Sunday, July 26, 2015

BreakFree vs Moment

I know a few of my friends have downloaded the BreakFree app I talked about, and at least two ran into issues that may be because the app works differently on iPhone. I heard about the app from the Bored & Brilliant program, and they have a different recommendation for iPhone users: it's called Moment. So if you want to try this along with me but you have an iPhone, probably go with that.

I have no idea how BreakFree works on iPhone, but on my Android phone, the way to schedule "do not disturb" time is under the "Tools" menu. I didn't do it right at first, and also accidentally turned on the do not disturb thing outside of the schedule, so for most of one day last week it was just on and blocking all my notifications. I turned that off, but I gotta say, it was rather wonderful to not be bothered by my phone for a while.

I also found a Do Not Disturb function built into my phone. For me it was under the Sound & Notifications menu under Settings; your mileage may vary. May be worth googling it if you don't want an app, or if the app is cumbersome.

I've been doing ok getting to bed less ridiculously late, which definitely feels like a direct result of not using my phone after 10:00 pm. I really have been sticking to that, and it's lovely.

Last night I did go to bed too late, BUT it was because I got a bug in my bonnet to CREATE, which happens to me from time to time, and I made not one but TWO bibs out of old Camp Nawakwa t-shirts! And today I'm making a basket on my sewing machine using heavy cotton clothesline and the zig-zag stitch, and it is working! I have had both these sewing projects in my brain for a while, so it feels great to actually DO them.

AND I cleaned off the fridge, and designated a box in which to save select pieces of PJ's art. It so far has 4 things in it, each labeled with its approximate creation date.

All the birth announcements and post cards and other pictures from the past 2+ years are going to go in this rope basket I'm making. I got that idea from my mom, who has a similar basket in her living room that PJ loves to look through. Seems like a great way to keep that stuff around without cluttering up the fridge. Plus we were really running out of room on the fridge!

What do you do with the kind of stuff that starts out living on your fridge when you run out of room? How about all those Christmas photo cards? I have a stack of those on my mantle that I still haven't pitched. Maybe I'll finally do that today too, and just keep a few in the same basket as the fridge stuff.

Thursday, July 23, 2015


As I was running (and walking...) yesterday for the first time in months, while listening to the second Freakonomics podcast on the economics of sleep (part 1 | part 2), I had an idea. This often happens while I'm running, and I pretty much never end up acting, because the motivational high of running doesn't last beyond the end of the run.
But then yesterday, another of my favorite podcasts, Note To Self, revisited their awesome Bored and Brilliant project with a new update: Bored and Brilliant Boot Camp. Just so happens, that fits right into my idea from yesterday's run. It felt like the universe was talking to me, and how often does that happen?
So I'm going to try to act on my idea, which is this: gradually but intentionally, put into practice some of the many, many ideas covered in so many of the podcasts I listen to every week.
These ideas are all at least indirectly related to self-improvement. The very first thing I'm going to implement is an earlier bed time coupled with a set period of no phone usage each day. This should theoretically get me some consistent time in bed each evening before going to sleep, and I am going to use that time on some days to journal here about how my life improvement attempts are going, and what effects I'm seeing, if any, from each new idea.
This sort of thing has been done before. Many, many, many, many times. And I have been extremely bad at keeping up with any sort of blogging or journaling in the past, even of the one-sentence-a-day variety. AND it's well known to be very difficult to truly change behavior in the long term without an acute event that forces change.

Nevertheless, I'm attempting to implement two attempts to change my behavior: whatever I decide to do first, plus regular posts on my long-neglected blog.
What I'm NOT doing is aiming for anything with any ambiguity. This will all be very clearly and explicitly stated. No "going to bed earlier" or "getting more sleep" or "losing weight"; no, this all needs to be very concrete.
To that end, the first thing I am implementing is no phone use from 10:00 pm to 8:00 am daily. This idea is directly from the Freakonomics sleep podcasts. I have already set this up, using a phone use tracking app called BreakFree (not sponsored; I found this thru the Bored and Brilliant project mentioned above). I'll still be able to make calls and send texts, but it will disable mobile data and wireless, and I will police myself to not do anything else between those hours unless absolutely necessary. I have also turned off most sound notifications all the time, so that I am less tempted to reach for my phone throughout the day.
My hope is that I'll naturally get to bed a bit earlier as a result of this first initiative. If not, I think the next thing I'll attempt is to be in bed by 11:00 pm every night, and move that up to 10:00 pm once I've managed to stick with 11:00 for a while.
I am keeping track of current and future implementation on the "Ideas" page, which you can also find in its own tab at the top of the blog.
I will not be setting a schedule to implement these ideas. I will do one until it feels comfortable enough that I think I can tackle something new and still maintain it, OR until I decide that it's not working for me and it's time to scrap it and try something new. If I start a new thing and a previous one starts to slip, I may put the new one on hold our at least delay adding any others until ALL behaviors I've decided to keep are I track.
I am never going to make "weight loss" or anything like that a goal, but better physical and mental health for myself and my family is, of course, the foremost broader goal of this project.
What I'm hoping to record here is how each idea is working, my struggles with implementing it, whether I'm seeing any changes as a result, if I was expecting these changes or not...and also just to get myself writing stuff down, because it's yet another thing that I think I may love doing if only I'd get in the habit of doing it.

What podcasts do you listen to and love? I like "idea" podcasts, like Note To Self, Freakonomics, Planet Money, and Radiolab; and "story" podcasts like This American Life, Serial (duh), Longest Shortest Time, The Moth, Invisibilia, and others. I've tried but never liked any of the more interview, talk-style podcasts where the host(s) just kind of talk to people about whatever. I prefer my podcasts curated and produced; I need a topic to keep my interest; I can't pat attention to people just talking to each other.

What ideas have you heard, no matter the source, and thought, "I should try that"? Why did that particular idea resonate with you?