Sunday on my mind

Sunday in Bed

It was a day I shouldn’t have climbed out of bed.

In keeping with a new resolution, last Sunday morning I headed to the swimming pool. I used to swim a lot, but that was a couple of decades ago. I’m painfully aware of the weight I’ve put on since then, and my reduced flexibility.

I’m aware that several repetitions are required before an action can be completed a habit. This was to be my second visit to the pool, so not anywhere near a habit yet. I donned the togs and made the 20 minute walk to the pool. It was only when standing at the reception desk, I realised I had left my purse at home.

That meant an about turn and quick trip home. On the way, I questioned myself whether I would abandon the swim, but I’m pleased to report I grabbed the purse and returned to the pool. No chickening out. I even clocked up more laps than the week before.

I didn’t notice until this morning, but I left my shampoo and conditioner at the pool. That was silly move number two. Not smart given they were not the usual supermarket brands.

Back from the pool, shampooed, dried and dressed again, I decided to make a train trip down the coast to see a section of Melbourne I hadn’t visited before. A great feature of Melbourne is the public transport system, and in this situation I could board a train at the station in front of my apartment building, and alight at the station on the beach front. What could be easier? It was roughly an hour trip, but I had a new book with me and was looking forward to a break from inner city life.

I got to the barrier gate at the station and then remembered I had left my pre-paid transit card in the pocket of a jacket – hanging up in my wardrobe. I had to run back to my apartment, search through the jackets until I found the card and run back to the station again. Phew.

The train journey required a change of train at Flinders St Station. As there was a short delay before the second train was due to leave, I decided to buy a cup of coffee. I felt I’d earned it after all that rushing around. I’d taken my keep cup with me, so was happy that I wasn’t adding to land fill with a disposable coffee cup.

I took a back pack with me to carry my bits and pieces on my beach trip. I don’t know about you, but whatever I want is always at the bottom of the pack. I had to rummage through the pack to find my wallet, removing some items as I did so. You can guess what happened. As I was summonsed to another end of the counter to collect my coffee, I left my sunglasses on the counter of the café. My favourite sunglasses. Not happy, Jan.

Time to take a deep breath and keep my wits about me. At least I managed some serious reading time on the train.

A slowing down – sort of

Last night I watched a program on the ABC on the slow movement.  Titled Frantic Family Rescue, it detailed the efforts of three families to slow down the frantic pace of their lives, guided by journalist Carl Honoré.  Honoré is the author of “In Praise of Slow” and an advocate of the slow movement.

Slow-Life

 

The pressures of my frantic life are not a revelation to me, nor are my regrets about the toll on the life of my son during his formative years.  For financial reasons it seemed that I had little choice as I tried desperately to support us in the face of inadequate employment and compensation.  Perhaps I didn’t try hard enough, or explore alternative options but I am not interested in beating myself up over something that I can’t change now.

I am interested in making positive changes from here on however and am considering how I can make that happen, whilst still doing what I need to do.  A key component of the experiment that was shown on television is the reduction of screen time.  At a time when I am in the process of establishing an online-based business, that would appear to be a challenge, as of course is the whole concept of slowing down.  I’m not prepared to put it in the too hard basket though.

Looking realistically at my day, I haven’t been using my time very effectively.  Working from home can be an easy way of losing focus and succumbing to diversions.  So … I am planning my day the evening before, making a realistic list of what needs to be achieved and am blocking out the time for the various tasks in my Outlook Calendar.  I know that one can use Tasks for tracking but I have never found that it worked well for me.  If anything I get irritated by the pop-ups, so Calendar it is.  I’m starting each day with one of those irritating phone calls that I usually need to make – to banks or utility companies or whatever where you know that you will be confronted with layers of confusing menus and then put on hold for ages.  Getting those calls out of the way early in the day and spreading them out over the days in the week is a sanity-saving strategy.

I am also scheduling some time away from the computer – i.e. weeding a patch of the garden, raking up the leaves, going for a walk.  I am not blocking out 9-5 totally, as there needs to be flexibility in the day to allow for the unexpected, or tasks that arise during the day (thanks email).  I am also alternating tasks so that I don’t get bored with the tedium and become less effective.  I figure that if I can maximise my productiveness during the day, I don’t have to work on the business at night.  I can read or joy or joys, I can work on the next novel manuscript.

An important part of my regime is going to bed at a reasonable time and this is going to take some working on.  I know that I would benefit from more sleep.  Supporting that goal is turning off screens at least half an hour before that so that I have wind-down time.  OK, I know that there should probably be more screenless time, but I’m working on it – okay?  It will just be checking emails and of course if I am working on the manuscript then probably I will have been typing.

Even more radical will be giving myself guilt-free weekends.  In all of my home-based businesses in the past, I have worked on them every day, and have felt incredibly guilty when domesticity has taken me away from those tasks.  Taking my weekends back feels incredibly self-indulgent but that’s what I am doing from now on.

My diversionary activity through the day is typically scanning through online media sites.  When there is no water-cooler activity happening in your workspace, there is a craving for some interaction and information about what is happening in the world.  My very first time block therefore is for reading the various sites.  I am not going to stop doing it, but I’m going to contain it to a reasonable time slot.

The other activity that I have introduced is walking and no, I am not actually scheduling this one.  This is first thing in the morning to blow away the cobwebs and to make a good start to the day.  With our recent wintry and drizzly weather, gloves and raincoat are my friends but I am still walking.  Sometimes I combine it with a supermarket trip so the car gets to stay in the drive.  Saving fuel – woo hoo!

This is a time of transition for me and I think that my recent redundancy has probably given me a gift.  What are your slow living strategies?  Please share them here.  What have the benefits been to you? I am interested in any tips you might have.