life, productivity system, writing

10% Done (ish), Plus Planning System Updates

“Ish” because I suspect this draft is going to run longer than my work usually does. Regardless, I hit 10,000 words yesterday.

Today marks seven weeks I’ve been using the new long-term goal tracking system, so I figured it was time for an update. The short version: it’s working well.

Even if it adds to the mess on the wall, I enjoy being able to see at a glance my major areas of effort, what’s stuck and what’s moving along. It’s an effective information radiator. Some of the pages could use redesigning, so I might try some experiments with that next month. For instance, it might be useful to have more granularity on my “work happiness” chart, and I find keeping track of the hours I spend writing to be a chore that I end up avoiding. Most days I work in such chopped-up blocks, it’s hard to tell how much time I spent on it anyway (maybe I should try to change that). The weekly check-in is a vital component of the system, so I’m happy to find that it’s been easy to maintain. The whole process is lightweight enough that it’s not another thing on the To-Do List.

As far as the goals themselves, progress has been hit or miss–but at least I know that, which means that I can dig into how that progress or lack of it has affected me, and try different strategies for improving the situation.

The needle hasn’t moved at all on the savings goal, but that’s because we paid off a massive chunk of debt last month. Since then I’ve been waiting until we can put in a big lump into the savings account, but maybe I should make smaller transfers more frequently. Same end result, and I might feel happier, so that’s worth trying.

We made significant progress on the home improvement goal. I wrote up a household budget that reflects my new job. We had a contractor come over to look at the list of things I’d like done. He’s supposed to get us an estimate next week, at which point we can put that into the budget and figure out a schedule–very exiting.

Creative progress has been lopsided. Book drafting is going well, helped along by a quiet week at work. I set myself a modest daily target of 500 words, and am taking breaks to outline so I don’t get stuck. I’m getting used to Scrivener. No news on any of the queries I sent in September yet. Art has been trickier. I signed up for a Skillshare project that involves doing daily prompts in October, and I’ve missed a few days of that already. I enjoy doing the actual drawings (though I had to diverge quite a bit from the instructor’s style, which isn’t me at all). It might be that this approach isn’t quite right for me. Still, I’m going to try to finish out the month and see what else I learn from the experience.

And work has been just fine so far, albeit quiet as noted. I don’t think that’s going to last forever. Pretty soon I’m going to have to declare the settling-in period done with, and figure out what happens next.

So much for the long-term goals. The one area that feels neglected is the one that doesn’t have a chart. It doesn’t have a chart because it’s a grab bag of habits with too many inputs and no measurable “finished” state (I’ve been reading a book on OKRs, can you tell). I could add a habit tracker to the set, but I feel like having five things on the wall would push the whole thing across the line into being another source of stress. Nobody needs that. The joy of filling in squares in my bullet journal clearly isn’t sufficient motivation.

Some stuff has been going okay–I’ve been adhering to the Couch to 5k schedule for a month now (yeah, I’m doing that again after a summer where it was too hot to move most days), got a 15-day Duolingo streak, and I have been doing a little better than usual at keeping on top of household chores. I think my next step is to add another small habit, focusing more on restoration than productivity this time. I’m encouraged by the success I’ve had with reintroducing French practice to my schedule this month; I just need to find a good spot in my schedule.

So overall, things are good at the micro level; most of the stress these days is coming from stuff well outside of my personal sphere.

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