Life Balance Project: Week 4

If you are thinking “What on earth is a Life Balance Project?” Please read this post before continuing.

January is starting to draw to a close and February is within sight! The first month of my Life Balance Project was a bit of an experiment, I have never tried something like this before. I had the ideas in my head but I didn’t know how they would play out in the real world. So far I’m really happy with how things are going and I’m looking forward to starting my February goals on Friday.

Life Balance Project: Week 4

Here is a quick reminder of my goals for January and the reasons behind them:

Well being: Attend yoga once a week

Before Christmas I started a yoga class but only managed 2 sessions before it finished for the holidays. I’m going to restart and go at least once a week. The issue with working shifts is that I can’t consistently attend exercise classes, groups etc. Luckily this class is at a yoga studio and there are many different classes so I should be able to attend once a week. It just won’t necessarily be the same class or instructor.

Relationships: Attend 2 meetups

I’m using meetup.com to meet new people and find clubs/activities that I enjoy. I have joined a lot of groups but the next step is actually getting out there and meeting up! I’m aiming to attend 2 meetups, bonus points if they are from different groups! After all, the more different meetups I go to the more people I will meet.

Personal Growth: Establish routines

I’m especially interested in making a night time routine that helps me get a good night sleep and be organised for the next day. I also hear a lot of good things about morning routines and waking up a couple of hours early to have time to focus on yourself. The problem with that is again I work shifts and my day shift start time is 6.30am, there is absolutely no way I’m getting up at 3am! Maybe I could make a morning routine for the days when I’m off or start later. I think the reason I want to make routines is I’m craving a bit of stability. I love my job but its the first time I’ve worked various day/night/weekend shifts and it messes with my head a bit. Often I forget what day it is and I would love a bit more order to my days.

Money: Sort out finances

This goal might sound a bit broad but basically I’m going to go through all my bank statements, cancel any subscriptions I don’t use and see if there’s a better current account I can switch to. I’m preparing myself and my bank account for the upcoming months goals.

Organisation: Try time blocking

I’ve read a lot of articles on Pinterest lately about time blocking and I really want to try it for myself. Maybe it can provide some of the order and routine that I’ve been craving?

This weeks progress

I finally made it to a yoga class but my goal of going once a week was dashed before January had even got going. I really enjoy yoga and I am still going to go to classes when I can. Moving forward though, I might start doing a home yoga practice. That way it doesn’t matter what shifts or days I’m doing at work, I can fit it around me.

This week I attended my 6th meetup for January! Honestly, I’ve shocked myself. I’m not a social butterfly, I’m a rather shy and socially awkward caterpillar and always have been. I think the difference is that everyone at the meetups is open to meeting new people and wants to be more social. Everyone is really friendly too which definitely helps! I’ve smashed my goal of attending 2 meetups and will definitely keep attending regularly once the month is up. 

I’ve found an evening routine that seems to be working for me. It took me a while! The issue I had was that my work schedule is different every week, some nights I’m at home and others I’m sleeping at work. I needed to create a routine that would work no matter where I am. I think I’ve found it and a post is coming over the next couple of days. In the end I decided not to swap banks as I’m happy where I am and I couldn’t find a new account worth switching to.

Last stretch and soon we will be into February! How are your January goals going? Let me know in the comment below =)

Take care,

Hayley x

Lets stay in touch

Using time blocking to get stuff done

Its nearing the end of the first month of my Life Balance Project. My organisation goal for January was to try time blocking. I was hoping it would help me be productive and get more stuff done. Here is what I’ve learned and what I’m going to do moving forward.

First attempts

My first couple of attempts at time blocking had mixed results. First I blocked out my entire day from 9.30am to 9pm. This was a mistake! When I looked at the schedule I had written it was overwhelming and felt too rigid. I started swapping over which tasks I was doing when and I didn’t stick to the timings. Saying that I did still get quite a lot done that day so in a way it worked. I decided to try the same schedule again the next day but this time it all fell apart. A couple of urgent tasks cropped up which I hadn’t anticipated and hadn’t worked into my schedule. I dropped everything to complete them and then tried to get back on track. It didn’t work and by then I had accepted that blocking out my entire day was not the right solution for me. That’s not to say that it wouldn’t work for anyone, I’ve listed the pros and cons below.

Whole day time blocking:

Pros

  • Being able to plan out a whole day at once.
  • Helps to make the most of your time.
  • Some people like the routine of knowing exactly what they are doing and when.

Cons

  • Feels really rigid and inflexible.
  • Can be overwhelming.
  • If the whole day is plotted out there’s no wiggle room if urgent tasks pop up or other tasks take longer than planned or need rearranging.

Mini time blocking

I might have just invented that as a phrase but that’s the best way to describe what I did next. I made two sessions, one in the morning and the second in the afternoon. Each session lasted 2 hours. The first 30 minutes I would focus on social media, emails, canva or commenting/returning comments on other blogs. Those little tasks that can turn into a huge time suck. What was interesting was when I knew I only had 30 minutes I worked faster and tried to fit as much in as possible. It was almost like a game and it made me so much more productive. By focusing on those little niggly tasks first I also felt like I had achieved something before I focused on my main task.

After the first 30 minutes I spent the remaining hour and a half focusing on a big task like planning and writing blog posts. Sometimes I would get so in the zone that I would work the whole 90 minutes and other times I would get up and make a cup of tea about half way through. Regardless I would keep focusing on that one big task until my time was up. I found this system a lot more manageable than plotting out my entire day.

 Pros

  • Flexible, wiggle room if tasks overrun or extra things pop up.
  • Feels a lot more manageable and less overwhelming.
  • Taking 30 mins at the start to clear niggly tasks helps clear the head for the bigger task. 

Cons

  • Only adds up to 4 hours a day. Might not be enough for some projects.
  • Could be too loose and flexible for some people.

Spontaneous time blocking

That might be another phrase that I’ve invented but this is the system I’m currently trying. Blocking out my whole day didn’t work for me and although I liked mini time blocking, some days it didn’t feel like enough. I work shifts, sometimes with a gap in the middle of the day. Sometimes I start early, sometimes I start late afternoon and sometimes I do overnights. No two days are the same for me but I do have my schedule weeks in advance. I needed a system that I can adapt around my shifts. So here is what I’m doing at the moment.

I’m still using the two sessions that I set up when I was trying mini time blocking. The time that I do them varies depending on my shifts. I’ve also started adding an extra block of one hour on an evening to catch up on social media, tailwind, email related tasks. On a morning I write a list of what I need to get done that day and allocate it to a block. If I’m not working that day I might add an extra 2 hour block into my schedule. Its all about doing what works best for me on that particular day. 

Pros

  • Really flexible, can plan the day around what else is going on.
  • Adding extra blocks when time allows means bigger projects can get done.
  • Allows wiggle room if extra tasks pop up or need to be rearranged.
  • Planning each day on the day makes the most of the time available.
  • Great for shift workers or anyone with an ever changing schedule.

Cons

  • May be too spontaneous for some people who prefer a set routine.

Do you use time blocking? Which system works best for you? Let me know in the comments =)

Take care,

Hayley x

Lets stay in touch

Life Balance Project: Week 3

If you are thinking “What on earth is a Life Balance Project?” Please read this post before continuing.

Its been a crazy week, both work wise and personally. I got very frustrated at the beginning of the week when nothing seemed to be going right! I had to take a step back and regroup, luckily the week got much better from then on. More about that later. I guess when I’m setting goals based around different areas of my life its inevitable that some will go better than others. It gets frustrating when things outside of my control mess up my plans.

Here is a quick reminder of my goals for January and the reasons behind them:

Well being: Attend yoga once a week

Before Christmas I started a yoga class but only managed 2 sessions before it finished for the holidays. I’m going to restart and go at least once a week. The issue with working shifts is that I can’t consistently attend exercise classes, groups etc. Luckily this class is at a yoga studio and there are many different classes so I should be able to attend once a week. It just won’t necessarily be the same class or instructor.

Relationships: Attend 2 meetups

I’m using meetup.com to meet new people and find clubs/activities that I enjoy. I have joined a lot of groups but the next step is actually getting out there and meeting up! I’m aiming to attend 2 meetups, bonus points if they are from different groups! After all, the more different meetups I go to the more people I will meet.

Personal Growth: Establish routines

I’m especially interested in making a night time routine that helps me get a good night sleep and be organised for the next day. I also hear a lot of good things about morning routines and waking up a couple of hours early to have time to focus on yourself. The problem with that is again I work shifts and my day shift start time is 6.30am, there is absolutely no way I’m getting up at 3am! Maybe I could make a morning routine for the days when I’m off or start later. I think the reason I want to make routines is I’m craving a bit of stability. I love my job but its the first time I’ve worked various day/night/weekend shifts and it messes with my head a bit. Often I forget what day it is and I would love a bit more order to my days.

Money: Sort out finances

This goal might sound a bit broad but basically I’m going to go through all my bank statements, cancel any subscriptions I don’t use and see if there’s a better current account I can switch to. I’m preparing myself and my bank account for the upcoming months goals.

Organisation: Try time blocking

I’ve read a lot of articles on Pinterest lately about time blocking and I really want to try it for myself. Maybe it can provide some of the order and routine that I’ve been craving?

This weeks progress

What went wrong this week

Lets start with everything that went wrong, it does get better! For the last two weeks my goal of attending a yoga class hasn’t worked out. The first week classes were still closed in the aftermath of Christmas and New Year. Week 2 I had to cancel after pulling a muscle in the top of my leg. This week I decided to wait to book until the night before the class to make sure my leg was better. It was still a bit tender when I twisted a certain way but I was confident I would be able to do the class. I logged on to book and found out I was too late, the class was full. There were 2 more classes later in the week but I couldn’t attend because of my work shifts so for the third week in a row I’ve failed that goal. So annoying! The good news is I’ve booked myself on a class for next week so unless I get another ridiculous injury or there’s a random blizzard I should be able to attend!

Unfortunately there’s more

Moving on to the second thing that went totally wrong this week… I signed up to a belly dancing class through one of my meetup groups. It was at 6.15pm in the middle of Sheffield city centre. I knew traffic would be interesting at that time of day but hoped that it would be ok because I was driving into the city and everyone else would be driving out after work. I allowed myself 45 minutes to get there, its only supposed to take 25. The short version of the story is I got hopelessly lost in the middle of the city in horrific traffic. By the time I got to the right street it was 6.30pm and my nerves were shot. I couldn’t face walking into a class of strangers 15 minutes late and disrupting the lesson so I turned around and got stuck in traffic all the way home too. The whole crappy experience took nearly 2 hours! 

All of the above happened on Monday and Tuesday respectively. Luckily it got better from then on in.

What went right this week

I have already smashed my goal of attending 2 meetups this month. Then I decided to double it to 4 meetups and on Wednesday I achieved that too! I went to a new dessert bar with a lovely group of ladies and had a bowl of cookie dough, yum! At the moment I have 2 more meetups planned this month so that’s 6, I may sign up for even more!

I’ve continued to work on my evening routine. A post about that is coming soon. The issue I had was that my work schedule is different every week, some nights I’m at home and others I’m sleeping at work. I needed to create a routine that would work no matter where I am. I think I’m close to getting it right!

My money goal was to look at changing bank accounts. I’ve looked into it over the last couple of weeks and for now I’m going to stay where I am. I couldn’t find another account worth switching to and I’m happy with my current bank.

I’m still using time blocking in different ways to find out which works best for me. A post about that is coming at the end of the month. At the moment I’m finding shorter time blocking sessions more productive than blocking out my whole day.

 I’m hoping next week will be smoother than this week! Time will tell…

Take care,

Hayley x

Lets stay in touch

Life Balance Project: Week 2

If you are thinking “What on earth is a Life Balance Project?” Please read this post before continuing.

Christmas and New Year are now long behind us. Everyone is back at work and school and the decorations have been taken down. A lot of people talk about January blues but personally it’s never really bothered me. Apart from that first day back at work but everyone feels that right? Now that life is “back to normal” I’ve been picking up speed with my goals for January.

Here is a quick reminder of my goals for January and the reasons behind them:

Well being: Attend yoga once a week

Before Christmas I started a yoga class but only managed 2 sessions before it finished for the holidays. I’m going to restart and go at least once a week. The issue with working shifts is that I can’t consistently attend exercise classes, groups etc. Luckily this class is at a yoga studio and there are many different classes so I should be able to attend once a week. It just won’t necessarily be the same class or instructor.

Relationships: Attend 2 meetups

I’m using meetup.com to meet new people and find clubs/activities that I enjoy. I have joined a lot of groups but the next step is actually getting out there and meeting up! I’m aiming to attend 2 meetups, bonus points if they are from different groups! After all, the more different meetups I go to the more people I will meet.

Personal Growth: Establish routines

I’m especially interested in making a night time routine that helps me get a good night sleep and be organised for the next day. I also hear a lot of good things about morning routines and waking up a couple of hours early to have time to focus on yourself. The problem with that is again I work shifts and my day shift start time is 6.30am, there is absolutely no way I’m getting up at 3am! Maybe I could make a morning routine for the days when I’m off or start later. I think the reason I want to make routines is I’m craving a bit of stability. I love my job but its the first time I’ve worked various day/night/weekend shifts and it messes with my head a bit. Often I forget what day it is and I would love a bit more order to my days.

Money: Sort out finances

This goal might sound a bit broad but basically I’m going to go through all my bank statements, cancel any subscriptions I don’t use and see if there’s a better current account I can switch to. I’m preparing myself and my bank account for the upcoming months goals.

Organisation: Try time blocking

I’ve read a lot of articles on Pinterest lately about time blocking and I really want to try it for myself. Maybe it can provide some of the order and routine that I’ve been craving?

This weeks progress

Unfortunately with my well being goal, its more like lack of progress. I pulled a muscle at the top of my leg during the weekend and had to cancel my yoga session. I wish I had a good story to go with it like “I was running a marathon” or “I saved someone from being hit by a car” but no. The reality is I was pushing a roundabout at a playground and something in my leg went twang. I could walk fine but when I tried to run, kneel down or twist in a certain way there was a sharp pain. Basically I’ve failed my goal of attending yoga once a week. There’s nothing I can do about it except roll my eyes and move on. I’m still going to try to attend once a week from now on, random, ridiculous injuries permitting!

I’m doing much better with my goal of attending 2 meetups. In fact I’ve done it! This week I went to a coffee shop with a small group, one person I had met before and 2 new people. It was their first meetup and we shared stories of how nerve wracking it can be that first time. It was this conversation that inspired me to write my last post, making friends as an adult. I also had my first taste of a cronut (half croissant, half donut) and it was delicious! Mine is the one furthest on the right in the photo below. I have another 3 meetups planned this month. The first one is a belly dancing class! I’ve been talked into it and I’ve been assured that our bellies will stay covered! Its a bit out of my comfort zone but I’m going for it! I’m feeling more relaxed about the other two meetups, one is a spa afternoon and the other is going to a dessert bar. Its a hard life 😉

I’m still working on my evening routine but the next couple of weeks I’m doing a lot of overnights at work. This is complicating things but I’m going to make a routine for the nights when I’m home in my own bed and stick to that as best I can.

For my money goal I went through my bank account and canceled a couple of monthly subscriptions that I wasn’t making the most of. I’ve also been looking into changing bank account but up to now I haven’t found a deal worth swapping for. I’ll keep looking but if nothing jumps out at me I’ll stay where I am. For now at least!

I’ve had a few comments from people interested in my attempts at time blocking. I plan to write a post at the end of the month sharing what worked for me, what didn’t and whether I’m going to continue with it. On Monday I time blocked out my whole day and it was kind of a success. I say kind of because I kept swapping over which tasks I would be doing when. I also didn’t stick to the timings very well. Saying that, I did get a lot done that day! So it did work but I used time blocking as a rough guide rather than set in stone.

On Thursday I time blocked just my afternoon and on Friday I did between 11am and 3pm. I found it a lot easier to stick to these smaller sessions rather than blocking out my whole day. I’m going to keep tweaking this over the next couple of weeks and see if I can find the right balance for me. 

So I’m expecting next week to include yoga (fingers crossed) more cake, yay 😉 and belly dancing *gulp* 

Wish me luck!

Hayley x

Lets stay in touch

Making friends as an adult

Its all so easy when you are a kid. At school we are put in classes with others the same age as us. There are clubs where we can have fun with kids with similar interests. At a park or soft play, all you have to do is walk over to another child and say “Can I play?” or “Do you want to be my friend?” Most of the time the answer is yes.

Fast forward a few years. If you go to college or university, again you are put into a class. There are socials, freshers week and various clubs to join. If you have moved away from home and into the halls or dorms, everyone else is in the same boat. Everyone is new, wants to meet people and is open to making new friends.

But what if you are trying to make friends as an adult? What if you move to a new place or your circumstances change? How do you start over with meeting and getting to know people? It feels so much harder as an adult, especially if you are juggling work, home and family. I have moved to another city twice now. Both times it was for work and I didn’t know anyone except the family I was going to work for. I admit its scary but it is possible to find/make a new social circle and it can also be a lot of fun! Here are my tips.

Don’t be embarrassed

The first time I moved to a new city, I felt a bit embarrassed to be looking for friends. I was worried I would look sad or desperate, like that kid in secondary school who’s socially awkward and doesn’t really fit in. I’ve been there before… But the truth is a lot of people are in the same situation. They’ve moved to a new area, their other friends have coupled up and started having families, they’ve realised their interests have changed etc. This time around I don’t feel embarrassed and neither should you! Putting yourself out there doesn’t make you look sad or desperate, it makes you look brave. 

Think about your interests

Did you belong to any clubs when you were at school or university? What did you like doing in your spare time as a kid? Yes we have all grown up since then (in theory!) but thinking about your past interests can help you to discover activities that you would enjoy today. If you were very creative maybe you would enjoy an art class? Maybe you could learn a new skill such as knitting or pottery? If you were active is there a sports team you can join or a gym class you can sign up for? Where there are clubs and classes there are normally other people. If those people have similar interests then you already have something in common.

Find clubs/classes/groups that appeal to you

Following on from the last tip, find an activity or group to join. If you know what you are looking for, search google to see if there’s anything in your area. Local newspapers and notice boards in shops or supermarkets are another good place to find activities local to you. I also had a lot of success with meetup.com. Its free to sign up, you tick the kind of activities you are interested in and enter a search radius, say 10 miles from your postcode. All the groups in that area pop up, you can join any that look interesting and RSVP which meetups you would like to attend. Through this site I have gone to the cinema, had coffee/cake/lunch, gone snowboarding and driven quad bikes and hover crafts! There is something for everyone so why not give it a try?

Say Hello

Yes I know this one feels scary. I have always been shy and when I’m in a situation where I don’t know anyone, my first instinct is to leave or hide at the back and keep to myself. All I can say is the more you put yourself out of your comfort zone, the easier it will get. So when you are doing that art class say hello to the person sat next to you. Introduce yourself to as many people as possible when you attend that meetup group. Smile and be friendly. If it is your first meetup and you were really nervous, say that! Then watch as everyone else nods and starts sharing stories of how scared they were when it was their first time. Trust me, I have seen this happen many times!

Be patient

Remember that these things can take time. You might hit it off with someone straight away or it could be a bit trial and error until you find the right group for you. Have fun with it and try not to put pressure on yourself to be really social and make tons of friends. Do it at your own pace. 

I was inspired to write this post after joining more social groups as part of my Life Balance Project. What are your reasons for making more friends? Let me know in the comments below =)

Take care,

Hayley x

Lets stay in touch

Life Balance Project: Week 1

If you are thinking “What on earth is a Life Balance Project?” Please read this post before continuing. 

So Christmas and New Year passed in a blur and here we are ploughing through the first week of January. The first few days of January I found myself feeling really motivated! Maybe its the whole “New Year, new me” vibe. Did anyone else experience this? As I write this post I can feel that its starting to wear off but I’m impressed that this “New Year energy” lasted as long as it did!

My Life Balance Project posts have had a really positive response so on top of starting my January goals this week, I’ve also been thinking about the best way to document my progress. I’ve decided to post a weekly update every weekend. That way I can keep track of my progress and anyone who’s interested can see how I am doing. So strap in because there’s another 51 of these posts to come! 

Here is a quick reminder of my goals for January and the reasons behind them:

Well being: Attend yoga once a week

Before Christmas I started a yoga class but only managed 2 sessions before it finished for the holidays. I’m going to restart and go at least once a week. The issue with working shifts is that I can’t consistently attend exercise classes, groups etc. Luckily this class is at a yoga studio and there are many different classes so I should be able to attend once a week. It just won’t necessarily be the same class or instructor.

Relationships: Attend 2 meetups

I’m using meetup.com to meet new people and find clubs/activities that I enjoy. I have joined a lot of groups but the next step is actually getting out there and meeting up! I’m aiming to attend 2 meetups, bonus points if they are from different groups! After all, the more different meetups I go to the more people I will meet.

Personal Growth: Establish routines

I’m especially interested in making a night time routine that helps me get a good night sleep and be organised for the next day. I also hear a lot of good things about morning routines and waking up a couple of hours early to have time to focus on yourself. The problem with that is again I work shifts and my day shift start time is 6.30am, there is absolutely no way I’m getting up at 3am! Maybe I could make a morning routine for the days when I’m off or start later. I think the reason I want to make routines is I’m craving a bit of stability. I love my job but its the first time I’ve worked various day/night/weekend shifts and it messes with my head a bit. Often I forget what day it is and I would love a bit more order to my days.

Money: Sort out finances

This goal might sound a bit broad but basically I’m going to go through all my bank statements, cancel any subscriptions I don’t use and see if there’s a better current account I can switch to. I’m preparing myself and my bank account for the upcoming months goals.

Organisation: Try time blocking

I’ve read a lot of articles on Pinterest lately about time blocking and I really want to try it for myself. Maybe it can provide some of the order and routine that I’ve been craving?

This weeks progress

So what progress have I made this week? I have signed myself up for a yoga class on Monday. None of the classes were running this week so I’ve had to skip ahead to next week.

On Thursday I went to a meetup and had coffee and a lovely chat. On the subject of meetups, I’ve signed up for another 2. One is with the same group to go and have coffee and cake next week. You can never have too much coffee and cake in my opinion! The other is to go out for dinner with a different group at the end of the month. That would mean I’ve completed my goal of attending 2 meetups but why stop there? I’m going to see if I can double my target to 4 meetups. With being new to the area, going to different places and meeting new people can only be a good thing!

I haven’t started my night time routine yet. I’m still in the planning stages, deciding what is important for me and realistically what I can fit in. If you have a night time routine, do let me know in the comments. I love reading them, feel free to link a post if you have one about your evening routine.

I have written a very basic time blocking schedule for today and I’m doing my best to follow it. Today is an experiment and a first attempt so I won’t be posting it. Instead I’m going to use it to see what works for me and then implement what I’ve learnt into my second attempt.

Next week

Next week I am expecting more coffee and cake, a second attempt at time blocking and I’m going to have a good look at my bank statements… Yay. Maybe even more coffee and cake would make that job more appealing!

Take care,

Hayley x

Lets stay in touch

Life Balance Project: January

In my mind January is all about fresh starts. A new year, a blank slate, the first of 12 new months. This January is also the first month of my Life Balance Project. If you are wondering what on earth I’m talking about, I suggest going and reading this post first. Go ahead, this post can wait.

Ready? Ok, lets continue. My theme for my January goals is Fresh start. I’m hoping each goal will help get the year off to a good start. Below is a quick reminder of the 5 aspects of my life that I will be setting goals for.

  • Well being Goals and activities that improve my sense of well being. For example, goals focused around routines, yoga, meditation and self care.
  • Relationships My friends and family are so important to me. However this section will include meeting new people as well as strengthening the bonds I already have.
  • Personal Growth Developing habits or skills that will help me grow as a person.
  • Money Unfortunately it does make the world go around. These goals will revolve around budgeting and continuing to save for a house deposit.
  • Organisation These goals will focus on organising myself and my time better.

January Goals

Well being: Attend yoga once a week

Before Christmas I started a yoga class but only managed 2 sessions before it finished for the holidays. I’m going to restart and go at least once a week. The issue with working shifts is that I can’t consistently attend exercise classes, groups etc. Luckily this class is at a yoga studio and there are many different classes so I should be able to attend once a week. It just won’t necessarily be the same class or instructor.

Relationships: Attend 2 meetups

I’m using meetup.com to meet new people and find clubs/activities that I enjoy. I have joined a lot of groups but the next step is actually getting out there and meeting up! I’m aiming to attend 2 meetups, bonus points if they are from different groups! After all, the more different meetups I go to the more people I will meet.

Personal Growth: Establish routines

I’m especially interested in making a night time routine that helps me get a good night sleep and be organised for the next day. I also hear a lot of good things about morning routines and waking up a couple of hours early to have time to focus on yourself. The problem with that is again I work shifts and my day shift start time is 6.30am, there is absolutely no way I’m getting up at 3am! Maybe I could make a morning routine for the days when I’m off or start later. I think the reason I want to make routines is I’m craving a bit of stability. I love my job but its the first time I’ve worked various day/night/weekend shifts and it messes with my head a bit. Often I forget what day it is and I would love a bit more order to my days. If anyone has any tips to help me manage this, I would love to hear them =)

Money: Sort out finances

This goal might sound a bit broad but basically I’m going to go through all my bank statements, cancel any subscriptions I don’t use and see if there’s a better current account I can switch to. I’m preparing myself and my bank account for the upcoming months goals.

Organisation: Try time blocking

I’ve read a lot of articles on Pinterest lately about time blocking and I really want to try it for myself. Maybe it can provide some of the order and routine that I’ve been craving?

So there are my 5 goals for January. I’ll be updating my progress on here and twitter so feel free to follow along! Do you have goals for January? Let me know what they are in the comments below =)

Take care,

Hayley x

Lets stay in touch

Life Balance Project

Do you make New Years Resolutions? I don’t as such but I do set myself goals. This year I’ve decided to try something a little different. Often I complain that I don’t have a balanced life, it feels a bit like juggling and I regularly drop at least one ball. I want to create more balance. I want to feel more relaxed whilst also feeling that everything is under control. Crucially, I want to make time for everything and everyone that is important to me. I know its a big ask but with a little time and careful planning, I hope to prove its possible. I’m making 2019 the year of my Life Balance Project.

12 months to find balance

When I first decided that 2019 would be the year I attempt to find balance, I had no idea how to go about it. Over the last month I’ve done a bit of soul searching, brainstorming and plotting to work out what I want from this project and more importantly, how I can achieve it. I’m going to set myself 5 goals a month, each goal for a certain aspect of my life. First I needed to choose those 5 aspects of my life. I wanted 5 areas of my life that by focusing on each of them equally would keep me well rounded and help me achieve a sense of balance. Here are my 5 aspects and what each one means to me.

  • Well being Goals and activities that improve my sense of well being. For example, goals focused around routines, yoga, meditation and self care.
  • Relationships My friends and family are so important to me. However this section will include meeting new people as well as strengthening the bonds I already have.
  • Personal Growth Developing habits or skills that will help me grow as a person.
  • Money Unfortunately it does make the world go around. These goals will revolve around budgeting and continuing to save for a house deposit.
  • Organisation These goals will focus on organising myself and my time better.

A theme for every month

To plan out my year, I have set a theme for each month. My themes are influenced slightly by the seasons. For example, Spring makes me think of growth and new beginnings, whereas Autumn signifies changes, preparation and reflection. It makes sense to me to a line my goals with seasonal changes, it allows for some variety through the year and will also keep my goals relevant. Thinking of a suitable theme for each month was tough but I’m happy with what I decided on.

  • January: Fresh start
  • February: Making time
  • March: Hello Spring
  • April: Refresh
  • May: Blossom
  • June: Explore
  • July: Nature
  • August: Restore
  • September: Reflect
  • October: Hygge
  • November: Cherish
  • December: Festive

What I hope to achieve

Basically, a more rounded, less frantic, better put together life. Not asking for much am I? If you have read my other blog posts you might know that I recently moved to a new city on my own. Its actually the second time I’ve done this, I wrote a post called 5 things I learnt by moving away alone reflecting on the first time. I’m getting used to my new city but haven’t really had a chance to put down roots yet. A lot of my goals are going to focus on getting to know new people and really settle into my new city. I’m also hoping to become more organised and feel like a “proper adult”. I’m 28 and still feel like I’m trying to carve out a little space for myself in this new adult world of house deposits, pension schemes and overdrafts. Please tell me I’m not the only one who feels like this? 

My January goals post will be up in the next couple of days. I’m excited to get started, a new year, new month and new project! Are you making resolutions this year or are you doing something else? Let me know in the comments below =)

Take care,

Hayley x

Lets stay in touch

Eating well while working shifts

I always try my best to eat well. For me that means plenty of home cooked meals and lots of fruit and veg. I try to keep ready meals and takeaways to a minimum. Not just for health reasons but mainly because of the damage they can do to my food budget. Since starting my new job I’ve found that nothing tests your resolve to prepare your own food and avoid takeaways more than working shifts! Firstly because juggling different shifts is tiring in itself. Secondly because it takes extra organisation when you are working a mix of earlies, lates, overnights and random weekend days. You need to work out where you will be at mealtimes for a start, home or work. The convenience of throwing a ready meal in the microwave or picking something up on the way home starts chipping away at your resolve. I think we have all been there! You cave in, pick up a portion of fish and chips on the way home and devour it while guiltily thinking about the fresh and healthy ingredients in the fridge. The stir fry will have to wait another day! You can tell I’m speaking from personal experience here…

There has to be a better way right?

Its taken me a few weeks of discovering what works for me and what doesn’t. The first thing I do is open my diary and plot out when I will be at home and when I am working. I plan out a morning/afternoon when I have a bit of time to collect my shopping and do some prep work. I’ve started using the click and collect service that most of the bigger supermarkets offer and its made a big difference! No wandering around the shop or forgetting my list. I plan my meals and snacks for the week, order the ingredients and choose a time to pick it up the next day. Here is the system I use to plan my meals.

My grocery planning list

I order my groceries by working through this bullet point list:

  • Weekly essentials:  Milk, eggs, bread etc that I use every week. I also check that I have enough teabags, pasta and other items that I use daily but come in big packs.
  • Meal prep recipes:  More about this below. I choose the recipes I’ll be prepping and order the ingredients.
  • Day off recipes: For meals that I’m not prepping ahead. For example on my days off when I have more time and energy. My go-to’s are things like stir fry or pasta bake. I often make enough for two and fridge/freeze leftovers for another time.
  • Quick/cheat recipes: For days when I’ll be at home but might not have much time/energy to cook. I buy fresh filled pasta or gnocchi which cooks in minutes and serve with pasta sauce. I also keep frozen mash which goes with anything and frozen fish or chicken in batter for cheat days. Hey its better than going to the fish shop!
  •  Snacks: Fresh fruit, veg to cut into sticks, hummus, cheese and crackers, popcorn etc. I try to vary my snacks so that it doesn’t all go out of date at the same time! I used to buy fruit and berries for the week, only for it all to go moldy by day 4. Now I eat the fruit first and the longer lasting snacks later in the week.

Meal Prep

With regards to meal prepping, I choose three or four recipes. Something for breakfast, usually bacon and egg cups, pictured below. I make twelve using a muffin tin and divide them into bags of two. Then I put three portions in the fridge and three in the freezer for whenever I need them. All links to recipes can be found in my pinterest board here.

Next I choose a soup or salad that I can batch prep for lunches. Then one or two dinner recipes that can be portioned out and split between the fridge and freezer. I have tried big meal prep sessions in the past but they leave me feeling burnt out. Also I have limited fridge and freezer space as I live in a house share so it isn’t practical for me to prepare a weeks worth of food at once. If I choose two dinner recipes I don’t cook them both at once. I prep my breakfast, lunch and one dinner recipe as soon as I get back from the shops. Then I check my shifts and choose a day later in the week when I’ll be home at dinner time. On that day I cook the second recipe and fridge/freeze the extra portions. I find this works well for me as I don’t get overwhelmed by cooking several things at once and it makes the most of my storage space.

Tips for eating well while working shifts

  • Plan ahead: Check which days/hours you are working and plan accordingly. Having something ready to heat up when you get home makes it so much easier to stick to eating healthy.
  • Have backups: I keep fresh pasta or gnocchi for days when I need something quick and comforting. There will be days when for whatever reason you don’t want the meal you have prepped. Having a backup stops me from giving up and ordering takeaway. Scrambled eggs on toast is another of my backups. Choose a couple of backups of your own and have the ingredients on hand for those “everything has gone tits up and I need comfort food” days. We all have those right?
  • Pack snacks: I find taking healthy snacks to work helps me stay on track. It keeps my blood sugar right (mine sometimes jumps up and down making me feel shaky, light headed and grumpy) and stops me reaching for the biscuit tin.
  • Keep a bit of variety: This ties in with the backups. Having a few options to choose from, such as your prepped meals, leftovers in the freezer and your backups stops it from getting too repetitive. I also switch up which recipes I am prepping from week to week so I don’t get bored.

Do you work shifts? How do you stay on track with eating healthy? Let me know in the comments below =)

Take care,

Hayley x

Lets stay in touch

My food budget challenge

It’s been one month since I moved to Yorkshire for work. Its the first time that I’ve been in charge of shopping/cooking for just myself and no one else. Its liberating in a way, I can cook and eat whatever I want. No one to complain that they don’t like this or that we keep eating the same things etc. Before I moved, I thought that £20 a week would be plenty to budget for food. In reality I’ve spent double that, around £40 a week. That seems like a staggering amount for one person! In my defense, when I moved I had nothing so I have spent the last month stocking up on store cupboard essentials.

But now its time to do better

I spent a bit of time trying to research the average food budget for a single person. I came up with pretty much nothing so I’ve decided to challenge myself. I’m setting a maximum budget of £100 for the month but aiming to come in under budget and save any leftover cash for a rainy day. I opted for a monthly budget instead of weekly so that I can bulk buy if I see a good deal. That way I can stock up without blowing that weeks budget.

I have taken £100 out of my bank and I’m keeping it separate to my other cash. This way I can see how much money I have left and its more accountable than using contactless. If I shop online where I can’t pay cash, I will use my card but take the money out of my food budget envelope.

I’m going to use meal planning and prepping to stay on track as well as trying out Approved Food for dry or tinned goods. Approved Food is a website that sells items that are near or have passed their best before date at greatly reduced prices. I haven’t got a huge amount of storage space, so I didn’t think it would be worth paying delivery on the small amount of things I would buy. But as luck would have it, the warehouse is nearby my new city and its possible to collect! So that’s something I’ll be trying out in the next couple of weeks.

Do you have a food budget? What are your tips for cutting down on spending? Let me know in the comments =)

Take care,

Hayley x

Lets stay in touch