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.

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!