It's come to that time in the year where I can feel an ever-so-slight change in my state of mind. It feels like it happens every year...I start the new year feeling so optimistic, inspired & positive that I feel like I need to go, go, go without taking a breath. Inevitably this often causes a bit of a crash and burn. But it's the type of crash and burn that takes a while to realise that it's even happening as it all starts so subtly.
The effort levels ever-so-slightly start to drop, I go to bed later & wake up later, feel a deeper kind of tiredness & definitely start to feel less inspired. Because it happens so gradually, I usually find it really hard to detect...however this time I'm learning from previous mistakes and trying to kick it before it's somehow become the end of the year already!
So here are my current 'when working at home' weekday guidelines I'm going to try and follow to make sure I'm getting the most out of every day.
WAKE UP RESTED
This is a big one and one that I am realising makes such a massive difference more and more as I get older. For me, it all starts with a relatively early bed time, particularly on a Sunday night otherwise I feel I'll be in a vicious circle for the whole week. 10.30pm is the sweet spot for me and makes waking up the next morning so much easier. For the past couple of weeks, I've found myself not getting into bed until 11.30pm-ish and not falling asleep until after midnight. This makes the next morning sooooo sleeeeppy & exhausting which means I usually don't get anything done until the afternoon and that leads to another late night just to play catchup. Vicious circle of doom!
To fix this, for the next 4 work weeks, I'm challenging myself to 10.30pm bed times and 6.45am wake up time. I feel like this is the lynchpin for an ongoing feeling of having a great day, week, month, season, year. It's the base layer for greatness haha!
HAVE A 'SLOW' MORNING
Waking up earlier means the morning doesn't have to be such a rush which is so so nice! I love waking up early to make a coffee or tea for George & myself, wash my face, make a yummy breakfast, cuddle with Winston, and just generally get ready for the day in a slow chilled pace rather then a manic rushed pace. It's such a nice way to start the day and I'm filled with excitement for the day which makes me so much happier! It's even the case on weekends too - as much as I love a good nights sleep, I'm not the biggest fan of sleeping in as when I get up I feel like the best part of the day is already over so quickly.
I usually try to have the mornings without a screen around but sometimes it's fun & interesting to casually scroll through while having your morning coffee or tea, so I guess it's mainly about not putting pressure on yourself to a 'miracle' morning every single day and instead base it around just having some slow quality morning time to relax and plan the day.
FEEL A SENSE OF ACHIEVEMENT
I find that this is another super important ingredient of having a great work day. The sense of achievement changes in it's size, as in some days just replying to one important email might make you feel like the day was a huge success, whereas others might have a couple big & intimidating tasks that need to get ticked off in order to make you feel like the day has been a good one.
I'm not the best at prioritising my to-do list at all - I put things off if it doesn't excite me which is a really bad habit, so along with my bed-time schedule challenge, I've also introduced a new trick to my daily to-do lists. Instead of just writing down a whole bunch of things that I would like to get done that day in random order, I take 5 minutes to really think about what would make me the happiest if I get it done. I keep it to just 2-3 tasks, otherwise I overwhelm myself, so if I get anything else done on top of those it's a bonus and I feel like I can shut the computer down at a reasonable time.
It is hard with photo editing though as the amount of photos to get through can range from 200-5000+ so instead of writing e.g. "Edit Mollymook photos" and not being able to tick it off until it's all done, I now write "Edit a portion of Mollymook photos" and from trial & error, I can usually get through 350-400 photos before feeling like my head is going to explode haha so a portion has now become 400 photos. This little change in how I approach getting through photo editing has helped sooo much and definitely helps to make me feel a sense of achievement throughout the week.
SCHEDULE 'INSPIRATION' TIME
I absolutely love a good Pinterest or Instagram scroll and it's something that I don't want to turn my back on it and see them as purely negative time-wasters because that's definitely not the case. It's how we use them that makes all the difference. So, rather then endless scrolling which usually becomes very mind-numbing and will kill any kind of productivity, I've started scheduling in little mini sessions of going through them.
I've always found Pinterest such a great source for inspiration and love to get little doses of inspo throughout the day. I've found that loosely scheduling in Pinterest time makes me way less likely to get distracted & I seem to get way more inspired.
Instagram is a bit of a different story though as posting is very time consuming and I've not yet figured out what the best way to streamline that process. However, I love using Instagram as a source of inspiration, especially since the 'explore' section has improved exponentially since Instagram was first on the scene as it now shows you (well it has for a while now) images and accounts that directly relate to what you're interested in. The only thing is, it's now way easier to fall in the black hole of Instagram and have way too much time pass before you realise. I've found that I prefer checking Insta out at the end of the day where it doesn't matter as much if I get really distracted.
LISTEN TO MUSIC OR PODCASTS WHILE WORKING
This is my favourite thing ever and makes a big photo editing sesh so much more fun! I have a few Spotify playlists that I love listening to, but I've found myself using the Radio section of Spotify a lot more recently. I just right click on one of my current favourite songs and hit 'start radio' and it creates a playlist of all related songs. It saves the time of having to create your own playlists and also means I've been discovering so many new artists and songs that I love. I'm a massive country music fan so am currently obsessed with Holly Williams, Chris Stapleton, Zac Brown Band, Tim McGraw, Thomas Rhett (particularly 'Die A Happy Man'....have you seen the video clip? It's sooooooooooooooooooo cute!!!) and anything that mentions drinking whiskey haha + many many more. LOVE THEM!!! I also really love Ziggy Alberts who's more beachy, singer-songwriter-y which is also right up my alley!
As for Podcasts, my favourite will always be the Bon Appétit Foodcast! I loveeeee editor-in-chief Adam Rapoport & deputy editor-in-chief Andrew Knowlton and would have severe star-struckness if I ever saw them in real life haha. But seriously, the Bon Appétit podcast is so great and is definitely one of the contributing factors of making me want to go live over in America at some point!
This one is definitely the hardest by far but is so annoyingly essential haha. It makes the biggest difference to an overall feeling of content-ness for sure! But it's so hard to do, especially when you really like what you're working on and when social media make up quite a big area of your business.
Switching off has become somewhat easier for me recently after upgrading my laptop to an iMac. I still use my laptop now and then but I don't do any 'work' on it, and keep work in the office with the big computer. It took me a little while to get into this routine and I break it way to easily sometimes but it has made switching off easier that's for sure!
Ideally I would love to switch off by 6pm with a super compelling book, but truthfully it's usually a whole lot of "Netflix & chill" (finally started watching 'Chef's Table' documentary series and we're obsessed)! The best thing about this though is that it allows George & I to have some relaxing quality time together which is obviously the best thing about life and will always make any bad day much much much better!