Tag: writingtime

Return of the monthly accountability posts

So I’ve decided that I’m going to try to ‘revive’ a blog series that I let fall by the wayside last year. That series—“months in review”. Basically I’m trying to restart my monthly accountability posts. 

I think I only managed to do a “January in Review” last year (possibly…maybe?), and then I barely posted on either blog for several months. This was due in part to the family medical issue that had started in August 2022…it continued into the early months of 2023…and ‘accumulated’ with my mom passing away during emergency surgery in May of 2023. Needless to say—in addition to trying to manage burnout symptoms, I’m also trying to manage grief as well. Then it didn’t help in October when the world lost it’s shit and any sense of sanity & common sense.

So, the ‘month in review’ posts—what were they? They were monthly accountability posts. They were posts were I listed out various goals that I attempted for the month & how I did with each of them, and at the end of the post were goals I set for the following month. They were also posts where I’d give an update on the SARS-CoV2 pandemic and various stats. This ‘new’ series will be mainly covering the goals and whether I accomplished them or not—and if not, what I plan on doing differently to accomplish that goal within the first few days of the following month.

You will also notice that I’m going to be referring to personal/professional development as personal/professional growth—because I feel like ‘development’ has a slightly negative vibe to it. I don’t need to ‘develop’ into a writer…I’m already a writer, but I can ‘grow’ into becoming a better writer, photographer, blogger, or whatever.

So, with this ‘restart’ to the month in review series, what were my goals for April? Those goals included:

  1. Reading at least three non-fiction books
  2. Reading at least three fiction books
  3. Complete at least one 30-day challenge (working on a Sudoku puzzle, iPhone photography, something)
  4. Coming up with an intentional movement plan that I can stick with
  5. Outline/mind-map for a YouTube channel
  6. At least two blurbs/reviews on science papers (for the science, health, medical blog)
  7. Working through at least two e-courses
  8. 30 minutes 3x/week on Mondly (refreshing or learning a foreign lanuage)
  9. Post to each blog (minimum once–would like two or more times)
  10. Mind-maps & outlines for different projects (mainly for the science/health, medical blog):
    • Oncology series (carcinomas & sarcomas)
    • What is a microbe series
    • Metabolism series (why some supplements are ‘scams’)
    • Why some foods (chocolate, onions, walnuts/pecans) are bad for dogs & cats

These goals are in addition to the goals that I’d drawn on my April BINGO card (and actually some of these goals are from the April BINGO card). So how did I do with each of the goals?

Reading at least three non-fiction books. I read the following books during April:

  1. Top 10 most interesting dinosaurs by Daniel Bozso 
  2. 50 Dinosaur Tales: And 108 more discoveries from the golden age of dinos by Sabrina Ricci with Garret Kruger
  3. Becoming What You Are: A Concise Guide to Awakening the light within by Two Workers
  4. B*tch Don’t Kill my Vibe by Reese Owen
  5. What if it does work out: How a side hustle can change your life by Susie Moore
  6. Waking up in the winter: In Search of What Really Matters at Midlife by Cheryl Richardson

So 100% on this goal…and actually managed to double the number of books that I read.

Reading at least three fiction books. I read the following fiction books during April:

  1. Moments for You (Wilder Brothers/Cousins #7) by Carrie Ann Ryan
  2. The Keeper (Playing to Win #1) by Bella Matthews
  3. The Wildcat (Playing to Win #2) by Bella Matthews
  4. The Knockout (Playing to Win #3) by Bella Matthews
  5. Caged (The Defiant Kings #1) by Bella Matthews
  6. Shaken (The Defiant Kings #2) by Bella Matthews
  7. Iced (The Defiant Kings #3) by Bella Matthews
  8. Overruled (The Defiant Kings #4) by Bella Matthews
  9. Haven (The Defiant Kings #5) by Bella Matthews

Seeing a pattern? I found a new (to-me) author—Bella Matthews, and have been binge reading her backlist (after having purchased the Playing to win series). I think I’ve also (more or less) finished two other connected series…I just forgot to write them down on teh wod document that I have going to track how many books I’ve read during 2024.

Completing at least one 30-day challenge (100% complete):

This month’s challenge was attempting to finish a Sudoku puzzle everyday. I probably should have kept track of how many days I actually managed to complete the puzzle without messing up…but I’d say it was probably somewhere between 2/3 and 3/4 of the time (so somewhere between 20 and 25 days of ‘correctly’ finishing the puzzle).

I’d started also trying to do a crossword puzzle daily as well…and I’d say the percentage I got done was around 10-15%…not great…so maybe try to work on getting better at crossword puzzles over the next few months.

Coming up with an intentional movement plan that I can hopefully stick with (~60% complete):

I’ve created a basic board game for intentional movements…though I’m thinking of purchasing a hula hoop and some battle ropes to add into the mix. My problem for the past couple of years has been ‘boredom’…aka—doing the same workout programs that I’ve done in the past. In order to break that ‘cycle’ I need to mix things up—and also not focus on a number on the scale or a number on the tag of clothes…but aim to get into the best shape of my life, honor my body, and accept (plus work with) the limitations of my body—i.e. knowing that lunges, pushups, tricep dips, and even jogging/running aren’t things I should be doing a lot of…though jogging may be possible a few months down the road—the others I should avoid due to my bone structure (being knocked-kneed/bow-legged; messed up bone structure due to the hereditary multiple osteochondromas).

My biggest hurdle currently—is figuring out the ‘time’ to workout daily. I’m not a big fan of being ‘observed’ when working out…so yeah—still need to figure out the best ‘time’ of day to do things. 

Outline/mind-map for a YouTube channel (possibly 5% completed?):

Not quite done with this one…mainly because I haven’t quite decided if it’s going to be solely an ‘science, health, med’ comms/topics channel, or is it going to be like me—multifaceted. The single topic channel would be in theory easier to plan than a multifaceted one…but I’m worried that I’d get bored with it…though that could just be the inner critic/imposter syndrome whispering in my ear to keep me ‘stuck’.

Two blurbs/reviews on sciences papers (for the science, health, med blog) (5% completed):

Nope..I have the notes for one blurb/review (over the leafy and weedy sea dragon genomes), and just need to go back through and edit it down—I was over thinking things and started to also create a mini-review, when I should have been making note of things I found of interest and wanted to research on their own…with then linking back to the original ‘blurb’ that brought the ‘new topic’ to my attention. 

Working through at least two e-courses (100%–I watched/took notes):

I watched two ‘short’ e-courses on SkillShare in April, and those two courses were:

“The Art of Setting Goals: Create Your Roadmap to Success” and

“Creative Business Plan for Artists: Create a Thriving Business”

Now…I just need to go back and complete the ‘assignments’ for both of the courses—in order to get the ‘certificates’ of completion. Which will then help me actually move forward with trying to launch potentially two different freelance businesses (the freelance science, health, medical comms & the creative hobby/personal/professional growth business).

30 minutes 3x/week on Mondly (refreshing or learning a language) (only about 5% completed)

Nope…I managed to do this for the first few days of the month, and then I let all sorts of other ‘tasks’ take precedence over logging into Mondly for a half-hour to practice learning a foreign language.

Post to each blog (minimum once—would like two or more times) (100%—creative blog was several times; while the science, health & medical blog was once)

I usually manage to post to the creative blog at least four times a month (in regards to setting goals via of the new and full moon phases), and sometimes I manage a fifth or sixth time (book reviews or updates on what’s going on in West Asia). The site that usually I have more ‘trouble’ posting to is the science, health, and medical comms blog/website. 

I actually managed to post to the science, health, & medical blog website once last month—back on the 7th, I posted about 2024 world health day. I’m behind on the oncology blog series—only because I’ve realized that I need to divide some of the posts into multiple posts. A goal for May is to get back to a biweekly schedule of posting the oncology blog series, plus possibly posting about other topics as well (potential public/global health posts in regards to the rise of certain infectious diseases in certain areas of the world).

Mind-maps & outlines for different projects (mainly for the science, health, medical blog/website): (possibly about 45% done)

The oncology blog series (focusing on ‘location-based’ classification of cancers currently) ~35% done. I need to break these two outlines into ‘multiple’ outlines, as I’d noticed that the posts were getting ‘fairly’ long (i.e. getting close to almost ‘mini-review length–at least in my mind).

What is a microbe series–~80% done. I have a basic outline and some notes. But I should ensure that I have a couple of ‘examples’ of each group/family/class of microbes picked out and a outline for what I’d like to cover on those organisms.

Metabolism series–haven’t started

What various foods aren’t good for dogs and cats–haven’t started

I have notes and a rough outline for the what is a microbe series. I have a very rough draft for the carcinoma position of the oncology blog series (location based cancers part I). Since I haven’t fine-tuned the carcinoma outline…I haven’t moved forward to the sarcoma outline..which is currently ‘okay’ since I’m so far behind in writing/posting this series to the science, health, med blog. 

Conclusions:

So with April being the first month (in over a year) in which I tried to set ‘a laundry list’ of goals…I’m happy to see that there were only two or three that were less than 10% completed (refresh/learn a foreign language, planning out the YouTube channel, & blurbs on science/health/medical papers). I’m acknowledging that my inner critic/imposter syndrome was probably responsible for sidelining me for a good chunk of the month in regards to those two goals, and writing/posting to the science, health, & medical blog/website.

Reading is always something I enjoy…I’m proud of the fact that I managed to read/finish half a dozen non-fiction books this month, and am aiming to read at least three next month as well (if I can do half a dozen, great). Research & writing is something else I enjoy…I just need to get into the mindset that ‘good, decent, & done’ is a better mindset than ‘great, in-depth, and perfect’.

Perfectionism, comparing myself to others, and feeling like I need to have all the answers/solutions/every outcome mapped before moving forward is whats kept me stuck for quite a while (not to mention the whole family medical crisis/grief/finding my new normal). But I can say that I’m slowly making my way forward on my own path…

So what goals are going on my ‘laundry’ list of goals for May? They include:

  1. Reading at least three non-fiction books
  2. Reading at least four fiction
  3. Completing at least one more 30-day challenge
  4. Start following my intentional movement (aka exercise) plan
  5. Finish the outline/mind-map and possibly launch the YouTube channel
  6. Blurbs on the science, health, medical papers
  7. Working through at least three e-courses
  8. 30 minutes 4x/week on Mondly
  9. Post to each blog at least twice
  10. Mind-maps & outlines:
    • The two topics from last month (metabolism & foods that aren’t good for pets & why)
    • “Interviews” with different dinosaurs & extinct animals
    • What makes us “toxic/poisonous” (“interviews” with different creatures that either produce their own toxins/posions or house microbes that produce them)
    • Interviews with citizens of ancient civilizations (Copan, Mesa Verde, Stonehenge, plus others)
    • Ancient Civilizations (Mesopotamia & Ancient Egypt)
  11. Writing/working on projects for at least 30-minutes a day (minimum two different projects a day)
  12. Work on the large needlepoint project and maybe (start and/or finish) a small needlepoint proejct
  13. Create a rough draft of a coloring book from some of my black & white doodles.

There are ‘more’ goals listed for May…but several are just setting up for the research step of the project (such as goal number ten—the mind-maps & outlines). Others may be ‘competed’ quickly (such as say just reading four fiction books—but I know I’ll be reading more than just four). 

Having thirteen goals listed for May means I’ll also be working on my time and project management skills. Especially when it comes to ensuring that I’m doing my daily intentional movement, making time to be on Mondly learning a foreign language, working through an e-course, mind-mapping & creating outlines, research, writing/editing & publishing content. The overall goal for May is to complete at least fifty percent of a third of the goals; complete seventy-five percent of a third, and hundred precent of the other third. Yes, I know that with thirteen goals—it’s not an ‘even’ third.

How do you go about goal setting? Yearly? Quarterly? Monthly? What style of goal-setting do you use? SMART goals? OKR (Objective, Key Results)? WOOP (Wish, Outcome, Obstacle, Plan)? GROW (Goal, Reality, Options, Will)?

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Aquarius Full Moon Open-ended goal: Improving time & project management skills

So the moon has (or will be) transitioning into its full moon stage over the next day or so (or it may have already done so), depending on where you live. For me, the full moon was actually last night–so I’m probably about twelve hours late in posting my full moon goals (based on when it was ‘totally’ full). Now there are only eight days left in July, and then there will only be five months left in 2021 soon.

It’s said that time only seems to ‘speed’ up when you’re doing repetitive tasks–I guess with still self-isolating (mainly because of the delta variant and not enough people getting vaccinated), things seem repetitive (something to think on in terms of how to break).

So, with the moon transitioning through Aquarius and if one looks at the book ‘Moonology: working with the magic of lunar cycles’ by Yasmin Boland, there are a series of questions that one can 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. Well, we’re still in the middle of the damn pandemic. While things are slowly opening up–the number of cases (due to various viral variants) are also going up. Therefore I’m not in the mood (nor the mindset) to try and date. So, yes you might say that I’m being pragmatic to the point of losing the romance of life–but I’m still alive and SARS-CoV2 free.
  2. I’ve always been more ‘analytical’ minded than ‘artistic’ minded/hearted. Though this is something that I’ve been working on, by trying to work more craft time into my schedule (though currently that has been mainly photography or color-by-number).
  3. Well, I’m still on my ‘reboot break’, so there aren’t that many options. I am thinking of starting to get serious about freelance/remote/contract work for science communication/education, photography, and possibly data analysis (and maybe even project management). In order to become successful at that–it will probably require me to blend ideas/suggestions of others into something that will work for me.
  4. I don’t think I’ve been trying to befriend people for the wrong reasons. Currently, I have to push myself to network (because while I’m leaning in the direction of freelance/remote/contract work I’m still not totally sure–therefore I’m not networking as much as I should be).
  5. I’ve moved forward a little this month, but not much. Part of the issue is that my inner critic/imposter syndrome is able to lure be back into my comfort zone with reading, color-by-numbers, and sunny but not overly hot days. I’ve realized that I need to get more accomplished during the day/week than I’ve been doing lately–I may try to take my laptop outside for an hour or so to work (on those sunny but not overly hot days), and then take a ‘mini break’ when I have to take it back into the house to charge.

Aquarius is also moving 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. This year things are about where they were last year–though this year there are the vaccines for the virus. But cases are going up, due to both various variants of the virus and the number of people who are refusing to get the vaccine. So my personal life and career are still ‘intertwined’ currently, since I’m home basically all day, every day still.

I’m now trying to shift my mindset and not focus so much on ‘balance’ but on ‘harmony’ between things. That is what I’m striving for–harmony, to where I can be happy with whatever choice I’m making at any particular point in the day without feeling guilty for not doing something else.

So what are the mini-goals I’m going to set for the 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.

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

  1. Create a timeline/schedule for my ‘troubleshooting tips for molecular cloning’ writing project
  2. Create a timeline/schedule for the rest of the bird pages for the blog
  3. Determine a specific time for doing the oracle card challenge (as it is–I’m currently two days behind schedule)
  4. Start a 30-day journaling challenge (find some type of inspiration on pintrest)
  5. Create one necklace and/or start a cross-stitch project
  6. Start working through various writing e-courses

Last year I’d mentioned I needed to determine the type of future I wanted instead of sitting around and going with flow. I’m leaning more towards working for myself (mainly due to the pandemic, though I won’t totally rule out going back for a ‘in-person’ job) in terms of writing, photography, crafts, project management, and maybe data analysis. As mentioned earlier–the top two ‘soft’ skills that I need to get better at for this pivot are: time and project management. It seems I end up with more things left to do than finished at the end fo the week (and month)–I know that the main culprit is poor time management (siting outside most of the afternoon, plus taking almost two hours in the morning to ‘wake-up’ before doing anything). This is something I’m working on: I can keep myself off social media (thanks to the app Self Control), but still fine tuning the rest of the day.

Progress not perfection, via small steps and even a winding path are the stepping stones to making lasting habits.

What are some of your time management tools or tricks?

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