📓 Entry #20 — Things to keep busy.

Maeghan Smulders
A Little Detour
Published in
4 min readMay 22, 2018


May 22, 2018

Over the last few months i’ve been thinking a lot about what I should be doing during my extended coffee break in regards to self-improvement/output. In Montreal I would-work-work-work-work-work and think about all the things I could be doing to make my life better… but felt like finding the time to do them was difficult.

Now on the with all the time in the world, I should be able to achieve some of them… right?

I’ve always liked the TedTalk by Matt Cuts who talks about doing 30 day challenges to develop new habits and try new things. I felt it was a good place to start — one simple thing a day to check off… and that is it.

So I started off with journalling. It was pretty easy since I’m already a fairly active writer. But having something simple to achieve everyday made me feel like I was crushing it — and gave me the motivation to try something harder.

30 days later, I went vegetarian for 30 days. This was an interesting one because since I started dating Olivier, my eating habits have adapted to his.. and he eats 3 big meals a day and I used to only eat one. But now that we are traveling, we often eat out (it’s so cheap!) and it allows me to order on my own. I ate super clean for 30 days and have been able to keep with the habit even after the challenge was complete — 60 days later, 60 positive daily habits to check off.

Thinking big, I wanted to try 30 days no alcohol. I anticipated the challenge to be brutal… we’ve been on “vacation mode” the last 7 months… and have opportunities to drink often. We drink when meeting new people, or after a big achievement or activity.. heck, we would drink at the end of the day to celebrate another great day out of the office!

My body felt super unhealthy and the timing of the challenge was less the convenient, it was when Olivier’s parents met us in Vietnam (there were great craft beer places and good company. So I assumed the temptation would be extra hard).

I knew this would be a good exercise and an even better habit to cut back on booze. So yes.. this challenge I wanted to take seriously and needed to.

Turns out it was easier than I thought. Drinking is very much a social thing… one person orders a beer, and my reflex is “oh yes, I’ll have one too” So the first thing I did to overcome the pressure was get a new staple drink. Being in a tropical place definitely makes this better — I would order a smoothie or juice to start, and if everyone was still ordering rounds after my drink was done, I would get a soda water and my rule for sweet drinks was never have more than two.

90 days later, I am documenting our travels more frequently in detail, I am eating more healthy and drinking more water than alcohol and feeling like somebody new!

Now my most recent challenge was cutting out social media — specifically, no Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or Twitter.

I’ve been frustrated with the social networks… yes I use them and post content to them… but I find it becoming less and less personal. Maybe because the algorithms focus on meaningless things (that one time I accidentally tapped an ad, or watched a video because someone told me to and hated it) or the content that is shared is so empty or clickbait-y.

So on April 23 I deleted all the apps from my phone and had Olivier built me a browser extension for my laptop to redirect me to a different website every time I tried to visit Facebook.

Now 30 days later, this was the hardest challenge for me to complete. Within a day of not having social media, I felt out of the loop.. I felt bored… and I felt angry or frustrated.

How can a app/website make you feel like that?! 🤨

On the flip side, there were some positive outcomes from the challenge as well:

  • I would have more direct conversations with people (I had messenger and path *an app my family uses)
  • I didn’t *need* my phone as frequently as I used to.
  • I felt more thoughtful and aware of what was going on around me
  • I had more time (no joke.. I would spend 10–20 min every once in a while looking at all my social networks and all of a sudden hours of my day were sucked away!).
  • I had better conversations since I wasn’t always out with people and looking down at my phone.
  • I was learning/listening/reading so many more interesting things on my kindle, reddit or through a podcast (Today Explained is a new favorite).

So today I get my digital social life back. I’m excited to feel a bit more connected (or maybe aware is a better word) to the people I don’t have the opportunity to chat with directly on a daily basis. But I am going to keep the desktop blocker on, and try to cut back on social and do like email, check only once a day.

We’ll see how that goes 😋

Life’s been good here in Indonesia and I’ve been loving the feeling of achievement that comes from completing these 30 day challenges.

So until next time 👋

[Update from after writing this: I tried to download the apps and the wifi is too slow here…I can’t even update our website pictures!!]

See more on our website www.alittledetour.ca🌏✈️👫

Photo by resa cahya on Unsplash



Maeghan Smulders
A Little Detour

Hi! 🙋 I'm a tall, homeschooled, well traveled, terrible speller, who loves ice cream, building things and can be hilarious at times 👉 www.maeghansmulders.com