Quarterly Resolutions

It’s never too late to make New Year’s Resolutions….or is it?  Maybe these should be my quarterly resolutions, as we are a quarter of the way through the year. The first three months of 2017 have gone by in the blink of an eye, and to be honest, I don’t feel like I’ve been very productive. I’ve managed to start a handful of books, and just completed one tonight, and I’ve had a week off my marathon training, and am nursing a two day old cold. This cold has got me tired and rethinking my priorities. So, before I lose this urge to write, I am going to share my resolutions for the next three months.

  1. Read more. Last year I started instagramming all the books I finished, and making lists of the books I had read and wanted to read in goodreads.  For a while, these apps kept me on track, but then I fell into my old habit of reading too many books at once, and not finishing any of them. And Netflix and cable TV did not help in my literary pursuit. Tonight I finished my first book of 2017 – a true crime, Deadmonton! It’s a small victory, but I hope it will motivate me to read more. My cable has also been cut off, so I have one less distraction.
  2. Stop apologizing and be more direct.  I’ve spent most of my life saying sorry for things that are often not my fault. I’ve spent most of my life stumbling to get what I want because I don’t speak my mind. In my professional and personal life, I have suffered the consequences of this passive behaviour. Today I stopped myself from apologizing to my late student, and informed her that I would charge her for the full session, even though she was 30 minutes late. And you know what? It was easier than I thought, and empowering too. Going forward, I will only apologize when I am in the wrong, and be more direct about what I want.
  3. Make weekly to-do lists. Sometimes I fall into an unproductive rut. I become overwhelmed by the exhaustive lists I write in my head. Although I use an online calendar, I like to breakdown my tasks even more. I’ve started printing out a weekly list that includes things like “lesson preparation”, “go for a run” , “do laundry”, “arrange social activities”, “write a blog post”, “read a book”, “grocery shopping” , and much more. After I complete these tasks, I can check them off and feel a sense of small accomplishment.  I schedule and edit my activities on this Excel sheet, but Coach.me is a great app for checking in, too.
  4.   Write More.  It’s been nearly four months since I updated my blog. My emails are getting poetic, and this is a sign that I need to let my creativity out. I’ve started  reading Eat, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation (Profile Books, 2003) by Lynn Truss and Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen (W.W. Norton & Company, 2016) by Mary Norris.  I tuned into Michael Hyatt‘s online webinar, The Busy Person’s Guide to Writing a Book the other week.  I love writing….I do. I do want to write a book one day, but I am a procrastinator and a perfectionist, who is too timid (lazy?) to get serious about it.  Anyhow, I want to write more, so I will write more.

Since this is my quarterly list, I’ve kept it short and sweet. I find resolutions are more digestible in small bites. What are your quarterly resolutions?

Making my phone smart: Pocket, Coach.me and Goodreads

At 35, I decided that I truly wanted a smart phone. It was time to go beyond Facebook, Pinterest, and Angry Birds. While those apps served as great distractions in my twenties, it was time to level up and make the most out of my idle time. Now, with apps like Pocket, Coach.me, and Goodreads, I’m smartening up, and using my time with technology wisely.

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Pocket.  The Pocket app lets you easily find, save, and share articles, videos and other online content.  The beauty of the app is that it allows you to “pocket” your findings for later, off-line consumption. In the morning, I’ll save a bunch of articles and read them throughout the day. It’s perfect for those days that I forget my book at home.  Also, before long journeys, I’ll browse Pocket for some interesting reads, and then read them off-line on my mode of transportation.  Last year, I saved an article about the history of the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, and it kept me awake (and disturbed) during my flight from Calgary to Victoria. I used to proudly assert that I was an INFJ, the Advocate, but now I am not only hesitant to put myself in that box, but to identify with a test that was created by such a woman. Curious? Here’s the article: Uncovering the Secret History of Myers-Briggs.  Of course, there are a wide range of articles to be pocketed in Pocket. The most recent recommendation for me is The 7 Fatal Flaws of Thinking — and How to Fix Them. Pocket is the app that feeds my curious mind.

Coach.me. This app lets you track your habits, set goals, and connect with an online community. Do you want to meditate everyday? Are you trying to create a daily writing habit? Do you want to know how others stay motivated? With Coach.me, you can create or join goals, give props (thumbs up) to support others, and ask questions to help you in your habit shaping. My current goals are Study, Read a book for 30 minutes everyday, Write 500 words a day, Learn to speak a foreign language, no sweets, wake up early, Exercise, Eat breakfast, Drink more water, and Motivational quotes. Some goals are easier to achieve than others, but since I’ve started using Coach.me, I’ve been reading more, and eating breakfast. Baby steps.  Coach.me is the app that keeps me on track, and it comes with messages of encouragement — “Good job, you checked into 3 goals yesterday! I’ll be right here while you eat no sweets, wake up early, and  study (hard).”

Goodreads.  This app lets you rate the books you’ve read, stack your virtual shelves with the books you want to read, and track the progress you’ve made on the books you’re reading. It’s fun to check out the books your friends are reading, and receive suggestions based on your favourite genres or the books you’ve already read. Recently, I’ve also started tapping into reviews, especially when I’m reading a book that has received rave reviews, but I’m not feelin’ it. It’s validating to read a review that reflects your thoughts; it’s comforting to know that even though a book’s a New York Times Bestseller, you’re not alone in your struggle to finish it.  Goodreads is the app that keeps my reading habit alive and lets me indulge in my nerdy side. 

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These are the apps making my phone smart, and in turn, making me smarter, too.  Technology is a double-edged sword; it has the power to boost our creativity and make us more knowledgeable about the world, but it can also do just the opposite.  At the end of the day, it’s up to the user. Do you want to be used by technology or do you want to use technology? With Pocket, Coach.me, and Goodreads, I feel like I am using technology and making smarter choices, but they are still distractions. Sometimes it is better to just sit with my idle time or go fly a kite.

I'd rather fly a kite than play with my phone!
I’d rather fly a kite than play with my phone!