Twelve months of experiments: May 2018

Surprise, it’s apparently June already. Probably because April flowers bring May showers—isn’t that how that rhyme goes?

If you’ll remember all the way back to the beginning of May, I wrote that I was taking on quite the challenge for the month. Buckle in because I’ve got quite a bit to say about this one before we get into June’s experiments.

No screens before bed

So I did a challenge in May where I wasn’t supposed to look at any screens an hour before bed, and the results were decidedly…mixed. I downloaded a tracking app so I could have a record of how I was doing instead of measuring it by vague “yeah I think I put down my phone on time last night and probably also the night before, too” measurements. Because we all know those recollections are absolute bullshit. Here’s what happened.

Mission totally not accomplished

First off, let’s revisit something I wrote last month about writing nights:

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.

Let me absolutely reassure you that this did not happen! In the app EVERY SINGLE Wednesday and all but one Monday were marked as nights I’d failed to quit the screens an hour before bed. Guess who does all her writing for this blog on Monday and Wednesday nights?

Also I’m pretty sure I only marked that one Monday as a success because I might’ve finished still way past the time I should’ve but early enough that I didn’t immediately fall asleep when I collapsed in bed and so could read for about an hour. Yay success?

So maybe I actually got slightly less sleep?

Writing nights excepted (and the nights I was on vacation in Florida), I actually did fairly decently during the month. But a lot of that is thanks to something I learned in the course of this experiment, which is that I’m way too willing to push back my bedtime. If I was on my phone still at 10:10, no problem. I’d just push my bedtime back a corresponding 10 minutes (or 30 or 60, whatever) so I could mark that night as a success!

Nope, going to bed later is the opposite of a success and absolutely not what was supposed to happen. The month was definitely a lesson in how fungible my “bedtime” can actually be if there are things going on, and I need to work on being more consistent (one-more-chapter syndrome is something I really struggle with!).

And on the one-more-chapter syndrome note, I totally got a ton of reading done during May. But I was rereading some of my favorite books, not reading the ones I have out from the library that aren’t great light reading before bed. The fact that I was rereading makes staying up later to read more/so I could say I’d been off my phone an entire hour before bed even more of a fail.

Great in theory but…

Essentially I like the challenge conceptually, but in practice it was a major pain in the ass. Turns out I don’t like being set a hard deadline to get off my phone. I’m in the middle of a text conversation, who are you to tell me I need to quit that conversation THIS INSTANT, 10:00 alarm? It’s not like I’m going to turn into a pumpkin if I’m still typing at 10:01!

Ahem. So there might’ve been some resentment about the hard deadline, which was surprising. I didn’t honestly think I’d be so resentful of my 10:00 cutoff every night.

I’ve absolutely let go of the hard deadline. I do plan to work on keeping my evenings (writing nights like tonight excepted, obviously) more relaxed and more intentional and to keep the social media scrolling and game-playing (damn you still, Two Dots!) to a minimum. But if I’m having a conversation, I’m not going to stop responding just because the clock is displaying a certain arbitrary number.

“That which gets measured”

I think maybe the best thing that came out of that experiment was downloading a tracking app. Screen-free evenings weren’t the only thing I tracked: I also tracked when I went to barre, if I meditated, and if I tipped myself during the month (the amount I saved in May with that app was truly astounding since in theory I like to save something with it every day but that doesn’t always happen).

I’m going to keep using the app for other things I want to track too, even if I get rid of the screen-free evening goal tracking. Foam rolling post-workout and stretching are things I should absolutely do more, and maybe I’ll be more likely to do them regularly if I’m tracking those, too.

One of the first pieces of personal finance advice is to start tracking your spending, so apparently goals and new habits are no different!

Barre goals

I also was aiming to get back in my workout routine and go to barre at least three times a week. That…did not happen. But it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

I was busy over the month with extra shifts at my second job and with a fair amount of travel. There were days I wanted to work out but couldn’t physically fit it in my schedule (and it’s true I used to work out way more on weekends before I picked up my second job. The shifts don’t pan out well for going to barre beforehand, and I’m not sure I’d want to work out and then spend six hours on my feet after anyway).

I think there were only two occasions during the month where I decided not to go because I was too tired or because I had to write a post and wanted that extra time in my evening so I was only up very late writing instead of extremely late. So that’s a win because most of the time I didn’t go it was a scheduling conflict, not me wimping out.

Here’s me using a photo of flowers from May as a clumsy transition into June

June experiments

For June I’m taking on…nothing. Or at least, nothing new.

I want to actually make it to an average of three barre classes a week this month, which should definitely be easier since I’m doing way less traveling this month.

I’m tired and I’ve been busy, and I hate using that as an excuse. It’s a ridiculous excuse—we’re all busy and tired and that’s not actually a hallmark of a life well-lived. I don’t want to be constantly busy. But I have been busy regardless. I’m behind on so many aspects of my life and I would love to stop feeling like I’m treading water and only barely managing to keep my head up.

I’ve got some things I want to accomplish this month:

  • Finally switching out my winter clothes for my summer ones and getting rid of clothes I no longer wear in the process
  • Continued decluttering
  • Maybe even doing something with the box I have in my room where I corral all the things that are victims of decluttering?
  • Lots of blog admin things, including catching up on responding to comments, which I am ridiculously, shamefully behind on, and I’m sorry about that

I at least made progress on the first one last weekend and finally moved all my summer work shirts and dresses to a part of the closet where I can more easily reach them. I have never waited this long to do this before, and I’m going to blame that on the weird weather we’ve had for months. I’m pretty sure I was wearing sweaters less than a month (okay maybe six weeks) ago before it suddenly jumped up to 90 degrees. I threw all of my sweaters into the dirty clothes basket so they’re at least clean before I put them away for a while, so I’ll pare down my collection once they’ve been through the wash.

So I’ve got some goals for June. But mostly my goal is to get back into a routine and stop feeling so damn busy and constantly behind. For the entire year so far I’ve been constantly surprised at how hectic things seem, but surely next month it’ll be less busy, right? Surprise, that has yet to happen. I’d like to reverse that trend, at least briefly, this month.

7 Replies to “Twelve months of experiments: May 2018”

  1. “we’re all busy and tired and that’s not actually a hallmark of a life well-lived.” Yes! I love this! I’ve also been feeling crazy busy this month, for a very particular reason and it’s so out of the ordinary for me. My workout schedule has definitely suffered. I’m definitely going to try to get better at it this month, but it might be more realistic to wait until July!

  2. Nice! I wanted to take on the no screens before bed challenge, but i haven’t quite gotten around to it yet. I go to bed pretty early anyway, typically between 9-10. So putting down the phone before that feels pretty ridiculous LOL!

    I’ll probably still give it a shot though. Good luck with nailing your June goals.

  3. I love the experiment concept! I am just finding your blog, and have really enjoyed what I have read thus far.

    Experiments are a great way to look at things and you are absolutely right in the importance of tracking things you want to improve upon. Otherwise you (generally speaking, not you Erin 😉 ) become the definition of stupid. Doing the same thing over and over while expecting different results.

    Keep getting after it!

  4. Sometimes it’s best to not have a challenge to work on, it’s called taking a break 🙂

    And I think the no screen challenge is just a small part of an overall better sleep strategy. I’m reviewing the book “Why We Sleep”, and it will be coming out in a little while. It was an eye-opening book for sure

  5. I love the idea of tracking things! I have a monthly check-in where I look over all my goals (currently, save 10k, put 10k towards debt, and read 50 books). I color in charts that track my growth and review the books I’ve read over the course of the month. But I like the idea of tracking smaller changes, too. Like yoga in the mornings, or daily walks. Two things I’m trying (and failing) to manifest in my life right now. What app did you use?

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