Last week’s post was all about where I’ve been living (Koh Phangan, an island in the south of Thailand), and this week’s post is all about what I’m doing. As well as some news on this blog, and a request for a little action from you.
Learning what works for me
People always seem fascinated by what I actually do with my time. And I guess given it’s so different from the ‘typical’ 9-5 (or 7-7!) life of many of my peers, I can imagine why.
After a year or more of living like this, I know my self a lot better, and what works for me and what doesn’t. I prefer some structure, and I like to be clear on my priorities for the day, for the week. I’m not great at relaxing, but I get energy from achieving goals and milestones, and I’d be bored if I didn’t have anything to do. My development needs are to make sure I balance all this ‘doing’ time with ‘being’ time.
My priorities are to: focus on health; earn enough money to live comfortably; continue developing and growing.
I have a ‘morning ritual’ which consists of a set of activities built around the keystone habit of morning pages (1000 words of free writing). I get up about 6.30 or 7am, and after showering and dressing, I go onto my balcony with my breakfast, which is always a plain 2 egg omelette. I’ve been experimenting lately with black tea as well, as my current place has the luxury of a kettle. While I write my morning pages I eat my omelette, usually treating myself to 1-2 bites every 100 words, to make sure the eating doesn’t distract me.
Look, I never said I wasn’t weird – I just said I would tell you how I spend my time…
Oh, and I turn the wifi off at night, so that when I turn on my computer and work I’m not immediately caught up in emails. I don’t turn the wifi on until the 1000 words, as well as my health tracking spreadsheet, are complete. Then I go online, and cycle through my inboxes, Facebook, the stats on my websites, and anything else that needs a quick check. I have tried to discipline myself not to get sucked into email at this point – I work through my emails as per my Inbox Zero rules, deal with quick stuff, file, delete and put into my ‘action’ folder for later.
This usually takes until about 8.15am, at which point I do some yoga practice. This is a lot more consistent after working out a practice which involves some effort, but not too much, so that I don’t keep overdoing it and crashing, and then not doing any for a few days. I spend some time in asanas (postures), and some time doing meditation. I’m working on being able to listen to my body so I am better equipped to sense what it needs at any point. The meditation is helping with this, as well as doing a 15 minute ‘body scan’ every day, (not this one but I thought you might like an example).
After practice, I write another 1000 words on fun personal project, and then, when it’s late morning, I go to my favourite coffee shop. I tried giving up coffee for about 5 weeks to see if it made a difference to my health, but having done that I’ve decided the cost-benefit isn’t worth it – I love good coffee, and as long as I stick to one a day, and ideally in the morning, it doesn’t impact me. So I have a cappuccino and fruit, yoghurt and muesli for lunch, while writing longer emails, writing blog posts (I’m writing this in the coffee shop in fact, cappuccino next to me!), and other administrative things.
The yoga school
I’m continuing on in my yoga studies here at Agama, and I’m on Level 6 now. I have two 4-hour classes a week (they usually have 1-2 hours of lecture/discussion and 2-3 hours of practice), so I don’t do my personal practice on those days. In the evenings, the yoga school also has lectures, q and a sessions with the senior teachers, as well as bahjans (devotional singing), film nights, various rituals and activities, and many other things. There’s rarely a time when there’s nothing to do!
I’m also volunteering at the moment on a project to edit the course notes from all the (24) levels, retreats and workshops that the school has (a LOT of words, I’m part of a team, don’t worry) which benefit from native English speakers reviewing them. That’s been interesting for me personally as it means I am really engaging with the texts and philosophies in detail, plus it fits my skill set (pedantic and detail-orientated) so feels good.
I aim to do about 8 days of paid work a month. I know, I know, I’m very lucky, don’t shut this post in outrage. So far this year I am about on track, although I am three days behind in April – I have a week of work booked in China next week, but I still need another three days on top of that. Hopefully as the month unfolds I will get back on track.
It’s been different for me being a freelancer. Whether or not I will get enough work definitely preoccupies me. I have a reasonable spread (geographically as well as client-wise), and it seems to be ok so far. But it’s on my mind. If I’m doing a project working from home, I try to spread it out so I don’t do a ‘full day’ in one day, as that makes it less like work and more relaxed. Plus, as I’ve mentioned, working from a hammock, whilst not totally practical full time, is good once in a while.
As above, the yoga school is pretty sociable, with so many activities and a community of a few hundred people from all over the world at any one time. It can be hard to see good friends come and go, and indeed, come and go yourself, but there are many interesting and friendly travellers here, all with their own unique and colourful story, and they are usually focused on their own development given their interest in yoga. I’ve made some great friends here.
I try and make sure I skype friends and family from home too, as those long term connections are so important, and I miss the comfort of the friend who knows your backstory, your mistakes and how you’ve grown, and loves you anyway. I don’t want to be ‘the friend that time forgot’, though the 6 hour time difference can make fitting in with others’ schedules challenging.
I continue to read a lot (see GoodReads panel to the right of the blog for what I’m reading at the moment), a good variety. I usually have at least one non-fiction book for development as well as some fun fiction on the go. Plus I sometimes have some more ‘duty’ fiction – at the moment I’m reading Walden, but although some of the ideas are interesting, I find it quite turgid – mainly because one paragraph can last two densely packed pages of text. I slog on with it…
I’m also doing another fascinating course, this time around online business. This is supporting my thinking around how to blend my online and offline skills in some kind of portfolio career, enabling me to keep a similar kind of life going wherever I live in the world. I would say this is very much a work in progress, but all the information and skills I am learning will help me in whatever I end up doing, I am sure. No, I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up, but I know more about what I enjoy and what I don’t enjoy.
A little news
I’ve been writing this blog for 16 months now, and this is my 66th post, publishing weekly. I love writing it, and connecting with you all out there. But with my other blog, and many other projects on the horizon, I’ve decided to publish something every two weeks from now on. This retains the regularity, discipline, and opportunity to do something I love, without the pressure.
I’m very keen to know what type of post most interests you, and if there are any particular topics you’d love me to write about. Obviously I have the stats, which help, but I’m really keen on gathering some ‘reader feedback’ too.
So I’m asking you all to write me a quick comment below NOW, telling me:
1) What kind of posts you enjoy most
2) What you would like me to write about in future posts
With thanks, and wishing you a wonderful week wherever you are in the world.
PS – you may also enjoy my second article published on TinyBuddha.com: 3 Vital Lessons on Living a Life that Won’t Lead to Regret