Tom Jepson Creative

Making Micro Changes


I think about change a lot. Constantly-moving dynamics of work; fluctuations in life that, despite our best intentions, throw spanners in the works more often than we'd like. I've thought about resisting change versus being adaptable; burying our heads in the sand versus being perceptive and reactive.

For me, change is nearly always good (unless it's a massive tax bill that causes a negative change in my bank account!). I like to believe - ever the optimist - that the majority of things in my life are subject to change and, more importantly, subject to changes which I can affect.

This said, I want to share some 'micro changes' - the incidental shifts in behaviour or scenario - which I've begun to enact in my day to day life.

Sleep

I used to be very good about getting plenty of sleep. Then we had children and that went to the dogs. The need for the creative mind to get proper rest and important, restorative sleep is well-documented. I've been forcing myself - a positive change! - up to bed around 9pm every night. Since my day begins around 5:30am, having lights out by 10pm gives me some chance of getting 7 hours of good sleep.

Phones and iPads don't come into the bedroom (my tech at least - my wife's a little different on that front!) and TV generally stops around 8:30pm. I read and sometimes listen to music to let my mind unravel and wander. It's a slow process to reintroduce these kind of behaviours but, when I am truly well-slept, everything (and everyone!) is generally better for it.

Coffee

Closely tied to the sleep thing, I've changed my daily coffee routine. For me, coffee is not a 'must have before I can function' drink - it's a meditation. It's a small break away from anything digital that puts me hands-on with raw materials and a tactile, delicious outcome.

The only downside is the caffeine. I read recently that the half-life of caffeine is much longer than I originally believed ... some 5 hours. When I was drinking a cup of coffee in the morning and then another later into the afternoon, I could have been going to bed at 9pm still quietly amped from my afternoon brew!

So, I've changed the routine. I'll now have a first cup earlier in the day (since the morning routine in our house has undergone a macro change giving me a good hour to make and enjoy a coffee before the day gets going) and then a second cup a small number of hours later when I want to get into a productive headspace. Having the comfort of unwinding in the process of making the coffee before I begin the days' work is also proving to be positively impactful on the day.

Letting Go

You could say that this is a macro change - something more life-changing than just going to bed a bit earlier or not having coffee after lunch. I often find myself in a place of conflict with the activities I want to do in my downtime: there's a constant fear of missing out, despite not being beholden to anyone other than myself.

I have made a conscious effort to learn to let go. If I'm tired or my head feels too full, don't force something new in there! If I'm feeling creative but my mind and body are totally worn down, I put myself into a rest state and acknowledge that it is OK to be like that.

Letting things go and allowing myself room to breathe - enacting micro changes and being a little kinder to myself and the world around me - is helping improve my mental state, my ability to focus, and my enjoyment of everything else in my life. Like the butterfly wing beating in the wind, small changes can have some of the biggest impacts.