How To Make Effective To-Do Lists (That You Will Tick Off!)

Writing daily to-do lists has completely changed the way I approach productivity, and I don’t know where I would be without my handy lists. After 4-5 years of consistently using this method, I have found my own preferred way to write to-do lists. Now, it might sound stupidly obvious: just write down what you need to get done. But to prevent feeling overwhelmed, you have establish a good to-do list writing method. In this post I’ll be sharing my top tips to creating to-do lists that you will actually complete. 

Write a Huge Master To-Do List

Let us first establish everything you need to do. Absolutely everything: short term, long term, even tasks with no timeline. Empty all of the things you need to get done out of your brain and into a digital Notes app: such as the one that comes free with iPhone. This might take a long time, but believe me, we’ll create direction to them later.

Draw Out a Week at a Glance

I do this in my bullet journal, on to spreads that look like this. Just a box every day for seven days. Now, this is where you master to-do list comes in, write down the time limited tasks into the appropriate boxes. So if you have an assignment due on Wednesday, but ‘submit assignment’ into your box allocated to Wednesday. Also make sure you do this timetabling in a place that you will reference and look at throughout the week. There is no point writing it in a bullet journal is that notebook stays shut on your desk all week. Whatever works for you, plan there. And it doesn’t have to be fancy! 

And also, once writing time limited tasks into your boxes, remove them or tick them off your master to-do list.

Work Backwards 

You have put all of your tasks-with-deadlines in the correct boxes. Now, work backwards one task at a time. You may have put ‘submit assessment’ on Saturday, for example, so work backwards. Monday you finish off research, Tuesday you begin writing, get it all finished my Thursday, proofread on Friday and make sure you’re at the correct word count, submit on Saturday. This breaks down your bigger tasks and ensures you don’t ‘forget’ about your deadline. I recommend this method to absolutely anyone and it’s so helpful with studying in particular. 

Put One Smaller Task Per Day

On your fat master to-do list you might actually have small tasks that will only take less than an hour. Allocate one of these tasks each day. Don’t get too ambitious, because throughout the week you’ll be adding to the list as life goes on – you know. At the end of the week that’s still 7 little tasks completed! 

Put One Bigger Task Per Day

Along with that, put one big task per day. Such as the example we previously discussed: starting to write an assignment! That’s a big task (in my eyes anyway) so prioritise that on your list. Sadly, life means we can’t just do one ‘big’ thing per day. We have to do more. But in your forward planning, just put one thing down. You’ll add to it.

An Enjoyable Task

Try to enjoy every little thing you do, of course! However, at the end of a hard day’s work, treat yourself to something you can do for you. AND PUT THIS ON YOUR LIST. Because self-care hands itself to productivity, and prevents overworking and burn out. I, for example, might put ‘watch Torchwood and bullet journal’. Something I enjoy. I don’t force myself to put a ‘fun’ task on my list everyday, because that would completely destroy the idea of it being ‘fun’. You could put something as broad as ‘me time’ as a check box, and do whatever you feel like that day. That could mean half an hour on Instagram scrolling (allow yourself that if you enjoy it). 

Exercise

You’re really supposed to exercise everyday, but putting it on my to-do list makes it feel like an extra little win.

Weekly Tasks

Finally, go over your master to-do list again to look at tasks that you need to get done before the week is out but on no specific date. Perhaps make a separate box for this on your timetable!

Throughout this post I have said ‘you will add to it’. The model I have explained in this post is for a week in advance. Weekly planning is so much more efficient than daily. However, tasks will come up day to day that you need to add to your list. You might be set something on Tuesday due on Wednesday. Of course add this to your list. That’s why you should never bombard yourself with too many tasks at the start of the week, because things will crop up. 

I really hope I explained myself well here, although it is hard to show weekly planning through writing. It’s not that complicated – but through words it makes itself out to be! 

There will be other tasks that don’t fit within these categories or maybe there are too many big tasks to put for one week! They can be allocated to the next week. Or you can do them when you get free time throughout the week. Keep this master to-do list so you can use it for the next week’s weekly planning session. You might have more time that week than the week before! Flexibility is key. Too much structure is hard to stick with, too little means you get nothing done. Balance and flexibility are key to productivity 🙂 

(ooh, I just made that phrase up myself but I kinda like it ;))

What’s on your to-do list today? How are you going to get it done?

And if your to-do list just looks like: wake up, shower and eat food that should not be invalidated. You’re doing so well. Don’t allow hustle culture to make your day seem ‘less productive’ just because you aren’t moving at a million miles per hour. 

I shared this on my Instagram stories a few weeks ago: ‘productivity is making the most out of a given situation’. Are you feeling ill? Rest. That’s productive, because you’re making the right decision in that given situation. If you forced yourself to work when you were feeling ill, you’ll not only tire yourself out but probably produce something you’re not happy with and have to do it all over again. 

Productivity is relative. Do what is best for you.

Catherine x

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5 Easy Ways You Can Be An Organised Blogger

Welcome to blogmas day 15, today on the subject of productivity.

I am a student and blogger, and with those things come many responsibilities. Beside my side-hustle and studying, I am part of a GirlGuiding unit and I also take cello lessons. But most importantly of all – I’m human! You might be wondering how I juggle it all. Later on this week I will be sharing another installation of my Chats With Cath series. In that post I will be going into more detail about how I’ve pushed out 1 blog post a day, and the stress of December. At this time of the year I love to address the notion of self-care. It’s important all year round, of course, yet when things get the most hectic is when we need to be the most mindful about how we look after ourselves.

This post includes 5 ways I stay organised as a blogger. Hopefully you can use my tips to make you more time efficient, and therefore being able to carve out more time for yourself, friends and family.

Keeping a list of post ideas

Keeping a list of blog posts ideas you get on the go is really handy, especially when you come to the keyboard not knowing what to write. I have a list in my Notes that I add to every now and then. Once the ideas have formed, I add them into a calendar. My three content buckets are sustainability, wellness and lifestyle. I don’t like to clump posts of the same niche together. Seeing my posts a month at a glance allows me to spread out the different ‘type’ of posts – so that you come to my blog seeing a range of writing. It’s also refreshing for me to write in different styles!

Drafting Instagram posts

Thank you Instagram for this marvellous feature. I will right my captions in Notes first, then copy and paste into an Instagram draft so it’s all ready to go. Instagram drafts allow you to add the location, tag people and select the chosen photos all at once. When it comes to your posting time you just hit publish, paste the hashtags in the comments, then you’re all good to go! 

Google Calendar

I set reminders with the title of each blog post and when it goes live. This way I know what to write in the correlating Instagram post. But, most importantly, my calendar reminds me what to write and when for! When I’m doing IRL school, Google Calendar is helpful. Otherwise I get so lost in school work that I forget I have a blog… (I’m not joking)

Spending half and hour doing blog related admin everyday

30 minutes goes a long way! I shared in my Cosy Night Routine post (please read it here if you haven’t already) that I enjoy doing this in the evening. Depending on the day I’ll either respond to emails, reply to comments, read your posts or reply to DMs. Ideally I would get all of them done but I just leave it up to future me. 

Master to-do lists

Every weekend I make the most mammoth to-do list with every thing playing on my mind that I know I need to complete. From this long list, I can divide the tasks up depending on urgency. Then they will be allotted a certain day in the week for me to get it done. This way of weekly planning I find keeps me on track. If you have any time to spare, you may want to take a look at Holly Gabrielle’s video on weekly planning because I use the same method as her. It is much easier to explain through dialogue than typed words! I’ll link it here for those curious.


Hopefully you will find these tips applicable to your current blogging ‘routine’. Everyone is different so these tips may not work for you, but I hope you can mould and adapt them to fit your lifestyle. 

What apps do you use on a daily basis?

I’ve seen Notion flying around a bit lately! I’d love to know what apps you use regularly. You might see me try them out in a future post 😉 Please leave some suggestions so I can make that post happen for you.

Have a very happy Tuesday!

Catherine x

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THE Top 5 Things You Can Do The Night Before A Productive Morning

If you’ve clicked on this post, it’s probably because you want to either wake up earlier, be productive in the mornings, or both.

And if that is the case this post probably isn’t the first ‘how to have a good morning routine’ you’ve ever read.

Therefore you will be familiar with the phrase that a ‘good morning starts the night before.’ Although that phrase gets on your nerves for the amount of times it is repeated… it is so true.

In today’s blog post I will be outlining 5 things you can do the night before a productive morning.

Enjoy!

1) Set Out Clothes

This practise is drilled into me. I have been doing it for at least four years, and it helps reduce the friction between waking up at getting ready. Along with the clothes I have picked out for the following day, I also lay down my deodrant, underwear, and watch/accessories. If I plan to have a shower the following morning, I will put out my body cream too. The idea is, when you wake up, you can easily get changed or if you’re a morning shower person – take the pile of clothes into the bathroom. Honestly, once you start doing it your mornings will run much smoother.

2) Go To Bed Earlier

Easier said than done – so I think I’ll have to do a whole blog post about this one. Going to bed earlier energises you. Beds are for sleeping in! Don’t cut that precious sleep time just to wake up earlier. Even if you don’t want to wake up earlier, getting an extra hour or two sleep will allow for your morning to be productive. Running low on sleep does not hand itself well to productivity.

3) Write Your To-Do List

I know some people write their to-do lists in the morning, and this is great. However, writing them the night before is the real turning point. 

Before you go to bed you can order your priorities clearer than first thing in the morning. 

If I ever were to write my to-do list in the morning, I’d probably be rushing to write it so I can just get started and not waste any precious time.

Don’t rush it; do it the night before. Try forward-planning so you don’t overwhelm yourself with a huge list. To-do lists are made to work to your advantage. By taking some extra time, you can really maximise the benefits of a tick list.

(I will write a post about how to create the perfect to-do list)

4) Put Your Alarm On The Other Side Of The Room

I used to think this was bullshit advice. Because I’d wake up, walk over to turn off my alarm, the walk back into bed again. I still do that now! But I do recommend putting your alarm on the other side of the room. This works well for someone with a big room, because there’s more of a walk to turn it off. Whereas for my room there’s one step between the end of my bed and the other side of the room. 

I put my alarm somewhere that I have to get up to walk over to. Nowadays I’m only snoozing once before I get up. It’s not perfect, but we’re getting there.

5) Understand The Routine You Will Follow The Next Morning

No point saying you’ll have a productive morning without knowing what you’re going to do! Think about what you need to do before you start working: breakfast, skincare, get changed… This is different for everyone although don’t skip breakfast. PLEASE! 

Work out an order for those tasks and drill it into your head. Or, if it helps, write it down. Then, the following morning, you’ll know just what you need to do and when so it takes less brain power. The more you follow this ‘ideal routine’ the easier it will become – and you’ll just be on autopilot.

I hope this advice helps you to navigate your mornings better, and allows them to run more smoothly. Let me know which tips you’re going to implement right away! As I said, I will write a post about creating a perfect to-do list and how to go to bed earlier. I think those points deserve a little more explanation. 

What do you like to do before bed every night?

I enjoy washing my face and following my skincare routine. My brain subconsciously knows that when I take my makeup off, the day is over and it’s time to sleep (or read for an awfully long time). 

Have a lovely day,

Catherine x

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10 Ways To Prepare For Back To School 2020 | Refresh, Revive and Rethink

The new school year. A fresh start. The final few months of the last academic year fell to pieces, so having this new chance is very exciting! Although it will be scary, re-entering school after 6 months away from it, I am remaining positive. These are 10 simple things you should do before heading into the new school year to help you feel refreshed and ready. Some are more simple than others! Even if you’re not going into education this September/Autumn time, it’s always worth detoxing before a new month begins. Hope you enjoy!

1. Clear out your camera roll

I would like to say I stay on top of this, but I honestly don’t. There is so much random stuff that builds up in my camera roll, both on my iPad and phone. Sorting through this and filing it into albums takes a lot of time but seeing it cluttered stresses me out even more. Put on some tunes and set to it. You’ll feel much better afterwards.

2. Set up your bullet journal/planner for September

Setting up a new month in your planner is such a theraputic process. Translating all the random sticky notes into one place lifts a weight off your shoulders. When it’s just a month I am planning, I can go into detail which is very helpful. I highly recommend this, especially if you are starting back in September!

3. Write in all the events and tasks in your annual calendar 

I don’t know about you, but there are some things going on in months to come that I need to jot down (because by the time that month has arrived, I will have forgotten). I have a calendar up on my wall that I like to add all of my events too. It’s similar to what you might do at the start of January! An academic year is a new year too – remember?

4. Plan meal ideas

Quite a lot of us take packed lunches or some sort of transportable meal to work. To avoid last minute ‘unhealthy’ choices, write down a few ideas of things to put in your lunch box. Eg. hummus and salad wrap, vegetarian chilli, leftover pie from the previous night. This saves time and energy when it comes to making your lunch in the morning/night before!

5. Get in touch with friends

I hope you’ve been doing this already! Text your friends, maybe go deeper and ask them how they feel about the new academic year. Most of my friends are anxious, so I do my best to reassure them that everything will be okay. Just check in with them, and maybe help each other out with revision.

6. Make sure your schoolbag is ready

I love doing this! Sharpening pencils, washing out last years pencil case, cleaning my bag. Maybe putting in new organisation systems for the new year! For example, last year I bundled all subjects into one big folder, but this year I will separate them. Find out what works for you.

7. Revise last year’s material

This doesn’t have to be an intimidating thing to complete. I didn’t take my books home this year, because we had to leave because of coronavirus (unannounced!!!). However, I’m going to a new school so I doubt my old things will be that useful. Still, I’ve been revising French and a bit of maths. If you have your books, read through them. To take it a step further, answer questions related to the subjects your struggle with (for me that’s index notation).

8. Sort out your damn sleep schedule

You admit your sleep schedule has been a bit haywire in lockdown! So get it sorted. Two weeks before starting back is ideal, but I’ve not done that. A week before school begins is slightly more reasonable! Wake up at the time you would need to for work.

9. Make your workspace an ideal place to study

Some of you have online school, meaning this is crucial. I would highly recommend watching Ruby Granger’s video on how to make the perfect workspace (linked here). I will be making a variation of this video in a blog format soon, I hope! I’m returning to school full time in September, but I’ll still have masses of homework to complete on my desk at home. That’s why I set mine up with a cute vision board beside it – full of my goals and aspirations. That helps me stay on track with my studying, so then I have in mind what I’m working for.

This desk drawer needs some attention!

10. Do nothing 

It sounds counter-productive, but doing nothing is the best way to refresh and recharge. After a few days of doing nothing (whatever nothing means to you) you’ll become so bored that you can’t wait to hurtle into tasks again. I also find my best creative ideas come while I am on a break!

I hope, through completing this mini checklist, you feel ready to conquer the next academic year! Let’s try our hardest, fall on our backsides, then pick each other up again and keep going. This year is so different to anything I’ve experienced before. But different doesn’t mean bad. Through lockdown I feel that I have changed a lot, for the better (I hope). And no doubt this coming year will see a lot of personal growth too. I am so excited for you, and us!

What are your goals for September/the coming school year?

Sending you all the best,

catherine x

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How I Avoid Instagram Consumerism | 5 Ways To Spend Less In 2020

This will be a long post, so let’s just get straight into it!

What Is Instagram Consumerism?

This is a term I think I made up myself, but it could well be used elsewhere. Instagram consumerism, in my eyes, is the way Instagram affects how/when/where you buy your products. It is especially prominent in the influencer space, more specifically, brand deals and collabs. However there is also pressure around all of social media to wear a different outfit every day. This first harms our mindset towards clothing, and leads to consequences of buying more clothing to adhere to the expectation. 

Why Is It Bad?

First and foremost, the easiest ways to purchase clothing is via fast fashion brands. That is a problem in itself, which my friend Ava did an amazing guest post about on my blog. Secondly, the most advertised clothing on Instagram is fast fashion. To those who are not educated on the subject, it’s easy to fall into the trap of fast fashion.

Before we go ahead, I’d like to add a disclaimer: not everyone can afford sustainable fashion. It disappoints me that less advantaged families have to buy from fast fashion brand without choice. If you are included within that bracket, please do not feel pressure from me. You do not need to switch to sustainable fashion if you can’t afford it.

However, so many people with enough money to buy slow fashion decide to still go for the fast fashion option. That disappoints me beyond belief. Seeing influencers on YouTube with millions of subscribers do a Primark haul that gets over 500k views is scary. Unless they’re putting the revenue from that video towards charities that help garment workers in Bangladesh (where Primark’s clothes are made), I’m not going to support it. I’m scared because they have power, they own the label ‘influencer’ for a reason. They influence those people who watch the video to buy fast fashion. 500k views. That has an impact. 

How Do I Avoid Instagram Consumerism?

Now to the main part of this post. This section goes for any product you see promoted on Instagram, or YouTube. Not just clothing! 

1) Read The Facts

If you see a book on Instagram, made from paper that is not FSC approved, look into how harmful that can be for the planet. Read information on deforestation, learn about why you should just buy second hand. Even better, an independent book store. Although they are expensive, they have plummeted into financial decline since the Covid-19 outbreak (like many other businesses). Support small. Rather than just buy on a whim, wait a few days. Find other buying options.

2) The Influencer Is Only Going To Hype The Brand Up, They Would Never Advertise a Product They Do Not Like

Okay, so this is an obvious one. If an influencer has been sent a gifted item that they do not like, they wouldn’t post it on their Instagram. It’s gifted, they’re not paid for it. They might send a critical review back to the seller by email, but they wouldn’t share it with their audience. Next time you see a gifted item on someone’s feed, remember that everyone is different. Just because they love it, doesn’t mean you will. Plus, this influencer didn’t buy it with their own money. Everyone loves free things! They might not have bought it if it weren’t free. 

3) Make a Wishlist

Make a wishlist of all the physical items you desire in life (a book, a cactus and a blanket are on mine). Next time you want to buy something from an advertisement, glance back at your wishlist. Do you really want to spend your money on this, or should you put it towards something you have wanted for a while? If you decide you really love the advertised product on Instagram, write it on your wishlist. Come back a few days later and rethink. Do you still want this?

4) Did You Want This a Few Weeks Ago?

This is similar to the wish list idea. At the moment, razors have been gifted to a ton of creators in my Instagram feed. They’re cute, pink and, for some people, essential. Did you need a new razor a few weeks ago? Do you need a razor now? Probably not, because you already have one. Wait until you need a new razor before buying a new one! Don’t just buy one now, and then not get full use out of your old one. That’s wasteful.

5) What Purpose Does It Serve?

Book = happiness, education. Cactus = room decor. Blanket = keeps me cosy in the evenings. Everything serves a purpose. Some, however, will be more important than others. List out, either on paper or in your brain, the purposes your desired product serves. This simple practise will define what you should be spending your money on.

That’s it for today’s post! It was a little all over the place, wasn’t it? Hope you all don’t mind. Don’t forget that this post is a part of my series The Plastic Plan. It’s ongoing series, where every Friday either myself or a guest writer blogs about climate change, fast fashion and plastic. If you’re interested in educating yourself on those very important subjects, please do head over to The Plastic Plan category on my blog!

Let me know in the comments which tip you found most useful! 

What was the last thing you bought after seeing it on social media?

catherine x

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