When I was sitting down in the first few days of January to write my ‘Do More / Do Less List’, some of the top ‘Do More’ items were: read more, paint more, spend more quality time with my partner, learn a new skill, cultivate one new hobby, and (most importantly) take care of my health. These were all items that have been on my mind from the middle of last year when I really started thinking about what makes me happy but also what makes anyone happy really. What do we need as humans? We need love, we need to feel fulfilled, we need to feel that we are useful in some way. Or maybe that’s just me - but whatever let’s keep going.
I really wanted to zoom in on those needs and discover what physical actions I could do to satisfy them. I was really serious about this too. It wasn’t one of those mid-year crises when you realise half the year has passed and you haven’t done ANYTHING useful for yourself the entire year. You feel like you haven’t spent time cultivating yourself. You’ve only gone to work, ran errands, cooked dinner, walked the dog...i.e. you’ve only done what you had to do in your day to day. Not that much of what you wanted to do.
(Ok thinking back maybe it was that type of mid year crisis that initiated these thoughts. So be it.)
I started then taking note of what I wanted to do more of, and when I did those things on the random occasion I took note of how they made me feel. Happy? Fulfilled? Loved? If so they got written down in my mental notes as something I definitely should do more of in the future.
When January 2019 came and I brain-dumped my mental notes onto a physical page I started to see a trend of why I haven’t been doing any of more of these activities. And most of it was because of that lovely, beautiful, time-sucking, reality-warping app called Instagram. Oh my gosh do not get me wrong I absolutely love Instagram. I am a #instafreak. But let’s be honest - we ALL spend too much time on it.
So this is how it normally goes: you go on Instagram to reply to a DM (which you could’ve just done on Whatsapp but for some reason we are now all having conversations on Insta DM. When did that happen? I literally had two conversations with the same person on DM and Whatsapp at the exact same time the other day...#thisis2019) and then before you know it it’s 2 hours later and you’ve gone from Instagram to YouTube and back again without really registering what happened. It sounds crazy writing it down (and slightly embarrassing) but I take comfort in knowing that we ALL do this, even if you claim you don’t.
I also activated the new Screen Time function on my iPhone which shows you the amount of time you spend daily on every app on your phone, as well as how many times you unlock or pick up your device. After reading my data I was nauseated. You can’t believe how much time you spend on your phone. According to a study released last year, we now check our phone an average of every 12 minutes and we spend about 2 and a half hours online a day only through our phones (be that browsing, watching videos, or being on social apps). WHAT? Yes. It’s crazy.
So I decided right then and there - I need to cut my cellphone usage. I started looking at what time of day I was using Instagram the most and it was right before bed. Admittedly I loved going on Instagram in bed - I looked forward to climbing under the covers and scrolling through my feed (how sad that I actually looked forward to that! I mean, hello). Then I read up about how bad the light of a screen on your eyes is for your sleeping patterns (albeit quite a trendy topic right now - the most harm the blue light from your screen does at this moment is mess with your internal clock).
It was obvious what I needed to do. So, for the past few months I have plugged my phone into it’s charger in the kitchen at 9pm every night, and left it there. No touching it unless somebody calls. No answering Whatsapps or Insta DM’s. NO scrolling my news feed.
Let me tell you - I am a changed woman. After 9pm it’s officially me-time and family-time. It’s utter bliss. To be honest I did not think I would enjoy it THIS much. I feel liberated which is a strange thing to say, but it’s true. I’ve read 2 books per month (whereas I read 1 book a year normally), I’ve painted more than I ever have (and I’m not a painter. I actually can’t paint. I just make blobs on a page but I have fun), I’ve spent more quality time with my partner and had deep conversations like we used to do when we first started dating (because we all know that falls by the wayside when life happens). We’re also trying to minimize the Netflix time during the week too which has become a natural by-product from putting the phone away in the evenings! Win.
And I think the best thing of all - I SLEEP so much better. I’m usually asleep by 10pm and I wake up feeling rested and refreshed.
It has been the single best habit I have adopted in a really long time and I would urge anyone to do the same! I can’t put into words how much more calm I feel and how much it has impacted my life. The evenings are my oyster now! I look forward to them and don’t take them for granted anymore. They are precious and a time to be celebrated.
I definitely believe it has impacted my productivity during the day as well. I am more focussed on the task at hand, I don’t let work spill over into the evenings because I know that I won’t be doing any work after 9pm. I make more lists and tick them off. I really spend my time more wisely.
Try it this week. If you have an iPhone, you can set your Screen Time function to disable certain apps after a certain time - so my phone for example has been set to restrict all my social media apps and Safari from 9pm until 7am the next morning. It’s such a smart function because it just places that extra barrier for you to break if you want to open the app. You can open the app if you need to quickly check something - it doesn’t prohibit you - but it stops you from unnecessarily opening the apps.
Try it for 7 days and see how you feel. Let us know what you did and what your results were. We’d love to listen!
With love always,