How To Stop Being A Technology Junkie

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Around four months ago, I started tracking the time I spend on my phone each day … as I mentioned in that post, I do use my phone to listen to podcasts while I’m commuting (up to an hour each day), but the number waiting for me in the Moment app next to ‘hours’ at the end of each 24 hours was still pretty exorbitant.

Like many, I often feel like I don’t have enough time.

Between work, my blog, coaching, cooking, exercise, keeping up the house, catching up with friends … you get the picture right?

But then how is it that I can manage 2+ hours a day on my phone?

The conclusion I came to was that I used it for relaxation. When I had a spare minute, or finished a task, or finished up the day, I was scrolling all my feeds.

Again, and again, and again, throughout the day.

What was troubling me even more were the not so acceptable times I was spending time on my phone.

When I had a nice ‘quiet’ weekend planned, the time on my phone skyrocketed, when I could have been doing some of those activities I feel I have no time for.

And even more harmful was the 3am pick up of the phone when I couldn’t get back to sleep - because we all know, a screen is not going to lull you back into a deep slumber. 

So what have I been trying and what can you do to cut back on tech time too?

Replace the urge

Picking up devices has really become muscle memory for many of us.

Particularly while away on holiday in Hawaii, I noticed, even when in another country with beautiful views and plenty to see and do, I would still automatically pick up my phone.

While I was there, I made a conscious effort to only look at my phone first thing in the morning and before dinner each night. Since a lot of the holiday involved swimming and relaxing, that left me with a fair bit of spare time. And I filled that spare time with reading.

This is something I’ve carried into regular life and now usually read my book to unwind after work and before bed.

As you can imagine, I am powering through plenty more books these days and although (disclaimer) I do read ebooks on my iPad, I’m actually more relaxed when I’m reading fiction (hello escapism) or non-fiction (learning about new topics) than I am when looking into other people’s lives on social media.

What main activity could you use to replace the urge to pick up your phone?

Create a list of spare time activities

I also began to wonder - what were all those things I wanted to do that I didn’t have enough time for?

They varied from doing more yoga, to decluttering my house, to blogging, to checking in with friends over the phone.

Knowing what I want to prioritise helps me when I do find myself reaching for my phone during a quiet moment.

I’ll do a yoga or pilates video on YouTube, I’ll call a friend or I’ll clear out a drawer that’s been bugging me.

Most of these activities are less than half an hour but usually make me feel much more accomplished and fulfilled than looking up from Instagram Stories for the 10th time wondering why my Sunday afternoon is nearly over.

What are some activities under 30 minutes you could add to your spare time list?

Admit that tech is not evil

This was an interesting learning from cutting back on my time online. It is truly hard to get away from tech day to day.

Life really has surrounded us with devices and apart from a hard copy book there’s not a lot I do at home or work that doesn’t involve tech of some description.

I’m grateful for online resources like books, TV shows, workouts and podcasts, and if they don’t have negative consequences for me, I’m going to go for it.

In what ways is technology creating a positive influence in your life?

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?

5 Lunch Break Ideas to Increase Your Productivity This Week

For my entire career, I’ve always been a huge proponent of taking my lunch break.

In fact I’m quite commonly known around the office as the one that will always go out for a walk at lunch, and have befriended many coworkers over the years who want to join me sporadically or regularly.

Clearly not every day or week lends itself to taking a full lunch break but, when possible, I try and recharge.

I find my afternoons are much more productive and I can reset my energy levels for the rest of the day.

Here are 5 ideas to try out this week.

Enjoy a book

Escapism is a great way to recharge your brain. After a busy morning, reading fiction can help you step out of the work grind and even strengthen brain connections and cognitive function

If you can’t find a cosy spot to read, download an Audible book and listen to it as you take a walk around the area.

Eat without digital distractions

This is a tough one that I continually have to work on.

It’s very easy to scoff your lunch while scrolling through all the Instagram marble bathroom or smoothie photos you’ve missed from the morning.

The problem is you very rarely enjoy your food and it’s easy to either eat past fullness or not feel full at all as you haven’t savoured your food.

I find it hard to stare into space while eating, but talking to coworkers at the office kitchen table is a good alternative and, as an added bonus, it helps build relationships.

Meet a friend

Use your lunch hour to catch up with a friend for lunch.

Chatting about topics other than work projects and enjoying a proper break at a local cafe will leave you ready to focus for the afternoon.

As an added bonus you won’t have to cram as many social engagements into the evenings and weekends if you utilise your lunch break for catch ups.

Listen to music

A good way to give your eyes a rest from screens is to plug in some good tunes.

You could enjoy music while lying in a nearby park, taking a walk (we’re seeing a pattern here) or browsing local shops.

Again it will help you get out of your own head and escape into whatever type of music works for you.

Pamper yourself

Self-care is a very positive way to spend the middle of your day.

Get a manicure, a short shoulder and neck massage or try out some makeup at a local cosmetics store.

The focus is on rejuvenating yourself and feeling fresh when you return for an afternoon of work.

What helps you recharge on your lunch break?

 

October Recap and November Intentions

We are almost through October so it’s time to review my intentions for the last month.

Cut off technology at 10pm (and read hard copy books)

I am getting better with this intention. I’ve been reading this great book, which is basically short interviews with interesting Londoners. It does entice me to read every night but I still find myself often taking ‘one last look’ at social media. Disconnecting from technology is a work in progress for all of us I think.

Enjoy the daylight

Unfortunately I injured myself earlier in the month, so I haven’t been able to do much exercise, including going to the gym. However, walking has been doable so I’ve been walking along the river most nights after work before we sit down to dinner.

With the clocks moving forward in Australia, it’s been beautifully light and warm, so I have definitely felt an increased appreciation for the daylight. And with less wine than I intended to enjoy last month, which is probably a good thing!

Revel in upcoming events

An expressive birthday moment with friends...

An expressive birthday moment with friends...

Over my birthday weekend I made sure to sit back and enjoy special moments with friends and family and not let them pass by too quickly.

Unfortunately the music festival I was going to was cancelled but I still have plenty of upcoming fun activities to practice this technique on.

November Intentions

Schedule quarterly shopping days

Uh, how fun does this sound? This year I’ve been planning my budget a little better and putting some extra money away for clothes and beauty.

It’s starting to build up and I figure rather than making spontaneous online shopping hauls (hello Asos), I should make a day of it and go into stores, try on and buy great products and finish with a meal or drink with a girlfriend. Who’s with me?

Eat more frogs at work

I ebb and flow with this concept, but back when I wrote this post, it was working really well for me. It’s a very busy season at work so, rather than fall behind, I’m going to try and get my ‘ugliest’ task out of the way first thing.

Whether that be a phone call I’m dreading, a report I’ve been putting off, or plugging my headphones in and getting my inbox back under control, it will put me in good stead for the rest of the work day.

Plan for the holidays

Yes, it’s nearly that time again! Between work and social events, I usually do a frantic online shop (are we seeing a pattern here?) in early-mid December.

This year I’d like to think ahead, work on some great, thoughtful gifts and also get a food and drink list started to make this season extra special.

What are you planning to get done in November? Let me know in the comments below.

Light Links: September (+ October Intentions!)

Hi lovely readers. I’m going to mix it up with this last post of the month.

Along with the regular Light Links, I’m also going to look forward to the next month and set some intentions (I love this word over ‘goals’ - thanks Jess Lively).

Then at the end of each month we’ll recap and see how I did. Sound good? Ok, let’s go...

October Intentions

Cut off technology at 10pm (and read hard copy books)

So my reminders plan was going along brilliantly, but since I finished my last hard copy book, I’ve been a little lost after 10pm and have either been reading on my Kindle app or (let’s be honest) perusing the internet again.

This month I’m going to pick some books to replace the internet habit and wind down before bed without a screen.

This time last year...

This time last year...

Enjoy the daylight

Spring has rushed into Melbourne and I’m noticing the longer days more than ever before. I think because our new house has lots of natural light, it’s more obvious than in previous years.

I’m planning on sitting on our balcony or in our courtyard with a glass of wine after work as often as possible in October. 

Revel in upcoming events

I have some exciting plans for October - things I booked in months ago that are now almost upon me. It’s my birthday, I’m going to Soulfest and I’m spending a biennial weekend away with all the women in my family. I really connected to Laura Vanderkam’s post on how to make time slow down. This month I want to enjoy the moments I’ve been anticipating for so long and remember Laura’s quote:

“For the door does close, and eventually I will look back on all of this. Even happy moments bear in their shadows this melancholic reality. All moments, good or bad, are finite. All you can do is deepen your experience of them.”

September’s Light Links

And for those who enjoy my favourite links of the month, here they are for September.

Some measures to help you get to your higher self

It is 100% worth getting organised Friday afternoon for the week ahead: 

A fascinating article on intuitive eating and the intrinsic need to control

Anyone else struggle with being an adult some days

And finally, don’t forget to let go of perfection. 

How To Get That Holiday Feeling In Everyday Life

As I mentioned here, I took a week off work last week and headed to warmer climes. Around the same time last year, I did a post on how I was trying to capture that holiday feeling in everyday life.

One of the days last week I was by myself. I wanted to capture here how I spent the day and remind myself to do it again.

It was one of those rare days where you fall into bed at night with opposing feelings of exhaustion and rejuvenation.

You can all hold me accountable to this, but I want some of my weekend days to follow the below formula. It’s easy to forget to take care of ourselves and do the activities that actually expand, rather than deplete, our energy.

Wake up on your own time

Enough said about this one really. There’s something rare and special about waking up sans alarm and reading in bed, or just lying there staring at the ceiling.

When life offers this option up (and I know it can be rare!), take it and luxuriate in it.

Move your body

I’m still not a regular morning exerciser but can really see the benefit of getting it done early in the day.

You’re less likely to put it off, you feel a sense of accomplishment and it often helps to wake us up and propel us on with the rest of our day.

As holidays can be indulgent, it felt great to do weights at the hotel gym during the morning. I almost jumped on the treadmill too, then realised I was planning on walking around the city most of the day, so canned that idea in favour of the outside world!

Include some culture

My theory is if you’re missing that travelling feeling, head to a gallery or museum. I get a distinct feeling over me when I walk around a venue like this, that I could be anywhere in the world.

I did spend a year living overseas and frequented galleries and museums in a lot of cities, but I’m pretty sure it’s a universal feeling for many people.

The Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA) in Brisbane was airy, quiet and gave me that worldly feeling all over again.

Enjoy a slow meal

Meals are such an important time for relaxing. Take your time ordering, think about how you want to feel after the meal and try and grab a good view for people or landscape watching if you can.

And I wanted to feel like I’d had a beer, so I had one!

Take some quiet time

I chose a spa to enjoy my quiet time. I know having a spa is not always possible in everyday life, but the concept of relaxing and resting after a day out usually is.

I was umming and ahhing about heading down to the spa alone but as soon as I got there I felt much more relaxed. I read my book, eased my muscles after a day out - it was perfect.

Escape via fiction or music

My default when I have ‘spare time’ is to start scrolling through my phone. Checking social media and, more frequently, clicking on self-help-style blog posts usually leads me down the rabbit hole to new books, courses and theories I could be learning about.

The internet pulls us in many mental directions, so I’ve been trying to use my spare time to either read some fiction, or put on a great playlist.

I still get the enjoyment and entertainment I’m after, but it’s more relaxing than filling my brain with self development (read: ‘you’re not good enough’) ideas.

Catch up with friends

Another no brainer I think. Good conversation and spending time with people we care about fills us up emotionally more than any other activity.

If you’re in a slump or even after a relaxing day, call a friend or family member up and relish in the quality time together.

What do you do on holidays that you neglect to do in everyday life?

 

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?

The Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up: Book Edition

So there’s been declutter radio silence around here since I overhauled my closet after reading The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up. I felt a sense of momentum at the time but thanks to some busier weekends and internal resistance to moving on to the next stage (books), I evaded and side-stepped the decluttering plan until last week.

On a rainy Thursday night, armed with a glass of wine, a bad ‘80s Spotify playlist and an ever inquisitive kitten, I edged towards our bookshelves.

The games begin. Pickles the kitten was thrilled with the extra hiding spots.

The games begin. Pickles the kitten was thrilled with the extra hiding spots.

Why did I resist?

  • To my family, books are uber important. I grew up around bulging bookshelves and due to never wanting for something to read, proceeded to read like crazy. I’ve always wanted my home to be full of books also.
  • I worked in book publishing for six years. Amongst co-workers and friends, literature collections were frequently discussed and often given the highest importance. I also received huge discounts and a heap of free books, so building my collection of classics and new books was easy.
The donate pile. Sorry Slash.

The donate pile. Sorry Slash.

The process

  • Take all books off the shelves and place them in the middle of the floor
  • As per the clothing exercise, find every book you own in your home. Every book.
  • Pick up each book and ask ‘Does it give me a thrill of pleasure when I touch it?’ If not, discard or donate.

Additional notes from the author

  • Do not start reading the books. This one was tough for me but I resisted…
  • You will re-read very few books in your time.
  • Ignore the notion that you may read it ’sometime’ - sometime never comes. You've missed the window once you’ve brought the book into your home and not read it.
  • Keep a hall of fame of books - the books you reread every year and the ones you want to read right now (but may be decluttered later).
Pickles could sense I needed a break halfway through.

Pickles could sense I needed a break halfway through.

Findings

  • I didn't totally agree with the instructions. There are a number of books I haven’t read but I do know I’ll paw through eventually - maybe only when on holiday, maybe when I retire (!), but I do want to keep them and read them.
  • I accepted every offer of a freebie for way too long - this spills across into most aspects of my life. Freebies seem amazing at the time, but in reality you usually take items you don’t actually need. I’ve noticed in the last year or two that 9 times out of 10 I say no to giveaways and perks.
  • I married the right guy - like I needed another reason to confirm this. Around 10 of the books I pulled out, I realised we had duplicates of. We read the same stuff.
  • I hold on to certain ideas or times of life - similarly to the clothing overhaul, as I touched each book, I felt some past emotions. Some related to times of my life when I was reading certain styles of writing. Some around books I bought on recommendations from a number of people but that never worked for me. It feels good to let these notions go, and to remind yourself that you’re becoming more and more of the true person you’re meant to be.
And the 'keep' pile.

And the 'keep' pile.

Next up in The Life-Changing Magic Of Tidying Up? Miscellaneous papers! Can you guess I’ll be avoiding this one too?

Like this post? Let me know in the comments below.