Tag Archives: Achievement

Making the most of time after work…

This is more of a ‘life as it happens to be’ learning as I go type of post, rather than an article of helpful advice (although I’ll try to include helpful tips where I can), quite simply because this is an area of on-going learning and development for me.

The different spheres in which we move, and live:

Some of you out there may have particularly unique or fascinating jobs that don’t quite fit a predictable ‘pattern’ of set hours or locations. Maybe your work involves traveling across the world, through different time zones and maybe some of you could get called to work at any time of the day or the night. However, I imagine that most of us who are working adults tend to have a set number of hours for which we are paid to work each week, and in set locations. Even if you work from home and / or run your own business/s, you tend to wake up on a Monday morning (if Monday is a working day for you) knowing where you are meant to be and what you are supposed to do              (although, first thing on a Monday morning thoughts about the latter might be a little foggy! : – ) ).

It’s important to have that delineation between work and leisure time, and this may be a particular challenge for people who work for themselves and / or work from home for the most part because the physical and psychological space between home and work will tend to be less defined.

Why is it important to have this distinction? Obviously our lives involve elements of ‘cross-over’ in many respects, however, we need a basic degree of separation in order to protect our own mental and emotional well-being, in order to know when to stop, when to rest, and when to work.

‘After work’ time:

Once we have ‘downed tools’ for the day, we move from one sphere of living into another. For me this involves completing work tasks, ‘powering down’, physically leaving one building to make a short commute to get home. That is quite a clear demarcation for me, as it will be for many of you, with the travel time in between allowing us to mentally process the sphere from one part of our day and life into the next.

Making the most of my time is an on-going lesson for me, and perhaps for many of you. I have quite clear ideas of what my life priorities are, and how I would like to spend my time. I set goals not only at the start of the year, but also try to do this for each new month throughout the year, and on the whole I manage to spend valuable time on each of the areas of life that are most important to me, and that are within my grasp to be able to do so.

However, isn’t it often the case that we can feel ‘rushed’ in our lives and unable to fully give as much time and attention to what we want to do? Do you ‘wait for the weekend’, for your next holiday, or even for retirement? I personally don’t think that’s a way that I want to be living my life, when each day is packed full of opportunity. It’s just that sometimes we aren’t able to make the most of each of our days. Why?

What considerations to we need to take into account that might be hindrances to fully living the life we want to lead?

At work, I’m getting more opportunities to use my project management skills, and to work with others as part of a team to be involved in the implementation and progress of new initiatives. I do like a good plan, and when it comes to successful planning and project implementation at work this can be particularly satisfying. Often projects can fall by the wayside because of poor planning and a lack of comprehensive discussion and brainstorming between the right people. At the moment it seems that I am involved with a good team on a particular project, who have introduced a new project planning tool which is particularly good for assessing progress and making people aware of tasks and relevant deadlines.

When it comes to work, and my work has been quite varied over the years, I am always either ahead of time or on schedule with work tasks and projects.

However, when it comes to all the things I want to do, enjoy and achieve before or after work, I tend to be far more lenient on myself. Does this also ring true for you?

For starters, we are but human, and our bodies and minds need rest and refreshing. We also need to eat and sleep, and preparing a meal takes time, and the window of time between getting home, doing what is needed to sustain us, and then going to bed is relatively small.

Learning through different approaches:

I used to have an idea in mind of the different things I would want to do after work. I realised that I couldn’t possibly do them all, so at one point I would try to set aside specific days for different things such as exercise, playing my violin, going to my prayer and study group, writing, art and creative pursuits, photography, reading, devotional time and so on.

I then tried the approach of ‘going with the flow’, since I already have a very clear idea of the different things I want to spend my time on, and ideas of new things I want to learn and do and people to spend time with.

Yet, the reality of things meant that ‘going with the flow’ of how I felt often resulted in me whiling away an evening eating dinner and watching TV or getting distracted by the online world of YouTube, etc. Not that there’s anything wrong with spending time doing this to wind down, it’s just that I would feel a little disappointed when I knew that I wanted to be more productive and spend at least a little time doing other things.

I also tried the idea of doing things for a small amount of time and then doing something else. This tends to work quite well for me especially at the weekends, but not always so much on a week night.

Sometimes I think that I’ll do certain things in a week without having any set time or day, and at times this works out for me.

I’ve been working on writing a novel for 12 years, and I’ve been making good progress, however, even with writing being so important to me and a real passion of mine, I sometimes get a bit ‘lazy’ about it, feeling that I need to have longer stretches of ‘set aside’ time to really get going. If you are interested in this aspect of my life, take a look through my posts from last year and the year before when I had my own personal writing retreats, taking time off to just work on my novel and my writing, which was hugely satisfying but also took me out of the ‘real world’ for a time.

One year I marked in my diary set aside writing time every evening – even if it was just a few minutes a day. Suffice to say, this didn’t work for me, and perhaps I didn’t like the self imposed constraints. It is nice to do things spontaneously, but at the same time, we don’t approach work goals that way, so similarly personal goals and dreams need to be worked towards, and time and effort needs to be put in. I don’t want to reach the end of a day, a month or a year, or my lifetime and feel that I ‘frittered’ away my time being distracted by what’s on the TV or the internet, when I have so many dreams to fulfil.

Yet in order to do all these wonderful things, to live the lives we want to, we also need to factor in those practicalities I mentioned earlier of eating well, getting the right amount of sleep, exercising to stay healthy and having time to wind down, relax and do nothing, or just enjoy a good TV programme!

Being present:

Lately I’ve been aware of the beauty in life of being present in the moment, and enjoying the process of my life, of ‘being’. Enjoying the colours, and aromas of cooking, enjoying staring into space and daydreaming, of not getting stressed if everything I want to do isn’t done, and trying to do some of the important things to me each week.

It can be hard for all of us to keep on top of things at times. We need to do all the practical things from day to day, to maintain our homes, and possibly for many to look after other people as well. I’m all too aware of not letting myself get ‘burnt out’ precisely because I have been in the past, which might be partly why I realise the importance of also spending time doing things that are important to me and life enriching rather than only doing things for other people, while also knowing that helping others thrive is an important part of life too.

A learning curve….and I’m still learning….

As I said at the start, I’m still learning. Being mindful of what is important to me, however, and giving myself the opportunity to take time for these things (even if it is just five minutes at a time) has helped me to make far better use of my time than if I hadn’t spent time reflecting and thinking about things.

I find blogging very satisfying, and life enhancing, and I am glad that I have managed to sustain a regular writing ‘habit’ if you could call it that (although I personally don’t see it at all as a habit, so much so as simply pursuing something that I enjoy doing and hopefully encourages other people). If I didn’t put in the time to do this, maybe I’d just have whiled away my time mindlessly on things that don’t really come up in my priorities in life, such as watching TV, although that’s ok as long as it isn’t the only thing we do with our non-working time.

I’ve found that it has also benefited other people who have told me that my words have brought encouragement to me, which means so much to me. Do you realise that your own gifts and talents have an impact not only in your own life but the lives of others too. You are making a difference in the world.

When we know what is important to us that is perhaps the first step towards making the most of our time. We will find a way and we will keep learning along the way.

Over to you:

Can you relate to any of the thoughts I’ve expressed in terms of your own life and learning? Do you have any ‘pearls of wisdom’ to share with me, and other readers? What are you blessed to be able to spend your time doing, and how would you like to make better use of your time? Do you have any ideas of how you can do things better?

Thank you so much for taking your time to read this and hopefully it has also been time well spent for you. Be blessed. x

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Notes from a Writer on Retreat! 8

Well, it’s the final ‘writerly’ update from day 1 of my 3 day writing retreat. I’m very thankful that my prayers for this time have been answered, and I was able to push past any resistance within myself to not only reach my day’s target of writing 3,500 words of my novel, but exceeding that by 220 words to write 3,720 words.

I started well in the morning, but as the day progressed I toyed with the idea of going out for a walk or doing other things around the house while taking a break, and then I felt a bit of tiredness and resistance while sitting at the computer, but setting small goals (of writing for at least 15 minutes at a time) has helped me enormously to break down a task into manageable ‘mini writing goals’. 

I didn’t end up doing all of the other things I thought about doing, but I did reach my main aim for the time of making progress with my book, and for that I am very grateful. And once I pushed past my internal barriers, I was able to find new avenues for plot and character development as well as self expression, so all in all it has been a productive writing day. 

It is 5.20pm now, and I have been writing since late last night / early morning, so I think I will ‘down tools’ for tonight, and may even get to enjoy the rest of the day doing other things. 

Enjoy the rest of your day, whatever it finds you doing, and keep setting those small manageable goals, for each effort adds up to something bigger. 🙂 Thank you for reading. 

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Notes from a Writer on Retreat! 7 (Choose to use the time to meet your goal).

When is the write time? How about now. 

Well, my friends, the first few hours of this 3 day writing retreat have been a learning curve already. In my last update I wrote about finding balance when absorbing oneself in a creative project. However, I also need to qualify that with ensuring that in seeking balance we don’t forget our purpose, especially when our ‘set aside time’ is for a short duration, such as three days like mine.

I took a short break – I am now fed, watered, and a little rested. The sun is shining (which is not the most common occurrence where I live), the thought of sitting in the park or taking photos is appealing to me. I have dishes needing done, tidying up to do, exercise that I wanted to do, and my other creative projects to dip into. 

I am more than half way towards meeting my goal of 3,500 words for today. And yet…

During my short ‘down time’ while looking up writing retreat vlogs on YouTube, I came across one in which a young woman and her writer friend were on a 4 day retreat, and she failed to meet her goals, partly because she took breaks and treated herself to a refreshing visit to the nearby beach when she had only made inroads towards meeting her writing goals. She regretted not focusing on accomplishing her daily goal before treating herself to a longer leisure time. 

It got me to thinking just how important writing is to me, and how I don’t get focused time to do it often, and one of my goals / dreams since childhood has been to be a novelist, and now it is at least to write the one novel that has been birthed in my soul through some deep, painful and inspiring experiences that if I don’t write it, part of my ‘life purpose’ would have remained unfulfilled. By the grace of God I will accomplish the dream put upon my heart.

So I need to remind myself that while it is good, healthy and desirable to take breaks and find balance, the sun will shine another day, I will definitely spend time in the park again, the dishes will be washed and the house tidied and other little creative projects done, and I will find and make time to exercise and keep well. 

But for now, I will choose to honour the gift of this time and the purpose I have chosen for this time and get back to writing, and enjoying doing what I love. 

Which leads me to ask you, is there something, some dream, goal or project, however modest you might think it seems, that you would like to accomplish? And if so, are you giving it the time, care and attention you feel it deserves? Or are other distractions, priorities or tasks that can wait for another moment or another day keeping you from accomplishing your goal? 

Well, that’s my ‘post-break’ update, and as it’s 1.33pm, I am going to get back to it. 

Let’s stay on course, and accomplish our goals! 🙂

P.S. Apologies that these notes are fairly ‘rushed’ updates, I spend more time crafting the prose in my novel while here I can just share as things come to mind, and I am appreciative of that. Thanks for reading 🙂

alarm clock lying on multicolored surface
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Notes from a Writer on Retreat! 2

Well, my friends, I have successfully traversed from Sunday night into the early hours of Monday morning. It is currently 12.07am, and as such my ‘official’ set aside retreat time has started. 

I was able to settle in on Sunday night and do a bit of re-reading of the last section of my novel. This was followed by distraction and procrastination by way of looking up vlogs on YouTube from other people who have been on writing retreats. I haven’t actually ‘gone’ anywhere, I’m being cosy and reclusive in my own home, but I have taken time out specifically to write. 

Procrastination was followed by cups of tea, a snack, cooking and eating pasta (with fried mushrooms, sweetcorn and red pesto) for dinner, and more re-reading. I finally got caught up with reading the last section of my book, and was able to settle down to write. 

I managed to write 528 words, and reach a significant point of development with one of my characters, introduce a new character and establish an unexpected and new part of the plot. 

It was a little emotional to read over some of what I had written, but these new developments see some positive changes, so I am excited to see where it all leads tomorrow (or, I should say ‘today’ as it is now technically the very early hours of Monday morning). 

I am pretty tired now, so this may be a bit incoherent, and apologies if so! 🙂 

I think I shall settle in, have a hot chocolate and wind down, and maybe watch something or do something creative before I go to sleep. 

Lesson from this note are if you are going to have a creative retreat, make sure you have snacks, caffeine, inspiration and focus – and most of all enjoy doing and creating what you love. 

Goodnight …thanks for reading. 🙂 

brown notebook in between of a type writer and gray and black camera
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The small things are actually the big things…

birds

Weren’t we all created to soar? And yet how many of us feel like we have been buffeted by too many a storm, have had our wings clipped, and our hearts broken? Maybe the dreams we once had never took flight, and now we don’t see much point in ever seeking to soar the way we deep inside feel or wish that we were meant to. 

Do you feel like that? The world we live in is replete with things that might dull our sparkle, burst our dreams, and render us unable to soar. Have you experienced this? The unkind words spoken to or about you perhaps not long ago, perhaps decades ago, that just don’t seem to leave you, affect your mental health, your view of yourself as valuable or worthy, your view of how others see you, and the opportunities you let yourself (or don’t) take. Maybe you have been bound and caged by more than just words (not that words themselves aren’t powerful and can be deeply harmful)…perhaps you have suffered abuse, physical harm, neglect, fear, uncertainty, and a whole host of things that I couldn’t perhaps imagine.  

But somehow, you have found yourself here. Right now. Today. Reading this blog. And you feel like you are a failure or are not good enough, that your life hasn’t amounted to very much, and maybe you just need a big friendly virtual hug from a friend you don’t know, but who longs to encourage you. If you are that person, thank you for being here, thank you for reading this, and thank you for being you. Do you know what? I am that person too…and that’s why I’m reaching out to you. I’m not here to preach to you and I’ll mention this only briefly in this particular post, but you can find more in my ‘faith posts’, however, the Only true way to be released from your prison or cage is by the unfailing LOVE of Jesus Christ, and however long that journey might be for you, I hope you one day find rest in His love for you. 

That being said, you might be wondering what the title of this post refers to. The small things are the big things. Friend, we may have been bruised, broken, tossed by tempest, storm and winds of circumstance and change, we may have felt (or even been) caged, imprisoned, oppressed, mistreated, made to feel unlovely, unlovable, unwanted, undesirable, unworthy, and so much less that we actually are. 

But, listen….we are here. Now. And do you know why the small things are the big things? Because every time you get up again after being knocked down, you are doing something incredible. However small you might feel your achievements are, if you have taken the next breath through anxiety, depression, darkness or fear, you have made a great statement – you *are* worthy, you *can* do it, you *will* persevere, and you *are* special. 

If you have continued on despite feeling like you have ‘fallen behind’ your peers, you are exceptional. If you have faced opposition from within and without, if you have not given up, if you got up when you felt like disappearing, if you went outside when you felt like hiding, if you spoke to someone when you felt afraid, if you took care of yourself, your health, and did the next small thing when it was most difficult to do so, whether through depression, anxiety, fear, pain, loss, grief, loneliness or whatever it may be, you did a great BIG thing, and dear friend, if you did it before, you can, you will do it again. So don’t underestimate yourself  or the value of your small achievements…for at the end of the day the small things are actually the big things, and sometimes the small decisions and choices we make are the ones that will change our course and change our lives! Be blessed. xx