For January, I set the goal of implementing the PACT I created as part of the Mindful Productivity Masterclass in Ness Labs. The PACT had one must, one should, and two won’ts.
Regarding my must, I diligently put the two Pomodoro sessions toward a non-client project almost daily. I missed some days but made up for it by working more on it on other days. So I call this a success. One caveat with this goal: I find it hard to switch off again when working on my stuff. In other words, it takes more mental space than time on the calendar, which reduces my overall productivity. An alternative is to schedule the work on certain days, but I like the approach of showing up every day, so I’ll stick with it and monitor it for a while.
Regarding my should, I have probably only made a daily plan for one day. Whenever I want to make a plan, I procrastinate until I give up and start with something on my list without making a definitive decision. I could decide to give up planning and go with the flow, but I’m afraid I will eventually forget essential or urgent tasks if I don’t plan. So I should continue trying.
My first won’t was to avoid wasting time with research and reading articles unrelated to my work. I’ve been successful and read very little in January. I still save some tweets for later but mostly short-form stuff where I want to engage in conversation. Deleting those without replying because I don’t know what to write still feels like a failure, but I’m improving.
The second won’t was to avoid using social media when tired or an hour before bedtime. It is my least successful goal from the PACT, while it’s the most important. “Doom-scrolling” on Twitter or Instagram is often a waste of time and overstimulation that negatively affects mental health. Thanks to the bookmark features, it also adds things to my to-do list to engage later, as mentioned above.
Besides the PACT, the mindful productivity map includes an anchor ritual and metacognition practices. My anchor ritual is walking outside, which I do regularly. I still need to add the mindful observation practice I wanted to establish more often. I’ve tried counting the squirrels in the park that I’ve mostly ignored, while my friends who walk in the same park always mentioned them. Most of the time, I still return to my desk without a number or another observation.
As a metacognition practice, I wanted to write an interstitial journal and review my weeks with the plus-minus-next method. I’ve kept my journal, although I could write in it more. I haven’t done the plus-minus-next review in January. I didn’t find or take the time on weekends. Monday mornings, I felt so overwhelmed with the new week’s work that I postponed it until it no longer made sense.
Rituals and metacognition practices take some time out of your schedule. However, the idea behind them is that they will improve the quality of the remainder by giving you more clarity. I fully believe that, and still, I find it hard to make time for them.
For February, I’m not planning any changes to my PACT. As the must part is already working, I can double down on the other goals and the metacognition practices. I need to figure out how to make time for them. However, it’s not the lack of time but the fact that introspection can be difficult and scary because you see how different you are from the person you want to be. It is the same reason why I also fail with my should goal of daily planning because it gives you a realistic insight into the amount of work you get done without idealistic assumptions.
However, time is also a problem related to the failing won’t goal. Using social media and digital devices late at night affects my sleep schedule, which makes it harder to get up in the morning, especially on weekends. As a result, my days start feeling rushed instead of having the head-start of an early riser.
As you see, everything is connected, but I need to start somewhere. So I want to focus on the failing won’t goal. I should have a proper evening ritual to wind down the day without too much stimulation instead of ending the day glued to a screen and regretting it the next morning. That will be my focus for February.
There were a few highlights in January. I gave a talk about APIs at a local tech event. I hosted a virtual werewolf game for the Interintellect and participated in several virtual meetups and salons. Also, I met a new person from Twitter for a Zoom call. The most noteworthy thing, however, is that I have finalized a plan I’ve carried with me for quite some time: I booked another trip to India with a stopover in the UAE and am excited about it. Thinking about the itinerary, researching options, and talking to people took some time and distracted me a few times from other things, but I’m sure it’s worth it. I will tell you the details of the journey in another post. As I’m leaving in late February and returning in late March, I will write the February review post from a different continent.
That will conclude my first monthly review post for 2023.