Working Toward Winter Happiness: Week Three

I’ve now been taking my friends’ advice about how to enjoy winter for three weeks now, setting goals and tracking my performance against them along with my overall mood. Let’s see how I did this week:

Objectives One and Two – Get outdoors and Dress Warmly:

This was almost a perfect week. Every day except yesterday I got outside. I went to the office a couple of days, and got outdoors for exercise. Last night, I tried to work out timing to watch some of our candidates’ forum for the municipal election, and make dinner along with exercise. In the end I was able to watch some of the forum and make dinner. Otherwise I came up short.

Dressing warmly is a bit tricky this time of year. Take Wednesday, for example. In the morning when I left for work it was 6 degrees. In the afternoon it was 20. In the past I would’ve gone out without a jacket in the morning, felt crabby and then worn one on the way home. This week on days like that I dressed warmly enough every single day so that I was never bothered.

Score: Objective 1: 6/7 days = 86%, Objective 2: 100%

Objective Three: Resume Running:

First the bad news: I intended to go out last night but in the end that fell through the cracks. Normally I’d make it up today but I just gave blood so I’m going to wait until tomorrow.

Sunday was the first run of a new week which meant I increased my running duration and decreased the walking duration. It was surprisingly great and I did well. The weather was a bit chilly but just like last time I warmed up the minute I started moving. And the views continued to be delightful.

The next run for the week I was feeling like I wanted to do a run on the sidewalk. This was especially exciting for me as my speed got quite a bit higher during the running segments. If I can keep that pace up for a full 5K I could have a personal best coming in my next race. As you can see I was quite a bit faster and ran much farther using the same targets.

This route takes me southwest toward downtown

Objective 3: 2/3 days running = 67% 

Objective 4: Cycling:

This one was a great success. Monday was Thanksgiving here in Canada so I had an extra day off. I really didn’t want to go. Nothing sounded fun and I couldn’t think of anywhere I want to go. Eventually I pushed myself out the door and as you can see from the video below, I found a pretty great place to go:

Sage knows me so well that whenever I say there’s nowhere to go and I don’t want to ride, she reminds me that I have literally never regretted pushing through the “I don’t wannas” and always have a great time. And it’s true.

Thursday night I didn’t want to ride outside but that didn’t stop me from riding inside (I went out later to run errands as a reason to get outdoors to check off that task). So instead I hopped on Zwift and rode for 30 minutes. Since the last time around they added a new feature: “ghost” versions of yourself riding at sprint segments so that you can try to keep up with your past self. Very fun. I beat my previous 3 months’ self by quite a lot but when I tried to top that again in the same session I couldn’t manage it. Still a good workout and I can see those ghosts motivating me in the future as I’m a huge fan of competing with myself if you hadn’t already guessed.

Just after my first sprint attempt

Objective 4: 2/2 days cycling = 100%

Objective 5: Get a good sleep:

This is a new metric for this week: Specifically In bed by 10:15 – with a metric of hours of sleep. Target is a minimum of 6.5.

This week’s performance was a mess! I did terribly at getting to bed before 10:15. I only managed this three times out of seven. The same is true for getting enough sleep. I did average 6.58 hours of sleep thanks to a couple of good nights but last night was especially bad with less than five. Interestingly enough, this is more due to waking up at between 2-3 AM. I notice that if my digestion isn’t good (indigestion or hunger), it becomes difficult to quiet my mind. In years past that meant anxiety but now I’m understanding it better and see the mind/body connection. As a result the anxiety goes away but brain activity doesn’t quiet down. This means that my brain does helpful little things like reminding me what might need to go on the grocery list or that I have a meeting at 10:00 AM the next Thursday. No urgency but also no quieting down. A quick snack and a little reading or quiet TV (House of Games fits this bill well) and I’m back to sleep. It’s a little annoying though.

So next week getting a better handle on eating things for dinner that sit well in my stomach will be key.

Objective 5: 3/7 days with 6.5 hours or more sleep – 43%

Objective 6: Eating Properly

I know I just mentioned that I was eating poorly in the previous paragraph but it’s really only last night that that was fully evident. I ate a normal bowl of dal chawal with salad on the side and was still quite hungry. So I waited a while and had another. I think that was a mistake.

So for this one I think I need to pay more attention to what I eat for dinner but also do a bit better.

Objective 6: 6/7 days eating properly via self assessment – 86%

Objective 7: Learning

Moving forward on this. Setting up some yoga classes for myself on Saturdays and maybe some other ones as well. Online Hindi improv drop-in coming up in December (and you’re invited!)

So what is the score this week?

Objective One: 86% = 14.33 Points
Objective Two: 100% = 16.67 Points
Objective Three: 67% = 11.17 Points
Objective Four: 100% = 16.67 Points
Objective Five: 43% = 7.17 Points
Objective Six: 86% = 14.33 Points
Total: 80.33% – 7.2% lower than last week (If you use only last week’s metrics, though it would’ve been 88.25% – a little better)

Mood Rating: 76.1% – 2.2% higher than last week (Averaging my mood rating (rated daily on a scale of 1-10))

One thing that is happening for sure with this effort, is that I’m more mindful of what I’m doing and being more intentional. I’m also seeing where I have blind spots. Sage will be completely unsurprised to see that, for example, I realized that my time management still has room for improvement. This is a result of a couple things. One is that I need to be better about both putting things into my calendar like the candidates’ forum and my blood donations so that I am not surprised and deciding at the last minute I can’t manage. The other huge thing that I hate to put on paper because once I say it I really will need to do something about it – because who can acknowledge a problem and then choose to both dislike its consequences and do nothing about it. My problem is poor management of unstructured time.

What does this mean? Well, I’m relatively good at managing structured time. My work calendar is always up to date and I’m rarely surprised by that. My work to-do list and task management are a solid B+ grade system. Room for improvement but still good.

But once I get to my time after work (or early morning before work) it gets hazy. I wave my have a nebulous idea of what I need to do “Um…I guess a run, and make dinner? Oh, right and shower after a run.” But I also have a tendency to end my work day, turn off the work computer, turn on my own computer and dive in with no defined plan. Browse stuff, watch stuff, write stuff, post on social media. No timer, no plan for when I’ll get back to tasks. Just “Eventually” and then I’m often caught surprised and mad at the clock (not me!) that I can’t fit everything in I wanted.

Week Four Task One: Just as I always start my work day with a few minutes to figure out priorities and tasks and fit it in alongside my meetings, I need to do the same for after work: At the end of the day before doing anything fun I plan what needs to happen and set a timer for any fun stuff. So I might have 20 minutes to check email and then I need to get out on my bike.

My mornings are equally unstructured, usually starting at 5:15 AM with meditation then checking email, browsing the web, reading a book and cuddling a cat for an undetermined amount of time. That needs to be reigned in. So now shower, and getting ready will be immediate after that. No sitting for an undetermined amount of time.

Week Four Task Two: So I’m reading “The Productivity Project: Accomplishing More by Managing Your Time, Attention, and Energy” by Chris Bailey (thanks Daegan for sharing this one). This is a tremendously inspiring book with great ideas on every page many of which I’ve already put into practice. But one thing he is talking about in the part I’m reading now is the need for time to daydream – or rather to not be in front of a screen. That this time is when ideas come to you. For example, this is why many of us have great ideas in the shower. Our brains aren’t reading something, watching something or working in a structured way (e.g. studying, planning, analyzing). So I’m going to make time for this as well – reducing my screen time.

This will start with bringing back my old habit of having no screens until after the sun comes up. These days this can mean 1-2 hours less screen time every day.

It’s going to be a busy week so it could get interesting. Check back next week for more updates!

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