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Many times before on this blog I’ve spoken about getting organised. Decluttering your mind, giving everything its place and putting systems in order. I’ve organised my desk area (http://100waystohappy.com/2015/05/01/challenge-33-organise-your-work-area/), I’ve organised my wardrobe (http://100waystohappy.com/2015/01/11/challenge-3-clear-out/) and I’ve organised my life (http://100waystohappy.com/2015/02/01/challenge-9-get-organised/) but I’ve never got around to organising this blog.

The last few weeks I’ve been feeling a bit demotivated with the blog. I’ve been finding it hard to come up with ideas for posts and challenges, I’ve been writing Thursday’s posts on Thursday evening and Sunday’s on Sunday morning and they’ve been going up later and later. I’ve felt stressed about it, started seeing coming up with ideas and writing posts as a chore, always on my to do list. Once I’ve completed one there’s another one to do. I started to resent blogging. But that’s not why I started.

I started blogging for fun, because I love writing and wanted to get better at photography. I wanted to set myself the challenges each week to improve my life, to become part of my life, not to be a stressful addition. When I re-read my first post and remember why I started this, I hate that it’s become so stressful in recent weeks. It was supposed to be a life improver, not the opposite. When I really think about what the problem is, I know it’s that I’m just not planning ahead enough. When you’re writing a beauty or fashion blog, it’s a little easier to string a post together on the day but when your blog involves setting yourself a challenge you need to plan things in advance.

This week, I read this post from Dizzy Brunette 3: http://www.dizzybrunette3.com/2015/05/ways-to-be-more-organised-with-your-blog.html and it stroke many a chord with me. It is so difficult balancing a full time job and managing a blog, even a small blog like mine. When I challenged myself to write two posts a week for the whole year, I knew it would be tough. I knew it would involve lots of weekend work and staying up late but I knew also it would be worth it if I stuck to my challenges and if I inspired just one other person. But life throws up many other unexpected and unplanned challenges too along the way and things get busier and your blog is no longer the fun priority but just an extra thing to do. So it’s important to help it fit in easily and to have a plan.

Using Corrie’s tips as inspiration I came up with my own steps to get blog organised:

  • Use your commute/lunch break/spare time to get involved in the blogging community: Keeping up to date with other bloggers tweets and posts via social media and Blog Lovin’ will give you inspiration for future posts and keep you up to date with what others are doing. This will also mean you’re getting involved, commenting on others blogs and tweeting other bloggers. Doing this on my commute is the easiest way for it not to become a chore for me, it means I’m occupying myself in otherwise wasted time.
  • Set up all your social media: If your social media is all set up and working together it will keep your workload down. When I started this blog, I set up Twitter and Instagram and I naturally updated them as and when I had something interesting to say/take a photo of. But I’m slowly realising there are other social media sites which can help me manage this blog too. I still don’t fully understand Blog Lovin’ but I love using it for reading blogs and for updating my readers. Make sure to follow me there if you haven’t already: https://www.bloglovin.com/blogs/100waystohappycom-13674093. It automatically updates my Twitter which is great and it reminds me if I haven’t caught up on my favourite blogs. I’ve also just started using Pinterest which is brilliant for inspiring me for future blog posts and challenges. I’ve only just begun with my board but am planning to check it every morning commute – follow me here if you want: https://uk.pinterest.com/100waystohappy/
  • Make a spreadsheet schedule: I’ve made myself a spreadsheet with each blog date for the next month and an idea beside it. Now, each 14th of the month I’m going to plan all my blogs for the next month. Coming up with ideas on the spot is probably my biggest challenge so thinking ahead is going to make a big difference. Do comment below or tweet me if you have any ideas for future posts! I’ve also set a monthly reminder on my phone to remind me to put together next month’s schedule.
  • Plan your photos and next steps: I’ve added two columns to my spreadsheet which lists which activity I need to do before writing the post and which photos I will take to accompany it. This helps me plan whether photos will be taken when doing the activity or whether I need a photo shoot myself. It also means I can take photos for multiple blog posts at once if needed. I get my diary out and make sure I can do the activity the week before the blog post, helping me plan out my weeks and fit everything in.
  • Schedule posts and tweets: Scheduling is an organised person’s dream. I’ve always taken advantage of scheduling blog posts, meaning I don’t have to be in and at my screen every Sunday and Thursday. But I’ve only just started scheduling tweets about my blog, before if I was busy when a blog uploaded I just wouldn’t tweet it or I’d panic and run to try and find signal somewhere. Now, you all know everytime I upload a new blog and I can still get on with my life!

These are my steps to get blog organised, as well as just remembering always that blogging is supposed to be fun and reminding myself why I started in the first place. Let me know if you have any other tips?

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On Sunday it was my Dad’s 50th party and we had all of his family over to celebrate. It was such a beautiful day so we spent it all in the garden. I don’t know about you, but there’s something about spending the day in the garden that makes me feel like a child again. I’m not sure whether it’s all the things in the garden or if it’s just the memories of spending time there. I’m the eldest of four siblings so my garden is a child’s playground, it’s not very big but we’ve still managed to make space for a wooden swing set, a slide, a playhouse and a shed full of outdoor toys. I remember making up dream worlds with my little brothers in my garden, imagining we were on a pirate ship when on the swing fighting off crocodiles, driving around in my play car thinking I was a policeman ready to arrest my youngest brother for being annoying, or having all my dolls in my ‘classroom’ in the playhouse because it was time for their maths lesson. Ah those were simple times.

This Sunday we had lots of children in the family round so we had made the garden even more childlike. My Mum had bought bats and balls and bubbles to play with for the little ones. For the first time in a long time I had nothing to do but to enjoy the day, I always have endless lists of things to do but I had set aside this day to celebrate my Dad’s birthday so I felt I could really enjoy the garden and family time. I absolutely loved playing with my little 18 month old cousin, the joy and wonder he found every time I blew some bubbles or he learnt he could do it himself. It made me think of those times when life was more beautiful simply because things seemed exciting. We spent the day eating, drinking Pimms (not quite so childlike) and playing, and it was wonderful.

Me and my brothers are now all quite old so we took on more adult responsibilities, helping with the food and drink and tidying up. But towards the end of the day we really embraced the child within! Me and my eldest brother, who is 20, got on our swing set and swung until our hearts were content. We genuinely thought we might break it but luckily we didn’t! We tried out the slide, the bubbles and shot some hoops too.

What makes you think of your childhood? Why not try and revisit it with your siblings or friends.

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Turning 23, I feel officially old. I can no longer pretend to be a child or a teenager. I can’t really get away with being a lost graduate anymore. Really I’m just simply a young adult. It’s a pretty boring and confusing period in life for a lot of people and it makes you yearn for simpler times which you definitely did not appreciate enough. So I thought this week, rather than yearn for the past which is only half-remembered (and probably very much through rose tinted glasses), instead I’d have a look through old photo albums and remember childhood properly.

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It’s such fun looking through old photos, and I really think it helps you to reflect on what is important in life. Those who have been there through it all, family and friends alike. My very favourite photos were the ones from when I was very young with my brothers and sisters. I grew up in a large family, and although I don’t know if I’ll ever be selfless enough to have a big family myself, I am so grateful and happy that I was able to. We’re still all so close and I always know I have a support network surrounding me and looking out for me. The photos of me and my siblings make me laugh, we’ve been through ups and downs but a sibling bond is so strong. It’s easy to forget they’ve been there since day one.

And all the things I’m doing in the photos; dancing, dressing up, reading. Those have always been my favourite things, I must remember to keep at them. I’m not caring what I look like, imagine if I could still be like that?! Playing too, I forgot how good it was to play.

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It’s good to reflect but not to lament. To enjoy the memories and smile at everything you’ve done and everything that has got you to where you are today. There’s use in looking back if it reminds you what to look forward to. After exploring my old photos, I’ve remembered to not take life too seriously. When I was 5 years old and playing in the sandpit, I couldn’t have cared less if I got sand in my hair, all that mattered was that I had a smile on my face. And really, nothing should have changed since.

Positivity

Whenever I’m feeling negative, which has been quite a lot recently, I’ve taken to turning to my phone. It may seem a bit strange, haven’t scientists proven that technology is making us unhappier? Well, these scientists obviously haven’t been studying people armed with my positivity pack on their phone.

There are so many apps for iPhone and Android that help make you more positive so for the last couple of weeks I’ve been trying some out and now I’m ready to recommend my top three. Honestly you can’t help but be positive when using all three, they motivate and inspire you, and remind you things could be a whole lot worse. So without further ado, here are my faves:

  1. Happify: This is the first positivity app I armed myself with. I use Headspace (there’s a review of that here) but it’s more of a meditation app to help keep you calm and give you a break. I wanted something that would also inspire me to get back up and motivate me. Happify first does a quick test with you to work out your current ‘happiness level’, it then recommends different packages for you, unsurprisingly mine was ‘Cope Better with Stress’. The packages are meant to be completed within 10 days and include games, meditation exercises, activities and articles. It’s a great quick pick me up, my favourite other little feature is a continually updated bank of articles and videos showing positive little things from around the world.
  2. Ted: Everyone knows about Ted talks, they’re taking the world by storm. But did you know there was a Ted app? It’s brilliant! The app stores lots of talks and allows you easily to access both the video and the audio on your phone. I find it perfect to listen to as I’m walking from my train to the bus, a little boost to start my day with. Ted talks cover so much, even if you didn’t want a positivity boost, you could learn a lot from the knowledge based talks instead. To find a talk to suit your mood, you can click ‘surprise me’ and then select a category, my favourites are ‘Beautiful’ and ‘Inspiring’. Then you can also select the length of time you have from 5 minutes to an hour and it’ll produce some recommended talks for you.
  3. DailyQuote: This app does exactly what it says on the tin! I believe a quote a day keeps negativity at bay. I love a good motivational quote so now, whenever I need it, I just go to my phone and remember my positivity injection for that day. Today it was: “We tend to forget that happiness doesn’t come as a result of getting something we don’t have but rather of recognising and appreciating what we do have.” See, I told you! Daily positivity and motivation in an app which will take up 10 seconds of your time!

Dishoom

I apologise for my lack of post on Thursday, I have to admit I’m feeling a bit of writer’s block at the moment. I don’t know whether it’s because my life hasn’t been quite so interesting and I’ve felt less inclined to challenge myself so much recently. It has been a simple formula of work, home and Netflix. Never a good cycle to get into so this week I told my boyfriend we were having a date night whether he liked it or not. During the week, it’s very easy to crawl into bed after you’ve had a long day at work and a long commute, and I haven’t even been running this week as I’ve given myself a week off since the 10k. But the habit makes work feel longer and makes me feel sluggish. I needed to go somewhere other than my home and the office. So we ventured further into London after work on Thursday and to Kings Cross.

Granary Square near Kings Cross is officially my favourite part of London. It’s been cemented as that ever since I went to watch Murray play at Wimbledon on the screen there with a glass of Pimms. It’s so beautiful and always so alive. Some parts of London make me feel claustrophobic, I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, but Granary Square is so open and strangely calming. No one there seems to be in a huge rush but are instead unwinding. I love the green steps to the river, I love Granary Store – the restaurant on the corner with amazing veggie choices – and I love the fountains which glow different colours. There’s always children playing in them, trying not to get wet and ultimately failing. For date night, we headed to my favourite part of London and to the restaurant Dishoom.

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I’ve been to Dishoom in Covent Garden before so I knew we were in for a wait but when we got there the queue spread nearly back to the square and we were told we would be in it for an hour and a half. We nearly gave up but after venturing all the way there and with my boyfriend ensuring me DIshoom was an experience and not just a really good meal, we decided to wait. Not long after, a waitress came down with a glass of hot chai for everyone in the queue. That’s when we decided definitely to stay, it was so good! Soon after we were treated to a shot of sherry and then more chai, although we waited about an hour in the queue in the end it flew by with all the drinks and getting to know the people in the queue around us.

Eventually we were shown into the bar and it was one of the most amazing restaurants I’d been in to. It’s like Mary Poppins’ handbag, it looks tiny from the outside but is actually huge and decorated like a Bombay train station. There’s a huge old railway clock as you enter and Indian signs and notices all over the wall. It looks very grand with dark wood and a huge sweeping bar as you enter. Then you’re quickly whisked downstairs to a darkened bar, it’s just like a railway waiting room and you almost feel like you’re waiting for an exotic cross-country journey. We had Indian themed cocktails, Chaijitos to be precise. I love all the spices they bring to the normal cocktails, we also suppressed our hunger with some far far which are different brightly coloured crackers with dips.

Dishoom cocktail

After about half an hour, we were taken upstairs to our little table. It really is extraordinary how big the space is and how long the queue still was outside, it must be so popular. I was talking to one of the waiters about it and he said he doesn’t need to go to the gym to keep fit because his job involves running around, we saw him about an hour later sprinting up the stairs and waving hello to us over his shoulder. We were VERY hungry by this point and typically our eyes were a lot bigger than our belly so we ordered everything! The waiters in Dishoom are famous for giving recommendations so we asked ours for help and he happily obliged. In the end we ordered a curry each, a Ruby Paneer for me, gunpowder potatoes and dahl. One of the highlights was a super thin naan bread, even thinner than a wrap which stretched really far. It was the perfect thing to mop up the curry sauce. All of it was delicious but the gunpowder potatoes were the real star of the show, so yummy and the perfect antidote to the spicy food.

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All in all, it was a really great experience, and it was just that, more of an experience than a meal and therefore worth waiting an hour and a half to be seated for. I would recommend it if you have a night to kill, don’t go there in a hurry or for a quick meal out. But then date night should be an experience, it shouldn’t be rushed. It’s very easy, when you’ve been in  a relationship for a long time, to stop doing things together and it’s all too easy to stop really talking. Putting aside one night to dedicate just to being with each other is so important. We might not be able to do it every week but from now on, we are definitely aiming for at least once a month.