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2018: A Year in Review

“People do not decide their futures, they decide their habits and their habits decide their futures.” – F.M. Alexander

It is with both a combination of frustration and a little embarrassment that I finally get to post my “2018 Year in Review”. January has been nothing less than a wild ride; I traveled to six countries and spent only thirteen nights at home! It is now February and I’m a month overdue with writing this post. With that said, I do need to wait until mid-January for my data provider subscriptions to perform their aggregations before I am able to post this (see statistics from RescueTime, Exist.io, DayOne, TripIt later). Now that they are all in, let’s go!

2018 Statistics

Drucker famously said that what gets measured gets done. I have quoted this before and find it even more applicable given some of the highlights of 2019. The more I measure with technology the more insights I’m gaining and the adjustments I’m able to make in productivity, efficiency and effectiveness.

Travel

I traveled to 15 unique countries (35 total country crossings in 2018). Only three of those unique countries is new (e.g. Switzerland, Corsica and Portugal). This year I want to increase the new country count as I love discovering new food, cultures and people. Russia, Iceland, Egypt and Lebanon are targets for 2019. Below is a TripIt table summary:

Productivity

I’ve continue to use RescueTime for monitoring my technology. As a knowledge worker, most of my time is spent on technology. RescueTime tracks device time against various categories (e.g. productive, unproductive etc.).

In 2018, RescueTime logged 1,538 hours total hours just on my MacBookPro. 630 hours were tracked as productive and 187 as distracting (i.e. email, Slack, instant messaging etc.). I also spend as equal time on my iPad as I use it for copious amounts of note-taking (with OneNote and an Apple Pencil; my perspective on that here). Unfortunately RescueTime isn’t tracking tablet or smart phone usage in the detail I would like. There are some glimmers of hope given Apple decided to open up some iOS APIs in 2018.

Reading

I’ll discuss reading more in detail later in this post. In 2018 I set myself the challenge of reading 50 books. I ended up actually reading 61 books. This is far less than I did in 2016 and 2017 however I believe I now have the right balance. This momentum will continue in 2019.

Miscellaneous

Exist.io and Life Cycle are the last two areas of data capture. Both applications are data aggregators which take measures from RescueTime, Apple Health, Cronometer andSleepCycle to provide a correlated view of what’s happening in my life. Some interesting statistics:

  • 4.3 million steps taken (3,169 km walked)
  • 7 hours and 18 minutes of average sleep per night (Happy with this result!)
  • Location breakdown:
    • 2,490 hours at home (Note I also work from home a lot)
    • 19 days and 10 hours of active time (average of 1.5 hours per day doing some sort of exercise)
    • 623 hours at a work location
    • 396 hours at a hotel
    • 296 hours of transportation (car, bus, cycling around London)
    • 165 hours on a plane
    • 64 hours of waiting at airports (always find this one interesting)
  • Mood breakdown:
    • 4 days Amazing
    • 39 days Great
    • 197 days Good
    • 106 of Okay
    • 3 of Bad

2018 Highlights

The first major highlight was on my switch of focus from goals to habits. I’ve been a very goal orientated person over the years. I typically achieve goals and then instantly search for the next thing. One of the drivers of this change to habits is due to James Clear and Tony Robbins. First, James Clear’s blog and recently released book advocates the establishment of habits coupled with deliberate practice. Tony Robbins supports this approach by preaching fulfilment versus achievement. In this scenario you set a habit to be a healthy person or an excellent speaker. Both focus areas can be hard to measure in aggregate, yet both can be approached by habitually chipping away each and every day (the 1% rule). I typically hit the gym or exercise every day in some way. I also tend to eat well on a daily basis. Similarly I’ve been a Toastmaster for 16+ years and continue to hone my speaking skills both in the Toastmasters environment as well as in my day job. The more I do the 1%, the compounding effect comes into force significantly.

The second major highlight was my reading. Back in 2015 I started a goal of reading 50+ books. I achieved this in 2015 and decided to increase this to 80+ books in 2016 and 2017. Reading has given me an incredible opportunity to learn many things that I have applied in my life. What I did find interesting was the difference between achievement versus fulfilment (see my reference to Tony Robbins earlier). My focus was on hitting the reading goal versus getting the knowledge and wisdom from those books. Therefore in 2018 I set the goal for 50 books and ended up reading 61. The focus is now more on the book reviews and application of the knowledge I gained. This worked well and I’ll continue this approach going forward.

The third highlight was turning 40. Although to me age is just a number, I felt it was a unique opportunity for celebration and reflection. My family flew over from Australia to celebrate with me in London. It was great to have them in town as well the trip we took to Europe. Once they left I decided to turn my focus on the 40 years of potential reflection. I took off with a friend and rode a motorcycle around Switzerland and southern France for about a week. It was my time to think about where I’ve come from, what I have accomplished and where I want to go in future. Doing this in relative isolation (on the back of my motorcycle) is highly recommended as I find I do my best thinking in these situations and learn quite a bit about myself. The side benefit was the feeling I have missed for years when it comes to riding in picturesque environment!

The travelling bug continues to play a focus in my life. One of the trips was to Singapore to attend the second instalment of the Graduate Certificate in Global Management with INSEAD. The course was two weeks focusing on Finance for Executives. Finance is an area for me I need to deepen my knowledge in. Studying with a group of senior executives that come with a wealth of experience in finance certainly justified the large investment of time and money I made (it was very expensive).

The last highlight is Toastmasters. In 2017 – 2018 I took on the role of Area Director. My aim was to give back to an organisation that has provided me with so much benefit over the years. I’m a confident and capable public speaker because of Toastmasters. I want to make sure this organisation continues to thrive. By continuing my volunteer work as a District Leader, it will help others like me develop the confidence and skills needed to get up in front of people and get their message across. I enjoyed the Area Director role and decided to nominate for the Division Director in July of 2018. As a Division Director, I now support a number of Area Directors, many more clubs and a larger membership base. I’ve had to continue to expand my leadership abilities. More importantly, I have learned to hone the art of motivating members to volunteer and contribute when they may not necessarily get a direct benefit (e.g. money).

2019

The focus for 2019 will be consistency. I have established many important things in my life and the focus is to continue this momentum. Sometimes I fall off the path yet end up jumping back on. I may not be able to do a full gym session or eat well every single day, however, it is critical that the next day I’m back into the gym and balancing the not so good with something healthy. This focus on habits will also include the posting of blogs and book reviews when fresh in my mind.

The other focus area for 2019 will be music. Music has played an incredible role in my life. From gaining a choral scholarship in order to attend a private school to being an electronic music DJ, music continues to push boundaries, get creative and to think outside of the box. With all the reading and learning I do, music will help keep the balance on creativity and thinking differently.

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