Category Archives: Getting shit done

How to get more done

Weekends in the library.

Weekends in the library.

So it turns out that working full time, on top of doing a Policy Research MSc, Fundraising Diploma and NVQ in Management, plus keeping up a regular gym routine does not leave any room for regular blogging. (Apologies). But it does teach you a thing or two about getting shit done. So here’s a list of things that I’ve learnt about fitting more into your day.

Build things into your routine if you want to get things done.

Every other day, my alarm goes off at 6am. It’s dark and it’s cold, but I don’t give myself an option of staying in bed. I eat, pack and make it to the gym by 7am. I’ve finished my workout by 8am, and shower and dress before cycling to the office. I am usually at my desk by 8.45am.

It seemed brutal when I started, but getting up an hour earlier doesn’t have a negative effect on my day. If anything, lifting weights before work makes me feel pretty badass. And the exercise make me more awake than I am on my rest days. Getting up an hour earlier means I workout 3 or 4 times a week, without losing any time from my evenings.

I bet you want my Peanuts vest.

I bet you want my Peanuts vest.

The thing is, if I asked myself every morning at 6am, “Should I go to the gym or not?” I never ever would. I would go back to sleep every time. So I don’t give myself the option; I make it a non-negotiable part of my routine.

A day is longer than you think

I used to write off the day after 8pm. I said “Oh there’s no point in doing anything now”. So I settled down to watch several hours of Netflix or read a novel before bed. It turns out, there’s still a lot I can do after 8pm, even if I am a little tired. Some evenings I have settled down with a cup of tea, and done several hours of essay writing or studying. Of course, it’s important to have some downtime too. But learning that I can so good work late into the evening has taken some of the pressure off my day and ensured I get a lot more done than I thought possible.

I can work even when I’m not in the mood

As well as ‘It’s too late’, another excuse I used to give for not doing what I wanted to get done was “I’m too tired/sad/not just in the mood.” I used to wait until inspiration struck. Now I can no longer afford to do that, I’ve discovered that I can work when I’m not in the mood. Sometimes I need to bribe myself with chocolate, but once I start, I often get into it and want to work for longer than I planned.

Prioritise.

Of course, you can’t do everything, and having a lot to do really forces you to work out what’s serving you and what isn’t. I no longer go out drinking or partying unless it’s something I am really excited about. I spend less time wandering town and window shopping. I only hang out with the people that I’m genuinely interested in catching up with. And while I’ve wanted to blog more than I have done, the experience has made me realise that it’s not as important to me as being on top of my uni work, crafting or Skyping with Grit.

Take time off in the way that’s right for you.

I take less time out for myself than I used to, so I have to use the time wisely and in the way that I’m going to find most relaxing. As an introvert, this sometimes (okay, often) means turning down social invites for a night in watching Gilmore Girls. This means I’m most recharged for my next productive day.

A new chapter

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August is a time for plotting; for buying new stationery, school uniform, equipment for the year ahead. It’s a time of dreaming and scheming, mentally preparing for the step up into the next year, and thinking about the kind of person I want to be.

This year, it will be ten years since I left school. But September still makes me think of new year and fresh starts, so much more than January. A new school year brings with it a new timetable and new routine. It’s a chance to drop some bad habits and pick up new ones. There is an air of excitement as the weather turns cooler. We have to put our tights and socks back on and get down to business.
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What I’ve learnt about love (or, why I look in the mirror and tell myself I look great)

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I’m currently reading Becoming by Laura Jane Williams and would definitely recommend it. She writes with such intelligence, self-awareness and grace about her journey to where she is today. There have been so many moments in it that ring so true for me, I have to pause and let them sink in a little bit.

This one in particular stood out because it was about something that I’ve been wanting to write about for a while. I just didn’t know where to start, so let’s start with what Laura has to say.

I wanted love to wash over me and heal me and be me and become me.
I wanted to love myself.
That was it.
A voice raged inside me as the thought wandered across my mind.
YES! She screamed, uncompromising and forcefully. YES, YOU DO! THAT IS WHAT YOU WANT!
I let that sit with me. I wanted to love myself. I didn’t know how to get there, to that. How it looked. But I knew how it would feel.
It would feel like enough. And I – I desperately wanted to feel like enough.

As people, and especially as women, we are not very good at loving ourselves. We shouldn’t beat ourselves up about this. For the most part our culture is set up to make us feel bad about ourselves, so we might buy all the things to make us feel better, to keep the economy going and make sure everyone has a job (which they need to make sure they can buy the things that probably won’t make them happy).

The thing is, I’m starting to believe more and more than loving ourselves might be the thing that helps us most in our lives. I don’t want this to be the answer. Firstly, because it sounds really trite, and secondly, because it’s a lot more effort than buying a new dress. But boy does it work.
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Why my new resolution is to spend more money

I’ve been thinking a bit about life choices and procrastination this week.

For me, saving “enough” money to do something is a form of procrastination. Of delaying making a decision, and ultimately delaying doing anything. I’m using quotations around the word “enough” because I’m not talking about literally enough money to do it. By “enough”, I mean having enough in savings for it not to matter if I spend some of it. But this never happens.

I (and I don’t think I’m alone in this) always think I should be saving money. And, in some cases, I use this as an excuse not to do something that I’m a bit afraid of doing.
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I’m done with being self-conscious

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By day I work for a charity run by and for adults with learning disabilities. I love how they quite often manage to cut through the bullshit that non-learning disabled people cloud their lives with. Most of the time, the most simple and obvious response to things is the best one.

As part of the evaluation of a funded project, I’ve been working with a group of people to rate various aspects of the life of their lives on a scale of one to ten (these scores are revisited every six months to measure progress).

Anyway, the point is that one of these people gave themselves a ten out of ten for confidence, and it blew my mind.
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I spent 5 months without a home and became an adult

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In March 2013 I sold most of my stuff, loaded the rest into my car and got ready to live out of suitcase while I figured out what to do with my life. I spent the next few months extracting myself from what, with hindsight, was an emotionally abusive relationship. I had my first “summer fling”, pierced my nose, and drank more alcohol than I probably had in the previous two years combined.
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What running a half marathon taught me about motivation

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been slowly making my way through the Writer’s Workshop by Sarah Kathleen Peck. One of the many things I’ve taken from it so far is that being a successful writer is less about talent and more about practice. The people who succeed are those who show up and put in the work.
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Bread!

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Although I’ve baked a lot of cookies and cake, I’d never tried my hand at bread before Saturday. Despite being a big fan of eating it, I’d always assumed it was complicated to make and best left to those people who really know what they’re doing in the kitchen. Luckily for me, my boyfriend is one of those people, so I asked him to teach me how to make bread.
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