July Recap and August Intentions

I’m curious - do you guys set monthly goals or intentions? How do you track your bigger goals for the year?

I’d love to hear so let me know in the comments below or over on Facebook.

I do have bigger goals that I work on through the year, but love to have these little check ins each month to keep me focused.

July Recap

Take a break from winter

There’s no measuring the value of 30 degree weather in the middle of winter for me.

Hawaii was just what I needed - a perfect balance of hiking, snorkeling and waterfalls, alongside pool / beach days and plenty of naps and reading (see more below!).

Depending on where and what time of year speaks most to you, I highly recommend booking a holiday in advance, and don’t forget to enjoy the lead up - after all, they say the anticipation of your trip is pretty much as good as the break itself ... amazing right?

Focus on tech free time

I definitely feel like a success with this intention (at last!). I seriously reduced my technology time while I was away - only really checking social media in the morning and maybe once at night.

And the result? I managed to read six books within the first week. What?!

Even with a fairly busy schedule of sightseeing and meals out, during moments on the beach, while I was having my morning coffee, before bed, I kept picking up my book instead of my phone.

Averaging around 4-5 hours of reading a day meant I powered through my hard copy books and Kindle picks and it made me really think - what else would I have done with those hours? Probably scrolled through Instagram and refreshed my email ... scary right?

Instead I managed a good mix of self-development and fiction titles, switching off from the incessant feeds on my phone. And my top reads? Hot Milk and Loving What Is. Enjoy!

August Intentions

Stay healthy at work

After a couple of weeks off work, it was easy to fall back into the inbox/chat trap and look out at the dreary winter weather and stay inside all day long.

I want to stay healthy through August so am going to look into apps (or set my own reminders if that is overkill!) that remind me of a few things - to drink more water, to get up from my desk and to stay focused on work and not get distracted by overwhelm.

Do you guys have any app recommendations?

Complete an early spring clean

With plans to buy some new furniture and rearrange a few bits, I’m starting to cringe a little when I see piles of stuff with no home or overstuffed cupboards around my house.

I’m not sure I can face a full day declutter so might break this up into manageable tasks over a few weekends so I’m not spending my whole weekend sorting through stuff.

But like I spoke about in last week’s post, I’ll be doing this from a strong mindset - plugging in a great podcast or some music, grabbing a nice drink and getting comfy while I go through everything.

What are your plans for August? Are you feeling the need to get more intentional at work or at home? Set up a complimentary consult with me and we can chat through the next steps.

 

Breaking The Procrastination Cycle

Oh the irony - I was procrastinating on writing a blog post this week and then decided to write about procrastination!

This morning I sat down to my computer to write and found myself scrolling through Instagram, reading other blogs, looking at holiday photos of people I’ve never met on Facebook... you know the drill.

I always feel brilliant after I write to you readers, so what was holding me back?

The task seemed too big

Even though I write here every week, today the idea of it just seemed insurmountable.

Writing and editing the post, finding photos to go with it, sending it to my subscribers (BTW - have you signed up above to receive my blog posts and my 5 best tools for everyday ease yet?) - it all seemed like too much ahead of me today.

However, I mentally broke it down into smaller tasks - I would just try and write the post, then see what happens. Of course momentum took over and once one task was done, the next seemed possible - and so on from there.

I couldn’t visualise the benefits

‘No one’s going to mind if I don’t post this week’, I thought.

But then I remembered I promised myself back in October that I would post every week and that I would be bringing value to my readers if I did so.

I’ve made a commitment to write here on the blog and I know mentally that if I don’t achieve that it would eventually make me feel negatively towards myself.

I hadn’t told others

The accountability of someone else should definitely not be underestimated.

I spoke to my friend Abby and told her I was struggling to get a post out this week. She talked through the perils of procrastination with me, we had a laugh about our similar mindsets and I knew now that she’d be expecting me to get the post done.

If you’re feeling in a slump and not motivated to get something done, talking through it with someone really does work wonders for propelling you forward.

There was no reward in sight

Celebrating and rewarding yourself are not negative things.

My reward wasn’t even that big - I told myself if I wrote this blog post I could make myself a latte and sit on the couch catching up on Snapchat.

Yup, that sounded pretty amazing to me so I pushed through and knew the reward was coming.

I could have easily procrastinated with that activity first, but it felt so much better to sit down with an accomplishment already under my belt.

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Whatever you’re procrastinating on, try these tips to propel you forward.

I’m happy to be your accountability partner if you let me know what your task is in the comments below!

January Recap and February Intentions

How has the first month of 2016 been for you dear readers?

Mine has been pretty great - with no specific intentions and a fairly free schedule, I’ve been able to enjoy the warm weather, take my time with thinking about 2016 and I’ve also been practicing a fair amount of gratitude (more below).

So here’s what’s changed at Where the Light Plays this month:

Journaling

I’m pretty sure I was 16 the last time I kept a journal. And it was mostly to document my crushes…

I’ve mentioned them a few times but I’ve become even more obsessed with Alex and Mimi Ikonn lately. On the surface they lead a pretty glamorous life but their backgrounds, outlooks and goals are very sincere.

I’ve been wanting to pick up The Five Minute Journal for a while but the overseas shipping is pretty exorbitant. Apparently this will change soon so I think I’ll still purchase my own copy when the time is right.

The great thing is the authors, Alex Ikonn and UJ Ramdas, actually give the planner away for free on their website. So I mocked up my own journal to start trying out this habit in January.

journaling-ikonn-cactus.jpg

And? I truly love it. It puts me in a great frame of mind when I think about what I’m grateful for each morning and makes me more conscious about what I want from that day.

I can check in on the journal after work to make sure I’m on track with what I wanted, then I practise gratitude before bed. I totally recommend trying this (even without buying the journal).

Productivity Planner

The obsession with Alex and UJ continues… again, for free.

As you probably know, I’m always up for trying new strategies to be productive and manage my time at work. I’ve been using the Productivity Planner worksheets to plan my week on a Monday morning, listing out my most important tasks. I then complete a review of the week on Friday afternoon to see how I’ve tracked with the goals and what I’ve learned and want to take forward into the next week.

A few weeks in and I’m finding this a very useful tool with a particular benefit being you feel like you’ve accomplished a lot by the end of the week.

Kittens!

Newsflash - I’m not the hugest risk taker in the world.

Luckily my husband has more of a taste for getting us out of our comfort zone, so persuaded me to agree to looking after two kittens for a week while his coworker was away on a business trip in January. I was pretty concerned about our current cat being put out and the general disruption to our house.

In the end it was such a rewarding thing to do - to know they didn’t have to go to a cattery, to get to hang out with two beautifully natured kittens and to help our cat socialise with other cats.

The lesson? The best fruit is out on the furthest branch, so take a risk!

February Intentions

And as for February?

Focus on home decor

We moved into our house almost two years ago now and I’ve been wanting to update some furniture, buy some rugs and do the final declutter ever since. February is my month to get this done!

I’m depending on Gray Malin and Danielle Moss for online inspiration. Check out my Pinterest boards here and here.

Plan a holiday

I’m very excited that we have an overseas trip planned this year. Almost 4 weeks in the States and Mexico is on the cards and I can’t wait! Time to trawl accommodation sites and plan sightseeing and (mainly) eating and drinking in each city.

If you have any Austin or Mexico City recommendations in particular, please let me know below!

Do my rehab

I spoke about this in an earlier post, but I have a niggling, continuing hip problem that gives me pretty bad lower back pain from time to time. I have a series of rehab exercises I need to do a few times a week but I always find an excuse not to do them.

The benefits definitely outweigh the time it takes me to do the exercises so I’m committing to three times a week through February.

What are your February intentions? Let me know below or over on Facebook

 

The Importance of Single Tasking

Do you ever feel paralysed by the list of errands awaiting you every Saturday morning?

Do you ever look up from your computer at lunchtime and realise, not only have you got nothing done, but you’ve added ten more items to your list?

One technique I’ve become pretty disciplined about over the past year is single tasking.

Fun fact: the word 'priority' is derived from French and Latin terms and the term was ALWAYS used as and intended to be singular.
As in, the plural ‘priorities’ doesn’t actually exist. We’ve just adopted it because apparently you can have more than one 'number-one important must-do thing to do' at once.
Crazy right?

We’ve certainly glorified the idea of multi tasking over past decades and then wonder why we feel frazzled and overwhelmed. We think we’ll get more done by doing three things at a time, but we are mistaken.

So what do can you do?

Pick ONE priority.

It’s singular remember? Pick one task or errand to focus on until it's done.

Leave buffer.

As you’re planning your day and which priority to work on next, try and leave buffer in your schedule.

If you finish early and can have a break, even better.

Hands off technology.

I’m sure we’ve all experienced this. Trying to regain concentration after reading a SMS or checking Facebook is a challenge you don’t need.

Don’t believe me? Read this to understand your brain on technology and also try playing the game to see how multi tasking is hurting you... 

Reminding yourself throughout the day that priority is a singular term can help keep you grounded. And I’m sure your productivity will increase because of it.

Does single tasking scare you? What’s your number one priority today?

Social media fail

I know Shark Week has just finished and I had to share this complete *facepalm* social media story. After mustering up the courage to share my blog around with a few groups on Facebook, I revealed my first post to …oooh… around 1,394 like-minded women in a particular group. Two of which run the group and are amongst my favourite bloggers.

Sharknado!

I typed my status, clicked ‘no thumbnail’ on my blog link and sent it out into the world. Below is the result.

sharky

Ummm, what? I have never seen this particular image... Luckily I have a slight knowledge of art and thought ‘That looks like that odd Damien Hirst installation’. A search proved me correct and I tried to take the high road – maybe it will give me some cred in the art world? Right? Right??

Enter me frantically searching for how to delete the photos in links once you’ve posted on FB (impossible as far as I can tell – you can only edit the text you’ve posted). I was fumbling around FB developer, clearing caches, with my husband chortling in the background.

A few days later I was playing around on my blog and discovered a thumbnail buried deep in the settings on one of my pages. Sharky! I still have no idea why it’s there but presumably it’s some kind of default. Sigh.

Lessons learned

Then I remembered the purpose of this blog – ease and living imperfectly. That shark will always make me laugh now and hey, I’m new to the blogging world, so errors are ok. Plus now I have a Shark Week post!

It takes courage to put yourself out there, whether it be at work, in a relationship or online. Although we'd like to think we can control the outcomes, we simply can't - a lesson I have to reinforce to myself regularly. My first instinct was to try and regain control, while also hiding my errors from others. Now, I'm flying the flag for my readers and putting it all out there, to let you know it's ok to be less than perfect. 

Have you been less than perfect recently? Have you made any mistakes that you're no longer going to hide?