July Recap and August Intentions

And just like that, August is upon us…It’s the last month of winter here in Australia, but also usually the coldest month here in Melbourne.

I had a busy July, mainly due to work, and am glad to say things are quieting down on that front so I can get some more balance back.

So how did I do with my July intentions and what’s up next for me?

July Recap

Seek out winter warmers

As I looked over the last month, including my photos, I realised I actually had a lot of sunny memories.

We like to moan about the weather but chilly sunny days can be counted on here in winter and I can handle this season when there’s sun.

A weekend in Healesville was a highlight with country town fun including walks, wineries and a gin tasting - not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

I’ve also had some cosy dinners in the city with friends and even when it’s wet, Melbourne is still beautiful when slick with rain.

Put first things first

This one has made a big impact on my life in the last month.

As I mentioned in my habits post here, I’ve been planning my week and therefore having a much nicer balance of blogging, study, catch ups with friends and exercise (all alongside the busy work month).

I really encourage you to write down what’s ahead for the week on a Sunday, if only to get it out of your head and easily visible once the busy weekdays take off.

August Intentions

Interrupt the negative voice

Another habit I reinstilled during July was journalling before bed. It’s been insightful and slightly terrifying.

I’ve been tending to have (self-proclaimed) crazy ‘worst case scenario’ thoughts lately - mainly about what other people think of me and also around work situations.

I’m still not sure how to alleviate these negative thoughts but am going to do some digging this month and see if I can’t stop them in their tracks.

Up the training at work

Continued professional development has always been important to me, but it’s so easy for it to fall by the wayside in between the daily to do list and busy weeks at work.

We have a few products at work I’ve been meaning to learn more about for (ahem) over a year, so I’m going to try and be ruthless this month and block out time and headspace to up my knowledge.

What’s your intentional plan for August? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

How I Manage My Email Inbox

I’ve had lots of requests to write time management posts here on the blog, and one of the biggest ways I manage my time is by managing my email.

I’m not perfect.

I’ve suffered that sinking feeling when you leave a meeting, only to see you have 32 new emails that weren’t there an hour ago.

I’ve woken at 5am and thought ‘I’ll just take a quick peek at what happened overnight’ then lay awake anxious about the day ahead.

But it’s all a mind game. You are in control of your reaction to email and you are in control of how you manage it.

These tips may not be ground-breaking but they’ve served me well as I’ve navigated through what we all have to navigate - a busy work and personal life.

Compartmentalise your day

The quickest way for me to leave work without having achieved anything is to sit on my email all day. As soon as I reply to one, the next comes in and I’m jumping all over the place, all day long.

I don’t have strict rules as to when I check email but I do make sure once I’m working on a task that I don’t flick back to my email client out of habit and lose focus.

Lately I’ve been trying to work on projects in time blocks or Pomodoros (a la the Productivity Planner). I work on the tasks, but I may also review and reply to emails related to that project specifically. This saves me feeling overwhelmed by the number of emails awaiting my response.

Acknowledge receipt

I work mostly with clients but I think this tip applies to coworkers and family and friends too.

A quick email to say you’ve received their note and will get back to them soon / tomorrow / next week will:

  1. Make them feel heard and let them know you’re onto it.
  2. Make you feel better as you’re not staring at a stack of unanswered emails feeling guilty.

File file file

Get emails out of your inbox. It’s so satisfying to file emails as they are dealt with and to watch that inbox number shrink.

I used to try and keep my email inbox to around 20 emails but unfortunately these days it’s more like 50.

Either way, pick a number to work towards to avoid your inbox spiraling out of your control.

Unsubscribe

Ah, the sweet pleasure of unsubscribe.

As we all go down the rabbit hole of news sites, blogs, digital product offerings and so on, it’s easy to hand over your email address in order to receive a freebie, a newsletter or regular updates from a site.

But sure enough within a month you’re deleting those emails without reading them or wondering how the hell you’re receiving them in the first place.

I have a few that I love to receive (I'm looking at you Jess Lively, Laura Vanderkam and Paige Schmidt) but most of the others just end up annoying me or adding to the feeling of overwhelm.

For me, every time I take a holiday I go through my emails and unsubscribe from all the stuff I’m not reading. Try it now!

How do you manage email? What’s your favourite tip I’ve given?

 

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?

 

Light Links: July

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Welcome to the monthly round up of my favourite links. I have to say I’ve been laying low this month as the weather has been pretty grim here in Melbourne - leaving more time for me to find great links for you to enjoy.

Despite many quiet evenings, I have also been spending a lot of time with friends and family.

I often forget how much relationships fill you up in between a busy work and home schedule.

And of course I had a fabulous time with the visitor I mentioned in this post. I hope you’re spending time with people who matter, and can also take some downtime to read through and get some take aways from these links:

I’m pretty much obsessed with the concept of intuitive eating lately. Here’s the basics. Could you make this mindset shift?

How many days a week do you take 8 hours for play? That’s the premise of work life balance.

I’m not too sure I have a good relationship with my smartphone but this article got me thinking about ways I could be more mindful. I’m good at #5, #10 and #13, but pretty awful with #12 and #22.

My husband is on holiday at the moment so I’m living vicariously through him by reading articles like this and this.

And for the parents out there. It doesn’t sound confusing at all…

Alissa Vitti has been popping up in my feeds a lot over the last few weeks. Jess Lively interviewed her last week about hormones and the power of your period. Very interesting stuff.


What stood out to you on the internet this month? Let me know in the comments below.

Light Links: May

How has your May been lovely readers? We’ve had some beautiful crisp days in Melbourne but the early mornings and evenings are definitely getting a little too chilly for me as we head into winter starting in June.

Luckily I escaped for a warmer weekend in Sydney, with quality girlfriend time. I also did some more decluttering at home and we celebrated my husband’s birthday. I’ve got lots of great links for you this month so grab a warm tea (or a cool wine) and enjoy.

Having a bad day? How to turn it around and talk yourself into a great day at work.

Smart ways to dial back at work (yes, you can dial back!) once you’ve set an expectation around your performance.

A personal story on saying yes to your purpose. Can you believe a female’s confidence peaks at 8 years old?

False ideas we may have around being a mother and having a career - a three part series:

Inspired by the original post from Jess Lively, Grace from Design Sponge shares the things that scare her.

Stop fighting against your feelings and ‘accept what is’.  

And finally, 40 quotes to help quiet your mind


Where I'm At: Interview Series - Nat Carter from New Outlook Fitness

 

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.

Nat Carter is a PT and fitness expert based in Sydney. I’ve been following Nat’s blog, Natalie Carter Talks Fitness, and her social media for a few years now. I was really attracted to her uplifting, realistic approach to health and fitness and am very excited to have her on the blog today. Nat works specifically with women to help them created leaner, stronger, fitter, more confident bodies and trains both online and face-to-face with outdoor training groups.

I’m pretty sure you’re going to love Nat too – her views on work/life balance and everyday living are very similar to the values of Where the Light Plays. Enjoy!

What is your usual wake up time?

First my alarm goes off at 5.30am then at 5.32am I physically get out of bed.

Weekends can be 7 or 8am. I’m not good at sleeping in.

How do you like to start your day?

I would like to start my day by having a coffee, lolling around in bed, then a workout, then breakfast, but my early morning sessions with clients mean my ritual is alarm, strong long back coffee, out the door, train them, small breakfast then train myself then breakfast number two, followed by more sessions and sometimes a second workout for myself.

Tell us about your commute.

I don’t really have a long commute. Everywhere takes me 15 mins each way. Long commutes don’t work for me – they are personally soul destroying.

I’m lucky I have the ability to work anywhere. I’m the proud owner of big black ute and I freaking love it. It makes me feel powerful on the mean streets of Sydney.

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

I like both. There’s a few things like email, updating social media, writing, training and working with my clients that are part and parcel of each day.

But then I do like to mix it up each day – maybe a sail, a swim, wine and cheese, read a book and other “me time” activities. If you don’t get it by now, I’m a strong believer in work/life balance.

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

Not having anyone telling me when to eat and how long I get on a lunch break is the best kind of work freedom I think anyone can have.

I eat lunch at home most days – I love it! Ideally though I could really get used to long lunches at really amazing restaurants, but I wouldn’t get a whole lot done that way.

What kind of workout schedule do you (try to!) adhere to?

I’m most productive from 6am–2pm, so I generally cram everything into those hours, including my own workouts. When you have a business it never really just stops, but the great thing I remind myself is my choices belong to me and me alone.

I used to work with clients from 6am–7pm, 5 days a week, and that led to burnout, little time for myself and made every day feel like Groundhog Day. Now I work less, earn more and feel so much better!

I keep my workouts different and mostly outdoors. I’m lucky I know what I’m doing (being a PT) so I can generally stay on track and motivated. Variety is the key for me.

How do you like to end your day?

Watching a nice sunset, wine, food and couch with my partner and the cat.

What time do you doze off?

I’m such a nanna, 9–9.30pm.

What do you aspire to every day but never / rarely actually do? (you can tell me, we all have them!)

Meditation and yoga! I feel so much pressure (mainly from Instagram) but I actually hate both of those activities so I think “why bother?”. I also hate doing what everyone else does just because it’s cool. I prefer reading, having a massage, being on the water or just being silent (I love being by myself).

Any advice for women trying to find ease in their every day? (Ed: I freaking love this answer)

Do what you love! Don’t feel bad if you choose to stay at home with the kids or if you want to be the corporate bossdog – go ahead! Remember you have the power to control your day.

Work with the clients you want to work with, the ones that bring out the best in you so then you can in turn bring out the best in them. Set up your day to get the best out of yourself.

Always do a workout – even if you think it’s too short or you don’t have time, just do it. You always feel like a powerhouse afterwards and you perform better during the day. You will never regret looking strong and tight – never ever!

Network with other women. A problem shared is a problem halved. Don’t bitch, but you get my drift.

Earn your own money! The freedom, joy…ah! It’s amazing!

Finally, can you give us your quick go-to recipe after a busy day?

Nothing is easier than a protein-rich stir fry. You think calling for takeaway is quicker but it’s not – this is!

Super Quick Stir Fry

  • Brown 150g of chopped meat/chicken/fish with an onion, ginger and garlic and move it around constantly
  • Add 3 cups chopped veg (colour always wins here) and keep moving it
  • Next a few splashes of soy sauce
  • Then a sprinkle of chilli flakes
  • Finish with a flourish of sesame seeds
  • Serve with rice, noodles or just on its own.
  • Simple, quick and keeps your waistline in check. Splash out with a small glass of vino or a few small squares of dark chocolate.

Thanks Nat! Go and follow her now at:

Blog - http://www.nataliecartertalksfitness.com/

Instagram (if you are a fan of wine, cats and sweaty face selfies, definitely go here!) -instagram.com/newoutlookpt/

Twitter - twitter.com/NewOutlookPT

Nat can also be found at New Outlook Fitness, her Sydney-based fitness company.