I’ve been experimenting with smart lighting and a unique watch to get more control over my schedule and bedtime – for a major productivity and night’s sleep improvement.
It’s not easy to get quality sleep and remain productive in our frantic, noisy, 24/7-online reality.
Good sleep and being productive are connected, and optimising one of the two, you’re automatically enhancing the other. And if you, like me, have to juggle around appointments and commitments for work (or business), family life, social life, personal projects, hobby and healthy habits, time becomes a most painfully scarce resource. During my 30 Day Birthday Challenge past May I’ve come to appreciate the two helpers I’m going to talk about today.
Time Management Challenge Number 1:
So Much To Do, So Little Time
We all have read, and some have even implemented, the following tips and tricks to really master our day:
1. don’t just start your day or week with no plan at hand;
2. schedule only the half of your day;
3. make your to-do lists highly specific (so for example, don’t write “learn French”, write “Research French learning apps”, “Get a French learning app by Friday”, “Set up a schedule for learning French” – see the difference?);
4. don’t mix your dreams (“be fluent in French”) with your goals (“become business fluent in French to get a promotion”);
5. set reminders;
6. create accountability;
7. don’t check email/ social media constantly, close your email client except for scheduled email time slots – and here’s one particular tip from me: don’t start the Skype app if you have no calls scheduled;
8. don’t think you can multitask, because nobody can – however I’ll make an exception for such solid multitasking combos as brushing teeth and practicing pliés or watching tv and massaging your face;
9. schedule time slots for specific tasks
– and more in the likes of that.
But if you’re anything like me, meaning – you like to fill your day with projects and commit to things because they’re so exciting and you believe that you somehow can stretch each hour, you’re likely following all of that advice. And it’s still not helping (much).
So the solution to the time management problem often lies not just in good planning, for paper doesn’t blush, and neither do calendar apps.
The solution to this lies not in regaining control over time either, which is physically impossible unless maybe for Dumbledore and Doctor Strange, but in our ability to track time and to see exactly how much time is left for our endeavours of each given day.
Instead, I found that one watch’s face could redefine, even reframe, the way I experience time.
Enter the Slow watch.
Less Precision = More Life
Let me point out the main feature of this relatively new German brand of Swiss-made watches right away:
The Slow watch has a 24 hour dial, with the smallest readable time unit being 15 minutes.
Yes, that’s right: 15 minutes.
After the initial confusion, I began to think. So who do I know who’s wearing a watch for precise time anyway? No one. Not a single person. Everyone’s got a smartphone! A watch today is a luxurious status statement or a fitness tracker, but it’s not actually seen as a modern time instrument anymore. Such is the disruptive power of new tech.
So while you still can buy an expensive one-of-a-kind bejewelled masterpiece, it would probably impress a lot more people if you wore a precious universal equinoctial ring dial on a string. ‘Round your neck. Like a Steampunk warrior monk crossover… But I digress.
With the Slow watch on the other hand (pun intended), the concept of a day’s hours is so clear and raw. Can you see the beauty of it yet?
What I felt changed as soon as I was donning this stunning piece of black-on-black metal was the calming realisation that I do overlook the whole day. Lunch time was no surprise anymore, if you know what I mean.
Of course it’s not a challenge to read a watch, be it digital or automatic, of course I can set up reminders on my iPhone to keep track of time and my to dos, but I found that the simple sensation of seeing the whole of a day on my wrist has helped me really feel time. A day’s worth in hours becomes so much more palpable – for all of us who love to see and touch things to really get them, I think this is quite a find.
If you are curious about the specs, the Slow Watch comes in three designs, 38 mm Slow Jo, 34 mm Slow Mo, and round Slow O, ranging from 230 to 300€, with an extra variety of nylon, leather and metal straps and bands (30-80€) that you can purchase individually. Discover all models on the Slow Watch website/ online shop. The model I’m wearing is the gorgeous rock star of the range, the less vintage-y looking 38 mm Slow Jo 03 All Black Steel. Although I’m now beginning to think that the rose gold metal straps look just as terrific…
Time Management Challenge Number 2:
The Notorious Night-time Time Void
Have you noticed that after dark, all things take ten times longer than anticipated?
Brushing your teeth can end up in a 40-minutes project, “quickly” checking off a forgotten chore will cost you 60 minutes straight, and don’t get me started on “just quickly checking Facebook/ email/ Instagram”. Not at night. Time is strange after dark.
Most of us know that intense exercise or anything overly stimulating in the afternoon and evening – playing video games, watching or reading something very exciting or thrilling (I’m guilty as charged: hi there, 2016 all-season The Walking Dead marathon, intense workout) – makes our heart rate and adrenaline levels rise a lot, inhibits our slow down mode. We know that too much blue light from our smartphones and other devices can prevent sleep. Enjoying tea or coffee after 2 pm can leave us agitated for hours, and ultimately, sleepless.
If only there was some sleep assistant to remind you that it’s time to unwind, time to turn off the smartphone, the tablet and the tv! Is there anything that can possibly help you stay on track, preferably without any annoying push messages? Something intuitive? Please!
Ok, Gus, without slapping my face?
I found one app-and-lighting combo particularly efficient – even though it was not originally designed with time management in mind.
Enter Philips HUE – the intelligent LED light system.
Save Electricity + Let Time Work for You
HUE is described by Philips as “personal wireless LED lighting”. I use it to create timing aids.
But first things first. What is HUE, how do I use it to optimise my time management, and what’s the benefit of LEDs?
Basically, HUE is a system connecting LED light bulbs and letting the user control them wirelessly either on the go or in an automated way with self-defined routines, saved to the HUE app on your Apple device (look up Android specs on the Philips site). You can design light using intuitive colour pickers and pre-set light menus. The Philips HUE lighting system comes packaged in kits that allow for white or colour lighting. Kits contain LED light bulbs, each with guaranteed 25.000 hours lifetime, and the starter kits come with the so-called “bridge”, a wireless device able to manage a max of 50 bulbs and 12 Philips Hue accessories.
And if you’re wondering how eco-frienldy LEDs are, they are in fact quite “green” and energy-efficient. Where traditional light bulbs waste 90 percent of consumed energy on heat, LEDs hardly get warm; while energy-saving (CFL) bulbs are special waste after some 10.000 hours lifetime, LEDs, that can have up to 50.000 hours lifetime, once finish, are household refuse.
I’ll be brief here because I want to discuss all the options, the strengths and weaknesses and how-tos of the HUE system in my APPS&TECH series. So let me be really quick here and just give you four scenarios that show how this thing helps me make the best out of my day: