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?


  1. Hannah, this is an awesome start! Thanks for asking me to be friends on FB, I love photo of little Max grabbing his toe, and the shadow it creates. About your blog, i just need to tell you that this old granny had a life changing experience last year. One day it dawned on me that "My Body is the Temple of God". It was so vivid....and life changing. I try to think about what I put into my mouth....i have a long way to reading till 3 in the morning and not walking on a regular basis. Last night at VBS i was too stiff to do the shuffle with the wee ones. I do love to journal and have years of my writing packed away somewhere. I wanted to burn them, but my daughter said "No" Someday she is going to solve the mysteries of the brain and will need my journals. Well, that was years ago when she was in college. Grandchildren can't read cursive! So the journals are just for me. Peace, and keep healthy. (p.s. i never did this before, so will see what happens when i hit publish)

  2. This sounds excellent. I do need to start putting things down at night. I have the do not disturb set for 10-7, but if I'm using it that doesn't really work.