My ‘project’ for 2021 is a focus on health and wellbeing, and as part of the plan I will be monitoring progress through monthly reviews, which I’ll share here.

Monitoring should not be confused with evaluation – these monthly updates are not an assessment of whether or not my annual plan is a success or failure. Monitoring is to check the planned actions are being done, that the immediate effects of these actions are still contributing towards the overall goal and that the actions can be achieved with the planned resources. I’m using these monthly monitoring posts to see if there are any mini-corrections I need to make, such as altering the action/goal or committing more or less resources. I can also see if there is a particular area I need to lean into.

When reporting monitoring on projects I like to use a traffic light system. It’s simple to communicate but also simple to assess. Red = ok, yellow = better and green = best. Importantly, ‘best’ is not 100% for the month, but more of a 80/20 rule which is much more achievable and reasonable.

This month, I’ve revised the scope of items that I want to monitor. I’ve added a couple of categories – the amount of alcohol I’m drinking, water, doing regular stretches (aiming for a ‘green’ status of twice per week) and using my sit/stand desk whilst working.

I’ve also merged my three mental health monitors into one ‘stress’ category. I was struggling to identify separate components and feel like this is a better overall summation of pressure I’m feeling, combatted with positive things I’m doing and how in control I feel of life in general.

Exercise – My running has gone down to one 6km jog per week and walking the same distance around twice per week. The work-from-home/work-from-office routine has played a bit of havoc with my exercise routine as I’ve had to shift my hours to 7am-3pm. I usually end up working longer than this as it’s easy to feel like I need to stay online with everyone else and up up tired at the end of the day. Next month I need to keep a strict cut-off for work and build back the habit of exercising straight after.

Diet – Diet has been good this month with the majority of meals being healthy. I moved into a new office area with a snack bar full of chocolates (this was a big contributor to my unhealthy/stress eating in my previous work place) but haven’t indulged. I know that this temptation is so accessible that once I start with an afternoon pick-me-up treat, it becomes very hard to stop.

Flossing – I have been flossing around two nights per week, haven’t completely neglected this habit but would like to get it up to an average of four nights per week to turn it green.

Alcohol – Spring weather, sports finals and a lot of physical work finishing renos have combined to mean I’ve slipped into drinking a cold beer on too many evenings. I’m not drinking enough on any one evening to get a hangover, but I’m not having enough days with zero alcohol. I’ve also felt very tired recently and I’d like to see how going without any booze at all impacts my energy levels.

Water – I drink a fair amount of coffee (instant) and tea, but not that much of just water. I have a 750 mL water bottle and my aim is to drink this twice in most days to get 1.5 L of straight water. Currently I’m probably only drinking about half of this on most days.

Stretches – As lockdown as put a stop to my regular yoga classes I haven’t done much stretching at all, and my posture and back has suffered because of it. My aim is to do a short stretch session twice a week to help remedy this.

Sit/stand desk – In the office I have a sit/stand desk that I try to use twice per day. During lockdown I didn’t have this and I’m starting to notice the effects. My aim now that I’m back in the office a couple of days per week is to stand for two 30 minute sessions per day, usually combined with a meeting.

Stress – Work has been pretty tough over the past month and combined with the lockdown, I’m starting to feel a bit of the burn. It’s a sign for me to book some time off despite not being able to travel anywhere. I’ll take a week to just rest in November.

From October to December, I’m planning to really focus on my health and completely detox from alcohol. I like to do this in the run-up to Christmas as it makes me feel less guilty about indulging over the festive period, and makes it easier to refresh in January.

How are your health and wellbeing habits going? Let me know in the comments!