Do you truly switch off during “leisure time?”

leisure-time-gaming-board-38190882.jpg.cf

I was watching the show of an American TV host (as you do) and she discussed a rather important issue; people carrying out a number of activities at once. She mentioned those who watch television programmes or films whilst surfing the Internet. She went on to question how on earth can they fully engage in either activity.  I will gladly put my hands up and confess that I am a culprit of this. I must say only when the programme or film fails to captivate my attention. I am a fussy viewer, I will not watch anything with particular actors/ actresses as the lead role. Ocassionally, I fail to see the fuss in films which others rave about. I obviously expect far too much!

It really is a bad habit to dip in and out of activity but is this what we have become accustomed to; multi-tasking even during leisure time?

Now, we have a multitude of online games, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapshot, a gazillion blogs to read and so on, we can if not careful spread ourselves too thinly. Nowadays, I stick to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn and this is primarily due to blogging and wanting to increase my readership. On first joining twitter this year (an extremely late starter) I was rather overwhelmed by the number of bloggers which existed. It felt as if I had walked into a whole new world!

I try as much as possible to post on FaceBook/twitter, draft my blogs, message readers/followers whilst on my commute or late at night. This enables me to truly be “with” my family when I am with them.  Family time, prayer and bible reading time is important to me and as a result, I factor this time in BEFORE carrying out other activities. 

Whilst I cannot promise to refrain from using my phone whilst watching disappointing films, I will endeavour to be present when with others, whether watching a film or eating a meal with friends. 

Do you easily switch off during leisure time?

Do you allocate regular time for specific activities?

Advertisements

Are you working towards being financially secure?

iStock_000017252095Small.jpg.cf

To some, retirement may seem like a long way off; another lifetime almost. It is tempting to live for today and leave the future to sort itself out. As a twenty something year old, paying into a pension did not appeal to me at all. Retirement seemed so far away in the distance and quite frankly I desired to live for the short term; holidays, clothes, eating out. I am thankful to my mother for instilling the importance of paying into a pension from a young age. 

One may think along the lines of “I will live one way or another”. The question I have is how will you live? Will you be comfortable after retirement or will you be living on the bread line? It is no fun as an elderly person deciding whether to buy food or heat your home. This is the circumstance in which many elderly people in the UK live in. Those who were not employed on a permanent basis or did not prepare for their future are existing on a meagre state pension.

If you take out a pension with your organisation, your employer will contribute a percentage.  Yes, you will forfeit a portion of your monthly income but the benefit of this far outweighs the reduction.  

If you are self employed you can set up your own “nest egg” with a bank or other financial institution.  Do thorough research before making a decision. Identify which plan will work best for you and your family.

The saying below has always stuck with me: 

“You reap what you sow.” 

We are often required to sacrifice now in order to gain later.  This will mean thinking beyond tomorrow, next month and even next year. It will mean planning for your future; that in the event of life changing circumstances, your home and livelihood will be taken care of. 

Do you have plans in place for your future?

What or who encouraged you to take action? 

What advice would you give to a young adult today who is reluctant to take up a pension plan/save for the long term?

Introverts – have you found your place?

goldfish jumping out of the water
goldfish jumping out of the water

In my opinion, institutions in general appear to “celebrate” extroverts from school to corporate companies. Extroverts thrive off the energy from others whereas introverts gain energy from taking time out to gather their thoughts. 

Extroverts tend to think far more than they speak.  In the working environment, I mull over responses in my mind, by the time I am ready to bring it to the table, a colleague beats me to it!

I struggled at secondary school for a number of reasons, my introverted nature did not help matters at all. I preferred speaking to peers one on one and avoided being in large groups. There was a main bus stop where the cool pupils “hung out” and another bus stop further down in a quiet spot – guess which one I used?

As a teenager, I did not understand the concept of introvert and extrovert.  I do recall wondering why I was different, why I preferred to read a book in the corner while my sister played with my cousins, why I did not like sudden loud noises or anything rowdy and why I was happy having only one or two friends. At one stage I attempted to be outgoing like a friend of mine. She was the life and soul of the party and people gravitated towards her. Let me tell you that it lasted for less than a week!

What I do find interesting is my children are extroverts, especially my daughter.  She loves being the centre of attention and is friendly with many children at school, even those in other year groups. While I find their dramatics tiring, I am rather pleased they are more “out there” than I was as a child.

Just to throw this in – while I am introverted, I am also sociable and can come across as outgoing depending on the setting.  When I am with you, I am truly with you. I engage and take a genuine interest in people. In fact I am intrigued by others and enjoy “people watching.”

I also take time out to recharge on a daily basis – see below for how;

1. I go to lunch alone whether I go for a walk (one has to keep trim) or I find a meeting room and bring my lunch and a magazine.

2. I spend the last hour at night alone to collect my thoughts and just be me. My husband likes to go to bed at a reasonable time while I am a night owl – jackpot!

3. At weekends, during the day I take myself off to my room or any room just for a short while. 

4. I avoid making or receiving telephone calls on week day evenings unless it is an emergency or pre-arranged. I am more than happy to text at anytime as this does not require me engaging in a conversation.

I hope you find these tips useful. I look forward to hearing your views.

Are you an introvert? 

How does this fit in with work, home life and other activities?

Budgeting – what is your view?

budgeting.jpg.cf

I have come across many arguments for and against budgeting. Some feel budgeting can limit your mindset to only aiming for what you know you can afford. Others believe that you should always live within your means whether you have little or much. 

The downside to budgeting is you can easily grow obsessed with your finances and allow it to consume you. As much as we require money to function in this world, it should not make us anxious or steal our joy. 

I am of the opinion that you should strike a balance between living within your means whilst accomodating the finer things in life, where possible. I am a great believer in budgeting but am also aware that doing so day in, day out can become a drudgery. We all need treats (well I do), after a long, hard day whether that be in paid employment, running a business or being a stay at home parent. 

Ways in which you can “cut your cloth” without feeling deprived;

1. You may be a lover of coffee but your budget does not allow you to buy an expresso on your way to work daily. Buy one expresso a week, perhaps on a day when you will be working late or have a busy schedule. 

2. Always, always allocate “spending money” for yourself every month regardless of how little the amount may be. You may have no need to use it all but it is there should you need it. Your spending money should cover your personal spends from a meal out with friends to purchasing a new jacket.  

3. Plan months in advance for big purchases such as a weekend break or concert tickets. Save monthly until you arrive at the amount you need.

4. Avoid making impulse buys and be wary of clothes sales. More often than not we buy items only because they are reduced. If they were advertised at the full price we probably would not give them a second glance.

Do you live within your means or do you buy as you desire and face the consequences later?

How do you strike a balance to ensure quality of life? 

What lessons have you learnt from your “failures?”

Failure-Quotes-4.jpg.cf

I read an interesting article in Stylist magazine, a free paper magazine for women, generally circulated outside all London stations. Columnist and Features Writer, Lucy Mangan spoke of her “CV failures”. This is the first I had heard of the term “CV failure”. My initial thought was,

“Why would you make a point of noting life’s failures?”
“Is the memory not painful enough?”

Johannes Haushofer, a Princeton professor said this reminds us that failure is a hidden but a normal and healthy part of one’s life.

As a teenager I dreamt of being a journalist. I loved reading books, magazines and the media in general. I still do! Like Lucy, I applied for jobs with publishing companies, a well known newspaper, even with the BBC news section. I was moved by the fierce competition and did not appreciate that I would be required to work for peanuts (or for anything at all) as an intern or junior despite being a graduate.  I did have the privilege of writing for the Jamaican Gleaner newspaper over a two year period as volunteer. I still have the articles!

On occasion, when watching the news, I closely observe the newsreader and think;

“That could have been me. Perhaps if I had been willing to work as a runner or intern to get my feet into the BBC or other media company, it would be paying off for me right now.”

As an enthusiastic and somewhat naive graduate, I knew the salary I wanted and my focus was on moving into my own home and travelling abroad.  As it turns out I did both.

Reflecting on your past decisions has its benefits. It may well bring up issues or indeed experiences you would much rather leave behind but it allows you to accept these failings and move on. 

What was your dream job as a teenager? Was it a phase or did you spend years carving out this career?

Do you look to your past with regret or do you see your life experiences as having made you the person you are today?

Is your wardrobe summer ready?

th

Summer is here – well almost! I just love seeing the blue skies and walking on a crisp sunny day.

How prepared is your wardrobe? 

You can usually find at least one person within a family or group of friends with a wardrobe stacked full of clothes, so much so they cannot see the wood for the trees.  If you cannot think of anyone, it is probably you!

As a way of alleviating space in my wardrobe, I rotate my clothes every six months or so. As winter approaches, I pack my summer clothes and shoes in the loft. I do the same with my winter clothes as summer approaches. This allows my clothes to breathe and for me to identify exactly what I own and where the gaps in my wardrobe are.

I also use the opportunity to discard of any items I no longer like, those which look worn or do not fit as well as they previously did. Now is not the time to become sentimental. If you have not worn an item in six months, it is unlikely you will again unless it is an outfit for a special occasion.

Choose a morning or afternoon to go through your wardrobe. Play some music in the background to keep you motivated. Sort clothes into three piles;

1. Keep – must have clothes that are in good condition and fit well

2. May keep – clothes that fit well but you do not wear often

3. Throw – clothes which do not fit well, look tatty, you have not worn in over six months

I suggest buying plastic vacuum storage bags which eliminate air, resulting in clothes taking up half the room than usual. Place bags in your loft or perhaps your garage or other storage place.

One word of advice; do not pack seasonal clothes away until you are 100% sure the climate has changed. I have been caught out on several occasions. One year there were a few (fluke) sunny days so I hastily packed away my winter boots. As the temperature dropped I sheepishly asked my husband to retrieve my boots from the loft!

Do you have a process for sorting your summer and winter clothes?

Are you willing to be inconvenienced?

28f451d07d6ffdbafed81690d5fe5197.jpg.cf

Several weeks ago the water suddenly stopped flowing through our shower head. We were forced to take baths in the time it took for my husband to buy and fix a new shower head. I remember thinking;

“What an inconvenience. A shower takes five minutes in the morning when I wake at 5.30am for work. A bath will mean waking up even earlier”.  

I also complained a little which at the time made me feel better but did not solve the issue at hand.

I am sure you can think of numerous times in which you have been inconvenienced. It brings you out of an area of comfort and may mean putting the needs of others before yourself. It may mean doing the very thing you have been trying to avoid due to fear, lack of time and other challenges.

Often we need to endure for a time in order to reap later. Think of the writer or director who finally finishes their book or box office film. It took years for then to arrive at that point. They worked long hours, probably declined social engagements and spent a lot of time away from family members.  Think of the parent who is tired after a long day at work and their child is updating them on the most trivial aspects of their day. They listen because they care and want to have a close relationship with their child.

The evangelist Joyce Meyer quoted;

“People often want what others have, but are not prepared to do what they did to get it.”

For those of you with dreams and visions, putting plans into place now will mean you are more likely to succeed.  Making the sacrifices now will pay off later. Naturally, it is easier to do what fits into our lifestyle, to do what does not require us to reduce our sleep/social time. Living such a life will only bring mediocrity. Change is required in order for us to progress – it may be a slight change or a major upheaval.

What sacrifices are you making now for later gain?

Perhaps your sacrifices are a life long commitment. 

Light hearted tips and advice from an organised lady!