So these days I find myself with a lot of time on my hands. This is a good thing. The last eight years have been a whirlwind of busyness, some good, some unnecessary, yet all contributing to a bone-deep weariness that I didn’t know I felt. Until I stopped.
You would think I would spend my time off reading, sleeping, catching up with old friends, and I have, but it only took a couple of weeks of complete nothingness to restore me, at least mentally, to fighting fitness.
I need goals. I need things I can tick off–to do lists, benchmarks, upwardly-trending graphs, color-coded charts . . . anything to make me feel . . . productive, alive!
I know, it’s a sickness. But awareness is the first step towards . . .
Where was I?
Ah yes, goals. I need some. For this summer. Good goals. Manageable ones. So here’s what I came up with:
1. Walk every day.
2. Eat healthily
Not bad, right? Isn’t this what we all want for ourselves? A good, healthy, wholesome life?
Yeah, except I lied. My actual list looks something like this:
1. Walk every day . . . for five miles.
2. Eat healthily . . . time to lose weight, plumpy!
3. Meditate . . . 10 minutes a day
4. Write a blog post . . . three times a week
5. Write a book (???) . . . doesn’t everyone have that on their list?
6. Do yoga . . . twice a week
7. Learn Italian
8. Learn something in addition to Italian
And pretty soon, my calendar looked something like this:
But the colors look so pretty right? Who wouldn’t want such a colorful day!
Opening up the calendar every morning makes me feel happy, makes me feel anchored in a weird way, like the day is real because I have all these cute, colored, rectangles staring back at me.
Okay, so I accept that this is wrong, that I have simply substituted one kind of busyness for another, but I am helpless in the face of my sickness! (Not really, but drama is my strong suit, so I’m going with it!) In fact, I have double-downed on this madness and have decided that it’s not enough to just make goals and calendar them, but that I must also track them to see the progress I am making.
This takes some doing.
Four doings, actually:
1. I track the time I am spending on each activity using an app called Toggl. Toggl is pretty simple to use. You open up the app (either on your PC or mobile device), select a project you want to work on (in my case that would be either blog, book, Italian, etc.), and start a timer going. When you have finished working on that project, just stop the timer and the app creates a neat little entry for you in its database, like so:
If you forget to set the timer before you start your project, no problem, you can also manually enter the time spent into the app.–how helpful!
2. I use another app., MapMyWalk, to help me track my activity for the day. It’s a mobile app. that I can control using my phone, so I just strap it on (the phone, that is), hit the “start workout” button, and I’m on my way. The nice thing about this app is that it tracks many things–your speed, your time, your mileage (of course), but also your split times (time per mile), and it maps the route you took and allows you to save it, so that you can retrace your route on another walk should you choose to. And as if that’s not enough, the map integrates with many other health apps.–MyFitnessPal for example–that you may use to track other health metrics, such as nutrition etc., and sends your workout information to whichever app you choose. Not bad, eh?
3. Next, I transfer all this information from both Toggl and MapMyWalk to a spreadsheet (of course a spreadsheet! Preferred enabler of all anal-retentives!), with a tab for each goal:
In this spreadsheet, I track several key data points: Miles, Time in minutes, Steps, etc. For my writing goals, I track other metrics such as word count, accomplishments, etc.
You will notice that I also have a tab for Weekly totals where I track the progress I am making each week. And soon, at the end of the month, I will have another tab to track my Monthly totals. So neat. So tidy.
4. And finally, each day I look at the spreadsheet, and I write in my journal, reflecting on my day and on my progress (or lack thereof). I haven’t been too good at this final step. Most days I’m just too worn out from all the ticking.
So there you have it! A rich, full, summer!
Look, there’s no sense waggling your finger at me. I know this is crazy, and I choose it anyway. Think of it as methadone for workaholics–easing the transition from sickness to health (one calendar entry at a time)!
How about you? Are you a track-a-holic? What are you tracking, and how’s it going for you?
Let me know in the comments below.