On Monday, I started my alcohol-free month (thing 5). I did it in March last year as part of 19 for 2019 and decided to repeat it this year. A few weeks ago I came across The Alcohol Experiment by Annie Grace, which is subtitled “30 days to take control, cut down or give up for good”. I thought “30 day alcohol experiment” sounded better than “no alcohol for a month” so I decided to follow the program in the book for the coming month. Last year I did my month. It was easy, but I gradually slipped back into my old ways, which is not something I wanted to do, and was always a risk after reaching a goal without a clear plan on what I wanted to do afterwards. It means that I still stay up too late, I don’t get enough sleep and I am tired a lot.
The program outlined in this book shows you a new way of thinking about alcohol and “asks you to look a little close about why we drink, what we get out of it and whether it’s really the alcohol that’s giving us what we want”.
There have been some interesting things to think about and challenges to some of my beliefs, so it’s a lot to take in. I think the most important thing that I have learned is that it isn’t a lack of willpower that makes me reach for another wine when I really should have started packing up and getting ready for bed, and that treating myself with compassion for my past “failures” is going to be very important. I’m not very good at that.
The “lack of willpower is not the problem” theory also features in the book Indistractable (thing 13) and Nir Eyal suggests a similar compassionate approach towards yourself when you make a mistake.
I reviewed what I’ve done so far in the book and where I’m up to. I started to feel a bit overwhelmed about some the ideas because I know that they aren’t going to work for me. Scheduling time to reply to emails (chapter 15), for example, might not work in an organisation that relies on email for a lot of its “immediate” interactions. I do this a lot precisely because I don’t want to disturb people by going to talk to the face to face, but actually talking to them would probably save a lot of time when I get into those back and forth email conversations. So, okay, let’s not say never. I will give this a try.
I’m not sure about the stuff on work interruptions (chapter 14). I always thought that putting on headphones meant that you didn’t want to be disturbed but in my workplace, noise canceling headphones are essential to get any work done, not just the work you need to concentrate on because the noise is unrelenting, so people feel quite at liberty to come and talk to me. I think the only way to be truly uninterruptible is to go and work someplace else when you really need to focus. For me, it’s not just the noise, it’s the constant movement in my peripheral vision that keeps me constantly on edge and unable to concentrate, so I don’t even think putting a “do not disturb” sign on my computer would help that. I read somewhere that it’s like your lizard brain constantly scanning the environment for signs that something out there is about to attack you, so you’re always in this semi-alert state, ready to fight or flee if you have to.
I’ve picked a few things out to try rather than go full-on and implement everything at once. I think one important thing to be sure to have is a clear work space around me (chapter 19), which means no phone within reach and only the things I am working on in front of me. I’m very good at clearing the spaces off but not so good at keeping them clear. I let stuff pile up and then I spend ages clearing it off again instead of putting things where they belong in the first place.
Earlier in the year I made a STOP-START-KEEP list, which I hope is pretty self-explanatory. As I discover things I’m doing that aren’t serving me, they go into the STOP section, things I’m doing now that are working well are in the KEEP section and things I want to start doing, well you get the idea. I’m going to add a TRY column to this list for things I might want to start but are more of an experiment than a thing I definitely want to do.
I stuck some more photos from my 2019 photojournal into the book (thing 4) and trimmed all of the ones I printed last week ready to go in the book. I worked on my photo project (thing 1) and completed the last three modules of my uni course (thing 8). I watched a webinar from the wellbeing course (thing 3), which relates the journalling that I need to complete from last year to call this thing done for the year.
Summary for the week
Things completed this week: 0
Things completed to date: 5 (6, 10, 15, 16, 18)
Things I progressed: 7 (1, 3, 4, 5, 8, 13, 14)
Things in progress I didn’t progress: 3 (7, 11, 22)
Things not started: 7 (2, 9, 12, 17, 19, 20, 21)
Days I stuck to my 15 minutes creative habit this week: 7.
Days I scheduled (and did) 50 or 25 minute blocks of time to work on my projects: None.
Days I read on the bus on the way to work (or another time for at least 15 minutes): 6.