Here is my monthly report on projects, goals, and the lessons I learned along the way.
My 2021 Goals
552,507/1,000,000 words for kids (A part of my #1millionwordsforkids goal) (+2,688 words)
748/1,000 Resources (Videos/Worksheets) for Members of The Religion Teacher (+9 resources)
44/24 Books Read (+3 books including I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, and A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens)
48/73 Books of the Bible read from beginning to end (+8 books read)
92/100 30-minute workouts (+10 workouts)
How I Spent My Time in December 2021
I track every minute of time I spend working on projects using an app called Toggl (here is why). Here is a list of the top ten projects I spent the most time on last month:
- 9:00 – Website Host Transition
- 8:16 – The Religion Teacher Email & Customer Service
- 8:07 – Formative Fiction Worksheets
- 5:42 – Morning Preview
- 3:16 – Weekly Review
- 2:56 – Daily Review
- 2:14 – The Religion Teacher Newsletter
- 1:56 – The Religion Teacher Member Videos and Graphic Organizers
- 1:53 – The Religion Teacher Member Weekly Email
- 1:52 – 15-Minute Stations of the Cross for Kids
Total Time: 58:56 Hours
December 2021 Highlights & Lessons Learned
A New Hosting Company: WP Engine
The biggest project to close out my year was transitioning from Bluehost to WP Engine as the hosting company for my websites. I have been enjoying Bluehost for ten years, so this was a big move.
I’m not a trained web designer or computer programmer. I have degrees in history, theology, and education. Everything I have learned about website design and marketing is self-taught. One of the biggest requirements for picking a new company to host my websites was to have a great customer service. Thankfully, WP Engine has been fantastic. They assigned a specific person to help with the transition and the customer service phone service was awesome.
I was able to switch things over during the slow traffic days of Christmas without many mistakes. I immediately saw a difference in speed. I had become so used to waiting for pages to load, that it surprised me every time I saw the “page updated” notification almost immediately. This was all very well timed, too. I received multiple emails from members saying the slow loading times made them want to cancel. Thank goodness things are better now.
Formative Fiction Worksheets
I finished all the worksheets I had planned for The Religion Teacher and moved on to another set of worksheets to help kids read some of the most popular character-building and social-emotional learning books.
In my mind, I was thinking of “formative fiction” as an imprint for my writing. I shifted my thinking to extend beyond just my work to a broader mission:
Help kids find stories that give them confidence, character, and a relationship with Christ.
I’m excited to get these worksheets out into the world.
I even created a couple of Christmas worksheets:
The 4-Hour Workday
Last month I started to focus on a new daily goal: one worksheet a day.
For the last few months, I have been frustrated with the difficulty I was having getting things done.
Now my only goal each day is to create one worksheet. Would I work on other things each day? Of course! But I felt overwhelmed by the number of projects I wanted to complete. I felt like a failure every single day for not getting more work finished.
So, I had to train myself to believe that finishing only one page, one worksheet was a success.
It didn’t take long to see that I didn’t have to trick myself at all. One worksheet a day led to more productivity than I have had all year.
The one-page-a-day/one-worksheet-a-day goal helped me come to terms with something I had been avoiding most of this year.
I am going to work less hours that I’m used to and that is okay.
I get to be a stay-at-home dad. My wife had the opportunity this year to do some amazing work and increase her hours. I’m working less hours, but achieving more success than ever before. Accept it, embrace it, maybe even teach it.
It turned into a fun challenge for me. Inspired by the idea of the “4-Hour Work Week,” I worked on a system for a “4-Hour Work Day.”
Instead of feeling sad about the lack of time I had to do my work, I worked on my 4-Hour Work Day system. I created a checklist in Notion that looked like this:
Enthusiasm not anxiety. Accomplished not frustrated. Present not distracted.
4-Hour Work Day Routine
- Morning Preview: Pray and prepare for today.
- One Page A Day = One Worksheet A Day (First before any other project or email)
Finishing this step is a successful day!
- Prepare and schedule newsletters for the week. (Publish or create pages as needed.)
- Plan the next newsletter.
- Work on the Big Projects due in the next month.
- Work on drafts of pages for completed worksheets.
- Once all individual worksheet pages are ready, create the product (files & sales pages)
- Work on other long-term projects.
- Reply to Email when time is limited before transitions.
- Daily Review: Plan tomorrow.
Like I said, finishing step two was a success. Everything else was a bonus.
Of course, I needed to work on newsletters and long-term projects, but finishing that one worksheet gave me a sense of accomplishment that made everything else easier and more fun to do.
Up next: review 2021.