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.

Fantastic run this morning. The air was fresh and crisp and I kept a consistent pace throughout. Not my quickest time but not far off my average:

10.03 km – 56:40 min – 5’38” pace

My current goal (after reading Footnotes) is to run without music.

Today, I ran the first five kilometres with music at half my normal volume; and the second five kilometres with it at less than a quarter of my normal volume. No impact on my pace and I was even more aware of the world around me…

Less, More and None (2019)

As promised, here are my (Less, More and None) priorities for 2019…

Less

  1. eating out
  2. being wasteful
  3. spending time on ‘urgent but unimportant’ tasks

More

  1. listening to others well
  2. running
  3. strengthening my core and gluteus muscles
  4. writing
  5. random acts of kindness
  6. buying/eating local foods
  7. reusing and recycling
  8. being selective about the projects/opportunities I say yes to
  9. improving/optimising my organisational systems1
  10. learning how to solve cryptic crosswords
  11. sitting/lying still and listening to albums from start to finish
  12. visiting galleries and museums

None

  1. looking at my mobile phone when people are talking to me
  2. spending money on unnecessary things
  3. finishing a workout or run and not stretching properly

  1. but, not to the detriment of ‘getting things done’.  ↩

Less, More and None (2018)

I can’t remember who originally drew my attention to the idea of Less, More, and None on educator Jacoby Young’s website, but the notion of prioritising your life around these three determiners appealed to me.

Unlike Jacoby, I did not publish my list publicly. However, I did write it down and I returned to it regularly to give some focus and attention to aspects of my life that I felt could be improved. I found it to be fruitful and rewarding. So much so, I have decided to share my 2018 list with a reflective commentary about how I got on.

Less

  1. social media (Twitter, Instagram)
  2. bringing work home
  3. procrastinating

I was very successful with number one. Twitter has been relegated to a liminal space that is fed updates from my blog. This happens automatically using IFTTT so I never have to actually visit Twitter or log in. I have also removed Tweetbot from my iPhone and MacBook. I narrowed my Instagram use to specific accounts related to running and fitness. I am not posting anything; it is simply an ‘inspiration’ tool when I feel I need it.

Items two and three were work related and I did well with both of them. I have not really brought work home at all this year and I have been far more productive at work. Doubling down on my use of OmniFocus was significant in ensuring that my daily routines and projects were well thought through and planned out. Moreover, the updated ‘Forecast’ view in OF3 had a huge impact on helping me manage my work. The updated perspective allows you to interleave your ‘tasks’ in with your ‘calendar’. This helped me plot out my day better and ensure that things got finished rather than half-done.

More

  1. fitness (gym/running)
  2. eating healthy food
  3. trying new foods and recipes
  4. spending time with my wife
  5. travel
  6. listening to others well

I also did well in relation to the things that I wanted to do more of. As I have written about a lot recently, I lost a significant amount of weight and also became addicted to running. I go to the gym three to four times per week and run on weekends. This was supported by an excellent weekly menu. Jennifer and I worked really hard to build more vegetarian meals into our diets, including lots of beans and pulses. We have tried a new recipe every week and it has been a wonderful culinary journey that we plan to continue next year. I now walk to work in the morning (yes, even in the cold and pouring rain) as well as home from work. Jennifer has been walking with me and then she runs home. We live in a pretty area so this has been lovely and it has also helped ensure that Jennifer and I get to spend as much time together as possible.

In terms of item five, I will give myself a bye. Jennifer and I have been reviewing our priorities and travel got pushed down the list a bit. That said, we did visit Copenhagen again (our eighth trip to Denmark in four years) in the summer. 👫❤️🇩🇰

In terms of item six, I’ll give myself a C grade. I have done better, particularly when my phone was not in my hand… see item one in my ‘none’ list. However, I could still be much better at this and will add it into my ‘more’ list for 2019.

None

  1. looking at my mobile phone when people are talking to me

I did not do well with this. I am going to carry this over to next year’s ‘none’ list and really try hard to put my phone away when people start speaking to me.

Overall, I really valued the impact this had on my life over the course of 2018. By making some intentional decisions about what I wanted to do ‘less, more and none’ of at the start of the year, I focussed more on the things that matter and also achieved a level of personal growth that has been missing over the previous few years.

One of the unforeseen benefits, particularly in terms of items 2 and 3 in my ‘less’ list, was that I had a much better year in terms of reading for pleasure. Also, I completed The Guardian crossword everyday… the Quick crossword on weekdays and Saturdays; the Speedy crossword on Sundays.

I have already noted down some ideas for 2019:

  • Re-engaging with my blog since August has been very satisfying therefore a goal to write more regularly seems appropriate.
  • At work, I want to spend less time on ‘urgent but unimportant’ tasks.
  • And, I want to get even more out of my running – finding opportunities to run in interesting places and over longer distances.

Once I have a complete list I will post it here on my blog.