“Uncertainty is where things happen. It is where the opportunities – for success, for happiness, for really living – are waiting.”
– Oliver Burkeman in his book The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.
Get Tech-Free Time Before Bed
There’s a good chance you’ve heard the advice about not using electronic devices before bed. Hands up if you ignore the advice and do it anyway..? (✋Yep, we’re guilty too!)
So let’s delve into the science a bit more as a reminder of why this is so important.
Firstly, our circadian rhythms are designed to work in line with the sun. So when night falls, we should be in darkness. Spending our evenings basking in artificial bright lights can throw off our biological clocks.
Secondly, blue wavelengths are particularly disruptive at night. You’ve heard of melatonin, that sleep-regulating hormone? Well, blue light has been shown to suppress its production. Not what we want if we’re aiming for a good night’s sleep (which we are)!
And guess where you get an abundance of blue light? You got it: your phone and laptop screen.
Harvard Health recommends ditching the devices for at least two hours before bed. If that’s not doable, aim for an hour (or even half! Any screen-free time is better than none).
A few more things you can try:
- Use warm-colored lighting at night.
- Get plenty of natural light exposure during the day to help regulate your circadian rhythms.
- Make sure your phone’s night mode is set to come on automatically (this changes the color temperature of your screen). You can also download a free app like f.lux for regulating your computer screen at night.
Use a Pomodoro Timer
So how do you make sure you’re actually taking enough breaks?
One way is to implement a structured system like the Pomodoro Technique, where you alternate between focused time and downtime. With the Pomodoro Technique, you work in blocks of 25 minutes followed by a five-minute break. After four of these “pomodoros” you take a longer, 30-minute break.
One awesome thing about this technique is that tasks get broken down into manageable chunks of time. Even if you have a mammoth project in front of you, facing it for 25 minutes is pretty stomachable! On top of that, the regular breaks will keep you focused and recharged.
Benjamin Hardy, Author
The author of Willpower Doesn’t Work: Discover the Hidden Keys to Success explains that his most important job on any given day is getting into the right frame of mind – what he calls a “peak” or heightened state. “I do this through meditation, prayer, journal writing, listening to uplifting content, and fitness,” he says. Here’s Hardy’s routine:
- Wakes up naturally.
- Heads to the gym. In the parking lot before going inside, he says a prayer for inspiration and spends 10-15 minutes writing in his journal with a focus on goals and plans for the day.
- Does a 45-minute workout while listening to an audiobook.
Why it works:
- Waking up naturally is the best way to avoid sleep inertia – that groggy state where you feel like your brain is struggling to get into gear.
- Journaling calms and clears the mind, reduces anxiety, enhances self-awareness… the list goes on! And writing down your goals has an added benefit: in a study by Dominican University, people who wrote down their goals were 33% more successful in accomplishing them.
- Morning workouts have a raft of benefits, like making you more alert and boosting your mood for the day. So it seems Hardy’s method of reaching a “peak” mental state is pretty sound!
A key takeaway from Hardy’s routine is bundling tasks together – not only to get more done, but to help build positive habits. Listening to an audiobook might make a workout more pleasant, while journaling on the go is a great way to hardcode it into your daily routine. Why not try it – if you find that you forget to use your Panda Planner in the morning, try bundling it together with another activity in your routine. That way you’re more likely to turn it into a positive and fruitful daily habit.