Thursday, October 29, 2015


Thanks for the comments on my last post, lovely supportive, validating comments! Just what I need right now.

B has been having some...difficulties. It started before KG, so its not related. I actually thought it got better for a while with the excitement of a new school, but now its returned/gotten worse. He still loves school...just maybe school doesn't love him? I'm not going to go into it, but we are seeking outside help.

This is stressing me out and dredging up some of my worst fears as a parent. Lots of spiral-of-doom thinking going on in my head. Not good.

did I mention I hate holidays? I DO. I tried to embrace them last year and it was an epic failure. I much prefer the joys of an ordinary day to all the over-hyped built up and certainly unmet expectations of a holiday. And Halloween on a freaking SATURDAY? So now there is pressure for the WHOLE DAY to be FUN and SPECIAL. B (who forms unrealistic expectations and doesn't handle the unmet ones well at all) is sure to be in rare form.

On top of it all, I'm sick. I was sick last week with what felt like the worst cold ever---colds don't usually knock me out like this. I basically went to work, did the dinner/bed routine, and collapsed for 4 straight days. Then I felt amazing other than some congestion. My energy was back, I had a great weekend, and then I started getting insane sinus headaches, coughs, and that tiiiiirrrreeeed feeling yesterday. Ugh.

I'm supposed to run a 5K Saturday morning. Bleurgh. The plan was to work on speed leading up to the 5K. Ha. I've run maybe twice in the past 2 months? And slowly, at that. I know I can run the distance, I just don't want to embarrass myself with my time.

OK, back to work.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Weekend and life lessons

Another good weekend! And I never planned a thing going into it. Just happened to have really nice weather & I took advantage to make sure we had plenty of time outdoors both days. I actually had to work Saturday (we have to do Saturday morning clinics a few times a year, seeing new patients myself and also supervising fellows who actually get PAID extra to do this, whereas its part of our routine duties). I left home at 7:30 AM and got back around 1 PM. While I was gone, the boys had swim lessons and then went to the coffee shop and hung out outside. I ate a quick lunch and then we headed to a neighborhood pumpkin-decorating event.

It was one of those small things that I just happened to hear about and forget, until I saw them setting up on my way home from work and realized they were providing the pumpkins, so at the very least, we should go snag free pumpkins! The kids LOVED it. they had glitter paint and markers & all kinds of stickers and creepy things to glue on. They decorated every inch of their pumpkins, and picked out loads of little cheap plastic crap & terrible candy to take home (seriously, no chocolate at all!). The "D'oh!" moment was when I realized we had 2 very large pumpkins wetly covered with glitter glue to get 1/2 a mile home. So I carried one, with my arms stretched out in front of me so I didn't get glitter on my nice jacket (quite a bicep workout!) and returned with the stroller for the other one. Instead of going home we went to the park and stayed for over 2 hours! They climbed (very low) trees, jumped in leaves, played chase with new friends, and generally had an awesome time while I marveled at the warm sunshine and brilliant colored leaves. I had the forethought to order a pizza a little while before we left, so we could pick it up on our way home. Energy out, dinner taken care of, and G had 4+ hours to himself to work on his newest project (L's bed).  Then G headed out to the grocery store, so the kids and I had a music dance party and I got them into bed.

Sunday the kids were obsessed with being "artists" and coloring & painting for hours, so we got the chores done (laundry/food prep). I went to the gym for the 11:30 class, while G packed some sandwiches for a park picnic. I worked out for an hour, ran an errand, ate lunch, took a long shower, and they were still at the park so I joined them. Another amazing day---so warm I was in a T-shirt. I know these days are numbered so we let them stay until L was rubbing his eyes while he ran. G decided he wanted to make rice crispie treats so we got the ingredients on the way home & he made them with the kids. They were REALLY REALLY good. We added large dark chocolate chips and some graham cracker crumbs for "smores-style" treats. G had gotten into his head the idea to watch a non-kid movie with the kids (I warned him against it) so we convinced them to watch Back to the Future. To my utter amazement, they LOVED It and never complained or asked to watch Frozen or Toy Story instead. I watched with them (another surprise, I usually use movie-time to get things done and I'm not a fan of re-watching movies over & over again) and we had a lot of fun!

We all agreed it was an awesome weekend. Yet we didn't really DO anything special. I finally got back on-line Sunday night and realized that everyone else was at the pumpkin patch or the zoo halloween event or some other major activity. And for a split second I felt that FOMO/guilty feeling that we should've done those things too. Comparison really is the thief of joy. If we had a great weekend, and were happy & satisfied, why should I care what others did or feel like we missed out on something? Sure, those things might have been fun, and maybe I can plan better to do them next year, but we ALSO had fun! The whole point of weekends for me is to reconnect with my family, maybe get some time for myself, and prepare for the week....and this weekend accomplished all those things. Our weekend was also simple and (mostly) free, involved lots of unstructured time for the kids and lots of time outdoors---two things that I've realized are essential for all of us.

Not identical, but similar, is the feeling I get when I read too much "life advice". Whether its related to career or exercise or personal finance or time management---there are countless "experts" giving very well-meaning advice usually amounting to "this is what worked for me and you should do it too".  And its easy to feel like a failure when you can't keep up with all the things you are "supposed to" do. I  have to remind myself to take a step back and realize that not all advice I read is applicable to me nor is it possible to follow every piece of advice out there---in face, some advice is so directly conflicting that it is categorically IMpossible to do both! It may be the wrong time in life for me to do those things or I just may not be the right person for it and it will NEVER apply. I'm getting way way better at this with age and resultant wisdom (ha!) but I admit to still falling into the trap when new ideas make their way to me screen (i.e. the money thing, and why I had to step away from any extreme frugality blogs. Not for me, I have no goals that require that level of penny-pinching, yet...I still feel guilty spending $ on frivolities when people making 6 figure incomes are eating breakfasts that cost 10 cents each or wearing 4 sweaters to bed to save on heating).

Lessons learned: be myself, don't compare to others, and filter advice through a very loose sieve and ignore what is not pertinent.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Enablers! All of you!

Wow, that last post got a TON of comments, and some brand new commenters, too! Maybe I should stick to writing about my fashion woes. I'm often surprised by which posts garner lively discussions and which ones seem to fall flat. I guess asking for practical advice on a not-too-loaded issue is a sure bet.

The good/bad news is that I took your advice and started browsing catalogs and style blogs, and the next thing I knew I had loaded up a few online shopping carts and have some flare jeans, superga sneakers, and interesting tops coming my way.

So I guess my shopping ban has ended prematurely. I made it almost 11 months. This time. There will definitely be more shopping bans in my future. I've decided that I'm an abstainer when it comes to regulating shopping. If I'm "allowed" to buy things, I will always find something I want/need (its too easy to shop on-line, I can do it on my phone while I'm waiting for the bus FFS!). When I decided to ban myself from shopping, I helped myself by unsubscribing from all emails and never going to websites or even fashion-related blogs (technically I told myself I wouldn't "go shopping" at stores either, but that opportunity really never presented itself). Any catalog that came into the house went straight into the recycling bin, I didn't even open it. And it was really really easy to stick to the ban. I didn't want anything, I didn't feel deprived---I didn't have to exercise any will power at all, it was great!

So now that I've bought some things & fallen back into browsing on-line, I've decided to give myself a little "shopping window",  make a list of everything I want/need (some things ARE needs, like new bras and sports bras), figure out a reasonable budget for those items, and go for it.

And then start a new shopping ban until next summer. I just don't trust myself to moderate when it comes to this issue.

There are definitely times when making too many rules complicates my life, but there are instances when it simplifies things to an amazing degree. No need to exert self-discipline or to make excuses or bargains when there is a hard & fast "No". Its like eating the same things for lunch every day or having my set gym days. I don't think about whether I'm tired or busy and maybe I'll go tomorrow instead---I know that's not an option so I just..go. There will be no "well, I know I don't NEED another dress, but I'll wear it a lot, and I promise I won't buy anything else this month, but oh, wait, these shoes are really cute and I don't have any that color and...OK here's the deal, I'll get both of those things but then I won't buy ANYTHING ELSE until...etc..."

Now to wait for those packages to arrive. I'm particularly curious about the flares, and if I have any shoes that will work with them.

Do you consider yourself an abstainer? If not, have you ever tried it?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Good Weekend Update and a little frivolity

Last weekend was...really good. All the elements came together: work-outs each morning (gym class Saturday, short run in COLD weather Sunday), loads of outdoor time (both afternoons spent 2-3 hours at a park), social time (kids birthday party Saturday evening with parents I like, and play date Sunday afternoon with moms I really like, with kids from B's old pre-K), and got stuff done (bulbs planted, and the usual laundry/food prep). Some of it was out of my control: it just HAPPENED that we had scheduled events both days, the play date was actually rescheduled from 3 weeks prior (it is HARD to get scheduled coordinated, people are so BUSY---we were the only ones that basically said we could meet up any weekend) and the timing of the birthday party (4:30-6:30) happened to work so so great---dinner for me and the boys taken care of, and got home, exhausted, just in time for bedtime routine. Plus, G was on some sort of roll and got ALL the dinner cooking done Sunday morning (he made FOUR curries!) and also the prep for lunches. All I had to do was assemble lunches, which took less than an hour. I also had LOADS of solo kid time. I took them swimming Saturday AM, to the birthday party that evening, to the play date Sunday and some other time on Sunday while G worked on a project.

Because its me, and I like analyzing processes and planning and optimizing, of course, I'm trying to figure out how to recreate such a weekend. Some thoughts: 1) do more solo 2-kid stuff instead of the splitting up thing we tend to do. I don't even mind being the one on kid duty (its building karma for when I want it, I have nothing I really need/want to do on weekends currently); I like doing things as a family, but the kids just are better when its only one of us 2) plan a Saturday evening activity. Its almost luxurious  getting home and not having to worry about dinner or entertainment, and just get them off to bed. too bad most kid-friendly places close around 5, since winter is coming and we can't just hang at the park until bedtime and 3) have G do all the cooking (I kid...sort of...maybe we can alternate doing ALL the cooking every other weekend so one of us gets a total break).

On a completely unrelated topic, I've been feeling incredibly frumpy lately with my weekend attire. I tried to wear something nice on Saturday but...I don't really have anything nice that works for this weather and is weekend-casual. Summer is great, I have a little cohort of sundresses  that I just rotate through and a cute pair of sandals.  Then it gets more complicated. I have to pick tops, bottoms, layers, shoes. I want a go-to weekend uniform but I'm not sure what it should be. I own 2 pairs of jeans & I'm sick of both of them---both very skinny, one a stretchy and SO COMFY jegging style and another stiffer but still with stretch pair. I'm tired of that skinny jean look, but not sure what the new style is. The old bootcut style I wore for 15 years is not it---I saw it on some moms at the park Flares? Higher rise? I want some athletic-casual type shoes, that I can wear with socks. Ballet flats of course don't work for fall (did I mention it was COLD? I felt really sorry for the mom at the play date in ballet flats, but I looked frumptastic in my WORKOUT SNEAKERS and it was either that or socks with old toms...). I just can't get behind the Vans/Chucks...something similar but not quite those.

And what to wear on top that's fun and casual and also flattering (not clingy in the belly but not maternity-like or sack-like)? Not a plain sweater, not a striped long-sleeve shirt (I just got rid of a plethora of striped long sleeved shirts). Maybe I need to (I can't believe these words are being written by me...) GO SHOPPING and see whats out there.

(yes I know I'm on a shopping ban, I'm just...planning. I want to figure out 2-3 things I really want instead of just randomly buying things that "look pretty good" until the next thing comes along that "looks somewhat better" and I have a pile of things that are only ok. And maybe it'll be a 11 month ban. Because its not about punishment, but about mindful and responsible spending).

What do you wear on weekends? Any shopping tips for jeans/weekend casual-wear?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Small things that make me happy

In no particular order
  • Crossing things off to-do list (bonus points if they've been lingering there for a while)
  • Challenging exercise
  • Being outside in nice weather
  • Wine
  • A really really good book, the kind where you sneak in 5-10 minutes of reading whenever you can because you just have to know what happens
  • A good conversation with a friend---in person, on the phone, by email or even a quick text
  • Watching my kids when they are playing nicely
  • Hugs from my kids
  • Fancy cheese
  • Looking at my flowers (I planted seeds in window boxes this spring and they are totally in bloom still---actually doing better than they were in the heat. I can look at them with pride for minutes each day; there is something about seeing things I've planted grow that mesmerizes me, still!)
  • Ignoring the to-do list completely and doing what I feel like doing
I know I've written these lists before, but I need to remind myself routinely that I am charge of my free time.  I'm hoping it will motivate me to make sure I incorporate these things into my weekend, even though inertia may keep me stuck in the house browsing the internet on my phone while the kids bicker around me. I know a weekend day goes better when I exercise, and I had added a Sunday morning workout to capitalize on that, but I haven't done that in several weeks now. I need to add it back, even a quick 2-3 mile run and some push-ups (and planks!) would do it. I know I am happier outside, so I'll just have to force the kids out of the house more--they enjoy it when we go, they just get caught up in playing with their toys and don't want to stop.  I have tulip bulbs that need planting---I was too lazy to do them last weekend, and need to remind myself that it'll feel good NOW to get the task of my list and next spring when I can look at the flowers.  I've got 2 actual physical BOOKS I got from the library that are due back in 6 days. I need to choose one and see if I can finish it this weekend. If I spent all the time I spent on my phone actually reading, it may happen! The wine & cheese are self-explanatory. And sometimes, the stars align and everyone is in a good mood, and you  just want to sit and soak it all in, chores be damned. I need to take those opportunities when I can, instead of slogging on to the next thing. The years are short.

What are your weekend strategies?

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Different things

Little things
  • I just submitted a grant. Whoo! I have something on this side of town so I planned to work late, but once I submitted the grant I was DONE and I'm just frittering time away now.
  • I like writing grants but there are really annoying parts, most of which involve administrative stuff and administrative people that are so stressful!
  • I wanted to plan stuff to do this weekend but its already thursday night and I've planned nothing. 
  • Our house is a disaster. I need to organize and purge. We can't FIND things we need and keep stepping on stuff. I hate that. I'm OK with mess until I'm suddenly NOT and it has to GO
Bigger things

Part A: So the reason I set my allowance so low was 1) I am on a year long clothes shopping ban so I didn't budget for clothes/shoes at all and 2) I wanted to feel a bit of scarcity and to have to think and rethink each purchase and maybe even "save up" for it. The point was not to just buy what I wanted because I could "afford it". WORKS. All those things I wrote about wanting? I don't want most of them anymore. The wanting of things often comes from some other want/need in my life, and buying the things does not usually fulfill that need. When I start researching planners, it means I feel overwhelmed and unproductive. Some little part of my brain thinks the answer to that is a new planner. Its not. The answer to that is getting my ass in gear and getting stuff done. Now that I've gotten a ton of stuff done over the past few weeks, I realize I don't NEED a new planner. I can wait and get one later or skip it altogether.

Wanting clothes also comes from some other feeling. Today I felt like going shopping. To celebrate being done. Buying something is an easy way to celebrate. Its not like I can just "go out" with friends, or that the kids are going to necessarily behave and let me have a fun evening. But of course, buying something doesn't REALLY fulfill the urge to do something special. Other reasons for wanting to shop: lack of confidence at work=need professional attire and body image issues. And also just being bored with life. Nothing fun coming up, no vacations or activities or anything planned=buy new clothes for the thrill of fun shiny packages arriving.

This holds true for lots of other areas in life. Where I subconsciously want to buy something to fix some underlying issue. Activities for the kids because I have this picture in my head of warm nurturing times  vs. the chaotic yelling that is going on now. A kitchen tool that'll motivate me to want to cook again. The workout gear or equipment to increase exercise. Etc...

Its totally stupid, but it happens. So having that brake on the spending with the super-low budget makes me stop and think and actually SEE what my brain is doing. And then if I still want it (THOSE BOOTS) I will buy them in January.

Part B: Sarah wrote about how unstructured time isn't always what its cracked up to be. I felt that last weekend, in a big way. As much as my kids are content to stay at home and play legos and puzzles and watch movies. I am NOT. Not when they still actually need me every 5 seconds (and those are the seconds they aren't hitting/fighting/shouting) its not relaxing, nor is it fun. On top of that, it was a weekend where I felt exhausted and unmotivated to actually get stuff done, so I couldn't even use that time in the house to knock off some long overdue tasks. Hence why I wanted to plan more for this weekend. I'm also just hoping that I have more energy (this energy thing is elusive to me. Some days-weeks-months I have plenty and then I crash for weeks at a time, going to bed super early and still able to sleep in, just wanting to SIT instead of my usual on-the-go self).

Friday, October 9, 2015

...A world where there are Octobers

First things first: who can attribute that quote?

It has been a nice month so far. I like that the month is bookended by L's birthday near the beginning and Halloween at the end. And in between we have cool crisp mornings with warmer afternoons, and the last few weeks of daylight at dinner time. L's party was perfect. It was a bunch of kids running around at the park, eating pizza and cupcakes in between. Laid-back and easy. I could do this every year. If only I didn't have a winter birthday child!

Like most things, homework seems to have worked itself out. B is doing it in aftercare, with help from the staff. He's been so overzealous about doing it, though, that he skipped his favorite karate class yesterday evening to get it done. I told him it was OK to leave it for later.  On the one hand, I admire that work ethic, but I also know that he has a tendency to burn out.  I think its better to skip a few days of homework than to do every assignment for 2 months and then decide he "hates homework".

He really LOVES kindergarten and goes on and on about all the things he's learning. And then he has massive regressive meltdowns, like I haven't seen from him in 2 years. Maybe the stress of holding it together from 8:30 to 5ish every day? I couldn't even be angry at him last night, I could tell he just could not get himself together. It was over the silliest thing (chocolate graham cookies) and he was sobbing and kicking things for 20+ minutes. Later he apologized. We need to get him to bed earlier. On Sunday I put him to bed a full hour earlier, without L, and he fell asleep immediately. L, who's had a 2 hour nap, keeps him up at until after 9 with his shenanigans.

B got a haircut! After 15+ months. It had gotten long enough to put in a ponytail. Its "boy" short now. G & I were SO happy when he said he wanted a haircut that we scheduled it ASAP. The first cut, he refused to cut it too short so she left it on the sides and it was poofy and terrible, so we took him back for a touch-up and now he looks like 4 year old B. We were relieved because its easier and neater and you can see his eyes, but I hope he didn't decide to get it cut because other kids were teasing him about looking like a girl (they were, but he told me he didn't care and told the main teasing girl "well YOU look like a boy"; he may need to work on his insult skills).

I got a haircut too! After a full year! It was halfway down my back, the longest I've had it in years. I cut it right to my chin, with some shorter layers. It looks awesome so far, but that's because I haven't washed it, so it still has the original "styling". We'll see how it pans out...I've always found shorter hair harder to manage, you can just throw long hair back into a ponytail and go (which I did, and was getting sick of).

As for my mindfulness in October---I finally started using my meditation app. I am on 2/7 of the introduction to "Calm". My goal is to do this daily for the whole month. Its really hard to not think about things for even 10 minutes! That's the point though, right? If its hard for me, it means I really need to do it. Like planks. I should probably do planks everyday for a month, too. Maybe in November.

After a rocky start last week, I've gotten into a good rhythm with work. SO MANY Pomodoros! I've finally gotten into the "flow" state with this project and its amazing how much better I feel overall when I'm engaged and productive all day. Today is a bit slower, but ITS OK to have a slow day when the other days are good! What else did I say I would do? Oh, keep off my phone in the evenings and weekends. Yeah. Work in progress. I'll try again this weekend, last weekend was terrible. 

I've read a couple of posts recently about this idea, touted in the frugal-living world, that outsourcing can actually take more time than in-sourcing certain things. I call BS. Like haircuts---people claim they cut their own hair because it saves so much time. How often are you cutting your hair? Where are you going for a haircut? I cut my hair 1-2 times a year. I go somewhere in the neighborhood. I chat with the hairdresser. It gets washed, cut, and styled way better than I could ever do at home! Or worse---"it takes longer to get take out then it does to cook". What? Because you just sit around waiting in the 30 minutes before it shows up at your door? If you are not cooking, you can USE THAT TIME. To work, or play with your kids, or exercise, or rest your weary feet after hours standing on them, or take a shower, or....the possibilities are endless! Just say you don't want to spend the money and leave it at that. Stop trying to make it "not just about the money". IT IS JUST ABOUT THE MONEY*. Rant over.

Speaking of money, thanks for your suggestions/comments on the allowance thing. I have more to say about that topic but I'll save it for another day, I better finish up some work!

*another valid reason might be health---you want to eat healthier than most take-out options allow, or you have food allergies or a special diet. That's often my reason for saying no to take out (other than the $), when I feel like having something simple/healthy.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Back to school

We are still trying to get used to the new routines around B's kindergarten. Specific challenges: 1) being there on time 2) B needing to be responsible for his food and other stuff (i.e. the teacher won't put his raincoat on him, or dole out his snacks in the proper order that we want them to be in)  3) Our only source of information about school being from B, since we can't just talk to the teacher everyday 4) Homework that has to be done  and 5) random days off.  Like all parents everywhere, we'll figure it out, but its a bit stressful right now. I also have to adjust to a totally different evening routine. Instead of coming home alone, walking the dog, processing mail, and prepping dinner before everyone else got home, now I pick B up from after-care on my way home. We walk the dog together, and then I have to nag him to do his homework & help him with it while I prep dinner (The mail has not been processed in days). I like having time with him one on one, but I do miss alone time to decompress before the evening rush!

Its rainy & cold here. We had to cancel L's outdoor party for tomorrow. Its tentatively scheduled for Sunday. It'll still be cold & windy but hopefully no rain. I really don't want everyone in our house, I have no activities planned (since it was planned to be a park party). Fingers crossed. Its usually so lovely this time of year, but then again, it is hurricane season, so I should've been more prepared!

We have tickets to a concert tonight of all things. A band I don't particularly like but G loves. We went to see them on one of our first dates so when he asked if I wanted to go, I agreed. And it was not on a weeknight, so it seemed OK. Also that was 2 months ago. Everything seems "fun" 2 months prior to actually having to wear pants and go out! But its cold & rainy and the concert starts at 8 but the main act won't be until after 10. Friday nights are for drinking wine and watching TV shows on my laptop, in my PJs.  I really really want to just bring my Kindle and sneak into a corner somewhere until the band comes on, but I assume that's wrong?

As for the October goals, I've already: spent 5 minutes on GOMI, spent 20 minutes looking at graphic Ts, and did not look at the meditation app yesterday. So...not off to a great start, but still motivated!

I really need more "fun money" so I can buy the planner I want. That monthly allowance goes really really fast somehow. I already spent $50 on a knife-skills class I'm taking mid-month and accidentally ordered a book on Amazon 1-click that I can't return for $5. And since we changed the party to Sunday, I had to exchange tickets I had bought for the children's theater on Sunday and this place (as opposed to the place we had a subscription to last year) charges $4/ticket to exchange! so there went $67 and its only the 2nd day of the month! I have a happy hour planned 2 weeks from now, those usually end up being $25. And there will inevitably be 1-2 lunches I need to buy, or occasions where I want to buy the kids a snack or treat. I upped the allowance from $80 in January, to $100 soon after, and more recently (since we're spending way less on groceries) $120. But I never ever have left over. The plan was to save up excess allowance money for clothes, but at this rate, those boots aren't happening, not to mention the bras, jeans, T shirts and slacks I need want. And my umbrella & lunch bag were both recently lost/stolen and need replacing. Urgh.

Alright, break over. Any allowance advice? Concert advice? How do you handle homework with your kids?

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Scrambled eggs

My brain feels like scrambled eggs these days. I just can't FOCUS. It takes all kinds of tools and tricks to stay on task, even with pretty interesting & important work in front of me. Hell, I haven't even been able to formulate a coherent blog post that isn't a stack of disjointed thoughts. I can read fiction. I just can't read a journal article in its entirety or finish anything in one sitting.

I'm sleeping OK---enough hours, mostly uninterrupted (except when its not). I just had a vacation in which I allowed myself to relax (very little work, slept in, lazed around) though the kids were nuts and it wasn't exactly relaxing most of the time. I've been sticking with my routines for exercise, eating, sleeping, quiet time, etc... that I need to function.

I wonder if its the inevitable effect of spending so much time flitting from click-bait article to facebook post to blog post to another article. This inability to go deep and stay there. I'm sure there is research on this topic. I'm also sure I don't need to spend 45 minutes down that rabbit hole right now!

I've decided to make some goals for the month, inspired by SHU. All these goals are based around the central theme of improving focus.
  • Download mediation app and use daily (any recs for free/low cost apps?)
  • Stay off all internet forums
  • NO online shopping (after 9 months of having no desire to buy new clothes, I suddenly have a growing mental list of things I want, and I'm distracting myself "window shopping" for the future)
  • Read journal articles in paper form, away from computer. 
  • Planning/outlining on paper, in notebook 
  • Phone away after dinner and on weekends
  • Use pomodoro method for work: 25 minutes on-task, 5 minute break X 5 and then a 25 minute break. These breaks will be the only internet time during the workday (though can also be used for other tasks like budgeting or phone calls or to take a quick walk)
  • No internet while eating any meal, even at work (OK to munch fruits/veggies for a snack while working!). I like the idea of eating more mindfully, and using that time as a real mental and physical break. If nothing else my eyes need a rest!
I'm considering whether music might be helpful while I'm writing. I used to actually get a lot done with the low-volume buzz of noises in the lab (though the less-frequent bursts of laughter/squealing drove me nuts). My office is pretty quiet, but I can hear the guy who sits in the middle of our suite making phone calls 3 days a week (its his job, soliciting donations) or people coming in to make copies or faxes. Maybe I'll bring in some headphones tomorrow.

OK, time for 25 minutes of revising aims.