Typically I always have had a side project that I work on before or after hours. However, with Covid-19 and everything else going on in the world I decided that rather than add another stressor to take a step back and focus on my mental and physical health.
To improve my physical fitness, I've been working on developing a regular running habit again. To improve my mental health, I've been focusing getting enough sleep.
In both of those aims my Apple Watch and iPhone have been a key tool in keeping me on track.
My watch reminds me to stand up and tracks my runs. I've also started a running club at work and while we can't run together, we do share our runs on Slack and set running goals each month.
For sleep health, I've setup Downtime everyday from 8:30pm - 5:30am, as part of my Screentime settings. This disables all apps on my phone, except phone calls and apps that I specifically allow. The only apps that I allow are Runkeeper, Music, and Overcast, as I use them when running.
I didn't think Downtime would have much of an effect at first, but I discovered that it prevents me from doom scrolling while in bed. And it turns out that limiting your intake of doom directly before and after you wake up, does wonders for your mental health.
The other setting that helps drastically is Bedtime. I aim for 8 hours of sleep a night and have set bedtime from 8:30pm - 4:30am, everyday. Notice that Downtime doesn't end until an hour after I've woken up - giving me at least an hour of time with "just me".
45 minutes before bedtime I get a notification that it's time to start winding down and notifications disappear, my phone dims and I get a nice banner that say things like "Good evening. It's time to start winding down.". Removing the notifications and making such a simple display makes it much less tempting to pick up my phone.
When I first heard about these features I thought they sounded a bit gimmicky and they wouldn't work. But they do. In the past two weeks I've averaged 8:29 hours in bed at 7:36 hours asleep each night. And each morning I feel refreshed.
If you've been having trouble sleeping this year, give yourself a break and try Downtime and Screentime.