The main purposes of a Weekly Review are (a) track the onboarding of new habits and/or mindset changes, (b) get direct feedback on progress towards mid-term goals and (c) a top-down view of how time/resources are allocated each week. See my other weekly reviews here.
How did we do this week?
This week’s spreadsheet:
Total Focus Time: 4.62 hours per day
Work Time: 4.07 hours per day
Training Time: 0.55 hours per day
Work focus stayed essentially the same, but we got some more training in this week. It kind of looks like we stalled, but hours per week aren’t the whole story.
But let’s look at some context.
This week was another hectic travel week: three different airports, hours on run-down Chinese buses, poor internet connectivity (damn the Great Firewall), reunions with relatives, etc. If anything, the theme for this week was to “Hold the line!”
I knew prior to this week that it would be nigh impossible to both keep up training and maintain a regular work schedule. Hell, this country doesn’t even have coffee. I went into it with the goal of “Hold the line!” instead. The goal this week was to try to improve, but be satisfied with status quo.
And, in that regard, I deserve a pat on the back.
What went well this week?
The biggest spreadsheet change from last week was the “Virtues Checklist”. The idea, in brief, was to sculpt personal change by reinforcing certain types of behavior. More on this in another post, but the basics were:
- Smile – Go out of your way to make somebody (a friend, a stranger, anybody) smile once a day.
- Spiritual – Spend a block of time every day *not* doing things for personal gain. This means no time tracking, no “studying”, no income generation. Read a good fiction book, go see some friends, look into the sky and enjoy the clouds, etc.
- Fortitude – Build mental toughness by designing a willpower goal for yourself based on the day’s circumstances. Hungry? Let operating without hunger be your goal. Raining? Get wet and laugh at it. Bored? Deal with it.
These were a fantastic change–the best I’ve made yet! Because I wanted a little green checkbox in my spreadsheet (silly, I know), I found myself going out of my way to make someone smile or reframing a perceived negative event into a positive one.
These are basic principles that we know make people satisfied, happier and more capable in a variety of situations, but my biggest problem has always been converting knowledge into action. This virtues checklist gives me a way to take knowledge, program it into an achievable set of week goals, and execute to reinforce that behavior.
I hit a turning point this week. For years and years, my go-to activity when mentally fatigue was some sort of video entertainment. It used to be anime and Japanese TV shows. Recently, it was online streaming of poker and online games.
No matter how much I “willed” it, the change wasn’t happening. I would try to resist, give in, feel guilty, and do it all over again.
Somehow, being present, tracking my wasted time, and adding to my awareness of the little “triggers” throughout the day that would send me down the path of no return has helped. The amount of wasted garbage time has drastically fallen.
And this is a win-win scenario too. I waste less time. This means my brain is less clouded. I have more time to focus on other types of activities as well. My sleep quality increases. This was always the biggest monster for me, and now I can see the light at the end.
Basically, this was a week filled with many small victories. And all the green on the spreadsheet supports that. I’ve come to see the spreadsheet tracking as a form of meditation–it requires awareness of your day to day action and provides direct feedback on the choices you make in a day.
What’s changing for next week?
The only qualm I had with this week’s spreadsheet was how high adherence was. When I start succeeding too much, I start to worry that I’m not setting the bar high enough.
Still, this particular setup worked quite well this week, and I’d like to give it another week of testing under more “stable” scenarios (Thailand next week!). Get some more information about where the leaks are.
I’m did some basic pruning (moving training to another spreadsheet), and that’s it!
Next week’s spreadsheet:
Let’s keep the ball rolling.