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.

 

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?

 

5 Ways To Break Your Tech Addiction

Every person I speak to openly admits they are addicted to technology. Phone mostly, iPad often, Netflix more frequently.

We live in a world designed to keep us addicted - any question that pops into our mind can be immediately researched on the internet, notifications give us that little rush of dopamine we need and hours of binge watching TV series can keep us comfortably distanced from what we really want to do with our lives.

We know it ain’t good for us, so how can we begin to heal our technology addiction?

Keep a tech time log

Back in 2014 I kept a time log and discovered I was spending 2 ½ hours of my free time A DAY scrolling the internet. Terrifying right?

I’m much better now, but I’d encourage you to do the same - note down how often and for how long you’re reaching for your phone each day this week.

Don’t jump on first thing

If you start your day scrolling through feeds, checking emails and Googling, how do you think the rest of your day is going to go?

Will you feel centred, focused on your goals and productive? 

Or will you be distracted, a little scattered and focused on others’ needs all day?

I think we know the likely answer.

Try and start the day with something more useful to your development - read a book, do some meditation or light stretching, journal or go for a walk. Your phone will be there when you get back, I promise.

Schedule your scrolling

This is a tough one, I’ll admit. Our default mode when we have any spare moment (even when driving, as noted by Louis CK here) is to reach for our phones.

It’s hard to fill those in between moments with anything but our devices, but music, a useful podcast or some deep breathing will serve you better than constantly flicking through your social media apps.

After you’ve done your time log, try scheduling some time in the morning and evening for more focused use of your phone (and time).

Turn off notifications

My life would be so much worse if I hadn’t have done this years ago.

I’m still so astonished by how many people have every notification on in their phone and, more importantly, how often they look at those notifications while I’m talking to them.

Turn them off people, you can thank me later.

Use the red light at night

I’ve only started using this one in the last week or so and can’t wait to see the benefits to my sleep. Turning your phone to red light (the iPhone instructions are here) makes your brain think it’s night time and helps us fall asleep more quickly.

If you’re finding it hard to cut out bedtime phone usage all together, this could be the tip for you.

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Are you brave enough to keep a tech time log? What ideas will you implement in your life this week to break your tech addiction?

My Most Embarrassing Technology Sins

You don’t have to look far these days to find an article full of recommendations about ‘switching off’, staying present, connecting with people in real life, reading ‘real’ books, and so on, and so on.

I have no qualms admitting I’m addicted to my phone (and, let’s be serious, my iPad too).

But I still go out for dinner with friends, I still read ‘real’ books (not as much as I scroll my feeds, but hey) and I don’t own an Apple Watch.

Today, to make us all feel a little better, I thought I’d repent on everyone’s behalf —  here are my current worst technology sins, warts and all.

I check my phone before I get out of bed

Yes, it’s true. I used to avoid doing this, but these days, I can’t fight the feeling.

And the first thing I do when I wake up is feed my cats in Neko Atsume. Yes, it’s true. I love video games and I love cats so there you have it. Sin one down.

I cut my finger and suffered through the phone-holding pain

A couple of weeks back I managed to slice my finger while cooking, right in the crook of my index finger, where you apparently hold your smartphone.

Every time I held my phone it hurt — the leaning of the phone against the skin, the bending of my finger, everything really.

But do you think I stopped checking my phone? No way.

I ignore people at lunch so I can read my phone

I don’t do this every day, but if I’m having a particularly busy morning, I do like to escape to the work kitchen, eat my lunch and zone out on Instagram.

Sometimes this involves rudely ignoring a co-worker who’s trying to strike up a conversation with me.

I know that makes me a bad person, but sometimes I just need my fix.

I fall asleep to YouTube videos

In line with my zen way of waking up in the morning, over the last few weeks I’ve found myself depending on YouTube vlogs to put me to sleep.

I guess this is the same as watching TV in bed (also a no-no I’m sure) but it does feels wrong, particularly when you wake to find the iPad tipped onto your arm in the middle of the night. Whoops.

Anyway, my favourites are Vivianna Does Makeup and The Lindquists. Enjoy!

Ok, now that my shame is out in the open, tell me — what are your worst, most deplorable technology sins? Please share below!

 

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?

Light Links: July

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Welcome to the monthly round up of my favourite links. I have to say I’ve been laying low this month as the weather has been pretty grim here in Melbourne - leaving more time for me to find great links for you to enjoy.

Despite many quiet evenings, I have also been spending a lot of time with friends and family.

I often forget how much relationships fill you up in between a busy work and home schedule.

And of course I had a fabulous time with the visitor I mentioned in this post. I hope you’re spending time with people who matter, and can also take some downtime to read through and get some take aways from these links:

I’m pretty much obsessed with the concept of intuitive eating lately. Here’s the basics. Could you make this mindset shift?

How many days a week do you take 8 hours for play? That’s the premise of work life balance.

I’m not too sure I have a good relationship with my smartphone but this article got me thinking about ways I could be more mindful. I’m good at #5, #10 and #13, but pretty awful with #12 and #22.

My husband is on holiday at the moment so I’m living vicariously through him by reading articles like this and this.

And for the parents out there. It doesn’t sound confusing at all…

Alissa Vitti has been popping up in my feeds a lot over the last few weeks. Jess Lively interviewed her last week about hormones and the power of your period. Very interesting stuff.


What stood out to you on the internet this month? Let me know in the comments below.