Adulting 101: Get shit done

I was very organised when I was younger. I had after-school activities planned out,I had a study timetable, I used the pomodoro technique, I had it down. In the intervening years, however, the wheels have kinda come off my organisation wagon and I sort of just bumbled along, getting things done but not feeling particularly effective. Big on the procrastination. It was starting to do my head in.

I tried to be better. I bought a diary every year and then sporadically used it. I wrote daily to do lists at work. But inevitably I became exhausted by having to repeatedly write the same thing down and ticking very little off. I mean, who has the time?

So a couple of months ago I decided to start using Trello. And it has effectively changed my work day and saved my ass so many times this year. The great thing about it is that you can make it work for you in whatever style you prefer, depending on what you need, and you can move things around really easily – a lot of my job is reactive so being able to quickly re-assess and re-prioritise tasks is a big help for me. There are a lot of handy resources out there to help you get started – I found this article particularly helpful.

I use Trello in three different ways. First, I have a whole bunch of project boards to help me keep track of the bigger picture things I’m working on – these boards have headers like ‘Upcoming opportunities’, ‘Ideas’, ‘Doing’ and ‘Done’. All my boards have ‘Done’ columns because I think it’s important to recognise how much work you have done on something and it’s also great for when you can’t remember what you’ve done come performance review time.

The project boards are great for getting ideas out of my head so I can actually get on with other stuff, but my most used board by far is my ‘Weekly To Do’ board. It’s your basic kind of to do list but because it’s so easy to add and move things, I’m much more diligent about using it, and I can add notes and attach files/links as things progress which make it a lot easier to keep track of where things are at. My columns are ‘On Hold’ for those projects that have stalled or are waiting confirmation from somewhere else, ‘Inbox’ for things that I need to do but aren’t critical for the week, and then ‘Monday’ through to ‘Friday’, plus a ‘Done: Name of Month’ column which I archive at the end of every month. A lot of my work is sensitive so I don’t really feel comfortable sharing it but hopefully this gives some idea of what I mean.

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As you can see, I also categorise my cards according to subject (the coloured lines at the top of the cards). These are things like ‘Social’, ‘Stats’, ‘Recurring’, ‘International’, ‘Community’, ‘Planning’ and ‘Support’. It just allows me to sort through things a bit easier if I need to and makes certain key issues pop out more. All part of helping me prioritise.

This was so helpful for me, I decided to bring my personal life onto Trello as well. But I use the GTD method for this as I’m a little less time driven in this space. It also allows me to go from little every day things to big picture goals that I’d normally keep in my brain and stress about if I didn’t have this outlet. My first column is called ‘Big Picture/Projects’ and it’s where I classify my cards for lack of a better description. So for example I have a card in there called ‘Relocation’ that’s tagged green, and any cards that relate to moving my shiz to New Zealand gets tagged green so it falls under that. The idea being that by splitting a big goal into smaller tasks, it’ll make it easier to achieve. I also have a little list down the bottom of that column to remind me of what all the different colours I use relate to – it’s not needed but it makes it easier when I just want to give things a quick once over.

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My other columns are ‘Inbox’ for new tasks that I need to sort in the right place, ‘Next Actions’ for things that I can/need to do asap, ‘Waiting’ for things that are on hold for whatever reason (time and money usually) and ‘Someday/Maybe’ for those things that I’d like to do when I have a spare second. It’s simple and easy and I actually check it all the time because I check my work to do list every day. Yay!

I still use a hard copy diary as well to write down appointments (and the bf’s appointments) and do meal planning – although I think I might move the latter to Trello as well. I of course also use the calendar on my phone as well but it’s mostly for reminders of things that I need to do RIGHT NOW OMG rather than a time planning thing.

It’s a bit of a multi-pronged approached but it’s the first time I’ve felt on top of things in AGES and I find it especially helpful in managing what can be a very stressful job for certain periods of the year.

Adulting 101

Sometimes when people refer to me as an adult, I have to stop myself from looking around and going “What? Where??” and then running away. It’s weird. And from a number of articles and blogs I’ve seen over the year, I feel like it’s a pretty common feeling. Last time I was home I asked my mum when the switch actually flicked and you became an adult and she was like …*shrug* So, y’know, that’s comforting.

Part of my problem is that I’ve spent the last ten or so years feeling largely transient. First, being a student, and then living on a working visa, and then moving back with the parents for a couple of months before randomly running away to New Zealand. Living this way doesn’t lend itself particularly well to feeling in control of shiz…and it also doesn’t lend itself to looking after yourself very well.

I’m also not particularly kind to myself. I don’t think I have a bad self-esteem but, like most people, there are some days where I just don’t like myself very much. And I don’t want to catch my own eye in the mirror. And I’m a perfectionist (an actually diagnosed one, not one of those job interview weakness ones that have no idea what the crippling self-loathing is actually like) so I can be incredibly hard on myself. It’s so hard to learn and grow when you don’t allow yourself room to fail. It’s ridiculous.

Point is, I came out of a particularly rough depressive patch at the start of May and decided enough was enough. I had to stop living like a student. I had to take control of my life. I had to look after me, properly. I had to at least attempt to be a functioning adult. I’m 28 with a decent job…I don’t really have an excuse.

Today, I woke up feeling pretty damn good about myself. I got three compliments before I even sat down at my desk about how nice I looked even though I had dry shampooed my hair this morning and I’m wearing the same stripey shirt I’ve worn at least once a week since December. Maybe, just maybe, the changes I started making back in May are paying off. So I’ve decided, going forward, I’ll share the things I’m doing to try and feel more comfortable in my own life, and which have proved to be a real asset as work spirals into the stressful mess it always is this time of year.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really know what I’m doing, and some things I’ve tried haven’t worked and I beat myself up over it accordingly before moving on. BUT I think I’m making progress and writing it down will help keep me honest. So stay tuned!

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Never go out of style

I don’t consider myself romantic, and I never thought of myself as particularly effusive…but it’s my one year anniversary with the boyf today and I feel it’s worth mentioning.

I never would have predicted being in this situation but I’m so insanely content, it’s mind-boggling. To be honest, it feels like we’ve been together for a lot longer – maybe that’s just cause we spend so much time together. But that’s one of my favourite things, that I can just share things with him. Silly, stupid things, important things, things that upset me, things that stress me out. The compulsion I have to rush over to his work so I can share a joke or gossip or just show him the Pikachu I just hatched. And the overwhelming compulsion I have to make sure he’s ok when he’s sick, or angry, or stressed. To be there.

Sometimes it scares the shit out of me, how much I care. But that’s ok too. I love how low maintenance everything is, how natural it feels. That I can miss him if I don’t see him, and yet when we’re together we’re perfectly content ignoring each other while we’re on our phones, or he’ll play video games while I read. And it’s great to have someone to cook for…and to have someone around who makes me pancakes on weekends. And he let’s me cuddle him in public when I’m freezing even though he doesn’t like it haha

He respects me and supports me and makes me laugh so much. I think that’s the most important thing at the end of the day. It’s all really gross and hashtag blessed but I’m just so pleased to have this human in my life, this person who makes me feel more like myself. Plus it makes me ridiculously happy to think Harry Potter brought us together. Gotta love HazPotz, always defining my life. Ten points to Ravenclaw and ten to Slytherin.

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“Just keep talking about that little ball of light touching your heart, and she’ll come round.”

Three plane journeys

Where does the time go, eh? Almost a month has passed since I left for my whirlwind trip to the northern hemisphere…and a whirlwind it was.

I spent ages uuumming and aaahing over whether I should go to the UK or not in July – I had a couple of reasons, but it’s a very long way to go from all the way down here. But then my best friend told me he was getting married and suddenly I had the excuse I’d wanted. Wedding of the Year: UK Edition!

First thought, I flew Air New Zealand internationally for the first time and it was amazing. 10/10. Would recommend. Every other airline I flew was absolute pants but I digress. Because there’s a direct flight from Auckland to Vancouver, I decided to stop off there for a couple of days. I always try to go somewhere new when I travel, otherwise I feel like I’m wasting time somehow? I don’t know. Only so many leave days in the year. Ugh.

Vancouver was very pretty. And very overcast. I could not find a decent coffee anywhere and it made me very homesick, even though I had only gone for two days at that point. What can I say, when you live in the natural habitat of the flat white, you get used to certain standards. And when you’re boyfriend is a barista, it’s hard not to link coffee with fuzzy happy feelings. I mean, coffee has always given me fuzzy happy feelings but that’s beside the point.

My favourite part of my Canadian layover was visiting Grouse Mountain – hopped on the shuttle from downtown and spent a very foggy morning hanging with the two resident bears Coolah and Grinder. It was freezing. Summer is a lie. The fog lifted a little towards the end of my visit but it was actually just really nice wandering around the woods. Very atmospheric. And then I rounded off the day by walking around Stanley Park, a huuuuuge public park that borders downtown Vancouver and surrounded by Vancouver Harbour. In complete contrast to the mountain, it was gorgeously warm and sunny in town. All round lovely day.

I set off to London very little fanfare and spent the flight next to the most annoying man ever who kept turning my overhead light on and off while I was trying to sleep. I’ve decided airlines should let you choose whether you want to sit next to men or women on planes. It’s been my experience that men take up way too much space and don’t even try to fit into their surroundings. It’s tedious.

London was a delightful blur of friends. I caught up with M for dinner on my first night and we also went on the Harry Potter Studio Tour. The Hogwarts Express is there now! I was so excited! Even though I’d been before, it was still a lot of fun. And it was just awesome to hang out with M who’d only moved to London 4 months ago and it really seems to be agreeing with her. Yay!

Of course, on my second day it was time for Wedding of the Year: UK Edition (insert crowd cheering) What an absolutely lovely day. Just perfect for the couple, and filled with so much love and good will, I could barely stand it. It’s like your heart will just burst with the good vibes, you know? Could not wish for a better day for such a great couple and I’m just so grateful to see them surrounded by wonderful people. So thankful I got to share it with them.

And I got to spend loads of time with the groom the following week! Woo! We had pizza and played card games and it was almost like nothing had changed at all. I so desperately wish we could just hang out like that more often, so easy and relaxed, but no, of course we have to be a 34 hour plane ride apart. Life is hard.

I also got to meet my other bff A’s brand new baby boy! You can read all about him on her blog. It was so nice to see her and just catch up. We’ve come so far from where we were when we first met each other what must be 10 years ago but it’s so awesome that we can just pick up where we left off when we see each other. Even if we are actual adults now. The horror.

No trip to London would be complete without a gig – Twin Atlantic at Scala which was effing amazing and intimate and everything I love in life. I managed to catch up with some friends from my former work beforehand and it was so, so nice. It’s weird how you can still get on with people and just really click even though you only see them every two years and maybe exchange a Facebook message every eight months or so. I was also delighted to squeeze in a theatre visit with my friend V who had just gotten back from holiday. We used to be theatre buddies back in the day so, again, just like old times! The play was quite different and I found it fascinating…and it randomly had Matt Smith in it. I miss my UK friends so much. They’re good people.

Because rest is for the weak when on holiday, I crammed in a day trip to Paris because some of my lovely Sydney friends happened to be there and it was J’s birthday. I’ve been to Paris a couple of times so I’m pretty chill about wanting to do things, so I think that helped make this such a great day. I could just catch up with everyone and just go with the flow, really. Plus it was a gorgeous day, sunny, warm, and I love the way Paris sparkles in the sun. I always feel so grumpy when I first arrive (cause let’s face it, it’s dirty and it smells) but then I walk along the Seine and I get to the Latin Quarter, and all I want to do is rent a loft and write for three months. Such romanticism. It doesn’t suit me.

Just like that, it was all over, and I had to come home. Downloading Pokemon Go just in time for the journey to the airport…and the many hours I had to spend there after the flight was delayed. I was so stressed. I had a three hour layover in San Francisco but the delay quickly meant we were actually only due to arrive as my connecting flight was set to depart. And then they had issues with the in-flight entertainment when we boarded and I was about ready to lose my mind. But we got to San Fran and we were met by a lovely staff member who rushed us through security (wtf America, you need to chill) and we didn’t have to collect our bags so I count that as a win. Still had to run to the next gate though so arrived nice and sweaty as the plane was boarding. Who doesn’t love getting on a 13 hour flight drenched in sweat? I have never been so relieved to land in Auckland but alas, my joy was short-lived, cause they promptly cancelled my connecting flight to Wellington. I was so done by this point. I hate layovers and two is too many for me. That last leg from Auckland when you’ve already been on a plane for 24 hours is killer. And it was 5.45am and my rebooked flight was at 1pm. How about no? I managed to get on a 9am flight. Home by 10, collected by the lovely boyf, and at work by 12. Go me!

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The whole trip feels like a lifetime ago – it’s just been so manic at work. But it was a lovely trip. After all, what’s better than catching up with good friends?