This week in the Year of Gratitude challenge the task is to talk about something someone gave me. I tried to find something heartfelt and sentimental that’s been in my possession since I was a child, Perhaps a handmade blanket or a worn out old teddy bear?
I couldn’t think of anything quite as beautiful as that because my most coveted gift is something incredibly materialistic and expensive. Don’t judge me. My MacBook Air is by far the best gift I’ve ever received.
My husband treated me to this just before Christmas after I started to become a bit obsessed with blogging everyday. It means I can do freelance work as the drop of a hat and also do my own writing, photo editing and blog images on the go wherever I am.
It comes with me everywhere
I long for the extended train journey back to Scotland where I can take out my laptop and get stuck into some writing. I often take it to work with me so that I can stop off at a cafe on the way home and do some work. It also means I can do work when I’m visiting in Scotland and really utilise any spare time I have.
It’s so fast
I’ve never had a laptop – or any device really – that turns on with the push of a button. Like, INSTANTLY. It means I can do those little five-minute blog related admin tasks like scheduling tweets, updating links or correcting spelling mistakes without needing an additional ten minutes to load up the computer.
It makes blogging easier
The portability and speed of my laptop are two of the main reasons that blogging has become so easy for me. I can also access all the photos on my phone, use the free software – like Pages – without having to purchase Microsoft Word and use iMovie to edit when I start creating video content. I’ve not always been an Apple fangirl but I must say, I’m absolutely obsessed!
Would it be exaggerating to say that this one gift has changed my life?
I’m pretty stressed sometimes. Did I pay that bill? Did I leave the oven on? When is that doctors appointment again? These are the thoughts that plague most of us throughout the day and they tend to build up and can feel a tad overwhelming at times. I’m working hard to make sure I don’t let unnecessary stress into my life as it’s a trigger for my anxiety and depression. If this sounds like you then read on for my tips for a calmer day…
Prepare the night before
I like to empty my mind in the evening by planning what I need to do the next day, and doing any preparation possible to help me feel a little more organised. For example, I like to lay out my gym clothes to make sure I get up and go work out without too much thought. I also like to make sure my dishes are done and my bathroom is relatively clean. For some reason starting the day with an organised space makes me much more relaxed from the get-go. I’ll also put any bin bags by the door so I can quickly grab them on the way out. Doing small things like packing my handbag, preparing my breakfast or laying out clean clothes are all small tricks that make my day go more smoothly.
Write a to-do list
This is pretty obvious but I’m always surprised at how many people don’t do this, especially busy people who have a lot of multitasking to do. I have an ongoing to-do list which I’m always adding things to, even if they don’t necessary need done straight away. Every evening I use this ‘master list’ to write a specific list for the next day. I prioritise what needs done first and then add anything else that I’d like to tackle, then if it doesn’t get done I can carry it over to tomorrow’s plan without too much panic.
Schedule in some down time
When I look at my to-do list it can be easy to go full steam ahead and keep going until it’s complete. I’ve learned from experience that this normally ends up with me freaking out around 4pm, struggling with a pounding headache, an empty stomach and the need to nap. For this reason I try to break up tasks with something enjoyable. For me this is often something simple like watching my favourite You Tubers for an hour or popping out for a coffee and some fresh air. I find scheduling in this time makes me more productive for the rest of the day and helps me relax in general.
Eat a good breakfast
Missing breakfast is guaranteed to stress me out, because my blood sugars will get low when I least expect it and then I start making irrational decisions based on hunger pangs. In order to avoid major mid-morning meltdowns I start my day with a protein shake or scrambled eggs on toast. This usually helps me stay satisfied and focused on whatever the day brings instead of feeling distracted by my rumbling belly. I love this post which has a few handy mood-boosting meal ideas. Don’t forget to keep an emergency snack in your handbag such as a banana or some cashew nuts, and drink plenty of water.
Apart from writing, my other true love is exercising. I know not everyone has the same passion for working out (I will admit my passion can be absent at times too!) but I defy anyone to not feel great after a morning exercise sesh. A brisk walk with the dog or a run around the block before breakfast gives you time that no one can take away from you. It’s a special time to take a deep breath in and appreciate the day before it gets too hectic. It gets you warmed up, produces endorphins and creates that kick-ass “I can take on the world!” mindset that we all dream of having.
What helps you have a calm day?
Writing about writing; maybe this is cheating slightly when it comes to creating a blog post but writing everyday is a habit that I genuinely have managed to incorporate into my daily life over the past few weeks so I feel qualified to chat about the damn thing. Full disclaimer though – I have been unemployed for the past few months so truthfully time has been on my side. I recently found part-time work and a regular writing gig but I’m confident I’ll still sit down at my laptop at least once a day and not just to check Facebook.
Create a topic list
When I set aside time to write I don’t want to waste the first 30 minutes deciding exactly what I want to talk about. Over the years I’ve created a lengthy list of topics that I refer to as soon as I’m ready to write, meaning there’s little time wasted. I add to this list at least once a day, normally in the form of an actual headline e.g. ‘Real women who inspire me’. Even if I don’t know what I would discuss in the post, I take note of any catchy titles straight away – no matter what time of the day or night – because otherwise I WILL forget. For this reason I keep the notes on my phone, meaning I can add to this ever-growing treasure trove whenever creativity strikes. Some of the titles might not come to fruition for months or even years, but when I’m ready I have those ideas in the bank.
Use a mobile device
Once I’ve got a few ideas I know I want to work on, I set up a draft post from my laptop and pop in a few bullet points to get me started. Then I will write a brief introduction and to be honest that’s all I do at first. The next time I’m sitting on a bus, waiting for a prescription or on a coffee break at work I’ll open up the WordPress app on my phone and just start typing. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about blogging it’s that the ‘little and often’ approach works for me. A few hundred words over lunch, a few more whilst I’m waiting on the oven preheating and before you know it I have the raw materials of a blog post written just waiting to be edited. I wouldn’t recommend writing an entire post on your phone because it’s tricky to upload photos and check for grammatical errors, but it’s great for stream of consciousness style writing on the go.
Set a timer
I’m so easily distracted by social media that I can have a whole day at my disposal to type up a blog post and get absolutely nowhere with it. However it’s amazing how much I can get done when the clock is ticking. I like to set a timer – normally for around 20 minutes – put my phone waaaay on the other side of the room and close all tabs on my laptop. I promise myself that all I’m going to do during that time is write. Normally I end up totally engrossed, on a roll for another 10 or 20 minutes and finishing an entire piece of work very efficiently.
Identify your wasted time
My ‘little and often’ approach to writing means I look at my day and try and find the times where I’m sitting doing nothing, I’m bored or just have some time to kill. For me it’s normally the 15 minute break I get at work. I sit down with my coffee, grab my phone and before I know it I’ve rambled for a new hundred words on WordPress. Other key times for me are when I’m on exercise bike at the gym, when I’m waiting for my coffee to brew or in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep. Once I identified theses times and started utilising them it just became a habit, and now I couldn’t rack up a decent word count without them.
Do you write everyday? What are your tips?