Tuesday, 13 December 2011

I used to be a perfectionist, but I'm trying to improve

I've always been a bit of a perfectionist.
I asked my Mum about it, and she said I used to get angry when learning how to tie my own shoe laces as I couldn't do it as quickly or neatly as I would like! As I grew older this meant I was also honing my procrastination skills. I would almost become paralysed by the thought that I could never finish the task to my own standard and therefore didn't get started.  
Doesn't sound like much fun, eh?

For a long time, I wasn't really aware of being like this. I think it was probably when I started sixth form college that I began to realise that I wasn't being particularly kind to myself with this behaviour. However, even though I was more mindful of it I still found it very hard to act in a different way after so many years of practise. College wasn't the happiest time for me, but with the benefit of wonderful hindsight I think it was a period of important self-reflection.  

So, what has worked for me? Time, persistence and lots of self-encouragement mainly.
However, here are some of the other techniques and tools that have helped me along my way:

  • Timeboxing  - I found this some years ago and it really works. I use an online timer called Tick Tock or my iPod touch to set the amount of time to focus for. Until the timer goes off, I work solely on the job in hand and nothing else. I regularly use a timer for say 10 or 15 minutes and some times I'll give myself a treat when I'm done, like reading Philofaxy or having a cup of yummy redbush tea
  • Getting Things Done - David Allen's system has helped give me structure and ask myself the right questions to move forward. Two GTD questions you can use every day - 1) What's the successful outcome? and 2) What's the next action to make it happen? Even if you're not sure what the end result will be, you can always ask - what's the very next step (no matter how tiny) that will move this forward?
  • Aikido and karate - you don't really have much time for procrastination when some one's trying to attack you! (The links provided are for my aikido club and then the karate club I used to train with) Aikido has been (and still is) a very important part of my self development. I once thought it brought out the worst in me, as I would get very frustrated when I couldn't do the movement to the level I wanted. This meant it was invaluable training for the perfectionist in me, but it wasn't easy and I came very close to giving up. After one particularly tough class (not the actual class, just how I treated myself), I sat crying and swearing at myself in my car. Once I calmed down, I promised to enjoy aikido one class at a time and that was years ago now :)
  • Lots of good books, such as the Art of Happiness, The Tao of Pooh and the Happiness Project
  • Hypnotherapy and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) - over the years I have had both and feel they have helped me so much. (The links provided are the practitioners I have seen) I am also very lucky that my wonderful husband is an NLP practitioner too. I would thoroughly recommend you do some reading on these subjects, as I'm not sure I will be able to give the best explanation of what they are here. 
How am I doing these days? Much better! I think my main motivation for wanting to change was that it wasn't making me happy. Am I happier and a bit messier now? Absolutely :)

Thanks to Kanalt at Well Planned Life for the inspiration to write this post, after reading hers here.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Philofaxy meet up 19th November

On Saturday, I set off early so that I'd be able to have a look around the Tate Modern before the meet up. I caught up on some reading on the train in my Strata, and you can just see my Malden here peeking in on the left which I used as my wallet for the day. It worked very well - coins in the front pocket, some cards and then notes in a zip lock envelope at the back.
As the weather forecast sounded good, I decided to walk from Waterloo, rather than take the tube and I really enjoyed my peaceful amble along the river.
The Tate Modern didn't seem that busy and I found visiting on my own very relaxing, as I often feel that my pace is a bit too slow for other people when looking around museums and galleries. I'm not sure where the time went, and scurried down the escalators to look for the others outside at 11:55 a.m.

After some initial hold ups due to the tube, we all finally made it and it didn't take long before the filofaxes made their appearance! There were 10 of us in total, as unfortunately Bronni and Angela couldn't make it. 
Clockwise from the left: Christa, Imy, Tracy, Anja (hidden), Adam, Sharon, Steve and Kate
We chatted, swapped our filofaxes, compared lay outs and had a leisurely lunch. Even though I'd never met anyone before I felt very comfortable like I already knew them, as Steve mentions here about what it's like to attend one of the meet ups.
Anja, Adam, Sharon and Steve
 Imy was presented with the notebook that she won in my competition, a card (kindly made by Kate and signed by all of us) and some Smarties.

 What's driven Tracy to alcohol??
Tracy and Anja
Aargh, was it the dreaded Apex??

Imy, Tracy and her competition Apex
Once the plates were out of the way, it was time to line all the filos up and we had 22 in total, not including those in the reflection!

Around 3:00 p.m. we headed off for the Neal Street store, and Sharon made sure we all got there in good time (thank you for that!).
Osterleys which I thought I'd like, but a bit too serious/business-like for me
Imy and Christa
Me, Tracy, Steve, Imy, Kate and Christa
So, what did I buy??
Well, I can't yet reveal the purchase as it's a Christmas gift for my husband, but I didn't buy anything for myself. I really enjoyed looking at other people's and the ones in the shop, but it's confirmed that the crimson personal Malden is the the one for me. I did consider buying a pen on sale at £10, but came to the conclusion that I didn't need it.
All the Malden sizes, yum!

Dee kindly popped a shopping guide with money off voucher, a little gift bag and a Christmas card in with my purchase.

Thank you so much, Steve, for arranging the day. I had a lovely time and would thoroughly recommend attending a meet up if you're a filofax fan. Initially I didn't fancy going to one, but every one always seems to have a good time and I definitely did! 

Monday, 14 November 2011

Competition winner

I am delighted to announce that the winner of the lovely leather covered notebook is the gorgeous Imy!
Thank you to every one that entered and sorry you didn't win.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Got to inbox zero, yay!

Following on from my previous post about Inbox Zero, I have finally achieved zero :)
Great feeling. My @ waiting for is shown to remind me in case I need to follow up, and anything else is archived just for information.
Now I'm going to work on clearing to zero on a more regular basis, maybe daily or weekly depending on how much email I'm receiving.

I also love the new look of Gmail and the theme I'm using is called Tree Tops.

Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Filofax embargo

I've read in different places that a great way to stick to a goal is to publicly announce it.
So, here goes... I am not going to buy any more filofaxes!
Two is enough for me, and I can appreciate other people's but not feel the need to purchase more.

The lovely Ro recently commented on how many filofaxes do you own with 'still just the one. It works for me, plus I am loyal and content'. So it is possible... I have recently found myself once again perusing eBay and emailing Dee at Neal Street to find out how much the slimline Amazonas are with 50% off, but no more, I say!

I am content with my beautiful Malden and spacious Strata. Done.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Winchester filofax up for sale

I previously blogged here about the vintage filofax I was given, and I have finally got round to listing it on eBay. After lots of TLC and airing, it's scrubbed up beautifully and I decided to list it before I seriously considered keeping it! I admit it did cross my mind to give my Uncle-in-law some money and sell my Malden. However, I know I'd really regret getting rid of my wonderful Malden! 
If you're interested, the listing can be found here.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Competition time

After the recent filofax competitions, I've decided it's time to host my very own here!
I recently purchased some beautiful leather covered notebooks and decided one of them would make a lovely prize.

Up for grabs is an A6 hardback lined notebook with a red leather slip cover. The finish reminds me of the Amazona filofax range, feels great to touch and smells scrummy. The great thing is that the cover isn't permanently attached, so you could swap it to another notebook once you've filled this one up.

Interested in winning this beauty?? Here's how to take part:
  1. What time does the second aikido class finish?
  2. What is the name of the aikido club teacher?
  3. How much does your first aikido class cost?
  4. What colour clothes am I wearing in the shiatsu video?
  5. What was I diagnosed with that led me to complementary medicine?
  6. How much do I charge for 10 minutes of seated massage?
  7. What are the names of the main contributors to Philofaxy?
  8. What is the date of the next Philofaxy London meet up?
  9. Who is Filofax collaborating with to create two limited edition organisers to be launched during London Fashion Week 2012?
  10. What country does Steve live in?
The closing date for the competition is Sunday 13th November, and good luck!

My 1st dan grading

I've been a bit hesitant previously about putting the video of my grading on my blog and I'm not sure 100% why. So, here it is!

Since my grading, I've been helping out more in our first class and it's becoming easier to find the words to explain movements and principles. Previously, I found I could do a movement, but couldn't explain it in a clear and concise way to some one else. Then again, this will be some thing that needs practise. Going back to basics with a beginner will only enhance my own understanding, which is funny as I used to find it hard to understand what a more experienced student would get out of practising with me!

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Michael Franti & Spearhead at Koko, London

We went to see Michael Franti and Spearhead for my husband's birthday and stayed overnight in Camden, rather than rushing back for the last train. Thanks to lastminute.com, I managed to get the hotel room at a third of the price and nearly shrieked out loudly in reception on seeing the normal £299 per night price!!
It seems most people we know have never heard of the band, which surprises me considering how long they've been together and how awesome they are.
You can find out more about them here and see more photos from the concert on Facebook here.

After enjoying being near the front at King's X, we decided to get to the venue earlier to reserve our space. I am so glad we did! (You can enlarge any photo by clicking on it)

It's the most fun I've ever had at a concert and we met the wonderful Hanka and Tanya, also pictured here with J Bowman who is lovely.
To my delight and slight disbelief I was called up on stage to dance!

We jumped, danced and laughed during the 2 hours that they played, and the photos on Facebook are a good reflection of the smiles and enthusiasm of the fans! I found the music so positive and the band has so much energy. 

The next morning, we had breakfast at the Diner and blimey, I underestimated the size of their blueberry pancakes with maple syrup! I also ordered french toast, which was scrumptious too.
Before and after... I was never going to finish them. 
We then took a leisurely stroll to catch the train at Waterloo, which I enjoyed much more than taking the tube. I was quite excited to pop into AcuMedic which is a Chinese medicine and acupuncture centre/shop. Eventually I had to drag myself away from all the books, and purchased The Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor and some Ylang ylang floral water.

Photos courtesy of Michael Franti and Spearhead, Hana and my hubby.

Friday, 21 October 2011

Blogging from the heart

I've realised recently that I've been limiting what I post about, and for no good reason really. I originally started the blog about studying shiatsu, and then slowly aikido and other subjects snuck in. And I think I've felt I shouldn't write about other ideas or subjects which interest me, which seems a bit silly now!

So, I guess this is to introduce the idea that I'm planning on posting more about what's important to me or interesting at the time, rather than restricting myself to certain subjects. I hope this means a more interesting and varied blog :)

Things I have an interest in and haven't blogged about much:
  • Minimalism, simplifying my life and working on wanting less
  • Improving my productivity (Getting Things Done, Inbox Zero and Zen to Done mostly)
  • Improving my positivity, ability to relax, self confidence and mindfulness
  • Learning to embrace change
  • Reading
  • Meditation
  • Qigong
  • Tai chi
  • Becoming greener 
  • Becoming more creative.
For example, I recently took up tai chi and am absolutely loving it, but as it doesn't neatly come under the heading of shiatsu or aikido I didn't mention it! I practised for about 2 years a long time ago and thought I'd take it up again one day. One of our newer aikido students teaches it and I was hooked after one class with him. I'm finding it quite challenging and I'm always mentally tired after a class, with slightly shaky legs! I had originally taken up kick boxing as my second art, but kept finding excuses not to go to training which is a sure sign for me that it's not what I want to do. It hasn't been exactly a conscious decision, but shiatsu, aikido and tai chi will all feed into each other as I become more experienced in them.  

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Inbox Zero using Gmail

My email always used to be out of control, and many replies would start with a 'sorry for the delay in getting back to you' line. I found I dreaded opening up Gmail and looking at emails that I'd read, but hadn't worked out what needed doing on them. I tried all sorts of ways to tame my inbox like starring emails, creating tasks, and using an add-on called Taskforce but found nothing really worked until I came across Inbox Zero.  

'Inbox Zero is a thing that was cooked up by Merlin Mann, the cre­ator of 43fold​ers​.com.
It’s about how to reclaim your email, your atten­tion, and your life.
That “zero?” It’s not how many mes­sages are in your inbox–it’s how much of your own brain is in that inbox. Especially when you don’t want it to be. That’s it'.

If you need to bring some sanity to your email, then I'd really recommend this. There's lots of good ideas offered, but the important part for me is that any email has a limited number of actions possible.
In preferred order, they are:
  1. Delete (or archive)
  2. Delegate
  3. Respond
  4. Defer
  5. Do.
Generally I try to handle an email only once, but some times I won't have the time, energy or interest to deal with them there and then. This is where my labels come in as you can see below:

As this is mainly my personal email account, I don't normally need to delegate, but I immediately label a message and then archive it. As you can see from my screenshot, my Inbox is empty which I absolutely love! At the time of this screenshot, I had some sub-categories of my @ do and @ reading labels to make it easier to spot what's outstanding, but I've now deleted them as those specific messages are dealt with. When I first started using Gmail I went a bit crazy with the labels, but have found the less the better, especially where the search function is so good (unlike Outlook!). As you can see, I also use @ someday/maybe and @ waiting for which I've been using since getting into GTD. I do have other labels, like shiatsu and aikido, but they're more for archiving. I've set most of the labels to only show in the list if there are unread items, and many @ reading emails skip the inbox and show up as an unread count instead.

At the moment I have a fair number of emails to work through which is just down to sheer laziness. I've realised recently that I'm not as good as I thought at completely relaxing, so I'm being lazy on purpose, if that makes sense? I do feel though that getting to zero won't be hard work, which is a real change. If you could peek into my filofax, you'd find next actions called 'get @ do to zero' and 'get @ reading to zero'.
I then use use an online timer called Tick Tock to help me focus solely on that task for the given time, after clearing away any distractions and making a lovely cup of (normally rooibos) tea. I'll then treat myself to some thing like reading the Philofaxy web finds or playing Phoenix Wright on my DS lite!

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Music and my moods - All Stars post by Imy

I'm delighted to have another wonderful guest post for you. It's great to have some music on my blog and thanks to the wonderful Imy for sharing some of her taste in music. I like a bit of System of A Down too :)

A while ago the lovely Anita did a post on my blog about what is in her bag as part of the All Stars Philofaxy Tour!

And I could not think of an idea at all, then suddenly I had the idea of music and my moods, they're all a bit cheesy I guess but it's just music that helps me through things!

I will start off with the more depressing side, as I was born Intersex, I have felt alone quite a lot, I know I'm not but it's hard when you know there is not that many people out there going through what you are, I know there are a lot worse things in the world, but it's just hard and the one song I always listen to when I feel like that is: -

Olive – You're not alone!

It relaxes me and reminds me of all the amazing Intersex friends I have out there!

Another slightly sad thing I listen to is when I feel like I have no friends, as I feel as if I lost my “real life” friends, including a best friend a very long time ago, even though my boyfriend is my best friend, just that girl best friend you call when ever.

No Doubt – Don’t Speak

When I was younger I used to cry to this song thinking about a friend I lost, sad I know.

Now here goes my more bizarre taste in music which most of you won't like as much!

When I feel really stressed and annoyed I listen to this song, I always find that FAST HARD music relaxes me when I feel angry or stressed! (The original song I was going to put was a bit inappropriate).

That was all my more down unhappy music for when I don’t feel great, but now for some more happy music!

So a song that gives me lots of great happy memories, it would be this song because my old best friend and I had a great evening to it at a music festival, it just reminds me of the magical fun we had, I also listened to it on the way to the Philofaxy meet up this weekend, and it just made me feel so happy before, and the sun was actually coming up as I was on the way there, which is why I used it for the video!

Example – Watch the Sun Come Up

A song that makes me feel happy no matter what day of the week it is, whether it is a Monday morning or a Wednesday lunch time is another random song but it's something I was brought up with!

Union Jack – Red Herring

(Give it time it builds up)

The song that I LOVE to sing along to and dance along to is something from when I was in Primary school, I bet everyone will want to sing along with this!

Spice Girls – Stop

This is the last one I promise! It's just the chart song that I have in my head constantly, and the video is so dodgy but I love it!

LMFAO - Sexy and I Know It

I hope you have enjoyed my very random taste in music, I could have put some System of a Down in but I thought that might scare people a little.

Thank you very much Anita for letting me post on your blog!!!

My guest post over at Imysworld

I'm delighted that the lovely Imy agreed for me to do a guest post for her as part of the Philofaxy All Stars team! You can be nosey and find out what's in my bag at Imysworld. 

Thanks a lot, Imy!

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Vintage Winchester filofax

Last week end whilst visiting family, the subject of discussion came around to filofaxes. My husband's uncle mentioned that he'd used one for work in the 80's and after a bit of rummaging and emptying, handed me the beauty below!
After some searching on Philofaxy, it seems it's a Winchester king crocodile calf leather print according to here. I really don't know much about vintage filos, but believe the Winchester is a bit of a classic.

 This definitely isn't one that lies flat!
Comparison with my personal Malden.

As you can see from some of the photos, it could do with a little TLC. All I've done at the moment is given it a clean with a baby wipe and it's airing as it smells a little. Looking online, I've found various sites recommending putting it in a container with cat litter or bicarbonate of soda to remove the smell. Steve wrote a great post about caring for your organiser over at Imysworld, which I'll definitely be using in my little restoration project.

Despite some scuffs, which I hope will polish out, it's in great condition for its age and the earliest inserts are dated either 1984 or 1985. The ring mechanism is sound and shuts with a healthy click. I had considered keeping it, but really don't feel the need for another filo (even a vintage one) and it'll be going on eBay when it's a little more cared for.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Philofaxy All Stars tour

The lovely people over at Philofaxy had a great idea - 'how about a team of bloggers known as the 'Philofaxy All Stars', touring around each others blogs and doing blog posts on each others sites?'
A list of the All Stars posts can be found here

I thought it was a great idea, so immediately signed up and Amanda's guest post is what will hopefully be only the first of its type on my blog. I also returned the favour by writing a post about sadhana for her site Paper Pens Ink, which you can read here.

I just realised I put Amanda's post on my blog without any real introduction to what the All Stars is about! So there you go... I'm going to get myself sorted out and contact another member of the team to arrange another swap.
Thank you very much Amanda for such an interesting post and I'm delighted we could write for each other.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Can Exercise be Used as a Treatment for Depression? - All Stars post by Amanda

This is Amanda who has popped over from Paper, Pens, Ink to do a guest-post for Anita, as part of the All Stars Blog Tour with Philofaxy. Although I largely blog about stationery, I am a physiologist with a particular interest in exercise.

Depression affects many people, with estimates of the number of people affected worldwide cited as over 120 millioni. It is important to realise that ‘depression’ covers a huge spectrum of both physiological and psychological conditions. It can be classed as mild, moderate or severe, according to the presentation of a number of signs and symptomsii.

Much of the research into whether exercise can be used in the treatment of depression has focused on mild to moderate depression and has compared whether exercise is a useful alternative to conventional therapy. Some research has been done on whether exercise is a useful adjunct to conventional therapy. The conclusion of the most recent systematic review of the research found that, “Exercise seems to improve depressive symptoms in people with a diagnosis of depression, but when only methodologically robust trials are included, the effect sizes are only moderate and not statistically significant.”iii

Now, that doesn’t sound too promising a start. However, the way the systematic reviews look at the data is quite critical. One important aspect of clinical trials is to have the participants ‘blind’ as to which group they are in. So for example, in a drug-trial, all participants will be given an identical-looking pill, but only some of them will be taking the drug and the others will be taking a placebo.
When the ‘pill’ is exercise, it is hard to see how the participants can be blind as to which group they are in. In the review, when all the collected data was pooled and examined, a large clinical effect of exercise was indicated. However, when only the data that met certain criteria were analysed, the effect was much less significant.

In the UK, the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) guideline for depression recommends structured, supervised exercise programmes, three times a week (45 minutes to 1 hour) for 10 to 12 weeks for mild depression2. The National Health Service (NHS) also has a webpage with recommendations regarding exercise for the alleviation of depression.

So, assuming that exercise does have some role in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, how is it doing this?

There are a number of reasons why exercise can alleviate the symptoms of depression. Some of them have a physiological basis and some of them are psychological in basis. To cover them all in depth would constitute a thesis, but I will try to summarise some of the main points.

Physiological changes due to exercise
Many of you will have heard of the ‘endorphin rush’ or ‘adrenaline rush’ or ‘runners’ high’. In all of these cases, the act of exercise changes the release of chemicals in your body. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain-killers and are in the same family of chemicals as morphine. They act at the spinal cord to reduce the transfer of information about pain from the periphery of your body up to your brain (and thereby reduce the perception of pain). They also affect the brain directly. They are useful when you are in pain (obviously) but they are also released when you are exercising, which gives you an exercise/runners’ high. Not all people get a runners’ high though, even during intense exercise.
Another change that occurs in the body is a reduction in the stress hormone cortisol, which has been linked to a reduction in anxiety and depressioniv.

Psychological changes
Exercise is thought to help with depression for a number of reasons. It can give you a feeling of control in your life and of goal-achievement. It can act as a distraction, changing your focus on things. It can be sociable if you choose to exercise with others. Exercise, especially done outdoors in the middle of the day can also help you to sleep better.
All of these factors (and more) can help to reduce depression.

What kind of exercise is best?
My answer to that is “whatever you enjoy doing!”. Most of the evidence (both scientific and anecdotal) looks at the affect of aerobic exercise, such as walking, swimming or running. There is also good evidence that yoga helps to reduce anxiety, stress and depression and help you to sleep better toov. Any exercise is better than none, but always exercise within your limits.

Even if you have no clinical diagnosis of depression, exercise can be great for lifting your mood and decreasing your stress and anxiety. It’s also linked to a reduction in many other disease states such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and stroke. Even if it’s just taking the dog for a walk or managing a stroll around the block, why don’t you go out and get a little exercise today?

Disclaimer: I am not a General Practitioner. I am a physiologist with an interest in exercise. If you are suffering from any of the signs of depression or if you are contemplating undertaking a new exercise regime, please consult your doctor.
i Moussavi S, Chatterji S, Verdes E, Tandon A, Patel V, Ustun B. Depression, chronic diseases, and decrements in health: results from the World Health Surveys. Lancet 2007;370 (9590):808–9.
Mead GE, Morley W, Campbell P, Greig CA, McMurdo M, Lawlor DA
ivStetler, C and Miller, GE. Depression and Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal Activation: A Quantitative Summary of Four Decades of Research Psychosom Med 2011 73:114-126
v Field, T. Yoga clinical research review Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice 2007 17:1-8

Monday, 15 August 2011

What, another filofax??

Shortly after selling 2 filofaxes, I soon found myself perusing some more lovelies online! What is about these things?? For a while, I've been tempted by the space of an A4 which has the added bonus of cheap hole punches and being able to make my own templates more easily. I will definitely be frequenting DIY Planner when I have the time.

I came across a brand new Identity on eBay and snapped it up at the buy it now price. At the time it seemed different to what I thought an Identity looked like, but I figured maybe it was an older version as no diary was included.

Once I had a nose inside, I realised it definitely wasn't an Identity...
I've never even heard of Strata and Filofax UK no longer stock it, but I'd managed to get a leather A4 filo for a great price, bargain! It's also lighter than I expected (based on what some other folk have said about the A4) and I'd be happy to pop it in my satchel and walk to the library to do a bit of study.  

I really like the sleek and minimal styling, kind of like the James Bond (in a tux) of filofaxes :)
I don't have much in it yet, only the inserts it came with and a couple of extra bits and pieces.

My cat's Weight Watchers sheet, poor thing, she's been on a diet ever since I got her back.
 Doesn't my personal Malden look small and fat in comparison in this last one? (shh, I don't want her to get a complex...)

My plan is to use it as my GTD tickler file, for project support material and to gather up all the other GTD paperwork that won't fit into my personal Malden.
And that's it... no more filofaxes!! (some of you are probably laughing at the very idea) My personal is my main 'doing' one which I can pop in my bag easily, and the A4 will be in a supporting role for storing working papers and for when I need more space to plan or create mind maps.