Time to create

Tomorrow my tiny girl turns 2 years old. I don’t know where it went (we all say that don’t we) when I look back and realise that the time has flown by so quickly its emotional, but its also a reminder to enjoy all the time I get to spend with her and treasure it. Especially while she is at home with me every day and while she is so little. So tomorrow will involve a far-too-big-for-a-child-that-won’t-remember-any-of-it party.


The sunshine has been glorious for weeks but now we all waiting for the rain to come and i’m crossing everything that it might just miraculously hold off until tomorrow afternoon at 3pm when the party is over. Otherwise I really don’t know how I am going to fit in all the people! Today I am going to finish the first part of my essay that is due next Friday, decorating a farmyard themed cake, do all the cleaning I’ve been putting off for week while the sun was shining, trying out some pilates, and resting a muscle I pulled in my leg. Wonder if i can fit all of it in? Must remember to not worry if things don’t all work out that way.

Today I am talking about creating. Creating is a pretty important thing for me. I create in many different ways. I write, I paint, I sew, I draw, I bake. There is so many ways to create, perhaps you are doing it without even realising? A part of learning to create Life Balance is making time to create.


Creation is important. It helps us to express ourselves. It is really cathartic. If I go through a stage of my life where I haven’t felt i had the time or motivation for creation then I really don’t feel like myself. Emotions tend to be out of whack and everything feels just too serious. I used to paint more, now I have to schedule proper time to do it so that that part of me doesn’t get neglected. Around working, studying, family and housework I really have to work to fit it in.

In my experiences and most of the people I have asked creating and hobbies are the first things that get ditched when times are busy. People say to me often ‘I used to write music but I just don’t have the time anymore’ this is really sad to me. There should always be time to nurture your creative side. If i ask what they are doing instead the response generally is ‘oh I’m so tired at the end of the day I just watch TV’. But creating doesn’t have to be strenuous, It doesn’t have to take a lot of energy. In fact it can be a really wonderful way to relax.


If I told you to start off by finding a 1 hour space during a whole week to do something creative could you? I bet you probably could. Maybe you could even find 2 or 3 hours. But to start off with just find one hour. If you struggle for ideas or don’t believe that you are a creative person (I’ve heard that a lot!) try looking through Pinterest, there are so many ideas on there with simple step by step guides.

My board ‘Crafts to do‘ could be a good place to start.

There is something there for everyone. For those of you struggling here are a few ideas;

  • Scrapbooking
  • Journalling
  • Painting
  • Doodling
  • Colouring in (there is such a thing as grown up colouring in books nowadays try your local bookshop!)
  • Baking
  • Cooking
  • Decorating
  • Sewing
  • Knitting
  • Stenciling
  • Writing
  • Photography
  • Gardening
  • Building
  • Decoupage

I could literally go on and on, seriously look through Pinterest there is something there for you! It is relaxing and so much more fulfilling than another night watching soaps, (although a few of those don’t hurt either, don’t get me wrong). Most importantly, do it for you. Don’t worry how it will turn out or what anybody thinks about it. Just enjoy the time alone and relax.


Imogen x

7 Tips to Boost Productivity

Good morning lovely readers! Hope everyone has had a wonderful relaxing weekend. I have (mostly) but theres always important things to do. I try my best to find the balance between getting the bits done that I need to for example;

  • Studying
  • Working
  • Quality family time
  • Cleaning
  • Washing

and time alone to recover and to implement self care which, as I grow personally, I know is top priority other wise all other areas of life suffer and pay for it.

So to implement self care this weekend I have done the following things

  • Pampered myself
  • Sat out in the sun
  • Ran
  • Spent time with friends

This way I finish my weekend feeling refreshed and ready to have a productive and joy-filled week. This morning I am going to start off by talking about productivity. Productivity is not only about producing quantity but also quality. How to sit down and start the process of creating a product or a service in x amount of time. In order to produce to our best we need to focus completely on the task stop procrastinating (hey, we all do it).

I’m sure a lot of people have their own way of getting their head down and getting to work. But for those of you that don’t I have a few tips. I am still learning myself. I have 2 children, am studying for a degree, have a house to run and basically a lot of stuff to remember as well as certain things I like to do for myself.

Here are my tips for good productivity

  

  1. Have a specific time for each task. If you are trying to work or write or do something that requires concentration you need to avoid getting distracted by thoughts of cleaning, washing or whatever other things you need to do that day. Create order in your day and follow time slots for specific tasks. That way it is easier to keep your mind on the job in hand.
  2. Lists! I ❤ lists, I have them for everything. It stops my head being in a muddle and just like the point above it helps me to concentrate on what it is I need to be doing at that time. I use the lists app on my iPhone. I have tried others but go back to that one because you can have as many lists as you need. Its easy to organise and I always have it handy. I do however continue to use pen and paper to make lists. It is easy to look at a notepad when you are at home and totally satisfying when you can cross things off.
  3. Create a space for work. If you work from home then you need a space where you can have peace and calm. Away from toys, other people, kids, distractions. You will automatically be able to keep focussed because work is what your mind is used to in that space. I know it’s nice to take the computer up to bed and get comfy but lets be honest that isn’t where the best work is done.
  4. On the same vein, if you are working or creating from home make sure you are getting up and getting dressed. Hanging round in your pjs isn’t conducive to hard work I’m afraid. I know some people who go as far as to have a work uniform although they never leave the house, it puts them in the right frame of mind for work and i’m sure it works. I haven’t gone that far yet. Maybe one day! I just make sure I am dressed and feeling awake.
  5. Work for short periods of time. If something is overwhelming you break it into chunks. I often work in 25 minute bursts then have a 5 minute break (I read this somewhere, i can’t remember where, probably Pinterest). It just works, sitting for hours at a time can make you feel exhausted and you can easily lose concentration.
  6. Go outside when you need a break. 5 minutes walking round the block or just standing outside breathing deeply will refresh you physically and mentally then you can get back to it with a clear head.
  7. Create a workspace that inspires you. Plaster it with motivational quotes, schedules, ideas when they come to you. An oil burner is good, great oils to burn for concentration include lemon, peppermint and rosemary. Put pictures of loved ones up, pictures of people you admire, people who inspire you in your field and make it bright and airy to boost your concentration.

  

I hope this post helps you to boost your productivity. Since I have been doing the above I have just been completely amazed and the things I can achieve in a day or even a few hours.

Please feel free to contact me for advice at imogenjhope@gmail.com and share your own tips in the comments too 🙂 

 Loadsa love! 

 Imogen x

Evening routine

Following on from my post yesterday about creating a weekly routine I want to talk about creating an evening routine. If you work in the day or look after your family then evenings are sacred time. They are your important time for relaxing and regenerating. If you’re tired (I certainly am) then it’s easy to want to spend your evening in front of the TV. I understand that and I do that sometimes too. That’s fine now and then but what I want to suggest is that you also use this time for personal growth, hobbies, socialising, exercise, creating and self care.

What I do first is make a list of 5 or more tasks that I feel I don’t have enough time for, or areas of my life that are getting neglected. My list looks like this

  • Crafting/painting
  • Self care
  • Socialising
  • Quality time for my relationship with my husband
  • Exercise
  • Time spent in nature
  • Reading

Now I work out how to fit this things into my evenings. I choose one per day, it doesn’t have to be rigid, for example if the weather is good I will go for a walk and tick off some time spent in nature. Sometimes I can’t get out for a walk on my own if I am on my own with the kids and I’ll have to work that time into another part of my week. Here’s how a normal week night could work:

At 7:40pm both children are in bed and I have cleared up all the pots and toys from the day. If i can go out I would go straight out for swimming, or to a friends for a cup of tea, out for a meal with friends, or for a short walk down to the river. If I am at home I could get the paints out or make something from my Crafts To Do board on Pinterest. On a Thursday, as I have said before I like to make time to pamper myself a bit (see Pamper evening post). On Wednesdays I make time to watch a film. If Mr.H is around it gives us quality time together which is something we can top up at the weekend. Generally, any one of these activities normally lasts from half an hour to 2 hours, which then gives me time watch something on TV then to read a bit before I go to bed. I very rarely go to bed later than 10:30pm. I would stay up longer and do more if I could but I know that if I do stay up longer I will pay for it in tiredness the next day.

I think everyone knows how much sleep they need and how much they can fit in to an evening. You have to use your intuition to figure out whether you are trying to fit in too much or if you are too tired to do much one evening. My belief is that this time is precious and often overlooked as a time to be productive in your hobbies or socialising. Why not try it for a while and see if you can pull another few hours of activity out of your day? For any more help or advice on creating routines and fitting more into your life then email me at imogenjhope@gmail.com

Much love,

Imogen x

Life Balance

If, like me and many other people I know, you struggle to fit everything into your day, I want you to know that help is out there. There is a way to fit in everything you have to do and all that you want to do. After all I know from experience that it is the things we want that we make time for last. Life is busy, we are all busy. We have families and jobs and commitments and we forget what it is that we love to do. That which makes our soul dance.

For me this was painting. After I left college I didn’t paint for 6 years or so. Through having a family, jobs, my own business for 3 years when I was a nail technician, that part of me got simply forgotten. Brushed under the carpet, by me, in favour of looking after my family and my business.

These things were necessary to do though. As was that period in my life in which now I can look back on and realise that I need to be able to create. To feel whole, to make sure that all the different parts of me are being taken care of.

Yes, I believe that we all need a creative output in our lives to keep our lives balanced. Do you remember what it is that you used to enjoy that you don’t have time for any more? Maybe not even creating, maybe dancing, yoga, bathing, painting your nails, laughing with friends? Well I am here to tell you that there is time, that you can have to energy to do it and so will I!

I have started painting again, now I write, I am studying for a degree, I manage this blog, look after 2 children and a house and I want to do more! I know I can and the way to do it is to plan for it. To plan all my days around what I want to do. To pace yourself and making sure you are fitting in even the smallest section of time to focus on yourself and what you want to do. 

In the coming weeks (after the house move next Thursday) I will be explaining how I can help you achieve this way of balancing your life to fit in everything. 

I hope you enjoy your weekend and make time for yourself even if only a little.

Love Imogen x

Open university

So last week i started my first Open University module on the way to gaining my BA hons degree in English Literature and Creative writing. I am studying part time which equates to 16 hours a week. More on assessment weeks. Sometimes less. My days are already pretty full as you have probably gathered. So the time I spend studying will a lot of the time be at weekends and when necessary, in the evenings. I am the first person to point out when you could possibly be too busy. Have taken too much on or be over-doing things. I have kind of come to think of these extra hours i will be taking on as an equivalent to a part-time job (except i don’t get paid!) so i figure that i can find the hours to do it. Last week i found the time it went quite smoothly over the weekend but it was only a preparatory week. I will see how it goes this week and if i find i am struggling energy or time wise i will have to rethink. It is a big commitment for me as it will take 6 years altogether. I have very rarely stuck to anything for 6 years except for marriage and motherhood! So i had to feel really sure of what it was that i wanted to achieve, why and what i want the outcome to be, i am even more aware of this as i already have one failed degree under my belt. So heres to the next 6 years of gaining knowledge, and hopefully a degree!

Imogen x