When was the last time that you went offline? For me, it’s probably been years. Ever since I got my first smart phone I’ve not had a day away from the internet. Well, when you’re carrying a computer in your pocket at all times, and your job is based online, and your friends contact you via social media, how can you ever really get away from it? It used to be easy to take a break: on a Friday night you’d simply shut down your computer and relax for the weekend. There was no social media to tempt you to stay up late scrolling through posts, and no-one expected a reply to their emails until Monday morning. In fact, no-one really sent those Saturday evening emails, because they too had closed down their computer at the end of the working week.After months of hard work, I knew I needed a break so hubby and I went away for a relaxing weekend away in Badger cottage in Sweffling. It’s a charming little barn that’s been converted into a super-cosy two bedroom holiday home in the beautiful Suffolk countryside. Arriving on Thursday evening, were delighted to find original beams and character galore, a deep reclaimed roll-top bath, and a big log fire. Everything we needed was right there at hand in the well-stocked kitchen, bathroom and living room. The stack of firewood and flickering woodburner let us know that we were in for a warm and cosy weekend. Candles in every room offered a calming sense of hygge and we felt completely at home the minute we stepped inside the door.Taking time away from the internet was partially self-inflicted and partially down my GiffGaff phone not being able to get any signal. I wanted to make the most of my time away from home, of course I did, but I’d still brought along my iPad and phone in case I ‘needed’ to get online. After an inital ‘why isn’t it working?!’ frustration, I asked myself why I was even trying to get online anyway. I realised that just knowing that I could get online if I wanted to was a bit of a comfort blanket. And I also realised that I’m a grown-up and don’t need comfort blankets anymore! And if I could have logged on, it’s likely that I would have wasted the whole weekend scrolling through Instagram or saving things on Pinterest (I convince myself it’s okay to spend time doing this because it’s ‘research’). So thank goodness that I couldn’t find that 3G signal anywhere, and thank goodness that I didn’t go searching for a wifi hotspot. Because it turns out that I had the best few (internet-free) days ever… Continue reading “No wifi for the weekend” »
After attending a wedding fair this weekend with my bride-to-be bestie, I started thinking about honeymoon destinations. We were browsing the wedding fair stalls when we came across a stand covered in photos of dream honeymoon locations and it got me thinking about where I’d like to go, if I could choose anywhere in the world. My husband and I never really had a proper honeymoon when we got married all those years ago – in fact, I’ve only been out of the country a handful of times – so I’d think that now we be an excellent time to start saving for that dream holiday; our first proper ‘honeymoon’.
Back when we got married, we had a mini-moon; just a couple of days away in Paris. The day after the wedding we tidied up, on the second day we went to a Fab Beatles gig not far from home, and on the third day we hopped on the Eurostar. We spent two nights in a non-air-conditioned room during the hottest summer Paris had seen for a generation. Checking out the sights, going up the Eiffel Tower and eating lots of croissants was lovely but it was over all too soon. We said at the time that we’d have a long, luxurious honeymoon ‘one day’ but after nearly 13 years that ‘one day’ hasn’t yet arrived!
So now that I’m sat in front of my computer with time on my hands, I’ve started browsing online for that dream honeymoon destination. Where would you recommend? Continue reading “What’s your dream honeymoon?” »
ESo we’re already in the middle of a lovely 4-day break over Easter and I thought I’d better share a quick round up of all my Easter-related blog posts for you. I really feel like I have lots of spare time over Easter and it allows me to make some easy weekend craft projects and lets me spend time creating something fun with the little ones. I’ve made some simple Easter pudding recipes that would be great for Easter lunch, and some classic cornflake cakes you can make with the kids too. Get your crafting stuff together, pull on that apron and start creating! Here’s some inspiration for you to get started:
What do you think of these quick and easy DIY projects and recipe ideas? Check out each of the step-by-step tutorials by clicking on the pink links above. What do you like to do over the Easter weekend? I hope you all have a lovely break and I’ll catch up with you next week!
Or coffee breaks. Or just a water break. What’s important is actually taking a break from whatever you’re doing and giving yourself a little breathing space. This time last year, I remember rushing through my work at break-neck speed, barely stopping to have a bite to eat at lunch (okay, who are we kidding? I ate at my keyboard). I felt crazy-busy all the time yet I never seemed to be getting anywhere with my work. It was go-go-go from the minute I started work at 7am and I stared at that computer screen non-stop until 7pm when my husband prised my fingers away from the keyboard.
In truth, I didn’t really want to stop. I was kind of enjoying being so busy and I had so much to do yet so little time to do it in. Or so I thought. I soon began to realise that I was swimming against the current. Running through treacle. Whatever you want to call it, I was getting nowhere fast. Not only was I not being totally productive, but I also was dehydrated, which made me more hungry and when I stuffed my face with food I felt sluggish. Which of course I tried to fight against because I was soooo busy. But I managed to change one part of my routine and things improved overnight. What was it? Break time!
Children get break time at school and at work employment regulations stipulate that we must have 20 minutes of uninterrupted rest every 6 hours. This is because teachers and employers know that concentrating on one activity for a prolonged period of time will addle your brain and make you less productive. When I think back to the time when I was rushing head-first into my work without a pause to refresh, I can honestly say that if you’d asked me what I’d achieved that day, the answer would have been ‘errrm, I don’t really know…’ because really I wasn’t getting anything significant done in all those hours of work.
So now I’ve divided up my work into ‘sessions’ all of which are followed by a tea break, coffee break or lunch break. I’ll write for a couple of hours, then I’ll take a break. And that means getting up from the computer, spending time making a drink and sitting down to enjoy it rather than taking it back to my desk. There are many reasons why breaks are important and here’s a few that I can think of:
Eyes: It’s important for your eyes to focus on something different. If you’re staring at a screen all day, or working on intricate details of a craft or design, it would be sensible to spend some time looking into the distance to allow your eyes times to refocus and prevent fatigue or eye strain. HSE advises regular breaks for workers who use Display Screen Equipment (DSE) and just because I’m working for myself doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t impose the same rules – after all, I’m the most important employee (not to mention the only employee!) I have 😉
Time to think: When you’re rushing from one task to the next, do you ever really get the chance to actually think? I find that I get better ideas when I allow myself quiet time and new ideas start to flow more easily over a cup of coffee. Richard Branson agrees that it gives you ‘a moment to stop and think without distraction’, so if it’s good enough for Branson, it’s good enough for me!
It rehydrates you: Everyone knows that a hydrated brain is an active brain and on the flip-side, being dehydrated makes it harder to concentrate and you’ll be more prone to headaches. I just read a study that investigated whether water deprivation had an effect on reaction times and mental performance of volunteers. The study found that dehydrated subjects were more sluggish, tired and took significantly more effort to concentrate compared with when they were adequately hydrated. So having a drink (even if it’s just water) while you take a break will make you more productive than if you were to use that break time working.
If you’re going to take a break, why not make it into a ritual that you enjoy and look forward to? I even used to rush making my tea, so I’d pour the kettle too quickly and boiling water would splash out of the sides of the lid. Whereas I now enjoy the sound of a kettle being s-l-o-w-l-y poured into a cup, in the same way that I used to enjoy the glug-glug-glug of wine being poured into a glass. Far from the quick-stir-with-a-spoon-and-whip-the-teabag-out method of tea-making that I used to favour, I now take pleasure from letting the tea infuse for the suggested amount of time and enjoying a full-flavoured cuppa! Of course, there’s nothing better than percolating coffee, with the ritual of grinding the coffee beans, hearing the water come to the boil, watching the steam puffing out and seeing the coffee blip away. The rich aroma and the bubbling sounds makes me feel instantly more relaxed and ready to rest.
I usually take my coffee or tea outside with me so that I’m far enough away from distractions and technology to give my brain time to reset itself. Again, it’s an instantly relaxing ritual to rest outside because you can feel the change in temperature, smell flowers and grass (or in my case, the herb garden) and can hear birds chirping or bees buzzing. It’s stimulating these senses that will help you to relax and refocus. The rest (and the drink!) will help you to be even more productive when you get back to work – so if you want to work better, TAKE A BREAK!