What do you want to do every day? Creating daily habits


, , , , , , ,

Towards the end of last summer I realised that I was drifting through my days and wanted to change that. I was waiting for other people to do things first, before I did what I wanted to do. Which meant I didn’t get to do them. So I had a rethink of my daily routine and worked out a few things that I wanted to change. New habits that I wanted to start that would help me be more productive.

daily habits

As I know that our habits are what make or break us achieving our goals. They either provide the bedrock for building on, or sabotage us. To change your behaviour you need to first change your habits. What small things can you add to, or change about, your daily routine that will help you? I thought hard about what changes I wanted to make, and also how I would track doing them.  I found that my daily goals fell into different types – some goals needed to be done at a specific time of the day (ie when I got up), some with specific people, & some can be fitted in more flexibly at almost anytime of the day. And as with all goals they work better when they’re SMART then you can be certain that you’ve met them.

Keeping a record of how I’m doing, even if it was only for myself, helps me actually succeed once the initial motivation to change has waned. To enable me to do that I found a daily goals app to use on my phone. There are a huge number of different apps that can do this, so you can choose whichever you feel suits you. I choose one because I liked it’s choice of graphs for how you’re meeting your goals, and the fact that it was free. Free is always a winner for me! It doesn’t have a paid option and there are no annoying ads they just want you to pay to get rid of. It’s fairly simple and that’s why it works. There are many apps available that do the same thing, so the choice of which you use isn’t what matters. The fact of using one, and so thinking about the changes you want to make, is the important thing. Looking now for a daily goals app there are far more than there were six months ago, when I started tracking a list of things every day. So the basic idea of tracking habits every day is key, and I will try to keep my discussion general rather than about the app I’m using specifically. They all work on the same basic principle, so it’s a question of choosing which one you like the look of.

The first thing you need to do is to choose things you want to do every day. Eight or less works well, as you don’t want too many. You can set them for every day, or only some days a week, i.e. not weekends. Then the app tells you how many you still have to do today as a number on the corner of the app icon on your home screen. I find this a really useful feature. As every time I look at my phone (which is far too often!) I am reminded of how many I still need to do that day. You can also set an alarm for each goal, if you want a specific reminder at a certain time.

Then the statistics side can tell you how well you are doing in achieving your daily goals. On the app I have it tells you your total percentage completion each day, and you can also look at completion for each goal separately. And there’s a calendar view too, as shown in the picture. I like numbers and stats, and this gives you an idea of how well you’re doing with each new habit. From my quick view of the different apps available the statistics is an area with more differences between the different apps.

One idea that’s really grown on me in the last year is the one of small habits. The idea that you change little things, and they build up incrementally over time. And that you should celebrate achieving it. Do a happy dance. Fistpump. Or whatever feels right to you. And for me ticking things of an electronic checklist is a good way to have a mini celebration that I’ve achieved that thing. I’m not sure who first came up with the idea of small habits, or mini habits, or tiny habits, but the premise of starting small makes completely changing your life more achievable. This means that you are eating the elephant one bite at a time. The smaller the habit is that you want to start, the easier it is to integrate it into what you already do every day. A good place to start finding out more about this idea is with BJ Fogg’s TEDxFremont talk.

Then once you feel that the habits are ingrained, or aren’t working out, you can rethink and change what you have in the app and add some new ones.



, , , , ,

I’m reading Harry Potter in Dutch at the moment. (I may have mentioned this before!) And I keep noticing places where the translation is not just the words, but also the cultural expectation. I’ve mainly noticed it with the food they eat. The story of Harry Potter is very rich with details of many things, including the food. And for many of these they have been changed into typical Dutch things. At least I think they have because I don’t believe that in the original Hogwarts serves stroopwafels! We don’t have a copy of the first Harry Potter in English so I can’t check what he does actually eat, and I don’t remember, but I’m sure it must be something more typically English than stroopwafels.  (As an aside if you haven’t tried one you should. They’re delicious, especially after sitting over your tea or coffee for a minute or two so the caramel in the middle goes gooey.)


I was also amused by the bit when the Weasley brothers all get Christmas jumpers with their initial on. In the English version Fred and George then tell Percy he has to wear his because it has P for Prefect on it. Of course in English Prefect and Percy begin with the same letter. Whereas in the Dutch they tell him that it’s got a K for “klassenouder”, which doesn’t make sense as his name is still Percy.

It is fun to read though, even if I don’t understand absolutely every word. It also makes me slow down reading, as in English I read too fast. So I think that I am appreciating more of the subtler parts of the story than when I read it in English. Or at least, the sounds of all of the words anyway!

I’m featured!


, , , ,

I have a few times contributed to the 10 minute novelists drabble competitions. This is a challenge to write a 100 word story using three set words or phrases. And each story has to have a start, middle and end – so it is a whole story, which is surprisingly tricky. And one of my entries has now been featured in the No extra words podcast. I’m very excited to be featured in this, so thank you Kris and Katherine for providing me with this opportunity!

How did I become a runner? 


, , , , , , , , , ,

I have done running before – some at university and some before I got married. This culminated in a 10km run with my husband a few months after our wedding. After which I swore I’d never run so far again and I stopped completely.

HOW did i become a runner-

And now, partly thanks to my activity tracker I’m running again. Not far, and at most twice a week. But I’m running. And I’m enjoying it. I’m even choosing to spend some of my precious time without the children going for a run.

So I’m trying out some of the different options my watch has for running. They’re a bit hidden in the app and you need to set them up there (or on a computer) and then sync to the watch. As you can’t change the settings for them on the watch itself. If anyone’s interested to find them they are in “Device Settings” – “Activity Settings”.

The options you have are:

  • Basic run – just turn it on and go
  • Intervals – you can choose two time periods, which it calls “run” and “walk”: both have to be multiples of 30 seconds. It gives you a warning as the end of each time period approaches so you can speed up or slow down. Obviously you can choose what speed you do for the different time periods and aren’t limited to running and walking.
  • Pacer – choose a pace and it tells you if you go outside the window round that pace. I haven’t tried this one, but I’ve played around with the settings. It is a bit confusing to work out, as in the app it asks for what speed (kilometres per hour) you want to run at, whereas the watch shows you the pace (minutes per kilometre). It’s not that difficult to work from one to the other, but you do need to be aware of the difference, otherwise it ends up wanting you to run far faster than you anticipated! As I haven’t tried this one out I’m not sure how close to the pace you need to keep to keep the watch happy.
  • Time/Distance/Calories burnt – this sets a target in one of these and it tells you when you’ve got halfway and then when you’ve achieved it.

On top of all of these options you can also add a heart rate zone alert for your run, so when you are outside the selected range of heart rates (either too fast or too slow) you get warnings. I found this worked well with either the basic run setting or the time/distance/calories target. With the others you end up with far too many notifications from the watch and it gets distracting. You can either choose one of your heart rate zones, as defined in the app, or set your own. And in the watch you can choose between these, although to edit what the ranges are you need to use the app. I found running with the heart rate zone alert on spurred me to go faster, to stay in the zone.

Some points to note is that you can’t include a warm up or cool down period, so whatever setting you choose for the pacer or heart rate you will immediately start getting warnings that you’re not reaching it. And the intervals will start straight away.  You can either choose to ignore the warnings for the first and last period, to allow you to include those. Or only start the activity when you’ve warmed up and stop it before you cool down. As long as you’re consistent so you can then compare across different activities.

With one of the more serious running watches you can set more complicated workouts, for example with differing time periods of activity over the run, or intervals based on distance, not times. But overall I think that this offers enough for the hobby runner (like I’ve somehow become) to get a bit more out of running. Between the intervals and the heart rate zone target I can have a varied enough workout regime for what I want to do.


Paris… with children 


, , , , ,

I love Paris, it’s a beautiful city with so many things to do and see. We went there for our honeymoon. During that trip we bought a painting of Paris, which hangs on the wall by our dining table. So everyday the children see the Eiffel Tower. 

And now we’ve just come back from our first trip to Paris with the children. (Eagle-eyed people may have spotted the Eiffel Tower in the background of the photo on my post about wearing glasses.) Visiting with children gives you a different view of the city. There was less sitting in cafes watching the world go by over a patisserie. Instead we found some good parks and play areas for the children to run round in. And we found the lady who painted our picture and talked to her. 

And of course we went up the Eiffel Tower – rocket boy was insistent that we did. Fortunately we were with my sister, as the wheelchair was sent to the front of every queue. We happened to go there on the day that Greenpeace climbed up the tower to hang a banner, so the queues were quite long while they sorted that out before letting everyone up! Being up the tower essentially on our own was a real bonus. 

Thanks to this list of things to do in Paris with children we explored new places too. The science museum was brilliant as it has a whole area for children to play in. I had actually been there years ago on a school trip so was pleased it was as good as I remembered! 

We also met up with some friends who were in Paris to watch the ice hockey World Cup. And it was lovely to catch up with them, though a shame we had so little time with them in the end. 

This was only really our second trip out of the Netherlands since we moved here, taking advantage of our European location. (Trips back to the UK and by plane don’t count!) Which has been a bit remiss of us really. While we have explored some of our local area, we haven’t done many forays further afield. And I have a whole list of places in the Netherlands I want to see, as well as neighbouring countries. So something to plan for the rest of the year now!