Permission Slip

Following on from my last post about chasing your dreams I wanted to go a little deeper on achieving goals, I need to go deeper myself. I’m also going to give you a permission slip, just in case you need one too.

My number one distraction is my phone and the world within it.

Sound familiar?

Emails, social media, text messaging, and work stuff. Things that make us busy, things that make us feel important perhaps. Needed. Or that we might miss out if we don’t keep up.

When you have taken your tiny baby steps (as I discussed here) there comes a moment where your investment in your dream, or goal, needs to get bigger. It needs to get bigger to tip it over into the realm of being something that you are going to achieve.

This doesn’t have to be a permanent state. Sometimes, we need a chunk of time to go deeper, without distractions. I want you to know that it’s okay to do just that, in whatever way works for you.

Of course, it’s not just our phones. There is a whole manner of ways we can distract ourselves from really putting the work in. We feel busy, so we must be being productive, right?

Ask yourself this when completing tasks;

  • Is it urgent? Or is it important?

Many things feel urgent, the Whatsapp chat that is moving at a million miles an hour. The endless Twitter feed. That boxed set on Netflix everyone’s talking about. But are these things really important? In the grand scheme of things are they a task that will contribute and help you achieve your dreams?

So, I am offering you a metaphorical Permission Slip to take a step back if you need to.  To avoid distractions and to go REALLY DEEP on that thing you really want.

This is why I’m removing social media from my phone for a while. I’ve had my book back from a brilliant editor and I need to get to work. I need to go deep and to not have the distraction of busy.

I might still be creating blog posts and definitely will be composing my monthly newsletter. I’ve mentioned before, I use the blog as a release or an outlet when the book side of my brain needs a rest. And the newsletter allows me to keep in touch with those who really want to hear from me and have a more personal conversation.

Do you need a Permission Slip right now? Or just to know that things/people/twitter/netflix, will still be there when you come back?

Go and work on your dreams.

See you soon!

Further Reading: I Trained Myself to Be Less Busy — and it Dramatically Improved My Life.

permission sleep to delete social media and get on with deep creative work

How To Chase Your Dreams

That long-held dream of yours.

That cause that brings out the fighter in you.

The big creative project that you’ll do once you get time or retire or the kids start school.

Whatever it is I’m here to say, start it now.

Dedicate some time to it now. Start chasing your dreams now.

Start it before you feel ready. Before it’s too late. Because you have the time now, even though it may not feel like it. You have the time for the baby steps. The small, tiny steps that only you might know about.

The micro-steps that might take 15 minutes of your day.

Get up a bit earlier. Go to bed a little later. Take a tiny step whilst waiting for the kettle to boil or while on your commute. Consider what the small steps can be. Break down what you want to achieve and work backwards.

Could it be listening to a particular podcast? For you, it might mean joining your local library and ordering some books on a topic? Could it be seeking out people doing similar things to what you want to, and figuring out how they did it?

It could be that you want to start creating something. Use the small moments in time to just start. Do something towards that dream. Maybe you could use the notes function in your phone to jot down some ideas for a book whilst waiting in line for the post office?

If your big dream is to have a capsule wardrobe, for example, just start with one drawer. Don’t try and do the whole thing all at once.

Perhaps you want to do more for the environment. Make small lifestyle changes, one at a time. This way you don’t get overwhelmed with the task. It becomes more manageable, sustainable and more attainable.

Start today and this time next year, I promise you’ll be in a completely different place.

Go for it!

Worth watching on this topic: Brene Brown’s The Call to Courage on Netflix.

how to chase your dreams

Sustainable Changes for the Environment

This post features gifted items (pillows).

We are way past the point of arguing if Global Warming is a fact.

We are way past being able to ignore the plastic bottles whose number is swelling in our seas.

We have to question everything. And I know it is hard. I know that changes are easier to make if you are in a privileged position. I also know that doing something is better than doing nothing.

So today I just wanted to share with you a handful of things I’ve changed over the last six months or so. It might give you some inspiration to make some changes in your life.

I’ve always been a big re-user. Repurposing things too. One of the reasons I love vintage and second-hand is that I’m not asking big corporations to make more of something by buying new all the time.

tips on how to be more eco friendly

Onto what I’ve changed. I’ll also add that I wanted these changes to be sustainable for me, and us as a family too, as well as the environment. Which is why I’ve taken a while over this post.

This isn’t a frivolous trend, this is a lifestyle change and we all need to start somewhere.

Onwards!

 Safety razor– yep, an old fashioned butterfly opening one. With actual razor blades. I promise you they aren’t as scary as you expect. I get a much better/closer shave with mine and regrowth isn’t as itchy. I spent about £15 and that included two packs of blades. Obviously, be sensible, keep it out of reach of kids etc. You’ll need to take it slowly for a while but it soon becomes normal. No more throwaway plastic razors!

Reusable sanitary towels. Wait, what?? Not awful. Not messy. Not what you think or expect. I was sick of buying sanitary protection every month. All that plastic wrapping, even on the eco ones! I’d been down the Mooncup route, which I really wanted to work but whether it’s my tilted womb or my endometriosis, I just couldn’t get it to work for me. So I found some reusable sanitary towels and haven’t looked back. These ones.

Milk deliveries. Self-explanatory. As much as I’d like all the family to switch to plant milk, we aren’t there yet. At least we’ve cut down massively on our plastic, I love the glass bottles too!

Sourcing new pillows. The mister and I had had our last pillows for a few years. Well past the two year “past it” deadline. But imagine this, the population getting new pillows every two years. Again, I’m going to mention privilege here, because not everyone in the world uses or can afford pillows, never mind change them every couple of years. But even with the ones that do and can, that number is a huge amount of used pillows just tossed away? I’ve not even started on what many pillows are filled with, hollow fibre, a type of polyester, which takes ages to rot down (think of the landfill). Anyway, I don’t have all the answers here, just what I’ve experienced. One place you can take your old pillows to be reused is your local animal shelter. Make sure you call them first! More info here.

I was gifted the Luxury Cotton Pillows from Soak and Sleep, with 80% cotton and 20% microfibre, it makes me feel a little better. They should also last longer than 100% polyester fibre ones.

Lush products. I’ve been a fan of Lush since the nineties when they did it all by Mail Order and there were hardly any shops. It’s changed loads but I really admire their packaging ethos.

  • Jason And The Argan Oil Shampoo Bar- lasts AGES
  • Boom! Toothy Tabs- not 100% sure on these. I was wanting to use less plastic but they come in a plastic container. Would be better in a cute refillable tin. Also great for pretending you’re in a zombie film and have black goo oozing out of your mouth.
  • The Greeench Deodorant Powder. I like this but has found it isn’t quite enough at certain times of the month. I’m going to persevere. Again lasts for ages.
  • No Drought Dry Shampoo. I’ve had this bottle for around 18 months and I’ve not even used a quarter of it yet. I’m convinced it’s going to last me forever.

(edited to add one more)

Wax wraps. I totally forgot about these as they’ve become so second nature now. So much better than cling film!

What changes to your habits have you been able to make regarding being more eco-conscious?

how to be more eco and sustainable

Going Rogue Podcast & Altrincham Word Festival

Hello! How are you?

I’ve had a bit of an extended break from the blog, the kids have been off school and Easter in the sunshine means I’ve sort of forgotten what I do…

So, I’m easing myself in with a very short and sweet (hopefully) blog post. I’ve two things to tell you about, the clues are in the blog post title.

Going Rogue Podcast Interview

I’ve finally popped my podcast cherry with the lovely Katya. I really enjoyed this interview and our cat, Bill, makes an appearance too. Katya is interviewing people who perhaps go against the grain, or what is expected of them; rebels really. My enthusiasm when talking about writing my book even riled me up again listening to it.

Altrincham Word Festival session

I’m really excited to tell you I’m doing an “in conversation” event for Altrincham Word Festival. The chat is on Sunday 12th May and is titled, Blogging & Beyond. It will be an informal and relaxed session, but we have structured it a bit because otherwise, I might go off on tangents. Keeping me on the straight and narrow will be the lovely Victoria Sorazano.

Part One will be about my nine years experience of the blog world, along with things like social media, photography, privacy, staying authentic, and more.

Part Two is a discussion around where blogging can lead, and specifically my journey into writing a novel. I might even do a reading.

I’d love to see some friendly faces there!

Link to get tickets

blogging and beyond and altrincham word festival susan earlam podcast interviewPhoto by Alexander Ward

Productivity Tools for Creative Work

Today I wanted to share something I think is useful for any type of creative work. Be it writing, painting, photography etc. Whatever it is that you need to be absorbed in, to create the best version of your idea. I’m talking deep work, the type of creative work where you can get lost in it.

To achieve this type of focus you need concentration on your technique and ideas.

You definitely don’t need distractions, but distractions are so enticing, aren’t they? Quickly just checking Twitter, or reading the latest headlines, or perhaps for you its that long list of household chores that are competing for your attention.

The thing is you can get all the things done that you need to, with a bit of focus.

My productivity methods and tools are as follows;

  1. Don’t try and multitask. Focus, focus, focus. on one thing at a time and do it well.
  2. If you’re overwhelmed make a list, and then another list of the items on the first list, but this time in priority order. Check out this old post for more on lists and time management.
  3. Put your phone in another room if you need to!
  4. Block out noise from neighbours, the tv, the kids or whatever you find distracting. I use A Soft Murmur a lot (heavy rain/thunderstorms is my Go To) but if you prefer background noise that is more human, then Coffitivity feels like you are in a coffee shop.
  5. If you are struggling, then a reward system might work for you. Combine this with the Pomodoro technique and you could get a lot done, but not feel tied down in a restrictive way. I use this app- Bear Focus Timer.
  6. Batch work can really help with any type of work. I find this works best for me with Instagram, I admit I have skipped this a bit recently, I need to get back in the habit. For example, taking photos and editing them so they are ready to be posted. I plan out my grid using the free version of Planoly.
  7. As a creative type, you might have a newsletter that you send out or you might just keep a track of useful articles to reference later or share with your followers. I use Pocket for this. You can save things here for later, as and when you find them. Which hopefully means you won’t get distracted by them, because you know you can read it later at your leisure.
  8. These last two are writing tools but both help with my productivity. Quickly being able to check something sounds right or finding a better way of saying it. Grammerly for things like emails and blog posts. Hemingway Editor for better communication of my intended message.

I hope these tools and ideas are helpful to you.

Please share what you use to help you get work done. I’m always on the lookout for things to help me. Thanks!

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tools for better productivity and creativity