Amy Poehler once said “As you navigate through the rest of your life, be open to collaboration. Other people and other people’s ideas are often better than your own. Find a group of people who challenge and inspire you, spend a lot of time with them, and it will change your life”
Yesterday, I felt inspired to write a post about the value of creating routines and habits that support the life you want to lead. As soon as I had that inspired thought, another occured to me. Why not ask the many women I am connected with through Facebook to see what they do – after all, my take on habits and routines might not suit everyone. The more input I get, the more chance there is that everyone who reads the post can find something that works for them.
I was absolutely blown away by the response! I had messages from 40 women in total, all of whom shared some wonderful tips, suggestions, and insights. I was going to select a few, but couldn’t bring myself to do that, so decided to include them all! So pull up a chair, grab a cuppa and settle down for a long read! It will be worth it!
I have tried to categorise them into household, wellbeing, productivity and work, and relationships. There will probably be some crossover, as taking care of one area of our lives always impacts other areas. I have added in a few of my own tips as well, so without further ado, I give you…..
The Wise Women!
The piece of advice that made me smile the most, and wonder what my life would look like if I could adopt it, was the one piece of advice I was utterly unable to put into a category. If you follow all round wonderwoman Kay Newton’s advice to “Pretend you have a film crew with you each day”, how would you show up in your relationships, how would you take care of your wellbeing, who would you be in your work? If your life was a reality TV show, what would you do differently? Bear this in mind as you read the words from the rest of the wise women!
Absolutely not my forte, I am certainly going to pay attention to these lessons.
Massage therapist Jo Burton’s advice is “to have 2 duvet sets. As you take off one set and put them in the wash put the other one on before you go out/get distracted.
It avoids that disappointment later when you are tired and just want to jump into bed! “
I had never thought of that, how brilliantly simple and helpful!
My Mum, Christine Nagle, shared the advice she had spent years trying (in vain) to teach me….”When you’ve finished using something put it back where it belongs immediately.” Meg Ward, Branding expert at shareyourbigidea.com added to this “create places for things to belong!!” Reflexologist Tracy Thomas also shared the idea of putting things away when finished with, as well as the very sage advice ‘Get off Facebook when you mean to!
Sam Fisher, a fellow Queens of the Stone Age fan, and Naomi Stinton, who I have known since we were teenagers, both shared the benefits of meal planning.
Naomi wrote “We both work fulltime, Mon – Fri, and get about 3 hours with the kids between getting them up (and fed,dressed and out the door) and getting them fed and to bed, so every second counts. Taking half an hour a month to sit down and put together a menu plan for the month not only eliminates the ‘what do we make for dinner tonight’ stress, but as you’re only buying what you actually need, there are far fewer of those extra little runs up the shop AND you save a bunch of $$! Most people make the same dozen or so meal over and over again anyways, so when I started doing this 4 years ago I just sat down with my SO and made a list of the dishes we made most often and the foods we always bought and used that as my starting point. I do like to mix it up regularly though, so I try new meals most months, and I’ve tweaked it to allow flexibility in case something comes up or life happens, but it covers lunches & dinners (I always make a double batch so that we have a good lunch to take to work/school) as well as snacks for all of us and weekends. after a few months you can just re-use menu plans from previous months – so easy. And everyone gets a chance to request particular meals, dishes or food that they like, so everybody’s happy. and best of all, I stick to dishes that can be on the table in under 45 minutes, but are as healthy and wholesome as can be sanely managed in that time with 2 young kids hanging off you and yelling ‘MUM!’ every 10 seconds. total life saver. And I also put together a shopping list template (because we’re usually shopping for the same things, right?) which saves a ton of time. Happy to share my templates if anybody’s interested!”
I will share Naomi’s template here when I get it!
Unsurprisingly, given the networks I have created around myself, the majority of responses were around habits that foster personal wellbeing. I wholeheartedly approve of this! I will share my own recommendations at the end of this section.
Caroline Richards, Divorce Coach and Joy Practitioner, advocates “A morning routine. Devoting half an hour to yourself every morning sets you up for success, every day.”
This is also the recommendation of wealth and Achievement Coach Louise Cartwright, who shares that “I’m very much about having 5 minutes in the morning in a “space” of energetic intention. This works wonders for my mindset and productivity”.
For personal trainer Cristina Alciati, this means “taking 5 minutes to rehearse my day in my head before I get out of bed. I literally visualise all the things I want to do so I have a roadmap for the day.”
Artist Alix Parsons’s self care tip is meditation. “It helps me reset, get grounded, and gain a clearer sense of the most important thing in any given situation. It clears away that which doesn’t serve. Meditation has given me sense of being part of a greater whole, and confidence in the path forward.
Damsels in Success is an network that with self care at the heart of it’s ethos. It was not surprising then when Michelle Graham, leader of the Cardiff group, and fundraiser extraordinaire, shared her top tips of “Prioritise self care
Learn to say no
Spend time outside every day
Ask for help (and receive it)”
My lovely friend Maggy Corkhill advises that you should “Remind yourself you are enough. No matter how many jobs to do there are, we are enough.”
Writer Mari Ellis Dunning advises “taking time out for yourself, whether it’s to exercise, practice mindfulness or read a short story – just taking some time to breath and ground yourself every day can help when anxiety comes calling. As someone who suffers with symptoms of chronic fatigue/fibromyalgia/adrenal fatigue, I used to beat myself up about the bad days and worry about being perceived as lazy or melodramatic. Now, I have learned to accept my limitations and always give myself chance to come around gradually each morning, as well as always take time for lunch – it makes a difference”
The self care advice is also given by recovery blogger Laura Silverman, whose self care routine includes “taking time for me (aka self care: reading, going out to the movies solo, yoga, relaxing by pool, meditation, mani/pedi, nap) that doesn’t involve work. To be my most productive requires filling my cup. And also? To not give into feelings of guilt when I procrastinate or miss deadlines – not easy to feel guilt-less, as it turns out. I just keep trying. Progress, not perfection” I think that last part is so important for us all, isn’t it?
Awesome comfort zone buster Lottie Moore tells us “It used to be from the moment I opened my eyes I was responsive, now I allow myself half an hour quiet time before I turn on the 4g and WiFi. I meditate and journal – it always ensures I get much needed head space each day – I’m always much more focused because of it”, a strategy also recommended by Shan Marshall, and PR coach Carrie Eddins. Carrie also advises writing a letter to yourself and really getting deep into the sensory experience of what you are writing about.
That writing coach Jacqui Malpass also recommend journalling is no great shock. Her wise words are “Have a plan, even if it changes, start out with what you need to do. Journaling either at night (which is what I do) or in the morning. What you write at night you will process which means that when you begin your new day, you have given yourself answers and more inner resources.”
Ashanti Bentil Dhue also recommends journalling, but with a very clear focus on getting honest with yourself. She tells us “Once you do that you can focus, achieve goals and take a brighter attitude to problem solving”
Hypnotherapist Honey Lansdowne recommends that you “Don’t compare yourself to others and focus on your own amazingness”
Queen of Mellow, Helen Rebello, recommends a joyful, grateful attitude to life, suggesting that “As soon as you wake up each day, say thank you for the fact that you got to wake up and experience another day on planet earth, so that you start out the day with a sense of positivity and possibility. My affirmation is ‘thank you for another day in which i get to live, love, laugh and play.’”
The theme of gratitude was also talked about by Evi Kathrepti, who wrote a long, beautiful post that I decided to turn into my first ever guest post!
It was no surprise that Fresh Air Coach, and founder of Fresh Air Fridays, Ruth Steggles, shared that her essential habit is “Taking my 20-30mins me time in a green space! I become much more effective”
HR Consultant Julie Grabham shares that “I have 2 “habits” that help me enormously. Firstly, start every day with a dog walk – exercise and breathing space to get my mind in order. Secondly, at the end of each day, I write my to do list for the next day ( and have another dog walk).”
Mentally reframing problems through physical action is advised by The Square Peg Coach Sarah Walton, who says “when I’m feeling/ reacting negatively or just not feeling in flow, to remove myself physically from where I’m at, and to ask ‘What’s the best thing I can do for me in this moment?’ and take action towards that”.
Complementary therapist Esther Apoussidis deals with wellbeing and productivity in the mornings. Her practice is “Exercise, meditation to include breathing as a morning must and then 1 major action towards my primary goal. Then reflect on your day focusing on the achievements no matter how small rather than on the things not checked off on your to-do list”.
Breathing is also recommended by Life Coach Alison Muir, who advocates a form of Pranayama that I love! She says “I would say that it’s helpful to practice rhythmic breathing throughout the day. Basically breathing in and out for the same count, with a pause between each of half the time. For example, breathe in for 6 seconds, hold 3 seconds, breathe out 6 seconds, hold 3 seconds, repeat. Benefits are – improved lung capacity, relaxation and importantly calming the brain waves to facilitate clear thinking. It can be done anywhere like when commuting, preparing food, before meetings, bedtime.” In the tradition of Yoga I was trained in, this is known as Savitri Pranayama, and is excellent for balancing the emotions and the other benefits Alison mentioned.
My best advice is to work with your breath. Develop an awareness of your breath. Take time to sit with the breath, notice it, be focused on it, be grateful for it. Use it in moments of stress and difficulty. Find someone to teach you to do it well and practice being present with your breath. Learning to breathe well transformed my life, and it can do the same for you.
Only a couple of women shared tips about relationships, but they are well worth having their own category!
Another fellow QOTSA fan, and giver of the best hugs in the world Wendy Fowler, shared some potentially relationship saving advice! “Always listen to the end of the story…My bad habit is to problem solve everyone. Mostly, folk just want to be heard, and the very act of someone listening helps them find their own way”, while coach Angèle Cristina advises you to “Stay away from toxic people ☠️🤚🏼 we waste so much time and energy with these people that we forget ourselves in trying to convince someone who would not understand anyway”
Productivity and work
Many of the people I am connected to are self employed. Most others are working, and all have more than one area of responsibility in life, so how they manage their time is important to them, as I am sure it is to you,
Joanne Dwyer had some great insight into the subject of to-do lists. She asks “I’m sure most of us have these in some form or other. If a task isn’t done and is always being carried forward, ask yourself “Why”. Are you procrastinating or maybe it’s not necessary??”
Social Media Superhero Joanne McGowan relies on lists. She says “Writing a list at end of day of what I need to do tomorrow gives me focus and means I can shut the door in the day. When I don’t write a list I am far less productive.”
Massage therapist and network marketer Ceris Morgan-O’Neill likes her list to have a priority system. “That way you get to prioritise, when you can tick off the jobs you get a sense of accomplishment and sometimes spurred on to do more..Also stops the overwhelming “I’ve got so much to do” feeling”
NLP Trainer Georgia Walby advocates a slightly different approach to the list! “A weekly Success List. Get clear about what you need to achieve each week to create the success you desire. Get it down on paper and refer to it daily. The week finishes when you complete your list. It will help you build good habits and as you do so you are creating the life you want” Isn’t that more compelling than a ‘TO DO’ list?
Lindsay Cordery-Bruce, CEO of NewLink Wales, recommends spending time every day in ‘Genius time’, whatever it is that you do that gives your brain some space to juist process and be inspired. This could be walking, meditating, doodling, or whatever gives you that space. She also recommends at ‘Say NO to’ list, to ensure that you don’t get your time get taken up with activities that are out of your zone of expertise.
Karen Welden also recommends learning to say no, and “out of the habit of people pleasing”
Podiatrist Margaret Trevillion makes time at the start of her week to get her planning done. She says “This helps me to be more proactive and productive with what time i do have juggling work, family and kids extra curricular activities.”
My friend Jacqui Davies shares some advice that resonates with me, “Be the first to get up. It’s amazing how much you can get done/organise before everyone else is under your feet!”
Super productive blogging and visibility trainer Sarah Arrow makes use of the Best Self journal, and uses that well. She told me “No White Space is my most helpful habit. Every moment of my working day is mapped out. Even time for Facebook, checking emails and watching TV to take my mind off a complex problem”
Money and Mindset Coach Dominique Mullally advises “Stick to one project at a time….. finish that task…. then move on! We tend to flit from task to the other and end up having no tasks complete by the end of the week as a result!”
Personal Development & Mindset Specialist Bonnie S Hardie also does this, and warns of the dangers of ‘context switching’. She recommends task batching. “I have certain times that I do certain things. That way I am only doing one thing at a time-not going back and forth between several different things.
Life coach Lynda Fussell talks about the power of intention and purpose. “Once you’ve worked out your big WHY, i.e. your purpose, set a timeframe, the WHEN, the HOW will follow if you are really clear on the other two. Then do something every single day that is aligned to your WHY. It may only be writing down a thought, making a phone call but every action is one step closer to your result and the Universe knows you are serious about making this happen”
Coach and BizMums host Michala Leyland recommends what she called the ‘Head Tip’ system. She says “group all the things you ‘should’ do in key areas: Business, Home Organisation, health and wellbeing etc . You can then get a big, fat red marker and cross out all the ‘shoulds’ that aren’t important to you or look to give them to someone else to do. Then prioritise that list so you have clear focus for what needs doing in the day, week, month ahead. I guarantee you’ll feel lighter and clearer.”
Alix Nadelman is a fan of the baby steps approach to anything you need to tackle. “I break things down into smaller steps then ask what can others do and what do I need to do myself. We always say ‘small steps for big effects’”
This is an approach I advocate in my ‘circle of change’ model of creating sustainable change. You can learn more about that in this post
Well, congratulations if you are still reading, and thank you! I would like to thank every one who contributed to this post, which turned into a far bigger project than I expected, but has been so interested to work on!