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A BUSINESS ANALYSIS… ON YOU!

Do you ever find that when one or two things are going really well in your life then there is always something that isn’t? You’re in a relationship that makes your heart sing but your job… let’s not go there. Perhaps your your career is starting to fly, you can already see the bright lights, but all your nearest and dearest are starting to drag you down…

Friend, this is no coincidence and it often happens because we are focusing all of our energy on one or two areas of our lives and give very little thought to the areas that we are neglecting.

All is not lost though. If you spend a little time on working out what is lacking in your life, you can start to reallocate your time to the things that really matter to you. Today, I am going to introduce you to the “Business Analysis” you can perform on yourself! This can be a really powerful tool you can use to take charge of your life and get you back in that drivers seat.

The focus areas

In my opinion, if you want to live a life that you actually love, then first you need to find balance and your reason for being. Performing a life analysis will help you get that balance back and refocus your energy. We all all complex creatures that are made up of different components, as below.

  • Health & Wellbeing
  • Sense of Purpose
  • Career & Finances
  • Relationships
  • Creativity & Inspiration
  • Education

What Is Thriving?

Looking at the list above, what jumps out straight away as a thriving area of your life? Are there area’s that you wouldn’t change even if you could? Rating each of these areas will help you to work out where you are lacking.

What Are Your Opportunities?

Where can you focus your energy better? What is lacking in your life right now? If time wasn’t an issue, what would be possible? Again, rate each area, then you can see clearly where you need to fill up those tanks!

What Are Your Threats?

Ok, this is important – working out where your energy needs to go is really important as you also need to thing about where your time is going right now and where it should be going. What are your non-negotiables? If you know that exercise helps give you a clear mind but you feel you have no time for it, then something is going wrong. Their are 24 hours in each day, if you cannot allocate at least 30 minutes to the things you know you need to thrive then you are not putting yourself first.

Remember, you need to fit your own oxygen mask so that you can help others. This works in our every day lives too. If you don’t prioritise yourself and your needs, you won’t ever live your dream life.

Now What?

Performing your analysis is futile unless you follow through on your findings. As well as acting on the the areas that are currently lacking, your objective should be making this sustainable. So make sure that you keep checking in with yourself.

LIFE HACKS FOR YOUR GOALS TOMORROW

Hey friend, feeling a little stuck and low? Living day by day but not really achieving anything that you want to? Does ground hog day feel like a reality? Fear not! Here are some pre-sleep hacks that you can put into place to help you towards achieving your goals tomorrow (just don’t put them off until tomorrow!)

1: CREATE A BEDTIME RITUAL

This is the biggy. It is a final line between a rebellion and claiming that your evenings are ‘you’ time. For you self-confessed night owls (I will happily own this title myself!), refusing to go to bed at a reasonable time because of the time that you dedicate to others, you really aren’t doing yourself any favours. Trust me.

As much as we search for freedom our minds often search for routine. By setting up even the most basic evening routine can set you up for success the next day, here are some ritual suggestions:

Consciously set the time you will go to bed. If you know you need eight hours of sleep, work out what time you need to be in bed to get it! Don’t get distracted by Netflix and don’t go for ‘another 5 mins’, you are only sabotaging yourself. Set your intentions for sleep and do it.

– Turn off the tech 1-2 hours before bed! Seriously, soooo many studies have shown that little blue light from your phones/tablets actually suppress our body’s natural nightly release of melatonin (yep – the deep sleep!). This means that our brain things that it is still day time and good bye sleep.

– Ditch late night snacking and booze so that your body is able to slip easily into sleep mode.

2: GRAB A BOOK

– Studies have shown that even as little as six minutes a day of reading can reduce your stress levels by as much as 68%! Escape into a new world and let your mind unwind. Think of it as unintentional meditation.

3: TAKE A WALK

Having a dog means that I often take a stroll just before hitting the hay and it has become a ritual that I just can’t miss. It really helps me to shake off the day, calm my mind and having some quality time with the pug, who would say no to that!

4: PLAN YOUR DAY THE NIGHT BEFORE

This is one of my newest habits. I plan my next day before it has happened. This helps me to let go of tasks that may have plagued my mind, lest I forget and sets the tone for the day that is coming in. I only spend about 15 minutes doing this and jot down bullet points in a notebook that I always have on me. That way my mind is not clogged with a mental to do list and things don’t get missed. Ta-daaaaa.

5: GET READY AHEAD OF TIME

Another habit I have is to set out my outfit, bag and lunch the night before. I am then not left staring at the wardrobe each morning (how many hours I have stood, staring blankly at that wardrobe…) or scrambling to get my bag ready to dash out the door. Having everything ready that I need is a real time saver and helps keep the mornings relaxed.

6: HAVE A MORNING RITUAL

Snooze buttons. I am looking at you. Hitting that snooze button is really not going to get you an extra ten minutes of sleep. In fact it’s actually doing you harm. This is not rocket science. Get an earlier night and then rise earlier. This will give you time for breakfast, to get ready and do anything else that will help you start your day right. For me it is an early walk by the water, this clears my mind and doesn’t leave me feeling like I have dashed to work straight from bed and ready to conquer my day!

DO YOU NEED A TIME BUDGET?

We all have those moments when we realise that we are no where near where we thought we would be. Those New Year pledges that you were going to smash out are now a distant, faded memory. It’s not your fault, you just didn’t have the time to fit it all in!  Sound familiar?

Why is that? I am guessing that for most, the prospect of actually getting kick started on these grand plans seemed just way to big to even contemplate. I mean, there were just too many things getting in the way. Time, well, there is just not enough of it.

You are constantly short of time. You never have time for the things that really matter to you. Just getting your way through that endless to-do list of basic life admin has you swallowed up.

Even worse. Your mind is so full of meaningless little things that you have no space to spark your imagination? You wish that you had the time to think about passion projects, family or goals but really your time is taken thinking about chores, replaying how your work day went, solutions to anxieties. It can leave you feeling frustrated, frazzled and wanting to escape when you realise that you have lost the ability to think straight, and it is a very real problem.

So, how can you stop the endless buzzing in your mind and claim back psychological bandwidth so that you can start to fill your precious time with your passion projects, hustle that side business, goals or gasp… play!  Well friend, let me introduce you to a time budget!

Don’t switch off now, before you start to say that you don’t have time for more admin, that this sounds like one more thing on the To-Do list – stop. A time budget is a pretty simple, uncomplicated thing and very much how it sounds and very much worth it.

BEGIN

Start thinking about where you are spending your time just like you would if you would look where you spend your money if you were doing a financial budget. You know that there is a finite amount of time available to you (just like those pesky $$) and a time budget will help you become conscious of where that time is going so you can find your equilibrium and restore balance again.

Here are a few tips on how you can get that time budget started so you can take back your time…

TAKE NOTE: Yep, you guessed it. Write. It. Down. If you aren’t actually aware of where your time is going there is no way you will get it under control. The first thing you need to realise is where your spare time is going. Are you spending mindless time on tasks that you could outsource? What about your travel times? Are you spending time on things you don’t really want to do or are you multi-tasking and failing? Spend a week writing it all down to see where the minutes and hours are going. Don’t over think this, just keep it simple and document as you go.

NON-NEGOTIABLES: Next step, lets work out what are the things that you really need to do, including the time to do it. Start with your fixed time expenses like going to work and sleeping (we all have to do those!). Next priorities what is really important to you. Work out what these are (be realistic here, adding learn a language when you have no intention of doing this will just clutter your mind!). Looking at your priorities, is there anything that you can get someone else to do? Start to plan your time and include:

– Non-Negotiables (E.g. Sleeping – your basic must-do’s)

– Rest & Recharge (E.g. Reading a book – something that calms you)

– Share (E.g. Friends/family – those people that enrich your life)

– Invest (E.g. Hobbies/projects – your passions that fulfil you)

You know from the time that you wake up each morning how much time you have on a daily basis. Work out where you want to spend those hours, allowing time for things out of your control to minimise frazzle!

VISUALISE & ORGANISE: . Remember the saying “Fail to plan, plan to fail” nothing is truer. Work out the best times for you to work out how you want your week to go. This doesn’t need to be a Sunday either, I make sure that I spend my Sunday afternoons and evenings doing something that I love or that excites me to keep my energy up and banish those Monday blues! Work in time to visualise how you see the new week going. Perhaps going for a walk can help you. Make sure you have everything you need (washing and ironing – life admin!). Have your spaces and tools in order so that you can achieve what you have planned ahead. This could be a simple as having your gym bag packed. Being prepared and ready will help you to succeed with that time budget and on the straight and narrow. Remove those barriers.

BECOME A MASTER OF THE FREAKOUT: Freak outs happen. This is the first thing to understand. Becoming overwhelmed because you have run out of time to do something, or noticing that your stress levels are rising because you find yourself on the back foot is out. Letting yourself become consumed by this freakout is not ok though. Instead, stop and write down what your freakout is. All of it. Just start writing down your fears and worries and then plan out your time to address everyone of them when you are able to. You may work out a solution straight away but if not that is also ok – book in the time to work out the solution if it will take longer, this way you can control the angst and unburden yourself, freeing your mind.

BREAKING THE BUDGET: . Ah, the budget failure. Know that as with anything in life you need to know that you cannot control everything and you will sometimes go over budget. That is ok because you have already had wins, no matter how big or small and you can reallocate time if you need to make it up.

So, what do you think? Willing to try out a time budget?

ATTITUDE TO GRATITUDE

“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” — Albert Einstein

 

These days it is pretty hard to avoid the topic of gratitude. You know that it is one of those things you should focus on, but when you’re in the midst of a melt-down, work hustle or just the daily grind it can be easily overlooked. But did you know that gratitude affects your success? Yup, it’s a bit more interesting now isn’t it! Here are a few major ways gratitude and success are connected.

Gratitude Shifts Your Focus

Like attracts like. This may all seem a little airy to some of you, but stay with me, it is worth it – I promise. Have you ever noticed that the more you focus on the negatives around you like like obstacles or setbacks that you have, the more problems seem to surface and consume your time? You may have slept through your alarm becoming late for work, getting a parking ticket and accidentally tip your coffee down your white shirt (all happened in one day!).

If you choose to instead focus on the things that are going right then suddenly things just seem to go right. It’s win after win and success seems to follow you, you have the midas touch to everything and you can’t help but be a little in awe of this magnificent day! You start to notice these  wins and successes, in fact, you will probably notice that your success grows the same way setbacks used to when that’s what you chose to focus on. By becoming a more grateful and positive person, you will become someone other people feel great being around, which can lead to more opportunities, wins and success!

So how exactly do you move that attitude to gratitude? Glad you asked!

1. START GRATITUDE JOURNALING

Yep, I was pretty skeptical at first too, but hear me out: the five minutes you dedicate to journaling will set your intentions for the day, keep you focused, and make you a happier person overall. (And I was always so sure that the gateway to paradise involved red wine, Karen Walker or at the very least Zara!)

When I started on my own journey of discovery, I was fairly overwhelmed – where on earth do you start?!? I was given some great advice on the simplest way to start gratitude journaling. Here is what I was told:

start your day by listing the three things you are grateful for, what would make today great, and what your daily affirmation is. Then end your day with these two questions: “What are three amazing things that happened today?” and “How could I have made today even better?”

Get specific here about what really makes you warm and fuzzy. Don’t make the mistake of listing general things you are grateful for, really drill down and pin point the exact things that get specific about the things making you feel blessed, no matter how big or small.  It’s that simple and takes five minutes, making it perfect for you commitment-phobes out there!

 

2. INCORPORATE GRATITUDE INTO YOUR MORNING RITUAL

Bad news for those of you that still believe that the snooze button is your BFF. An extra 15-20 minutes in the morning can make a huge difference between setting a positive intention for the rest of the day, or being stuck in a reactive-slash-frantic, panicked state. You know the type of day I’m talking about! Take the time to inspire yourself and manifest some really cool shit. Remember, the more you feel gratitude and recognise all the amazing things in your life, the more that will flow your way throughout your day. Repeat after me: Good vibes only!

 

3. KEEP CALM & MEDITATE ON

Gratitude is a facet of mindfulness, and when you’re meditating it forces you to reflect on the awesomeness of the present moment. I wrote about some apps that can help out with guidance – as I mentioned, I am big fan of Calm and hey, it even has a “gratitude practice, how’s that for synchronicity??

Meditation is (in my opinion) on of the biggest things that you can do for your mental wellbeing and has proven health benefits like stress management and coping skills. It gives your mind a chance to calm down and enables you to notice the small stuff that makes a big impact. Like getting caught up in clear, starry night, enjoying margarita Tuesday with your tribe, or if you are me, chasing your pug up and down and beach you have all to yourself! No judging, you would too if you saw the little guy! These are the little things that your normally busy mind would have missed but will now fill you up with happiness and hope. And that my friends, is something to be mighty grateful for.

 

4. SEND THANK-YOU NOTES

The written word is so over looked in these digitally, filled days! Why not spread the positivity by giving a shout out to anyone who’s made your day. Whether it’s a hand written note on gorgeous stationery or a simple post-it! It doesn’t matter, heck if you resort to an email or a text who cares.

Taking the time to express and acknowledge your gratitude goes a long way. Try to get in the habit of sending at least one note per week to someone that makes your life better!

5. DO A DAILY DIGITAL DETOX

The struggle is real. Unplugging and switching of, even for 10 minutes a day can bring us to a hyperventilating standstill. You don’t know what you will have missed in those precious lost minutes!

Seriously though, many of us have an actual addiction with our devices (I will return to this in another post!) and find ourselves picking up the smartphone the minute our sleep eyelids flutter!

Why not unplug or switch to airplane mode the night before so you don’t get distracted firth thing by alerts or notifications. Instead, use this newly won time to dedicate to gratitude journaling and/or meditation – hell a walk first thing out in nature will help you kick start your day. Worse – seeing a dreaded deadline pop up before you even step foot in the office…! Mark my words, you will soon notice the difference in your mind, body and even get a digital-free glow about you!

How will you adopt an attitude to gratitude?

LIVE A SIMPLER LIFE

Need a bit of a pep talk? Life is getting a little out of control? We have all been there, having your ah-ha moment is the first step to getting back on track. Getting back to basics, culling those habits that need vanquishing and cultivating those that need a little kick start is your next step.

Simplification my friends. It sounds simple, but watch out, simplicity can be quite the trickster!

One of the first items on my list when I am determined to declutter my life and mind is to take on the digital world – yep, online cleanse! For although all things digital can seem like they are making our lives easier (helllooooo online shopping!) it can quite quickly become overwhelming and clutter our heads and home environment. So let the cleanse begin…

HAVE LESS.

I have a particular love of the Minimalists, Maria Kondo and her Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you are like me and have an unfortunate habit of collecting large amounts of dust trapping, knickknacks, magazines and those documents and booklets that you just may need one day. Then I suggest you look to the experts for support! Removing the clutter from your environment is a huge detox. It includes all cupboards, draws and small spaces that act as black holes for these unnecessary items. It is incredible the freeing effect this can have. Stick to a rule and be ruthless – if you haven’t touched it for the last 12 months, do you really need it?

BUY BETTER.

Buying better is a brilliant segue from your newly cleansed environment. Instead of loading up at all of the new year sales, stop and ask yourself if you are consciously buying. Buying better quality items that will last you longer will reduce your spend later. Learn to buy things that you love and that you will use versus those cupboard stuffers and clothes that you never get around to cutting the tags off. By completing step one, you can start to asses what you have, what you need and want you want. Then, create a plan. For things that you want (or thinking of replacing) if you can do without them for two weeks, do you really need it?

SHRINK YOUR SCHEDULE.

Us humans are pretty efficient at “being” busy. In fact, we are often so busy that we don’t have time to think about what we are busy doing. Hitting the new year is a great time to look at a Time Budget.

Simply working over the space of a week where your time is going, then follow these steps:

1: Determine what are the most important things to you that give happiness and satisfaction to your life.

2: Schedule these things into your diary and your other to-do’s can fit around them

3: Learn to say no!

DIGITAL DEVICE DETOX

When you wake up, what is the first thing that you do? If its checking your social media then I suggest an intervention! Do you even know how much time you are flittering away scrolling your social media feeds? Even worse, think about what that means for your ability to be present and spending quality time with the people you love! We are all guilty of it, the first step is becoming aware of how much of a hold social media has over your life. Next time you go to whip out your phone – stop and think about whether you need that sneaky peak!

DON’T MULTI-TASK.

Do you pride yourself on multi tasking skills? Think again. You may not be quite as clever as you think. In fact, because you are trying to achieve so many things, your are actually wasting your time. More importantly, because you are not present in any one thing that you are doing, you are thinking of ways to make it better or problem solve. So, repeat after me, I will tackle things one at a time….!

How will you simplify your life?

 

CHANGE: A CURATED (SIMPLE) LIFE

curate2

kjʊ(ə)ˈreɪt/
verb
past tense: curated; past participle: curate
To select, organize, and look after the items in (a collection or exhibition).

When I realised that I had to get real and get myself and my life together it sparked a whole lot of thinking. As far as I could see, the problem was that I was all over the place in every aspect of my life. The problem was that nothing was broken so I didn’t look at anything too closely. Bank account? Noooooo, I didn’t want to check that – I knew that my latest trip to Karen Walker made me want to avoid that baby for a while. Sort out what I had on that week? I was pretty sure I had double booked myself multiple days, so I was going to ignore that until it was almost on top of me. You get the picture, and that was just scratching the surface!

An idea that kept niggling at the corner of my mind was why I had so much cr@p in my life. From over committing, to bills that I had ignored. Overflowing cupboards and drawers to drifting in jobs. Don’t get me wrong, there were great things buried deep, down in the depths but all the amazing was being over crowded by the not so amazing. What I wanted was less but better.

I wanted less of the clutter and drama so I could focus on all of the amazing things that were going on. This idea of consciously selecting and curating the things that I was most passionate about started to grow. To select the best items, to organise and look after them – it occurred to me that this could absolutely work in our daily lives. This includes our time and energy and love, surely our most precious things. 

One of my strongest beliefs is that the reason so many of us struggle with the lives that we are living is down to us living over complicated lives that often have us feeling trapped and unhappy. But what if we were to take a more simplistic, minimalist look at our lives and strip away all the superfluous and focus our time and energy on the most important, essential things. 

So what is this curated, simple living? Well my friends, it is cleansing, detoxing, restructue and decluttering. Decluttering our physical spaces, our minds and looking at our values, habits and goals – and then simplifying these in the same way that we would a bookshelf or wardrobe, let’s break it down a little more… 

Why Simplify?

To be practical, this is where you need to start. First up, how do you feel about your life? What makes you anxious, frustrated or trapped. Where do you want to be? Are you on track to get there? What are your values, goals and motivations? Starting here is a great start to a figuring out what you want.

Priorities

Part of my problem was consuming. Society doesn’t have a problem with this and we are sold to and at on a disturbing frequency. Objects have a high priority in our lives and other people are often who we look to to judge value, whether that be the way we look, where we live, where we work and ultimately the value that we assign  to ourselves. We can trap ourselves in houses that are too expensive, jobs that we don’t love (because we need that pay check!) all this uses a lot of your time, energy and money and can have an end result where we are searching for happiness but resign ourselves that it will always be out of reach. 

This is where the concept of a curated, simple life – a conscious life comes in. If you feel that you are spending all your money on material things, getting a bigger and better house, racking up debts then why not look at stripping things back. Start by the big detox. Get rid of things that clutter your space. Then, lets look at what is cluttering your mind and after this big detox comes the fun stuff! Resetting, working out your values, dreams and goals. You now have free time, energy and money that you can redirect to things that really matter to you. Whether that is spending times with those that you love, learning new skills or hobbies and engaging in the pursuit or happiness.  

In a Nutshell

Here is, in my opinion, the foundations of simple living:

  1. Detoxing and decluttering. This is in all aspects of your life, physical and mental. Making sure that you get rid of the negative to them be able to surround yourself with positive things and people that allow you to think, breath and dream.
  2. Removing unnecessary overcommitment . Not placing yourself in situations that make you unhappy because you know what and who you value. You make your decisions based on your passions and values and you have freed your time, mind and energy to do so.  
  3. You know your life priorities. You ask questions because you know you base your decisions on your true values. You have goals, dreams and you know how to work towards them.  

This is only an introduction to a very vast subject that is curated, simple living. The journey to simplicity is a long road, paved with trial and error, but it is also a road to self-discovery, growth and contentment. It takes time, as it is a part of growth as a human being, and that is all right, in fact you may find the journey more enjoyable than the destination itself. Wouldn’t that be something! 

DETOX: DO YOU NEED A DIGITAL DETOX?

Are you addicted to your phone? Does it make you anxious if you and your precious are parted? What about when you have a moment of down time, do you whip out your device to avoid those terrifying seconds of nothing-ness????

As you read this, do your hands feel clammy at the mere thought of your precious not being with you at all times? Ok, I will stop but you get my point. The real question here, it’s time to put that smart phone away and to remember what it’s like to be in the real world?

When you think bad habits and addictions have you ever considered what the impact your digital consumption is having on your life? I want you to think about how the constant notifications make you feel. What about when you are with your friends or family, do you spend more time considering how insta-worthy that moment is instead of being in it? Is the very first thing you do when you wake or go to bed a social media check?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, then perhaps it’s worth considering a digital detox to regain control.

Ok, let’s test out your digital dependancy level! I want you to think about how much of your day that you would spend on your phone, tablet or computer – be honest now! Diary your digital usage for a day – how many minutes have you spent in the digital world? Pretty scary huh!

Here are some stat’s for you. In a recent Nielsen survey, roughly 3.1 million New Zealanders aged 15 and over spend 14 hours online – that is the equivalent of two working days a week! According to a Pew Research Centre’s Internet and American Life Project, there are a whopping 67% of smart phone users that will check their phone for any form of notification (emails, texts, Facebook etc) even when they don’t see their phone ringing or vibrating.  Sounding familiar?

Now, I am not suggesting that you avoid technology completely, a little social media hit every now and then is great for inspiration and hey, without it, you probably wouldn’t be reading this. It is also nearly impossible in our modern, working world. However, if we are using our digital devices in excessive amounts it can actually bring about a whole heap of anxieties and stresses in our lives as well as disengaging us from friends and family. Not, good.

Hence why I am introducing a digital detox. Switching off every now and then to make sure that you are staying present, conscious living if you will. Here are some tools that you can try to use to help you on your own digital detox.

SET YOUR INTENTIONS AND PLAN FOR IT

Like any good detox or habit change, start by deciding what your goals are, from there you can break things down to achieve your goal. Bite size it. Caution, don’t get all crazy and extreme here. Start slow and be realistic. Start by choosing a realistic timeframe that you want to switch off your digital devices. Is it an evening, a day, a week even you crazy thing!

It’s also important to define what digital means to you; is it everything that uses a glowing screen and/or the internet? Or are you just trying to cut down the time you spend scrolling through social or websites before you get out of bed? Lastly, let I know if you are.

If social platforms are a major source of communication for you and you want to take a break – or there are people that you regularly text, then let them know that you won’t be on as much and how they can reach you. You don’t want people to think that you are ignoring them or freak them out.

GET OLD SCHOOL

This is my favourite part, swap out your phone for some more old fashioned devices. Remember alarm clocks – or even better – a Lumie. Wake up to light, music or information instead of harsh buzzing and beeping.

Get back into stationery. Wear a watch. Read a book. Listen to some music. Get retro!

RE-ENTERTAIN AND RE-INTRODUCE YOURSELF

Now that you are embarking on your digital detox, use this time to think about hobbies and spending time with those that you love and improve your quality of life – instead of using Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as your social networking fix. Have real conversations with people around you.

What about old fashioned books? Use your evening before you go to sleep to disconnect from the backlit screens, which by the way will help you with the first habit!

THE ART OF DOING NOTHING

Studies have shown that smartphone owners check their devices every 6.5 minutes, that is one heck of a habit to break. It is also a way that we have conditioned ourselves to feel anxious with downtime. Recondition yourself to enjoy solitude, calm and, well – nothing. Life is pretty crazy, so it is ok to just take a break and not feel guilty. In fact doing nothing can be a breeding ground for creativity!

Are you ready for a digital detox and tell me what your goal is?

HOW TO: CRANK YOUR MOJO

It can be hard to keep our minds sharp and engaged, especially when we are tired and stressed out. The modern work life is often one that lacks balance with our home life and passions. Being constantly “on” can be hard, but it can be even harder when you can feel that you have run out of gas and are at risk of burning out.

If you have lost your spark, your mojo is feeling a little flaky or perhaps you feel that you are feeling like you have run out of juice, here are some of my road tested remedies to get that mojo cranking again!

Hit the hay

I have put this first as I do believe that this is one of the single most important things that you can do to recharge. Sleep. Sleep is really, really good for you, seriously. Most of us don’t get anywhere near the amount (or more importantly the DEEP sleep that we need – REM) that our bodies and brains need. It is REM sleep that will recharge and refresh your mind to get you back to creative brilliance.

Interestingly, Keith Richards famously woke up with the riff to “(I can’t get no) satisfaction” in his head. He is one of many that have epiphanies or brilliant ideas – there is a reason that most successful people cite sleep as their most protected habits.

Get your butt moving

Exercise is just like sleep – it is really, really important to your general and mental well being. I am not talking running for 10km every day (although it would be an impressive kick start!) I am actually talking mini-breaks. Think a quick walk around the block when you mind starts to wander and you get the dreaded “brain-fuzz”. Working a consistent, daily exercise routine – even 30 minutes a day (out of 24 hours, 30 mins should be no problem if you prioritise and sleep!) and the more you do, the more you want to do. When exercising, your brain actually changes its chemistry (think endorphins and so much more), so it really is the best thing to do when you’ve hit a wall.

Get that fresh perspective and make it even better but getting outdoors as often as possible. be able to get back into the groove with a fresh perspective.

Get your house in order

A clean, tidy space will not just help remove irrelevant anxiety and brain space but it will help inspire you. One of my favourite books at the moment is THE LIFE CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by MARIE KONDO and it really is life changing. This is not simply moving things around or focusing on what you can see – this is storage space as well – trust me, giving your different environments a serious makeover (or under) can shake the cobwebs out of your brain and energise you again.

Get your goals in order

For me, creating new goals and opening my mind to check in with my dreams and what I want to do feels like fresh new sheets or opening a brand new note book. Re-focusing on your goals, values and dreams for your future will renew your energy and focus your actions. Why not set up a visual mood board – somewhere that you look at often. Developing mental pictures of happiness, success and goals creates and strengthens the neural pathways within your brain as well as renewed hope in the future. Who doesn’t want that?

Get outside and hit the vitamin D

Taking that 5 minute walk around the block during a busy day maybe one of the best things that you can do in your working day. Breathing in fresh oxygen and feeling the warmth of the sun will absolutely give your mojo a boost. Even moody, winter days if you rug up will help you to remember just how big that world you are in is.

 

Get rid of the negativity and bring in the positive

If you are wanting to free your mind and open it, then removing as many of the little negativities that you deal with daily is a great start. Surround yourself with good people that bring you up and don’t pull you down with put-downs or negative comments. Find ways to bring laughter into your life more and before you know it, your thinking will change for the good too – just make sure you channel any laughter in the right way!

 

Having a clear open mind is a gift and something that we need to constantly work on. Scheduling time to check-in with your self is a great habit to get into keep your life in balance.

Hopefully the above tips will help you to crank that mojo back to where it showed be, releasing all sorts of creativity and brilliance. Go forth and conquer!

MINDFULNESS: MENTAL BANDWIDTH

One of my pet hates is (insert wail) “There are just not enough hours in a day and it stresses me out!!!”. Before you get mad and tell me just how busy you are being busy, just give me a minute to explain.

If you never give your life a mental stock take then it will easily run out of control. This is what I will keep going on about here on Conscious Me. You have to stay on top of your life! Yes it is admin-y work. No, it isn’t as fun as hitting the sofa with a Friends re-run. It is your life though. How important is it to you really?

I get it, with work life often bleeding into our personal lives we are faced with a barrage of emails, meetings, phone calls, voice messages, family, friends, life admin – the list goes on. We are all just so busyyyyyy!

You tell yourself that you have to take it all on. Sheer frustration may drive you to keep adding more to your to-do list because you know that these things just won’t get done by themselves. All facade of control is gone. Does this sound familiar? This scenario is fine if it is just every now and them but if this becomes your everyday life then something has to give – it isn’t living and it will make you miserable.

Let me introduce you to Mental Bandwith. There is a reason why incredibly successful people are able to achieve amazing things. Think Leonardo Da Vinci, Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Beyonce and many others. What is it that these legends are doing that you aren’t? They have set off on a creative revolution whilst you are panicking as you see your notifications pinging away on your smart phone and then the horror really starts as you realise that you don’t have any clean clothes as you can’t remember the last time you did the washing!!!!

Glad that you asked. As our minds are becoming overwhelmed by the constant stress of “busy-ness” the bandwith that we have to think clearly or problem solve becomes compromised. Science has proven time and time again that our brain has limited capability for consciously processing multiple things at any given time.

The key to getting balance and your life back under control is to increase your mental bandwith and removing the blocks that are stopping the flow of thoughts, clearing up that beautiful mind of yours. I know that this seems really quite simple but as many things it is often easier said than done.

I want you to take back control with both hands. Grab it, wrestle it and get back your mental bandwith so that you can use it for good and not the mundane:

1. STOP IT. STOP EVERYTHING AND START ANALYSING

You know that everything is unbalanced but you cannot see the wood for the trees. That big picture thing, not happening. You need to take a stocktake of where you are at and where you want to be. Don’t scrimp on time with this. I see you shaking your head. This is your life that you are trying to get back in control. Block out a full day if you need to, if you are done sooner great but at least you have dedicated time to this – it is your life we are talking about. Grab some post its and start to scribbling where your time is going. Get it all out. It doesn’t matter if you use one colour or colour code, just put pen to paper and write it all down.

2. PRIORITISE YOUR TASKS

Ok, you have all of your post it notes. It is now time to start working out what is what. Start grouping them by IMPORTANT and URGENT (time critical). Define the most important things that you need to do and start grouping the things that you can see are not really that important or urgent. Work out what things you will do each day – 3 to 5 that if they don’t get done, your day is over. Do these things first every day – no excuses or procrastination. A great book to read on this topic is Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

3. DO A LIFE DETOX

We all fall victim to filling our time with time consuming yet wasting tasks that we know add no value but we have convinced ourselves they have to be done. Work out (again, I recommend post it’s!) what things you have that are draining your mind and energy – this could be people. If they don’t add value or serve towards a bigger picture – cull them.

4. SCHEDULE YOU-TIME

Just as you would an important meeting, schedule time in your diary for YOU. It actually doesn’t matter what you do, it just has to be what you want to do. This time cannot be eaten into by doing things that you shouldn’t – you need to schedule time for you. This can be watching a movie, reading a book, going to you chill place. Whatever it is – allow an hour if possible. A 20 min run will help but not by much.  Schedule this time and make it consistent.

5. MEDITATE

If you don’t already practice, learn. This is one of the most vital methods to living a balanced, in control and fulfilling life. In fact, many successful people, both business and celebrity have a daily meditation practice. If you feel that this is a slightly daunting process you can get some amazing aids. Have a read on the Mindfulness blog post I wrote a while ago. Still not feeling it (although I think you will if you really make a go of it) then get outside and go for a long walk.

Combine these steps with better work planning and a focus on expanding your mental bandwidth to experience a more productive state of calmness, concentration and clarity, and improve your ability to think straight.

Now Breathe!

CAREER: 5 WAYS TO THRIVE AT WORK

Work gets a bad wrap and we often think about it the wrong way. You know what I mean – answer this honestly, how many times did you make a comment about how long it was until the end of the day. This is pretty crazy considering the amount of time that we spend in our day job. We have a couple of options, if you hate your job that much perhaps it’s time to start the hunt for a new one. If it isn’t that bad, it’s time to quit that negative thinking, seriously it is really not fun to be around (sorry, truth hurts!). But. Not all is lost. You can turn it around and thrive in your 9-5 (see what I did there?). Here are 5 ways that you can make sure that you thrive not just survive at work.

1) It’s time to take a VA-CAAAAY! 

It is so important that you take a REAL break from work. This is something that we often get wrong and more often feel guilty about. Have you ever worked whilst you have been on holiday? Taken a call, opened that inbox? Taking time to recharge and recuperate is critical for our wellbeing and success. Resist the urge to check in from the beach and know that things will be just fine without you.

Living a life where you work all the time and don’t prioritise taking the time for a break and recharging simply isn’t sustainable. You are not only doing yourself harm but your company!

 

2) Get those ZZZZZ’s

Skimping on your sleep time is the fastest way to stress, burnout and job dissatisfaction. The topic of zzzz’s is one that I am pretty passionate about – insomnia often plagues my darkest hours and man do I notice when I get it under control. It seems so simple, but is often elusive and it really doesn’t need to be. It does take some work and it is allllll about routine. Not that sexy but neither is operating on 2 hours of sleep! In fact, getting eight hours sleep each night is often one of the most quoted secrets of success of highly successful people, so there has got to be something about it!

The nasty: sleep deprivation can impair focus, learning, memory and decision-making, and over time can contribute to a whole host of physical and mental health problems. On the flip side, adequate rest can improve health outcomes, productivity and mood.

“To cite just one example, a study published in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that the cognitive effects of sleep deprivation are directly comparable to being drunk.”

3) Build mindfulness into your an every day practice

Honestly. If there is no other wisdom that you take from me, let it by mindfulness. Make it your own by practising and trying on different techniques. You can research what the experts say or just try things out. Meditation can mean different things to different people. For some, a good, long run is the ticket. For others, walking in nature. Swimming a few laps can stop that whirling. Seriously, as little as 10 minutes each day of sitting still and cultivating a meditation practice can make a real difference.

Starting the day with a little mindfulness can also seriously boost your wellbeing and your brain power. For me personally, I know that journaling is what works for me. I previously was convinced that this sounded way to hippy, touchy, feely. I was willing to open my mind though, because to be honest – things weren’t that crash hot and I really needed to work out a way to reset my mind and work out what the hell was going on. I was pretty successful but a complete mess. Journaling helped me turn things around and on a scientific front has been linked with improved memory and focus, better emotional well-being, reduced stress and anxiety, and improved mental clarity — all of which can contribute to a more dynamic work day. Who doesn’t want that!

4) Take it slow

For high achievers (you know who I am looking at), it’s so easy for life to start feeling like a never-ending cycle of work, family, life admin and other obligations. But to create a life of success and wellbeing, it’s super important, nay, imperative that we find a way to balance work with everything else that matters to us — family, friends, health and time for rest and reflection. Cutting down your schedule to the most essential activities and saying “no” to the rest is one place to start, while disengaging from digital distractions can also help you to better enjoy unoccupied time.

5) Pay it forward

Give back. Remove the ego and ask yourself not what can you get but what and where you can give. One of the simplest ways to improve your work life may be to find a way to improve the lives of others. There’s no question that giving is good for your body, mind and spirit — and, it can even boost productivity and fulfillment at work.

Stay with me, I know that it may sound counterintuitive, but giving your time to others — even when you feel stretched thin and stressed — can completely improve your mood and wellbeing, which in turn can help you make more effective use of your time. So figure out what feels the best to you. Do you want to volunteer your time? What about that colleague that you know is struggling. There are no limits here. Is there a client or customer that you can help out without the bonus?