30 Day Challenges

I got this idea from Matt Cutts of Google. Committing to something different for 30 days each month (or every other month or whatever). I was thinking about doing this for quite a while.

During Lent this year, I gave up junk food, which I narrowed down to the 4 c’s (cake, candy, chips, cookies). That was sort of a 30 day challenge of itself (40+ days actually). I only messed up once completely accidentally and mindlessly during Church coffee hour. I picked up a brownie and took a bite, then realized it and threw the rest away. Besides being the annoying one who turns down cake at birthday parties, it was relatively easy for me. I don’t eat much of it to begin with.

The 30 day challenge doesn’t need to be a sacrifice however. Rather motivation to try new things.

So the new month begins and so does my first 30 day challenge. This is something I put off for over a year and a half. It is stream-of-consciousness writing. The one recommendation I’m going to ignore is to do it in writing. Rather, I’m going to type them keep them in a Google Docs folder. I’m going to isolate myself from distractions first and commit a half hour to each.

Lets see how this goes…

Speaking of finishing…

This is sort-of follow up to my last post about this summer being about finishing projects, getting ideas off the ground, etc. Already I feel better. In the GTD sense, I think I’ve mastered the day to day, week to week, month to month, things that have to get done. What was seeming to escape me was the someday/maybe/not-so-urgent items. Especially the ones staring me in the face everyday. A lot of them are household projects. In a few focused and dedicated hours on Sunday, I got a lot accomplished. I was sort of under the gun since I had a party to go to later in the day. I think if I focus and remain disciplined, I can find a few hours each weekend to continue on my goal to FINISH. It feels good to finally cross off some things on the long list. It builds a momentum.

Even at work, some career wishlist items are being crossed off. Just yesterday we launched our first multivariate test that we’re managing in-house. I have this undying fascination on learning to do things myself. Career wise, it’s hard to tell if that’s a good thing or bad thing. I don’t think everyone “at the top” needs to know the itty-bitty details on how a MVT test works technically. But I seem to in order to be comfortable. Well that’s off my list. This is in addition to what I’ve mentioned before in one of my past “what I’ve been working on” posts. This stuff if kinda related to finishing as most have been on a career todo of sorts.

Summer 2010 is going to be about finishing

For someone who’s keenly interested in personal productivity, I have a ton of half finished personal projects, house projects, ideas, etc. They have started to creep into my psyche.

Now, using the GTD system, at least they are all tracked. Too bad they’ve all been on a quasi “someday-maybe” list.

Looking at all the “unfulfilled commitments” at once seems intimidating. But each one isn’t too bad. I just have to focus focus focus and chop away.

There are some barriers causing resistance. For example at lot of the home projects require me to purchase large materials (e.g. doors) that don’t fit into my car. Man I miss the old SUV. So I’m going to find alternatives, like buying every single thing I need, then renting a truck from Home Depot or Lowe’s to get the stuff home.

I’ve already started one thing. Finish some half read books. I was reading like a madman when I used to commute into NYC each day. Usually getting through 2 books a week. On a recent weekend trip, we were without TV or high-speed internet. OH NO! I had to get to the bookstore to get a book as I didn’t know what to do at night–since I go to bed much later than my wife. Though the book was somewhat of a dud, it sparked my interest in reading more. I’m now well on my way to finally finishing A Thousand Splendid Suns, then The Richest Man in Babylon is next. Followed by a few others I have and wanted to read “someday.”

I never got to my stream-of-consciousness writing project that I wrote about last time. I’ll throw out the “can’t find the time” excuse. Really it’s a can’t seem to focus on it excuse. I might self-impose a no internet policy and shut off my computer and phone at 10pm and use that time for reading and writing.

I also need to start jogging again. I can’t believe my last jog was in November. I’m sure most if not all of my C25K gains have gone away. Oh well. It wasn’t that brutal, and I look forward to getting back in shape (again).

Ok, so here is the official to do (and finish) list for summer 2010:

  • Finish the flower bed in the back yard. Great, I carved out the area, now I need to plant something in the space!
  • Finish my upstairs project, which has been “in-progress” for almost {gulp} 3 years
    • This means put doors on my future upstairs bathroom space, the office, and the laundry room. Then finish the door and baseboard trim. I already successfully put up one door. 🙂 And put shelving in the laundry room. And a iron board hook.
    • Man o man when this is done it’ll give us so much more usable space that the disaster areas they look like now.
  • Paint the back of my living room window’s trim, which is unfinished for {gulp} 3 years! Jeez.
  • Complete the C25K jogging program again.
  • Read books. A book a week???
  • Write in a stream of conscious journal every night.
  • And finally, something that wasn’t started, but I want to get done: a play area for my son in the backyard.

I think with focus and discipline I can get all of this accomplished this summer.

Stream-of-consciousness writing

I’m going to give this a try. I’ve been contemplating for a while to do exercises to sharpen up my writing and communications skills. The idea of a blog is good, but there is always debating of what topics to write about, then finding the time. I read up on stream of conscious writing. I’m going to give it a shot. The recommendations are to do it in writing (not on a computer) and ignore spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. I generally don’t have issues with grammar or punctuation (other than slip of the finger typos), but spelling has always been a challenge for me. I also sometimes have a “slow internal thesaurus” and often spend time trying to think of better words to use in some cases. The recommendations I’ve read is that if you can’t think of a word, you can make one up. I hate my handwriting, so that might be a challenge—or reading back what I wrote may be. I also have to find the right time of day to do this and be disciplined about it. I think I’m in need of a focuses mental exercise like this. A lot of my pet projects are sidetracked by lack of focus and attention. Hopefully this exercise will not only help with writing, but also with instilling some mental discipline. Time to pick up a nice notepad, a nice comfortable well writing pen, and time to get busy.

In case you haven’t noticed, I kinda sorta stream-of-consciousnessed this post.