How Ten Minutes Quiet a Day Could Make You Richer

Find ten minutes in your day to sit quietly

You may remember that last month I had some money left over and I bought four books, with the promise that I may review some of them. One of the books was Rich Habits Poor Habits by Tom Corley and Michael Yardney. I first came across Tom Corley on the Afford Anything podcast. He undertook a study looking at the differences between rich people and poor people. This involved observing and documenting the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 poor people. The book, which summarises his findings, outlines 30 habits of successful people.

Tom Corley’s tenth habit of rich people says that successful people are masters of their words and emotions. They do not fall prey to anger, jealousy, excitability, sadness or other petty emotions. They understand that negative emotions cause them to make bad decisions that result in bad consequences. They replace these bad emotions with positive emotions. When faced with a difficult situation they think, evaluate the situation and then react. On the other hand, unsuccessful people let their emotions rule their behaviour. They easily become depressed and feel as if they have no control over their lives. They react before thinking. 

The tenth habit reminded me of Brooke Castillo’s teaching. If you have been reading my blog from the beginning you will know that one of the things that I enjoy doing is listening to podcasts. As well as those about financial independence I have also started listening to personal development podcasts, including Brooke Castillo’s ‘The Life Coach School’. One of the very first episodes talked about the impact of our thoughts on our feelings. Her theory, which is not her creation apparently, but which she has taken from elsewhere, is the following:

  • Circumstances are neutral
  • Your thoughts about the circumstances create your:
  • Feelings, which determine your:
  • Actions, which influence your:
  • Results

A somewhat silly example, which shows how reacting before thinking can cost you money, is that one of my colleagues told me that when a bolt on his wheel snapped as he was trying to change the tyre he threw the spanner in anger and smashed one of the car windows. Obviously this meant that he had to pay to get it mended. His inability to control his frustration caused him to act rashly which led to even more expense than a snapped bolt.

I was then reminded of some of the teachings of the late Stephen Covey who wrote ‘The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’. This was one of the first self-help books that I read. It is a book that requires in-depth consideration and repeated reading. There is so much to learn from his teachings.

His first ‘habit’ is to ‘Be Proactive’. He says that between stimulus and response is our greatest power – the freedom to choose. According to Covey, it’s not what happens to us that matters most, but it is how we respond to what we experience in life. He believes that highly proactive people do not blame circumstances, conditions or conditioning for their behaviour. Their behaviour is a product of their own conscious choice based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feelings.

Each of these authors leads me to the same conclusion, which is that in order to be more successful and happy in life we need to gain control of our emotions rather than just have a ‘stimulus-response’ reaction.

One of the ways in which you could achieve this is, I believe, through the practice of meditation. In my experience it is not the act of meditation itself, but the impact that it has upon the rest of your life. I believe that it creates a calmness and increases your ability not to follow your gut reaction in circumstances which face you each day. This can help on a financial level as you don’t automatically resort to buying yourself something when you have a bad day.

By reframing what has happened and controlling your emotions you can take charge of your life instead of being pulled this way and that by whatever happens to you. When I started meditating I used ‘Headspace’, but it eventually just became paying a subscription to listen to silence for ten minutes. I then read ‘Bliss More’ by Light Watkins, who I had heard interviewed by Dr Chatterjee and now I just set my phone timer and sit quietly for ten minutes. I don’t chant or do anything special. I try to take some deep breaths and concentrate on different parts of my body, attempting to relax. Often my mind wanders and thoughts about the day ahead interrupt my concentration, but according to Light Watkins that is completely normal.

It may feel a bit weird at first, just sitting with your eyes closed for ten minutes trying to focus on nothing, but what have you got to lose? It’s free and you might just feel the benefit. Maybe start with five minutes, or even two and then gradually increase the time.

So how about giving it a try? I would love to know how you get on and if you feel any benefit from it.

And if you enjoyed reading this post I would love you to subscribe.

Twelve Frugal Actions – a day in the life of a frugal person

Put a dressing gown on when I got out of bed

I had woken up in a house where the heating had only just come on. We don’t run it through the night. I am always colder than Mr Simple so I have a blanket on my side of the bed. If it is really cold I wear socks in bed – very sexy I know!

Made a cup of tea using tea leaves in a tea pot

A pack of loose-leaf tea from Tesco’s at £1.29 for 100g lasts for ages.

Read a library book

If you aren’t a member of your local library, you need to join today. Basically, it is free entertainment. There is also internet access, activities for children and they also run courses – all free of charge. You are paying for it through your taxes anyway, so use it.

Reading in bed is a daily treat – even better when it’s a library book

Washed using all Tesco’s own brand toiletries

Facial wash £1.50, shower gel 28p, toothpaste 50p. For some reason I cannot find some of these products on the Tesco website, but came across them on the shelf in the store.

Wore clothes I wore yesterday (and maybe the day before as well)

This follows the recommendation of Laura Vanderkam, the time management queen, who says that to save time cut down on washing and wear things more often. At nights I usually put my blouse or t-shirt on a hanger and my jeans on the chair next to the bed. I wear things more than once and jeans I might wear for several days.

Save time and money on laundry by wearing clothes more than once

Put a handkerchief in my pocket

Instead of tissues I have cotton handkerchiefs that you can wash and keep using for years.

Served breakfast on ‘heirloom’ crockery

Some of it is from our parents and grandparents, some from a charity shop when I was a student 30 years ago. Breakfast is not so frugal as it includes avocados – if anyone has any tips about buying avocados cheaply I’d be grateful to know. If I could grow them I would.

Prepared food and drink to take with me for the day

Made a flask of coffee, filled my water bottle and put last night’s dinner in a Tupperware box to reheat in the office for lunch.

Drove my nine-year-old car to the office

It has nearly 100,000 miles on the clock, but fingers-crossed I can keep it going for a little while yet.

Bought petrol whilst I was in the vicinity of the cheapest petrol station

As I was passing Tesco’s petrol station on the way home, although the tank wasn’t completely empty I still filled up as otherwise I could end up having to buy petrol somewhere more expensive.

Ate a home-cooked meal

Mr Simple made a meal from scratch for us. We eat mainly vegetarian food which is cheap and good for you.

Watched Freeview TV

We have never had cable, so have not had to ‘cut the cord’. If there’s nothing on we just turn it off and do something else.

So what does your typical day look like? How do you incorporate frugality into your daily habits? I would love to hear.

Creating a Morning Routine

According to Laura Vanderkam, learning to use mornings well is what separates achievement from madness. Before the rest of the world is eating breakfast, the most successful people have already scored daily victories that are advancing them towards the lives they want. Successful people have priorities they want to tackle or things they like to do with their lives and early mornings are the time when they have the most control of their schedules.

Not all hours of the day are created equal

Photo by Aphiwat chuangchoem on Pexels.com

In her research Laura Vanderkam found that people who were serious about exercise did it in the mornings. At that point emergencies had yet to happen and they would only have to shower once. New research into willpower is apparently showing that tasks that require self-discipline are simply easier to do when the day is young. When you’re on a diet it’s unlikely that you will tuck into that packet of biscuits for breakfast, but come the afternoon your willpower may be waning and you may struggle to resist them. For successful people regular activities develop into habits. Getting things down to routines and habits takes willpower at first, but in the long run conserves willpower.

Five Steps

From studying people’s morning habits, Laura Vanderkam has learnt that getting the most out of this time involves a five-step process:

Track your time

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

Part of spending your time better is knowing exactly how you’re spending it now. Write down what you’re doing as often as you can and in as much detail as you think will be helpful. While you may be thinking specifically about your mornings, try tracking a whole week. The reason to do this is that the solution to morning dilemmas often lies at other times of the day. You may be too tired in the mornings because you’re staying up late. But if you look at how you’re spending your nights, you’ll notice that you’re not doing anything urgent or particularly enjoyable. A TV programme can be recorded and watched later – possibly while you’re on the treadmill at 6.30am.

I have worked out how much time each activity takes so that I know what I can fit into my routine. When you can be confident that you have enough time to do what you want to do, you don’t need to rush and can relax and enjoy your morning.

Picture the perfect morning

After you know how you’re spending your time, ask yourself what a great morning would look like for you.

Think through the logistics

Map out a morning schedule. What would have to happen to make this schedule work? What time would you have to get up and what time do you need to go to bed in order to get enough sleep? Can you get to bed by that time?

Build the habit

This is the most important step. Turning a desire into a ritual requires a lot of initial willpower and not just for the first few days. Start slowly. Go to bed fifteen minutes earlier and wake up fifteen minutes earlier for a few days until this new schedule seems doable. Choose one new habit at a time to introduce. Chart your progress. Habits takes several weeks to establish, so keep track of how you’re doing for at least 30 days. Once skipping a day feels like you forgot something you’ll know you’ve got a habit and can take your ritual up a notch.

Tune up as necessary

Life changes and so can your morning routine. Tune it as you need.

Ms Vanderkam’s takeaway message  – the hours before most people eat breakfast are far too precious to be blown on semiconscious activities. Make yours meaningful.

So have you got a morning routine? If not and you try this out, I’d love to know how you get on.

The Longevity Plan Chapter Five – Find Your Rhythm

For me this means having a routine. I am a creature of habit and love routine maybe more than most. I find it comforting. Some people seem to enjoy living chaotically and stumbling through the day from one crisis to the next, but I like to know what to expect. I don’t find it boring; I find it calming. From the moment that I wake up I know what is going to happen, as I have a morning routine and I look forward to each part of it. Every evening I plan the routine for the next day. I can’t do the same each morning as my work pattern varies. Sometimes I leave the house at 8am and other days I can log on to my computer at home at 9.30am.

Waking Up Slowly

Photo by Free Photos.cc on Pexels.com

My day starts when my sunrise lamp gradually lightens the room. Sometimes this wakes me up, other days it takes the alarm to do that, which is actually the radio coming on. The dulcet tones of Mr Humphrys arguing with a politician on the Today programme is my choice of listening in the morning.

Every day starts with a cup of tea in bed – you may be able to guess that I don’t have children! This used to be a weekend treat, but now it happens every day. Monday to Friday I make the tea, but on the weekends I get to stay in bed and my other half makes it.

Whilst drinking my tea I read a non-fiction book; at the moment it is A Life Less Throwaway by Tara Button, founder of the website, Buy Me Once.

If I have time I exercise. This is usually a short jog on the treadmill. If I don’t have time I just shower. Before I leave the bedroom I turn back the duvet to let the bed air. I don’t agree with the recommendation that you should start your day by making your bed, because my understanding is that you sweat in the night and you need to let the bedding and mattress dry out. I would say that it is actually unhygienic to make your bed straightaway.

Quiet Time

I always have ten minutes sitting in silence. I am not sure whether I would call it meditation, as I don’t think that I have mastered that art. I sit with my eyes closed and try to concentrate on my breathing. Thoughts come and go and sometimes things that I had forgotten come into my head or solutions to problems dawn on me. Other times I can’t focus and I give up before the timer goes off on my phone to say the ten minutes are up. Then it’s breakfast time before I start work for the day. Whilst eating my breakfast I read emails on my phone.

Sunlight

Dr John Day recommends getting outside into natural light, especially in the morning, but at some times of year it isn’t light in the morning! He believes that it is incredibly effective at adjusting our circadian rhythms. Sometimes I think so many of these things would be easier if I lived somewhere warmer and sunnier, rather than in Wales where we’re more likely to have torrential rain or fog than sunshine! Maybe I need to try to incorporate this into my routine once the warmer weather comes or just move to the South of France – one day maybe!

Making the transition from work to home

As you may guess I have an evening routine as well. When I come home I get changed out of my work clothes and straighten the duvet now that the bed has had the day to air. Even if I work at home for the day or am there for the afternoon, I don’t get changed into my evening clothes until after I have logged off for the day. It is a psychological thing. Once I am in my tracksuit bottoms I am off-duty. I cook dinner, listening to iplayer, usually a comedy from Radio 4 Extra; some light-heartened entertainment helps to pass the time.

We are very unsophisticated and dinner is usually taken on our laps watching TV. We rarely have puddings and so we treat ourselves to a square of dark chocolate after dinner. I usually spend time on my computer, reading emails, catching up on social media and working on my blog. I also review the day and plan the next morning.

Bedtime

Photo by Kaboompics .com on Pexels.com

Dr Day states that fundamental to establishing a good rhythm is to get plenty of sleep i.e. seven to nine hours. Me, I like to be in bed with my head on the pillow by 10.30pm. After computer time I may watch a little bit more tele if it’s not too late, but about 9.30/9.45pm I’m upstairs, doing my ablutions – as my other half calls them i.e. brushing my teeth, washing my face, etc. Then I spend 30 minutes reading fiction. By this time of day I am too tired to read a non-fiction book and immersing myself in a story about other peoples’ lives helps me to wind down before sleep.

Obviously there are days when this doesn’t all happen. At weekends I don’t always have my quiet time. Breakfast can be a very leisurely affair drinking coffee and doing a crossword. If I am going out for the evening there is no routine, but on the whole this is how life is and l love it.

Your Routine?

So what are your daily routines? Do you even have a routine? If not, have you thought about starting one? What would be your ideal routine? I would love to know.

If you are thinking about starting a morning routine I would suggest checking out the recent post by Radical Fire in which she tells you about ‘The Miracle Morning’ by Hal Elrod and how she has used that to shape her routine. It might give you some ideas.

Be In Motion

In chapter four of ‘The Longevity Plan’ Dr John Day states he believes that a life of constant, but not overly taxing movement, using every muscle group in our bodies, is a model for the very best kind of exercise there is. This should include short bursts of more strenuous activities. He believes that we are designed to be in movement all the time.

Photo by MockupEditor.com on Pexels.com

For me the challenge that I face is that, like most of the population, I earn money by sitting in front of a computer for much of my day. Our modern lifestyles meant that we are mainly sedentary creatures. The message from Dr Day is that although doing some strenuous exercise during the week i.e. going to the gym or for a jog, is of benefit, the best thing that we can do for our health is to be on the go most of the time.

My own pattern is that I tend to spend Monday to Friday either sitting in front of a computer, sitting in the car or sitting talking to someone…as you can see there is a theme here! The weekend is fortunately a different matter. As I don’t have a cleaner I can be almost constantly in movement doing all those lovely jobs such as dusting, vacuuming, cleaning the toilet. When the weather is warmer there is also gardening to be done and walking up and down the garden gets in much needed steps.

Photo by rawpixel.com on Pexels.com

I really need to find ways of incorporating more movement into my day, but like everyone I find that going out for a walk is much more attractive when the sun is shining and in this current cold weather I just want to stay in the warm.

Dr Day suggests the following:

  • using part of your lunch break to take a walk or bike ride
  • using the stairs in your office
  • parking far from the office door and walk
  • if you must sit, set an alarm to remind yourself to stand every 30 minutes

In ‘The Four Pillar Plan’ by Dr Rangan Chatterjee he recommends what he calls the ‘five minute kitchen workout’. Basically, whilst you’re waiting for the kettle to boil or the rice to cook, do a few squats, lunges or calf raises. That seems much more manageable to me.

Photo by Nathan Cowley on Pexels.com

He goes on to suggest ‘high intensity interval training’ – two ten minute sessions each week. By ‘high intensity’ he means going all out, sweat running and heart pumping. By the end you should be out of breath and unable to hold a conversation for a good thirty seconds. An example he gives is running on a treadmill for one minute and twenty seconds at 4km hour and then 12km per hour (or whatever feels very hard to you) for 40 seconds. This should be repeated three to five times. If my maths is correct that is a maximum of ten minutes exercise.

If you don’t have a treadmill his suggestion is to walk out of your front door and go to the end of your road. From there, walk as fast as you can for one minute. When that minute is over, look to see which house number you’ve arrived at, then walk at a normal pace back to the start. Now you repeat the same sequence, but this time you want to see if you can beat yourself and get to a house further down the road. Try to do this five times in total.

Dr Day concludes by saying that it is so important to stack the deck in favour of motion and the best way to do that is to make it fun. Do the exercises you enjoy doing, because if you don’t enjoy doing it, you won’t do it.

So how do you fit movement into your day? I’d been interested to see how people squeeze this in during their busy schedules. Do you try to be in constant motion or is short bursts of intensive training your thing? Maybe like me it’s just the vacuuming workout on the weekends!