Get More Time Back In Your Day

I don’t know about you, but since working from home over the last eight months, I have 100% suffered from screen fatigue. At the start of the pandemic, how to be productive was top of mind to help me navigate this new virtual world. However fast forward to November, I am now experiencing tiredness from the constant video calling. It’s got to the point where even some of my non-meetings, which are meant to be fun and informal, are beginning to feel like meetings. The social calls, the casual 1:1’s, the impromptu how-the-heck-do-I-solve-this-problem kinda calls, still have an element of planning to them. They each require you to send over a meeting invite, set up a new VC link, whilst also making sure your room and your appearance both are relatively presentable, and any other distractions are kept to a minimum. At the same time, you are trying to do your job in one space which has no boundaries between your home and work life. I am also currently working in the world of recruitment, so on top of these video calls with colleagues, friends and family, there are also candidates and interviewers thrown into the mix. Now, that’s a lot of mascara I go through, I’ll tell you that much!

Of course video calling has been essential in helping us to cope and stay connected. It has also aided some of us to continue working throughout the pandemic, but there is no doubt it is also very time consuming and tiring. I’m pretty sure I spend on average at least eight hours of my work week, solely on video calls. Maybe like me, you too have felt the need at some point to always be visible online to your team, fearing you’d be seen as slacking if you weren’t. I created this expectation that I had to respond straight away to that email, or instant message via Microsoft Teams/ Workplace/ Slack, whatever it may be, despite this memo never coming from my employer. In fact, I feel quite lucky to say it has been quite the opposite. I have had open conversations about the reality of working from home with my managers and team, who each have related and encouraged healthier and smarter ways of working. Of course there are still elements to working from home which are more convenient than office life, but by no means is every day a walk in the park. From wifi issues, home distractions, loneliness, screen fatigue and working more intensely, it can feel difficult and disheartening. If you can relate to any of these things, I wanted to share with you a few tips that have helped me claim back time in my day, and improve my work-life balance.

It all comes down to smart planning. With daylight hours getting shorter, I ensure that I make time for a walk and some form of exercise every single work day. I plan this around when there are no meetings (and in my case, interviews) coming up, so that I am less likely to be distracted and interrupted. Just as I used to utilize my commute into work to practice mindfulness, I continue to plan time in for me. I do my best to get at least 30 minutes fresh air a day, with the incentive of getting some steps in on my FitBit. I also love podcasts and am back into the habit of listening to these on my walk. I am still loving Sibling Revelry if anyone needs a recommendation!

Every day I also block out my lunch break in my diary for two reasons. The first being so no one puts in any additional meetings, and the second so that I remember to actually take a lunch break. I work best in quiet spaces so my work days tend to zoom past, however this means that I physically need a reminder to take a break. I also try to avoid working lunches, and go to a different room to eat. I’ve found that the change of scenery makes a huge difference to my mindset.

Block out your time as much as possible. Whether you can introduce a no meeting day rule (so you can actually do your job), or no meetings on a Friday after 4pm, make your day work for you as much as you can.

Be honest and set expectations with yourself and your manager. Do you really need to be at that meeting for the whole hour, or is your time better spent only joining for the first or last 15 minutes? Although you may be conscious of building and maintaining relationships at work, some things can be better summed up in an email, rather than a meeting. If you find this is happening regularly, feed it back and discuss it with your team. The chances are, everyone else is also thinking the same thing.

It’s important to acknowledge that we most definitely aren’t in the same working world that we were in back in March. Therefore I encourage you to feel empowered to break or reshape some of your old working habits, as we continue to work remotely.

I’d love to hear your tips on how to claim back time in your day, feel free to share with me in the comments below!

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How To Start A Blog (& What To Expect)

So you want to start a blog but not sure where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place! By now you have probably read several posts on why you should start a blog and if it is hard to do so. To answer both of these questions, yes you should and no it’s not! The hardest thing to do is to get over your fear of sharing your work. I’ve been writing my blog for the last 3 years and frankly, I wish I started it sooner. When I write, hours feel like mere minutes and when I look back on my old posts I can tell just how much my writing has improved. I’ve connected with bloggers all over the world and despite what you think about it being over-saturated, there definitely is a space in the blogosphere for you!

“Where do I start?”, I hear you ask. I’ve broken it down for you in the below checklist so that hopefully it won’t feel as intimidating:

Checklist

1. Blog purpose
You may have heard people say pick your “niche”. But let’s start in a more general sense. What topics will you be writing about? Will it be fashion, plants, women in tech, cooking, baking, travel on a budget, lifestyle, arts &crafts, health & wellness? The list goes on! Once you have decided on this, think about what type of blogs you like to read or would want to read. Will your blog’s purpose be to educate, entertain or perhaps be review based? Once you’ve figured this out, it will help you discover what kind of voice you want your blog to have.

2. Blog name
Once you have decided what you want to write about you can begin thinking about your name. There are lots of name generators online, but if you’re stuck I’d suggest to begin writing a few posts and see what name best reflects the pieces you have written. Then you will need to do a bit of research to see if your blogs name (domain) is available (see point 3).

3. Platform
There are lots of great blogging platforms to use. I use WordPress but there is also Blogger, Wix and Medium to name a few. WordPress has lots of good free templates and packages to choose from. Not sure if you want to invest in blogging right away? That’s ok! There are lots of free templates and a free packages available. Once you have chosen your platform, it will let you search to see if your name is available, and if not it will suggest a list of some alternative names to use.

4. Content & Blog Design
I’d suggest to have a draft post written when you start designing your site, start short between 350-500 words. This will allow you to see what template and style you like best as you start bringing your blog to life. There are so many designs to choose from! I’d recommend to start with the free templates unless you are 100% sure what design you want.

6. Photos
Don’t be shy and add some photos to bring your blog to life. There are so many free stock photos you can add, but get creative and share your work. You don’t need to show your face if you don’t want to and you don’t need an expensive camera. Take photos on your phone and play around with editing them on free apps like Adobe Lightroom or VSCO.

7. About Me
Feel free to add an “About Me” page which should include an introduction to your blog. Why did you start it and what can people expect? Keep it short and snappy.

8. Share!
Perhaps the scariest of them all is sharing your blog with people you know and strangers. It took me 6 months to share my work and tell more than 1 person about it. Then I got too scared and didn’t write for a long time. Ignore the little voice in your head telling you your work isn’t good enough and that people will laugh. Why you started your blog is bigger than this voice. To name a few reasons, for me blogging is a great creative outlet, a wonderful way for my friends and family to keep up with me, a weekly challenge and a fab way to look back on old trips. Share your blog across social media to begin with, maybe set up your own Facebook page, a new Instagram etc. These are free and easy ways to grow your readership.

So what should you expect at the beginning?

  1. You may have some tech issues and frustrations at the start, but remember you’re learning something completely new and YouTube is your best friend!
  2. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to stick to a rigid blogging schedule. Yes, it does help to tell your readers how often you will share posts, but let your creativity come naturally otherwise it just won’t be enjoyable and you will probably give up more often.
  3. Posting more regularly will help increase your blog traffic (i.e. views). In January 2019 I wanted to get back into the swing of blogging so I did a month of daily blogging and I saw a big surge in views.
  4. Unless you already have a large following across your social media, the likelihood is that you will slowly build a readership. But Rome wasn’t built in a day!
  5. Don’t focus on the stats of your blog too much and don’t compare yourself to big time bloggers or influencers. It look a time for them to get there.
  6. Concentrate on writing about what makes you passionate, not what you think people will hear.
  7. Yes you can make money from blogging in the long run, but it likely won’t be lucrative at the beginning. It will be dependent on how many people view your blog monthly, what you are offering to your readers, if you use ads, affiliate links, work with brands etc. But do not let this put you off!
  8. Go at your own pace and again, DO NOT COMPARE.
  9. How long does it take to write a post? Well, how long is a piece of string? I can spend anywhere from 2-6 hours writing and editing my blog posts. Most of my pieces are very lengthy though, so that’s probably my own doing and it depends on the style of the post, e.g. a short story takes much longer to write and edit than a smoothie recipe blog post!
  10. Lastly, remember to enjoy and welcome to the blogging community! Let me know if you’re new to the world of blogging and let’s connect!

I hope you enjoyed this post and will subscribe, like and comment if so. You may also like:

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Kardashian Hair? |Andrew Fitzsimon X Primark

Earlier this year Andrew Fitzsimon, hair stylist to the most debated interesting Kardashian to look at, released his very own collaboration with Primark. That’s right, Andrew may have Kourtney K, one of the world’s most famous celebrities as a client and a pal, but he was thinking of the everygirl when he released this range with Primarni, A.K.A., Primark! With killer prices, a hair accessory and essential to cover your every beauty need, how does the AF range actually stack up?

Let’s start with the basics:

Where?
Available in Primark in the U.K. you can buy his hair accessories online, but most of the products can only be bought in store. Luckily, I purchased mine back in March (pre-lockdown) in the Primark flagship store on Tottenham Court Road, London.

Products
There is an abundance to choose from, but Andrew has released a large selection of the following, complete with his iconic AF branding:

  • Shampoos
  • Conditioners
  • Hair Mask
  • Hair Oil
  • Glam Styling Spray (Heat protector)
  • Dry Shampoo
  • Texture Spray
  • Bounce Spray (Hairspray)
  • Silk Hair Ties & Scrunchies
  • Flat (No mark) Clips and Hair Claws
  • Flat Paddle Brush
  • Blowdry Brush
  • Rail Comb
  • Hairdryer
  • Hair Curler
  • Make-Up Bag
  • Eye Mask

Range

  • Shine
  • Volume
  • Nourish

Price

  • Hair accessories = £2-3
  • Sprays = £2.50
  • Shampoos = £3.50
  • Hair oil = £3.50

100684991_1133728900312465_3871328279021486080_nFirst things first, I love how aesthetically pleasing each product in the range is! If I had it my way, I would have bought them all to try. Alas, I am confined to a mere drawer of hair accessories and tools, so I decided to sample only a few. As pictured above, I bought the Shine range, Luxe Hair Oil, 3 of the sprays, satin scrunchies and blowdry brush.

Since purchasing the AF range, I’ve now used the Shine range a handful of times. First and foremost, I just adore how the shampoo, conditioner and mask each make my hair smell incredible and in turn, how it makes me feel a million bucks! And importantly, as you can see in this first impressions video, there actually is some noticeable shine to my hair; a result that is usually only obtained at hair salons.

However, I do feel the products slightly disappointed me on hair softness. If I compare this range to my typical go-to affordable hair brand TRESemmé, or to my favourite splurge buy, Kerastasé, my hair was noticeably less soft. Usually, I don’t need to use hair oil after I wash my hair, but I feel it’s more of a necessity with this range. I’d recommend to generously apply the Luxe Hair Oil on your hair when both wet and dry, to get that super soft feeling. On the flip side, you could also use a lot more conditioner or leave the hair mask on your hair for longer, to try and obtain your desired softness.

A big plus for me, is that so far none of the products have contributed to any colour build up – a common issue for blonde/dyed hair. In addition to this, the Luxe Hair Oil hasn’t tinted my hair with brassy tones either, an unwanted result I have noticed with other common drugstore brands. So, how do I rate the products I tried overall?

98884451_291939498487568_4991257395343654912_n

Shampoo, Conditioner & Mask = 3.5/5
Although my hair lasted 3 days before it needed washing again with workouts in between, other brands that are on par with price, have left my hair feeling softer.

Hair Oil = 4/5
I’d recommend using at least 2-3 pumps of this oil on both wet and dry hair. If you massage it into your hair as suggested you will reap the benefits!

Hair Ties =3/5
These are really cute and I wear them on a daily basis even when I exercise, and I can confirm that my hair did not slip/fall out… even on those jump lunges! I also haven’t had any battles trying to detangle my hair from the bands. However, I was disappointed with the finished quality on the larger hair scrunchies which had loose threads.

Blowdry brush = 4.5/5
No complaints here! This brush is really sturdy and comfortable to hold whilst I style my hair, and the bristles didn’t pull or frizz my hair whilst drying.

Smell & Appearance = 5/5
Again I cannot emphasize just how much I love the sweet, fruity scent of these products!

Price = 4.5/5
This range is so affordable that I almost gave it a 5/5, however I certainly wouldn’t begrudge paying a tiny bit more if it meant the products were finished to a slightly higher standard.

What would I buy again?
I have found it difficult to find a Texture spray that my hair likes, but this one does the trick. The Glam Styling spray gave me movie star vibes and I actually really like the hair oil and think it’s good value for money!

Overall rating = 4*!
Although the quality could be better for certain products, considering how affordable the whole range is, I think it’s a bargain. If you’re on a budget but fancy a small splurge, I recommend you give the AF range a go.

Have you tried any of the AF X Primark products? What did you think?

If you want me to review any other products, let me know in the comments below!

If you enjoyed this post you should subscribe and check out the following:

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AF X Primark (Part 2)| How I Curl My Hair

Attention all my fellow lovely readers! It’s me back at my news desk (apparently!) to inform you that your weekly video is up to let your minds wander for a moment, to a place far away from our daily 5pm broadcasts. Maybe you need some self care, just want to get dressed up or try curling your other half’s inevitable long lockdown hair (no judgement here!) Well you’re in luck! A really short how I curl my hair video using Andrew Fitzsimon’s hair products is up on my YouTube channel! Make sure you check it out to see how I get these loose beach waves in less than 10 mins…

If you enjoyed this video you should subscribe to my YouTube to keep up to date with what I’m talking about and check out the below:

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A Bridesmaid Prep Guide

It may be September but wedding season is well and truly still upon us. I personally think that September is a wonderful month to get married in as here in England the weather reaches an optimal temperature; it’s been around 22-26 degrees this month! Similarly this fantastic time of year is a great excuse to have a wedding abroad and for guests to make a holiday out of it. Not only can they beat the crowds but the sky high, peak season prices too! My eldest brother got married about ten days ago in Croatia and we all did just that! It was a magical occassion as the venue was by the sea, the weather was perfect and he is the first one out of my siblings and I to be wed. Oh and I was one of the bridesmaid’s! As you can also tell on this blog, I love a bit of beauty! So in the spirit of this wedding theme, I have prepared a mini checklist for all of your pre-bridesmaid prep needs for the big day, which can be adapted for guests too!

Outfit

I would hope you have your bridesmaid dress in advance of the wedding! This will allow you to have time to plan your look for the day. For my brother’s wedding, the bridesmaids all wore multiway dresses. This is a great option to cater to everyone’s different styles and bodyshapes. When it comes to being a bridesmaid though, I have a few tips for you:

  • Plan your underwear! Try your dress on to see if it will require seamless or strapless underwear (Primark or H&M offer some good and cheap pairs)
  • If you’re planning on partying to the early morning, bring a pair of flats to rescue those toes

Make-Up

Depending on the colour of your bridesmaid dress, match your make-up accordingly. I wore a teal coloured bridesmaid dress for my brother’s wedding and opted for nude tones and a bronzed rather than blushed look. The make-up artist ended up doing my eyes a tad heavier and darker than I anticipated. Nonetheless as the wedding reception was around sunset it meant that my make-up was a good day to night look.
I wore Eylure fake eyelashes in 101 and the make-up artist used a lot of products from NYX and Make Up Forever that lasted all day. Of course this was also down to her finishing off the look with some setting spray. I personally love NYX’s finish spray in matte and it works really well in hotter climates too! If I were to do my make-up myself some essentials I would recommend for a wedding would be a primer for your foundation, an eyeshadow primer (again NYX for both as they offer some good quality inexpensive choices) and waterproof mascara to go over the top of your chosen ‘main’ mascara.

To any sensitive skin beauties out there, I can tell you that these products didn’t cause any breakouts for me!

Hair

Being a blonde, I prefer to get my hair done in a salon and booked myself in for a balayage and a cut a week before the wedding. I think this is a good amount of time as it lets the dye soften and gives you an option to go back and get your colour toned if need be. Similarly if you decide to use a box dye leave about a week in advance just in case!

Browsing Pinterest until my heart was content, I chose to have my hair off my face with a simple and elegant style.

Although a hairdresser did my hair on the day of the wedding, I think this same look can be recreated with a donout, some backcombing and a bit of hairspray.

Nails

When it comes to being a bridesmaid, I think that more understated nails are a safer choice than what you may go for as a wedding guest. I had a manicure and shellac nails done at Polish’d Nail Bar with this lovely nude. I matched my toes using OPI but Essie and Sally Henderson also offer a lovely variation of neutral tones.

Accessories

A small clutch bag is key for the day to hold your phone, lipstick and a small mirror for any touch ups. For my bag I used a gold jewelled one from Accessorize that I bought last year.

makeup 2

I kept my jewellery simple with a small drop dangling earring in a gold style from Bloomingdale’s which I luckily found on my trip to New York in the Summer. I also paired this with some stackable rings that I bought from Topshop.

I would like to wish my wonderful brother and my lovely new sister-in law a very happy and long marriage!

Natalia x

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