Do you promise yourself that you’ll just check your phone for one thing but twenty minutes later you’re still scrolling away?
Does that happen at night, thus delaying your bed-time and screwing your sleep?
Do you burn your precious energy feeling guilty about whether you’re a good parent or if you should have helped your colleague at work today?
Do you frequently feel overwhelmed and spend too much time turning in ever decreasing circles?
I was spending too much time on my phone
A few months ago, I was spending far too much time on my phone. My favourite place to stand and scroll is in the corner of the kitchen. I’d check the BBC News website then wander over to Facebook or Twitter.
My window of time to read a book before bed frequently disappeared. If something piqued my imagination it often kept me awake for up to two hours while my brain churned around it. Even though I knew that I risked screwing my sleep, I still picked up the phone. All the time.
Last October I did the Time Genius course with Marie Forleo and heard this tip. Two words – “I don’t”.
Immediately I knew what this new rule would be:
“I don’t look at my phone after 8pm”.
Using the phrase “I don’t” puts you in charge of your choices. It is scientifically proven to make self-talk eight times more effective than saying “I can’t”.
For example, saying “I can’t have cake” immediately makes you want it and you feel deprived by not having it. Saying “I don’t eat cake” puts you in the driving seat. You are choosing behaviours that serve your goals.
I implemented this new rule straight away with my phone and saw an immediate improvement in my sleep quality.
The other course participants also raved about how adding these two simple words to their bad habits produced instant results.
Let’s look at overwhelm
It is very easy to get bogged down as you juggle work, family commitments and finding time to write. This is a perfect recipe for overwhelm.
Saying “I don’t do overwhelm” won’t make all of those problems disappear but they do tell your subconscious that you’re not going to react in a negative way anymore. You are more likely to look for different solutions, make different choices or just give yourself a moment to breathe and re-group.
You can’t always change your circumstances but you can change how you react to them. This preserves your precious energy for activities which are more important to you.
What impedes your writing?
What are the blockages that impede your writing? Is there anything you can say “I don’t” to?
Obviously, you can’t ignore your children or your other responsibilities but it may help you to find a bit of wriggle-room.
Here are some examples:
I don’t look at email before I’ve written 500 words.
I don’t consume before I’ve created.
I don’t do doubt.
I don’t watch more than three Tiktok videos per day.
I don’t play Solitaire on the computer until I have written for an hour.
I don’t do guilt.
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What habit would you love to change and what’s your new “I don’t” rule?
Since drafting this article earlier in the week and posting it here on Substack, last night I realised that I have a new mantra - “I don’t do doubt.”
In the last few months I’ve taken quite a few plunges into the unknown with this newsletter, my novel writing and other aspects of my life. Sometimes I’m crippled by doubt. But all that does is make me feel miserable, small, whiney and tired.
So I thought I would take some of my own advice (!) and try “I don’t do doubt.” In not doing doubt it means that I take action and have faith in it. It means that there might be more practical steps I can take to ensure I’m doing good stuff. I might need to ask for help and seek feedback on my writing. I might need to stop doing some activities or pivot and try something else. It means leaning into my Buddhist practice even more as this is all about banishing doubt and having conviction in our own power and potential, and in other people’s.
On one hand it is daunting to say “I don’t do doubt”. On the other, it’s necessary. And it opens a whole new world of possibility. I’ll keep you posted ;)
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