choosing relaxing over ‘productivity’

2021, mental health, organisation

Hello!

I am someone who very much values herself over how much I get done – a ‘good’ day is one when I’ve ticked off everything on my to do list, a ‘great’ day is when I’ve started on the next days to do list and a ‘bad’ day is when I have too much to comprehend.

Over lockdowns and general pandemic times of 2020, I learned that crafting is something I really enjoy and find really relaxing – it started with cross stitch, then knitting and sewing, then some paper crafts and scrapbooking, now a combination of them all are integrated into my yearly goals.

So adapting my mentality about ‘to do lists’ and how I equate my mood and the value of my time has been a major priority for 2021 – I’ve been slowly cutting down the number of tasks on my to do list over the last year or so; from 8 tasks, to 6 and now 5.

The main thing I’ve had to adapt is recognising that my ‘free’ time doesn’t have to be ‘filled’ – it doesn’t need to be ‘productive’. Last weekend, I finished my list for the day and my immediate thought was ‘well I could make a start on tomorrow’s list’, rather than letting myself have the rest of the day to properly relax – to let myself knit while watching the last episode of Bridgerton, to practice using my sewing machine; to just sit and scroll mindlessly on the sofa with a packet of biscuits!

Readjusting my relationship with productivity and choosing to stop putting pressure on myself and learn how to relax can only be good for my mental health in the long run, surely? Slowly learning how to get through the day without feeling constantly stressed is probably going to be better for my sleep, my heart rate and even my productivity because I’m putting a new focus on what I’m labelling as a priority.

That doesn’t make it easy – we live in a society where we always want to be busy so we can feel productive and not be bored and have to sit with my own thoughts for too long, I’m always looking to tick off a task or do something ‘helpful’, but I am learning to allow myself to spend time watching YouTube and colouring, knitting and practicing sewing.

I’m really enjoying sewing, can you tell?

You see all these people on instagram that work 24/7 and they’re ‘hustling’ and they’re posting about what a #girlboss they are and that’s great for them, but that wouldn’t work for me – I’d burn out, I wouldn’t be happy and I wouldn’t get the results I wanted from it. But learning to relax, working on my mental (and consequently my physical) health and giving myself proper time to rest, means I can perform better in my job, and be my own #girlboss in my own way.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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2021 Goals

2021, goals, organisation

Hello!

It’s my favourite time of year – goal setting time!

If you’ve been following for a while, you’ll know I love all things organisation, goals and planning (even if I am also a Queen Procrastinator and spend more time making lists than doing the things on them… it’s a work in progress) – every month I make mini goals that help keep me focused and working on my yearly goals, every week I make a spread in my bullet journal that helps me work on the tasks in my monthly goals and I’ve been setting yearly goals ‘properly’ (as in, actually tracking them) for probably three or four years now? So I’m getting better at figuring out what I actually want and what’s achievable.

And if we’re learnt anything from 2020 is that something can always throw a massive spanner in the works no matter how hard we try to avoid it, so I learnt a lot about being okay with not ‘achieving’ my goals and knowing that it’s not always a personal failure if I don’t do something. As well as knowing that goals and priorities change – last year I wanted to learn website design and photography, but actually, that’s not a priority for me right now so I didn’t make the time for it.

It’s all about balance and making ‘SMART’ goals. I know I sound like a University Careers officer, but making Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound goals takes practice and breaking bigger tasks into smaller (smart) goals will make them more achievable in the long run. Sometimes waiting for the long run or seeing ‘the bigger picture’ is the real challenge. Whether it’s your career, health and fitness, personal hobbies or anything else, a year isn’t going to perform miracles – I’m not going to reach my goal weight healthily in a year no matter how hard I try, I’m not going to reach my long-term career goals and I’m not going to be able to grow my hair down to my butt – they’re not achievable and that’s fine. But I can set a smaller healthy weight goal that aligns with long term weight loss, I can work towards certain career aspirations that are steps towards my long term aspirations and I can promise myself I’m not going to drastically cut my hair.

The key for me is writing everything down – whether it’s the big life-time goals or the little tasks to do next week, having a note of it makes it much easier to remember.

With all that said; here are my 2021 goals. Because I’m a little bit of an organisation nerd, I have three categories each with three goals (I also like the number three) and then a list of ‘bucket list’ goals that aren’t category specific.

PROFESSIONAL GOALS:

  • Start my new job!
  • Make a proper portfolio – on my blog, on Instagram and an up-to-date Showreel
  • Adapt a book into a screenplay (to learn about screenwriting from experience)

PERSONAL GOALS:

  • Start a bookstagram and get involved in the book community online
  • Make a cosplay costume – a mix of buying and making things
  • Find a therapist

HOME GOALS:

  • Savings goals – wedding, house and personal
  • Organise wedding – complete 2021 tasks list
  • Travel (pandemic allowing):
    • International Holiday with fiancé (if safe)
    • Centre Parcs with family (if safe)
    • MCM Comic Con London (if the con is even on)

‘BUCKET LIST’ GOALS:

  • Read 25 books
  • Writing challenges – January 30k, April 35k, July 40k, September 45k, November 50k
  • Monthly date nights!
  • Find a dance class (COVID allowing)
  • Knit myself a Weasley inspired jumper
  • 1 Second Everyday 2021 video
  • Limited spending; less personal spending
  • Actually go to the dentist/doctors when necessary
  • Sew more – finish t-shirt blanket, fix clothes, make new things, learn about making clothes!
  • Get another tattoo (COVID and finances allowing… but please I really want one)

To make my goals more specific, I do have savings goals and spending limits on the finance related goals but finances are so personal and these are what are (hopefully) achievable for me and I don’t want to give the impression that my savings goals are ‘normal’, so I’ll keep them private.

But other specific goals like my wedding organisation list – I know exactly what tasks I have to achieve this year to be on track and I have a 2022 list for all the final planning, my writing challenges are assigned to months with word goals, rather than ‘more’ date nights it’s ‘monthly’ date nights – I’m not by any means suggesting I’m an expert on goal setting, but having specific and time-bound tasks make it all feel more achievable to me at least.

Regardless of whether you’re setting goals or not, I hope there are at least some positive aspects of 2020 you can look back on and I wish you the best for 2021, in your goals and aspirations but primarily your health and happiness – Happy New Year!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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October Goals

2020, goals

Hello!

Another month, another fresh start, another new set of goals!

September was potentially the least productive month I’ve ever had in terms of my goals – I achieved maybe 1 of 5 and even then that was half of one and half of another but I’m not going to dwell on it; I’m going to use what went wrong to learn how to be better this month and adjust my goals accordingly!

Last month was incredibly busy and this month I actually have nothing planned, which is probably for the best because my dissertation is due in less than four weeks now (eek!) so I need to figure myself out and finally finish this masters (though I’m reluctant to call it that because I’ve definitely not learnt anything to a masters level).

So this is what I’m going to focus on this month:

  • hand in my dissertation project – the deadline is October 29th and I’m not taking any more extensions, I’m 100% so done with this course and I just need it to be over. Next month I finally won’t be a student any more!
  • exercise twice a week – with the state of my mental health, exercising has been really hard to motivate myself to do so I’m hoping if I can just manage twice a week whether it’s running, doing a home workout on one of the many apps I have, a yoga video or even a dance video on YouTube, just twice a week feels achievable (I hope?).
  • practice self care and get back to a routine – I really haven’t been very good at looking after myself recently; my sleep schedule has gone out the window, my skin is a mess, I haven’t read a book in a month, my motivation is low and my productivity is gone. For the sake of my mental wellness and actually getting my dissertation done, I need to make the time to look after myself and get things done. I’m making more of an effort with skincare and my routines as well as taking more notice of how I make my to do lists and scheduling my time to tackle the feelings of being overwhelmed that I’m struggling with! I think that’s a pretty good place to start.
  • start and finish my new cross stitch project – as well as all kinds of routine, I’ve not made much time for crafting recently which is so sad because it has such a positive impact on my mental health. I have a specific project in mind that I want to do this month so setting that specific goal might help me actually achieve it!
  • finish planning the redraft of my book – November’s NaNoWriMo is going to roll around faster than I expect I’m sure! I’ve got about 11 chapters left to plan so I’m feeling pretty good about having my plan ready to finish the draft of this book by the end of the year!

And my additional monthly goals for the year of date night and read a book are still standing! September was so bad that I didn’t even manage to finish reading one book so I’m hoping to finish what I’m reading and find something I’m really excited about to kick start the habit again!

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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setting up my weekly bullet journal spread

2020, creativity, organisation, student

Hello!

Whenever I write a post about how I lay out my bullet journal, someone messages it to tell me how they’re going to try and implement something I do in their journal or they’re going to try bullet journalling as a concept instead of their diary. So I thought I’d do a little update on how I lay out my weekly spreads, step by step!

My layout has remained the same for all of this year so far and it might be the longest time I’ve stuck with one design, but it’s really functional for me and right now with so much uncertainty in the world, having one thing on paper that I can always come back to is quite grounding, I find.

Rather than making all my blank weekly spreads in one go at the beginning of the month, I prefer to make them one week at a time – not only does this mean I get to sit down for half an hour every week and focus on something offline, but it means if I want to lay out any other spreads in between (like figuring out any finances, my uni assignments, any other notes) I have the freedom to do that. It’s probably not the most efficient but I don’t need filling in my weekly spreads to be efficient – having the task to come back to every week works well for me. But it’s personal, so you do you!

STEP 1

Creating the blank canvas – I use stamps to write ‘WEEK’ because I have them and it makes me feel crafty, then I draw my calendar, the divider on the left page, my weekly to do list check boxes, the daily to do list boxes on the right page and all the labelling. This is the most creative bit so this is actually the big I enjoy the most.

Also I don’t use a ruler to draw my lines because I like the almost ‘homemade’ look of freehand drawing them and following the dots means I don’t accidentally draw anything really wonky.

STEP 2

I fill in my June Goals and my Content boxes – the goals are the same every week so I copy them out from the previous spread and then I copy out the content I want to make from my monthly content plan. There was a little space at the bottom this week – sometimes I leave it blank, but a reminder to stay hydrated is never a bad thing!

STEP 3

Next I make my weekly to do list – this is an overarching list of what I want to achieve over the week that I will divide up into the daily to do lists. I make my weekly list digitally first so that I can figure out which 16 tasks I want to prioritise and in what order. Generally I have:

  • Dated tasks – like appointments, meetings or family quiz night
  • Uni work – currently just my dissertation
  • ‘Boring’ to dos – things like finances, cleaning the house etc
  • Stuff to do in quarantine – things that I don’t need to do but fill out my time a little more where I’m still stuck at home
  • Content – my blog and YouTube channel
  • Monthly goals – steps to help achieve my monthly goals
  • ‘Fun’ to dos – the stuff that isn’t as boring; painting my nails, watering my plants, little jobs that I don’t class as boring essentially!

STEP 4

(Sorry this photo’s a bit blurry – I have shaky hands and I can never tell!)

Next I fill in my daily tasks on the right hand side – this year I’m doing 1 Second Everyday and if I don’t write it down I forget so I put that in first. Some of my monthly goals involve daily tasks – like this month I want to try and do 5000 steps every day (it’s not going very well tbh!) and I’m doing Hannah Witton’s ‘Dear June’ instagram challenge but I thought three tasks written out everyday is going to mean I don’t have enough space to write other tasks in so I put them in one of the spare boxes at the bottom of the page.

STEP 5

I write in when I want to make a publish all my content, because if I don’t write it down I will forget. Breaking them down into smaller tasks rather than writing posts on the days I want to upload them or filming, editing and uploading in one day makes the overall task of producing content much more achievable – I spend maybe half an hour tops on each task (other than editing the video, that can take longer) and it means all my blog posts get properly proofread and no tasks feel too big to achieve.

STEP 6

Next I fill in uni work and the dated tasks – I’ve decided to give myself regular times each week to do my uni work so it feels like attending a lecture or something more time bound rather than ‘just do it’ because I will not do it, because procrastination is my middle name.

STEP 7

Fill in the rest! I definitely didn’t take this on a different day! Generally I go down my weekly list and assign tasks to different days – Sundays and Mondays are generally pretty similar every week but everything else just slots in wherever I fancy. If I’m having a really productive week then I’ll do tasks ahead of time anyway, but if I’m not, having only 6 (ish) tasks a day is generally pretty manageable. I’m getting better at not giving myself a hard time if I don’t get everything done.

And that’s my finished weekly spread! I know so many people are so much more artsy and creative with their bullet journals but mine’s always been about personal function and that’s what works for me.

Thank you for reading – I hope you and your loved ones are happy, healthy and staying safe!

Sophie xx

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attending my first wedding show!

2020, lifestyle, wedding

Hello!

In my head, I’ve not stopped talking about how my partner and I have decided to get married and we picked a wedding date and we’re kind of engaged but there wasn’t a proposal (yet?) and there’s not ring, but every time I post about it someone new comments saying ‘how did I miss this?!’ so here it is: my boyfriend Lucas and I are engaged. I’m going to make a video talking about ‘how it happened’ and answering any questions about the whole thing this weekend so if you have any questions let me know!

My mum has been super excited about it all ever since I told her and last weekend we went to our first wedding show together – we attended the National Wedding Show in Birmingham and I thought I’d collate a few thoughts on the whole thing because… it was a lot.

The reason we decided to go to a wedding show was because the whole ‘planning a wedding’ thing is very overwhelming – the date we’ve picked isn’t until the end of 2022, but everyone keeps telling me it will fly by but it still feels a very long way away. So going and speaking to lots of exhibitors, seeing what I’d need to be thinking about and getting some inspiration was a really great way to start.

We went into it all with a very open mind – with nothing booked and over two and a half years to go I’m in the very early stages of planning. Most of the venders I spoke to were venues because that’s the first thing that needs to be decided (I think?). Most of the venues we spoke to were surprisingly local for a National wedding event, so they were all based around Birmingham – this isn’t an ‘issue’ per say, as neither of us are dead set on a location, but it did surprise me a little whilst also making a lot of sense. I don’t know if I’m making sense, but after speaking to 10-15 venues and picking up loads of brochures, there are a couple that I really liked the sound of that I would like to consider in the long run.

The most annoying thing about the whole show was that there were loads of music venders that were super loud – they were dotted all around the stalls and it made it really difficult to hear anyone you were trying to talk to. Personally, we thought it would make more sense to have a stage that cycled through all the musical performances as the day went on (like the catwalk show that was going on in the middle of the event) and would have been fairer on the other venders who must have really struggled to get as much business when no one can hear or wants to shout to have a conversation with them.

It might make me sound like a grandma, but it didn’t make me want to work with or hire any of the performers that’s for sure.

On the brighter side, there were so many freebies – from loads of cans of lemon flavoured drinks, make-up and skincare samples, sweets, vouchers and even a bottle of rosé, we definitely made the cost of the ticket back in the free things that were handed out.

Overall, the event was busy, really crammed into an unnecessarily small space (there was another half of the hall that was completely empty at the back?) and I feel like it may have been too early to really make the most of the deal and offers for a 2022 wedding, even though the venders said it wasn’t (though that might have been because they wanted my money).

But we had a lovely day out none the less! Though, in most of this wedding planning process I’ve not decided if ‘we’ is my and my boyfriend (fiancé?) or me and my mum? In this situation is was me and my mum!

I’m actually going to another wedding fair this weekend so hopefully I’ll continue to get more ideas and really figure out all the steps I need to take to plan ‘the big day’.

I don’t plan on going to wedding fairs every weekend between now and 2022, just to clarify, if just happens that these two were consecutive weekends!

I’d love to make lots of wedding planning based content around here, particularly when it gets a bit closer to the day but let me know – do you want to see that kind of content? What planning I’m doing, spreadsheets and lists etc? I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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March Goals 2020

2020, goals, organisation, student

Hello!

I know it’s not just me but wow has March come around fast? How on Earth is it nearly March already? (Well that would be the natural progression of time, but that’s not the point)

With a new month comes new goals and a new chance to work on self improvement! Does that sound super pretentious? Hell yeah, but also not a bad thing to be working on.

This month my goals are a little heavy, but January and February was a mixed bag and it felt a little repetitive so I’m pushing myself. How well will it go? I’m not sure, but even if I make a little progress in each of these goals then it’s still progress! I’m getting better at recognising small steps of progress and celebrating them as part of the bigger picture.

Jumping straight in!

  • start planning my dissertation artefact – my dissertation isn’t due till September but I have to write a 5000 word essay and make a project, which in my case is 10 minutes of playable game and a 10 minute short animation. Neither of which I know how to do yet. But I want to start take small steps – come up with a game and animation concept, perhaps start writing a script for one (or both!) and maybe even start drawing some concept art. The focus is making a start on the project in some sort of capacity.
  • work on a new career plan based on the work I did in my PG Cert last year – my career and what I want to do with my life has been freaking me out since I had the shocking realisation that I don’t want to work in marketing. So I’ve booked an appointment with the careers team at my university and I want to use the professional development plan I made last year and redesign it to try and fit my new goals (or find some goals to fit anyway).
  • try FOUR new veggie recipes – I’ve been trying really hard to be more cautious about how much eating and get more veggies in my diet on both a ‘saving the planet’ and eating healthier point of view. But I’ve hit a bit of a stale mate so I want to try some new things! Maybe I won’t like them, but that’s fine – cooking is my time to chill and relax at the end of the day so I will enjoy the process of cooking regardless of the outcome. I’m starting next week by making a veggie tikki masala so if you want to know how that goes, probably check my instagram!
  • practice digital art – in the black friday sales last year I treated myself to a drawing tablet and I’ve used it precisely once since I got it. In line with the animation I have to create for my dissertation, I just want to practice drawing in a new way! Starting with some concept art would be beneficial on two of my goals and being able to tick two things off at once just makes my heart soar a little bit.
  • writing challenge – 18,000 words (581 words per day) – if you were following along last year you’ll know I set myself little writing challenges in the run up to NaNoWriMo in November (writing 50,000 words in 30 days!) and this year I’m doing the same. Writing has been my thing for as long as I can remember and I don’t want to lose the skill or the habit! I think I’m going to work on something new this month, but if you’d like to hear more about that just let me know!

And my two smaller goals that I’ve set myself for every month this year is to read at least one book (currently I’m above and beyond that and feeling very smug about it) and have a date night with my boyfriend, so they’re at the bottom of my list too.

This months goals are big, but I’m thinking of them as small steps in the building blocks to bigger things and as like the beginning of every month, I’m feeling fired up to achieve them.

Let me know your goals! I’m starting to think that I should find a way to set up some sort of consultancy business where I can make lists and help people with their goals and hold them accountable and stuff because I love making lists and goal setting so much. Is this a ridiculous idea? I don’t think anyone would pay for that!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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having a 5 year ‘plan’… ish

2020, career, goals, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

With the amount of goals, organisation and planning posts I’ve written on this little blog, I think it’s relatively clear that I’m one of these ‘productivity’ types (even if being organised is actually procrastinating being productive). One of my goals for 2019 was to start a five year plan and get some notes on paper on what I want to achieve over the next 5 years. As I moved into my new bullet journal this New Year, I’ve started my ‘new’ 5 year plan starting in 2020 and ending in 2024 (where I’ll turn ~28~ and that is scarily close to 30).

But calling it a 5 year ‘plan’ feels a little bit more formal than my plan really is – it’s a double page spread in my bullet journal (though it might actually make more sense to make it digitally if you do everything else online!) with a grid split into five columns and three rows for the five years of the plan and three categories I plan my life in.

So I thought today I’d write about how I make my 5 year plan, what I’m learning in my second year of having a 5 year plan and where I think I’ll learn more in the future.

I started by making a grid in my bullet journal – as I said, 5 years across the top and three categories down the side. Three seems to be my magic number and having three categories works for my New Years Goals and I thought it would be useful to have those three categories match up, so mine are Professional, Personal and Home.

They’re pretty self-explanatory – in ‘Professional’ I put my career goals, at this point I am having somewhat of a career crisis and I have no idea what I want to do so this section is a bit quiet at the moment. But as I do more research into what I actually want to do and actually develop a career I can make more solid career goals but this section is probably the simplest.

The next section is ‘Personal’ – this is where I will detail my travel plans, any ‘life’ stuff like when I want to shave my head again etc. I’m still kind of figuring out what I want to put in this category but it’s for things that aren’t career stuff, kind of hobby related, travel goals and stuff.

And then the last category is ‘Home’ – this is where I put my plans for my life with my boyfriend essentially. Where we’ll live, what we’re saving for (house deposit etc), when we’ll get a pet, maybe a wedding or a baby? It’s another one of those that’ll get more specific when I have more of an idea about what my career will look like over the next few years but the baseline and the ideas for what I want to achieve is already set!

And that’s my 5 year plan! It feels like I haven’t described enough but actually, all it takes to make a ‘5 year plan’ (or ideas, which is how I prefer to think about it) is to write down 5 years and write down what you’d like to achieve in that time.

Now going into my second year looking at my 5 year plan, I can see what was a ridiculous idea and what is actually more achievable. I’ve learnt that setting ‘blind goals’ (such as “I want to have made this career progression” when I’m not actually sure what career I want right now) is not going to help anything and filling up space for the sake of it might make it look like I have my life together but it’s just unachievable words. This year, having an emptier plan is something I’m finding reassuring rather than intimidating – it’s a prospect of endless possibilities and not a terrifying emptiness (well, most of the time anyway).

As I continue to fill in my 5 year plan this year and start again in next year’s bullet journal and so on, I can only see that I’ll get better at goal setting and making them S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound, or something like that). It’ll be less ‘get married’ and ‘try for a baby’ and more ‘pay X amount of the mortgage’ and maybe ‘Child A starts school’ – the next 5 years are going to be some of the biggest of my life and that is exciting.

But even talking about 5 year plans sounds daunting – the thought of knowing exactly what I want from the next stage of my life is a lot! But seeing the scope of what I could achieve is really motivating and helps me focus on the steps I need to achieve to be able to get there. 

If you’re wanting to take yearly goals to another level and get some longer term ideas down on paper but don’t know where to start, just start by writing down the years. It’s a lot less daunting than you think when it actually comes to it! Hope that helps.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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how I’m organising my uni work

2019, organisation, student

Hello!

Oh it’s been a hot minute since we’ve had a chat about organisation hasn’t it?

Whilst living out of a mate’s flat and my car being in the garage, I feel a little up in the air and figuring out how I’m going to stay on top of my uni work is a little bit overwhelming at the moment but because it’s me, obviously I’ve made approximately seven lists and writing it all out will be helpful for me and hopefully for some other people too! So let’s jump right in.

1. Make a visual calendar

It’s probably as easy to buy a calendar but I’m all about resourcefulness and being able to design my own planners – I’ve made a ‘week per page’ diary like section at the back of my uni notebook and I find it much simpler to visualise when Week 7 is when I’ve got it all listed out in front of me.

I can write down when my lectures are, when my assignments are due, any formative assignments, plan when I’m going to do certain work by, self set deadlines and even put some social life stuff on there so I know which days to keep a bit clearer. This is basically a duplicate of what’s in my bullet journal but I normally only design my bullet journal spreads one week ahead so to have a whole semester works well for my visual brain.

2. Have a list of all your assignments in the order they’re due

It’s easy enough to know you’ve written an assignment down somewhere but I think it’s so important to know exactly what you’re doing (so you can ask your lecturer questions on things you’re not sure about if nothing else!) and when it’s due. From there’s it’s easier to self-set formative deadlines.

For example, if you have a 2000 word essay due, you can look at the due date, see how many weeks you have a plan ahead – say you want all your research collated four weeks before it’s due, you want to have a full first draft written two weeks before it’s due and all your appendices and references done a week in advance so you can send it to your mum and your mates to once over.

I won’t lie – I love the idea of setting these deadlines and I still end up writing most of my essays the night before they’re due. But I’m a post-grad now so I’m hoping to take the mistakes from my undergrad and learn.

Though most of the learning I’ve done so far is ‘pick a practical course so I don’t have to write essays’. It’s working out for me.

3. Don’t plan to spend a whole day doing uni work

I mean, obviously everyone is different and I know I spent a lot of my secondary school days doing all my homework on a Sunday but now, I personally find it better to do one task a day interspersed with other things I need to do or more fun tasks.

At the moment I’m having to watch a lot of pretentious high brow foreign films and read articles, but rather than spending one day at the weekend watching three films and reading four dissertations, I’d rather spread it out over the week. Making sure I plan to do other things like catch up on the Circle, write blog posts, go for a walk into town for food shopping etc makes the uni tasks feel less heavy and overall make me feel far more productive.

4. It’s all about balance, give yourself a break

No one is productive every day. Nah, I’m not having it. I don’t believe it. I’m a busy, productive, organised person but I still have days where I can’t bring myself to get out of bed or binge watch YouTube on the sofa convincing myself I can ‘do uni work at the same time’ when I know it’s not true.

Find a balance and be kind to yourself – if you’re feeling stressed, bogged down and reluctant you’re probably not going to do any good work anyway so let yourself relax and come back to it another day, or maybe even a few hours later.

Obviously, the balance is the key bit – if you’re having these days more than maybe twice a week, reaching out to your lecturers or the welfare team at your school or uni might make you feel better to have shared the problem and those people can help you put plans in place to help you make those tasks easier.

I started school in the year 2000, my first year without education was in 2018 and in 2019 I’m right back at it with my MSc. I know myself pretty well and I’d like to think that I’m doing it somewhat successfully getting medium-high grades all round, but I don’t think we ever stop learning. We never finish figuring out how we learn best, how we work best, what ‘routine’ works best for us. Continuing to grow and develop can be daunting, but it’s exciting too.

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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how I manage my finances without a budget

2019, lifestyle, organisation, student

Hello!

Figuring out my finances is something I’ve had to watch very closely this month – with buying a car on finance and the end of last month and spending my wages before I got them, this month has been and will be very, very tight but in the months leading up to buying my car and this month of tight budgeting I’m so proud of how well I’ve managed them that I’ve decided to share!

I’m someone who feels inclined to spend money when they’re sad so being able to tackle that and being at a point where I know I can save reliably and buy myself a car without dipping into my savings is a big step for me.

And the biggest thing for me is not having a set budget – I’ve tried apps like Yolt and Cleo and I just found they weren’t flexible enough for real life. Saying ‘I’m only going to spend £X this month’ doesn’t allow for spontaneous plans – paying for trains for a job interview,  having to pay for more bus tickets than expected or even going for a last minute coffee with a friend you haven’t seen for a long time can effect your budget and I just found that it didn’t work for me. So this is more about tracking your finances and making sure you can hit all your goals – whether that’s saving a certain amount, not spending over a certain amount (I guess that’s having a budget) or just making sure you can pay all your bills, these are my tips and tricks for flexible financing.

*obviously I’m not an expert and I’m not claiming to be, just sharing tips from someone who using half her savings to live last year and now has bought herself a car on finance*

1. Have somewhere to track your finances

I only mention my bullet journal in basically every blog post I write but for me I have a spread in my journal for my finances each month. On the left I have notes which I will expand on and on the right page is where I write down everything I’m spending as it comes out of my bank account. I don’t track cash spending because either I will have drawn that cash from my bank which I track or it’s cash that I’ve been given for whatever reason so it doesn’t effect my bank account. I tried tracking as I spent but then it got confusing with keeping receipts and it’s better for the environment if not so now I just track my spending as it comes out of my bank account.

Either way, I recommend writing it all down! Whether it’s a note on your phone, a notebook that you have specifically for finances or in a bullet journal like me, write it down!

Normally it’s neater than this, but having somewhere to really know how much I’m spending it important to me

2. Plan your month

I like to break it down with my income at the top of the left hand page, then a list of all my bills and when I’d expect them to come out (then I can tick them off and it’s very satisfying) and then a list of any costs I know I’m going to incur.

So this month I had to pay for a tattoo (because car and tattoo timing ended up being awful), two driving lessons, my savings challenge and bus fares and having it all written out makes it much easier to track.

My savings challenge, for anyone that’s interested, came from Facebook last year – you save a pound more every week for a whole year (so £1, then £2, then £3 etc) so it was really easy in January but now I’m saving just under £150 a month and by the end of the year it’ll be a lot per month but I’ll have over £1300 saved in a year which I’m so proud of and I haven’t done it yet, but it’s important to me and I want to complete it!

So knowing what my month is going to look like is really helpful – taking my bills and planned payments into account means I know how much money I have to play with and depending on how much I want to save and what it is I want to spend my money on I can figure out my spending from there.

3. Focus on what you need and not what you want

It’s so easy when you get an email about 20% off on ASOS or you fancy some Bourneville Buttons to just go and buy them, but if you really want to make the most of your finances you have to think about what you really want from them.

If a treat every now and then is in your budget then go for it, if you’ve had your eye on a jacket that really fills a gap in your wardrobe then go for it, but if you really need to save and you’re looking at buying a new notebook for the sake of it then you really need to think about if it can wait.

Another thing I find helps with this is having a post it note or section in your journal towards a ‘big spend’ – if there’s something that you want or need to spend slightly more money on. I have a big spend post it note that I transfer to each monthly finance spread with each month and what I would like to be my ‘big spend’ if I can afford it. It’s meant that because I could plan it out, I bought myself a Nintendo Switch in May, a new car in June and I’m hoping to be able to get prescription sunglasses and pay the deposit on a rented property in August. It really is achievable if you set your mind to it!

It’s a difficult skill to master discipline and nobody’s perfect, but trying your best is the best you can do.

So there’s my top advice for helping manage your finances in a more realistic way than most of the apps will let you. I personally find them all too fiddly and they never track my bills right, but maybe I’ve just not put the time into them.

I think I’ll always be a pen and paper gal myself, but I hope this helps in some way!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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2019 Goals – Mid Year Review

2019, goals

Hello!

love goal setting and the end of June is always somewhat momentous for me because I know it marks the halfway point to the year, so it’s the best time to check in on my goals, adapt if necessary and see how much progress I’m making!

Quick context – I have three categories that I set goals in (personal, career, creative) and each of those categories has three goals and then I tried something new this year in setting some ‘bucket list’ style goals.

I’ll try to keep this brief but I do love a ramble about goals and progress so tuck yourself in lads! Grab a cuppa and tell me all about your goals in the comments please!

Personal Goals:

1. work towards my weight goals – eat well, build workout routine

I feel like I mention it in every blog post, YouTube video and Instagram caption but I’ve been trying to lose weird basically forever now. Progress has been slow over the last three months or so but I’m trying to eat much more intuitively and I’ve been running three times a week (or thereabout) for nearly 10 weeks now and I feel like it’s the longest I’ve ever stuck to something and I’m really proud of myself!

2. prioritise tasks and make time for hobbies – stop caring about ‘productivity’ so much

I’ve been refining how I make my to do lists and generally I am finding ways to make the most of every day as much as I can. I definitely haven’t been making time for hobbies but I have been more efficient with my productivity. I still care about productivity much more than I want to, but with how the rest of the year is going to go I think the time for hobbies will come. But in a way writing blog posts and YouTube videos are my hobbies so I guess that counts?

3. self esteem, I need some

This was a way of wording ‘fix my mental health’ whilst being a bit kinder to myself about it. I’ve tried my best to get to know each other and build better habits and I’m much better at recognising the triggers of when I’m not doing so good. I’ve had a bunch of doctors appointments, I’m on anti-depressants now and I’m on a waiting list for computerised CBT, which I’m hesitant about but know it’ll probably be for the best. This is the most progress I’ve made with my mental health in the ten years I’ve been internally battling with myself so whilst I don’t really have any self-esteem yet, the whole process is a work in progress.

Career Goals:

1. build freelance career – make my own work, be my own boss, superhero woman (essentially)

I set this goal in the beginning of the year when I had freelance work and that fell through within a few weeks (which was horrible, ngl) so now this goal is just about working hard for me. How this year has gone so far hasn’t been to plan for me, but I’ve gotten over myself and made my situation work and I’ve earned enough many to make a big purchase recently so it’s going okay! I’m making it all work.

2. build my own media kit (save for a camera/refine my skills)

This one is something I know exactly what I want but I’ve justified that I’m not going to spend the money on something as big as a camera and lenses etc when I’m not certain I’m going to use them or they’re going to be a cost-effective purchase. If I spend the second half of the year glued to a camera, then I can justify it, if I don’t then I’m not going to spend that much money on a camera. All justified!

3. make a future plan with work goals, house/relationship aspirations etc

I’ve done this! Not set in stone kind of 5 year plan because that just doesn’t work for me but I have the framework in my bullet journal and that I add to a change and adapt occasionally. It’s all flexible because I think life is too unpredictable to really make a solid 5 year plan.

Creative Goals:

1. continue towards making the most genuine ‘me’ content on my blog and youtube channel

Actually really pleased with this one – I’m really happy with the attitude I have towards my blog and my channel at the moment and cutting myself some slack when I don’t upload exactly at the right time or anything. I feel more genuine than I’ve felt in a long time and I’m really happy with it.

2. write a book? finish something? write more than I did in 2018 (may be some freelance writing?)

I’ve been planning little writing challenges all through this year in the build up to writing 50,000 words in November for NaNoWriMo and it’s been going semi-decently! I’ve not always hit word counts but I’ve been writing consistently for the first time since before I went to uni. This month I’m hoping to write 35,000 words but I’m significantly behind and it’s day 6 so I’m hoping to get a couple of really good catch up days in before the month is out.

3. work on photography – need to solidify basic knowledge and then work with better equipment

I spent a lot of time at the beginning of this year teaching myself the basics of photography – what all the settings really mean, getting to know my camera, figuring out how the core skills of photography really work. It’s something I want to develop further with more experience when I go back to uni in September but for now I’m pleased with the progress I’ve made so far.

10 ‘bucket list’ goals:

1. have a PT session

This one is centred around driving for me – I can’t walk to a gym locally and I’m moving soon so getting professional help with working out will come when either I can drive or I move. Another work in progress!

2. get another tattoo

Done! Got a series of tattoos to start my travel sleeve this week and I love them so much.

(photos)

3. read a book a month

I’m currently on 7 out of 12 books for the year! I haven’t read for a few weeks but because I was a little bit ahead it was a bit of pressure off and I’m going to get back to it soon, when I’ve fixed my sleeping pattern (lol).

4. do a grid drawing every month

For context – the premise of this is this is that I print off a line drawing, draw a 30 square grid over the top and colour in one square each day of the month. This is something I’m really enjoying – sometimes I find colouring books a bit daunting because I don’t know where to start or they’re so intricate but this one has been really good for my mental health and for my creativity.

5. listen to more music, use Spotify playlists

I’ve been writing my monthly mixtape posts for a few months now and I listen to my discover weekly playlist every week!

6. save for a canon 80d, 50mm lens and a 75-300mm lens

See previous photography goals – if I don’t do this one it’s a financial choice.

7. have a little trip away with my boyfriend every month

I wrote a blog post about how I’ve already broken this one for the year but finances and work have disrupted this one a little, but that’s alright – it was pretty ambitious anyway.

8. take my driving test + upgrade my car

I have taken my driving test once and failed but next one is booked and I feel so much better about it. And I bought a new car at the weekend! I’m genuinely so excited about it all, I can’t wait to see where my little H R Wheels and I will go in the latter half of this year.

9. improve my posture

A silly one, but one I’m trying to integrate into my day to day life.

10. find somewhere to live/get our own place

And following the brief mention of going back to uni, my boyfriend and I will be moving somewhere close to Oxford (probably Aylesbury because there doesn’t seem to property available anywhere else). We’ll be moving in the next couple of months!

And that’s a check in with all of my goals for 2019! I think checking in on goals like this is really important because if you’re on track and making progress it inspires you to keep going and if you feel like you’ve not made as much progress as you’d like it gives you the kick up the bum to focus!! Here’s to the home straight of 2019!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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