5 Ways I Sabotage My Days

Between thought downloads, segment intending and working on sleepless nights, you can imagine I’ve got a lot of stuff rolling around in my head day to day.

I’ve been lucky enough to have a few readers contact me and tell me how wise I seem in these types of blog posts. I truly appreciate that feedback and obviously do work hard on myself and try and bring newly discovered concepts to you readers.

But the true and original purpose of this blog was to show that I am not perfect and that these are just concepts to help you feel a little better, not to live an impossibly perfect life.

So here’s a peek behind the (sometimes dusty, sometimes ripped) curtain of my life and 5 ways I sabotage my own day.

I check my phone during sleepless nights (and first thing in the morning)

Despite my wise mother and her tips, if I wake at 3am and can’t get back to sleep, instead of working on getting rid of my worries, I usually find myself scrolling through social media - not the best way to lull myself back to sleep.

Oh and despite having better habits in the past, I also start reading my phone as soon as I wake up in the morning...

I drink too much coffee

I have always prided myself on being a 'one coffee a day kinda gal' - sure, I definitely need that one coffee, but it’s manageable.

I work in a great area full of amazing cafes, but instead of buying one coffee on the way to work, I usually try and save money by making one at work. But then, by mid-morning, I fancy a break so go and buy one and then… usually after lunch I’m ready for another.

I know three coffees is not crazy but it’s triple where I used to be.

Maybe if I stop checking my phone at 3am I won’t be so tempted by the three coffees?!

I get distracted all day by email and chat

Sound familiar?

Some days are managed better than others but, in all honesty, whenever I start a task, I’m suddenly preoccupied by chats from coworkers or random emails from clients.

To state the obvious, this leads to barely focusing on a task longer than 10 minutes and then ending the day wondering what I’ve achieved.

Yes, communication is huge in a workplace but so is actually getting some work done.

Now that I’ve confessed this, I’m really going to work on it again.

I rarely stretch after exercise

My amazing trainer has always tried to instil stretching into my routine - and, although I want to be flexible, spending time stretching somewhat goes against what I think is important health and fitness wise.

He tells me that the most important thing in your regime is stretching, then what you eat, then working out.

He encourages me to stretch for at least 15-30 minutes a day (oh and lie on a foam roller 15 minutes a day too...) but, despite my best intentions, I usually pick a gym workout over stretching, promising myself I’ll do a big stretch at the end.

Instead I stretch for about 5 minutes and am out the door…

I know it’s going to help with my crunched-up office worker body and be particularly beneficial long term but I just do not prioritise it.

Any tips on how to prioritise stretching readers?

I eat when I’m not hungry

As I mentioned in this post, I have come a long way with intuitive eating and avoiding the lure of diets.

Most of the time I listen to my body, but for some reason after dinner, while doing some work or watching some TV, I’m still in the habit of looking for a snack.

I know my body doesn’t feel its best when I eat just before bed but I still find myself heading for the pantry for something to do.

My new strategy is to grab a tea, which usually helps, but heading for food is definitely a default mode for me.

What do you think of my sabotaging ways? How do you sabotage yourself day to day?

 

How I Finally Got Control Of My Inbox

If you readers are anything like me, you love to follow bloggers, vloggers, authors, all sorts of content creators and let’s not forget your favourite clothing and homewares stores.

With that following comes email subscriptions in the form of daily posts, weekly newsletters, sales emails, ecourses, free downloads and, subsequently, an overflowing inbox.

At the end of 2016, I was getting all sorts of ‘goal-setting for the new year’ emails, as well as reminders for all the online holiday sales and, with a busy work life and planning for my own holiday season, I was feeling quite ill every time I opened my inbox.

I had heard about unroll.me a few times but after chatting about it with Paige at Healthy Hits the Spot (who also uses it) she tipped me over the edge… and I haven’t looked back.

Step 1. Let them count how many subscriptions you have…

You sign up to the unroll.me service and they count how many subscriptions you have sent to your email address. I came in at a whopping 70 subscriptions. No wonder I was feeling ill.

Step 2. Unsubscribe

I then went through and ditched all the ones I either never read or never even knew I was subscribed to. Bye bye 32 subscriptions - and the sick feeling was starting to fade.

Step 3. Roll up!

This is the best part. You can roll your email subscriptions into a daily digest (or ‘rollup’) that you receive at a specific time of day (I get mine around 7am each morning).

You can then read all your emails in the same place at the same time. And more importantly you don’t have to open and read the ones you don’t have interest in that particularly day.

Step 4. Keep your favourites in your inbox

I do have some subscriptions I like to still receive as regular emails, either so I never miss them or because I like the format they come in, so you can opt to do that too.

Step 5. And breathe...

Let me know if you’ve found a way to manage your email subscriptions or if you try unroll.me, let me know what you think!

 

Best of Where the Light Plays 2016

Happy new year readers!

I sincerely hope it was a good one and you're looking forward to 2017. And, if it wasn't, or you're not, I hope you realise the construct of years is not such a big deal and you just keep going for today...

Looking back at the blog in 2016, I feel like I have learned a lot and am thankful to say, the posts full of those learnings were most popular with you readers.

From working on my negative thinking with Brooke Castillo's self coaching model, to continuing with intuitive eating (thanks Paige!), through to the eternal struggle of being super productive, while also making time for pleasure and relaxation - I'd say I've been working on it all. No wonder I needed this holiday break!

Enjoy revisiting your favourite posts below and thank you for coming by week after week to read my musings.

I truly love writing here and can't wait to connect with more of you in 2017. I'm taking a couple of weeks break, then will be back with more ideas for you to try out for the new year. 

I'd love to hear in the comments below or over on Facebook what posts you'd like to see in 2017.

Top 5 Posts on Where the Light Plays 2016

 

How I Manage My Email Inbox

I’ve had lots of requests to write time management posts here on the blog, and one of the biggest ways I manage my time is by managing my email.

I’m not perfect.

I’ve suffered that sinking feeling when you leave a meeting, only to see you have 32 new emails that weren’t there an hour ago.

I’ve woken at 5am and thought ‘I’ll just take a quick peek at what happened overnight’ then lay awake anxious about the day ahead.

But it’s all a mind game. You are in control of your reaction to email and you are in control of how you manage it.

These tips may not be ground-breaking but they’ve served me well as I’ve navigated through what we all have to navigate - a busy work and personal life.

Compartmentalise your day

The quickest way for me to leave work without having achieved anything is to sit on my email all day. As soon as I reply to one, the next comes in and I’m jumping all over the place, all day long.

I don’t have strict rules as to when I check email but I do make sure once I’m working on a task that I don’t flick back to my email client out of habit and lose focus.

Lately I’ve been trying to work on projects in time blocks or Pomodoros (a la the Productivity Planner). I work on the tasks, but I may also review and reply to emails related to that project specifically. This saves me feeling overwhelmed by the number of emails awaiting my response.

Acknowledge receipt

I work mostly with clients but I think this tip applies to coworkers and family and friends too.

A quick email to say you’ve received their note and will get back to them soon / tomorrow / next week will:

  1. Make them feel heard and let them know you’re onto it.
  2. Make you feel better as you’re not staring at a stack of unanswered emails feeling guilty.

File file file

Get emails out of your inbox. It’s so satisfying to file emails as they are dealt with and to watch that inbox number shrink.

I used to try and keep my email inbox to around 20 emails but unfortunately these days it’s more like 50.

Either way, pick a number to work towards to avoid your inbox spiraling out of your control.

Unsubscribe

Ah, the sweet pleasure of unsubscribe.

As we all go down the rabbit hole of news sites, blogs, digital product offerings and so on, it’s easy to hand over your email address in order to receive a freebie, a newsletter or regular updates from a site.

But sure enough within a month you’re deleting those emails without reading them or wondering how the hell you’re receiving them in the first place.

I have a few that I love to receive (I'm looking at you Jess Lively, Laura Vanderkam and Paige Schmidt) but most of the others just end up annoying me or adding to the feeling of overwhelm.

For me, every time I take a holiday I go through my emails and unsubscribe from all the stuff I’m not reading. Try it now!

How do you manage email? What’s your favourite tip I’ve given?

 

Five Ways I'm Failing At My Own Advice

 

Over the last few weeks, I've fallen off the wagon. Exercise has taken a back seat, my work stress levels have been ascending and the thought of meal prepping on a Sunday makes me want to lie down and take a wine-induced nap. But hey, that’s what this blog is about – being OK with where you are and taking it easy on yourself. It’s also about honesty and transparency, so today I present you with the five ways I've been failing at my own advice.

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Advice #1

When blogging about how to make the most of your commute, I offered catching up on emails on the train/tram/bus to really get you ahead for the work day.

Reality

I guess with this one I have been taking my own advice, but checking emails has been causing me more anxiety than is necessary. I’ll often see mail that I want to act on straight away but don’t have the right files available on my phone. Or I’ll see an email chain that’s taken place that I haven’t been able to chime in on, then start thinking about how I’ll word the email when I arrive in the office. Arriving at work flustered and stressed is not the aim, so for now I’m letting this activity go from my commute.

Fix

My work email is right next to my personal email so I've shifted it into a folder on my phone I never use (and is located on the last screen) so I can’t access it easily and I’m not tempted for a quick peek (this never works right?!). So far, so good, which makes me more relaxed on the commute.

Advice #2

Plan your work day ahead so you feel accomplished at the end of the day. Otherwise hours can slip away and you leave work feeling like you didn't achieve anything.

Reality

Um, totally failing at this one lately. I've been saying yes to a lot of meetings, putting out little fires everywhere and am glued to my email, rather than working on more important tasks.

Fix

I am totally guilty of this but I love to change the way I manage my to do list. Some weeks I like Outlook, some weeks I need to handwrite it and for the last few weeks I’ve been using Trello, a free online organiser. I freaking love it and I think it’s definitely made me more productive. I include all of my different projects or clients as lists, then add ‘cards’ for each task. I can add due dates, archive (so satisfying to move things off as you do them) and see that yes, I have a lot of tasks, but only some are actually urgent, not all.

Advice #3

Plan for a well-rounded week – allocate equal time to all the important areas of your life – career, relationship, friendships, family, leisure, hobbies.

Reality

Does coming home from work tired and watching House of Cards all night count as a well-rounded life? Yeah, the last month has not been great for this one. I've been letting exercise go, been zoning out in Instagram instead of talking to my husband and secretly feeling happy when plans with ‘semi-obligated-to-see-friends’ get cancelled so I can do nothing.

Fix

Turning this around is so important. Last week I made an effort to get to the gym two nights after work and I left with much more energy and motivation than I came in with. I've also been making sure to spend at least 10 minutes talking through our days with my husband in the evening, and have been going out with the friends that leave me feeling inspired and full. My mood and energy have definitely lifted.

Advice #4

Practise gratitude in the mornings – list five things in your head that you’re grateful for as soon as you wake up.

Reality

Or alternatively, pick up your iPhone, check your emails, hear the cat meowing for breakfast and before you know it you’re on your way to work.

Fix

Taking a few minutes at the start of the day is so important to me for setting up the rest of my day. When I start with positive thoughts, ease into the morning and do some yoga, I’m a much more relaxed human being. I feel less stressed, can plan my day better and am more zen all around. Time to get back to the morning routine.

Advice #5

It’s ok to feel negative emotions completely. When you’re spiralling with negative self talk, set aside time to feel it.

Reality

As with any new job, I've been suffering a little with imposter syndrome as I learn the ropes. I’ve also been focusing on plans for the year ahead (read: wishing I had more $$ to travel more and fulfil those plans) and sometimes I find myself in a real spiral. I push the negative emotions away and think ‘I should feel happy. I shouldn't feel like this’. And guess what? That doesn't work.

Fix

Read The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris. I've had so many epiphanies while reading this book, I haven’t even finished it yet as I want to give sufficient time for it all to sink in (he also recommends this – reading and practising the theories bit by bit). The crux of the book is a number of behavioural techniques from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Parts of it centre on allowing yourself to accept negative emotions and scenarios you dream up and accepting our thoughts for what they really are, just thoughts.

So although I’m revealing how I’m failing at my own advice, that’s really only a story I’ve made up. So here’s to accepting what is and making moves to get life back to where we’d like it to be – one non-judgemental step at a time.

To finish, a couple of great quotes from The Happiness Trap:

"The mind loves telling stories; in fact, it never stops. All day, every day, it tells you stories about who you are, what you’re like, what you should be doing with your life, what other people think of you, what’s wrong with the world, what will happen in the future, what went wrong in the past, and so on. It’s like a radio that never stops broadcasting."
"The bottom line is not whether a thought is positive or negative, true or false, pleasant or unpleasant, optimistic or pessimistic, but whether it helps you create a fulfilling life."

Have a great week lovely readers.