Five Tips for the Ultimate Productivity Boost!

The last two weeks have been possibly the most productive period of time that I can recall. As someone who has always struggled with procrastination, this has been a massive change and it has been feeling on top of the world!
Here are five things that have been helping me create momentum in my days and actually enjoy every aspect of my life!

1. Use the right tools.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have a slight problem with planners. I love the things – the more elaborate the better! I love stickers, checklists, calendars, coloured pens and everything in between. Often though, all of this simply creates overwhelm and I abandon the lot. I have found that simplifying the systems I use and making sure that they are ones that work for me has been invaluable in making my days truly productive.
Option a) the paper planner: Currently I am using the 2018 Fit Planner from Blogilates. I love that I am able to have a monthly calendar, daily schedule and a daily planner all in one. There is room for a food diary and daily workouts, which I love. Using a daily planner allows me to embrace my love of stickers and get creative with decorating. Although I use the daily to-do list, it is more of a back up to my primary productivity tool which is…
Option b) the digital planner: Wunderlist! I admit to being a bit obsessed with this thing. It’s a free app that is now owned by Microsoft and it is is hands down the best thing I’ve used. You can share lists, add plenty of details to your notes and also input straight to iCal by using the script provided on the Wunderlist website (web version only unfortunately!) The user interface is simple and clean and there is a very satisfying bell sound when you tick off an item. I love it so much that I think everyone at work is sick of me talking about it….


2. Be proactive.
As a natural procrastinator, instinct tells me to leave it until later. But I’ve found that by making a rule for myself that if the task will take less than ten minutes I have to do it right away, I have eliminated many of the little tasks that used to become mental clutter and drag me down.
A surprising one for this has been meditation. I have found that by doing my meditation before going out for my workout in the morning, it has been much easier and more enjoyable. By waiting until after my workout and doing it just before I left for work, it became something that weighed on my mind. Just freaking do it!

3. Embrace momentum.
Following on from the last tip, use the little tasks that you accomplish quickly as a springboard to create momentum for other tasks. The more items you can tick off, the sooner you find yourself feeling like an accomplished person and the longer you want to feel this way! This happened last week when I had to write up a plan – something that I will often procrastinate on for a month (in fact, I have been known to procrastinate on the write up until after the plan has been executed…) but having ticked off so many other things in quick session I realised that shelving the plan would feel like a personal contradiction. So I did it. It took me fifteen minutes and I took great pleasure in ticking off that item in my planner and in Wunderlist (yes I acknowledge that this makes me a huge nerd, but hey, whatever!)

4. Track achievements.
Ticking items off is hugely satisfying, but there are inevitably items that are habits rather than single tasks. You can set Wunderlist to repeat items, but I feel that I would feel vaguely depressed to tick off an item only to have it bounce right back! So, for items that are daily habits that I want to cultivate I have been using the app Way of Life. These are mostly health related rather than work or chores, but accumulating that string of green boxes is quite gratifying and pushes me to do things that I don’t want to do – such as getting on the scales after a night out with friends – ugh! But habits catch on quickly and this is a good reminder in the process of creating the patterns that will benefit you in the long run.

5. Detox from distractions.
Over the summer, I went on an amazing holiday through South East Asia. But as well as embracing the experience and spending time with loved ones, I also spent too much time trawling social media. I will argue that some of this was valid – we announced our engagement on Facebook so getting to see people’s reactions was a lot of fun. But by the end of the trip, I had realised that neither Facebook nor Snapchat were adding much value to my life. So I implemented a month long ban on them, deleted the apps from my phone and can honestly say that it’s been brilliant. I feel like I’ve saved a lot of time, but I hadn’t realised quite how many negative emotions Facebook was causing me. I can genuinely say that I am so much happier without it. Instagram stayed, but I can honestly say that I’ve spent a lot less time on it and am much quicker to realise when I’ve stopped enjoying what I’m looking at and have deteriorated into mindless scrolling. I have decided that I will go back on to Facebook on my birthday (in two weeks) but that I won’t be reinstalling the apps on my phone or iPad. If I want to check it, I can use Safari but I am going to keep this as infrequent as possible. Life is much sweeter without it!

So there you have it, five things that have made a difference to my productivity, my achievement levels and my overall happiness! Over the last fortnight I have crushed a huge goal at work and received a lot of positive feedback, which will be added impetus for me to continue working this way. Pick up one of these tips and give it a go – you might surprise yourself!

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Minimalism: Letting Go of the ‘Shoulds’

Like everyone else with a Netflix subscription, I’ve watched the Minimalism documentary. Whilst I’ve always been something of a neat freak, I also liked to have ‘options’ – something to wear for any occasion, the bits and bobs required for any activity I felt like doing.

I rationalised that if there was something I liked, more must be better. Right?

Wrong.

We live in a 1940’s character cottage with jarrah floors, high ceilings and a beautifully updated interior. It has only two bedrooms and part of my desire in approaching minimalism was to ensure that it won’t be our stuff that pushes us out of that house – I love it, and at this point, I can’t imagine ever wanting to leave. Since coming across minimalism, I’ve done some fairly ruthless decluttering, letting go of clothing, books, memorabilia, kitchen gear, makeup and so many of the random bits of detritus that seemed to collect around my home and in my office desk. As well as feeling as though our little house has more breathing room, I made some surprising discoveries.

1. It’s addictive!

Letting go is challenging at first, but it becomes easier very quickly. I’ve had regular purges before, but it’s always been letting go of stuff in order to buy newer versions. Now I’m actively trying to downsize the amount of things I own. I find myself wanting to let go of more and more and have had to actually force myself not to discard too much too fast! I used some of this energy to jump into helping my best friend declutter her house in preparation for her first baby. She was thrilled with the results and it allowed me to indulge my evangelical side as I waffled on about all the benefits of embracing minimalism!

2. I can breathe.

Our little house feels lighter and airier with less items in it. Somehow even knowing that there are fewer items in the drawers and cupboards makes me feel calmer and more relaxed. I’m not great at sitting still, but I’ve found myself more able to sit on the couch and read for a few hours rather than endlessly tidying up. Which leads me to…

3. Cleaning is a breeze!

Cleaning has become so much less of a source of stress. Being a neat freak, I do get anxious when things are messy – it makes me feel out of control. I find that even when it feels like stuff s EVERYWHERE these days, there’s actually not a lot of it and ten minutes usually does the trick. I’m cleaning less than I ever have in my life and whilst the house isn’t spotless, it’s relatively easy to do a bit here and there – with less stuff, it doesn’t pile up in the same way. And without cleaning as much…

4. I have more TIME!

It leaves time, energy and space for what actually matters to me. Time with loved ones, reading books, walking outside, yoga practice, cooking – all have benefited from not feeling as rushed.

5. It’s led me down the rabbit hole…

A couple of months ago, I said to my partner that I was feeling bored and needed a new project. I tossed a few ideas around but didn’t really latch onto something. Then, over the last few weeks I’ve found myself unexpectedly submerged in a brand new field of interest – namely sustainability and the world of zero waste. I feel that I stumbled across this as an indirect result of minimalism and for the first time in a while, I feel that fire of enthusiasm for something that I can really get my teeth into. No, I won’t be going zero waste, but I am making some changes and plan to write about them soon.

6. Minimalism isn’t just about STUFF!

This has been the most challenging thing to get my head around. Minimalism is about having less, but it’s also about doing less. I feel like letting go of stuff has also been letting go of the ‘shoulds.’ All the things I think I ought to be doing and actually either don’t want to do, or can’t do. I’m prone to over-scheduling, desperately filling every waking hour with commitments to try and be as productive as possible. Consequently, not only do I run around like a headless chook, I frequently feel quite anxious – and paradoxically, I don’t necessarily get a lot done! Since beginning this journey, I’ve let go of at least one calendar commitment that was causing me stress and am working on more of a ’tilting’ idea with my exercise – developing areas of focus for periods of time, rather than trying to do it all at once and feeling guilty when I failed. I also feel like I can say no to social commitments that I’d rather avoid. My fear of missing out has lessened and I’m good with easing off on some of the the pressure I’d created for myself.

So where to with minimalism?

We’re definitely not done. There are still areas at home that need attention (namely the spare room and the shed) but I don’t make those decisions by myself, so it’s going to be a gradual process. I’m hoping that by also being more intentional about anything I choose to bring into my life that I can maintain this sense of calm and create a peaceful atmosphere that feels welcoming and allows for time and attention to be paid to what’s really important. I can’t see myself wanting to step back from this now, but I also know that much of the desire for ‘more, more, more’ or ‘just in case’ has been heavily programmed and will take some time to let go of. And there will undoubtedly be stumbles on that road. That’s fine and I will continue to enjoy the process and to assist those around me who might be keen to go down a similar path.

It’s truly freeing to realise that we don’t need as much as we once thought and to understand that owning less can mean having more.

 

 

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Five Youtube Channels I’m Addicted To!

Image result for youtube

I’ve only recently become a fan of YouTube. I know, I know I’m about five years late to the party…but over the summer I spent a lot of time diving into the world of vlogs and tutorials. After the holidays ended, life got crazy and I don’t have a whole lot of time to spend on Youtube, but when I want to wind down, these are my top five picks for a mental pick-up and a bit of inspiration (or mindless entertainment – whatever floats your boat!)

1.The Anna Edit.

The Anna Edit

Anna Newton is my #1 favourite YouTube girl. I found her through her Capsule Wardrobe videos but have become obsessed with her casual, chatty style and her mix of fashion, beauty and health content. She is refreshingly real and although her online career is obviously developing well, she seems to have both feet firmly planted on the ground. Her ongoing obsession with Dominos pizza(which she ate at her wedding!) and RuPaul’s Drag Race keep it real and she’s just a really fun person to follow. The photographs on her blog are also beautiful, which certainly helps!

2. Sarah’s Day

Sarahs Day

Sarah Stevenson is a fellow Australian, but that’s where the similarities end. She is a workout and health guru with the body of an angel but a refreshingly up-front attitude and an addiction to fruit and nut mix. She recently released an ebook, which I haven’t purchased but may check out some time in the future. Sarah’s Vlogs are casual and friendly and she is queen of the constant fitness ‘comebacks’ – though anyone looking at her would wonder what on earth she has to come back from! That said, she has been very raw and honest about her various health and hormone issues and she by no means to be as perfect as she looks!

3. Lydia Elise Millen

Lydia Elise Millen

If you’re after real and relatable, then step AWAY from this girl! Although she’s as sweet and friendly as they come, one could be forgiven for thinking that Lydia and her fiancé Ali are characters in some Disney movie – impossibly photogenic and always smiling! Lydia’s career seems to have taken off in a big way since I started following her and she is constantly travelling with high-end brands, so don’t watch her videos unless you can handle a serious dose of lifestyle envy! Ali and Lydia also have an adorable Bengal cat called Lumi who makes frequent appearances in her videos – to be honest, it’s worth checking out Lydia’s channel just for Lumi!

4. Use Less

Use Less

Signe is another Capsule Wardrobe guru, this time hailing from Denmark. She combines minimalist fashion with broader discussions around sustainability and has some great videos about how to style staple items in different ways as well as how to repair items easily and the occasional beauty post. Both her channel and her blog are very true to the minimalist aesthetic and she is a great place to start if you’re interested in heading down that road.

5. Sugar Mamma

Sugar Mamma

Canna Campbell is a bit different from the other channels I follow – although she too posts videos about minimalism and capsule wardrobes (sensing a theme here?) she is actually a financial advisor and posts a lot of videos about budgeting, saving and investment. I admit that most of her videos that I watch ate what you might call her more ‘fluffy’ content, she certainly seems to know her stuff regarding personal finance and I certainly plan to go back and watch more of those videos in the future.

So those are my top five Youtube channels to follow, however for further inspiration (particularly with regard to capsule wardrobes) I would also recommend Jamie from Mademoiselle, Elise Sheree, My Green Closet and, of course, Caroline from Unfancy!

Stay tuned for more posts about capsule wardrobes and minimalism – coming soon!

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Life-Changing Food?

Anybody who has ever owned a Thermomix has heard of Jo Whitton – aka ‘Quirky Jo.’ Jo is a wholefoods guru who specialises in Thermomix cooking and has been very influential in promoting the healing power of the GAPS diet. She also hosts the beautiful podcast ‘A Quirky Journey’ where she interviews some amazing people in the wellness world.

Recently Jo and chef Fouad Kassab released Life-Changing Food which might possibly be one of the most beautiful cookbooks I’ve ever seen. It has recipes that suits Paleo, Gluten-Free, GAPs diets or for anyone who wants to just eat real food! I pre-ordered a copy for my mum for Christmas but ended up purchasing a copy for myself once Jo released a video flip-through – I couldn’t help it, it was irresistible!

I own about thirty whole foods cookbooks so when I say that this one has taken up permanent residence on my kitchen bench, that is no mean feat.

So what have I made so far?

First was Jo’s ‘Best -Ever Butter Chicken.’ Full disclosure, I’ve made this one before – it’s available on the Quirky Cooking website here and it is DA BOMB! But what really won me over to the cookbook was the recipe for ‘Basic Grain-Free Dough.’ Fouad notes in the text that this should be called ‘Life-Changing Dough,’ and he’s not wrong!

The dough is made from cooked potato (I use sweet potato) with almond meal, potato starch, tapioca, olive oil, eggs, salt and honey. It sounds like a weird mix, but it works amazingly.

This pizza has become my go to dinner – which, to be honest I need to reign in! Yes, it’s Paleo, it’s wholefood and it’s seriously damn tasty. But it is very starchy and I probably don’t need to be eating it quite as often as I am (*cough* every day…) Since getting healthy, pizza has been the food that I’ve missed most – to the point of submitting to the occasional gluten bomb just to have a pizza with decent taste and texture. This delivers on all fronts.

Next on my to-make list are PIES! We have company coming to stay and I’m going to take the opportunity to test out Jo’s recipe for Chicken Pot Pie and follow this up with Apple Pie. Because everything is better with pie!

In summary, if you have the slightest interest in healthy eating GET THIS BOOK! It’s not dogmatic or restrictive, it’s entirely family friendly and the recipes are  actually very simple. And you don’t need a Thermomix! Although, when you’re heading here to buy this gorgeous book,* I’d check out the Thermomix too.

Just saying…

Love,

* Life-Changing food is sold out but you can back order it for delivery later this month. This is not a sponsored post I just love this book!

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The Bolt From The Blue

In The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin writes that one of her main reasons for starting the project is because ‘One dark night, my phone was going to ring…I wanted to prepare.’

Despite reading the book innumerable times, I had never paid much attention to that part – perhaps because it sounded vaguely hyperbolic in nature – and I assumed that the emotional resilience provided by happiness was maybe just a side effect of happiness rather than a reason to cultivate it.

But yesterday – my phone did ring.

My beloved friend Matt had taken his life in the early hours of the morning. The mental illness he’d been battling for the last several years became a burden that he couldn’t carry any longer. He was a trusted friend, housemate and confidante to me for the best part of fourteen years and I can’t believe that he’s no longer here.

I don’t know whether my own emotional resilience is strong enough to create a buffer against grief. Time will tell I guess. But I just hope that wherever Matt is now, he is free of his suffering.

Farewell dear friend. Sleep peacefully.

Love,

P.S. This blog was supposed to be a lighthearted discussion of cookbooks and capsule wardrobes, not a place to examine the heavy things. I guess that sometimes life just has other plans.

 

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Goal Setting With Powersheets

I first heard about Lara Casey’s Powersheets from Kelsey Van Kirk on the Purposeful Home Podcast. Kelsey and her co-host Allie Casazza were discussing their intentional goal setting practices and the idea of having a word for the year.

The word of the year thing wasn’t new to me as it’s a fairly common practice in Bullet Journal circles. Back then, I’d chosen the word ‘Commit’ for the year and I’d written down a few goals:

  • Get to goal weight
  • Get a new job or a new role at my current job
  • Develop personal style

Realistically, the only one I’ve made progress on was the style goal. So when I heard Kelsey raving about the process of Lara Casey’s Powersheets, I decided to check them out. It doesn’t hurt that I’m a sucker for any sort of planner! Lara’s site, Cultivate What Matters is beautiful and Lara’s energy is contagious! I bit the bullet and ordered a six month set of Powersheets.

I received my Powersheets on Thursday, merely hours after getting the news that I had missed out on a promotion I’d gone for. This felt like something of a sign that it was time to sit down and redefine what it is that I want next. The first part of the planner involves extensive prep work, diving in to personal characteristics and reflecting on your current situation. It allows room for brainstorming, goal drafting and creating action plans. It’s a lot to do, but you don’t need to do it all at once.

I spent my Sunday morning exploring the Powersheets. I want to take my time with my goal setting and actually enjoy the process – it doesn’t hurt that the Powersheets are so gorgeous and that Lara encourages you to be creative and ‘get messy’ when crafting your goals!

I decided to start with my health goals. Health is my biggest challenge and I am prone to becoming overwhelmed by information and conflicting points of view. I tend to focus on periods of extreme restriction followed by epic binges – usually in response to some emotional upheaval. And once I start on sugar or refined carbs, it’s all over. This is the biggest thing I want to address. I used my Bullet Journal to brainstorm, then went through the Powersheets process and found that the I was able to clarify my goal in a way that felt right – not overly complicated, restrictive or intimidating.

I’m going to recalibrate my relationship with food.

Stay away from the foods that make me feel out of control and inspire binges, eat more of the foods that nourish my mind, body and soul. Not worry about carbs, calories, macros, fasting, avoiding dairy or banning sweet potatoes.

Just eat real food. Kindly and gently.

Here’s to my first new goal and those yet to come.

Love,

P.S. A full review of the Powersheets to follow…once I’ve had time to dig in a little further and assess how well they work for me. So far, they seem promising!

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Yoga To Turn Your Morning Around.

Anyone who experienced an Australian childhood in the 1990’s is familiar with the entertainment gold that was ‘Bananas in Pyjamas,’ – a five minute show chronicling the trials and tribulations of two men in banana suits and three people dressed as giant teddy bears.

Anyway.

There was one particular episode which saw the bananas get up on ‘the wrong side of the bed.’ Their grumpy moods infected their day and everything went downhill from there.

That’s how I felt when I woke up this morning – stressed, tried and over it before the day had even begun. And it was raining. Ugh.

Although there’s a lot to be said for ‘pushing through,’ I didn’t even attempt the gym or a power walk this morning. I decided to treat myself to a Yoga session from Classic Flow, a beautiful podcast produced by the ABC. Lara’s beautiful tuition is accompanied by classical music on piano and cello and makes for a wonderful immersive experience. As this is audio instruction, it is best suited to those with some Yoga experience, however there are videos of the sessions available here.

 

I set up my mat in front of the fire and got stuck in to the ‘Rinse and Release’ episode. They say that in Yoga, how you show up on the mat is how you show up in your life and today, I was stuck and I was cranky. But after half an hour, I feel like the worst knots had been smoothed out of my body and my mind and I was able to front up to the day in a slightly more productive frame of mind.

I love that something so small can turn the day around – it’s a timely reminder that even when life feels out of control, we have the power to make a difference.

If you are in need of some soothing Yoga in your life, check out the Classic Flow podcast here. Or if you want to feel better about your day (or just need a 90’s nostalgia hit!) you can relive the exploits of the Bananas in Pyjamas here.

Love,

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