June Recap and July Intentions

Happy second half of 2017 lovely readers! How was your first half? What have you got planned for the rest of the year?

June (like May) felt super long to me again - when I went back and reflected, I felt like I’d worked a lot, socialised a lot and rested a lot - not a bad trifecta. So let’s recap on how I went with my June intentions and start some planning for the second half of the year.

June Recap

Enjoy quality time

I feel like I really nailed this one - I had a great trip to Sydney to catch up with some friends early in the month, then went on to one of my favourite weekends of the year - the Winery Walkabout in Rutherglen.

I have been going for at least 10 years and can only remember being washed out with rain once. Given it’s winter and super cold up there, that is a pretty amazing strike rate.

I’ll let the photo do the talking but it was so nice to catch up with friends and family and take it slow with some delicious food, coffee and, of course, Bobbie Burns Shiraz.

Do one weekend hike

Thanks for holding me accountable readers, because I finally did this one! I walk regularly, but the real intention here was to go somewhere different.

I started off researching some of the best walks in and around Melbourne and, surprisingly, many of them I have already done. This includes Dights Falls, which I did many weekends over five years when I lived right near there.

It made me realise we often take our routines for granted, and here are all the walking guides heralding the amazingness of a walk I did all the time like it was no big deal.

I didn’t venture too far, but did a great walk around Banksia Park in Heidelberg and ended with brunch at the lovely Heide Museum of Modern Art. A beautiful Saturday!

Bonus: you guys also know I’m a little obsessed with Alain de Botton so I wanted to share this passage he posted on Facebook about walking last week:

The shortest trip: On Going for a Walk around the Block

A walk is, in a sense, the smallest sort of journey we can ever undertake. It stands in relation to a typical holiday as a bonsai tree does to a forest.
But even if it is only an eight minute interlude around the block or a few moments in a nearby park, a walk is already a journey in which many of the grander themes of travel are present.
The need to go for a walk begins from the same place as the longing to take off to another country: with a desire to restart our minds. We sometimes cannot work it all out by staying rooted in one place. We have stared at the screen too long, we have been bumping into the same inner obstacles without progress, we have grown claustrophobic with ourselves.
That is why we need the sight of the three oak trees and two robins by the river or the maelstrom of the high street, where we linger outside a grocer’s shop and wonder (inconclusively, yet again) what a yam might taste like. The better part of our minds has a habit of getting exhausted and sterile. It is scared as well. Some of the most profound thoughts we need to grapple with have a potentially disturbing character. An inner censor tends to kick in and blocks the progress we were starting to make towards ideas that - though important and interesting - also presented marked threats to short-term peace.
While we walk, the mind is no longer on guard. We’re not supposed to be doing much inside our heads; we’re mainly occupied with following a path around a pond or checking out a row of shops. The ideas that have been half-forming at the back of our minds, ideas about what the true purpose of our lives might be and what we should do next, keep up their steady inward pressure - but now there is a lot less to stop them reaching full consciousness. We’re not meant to be thinking and so - at last - we can think freely and courageously.
The rhythmic motion of an easy stride helps to separate us from the ruts of our current preoccupations and allows us to wander more freely though neglected regions of our inner landscape. Themes we’d lost touch with - childhood, an odd dream we had recently, a friend we haven’t seen for years, a big task we had always told ourselves we’d undertake - float into attention. In physical terms, we’re hardly going any distance at all, but we’re crossing acres of mental territory.
A short while later, we’re back at the office or at home once again. No one has missed us, or perhaps even noticed that we’ve been out. Yet we are subtly different: a slightly more complete, more visionary, courageous and imaginative version of the person we knew how to be - before we wisely went out journeying.

July Intentions

Take a break from winter

After two almost freezing mornings this past weekend, I am feeling very excited to step away from Melbourne winter for a little while and head to Hawaii for the first time.

The combination of beaches, beautiful scenery and over the top American meals is just what I need for a mid-year break. If you guys have any recommendations, please let me know, I’d love to hear them!

Focus on tech free time (again)

In last week’s post, I talked about using Moment, which tracks the time you spend on your device. Back in May I started reducing my tech time on weekends, but I feel like I’m ready to extend this to weekdays too.

As I said in last week's post, I’m not overly concerned with the amount of time I’m on my phone but more the dependency I have - picking my phone up 20-25 times a day seems pretty excessive to me.

I’m going to use Hawaii as a reset point to start focusing on reading again and not depending on social media so much, particularly while I’m away having a break. Let’s see how we go…

Do you have any tips for reducing time on your phone?

Let me know in the comments below and have an amazing July!

Three New Tech Tools I'm Using

Going crazy on downloading apps is a phase that has passed for many of us, but I still do a lot of reading about tech, often through Fast Company, and try and take on the tips I read when they resonate with me.

Over the last while, I’ve been trying a few tools I thought I’d share here on the blog.

Moment

Moment is my latest online experiment, and although it’s an app, it actually encourages you to monitor and eventually reduce your screen time.

Moment runs in the background on your phone and tracks how much time you spend on your device each day.

Over the last week of using it, I’m averaging around 2 hours on my phone per day and I have mixed feelings about that number.

I presume it’s tracking me listening to music or podcasts, or using maps in the car, which makes me feel better, but the Insights section of the app reveals that 2 hours means that 18% of my waking life is spent on my phone and I’m apparently picking up my phone around 25 times a day.

I’m just gathering data at the moment, then will see where this leads me...

Momentum

Kudos to the husband who first introduced me to this one… or really I saw it on his computer.

Momentum is a Google Chrome extension, that brings up a new photo, the time and a to do list every time you open a new tab in the browser.

Their aim is to promote focus, productivity and inspiration, and although I’ve become very used to the function after almost a year of using it, I do find the new daily landscapes pretty relaxing, and being reminded of the time helps me stay focused at work.

Night Shift / f.lux

There is stacks of research reporting the dangers of too much tech time, particularly before bed.

When I saw a kinesiologist last year, I was having real trouble with waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back to sleep.

She suggested f.lux, a plugin that reduces the brightness of your laptop screen (aka filters out blue light, which affects the hormones that help you sleep) as the day moves into evening.

The iPhone and iPad have a similar setting called Night Shift and I think the combination of using both of these have helped me sleep better.

Considering the other option my kinesiologist offered was blue blocker glasses, I’m glad these tools worked instead.

Will you try any of these tech tools this week? What are your favourites at the moment? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments below or over on Facebook.

 

My Nighttime Rituals

The post I wrote in March about dealing with sleepless nights has been a popular one here on the blog, leading me to believe many of us wake up at all hours, worrying about what’s going on in our lives.

I’m doing well these days and don’t find myself tossing and turning while fretting about work or my personal life too often.

I put it down to knowing I have strategies to lean on if I do wake up, and also my pre-bedtime rituals.

So what do I get up to of an evening?

My skincare routine

Skincare has become a non-negotiable for me, but not necessarily one I would have previously included as part of my wind-down routine.

However, years ago, a good friend of mine who lives in Sweden and is possibly one of the most relaxed people I know, told me that her favourite time of day was when she took her makeup off at night.

She would stand for at least 20 minutes, going through her ritual and just reflecting on the day.

Although I’m not patient enough to hang around for 20 minutes, I do find it therapeutic to wash the day off and feel pampered and relaxed as I head towards bedtime.

My yoga routine

If you do one thing from this post, do this!

I’m often at super sleepy stage by the time I drag myself off to bed, but I do my best to stop for 10 minutes and do some yoga. I have never regretted it and usually feel on the next level of relaxation and completely stretched out from the day.

You guys know I love Adriene from YWA and recommend her 7 minute routine, or the 20 minute one if you have some extra time at night.

You can thank me later after your amazing night of sleep.

My reading routine

I struggle with consistency here if I’m honest, but ditching social media for a book sets me up for a much better night of sleep.

As I mentioned here, reading is a real act of self-love for me and most importantly helps me switch off.

Whether you escape to another world while reading fiction or try another way of thinking if you’re reading non-fiction, put the day aside and try a new book instead. 

What are your before bed rituals?

May Recap and June Intentions

Although 2017 seems to be passing quickly, May actually feels like it went pretty slowly for me as I look back on the month.

I relaunched my website on the first day of May, which feels like quite a while ago now, and I wanted to pause and say a huge thank you for your support with launching my coaching business.

I have one coaching spot free in June and would love to chat to you for 30 minutes (complimentary!) about your goals for the rest of the year and see if we’re a good match. You can read about my coaching package here and contact me over here. I’d love to hear from you.

May was otherwise busy with coaching sessions and celebrating the birthdays of some of my favourite people.

Now we’re into the start of winter here in Australia, so let’s see how I did last month and how I’m going to keep warm in June...

May Recap

Have tech free time on weekends

Why do I so often forget how amazing this practice is? If I’m not mindful, my default, switch off mode is to pick up a device and browse social media for umpteen minutes and hours.

Over the last month, I’ve made sure to put my phone on the charger as soon as I go to bed so I’m not scrolling right before I sleep, and I’ve also been going device free for at least half a day on the weekends.

I’m so much happier and present when I do this.

At night I’ve been reading (see what I’ve been reading over here) and on weekends, mixing some productive errands with simply relaxing with Pickles.

Start weekend hikes

Yeah, no… this did not happen... 

Despite my best intentions, other plans or rain got in the way of my hiking dreams.

Stay tuned for June...

June Intentions

Enjoy quality time

I have two trips planned for June, one with friends and one with family - both who live in other cities.

Although that rules out much downtime on those particular weekends, I am excited to spend time with those close to me in person.

There are lots of celebrations in place and it will be a great break from everyday routine. Not a hard intention to meet!

Do one weekend hike

I’m not sure this will equate to staying warm in winter, but at least one weekend hike has got to be possible in June.

I have been walking on the river behind my house as always, but am going to plan at least one weekend day late in the month where I try out a new area. Wish me luck!

-

What are your plans for June? Don’t forget to get in touch if you would like a 30 minute complimentary coaching consult to start planning out the rest of 2017.

 

Why I Ditched My To Do List In Favour Of Self-Love

I’m very excited to be featured on a fellow coach, Bailey Opsal's blog this week, talking about the challenging topics of self-love and self-care.

All too often, in conversations with friends and clients, self-love is a concept they struggle with.

It’s not that they hate themselves, it’s that they think the more they push themselves or berate themselves, the more pleased they’ll be with themselves ... and that will somehow lead to self-love. It kind of sounds logical, but also quite harsh.

I used to fall into this camp. Sure I had fun and took care of myself, but the repetitive to do list of everyday life took precedent - I had to exercise a certain amount, there was always a list of things to do around the house and guilt and anxiety would set in if I wasn’t on top of everything.

I eventually figured this busy work was surely not what life was about.

Similar chores and to do lists would always be there, but I no longer wanted to make them the focus of my life or thinking.

I decided the things I loved to do had to come before my to do list.

So what does that look like?  

Yoga

If you remember this earlier post, you’ll know that I resisted yoga for a long time. In line with my busy to do list, yoga seemed boring, slow and did not burn enough calories for me back in the days when that mattered to me.

Now, I do it every day in some shape or form. It’s usually first thing in the morning and has worked wonders for waking me up and stretching out my creaky body after sleep.

You’ll know my favourites are Yoga With Adriene and Tara Stiles - try these short videos from Adriene and Tara if you’re interested.

Yoga now gets me out of my own head and slows me right down.

Reading

I used to read like a crazy person when I was younger - to the point where my sister was horribly embarrassed by me always carrying around a book.

Like many avid readers I know, the plight of social media and the short attention spans that come with it, meant I wasn’t reading nearly as much as I was buying books.

Over the last 6 months, when I catch myself on my phone, checking Instagram for the 10th time, I remind myself that reading would be much more fulfilling and again, will help me switch off.

I read a combination of hard copy books and download onto my Kindle app obsessively (are you guys all over the free sample chapters on Amazon’s Kindle store? Try before you buy!).

I’m currently reading The Course of Love (I am obsessed with Alain de Botton) and The Year of Magical Thinking (heavy going but Joan Didion’s writing is incredible).

Spending time with people

If you’re ever feeling too much up in your own head, my best advice is to go and spend quality time with someone else.

Sure you might want to talk about what you’re going through or your to do list might be nagging at you, but inevitably you’ll gain some perspective and either be distracted, or realise we’re all going through similar things.

If I can’t catch up with people in person regularly enough, I try and call them in the car on the way to or from work and make sure I check in with those most important to me.

Playing games

Those who know me, know I have a penchant for video games… yes, yes I know...

My favourite for years has been The Sims (stop laughing) which I dip in and out of a few times a year. I also love hidden object games (Google them!) - they are great for switching your brain off and relaxing. I have also recently made a triumphant return to playing Mario Kart.

Listening to music (and having dance parties)

Although I have an obsession with podcasts (my current favourites are The Life Coach School Podcast and On Being), I recognised a while ago that absorbing information constantly isn’t always the best for me switching off.

What is good for switching off my brain is listening to music - I try and do that in the car more often than not, and love going through my back catalogue of music on the computer at night and dancing around the living room when called for (much to the confusion of my cat Pickles).

What can you do this week to step away from your to do list? 

I also have one coaching spot opening up in June - contact me here for a complimentary 30 minute consult if you'd like to talk about how you can find fulfillment outside of your to do list. 

How To Actually Get Things Done

We’re crazy for productivity right?

Many of us are carting around our to do lists in our phones, in notebooks, in our brains.

The satisfying tick of an item off our to do list gives us the rush we were looking for, but sometimes the list seems to outweigh the time and energy we have right?

Not necessarily true.

Often the time we spend thinking about our to do list or procrastinating on it, could actually be spent getting things done.

So what’s the best way to satisfy that time management urge and avoid the guilt of not getting through what we were planning to get done?

Put it in your calendar

Whether it be at the start of each week or longer term for a larger project, list out each task that needs doing, then pull your calendar out and actually schedule each one.

Writing a big long to do list at work for example, then getting to Friday afternoon realising you haven’t done 75% of it, is a sure sign you need to actually book things in.

Estimating how long each task will take is also super useful and helps spark our competitive side.

Only have 1 hour to write that report? Chances are you’ll get it done within the hour in a race against the clock.

Accept you probably won’t want to do it

Understanding this has pretty much changed my life.

Whether it’s the gym, cleaning or doing a large task at work - I have the best of intentions and when I get to the scheduled time, I think ‘hmm, nah…’.

Once I accepted I was often going to feel like that, I was able to just notice it and make a decision to press on anyway.

It’s a little cliched, but who has ever worked out, looked at their clean house or finally solved a major work problem and regretted it? I didn’t think so.

Accept that your mind is going to try and talk you out of getting things done, and keep going anyway.

Congratulate yourself

Something I’m quite hopeless at is actually pausing to celebrate when it’s called for.

I’m usually on to the next project or idea, when as I wrote here, if we don’t stop to acknowledge milestones, they’ll easily be forgotten.

Make a concerted effort to congratulate yourself in some way after a long week, a big work project ending or a home renovating job coming to an end.

This will make it all worth it and help you reflect back on the effort you’ve made.

Will you put your to do list in your calendar this week? Let me know how you go!

Why Your Future Plans Won't Make You Happy

Obviously I’m all for setting intentions (not goals!) for myself around here but I’ve come to some realisations over the years, and I’m sure some of you have been through scenarios like this too.

Have you saved up for a new car (or any new possession), dreaming what it will be like to finally have it, then a week or maybe a month after getting it (and trying to keep it sparkling clean!) it becomes no big deal?

Did you plan your milestone birthday / wedding / other occasion, working on every detail and planning the perfect outfit, only to come crashing down to earth the day or days after when the anti climax of the event being over kicked in?

It’s all a little depressing yes, but all comes back to the false theory of “I’ll be happy when…” I hate to break it to you readers but this is all an illusion.

If it wasn’t, wouldn’t you be happy now, since I’m sure you’ve had those thoughts before, reached your goals, and thought I’ll be happy when I’m done with ‘X’?

So what can you do to be happy right now?

Practice gratitude

An obvious one, but a goodie. One of my guided meditations from Stop, Breathe & Think is all about gratitude and I love choosing this one in the morning.

It asks you to think about all the people who have supported you in your life, all the people you don’t see who make the world tick as it does for you (think roads, food in your grocery store, etc) and to think about the freedoms you have in your life that so many others don’t.

I love thinking like this and not taking seemingly obvious things for granted. Look around readers, there’s a lot to be grateful for right now.

Go after feelings, not just goals

I’m sure many of you have heard of Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map. I haven’t done it fully myself but do support the idea of picking core desired feelings and aiming for those instead of focusing solely on goals.

Not to the level of Danielle’s work, but I have picked my top three desired feelings for each day in the past and came up with ‘excited’, ‘energised’ and ‘satisfied’.

If I keep that in mind when deciding what to do each day (or even approaching things I don’t get to decide on with those feelings), I notice a huge difference. You can try Brooke Castillo’s worksheet on this here.

Realise this is all there is

A little morbid but I guess we all know we’re not necessarily promised any future other than today. That’s a struggle to comprehend but is incredibly grounding too.

One of the exercises I did in Self Coaching Scholars was to write out my ideal day.

What really surprised me was that, despite often trying to improve, I’m really not that far from the days I want to have.

Although it can sometimes seem boring or repetitive, on my ideal day, I would still do yoga, meditate, write to you guys, do some coaching and exercise.

I could pass them off as ‘have to’ tasks in my life, but after completing the exercise I realised I really want to do all of them.

How can you find happiness now, instead of waiting for it in the future?

 

April Recap and May Intentions

Ah April, such a nice month for me. In Australia we have a number of public holidays in April, which meant two four-day weekends and plenty of down time, as intended!

For those of you new to the blog - welcome!

Each month I set intentions (not goals - thanks for the word, Jess Lively!) and then recap how I went.

It keeps me accountable (thanks readers!) and upholds the goal of this blog - that perfection isn’t possible, but little improvements are.

To take a trip down memory lane, head here to read previous months’ recaps and intentions.

Now let’s review April and see what’s ahead for May.

April Recap

Smash time management

As I mentioned, time management was the topic for Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching Scholars in April and the theme of her podcast too, if you’d like to get some of her amazing content at no cost.

I did pretty well with this goal in April - I made sure I prioritised the day to day things that make me happy (exercise, meditation, spending time with family and friends) but also made time for my big goal - relaunching my website today!

I wrote out all the tasks I needed to get the website completed, estimated how long each would take, calendarised them and it worked!

If you’ve got something huge on your to do list or something you’ve been putting it off - try the same method and let me know how you go.

Embrace down time after a busy 6 months

Long weekends = mission accomplished.

Easter saw me indulging in a rare weekend of lazy brunches and lots of Netflix, while the following long weekend saw me go off the grid to the country with (gasp) no internet or phone reception. So good!

I of course realised how much I depend on my phone (and found myself searching for it out of habit a number of times on the trip, even though there was nothing I could do with it once I found it).

I also discovered that there wasn’t that much waiting for me when I got back to civilisation and my phone - no urgent messages, no hugely important social media updates that I’d missed ... which leads me to my May intentions.

May Intentions

Have tech free time on the weekends

After my long weekend offline, I’m keen to try this every weekend… but not all weekend of course - that’s way too scary!

I’m going to experiment with taking either a day, or two mornings or afternoons off my phone each weekend.

Recognising the insidious addiction many of us have to our phones doesn’t particularly stress me out, but I think it’s good to be aware and, in particular, try living in my life, rather than in my phone or the lives of others.

Which leads me to thinking about what I’m going to do with that time…

Start weekend hikes

Those who know me well know that I love to walk as much as possible. It clears my head, allows for great, relaxed conversation when I have company and is obviously pretty good for me too.

I’ve always walked the trail behind my house but have also many times over the years bookmarked links to great walks or hikes around Melbourne.

Each weekend, when time allows, I want to spend at least half a day doing a walk in a new area - and if I’m alone, I’m allowing myself to listen to podcasts on my phone, but no scrolling through social media!

--

What’s your plan for May? Do you have success with tech free time? Let me know below!

 

What To Do When You're Low On Energy

Confession: over the last few weeks, I feel like I have run out of energy.

Between the clocks changing, work slowing down and the weather feeling much cooler, I’ve fallen out of routine and, to be really honest, feel like a bit of a slug getting around most days.

Now, this is not my style at all. I enjoy being busy - catching up with friends, exercising, working on my business and writing to you guys.

So you can imagine my brain started going a little crazy when those activities fell away and I found myself nodding along to the Netflix notification that my next episode would be starting in 10 seconds.

‘What’s wrong with you?’
‘Get up and do something’
‘You are way behind on your to do list’

Thanks brain! But of course, berating myself wasn’t working or making me feel any better. I took a new perspective and tried these steps instead.

Be kind to yourself

Instead of beating myself up, I took a step back and looked at what was going on.

I’m not a robot who is going to feel the same way and do the same things every day for the rest of my life. I’m going to have ups and downs and feel different week to week and year to year.

Once I accepted this, it took a big load off and I could just accept that I wasn’t running at full steam at the moment.

Appreciate what you had

A few weeks ago, pre-energy slump, I was probably begrudging my busy schedule and responsibilities - and ironically, now I missed them!

The grass is not always greener and I know when I’m back to feeling energetic again, I’m going to bear in mind how much I missed that busy life I created for myself.

Just do something

The other night, while feeling tired after work, I thought: 

‘I’ll just get the laundry on, and will make it a bit more fun by listening to a podcast while I do it.’

After that, I knew I could sit down again and rest.

Lo and behold, once I got the laundry on, I started doing a few other things around the house, then felt ready to reply to some emails I’d been putting off.

My energy level rose as I went and after about an hour of productivity, I was ready to chill out again, knowing I’d made some progress. Don’t push yourself here but doing small things can make you feel much better.

What do you do when you’re in a slump? Let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook.

 

Struggling To Get Out Of Bed In The Morning? Read This...

Do you ever get the feeling you’re the only one who struggles in the mornings?

Your alarm goes off and you a) hit the snooze alarm or b) start the desperate bargaining for how you can stay in bed.

Can I exercise tomorrow instead? Can I call in sick? Can I work from home? Can I cancel all my plans and stay in the warmth?

I hear about this happening a lot in conversations with clients and friends and - shock - also sometimes feel this myself.

In particular, over the last week, with clocks changing, I’ve been struggling to get out of bed in the morning.

So what can you do?

Expect it

We often go to bed with grand plans of yoga the next morning, prepping our lunch and jumping out of bed gleefully to our to do list. If you wake up and don’t feel like the person you expected to the night before, that’s ok.

The worst thing you can do is berate yourself and feel shocked, disappointed or guilty about your struggle.

If you know you don’t usually feel great, expect it and it will be easier to take when it comes up in the wee hours of the morning.

Watch it

In one of my favourite personal development books, The Happiness Trap (read my review here), Dr Russ Harris talks about distancing yourself from your thoughts.

As we’ve come to understand, our thoughts are not necessarily the truth, so if you can name the thoughts or watch them from a distance, they will likely be easier to deal with.

For example, you can name the thoughts you go through each morning (“Here comes the ‘stay in bed’ story again”) or mentally stand back and watch your thoughts drift by from a distance.

This loosens their power and effect on you and helps pull you out of the intensity of your feelings.

Move on with it

I’m sure many of us have had this experience - we are 100% sure we cannot face the day and will feel like rubbish all day if we even attempt to face the world.

We promise ourselves as soon as we get home from the day we can go back to bed and pull the covers over our head.

Then after dragging ourselves out of bed, we shower, have breakfast and can barely remember that crazy person who told us to not to get out of bed today.

We get on with our day and enjoy the evening, before returning to bed at regular time that night.

I’m not dismissing the need to have a doona day now and then, but usually it’s not actually what we need or want by the time we start our day.

Try moving on with your day’s activities and observe the results.

If you’re ready to try becoming a morning person, read my three tips here.

And let me know how you go with your morning thoughts this week and if these tips help you face the day.