I’ve never been one to make new year’s resolutions, because I’ve always felt that such resolutions are meaningless unless I actually plan to make them happen.
There’s no point telling myself to ‘eat well’ if I don’t take the time out to work out what I currently eat, what I want to be eating, and then how I’m actually going to change my diet.
There’s no point saying I’ll ‘get fit’ if I don’t figure out when I can actually make time to exercise and what it is that I’m likely to commit to over a long period of time.
There’s no point scribbling ‘sleep more’ on a Post It note if I don’t plan when I’ll otherwise get stuff done – after all, it’s not like I can just lie down whenever I want, have a nap and forget about my responsibilities.
Since embarking on this life makeover, I’ve learnt that there are three sorts of changes:
1) Changes that you can make immediately by taking once-off action.
2) Changes that you can make immediately by changing your daily routine.
3) Changes that require a re-working of your entire schedule.
All of it requires determine and discipline. Why? Because bad habits are flipping hard to change. If they weren’t, we’d probably all be leading perfectly healthy and balanced lives.
But guess what? It’s going to be okay, because we’re in this together – remember?
In the next few weeks, I’m going to share with you what steps I’ve taken to address four things which I struggle the most with: exercising, sleeping earlier, eating healthily, and being distracted.
Let’s kick off with being distracted.
Honestly, being distracted is my achilles heel.
Here are my most common scenario:
Sit down at my desk to write a blog post. Write one sentence. Check in on Facebook. Spend five minutes there. Spend another ten minutes reading links from there. Spend another ten minutes reading more stuff. Start feeling insecure about what t I’m doing because everybody else seems to be doing so much more exciting and impressive stuff.
Sit down on the floor of our family room to enjoy some playtime with my boys. My iPhone buzzes from the table, indicating a new email has come in. I tell the boys to wait a minute, I go to my phone, check my email, realise it’s something totally insignificant and then return to my boys. That’s one minute of play time with my boys wasted. That’s too many minutes of time with my boys wasted over the course of a week, a month, a year.
My boys approach me to ask me a question (which is important to them), and I look up only half paying attention to them because I’m too busy scrolling through other people’s Instagram feeds and checking what likes and comments have appeared on mine.
Or what about getting ready to go to bed and I decide to ‘have a quick look at what’s happening on Facebook’ on my iPhone, notice that some friends of mine have gotten together without us, and then I spend the rest of the night feeling funny that we’ve been left out rather than cherishing the time with my husband…
Is this the type of person I want to be? Heck, no!
Distraction, while seemingly so harmless on the surface, can be so damaging and debilitating in the long-term.
The problem for me was that I’d become way too attached to the online world. Whenever I was near my computer, I would check Facebook. And then Bloglovin. Whenever I was on my iPhone, I would check Instagram. And my WordPress app. And my emails. And let’s not forget Facebook. (Again.)
Um – yes.
It was obvious to me that addressing this part of my life was not just a simple matter of telling myself to “Facebook less” or “be online less.”
After all, how do you Facebook less? Check emails less? Check Instagram less?
“Less” is so subjective. And are we talking a lot less? Or a bit less?
For me, I decided that I actually needed to rewire my brain and my actions.
Obviously, the rational side of me already knows that I don’t want the online world to consume so much of my time and attention.
But how do I actually stop myself from constantly reaching for my iPhone or clicking on the Facebook link from my computer?
This is where my notebook and pen came in.
I wrote a list of steps I could take immediately.
And then I wrote a list of habits I wanted to adopt on a daily basis.
And then, rather than imposing curfews on myself as to when I couldn’t check Facebook/Instagram/emails/etc, I decided to just incorporate into my daily routine (which I talked about here) as to when I would actually do those things.
Just as I only ever brushed my teeth in the mornings and evenings, I would have set times to check Facebook, Instagram, blogs, etc. This seems so simple in concept, but it’s actually a radical departure from my previous habit of just checking into social media all day long.
So here are the things that I did immediately:
- I deactivated the email accounts on my iPhone.
- I deleted the WordPress app from my iPhone.
- I deleted the Facebook app from my iPhone.
- I deleted the Facebook Page Manager app from my iPhone.
- I deleted the Facebook bookmark link on my browser.
Here are the habits that I’ve forced myself to adopt:
- Leaving my phone and laptop upstairs during my time with the boys in the morning.
- Turning off my phone in the evenings after the boys are in bed (ie. when I’m meant to be working).
- Leaving my phone out of the bedroom altogether.
- Logging out of Facebook on my computer during the day.
- Logging out of Instagram on my iPhone during the day.
- Minimising time spent on reading my personal Facebook newsfeed – if at all.
And my allocated time slot for checking Facebook and Instagram? It’s first thing in the morning before the boys are up, and in the evenings after the boys are in bed, up till about 9pm. This fits well with my work schedule, since I try to reply to blog comments in the mornings, and I usually publish my blog posts in the evenings around 8pm.
As for Bloglovin and emails, I’ve written down that I should only check these during the boys’ quiet time in the middle of the day.
How has all this been working out so far?
I’ve been really good at not checking Facebook during the day. Logging out of my account, and deleting the bookmark link from my browser has been extremely helpful because it makes it ‘harder’ to get to my newsfeed, and usually those few seconds are all I need to reiterate “No!” to myself. Likewise, logging out of Instagram has made a world of difference.
Also, minimising time scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed has done wonders. After all, why do I need to know what everybody else is doing (and thinking) all the time? Is my own life so empty that I need to fill it up with everybody else’s? Absolutely not. It sounds slightly strange to say this (and in a way, it’s sad that I’ve actually had to discover this), but honestly, by not knowing what everybody else is up to, I’ve been able to enjoy and value my own day-to-day life so much more.
As for the evenings, even though I say 9pm, sometimes it takes me longer to log off because it’s taken me longer than I expected to finish a blog post. Or for example, when I’m promoting a workshop, I might check in a couple more times (to both Facebook and Instagram) to see what response has come in. Still, I feel like this is just me trying to make excuses – after all, I don’t really have to see what the response has been that very night. Why can’t it wait till the next day? Of course it can!
So I think in the evenings, I need to work harder at being stricter with myself. Because what I’ve found is that once I’m a little flexible with myself, then it’s much easier to keep on being flexible.
It’s like eating that first bit of chocolate. You tell yourself it’s just going to be the one piece, but very soon, you find yourself reaching for the second one…
Plus, part of my bigger makeover plan is to teach my brain to switch off earlier so that I can sleep earlier. (But more about that in another post.)
As for my iPhone – we’ve definitely taken a step back in our relationship. We’re just acquaintances now. Nothing more.
By deactivating my email accounts, deleting my WordPress app, deleting my Facebook app, and logging out of Instagram during the day, I’ve pretty much returned my iPhone to just ‘phone’ status (albeit with internet surfing, GPS tracking and task management capabilities). Some of you might be wondering why I don’t just turn on the airplane mode. I’ve tried that. It didn’t work for me, because it was way too easy to turn airplane mode back off (especially with the latest OS, you just have to swipe once.)
Plus, with my new Fujifilm camera, I don’t even need to rely on my iPhone to capture every day moments.
As a result, I hardly notice my iPhone these days. It’s usually upstairs. Somewhere.
I am pretty stoked with that.
Because the last thing I want, is for the boys’ lasting impression of me to be this: “Mummy was always doing something on her iPhone…”
And that, ultimately, is the point of all this.
I want to be less distracted. And more present.
More present when I’m working.
Rather than being distracted and procrastinating.
More present in my work.
Rather than being distracted and feeling insecure about what I’m doing.
More present in my circumstances.
Rather than being distracted and feeling envious of others.
More present with my boys.
Rather than being distracted and not paying them the attention they need and deserve.
More present with my husband.
Rather than being distracted and not cherishing every spare minute that we have together…
Being distracted versus being present.
Let’s start swapping one for the other, shall we?
You can read my entire makeover series here.