3 Ways To Balance Productivity And Ease

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I’ve been drawing on two concepts pretty heavily recently. The first is around productivity and, of course, it was sparked by my current guru, Brooke Castillo. She is all about managing the mind.

When it comes to time management she recommends scheduling the work you want to do and counting on your brain to try and talk you out of it when the time comes.

Want to clean your house on Saturday morning? You can count on your brain trying to convince you to stay in bed. Planning on a Pilates class after work? A glass at the new wine bar with coworkers sounds better. Want to write a blog post Sunday night? You deserve some ice cream and Netflix instead.

Sound familiar?

The other concept is around finding alignment, which is featuring heavily in Jess Lively’s work at the moment. When I have some free time during the day, I ask ‘what will get me into alignment?’ This pretty much equates to what feels best for me or what will bring me the most ease.

My mind used to lead me to spend that free time tidying up the house, paying bills or doing something equivalently un-fun, but now I tune in to what really sounds best, not what I ‘should’ be doing.

That currently looks like having a shower and putting a face mask on, going out for brunch or, my favourite, taking a nap. Rather than shoulding all over the place, I do what I really want to do.

So how do I marry these two seemingly different concepts up?

Honour thy calendar

Productivity is still important to me and getting things done can also put me in alignment. I just don’t want to run myself into the ground with my to do list.

So I schedule in my appointments, book time to write blog posts and block out time for exercise. When the time comes I know my brain will try and talk me out of it but I go ahead anyway, knowing that I’ve also set aside time to relax.

Set aside time for alignment

Leaving lots of space in my calendar to find alignment makes the productive times more easy to follow through on. Yes, there will always be dishes to do but when the free time comes, I don’t default to strapping on the rubber gloves.

I ask myself what feels best and go with it. And (shock) sometimes tidying the kitchen does feel like alignment - if so, I go with that too.

Regularly review your to do list

I keep a running to do list in the Notes app of my phone and I’m sure you all have different apps and planners and systems for tracking your lists.

A few times a week I look at my list and ask if the items are important to me anymore and actually need to be done.

More often than not I can cull a few items from the list - either because they’ve been there forever or because I’m mandating that I need to do them when I can actually let them go. Try it!

Does your brain try and talk you out of what you said you’d do?

And, when you have the space, do you ever ask it what feels best for you in that moment?

How To Stop Being A Technology Junkie

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Around four months ago, I started tracking the time I spend on my phone each day … as I mentioned in that post, I do use my phone to listen to podcasts while I’m commuting (up to an hour each day), but the number waiting for me in the Moment app next to ‘hours’ at the end of each 24 hours was still pretty exorbitant.

Like many, I often feel like I don’t have enough time.

Between work, my blog, coaching, cooking, exercise, keeping up the house, catching up with friends … you get the picture right?

But then how is it that I can manage 2+ hours a day on my phone?

The conclusion I came to was that I used it for relaxation. When I had a spare minute, or finished a task, or finished up the day, I was scrolling all my feeds.

Again, and again, and again, throughout the day.

What was troubling me even more were the not so acceptable times I was spending time on my phone.

When I had a nice ‘quiet’ weekend planned, the time on my phone skyrocketed, when I could have been doing some of those activities I feel I have no time for.

And even more harmful was the 3am pick up of the phone when I couldn’t get back to sleep - because we all know, a screen is not going to lull you back into a deep slumber. 

So what have I been trying and what can you do to cut back on tech time too?

Replace the urge

Picking up devices has really become muscle memory for many of us.

Particularly while away on holiday in Hawaii, I noticed, even when in another country with beautiful views and plenty to see and do, I would still automatically pick up my phone.

While I was there, I made a conscious effort to only look at my phone first thing in the morning and before dinner each night. Since a lot of the holiday involved swimming and relaxing, that left me with a fair bit of spare time. And I filled that spare time with reading.

This is something I’ve carried into regular life and now usually read my book to unwind after work and before bed.

As you can imagine, I am powering through plenty more books these days and although (disclaimer) I do read ebooks on my iPad, I’m actually more relaxed when I’m reading fiction (hello escapism) or non-fiction (learning about new topics) than I am when looking into other people’s lives on social media.

What main activity could you use to replace the urge to pick up your phone?

Create a list of spare time activities

I also began to wonder - what were all those things I wanted to do that I didn’t have enough time for?

They varied from doing more yoga, to decluttering my house, to blogging, to checking in with friends over the phone.

Knowing what I want to prioritise helps me when I do find myself reaching for my phone during a quiet moment.

I’ll do a yoga or pilates video on YouTube, I’ll call a friend or I’ll clear out a drawer that’s been bugging me.

Most of these activities are less than half an hour but usually make me feel much more accomplished and fulfilled than looking up from Instagram Stories for the 10th time wondering why my Sunday afternoon is nearly over.

What are some activities under 30 minutes you could add to your spare time list?

Admit that tech is not evil

This was an interesting learning from cutting back on my time online. It is truly hard to get away from tech day to day.

Life really has surrounded us with devices and apart from a hard copy book there’s not a lot I do at home or work that doesn’t involve tech of some description.

I’m grateful for online resources like books, TV shows, workouts and podcasts, and if they don’t have negative consequences for me, I’m going to go for it.

In what ways is technology creating a positive influence in your life?

September Recap and a break from Monthly Intentions

Welcome to October! (aka my birthday month!)

Q4 of 2017 is here and I’m ready to see the year out with a bang... despite the blog post title.

September felt a big sluggish for me - there was lots of rain around and some of those nights on the couch I wrote about last post. But thanks to Brooke Castillo’s September Self Coaching Scholars topic of ‘How to get it done’, I still managed to get a lot done!

So let’s look back at the month and talk about the plan for Q4.

September Recap

Start regular Pilates practice

This one went really well for me. The practise of paying for and booking classes ahead of time has been a big motivator for me, rather than having a gym membership where no one minds or notices if I don’t turn up.

If you’re struggling with consistent exercise, I’d recommend booking and paying for classes ahead of time to help you get there.

I’ve been going twice a week and it’s been great for my office desk body in terms of both strength and flexibility.

I’m booked in for another fortnight’s worth of classes so will see if I continue beyond that, but I think the answer will be yes.

Tackle life admin

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So much life admin for me at the moment! Sadly I forgot all about my tax return until I re-read last month’s post (oops), so will get on to that in October.

I did follow Brooke’s method of writing a big list of what needed doing and putting it in my calendar. I got around 80% done I’d say, and the rest of the time my brain talked me out of it.

I’m not feeling too bad about that though, since I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have even gotten that 80% done without this intention.

Q4 plans

I’m planning on being pretty busy with work, coaching, Self Coaching Scholars and life in general for the rest of the year so won’t be setting any specific monthly intentions here on the blog.

I am going to focus on blogging about the topics you readers like the most - time management, routine ideas, good old imposter syndrome and relaxation.

Let me know in the comments below if I’ve missed any topics you’d like to hear more about in late 2017.

Otherwise, have a fabulous October!

August Recap and September Intentions

I don’t like to wish time away but I have to say I’m pretty happy that winter has flown by this year - September sees more sunshine during the day, evenings staying lighter and just a general feeling that a fog has lifted.

Looking back over my August calendar, I had some fun nights out with friends, but also had a pretty low-key month day to day… which actually suited me fine.

Between my full-time job, coaching, and keeping up with my intentions, I was happy for the downtime.

Good news though - I now have two free coaching spots in September so if you’re interested in three months of focused work towards your goals, jump over here and set up a complimentary 30 minute call with me. I can’t wait to chat with you!

So how did I go with my intentions?

August Recap

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Stay healthy at work

I think I have found a gap in the app market - I could not find one app that fulfilled my needs for August!

As I mentioned last month, I wanted some pretty simple reminders around focusing on my health at work - standing up more, drinking water, not getting distracted by my chat tools… kinda basic stuff that we could all use yes?

In my search, I found apps that suggested embarrassing exercises to do at my desk, apps with annoying buzzers as reminders, and nothing that had all the basic office hygiene stuff I wanted.

I settled on Momentum, a habit tracker that worked ok … but I ended up ditching it about a week in.

In general, I definitely stood up more during office hours and even broached one of the standing desks at my work. But maybe it’s time for me to take care of the office health app market…

Would that be something you readers would use?

Complete an early spring clean

I did pretty well on this one - decluttering a scary wardrobe of my house, and even attacking the area under my bed that had been gathering random magazines, online shopping packaging and cat toys for the last three years.

It’s all about mindset when we go into these less than fun tasks.

I can’t stress enough how much easier it is if you’re in alignment - rather than trudging in disgruntled, I would plug a podcast in, get in some comfy clothes, set up a system for keeping/donating/throwing away and work methodically through everything.

I hope this approach helps if you’re planning a spring clean soon too.

September Intentions

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Start regular Pilates practice

I’m pretty consistent with my exercise and have been for many years, but lately the gym has not been doing it for me - I’ve been doing some of the same routines for a while and feel like I’m ready for a change.

After dabbling in Pilates over the last few months and feeling both strong and stretched out after each class, I’m ready to be more consistent here.

I’ve bought a monthly pass to a studio and can book classes ahead of time (good for accountability!), so I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to keep up with this one in September.

Tackle life admin

Even writing that intention, my mind makes an enormous ‘blergghhhhhhhhh’ sound.

I have my tax return and some fun government applications to do in September and yeah, you can understand why that sound comes to mind.

Luckily I have Brooke Castillo and the Self Coaching Scholars course I’m doing to help me get over the protests from my brain.

Brooke suggests writing a list of what needs doing, allocating time against each one, then getting them into your calendar.

Here’s the clincher… you should also expect your brain to try and talk you out of the task when the appointment rolls around in your calendar.

I’m going to lock the time in, get in alignment before I start, and just get these things off my to do list and out of my brain.

Happy September readers! A reminder that I have two coaching spots available if you want to get in touch and find out if coaching is right for you.

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! 

Where I'm At with Shannon Ables from The Simply Luxurious Life

I am thrilled to be featuring Shannon Ables from The Simply Luxurious Life blog and The Simple Sophisticate podcast on Where The Light Plays today.

I've been following Shannon's blog since early 2012 and have felt like I've 'gotten to know her' even better this year through her podcast.

The Simply Luxurious Life really does cover all areas of life in a luxurious, yet attainable way - home, style, food, ways of being, the French lifestyle - to name a few. Shannon is a high school English teacher in Oregon, has had great success with her online career and even brought out a book, Choosing The Simply Luxurious Life: A Modern Woman's Guide in 2014.

Enjoy this peek into her daily routine, and I hope you'll enjoy following her online as much as I do.

What is your usual wake up time?

5am.

What is your morning ritual?

Because I find I am most awake, fresh and creative in the mornings, I don’t want to waste a moment in the morning sleeping in, so once I am awake, I am up and going.

I will wake up an extra hour early so that I can ease myself into the day and indulge in simple luxuries.

My breakfast is the same, but I crave it each day: steel oats with raisins, honey and roasted sliced almonds, one egg over-easy and hot water with lemon.

My dogs Oscar and Norman are at my feet all morning (which makes it even harder to walk out the door to my teaching job during the school year), so I bring a treat for each of them to the table, where I enjoy my breakfast while reading the local morning newspaper.

I always have Morning Joe on in the morning as well to stay abreast of the breaking national and international news as well.

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Tell us about your commute.

I feel fortunate to say I live less than a mile from my school, and when I’m not teaching, my commute is to my home office to blog, plan and tape my podcast.

Do you like to plan your day ahead or allow some spontaneity?

Planning is something I sincerely enjoy doing. I will plan my day, my week, the month, set yearly goals and 5–10 year goals for fun even if it wasn’t required.

I find it exhilarating to plan, check in and celebrate when I complete what I have set out to do.

The gift that planning gives me is that when I finish what I need to do, I can relax and just let my mind wander. I am always amazed at where it travels and what it comes up with when I give it this freedom.

How do you spend your ideal lunch break to recharge for the afternoon?

As a self-proclaimed introvert, I need my alone time, so during the school year I enjoy most days having lunch to myself. Sometimes I will join other colleagues, but because lunch is so quick and we have to be on in fewer than 40 minutes, I need time to recharge.

When I am blogging, I spend my lunch either at a cafe or in the kitchen creating something from scratch, then I’ll sit down and relax until I am ready to get busy again.

What kind of workout schedule do you try to adhere to?

Working out is not only something I know I need to do for my health, it is something I thoroughly enjoy; however, I am not someone who tortures themselves.

My dogs become jumping beans when they see me put on my workout clothes and grab their leash. So seeing their enthusiasm makes it easy to go for an hour-long hike 5–6 days a week.

Bend has endless trails right outside my door, so I feel as though I am in the wilderness in minutes, and can fortunately return home in minutes when the hike is complete.

I also sign up for one Pilates class at a local studio, as well as two twenty minute strength sessions at home, each week.

How do you like to end your day?

Something I have shared with my blog readers for years is my evening ritual.

I need time to unwind and usually give myself at least an hour no matter how late the work day has lasted.

So long as I haven’t indulged in dessert, I will pair my evening black lavender tea with a dark chocolate peanut butter truffle from my favourite chocolatier Arrowhead Chocolates. Since I have recently moved to a different town, I place my order every two months to be sure I always have these decadent, rewarding treats at the ready.

What time do you doze off?

I am an early bird because I enjoy my mornings so much, so it is not unusual for me to be in bed by 8:30 and asleep by nine.

DVR is my favourite everyday invention as I typically will watch my favourite shows the next evening at an hour that works with my schedule.

Any advice for women trying to find ease in their every day?

Find the courage to say “No”. The best gift I gave myself was recognising what I had to do, what I wanted to do and then letting go of all the rest without guilt.

We only get 24 hours in the day and each day builds upon the day before. Where do you want to take your life? Once you know the answer to that question, saying “No” becomes much easier.

Can you give my readers your quick go-to recipe after a busy day?

Absolutely! Part of my evening ritual upon returning home from work and having finished the walk with the dogs is stepping into the kitchen. It is such a therapeutic activity.

A typical evening will include some sort of vegetable dish and a protein. Sometimes I also have a slice of a baguette with cheese or dipped in olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

A simple, yet delicious vegetable side dish is a recipe from Julia Child. Her green beans: Boil the beans for 10 minutes in salted water until they become al dente. With a Japanese strainer, remove them from the water and place them in a hot skillet. Let the water steam off of them for about 30 seconds and then add 1-2 tablespoons of good unsalted butter. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, make sure the melted butter coats the beans (about 1 minute). Then add fresh lemon juice and leave the slice of lemon in the pan.

Voilà! You are done. The beans should be shiny and full of flavour, just waiting to be enjoyed.

Pair with Sole Meunière (click here for the recipe) and a glass of rosé. Bon appétit!

-

Thank you so much for being interviewed Shannon - you've inspired me to plan my days even more carefully and of course try your recipe (rosé and all!)

You can find Shannon at the links below and also click the video to gain more insight into the simply luxurious way of living.

Where I'm At with Rachel Gadiel from Nourish

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Welcome to the next interview in the series, 'Where I'm At'. It's a voyeuristic, yet helpful look into the lives of women who are finding where the light plays within them.

Their daily rituals, ways of managing stress and advice to you, the readers, are captured in these interviews.

This month we’re talking to Rachel Gadiel from the blog, Nourish. Rachel is a gorgeous coach and blogger, who lives in the Northern Beaches of Sydney. She focuses on many of our favourite topics around here – simplicity, productivity and of course, nourishing ourselves. Rachel also coaches other creative bloggers and business owners on intentional ways to grow their passions.

When I reached out to Rachel, I had the loveliest response from her, so admire her even more than when I was reading from afar! Enjoy the interview and head to her blog and social media (her Instagram is one of my faves) to show her some love. 

 

What is your usual wake up time?

During the week I generally wake up at around 7am. Weekends are definitely an indulgent, slower start at around 8 and sometimes 9am!

How do you like to start your day?

On weekdays my morning routine is super simple as I’m on a mission to get out the door to work. It starts with a glass of warm water and lemon juice and a healthy breakfast, followed by a cup of coffee. I always make sure I begin each day with positive affirmations and a chapter out of a personal development book I’m reading.

A positive mindset is everything – become the master of your thoughts and believe you can achieve anything, and you will!

Tell us about your commute.

I’m lucky to live super close to work – it’s a 5 minute drive and 30 minute walk. I intentionally set the goal of walking to and from work 3 days a week which is a great way to fit in moving my body. To make this time productive I love listening to an uplifting podcast or a book on Audible. The other days I drive, and when I do it feels like a luxury!

Do you like to plan your day ahead or allow for some spontaneity?

As I’m working full time and hustling my coaching biz on the side, it is super important for me to be organised and keep on top of my daily to do list. I’m a firm believer that the secret of success lies in your daily routine and habits. Being super clear about your overall vision, combined with the daily discipline of your habits, will naturally mean you’re on the path to success.

Don’t get me wrong, I still think leaving room for spontaneity is important too, but it’s all about balance and getting your priorities in order.

How do you spend your ideal lunch break to recharge for the afternoon?

I always grab my book and get out of the office to soak up the fresh air and sunshine – this gives me more energy and a positivity boost to power through the afternoon. I find reading always inspires me with ideas for blog posts and my coaching clients, so I always have a notebook handy to write down any nuggets of wisdom!

What kind of workout schedule do you try to adhere to?

I aim to work out at least 3–4 times a week and try to move my body most days. I tend to do a mix of both resistance training and cardio. I like to mix things up by doing a boot camp once a week, pilates and I’m also a fan of the BBG by Kayla Itsines and love doing her workouts at home. Throw in the odd yoga class and run when time permits. 

How do you like to end your day?

End of the day is all about unplugging and cuddling up to my love on the couch, watching a TV show together. At the moment we’re watching season 3 of Orange is the New Black - such an awesome show!

What time do you doze off?

Bedtime for me is 11-11:30pm. 

And to finish off, here's Rachel's current manifesto:

Thanks for giving us a peek into your daily life Rachel. I’m sure you can see why she’s such a success,  with discipline and focus propelling her forward.

Go and give Rachel some love (and follows) at the links below:

Website: rachelgadiel.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/rachelgadiel

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hopscotchgrace/pins/

Bloglovin': https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/nourish-10306535

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thisisnourish

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rachelgadiel