This afternoon Ed and I went for a walk to see the wild exmoor ponies in Sutton Park. I’ve lived in Birmingham for fourteen years and visit the park fairly often, but I’ve never seen the ponies before, just the cows. I just assumed the ponies were shy, and largely kept to themselves in the deepest parts of the woodland. I was hoping to see them today, but didn’t really think that we would.
I’ve written about how I establish new habits and routines before, but today I wanted to write about the importance of tracking your progress. I think that tracking your progress when trying to establish a new habit or routine is a really helpful tool to keep yourself motivated.
I’ve recently started using a new app on my phone to keep track of my progress with a few of my habits and routines, and I’m finding it really helpful. Over time, the data will be quite interesting, too. The app is called Loop Habit Tracker and you can find it on Google Play, F-Droid / Fossdroid (what I use as I don’t run Google on my phone) or any other APK directory. It’s a very simple app, but it’s beautifully designed and does what it needs to do. You can either set your goal to be daily, or specify the number of days you would like to practice the habit each week. The only downside is that the goals are yes/no based rather than numerical. There’s no space to say how far you walked, for example, or how many glasses of water you drank. That said, you can specify your own boundaries and rules to get around the design limits. You can also export the data as a backup in two formats, enabling you to create a spreadsheet in Excel or similar if you so please. Best of all, the app doesn’t require an account or any special permissions, so it’s nice and private.
At the moment I have a few habits I like to track. They are as follows:
Violin practice – daily, for at least 15 minutes
Piano practice – three times a week, for at least 15 minutes
Water consumption – daily, at least two big glasses
Walking – daily, at least 1km (Tesco and back is just 600m so it doesn’t count!)
Swimming – twice a week (on 50m nights)
Gym – once a week
PHP – study three times a week, for at least 15 minutes
As you can see, my goals aren’t super ambitious. If they were, I’d have weeks where I achieve everything and feel like a superhero, and weeks where I don’t do anything because it’s overwhelming. I’d rather do a little bit of everything I want to do, on a regular basis, than lots but sporadically. Of course I can and do go to the gym more than once a week, or pracice my music for more than 15 minutes at a time, but those benchmarks are what I have set myself to keep the habits ticking over.
I’d really recommend using a habit tracker to keep on top of your habits and routines, even if it’s just a pen and paper version in a notebook. It’s really satisfying at the end of the day to put little ticks in boxes and know that slowly but surely you’re making time for all of the things you want to do.
I tried to scan these, but my scanner is old and only good for scanning documents so I’ve photographed my sketchbook instead. I’m trying to learn how to draw people, sort of anime style, and have been following some tutorials I found online here.
The runners are supposed to be me and Ed. Ed thinks I’ve drawn myself too fat, and wonders where his shoulders have got to, but I’m pretty pleased with these as it’s early days still!
On Friday evening Ed and I decided last minute to go hiking in Snowdonia. It’s always a bit of a gamble to book a hostel in advance because the weather is so unpredictable, but 24 hours out the forecast looked both clear and dry, and there was a room available at YHA Idwal.
This morning we got up before dawn and went for a walk around Llyn Idwal. It’s one of my favourite places in Snowdonia, and being up in the mountains for sunrise is something we both love. To my complete surprise and joy, we came across a herd of wild mountain ponies grazing the thin pickings of late autumn on our way up to the lake. The light wasn’t great and they were a little bit far from the main path, so I waited to take photos of them until the return leg of our walk.
Recently I’ve been trying to teach myself how to draw and paint. I’ve always thought that it’s something I can’t do, but I’m trying to break down some of my long-held beliefs and prove myself wrong. I have so many ideas in my head that I wish I could put to paper, and I finally got fed up with not knowing how.
My problem in the past has always been that I’ve tried to draw by eye, and my proportions always come out wrong. I remember an art class when I was about nine or ten, and being tasked with copying a photo of a blue tit perched on a beer can. I was so frustrated, because I didn’t know where to start or how to do it.
Rather than approach drawing as I’ve always approached drawing, I’ve started following the circles and lines method of drawing animals, and it seems to be helping. Here are a couple of my early sketches.
The paint set I have is made by Winsor and Newton in their Cotman range. It’s their pocketbox, and all the paint colours are vegan. The Cotman range of watercolour paints (with the exception of three colours which aren’t in the pocket box set) doesn’t include ingredients or pigments derived from animals. The brush I’m using is from the Pro Arte prolene range. It’s synthetic, and a size 6, which seems to be a good all rounder for me as a beginner. Together with the tiny retractable brush that came with my paint set, I think I should be good to go for quite some time.
This post is quite dry, but hopefully you’ll find it useful. I go through how I structure and organise my Lightroom catalogues for both my personal work as well as the weddings I film and photograph, and how I keep on top of a huge database of photographs each year.
I’ve been trying to learn how to draw. Ed bought me a sketch book and pencils for my birthday and I’ve been following the circles and lines method to learn how to draw animals. I’ve actually surprised myself at my first few attempts, I just assumed I couldn’t draw at all.