Do you truly make good use of your free time?

Recently I have been thinking more about time.    How little it seems we have compared to how much needs to be done. We all receive 24 hours yet some appear to accomplish much in this time and others very little. I think of world leaders, politicians, producers and the like who more often than not achieve their objectives.  I presume they go to sleep just as you and I do therefore they have no additional hours in the day in which to function. Having said that they may well limit their sleeping hours. I read the late Margaret Thatcher, UK Prime Minister 1979 to 1990 slept for just four hours a night. Clearly she was able to function with minimum sleep!

In order to achieve your desired outcome on a project or process, you need to focus and shut off any distractions.  TV and social media are major culprits in taking up our time but only if we let them.  We are in control of what we choose to give our time to.  It is our responsibility to make good use of our time.

Around three years ago I made the decision to stop watching UK soap operas. For those in the UK I am referring to Eastenders, Emmerdale and Coronation Street.  My daughter was six year old and slowly becoming consumed by the storylines which were usually rather negative. I decided there and then I did not want these soaps acting as any form of influence in her life so stopped watching them- just like that! I did not miss them at all and even better I got back 1.5 hours of my life every evening to carry out far more constructive activities such as reading, jotting down ideas for my blog and networking on LinkedIn.

Perhaps watching television may not be an issue for you but I have listed some tips below;

1. If you find you spend an hour or two on the telephone each evening, consider making calls during lunchtime or on your commute.

2. If you find you waste time on the internet, consider allocating specific time slots to do this or log out of particular sites making it less easy for you to mindlessly surf.

3. Be confident in declining another ‘night out’ if it will mean you can spend time on a project or task. Whilst socialising is important sometimes you have to weigh up which will bring more value to your life.

So to end, there will be a continuous string of events, people and circumstances wanting to utilise your time.  It is unlikely you can juggle them all therefore you will need to prioritise and prioritise some more.

How do you manage your time?
How do you find the balance between work, business and leisure?


Introvert or extrovert- which are you?

I am sure many, if not all of you know of the term introvert and extrovert.  However, I have  given a brief outline below.

An introvert is someone who prefers solidarity to spending time in large groups. They feel more energised after spending time alone.

An extrovert is someone who finds energy by interacting with others. They prefer to be in the company of others than be alone.

Contrary to popular belief, introverts are not necessarily shy or unassertive. If they are it is not a prequisite of this trait. Extroverts too may not be loud or even confident, they just thrive off of spending a lot of their time with others.

I am an introvert and always have been.  As a child it would take me at least an hour or two to settle into a new environment.  I recall my mother urging me to go and play with the other children when we attended parties.  I preferred to stay on the outside observing from afar.  My younger sister on the other hand would jump straight in!

I was content being an introvert as a child but felt it was a major hindrance once I hit my teenage years. I had one main friend in and out of school and did not desire more. I was friendly with a few peers but always avoided large groups. I felt uncomfortable being surrounded by a lot of people – almost as if I could not be myself. I was too self conscious and not at all confident which doubled with my introvert ways was rather crippling. I yearned to be outgoing and the life and soul of the party but it was just not part of my make up.

Looking back to my college and university years, I tended to have one friend and rarely hung out in groups. On occasions when my friend was absent, I would happily spend my break times alone. I did not mind as by this time I enjoyed my own company. Back in the early 1990’s I listened to music on my Walkman – who remembers these?

Even at my place of work, the majority of the time I take lunch breaks alone in an office or go for a walk.  I use this time to recharge and gather my thoughts.  I embrace the introvert in me and accept this is who I am.

Though I enjoy spending time alone, I am sociable when out at events or occasions. However, I can guarantee that I will spend at least an hour unwinding on returning home regardless of how late it is. My husband finds this most baffling!

Whether you are an introvert or an extrovert, learn to accept yourself. There are advantages to both traits and in my opinion, one is not better than the other, just different.  There is a need for both introverts and extroverts in friendship groups, families, organisations and businesses.

Are you an introvert or extrovert?
At what stage in life did you realise this?
What do you feel are the advantages?

What do you have a passion for?

Malcolm X, civil rights leader quoted;
“If you do not stand for something you will fall for anything”

We each ought to have a cause, a passion we feel strongly about, so much so that we could talk about this very subject for hours. We could teach on the subject or write on it.  Our hearts gravitate to different causes because of our make up, our personalities, our temperaments. Some are passionate about politics, others with developing countries, healthcare, education, the list can go on.

Our passions can, but are not always linked to our personal circumstances. I have read stories of couples who have lost their children to cancer or another disease and this then becomes their cause. They consume themselves with fighting for further research into the illness and raising money to support other families experiencing what they once did.  When we have faced challenges we are better equipped to assist others who are facing these same challenges.  Though this does not completely rule out us making a stand for a cause in which we have not personally suffered.  When you feel strongly about an issue, you can barely keep quiet as you want to speak out for change.  You want to contribute to making a positive shift.

20 odd years ago whilst at secondary school, I would regularly buy a portion of chips from a nearby shop.  I was in year 11 and able to leave the school grounds at lunchtime. On one occasion the server gave me a much smaller portion and I complained.  A few of my peers were in the shop and laughed at the fact that I made such a fuss about receiving a smaller portion but I was not phased. As a result the price of chips increased by £0.10/0.20p and apparently I was to blame. For the next few months I was known as ‘the girl’ who influenced the chip shop in increasing their prices.  As you can imagine this did not go down too well with my peers!

This revealed to me that though I was shy and an introvert, I had a passion just as others did. I was less vocal about declaring my passions but they were there deep rooted in my heart. I felt strongly about justice and people receiving fair treatment and faced with the opportunity, I spoke out.

My passions still remain and these days they exceed complaining for a larger portion of chips!

What are your passions?
What differences would you like to see in this world?
What are you physically doing to contribute to change?

Your emotions – are they in check?

This week I have had several conversations about how we are moved and often ruled by our emotions.  Our emotions are powerful and real. They matter to us as individuals as we go to sleep with them at night and wake with them in the morning. We cannot always pinpoint why we have particular emotions, at times they just descend upon us catching us unawares.

Oscar Wild, author and poet quoted;
” I do not want to be at the mercy of my emotions, I want to use them, to enjoy them, to dominate them.”

What a powerful quote! I believe Oscar Wild realised how much we can live off of our emotions, that our emotions can heavily influence how we react to others and the way in which we perceive ourselves.

Emotions are linked to feelings. People, circumstances, a place will evoke feelings in us; these feelings may bring us joy or sadness. Our feelings can consume us and become a hindrance in us moving forward and reveiving the best that we can from life.

Reflecting back to my childhood years, I was a highly emotional child and teenager. Though quiet I felt a lot and kept these feelings hidden deep inside. I was an introvert and terribly shy so did not reveal much to others. I endured the ending of a very close friendship at the age of 13 and bullying almost simultaneously and said nothing. I kept my feelings so close to my heart that I am surprised I did not burst. There was definitely an element of rejection, shame and confusion involved. I did not know how to deal with the feelings that arose from these challenges. I tried to suppress the feelings and it only served to add to what would become years of depression.

I perceived high sensitivity as a hindrance and yearned to have a thick skin like several peers who chose to let comments fly over their head rather than go home and renumerate over them. I spent years questioning why I had such a character and yearned to be someone else, anyone but me. Boy am I glad I got over that!

I am now able to deal with my emotions far more effectively. However I still am a sensitive and emotional individual – I doubt this will ever change. I am able to accept who I am and own any feelings that come my way.   The majority of the time I can detect whether I am blowing a situation out of proportion or if there really is an issue at hand.  We cannot stop feelings but we can control how we react to them.

Being highly sensitive is not a weakness, in fact it keeps you in check and in tune. It means I can detect when others are suffering in silence and reach out to them. It means I can empathise with others who are enduring emotional trauma.

I have read several books on dealing with your emotions and recommend;

Battlefield of the Mind – written by Joyce Meyer, International Speaker in dedication to her son who suffers with depression

Mastering your emotions – written by Colin Dye, Senior Pastor of Kensington Temple Church, Notting Hill UK

Are you highly emotional?
When did you first realise this?
What steps did you take/are you taking to keep your emotions in check?

When life takes a ‘u’ turn!

With all the plans in the world, life will not go exactly as we have planned it. Of course, this is no excuse not to plan as we need order and a focus in our lives.  Coasting along is not at all recommended.  We should give room for flexibility in our thinking and our approach and having a back up plan is not such a bad idea.  The path you are on may take longer than your friends or colleagues but determination and commitment will mean you get there – surely this is of some importance.

I read a post on LinkedIn (my preferred social media site), where the writer spoke of timelines in which people feel pressured to work towards; leave university at 21, get married at 25, have two children by 30, become CEO by 40 and so on. Some will hit every goal post at the desired time while others will take a slightly different journey for various reasons. Home life, health, our mindset and circumstances heavily impact on the way in which we live, what we push for and what we close the door to.

From the age of 15 I wanted to become a journalist or newsreader. I loved to read a wide range of books, newspapers and magazines. I had a keen interest in news, films, showbusiness and celebrities in general. I was and still am an introvert and I do wonder if a part of me yearned to be exciting or to be seen as exciting.

I applied for a media studies degree course at a North London university – it was that long ago I cannot even recall the name of it. This was my dream course and I looked forward to delving into this subject matter for three years. As it turns out, I did not receive the required grade in my college exams and therefore was not accepted. That was a major blow to my confidence and my future hopes felt shattered. Thankfully I found another course, media technology at a West London university.

20 years later I am not a journalist or a newsreader but a manager working in local government.  Very recently I began heading a women’s ministry at church – early days but I have some plans.   I still have a passion for writing hence why I run a blog and have done for over three years.  Who knows where this will take me – I am certainly enjoying the journey!

A few tips:

1. Ask yourself why you have decided on particular life choices and what you are willing and able to do to reach them

2. Seek alternative options and try to refrain from a rigid way of thinking

3. Ensure your choices are based on you and you are not living up to someone’s ideal

4. Be happy with who you are today – do not wait until you achieve or receive x, y, z. Contentment is key.

Has your life panned out according to your original plan or did it go off-course?
What did you learn about yourself in the process?
How would you encourage others?

Do not allow fear to hinder you from moving forward!

Now we are one week into 2018 – yes only one week. Christmas seems so far away yet it was less than two weeks ago.  Have you given much thought about your plans for this year? I can boldly state there will be obstacles along the way, some may even call you to reconsider your plans. Will you allow the obstacles or fear of them stop you going for what you want or will you plough through?

We all have fears; some large some small and some are downright embarrassing – small spaces anyone?  I dislike being closed in so literally run through any form of confined outside space – my husband finds it hilarious! Fears can hinder us from moving forward if we allow them to.  At times the fear of the unknown is worse than dealing with the actual issue. I have felt fear when thinking about undertaking a new challenging project or task. At this point I have no idea how I will manage the task or project, I could have sailed through with flying colours but fear left me feeling completely out of my depth.

Feeling an element of fear does us no harm, I am not referring to crippling fear where one is unable to function but a slight fear. The important factor in all of this is you choose to move despite the fear, that you do it scared.  If you are speaking at an event you may stumble on one or two words, if you are participating in a dance you may miss one or two steps, the key factor is you are doing it.  In this case fear is not holding you back but you are conquering fear – whether you feel it or not is an entirely different matter!

Many people present themselves as being fearless due to deciding to put their best foot forward and doing what they need to, to get where they want to. We have no idea how they feel inside whilst delivering. We accept whatever they present to us and people will in turn do the same for you.

A few tips:

1.  Accept you are fearful and CHOOSE to take a step.

2. Think about why you are fearful and try to deal with the root; scared of failing, scared of humiliation, too concerned with the opinion of others. Be honest with yourself.

3. Give yourself a reward after you have stepped out of your comfort zone.  It will act as an incentive.

Have you recently dealt with any fears?
What advice would you give to others?


What are your goals for 2018?

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and are planning towards a prosperous 2018.

This is the time of year when most people set out New Year goals. I know they are known as resolutions but I like to refer to them as goals.  We can be over-ambitious when writing our goals and as a result fail to focus on how we are going to actually achieve those goals on a practical level.  Without the small steps and milestones it is almost impossible to achieve the outcome we require. We need to break our goals down into small chunks therefore feeling a level of achievement when completing a task.  We also need to write our goals down on a notebook – the nicer the better!

I have been reflecting on the past year; which goals I met, which are ongoing and how I dealt with setbacks.

I did not quite finish reading the bible in the year but came close.  Had this not been one of my goals, I doubt I would have achieved even this.

I began reading more books towards the end of the year.  The only issue is where to store them as our bookshelf is full. I am slowly gravitating towards owning a kindle.

Another goal was enjoying each moment. I have certainly improved but there is room for development. My daughter recently complained I am always cleaning and tidying our home.  You would think she would appreciate living in a clean and tidy home. Her use of the word ‘always’ is somewhat misleading.  Perhaps she wanted my attention there and then as children do and became frustrated when I was busy doing housework.  Bearing in mind through the complaining, my daughter did not once offer to help to reduce my load.

I must say my mind pondered on hiring a cleaner on at least five occasions over the Christmas period.  I hosted nine people on Christmas Day and two family members over the week. Guests certainly equals more work but we had fun!

What goals did you set in 2017?
Did you put milestones in place?
Will you approach your goals in 2018 any differently?


Light hearted tips and advice from an organised lady!

Take No Fake

Listen to your inner voice and live your magic!

Word Bank Writing & Editing

Make Every Word Count

Emotionally Resilient Living

It's about making this life your own!


Children's Literature and Issues of Race

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