Tag Archives: learning

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.

The Mad-Eye Moody method of mindfulness practice

moody

Gretchen Rubin has a theory that we are all either abstainers or moderators. Abstainers find it easier to give something up entirely, and moderators can have a little bit of something and then stop.

When I first heard this theory, it made sense to me and I believed myself to be an abstainer. It’s true that the best way for me to not binge eat is to not have the foods that I tend to binge on in the house. But ultimately, this categorisation of myself wasn’t very helpful because it meant that if I did eat a piece of chocolate, I could justify eating the whole box because “I’m an abstainer so I actually can’t stop.” Then, feeling sick with sugar and shame, I would vow never to touch chocolate ever again. And I wouldn’t. Until the next time I ate far too much in one go.

Eventually, I decided to try just eating one piece of chocolate, or having a few spoonfuls of ice-cream without devouring the whole tub. And while it is difficult, I found that it is perfectly possible to put the food away and not finish it. After a while of doing this, it became easier to enjoy a small amount but know when to stop.

So, I much as I admire other things that Gretchen has to say, I’m calling bullshit on the abstainer-moderator theory because at it’s best it gives us an excuse not to try and change our behaviour, and at worst encourages the cycle of bingeing and purging. It reinforces the message that we are “just like this”, that there is no other way.
Continue reading

My word for 2016 is peace: here are 5 things I’ve learnt so far

A beach in India.

“My word for 2016 will be peace. I’m going to focus on staying still.” – Me in January

At the start of the year, I set my one word goal as peace. I’m still not sure whether it was prompted by trying to stay still, but the months that immediately followed setting this resolution were possibly the most emotionally tumultuous of my life. They say that if you want to make God laugh you should tell him your plans.

Emotional roller coaster sounds like such a cliche but it is the most useful way of describing how it felt. I went from not wanting to get out of bed to manic excitement in the space of a few hours. I returned home from work a nervous wreck, likely to collapse into uncontrollable tears for barely any reason at all. It was exhausting.

Thanks to a combination of medication, writing and talking, my moods are now much more stable. I’ve had a chance to think about how my year is going in terms of peace. The conclusion? I’ve learnt a hell of a lot.
Continue reading

The fear of being wrong

photo-1452110040644-6751c0c95836

I’ve had a couple of panic attacks this week and both (at least partly) took place at the gym. I learnt a valuable lesson here about the answers always being more complicated than I pretend they are (I have to re-learn this on a regular basis). I had been counting down to the gym re-opening as though it would solve all my mental health problems. True, I always do feel better when I exercise, and the gym can often give me some much needed structure, but obviously it’s never that easy.

The gym I go to used to be an LA Fitness Gym, but has re-opened following a refurbishment as a Pure Gym. It’s taking me a little while to adjust to the changes, and some of the things that they’ve changed have made using the gym a pretty anxious experience for me.
Continue reading

Living to learn

2015-12-06 19.08.40-2

Knitting a tea cosy, hat, and then a sweater or two has brought me so much joy.

When I dragged him to Hobbycraft to buy more wool last weekend, my husband commented, “You were so adamant that you were a crocheter who couldn’t knit, and now you’re knitting all this stuff.”

Somehow I had forgotten that learning new skills, conquering something I thought I could never do, is one of the core things that makes life worth living for me.
Continue reading

Some things on the internet worth reading

As things are winding down for Christmas I’ve been sorting out things on my computer, ready to start work again in January with organised files. One of the things that needed tackling was my bookmarks which was full of every single webpage, blog post or article that I thought was interesting in 2015: so quite a lot.

When I read something that makes me stop and think, I bookmark it, thinking that soon I will email it to somebody or write about it on here. Usually, I do neither of these things. But rather than see my digital hoarding tendencies go to waste, I thought I would post the best of those things here.

In no particular order…
Continue reading

SONY DSC

2015 in review

As 2015 is almost over, I thought I would have a look back over some of the things that I’ve done.

I recommend that you do this actually, because when I first sat down with a pen and paper (I do my best thinking unplugged) to write a list I didn’t think I had done that much. But I discovered that not only had I done more things than I thought I had, a lot of them are really awesome things that I’m proud of.
Continue reading

How shopping bans are like diets, and throwing things away won’t fix you

Trigger warning for disordered eating (somewhat bizarrely, you might think, in an article about decluttering and shopping. But I often find that the way we relate to one thing is the way we relate to everything).

When it comes to clothes, I’m a shitty minimalist. Yes, I am good at throwing things away but I almost immediately buy new things.

In the same way that having a thin body doesn’t mean you have a healthy one, a small wardrobe does not mean simplicity. Over the past few years, there has been as much binging and purging of my clothes as their was five years ago with the food I ate (or didn’t).

Just like going on a diet has led to me restricting my calorie intake to unhealthily low levels, my pursuit of simplicity has led me to throw out things I now really miss.

In the same way that wanting desperately to loose weight led me to binge eat entire tubs of Ben and Jerry’s icecream, I managed to spend over £100 on clothes within a few weeks of my KonMari clearout.
Continue reading

The first time I… listened to myself on a podcast

When Jo asked if I would be a guest on her new podcast Introspectology,  I agreed right away. I really enjoyed chatting to her about my story, my wedding and how I see the world.

But when it came out I found myself feeling anxious about listening to it. When my husband put it on, I became so self conscious at hearing my own voice I had to leave the room and would only come back if he turned it off. I know, sometimes I act as though I am four years old.
Continue reading

“What a pretty scarf!” Some things I learnt about keffiyehs and Palestine

2015-08-25 16.44.44

I seem to have accidentally stolen a scarf, having driven home wearing one that my mum lent me to keep warm while I was visiting at the weekend.

I don’t regret doing this as much as I should because a) I love it and b) it led to me learning something new this week that I’d like to share with you.
Continue reading