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?

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. 

March Recap and April Intentions

Bye bye Q1, hello cooler weather!

Welcome to April readers - how have the first few months of your year been? Mine feel like they’ve gone quickly, but I feel like I’ve done a lot in that time too.

My life coaching spots are now all booked out, which is fantastic - but click here if you want to jump on the waiting list for when my next coaching series spot is available.

For now let’s look back at March and ahead to April.

March Recap

Obsess a bit more over Brooke Castillo

It’s hard to express the full extent of my love for Brooke Castillo - she is truly my guru at the moment. Self Coaching Scholars is amazing and I love doing the thought work she recommends doing.

Sure it’s hard going but so, so worth it. I’m learning stacks about myself and my brain and I can’t recommend this course enough.

Prep to launch my new website

You heard it here first - I am launching my updated website on Monday, 1 May.

I have not done as much prep as I’d have liked to in March but have a weekend set aside in April to work on this with my masterminding buddy.

Wish me luck and I hope you like the updated site!

April Intentions

Smash time management

Ha, my intentions are clearly aligning with the work in Self Coaching Scholars.

This month is all about time management in the course, and who isn’t looking for better strategies here?

Between work, health and fitness, my social life and my life coaching business, I am a busy bee, so I’m excited to find out more about Brooke’s recommendations.

If you’re interested in time management, start with her podcast here.

My number one takeaway? Stop using the word busy (oops, I already have in this post). A tough one right?

Embrace down time after a full on 6 months

Work has been crrrraaazzzy (I didn’t say busy!) for me since last October, and it’s finally returning to a manageable level.

Although I love working hard and being busy, I’m enjoying this time to clean up all the work I’ve neglected over the last 6 months and spend more time with my coworkers and clients building relationships.

April is full of public holidays here in Australia so it’s nice timing that work isn’t too over the top.

Plus I can start to implement all those time management strategies I’m going to learn right?

What’s in store for you in April? I hope you have a fabulous month!

 

November Recap and December Intentions

A grey November morning with a surprise visitor...

A grey November morning with a surprise visitor...

Holy smokes, it truly is the end of 2016. Where is the hoverboard I was promised? 

I’m looking back on a productive but tumultuous year and participating in one of my favourite online programs - the Holiday Council with Molly Mahar from Stratejoy. More about that shortly.

November involved a busy time at work learning some new skills (I initially dreaded this but am now really enjoying it - who knew?), my first trip to a kinesiologist (would you be interested in hearing more? Let me know in the comments below) and, my personal favourite, some great catch ups and meaningful conversations with family and friends.

So let’s look back on my November intentions and set some final ones for the year.

Chill out

Uh, yeah, I did not succeed at this intention. My personal development tendencies are still going strong, however I did definitely cut back.

As I mentioned, I am doing the Holiday Council and have been chatting to the lovely Paige from Healthy Hits the Spot, however I’ve definitely reduced the number of self-help books and podcasts I’m dipping into.

Instead, I’m listening to more music (remember this song from Nelly? It's making me oddly happy at the moment) and more storytelling podcasts like Modern Love and Phoebe’s Fall. I’m also reading Helen Garner’s new book of essays, Everywhere I Look - her writing also makes me super happy. If you haven’t read her, I highly recommend.

December Intentions

Take stock

The Holiday Council is a 3 week program run through December, where you wrap up the year that was, and start planning for the year ahead.

My favourite parts of Holiday Council are:

  • the visualisation Molly does on one of the live calls where you go forward 12 months and see what your ‘future self’ is up to
  • the monthly planning of activities you want to complete throughout the next year
  • the quarterly review calls Molly does throughout the year - these are sometimes free so subscribe and keep an eye out!
  • choosing my word for the year - my word of 2016 was ‘Choice’ and I’m looking forward to choosing one for 2017.

Be present

Just like the year itself, the holiday period and the events that come with it will inevitably fly by.

I do love this time of year, so want to be present and enjoy the time I have with friends and family, in particular enjoying activities I don’t do as often throughout the rest of the year (swimming, water skiing, gorging on shortbread, peaches and nectarines).

Laura Vanderkam put it best in her ‘How to make time slow down’ newsletter from 2015:

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

 

The Genius of Brooke Castillo's Self Coaching Model

It's been a good few months for me and new discoveries. I spoke about my first encounter with Brené Brown here, and the other gem I've been wanting to share with you is the life coach Brooke Castillo

I discovered Brooke, as I do so many great authors and speakers, through The Lively Show, Jess Lively's podcast. Jess is a brilliant interviewer and always has fascinating guests on her show. I find lots of goodness through her podcast but rarely go too deep into the guest's work (remember my March intention to ditch too much personal development?). I only have so many hours in the day to read and listen, so I try to limit it to a few key people.

Well let's just say Brooke has taken over many of those hours. Her two interviews on The Lively Show (here and here) led me to Brooke's own podcast, The Life Coach School Podcast, which is full of so much goodness around managing thoughts, feelings and creating the life you want. 

Brooke's main principles are represented in the Self Coaching Model. Firstly I love the model because it, of course, implies you can do it for yourself. Secondly, it is genius and completely obvious and difficult and mind-blowing and crazy hard all at the same time. Let's take a look:

The model outlines the following (and excuse the dramatic examples but they're good to illustrate the cycle):

  • Circumstances are FACTS and everyone must agree on them being facts. e.g. I lost my job, I weigh X, I write this blog.
  • Thoughts are subjective and are what we create about our circumstances e.g. I am hopeless, I am overweight.
  • Feelings are vibrations (yes, just vibrations) in our body that result from our thoughts e.g. depression or guilt.
  • Actions are how we respond to our feelings e.g. I'm going to stay inside all day, I'm going to give up and eat a tub of ice cream.
  • Results therefore come from the preceding actions e.g. I remain unemployed, I gain more weight.

It may seem obvious but Brooke teaches that our thoughts really do create our reality and our thoughts are not necessarily the truth - they are just an interpretation of our circumstances.

As she said on The Lively Show,

“The world cannot cause our emotions. Our emotions are always caused by what we think.” 

Pretty amazing right?

So whatever situation you find yourself in - positive or negative - it is a result of the thoughts and therefore feelings and actions that you have created about a circumstance.

Brooke teaches that when we can learn to observe our thoughts, rather than take them as the absolute truth, we can really begin to create the day to day and ongoing life that we want - because we are in control. No one else. Awesome right?

I haven't nailed the model yet but am absolutely becoming more aware of my thoughts and feelings and how I get to choose my reactions to a circumstance.

...Now go and download Brooke's podcast and enjoy all the further goodness you'll get from it. 

Let me know your initial thoughts (pun intended) on the coaching model in the comments below. Are there any pressing areas of your life you can apply it to?

March Recap and April Intentions

Well, Q1 of 2016 is about done lovely readers.

It did go quickly but I take that in a good way - it means I was busy doing enjoyable things and not feeling bored or sluggish.

Let’s take a look at how I did with my March intentions and set one for April.

Enjoy the weather

I totally embraced this intention in March.

I sat in the backyard and watched our cat munch on grass, I walked along the river as the sun was setting and we ate dinner out on the balcony as often as possible.

Although the warm weather and light have been so enjoyable, the mornings are becoming darker and I’m ready for the clocks to change and the cool months to roll in.

But then again, my April intention may be swaying that position...

Less personal development

This was truly hard!

I had an inkling, but it’s totally been confirmed that I am addicted to podcasts and blogs with themes of self-discovery and personal development.

I found myself wanting to catch up on my regulars, and had to make a concerted effort not to.

In being mindful of not overloading my brain with too much ‘self-help’, I focused on podcasts with a wider variety of interviews and read some more light-hearted blogs and news sites.

April intentions

Embrace our trip fully

As I mentioned, maybe I’m handling the thought of cooler weather better because we’re about to escape it for a few weeks.

With our trip to South East Asia ahead, I’m excited to see new parts of the world and escape everyday routine for a while.

Enjoying the food, lazing on the beach and walking the streets (if I can learn how to navigate crossing the road in the bigger cities) are high on my list.

How has your March been? Let me know below!

 

Where I'm At with Shannon Ables from The Simply Luxurious Life

I am thrilled to be featuring Shannon Ables from The Simply Luxurious Life blog and The Simple Sophisticate podcast on Where The Light Plays today.

I've been following Shannon's blog since early 2012 and have felt like I've 'gotten to know her' even better this year through her podcast.

The Simply Luxurious Life really does cover all areas of life in a luxurious, yet attainable way - home, style, food, ways of being, the French lifestyle - to name a few. Shannon is a high school English teacher in Oregon, has had great success with her online career and even brought out a book, Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide in 2014.

Enjoy this peek into her daily routine, and I hope you'll enjoy following her online as much as I do.

What is your usual wake up time?

5am.

What is your morning ritual?

Because I find I am most awake, fresh and creative in the mornings, I don’t want to waste a moment in the morning sleeping in, so once I am awake, I am up and going.

I will wake up an extra hour early so that I can ease myself into the day and indulge in simple luxuries.

My breakfast is the same, but I crave it each day: steel oats with raisins, honey and roasted sliced almonds, one egg over-easy and hot water with lemon.

My dogs Oscar and Norman are at my feet all morning (which makes it even harder to walk out the door to my teaching job during the school year), so I bring a treat for each of them to the table, where I enjoy my breakfast while reading the local morning newspaper.

I always have Morning Joe on in the morning as well to stay abreast of the breaking national and international news as well.

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Tell us about your commute.

I feel fortunate to say I live less than a mile from my school, and when I’m not teaching, my commute is to my home office to blog, plan and tape my podcast.

Do you like to plan your day ahead or allow some spontaneity?

Planning is something I sincerely enjoy doing. I will plan my day, my week, the month, set yearly goals and 5–10 year goals for fun even if it wasn’t required.

I find it exhilarating to plan, check in and celebrate when I complete what I have set out to do.

The gift that planning gives me is that when I finish what I need to do, I can relax and just let my mind wander. I am always amazed at where it travels and what it comes up with when I give it this freedom.

How do you spend your ideal lunch break to recharge for the afternoon?

As a self-proclaimed introvert, I need my alone time, so during the school year I enjoy most days having lunch to myself. Sometimes I will join other colleagues, but because lunch is so quick and we have to be on in fewer than 40 minutes, I need time to recharge.

When I am blogging, I spend my lunch either at a cafe or in the kitchen creating something from scratch, then I’ll sit down and relax until I am ready to get busy again.

What kind of workout schedule do you try to adhere to?

Working out is not only something I know I need to do for my health, it is something I thoroughly enjoy; however, I am not someone who tortures themselves.

My dogs become jumping beans when they see me put on my workout clothes and grab their leash. So seeing their enthusiasm makes it easy to go for an hour-long hike 5–6 days a week.

Bend has endless trails right outside my door, so I feel as though I am in the wilderness in minutes, and can fortunately return home in minutes when the hike is complete.

I also sign up for one Pilates class at a local studio, as well as two twenty minute strength sessions at home, each week.

How do you like to end your day?

Something I have shared with my blog readers for years is my evening ritual.

I need time to unwind and usually give myself at least an hour no matter how late the work day has lasted.

So long as I haven’t indulged in dessert, I will pair my evening black lavender tea with a dark chocolate peanut butter truffle from my favourite chocolatier Arrowhead Chocolates. Since I have recently moved to a different town, I place my order every two months to be sure I always have these decadent, rewarding treats at the ready.

What time do you doze off?

I am an early bird because I enjoy my mornings so much, so it is not unusual for me to be in bed by 8:30 and asleep by nine.

DVR is my favourite everyday invention as I typically will watch my favourite shows the next evening at an hour that works with my schedule.

Any advice for women trying to find ease in their every day?

Find the courage to say “No”. The best gift I gave myself was recognising what I had to do, what I wanted to do and then letting go of all the rest without guilt.

We only get 24 hours in the day and each day builds upon the day before. Where do you want to take your life? Once you know the answer to that question, saying “No” becomes much easier.

Can you give my readers your quick go-to recipe after a busy day?

Absolutely! Part of my evening ritual upon returning home from work and having finished the walk with the dogs is stepping into the kitchen. It is such a therapeutic activity.

A typical evening will include some sort of vegetable dish and a protein. Sometimes I also have a slice of a baguette with cheese or dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

A simple, yet delicious vegetable side dish is a recipe from Julia Child. Her green beans: Boil the beans for 10 minutes in salted water until they become al dente. With a Japanese strainer, remove them from the water and place them in a hot skillet. Let the water steam off of them for about 30 seconds and then add 1-2 tablespoons of good unsalted butter. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, make sure the melted butter coats the beans (about 1 minute). Then add fresh lemon juice and leave the slice of lemon in the pan.

Voilà! You are done. The beans should be shiny and full of flavour, just waiting to be enjoyed.

Pair with Sole Meunière (click here for the recipe) and a glass of rosé. Bon appétit!

-

Thank you so much for being interviewed Shannon - you've inspired me to plan my days even more carefully and of course try your recipe (rosé and all!)

You can find Shannon at the links below and also click the video to gain more insight into the simply luxurious way of living.

Time Management Series: My Morning Routine

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So we’re all about ease here at Where The Light Plays, and I don’t want to be scheduling you to the hilt.

But how you spend the beginning of your day is extremely important.

It plays a major role in setting you up for the rest of your day. The activities you partake in can really affect your mood and it’s also a pretty spectacular time of day to take advantage of.

Let me take you through an average morning routine for me:

You can see my routine is not earth shattering - it takes a little over an hour, but it really does makes me feel grounded and ready to take on the day.

I’ve often thought to myself, that if I really wanted to, I could sleep in an extra 20 minutes and skip the meditation and yoga. But you know what? I never have.

Those activities work for me and that extra 'me time' could really help your morning routine and subsequent days too. If it’s not yoga and meditation, how about a walk around the block? Or reading a book for 20 minutes? Or even watching your favourite TV show?

This time will likely make you feel like you’re more in control of your day, and your day will therefore not control you.

How do you start your day? Do you claim any time for yourself before diving into the day?

Time Management Series: Make The Most Of Your Commute

 
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Ever get to about Thursday and wish you could add a few more days to the week?

Running out of time to get tasks done at work, adding to the running grocery list in your phone, hearing about another TV show/book/podcast/restaurant recommendation from a friend - the time struggle is real.

Where The Light Plays wants to help out. I’ll share a monthly time management post on how to claw some precious minutes back in the day. Today, we’re looking at the power of the commute. And if you work for yourself or from home, thank your lucky stars!

Audio books

This is one area I personally feel a fair amount of guilt. I have so many books I want to read - from classics to personal development titles, my bookshelves and Kindle are rammed with unread tomes.

Enter the audio book. Once you get over the number of hours it will take to listen to the book (up to 20+hours anyone?) plug your headphones in and get on with your commute.

I do find super detailed and in-depth books can be a little difficult to listen to via audio - we all have to focus to cross the road or step on the train, so sometimes I miss important details. But it’s a great way to get consuming literature. My favourite so far? Animal Farm by George Orwell.

And for those more detailed books? Stick your current read in your tote bag and you’ll be amazed how much you can get through either on your commute or while waiting at various points throughout the day.

Podcasts

I am a complete podcast junky. I know which days my favourite podcasts are coming out through the week and make sure they’re in my phone before I walk out the door in the morning. They are great when you’re commuting, if you walk at lunchtime (do it!) or even at the gym as a good distraction from the pain of lifting weights. My favourites are:

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Emails

In line with my discussion on eating frogs, getting into work and being consumed by email can leave you achieving very little of what you set out to complete for the day.

My solution when I know I’m drowning in email? Check them on the train - file those you don’t need to respond to, respond quickly to those that you can and flag any that need your attention, preferably later in the day. Then when you arrive, you can get straight on to your to do list for the day and know emails are somewhat taken care of. The theory of ignoring email until later in the day terrifies me so this is my happy medium.

Phone calls

Last year, I finally upgraded my first car. I was skyrocketed from the early ‘90s to the mid-’10s and the world of bluetooth. “Oooh” I hear you say. OK, I was a little behind.

I love it! When I’m driving to work, or to see a client, or to visit friends on the weekend, I make some phone calls. I know it’s not as common anymore but calling someone for a chat cuts through the social media and reams of text messages, and usually leaves me in a better mood.

How do you make the most of your commute?

And as part of the new series, in what area do you need the most time management help?