Each month I go back over the notes in my bullet journal and pull out anything of significance: notes, quotes, patterns, lessons, achievements, things that have gone well and those that haven’t. I take what I learn and feed into the next month. It’s a ritual of continuous improvement, a cadence of accountability, that has served me well. In 2020 I’m experimenting with publishing my reflection notes. Here’s what happened in April (and March) 2020.
Hasn’t the world changed? The COVID-19 pandemic has swept across the world forcing most people in most countries into some form of lockdown. Day-to-day life is so different to what we’re used to; homeschooling, working 100% remote, social distancing. In some ways it has been difficult to adjust to lockdown (homeschooling certainly has a shelf life), but it also brings a lot of positives. The kids have adapted tremendously. They play so well together and have developed an even stronger sibling bond. Our relationships with them have also strengthened.
As lockdown loomed here in the UK I realised the kids would need a digital device each to do their school work, so we bought them each a Raspberry PI. The tiny computers have been invaluable in the first two months of homeschooling. We also made up some garden beds in our garden for the kids to grow their own vegetables. We planted carrots, onions and, as we do every year, strawberries. The kids, though, have barely looked at them.
I started a new business with a friend in March with a friend and ex-colleague. We named it Yvant. We’re a DevOps consulting company, but will also continue to work on a system I developed years ago, hopefully bringing a few more clients on board. We completed our first piece of work for our first client in April, an architecture assessment.
I exercised on 28 out 30 days. I’m in a really nice rhythm on the exercise front. I feel healthy, strong, flexible, and I’m now over a calf complaint that restricted my running in recent months. Just last week I ran 12km run without any issues, which felt great. Lockdown has had a positive impact in this respect. The extra time allows me to get my workout done in the mornings before sorting the kids out for homeschool, which means its done for the day before breakfast.
I read four books in March and April, much less than I aspire to. As the realities of the pandemic swept across the world I found it difficult to pull myself away from The Guardian and BBC News. I did, however, read these books:
- SQL Anti-patterns by Bill Karwin. A well written reference on some of the common pitfalls of database programming, and how to correct them. One to hang onto and reference when doing any work with databases.
- Keep Going by Austin Kleon. The third in Austin Kleon’s series. A short read and full of interesting art, quotes and lessons the author has accumulated. There were a few unique perspectives, but many of the ideas I’d come across before. Still, I pulled out a few quotes to my commonplace book.
- The Choice by Dr. Eva Edith Ega. A truly incredible story. A holocaust survivor, Ega tells the story of her life before, during and after her imprisonment in Auschwitz, the loss of her father and mother (and so many others), and how she came to terms with her experiences. Highly recommended.
- Shape Up by Ryan Singer (of Basecamp). I wrote about this in my blog post Shape Up.
I also wrote 2 blog posts:
The most notable pattern that emerged in March an April was how much I got sucked into reading COVID-19 news on my phone. I also had a couple of migraines as a result a few drinks, and so I’ve re-learned that, for me, drinking is not worth the risk of the migraine the day after, and I need to re-learn how to enjoy social occasions without it.
Some lessons I learned (or re-learned, because nothing ever sticks):
- How valuable, and enjoyable, it is to get in contact with old friends, and to reach out to close ones more often. Lockdown has forced us to keep in contact with loved ones virtually, and I’ve been doing more video calls, emails and messaging than ever before, which I’ve found to be immensely rewarding and enjoyable.
- Asking “Is this helpful?" when getting frustrated, or when negative thoughts set in, can change your mindset and help you find an alternative way of looking at the situation. A big help in March and April.
- I experimented with weekly habit trackers in my Bullet Journal which worked extremely well. Sometimes I find a habit I wanted to cultivate at the start of the month doesn’t make sense, or isn’t working, part way through the month. In April I created week-long habit trackers for things I wanted to experiment with, but didn’t want to commit a whole month to.
- A freshly mowed lawn makes me feel so happy :-).
One final, but really important note, I repaired an old paddling pool with a bike tyre repair kits. At first glance this might not seem like much of an achievement, but after starting to read Yvon Chouinard’s Let My People Go Surfing I’ve realised that repairing is a radical act.