How These 3 Tech Tools Can Cut Down Your Time Online

A common issue I hear from my clients is the guilt they feel for the amount of time they spend online.

Whether it’s distracting them from their business, their kids, or derailing their mornings, endless scrolling seems to be an easy time suck without much reward.

Since starting maternity leave and having my baby girl, I’ve noticed an increase in my online time too.

Once she was down for a nap I found myself flopping onto the couch and zoning out with Instagram.

Before I knew it nap time was over and I hadn't achieved much at all.

I’m all for relaxing throughout the day, but I was starting to feel like a zombie and needed some tools to drag me out of this tech slump.

Forest (aka pomodoro timers) 

With a tagline like ‘stay focused, be present’, the Forest app is perfect for keeping you off your phone and in your life.

It’s basically a pomodoro-style productivity tool - you set it for a chosen amount of tech-free time (25 minutes is the default) and it will plant a tree for you.

If you pick up your phone and go into another app, the tree dies. It will send you gentle warning messages and remind you to put your phone down as the timer counts down.

I set this after baby girl goes down for a nap and am often amazed at what I can get done in 25 minutes.

Shower, dishes, laundry, often all done by the time I come back to my phone. I can see myself using this once I go back to work too.

And the best part? You can actually use the coins you accumulate from each tech free break to plant real trees on earth!

Guided meditations

Insight Timer is my latest favourite guided meditation app.

With a tonne of different teachers and types of meditation, I use it for morning meditation, drifting off to sleep and also used it for those middle of the night feeds, as there’s actually meditations for mindfulness when feeding your baby.

One of my favourite meditations is ‘Take back your online life’ by Tony Brady (and there are other tech related meditations on the app that you can try).

It reminds me of how distracted we all get online - we start looking at one thing, then go down the rabbit hole of endless information. I’ve taken one of Tony’s suggestions and now use a very simple tool to monitor online time…

Your phone timer

Yup, just the regular timer on my phone is the latest tool I’m using.

I’ll set it for 30 minutes before I open social media and put my phone down when the timer goes off.

It’s helping me understand how quickly that 30 minutes can fly by without much to show for it, and I’m able to get on with my day knowing I’ve had my fix (for now anyway…).

Time online is known to give us that special dopamine hit as messages, likes and new posts draw us in.

I’m savvy to the fact that online life has its benefits but don’t want to forget these days because my head was buried in my phone.

What tools do you use to manage your online time?  

July Recap and August Intentions

I’m curious - do you guys set monthly goals or intentions? How do you track your bigger goals for the year?

I’d love to hear so let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook.

I do have bigger goals that I work on through the year, but love to have these little check ins each month to keep me focused.

July Recap

Take a break from winter

There’s no measuring the value of 30 degree weather in the middle of winter for me.

Hawaii was just what I needed - a perfect balance of hiking, snorkeling and waterfalls, alongside pool / beach days and plenty of naps and reading (see more below!).

Depending on where and what time of year speaks most to you, I highly recommend booking a holiday in advance, and don’t forget to enjoy the lead up - after all, they say the anticipation of your trip is pretty much as good as the break itself ... amazing right?

Focus on tech free time

I definitely feel like a success with this intention (at last!). I seriously reduced my technology time while I was away - only really checking social media in the morning and maybe once at night.

And the result? I managed to read six books within the first week. What?!

Even with a fairly busy schedule of sightseeing and meals out, during moments on the beach, while I was having my morning coffee, before bed, I kept picking up my book instead of my phone.

Averaging around 4-5 hours of reading a day meant I powered through my hard copy books and Kindle picks and it made me really think - what else would I have done with those hours? Probably scrolled through Instagram and refreshed my email ... scary right?

Instead I managed a good mix of self-development and fiction titles, switching off from the incessant feeds on my phone. And my top reads? Hot Milk and Loving What Is. Enjoy!

August Intentions

Stay healthy at work

After a couple of weeks off work, it was easy to fall back into the inbox/chat trap and look out at the dreary winter weather and stay inside all day long.

I want to stay healthy through August so am going to look into apps (or set my own reminders if that is overkill!) that remind me of a few things - to drink more water, to get up from my desk and to stay focused on work and not get distracted by overwhelm.

Do you guys have any app recommendations?

Complete an early spring clean

With plans to buy some new furniture and rearrange a few bits, I’m starting to cringe a little when I see piles of stuff with no home or overstuffed cupboards around my house.

I’m not sure I can face a full day declutter so might break this up into manageable tasks over a few weekends so I’m not spending my whole weekend sorting through stuff.

But like I spoke about in last week’s post, I’ll be doing this from a strong mindset - plugging in a great podcast or some music, grabbing a nice drink and getting comfy while I go through everything.

What are your plans for August? Are you feeling the need to get more intentional at work or at home? Set up a complimentary consult with me and we can chat through the next steps.

 

The Top 5 Apps for Fun, Relaxation and Organisation

I know the media is hell bent on pointing out that devices are a time and attention span sucker and I can definitely relate to that idea.

But what about the positive aspects of devices?

They provide fun via games and social media, there are stacks of apps to help you keep organised and you can even relax via the many self-development apps out there.

So what are my favourite apps?

Snapchat

Tagline: Snapchat lets you easily talk with friends, view Live Stories from around the world, and explore news in Discover. Life's more fun when you live in the moment!

Reasons I love it

1. The filters appeal to my completely immature side (go try them!)

2. It’s fun to peek into other people’s days

3. It challenges you to be more creative via video

Feedly

Tagline: Organise, read and share what matters to you.

Reasons I love it

1. It aggregates content from all the blogs and websites I follow

2. It saves me time going to each individual site

3. It helps me find great articles to share with you readers!

Stop, Breathe & Think

Tagline: A free meditation app to help you be more mindful and compassionate.

Reasons I love it

1. It’s kept me accountable to meditation longer than any other app

2. The interface is super cute and easy to use

3. It motivates you with rewards and tracks the total time you’ve meditated (hello 9 hours + 36 mins for me so far!)

Kindle

Tagline: Read Kindle books on your computer, tablet, or mobile phone with Kindle reading apps.

Reasons I love it

1. Again the interface is super easy - you can bookmark, highlight favourite quotes and look up words in the dictionary as you read

2. I can sync it across devices so it always knows what page I’m up to

3. 1-click ebook purchases are amazingly easy (not sure if this is a pro or a con actually...)

Google Drive

Tagline: Get access to files anywhere through secure cloud storage and file backup for your photos, videos, files and more with Google Drive.

Reasons I love it

1. It’s replaced the Notes app for me as a place I can track any lists I’m using

2. I can put personal and work documents in the same place.

3. I can share docs with my husband so we can both update them

Let me know if you download any of the above apps. And, tell me, what are your favourites?

How The Reminders App Helped Me Follow Through

I’m sure you have them - those tasks on your mind that you promise to do every day, week, month. Exercise, meditation, flossing?

Then suddenly it’s 11pm , the end of your day and you’re too exhausted to even consider them.

I have quite a few of these tasks and struggled with the disadvantages and guilt of never completing them. Little did I know the answer was under my nose the whole time.

I needed to remind myself … yup, it was that simple.

Rehab - I said no, no, no

I have a problem with my right hip.

Bizarrely it stems from being a giant child (ok, not a giant, but very tall) and standing badly in order to appear shorter than I was.

Years later the problem has presented itself as an uber tight hip flexor and a weak glute.

Cue hip pain, lower back pain and generally feeling about 20 years older than I am.

My rehab tools  

Luckily I have an amazing osteo who is sorting out the problem. Unfortunately he expects me to do exercises in between our appointments.

Cue I can never be bothered, or I just forget. Every day. Every week. I forget.

It was hard to know if I’d ever get better if I didn’t do the recommended exercises. So now, every second morning, I do my rehab. And every day I drag myself off the couch at 9pm and stretch my hip flexor.

After 2 weeks of commitment I can see a huge improvement. After a month, I should be pain free.

Avoiding exercise

This is how the mind chatter goes for me -

‘I’m too tired from work to exercise’;
‘It’s cold’;
‘I’m needed at home for <some untrue reason>’.
The fit ball theme is strong...

The fit ball theme is strong...

Since I’m pretty sure I’m never going to be a morning exerciser, I have to accept I will go to the gym after work.

And, like many of you I’m sure have also experienced, when you do the exercise, you end up feeling a million times better than when you started.

Usually I regain the energy I thought was lost after a long work day and I don’t really care that it’s cold out anymore.

So far the reminder is getting me there at least a few times a week.

Prying myself from my devices

The more articles I read on this topic, the more terrified I become. But checking your phone one last time, or reading an ebook (that usually leads to Googling something the book triggers) is just so tempting.

In the US, there was a recent study on iPad readers versus book readers:

iPad readers took longer to fall asleep, felt less sleepy at night and had shorter REM sleep compared to the book readers, researchers found. The iPad readers also secreted less melatonin, which helps regulate your sleep. They were also more tired than book readers the following day, even if both got a full eight hours of sleep.

I usually bargain with myself at 10pm when this message pops up, but most of the time I’m trying to stay consistent with putting devices away at least an hour before I go to sleep.

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As for the benefits?

I’m reading way more (hard copy) books. I don’t think I’ve been trying this long enough to notice huge improvements in my sleep (I’m a pretty good sleeper to be honest) but I’ll keep you posted.

What tasks could you use reminders for? Personally, I totally need to add flossing too. Maybe next week - nobody’s perfect right?