Seven Creative Ways to Fit Exercise into Your Day

We all want to exercise more. Unfortunately when you have a job which involves sitting in front of a desk, this can be challenging. Here I’m going to give you a few simple ways to exercise which will fit easily into your day.

To show the time of 10pm
Get up just 15 minutes earlier to fit some exercise into your day
Get up earlier

Okay, I know, we’re starting with a difficult one, but according to Laura Vanderkam ‘before the rest of the world is eating breakfast the most successful people have already scored daily victories that are advancing them towards the lives that they want’. One of the things they use this time for is to nurture themselves such as by doing exercise. It doesn’t have to be a whole lot earlier. Even just fifteen minutes would give you time to get your heart rate up. You could do a quick exercise routine from YouTube or take a short walk around the block. If you want some help with getting out of bed a little earlier check out this post.

Leave the car at home when you can

I know that this isn’t always possible, but if you think hard I’m sure that there are times when you could walk instead of drive. If it’s too far to walk how about cycling? You don’t have to do this every time, but if the weather’s good think twice before you reach for that car key.

Use these more often
Take the stairs when you can

Unless you live in a bungalow or are posh enough to have a lift in your house, we all use the stairs every day, but when we’re out and about and a lift presents itself, we are usually inclined to get into it. Lifts are often in front of us, whereas the stairs are frequently tucked away. Go and find them and walk up them. If you get tired on the way, stop and catch your breath. The more often you use them the easier it will get.

Do your own housework

It’s rare than I find someone that enjoys household chores, but if you think of them as your own personal gym, you might start to feel different about them. Cleaning can be very physical, particularly lugging a vacuum cleaner around or get up and down a ladder to clean windows.

Don’t just sit in front of the TV, trying doing some exercise instead
Exercise whilst watching TV

We all seem to be able to find time to watch TV of an evening. I know that sometimes this is about being too tired to do anything else. Whilst I would advocate trying to watch a little less TV, when you do watch it how about a bit of multi-tasking and doing a little exercise such as some yoga, Pilates or even just some stretching. If you have a theraband or some weights why not leave them out near the TV so you’ll be reminded to do a bit of exercise next time you switch on the set.

Dig your garden

Gardening it a bit like housework outside, although often a lot more strenuous, particularly digging. There’s also raking and just generally bending and walking up and down the garden. I find that it’s much easier to do my 10,000 steps a day on weekends when I’m out in the garden.

Do a few lunges whilst making a cup of tea
a few lunges whilst cooking dinner

A few lunges or shoulder stretches with a theraband need only take five minutes. If you’re making a cup of tea or just keeping an eye on things whilst dinner’s cooking, why not do a short burst of exercise before your evening meal.

Hopefully that’s give you a few ideas to add some more movement to your day, something which we all need to do a bit more of.

Want to learn more about life coaching and how to design your life? Why not check out ‘Grow You’, Natalie Bacon’s life coaching programme (affiliate link).

How to Have a Great Staycation

Thinking you might not be able to get away this year, but not looking forward to staying at home again? I’ve got some ideas for you about how to make your staycation week extra special.

A clean bed
Change all your beds so you can enjoy clean sheets on the first night of your staycation
Prepare for your guests

Clean your house as though you were expecting guests to arrive. Treat yourself as you would others. If friends or family were arriving you’d clean the house from top to bottom, put clean sheets on the bed and provide fresh towels. When you’re the guest why treat yourself any different? We all feel a lot happier in a clean environment and you’ll enjoy your week so much more if you are happy in your accommodation. Nice touches can be to buy some flowers and order a daily or Sunday newspaper.

Box of cakes
Make sure you’ve get plenty of treats in
Enjoy Some Treats

Long leisurely lunches or dinners with a nice bottle of wine are what most of us look forward to when we’re on holiday. Going out for a meal may or may not be an option during your staycation. It might be that you live in an area where lockdown is still in place, or maybe you’re just watching the pennies. There are other ways to treat yourself.

Perhaps you could buy some more ready-prepared food than you normally would do. Some indulgent desserts or even just a pizza and garlic bread. Your budget might not stretch to a three-course meal at a fancy restaurant, but you could have a takeaway or even just fish and chips.

As well as treats for main meals, stock up on other goodies such as biscuits, cakes, crisps and your favourite tipple. Don’t forget breakfast. How about a fry up on a Sunday morning or making some pancakes?

phone showing email
Decide whether you’re going to allow work to interrupt your week or not
Set some rules

The difference between having a staycation and just being at home for the week is that you need to behave as though you were away on holiday. It’s up to you to decide what that means. Agree with the rest of the family what the rules are. They might be no work i.e. work phone off and no checking work email. Remember there’s no need to get up early, not unless you want to and you certainly shouldn’t be doing chores. If you’ve cleaned the house before the staycation you shouldn’t need to anyway.

ordnance survey maps
Get one of these and explore your local area
Plan your Activities

The basic rule when it comes to staycation activities is to explore your local area. You may be surprised with what’s on your doorstep and none of it needs to be expensive. Buy an ordnance survey map, or an A-Z if you live in a city, and either plan a route or just wander. You could get a nature guide out of the library to help you explore the great outdoors or some books about your area.  You might find one about local walks or historical sites that you can visit. Does your local town have a town walk? If so you’ll probably find the details on the internet. If you’ve always wanted to be a photographer why not take some photos when you’re out.

Other ideas for outdoor activities are cycling, hiking, going for a picnic or playing games in the local park such as rounders or football.

Activities at home include watching an episode or two a day of a box set over the week, having a games afternoon or doing some baking. Never get time to read? Choose a novel or two to immerse yourself in for a few days. If you’ve got enough space and own a tent, how about camping out in your garden? This is particularly good if you’ve got young children, who will enjoy the excitement of being outdoors for the night. How about having a stay-at-home spa day? Treat yourself to a facial, manicure or a massage – even if you’re on your own you can massage your feet. Buy a special hair treatments and have a relaxing bubble bath. Treat yourself to homemade afternoon tea, with little sandwiches, cake and even champagne or at least some cava.

I hope that you’ve got some good ideas for how to enjoy your next staycation, whether it’s enforced as a result of lock down or a choice if you’re trying to save money.

If you want some more ideas check out this post by Emma or my post about Having a Holiday on a Budget

Want to learn more about life coaching and how to design your life? Why not check out ‘Grow You’, Natalie Bacon’s life coaching programme (affiliate link).

Seven Simple Habits to Help You Get Up Early

Want to regularly get up early? To be the type of person who leaps out of bed at 6am and plunges themselves into their morning routine? I’ve talked about the importance of having a morning routine and many successful people cite the hours before everyone else gets up as the most important in their day. How can you embrace this lifestyle? Here’s seven habits to help you transform from a night owl into an early bird.

To show the time of 10pm
If you want to get up at 6am you need to be in bed by 10pm
Go to bed early

Count back 8 hours from when you want to get up and make sure your head is on the pillow by that time. If you want to be out of bed at 6am then by 10pm you need to be in bed, trying to sleep. I’m always amazed when I see Whatsapp messages from friends after 11pm. No wonder they struggle to get up in the morning. My understanding is that humans benefit from 7-9 hours sleep every night and therefore if you want to get up early, you need to go to bed early. Simple as that. Natalie Bacon has a post here about healthy sleep habits if you want to read a bit more about this.

Make sure your bedroom is dark

Worried that in the summer, if you’re going to bed early, your bedroom may not be dark enough for you to fall asleep? Or that in the height of summer you’ll wake up when the sun rises?  Some modern curtains are very thin and don’t block out light. To avoid both of these problems purchase some curtains with blackout lining or if that’s not an option wear an eye mask.  

A television in a bedroom
Get rid of that TV in your bedroom
Don’t have a TV in your bedroom

Love your box sets or Netflix before bed? The trouble is that watching some of those thrillers before bed will keep your mind racing and stop you from sleeping. There is also some concern that looking at a screen before bed can give you insomnia. Try to have some time before you go to sleep when you’re not looking at a screen.

Keep your phone in another room

Use your phone as an alarm clock and are constantly distracted by all the notifications? Replace it with something else. Don’t have a landline and worried you won’t be contactable in an emergency? Perhaps have your phone in your room, but not on your bedside cabinet or just outside the room with the volume turned up. Ideally, it should be downstairs and either switched off or charging.

Have different tog duvets for different times of year

How many times have we been on holiday in the summer to find the bed has a really thick duvet on it? You need to be comfortable. If you’re too hot or too cold you won’t sleep well. Use different thickness duvets for different times of year. Your partner’s always too hot and you’re always too cold? Try a thinner duvet and have a blanket on your side of the bed.

Toothbrushes to show morning routine
Just brushing your teeth tells your brain it’s time for bed
Tell your MIND that it’s time to go to sleep

Create a bed time routine. This can be as simple as brushing your teeth, washing your face and reading a couple of pages of a book. Here’s another post from Natalie Bacon, this time about morning and evening routines.

Use a sunrise lamp

Hate waking up a dark room, having to reach out your hand to the lamp and feeling blinded when you turn it on? Want to be woken up gently by ‘the sun’, no matter what time of year it is? Buy a sunrise lamp. I bought mine from John Lewis a few years ago and I think that it was about £50, so they aren’t cheap, but I wouldn’t be without it now. I think that I’ve forgotten what it’s like not to have one.

That’s it. Hopefully some great practical tips to turn you into that early bird. Why not start today and have an early night? You won’t regret it.

Prefer to listen to a podcast? Check out episode 40 of Mamafurfur’s podcast, The Prosperity Project about her morning routine for prosperity.

Want to learn more about life coaching and how to design your life? Why not check out ‘Grow You’, Natalie Bacon’s life coaching programme (affiliate link).

How to Love Your Job Again in Eight Easy Steps

Bored and fed up with your 9-5? Managers driving you crazy? Spend all week wishing your life away until Friday rolls around? In this post I’m going to suggest eight ways that you can begin to love your job again. I’m not promising you’ll look forward to every Monday morning, but I know it’ll be a whole lot more enjoyable than it is now.

Woman on a sofa on the phone
Remember this moment and how you felt
Remember why you chose your job in the first place

There must have been something that attracted you to this position. Think back to how you felt when you were told that your application was successful. How were you feeling on your first day in post? Sometimes when we are so familiar with something it becomes boring. Some of the most exciting jobs might be perceived by some as tedious. But take a step back and really focus on the purpose of the role and what function it serves. To others it may look interesting and you need to try to recreate that curiosity in yourself again.

Accept You can’t enjoy everything all of the time

Accept that we all have parts of our jobs that we don’t like e.g. admin tasks, difficult clients, long meetings. Natalie Bacon says that life is 50-50. That is, 50% good and 50% bad. Work is like that too. There’s the days when you love your job; the reason perhaps that you applied for the post in the first place. Then there’s the other bits, that come with every job. Instead of resisting these, just get on with them. See them as a necessary evil. Then you can put your energy into the parts of the job that you love.

remember Managers will be managers

Feel that you already have too much on your plate and yet your manager is trying to give you more to do? Don’t take it personally. Your manager’s job is to give you work. They may have pressure from above. I would recommend that you ‘pick your battles’. Try to be positive and accommodating most of the time. Then when you do put up some resistance they are more likely to take you seriously and listen. No one likes being told what to do, but that’s the nature of being an employee.

Even if you disagree with decisions the manager has made, at the end of the day they are the manager and it takes less energy to accept and just get on with what they are asking. You can waste so much time and energy feeling negative, whereas if you just do what is asked you can forget about it and move on to something more enjoyable. That’s likely to be the ‘deep work’ that you took this position for in the first place.  

Try to do a good job

You are likely to feel more positive about work if you get some job satisfaction, which I think comes from seeing a job well done. You are also more likely to get positive feedback from a manager or be selected for a promotion if you are seen to be someone who works hard and takes pride in what they do.

Two women in an office smiling at each other
Make your colleagues into your friends
Make friends at work

If you work full time then you are spending the best part of your week with your colleagues – well at least when we all went into an office. Your days are going to be so much more enjoyable when you feel you have a connection with those around you. We can’t all get on with everyone, but I am sure there are some of your colleagues you’d be happy to be friends with.

Take an interest in the lives of your colleagues and if you cooperate with other organisations or companies this can extend to those too. This can make collaboration so much more enjoyable and you can share your day to day lives, good and bad, with those that you are working with. When the opportunity arises, such as lunch or coffee breaks, take some time away from your desk to relax together. Have a look at my post about Tom Corley’s advice on building rich relationships.

Try not to get on the negativity bandwagon

Human beings, or at least a lot of the people that I know and some of whom I work with, have a tendency to focus on the negatives. How often do you bump into someone and their first question is ‘Busy?’. They moan about the manager, then about the company in general. Being in that negative vibe all of the time can be really draining. It’s not easy being the one who challenges the status quo, but there may be others who’ll be glad to hear your positive thoughts. They might have been thinking the same thing, but were reluctant to say so.

Take advantage of workplace benefits

Whether that’s taking all of your paid leave, using the office gym or taking advantage of the bike to work scheme. It’s always worth finding out what’s available at your place of work. We commit a lot of our time and energy to our company and if they reward that in ways other than your salary don’t be afraid to take advantage of that. Check out my post about the benefits of working in the public sector.

Computer on desk showing the time
Have a set logging off time
Have good work boundaries

I know that this is easier said that done, particularly when many people are working from home. Having set start and finish times and making sure you take a lunch break can prevent you from resenting work, as it doesn’t spill into your home life.

There we are, a few ideas to make your Monday to Friday a little more enjoyable. If you still can’t love your job you could move to a new position, but remember that after the novelty of a new job wears off you may begin to feel the same dissatisfaction as you did in your old job.

Perhaps you might want to think about opting out of work altogether. Why not start planning your ‘Work Optional’ life?

If you want some more ideas about positivity I would suggest checking out this post.

Want to learn more about life coaching and how to design your life? Why not check out ‘Grow You’, Natalie Bacon’s life coaching programme (affiliate link).

Five Ways to Reduce the Number of Decisions You Have to Make Everyday

paper cut outs of question marks
Having to make too many decisions every day?

Do you feel overwhelmed with the number of decisions that you have to make every day? What to wear, what to eat, the best way to work out. We are constantly faced with making choices. Making some small adjustments to reduce the number of decisions you have to make can free up time. Then you can concentrate on things that are really important and make life run more smoothly. In this post I’m going to give you some ideas how to do just that.

garlic, potato, star anise and coriander
Meal preparation is a must if you want to save time every day in deciding what to eat
plan your meals

A good place to start is with decisions about what you eat, something which all of us do several times a day. In the world of frugal living this is a popular tactic used to save money. Not only will you reduce your food spending by meal planning, but it has an added benefit. You don’t have to make a decision at the end of the working day, when you’re tired, about what to have for dinner. Ahead of time you’ll make a healthier decision than one made in the moment. Choosing what to cook can be the hardest part about being responsible for meal preparation in your home. On the few occasions when I ask Mr Simple to cook dinner he always says that as long as he knows what he has to prepare that’s half the battle and he can just get on with it.

I picked up a really useful tip recently from Dawn on ‘The Minimal Mom’ which I know you will also love. When thinking about meal planning I expect that you’re imagining yourself poring over cookery books for hours on end trying to decide on the recipes you’re going to cook over the coming week. What you need to do is to create a master list of meals and use this to choose what you are going to eat. My list has about 60 meal ideas. This has made meal planning a much less onerous task and it only takes me about 15-20 minutes every couple of weeks to decide on our meals for the coming fortnight.

a plate with curry and naan bread on it
We eat curry in our house ever Friday, Saturday and Sunday night
create a meal pattern

The next way to refine this process even further is to have a routine for what you eat when. My list of main meals list has two columns, one for regular meals and one for curry recipes. My mother used to tell me that when she was younger she only had to look at her plate of food every evening to know what day of the week it was. Whilst I wouldn’t want to have the same meal every Monday or every Friday, we have got into the habit of eating curry on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Mr Simple would eat curry every day, but I like to vary things a little bit. Over the past few months I have planned a vegetarian curry for Friday evenings, fish curry for Saturdays and on a Sunday we have the left overs with flat breads and maybe an extra vegetable side dish. This is another way that I reduce the decisions that I need to make about our meals. Whilst ‘curry’ covers a multitude of things, it still limits the choice and makes it easier to decide what we are going to have.

You may be thinking that this all sounds extremely boring, but you will find that 60 different meals is quite a lot. Also, as the months go on and different vegetables come into season you can expand the list of meals, maybe having a different list for each season of the year.

hanging rail of clothes
Having a small wardrobe makes deciding what to wear much easier
Create a Capsule wardrobe

An area in which you may be more familiar with the concept of limits is when it comes to clothes. The idea of the capsule or limited wardrobe has been popularised by people such as Courtney Carver. If you don’t fancy the idea of restricting the number of items in your wardrobe, perhaps you could choose only to wear certain colours. My life coach, Natalie Bacon, only wears neutrals.

I haven’t yet worked on this area in my life, but I have fallen into having a sort of uniform for work. Some days I have to dress smartly, whereas other times I just wear jeans. On the ‘smart’ days I have taken to wearing trousers in navy or blue, with a white t-shirt, navy or blue cardigan and then to liven things up I add a scarf. I have a choice of four scarves. For me that has become a sort of uniform and I don’t really have to think about much except the choice of scarf.

woman on exercise mat doing sit ups
Following an on line exercise programme can mean someone else making the decision for you
subscribe to an online exercise programme

Do you struggle with being motivated to do exercise as you can’t go out to classes anymore and can’t decide what to do? Perhaps before Covid you just got in the car, drove to the leisure centre, swam 30 lengths and came home. When lock down started last year I was doing a local Pilates class, but that closed. Although my teacher was doing Zoom classes I found them difficult to follow. For some inspiration I initially turned to YouTube. Perhaps you’ve tried this too and like me have been overwhelmed by the choice or wasted time each morning searching for a routine to do instead of getting on with exercising .

To reduce the choices that I have to make about what exercises to do I joined a Pilates programme. Jessica Valant’s site offers monthly plans where Monday to Friday she suggests routines to follow from her video library. Not only does this save me time deciding what to do, it also ensures that by the end of the week I have exercised all of my body, as she has a different focus each day e.g. Friday is leg day. The cost of this programme is about £110 per year and there are many other similar ones available e.g. the well-known Joe Wicks offers his programme at £90 per year. If you want some structure for your exercise routine and are prepared to pay someone else to make the decisions for you, have a search for some online programmes.

lemons and a spray bottle of yellow liquid
Creating a cleaning rota is making decisions ahead of time and they just repeat every week or month
Create a cleaning rota

I used to be rather haphazard in my choice of what to clean, just focusing on what I thought needed attention in the moment. Now there’s no decision to make, I just follow my rota. For week day evenings I don’t even have to look at my rota any more as those tasks have become habits. Mondays I empty the kitchen bin and sweep and mop the kitchen floor, Tuesday is dusting day, Wednesday is when the vacuuming gets done, Thursdays I clean the bathroom vanity unit and the mirrors in the house and on Friday I clean the kitchen sink and the hob.

Obviously there are a lot more cleaning jobs than these, but they go on my rota for the weekend. As I know what I am doing when, at least for Mondays to Fridays, there’s no time wasted deciding what needs cleaning. If I have a spare twenty minutes during my lunch break on a Tuesday I often grab a duster and polish and dash round the house, which frees up some of my evening for other tasks. Having a set routine means that you can almost be on autopilot and I don’t even think about it. Just follow your rota and almost magically the house stays clean, with not too much effort.

You may be thinking that all this is too restrictive, but remember you can always choose to go back to how things were before if you don’t find them useful. You can also make changes as the seasons change – you’ll probably want to for clothes and for food. If life is busy why not consider implementing some of these ideas. I promise you life will run more smoothly when you reduce the amount of decisions that you have to make every day.

Want to learn more about life coaching and how to design your life? Why not check out ‘Grow You’, Natalie Bacon’s life coaching programme (affiliate link).