The Importance of You

Time at evenings and weekends are becoming more and more valuable to me. The Monday to Friday rat race can be a hard slog at times, but having an evening of pampering to yourself can be that one reward at the end of a long week to look forward to.

My pamper evenings tend to take place on a Sunday evening and consist of a warm, bubbling bathtub, a room of scented candles and a chance to finally paint my nails.
There’s a fantastic quote from Eleanor Brownn, a Self-Care Expert, Speaker and Author, which goes a little like this: “Rest and self-care are so important. When you take time to replenish your spirit, it allows you to serve others from the overflow. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” I find this quote quite profound. So often we spend our time thinking of others. Asking ‘what can I do?’ ‘How can I support you?’ Offering to lend a hand so that the other person’s burden is light. But what about us. By us I mean me. Me and you. What about ourselves? From a young age any good parent teaches you the importance of putting others first. Treating others as you would like to be treated if you will. These are valuable lessons that everyone should learn and live by. But there’s another important lesson that we so often forget to pay attention to: The Importance of You.
Focusing your attention on others is a wonderful privilege that can fulfil many people. But humour me for a moment. Take a second to think of yourself as a barrel. A barrel full of good deeds, intentions, and time. Every time we step out and spend a moment on someone else you open the barrel stop and out flows some of these elements. There’s nothing wrong with this, and I hope it doesn’t come across like I am discouraging emptying your vessel into a pit of nothingness. It’s nothing like that at all. The point that I am trying to make is that none of us have an unlimited amount of time, or patience, or good practices. I would like to think that I spend more of my life giving to others than myself. But that barrel will soon become empty if we do not take time out to restock the barrel.
It doesn’t take a genius to work out that once the barrel becomes dry there is no more that you can give.

So how do you ensure that you always have something to give? By taking time out to focus on the importance of you. Set some time aside every day, or one a week if that’s more realistic for you, to do something that will restock your barrel. Half an hour in the morning to read a chapter in your favourite book. A Wednesday evening spent painting your nails. Or a Sunday morning jog that you’ve been meaning to do for the past few weeks. For me it involves taking my camera and going for a walk somewhere scenic. A couple of hours spent with only nature as company is the perfect environment to relieve the stresses of life and focus on something other than the busyness of life. Why? Because realising the Importance of You means giving back to yourself that which you have given to others.

Making the Most Out of Your Work Day

Believe it or not, there are people out there who only ever work their contracted hours but still manage to exceed expectations in what they manage to deliver. Believe it or not, there are people out there that dare to leave the office as soon as the clock strikes 5pm. Believe it or not, there are even people daring enough to keep their evenings and weekends completely free for a selfish dose of ‘me time’. I know, crazy right?

So many of us just aren’t able to complete our work within the allotted time period and are left feeling as though we have to stay in the workplace later and later each week. I used to be this person as a rule. Now, I’m this person as an exception. Rarely do I work over my contracted hours. I even dare to take back time on a Friday afternoon if I don’t have any further work to do. How? Because I live and work smart… not hard.

Some people have the ability to just get things done. Inside and out of a working capacity. Others, can only reach their goals and action those tasks when they extend their days and stresses. The question I ask, is this: If some can achieve what they set out to without driving themselves beyond capacity, then why can’t everyone? If this really does come down to working smart, rather than hard, then what does this look like in practice?

Working smart, rather than hard, is sometimes easier said than done, but I believe that with a few small changes we can all be on the way to working less but achieving more.

Reflect on the Day Just Gone

Certainly within a work context, one of the greatest stresses can be not knowing what you managed to achieve that day. Spending 8 hours at work and not having done anything is a real challenge. Even the laziest of us would be too bored not to work. But there are certainly days when it seems like you haven’t achieved anything. Taking 10 minutes at the end of the day to look back at what you have managed to complete is a great way of relieving that stress.

Set a Bedtime

I don’t mean to sound like a pushy parent, but at all ages having a set bedtime can be a perfect end to a day. This goes hand in hand with my next point, leading you towards sleeping for a set number of hours each night. Scientific evidence shows that most people need 6-8 hours of sleep per night to truly rejuvenate the mind and body enough to be productive during the daytime. Getting in to a good sleeping routine is a great place to start.

Ban the Snooze Button

I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t like to snooze. There seems to be a joy in setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier purely so that you can sleep for an extra 10 minutes. This not only doesn’t make any logical sense, but it also doesn’t help you to start the day well. Your body sleeps in 2 hour patterns and that ‘extra’ 10 minutes can end up having the opposite effect then you hoped for, as your body fights to stay in its sleep cycle. Set your alarm for when you need to get out of bed and stick to it. It really does make a difference to your day when you don’t try to stall it.

Utilise Your Mornings

There are some things we have to do with our mornings: wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, make our way to work. The repetitive process takes longer for some than others. Many pf us don’t manage to achieve much more than making it out of the door on time. An article from BusinessInsider  shows us what times 21 successful people wake up at and what the get up to in those early hours. Most exercise (we’ll come on to that), and all make the most out of the early, quieter hours.

Prepare For the Week Ahead

Though you wouldn’t expect me to tell you to work on the weekend I do think that there’s a time and a place for planning the week ahead. Spending half an hour to think about what you need to do before you hit your desk on Monday morning can work wonders for someone that would usually spend the first hour or so pondering where to start. Dedicating a small part of your weekend to planning your Monday morning can also be a great way to plan your week before the distractions from the office, emails and phone calls start.

Pursue Your Passion

In the busyness of life it can be easy to forget to spend time on the things you’re really passionate about. I love this quote from an unknown source

“Don’t work 8 hours for a company then go home and not work on your own goals.”

It’s easy to fall in to the trap of working really hard for your company but not on your own personal passions. Making time to completely leave the workplace behind you and focusing on something you truly love can make a surprising difference to your productivity. Instead of resenting your job, you learn the art of a work life balance in which you can leave work at the office door and enjoy your free time that you work so hard to deserve.

Exercise

Exercise releases endorphins in your brain that make you feel happy. These endorphins are the same natural chemical that we realise when we fall in love. There are more benefits to exercising than weight loss or staying in shape. It’s a fantastic way of boosting productivity throughout the day, helping you to get your work done faster. LiveStrong reveals that one way exercise can help boost productivity at work is through alertness. When you exercise blood flow to the brain increases, which can help to sharpen your awareness and make you more ready to tackle your next big project.

So why not give some of these lifestyle changes a go and see if you can Make the Most out of Your Work Day.

10 Things to do on a Lazy Sunday

How do you choose to spend your lazy Sundays? It’s a rare occasion that I get to take a whole Sunday out for myself and so when I do, I want to make sure that I don’t waste it. I tend to enjoy a mixture of physical activities and something at a much slower pace to help me to relax. Finding a way to feel refreshed and rejuvenated  ahead of a busy week is always the aim of a lazy Sunday.

‘A Sunday well spent brings a week of content.’

Here are 10 ways that I’d choose to spend a lazy Sunday. There’s something for all:

Have a Movie Day – Sit back and enjoy one of your favourite movies, or why not watch that film you’ve been meaning to watch for a while.

Cook Up a Storm – Are you a sweet or savoury person? Whatever you enjoy to make and eat the most, a Sunday is a perfect chance to dust off those cookery books and make something delicious.

Create an At Home Spa Day – With so many fantastic skincare products on the market at the moment, creating a spa environment in the comfort of your own home couldn’t be easier. Select or make a face mask of your choice, light a few candles, turn on some relaxing music and run a nice warm bubble bath. Sit back, relax and enjoy.

Get Organised – A lazy day can provide a great opportunity to get organised for the week. I like to take my diary and make sure that I know where I’ll be during the week, make a to do list and plan my gym sessions in.

Gentle Exercise – Exercise releases serotonin in the brain which has been scientifically proven to maintain mood balance. On a lazy Sunday you don’t need to go for a 10 mile run, but you can do some gentle exercises at home. Exercise such as Yoga or Pilates is a great way to destress or a lazy day while getting the recommended 30 minutes of exercise.

Meal Preparation – If you’re like me, once the week starts it can be difficult to prepare my healthy lunches to take to work with me. A Sunday can be the perfect opportunity to bulk prepare your meals, to be put in the fridge or freezer, labelled and ready for the week ahead.

Start A Dream Board – There’s nothing wrong with day dreaming. In fact, it can be a free activity. To start a dream board all you need is some paper, old magazines or newspapers, pens and glue. This could be the platform for you to lay the foundation of a big project or a viable business.

Be Creative – I don’t usually find the time or the head space to let my creative side go wild. You can try something new or something that you ordinarily seldom do such as painting, collage making, crafts, sewing or DIY.

Get Lost in a Book – I have many good books that I’ve been meaning to read but have never gotten around to. A Sunday afternoon can be a perfect chance to sit down and enjoy a good read.

Skype a Friend or Relative – Life’s busy. It’s easy to get caught up in the day to day busyness of the week and not find time to catch up with those that are far away. Why not Skype or call a friend or relative for a good ol’ catch up.

 

What do you get up to on a lazy Sunday?

Time is Money | #SavingSeason

“Time is Money”. The phrase is usually accredited to Benjamin Franklin but is challenged by others. Who said it exactly isn’t really the point of this post. When the words were first popularised Franklin spoke of time being valuable. It’s the most valuable asset that you have, priceless if you will. No matter how rich we become we’ll never be able to buy more than we’ve been given. But today I want to flip this around to help us in the quest of reaching those savings goals as a part of the #SavingSeason.

As I’ve said many times before, I have a soft spot for beautiful things. There’s nothing wrong with that. I work hard and choose to treat myself when I can. But imagine this scenario for a moment if you will: You’ve worked for a full month. Earned a full wage of £1000. Your manager comes to your desk and tells you that instead of paying you this month, she’ll give you a new handbag totalling the £1000 you were expecting. Would you accept a handbag instead of your wage? Would a handbag pay your bills, or put petrol in your car? No. Yet we choose to exchange a month of working hard without giving a high priced decision as much time as it deserves.

This may be an extreme example but think of it as a more frequent decision that we make every day. Would you say no to an hour’s wage for a high street coffee and panini? Would you swap a day’s pay for that new foundation and lipstick?

I should say that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with choosing to spend your hard earned money in any way that you choose. We all do it. But if you think of your purchases in terms of hard worked time that you’ll never get back you’d be amazed at how your decision making starts to change. A good practice to get into is to start thinking of your purchases in terms if time rather than money. Exchanging 2 hours for this, and 15 hours for that.

I bought a handbag a few weeks ago that I’d been contemplating purchasing for months. Did I save up for it myself? Yes. Did I pay the bills that needed paying before making the purchase? Yes. Do I (in my own way) deserve it? Yes. After buying it with over 100 hours of my time will I keep it?… Good question.

7 Habits of Successful Savers | #SavingSeason

Continuing with the #SavingSeason I thought I’d review some habits of successful savers. Bad habits are difficult to lose, but it’s easy to pick up a new habit with only a few changes in your mindset. I assume that you’re reading this post because you’re keen to start saving? I’m glad that you’ve made this decision because the changes you make to your saving habits now will determine how you spend the rest of your financial future… no pressure!

Here are some habits that you can start implementing today:

1. Be Proactive.

The first thing you need to do is decide that you want to save! Sounds simple, but without it you won’t begin to save. You may not have any debt or financial worries but if you start saving now in an unforeseen circumstances you’ll have something to fall back on. Don’t wait until you need the money, start now. For those in a place of debt, facing up to this fact is the first step of being proactive. It’s not a point to dwell on, but time to start doing something about it.

2. Have A Goal In Mind.

Once you’ve decided that you’re going to start saving the next step is to  set a goal. You may be trying to pay off debt, wanting to buy your first designer handbag, or saving for a deposit for a house. When you know how much you want, or need to save you can work back from here.  You can concentrate on a concrete goal so write it down somewhere that you can go back to as a reminder.

3. Put A Number On It.

If you know what you’re saving for, you’re likely to be able to put a specific number on how much you want to save. Having a goal to ‘save loads’ isn’t enough to hold yourself to. Be specific. No matter how long it’ll take you to reach the number, work out how much you are working towards so you can stick to it.

4. Prioritise Your Saving.

You need to make saving a priority. It’s far too easy to go out and buy that item you don’t really need if you haven’t put saving on your list of priorities. You may also have have multiple savings goals that need to be prioritised individually. If you have debt, prioritise this ahead of making a luxurious purchase. Once you know what’s important you know what to prioritise and what you can do without.

5. Remember, Every Little Bit Adds Up.

‘Every little helps’ isn’t jut a catchy jingle by Tesco, it’s true. You may only be able to save a few pounds each week but that few pounds will get you closer to your savings goal then saving nothing each week. £5 a week may not seem like a lot but if you stuck to this goal you’d be saving £260 a year, and that’s before you consider the interest paid on saving accounts. Consider saving £10 a week, which is equal to saying no to a couple of specialist coffees, and you’d be saving over £500 without much effort at all. It’s the small things that go toward making a big difference.

6. Track and Review.

Saving is great, but you need to have a way of tracking how much you have managed to save and how much you have left to save too. Tracking your savings can be a way to motivate yourself to keep going and provides a platform to review how well you are doing. I choose to do this with an Excel spreadsheet which shows how much money I have in my bank accounts this month and then compares to last month’s balance. There are a range of apps that also help you to track your savings along the way. Or if you’re a pen and paper kind of person then keep a pad in a safe place to track and review your progress regularly.

7. Make Saving Easier.

‘That’s easy for you to say’ I hear you shouting! But a few small changes will actively make it easier to save by making it inconvenient for you to spend. Setting up a separate savings account is one way to do this. If your wage goes into a current account, you can set up a standing order that sends a fixed amount to another account the day after pay day. I can’t access my saving account without going to my high street bank and asking for the money in person. This is a perfect deterrent for me as the effort isn’t worth the £20 that I really don’t need to spend.

The 7 habits may not be a shock to you, and they shouldn’t be. These are simple changes to your everyday thinking that will help you towards meeting your saving goals throughout 2017.

Do you have any habits that have helped on the journey of successful saving?

 

 

The #SavingSeason

It’s January already… can you believe it? Christmas is over and New Year greeted us with a bang. The festive period can be a costly one as we want to excite others with the treasures that we’ve found for them. I’m always tempted to leave my Christmas shopping until the Boxing Day sales where the same gifts could be half price, but in reality the look on a loved one’s face on the big day is worth the full cost of the gift.

January is a time that we make Resolutions to improve ourselves and different parts of our lives. Coming out of the expensive season, one Resolution that I believe we could all make is to set and meet some savings goals. With this is mind, I’m declaring January at naomisophia.com the #SavingSeason!

Over the next month my posts will be dedicated to saving, budgeting and all things practical to help you reach you savings goals in 2017. I promise to not hit you with hard financial information that would bore even the keenest saver, but rather, I’ll offer some practical advice that I’ve found helpful in the past to meet my savings goals. This won’t be a month of telling you that you can’t spend even a penny, but rather, how to make sensible choices to save while still doing you.

I’ve always been a keen saver. The warm, excited feeling that you may get when you see or buy a beautiful handbag, or luxury beauty product, is the same feeling that I get as I watch my bank balance grow. You may ask, ‘how can you talk about spending while also telling me to save?’ or ‘does saving really fit in with your blog when your previous posts are encouraging me to buy?’. They’re valid questions that I considered before launching the #SavingSeason. Unless you’re in serious debt, I don’t believe that spending and saving have to be exclusive. You can buy what you need while also reaching your savings goals and this is what I hope to convey throughout the month of January.

So, if you’ve resolved to hit a savings target in 2017, or think that maybe you should, then stick with me throughout the #SavingSeason!

 

 

 

2017 Resolutions | Looking Forward

I started writing this post so long ago. Then stopped because who else but me needs to know my resolutions, right? Then started again before deleting it once and for all. Now I’m back because although I’ve never kept a well intentioned resolution before, I’ve decided that 2017 really will be the best year yet. To accomplish this I have only one resolution: Be The Best Me. Simple.

Now obviously there’s more to the resolution then just four words and I’ve chosen to detail this more. I think it’ll be interesting to look back on this post in a few months, or at the turn of 2018 (!) to see if I’ve manged to keep this resolution.

“His resolve is not to seem, but to be, the best.”

Aeschylus

Being ‘the best me’ can mean so many things and I’m sure that if I asked you what it would mean in your life you’d pick something I hadn’t thought of. I’ll break it down in to three points that I really  need to focus on this year if I’m going to achieve the ultimate goal of being the best I can be. They all focus around being healthier in three different parts of my life:

Healthy Mind

This is something that I struggle with on a day to day basis, because I enjoy losing myself in the busyness of the day. I rarely take time out to reflect on the day, week or month that passed. My mind is always a couple of hours ahead of the moment that I’m physically in and so firstly for me, a healthy mind starts with learning how to enjoy the moment. To be able to switch off my brain enough that I can enjoy the company of those around me without zoning out to make plans for the future or review the past.

The second thing I resolve to do this year is take some intentional time out. I once read about a respected man who who spent a weekend every year away in the countryside, alone. He would read and journal while stepping outside of his busy day to day. He was a successful man with many businesses and a happy family but this one weekend a year ensured that he kept his life in balance. I’ve been meaning to force myself to take some time out for a couple of years now but never have… I will this year.

Healthy Body

This is a simple one to promise myself but probably the hardest one to carry out. ‘The diet starts on Monday’ but Monday never comes. Does that sound familiar to you? My goals have always been to lose a stone here or there for a party or holiday. I usually start a fad diet that doesn’t last much longer then a month and then give up, resulting in the lbs making their way right back to where they once were. This year I want to achieve a healthy body through balance. No fad. No quick fix. Just a good old fashioned move more and eat less. First step, signing up to the gym again tomorrow.

 

Healthy Spirit

The most important thing to me is my faith. You may or may not know that I’m a Christian and this point fits alongside that somewhat but for 2017 a healthy spirit really focuses on finding people with a similar drive in faith and life. I want to get settled in a Church and develop my friendships there. I want my existing relationships to grow. And in turn, I want to find out more about myself. How exactly this point will play out throughout 2017 I don’t know, but that’s a part of the journey right?

 

So, that’s my big resolution for 2017 and how I would break it down in to a more manageable three. I’m really determined to succeed in a resolution for the first time ever, but I won’t be beating myself up if I have a momentary slip.

I’ll be sure to keep you updated though… Have you made any resolutions for 2017?

Welcoming 2017

Happy New Year to you all!

I  hope you all had a wonderful evening bringing in 2017 however you chose to do so. I spent the evening at The Comedy Store in Manchester with one of my best friends. As two singletons we had an incredible evening of belly laughing, pizza and Prosecco at midnight! If you’re ever in Manchester you should be sure to catch a show.

I wanted to write a short post to say a huge thank you to all of you who have been reading my blog since I started in September. I finally made the decision to get my blog up and running and have had such a great time in the few months that I’ve been online. This year I endeavour to keep up with both, producing interesting content that you want to read and engage with. I’ll be setting some specific blogging goals in a future post but for now I just wanted to extend a special thank you.

If you’re reading this, then you’re amazing!

Love Naomi x

 

P.S. If you haven’t already, check out my latest post: What I Learnt in 2016

 

 

What I Learnt in 2016

Well, well, well. Can you believe that 2016 has come to an end? It’s been a great year with many a twist and turn but I’ve loved so many moments. As I sit and reminisce I recall plenty of happy moments spent with friends and family, old and new. I feel satisfied with what I have achieved, the adventures I have been on, and the memories that I’ve made. I tip my hat to 2016 and look back with a fond farewell.

I started the second year of my Graduate Scheme, moved 200 miles away from home, visited Dubai with my girlfriends, travelled to Rome alone and finally set the foundations for naomisophia.com. It’s been a big year and I’m only excited for what 2017 has to bring. But before I move on to the next chapter, I think it’s important to take a moment and look back at what I learnt in 2016.

untitled

1. There’s nothing wrong with doing nothing.

This is something that I seriously struggled with earlier on in the year, and for many years before 2016. I need to be busy and when I’m not I associate doing nothing with being lazy. What I’ve learnt is that doing nothing doesn’t have to be passive, but is actually a verb, which requires action. We all need to take time out to rejuvenate ourselves in order to be effective when we are on the go.

2. It’s okay to say no.

No, no, no, no, no! That’s how comfortable I am with the word now. For years I was somewhat of a yes man. Not to please people all of the time but because I like to be the person a friend or colleague can go to for help and support. Here’s the first lesson: you can’t be the go to person all the time, and that’s okay. Here’s the second lesson: it’s okay to not want to do what you’re being asked. It’s hard to say no, but when you do you you’ll be proud of your strength.

3. I don’t need to be surrounded by people to have a good time.

This ties in with the first point somewhat. I’m an extrovert who enjoys the company of others. I come away from spending hours with friends feeling reinvigorated but I’ve learnt to truly love my own company this year. I wrote ‘Spending Time Alone & Enjoying Every Moment‘ afters surprisingly loving a full weekend without seeing my friends.

4. A good friend deserves a good friend.

I’ve uttered the words ‘I really don’t understand why she wants to be my friend’ many times. After uttering them earlier on this year I decided to reflect on why I felt that way. Deep down I knew that I wasn’t giving my friends the attention that they deserved, yet I expected them to be there whenever I was ready for them. I don’t believe that they picked up on this but it’s the small things that can speak the loudest.

5. Good things happen when you say yes to adventure.

Adventure won in 2016! I went to Dubai on my first girls holiday and then took a solo trip to Italy where I met some great people and have a great experience. Saying yes can be scary, but the adventures you have as a result are worth taking the plunge for.

6. Quality over quantity.

I carry this lesson across many parts of my life but this year I’ve applied it to friends and beautiful things. It’s simple really, I’ve learnt to appreciate having smaller amounts of the aforementioned, knowing that they’ll last and remain special to me, rather than having so many that I don’t have the time or inclination to enjoy them as much as I should.

7. (Almost) nothing worth having comes easy.

I had to add the almost because I’ve been blessed enough in some areas that they have come relatively easily, but this isn’t the case for everything this year. I’ve had to fight for what I truly want and work hard to keep it working well. Take naomisophia.com for example. Can I be honest? I thought it’d be a heck of a lot easier then it has been! Juggling consistent, engaging and relevant content alongside a YouTube channel, work, family, friends and other goals is time consuming and hard. So worth it, but hard.

8. Dream big.

No goal is too great for you to achieve. You have a whole lifetime to achieve some things and a shorter period for others, but always keep the dream alive.

9. Surround yourself with ambitious people.

Believe it or not I don’t know it all, not yet. I do know what I want out of life and think that it’s important to be around others with similar goals who will push you forward and toward the goal rather than talk you out of it or to hold you back.

10. Keep your eye on the goal.

Last but in no way least, and a lesson I need to keep on learning. If you know what you want then you can achieve it. When you take your eye off the ball, you can forget where you’re heading, so stay focused and keep moving towards it.

 

I’m sure that I’ve learnt even more then the ten lessons I’ve explored here, and I’ll keep on learning throughout the new year. What lessons are you taking away from 2016?

My Christmas Wish List | BLOGMAS

Christmas is a great time for giving and I think it’s important to remember that there’s more to life then what we receive on Christmas Day. But (I bet you knew that a ‘but’ was coming) Christmas is a time when we are allowed to let our imaginations run wild and are able to ask for the things that we may never usually buy for ourselves. It may be an age thing but my list now genuinely includes socks, which I would never usually buy for myself, no matter how boring that makes me! I’m also a girl that knows what she would love to receive and I’ve decided to let you in on my Christmas wish list. It’s a real mix of wants. From high end to high street, realistic to unattainable, useful to purely aesthetic. So here goes…

christmas-wishlist

Prada Saffiano Cuir Double Bag

Cluse La Vadette Mesh Watch

Hunter Original Refined Gloss Wellington Boots

Diptique Figuier Scented Candle

Topshop Knit Leather Gloves

Topshop Biker Jacket

Real Techniques Ultimate Gift Set

La Mer Lip Balm

NARS Dual Intensity Rigel Eyeshadow

Makeup Revolution Fortune Favours the Brave

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner

Eat Beautiful by Wendy Rowe

A note to my parents: Any of the above gifts will be gratefully received 😉