Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Day 31: Another Year Ends and Tomorrow Is a New Beginning

Single-tasking has become engrained in my mind in the same way that positive thinking has. When I start to feel overwhelmed or realize that I am becoming nonproductive, I automatically think two things. First I ask myself if there is something that I should be doing. Things that I should be doing would include things like preparing a meal or going for my walk. If I do not have some obligation that I have forgotten about or become distracted from, I ask myself what do I want to do to move myself forward in the right direction. I select a task, for there are usually more than one that present themselves to my mind, and take the steps necessary to complete it. I find that single-tasking is now a habit to me, and I have had a successful month in cultivating that habit.

Now for the bad news, I have not yet gotten exercise down to a habit! It would be easy for me to make excuses. I still have a lot of fear. I have been ill much of this month. The weather has been atrocious! BUT I am not making excuses. I can exercise around my fear. I can exercise when I am ill. (Well, maybe not always but for the most part!) I can find exercise options that will work in all weather.

So how am I going to remedy this situation in the new year? First of all, I am re-evaluting my indoor exercise options. I do not want fear to hold me back from things that are positive in my life. I may not be able to conquer the fear or the weather, but I can exercise inside. Second, the hour from 2:00 to 3:00 is going to be dedicated to exercise. I can use this hour for something pleasurable and healthy for me. My family won't mind. They will support me! Having this habit will give me consistency when life is unsteady and will help me in more ways than one!

I am still going on to add a new habit for January 2009. Recently, my girlfriend was talking about goals. I have not been much of a goal person. Whenever I have tried to set goals, it often seemed that they were torn away from me no matter how hard I tried to stay on track. On the other hand, those times when I took more of a "set intentions" and "go with the flow" approach, the things I wanted were more likely to come into my life.

Over the course of the last five years, I have been pulling myself further and further away from being a goal setter. Now I find myself at a place where I am once again feeling very out of control and scared. More than ever before, I find myself also without goals. I think the older you get the less you want, or at least, that is the way that it is for me.

I have been thinking that I want a habit that has to do with goals. I want something that I can work for so that I can feel in control. On the other hand, I am not meant to be in control. I am meant to trust. I am meant to live in the moment.

Then there is the problem that creeps up when I try to decide on a goal. Let's see. I'd like for us to own a home in a beautiful spot. At this point, I'd be happy with a beautiful piece of land someplace warm that we could plant a tent on as long as it was ours! Of course, getting to a piece of land anywhere requires a vehicle. One that is safe. Of course, both of those goals require money and lots of input from the other members of my family.

I have managed to earn some money this year. That is an idea. I could have a goal to earn money. If we kept everything I earned through my paypal for savings, perhaps I could make a difference in that way. That money would be for our dream of a place for ourselves. I will have to discuss this with my family before I make any decisions.

So I will exit this wishy-washy journal entry here!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Day 21: An Interesting Article

Today I read an interesting article from The New York Times. The premise of the article is that there is nothing inherently wrong with being overweight. What is important is that we are in touch with our bodies and eat the healthy foods that make us feel great.

I have talked and thought about this a lot. I am fairly healthy. I know that there are things that I can do to feel better though, mostly have a better exercise habit, and eat more fruits and vegetables. There are things that stand in my way of meeting these goals, but I am working on it.

The article mentions that there is a genetic component of weight. Identical twins raised apart by parents with differing weight eating dissimilar diets weight close to the same. So why is there so much negative stigma attached to being overweight? I am not sure how it came about, but I know it had a huge affect on me!

I was a tiny child, thin, underweight by most people's standards. When I hit puberty I put on about 5-30 extra pounds (I bounced around in that range a lot.) In high school, I consistently weight 130 lbs. (at 5'2".) I was teased about my weight. My doctor told me I needed to watch what I ate. (Note, when he asked me what my favorite food was I said oranges, and he didn't know how to reply. He expected me to say some less acceptable food.) When I looked in the mirror, I thought I looked fine, but I knew there must be something terribly wrong with my appearance to lead to the teasing and even my doctor saying something. So I started dieting. Of course the rest is history. My self esteem got worse and worse.

Here I am truly overweight after 25 years of worrying about my weight.

I am no longer someone who worries about my weight. I am happier. I am healthier. Those are things that really matter. Oh! And I still think that I look just fine when I look in the mirror.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Day 18: Single-tasking and Weight Loss

This is a weight loss blog, even if it is not your typical one, and I know all of you readers must be wondering how single-tasking can help weight loss. It is obvious how exercise helps. You move; you burn calories. Being positive isn't quite as obvious, but it isn't that hard to see that if you want to reach a goal, you need to stay positive even during the challenging times.

I have found that single-tasking is equally as helpful as either of those habits are. Here is a list of ways that single-tasking is helping me lose weight:

1. When you are single-tasking, you only do one thing at a time. If that thing isn't eating, you don't eat! That keeps me from aimless snacking.

2. There are a lot of things that I want to do to help me to eat healthier. I want to plan my menus in advance. I want to prepare healthy foods that might take a bit more effort than less healthy fast food. I want to search for recipes that my family will like, are diabetic friendly for my girlfriend, and are weight loss friendly for me. These and more are all tasks that I can complete one at a time while single tasking. They are exactly the types of things that I use to do a little bit of and then never complete!

3. Single-tasking has increased my productivity. This has increased my self esteem. Having a better self esteem makes it easier to work towards other goals!

4. If I consider eating a task, to be completed without multi-tasking, I find that I pay more attention to my food. This mindfulness leads to me stopping when I am full and feeling more satisfied after normal sized portions.

5. Exercise is a task to be completed too! No being sidetracked by other things!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Day 17: Single-Tasking Tips

Wow! I did not expect to take a two week break from blogging here, but health issues and seasonal expectations got in the way! I am happy to be back!

I am, for the most part, doing very well with single-tasking. It is very rewarding! On the days when I stick to single tasking, my productivity, mindfulness, and sense of peace all sky rocket! One of my challenges has been the internet. The internet is designed for multi-tasking. You see a link of interest, and you click it. You want to follow up to an article; you start writing an email. If you are like me, there are always plenty of blog entries bouncing around in your head for your diverse blogs. Some people (it often seems to me that those are younger people who have grown up using the internet their entire lives) seem to do fine with this multi-tasking environment, but I need to keep it to a minimum.

Here are some things that have helped me to succeed!

1. I keep a notebook next to my keyboard at all times. This notebook has separate lists related to various internet things that I do each on their own page. For example, there is a page listing things that my kids have been up to, and there is a page with ideas that I have for this blog. When I have an idea, I jot it on the appropriate page. When I need an idea, I open up to the appropriate page and see what's there. This keeps my mind free from clutter and keeps my ideas organized with out pulling me too far off my current task.

2. I use my bookmark function liberally! If I see a link to a sight that interests me, I bookmark it instead of perusing it. Then I set aside a time for looking at bookmarks. I might not get to everything, but the truth is that everything doesn't matter. I can stay on my current task rest assured that at a future time my task will be browsing the sites that interest me.

3. I set aside a specific time for email. I finish dealing with it then, archiving anything that might be important in the future. Archiving is quicker than filing, and I can quickly find anything I might need with a search function. Answering anything needing an answer during my email task keeps my inbox from getting cluttered with things that I will reply to some day. Because I have a specific time for my email task, I do not need to check my email frequently thoughtout the day.

4. I prioritize and organize my blog reading. Like most bloggers, I enjoy reading other people's blogs. This can get way out of hand. The first thing I did to control this was to make sure that any blog I read is serving a purpose in my life. I read blogs of people I know to keep up on their lives. I read some blogs because they are entertaining and make me happy. I read some blogs because they are community building, and I have an online relationship with the writer. Some blogs make the cut because they provide me with information. I keep a personal blog on livejournal, and most of my closest blog friends blog there so one of my blog reading tasks is to read my livejournal friend list. I use rososo to keep my other blog feeds organized. I like rososo because it has a clean non-cluttered look, and it is very easy for me to use! These two tasks take care of blog reading, and I remember to keep them there and not let them leak into the rest of my life.

5. I keep important/urgent things on my desktop, but I don't over use this! Sometimes there is something that I don't want to pull me away from my current task, but that I know I have to take care of right away. I put those things on my computer desktop. This is a good reminder to me to not let them go. If you use this system, it is easy to let it get out of hand categorizing everything as important and urgent! I keep this from happening by following one simple rule. If I don't deal with something in 24 hours, it wasn't really that urgent, and it gets moved. Also if my desktop starts to look too cluttered something is definitely wrong!

I hope some of my own tips can help someone else to stay on task and productive online. It is very important to remember to stay flexible throughout the whole process. There are going to be times when you are going to have to deviate from your task, but just remember to get back on track as quickly as possible, and you should be well on your way to an increase in productivity!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Day 3: Expectations

I long ago learned the value of letting go of expectations, but it is still an on going battle at times. Parents tell their kids that they expect better of them. We expect ourselves to eat right and lose weight. It seems the world expects everyone to go to college, get a good job, and move up the career ladder. As consumers of services, we expect that no mistakes will be made. Citizens expect their politicians to be above reproach. Our world is full of expectations. Having them seems normal, and to some, even good.

I have done my best to step off the expectation bandwagon. I don't expect my kids to do anything. I just live my life with them letting them be themselves and grow into the adults that they want to become. I try to live in the moment, not in anticipation of the next whether positive expectation or negative dread.

Not having expectations, helps me to go with the flow. One of the problems with single-tasking is it is easy to fall into the expectation that if we desire to complete something, we will be able to with no interruptions. This isn't always going to happen! Sometimes someone is going to really need you. Sometimes you are going to miscalculate, and something is going to take longer than you expected, and an appointment may interfere, or you might realize that it is too far past mealtime and you are starving. It is important to not be a slave to anything! Don't have the expectation that things will always go well. Keep your focus, but when necessary, go with the flow.

Being flexible and living in the moment will be the ultimate key to your success. Once single-tasking has become a habit, it will be easier to tell the difference between a true necessary reason to take a break, and procrastinating or losing focus.

On the exercise forefront, I did good today. I took not one but two walks. In addition to my usual time, I went with for a walk with my daughter Lia in the woods through the snow.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Day 1: Single-tasking Attempt Number One

The single-tasking went pretty good today. I didn't think about it a lot, but when I started to get worried that I wasn't doing enough today, I made myself a list of three essential tasks, and I focused on them one at a time until they were done.

Now, about the exercise, I was not so good with that habit. I see exactly what the problem is too! I don't have exercise pinned tightly enough to anything else that regularly happens. The way we live our lives, it is hard to take time away from other things on a regular basis to exercise. Today, I was decorating. I could have stopped and gone, but I felt weird (I have anxiety associated with going outside) and didn't. Obviously if it was a habit, I would have gone!

I have decided that I am going to pin my exercise to 2:00. I am the type to never be late to anything! My exercise is my date with myself, and I am going to keep it! On work days, I will drag encourage Diana to do some more with me when she gets home. When I lived in the city, I walked an incredible amount. I need to get back at it. It gives me so much joy in addition to being good for me.