21 for 2021: week 1

Week 1/2021: week of 4 January 2021
My 21 for 2021 list

This was my first week back at work so I decided it was as good a time as any to get back into the pre-work planning routine from the LifeHack program (thing 20). The video suggests following the exact routine for 66 days to cement it as a habit loop in your brain. I am struggling with that, not least because I’m not in the same place every day. It also feels very weird to try and work through a structured checklist like this. However, I will persist. 

Coincidentally, there is a chapter in the Change Journal (thing 4) about forming new habits, which also suggests trying new habits for 66 days. It gives you space to track seven new habits, presumably staring a new one every day for a week consistent with the way the rest of the book is structured to allow you to follow a new idea each week. I didn’t think it would be a good idea to try and introduce a new habit every day for a week, so I’m going to use this section of the book to track seven new habits over the course of the year. Unsurprisingly, the first one I’m going to try and follow for 66 (work) days is the pre-work planning routine.

I worked through the first module of the Brainsparker gym* (thing 17) and learned something really interesting. Well, as a contact lens wearer, I found it interesting. I learned that the modern contact lens was invented by a Czech chemist called Dr Otto Wichterle and his colleague Drahoslav Lím. Dr Wichterle had to leave the Institute of Chemical Technology after a political purge by the institute’s Communist leadership in 1958. He was appointed as leader of a new institute but, as it didn’t have a building at the time, he continued his research at his house. In 1961, he succeeded in producing the first four hydrogel contact lenses on his kitchen table with a machine he had made himself from a children’s building set, a dynamo from his son’s bike and a bell transformer.

The lesson from this: Keep going, even if the circumstances aren’t perfect. Use what you have and keep going.

Vegetable of the week

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from Alice Zaslavky’s book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable. This week I chose radicchio, which is another vegetable I’ve never cooked with (and, like okra, wasn’t exactly sure what to do with). I picked the radicchio and sausage pasta recipe.

Radicchio & sausage pasta ingredients

It uses pork and fennel sausages that you take out of the casing and smash up. Alice says to use the “fancy” ones, not ones that are packed full of fillers. It seemed a little sacrilegious to me to destroy the butcher’s work in putting these things together, and I wondered if using pork mince and fennel seeds might work as well. Perhaps I’ll try it one day. The recipe includes fennel, which is another vegetable I’d also never cooked, so I got two for the price of one with this dish!

Smashed sausages. Sorry, Meatgrrl.
Radicchio. Right.
Raddichio chopped.

It worked out well and everyone had seconds. So maybe it was worth destroying the sausages for. And I learned a very cool tip for adding zucchini to pasta rather than cutting it up and adding it to the sauce: use a spiraliser (I have one of those. I think I’ve used it once. I never forgave it after I cut myself on it). You put the spiralised zucchini in the colander before you drain the pasta and then let the pasta water soften it a bit.

Spiralised zucchini, yeah!
The finished product.,

Regular projects

There are several things on my list that are going to work best if I make a regular commitment to doing them. Consistency is the key. Brainsparker gym* is one (an hour a week) and the pre-work routine is obviously another one. So are these ones.

  • Thing 3: Complete the 30-day voice training course. I haven’t allocated time for this yet.
  • Thing 5: Spend an hour a week working through my annoying undone things list. One hour on Saturday morning. I didn’t do it this week because we went out most of the day, but I did work on a couple of the things on the list another time.
  • Thing 6: Grow some vegetables in the garden bed. One hour on Sunday afternoon for garden projects. I pulled out all the weeds and cleared space around it. I’m a little concerned that the cover for this garden bed is plastic that is rapidly deteriorating and I’m not sure what to do about that. No matter what I do, the plastic is still going to be somewhere, whether I throw it out or leave it. 
  • Thing 7: Clear out the area at the side of the house and make a space to sit. One hour on Sunday afternoon for garden projects.
  • Thing 8: Spend an hour a week working on Kramstable’s videos. One hour on Sunday afternoon. I started the next video on my list. 
  • Thing 9: Write my mother’s life story. This week, I arranged with my mother to visit once a week to talk through this project and capture her memories.
  • Thing 10: Complete the ImageWork course. I haven’t allocated time for this yet.
  • Thing 11: Complete the Photoshop Classroom in a Book activities. I haven’t allocated time for this yet.

Yeah, I know I don‘t do well in sticking to a plan, but I have had some success in fixing regular times to do things in my week and making them habits so I’m hoping this will work for these things too.

Nice afternoon for a walk

What else did I achieve this week?

My regular check in: I finished the final collage for my 2020 photojournal and I now have all of them printed so I just need to stick them into the book to finish that off. It’s one of my annoying undone things.

I didn’t work on my Hobart Street Corners project on Thursday, which is the night I usually work on those photos, because my computer was playing up and it took two hours to even get any photos off my phone, much less edit anything. I finished off my backlog of 2020 photos on Sunday morning instead.

Last year I had some questions that I asked myself every week that would set me up for the new week, about what didn’t got so well that week and what I might do better next week. Most of the time my answer was that I was scrolling through my phone too much, and I never really kicked that habit, which I’m sure made for boring reading. It also made me realise that this approach wasn’t working so it was time to try something different. I have a bunch of questions for myself related to areas where I want to do better, not all of which I might be able to answer every week, so I thought I would answer just one or two of them on the blog each week rather than run through the entire list every week.

What did I do for the Earth this week?

There is so much going through my head. So many things I could do and so many things I should have been doing for years. Part of me wonders why bother? I can take all the small steps in the world to reduce my footprint but it won’t make a lick of difference if world leaders don’t make some hard decisions. We have to stop using fossil fuels and overfishing the seas and destroying rainforests and all the things we do that make our lives easier. We can’t sustain what we’re doing, we just can’t.

It all seems too overwhelming so, rather than give up because I don’t know what to do, I need to start somewhere and keep learning and making changes.

There are a couple of things that are extremely low-hanging fruit and I have no excuses not to do them.

The first one is the kettle. I had a habit of filling it up every time I use it, which is, I learned (and if I think about it, actually knew) a massive waste of energy I couldn’t find any exact numbers for Australia, but suffice to say boiling a kettle with 1.7 litres of water when I only need 500 ml is very inefficient and I don’t do it any more.

What was the best thing about this week?

Getting my new glasses so I can see again!

My blog also celebrated its tenth birthday, so I will be posting some more on that in the coming weeks.

Getting out for a lunchtime walk

Summary for the week

What I’m reading this week: A Life on Our Planet by David Attenborough.

  • Things completed this week: 0
  • Things completed to date: 0
  • Things I progressed: 7 (2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 17, 20)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 0
  • Things not started: 14 (1, 3, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 18, 19, 21)

Habit tracker

  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): 5
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 3
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 2
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 7): 6
  • Days I shut my computer down before 10.15 (Goal = 7): 7
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