Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Rethink Screen Time In Terms of 3Cs: Consumption, Creation and Connection

Yesterday I was listening to the latest podcast episode of The Happiness Lab: good screens and bad screens. This episode features guest Catherine Price, the author of How to Break up with Your Phone.

She provided some good tips on how to make the best of screen time during the pandemic, as we're all hunkered down and reduced to screens for work and communication.

Catherine also mentions how she thinks about her screen time. She thinks of it as 3 Cs: Consumption, Creation and Connection.

This is intriguing to me.

I can't help but wonder what the percentage of my screen time goes to each of the C. It's evident most of my time is in consumption: reading news, blog articles, watching Netflix/YouTube/AmazonPrime, and surfing Chinese-language forum, taking online courses, and checking Instagram feed (as mentioned in a previous post, I deleted Facebook in 2013 and never looked back, though I still kept Instagram and Twitter).

Next, Connection. Catherine didn't define what she meant by connection. I assume it's using the phone to connect with other people. It probably includes text messages, phone calls, FaceTime chat, email, etc. Catching up with acquaintances on Facebook also counts, in my opinion. I spend maybe a couple hours a day on Connection, between texting my friends, video chatting with my family in China, and emailing with my professional connections.

The last bucket: creation. This is what gets me thinking. I always feel some sort of imbalance in the way I use the Internet. It's hard to articulate. Just feel like something is missing and not quite right. Then it dawned on me yesterday that it's the lack of using screen time for creation. Some people might never feel need to create. But with the amount of input I take in everyday, I felt a genuine desire to share out my perspective with others. Creation can take so many different formats: blogging, podcasting, exchanging view points on forum, etc.

The thing with using the smartphone is that it's a great device for consumption, but no for creation. At least it's hard for me to compose a blog post or anything meaningful on the small screen.

I might spend the new few days brainstorming a few screen time creation ideas and share back!

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Weekly Recap - 4/13/2020-4/19/2020

Officially I'm entering 39 weeks of pregnancy. The end is in sight. I certainly have mixed feelings about this. For the last week or so, friends and families have been checking in to see if the baby arrives. Folks are especially concerned because of the COVID-19 pandemic and worried the hospital would be overrun. Fortunately, that doesn't seem to be the case in the hospital I'll deliver at. The only new restriction is they only allow one visitor in the maternity ward (aka my husband), and we can not leave the place after being admitted.

This week again went by fast. I continue to appreciate having a few routine tasks to structure my day. So everyday I:

  • Walk 10,000 steps or exercise to close the Move ring on my apple watch. Most of the walk is done on my treadmill. The weather seems to be either too cold or rainy for an outside stroll. 
  • Read WSJ. I subscribed the the print edition of WSJ using my American Airlines mileage (not that I'll be able to use mileage for travel any time soon...). I was able to download a PDF version on my Surface Pro so I read the newspaper while walking on treadmill. The coverage is mostly on COVID-19 so it gets a little overwhelming sometime. This is my daily dose of news and prevents me from refreshing news sites every hour.
  • Meditate for a few minutes at night. I got into the habit of meditating right after I brush my teeth at night. This behavior is inspired by the book Tiny Habit. According to the author BJ Fogg, there are 3 components to a habit: motivation, ability, and prompt. I interpret prompt as the cue that triggers a behavior. For example, you fasten the seat belt right after getting in the car. It's a powerful yet often underestimated tool for developing habit. So I use "brushing my teeth" as a prompt to develop the meditation habit. I brush my teeth everyday, and I'm usually by myself in the bedroom. So time and place-wise, it's perfect to mediate for a few minutes. Another key point I learned from the book is start small, REALLY small. So I started with one minute of meditation. Eventually I worked up to 8 minutes. Sometimes I only do 5 minutes. But the key is to DO the behavior consistently. Now I'm proud to say I'm on a 20 day streak of meditation!
  • Try to do one different activity to add variety to the day. Yesterday I baked a banana cake. The other day I was making a photo album on Shutterfly's app. Though everyday routine provides structure, variety keeps mind fresh.
  • Read. Right now I'm reading the historic fiction Fall of Giants by Ken Follett. It's a thick book of more than 800 pages. The book is so gripping that I'm working through it quickly on my Kindle. The library is closed during the pandemic. I do miss the feeling of real books. But Kindle version is logically the preferred choice for affordability, portability and hygiene reasons...
So that's the weekly recap. An exciting week ahead awaiting. Amid the enormous uncertainty of COVID-19, I'm mostly wondering when the baby is ready to meet the world. It's normal to wonder I guess. I also know I will probably miss all these quiet moments once the baby arrives. 

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Thoughts This Week

So here goes the second week of the maternity leave, before the baby gets here. A rather productive week that I accomplish:
  • Daily practice of Jordan Harbinger's 6 mins networking course. It's a simple exercise of reaching out people I haven't spoken in a while. In the last two weeks, I spoke to a few acquaintances that I lost touch with in the last 2 years. It's really a great feeling to say hi and learn about what they're up to. There are other exercises in his course, such as reaching out to a person you don't know but admire. That's going to be my goal for next week.
  • We packed hospital bags, a second time. I packed some stuff during week 1. But now we learned we can't leave the maternity ward after being admitted (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), we need to bring more backup stuffs. So we ended up packing two suitcases (one check-in size and one carry-on), and two duffel bags. 
  • I mediate every single day. I downloaded this app called "Insight". It's a free app offering lots of great guided meditation. Meditation is something I always wanted to pick up. Tried a few times but never make it a habit. Thanks to this app, I've been meditating (though as little as 2 or 5 mins) for 12 days in a streak. I couldn't say I see a clear benefit yet - I'm on leave so my stress level is pretty low to start with. But I start to enjoy the serenity and peacefulness it brings. My goal is to gradually increase the length of each meditation session. 
  • I continue to read books. This week I finished "Tiny Habit" and will be finishing "Pachinko". Both books are great reads. "Tiny Habits" is about how to scientifically develop good habits and get rid bad ones. Some of the ideas are very novel. For example, the author suggests you start "very small" so you could start the behavior with little to no resistance. He gave the example of flossing one tooth to start the habit of flossing daily. "Pachinko" by Min Jin Lee, on the other hand, is a historical novel following a Korean family who eventually migrates to Japan. I learned a lot about Japanese and Korean culture. The storytelling is captivating.
Also, friends and families have started to check in on me as I'm getting closer to my due date. No news just yet. We'll see when the little one will be ready to meet the world!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

37 Week Prenatal Appointment & Random Thoughts

Today I went to my 37 week prenatal check up. Unlike two weeks ago when visitors were still allowed, there was a notice on my doctor's office that only allows the patient herself to go in. So my husband waited for me in the lobby area. It was a quick appointment so it's fine.

At the same time, all providers and staff members are wearing face masks. I'm all for these precautions for the safety of both healthcare workers and patients alike.

Now it's really the countdown. Hospital bags are packed. Doylestown Hospital, where I'll be delivering, still allows the partner in the maternity ward. But he couldn't go in and out. Once we get there, we probably wouldn't be able to leave till the baby gets here. So we decided to pack some extra stuff to bring to the hospital, just in case.

I'm supposed to do the 30mins Machine Learning course right now. But definitely experiencing the afternoon slump so couldn't really focus. So I decided to push that to tomorrow and write this post instead!

I tried to follow a routine everyday but flexibility is always a possibility:)

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Weekly Recap - First Week of Maternity Leave During Social Distancing

The past week was the first week of my maternity leave. I'm super grateful to be provided with a couple weeks' of downtime before the baby comes. Secretly, I am worried about how I would handle it - I'm so used to a fast-paced work schedule, especially after the last two years working on a highly visible project. 

Now one week into my break, I'm happy to announce it's going well so far. Reflecting on this past week a little, here's what I've done:

1. Develop and stick to a new routine. 

Now that I'm on maternity leave, I no longer have to wake up at 6am to fit in a quick 30 mins workout before heading out to work (of course, this was before social distancing and WFH kicked in). But I find it essential to develop a routine/schedule everyday and try to abide by it. It gives the day a bit of structure.

Usually I would wake up before 9am (what a luxury - trying to squeeze in the last bit of sleep before the baby comes). The morning is usually spent on taking some online courses / doing some exercises, while the afternoon is for reading newspaper, going for a walk (outside if it's a sunny day, or on the treadmill if it's not), getting baby stuff ready, and preparing dinner. 

2. Doing something mentally challenging everyday.

It's still important to keep the mind sharp even I'm not really "working". I've been taking the Stanford University's Machine Learning class on Coursera. I like it because it's wildly different from the brand management/marketing I do at work. Machine learning taps into lots of math and calculus. I've been good at Math, but haven't really studied any math since graduating from high school! That's probably why I find the class quite refreshing and interesting. Your mind needs variety and change. Plus, understanding basic machine learning algorithm will prepare myself for the new age of artificial intelligence.

In addition, I started the 6 Minute Networking course from Jordan Harbinger. One of my developmental areas is networking. I find this class very well designed and action-oriented. Most importantly, it feels genuine and authentic. It's simply about reaching out to folks I haven't spoken to in a while. I've reconnected with several people that I haven't been in touch with for a long time and it's good to catch up (especially during this unprecedented time!)

3. Keep up the exercise.

Since I'm in my 3rd trimester, I can only do some simple exercises, and not for an extended period of long time. I do three 30-mins exercise / movement every day. One in the morning - which is usually a bit more intense (though my heartrate doesn't really go over 140...), such as elliptical where I get my heart rate up slightly. Then two 30mins sessions in the afternoon and evening, usually 1-2 hours after the meal. For these sessions, I simply walk on the treadmill at a slight incline, while reading the newspaper or watch some TV shows. The walking sessions don't really count towards "exercise". They simply supplement the more sedentary lifestyle we're unfortunately reduced to while staying home all day. Of course, I feel incredibly lucky to have both the time and resources to do this (we have both elliptical and treadmill in our basement - bought them at a discount and got so much use out of it!). 

But thanks to constantly moving around, I have good energy throughout the day and am able to almost close my Move ring on my apple watch everyday! 

Will check back next week to see how things are rolling!

Postpartum Support Group

Today I attended the first postpartum support group zoom meeting. It's a great experience. I wish I had joined it earlier. Most particip...