New Year, New Process
At the start of 2022 I decided to start journaling. I’ve tried both digital and physical approaches in the past, but neither stuck. It might’ve been due to my mindset at the time, but I’ve found the best option for me now is an actual physical notebook. Total shocker I know - using dead trees for my own nefarious purposes. Might be a relic of my school days, but my thought flows better on paper despite 20 years of constant PC use.
In any case it has become a small ritual that I do at the end of every day just before going to bed. A couple of sentences and it’s lights out.
With that said I have no intention of making those notes public, however a public retrospect on a quarterly basis might be fine in a digital format. So I’m giving this a try and we’ll see how it goes.
I’ll write mainly about my approach to trying to do and plan for things. I’ve made some changes to my internal processes since last year and I think that’s what might be valuable for other people. Let’s dive in.
The way I plan and do things can be categorized in a couple of ways which people might find interesting and/or beneficial. I’m not perfect and as I’ve stated before people are not robots. I try to adhere to the plan and habits I have, but life happens and adjustment is needed when obstacles block your path.
At the start of a month I try and formulate a big picture view for it, then I try to set achievable goals or plan for certain processes I’d like to develop in my life. Those things can be:
- New habits I’d like to adopt
- Skills I’d like to learn
- Things that I want to avoid
- Concrete things I’d like to do e.g. finish reading book(s) X etc.
When that is done I do the same for the first week of the month. Sunday night I assess the week’s info (wins and things that haven’t gone as good as they should’ve) and prepare the batch of stuff for next week. All of this takes less than an hour in total and by now it’s a habit.
My daily process is rather simple. Aside from my daily habits which I try to do every day, what I’ve found that works for me is a block of time/unit of work that is 5 minutes. This means that if I want to work on something, 5 minutes is the lowest amount of time I’ll spend on it. If I don’t stop at the 5 minute mark I’ll do 10, if I don’t stop at 15, I’ll do 20 and so on in increments of 5.
So for example usually I do exercise sessions of 30 minutes 3-4 times a day:
- In the morning
- Lunch time
However, as people that train martial arts even semi-seriously know, when you get an insight or an idea and you want to try out something, better try it straight away even for a little bit.
The 5 minute chunks translate well into pomodoros as well. I’ve broken down my work day into 2 big pomodoro cycles. Each cycle is then broken down into 4x45 minute pomodoros which is 180 minutes or 3 hours of actual deep work. I have set 10 minutes break between each pomodoro, but sometimes the break is skipped and I go straight for the next 45 minutes. After a big cycle I have a longer break which is usually at lunchtime when I do an exercise session, have some food etc.
The relationship between discipline and willpower is an interesting one. For long I thought I don’t have willpower, but with time I found out that willpower is overrated and discipline is more useful. Granted, that’s what I’ve found that works for me. For others it might be different. I try to form (some) habits of things that I don’t necessarily like to do, but I recognize that I need to do when it comes to achieving some overreaching or important milestone. There are millions of books on the subject, but the answer always lies within - nosce te ipsum. You have to do the actual work in the end even if you don’t like it. I think that’s small price to pay in the present for potential big gain in the future.