12/01/2020

The Productivity Tips That *Actually* Work


Trust me on this: I am a pro at productivity. (Pun totally intended.)

Little disclaimer to start with: productivity really isn't everything. Life isn't defined by how many tasks you tick off your to-do list. And it's ok not to be busy all the time. But most days, truth is we just gotta get stuff done. Not only for work, but also when you have a blog, you do photography, art, anything that calls for consistency and discipline. On a home weekend day, I juggle between blogging, writing, exercising, preparing work for school and making sure I have a social life. I am a human to-do-list ticker. And I like that! I get through a lot in a day, and this is why I wanted to share my tips for those of you who need a little boost of organisation to get things done. Let's get started!

WRITE YOUR TO-DO LIST THE DAY BEFORE
Every evening, I have this little ritual of writing down my to-do list for the next day, as well as planning my workout if I do one that day too. I find that writing the list in the mornings isn't as effective: if you wake up sleepy or unmotivated, your to-do list will reflect that. Maybe you'll cheekily decide to skip a couple things because there and then, as you write it, you already can't be bothered. Write your list the night before, make a little ritual of it: put some calming music, maybe stretch or relax a few minutes, think about happy things (do you practise gratitude?) and then, write the list of things you want to accomplish the next day. You'll be in a positive, can-do mood and thus the next day you will have your list ready to guide you through your tasks.

WRITE YOUR LIST IN CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER + PRIORITISE
At some point, a couple years ago, I used to have a timetable rather than a to-do list - I'd write hour by hour what I had to do. This still works for some people, but I am a lot more flexible now. However, I still write my lists in chronological order, with the first tasks of the day, and slowly progressing on. I leave aside the minor tasks like 'changing my nail polish' or 'responding to X' (I have a two-column system, on the left the important tasks and on the right the more mundane ones.) Chronological order should reflect what works for you: in the morning, do you prefer answering your emails or doing your workout? After lunch, would you rather clear out your wardrobe or write a blog post? Think about what suits you best, and write the tasks in order. It really helps to know where you have to start - and leave those smallest tasks for when you have time to kill.


GIVE YOURSELF A TIME FRAME
Now, this is a bit different from calculating an exact timetable for each of your tasks. It is more about allowing yourself some time, but knowing when to stop. This is mostly for longer tasks, like doing some work from home or doing some blogging. Don't let it drag on too long, otherwise you'll feel the strain, and what could have started as an enjoyable task can become a burder and drag your mood down for the rest of the day.
I often write bits of my novel, and I try to sit at my desk and open the page even on days when I don't feel that inspired - if it's on my to-do list for the day, I give it a go. And on days when I am inspired, I still don't write more than an hour and a half in a row - right about that time, I generally stop, close the page, and congratulate myself on having made that progress - no matter how big of small. If you don't give yourself boundaries (especially when it is work-related!) you lose the feeling of 'yes, I'm gonna do this' and use up some precious time that could be spent by having a little break, or just doing another of the tasks on your list. When it is the right moment, you need to stop and take a breather. Do one of those little tasks that will switch up your mind from that draining things you've been working on for a while. And you'll pick it up again the next day!

HAVE SHORT BREAKS, OFTEN + REWARD YOURSELF
If you make yourself work non-stop from 9 to 6 (on a good day), sure you'll accomplish loads, but you won't really appreciate all the work you've done. My aim is that even with work, you ought to enjoy what you are doing. Of course, if you could tick off the task by snapping your fingers, you should do it (I know I would!) but since it has to be done, it may as well be enjoyable, right? And for that, taking breaks is key. Reward yourself on the spot: you accomplish something, you tick it off, you get a rest. This might be a cheeky flick through your Instagram, reading a few pages of a book with a cup of coffee in hand, or watching an episode of a series you like. You decide how long you need your break to be, depending on how long you need to recharge. Often, I do it by looking at the clock: if I finish something at 3.35pm for example, and I want a break, I'll give myself until 4pm to read a chapter of my current book, for example. If I have finished a task a little early, say ten minutes before I'd planned to start my workout, I'll use these ten minutes to look at Instagram, or answer a couple messages on Whatsapp. I could start my workout early, or I could take that time to breathe and give myself the time to do something that isn't a chore or a goal. Time to just be. These little rewards are self-care in their own way, and will make you want to get on to the next time with more enthusiasm.

What is your trick have a productive day?
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30/12/2019

The Life Lessons I Learned in 2019


And that's a wrap!

The year 2019 came and went, and now is time to reflect on everything i have learned this year. All these things I have learned through experiences, self-reflection, difficult times but also times where everything fell back into place for a while. There has been a lot of great things that have happened to me this year personally, with a few drawbacks - because there is no such thing as a perfect life. Admittedly, it has also been a pretty relaxed year, with no major shift in my mindset. I think I have accomplished my biggest mental and personal growth in my early 20s, and now that I am halfway through I just gotta adjust to whatever comes my way and get on with things!

THE LESSONS I LEARNED IN 2019

You can't be at 100% every day, and that's okay.
This year I have really learned (without big revelation, just slowly and confidently) that one should not expect to be at their maximum all the time. However strong your motivation is, your body may not follow; or one day you just wake up with big plans but no will to accomplish them at all. Instead of beating myself up like I would do some years ago, I decided to embrace the fact that no one is perfect and that whatever I don't achieve one day, I can easily achieve another time. Save yourself the guilt and use your time to take care of yourself and get yourself back to the right place and mindset!

You will always have so many wonderful opportunities.
Here, I am talking about opportunities in any shape or form. The opportunity to meet new people, to say yes to events you would have never thought you'd experience, to visit new places just because you say "why not" and give them a chance; the opportunity to expand your horizons, professionally and personally. The me of January 2019 would never have guessed where the me of December 2019 would be - and I'm the first to be surprised at what I have seen and done this year! I decided to visit Budapest on a whim and found one of my favourite cities ever, I did a Skype job interview without any expectations, not knowing that I would end up getting the job and love it and everything it's bringing me - and I could go on! If you haven't had the best time recently, just remember that things change, and if you find yourself in a pit, there will be forces helping you back up again.

Sometimes, good things do come to those who wait.
I typically have a can-do attitude and always encourage people do get out and do things for themselves, earning what they get and so on, but this year I've realised that sometimes you just gotta wait: things you never thought would come through your own great work, will come anyways even though you may have lost all hope. Last June I was desperate for a new job. My teacher job in London was only a one-year contract and was ending soon, and I could not for the life of me find another teaching position. I applied to one that I really wanted, and didn't get it after the interview. I got a position that, after the interview, I realised I didn't really want to take. I didn't know whether I would stay in London or move back to France. That time was really tough for me, because I was at a crossroads in the dark and not matter the efforts I put into finding another job, there was nothing. Eventually, in July, I got my present job in Paris - after an interview that I thought would not lead to anything. It just happened. So it's okay if sometimes you feel like you're just in the waiting room. A door will open eventually. Just keep your spirits up!


You never know where you will end up, so there's no use planning tomorrow like it's gonna be your only definite plan.
When we are at "critical" times, i.e. between jobs, moving cities or having changes in our relationships with loved ones, we may feel like the direction we're taking, voluntarily or not, is the one that we'll be following for the rest of our life. Like there's no going back, changing your mind, twists and turns and new opportunities. When I was looking for a new job, instead of seeing my horizons open up, I saw them narrow down. Each idea I had for the near future suddenly blocked me and I kept thinking like any decision I was going to take then would put me in a box for the next decade. Now, isn't that a terrible way of seeing things? 

I was planning my whole life (or at least a good chunk of it) based on one choice, one move, one big change. But actually, there are plenty of other big changes, expected and unexpected, which will shape my life anyway. I will take new decisions, new directions, that may lead me to places I never thought I would be. Don't get me wrong, there is some good in looking ahead and planning for success (otherwise, how would one accomplish their goals and dreams?) but this year I have learned that not every day, every month and every year will bring me new things, good and bad, and that no matter how much I feel like I am planning tomorrow right now, life finds its way to surprise us with what we have not planned. 
Now, doesn't that make the new year sound like an empowering adventure to take on? Let's do this!

What have you learned about yourself or the world around you in 2019?
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20/12/2019

Christmas 2019: How To Build Your Festive Wardrobe!


Because you can't really wear a Christmas jumper every day...

... Although I wish it was socially acceptable!
To me there is a big difference between dressing for wintertime, and dressing around the festive season. Sure, the weather is roughly the same in December as it will be next January, but the vibe is certainly different - it's Christmaaas! And thus, there are a few trends and styles that I love wearing before December 31. If like me you enjoy changing your style with the seasons, here are a few things you could wear right now:

DOUBLE-BREASTED JACKETS AND COATS
I don't own many coats and jackets, and my favourite are both double-breasted. There's something about this retro style that I like. My military jacket from Zara is a firm favourite, that I enjoy wearing on days when it's not so cold. Doesn't it look like a nutcracker jacket? So Christmassy! Here I paired them with my tartan trousers from H&M, and I think the whole looks rather festive, without being all glitter and sparkles.

TARTAN GALORE
Tartan is a gorgeous pattern, and I think that it works on everything: trousers like me, but also scarves, jackets and coats, skirts... It brings a little colour to the more neutral colours one tends to wear during the winter. A tartan piece can brighten any all-black or navy outfit - and you'll look like you've just been on a trip to Scotland, too. Wonderful!


A BIT OF SPARKLY AND SHINY
While some may want to go all out this season with lots of glitter and sequins, I prefer using subtle touches of sparkly during the festive season. Pearls are especially trendy at the moment, and they are a very chic addition to jumpers, headbands, but I have also seen it on jeans. I have a pearl handband from Primark that only cost me 3€/£2 and it adds a fancy touch to any outfit. If you would like something a little more 'extra', look for silky fabrics like silky slip skirts and dresses, and knitwear with sparkly threads running through the fabric - jumpers, dresses, scarves, etc. This is party wear made accessible for everyday style, so you don't need a big event to dress up a little!

THE RIGHT ACCESSORIES TO BEAT THE WEATHER IN STYLE
For me, you don't need an array of winter accessories - only a few great staples. Pleather gloves are my go-to, especially when they have a little bow on them to make them cuter. Pick them black, and pair them with classic black boots too: makes them easy to wear with every festive look. You also need a couple good quality scarves, possibly tartan (obviously!) or sparkly. Look for lush, warming materials - they may cost you more than the usual fast-fashion scarf, but you really don't need a whole collection, just two good ones to be able to switch while one's in the wash. Same with bags. Burgundy is my winter colour of choice, but I also have a gorgeous little Karl Lagerfeld black bag with pearls that I will use for festive outings. If you are planning to walk around Christmas markets, take a sturdy pleather backpack instead: perfect to pack your camera, coffee mug and any presents you'd want to bring back with you from the market. Practical, yet stylish and timeless! 

What are your favourite things to wear at Christmas time?
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