Procrastination – why do we do it and how do we stop it?

Hands up who washes up, on cleans the house and vacuums the car when they have something important to do? (My hand shoots up high at this point). Hands up who finds they’ve spent three hours on social media when they had a blog post to write, a piece of work to do or have promised themselves they’ll get round to something you really should have done  ages ago? (Hand shoots up a bit higher). So hey we all procrastinate at some time, but according to the leading experts on procrastination 20% of us are chronic procrastinators. This would be those of us who put bills in a drawer, who never get the important stuff done, and who never ever buy a gift on time. But why do we procrastinate?

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How I am surviving life after credit cards…(and some tips to help you do the same)

I am trying to be more mindful in all areas of my life, and spending and eating are probably the most two challenging of those areas for me. I am turning 40 this year, and this has helped me look at my life and what I want to achieve in the next decade. Still having debt is not one of my aims, funnily enough.

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The clothes buying ban – an update

So it’s been nearly a month now since the self imposed buying ban. If you have no idea what I am on about, you can read my post here on the decision not to buy any clothes for a 6 month period. The aim of this torturous activity was to identify why I kept buying so many clothes, many of which did not satisfy the feeling I was looking for in buying them for the first place.

So in a month have I collapsed and bought a mountain of cloth? Am I gnawing at my fingers, desperate for a new top? Surprisingly not, although there have been some mild panic induced moments, particularly when a sale pops up unawares outside of my mail filtering tools.

Initially I made a note of what I chose to wear and realised I do have a style without even realising it. I like plain clothes in slightly alternative styles with contrasting and bright accessories or layers. So a black dress with a floral blazer, or a colour block dress with a bright yellow necklace. I do not like fuss in clothes. So plain lines, not too many pleats, no frills and definitely no rips. Pretty much your classic shift/sweater dress , a blazer, a shirt or a t-shirt. Nothing too fancy. For work I like a one piece dress and a blazer or a cardigan. For home I like jeans or jeggings and a tunic, or a shirt or t-shirt. I like to have a couple of day dresses for occasions and a few outfits for more swish occasions. I like plain colours and I like bold patterns. I like dark neutrals and bright brights. I do not like anything in between like tie die or little diamonds or god forbid beige or baby blue. So I knew this already, but it was buried in me. I was trying to find an alternative style, to be something I’m not.

Why has it taken me soooo long to work this out? And we’re talking the whole two years I’ve been practicing minimalism , not just a few weeks. I’ve been buying clothes on a pretty regular basis, in fairly consistent quantities for ages. I buy them, I look at them, I might wear them a few times and then mindfulness takes over and I realise I don’t feel great in them.

Taking this purchase pause is allowing me to breathe…it’s taken away the impulse to buy because I’ve told myself I can’t. I’ve also gotten more creative with clothing. So I used some Dylon dye and I’ve dyed a purple  tweed blazer ( one word, why?) that’s been hanging in my wardrobe for ages a lovely shade of indigo and I’ve employed my not so great hand sewing skills to turn a denim dress I’m bored of into a peplum top I really love. I’m pretty proud of this. With less in my wardrobe and nowhere to turn I’m looking at what I’ve got and thinking ‘what can I do with this?’ I’ve not run out of clothes yet, and everything I’ve worn I feel good in. I feel like ‘me’. No I can’t explain it either but I think it’s about being more mindful about my wardrobe and thinking ‘What do I actually like to wear?’

I still have just over five months to go so we’re not out of the woods yet – there’s still the fact I’ve got a pretty small winter wardrobe, so layering will have to be the order of the day and I have to get past the lure of the January sale…My ban ends in March and my current aim is to buy a few pieces then to compliment what I know I love.

Fancy working better with your wardrobe? Here’s some tips to get you started

  1. A purchase pause. Even if it feels like going cold turkey and you can only do it for a month, resisting the urge to spend all your free income on a few new ‘bits’ to tart up your wardrobe and going back to look at what you have will really help you gain perspective
  2. Upcycle it – Can you dye the t-shirt you’d quite like if it was a darker shade? Can you take up the hem on the maxi you’d love as a knee length dress? Will altering the sleeves or changing the neckline give you a new outfit? Give it a try
  3. Clothes swap – Lots of cities and towns now have clothes swapping parties- the crux with this one is you have to be the same size as someone else which as a large woman leaves you with little option but if you can find a party that works for you, then you can create yourself a new wardrobe for nothing and get rid of your old stuff to boot
  4. Put things into seasons – even if you’re short on space, making your wardrobe seasonal is a better way to see what you have and haven’t got, and what you might need. That way you get rid of those jumpers in summer, and when it comes to pulling them out again, you’ve often forgotten what you had and you almost get a new wardrobe! You can use vaccum bags and store under the bed, or fill a suitcase.

Be More Holiday

There’s advert you may have seen on TV called ‘Be more dog’. It’s around the concept that dogs re pretty cool, laidback animals that have a far better adn fun life than a cat. (I actually disagree, our cats would probably also disagree as they get to roam off and explore while the dogs have to stay at home or go on enforced walks in silly jumpers). However the concept is actually a brilliant one and one I want to use in my life after my recent holiday to Madeira. To ‘Be more holiday’.

Where am I going with this? Well on holiday I felt calm, more relaxed, time slowed. I enjoyed the sunshine, the food, I took my time to relax. It got me to thinking that when you’re on holiday, you’re in a different mindset, one where enjoyment is the main objective. You set out to have as much relaxation and fun as is possible. Yet once we get back on the plane or train, or back into the car and go back home, we go back to our responsibilities, the immersion heater on the blink so lack of hot water, the long hours of work and the daily grind that means we need a holiday from it in the first place.

So what if we could be more holiday all the time? Bring that sense of enjoyment and relaxation to every day life? Sure long lie ins and drinking sangria in a can aren’t necessarily something that can be done every day, but actually making time to take a half day off work to have a relaxing lie in or making cocktails just because you can aren’t bad ideas. Appreciating nature, even when it’s raining, and the possibilities of your day are things you do on holiday. Can we do them at home? If you get caught in a downpour on holiday, it’s the perfect excuse for a hot shower, and the colder the rain the more delightful a hot fire, or toasty heating and a hot chocolate with marshmallows seems. There’s plenty of opportunities to get rained on in daily life, but we don’t often see them as an opportunity to get cosied up. Getting up and having your whole day before you and planning to go and do something fun isn’t something most of us do often on weekends or our day off. Instead we fit in all the things we have to do (or think we have to do) and all that cleaning we didn’t get done in the week, and the weekend passes by in a minute of chores and bother.

So I am planning to be more ‘holiday’ and if you fancy joining me here are five ways to get started:

  1. This weekend, instead of worrying about hoovering or tidying up, do an extra 10 minutes of housework each day and then plan a day out       as you would on holiday. Is there anything you fancy doing? Going an visiting a castle, a theme park, a day out in a new city or town for a potter round? Imagine you’re on holiday and look at what’s available in the local area. I can guarantee you’ll find loads you’ve never done
  2. If you’re lucky enough to have a flexible working policy, book yourself a lie in. Rather than jumping out of bed straight away, luxuriate in the warmth, bring yourself a coffee back to bed, buy a paper, watch some awful daytime TV, go for a lovely walk. If you can’t flexibly work, book yourself half a days holiday. If you’ve got kids at school, this is the prime time to go back for an after breakfast nap!
  3. Try a new recipe- often when we’re on holiday we want to try the local food, or something new. Then back at home we’re eating the same food we always do because it’s easy. Pick something a bit more exciting, try a new food, add some side dishes, make the meal a real occasion. Get yourself a bottle of wine. Even if it’s a Wednesday and you really shouldn’t.
  4. Start trying to think and act differently – when on holiday I feel almost like I have a directive to relax and enjoy my time– does it have to be different at home? OK so the pots won’t wash themselves and most of us do have to go to work but can we do that with the mindset of life is for living? Can we do the pots to our favourite music? Can we work in something we truly love so it doesn’t feel like work? Can we use the boring bus journey to dive into a good book? Making the more mundane parts of life more fun can bring out that holiday spirit
  5. Wearing brighter and more fun clothing- So how many of us are guilty of buying new clothes, or wearing brighter clothes or something a bit more daring or unusual on holiday. OK so the chances are you might have been somewhere at least 15 degrees hotter than where you live, however we’re back to this mentality of saving the good bits of life for our holiday. Whilst you might not want to wear your favourite bikini to Tesco’s, try getting your bright maxi dress out or in my case I’m keeping my jungle print trousers out to get me through winter. They probably are as bad as they sound…