As I sat down to write this article, I had to stop and sit still with myself, in order to identify the few things I felt needed to be addressed in the coming year. I’m not too fond of resolutions, as I find there’s no better time to change a habit than the present moment—and I feel like it’s always better to try to implement one change at a time, rather than trying to implement several new things at once.
So this exercise was more of a general reflection for me on my personal and professional goals for the next year and I want to share what came out of it with you, hoping that it inspires you to navigate towards your wildest dreams, too!
My first wish for 2023: use my smart phone differently.
Those who know me, know that I talk about it a lot, but this element is still present in my mind and I feel like it’s really time for me to take actions that are consistent with my way of thinking.
In 2022, I decided to turn off all notifications on my phone (both auditory and visual), so that I would no longer be constantly interrupted by BEEPS, PINGS and a flashing screen! I was convinced that being constantly distracted by my smartphone was hurting my productivity and had an impact on my ability to concentrate. I even started leaving my phone in another room at certain times so I could focus better.
One of my goals was to reduce the amount of time I spent refreshing my social media accounts and email inbox—especially since I had found that I was often doing this to fill a void, occupy my mind and fingers while waiting, to procrastinate, or even just to distract myself. What bothered me and still does is that this time spent refreshing the various apps on my phone certainly gives me a little rush, but doesn’t actually lead to anything positive, constructive, supportive or rewarding.
For the first few days, after turning off my notifications, I greatly reduced the number of times I checked my apps, but after a few days, my old habits returned—with the only difference being that now I was aware every time I refreshed my apps and it annoyed me.
I then discovered the SCREEN TIME option on my iphone and was surprised to learn that I didn’t spend that much time on social media, even though I know that I automatically go there quite frequently to check if there is anything new.
I thought about deleting everything from my phone except the GPS and the camera (yes, including email and social media), but having access to these apps gives me a lot of freedom (I can actually respond to urgent requests when I’m on the road) and some apps (like Instagram), don’t allow me to create stories on a daily basis, without having the app on my phone.
I don’t claim to have found the magic solution, but here are the things I plan to test to find a better balance and feel more in control when using my smartphone:
- Delete all the apps I don’t ABSOLUTELY need and can’t use on my computer, such as Pinterest, Facebook, Tik Tok, Netflix, LinkedIn and YouTube.
- Program time limits on certain apps, especially Instagram and email which I know I check multiple times a day. To start, I’ll put a maximum of 10 minutes per app, which will force me to stick to checking them twice a day—in the case of Instagram once in the morning to post my stories and once in the afternoon to respond to comments and messages—and in the case of my email, twice a day to respond to messages if I’m not home. Today, I did the test and having refreshed my emails more than 3–4 times, I’ve already used up my time allotment for the day… So I’ll have to be more vigilant!
- Take note of how I feel when I have the urge to check my email or Instagram feed—physically and mentally. I’m reading a very interesting book (The Craving Mind, by Judson Brewer and John Kabat-Zinn) right now about addictions and the impact of training yourself to practise mindfulness to help get rid of the habits you no longer want to have… I figure I’m not losing anything by taking note of how I feel and trying to figure out what motivates me to repeat these actions several times a day!
- Implement blackout periods where I can’t do anything on my phone except receive emergency messages or phone calls from certain people (in this case my sweetheart and my kids). I already had this in place, but I’ve increased the duration. It’s now from 8 p.m. until 7 a.m., which will prevent me from scrolling through Instagram while watching Netflix (I’m truly ashamed of this!)
I’m really hoping that these actions will get me closer to my wish to change the way I use my smartphone and that I’ll dedicate the time I save on more beneficial things, like taking several deep breaths or taking note of how I’m feeling through the day.
My second wish: listen to Netflix less
For years (yes, I’m ashamed of that too!), I’ve fallen asleep listening to Netflix. And often, after listening to more than one show… I went to check my viewing history on my account and I see that I listen to 2–3 shows every night, which equals about 2–3 hours a day… That’s almost 20 hours a week (insane, right?)
What shocks me with this information is that these are hours I could spend reading or sleeping… Which would surely impact my energy level and sleep quality.
I don’t sleep badly and, generally speaking, I manage to sleep about 7 hours a night during the week—and 8 or 9 on the weekends, which by my standards is pretty good (especially given the number of kids I have). And this Netflix habit doesn’t keep me from reading. I actually “read” quite a bit, since I listen to a lot of audiobooks while sewing, so I manage to “consume” a lot of books that interest me that way.
But despite that, I still feel deeply uncomfortable about “wasting” so many hours in front of a screen, watching what is clearly not quality content. I don’t think it’s necessary to cut out everything, but much like my sweetheart and I did with happy hour several months ago, I’d like to significantly reduce my consumption so that Netflix becomes an occasional pleasure and not the norm.
So my wish this year is to reduce my Netflix consumption from 7 days a week, to 2 days a week. And on the other days, to read, write, play a board game, draw, chat, or just go to bed. To do this (and because without a specific plan, it never works!), I plan to:
- Enlist my husband’s help, so we can cut down on our Netflix time together (he said yes!)
- Determine which days we will watch Netflix. Instinctively, I’d like to watch Netflix on Fridays and Saturdays, as I can afford to stay up later on those days—and no longer have pre-bedtime screen time during the week (i.e., Sunday through Thursday).
- Rent or buy mystery or romance novels—because during the day I read books about subjects that interest me and take me out of my comfort or teach me something—but at night I really just want to unwind.
With all of these elements put together, I’m pretty confident that I can make this wish come true and I’m really looking forward to getting enough perspective to see the impact of these changes.
My third wish: journal every day
I’ve been very interested in the benefits of journaling for a few months now, but I haven’t yet managed to make it a habit, although every time I do sit down and write, it makes me feel good.
This year, I would like to make it a regular practice, a real daily habit (at least during the week), and use this strategy to not only get out what’s in my head and in my heart, but also to have more perspective and to be able to better track my intentions, my successes and my goals.
Indeed, depending on how you decide to use it, keeping a journal can allow you to:
- be more grateful
- achieve goals
- track your progress
- get through difficult times
- increase your self-confidence
- find solutions to problems more easily
- be more aware of what you do, what you don’t do and the impact of your actions
- improve your communication skills
- reduce stress and anxiety
- help you learn from your mistakes
- develop your creativity
- put into words your emotions and feelings
- improve your memory (especially if your journal is kept by hand and not electronically!)
Isn’t that magical? All this, by devoting as little as 5 to 10 minutes a day to this activity.
And, because I know that without creating a small place for it in my routine, this wish will not come true, I plan to start my day by writing, every morning. After 3 weeks, if I don’t do it or life keeps taking over, I’ll try another time of the day, like in the afternoon when everyone is resting, or in the evening before I go to bed.
That’s it! These are my 3 wishes for the new year.
What are yours? And what are the ways you plan to achieve them? Share it all with me by commenting on this post!!!