Archive of ‘News’ category

Why multi-tasking is a waste of time

Today is a slow day. The weather is cold and miserable, still occasionally kicking the January blues, the internet is being slow, even my trusty MacBook is having an off day. Which can make ticking off that long to-do list a rather arduous task. Do you ever have days like that?

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One of my biggest issues in life, and as a business owner, is that I spend much of my day trying to multi-task. I always thought that really successful people, and people that generally have their ‘shit’ together were pretty good at multi-tasking.  I could often be heard saying ‘Oh yeah, I’m the queen of multi-tasking’.  And as a women, I’m supposed to have it off to a fine art, right? But do you know what I’ve learnt recently? That multi-tasking is by far one of the worst things you can do for your business, your brain, and your general health! In fact, research has shown that multi-tasking (or context switching as it’s also known) is bad for your head, and your overall mental well-being.

What is multi-tasking or context switching? 

Quite simply, it means trying to do multiple things at once. But what it actually means (hence the context switching term) is spending an amount of time on one thing, not finishing it, and then switching to something else. Have you ever noticed how, when you multi-task your head simply hurts? Most of my days go a bit like this – Check emails, check Facebook, lose time looking at Facebook, write my to-do list for the day, begin a task, remember that I need to also be working on another task and another, emails flood in again so best check these, phone rings, lose concentration altogether, get distracted by interesting email, head back to intial task on to-do list… and so it goes on. Back home it’s not much better – I start one thing, get half way and then move onto another.

If your working day/evening/general life looks somewhat like that then no wonder you’re not achieving what you need to do, you feel stressed out AND your head hurts.

So, STOP. Right now. Stop multi-tasking, trying to be super woman/man, and focus on things on a smaller more level. Here are a few tips I’ve be *trying* to master.


Write your list the night before 

I’ve started writing my ‘get shit done’ list the night before. This means that when I get up I already have my agenda set out. It also means that when I go to bed I don’t have a million things in my head that keep me from sleeping. Trying to stick to it can be hard but the rest of these tips should help …


Chunks of time 

Time is your most valuable resource, so use it wisely.  One of the best ways to avoid context switching is to add an amount of time to each task and set a reminder on your phone or calendar for when it needs to begin and end.  If you give yourself a deadline you’re more likely to get things done when you’re under pressure, so start setting yourself micro deadlines.


Switch off email and your phone

No, not forever (although can you imagine the blissful state your mind would be in?). When you’re focusing on a specific task, stop your emails from notifying you and try to resist the temptation to check them.  The same goes for your phone.  Try to avoid anything that will distract you from the task at hand.


Make your actions bitesize 

If you write on your list ‘finish website copy’ or ‘plan event’ you’ll never have the accomplishment of ticking it off your list for today.  Break it down into manageable chunks. Planning an event might involve booking suppliers, visiting venues or buying decorations. These are your actions.


Use task management tools 

Some of my favourite tools are Basecamp and Google apps, they help me to manage my time more effectively and I can keep documents in one place and schedule my content. But I’m also a bit old school and I have a ‘proper’ diary and notebook that I carry around with me to keep me on track.  Use tools to help you.  Even if it’s just diarising your to-do list in your calendar with alarms and alerts.

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And don’t forget to take a break every now and then.  Move from the computer, stretch your legs, or just relax and enjoy a cup of tea!

Do you have any clever tricks that help keep you organised?

Savour the moment… The weekend series | Part one

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Welcome to the first edition of my weekend series, #Savourthemoment. I don’t know about you, but I’m a big fan of a bit of peace and quiet on the weekends, especially in the morning. A chance to make a big pot of tea, a few slices of toast, and to catch up on some inspired reading. A pop to the local shops to pick up some magazines (usually Grazia and home decor magazines) and maybe a few pastries is often in order – although that tends to be a job for the husband. I grab my iPad too, pick a comfy spot, and read through all the links I’ve bookmarked that week. I can’t completely switch to digital subscriptions (with the exception of Stylist magazine) as I still love that feeling of actually flicking through a magazine – and don’t get me started on reading a book on a Kindle!

Here’s a few of the links that have been saved on my bookmarks this week – all for a little light reading this weekend.


The super talented blogger, Monica Welburn writes about ‘Smart Minutes‘ and how to  utilise those spare minutes in the day. Since the start of the New Year I’ve been trying to fill my spare minutes with less Netflix and procrastination and more ‘Smart’ time.


And, on that note of smart minutes, if I find myself with a spare 15 minutes in the day I have been focusing on a little Instagram inspiration. This free, five-day course by the fabulous Emily Quinton has helped me to make more from my Instagram and really think about how I utilise it.


I love a good spring clean, and as we head into lighter days, and dare I say it, warmer climates, it’s time to focus on a seasonal de-clutter. The Marie Kondo book of tidying has just landed on my door mat and I can’t wait to get started and share my findings with you (blog post to follow in the next few weeks). But in the meantime, check out this blog post from One Kings Road.


Failure to plan is planning to fail, and as I fail, epically, on my mission to eat better, I know I need to start planning ahead. Which is why these fab lunches from The Career Girl Daily will be on my list for next week.


I’d love to know what articles and blogs you’ve enjoyed and what you think of the ones I’ve shared? Feel free to comment at the bottom of the blog post or on my Facebook or Instagram.

Happy weekend, everyone

 Ciara sign off

A little luxe this January 

I don’t know about you, but I’ve found January a bit tough this year. It’s certainly been hard to get back into routine, daylight is in short supply and the cold snap seems to have finally caught up with us. It’s been a hard push not to get straight into my PJ’s at the end of a long day – I may have caved once or twice.

But it’s not all doom and gloom this winter. And, as we hit the halfway mark of the first month of 2016, I think it’s time we gave up the saintly act and gave in to a few things that will make the new year transition a little easier – perhaps January should be more of a damp than dry? So I think it’s only right that we add a little luxe to our daily life to help us through the winter

Here’s a few of the indulgences I’ve allowed myself this month so far:

Sunday splurge 

With the weather lashing down last weekend, it seemed that the only thing for it was to head for the shops. I love wandering round my hometown, swooning over stationery and homeware in The Hambledon, trying on fifty shades of grey (my wardrobe tends to be a variation on black, grey or white) in Mint Velvet and treating myself to new scents in The White Company. All of which certainly made me feel a whole lot better about life.

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Savouring my cuppa

Each morning, instead of rushing out the door or switching my laptop on the second I wake up, and before the husband and the cats are wide awake, I’ve been taking time over my morning cuppa to catch up on the news, my latest blog reading and to think about the day ahead. It’s been nice to take the morning a little slower before I have to leave the house.

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One line a day 

Each night before I switch off and power down, I’ve been reflecting on the day and updating my ‘One line a day‘ diary. It helps me to reduce my waffling tendencies (not always helpful in the world of copywriting), to mark the day with an overview, a funny thought or something that really stood out. The diary is a five-year diary, so I can’t wait to look back over the years and see how one January differs from the other!

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Sanctuary 

My home is my haven, and since working at a clients office (a large DIY retailer) I’ve not had any time in my home office. And, as it could be a little while before I resume home-working, I’ve made sure that my bedroom is my current sanctuary. New pillows, new bed sheets, my trusty lavender pillow spray from The Longbarn, and plenty of candles, means that I retreat to bed early to catch up on blog reading, research for work and as many zzz’s as my brain will allow.

What little luxuries are you indulging in the January?

#savourthemoment

Love,
Ciara sign off

New Year’s revelations

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with New Year. The whole ‘new year, new me’ often leaves me a bit cold, and the pressure it puts upon us only adds to the stress of trying to achieve the near-on impossible.

We’ve been living the past couple of weeks in a state of confusion – wondering what day it is, whether it’s OK to eat chocolate for breakfast (it its), whether alcohol at every main meal is socially acceptable (brunch is the perfect answer to this), and finding it harder to get up in the mornings and get motivated (alarm, what alarm?).

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When it all comes to a dramatic halt, it can be pretty tough to face routine, get back to work, and begin the whole ‘new year, new me’ thing. I don’t think resolutions serve much of a purpose – the gym is packed, there’s leftover yule log in the cake tin, and quite frankly, it’s all a bit too much to deal with. Which is why I prefer to kick-start my new year with a few revelations, taking stock of the old year and how I might do things a little different in the year ahead. January is a tough enough month as it is without setting yourself goals you’ll only break and feel that you’ve not achieved much.

Nope, instead I like to make New Year’s revelations, …  Here’s my four revelations for 2016, little things that I’m hoping will make this year more productive and content than the last:

A time to… challenge 

I can be terrible for living in my comfort zone so I’ve set myself a few challenges this year. Most of which I’d already planned before Christmas. From the Rough Mudder I’m booked in to do in April (don’t ask me why), to a few new creative skills I’m hoping to learn – this year I want to push myself a little in ways I’ve been scared to before.

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A time to… take more action 

I live my life through lists, I have lists for everything. But I’m far too good at procrastinating.  One of life’s all or nothing kind of people. One thing I’ve had on my ‘to-do’ list this year is to give myself a finance health check. So, this week I’ll be looking over my accounts, filing my tax return, getting my finances in order and taking more immediate action over those long to-do lists.

A time to… feed my mind as well as my body 

This one works in reverse order too. I often find I focus on keeping my body healthy and neglect my mind, or vice versus. But they’re pretty synched up. Which means, as I fail one the other fails too. Feeding my body doesn’t mean indulging in the leftover Christmas treats, it means keeping myself healthy by caring more about what I put into it, and enjoying a (one, singular) glass of wine and savouring the moment every now and then – rather than only feeling relaxed when it’s wine o’clock. The same for my mind. It can be easy to spend hours on social media or sat in front of Netflix, zoning out from the day-to-day. It’s time to put my energy into things that serve a lot more purpose!

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A time to… take more time for me 

Time goes by so quickly that it can seem a constant cycle of work, meetings, chores and appointments, squeezing in hurried catch up with friends and speed-dates with the husband. Last year, and I blame planning my wedding for that, I didn’t take much time to focus on the things that I really WANT to do. Time for my blog, time with my husband, savouring moments with friends, time to sit and read that big stack of magazines I eye up most evenings. I hope to take more time for the little things. To savour the moment and be just a tad more mindful that life is for living and not for checking off the things we’ve completed on our list.

Have you set yourself some challenges, new focuses or plans for the year ahead? I’d love to know!

Wishing you all a very happy New Year.

#savourthemoment

Love

Ciara sign off

And the countdown begins …

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Prior to being asked ‘The Question’ I’d never given a wedding day much thought. If truth be known I didn’t actually see myself doing the whole ‘white dress and walk down the aisle thing’.  And, as someone who has suffered from (sometimes crippling) anxiety for years, a day when all eyes are on me makes me feel more than a bit nervous.

Entering into marriage I feel somewhat prepared for, but a fancy wedding day, not so much. No tea towels on my head as a child pretending it was a veil, no scrap book of pretty dresses and ideas of my ‘dream’ wedding.  So, after saying a big fat ‘Yes’ back in early September of last year, to a guy with whom I went on a date eight years ago, knocked back, and then agreed to a second (first) date six years later, we have since found ourselves booking an actual date to get married and faced with more decisions to make regarding our wedding day than I ever thought possible.

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Fortunately for me, I’m one of the last of my friends to get married, which means that when I have questions they all have answers; and extremely practical and helpful answers at that. Lets put it this way, if it weren’t for a friend of mine I’d have had no idea that I had to order a wedding dress at least six months in advance (the look of horror on the wedding dress shop owner when I turned up thinking it was ‘that’ easy), or that I needed my actual wedding shoes prior to my dress fittings, or that wedding invites would have be a huge headache, and that once ‘said’ invites are delivered the endless upsets and disappointments it can cause would be an even bigger headache – I should add, that if you’re not yet married then please don’t let this put you off!

Needless to say, I’ve been pretty blasé and naive where this whole wedding day malarky is concerned. Probably made worse by the fact that I’m marrying THE most disorganised man on the planet – I defy anyone to show me someone who is more lacking in the organisation department. Which means I have to work twice as hard at making sure that things get done, that he turns up to the right church (although it’s rather fortunate that the church is quite literally in our front garden) and on the right day … tardiness is not something that sits well with me. So, with our nuptials only mere weeks away it’s safe to say that the countdown has well and truly begun and it’s time to get down to some much needed organisation.

Up until now if you’d asked me if I was stressed you’d have probably heard me say ‘Don’t be silly’. I was never planning on having a big wedding with lots of people and things to organise, and fuss … as most of my friends know, I was hoping (and tried) to elope. But it’s not just my day, it also belongs to my fiancé.  And now that the invites have gone out and we’ve had lots of lovely chats with our vicar,  it’s all starting to feel a little real (to say the least). I don’t think either of us can look at our guest list without opening the fridge to pour a glass of wine and difficult wedding decisions are often met with a glaring ‘I’m-not-in-the-mood-to-discuss-this-now’ glance.

As we’re both self-employed (Ross runs his own locally sourced fruit and veg business, and I spend my days writing) a lot of our spare time turns to work, so wedding chat is often at the bottom of our list. But with 10 weeks to go, it’s time to finalise those smaller details –  first dance (are we even having one, I don’t think we’ve even discussed that?), what wine we’ll be drinking (pretty important), and where we plan to head off to on our little honeymoon after the wedding before our bigger honeymoon next year.

But, despite all of the above we’re trying to make sure that we spend this time in the run up to our big day, remembering what exactly it is that we’re embarking on. It’s pretty easy to get lost in a haze of ‘wedding’ and forget the very important part about a marriage. Something I promised myself I would NEVER do. Our lovely vicar requested one thing from us in the week prior to our wedding day … ‘To book in at least two hours a few days before, where we spend time with just each other and do something that doesn’t involve ANYTHING wedding related’. I’d say that’s pretty sound advice if you ask me.

Although, before I become a wife there is the small matter of celebrating with all my favourite ladies.  And, I can’t wait to spend this Saturday evening with them. Hen Party fun, and frolics awaits …

Love

Ciara sign off

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