Reading progress… update #1

Novels:

  • Dexter, Colin: The Dead of Jericho
  • Dexter, Colin: The Riddle of the Third Mile

Morning reading:

  • Aurelius, Marcus: Meditations – Book 1
  • The Bible: Romans – Chapters 1-4
  • King, Stephen: On Writing – Forewards 1, 2 and 3
  • Russell, Bertrand: History of Western Philosophy – Preface and Introduction
  • Seneca: Dialogues and Essays – Introduction and Note on the Text

Less, More & None (2021)

Less

  • allowing my task list to build up1
  • looking at my mobile phone when people are talking to me
  • reading doomscrolling the news2

More

  • exercise
  • reading3
  • saving money
  • seeking opportunities for personal growth
  • writing

None

  • making excuses when it comes to exercise4
  • skipping my ‘morning reading'5
  1. Do, defer, delegate or delete.[]
  2. Once per day is more than enough[]
  3. After reading 41 books in 2020, I want to challenge myself to read 50 in 2021.[]
  4. I will get outside and run even if it is icy cold or teeming down with rain. And if I really can’t get outside to run then I will work out at home. There are no excuses. There is always enough time, enough ways to keep to fit, and enough tools (apps/videos/guides) to be able to exercise every day.[]
  5. One of my daily rituals is to read from a selection of philosophical and theological texts. It helps focus my mind at the start of the day.[]

Less, More and None (2020) – Review

Less

  • (cont.) spending time on ‘urgent but unimportant’ tasks
    • I did a much better job of this in 2020. I was able to be more strategic and to delegate tasks more willingly. Something I have always struggled with.
  • tinkering with apps and organisational tools (I need to pick a system and stick to it)
    • I broke this down into three areas (notes/schedule/projects) and settled on one app to manage each of them:
      • Drafts for writing: ideas, notes, lists, blog posts and reference material.
      • Fantastical to organise my day: lessons, meetings, calls and events.
      • OmniFocus for task and project management.
    • I also made some changes to my daily and weekly reviews that kept me better organised.
  • avoiding difficult / time-consuming tasks
    • I did well with this as well, in part due to the improvements I made to my organisation as noted above. In particular, I started using the ‘forecast tag’ in OmniFocus for these tasks and also scheduled time in my calendar for when I would work on them. This meant that they were always visible and would not be missed in my daily review. Scheduling time in my calendar meant that progress was made on them each day until they were done. Incremental progress FTW!

More

  • trying new foods and recipes
    • Jennifer and I are always exploring new recipes but we did even better this year building a wide range of new meals into each month. And like 2019, we struck a healthy balance between meat-based dishes and vegetarian ones.
  • rediscovering old music
    • I immersed myself in Jazz, exploring a wide range of styles (hard-bop, modal, avant-garde…) and musicians. I improved my knowledge of the genre’s development and discovered a number pieces that entered into regular rotation. My top three tunes for the year are:
    • Having spent a lot of time over the years listening to the more avant-garde and challenging work of Miles Davis and John Coltrane, I was surprised to see how much I leaned toward smooth and modal Jazz over the course of the year. Red Garland, Bill Evans and McCoy Tyner (all pianists) featured prominently. Maybe I am mellowing out!?
    • In addition to this, I also revisited a lot of music from my youth (80s/90s). According to Spotify, my most listened to artists this year were: Queen, Radiohead and Nick Cave.
    • I spent some time listening to classical music too; mostly Beethoven, Chopin, and Fauré, so the piano featured prominently there as well. Maybe I should learn to play the piano in 2021?
    • I made a number of new playlists in Spotify and updated some of my existing ones. They can all be found via my Spotify profile.
  • visiting new places
    • This did not happen for obvious reasons. Instead we made the most of our local area while doing all that we could to keep ourselves and other safe. The time spent here at home was not wasted though, I read more books than I have done in a long time.
  • mobility exercises and yoga
    • I failed miserably with this one unfortunately, and I haven’t done as well with my running over the last three months of the year either. Exercise has to be a habit and requires commitment. I will be re-committing to this in 2021 and ensuring that I can forge good habits to get back on track.
  • (cont.) writing
    • In terms of writing, I never truly found my mojo. That said, I did publish 24 full blog posts (20 more than 2019 ). Two blog posts per month is not what I was aiming for at the start of the year. As with exercise, writing has to become a habit. I will be committing to working towards this in 2021 as well.

None

  • (cont.) looking at my mobile phone when people are talking to me (still trying to make this stick!)
    • I finally made some headway with this in 2020. I took to leaving my phone on the coffee table or even in a different room and this helped. Still, I can do even better so this item will graduate to the ‘Less’ section for 2021.
  • saying yes to projects or ideas that will only have short-term or limited impact (aiming for a year of quality not quantity)
    • When faced with a pandemic, partial school closures and a constantly changing set of guidelines and rules, it has been hard not to have to work on projects that were about ‘short-term’ impact. Sometimes you simply have to adapt to the needs in front of you and I feel that alongside my colleagues, I did a good job in helping to keep the school going under very challenging circumstances.

Less, More and None (2020)

A shorter, more focussed list for 2020…

Less

  • (cont.) spending time on ‘urgent but unimportant’ tasks
  • tinkering with apps and organisational tools (I need to pick a system and stick to it)
  • avoiding difficult / time-consuming tasks

More

  • trying new foods and recipes
  • rediscovering old music
  • visiting new places
  • mobility exercises and yoga
  • (cont.) writing

None

  • (cont.) looking at my mobile phone when people are talking to me (still trying to make this stick!)
  • saying yes to projects or ideas that will only have short-term or limited impact (aiming for a year of quality not quantity)

Less, More and None (2019) – Review

Less

  • eating out
    • Jen and I ate out less than once per week on average over the course of the year. In fact, our approach to eating and nutrition evolved significantly; trying at least two to three new recipes every month, as well as eating more vegetarian and vegan food as the year progressed. 🍅🥑🌽 FTW!
  • being wasteful
    • We did really well on this one, helped in part by relocating to Hastings in May. There is nothing like moving house to place perspective on how much junk you’ve amassed. Reducing our belongings down to the things we need was very therapeutic. Be assured, we sold, donated or recycled everything that we could.
  • spending time on ‘urgent but unimportant’ tasks
    • Having changed school and role in May, it was difficult to exercise control over this at times. However, as VP, I do have the capacity to decide what to work on and how to approach it which has helped. I plan to continue to work on this as I continue to grow into my new role in 2020.

More

  • listening to others well
    • I feel that I got better at this as the year progressed. I have always been a good listener at work, having headed some prudent advice from the first Principal that I worked with. But, I definitely needed to be better in personal and social contexts. I feel that I was able to listen well and also learned to better judge when to respond and when not to; although I can definitely improve on this further and will feature in next year’s list.
  • running
    • I knocked this one out of the park; setting new goals run after run. I ran further than I have ever done before and continually improved my personal best times for 5K and 10K. 🚀🥇🏆
  • strengthening my core and gluteus muscles
    • This was going very well up until the move to Hastings in May. Access to a gym at my previous school made this very easy to fit in to my weekly fitness routine. With no gym at my new school, I struggled after the move. However, I have begun to incorporate core exercises and mobility work into my warm down after each run.
  • writing
    • This was was also going really well, even after the move in May. However, from the start of the new term in September I have struggled. Must do better in 2020.
  • random acts of kindness
    • Managed at least one per week. 🧘‍♂️
  • buying/eating local foods
    • This one was strengthened by the move Hastings. We were pushed out of our Waitrose comfort zone and have had to adapt to buying our food from a range of different sources, including the local grocers, deli and bakery.
  • reusing and recycling
    • I did as well with this as ever and there was significant shame in downsizing for the move. The realisation of how much surplus stuff we had amassed over 15 years of marriage was revelatory. However, as noted above we made a significant effort to ensure that very little was thrown away. ♻️
  • being selective about the projects/opportunities I say yes to
    • In the comfort of my previous role I was in a good place with this and I feel that I have done a fairly good job since the move. However, the role is evolving so I must continue to focus on way to exercise control over this.
  • improving/optimising my organisational systems
    • I had all the right intentions with this one and I have continued with OmniFocus. However, I have found myself wondering if I really need such a complex app? Too often I find myself working from a simple list; perhaps this is all I need as it appears to be my default. The only caveat I would add is that sometimes this happens due to a lack of effort on the organisation/planning side of things.
  • learning how to solve cryptic crosswords
    • This lasted all of two weeks! However, I did add the Guardian Weekend crossword to the Quick and Speedy ones and my streak went uninterrupted; that’s 417 crosswords for the year. ✍️
  • sitting/lying still and listening to albums from start to finish
    • I did not do as much of this as I would have liked but it did happen every now and again which was very enjoyable. It will remain on next year’s list and has also inspired another goal for next year.
  • visiting galleries and museums
    • This started well but due to relocating we have had little time to get back into the city. We have lots of plans for next year, though.

None

  • looking at my mobile phone when people are talking to me
    • Again, this remains a struggle. Next year, I am going to take to putting my phone in another room when I get home from work. It scares me; the hold that this device has over me. 😟
  • spending money on unnecessary things
    • We were much more frugal this year. As previously mentioned, the move brought to light just how much unnecessary things we had purchased over the years. We made a significant effort to downsize and not replace things if they were not needed.
  • finishing a workout or run and not stretching properly
    • I added a roller and some mobility exercises into my cool-down and recovery routines. As such, I had my most injury free year of running. Alongside reading Runner’s World, this YouTube channel helped a lot.