Why new hacks don’t always work
I’m the first to raise my hand and say that I love reading about hacks.
Whether it’s for home, or my writing or business, anything that makes me smarter, work less hard and get more done gets a big tick from me.
But I don’t implement these hacks anymore. Two years earlier, I decided to stop and do more of what worked well for me.
The old me…
At the beginning of every new year, I used to make new year resolutions for work and life.
Like the rest of the population, I had a long list of resolutions that I wanted to achieve in the new year.
By February, I had failed and let go of half of those items, and by mid-year that list was nowhere to be found. I got sidetracked or moved on to other things.
So two years ago, I decided why not focus on what did work for me and doing more of that every day instead of changing things up every year?
Why did this help?
- Simplified my life – I wasn’t trying different things and then giving up when they didn’t suit me. It reduced my mental to-do list and by association the guilt that came from not being able to stick to it
- I didn’t follow what others said worked for them. Instead, I knew what worked for me and stuck to it. And found it easy to stick to which meant I got results
- I increased focus on what mattered to me, not what was in vogue or worked for others
So, I created three different routines for my business, health and creativity.
Underneath each area, I chose to do those things I enjoyed, not what I felt forced to do or felt that I had to do.
My health routine
One thing I’ve learnt since becoming self-employed is that if I don’t focus on my health, nothing else works or matters.
As a busy mum-of-two, I need to have enough energy left over after work to look after kids, help with school, extracurricular activities and all the rest of the things many parents juggle.
Following a massive burnout in 2019, after moving overseas to Kenya for a few months, juggling work, homeschooling and additional family responsibilities, I decided to put health at the top of my to-do list every day.
Coincidentally a few months later, I wrote website copy for a yoga teacher and Ayurveda consultant. After having tried every diet and exercise regime to lose weight, I decided to get an Ayurveda consultation done and I hit gold!
It completely changed my life and helped me reset my health after burnout and lose weight.
Most importantly, I found it easy to follow and incorporate into my life.
Over a year and a half later, I’m still following the same routine (which is monumental for someone like me who likes variety):
Some of the things I do are:
- waking up before sunrise (despite always thinking I wasn’t a morning person, this changed my life and energy levels)
- oil pulling and tongue cleaning
- yoga or stretching if I’m short of time
- a glass of warm water
- light breakfast + reading something positive
- morning walk x 4 times a week/workout with my PT
- work with as few distractions as possible, prioritising three things for the day
- good-sized lunch and my last cuppa for the day – if I want to eat something sweet, it happens at this time
- work followed by school pickups
- healthy snack around 4 pm
- an hour’s rest or lie in bed watching my favourite show or reading a book
- light dinner at 6.30 pm
- lots of water in between
- devices off and silent by 8 pm
- in bed by 9 pm with a good book
- asleep by 10 pm
By going to bed at 10 pm, I drastically improved my energy levels, reduced sugar cravings and focus during the day. No more staying up unnecessarily or late-night TV. This change alone improved everything including my moods.
My business routine
I’ve been working from home for over 9 years now. While I can be super productive, I also know how easily distractions can chew up work time.
I start my workday writing down the three things I need to achieve with the most important task listed first. I try and complete it, so for most content work, it means getting it to a first draft. I leave it aside for editing the next morning and then move on to Item #2.
I can’t do any more than three things in a day especially when I’m writing a lot. So, projects get broken down into different parts and I schedule lighter tasks for afternoons and heavy, thinking tasks for the morning.
As for housework? It happens during my lunch break. I take about 15 minutes to do one or two big chores – like laundry, dusting or vacuuming. Otherwise, they get done on Saturdays.
I avoid multitasking when I’m writing because it makes me less effective. Afternoons are reserved for my novel writing, admin or business blogging. The words often flow nicely because there’s no pressure to meet deadlines.
Boosting my creativity routine
My creative tank gets filled when I fill it up with the right materials.
So, I pick and choose very carefully when it comes time to read books, watch a show or listen to podcasts. As much as I’d love to read and consume everything, it’s not possible.
So if a book doesn’t grab me, I will read a chapter or two and then move on. Same with a TV show (one or two episodes).
I avoid decision fatigue every day, so I plan from the night before what I’ll wear, what to eat for lunch and what to cook for dinner.
I’ve also set a timer on worrying. If there’s something that’s worrying me, I think about it for 5-10 minutes only. Once my timer runs out, I get back to what I need to do.
This stops me from becoming anxious and avoids procrastination and panic. Before using this strategy, I used to waste hours thinking ‘What if?’. Now it’s only for five minutes.
By focusing on what was really important to me and repeating what works well for me, I drastically increased my health and wellness rating, life satisfaction and feelings of happiness.
I would encourage you to look closely at what you do, what’s working well for you (keep doing that) and remove what’s not working. Identify the three areas of your life that you want to stabilise and get them working like a well-oiled machine.
The rest will fall into place. I promise.