Less Stress And More Productivity In Five Easy Steps

14 September 2017

A feeling (an unwelcome, this-ain't-fun feeling) I get on pretty much a daily basis is that my mind is overloaded with 'things', of an important nature and an unimportant nature and everything else in between. I have a thousand thoughts a minute, to the point where I wonder if the person sitting next to me on the tube can physically hear the cogs whirring round inside my brain. And I wouldn't be surprised if you can relate, too - we live in a fast-paced society where everyone's REALLY, REALLY BUSY and sometimes it's just... a bit much.

The other day, I properly thought about the fact that I never do just one thing at one time. You might be thinking, "yeah that's this pretty common thing called multi-tasking Meg, people have been doing it for quite a while", but I mean more in the sense that I genuinely can't make it through 30 minutes of Gavin & Stacey without also being on my phone for a good three-quarters of the episode. It's 10pm and I've worked all day and I should be winding down and it's my time to chill but there I am: arranging meetings with PRs, refreshing Instagram, replying to DMs from viewers, pausing the program to listen to a WhatsApp voice note, checking my emails. Goodbye chuckling away at Bryn and Nessa, hello insomnia and the realisation that I've trained myself to constantly be doing something.

It's like I've started viewing relaxing as a 'waste of time' wherein I could be doing something, which is totally untrue because everyone needs their downtime. Maybe it's that I follow an endless amount of absolute girl-bosses who seem to be on their grind 24/7, maybe it's a decreased attention span (thanks a lot, Vine) or maybe it's knowing that my chronic illness means I have to make up for lost time wherever possible, but what I do know to be true is that self-care is super important.

With that being said, I've been taking 'steps to stop simultaneously slogging' (say that five times fast) and you know what? My mind feels clearer, a weight has been lifted and I've actually gotten more done, not less. Hope this helps any fellow overthinkers out there who's brain has too many tabs open!

1. Remove distractions so even if you're tempted, you're kinda forced to just... not. Let me follow up that crappy explanation with an example: if your phone is an entirely different room, when your mind inevitably starts to wander when you're meant to concentrating and you automatically reach for it, guess what, it ain't in arms reach any longer! It means I actually crack on with the blog post I've been meaning to write rather than check the #cheesewheel hashtag on Instagram instead, therefore increasing productivity and decreasing my intense cheese cravings. "One cannot scroll if the device on which thou scrolls upon is absent" - Meg Says, 2017.

2. Don't begin a new task until you've started and completed an existing oneThis tip is the one I've found most helpful because I'm a real floozy when it comes to my to-do list - I'll be halfway through editing a vlog for my second channel then my brain will ping! me ten times in a row with other chores that need doing and before I know it I've abandoned said vlog in an attempt to do ten entirely different things, all at once of course. Pick a job, give it your all so you know you've done it properly and to the best of your ability, tick it off, pick a new job, repeat. I've also found that this method reduces human error too, e.g. failing to attach your invoice in a solely 'just sending my invoice over' email AND signing off with 'Best wishes, Meh' due to flying through your inbox/simultaneous slogging. 

3. Break up your day in whichever way you find best. Personally I like a good hour by hour system, so in the morning when I'm finalising my to-do list for the day I'll add timings next to the tasks - e.g. where I'd normally write 'do emails', I now write 'do emails (9-10am)'. It can seem incredibly tedious to have your whole day planned out, but I've gotten busier lately and need my days to be as productive as possible. I even sometimes set an alarm on my phone, and find this stops me from absentmindedly opening another tab (usually Tyler Oakley's Tumblr) because there's just something about a time limit that stops faffing!

4. Change your environment whenever possible! I know you may be reading this and thinking, 'that's easy for you to say, you're a blogger with no set hours and the ability to work anywhere you like', but I'm not a central-London dweller who's surrounded by inspiration and interesting people all day - I live out in the countryside (nobody will even deliver takeaways here) with zero transport and sometimes working from home can get really lonely and lead to feelings of isolation. Recently I got my own car - vlog here - and even just the thought of being able to drive to a little café to write in rather than sitting on my sofa lifted my spirits. A change is as good as a rest as they say, and it can be a little change also - decluttering the drawers in your desk, finding a new place to get lunch, chatting with a colleague you haven't met before in the break-room or adding a print to the wall of your office.

5. Chill out, and I mean properly chill out - forget being half in relaxation-mode and half in job-mode, why do either if you're only giving fifty per cent to each? We're talking one hundred per cent relaxation, people! My favourite way to do this is have a bath in the evening as it signals the end of my day and gives me the chance to properly unwind before hitting the day. At the moment I'm loving the Zoella Beauty Sweet Inspirations range, in particular the Bath Milk for frothy bubbles and the Sugar Dip for silky water, and I also pop my laptop on top of the toilet seat to watch some Netflix. Slightly risky, but I've dropped too many books into the water to count and if I don't have something to do, I'd twiddle my thumbs for about two minutes before hopping out to watch Riverdale in bed.

Meditation is another thing I'd highly recommend as you can do it anytime anywhere and it's amazing at centring you in the moment (slightly pretentious turn of phrase I know, but it's the best way I can describe how it makes me feel!) when everything around you feels rushed and you just need to like, chill for a sec.* Check out Andrew Johnson in the App Store or the book Calm - both have helped me hugely and are perfect for beginners. Happy relaxing!

*If you know what film this is from, please be my best friend for ever and ever.

Jumper | Rings | Cushion | Throw | Zoella Lifestyle
Photos by Megan Duffield Photography

Three Slogan Sweatshirts You Need In Your Life Right Now

31 August 2017

Haven't slogan t-shirts and sweatshirts just made SUCH a comeback recently? They never really went away, but I guess we were pretty preoccupied with those iconic Topshop embroidered swallow Fred Perry-esque tees (who remembers pairing one of those badboys with a huge Primark pearl necklace for their Bebo profile pic) and then it was all about the plain and simple cropped until the slogan took centre stage again.

With everything from Gucci-inspired washed logo numbers to retro vintage pieces, we've got the ability to emblazon our chests with an unlimited amount of words through which you can say as much or as little as you'd like. You can let the world know that you're a feminist (and that everyone else should be, too), that you're a true 90s kid or remind yourself that you're much more worthy than you often realise.

The first of the bunch comes from good old New Look courtesy of their millennial pink Actually I Can jumper which immediately makes me think of that amazingly inspirational scene in Legally Blonde where Elle has completely had enough of everyone underestimating her and 'Watch Me Shine' by Joanna Pacitti plays. You can find it herehere and here and I pinky promise there's just something about that motivational quote that makes you think, 'you know what... yeah, I actually can', and it's quite the gamechanger.

Never having been to New York City (I know right, call yourself a blogger, Meg) I can't say I 100% relate to this slogan in the same way I relate to the 'gal needs a kick up the bum to realise she's not totally awful at everything she does' way I do to the first jumper, but I love everything from the soft colour to the relaxed shape to the casual hem to the silvery-lilac embroidery of the lettering. Find it at Topshop here, and pair it with equally casual high-waisted jeans like the ASOS Farleigh and an 80s-inspired matching jacket like this one.

This jumper spoke loudly as 'sisterhood' to me isn't just about my close-knit group of gal pals, it's about supporting anyone and everyone that you believe in; it's about drag queens you admire and your best friend who happens to be a lesbian and underrated bloggers who don't get the opportunities they deserve because of their skin colour or their weight. It reminds me that we're all in this together and that you rise by lifting others.

Four Types Of Friend We All Need In Our Lives

2 August 2017

- Sponsored Content - 

If you stopped a stranger on the street and asked, "in life, what are the three most important aspects to you?" I'd bet my bottom dollar that most, if not all, would include 'my friends' in that list. True, proper friendship is one of those invaluable cling-onto-it-with-all-your-might things that can bring endless happiness and we simply cannot live without. There's a reason why we hold it dear, continuously re-watch ten seasons of a program that's solely about the close bond between six NYC-dwellers and display the affinity with our BFF to the world proudly on our wrists. I've always loved the idea of friendship bracelets since I was little - that one person who gets to wear the 'best' to your 'friend' on two halves of a loveheart broken down the middle who's your absolute ride or die (yep, even in Year Two).

Years later now that I'm a proper official adult (my recent Netflix history of Matilda followed by Jumanji then Spy Kids might tell you differently but I'm 23, pinky promise) I still adore the notion of friendship bracelets, but no longer have just one best pal like I did in primary school. Links Of London have come to my aid in a fabulous way on this one with the reinterpretation of their iconic Sweetie Collection, of which the Sweetie Sterling Silver Charm Bracelet is my favourite. The signature bracelet itself is so classic, timeless and universal that it's the perfect friendship bracelet for everyone in your girl gang, and the genius part comes into play with the personalisation aspect as each individual can express themselves by adding charms that reflect their personality.

Having a circle of amazing friends rather than one solitary BFF is a wonderful thing as you gain something unique from each of them, and I love how there's a Links Of London charm that represents everyone. Here's four kinds of friend that you absolutely need by your side!

The Gryffindor - everyone needs that friend who's moral compass is on point and has your back no matter what. They're fiercely loyal and that's why they mean so much to you - your alliance with each other is unbreakable and their courage helps you to live more boldly and bravely, too. Whether it's being the final pair getting cheesy chips at the end of the evening or helping one another through tough times when everything else seems to be falling apart, you know you can turn to them. They're a true good egg and inspire you to be just as fab of a friend to them in return! As for charms, they'd love the Compass, Globe or Birdcage.

The Hufflepuff - whenever you think of them you can't help but smile and think, 'GOOD TIMES'. The most genuine and friendly person you'll ever meet, a laugh is never far away with this feel-good buddy and it's always a my-tummy-hurts-and-I-might-wee-a-little-bit laugh and all! With the patience of a saint and a naturally positive disposition, their sunny attitude can brighten the darkest day and you're constantly inspired by their dedication to being as hardworking, dependable and kind as possible. Why not treat them to a charm? They deserve a ButtercupBee or Beehive.

The Ravenclaw - is there anyone better at giving advice than this wise owl?! Whether you're thinking of changing career paths, you've broken up with your boyfriend or you're having trouble deciding on your degree choice, they're the first pal you turn to in a crisis because they're always there with a shoulder to cry on and the most top notch logical advice ever. They're impossibly clever and sharp meaning their sarcastic humour and witty one-liners have you cracking up non-stop and it's a real pleasure to be friends with someone so creative and original. The Feather, Moon and Key charms are right up their street.

The Slytherin - a born leader, we can all benefit from having a friend as ambitious and independent as this. "A bit of spinach from your salad is stuck in your teeth", "the little black dress, definitely", "you're way too good for him, babe" - they tell it like it is without any sugar-coating which is often exactly what you need and you know you can rely on them for an 100% honest opinion. You admire their strong work ethic, their ability to be assertive and confident in any situation and the way they're truly themselves - whether everyone else likes it or not! Their perfect charms? The Evil Eye, Snake and Locket.

All unique and special in an endless amount of ways, we love each of our friends dearly and let's face it - where would we be without 'em? Answer: miserably crying into our pizza because we a) feel pretty darn lonely, and b) we know that our mates would let us swap a slice of ours for a slice of theirs and more pizza options = a happier life.

P.S. check out my beautiful blogging pals Ellie, Sabrina and Jess!

This post is sponsored by Links Of London. All opinions and words are 100% my own and honest. No affiliate links have been used. For more information, please see my disclaimer here

Long Time, No Blog

27 July 2017

So, I'm in Italy! When my flatmate (and soon to become boyfriend) Will introduced me to his best friend Zack around five years ago, I never expected that his Italian family home which has been passed down from generation to generation would become one of my 'happy places' in life, a place where I feel so relaxed and content and completely at ease. My current situation as I type is one consisting of a bikini (paired with my mum's tie-dye sarong from the 80s which may displease Regina George but I am in LOVE with), an empty house (everyone has gone to the local water park but I was feeling those classic chronic illness 'you're overdoing it' warning signs so I'm holding down the fort instead) and a very kind and patient Italian handyman (whose name begins with T and is far nicer said in his accent than me attempting to spell it here). The only sounds I can hear are the hum of the refrigerator full of Birra Moretti, birds chirping as they flit between the orange trees in the garden and the fast-paced tap of my fingertips on the keyboard.

The electricity is down - hence the arrival of the electrician... let's call him T - and my plans for the day have been scuppered slightly. Despite working a crazy amount recently (we're talking 6am wake-up times, still being sat at my desk at 11pm and moving to my bed to continue slogging away at my laptop until 3am) I'm still not on top of my to-do list and have taken on jobs with brands whilst on holiday, so I thought today could be a double whammy: catch up on rest after travelling (and the most stressful start to a break imaginable) and catch up on that arm-length to-do list whilst everyone else is out. After tracking down then uncoupling multiple travel adapters from their hair straightener and phone charger mates and realising that not only were they all not working but even the light switches were unresponsive, I'm now sat half in shade and half in sunshine on the veranda typing this blog post out on Pages on my rather warm and probably overheating MacBook.

I've been wanting/needing to write this post for a really long time and a reason why I 'can't' has never been far away - I've got way too much work to do, my plate is already full as it is, I'm not feeling well, what if nobody understands, I don't even know what to say anyway.

I definitely benefit from being 'forced' into this kind of situation: no wifi, no excuses and no people (except T, who is quietly sorting out the electricity that he installed in this very house himself years ago). Forced to be alone with my thoughts and forced to try and untangle them from the big mess they've woven themselves into in my head. I'm a classic over-thinker and it manifests itself in my life as this ugly 'thing' that only serves to cause problems where there are none, induce anxiety where there really needn't be any and ultimately, hold me back from doing what I actually want to do.

And so, unsure of how to tackle it but with the best intentions of doing just that, I'm on a mission to be braver and bolder. For a really long time I've felt like time is slipping through my fingers, like scooping up wet sand on the beach as a child and trying to keep those two-handfuls worth cupped in your palms but not being able to, and I'd be lying if I said that it doesn't scare me when I look at the pages of long-gone empty weeks in my diary. I know that's mostly down to chronic illness, but I also know that the remainder of the fault lies in my brain and its tendency to doubt myself beyond all reason.

'How do I move forward from here?' is something I often ask myself, and I've decided that the answer needs to be 'by doing whatever you need to do, with whatever you've got, right now'. Physical and mental health does always come first, but going six months without blogging brings two un's to mind: unacceptable and unhappy. It doesn't sit right with me in the slightest that I've left it this long, and it also makes me sad. When I'm working I'm my best self and feel fulfilled, creative, joyful - it's only when that voice in the back of my head that relentlessly tells me 'why even try?' takes over that I end up listening to it and ultimately, regressing. It's well overdue that I loudly tell that voice where to go and just get on with being happy and following my passions and taking better care of myself.

We're talking blogging regularly and giving things 100% again, without a large percentage of that number being stolen away by doubts that haven't any substance behind them. They've caused such a lack of belief in myself that at times I've simply stopped altogether (hence my lengthy absence) and I'm truly excited about the prospect of thinking 'f*** it' whilst batting away those self-destructive thoughts in favour of living my life as fully as possible.

Here's to being less worried, embracing more freedom and letting 'what if' become 'oh well'. T has just popped his head around the door and given me a big thumbs up followed by a wave goodbye, so I'm gonna make myself a little G&T (it's early afternoon but I'm on my holidays) and reapply some SPF so I can get some much-needed Vitamin D whilst sticking my nose into a good book until everyone gets home. Thank you to you, lovely reader, for being patient with me and for always listening. Hope you're well, and I look forward to speaking with you a lot more often!

Sweatshirt | Throw | Mug