life goals

How to Plan for Better Down Time

"American Adults watch an average of five hours and four minutes of tv a day". As I read that sentence, my heart aches a little.

It's not that I don't love a good Netflix binge or movie night. As a natural homebody, I am as inclined as anyone else to snuggle up on the couch and stream. But I know that tv time is not really helping me relax.

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Despite an average of 5 hours a day in front of the tv, Americans feel like they're not getting any downtime.

Because they're not.

Humans need time to recover from their hectic, over-scheduled lives.  People think they're relaxing in front of the tv, but they're just passing time.

Here's why I'm reducing my tv intake this year:

1) It's Passive Time NOT Leisure Time. Basically, it's wasted time. You'll never get those hours back and most of what we watch is not touching us on some personal level.

Let's define what Leisure Time IS. It has two main components:

  • It is something you undertake for its own sake.

  • It is active, requiring our full skill and attention.

Learning French or playing basketball are leisure activities. To get better at them, you have to actively engage in the activity. And that immersion is what causes you to truly relax and let go of your other worries. Challenging hobbies recharge us and reduce our levels of exhaustion.

2) It's bad for your relationships. You can't bond and connect with other humans when everyone is staring at the tube. This is not quality time. Instead of zoning out in front of the tv, try playing a board game or having a 10-minute chat before bed.

Look for ways for you and your partner to learn together, converse and laugh together. Don't waste precious hours with those you love staring at the tv. Have a weekly martini-making contest or take a class together. Instead of sitting down after dinner, tackle the dishes together and then walk the dog.

Consider lingering over the table after a meal with a nightcap. Stay a while. Enjoy each other's company.

3) Watching TV doesn't help me achieve any of my goals. I want to do many things in my lifetime, and watching television is not in service of any of them. My time is valuable and my goals are my number one priority. Letting go of what distracts from my big dreams can be freeing.

4) There are actually other things you can do in your off time besides watch tv. Just THINK about all the stuff you would do if you had an extra 5 hours a day. Replace your tv time with THAT.

It may sound counter-intuitive coming from a productivity expert, but downtime is key. You need to rest and recharge. Embracing the lost art of leisure actually allows us to live more purposefully.

This is an investment in your quality of life. You'll do better work because you're actually re-charging and you'll add peace to your day.

How?

Start to savor the moment. Schedule your leisure activities with intention and then fully immerse yourself in them. Whether it's reading a book for 30 minutes before bed, or savoring a screen-free cup of coffee in the morning. Take a quiet stroll after dinner. It's important to live in the moment and unwind with purpose.

Also, stop over-booking your social engagements. If you're always running to the next dinner or party, when are you savoring the simple things? When are you getting your downtime?

I know this can be a difficult shift to make because it's not our natural inclination to seek leisure. But limiting our hours wasted (in front of the tv, or otherwise) will increase our happiness.

And increasing happiness is a very good use of your time.

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How to Conquer Big Habits by Starting Small

We're two weeks into 2018, and by now, most people have already failed at their New Year's Resolutions.

Are you in this boat? Are you frustrated because you thought this year would be different? Instead of packing mason jar salads in your lunch, you've gone back to grabbing takeout. Or, you thought you'd keep the house clean but now the dishes and laundry are starting to pile up again.

Why does this happen?

Because most humans bite off more than they can chew, right off the bat. And if you push yourself too hard too fast, you're guaranteed to fail.

But I'm here to give you a bit of good news!

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You can still achieve your resolutions this year. Really! Change up your game plan to ramp up to your goal gradually. By taking small steps and being honest with yourself, you can get where you want to be.

Let's say you want to get in shape for 2018. Ask yourself, what is my CURRENT fitness level? Often, people who resolve to get in shape are not very active. It's important to know where you are now, so you can come up with a realistic plan of attack.

If walking to your car in the morning is the most activity you do all day, you need to lower your expectations. Trying to commit to a 45-day HIIT program right out the gate is a recipe for failure. Avoid burnout by setting a lower target. A better plan would look like this:

  • Week 1 - Do 20 Minutes of Physical Activity 3x weekly (any activity)

  • Week 2 - Do 20 Minutes of Physical Activity 5x weekly (any activity)

  • Weeks 3 & 4 - Do 20 minutes of Physical Activity daily (any activity)

  • Weeks 5 & 6 - Do 30 minutes of Physical Activity daily (any activity)

At this point, you're starting to get used to being more active. Now it's time to slowly introduce the program you really want to tackle to reach your goal. If you've been doing yoga this whole time, start to mix in new exercises a few times a week. Keep ramping up until you are ready to commit to that HIIT program.

It might take you a few months to get there, that's ok. It's not a race. The point is to GET THERE. And taking 3 months to work up to it is better than binging and burning out in 2 weeks. Lasting change takes time and it's ok to look at your goals as a daily work in progress.

This ramp up principal works for any habit or major life change you're trying to create for yourself. Rome wasn't built in a day. Give yourself a fighting chance at success by methodically working towards it.

For more info about how to build new habits, check out my Free Habit Creation Guide!

Now, get back out there! Tackle those resolutions one more time. Make 2018 your best year yet!

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