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Information Overload

Feel like you are taking on too much information? I bet I am not the only one feeling we are trapped in this hyper informational dystopian age when you have all the answers at the touch of a screen. We are bombarded with these subtle messages from many sources, from our phone, and tv to social media. Realistically can you block out this assault to the senses – of course not, but you can certainly implement strategies to help combat them.

Here are my 5 tips on how to reduce such an issue.

  1. Place an ad blocker on your laptop/computer. This helps eliminate all the advertisements that flash up on your screen. I am currently using AdBlock. It is free and does the trick! Disclaimer: I am far from an IT expert, and this is based on personal experiences.
  2. Place your phone on air plane mode when playing games. This reduces the amount of traffic that pops up on the screen during game play.
  3. A tough one but not impossible try to remove or sell your TV. If you feel you are unable to do this, place the remote control in another room. This will prevent you from mindlessly reaching for it when you jump onto the couch.
  4. Limit your social media use by deleting apps off your phone and instead using them on your personal computer. By switching to your computer, you will limit the mindless scrolling.
  5. Limit screen time before going to bed. Focusing your attention on hobbies such as yoga or painting will significantly reduce being bombarded with these messages before bed.

Hope this helps and feel free to let me know in the comments below how you deal with information overload.

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

Have you stopped reading?

We can all relate to this story. Finally bought that bestselling book, it is neatly sat next to the bed. The first night works an absolute dream, and you read 10 pages. The second night, not so much, and you get in 5 pages. On the third night, you could only handle one page as George from work dumped that silly end of month report on your desk. Now what? Yes, its probably gathering dust along with the rest of them that ‘you will get to sometime.’

“insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”  Albert Einstein

As stated by Einstein himself, if you keep doing the same things, you will not get a different result. Therefore, if you wish to start reading again, you need to change your habits around reading. By changing these habits, you will gradually build up more and more reading hours.

Which brings us nicely on to my recommended reading tips:

  1. Wake up 20 minutes earlier and read with your favorite hot drink. By doing this, you create a habit of reading early in the day, which will prevent you from being rushed as the day progresses.
  2. Small steps – Slow and steady wins the race. Don’t expect to sit down and read the whole book in one sitting. Start with reading 5 to 10 pages per day. This will help you build momentum and that habit, which is required for long term reading.
  3. A pretty obvious one, but make sure you enjoy the book! Don’t just read it because everyone else has. If you don’t enjoy the book, this will link to you not enjoying reading, which will turn you off the idea. It is ok to put down the book and change it for another. Personally, I read about 25% of the book (easy to measure with a kindle!) before I decide to keep on reading or replace it.
  4. Set up a reading area. This does not have to be the fancy reading corners you see on social media. This can be any area in your home, in which you can get comfortable and enjoy the experience.
  5. Be accountable. Try to link up with a friend who may read the same book. This will give you more of an incentive to read it, so you chat and discuss when you next meet up face to face or over zoom!

I hope these tips help you in your quest to get reading more and feel free to let me know in the comments below which book you choose to read.

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

Progressive Overload

Yes, the term ‘Progressive Overload’ is a fundamental principle in any form of physical training, but can it relate to life? For those unfamiliar with the term, progressive overload is the placing of higher than normal demands on the human body over a specific period. The rationale is that the body has adapted to a particular stimulus, and needs a new ‘challenge’ to progress. Can this relate to life too?

Now you may be thinking, ‘What is he on about!’, but hear me out. The basic principle of progressive overload is about being better, no matter what we are talking about. So should we try to implement this in our lives? So the idea is no matter what task, strive to be 1% better every day. Now the question is are you ready to implement progressive overload in your life?

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

The Morning Routine

Morning routines? – what are they, are they needed, some may say yes, others no. However, today, I will talk about my routine so you may get some ideas if you are contemplating beginning one yourself. This is not to say you should follow this exact routine, the critical thing is to do whatever sets you up for the day ahead.

In regards to waking up, I try to get up between 6-7am each morning as I feel I have wasted the morning if I get up any later than that. Usually, this is followed by the making of morning coffee along with a quick clean of the kitchen. This idea was proposed by James Clear in his fantastic book ‘Atomic Habits.’ James suggests that try to follow a habit directly after another (the cleaning of the kitchen after making the coffee). This is followed by sitting in a reading corner, located in our room. We did not have this corner before lockdown, but this time at home has really opened our eyes to the importance of having one.

Now the routine really begins, it starts off usually with a guided meditation using the 10% Happier app. It is an excellent app as it has various levels and times which can suit every individual. This is followed by listening and reading the daily stoic podcast and book. These are both by Ryan Holiday and would definitely recommend if you are interested in stoicism (like myself). These are only a few minutes long and are great with your morning coffee! The final part of my morning routine is 20 minutes of reading. This typically various from texts in stoicism such as Meditations, Letters from a Stoic, etc. to other non-fiction books that I may be currently reading.

In total, the routine takes about 45 minutes as I like to take my time, but this can be easily cut down to 30 minutes. At the moment, this routine is going well as I am currently based at home, but when work returns, I may have to adjust it. I hope this gives you some ideas in regards to what you could potentially do in your morning routine and feel free to let me know what your morning routine involves in the comments below!

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

Essentialism – What is it all about?

You may or may not have heard of the term ‘Essentialism,’ a term popularised by Greg McKeown in his excellent book ‘Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less.’ The idea behind the book is to focus on only the essential aspects of your life and being more selective with our time. You may think that now may not be the best time to think of this, but it may well be the best time before the hustle and bustle of post-COVID kicks in.

“If you do not prioritize your life someone else will” – Greg McKeown

The book is broken down into four sections (Essence, Explore, Eliminate, Execute), which helps us understand how to implement essentialism in our lives. Greg explains that the current world “we live in where almost everything is worthless and a very few things are exceptionally valuable.” People struggle with implementing essentialism way of life as they keep holding on to the belief that everything is important. Which makes your wonder, do you hold everything in your life at equal importance? Maybe worth thinking about when you are stuck in the office at 10 pm doing ‘important work’ with your family at home waiting for you.

The point Greg is making is that you cannot have it all, you can’t be the ‘yes man’ to everything, even if you really wanted to. He leaves the readers with one final point.

“Whatever decision or challenge or crossroads you face in your life, simply ask yourself, what is essential?”

“Eliminate everything else.”

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

Want to read more from the blog?

Is social media a positive or negative influence?

Now, this post will open a can of worms, which can lead to many discussions, but ultimately the question boils down to ‘Are you using social media to your advantage to enhance your life’ or are you using to get away from life for a bit. Furthermore, before I go any further, I would like to say that I believe there is a place for social media in our personal and professional lives, but it is how you use it the tricky part.

An excellent book by Cal Newport called ‘Digital Minimalism’ has opened my eyes in regards to this topic. Cal pointed out that the average modern user spends around 2 hours per day on social media, and other related messaging services. This idea of zoning out and mindless swiping being the main culprit.

“Humans are not wired to be constantly wired” – Cal Newport

Cal recommends a digital declutter – a 30-day detox off social media (all optional technologies), and try to reconnect with other activities and behaviors which one would find satisfying and meaningful. After 30 days, he recommends gradually implementing some of these optional technologies back into your every day and determine if it brings you value.

You now may tell yourself – ‘I’m not on it that long, it is only a few minutes a day’ so I do not need to detox. These devices have been built to be addictive and time-consuming, so you may be on it longer than you think. Could you be doing something else with your valuable time?

 So, you really need to ask yourself are you really only on it for ‘a few minutes’ or longer.

More of your time = More money in their pocket 

The point is, social media is not the problem; it is how you use it.

Food for thought.

Till next time, Stay Stoic,

SSC

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And so the journey begins…

Here I am, writing my first blog, never thought I would, but here we are! Might as well get through the formalities before getting onto the good stuff. I am an accredited strength and conditioning coach who has worked in the fitness/sporting sector for about 15 years. Coaching experience has ranged from my native sports of Gaelic football and hurling back home in Ireland, to elite-level strength and conditioning for track and field and football (soccer) in the UK. Having learned a lot on this coaching journey since coming to the UK, this leads us nicely onto the rationale for this blog.

Not only having a deep interest in strength and conditioning, but I have also developed an interest in areas such as minimalism and stoicism. These have greatly help me in my everyday work, and I wish to pass that onto you. So the objective of this blog is to talk about everything strength and conditioning from book reviews and academic journal articles, which may help with your work to talking about areas such as stoicism, meditation, and minimalism and how you can apply it to your life.

Before we get ahead of ourselves, I am still learning a lot of this and by no means an expert (glad I cleared that one up!). Therefore, many of the areas we talk about here are still quite new to me, so we will be learning together! I suppose let’s get on with the show, and enjoy the ride!

“Begin – to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished” – Marcus Aurelius