Goals: Reflecting on June and July and Establishing August and September.

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I’m back today to talk about my goals for June and July, while creating two new goals for August and September, something which I’m finding really fascinating for my goal-oriented mind. It’s my twist on New Year’s Resolutions, so if you want to find out what I talked about last time in terms of bringing my goals back, you can read that post right here.

Run twenty miles.

Twenty miles in two months really isn’t all that much but that was the point. I wasn’t a seasoned runner like I used to be so I set myself a low goal so I knew I could achieve it, and I did. It’s so strange to say it but I’ve seen progress in those two months already and I couldn’t be happier about it. I had a complex about my running because I was at a better stage last year and I think that’s part of the reason why I had been avoiding it.

Learn Polish again.

Our Polish practice was really important to Scott and I because it was something we agreed to do at the start of the year because we both love languages. However, ever since I left school, I’ve never had the discipline to sit down and try to learn a new language. Once we stopped our Duolingo for a week, that week turned into quite a few months and we kept saying to each other, “Okay, we’ll start it again tonight” but that tonight never came. I’m happy to say that we’ve started again and we’ve got to that difficult stage in the language where we’re trying to learn the difference between what verb to use depending on the gender or activity. It’s frustrating sure, but it’s something that we’re happy to be back learning.
Having progressed on both those goals, that doesn’t mean the end for those. I’m planning on upping my mileage by five miles for the next two months and we’re planning on keeping the Duolingo on track too, but those aren’t my new goals. Those are goals that will continue on in the background because if I wasn’t planning on continuing them, the whole aspect of setting goals would be pointless, right?

Read two books and listen to one audiobook.

Very specific I know but using the SMART goal method (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) it fits in perfectly. I could say “I want to read more” but if I read a page, I could conquer that goal but it wouldn’t move me any further forward. I’m still trying really hard to read more books and this year has been an incredible year for audiobooks especially, but I want to combine them both into this goal, to give myself a little variety.

Plan out my workouts in the gym in advance.

One of the goals in my Continue, Start and Stop plan was that I wanted to stop going to the gym with no plan. Sure, it only takes a few minutes to plan out what you want to do but it’s just so much better to know in advance. It means you can plan your leg day, your back and chest day or even your cardio day with a better intention of how you want your workouts to be for the rest of the week.

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Thank you so much for reading today’s post! If you can’t tell, posts around goals or goal setting in general are one of my favourites to write and if you have any similar posts, I’d love to take a read.

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Buying My First Car: What I Learned and My Advice to Others.

Buying My First Car

Today’s post has been a few months in the making; mainly because I didn’t want to write a “What I Learned…” about something I had for a week or a month, I don’t believe it would have been very beneficial so today’s post is all about buying my first car and why I went down the route I did. 

My history with cars has been pretty simple. I’ve been on my Grandad’s insurance since I started driving six years ago, I was also on my Dad’s insurance as well as an ex-boyfriend’s and my brother’s, and I have also rented a few cars for a small number of weekends away. I’ve driven probably less than ten cars but they’ve all been so different (as all cars are of course) so I’ve known overtime I can adapt to pretty much any car, not straight away but it doesn’t take too long. 

Where I live, it’s not too far from the city centre; you can get there by an eight minute bus or a half hour walk. My (not so new) job means that it’s a six minute drive or a half an hour walk, but I’ve only ever walked to my job once (One of the downfalls of having a car is that it’s harder to walk everywhere when you’re so used to driving) I had a car that I was borrowing for a few months but I knew it wasn’t going to be mine forever and I knew that my job was going to be moving offices, I just didn’t know when. Our new office is accessible by public transport but it was going to be a twenty minute walk to the bus stop and then an additional fifteen minutes bus journey, which I know isn’t bad considering people are sometimes on a bus for hours each day. For me however, I thought a car would be much more beneficial than getting public transport, not just for work but for groceries at the weekend and day trips too. Yes, you could technically say I’m feeding into the emissions in the air, but I try my best when I can when it comes to helping the planet. 

IMG_20180806_165226_393.jpg(This is my dream car! We rented this one time when we were taking a staycation weekend trip and I absolutely loved driving it.)

I’m not a car person; I didn’t know makes and when someone asked me about a car, I would normally only remember the colour. Not the best attitude to start looking for a car I know, so I had to do some research. Mind you, I didn’t have to do loads because I was looking for a simple car that was going to get me A-to-B but I wanted to make sure that it was going to be a good runner and without the pain of having to get it fixed every few months. I had started searching on websites that had private owners but I came to the decision pretty early on that I wanted to go to an official dealer instead and see what they had to offer.  

I didn’t have the money to buy a car outright so that was another big influence in going to a dealer rather than someone private. I had heard of the finance options that were available and I felt a little lost because I didn’t want to get a car on finance originally but knowing my financial income and wanting a car, this was the only route to go down. Turns out it’s not as bad as I had thought; at first I thought it was a complete waste of money and in the end you wouldn’t own the car but you actually can do this, depending on what finance option you go for. 

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(This is Penelope, isn’t she a cutie!)

I’ve now had my car for around three months (at the time of writing this post) and I thought I would give you my advice on what to look for and what to do when you’re buying your first car. 

Look at what finance options are available to you. 

Finance can be a mind-field if you let it be, and because it is an investment, it’s important to know what your options are. There is PCP (Personal Contract Purchase) or HP (Higher Purchase) both have their advantages and their disadvantages but I personally went with HP. It’s over five years and because it’s longer, the repayments are less. There is also the option of getting a loan, whether that’s from the Credit Union (if you’re part of one) or from your Bank; they tend to have good interest rates especially if you’re already a customer. I found this really good article by the Money Advice Services on the different types of payment options for a car (https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/car-finance-explainedso if you’re looking for a more in-depth look on the options available, I’d recommend that. 

Know what type of car you would like and what you’re using it for. 

From the beginning, I knew that I wanted a simple car that I could use to drive myself to work, take to the shops for the weekly shop and to go out on road trips. I wasn’t going to be using it to bring furniture one place to another so I didn’t mind it was a smaller car. I didn’t need a huge boot and a small boot would encourage me not to pack it so much. The bigger the car, normally the bigger the price so I knew if I didn’t need a big car, I wouldn’t get a big car.  

Set a budget and stick to it. 

I fell in love with the Nissan Juke when I rented it and that is my dream car, but it just wasn’t in my budget. Scott and I had discussed buying the car together and splitting the repayments, and while he wasn’t going to drive it, he still wanted to pay towards it. This meant that I wasn’t doing it on my own but we still looked at a price that would let us both live comfortably and being able to pay petrol and anything else that may be needed towards it. You also have to look at the price in terms of the extras that you may or may not want to pay. I got extras which I do regret some of them now, I don’t believe I need them that much and I could go without them but that’s a lesson for my next car. 

Ask someone who knows the right questions to ask. 

As someone who doesn’t know anything about cars, I asked my Grandad and Scott’s Dad about cars because they are much more knowledgeable than me and they were both really helpful. I think it’s important to ask for help especially when you’re making such a huge commitment as to buying your first car (or buying a car in general). It’s a massive payment and it’s a long term investment which should be taken seriously, so asking those questions no matter if you think they are silly, is still important. 

Experience the cars in real-life. 

Photographs are great sure, but having a look around the car, seeing what it’s like inside is something that you can’t experience online. I think it’s fantastic being able to see a wide range of cars online but if you can narrow down your choice then make a few appointments to go and see a few cars to see if you really like them. Will you be comfortable driving it? What is the exterior like? Is it bigger or smaller in real life than you had imagined? You’re under no obligation to buy a car when you’re just looking but it can really help if you even take it for a test drive. You might like the overall look of the car but maybe not how it drives, so it’s important that you’re not just going by picture alone.  

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Thank you for reading today’s post! I hope that could be helpful to at least one person and if you have any similar posts you’d like to share; please leave them down below in the comments, over on my Twitter or my Instagram. 

 

 

My Continue, Start and Stop Plan: Updated for Mid-2019.

My Continue, Start and Stop Plan

You may remember at the start of the year, I wrote two posts about New Year’s Resolutions and one of those posts talked about the Continue, Start and Stop Plan that I wanted to incorporate into my year. We’re six months in and I thought it was time to update the plan and talk about what’s changed and what hasn’t. 

The Start, Continue and Stop Plan was one of the most beneficial ways for me to work out what I wanted to do day-to-day because it was the perfect tool to help me realise what I want to do but don’t, and what I’m happy to keep going with. The entire point with the plan isn’t to do everything at once which is quite refreshing but because I had quite a lot of activities on there, it means that your brain can constantly be focused on moving forward with something so they aren’t necessarily goals because there may not be an end point with them. 

I won’t go over every single activity that I talked about before, but if you want to see what I did for that, I’ll link it here. In that post, I listed them out simply because it was easier to visually to look at, but I thought it might be a nice idea to add the mind-maps today so you could see my logic as I was writing everything down. Now you’ll notice that there are actually four clouds rather than three; continue, back on track, start and stop. The reason for the back-on-track one is for activities that I don’t believe fit on the continue cloud because I haven’t done them for a while but they don’t belong on the start cloud either because I have done them before. 

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What do I want to continue in 2019?  
  • Drinking more water is something I’ve been trying my best at for a month or so, not very long mind you but my skin was getting really dehydrated, the skin under my eyes looked very dark and it was very dry. I knew that I needed to keep track of it in order to improve my skin so I used the Samsung Health app that I have on my phone and that’s how I keep track of my water intake. It only takes a few seconds to update so every time I go and get a new refill of water, that’s when I add to my tracker. 
  • Booking appointments in advance doesn’t sound that impressive sure, but I have my dentist check-up booked for December (it’s been booked since June) and I book my beauty appointments every three months. Again, it doesn’t take too long to book them all at one time so it’s all about those little time saving hacks. 
  • I began volunteering with the Girl Guides in November last year and while I’m still not that confident in “being a leader” I’m currently trying to progress in their leadership programme, I’ve even been to camp this year and I’m working on a programme for the girls for after the Summer. I love planning and organising so it’s something I’m really throwing myself into. 
What do I want to get back on track mid-2019? 
  • Filling in my diary was what I was known for amongst most people I know. I didn’t go anywhere without my Filofax, just in case I had to add to it (but I really only added to it when I was in a quiet space where I can write neatly). This is going to sound really vain but the diary itself was falling apart and it had seen better days. Did it still do the job? Yes, absolutely but I wanted something that looked the part because that’s how my brain works. Yes, it sounds crazy but it’s how I like it. Thankfully, I’m planning on starting my Filofax back up again because it’s an essential for me if I want to get my running routine and morning gym sessions back on track, so the diary planning isn’t just for appointments and special dates, it’s to help me with my fitness too. 
  • You might have seen this pop up in my June and July Goals post, but getting back to our daily language practice is really important because Scott and I absolutely loved doing it. It was a really nice thing to do together, and it’s something that we’re really happy to get back on track with. 
  • Writing blog posts and being creative is something that I love and over the last few months, I haven’t been writing as much. There are quite a number of factors behind it; my mental health, my mindset, not feeling they are worth reading, not having anything of value to say and generally not sure what I want from it. I never started blogging to make money, it was let me get creative in another way and I‘ve achieved that, but I have had certain doubts of the last few months. I believe that I’ll get back on track with it soon along with some belief in myself, I know that it’s not something I can push like some of the other habits though. 

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What you’ll notice is both my “start” and “stop” clouds are smaller in activities than the previous two. Not necessarily on purpose but I want to be more intentional with my “continue” and “back on track” clouds and not put too much pressure on myself to do everything. The activities in these clouds however aren’t very hard things to do and they all do fit in with building a routine of some sort, so it does balance itself out. Even if you want to only work on what you’re doing at the moment and what you want to get back on track, I still think it’s important to jot down the bad habits you would like to stop and habits you would like to pick up, because it’s going to give you a better overall picture of where you are. 

What do I want to start mid-2019? 
  • Who else sets an alarm to do something important every day? Well, I’m going to start doing this for my tablets and vitamins (I’ve just bought vitamins for the first time which should have happened a long time ago!) because I’m really quite bad at forgetting to take my tablets. I know, I know, I should know better by now and I don’t forget all the time, but it’s such a simple thing to do, why shouldn’t I do it if it’s going to help. 
  • I stopped using my FitBit last year but because I was walking so much, I didn’t need to use it. I already knew I was walking more than enough every day but now I don’t and It’s something I’m want to focus on. Now technically I have started this with more of my walks mostly in the evenings, but I want to keep it up on an almost daily basis. 10,000 steps is the minimum most of us should be walking so if I’m able to do so, I want to take advantage of that when I can. Since I don’t have the FitBit anymore, I use Samsung Health to track it now. 
What do I want to stop mid-2019? 
  • Emotional eating is something I believe we all struggle with at one point or another and I can admit it’s something I have had to deal with. I’m not emotional eating every single day but towards the end of the day, I feel like I need something sweet. Intuitively, I know that I’m missing something from my diet and whatever that is, it means that I’m craving that sweet thing. The reality is, I know that I don’t need a chocolate bar or an ice-cream bar every day; while it’s okay to do that of course, it’s not something I want to have as part of my daily diet, and I think that’s absolutely fine too. 
  • Pulling and twisting my hair is one of my worst habits and it’s not just a bad habit at this stage; it’s at the point now where I don’t realise I’m doing it all the time. If it continues, I know my hair is going to get even thinner and my scalp is going to get more sensitive. I was doing research a few weeks ago because I wanted to know if it was a common issue but I found out that I may have dermatillomania or trichotillomania. It’s not a simple as just stopping, because if everything was that easy, we’d all be damn perfect. I’m trying my best to find certain techniques and so far, it hasn’t worked out in my favour, but it’s all about finding something that works and I’m sure I will at one point. 

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I hope you enjoyed today’s post! A long one, I know but I wanted to give a little more detail on some of the activities and habits that I have chosen to concentrate on because it gives you, as the reader, a better insight to me as a person and my overall personality. What do you think of this type of plan? Are you more interested in short term goals? Let me know your thoughts or if you have anything similar to share, please let me know down below in the comments, over on my Instagram or on my Twitter. Have a great day! ☀️

I Never Want To Run A Marathon… And That’s Okay.

I Never Want To Run A Marathon... And That’s Okay (1)

How often do you read or hear about someone training for a marathon and think to yourself, I would love to be able to run a marathon. It’s a thought I had before I began running, but it’s something over time that I haven’t been keen on and that’s what I wanted to break down in today’s post. 

Now, don’t get me wrong; choosing to run a marathon is absolutely incredible and it’s such a time and body commitment to do so. I am in awe of anyone who completes or even trains for such a distance and I know for me, the time does not matter in this situation. If it took you four hours or twenty-four hours, I would still be as impressed no matter what. Originally, my boyfriend got me into running and I’m so thankful that he did, because it’s amazing what it can do for you, physically and mentally. When I was being consistent, I was in the best shape of my life both with my body, and I can’t wait to get back there. He’s a runner and has been for quite a few years and he’s in the double digits of marathons now, which I think is absolutely incredible. I went to see him finish at his last marathon and I couldn’t have been prouder if I tried; he was disappointed in himself time wise but he just ran a marathon! I had seen the work he had put in beforehand and it was so lovely to see it all come together at the end. He absolutely loves running and he loves the build-up to a marathon and he has my upmost respect for that. 

IMG-20180908-WA0013-01.jpeg(Scott and I after the Larne 10K with our medals!)

Ever since I started running, and I’ve spoken about this before, I have a real mental struggle and from others I have spoken to, it seems like I’m not the only one. It seems very normal for runners to doubt themselves, to have a bad run, to want to stop when they’ve just started; so I know that this isn’t just me. I obviously take into consideration my mental health issues, and I’m always very careful of that because I know how I feel if I push myself too much. That’s where the real line is for me; I’m not sure I could push myself mentally for twentysix miles, no matter how hard I trained. I truly believe that if I trained for it, I could physically do it, but mentally is something I can never expect to get to. You can see that as giving up on myself before I even start, but I don’t see it as that at all. I’m taking care of myself first and foremost and while it would be such a huge achievement, I worry about what the cost would be. Would I suddenly hate running? Would I have pushed myself too far that I wouldn’t be able to take another step outside to go for a run? That’s not something I’m willing to risk and that’s okay, because I’ve made that decision for me. 

However, I have been thinking over the past six months, if a half marathon is within my reach. Thirteen miles seems a lot more achievable than twenty six, and since I have hit the nine mile marker twice back in 2018, I know I can run further than my usual 5K or 10K distance. I have it in me, and of course that came with a lot of training and build up which I would be willing to put the work into again. I spoke recently in my “I Lost My Running Confidence… But I’m Getting It Back” post that my timings have went down, I’m not running as much and I really have lost a lot of confidence when it comes to running, but again, I’m willing to work on that again. So while I won’t ever promise to compete in a half marathon, I know I could do it if I was to put the time and effort into it but equally, being okay with not putting pressure on myself if it was too much.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post, hopefully it sparked a thought or two around an alternative view point. Let me know your thoughts and if you have read or wrote similar posts to this, please let me know either in the comments, on my Instagram or on my Twitter. Have a great day! ☀️

What Happened To My Goals? Re-Focusing With June and July Goals.

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At the beginning of the year, I set myself a challenge of focusing on two goals every two months and because the year before, I had been working on three goals every three months, I thought this would work out more positively for me because I was focusing on less. However, because I went away in March and then it took me a while to get myself back up on the blog again, I never went back to reassessing those goals so that’s what I’ll be discussing today. 

I could talk about goals until all the cows come home; I’m a very goal-oriented person and I believe you need to have at least one goal to keep you motivated. I don’t think it necessarily matters what your goal is, everyone is different when it comes to their goals like I have spoken about before but it has to be something that you want to do, or else, what’s the point? Because I hadn’t got back on track with setting goals, I had to sit down and think about what I wanted to do, so I’m still sticking with the two goals for two months because I feel like that particular plan hasn’t had enough time to really work yet. 

Run twenty miles. 

If you read my “Running Confidence” post, you’ll know that my running for the last year isn’t at the level that I want to be, and while there has been quite a lot of factors in this, it’s something that I know I need to change, because if I don’t change it, no-one else will. That’s why I’m committing to running twenty miles altogether in June and July; now the seasoned runners, that might not seem like a lot, but to me, it’s the perfect starting point to get myself back on track, and staying on that track. Plus, we’re coming into nicer weather (hopefully) so that should help with the motivation. 

Start learning Polish again. 

At the beginning of the year, Scott and I started learning Polish on Duolingo; we were quite proud of the fact that we had done it every single day continuously for three months and until we went away, we didn’t miss a day. However, we didn’t pick it back up once we came back, and we still haven’t! We really enjoyed doing that because it was something we could do together and it was so simple that it didn’t feel like a chore. It’s so simple that we really have no excuse not to continue doing it so we’re going to start it back up again. 

It can be hard to set goals for yourself if you’re not sure what you want to do, I’ve been there so I know how it feels. I decided to focus on something that I enjoy; learning a new language and continuing to enjoy a sport that I had been used to getting my teeth stuck into. For you, it could be career goals, hobby goals, relationship goals or something completely new, but just make sure it’s something that you absolutely want to do or you might find yourself not sticking to it because it’s not calling to you. 

Thank you so much for reading today’s post; it was a short one this week but sometimes I need posts like this to re-focus my mind for a little while. If you have any feedback, please let me know in the usual places. 

My Experience of Anti-Depressants: One Year On (Part One)

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Next month (June) will mark one year since I started on my anti-depressants and because one of the focuses of my blog is mental health, I wanted to discuss briefly on how I got to that point and in my post that will follow this, I’ll talk about how I have been feeling during this period while on them. I just want to put it out there; this is in no way a sympathy post, I personally think it’s important to talk about different ways we cope with certain situations in our lives and this is one of the ways I have been able to cope, and if we can encourage others to talk to professionals about how they are feeling, then the world will be a better place. 

(Just as a disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, I’m in no position to give out medical advice; this post is simply talking about my experience going to the GP and making the decision that was best for me at this period in my life.) 

I’m not sure about you but anti-depressants in my opinion, have never had the greatest reputation and I don’t really know why. I’ve heard them described as “numbing” and “short-term gain” which is two things they can do perfectly but for me, they have been so much more than that. I was recently listening to Dr. Phil’s podcast “Phil In The Blanks” and he was talking to one of my favourite people Dax Shepard. They were discussing going to the doctors and Dr. Phil said that quite a lot of general practitioners are very quick to subscribe pills and let the patient go. I’ve heard this a few times from different people, both in real life and on line, saying that when they were going to the doctors, they would listen to them for two minutes and put them on anti-depressants. Knowing that this was the experience for a few people I had heard, I was already preparing myself not to be listened to and being given pills.  

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Looking back, I couldn’t have been happier with my experience. I went and spoke to my regular doctor. I went over what had been doing as briefly as I could within a doctor’s allotted time slot and what was interesting with this visit was that they asked could one of the student doctors ask me questions to get a background on me before going into the appointment, and I was fine with that. It was a nice experience because it was an additional ten minutes, I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise so she had asked me why I was there today and why I thought I had been feeling this way. She asked me about past experiences so I was very open with what had been happening with me over the last few years; I also talked about going to CBT and I said that it had been amazing but there was still something just not right. I had been able to change most of my thinking patterns but my body wasn’t responding to those patterns sometimes. Once that was finished, I spoke to my regular doctor after the student doctor had told him what we had discussed and I already felt at ease about the experience. I was no longer worried that they were going to throw pills at me and be on my way. One of the main points he had asked me about my tiredness and I was completely straight with him, I told him that I can’t remember the last time I WASN’T tired and that’s completely true. Give me five hours, eight hours or twelve hours of sleep, I will still be tired. He was concerned about that considering I was still in my mid-twenties so when he asked me about my diet, I told him I was vegan and that’s when he suggested going on iron tablets and in my head, I rolled my eyes. It’s that classic vegan line, “Oh maybe you’re not getting enough iron” but I went with it because as much as I rolled my eyes, I probably wasn’t getting enough iron to be absolutely fair to him. He was very clear though; we’ll try the iron tablets for a few weeks and see if everything else lifts; and if it doesn’t, then we’ll look at something else. 

I left that day knowing that iron tablets weren’t going to be the cure all. Simply because I have been tired since I was around fourteen; and at fourteen I was eating meat, getting enough sleep and being a typical teenager so using the reasoning of my vegan diet, I just knew it was something more. However, I’m a woman of my word so I took my iron tablets, went back a few weeks later to get a few blood tests, and booked another appointment to see a doctor for another few weeks down the line while I was there. 

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This time around, I didn’t have my regular doctor which was fine, because you have to wait a few weeks for an appointment so at this point, I just wanted to speak to someone! My notes from the previous session had been on the system (albeit very brief) and I talked about being there last time and how I had felt so I had been put on iron tablets but I didn’t feel any better, I actually felt worse. She had checked my results and my iron had shot up dramatically which I was shocked at because many people think that if your iron levels are normal, you aren’t as tired (I’m living proof that this is not the case). We determined that this was something else and I spoke about how I had been feeling, and ironically during this visit, I had been told I was being made redundant just a few days before so understandably, I was still very emotional and I’m sure that’s one of the main reasons I was feeling worse (though not the only reason). I know all about self-care and looking after yourself so I stressed that I socialised, I looked after my body with the food it needed and the exercise it craved. There’s this huge perception online that you can cure “sadness” (or whatever you choose to call it) with good food and exercise, and while that may be true for some, it’s not always the case for everyone else. I sat in tears because I was tired; I had spent the first part of the year feeling completely miserable (and the first three months crying almost every day at little things). I should have gone to the doctor earlier, I know that now but I thought the sadness was go away at some point. We talked about the options and I had mentioned that I was currently going through CBT and while it was working great with some areas of my life, my head wasn’t able to catch up. She asked me how I felt about anti-depressants, and I raised my concerns. I told her that I was worried about being on them forever because I didn’t want to dependant on a tablet forever and change my hormones; it’s actually a huge reason I have never been on birth control, because I wanted to be in control of my body. I was desperate, I sat there in tears and told her that I thought I was depressed and I had thought it for a while but I never wanted to admit it. I had only ever mentioned the emotion “depressed” very few times in that time period because I didn’t think I had the right to be depressed. I had been in pain for a while but because I thought it was “just go away”, I waited and waited and it only got worse. She confirmed that this was more than being “sad” and that it was much deeper; she said the anti-depressants would be my best option for now and down the road we would review it.  

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After hearing the horror stories of others saying that GP’s just want to hand out pills and be done with it; based on my experience this was not what happened with me. I felt listened to, I felt like both my GP’s had compassion and it wasn’t being dismissed. While I didn’t feel like the iron tablets would do anything at the first appointment, I know now they just wanted to check that was okay first before moving onto to something else. No GP has ever sat me down and told me I have depression so for that reason, I don’t feel like I can say I have depression but I describe them as depressive episodes. Do GP’s explicitly say “I’m diagnosing you with depression” I don’t know so that’s why I don’t like saying I have depression because it’s never been confirmed to me, but I know it’s more than a sad phase. 

As I mentioned at the beginning, there will be Part Two to this post (because I didn’t think that this would end up this long) and I’ll be discussing how I have felt over the last year being on anti-depressants and why my perceptions have changed completely on them.  

Thank you so much for reading today’s post; I know it’s quite a personal post but I thought it was important to talk openly (or as openly as I felt comfortable with) about what has been going on with my mental health. It can only take one conversation to help and while I’m not the most open person on the planet, I still think it’s important to talk to someone you trust AND a professional. Have a great day! ☀️

“Make Time” by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky: Book Review.

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Today’s post is something I am very excited about; now I wouldn’t say it’s a book review because it’s not as in-depth going into every single section but it’s picking out those little gems that I found fascinating or that spoke to me, and that’s what we should all look for when it comes to book reviews right? 

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I picked this book up in New York when we went to visit the Strand Bookstore; I had never heard of the book before but I’m very interested in self-development and originally, I thought it was based around productivity and because that is something I tend to struggle with, I picked it up pretty quickly. Once I got into the book, I realised that it wasn’t about productivity at all, but it was more about changing your habits in order to find yourself more time. What I personally love about the layout of the book is that; the chapters aren’t very long and because there are so many techniques, you can jump throughout the book so you don’t necessarily need to read it back-to-back. To give you a very quick over-view, it was written by Jake Knapp and John Zeratsky and you can really see their personalities shine through throughout this book with their little jokes and puns and even the little illustrations too. 

Before getting into the techniques that I took value from, I wanted to go through the four steps that are absolutely key to making sure this process works a treat; Highlight, Laser, Energise and Reflect. 

four-steps.png(Illustration Credit: Make Time)

Highlight

What do you want to make time for? That’s the million-pound question right? We have so many different things going on day-to-day but the focus of this is to choose one single thing that you want to make the time for. This really can be for absolutely anything; work-related, a creative project, self-development or maybe something that has been on your to-do list for a while. Now of course, this isn’t the only thing you are going to do in your day but it’s something that you know that will need set time aside for. This section also allows you to help you make time for your highlight; whether that is writing it down on paper or digitally, doing your highlight in the morning or evening, or helping you design your own days around your own hours. 

Laser

Aah distractions, we’ve all been there right? This next step is to help with those distractions that we can’t seem to drag ourselves away from and yes, lowering our social media usage is included (but this will help you choose which techniques will make the process easier for you). 

Energise

We’ve all heard that recharging is amazing for the soul and when we’re working on any project (whether that be work-related, creative or simply doing a list of chores around the house) we all need to take time out rather than work twelve hours straight. This section is full of wonderful tips that many of us need to do more often to refresh the brain. 

Reflect

Reflection is so important when taking on any changes because if something doesn’t work for you and you’re not looking at that on a regular basis; the changes you have been making will continue to not work. John and Jake recommend doing this every evening before bed, so you can recall what you did during the day with it still very fresh in your memory. 

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Now, onto the techniques! These are just a few of my favourites that I took the most value from, as the book is packed full, so if you want to find out more, you should have a read of it for yourself. I’ve divided these into the four sections to make for an easier read. 

20190519_090955-01.jpeg(This is what we see A LOT within the twenty first century and I used to be a victim of it too – Constantly being busy and being so proud of the fact that you were so busy you didn’t have time for anything else. Look familiar?)

Highlight Tactics 

The “Might Do” List.
While this might sound overwhelming when I explain it; once I had done it for the first time, I realised that it’s definitely not as bad as it sounds. As someone who went way too far with her own lists only a year ago, I’m still careful with how I structure lists. This technique asks you to list all the tasks you need to do and then prioritise what tasks you absolutely need to do and what tasks you can put to the side; it’s as simple as that. It might take some time writing everything down but it will help you realise what needs done rather than becoming really overwhelmed. 

Tactic Battle: Morning vs. Night.
There’s often talk within the personal development world that in order to be your best self, getting up early in the morning is a must but what if you don’t feel like you work your best at that time. In this tactic battle, Jake and John discuss what works for them; Jon works better in the morning and Jake works better in the evening. I’m personally teaching my body to become a morning person and I am getting there but I thought this would be a great section to read if night-time is more your jam. 

20190519_090753-02.jpeg(An example of one of the many digital techniques in the book that Jake and John talk about including letting go of distractions from your phone. Also, how cute are the little heads and the speech bubbles?)

Laser Tactics 

Skip the Morning Check In.
I’m going to prefaces this by saying that this is something I wouldn’t be able to do during the work week, but during the weekend and when I have no plans, absolutely! Skipping the morning check in really is what it says on the tin; it’s where you wake up with an alarm and don’t check you phone until you have had breakfast and are ready to go for the day. Over the Easter break, I remember reading this part of the book before going to bed, I set my alarm and I went to bed. I woke up the next morning and the first thing I did was look at my phone (Ironic right?) and it was dead. The cable must have fell out overnight so I had no battery left, so surely this was the perfect opportunity to charge it in my room while I got ready. Now, I had zero idea of what time it was, so I went down and had my breakfast, got showered, dried and straightened my hair and got changed. When I eventually turned my phone on, it was 6:30am… the exact time I had set my alarm for. If that wasn’t fate, I don’t know what is frankly. Yes, it was still early but I had plans that day so I was able to read and chill for the early part of the morning. 

I don’t necessarily think this is a bad idea, I certainly seen the benefits after one morning but you still at least one alarm. I would suggest an actual alarm clock so you know what time it is but I do like the concept of not logging right into your phone as soon as your brain time to wake up naturally. 

Make a “Random Question” List.
Ever thought about who was in that movie that you love and you just HAD to Google it even though you’re right in the middle of something? We will do anything to create a distraction sometime but often, we can’t help what pops into our head which is why I loved this idea. You can write any random thoughts or questions down and once you are finished your task, then you can decide whether you want to find out the answer or explore it further. 

20190519_104324-01.jpeg(I explain this one just down below!)

Energise Tactics 

Central Park Your Plate.
This concept interested me because we’ve all heard of the perfect portion plate and it’s what most of us universally used when we were younger. This point of this plate is to imagine your vegetables are Central Park, bang right in the middle of the city, then what you put around that is your proteins, your fats and your carbs. It’s not only to make sure you get lots of vegetables but to re-structure your meals so there are more vegetables, if you’re the type of person that only puts a few on the side then says “Oh there’s not enough room for any more.” Now you don’t have that excuse. 

Sneak a Nap.
I’m not just choosing this because I love a good nap (because I REALLY do!) but throughout the book, Jake and John tell us about various studies they have read surrounding different studies and they mentioned that a 1994 study conducted by NASA focused on long-haul commercial pilots. The researchers found that pilots who took a nap improved their performance by 34% which was particularly influential because we all want our pilots to perform well. John does make a small note saying that he understands if you work in an office environment, it can either be awkward to go for a nap or you might not have an area for that, but even a quick nap on the weekend can help you benefit. Naps can get a bad rap sometimes and I thought this was a great section of the book to bring to the fore front as they can be beneficial. 

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This was one of the easiest books on how to design your life because it has over 80 techniques to help you figure out what you like, what you don’t and what works perfectly for you. I would say if you’re looking for a quick fix, realistically I don’t believe that any book like this is going to help you find it instantly; it’s important to note that when you’re trying to change your habits and make time for what you want to do, it’s all about the process. That’s why this book also includes reflect on the changes you make; is your highlight really important to you? Are you energising correctly? Are you letting your phone be the boss of you rather than the other way around? It helps you constantly look at what you are doing and if it is working for you. 

This is a book I will continue to go back to a lot, simply because our lives are ever-changing and our highlight will always be changing too. My advice would be (if you can) get this in the hardback version rather than the audio book because it’s really easy to flick to the page you need in just a few seconds. All the techniques are laid out in the contents pages at the beginning so it’s really simple to jump from page-to-page like I talked about earlier.  

I really hope you enjoyed today’s post because it’s something I have been working on for a while; I prefer to go through a book and pick out the sections that speak to me because it adds that personal element to it, which is why you won’t see every technique listed out (I love the majority of the techniques but if you want to find out about the entire list, that’s when you buy the book!) These are tactics that I have found work for me or ones that I found interesting, and I decided that they deserve to be shared. You can find the book right here! (Please note: This is not an affiliate link, I simply wanted to be the helpful soul that I am, so you could find the book even faster) If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below or contact me on my Instagram or my Twitter