Building New Habits


Relevant to my post about success and daily habits, I have resolved to build or strengthen these three (3) areas:

  • Work-Life Balance – Spend only 9.5 hours at most in the office
    • This means going in and out of the office on time
    • Maximise productivity within the official working hours

Honestly, I over stay at work because I like working when everyone else has left. My mind is more focused and creative juices flow. I suppose I can also do that by coming in earlier for my shift, reverse the hours, if you will. I haven’t really tried that.

Another reason for staying too long is that I tend to lose steam towards the end of my shift. I literally drowse and fall asleep without even trying. Sometimes, I struggle to keep awake even while speaking with someone. And it doesn’t matter how much sleep I get the previous night. The doctor I consulted awhile back mentioned that the sleep apnea is probably keeping me tired even while sleeping, translating to not having enough rest. A sleep study would really help me, but I figured I’d try to lose some weight before I go back for medical help (for both the sleeping problem, and the PCOS). So that’s why I’m also going to work on the second habit..

  • Sleep 7 hours daily
    • Promotes general well-being
    • Should give me energy to power through 8 hours of work without drowsing in the middle of the day.

Habits 1 and 2 complement each other. If I am to get 7 hours of sleep daily, and still have a life, I have to stick to a 9.5-hour work-day. Otherwise, all I would do at home is sleep – no chores, no hobbies, no writing. NOTHING. So those are the two that I have already started tracking with my small Kislap. Incidentally, around this time last year, I also tried to sleep better but failed. Here’s how last year’s tracker looked like – Mostly X’s:

2015 sleep tracker

Let’s push harder this time around.

  • Budget and use CASH
    • Revisit current budget categories
    • Utilize jar or envelope system for variable expenses

It is really sad that I wasn’t able to sustain the good habits I worked on for so long. Seems that manually tracking expenses is way better for me than the excel sheet on my phone or referring to my credit card bill to examine where everything went at the end of the month. But there is always hope.

Are you working on building any habits? How are you doing it?  Do you have tips for sleeping better? Any tips to help me become successful in these three areas?

Your Habits Determine Your Future

We recently changed our Cable TV subscription from having over 100 channels thru the old-school Platinum pack with the Discovery and lifestyle channels to the cheaper Dual Def 549 package. As a result, we now have the Simply Money channel where the show ‘Til Debt Do Us Part airs. A few years back, that show inspired me to build better spending and saving habits. Coupled with other concepts I’ve learned here and there, I managed to cut back on consumer credit card debt and felt so happy about it.

Unfortunately, I’ve not always maintained those good habits. Now, my credit card use is getting a little bit out of hand.

After our wedding, my husband and I agreed on a budget and we’ve pretty much stuck to it. We prioritised paying off debt, but by this time, we should already be building our emergency fund back up. Sad to say, we aren’t. We are thru paying off one loan, and will soon finish payment on another. Instead of getting rid of all but one credit card, we still have three. The third one was supposed to be the only remaining card and would be used for auto payments on bills, for gas and groceries too. It is the card we always pay off in full monthly. So far, we’ve managed to do that. But in order to keep cash flowing, I’ve made the mistake of swiping the plastic to pay for meals in restaurants, and also for other purchases. In order for my plan to work, we should stick to cash on all other expenses.

So anyway, tuning into Simply Money even for just a few days has helped knocked some sense back into my thick skull.

But no sound advise will ever be enough. John Maxwell has it when he said in his book Make Today Count that –

Your Success is Determined by Your Daily Agenda

John Maxwell IMG source:


Our habits do define us. And I’ve got some pretty bad habits, and so does the husband.

Change your habits


We will not get our finances in order without making real changes to our daily habits. Same goes about losing weight. It is not going to happen without us changing the way we spend our days. We have taken a bold step – we have been on a calorie-controlled meal plan in the past month and I lost a little over 5 pounds already. But because we’re using a meal delivery service, we’re getting tired of the food. So we have to learn to make it on our own. This week is the start of trying portion control by ourselves on our home cooked meals. Wish us luck.

I examined how I spend my days and realise that spending over 12 hours at work was not going to help me achieve my life goals. Besides, my team’s success doesn’t rely on how long I stay in the office. I need at least 7 hours of sleep, at least that’s what Arianna Huffington says. I already know that no matter how much sleep I get, I still fall asleep at work or on the wheel. There’s a whole different health issue there and I’m going to need a sleep study, but before then I’m willing to give it another shot. I’ll start trying to sleep better. But if I were to sleep that much without changing anything else on my schedule, I wouldn’t be spending any quality time with the husband daily, and there’d be no more time for reading or crochet. I like watching TV, and going on the computer at home, how am I going to squeeze in those activities and add exercise too?

I’ve got to make changes on my daily schedule, and build new habits. Ready or not, here I come.


Crochet – Watch Me Go!

We’re only on the third month of the year and already I’ve got 4 completed crochet projects under my belt. Wowza! Watch me go!

Baby blanket for Bianca

I made two baby blankets. A blue, green, and gray chevron made with Dapper Dreamer Stardust. It was the first time I used that yarn and I loved how soft it was. I can imagine how it will keep Baby Ricky cool and comfy in our tropical weather. My second blanket is the one pictured above – pink, purple, and white for Baby Bianca. I made it using Ganstilyo Guru Milk Cotton Medium, another first time for me. This yarn was chunkier but I can imagine how soft it would feel around the baby.

It surprised me how quickly I finished those blankets. Both are gifts and I’m  just happy I finished the first one before the baby came out, and the second one within two weeks of starting it. I’d have finished sooner if I didn’t run out of yarn. More expert crocheters would probably finish the project in three or four days, but compared to my first three afghan projects, two weeks is super record time for me. I can foresee a few more baby blankets in the making this year.

While waiting on my yarn restock I started a slouchy beanie as requested by my husband. It was the first time that he had asked me to make anything for him so I quickly went to it.

Slouchy Beanie for the Husband

It’s custom sized for him, but I followed this tutorial from YouTube. I love how there are so many free patterns and even video tutorials available online! Here’s a photo of the husband proudly wearing my creation:

Badong's Beanie

Today I also finished my very first scarf! I started working on it while at a Management kick-off about three weeks ago to keep myself from nodding off while listening to presentations. I made good progress but frogged it a day later because it just didn’t feel right. I adapted this pattern but made my own additions, including the arch and picot edging which I had just learned to do for this project. This will be a gift for the boss’ wife. I hope she likes it.
Vera's first scarf

I love this hobby! Off to get started on my next project 🙂

Mine! – My Sugar Free Yarn Experience

Since my first big project (the ripple blanket), I’ve been buying my yarn online. First, from Trey the Gantsilyo Guru, and more recently, on Facebook from Sugar Free Yarn.

I first heard of Sugar Free Yarn and their Yarn sales from the FB group Crochet Addict Philippines. I had to add Sheila, the Yarn Lord, before I got an exclusive invite to the Facebook group. They now have their own website, so you can check them out at Yarns by Sugar Free.

They usually announce their bi-weekly sessions and yarn addicts like me would have to be ready to reserve the items which are all on limited amounts. How do we do that? First to comment “Mine” on the photo would be first on queue, and so on. A reliable internet connection is definitely important here. Hehe.

We were out having dinner when the first session I joined started. I asked the husband not to be in too much of a hurry to pay and leave so I won’t miss anything. The first item went slow so I thought, “the was easy.” Apparently, everyone else was just logging on and warming up. The next few cakes I liked went fast!

While walking up to the parking lot, I had one arm wrapped around the husband, but my eyes and one hand was glued to my phone. I had to be quick! When we got to the car, I had to endorse the phone to the husband with very detailed instructions of what he had to do to watch out for the next lot. It was so funny! We kept shouting Mine even though there was no new post, it became a reminder to refresh the page and check again.

He was so into it, commenting Mine even before showing me a photo of what we were buying, hahaha. It was so much fun. I was glad to share the experience with him. Lol.

I had to wait awhile before receiving my orders, but it was because I couldn’t pay right away. I think it took me a week and a half before we had time to go to a BPI to deposit payment, but they sent my my yarn just a day or two after confirming my payment.

Here’s my stash from that very first session:

Vera's Sugar Free Yarn Stash

Vera’s Sugar Free Yarn Stash

I joined one more session since. I told myself I would just be a spectator but I couldn’t help it. It was like my fingers had a life of its own typing Mine for every gorgeous mix I saw. Hehe.

Shonda Rhimes on TED – A Year of Saying Yes to Everything

Every once in awhile, I read the TED newsletter that regularly gets sent to my Inbox and actually click through to watch a video or two. Today, it was Shonda Rhimes – TV Titan who is behind Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder, among others. She was up for a TED Talk and spoke of her year of saying Yes to everything – especially to her kids asking her to play.

I love the way she spoke. I’ve never seen her interviewed before but I am familiar with her work. Such a genius she must be. So creative, focused. She really must be such a Titan. But I love that she spoke about Love. About what truly brings one Joy.

There is a lot of emphasis on increasing productivity and maintaining focus on goals as a way to attain excellence. But she took a different path. Oh yes, she talked about being a workaholic and having very long workdays. But she emphasised this: Work won’t work without Play.

Recently, I have been passionate about crocheting. At other times in my life, it was blogging or baking, or blogging AND baking. No matter how long i stayed at work, no matter the demands on my time and presence, I always carved time out to do the things I wanted to do. There was always time to make Oreo Truffles, or Tres Leches cakes. I didn’t care about losing sleep – it made me happy. Whenever I started to blog, or bake, I would find myself in a certain ZONE. Same thing now about crocheting. Or about reading, sometimes. So I realised, I need to do these things to keep me sane and also to keep me going about work.

In the last 10 months or so, I’ve felt a shift deep within me. Before my recent promotion, years prior, I told my boss that I was happy and content with where I was. I didn’t see myself applying for a higher post. Truth be told, I was a bit bored. I was contemplating finding something else to do. Had I the life savings to support me with whatever I wanted to do, I probably would have left. But I needed my job and all the cushion my salary gave me. But after that amazing few days in Sagada with my husband and Team, and then transferring to a different program, things changed. I had found myself full again – not necessarily raring to go to work every single day – but not really dreading it. I felt passion for work. It was my core value of excellence that fuelled me – I had been given a  huge challenge and we needed to come out on top. But that was just the beginning.

I realise now, thanks to Shonda, that just wanting to be good at what I do wouldn’t have sustained me for a long time. It can’t. What keeps me going now is being able to refill my cup daily. There are a few ways I do it too.

Cultivating relationships with the people I work with. That 5 or 15 minutes of chat about things other than work. That refills my cup.

Having lunch with friends. That adds more.

Coming home to my husband and talking about our day. Planning our grocery list. Bickering about everything, haha! That takes me almost full to the brim.

And then finding a comfortable spot to crochet or knit – that allows my cup to overflow.

And then I  go to bed, wake up a few hours later, and I’m all ready for work again.

I used crocheting here because it’s what I do everyday now. But it could also be doodling, writing, reading, blogging, videoke, spending time with Amir or Alexiess. It is anything that sparks joy.

Thank you to the Titan, Shonda Rhimes.

%d bloggers like this: