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

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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.

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!

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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 vlogger Elle Lindquist

I’m very excited to be interviewing Elle Lindquist from Canada this month for Where I’m At. I discovered Elle through the Tone It Up online community a couple of years back. She was often posting inspiring content on social media and YouTube.

Elle now vlogs 3 times a week with her husband Dan and son Forde and there’s an extra video each week at the moment, as she’s pregnant with her second child – congrats Elle!

Elle's YouTube videos are often about fitness, health, organisation and other areas of self-improvement, or capture her daily life. I hope you enjoy the interview and go check out her YouTube videos. Enjoy!

What is your usual wake up time?

7am sharp!

What is your morning ritual?

I always start my day with a hot herbal tea to go. I steep the tea and then take my golden retriever Ellen for a 1.5 mile walk.

It’s a great way to peacefully and gradually greet the day, I get a lot of good thinking done, and it’s a peaceful source of “me time” which is hard to come by as a mum!

Tell us about your commute (if you have one...)

I work from home as a YouTuber so I don’t have a commute, but I always use my son’s afternoon naps to film/edit videos.

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

I can’t function without scheduling…well ok I can but my day functions much smoother when I follow a schedule.

I like to plan out my week on Sundays so I feel prepared and excited about the week ahead. There are always changes to the schedule, but I find having a blueprint greatly reduces stress and feelings of being overwhelmed.

If I don’t write appointments or meetings in my agenda I only have a 5% chance I’ll remember! Haha.

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

I take my lunch break at noon sharp.

I put on some light jazz, sit down at the table and just spend quality time with my son. It’s my time to sit down with my son, take a housework break, or play break and I find it sets the tone for what follows.

Right after lunch my son goes down for a nap which is when I put my YouTuber hat on and edit and upload videos, answer work emails and take conference calls.

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

I work out 5–6 days a week on average.

I work out first thing in the morning or else it won’t get done.

The only other window of opportunity I’d have would be after my son’s nap at 3:30 and to be honest by that time I’m pretty done with productivity so a workout wouldn’t happen!

After I’ve taken Ellen for her walk, my husband leaves for work and Forde wakes up so we have breakfast together and then I head straight to the gym! My gym has a fabulous day care as well so Forde loves that time in his day too (plus as a single child it’s often the only interaction he gets with other kids throughout the week).

How do you like to end your day?

My son goes to bed at 8pm and I take my night time routine very seriously, haha!

I like to wind down with a cup of tea alongside either a TV show, Netflix or a book depending on the mood. By 9pm I like to run myself a hot bubble bath with a side of ice cold water to drink whilst in the tub.

This is often when my husband and I will catch up on our day. He’ll pull a chair up beside the bath and we connect. We like to call it a “meeting in my office.” I’ll often say “Dan, meeting in my office in 10?” and he knows what it means!

What time do you doze off?

Ideally by 9:30–9:45 but lately it’s been more like 10:30.

Truth be told inside me is the soul of a 90 year old woman. I like herbal tea, knitting and early nights and I’m PROUD OF IT!

What do you aspire to every day but rarely actually do? (you can tell me, we all have them!)

Shower…ugh….the struggle is real. Seriously, I don’t shower in the morning because I hit the gym first thing, but as a germaphobe I can’t bring myself to use their shower.

So that leaves me with the choice of either having a shower when I get home with a toddler throwing toys at me and crying because he’s bored in the bathroom, or try to sneak it in during his afternoon nap which doesn’t always happen between housework and YouTube.

Don’t think I’m gross…I still bathe at the end of the day!!

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

I would say carve out “you time!”

As women, we’re always giving ourselves to our partners, friends, work, children etc. and as a result we can be stretched quite thinly.

I had a friend tell me decades ago, “Elle there’s a reason they tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others in a plane crash…if you don’t have enough, everyone else suffers too.” It’s really stuck with me.

I have a very hard time saying no to things/people especially when I technically am available but know that I’m burnt out/stretched thin and just need some down time.

The best advice I can give to you (and myself) is to be a warrior for yourself and give yourself the down time you require…and don’t apologise for it!

Even if it’s just an hour to yourself at the beginning or end of the day, find time where you’re responsible for no one but yourself and where you can just rest and recharge.

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

My best healthy lazy girl’s meal

  • Mixed green salad (from the bag….I said this was lazy girl’s version)
  • Grill or fry up some onion and red pepper
  • Add some pre-baked chicken slices (I bake 2 breasts on Sundays to use throughout the week)
  • Toss with some apple cider vinegar dressing (apple cider vinegar [1 part], EVOO [2 parts], Dijon mustard [1 part])

Honestly takes 5 minutes, is healthy and tastes like you put a lot of time and effort in! Sometimes I’ll also pre-grill peppers and onion for the week ahead of time if I’m feeling super lazy, but I prefer doing those fresh because the warmth adds decadence to the meal.

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Thanks Elle, it was great to gain some insight into your days as a YouTuber and mum. You can find Elle at:

YouTube - www.YouTube.com/TheLindquists

Twitter - @ellelindquist

Instagram - @elle.lindquist

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.

Where I'm At: Interview Series - Kerryn Hewson of Colour Your Life

 

Welcome to my new interview 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, will be captured in these interviews.

First up is Kerryn Hewson, Positivity Coach at Colour Your Life. Kerryn is based in Wellington, New Zealand and she provides perspective, inspiration and action to help ambitious, creative and passionate people living their life on auto-pilot, change their world by leading a positive life. Over to Kerryn:

What is your usual wake up time?

During the week my alarm goes off at 6am and I snooze it anywhere from one to four times. On the weekends I generally wake up between 8-9am sometimes with an alarm, often without.

Do you have a morning routine or ritual?

I’m not a ‘wide awake’ morning person so I like to give myself time to adjust. I start with putting my contact lenses in and taking a shower which helps wake me up. Then I like to settle onto the sofa with a blanket and write 'Morning Pages'.

   'Morning Pages' are three stream of consciousness journal pages introduced to the world by Julia Cameron in   The Artist’s Way .  Kerryn has written a   Quick Guide to Morning Pages   if you’d like to know more.

 

'Morning Pages' are three stream of consciousness journal pages introduced to the world by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. Kerryn has written a Quick Guide to Morning Pages if you’d like to know more.

Tell us about your commute!

My commute is a 20 minutes train ride each way around the beautiful Wellington harbour.

On my commute into work I usually check my email including Facebook and Twitter notifications, blog reader, and Instagram - in that order. On the way home I’ll do the same and might browse Pinterest.

I know that this commute time is quality reading time and I’m trying to reach for my Kindle with my latest wellbeing or business read (I have Thrive by Arianna Huffington and The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks on the go right now) but it’s pretty hit and miss.

Do you like to plan your day ahead or prefer to leave it up to spontaneity?

Can you plan in spontaneity? I’m a total planner, but by planning in the time for the activities and projects that are important to me I free up other time to be spontaneous and do what I feel like. In fact, since planning in business hours to work on Colour Your Life I’ve freed myself from feeling guilty for not working on it during my down time and that’s allowed me to start listening to a bunch of podcasts I previously felt I never had time for.

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

Out in the sunshine on the waterfront staring out at the harbour!

There really is something about being outside, getting fresh air and being near water when you’re stuck in an office all day.

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

Hm, adhere to would imply consistency…

I try to get to a couple gym classes every week. My favourites are Zumba and Body Combat. I’ve also started doing some at home body weight circuits off Pinterest. And now that it’s moving into summer time here in New Zealand I’ll be starting to go walking in the evening with a friend of mine.

Between all of that I manage to exercise at least once a week and a really active week will see me exercising 3-4 times.

How do you like to end your day?

I like to end my day feeling relaxed which most commonly happens after I’ve been knitting while watching some TV with my husband or taking a hot bath.

What time do you doze off?

My bedtime is 10pm and I’ll generally head towards bed around 9.30pm.

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

I already mentioned using my commute for quality reading time but I had another one in mind. Meditation!

I know all the benefits. I feel great when I do it. I have a bunch of very helpful apps on my phone and access to some great guided meditations. And yet… somehow I’ve just not found the right way to integrate it into my daily life.

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

My quickest tip to adding more ease into your day is to pause and simply breathe. Stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath in through your nose so that you can feel your lungs expanding, then exhale through your mouth like gradually letting the air out of a balloon.

My other piece of advice when you’re trying to find more ease in your day is to focus on making one change at a time. Don’t overwhelm yourself and don’t force yourself to make more conscious decisions in a day than you need to! So whether it’s adhering to a new bedtime or workout regime, starting a meditation practice, or using your commute more productively, introduce them gradually one at a time.

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

Grilled chicken or oven roasted fish with roast veggies or a salad. 

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Thanks Kerryn, I'm jealous of your commute and lunch views!

Want to hear more from Kerryn? Find her at Colour Your Life, on Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest (@kerrynhewson), or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/practicepositivity