I've been reading a lot of books over the last year from a diverse bunch of authors as I've looked for ways to change the way I work, to become more efficient and effective - whilst at the same time looking for that inner-peace that always seems so elusive.
Working at a photographer, organising photo-shoots, editing images... and even as someone who daily teaches photography (and has to plan photography workshops), I often have to wrestle with a complex juggling-act to fit it all in.
Last summer I changed my daily routine. I now get up early in the mornings and go to bed a lot earlier too. My mornings consist of time for silent meditation, some reading, checking my email and social media.
As soon as I'm up, I prepare a nutritional shake from Herbal Life (these are so tasty - I often can't wait to get out of bed) and I add Cacao powder to them, which gives them a fabulous 'chocolate hit'. Cacao has some excellent health benefits too, so it's a great way to kick-start the morning.
Then it's down to the gym for some cardio work and stretching (important as I get older).
But the most difficult part of my new work regime has not been the early morning starts (sometimes as early as 5am!), but it's what I now do during the work-day that has proved to be the most challenging and also the most liberating.
Once I sit down at my desk I switch off my email, I close down Facebook and other social media pages and I turn off notifications on my phone. In fact, as of this year, I have permanently turned off all my phone notifications.
"Are you nuts?" I can hear you say.
"What about all your customers and enquiries... aren't you losing business?"
Auto responders kick in when mail and enquiries come in - and the lack of interruptions means I can give my work the attention it needs. If someone has a genuinely urgent need, they are advised to phone me. This way, if the phone rings, I know it is important.
There are plenty of studies that show our work suffers when we get interrupted. Facebook and email constantly bombard us with interruptions and we lose concentration. Our brains take time to re-adjust every time those interruptions come in.
How can I give my clients' work the best it deserves when this happens?
I check my email once a day after my meditation (never the other way round - I want my mind uncluttered). Facebook messages get checked at the same time.
It is genuinely possible to live without constantly checking Facebook. In fact, life is a whole lot better without it there all the time.
It feels good to take back control and I am already feeling the benefits of less stress and I'm finding I have become a much more sociable person - talking to people with real conversation (imagine that!)
My wife use to complain that I was addicted to Facebook. Every time we went out, every time we sat down for a meal, there I was, face in my phone. Can't have been much fun for her.
Sadly, when I look around, I see so many people still caught in its grip. Entire families out for a meal together and not talking to each other at all. Instead, they are all gazing like zombies at their phone screens, fingers and thumbs twiddling, eyes transfixed. It's wrong.
I am delighted that I seem to be winning the battle
Believe me, less really is more.
It feels good to be able to give my full attention to my work. Whether I'm preparing a photography workshop or editing photos for a client. I can hand-on-heart say, work just got a whole lot better.