Tag: projectmanagement

Heading into Fall: Reviewing the ‘dog days of summer’ goals

So, we’re on to the last third of the year—there are now only 122 days left in 2021. While it feels like time is starting to speed back up again, I’m wondering when things are going to totally go to hell. The vaccination rate is still on a steady decline (though there are days when the number of shots given is high), and the delta variant is still running rampant through the country. Luckily, I’ll be able to get the J&J booster shot sometime between October and December (they state that it is most effective six to eight months after the initial shot). So, it looks like I’ll be staying in self-isolation throughout the fall and winter (with the occasional walk to get the paper on the weekend, and possibly a walk once a month at Boomer Lake).

The world is still crumbling at a decent clip, and I’m talking about everything from the issues in Central Asia (Afghanistan) to the fact that while Greenland lost a huge amount of ice—they also got a huge amount of rainfall (for like the third time in recorded history). Therefore, I’m limiting my news intake to morning/night and the occasional lunchtime checks on Facebook. When I published ‘July in Review’, I noted that the US was a little over 35.7 million cases for the SARS-CoV2 virus, and now we’re at a little over 40.1 million cases (so it was an increase of not quite 4.5 million cases last month—all due to the delta variant and fewer people getting vaccinated).

So the numbers are going back up, and less than 0.5% of the hospitalized cases are vaccinated individuals (break-through cases). That means over 99% of the people in the hospital for SARS-CoV2, haven’t gotten the vaccine (and a good number now are children under the age of 12 that currently aren’t eligible for the vaccine). I really wish things would go virtual for another semester or two, and if everyone wants schools opened—get the damn shot. (End rant)

Staying in self-isolation will give me the time to really start focusing on trying to get a freelance/remote/contract career started (focusing first on writing, crafts, and possibly project/product management, then stretching to data analysis, and possibly educational consulting).

Before looking ahead to September (the start of the last third of the year, and a semi-modified new set of goals, and continuing to work on my time and project management skills), I should look at the goals I set for August and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for August included:

  1. 135-155,000 steps
  2. Restart LIIFT4 (mainly following the lifting schedule, not necessarily streaming the program)
  3. Finish up the writing/editing assignments for MWO, the MWO course, and roll the dice to figure out the next advancedcheeky scientist program to start
  4. Finish reading two to three non-fiction books
  5. Read two to four fiction books (and hopefully write small reviews over at least one of them)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (Continue working on the cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

So how did I do with each of them?

135-155,000 steps: I managed to get in 154,591 steps this past month. Mostly through wandering around the house and yard, though I did manage to get a walk in at Boomer Lake earlier in the month. I’m thinking that for September–most of the steps will be from wandering around the house/yard, walking through the neighborhood (early mornings, so I can wear my mask), and possibly a walk at Boomer Lake.

Restarting LIIFT4: I’m still giving my wrist a little more time to heal (I semi-sprained or did something to my right wrist last month), and therefore didn’t do any lifting this past month. As I mentioned in another post (400 day update), I have until basically the end of September to decide if I’m keeping my beachbody-on-demand subscription or not. I’m trying to limit my ‘screen time’ (or as much as one can when they’re thinking of freelance/remote/contract writing as a career option). Therefore I’m thinking of working out away from the screen (lifting weights and doing other things), and doing ‘screen time’ for mainly yoga.

Finishing up the MWO program & deciding on new one: I’ve finished the editing assignments for the program, and am still working on the writing assignments. I have one module left to go through (though I may not get the certificate until I complete the writing assignments), and then would be ‘done’ with the program. I did roll the dice and decided that I’d be working through the following programs over the next several months (regardless of when I finish the MWO): User Experience Squad, Project Management Consortium, Regulatory Affairs Council, Business Development Federation, and Product Management Group.

Finish reading two to three non-fiction books: I managed to read the following non-fiction books:

I Want to Do All the Things: Finding Balance as a Polymath, Multipotentialite, and Renaissance Soul by Arcadia Page

The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own by Joshua Becker

Though I haven’t written mini book reviews over either of them yet.

Read two to four fiction books (and hopefully write small reviews on at least one of them): The fiction books Imanaged to read during the month of August included:

Vortex: A FBI Thriller (#25) by Catherine Coulter (review posted to blog)

Dawn Unearthed (Ravenwood Coven #1) by Carrie Ann Ryan (review posted to blog)

Wiretaps & Whiskers (The Faerie Files #1) by Emigh Cannaday (review posted to blog)

Catnip & Curses (The Faerie Files #2) by Emigh Cannaday (review coming soon)

My Next Play (On My Own #3; advanced reader copy) by Carrie Ann Ryan (review coming soon)

Three out of the five books have reviews posted to the blog, and the other two books are books that I just finished within the past few days, so those reviews should hopefully be getting posted to the blog (and other sites) by the weekend.

No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month:

There have been a couple of books bought, one (or two) large amazon orders–but truthfully, nothing more than usual. The breakdown for this will be in the next installment of the limited spending challenge check-in.

Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, daily gratitude journal entries:

I’ve been able to spend time outdoors this month–though there was only one walk at Boomer Lake (due to combination of temperatures and the delta variant). I am very grateful that my parents have a decent size backyard that one can be out in during this period of time. I’ve been doing my evening meditations/sitting quietly moments for at least a few minutes (hoping to add this to the morning routine as well).

In term of the daily gratitude entries–I’ve been pretty good with these, even if they’ve been something along the line of being grateful that I don’t have kids and therefore I don’t have to worry/stress about navigating things with the pandemic still raging.

Craft time (continue working on the cross-stitch project):

I actually finished my first small abstract cross-stitch project the other day. Instead of trying to find a pattern, I’m sticking with abstract made up on the spot designs. The reason: I can’t draw a straight line to save my life, and trying to write letters on the fabric was giving me a headache, though I do know that with practice I’d be getting better at both of them).

My first cross-stitch project completed

I should be getting in my glue gun by the end of the week, and will be gluing some of the fabric to the backside of the framefor a more completed look.

I’m starting on a second and larger cross-stitch project, and am finding it therapeutic stabbing the fabric over and over again with teh needle and thread. It seems that the amount of time spent on the project is directly correlated to how irritated I am with the world.

Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course:

I started two different short e-courses this past month, and finished one of them:

Understanding and Developing Emotional Intelligence on Udemy

With the way the world is going today (especially in terms of the anti-vaxxers and anti-maskers), this is something that a lot of people seem to be lacking. Out of the five main concepts (self-awareness, self-control, social skills, empathy, and self motivation)—I feel like everyone needs a good dose of empathy.

While I may be getting tired of being in self-isolation (more or less) daily, at least I know that I’m doing my part not to spread the virus. Just like I know that wearing a mask in public, helps slow the spread of the virus (even though I shouldn’t be carrying it—it would still help protect me from catching it).

Everyone that is screaming ‘it’s their right’ on whether or not to wear a mask, or get vaccinated, or whatever—yes it is your right, but the world doesn’t revolve around you. We’re a global society, and we really should be looking out for each other (instead of being of the ‘me-and-mine’ mindset).

After taking the course, I’ve realized that I need to work on the self-motivation (keeping the inner critic/imposter syndrome in check) the most, with maybe self-awareness coming in second. I’m usually aware of my emotions, and while I try not to let them get the better of me, sometimes I don’t always control my facial features as much as I should.

Another thing I did last month (and actually at the very end of the month)—I submitted a ‘application’ for paying freelance writing gig. The opportunity came from the company that I’m doing the volunteer writing for (one of the editors wants the pages on another site rewritten), so I sent a response with links to both the blog and my LinkedIn profile (as my portfolio) to the editor I work with and we’ll see what happens.

Even if I don’t get the job—I managed to quiet my inner critic long enough to ask some questions in one of the medical writing Facebook groups I’m in, and put together a response and emailed it back in the afternoon. This is a really big step for me, since I’m more likely to try to let the inner critic/imposter syndrome win and not try to go for things.

I decided earlier in the month that I was going to be keeping the website url, and running tagline for the blog. I will be updating the site over the next few months (especially with a ‘portfolio’ section to highlight various science/medical writing styles/topics, and other writing examples).

I’m not going to change up my ‘goals’ that much, though I will be trying to put a little more time into the other ‘writing’ projects that I’ve got on my plate.

The other goals for September will include:

  1. 130-150,000 steps; I’m hoping to get at least one walk in at Boomer Lake this month, in addition to maybe one or two walks through the neighborhood in the mornings (when I shouldn’t run into anyone who could be potentially ‘anti-mask’)
  2. Start my own fitness routine (weight lifting, shadow boxing, yoga/stretching)
  3. Start working through the User Experience Squad program, work on the writing assignments for the MWO and finish the sixth module of the MWO program
  4. Read one to two non-fiction books
  5. Read two to four fiction books (have small book reviews written and published)
  6. No spend days/no spend weeks/limited spending month
  7. Time outdoors, meditation/sitting quietly, and daily gratitude journal entries
  8. Craft time (continue working on the new cross-stitch project)
  9. Work through at least one other personal/professional development e-course

I’m keeping the goals similar to the ones for August—though I’m changing up the fitness/intentional movement goal. Instead of streaming workouts (though I might do that for the yoga), I’m going to just put on music and either lift weights (focusing on certain muscles) or shadow box. This way I’ll be getting in my fitness/intentional movement for the day, but at the same time will be having some ‘screen free’ time as well.

I’ll also be trying to figure out what other types of writing I’d like to be doing, so there may be a variety of blog posts (or pages) popping up throughout the month as I try my hand covering different topics.

While I’ve semi rewritten the ‘work with me’ page, that page and the welcome page may get updated throughout the fall as I slowly make my way into the freelancing world of writing, editing, proofreading, and crafting.

So, while time is starting to ‘speed’ up, I hope that everyone is getting their vaccination shot(s) against the virus, and if you have kids—they’re getting theirs as well. As that (along with masks and social distancing when needed) is really the only way we’re going to be able to get to a ‘new’ normal.

While I’d asked this question last month on what types of posts people would like to see more of (science/educational, personal/professional development, hobbies/crafts, book reviews, or thoughts on different career paths), I decided that I will continue forward with a mixture of all (as that fits my personality and my top two strengths: learner and intellection).

I’m going to share the words I chose for 2021 again— growth, creativity, curiosity, happiness, and prosperity.

What are you most excited for this fall?

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Time and project management: Focus of the Second Aquarius Full Moon

So we’re going to be heading into our second Aquarius full moon for the year. Tonight, we will see the moon enter its full moon stage & the Aquarius constellation (for the second time). This means there are only 131 days left in 2021. While the year isn’t dragging as much as it did last year, I wouldn’t mind it slowly down just a bit.

I reflected on the questions for the Aquarius period again, and realized that some of my answers changed a little from the last month. So, again one can look at the book “Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles” by Yasmin Boland there are a series of questions that one reflect on during the next few days:

Have I been pragmatic to the point of losing the romance of life?

Have I been living too much in my head and not enough in my heart?

Have I been trying to do things my way, just for the sake of it?

Have I been trying to hard to befriend people, and for the wrong reasons?

Have I allowed myself to move forward this month?

So if I were to number the above questions 1-5, my answers would be as followed:

  1. I would say that my response is going to be similar to what I wrote last month. We’re in the middle of the delta variant surge (numbers are going up—and not the correct numbers [i.e. the number of people getting vaccinated]), so I’m really not interested in ‘the romance of life’ (though I am re-reading a couple of romance series).
  2. Well, yeah I have been living a little too much in my head and not enough in my heart. I’m trying to survive the combination of the pandemic and stupidity waves. Though I am trying to be a little more optimistic going forward-I’ve also realized that my faith in humanity has been severely shaken thanks the past few years.
  3. This depends on what one is talking about—especially since I’ve been on a ‘reboot break’ for the past year and a half. Since there is really no one correct way to take care of ones mental health—I’ve been focusing on what works for me (crafts, sitting outdoors, and when needed ignoring the world).
  4. I’m trying to network more on LinkedIn, but at the same time trying to have it focused in a few directions. I know that I need to build rapport and add value before even thinking of asking for something as simple as an informational interview. Therefore, I don’t think I’ve been trying to befriend people for the wrong reasons.
  5. I’ve slowly been moving forward this month. While I did try to set up an editorial calendar for the month (it went out the window by the 6th), I have made small progress in a couple of different areas. I’d decided that I’m going to try to go with weekly goals (in terms of different personal/professional development areas), and will also try to set aside certain time periods to focus on say research (even as simple as finding papers on different topics), and then also set aside time to write and edit.

Aquarius is also moving back through my 4th house or my home and family zone. This is the time when one should try to find a balance between one’s personal life and one’s career. Two months in a row, it is focusing on my home and family zone. While I mentioned last month that cases are starting to go up again, I’m pretty certain by fall we’re going to be back at hitting 2+ million new cases a month, at least until the vaccines are approved for younger kids and the parents wise up and get their kids (and themselves) vaccinated. Therefore, my personal life and career are still deeply ‘intertwined’, since I’m going to be home more or less all day, every day for the next few months.

I’m still working on shifting my mindset from ‘balance’ to ‘harmony’; allowing myself to be happy with whatever choice I’m making at any particular point of the day, without the overwhelming feelings of guilt for not trying to ‘multi-task’.

Therefore, I’m going to keep with the larger ‘open-ended’ goal that I set for the last Aquarius full moon:

Working on time and project management skills, by finding time for crafts, making progress on projects, and feeling accomplished at the end of the day.

My specific mini-goals will be:

  1. Create a timeline/schedule for my various writing projects that I’m coming up with (including the  ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ writing project)
  2. Create a timeline/schedule for the rest of the bird pages for the blog
  3. Start a 30-day journaling challenge (find some type of inspiration on pintrest)
  4. Continue working on the cross-stitch project (hopefully have it done by no later than the end of September)
  5. Start working through various e-courses.

I’ve been slowly working on my time management skills over the past week. I’m back to using the app Self Control (added in a few additional sites to the block list), and that has helped in terms of mindless scrolling. Though I still need to fine-tune my daily/weekly schedules (or at least be at peace with the fact that I enjoy sitting outside so much during the nice weather).

I’m going to be trying to work on the project management aspect of things over the next few months, especially since I accepted he volunteer medical content writing position last month.

Therefore, I need to figure out the timelines for different projects (in addition the volunteer position), and actually stick to the schedule—though I know there will probably always be a slight change due to something going on in the world.

I will be reminding myself that the goal is progress not perfection, and even if the path looks to be winding back on itself—it is still forward progression, and as I move forward I will be able to see how far I have actually come.

What are some of the projects that you’re juggling?

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Review of the ‘Buck’ Full Moon Goals

So, the moon will be transitioning into its full stage over the weekend (Sunday if you’re in the US, and possibly Saturday or Monday elsewhere in the world). This is also mark the second consecutive Aquarius full moon (meaning it has moved through all other signs, and is back in Aquarius this weekend). Once we hit the second Aquarius full moon—there will only be nine days left in August, and 131 days left in 2021.

Therefore, before I reflect again on the Aquarius questions I should look at the goals I set for the first Aquarius full moon and see how I did with each of them.

So what were my Aquarius full moon goals? They included:

Working on time and project management skills, by finding time for crafts, making progress on projects, and feeling accomplished at the end of the day.

While that is a totally ‘open-ended’ goal, some specific mini-goals were:

  1. Creating a timeline/schedule for my ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ writing project
  2. Create a timeline/schedule for the rest of the bird pages
  3. Determine a specific time of the day for doing the oracle card challenge
  4. Start a 30-day journaling challenge
  5. Create one necklace or start a cross-stitch project
  6. Start working through various writing e-courses

So how did I do with each of the mini-goals?

  1. I have created a very rough timeline/schedule for the ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ writing project. While I had created it during the last full moon phase, I didn’t take into account other writing assignments that would take more time than I had set aside for them. I originally had planned on having this writing project done by mid-October, but will probably go back and fine-tune/readjust the timeline to also take into account the other projects (since I just rolled the dice on the personal/professional board game Monday night). The new projected end date for this project will probably be sometime in mid-to-late November.
  2. This is something that I’m still working on determining. I have probably another 100 pages (taking into account bird orders, families, and then species) to create. I don’t want the overall project to be finished ‘too early’, as this is one thing I do enjoy doing—researching and learning about different birds. Though, I am thinking of a ‘largish’ writing project in relation to the bird pages. Tentatively it will be called ‘Molecular Genetics and the Reorganization of Bird Classifications’.
  3. I’d actually decided that once I manage to do a four-card spread (to catch up on days 27-30), I’m going to put the oracle card challenge on hold. I came to this decision, mainly because it was starting to become more of a ‘chore’ than a fun and enjoyable challenge. I will still draw a card (or a spread), but may not share them on Instagram continuously (it may be a weekly post on say Saturday or Sunday).
  4. I truthfully forgot about this one. I’ve been writing a little more in the journal each day, mainly reflecting a little on either what I managed to get done (or not done) or how I’m feeling about certain things in the world (like the delta variant running amok).
  5. I’m working on my cross-stitch project, a little every other night or so. I’ve decided that I’m going to see how many different colors I can use to totally fill up the space as a circle (more or less). I have basically 240 (or more) different colors of threads, and I’d like to see how many colors fill up this medium size tapestry. I’m also going to hopefully start creating a couple of necklaces/bracelets over the next few months (probably not going anywhere thanks to the delta variant running amok).
  6. I’ve managed to work through an e-course, but it wasn’t one on writing. It was actually a very short course on understanding emotional intelligence and how to practice (and cultivate) it.

So I managed to get about two-thirds of the goals accomplished (or at least partially met) over the past full moon period. I’d realized last week that I was not staying on top of my time management at all, and that something needs to change for that.

That is why, for now I’m going to be working with the idea of meeting weekly goal totals instead of saying that I’ll complete this or that course, or have this or that writing project done.

As I mentioned in the update on my comfort diagram, I’m going to be aiming for at least three to three and half hours a week (breaks down to thirty minutes a day minimum) for certain things (like e-course work, reading non-fiction, and working on crafts), plus a minimum number of words written (say three to four thousand words). Though the actual tracking possibly won’t start until next week (when I have some type of tracking sheet set up).

I’m slowly improving my time management skills (still need to work on the mornings and mid-afternoon), but life is always about improvement and trying to be a little better than the day (or even the week) before.

We’ll see if any of these improve throughout the next Aquarius moon cycle.

What are some of the things you’re trying to improve on?

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Slow progress is better than no progress, time to look for productivity trackers

So we’re going to be heading into May’s full moon within the next twenty-four hours, and hopefully the weather will improve. This full moon is also suppose to be lunar eclipse as well–but we’ve been having rainy/cloudy weather for the past few weeks, so there is a chance that I won’t be able to see the eclipse in the morning due to possible overcast conditions.

Therefore, before looking Sagittarius full moon, I should look back at the goals that I set for the Scorpio full moon and see how I did with each of them.

The goals for the Scorpio full moon included:

  1. Finish 21-Day Fix Real Time and then start 21-Day Fix Extreme Real Time
  2. Spend more time reflecting and set at least one ‘long-term’ goal (personal or professional) that is at least 5-10 years down the road
  3. Finish setting up my 12-month plan (based semi off the ‘long-term goal’; bonus–this would be finishing up a past Aries New moon goal as well)
  4. Continue with daily evening meditations

So how did I do with each of them?

  1. In terms of the two fitness programs–I decided to concentrate more on ‘intentional movement’ and then started LIIFT4 for the third time. It isn’t that I didn’t like 21-Day Fix & 21-Day Fix Extreme Real Time, but I just wasn’t in the mood to listen to the ‘lectures’ on ‘proper nutrition and eating’ as I’m still trying to improve my relationship with food. I will do these programs, but once I feel like my relationship with food has improved enough that I’m not worried about falling back into the mindset of restriction.
  2. In terms of goals 2 & 3–I’m still in reflection mode and contemplating ‘long-term’ goals, and still trying to flesh out the ’12-month’ plan as well. Though I did create a personal/professional board game over the past few weeks that could be tied to both of the goals. I’ve realized over the past few weeks that in terms of trying to set ‘long-term’ goals I keep hearing conflicting viewpoints. The viewpoints go from ‘yes, everyone should have at least one long-term goal to strive for’, and to ‘if you’re focused on a specific goal, you might miss an opportunity because it doesn’t align with your goal’.
    • These conflicting opinions, made me realize that I’m ‘afraid now’ of setting long-term goals for several reasons: 1) I tried that with grad school/post-docs (had thought of trying to obtain a professor position) and it didn’t happen; 2) I’m having ‘troubles’ seeing myself ’15+’ years down the road doing something (since I’m worried about possibly being on the ‘wrong track’ again); and 3) I’m striving to still find that ‘balance’ between different areas of life (since I know I have the habit of becoming laser focused on one thing to the determent of everything else).
    • But I’m working my way slowly away from the ‘fear’ by creating and playing my own personal/professional development board game. It is giving me the power to decide what I’m doing, what I’m studying/reviewing, how far in-depth I’m going, and how I’m going to showcase what I’ve learned.
  3. Meditation at night is going more or less smoothly–the only time I ‘skip’ it is if I’m either not feeling well, or something has totally messed up my evening routine (say a water heater spewing 20-30 gallons of water into the room). It hasn’t quite become a fully ingrained habit yet, but I’m making progress towards that end goal. It does help improve my sleep, and I think I’m going to also try morning meditation as well this summer.

So I may not have been totally on target with the Scorpio goals, but I also didn’t fall totally off target either. I’m slowly embracing the fact that productivity/health/life is all cyclic, everyone has good days/weeks and then bad days/weeks. The mark of improvement and progress is making sure that you strive towards getting back towards the good days/weeks instead of wallowing in the bad days/weeks. Also noticing what your productivity ‘cycles’ are can also help, in terms of wondering where you might need to have ‘fewer’ goals or when you can possibly add ‘more’ goals to your list.

I’m slowly starting to figure out my productivity cycle (it looking like peaks are beginning and mid-fall, slow climb/fall, ‘bottoming-out’ twice a year [April/May and possibly Oct/Nov]), but will continue to tract to be sure. A new ‘goal’ will be to try to limit the ‘fall’ and start the ‘climb’ quicker (only two months bottoming-out instead of the possible four).

So question: What are some of your favorite productivity trackers?

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