11. Listen to more music

This is an entry from my #24in2024 goals list.

For some people, it might be confusing that I put on my goals list to listen to more music. However, for nearly the last 10 years I’ve been listening to podcasts and audiobooks in my car, and the only music I’ve heard is either in my Zumba class or while watching on Instagram stories.

Also, while writing, as I’m doing now. For that, I play classical music, either a mix or something specific (today I’m listening to Aja Gabel’s The Ensemble soundtrack on Spotify – I highly recommend the book, by the way, I’ve read it twice and it’s a 5-star read)

I’m currently listening to Jessica Simpson’s Open Book now (I should finish tomorrow while driving to work) and I have never heard a Jessica Simpson song. Or a John Mayer track. Or a Nick Lachey song. That’s how limited my musical knowledge is.

To be fair, this doesn’t bother me much because I know what I like.

Occasionally when the Zumba instructor uses new music, I LOVE it. Or when I hear some 80s music in a shop (is it me or do most shops not play music anymore?!), it puts me in a really good mood.

So going into 2024, I thought I need to listen to more music. It was also on the back of Christmas season, which has been the only regular time I’ve listened to albums and songs every year.

All of that is my why.

Spotify also started playing way more ads and so I signed up properly so I could enjoy the Christmas music instead of only enjoying every 2 – 3 songs.

They do their jobs so well and suggest such good mixes where I like every single one of the songs so I signed up and it feels like R65 of happiness every month when the money leaves my credit card. I can’t say the same for every subscription!

I now listen to music, even just a song or two, if I need to destress immediately after leaving work before settling into my audiobook. I listen while cooking most nights. And I follow little prompts of delight – if I hear something that triggers a chord or a snippet of a song, I search for the familiar song or the new one and I just follow those breadcrumbs.

The other morning, a new Zumba instructor played Hey What’s Going On as we cooled down and he stopped the music right at the chorus before the good part. Another lady and I turned to each other and kept on singing. Such a fun moment and… I immediately searched and added that song to my playlists.

The bottom line is I could cross off that item now after two and a half months and be happy with the progress.

Have you added any items of whimsy to your list?

Do tell all – I’d love to hear.

The notion of a ta-da list… and why you need one

I first heard the concept of a ta-da list from Gretchen Rubin many years ago and I loved it so much I embedded it into my work life immediately.

If you check my Instagram highlights on OrganisingQueen around work habits (280 weeks ago!), you’ll see that at the end of every week, I write a ta-da list, a goals for the week list and a to-do list for Monday (or Tuesday, if Monday’s a public holiday).

I might write more in detail about my work habits if anyone is interested – let me know!

For now, I want to talk about starting an annual ta-da list at this point in the year, and why that’s a clever thing to do.

I think it stemmed from how, at the end of the year, when I’ve read over 100 books, I feel like I need to work through the months to find my favourites for a list (this is entirely self-imposed, of course). Crazy! I can barely remember the characters from a book I’ve read two weeks ago, so how am I supposed to remember something I read in January.

Enter… the monthly reading favourites.

In 2023 I started, as part of my monthly reading wrap-up (this is a whole thing and brings me a great deal of joy), making a note of the books that were stand-out favourites to me that month.

This is harder than you may think because at this point in my reading life I know exactly what I like to read, and have averaged a rating of 4* or higher (out of 5) for the last 5 – 6 years.

At the end of 2023, it was so much easier to look at the list of 30 books (non-fiction and fiction) and quickly decide which were my favourite favourites. It’s also good to remember those books from January and February that I may have forgotten due to my own end-of-year obsession with recent favourites.

I’m now proposing that we all use this same concept for our ta-da lists.

A ta-da list is a list of the things that you got done or want to celebrate. Like “went to gym 8 times this month” or “got my mammogram done” or “made my eye appointment” or “finally decluttered all the papers in my desk drawer”. Get it?

If you set goals, you might set 10. And maybe you get 5 done. BUT what we don’t often factor in is that other things popped up and you attended to those things instead. 

On my own ta-da list… “sorted out ceiling in kids’ bathroom”. This was NOT on my goals or my house to-do list (way too boring!), but it looked like it was sagging and it needed to be sorted out. So it went on my ta-da list at the end of January. 

Sometimes the ta-da list isn’t “instagram worthy” – that ceiling certainly isn’t and neither is making an appointment to see the doctor to discuss blood results, but it is important and you and I deserve our gold stars for getting those things done. 

What will the monthly ta-da list accomplish?

  1. You will remember what you want to note down or celebrate. After all, you only have a month to remember and your phone photos and calendar will help you do just that.
  2. You won’t fall prey to recency bias at the end of the year where you only remember the last month or two. Top tip – usually it feels like the year was terrible if we evaluate at the end of the year because we are all tired and cranky amd most of our good habits have fallen by the wayside.
  3. Your motivation will increase throughout the year as you start building up your portfolio of positive evidence that you are a goal getter and are accomplishing good things.

Have you started your ta-da list yet? Where does it make the best sense to keep it – in your diary as I’m doing or a note in your phone?

How I track my annual goals

A few weeks ago I wrote about the many different types of goals you could put on your #24in2024 list. When I shared my end-of-year #23in2023 list on Instagram, I had a lot of questions as to how I do my tracking.

Here’s how I do it:

There are once-off items and there are monthly/ weekly/ quarterly items. Or maybe even items with known multiple steps, like take 3 family holidays.

I have a spreadsheet where I keep a list of my goals. Here is a snippet of the bottom of the 2023 sheet.

20 Apply for passport 1.00
21 Listen to one month of Let’s read the gospels podcast 1
22 Keep up with my Project Life 0.75
23 Write a monthly blog and newsletter 0.42
19.53 89%

 

  • I like to colour-code my goals into a few separate categories – health, family, house, work and fun. You could have different categories depending on what’s important to you in a particular year.
  • I set up the spreadsheet with formulae for the items that need completion more often than just once. E.g. Apply for passport involved multiple steps but once I had my visit at the bank, I was done. I earned 1 solid mark.
  • The same with listening to the podcast. Once I finished the 31 days of listening, I was done. Another mark.
  • However, for an item like “keep up with project life”, that is a 12-step goal. Every month I completed it, I earned 1/12 or 0.08. If I did it the following month, I changed it to 2/12 which added another 0.08 to the total.
  • For quarterly items, it’s 1/4 until done… or not, as the case may be. And so on.
  • You’ll realise a few things now – too many monthly goals means that you’re inching your way through, only 0.08 every month. This is why I suggest that you have a few once-off goals so when they’re done, they are done. Instant motivation.
  • In the example above, I did Project Life for 9 out of 12 months (I abandoned it at that point as my album was done and I’m not pursuing it again this year). I wrote a monthly newsletter 5 times.

Now that we’ve talked about the how, I want to address the most important part of this post, the why.

In an ideal world that is full of fantasy, you’d end up with 23 or 24 goals achieved (for this year) and a 100% score. However, life is complicated and things happen, so this system I use allows you to see the progress you’ve made instead of what didn’t get done. In James Clear’s language, you’re voting for the type of person you are (a goal getter) instead of only focussing on whether the goal was achieved or not.

If I didn’t do things this carefully, I’d just end the year and say “no, I didn’t write a monthly newsletter” or “no, I didn’t finish project life” but my way, I can say I did it for 5 or 9 months of the year, which all counts.

Does this method of tracking resonate with you? Will you try using it for your 2024 goals?

A life in rhythm vs a balanced life

One of my goals for this year is to (finally) finish reading the 10 physical books on my actual bookshelf – this one.

rainbow bookshelf

Therefore I need to be reading about two books a month to be done by the end of June. I had the goal set for the end of April but I realised that end of June is more realistic as I only have 2 – 3 slowish mornings a week to read, not the 7 I had in 2020 and 2021 when I read, in bed, every morning, without fail.

In January I finished Ikigai and Your Life in Rhythm.

Let’s talk about your life in rhythm by Bruce Miller

The part I loved the most talks about seasonal rhythms. These are both strict seasons like autumn and winter and also “the season of being an empty nester or new parent” or “the season of going into year-end or budgeting season. Accountants feel the end of tax season to a greater effect than those who are not in a finance field.

I was then inspired to use my own Let’s Do This workbook to note down what happens in my life seasonally.

Quarterly rhythms

birthday season – all four of us celebrate our birthdays in less than a month, my mother’s one is in that same month and my mother-in-law is less than a month earlier. Not exactly sure why but I also seem to have a lot of friends who also celebrate their birthdays in July and early August. This is probably why I do “birthday month” – it takes some of the pressure off me to “celebrate” and also it’s nicer to have friend dates to look forward to the whole of August.

actual winter – as long-time readers know, I love winter and my own rhythms also change then. I leave work earlier as I don’t like driving during loadshedding when it’s dark outside. I sleep more, easily a solid 7h30 on average daily (just checked my Fitbit stats and from June to Aug last year, I averaged 7h38 last year and 7h46 in 2022). We also usually take a beach holiday in winter which I love.

happy Marcia on a beach holiday in winter

other quarterly cycles – swopping my clothes around (this happens twice a year, once in April and then in around October), spring cleaning (September and December/ January are the big ones), beginning of the school year (the big fitting on and replacing of school shoes, clothes and takkies, and of course, buying all the school books).

Weekly rhythms

I’ve always found it helpful to think of my life in a weekly rather than a daily rhythm. Thinking daily makes me feel like I’m always behind but in a week, I feel like I generally get to what I want to do.

What are some of your weekly rhythms?

Well, there are things you do during the week (like work and your kids go to school) and then there are weekend things.

It’s helpful to think about what you like to get done and see where in the week that might fit.

Exercise

I like to have three sessions a week, at least two of them cardio. I realised when I did my January review that in trying to incorporate more stretch classes, I was robbing myself of cardio because I still only have those 3 sessions available every week. (More on this in my next newsletter) At least I realised this quickly.

Big chunks of reading

I read “bits” every day – 20 – 30 mins in the morning and about the same at night, and on the days I drive into the office, I have another 90 minutes of a fiction audiobook.

I also like what I call a big chunk of reading on the weekend, 3 – 4 glorious hours to immerse myself in a book. That is not going to just happen, so my preferred rhythm is a Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Household maintenance

I also menu plan after looking through the freezer (e.g. we are going to have a lot of chicken this week because there is too much in the freezer), update the shopping list and cook something in batch, most weeks.

I also like to tidy my bedroom and bathroom on the weekend to reset for the week ahead. No, the world will not fall apart if this is not done, but my brain is calmer if it is. #outerorderinnercalm

winter is the prettiest… especially framed by red cars

What I need to work on

Personal monthly rhythms

I am great with doing a goals review every month, updating my spreadsheets and setting goals for the new month. Here’s a post where I put it all together for you.

However, I never take into account my female cycles (and I should, because it does affect my energy levels and what I can do that week). I also want to start setting up regular maintenance days for colouring my hair. I’ve been winging it and do when it looks really bad but it would be nice to be a grown-up and actually schedule a regular weekend for “upkeep”.

If you want to rethink your goals and rhythms to take the seasons into account, use page 8 in my workbook:  Let’s Do This 2023 workbook (it’s free).

Which rhythms are easier for you, and which are more difficult? Annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly or daily?

How I’m approaching #write 24 in 2024

Confession – only 1 of Gretchen’s previous challenges worked for me. If you’re guessing it was the #read21in2021, you would be correct. I’m terrible at rest and being outside and, well, we won’t talk about 2020 and its effect on financial services in South Africa.

Since I already read plenty of minutes daily, I decided to focus the 2021 challenge on non-fiction, in particular, working through all the books on my physical bookshelf. I had been through the bookshelf many times and decluttered the books I was no longer interested in reading, but all that remained, I did want to read, I just… didn’t. There’s always something more exciting to read, isn’t there?

So #21in2021. I read 32 non-fiction books that year, 36 books in 2022, and 26 books last year in 2023. This year, I intend to finish the remaining 10 physical books and then I hope to never buy a physical non-fiction book again. I discovered during 2021/ 2022 that I love the practice of listening to 30 minutes from a non-fiction book every morning while showering and getting ready for the day. I’ve not stopped this since 2020. It’s not always 30 minutes but I always get in at least 15.

What worked about my #read21in2021?

I made it work for me and it was already hooked to a general habit I had nailed – reading.

This year when I heard that it was #write24in2024, I immediately thought, “oh no, that’s too much on a daily basis” until I listened to the podcast episode explaining it.

  • I then did the same thing I did with the reading – thought about how I could make it work for me.
  • I want to build a better writing practice on weekends to get my newsletter out on a monthly basis.
  • I want to get better with blogging regularly – not just a spurt of 4  – 8 blogs and then nothing for months on end.
  • I want to create regularly daily reminders for myself in my 2024 wellness diary and note down the things I am tracking, like sleep and water.

Given these items, I decided how I would #write24in2024.

  1. I use the weekdays for daily updating of my wellness diary in 2 – 4 minutes.
  2. I keep a bookmark to my newsletter provider on my laptop so that if I want to quickly jot down a sentence or two in two minutes, I can.
  3. I use the Sunday’s 24 minutes to write the monthly newsletter over two weeks. On the other two weeks I write a blog or set up a few 3 things mini newsletters.
  4. On that note, I set my stopwatch on my iphone and write until I feel “done”. Usually it’s been in the region of 48 – 49 minutes. I write what I want, choose a few photos and set it to publish during the week when I’m at work.
  5. The idea is to either publish a blog on a Monday or send out a newsletter during the last week of the month. At least that’s what worked in January – two blogs, two newsletters (both written in January although the first one could be the year-end wrap-up) and two mini-newsletters (these are easily 24 minutes each).
  6. I am also using #write24in2024 to do my monthly reflections and goal-setting. If I were more organised, I would use it for some tracking and weekly reflections too.

It’s going really well so far, one month down.

How are you doing with any of your project -based annual goals?

5 ways to set fun, achievable 24 in 2024 goals

I’ve been following Gretchen Rubin’s annual goals linked to the calendar year since she started doing these back in (was it 2017? 2018?) and they are certainly a fun way to write down some goals. However, it gets a bit tricky as the years go on. I’ve found that a few things help me to not feel overwhelmed with the sheer number and I’d like to share these tips with you:

1. Pick a few easy, once-off goals to get you started

  • Is there something you need to buy that will involve only a step or two? New underwear?
  • Do you want to try something new? One year (2020) I had “try an adult ballet class” on my list. Once I attended, that was done! I bought a car, a big deal because it had been 17 years with my previous one.
  • One year I had “learn to roast a chicken”. I had to do it twice before I was happy with it and I also learned that I prefer to pay for a rotisserie chicken 😉
  • Do you want to see a favourite performer, a ballet, or go to the theatre?
  • I also put my most-hated but still necessary medical appointments on my list.

2. Are there practices you want to commit to monthly or weekly?

  • It doesn’t have to be many times a month but having something to do 12 times a year is doable and the consistency will help build it into a habit.
  • Some examples – join a book club and attend once a month, see Friend X once a month, have a monthly date with your kids, etc.
  • Maybe for an exercise routine to stick, you might have “attend Zumba twice every week”.
  • I have seen so many fun lists with 24 worked into the goal. I also have a couple: 24 fun nights away or in Jhb, 24 Fun Fridays, etc. My one coaching client has “24 Sunday morning adventures with T (her young son)” – doesn’t that sound fun?

                                         A new weekly class at the gym

3. Do you have any project-based goals?

  • A project is something with multiple steps but it has a specific start and end date.
  • Some projects that have been/ are on my lists: buy a new car, get pyjama lounge carpet ripped up and replaced, and so on.
  • Are you doing the Happiness Project Revisited? Or any other course? That would fit in here too. I’ve done The Nester’s Cosy Minimalist course before and Emily P Freeman’s Discern and Decide.

4. What about goals that inspire growth?

  • I would classify a no-spend month, decluttering your kitchen, organising and getting up to date with your photo books, all in this category.
  • I am an underbuyer in most areas so I need to be encouraged to spend out in some areas. Maybe you’re one too? Maybe you’re an overbuyer and need to get your spending under control?
  • I currently have a low-iron stores situation going on so for 2023 and again this year, one goal is to have my iron tested quarterly.

5. Open and wide goals that invite whimsy or fun

  • This is my favourite category. Sometimes enneagram 1 upholders need to loosen the reigns.
  • Last year I had “watch more TV” on my list. That’s it. Open to my own interpretation and indeed, I watched more TV (I didn’t previously watch more than about two episodes of something once a month) and so I loved it. Yes, I also read fewer books as a result but I definitely had more fun.
  • This year, I have “listen to more music” on my list. I subscribed to Spotify Premium and am making playlists, searching anything that strikes my fancy and cooking with music instead of podcasts. More fun!
  • I also have “play with photography again and post things that delight only me”.

I hope all these categories help and don’t hinder you in your goal-setting this year. The point is that if you only have goals that you have to do weekly for a year, it’s going to feel like a slog. You want to have a bit of this and a bit of that so that you have a good balance. I tweaked and tweaked until my list felt more play and not all work, and then I decided to see if I could make a second list, and lo, I have another 24 items. I’m holding it all loosely though 🙂

Please ask all the questions you need. I plan to do a follow up post on how I track all of this, because I know there are many interested.

The Happiness Trifecta

Gretchen Rubin mentioned on her podcast that she know thinks of the Happiness Trifecta as a way to embrace or enter the year.

I have mentioned in my Instagram Stories but I decided because I want to be happier this year, to do the Happiness Project Revisited. Part of that foundational work for the year has involved these three items too (if you want and I want :)).

1. Word of the year

  • I am a big, big, BIG word of the year fan because it’s such an easy way to guide your thoughts and actions on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
  • Choose one! Choose one per month/ quarter/ whatever takes your fancy.
  • How to choose a word of the year
  • For inspiration, read all my word of the year posts here.
  • My word for this year is WHOLE. If you missed the post last week, you can read it here.

2. Annual Challenge – write24in2024

  • This year, Gretchen Rubin’s challenge is to write either 2 – 4 minutes or 24 minutes every day in 2024.
  • I am using the challenge to write 2 – 4 minutes a day most days to update my daily diary and then at least twice a month, I want to write for 24-minute sessions. Today and every Sunday I use a longer burst of time  – 24 minutes – to write a blog and/ or newsletter. I am timing myself and once I have an idea of how long it currently takes me, I might work on the newsletter weekly and send it at the end of the month, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming. I already say “you can do anything for 15 minutes, so 9 minutes longer every week is technically “nothing”. So far I’ve written about 48 minutes every Sunday but I am allowed to stop at 24 minutes.
  • Are you joining in the #write24in2024 challenge? How are you using it? You could write in a journal, make a list, clear your head before sleep, update your line-a-day journal,  make the next day’s to-do or ta-da list… the possibilities feel endless.

3. 24 in 2024 list

  • This is such a fun way to do your goals.
  • Make it as small or big as you want. I would caution you to have a mix of goals – some once-off items (buy new bedroom curtains, replace all my gym clothes, etc.) and some project-based items (go out to eat 12 times this year, have a date night once a month, read two books every month, etc.)
  • I have now done my list of 24 goals TWICE. The first time I had 26 goals so I let it sit. I then whittled it down to 24 with some stealthy merging of goals. And then I listened to the podcast episode where they discussed their goals and I want to play with my list AGAIN. My list feels a bit too boring and I think I have too many hard things and not enough fun.
  • Have you made your list? Do share! if you’re on IG, tag @organisingqueen so I can come see.
  • I will write more about this in next Sunday’s session.

4. Other fun things

    • To play with the 24 in 2024 theme, I have also resolved to declutter as many batches of 24 things as I can. I’m on number 15 of Batch 2. You can see all these items on Instagram in my highlights.
    • I initially had these as separate goals – declutter 24 items of clothes, gift 24 items of stationery (I still want to do this), use up 24 bath/ body/ beauty products.
    • Doesn’t 24 nights away from home sound fun (if I count business travel, I could do it)? I’ve already got 1 in the bag as we were away on 1st Jan.
    • Can you think of anything fun on the 24 theme?

I love to hear your words, your own “24” challenges, so please tap the comment block to reply.

Recap of 2023 word – tend – and my word for 2024

My word for last year was tend and I’m not sure if my searching is accurate but I can’t seem to find a post I felt certain I’d written.

I’ve now checked my blog again and even Instagram – nothing.

I chose the word tend for 2023 because I was entering a season of busy (a senior leadership programme at work on top of my very full job already) and wanted to be sure that I gave attention to the things I needed to – my health, family and very close friends.

It felt at times like I did a terrible job but in fact, when I look back over the months, I realised that I did tend to the most important things. Yes, it could have been better (isn’t this always the case?!) but my word was a reminder to keep focussed and tend the things that mattered for that season.

It worked out because I ended up with my accreditation, passed with distinction and we also received the top syndicate group award.

The second half of the year started with a week-long holiday at the beach to celebrate (I booked this months and months in advance precisely so that we’d have something to look forward to after last exam, etc.). However, things went super crazy at work straight after that holiday and only started easing off mid-December.

Which brings me to how I was feeling.

Broken.

Broken at work – I felt very much that I could do nothing right. I was doing 2.5 jobs and therefore nothing was done in the way I like to work, with no end in sight. Add to that it also felt like I was getting horrible feedback from quite a few people which is really hard for an enneagram 1. Eventually I was saying (in my head) “take a number; I know I’m not getting to things quickly enough” but I couldn’t anymore with the 11pm work end times.

Broken in my family – I blame it all on the twins getting phones but last year was my actual worst year of parenting ever. Even worse than year 1, and I thought that was bad. Of course, phones, new schools, high school are all big adjustments but everyone was fighting all the time, or so it felt. I do not have an obliger or upholder so nothing has ever been easy.

This is also the age at which you stop writing about things to do with your kids and I am still not sure how to navigate this in speaking to… anyone, even friends. With the result that my friendships did not feel nurturing in the way I needed them to do, so that’s feeling broken too. I feel lonely.

Broken in my spirit – I basically feel like I’ve lost my sense of fun and am mostly sad. I cried more last year than I ever did in 2020. It was good that I had “watch more TV” on my #23 in 2023 list because TV did make me happier, as did reading some good books.

Last but not least, broken in my body.

I had a gastroscopy on 1 December 2022 so I was on a course of pantoprozole for GERD and stomach ulcers, and a new fun thing, low iron. I also watch my cholesterol carefully but when I ate “well enough” to control the GERD/ stomach ulcers, it was not a great diet so my cholesterol didn’t dip enough. I won’t bore you with the whole year but while I am finally sorted with my cholesterol, my iron stores are still terrible AND I’ve gained 6 kg. So that is just huge fun.

As my doctor said, it’s really not bad. All my bloods are great (except for the iron stores) and even my ferritin levels are in the normal (if low) range. I know it’s not bad but for someone who was healthy for 48 years, it is a real mindbender to have to monitor how you’re feeling and take actual prescribed medication twice a day.

I said all of that to say I considered happy for my 2024 word, but then I settled on WHOLE.

I want to feel whole again.

Whole – “in an unbroken or undamaged state, in one piece. complete in itself”

I’ve also chosen some supporting words – enough (my 2015 word) happy, brave, vital and strong

What’s your word for 2024? Care to share why you chose that word?

How to break up with your phone by Catherine Price

I read this book during lockdown in 2021 and at the time, I rated it 4.5*. Based on how much the concepts stayed with me and how much I still recommend this book, I have now moved it to a full 5* rating.

How to break up with your phone

I think most people lie to themselves about their phone usage. I used to do the same until I used the Moments app and these days iPhone helpfully sends me the screen stats to shock me every Sunday morning.

Why did I want to read this book?

My phone usage at the time was abysmal. And, as I’ve said before, we could all literally finish a book every four and a half hours if our phone usage was reasonable.

About the book

The book is divided into part 1 – the research, which is very interesting and easy to read – and part 2 – the how to, practical part.

I don’t care too much about the numbers these days because I now recognise after reading this book that most of what I use my phone for are tools like Goodreads, Mail, Camera, etc., but I’d be fooling myself if I didn’t admit that the Instagram dopamine hit is strong.

Did you know that they purposefully update likes and notifications erratically to keep us swiping and checking? Of course, once I found that out, I channelled my inner rebel and consciously don’t do it.

That’s just one of the things she talks about in the book.

If you watched the Social Dilemma on netflix a few years ago, you will recognise a lot of what is said here, but the book is still a solid, 5🌟 read.

Now for the fun!

my iphone screen

Three things that really, really help me:

  1. I can’t help thinking that I would rather have read a book than scroll some random person’s Instagram feed – that definitely helps me to stop the mindless scroll.
  2. Put your screentime widget on your front screen of your phone (see top left of screen above). Every time you pick up your phone and are confronted with your daily usage, you might reconsider what you intended to do. I added this widget in the second week of January this year and my screentime has gone down from 7 hours 11 to somewhere between 3 and 4 hours on average. More importantly, my Instagram usage has radically decreased. Here’s how to do it for Android phones.
  3. Put all your social media apps on page 2 of your phone. If you keep your tools on page 1 of your phone, you’re less likely to go straight to Instagram, Facebook, etc. Facebook is not on my phone and I maybe spend 10 minutes a month there via the web, and it’s all birthday check-ins.

Does your screentime usage bother you? Have you added the widget to your front page yet?

My 3 top takeaways from quarter 1 of 2023… updated for quarter 2 too

Originally written in April 2023 and sent to my newsletter list, now updated in July 2023

If you look at my numbers, it appears things are going great. I just checked my spreadsheet and I’m on 11.84 out of 23 for my #23goalsin2023, which is 51%, and we’re only 3  months into the year.

That says two things to me: I am good at getting big things done early (this is true – I always weight my work so that I “eat the frogs” first) and the rest of the year is going to show only incremental change (also true as a lot of my goals are project goals which means a 1/12 increase monthly).

However, let me share some of my favourite insights from the first three months:

1. Leave what’s not working for you

  • I abandoned the tracking of Gretchen’s Go outside 23 in 2023 project (and then on a recent-to-me podcast, I heard another listener say she also considers time in her car travelling to places “outside” time) but I am certainly outside more than 161 minutes a week.
  • I have abandoned three books this year already (great for me!) and I have abandoned some self-imposed, ambitious work projects (on my actual job). That will have to wait for after 30 June 🙂

2. Habits are easy for me to maintain if I schedule them

  • As a true upholder, I’ve embraced the scheduling of good habits.
  • I faithfully book two gym classes a week and attend. My Spanish dance classes happen every Thursday without fail.
  • I book all the days I plan to be at the office. Our hybrid work situation is flexible so “be here any 3 days of the week” I plan the previous week and align my menu planning and gym visits to that schedule.
  • I also take about 30 minutes (I tell myself it’s 23 minutes though, for whimsy!) to do my planning for the week – update diary, book journal, bullet journal and line-a-day diary. This is all scheduled.

3. Some things will just take longer than you think

  • For my work programme, I have now finally embraced the “staying present” and “enjoying the journey” but I’ll tell you – it all takes way longer than I think it should. On the other hand, I do actually think the end-product is better!
  • My health metrics are taking longer to right themselves. I was very disappointed about a month ago when my iron levels had not miraculously fixed themselves (nor had my cholesterol) but a colleague told me that her iron levels took two years to fix. I’m hoping mine happens faster than that but still, apparently health metrics don’t all fix themselves in just a few months.

What were your big takeaways from quarter 1?

For my quarter 2 update, I …

  • am now at 65% of my 23 in 2023 goals (if you think that’s awfully specifc, it’s because I track it with formulae on an actual Excel spreadsheet)
  • I have fully completed my programme and finished well
  • I am on my actual treat holiday for finishing the programme (so glad I booked it as it dragged me through the last two months).
  • I have now finished reading 64 books for the year so I am on track for 100 in 2023
  • I am most behind with all my medical appointments and have to get my bloods drawn and schedule my appointments to see if there is any change. It still feels like a miracle to me that doctors know what’s happening with you just from your blood! (Yes, I am easily awed)

And what are your quarter 2 updates?

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