August 2020 Review

five bulb lights

So I’m trying a new thing.

I want to start reflecting more on passing months, parsing patterns and reflecting on results, so as to inform future behaviour.

Hopefully, it’ll provide an inkling for where my time is spent and which areas require greater investment.

Side note – I can’t believe it’s August already, the year swallowing us whole like quicksand.

There’s an argument, much like Dunbar’s assertion in Catch 22, that if we can extend subjective perception by making life more boring, it will pass slower. Who knows!

I do feel, however, that these reviews might help me reflect on the quotidian, creating memory pegs on which to hang any meaningful moments.

Tldr – August was busy on a professional front but less so in the personal domain, where it was primarily maintenance mode.

Professional

Work life has been busy. Fortunately, due to the current demand for digital marketing services, I’ve been incredibly busy.

While many people in face-to-face industries are fearful regarding an uncertain future, I feel incredibly grateful that I can work remotely.

Most of my time this month has been spent on client work which unfortunately hasn’t left much time for blog writing.

Side projects

While this website my main side project, I certainly haven’t been writing as prolifically as bygone months.

When I think of the skills I wish to develop and activities providing most pleasure and return on investment, writing is near the top of the list.

This means that it deserves daily investment, likely first thing upon waking.

One reason for the writing slow down is my work on another tentative side project.

It was rumbling along pretty well, but after experiencing some technical issues, it’s become a slight mental drain.

More clarity is needed here as I decide whether to contract outside assistance, but nevertheless, it shouldn’t distract me from contributing here.

Exercise

This month my plantar fasciitis worsened, which resulted in less running. I feel the new trainers I bought 6 weeks ago overpronate my feet, affecting my biomechanics and causing greater pain at the onset of exercise.

Despite this, I was still happy to see that I’ve run every other day of the month through August. (Note – I use a Garmin Instinct Tactical watch to track my workouts).

On the days I’ve rested my foot from excessive impact, I’ve generally still managed a walk.

Furthermore, my foot complaint (and good weather) has encouraged more cycling and although I only recently purchased a cheap bike, I’m enjoying some lovely evening rides after sitting in the office all day. In August I completed 10 rides.

Unfortunately, I haven’t played any tennis since lockdown, which is my own fault.

Although the indoor facility I use is still closed, my regular partners have played outdoors and I just haven’t joined in as yet.

This might become more difficult with the unpredictability of impending autumnal weather.

Meditation

I haven’t done as well on the meditation front this month, completing only 15 sessions.

I feel that my routine has slipped slightly because I’ve stopped practising early in the morning in favour of creative cognitive lifting, with Zazen then slipping through the cracks of busy work days.

What I have found beneficial when not practising morning meditation is to perform an afternoon supine mindfulness period, which has significantly alleviated my mid-later day mental slump.

After lying down for 30 minutes and focusing on my breath, I reemerge a new person.

The main takeaway is that I must experiment more with my routine to encourage daily practice.

Learning

I’m always keen to learn new things, but this enthusiasm doesn’t always translate to the nitty-gritty of skill acquisition.

Anyways, I’m attempting to keep up with the kids and code (albeit very slowly).

So as to re-instil the habit, I’ve re-watched a few videos from my Udemy course this month.

I was also excited to receive a digital drawing tablet delivery today (Wacom One).

Excited until I took it out of the box and started using it, that is. My God I’m rubbish.

I suppose it’s to be expected, but it seems that it’s not only about learning how to draw (no mean feat in itself) but also navigating the myriad of online software applications to bring my terrible digital creations to life.

photo of emoticon artwork

Reading

I got through some good reading in August. Btw, check out my books page, with summaries and all that jazz.

  • Vicious by V.E. Schwab – completed
  • Wool by Hugh Howey – completed
  • Shift by Hugh Howey -completed
  • Great Leads by Michael Masterson – ongoing
  • A Jouney to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne – unfortunately, I couldn’t hack ye olde English language translation on this one and gave up

Social life

Social life has, predictably, been affected by the virus.

Having said that, I was working from home before the outbreak and so my routine remains largely unchanged on the professional front.

It did seem that people were increasingly emerging from their cocoons during the fine August weather, so I was able to catch up with some friends.

I definitely need to put more effort into my social life, which admittedly is a delicate balancing act given the distancing measures in place.

Experiments

email blocks on gray surface

The one new experiment I started this month was cold email.

I’m increasingly cognisant that reaching out to new people is essential for both personal and professional development.

With email we can introduce ourselves to potential employers, possible collaborators or simply those we admire.

Frequent advice to new freelancers concerns maintaining a full pipeline at all times, lest work dries up unexpectedly, so I thought I’d email potential clients to surface interesting future projects.

I started this experiment in a non-optimal way, using a free Gmail account for outreach emails.

This means that emails go sometimes go to spam folders, the hard work of lead generation ultimately wasted.

Having said that, most of my emails did bypass the Internet Gods leading to a promising conversation with one business owner.

Although it wasn’t a good fit, I remain confident in the power of cold email.

So I ended up investing in a new email address, setting up DNS, SPF and DMARC records and warming up the account using an automated service.

This should ensure that more of my emails arrive in inboxes.

Okay, that’s it for August. Overall a sound if not spectacular month.



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