The big spring clean

The big spring clean

I love this time of the year. Spring always makes me want to organise and tidy all the random stuff I collect over the year and get ready for the summer. Although we don’t really have a summer here in Glasgow it is lovely to start with afresh. So over the last couple of weeks I’ve been spring cleaning my life. I’ve been setting aside a couple of hours a day to  tackle one thing at a time. 

It’s the perfect time to put away my winter wardrobe (although it was still snowing in Scotland a week ago). I put my clothes into piles; a ‘keep’, ‘havent worn in a year’ and ‘worn out’ pile. I put the keep clothes back in my wardrobe and threw out the worn pile. This just left the ‘havent worn in a year’ pile to be sorted. Of course there were still like clothes I liked or had some sentimental the rest I decided to give to charity or sell. I repeated it for my jewellery, shoes and makeup as well. 
It’s great I almost halved my wardrobe and rediscovered clothes I still love but haven’t worn in ages. The good news is I now have space in my wardrobe for some new clothes!

I should definitely sort out my laptop more often, I’ve decided to set aside a day a week to clean out my desktop and downloads folder. It took me ages to sort out all the junk. 
I’m deleting lots of photo’s from my computer. I realised that I hardly ever relook at old pics so they just stay clogging up my disk space so I deleted the repeated files, blurry pics and ones I don’t like . It was quite nice to go through them again and see the memories.
I also filed away the hundreds of stuff on my desktop and I also sorted out all my cloud storage, deleting repeated files, making large photoshop files smaller and organising personal and work stuff. Then I backed up everything with my hard drive to be safe.

I’ve been quite good with reading or deleting incoming emails and keeping my inbox clear so spring cleaning my emails has mostly meant unsubscribing and deleting accounts from things I no longer use, although some are impossible to leave (uber). I searched for unsubscribe in my mailbox and whenever I receive an email from something I signed up randomly to and don’t want anymore I unsubscribe. 

I’m now doing a similar process with around the flat. Sifting through letters, drawing equipment and loads of other things. I’ve been filing and reorganising storage and buying new bedding and other things just to spruce up the house. 

The biggest thing is that it takes time to spring clean but it’s totally worth it! Let me know if you have any more tips :). 
Productivity Challenge Update/ April Productivity Challenge

Productivity Challenge Update/ April Productivity Challenge

My March Productivity Challenge has been a failure. I was going to write an excuse, that it’s been a hectic month, I started a new freelance job, left my service job, finished my community arts course… But in all honesty, I just didn’t push myself enough to achieve my productivity goals for March

But its not all bad. I did start using some tools to help me be realistic with how I spend my time. I got a diary like Conni explains in her blog Freelance Muscle and and I note down how I spend my work day from when I get up to when I go to bed. I set aside time on monday to plan my week and saturday to reflect on it. Rescue Time has also been a great tool. It’s a program that tracks how you use your time on your computer and categories it into groups like Learning and Entertainment and gives you a daily productivity pulse. Some of mine have been high, 80%+ some shockingly low, 34%. It’s been a great wake up call and has made me start evaluating just how much I get distracted when I work online.

Secondly I realised that I was trying to tackle too many challenges at once. Sleep earlier, 90 minute focus routines, better email routines…. So I was relying on willpower and remembering what my challenge actually was. Which didn’t work. Everything else seemed to be more important. So I’m going to focus on building one new habit at a time as Scott H. Young advises.

Productivity Challenge April

So this April I am going to combine my Making Challenge and my Productivity Challenge.

Making challenge- I will write 500 words a day on a topic have some knowledge about. Inspired by James Greigs How to write every day for a 30 days. I will write a blog post every day for the 30 days of April. I chose 500 words, because its an achievable amount of words to write daily

Productivity challenge- I will do a 60 minute focus block everyday writing my 500 words. My aim is to do it in the morning, with the internet switched of and full screen to take away any distractions. It means I will have to prepare before hand, so no surfing the internet to read articles.

I’ve set up my word count spreadsheet using James Greig’s template, so you can keep up with my progress, which will help hold me accountable. 

Productivity challenge: taking time off

Productivity challenge: taking time off


One of the trickiest things that I’m discovering about being self employed is taking time off. I remember the reply after comenting to a freelance computer specialist at my cousins party, that it must be great having all that freedom. His answer was that it means you cant take a holiday because you wont get paid. I understand that feeling now. But this weekend I took a short four days break in Scotlands beautiful Highlands and it was amazing. 

I hadnt realised how much I needed a break. It is hard to take time off when your getting paid is dependent on you working. There is a great post by Seth Godin on this. 

We had three days up north in the beautiful Highlands and Isle of Skye with the most glorious weather. It made me realise I need to start taking more breaks, setting boundaries between work and the rest of my life. Working from home can blur this. Work continues in the evenings and weekends. But just having time away, no computer, little internet really cleared my head. I got back to work this week with my energy, motivations and smile up again. 🙂

Here’s some great advice on the power of creative sabbaticals from Stefan Sagmeister on TED.

Let me know if you have any tips for taking breaks 🙂

March making challenge – alternative futures

March making challenge – alternative futures

My goal for this year is to do one, fun/ side/ passion/ personal project per month. The only rules are that it has to be creative, experimental and most of all be FUN!
March- inspired by the project Hypothetical Developments my fun/ side project for March is to make hypothetical developments of empty or under used spaces I see around Glasgow. I’m gonna aim higher this month and aim for 10. I want to explore how spaces can be used to engage with people and alternative community use.
Here’s to a productive March :)!
Images via…mobcornon1mobcornon2
March productivity challenge- develop focus routines

March productivity challenge- develop focus routines

Set up better email & focus routines

As I said in my previous post I’ve started to make progress in my productivity but I’ve also realise that it’s me that’s making myself so busy. So for March my Productivity Challenge is to set up a better way to increase my focus when working and email routine.

The first things I’m going to do are;

1. Say no- I’m a total time optimist I always say yes and hope I can get the work done in time but I end up overloading myself. So I need to start saying no to things, and giving myself the time to do the a few key things well. I’m starting by reducing my daily list to 3 things a day, and writing them the night before.
2. Develop 90 min focus routine- I’m aiming to nail my focus routine. And I’m gonna start doing 1/2 everyday, with absolutely no internet, unless necessary. I’ll try to do them in the morning so I can have a more flexible afternoon and can faff around if I want too.
3. Test out better email routines- I want to work out better email routines, experimenting with different times to check and answer emails and see what works best.
4. Sleep earlier- I’ve been getting up earlier but sleeping at the same time, so I feel quite tired in the mornings. So I will start sleeping earlier, 15 minutes earlier this week and continue adding to the habit slowly.
Here’s to a productive March :).
Let me know if you have any tips!
February productivity challenge_ round up

February productivity challenge_ round up


To be honest my February Productivity Challenge has been a mixed bag. I have made some progress but perhaps not as much as I would have liked.

The three things I was concerned that would be hard were, getting up early, focusing while working, and setting realistic expectations. I’ve made some progress but will continue to work on them in March.
What I’ve improved on
  • Getting up by 7.30 now instead of 8/8.30 like I used too. I took the tips from, and started slowly, getting up 15 mins earlier each week and it’s worked.
  • I have also been starting work by earlier, perhaps it’s because I’ve been working from home lately. We just got an office space and I’m going to keep on with this.
  • Made an ideal schedule and working towards it
  • Working in 90 minute focus sessions I feel like my productivity has dramatically increased because of this, but I still get distracted by my phone or the Internet.
  • I’ve started planning my week on monday and making a to do list in the morning before I start working.
What hasn’t worked so well
  • My focus still isn’t great as I said earlier I get distracted every time I go online and go on random tangents.
  • Still need to set boundaries work still goes on till the night and I’ve realised it’s because I make myself busy. I need to start setting limits,  work time, home time, e.t.c, if not I’ll just burn out.
  • I’ve not been very good at unplugging/ taking proper breaks between the 90 minute bursts, instead of checking my emails.
  • I need to start sleeping early using the same technique of small habits. I’ll start by going to bed 15 minutes early this week.
Check out my March Productivity Challenge
Productivity Challenge: Getting up early

Productivity Challenge: Getting up early

alt= get up early infographicImage: by Grace Mark

Getting up early has definitely been the hardest part of my Productivity Challenge for February. I haven’t been able to get up before 8am or sleep earlier than 12pm. But I’ve finally found some great tips on
Leo Babauta goes through the whole process from starting by getting up gradually to what to do when you get up. I’m definitely trying it this week. I’ve created this infographic to remind myself and edited it to what I will be realistic for me 🙂
Schedule makeover_ Productivity Challenge

Schedule makeover_ Productivity Challenge

My productivity challenge for February is to create my ideal schedule and start working towards it. This is gonna be difficult, so I’ve tried to preempt the hardest parts

1. Getting up early

This is difficult. Nothing seems that important at 7 in the morning. But as Bg Fogg says, I am starting small. I’m aiming to get up by 8 o’clock every weekday this week.

2. Focusing while working

Whenever I sit down to work, I try to multi task, but end up surfing the internet (I have a problem with having too many tabs open). Taking inspiration from Tabless Thursday, I’m going to start by having no more than 6 tabs open at any one time. Maybe one day I’ll achieve 1 browser tab pinnacle. I’m also going to start with a 90 minute focus block, on my most difficult task for the day.

3. Setting realistic expectations

I don’t know if it’s over optimism, but I seem to have a problem with setting too many things to do. I seem to start the day with a list of 20 things, and then end up disappointed because I can’t finish them all. To combat this I will start the day by writing my list on a post-it note. If it doesn’t fit, then I know I’m being way too ambitious.