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In Essays on
May 29, 2017

Why Your Day Job Doesn’t Have to Kill Your Creativity

Ignore the millennial myths. Here’s how people throughout history have proven that having a day job can inform and even inspire your creativity.


How many times this week did you think, feel, or say: “I wish I had more time?”


Time, or our lack of it, is a modern-day obsession, amiright? We all wish we had more of it, we wish we had more control of it and we wish our need to make money didn’t take so much of it.


Because if we had more time, THEN we would write that book, go on that trip, start that project. Of course we would. If only we had more time.


And it kind of makes sense.


Day jobs can be, well, draining. The bored, miserable people you see on the commuter train are a testament to exactly that. It’s so easy to feel like your life is just a series of sleep, work, repeat. Damn.


But what if you decided to start viewing your day job as an enabler rather than a constrainer?


What if your lack of time is, in fact, a mindset?


What if it isn’t your day job that’s holding you back, it’s you?


T.S. Eliot wrote The Waste Land while working as a banker, because he liked the fact his creative pursuits weren’t being strained by the need to make a living. Kurt Vonnegut got published while working as a car dealer. Lewis Carroll was actually a full-time mathematician called Charles Lutwidge Dodgson. J. R. R. Tolkien spent his whole life working in academia. Lord of the Rings was his side hustle.


Kate White, who is my favourite modern-day example, was the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazine and, in her spare time, penned seven (yes, SEVEN) NYT best-selling thrillers. If that isn’t proof that a demanding day job can actually give you a greater mental flow, I don’t know what is.


And what about those who create because, not in spite of their day job?


Charles Bukowski wrote brilliant prose about everyday, dead-end characters because he was a postman. Charlotte Bronte created the harsh worlds of Jane Eyre and Villette because of her day job as a governess.


That’s right. Day jobs can even inform and inspire a creative project. Because your day job doesn’t kill your creativity. You do.


And if those badasses made magic during their stolen moments? Then so can I, and so can you.


I’m not out here saying it’s easy. It’s not. Being more mindful of your time and setting boundaries with your day job is hard. But it’s possible, if you really want it to be.


It’s possible to add 30 minutes of exercise to your day because it really does give you more energy. It’s possible to wake up 30 minutes earlier so you can give your writing your best mind, not your overflowing email inbox. It’s possible to say no to things you didn’t really want to attend anyway. It’s possible to be mindful of where your mental energy is going and take some of it back for yourself. It’s possible.


Your day job can only define or constrain you if you allow it to.


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In Essays on
May 14, 2017

A No-Bullshit Guide to Making More Money (Without Burning Out)

So many smart women I know are settling. For unfulfilling opportunities. For jobs they actually kind of hate. And for less money than they’re worth. Maybe you’re one of them. A few years ago, I was, too, spending years in jobs that paid me little and took a lot.

But then something shifted in me. I realised that my time WAS worth more. Much more, thank ya very much. So, I started approaching my relationship with money in a whole new way. And guess what? I’ve been happier ever since. While I’m not saying more money is the key to more happiness (spoiler alert: it totally isn’t), it helps. Without sounding totally Wall Street: money really is power.

Allow me to introduce realistic, no-bullshit ways you can start making more money without working yourself into the ground. Here’s to making more money without burning out.

Know your worth

The first step to upping your money game is accepting that you DESERVE more money. It may sound strange… because who doesn’t want more money for books and shoes, right?! But actually, if you dig deeper, you may find that you’re stopping yourself from believing you deserve more money (without even realising it).

In fact, MANY of us (me included!) are held back by inherited ideas from our parents or our upbringings, something Jen Sincero describes brilliantly in her book, You Are a Badass at Making Money: Master the Mindset of WealthBut you deserve as much money as you want, and then some. Repeat after me:

It’s ok to like money. It’s ok to want more money. I can totally make more money.

Because you can.

Research, research, research

Playing the corporate game? Check Glassdoor for other salaries at your company and beyond. (And, FYI, if you work for a small company, you can still check out industry standards.) Doing the influencer thing? Start here. Writing skills to pay the bills? Who Pays Writers, an anonymous crowd-sourced list, has got you covered.

Oh, and politely ask people. Seriously. Ask your friends IRL, email people you follow online and everyone in-between. You’ll be surprised by how open people are, if you’re willing to start the conversation from a genuine place.

Plan ahead before the rest

Ok, so your company gives promotions and pay rises once a year. But, for the love of god, DON’T wait until your annual review to start discussions! Planning ahead, when it comes to being paid more, is everything

This is a piece of advice I wish I’d heard years ago: You need to be asking your boss what you can expect SIX months before the formal process begins. Yes, SIX! They may not have the answer on the spot, but they’ll be aware that you want more for yourself. They’re not mind readers, after all. Here’s exactly how to play it:

In your next 1–1, say the following:

I wanted to check in about my progress, and make sure I’m on track for a pay rise at the end of the year?” Pause. Breathe, girl, breathe. “As you know, I’ve done <INSERT YOUR EXTRA RESPONSIBILITIES/GREAT ACHIEVEMENTS HERE> and I want to make sure that will be reflected when my pay is reviewed.

Back your case up with facts and evidence of everything you’ve taken on. Come armed with industry research and other job adverts similar to yours, but with higher salaries. Get on your manager’s radar before the rest of the team. Because if you don’t start fighting your corner early, who will?

Don’t accept the first offer. Ever. 

Don’t ever accept a job without a polite conversation about your salary. EVER. You may think negotiating is awkward, but do you know what’s even more awkward? Being in the same job 18 months later, being paid a salary that you actively chose not to negotiate. Not negotiating is saying no to yourself.

Remember: Once you accept a job, you give up the strongest chance you’ll ever have to get a higher salary. Nothing else, apart from that first contract, is a given. Pro tip: Negotiating actually shows you have self-respect and know your worth. Don’t be too grateful.


A closed mouth doesn’t get fed.

This Jay Z quote has been guiding me throughout my whole adult life. In work, in love, and most certainly when it comes to my money. Let it guide you, too.

In Essays on
April 27, 2017

A Letter to You, the Only Woman at the Table

A letter to you, the only woman at the table,


You were recently hired as a manager at a great company. You earned it. You feel fantastic. You are fantastic. But I know how scared you are.


I see you in that meeting. Eager. Engaged. Intimidated.  


Your shoulders tense. Your mouth kept shut. Your mind in overdrive:


“What if I say the wrong thing? What if my understanding of this is totally incorrect? What if I seem too pushy? What if I sound… stupid?”  


There’s the Business Development guy who went to Harvard, after all. The Product guy who speaks part-English, part-corporate bullsh*t. The over-caffeinated engineer who has a ton of great tech experience.


But you got the job. The hiring managers, men and women, believed in you. And why wouldn’t they? You’ve worked your ass off for years. Sacrificed birthdays and social events to put in those extra hours. You made difficult choices the majority of your peers didn’t. You’ve earned it.


Oh, and did I mention you’re capable as hell? You’re smart. Enthusiastic. Dedicated. Full of ideas. Accomplished. The list goes on and on and on…


And still, your biggest concern is how to not sound “stupid” in a meeting full of men…


You’ve been on edge here ever since one of your co-workers was visibly taken aback by your age. The truth is, he’s intimidated. You don’t know this, though, because you see yourself only through his eyes.


This is a lesson you will have to learn: To see yourself and your abilities through your own eyes and to love yourself through your own heart.


You’ve spent too many days and years trying to conform to ideals that aren’t your own.


I understand how and why that happened now. It started in your earliest school memories: being called “bossy” from the age of 4. Being unfairly overlooked for various opportunities from the age of 9. Being laughed at for crying afterwards. That damaged your self-esteem. It distorted your self-belief.


But if only you could see what I see now:


A smart human with emotional intelligence, integrity and so much ability. You have so much to give. Because you are a girl. Because you are a woman.


The trajectory of your life will change the day you start using your voice. Using your voice, although brave, doesn’t mean being fearless. It means using your fear and vulnerability to your advantage, as the fuel to power your dreams.


Want to know the best part? One day, you’ll be pulling up a chair for other women, just like you. Eager. Engaged. But this time less alone, because of you.


I am so proud of you.


P.S  You can stop looking for ‘your place’ now. Your place is in the room.


Your place is right here, at the table.


In Essays on
April 16, 2017

A Reminder That You *Already* Have It All

What does it really mean to “have it all”?

It’s a debate that’s been raging since former Cosmopolitan editor, Helen Gurley Brown claimed we could have it all back in 1962. (Her definition of ‘all’ being love, sex and money.)

Some still agree, of course, like Deloitte boss Cathy Engelbert. Others aren’t so sure. “It’s time to stop fooling ourselves that we can have it all in this economic climate” stated Anne-Marie Slaughter in a viral piece for The Atlantic.

I ask because, minus the kids, I have it all. The mortgage (a millennial with a mortgage… I know). The love. The great day job. The side hustle. The social life. The goals.

I’ve got my shit together and I’m completely burnt out.

Why? Well…

It’s not enough to simply do your 9-6 job well and go home to vegetate on the sofa any more, amiright? You need to do yoga, and meditate, and be mindful, too. The hustle isn’t sexy without self-care. Self-care isn’t sexy without the hustle.

Us millennials don’t want to be seen as total workaholics, either. The Marissa Mayer vibe is no longer #goals. Killing it at your day job isn’t enough for our generation. We’re millennials, y’all. We’re meant to be entrepreneurial and creative and the right amount of “f*ck the system” without totally disregarding the system.

The Internet seems to have decided that being a #girlboss is, in fact, a hybrid of Sheryl Sandberg and a Bali-based yoga instructor. You’ve got to be successful, Instagrammable AND zen.

But I’ve tried desperately hard to have it all and be it all and it’s left me… well, kind of miserable. Creatively depleted. Unbalanced. (Hey, I never said I didn’t like the yoga way of life).

I’ve been the boss. I’ve done the sun salutations. I’ve ran the side hustles. I’ve worked hard. (Seriously hard. The unglamorous kind of hard.). I’ve flown business. I’ve saved a lot of money. I’ve spent a lot of money. I’ve travelled around the world. I’ve Instagram’ed the world. I’ve designed my life based on what I thought I wanted. I’ve been the boss of my own life.

And honestly? Experiencing it all and being it all is, in many ways, incredible. But here’s the secret I’ve learned:

“Having it all” isn’t about the monumental life events — the promotion, the wedding, the mortgage — but, instead, the moments. The pizza shared with your best friend, the laughter on the phone with your mum, the song sung at the top of your lungs. That’s the stuff that’s truly worth chasing and having. That’s all any of us ever truly have.

Everything else is just filler.  



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In Essays on
April 14, 2017

A Simple Way to Have a Better Relationship with Yourself

Relationship with self | Self-care | Self-development

Daily practices to help you feel better, sleep better and, most importantly, strengthen your relationship with yourself. 

As soon as you get up:

Sit still for a few minutes

Take a few breaths. Box breathing is always good: breathe in for four counts, breathe out for four, and relax for four. Do this a few times.

Then ask yourself: How am I feeling physically? Acknowledge any aches and pains.

Then ask yourself: How am I feeling mentally? Acknowledge how you are in your mind. Acknowledge your mind

Then ask yourself: How am I feeling emotionally? Acknowledge the emotions that arise.

Set your mind, body and emotions good intentions for the day ahead.

Before you go to bed:

Repeat the same before going to bed and set your mind, body and emotions good intentions for a restful night

Congratulate yourself on one thing you felt you did well today.

Be grateful for 3 things in your day. They don’t have to be big things.

If you had a bad day or bad situations in your day, ask: What can I learn from that? What can I do differently next time? Always with kindness to yourself.


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In Essays on
April 2, 2017

5 Tricks to Help You Land a Well-Paid Job You Love

Career tips | Career advice | Work advice | Job | Life | Job tips | Success | Successful

This article was originally posted on

My upbringing wasn’t exactly exciting. I grew up in a sleepy seaside town, famous for having the oldest average age in the UK (71 years old, in case you’re wondering). My father worked as a mailman and my mother is an immigrant from an impoverished part of São Paulo, Brazil. When I wasn’t finding ways to skip class, I was daydreaming about how to move to the city; the only internship opportunities for miles were at a local newspaper and an accounting firm (both of which rejected me several times, FYI).

But I persevered. I sent out emails. Woke up at crazy hours. Commuted. Worked a telesales job selling solar panels. Saved up to move to the city. I sent out more emails, and then I sent out more emails. And sure enough, that tenacity eventually paid off: I landed my first internship at a small magazine.

It was here that I started learning the skills that would eventually take me from unpaid Vogue intern to Senior Manager at a top tech company in just four years. It wasn’t easy, of course, but this is the real takeaway: You don’t need family connections or an Ivy League education to build a well-paid career you love in your twenties. The road might look different (and difficult), but it is possible.

Whether you’re starting from the beginning or starting over, I’m sharing the LinkedIn tips that got me noticed, the interview skills that got me the job, and how I progressed once I got there:


Even if you love your current job, your LinkedIn profile should always be updated.

Let’s start with the basics: you need keywords, stat. LinkedIn SEO is real, y’all. But rather than referencing the job you currently have, tailor your headline to the job you want e.g. “Sara Elliott | Copywriter | Copy Editor | Content Manager.”

Other important things to add to your LinkedIn to-do list: a concise, first-person summary and job descriptions filled with bulleted lists of achievements, not just responsibilities. It’s all about your achievements.


No matter what industry you’re in, take a portfolio with you. It’ll help guide your thoughts and show you’re prepared. (Plus, let’s be honest; a prop is always helpful!). Eight to twelve great examples is the sweet spot.

Next step: When describing your achievements, reference your impact in numbers; for example: “My subject lines saw open rates increase by 40%.” To progress, you need to be both creative and commercially-minded.

Also, make sure you ask curious questions—not about company culture or working hours, but actually useful, considered questions that show you’ve done your research.

FYI, the best question you can ever ask a hiring manager is: “What is your biggest problem right now and how I can help solve it?” Thank me later.


Pro tip: You don’t have to disclose your exact currently salary. Seriously, you don’t! Instead, play it like this: “For my recent roles, I’ve been paid in the $50,000–$60,000 range, and I’m looking for $60,000–$70,000 to move.” Think big. Their offer will often be lower, so make sure you’re starting somewhere high.

Always close with an actual, pre-rehearsed summary statement, too. An interview is like brokering a deal: you need to close it, girl.


Enthusiasm, adaptability and emotional intelligence were the three traits that earned me my recent promotion.

A can-do attitude will have a major impact on the trajectory of your career. Why? Because times have changed. You don’t get ahead just by doing your job well; you progress by making things happen that are beyond your job description. Do, ask, do, ask. The same goes for constantly educating yourself and being collaborative, not competitive.

Never tell your boss you can’t do something. You can, trust me. Say you’ll figure it out and then do so.


High achievers do things before they’re ready.

When I applied for my first managerial job, I was entry-level and totally unprepared. The salary was almost double what I was earning at the time (yes, you read that correctly!), and yet I decided to take a chance.

You have a choice: you can either sit around waiting for something to happen or you can make it happen. Change your mantra from “Why would they choose me?” to “Why the f*ck not me?” Be the girl who decided to go for it. I promise you won’t regret it.



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 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…

Read more

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.


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 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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