School holidays…the struggle is real

I have a kind of love hate relationship with school holidays.  Any working parent will tell you about the additional angst that comes with the juggle of school holidays;  vacation care, holiday programs,  day swapping with friends, taking time off work, the boredom, the complaining and the lack of structure.

The lead up to holidays always has me in a bit of a head spin…

I am very fortunate that my work has the option to “self fund” additional leave, so when I went back to work full time this year,  I also purchased additional leave to help us manage school holidays.    After all,  the kids are off school for 12 weeks in a year! so juggling all that time can be part of the working parents minefield.

So now I have bought this additional leave,  my holidays will be different.  Right?    Relaxing quality time, bonding with the children,  cafe trips and laughter over hot chocolate,  lazing around the house with my feet up,  catching up on the kids lives and reducing my motherly guilt about working full time.

As the first set of holidays approach,  I’m thinking….here we go, quality Mum time ahead.  I even made a deal with my husband.  You take a week,  I take a week.   Awesome,  this should be a cinch.

But I found myself in mounting chaos before the holidays even started.

Work, for example,  might be officially letting me go on leave,  but that doesn’t mean the work goes away.  So I find myself working frantically in the week before I am due to be away,  trying to get double the work done in order to not leave a massive gap while I am gone.  I’m stressed and frustrated,  this is starting to look like a bad idea.

On the first day of the “holidays”, I am still wired.   The kids are running around like lunatics and my patience is already running thin.   I spend the day doing chores around the house and everything I pick up seems to be back on the floor before I even turn around.

I decide I need a project.

Now might be a good time to redecorate my sons room,  the car bed we got when he was three isn’t really cutting it anymore…and it will be a great bonding project for us to do together I think.

I drop my daughter at a friends house and head to IKEA.   Within 30min my son is complaining he wants to go home.  He has chosen a bed,  job done in his eyes.  He wants icecream.  I am wandering the self service aisles trying to find the right flat packs for the bed and chest of drawers we chose.   They are not there.   We have to find someone to help. They get a forklift.   My son is now WAY over it and pulling at my arms.   I struggle to get the huge flatpacks on to the trolley with “help” from my son.  Somehow manage the get through checkouts and then we are finally free (3 hrs later) and I spend 30min struggling to get everything we have purchased into my trailer.

Pick up my daughter and we are home again.  My son has no interest in constructed the bed.  And before we even start his whole room needs cleaning out.  He moans that he just wants to play computer games.   Has a fight with my daughter.

I look around me at the chaos and I think…this is NOT what I had imagined.  I feel overwhelmed, defeated and exhausted.   I am not enjoying any quality time with the kids.  All they want to do is stare at screens and eat junk food.  Bloody school holidays.

But then I stop myself and I realise that my expectations have gotten the better of me, yet again.   That the picture of “ideal” holidays that I have in my head is unrealistic.   Hopefully being off work and spending all day with the kids means that there will be some pockets of quality time together,  but that doesn’t mean that the WHOLE time is going to be quality time…infact, likely not at all.

So…I shake myself off and reset the expectations button.   Send the kids off to play computer games and watch TV (they think this is awesome), make a cup of tea, put on some music and get stuck into the bedroom.

Over the course of the week,  we had some ups and downs.   Inevitably some days were hard work,  I was not relaxing with my feet on the table having deep and meaningful conversations with the kids…let me tell you now!

But by the end of the week, I was feeling in a much different space.   It was nice to spend some time just juggling one component of my life, not all of them at once like usual.  I did manage to spend some quality time with the kids,  we did go for walks together,  we did chat about what is going on with them.  They also spent a lot of time doing the things that they love on their own and time with their friends.  And, yes,  they also spent time lazying around the house watching screens in their pjyamas….and guess what,  one day I did that too! (after the redecorating project was complete of course).

Sure…coming back to work this week was another big shock.  Clawing my way back on top of the all the work projects.

And now I’m looking at the pictures of my husband eating ice cream with the kids after a walk around the lake (and getting his text messages saying that they are driving him insane)…and wishing I was there too.

School holidays are a struggle,  but maybe the forced time away from the usual routine is as good for me as it is for the kids.

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Making eating lunch special…

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My awesome Tupperware lunch bag…no, they don’t sponsor me… if only…maybe I would get my dream pantry #organisationbliss

Earlier this week I had such a lovely lunchbreak at work…

Hmm…doesn’t seem like something worthy of writing a blog post about does it.  But it really struck me today,  how important that little mini break in the middle of my day was.

It reminded me,  that back in the good old days…BC (before children)… a lunchbreak was something I did quite regularly.  Sure, I still spent many days shuffling food into my mouth whilst multi-tasking out an email or typing up a presentation.  But often I would also go and sit outside in our office garden,  or it would be someone or others birthday/farewell and we’d all be heading down to one of the local restaurants for a quick bite.   I even just had a flash back to taking walks in the forest behind our office…ahh, those were the days.

Yet, since I have had kids, those midday mini breaks have kind of gone out the window.

For me, I think partially the issue is working remotely.  No one to badger me away from my desk or to take on a little wander.

But more, I think it is because I have become a highly productive and streamlined machine since having children.   Taking time out of my day to simple eat, feels like time that has been wasted.  That could have been used to load the dishwasher,  watch a training video for work,  read my email.  Every minute, every hour counts.   Quite regularly I do walk the dog during the day (usually whilst listening to somekind of podcast…still loving my podcasts), which is a good little break from work…but it is still ticking off boxes on my never ending “to do” list.

So…earlier this week, I had arranged to meet a friend for lunch…god forbid…during my work day.  Not going to a restaurant, but just to eat our “packed lunch” together.   I headed out of the office on a beautiful sunny spring day.  The blue sky and sunshine instantly relaxed me.   I heard birds chirping (literally, where are these birds hanging, how come I never heard them before?) and start walking to our meeting spot.   I notice that there are a whole lot of people doing the same thing.  Released from the dark confines of their offices, they are spread out…soaking up sun, reading papers,  eating sandwiches.  There are even people playing a game of touch footy on the grass outside one building.  There is a great relaxed vibe in the air.

And we sat on a bench, chatting, laughing…eating… and by the time I headed back to the office, there was a lightness in my step.  I was truly refreshed and ready for my afternoon.

It is one of those things you hear all the time,  the importance of taking your breaks.  In some ways, it is hard to believe that such a simple step, can have such a big impact.  So it is easy to push it aside.

I feel like I’m always trying to make big changes in my life.  Learning and exploring new things,  looking for the “silver bullet” that is going to revolutionise who I am and what I achieve.   My mind is constantly buzzing (you’ve heard about my fun and games trying to meditate).

And yet usually, it is the little tiny, simple things that can have the biggest impact.   Like sitting in the sunshine and eating my lunch.   Which really isn’t that hard to do at all,  making me wonder why it has taken me so long to remember it.

When was the last time you had a lovely little lunch break?

claire2

P.s Enjoy my little musings? Hope you are subscribed via the webpage,  and feel free to pass it onto your unsuspecting friends..I always get a little buzz when someone new joins the tribe. 

The power of boundaries…

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This is where the phone belongs…in my OFFICE

Today I found myself trying to discuss a complex work situation with a senior leader, at the same time as picking my kids up from school.

As I jumped in alarm when the school bell went off above my head, and the cacophony of children released from the prison of school descended upon me…I gravely realised this was not going to work.  “err…sorry? did you just ask me a question?”  Undeterred by the obvious background noise, my work call continued…as I masterfully negotiated the “mute” button with one hand, whilst trying to hand signal instructions to my children and guide them to their bikes for the walk home…let’s just say this resulted in two things…a frustrated work colleague who doesn’t believe I’m listening properly (..no…really…I am…)..and frustrated kids who can’t understand why I’m no longer speaking just waving my arms around like some kind of mad woman.

This is what I like to call…an establishment of BOUNDARIES ….MASSIVE FAIL!

Before I had kids, I didn’t think much about my boundaries.  I guess that many of them were just ingrained so heavily I didn’t have to think about them (for example,  going to the toilet was something I did on my own..strange, I know)… and then others were dictated by the people around me (for example, work told me I needed to start work at 9am and finish work at 5pm, and the workplace culture taught me that I should start work at 8am and not finish before 6pm)….

But then the kids came along,  and all those boundaries started to get broken down.   Suddenly,  I found myself having lengthy conversations while I’m in the shower, or on the toilet (I mean seriously,  does my nakedness not suggest that now is not a good time to chat about plans for the birthday party next weekend?).   I also found myself trying to find quiet nooks in the house (hint:there are none) and put my head back into work mode, because I have made the mistake of  answering my phone on my day off.

It took me a while to realise that in order to create some kind of calm amongst my new chaos,  it was going to require taking control of my own boundaries and then learning to stick to them.  I realised that it was me that needed to help guide my colleagues around my boundaries, i couldn’t expect them to remember which days I was working or whether I was picking up the kids from school.

So now I have boundaries…for example,  never answer a work call in the evenings or on my days off, my answering machine tells them to send me a text message if it is urgent.  If that doesn’t happen, it can wait.  I pick up the kids from school twice a week,  so never agree to a work call or meeting that compromises that time.   No phones at dinner time. etc etc…

I do need to be flexible.  So sometimes, when things are hectic, I might need to break some of these rules.  Although it is a slippery slope, and once I start breaking one, I find myself breaking another.

Which is exactly what happened today.  Work has lots of priorities,  I’m struggling to fit them all into my day, so I’m letting them creep out…and the more I start to be “flexible’, the more I start thinking that I can push the boundaries further.   To the point where I’m thinking “I can manage a work call while I get the kids? That’ll work, I’ll just put my headset into the mobile, I won’t need to talk to the kids, they know the drill”.

Err….no….

This is not a juggling priorities/multi tasking win.  This is just a fail on all fronts.  So what was the point?

Time to get back to my boundaries.  It might mean sometimes I have to say “no” or not achieve something I would like to, maybe put someone else out a bit.. but that’s better than losing on both sides…right?

(Oh…and I’m still working on the toilet privacy thing…sigh)

claire2

Top tips for a smooth morning…or not…

www.freephotosbank.com
http://www.freephotosbank.com

You’ll all be pleased to know that my morning routine is now back in action.  If you recall,  daylight savings reeked havoc with my usual peaceful morning routine and it was driving me mad…literally (you can read about it here)

But thankfully, things have fallen back into place.

So I thought you might be wondering what my average morning routine looks like?  What tips and tricks you can perhaps learn from my experience?  So here it is,  in all it’s glory..,

6AM – Alarm goes off.  My husband begrudgingly drags himself out of bed,  curses that he has to go to work so early and promptly leaves the house.  I am sure that he imagines the rest of the household blissfully sleeping until 8am,  laughing over breakfast and then strolling (no…skipping..) to school.   But this is what really happens..

6.02AM  – Get out of bed.  Put exercise gear on.  Tip toe through the house with lights off, in vane effort to avoid waking the sleeping lions (if they are not already awake after elephant husband has stomped out of the house).   Trip over toys on the floor.  Nearly fall down stairs.

6.15AM – EXERCISE.  Can’t leave the house since said husband has already left.  Half heartedly start rowing, or put a DVD on.

6.30AM – The lions are awake. And they are circling.  “I’m hungry”, “When are you finished” “Can I have a go”.  I have learnt to block them out.

6.45AM – head upstairs.  Make daughter breakfast.  Decide son is old enough to make his old breakfast, tell him so.  Turn around to find him loading half a jar of Golden Syrup onto a burrito wrap.  “err…do you think perhaps some fruit and vegetable matter to balance out that sugar dear? ”  “Yes Mum, look, I have a bowl of Frozen peas”.  Okey dokey then.

7.00AM  Making lunch.  everything I put in, my daughter is taking out.  Time to get dressed.  Get son into the shower, he resists like it is the worst possible suggestion (like he doesn’t have one every morning) I just push him in.  2min later I’m trying to get him out…he is resisting like the shower was always his favourite thing in the world.  I turn the hot tap off.  Where are the clothes?  It is about this point I wish that my evening routine includes getting everything ready for the next day.  I know this is what wise and organised people do, but at the end of the day it is last thing I feel like doing. Now I am annoyed at myself as I frantically pull the house apart trying to find shoes, hats and other school required accessories.   Brush daughters hair and she screams like a banshee being stabbed to death.

7.30AM Trying to wrangle kids who have decided to play a game which involves taking blankets off the bed and trying to slide down the stairs.   At this point I’m questioning my decision not to have TV in the mornings.  We used to have TV, then we had no TV until “dispatch ready”…e.g clothed, fed, packed and ready to go as soon as i say “dispatch”..   I’m open to anything that works.  Right now,  we are on a “no tv in the morning” phase, due to the hell that was created last week when one was “dispatch ready” and the other wasn’t…don’t make me re-live the torture

8AM.  I’ve decided to ignore them.  I’m in the shower.  Bliss.  For 1min before they find me.  My daughter is complaining that her hair hurts.  My son is asking if he can play computer games (err…no…the same rule which applies  EVERY MORNING!).   If I shut my eyes I can block them out.

8.02AM  Open my eyes.   Kids have got the nail polish out and are painting each others nails (aka fingers).  I catch myself before I scream “what the? are you doing” at the top of my lungs.  “It doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter, it doesn’t matter”  it’s my new mindful mantra…are they even allowed to go to school with nailpolish?  I don’t think so but I don’t have time to care.   “Do you have any boy colours mum? like blue”   “there are no boy and girl colours dear,  you can choose pink”  …no gender bias in this house…kapow…I’m on fire.

8,20AM  Straddling the children on the floor, trying to blow dry my hair.  “Can you blow dry our nails?”.

8.25AM  $*&% just realised the time.  5min to get to the school bus.  Hit panic buttons…start clapping loudly and yelling “lets go lets go” .  everyone ignoring me   “where are you hats, where are your shoes?  Why are you not ready…you were ready before” .  I used to have a bell for this time of the day.  I walked around the house ringing it without saying anything.  It was quite effective.   Where is that bell?

8.30AM  Finally left the house.  Walking down driveway  “it’s library day today, do we have my book?”  “I need to do a poo”.   RUN back in the house.  Search frantically for the book.   wait for toilet completion.

8.35AM  Running down hill to the corner.   Sorry sorry…we are here.   Big Kisses.  Have a great day.

9.00AM  Sitting in my peaceful study with a cup of tea…ready to start my “real” work.

AND that my friends is how it is done. Learn from the master.

claire2

Headspace…you will not defeat me…

cropped-p10206502.jpgIf you haven’t already seen it,  there is this great little app called “headspace” which has step by step guided meditations (or as they say…”a gym membership for your mind”). It has little videos to help explain things and is a great app for getting started…plus you can download the first 10 session for free, sweet.  I’ve had the app for a while, and every now and again when I am feeling virtuous,  I have listened to one or two.

But in the spirit of my SLOW DOWN month (no idea what I’m talking about?  check out my previous blog here),  I decided to properly truly subscribe.  Not just for a month. Not for six months. But for a whole year.

Can you imagine how awesomely calm and in control I will be by the end of the year?

So, I’m prepped and ready to get in the zone. I only need 10mins.   Easy.  Right?  WRONG!  This is what actually has happened so far….

ATTEMPT 1:   My son has a friend over, and they are all happily playing a game.  I am folding the washing but when I remember about finding my 10min, I decide to seize this moment.  I sneak down to the bedroom and I lie down.  Actually this is lovely, can I have a nap instead?  No.  Focus Claire Focus.   I turn the app on, the voice is soothing, I am starting to relax.   I feel a tap on my shoulder.  “Can you take me home now, I don’t feel well”.   OK,  can’t really tell my sons friend he needs to wait.   Abandon ship today but we’ll be back.

ATTEMPT 2:  It is the next day, the kids are watching TV.   I once again tip toe away.   Just as I am “running a scan through my body to notice how I am feeling”,  I hear a hurde of elephants (aka children) coming down the corridor.  I decide not to move a muscle.  If I do not respond, surely they will go away.   “Mum” “mum”  “MUMMMMMM”.   Nothing from me,  I am relaxing here people can’t you see.   “What is wrong with her?” “Dunno?”.   My daughter starts hitting me on the head.  I am stoic..I am so zen.   I will not get annoyed.  “I think she might be dead”  hilarious laughter follows this comment..hmm  ” Wait. I KNOW!  she is doing one of those relaxation things,  we can’t disturb her”.  Smart boy!!! late but we got there.  “Mum, mum, mum, is that what you are doing? “.  OK…I give up…..eyes fly open (I think I freaked them)… “YES, YES that is what I am doing…and in future, please do not disturb me”.

ATTEMPT 3:  I have once again snuck away, but this time, I pre-warned the kids…”going to do that relaxation thing pumpkins…so are you going to be Ok for 10min”  “Yep mum”.   2min later, I sense my daughter coming into the room.  She climbs onto the bed,  but she doesn’t say anything. I try to pretend she is not there.  She lies next to me for a little bit.  Then rolls over me.  Then pokes me in the arm.   Still saying nothing though.  Eventually she gets up, I think to leave, but no… now she is trying to brush my hair.  Sigh… maybe tomorrow will be better?

ATTEMPT 4 :  I decide to wait until the kids are at school (I know, why did I not think of this before?).   I lie down on the bed, and I am in the zone.  It seems to be working. I’m feeling a sense of calm.   Then my phone rings (and to be clear, I am listening to this on an app on my phone, with headphones in,  so the ringtone comes shattering through my conscious).

%$&%^$*#%&  ARE YOU KIDDING ME!!!!!!    I AM NOT FEELING CALM.  WHEN WILL I START FEELING CALM!!?

Luckily for us all, I will not let this defeat me.  Stubborn determined Claire is out to play and I WILL do this.  I will succeed in spending 10min of my day just zoning out.   Universe, stop playing games with me….I got this…

claire2

Run away stress…

Yep..hot and sweaty really works for me!?!
Yep..hot and sweaty really works for me!?!

It’s early (very early) Saturday morning,  I can feel the sun heating my back and there is a cool breeze lightly touching my skin.  My ipod is softly playing my favourite tunes…I’m sucking in big beautiful deep breaths of fresh of air…and I feel….exhilarated…

Wind back the clock 6 hrs…here’s me…lying in the dark…WIDE AWAKE,  looking at the ceiling (well, i would have been if it wasn’t so dark).  I’ve woken up for no apparant reason and my mind has gone into overdrive.  It has been a long tough week, both professionally and personally.  I can feel the beautiful boundaries of my carefully balanced priorities starting to fall down like a stack of cards.   And I can’t quiet my mind.   Rushing through my head like a freight train, my thoughts are moving from one scenario to another.  Nothing useful, nothing helpful. Just replays of things that have happened and things that might happen.   They are jumping from one subject to another without finishing the thought before it.  It is completely unhelpful and frustrating, but it won’t stop…it just keeps spinning and spinning.

And my eyes are now completely open.

I try to stay completely still,  hope that my mind will take the hint and start to slow.  Each time I feel myself start to fall towards the bliss of sleep, the thoughts drag me back.  I decide to give up, to get up and start moving…be productive…fight the thinking.  But I roll over and see the time…3am…  I can’t do it…I have to stay.  And as the minutes tick by it feels like the night will never end.

And then my alarm goes off.  It is 6am.  Seriously?  was I asleep at last?…and now I am awake…yet again.   I drag myself out of the bed.  I am meant to be running this morning…but I can’t.  I’m too tired.  It has been too rough, i look longingly at my bed…at the calm contented face of my husband as he sleeps…and i just want to snuggle in next to him.

But..no…. I MUST go…

And somehow I make it.  I arrive to the organised run,  to find many others.  Laughing, chatting.  I hear people clapping an elderly couple doing their 50th run.  I see people with babies in prams, young people, old  people, people with dogs, a group of cancer support fundraisers.  I can do this.

I put my earphones in and I start to pound the pavement.  It hurts.  But it feels good.   The blood starts to pump through my veins and as it does, it pushes the stress out of every pore of my body. I feel tears in my eyes.  I’m so happy to be here…this feels so good.  I feel alive.  Right here, right now, all my worries are blown away.  In this moment, I can forget them.   The lady in front of me is struggling,  her partner comes back to hold her hand and get her through.   We can all do this.

And then it is done.  I am so very glad that I made it.

I arrive home and hear the chaos of the family…awake and charged.  But now I think  I can manage…maybe I can get through this tough week…see it through to the sunshine that I always hope is waiting for me on the other side..

claire2

Roadtrip…woohoo

Well…not a roadtrip exactly…but a work trip…on a plane!   Here’s a little post I wrote last week , stay tuned for the rest of the story next week!

I’m writing this post on a plane on the way to India.   I’m traveling to India for work to meet up with some of my team and run workshops.   And let me tell you people…I’m excited.

OK, so the lead up to this trip has been highly intense. As well as all my usual work, I’ve been up to the eyeballs with extra work in preparation for the trip.   I also have extra things to do at home, as I try to get things in order at home and make sure nothing significant is missed.

  • My husband is taking time of work to look after the kids. Check.
  • Visa and passport sorted. Check.
  • Re-arranged all the usual meetings and appointments. Check
  • Made a list of things that need to happen while I am gone. Check.
  • Food shopping completed to ensure no one starves in my absence. Check.

I have tried really hard this ti

me, to let go of the reigns a little more than usual.   I need to keep reminding myself that my husband is more than capable of handling things on his own. I suspect he might also be quite pleased to have all the control for a week…watch what he likes on TV and not to have to check in with me on things. Plus, he has taken time off work because his work aren’t quite flexible enough for him to juggling getting kids from school etc. So he’s getting his own mini break really.

But to be fair, I also don’t want to leave him totally high and dry.   I know what it feels like to be juggling things on your own. The novelty wears off pretty quick, so any prep I can help with eases my mother guilt about going away for a week for work.

And so here I am, on the plane.   All the prep work is behind me. I’m exhausted from my 5am wake up call…and I’m not even half way to my destination. I could just shut my eyes and sleep…

But here’s the wonderful part. I CAN! If I want to shut my eyes and sleep, I can.   I’ve just finished watching a movie. Someone just brought me my plastic meal on a tray, and I ate every morsel. I’ve been served a tea which I am sipping, whilst listening to my favourite tunes.

There are several families with children around me. A baby is crying.

And I can’t help feeling slightly smug that I don’t have to deal with it. Woohoo!

There is only me to worry about.   That for this week, I can just focus on one aspect of my life. Work. I might be juggling a whole lot of work priorities, but I won’t be making lunches or dinners, I won’t be washing , I won’t be driving children around to activities. I feel slightly guilty for feeling this way because I adore my children, my husband…,my life.

But I’m also going to appreciate this little mini break away from the usual. Take the opportunity to enjoy my book without interruption. I’m not going to curse at the lack of space, the delays and the waiting (OK, I might a little bit)…

The thought of finishing off exhausting, intense but fruitful and inspiring days at work, followed by bubble baths and early nights…feels….blissful…

Fingers crossed it pans out that way, otherwise my next blog post could be something…well…something entirely different.

Ahh...bliss
Ahh…bliss

claire2

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Need a sea change? Bah…humbug!

IMG_0162Welcome back everyone!    I’m pumped to be back in your inboxes and on your screens.  Woot woot, the New Year and so much new excitement ahead of us.

Was great to have a break, spend less time looking at the clock and more time doing some of the things I love (like cleaning out the cupboards…totally..more on that in a future post),  spending time with my family and friends.  And of course, a great time to do a little reflection on what is important.

So, I’m going to get on my soap box a little bit here.  Is anyone else sick of all the people going on about totally revolutionising their lives.   Quitting their dull corporate job to follow their lives passion and make millions while they are at it.  Sell their city house for a coastal retreat, so they can practice yoga and drink green smoothies all day.   Do we really need to completely up-end our lives to be happy?

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I am super envious of the people who I know in life who are truly passionate about something. Who recognised they were in the wrong job or with the wrong people and had the bravery and tenacity to jump into the unknown like a fearless warrior ready to unleash on life. You go girls.

But, for the majority of us,  we don’t actually need to make significant, crazy, leaps of faith in order to achieve what we want.  For many of us, we feel comfortable with the choices we made…although we might be a bit confused as to why we are not jumping out of bed each morning with boundless energy and enthusiasm for those choices.

So maybe what we need, is not a complete overhaul,  but just some tweaks around the edges.  Some filing of the sharp corners.

For me, there are a few things I try to be conscious of each day,  which help me to feel like I am following the right path and am in the right place for me.  And whilst I certainly don’t jump out of bed…it is more like a slow motion fall/clamber followed by a struggle to the teapot for a green tea hoping not to wake up the kids on my way through…I’m pretty happy with where I’m at right now.

Want to find your inner mojo? Here’s my top tips…

1) Understanding your strengths…and looking for opportunities to use this no matter what your job is.  I love doing questionnaires, so highly recommend the VIA Strengths survey.  It’s free and gives you some real insights about the kind of things that light the fire in your belly.

2) Look after your wellbeing.  The most important thing is consistency.  I love my life so much more on the days that I get up first thing in the morning and exercise.  Job done.  It’s amazing what a cascading effect it has on the rest of my day…I am far more like to eat well, be patient, be resilient.   This one thing which essentially is so simple…and doesn’t involve an organic juice revolution (although I have been known to enjoy the occasional green smoothie…don’t judge me)…is a key part of my everyday happiness.

3) Have fun.  What makes you laugh?  I hate it when people are too serious.  I find that people at work are generally pretty serious.  It is like you are not allowed to have fun and work at the same time.  But in my world, these things go hand in hand.  My favourite days are those which involve a little bit of silliness and laughter.  They can make a dull project shine like the sun.

4) Reflect on your direction.  Take time to reflect on where you are at and where you want to be.  Whether you are disciplined enough to meditate every day,  or once a week you grab a cup of tea and a list.  Or maybe once a month you pull together a vision board.  Whatever is your thing, it doesn’t matter, as long as you take time to reflect on what you want the future you to look like and to think about the little fairy steps you take every day to get there.  Again, this is NOT necessarily about huge life changing goals, but simply taking time out of the busyness of every day life to reflect on where you are at.

And I’ll leave you with a great quote from my Lorna Jane (yep…love her)…lets get this 2015 party started!

“You don’t have to live an extraordinary life, you just have to live your ordinary life in an extraordinary way”

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P.S I reserve the right to change my mind at any point, and may in the future be raving about the joys of giving up your corporate career, living in a caravan and home schooling your children…I’m sure it would be amazing…

Are you really busy?

This morning I was running around like a headless chook (as usual),  I’ve managed to do my exercise (tick),  get the lunches ready (tick), tidy the house (tick) dropped the kids on the school walking bus (tick) and now I’m at work and my mind is buzzing.  I have about 20 screens open on my computer (literally), although I have two screens so surely that’s not too bad?  I have every social platform open, plus a few other websites and my personal email.  Then my work email, plus my work messaging system.  Powerpoint, Word and Excel are all open with a least one file on each (Excel has two), and the media player is on because i started to watch a video then got distracted.

There’s pinging and popping coming from several devices and my to do list is buried under a pile of…who knows what…

Phew…I’m exhausted just writing about it.

Suddenly I’m hearing little whisperings in my head….I think it’s Emma.  Yep,  its Emma.

Recently I had the pleasure of attending a seminar at work, led by Emma Grey from WorkLifeBliss on the 7 types of busy.   I loved it.  OK, so first confession is that I was already a fan of Emma’s,  I’ve been following her blog for a long time now and completed her 15min Challenge program.  So I was super excited when I had the opportunity to attend this session through my work.

Whilst there is so many things in today’s hyperdriven culture that we can’t control,  there are also a lot of things that we can…and sometimes we dig our own holes (well…she didn’t exactly say that but that’s totally what I do…I’m a great digger).

Anyway, since that call, “Emma” has been showing up quite a lot in my conscious, reminding me of some of the tips and tricks I should perhaps be following.   Like every “good conscious” does,  she’s sitting on my shoulder reminding me about the importance of being focused,  and not multi-tasking so much…because frankly, pretty much NO ONE is a good multi-tasker.

I remember a friend talking about going for a job interview as a Air Traffic Controller once.   And part of the preliminary testing was giving the candidates four different exams,  then each time the buzzer went, they had to change exams,  PLUS,  there were also some verbal questions which were randomly thrown over the loud speaker.  It is designed to test how well your brain can effectively multi-task, picking up exactly where you left off from an exam 10min earlier.   Needless to say, they failed that test, and I think most of us would.

Right now, Emma is telling me to shut down some of the apps on my computer.  To find that to-do list and change it to a “could do” list…and find those big hitter items which I really actually need to get done…So… now I’ve set myself a timer. 30min on the first task before I moved onto the next one.   Tick.   Next.   Oh my goodness,  i suddenly feel so much better.  All the overwhelm I had been feeling earlier has started dropping away.  I feel like I am back in the drivers seat and in control (and we all know how much I love control).

So, thank you mini Emma, for turning up again and getting me back on track with your little tips and tricks.  Of course, Evil Claire on my other shoulder (who shalt not be named) is now weeping because we haven’t checked facebook in over an hour…she’s not happy…but we’ll talk about her another day….

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