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.

The Girl’s Guide to Car Safety*

Let’s be honest, many sectors of society grow up within the confines of personal stereotypes. For women, we can be seen as the weaker sex, somewhat materialistic, and terrible with cars. But who says we need to live within these restrictions!

I grew up with a fascination for cars. When I came of driving age I was fortunate enough to be able to take driving lessons and then pass in a car of my own. Though the story isn’t always the same for all of us, the joy of being able to drive, and the freedom that comes with driving is something that most people love about having that pink driving licence. The freedom to take off and explore is an amazing gift that comes after the hard work of learning to drive.

Yes, we’re taught how to drive from A to B, but unless you have a mechanic for a friend or family member, the lessons tend to stop there. Throughout my 7 years of driving I’ve had to learn some lessons the hard way, and others (thankfully) through others. So, if I can be a part of helping you to avoid some potential issues with your car then I am more than happy to be of service! And these aren’t only tips for those who have a car of their own. If you know anyone who drives, they should be aware of these things too: if their car is safe, then your journey should be safe too.

So, let’s go back to the basics and talk tyres. When you’re sat in the comfort of the car it’s easy to forget the fact that the only thing making contact with the road is your four tyres. They’re crazily important, so how can you look after them and make sure that they’re safe? Here are 3 important things to look out for with your tyres…

The Right Tyre

The first thing you need to be sure of is that the tyre is the right one. It sounds so simple that many people don’t consider this. Ensuring that you have the right tyre for your car is absolutely essential. A good car garage will be able to source the perfect tyre for your car with only a few key pieces of information, and many will fit them for you on site. Some companies, such as Point S, can even locate a tyre for you via their website. All you have to do is type in either your car registration number or tyre size to look up the choices of tyre brands available to be reserved for a fitting at one of their branches. You can book your car tyres at Point S with their simple reservation system… All from the comfort of your own home.

Tyre Pressure

You can’t always tell whether your tyres are adequately inflated just by looking but under-inflated and over-inflated tyres are something that you need to monitor. Having the correct tyre pressure will reduce the risk of you losing control of your car. Even if the results aren’t so drastic, you could be making irreparable damage to internal build of your car… which could mean large amount of money needing to be spent at a later date. For the sake of a few minutes, you should be checking your tyre pressure on a monthly basis.

Tread Depth

The tread depth on the tyre relates to the distance between the top of the tread to the grooves in a tyre. The more tread, the more grip your tyres will have in wet conditions. Though we’re in the beautiful Spring months if you live in Britain like I do, you’ll know all too well how quickly the rain can come, so it’s important it is to check your tread depth on a regular basis. The legal limit for tread depth in the UK is 1.6mm which is the absolute minimum that they should be. Generally the recommendation is to change your tyre when the tread depth reaches 3mm, which could already be affecting the safety of your car. Again, a fantastically easy way of reserving the correct tyre for your car is to visit the Point S website.

So how do you measure the tread depth? You can either purchase a tread wear indicator or use a 10p piece. The distance from the edge to the raised dots is perfectly sized at 1.6mm. Place the coin inside the tread, if the dots disappear, your tyre needs changing.

 

So there we are, quick and easy tips for taking care of your tyres in just 3 ways. Let’s break the stereotype that ladies don’t know much about cars… It doesn’t have to be complicated.

 

*This post is in collaboration with Point S Tyres. All words and opinions are my own.

No Regrets

I used to be the person who would sit back and cringe at the memories of things I’d said or done days, weeks, or even months before. The choices that I’d  made would sometimes play on my mind in my waking and sleeping hours. Had I made the right decision? Should I have taken that opportunity? Why on earth did I say ‘yes’ to that?

Some decisions seem right in the moment but then the gift of hindsight pays a visit, and you realise that the decision you thought had been carefully considered may not have been so well thought through. That pro-con list should have had one more pro on it, for instance.

After years of being ‘that person’ I became content with the fact that some decisions once made cannot be reversed. A word once said, cannot be taken back. But that’s okay. If in the moment the choice to do something or not was the right choice for you, then a change of mind later on doesn’t make that an action to regret. Instead the memory becomes a lesson to be learnt. The next time you’re asked the same question or given a similar two options to choose from, you’ll have previous experience to guide your response.

No regrets, just lessons learnt.

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.

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!