Head down bum up kind of week, you know? Lots of doing and not a whole lot of the usual over-thinking. So with no major ‘donut’ this week, I thought I’d write a little summary about how I feel about this whole Two in Fifty Two thing so far.
When we started this blog, there wasn’t much thought behind its purpose and we didn’t set out with any agenda or have any grand plans for the blog. Initially it was just a fun way for Tim to document his journey through his year-long sabbatical. Then, it morphed into an experiment to see how both of our journeys would compare.
We also thought that Two in Fifty Two could be a good resource for other people to realise that they are not alone in their own journeys. For this reason we have strived to be as real, raw and transparent as possible in order to present our experiences in their most accurate form. No curation, no holding back. This has resulted in Tim and I having to be quite open and honest by publicly exposing some of our own vulnerabilities and emotional struggles. We’re now almost halfway through the year and while I’m not totally sure if the blog has helped others I do know that it has certainly taught me things I didn’t initially anticipate. I want to share a some of the lessons I’ve learnt so far:
I’m not sure if there is some sort of taboo about ‘reflection’ but when we started we purposely avoided using the word as if it might deter people. Where did this stigma around ‘reflection’ come from? Is it so strong that people are not only avoiding the word, but also avoiding reflection all together? Whatever the case may be and contrary to the above, I’ve found that reflection is actually very useful. It has helped me identify common thoughts that regularly arise and afforded me the opportunity to address them as actual real-life problems. This has had an immeasurable effect on my own personal development. Things that I struggled with early on in the year (confidence, self esteem, chaotic thought etc) are slowly improving.
I must admit, I haven’t nailed a solid routine yet but committing to writing one blog post per week has really made me appreciate the value of establishing a routine. You actually get things done. I’m not talking about a set-in-stone, inflexible, hour-by-hour routine but instead a rough idea of what your day/week ahead might involve. I often find myself complaining that I don’t have enough time to ‘practice’ certain skills or work on my side projects. In truth it’s not because I don’t have time it’s because I don’t make time. I don’t make time because I have no routine to make time in. Without a routine it is hard to identify blocks of time during a week that I can use. Having a routine turns time into a tangible object that I can reserve when I need it instead of hoping that the time will come up at “some point this week”. This doesn’t just apply to work either. As a notoriously take-everything-as-it-comes type of person I’ve found that establishing some sort of routine for my daily activities is helping me be more productive and more aware of time. Like I said though, I’m not nailing it yet but I’m getting there.
If was I to describe how my thoughts would look I would say they look like a trillion little multi-coloured confetti streamers being shot into the air from 34 confetti cannons while Taylor Swift belts it out on stage. I think a lot about a lot of things at the same time. For this reason it’s often difficult for me to explain things or for me to spontaneously verbalise the thoughts I’m having at any given time. Writing has helped me organise each of those trillion multi-coloured confetti streamers into neat piles sorted by both colour and size. The piles are easy to identify, easy to process and easy to package if I need to quickly hand them on to to someone. Writing has made the things in my mind clearer and both my written and verbal communication better. Compared to the beginning of the year, I am explaining things better and and verbalising my thoughts and ideas without too much rambling.
I’ve mentioned this a few times now but writing for this blog is hard. At the beginning of the year, each post would take me about 6 hours to write and the quality of those posts didn’t necessarily reflect the time it took to write them. However, twenty-three weeks in, each post is taking me less time and I’m increasingly happier with their quality. I attribute this to this cycle: I am organising my thoughts better (as explained above) because I am engaging in weekly writing practice. Practice is making me a better writer which in turn, is helping me to organise my thoughts. Repeat. I’ve always known that there is validity in the concept of ‘practice makes perfect’ and yet it’s something I haven’t actively put into action in recent times. This is silly. The phrase is as black and white as it sounds: practice and you will get better. After feeling like I had stalled in my progress as a designer, I am making more of an effort to practice what I do despite doing it every day.
There are probably a few more things I could add to this list, but I think that for now, these are my absolute top four. If you are thinking about starting a blog all I can suggest is that you do it. The kick backs are wonderful.
Sometimes, something that you set out to do surprises you with outcomes you never even anticipated. Embrace this because you could learn a few things. For me, Two in Fifty Two has taught me to reflect regularly, the power of routine, to write more and to practice my craft.