I love my job. I do, I really, really do. I don't have a "normal" 9-5 job, I get to pick and choose my hours, my days, my weeks (all under the understanding that the more I work the more income I generate and the less I work the less income I get).
I still suffer from that monster called Procrastination.
(Just an aside here - there are some peeps who advocate for some Procrastination ... and essentially I have to agree with them, cause really, when you are daydreaming, or reading a book, or taking a walk, these are the times when your mind is ripe with creativity, so please keep this in mind when reading this blog post - SOME PROCRASTINATION IS GOOD!!!
Want to know more about why procrastination can be a good thing? Check out these groovy links:
Why Procrastination is Good for You.
6 Reasons to Procrastinate.
Even Marie Forleo has gotten in on the argument for some procrastination.)
Recently I was going through my emails and a question popped up in one of them, asking for opinions about good time management ... and I am sure, we can all agree that procrastination is the death nell for effective time management ... but, what if we factored in more breaks, more time for daydreaming, during our work hours, so much so that we actually get more work done with more efficiency?
A dream? A crazy crazy dream?
(Image from Claudia)
Time management is something I have always struggle with ... except for the most successful time of my life - my Paralympic Years.
I kid you not!!! My time management skills during my teens were beyond outstanding! My days, my weeks, my months and years were laid out in a time managed dream, with moments of focus, rest, and focus. Life was cool, calm, and collected, with me knowing exactly when and where I had to be at every point of the day, and it worked - my three Paralympic medals have to be a testament to that.
SO how did this happen? What made my time management so successful? AND how can this be implemented into work life, everyday life, your life?
Successful time management is as unique to you as your fingerprints. What works for someone else may not work for you, so you have to take it upon yourself to look at your habits, preferences, and body clock to see how you can perfectly fit your work and other things into your day.
So here are a few tips on how to successfully figure out the perfect time management plan for you.
1. For me, as a teenage swimmer, I had set activities that had to be fit into my day, including swimming training, school, and homework. Write down your set activities for your day, week, month. These are your starting points for structuring your unique plan.
2. Are you a morning person, a midday person, or a night owl? I am probably midway between a morning/midday person. As a swimmer this was slightly problematic as it was hard to be up at 5am!! But now, an 8am start is good for me, and then a fairly early night. So I start work at about 9.30 - 10am and try to clock off by 5pm (Unless I'm out speaking of course, and then my timings are up to my speaking schedule).
3. What is important to you outside of work? I like to make time for my friends, to go hiking, and do yoga. Sometimes, without proper attention to my time management these activities can get a little lost through work, so I have to keep on top of it, and even if I feel I am behind in email marketing, follow-ups, and blog post writing, I will still stop and do a yoga session, or meet up with a friend for coffee. Schedule time in for the activities that help to keep you sane.
4. When you have your hours set up for each day, break down the hours into segments, so that you have periods of intense focus and periods of relaxation and/or movement. As a swimmer my training sessions didn't just involve two hours of non-stop swimming. Each session ran to a plan, which involved gaps between each set, to allow for recovery, catching of breath, and a chance to guzzle some water. So think carefully about how you are structuring your hours of work.
5. With all of these things now being considered, plan out your weeks and days, placing activities at ideal times, but remembering that you have to allow flexibility in the plan. Remember to also have fun with your time - life really is to short, and it is nice to remember to slow down and let your day take you where it takes you sometimes, try not to get too hung up on keeping to a perfect time management schedule.
(image from flickr)
I attended my first session of a Cafe Psychologique last night in Leeds.
Cafe Psychologique? I hear you ask.
HISTORY LESSON TIME!!!!!
Back in the day when philosophers were still king, a certain arts movement started to create discussion groups in the Cafe's of Montparnasse in Paris. (A hug and a good luck wish for the person who guesses the correct art movement). They would gather in Cafe's and discuss life, love, art, journey's, destinations, passion, beauty, etc. However, it was the well known philosopher, Sartre, who put the Cafe Philosophique on the map. After WWII, Sartre held the discussions, which became known as "Cafe Philos," in the Cafe de Flore, opening up philosophical ideas to the general public ... or in this case, the taxi drivers and "ladies of the night" who inhabited the Cafe during the hours Sartre was there.
This was the inspiration for people in more recent times to take interesting ideas out of academia and into the general masses, to open up the wonder of knowledge and the power of storytelling to those who may not have ever had a chance to experience such delights. Cafe Psychologique is one of many groups that have started and flourished since the 1990's, engaging with people on a grass-roots level, encouraging discussion, encouraging openness.
I attended my first one last night.
the topic? SELF CARE AND MINDFULNESS.
What was interesting about this topic was the way that the people in the discussion interpreted the meaning of self care and mindfulness. Some felt that self care could lead to self indulgence, where you literally do 'nothing' as to do anything takes effort, emotion, thought, etc; others, like myself, felt that self care was more wrapped up in the mindfulness aspect, where you focus on the present moment, lose yourself in the moment, no matter what you are doing - but in being aware of yourself in the moment you can identify anything bad, not good, or disastrous that may arise in that process - i.e., running too much that you pull a muscle, eye strain from working at the computer too much, or even falling asleep during meditation and falling off your cushion (?).
I heard many differing opinions, and as Chris - the organiser of the evening stated, "all opinions are valid," and so they were. But this is my blog so I want to give you a little insight into how I think self care/mindfulness can help you on your goal journey.
When you set a goal it is expected that you will continue to drive yourself forward until you achieve that goal. In that process, however, it is highly likely that you will lose sight of the number one priority in achieving goals .... YOU! Self care and being mindful reminds us that we cannot achieve our goal if we are burnt out, injured, or dead! So what are some steps you can take on your goal journey to ensure that YOU are the main priority in the journey?
1. Live your goal journey day by day. Keep the end goal in mind, but recognise that you can only do so much each day towards reaching that goal.
2. Embrace some daily meditation, in whatever form that takes. Since I have started my yoga practice I have noticed that I am more likely to make space for a form of meditation during my day, even if it is just a few stretches and deep focused breaths for two minutes whilst I wait for the jug to boil. It is taking that time to make sure that I am stepping out of my mind, my thoughts, and am remembering that I only ever have this moment. I can then take this focus to my work, as can you!
3. Create a solid (yet fluid) structure for your day. Know what you have to achieve, but recognise that you may not get it all done, but that that is okay. Give yourself a cutoff point for work ... I always try to finish up work by 5pm (unless I'm speaking in the evening of course). Once that 5pm arrives I switch off the computer and RELAX!!!
What do you think about self care and mindfulness? What self care rituals do you follow? Comment below!
Hey Peeps, don't ya know it's been awhile since I have down one of my interviews of amazingly awesome and rad ladies, but here is my latest one, and boy is this chick inspiring, motivated, and showing us all how to kick our fears and anxieties in the butt! How? you might ask? By swimming the English Channel this year!! How mind-blowing, exciting, and extraordinary is this?!? Hazel is only 16 years of age, and has already achieved many inspirational swims in the past few years. So grab your cup of tea, pull up your chair, and get ready to read an incredible interview ...
Hazel, you are going to embark on an amazing journey in August next year – swimming across the English Channel – can you explain how you first came to the idea that you wanted to do this?
I started open water swimming around 5 years ago this is when I was completing the smaller swims such as 3k. I then found out that USWIM had a Channel relay going out that year and I was massively interested in making my challenge harder. We had long talks with coaches, successful channel swimmers and also family as it is a huge investment and also you have to be 100 percent sure you want to do it, it was the best decision I ever made and I cant wait for the day and for the rest of the other swims.
To swim the English Channel is a huge challenge and not a lot of people would choose to do it, just over 1000 swimmers have been officially recorded as crossing the channel successfully! How are you preparing for the swim and how do you envision the swim to be like?
When preparing for something like this you cant do enough of something. Practice makes perfect and you cannot afford to not practice or prepare something you think you wont need as you probably will need it. When you think you have enough add a few more because when your out in the channel there is no way of accessing more things which you might need, Preparing is a massive part of the channel challenges, everything has to be prepared and your crew need to understand it fully but you also have to practice; you have to practice failing, being sleep deprived, being hungry or not being in control. I have an idea of what I want my swim to be I think everyone would like the perfect swim with the 7am swim start and then swimming into the night or starting at night and swimming into the morning with the perfect conditions which would be the calm sea and being able to get into France without a fight but really we all know that wont happen. You go out when the weather and conditions are at there best
What equipment, assistance, etc, will you be using to help you cross the channel?
While I swim the English channel I will have a support vessel. Mine is Louise Jane with Andy King as my pilot for the swim. Andy has the final decision about everything during the swim and he is the only person other than me who can stop the attempt. I will also have a crew: a crew of around 6-8 people which so far include, My support swimmer and successful channel swimmer Ella Dunn who I have been training with for a few years, My dad as I have never completed a big swim without him, My brother to complete Social media I.e. updating face book, twitter and blogs and hopefully another one of my very good friends one who is also a channel swimmer and the other who crewed my two way Windermere in August this year.
You have swum distances before, what is the longest distance you have ever swum?
In one swim: it would have to be Two way Windermere which was 21 miles in 10 hours 50 minutes and then following that it would be the back to back 6 hour swims then 7 hour swims. I have also competed 6 x 6 hour swims ; you only need one 6 hour swim to qualify to swim the channel solo.
How do you prepare mentally for such a long swim?
Its just a swim.. you have to make sure you stay calm and fully understand what you are doing. There is so many other things that you cant control for example jellyfish, other wildlife, weather and the tides these are things you cant change or prevent so you have to be mentally prepared to be able to adapt; if the tide turns and your on the last mile to France you could be facing another 6 hours to get in and you have to be able to keep your mind strong enough to think “ yes I can do this” which after 12+ hour swimming could be a bit tricky or if you miss cap griz nez due to tides or your feeding times being too long this could add another 9 hours on to the swim as you would have to swim to the other side.
As a swimmer, when I had long, distance training sessions to get through, I would often sing songs in my head, particularly high beat songs, as I would set my stroke rate to the pace of the beat. Do you have any mental coping mechanisms that you use to get you though long training sessions and/or races?
All my training sessions are long, from 2 hours up to 6 in a pool and then the swims in open water could go on for 10 hours + so singing is definatley something that ALWAYS happens. I also spend a lot of time while training thinking which is not always a good thing but it depends what kind of day I have had. I enjoy thinking about things that have happened and being in the water they are no longer there, its just me and the water. Bit of friendly competition always keeps the session cheery so maybe racing a fellow swimmer or changing the sets a bit to keep it fresh helps. Overall the main thing that happens is I go into a day dream where I have my swimming pace and im kind of in the zone, this is when I use quotes such as “just keep swimming” or if I am finding the session hard I say to myself “you wont get to France if you don't do this” bit harsh but it works and it keeps my legs kicking and arms moving.
What is a typical training week for you? AND how do you fit your training in around you education and social life?
A training week starts with Mondays off for a rest day the reason for this is weekends are full of morning swim after noon sea/lake swim and then back in the pool in the evening so the Monday off gives my body time to repair itself. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday usually are one hour morning session before school and then 2 hours in the evening or in the summer/open water season Wednesday nights are at Salford and Thursday evenings are at a lake in Cheshire with USWIM. Weekends are usually spent either away from home training or Saturday in one place and then Sunday another sea/lake swim and then masters on a Sunday night. Fitting a social life around this is not easy and I cherish all the free time I get but mainly spend it sleeping or doing paperwork for the channel arrangements. My friends and family have understood that I am not available a lot of the time and they plan around me which I appreciate so much. When I have to say no to things it is hard and sometimes can make you feel down because your missing out but the social time with all the people I train with makes it worth it, the hardwork and achivement that comes out of training makes saying no worth it as well. I am not going to say that my education is easy to fit around my training or should I say my training around my education because it is not. In some cases it is not too bad as there isn’t as much work to do or there are no exams coming up but when im flooded with coursework or have to revise for exams it can get a bit tricky but it can also go the other way where I have to miss school to attend swims and do things due to swimming commitment. For example this year I was lucky enough to be part of a world record group who swam the Caledonia way in Scotland for pancreatic cancer but with this amazing opportunity I had to miss 6 days of school which is a lot of work to take or come back to, I do not struggle to complete all work or get my grades as training has been part of me since the age of 5 but missing the days do definatley make a difference to your knowledge and you just have to work extra hard when you return. On the other hand my school are massively supporting me and actually only found out how successful my swimming had become when I won 1st junior girl for the British Long Distance swimming in June but ever since then they have been behind me all the way and supporting me as much as they can over the next 8 months before the swim.
Is crossing the English Channel your biggest swimming goal? Or do you have other goals in swimming that you would like to achieve?
The EC swim is only the tip of the ice berg for me, its classed as the Mount Everest of the long distance swimming world but if I am successful in my attempt next year I will go on to complete the Oceans 7 swims. This includes swimming : Irish Channel, the Cook Strait, the Molokai Channel, the English Channel, the Catalina Channel, the Tsugaru Strait and the Strait of Gibraltar. Being a winter swimmer as well I am also in training to complete my ice mile in February which is a mile in waters under 5 degree.
If you could choose to hold a dinner party for the top three swimmers of all time who would you choose to invite and why?
I really cant decide with this as im actually lucky enough to know a lot of the best swimmers but if I had to pick it would be Lewis Pugh who is one of the most inspirational people I have ever known. Lewis the 1st person to complete a long distance swim in the north pole which was -0.3 degrees.
I would love to continue to help you out in any way I can Hazel, because I think what you are wanting to achieve is pretty special, so over the next year I would love to do occasional updates for my readers on how the crossing plans are coming. In the meantime, is there any particular support you are looking for or needing that perhaps, some of my readers, could help you with?
If you would like to support me with my swim your business / organisation might like to provide sponsorship for…
Free or discounted services, for example;
Entry to swimming pools / Open water venues
I also asked Hazel's parents a few questions about how they are supporting Hazel and what it's like to be the parent's of a highly motivated and big dreaming athlete ...
Mr and Mrs Killingbeck, thank you for letting me interview you and Hazel and to try and find out more about Hazel swimming the English Channel. Firstly, how do you feel about Hazel wanting to cross the channel? Was it a surprise, or is choosing big challenges such as this a usual thing for Hazel?
We are incredibly proud of Hazel for her decision to swim the Channel and all her training. It was not a surprise when hazel decided to swim the channel as we had discussed it in depth together and with her coach who at the time was actually down in Dover on the Manchester USWIM channel relay.
How will you be supporting Hazel in the lead up to the crossing and during the crossing?
I will be part of her crew on the boat which is a massive privilege as I will get to see first hand what happens and the whole thing.
Is Hazel the only swimmer in the family, or is it a genetic trait?
It is a genetic trait as I was a swimmer before I was diagnosed with MS. When Hazel was born we were very strict about making sure she knew how to swim just for safety reasons but Hazel began to compete and then took it further as she got older.
What advice do you have for other parents out there who’s children are setting great big dreams and lofty goals?
We believe as parents that you should allow your child to want to do as many big dreams in their life’s. Especially at a younger age like Hazel it is something they have for life the people they meet, them experiences that they will get to have like Hazel. Make sure they want it and make sure they work hard.
Wowee, what an interview, Hazel is one very special young lady, and she really deserves all the support that people can give her (and her parent's are pretty special too - supporting her on her big journey to English Channel glory). If you would like to support Hazel you can check out her blog, her MS fundraising page, or her twitter feed. Please get behind her 100%, we, as a society really need to support young people in whatever their dreams are and help them succeed, because it is youngin's like Hazel that are our future!
Soooo, how was your New Years? Was it everything you thought it would be?
Mine was great - playing trivial pursuit (my Canadian friend won with a Canadian flag question .... it should not have been allowed, lol), counting in the new year, and then retiring to bed to get up the next morning to do a walk.
On the Dales Way, the part between Bolton Bridge and the Cavendish Pavilion at Bolton Abbey. All up it was 4.2miles long (the longest distance I have ever walked - in relatively one go of course, not like, in my entire life!!)
it was WET
OH SO MUCH FUN!!!!
There I am, nearly soaked through, my hair frizzed into a curly mess, sweat and water on my deepest layer of clothing, but you know what - I didn't care!
This walk, ALL the walking I am doing, is opening my eyes to the actual simplicity of being human - without all the ancillary attachments that we gift our lives with. Walking, especially in the miserable weather like I did, took away any concerns about how I looked, what I was wearing, removed the fear of decision making, doubts, and fears, bought me immediately into the present and firmly held me there.
It levels you - this walking - the camaraderie you have with fellow walkers, who are also, cold, wet, and muddy, becomes a defining feature. I didn't know any of the people I passed on the walk, but everyone, no matter how cold and desperate they looked, had a smile for you and a 'hello, happy new year.' We were all out, in the middle of no-where, no running away, no hiding, just being open to the experience and knowledge that you can enjoy the walk, the cold, the mud, because in the end, we are all in the same situation, AND this situation (as with any other) will not last.
it did not last - before I knew it, I was in a pub having a delicious hot chocolate to warm up!
But the day made me think that just as I am pushing myself and growing my strength physically, I can also transmute this to all other aspects of my life - and by other aspects, I refer specifically to business, and education. To grow, to move forward, we all need to be aware of our boundaries, but be fearless to push past them, to know that in being fearless we are creating conditions of change, and that through change, not all states of being last forever. Are you going to be fearless this year?
How did you start your new years?
Sorry I haven't been around much lately peeps, between trying to get my book written and getting organised for Christmas, but the past few months have seen a huge shift in my life, a renewed sense of motivation and inspiration and a great desire to go into the next year with positivity and fun.
I am loving life at the moment, with my Mastermind group up and running, and the amazing, positive support I am getting from so many people in my life - both professionally and personally, I am feeling very blessed at the moment. Part of the fun and excitement of life at the moment is the fact that it is almost Christmas time and also nearly 2014.
What does Christmas and the beginning of a new year mean to you?
Christmas has always held such fond memories for me - and whether I am with my family in Australia, or with my UK peeps, I always have a wonderful Christmas day. With Capitalism taking so much of the focus of Christmas away from spiritual meaning, I always try to remember the deeper side of the day - being with those you love, giving, openness, and acceptance. For about the past twenty years I have always received more pleasure from giving presents then receiving them, I have always appreciated the food shared with family and friends, and the quiet reflectiveness of Christmas night, when you are stuffed to the gills with turkey and pudding, and reminiscing not just the day, but the past year.
I still have to decorate the tree!! I still have to make some presents!!
But this is the fun, the pleasure, the outside-of-reality that Christmas embodies, the tossing aside of the mundane everyday and the embracing of overeating, making, buying, and wrapping of fantastical items for those you love.
However, Christmas also signals the coming end of the year, and boy what a year I have had. It had been an up and down year, good things and bad things, lessons learnt, things let go of, and new promises made to myself. In fact the past two years have been like this, but I feel that this topsy-turvy time has been a huge signifier of change. I am changing, as we all are, opening up to life and all experiences, both negative and positive, and recognising that no matter what life throws at you you have to remain true to yourself and your own life aims and goals.
So on reflecting on the past twelve months, here are some things that I have learnt:
- Truth and Honesty is King; trust myself because that is the most important thing
- Be as open as possible; holding onto hurt does no-one any good, better to let go and move on
-Embrace those that support you and love you no matter what, a big shout out to my twister and PSA peeps here
- You must always look after yourself first, then you can look after others
- Forgiveness is the path to freedom; I have forgiven and I have moved on, I am looking forward to the next journey that life has for me
- Be Present, enthusiastic always, I have knocked some talks right out of the ball park this year, simply by being absolutely present to the moment and embracing the enthusiasm for life that this brings
-Yoga, what more can I say, it has been a lifesaver
- and lastly, but most importantly, reaffirming my love for my Ma and Pa, they have always believed in me and I wouldn't be where I am today without them and for that I will be forever grateful.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
So what are you reflecting on this year? How has your life been the past twelve months? What lessons had life taught you?
Comment below ....
"Your Determination is Limitless"
- Elizabeth Wright