Meanwhile in the Land of Getting Things Done

I’m struggling a little bit lately as my recent writing dry spell likely has made clear.  I am trying to get lots done and struggling with motivation all at the same time – on a whole bunch of fronts.


I’m trying really hard to ride 60-90 minutes in a day 5-6 days a week. It not only is good for my body, it’s great for my mind. I’m always in a fantastic mood after intense exercise. I’m managing this about 60% of where I want to be. I start with good intentions, setting an alarm for 5:00 AM and intending to get moving after a quick coffee. One morning I was able to do this, another morning I had been out late (don’t laugh, I was out until 10PM – that’s late for me!) and decided to sleep late to get a good 7 hours in. Less than that generally results in my being in a bad mood and/or less than productive that day. The next day I did wake up at 5 and then instead of exercising, decided to watch television with Sage. Today I managed to get a good and very challenging 100 minute workout in.


I struggle with this one. My vocabulary is small and grows so slowly. I write a few emails here and there, say a sentence or two on a work call and try to use it a bit in my neighbourhood. But the result is that my vocabulary is really good in things I can do a lot – like ordering food and a bit of small talk at a restaurant. But go beyond that and it’s sometimes hard. And my speaking is also challenging because while I might know a word, it may take me 5-10 seconds to remember it. By then the person listening to me has already switched to English. Classes are OK, but as my teacher ages (he’s as close to 100 as I am to 50) the classes are becoming a bit less effective with hearing issues adding a new twist to the practice.  In our conversation practice yesterday we talked a bit about Navratri which got him on the subject of the various Devis (Navritri, he said, was related to Durga). He then named the 4 Devis and I asked “Kali kaun hai?” – Who is Kali. He started talking about the kitchen and I wasn’t sure what was going on.  Then he said “Thaali?”(plate) – ahh – that’s where the kitchen came from. We shouted Kali and Thali back and forth at each other laughing as we did. Then I got an idea.  I grabbed my pen and wrote:


“OOOOHHHHH! Kali!” he laughed. “I thought you said THALI”.

“Nahin ji. Kyaa aap bhooka hain?” (No, are you hungry?)

And then went on to explain who Kali was. As best you can in only a few minutes

It’s lovely to spend time with him as he’s become not only a teacher but a friend (a friend who can beat me nearly every time at Seep) but I think I need to supplement it with something else. More frequent emails to more people, maybe voice chat, or finding someone local to talk with more often.

And I think I also need to be more disciplined – finding a way to practice that works for me. And finding one that helps words “stick” better. As I’ve said before, having strong memories to go with when I learned a word helps a lot. I’ll never forget all of the profanity I learned in every language because there is nothing like bringing out the mischief of little kids like a bunch of coworkers teaching each other to swear in their languages.

Tasks / Work:

A few days ago I went to Sage’s office to see how she was doing on her writing – she’d complained about a lack of motivation for it. When I came in she was cutting small coloured paper squares out in preparation for gluing them on to a task list she’d created. Until I asked her about it she thought she was doing something productive. And in some ways it was. But it wasn’t the most productive use of time. I have been challenged by the same problem – trying to rework a task management system rather than managing tasks, if you know what I mean.


I’ve always loved cooking new and interesting things but I’ve fallen in to a rut. Now it’s a relatively healthy and delicious rut filled with various Thai, Indian, and Chinese dishes along with a perennial favourite for us: homemade refried bean burritos. But I know I can do better than that and always enjoy when I do. But that takes planning and then action – Recipe review, list making, trips to the grocery store and of course making dinner. Finding time for which is sometimes challenging with all of the things above.

What to do?

This weekend I’m going to do a few things. First off, I need to look at how much time it will take to get all the things done I wish I were regularly doing and make sure that’s happy. It may be totally unreasonable to exercise 8-10 hrs/week, make dinner every night, shop for it as needed, study Hindi more, write here, and still go off on weekend jaunts to new libraries. Something may have to go.  Or perhaps I will see that it is totally do-able but that time spent just vegging out in front of television shows or the Internet is less of an option. And then I’ll have to make some decisions.

I actually am going to rework that task management system if only to get reminders working well. Then I’ll add a bunch of items to the to-do list that need to be done along with their priorities. No more working on Quadrant 2 stuff. (Wait, you don’t know about the Eisenhower Matrix? Oh man, you must read this article about procrastination immediately. Don’t worry – it’s fun and you will likely see yourself in it).

And there’s yet another lifehack Sage and I have added to our list of productivity tricks up our sleeve. (I talked about many of them here). As you know, to keep ourselves to a strict budget we allow ourselves to spend $15/week each on non-essentials (food or coffee out, etc). BUT we get to supplement that with “pay” for various household chores. For example, if I walk to the grocery store and pick things up I get $2 added to my allowance. Load/unload the dishwasher and I get $0.35, cook dinner and I get $3, and so on.  But now, that “base salary” is earned in the previous week. So starting Monday we’ll be sitting down in the morning and identifying 3 important things each of us wants to do. If we get them done we get $1 each toward that $15. If we don’t, that dollar goes to the other person.

Fingers crossed I’ll be able to report back with a positive update soon.  Meanwhile, what are your productivity tricks? How do you do everything you intend to?

2 thoughts on “Meanwhile in the Land of Getting Things Done

  1. Sounds like you’re doing well! I’m having a hard time learning Spanish here so I feel you on learning a new language. Cooking rut – I usually look through the Allrecipes app to find something new to try. Good luck!

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