Friday, 22 July 2016

Reflecting on #WOL

We are what we repeatedly do.
Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

We are now into week 5 of our #WOL circle and weekly blogging for a number of reasons has not become a habitual activity for me... 

Why? Because life things get in the way. Things happen that you don't expect that can impact on your life and work. I ask myself does it really matter that I have not blogged. I'm writing for me with no expectations others will read to be honest. This blog is after all a random collection of my thoughts in relation to activities, course and presentations I have been involved in. For me though this is one of the ways I practice working out loud. It is not always reflective and this is an area I need to focus on. So whilst it doesn't really matter if I blog weekly or every few weeks, developing the habit will I know help me capture my progress.

This week our tetrad of four met via Skype and we discussed the week's topic which was looking at the challenges we were facing relating to the achievement of our chosen goal. As a group we have bonded quite quickly and I think we all felt comfortable admitting that due to various factors our progress was perhaps slower than we might have liked. Indeed we seemed to make a pact that this was actually ok! All progress is good and small steps should be seen as a positive. We agreed that meeting as a circle kept our goals as achievable, but the suggested time span might well be extended. By discussing this together there was a sense of relief that we had not let ourselves down or each other. We teased out the blocks we had experienced and made suggestions to each other where appropriate. 

Unsurprisingly one of our challenges was time. However through talking we recognised that our use of time can be measured in different ways from clear outputs but also thinking and planning time. We had all devoted time to this and as such realised we had achieved more than we thought. 

We talked about the John Stepper's blog post 'Touching the treadmill' which highlights the importance of breaking your goal down into small steps. (Which reminds me I need to start doing this and get back into running to achieve another goal!)

"Can’t go for a run 4 times a week for an hour? Try once a week. Still too much? Go for 5 minutes. Not working for you? Walk to the treadmill and touch it. Every day."

Helen Crump introduced us to BJ Fogg's Tiny Habits method. This advocates:

Only three things will change behaviour in the long term.
  • Option AHave an epiphany
  • Option BChange your environment (what surrounds you)
  • Option CTake baby steps

The first option is less likely to happen, so focusing on small steps and creating an environment that can help you feel comfortable working is something that resonated with me. Secondly allowing for space to think and rest may mean moving and taking breaks. I came across John Fawkes Medium post on 20 little habits that will help you live a better lifewhich refers to the need of practising good habits. It's worth reading the whole article but one of the habits looks at the value of the pomodoro technique. Essentially this suggests you 

work for 20–30 minutes, then take a break for 5–10 minutes.

Repeat a few times, then take a longer 30+ minute break. 

When we are working it is easy to lose focus. Once we recognise this and plan in breaks, it is likely our productivity will increase. 

So coming back to my goal, I had originally chosen to learn programming. I quickly felt overwhelmed as this was to broad. Where should I start? I began by looking what my personal learning network had to say in a variety of social media spaces - Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. It didn't take long to discover a course on Creative programming (aimed at those with no prior experience) and another on Social Media Analytics. Both are online and free through FutureLearn and each runs for about 3 weeks. The ethos of the courses evidence 'learning out loud' and engagement in open conversations/discussions is asynchronous so I know I can contribute at times that work for me. These course feel doable and time will tell whether this satisfies all I want to achieve. The important thing for me is that I will have made a start. I need to carve out some dedicated time for this study, and I think early mornings will work best for me. 

In preparation for next week's WOL circle we are encouraged to develop our networks. The guide suggests one way to accelerate developing our own network is to leverage networks that already exist. I need to draw upon my connections and develop a list of people I can reach out to. There may be other learning opportunities I can engage in. 

Working out loud guides:


  1. ... just to encourage you, people are reading :) ... I am up to nearly a million page views on my blog and have never written for an audience (as you will quickly tell from older posts), mainly as a place online to host my content that is accessible wherever I am connected to the internet ...

    1. Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment! Isn't it fascinating how paths intertwine, and yet many of these are invisible.