18 things to do while the tea is brewing

18 things to do while the tea is brewing

18 things to do while the tea is brewing

I love a good cup of tea or coffee. In fact, I make sure to have several coffee or tea breaks during the day. And while I wait for the coffee or tea to brew, I try to use the time to either do some smaller, daily chores or some pleasant activities that could brighten my day.

Here are 18 things you could do in the 3-5 minutes it takes to brew a cup of tea:

  1. Cut some fresh flowers from the garden and put them in a vase in your bedroom so that you can wake up to the smell of flowers tomorrow morning.
  2. Do a set of squats, push ups or sit ups.
  3. Wipe down tables and counter tops.
  4. Water the plants.
  5. Put on some music and dance.
  6. Send a loved one a lovely message.
  7. Clear away toys, papers, magazines or whatever it is that tends to multiply around your house.
  8. Empty the dishwasher.
  9. Fluff up the pillows.
  10. Take out the rubbish.
  11. Pick up the mail.
  12. Do some breathing exercises.
  13. Delete unwanted pictures from your phone.
  14. Read a poem.
  15. Call someone.
  16. Clean a hotspot in your home.
  17. Jot down ideas for future writings or blog posts.
  18. Write a listicle – like this one. 😉

Now go and enjoy your tea.

Sneezing in the September Sun

Sneezing in the September Sun

Apparently, it takes between 4 and 10 days to recover from the common cold. Which is a good thing, as I am now on day 9 …

There is something so wrong about having a cold at the same time as we’re experiencing what must be considered an autumn summer here in Scandinavia. Whereas my instinct tells me I should be nursing the cold under a woollen blanket with a hot drink in my hand, the weather is telling me to go outside and enjoy this glorious sunshine that’s taking us all by surprise.

Usually, this would have been the time of year when we start preparing for the cold, Scandinavian winter: stocking up on candles, buying a heap of wood, changing over the wardrobe from summer to winter attires. But instead, I’m still wearing my summer dresses, applying sun cream and having iced drinks by the gallon.

I am so congested at the moment that I’m gasping for air just walking upstairs, so my regular walks and daily micro-habits have been put aside for the time being in favour of less lung demanding activities.

In fact, I have been thinking about taking up a practice that has fallen to the side the last six months: curating a capsule wardrobe.

I had been pondering whether or not to do this again for a while now, and when both Jennifer L. Scott, aka Madame Chic, of The Daily Connoisseur and Fiona Ferris of How to Be Chic blogged about it, I realised I really do want to try this again. And what better time to put together an autumn capsule than when I’m still wearing my summer clothes!

And to be honest, sorting out my wardrobe is about as strenuous activity as I can manage now.

Roll on day 11 …

 

Swapping disciplines for delights

Swapping disciplines for delights

It’s summer time and I am swapping my small daily disciplines with small daily delights:

  • picking blueberries and raspberries and eating them as we go
  • enjoying as many morning coffees outdoors as possible
  • watching the morning dew on spiderweb in the grass
  • filling the house with delicat and joyfull summer flowers
  • having to catch my breath as the (not so) cold water hits my chest for that the first dip of the day in the sea
  • marvelling at butterflies and dragon flies
  • listening to the birds singing as the day is ending
  • burying my toes in the sand

What are your summer delights?

How one single push-up can make all the difference

How one single push-up can make all the difference

Can you get strong by doing one single push-up? Surely not.

What if you did that one single push-up a couple of times a day? Every day?

What if you after a while found you had enough strength to do two push-ups? And then five? And then ten? And twenty?

Small disciplines can lead to great changes. And if you combine small disciplines with tiny habits you can transform your life (should you want to – you might be quite happy where you are, thank you very much).

From tiny to habit
The phrase “tiny habits” were coined by Dr. BJ Hoggs and refers to a method of creating new habits by breaking them down into ridiculously small sizes. This can be the single push-up I mentioned earlier, or flossing a single tooth, writing one sentence, reading one paragraph, tidying one single shelf and so on. You simply make the task so ridiculously tiny that you give yourself no reason to avoid it.

However, you might want to make sure you settle on a “tininess” that makes sense to you. To me, things can get too small, to the point where I cannot be bothered to pull out the flosser if it’s only to floss one tooth (yes, I am that lazy). I would need a slightly bigger section to be bothered to do it, such as the teeth in the bottom left part of the jaw or similar.

– Behavior and behavioral changes are not as difficult as people think. They are systematic.

BJ Fogg

behavior scientist

You also need to be motivated if you are to have any success implementing the tiny habits into your daily routines. If you feel you ought to do something, but you are not really bothered about it, you probably won’t be able to establish a habit.

        TIP! Only implement one or two habits at the time.

Trigger makes the habit
In addition to creating the tiniest task you can perceive yourself doing, you need to find a trigger that will make you do it. This can be anything, although you will probably want to work with some logical sequences such as “after I get undressed for the evening, I will remove my makeup”.

However, you might also have success making unusual connections, such as “after I put on my shoes to leave the house, I’ll do one sit-up” or “after I’ve used the toilet, I’ll read one paragraph of Proust’s À la recherche du temps perdu”. The quirkiness could make it easier for you to remember to do your tiny habit.

Either way, the important factor is that your new habit comes after an existing and well-established action.

Further resources

BJ Foggs TEDxFremont-talk on Tiny habits

Tiny Habits – the website

BJ Foggs Behavior Model 

How I did it
When I first heard about tiny habits, I went overboard and wanted to change it all – and change it now! I was creating sequences for exercises, for drinking water, for taking my vitamins, for flossing a tooth, for tidying up my hot-spots. You name it, I tried it.

Unsurprisingly, it didn’t go very well. There were simply too many new things for me to remember.

So I scaled back and settled on one thing: getting stronger in time for my new baby. And so I started doing push-ups against the kitchen counter after I had placed the moka a pot on the (I was eight months pregnant at the time, I wasn’t going to start doing push-ups on the floor.)

That baby is now a 15 months old toddler and I still use the time when the coffee is brewing to exercise. It is no longer purely countertop push-ups, but rather any type of strengthening exercise I can do in short burst. If the coffee is brewing, you will find me on the kitchen floor doing squats or lounges or hip-lifts or whatever.

The tiny habit has become a regular habit.

These tiny daily exercises haven’t transformed my body, mainly because I am not motivated by the changes in my physical appearance. But I feel stronger in my body, more prepared for the everyday challenges I’m faced with as a toddler mum. And my posture has improved.

Now I just need to get that flossing habit sorted …

Have you tried the tiny habits method? If not, which tiny habit would you implement if you were to try it?

Multitasking the right way

Multitasking the right way

I am a horrible multitasker. I’ll surfe the net while talking to my sister on the phone, or I’ll be waiting for my favorite show to come on telly only to check Twitter as soon as it starts. I end up with only a vague idea of what the show or the phone conversation was about and no idea whatsover what I have just “read”. It’s ridiculous! And science agree.

Studies have shown that people who do media multitasking (like reading this blog while watching TV ), are not able to filter out what’s relevant and what is not. Other studies have shown that there is a time cost involved in multitasking, that rather than being more efficient, you are actually hindering your productivity by attempting to do more than one task at a time.

So why am I still doing it? Honestly, I don’t know. It’s certainly not because I think I am being more efficient, because I know I’m not. It’s rather a compulsion, one that I’m trying to stop, and it’s probably due to my shallow brain.

How to multitask properly

And yet here I am, writing about the right way to multitask. Have I lost it? Nah. Because while the studies bring up valid and important arguments to keep in mind, there are still ways of doing several activities at once without losing out.

The studies indicate that the detrimental effect of multitasking occurs when we shift out attention from one task to another or from one media to another. To make multitasking work for you, you need to avoid this situation. So instead of shifting between two projects, you combine two tasks and do them at the same time.

There are essentially two ways of doing this. You either combine physical activity with mental or social tasks or you utilize forced waiting time to do micro tasks. By combining activities like this, you get to do more in less time, allowing you to achieve more.

Still not sure what I’m talking about? No worries, I’ve made a list of examples of how you could do several tasks at the same time without losing out:

4 WAYS TO COMBINE BODY AND MIND TASKS:

Biking with a friend is the right way of multitasking. You combine being social and exercising in one go.

Have a walk-and-talk meeting.
Studies indicate that lack of movement, whether it is due to you sitting or standing all day, is detrimental to your health. While many tasks have to be done in front of a computer these days, not all meetings need to be conducted in an office. With a walk-and-talk you get to exercise at the same time, plus many find that the movement is beneficial to their creativity.

Go for a bike ride with a friend.
You get to hang out and be social with your mate and you can cross of exercising of your to-do list.

Learn a language while brushing your teeth.
You brush your teeth twice a day (I hope …). Why not use the time to accomplish something more than aimlessly staring at your own reflection in the mirror. Put up a list of French irregular verbs or Spanish nouns or German phrases or whatever language you are trying to learn on the inside of your cabinet doors and go through them every morning and evening when you brush your teeth.

Get fit playing with your kids.
Work up a sweat by dancing vigorously with your kids or chase them around the house or build up strength by using your toddler as a weight. Most kids love physical games, especially with their parents, so they’ll have a lot of fun and you get to have a work out for free.

4 WAYS TO USE FORCED WAITING TIME:

What could you do while your coffee were brewing?

Get strong while making coffee.
When I work from home I make coffee in a Bialetti moka pot. This usually takes a couple of minutes or so to brew. Inspired by Dr BJ Fogg and his tiny habits, I have taken to do pushups or squats while waiting for my coffee. What could you do in the time it takes for your tea or coffee to brew?

Clean your inbox while waiting for the bus or the train.
You might be stuck at the bus stop or train station while you wait for your transportation, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get things done. Delete spam, answer quick e-mails, move others to the archive. Aim for the inbox zero.

Educate yourself while commuting.
Most of us have to commute to work in some form or other. Use the time in transit to learn new skills, get a deeper understanding of a subject or to stay up to date with the changes in your sector.

Keep a book at hand.
Whether it is a physical book, your kindle or an e-book on your phone, having a book ready  at all times makes it easy to catch up on your reading. Instead of flipping through a two year old magazine waiting at the dentist, wouldn’t you rather read something of your own choice?

Are you a multitasker, for better or worse?

5 ways to get your 5 a day

5 ways to get your 5 a day

Did you get your five-a-day today? I didn’t,due to a poorly planned trip downtown. And I knew that would be the case when I had only consumed one portion by two o’clock. You see, I have come to learn that if I don’t eat at least half – and preferably two thirds – of the recommended five a day by lunch time, I just won’t get there.

So in order to ensure I eat enough of the green stuff, I have set myself a daily goal of having something fresh at every single meal throughout the day. It seems obvious, but for someone who used to love her bread and butter (and I don’t mean that in any figurative way …) it meant a change in how I view my meals and also in the way I shop. My grocey basket has certainly become much more colorful and cheerful since deciding to add fruit, berries or vegetables at every meal.

Berries or banana for breakfast

Add berries for a fresh start to the day.

Get your day going by adding fresh berries or sliced banana to your cereal, oatmeal or overnight porridge. You will benefit from the vitamin C in the berries, which will help your body make better use of the iron in your oats or cereal. And as an added benefit, it will allow you to cut right back on any refined sugar that you would normally add.

This has been a game changer for me. For as long as I can remember I have started my day by having a bowl of rolled oats with milk and a spoonful – or four – of sugar. I would start of with a couple of teaspoons of sugar and then slowly, slowly the amount would increase until I got so ashamed I cut right back. And then the process started all over again … But after I started adding fresh fruit or berries to my breakfast, I no longer have the urge to add the refined sugar in such insane quantaties. I usually settle for half a teaspoon.

Not into oats and cereal? 

– Keep it simple, yet fresh, with a fruit salad and yoghurt.
– Make a frittata with sliced onions and peppers.
– Finely grate a couple of carrots and mixed them in the pancake batter.
– Prefer a full English breakfast? Fry up extra tomatos and swap some of the meat with fried up sliced onions and peppers.

Drink it down!

Green smoothie

Green smoothies became all the rage a few years ago, and for a good reason: it’s a brilliant way of getting your veggies. You see, the 5-a-day recommendation is actually a 3+2-a-day, meaning that at least three of the five portions should be vegetables. I like to make a veggie based smoothie in the late morning. This allows me to have a later lunch, which make the stretch from lunch to dinner more manageable.

If you haven’t made green smoothies before (actually, I don’t care what color you make it, I happily stick carrots and other non-green vegetables in there), then I would recommend that you try the 2+2+3 recipe from SimpleGreenSmoothies. It’s as simple as this: 2 measures of liquid (water) + 2 measures of vegetables + 3 measures of fruit or berries. It is simple to remember and makes for tasty smoothies. Later on you can experiment with the ratios. I tend to do a 2+2+2 these days as I prefer to up my veggie intake.

Can’t stomach vegetable smoothies?

– Have a glass of tomato juice instead.
– Have snackable portions of vegetables easily accessible in the fridge: carrot sticks, cauliflower florets, sugar snaps etc.

Have a salad for lunch

Mixed salad as part of the five-a-day.

One of the best ways of making sure you get enough vegetables is to have a salad for lunch. If you have a busy schedule, you can premake salads for the week in mason jars. But try to get creative about it too so you don’t get bored. You can have a nice, big salad with plenty of tasty and crunch garnish as your main meal. Or you can make a side salad to go with your quiche. Or try a cous cous or lentils based salad. You can even make a salad sandwich: spread a thin layer of mayo on the bottom slice, and add lettuce, sliced tomatos, cucumbers, peppers, and spring onions before adding a slice of bread on top. Add a couple of slices of cheese, egg or chicken for some extra protein to keep you going longer.

Sick of salads? Try this instead:

– Make a vegetable tart you can have for lunch throughout the week.

Guess what? If you had followed these three tips, you would have covered four out of your five-a-day by the end of lunch time. Not bad!

Dish it up for dinner!

Roasted peppers, onions and courgettes.

If you have skipped on any of your portions earlier in the day, now is the time to make up for it. Cram as many vegetables in as you can. As a general rule you want as much color as possible. Avoide beige dinners at all cost.

Swap out the potato (it doesn’t count towards the five-a-day anyway) for roasted vegetables as your go-to side dish. You can easily prep them in advance on a Sunday afternoon if you’re short of time. Or reduce (or even remove) the amount of ground meat you use by adding extra vegetables in the dish. This can easily be done in meals such as lasagna, taco, enchillada, chilies and so on. And then, of course, you have all the glorious vegetable based meals you can make: creamy vegetable soups; various vegetable packed stir frys; gratinated cauliflower or broccoli; spinach pie and so on.

Need more inspiration?

– Use carrots instead of potatos when making hash browns.
– Try stuffed peppers (and make sure you add some extra vegetables in the stuffing too).

Make a dessert of it

fruit sorbet as part of your five-a-day

This is my favorite way of making sure I get my five-a-day! If you are anything like me, you might feel a little peckish at the end of the day. Fruit and berries make a perfect snack, of course, but (unfortunately) I rarely get tempted to put my teeth into an apple when sat in front of the TV. But turn those same fruit and berries into a dessert, and hey, I am game!

Make a simpel fruit salad or fruit skewers for the weekdays; prepare a refreshing sorbet for the summer weekends. Get creative and make a strawberry tart. Or keep it low key: put a handful of berries, a banana, and maybe some yoghurt in the blender and enjoy a thick smoothie to be eaten with a spoon.

Got a sweet tooth?

– Try baked pear with honey or an After Eight on top
– Make a Pavlova, and don’t skimp on the berries.

Overwhelmed? Here’s the simple digest:

Make sure you have a little fruit, berries or vegetables with every meal, and you will be OK.

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