📚Noisy Deadlines

journal

I started running again the last couple of weeks. The first week I was running around my neighborhood, mainly a residential area using the sidewalks. But this week I explored a trail that is part of the Trans Canada Trail (aka The Great Trail), which is a cross-Canada system of trails running from the east to the west coast.

In the area near my home, this trail is located where once there was a Railway, so it’s a straight line and connects to cities to the west of Ottawa, which is pretty cool. It should be a nice bike ride (something for later this year).

Trans Canada Trail – I can’t wait to see how the scenery changes from early Spring to Fall

Anyway, I’m still not running 100% of the time, I go for a total distance of 6 km to 7 km (round trip), running for 8 minutes, walking for 2 minutes, and repeating this rhythm till the end. I’ll gradually increase the running time and decrease the rest time as I get more physically fit. I don’t want to hurt myself, and I did the same recipe last year which got me to run non-stop for more than half an hour at a pace of 6:30 min/km after 2-3 months.

#running #journal

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

We have this bookshelf that has never been full. We had it on our previous apartment and when we moved to the townhouse we put it in the living room.

We still don’t have a sofa so our living room looks quite bare right now.

And…you know what? I like it!

I think it’s nice when a room has decor and things hanging on the walls, some of them are really well done. But I don’t see my own space being that busy. First, because I’m frugal, I will never know exactly what to buy and how to coordinate everything. I usually go for practical furniture, that serves a purpose. Second, I don’t like to spend time cleaning stuff. The more items I have the more I need to clean, organize and maintain. I like to live with less. I like to live with the essential. Third, furniture and decor cost money, I don’t like to spend money on things that will not bring value to my life.

I plan on getting a sofa for this room eventually, mostly for the times when we have guests. I still prefer to watch movies or read on the armchair, it’s way better for my back than a sofa.

But for now, the books in this bookshelf are all the physical books I own. They are mostly text-professional related books with no digital alternative or because it was required to have the physical book to write an open-book exam. There are also a couple travel mementos, a thermometer with humidity meter and some reference material from both me and my partner.

This weekend I did some organization on the bookshelf with a few boxes, I filled in two of them, the third one is still empty.

Moving from a one-bedroom apartment to a small townhouse was a huge upgrade for us in terms of having separate spaces. No more having to coordinate time for cooking (which is noisy) when one of us is having a conference call or being distracted by the TV when I wanted to read and my partner was watching a movie. We have our little corners in the house now.

At first I thought that because of the extra space in the townhouse I would turn into a hoarder and start buying all sorts of furniture to fill in spaces to be filled with stuff. But, almost 6 months in, we still have empty corners and empty closets, and that’s okay. I like the minimalist vibe. I hope it stays that way.

#minimalism #house #journal

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

This month I’ve been reading the book “How to Break Up with your Phone” by Catherine Price. It’s a very practical book with exercises to assess how we use our phones, identify if there’s something we want to change, and change it.

This weekend I did the 24 hours phone separation exercise. For about a month the author proposes some activities to help us prepare for this “trial separation”.

Preparation

The preparation activities included:

  • An assessment of my current relationship with my phone: what do I love about it? What I don’t love about it? What changes do I notice in myself when I pick it up and spend time with it? What would I like my new relationship with my phone to look like?
  • Pay attention and notice the situations in which I use my phone. Does my body posture change? What is my emotional state before and after I use it? How do I feel when I realize I don’t have my phone? How do I feel while I’m using it?
  • Track data: I used the iOS Screen Time feature to analyze how many times I picked up my phone and how I used it throughout 1 week.
    • I picked up my phone 27 times per day
    • I spent 2h 40 min on a daily average
  • Delete all social media apps: I’ve done that a couple of years ago.
  • Build a “speed bump” before I pick up my phone. Ask myself the WWW questions:
    • What For: What am I picking my phone to do?
    • Why Now: Why am I picking up my phone now instead of later?
    • What Else: What else could I do right now besides checking my phone?
  • Get in touch with offline activities I enjoy doing (and do them without my phone)
  • Turn off notifications: I’ve done that a couple of years ago. I leave only notifications from “real people” (phone calls, text messages)
  • Delete unused apps, leave only apps that are “tools”. Delete all other “junk food/slot machine” apps.
  • Reorganize the phone Home Screen. Remove all temptations.
  • Stop, breathe, meditate. Practice mindfulness.
Read more...

We’ve had positive temperatures this whole week, and also rain. I’m not wearing my winter coat anymore (you know, the long insulated parka that allows me to walk around when it’s -20C). I can walk around with my short puffy down jacket now and my mild winter boots (not the one with fur inside, rated for -25C).

Snow is melting everywhere, although there are still some ice patches here and there. The trails are starting to get muddy at places, but the one near me still has a squishy snow cover for the most part.

Days are getting longer, so it’s easier to go out for a walk after work. We get back home and there is still some sunlight.

The trees show signs of wanting to sprout some green leaves. There are birds everywhere and we can hear them all the time now. I love this time of year, when colors suddenly come up in all directions.

I’m excited about getting back to running again. I can’t run in the winter, like some people do over snow and ice. My exercise routine this winter was lots of walking and yoga. I still didn’t have the courage to enter a gym because of the pandemic. I’m just waiting for the temperatures to rise to 2 digits (Celsius), then I’ll go out for a run.

Yoga has been great for me actually. I got into the habit of doing 20 minutes every morning after I wake up and my body never felt so good overall. My chronic back pain is gone, and consequently I sleep better now. Sometimes I squeeze in some more intense Vinyasa yoga practice after work or on the weekends and I haven’t had any pains or issues with my back.

Squishy snow and grass and dirt being uncovered

#spring #journal #snow

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

… to pick up a hold and I’m greeted with this Groundhog. 🤓 Yay, more days of reading!

#noisymusings #journal #reading

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I love the first day when snow falls and covers everything in white. It happened today here, which is surprisingly late for my region. I often witness first snow at late October or early November.

It was a lovely day with temperature at around -5C and I finally went for a walk with my partner to explore the trails near our new house.

Having access to trails at walking distance was one of the reasons we moved to this house. I’m glad I finally had time to just walk and enjoy the weather.

#winter #snow #outdoors #journal

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

Overconsumption. I veered off the path of excess consumption of material goods a few years ago. Minimalism was my tool for that. I like the definition given by The Minimalists:

Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

Noticing objects and material stuff around us is easy. It’s visible. We can plan decluttering sessions and visibly see space getting created. Now, what about intangible stuff? Information? Thoughts? Memories? Worry?

I don’t have excess material possessions anymore. Everything I have is enough and fills my needs. That doesn’t mean I live with less than 100 items, it just means I have what I consider is enough for myself and my lifestyle. It’s not about restrictions, it’s about eliminating the superfluous.

But I’ve been consuming and accumulating a lot of digital stuff over the years: hundreds of clipped articles on Evernote, guides and manuals I never read, RSS feeds from dozens of sites, articles to read saved on Instapaper or Pocket, dozens of newsletters cluttering my inbox, social media feeds.

It took a while, but I opted out of many of those digital things and now I think I have only what is meaningful to me:

  • I subscribe to 5 newsletters now, having unsubscribed from dozens in the past months. This amount is not overwhelming to me right now. It feels manageable.
  • I cancelled my Instapaper subscription. I had this idea that I would build a digital library with my notes and all the articles I read over time. I realized it was not important to me. I had more articles than I had time to read them. And the list of unread articles made me feel anxious. So I decided not to collect articles anymore. I much rather read a book.
  • I unsubscribed from dozens (if not hundreds) of RSS feeds. I kept 5 blogs and 1 comic strip (Dilbert) that I still enjoy reading once in a while.
  • I don’t use Evernote anymore. It was too easy to just collect stuff. If I want to take notes I use Standard Notes. Creating > collecting.
  • I stopped listening to a few podcasts. From a list of 15+ podcasts I was subscribed to, I decided to stick with 5 of them. And I don’t feel obliged to listen to all of them. I look at the feed and decide if it is an episode that interests me, otherwise, I just delete it.
  • I stopped using social media.
  • I cut down the time I spent watching YouTube. I still enjoy some science-related channels, but since I stopped using social media, I don’t feel the pull to go to YouTube anymore.
  • I still read books. That’s one type of information that energizes me. And opting out of all the other forms of digital consumption gave me more time to enjoy reading.

I've simplified many aspects of my life already. Little things like creating a uniform for myself (black pants and a shirt) to go to work make it super easy to get dressed up. I don't waste energy in the morning choosing this or that fashion trend. It’s liberating. Same thing with my breakfast: I eat the same meal every day. It's automatic: I prepare my omelet in the morning and that's it.

I feel like I have more headspace now. It’s a subtle change, but it’s there. Things are slowing down in my mind. I don't crave newsfeeds anymore. On the contrary, I cringe when I see any type of random automated endless newsfeed now. I feel calmer. I feel like I can make decisions. Even the smallest ones were hard for me at times: What should I choose from the sandwich menu? Which phone call should I make first? Which book should I read? What do I want for dinner? It’s all clearer now.

I've regained my love of reading. And my ability to read for long hours. There is space now!

#noisymusings #journal #minimalism

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

And then anxiety… physical manifestations include light dizziness, butterflies in my belly, light-headed, sweating and even light nausea.

I started this CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and every week I find out more about my thoughts. I never judge or analyze my thoughts. I like talking with myself. So I never realized some of those talks were feeding my anxiety. I just thought I was super organized and liked to have my life under control. And I do. My partner sometimes calls me a “control freak”, in a good way. I’m the organizer and planner of the house. But something happened this past year (maybe it starts with PAN…) that destabilized my planning tendencies.

I’m feeling constantly overwhelmed these days. Especially at work. I can’t close my email tab for fear of missing out on important information and task requests from my manager. I feel like I have to be online and available all the time. If my manager calls me on my mobile and I don’t answer in 3 rings, I think he thinks I’m slacking off at home. I've been having thoughts and thoughts, ruminating on my last phone call conversation, and worrying about all the tasks I still have to finish. I fear my to-do list. It’s scary. I’m having trouble taking notes and deciding what to do next. It seems my work responsibilities are screaming at me all the time and it’s “go, go, go!”.

But I don’t want to go. I want to reflect. I want to breathe…. and then a deadline is coming in 24 hours so I fear it, I don’t stop to take a breath… and boom… anxiety.

On my CBT session today I was doing that exercise about Core Beliefs. The one you try to identify a core belief by completing the phrases: “I am…”, “Others are…”, “The world is…”, “The future is…”. When I got to think about what the world is, my answer was: “The world is cruel and merciless”. My feeling is that the world keeps throwing tasks at me without caring if I can handle them. The world doesn’t care about my feelings. Does it? Anyhow, the point I want to make is that this thought “the world is cruel” seemed so extreme! I was surprised by it. And the consequence is “The future is exhausting”. At least inside my head. What an anxiety-inducing place to be! 😶

So, I will be challenging these beliefs. And I will write about it. I am convinced my thoughts are helping with the overwhelmedness (is that a word?). I’ve never done any type of therapy before and I’m learning a lot.

Less overwhelmed days are coming…

#journal #noisymusings #anxiety

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

For the past month, I've been having overloaded days at work. It has disrupted my routine, my downtime and my sleep. Handling many projects at a time with deadlines within a couple of weeks is not easy! And although I have a productivity system in place, I organize my day, I have routines and I take notes... things started to fall through the cracks. And I caught myself having to work after-hours to finish things. And sometimes I do work a little bit more, let's say once a month before an important deadline. But what happened last week was insane. I was working extra 4-5 hours for 3 days in a row! And that took a toll on my health. By Friday I was lightheaded, sleepy, anxious, brain fogged, exhausted and with a headache... My right shoulder started hurting again (it usually happens if I spend too much time doing intensive mouse work on the computer). I thought I got rid of this pain... but it's back.

I couldn't prioritize anything, I couldn't organize my notes, I couldn't even take a break. Whenever I stopped to try and breathe I started worrying about the things I was not doing. That's anxiety, right?

Anyway, I've been focusing on some habits to get back on track. It takes time, I can't recover in a couple of days. It takes time for me to get back to my baseline. My self-care focus is:

  1. Sleep. Get as much sleep as possible. But still keeping the same wake-up time. I noticed that when I sleep in I wake up feeling like crap and then all my morning routine is easily put aside.
  2. Meditation. 10 minutes in the morning doesn't look like much but it makes a difference. I feel better when I meditate for 15 or 20 minutes. On the days I worked too much, meditating before bed for 10 minutes helped me have a better sleep.
  3. Stretching/Yoga/Moving. I need to move in the morning. It doesn't have to be anything intense, but I need something. I got into a trap: I woke up tired, I barely stretched in the morning, and that made me feel worse throughout the day, and then I didn't sleep well and the whole cycle repeated itself. So, I NEED at least 20 minutes of exercise in the morning. It's vital to manage my chronic pain.
  4. Waking up early even on weekends. This one I've been neglecting for a while. But every time I sleep in, I regret it. Especially when I skip my meditation/exercise routine first thing in the morning.
  5. Journaling/Writing things down. I've been feeling too tired to write at all. I want to get back to writing for longer periods of time. To reflect, focus on feelings, scrutinize thoughts, let them go and wander.
  6. Reading. I've been too foggy-minded and tired to get any amount of quality reading done. This weekend I finally could get back to my normal reading habit.

For my work routines, I will focus on the following:

  1. Check e-mail less frequently I check email too often. In fact, I leave the email tab open at ALL TIMES! I recognized that it is extremely anxiety-inducing. It's one of those old habits that are hard to get rid of. So, this will be a mini-goal for next week: Check e-mail in the morning, at noon and by 3 pm.
  2. Protect my time. I want to be less reactive to other people's demands. I believe avoiding checking my Inbox might help with this. Unless it's something high priority my manager is asking, I'll take my time to get back to people.
  3. Time block my Calendar. I'll plan my day in the morning, blocking off deep work sessions to focus. No cheking email, social media, news, messages, whatever during deep work.
  4. Stop working at 5 pm. As recommended by Cal Newport, I will start a shutdown routine at 4:45 pm so that I'm off at 5 pm. It might help to do a brain dump session at the end of the day to externalize all my worries and transition to my evening rest.

Phew, I feel better writing this down.

#journal #noisymusings #work #anxiety

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.

I love observing the change of seasons. Today my walk looked slightly different. The snow is melting and the downside is that there is still lots of slippery ice on some patches. But the sun is up until 7pm now so no need for the headlight anymore. And the geese and singing birds are back! Signs of Spring!

End of winter feelings

#journal #noisymusings #winter

Thoughts? Discuss...


By Noisy Deadlines Minimalist in progress, nerdy, introvert, skeptic. I don't leave without my e-reader.