Back to Reality 2019

After crawling through Christmas with a horrible lingering cold… I’m not exactly bouncing into the new year feeling motivated!

Unlike my usual Back to Reality blogs about my plans and goals for the year ahead – my Back to Reality 2018 post was largely about planning less and not setting concrete goals.

And 2018 turned out to be a brilliant year! There were some very difficult times (which I might tell you more about later), but overall for me it was a fun, relaxed and happy year. Particularly in August when we got married then lived in a hut for 10 days!

There’s definitely something good about not planning too much. And after a decade of prioritising work, it was glorious to step off the treadmill and take time to prioritise life.

There are a couple of big lessons that I’ve learned over the last few years and in 2018 I put some habits into practice which I want to carry into 2019.

Lesson no.1: There is no such thing as a work/life balance.

This might sound like a sweeping statement and many of you might disagree. But this is something I heard Courtney Carver talking about on Instagram stories and it really changed the way I think about work/life balance.

If you’re self employed and working in a creative industry it is virtually impossible to find a “balance”, set boundaries and compartmentalise work time and life time. The edges are very blurry- sometimes work takes over and sometimes life takes over, but it’s difficult to find a lasting balance when you can’t easily separate the two.

So I’ve  given up my constant striving for the perfect work/life balance and instead I now focus on having a good sleep routine and ring-fencing some me-time each day and each week. This makes me feel like my time is more balanced overall and as a result – work feels less like work because I have some calm time every day to come back to.

I’ve tried various things including meditating and making green smoothies (well… beige smoothies). But these are the habits which have made the biggest difference for me… and I notice the difference if I let these habits slip:

  • Going to bed and getting up at the same time everyday… (a little bit later at weekends).
  • Switching my mobile off at dinnertime each night and leaving it in another room.
  • Going for a walk every day.

These three simple habits make my life feel so much more balanced than it used to even when I’m really busy.

Lesson no.2: I can’t say yes to everything.

This might be stating the obvious, but a lot of us struggle to say no! It might be work stuff or social stuff and you might be worried about letting people down or fearful that opportunities won’t come up again, but saying yes to everything generally ends up with us taking on too much.

In 2018 I accepted that I can’t do all the things I want to do and practiced saying “I’d love to, but I can’t right now”. And do you know what? Nothing terrible happened! I’m making decisions and planning ahead rather than just being carried by the tide and only dealing with what’s urgent. I have lots of exciting things planned for this year… but not too much!

It can be difficult to say no to things that I really want to do, but I’ve leaned the hard way that saying yes to lots of work opportunities means saying no to having free time. And I have a million things I enjoy doing in my free time so I occasionally need those evenings and weekends!

Being less busy means that I have more time to enjoy my life and enjoy my work. I’m so excited about my projects for 2019 and can’t wait to share them with you!

Back to Reality 2018

I just re-read my “Roll on 2017” blog and I’d completely forgotten how rubbish the end of 2016 was! I broke the oven, accidentally de-frosted the freezer, the washing machine flooded the utility room (again) and we had to cancel a holiday because Noodle broke his foot!

I’m glad that I had a more relaxed end to 2017…but I do think I would have been more equipped to deal with things going pear-shaped now that I’m not juggling two jobs.

I’ve always believed in giving myself a money “buffer” in case the boiler breaks or the roof caves in (I live in an old house…), but it’s equally important to have a time buffer. If every minute of every day is fully booked and planned out then what happens when things go wrong?

In 2018 I want to allow more time for “life admin”. The first big project I’m keen to focus on is minimalism – there are some rooms/areas of the house that we haven’t tackled yet. Also – clearing out stuff and getting rid of storage means I’m seeing all the areas that need re-decorating…so there’s lots to do and I’m really looking forward to having time to do it.

I’ve already painted a few walls and started putting up picture shelves which will be more flexible and make it easier to let go of old pictures when I introduce new.

My main plan for 2018 is to plan less! I love having a plan and a list of goals so I’m finding this really difficult! But I’ve given myself a basic weekly structure and a list of things I “could” do this year rather than a list of goals I “should” meet this year.

Whenever I find myself getting too busy I’m going to remind myself of what my real priorities are. The Minimalists point out that your “real priorities” are the things you actually do each day. So I might say that getting 8 hours sleep every night is a priority but then stay up late every night browsing Pinterest…so in reality I’m making Pinterest a priority above sleep.

I was really excited about 2017 because of the launch of Cute Comfort Knits and lots of other exciting things… but it was so busy I feel like I blinked and missed it! I’m equally excited about 2018… I don’t have as many concrete plans and I intend to savour every minute.

Hello 2018….I’m looking forward to seeing what you bring x

 

Back to Reality 2016!

Knitting

I do love my job – but getting back to reality after Christmas is always hard work! Mainly because when I have a week off I slip in to my natural night-owl rhythm and feel sort of  jet-lagged when I have to get back into routine.

I decided to look back at my blog from this time last year, and it was very similar to the blog I was planning to write today. I talked about not being very good at just sitting and relaxing – I like to be making, decorating or doing something, but at Christmas I find it difficult to settle on one thing and get things finished.

I posted six pictures of half finished projects and I’m happy to say most of them are now done! I finished the second mitten just before Christmas, Beardie’s scarf was done in time for winter (although it’s not been cold enough) and my Captivate cardie was finished earlier in the year. The granny square which I planning to use as an arm cover for my sofa ended up becoming a cushion and I’ve decided that the hexi blanket will stay the size it is!

The major work in progress is still my never ending rag rug! I’m actually getting close to finishing – so hopefully I’ll be blogging about that soon. Why I decided it needed to be two metres wide is beyond me! I am somewhat over-ambitious apparently.

So this year I don’t mind too much that I didn’t actually finish anything during my time off – because I did get a lot done and I know that everything will be finished at some point. I started decorating the bathroom, painted two sets of shelves, sorted out all my frames and pictures, spent a lot of time rag rugging, re-watched Star Wars episopes 1 to 6 (don’t bother with 1-3!) and saw The Force Awakens three times.

Alongside that I also found time for some knitting! I’ve neary finished my Wave cardigan by Kim Hargreaves – I just need to pick up and knit the neckline and sew it up. I’m looking forward to steaming it as it’s rather crumpled. I finished the back of my Brona jumper and started the front. And I impulse bought some faux-fur from Knit Nottingham and started a scarf!

Hopefully this time next year I will be able to say all these projects are finished!

In last years blog I also set myself three goals for the year:

  1. Do a bit more ‘nothing’. My new mindfulness book and weekly pilates lessons should help with this.
  2. Don’t start any new selfish making projects until I finish some. Focus!
  3. Give myself a holiday allocation and try not to feel guilty about having days off.

I’ve mostly stuck to these – apart from the not starting new projects until I’ve finished some! The third one remains the same but I’m going to tweak the first two:

  1. Allow myself more time to wind down in the evenings so I sleep better. No working after dinner (unless I have a deadline!), no looking at my phone after 10pm.
  2. Divide projects up into categories (ie – garment knitting, gift knitting, decorating & DIY, sewing, quilting) and only have one project on the go per category. Focus!
I hope your first week back to reality has been good? Most people seem to use this time of year to re-asses and make plans. This is great but can also be overwhelming. We’ve got a lovely shiny new year ahead of us and I’m sure all the important things we want to do will get done. At some point! x