Instead of curating our favourite things for this month, Aimee had the idea that we could look back on some of our ‘what we’ve been practicing’ items and see what we’ve stuck to, evolved or dropped completely. Perhaps it’ll inspire you to try something? Or not to bother?! Let our learnings be your guide…
I enjoyed looking back over these past habits and seeing which ones are now a habit, which I need to work on, and which are no longer realistic. The thing that stood out to me when reflecting on each of these is that when my work-life balance is off-centre, I have less motivation, time, and headspace to work on myself. Breaking routines into smaller daily, micro-habits are a great start to regain balance.
I’m feeling off-centre at the moment, and this was a great opportunity to encourage reflection and recalibration. I am going to work first and foremost on boundary setting, and then daily incidental movement, squashing self-doubt and improving my sleep should follow suit!
What it is: Incorporating movement into the workday by taking walking meetings, the least-direct pathway, movement at lunch, and bursts of exercise between meetings.
How it’s going: I started the year off strong and have slowly reverted back to old habits. I noticed my lunch breaks were almost non-existent, and I was barely leaving my desk throughout the day. I have constant back-to-back meetings that make little room for incidental movement. One thing I have done recently is at least add a lunch block to my calendar. However, on reflecting, I hope this is the reset and wake-up call I need.
What it is: Putting things back where they came from, tidying the kitchen after dinner, making the bed, putting your clean clothes away once they’re dry, and dealing with postal mail as soon as you receive it.
How it’s going: I can proudly say this is one I have stuck to, and absolutely notice the difference. There’s of course still room for improvement (I’m staring at my pile of clean clothes as I type this). Tidying as you go has definitely helped to improve my overall health and well-being. I should probably have prefaced this with the fact that I actually love cleaning. It’s a way I destress (cooking too)! But the intention behind smaller, <10minute chores is to feel clearer, and less overwhelmed in my day-to-day.
What it is: Reading your contract, clarifying out-of-hours procedures, auditing how you use your phone, and talking to your team about the boundaries you need.
How it’s going: lol.
What it is: Challenging yourself to try things outside your comfort zone or things you aren’t sure you’re capable of.
How it’s going: I wouldn’t say I’m doing a great job at this, but I think it’s more that I’ve not really been stepping outside of my comfort zone all that much. When you’re in a place of overwhelm and burnout, you crave comfort and stability. On reflecting, I’m in that place at the moment. This isn’t to say that being in a stable and comfortable place is a bad thing, however, I would like to prioritise some personal growth and development. I think I’m going to focus on this for the next month and write myself some goals to work on.
What it is: Filling up a water bottle beside the bed every night.
How it’s going: Yes, yes, yes! I have been making sure the first thing I consume each morning is water. I’ve also noticed this definitely helps with my IBS too (win, win)! I’ll keep my eye on this one as we are now entering winter, but I hope I’ve developed enough of a habit now that I won’t think twice about drinking water first thing in the morning and more of it throughout my day.
What it is: Using breath counting as a relaxation technique, or to fall back to sleep.
How it’s going: I’ve still been having some difficulty getting back to sleep when I wake throughout the night, but I’ve been doing one of two things: naming countries or listening to a Calm App sleep story. I’ve stopped counting my breath.
What it is: Using a spreadsheet to track expenses, income, forecasts, and purchase wishlists.
How it’s going: It’s so nice to look back on 2019 and see the personal financial goals I’ve reached since then. I no longer use a spreadsheet, however, I followed some advice from She’s On The Money and have set up a number of bank accounts for very specific purposes that help with my budgeting and expenses.
What it is: Tidying and triaging emails.
How it’s going: I admitted at the time that my personal email was a mess. This was all about setting up folders, filters and workflows for my personal email. It’s been working quite well. It’s mostly all automated, and I if things become unruly I try to do a weekly/fortnightly tidy-up and triage.
What it is: Not using softening language when communicating.
How it’s going: I have worked hard on this, and have noticed that my bias toward using soft language is creeping in less and less. I do still have to edit sometimes, but I have noticed an improvement. I will say, I now need to work on trying to remove ‘like’ from my spoken dialogue!
What it is: Trying to pick a couple of similar recipes for the week that will use similar ingredients, then chopping and storing excess in the freezer to use in stir-fries, soups, or smoothies.
How it’s going: I wouldn’t say I’ve been doing a lot of food storing, but we’ve definitely been trying to cook similar things each week that use the same ingredients across dishes. This was helped a bit by my suburb trialing a food-waste recycling program!
I’m glad Aimee suggested this review, there’s so much to be learned from looking back. I noticed my patterns, like often setting some variation on “stop trying to be so productive”, and how many of my habit experiments were about improving mental health (erm, all of them?).
I have a milestone birthday coming up (the big 4-0) so it feels like an appropriate year to be reflecting on what’s been serving me (or not), and setting intentions for the next stretch. Perhaps the next goal might be: set less goals?! (maybe try one new habit every season, instead of every month…)
What it is: Removing Slack from my phone, creating physical indicators of ‘work time’ vs ‘personal time’ on my desk, and making use of the flexible work policy by working shorter days when focus is low, and longer days when my energy allows.
How it’s going: I’ve kept Slack off my phone and managing to keep my work hours in check, but I found the physical indicators of work vs personal time hard to keep up — often grabbing the “usual water glass” instead of the fun one. I remember someone suggested using different logins for the same computer (work vs personal) and setting them up with a different photo background and other style differences on the screen, so I think I’ll try this next.
What it is: Remembering that rest is productive (and prioritising it), and being selective with your time. This includes embracing the “Joy of Missing Out” — found by relishing what you can do with the time by saying no (or not being invited) to something.
How it’s going: There’s been a pattern here! Doing too much, putting on the brakes, slowly letting it creep back up, repeat. I’m back in the lull of the cycle but it’s interesting to step back and recognise my tendencies, so I can hopefully catch myself sooner next time (before saying yes to too many things and filling up my calendar).
Meditation and mindfulness 🧠
What it is: 5 minutes of daily mindfulness (using the Balance app), and using the 5-4-3-2-1 grounding technique when I need to centre myself
How it’s going: Daily meditation has slipped to weekly meditation, and I had forgotten about the grounding technique until preparing for this post. I noticed a genuine improvement in my headspace and mood when I was practicing meditation daily, so I’m going to try to reinstate it.
What it is: Being open about my anxiety and low social stamina when they’re relevant, and sharing details of my gut health issues (when appropriate).
How it’s going: I’m making a conscious effort to keep doing these, both at work and in my personal relationships. I think it’s important to be as human as possible, especially in any kind of leadership position, because it can help make it feel safer for others to do the same.
What it is: Using my calendar to prioritise time for things I care about.
How it’s going: I had originally added recurring events for my morning stretches, and various other recharge moments through the week, but found the “general” time blocks just made my calendar feel overly busy — I decided it’s better to see the space and practice not filling it up. I have kept the task-based events in though, like 2 hours every Wednesday to spend on this blog, as my minimum commitment to the project!
Morning stretches 🧘♀️
What it is: 10 minutes of stretches before work every morning.
How it’s going: I’m honestly nailing this one. I’m still using the t-shirt sizing, habit stacking and habit tracking approach and it’s proving to be the magic combination: I’ve never stuck to anything quite so diligently as I am with the morning stretches. Proud as punch.
Reflective practice 🙇♀️
What it is: Taking the time to reflect on things you’ve done to learn from them before moving on to the next thing.
How it’s going: I do a lot of reflecting in my work life, but less-so for myself. Kudos to Aimee for suggesting this reflective post, there’s so much value in reflecting before acting. I might even dust off the old journal for some unstructured weekly Sunday writing. Maybe.
What it is: Figuring out what care you can give to yourself (eg. downtime, or flexibility of side projects).
How it’s going: I’m pretty good at giving myself downtime, but keen to reflect on other kinds of self-care I could be seeking out — like different kinds of exercise, getting out to see more art, making plans with friends I feel recharged by, and knitting/sewing instead of watching TV sometimes.
Home cooking 👩🍳
What it is: Googling for cooking inspiration and trying some new things.
How it’s going: This one ebbs and flows. Some weeks I’ll make the same old recipes I know by heart and others I’ll scout inspiration from Google (especially when there’s a random ingredient left over, it becomes something of an Iron Chef home challenge to use it).
20-minute workouts 🏋️♀️
What it is: Picking 6 exercises to do over three rounds (45 seconds on / 15 seconds off), with a 1-minute rest in between each round.
How it’s going: This 6-exercise approach is something I used when I still had a gym membership. These days I use Apple Fitness+ — I like being able to filter the workouts by type, length, and music to fit my vibe that day.
What it is: Naming your ‘favourite thing’ of the day before bed.
How it’s going: My partner and I do this every single night without fail, to the point where if one of us hasn’t asked the other will bring it up. Couldn’t recommend this highly enough, it helps bring a tiny slice of positivity to even the worst days (which is often a better note to end on than a brain full of worry).
What it is: Allocating an amount for each category of household spending, then tracking to see whether the estimate was accurate
How it’s going: I still do this! I tend to do it in bursts though, like plugging in all my data once every few months to review (rather than constantly updating).
What it is: Staying off social media for the first and last hour of each day.
How it’s going: Failing tremendously. I’m using social media more than ever, often skipping past the self-set limits on TikTok. I find apps like Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest particularly calming… so I guess that makes it okay? Does it? I’m going to say yes.