30 Days to My Best Me Challenge, week 3

It’s the end of the third week in the Day Designer “30 Days To Your Best You” Challenge, so I’m checking in with more notes on how I’ve been doing.

Day 15: Review your finances

“Financial Independence” (photo credit: InvestmentZen)

This is something I already tend to do on a daily basis, because every penny counts. Being a broke-ass author means I need to know exactly how much money is in my paltry bank account at all times, when the bills are going out (especially those annoying auto-pays!), and when the cash is coming back in.

Somebody’s gotta be responsible up in this joint, so that person is me.

If you don’t review your finances daily, you’re probably rich. For me, it’s a necessity. Something to add to my To Do List? Nope, it’s already there whether I like it or not.

Day 16: Tidy your papers

“Startup, Student, Planning” (photo credit: costculator.com)

Yeah, yeah. These tips are starting to sound like a nagging mother or wife. “Clean up your papers! Check the bank account! Scrub those dishes!”

I do need to tidy up my papers. I actually need a better system of sorting the paper that come into the house daily. Bills, junk mail, other important stuff, things that I’m saving for no real reason. I think I’m going to go up to the dollar store and buy 12 file folders, one for each month of the year, and start sorting the clutter on a monthly basis. At least then I’ll know where everything is stashed, if I haven’t yet sorted it out into the permanent folders in my filing cabinet.

That ought to tidy up a good number of papers around here!

Day 17: Drink plenty of water

“splash_2” (photo credit: Kurt:S)

You know, this whole “drink plenty of water” thing seems like a lot of wasted effort to me. Sure, we could all drink more water. But are you really going to start tracking how much water you drink in a day, or make a commitment to get 8 glasses?

I do have a water bottle that I try to keep on my desk or carry with me when I’m out and about, to make sure that I never get dehydrated (and to avoid having to buy a bottle of water that I’m going to chuck). But I’m also not avidly counting the cups I’m drinking. I simply drink when I’m thirsty, with my meals, and – as per this challenge’s very first suggestion – first thing in the morning, usually to facilitate taking my daily vitamins.

I’ll admit, I am probably not the target audience for this tip. Americans, in general, tend to be addicted to drinking soda and coffee, both of which are notorious diuretics. However, I gave up drinking soda in my 20s (my downfall being Diet Coke, as well as the delicious Dr Pepper), and never regretted the decision. It immediately did great things for my skin, my energy levels, and my overall health. If you haven’t quit drinking soda yet, I’d highly encourage you to do so.

I also only drink one cup of coffee every day. On particularly crazy days where I am feeling extra tired and sluggish (or have gotten up at 4 AM to get to work, and I’m running hugely behind schedule – which more tends to be the case), I have been known to drink TWO cups of coffee.

So, basically, water is already my go-to drink when thirsty.

I can see where this tip might help others, who have not yet gotten the hang of drinking water more regularly. But for me, this is kind of a “Duh!” tip.

Day 18: Get up and move

Good advice! See my commentary on Day 21 for more on this. For now, please enjoy a little dance to Allan Sherman’s “Good Advice.”

Day 19: Plan for tomorrow

Wait… didn’t we already have this tip? I’m confused. This was Day 9’s advice last week.

Day 20: Compliment others

“Thumbs up” (photo credit: Brett Davies)

This is a good tip as well. It even goes so far as to suggest writing down proposed compliments in your planner, so you start giving out at least three compliments a day. That seems a little extreme (can’t we just give compliments on the fly?), but good for those who are perhaps a bit more socially anxious.

Day 21: Plan for health & fitness

Pretty sure this is NOT what I look like when I do this exercise! (“Abril Castillo” photo credit: Jorge Mejía Peralta)

Yes! Another thing I’ve been struggling with, in scheduling my days, is finding time for fitness. My usual method is to head to the gym and do 30 minutes of cardio, followed by about 45 minutes of lifting heavy things. That’s an hour and 15 minutes of actually working out, but since my gym is fairly far away from my house, there’s also an hour’s worth of travel time there and back. So now you’ve got 2 hours and 15 minutes gone from your schedule, along with I’d estimate another 30 minutes to get ready to actually go to the gym, and 30 minutes for a post-workout meal. That’s 3 hours and 15 minutes just to get my exercise in, before I can move on with my day.

Which is why I only make it to the gym once a week, these days.

Since my day job involves sitting at a desk for 8 hours or more, I’ve been trying to work in regular walks around the neighborhood. For my 5K Walk/Run/Write, I plotted out a walk up to the neighborhood Starbucks and back, which hits slightly over the 5K mark. So I’ve been trying to work in 5K walks three times a week. Ideally, I wanted to do this on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, to space out my workouts and not go too hard too fast, which would either result in injury or just plain burnout on this repetitive workout.

Of course, Thursdays are always horrible for me, in terms of scheduling.

I can’t quite figure out what the solution is, but part of the problem here is the fact that my day job tends to give me lots more work later in the week. On Thursdays I typically have some overlapping work deadlines, and since I usually try to get Fridays off (so that I can focus solely on my writing), that means they often give me work that’s due around 9 or 10 AM on Friday to sort of skirt the “no work on Friday” request. So, this week I had stuff due at 11 AM Thursday, and while I was working on that, I received more stuff that was due at 9 AM, Noon, and 3:30 PM on Friday. So much for Friday off – and so much for my intent to go for a walk on Thursday.

Since I can’t seem to get my Thursdays together, kind of like Arthur Dent (“‘This must be Thursday,’ said Arthur to himself, sinking low over his beer. ‘I never could get the hang of Thursdays.'”), I’ve decided to “front-load” my exercise schedule this week. I’ve moved my no-go Thursday walk up to Wednesday, so now my schedule is 5K walks on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday. If I have more free time on Thursday or Friday, I will also take a walk then, but since I haven’t seemed able to manage it for the past two weeks, I figure I shouldn’t count on having that time, and just do it on the days when I do have the time. Although it doesn’t seem ideal to work out two days in a row, I know that walking is a pretty low-stress exercise (particularly compared to going to the gym!), and 5K (which is about 3.11 miles) is a pretty reasonable amount of walking to do in a day. It also gets me up to my 10,000 steps a day, so my Fitbit is happy!

Weekly scorecard

[author_list style=”tick”]

  • New habits to incorporate: 4
  • Habits that were repeated this week, for some reason: 1
  • Suggestions where “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”: 2
  • Overall: Lots of good suggestions, a couple that I already do regularly out of necessity, and one repeated admonishment. Not bad!


Checking in with the new planner

I’ve been using my Day Designer a lot more this week, planning my days the night before and trying to make sure my schedule is pretty well nailed down before I get up the next day. It makes a big difference to have a plan in mind, even if you end up deviating from it a bit throughout the day.

I’ve also pulled out my washi tape and stickers and have been decorating the pages to help break up the monotony of the same designs every day. I put some pink tape on the weekends, to help differentiate the days of the week, and I’ve been giving myself stickers every time I hit 1,000 words a day. (This week has been a little sad in terms of stars, but I’ll be getting back to that particular habit hardcore next week.)

What about you?

Are you taking the Day Designer “30 Days to My Best Me” Challenge? How was your week? If you’re not taking this challenge, what kinds of habits do you do on a daily basis, and how do they help you?