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Monthly Review: February, 2019

Reading sessions

28 days out of 28 (28 points)

Books read

7 books.  Monthly target = 5 (28 points)

Daily writing ritual

28 days out of 28 (28 points)

Green Shakes

28 days out of 28 (28 points)

Deep Work Session

28 days out of 28 (28 points)

Gym Sessions

8 sessions out of 12 (19 points)

Meditation

187 minutes in 17 days (19 points)

Cold Showers

16 in 16 days (16 points)

Flossing

22 in 26 days (22 points)

Pool Practice

8 Sessions (8 points)

224 out of 237 (94.5%)

Summary of My Performance this Month

Overall, a very productive month.  Happy with the outcome.

Physical Health

My main area of struggle right now is physical exercise - I'm not moving enough. Approaching the age of 35, I'm only too aware that if I don't keep my body active now then I face an uphill battle recovering an ailing physical body in a decade's time.

To make this problem worse, I'm barely getting my heart rate up to a decent level by engaging in cardio.  The exercise that I do is mainly weight training, which doesn't bring any of the benefits of an elevated heart rate.  

In March, my primary focus will be on solving these two issues.  

My current thinking is to join something like CrossFit.  I'm not a massive fan of the training protocols there, mainly because it seems like everyone who does CrossFit gets injured in one way or another, but it does make training enjoyable, social and convenient.

Once I "get into it", I'll be far more likely to hit my exercise goals while being part of a group of like minded people.  I'll probably make a few more friends while I'm at it, too.

The only real downside is that I'll be considerably poorer.  But you can't put a price on health, right?

Meditation

When I first heard of meditation, I went through a phase of "what is this nonsense?". I just didn't get it.

As time went by, I kept getting exposed to the idea of incorporating a meditation practice into my daily routine.  I still didn't really get it, but I saw that many people smarter than me were incorporating this into their lives and espoused the various benefits of it.  So, I started to learn more about it.

As I went through the evidence and actively learnt more about the practice, I then came to a point where I started to understand that it was worth doing and became sold on the scientific evidence that supports it.  But I wasn't ready to take it on.  I knew it would be extremely difficult for me to do, and felt like I had to get my other stuff in order first.  It wasn't a top priority for me.

I'm happy to say that this month, I finally got everything in a row (and, if I'm honest, the courage) to fully jump in and commit to meditating each day.  Hats off to Sam Harris for his great android app "Waking Up".  Through 10 minutes a day, his guided meditation series has helped me stick to the practice and open my mind up to new ideas.

I'm surprised to say that I've found it a lot more enjoyable than I anticipated.  The practice has helped me to punctuate the rigours of everyday life with bouts of mindfulness; an exercise that's helping me to paralyse unhelpful thoughts through mere attention.  

This skill has been especially useful during periods of procrastination.  Consciously meditating on the transient nature of thoughts and where they arise in consciousness has helped me during periods where I experience resistance.  

During a meditation session I might feel the urge to move but then, instead of instantly reacting, merely "watching the thought" leads it to disappear in a few moments.  This feeling, when I want to move during a meditation session, is exactly the same as the feeling I get when I sit down to work, but start to procrastinate.  I've been using the same mindfulness technique to get myself to start working.  It's incredibly effective.

I already recognise the benefits of meditation and will continue to practice it indefinitely.

Cold Showers

I haven't really looked at the science behind cold showers much although there does seem to be some promising research around cold exposure and an improved immune system. I'm mainly just doing it as an experiment.  

My thoughts about this so far:-

  • My first cold shower really sucked.  It's got better now, but I still don't enjoy them
  • I recognise that there has been some kind of physiological response from my body because I find cold exposure far more tolerable than I did previously
  • I love the feeling that I get after (not during!) a freezing cold shower in the morning.  I feel awake, my senses are heightened, and I'm ready to tackle the day.

I'll keep on doing it for the time being.

All Other Areas

In terms of productivity, things have gone well:-

  • I wrote 26 specifications documents for my software company.  This has led to a far more organised development process than last year.  All this was achieved in 2 hours or less of deep work per day.
  • I got through 7 pretty interesting books, including a binge read of the top procrastination books.  I want to put together a course on procrastination at some point, so am doing some background research for that.
  • I didn't miss a day with my daily writing ritual (including weekends). 

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Paul

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