Last night, I attempted to rearrange my evening activities so that I could stay up a little later and hopefully fall asleep within 15 minutes or less. Compared to the night before, it was definitely an improvement, but I still have ways to go. I ended up trying to sleep around 10:20 PM. I don’t think I ended up actually falling asleep until an hour later, so that part still needs work. I woke up several times throughout the night, first noticeable around 2 AM, then 5 AM, then 7 AM, then a few times more before I decided to get up at 10 AM. This is progress because I got up an hour earlier than usual, and settled for bed more than an hour later than usual. I went from 14 hours to less than 12 hours in bed trying to focus on sleep.

I initially planned on sleeping around 10:45 PM or later. However, I was trying to adjust to a new schedule. I thought I would feel relaxed watching Running Man. However, I wasn’t too crazy about the particular format of this episode. So instead of watching the whole episode, I finished just the first hour. If I had stuck to the whole episode, I would have slept 20-25 minutes later.

After Running Man, I tried reading. I first attempted reading in the living room. Then, I shifted over to the bedroom. It was a little harder to concentrate compared to previous days. I think it had to do with hearing voices. I kept getting these thoughts of “this is taking long” and “when will I finish”. On previous nights, I didn’t have this problem. I was curious about what I was reading and challenged myself to read more than 20 pages. I feel like the voice was influencing me to feel anxious about finishing. I didn’t have any particular reason to feel rushed or anything. I just wanted to relax. And I was also getting to the good parts of the book, so these intrusive thoughts felt contradictory to what I actually felt/perceived. I guess this is what I can expect though with hearing voices. It might fight you, but you have to press on with what you want to do.

After I finished reading only 24 pages (compared to the 30+ pages I’ve read the previous nights), I tried putting on my headset and listening to a sleep meditation. That was relaxing. Though, I did have to take off my headset and turn off the tablet after I was finished. I feel like ideally, I would just fall straight asleep. I thought about how nice it would be to have headphones you could sleep in, and you could call them sleepphones. (Turns out, they already exist! 😂) Even though I felt a little bit of tiredness, I still didn’t fall asleep for another hour or so.

Next time, I’m thinking about reading first, then watching Running Man, then reading again. So, maybe I could read one chapter. Then, take a break. Then, continue reading another chapter. I’d try to read close to 15 pages on the first go, so just in case I feel too distracted, I would only have 5 pages left the second time.

I could experiment with white noise after my sleep meditation. I haven’t used white noise since probably May. After that, I started using my window air conditioner, and that became my white noise. And then even when I didn’t use my air conditioner, I kind of forgot about using white noise and seemed to be doing okay without it. But, white noise can be relaxing. It can help you to focus on something soothing rather than being distracted by your wandering mind.

I struggle with setting a later bedtime in the evening with a lack of activities, which is why I’m trying my best to plan activities that feel relaxing or calming. It wasn’t always like that. I could just sit and do nothing before and stay up until I was tired enough to go to sleep. But with hearing voices, sometimes I get this uncomfortable feeling and the voice gets me to hyperfocus on it, that I just want to do anything to get rid of the feeling, which is usually to lie down right away and focus on keeping my eyes closed. It might help me to relax a little more, but it doesn’t help me to go to sleep right away.

Before, I used to go for walks sometimes in the evenings, for half an hour or longer. And, I used to play games on my phone. I shifted my walks to afternoons now that the weather is colder. I like to walk when it’s still sunny out. Also, I don’t play games as much because it’s not something I want to do in the long-term. If I were playing games with other people or maybe live streaming, it’d be different. But, I don’t really socialize while playing games on my phone. I’d rather watch Running Man, because at least then, I’m passively learning another language. I used to also watch some TV (the news and game shows). I still do, but not as much. I guess I want to be more intentional about what I’m consuming, which is partially why I decided to read books every day.

I was reading about this method for improving the amount of time you are asleep in bed. The target goal is to be asleep for 90% of the time. I would say right now, I’m only asleep for at the most 50% of the time. I was in bed for 11 1/2 hours last night. So, I was asleep for a total of 5 3/4 hours. If I were to be asleep for 90% of the time based on how much sleep I’m actually getting, I’d have to be in bed for close to 6 1/2 hours before the time I want to get up.

Wow, that observation is actually very eye-opening for me. Basically if I want to wake up at 9 AM, I’d have to be in bed by 2:30 AM (and not earlier than that). Well, that’s going to prove very difficult for me to adjust to with my difficulties of hearing voices. So, I’m just going to have to focus on increasing the amount of time I spend on my evening activities and try to get to the point where I’m going to sleep when I’m sleepy and fall asleep right away.

I’ve also heard that you should only go to bed when you’re ready to sleep. I sometimes read in bed, but mostly just out of convenience so I can put my tablet on the nightstand without having to get up. But, I’m going to try to limit my screen time to the living room. The only exception will be when I’m listening to a sleep meditation. I’ll do that in bed. But, I won’t be looking at a screen then. And, the meditation would be to aid my sleep.

I also was thinking about switching the device/location for watching Running Man and reading. Instead of using a tablet downstairs in the living room, maybe I could just use my desktop computer in the office room. I just installed f.lux just in case. It’s a free software for Mac OS that adjusts your screen’s level of blue light based on the time of day (daytime, sunset, and bedtime).

Since I’m still trying to get into the rhythm of my new evening activities, it’s still too early to tell how much of an effect they’re having on my sleep. And ideally, I would read after watching Running Man because from what I’ve read, watching a show is more stimulating than reading a book. But, I want to be able to stick to my 30-day reading goal. I don’t want to shorten the amount of pages. I don’t want to allow the voice influence me in a way that I wouldn’t act otherwise (skipping reading for the sake of just feeling comfortable). So, I have to find a way to stick to my new habit. The long-term goal is to be a daily book reader.

To be honest, the only reason I’m watching Running Man is to fill the time. And, I find Running Man to be a more thoughtful use of my time than just playing games. I did think about maybe trying a language learning app such as Memrise. Though, I don’t know how much time I could spend on it without wanting to take a break. Usually, I can sit through a whole episode of Running Man. Well, at least in the day. I’m still experimenting with the evening time.

I’ll try adjusting my evening activities with the tweaks I’ve suggested in this post. I’ll continue researching ways it in which other people fall asleep quickly. I’ll look into other people’s evening routines as well.

Prior to my 30-day challenge of reading 20 pages of books per day, I wasn’t really focused on my sleep. But 3 days into the challenge, I couldn’t help but notice how my quality and quantity of sleep have truly suffered. It’s not because I’m reading, but because of how I’ve been doing things differently lately. I’ve been sleeping a little earlier than usual, somewhat affected by mother sleeping earlier, and so I thought, “Hey, I might as well too.” And another being that I have been spending a lot less time playing games on my phone in the evenings and thus just having a lot more spare time in general.

What I noticed is that even if I feel a little tired from after reading, I still don’t fall asleep within 15 minutes. I usually take another hour or so before I fall asleep. It’s probably just too early to fall asleep in most cases. So, I have to think of either more activities or increase the time I’m spending on current activities.

If I were falling asleep right away at 9 PM, it wouldn’t be a big deal to wake up at say 3:30 AM. Sure, it is extremely early in the morning, but maybe 6 1/2 hours is adequate enough sleep for me. I could start off the day lightly, maybe meditating in the living room. It’s somewhat inconvenient because of how my house is set up and where everyone sleeps. I’d have to set up things differently depending on what activities I would like to do. For example, if I want to do light exercise in the morning, I’d either have to suck it up and just exercise in my pajamas, or find another place to access my workout clothes while others are sleeping. But basically, I don’t even think about getting up at 3 AM because it takes me more than an hour to fall asleep, I wake up at least once before 3 AM before falling asleep again, and so I just don’t think it’s enough of a quantity to stay asleep to justify getting up.

However, some articles I’ve read suggest getting up temporarily. You could read for half an hour or so for example with dim lights and then try to fall back asleep after that, when you might be feeling a little more tired. I am considering this suggestion. My default activities will either be to read one or two chapters of the current book I’m reading, or to listen specifically to a sleep meditation of 15-30 minutes. I could set my headset near my phone the evening before just in case I find myself in this situation. Usually, my headset is upstairs near my computer, where I mostly use it during the day.

People have suggested to me sleeping later in the night. It makes sense. If you’re not sleepy, why force yourself to lay awake in bed? I just have to find activities to do that will keep me up beyond a certain time.

My current schedule goes something like this. I cook/prepare dinner at 6 PM and usually eat before 7 PM. I spend half an hour watching TV or playing games / engaging in social media on my phone. Then, I brush my teeth and take a shower. I journal. Then, I read. Usually by the time I finish, it’s somewhere between 9 PM – 9:30 PM. I’m not particularly tired by the time. I just resort to going to bed out of convenience.

So instead, maybe I could try this. I’ve thought about watching Running Man in the evenings. I just didn’t want it to keep my mind active late at night. So instead of reading right away, I could watch Running Man first. And then after, I could read. And lastly, I could listen to a sleep meditation. The typical Running Man episode lasts at most 1 1/2 hours. I’ve been reading around an hour each evening so far. And, I’d probably listen to a sleep meditation that is 15-30 minutes long. So, that’d keep me set up until 10:45 PM – 11 PM. To be honest, I might have to stay up even later than that. But, that’s definitely a start.

These days, I manage to get out of bed by 11 AM. That’s quite late. It didn’t really bother me before because I had no real need to wake up early. It’s not like I have a 9-5 job that I have to get to. And, I don’t really do anything quite profound in the mornings. But when you go to bed at 9 PM and you only manage to get yourself out of bed 14 hours later, you start to question things…

One thing I’m glad about is that I no longer nap in the day. I also don’t consume caffeine on a daily basis. Actually, I haven’t had caffeine since the beginning of the pandemic pretty much. I would try coffee or tea once in a while when going out with friends, but I haven’t done that in a long time. So, I know midday naps and caffeine are not contributing to my problems with sleep at night.

I think the main reason I want to improve my sleep is to wake up feeling refreshed. And, I want to improve my energy levels throughout the day. I want to naturally feel sleepy before bedtime and not have to toss and turn for hours. It’d be nice to wake up early (at a reasonable time, without an alarm clock) and maybe even get creative with morning routines. Maybe I’d feel more purposeful.

The only downside to sleeping less hours and being awake more hours is that you have to figure out what you want to do with all that time. I have to be a little more creative these days with the pandemic going on. I’ve been avoiding the gym. I don’t go to friends’ houses to hang out. I’ve stopped going downtown visiting different places. So, I’m mostly trying to find indoor activities. A lot of time is spent in front of screens (computer, tablet, phone, TV).

Sometimes, I think of an activity, but don’t follow through. There could be many reasons for it. I think that’s partially why I decided to give 30-day trials a try again. I want to give myself time to try old or new activities for an extended amount of days and outweigh the pros and cons. I want to engage myself in interesting activities, not just mindless ones just to pass the time.

I guess I just have to be careful of what will happen if I don’t have any activities prepared for when I awake or before I go to sleep. Right now, I have a morning routine I follow. It’s not anything profound. It’s just the way I start my day. I usually spend a lot of time in front of the computer during the day if I don’t have anything else planned. I go for walks in the afternoon now that the weather has cooled down. I like to go when it’s still sunny out. I try to avoid getting back on the computer in the evenings, just to keep things varied I guess.

I usually eat dinner before 7 PM, but I was thinking about pushing it back to 6 PM. I don’t know if that will help with my sleep. It might. The only downside to this is that I’d have to start an evening routine of some sort earlier in the evening. Would I have enough activities to keep me up beyond 10 PM? Though, would I need to? Maybe I’d wake up at 5 AM every day and that would be enough sleep for me.

I guess I’m getting ahead of myself. I am glad that I decided to pick up the habit of reading books before bed. It’s better than aimlessly playing Candy Crush. It’d be one thing if I were playing games with another person, or as a livestream. But, I just do it to pass time. Sure, it could improve your mind. But, reading could improve your mind too. Watching a show in another language can improve your mind too. And, I feel like the last two activities are more useful.

Anyway, I’m glad I decided to write this post out. I don’t know if my experiment will work out, but I’ll keep you posted in future blog posts. I hope I can continue reading in the evenings and that it affects my sleep in a positive manner. I thought about trying to read for more than an hour, but even that is more than I expected at first. I usually end up reading a couple chapters, which takes me close to an hour. And by then, I usually feel content with just reading that much. But hey, maybe I could develop into a super-reader like Warren Buffett, who I’ve heard reads up to 500 pages a day. Though, that’s how he starts his days. I just want to find a relaxing way to end my days.

So for now, I’m going to eat dinner at the same time. I’ll just try watching Running Man before reading and see how that goes. I’ll be trying the sleep meditations too most likely. So, it’ll be a combined effect I guess. We’ll see!

I usually like to wait some time before starting a 30-day challenge, or have it naturally happen (such as when I start a new habit, and then I decide I want to try it for 30 days to see what happens). The reason is because I want to make sure I set up a system for success. I don’t want to start prematurely only to fail halfway in.

Last night though, I got ahead of myself for my November 30-day challenge to read 20 pages of a book per day. It was time to wash my hair, and I thought I could air-dry it faster if I took a shower earlier in the evening. Usually before taking a shower, I play games on my phone just to keep myself occupied for an hour or so. But since I didn’t do that, I only had a few activities to engage it after the shower, such as clipping my nails, cleaning and folding laundry, and journaling. It didn’t take me long. I thought about playing games on my phone, but it just didn’t appeal to me. There wasn’t anything interesting to watch on TV. I thought about maybe watching Running Man, but wasn’t sure if that would keep my mind too active. So, I ended up borrowing my mom’s Kindle Fire and started reading some books in my library.

It was easier than I thought. I guess the text I was reading was not particularly difficult either, so that helped. There was also this neat feature where it tells you how many minutes you have left for finishing the chapter you are on based on your reading speed. So when I looked at that, I’d think, “Oh, only 20 minutes? Sure, I can read that long.” I didn’t have to read 20 pages since it technically wasn’t my first day. However, I ended up reading 37 pages in total. It took me around 65 minutes. It could be 5 minutes more or less, because I forgot to look at the time exactly when I started. Maybe next time, I’ll set a timer.

Since I hear voices, I was a little worried that the voice would act up. But, it was fine. It didn’t really bother me while I was reading. Instead, I was distracted by random thoughts while reading. So sometimes, I would have to go back and re-read the text.

I think I will read again tonight because it was so relaxing. I will also check out another book from my public library just in case I want to switch books. The current book I’m reading seems okay so far. Some parts I thought were a little uninteresting, but then later realized as I continued reading that she was trying to emphasize certain points.

In future posts about my reading challenge, I might mention the names of the books if I sign up for an affiliate program such as Amazon’s again. I didn’t want to mention any names without knowing how good it is. I can recommend a book if I find it valuable or helpful in some way, even without getting a commission. Though, it would be nice to also get something in return if someone ends up buying the book because I recommended it.

There might be some difference between reading a paperback and reading on a Kindle. I thought reading a paperback would be easier, but I think reading last night on the Kindle proved to be more convenient. Maybe it’s because of the added feature of the reading time estimator. Maybe it’s because I’m used to reading on screens. Maybe it’s because with a paperback, you need to have good lighting. Maybe it’s just the content of the book. I’m not really sure.

I was most surprised by how long I ended up reading. One factor that helped was my curiosity about what I was reading. I also didn’t have anything else that I particularly wanted to do. I felt like this was the most productive use of my time.

Some people would set aside time to read in the early mornings, but for me, it seems like a good way to wind down in the evenings. I would say last year this time, it was hard for me to concentrate on reading paperback books. The voice would talk out loud with my mouth while I was trying to read. I thought maybe it was because of the content of the book was related to hearing voices, but I’ve learned over time that the voice I hear doesn’t need to have any particular reason to do something. And I also remember when I first heard voices, I didn’t have trouble reading books. So, I would try reading every once in a while. Some days, I struggled. Other days felt better.

I thought about listening to ambient music while reading. But these days, I’m trying to focus on one task at a time. I want to make sure that I can do simple tasks without having to distract myself too much just so I don’t hear voices. In the past, I would have listened to podcasts while going for a walk for example. It’s kind of like how people listen to music or audiobooks while exercising at the gym. But these days, I just focus on the walk without any other external stimuli. I want the same to happen when I’m reading. I want to be able to focus on extracting the ideas on the page without relying on something else. I have to see how the following days go, though. Yesterday, I rated my difficulty of reading as a 2/5 (1 being easy, 5 being hard), because I could mostly focus on reading, I wasn’t distracted by hearing voices, though I was a little distracted with random thoughts. If I ever reach a 4 or a 5, I’ll consider using music as a way to help me focus.

Normally, I wouldn’t recommend starting a 30-day challenge early. I would say focus on creating a system to succeed. Figure out the exact parameters you’re going to use to determine if you failed or succeeded each day. Create a support system. Produce a helpful environment. Gather the necessary tools and resources. Set up a way to track your progress.

However in my case, I pretty much set up everything. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was whether 20 pages was too much for me since I haven’t been reading consistently. So, I considered yesterday to be a sort of test day. It ended up so much better than I thought. I will try it again tonight. If it goes well, I’ll consider yesterday to be my first official day of the 30-day trial. Though, I might continue for longer.

In case anyone else wants to join me in this challenge, I will share with you what I’m tracking each day. I have a spreadsheet with the dates on the left-hand side. Then on the top, there are columns for number of pages, minutes spent reading, minutes per page (which is a formula I’ve inputted of the minutes spent reading divided by the number of pages), the book/s I read that day, where I was when I was reading, difficulty (factors include how well I could focus, level of understanding, and level of distractions), and my mood prior to and while reading. I’m most curious about how reading might affect my mood on days when I’m not feeling particularly good. You might be curious about other aspects, so of course, track whatever you’re interested in.

In my last blog post, I mentioned how I would be doing a 30-day trial of reading every day. I first learned about 30-day trials or 30-day challenges from Steve Pavlina’s blog. He uses this method whenever he wants to try incorporating a new habit into his life. It seemed to work well for him, so I’ve tried a few 30-day challenges myself. Most of the time, it didn’t go as well as planned. But recently, I’ve been more consistent with maintaining habits, even if they’re not every day. And one time, before I restarted my blog this month, I went 30 days or so of writing a blog post every day. I didn’t do it intentionally. It just so happened that I felt inspired to write for more than a few days, and then I thought, “Hmm, what would happen if I kept this up for at least 30 days straight?” So then, I just continued writing for 30 days. It showed me that I could stick to a habit if I simplified it. So, here are some ideas I’ll be using to stick to my 30-day trial in November, which is to read 20 pages of a book per day.

1. Make it easy, especially if you’re new to this.

If you’re an expert, you might not have to do this. Some experts thrive at challenging themselves to do more. But for beginners such as myself, it’s best to stick to something that’s easy to do. For example, if you want to be physically active for 30 days, try walking for 10 minutes. If that seems too easy, you can of course increase it to however long you’d like. But the point is, make it easy for yourself. Don’t push yourself to do more if it seems challenging. I get that it’s a 30-day “challenge”, but the way I think about it is you’re trying to make change and see how that affects you. If you jump straight to a 1-hour run every morning at 5AM, and you haven’t worked out a day in your life, then you’re just going to dissuade yourself from ever trying it again in the future.

Eventually as you succeed in completing 30-day trials, you might be able to challenge yourself more. But in the beginning, it’s important that you make it easy enough for yourself to at least get through it.

Remember that you’re simply setting a minimum. You can always go above and beyond on the days you feel like it. For example, if your goal is to do 10 push-ups a day, maybe the first time you’ll do 2 sets of 5 push-ups. And then a week in, you might feel inspired to do 4 sets of 5 push-ups. But maybe the following week, you’re feeling more tired than usual. That’s okay. Just go back to doing 10 push-ups, whether they’re all at once or in sets.

If you’re not sure what to set your goal as because you don’t know how much you can do, try testing yourself one day before starting the actual trial. Personally for myself, I’ve been able to finish reading a chapter of a book whenever I would read in the evenings. I estimate that to be 15-20 pages or even longer. And then, I looked at the specific book I planned to read. If I were to read fast, I could get through a page in 30 seconds. At most, it would take a minute. So, I estimated that it would take me anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes to finish reading the 20 pages. Even if it took longer than that, I doubt it’d take any longer than 30 minutes. Since I’ve successfully read for 20-30 minutes at a time in the past, I thought 20 pages was an attainable goal for me.

The other thing you can do is if you’re still not sure, plan to adjust in the beginning. If I find that I can’t focus through reading 20 pages, I could lower it to 15 pages, or even 10 pages. It will still help me build the habit of reading every day. And eventually, I can increase the amount over time, whether it’s during the 30-day trial or beyond it. With any skill, you have to practice it regularly to be able to do more of it.

Also, don’t get stuck in the idea that if you’re doing a small amount, it won’t be enough to really affect your life. For example, 10 minutes of walking per day might not seem like much. But remember, you’re building a habit. 10 minutes is better than nothing. 10 minutes a day is more than an hour a week, is 5 hours in 30 days. And if you can get to 10 minutes a day, eventually you can build that up to 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes, even 60 minutes a day. It’s a stepping stone, and it helps build your momentum. Never underestimate building small habits. It’s easier to build up from there.

2. Set up a system to track your progress.

Some habits have built-in measures to track your progress. For example, if your goal is to write a blog post every day for 30 days, you can clearly see the published dates on your website. But for other habits, you may have to set up a system to measure your progress.

One easy way to do this is to create a spreadsheet. You don’t need Excel if you don’t have it. You can use Numbers on Mac, or Google spreadsheets, or any open-source program that has a spreadsheet feature. If you want to cut technology out, you could create your own handwritten chart. Stick it somewhere convenient, like your fridge for tracking eating habits for example.



The reason it’s important to track your progress is because it can help you tweak future 30-day trials, or even help you in restarting a 30-day trial in case you fail. Plus, you can see how much you’ve achieved and take note of any benefits. For example, let’s say your goal is to adopt a vegan diet for 30 days. You could note the foods you’re eating, maybe how many calories you’re consuming, whatever information seems important to you. If after one week, you give up and eat animal products again, you can look back and see what went wrong. Maybe your energy dipped, or your mood was off one day. If you keep track of it, you can try researching more into it and seeing what possible solutions could help you in the future. Maybe your body needed more carbs and you were depriving it. Or maybe, you went from eating junk foods every day to no junk foods, and that was just too drastic of a change for you. The more information you record, the easier it is to draw conclusions from it and adjust for the future.

Even if you succeed at a trial, it’s good to know how it affected you. If you set a goal to wake up at 6AM every day, you might notice that you were cranky the first few days. But eventually, you might feel relaxed. Or maybe your mood suffered throughout the entire trial. You might still want to wake up early, but without feeling upset in the morning. Then you could search on the web to see how other people deal with feeling in a bad mood in the morning. Some people might suggest taking a warm shower, or meditating with scented candles, or going for a short walk. And then, you could note these activities and see how they affect your mood.

Even if you don’t want to use a spreadsheet or a chart, you could journal, blog, or jot down a few notes each day. For example, I don’t do time-logging, but every evening I write down one thing that I did that day that I consider to be beneficial or that put me in a good mood. It helps me to see how similar some of my days are, or if one particular event stood out to me, or even inspires me to try new things each day.

Of course, you could also just track your progress mentally. But, it’s much nicer to have it written out. You can always refer back to it. And, you have more of a basis for what you’ve concluded. Plus, if you ever want to share it with others or compare it to future trials, you can.

3. Give yourself time to set up a system that will clearly define a success vs. a failure.

I’d say it’s best not to dive straight into a 30-day trial just when you think of it. It’s best to think of the nuances in the challenge. If you plan on recording YouTube videos that month, how many videos will you create, one per day? And will you upload them every day too, or give yourself time to edit? Will you just choose two you like each week and upload on a Saturday and a Tuesday? How long do the videos have to be? You have to plan out all the details ahead of time. If you dive head-first into the trial without any planning, you’ll make it more difficult for yourself. Did that day really count as a success? Without clear rules, it’s hard to tell.

For myself, I plan to read every day at 9:00 PM. I chose that specific time because I want to engage myself in some activity before going to sleep. It’s the time when I’m most likely not to be doing anything important. Also, I try to avoid sleeping too early. Sometimes when I have nothing in particular to do, I have a tendency of going to bed early. I don’t wake up any earlier, so there’s no point. I feel better if I sleep at 10:00 PM or later. So, 9:00 PM seemed like the ideal time for me.

Also, do what you set out to do. If you say you’re going to do 20 push-ups, actually do 20 push-ups. It doesn’t count if you miss even one. If you’re worried you’re going to fail, set a lower goal. Maybe 20 is a push, but 10 doesn’t feel so much of a struggle. Either way, you have to make sure you follow through all the way.

4. Allow yourself a little flexibility if needed.

Will I still consider it a success if I read in the morning instead of later in the evening? I will. I’ll take note of it, of course, as I mentioned before that it’s important to track your progress and the specific details. Maybe one day, I know I’ll be out late and will probably feel too tired to read before bed. So, I’d plan to read earlier in the day. But on normal days, I’d stick to reading at 9:00 PM. You could do that too with your goals. Let’s say you had a meeting early in the morning that got in the way of your morning walk. You could adjust to an afternoon walk. It still counts.

But, you also want to make it clear if a certain rule is important to you. For example, there’s a clear difference between eating one vegan meal a day vs. eating entirely vegan for all your meals/snacks in one day. If you have even one non-vegan candy bar throughout the day, it might be a fail for you. You can be flexible, but just make sure you can tell the difference between a clear success and a failure.

Let’s say your goal is like mine, to read every day. Maybe you’d consider it a success even if you listened to an audiobook. I certainly would, though I’d probably have to adjust my goal so that it’s something like 20 pages of reading text or 20 minutes of listening to an audiobook.

Some people don’t want to stick to just walking for exercise. They might want to try yoga one day, or a combination of push-ups, sit-ups, and squats the next day. Sometimes, it’s helpful to have some flexibility so that you can keep it interesting.

5. Build a support system and constructive environment.

I tried my best to avoid the word “motivation”, because motivation can come or go. It’s not consistent. When you’re trying to complete a 30-day challenge, it’s helpful to build an environment that perpetuates success. It’s pretty much like building a system that helps you complete the goal rather than just relying on your own limited resources.

If you want to try a vegetarian diet for example, get rid of all the meat from your fridge. It makes no sense to have any temptations. You could try to avoid it, but why exert all that extra energy? Make it easy for yourself.

If your goal is to create a digital product to sell online, you could find support groups. Join a subreddit and post any questions you have about your specific goal on there. Get feedback. Connect with any friends who have done anything similar.



For a lot of people, turning a goal into a social activity can be helpful. If you want to go to the gym for thirty days, you could use your guest pass to bring a friend along. Or if you want to write a blog post each day, maybe you could go to a different location to write each day (like a cafe) and invite a friend to hang out afterwards. Or if you want to take 20 photos each day, you could invite a fellow photographer friend and shoot pictures together.

If you want to work out, try taking a class that gets you in shape. Some classes come free with a gym membership, such as yoga, zumba, or pilates. If you want to practice piano, you can sign up for lessons with an instructor. That will also help give you some accountability.

Sometimes, it’s as easy as sharing your goal with the people you live with. For example, if you want to cook every day but find it hard to do alone, you can ask one of your family members to help you prep the food. You can find shared goals or habits that you can create together.

It can even be as simple as turning to social media. You never know if one of your followers or friends is working on a similar goal. I’m most likely going to share my goal on Instagram. Since my goal is to read every day, I already asked them what their favorite books are to get some idea of what I could read. On my next story, I’m probably going to ask if any of them read every day. And if they do, I could ask them for advice, or just check-in with them every day as I’m doing the challenge.

These are just a few ideas in how you can build support systems and a constructive environment. You can be creative with this. Ideally, you’d set this up prior to executing the actual 30-day challenge. If you have any motivation before starting your trial, use it to build up a good system to help keep your momentum going.



These are the ideas I’m going to implement in my November 30-day trial of reading 20 pages a day. Writing this post out even gave me some new ideas of what to do to make it successful. Right after this blog post, I’m setting up a spreadsheet for tracking my progress.

Maybe in a future blog post, I will talk about how I set up my 30-day challenge. Some people find it helpful to read an example of a 30-day trial to set up their own. Plus, I can use it for myself to see if I actually follow through or need to make adjustments in the future.

It’s been a year or so since I’ve read an entire book, front to back. Sometimes, I get bored a quarter of the way through and leave the book on the shelf with the bookmark dangling. To be honest, I haven’t really been buying books or checking them out from the library for years. If I’ve read any books in the past three years, it’s because these are books that are already in my house.

The last book I finished was just because I would read a few pages every night before going to sleep. It was a way to keep my mind occupied (and off the voices I hear). Also, it was about hearing voices, so I thought maybe I would get some benefit out of it. Before that, the last book I finished was in 2018. So basically, at the rate I’ve been going for the past few years, I finish one book per year.

Recently, I came to realize that the Free Library (Philadelphia’s public library) offers eBooks and audiobooks for even some newly released books. So instead of worrying about wasting a few dollars on a book that I might not even finish, I tried searching for books I thought about reading but never came around to. I was curious about Michelle Obama’s Becoming. It ended up being available through the Free Library’s website. I just logged in with my library card number and PIN, searched for “Michelle Obama” under “Author” through their catalog while checking off eBook and audiobook, and I saw a few hundred eBook copies being available. The audiobook was checked out, so I just checked out the eBook. They give you options for how to view the book. So if you don’t have a Kindle reader on your device, you can also view the book through the browser.

As the title of my blog post suggests, I thought about doing a 30-day trial of reading 20 pages a day. I chose 20 pages because I wanted to choose a number that would allow me to finish reading Becoming by the end of the month. I believe when I checked on Kindle, it was a little over 420 pages. So, I’d be finished in 22 days. And, I don’t have to stick to just 20 pages a day. I could read more if I’m interested. I prefer to finish sections of books, or chapters. I don’t like cutting in the middle of text, so I would probably round up to the nearest end of the section or chapter.

I don’t normally read eBooks. I am used to reading paperbacks. I also don’t have a Kindle device of my own. My mother has a tablet, but sometimes she uses it in the evenings. For this challenge, I’m thinking about reading in the evenings. I usually have activities that I do throughout the day. In the evenings, I don’t have much to do. So, it would give me something to do during those times. I downloaded a Kindle reader on my computer so that I can use it in the evenings. I usually don’t get on my computer after dinner, but I thought I’d try to see how this habit goes for me. Maybe it could be relaxing. And if it goes really well, maybe I could buy a Kindle device specifically for reading in the evenings. I’ve seen some devices where the lighting is very similar to a paperback book.

I’m not going to rush into this 30-day trial. I thought about starting it in November. Maybe I could even ease into, by reading just 5 pages a day, then 10 pages, then 15, and then finally 20 on November 1st.

November is the month when some people participate in NaNoWriMo, an event in which you finish writing a first draft of a fictional novel of 50,000 words or more by the end of the month. I tried to participate in the past, but never successfully. I’ve been having trouble creating over the past few years since taking medication and hearing voices, so instead of focusing on output (writing), I’ll try to focus on being more selective with my input (what I’m reading, watching, etc.). Maybe that will help me later with expressing thoughts or ideas. Some people say that you should just focus on creating, but I think of what we learn in physics. What we put in, we get out. Consuming is just a part of the process in creating. No need to dismiss consumption. I think it’s more about what we choose to consume.

The reason I want to try to create a habit of reading more is to gain more knowledge. I want to learn new ideas. I want to see if there’s something I could do differently than what I’m currently doing that will benefit me in some way. I want to also be more conscious about what I’m consuming. These days, I tend to watch a lot of YouTube and Running Man (a Korean variety show). If I was more intentional about watching Running Man, I could improve my Korean language skills. But usually, I’m just watching it for entertainment. But with reading, I feel like I try to choose topics that not only interest me, but that I can learn more about. Even with fictional stories, I feel like I’m learning more. It can teach you more about a certain period of history, or give you new ideas about concepts of future technology. You can learn from videos too, but honestly lately, I’ve just been watching prank videos or cute baby/animal videos.

20 pages a day isn’t much. It’d probably take me 15 minutes, at most 30 minutes a day. I’ll still probably end up watching YouTube videos and Running Man. But, even a small habit can make a difference. Maybe later, when COVID-19 subsides and I go to travel different places, I will feel more drawn to reading on my off time. Right now, I like the idea of reading more, but I don’t actually practice it. I think starting is the hardest part. It’s like exercise. It can be hard especially if you haven’t done it in a while. But if you practice it more, it becomes second-nature.

Assuming that the average book I’ll read will be 300 pages in length, if I read at a pace of 20 pages per day, it’ll amount to 15 days per book. That’s about 2 books per month or 24 books per year. That’s 2400% of the 1 book I’ve been reading per year. I wonder how much more knowledgeable I’ll be. I wonder if I’ll become more creative. Who knows.

To be honest, doing just a 30-day trial wouldn’t be enough to make sense of all the benefits. I feel like a year-long challenge would be much more sufficient. But honestly, I have trouble keeping long-term habits if I don’t have a system set up. I have trouble building these systems most of the time. So, I give up pretty easily. Right now, my system is to download books into my Kindle reader on my computer and to read every evening. But what if some event gets in the way? What if my parents want me to go with them somewhere one evening? Or what if I’m feeling especially tired? Or what if I just have trouble getting through the 20 pages? Should I make it easier on myself, maybe settling for just 10 pages on those off days?

Thinking about this now, I could set a goal to read at a specific time each evening. I probably will settle for 9:00 PM because this is usually the time after I have completed all my evening activities. I’m usually doing nothing particularly important at this time. And if I happen to be out late that evening, I will set a goal of reading right after changing into my pajamas and brushing my teeth. I highly doubt I’ll be out past that time, and I want to make sure that it’s not too late so that I don’t read at all.

What happens if halfway through reading the book, I realize that I don’t want to finish it? I’ll make sure that I have another option available of what to read. I’ll also try to give each book a chance. I’ll read at least 100 pages (5 days worth of reading) before I turn to another book. At least with that much read, I’ll know if it’s worth reading or not. And, I’ll have read enough to know whether or not I’d recommend it to someone else. I think 100 pages is definitely sufficient enough for telling whether a book is worth reading or not.

Looking back, I feel like this habit would have been nice to build in high school, or even back in elementary school. I used to love reading picture books when I was in elementary school. And then eventually, I upgraded to chapter books without pictures, but mostly fiction. But in elementary school, we didn’t read many books. There was one specific time I remember we had a reading competition, with each book color-coded to define the level of difficulty. And then in middle school, we’d get out summer reading, and I’d get bored reading less than a quarter way through some of these books. If I had the habit of reading 20 pages a day, I’d get through all the books in a timely matter and would feel more disciplined I guess. Like even if I don’t enjoy a particular book and it’s required reading, I’d still be able to get through it and discuss it in class.

However, it’s never too late to build the habit. I could read the books that my friends recommend for example, and even if I never finish it, I could still say, “I read 100 pages of it, but just couldn’t get into it.” And I’d have my clearly defined reasons for not enjoying it. And even if I don’t like it, but someone else does, it’d give me more perspective of what the other person’s interests are. For example, years ago, someone told me about this fiction book. It’s about a teen girl with schizophrenia who is hospitalized, hear voices, and has self-harming tendencies. She thought it’d be of interest to me because I also hear voices. I don’t know how far I got, but I read maybe ten chapters or so and stopped reading it. I didn’t feel like I could really relate to the character, and I wasn’t too into the storyline. But, I could see why the person who recommended it to me would read that book. It’s her life’s work and it helps her to understand people who are going through similar experiences. For me, it’s not particularly useful.

I got a few recommendations of books to read on my side Instagram. Some are books that were recommended readings in high school. Maybe I’ll keep those books in mind. A lot of people recommended fiction books. It’s been a while since I’ve read fiction. Well, aside from the one book about the teen with schizophrenia. It was in college when I started to lean more toward non-fiction, especially about personal development.

I guess these days, I’m interested in autobiographies of some sort. For example, the reason I wanted to read Michelle Obama’s book is because I was interested to learn about what led her to be the person that she is, and see if there’s anything that I could take away from it. It doesn’t even have to be an autobiography per se, but as long as it’s non-fiction and it includes stories about their life, it interests me especially if it’s a person that has a trait that I strive to have. For example, I’ve read books by Steve Pavlina and Gene Simmons. I’ve read Steve’s blog before and have read so many posts of his that I thought I’d surely learn more if I read his own published book. And with Gene Simmons, I just remember reading a few pages in the bookstore and automatically feeling hooked. I read both of these books front to back. So, I think I’ll finish Michelle’s book if I succeed at the 30-day trial.

If anyone wants to join me in the 30-day trial of reading X amount of pages per day in the month of November, feel free! We can encourage each other and share tips. We can even share what we’re reading. I’ll see if I can add a contact page on here so that anyone can reach out to me. I’m also active on Instagram, though it just depends if I see your DM (I get a lot).

When I first started blogging, I didn’t really pay much attention to visuals. I just stuck to writing. I was used to seeing blogs with just text. Some of my favorite blogs don’t have any images on their actual page and may have many paragraphs of text. But when restarting my blog, I decided to add images. I wanted to create a visually enjoyable experience for the reader, with the theme of my page and the images.

Nowadays, there are many resources for free images. These are completely free to use, and you don’t even need to credit the creator. I think it would be nice to do so anyway, but it makes it easy in case you forget. There are some websites that offer free images and require attribution, but that’s easy and simple to do. I think it’s easier than me trying to create an image on my own for every post I make.

I think if I were to include some of my own images, I’d watermark it with my name, or at least the URL of my website. I also wonder why people are so generous to offer free images. I mean, attribution is one thing. But, what if people have no clue where the image came from? How does it benefit the creator? I think it’s nice, but personally, I’d want people to know it’s from me. That’s why I’d personally watermark my images.

When I select images for my blog post, I try to find something that relates to the topic I’m discussing. Like for my first blog post, I talked about restarting my blog, so I went with an image of a journal. So if someone is coming across my page and sees that image, they’d probably think that it’s related to writing or journaling of some form.

You can use images to invoke a certain feeling. For example, the theme/layout I use is calming to me. I used a header image of a pastel sky and serene blue ocean waves. It gives a sense of peace. It can reflect on the title I gave my website: Conscious Balancing. That’s what I envision when I think of the ideal mindset. It’s calm, peaceful, relaxing, and in a state of contentment.

Another reason why it may be a good idea to add images is because it helps bring it traffic. Well, assuming that you do a few things. One, you have to make sure that you name the image properly when you upload it to your website. If it’s a generic “screenshot.png” or “image.jpeg”, it’s not going to do anything for you. But if you name it something like “meditation-practices.png”, it can help with getting your post ranked in search engines. It might show up in Google Images and link to your blog. And also, you can add alt text.

I haven’t quite figured out how to rename images directly from the WordPress dashboard. I haven’t seen that option when I search in my Media folder and try to edit an image. It’s a little annoying because when I name files on my computer, I sometimes add a number (representing the number of pixels wide) or a size to the end of the file name so I know how big the image is. So when I upload an image, it automatically matches the name. I wish I could add it without the number being attached too. It’s not a big deal. It would just be nice if WordPress asked you what you would like to name your image before it uploads it.

In case you’re interested in adding images to your own blog, here are a few resources I recommend:

Pixabay
Pexels
Unsplash

There’s a bunch more. All you have to do is Google search “free images”. But, make sure that it’s actually free to use. And, make sure if no attribution is needed. Sometimes, you’ll end up on websites where they offer both free to use images and stock images (which means that you usually have to pay a fee to use their images). So, just double check.

I’ve been blogging on this domain since 2013. Prior to that, I ran and deleted several blogs on sites such as Xanga, Blogspot, Blogger, WordPress.Com and more. Prior to 2013, I’d mostly post about daily life, sometimes created roleplaying blogs, and didn’t really have much value to offer. From 2013 to 2016, I tried offering more valuable content, but still fell short on that. Then after that, I felt as if I was providing content that was helpful or interesting. But as I was switching to a new webhost, I looked over the old posts I saved and realized that still, the value I was providing fell short. Well, at least for my standards.

So here I am, again, starting fresh with a new layout, a new webhost, and a new start for my blog. People seem to have different advice on whether to focus on quantity or quality. Well, I tried quantity before, and it didn’t seem to get me far. It could just be that I didn’t try learning marketing techniques or about SEO much. But also, I just felt like my blog posts were just mediocre. I want to provide content of tremendous value. I want it to be life-changing.

One blog that I’ve read over and over again since 2012 is Steve Pavlina’s website. He provides so much value in his blog posts. He talks about a variety of interesting topics. Some of these blog posts changed my perspective on things, shifted my beliefs, and helped me to achieve certain results. I’d like to have a blog like that myself. Though, this brings me back to the point of quantity. He has consistently posted on his blog. At the end of 2019, he started a challenge to post a blog a day. Maybe it really is about being consistent and seeing what ideas come out.

I thought about the topics I’d like to discuss on my blog. I’m open to anything. Right now, I’m thinking about topics related to mental health, body image, and internet entrepreneurship. These are the topics I’ve been thinking more about in the past few weeks. Mixing topics can be a little weird, but I think it’s good to try for a variety of topics. These days, you don’t need to settle for one box. And besides, I think people enjoy being able to connect with a person on multiple ideas rather than just one or two.

I thought about adding products such as eBooks or online courses. Maybe people would be interested to learn about my experiences with psychosis, to better help them understand people they know going through the same experience or even their own experience. I also thought about teaching subjects such as music production, Korean, or English to native Korean speakers. I haven’t really settled on any particular idea.

This time with restarting my blog, I hope that I can maintain my blog posts and keep them up. If I’m not satisfied with a post, maybe I can go back and edit them, or I can link to an updated post.

I actually “restarted” my “main” YouTube channel months ago. I posted an update, and set all of my old videos to private. I wanted to start over because some of my views on certain topics changed (such as law of attraction) and I wondered if I was doing justice for other topics. I tried recording videos recently, but had trouble. It’s easier to write a blog post, which is why I started back on this.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to the new blog. It still has the name “Conscious Balancing”. I couldn’t really think of anything else I wanted to change it to. I might change it in the future if I can think of something that encompasses all the topics I might cover.