This is the first article in a series I call “My Quarterly Review” which, as you may have guessed, will be published quarterly.
Okakura Kakuzo, the great Japanese scholar, artist, and writer said:
“The art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings.“
Similarly, Mahatma Gandhi, who I think needs no introduction, said:
“Adaptability is not imitation. It means power of resistance and assimilation.”
It would be a huge mistake, I think, to ignore the wisdom of these great men and not strive for adaptation.
One of the most important components of adaptation that I know of is a diligent review of the past. The past helps us to understand the present which then allows us to adapt to the future.
To be sure, a person striving for adaptability without an understanding of their past is like a culinary chef trying to prepare a meal without the use of their hands. Pointless, although probably entertaining to watch.
So in these quarterly reviews I will briefly(ish) recount the past three months, noting what went well and what didn’t, and what I must do going forward.
I usually do these privately for myself but I thought “hell, might as well make an article out of it!”
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2020 has been one hell of a year so far with more ups and downs than Disney’s California Adventures.
I started this blog/website/whatever you want to call it on October 22, 2019. At least that’s the day it was officially published. I didn’t start “promoting” it or showing it to anyone until December 25, 2019.
Since then it has been my primary focus in life. I never really thought I would start a website like this, and I definitely never thought that I would enjoy writing. But, I must admit, creating content and developing this site has brought me a lot of joy and creative fulfillment.
I work(ed) a regular “real” job (discussed below) and also do freelance video editing for YouTubers on the side. Add fitness to the mix (or the lack thereof), and let’s just say that time has definitely not been on my side.
I’m fairly happyish with how Q1 turned out. I made a lot of progress and learned a ton of online logistics things that I didn’t know before. If I had to give it a number, I’d say Q1 was a 6.5 out of 10, with 10 being the best.
I got all of the nitty-gritty “website things” out of the way. Things like site speed optimization (could still be optimized more), legal policies, and backend workflow systems.
I was finally able to get down to writing, though I definitely didn’t publish as many articles as I would have liked. My most popular article of the quarter was How to Build Better Habits that Actually Stick.
One thing I quickly learned is that in this modern attention economy era, all of the content in the world does you no good if no one knows it exists. So I spent more time than I’d like to admit trying to promote my content on YouTube, and after failing miserably finally transitioned to Pinterest and Reddit in 2020.
These seem like more realistic platforms for growing my reach, and in Q2, 2020 I’m looking primarily at Pinterest, Reddit, and Quora. It may sound silly, but promoting content on these platforms can take just as much time as creating the content itself, so they’re not to be underestimated.
I am happy to say that the website hit over 20k visits in March. The goal was 25k, but thinking back on it now I’d say that’s not bad for a site that has been up for less than 6 months.
I’m also happy to say that my work seems to be genuinely helpful to a fair number of people. I’ve received several kind emails of thanks and encouragement. One of those people is actually working with me now, and I’m eternally grateful to have him by my side. Mostly, I’m just happy that my work has been valuable to anyone at all.
As for future content plans I will publish 2 articles per week in Q2, 2020 and work on growing my newsletter. I feel like Q1, 2020 was the quarter of planning and design, and Q2, 2020 will be the quarter of creation and implementation.
My “Real” Job
As you may have read in my about me page, the majority of my professional life has been spent in pharmaceutical sales.
I started a new sales job in 2019 and was laid off a little over a year later in February, 2020. This was probably my biggest low of Q1.
The whole Coronavirus Pandemic certainly didn’t help, and it’s going to make finding a new job all the much harder.
I didn’t start the job hunt right away because I saw a silver lining in it, the ability to focus full time (minus video editing) on this website. I must say that I am disappointed with myself because I only dedicated 163.05 hours (plus or minus ~20 hours) to Productive You in March, just over 40 hours per week.
This sounds good in theory, but I think any business owner knows that that’s not nearly enough, especially when the business is in its infancy.
So I wasted a lot of time but I saw first hand the true value of time, which is probably an important lesson. I need to start the job hunt this month sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, with record levels of unemployment I don’t think it’s going to be easy. Good thing I’ve already made a job application spreadsheet! (insert laughing face emoji)
My fitness goals changed drastically throughout the quarter in accordance with getting laid off and the pandemic.
I only worked out 11 times the entire quarter. This needs to increase and I know it.
One silver lining, though, is that I found a new hobby in hot yoga. Probably half of those workouts were actually hour long hot yoga sessions.
I also practiced / played basketball 27 times during the quarter. Basketball has become a huge hobby of mine (one of my only hobbies) over the past 3 years. Each basketball session lasts anywhere from 1 to 5+ hours, depending on if I’m practicing at my complex or playing at the local university.
My original goal was to play 4 times per week, a total of 48 sessions. Unfortunately those 5+ hour sessions took a toll on my body, leaving me immobile for several days on more than one occasion.
It was very frustrating but taught me the importance of pacing.
I’ve always focused on more than one project at a time my entire life. Freelance video editing is simply the most recent rendition of that pattern.
In Q1 I edited just over 75 videos. That’s enough to create a substantial “side hustle”, but nothing that you would call a full-time job.
My goal is to maintain this pace in Q2, 2020, and even increase it by 25% if possible.
“Big Words” is what I call my vocabulary flashcards.
Ever since 2015 I’ve had a strange fascination with english vocabulary words. Whenever I come across a word I don’t know I add it to my Anki deck. The deck automatically gives me new words to study every day.
The habit has been more or less consistent over the past 5 years. The goal, however, is to study daily which is something I have not achieved.
In Q1 I only studied 47 days. These study sessions can last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
This is something I know I need to improve. Even just 5 words per day is better than missing the entire day altogether.
Things To Focus On In Q2, 2020
- Consistent content creation, 2 articles per week.
- Consistent content promotion.
- Finding a new job.
- Workout consistently.
- Pace myself with basketball.
- Maintain or grow video editing.
- Study Big Words every day, even if it’s only 5 words.
Start Your Own Quarterly Review
Starting your own quarterly review is easy! Just follow the format of this article:
- The Overview: what happened overall? Briefly touch on the major events of the quarter.
- The Focuses: review in detail each task you were focused on throughout the quarter. Talk about the good, the bad, and the ugly. Don’t have any focuses yet? Talk about things that interest you, your potential focuses.
- The Focuses Next Quarter: what exactly are you going to focus on next quarter, based on how this one went?
Alternatively, here’s another format I use. Just answer the following questions:
- What went well this quarter?
- What didn’t go so well?
- How do I feel about the quarter overall?
- What will I focus on next quarter?
Interesting Read: Case Study Reveals That More Productivity Equals More Happiness