June Review

Pain in my shoulders has forced me to have a rest from ‘A Simple Life’
Little to report

To say that it has been a quiet month here on ‘A Simple Life’ is an understatement, as I haven’t written anything since my last monthly review. Unfortunately I have been having some problems with my shoulders caused by too much sitting at my desk and so after a day’s work I have been reluctant to then spend more time typing. I have found some videos on the Pilates website where I subscribe and have been adding them to my daily morning and evening routines. Fortunately that has been helping, but I think it’s going to take a lot more work to completely resolve the problem.

Like most people life has been fairly uneventful and I am still working at home. I must admit I have settled into the routine and I think that I am going to struggle when we get back to normal, which I think won’t be for a while yet. Obviously I miss the social side of life, especially a nice meal out, but I don’t miss all that driving for work. Whereas I used to listen to podcasts when driving for work, I now enjoy them on my daily walk. As a result my step count has increased. My daily target is 9000 steps and whilst there are some days when I don’t hit that, a lot of the time I do. Prior to lock down I was struggling to do 2000 steps some days.

We had a week off in June, which was meant to be a fortnight spent in France, but instead we stayed home and worked in the garden. I cancelled the second week of leave and plan to take it later on in the year. On one day we went fora walk, starting by going through a field with lots of orchids. It was a very hot day, but fortunately quite a bit of the walk passed through woodland. All that hot weather seems a long time ago now, as I sit here looking out at the rain on this mid-July day.

I’d love to be able to work just 6 hours a day

It has always been my wish to work part time, but the more I look at our finances the less likely I think it is to be possible, especially if I want to reintroduce some of the things that I have given up in order to try to pay off the mortgage and build up some savings. Recently I have been taking a different approach to work. When lock down started our work dried up for a couple of weeks and I was looking around for things to do. It was agreed that even if we didn’t work a full week we would still be able to claim full time hours on our flexi sheets. After that initial two-week slow patch the work has picked up again, but I have been working really hard on improving my productivity. You may remember I read Cal Newport’s book, Deep Work, earlier in the year and I started to implement some of his strategies.

I have also discovered the beauty of ‘calendaring’. I no longer have a to do list. Every task has a spot on my calendar. There are daily repeated tasks such as ’emails and phone calls’. On the notes for that slot I list the calls and emails I need to make on that day. I can’t over-emphasize how liberating this feels. With a to do list you are never finished, as there’s always something left on your list. By calendaring everything at the end of the day you can see whether you have achieved everything that you planned to do. In fact, sometimes I finish my work day early, as I have achieved all of the tasks that I planned to do on that day.

What all of this means is that although the workload has increased I am still managing to work fewer hours every week that the 37 hours that I get paid for. It’s not that I am doing less than anyone else, it’s just that I am doing it more efficiently. I have started to wonder why we pay people for the hours that they put in rather than the amount of work that they achieve. I have been reading more books and listening to some podcasts on the topic of productivity and plan to continue to try to improve my skills.

My aim is to be able to achieve all of my work within 30 hours each week. If I can do this, by the time that life returns to normal, which may not be until well into 2021, I am hoping that I will be a pro at this. The question then is going to be whether I can persuade my employer, which is a public sector organisation, to continue paying me on a full time basis for only working part time. I would argue that if I can show that I am working just as hard, if not harder, than those people doing longer hours, why shouldn’t I be entitled to the same wage.

Close friendships is still a work in progress for me
personal development

The topic in my life coaching program last month was ‘Wanting from Abundance’. In essence, appreciating what you have now, but also wanting to change that, but without feeling unhappy about your current circumstances. One of the areas that I chose to look at was friendships. I think that I have probably written about this before, but I do struggle to find like-minded people. People who I can share my true feelings with. That’s probably why I enjoy reading and writing blogs as I can connect with people on the same wavelength.

The life coach said that I need to be honest with myself first and then open up to other people and they will respond and open up to me. It’s basically putting yourself out there and sharing your feelings and seeing the response in order to make connections with people. I must admit that this is an area that I am still working on. I think that at heart I am a ‘people pleaser’ and am worried about upsetting others. In my job as a social worker I am paid to be diplomatic and so it has become second nature to me. Maybe at home I need to relearn being true to myself, saying what I think and to heck with the consequences. People will like me or they won’t.

A colleague, who lives fairly close, invited me round for a socially distanced coffee recently. It was an open-ended invitation – if you’re at a lose end pop round. In the past I would never have taken her up on this offer and on reflection I think that this may be the problem. Other people are reaching out to me and I am ignoring them. Whilst I haven’t yet been round for that coffee I am off from work at the end of July, so plan to take up her offer then. I suppose the truth is that often we like to blame our circumstances for our situation, as opposed to looking at our own behaviour as the creator of our results.


Life under lock down involves no spending on petrol or social activities, but the amount spent on food has been astronomical. The budget is £140, which is just for my half of the groceries and cleaning items. In June I spent £224.62. It has made me realise how expensive shopping in the small local stores is. Fortunately Tesco’s now have some delivery slots and so my spending in July is likely to be much smaller. Toiletries came to £18.44. I splashed out on some Pilates equipment, as it doesn’t look as though classes will be starting back anytime soon. Fortunately I am enjoying the online program and it makes it easier if I have the right equipment. I also bought four books – ones about improving my focus at work and finding my passion in life . Therefore miscellaneous spending came to £86.15. On the savings front they total £33,000 plus £8,000 put aside for a new car. We paid £1122.11 towards the mortgage, which now stands at £65,492.51.

So there we are. I hope that you are well and using this time wisely. Hopefully coming to terms with the new normal rather than fighting against the reality of a situation which none of us can change. Hopefully my Pilates will help with my shoulder problems and I will get a few more posts up this month.

11 Replies to “June Review”

  1. Calendaring sounds like an interesting idea. I usually operate on a never-ending to-do list, so I may give your idea a go and see how I fare. Thanks for the tip!

    1. Dr FIRE, I have to say that calendaring is amazing and has changed the way that I work. I feel so much more in control and on top of things. If you do give it a go I’d really like to know how you get on.

  2. I like the idea of calendaring, I too have a never ending to do list that just gets bigger and bigger, my work can be unpredictable so it won’t be straight forward, but might help to feel like I have achieved things! Sounds like you are continuing to make good progress and make great achievements even during lockdown!

  3. Hi Sam! It’s so nice to read a new update from you. It sounds like you’re doing well. Like you, it’s also much the same for us. Not a whole lot to report either! I suppose that’s as it should be, in these risky times.

    I hope your shoulders feel better soon so we can read more from you!

    Close friendships are tough for many people, me included. I need to really like and be aligned with someone before committing long-term to getting to know them! Even so, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having only acquaintances. That can be just as meaningful depending on how you view it.

    1. Chrissy, lovely to hear from you. Really enjoying watching your progress in the Canadian FI world. As always, thanks for the kind words.

  4. Hi Sam,
    Sorry your shoulders are playing up at the moment. I find osteopath treatment is good for my shoulder pain but I’m not going due to lockdown. So just trying to relax with heat pack at the moment. Hope you get better soon!

    I’m much the same with friendships – with the result of having a few very good friends and lots of acquaintances.

    Calendaring sounds like a good idea except I always underestimate how long it takes for a task so would then be stressed out because I can’t complete the task within the given time frame and have to move on to the next task.
    Maybe I need to give it another go!

    Your walks through woodlands and orchids sound amazing!

    Hope your July is going well 😉

  5. Hi Sam

    Thanks for sharing. Quite similar to my lockdown, in the sense that you appear to have appreciated things just slowing down in life.

    Sorry to hear about your shoulder pain. My Fitbit prompts me to move every hour so I try to remember to move my shoulders too as i’m prone to injury there.

    I might take a look at calendaring, to see if it’s something that would work for me.

    Interesting that you mention a new car – I now know two people who have bought brand new cars on 0% finance. That’s extreme lockdown shopping but apparently they’ve been enjoying driving around the quieter roads!

  6. Hi Sam, great to hear from you again! I’ve also read Deep Work and I’m using calendaring in my day-to-day as well. Have to say that it’s not always going as planned and some days I am not planning anything. Guess I’m still in the phase where I’m getting used to it 😉

    Agree a lot with a job where you can close your laptop as soon as your work is done. I don’t see the use of working harder than your colleagues for the same pay, it should be rewarded in some way.

    Hope your shoulder gets better soon so we can look forward more articles from you!

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