When I write these articles about self-improvement, I always to ensure that I stay true to who I am. I am not a member of the 5 am club. I am not saving enough to retire by 30 (or even 60 at this rate). I am, simply put, far from perfect. But I am trying, and that’s all I really can do.
I will never recommend crazy lifestyle changes that leave no room for creativity or joy. I will never recommend things that I am not doing myself. All I can do is share my own imperfect journey and the steps I’m taking to be a better version of myself. Maybe some of these steps will resonate with you, and inspire your own journey of improvement. And if others don’t, ignore them, and find the ones that do. What matters is that you’re finding what works for you rather than some stranger on the internet.
So here are 7 acts of self-discipline that I want to make a daily habit, to achieve as much as possible in the year to come.
I am very guilty of frequently checking my phone and getting distracted by it. Even if I’m only on it for two minutes, that is several times I’m leaving the writing zone to be on my phone. And even though my phone is on silent, it lights up! It lights up all the time.
The times I’ve put my phone on ‘Do Not Disturb’ have been my most productive writing sessions. I allow myself to get deep into the zone, and it becomes an effort to pull myself out. I’m also not missing anything at all, so shut up, FOMO.
If you’re worried about people being able to reach you for an emergency, keep in mind that ‘Do Not Disturb’ has a setting that allows you to choose who can still call you. Then you can work with peace of mind.
Raise your hand if you’re guilty of keeping your inbox open throughout your working hours and frequently refreshing it.
*Raises hand with a guilty expression*
Apparently, frequently checking your email is a form of productive procrastination. And there is a super simple solution: close your damn inbox. Yeah, you, with that tab still open. Close it. If you need a helping hand, there are many tips on breaking your email habit. I’m excited to try Inbox Pause, which blocks your emails except for indicated times.
Another form of self-discipline I need is to only open emails if I plan to reply to them. I always open emails and then leave them for later. But this takes more of my time and energy than it needs. If you can, answer the email immediately. And having set email moments will help with this, as then you’re not taking away from another task. There are very few emails that can’t be handled immediately, so bar those exceptions; just reply right away and get it off your plate. This also ensures you won’t forget about important emails!
If I could go back in time to 2020, there’s a lot I would do differently, but one thing is not to download Tiktok. Yeah, I could delete it now, but you know what? I love Tiktok. I feel so seen by Tiktoks I can relate to, such as ones about depression and anxiety. I enjoy Tiktok. But I definitely could reduce the amount of time spent on it, and my untouched manuscript is begging me to do that.
So I am going to set a timer for Tiktok and stick to it. I am also going to have a rule of no Tiktoks before 6 pm. Sounds easy enough, so let’s see how that goes!
One of the best habits I’ve built up is starting my day with a walk. I used to sometimes go for a run or do a home workout, but it was always a challenge and too easy to skip. But now I have to get out of bed and out of the house, even for just a walk. And I love my morning walks! I listen to a podcast or one of Taylor Swift’s many albums, and it gets me ready for the day to come.
I work from home, so sometimes, this is my only escape from the house. As when I try to walk after work, I’ll make excuses and avoid it. It’s been tougher recently, given that it’s almost pitch black when I go, but I am determined to keep this up in 2023. It’s one of the daily habits I use to stay productive despite my depression.
I am never going to be a minimalist. I’ve spent a lot of time guilting myself for how I use shopping to feel better. Especially when I’m going through a depressed period, I use shopping as a temporary serotonin boost. It’s one of my core bad habits I can’t seem to shake, or even want to.
I’ve always felt ashamed at how bad I am with money, and yet I also recognise this part of me. Maybe it’s not a very responsible part, but we all have some space for irresponsibility.
So I’m not going to radically change that, but I do want to be a bit more cautious with how I spend. I want to travel more this year, and so I need every spare penny to go to that. So while I won’t claim never to buy silly things or seek my serotonin rush, I will try to be more aware.
I am unsubscribing from all email newsletters related to products, as these convince me to check out websites of things I don’t need. I’m trying to use a one-month rule when I see something I like, where I wait a month and then see if I still want it. Spoiler: I usually don’t. I’m still buying the nice skincare and hair care products, but also not buying more clothes or makeup that I don’t need.
I’m just trying to make conscious decisions with my purchasing.
I am a people pleaser. Or rather, I’m terrified of people being mad at me, so I desperately try to earn their affection. Is that the same thing? Either way, I say ‘yes’ to things and then immediately regret it. And then, when I complain to my very sensible best friend, she looks at me with an unimpressed expression and says the obvious answer. She’ll ask why I agreed in the first place or tell me to just cancel.
And she isn’t wrong. I need to be more careful with my time, as I have so much I want to achieve with my writing this year and plenty of trips to take, so smaller things need to take a backseat.
I’d love to start cancelling on plans I don’t feel like, but I’m not sure I have the determination to follow through, and I’m a big believer in realistic goals. So instead, I will work on saying ‘yes’ less in the first place! Instead of agreeing, I’ll tell them I need to think about it and get back to them.
I love using WhatsApp Web for writing longer replies. I’m a bit of a Grandma when it comes to typing on my phone, so using my keyboard makes things easier. But it is too easy to keep WhatsApp Web open on my laptop and keep replying to messages. And then I’m constantly switching between tasks and not focusing. Even when my phone isn’t on ‘Do Not Disturb’, I don’t want WhatsappWeb even to be an option anymore. I need to remove the option so I can only be messaging people when I’m actively on my phone.
Will you be trying any of these small acts of self-discipline? Or do you already do any of these in your daily life? Let me know!
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
Would you like to receive my top monthly articles right to your inbox?
For any comments/questions/enquiries, please get in touch at:
I'd love to hear from you!