Other people’s routines

I’m the sort of person that loves routine. I enjoy my morning routine, it sets me up for the day, leaving me feeling awake and ready to get to work. And I like my daily work routine, my coffee break mid-morning, and my lunchtime stroll in the park.

If for some reason I can’t follow my normal routine, everything feels in disarray. For a day or two, it’s fine, it’s a novelty and I’m having fun travelling or staying with a friend. But after two or three days out of my routine, I miss it.

I crave walking on my own, long walks listening to podcasts. My body misses the stretches of morning yoga. I long for 10 spare minutes to listen to a meditation. My writing goes off kilter, and I realise on Friday morning that I have no blogpost to publish.

More than anything, I need a bit of time on my own, no chatting, no listening, no voices. Just me getting on with my stuff.

The pressure of being productive

This week I was reminded how in the media and online there’s an intense pressure to be the most efficient you can be, the most productive, the most calm and unflappable. All around there are examples of morning routines, productivity hacks, other people telling us what works for them. Things you must do to get x result.

I’ve written before about information overload and how I’m always trying to strip things back to the bare essentials in terms of consuming information. Ironically, having recently written a few posts about productivity and efficiency, I realise I could be adding to the noise.

If hearing about other people’s lives leaves you feeling bad, or that you’re not doing enough, it’s probably healthier to dial down the noise and concentrate on doing your thing.

No routine

The thing is, I love hearing about how other people work, how they spend their days and what their morning or day time routines consist of (for example here). I find it fascinating what works for one person and doesn’t for another. Or rather, what appeals to me and what doesn’t.

Other people’s routines can seem pretty dull and strict. Chanting for 30 minutes upon waking then drinking hot water with lemon doesn’t appeal to me. Nor does waking at 5am to walk on a treadmill whilst checking emails and catching the news headlines. It sounds like a punishment rather than a great way to start the day.

What I really like is reading about people whose routines are totally different to mine, and which sound fun. Perhaps they don’t have any fixed routine. Maybe they wake up and write for 2 hours straight, only drinking coffee. Or they roll out of bed as late as possible, grab a croissant and coffee to go and put their makeup on in the tube.

Get inspired

And learning about how other people go about their lives can be helpful. You might uncover something that hits a nerve, and makes you see things differently, do things differently.

I remember reading about someone working in publishing who would snatch any moment throughout the day they could to read – getting through a staggering amount of books a month – and that made me prioritise reading more.

Sometimes it’s good to refresh the routine you’ve settled into and consciously aim to make your day more enjoyable, or relaxed, or easy.

What works for you

I think the most important point is – find out what works for you.

If you love a bit of unpredictability, no set routine and going with how you feel in the moment, brilliant. Perhaps a bit of chaos gets the adrenaline going. If like me you feel overwhelmed by lack of routine, and like things to feel a bit ordered, that’s fine too. But it probably does me good to mix it up every once in a while and not be too set in my ways.

The main thing is to find what suits you – and go with it.

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If you’d like to book a life coaching session with me, send me an email at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Kenny Luo on Unsplash

Slowing Down with Hurry Slowly

I discovered a new podcast this week which has made me very happy. Called Hurry Slowly, it’s all about ‘how you can be more productive, creative, and resilient through the simple act of slowing down.’

There’s often such a pressure to have this aggressive, ‘always on’ attitude – to be ‘killing it’, hustling. Along with all the distraction we live with – notifications, too much choice, the lure of the internet, news, Game of Thrones theories and funny videos – it’s no wonder there’s a lot of anxiety and stress around.

Just thinking about it makes me crave simplicity and calm. Cutting back on everything, slowing down. Breathing.

Back to Hurry slowly. The first episode I listened to – futurist Alex Pang on ‘Prioritizing Rest and Reflection‘ – totally backed up my philosophy of working with focus for a certain amount of time, then having a good break, rather than ploughing through for hours on end.

He also suggests walking and taking time to digest, letting your mind flow, seeing which ideas or solutions appear. Sleeping on a problem and finding that it’s magically resolved in your mind the next day. Basically – being aware of how you use your focus and energy, and figuring out what actually works for you.

“Real relaxation doesn’t come from doing nothing at all if you’re a busy person but from doing something different — an alternative outlook, a change of atmosphere, a diversion of effort is essential.” Alex Pang

Another guest, author and designer Debbie Millman, talks about how anything worthwhile takes time. There’s such pressure to succeed and to achieve things quickly. With all the social media and other content outlets it’s so easy to fall into the trap of comparing yourself to others. Seeing what other people have achieved by your age and feeling inferior. I love that the message here is to take your time and experiment.

 “Most of the things that I’ve done have taken me quite a long time to realize any sense of real visibility in doing them. That’s just always been the arc of my life in anything that I was doing. I didn’t really get any traction with my career for about the first decade. I now look back and call that first decade experiments in rejection and failure.” Debbie Millman

The last episode I’ll mention is dedicated to something I’m as obsessed with as the host – walking. Sounds simple, maybe even boring to some. But I’ll never stop banging on about the virtues of walking. It really is like therapy. It’s meditative, it gets the blood and circulation flowing, it takes you out of slump or crappy mood. A good walk cheers me up no end.

So there we go, if you’re inspired to discover more there are plenty of episodes to uncover here.

Enjoy the reminder that slowing down is a good thing.

If there’s something in your life you need help with changing, feel free to contact me for a coaching session. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com and we’ll find a time to speak.

 

Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash

Your future self – more than self-care

The term self-care is being bandied about all over the place, and I sometimes wonder if I need to read yet another top 10 self-care list, although they seem impossible to avoid at the moment.

Having said that, there is something in it. It is really important to remember to be kind to yourself. To be as lovely to yourself as you are to your friends or family or partner. To rank your needs as highly as anyone else’s.

And we’ve all got a horrible little voice in our heads trying to tell us how rubbish/unattractive/stupid/idiotic we are. It takes a fair bit of effort to quash it. Sometimes it’s easier to give in, agree, and feel yourself fall into a cycle of nasty thoughts and self-loathing.

On top of that, with all the general busyness in our lives, it’s hard to listen to what we really need or want i.e. a rest, a break, a snack, water, a laugh, a hug, a break from the screen…

This results in feelings of stress, anxiety, not having enough time – and all seem to be pretty much the norm.

Maybe we’re not caring for ourselves as much as we could be.

Future me

Here’s something you can try. I think of it as being nice to ‘future me’. It consists of doing something small today that I know will make me happy tomorrow.

I remember when I lived with a teacher and his wife in the south of France for a few weeks at the start of my year abroad. Each morning when I got up they would have left for me some recently toasted bits of baguette, alongside some butter and a pot of marmalade for my breakfast. It was so simple and so sweet. An act of thoughtfulness.

So now I do the same for myself when I need a bit of love and care.

Before going to bed, I’ll lay out my breakfast things. First I’ll place my small wooden chopping board and a sharp knife ready to chop up my apple. Then I’ll add a favourite mug and a teaspoon for my tea. Finally, I’ll lay out a nice big bowl and a spoon for my porridge.

A simple act

Just laying out the simple implements is enough. It’s telling me that I care for myself. I guess it’s like the thought behind making breakfast in bed for someone else. I’ll wake up in the morning and smile to see that someone has thoughtfully left out these things for me – to make the morning that little bit easier.

It’s like a little reminder to myself. That I care.

It could also be laying out my outfit for the day, the night before. No more stressing and time wasted deliberating between these trousers or that jumper. One less thing to think about.

Or it’s tidying away the post and leaflets and scraps of paper and general junk on the kitchen table – knowing that your morning will feel a lot more calm when everything seems in order.

It’s thinking ahead – to one small thing you can accomplish now – which will act as a little hug to yourself tomorrow.

What can you do?

Maybe that’s the answer to bringing some joy into your life, being thoughtful to yourself. Doing something small that you know future you will appreciate, to show that you care. For you now, and for ‘future you’. What are you going to do?

You can contact me here if you are interested in life coaching sessions.

Photo by Frame Harirak on Unsplash

4 tips to manage your energy when working remotely

I’ve been working remotely for nearly 3 years now. Over that period of time I’ve done a mixture of working from home, setting up in a co-working space, and tapping away in cafes. Now that I’ve found a lovely new co-working space I mainly work from there.

If you are considering working remotely, or just getting started, here are 4 tips I rely on to make sure I feel at my best throughout the day.

1. Set up a routine (and get moving)

Some people are happy rolling out of bed in their pyjamas, turning on their laptop, sitting on the sofa and off they go. I am not that person. I need structure, routine, and I really need to move my body and get some fresh air before starting work.

So, I have a morning routine that includes meditation, yoga, then either a gym class or a walk in my local park. For the meditation, I use the Headspace app – I normally manage 10-15 mins. I use Youtube for the yoga – YogawithAdriene and SarahBethYoga, also 10-15 mins.

I love this routine. It allows me to wake up slowly, without rushing, and then get moving. At the gym there’s music, a few friendly faces to say hi to, the rush of endorphins. Especially when working from home, it feels good to be around other people first thing.

Then sat at my desk to start work, I feel energised and happy, ready to go. It’s the same if I walk in the park; I always listen to a podcast or music as I walk, which inspires me and puts me in a good mood.

2. Have a change of scene

I’ve also found that I’m best suited to a few different work locations in a day. Back when l started working from home all day, it got too much for me and by the afternoon I’d start to feel cut off from the world. I discovered that going to sit in a café for an hour or so was like a massive injection of energy; suddenly I was part of the world again, and I’d become super productive.

In the current coworking space, I work at a desk where I can stand or sit, and I’ll sometimes switch to a quiet meeting room, or the in-house café, depending on what I need. I really appreciate being able to change my position and my surroundings, depending on what I’m working on and my mood.

3. Take a proper lunch break

If you’re not in a traditional office set-up it can be easy to just keep on working… But it’s good to get away from your computer – ideally away from any screen, even better if you can take a walk outside… and drink lots of water!

4. Break between work and evening

I think it’s important to make a distinction between your working day and the evening.  My number one favourite thing to do after work is to go for a walk. As was the case when I worked in an office, it feels so good to get outside, move and leave work behind. Going for a walk does wonders for your energy levels and can help you to relax.

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I hope some of these tips help or inspire you if you are new to working remotely or looking to change your routine.

If you are considering a change of direction in your career or life in general, feeling stuck, and struggling to work out what to do next, I can help you. Send me a message here and we can set up a chat about life coaching.

Photo by Emmanuel Kontokalos on Unsplash

Overwhelm

I sometimes feel overwhelmed.

There’s the news and content I want to consume. Then there’s the news and content I don’t want to consume but somehow seem to be consuming.

Podcasts I want to listen to.

Books I want to read.

The things I want to learn.

Too many obligations.

The list of places in the world I want to visit.

The desire to be a good friend. Wanting to be there for friends in need.

Feelings of tiredness.

Feelings of helplessness.

Feelings of loneliness.

Of sadness.

Of gratitude.

A sense of too much to do and not enough time to do it.

Too many choices.

The number of emails coming in on a daily basis.

Feeling as though I need to answer each email immediately in order to be doing a good job and ‘on top of things’.

The amount of time I spend looking at a screen throughout a day.

Hundreds of WhatsApp messages.

The conflict between the need to make social plans but also the desire to have time to do nothing or see how I feel on the day.

Here are some things I do when I start to feel overwhelmed:

I limit the number of times I check my WhatsApp messages (I don’t have the notifications on because it stresses me out). I put my phone in another room or in my bag so that it’s not within reaching distance. When I watch tv or a film at home – I move my phone out of reach. I limited myself to checking once an hour. Or once every half hour. Maybe once I’ve completed an email. When I’ve had breakfast and gone on a walk. Or not at all after 9pm.

I cut down on making  so many plans. I think before arranging things with friends or acquaintances. It’s time to start saying no thanks.

I read more. Get to bed an hour earlier than usual and just read – everything and anything I feel like reading and for as long as I like. Checking the time is not allowed.

I take myself off for walks as much as possible. Long, short, ideally both within a day.

I resist making certain decisions – mainly when I feel a sense of obligation to see someone or reply to a message – giving myself time to process.

I write a sort of journal/diary in the evening before I sleep – everything and anything on my mind. Lists, ideas, plans, goals, feelings, stream of consciousness.

These things help – they give my mind a break. I start to feel less overwhelmed, less stressed, less pulled in various different directions.

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I wrote this because I like reading things were the person seems to be feeling exactly the way I feel. Or where I recognise the feeling they are describing. It reminds me that we’re all the same, we’re not alone in our thoughts, we all have to find ways to accept or deal with certain feelings.

I hope reading this has helped in some way.

If you’d like to set up a coaching session with me, click here.

Photo by Justin Veenema on Unsplash