How did I do in July?

Savings: 0. No progress
Debt: roughly £2500 (overdraft, credit card, a couple of personal loans, a couple of random bills). No progress
Extra money made: 0. No progress
Novel: 6903 words. Veeeeery slow progress, and a long way behind schedule
Running: 8 runs, average 11’21/mile, 23.92 miles. Farthest run: 4 miles. Kind of backwards progress on this one, because I’ve strained my ankle. I tried to keep running through it thinking I was being lazy, but I’m having a proper week off before I try again. Frustrating though.
Best streak: Track spending (7 days in a row)
Worst longest streak: Money writing (0 days)

Black marks: Not a very good effort all round- a backwards step from the previous month. I also backslid on something I’d been doing well on since the beginning of the year, which was going out and drinking less. I had a couple of all-nighters, one of which resulted in me being spectacularly late for work, to the point I’d be on very thin ice if I hadn’t already given in my notice.

Bright spots: Love life pretty good. Gave in my notice, which will hopefully give me the Fear (although it’s not yet shown up.) Room is tidy. Spoke a fair bit of Japanese. Had fun (poss too much though.)

August daily goals: No drinking, no smoking, track spending, no eating out alone, under calorie goal, exercise, tidy room, chore, money writing, blog, novel.

My favourite productivity apps

As someone who is chronically lazy and disorganized, I’ve been trying for years to find a system that will get me achieving at least a small fraction of what I’d like to get done. I’ve experimented with written checklists, star charts and posters, many involving elaborate calculations which ultimately proved unsustainable (I’ve done 33% of my daily tasks and 4 out of 5 *bonus* tasks, which added to my weekly score of 14/49 gives me a grand total of ‘Fuck this’). Since I got a smartphone I’ve found better success with apps. My phone is rarely out of my hand so they’re always available, I find a shiny app with nice pictures and swishy noises motivating, and if you abandon it and want to use it again at a later date you can just open your account and your information is still there. These are the five I’m currently using.

1. Chains.cc

It’s free and available on desktop and mobile.  It’s very simple to use. You add your goal, if you do it that day you swipe right (on mobile). The noise it makes when you swipe is very satisfying.

Chains-1
The daily view

Your chain appears in the monthly view (on smartphone you just turn your phone landscape to view this).

Chains-2

You can choose the icon for each chain. If you like you can have the goal only active on certain days of the week (for example, if ‘cycle to work’ is only active on weekdays, you don’t break your chain by not doing it at the weekend).

I’ve been using it for years, off and on. I’ve come back to it recently and find it much the best app for daily goals. The main problem with how I use it is indecisiveness and overloading goals. I decide there’s something else I need to be doing each day, I add a extra chain, until it gets to about 20, then I realise this is unfeasible and delete them. There’s no way to just hide or recover an old chain, so the information is gone. But if you have fewer goals, or are more set on them, then you probably won’t have this problem.

2. Balanced

I’ve experimented with a few ways to use Balanced. It’s similar to Chains, except you can set frequencies of less (or more) than daily: for example, three times a week. I’ve therefore rededicated it to my ‘nice to dos’ rather than ‘must dos’; reading, socialising, etc. Again, my main problem is being over-optimistic about how much I can get done- even at once a week, they seem to cone round quickly. The free version allows only 5 tasks, which might have been better for me. I bought the £2.99 free version, which gives you unlimited tasks. I mainly think it’s a very nice-looking app.

Apps-1Apps-2

3. Todoist

Another one I’ve been flapping about with for a while. There was a period when I was very depressed when I set things like ‘brush teeth’ and ‘eat breakfast’ as daily repeating tasks, without which I may never have brushed my teeth or eaten breakfast. These (happier) days I’m using it as a traditional to-do list, for non-repeating chores. Using all three- Todoist, Balanced and Chains- may be overkill, but I really find keeping all three types of goal/task in the same place a little overwhelming.

Apps-6

4. Atracker

This is a recent addition. My goals for language learning are usually to study for a certain amount of time a day. I wanted a app that would time all the increments of study to add up to an hour. After looking at a few timer-based apps I settled on this one. You simply tap the task you want to start timing, stop when you’ve done. I’ve read people extolling the virtues of time-tracking, but it seems like the kind of thing that I use to trick myself into thinking I’m doing something.

5. Dropbox

Apps-8

Not quite the same as the others, but for someone as disorganized as me installing Dropbox a few years ago was one of the best decisions I’ve made. As well as being disorganized, I’m whatever the opposite of a hoarder is- I throw things out and delete things all the time without really thinking about it. I don’t, for example, have a copy of my master’s thesis (I’m not sure whether that was deliberate or not; it was not great, to be honest). But automatically saving everything to Dropbox changed the game. I don’t have to make calculations about what is important enough to go in there if I everything does. Since I got a smartphone, having the Dropbox app on there too has saved my bacon a number of times. For example, when I needed my passport and didn’t have it with me I was able to show a photo of it from my ‘visa’ folder and that was good enough.

 

 

Do you have any apps you can’t do without?

Update- Sunday 26th June 2017

1. Write a blog post

2. Work on novel

0 words. Total word count: 4006

3. Exercise

✔ Ran 7 miles. It was easier than I was expecting, since I only did one run in the rest of the week.

4. Under calorie limit

✔ 1750 cal

5. No eating out alone

✔ Mainly stayed in

6. Tidy room

✔Had a bit of a shock when I found an enormous blood stain on the floor, but it turned out to be melted chocolate from my choc ice.

7. Chore

✔Paid rent (on time!)

8. Study Japanese

✔1 hour. Memrise vocab and textbook homework.

9. Study French

✔1 hour. Memrise vocab.

10. Cultural/social activity

✔Watched two films: World of Tomorrow and Brief Encounter. The latter was on Youtube, accompanied by this comment:

Screenshot 2017-06-25 19.45.14
Laura’s going back to her husband? THANKS, OBAMA

 

Daily score: 9/10

Living now

“Live well and live broadly. You are alive and living now. Now is the envy of all of the dead.”

World of Tomorrow

The problems

I turned 29 in January, and that was the point when I decided to sort myself out. Yes, age is arbitrary and meaningless and just a number, and 30s are the new 20s, and so on and so forth.  But to be honest, we all know that 30 is really the cut-off point for bumbling around the world doing badly at all things, and if you’re not more or less sorted out you’re doomed to be a failure and a disappointment to your mother forever. I’ve done a lot of things sub-optimally, including jobs (especially keeping them); relationships (especially keeping them); money (especially keeping it). I drink too much, often, and smoke, sometimes. I’m chubby, disorganized, and chronically late. Sometimes I haven’t been very nice to people. Most importantly, I haven’t found what I really want to be doing in life.

Since January I haven’t done so very badly in making some life improvements. Today I’m sitting in a clean room, having run 7 miles and done my Japanese homework. I am vastly less hungover than one would traditionally expect to find me on a Sunday, since I excused myself at midnight  and went home, rather than following my friends to Roppongi to listen to house music (and having typed those words I’m feeling another rush of joy that I didn’t do that). So I’m doing quite a good impression of someone who has their life together. But not having spent the day lying in bed surrounded by crisp packets is a bare minimum goal, so let’s go for a bit better than that.

Long-term goals

  1. Be financially stable with a job I enjoy
  2. Be healthy (and, more shallowly, a touch thinner)
  3. Be productive and organised
  4. Be good at things
  5. Be an interesting person
  6. Achieve something I’m proud of

Daily goals

And the daily goals that will hopefully get me there. Flitting around with goal setting is another one of my vices, so I’m going to stick to this list for at least a month.

  1. Write a blog post
  2. Work on novel
  3. Exercise
  4. Under calorie limit
  5. No eating out alone
  6. Tidy room
  7. Chore
  8. Study Japanese
  9. Study French
  10. Cultural/ social activities