Day 203: Minor Distractions

Doing the video game music show has been an interesting education. But I think I’ll be ready to let it go at the end of the summer. I’ve learned a bunch of stuff and met great people. At the end of the day, though, it’s not a core interest for me. I don’t make music, and I don’t have time to play a lot of games. In fact, games are qualifying more and more as minor distractions.

There’s an old saw that one in ten Americans read books, and one in ten Canadians write them. I don’t think that’s true, but I definitely sympathize with the “don’t just consume, create” mentality.

I keep getting caught up in minor distractions, though. It’s hard to separate what’s “necessary leisure” with what’s “wasting time”. If I kill 30 minutes playing an iPhone game, is that depressurization I need? Or just a pointless distraction?

One of the things about games is it, well, gamifies all this stuff. If I were playing the game of my life, there’d be gauges. I’d be able to Tamagotchi myself. When my stress gauge is at eighty percent, give myself two units of game. When my productivity gauge is at twenty percent, allocate eight work units.

But we obviously don’t work like that. It’s not easy to Tamagotchi your life when you yourself are the virtual pet.

Minor distractions and major needs often conflict.

I enjoy minor distractions while I’m being distracted, but finishing a day without feeling like I’ve moved something forward distresses me. So there’s a constant tension between “relax and live your life” and “you are going to die someday.” It makes minor relaxation hard.

A more disciplined person might be able to allocate things better. 1.2 hours of allocated fun from 8:12 to 9:26 a.m. this morning. But that’s just not how I’m wired. Should it be? Is this something I should be striving for?

Day 202: Weekends and Water

It’s come up before, but keeping up with the water drinking is a challenge on weekends. I’ve actually done something that’s, well, probably super obvious. But it seems clever to me, because weekends and water are hard.

I’ve got two four-cup measuring cups; the big glass ones. And I just keep filling one to the 1000-mL mark and using it to pour water. Once it’s empty, I log the litre and then refill it.

Man, now that I’m writing it down, it seems stupid. But it was like a “hey, wait a minute” moment for me, when I’ve been just kind of guessing how much water I’ve been drinking from pint glasses (hint: not a pint).

Weekends and water are tough, because I have no routine on weekends.

Weekends bust my routine wide open, so it’s hard to just sit there and plug away at a pitcher of water like I can at work. So it’s double important for me to find ways to make and track consistent water drinking.

I’m surprised at how quickly this has become a Big Thing for me, but it’s really become pretty core. The funny thing is I still do not like water. It’s just so damn dull.

But it’s helping, I think. The drinking cravings, which were periodic but present, seem to really be slipping away with the water drinking. I still get “snacky” but it doesn’t seem as acute.

Is it wasteful? I dunno. I sometimes feel like I’m being very first-world with all the water drinking. But then I remember that I’m mostly vegan, don’t own a car, pay my taxes without complaint and generally try to be decent. If drinking a lot of water is the sum of my sins, I’m still doing okay.

Plus hand-wavey stuff about investing in good health and reducing systemic burdens and waste associated with healthcare.

 

Day 201: Cycling good things

So for a while, I’ve been feeling like I’m doing well, but kind of cycling good things through different kinds of “doing well.” Food logging, exercise have been decent recently, but the checklists have been lacking. Periods of side hustle development have been going well, but night checklists and sleep suffer a bit.

I’m not distressed by this; I am coming to recognize, though, that I can’t be 100% the best person, 100% of the time. I mean, I literally don’t have time to be that person. So there’s a kind of rotation of diligence here. I feel like I’m managing fairly well, and keeping the teeter-totter from teeting or totting too hard.

Cycling good things is my current, well thing.

I’m in a good place, or I’m convincing myself I’m in a good place. But I can definitely see some hard choices coming in terms of time management. I’ve been taking on a lot in volunteer areas, which is good for the soul and good to build a local network, but I need to tap some new things for myself, and that means tapping out of some current commitments.

Day 200: 14 kilometres!

Whoo! Scheduled for a 12k today, felt daffy, and ran 14 kilometres instead. And I feel… good. 2/3 of the half-mara. Could I have done the whole half-marathon today? Maybe! But I have to get to work.

So I might be brutally tired later today, but frankly, I don’t feel much difference between a 12k run and a 14k run. After a while you’re just kind of “still moving” and it doesn’t seem to bug me as much.

I do have a crystal clear memory of the last 2-3 k of the only half-marathon I’ve ever run just being brutal, though, so this isn’t overconfidence.  I’m just happy to have done it.

I did a bad job of food logging/tracking yesterday, so job one once I’m done this is to backtrack and retro-log my day — all of it, the good and the bad — to stay honest. I’d be lying if I said today’s super-run wasn’t partly fuelled by guilt.

The early arthritis diagnosis for my knee isn’t stressing me as much as maybe it should, but early Internet searcheries show it as not being the end of the world. Maybe this is confirmation bias. I dunno.

Short entry today — the problem with longer runs is definitely going to be time management.

14 kilometres! Woot!

Oh, and yeah, I know. 200. Big deal. I have a real thing about anniversaries, though:

5

10

25

50

100

250

500

1000

Those are milestones. Anything else is fishing for compliments. IMO.

Day 199: Checklists and productivity

Here’s where I’ve landed on the productivity thing: I’m going to be cloning my work system, but on per-project basis. Checklists and productivity work well together for me. And since I have a lot of me-only projects, and I don’t have a lot of dependencies, checklists work. I don’t have to keep track of what other people are doing, mostly.

Productivity Alchemy isn’t available on Stitcher (yet?), so I haven’t been listening to it as much as I’d like. I have one podcast app. It’s one of the things that keeps my life a little more streamlined. So if I’m missing out on some podcasts, so it goes. My choice.

The aforementioned Productivity Alchemy is being discussed on MetaFilter, which has all sorts’a interesting productivity methods in that thread. Ctrl-F “Aggravations List” for a really cool approach to the problem. Here’s mine.

Checklists and productivity and portability, oh my!

At work, I use Sublime Text and a package called PlainTasks to create todo lists. There’s a bunch of things I like about this combination of things…

  • It’s super simple, easy to read, easy to follow.
  • Sublime has folding features, so I can collapse up tasks that have subtasks associated with them.
  • File sizes and load times are teeny tiny.
  • It’s easy to mark things as done, and then they turn grey and are struck through with the time you marked them as done written right next to them. Good psychologically, and also for tracking.

So my general methodology is to have a daily to-do list. As I move through the day, I zero my inbox by adding things to it. I tick things off as they get done. Almost no task is too small to be added, unless it’s really a less-than-one-minute thing.

Every morning, I write today’s date, copy yesterday’s list, paste it up under the new date. Then I delete all the done items. Catch up on overnight email and add new tasks to the list.

One of the things I like about this is that it makes a very long, searchable text. So if I’m wondering about a project’s status, I can search for it, and see (usually) a hand-off task on my end and when it was done.

So I’m trying to implement this at home. I’m thinking it might be best to tackle it as a document per project, rather than one total intimidating to-do list. That way, when time allows, I can peck away at any of a number of things instead of living in a constant feeling of overwhelmed panic.

 

Day 198: Steady On

Things are about to get real with the half-marathon training. 5k tomorrow, then 12 on Thursday; repeat Saturday-Sunday. Next week we start getting into 18k; running will be steady on until then.

I’m kind of excited; I also kind of stupidly set my fake “race” to August 22, so I might have to just move that up to Sunday, August 20 and not tell the app. I still have no idea what I’m going to do for the run itself. Just get a car for the morning and run in one direction for three hours, then have my wife come and get me? I dunno.

So the arthritis diagnosis plus the more serious running ahead is definitely a good impetus to lose weight. And I’m feeling positive about it. Behind goal a bit right now, but that’s okay; it’s going to be a good week.

Steady on til run time.

I’m rowing on rest days, which is probably fine? Opinions seem to be mixed. Not sure if I should be exercising on rest days, but I enjoy it, and the rowing is definitely good full-body.

Strength training eludes me. I just… don’t want to do it. That’s kind of the obstacle. My complete unwillingness to do strength training. I know I should. Meh.

A friend of mine has been seriously talking up TRX, which sounds, frankly, really friggin’ cool. But I’m having a hard time seeing whether this is “I can get into this” excited, or “if I spend money I’ll do something” fallacy.

So time to get to strength training. I gotta do it.

Productivity update: I might check out a new podcast featuring Ursula K Vernon, in which she’s exploring productivity options with her husband. I know Ursula from my brief time in comics, when I was doing The License for Graphic Smash while she was doing Digger. I’ll keep you posted.

 

Day 197: Breakin’

It’s been a great weekend, and a bit of breakin’ from routine for an extended cheat day — not going nuts or anything, but it’s hard to be on top of everything and still host guests, so I’ll take that excuse to slack off a bit.

Today’s a day off work for me — burning off some vacation — so I’m going to be focusing on Side Hustle as a straight 9-5 and seeing how I can do at getting that closer to launch.

I’m excited about the side hustle thing, but also nervous. Longevity and consistency are a challenge for me, sometimes. And I may need to make some tough choices about volunteerism if this starts to go well — it’s going to take some time.

Getting back on it today; as I was saying to my wife this morning, breakin’ a bit is good, and it’s important to have the trend line as well as the rigor. So today the rigor is back — starting with a good day’s focus on the side gig stuff. Well, maybe a little goofing around, too.

Breakin’ (up) is easy to do.

It’s pretty easy to fall into break patterns, and in the past I’ve been focused on “how I make healthy the default, so sticking with good habits doesn’t feel like ‘I need a break’.” I’m beginning to accept that’s a slow road. But I made a few small decisions over the weekend that I’m proud of. And I’m definitely happy with the sobriety stuff (massive water drinking helps a lot).

The sobriety is always the foundation. I don’t know if that makes it an excuse for bad behaviour sometimes, or if the bad behaviour is one of the ways I deal with sobriety. But I’m hitting all the notes for the half-marathon training. I’m eating pretty good all things considered. So I’m not worried about brief breakin’ sprees from time to time.

It’s how I bounce back that’s important.

Day 196: Gratitude

Having an old friend stay over on her way through town. And catching up in the way you do with people you haven’t seen in 20-plus years. It’s amazing, when I start breaking down the last two decades of my life, how much gratitude I feel for how well things have gone overall.

It’s a good piece of perspective. Being able to lay out the arc of two decades and see that it’s a steady trend upwards. Even if there are stresses and distress from time to time. It’s been a general upward swing.

So I’m feeling a lot of gratitude this morning, which is not something I’m good about feeling or expressing. It feels kind of mawkish and self-congratulatory. At the same time, I think knowing you’re doing okay is an important thing to check in on every once in a while.

I’m doing okay. I’m grateful for that.

I think it’s also important to bear in mind how much of what I’m grateful for is gratitude for my own skills and abilities, and how much is gratitude for support I’ve received from others, and how much is gratitude for luck.

Because I’ve been more lucky than anything, I’d venture. I’ve had a lot of good breaks and been helped by a lot of good people.

Exercising gratitude in real life is tricky.

Again, I feel weird sharing stuff like this. I’m on the atheist end of agnostic, so I’m not even sure if “gratitude” is the right turn of phrase. To whom? For what?

I think the best I can do with that feeling is try to use it to leverage myself into being better at empathy for people who aren’t doing well. I get caught up in uncharitable thoughts a lot. If I can take this gratitude and convert it into being more understanding toward people who are struggling, that seems like a pretty good use for it.

 

Day 195: Couples Running

I’ve been enjoying couples running, on Saturday mornings, with my wife lately.

We don’t run together often, because I started at the kind of 10k range when she was doing couch to 5k, and I’m now training up to a half-marathon as she’s training up to 10k. But Saturdays are a rest day for me, and a “recovery run” day for her, so its an opportunity for us to do a light run together.

It’s nice! I enjoy it. Plus, it’s a motivator to get some exercise first thing on Saturday, which makes the radio show much better (being awake and alert on the radio is helpful! Who knew?).

Couples running is also talking time.

First rule I learned: there is no music during couples running. We are not putting on the Van Halen and putting the foot-pedal to the street-metal. It’s a light, chatty run. Which is, again, nice. It’s a different mode than my usual runs, which is also a good thing. Mixing it up is a good idea.

Second rule: we’re not running for time or distance. We’re running to a clock, but not to set or beat any kind of records. It’s a faster version of “out for a stroll.”

Third rule: nobody owns the route. We’ve been trading off, but I think we might start free-forming soon.

 

Day 194: Surprise Sober People

Sometimes you get a nice surprise when sobriety just pops up out of nowhere. Surprise sober people are the best. Especially when it’s just no big thing.

I’ve been messing around with Stitcher Premium, because I love me some comedy. So pretty much a blind choice, the other day, was Dan St. Germain. “Bad at the Good Times.” Great comedy album; he definitely works blue, if that sort of thing is important to you.

Near the end, he just drops “I’m a sober guy”, and then riffs on sobriety for a while. It’s good, funny stuff — and just kind of nice, culturally, to have that dropped in.

Because it’s a thing, for me, that sober should not be a big deal. Half the problem with drinking is that it’s such a thing. And not drinking is such a thing. So I just appreciate it when somebody who has cultural capital kind of drops sobriety in there. Like it’s no big thing.

Surprise sober people are everywhere!

The longer I’m sober, the more sober people seem to pop up in my life. And the longer I’m sober and semi-public about it, the more comfortable people seem to be “out sober” around me.

But surprise sober people surround me. Some are vegan, some are religious, some are people like me who don’t drink for non-dramatic reasons, some are people who Really Can’t Drink, and that’s cool too.

It’s just interesting to see these people… accrue over time. And some of it is confirmation bias, I know. And I feel like a “maybe the really cool thing is to get good grades” dork talking about this.

But it does feel a bit rebellious to just flat out not drink. It certainly puts you in a different space in the adult Western social contract.