On the day of Brexit triggering and all that jazz, I thought I would lighten up the mood a bit and share some of my recent "life hack" discoveries.
I'm actually pretty ambivalent towards that term, truth be told. A lot of advice around personal development/life hacking can be a bit onerous/repetitive. There's only so much mindfulness and meditation can achieve...
I'm also skeptical of the results some of these articles promise - "change your life completely in 5 minutes!"
Really? It's really than damn simple? So why the hell are we all struggling along when you, dear writer of said article, have all the answers to life's problems!
Anyway, I'll try and leave that rant for another day...
The "tips" below are neither groundbreaking or revolutionary, but they are real and things that I have actually found reasonably helpful when it comes to the daily trails of being a functional human.
They certainly won't change your life, but they might make it a teeny bit better (in a relativist sense!)
1. Waking up an hour earlier
You know that feeling where you wish there was more time in the day? You can make it happen.
By waking up an hour earlier, I have an extra unit of my time at my disposal. I use it to respond to emails, catch up on reading, take an extended breakfast or go to the gym.
This time is also protected, as most people aren't fully awake/at work - so I can catch up on tasks without interruption before I head into work.
I've also found that I'm in a much better mood when I get to work, as my morning hasn't felt rushed.
2. Going to bed an hour earlier
Now you may be thinking "hang on a minute there Bethan, you've just told me how I can create an hour of extra time, now you're telling me to undo my good work?!"
The important definition here is - "going to bed". By this I mean getting into bed, not necessarily going to sleep.
I now try and get into bed at least an hour before I want to fall asleep. I turn off all of my devices (usually!) and use this time to do a spot of reading or thinking. It's also a great time to have a chat with Des and catch up on what his day has been like.
3. Brushing my teeth with an electric toothbrush
Buying an electric toothbrush was probably the best health descision I have made all year.
We all have been there - you're brushing your teeth and you think "that will do" after what seems an enternity, but is in reality only 30 seconds or so.
The 2 minute timer on my ET forces me to stick it out, which in turn must surely lead to better dental health!
I have enough teeth nightmares (you know, the ones where they all get smashed and fall out) to know that teeth are very important to me.
4. Inbox Zero
I'm going to let you in on a little secret - emails really scare me.
When I was in the midst of my most anxious phase, the thought of opening my inbox was terrifying. What would I find? What if someone wanted something from me? What if I had to make a decision about something!?
I now have a policy that by the time I go to bed in an evening, my inbox must be dealt with. This means responding straight away to simple queries, or scheduling time in my calendar to deal with more complex tasks.
This sense of control means that I no longer fear the 'box and I'm also a lot quicker when getting back to people!
5. Wearing slippers
If you do not come home and put something soft and fluffy on your feet, you are missing out on one of the best things in life.
6. Not forcing myself to exercise when I feel crap
I used to have a pretty rigid exercise schedule. One day in the gym, one day off.
No matter what happened, I stuck to this religiously, even if I had a cold or felt seriously sore.
This unwillingness to go off schedule often meant I was working out when I felt crummy, which resulted in a sub-par workout, unsurprisingly... and just continued the cycle of crapness.
7. Not washing my hair everyday
Two reasons here:
a. I'm lazy and not washing my hair everyday is way less effort
b. Most people agree that washing your hair too much is bad for it.
I now try and do it every 2-3 days, topping up with dry shampoo if I'm feeling a bit greasy. As far as I'm aware, my hair doesn't look noticeably different and I've saved myself a lot of time!
8. Meal plans and proper shopping lists
Meal plans and shopping lists are efficient, both in terms of time and money.
After sitting down with Des for half an hour of planning, we breeze through the online shop and have also noticed that we waste a lot less food!
9. Trello'ing the shit out of things
Hello, my name is Bethan and I'm a Trello addict.
I have a board for everything - work, holiday ideas, food schedules (I'm pretty sure that I've written about this before!)
Having my life tasks separated and categorised has really helped me feel more in control of my to-do list.
It also means I can chunk tasks up into manageable actions, which for me has an added mental health benefit (nothing fuels anxiety like a huge undifferentiated wall of "you've gotta do this")
10. "I'm sorry, that's just not possible"
This phrase was shared with me by my lovely colleague Kim.
Sometimes there are things you just don't want to do, for a whole bunch of reasons and you just have to say no.
The radical thing about this phrase is that you're not giving a reason or an excuse - you're giving yourself permission to just say no without justification or further comment.
The reality is that you don't have to do anything you don't want to do, apart from taxes.
(I'm yet to try this phrase out with HMRC, I'll report back on how well *badly* that goes!)
You also don't have to explain yourself if you don't want to, people should respect a polite, but firm, no.