Week 37/2021: the compelling frame

Week 37/2021: Week of 13 September 2021

What did I want to do better this week?

Be more mindful and observant, and start to develop my capacity to explore.

So, how did that go then?

As I said last week, I’m struggling to remember to do it. This week wasn’t much different.

21 for 2021 update

Vegetable of the week (thing 2)

Thing 2 is to choose a different vegetable every week from Alice Zaslavsky’s book In Praise of Veg and make a recipe from the book using that vegetable.

I didn’t make a recipe from the book this week. I checked what I have left and there are 13 vegetables in the book I haven’t cooked with yet. There’s about three months left in the year so I’m still on track to get all 50 vegetables completed at least once in 2021.

Up till now, I’ve been winging it and going with whatever I like the look of, and avoiding lots of the ones that look super complicated or involve ingredients I don’t know or am terrified of (hello, kingfish sashimi).

When I make my shopping list on Friday night, I start out by thinking I’ll make one of these recipes but then realise there are things I need to source from places other than the regular shop and, if I can’t get them, the whole recipe falls over. Friday’s too late. I need to know before Friday what I can get and what I can’t.

To try and fix this, I sat down this week and listed out the remaining 13 recipes I’m going to cook and all the weird ingredients I’ll need so I can start to track them down. I’m hoping this will mean I’ll be organised enough before Fridays to have everything I need rather than rule recipes out because I don’t have the weird ingredients.

Annoying undone things (thing 5)

I completed one of the things on the list. It’s something I should have actually finished last year (about 12 months ago, to be precise) but it’s one of those things I’ve put off over and over again. One of those things that was 80 per cent done and just needed a brief time to tidy it up and finish . . . And getting that 20 per cent of the work probably took 80 per cent of the time of the whole thing.

This leads neatly into . . .

The Change Journal (thing 4)

Chapter 16 of the Change Journal is called the Pareto Principle. In simple terms, it says that 80 per cent of our results are achieved with only 20 per cent of total effort, while the remaining 20 per cent consume about 80 per cent of the total effort.

I think my example above illustrates this perfectly, and I see it time and time again. I think it’s an element of the perfectionist trap. I can spent a relatively short time getting something 80 per cent complete and then I spend four or five times that amount of time perfecting it. In some situations, this might be necessary. Tidying up a brain surgery, for example, or triple checking a moon rocket before it launches.

In other cases, not so. Taking 30 minutes to finesse an email that took me five minutes to write to make sure the words are precise. While I do love tinkering wth words, most emails don’t need that level of precision and I can send them after five minutes’ work. I don’t usually need to spend 30 minutes on them.

That said, it’s not this chapter of the Change Journal that I worked on this week. I’m going to do that next week. This week I worked on the email chapter (chapter 22), which provides nine tips to help you reduce the time you spend in email.

I know most of these already, having spent many years in productivity workshops, where email is identified as a perennial productivity blocker and time waster. This chapter asks you to track several of the tips over the week:

  • How many emails you ignored (which I take to mean deleted without opening)
  • Deleting stuff from your inbox that shouldn’t be in there
  • Shutting down email for blocks over the day
  • Editing email in batches
  • Being more specific and clear in the emails you send
  • Stopping crowding other people’s email inboxes with stuff that they don’t need to see or can begetter communicated in another way

I started out well during the first half of the week but it wore off towards the end of the week so next week I’m going to make more of an effort to do these things. I’ve got four days of templates left, and four days of work next week, so it’s time to get to work.

Kramstable’s videos (thing 8)

I did some more work on the video and incorporated a couple of Kramstable’s YouTube vlogs into the video because I think they add a great insight to what he’s interested in at the moment and what his life is like.

My mother’s story (thing 9)

I didn’t get much new information from Mum this week. I’m thinking maybe I need to start asking some more targeted questions. Or maybe I should just start writing the story and see what information I need, rather than gathering a whole bunch of information and getting overwhelmed.

This is the approach that Patti Miller suggests in her book Writing True Stories, which I finished reading this week. I think it’s the way to go for this work.

The Compelling Frame course (thing 11)

I worked through the last two modules of the course and watched all the bonus videos.

I think a lot of the takeaways from this course have been relate to things I’m learning in other places. Obviously not the photography-specific ideas, but if I were to draw everything together as a list of Things I Need To Do, it would look a bit like this:

  • Become an observer, notice more
  • Look for links and common threads
  • Stimulate your brain: Expose yourself to new ideas, place, people, experiences, podcasts, art (outside of photography)
  • Go out and make something
  • Study the work of others (David has a great list of questions to keep in mind when doing this, to help you figure out why a photograph works or doesn’t work, and he is very firm on the importance of doing these exercises)

Brainsparker (thing 17)

I finished module 9’s workout. I think this has been my favourite module so far. This lesson included a playbook to help you create your own “innovator fitness plan”. I didn’t get to doing that this week, but it’s something to look at next week.

21 for 2021 summary

  • Things completed this week: 11
  • Things completed to date: 4 (1, 11, 18, 20)
  • Things I progressed: 6 (2, 4, 5, 8, 9, 17)
  • Things in progress I didn’t progress: 6 (6, 7, 10, 13, 14, 16)
  • Things not started: 5 (3, 12, 15, 19, 21)

What I’m reading this week

  • Mindfulness-Integrated CBT for Well-Being and Personal Growth by Bruno A. Cayoun
  • Writing True Stories by Patti Miller
  • The Joy of High Places by Patti Miller

Habit tracker

  • Days I went for a walk in the morning (Goal = 5): 7
  • Days I did my morning planning routine at work (Goal = 5): 0
  • Days I did my post-work pack up routine (Goal = 5): 0
  • Days I worked on my art (Goal = 2): 3
  • Days I read a book (Goal = 7): 7
  • Days I did yoga stretches (Goal = 7): 0
  • Days I had a lunch break away from my desk (Goal = 5 work days): 5
  • Days I went for a walk or did other physical activity in the afternoon (Goal = 5): 6
  • Days I shut my computer down before 9.45 (Goal = 6): 5


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