Cold turkey week four – the end

Wow, that was a pretty quick 30 days huh?

As I wrote last week, not wasting time is a pretty amorphous aim, and apparently it’s easier to add a habit or change a habit if it’s something concrete.

When I started this 30 day challenge, I wrote:

No pfaffing around on the internet, no spider solitaire, no seven-tabs-open-I’ll-read-it-later. If I click on a link I have to read it all and then close the tab. And I’ve downloaded freedom so I can block my internet access.

Well, I used freedom once but found that blocking everything just meant I ended up with a list of studies to look up later. On Lauren B’s suggestion I tried leechblock, so I could choose what to block (twitter and email, I’m looking at you) and still have access to the uni library. That was much better because I could look up a study when I came across it and quickly decide if it was a keeper.

But this is about more than just my doctorate – it’s also about doing the things that are always on my list but never get crossed off. So, when I write in my diary (the 2011 type, not the Dear Diary type) things like “go for a walk” and “call the builder” and “call Wendy”, I’m putting a time next to them and at that time I will do those things.

Yeah, I didn’t end up any better at this. But I did get to tell you a story last week about my Dad, which probably gave him a smile before he and Mum went off to Tajikistan.

But I have been better – more focussed – about my research. I’ve been reading, and writing, and thinking.

And I’ve also been free.

At ManFriend’s Masters graduation yesterday (yes, we are now a Master Master household), Alex Malley, the CEO of CPA Australia, gave a speech about how you shouldn’t be afraid to fail. When you’re scared of failure, it’s easy to forget that it isn’t going to kill you. He also said you shouldn’t be afraid to quit a job if it goes against what you believe in. I was nodding so hard I almost pulled a muscle in my neck. I had been working two days a week in a newsroom whose entire approach to news I fundamentally disagreed with, and for someone I had absolutely no respect for. I kept telling myself that it paid the bills, but it was making me feel sick with myself for doing it. I felt dirty, and not in the good way. That’s disappointing. So I quit. And it feels so good. And that person I didn’t respect? They’ve been reading my blog every day to see if I write about them. Talk about pathetic.

Anyway, removing that – I feel like saying “impacted bowel” – has made me feel a lot lighter. And this lightness has allowed me to give more of my thinking time over to my doctorate. So while quitting that job wasn’t directly related to this 30 day challenge, it has been a part of it. I haven’t become Super Productive Person (that would have to be a nerd superhero), but I am more productive than I was 30 days ago. And since it apparently takes 66 days to create a habit, I’m halfway there. (But don’t worry, I won’t keep blogging about it.) The hardest part of the challenge has been to keep the idea of it in my attention. Maybe I should have used some post-it notes?

I want to finish with a bit of shameless self-promotion. I’m a finalist in the 2011 Best Australian Blogs competition, in the commentary category. I’m up against four great blogs so it’s very flattering that I’m in that league. I’ve also been nominated for the People’s Choice award. Hint hint. The blogs are listed alphabetically and I’m under T, which is where I should be. (I have this argument with friends all the time. When alphabetising cds, The Cramps should be filed under T because The is a significant word in their band name. If they didn’t think The was an important part of their name, they’d just be Cramps.)

So, how did everyone else go? With the challenge, not with alphabetising their cds.

11 responses to “Cold turkey week four – the end

  1. I wasn’t brave enough for the challenge but I want to congratulate you on quitting your job. Here’s to a dickhead free life!

  2. Well, that did go quick! Awesome to hear about you being more focused in your writing and reading more, because if this reading challenge that I’ve taken on, it’s made me want to be a bit more active in my own blogging / writing. I think after I finish my latest book (Ahn Do’s ” The Happiest Refugee” – which I nearly have finished by the way, so I suppose my aim of a book a week has *almost* been achieved, ) I’m going to start another challenge and head into writing more and more by restarting my blog and just looking at ways to submit articles for various places once I gain more confidence. Reading your blog and these books certainly has me inspired in a way.

    One thing I also have learnt that over the last three weeks is how important making these things a habit are. It seems hard at first to find time to read a book, but if you stick to your guns, it just gets easier and easier over a while and that you just find a time.

    Congrats on your nomination by the way. I hope you win – as a long time reader (but new commentator) it’s deserved!

    • Philippe, thank you. The nomination is very exciting.

      You’re absolutely right – it is important to make a habit of things that are important to you. Otherwise you’ll always talk about how you’re going to do them, but never do them.

      I’d love to read your blog, by the way. And I’m glad the challenge meant something to you.

  3. Hey Kim, my blog is called Little Perceptions (http://littleperceptions.com). Feel free to drop by. I haven’t updated it since March, and before then since December. It’s just somewhere where I rant about anything really, although the posts on the front page are just Formspring questions at the moment :P.

  4. Kim
    the only thing I can say about any challenge not to “waste” time is that sometimes you just have to take a deep breath and allow your self just to be in the moment.

    Om Shanti

    • Oh, I agree. I do have a rather zen approach to time, but I just wasn’t doing enough work on my PhD and instead of doing things I enjoyed, I was just doing things to avoid doing work. So by making myself accountable to you guys, I hoped that I would have a more mindful approach to what I was doing. And it worked. I have done more in the last four weeks than I had done in four months. And still got to read non-doctorate books and sit and listen to music and cook lovely dinners and spend time with Lexy and her gorgeous little baby, and earn too many hangovers.

  5. Hi there- I’ve only just come across your blog as its on the competition list (which I hadn’t heard of, either). Thanks for reminding me to become more focused on my dissertation again. I was really good for most of last year, but during the last 2 months I’ve really slacked off. I should have finished by November, or failing that, March. The local government department which was supposed to supply some data for me to analyse has held me up- I got some stuff in January that I expected in August and the 2nd lot hasn’t turned up, so I’m just using the first batch. My deviance is displaying itself as Internet skating- I’m here there and everywhere on my social networks, Academia.edu, ResearchGate and blog commenting. I MUST do Masters work during the day and leave those naughty interwebz for the evenings! Thanks again (at least it’s evening while I’m commenting!).

    • Murfomurf, welcome to the News with Nipples. Yes, you must do some more work on your dissertation *cracks whip*. It’s hard, isn’t it? You’re so close to finishing now, you must be able to feel it in your bones.

  6. Congrats on the freedom from the icky job, I’ll bet that feels fantastic!

    My school holiday nocturnal tendencies were abruptly confounded over the Easter weekend by the fact that the catered breakfasts were served at 7am. Mind you, I didn’t go to bed particularly early any of the 5 nights we were there on account of the feasting and mead drinking and sitting around the fire and bardic competition and food fight and…um…I had fun 🙂

    I too will continue (or, perhaps more accurately, restart) my get up early and have panic free mornings challenge, but I might be a bit kinder to myself and make it 6:30am instead of 6:00.

    (My cds are mostly alphabetised, except for the ones that are randomly strewn about the house…)

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