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For me, productivity has always been a bit of a unicorn. A beautiful, mythical creature that I could visualise but never actually come face-to-face with. It seemed like something out of the movies, or maybe something that my super-organised friends could achieve… but even then I had a feeling that it was all a lie, that they were closing their bedroom doors at night and screaming their frustrations into the pillow. (Just me, then? Ok-aaaay, never mind!)
But a year ago, when it came time to do my New Year’s resolutions, a friend gave me some great advice. She suggested scrapping my lost list of vague and unrealistic goals and instead, stick to a clear mission: to become more productive. Not to lose 10lbs by February, not to be a black belt in karate overnight, not to learn 5 languages by next year. Simply to be more productive. And to write out specific ways in which I could be.
So I made a list.
I wrote out ways to help me be more productive in work, in my relationships and in my overall health. And here’s what I came up with:
1. Do one hour of exercise 3 times a week (Productive in Health)
I always put down “exercise more” or “get fit” as one of my resolutions. But by putting a number on it, this fluffy statement suddenly became an achievable goal. And it’s one I stuck to!
That January, I signed up for a Zumba class, which I still go to twice a week. It’s a big stress-reliever, it introduced me to a new group of friends, it’s given me a huge confidence boost AND it helps me to stay in great shape! Then on the weekends I’ll either go for a swim, take a yoga class or go for a hike. I like to mix it up with my third hour of exercise for the week!
2. Make a list every morning (Productive in Work)
I know, a list within a list… sound pretty nerdy, right?! But I can’t tell you how much easier my work life has been because of my morning list-making… or how less stressed I get! As soon as I sit at my desk, before I’ve even turned my computer on, I take out my notebook. (I know, how old-school am I?!) I write down 3 to 5 things I have to achieve that day, like this:
- Email Peter re: Newsletter article
- Weekly catch-up with interns
- Draft out content plan for next week
Some people might think that putting small tasks like emailing on the list is pointless; but trust me, it give you a great sense of achievement when you get to cross it off. And having them written down in this way means they don’t keep getting pushed further and further back (so that newsletter article actually gets delivered on time!)
At the end of the day, if I’ve any outstanding items on my list, I’ll simply move them forward to tomorrow’s list. Simple!
3. Make an effort to sleep better (Productive in Work, Relationships AND Health)
I never used to sleep very well. And I didn’t really know what was causing it. But rather than passively accepting the fact that I’d get around 5 hours’ sleep a night, I decided to do something about it. To be productive, for a change!
I followed the advice of a website I’d started writing for, called The Sleep Advisor. It helps people get a better sleep and it proved invaluable to my productivity levels!
Simply put, we all need our sleep. Because without it, we become grumpy, lethargic and unmotivated. We lack the energy to put effort into our relationships, our jobs and even our own personal health. We don’t exercise, we eat unhealthy foods and we take shortcuts in work. We snap at our partners, we forget friends’ birthdays… you know the drill.
On the other hand, sleep makes us more thoughtful, more patient and more likeable people. We’re kind towards loved ones and even strangers, forgiving if they wrong us in any way. We’re more enthusiastic about our work and we become popular in the office as a result. We place greater importance on our physical and mental health, knowing that staying rested is a big factor in both.
I can say all of this with confidence because frankly, I’ve been there! I’ve been the sleep-deprived, Grumpy version and the well-rested, Happy version. And I know which of the Seven Dwarves I’d rather be!
Now I always make an effort to get at least 7 hours’ sleep a night. (If I’m feeling rundown, or especially stressed, it’s closer to 9). I do this by getting some fresh air in every day (eating lunch outside, or going for a walk after work), by doing a proper session of exercise regularly and by avoiding caffeine after 2pm. I’ve also started meditating for 20 minutes every morning; which has improved my life in so many ways, I won’t get into now!
The result? Now I sleep better than ever before. And I’ve become happier, healthier and – yep, miraculously – more productive!
So for me, the key to productivity lies in sleep.
Once you’re well rested, all the other things have a way of falling into place.
Try it for yourself – it doesn’t have to be New Year’s, try it now anyway – and see the benefits that sleep can bring to your life.
Hello there, productive peeps! I’m Sarah, newly established pillar of productivity and firm believer in all things snooze-related. When I’m not shaking my booty in Zumba, I’m sipping on tasty homemade smoothies (anything with peanut butter is a must!) or walking my dog Scroggins on the beach. How’s that for productivity?!
Our beautiful Bahamaland was impacted by the monstrous Hurricane Matthew this week. Amidst the hustle & bustle of restoration for this natural disaster in the aftermath, there were a few bright spots along the way. Here are my top 5 moments of the week!
1. Taken to Cloud Nine –This for both the chocoholic and non-chocoholic alike, as the smooth milk chocolate wafers are accented with hints of hazelnut flavor. A colleague had shared how wonderful this product tasted and this week I spotted out the corner of my eye. Being a fan of nutty products, Hazelnut was the flavor of choice. At first bite, the multilayered wafers and hazelnut crème was a mix of soft and crispy. i.e. It was gone in minutes :-D If you haven’t tried the Cloud 9 chocolate wafer bars, you’ve definitely gotta try this chocolate treat.
2. Yummy Fresh Fruits – This week I enjoyed the rewards of good/meticulous grocery shopping. Solomon’s had a great special on red Plums, Peaches and Nectarines. These are 3 fruits that can be firm but juicy, of which you look for no blemishes, marks or rotting. I scanned feverishly for the perfect pairs and was truly rewarded. Each one was firm and sweet with the right amount of juice. It truly was a plus to my day.
3. Seeing ‘Invite Intrigue’ in person – Mac’s lipsticks are top competition and I know many ladies who will stop at nothing to look FAB-BOO-LUS. A colleague walked in wearing this pink-fuchsia shade. Can you say WOW?!? I had to know what it was! Invite Intrigue , a part of the Blue Nectar collection which is all about mystery and temptation, is a matte shade that is sure to add pop to your lips. My colleague raved “It glides on smooth and is a perfect colour to rock this fall.” I concur ladies!
4. Connecting with family – In times of need there’s nothing as binding or as history making as spending time with family (in laws included). There were old island stories, drinks and jokes shared around the pool as relatives gathered around. Even the puppy had island roots as he was rescued from Eleuthera (Hi Anejo!). It was a good reminder that Family is everything.
5. 10 Day aged Pigeon – Wednesday’s episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmerman in Cork, Ireland featured 10 day aged pigeon which was cooked in a specialised millennial butter and smoked by handpicked and dried oak, in a small sealed glass container. This resulted in a delicate dish both in appearance and from description. I was blown away with the finesse, time and quality ingredients included in this dish. I admire chefs who put passion and intuition into their food and was impressed with the process. I may not be adventurous enough to taste it but I will admire the view.
What were your favourite moments of the week? We'd love to hear from you in the comment section below!
Today is a bittersweet day for us at Life By Olivia. It’s a holiday in The Bahamas but no one feels like celebrating. We managed to survive the hurricane but some people weren’t so fortunate. Along with excessive flooding, there are some people on the island who lost their roof, their cars and their entire home. We saw mass panic as persons flooded and swarmed the gas stations buying sometimes $10 at a time into their fuel containers in fear of there being no fuel or not being able to make it safely to home or work. Gas stations actually ran out of gas and the average wait time was anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour. Reports of even greater damage are still coming in from the other islands. Many homes are still without power (we went three days) and some don’t have running water either. The damage was even worse in the other Caribbean countries that Hurricane Matthew hit. Haiti has a death toll of at least 800, which they expect to rise more. We are praying for solutions to everyone affected by this storm.
On a brighter note, we saw sparks of hope with persons providing relief items and clean up during the aftermath, and even brotherly love during the hurricane itself.
Mechelle: Although my home suffered damages that have to be addressed and an assessment of lost items and electronics were done , I am happy to say that I have experienced the pleasant, hopefully and bonding aspect of the natural disaster. After evacuating our home, my husband and I spent Matthew’s duration with relatives who were nothing less than hospitable and nurturing. In a house of 13, it’s easy to lose your way or grow weary during the long hours of no power, small kids vying for attention or lacking your own ‘space’. But this paled in comparison to the home cooked meals on a gas stove/oven that was whipped up without complaint and was more than enough to feed us all, at least twice per day. I loved snacking on roasted vegetables like pumpkin and sweet potatoes, coconut water and V8. There were old island stories shared, moments outside by the pool, impromptu group games (Name game anyone?) and Guitar lessons. There were certainly more smiles than frowns and at the end of it all, we exuded gratefulness. Grateful for life, food, family, shelter, hope and receiving the all clear. I too am grateful for my second family: my friends, who shared no negativity and always highlighted the silver lining throughout this experience. It may have seemed like the longest most uncertain moment of our lives at that time but we made it through wholly.
Olivia: One of the best ways that we prepared for the storm was by getting snacks. I was happy to snack on Cheetos, ramen noodles and Crystal Bay. Our water stayed frozen for two whole days in the freezer so we were really grateful for that. For me, our roof was damaged by a neighbours aluminium shutters that came loose at the beginning of the storm flew over two houses, hit our roof and then landed in our next door neighbours’ yard. It was a scary moment especially when my mum’s bedroom and bathroom ceiling began leaking. Even scarier was realising that my neighbours’ three year old daughter with Down Syndrome is still on a feeding tube, and with no power for three days, the machine now needed to recharge. I was complaining about not having a fan blowing on me, while they were literally in a life or death situation. So we were really grateful when the power was restore at 3:04 the following morning. For four days I slept on the couch because I just couldn’t bear the heat in my room. During the day we either sat outside in the garage or took a drive just to see something other than our four walls. Some trips were made at two in the morning just so we could cool down enough to sleep. My most exciting excursion was going to Home Fabrics, the local craft store and looking at the Halloween decorations and costumes. I got a lot of inspiration and I can’t wait to start some new projects. I went to church yesterday and there were less than 25 people (not counting the volunteers). I was so grateful to be unharmed that I had to give thanks and see if there was anything I could do to help anyone else.
Now that the worst of Hurricane Matthew is behind us (at least impact wise), it's time for us to assess and share our current situations.
CURRENTLY – MECHELLE
Reading: The Two Minute Rule by Robert Crais. An engaging crime thriller lent by a good friend. Thanks Hun!
Loving: I am lovin’ this bar of Kerrygold Garlic and Herb butter. I’ve always seen it in the dairy aisle but never purchased it. Constantly thinking: ‘I can make that, so why buy it?’ ‘It probably won’t taste fresh or earthy.’ Boy was I mistaken. Found in a slender 3.5 ounce size and wrapped in the signature gold paper, my husband picked it up and thought it would provide more flavour to our dishes without the hassle of dicing and prepping ingredients. I tried it out on a roasted pumpkin that I had quartered and deskinned after cooking. It.was.DIVINE. I was pleasantly surprised at the burst of flavour and even more so at the list of green herbs including Dill, Thyme, Chives, Parsley. I also used it on the top layer of the turkey and cheese panini and it accented it nicely with a golden brown effect. If you normally cook with butter or even use it as an accent (toast, bagels, crostini, etc.), I would recommend you try it!
Planning: I’m planning to create a life size Vision Board. I was reminded of the depth of it during a seminar last week and want to take my mini paper version and make it life size
Anticipating: I’m anticipating trying numerous lipstick swatches at the local MAC store. I saw some nice shades on YouTube and would like to see if they’re just as fun and functional in person ;). I’m thinking shades like Heroine, Viva La Glam and MAC Red.
CURRENTLY – OLIVIA
Reading: I downloaded a series just before the Hurricane hit called The Girl in The Box. I’m not head over heels in love with it, but so far I’ve finished the first book so I might as well finish the series. I’m also reading a book called Best Supporting Role by Sue Margolis. Another book I’m not head over heels in love with it, but I’ll finish it eventually. I’m really picky with my books.
Loving: I’m loving the support I’ve seen since the storm hit. After our roof was hit, a random neighbour didn’t even wait for the all clear, he grabbed his ladder, a tarp and some nails and started patching our roof. A friend at church offered to give people ice if anyone needed them. Seeing that kind of support really made me feel better about the current state of things.
Planning: I’m super excited to plan new Fall-themed recipes for you guys and already have a few lined up to try out. Including Halloween Bark that I plan on giving out at Trunk or Treat!
Anticipating: I can’t wait for two things this month! Trunk-or-Treat at the end of the month at church and the VIVA women’s conference the week before that. I can’t wait to share my experience with those!
The aftermath continues and recovery will honestly take more than a few days but I am taking it day by day, with positivity in my corner.
Share your story with us. What impact has this experience had on you? Did you receive support from family and friends? Were you able to help others?
I don’t know if you’ve noticed the extensive use of “we” in certain posts lately. If you have, you’re probably wondering who this other person is. If not, don’t feel bad, I’m going to tell you anyway. Awhile back I put out a call for a new blog contributor and an angel answered! Her name is Mechelle Sweeting, a fellow cat lover, outdoor enthusiast and foodie extraordinaire! So far, she’s been working behind the scenes for a few weeks to help with the expansion and you’ll soon see some changes like a cleaner homepage and a wider variety of content on the blog. So who is this mysterious woman, you ask?
She loves to eat and cook various cuisines from around the world, including Italian, Asian and Bahamian. Trying different foods and out-of-the-box dishes like escargot, seaweed salad and sushi fuels her love for travel and exploration. Mechelle loves writing; using it as a main source of self-expression: “When you feel it, as you feel it - write it!”
No need for expensive store-bought products, DIY skincare is her everyday go to and nail therapy is a MUST: stiletto, coffin, almond, and gemstones – the whole shebang! She’s a girly-girl through and through with a strong spirit and a big heart! I’m so glad to welcome her to the team and I know you’ll love her!
Here are 10 Fun Facts Mechelle is sharing with us for you to get to know her better! Take it away Mechelle:
Hello Everyone! It’s so great to be a part of the team. I can’t wait to begin sharing with you and giving your life a personal touch! But before we get into that, here are 10 fun facts I wanted you to know about me!
· Usual Sushi order – Seaweed salad, as well as a side of eel sauce and extra ginger to accommodate my roll. I prefer salmon rolls with avocado or cream cheese fillings but I am branching out into ahi tuna
· Favourite Desserts- cheesecake, guava duff, carrot cake
· I prefer cats over dogs - They’re fluffy, warm and snuggle up around your ankles at just the right times. Mr. Wiggins will soon be added to the Sweeting family.
· I can go weeks without meat! From my late teens I spent many years following a vegetarian lifestyle and was content not eating meat. I easily have meals of just vegetables such as smashed plantain, boiled butternut squash or pumpkin.
· In case you're wondering.......it's Mrs. Sweeting ;) My hubby and I love to watch movies and cuddle up on the couch or in the theatre (snacks are ALWAYS included).
· I'm in love with the outdoors and gardening (thanks Mom!). I continue to find inspiration and tranquillity through plants wherever I go.
· My fitness preferences are Yoga, Spinning and Walking.
· Although I started my natural hair journey 11 years ago, I’ve grown my locs for 9, with many trims and styles in between.
· I binge watch Food shows such as Chopped, Top Chef (my favourite), Hell’s Kitchen and enjoy Food Documentaries such as Fed Up!, Food Inc. and Hungry for more.
· I am an avid user of fresh citrus for face masks such as orange or lemon (P.S. lemon and honey is an excellent mix!)
Are you witty, crafty, or a beast in the kitchen? Do you like to write, take pictures, plan events or teach new skills? We’re looking for the next wave of talented food bloggers, beauty bloggers, review bloggers and photographers who’d be interested in submitting 1-2 articles per week [unpaid]. (Upcoming photographers could get paid assistant positions though). Develop your skills as a writer, and get feedback on how you can improve & grow your blogs audience.
This goes for YouTube vloggers as well! So whether your niche is mommy blogging, book reviews or travel diaries, we want you! Now I don’t need you to send your resume, but there will be a simple interview process to make sure you’re a good fit for the atmosphere here at Life By Olivia (which will more than likely be conducted over brunch, because let's face it, brunch rocks). Just send us links to your social media accounts (especially Pinterest, Blog/Website, and Instagram) either in the comment section below, on the Facebook Page or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can even submit your interest over Twitter! I promise that I will read through all submissions and get back to each of you in a timely fashion.
This is your chance to expand your viewer audience and areas of expertise. So what are you waiting for? Apply today!
Wild Whispers - A Tender Novella
~ A Flirty & Feisty Romance Novel ~
Scarred but not broken, beautiful Adaora Dike made a tough choice early in life and she had no regret until she lost everyone and everything without warning. She finds comfort in a quiet home in the woods, deep in Dagor Village. Out there, Adaora discovers nature and animals do not condemn, only people do. One rainy night, a male shadow dashes across her yard, her heart flips over and she faces emotional chaos.
While on a field trip in Africa, handsome photographer, Gary Mason gets stranded in the woods. He finds an abandoned shelter occupied by a lonely but lovely woman he cannot not get out of his head. This is one photography shoot he wants to forget, but Adaora has a firm grip on his heart and might change his life forever.
Through many Wild Whispers, will Adaora and Gary change each other or will fate intervene to keep them apart?
~ From the Author of Red Velvet Rose ~
Release Day is Tuesday April 26th 2016.
No of Pages: 106
Amazon.com (eBook) 99c:
Smashwords (eBook): https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/631887
Createspace (Paperback): https://www.createspace.com/6134859
Wild Whispers Blog Tour begins on Mon, April 25th - Thurs May 26th 2016
(The Blog Tour schedule is below - scroll down).
Star Prize: One Wild Whispers Bracelet
Other Prizes: Flirty & Feisty Romance eBooks of your choice (excluding Wild Whispers)
HOW TO WIN
To win the star prize:
Follow Wild Whispers on its exciting Blog Tour and leave comments on every blog. One lucky winner will be drawn from a hat.
To win your choice of Flirty & Feisty Romance eBook: Leave a comment on any participating blog and one commenter on every blog wins an eBook.
WHO IS STELLA?
Stella Eromonsere-Ajanaku is a fun loving mother of two teenagers, married to her gorgeous husband and best friend who indulges her romantic habits. Writing contemporary and historical romance novels is an exciting adventure for her. Out of curiosity and belief that love conquers all, she has written several Interracial & Multicultural Romance Novels.
In 2010, Stella created Flirty & Feisty Romance Novels, a collection of toe-curling, intriguing, and skin-tingling romance with compelling characters who have heart and soul and jump off the pages of the book. All her stories are dotted with twists and turns and are set in fascinating Africa, enticing Europe & enchanting America.
To experience and enjoy an intense emotional ride, pick up a copy of any of her novels: Loitering Shadows, Beyond the Lady, The Gardener's Ice Maiden, Sparkling Dawn, Husband to Rent, Stolen Valentine Kiss (Holiday Series #1), Kiss My Lips (Holiday Series #2), Forbidden Dance, Stolen Valentine Kiss & Kiss My Lips (Holiday Series 2~ Books ~ in ~ 1), Tempting Desire, Seduced Hearts, Red Velvet Rose and Wild Whispers. Stella's first historical/suspense/mystery romance, Royal Cowries (Cowries Series #1) will give you an insight into a different Africa.
A luxury home by the seaside is on Stella's wish list. In her spare time, she loves to swim on her back like a starfish, watch TV, go to the movies with her family and read romance novels.
10 Random Facts about Stella
1. I knit colourful woollen mufflers/scarves. They are warm and perfect for winter.
2. I played handball for my secondary school.
3. Love to bite my son's cheeks.
4. I drink water throughout the night.
5. I'm originally from a Kingdom that is over 6000 years old called Benin Kingdom. We have a monarchy.
6. Back in my University days, my face was on countless calendars, some magazines, a handful of TV commercials and one home video because I was a model.
7. I love birds especially parrots.
8. I'm spooked by dogs.
9. Love, love contemporary decor.
10. As a daddy's girl my pet name was handbag.
For more reading check out these posts:
Spring signals so many things: The start of new relationships, as well as the end of many, especially due to graduation ceremonies. Once all of the cramming is over and done with, some of us find ourselves lacking, and good book perfectly fills that void. With travel plans and beach weather on the horizon, now is the best time to pick out your summer reading list and to get a head start (it’s okay to cheat sometimes. It was really hard trying to find only ten books, but I think I did it (Yay me!). All of the books I listed below, I've either rated at least 4 stars on ‘Goodreads’ or have received a lot of good reviews from others. I've read books that ranged from sunshine-and-daffodils, to the skies-opening-up-and-blood-raining-down, and OMG – have-to-read-that-again. But no matter the content, I'm always entranced. The books I listed contain at least some sort of romance, action, adventure, paranormal, adult content and language, humour, and just good stuff amongst them. The last two books I included aren't a romance book, nor is it fiction, but I felt it best to throw in two last good reads. I hope that you guys can choose at least one of these books and fall into another reality and live there happily between the pages as I did (plus did I mention some of the characters are hilarious and just hot).
-Books are a hard-bound drug with no danger of an overdose. I am a happy victim of books. Are you?
What's on your book list to read this year? Did any of my picks make your cut? Let me know in the comment section below!