An alarm clock, a person swimming and post it notes
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The Pool team reflects on the small changes that have made a big difference to their lives

From bartering exercise nights to writing Post-it walls, here’s what The Pool team tried last year

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A bedroom detox

“I’ve stopped taking my phone into my bedroom with me. I was spending too much time mindlessly scrolling when I could have been reading a book. Plus, I was looking at emails/Instagram last thing at night and first thing in the morning, which can't be healthy. I've bought an alarm clock, a bedside table and have read more than I have for ages. Such a positive change.” Frankie Graddon

Exercising without an agenda

“I started swimming and was incredibly gentle with myself about it – I didn’t go to aim to lose weight or get fit; I just went as a nice thing to do with myself. I also bought myself a monthly swimming membership. It meant that on weekends when I was alone and feeling grumpy, I knew I could take myself for a 30-minute swim for essentially free, rather than bumming around the house, feeling sad and useless. Also, I was paying for it, which made sure that I'd go enough times a month so it would have cost the same or more as if I'd been doing pay-as-you-go – a good incentive!” Amy Jones

Hosting a dinner party

“Aside from my teenage years, I've never been the sort to throw a party. I'm of a slightly shy disposition, but I do love my friends. And so, with the heavy knowledge that I am nearing 30, this year I turned to dinner parties. I'd been to a few before, but never had the confidence to throw one myself. Now, I'm fully invested. Not only did throwing dinner parties make me feel closer to my friends, as well as bringing some of them together, but it made me happier. Because the group was small – I stuck to eight to 10 people – it wasn't overwhelming. It was something to focus on and look forward to. And the best thing about dinner parties is they sound grown-up – but they almost always end in glorious, undignified chaos.” Zoë Beaty

Setting an inflexible yoga date

“This time last year, I'd spent six years doing no physical exercise whatsoever (since I had my first child). I wasn't feeling great about myself so I decided to go back to yoga – the one thing I really enjoy. My husband and I put my yoga night – and his own exercise night – in the weekly diary as an immovable entry. He never makes arrangements to go out on a Monday night, because that's my yoga night, and vice versa with his Wednesdays, and that has helped me stick to going every single week – we've ring-fenced these exercise nights in the diary for each other, so there's a responsibility to each other as well as ourselves to go. And it's paid off. I didn't miss a class all through 2017 and feel so much better for it.” Elaine Robb

Having a Post-it note career plan

“I started writing career goals on Post-it notes and covering my wall with them partly to procrastinate, but it helped me set out concrete things I wanted to achieve and track my progress. It satisfied my instinct to colour-code everything I see and having a tangible plan to look over forced me to really think about what I wanted from my job.” Rachael Sigee

Making the most of a commute

“Normally, I stand there and rage on my morning commute. There isn’t enough space for me to move my arms, let alone read a book. So I downloaded the Audible app and have been listening to audiobooks. No matter how rammed the Tube is, I can still listen to my audiobook, so my journey goes by without me breaking a sweat.” Elle Turner

Founding a local women’s network

“In January this year, I was moaning with a bunch of school mums that I never seem to make any life changes and, by February, I had co-founded the Northfields women's networking group. It meets once a month in west London and consists of a wide spectrum of women who either work, are full-time parents or just wanting to make new connections. It's an opportunity to meet new people, exchange ideas and discuss the challenges we face in the workplace and in daily life. It's wonderful to get feedback on how, in a small way, it's helping the local community and I feel proud of actually DOING something, rather than just talking.” Deborah Castle

Regular blood donations

“I’ve started donating blood regularly. It’s not a big time commitment – it’s literally a lunch break every three months – but, every time I go, I leave feeling so optimistic about the state of the world. The donation centre is always FULL of people giving up their time to help perfect strangers and, in this shitstorm of a year, that’s enough to make me happy.” Lily Peschardt

A new sleep routine

“As of June this year, I kissed my night-owl habits goodbye after years of berating myself for doing the opposite. No more bingeing on re-runs until 3am, endlessly scrolling on my phone or consuming copious amounts of herbal tea. And the funny thing is I can't remember how it started – I just went to sleep at 9pm on the dot on a night when I happened to have very little to do, and realised what I'd been missing out on – sleep. So much sleep – but, more importantly, I've found that finding the energy to function in the morning isn't nearly as taxing as it used to be. I still need a few cups of coffee in the morning though. Baby steps.” Kuba Shand-Baptiste

Having fun with exercise

“The small change that made a difference for me this year was how I viewed exercise. Instead of it being something I did a lot and strived to be good at, I now have adopted a 'try a bit of this and a bit of that' approach. Also, if I don’t get to do it as often as I think I should, so be it – the sky won’t fall down. And you know what? I’ve probably ended up being more active than I used to. I certainly enjoy it more.” Lucy Dunn

This is part of our special new-year series called Small Change, Big Difference – small things you can do in 2018 (and not big unrealistic resolutions you can't keep). To read more in the series, click here

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