Resolutions, Take One

I guess it’s that time of year again. Time to look at what we hope to accomplish and set our sights on the stars.

This is a long and possibly uninteresting post, but here it is.

Primary Goal: Use my time more productively, which may include dropping some of these resolutions.

Also:

Have more patience with the kids. Be more supportive with them. Make them feel important.

So far, I’ve finally bought new, warmer mitts for my son (and left the hefty price tag on them). I’m terrible at actually running errands like this. We also set up a desk of his own (which had been in my office), so he doesn’t have to fight for space with the clutter on the dining room table. It also shows our trust in him, since we’re not in the habit of spending time in the room it’s in — it was the last to be renovated. It’s on the main floor, so it’s not isolated, just not right in our face.

I went tobogganing with my daughter. Husband had a rare day off, so we went shopping and completely forgot that I’d promised to bring the toboggan. She remembered. She did not accept that, since the hill was 1/5 grass, it wouldn’t be much fun. I delayed the question until we got home, fully expecting by the time we got inside she’d not want to go back out, but she did. So we left the men at the house and walked 10 minutes back to the school, which has the best hill in the city.  One of her classmates was there with her family, but otherwise it was empty. She went down several times, and even got me on it for the final ride.

On the way home, she asked for help with her reading log. She had to find the problem and solution in her book. She didn’t like my suggestion, and said, "You can’t think of a problem that’s really a problem." I explained that with all my years of school she should at least consider my idea. She told me to stop the conversation. I usually go on and make the point a few more times, but I managed to stop myself. Meanwhile, she went on and on about how I keep going on and on. I used her words from bare minutes ago, and she stopped. So, while we didn’t solve the homework problem, we had a companionable walk home.

Another thing I need to do is stop telling my son, "very good, but,…" I’m always afraid to say just "very good" when it’s only one step in a long journey, but my son usually knows the final goal, and the next several things to try. What he needs from me is "You’ve made great progress," and even "I can read your handwriting now."

Be available for quality time. This means no internet while they’re home, unless they’re already occupied.

It’s hard to put numbers on this goal, but one time consciously putting each kid first each day should get the habit going.

Lose weight.

I should lose 5 to 40 lb, at 0.5 to 2 lb / wk for safe and long-lasting loss. More veggies, less carbs, and cut the empty calories should do it. The weight chart is already by the scale by the dresser. I usually gain a pound or two a year. (Which is about 100 calories a day — one small carrot.)

So far this year, I ate fast food once (on a long drive), one extra slice of pizza, a meal out for my birthday (Thai, with veggies, but I needed the full bowl of rice to get every last drop of sauce, and you can’t eat Thai without lemon soda), and one extra can of pop (because husband was home today and was going downstairs to get one).

Exercise.

Gee, am I typical, or what. I don’t have to stop smoking or cut down on coffee, since I never started, but as for the rest,…

Between walking the kids to/from school, housework and Pilates, I average 300 minutes of movement a week, so I’m not a couch potato, but I haven’t broken a real sweat in 8 years. The moms I sometimes walk with aren’t interested in sweating and I don’t want to spend money on a health club to be with the other moms. Too much exercise on the way home in the morning coincides with days I spend the morning in front of one screen or another rather than doing housework. Too much aerobics during housework is detrimental to our belongings, but I might be able to squeeze in a bit. On the really silly excuse side, I don’t like delaying my morning shower. I’m sure I could get used to it, although it would be obvious from my hair, and taking pride in my appearance is another goal.

In the fall, I started alternating a minute of jogging with a minute of walking, for my regular walks, slowly increasing the jogging. I saw rapid improvement during the two weeks I did it. I got more comfortable working at that level. I don’t enjoy heavy breathing in the cold air.

I’ll do aerobic sweeping, mopping, and hanging laundry, but real progress on this goal may have to wait until spring.

Take pride in my appearance.

I’m not a slob, but I don’t like spending money on clothes, and I like to be comfortable. I finally replaced much of my ancient makeup — I’m very careful about contaimination, but it still goes bad.

I need to stop buying baggy. I need to show faith that I will lose weight, and that modern fabrics don’t shrink that much. Tomorrow, I will call a local, highly recommended, lingerie place for a bra fitting. No extra time required. I’m considering having a consult for laser for my rosacea. It’s pretty bad, and the meds didn’t work. (A naturopath might be better — it’s often a food thing.)

Continue my novel.

One chapter per Bird Scramble issue — every three months. Seems so easy. The next one will need maybe 8 hours, but it will be an angsty chapter. I OD’d on writing a few years ago while writing the first few drafts, and am nervous about getting back into it. After the January deadline (sub-goal: mail Scramble early enough to get cheap rate) maybe an hour or two a week.

Continue to maintain and improve our home so it’s welcoming, comfortable, and a good place to be.

I can’t say enough good about FlyLady. Baby steps are the way to go. Numbers? Finish each of Kelly’s missions at least once. Spend one hour per week in the zone, and another at random (such as too small clothes, consolidating boxes, decluttering, hotspots, renovations, mending). Don’t let the mending sit. Hotspots daily.

Improve my record with the fish tank. First thing each week. (Monday, after kitchen and laundry.) I let it slide way too often. It’s not a fun task. My arms are too short, so I have to stretch to hold the siphon in the tank and keep my eye at gravel level to see what it’s doing. Maybe I could delegate it to my husband, but his record with weekly house routines is worse than mine.

Cooking fits here as well, since it’s part of FlyLady’s advice. Actually write the menus on my weekly schedule. It makes a huge difference to what I cook, and even how. I’m also less likely to forget to actually cook, since I see the list often during the day. Good use of the slow cooker and oven timer is essential. Even if I don’t have to start cooking for another two hours, I can still get everything ready, then forget about it until supper time, rather than remembering at supper time that I should have put rice on half an hour ago. (Hint: If cooking an oven meal, put rice and usual amount of water in loosely covered casserole, up to two hours before cooking. If it will be cooking more than an hour, adda bit extra water, and possibly wipe dish with oil first. It may be a bit soggy or crunchy in spots, but it will be cooked, so just add sauce.)

Improve my filing habits, including accounting.

My to-be-filed pile sometimes reaches six inches. I haven’t printed photos since 2004ish. One hour per week would keep things well under control. I always forget the "not urgent" accounting. (We enter absolutely everything on Quicken. Maybe an hour a week, but we love the extra information when we need to make money decisions.)

It also includes all the fanfiction I print out and never read. I took off 2006, after two years of trying to read and leave a positive (earned) comment on every submission. Since 2007, I’ve printed two dozen, read one dozen (and made notes in the margin), but only sent comments for three. They live in a file, so they’ll count towards the filing quota. I’ll limit it to writers I already know I enjoy, and short things. I owe Jane and Catherine a couple each.

Keep my in baskets clear.

I’m pretty good at this. I keep the papers for each Covey quadrant separate (Urgent / not-urgent paired with critical / not-critical) and do like tasks together. I usually clear the basket weekly, but a few times a year, often after a holiday, I lump them all into one pile again, along with anything else relatively flat that isn’t in the right place or needs reviewing. I don’t advise this, but as long as I can get through it in a week (including filing some things in "deal with later") it works. It’s also a good way to purge the "later" pile.

This category includes websites I bookmark because I want to read them, later. On the other hand, most of my wasted time is on the internet, so this might be counter-productive.

I suppose in basket could go under filing. Half of it is stuff to be dealt with and filed.

So, 90 minutes a week for in basket and filing. 

Start each week with in basket, including bills. Then filing. Then accounting entry. Then fill the rest of the time with year end file moving, then photos. A good enough plan to start with.

Become more well-read.

I used to be well-read, for my age, but slipped. I to stick with fantasy and SF, with personal improvement and child rearing on the side, with the odd spurt of gardening or lace knitting or whatever topic catches my fancy. My Twitter friends read things like Gilgamesh and the Torah and "The New Lifetime Reading Plan", along with the light stuff. They contrast and compare, and it’s reminded me of why I enjoyed read ng a diverse selection.

More specific goal: Grab a list of classics and each trip to the library, put something from the list into the bag. Experiment with GoodReads for that.

Finish shorthand.
Practise singing.

An hour a week, spread over 4 sessions, including typing passages into the computer so it can dictate for me, would do wonders. It’s been two or three years, and I haven’t finished the text that is normally takes 40 hours of class time. When I practise, I use it more in daily life. I need to improve legibility, reading skill, and the ability to think in shorthand. Sometimes I think I should drop this goal. It’s slower to read than longhand, and especially hard for unconnected material like lists, so how often will I use it? Several in the online group use it daily. It’s one of those things that’s been on the list forever and I want a checkmark for it, so it stays.

The same amount of tim on my singing would also work wonders. It’s embarrassing when I don’t even remember which exercise my teacher assigned. I sang while at Mom’s, and she’s totally not impressed with my current skill. Then again, she thinks it’s silly to begin with. Thinking more, I’m not sure when she last learned something. She dabbles a bit in the non-fiction section of the library, but I can’t recall her taking any class in 30 years.

Both of these goals end up being dropped for weeks at a time.

Less wasted time.

Use a timer. No more than 15 minutes for a single comment. No more than 60 internet minutes a day, including email, blogs and blogging, commenting, and even the aforementioned bookmarked pages. Five hours a week is a lot. (This blog has taken aout three hours. Oops.)

Use my moods effectively.

I waste too much time when bored or not in the mood. I like GTD’s concept of energy level. Look at your lists regularly, even if low on energy. That way, when you can concentrate, you know right away what to tackle, and when you are brain-dead you’ll still find something you can get done.

(The Todo list is part of in basket and filing. Last year I finally moved several ancient lists from various pads to a file folder, and now I have another dozen lists going. I need to consolidate and organize them. It’s tempting to enter the todo list into the computer. Some programs allow you to categorize them in mutltiple ways. I can see another few hours admiring and testing the options, only to decide to be cheap and not buy any, and go back to paper.)

Blog more interestingly.

I have a huge list of 300 word topics I can do in thirty minutes or less. I just need to do them. I’m tempted to switch to WordPress, with its "post on this date" feature, so I can take advantage of my moods. LJ posts immediately, but with whatever date you set. Maybe 15-30 minutes writing, either novel or blog, before reading others’.

Make beautiful things.
Consolidate craft boxes.

Aka knitting and cross stitch. Keep them handy.

Spend time with husband.
Watch the taped and purchased shows.
Get to bed on time.

All these can be done with what we both agree is the preferred evening routine, and combined with the previous one.

—-

There, the current list. I estimate three hours are things I do most weeks already but would like to be more consistent with, and another three or four are things I need to work on. Rather ambitious, but ideals are like the stars. We never reach them, but we guide our course by them.

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