Always in a rush?

I’ve realised something about myself recently. I always seem to be in a rush.

I put these self-imposed time limits on myself.

I’ve particularly noticed it happening in the mornings. I take it slow to start, ease myself into some Headspace meditation, then some yoga. I breathe, I’m slow, I’m basically waking up.

Then – action stations! The next few minutes are a blur of kettle on, shower, tea, dress, make-up, breakfast. I rush through it. Eating my breakfast I try to slow down and take my time – I hate rushing while eating.

But I realise I’ve got into the habit of rushing unnecessarily.

Now, I know mornings are a rush for most people. Busy people with jobs to get to, kids to get ready for school, commutes to make. Trying to get as much sleep as possible is the priority, so we get up the very latest we can and then rush through getting out the door.

But, a few years back I deliberately designed my morning to not be a massive rush. I made the decision to get up earlier, just so that I didn’t have to rush, and could have an enjoyable read while eating my breakfast. 

But slowly the habit has crept back. 

And it’s not just the early mornings. When I leave the house I then rush to my co-working space (I do enjoy the 30 minute walk, but it’s at a good clip). I burst into the cowork space, head down, no time for chit chat. I need to get my laptop on, pronto. It’s a vaguely stressful start to the day to be honest.

No ambling in for me, making a tea, having a chat. Taking my time to sort out my stuff and sit down.

This needs to change. I’m causing myself unnecessary stress.

At the weekends too – I sometimes wake up anxious. All I want is a slow, leisurely morning, reading in bed while eating breakfast and drinking tea. But I have a constant checklist of things to do, reply to that friend’s message, make a plan for later tonight, do the food shop, clean the flat, wash my hair…

I compress time in my head, I need to do everything, NOW! No matter that this is kinda typical at the weekend, I always have this stuff to do, and I get it done. It shouldn’t be a big deal. But somehow I’ve learned to make it stressful. 

So, now it’s time to break the old habits and make some new ones. Here’s my plan:

  • The only time I’m allowed to rush is when I’m actually running late, when I have 5 minutes in which to leave the house or I’ll be late. Anything other than that, and I need to chill out. 
  • I need to forcibly slow down when I feel like I’m rushing, and breathe. Do what I need to do calmly and slowly. 
  • Finally my plan is to leave for work 10 minutes earlier, to give myself time at the other end.

How about you? Are you a rusher? Are you feeling stressed? Or are you pretty zen in your day to day?

If you’d like to download my morning routines guide, do so here: 3 easy steps to a morning routine you love!

And if you’d to sign up for a life coaching session with me, sign up here on LinkedIn. Or email me at joaopoku@gmail.com.

Photo by Djim Loic on Unsplash

The perfect time for writing, reflecting & planning.

This time of year, the days between Christmas Day and the New Year, I naturally turn to reflecting on the current year, and on the new year to come.

How do I feel about the year that’s about to end? Generally a good year? Not so good? Did anything go well, and what could I have done differently?

What plans do I have for January? Do I want to change how I go about my day-to-day routines? What big plans do I have for the whole year, what do I want to achieve?

I love to write it all down.

I find writing cathartic, whether it’s a blogpost, the day’s to-do list, big plans for the future or simply getting down on paper how I’m feeling. Reflecting in this way is therapeutic, getting it all out of my head, and down on paper. It’s a way of processing my thoughts.

There’s such freedom in writing. Random words, imagined conversations, massive crazy dreams. Writing down how you really feel about something, and would never dare tell anyone.

Also it can help you come up with solutions. Getting down all possible options, making a massive plan of all the steps it will take to do something.

Here are a few writing exercises I’ll be doing over the next few days, that you might want to try.

Reflection

1. When reflecting back over the past year, a really nice exercise is to think of and write down all the things I’m proud of. What did I overcome, or survive? When did I do something that took courage. What did I find a solution to? Was there a situation I dealt with well? Who did I help? In which moments did I cheer myself on and get something done?

Those times you’ve felt nervous, or unequipped or unqualified, you’ve struggled with imposter syndrome – but then you did it and it was fine? That time you were assertive when usually you’d give in. That time you tried something new and loved it.

It can be hard at first, but if you push yourself to list every little thing you’re proud of, most of us can come up with quite a list.

Brief moments

2. It’s also great to consider moments of peace, contentedness, happiness, or joy during the past year. It doesn’t have to be something big, like an amazing holiday or event. Rather, those brief moments.

For example a lovely unexpected exchange with someone you didn’t know. A time you chose to do what you wanted over what someone else expected of you – and you relished in the moment. That time you took a few minutes from your busy day to sit on a bench in the sun and close your eyes, enjoying a feeling of peace.

If things aren’t going particularly well at the moment, thinking back over what you are proud of, and those little moments of joy, can help you get perspective. It wasn’t all doom and gloom – there were great moments.

3. Compare how you feel right now, with how you felt this time last year. How have things moved on? What are you pleased about? What are you frustrated at? If things haven’t gone as you’d like, you can spend some time reflecting on what you need to do to bring about change.

Future first

4. And on to what’s to come. What are my immediate plans for January, what do I want to get sorted at the start of the year? What’s bugging me? What practical things do I want to sort out, or what changes can I make to my routine?

(Download my morning routines guide here: 3 easy steps to a morning routine you love!)

5. Equally important – what do I want to enjoy or try in January in order to start off the year well? January’s the month where I like to hibernate, so which films do I want to watch, which books do I want to read, which recipes do I want to try cooking?

6. Longer term – what big plans do I have for the year, work wise, health wise, financially, personally, emotionally? However big or however long I think they might take to fulfil, I write it all down. I’m a big believer in being clear on your goals and what you want to achieve, and writing it down. For more help on this, see my vision boards guide here: How to create a vision board.

So there we go, a few tips on taking the time to reflect, reassess and plan. I hope these tips inspire you.

If you realise you need help in making this year different, I’ve recently launched my 1-hour Get Unstuck! coaching calls. Designed to get you taking action straight away, after a 1-hour call with me. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com to arrange.

Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Add joy to your life

For a few years now I’ve been deliberating whether or not to buy fairy lights to brighten up my flat in the winter time, to bring joy and make it a little festive. I’ve never bought a Christmas tree, I’ve never been that fussed about having my own one. Christmas is always with my parents or sister and I’m happy to enjoy other peoples’ decorations.

But until recently I had a little strip of starry fairy lights I’d got free from a Scandinavian magazine. Each year come November I’d set them along one length of the sitting room. They’d bring a beautiful cosy glow to the room. One day they stopped working, and I never replaced them.

Each following year I’d deliberate, is it worth it, is it an environmentally friendly choice, do I really need them…(ever played this fun game?!). And each year I’d decide: no. Then this year, in a new flat in Spain, I suddenly realised it seemed so sad without a little pep to the long dark evenings. I LOVE feeling cosy (who doesn’t?), especially at this time of year when I just want to hibernate. Surely I can treat myself to a little joy in a very simple way?

So I did it.

I bought one set of lights with little stars, and one classic. I’ve draped them over a high cabinet on one side of my flat, and my bookshelf on the other. And they’ve bought a little bit of magic to my home. Suddenly it’s cosy and sparkly, and festive. I actually woke up this morning EXCITED to turn them on. And I know that when I get home tonight it will be with a thrill that I turn them on. Then I’ll settle down to some TV, lighting candles for extra hygge good measure. 

My message to you is: what simple thing can you treat yourself to, to add a little bit of joy to your life? It doesn’t have to be expensive or cost anything.

Is it a week of trying out delicious warming recipes from a beautiful cookbook? (Jamie Oliver Veg and Anna Jones A Modern Way to Eat are my current faves).

Is it changing your morning routine slightly so that you have time to read in bed first thing with a cup of tea or coffee? I think one of the joys of dark rainy mornings and evenings is the excuse to sit in bed for a bit and read. (Click here to download my free morning routine guide). 

Whatever it is, do something that feels like a little present to yourself, to light up your days and the dark nights.

You might also like this post I wrote: Delight.

If you’d like to have a coaching session with me, I’ve recently launched 1-hour Get Unstuck! strategy calls. Designed to get you taking action from the off. And gently breaking through whatever’s stopping you from getting where you want to be. Email me at joaopoku@gmail.com to arrange.

Photo by Evelin Horvath on Unsplash

Do less. It’s simple.

Simple grey typewriter with lots of green plants.

I recently read an article I loved, called Why ambition is overrated. In it the author admits that she has a few simple pleasures in life, and only wants to do the work she needs to in order to enjoy these things.

For example, things such as eating good food, reading books and watching a films. Simple.

Her aim is to work enough – and not much more.

“I am constantly amazed by the blasé professional assumption that everyone should work an hour later than they are contracted, and take ten minute lunch breaks at their desk (if at all).” – Megan Nolan

And I think that’s a pretty good aim. Most of us just want to enjoy the simple things. But we get sucked into social pressures, feel that we’ve got to work harder, keep up, not get left behind.

As much as I’m interested in self-development and improving things in your life you’re not happy with (job, living situation, morning routine), I’m actually a big fan of a more ‘slacker’ attitude.

Slow down

Part of the reason I moved to Spain a couple of years ago was that I wanted a simpler life. I was reacting badly to London life. I wanted less stress, less pressure, more sun, a better social life.

Things are slower here, on a smaller scale. My social life is simpler and easier. Here I have friends available to meet for a coffee or wine at a moment’s notice, never further than a short walk or bike ride away.

What’s important for you

Of course moving to another country isn’t for everyone, and, it’s not the only solution when things aren’t going well in your life.

But working out for yourself what you want in life IS important.

And that article is a good reminder to take note of what you’re really aiming for in life. For me this means:

  • I don’t have to have the big corporate career, a job title that impresses others and to fit in to what’s often considered as success.
  • It’s about working out what’s important to you, and finding ways to integrate those things into your life.
  • Creating a lifestyle that’s right for you.
  • The ideal is doing work that you enjoy, that feels of value and that support you financially.
  • But equally important is actually having time for your home life, your social life, time with friends and family and hobbies and just not doing.

It’s up to you

I hope this post helps if you’re feeling the pressure, feeling dissatisfied and wanting to make changes to your life.

I love it when someone reminds me that doing less isn’t necessarily a bad thing. So here we are. Do less, do what YOU want, do what suits you. Make changes, one step at a time.

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

Photo by Shelby Miller on Unsplash

Autumn Reset Tips – Social Media, Nutrition & Finances

September is the perfect time of year to reset. Back to work, back to routines.

You may have fallen out of your normal routine over the holidays (like me). Now’s the ideal opportunity to take a look at how you’re spending your time and what you changes you can make. What do you need to reset?

As I’ve started back at work I’ve been keeping an eye on some of my habits. In particular:

  • How I spend my time online (internet, social media, mobile)
  • What I eat
  • Saving money

Here are some ideas and tips on simplifying and being more aware of how you’re spending your time. I hope it inspires you!

Computer

Having had a break from work, my computer, even my mobile, I’m looking at things afresh and aiming to streamline everything.

On my laptop I’m backing up files onto Dropbox or a USB stick. I’m deleting files and folders I no longer use, or reorganising so they make more sense. I love decluttering and keeping things nice and organised. 

Mobile

Two weeks away with my boyfriend staying with various friends and family (heaven!) meant that I had limited time for Whatsapp – and less inclination to scroll through out of boredom. I looked maybe once or twice a day.

I struggle with the pressures of Whatsapp. The obligation to reply quickly, getting into a conversation when it’s not good timing, being added to groups…

So I’m trying to stick to the holiday vibe. Keeping notifications off – and resisting the temptation to sneak a peak when I’m bored (trying to, anyway).

I aim to wait until mid-morning for my first look, and to stop looking after 9 or 10pm. Hopefully I can stick this one out.

Which leads to…

Social Media

Instagram

Over the summer I’ve gotten out of the habit of looking at Instagram when I have a spare couple of minutes or am feeling bored. I want to keep this up.

As soon as I start scrolling I start feeling frustrated/overwhelmed, and I can’t stop! And this is even with my tightly curated feed of only around 10 accounts, designed to inspire me.

There are a couple of people I follow who share interesting round-ups of what’s going on in the world. I really enjoy them and learn from them. So I may venture back on and cull even further – only keeping people who are genuinely adding to my day.

Twitter

As with Instagram, I’d gotten into the habit of looking whenever I wanted a ‘hit’. What’s going on in the news, any articles to read, what are my favourite Twitter people saying (mainly authors and journalists).

But I end up scrolling without stop – saving article after article to read – clogging up my ‘to read’ bookmark folder.  

To be honest – this is a hard one to shake, it’s still a nice little break between work tasks. But I’ve started setting a timer. 10 minutes only, to save me from the wormhole and to save my eyes from the scrolling.

Nutrition

I’ve learned these past few months about eating in sync with your hormones. It’s so interesting. There are certain things you can eat more of to aid your body and mood as your hormones are going up or down depending on the week of your menstrual cycle.

For example I’ve read that when you are menstruating it’s good to include more iron from sources such as spinach, lentils and dried prunes. It’s such a no-brainer yet it’s not something I’ve been consciously doing.  

I’ve written myself a list of good foods to eat each week of my cycle. I’m aiming to add what I can to my meals or snacks each week. A couple of websites with information on this are Flo Living and Moody Month.com.

I’m also being more aware of what exercise is most suitable for each week of my cycle. Some weeks I’ll benefit from more high intensity workouts, other weeks my body will suit calmer, more soothing exercise such as yoga. Read more here.

Saving Money

Apart from a smallish contribution to an ISA each month and private pension payments, I’d gotten into the habit of only saving what was left in my bank account at the end of the month. Which is often unimpressive.

My new thing is to transfer a realistic amount to savings at the start of each month. I then have to plan my budgeting around that, rather than vice versa. I’ve realised that if you want to regularly save it has to take priority.

Get that notebook out and get planning

So those are a few things I’m trying which I think are going to improve my every day.

What are you doing to reset at this time of year? Is there something that’s been nagging at you, that you can solve, improve, stop?

Is now the time to finally sit down, have a think, and work out what to do? Do you need to set up a few small steps to get there? Do you need to just get started?

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