Just got back from my 2 week San Fran + Seattle roadtrip! It was great and really a perfect break from work (thx to Eugene for helping to handle the stuff that suddenly came up). We spent around half of the trip being in nature + driving a lot, and the other half sightseeing in Seattle, and I think the two parts balanced out really well :D will post more about my trip but for now it’s back to work! Below is what I writing started before the trip but didn’t finish and post.
Work is pretty different from school in that after I leave the office, I (usually) don’t need to do any work-related stuff anymore! But because work takes up so much time, the few free hours at night and on weekends are super precious. So I’ve been reading a bit on productivity advice and trying to cultivate some habits to make good use of my time and money, and also to stay healthy. Here’s my 10 habits and how they’ve been going so far:
1. Read on my commute
I realised that it’s super easy to get stuck on my phone- by browsing insta, looking at stuff to buy online, or playing games. Instead of wasting my 1h commute every day doing these things that ultimately don’t really add value, I use this time to read. Ever since my discovery of NLB ebooks on overdrive + getting my new kindle, I’ve been reading a lot! On average maybe 1 book every 1-2 weeks, with a mixture of fiction and nonfiction. But I always end up finishing fiction books much faster because I’ll be v engrossed in the story and keep on reading at night after I get home hahaha.
2. Do knee exercises at least 2 times a week and a long run once a month
Part of my knee recovery plan is to do strengthening exercises every 2-3 days, and to go for a longer run once a month. Currently the max I’ve run after my injury is 4km, but I want to slowly increase it by adding 1km every month. Idea is that by scheduling a longer run every start of the month, I will be motivated to run on other weeks also to prepare for it. It also helps that my department has a “jogging group” and we go for runs every Thurs after work.
Was keeping up with this plan pretty well from start of the year to Apr but this month has been a fail 😖 I will catch up and slowly increase until 10km by the end of this year!
3. Record my daily expenses
I’m proud to say that I’ve been consistently recording all my expenses since I started working in Oct! It helps me be aware of how much I’m spending (biggest portion always goes to food, esp when I eat out more often) and makes me think more carefully about whether something is worth the price. If I just calculate based on my “normal” daily expenses (food and transport), my expenses should be v little actually. But one thing I’ve realised is that every month is an “abnormal” month- with just one or two “one-off” significant expenses that end up bumping up my spending by $100+ eg. my kindle, earphones, archery lessons, new shoes. I’ve been pretty successful in staying within $600/month excluding travelling and giving my parents money, an amount which I think is sufficient but not overly restrictive.
4. Track my money every end of the month
I created a spreadsheet to track how much I have in cpf, bank accounts and investments. It’s v satisfying to see the total go up every month xD and it’s also to chart my progress towards financial independence!
5. Eat vegetarian one meal a week
Was inspired to eat less meat after watching Food Inc for my hass module last year, it’s a documentary about factory farming which shows how horrendous and inhumane our treatment of animals is. But at the same time I love eating meat. So I decided to start small, just eating 1 vegetarian meal every week. I had some trouble sticking with it at first but managed to do it much more consistently after deciding to fix the day, making every Monday lunch vegetarian.
[edited to include this video that joe just happened to send me! I don’t like to push my views onto other people but hopefully this makes you motivated to eat vegetarian once a week too]
6. Sleep 7.5h every night
Some people seem to be able to survive on very little sleep but I’m clearly not one of them LOL. Been trying to stick to a routine of getting ready to go sleep at 11.30pm, and waking up at 7.30am for work. I feel like getting the number of hours is one thing, but having a consistent sleeping & wake up time also makes a lot of difference in making me feel much more awake in the mornings.
7. Blog once every 2 weeks
Maybe I should rename these posts to “biweekly thoughts” hahaha… I take v long to write my posts but I think it’s worth the time to record down my thoughts to 1. practise writing, 2. clarify my thoughts and reflect a bit on what’s been happening, and 3. so I can read next time and look back on stuff I did and how I felt/thought about it!
8. Set 2-3 goals daily to focus on at work
When I get to the office every morning, I try to think through the list things I need to do and then pick a few to prioritise for the day. Sometimes this isn’t that applicable cos when I’m mainly working on one project, I just have to continue working on it lol but I’ll try to set out which feature(s) to do for the day. Some days I feel like I don’t accomplish much in my programming work cos there are random small stuff that end up taking a lot of time eg. writing emails, discussions/meetings, preparing instructions for other people. And not to mention people randomly hanging around wanting to chit chat….. I mean it’s nice to be able to chat with colleagues a bit, but sometimes I just wanna focus and do my stuff lol.
9. Do online courses once a week to keep learning
I bought a couple of courses on Udemy when they had a sale last year but still haven’t finished even one :X I tried to set this habit but haven’t really been following it so far.
10. Reflect about the week every Sun night
I’ve been trying to spend ~20min at the end of every week to write down how the week has been, highlights and not-so-good stuff, actionable for the next week. Tbh I’m not very convinced that this has been useful haha, will see how it goes and whether I should continue.