WHY I’M TAKING A DAY AWAY FROM THE INTERNET

isaac-benhesed-260758Isaac Benhesed

As you’re reading this, I’ll be well into my 24 hours offline. It probably wasn’t a smart move to decide to do this right at the end of Blogtober, when my posting commitments are still a thing, but I wanted to, and so I’m making it work.

My interest was peaked by this idea while watching another instalment of The Davina Hour. I’ve really been enjoying these conversations, and I think I’ve taken something from each of them. Definitely recommend.

When listening to the conversation about technology addiction, there were a lot of things I couldn’t relate to so much, but I think that’s because I’ve already self-moderated quite considerably.

When I started working from home, and all of my lives combined through one phone and one laptop, I lost all boundaries. For a few months, work overtook everything, and it was only when I took a step back that I saw how it was impacting my personal wellbeing and my relationships.

I switched off notifications for anything work-related, so I wasn’t bothered at all hours of the day. That meant that if you sent me an email, I’d see it when I chose to check my inbox, not when you chose to send it to me. I also banned myself from looking at my phone right before I went to bed and when I woke up in the morning.

Getting this space was hugely beneficial, because suddenly I was doing everything on my time. I was showering and eating and even getting some knitting in, all before work made an appearance, and my sleeping habits improved, too.

I’ve been strict about this ever since, and feel that the boundaries I have are great, and work really well for me.

So when listening to talk of technology addiction, it didn’t really resonate. However, when they spoke about people’s reactions to a digital detox, I was kind of gobsmacked, with one participant claiming that the silence felt like misery.

I always thought that I would love to be without my phone for a day, so I figured I’d just give it a go.

It’s funny though, because I’m having to put thought and preparation into it, knowing that I’ll be without technology. We need to go food shopping, and our list is on Google Keep, so either I need to write it by hand (ugh) or start my detox post-shop. And then I’ve got something to go to tonight, but I’ve not been very well, so if I can’t make it I need to be able to let my friend know. So the detox has to be finished by then.

I’ve already recognised more vividly how much I rely on technology in the few hours since I made the decision to do this, so I’m really intrigued to see how it goes. I’ll be blogging about my experiences after, so I’ll let you know!

See you on the other side…

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MY FAVOURITE HANDMADE KNITS

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I’ve been knitting for the best part of twenty years, on and off, but it’s really only been in the last year that I’ve got into my groove with knitting things that I love. I’m feeling pretty set in my personal style, and I think I know what I like for myself and for my home, so my knits are beginning to encompass that.

There are a few of my knits that really stand out above the rest as ultimate favourites, and the first will probably be no surprise to you at all if you follow my knitting endeavours.

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This is my dream blanket. Seriously, the blanket of my dreams. I thought long and hard about this blanket, resisting the urge to get started on an impulse, until I found the perfect yarn, needle and stitch combination. It’s fascinating to see how allowing the progress to take shape slowly, has resulted in the best thing I’ve ever knit.

This blanket is everything I hoped it would be and more, and Sam and I have spent many a recent evening tucked up together on the sofa, keeping toasty warm and super comfortable without having to fight for a corner! I love it, and I can’t see a time when that will ever change.

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This long sleeve crop jumper was another project that was a long time in the making. I found it really difficult to discover a jumper knitting pattern with this kind of fitted design, so I spent more time searching Ravelry than I think I’d care to admit. All of that hard work paid off, though, when I discovered this perfect design by Lauren Riker.

As with most things in life, I wanted my jumper to be more simple and minimal, so I omitted the cable pattern from the design, and I’m so pleased with the result. The fit is pretty much perfect, and I’ve worn it with jeans, dungarees, trousers and skirts. It’s the kind of thing I expect to live in this winter, and I love it so much I even made it in another colour, too.

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These little dungarees are one of my favourite things to knit, ever! I first made a pair for Amy’s baby, Benjamin, and I was so excited when I received a commission request through Instagram for another pair. I absolutely adore the process of knitting them, though I’m not entirely sure why. They’re made in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino, which is a beautiful yarn, and I love the way that it knits up. Plus, the design is so cute, and that seed stitch detailing has me dishing out all the heart eyes!

As you can see, I’m all about the grey! I’ve got a few more knits in the pipeline, so these favourites might get a bit of a shuffle in the not-too-distant future, but I’ll always love them.

If you like my knits and want to keep up with my woolly endeavours, you can find me at Knits Please, and on Instagram.

WHAT I WANT IN A PLANNER

brooke-cagle-411520Brooke Cagle

I love to be organised. Lists and spreadsheets are my lifeblood, and I’m so much more productive when I keep on top of things. Unfortunately, I’ve never found a planner that really helps with all of that.

I’ve tried traditional diaries, filofaxes and the Daily Greatness Journal. I had some good success with a bullet journal, but it wasn’t long-lasting. I’ve used TeuxDeux and Google Calendar, and a wall calendar, and nothing seems to give me all of the things that I need.

I think my best-case-scenario would be a digital wizard encompassing all of the above in some way or another.

I want to be able to add appointments, but quickly drag and drop them when they get rescheduled.

I want multiple to-do lists for my many different endeavours, again with a drag and drop feature, which I can assign to specific days, and even times, or have on a rolling list.

I want to be able to keep track of things, like exercise habits or books read, in a visual way.

I want to be able to plan for the future, in the short, medium and long term, but I don’t want to have to rewrite everything a million times over.

I want it to look nice, and sleek, and give me flexibility in its views.

I know it might sound like a lot to ask, but is it possible that there’s something like this out there? And if there isn’t, do you think someone would build it? Tell me I’m not the only one who needs something like this!

THE BIGGEST, AND SMALLEST, CHANGE IN MY PRODUCTIVITY

cathryn-lavery-67852Cathryn Lavery

I’ve been very conscious about my productivity lately. I’ve watched countless videos and read many articles with tips and tricks for making the most of your time and being as productive as you can be.

There’s an awful lot of advice out there, and while a lot of it is really useful, and has helped me to do more of what I love, there is one thing that has topped them all. It’s a small thought, but it makes a big difference.

The idea is this; if something will take less than two minutes, do it straight away.

You might have heard it before, or it might not seem like much, but I am telling you that it has changed.my.life.

I can’t explain how much time I’ve wasted by adding every single little item to my to-do list. Drawing a neat square box next to ‘put out the recycling’. Stop. Just put out the recycling!

I’ve been really mindful to incorporate this action into my day-to-day life. I spend a few minutes early in the morning doing all of those little tasks, and it feels incredible! I always feel so productive by 9am because I can mentally tick off a whole load of minor tasks, and they all feel like accomplishments.

It’s also given me more motivation to solve things, instead of letting them fester. Have you ever had a little task on your to-do list forever, which never gets done? I’ve definitely been in that position a lot of times, with things like clothing repairs and subscription cancellations. It always makes me feel bad when I see those unmarked to-do’s, or clothes left unworn because of a missing button. Now that I do those things straight away, my chest is never weighed down by the negativity of something looming, and that experience is wonderful.

I recently spent a few minutes cancelling some unused subscriptions. I’ve had a VIP Fabletics account for years now, and while I love their activewear, I don’t have the money , or the need, to be buying consistently. I’ve been manually skipping every month for the past two years, and I finally decided that enough was enough. A couple of minutes on chat, and my account has been changed and I’ll never have to waste time skipping again, or worry about the money coming out of my bank if I forget!

So, if you’re thinking about what you can do to be more productive, this is the one tip I would suggest you do first. If something takes less than two minutes, do it straight away.

HANDMADE T-SHIRT DRESS

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I actually made this dress a few months ago, with the hope of having something easy to throw on in the summer heat. Sadly, I didn’t wear it more than a couple of times, and I’m certain that it was because of the fit.

This week, I pulled out the sewing machine once more to make some minor adjustments, and I’m much more comfortable in it now.

I bought this jersey material about five years ago, when I decided that I wanted to try my hand at designing my own ath-leisure line. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t go very well, and this fabric had been sat in my stash ever since.

I was initially planning to buy a black t-shirt dress, but while I was de-cluttering my fabrics, I happened upon this and an ideal match was made.

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Instead of buying a sewing pattern for the dress, I followed this tutorial from MYSTYLEDIARYY on YouTube.

I’ve done a fair amount of sewing in my time, so I found the instructions pretty simple to follow, and was able to get the sizing right with some clever guesswork, and the help of an A3 pad of paper as a guide.

I really love the relaxed fit of the dress, and since I’ve taken in the sides at the waistline, I think it has the perfect amount of shaping to not feel like I’m wearing a sack! This will definitely see a lot of love next summer, I’m sure of it, but I’m hoping it’ll also work in the cooler season, layered over a long sleeve top and paired with thick tights and boots.

WHY I STARTED, AND STOPPED, USING A BAMBOO TOOTHBRUSH

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One thing that’s come up time and time again as I’ve learnt more about minimalism, is the concern for plastics and their impact on the environment.

This is something that I certainly feel strongly about. Knowing that every single piece of plastic that passes through my possession has the potential to last basically forever is a pretty staggering thought.

I’m all for taking things at your own pace, so while I’m not ready to go zero waste right now, I wanted to take a few steps away from consuming so much plastic. One of the first things I did was to ensure I carry a reusable stainless steel water bottle wherever I go, and more recently I decided to opt for a bamboo toothbrush.

I toyed with the idea for a while. Some people say bamboo toothbrushes are’t that great, because often the bristles are still made from plastic, but it’s a step in the right direction, right?

After some deliberation, I decided to go for it, given that my existing electric toothbrush was due a new head. I felt pretty good about my decision, and kind of earthly and smug, but to be honest that didn’t last long.

If you’ve never used an electric toothbrush, you probably wouldn’t notice the difference between a bamboo toothbrush and an equivalent one made of plastic. I however, have been using an electric toothbrush for many years now, and a few weeks with my bamboo replacement made a world of difference, and not in a good way.

Yes, I wasn’t contributing more plastic pollution, but my teeth just didn’t feel clean. I’d find myself running my tongue back and forth, painfully aware of how gritty the back of my teeth felt. I did everything I could to brush more vigorously and make sure I got into all the nooks and crannies, but it just didn’t work.

So I decided to put my needs first in this situation, and ditch the bamboo. I feel a bit guilty about it, because it’s all of those small decisions that add up to make a difference, but I decided that my own oral hygiene should take a higher priority in the long-run.

If you can get on board with a bamboo toothbrush, all power to you, but if not, don’t worry. We’ve got to live with the choices we make, so be sure to do what’s right for you first and foremost. And that advice can apply to pretty much anything, so take it on board and give yourself a break!

HOW I’VE CURBED MY IMPULSE BUYING

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Photo Sarah Dorweiler

It’s only with hindsight that I can see that I used to be an impulse buyer. I still have the tendencies today, but I can manage those feelings much better now, and I have a healthier bank balance to show for it.

I didn’t specifically decide that I wanted to stop impulse buying, because I didn’t really know that I was doing it, but in my efforts to save more money generally, I’ve been able to address what I realise now was holding me back in a lot of ways.

During the process of de-cluttering my wardrobe, I started to become aware of gaps that I hadn’t noticed before, and my immediate instinct was to fill them. For a while I did, but I can see items in my wardrobe today, that I only bought in the past few months, that I know I could do without, and that’s the opposite of how I want things to be.

There are a few practices that I’ve started putting into place, that have helped me to reduce my impulse buying, because, let’s face it, nobody’s perfect and I don’t resist 100% of the time!

The first thing I do is to wait it out. Whether that’s walking a lap around the shopping centre before buying some lunch when I know I have something, albeit less interesting, at home, or waiting a few hours before I look something up online, taking some time out can change my perspective. Sometimes that’s all it takes for me to realise that £7 on sandwich and cake isn’t the most important thing to me.

Then, I give myself the chance to shop. Usually I do this online, because actually being in the shops is often when I pick something up, just for the sake of it. Here I’ll browse my favourite sites, and add the things I’m craving to my basket. I still try to be mindful of the things I choose to put in my basket, but I know at the end of my browsing that I’m just going to leave the items there. No checking out for me!

If there’s something that I’m still thinking about after this, I’ll add it to my wishlist. I’ve got a secret board on Pinterest where I save the things that I’m interested in buying. It’s intriguing to revisit it over time, as I add more items, and see which ones I’m no longer interested in. That’s most of them, by the way.

The few things that continue to stick out include a new pair of Nike trainers, and some black Levi’s jeans. Both are items that I’ve wanted for ages, and after thinking about them for so long, I’ve become more logical about them. They would both be useful items in my wardrobe, replacing old or ill-fitting things that I currently own, but I’m aware now that I can get by with what I’ve got. Until the point when I can’t, these items can stay on my wishlist, giving me something to look forward to.

I also take the time to appreciate what I’ve got. A lot of the things that I want to buy are items that better fit my personal style as it has evolved. Wardrobes and workout clothes that are more representative of me seem to be top of the list. But after pining for new things for a while, I made a conscious decision to change my attitude. Instead of thinking about the beautiful clean white drawers that I didn’t have, I decided to be grateful for the storage that I do have, which is ample for everything I own.

There’s no science to it, but by making an effort to change my habits, and the way I think about things, I’ve been able to curb my impulse shopping quite dramatically. Now, I’ve got a good amount of money saved up for our house, and we’ve just booked our holiday to America next year!