May Goals Update & June 2019 Goals : The Year of 1% Better

goals, Harry Potter, motherhood, postpartum fitness, reading, running

If you’re new here, I declared 2019 the Year of 1% Better. Here’s a list of all previous goal posts.

January: Goals | Outcomes

February: Goals | Outcomes

March: Goals | Outcomes

April : Goals | Outcomes

May : Goals 

Henry is taking a nap, so I thought I would try to get in a quick post. Most of my May goals were about wrapping things up. I wanted to work on consistent academic writing/editing and getting my class notes scanned. I was more successful on the former than I was on the latter. By the end of the month, I was so uncomfortable the last thing I wanted to do was stand by a scanner and scan. I suspect that boxes of notes will be traveling with us to Texas.

Nor did I finish re-reading Harry Potter, but I will probably have the seventh book done by the end of this month of early July. I came close, but I think I became distracted by other reading. Plus, it has been nice reading Harry while Henry naps or I pump. As usual, I’ll be kind of sad when I finish the seventh book — having lived in the books again the past couple of months. 

As for June — well, I’m not sure you can blame me for not really having any goals on the to do list. I think being a mother makes me more than 1% better. I think focusing on Henry and figuring out a baby has been goals enough! That said, I did start walking a mile a day this week — which was the big postpartum goal I planned before I start running again. I look forward to having more focused plans and goals come July!

What were your June goals?

 

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What I’m Loving Lately VI

books, daily life, food, music, pregnancy, reading

Contains Amazon affiliate links. 

It has been awhile since I have written one of these — not since January. I woke up around three this morning, not feeling well. I fell back asleep at five, but for the most part feel kind of groggy today. This is 38 weeks of pregnancy! Very glamorous.

Watching : Like nearly everyone else on this planet, I finished watching the final season of Game of Thrones the other day. That said, I’m not sure I can include it in things that I love. I liked the endings for everyone, but I thought it needed more time, more development to get to those endings. I’ve also been watching Chernobyl on HBO and it is terrifying and excellent. I feel so stressed out when I watch it, but it is so well-done I cannot stop watching. Bruno says there is a podcast that goes with it, but I have not listened yet. Other than that — I’ve been trying to watch how much television we watch. I’m tired of feeling like my evenings go to scanning through netflix, hbo, prime to find something to watch before bed. I’m not anti-tv. I love it, but I like to be a little bit more deliberative about what I’m watching.

Listening : My big post-dissertation gift to myself was a turn table. We bought an Audio-Technica. After it arrived, we went to our local record store and I bought Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin. For awhile it has been our only record, so I think baby will be a big Led Zeppelin fan. This last month, however, we bought Greta Van Fleet’s From the Fires, so we are expanding. I have no idea what I am doing when it comes to starting and maintaining a record collection, so I feel like such a newb. I will say this: there is a great pleasure to listening to something on analog. I like having to get up and turn the record to the other side. Plus, with headphones on all the time, Bruno and I do not get to share the music we are listening to, it seems much more communal now. I like that.

Reading : Plenty. I’ll share my May reads later, but I’m also trying to make it through some books in preparation for teaching in the fall. I am reading Paul Johnson’s A History of the American People. I did read a new history textbook the other week. I won’t share the name, because I’m not quite sure it is out yet, but I did not particularly care for it. I’ve been reading Introduction to the Devout Life by Francis de Sales in the morning and I love it. And of course — I’m still making my way through re-reading Harry Potter. I’m finally on Half-Blood Prince, so we’ll see if I get through all seven before baby arrives.

Eating : Probably too much. We bought Cook Once, Eat All Week to see if it would help save time and money. I think initially it cost quite a bit — all those different oils, spices, you know. But I think it will end up paying for itself. I spend all Sunday afternoon getting the components of the meals together and I love that it is step-by-step and I don’t have to think about it too much. We’ve been following it for three weeks and have been pretty happy about it. We had some bbq meatloafs with carrot fries which were delicious. Other than that — I am loving ice cream, lots and lots of ice cream.

What are you loving lately?

April 2019 Goals : How Did It Go?

crossfit, goals, Harry Potter, reading, year of 1% better

If you’re new here, I declared 2019 the Year of 1% Better. Here’s a list of all previous goal posts.

January: Goals | Outcomes

February: Goals | Outcomes

March: Goals | Outcomes

April : Goals

I cannot believe April is over already. This is the first month where I mostly accomplished everything I wanted. Plus, I feel almost fully recovered from finishing up my dissertation. I think I finally actually relaxed and if you couldn’t tell from yesterday’s post, did plenty of reading.

I managed to be fairly consistent in non-dissertation writing — both on the blog, but also in my goal to keep a notebook a la Natalie Goldberg-style. I found an old one-subject seventy sheet notebook, figuring there was no need for anything special. After my usual morning routine, before I write the day’s blog post, I set the timer at ten minutes and write. I was not able to finish a notebook this way, but I was able to get some thoughts down. I think I only missed a handful of days, so I was pretty happy with the success of this goal. I’m planning on continuing it into May.

Not only did I manage to do a great deal of downsizing in the kitchen, but we have around five or six boxes of books ready to donate in the dining room. The house is looking a little more chaotic with all these to-go boxes lying around, but it is great to know that as we get closer to moving (another two and a half months — but at least a month and a half of that will feature a new baby) things will be done. The last time we moved — only a few blocks away, not cross-country — it felt like nothing was done, nothing was organized. I really do not want that to happen this time around with an infant and further to travel.

On average I ended up doing more than 2x CrossFit every week. I typically managed around three times a week, even PRing a few times. Not bad for a woman in her eighth month of pregnancy, I think! I’m hoping this is a sign of things to come for May. I may have to take it easy, but it is nice to keep showing up. I rowed almost every week and managed to finally get some walking in last week. Consistency, man.

My social media use is better, but still not what I would like it to be. I suppose this is going to be a goal I’ll keep renewing in the months (really weeks and days) to come. Some days are better than others. Some days I hardly think about it. Then the next day I find myself in a scrolling frenzy. I think reading more has helped — I reward tasks with another chapter of Harry Potter as opposed to checking instagram or facebook. It certainly is much more rewarding.

Overall, I would say things are definitely 1% better this month. I’m happy that I’ve added a new habit, gave myself some peace of mind with moving, and managed to stay consistent with my work-outs.

How did your April goals turn out?

 

 

A Review of River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey

books, reading

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

I’ll admit I feel a little scatterbrained at the moment. This is why they say you should not check your email until after noon! I received some good news – an academic journal accepted one of my dissertation chapters for publication. As this will be my first ever peer review publication (after only two rejections and one revise and resubmit), I am very, very happy – and distracted – but mostly happy. I worked on my revise and resubmit edits after completing my dissertation and I was burnt out on Rousseau while working on them. I actually have not returned to a single word of Rousseau since I resubmitted. I think the break has been good and I’m going to continue on with it, even if I do miss my citizen of Geneva a bit.

Anyway – I recently finished reading The River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey by Candice Millard.  I may be taking a break from Rousseau, but I always seem to end up back in the state of nature. As might be suggested from the title, this book on TR reflects not on his presidential or political career, but on his journey on the Rio da Duvida —  the River of Doubt – which later became known as the Rio Roosevelt. She suggests that this is a response to his defeat as the Progressive Party candidate in 1912 as leader of the Bull Moose Party, but moreover a continuation of the “strenuous life” he had been living ever since he decided as a youth to “make his body” in response to his asthma.

What I know of TR has more to do with his political thought and less to do with his biographic life, but he has been a president who has always intrigued me. Frankly, it is hard to imagine a modern president today (whether a Clinton, Bush, Obama, or Trump) taking a life-threatening journey in uncharted Amazon territory to travel down a seemingly unknowable river. Politics aside, I cannot help but be impressed by TR’s rejection of the comfortable life post-presidency. Millard portrays this side of Roosevelt well. She describes him as not a man without fear, but as a man fear cannot control.

But it is not just TR that Millard portrays with interest. Each of the men portrayed are different characters – from TR’s son Kermit to the Brazilian native protector Rondon. But what is really interesting is the role of the Amazon itself. I don’t love it when nature is personified, but in this case (having spent so much time with Rousseau) it was a nice contrast to the idea of beneficent nature. TR describes this idea as: “The very pathetic myth of ‘beneficent nature,’ could not deceive even the least wise being if he once saw for himself the iron cruelty of life in the tropics.” If the book is a battle for preservation, from the explorers, the natives, the rainforest itself has its own stake in the prize – and it provides many obstacles from candiru, snakes, malaria, insects, piranha to the dearth of anything to eat. In the Amazon, nature is the opposite of generous.

One of the things I also appreciated about the book is that Millard seems set on presenting the story as it happened. Though she does psychologize TR a bit, she does not really create historical villains out of anybody. Rondon – the Brazilian explorer —  is clearly the most humane, insofar as he has his policy of peace never shooting at native Amazons, even out of self-preservation, and later, his creation of the Indian Protection Bureau in Brazil. But in this way, he is the most tragic. His work to create telegraph lines through the Amazon rainforest resulted in the continued destruction of Amazon natives. But Millard never takes the time to attack any of these men for their “backwards” ideas and I appreciated that. I just wanted to know the story, not a confession of their historical sins.

Overall, the book is a quick and easy read. It does not have a lot about TR’s political leanings (although you should know South America and TR are not best buds), but I think it does give several interesting glimpses into his character. I’m not a Progressive, but as I said above, I can’t help but admire TR. He is so different than what we have today. It is hard to imagine us having a president today with such a wide breadth of knowledge, interests, and daring. If ever there was a man willing to be in the arena, he was it, even when that arena was the Amazon rain forest and not in civilization.

A Review of The Art of Frugal Hedonism

books, reading

Contains Amazon affiliate links. 

Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb’s book The Art of Frugal Hedonism: A Guide to Spending Less While Enjoying Everything More is not so much a book of “why” frugal hedonism is best, but one that describes “how” to go about it. It is a quick-read with fifty-one short chapters providing tips for how to incorporate frugal hedonism in your own life. Some chapters are only about a page long. The book is meant to “be [a] primer for a life less dependent on the comforts of consumption, and more focused on extracting maximum pleasure from the most essential parts of being human.”

The Australian writers describe an early taste of simple things that prevented them from ever being too consumption-focused. Both describe early childhoods of that feature parents moving up in lives and how much they missed the original simplicity they were born into. I get it – this is all fine. But I think sometimes Raser-Rowland and Grubb miss the mark as to why someone may “want to move up” in the first place: i.e. security (at times they seem to take for granted that it is only a keeping of the Jones’ mentality – more, more, more). Granted, that is not the main point of their book, but there is a big difference in living the “simple life” because you have to (and what that might even look like) versus because you want to.

Most of their advice is fine but repetitive. They themselves even acknowledge that they tend to repeat the idea of eating a packed lunch instead of ordering take-out. Most of their suggestions are fairly common. For example – they recommend not buying drinks out at restaurants, take care of the things you already own, have an open relationship with recipes, and figure out what you really enjoy spending money on. Other habits such as “relish” were a little too twee for me. It kind of feels like it has been done before, though not with Raser-Rowland and Grubb’s hipster whimsy. Most of the chapters could have used more description, instead of just a quickly expressed idea.

That said, there were a few interesting ideas in the book. For example, suggestion no. 11 “beware fake frugal” is one to keep in mind. They describe fake frugal as “cheap to buy, but at the expense of someone or something else.” Examples they provide are kitchen products you constantly replace (like can openers) or buying white bread instead of the better, healthier wheat bread just because it is cheaper. This is something I always have to remind myself – one-time last year, Bruno and I decided we were spending too much money on groceries, so decided to change out some of our lunches for ramen. I still think ramen is delicious, but it really is not an actual lunch. Lesson learned.

One thing I did appreciate about the book is that Raser-Rowland and Grubb provide plenty of charts and numbers. I never thought I would be the type to appreciate charts and numbers, but it is interesting to see how consumptive habits have changed over the years. In the 1950s 75% of food was made in-home, now it is something like 50% (I was actually surprised that it was still half – I expected it to be lower). Their numbers relate specifically to Australia, but I can’t imagine that it is much different here in the states. When it comes to the history and data around buying habits and happiness, these two know their stuff.

I did really struggle with the style of writing. I suspect this has less to do with the book itself then who I think it might be written for. I made a comment that this is a book with all your usual tips, but with hipster whimsy and that just is not appealing to me. It is a personal preference, but I am not sure that advising me to “relish” or “not be a snooty bum-bum” are things that I find particularly helpful, or cute. I suspect it is a taste thing, but it is not helped by the fact that for the most part there is not much substance there.

I think this book is fine for neophytes on living frugally (that is this concept is completely new to them — although, I’m not sure how many people that would actually be), but for everyone else looking to enjoy life while save some money it will be nothing they’ve never read or heard before. And if you are really frugally-minded, there is nothing in here that you would not be able to find for free on the internet.

 

February/March Reads 2019

books, reading

I wish I could say I followed up my dissertatin with serious tomes and plenty of reading, but not so much. I have been burnt out, so it has actually been hard to focus on books at all. I had quite a few start-and-stops and I hardly ever quit a book I have started. All book links are to Amazon, where I make a small commission.

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

ChamberofSecrets.jpg

I make a point to re-read Harry Potter during the Thanksgiving to New Year season, but I was trying to finish up dissertation work, so Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets did not get finished until post-defense. Ah, it is probably my favorite of the earlier ones. That joke Ron makes after extensively cleaning the trophy for service to the school about it probably being for the person who killed Moaning Myrtle? Priceless.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling

PrisonerofAzkaban.jpg

I have the hard copies of all the Harry Potter books except for Prisoner of Azkaban. I keep meaning to buy it hard-copy, but also keep forgetting.

Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

I wrote a review of this book a few weeks ago. I still highly recommend.

The Power of Meaning by Emily Esfahani Smith


I thought The Power of Meaning: Finding Fulfillment in a World Obsessed with Happiness was just ok. I think the premise is fantastic. We are all hustling for happiness, but what if being happy is not really the point? What if purpose is? That is an idea, a truth really, I can get behind. But everything was else was just sort of ok.

The Grace of Enough by Haley Stewart

In some ways The Grace of Enough: Pursuing Less and Living More in a Throwaway Culture is related to the previous book, but I think it is so much better because it is a look at an individual’s pursuit of purpose in a culture that is constantly screaming more. Moreover, where Esfahani emphasized that purpose can be found in secular life, I think I related to (needed) the Catholic message of this book. I loved it so much, I am reading it again right now. This book was also my #CathoLit2019 read created by the author, Haley Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas.

Current Reads :

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling (of course)

Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration by Benedict XVI

Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

One Beautiful Dream: The Rollicking Tale of Family Chaos, Personal Passions, and Saying Yes to Them Both by Jennifer Fulwiler

The Magician’s Nephew by C. S. Lewis — a quick note on this one. Bruno and I have been reading a chapter or two together out loud in the evenings. We had always wanted to do this, but would be a bit too lofty in our ambitions and pick a big dense classic, but this book seems to work perfectly well for some evening reading after a long day.

What are some of your February and March readings? Anything you particularly liked? Disliked? What are you reading now? I’m always looking for new books to add to my kindle.

March 2019 Goals : The Year of 1% Better

goals, graduate school, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, pregnancy, reading, year of 1% better

We are already almost at the end of March (hello, spring!) and I have yet to post my 1% goals for the month. I have also failed to say how the goals for February went. All you need to know is that everything went by the way-side, but I did submit and successfully defend my dissertation. Still a huge win.

If you’re new here, I declared 2019 the year of 1% better. You can see January goals here and outcomes here and February goals here.

I’ll admit that I began this month kind of unfocused and burnt out. What is the saying they used to say about March weather? It comes in like a lion and leaves like a lamb (where does this actually happen?). I came into March like a slug, a very tired slug. I’m not exactly at “let’s get after it” levels yet. In fact, by the afternoon I am so worn out that I find myself catatonicly sitting on the couch, wishing for ice-cream, trying not to scroll through social media (still a 1% goal).

Part of this I suspect is the post-dissertation “what do I do with myself?” feeling. The other part is pregnancy. I’ve been sleeping terribly. I’m trying to take this time to relax, but as I told Bruno, “I don’t know how!” I also told him, after a few days of traveling, that “the best vacation one can give oneself is a consistent routine.” I am trying to give myself the latter as best I can.

So what am I trying to accomplish for March?

Down-sizing. Baby is actually not the only big change to happen this summer. I’ll share more when it is all official, but we are starting to downsize to prepare to move. I joke that I’m going full Marie Kondo, except I assure you I am not thanking my clothes as I put them into trash bags to give to my sisters as hand-me-downs. The two big areas I’m focusing on this month are my closet as I can’t wear most of my clothes right now anyways and several boxes of class notes. Taking advantage of my mental burn-out, I’m spending some quality time at the scanner so I can send boxes of paper to the recycling bin. I suspect the paper overload will take me all the way up to the big day, but it is nice to see the amount dwindle now.

Finish a revise and resubmit for an academic journal article. This is the one goal I can already tell you I am struggling. At this point, it is a monkey on my back I just want to get off. I’m very happy (and grateful) to have received a very positive and helpful revise and resubmit, but I need a Rousseau break. If I can be done with this, no Rousseau for April. Those are the rules. Also, I still very much love Rousseau.

Relax. I’m trying to take some more time for reading. If I want to take a nap in the afternoon, I do not try to push through. Usually I’ve been calling it a day at around noon before I go to CrossFit. Whatever I have gotten done at that point is good enough. Little steps are fine right now. I am lucky that at this point, I can take the time to just do nothing if I need to. I’m not sure how to enjoy doing nothing, but that is a problem for another time.

And that is it! There are a few repeats from previous months. I’m still working through my #CathLit2019 books and trying to avoid social media during the week. Both need a bit of revitalization, so hopefully if I came into March like a slug, I can refocus and leave like a lion? Or pick some sort of fierce, but relaxed animal.

What are your goals for March? How have they been going?

 

A Review of Cal Newport’s Digital Minimalism

books, reading, technology

One of my main goals for this month was to watch my social media time. That is, I would try to restrict my time on facebook and instagram to Saturdays. This has been mostly successful. Saturdays has included Sundays and last week I checked facebook to check up on CrossFit Open information. I’ve been more mindful and quick to click out, so I think it is overall an improvement from mindlessly scrolling.

The inspiration for my social media hiatus is Cal Newport‘s Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World. I have been a follower of Newport ever since I listened to his interview with Ben Domenech on the Federalist Radio Hour the other year. Back then, he was discussing his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. Both are similar in that the nemesis to be thwarted is an attachment to social media, but where Deep Work focused on the harmful effects of social media and the internet on work, Digital Minimalism focuses on their harmful effects in our personal life and ways to overcome our digital addiction. Quick sidenote: All Amazon links are affiliate links, meaning if you buy something I make a percentage. 

And that it is an addiction is a characteristic Newport wants to make clear. I think he describes most lives (including my own) when he writes, “The urge to check Twitter or refresh Reddit becomes a nervous twitch that shatters uninterrupted time into shards too small to support the presence necessary for an intentional life.” This happens to me when I’m trying to read. I have to check facebook. Or before I do any work, I have to check facebook, then instagram, then facebook again, then work. I try really hard not to look at my phone when out to dinner or visiting with friends, but I know I do it all the time when with Bruno or family. Baby C has a few more months to go, but I keep seeing articles pop up on what our constant phone checking is doing to children. I think Newport speaks to something we all know is true, but frankly, kind of feel helpless in what to do about it. The Internet is ubiquitous.

I think that is where this book becomes most useful. If you already know you are struggling with social media and internet use, to the point where you are constantly checking, you do not need to be preached to. But what to do about it is another thing entirely. After discussing what it is about social media that makes it so addicting, Newport presents his alternative (you guessed it): “Digital Minimalism. A philosophy of technology use in which you focus your online time on a small number of carefully selected and optimized activities that strongly support things you value, and then happily miss out on everything else.”

He provides a number of options for “digital minimalism,” but the suggestion I found most intriguing was that of cultivating leisure. Newport’s theory is that we cannot just get rid of the all-encompassing amount of social media in our lives, but we need to replace it with something. We’ve lost the meaning of leisure and have replaced it with facebook likes and instagram videos. And by leisure, he does not mean we should just read more books, but also create things and learn things. His list is fairly male-centric (learn how to do mechanics on the car, for example), but I think anybody could come up with a list of weekend learning projects. That way we have something to actually show for our lives beyond “a photo of your latest visit to a hip restaurant, hoping for likes.”

Another one of his suggestions I particularly appreciated had to do with politics and news coverage. I think news-media addition is its own problem, especially because most people I know who are constantly sharing things on social media probably never, if ever, read from a viewpoint different from their own (not to mention I think everything found in Amusing Ourselves to Death: Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business can apply to sharing news on social media — the medium is the message — but I digress). Newport advises “slow news consumption,” as opposed to our twitter, outrage-addicted news cycle. One of the benefits of slow news consumption is worth quoting at length “if you’re interested in commentary on political and cultural issues, this experience is almost always enhsanced by also seeking out the best arguments against your preferred position. I live in Washington, DC, so I know professional political operatives on both sides of the aisle. A requirement of their job is that they keep up to speed on the best opposing arguments. A side effect of this requirement is that they tend to be much more interesting to chat with about politics. In private, they don’t exhibit the same anxious urge to tilt at straw man versions of opposing viewpoints that’s exhibited by most amateur political commenters, and instead are able to isolate the key underlying issues, or identify the interesting nuances that complicate the matter at hand. I suspect they derive much more pleasure out of consuming political commentary than those who merely seek confirmation that anyone who disagrees is deranged.” What a better world that would be.

I plan on continuing my current facebook/instagram amount into next March (this is more than Newport’s recommended 30 days completely off). I like having my weeks social media free. I think, after reading this book, the next step will be to focus on internet usage as a whole. I find myself far too often down the internet rabbit hole, googling, searching, checking, and window shopping all too often. And for what? I think the best argument Newport gives is how much more you can add to your life when you are not just mindlessly scrolling. You can read. You can listen to music. You can actually focus on the conversation you are having. Life becomes fuller and indeed more intentional when it is not lived with the constant chains of the screen.*

What are your thoughts on digital minimalism? Have you read anything by Cal Newport? Reading anything good now?

*Yes, this is an intentional Rousseau ending. Ain’t no breaking these chains of love.

February 2019 Goals : The Year of 1% Better

books, crossfit, goals, pregnancy, reading, running, year of 1% better

I officially have 364 days left of being in my twenties. Yes, yesterday I turned twenty-nine. I celebrated by taking the day off any dissertation/Rousseau-related/job search work. I read books on the couch, did my first Cindy wod at CrossFit, and Bruno made crab cakes for dinner and homemade brownies for dessert. I was in bed by nine — a great start to my 29th year.

If you’re new here, or if you just need a refresher, I declared 2019 the year of 1% better. You can read January’s goals here and how I did here.

And now we are in the second month. January seemed to go on forever, but we already only have around three weeks of February left. I assume, because it is a big month for, that it will fly by.

Here are the goals/things I want to work on this month:

GET MY PH.D. I defend my dissertation next week Wednesday and give a public lecture on my dissertation research on Thursday evening. I’m not sure if that makes me “officially” a Ph.D. or if I still have to use Ph.D. candidate until I graduate, but one thing is for sure — if all goes well, I will be finished with my requirements for my doctorate. As with last month’s goal to submit my dissertation, this is the most important goal. All else can go to pieces, but this, this is years and years of work about to come to an end.

DIGITAL MINIMALISM. I am reading Cal Newport‘s new book, Digital Minimalism at the moment. I have always had struggles with social media. I’ve never been a Twitter person, but I can find myself sucked down the facebook, instagram, and just web-searching wormhole too frequently than I care to admit. I have failed too often in my battles against the internet, so I’m hoping to use some of the advice from this book to help. For now, the goal is to keep my social media use restricted to Saturdays — so far this has been working. I have not even been on facebook to see my birthday messages. Look ma, no facebook or instagram on my phone!

BIKE 20 MINUTES/WEEK. I know in the grand scheme of things is not very much, but as with running and swimming I am not sure how my hips and pelvis will react to time on the trainer. I’m starting here and if it goes well, next month I will increase. I suspect this also for mental training, because in case you did not know, cycling on a trainer is one of the most boring things you could ever do. It makes running on a treadmill seem like an entertaining time.

WALK (OR RUN) 30 MINUTES 2X WEEK. Like I said, trying to be moderate in my expectations. Some days I feel great, some days I really do not. I would really like to start running again, especially after I defend, but I am just not so sure if it will happen. Walking, at the very least, will get me outside.

PRE-NATAL YOGA 2X WEEK. Jasyoga has a few prenatal videos that I need to be more consistent about cycling through. I am hoping that if I hold myself accountable maybe, just maybe, those ligaments will start to feel better.

CathLIT2019. I am still working through some of the suggestions on Carrots for Michaelmas’s Catholic reading plan. I am currently reading Jesus of Nazareth by Benedict XVI and I love it. The one book a month plan is working out well for me thus far, but we will see what happens when baby gets here.

I think those are goals a-plenty for the month I’m planning on completing my doctoral requirements. What are your goals for February?

 

Best Books for Productivity in 2019

books, reading

A confession: I’m a junkie for time-management books. I love knowing how to order and schedule my day and how other people schedule their days. I think I knew I was going to marry Bruno when he described to me how he plans his daily schedule and to-do lists.* Yeah, we’re the most romantic people you know. One of my favorite parts of Rousseau’s Confessions is when he describes his own day and then the day of the Spanish Altuna who is an 18th century strict-schedule keeper extraordinaire. I admire that guy.

Leaving the 18th century (dissertation on my mind), there are plenty of productivity books I love for today. Some I still go back to for when I need jolt to get things done and quit messing around the Internet. I know people say that you cannot rely on motivation, but sometimes you need that external source. If coffee is liquid ambition, then books on productivity are ambition’s written form.

Here they are the books that usually lead me to close out of facebook, pull up Microsoft Word and get going.

168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think by Laura Vanderkam. Just listing this book makes me want to go back and re-read it. It is also one of the biggest reasons I get mildly irritated when people say “I don’t have time to do x.” You do. It just is not a priority. I like her practical suggestions like keeping a time-diary, but the best part of the book I think are the inspiring and motivating life examples. People are able to do so much more than they think they can.

Deep Work: Rules for Success in a Distracted World by Cal Newport.  If you get any book to improve your productivity (and general life happiness), it should be this one. We (I) waste so much time messing around on the internet. Still. This book is a swift kick in the you know where. I especially like the idea that deep work is a muscle to be developed. You cannot just sit down and work for a focused eight hours a day. You have to practice, start small.

Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones by James Clear. Speaking of starting small, I loved this book on habit building. It gives very specific advice on how to develop small habits that eventually develop into a better life. I’ve written about this book already on my Year of 1% Goals, but I still cannot help but recommend it.

Air & Light & Time & Space : How Successful Academics Write by Helen Sword.  This book helped me out when I was in a dissertation writing rut. Chapter one was fine, chapter two was fine, and then I just sort of felt overwhelmed by the whole process. I like seeing how creatives do their work, but it also did not really apply to me. This was research and writing. I recommend this book to anyone starting a dissertation.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote for Chaos by Jordan Peterson. If your life is not in order, you cannot get work done. Fact. I think one of the more troubling things presented to any sort of life is ideal of the suffering, starving, drunken, debauched artist. It simply is not always true. Hell, even Ernest Hemingway once wrote a letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald telling him to knock it off with his nonsense so he could write. It is like that wonderful Gustav Flaubert quote, “Be regular and orderly in your life like a bourgeois, so that you may be violent and original in your work.”

What are your favorite books that help you to get things done? What are you reading now?

*I’m kidding. Sort of. Life compatibility, you know?