planning & tracking.

Recording progress, making plans, setting goals and tracking progress. On paper, online, or wherever.

on the note (of keeping notes):

timebox bullet zombie personal journaling

September 2022

I've been recording a lot of zombie time lately.

That has nothing to do with the quickly approaching Halloween season nor with my unfortunate gait that has resulted from a damaged knee ligament. It's just what I've been calling that mental paralysis that results from having free time, a vague list of hobbies, and decision fatigue.

An example scenario:

It's 7pm on a weeknight. I've done a full day of work. We've eaten dinner and cleaned up. The dog has been walked and the kid is hunkered down texting her friends for the evening. It's not a night for a workout so I'm pretty much free to do something else of my choosing.

I could go in the basement and practice my violin (did I mention I play the violin?) A high value. way to spend an hour. Um. What else?

I could sit down with my art gear and do some painting (did I mention I'm into watercolours at the moment?) A creative and relaxing way to spend the evening, perhaps with a podcast or audiobook in the background. Hmm.

I could write a blog post. That would be fairly productive. Though I don't really feel like I have much to write at the moment. What else is there?

I could play some video games. I've been working my way through the latest Assassin's Creed installment and and hour with that would be fun. A chill bit of time before bed. But, then again...

I could watch some television. I have a few shows I've been working my way through. A less valuable use of time, but still relaxing after a long day. Sigh. I really should do something more productive though.

Instead, while I waver back and forth, I flip on the TV and load up YouTube. I'll just watch a five minute video while I try to motivate myself. Virtually, completely, a total waste of time.

Not motivated yet? Another? Another... another... another. Oh look, it's bed time. I've just spent the evening in zombie time.

i've ordered a paper journal

It's a fancy one. It's from one of those companies that makes high quality notebooks and watercolour paper.

How does this fit into a technology blog post? Or into a recovery blog post?

I see it like this: technology or tools that enable us to plan and organize our lives, our days, our motivations in a way that allows us to accomplish our goals may be almost as vital to success as the right running shoes, drinking enough water, or having a good social support network.

I get my runs done (well, right now my swimming laps done) because I timebox. Mentally, at least.

I set a goal.

I pick a time.

I fill that time with the planned activity to achieve the goal.

I'm going swimming on Saturday morning. That's when I'm going. That's when I'm planning on going. That's when my opportunity to go will be. That's when I need to go. If I don't go then, I'll sit on the couch and end up watching YouTube until the time evaporates into nothing.

I'll zombie time my Saturday morning.

And while this may seem like I have my days and motivations under control, really I've just applied this to my fitness and it's a lingering effect of having to be accountable to a running crew. We run on such and such an evening or morning, so we run. Now I've been swimming in those same time slots.

I haven't put the same sort of time boxing around my other bits of life. I haven't set thirty minutes aside for working through my scales and some music on my violin. I haven't put two hours aside on a Tuesday evening to paint something with my watercolours. I haven't given myself to kill ninety minutes on a Monday before bed enjoying a video game.

Instead, I do none of those things because I struggle to prioritize myself on the fly.

So, I've ordered a paper journal. A calendar with months and pages to do some kind of bullet journaling, time boxing, check list making effort.

People swear by such things to organize their lives.

I'll find out soon if I'm destined to be one of those people.