In April, I ambitiously took on 5 challenges for the month! Here’s a reminder of what they were:
- Get up 4 minutes earlier each day, starting at 8.30am and ending at 6.30am.
- Cut down on internet procrastination.
- Work on solo piano pieces, and make notes on them, for 45 minutes each day.
- Do the Daily Energy Routine every day.
- Play with my cat twice daily, for at least 10 minutes, to help her get more exercise and lose weight.
How did I do?
Overall it has been a successful month, but I did better at some challenges than others! Here’s an in-depth evaluation of each:
Getting up early
For a reminder of the times I was supposed to get up, check out my previous post about these challenges.
This challenge was a breeze to begin with. I was waking up much earlier than the given time, and basically having a lie-in until my alarm went off. On some mornings in early April, I needed to get up before the given time anyway, because I had to go out. I managed this easily.
Everything was going perfectly until the 19th April when I was supposed to get up at 7.18am. I had a late night before, and I didn’t go to bed until around 2am. I decided it was better to get a decent night’s sleep because I was seeing a friend the next day, so I deliberately didn’t set my alarm. The same thing happened the night after.
After that, I was back on track until the 29th April when I was meant to get up at 6.38am. I had a late night again and I can’t remember if I set my alarm or not, but I slept in later. On the 30th April I laid in for a minute and got up at 6.35am instead of 6.34am, so I was almost there! On the 1st May, I had had enough of getting up early so I just didn’t set my alarm.
Am I going to persist in getting up early?
I don’t think I am going to stick with getting up at 6.30am because I find it too hard to be consistent with it. I end up staying up late on too many nights. Even if I am at home, I don’t always feel ready to go to bed early enough. Much as I love the idea of being up at the crack of dawn, it just doesn’t feel pleasant getting up at 6.30am when I haven’t had enough sleep.
That said, this challenge has made me get up earlier than I was previously. Before this challenge, I was getting up as late as 8.45am sometimes. Now, I think I can easily adjust to getting up at 7.00 or 7.30am. I only really began to find this challenge difficult when my getting up time was pushed earlier than the 7.00 mark.
Until my circumstances allow me to consistently go to bed earlier, I have decided I won’t attempt to get up at 6.30am every day. I am writing this on the 4th May and I have not set an alarm for the last few days, but I have been getting up at around 7.30am. I believe it is a good idea to get up at a consistent time, so maybe I will start setting my alarm for 7.30am. If I decide to, I can always push this time earlier in future months.
Cutting down on internet procrastination
Here’s a reminder of the rules I set myself this month:
- Check and blitz emails 3 times a day maximum, after mealtimes.
- Check and browse Twitter after breakfast, Instagram after lunch and Facebook and Pinterest after evening meal. Only click on links if they are relevant / useful.
- No random internet browsing – only browse the internet when researching a particular thing or completing a particular task.
- No phone on the loo.
- No phone at bedtime other than messenger.
- Same rules apply when out.
- Texts and messenger still allowed.
How did I do?
I started really well at this challenge, but gradually got worse throughout the month. I was breaking most of my rules by the end of April. However, overall I have reduced my internet procrastination. This is very similar to what happened when I attempted this challenge back in June 2017.
I checked my emails after meals, which I found to be a great system. The only problem was that sometimes I didn’t have time to process all my emails because I had to go out. When I did get round to processing them after my next meal, they had built up and it took ages.
I think the best way round this is to unsubscribe from unwanted emails, and to be more selective about the emails I read. For example, I get a lot of emails from blogs I have subscribed to, when they have posted a new blog post. I used to at least skim through all the blog posts, even the ones that weren’t very relevant or interesting to me. I have realised that I just don’t have time to read them all. From now on, if the title of the blog post doesn’t interest me, I will delete the email straight away. This way I can focus more time and energy on what is relevant, useful and interesting to me.
By the time I had processed my emails, I didn’t want to spare much time on social media sites. This means I have hardly done any social media this month. This is good in some ways, but I could do with posting more in order to promote my blog. Hopefully by cutting down on the amount of emails I am receiving and reading, I will be able to spend more time on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest this month. I plan to look at them all after each meal, instead of just one site. I will focus on whichever one(s) have the most notifications or I have relevant content for.
Sometimes, I ‘caught up’ with social media later if I hadn’t looked on a particular site after the designated meal time. This is bending the rules!
Random internet browsing
As the month progressed, I did more and more ‘random browsing’ and clicking on irrelevant links. There is a fine line between ‘looking something up’ and browsing randomly. Some of the things I looked up weren’t really necessary. However, I suppose it is good to be interested and curious about things.
I didn’t take my phone on the loo. On most nights I used my phone in bed but mainly just for messenger. I pretty much applied the same rules when I was out.
I will keep following these rules loosely and make sure I stay aware of how much time I am spending online that could be put to better use!
Solo piano practice
I managed to do this on only about half of the days (although sometimes I caught up by doing more the next day). Even so, I made good progress on learning my pieces. I even managed to make a recording, although it needs re-doing and editing in May. Also, I wrote lots of notes about the pieces I am learning. These will be useful because I intend to write blog posts to go with my recordings.
I will keep practising solo pieces in May with the aim to record more, but I won’t set a specific amount of practice time per day.
Daily Energy Routine
I managed to do the Daily Energy Routine every day in April! It’s hard to say if it made a general difference in my life, but overall I’ve had a pretty positive month. Doing the routine feels good, and helps me feel more ready to deal with things, even if it is possibly or partly a placebo. I will continue doing the Daily Energy Routine every day, or at least a few exercises from it if I am short of time.
Playing with my cat
I played with Lizzie most days, although sometimes I only managed one session rather than two. The most successful toy was a laser beam which she would chase around the hall. Sometimes it was hard work to keep her attention, but with perseverance I could usually bring her attention back to the game. I got better at knowing what techniques kept her interested and playing for longer.
On other occasions, I got her to chase a piece of string around the garden. She would have short bursts of chasing the string, but sometimes it was hard to get her to keep chasing it – she would just sit and watch. I definitely got more exercise than she did!
I bought her a new toy, which was a fabric fish on a piece of string, attached to a rod. Unfortunately she wasn’t very interested in playing with this!
I think Lizzie has been more active, and she looks a little slimmer. She was still over-grooming, but at the end of April we took her to the vet who gave her some treatment that might help with it. She hasn’t been grooming much since, but that is obviously due to the vet trip rather than from our play sessions. But it was still worth doing this challenge because it was fun, and bound to have done us both good!
I intend to keep playing with Lizzie regularly (without setting specific goals) and I plan to give her lots of cuddle therapy too!
It’s been a challenge-packed month!
5 challenges was a lot to take on, but they were all at least a partial success. I don’t think any of the challenges were adversely affected by having taken on so many, because most of them were not time consuming. On the days when I didn’t manage to do any solo practise, or play with Lizzie, it was because I had a lot of other things on that day.
I have learnt something from all of my challenges, even the ones that weren’t entirely successful. In May, I intend to continue making progress in these areas, particularly in my solo piano practice. However, I have set myself an entirely different challenge this month! I will be publishing a blog post about it very soon, so watch this space!