Reducing My Digital Usage – An Experiment

Smartphones have made our lives more convenient but they have also made us unfocused and distracted. About 2 years ago I realised that I wasn’t concentrating at work as much as I should be. I was checking my phone regularly for no particular reason at all.

Reducing My Digital Usage

This initial realisation made me do one thing and that was to…

Turn off most notifications on my phone.

I turned off notifications for most social media apps such as Facebook and Instagram. I also deleted a few apps that I was no longer using.

This initial change did help me and the number of times I checked my phone did reduce. I was satisfied with the progress I made, however as time went on I realised that this was not enough.

The problem was that I didn’t know what else to do. I didn’t want to give up my phone entirely and I had already switched off notifications for apps that were the most distracting.

So about one year passed by and I didn’t do anything more about it until I had a random conversation with a friend. My friend told me that he had been doing some research on this topic as he was sick of being distracted and wanted to spend his time on more meaningful things.

We discussed some of the changes he was starting to make in his life. He said he had plans to downgrade his phone to a basic one and use his smartphone for music only. Hence he planned to do all of his online tasks on his desktop computer.

This was a light bulb moment for me!

Why not do more things on the desktop/laptop computer instead of the phone? It made perfect sense and I wish I had thought of it myself.

So that afternoon I took a leap and removed several apps from my phone. I removed every social media app except for Instagram as you can’t use that properly on a desktop computer. I figured I can check sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest on the computer and I should try and limit myself to check these sites 1-2 times a day.

Early Progress

After making these initial changes I did feel bored the first few days. However, I realised that this was because I had extra time on my hands. With a toddler it is a little hard to make use of it as you have to watch them constantly but its certainly better to be more present with them compared to being distracted and checking the phone for the 100th time.

As the days went by I made another big change which was that I stopped taking my phone with me to bed. I usually charge my phone in the bedroom overnight, but now I charge it in the living room instead. Previously the first thing I did when I woke up was check my phone and waste at least 10-15 minutes on social media. I would also check my phone before going to sleep and sometimes start looking up random things if I wasn’t able to fall asleep. This has been one of the biggest changes I have made and has been a very positive one that even my husband has followed me on 🙂

Moving Forward

I’m really happy with the progress I have made so far and it has been a positive change in my life. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing though as I did turn to my phone a lot more when we were moving houses and relocating overseas at the end of last year.

I can honestly say I have definitely reduced the amount of time I spend on social media. I no longer check Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn on a regular basis, maybe once a week if at all, and I probably check Twitter about twice a day. Not having these social media apps on my phone has made a big difference.

Moving forward I want to continue to reduce the time I spend on my phone even more. I don’t want to turn to my phone whenever I feel bored and would obviously prefer to do something more productive with that time.

A few additional things I want to start doing are:

  • Start having a “phone off” time at 9pm every night. Theoretically, starting at 9pm I should start to get ready for bed and not touch my phone.
  • Use the desktop computer to do more digital tasks. I am still using the phone to do things like blogging, pay bills, banking and check emails but I really want to use the phone as less as possible.
  • Eventually delete the WordPress and Email apps from my phone.

Further Reading

Here’s some further reading if you are interested on this topic.

Have you tried to reduce the amount of time you spend on your smartphone and social media? If so, what strategies have you used?


Why I Blog

If I am being honest, I don’t have truck loads of motivation to blog on a regular basis. My motivation wavers and I don’t put too much pressure on myself to write articles as I never want it to become a chore.

This lead me to think about why I blog. I have seen several articles pop up lately in the personal finance domain about what people’s “why’s” are in regards to their finances. So I thought it would be fun to list down my why’s for blogging.

Why I Blog

To Document My Life

My Monthly Recap posts have become a way for me to document my life. When I started blogging I never thought about writing monthly posts, but it has since evolved into a regular thing. I enjoy writing these posts as I can look back and think about what I actually got up to that month and then look back and reflect at the end of the year.

A Hobby

Although when I started this blog I never thought of it as a hobby, it has evolved to be a hobby. It’s not a hobby I love spending huge amounts of time on but it is still fulfilling and fun.

Improve My Writing

I am sure I have improved my writing at least a little. I don’t know how much but I like to think my writing has somewhat improved since I first started.

Share Knowledge

I like to learn things from other people’s blogs so I hope I have shared a thing or two on this blog that has helped someone. It’s nice to have a platform to express my thoughts on a particular subject and also ask for feedback.

Writing Book Reviews

I love writing book reviews. One of my favourite things to do in my Monthly Recap posts is to review the books that I have read that month. These book reviews have definitely motivated me to read more as well.

Making New Friends

Something I didn’t expect was to have was regular followers. It’s so lovely to know that people actually visit this blog and take the time to leave a comment. It makes it worthwhile to keep going.

Final Thoughts

I never started this blog with the intention of making money. You can see that I’m still using the free WordPress template and domain name. I do it just for the fun of it and I don’t put pressure on myself to write regularly because sometimes there is just no time or motivation.

So I am basically not going anywhere. Even if I don’t write for a while, I will come back eventually. I don’t want to ever abandon this blog as it is my little space on the Internet.

So tell me, why do you blog?

January 2018 Monthly Recap

Happy new year!

Not the best start

I didn’t have the best start to the new year as I had to deal with a personal crisis. However, I have decided that there is no point dwelling on what has happened and what could have been. I can’t change what has happened so it’s best to just push on and focus on the future.

Settling in

This month has been all about settling into our new life here in Sri Lanka. It has been a big adjustment and it has not been easy. Early on I was feeling very isolated and unhappy but as time passed things started to get better. I can now say that I am finally somewhat settled. I have hired a maid who comes 2 days a week and she helps with the cooking and some of the cleaning. This has been a huge help considering my now very active and clingy toddler doesn’t let me do very much. She also looks after munchkin for an hour or so (if I am lucky), so that I can have some time for myself.

Meeting new people

Through a chance meeting with a neighbour, I was lucky enough to be introduced to a local mothers group. The mothers in the group take turns to host meet ups every week at their respective homes and this group is specifically for babies born in 2016/2017. So far munchkin and I have attended two meet ups and we have had a great time. He has enjoyed interacting with the other kids and I have enjoyed meeting new people.


January 2018 monthly recap

Getting out of the house and meeting other mums has definitely helped me mentally. If not for this I would probably still be feeling miserable so I’m just thankful that I found this group. It’s funny how I never ended up finding something like this back in Australia and I had to travel thousands of kilometres in order to do so 🙂


I finished reading one book this month. I actually started reading this book late last year but as life got hectic, I never got around to finishing it up until now.

The book I read was:

The rosie project by graeme simsion

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

I loved this book! The author drew me in very early on and it was an easy book to read overall. The book is narrated by the lead character Don Tillman and despite his eccentric ways, he is a very lovable character. I can see why this book was a best seller and the next book, The Rosie Effect is already on my list of books to read.


I did set myself a few goals this year and I was planning to write a dedicated post just for that, however I have decided not to make a big deal out of it. My motivation has been wavering so I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself.

So just for fun I will just list them in this post.

Look After Myself

Since having a baby I have let myself go a little, so I want to turn this around and start looking after myself more. I have been putting everyone else first, but now I want to put a bit more effort into myself. I started making some changes late last year and so far I think I’m doing ok. I have been taking better care of my skin and trying to be more presentable when I leave the house.

Reduce My Digital Usage

I have a dedicated post about this which is coming soon. I basically want to reduce the amount of time I spend on the phone and social media.

Read 15 Books

Developing a reading habit over the last two years is something that I’m really proud of and I want to continue to enhance this habit even more. I only read 2 books last year which was disappointing but this year I want to set myself the goal of 15 books. This might be a small number for some people but it’s a pretty high number for me. However, I think if I stay focused and persevere it’s definitely achievable.

Make an Album for My Son

I have taken so many photos of munchkin so I really need to make the effort to put an album together. I have made the first step of transferring all the photos from my phone to my laptop, so now I’m in the process of selecting the best photos for an album.

Final Thoughts

Although the start of the month wasn’t great, at least it has ended well. I can’t believe I have been living in Sri Lanka for over a month now, the time is going by quickly.

I hope you all had a good start to 2018!

Images: Goodreads, Tumblr

2017 End of Year Review

December mostly revolved around packing up and getting organised before setting off to South East Asia for our extended stay. The country we are moving to is Sri Lanka and we left Australia a few days before Christmas. It was sad to leave home, especially knowing how much my parents are going to miss my son. However I just keep telling myself it’s temporary.

We have been here for about 2 weeks now and I am slowly settling in. The climate isn’t too bad this time of year and as we have family here, we have been getting a fair bit of help which is nice.

Negambo Sri Lanka

Negambo Sri Lanka. Taken just as the sun set.

That said 2017 has not been the best year for us. I was dealt another blow about a week ago and that has just sealed it for me.

Despite this there were a few highlights.

  • Watching my baby grow into the happy little toddler that he is. Raising him has been a pleasure and I still can’t believe he’s one! I’m not going to lie, it’s been hard work but it has also been very rewarding.
  • We travelled to Sri Lanka and introduced munchkin to our families in July.
  • We bought a new house and renovated it.
  • I paid off my student loan.
  • Reduced my smart phone and social media usage. I have a post about this sitting in my drafts which I haven’t got around to publishing yet but it will be coming soon.


I didn’t track our expenses in 2017 as it just became too hard and time consuming. I know we spent a lot of money this year with a new baby and buying a new house with renovations on top. We were also on a single income for most of the year.

Our house didn’t sell which was disappointing, however we are renting it out which means our mortgage for that house is covered. If we had sold we would be in a better financial position.

I would say overall we could have been more careful with our money. In hindsight we probably shouldn’t have bought a house before selling our current house. But that’s life I guess and I don’t have a crystal ball, so we have just accepted that it is what it is.


I only read 2 books this year and I am really disappointed with this. I’m really hoping to turn this around in 2018.

The books I read were:

  1. Baby Secrets – How to know your baby’s needs by Jo Tantum and Barbara Want – Review
  2. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Review


I published 12 posts in 2017 which is not a very high number but considering all the changes I have been through I’m not disappointed with this number either. Here’s hoping I have the motivation to write more in 2018.

Overall I’m glad to see the end of 2017. Here’s to a more prosperous 2018. Happy new year guys!

November 2017 Monthly Recap

November was hectic, stressful and overwhelming.

Keep calm and don’t stress

Here’s what happened.


My son started day care this month for one day a week. The first 2 weeks went well but he does cry when we drop him off sadly. As he is only going for 1 day a week he is not used to the place to be completely comfortable. Unfortunately in his third week we got very sick and I had to go and pick him up early.

Overall I’m glad he is getting exposed to another environment and new people. When we get back from our overseas stay I am hoping to enrol him for 2-3 days a week and hopefully he adapts better but I am worried about him getting sick.

Packing Up and Decluttering

As the renovations on our new house were wrapping up it was time to start packing. I did my best to pack as much as I could whilst taking care of a toddler. The most productive times were when he was sleeping obviously.

I also managed to sell a few household items that I didn’t plan on taking with me to the new house.

  • 5 Seater lounge set – sold for $550
  • Coffee table – sold for $80
  • Dining table – sold for $100
  • Fridge (I had 2 fridges) – sold for $200
  • Old stereo system – sold for $11.25
  • Book shelf – sold for $1

I’m really pleased with this. You can’t complain about making a little money out of items you no longer need.

We Didn’t Sell

We didn’t sell our old house but hey everything happens for a reason right? We will be renting out our old house as a result and we have already found tenants.

We Moved

We finally moved towards the end of the month and it was quite stressful. However we survived and we have managed to settle in well.

My Baby Turned One

I still can’t believe my baby is now one. What a crazy year it has been and he is becoming cuter every day ❤

We celebrated by having his first birthday party in our new house a week after moving. Not the most ideal situation to be in but it went well. The lead up to it was very stressful, but it all worked out in the end and I’m relieved it’s over.

That was my hectic month. To any parents who have kids in day care, how have you coped when your kids get sick? Does it lessen as they get older? Do you find yourself constantly taking time off from your job to take care of them? I’m interested to know about your experiences.

Technology that has made my life easier

In this day and age, new technologies are popping up everywhere. It is difficult to keep track of every cool thing that comes out and in the end there are very few that stay in our lives permanently.

This made me think about the technology advances that have really impacted my life in a good way and made life easier for me.

Here’s my list.


gpsI am one of those people that has no sense of direction. Back before GPS devices were available I remember getting lost at least once whenever I had to drive to a location that I hadn’t been to before. I wasn’t the best at reading maps and I hated driving at night to unfamiliar places because street signs were obviously harder to read in the dark.

I bought my first GPS in 2008 for just over $300 and it was one of the best things I ever bought. It changed my life and I was no longer stressed out when I had to drive to an unfamiliar location.

Online Banking

online banking

I was reluctant at first to sign up for online banking for security reasons. I eventually signed up around 2007 which was when I started exploring buying and selling on eBay. This was the motivator as I needed an easy way to check when buyers had deposited money into my account.

Once I signed up for online banking I realised what I had been missing out on. It was so simple to use and definitely helped me keep an eye on my money and spending habits on a regular basis.



Dishwashers have definitely helped me save at least 1 hour every day which otherwise would have been spent washing dishes. I don’t use mine every day as I don’t have a full load, so instead I lightly rinse the dishes and stack it in the dishwasher and run it every second day. I love my dishwasher and it has been a big time saver for me over the years and I also find that my dishes are a lot cleaner.



I can honestly say that the Kindle has changed my life for the better. I was one of those people that hardly read books and it wasn’t until last year that I started reading books on a regular basis. The kindle played a huge part in this as it helped me access the books I wanted to read instantly and it is also small and lightweight so I can carry it around with me everywhere.

What are the technology advances that have made your life easier?

Images: GarminAmazonClay County BankThe Good Guys


October 2017 Monthly Recap

We got back 2 weeks ago from South East Asia and it’s good to be home, it always is. The trip was ok, we did manage to do two short getaways whilst we were there when my husband wasn’t working. But apart from that I did find staying in that apartment quite boring.

Since getting back, It didn’t take me long to overcome the jet lag but it did take my son about a week. The three of us were also battling colds, especially munchkin. But thankfully we are all feeling much better now.

I also submitted my son’s enrollment forms to his day care. Even though I won’t be going back to work right now, we have decided to put him in for one day per week. I think this will help him to learn new things and play with other kids. He will start in 2 weeks time. I expect the first day to be hard for both of us but after that initial hurdle I hope it’s all smooth sailing.


Housing Update

We accepted a low offer for our current house after some convincing from our agent (eye roll). I wasn’t happy about it and was willing to reject it but my husband gave in. A small part of me was happy that we were finally selling after 2 months on the market but a big part of me was very disappointed.

Then a few days later the buyers pulled out of the sale. I was actually happy about this and felt like the universe was trying to say that we were giving it away too cheap. It’s back on the market now and we are seriously considering renting it out.

If we do decide to rent, we want to rent and then wait for the market to pick up again. When it does we want to put the house up for sale and hopefully sell at a good price. The media is speculating that house prices will go up next year, so fingers crossed that it does.

However, I would still love to sell now and move on. Financially it is our best option to sell and our agent has another 2-3 weeks to make this happen. He seems motivated and confident so I really hope I have some good news to report at the end of November.

The renovations on our new house are progressing well. The kitchen will be getting installed in 2 weeks time, followed by new flooring. After that we need to do a big clean up and then hopefully move in!

Work Update

My request to work remotely when I am out of the country was declined 😦 I am obviously very disappointed and angry with this outcome. The company I work for actually has an offshore branch in the country we are moving to and they still declined my request. I have now been forced to extend my maternity leave for an additional 6 months.

One of the biggest issues I have about moving overseas is boredom and I thought having my work would help reduce that boredom significantly. So now I have to find other things to do keep myself occupied.

Maybe this will force to me look at freelancing or doing short term contract work in the future. I need to do some research and update my resume.

This month hasn’t given me much good news but I am hopeful that some good changes are on the horizon. 

I really need to start being more positive and be grateful for what I have.

I Paid Off My Student Loan

I mentioned in my September monthly recap that I did my taxes for the year and received a refund. Along with that my accountant gave me more good news which was that I finished paying off my student loan. Yay!

To give you a brief insight on how the Australian student loan system (HECS) works, basically the government gives you a loan for your tertiary education at a very low interest rate. The interest rate is based on inflation so it is quite low, I say between 1 to 3 percent. To be honest I never really paid much attention to it, I just knew it was low.

You basically start paying off the loan after you start earning above a set threshold. This threshold has changed many times over the years, if I remember correctly the threshold when I started working full time was around $36,000 and it is now $54,869.

A percentage is deducted from your gross income in every pay cycle towards your loan. You don’t even realise it’s being deducted and you’re essentially paying off the loan in the background. At least that’s what it felt like for me. Every year after you lodge your taxes, the tax return statement specifies exactly how much you paid towards the loan.

My loan was $30,500 in the beginning for a bachelor and masters degree. I don’t know exactly how much I paid in interest as I misplaced some of my earlier statements.

I think it’s taken me about 10 years to pay it off. I could have paid it off sooner by making extra contributions but because it was automatically coming out of my salary and the interest wasn’t high, I just let it happen in the background. I’ve also had a mortgage for over 7 years so it made sense to me to put my money towards that instead.

Anyways, I am thrilled to have finally paid off my student loan!

Above all I am so grateful that the Australian government provides its citizens with an accessible way to get a tertiary education. This education has allowed me to build a career and gain knowledge that no one can ever take away from me. It is a great system and we are very lucky to have it and I really hope it stays for the future generations to come.

Image: Blogarama

September 2017 Monthly Recap

Hello spring!

The weather is getting warmer down here so I’ve been trying to go out for walks with the munchkin when I can. I am enjoying them, it helps clear my mind and he seems to enjoy looking at the trees and the cars driving by.

Being Productive

I would say this month has been reasonably productive as I managed to cross off several items on my to-do list.

This month I managed to get the following things done:

  • Packed and shipped a few boxes containing lots of nappies, formula and other essentials to South East Asia for our upcoming extended stay.
  • Submitted a child care rebate claim with Centrelink.
  • Opened up a bank account for my son.
  • Decluttered my wardrobe and donated a bag full of clothes, shoes and accessories to charity.
  • Lodged our taxes! See below.


Yay, I got our taxes done!

It’s always a relief to tick this off the to-do list. I got a big refund but my husband has to pay around $500 to the tax office. This money will definitely come in handy with all the expenses we have right now.

Housing Update

The renovations on our new house are well on the way. Luckily my husband has taken full control and is managing that project with little assistance from me. I call him the renovation guru because he seems to have a talent for managing tradespeople efficiently. The house is getting a full transformation and I can’t wait to see the final product.

However our current house failed to sell at auction at the start of the month, and it is still yet to sell unfortunately. So far we have only received one solid offer and that was too low for us to accept. I never thought we would be in this situation when we live in one of the most popular cities in terms of real estate in the world. The market appears to have definitely cooled off which is unfortunate for us, but I’m still hopeful that we will sell in the next few weeks.

Work Update

My request to go back to work part-time has been approved so when I return in early November, I will be working 3 days a week. My request to work remotely when I am out of the country is still yet to be approved and they appear to be dragging their feet on this. My manager is fully supportive and it’s human resources and upper management that seem to be having issues with it. I still feel positive that I will get the desired outcome so fingers crossed that this final request gets across the line.


Yes that’s right, I finally managed to read a book!

To Kill a Mockingbird By Harper Lee

to kill a mocking bird by harper lee

The story is based in the 1930’s and is narrated by a 6 year old child who is nicknamed “Scout”. The story addresses many serious issues such as racism, rape and injustice and I can see why it was a groundbreaking book. I expected this book to have a happy ending which it didn’t, but I guess that made the story more realistic and true to the period it was set in. Overall the book kept me interested and I like the positive messages that it projected such as courage and empathy.

Final Thoughts

So overall September has been a busy yet productive month. I am currently overseas for a short visit to South East Asia to set up our apartment and get things organised before we come here again in December. Hope you all had a great month!



Life Changes Coming Up

There are some big changes coming up in the horizon for us which I mentioned briefly in my previous post. There’s a few so I will talk about each one individually.

Life change ahead

Moving Overseas

Albeit temporarily, the biggest change is that we are moving to South East Asia for some months of the year starting in December. My husband is taking a job opportunity as an entrepreneur and we want to be together as a family, hence we are all going.

As much as I want him to take this opportunity it has been a struggle to come to terms with such a big life change. Having to live in two homes in two completely different countries with an infant is no easy task and I also want to go back to work which complicates things further. Needless to say there has been several fights between us but I think we are both over all that now and focused on what we need to do.

I have asked my employer permission to work remotely so I’m hopeful that my request gets approved. I’m also trying to look at this as a good opportunity to experience living abroad and enjoy ourselves.

A few things I want to mention about all of this:

  • Almost everything is paid for by my husband’s employer. This includes rent, some utilities, plane tickets and transport.
  • We are moving to a country where we have family so it will be nice for my son to spend time with them.
  • This will only be for a few months in the year. We will definitely be back home in Australia in April, May and June as it’s just too hot over there during these months.

We Bought Another House

Life wasn’t getting complicated enough for us so we went and bought a house lol!

We bought a house which is far more comfortable than our current one. It’s a single story house on a nice block of land with large bedrooms and a spacious living area. We don’t have to move very far as this house is just 5 min away from our current house, in fact we walked it the other day and it took about 40 minutes. We are planning to do some renovations to make it our own so the next few weeks are going to be busy.

You may remember me mentioning in a few posts last year that we were planning to renovate our current house. We had a draftsman draw up all the plans and submit all the required documents to the local council. We were told that it wouldn’t take long to get the approvals, approximately 4 weeks.

Well unfortunately that didn’t happen. The council kept requesting one thing after the other and kept delaying the approvals. We all grew more and more frustrated and in the end we withdrew our application.

After feeling completely defeated and giving up on having a more comfortable house to live in like we planned, this house suddenly popped up for sale which ticked most of our boxes. My mum gets all the credit for this as she was the one who found it.

So here we are, it’s funny how things work out. We are actually happy it worked out this way as we feel as though we got a better house in the end and we also think that the renovation that we originally planned would have exceeded our budget by a fair bit.

Selling Our Current House

Well naturally we need to sell our current home and we are currently in the process of doing this. We thought this would be easy but unfortunately, there hasn’t been much interest so far and it looks like the market is cooling off. Well I’m going to remain optimistic and hopefully I will be able to report some good news at the end of the month.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, my life is pretty crazy right now. The next 12 months are going to be unpredictable, scary but also exciting and I’m looking forward to the adventure that lies ahead for us. My husband and I joke that we will like one of those couples on House Hunters International lol!