Sunday, January 10, 2016

New Years Lifehacks

Let's face it, people rarely keep their New Years resolutions because most of us choose resolutions that are unpleasant. Lose weight, exercise more, work harder and longer hours, and so on. It's not that these are bad choices but we choose them because we don't really want to do those things. No wonder people normally give up on their resolutions only a short number of weeks into the year.

Last year I decided to try something a little different. Instead of a typical New Years resolution to do or not do something major, I made a small, easy to keep, change to my normal routine in the hopes of improving my life. Isn't that really the goal anyway? I had gotten into the habit of listening to talk radio during my commute and found the constant hopeless negative energy was really started to affect my mood.  I was wasting 1.5 hours of each weekday making myself less happy. So to kickoff 2015, I decided to make better use of that time. But instead of a resolution like "learn German from a set of CDs", I just decided to listen to podcasts and pre-program a mix of educational, news, and entertainment content.  With a smartphone and a good podcatcher app, this is a simple change but one that has truly been 100% positive. And on days I'm sick of podcasts, I stream music but I always avoid the radio if I can.  No news and absolutely no talk radio.

My morning commute is now filled with technology news, science discussions, engineering lectures, and the occasional comedy podcast to lighten my day. It's these type of changes that I've sometimes heard described as "lifehacks", small changes to improve our well-being. In a future post, I'll list some of my favorite podcasts and why I'm such a fan. But for now, I want to discuss my next planned lifehacks.

For 2016, I want to work on starting my day earlier to give me more time in the morning to walk my German Shepard, something I love to do.  Problem is, I have always had trouble waking up in the morning, especially during the dark mornings of winter. In the summer, I typically wake with the sunrise which gave me the idea for something to try. My solution? I purchased a Philips HF3510 Wake-up Light, an alarm clock that simulates the sunrise and eases me into wakefulness. I love it!  I now wake feeling more rested and never hit the snooze button.  Of course, my dog loves it as well since we get more time together in the morning and I have more energy to start my day.

I have some other changes planned and I'll share them later. I would also be curious what small positive changes others have tried and how that's played out.  But remember, I'm not giving up coffee, chocolate, scifi, or the occasional piece of red meat.

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