Happy New Year

It’s been a while since I posted. I know. It’s been a busy year and a the end of it has left me with little to add. As I reflect on the year I realize that I abandoned the blog because it wasn’t really making a difference. I wasn’t really saying anything new. I read blogs all the time and there is a lot of conversation about what is wrong with education, what is wrong with the world and they aren’t really creating change. Maybe some people feel better by complaining about what suck about this and that but it just makes me more distressed. 

I’m not big on making New Year’s resolutions but the new year has just seem to come when I feel the need to make some changes in my life. Nothing big. I just want to concentrate more on the things that I enjoy doing and be more involved in helping people and the world.

I’ve been following a blog by Niall Doherty called Disrupting the Rabblement for a couple of years. Niall is attempting to travel the world without flying. He’s not a billionaire or a millionaire. He pretty much does it on a shoestring. A great voyeuristic adventure for me to read but a little out of my current level of comfort. Anyway, one thing that Niall does is track his monthly activity in several areas that he calls habits and also charts his daily sense of his own energy, contentment, stress and productivity. I’ve decided to adopt this practice for my own to see how it works. You can see my spreadsheet here.

On my chart I intend to keep track of the following:

1. Time awake and time asleep = hours of sleep per day

2. No. of days and how many miles run – I’m training for the Pittsburgh Marathon in May

3. Days doing Yoga and other exercise.

4. Days practicing Spanish, days volunteering, days reading, days writing, and days posting a photo to my other blog. All things that I wish I did more of.

5. Score myself on a 1-10 basis on energy level, productivity, contentment and stress level. This is more for the science to see if there is a relationship between some activities and these scores. I don’t intend to spend much time contemplating the score but just making a snap decision.

6. Score myself from 1-10 on my social behavior. Not my social media behavior but being sociable with others. This is something that I struggle with.

7. Days completing a “key activity.” The key activity will be one thing that I want to accomplish during that day. It will also be something that I would put off if I didn’t track it or make myself do it.

One idea that I have kicked around in order to add time for these things is to eliminate TV. Not sure if that is going to happen or not but the amount of time that I waste watching crappy television robs me of the opportunity to do some of these other things.

I hope some people follow along to see my progress!



Start With One Space

I’m not usually a New Year’s resolution type of guy. I do use that time of the year as well as my birthday to reflect on what I have done and where I want to go. It helps to keep me focused and to stay in the moment.

This year I made an exception. I made a resolution. Don’t get too excited. It seems pretty simple. This year I resolved to only put one space after an end mark when I type. Tough one write. I read something about why we were taught in school to put two spaces and the logic seemed acceptable to me. With the advent of true type fonts, all letters no longer take up the same amount of space. On a typewrite each strike took up a finite amount of space. The double space was necessary to give the end of a sentence some room.

Anyway, not as easy as it sounds. For four or five weeks I backspaced and fixed every double space at the end of a sentence. Eventually I was doing it less and less until finally I don’t do it at all. 

So, what’s my point.

Habits. I know this is a simple example but it is an example of what it takes to get into the habit of doing something. I’m not talking about quitting smoking or any big deal habits but little, positive habits. For example, writing your blog, being creative, exercising, bettering yourself in some way.

I began reading this book called Manage Your Day-to Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus, and Sharpen Your Creative Mind. It’s a collection of essays by people with creative minds and it gives their perspectives on the tenets of the book. 

In the second essay, Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project writes about the power of frequency. In her essay she talks about how frequency has helped advance her writing career. I won’t give you all the information; you should read it. She does though quote another great writer, Anthony Trollope, “A small daily task, if it really be daily, will beat the labours of a spasmodic Hercules.” 

When I think of leaders and educators in relation to this point, I think of the fact that we become overwhelmed by the big picture, the big ideas and sometimes that freezes us. “We’ll never get kids to think like the CCSS want us to” or “There is no way we will ever get students to be 100% proficient in PSSA.” I know I experience the same thing when I write. “I’ll never be able to write that well” or “I really don’t have anything good to write about today.” So we do nothing.

Doing nothing is easy. Making excuses is easy. Neither one will improve the learning of our students or get us where we want to be. Goals are a great idea but setting goals is only the first step in achieving them. Achieving goals means we have to bite off little bits at a time.

The point is that if we are focused and chip away at it every day, we can. If we make focus a priority and a habit and we do it with frequency, we can. If we take that gargantuan task and make them into minuscule, manageable tasks, we can. Every step forward is a step forward.

If we start with just one space.