How I got productive

A few months ago, I was frustrated. I felt like I had no time left in my days, was pretty much always tired or easily distracted and had the ability to lose track of what I was doing within less than a second.

I was a grade A scatterbrain – and sadly, there’s no award or job description for that – I checked.

My problem was too many different noises going on in my head at the same time, which meant my head was so full and unreadable, that I wasn’t actually thinking anything through.

It was only when I had a few days off work sick and forced myself to switch off (and appreciate the value of duvet days) that I pinpointed this problem. I also decided that it was time to do something about it, and I think I’ve finally cracked it…

STEP ONE: BREAK IT DOWN
My approach used to be to attack everything all at once. I’m talking housework, actual work, arranging social plans, researching projects, photography and especially blogging. My brain was refusing to let me focus on one thing at a time without chiming in with ‘you forgot that’ or ‘how about we now do a bit of hoovering’. Breaking things down into chunks or tasks in my head, started to make everything seem a lot doable.

STEP TWO: MAKE A LIST
Mental lists are fine, physical lists are even better and they give a greater sense of achievement when you get to cross things off.

STEP THREE: WORK THROUGH THE LIST
This is where self-discipline had to start kicking in, because a list is only as good as the person using it. I found forcing myself to complete each thing on my list in order before moving on to the next thing ridiculously hard, but once I got it into my routine, it changed everything.

STEP FOUR: PLAN YOUR TIME
Perfect example, right now, I’ve given myself an hour to write this post in my lunch break. As long as I set realistic timeframes, it helps to keep things on track, especially when I have a deadline or when I’m working on something with a lot of stages.

STEP FIVE: LEARN WHEN TO SWITCH THE FUCK OFF
Big part of learning to look after myself and something that’s helped me to be 1000000000000% more productive (try saying that percentage, I dare ya) is knowing when to shut the Mac down and take a step back from a situation.

If you think about something for too long, you start to get unproductive with it, so I gave myself a computer bedtime, started enjoying a good Netflix sesh again and found that the hours I was working and doing ‘life things’, were much better spent.

I may not be Marie Kondo, but these five things have helped me organise pretty much all aspects of my life, and I’m here for it. Use them wisely, or, if you are Marie Kondo, don’t – you’re good.

Duvet days are important

It’s without a doubt that life is hectic these days, and it gets ever more challenging to make plans with yourself, never mind other adult human beings. Before the risk of complete burnout starts to set in though, I want to talk about possibly the most basic and underrated self-care concept; the duvet day.

By definition, this involves a few simple ingredients:

  • A duvet/blanket
  • A bed/sofa
  • Comfortable clothing/PJs
  • A TV remote (with TV connected, preferably)
  • Snacks & drinks of choice

A buddy to share all of this with is also an optional addition, along with video games & books – depending on how you’re feeling at the time.

Personally, I like to get up, shower, get into clean ‘comfies’, set up a little spot in my living room, and binge watch a series or two (movie marathons are also great though).

For anyone wondering about the general purpose of a duvet day, it’s about giving your brain a well-deserved life nap and putting yourself into a relaxing situation where you can switch off from the outside world for a day.

It’s also a great way to make time to reflect on what’s going on in your world, and having some time to yourself in this way even once every few months can put things that you might feel you don’t have time to think about into perspective.

Think of it as a mini holiday without the stress of travelling, and if you’re still thinking of a New Year’s resolution that doesn’t involve starving yourself or cutting the fun out of life, but has the potential to make you feel pretty fucking great, ‘HAVE MORE DUVET DAYS’ might be the one for you.

The value of ‘doing you’

We hear a lot around the subject of ‘self-care’ and ‘self-love’ these days, but how many of us are good at giving ourselves the space and time we need to actually follow through with it?

The idea of simply looking after yourself may seem like a necessity to most people, but more often than not, our lives run away with us and we find stress creeping into our daily routine.

These stresses, which manifest themselves in many different, inconvenient ways, can affect not only our own wellbeing, but also that of our friends, loved ones and even acquaintances. Basically, not where any of us want to be.

Over time, stress can lead to more serious symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, mood swings and erratic behaviour, which if left unresolved, impact the way we interact with others in our day to day lives.

Preventative practices of self-care are the best possible defence against these things and while it isn’t about putting yourself before others, it’s about making sure that your health and wellbeing take priority so that you’re emotionally and physically equipped to care for others.

In the words of RuPaul, ‘if you can’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else.’ AMEEEEEN.

Everyone needs space to breathe from time to time, and looking after you means listening to the signs your body is giving you and not pushing yourself to the point of burnout. So take a break, have a lie in, break at the candles or disappear off to a different country for a week (I often find that helps). Just do you boo.

Maya Beach Club, Ibiza

Whoever came up with the concept of the beach club, in its numerous different forms, is nothing short of a genius.

The beauty of these kinds of places is that no matter what type of holiday, event or group you find yourself in, there’s a version for everyone – particularly on the beautiful island of Ibiza.

Maya Beach Club | Flying Into Ibiza

If you’re in the mood for a champagne shower and are into swimwear that mostly involves string, then you’ll probably enjoy the likes of Nikki and Ocean Beach. If you’re after great food & great cocktails tucked away in a laidback spot with light house playing throughout the day, then head over to Experimental Beach.

But if you want to take in a truly exceptional beach club experience, then Maya Beach is most definitely my recommendation…

I came across Maya whilst researching potential spots for my birthday. I took a look at their website, dropped an enquiry through online, and within the hour one of the team had come back to me. I like that – it makes me feel special.

We booked out one of their clifftop Prive areas for the next day, which costs nothing to hire but includes a minimum spend of 450 EUR, giving us the perfect excuse to eat ridiculous amounts of food (including paella and a whole damn lobster for lunch).

So we arrived the next morning in high spirits at the level of service we’d experienced so far, and it only got better from there. Isabella greeted us and we were invited to have a drink in the bar area looking out over Cala Vadella beach while they made final preparations to the space we’d hired.

We then headed up the stairs to the Prive terrace, a beautiful private area made up of lovely white furniture, including a king size Balinese style bed with a retractable remote controlled canopy. It was really quite stunning.

Maya Beach Club | Balinese Bed

The area could have easily fit 10 or more people and created a much more upbeat party atmosphere (particularly with the magnums of wine & champagne available from the menu). But our aim for the day was to simply to eat, drink, relax and enjoy the stunning views.

Maya Beach Club | Bed & Chairs

The food throughout the day was truly amazing, starting with a late breakfast featuring eggs, bacon, chicken & onions on the same plate, moving onto the seafood and rice feast I mentioned earlier for lunch and ending with an incredible fresh sushi platter in the late evening.

 

Underpinning all of this was what seemed like a few gallons of wine, (a magnum of rose disappears surprisingly quickly if you’re in the mood) several mojitos and a traditional birthday shot of tequila. Not to mention the world class service that our host Esayas and the rest of the team at Maya gave us.

Our entire day was perfect, and through all of our gluttony, we only managed to spend 2.50 EUR more than the minimum charge, so the value for money was really clear.

The real beauty of Maya, however, is how universal it is. Down in the beach club itself, there was such a broad mix of people, both local and tourists in groups, families and couples of all different ages. And everyone was having such a lovely time, right into the late hours when the live music began in the bar.

Maya Beach Club | Restaurant

If you’re visiting Ibiza before the season ends, this hidden gem is worth a visit, even for just a few hours. You can find more details on Maya Beach and all of the services they have to offer over on their website.

 

 

Hard Rock Hotel, Ibiza

My boyfriend and I decided to celebrate my birthday in style this year, with a 5-night trip to my favourite island on earth; Eivissa. We stayed in the place that my dreams are made of, the 5-star Hard Rock Hotel, situated less than 10-minutes from the airport in Playa D’en Bossa. Anyone that knows me can tell you how obsessed I am with the cafe chain, but this took my obsession to new levels.

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Statue

Our room of choice was the Rock Suite Platinum, chosen primarily because of the promise of sea views from the private solarium area which sat above the suite itself – and it certainly didn’t disappoint…

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Solarium View

All of the hotel’s suites come with a fully stocked Maxi Bar, including bottles of wine, a half bottle of champagne and various soft drinks & light snacks. We also had the added bonus of a drinks cabinet (which at first looks like an amp case) filled with premium spirits from vodka to whiskey. So naturally, it didn’t take long to crack open the Belvedere.

 

The room itself serves up the rock star vibe with a stylish Ibiza twist, combining elements like a faux snakeskin headboard with soft custom coloured effect lighting around the bed, complete with abstract art to match the look and feel of the hotel. A sofa bed in soft metallic, coffee table and accompanying breakfast bar complete the interior and bring a bit of convenience to the place.

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | SuperKing Bed

Onto the solarium and the real star of the show, the spiral stairway to which can be found on the reasonably sized balcony outside the room. The area is made up of two levels, one slightly lower containing two white sunbeds and the other set a little higher and under the cover of slatted wood, which houses the wonderfully comfortable double daybed (complete with removable sheet and cushions) and a round jacuzzi bath which is the perfect size for two people. Each the bed and the jacuzzi came with a curtain for added privacy and shade, although in all honesty, we didn’t use these once.

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Jacuzzi View

Outside of the suite, the hotel itself has so many things to explore, from the classic Hard Rock memorabilia (which you can book a guided tour for) to a number of restaurants and chillout areas for any type of holiday group – it’s probably one of the most inclusive hotels in the south of the island.

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Memorabilia

There are also two pools playing music throughout the ‘sociable hours’ of the day, including live performances from some of the Hard Rock team. One event we did sadly miss out on was the ‘Children of the 80s’ concert which takes place every Friday evening of the party season, a show that’s visible from the majority of the Rock Suite terrace areas.

My personal favourite booking perk though, was the free entry to the Rock Spa, a haven located right in the heart of the hotel with a fantastic array of in and outdoor facilities, including the best thalassotherapy pool I have ever come across. We decided against booking in for a massage (which comes at an additional cost) but did take advantage of the other areas of the spa for a few hours.

Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Rock Spa EntranceHard Rock Hotel Ibiza | Rock Spa Outdoors

Another highlight of our stay was the ‘In Heaven’ dinner show, which takes place every Saturday & Wednesday throughout the season. For 80 euros per person, we spent our last evening enjoying really impressive entertainment in between the 5 courses of our meal inspired by the four elements (plus the fifth element, which is apparently chocolate – who knew?). The singers & musicians were madly talented, and combined covers of modern hits with a bit of opera, without forgetting to add a touch of Hard Rock-ness and a few nods to the Spanish heritage of the island – it was beautiful.

 

The only thing I can say against the hotel is that we didn’t stay long enough and that the pretty huge stage seems a little wasted on one concert per week. Other than that, it’s without a doubt one of the top hotels in Ibiza and does the Hard Rock brand proud. Now, someone take me back please?!

A salicylic experience

This skincare business can be fucking ridiculous sometimes.

If someone sat you down and told you they were going to pour fire on your face for the next five minutes, you would tell them exactly where they could shove it.

You definitely wouldn’t lie there, hair tied back in waiting (having just let them remove all of your makeup), and let them do it. No sane person does that shit. And yet, here we are…

So, I got a salicylic skin peel, and boy does it sting like a bitch…but why would anyone put themselves through this madness, and better still, pay for the privilege of getting their face burned? Here’s what I found:

The pain is temporary

Despite the melodrama, the severe stinging and ‘burning’ sensation that is caused by the peel is actually very short lived and only lasts for a few minutes. So grand scheme of things, it’s definitely manageable.

The peeling is temporary

This is something I had to keep reminding myself in the days following the first peel (yes first, I actually went back…) when my skin was quite literally falling off my face. It wasn’t a pretty sight or a pretty feeling, but you do eventually get into the ‘greater good’ mindset and look forward to the more long-term results it can bring.

You need to keep at it

The results were really strong in my case, and I definitely became a lot less prone to breakouts when combining the peels with a solid skincare routine and a healthy diet. It was definitely a process for me though, and following my course of 5 peels all 2-3 weeks apart, I’m strongly considering continuing on with monthly top-ups to keep on top of my skin.

It’s definitely not cheap

With a new customer discount included, my 5 session package cost just over £400, which works out as more than £80 per peel. When you add that to the cost of the accompanying skincare regime, the cost really starts to rack up…

You have to pay attention to your skin

I found that the cleanser provided as part of the skincare regime wasn’t enough to remove all of my makeup in the evenings, so I incorporated a two-step cleanse into my nightly routine. Not all products work for everyone, so you need to find what works for you and give it a good two week run before you decide whether it’s for you.

Overall, the peels have given me the kickstart my skin needed to get back on track, and while they can cause short-term stress if your skin flakes excessively, the effect that they can have on the skin’s texture and complexion is pretty impressive. Definitely recommended.

I booked my salicylic peels through SK:N Clinics who have branches all over the UK, however, there are a growing number of clinic chains whose prices will vary – always do your research and book in a consultation before receiving any treatment.

What mindfulness means to me

There’s no doubt about it, mindfulness is officially a ‘buzzword’ – but what does it actually mean? It’s obviously a very subjective thing, but personally, I find it very easy to talk about how I see it and how it impacts my life…

For me, mindfulness involves taking a step back, genuinely experiencing the moments in your life, and in turn, finding positivity and happiness in things that may otherwise go unnoticed. It can be anything from feeling the sun on your face to having a fucking good burger – it might even be washing the damn dishes…

It’s simply taking the time to have a moment & say ‘‘you know what, I’m happy right now.”

Another prong to the ‘mindfulness fork’ (#selfcarecutlery), is about being aware of your impact on others around you. It’s very true that you can’t please everyone all the time (you’re not Nutella), but taking time to think about how you interact with friends, family, colleagues and even strangers is only going to bring some of that sweet karma around your way.

I’ve been making mindfulness a big part of my day for the past few months, trying to make actions as meaningful as possible and I feel like it has made me a more positive and appreciative person overall.

I feel like I can enjoy the ‘little things’ more these days.

Everyone has their own ideas on what mindfulness means to them, and I guess that’s the beauty of it in a way, as long as it keeps people thinking about their own mental wellbeing and the world around them.