You Get What You Measure

Yes, it’s another one of my accountability posts. Someone who managed a volunteer organization I’m affiliated was always saying it, and I think there are real limitations to it. But when you’re trying to change habits, as I almost always am, accountability is an important step to keep you on track.

So my goals, for the moment, are to write on my “fiction” project (that isn’t at all fictional yet) for 20 minutes a day, and to work out for at least 20 minutes a day. And this week, that’s been very doable.

I think one of the challenges I’ve faced in making either of these a daily commitment is that I’ve been trying to throw hours at both of them, and I don’t have that many hours. Yes, yes, we all have the same number of hours, but I don’t have that many hours that aren’t already allocated to other things. And there are times when 20 minutes of effort in either area does me no good. I could totally work out from 11:05 p.m. to 12:05 a.m. pretty much every day of the week, if I wasn’t also trying to get enough rest to one day get to work on time. I can write at that time, too, but in terms of disrupting my sleep or generating quality, it’s something less than ideal.

Right now, my answer is to put them in a lunch hour. I’m bad about taking a real lunch hour— it’s the first thing to go when I get busy, but it’s a much needed break.

I haven’t found the perfect way to do it— yesterday, I walked for 15-20 minutes, then grabbed lunch quick, then took 20 minutes to write. Because I was at my desk for the latter two, I got repeatedly interrupted. It would be good if I did this somewhere else, but being somewhere else tends to mean I take more than an hour, which is something else I’m trying to avoid doing.

Other days, I’ve been able to do working out at home at night, early enough that it doesn’t interfere with my sleep.

It’s possible that 20 minutes a day isn’t enough of either thing to make a difference. But I have 80 minutes more writing to show for this week than I’ve had since September, and I’m exploring an idea I’ve wanted to explore. So I’m quoting a friend, who’s always saying “some is better than none,” and calling it a win.

The other thing I’ve managed to do is to drastically reduce the quantity of my visits to the company candy bowls. I’ve kept to one a day, which is better than my recent track record. I’ve cut back some on my diet soda addiction and increased the water and herbal tea that I drink. As a result, I’m seeing some preliminary weight loss. Not a lot, but I’ll take what I can get, especially at this time of year, especially from incremental changes.

So it’s a start. I’ll keep measuring, I’ll keep trying to do small things— not get back to daily workouts of an hour apiece from sporadic at best working out, but 20 minutes. 20 minutes of writing. 20 minutes of putting things back where they belong. Some. Is. Better. Than. None.

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