Six of the Best: New Year resolutions

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New year, new hopes, new resolutions.

Here are half a dozen ideas for self-improvement and enhancing your life in 2018:

CUT DOWN ON MOBILE PHONE USE

According to the latest research, in 2017, the average amount of time spent looking at smartphones by adults was about two-and-a-half hours a day. High users spent up to four hours a day on their mobile phones - that’s 120 hours a month. Just think of all the things you could get done in that time.

With increasing awareness of the negative side effects of overusing our mobile phones, it is perhaps ironic that you can now install an ‘app’ to set limits on the amount of time you spend on your plastic brick. The apps create gentle reminders to put it down. The alternative is you could just use good old fashioned will power.

DECLUTTER AND DESTRESS

Apparently, cluttered homes can stop us functioning as well as we might, both physically (because you continually have to climb over that pile of magazines) and mentally. To combat this, create a 100-day ‘declutter diary’, targeting one area of your home each day. In addition, follow these simple rules: if you take it out, put it back, if you open it, close it, if you drop it, pick it up. Once you get in the mood, either sell or give away non-sentimental things you no longer need or haven’t used in the last year. If you start now, this year’s Spring Clean will seem like a doddle.

COOK SOMETHING NEW IN THE KITCHEN

The cooking revolution which has swept Britain over the last two decades shows no signs of abating, with ever more inventive ways of helping you discover skills you never knew you had in the kitchen and a dizzying array of cookbooks and online guides.

So, make a pledge to yourself to cook something different once a week. Research the ingredients and go to a traditional market to buy them. There’s nothing more satisfying than scoffing a plate of home made food and the sense of smugness which comes with it is guilt free.

POLISH IT AND BE EXTRA POLITE

Apparently, polishing shoes can make you feel happier... about yourself and life in general, because while it makes you look smarter and prolongs the life of your footwear, it also instils a sense of responsibility for one’s belongings, which only serves to heighten the feelings of well-being.

If you don’t fancy that or it’s just not possible, then try being extra polite for a whole week, which again has the extraordinary side-effect of making you feel better and more optimistic about the future.

START A HAND WRITTEN JOURNAL

2018 may well be the year that ‘old tech’ makes a comeback and keeping a hand-written diary can certainly help you in many surprising ways, from boosting your IQ to calming your nerves.

According to research, keeping a journal improves communication, memory and emotional stability. It also helps you to set goals, maintain self discipline and even boosts self confidence.

As if that wasn’t enough, writing has also been linked to ‘healing’, both mentally and physically, as it promotes ‘mindfulness’ and is a form of relaxation.

GROW YOUR OWN VEG AND SAVE MONEY

It’s interesting to note that a hefty spot of gardening can burn about the same amount of energy as jogging. An hour of digging or mowing the lawn burns about 400 calories, the same amount burned off during a four mile jog.

With that in mind and the new mantra of getting something for nothing in these austere ‘post-austerity’ times, what better way to start the new year than trying to grow your own veg.

Various ingenious solutions exist to facilitate this trend, from vege window box plots to wall-mounted greenhouses, all of which means you’ve got no excuse.

Tim Wray, former executive chairman of Turner & Townsend

Former Turner & Townsend chairman Tim Wray dies aged 69