Thursday, February 1, 2018

Tracking 2018: What I Did In January and How I Recorded It

(Here's my monthly "hair-growth progress" photo. Um, not much progress yet.)

Happy February! I hope you're having a good 2018 so far. I am! Since I ended last year feeling like I couldn't remember much, I set up a system to keep track of my activities this year, and here's how that worked out in January.

I needed to come up with a system that I would actually use. While I like the idea of putting everything in a digital format, I know that I'm more motivated by being able to write things on paper. I like to make lists and cross things off, and fill boxes, and make check-marks. So just know that I recycle and buy recycled paper products and try to be as efficient with my uses of paper as possible. 

The system I came up with is a binder with three pages for each week: one page for noting how much time I spend on the activities I want to do, as well as ones I'm trying not to do as much; one page for nutrition (like how many servings I eat per day of fruit, vegetables, nuts, etc); and a page with spaces to write the notable events of each day of the week. This might sound incredibly tedious to people who are motivated differently than I am, and that's okay! But when I want to put in a certain amount of exercise each week, for example, I enjoy writing that I did it, and I find that I'm more likely to fit it in if I look at the page for that week and see that I haven't done it yet. 

I'm probably not going to post much detail about exactly how many minutes I did this or that, but I may sometimes write about how a certain category is working out, especially if I find it particularly helpful or particularly vexing and in need of an overhaul! 

Generally, I have an idea of how much time I want to spend on various things each day or week, such as blogging, reading fiction, reading non-fiction, making art (which can be either visual art or any artistic form of writing I'm working on), meditating, exercising, crafting, and doing "life maintenance chores" like cleaning the house and doing the dishes. I'm starting the year with just tracking what I do, and I hope to improve on my stats as I figure out better ways to arrange my time.

Anyway... In January I:

  • Went on a six-day trip to Michigan to attend ConFusion SF.
  • Finished reading four novels: Seveneves, by Neal Stephenson (which I had started to read in December), and the first three Dublin Murder Squad books by Tana French, which are In the WoodsThe Likeness, and Faithful Place. I don't usually read mysteries, but my current favorite author, Jeff VanderMeer, posted that he had really enjoyed reading Tana French's novels. So I thought I'd better give those a try, and they turned out to be extremely good and hard to put down. One thing I especially like about them is that the main character is different from one to the next. You get to know them as a side character in one book, and then they become the main character in the next (and the impression you've gotten of them from the outside can change a lot once you get to see things from their perspective: this series is a master class in character development). Speaking of VanderMeer, btw, I am super-psyched to see the movie Annihilation this month, which is based on his Annihilation: A Novel.
  • Got the new tires my car needed BEFORE going on a road trip in the middle of winter, because that's the way to be an adult in spite of much preferring the idea of spending that money on, say, ANYTHING ELSE.
  • Also read most of Better than Before, by Gretchen Rubin, which is an outstanding book about making and changing habits, and I think it will deserve its own post after I finish it. It was a lucky find on the day that I was walking around while waiting for my new tires to be installed. Anyone who knows me understands that I can spend hours in Barnes & Noble. When I worked there (over 20 years ago! Jeez!) they said that they wanted to encourage people to read the books in the store. I have learned exactly how effective it is for their sales, when they let people get attached to a book and then feel the urgent need to buy it.
  • Went on a few fun outings with my boys, mostly involving restaurant food, because that's what teen and tween boys are talking about.
  • Spent many lovely hours with the man in my life, who is shy and doesn't want to be written about, but deserves the occasional mention for being awesome nonetheless. :)
  • Achieved my goal of losing one pound this month. I'm trying to be more about changing my eating habits for long-term health, and less about dieting to get to a certain weight as soon as possible, but I think it's reasonable to adjust my eating habits to aim for losing a pound a month for a while.
  • I exercised every week. Not quite as many times as I think I should (I want it to be three, and I mostly managed two), but that's better than not at all, ever. I'm trying to make my exercise about benefits other than weight loss. There are so many benefits, and it's more encouraging for me to focus on those. Maybe this philosophy will become another post!
  • I meditated one single time in the whole month of January, right on the last day, because I didn't want to have to say I never did it at all. I don't know why I resist it. I like it when I'm doing it, and it's usually only ten to twenty minutes. So I'll be working on finding a good time and/or trigger to get myself to do it more frequently.
  • Finally, I'm very pleased with the illustration I drew for the story I co-wrote with Maurice Broaddus, "What the Mountain Wants." I really want to post it to show you! But I'm saving it for a more impactful reveal sometime in the future. I may post a smaller detail portion of it before the full thing, though!
It was a good month! I do have ups and downs in my moods, and I don't want to give the false impression that nothing bad ever happens in my life. January was a happy time, though. :)

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