Monthly Challenges Organisation and Productivity Physical Health and Wellbeing

Taking on 5 Challenges in April 2019

If you are a frequent reader of my blog, you will know that every month I take on 1 or 2 challenges that I think will bring some benefit to my life. This month, I have gone wild and decided to take on 5! I had so many ideas and I just couldn’t narrow it down. Most of the challenges I have chosen are not time consuming (or will even save me time), therefore I am optimistic that I can succeed in all 5 challenges. So, what are they?

My challenges for April:

  • 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.

Let me elaborate on each…

Get up 4 minutes earlier each day

I have attempted several times in the past to become an earlier riser. I like the idea of being up bright and early, and getting things done early in the day, because I feel like I achieve more this way. 6.30am would be my ideal time to get up, and I have previously challenged myself to get up at 6.30am every day for a month. However, I have never managed to sustain this long term. This is partly because I have trouble establishing a bedtime routine that gets me to bed early enough.

See related post: Failing my December Challenge to read about my last attempt at sorting out my sleep routine!

So this month I have decided to try a different strategy. Rather than jumping straight in the deep end and getting up at 6.30am every day in April, I am going to gradually bring forward my getting up time. Recently, I have been tending to get up around 8.30 or 8.45am, so I decided to start by setting my alarm for 8.30am on the 1st April, and then setting it 4 minutes earlier each day, so that by the end of the month, I will be getting up at 6.30am. This way, it is a gradual transition rather than a sudden one. It also makes the process into a sort of game, and I find games satisfying and motivating, so therefore I am more likely to succeed with it.

Here are my getting up times for this month:

Date Get up by…
1st April 8.30
2nd April 8.26
3rd April 8.22
4th April 8.18
5th April 8.14
6th April 8.10
7th April 8.06
8th April 8.02
9th April 7.58
10th April 7.54
11th April 7.50
12th April 7.46
13th April 7.42
14th April 7.38
15th April 7.34
16th April 7.30
17th April 7.26
18th April 7.22
19th April 7.18
20th April 7.14
21st April 7.10
22nd April 7.06
23rd April 7.02
24th April 6.58
25th April 6.54
26th April 6.50
27th April 6.46
28th April 6.42
29th April 6.38
30th April 6.34
1st May 6.30

I included the 1st May because this rounds it out at 6.30, and I intend to keep on getting up at 6.30 during May and beyond.

I have read from several sources that the best way to establish a healthy sleep routine is to have a set waking time each day. The bedtime can vary, depending on tiredness. Having a different waking time each day this month may not be ideal from that point of view, but I am hoping that the 4 minute differences will be small enough that my body will be able to gradually adapt, or be tricked into thinking I am waking up at the same time each day.

As I mentioned before, my bedtime routine is part of the problem. However, that is partly because I tend to procrastinate in the evenings, so my ‘cut internet procrastination’ challenge should help with that! More about that later.

What if I wake up earlier?

Some days this month, I will need to get up earlier than the given time, because I have commitments in the mornings. This is okay! I am free to get up any time before the given time, if I want or need to. In fact, at the time of writing this post I am already a week into this challenge, and on the majority of days I have actually got up earlier than the given time! So this bodes well for the rest of the challenge, when my wake times will get earlier and earlier.

At this time of year in the UK, the sun comes up pretty early, so it will definitely be light when I wake up, even at 6.30. This will really help me, because I find it much easier to get up when it’s light rather than dark!

Cut down on internet procrastination

Lately, I have been spending more and more time browsing social media, and the internet in general. It has become a habit to switch off from the world and become engrossed in my phone or laptop for increasing lengths of time. These moments of internet procrastination add up, and the time could be spent in much better ways!

I am adapting this challenge from a similar challenge I did back in June 2017. I am using the same rules as I set back then, but with a few differences because I use different sites now than I did back then.

Here are my rules for 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.

When I check my social media accounts, I will process any notifications, and then scroll through content, liking / sharing anything relevant. I can still post on my social media accounts at any time of day, but I’ll only scroll through them at those set times.

When I did this challenge back in June 2017, it was successful, and although I wasn’t perfect and I broke a few rules, I managed to significantly cut down on my internet procrastination. However, since then I have gradually slipped back into my old habits. I am hoping that this challenge will be successful again, and consequently I will be able to free up lots of time for more productive activities.

This challenge will help with my ‘getting up earlier’ challenge too. I have recently had a tendency to lay in bed browsing the internet or social media on my phone, before I go to sleep. If I stop doing this, I am likely to go to sleep earlier, and hence it will be easier to get up earlier.

Work on solo piano pieces

In October, I challenged myself to practise solo piano pieces for 45 minutes each day. My intention was to record myself playing piano, and upload the videos to YouTube and/or this site. I still hold this intention, but since the end of October I have hardly practised solo piano pieces at all. I want to get back into it this month, and bring the pieces I was practising up to scratch. Hopefully by the end of the month, I will manage to make a few recordings, although I haven’t set a specific goal for this.

I want to make notes on the pieces as I go, because this helps me to think more about the specifics of how I am playing the music. I have also thought of writing some guides to playing the pieces, which I could post alongside my videos.

Daily Energy Routine

Unless you are familiar with Eden Energy Medicine, you have probably never heard of the Daily Energy Routine! My mum introduced me to Eden Energy Medicine several years ago because she was training in it herself. It is based on the principle that we are made up of energy systems, and illnesses are caused by these systems becoming blocked. There are various exercises you can do to help make sure your energy systems are running smoothly. The founder, Donna Eden, has developed a routine that includes some of the main exercises that will help to keep your mind and body healthy on a day to day basis. It takes about 5-10 minutes to complete. The whole routine is available on YouTube if you would like to check it out!

I already regularly practise energy exercises because I find that they help me to feel balanced. Although I cannot say for certain whether they work, it feels good to do them, so what have I got to lose? I decided to try doing the Daily Energy Routine consistently every day this month, to see whether it makes an obvious positive difference to my physical and mental wellbeing.

Playing with my cat

My cat, Lizzie, is getting a little chubby around the middle. She has also been over-grooming herself, which could be due to boredom. It is hard to persuade Lizzie to play and exercise because her favourite activity is napping, and she tends to lose interest after a few minutes of play.

Here’s Lizzie, enjoying a nap!

I am determined to raise her activity levels and give her a bit more stimulation to stave off boredom. Therefore I have decided to have at least 2 play sessions with her each day, lasting for at least 10 minutes each. This may not seem very much, but it is definitely a step up from the amount of play and activity she has been doing! My family and I do play with Lizzie, but because she loses interest so easily, the play usually only lasts a couple of minutes at most. I plan to persist in playing with Lizzie for a full 10 minutes at a time, and this may require creativity in devising ways to keep her attention!

I’m looking forward to tackling 5 challenges at once!

Although 5 challenges may seem like a lot, most of them are not very time consuming compared to many of the challenges I have done in the past. By getting up earlier and earlier, I will have extra time in the mornings. Cutting internet procrastination will also free up a lot of time. This means I will have plenty of time each day to complete my other 3 challenges, which will only take around an hour and a quarter in total. I think I am going to get a lot done this month! I will of course report back in May and let you know how it went!

Is anyone else taking on a similar challenge to any of mine? Let me know in the comments!

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6 Comments

  1. These look like great challenges to accomplish this month. I commend you on trying to wake up earlier every day. I struggle to get up early, I’ve always been a night owl, so that would be a real challenge for me to shift my wake up time that much over a month. Internet procrastination is something I need to work on as well, it’s just so easy to fall into that habit and the boom I did nothing all day long. Good luck with achieving all of these challenges!

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      Thank you so much! I also struggle to get up early, even though I like the idea of being a morning person! Hopefully this challenge will work! Yeah it’s so easy to fall into the habit of internet procrastination, but it can be such a time waster!

  2. These are great challenges! Good luck with them all. I love the idea of getting up slightly earlier each day. I worked on my sleep pattern last year to make myself a morning person and the challenge is real but the rewards are great. I also love the time aside to play with the kitty πŸ’›πŸ˜

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      Thank you! That’s great that you managed to make yourself a morning person! I need to keep in mind the rewards and benefits, even when I don’t feel like getting up. Hehe, it’s hard work purrrsuading her to play but it’s worth it!

  3. That one challenge .. to get up earlier each day is one of my goals but it’s sooo hard !!! Like I’m motivated & determined to do it but early in the morning when it’s time to get up … I’d still rather just lay there πŸ€¦πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

    1. Sophie Harriet says:

      I know, it’s so easy to say the night before but so much harder to actually do!
      Maybe you could try a similar method to me? Start at a late time and get up a few minutes earlier each day!

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