Do You Love Looking At Your Calendar? If Not, Try This

calendar-overhaul-where-light-plays.jpg

It’s Sunday evening and you take a look at your calendar for the week ahead.

You’ve either booked in something every night and feel exhausted already, or you hear crickets chirping from your planner, with nothing to look forward to but work, work and more work.

Over the past few years, I’ve managed to get my diary into a state I’m really happy with.

The structure changes from time to time, depending how busy I am at the office, what season it is, or how I’m feeling health-wise, but I’ve collated my top tips to help you look at your planner and feel excited for each week ahead.

Set weekly parameters

First, you need to set some ground rules. They can be flexible and a trial for now.

Why not try a month with an initial calendar framework, and set a date in your diary to review how it’s going after that month has passed?

After a super busy start to 2017, I was feeling spent and tired by the end of each week, so started trialling the following parameters:

  • A maximum of 2 weeknights out per week  
  • Booking at least 2-3 exercise sessions a week - usually 2 in the evenings and 1 on the weekend
  • One free weekend day or evening to recharge

I put the exercise blocks in my calendar but they could be moved flexibly depending on the week. Also, when friends asked for dates for a catch up, I was able to quickly see if I already had two nights booked out in any given week.

Be mindful of your weekends

I have seen this often with my coaching clients (and myself!) - we get to the weekend and jam pack our calendars and to do lists in an attempt to play catch up or pack some fun in after a long work week.

Before I started managing my calendar more wisely, I would wake up on a Saturday, go to see my trainer, do my groceries and errands, meet a friend for lunch, head for a wine in the afternoon, then move on to dinner and a night out with friends...

Sounds like a fun day right?

It usually was, but it also left me feeling exhausted come Sunday morning.

I started to pluck out the activities I loved doing and put in some that weren’t in my routine yet.

Firstly, I loved catching up with friends on a Saturday, but three catch ups in one day was just too much. I preferred the evening catch up so would usually suggest that to friends where possible.

Although I liked my Saturday morning routine, I really loved (and still love) a slow morning on the weekend. I make sure to block Sundays for this - I get up, make coffee, read my book, then take a long walk along the river.

Considering six mornings a week I’m working to a timeframe and pretty tight schedule, this type of morning is so appreciated. I love the quiet and slow pace of this practice.

How are your weekends looking at the moment?

What activities do you want to keep and what is missing from your weekends?

My four tips on creating a new routine can help you too.

Look at your calendar and ask yourself this tough question

Now that you’ve set some parameters and addressed your weekend planning, it’s time to look at each booked activity and ask yourself the most important question - ‘Am I happy this is in my calendar?’

If it’s a workout, it’s easy to roll your eyes at that question, but if the answer is a firm ‘no’, can you try a new class or take a friend for a walk with you so you actually look forward to your appointment?

If it’s a catch up with friends and the answer is no, you have permission to cancel.

Whether it’s because that week you don’t feel like going out with certain people or it’s a bigger issue to address, the key is to love looking at your calendar, not respond with ‘meh’.

If you could replace a ‘meh’ catch up or activity with something that makes you say ‘yes’ to the question of ‘Am I happy this is in my calendar?’, what would that activity be?

I’d love to hear how these tips help you improve your calendar and, even better, I’d love to see what your calendar looks like once you’re happy with it! Please shoot me a message here and share.

May Recap and June Intentions

Although 2017 seems to be passing quickly, May actually feels like it went pretty slowly for me as I look back on the month.

I relaunched my website on the first day of May, which feels like quite a while ago now, and I wanted to pause and say a huge thank you for your support with launching my coaching business.

I have one coaching spot free in June and would love to chat to you for 30 minutes (complimentary!) about your goals for the rest of the year and see if we’re a good match. You can read about my coaching package here and contact me over here. I’d love to hear from you.

May was otherwise busy with coaching sessions and celebrating the birthdays of some of my favourite people.

Now we’re into the start of winter here in Australia, so let’s see how I did last month and how I’m going to keep warm in June...

May Recap

Have tech free time on weekends

Why do I so often forget how amazing this practice is? If I’m not mindful, my default, switch off mode is to pick up a device and browse social media for umpteen minutes and hours.

Over the last month, I’ve made sure to put my phone on the charger as soon as I go to bed so I’m not scrolling right before I sleep, and I’ve also been going device free for at least half a day on the weekends.

I’m so much happier and present when I do this.

At night I’ve been reading (see what I’ve been reading over here) and on weekends, mixing some productive errands with simply relaxing with Pickles.

Start weekend hikes

Yeah, no… this did not happen... 

Despite my best intentions, other plans or rain got in the way of my hiking dreams.

Stay tuned for June...

June Intentions

Enjoy quality time

I have two trips planned for June, one with friends and one with family - both who live in other cities.

Although that rules out much downtime on those particular weekends, I am excited to spend time with those close to me in person.

There are lots of celebrations in place and it will be a great break from everyday routine. Not a hard intention to meet!

Do one weekend hike

I’m not sure this will equate to staying warm in winter, but at least one weekend hike has got to be possible in June.

I have been walking on the river behind my house as always, but am going to plan at least one weekend day late in the month where I try out a new area. Wish me luck!

-

What are your plans for June? Don’t forget to get in touch if you would like a 30 minute complimentary coaching consult to start planning out the rest of 2017.

 

Why I Ditched My To Do List In Favour Of Self-Love

I’m very excited to be featured on a fellow coach, Bailey Opsal's blog this week, talking about the challenging topics of self-love and self-care.

All too often, in conversations with friends and clients, self-love is a concept they struggle with.

It’s not that they hate themselves, it’s that they think the more they push themselves or berate themselves, the more pleased they’ll be with themselves ... and that will somehow lead to self-love. It kind of sounds logical, but also quite harsh.

I used to fall into this camp. Sure I had fun and took care of myself, but the repetitive to do list of everyday life took precedent - I had to exercise a certain amount, there was always a list of things to do around the house and guilt and anxiety would set in if I wasn’t on top of everything.

I eventually figured this busy work was surely not what life was about.

Similar chores and to do lists would always be there, but I no longer wanted to make them the focus of my life or thinking.

I decided the things I loved to do had to come before my to do list.

So what does that look like?  

Yoga

If you remember this earlier post, you’ll know that I resisted yoga for a long time. In line with my busy to do list, yoga seemed boring, slow and did not burn enough calories for me back in the days when that mattered to me.

Now, I do it every day in some shape or form. It’s usually first thing in the morning and has worked wonders for waking me up and stretching out my creaky body after sleep.

You’ll know my favourites are Yoga With Adriene and Tara Stiles - try these short videos from Adriene and Tara if you’re interested.

Yoga now gets me out of my own head and slows me right down.

Reading

I used to read like a crazy person when I was younger - to the point where my sister was horribly embarrassed by me always carrying around a book.

Like many avid readers I know, the plight of social media and the short attention spans that come with it, meant I wasn’t reading nearly as much as I was buying books.

Over the last 6 months, when I catch myself on my phone, checking Instagram for the 10th time, I remind myself that reading would be much more fulfilling and again, will help me switch off.

I read a combination of hard copy books and download onto my Kindle app obsessively (are you guys all over the free sample chapters on Amazon’s Kindle store? Try before you buy!).

I’m currently reading The Course of Love (I am obsessed with Alain de Botton) and The Year of Magical Thinking (heavy going but Joan Didion’s writing is incredible).

Spending time with people

If you’re ever feeling too much up in your own head, my best advice is to go and spend quality time with someone else.

Sure you might want to talk about what you’re going through or your to do list might be nagging at you, but inevitably you’ll gain some perspective and either be distracted, or realise we’re all going through similar things.

If I can’t catch up with people in person regularly enough, I try and call them in the car on the way to or from work and make sure I check in with those most important to me.

Playing games

Those who know me, know I have a penchant for video games… yes, yes I know...

My favourite for years has been The Sims (stop laughing) which I dip in and out of a few times a year. I also love hidden object games (Google them!) - they are great for switching your brain off and relaxing. I have also recently made a triumphant return to playing Mario Kart.

Listening to music (and having dance parties)

Although I have an obsession with podcasts (my current favourites are The Life Coach School Podcast and On Being), I recognised a while ago that absorbing information constantly isn’t always the best for me switching off.

What is good for switching off my brain is listening to music - I try and do that in the car more often than not, and love going through my back catalogue of music on the computer at night and dancing around the living room when called for (much to the confusion of my cat Pickles).

What can you do this week to step away from your to do list? 

I also have one coaching spot opening up in June - contact me here for a complimentary 30 minute consult if you'd like to talk about how you can find fulfillment outside of your to do list. 

Why Some Days Are Better Than Others

As we make our way through January of a new year, it’s not unexpected that many people’s heads will be swimming with resolutions and ways to improve themselves in 2017.

Making promises to yourself to change for the better is often a plight to achieve our perfect lives – our perfect body, career, home, family and faultless days to boot.

But what is a perfect day? Is it a day full of productivity, errands and perfect health? Is it holiday cocktails on the beach with no work or responsibilities in sight?

And how impossible is it to achieve this flawless life?

One of my recent online discoveries is Amy Young, a life coach specialising in relationships. Her YouTube videos make me laugh and she’s super real about life and a big advocate for taking it easy on yourself.

One of her videos is about ‘better than’ days. Go watch it. Seriously. After suffering anxiety, she started to note down activities that made some days ‘better than’ others. Not perfect, just ‘better than’ the not so good days.

I’ve started doing this in the last month. Each night if I feel I’ve had a ‘good’ day, I’ll note down what made it a good day and, I’ve got to say, it really strips things back to the bare bones.

My ‘ingredient list’ for good days, as Amy calls it, is not outlandish or impossible to maintain – in fact most of the activities are things I can do pretty regularly.

Below is a sneak peek of my ingredient list for good days:

  • Doing a Yoga with Adriene video
  • Going for a walk in the sun
  • Eating pasta and drinking red wine
  • Writing a blog post :)
  • Calling a good friend
  • Dancing around the house to music

My challenge to you: when you find yourself heading to bed thinking ‘well, that was a good day’, note down in a log what made it ‘better than’ other days.

Let this serve as your roadmap to what you want to punctuate your days with and let me know what improvements you see when you work these activities into your life more regularly.

A flawless life is probably unrealistic, but good days are not. 

November Recap and December Intentions

A grey November morning with a surprise visitor...

A grey November morning with a surprise visitor...

Holy smokes, it truly is the end of 2016. Where is the hoverboard I was promised? 

I’m looking back on a productive but tumultuous year and participating in one of my favourite online programs - the Holiday Council with Molly Mahar from Stratejoy. More about that shortly.

November involved a busy time at work learning some new skills (I initially dreaded this but am now really enjoying it - who knew?), my first trip to a kinesiologist (would you be interested in hearing more? Let me know in the comments below) and, my personal favourite, some great catch ups and meaningful conversations with family and friends.

So let’s look back on my November intentions and set some final ones for the year.

Chill out

Uh, yeah, I did not succeed at this intention. My personal development tendencies are still going strong, however I did definitely cut back.

As I mentioned, I am doing the Holiday Council and have been chatting to the lovely Paige from Healthy Hits the Spot, however I’ve definitely reduced the number of self-help books and podcasts I’m dipping into.

Instead, I’m listening to more music (remember this song from Nelly? It's making me oddly happy at the moment) and more storytelling podcasts like Modern Love and Phoebe’s Fall. I’m also reading Helen Garner’s new book of essays, Everywhere I Look - her writing also makes me super happy. If you haven’t read her, I highly recommend.

December Intentions

Take stock

The Holiday Council is a 3 week program run through December, where you wrap up the year that was, and start planning for the year ahead.

My favourite parts of Holiday Council are:

  • the visualisation Molly does on one of the live calls where you go forward 12 months and see what your ‘future self’ is up to
  • the monthly planning of activities you want to complete throughout the next year
  • the quarterly review calls Molly does throughout the year - these are sometimes free so subscribe and keep an eye out!
  • choosing my word for the year - my word of 2016 was ‘Choice’ and I’m looking forward to choosing one for 2017.

Be present

Just like the year itself, the holiday period and the events that come with it will inevitably fly by.

I do love this time of year, so want to be present and enjoy the time I have with friends and family, in particular enjoying activities I don’t do as often throughout the rest of the year (swimming, water skiing, gorging on shortbread, peaches and nectarines).

Laura Vanderkam put it best in her ‘How to make time slow down’ newsletter from 2015:

“For the door does close, and eventually I will be looking back on all of this. Even happy moments bear in their shadows this melancholic reality. All moments are finite, the good, and the bad. All you can do is choose to deepen your experience of them.”

 

34 Ways To Have Fun Every Day

In between incessantly organising our to do lists, our careers and our families are the moments when we lose ourselves and have genuine fun.

Back in this post, I pointed out that many of us have neglected to include fun in our every day and quite a few of you asked how I bring enjoyment into my day to day life.

I’m a big fan of lifestyle coach Sarah Jenks and she inspired me to make a list carved into categories (yes, you can be organised and controlling even with your fun list!).

I’ve got a few regular activities that I swear by week to week (I try a new cafe for lunch each Monday, on Tuesdays I take a pilates class then go on date night) but it’s good to have this list to refer to when I’ve got some free time or more importantly, when I’m feeling in a slump.

I hope you can steal some ideas from my list for your own lives and let me know in the comments below if you have some great ideas I might be missing!  

Pleasure

  • Get a massage
  • Take a bath
  • Get a mani pedi
  • Buy fresh flowers
  • Walk outside

Romance

  • Have a date night
  • Go for a picnic
  • Plan a weekend getaway
  • Go cycling
  • Go for a sunset walk

Friendship

  • Call a friend
  • Visit a museum or exhibition together
  • Cook a BBQ for friends
  • Go for brunch
  • Visit a rooftop bar after work

Adventure

  • Go hiking
  • Wear a new outfit or makeup look
  • Go bowling (my idea of adventure - haha)
...OK, I definitely need some new adventure ideas

Entertainment

  • Go to a concert
  • See a play
  • Go to Moonlight Cinema
  • See a poetry reading
  • Watch cooking shows (one of my guilty pleasures)

Tuning out

  • Sleep in
  • Stay in bed and read books
  • Read in the park
  • Take a nap

Education

  • Watch a documentary
  • Read non fiction
  • Go to an adult education class or do an online course

Creativity

  • Listen to music
  • Dance
  • Cook
  • Write

Which ones are you going to add to your fun list? Let me know below! 

September Recap and October Intentions

Readers - I can’t thank you enough for your lovely words and messages after last month’s recap. August was a tough month and I wanted to preserve one of the purposes of this blog through that post - to show you that life isn’t perfect and that we’re all just doing our best. So thank you again for being here, I appreciate it so much.

September was an improvement and it’s a great time of year - the days are getting longer, the weather is warmer and the last quarter of the year is always full of fun activities.

I had a couple of weekends away too (see the amazing Wilson's Promontory above), which always makes for good memories and weekends that feel extra long.

Now let’s get into how I did with my September intentions:

Increase energy levels

September was a much more balanced month for me - it wasn’t perfect but I was focused on healthier foods, long walks by the river and choosing sleep over big nights out.

It’s good to regain focus after the bumpier seasons of life and taking time to plan and slow down was the way for me to facilitate that.

I also took up some good habits in September - dry body brushing (start doing this immediately, it’s so good!) and drinking apple cider vinegar and lemon water in the morning (I have no idea if this is benefiting me but stay tuned!)

Study comes first

I also did well catching up on my studies but realised I had in fact exaggerated the situation in my head. Like journaling my worries (and realising most were not true), I had blown up in my head that I was quite far behind on my course and then, paralysed by the overwhelm, was putting off delving back in.

When I finally sat down one evening to make my to do list and finalise some worksheets, I realised I was in fact not that far behind and was caught up on a few major things within the hour. I’d spent way more than an hour stressing about it and there I was - I had done it!

What are you procrastinating on or blowing up in your head at the moment? Let me know in the comments below.

October Intentions

Blog it up

In line with my theme of honesty, you may have noticed I haven’t been posting quite as regularly around here.

I’ve been busy and going through some issues yes, but I also haven’t been planning ahead with posts or spending the time I’d usually like to on the blog.

I’ve accepted that as part of this season of life, but still want to be here to serve you through my writing, and also serve myself by doing something I love to do. I have a whole list of posts I want to write so I’m going to prioritise them and carve out time each week to focus on writing.

Please let me know in the comments if there’s any topics you’d like me to specifically post on too!

Rekindle friendships

Along with you lovely blog readers, my friends have been super supportive of me over the last few months. I am trying to live by Brene Brown’s philosophy of vulnerability and it’s tough, but it makes for much stronger connections and conversations.

As we get into the busiest time of year, I want to make sure I have plenty of catch ups planned with my closest friends, not only to benefit me through fun and connection, but also to make sure I’m being there for them now that I’m starting to feel better.

--
What have you got planned for October readers?

Let me know your intentions for the month in the comments below and feel free to share this post on social media if you think it will help others.

Why You Should Stop and Celebrate

I come from a family that loves to celebrate. Birthdays are a huge deal, champagne is called for when someone buys a new car, Christmas sees a tree overflowing with gifts and I always get texts from family on pertinent anniversaries.

It’s what I’m used to and I’ve always felt grateful for that being how my family operates.

Celebration is something I’ve held on to as I’ve formed my own life away from my family.

I like to make a fuss over friends’ new jobs, new babies or new anything really, and my husband will attest that I smother him in birthday fun whether he likes it or not (spoiler alert: the answer is ‘or not’)

So why should we take time to celebrate?

It differentiates your life

Although I’m sure you all try to lead rich lives, it’s natural to feel a sense of groundhog day from time to time. Another day at the office, another meal being cooked for your family, the days can just bleed into the next.

By taking time to celebrate - whether that be a dinner out, rewarding yourself with a new candle or taking a day trip away - breaks up our lives and creates stand out memories.

It feels amazing to make someone else feel special

One of my favourite reasons to celebrate is to make someone else feel great. I’m not a cruel person who forces ‘Happy Birthday’ to be sung in a restaurant to a cripplingly shy friend, but I make sure my loved ones are made to feel special through words, gifts and somehow making their life easier on important occasions.

It points out how lucky you are

Not every person in this world has the resources to celebrate in the way we do. Along with that comes the fact that not every person has friends and family to celebrate with.

When I stop and celebrate my own and others’ special occasions, it gives me a chance to pause, look around at those close to me, and remember how truly lucky I am to have the life I do.

--

Do you take the time to stop and celebrate? What’s the next milestone or occasion you can start planning a celebration for now?

 

May Recap and June Intentions

Ah, perspective. I went back and re-read a few of my recaps and intention setting posts and had to scoff at myself for this one. Cold and short days in February? I don’t think so Georgie.

Here we are in winter in Australia - chilly mornings, followed by crisp sunny days (on my ideal days anyway, rain and cloud otherwise). I’ve moved out of holiday mode and am back into the swing of everyday life. Here’s a look back at May and a view as to what’s up next for me.

Morning yoga views in Thailand

Morning yoga views in Thailand

May Recap

I didn’t set any specific intentions here on the blog for May but considering the first week of the month was spent in Krabi, Thailand, I kicked it off nicely.

It was a great chance to unwind and relax, but it also made me realise I really missed our home in Melbourne and of course, Pickles, cat extraordinaire.

It’s a good feeling to come back home and see everything with fresh, appreciative eyes.

Pickles patiently awaits our return...

Pickles patiently awaits our return...

Upon returning to Melbourne, I’ve spent some amazing time with close friends.

My friendship group is all busy with our own careers, relationships and families, but when we come together for quality time, nothing really beats it.

I 100% remember why we’ve been friends so long, why we still push to stay in touch and how important friends are to lean on.

June Intentions

Keep the juggle calm

I am juggling quite a few things at the moment - work, study, social occasions, regular life admin. But post-holiday, I’ve found myself doing it in a calmer way than usual.

I’m not cramming my days full of appointments and I’m also not rushing from one task to the next - instead I’m trying to be present and give full attention to what I’m doing, whether it be laundry or coffee with a friend.

I’m hoping to keep this slower pace through June.

Do a financial review

After a few big purchases and a great holiday (worth every $), I’m ready to settle back into a more measured budget and get the savings up again. In particular I’m focusing on getting the rush from the ‘new purchase’ (aka online shopping) in other ways, namely free ways.

I will also keep in mind the future goal of savings and how good that will feel long term compared to the short term happiness of a new winter coat or a new mascara.

-

What are your plans for June? Any intentions you’re planning on working on?

 

5 Lunch Break Ideas to Increase Your Productivity This Week

For my entire career, I’ve always been a huge proponent of taking my lunch break.

In fact I’m quite commonly known around the office as the one that will always go out for a walk at lunch, and have befriended many coworkers over the years who want to join me sporadically or regularly.

Clearly not every day or week lends itself to taking a full lunch break but, when possible, I try and recharge.

I find my afternoons are much more productive and I can reset my energy levels for the rest of the day.

Here are 5 ideas to try out this week.

Enjoy a book

Escapism is a great way to recharge your brain. After a busy morning, reading fiction can help you step out of the work grind and even strengthen brain connections and cognitive function

If you can’t find a cosy spot to read, download an Audible book and listen to it as you take a walk around the area.

Eat without digital distractions

This is a tough one that I continually have to work on.

It’s very easy to scoff your lunch while scrolling through all the Instagram marble bathroom or smoothie photos you’ve missed from the morning.

The problem is you very rarely enjoy your food and it’s easy to either eat past fullness or not feel full at all as you haven’t savoured your food.

I find it hard to stare into space while eating, but talking to coworkers at the office kitchen table is a good alternative and, as an added bonus, it helps build relationships.

Meet a friend

Use your lunch hour to catch up with a friend for lunch.

Chatting about topics other than work projects and enjoying a proper break at a local cafe will leave you ready to focus for the afternoon.

As an added bonus you won’t have to cram as many social engagements into the evenings and weekends if you utilise your lunch break for catch ups.

Listen to music

A good way to give your eyes a rest from screens is to plug in some good tunes.

You could enjoy music while lying in a nearby park, taking a walk (we’re seeing a pattern here) or browsing local shops.

Again it will help you get out of your own head and escape into whatever type of music works for you.

Pamper yourself

Self-care is a very positive way to spend the middle of your day.

Get a manicure, a short shoulder and neck massage or try out some makeup at a local cosmetics store.

The focus is on rejuvenating yourself and feeling fresh when you return for an afternoon of work.

What helps you recharge on your lunch break?