Sunday, 29 March 2020

Tips on How to Stay Productive While Working From Home

Totally unrelated image but trying to be optimistic that we will still be able to enjoy summer!

I understand that due to the current climate, this is going to be a topic that has absolutely been done to death, but I always find reading tips that I can actually relate to, make it so much easier to incorporate them into my new found self-isolating lifestyle and not go totally insane. I mean, everyone can read 'get up at 7am every day! Eat a healthy breakfast! Write a list!' but we all know that we're going to have a couple of days where we just think 'CBA.' So my tips for having a WFH day aren't super regimented but (I hope) pretty productive.

Meal Prep
Ok, I'm not talking Sunday hardcore meal prep with your 500 Tupperware boxes, 12 chicken breasts and 700 stems of tenderstem broccoli (like I ever did that anyway, lol), because now we all have a lot more free time to rustle something that actually tastes good, without needing to prep a week of lunches in advance.  But to stop me making my way through the contents of the fridge like Pac-Man every day, I'm making sure I'm roughly planning my meals in advance, so I know what I'm buying from the supermarket and to stop me adding unnecessary junk to my basket. We're buying basics that we can adapt to make different meals, such as chicken, oats, random veggies, eggs, cheese, anything Linda McCartney cos it bangs and then using sauces and spices like pesto and fajita seasoning so we don't get bored.

I've never really had the opportunity to work from home in any of my previous jobs, so it is a pretty big shock to the system when I've gone from my 6am alarm, 6.50am F45 class, 45 min commute to the office, 8 hour day, 45 min commute home, ride my bike back from the tube station, have dinner and go to bed. I mean, I could literally stay in bed all day if I wanted to and work from my laptop there, but I tried it for a day last week (partly cos I don't have a desk in my London flat and partly just cos I could) and I just felt shit, not to mention I couldn't sleep that night because I had literally been in the same hunched over position for 12 hours. Now I'm temporarily living with my boyfriend, we have such a good routine in place to help combat cabin fever. We get up at 7.15am and do 45 mins of yoga (Search Yoga with Adrienne on YouTube) then I start my day at 8am. I eat breakfast sat at the dining table with my laptop while I run thorough emails, and then I stay there and work until lunchtime. We use this time to use our one outdoor exercise allowance in, and try and cram as close to our 10k steps as we can. Then I'll eat lunch at the table with my laptop and work until 5. We try and cram another quick workout in (my trainers from f45 do some amazing quick HIIT workouts on IG live!) have dinner and then watch a couple of episodes of something on Netflix before going to bed. Although I've been at home mostly all day, it makes me feel like I've still had a productive day, just like I would have done if I were to be at the office.

Social Media
As a Social Media Manager, I flitter between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all day for a range of clients. As I'm using my personal phone (I don't have a work phone) I am constantly getting notifications through from my personal accounts, which makes it so easy to get distracted. To combat this, I log out of all my personal accounts in the morning when I start working, and only let myself log back in at the end of the day. No notifications and the effort I need to go to in order to log out of work accounts and into my personal makes it not worth it for a 2 minute scroll, and it means my focus remains on my work accounts all day. So simple but really makes a difference.

I love having an active lifestyle, so I would say it's been quite difficult to adapt from a hardcore f45 workout in the morning and riding my bike everywhere to a slow 45 min yoga/stretching session and a 30 minute walk per day, but now I'm 2 weeks in and more settled into this routine, and I'm really enjoying it! We're currently at a time where when we have no choice but to stay inside for most of the day, so we have no choice but to adapt. It's important to me to find some form of activity that I actually enjoy so I stick to it, and so far I'm really enjoying yoga! I'm on Adrienne's '30 days of yoga' series, so I'm looking forward to seeing the difference in my body as I progress. A lot of my favourite fitness studios are offering amazing workouts throughout the day on Instagram too, so check out Digme, Barry's, F45 Vauxhall, Hot Pod yoga and More Yoga.

Set Goals
If you follow me on Twitter, you'll have noticed me moaning about the lack of sleep I've had recently. I haven't slept properly in about a week, even though I've got fresh bedding, my mattress is comfy af and I've had a productive day work-wise. To me, setting goals don't have to be huge milestones that will take months to hit. With a lot going on in the current climate, I'm trying not to overwhelm myself with more pressure to hit goals, so I'm setting small targets to slowly ease my way in to.

  • My first goals is no phone before bed. I work in social media, so I'm on my phone for a pretty big portion of my working day, so as soon as the clock hits 5pm and I can sign out, that's it for social media for the evening too. I'm hoping this helps me sleep better too.
  • Get back into reading! Now that I don't have a 45 min commute to and from the office, my books have remained untouched. I'm going to try and read for 30 mins a day to get back into the habit. I need to remind my brain how good it feels to look at paper instead of going blind from staring into my computer screen!
  • Start a gratitude journal. I saw one of these in Kikki K aaaaaages ago and I'm gutted I didn't buy it, then I remember that it was literally just a notebook and I can buy one from my local Tesco for a fraction of the price. The point is to write down 3 things you are grateful for each night before bed. It's amazing for helping to find gratitude in the smallest of things, that you may have never taken notice of before, and focus on the positive things happening in an otherwise worrying, scary and difficult time. On tougher days, you can ready it back to remind yourself that you are doing just fine. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

Ways to Save Money in London

It’s not just the 5 (almost 6!) week month that we have to survive after Christmas before we finally get paid to force me to be thriftier recently, it’s London in general. The cost of living is so much more down here compared to the north, which is regularly demonstrated to my friends when I send them weekly Snapchats of my £13.50 poached eggs on toast, or my bank statement telling me I spend £8 a day getting to and from work. As I’m basically a seasoned Southener now (I’ve lived here 2 years and 2 months!), I wanted to share some tips on small changes you can make to your daily life to save money.

Cycle to Work
I can actually SEE my friends (cough Tom West cough) rolling their eyes like ‘OH MY GOD WE GET IT YOU’VE GOT A BIKE’ but as much as I try and shoehorn the fact my boyfriend bought me a bike for Christmas into every conversation ever, it is a genuine tip! I spend around £8 a day on travel, to f45, from f45 to work, then home, or into central or wherever I have plans after work, then home. This really adds up, so just by riding one of the to/from journeys a week, I can save at least £48 a month. If you’re unfortunate enough not to have your own bike, GUTTED. No I’m only joking- invest! Spring is in sight so imagine how nice it’s going to be to have a relaxing ride to the office each morning instead of cramming yourself onto a packed sardine tin of a tube every morning? And you’ll get quads of steel. Win-win.

Meal Prep
I’ve actually really got into the swing of meal prep this year. It works for me because I’m such a creature of habit that I don’t mind eating the same thing 5 days in a row. I like to have a nice wholesome Sunday of gymming in the morning and picking up the ingredients on the way home to batch cook. A recent favourite is tofu coconut curry (literally shallow fry tofu, add chopped pepper, onion and courgette, 2 tablespoons of thai red curry paste, can of coconut milk, sprinkle of cashew nuts and done! Serve with microwave basmati rice and tender stem broccoli) It’s also great because I’ve had my braces permanently removed now which means no more yellow stained teeth! Small step for mankind. Huge step for me. A whole week of lunches probably costs about £10, plus it’s super healthy so I don’t feel sluggish at my desk.

Time Out
My Tuesday morning commute is always made so much better when I pick up my weekly copy of Time Out! As well as giving loads of inspo for dinner/drinks/events/music/house-buying (LOL), it also has a dedicated page to FREE things in London! This can be anything from scoops of the new flavour of Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream being handed out in Spitalfields Market to free exhibitions (again lol because art is not a bit of me but I wanted to share anyway) to things like the naked London bike ride which is just a hilarious thing to go and watch. I always circle the things I want to do (whether I actually follow through with this is another story) but at least my weekend activity is something more than ‘just going for drinks’.

Food Markets
Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE a boujee date night in a fancy restaurant, but I also love spending a lazy Sunday riding (I’ve got a bike you know?) over to somewhere like Victoria Park or Broadway Market and having a mooch down the stalls and a sample of some of the street food. Street food in London is HUGE. It’s everywhere. And there are so many food trucks offering incredible dishes that it’s impossible to choose a favourite because something better always comes along. Dishes range from about £5-£10, so it’s a fraction of the price of dining in, and there is noting better than grabbing some good food and spending the afternoon sitting in the sun with your pals. (When it’s warmer, obv)

Too Good to Go
This app was actually recommended to me by a friend, but I haven’t actually used it yet. Anyway, as a way to try and reduce food waste, and restaurants and cafes throwing away perfectly good food, they list it on the app and you go and collect a ‘mystery bag’ for a fraction of the price- they’re all around £3.99. So for example one of the restaurants on there is Costa Coffee (saying a chain for arguments sake, but there are looooads of independent stores on there) and they list their mystery bags to be collected from each specific branch (you can filter by location closest to you) and it will contain a selection of any 4 sandwiches/pastries/cakes/salads that you would have usually purchased for about £4 each. Bargain AND you’re doing your bit to save the planet! I’m dying for ethos to be available at a time when I happen to be around Soho, because I really really love it but I really really don’t want to pay £15 for salads every day.

What are your money-saving tips? Let me know if you use any of mine!