The habit of reading… and the Four Tendencies

This picture is apt as it was indeed a “change your life” book.

A very kind colleague told me recently that I always inspire her to try new things to make her life better.

This time, I’d told her that by doing almost nothing anyone can get through at least one non-fiction book a month. This is true… using just 20 minutes a day. We are all scrolling Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. for way more time than that – why not take just 20 mins, set your timer and read something to stimulate your brain?!

This is how I read 32 nonfiction titles last year and how I’m already at 27 nonfiction titles this year, all by doing “nothing”. I will surpass 32 books this year, and very easily.

My 20 minutes of reading nonfiction every morning started as @gretchenrubin’s #read21in2021 and is such a good fit for me that I will probably do this forever as I’ve now found a way to get through so many nonfiction titles.

VERY IMPORTANT – the rest of the day (cooking, driving, bedtime reading) is mostly fiction; I tend to read about 60-70% fiction.

Do you want to read more nonfiction? If yes, try the 20-minute timer and tell me how it works for you.

Upholders love the regular scheduling of this hack, Obligers like the accountability of having to check in so please come back and tell me how you’re doing, Obligers. Questioners who feel that they want to read more might want to try it at whichever time of day makes sense for them, and Rebels? If you want to break the IG algorithm and shake up the endless scroll, this hack may suit you. You decide 🙃

PS If you want to follow me on Goodreads and see what I’m reading, invite me to be your friend.

PPS this book was a 5-start book for me

{Goals} So how am I doing with my own goals?

After last week’s post on how to do a half-year review, I have now finished my own half-year review. Let’s break this down with some concrete numbers and then move into the intangibles.

I set a certain number of goals every month and I track the progress at the end. According to my spreadsheet, I’m at 79% of my goals for the year – two months with 90-something, two months with 60-something and a month each with 70- and 80-something. That’s what resulted in the 79% average.

It feels accurate and like with life, some things go very well and others go very badly.

Things going very well:

  • My reading and fun stuff like photos. I have read so many fun and delightful books this year already and am above my target with 60 books to end June.
  • Sleep (I’m averaging 7:30 and a sleep score of 80) and exercise (in a good rhythm of 3 workouts per week – any more and other areas of my life fall over).
  • Work – I had a great performance discussion. This is especially nice since I’m in a new role.
  • Speaking of work, working at the office two days a week since March has been amazing for this extrovert. I am simply happier 🙂
  • Project Upgrade/ Fix. Things other than what I planned have jumped onto the list but the good things is since my project is top of mind, I’m attending to things quickly, even boring fixes like plumbing!
  • The kids seem to have settled well into Grade 7, both for academics, sports and friendships… just in time to go to high school next year 😉
  • We’ve had all the holidays we planned which is honestly surprising since I’m a) very fussy and b) disorganised this year.

Things going badly

  • #rest 22 in 2022 (I rate myself only at a 43% success because I only consciously rest 3 out of 7 days). As Sarah said on the BOBW podcast, I do rest very well by sleeping every night. I’m considering just…giving up!
  • Our laundry routine still needs lots of work. It feels like a small thing but it affects my weekends more than I’d like.
  • We have made 0% progress on renewing our passports or reapplying for the kids’ passports (we got about halfway just prior to 2020 lockdown).
  • I feel more anxious when out with the general public now that South Africa’s mask mandate has been removed.

What do I want for the second half of the year?

  • Better health
    1. I had two scary episodes of vertigo in the last three months; I was actually so sick at work one day it was awful.
    2. I’ve had full bloods done and I am nowhere near menopause yet but headaches, etc. I mean, honestly.
    3. I also have my mammogram scheduled for tomorrow and want to check one more thing with my doctor.
    4. I also need to keep my cholesterol in check; after two elevated reports, I went for proper blood tests and not only was the result good, but my LDL was low and my HDL was high. According to my goals list, I will check this quarterly.
    5. I also want to read/ follow a good menopause doctor – there are so many symptoms…. how do people know if it’s something else or a menopause symptom?
  • To make a good dent in my life admin – I need to upgrade my phone and I already have decision fatigue so I will put it off til I can’t anymore and then just decide 🙂
  • Get updated wills done

Now, I kind-of feel like I need to have a birthday party next month (also, my birthday’s on an actual Saturday this year!) but do I have the wherewithall to organise it?

So… how are you doing on your mid-year review? What has been working well for you? What do you need to change? What are you looking forward to?

Best made plans and… weekly reflections 17

I had the best intentions after my last post to at least try and blog most of the daily challenges for OneDayMay but it just didn’t happen.

But as I always tell myself, no-one’s paying me to write here and it needs to stay fun 😉

The good news is I have posted for 25 of the 29 days so far which is actually excellent as some of the prompts were hard when my brain is tired at the end of the day.

Here’s the hashtag if you want to scroll through and catch up.

What else has been happening?

  • We’re in month 3 of working at the office two days a week. This is working really well for me – I have time to listen to a book while driving, I get to use my winter clothes after 3 years and I see people 🙂
  • I’ve finished 9 books so far for May; I think that’s where it will remain but I’m going to do my best to finish my current one too to round off on 10. Goodreads tells me that I’m 50% to my goal with exactly 50 books read so far. Something I’m doing (which I think is clever) is at the end of every month, I look through my list and identify my contenders for best books of 2022. I add these to a “collection” within my Kindle app. It’s great for two reasons: I can easily recommend books to others and I already know my shortlist for “best books of 2022”.
  • I’ve been absolutely delighted by autumn perhaps because I’ve been out and about to see colours! I have so many photos and videos of all the beautiful foliage around Johannesburg.

How was your May?

(I haven’t done my official monthly review yet so there may be more insights next week)

The week that was… weekly reflections… 15

very odd driving on the highway at night while there is loadshedding

I’m feeling very discombobulated at the moment so this is going to be short!

I cannot believe how few people currently read this blog – it’s completely disheartening and is giving me pause even though I know I write for myself. I used to tell myself “no-one reads blogs like they used to” but actually, that’s not true.

This week I only finished one book – The trouble with goats and sheep by Joanna Cannon – I’m still not sure what to make of it but gave it an overall rating of 3,75. I should finish 2 – 3 books in the next week though.

And that’s it for this week! Hope yours was better than mine.

The week that was… weekly reflections 14

Happy Easter!

a corner of my garden
  • In South Africa, we have four four-day weeks in April and May due to Easter, Freedom Day and Workers Day. This year, those four weeks follow one another which means two things:
  1. long weekends!
  2. work is squished into four days instead of five!

(instead of 20 days to do the work, we now have 16!)

  • I already felt this pressure this week but reminded myself that my self-imposed to-do list (#upholder) doesn’t make sense in a 4-day week and some things would just have to wait for next week.
  • We have started loadshedding again which is never a problem if they keep to the scheduled times as we can then prepare. But with all the rains and cold, it is just not the best time. I always think of people who don’t have enough clothes or blankets and my heart breaks. If you’re local, throw a blanket or two, an old coat or jacket, scarf, cap into your car and be on the lookout for people who need extra warm clothes as you drive around your city.
  • Have you seen the footage of the KZN floods? Devastating to think about all those people who have lost their lives and houses.
  • We also had Parents Evening this week which was madness. Queues of parents wanting to speak to each teacher. Eventually we decided who we definitely wanted to see, saw those teachers and left without seeing the rest.
  • This week I finished Perfect Tunes by Emily Gould, Never tell a lie by Gail Schimmel, and God spare the girls by Kelsey McKinney. They were all solid 4* and higher books, but I think Never tell a lie will have the most universal appeal. What are you reading?

Hope you have a lovely week!

{Goals} 2022 word of the year update – Q1

This year I chose a main word, delight, and two supporting words – balance and rest.

I’ve spoken enough about rest – how it wasn’t working and how I’m doing a reset.

But for now, let’s talk about the other two words.

I chose balance so that I would not work all the hours of every day and that my life would look more balanced. As my coaching client said so beautifully last year, I can enjoy my work without being consumed by it.

I set some specific actions for myself every week and month, and I’ve been sticking to them (#upholder). The other key thing is that I’m tracking my time. And yes, I ended the quarter on target for my work hours goal – yay!

As for delight, it has been just the thing to get me searching for moments of happiness on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

I set goals every month and some of them have to answer the question, “what can I do this month to bring more delight into my life?

  1. If I feel lazy about going to take the picture, I remind myself, “delight!” and go do it.
  2. If someone invites me to have a quick coffee or tea at the office, even though my to-do list is always long, I remind myself, “delight” and say yes.
  3. If I have a choice between two books, I ask myself, “what will delight me more at this time?” and choose that one.

I listened to three delightful audiobooks this quarter too and can I just put forward the case that if you enjoyed a book the first time round, you are going to probably love it even more on audio if the narration is good. The three books are Mary Jane, Daisy Jones and the Six, and Rachel’s Holiday.

And that’s my word of the year update!

How has your word of the year been working for you? Do you need a reset on your word? Do you need ideas to keep your word top of mind?

{Goals} 2022 Q1 resetting the rest challenge

I knew going in that #rest22in2022 was going to be the hardest challenge for me.

Still, I thought I had it figured out but I realised after two months that I needed to reset what rest looked like for me.

I also saw an Instagram post on 7 types of rest, bookmarked it and when I had time, did a thorough review of why “rest” wasn’t working for me:

what was working?

  • weekend rest, probably because there’s more time
  • I can always default to reading because that is a daily habit

what was not working?

  • my workdays are generally too busy and yes, of course, I can find 22 minutes during the day but I really don’t want to move my end time beyond 5:45 – 6pm
  • I didn’t have a clear plan for busy workdays

Next, I reviewed the 7 types of rest:

  1. physical
  2. mental
  3. sensory
  4. creative
  5. emotional
  6. social
  7. spiritual

I then realised that I have 3 types of days and that I should identify some methods of rest that would work for each type of day so I have options.

My 3 types of days are:

  1. workdays, from home
  2. workdays, from the office
  3. weekend days

For example, during workdays at the office my social rest could be spending time with real, live people. During workdays at home, I can have physical rest by sleeping in and mental rest by taking short breaks during the day. During weekends, I can tap into each of those 4 rests except mental is not likely to happen.

Now that I have a plan, I’m going to intentionally incorporate these practices into my daily life.

Tell me, how has the #rest22in2022 challenge been working for you? Are you feeling more rested? Are you struggling with rest like I was?

{Goals} 2022 goals – a quarterly update

We’ve spoken a few times about setting quarterly goals which is a really nice way to take stock sooner than just every year and readjust your sails if necessary.

You might even like the idea of seasonal goals.

If you do set annual goals, now is a great time to reevaluate if you…

  • still want to continue as you have been doing
  • know what’s working well for you
  • haven’t even set goals for the year

When I took the time to write down what’s working well, what’s not going well and what I want to work on for the next quarter, I realised that things felt busy for a reason as a lot happened and went well. Here are some things I noted down:

  1. I read more than 30 books so far, and listened to a very fun audiobook at least once a month, like Mary Jane, Daisy Jones and the Six, and currently I’m listening to Rachel’s Holiday.
  2. We had four high school visits and we’re now ready to apply to high schools when the application portal opens.
  3. I’ve successfully carved out writing time every week (I’ve now had 12 weeks of successful writing time every Sunday).
  4. We took two family holidays – one just after Christmas til into the new year, and one during the March school holidays.
  5. The work from office transition is now going well and helping me to maintain reasonable work hours – yay!
  6. I started Spanish again this year and am loving it.
  7. I am up to date with Project Life from Sept 21 to Feb 22, am almost up to date on my holiday collages (two to go!) and enjoying my photography (delight is helping me!).

There are three things which have not gone well, one of which is friendship. I think that some of my friendships have fallen by the wayside. Some I feel inclined to tend and some I don’t. This is actually growth for me as in years past I’d take all the blame for any distance; now I realise that there are two parts to every relationship.

Still, I need to check that my friend dates are successfully scheduled now that the work-from-office situation is a hybrid one.

A few things I have as goals for the next quarter:

  1. check if my regular friend dates are still on the correct schedule and day
  2. send quarterly treats to my parents
  3. finish my collages
  4. apply to the high schools for both kids
  5. book next holiday!
  6. apply for passports!
  7. update my will (last one done when the kids were 7 months old)

How has the first quarter of 2022 been for you? Did you set goals? Are you going to start setting goals now? What worked well and what didn’t?

The week that was…weekly reflections 12

  • Today, two years ago, was South Africa’s first day of lockdown, level 5. Don’t even go back and read my posts for that first month or two; I was a complete idiot writing things like “how to make the most of lockdown” and such nonsense. I mean, my kids took one look at my list of things to keep them busy and promptly ignored it. I had big plans to do organising and cleaning projects around the house and instead, I just worked more. Madness! Oh well, we all live and learn.
  • This week was an out of the ordinary week as we were on holiday in the Drakensberg. Just like two years ago! The difference is back then we drove back from our holiday three days early to be back home in time for lockdown. What a surreal two years this has been.
  • As usual when I go on holiday, I made a list (#upholder) with books to read, blogs to write, photowalks to take, things to cook, etc. and I did everything, so that is excellent because it means I’ve read lots (5 books!), did responsible things like updating my budgets and updating diaries, etc. and also fun things like photowalks, reading and finishing my Feb photos. Delicious!
  • After I publish this post, I’m going to lay out all the leftovers for supper and then pack as we travel back to Jhb tomorrow. While I love being away, I also love returning to my home and I’m ready for my own bed again!

How was your week?

The week that was…weekly reflections 11

St. Patrick’s Day 2022 – Johannesburg

Well, that was a fun week – the first week my WFO/ WFH schedule went exactly to plan.

  • St. Patrick’s Day supper went off well. Johannesburg’s weather also played along and was grey, overcast and raining in the early morning.
  • I always listen to classical music when I’m writing because I can’t listen to words when I’m writing words, and yet I still need something to block out noise (in my head). Today I chose Tchaikovsky and I was reminded that the Chinese Dance from The Nutcracker Suite is a dance I’ve won prizes for before… in my youth. It’s so fun how a piece of music can take you right back to a memory in the past.
  • I had two bad nights of sleep. Usually I sleep very, very well and seldom wake once I’m asleep. This week, I woke in the early hours of the morning – one morning at 2 am and the other at 3 am. After an hour of tossing and turning, I got up and read my book, a much better and more restful idea than staring at the darkness, thinking.
  • Speaking of reading, I read A Dream of Italy by Nicky Pellegrino. If you haven’t read any of her books, (I think) they’re all set in Italy and the way she writes makes you want to jump on a plane and go visit immediately.
  • Again, Rachel by Marian Keyes arrived this week so I started listening to Rachel’s Holiday, the first one. It’s a 16-hour listening experience and I’m enjoying every single minute!
  • The work balance continues to go well except for Friday night but then again, I always try to clear as much as I can before I go on leave. Yes, I’m on leave and we are going away as the kids are also on school holidays.
  • I plan to write a lot, read a lot, reflect on the first three months of 2022 and see where a reset is needed, catch up on family phone calls, and connect with my little family.

How was your week? Have you started thinking about the tweaks you want to make going into the second quarter?

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