Monthly Archives

March 2017

In Essays on
March 26, 2017

How to Hijack Your Social Media Habit and Get More Done

Social media | Productivity | Productivity tips | Motivation | Blogging | Blogger | Writing | Writer | Happiness | Wellbeing | Writing tips

Confession: I waste a shocking amount of time on social media.


Doing what exactly? I couldn’t tell you.


Throughout each and every day, I find myself on Facebook. It doesn’t matter that my timeline is filled with blurry selfies and numerous baby pics… I’m there.


I’ll then go on to Twitter, where endless scrolling ensues. And then Instagram, to watch countless Stories of other people’s dinners and green juices.


Call it my holy trinity of unproductively, if you will.


Sure, browsing social media on the regular can be fun. But fulfilling? Not exactly…


The fact is, social media is dumbing us all down. Overusing it impacts your short-term memory formation and ability to focus. Damn. 

So when I stumbled on David Kadvy’s Medium post, I had somewhat of an awakening.



It turns out that science to your social media addiction is simple and solvable. Hallelujah!

How social media addiction works:


Our bad habits all begin with a trigger, this trigger then leads to an action, which then leads to a reward. And, over time, you build your investment. The cycle repeats and repeats and repeats.



If you take Facebook, for example. At countless stages of the day, you feel the trigger (probably a tingle of anxiety or boredom), which leads you to check Facebook (which is the action). You’ll sometimes get likes or comments (which is the reward), and the photos, posts and friend updates are the investment that keeps you coming back.


So what if you decided to do something to expand your mind every time you felt that trigger, instead? Let’s take reading as an example.

How to solve your social media addition:


  • Reduce friction. Ever wondered why you don’t open a book in the same way you browse social media? Well, opening a book feels like a big commitment. It’s easier to go on social media if you only have a few minutes to spare, right? But time is just a concept. You need to give yourself permission to read tiny chunks of books.
  • Hijack your trigger. Every time you feel your social media trigger, instead of reaching for your mobile device, grab a book. It’s best if it’s a physical book at first, because a mobile device is too tempting.
  • Replace your action. Now, start reading! Even if it’s just a page. Remember, you have to eliminate any friction that makes you think a book is too time-consuming. Because the reality is, reading a book (even a page a day) is an investment in your future. And let’s face it, I’d much rather be learning than seeing another one of Aunt Brenda’s dodgy selfies.



By hijacking your bad habits, you can build a life full of healthier, happier habits. The brain-growing kind of habits. Yes. Please.

Try it for a week and let me know how it goes.


If anyone needs me, I’ll be reading. One page at a time.

 

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In Interviews on
March 26, 2017

A Conversation with Poet and One-Woman Movement Melissa Tripp

Melissa Tripp is a Boston-based author, poet, entrepreneur and one-woman movement. Her work explores and expresses themes of love, vulnerability, empowerment, simplicity, personal narrative and hypothetical selves. Melissa’s words empower. They inspire. They intrigue. They heal. I’m so excited to be introducing you to her work. A few of my favourites include:

“you owe yourself: more care. more dialogue. more solitude. more reflection. more honesty. more room to be human. more healing. more love.”

“don’t waste your beautiful mind doing ugly things.”

“today, commit to nurturing the most important relationship you’ll ever have: you. enjoy your own company and explore your magic.”

Here, we discuss how to make money from your words (without losing your integrity), finding the courage to share your voice and more.


I’m curious about your writing journey so far. Where did it all begin for you and how has your relationship with writing changed over time?

Think about the vulnerability it takes to love someone. It’s not something you can forge in an instant, it happens over time. Writing, for me, has been relatively the same thing. The same investment, the same empowerment, the same discomfort. Gradually, then all at once. I think sometimes people have these preconceived notions about the life of a writer that are pure fantasy realm.

My personal journey as a writer, articulating my heart with no armor, is constantly shifting and shaping things in me. Things aren’t always in perfect sync. Words don’t automate closure and healing. But, they’ve made it easier for me to navigate the things I have yet to understand. The things I have yet to make peace with. 

 
Your words are so moving — simple yet so powerful. What is inspiration for you? Is it a particular book, a place, a mindset?

It’s not something I can pinpoint. Inspiration is this beautifully strange, complex, fragile thing that feels like travel. Inspiration is movement. Fleeting, mostly— there are no literal translations. Inspiration finds me in the brief moments, in the prolonged moments, in the moments I wish would stand still. Higher frequencies, secret structures, multidimensional escapes.

Sometimes i think we complicate inspiration trying to dissect it and confine it to one room. I’m learning to just let it be magic and mystery. 

 

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In Lists on
March 19, 2017

52 Writing Prompts to Inspire Your Next Blog Post

Writing prompts | Blogging | Blog | Blogger | Blog tips | Writing inspiration | Blogging advice | Freelance Writing | Freelance writer | Blogging tips | Inspiration | Ideas |

Writing fatigue? You’re not alone. Here, I’ve gathered 52 writing prompts to inspire your future blog posts, personal essays and more.

 

Cheryl Strayed’s writing prompts (as featured in Tools of Titans)

Write about a time you realised you were mistaken.

Write about a lesson you learned the hard way.

Write about a time you were inappropriately dressed for the occasion.

Write about something you lost that you’ll never get back.

Write about a time when you knew you’d done the right thing.

Write about something you don’t remember.

Write about your darkest teacher.

Write about a memory of a physical injury.

Write about when you know when it was over.

Write about being loved.

Write about what you were really thinking.

Write about how you found your way back

Write about the kindness of strangers.

Write about why you could not do it.

Write about why you did.

And a few of my own…

Write about the woman who has had the greatest impact on your life.

Write about the man who has had the greatest impact on your life.

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In Essays on
March 12, 2017

Why Your Quarter-Life Crisis Is Actually a GREAT Thing

I had breakfast with a friend earlier.

As we sat and discussed our week over fresh mint tea, I could feel a confession brewing.

“I’m having a quarter-life crisis” she finally declared. “I’m a mess.”

I smiled. A quarter-life crisis. We all get them.

There’s my blogger friend who wonders if she should just get a full-time job. My copywriter friend who worries the corporate life is killing her creativity for good. My actress friend who wants to make art, but equally doesn’t want to starve to death. My high-flying lawyer friend who is already bored of making top bank…

The list goes on, and on, and on.

I’m no exception.

I mean, I certainly look like an adult (eye bags and all). And, as far as societal measures of “success” go, I’m right on track. I have a good job, a great relationship, a home I love and a side hustle I truly enjoy. #KillingIt, no?

But fulfilment. Fulfilment. The long game. THAT is what keeps me up at night.

“Am I in the right career? Am I happy in this career? Will I ever be happy in ANY career? I’m in my mid-twenties… aren’t I supposed to, you know, have it SORTED by now? I kind of want to go to Bali and live off the land. I also want to be “successful” and ride the corporate ladder. Wait… Do I only want to do that because society tells me to do that? What does successful even mean? DAMN IT.”

If you’re reading this, the chances are you’re familiar with your own kind of quarter-life crisis, too. Quarter-life crises happen to the best of us.

We complain about them. We feel defined by them. We wish we didn’t have to deal with them.

But what if your quarter-life crisis was, in fact, a good thing?

Hear me out…

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In Interviews on
March 8, 2017

Meet The Start-Up Founder Empowering Muslim Women

Nafisa Bakkar

I met Nafisa Bakkar at a networking event and was instantly impressed. Her company, Amaliah.com, was founded to address the difficulty Muslim women face when searching for clothes that are modest and fashionable. Now, having grown over the last 18 months, Amaliah is fast becoming a platform for the voices of Muslim women in over 85 countries.

For International Women’s Day, I spoke with Nafisa about her vision for Amaliah, the unglamorous side of start-up life and how she’s working hard to help give Muslim women a voice.


I’m so inspired by your story. What was the catalyst for starting Amaliah? And once you had the idea, how did you get started?

I realised that it was a genuine problem. It being Muslim women finding it hard to find clothes that are modest and fashionable. I’ve always wanted to empower others and I realised that fashion is a really strong vehicle to exert your own identity. It shouldn’t be a struggle for a Muslim woman to find clothes to wear.

Past this, I realised the Muslim woman’s voice is hugely unrepresented. We’ve since evolved into a platform that represents the many different voices in the Muslim community through our content contributors.

I started by learning as much as I could about startups. I read books, watched videos, spoke to people who had done it.

I thought it was very important to build some sort of foundation of knowledge. I then learnt to code so that I could go to the next level: building the first version.

I love how Amaliah is built upon the goal of empowering muslim women. Can you speak to the idea of reclaiming the muslim female voice and narrative? How do you plan on expanding upon that this year?

We plan on expanding to more countries with our contributors. Our community is from 85 different countries and I want to reflect that in our voices section.

For so many years, people have spoken on behalf of Muslim women whether it be in the media or even Muslim male scholars. It’s time that our own voices and stories were surfaced. It shouldn’t be a struggle to find the opinions and voice of a Muslim woman in the mainstream, but for now it is.

Ultimately, we want to send out the message that you can be who you are as Muslim women, hold the beliefs that you have, and be a person of purpose and impact in a society.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learnt about yourself since starting Amaliah? What have been the challenges and/or sacrifices?

First part: the toll starting a company takes on your mental health is a hard hit. I think the start-up world is VERY glamorised and people don’t speak enough about the fact that it’s bloody hard. The biggest challenge I’ve had is managing the toll it takes on your mental health. I think you sacrifice a few things — a big fat pay check for one, and also your relationships. But, at the same time, I remind myself that doing what I love is a luxury and it comes with the choice.

You’ve successfully raised seed funding and turned Amaliah into a monetised business. In doing so, how has your definition of ‘success’ changed?

I’m a real success skeptic. I always say don’t believe the hype. Raising money is not success, neither is being in Forbes or the Metro. But people seem to see these things as a sign of success.

Looking at your background, you seem to have always had entrepreneurial ambitions and ’thought big’. How have you managed to stay motivated and not be restricted by your own self-limitations?

I always say that where we are now is very much down to other people. I have constantly surrounded myself with people who help pick you up when you’re in those low moments or full of self doubt. I’ve also accepted that motivation dips. I think people think if you run your own company then that means you jump out of bed every day, raring to go.

There are periods when you won’t feel motivated and you’ll want to give up and that’s okay.

 


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In Essays on
March 5, 2017

How to Stop Holding Yourself Back. Forever.

How to stop holding yourself back

This post will help you identify, understand and change the self-sabotaging behaviours that are holding you back. In life, work, love + beyond. 

 

Note: I wrote this immediately after reading Jen Sincero’s incredible book, You Are A Badass. If you do one thing today, order that book and start over. Seriously, it will change your life. (No hyperbole required).


Ready? Let’s do this.

ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR SUBCONSCIOUS

It’s time to wake up.

When you were born, you were a blank canvas.

Over time, however, you started receiving messages from the people around you about the “way things are”.

You started filling up with a lifetime’s worth of beliefs, which mostly have nothing to do with who you are or what is even necessarily true.

Need some examples?

“People like us never make it. Making money is hard. It’s impossible to make money out of creativity. Entrepreneurship is only for rich kids. Security only comes with a 9–5 job.” etc. etc. etc.

The main source of these beliefs were your parents ft. society at large.

Your parents, without even realising it, passed on their beliefs, which they learnt from their parents and they learnt from their parents…

But none of these beliefs have anything to do with your reality or who YOU are. It’s time to wake up.

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In Interviews on
March 4, 2017

Cait Flanders on Life After a Two-Year Shopping Ban

Cait Flanders

Cait Flanders is one of my favourite people on the Internet. She started her blog as a way of documenting a journey that saw her pay off $30,000 in consumer debt and get rid of 75% of her material possessions. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, she then embarked on a two-year shopping ban (yes, you read that correctly!) and shared her learnings along the way.

 

But what I love most about Cait is that she’s not afraid to get candid on a topic so many of us shy away from: money. In this conversation, we discuss her upcoming memoir, The Year of Less, how inherited financial behaviours affect us all, and how her definition of what it means to be ‘wealthy’ has changed over the years.

 


 

I can’t wait to read your upcoming book, The Year of Less! What has the process of writing it taught you about yourself so far?

Oh my goodness, so many things! It demanded that I improve as a writer and editor, and required me to be even more vulnerable than I have been on my blog. I wrote about things I haven’t shared with some of my closest friends, and found myself wiping tears off my keyboard more than a few times. But honestly, the best thing it taught me is that I’m capable of completing a project of that size. I have a tendency to look at big projects, like a book, and feel like it’s a mountain I’m unable to climb – so I procrastinate, put it off and say things like “maybe one day”. Having a deadline forced me to work on it every day and ultimately cross the finish line. Now I know that I’m capable of completing any of the creative projects I dream up.

 

How has your definition of what it means to be ‘wealthy’ changed over time?

It’s funny, but when I think about the word wealthy, I do picture what the media shows us: people with lots of money, big houses, cars and maybe a boat. But because I didn’t grow up around anything that resembled that picture, that’s never what I’ve imagined would or could be in my future. Years ago, I probably would have said my personal definition of being wealthy would have meant having a net worth of $1 million – and for no real reason, except that’s a random number that used to get thrown around in the early 2000s. “Save for your future and you could retire a millionaire!”

Now, money in the bank is only a small portion of what it would mean for me to be wealthy. I can’t deny that having savings helps me feel more comfortable. But true wealth, in my eyes, is being in control of my time and having healthy family/friends to spend it with.

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In Essays on
March 2, 2017

Why I’m Glad My Online Business Failed

Online business

Here’s a secret that few know about me. When I was 19, I started a business. But here’s the punchline: it failed.

Let’s rewind…

I was young, bored in university and frustrated by how slowly my life seemed to be going. I wanted to do something, ANYTHING… and that anything turned into an online clothing business.

Of course, I had no e-commerce experience, but I knew I loved vintage style and making money. So I got some friends together, customised some clothes and shot some photos.

Although thinking about the figures is pretty painful, our first collection sold well, with little effort. With a profit margin of 50% or so, it didn’t seem like such a bad idea. What could go wrong?

I would search charity shops, flea markets and terribly photographed eBay listings for amazing clothes to style up, and then sell on for double the price. As I saw the orders come through, it became an obsession. “You mean I can sit here and turn £50 into £100 in minutes? WOW.” I thought.

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In Lists on
March 1, 2017

7 Apps to Help You Blog Smarter, Not Harder

Blogging | Blogging tips | Blogger | Blog | Social media | Success | Motivation | Productivity | Productivity tips | Creativity | Social |

Running a successful blog, with a day job and social life in tow, can be hard. But you know what helps? Apps.

Here, I’ve rounded up the apps that have made my blogging life faster, smarter and easier to manage. From apps that help you practice self-care on the go, to blog traffic-building apps you can utilise in seconds, I’ve got you covered.


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