2017 New Years Goals: Fitness, Learning to Cook, finish a Grand Project i.e. my debut novel

Dear Readers,

I am going to share my New Year’s Resolution and the ways I shall effectively execute them.

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Given that in 2016 I managed sans plans/friends/connections and a whole lot of depression and anxiety launched a literary career, had a (fleeting) Amazon No.1 and performed at a major British Literature Festival I figure I must have some kind of knack to Get Things Done.

2017 is the year I finally get around to accomplishing the mundane goals, which I’ve not yet fully consistently committed to.

The Goals:

  • Establish and commit to a x3 days weekly fitness routine
  • Learn to cook
  • Complete the 1st draft of my novel.

How I will accomplish this:

Review date: 1st April 2017. Therefore goals are to be ‘run’ for 3 months/90 days.

Fitness:

  • Do the Tabata Workout x3 days a week: Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays
    – In the mornings.
    – After April 2017 double this workout but continue only x3 days a week.

It will begin as only a 4-minute, high-intensity workout from now until April 1st 2017.

Cooking:

  • Using a mix between recipes found in Sam Stern’s student cookbook, my Mother’s recipes, other cookbooks and BBC Good Food recipes. Learn one new recipe per month.
  • January = Macaroni Cheese  ||  February = Chicken soup  ||  March = Carrot soup
    – Cook the dish only twice a month, then move onto the next assigned recipe for that certain month.

My Novel:

  • Write one hour a week
    – High focus, content driven writing on my novel. No note-taking just plot writing. If I get stuck/suffer writer’s block I simply move on and write in another chapter or edit written work.
    Tuesdays 6pm work on writing novel
  • Review material, research plot gaps for one hour
    Fridays 6pm work on rereading manuscript and doing extra research on passages marked TK.

The secret to these goals is to keep them as simple and small as possible so that I can actually consistently commit to them because implementing these accomplishments is a necessity. Also by having them take minimal time I can easily over-deliver on each task and gain small wins as a confidence boost.

Additionally I shall counter-intuitively reduce my blogging commitments.

This Lifestyle blog: CatherineVaughansWorld.com will not have a set blogging schedule. This will be my ad-hoc blog. Namely blog posts will definitely be posted early April to see how I have come along with my New Year’s Resolutions, to see which goals I’ve stuck with analyse what has worked and hasn’t worked. Any inspiring ideas or disappointments will be posted online.

My Arts & Culture blog NouveauBohemian.com will have only x1 article posted on the 15th of each month and a once a season Bohemian selection.

HerefordshireWriters.co.uk remains a once monthly article editorial. (Writing plans remain the same.)

 

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A New Style for 2017

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So last night I just randomly decided to change the entire design and style of my lifestyle blog CatherineVaughansWorld.com.

This choice has been determined by my recent foraying back into the blogs I enjoyed back in the day. On my gap Year in 2009 and in my first year of University I was dipping into to blogs by Leo Babauta, Tim Ferriss and Cal Newport. I became frustrated as well as deeply affected by the horrid things that had been going on in my life since my teens and needed a new outlook on life, a vision of how life could be. I was insatiably materialistic with a huge propensity to excess (in attitude and habit) in those days and knew it was not the way to be. The bloggers and writers mentioned above are somewhat collectively LifeHackers, a term fellow British readers may not be too familiar with as life-hacking techniques are not particularly present in our culture. It’s a very American concept and one that I didn’t realize I had been doing since my teen years before I discovered these online writers.

I felt the need for transformation on my blogs. Things had been brewing for a while. I had successfully updated, revitalized and changed the entire layout of my arts blog NouveauBohemian.com and now it was time for my namesake Lifestyle blog to get the same treatment.

This former website design and aesthetic is simply too much. Too colourful, too bold. It’s crowded and distracted. It’s time for change. Time for simplicity. Time to pare things down to the bare essentials.

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It reflects the old me that had to be bold and striking but now I’m fed up of that approach and crave simplicity and spareness, even boringness.

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I want to go back to the roots of my reading and writing style. Previously I thought my obsession with efficiency and discipline would reduce my artsy credibility so to speak, but then I realized that firstly those qualities shape me and enable me to find pieces of success in the arts field and secondly fellow admirers of productivity tips are actually quite Bohemian. The likes of Ferriss, Babauta and Newport are often contrarian in their views. They’re non-conformist types. If anything efficiency and productivity are non-conformist traits because there’s so little presence of it in daily conventional life despite it being necessary for a functional life.

I was watching an interview with ZenHabits.net blogger Leo and FourHourWorkWeek.com blogger Tim and realizing these guys are the Zen Bohemians that Laren Stover writes about in her book The Bohemian Manifesto.

Something else I’ve also had to accept in life is that these kinds of people are basically the top in their field and that such discussions in the video just do not happen in real life, sadly. It’s not a typical topic of discussion at all… Though it seems quite natural to me….

I no longer have to choose either side as both sides of myself the artistic, romantic and sensitive dreamer can work in unison with my detail-orientated, productivity-seeking and perfectionist tendencies.

I’m glad I’m embracing this side of myself again and also discussing such writers because they’ve been so influential on my life and are cumulatively a supreme bank of knowledge. I hope maybe some readers of this blog will check out these incredible writers mentioned on this post:

Tim Ferriss
His books, USA Link: http://amzn.to/2ikY071
UK Link: http://amzn.to/2hkiSvm
Blog:
FourHourWorkWeek.com

Cal Newport
His books, USA Link: http://amzn.to/2i0nLGT
UK Link: http://amzn.to/2il9RC1
Blog:
CalNewport.com/blog

Leo Babauta
His books, USA Link: http://amzn.to/2hQGTZE
UK Link: http://amzn.to/2hgA4QI
Blogs:
ZenHabits.net
Mnmlist.com/archive/


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Marketing Fundamentals Workshop, Skylon Court, Rotherwas Hereford

Workshop lead by Ben Kinnaird Twitter:@BenKinnaird an Event speaker for Fastershire (Twitter: @Fastershire) plus Jack McCaughtrie (Twitter: @Jack_Mac100)

In the newly opened Skylon Court I found this workshop via Hereford Business Solutions Centre. This location is sleek, spacious and provides places to rent for office use.

Here is an overview of the key points discussed as well as my own notes from the exercises we did. Notably this was a 2 hour free workshop on Friday 27th May 2016 12-2pm.

Key Points:

  • Cultivate an elevator pitch meaning a short soundbite that accurately and effectively describes what your business is. The term derives from the scenario where one is in a lift with someone whereby you only have 30 seconds to inform and impress someone about your work. It should only be a few sentences around 30 sec – a couple minutes to utter.

Application:

I brought my Hello Kitty A4 notepad and gave a scribble of my thoughts. We were advised to keep the following in mind in order to fully assess all the components of our business/work and then streamline it into a en elevator pitch.

  1. Assess everything you do in company/work.
  2. Explain how your company/work benefits people.
  3. What would people like about what you do?

I jotted down these answers:

1- I write and sell multi-genre fiction and non-fiction books for young adults with a creative, caring and sharing perspective.

2- Help people feel less alone and feel connected and inspired through literature.

3- People like my honesty, creativity and enthusiasm.

They also suggested creating an alternative pitch if you customer based is mixed e.g. age/country/gender.

  • It was suggested to have the Company’s Marketing account emails under Gmail as it can be linked to Adwords and Mailchimp accounts and as it’s a Google ‘product/service’ it ranks better with SEO (Search Engine Optimization.)
  • They also stressed the importance of having a LinkedIn account.

Tips about building/maintaining your website(s).

Include a page that fully explains 1) What you do? 2) How you help people? 3) How to contact you?

They mentioned “Google Search Console” which helps determine how your website works i.e. keywords used to find your site. (I had never heard of this Google tool before so that was useful to discover.)

There was an activity where the websites of a couple attendees were put on the screen so they could get feedback on where their sites may require tweaking to improve it’s SEO and tips of that nature. 

It does not apply to my line of work but Herefordshire businesses would be advised to be have a Google Business page i.e. so when a search enquiry is Googled such as “Hereford cafe” you see those search entries of a business with ratings and link on Google Map presented first.

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Final notes:

  • All company/business LOGO/PHOTOS/VIDEOS be kept in a x1 folder on computer
  • Cyber security tip, share info on two mediums. E.g. if hiring a web designer to change site and they require login send username on email and password on another platform e.g. mobile text! (Excellent tip!)
  • Attendees also emailed the presentation slides too!

So all in all I was pleased with what I’ve learnt at the workshop and it’s all very relevant and accessible to use for my creative business as an author. Lunch was also provided and it was scrumptious. A relaxed, informative and very helpful workshop that i would recommend for others to attend. 

Photos of this workshop taken by Local Photographer Sally Corrick found here.

Please do visit the Twitter sites of the Workshop speakers at the start of the article and I would very much encourage people to look out for upcoming events/workshops provided by Hereford Business Solution Centre because they have speakers covering a range of topics from a variety of company’s all across the Midlands. Hereford Business Solutions Centre is run by the team responsible for the highly successful Wolverhampton Business Solutions Centre, based at the University of Wolverhampton Science Park.

Book review: It’s not how good you are, it’s how good you want to be: The world’s best selling book

This Tuesday I spent the day in Cardiff and mooched about in various shops. I popped into Urban Outfitters and discovered this book; a beautiful, compact and monochromatic guide on success by Phaidon publishers.

It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want to Be: The world’s best selling book

I don’t necessarily agree with everything in the book but here are the Top 5 golden lines:

  • Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity
  • Have you noticed how the cleverest people at school are not those who make it in life?
  • If you get stuck, draw with a different pen
  • When it can’t be done, do it. If you don’t do it, it doesn’t exist.

  • Present on Tuesday

Decluttering with Dimples! Check out Justin Klosky.

Mr Klosky has O.C.D. but he has embraced it and founded a company dedicated to providing solutions to clutter: Organise & Create Discipline.

His advice is invaluable and I am cramming up on his tips in time for New Years so I can enter 2016 in a calmer and more organised state of mind.

I’ve also been creating my own solutions and lifehacks to organise my paperwork ( I have a penchant for post-it notes that is getting out of hand!) Stay tuned for upcoming posts on how I’m transforming my work space.

NEW Book: “How to Cure Eczema Naturally” Release Date: Thursday 3rd September 2015

Hey guys,

So my 1st Health & Well-being guide: “How to Cure Eczema Naturally: a quick self-help guide to healing your eczema and learn the secrets of healthy skin will be released Thursday 3rd September 2015.

Available in paperback on Amazon: 9781515146537 + ebook

Top 5 Tips for Healthy skin (for eczema sufferers):

  1. Moisturise your hands after washing them. A great hand cream is Neutrogena’s Norwegian formula concentrated unscented hand cream. A 50ml hand-size package can slip in your handbag to be with you no matter where you are.
  2. Drink green tea! It contains antioxidants, fights free radicals thus preventing damage to skin cells and tissue.
  3. Keep you home very clean! Dust, dander and pet hairs can irritate your skin so ensure to vacuum and wash your bed linens once a week to keep your home fresh.
  4. In the shower use a hypoallergenic shower gel like Sanex’s zero 0% once skin is cleansed add olive or coconut oil to dry patches and shower off.
  5. Use only a non-bio clothing detergent and a sensitive accompanying fabric softener.

booky2

♡ Love your Bed ♡ Treat yourself to Fresh, New, Pretty bedding.

JpegSince the start of this year I have been carefully and patient purchasing new bedding for myself. And this weekend I finally has all the necessary parts to give my bed a fresh start to Spring! First off was an intense steam-cleaning of every side of the mattress, the headboard and the rest of the bed using my H20x5- 5 in 1 Steam Cleaner. It was a laborious task!
JpegAnyhooo, in Debenhams this Duvet by Fogarty was on sale. 70% off it’s £80 RRP. It is the 12 tog Soft & Warm duvet with “supremely soft hollowfibre filling encased in a luxury microfibre cover.” It is non-allergenic, polyester lining and filling alongside being machine washable. At £24 I was very pleased with this selection.

JpegThe only slight drawback was that is was not as thick and plush as I had imagined. There’s definitely a big difference between a 12 tog and a heavenly plush 13.5 tog duvet that we have elsewhere in the house. Oh well!

JpegAs I have sensitive skin this M & S Home anti-allergy mattress protector (£25) is vital. The cover is 100% cotton with a 100% polyester dacron® allerban® filling. Although it states filling it is not noticeable-very thin. JpegThen we have the bedsheets. This perfect pastel pink shade was from Dunelm and a delightful combed cotton. It was £24.99 and surprising it acme with of course the fitted bed sheet, a flat sheet and pillowcase! I had simply done a click and collect on it because I loved the colour and the fact that it was combed cotton the extras were a nice surprise. The downside to the fitted sheet is that the seams at the corner do not run vertically down they are bizarrely diagonal. JpegOn too more prettier items! The Laura Ashley matching ” Couture Rose” printed  duvet cover and pillowcase (sold separately) are 100% cotton, 200 thread count. The cover retailed at £60, the case £22. But of course I bought these pretties in the January sale at 40% off: £36 and £13.20. 🙂
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JpegThis is the opposite side of the floral duvet, both sides have a slight sheen.JpegAll together! It is very girly-like me! 🙂Jpeg