What I Learned From Logging My Time For A Week

I’ve talked about Laura Vanderkam many times on the blog - she is a time management author, who interviews and gathers time log data from a variety of people.

Her message is to essentially prove to us that we have more time than we think.

I agree with her concept, but when my brain starts to feel overwhelmed, I’m always pretty adamant I’m too tight on time and can spin out over that.

After recently reading her book Off the Clock: Feel Less Busy While Getting More Done, I decided to follow her suggestion and keep a time log for a week. You can download her time log spreadsheet through her subscription form here.

I actually tracked my time almost 4 years ago to the day (you can time travel back and read that post here if you like).

And … yeah, I was worried about spending 2 ½ hours a day on the internet back in 2014 … let’s just say we’re closer to 5 hours now.

I’m going to blame maternity leave and will be working to reduce that for sure. Especially now the new iOS tells you how many times a day you pick up your phone (go and look in your settings - I was shocked!)

So, I tracked my time in 30 minute increments for a week (she also offers a 15 minute increment option but that was a little too intense for me), and here’s what I learned:

Tasks don’t take as long as I think they do

I noticed how little time things take in a number of ares of my life.

I am kinda hamstrung by baby nap times at the moment so once she goes to sleep, I’ll relax for ten minutes or so, then shower, put laundry on, etc.

What I noticed when I was logging my 30 minutes was… I was doing a lot in that 30 minutes.

Like all of those things! I thought I needed loads of time to get them done but in fact, I could relax, shower and put the laundry on and be back to a cup of coffee within half an hour.

Something I lament over is how long it takes to cook dinner - again, not that long… usually less than half an hour for most of my recipes.

And one more hilarious observation for the road…

I kind of loathe straightening my hair. Well guess what? It takes me 6 minutes to straighten my hair. I probably whinge in my mind for longer than 6 minutes about doing it! No longer…

I get enough sleep

Sadly I don’t get the 10+ hours I probably used to get on weekends pre-baby, but after filling up all those 30 minute cells with sleep overnight and into the morning, I am actually getting enough sleep. I get at least 6 hours and mostly 7.5 hours. So although

I feel within my rights to feel a bit tired day to day, it’s nothing to stress over.

I read a lot

I love having the Kindle app on my iPad (go and download some free Amazon sample chapters now!) but I never felt like I was reading enough.

Not only did I realise I read quite a lot (...like sometimes up to 2 hours a day) but tracking my time encouraged me to read more.

Writing ‘reading my phone’ in the 30 minute block wasn’t quite as inspiring as actually reading a book and logging that.

I exercise more than I think I do

I haven’t tracked my exercise in a long time so usually just decide day to day what I feel like doing.

Once I tracked my week as part of the challenge, I realised I was working out more than I thought and the variety was broader than I expected.

Baby and I go walking a lot but I also do a mix of weights, pilates, yoga and barre at home.

And again, my brain often spins out about exercise - telling me I don’t have the time. But once I realise it only takes one 30 minute slot in the spreadsheet (or maximum two) in the scheme of my day I can usually fit it in.

I unwind with TV and movies (when I say I don’t)

In this era of binge watching shows on Netflix/whatever streaming service you’re into, I am often left quiet in conversations as friends and coworkers discuss the latest trending series and how many episodes they powered through on the weekend.

I have a bit of a complex about spending too many hours watching TV so often don’t watch many shows.

When I tracked my time, I found I was watching something each day, usually in the evening, but again kinda decided on the spot.

I started a new series (Younger - 6 years late to the party), am still working through the latest season of The Handmaid’s Tale and watched an Amy Winehouse documentary.

So the story I was telling myself wasn’t so accurate - I am watching things that interest me each week.

Conclusion: (as Laura predicted) I have more time than I think!

Have you ever tracked your time? Is it something you would try?

How To Stop Being A Technology Junkie

books-tech-free-where-light-plays.jpg

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?

September Recap and a break from Monthly Intentions

Welcome to October! (aka my birthday month!)

Q4 of 2017 is here and I’m ready to see the year out with a bang... despite the blog post title.

September felt a big sluggish for me - there was lots of rain around and some of those nights on the couch I wrote about last post. But thanks to Brooke Castillo’s September Self Coaching Scholars topic of ‘How to get it done’, I still managed to get a lot done!

So let’s look back at the month and talk about the plan for Q4.

September Recap

Start regular Pilates practice

This one went really well for me. The practise of paying for and booking classes ahead of time has been a big motivator for me, rather than having a gym membership where no one minds or notices if I don’t turn up.

If you’re struggling with consistent exercise, I’d recommend booking and paying for classes ahead of time to help you get there.

I’ve been going twice a week and it’s been great for my office desk body in terms of both strength and flexibility.

I’m booked in for another fortnight’s worth of classes so will see if I continue beyond that, but I think the answer will be yes.

Tackle life admin

life-admin-september-recap.JPG

So much life admin for me at the moment! Sadly I forgot all about my tax return until I re-read last month’s post (oops), so will get on to that in October.

I did follow Brooke’s method of writing a big list of what needed doing and putting it in my calendar. I got around 80% done I’d say, and the rest of the time my brain talked me out of it.

I’m not feeling too bad about that though, since I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have even gotten that 80% done without this intention.

Q4 plans

I’m planning on being pretty busy with work, coaching, Self Coaching Scholars and life in general for the rest of the year so won’t be setting any specific monthly intentions here on the blog.

I am going to focus on blogging about the topics you readers like the most - time management, routine ideas, good old imposter syndrome and relaxation.

Let me know in the comments below if I’ve missed any topics you’d like to hear more about in late 2017.

Otherwise, have a fabulous October!

How To Actually Get Things Done

We’re crazy for productivity right?

Many of us are carting around our to do lists in our phones, in notebooks, in our brains.

The satisfying tick of an item off our to do list gives us the rush we were looking for, but sometimes the list seems to outweigh the time and energy we have right?

Not necessarily true.

Often the time we spend thinking about our to do list or procrastinating on it, could actually be spent getting things done.

So what’s the best way to satisfy that time management urge and avoid the guilt of not getting through what we were planning to get done?

Put it in your calendar

Whether it be at the start of each week or longer term for a larger project, list out each task that needs doing, then pull your calendar out and actually schedule each one.

Writing a big long to do list at work for example, then getting to Friday afternoon realising you haven’t done 75% of it, is a sure sign you need to actually book things in.

Estimating how long each task will take is also super useful and helps spark our competitive side.

Only have 1 hour to write that report? Chances are you’ll get it done within the hour in a race against the clock.

Accept you probably won’t want to do it

Understanding this has pretty much changed my life.

Whether it’s the gym, cleaning or doing a large task at work - I have the best of intentions and when I get to the scheduled time, I think ‘hmm, nah…’.

Once I accepted I was often going to feel like that, I was able to just notice it and make a decision to press on anyway.

It’s a little cliched, but who has ever worked out, looked at their clean house or finally solved a major work problem and regretted it? I didn’t think so.

Accept that your mind is going to try and talk you out of getting things done, and keep going anyway.

Congratulate yourself

Something I’m quite hopeless at is actually pausing to celebrate when it’s called for.

I’m usually on to the next project or idea, when as I wrote here, if we don’t stop to acknowledge milestones, they’ll easily be forgotten.

Make a concerted effort to congratulate yourself in some way after a long week, a big work project ending or a home renovating job coming to an end.

This will make it all worth it and help you reflect back on the effort you’ve made.

Will you put your to do list in your calendar this week? Let me know how you go!

April Recap and May Intentions

Ah April, such a nice month for me. In Australia we have a number of public holidays in April, which meant two four-day weekends and plenty of down time, as intended!

For those of you new to the blog - welcome!

Each month I set intentions (not goals - thanks for the word, Jess Lively!) and then recap how I went.

It keeps me accountable (thanks readers!) and upholds the goal of this blog - that perfection isn’t possible, but little improvements are.

To take a trip down memory lane, head here to read previous months’ recaps and intentions.

Now let’s review April and see what’s ahead for May.

April Recap

Smash time management

As I mentioned, time management was the topic for Brooke Castillo’s Self Coaching Scholars in April and the theme of her podcast too, if you’d like to get some of her amazing content at no cost.

I did pretty well with this goal in April - I made sure I prioritised the day to day things that make me happy (exercise, meditation, spending time with family and friends) but also made time for my big goal - relaunching my website today!

I wrote out all the tasks I needed to get the website completed, estimated how long each would take, calendarised them and it worked!

If you’ve got something huge on your to do list or something you’ve been putting it off - try the same method and let me know how you go.

Embrace down time after a busy 6 months

Long weekends = mission accomplished.

Easter saw me indulging in a rare weekend of lazy brunches and lots of Netflix, while the following long weekend saw me go off the grid to the country with (gasp) no internet or phone reception. So good!

I of course realised how much I depend on my phone (and found myself searching for it out of habit a number of times on the trip, even though there was nothing I could do with it once I found it).

I also discovered that there wasn’t that much waiting for me when I got back to civilisation and my phone - no urgent messages, no hugely important social media updates that I’d missed ... which leads me to my May intentions.

May Intentions

Have tech free time on the weekends

After my long weekend offline, I’m keen to try this every weekend… but not all weekend of course - that’s way too scary!

I’m going to experiment with taking either a day, or two mornings or afternoons off my phone each weekend.

Recognising the insidious addiction many of us have to our phones doesn’t particularly stress me out, but I think it’s good to be aware and, in particular, try living in my life, rather than in my phone or the lives of others.

Which leads me to thinking about what I’m going to do with that time…

Start weekend hikes

Those who know me well know that I love to walk as much as possible. It clears my head, allows for great, relaxed conversation when I have company and is obviously pretty good for me too.

I’ve always walked the trail behind my house but have also many times over the years bookmarked links to great walks or hikes around Melbourne.

Each weekend, when time allows, I want to spend at least half a day doing a walk in a new area - and if I’m alone, I’m allowing myself to listen to podcasts on my phone, but no scrolling through social media!

--

What’s your plan for May? Do you have success with tech free time? Let me know below!

 

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!

 

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!

 

Segment Intending (aka trying to live in the moment)

As you guys know, I am a big fan of Jess Lively. I’ve followed her for over 5 years now, from her original blog, Makeunder My Life, through to her Life with Intention work and for the last couple of years, her fantastic podcast, The Lively Show.

In the past few months, Jess has started speaking quite a bit about the Law of Attraction and Abraham Hicks. Now, I never saw The Secret and am still not sure how much I believe in the Law of Attraction, but after Jess’ recommendation, I listened to the audio book on a 6 hour drive over the holiday season.

One useful concept I did take from the book was what Abraham calls segment intending. So what exactly is it and how can it help you?

What is segment intending?

Essentially to me, it means living in the moment or the activity you’re undertaking. Abraham defines it a little differently as setting your vibration and pre-paving your path before moving into an activity, but let’s go with my definition for now.

So if you’re getting up in the morning, having breakfast, taking a shower and getting ready, you go into that phase of the day aware of the activities and concentrating on each, one by one.

It may seem obvious but how often in the morning, instead of focusing on your routine, are you spinning out on your to do list, checking your email or social media, or already trying to think of what to have for dinner?

Why is it useful?

If we’re not conscious about the activities we’re undertaking, depending on how you’re built, you’ll often be living in the future, constantly thinking about what’s next on your list, or dwelling on the past, overthinking past conversations or worrying about something that happened yesterday.

Those simple morning activities may not seem that exciting day in, day out, but, let’s remember, you’re only going to get a certain number of mornings in this lifetime, so let’s not wish them away.

What if you concentrated on your breakfast, preparing it slowly, exactly how you like it, and enjoying it at your kitchen table, staring out at your garden?

What if you bought amazing scented shower gel and luxurious moisturiser and enjoyed your shower routine each morning?

What if you filled your closet with clothes you love wearing, picked out your outfit and accessories and shoes, and dressed feeling fantastic for the day ahead?

Suddenly your mundane, rushed morning routine doesn’t seem so bad right?

Where have I seen benefits?

As I’ve been more aware of segment intending in my life, I’ve mainly noticed benefits on my commute, at work and surprisingly, at the gym.

Commuting often seemed boring to me or (quite obviously) a means to an end (i.e. hurry up and get me there!).

Rather than wishing this time away, I’m much more relaxed in traffic or on a busy train, listening to my music, looking out the window and just being where I am at while travelling. I know I’ll be busier once the commute is over, so enjoy the down time.

At work, I’ve talked about getting easily distracted by email, chat and urgent requests.

I haven’t nailed this by any means yet, but I’m trying to just do one task at a time or work on one project at a time. I then try and let there be a specific time or times for checking emails and chats. Wish me luck continuing this one as it’s a toughie...

Last but not least, my visits to the gym have seemed much better and worthwhile since hearing about segment intending.

I do enjoy working out but was often rushing through exercises, keeping an eye on the clock so I could get out of the gym within a certain time and planning my dinner and to do list in my head for once I got home. Sounds pretty stressful right?

Now I still distract myself a little with music or podcasts (no one wants to focus that much while lifting weights) but I’m much calmer, working through each exercise, making sure I have all the equipment I need set up, and taking it easier on the clock watching.

I focus on what I’m listening to or the routine at hand and actually leave the gym feeling kinda rejuvenated and chilled now.

Can you work segment intending into your life this week? Even trying it for your morning routine, commute or work day will likely help. Let me know how you go in the comments below. 

 

Are You Working A 'Second Shift' Each Day?

My love for author and time management researcher Laura Vanderkam runs deep. I’ve read her book 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think and I avidly follow her blog and any articles she writes that pop up on publications like Fast Company and the New York Times.

Laura has stacks more books you should check out and I have no doubt you’ll appreciate her mix of real data and realism. She doesn’t buy into people bemoaning they have no time but also doesn’t want us to fill every second with productivity - pleasure and creating memories are just as important.

The 'Second Shift'

I didn’t realise how long I’d been following Laura until I sat down to write this post. In 2009, Laura introduced me to the concept of the “second shift”:

“Back in 1990, sociologist Arlie Hochschild coined the phrase "second shift" to describe the household labor married women did once they came home from their paying jobs.”

I’m sure many of you can relate - you rush in the door from work with your to-do list for the evening already swirling in your mind - dinner, kids, housework, your side business - whatever it is, it’s crucially important and you’ve got to get going on it as soon as you get in the door.

I talked through this concept with one of my amazing coaching clients recently. Although this work can be seen as important and can make us feel positive about our homes and lives, if we’re running from one shift to the next, there’s not a lot of time for pleasure or down time or even some semblance of calm in our days.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure many of us collapse in a heap on the couch or in bed at the end of the night and call that ‘down time’, but how would it feel to enter the second shift feeling rejuvenated and with some fresh motivation?

My evening routine almost always includes rest when I get home and I’d like you to try this out too.

The Challenge

This week, when you get home from your day out or enter the evening in general, I want you to take 30 minutes to 1 hour between your shifts.

Do something that brings you pleasure - read a magazine in the backyard with a glass of wine, do some yoga stretches - whatever it is, do it just for you.

If you have a busy family life that doesn’t allow for much alone time, read stories to your kids, or watch them play in the backyard while you get that wine and magazine time in.

The world won’t end if things run a little bit later each evening and I’m sure the memory of these times will far outweigh the to-do list.

Let me know in the comments below - what will you do between your shifts this week? 

 

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.

--

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?