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!!

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!

This Week’s Goals – Week 2

weekly todo list

I am really easily distracted. My brain runs at about 100mph from the minute I wake up, so having a little public to-do list like this worked brilliantly last week for making sure I got the right things done.

I think each week I need to make sure I always add one procrastination-prone goal to the list (this will inevitably be something I have been putting off for ages). It’s really good to clear these kind of things as it just gives you a bit more mental get-up-and-go when you get them done. I also need to balance it with things that are easier/more enjoyable. Last week was a good mix, so let’s see if I can repeat that again this week.

On the agenda:

  1. Carry on getting photos sorted out on Mac/Phone
  2. Get back to inbox zero, for both personal and business accounts
  3. Three runs (one of these is a 5k race) and one strength session
  4. Get to the bottom of each of the washing baskets and put the mountain of outstanding clean clothes away
  5. Plan out shopping, meals and cooking for the start of the 3 week healthy eating challenge I’m doing from Saturday
  6. Keep within a £60 budget this week for food (no spending until Wednesday as that’s when I get some money!)
  7. Send Dad the book I bought for him
  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.

And here’s how last week turned out:

  1. Start my tax return (yawn!) – Done! Did the whole thing and got a £15 rebate, which will go straight towards debt reduction when it arrives.
  2. Do not buy any food except bare essentials like milk and bread (I am trying to use up everything in the cupboards/freezer/fridge as part of a money saving drive) – Done!
  3. Do two more runs – Done. And got a PB at parkrun on Saturday.
  4. Ring up and check what happened to my pension (I got a statement and its value had gone down by 20%) – Done. This was a paperwork error, the value has actually gone up. Phew.
  5. Start sorting out my photos (oh lordy – I am in a mess with these. My phone isn’t syncing with my desktop and everything is all over the place) – Done. I’ve fixed the corrupt library issue I had on the Mac, so getting it updated is now underway.
  6. List baby carrier and pro microphone on eBay – Not done. I decided to keep both of these items as the sling works as a back carrier (which I didn’t realise), and I’m not 100% sure I’m ready to sell the microphone in case I use it to develop any online course material for my business.
  7. Think about adding household accounts to YNAB (I am a total YNAB convert – it is the best personal budgeting tool I have ever used!) – Done! I thought about it and did it. I’ve added the household account and the mortgage account to a separate YNAB budget. The husband is going to transfer the TV licence over to the household account (he’s been paying that on the side for years), and I’ll be able to save any money from the household account that we don’t need each month and put it towards a) a kitchen/holidays/emergencies fund and b) mortgage overpayments. We’ve been working really hard at getting the mortgage paid off and are hoping to see the back of it within the next six years.

2016 in Review and 2017 Plans

2016

Right from when I first found out I was pregnant I knew that the first year after the baby was born would essentially be a year of tending to the basics of survival and not much else.  A newborn has a way of consuming the hours in the day without you ever really knowing where they go. However, despite that, and despite Baby F barely leaving my arms for the first four months, I still managed to achieve a handful of things:

A New Book

I’m working on a new book and have written 47,000 words so far. I’m about halfway through and I’ve had a complete break over Christmas, ready to pick up again in the New Year.

A New Business

I launched my new digital media company, Five Pixels, at the end of October. That sounds far grander than it is – it was a very low key affair! I booked a series of clients and I have a lot of work on for the first quarter of 2017. All very exciting.

A Growing Baby

Baby F is saying Mama and Dada, and babbling lots of other sounds. She is knee-walking and cruising, but yet to take her first steps. She is a climber and an explorer, but she’s still very much a Mummy’s girl. I reached one year of breastfeeding with flying colours and I was so, so pleased that we had made it that far. After Christmas I swiftly weaned her off of the night feeds as she was still feeding up to four times a night and one year on I was literally a broken mess from the lack of sleep. It was affecting my mood and my health and I knew it was time for me to stop. We did a complete cold turkey between the hours of ~10/11pm and 7am and she did brilliantly. Honestly – I was so worried it would be nights of screaming, but aside from a few minutes of wailing, she settled back to sleep and last night, our seventh night, she slept from 10:30pm (her last feed), to 7am without a peep. She was obviously just as ready as I was 🙂

Osteoarthritis

I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in the second half of the year. After doing some running over the summer I had to stop completely due to the increasing pain in my toes. I have something called hallux rigidus and I can no longer bend my right big toe upwards properly. I can’t stand on tiptoes and I can’t do yoga or lunges or any other exercises that requires toe-flexibility. I have really struggled with accepting this and have had a few evenings where I have felt really sorry for myself. Running is one of my ‘things’ and to not be able to do it, when I have waited so long to get back into it, is quite a blow. Worse, is the fact that I am now getting pain in my knees, hips, elbows, wrists and thumbs too. My GP said that the chronic lack of sleep I’ve suffered will probably be contributing to my joint pain, so weaning baby F off the night feeds will hopefully help provide some much needed time for my joints to rest and repair.

2017

Health

I have one overriding, overarching goal for 2017 that takes priority over everything else, and that is my health and fitness. I have a little bit of post-baby weight to lose (maybe 4kg), but mostly I want my energy back, my fitness back and my strength back. This is my BIG theme for the year.

OmniFocus

I am currently working through a training video on using omnifocus so that I can get everything from work and personal projects into a decent digital task/project manager. I really want to find a system that works for me this year.

Work

I want to streamline my business processes and get a decent portfolio up on my website. I am totally open to how business pans out – I am enjoying all of it at the moment, so I’m just going with the flow.

The Book

My goal is to finish first draft, revise, and then send out to an agent.

Photography

As much as possible I want to work on my photography skills. It’s just something I love to do.

I’m looking forward to a healthy and productive 2017 🙂