Having returned from Singapore and Thailand, where I took a record-low number of snaps and only checked work emails a few times, I've begun to see that I achieved something over this trip that I should have kick-started and maintained a long time ago; time out from the business that was purely dedicated to me & my loved ones.
Running a business has incredible pros, but as I've learnt over the last couple of years, many cons as well. And if you don't constantly weigh the balance of both and safeguard yourself, those cons can take over.
For that reason, I'm sharing the little habits that I've been slowly feeding into my daily existence to change my life. Simple things that can be adopted or tried to give you control back over your day- whether you work for someone else or work for yourself - and help you have quality time with yourself, your family & friends. I'm still figuring out what works best for me so if you have any suggestions on what is working for you, we'd love to hear them!
01 | Digital Detox - But Not Necessarily the Kind Where you Abstain..
The anxiety around instagram finally caught up with me. For years it didn't bother me and I saw the platform as an incredible creative tool, but at some point I became aware that the scheduling, scrolling, analysing & checking was affecting me more than I'd realised.
Whilst I took an actual detox from certain apps and platforms which helped me break the cycle of being connected to my phone & apps, I found that the greatest benefit has come from changing the way I interact with my phone.
Implementing Screen Time Limits and Downtime. By going into Settings > Screen Time (on your iPhone), you are able to limit your access to apps, downtime periods and content restrictions. This is the perfect tool for anyone struggling with how much time they're spending on a particular app. I love that this tool tracks your progress too. I went from an average 10-12 hours a day to 2 - 3 hours of interacting with my phone on a daily average.
Go Greyscale. I've heard of this trick from a couple of sources now and it really is the perfect way to make your phone seem dull. By going into Settings > Accessibility > Display & Text Size > Colour Filters, you are able to change your display system to greyscale. Try being interested in Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook in black & white and you'll soon find they have lost their appeal.
Schedule your Do Not Disturb. One of my favourite tools is the 'Do Not Disturb' function found in Settings. From 10:30pm til 7:30am or whatever your ideal timing is, you can make it impossible for anyone to get through (other than your favourites). You can add your favourites by going through your contact list and adding them to your 'Favourites' group.
Replace your Phone with a Book. Having your phone within arms reach of waking up or going to sleep is a mistake and the first move towards a terrible habit forming. By charging your phone overnight (If it's on Do Not Disturb, nothing is going to happen on it) in another room or out of arms way and replacing it with a book on your bedside table, you're far more likely to spend your morning reading than scrolling. And if you're like me, that can result in a book a week!
02 | Exercise your Body, Exercise your Mind.
I can't tell you how hard I find this to maintain in my schedule. It should be easy. But I get bored with whatever I'm doing easily and have to work hard to keep myself engaged. So the key is to mix it up constantly. Or if you're more committed, throw yourself in the deep end and just keep on going. The 'busyness' of the day is something that we each struggle with individually, but I know that when I read for half an hour a day (or stretch my mind through a podcast, new experience etc.) and exercise for half an hour a day, that hour of power fuels the rest of my day to new heights. This isn't revolutionary information, but is a key way of moving your forward and onwards in your life; changing your inner self and changing your view on life.
03 | Look at your Priorities & Line Them up with your Week.
If family is your top priority, but it's getting 10% of your week, then a problem starts to occur. You start to feel like your life is not yours and that you're out of control. And believing that mentally is more damaging than being busy. So often we think we have to do things... that in fact we don't. We make a choice to do them - even if it's a little against our will. I've started to spend a few minutes at the beginning of each week looking at what is important to me, against what my week is looking like, and re-distributing plans and events to keep them aligned. It's also resulted in me having to say 'No' to invitations a lot more - and often without explanation. Sometimes this isn't always possible but it pays to be conscious of where your time is going.
04 | Habit-Stack your Way to Happiness.
There are some things we do in a day that seem non-negotiable. So non-negotiable you don't even think about doing them. Like brushing your teeth in the morning and night or putting on clothes before you leave the house. The best way I've found to bring new habits into your day, is to attach the new activity or action to a non-negotiable. You want to read more? Read a chapter of a book as soon as you wake up (because I'm assuming you sleep). You want to get stronger abs? Do 10 crunches after you brush your teeth. Before you know it, these little actions become habits and you're able to move them around your schedule but recognise they're a set part of your day.
05 | Allow Time to Play.
As adults, I think we lose a lot of the sense of 'play' we had as children. And it's detrimental to our work lives as well as our personal lives. 'Play' has almost become synonymous in our culture with drinking and partying, but the play I'm referring to is far more child-like. It's putting yourself back in your child's mind when everything was possible and nothing was stupid. Curious about something? Experiment with it. Feeling burnt out? Do something wild and silly. One of the best things I ever did at a work retreat, was dance around in the dark with a blindfold on (Thank you Owner's Collective!) and I can't even begin to tell you how that experience changed the way I brought play into my day. It's exhilarating and refreshing. Play doesn't require a lot of time, it just requires you to throw your ego and pride aside and indulge in something seemingly unproductive.
06 | Respect your Boundaries & Respect Others.
The last of these is to respect your boundaries & respect others. I'm the first one to admit that I am not great at this; if another person tells me that they need me, my boundaries quickly fall into a heap. However, I think the first step to respecting your boundaries, is respecting others. They don't work on the weekend? Then don't email them on the weekend. Write yourself a little note to email them Monday or schedule your email for Monday delivery. They've asked to be emailed about work? Then don't call, DM, WhatsApp or message them. Email them. Giving others the respect and space they've asked for will help you gain yours.
07 | Keep a Little Something Aside for Future You
"Present You" may not be able to get out of a busy & hectic schedule, so I recommend putting a little something aside daily for "Future You." Whether this is a token amount of money that you put aside for a holiday or a project you're looking forward to, this daily or weekly habit will help you change your mental space and trajectory. For me, this was the act of voluntary Super contributions (Sexy I know! But it has really helped me feel like I'm building towards something) and a Raiz Investment account (I'm not endorsing this! Definitely do your own research and work out what works for you!) that rounds up my daily spendings and puts it towards investments. Whilst you might want to make yours far more exciting - aka. a holiday! - the simple act of putting a little aside each day for 'Future You' can change your mental space currently and your enjoyment levels later and is a really good way to implement the habit of saving.
Hopefully trialling and implementing some of these ideas will help you feel like you've carved out more personal space for yourself and in turn, removed some of the mental stress we create for ourselves in the way we live our lives. I'd love to hear about what works for you! You can email us at email@example.com or comment below!