Are you grateful? What are gratitudes & Why They Rock!

What are ‘gratitudes’?

I started writing gratitudes on the recommendation of Natalie Ellis, CEO of BossBabe.

Essentially, your ‘gratitudes’ are the things you are grateful for: the great things that happened that day, the people that have impacted you in a positive way, the life that you lead and the privilege with which you conduct it.

Why should I document my gratitudes?

There’s loads of great reasons to recognise the things you are grateful for.

  1. It’s really therapeutic. Taking 5 or 10 minutes out of your evening to write down the highlights of your day is an utterly relaxing experience. It encourages you to chill-out and boosts your mood.
  2. It’s good for your mental health. Taking stock of the good in your life helps to keep depression and anxiety at bay. You can remind yourself that ‘hey, my life is actually pretty good!’
  3. It helps to alleviate stress. Lists, in general, make you feel in control. When life is getting on top of you, a simple list of everything that’s going well is a good way to relax your spinning mind.
  4. It encourages an abundance mindset. Living with an abundance mindset means that you’re always satisfied that there is enough. Enough good, enough money, enough happiness. Keeping track of the things that make you happy is a sure fire way to produce a healthy abundance mindset.

How should I document my gratitudes?

People keep track of their gratitudes in different ways.

You could write them as Notes in your phone, record them as voice notes, write them on a whiteboard, sketch them out or simply jot them down.

I have a beautiful canvas notepad with flamingos on it (cute, riiiight?). Every night before I go to bed, well… usually whilst I’m in bed, I get out the coloured fine-liners and I write out 10(ish) things I’m grateful for that day – in my best handwriting, of course!

What kind of things do you write as gratitudes?

I try to split my gratitudes up across business, people and personal life.

For example: I got a new client/sent a quote/answered a referral. [Friend] invited me for coffee and we had a lovely chat. I got the house tidy and finally fixed that [inanimate object].

I love writing my gratitudes before bed. I sleep better when I end the day on the positives, rather than the stresses. Being creative makes me happy, so getting the coloured pens out is yet another bonus!

EXTRA TIP: Put the date at the top of the page – when you look back, you’ll be able to pinpoint significant events – or little events that became significant!

Schedule Blocking = Life

As the ‘Creative’ in your family or friendship group, you’re probably known for being a little… how do I say this… well, scatty! 

You’re not alone! Creatives, artists, writers etc. all find it difficult to be tethered down. Sometimes this can make it especially hard to see tasks through to the end or smash long-term goals. You can’t force yourself into tasks when it doesn’t feel natural – but you can trick your brain into focusing, enjoying tasks and seeking constant completion. BOOM… can you smell the productivity?

This, ladies and gentlemen, is my ultimate life hack. I have 121 things going through my brain at any one moment and, if I’m not enjoying a task, I can be easily distracted from it. This single, life-changing tip has enabled me to almost double my productivity, gain clarity and (crucially) relax.

What on earth is Schedule Blocking?

First things first, you need a diary with hours in. For example, Passion Planner, Moleskin and The Happiness Planner are all popular options. I have a Passion Planner (my second one) and I love it.

Every night, before I go to sleep, I write a to-do list. It helps me sleep knowing that as soon as I get up, I’m going to be told exactly what I need to do. When I wake up, I grab that to-do list and start adding it into my diary.

Start by looking at the tasks you need to complete and pick the worst one first. Draw a box to signify that time you’ll take to complete that task (i.e from 9am-10.30am). Write the task in the box and move on to the next one. Before you know it, your whole day will be scheduled.

My own planner 🙂

BONUS: Buy some nice pens and colour code those tasks (i.e red for working out, yellow for accounts, green for blogging etc etc.)

Schedule your breaks!

I like to leave a half hour slot in the morning, a half hour lunch slot and a half hour afternoon slot. This allows for any overflow, gives me time to stretch, put a few washes on… you know the drill.

Include phone calls and personal tasks in the schedule too – this will put a cap on potential procrastination type activities.

How does it work?

By giving yourself alloted time slots in which to complete things, you’ll find that your brain is constantly pushing to reach the bar. Once you’ve smashed the first couple of tasks, you can’t stop! It’s like trying to beat the Sat-Navs estimated ETA… you want to get there sooner.

Without really realising it, you’ve tricked yourself into being super productive. 

I couldn’t live without schedule blocking now. It helps me to formulate my day and ensures that I attribute time to working on my business, as well as in it.

Why getting up disgustingly early is good for you…

The latest I ever get up is 6.30am. I don’t start with my first client (currently) until 8.30… so why so early?

I’m 100% committed to the belief that early mornings make you more productive…and here’s why:

  • Proper breakfast: I DO NOT understand people who don’t eat breakfast. It’s bad for you! If you get up earlier your body has more time to adjust to the fact that it’s time to eat. Plus, more time = more pancakes. Jussayin.
  • Exercise: I know, you’re starting to hate me. Every morning I go on a 1.5mile run. It’s not very far and only takes about 15 minutes or less. It gets my heart pumping, wakes me up and makes me feel accomplished for the rest of the day. It also makes me feel less guilty about the pancakes…
  • Hit the emails: If you’re one for checking your emails late into the night – switch that habit up! Any email after 7pm can be dealt with in the morning. Plus, how awesome do you look responding to emails first thing… v.awesome.
  • Time to get ready: That extra half an hour gives you time to ensure you’ve got everything you need for the day. If any emergencies occur in the morning (I’m talking to you random hair/wardrobe/coffee machine malfunctions) you’ve got time to sort it out without getting major anxiety about being late.
  • Chores: Gross right? But it feels SO GOOD to get home to find your washing is dry and the dishwasher has gone through. Give your past self a mini high five.

Vile as it sounds, early mornings have really helped me kickstart my business – and they’re here to stay! I cherish my 3pm playdates with my godchildren, knowing I put in the legwork at 6 or 7am.

Let’s round this post off with a cliché… Work smarter, not harder. Mm K?

The Freelance Rollercoaster

So, I was recently at a networking event with a new friend who’s just setting up her business. She said ‘I feel like I’m losing momentum at the moment, but everyday in this journey is such a rollercoaster of emotions’.

This really got me thinking. Being a writer, and therefore quite creative, I fit the stereotype of ‘I’ve just got a lot of emotions OKAY’. Then I thought, maybe I’m being way too harsh on myself. This is a rollercoaster ride – in fact, running any business is! Some days I sink into a bath at 10pm and let out an exhausted sigh, thinking about the one piece of criticism I received that day. Other times I lie awake at night trying to figure out if that client really liked my piece of work or stressing about how I’m going to awkwardly chase a load of invoices. One simple criticism or spelling mistake can have me doubting my credibility and generally tearing myself down.

Other days, I’m euphoric! Invoices are getting paid, I’m getting client referrals and nice emails from current clients. Networking events fill me with excitement and buzz, being surrounded by such infectiously enthusiastic people. A company I’d been writing content for asked me to write the content for their own website. I all but burst into happy tears!

Maybe I’m the odd one out, but I really don’t think I am. It’s ok if some days you walk in the front door, fall into the sofa and a let out a few frustrated tears. It’s ok if you just want to repeatedly knock your forehead onto the keyboard or pour a glass of wine at 4pm on a Wednesday. Sh*t happens.

But don’t lose sight of the fact that in-between all the ups and downs, you’re building your empire. You’re not filling someone else’s pockets – the buck stops with you, and there’s power in that. Every criticism and every compliment belong solely to you, not many people get that kind of accountability in their day-to-day jobs.

Finally… I get it. You’re not alone. In fact, if you want reassurance that freelancing is full of bugbears, simply post about it on LinkedIn and watch the whole freelance community stand by your side!

What should you outsource? : Small businesses ❤ Small businesses

rawpixel-com-247360.jpgAs a small business owner, you know that time is money is money is time. Every hour you spend not on your business feels like throwing £20 notes into the toilet. However, it’s very easy to become all consumed by working for your business, that you forget to enjoy the perks – the very reasons you started all this.

Most small business owners began their entrepreneural career because they wanted more control, more freedom, but crucially more life. So why are you spending your precious evenings glued to an Excel spreadsheet? Why are you spending your Saturday morning looking for items for your premises or trawling the internet for new stock?

You’ve got your priorities wrong. You need outsourcing. But what should you outsource?

  1. Book-keeping: It’s the biggest headache for most sole traders and small businesses. You know you have to do it but it’s complicated and laboriously time-consuming. Just cut it out. You’ll save yourself hours (and therefore, money) by employing a freelance professional to keep your books in tip top condition. April will be a BREEZE.
  2. Website: Whilst there are plenty of cheap, or even free, ways to create a website – you have to face facts. You are not going to be as good as the professionals. Hiring a web designer or even just buying a theme for your site will save you HTML headaches and design blunders.
  3. Content marketing: In short, your social media. When you’ve got a hundred other tasks to do that make up the lifeblood of your business, social media definitely takes a back seat. It doesn’t have to! Getting someone to take control of your online presence means you can rest assured that potential customers are seeing your content and you can continue putting the best of you into your business!

The best place to look for people to outsource to is within your local business community. Finding a small business, just like yours, in your local area means that not only can you easily meet and discuss your goals – but you’re also singing from the same hymn-sheet. No one gets an entrepreneurs goals like another entrepreneur! So utilise the ones near you.

Check out sites such as peopleperhour, freelancer, Facebook and Instagram to find your best local services.

Why Do Millennials Go Freelance?

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I’ve noticed in recent months that there has been a huge increase in articles on the subject of how millennials (not sure I particularly enjoy that word) are changing the business scene – the face of commerce.

Increasingly, more and more young people are leaving the office, the commute and the extortionate price of renting in inner cities, behind them. In the last year I have personally ‘gone-freelance’ and happily applauded as handfuls of my friends and former fellow students have turned their hand to running small businesses or going it alone.

One word. Freedom. So called ‘millennials’ are really the first internet generation. We almost struggle to recall a time when the Internet didn’t exist. We went from playing with plastic dolls and teddy bears, straight into dial-up, The Sims and MSN Messenger. We kick started social media followings from MySpace, to Bebo, to Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram and Snapchat. We know how this stuff works and we know how to market ourselves for free. Gone are the days of choosing your new wardrobe from paper catalogues and billboard models. Advertising is free and the customer has the ultimate choice – we know this because we’ve spent our teenage years as the customer with the ultimate choice.

Going freelance allows us to be entirely in control of our money, our workload and our geography. It appeals to millennials because it allows us to work anywhere in the world, but also enables us to take a break as and when we choose. Flexi-time contracts and offices that place strong emphasis on breaks and down-time, are incredibly popular. Freelance work takes you one step further. Having spent years in education under the immense pressure to succeed, going into working life can feel just as stressful. By operating in a freelance paradigm, you’re free to work when you work best.

I wake up early, I start work around 8am – but I’ve usually checked my e-mails before this. I have long lunch breaks, or even go to the gym in the middle of the day. I work into the evening about 4 days a week. I usually work for a few hours on Saturdays and I always do paperwork on Sundays. This might sound like a lot of work – and it is. However, for 2 weeks this summer I was in the Caribbean and one week I was in Europe, plus several weekends away in the country – that’s the beauty of freelance, I can work anywhere.

In a nutshell, from speaking to friends and gleaning from my own personal experience, that’s why millennials are increasingly turning to freelancing for work.

My job is helping small businesses with the digital and design support they need, therefore, I fully support freelancers and small businesses and would actively encourage anyone considering taking the plunge to just for it!

Freelance is the future.