Bureau: From the desk of Amanda Hamilton

Meaningful Rituals for a Better 2020

Feb 2, 2020

We don’t want to call this a blog – it feels very… 1997. We won’t be dishing just Interior Design advice because there are ideas we want to explore, experiences we want to share and topics that deserve reflection. So, if you are looking for design advice, ring us up at the studio but the good stuff you find here is free. Welcome to Bureau… from the desk of well, Amanda. Unapologetic, unscripted + likely only lightly edited.

The top of a new year and most definitely, the passing of a decade, tends to ignite contemplation. I’ve grown to loathe the idea of the proverbial New Year’s Resolution because many well-intentioned goals end up failing after three weeks and then the self-laothing sets in. We convince ourselves that next week will be better – or the 1 st of the month, or Monday or 6-weeks out from that vacation we booked – we will be better instead of considering that each new day is an opportunity to start again.

I’ve often been asked, “how do you do it all?” and while I’m not an expert on the subject, 2019 found me diving into a lot of books dedicated on developing rituals and the science behind forming and most importantly, keeping habits. I want to share some of the favourite rituals I have developed over the years that have not only enhanced the quality of my life but have also proven to be fantastic tools to manage a very full schedule.

1. Schedule All Travel for the Year in Advance
Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to lay down funds for all of your travel on the 1st of January but booking time off in your schedule in advance will ensure you make a concerted effort to get away. I highly recommend having a vision in advance for your destinations for the year or at a minimal, consciously booking dates in your calendar to fill in with travel in the future. Personally, I have found travel to be incredibly invigorating and when I feel the most alive. Through travel I become a better friend, mentor, boss, designer, partner + human when I’m given the gift to explore myself creatively through travel. A few tips to start:

Book Retreats Four Times a Year
I like to align these with the end of each quarter as I set quarterly OKRs (aka Goals) for each of my businesses and for my personal life. Retreats are generally 3-4 days and can be either solo + self-led (my preference) or with a group led by a facilitator. I like to go with a pre-determined focus and schedule that I follow strictly to maximize my time and output of what I am working to produce from my retreat. I’ve spend past retreats working on my book, projects related to business development or just brainstorming strategy. On one occasion, I did a retreat with a friend and it resulted in idea sharing and a great conversation in a Jacuzzi (a story for another time.) This March, for my first retreat of 2020, I’m locking myself up in a little Captain’s shack on the beach in Port Angeles with no electricity or WiFi. These trips do not need to be expensive – they just need to provide you with uninterrupted focus and attention.

Plan a Minimum of One Vacation per Year
It doesn’t matter where you go but don’t be the person cashing in all of their vacation time on December 31st . It doesn’t take a doctor to know that burn out is real.

Create a Destination Wish List
I’m constantly trolling new destinations, cool Air BnB’s and anywhere I can indulge in really good local cuisine. I keep a hit list of future destination in my notes on my phone and slot these when my schedule allows.

2. Update your Docked Apps
Be the boss of your phone and update your docked apps to allow for apps that are going to help you become the best version of yourself (yes, I just said that). I can’t speak to anything other an iPhone (#SteveJobsForLife) but most of us – until now, I hope – are blasting around with four of the following permanently docked in our phone: iMessage, iCal, Safari/Chrome, Instagram, YouTube, Netflix or Snapchat. iDon’t iKnow iAbout iYou but these apps can be massive distractions.

This year, I’ve moved all of my frequently used apps into a “favourites folder” to make it more annoying to access and replaced by docked apps with Podcasts, Audible, Whoop and the Waking Up Meditation App by Sam Harris. It’s already working – I’ve listened to far more podcasts + audiobooks since I did this. Whoop measures my strain, recovery and most importantly sleep and I’ve been obsessed with making sure I hit a minimum of 2-hours of REM each night. The Waking Up app has been a great reminder each day to take a moment to stop + reset.

Other Phone Tips

  • Move your phone from colour to black and white. There is data to support the fact the lack of colour in apps like Instagram will reduce the effect on your pleasure centre and therefore reduce your desire to aimlessly use these apps.
    Settings > Accessibility > Display > Text Size> Colour Filters > Greyscale. I used to know how to create a shortcut for this but I’m sure some tech savvy person can help you with this.
  • Turn off all of your notifications. Yes, all of them. ALL. OF. THEM. No banners, no notifications on locked screens, nothing. And while you’re at it, keep your volume off – always. If you must keep the vibrate function on due to the nature of your profession or for other urgent reasons, keep it in your pocket so the incessant buzzing isn’t distracting to others. Personally, I don’t think we need to be available every millisecond of every day and the expectations of others of on us to do so seems highly unreasonable. (Remember when we had flip phones or no phones? We seemed to get by just fine) You decide when to address your emails, texts or calls. I did this nearly a decade ago and it felt insane at first – if that’s how you feel, you are doing it right and you’ll thank me later.

3. Set Up Your Week
How many times have you been rushing around, short on time, angry and frustrated because your running behind and you can’t find your keys, forgot to pack your lunch, don’t have time for breakfast or didn’t realize that crisp white shirt you planned to wear at today’s pitch meeting was at the drycleaners? You rush out of the house, not mentally prepared for the week ahead. This used to be me and to be fair, still happens from time to time. You can only be angry at yourself for not being prepared + setting yourself up for the week ahead. Some of the habits I’ve put in place to reduce the chance of this happening:

Meal Prep
Every Sunday, without fail, I go to the butcher, market + grocery store to pick up the ingredients I need to prep meals for most of the week (I often have to do another prep on Wednesday evening to keep things fresh). Do not go without an organized list as this will make the process way faster and ensure you don’t forget anything. Even if I’m not using the ingredients right away, I like to pre-prep what I can to make dinner time a quicker (and cleaner) turn around. If you are still using plastic Tupperware, read up on this and serious consider switching over to only glass containers. If possible, try to go local,
sustainable + organic.

Clothing Selection
This is a new habit I’m working to form but I’m confident it will significantly cut down the stress of getting dressed in the morning and also the massive mess of clothes that inevitably pile up on the chair in our walk-in closet. By pre-selecting clothes on Sunday, it forces you to consider your schedule, the weather and ensure that what you have planned to wear is cleaned, pressed + ready to go for you in the morning. I’m pretty jacked on rolling this out for 2020.

Mind Sweep + Week in Review
I look at my calendar more than any other app on my phone. By reviewing my week on Sunday, I can better prep and ultimately reduce a whole lot of stress that comes from not being prepared for a meeting, conversation or social event. Some of the tools I use can be found in the book Getting Things Done by David Allen. These can be done for both work and personal and include:

  • Mind Sweep of projects that require attention or follow up, reviewing requirements for upcoming events, financial obligations, social events, household chores, errands and my favourite personal development (which I also schedule in
    each week)
  • Getting your Inbox to Zero. This feels like a never-ending task but the book provides some outlines on how to manage this influx of information + requests for response.
  • Reviewing calendar + next actions list and making sure that tasks are scheduled right into your week. I’ve found that my ability to follow through with and complete tasks increased dramatically by simply ensuring I’ve put the time aside in my calendar. I put EVERYTHING in my calendar – even showering. I know this sounds crazy but I’ll be doing a future post on Block Scheduling as it helps me create an ideal week.

This is a very brief overview of some of the rituals I’ve developed over the last couple of years and as such, I’ve included a few of my favourite books in case you are obsessed with hacking your schedule as much as I am.

  1. Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones by James Clear
  2. Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity by David Allen
  3. The 5 AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life by Robin Sharma
  4. Sleep Smarter: 21 Essential Strategies to Sleep Your Way to A Better Body, Better Health and Bigger Success by Shawn Stevenson
  5. The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg
  6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
  7. Own the Day, Own Your Life: Optimized Practices for Waking, Working, Learning, Eating, Training, Playing, Sleeping and Sex by Aubrey Marcus
  8. Mastering the Rockefeller Habits: What You Must Do to Increase the Value of Your Growing Firm by Verne Harnish
  9. Measure What Matters: How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs by John E. Doerr
  10. The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran
  11. The Bullet Journal Method: Track the Past, Order the Present, Design the Future by Ryder Carroll

Written on flight UA 8640 enroute to Las Vegas to speak at KBIS while listening to Brittany Howard’s recent album Jaime.

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