August 6th, 2022, is the 3rd Global Day of Unplugging. When you read this, think about if you can put your phone down and stay offline for 24 hours. Many people think they can, but few people have the willpower. Are you up to the challenge? #globaldayofunplugging
If you can work from home, make the most of it. When it got very hot in Denmark this week, I headed for the beach with my campervan and my laptop. Some tasks require the full three-monitor setup, high-speed WiFi, and access to a printer. But a lot of your work you can do anywhere. Why not do it somewhere comfortable and beautiful?
As if the Afghan people did not have enough problems already, they have also just been hit by an earthquake. People are fleeing war and prosecution all over the world. If you are sitting in a comfy office working on your computer, spend a moment appreciating the good hand you’ve been dealt. Then reflect on what you are spending your life on. Are you really making the most of the talents and situation you have been given?
Did you ever set your GPS wrong? I know I have. It takes a little while, but I eventually figure out that something is wrong with the directions I am given. But if you set your mind’s GPS wrong, it can take much longer to notice.
If you are unhappy about the path of your life, you need to re-program your mind’s GPS. A simple way to do that is by saying affirmations. An affirmation is a compelling sentence that describes how you feel after reaching your goal. One of mine has been “I am happy and proud that I won the Best Speaker award.”
Design an affirmation and say it to yourself every day. You will find that it directs your mind to seek a way to reach the goal your affirmation describes. And yes, I did win the award I was looking for 😉
Movies manipulate your feelings. You can borrow the techniques of the movie industry to change how you feel. One of their tricks is the soundtrack. You just know that something scary is waiting behind that door – the music tells you.
Think about the soundtrack you want for your life. You might create several playlists for different moods. You can have one for starting work, one for winding down after your workday, one for getting ready for bed, and an extra energetic one for doing boring work around the house.
Your rational mind cannot directly affect your feelings. It doesn’t work to simply tell yourself to cheer up. But your rational self can select the right tunes and let the music do the magic.
Are you as productive when working from home? Many people fell they are not, and compensate by working even more hours. The numbers show that the time we save by not having to communte to work have become extra work hours, not extra free time.
If you feel your productivity is dropping when working from home, spend part of your workday working together with someone else. I am not talking about pair programming or collaborative work – in fact, you don’t even need to know the other person. If you take your laptop to a local cafe or co-working space where other people are working, you will work harder. It is exactly the same effect as when people exercise harder in the gym than they do at home. Get out of the house for part of your work-from-home days.
Money doesn’t buy happiness. Yet there are some ways to spend money that makes you happier than others. Research shows that the happiness from buying things wears off very quickly. You know it will take less than six months for the shiny new device your purchase today to be replaced with a new and better one.
But the happiness you get from buying experiences lasts longer. Many of your memories will last a lifetime. Maybe you don’t need a new phone right now? Save a little on things today and spend a little more on your holiday this summer. It will make your happier in the long run.
There seems to be a day for breaking every bad habit. For example, today is “World No Tobacco Day.” Having one special day can be good for awareness campaigns. Actually changing habits takes much longer.
The reason we call habits “bad” is because they are working against some other goal we have. Our habits might be bad for our health, or take time away from more important things. The trick is not to focus on the habit you don’t want, but instead focus on the better result you do want.
You don’t have to run. But you do have to exercise a little every week. Your news feed and social media will be full of exercise tricks and gadgets, but the official recommendations are really simple: 150 minutes of moderate exercise like walking or cycling, or 75 minutes of running or similar.
You can easily fit 150 minutes of walking into your week in 15-minute intervals. Get off the bus or train a little before your destination and walk for 15 minutes. If you do that on the way to work and on the way home, that gives you 30 minutes each work day. If you are in the office five days a week, that adds up to 150 minutes.
If you are working from home, walk to work anyway. That means taking a 15-minute walk around the block when you start your workday, and another 15-minute walk when you end it. That has the added benefit of setting boundaries around your work time. The first walk can put you into focused “work mode”, and the second walk can allow your mind to change from work to relaxation.
Are you using your brain right? As Daniel Kahneman showed, our brains have two thinking systems: A fast system and a slow system. The slow system is for carefully considering situations, and it uses a lot of energy. The fast system provides quick answers in routine situations and uses much less energy.
Our brains have evolved over thousands of years to automatically select which system to use. In every situation, the fast system gets the first try. In 98% of all cases, the fast system comes up with what it thinks is a good answer, and doesn’t even ask the slow system.
Fortunately, you can use the slow system to re-program the fast system. To change your behavior, think about a situation in advance and tell yourself what you want to happen. Your fast system might automatically say yes when your boss asks you to handle one more ticket today. Tell yourself that next time, you will say that you will do it tomorrow. Simply stating your goal reprograms your fast thinking system to select another response next time.