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4 Things I Do Every Day to Stay Productive and Happy

moleskine-journal

Every day I have four non-negotiables. When I do these things, I am happier, more productive, and feel more accomplished:

♡ Journal

♡ Check emails

♡ Exercise

♡ Tidy

At first I ticked them off every day, Gretchen Rubin style, and was most successful when I gave myself the incentive of colouring to finish them! The problem with this method is that I was doing the tasks because of my obsession with finishing lists, or with colouring, when really the tasks in themselves are rewarding.

So now, instead of a list, I am trigged by my daily routine.

I noticed that I was most successful at tidying, because I wouldn’t let myself go to bed until the flat was clean. Without realizing it, I was setting a trigger. So I decided to set other triggers too.

Journaling

I journal first thing when I sit down to do work for the day, whether it’s in the library or on my café crawl. Instinct tells me to rush straight into “productive” work, but I need that morning meditation to slow down, reflect, and enjoy.

Emails

keyboard

After lunch, my energy lulls. Getting back into work mode can be difficult, so this is when I have my concentrated email-checking time. I set a timer for 15 minutes and plow through one by one without letting myself get distracted. At the buzzer I get up to take a break from the screen, then it’s back to the second 15 minute block, if necessary. 

Exercise

nike-running-shoes

Exercise has the greatest effect on my day, making me feel accomplished and energized when I do it, or sluggish and defeated when I don’t. Luckily I live close to a beautiful park where I love to jog, and in a city with lots of hilly, windy streets, perfect for a brisk march. I make sure to do one of these things, or at least a quick yoga flow or Blogilates video if I’m feeling masochistic. I make sure to do something before dinner so I don’t feel too full. A good workout in the afternoon also means better sleep.

Tidying

kate-spade-desk-jiji

Like Monica Geller, I like things clean. So I sleep better at night knowing that everything is in its place, and when I get up in the morning, it’s really a fresh start.

My routine shifts each day, but these four tasks ground and support me. What do you have to do every single day? You owe it to yourself to get them done!

miss xandra bee

P.S. Inbox Zero: How to Manage Email so it doesn’t Consume Your Life

Mini Adventure: Pie-Baking Day

minimalist-apple-pie-apples

Baking tends to be a rushed activity for me: I’m usually working up to an event or just craving cookies as soon as bake-able. See, I even called it “work” even though it is for pleasure. So when I saw Minimalist Baker’s Pumpkin Spiced Apple Pie recipe, I decided to take my time and devote all of Saturday to the baking of it. 

minimalist-apple-pie
I read over the recipe carefully, because often I overlook equipment I might need or extra steps I need to take. Our kitchen came furnished, but we’re still tailoring it to our needs, so the pie was a good excuse to get a pie pan, a pair of [bright blue] tongs, a whisk, and some mixing bowls that double as fruit bowls. 

minimalist-apple-pie-baking
That morning I had selected a range of sweet and tart apples from our weekly market shop. Yum yum yum. Then I picked up some pumpkin puree from Real Foods – I was so surprised to find it in this country! In the days to follow I attempted my own pumpkin butter from scratch, but was grateful for this shortcut in my first attempt.

minimalist-apple-pie-baked
Overall, I didn’t mess up the pie too much, but trying a lattice top was not an option, as the crust was simply too crumbly. I think next time I need to use colder, harder butter. Nevertheless, it was delish, especially with some Swedish glace, one of my favourite non-dairy ice cream options. It’s officially autumn, people!
What autumnal goodies have you been enjoying?

miss xandra bee

P.S. Halloween is just around the corner! Here are some last-minute ways to celebrate.

Sunday Sampling: Date Like Jane Austen

SUNDAY-SAMPLING

♡ Add this DIY knitted wall piece to my to craft list please.

Jane Austen Rules for Dating – just as relevant as ever.

42 Ways to Make Sure People Like and Respect You: another gem found via Smart, Pretty, and Awkward!

♡ Balancing gratitude with frustration: Make two lists.

♡ With a minimalist edge: Make Home Life a Priority.

Literary Cures for Emotional Crises: so necessary!

♡ The Ultimate Guide to Binge-Watching Gilmore Girls. Just yes.

miss xandra bee

Happy #Lovetober!

Perhaps you’ve heard me say it before: Limitation fosters creativity. An example? Gala‘s #Lovetober Instagram challenge! This time around I’ve been sure to post every day, on time, and each prompt challenges me to get colourful and creative. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far!

Happy Lovetober!Happy Lovetober!Happy Lovetober!Happy Lovetober!Happy Lovetober!Happy Lovetober!

Are you playing along? Let me know so I can follow you!

miss xandra bee

P.S. Speaking of October…tis the Halloween season! My guide on How to Choose a Halloween Costume.  

Why I don’t Set Climbing Goals

Why I don't Set Climbing Goals

When I heard that the Women’s Climbing Symposium was only a Glasgow away, I signed up without hesitation. Then I wondered…why am I going to this? I’m not trying to be a professional or even competitive climber.

As I discuss in my book, my relationship with climbing has been a complicated one, because it appears to be irrelevant to my main “jobs” [my degree and building my business]. And yet, I need to be reminded of my own words, which make up a whole chapter called “Our heroine learns life lessons whilst learning to climb“. 

My competitive and perfectionist tendencies make me want to do everything to my upmost capability, so it’s weird to come to terms with the fact that I don’t climb to “get better”. 

I enjoyed the training sessions and talks at WCS because, well, I like learning things, especially from super passionate people. One idea challenge me, though: “if you don’t have climbing goals you won’t reach them”. What are my goals? I could say that I want to improve my grade, or place in a bouldering competition, or lead climb a certain route at a certain crag. But my satisfaction with climbing is not dependent on those things – sure, I feel confident and accomplished by overcoming certain obstacles, mastering certain routes, and just, in general, getting better, but that’s not why I climb.

Not getting better as a climber, anyway. But it does make me a better person, as a bonus.

Why I don't Set Climbing Goals

The lessons I learn from climbing are metaphors: like being brave and bold enough to reach the top, like the importance of both exercising and resting my muscles to let them grow. It’s important to have this thing that I just do for fun: it is my release from the other more structured, ambitiously charged things. It reminds me to breathe, and keep my head clear, because without those things, it is impossible to finish the route.

Why I don't Set Climbing Goals

Do you ever find it challenging to do things just for fun? [Or is it just me?]

miss xandra bee

P.S. Writing this made me feel very Ravenclaw. So here’s How to be Hogwarts.





Being a Heroine

Mini Adventures

Minimalism

Simple Fix

Wardrobe



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