This Week’s Goal + Training Log #5

I’ve had a busy week work-wise, which always seems to be the beginning of everything else sliding out of control. My eating has been erratic, picking at stuff in the day and eating too much sugary food to keep me going. My sleep has been disrupted by late nights because after hours of work I find myself zoning out in front of the TV. My running would normally have suffered too, but I proactively decided after my run on Monday that I was overtired and in need of a rest. My joints were aching and I could barely manage to run at a decent pace on my fast intervals.

The danger of taking a break is always that you won’t start again. I didn’t want 12 weeks of training to go to waste, but thankfully I found that I really missed it. I follow a lot of runners on instagram so seeing their posts all week kept the fire burning 🙂. I took a five day break and ran a 5k PB on Saturday although my knees were quite sore on the Sunday.

Current goal: Finish family photo albums, years 2010-2017

Goals-wise I have spent a massive 13 hours* on my photo books, mostly in the evening or during baby F’s naps. The first couple of hours at the beginning were all about getting back to the point I was at when I stopped the last time (months ago). This is one of the obvious costs of swapping between goals all the time. Leave it too long and you lose the whole mental-map of where you are and what you’re doing. I had to update the photobook software, read through my notes and check files and folders to make sure I was picking up at the right point.

Once I got that out of the way I started to make good progress and I’m now up to November on the 2011 book (I had previously stopped around April). Note that I haven’t done 2010 yet, so things are a bit haphazard. I wanted to get 2011 done first because it is the year that C was born and the first book I did was the year L was born. C has been waiting to see ‘his’ book for so long I decided to do that one first. Man, I wish I’d just done all this before and not procrastinated over it!

Mental distractions

I had to resist the urge to get involved in other projects this week. I thought of a great series of blog posts I could do. I wanted to spend time on a course I want to develop for small businesses. I wanted to do a course in SEO to increase my knowledge, and I wanted to sort out and declutter in the main bedroom.

I stopped and reminded myself that I am trying out this one-goal thing for a reason, and I managed to avoid getting sucked into anything new. Hopefully over time I will be able to increase my focus and my ability to stick to one thing until I have finished it.

Training

Training diary was short this week:

Mon – 6.5km in 50 mins, including walk breaks (too tired!), and a fair bit of uphill work.
Tue-Fri – rest
Sat – 5km 30:36 😄
Sun – rest (tired and sore joints)

I’m going to run easier this week – no speedy-gonzales, haha. Not that you could really call my fast running all that fast, but you know what I mean.

*Timing myself has been a bit of revelation. 13 hours!! I am actually astonished that on top of all the work I did I still managed to find 13 hours for a personal project. That is a huge chunk of time. 13 hours each week for a year equates to 96 work days (7 hour days). Imagine what you could do with that!!

Cupboard Sort Out – Before and After

 

It’s been a while since I’ve done a decent job in sorting, decluttering and tidying. The whole house is starting to feel a bit neglected, and messy.

This Sunday afternoon, with the school holidays just two weeks away (and more mess and chaos imminent), I decided to do a quick clear out of the left side of the upstairs cupboard. I realise that to some my cupboard will already look pretty tidy. It has been a long journey to get here and we are still downsizing and learning to live without so much excess. However, we have already let go of so much (and feel so much lighter for it), that it may look as though we have no need to sort through again.

What I will say though is:

a) things have a habit of accumulating when you are looking the other way,
b) it is good to regularly question the value of things you don’t touch from year to year, and
c) there is never really an ‘end’ to living a more minimalist lifestyle.

Needs and wants change with the seasons and years, and the ebb and flow of our possessions reflects this. But if it is all arrival and never departure then gradually your life becomes fossilised as layers and layers of stuff that (let’s be honest), are going to be someone else’s job to sort through when you die.

So, out of the cupboard today came:

  • Sony laptop box – to sell with the laptop as I have a desktop and really don’t need both.
  • Large baby floor blanket – donate
  • Spare cushion – replaced the old one downstairs
  • Picture that C painted when he was 4 that I love. I put it in the frame properly, not perfect (perfectionism is something I’m trying to overcome), but just got it done, then hung it on the wall. C loved having his picture put on display (and it was a 2 year-old job off the list).
C’s picture, kept in a frame to protect it for two years but never finished off. Until now!
  • Portraits of my mum, and several old relatives from my Dad’s side. Put up the ones of my mum, Emanuel (my great great grandfather), and Amelia (my great grandmother). Stored two others behind these in the frame.
Portraits in the cupboard. It’s unfinished projects like this that create mental clutter.
  • Baby carrier – to sell
  • 4 moses basket sheets – donate (Now,  some things are harder to say goodbye to than others. They brought back such memories… but, I’d rather they were used for a lovely new baby than being left in a cupboard gathering dust, so off they went after some sentimental brushing against my cheek).
  • Baby blanket, bought for us when I had my first son and used for all three but still in very good condition – donate
  • Two horrible, old, spare, white pillowcases – recycle
  • 4 out of 6 plastic-backed cot sheets. They are spares on top of the four normal ones in the event of serious vomiting episodes. Decided I only needed 2 – donate 4
  • 2 out of 4 spare cot sheets. Decided 2 was fine (I have four others I use regularly) – donate 2
  • 2 out of 4 moses basket blankets. Useful for cool nights and car trips – donate 2
  • 4 out of 10 muslin cloths. I donated around 40 of these last year, but have used only a couple on a couple of occasions since – donate 5, recycle 1 stained.
The pictures were framed and went up, with some slightly dodgy ladder-on-the-stairs DIY. The photo wall is coming along nicely. I’ve got some smaller frames to go in the central vertical gap, but that’s for another day.

Into the cupboard went:

  • The storage box for a fan we are currently using (crazy hot weather). Most of the year the fan goes in the box and the box goes in the loft.

And there we have it. Probably a couple of hours work in between doing everything with the children at home, but SO nice when finished. I then refolded the remaining linen, just because it looks nice 🙂

This Week’s Goals & Training Log #4

I’ve decided to put everything in one post, since I’m updating on these weekly.

I had a much better week, and managed to knock off a lot of stressful tasks that were really getting me down – sometimes I procrastinate over things that I think are going to be difficult to do, especially work tasks, and then I find I just get annoyed with myself that I haven’t done them. The feeling of actually getting stuff finished that I wasn’t looking forward to doing is always relief. When will I ever learn that procrastination is always the enemy?!

However, although the week started well, I’ve ended up feeling overwhelmed and overworked again at the end of it. Sometimes I literally hate all the possessions in our house. I fantasize on a regular basis about throwing EVERYTHING out. Mum popped in on Sunday morning and she always brings something – toys usually, or clothes (which I prefer) – but you know what?

We have enough.

And that is the crux of the matter. It’s not that they don’t want more toys (what kid wouldn’t?), but we have enough. We don’t need more. We don’t need to be contributing to endless, blind consumerism. I think that too many toys contributes to a lack of focus, an inability to keep things tidy and an attitude of not caring about possessions. Not to mention that instead of building a relationship, my mum is creating an expectation of always providing gifts. I need to tell her this, but I can’t find the right words and I am afraid of offending her. (UPDATE: I phoned her later and tried my best to explain… talking to my mum is so hard when I need to ask her to do, or not do, something. I feel so horribly guilty and un-daughterly. But I did it. I just hope she hasn’t taken it the wrong way.)

Christmas and birthdays are particularly stressful for me, as I see things flood into our house only to be discarded after opening, and lost/broken before they are ever properly played with. It’s not the right way to treat the resources of our planet.

Sigh. One day I really might just gather everything up and be done with it. I know everyone will think I am crazy, but stuff just brings me down, and clutter drives me crazy.

 Goals

From this week onwards I’m taking a completely different approach. Instead of having iddy-biddy piles of stuff that I need to do, and bouncing around from project to project, I’m going to focus on ONE project at a time until it is DONE. In the background I will still be doing all the normal household stuff, working, exercising, shopping, cooking and looking after the kiddos (i.e. life), but if I get any time to focus on a particular job I’m going to prioritise my one goal over everything else.

I’m also going to record the hours that I work on each project (I use toggl).

I spent a long time sorting through my todo list and relegating projects that I get distracted by and I finally decided that the one thing that I’ve been meaning to do for such a long time is get our family photo books printed. I need to do every year from 2010 onwards (omg, I can’t even believe that it’s got this far and I haven’t done them). 2009 is sat nicely on the bookshelf and I really want the later ones there too. The boys especially love to look back at old family pictures, so I think it’s important for them that I do this. It also shows that I care about our memories rather than just letting them sit on the computer ignored.

So, I’ve set myself a deadline of 15 Jan 2018 to get them all done (including the 2017 one). All I will do between now and then is update with hours and progress and pics. Now I’ve actually made the decision to get them done, I’m really glad (and a bit nervous at leaving everything else aside).

Current goal:

Finish family photo albums, years 2010-2017.

How last week went:

  1. Collect together ALL the paperwork scattered ALL over the house and make sure there is nothing urgent in there – Done.
  2. Get back to inbox zero for business account – Not done. Bah. I am struggling with work at the moment. Such a lot on.
  3. Three runs – Done
  4. Completely clear the table and the floor area around it – Done.
  5. Think about moving from Omnifocus to Things 3, because Omnifocus is just not working that well for me anymore – Done. Moved and loving Things 3 so far.

Training Week 12

A good week, although I was tired at the start after last week‘s PBs. I’ve randomly dropped half a kilo (must’ve left it behind on a run, haha), which is a nice surprise as my weight had gone up and then sat there for the last few weeks. I’m not obsessive over the numbers, but I really want to lose the jiggly belly. Three children have lived in there, and at the moment, it shows.

Monday

Rather uninspired 4km run. My heart really wasn’t in it.

Tuesday

Rest.

Wednesday

Met some friends at the park, so did a bit of walking in the 90 mins we were out. Put it down as recovery.

Thursday

10km run! Super exciting to do this! I ran it in 1:14, which is slow, but I wasn’t aiming for speed. I’m just trying to get my body used to running for longer distances as my knee often plays up when I do. No knee pain at all, which I am super-chuffed about and barely any soreness in the leg muscles the next day. It was a hot morning and I really enjoyed it. I’ve gone from nothing to being able to run for 74 minutes non-stop over the course of the last 12 weeks, which I can barely believe when I think about it. Really, really pleased with this.

Friday

Rest.

Saturday

Parkrun 5km, PB 30:59

Sunday

2km walk (tail walker at Junior Parkrun)

The Terrible Twos and Just One Goal

The Terrible Twos

Baby F is approaching 20 months old. I swear the universe laughs at me daily. I wanted a third baby so much I can’t even put it into words – it felt like my soul had a hole in it before she arrived. And since around 24 hours after she forced her way out into the world without any hesitation, she has been demanding every ounce of patience and willpower and parenting skill I possess.

There was a brief period, from about 9 months to about 12 months where things were calmer, but we are back in the realm of extreme behaviour again. She has returned to a level of clinginess not seen since she was a newborn. She will not be put down at the park, she will not go in the buggy, she will not walk anywhere if she can be carried, she cries when people talk to her, she clings on to me as if her life depends on it. And at home she is THE ANGRIEST TODDLER EVER. We have tantrums about once every 15 minutes or so, over the most ridiculous things. She has to do and have everything the boys have. She has this odd thing going on where she is obsessive about the clothes I put on her. She strips off and redresses herself multiple times a day (I had no idea a baby of this age could get dressed until I saw it with my own eyes, but for a few months now she has been able to put on and take off tops and leggings – the only thing she hasn’t mastered is pulling the bum of her trousers over her nappy). She screams at C and L when she can’t get what she wants. She hits C over the head. She screams at nap time, at bedtime, and just generally throughout the day, sometimes for reasons I can’t even imagine. She screams when I try to do anything with either of the boys (like homework, playing or even just talking to them). She screams sometimes when I pick her up, but screams more when I try to put her down… she is very, very hard work.

C was the easiest toddler in the world. L was more of a challenge, but he was never the screaming-meltdown type. He was more silently defiant and completely impossible to control (haha). So, I can say with all honesty that if I had had baby F first, I would probably be in the throws of postpartum depression right now, because she is SO hard to be with and as an inexperienced mum I know I would be taking it a lot more personally. However, having been here before, I spend most of my time in disbelief at how crazy it all is and telling myself that I have survived these “phases” before with two other children and I will do again. I have a suspicion that a part of her behaviour originates from witnessing the boys. They obviously argue and fight with each other in a normal sibling way, but she seems to mimic this and direct it towards everyone. Our current plan, after a particularly trying day with the youngest two yesterday is to ignore anything above conversation volume. From all three of them.

Sigh.

It’s just three weeks until the 6 week school holiday, so I am hoping that the ignoring technique brings about some level of calm before school finishes. Trying to do anything with a 7 and 5 year old while managing a thrashing, screaming toddler is really quite hard work.

Just One Goal

I’ve downloaded a trial of a task manager called Things 3 for the Mac. I used Things 2 for quite a long time before switching to Omnifocus, but of late I have found Omnifocus only working in one direction. I would record all my todos in Omnifocus all the time, but even after watching tutorials and setting up custom-perspectives I still can’t find a view that makes sense to my brain in order to check through my list and tick things off. I have hundreds of items in there, and everything just ends up being so cluttered all the time, I never view them. So in all my tasks go, and I never check anything off – I just rely on memory to do it, which is a totally ridiculous way to use a piece of software.

Things 3 has been redesigned completely and I have to say it is beautiful to use and exceedingly well thought out. I have been very impressed with it so far and have now spent the £10 to get the app on my phone. It syncs between desktop and phone, but the desktop app is just shy of £50 which is a lot of money. So, I’ll see how the trial goes for two weeks, then I’ll get by with my phone and maybe at the start of next month I might pay for the desktop app. We’ll see.

Two things that I have decided on are that:

a) I want to try putting everything else aside and focusing on one goal only, until completion. I’ve never really worked that way before and a lot of my projects take years to complete. I have always spread myself thinly across lots of different hobbies/projects because I have a flighty mind. I’m starting to think that this is just a really inefficient and unrewarding way of working that leaves me prone to regular feelings of overwhelm. So, I’m relegating pretty much EVERYTHING to “someday”. Even the mental lightness of knowing I don’t have to do it all now is wonderful. I’m also thinking I might start timing work on goals. I already record everything I do for work in Toggl, so I’ll just create a new workspace for personal goals and then I can see exactly how long things are taking me. It will be quite cool to see how many hours I spend completing goals too, as it will give me more of an idea of what is achievable.

b) I need to get back to a more minimalistic way of living. I was very focused on paring things back when we were trying for baby F, mainly because everything seemed so superfluous to getting pregnant and having a baby. Since her birth though, I have lost my way a bit. The result is a far more cluttered house (which also adds to horrible feelings of complete overwhelm). I know that there has to be a line between practicality and minimalism when you have three children, but I think I have started to slip back into allowing things to accumulate in our living space that we don’t really need. Rampant consumerism makes me feel like I am not taking care of myself, or the planet. We do not need SO much of what we all own.

Ensuring I am vigilant enough to keep the worst of it out of my life (novelty gifts and plastic toys sold for pence that destroy our environment and end up as landfill), is something I have realised I can never stop doing. It is quite sad that when you let down your guard your home fills mysteriously with crap. So anyway, I want to get back to a more minimal mindset and way of living. Too much choice is even more overwhelming for children than it is for adults. Have you ever taken a child to Toys R Us with some pocket money? It’ll be two hours of anguish to decide how to spend it, and you can pretty much bet they’ll still cry on the way home because they’ve made the wrong decision.

So there we go. Focus focus focus, on the essential and only the essential is what I’m going to be trying to do. I’ll still be running, blogging and doing all the things that I need to do to run a house and look after the children, but my personal time (what little there is), will be better directed now, I hope.

This Week’s Goals – Week 3

this weeks goals

Last week was a tough one. I had a lot on and baby F was sick late on Thursday night (sigh). She was very grisly and clingy all weekend. I think I over-estimated what I could achieve as I felt quite stressed out by the end of Sunday and very behind on everything. I absolutely hate the feeling of overwhelm I get when the house is in chaos (it is), and there are a billion things that need to be done (there are). I don’t deal well with disorder. I ran a 5k race last week, and attended a business breakfast meeting, plus I’m in the middle of a project for a client, so all in all it was a week to be reckoned with.

This week I’m going to try to scale it back a bit, and I’m seriously thinking about cutting everything down to work on literally ONE thing at a time, super-intensively, until it is done. I’m wondering if that might just be a more productive way of getting through things.

On the agenda this week:

  1. Collect together ALL the paperwork scattered ALL over the house and make sure there is nothing urgent in there
  2. Get back to inbox zero for business account
  3. Three runs
  4. Completely clear the table and the floor area around it
  5. Think about moving from Omnifocus to Things 3, because Omnifocus is just not working that well for me anymore

Here’s how last week went:

  1. Carry on getting photos sorted out on Mac/Phone – Done. Thank goodness. I’d been putting this off for a whacking 9 months.
  2. Get back to inbox zero, for both personal and business accounts – Done for personal, not done for business.
  3. Three runs (one of these is a 5k race) and one strength session – Did three runs (and great times), but no strength session, again.
  4. Get to the bottom of each of the washing baskets and put the mountain of outstanding clean clothes away – Done.
  5. Plan out shopping, meals and cooking for the start of the 3 week healthy eating challenge I’m doing from Saturday Monday – Done. I’m a bit nervous about this as it requires lots and lots of chopping and prep (you know how it is with healthy food).
  6. Keep within a £60 budget this week for food (no spending until Wednesday as that’s when I get some money!) – Fail! I went miles over budget after buying my healthy food on Sunday for the first three days this week.
  7. Send Dad the book I bought for him – Done.
  8. Business goals: decide where/how/if to blog about these, but in the meantime get a quote out, do design changes for current project and get new email list up and running – Done. Did changes, quote and set up email list, and have decided not to blog about weekly business goals just yet as the summer holidays are approaching and it will be too stressful trying to keep up with it all!