Have you compiled the list of your 2022 achievements? How did it feel to make it?
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been reading such reports on my feeds and, Gosh, I am greatly impressed by how much those people have done. Some have shared hundreds of hours of language learning or reading. Others have enlisted the courses they have finished or created. And many have mentioned how difficult the year was and how deeply they were affected by the events.
I too counted hours but with a different goal in mind: I desperately needed a reality check. In November-December of 2021 I found myself lying on the sofa with so little energy I couldn’t even watch or read anything. It finally hit home: my energy management was all wrong and had to be changed, or I would have no energy left for a normal life. Worse, I finally realised I was living by an overload-yourself-end-up-with-exhaustion pattern, a sort of adrenaline rides with short peaks of productivity and long recovery periods, no matter what I was doing – working, writing, reading, “resting” on holiday, doing exercise or something else. Something had to be done. So I invented a system of diaries to track my productivity and the use of resources, and stuck to it throughout the year.
I decided to count how many hours I actually spent on doing things and then to compare the number with what I had in mind. And that highlighted the gulf between what I thought of my productivity and what it really was. For example, I thought I’d spend half an hour on one text for this group. I ended up with an average of 2 hours per text instead. I thought 10 hours of reading a week was just a matter of discipline, but the stats show that I can really do only 4. I thought I’d be able to study for 4+ hours a day and I got overloaded with 2-3…
So this was very revealing and brought me down to earth. I was greatly disappointed by my productivity but I kept experimenting with how much I could do per day without falling into being tired for days. It took five attempts: after taking it easy in January, I got overloaded first by writing texts for this group in February-April, then by studying data analytics in May, then by writing for my blog in June, then by “studying” languages in July-August and finally by our holiday in August. With every failure I sat down to analyse my diaries and find the triggers that made me work past my actual reserves of energy. By the end of the year this approach finally gave results: for 15 weeks, starting from September, I managed to stop for rest in time and avoid periods of exhaustion.
And this is my main achievement. It’s not perfect because I have some unfinished business that I had hoped to get rid of in 2022, but it’s much better than before. It feels so good to have a steady workflow. I can finally make realistic plans and get things done.
Another of my achievements was my own reaction to the world news. Over the last three and a half years I’ve been working a lot on my mental health, including with professionals, and, I think, last year showed that it worked. I did spend some time feeling anxious, upset and a bit lost, but this time wouldn’t add to more than three weeks in total.
Otherwise I felt fine and stable in my mood. No panic attacks. No paralysing fear. No wish to run or fight. No depression or despair. No apathy or frustration. No anger towards the government or people with different views. No aching loneliness or being at a loss. No shame or guilt. No procrastination even. It was as if I was living in a different world of my own. I managed to redirect my attention to what concerned me directly and stayed away from the news. Fortunately, my family wasn’t affected by the events, but still, in a situation like this it’s not easy to shut oneself off from the world.
Some may disapprove of such a position, but for me it’s merely the question of energy. I don’t have enough of it for myself and my projects, so I can’t really afford to spend it on reading the news, watching commentary or engaging in the discussions on the subject. If I do, I risk finding myself unable to work or do something else at all. This is not an option, so I keep to myself. But the fact that I can do it and I’m not disturbed by deep-seated conflicts and feelings means that all my psychological work wasn’t for nothing. It worked. And I’m so happy about it.
If you’re still interested in some figures, they are not impressive, but I don’t mind sharing:
15 books started and 12 finished (190 hours). Here I want to break the habit of reading several books at the same time and taking several months to finish them. I’m also looking for ways to optimise my note taking system and increase the speed of reading.
270 hours were spent on writing texts for this group and my blog (mostly monthly updates and a couple of long reads), which resulted in about 90 posts. I’m looking for ways to write faster, but I don’t think it’ll come easy to me.
Only 75 hours were spent on learning languages. But languages weren’t my priority so I had to sacrifice them to get ahead with texts and analytics. Hopefully, next year they’ll become a part of my weekly routine.
I went back to studying data analytics (da) after almost a year-long break. 170 hours here and it’s still just a drop in the ocean. This year I’m hoping to put together everything I’ve learnt and get lots of practice. Oh, and I went back to doing maths problems after a break of almost 5 years. Now I’m not afraid of them and look forward to cracking more puzzles and applying some maths to da.
18,5 hours spent playing the piano. It seems just a few but in 2021 I played only twice. So it’s good progress! Plus I’m relearning my approach to the practice and breaking bad old habits (of rote learning, for example).
I also went off spending time on social media and watching series for “rest” because it’s not good rest for me. And I found a new hobby, scrapbooking, which really helps me to take my mind off texts or thinking. Now, that is rest.
How was 2022 for you? And what are your main projects/ ideas/ wishes for 2023?
Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash