Twelve months of experiments: April 2018

It’s the start of yet another month, which means I owe everyone an update on how my April experiments went and what I’m doing for May.

April decluttering goals

I had ambitious decluttering goals for April: my desk, the top of my bookshelf, my nightstand, the top of a set of drawers in my room, and my Tupperware collection. Raise your hand if you’re surprised that I didn’t manage to tackle one of those per week like I said would be my strategy.

Yeah, me neither.

BUT. My Tupperware is now back in the cupboard instead of sitting out, and I weeded out the containers that didn’t have lids and the lids that didn’t have containers. I also gave some back to my mom, since I usually leave my parents’ house with a container or two of goodies and sometimes I don’t remember to keep those in a separate spot to give back to them when I see them next.

No more of this!

I’ve corralled all of the loose bobby pins on top of my bookshelf and straightened everything up. My nightstand is mostly clear again, although I have no doubt that it’ll accumulate clutter again soon enough. The set of drawers is still a work in progress since I want to ultimately get rid of it (which’ll mean one less surface in my room for clutter).

My desk could still use some work, but guess where I’ve been writing posts the last few weeks:

This post, brought to you and made 1000% better by the party lights on my desk

(I’m not going to put it in this post as well because it’s embarrassing but if you want the before picture, it’s here. 😅)

So essentially I cleared off what I could without actually doing the work of getting rid of anything. My excuse there is how busy I’ve been since a spring cleaning/decluttering is high on my list of priorities. Maybe that’ll happen once I switch over my clothes and put away my sweaters for the season, since I haven’t done that yet with the ridiculously extended winter we had. In the meantime I’ve got a box in my room where I’m putting items I’m getting rid of as I find them. It’s slow but it’s better than keeping them where they are and hoping I remember to include them in the items to drop off at the thrift store the next time I’m there.

Morning routine

I also experimented with getting up with my alarms in the morning and breaking my bad habits of snoozing the alarms multiple times and/or scrolling aimlessly on my phone until I realize it’s been 20 minutes and I really need to get ready for work.

Mornings have been hit or miss. Some mornings I’ve been fantastic about hopping out of bed right after my alarm and heading straight for the shower without passing go or collecting $200. And it’s nice not to speed-walk to work those days. It’s also nice not to start my day off by staring at my phone first thing.

But some mornings the apathy I feel about getting up and going to work hits especially hard and I don’t get out of bed when I should. Literally no one needs me to be in exactly on time, and I’ve got an hour of lunch time each day I can and do use to make up the time if I come in late in the morning (this probably makes me a bad employee but I do not give one single fuck. I still work all my hours each week so what does it matter?). So I don’t get up. I take my time eating breakfast (although still not to the point where I’m lingering over coffee).

Hey, I guess I’m at least being somewhat intentional about that decision?

I’m going to keep aiming to get up right away, and I’m introducing something into my life that means I might have to actually get out of bed anyway if I want to look at my phone. Which leads me to my May experiments.

No screens an hour before bed

Who has two thumbs, didn’t get a smartphone until a few months after she graduated from college, and is way too addicted to it anyway despite the late adoption? This girl! May’s primary challenge is to put the damn thing down before bed: no screens at least an hour before I go to sleep.

Trust me, as someone who has seen a sleep doctor in her lifetime, I know about the blue light and how it ruins your sleep. I’ve got night shift on my phone and an app on my laptop to gradually filter out the blue light on my screen as the evening progresses. So I do what I can, but that doesn’t mean those magically give me a free pass to be staring at my screens all night.

I also have better things to do before bed than scrolling endlessly through social media or playing games (damn you, Two Dots!). Much like I’ve been trying to get out of bed earlier and not look at my phone first thing in the morning so I don’t start off my day in a rush, putting it down earlier in the evening gives me a chance to be more intentional about how I end my day.

What do I do with that time?

I don’t know exactly how I’m going to use that hour every day (yesterday I spent some of it sorting through the pile of junk mail sitting on my desk since I had a photo—see above—I needed to take!), but I’ve got ideas. Obviously I’ll probably read a lot. But it might also be a good opportunity for both meditation and stretching, two things that I really need to do more consistently.

Hell, maybe I’ll even use that time to sit down and think about big, scary topics like what it is I’m doing with my life at the moment (I told you the quarter-life crisis wasn’t over!). 🤷‍♀️

But we all know you write your posts the night before…

About writing nights like tonight…I’m not going to get this post done before 10, despite my best efforts. I don’t want to automatically exclude writing nights from this challenge, but I also know shutting my computer exactly at 10 and posting whatever it is I have at that point isn’t the answer either. No one wants that to happen! Hopefully the pressure of knowing I have more of a deadline than “whatever ungodly hour I happen to finish the post at” and the fact that as the month progresses this’ll be more of a habit will force me to finish things earlier than I normally do.

As for my Kindle? It’s an old e-ink one without a backlight. That screen totally doesn’t count for the ban. Which is good, because finishing Tamora Pierce’s new book a few days ago prompted me to reread some of her other stuff, and that’s all on my Kindle.

Breaking the impulse

For this first week at least I’m keeping my phone out of my room at night so I’m not tempted to “just check something really quickly.” I use my phone as my alarm in the morning, so I’ve switched my alarms over to my Fitbit so that excuse for having my phone on my nightstand within easy scrolling reach is gone.

I’m going to be honest, last night felt weird. I was so tempted to pick up my phone compulsively and for no reason. That right there is probably the biggest argument for doing this challenge.

When I randomly mentioned doing this a few months ago, Young FIRE Knight mentioned that it was something he’d be interested in trying. So he’s joining me on this during this month. Anyone else up for challenging how they spend the last hour of their evening and want to join in too?

See you at the bar(re)

My other challenge? It’s something I honestly didn’t think I’d ever need to do since it happened regularly without me thinking about it: I need to get back in the habit of going to barre at least three times a week (or an average of three times, anyway, since things like being out of town make it hard some weeks but I can catch up other weeks).

Every single first of the month this year has been an opportunity for me to say “wow how was I so busy? Things should go back to normal in a week or two!” But surprise, for four straight months that hasn’t happened. I didn’t go nearly as often as I wanted to/should have in both February and March, and of course there’s the fact that I didn’t go for almost three weeks of April. Last week I went twice, determined to start getting back on track.

Buuuuut there’s an extenuating factor in my way.

Yes, after about fifteen separate winter/spring/winter swings in the weather the past couple of months, turns out summer is suddenly (and briefly? I like warm weather but it’s not time for it just yet) here with highs hovering around 90 this week. Solar-powered human that I am, I just want to spend all my time outside basking in the sun!

But working out is good for me. And I pay lots of money in order to do so. So for May I’m going to get back into the habit of going because it’s become way too easy to decide to cancel a class I’m signed up for because I don’t want to or it would be inconvenient to take that hour and 45 minutes (hour class, 15 minute walk each way, and of course I have to be there a few minutes early too to get my spot in the room, etc) out of my evening.

For the record, yes, even though I didn’t want to I went to barre tonight (Wednesday) instead of reading outside for a second evening in a row. I was going to feel hella guilty if I’d skipped barre and then sat down to write this section a few hours later. Plus, cancellation policy for the win. Instead of letting myself think about it, I just put my phone back in my bag for the few minutes I could still cancel for free until that grace period ran out. It’s an easy decision whether to go to barre or read in the yard when reading in the yard would cost me $15!


Whatever it takes.

10 Replies to “Twelve months of experiments: April 2018”

  1. Excited for the challenge this month! 2/2 so far, but I haven’t had a writing night yet… so we’ll see how it goes today/tonight!

    I too have to get back in my working out habit. Now that I’m back from vacation there’s no more excuses!

  2. Awesome update! I was super late to the smartphone game too (just got my first personal smartphone). I had a work smartphone 3-4 years ago. But yeah our doesn’t mean I’m immune to being addicted to it. My phone is totally what gets in the way of me enjoying my mini retirement.
    And I’m all for joining you with the no phone in the last hour before bed this month! It’ll be challenging since I’m in hotels travelling for three weeks this month, but no excuses.

  3. Hey Erin, you are making cool progress at your April goals – your decluttering is certainly going better than mine!

    And your Barre instructor has a point – fear of losing money is a big motivator, I know it certainly works for me.

  4. Great update, and great idea. I guess I should start copying it!

    I’ve got annual goals, but the idea of doing some “experiments” is pretty cool.

    Thanks for the update

  5. Regarding phones, I’m lucky in that I hate doing anything on small screens when I have bigger screens as an option, such as my tablet or full computer. So my phone literally just gets used for a few things (texting, car-navigation) and I barely have any apps on it. No social media apps at all.

    Nice progress on de-cluttering, now your office is like a bajillion times neater than mine!

  6. I didn’t know you a year ago, but it sounds like you are making some serious progress. Nice work!

    I like the challenge of no screen time one hour before bed and will join you in this…

  7. Your April was so ambitious! I’ve been making an effort to read for around half an hour (or however long I need to before I feel too tired to continue). Its just a much nicer way to unwind than staring at my phone screen.

    As for decluttering, keep your eyes out for a post about a May challenge. That’s all I’ll say for now 🙊

  8. I need to follow suit and set some monthly “experiments” for myself! Limiting my screen time would be a good goal for me. There’s no reason for me to be scrolling through Instagram while in bed at 11 PM. It really is a problem.

    I am terrible about getting up at a certain time in the morning. I find that I actually do better if I *don’t* set a goal to rise early. Weird, right?!?

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