4 Things I Have Changed Now Working From Home

LIFESTYLE, Wellbeing

Throughout my career I have worked in many different environments and some of them have been so far away from another that I had to relearn new skills for each position. To name a few lets go with a shop, spa, cafe, office, gym, outdoors, theatre and pool. You know what none of them are though? Home. And that is a completely different ball game. There are no colleagues and there are so many distractions. Not only is there the internet, books and the tv to watch there are also things like having our dog, getting the washing done or tidying the kitchen. I could even get distracted for two hours taking a midday bath. This is not conducive behaviour for working from home and to actually achieve something by the end of the ‘working day’ I have had to learn to buckle up and concentrate. This has also meant putting new structures in place to make me as productive and focused as possible.

The TV is off during the day. It seems like a pretty straight forward one but it was a little hard to get used to at first. Anytime I have written before I enjoyed putting a film on Netflix and watching it while I worked and I think I just liked the background noise. Now though and going forward I am only flicking the tv on whilst I have breakfast, my lunch or in the evening when my husband leaves the ‘kitchen office’ and retires to the living room.

Choosing my seat (and changing it throughout the day). I also used to work in the kitchen, sat at the table looking out into the garden but I would say there are definitely more distractions in there than my seat in the living room. The fridge for one. Now I have found the place where I work best I do make sure I am still getting up and walking around the house every so often. Movement is so important and I wouldn’t want to find that I had been sitting in the same place/same position for 3-4 hours.

Getting ready in the morning. No, I don’t put make up on every day but it definitely does bring me a little focus on the days where I do need it as well as getting dressed. The mornings the I have spent in my pyjamas are the days where I have ended up doing more housework than business or leaving the tv on for a little longer after breakfast.

Taking the dog a walk first thing. I find getting up, dressed and taking our Labrador Mia on a walk after our first cup of tea really helps us to feel fresh, ready to start the day when we get back and more focused on the tasks ahead. I would say that we have been doing this every other day at the minute and I can definitely tell the difference in the hours after the walk.

I have also been listening to a couple of podcasts that really help with tips on working from home and things we can do to improve productivity and the loneliness that can come with working from home and not seeing colleagues in the office. My main listens would have to be The Co-Working Podcast by Jess Berry and The Busy to Boss by Holly Bray because they cover the aspects of working alone and how to focus productivity when you work for yourself.

If you have any working from home tips let me know or get in touch on Instagram @lorenjessica_

A New Weekly Routine and How I Stay Productive

LIFESTYLE, Wellbeing

Never before have I worked from home. During my previous self employed years I spent a lot of time at home but then went out to work for a few hours before returning. In the house during ‘downtime’ not a lot got done as I didn’t have a focus and always had the mindset “I’ll do it after work” or “I want to save my energy for work”. Lately this kind of mindset isn’t possible and I need to find the productivity within me to work from home, stay focused and end the day feeling like I have achieved something. I thought I would write more about how my week goes and bring a little structure for me to keep coming back to if it does ever get lost.

The Week Days

On Monday I enjoy a slow Monday morning start and I always have. In two previous jobs I always liked the later starting shift to ease back into the week and get jobs done that we had left over the weekend. Over lockdown I have also been heading to bed around 9pm which means earlier starts in the morning. This definitely helps come Monday morning as I have a couple of hours to tidy around the house and get ready. Although this used to mean rising at 8am and being at work later an early night means I can wake at 6am and still have the same slow start before working between 8am-9am.

I will then work for a few hours in the morning before having a little coffee revival around 11am, maybe with an Italian biscuit or two. I find having something to look forward to, getting up and stretching my legs really helps keeps me focused until that time. If something is really not working for me and I am struggling with the focus I will go and spend time with Mia or go out into the garden before returning to it. 

Sometimes I do feel unproductive. Some days I wake up without focus after having a sleepless night and find it difficult to be creative or put pen to paper as they say. I have found the best way to ‘overcome’ this is to help it before it happens. A night of uninterrupted rest and a fresh, feel good start to each day is the way that I look after the future me and make sure I am set up ready to go in the best possible way. This is also important in what I eat too. I find the science behind gut health and mental health to be very interesting and can say that I have noticed it in my own life, day to day and looking back. In a very trivial sense of it I have always noticed that my stomach tightens and I can’t eat when watching any kind of tense film and in the most basic form of the topic eating healthy is incredibly important for me to be my best creative and productive self for that day and the next. 

I have more recently purchased Chloe Slade’s Vibe and Flow 90 Day Manifestation Journal which I am finding very helpful as I go to start each day by adding tasks to complete and productive aims for being the best version of myself. In the evening I can write how I have felt that day and what I can do to make tomorrow just as successful, if not more so and to do a little evaluation. Having always been interested in journaling I think I prefer having the key points in the 90 Day Manifestation Journal to assess rather than letting my mind wander and not knowing where to start. The journal has also helped me bring the focus back to what I am wanting to manifest, happiness at the end of the day and a good work-life balance. 

My work from home set up and Vibe and Flow 90 Day Manifestation Journal

Into the Weekend

By Friday I am ready for the weekend to start in the afternoon, who isn’t, right? When we get back to ‘normal’ after the current situation my husband will be back at work Monday- Friday which will mean we are likely going to be spending the weekends out walking in Derbyshire or heading out on the motorbike to find a coffee shop. 

Sundays are the time for me to recharge and I like to do this by chatting to family and friends which is great as we all tend to focus on work during the week days. A little self care can also go a long way on a Sunday and I enjoy time for a face mask, reading and a long walk outside. I have found that a little break to reset helps the focus within the week as well as boosting the creativity with change and doing something different. 

From writing this post I have even noticed that there are a couple of common themes. Being out in nature helps me to refocus and relax for a moment and that I do like, and feel most productive, by having a structure. Re-evaluating the day to day can sometimes reveal something that is hard to notice when you’re just getting on with it all of the time.

Do you have any work from home tips or a way that you’ve found you work better? Let me know here in the comments or over on Instagram @lorenjessica_ it would be great to chat!

Early Bird vs Night Owl

LIFESTYLE, Wellbeing

Before going any further which one are you?

Throughout my younger years and mid-20’s I was categorically a night owl. I would stay awake watching Netflix and sometimes stay up even after my husband had gone to bed, simply because I wasn’t tired.

I was never a morning person even when my husband would attempt to wake me up to go on a run at 6am, I wasn’t a morning person even an hour (or two) after having that morning cup of tea and I certainly wasn’t a morning person whenever I was awoken by Mia, our chocolate labrador, decided she wanted an early breakfast – which is almost every day.

As you may be able to tell from the above it was my husband that was the morning person and loved to rise with the sun and say things like ‘the early bird catches the worm’ or something similar that is supposed to help. This has actually now flipped a little and it is me that heads to bed around 9pm, stirs the next day at 5:45am and is ready to go downstairs by 6am to make that first brew of the day.

I completely understand that there is a huge difference to this in Summer and Winter and I may revert back to my previous self, staying up until 11pm and not feeling myself until 11am the following day, however I will try my upmost to stick to the routine that I have currently been doing.

9pm – I tend to go to bed and read or listen to a Headspace ’Sleepcast’. When reading it usually takes me around half an hour to fall asleep as my mind is still whirring for a little while after.

I find I sleep better after we have taken the dog for an evening walk or I have exercised earlier on in the day and a good nights rest does help me to feel fresh and provide me with a go-get-em attitude. I would love the keep the pattern going to become an early bird for the foreseeable future.

Don’t forget, let me know which one you are and we’ll chat about it. I’m also on Instagram @lorenjessica_ if you want to chat over there too.

Country Lane

Starting a Mindful Routine

LIFESTYLE, Wellbeing

In a couple of weeks I’m going to be able to find my own routine. For a long while I’ve not been in a position where I have been able to say ‘I will do this every day’ or ‘I will attend this class every week’. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on how you see it) I am a creature of habit and need some form of routine even if this is just at the beginning of the week or having something to look forward to at the end of the week. My mental health has taken a decline over the past few months and this comes in early forms of anxiety and self neglect and I am confident that some form of routine and dedicated time for ‘self care’ will help as well as counselling time. In a few days time I can happily say I will be able to do this so I have been planning a routine and collating the things that I have so far found helps me.

1. Meditation. It’s not all ‘ummm-ing’ and ‘ahhh-ing’ and I use it to take a moment to get back to grips with how my body feels and to get my brain back to focusing. I use the Headspace app for when I need a guided meditation and have also practiced a couple of tips for when I need to take a minute out and about.

2. Exercise. I know it sounds like such a cliche but it works for me and others I have spoken to. For that session I am focused on my workout and the music I’m listening to and there’s a lot to be said for the link between science and hormones. A work routine will allow me to say I will attend a Pilates, Aqua or Yoga session at the same time every week, meet people, get fit, stay focused for that time and get an endorphin buzz.

3. Bath and a book. Reading has always been a form of relaxation for me and getting into a warm bath knowing that that time is going to be spent taking a moment for me is something I can look forward to at the end of a busy week (or on a grey Monday/hump Wednesday or any other time I wanted to plan it in).

4. Dog walking. Taking a breath of fresh air, stretching my legs and knowing I have done something that the pooch will also love makes me very happy. Mia gets me outside, maybe saying hello to another human being/another dog and I come back from a walk feeling refreshed and motivated to keep going rather than sitting, procrastinating or just pottering with no real intention around the house.

A couple of other things I intend to add to this list is more financial management and sitting down on a Sunday evening and planning the week ahead to include workouts, meals and quality time with my husband. I’ll keep a track of my mood and experiences and check in over the next few months. If you have any tips or experience of your own to add please get in touch either here or over on Instagram.

Until next time,

L x

5 Things To Start In 2020

LIFESTYLE, Wellbeing

New Years resolutions, are they good? Or do they ask for too much from us? Are they goals or do they make us disappoint ourselves? I haven’t yet met anyone that gets to the end of a year and says they achieved their New Years Resolution, maybe I haven’t met a person who set such a strong one, I don’t know. What I do know is last year I didn’t set any and I can be honest, it was kind of a wash out in terms of things I had actually achieved. This year doing a full flip I have set myself a few goals and check-in points to keep up to date at my progress.

1. Be kinder to myself. Instead of comparing myself to others and saying I’m not where I need to be repeat that everyone is different and on their own path.

2. See friends regularly. They say you are a culmination of the people you surround yourself with the most. I love my friends and family for different reasons and if I’m a mix of them all I would be very happy about that.

3. Look after our home. For me a tidy home is a tidy mind. It’s as simple as that really.

4. Learn and learn. I love learning and growing and being creative. These are things that make me happy and I hope I never stop learning something new.

5. Don’t stop pushing but live in the present. Goals, dreams and achievements all swim through my mind on a daily basis and it’s great for me to have something to aim for. In the same breath and along with this I need to learn the balance between wanting that step further, that ‘better thing’ and living for now and being grateful for the things that are already here.

Until next time,

L x

The Gin Festival Nottingham

LIFESTYLE, Wellbeing

Around 2 years ago the only Gin I could have named was Bombay Sapphire and that was only because it was my parents Gin of choice. That slowly started to turn around and now, since the Gin Festival came to Nottingham, I have plenty of Gin knowledge.

The festival came into the city over the weekend and held a few sessions both morning and afternoon across Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd April. By Saturday lunchtime I made my way across to the Nottingham Conference Centre and the atmosphere was fantastic. There were plenty of people that had already arrived and everyone was given their own Gin Festival glass to take round with them. A great idea as you aren’t continuously wasting cups and it is a memento from the day.

I had chosen the afternoon slot to attend from 12.30 until 5pm and, as it was suggested previously, this is plenty of time to sip and sample gin. The first thing to do was collect your tokens. These come in the form of small cards and works better than taking money out each time. It works out as £5 a drink which for a Gin, tonic and entertainment is a good deal.

The bars were set up in two different spaces and were labelled A ,B, C and D. These were defined with what kind of gin each bar was serving and most people were going in order. Highly sensible, I’m sure. I decided to follow suit and got into the line for Bar A. Along with the glass you are given when you enter you are also gifted a Gin Discovery Book. This was very useful to me at that moment as there were Gin brands I had never heard of or knew what they tasted like. I decided, from the book, to go for a Daffy’s. Described as having a ‘hint of toffee’ and a ‘buttery finish’ I thought this was a very good place to start. You helped yourself to Indian tonic water supplied by Fever-Tree placed at the end of each bar or a flavoured tonic if you wished. The book recommended each pairing including a garnish, I don’t know if anyone went against the book but I certainly left it to the experts. The Daffy’s went down very smoothly as I wandered around the rest of the event and I would suggest trying it in its hometown Edinburgh.

Whilst you have a drink in hand there is still lots to see at the Festival. In another room there was multiple brand stands with a little information about each and plenty of Gin samples being handed out. I went to the most local brand that was there on Saturday which was Two Birds based in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. Every stand was busy and this one was no different. They were also holding masterclasses throughout the afternoon to learn more about the companies and the gin making process. I attended the Two Birds masterclass as it was a few minutes away and very much enjoyed learning how Gin was distilled and what elements were included.

After the masterclass I was joined by a couple of friends and we got in line for another drink. The queues, although they looked long, were not bad at all, especially when you’re having a chat. The bartenders were quick to serve you and mark off a token whilst still being cheerful and helpful. There was live music at the conference centre and it really gave the event a festival atmosphere whilst being in the comfort and warmth of the indoors with no fear of getting wet if a downpour was to happen. We got to see two bands while we were there and commented on how good both were.
We got to try a few more drinks over the next couple of hours with my next being the Belgium based Braeckman’s Hazelnoot Jenever. I’ve always loved Irish cream and this sounded like it would be similar. It was, and of course it was delicious.

The only downside to having an ‘after dinner’ drink was that there wasn’t enough of it so we got into the queue for Bar B shortly after. This time I decided to try something more local and went for the Sir Robin of Locksley distilled in Sheffield. This was described as having a ‘lingering citrus finish’ and it did indeed, whilst still tasting sweet and smooth. It was recommended that it go with the Fever-Tree Elderflower tonic and together they made a perfectly fruity drink garnished with pink grapefruit. This was probably my favourite gin and tonic mix from the day and I would certainly have it again.
The one that we didn’t particularly take a taste to was the Black Tomato Gin but I’m sure if you’re a Bloody Mary connoisseur you’d enjoy it as it had a similar flavour.
Other stalls at the festival were the shop to purchase drink tokens and various gin related gifts. You could also have your picture taken at the photo booth. This queue took longer than the ones at the bars but no one seemed to mind and you didn’t have to pay.
The last drink I was able to try was the Two Birds London Dry Gin. After hearing about it in the masterclass I learnt that it had five botanical’s and they had kept it as a ‘top quality gin’. This was paired with Fever-Tree Indian Tonic and garnished with cucumber. It certainly tasted the neatest.

After a few drinks it was time for something to eat so we followed the signs for street food. We stopped at the Alimento tent to have tapas. It was incredibly good food and I wish we could have tried more from the other couple of tents but it was now time to go. Last orders were called and slowly people made their way out.

On returning home the Gin Festival was all I could talk about for the next few days and we are hopefully planning to attend the Sheffield Gin Festival. I would definitely go again as I feel there was so much more to experience and a lot more Gin to try!

Until next time,

L x

* The Gin Festival invited me to their event free of charge in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.