures, snow, and slick roads. On top of dealing with the weather, both physically and emotionally, I have the busiest work schedule ahead me than I’ve had all year! That means I have very little time for myself and it means I have to be mindful of how I spend what little time I get. This week I want to:

Make it into work every day this week. This is pretty basic but with 3 days of snow and more of below freezing temperatures, plus the cold, the flu, the upper respiratory infections, and strep throat floating around I’m worried about ruining this opportunity for more overtime than I have been offered ever. I need the hours. I need to take care of myself and get here every day.

Take all of my medication every day, on time. Since the URI I had a few weeks ago I have been struggling to get back on a steady meal and medication schedule. I have pills that have to be taken 12 hours apart, pills that have to be taken 30 minutes prior to meals, pills that have to be taken with meals, etc. It’s hard to keep straight and easy to forget.

Get a Goodwill donation box filled. This past weekend we moved some furniture around, new furniture in, and old furniture out. By the end, we had more things than we had space for and a large bag started of old things to give away. There is still a long way to go but I do not want to procrastinate another week (or year!) on getting this room cleaned out.

Write five posts for NaBloPoMo in advance. This one is going to be hard without long blocks of time to devote to writing but a 15-minute break here, an hour lunch there, and writing while the T.V. is on should get me most of the way there. I don’t want to fail another blogging challenge and I don’t want to let myself down.

Read 50 pages, total, of Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky. That’s just ten pages a night, that’s all I’m asking of myself. Of course, these aren’t easy pages and after a long day keep my eyes open longer than a couple of paragraphs is almost impossible, but 30 minutes before bed every night should get me there. I’ll even settle for five pages. I’ll settle for any number over zero!

Finish one week of one Coursera course. This one is pretty low on my priority list this week. I just don’t won’t have the time with work, writing, and reading, but if I do find myself with ahead of schedule (or enjoying a snow day!) then I will see what I can do.

Share one small thing you didn’t make on a screen. Work is stressful and on some level so are the other things I love since I carry so much expectation of myself, but making cut up and blackout poems and collages are the only things I do that feel truly relaxing. I need to make time for them.

This week I will just do my best and no matter what that looks like at the week’s end it will (have to) be enough. The trick will be keeping a positive outlook, doing the work expected of me, and keeping always in the back of my mind these little goals and brining them shapely into focus whenever I have even a minute of my own.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 43.

Photo by Kamil Lehmann on Unsplash

Goals // Week 43

Prepare for National Blog Posting Month. I wasn’t sure NaBloPoMo was still a thing until I saw this post from Ra Avis inviting bloggers to join her team of “Cheer Peppers“. I signed up and fully intend to complete the challenge but I need a plan of action or I’ll never make it. This week I want to settle on a theme and fill in an editorial calendar with post titles. Next week I’ll start the drafts.

Update: I now have a beautiful Google sheet filled in with 30 topics and almost all of them have corresponding drafts set up in WordPress.

Make a couple of cut up and black out collages and poems. I’ve mentioned it before but creating these simple and shareable pieces feels akin to meditation—it’s calming, grounding, centering, it brings me into the present and allows me to let go of my emotions for a time. This is the only activity I do where it feels more about the process than the product and while I think they are dumb things to make I feel like they are more important than anything I create in any other realm of my life.

Update: This week was exhausting, and the weekend was filled up with social events, cooking, and house projects. There was simply nothing left for creativity.

Finish reading Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky. I have just over 100 pages left to go if I read just 20-30 pages a day I can finally move on to something a little more mindless and fun. This book is amazing but I’m desperate for something that is stimulates my emotions and not just my mind, you know?

Update: Normally I spend my lunches at work reading but this week I, quite strangely, felt up to socializing instead. I should have picked a day or two to seclude myself but I was easily distracted.

Finish week 4 of International Women’s Health and Human Rights and week 8 of Modern & Contemporary American Poetry. This one might be hard. I’ve had trouble concentrating on the reading (reading from a screen makes my comprehension levels plummet) and following the videos is exhausting (I’m too easily distracted), with such limited time and willpower I have doubts about my ability to finish either.

Update: Plain and simple, I needed a break. These courses have grown tedious for me and while I know that once I’m done I’ll feel better, and while I also know the only way to get done is to do the work, I couldn’t make myself do even a little bit.

Take care of myself. I had a bad cold a couple of weeks ago and even though I’m about 99% over it (and the resulting ear infection) some symptoms continue to linger. I have to remember that for someone with a chronic illness a simple cold can be very difficult to recover from. I have to drink lots of water, take all of my medication. go to bed on time, and relax as much as I can.

Update: I did okay but I have not been keeping on time of my diet changes or my medication schedule. Sometimes I get angry about all the work I have to put into myself and sometimes I just give up…

This week I’m keeping my expectations low. If I can’t get through all of my goals, that’s ok. The reality is I have a packed schedule at work and social events to prepare for over the weekend that will severely limit the time I have for myself and the things I love. The point is just to try, to be happy, and to appreciate any effort.


Photo by Jake Blucker on Unsplash

Goals // Week 40

Read 100 pages of Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst by Robert M. Sapolsky. I had been shooting for 200 a week but with my busy work schedule and the courses I’m taking I have to manage my expectations. 100 pages a week is less than 15 pages a day, totally doable!

Work on that little writing idea sitting in my drafts folder. It’s small enough that I can probably finish it in my spare time but big enough that I will feel accomplished and encouraged by it. It’s a good first step toward…taking another step. Just what I need.

Clean off my desk and create a reading space in the “creativity room”. I’ve had trouble starting on my art projects because the space I have for making things doesn’t feel conducive to making things. It’s cluttered, disorganized, and cramped. I have to get it straightened up if I want to stop avoiding it in favor of the livingroom. The reading space is just a bonus.

Regardless of comfort spend 20 minutes in there every night, and an hour in the early mornings on both Saturday and Sunday. The goal is to keep the expectations low, to just use what I have, to have fun, and keep all screens well out of reach.

Finish week seven of Modern & Contemporary American Poetry and week two and three of International Women’s Health and Human Rights. I’m already halfway through week seven of ModPo and all the readings and videos are done through week 4 for IWHHR. I just have to respond to the damn thought questions.

Jog for 20 minutes every other afternoon and in between do a simple 20 minute bodyweight workout. The mornings have gotten too cold and getting out of bed is harder than it was just a month ago. Physical activity will have to take place in the afternoons after work and before dinner. Keep hitting your step goals

Get out of the house this weekend. Lately I’ve been coming home Friday night, jumping into pajamas, and not going outside again until I’m on my way back to work Monday morning. It sounds nice but this can’t be good for my mental health.

This week I will continue to be mindful of the ways I spend my time, and, more importantly, the way I use my phone. I will not feel guilty about saying no. I won’t feel bad about making time for me, for doing the things I enjoy, or for enjoying things that other people don’t. I’m the one who has to face my failures at the end of the week.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated post for Week 39.

Photo by Matt Duncan on Unsplash

Goals // Week 39

Work on one thing outside of my journal. Last week I failed miserably at this but I’m trying again and this time I’m making it even smaller. I don’t even have to finish a thing, just work on it.

Update: It wasn’t so much from lack of time or trying, it’s just that I spent too much time on my other goals. My energy and focus were limited and inspiration eluded me. Will try again next week.

Make something with my hands. I came across an interesting Instagram video from Matthias Brown showing some cool cut-and-paste techniques. Collage has always intrigued me and it’s time I get out my old X-Acto knives again.

Update: So, my “creativity room” is a damn mess and before I can make any art, I have to clear a space, remove all electronic distraction, and put my tools and materials within reach. My goal for next week is to clean up.

Read 200 pages. I still think this is doable but I have to not only make time for reading before bed but I also need to read on the weekends. I have to get up earlier and quit opening that damn Facebook app.

Update: I think I did this one. I honestly didn’t keep very good track but I read a lot every day and in my mind it’s a win.

Meal prep both overnight oats and breakfast egg and sausage bowls. The goal isn’t so much about making them, that’s easy, but to actually eat them and not get tired or let my body pull me along on cravings for donuts or worse.

Update: I’m actually really enjoying this one. So much so that I don’t think I will include it in my weekly goals going forward. I may have to find some other breakfast ideas though in case we start getting tired of breakfast bowls and oatmeal.

Finish week six of Modern & Contemporary American Poetry and week two of International Women’s Health and Human Rights. Both should be simple and easy to complete, just set aside one hour or so, maybe two, this week to get it done.

Update: I finished the week nearly halfway through week seven of ModPo but I didn’t realize that since I reset my deadlines for IWHHR I couldn’t actually complete the assignments until the 30th. I did do all of the reading, watched all of the videos, and took what quizzes I could through week 3 though.

Jog every other morning and in between, in the evenings, do a simple bodyweight workout. I don’t want to push myself too hard. Last week I ended up with some soreness and had to rest for days before I could get back to it. Just move your body more than you normally would and more than most people do.

Update: My biggest failure of the week. I didn’t work out once! It was from lack of sleep and from a poor mood also caused by the lack of sleep. I’m doing everything I can to fix it and I hope to be back up and moving as soon as possible.

Take advantage of all the hours I’m are being offered at work. Make the overtime worth it. This one isn’t exactly a choice, but a state of mind. It’s going to be a tough week, I know this, try to look at the bright side and remember to be grateful I have work at all.

Update: Yes, I worked my ass off last week though I’m not sure I’m happy about it. There were so many more interesting and fulfilling things I wanted to do with my time. Capitalism sucks!

This week is all about building on last week but just a little. It’s about keeping my stress levels low, no matter what, practicing self-care, and keeping my sense of purpose and perspective.


P.S. For a look at how I fared last week check out my updated goals for Week 38.

Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Goals // Week 38

 Write one new thing outside of my journal. I don’t have to post it this week, but I do have to write something, anything. I have a schedule and I have to stick to it. That means no social media, no “research”, no work duties and no minor chores. Just keep it simple. Write it, even if it’s bad, even if you don’t even know what it is, just write it.

Update: Yeah, no, I didn’t get this one done. I was just too distracted. I was too full of energy and longed too much to be outside and moving.

 Read 200 pages of anything. I have 3 books going right now and I have made very little progress on any of the three. I think it would be best if I narrowed the options to two—one physical book and one to read from my phone. Progress will feel more substantial and fewer choices make it easier to decide when and what to read.

Update: I’m not sure how many pages I read but I’m guessing off the top of my head around 100. It’s better than nothing at all but I had hoped for better. Once again, it was an issue of focus, not time.Update:

 Finish week five of MODPO. It’s been months since I’ve done a lesson and all I have to do is watch the videos. It’s hard because I have to devote my full attention to the lesson but it’ll be good practice as I move away from multi-tasking anyway.

Update: This I completed and made quite a lot of progress toward finishing week 6 too. I could have gotten that done too, but I picked up where I’d left off on International Women’s Health and Human Rights too.

Wake up early to go for a run three mornings this week and choose three other evenings to do a simple body weight work out instead. On Sunday go for hiking and a do a simple yoga routine. The goal is not to push myself but just to start. Any activity at all will be better than what I have been doing.

Update: I did the running but was too busy and too tired in the evening for the bodyweight routine. On Sunday I was nursing a sore knee and decided it was best to stay in.

Go to bed on time. I haven’t been sleeping well, and it’s starting to affect my mood and my motivation. I want to get back to getting ready for bed 30 minutes beforehand and if I get done early, reading a physical book until I feel drowsy.

Update: I sort of did this. I wasn’t always on time but I wasn’t late either so I’ll call it a win. Where I failed was, I didn’t read before bed and so by the time I had torn myself from my phone screen I wasn’t in the right headspace to rest. I’ve reset the “head to bed” alarm on my phone and with the cooler evening on the way a hot cup of Sleepytime tea will be further incentive.

Breakfast for the week is overnight oats. It’s cheaper than buying instant oats and probably healthier too but I have to remember to make them, every night! While I’m choosing the healthier option I should also refrain from buying snacks or dipping into the candy bowls at work. I never feel good after indulging.

Update: I did really well making the oats every night and doing so has saved me so much time in the mornings that there’s no way that I can go back to making breakfast in the morning again.

Catch up on the work thing I’ve been avoiding for the last few weeks now. I’m just feeling insecure but the truth is I am doing a good job and even if I do end up making a mistake or messing it up entirely, no one will be mad and I’ll learn and do better going forward.

Update: This is my biggest failure of the week. My excuse is the lack of hours but the reality is I’m still just overthinking it.

I know the list is long but if I stay positive and focused; I know I can do it. There are enough hours in the day, and on the days that there aren’t, I’ll choose just one thing to accomplish and rest assured that it is enough.


Photo by Rémi Jacquaint on Unsplash

Well, last night didn’t turn out at all the way I hoped it would and as a result, I’m not in a great place emotionally this morning. Everything is fine, but I will need some time, some sunshine, some loud music, and at least one thing to go right before I can get out of my head and over this wallowing.

I had thought to make up some excuse to get out of the work I’d scheduled for myself today so I might get some time to myself to read or to write but I know I’ll only feel bad for it later. It might be better if I leaned in instead and kicked today’s ass rather than letting it kick mine.

Monday Motivation + Goals // Deep Work

My biggest goal this week is to start practicing the art of “deep work“. I learned about the concept through an old Ezra Klein podcast interview with Cal Newport, a computer science professor who writes about the toll technology takes on our ability to be productive.

According to Newport deep work is “the ability to focus without distraction on a cognitively demanding task”. Half of it is secluding yourself for anywhere from a couple of hours to a couple of weeks to work on a project, and the other half is using the chunks of downtime you have throughout the day to brainstorm and problem-solve your project rather than checking social media or catching up on the news.

The first part isn’t as easy as it sounds. It means no social media, no scrolling, no novelty or dopamine hits at all. It may mean no internet access at all! I would like to start with just 1 to 2 hours during the work week and 6 hours over the weekend devoted to writing. For now, I will just be focusing on blog posts but after a few weeks, I will switch to writing for a major project I have been planning. I want to practice focusing for a while and fail a few times before I direct my attention to things I’m much more terrified of.

To be clear, writing blog posts doesn’t mean searching for featured images, quotes, or editing. It means writing and only writing using what notes and ideas I already have. It means keeping my ass in the chair and the cursor moving no matter how frustrated or bored I get.

The second part is also two parts. I need to stop getting sucked into twitter threads or Facebook video holes. If I have a free minute that allows me to use my brain for writing rather than work I have to use it to take notes or research with intention. Just like when I was learning to meditate I have to be mindful of where my attention is being paid and do the work to redirect myself with kindness. To help me avoid this distraction, I’ll schedule my social media time—because I can’t just quit cold turkey—and keeping my phone anywhere but within arm’s reach.

During these “deep work” blocks of time, I will simply work my way down my editorial calendar putting together my notes and writing post after post after post. I’ll spend the last 15 minutes or so of each session writing a short journal type post for this space summarising how I feel and how the day is going.

I will also schedule what Newport calls “shallow work”. Checking my email, working on my editorial calendar, posting to Tumblr, answering comments, tweaking my blog themes, looking up “calls for submission”, reading other blogs, etc.. These tasks are surely important, but they are easy so I often do these things rather than to doing the actual writing. I feel busy, but at the end of the week, I have little to show for all the effort. I’d like this week to be the first in a long time I feel like I have made significant progress.

In addition, I have quite a few other items that have been lingering on my to-do list:

  • Set up an appointment to tour one potential wedding venue.
  • Create one newspaper blackout poem and a collage poem for Instagram.
  • Draft next Friday’s newsletter for Zen and Pi
  • Read every day for 40 minutes at lunchtime and 30 minutes before bed.
  • Finish my Christmas shopping!
  • Get an oil change and new tires.
  • Develop/choose a bodyweight fitness routine

I plan to write these “motivation and goals” posts every Monday with information and links to what is inspiring me to work harder and smarter and a few specific things I’m working to accomplish. Then at the end of the week (perhaps during my Weekend Coffee Share posts) I’ll check in and let you know how I fared with each new productivity and writing tactic and my ever-overwhelming to-do list.

I’m starting slow, but I’m definitely starting, and I hope that being accountable here and sharing what I’ve learned about what works might help you too.

***

So how about you? What goals do you have for the week? And what is your plan to achieve them? Have you heard of or tried the “deep work” method? If so, what did you think? How did it fit into your lifestyle?

Let me know in the comments, or write your own goals post and link back if that’s easier.

Thanks for reading and good luck!

///

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash