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May 2008 monthly report

This is my fifth monthly report. To review introductory comments and the purpose of these reports, please refer to the initial report made for January 2008. Text in italics is copied from the previous monthly report for reference.

Looking back: May 2008
For the first time since I began with these reports, I am not satisfied with my progress. Or rather, I am not satisfied with how I have gone about completing the tasks I have set up; too much is left undone or simply forgotten. Introducing a new organisational system will hopefully help.

Report: Well, it did not help, but more on that later. I am not convinced that it is the system that is faulty. Studying has taken much more time and mental space than I thought it would, so I will give this another month before considering changing system again.

Physical – My highest priority now is to keep developing shoulder, upper back and triceps endurance for hand walking. The 10000 repetitions last month was almost too much, so an increase would simply not be possible. Thus, I will formulate the goal a little bit different: I will do 5000 repetitions during May, but no fewer than 100 in each set. I will also try to walk as far as I possibly can at least three times.

Report: I managed to accomplish both goals, but due to laziness during the previous two weeks, I did not do more. This goal was set much too low. Doing 100 repetitions per set was more demanding, but not as demanding as I thought it would be. I have walked fifty meters several times during the past month (in one session, I did it three times in a row). Still, in the building I practice, I have to turn around after fifty meters, which is yet too hard to do. I have no trouble turning around after twenty meters, but fifty? No. If I want a real assessment of how far i can walk, I need more space. My approximation is than 60-70 metres is my theoretical maximum at present.

As for the workout regimen, I intend to keep the goal from last month, which means that I aim for eight sessions during May. This goal might be too ambitious, but since the program is so good and twice a week is not that much, I will do my best.

Report: Failure, again! This time I have a much better motivation, though. I have spent 5249 minutes on physical activities this month, mainly because of excessive volleyball playing (a staggering 2040 minutes!). In that light, it is no wonder that I had no energy to do physical workout. Still, it is a good program and I would hate to drop it entirely.

Since I have now finished my goal concerning running, I am not interested in increasing mileage or anything. Instead, I will only try to uphold some healthy cardiac output and to feel good about my running. My goal is to run 75 kilometres during May.

Report: Failure! I ran 42 kilometres during the past month. The explanation is the same as the one for the exercise regimen, i.e. I have been to busy spending my energy elsewhere.

Education – Even though I have things scheduled for next month, May is when it all comes together. I have three exams and one project, all to be finished during May. This will require a lot of time and discipline, but I am confident that I will continue to produce good results. I will set no particular goal for these exams, since I have not yet assessed how important they are, but I intend to be at least moderately prepared for all of them and hand in the project on time.

These exams are all finished or handed in. I think I did well on all but one, and that last one might still have been good enough. I will report back later as results drop in.

In order to go to Taiwan, I will need accomplish certain tasks. Firstly, I intend to have sent in whatever papers are required for the visa application and university applications. I must also vaccinate myself and submit myself to a health examination (as it happens, this is also an item on my 101-in-1001 list; other tasks on it will have to wait).

Report: Partial success. Most of the health examination is done and the rest is scheduled for early next week. The visa application is prepared, but the concerned authorities dissuaded me from sending anything in before mid-June. I have also booked a flight ticket for 2nd September.

Creativity – Since I have much else to do this month (see above), I do not think that there will be much time left for creative writing. Still, there is roughly a week at the end, after the exams. My intention is to keep the goal from last month, in other words to write a synopsis for the novel and discuss it with at least two friends.

Report: I was wrong. The last exam was yesterday, so I have had no time or possibility to accomplish this task.

Last month, I started drawing. It felt good at first, but then other things intruded on my time and focus, making me put away the pencil and paper again. During next month, I will try to draw at least ten hours, so as to keep the project alive.

Report: Failure. I have not spent a single hour drawing. This is not because of the fact that I have had much else to do, bur rather that I have chosen other ways to spend the time I have to spare. This will have to change. This is about attitude and mindset, not about available time.

Sleep – Having introduced myself to sleep and dreaming in general, and to lucid dreaming in particular, I intend to continue down this road. Firstly, I intend to spend another five hours researching normal sleep (not dreaming). Secondly, I will start trying to learn lucid dreaming. The first step is to remember one’s dreams, so during May, I will keep a dream journal and record whatever dreams I can recall.

Report: Partial success. I have spent a lot of time focusing on dreams. I have recorded many dreams, written down some and thought about as many as possible. I have had two minor lucid dreams, one was only a few seconds long before I woke up, but the other was longer. In that last one, I was also able to control my environment somewhat This is more progress than I had expected. Still, I did not spend time researching sleep, which I put down to having too much other, similar tasks to do (like studying and researching for my project).

Conclusion
I do not think this month says very much about the efficacy of my method, because I have had to much external pressure to do things (mostly the exams). However, it does say something about my ability to procrastinate and inhibit my creativity elsewhere when these pressures apply. In other words, even if I have spent a decent amount of time studying, if I would have been a little bit more disciplined, I could have done much more instead of playing Blockout. This is related to what I talk about in my article called The Illusory Choice of Postponement. Even though I am well aware of the mechanics of such reasoning, I have made myself guilty of it to a great extent during May. It will probably be a while until I can do something about this (next time I will have things to study after summer). Short-term rewards have dominated over long-term ones.

Looking ahead June 2008
The upcoming month will be a good indication of how well my method works, because having nothing or little I really have to do, there should be much mental space for various projects. Sure, working will hopefully occupy a lot of my time, but it does not claim mental energy in the same way as studying does. Sure, studying on my own will also drain energy, but it is only one project among many and pursued for fun. Let June be a month in which I can prove that I have the capability of doing things I want to do, rather than just procrastinate and wonder what happened afterwards. June is a month of opportunity, but also a month of challenges. The goals I have set up are much more ambitious than previous months and require a great deal of discipline. Still, I have more time and energy at my disposal, so I am optimistic.

Physical – Having a record of somewhat above fifty meters for hand walking simply will not do, so I intend to change method from greasing the groove (performing very many repetitions, but evenly spread out with much rest) to a more traditional method. In June, I intend to do 2500 hand-stand forehead touches, with at least 125 each set. This will be hard, because my previous record was below 140. Also, I shall walk a total of 2500 meters on my hands, regardless of distance walked per attempt.

Running will be circumstantial next month, so I will not define a very ambitious goal. The idea is to keep up endurance and cardiac output, not to run another Marathon. A modest goal of 50 kilometres will do.

It is time to start with the exercise regimen again. Last moth, I can honestly ascribe my failure to lack of time and motivation, but I hope things will be different this month. If not, I shall have to reconsider something fundamental about my physical activities. I intend to do at least five sessions.

Education – I have two things I need to learn before going to Taiwan: traditional characters and the Zhuyin Chinese phonetic system widely used in Taiwan. This month, I will focus on learning traditional characters. Hopefully, this will not prove to be to difficult, since the simplifications I have learnt up until now follow certain rules. I intend to have a 95 % score, testing all characters from last year, using traditional characters.

Professional – Put briefly, I aim to work at least 125 hours in June. I do not know how much more I can expect, but June seems guaranteed. If the opportunity to keep working in July presents itself, so much the better, but I cannot count on that.

Creativity – I will have several creative projects running during the summer. Firstly, my novel really ought to be started I if shall stand a chance of finishing a draft before next year. My goal for this month will still be moderate, though. I intend to have written and discussed a synopsis with at least two people (same goal as last month). Also, I shall write at least 1000 words of actual text, just to make sure I get started.

Secondly, I aim to finish a draft of Magneter och mirakel (in Swedish). This will mean listening to feedback and changing the game accordingly (a draft was sent out roughly two months ago and I expect feedback shortly).

Thirdly, I want to continue drawing. Still, as I have decided to do many other things, ten hours of drawing will suffice.

Sleep – Concerning my lucid dreaming project, since it proved a bit too time-consuming to write down every dream, I do not intend to continue with that. Instead, I will try to record every dream in some way (the recording function on my mp3-player works fine) . The idea is to keep focusing on dreams and make them important. I also intend to find and make a habit of at least two reality-checks.

101-in-1001 list – There are way too many things left on the list to make me comfortable. Most of them are either things I want to do or things I think would be good for me in some way. I intend to clear at least 20 tasks on the list this month. This seems like much, but I have realised that what I need in Taiwan is not a looming list of things I feel I ought to do.

Conclusion
I am not very happy with this report. The only things I really managed to do were things I had external pressure to complete (like the exams). That managed to stop me from doing much else, which is really bad. Even if next month will be circumstantially different, I hope that this downward trend will not persist.

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