how do you spend your days?

How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. ~Annie Dillard

new year's #reSOULution material? >> less phones more living

Try this exercise: write down your typical day, hour-by-hour. Seriously, do it. And be honest with yourself.

In February, my typical day looked something like this:

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  • 6 a.m.: Hit snooze 6-7 times
  • 7 a.m.: Wake myself up by checking gmail, work email, twitter, instagram, facebook. Shower/get ready.
  • 8 a.m.: Dilly dally at home (breakfast? dishes? laundry? clean?), finally leaving for the office between 8:15 and 8:30 a.m., sit in traffic for 45ish minutes.
  • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.: work!: emails, meetings, conference calls. Mostly glued to my desk, in front of my computer screen.
  • 6 p.m.: Drive home, sit in traffic again for 45ish minutes.
  • 7 p.m.: Dinner in front of the TV
  • 8 p.m.: Playing on my laptop, in front of the TV
  • 9:30 p.m.: Crawl in bed with my kindle, to read blogs and the book of the week.

I didn’t like how I was spending my time. My life was consumed by screens. I was spending too much time in traffic. I wasn’t taking care of myself. This lifestyle wasn’t giving me the productivity nor connectedness I craved.

Ever since, I’ve been playing with my calendar, my schedule and my routine (used loosely), to determine how best to structure my days. I’ve realized:

  • Extra time in the morning for myself is valuable.
  • Breaking up the workday is helpful for my productivity.
  • Leaving earlier or later helps with my traffic woes.
  • I crave connecting to others in meaningful ways. Social media wasn’t giving me that connection. (Starting the day with my phone is not ideal. As a start, I took Facebook and Twitter off my phone and found it took a few weeks to stop thinking in potential status updates.)

 

 

It’s helpful to consistently re-evaluate how I’m spending my time. Simplify. More responsibility combined with endless technology can be a recipe for distraction. I want to be intentional in how I live my life. I never want to wake up and wonder, “how did I get here?”

In your daily life, what do you value that’s not getting the attention it deserves?

random thoughts pre-half #8

Tomorrow, I’ll run my 8th half marathon. My training this time around was not unlike last year: weekend long runs and a few random runs during the week.

I was feeling really good about my mix of running, weights and yoga until I took the Road Runners Club of America running coach certification class. The class was full of die-hard fast runners. It was motivating and the teacher was awesome. One of the many things I learned is that in order to run better, you need to run more. (Duh.)

So I tried to focus on running more. The trouble has been that me and running are pretty off and on. I don’t MAKE myself run like maybe I should. I either feel like running, or I don’t. Those mid-distance runs were slim to none. I have all the excuses: too tired, too cold, too busy, don’t care.

Whatev. My relationship with running continues to evolve. Me and running have not hung out or talked in nearly two weeks. Why? Just because I wasn’t interested. Do I feel guilty? Nope.

I ran a mile or two or three (I wasn’t counting) on some trails yesterday and it was magical to feel my lungs pumping and my legs moving. I wondered why I haven’t been running. Laziness!

I believe I will have a strong and fun run tomorrow. It won’t be my fastest half, but it won’t be my slowest either.

I’m eager to get this race behind me so I can refocus on shorter distances, weights, yoga and a variety of bike activities. Not that running has held me back. Only in theory.

Cheers to half #8!

how to survive your Atlanta commute

Atlantans spend way too much time in traffic. Forbes released a list of the Most Traffic-Jammed Cities; I was surprised Atlanta didn’t make the list. Los Angeles ranks the worst, with drivers wasting 64 hours annually in traffic. A conservative estimate of my 13 mile commute estimates that I waste at least 120 hours annually in traffic if I work a typical 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. schedule four days a week and work from home that fifth day.

There’s more to life than traffic. Here are my survival tips.

  • Plan your schedule around your commute. Play with your commute times to find what works best for you. I’ve found that in order to have a flowing commute, I need to leave my house before 7 a.m. or after 9:30 a.m. Otherwise, I can plan on a minimum 45 minute commute. I’m trying to become more of an early bird in order to maximize the time in my day. In the afternoon, it’s best to leave no later than 4:40 p.m., though that rarely happens.
  • Find new routes. Humans are creatures of habit and most of us will take the same route to/from work each day. Get out of your comfort zone and find new routes for your commute. Chances are they may be faster or less frustrating! You can use an app like Waze, navigate new roads via Google Maps or take a walk/run/bike ride to learn new streets.
  • Stay alert and aware. When you’re checking email or texting while driving, you cannot fully focus on what’s happening around you. Don’t be that swervy driver; drive with intent. Staying alert and aware will ensure you never miss a turn light, while gleaning you extra opportunities to pass someone, take a detour or notice dangers ahead. I hate getting stuck behind someone who is completely oblivious to what’s happening behind them. Especially when that person is the slow one in the fast lane, or driving next to another car on a two-lane road. Get out of the way!
  • Arm yourself with audiobooks, podcasts and calming music. High energy or aggressive music only bottles up my energy in traffic and makes me road ragey. An audiobook helps me channel my nervous traffic energy better and at least make me feel as if I’m using my time productively. I use Audible and Spotify religiously.
  • Take an alternative commute. Telecommute, carpool, take public transportation, ride your bike! The Clean Air Campaign offers a variety of incentives and resources to help you. Many employers may also offer incentives or subsidies for things like MARTA passes or vanpool rentals.

What helps you survive a hellish commute?

Do you have any audiobooks or podcasts to recommend?

Some things you…

Some things you’re not letting happen right now because the timing isn’t perfect for you. Some you’re not letting happen because you are very aware of where you are. But all things, as they are happening, are happening in perfect order. And if you will relax and begin saying, “Everything in its perfect time. Everything is unfolding. And I’m enjoying where I am now, in relationship to where I’m going. Content where I am, and eager for more,” that is the perfect vibrational stance.”
Abraham Hicks

2/24/14: Top 5 stories of the week

My top 5 favorite stories of the week.

10 Painfully Obvious Truths Everyone Forgets Too Soon (Live Learn Evolve): Within #9, I really liked this line: You have to create your own culture.

How to Combat a Fat and Ugly Attack (The Great Fitness Experiment): Let go of trying to make sure you look great in every picture posted of yourself on the Internet. Because it’s not always about you.

The Mental Exercise That Can Turn Wishes Into Reality (Marie Forleo): Trust that little voice in your head that says, “wouldn’t it be great if…” and then do it.

In Defense of Corporate Wellness Programs (Harvard Business Review): Good health plays a large role in employee productivity. I have a secret love and interset in corporate wellness. My biggest takeaway was a new vocab word: perspicacity (noun): the quality of having a ready insight into things; shrewdness

36 Lessons I’ve Learned About Habits (Zen Habits): This list is meaty and should probably not be digested in one sitting. Here’s a highlight (it’s #15):  Have powerful motivations. It’s easy to say, “Sure, I’d love to learn to program!” It sounds nice. But something that sounds nice isn’t going to stick when things get a little hard. You need to have a very strong motivation — wanting to have better health so you won’t suffer as much, wanting to create a good life for your kids, wanting to help people in need. Looking good is not a good motivator, but feeling strong and empowered is. Write your motivation down. Remind yourself of it when things get hard.

thinking broader about flexibility

There is someone on my team at work who consistently works out during the day. I commend her for her dedication and scheduling prowess. I’ve seen her head to the gym at seemingly odd times, like 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. Those times seem odd to me because I never really considered those times of the day. My workouts are almost always morning, noon or night.

I really value the ability to set my own schedule, on my own terms and to be trusted to do so. But, I’ve not been the best steward of my own time and it’s time that I change a few things. I have more flexibility in my day than I currently allow myself. 

While there are, of course, certain expectations during my workday, I am not an hourly employee and in general, I have a great amount of flexibility. There is also a gym + showers in the basement of my work building, which helps negate my barrage of excuses.

So, last night, I packed my gym bag and planned to do my run at 11 a.m. It ended up being a nice break in the day and no one missed me while I was gone. I’m looking forward to being more creative about how I plan and use my time throughout the day. I want to be sure to cultivate time in each day to workout, think bigger, connect meaningfully and spend less time in front of screens.

Spending time online and being safe

Do you dream about work? I do. Too much, actually. I dreamt about it last night. Lately, I’ve been thinking (and dreaming) a lot about Internet safety.

My first memories of connecting to the Internet are from 1995 or 1996, when we first got AOL. We had dial-up internet and saw this screen each time we connected, which took around 2 minutes.

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I remember talking to people in chat rooms and lying about my age. I was 12 and told people I was 15 because they didn’t have chat rooms for tweens! It was easy for private chats to turn inappropriate quickly and I don’t remember my parents ever really talking to me about being safe online. It probably happened, but I also think it probably went in one ear and out the other.

I’ve been making friends (and meeting up with people online) for as long as I can remember. I remember meeting some guy I met online in the food court at the local mall.  We met and I was weirded out…so I made some excuse, scooted away and blocked him online. I sure as hell didn’t tell my parents what I was doing (surely they would judge me!), but I did make sure to always tell a friend all the details (screen name, phone number, physical details).  In hind sight, it was stupid. But I was just a high school kid.

As I’ve continued to grow up, making friends online has been a constant. I’ve made great friends through blogs I’ve had, I’ve made weird friends through twitter and I’ve dated online, through a variety of sites including match.com and even craigslist. Meeting people online is common now. But when is it dangerous?

I am not a parent, but this is a big question mark for me. How much are teens talking about this? What really is relevant to share with parents? How can we arm teens with the right information to help them make smart decisions?

My company, Cox Communications, launched the Take Charge! program nearly 11 years ago and it’s a fantastic start. I’ve been spending time with the most recent survey Cox did on Internet safety and am surprised by some of the results. Cyber bullying was not on my radar nearly 20 years ago. But, I’ve witnessed it. The amount of time people are spending online is something I can definitely relate to.

My littlest sister is a sophomore in college and every time we get to hang out, her phone is connected to her hand. I can relate, my phone is sometimes still connected to my hand, too. When I’m all into social media and can’t stop watching twitter, David will tell me, “PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY.”

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If teens spend 6 hours a day online, how many hours do I spend online? My entire workday is spent online and then I come home and play on Pinterest and read my blog roll. There is too much screen time in my life, but it’s an easy default. That’s probably an easy 10 hour day of being online.

YIKES. That’s scary. Do I want to spend the majority of my life in front of a screen? I don’t know. I don’t think so. But, this is a modern reality. And it’s not just an issue for 30 year olds but for teens and little kiddo-s. Check out these cuties:

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Two cutie-pies! On the right is Leo, my friend Michele’s son. Captivated by screens! My nephew is 2 years old and LOVES his iPad. I don’t even have an iPad…

I asked some friends on Facebook, “what is your #1 concern with your kids when they are online?” Here’s what I heard:

  • My 6 yr old navigates the computer well and is learning how to spell, so he can type simple things in the search. There is a site called playhub that he plays games on. I guess he misspelled it and ended up on pornhub. I was mortified!
  • Only one?!?! Right now (with a 2 and 4 year old) I have two. The first is just the ease with which all of these things can suck their time away from being outside, being creative, etc. The second is if snapchat is already rampant amongst those of a poor decision making age I can’t imagine what will exist for that same demographic when our kids are old enough to have mobile devices.
  • My 8 year old loves to google random things. I’m terrified he’ll google the “wrong” thing.
  • I block the web browser on my 5 and 8 year old’s kindles…they will thank me later.
  • Others reaching out to them…they are 11 and 13.
  • I’m concerned about my 8 year old accessing inappropriate YouTube videos-  it’s so easy to navigate from fun cat videos to not-so-nice images, networking games that allow for interactions with others ie. potential predators and just general disassociation with reality (we have time limits, etc)
  • My 5 year old clicking on random things that will either download a virus or charge me eight million dollars.
  • 4 & 6 year olds: I have controls on to prevent purchases, but it’s too easy for them to end up on random websites even from paid game apps on my kindle. My son keeps ending up on sites to buy a car. I’m glad his exposure has been limited to the features on the new Honda Odyssey, but the possibilities freak me out.
  •  Concern about others being able to contact my 9 and 11 year olds without my knowledge.

Knowing the things I got into at the beginning of the Internet, I can’t imagine parenting a teen in this day and age. God bless you, parents and guardians. Please continue to check www.cox.com/takecharge as I work to update the site and continue to build relevant resources for parents.

What is your biggest concern about being safe online – kids or no kids?