Tag Archives: Work

Lifestyle | How to become your most productive self and get shit done

IMG_2181Do you ever have that feeling that no matter how hard you work to cram everything in, you’re always running out of time? That ticking clock in the back of your mind is your worst enemy when it comes to getting shit done and can demotivate us in seconds. How often have you felt psyched up for the day, then you’ve seen your mounting to-do list, saw time ticking away from you and just figured “I don’t even know where to start so I’m gonna sit down, have a cup of tea and a biscuit.” We’ve all been there but it’s so easy when you’re travelling full time or working flat out to let the basic life admin slide. By life admin, I’m talking about all those basic things like cooking, cleaning, washing – all the things that make your house feel like a home you want to return to at the end of the day, the things that make you feel like you’re looking after yourself. These are so much more important than you think because looking after yourself is the first step – forget to do this and your motivation for achieving anything else will quickly drip away.IMG_2280For those who are working flat out but feel they are so overwhelmed with their workload that they lose any drive to get things done – this is the perfect time to change your outlook. I remember when I used to let work get on top of me – I’ll fully admit I still do at times because I’ll always be a workaholic who can’t say no to working more hours. But the difference is I’m able to recognise when life is getting on top of me and I make sure I take a step back and give myself the time to recuperate and relax before I tackle my to-do list, that way I know when I do sit down to work, I’m doing the best job I can possibly do. Because if you ask me, if you don’t give a job 100+% there is pretty much no point doing it at all. So this post is about sharpening your focus and making sure that the time you spend working is super productive so that you can spend more time relaxing and enjoying yourself.IMG_2273

Here are my top tips for boosting productivity:

  1. Figure out your time schedule and how much time you want to dedicate to working/living – figuring out what work/life balance you want to achieve is important because then it is your decision and you’re not just going along with what is expected of you. It’s okay to set your own boundaries and to refuse extra work if you don’t feel like you can cope.
  2. Make a list and prioritise according to your life plan, no-one else’s. It’s so easy to get caught up in what we “should” be doing instead of what we actually want to be doing. Your boss’ priorities might involve you working 60 hour weeks for no extra pay and no rewards, but if that’s not in your life plan then why should you? Likewise, your partner’s life plan might involve you sacrificing your passions to spend all your free time with them, but again, that’s just not fair and you might not want to do that.
  3. Work through your list item by item – don’t try and tackle several things at once, you’ll still get them done but you’ll only have worked half as hard on them so the quality of your work will suffer. Better to use all your focus on one thing at a time and then you will maintain a good standard of work and get the satisfaction of ticking them off your list one by one.
  4. Get the boring shit done quickly and then reap the benefits. My favourite time to clean/cook/wash is always either when I’ve just got back from work at 2am or as soon as I wake up – the feeling of finishing and being able to get on with my day or to sleep peacefully is the best. Plus then I’m super motivated to get on with the rest of the day.
  5. Plan in getaways when you’ve been working too much and feel like the walls are closing in, getting out into nature can heal all stresses and anxiety. I recently went away camping for the weekend with friends to a national park and it did us all the world of good to get away. I came back feeling fresh and ready to take on the world.
  6. Look after yourself – drink water, eat healthy, get plenty of sleep – you’re useless otherwise. This is easily forgotten but should always be your number one priority. I often am working too hard to bother taking a break and forget to drink enough water in the heat – it leaves me feeling ill and burnt out. If you don’t look after yourself, no-one else will do it for you and you only have one body, so take care of it.
  7. When you have to work, create the perfect environment in the office or at home. Think about your workspace and don’t just work from bed, find a desk or table with a open windows for fresh air, good light and a comfortable seat. Good motivation includes picking a great Spotify playlist – I’ve just discovered the Focus ones which are great for working to – and great snacks as a reward for making progress.
  8. When you’re lacking focus, exercise. Go for a run or do a HIIT class, it will clear your mind and release stress ready for when you start work again. This is one of my favourite ways to start the day after cleaning and cooking, an exercise class is a great way to give yourself energy and refresh before hitting your to-do list.
  9. Be honest with yourself about what is achievable and if you’ve been given an unrealistic workload don’t be afraid to delegate or say no – recognising your limits is good management of yourself and others.
  10. Have a hobby – when you’re relaxing and having time off from work, it’s good for you to have a passion to escape into. It’s so easy to get caught in that cycle of going out, getting drunk and being hungover on your days off. Reading, writing, painting or creating something – creative passions ignite a whole different side of our brain and give us a real release. Why else do you think I’ve kept this blog going for so long?
  11. Take time completely alone – it can be hard when so many people are demanding a share of your precious time. You’re surrounded by people all day long and outside of work your friends and family need you, but what about what you need? It’s important to take time alone to grow and develop as a person.

IMG_2193And most importantly? Don’t see failure as this big dark cloud hanging over your head all the time. It’s okay if you can’t do everything – we are not machines and we should never feel like failures for not being able to squeeze everything in. I should never feel like I have to apologise for being a 26-year-old who travels solo full time, works 45 hours a week at one job, works as a freelance journalist and travel blogger, who manages to keep her apartment clean, tidy, cook great meals from scratch but sometimes doesn’t manage to FaceTime her friends and family at home as much because of the time difference. Yes I’m failing big time in that respect at the moment and it makes me feel very guilty when I don’t know what is happening in all my loved ones lives because we are on other sides of the planet. But I’m working my ass off over here and getting shit done, and they understand that. Sometimes we go through phases where we have to sacrifice something in order to achieve other great things, and that’s okay. That’s not failure.IMG_2188

What are your top tips for being your most productive self? Do you ever feel like you’re failing because of the sacrifices you have to make?

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18 things you learn from working in the Australian outback

imageSo after three amazing months of living and working in Darwin, it was time to move on and get my regional work done – I was determined to get that second year visa signed off so I could come back and do it all again. I had been hoping to move down to Tasmania or hit up Western Australia, but then a job came along that I just couldn’t turn down. More about the job itself in another post, this one is going to focus more on what it was like to live in an outback town in Central Queensland, if you like, a real Aussie experience. I arrived in Charleville after a full 24 hours of travelling by car, plane, train and bus took me from the Top End, out to Brisbane and then nearly 800km west. As the 12 hour bus ride ticked by, I dozed between spurts of gazing out the window as we drove further and further away from ‘civilisation’ and further into the bushland that dominates the centre of Australia. It was a strange feeling to not only be so far away from home, but to be so far away from the family I had created along the way. It was actually the first time I had been entirely alone in Australia, despite having been here for around six months. A pretty empowering and terrifying feeling at the same time, this feeling was something I had missed from travelling solo – that thrill and adrenalin rush you get when you know you can only rely on yourself if it all goes wrong.imageI arrived at around 7.30pm to a pitch black town, just a few useless streetlights were dotted around. I was the last person on the bus and the bus driver jokingly offered to take me back to Brissy if I was having second thoughts, but I laughed, hauled my bags off the bus and prepared myself to meet the people I would be working for. This week my three months will come to an end, and with three months of working in the Northern Territory, I’ve learnt a lot about what life is like in the outback. So if you’re thinking of doing the same to get your visa signed off, or just for fun, read on to find out what you need to know about bush life. Here are 18 things you learn from working and living in the Australian outback:

  1. When Aussies say outback, they mean it. There is literally nothing there. No shops, just a post office, a bank and a supermarket if you’re lucky. Sometimes there’s even less than that and you can be hours away from the closest shop. When you buy supplies, stock up on everything you need and even the things you don’t realise you will need.
  2. The lifestyle is totally different – gone are the days of doing something every single night, gone are the cinema trips, dinner dates, after work drinks. In the outback people work all week and save it for the weekend.
  3. Any event is a huge deal. The races, a Christmas party – anything like this that involves the whole town will be a huge affair and people will plan for weeks, or even months for it.
  4. Phone signal and wifi become huge luxuries – sign up to Telstra who seem to be the best – but don’t expect to rely on your phone for anything. Even electricity can be unreliable at times – as I write this I’m glad I charged my iPad as the power has just cut out!
  5. The landscape is something incredible – at first you see it as this dry, barren desert but soon you start to see the beauty in it, the gorgeous, deep red of the earth contrasted by the intense blue of the sky.
  6. The flies – the further into the centre of Australia you get, the more flies will swarm you. I was warned, and I’m glad they’re not too bad here in town but I’ve heard some horror stories from other travellers who ended up in the centre.
  7. There is not much to do around work, so naturally, people in the outback love to drink at the weekends. But don’t expect those bottle shops to be open as long as they are in the cities. Stock the fridge up and you’ll be sorted.
  8. Fear for your life. Well, not quite that extreme but do be careful and remember that this is the place you are most likely to see all those dangerous snakes and spiders people warn you about when you come to Oz. Always kick the toilet seat and check your boots if you leave them outside.
  9. The stars at night are some of the clearest and most incredible you will see. With so much less light pollution and clearer skies, you’re bound to be spellbound by the night sky, I know I am.
  10. You’ll be loving the simpler way of life and the break from city living, and simultaneously hating it and counting down until you can leave and return to life as you knew it.
  11. The people are amazing, you’ll meet some great characters and really have the chance to see how real Aussies live. You’ll never find a place more welcoming.
  12. There’ll be animals everywhere! Horses, goats and cows in the fields, dogs, cats and chickens in the houses. And they’re just the ones that the families invite in, don’t forget all the bugs, bats, birds and more that will be lurking outside.
  13. Everyone drives everywhere. The distance from the house to the shop, to a friend’s place or the post office will always be so great that everyone will just drive. Gone are the days of walking everywhere as a backpacker, you’ll be back on the road and probably in some real outback vehicle.
  14. Everything will be trying to eat you alive – there will be mosquitoes, sandflies, midges and many more. Sometimes itchy lumps will spring up on your skin and you won’t know why – don’t worry, most of the time it’s impossible to tell because there are so many things it could be.
  15. The weather is intense and hot, it’s a heat unlike any you have felt elsewhere. Often it feels like the heat is radiating up from the very ground as well as shining down on you from the sun. Plus when it rains, which it will do at times, it will be serious, tropical showers.
  16. You will always be dirty and sweaty, the breeze is constantly blowing around dirt and dust, and no matter how you try to keep clean, you will never feel it. You’ll soon accept it and come to enjoy being a bit grubby, especially if you’re doing farm work – trust me, no shower feels better than that one at the end of the day.
  17. There are so many opportunities to get out there and embrace the Aussie lifestyle and to get to try out things that you never thought you would. On your days off try helping out at a nearby cattle station, learn to ride a horse or shear sheep. It’s a skill you’d never get the chance to try in the city.
  18. That outback life isn’t for everyone, but everyone can give it a go. There’s nothing more satisfying than being a total girly-girl who loves make-up and shoes, but giving it all up to live rough for three months. Proving to all your friends and family at home that you can do it, and giving you a new appreciation of life when you return to city slicking.

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Have you ever worked on the Australian outback? What kind of work did you do? Where were you based for it? 

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Darwin | Being broke down under and top tips for finding a job | Australia

imageDarwin was the first place I have tried to find a job in Australia – when I was in Sydney I looked to see what was available and found loads of jobs but my heart wasn’t in it and I didn’t really need to work. But by the time it came to arriving in Darwin I was flat broke, seven months of living the dream had been fun and I’d never once had to hold back from spending because I made sure I saved a good wad of cash beforehand. But now I was at a point where I could barely afford rent and instant noodles – any backpacker out there will know the kind of broke I’m talking about. The kind of broke where you suddenly have a horrible feeling you won’t be able to get yourself out of this situation, where you realise you can’t even afford a flight home and you start feeling like you need to call on the bank of mum and dad. Its kind of scary when you’re backpacking solo to know that when you run out of money you have no backup, that you don’t have a boyfriend or best friend there to loan you a few dollars. It’s happened to us all – it doesn’t matter how good you are with your money, sometimes life just catches up on you. But that’s okay, I think if you’re a backpacker who hasn’t lived in dire straits for a while, you’re not a real backpacker. I’m very lucky and I know that if I were ever desperate my parents would be able to help me out but I know many people who aren’t that lucky, and to be honest, there’s much more satisfaction in fixing the problem all by yourself.

I knew I would be fine after I managed to secure a job and luckily after putting something on Facebook about needing work, an old friend contacted me to say he was already in Darwin working in a bar and that he knew of another bar that was looking for staff. As soon as I arrived in Darwin – within hours of getting off the plane – I had updated my CV and printed off countless copies ready to pound the streets looking for work. I walked the length of Mitchell Street and back handing out CVs, talking to managers and flirting shamelessly, and it worked! Within 24 hours I had two trials and two new jobs. I would be working at Monsoons – if you know Darwin you will know it as the infamous party bar where we all have spent nights better forgotten – and Darwin Entertainment Centre, a theatre for the arts where I would be working in the box office. Now I was very lucky getting both jobs straight away and I have no doubt that it was particularly down to the fact that I was English, could start straight away, and wasn’t completely ugly. It’s horrible to say but a complete truth that employers in Darwin, and any other city, are very keen on employing those with English as a first language and, particularly in bars and restaurants, they want good looking staff. I had friends who were German and French who struggled to find work for a while because their English wasn’t as good and I had one friend who was told he couldn’t have the job in a bar unless he shaved his beard off! In Monsoons the girls were expected to parade around in their underwear and bikinis on a nightly basis, while the guys all flaunted their six packs.imageBut it’s not all about luck – I happen to believe we make our own luck in this world and part of that is down to our own determination to succeed. I know a few people who really struggled to find work, but when it came down to it they were not desperate for money like I had been. They had the luxury of enough money to keep them afloat and that gave them time to be lazy, to hand out CVs but not to push for jobs. For some, their priorities were more about having fun and partying first, finding work later – and they did, as soon as their situation became desperate. For me, I had no choice but to find work straight away otherwise I couldn’t afford basics like food or a bed, partying would come later and after the East Coast, a break was welcome. One thing to realise, Australia is full of jobs, everywhere you turn you hear of a new working opportunity. They might not all be career jobs but there’s a good mixture – and a hell of a lot more available than back home in the UK. After all I had heard about Darwin, it didn’t disappoint and offered a huge range of jobs for all kinds of people. I think that was one thing I loved about the city – it attracted such a range of people and all kinds of workers. I had friends who were working on fishing and pearling boats, others who were working construction or landscaping, others filled hospitality roles in bars, restaurants or hotels, worked as cleaners, hairdressers, chefs, mango farmers, or nurses and the list goes on. There was work for every type of role, the only thing that was lacking were office jobs but that didn’t seem to bother many.

So if you arrive in Darwin flat broke like I did – how can you make sure you don’t spend too long in limbo and quickly get earning again? Here are my top tips for finding work in Darwin:

  1. Do some scouting before you arrive – ask any friends who might be there or who are in Australia as often they have contacts. Use the Darwin Backpacker Facebook page as jobs and tips are always being posted up there. Perhaps even contact bars/hotels asking if they need staff.
  2. Look on Gumtree – it’s a reliable source for jobs in Australia unlike at home and I know lots of people who have found great jobs and casual work through it. My current job is one I actually found on Gumtree.
  3. Sign up to agencies – if you’re looking for specific farming, catering or construction work it might be worthwhile signing up to one of the many agencies in town. There is one that is free to join called Top End Consulting, but I don’t know anyone who actually found work through them. A good one for tradies was Skilled, which managed to find work for several of my friends.
  4. Update your CV and make it relevant – if you’re looking for bar work, just stick your bar/restaurant experience on there – feel free to even lie and make it up as I know many who used references from their home countries that were never checked. Hospitality is easy to pick up on the job and you will be trained in anything you don’t know.
  5. If you need a white card or RSA, make sure you know what you have to do to get it. But don’t rush and spend unnecessary money. I waited until I had the bar job to go home and complete my RSA – it took 25 minutes online and cost $10 for the Northern Territory but I wouldn’t have bothered if I didn’t have a bar job.
  6. Make sure you look good and have a big smile on your face – first impressions are everything – then walk the streets. Go by yourself, it looks better than having a friend waiting for you, ask for the manager in every place and hand over a CV. Ask if they are looking for anyone, tell them your experience and that you can start straight away.
  7. If anyone asks how long you are staying in Darwin, always lie. I knew I was staying for at least a month and a half but told them four months minimum. It meant they were keen to take me on as I wasn’t leaving and I loved it so much there that I stayed for three months anyway! No one wants to employ someone who is there for three weeks but they understand it is a backpacker town and people are always passing through.
  8. Make sure you speak good, clear English if it is not your first language, if you don’t understand anything, try to hide it then check with a friend later.
  9. If you get called in for a trial, make sure you wear appropriate clothing and footwear – I had to buy a black skirt and top plus black plimsolls for Monsoons and luckily could wear the same for DEC. There isn’t much choice in Darwin so you might need to make do until you can get to Casuarina – the nearest shopping centre.
  10. Don’t get a trial? Don’t hear back? Don’t lose faith – just keep asking around, keep handing out CVs to everywhere, not just Mitchell Street. Ask friends who are already working if they can put a word in for you or listen out for jobs that come up. You will get something – I don’t know a single person who failed to find work altogether!
  11. When you do get a job, make sure you have your RSA, tax file number, back account, superannuation set up ready so you have them ready to hand them over and will get paid straight away.
  12. And don’t forget those that helped you! Once you have a job in Darwin, use it for good and help other backpackers in a similar situation to find work. Across my two jobs I managed to find jobs for about 15 other people during my time in Darwin and that’s not even including the people who replaced me when I left. Spread the love and help everyone you can.

And if worst comes to worst and you can’t find anything permanent – why not do like a friend of mine who arrived in Darwin with a beat up old car, which he was sleeping in, and no money. He found some casual work, then more casual work, then more. It ended up being more reliable for him than permanent work because he could work several jobs around each other – he was doing everything from waitering, to bar work and front of house, to landscaping and odd jobs. It helped that he had a car and wasn’t fussy what kind of work he would take on. Within a month he had a good income and an apartment and it was another month until he found a steady job as a landscaper to get his second year visa signed off. But he still continued to take on casual jobs as well.

Have you worked in Australia – how did you find the job hunting process? Any other advice for finding work fast? Tell me about your experiences as a broke backpacker.

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From the darkest days to the happiest new year

cheersAs New Year approaches, I wanted to take the time to write a post about how thankful I am to be ending the year on such a high. It hasn’t been the easiest year for me, and it had a pretty rotten beginning that even forced me to take a time out from blogging. I remember feeling the lowest I ever have back in January and February, wondering what the hell my life had become and desperately looking for a way out. It was pretty horrible, and I won’t lie, it makes me pretty sad to look back on it now because for a short while I became a very different person. Over the months that followed, I gradually got my life back and started to be happy again – how did I do it? I started making plans for my future, I threw myself into work and saved hard, and then, I booked a ticket and planned to travel the world. It’s not an option that is available to everyone, but having that goal and that hope of a better 2015 was really what got me through and I’m so happy I made that choice.

I’m not alone in this, I know so many people who seem to have found this year a bit of a struggle. For some it was horrible and totally out-of-the-blue break-ups, for others it was a crisis at work or even redundancy, and for some, it was just realising that they weren’t where they wanted to be in life. Everyone has dealt with it in different ways, and every single one has made it out the other side with a smile on their faces.

I’m really proud to know so many people who have not only survived a difficult year, but who have made it their bitch.

I hope that I can count myself among them, and that’s why I have thrown myself into blogging and saving – my main two pastimes for the year. I like to think it has really paid off with huge blogging milestones like being recognised by a complete stranger on a night out, being chosen as Blogger of the Week for two large blogging publications and being shortlisted out of over 2,000 entries for the individual travel blog section of the UK Blog Awards. I’m really proud of all this, and it is a wonderful feeling to have all your hard work pay off, but it wouldn’t have happened without your support.

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So I’m saying goodbye to 2014 – the year of survival and hard work. And welcoming in 2015 – the year of success and happiness. I’ve done nothing but work hard and pay my dues this year and I plan to take back 2015 as my year of following my dreams and pursuing what I really love. It’s time I did something that is just for me, not for anyone else. I think it’s time we all did the same – have you been putting something off because you’re scared to jump? Well no more. This year let’s all take a risk – let’s all go after that dream and make it our reality. Life is short and this year has flown by, so why let another year disappear without reaching that goal, or even setting one? Everyone I know seems to be setting themselves goals at the moment – some are getting engaged and planning a wedding, others are heading off to university, or are planning a big move and a new job… all very inspiring individuals. Me? I’m planning to be happy, to see things I haven’t seen before, to experience cultures and see the world. But without an amazing group of friends, family and blog supporters, I don’t think I could have dreamed I would be in this position a year ago. So this post is to say thanks to all of you guys for all those times you listened and all those times you gave me the push I needed to start making my dreams a reality.

How do you feel looking back on your 2014? And what goals have you set yourself for 2015?

Ab Lucy sign off

10 day countdown to being unemployed

new beginningIt’s finally starting to sink in. As you’re reading this I have just 10 days left at work… and that includes today! I can’t believe how fast the time has gone since I handed in my notice, but it really has flashed by. It’s certainly been helped along by me still having holiday left over, so even though I have just 10 days left, they are to be scattered over the next two-three weeks. Everyone in the office has been firmly on countdown for me over the last month, they almost seem more excited about it than I do… not sure if I should take offence at that! But it was going to a launch event at the local college on Monday that really made me realise this is actually happening. As I arrived, loads of people came over to wish me well and say good luck on my travels – it seemed so odd to me, because for the longest time this has just been something in my head. Just a passing daydream of something new and exciting, but now it is really becoming a reality.

So with 10 days left at work – what am I doing and what do I have left to do?

1. My countdown starts with those frantic emails out to every contact I have ever had, made, met or spoken to in my time here. I’ve been trying my best to make sure everyone is aware I am leaving and where they can send emails in the future.

2. Trying to find a replacement for me, and trying to find out what will happen to my entertainment section when I leave.

3. Making sure I get the opportunity to write any stories I have had lurking in the back of my notebook, and to plan in time to write any others I’ve had in the pipeline.

4. Interviews – I love meeting people and talking to them face-to-face, so I’m trying to make sure I get the chance to do as much of that as possible before I leave.

5. Training others in the office up on the technical side of our system and making sure they all know how to work the website when I leave, as up to this point I have been mainly in control of it.


I won’t lie, it’s pretty chaotic and I’m starting to worry I won’t get time to do everything I want to do before I leave. But then I remind myself it doesn’t actually matter if I don’t – much as I would love to leave the team with the next four What’s On sections ready and waiting: 

That is not my responsibility and I can only do my best.

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I’ve also been reminiscing about my most memorable moments at the newspaper – trust me, there’s been quite a few! After three years of working here, and loving it, I’ll be taking some very fond memories away with me.

I wanted to share some of them with you:

1. My week of work experience – realising I wanted to be a journalist and getting the front page after just five days at the paper.

2. Being asked to take on writing a weekly column for the paper and causing a bit of a stir – I loved the complimentary letters, but the complaints sure gave me a laugh!

3. Being challenged to write about all sorts of topics – from fuel prices to train services, from bomb scares to charity efforts. Plus all the random stories like the cow that escaped from a field, went on a rampage and ended up tearing through someone’s living room.

4. Being trusted by all those families to write tributes to their loved ones, particularly those I already had a personal connection with.

5. Taking on control of the entertainment section of the paper and completely turning it around – even doubling it in size after showing how good it could be.

6. Taking on responsibility of managing the website and social media output for the newspaper – a huge role in a company that is all about “digital first” and one I performed very well.

7. Getting to interview the likes of Adam Ant, UB40, Deaf Havana, national production company founders, West End stars, soap stars and many more – for a town in Norfolk, I’ve done pretty well.

8. Reviewing huge events, festivals, gigs, theatre productions and much more – I have loved every event and will really miss getting to see this cultural side of the town.

9. Working with some amazing PR/Marketing whizzes who have become great friends as well – you guys have made my life a hell of a lot easier and I really enjoyed working with you.

10. Working with all my amazing friends in the office – we’ve been under a hell of a lot of pressure particularly during the last year, and time and time again we’ve pulled together and managed to get the paper out. Those outside the office have no idea what work goes on behind the scenes, and we would never have made it through without sticking together. That includes our “rivals” who quite frankly are under just as much pressure as we are.


I can’t imagine what my last day will be like in the office. I imagine it will be pretty strange, as I have never actually left a job that I cared about before now. But I don’t regret my decision for a second, and I know the whole office are really excited for me to start a new adventure. A huge thanks to the team for everything they’ve taught me over the years. I will be firmly making the most of these last 10 days in the office.

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And I couldn’t finish this post without a tribute to the best Bridget Jones moment – when she quit her job!


Have you left a great job behind to move on to other things? How were your final days of work – did you feel happy or sad to be leaving friends and that part of your career behind?

Ab Lucy sign off

Hindsight: What would I say to my younger self?

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I like to live my life with no regrets, and I’m happy to say that up to this point in my life, I genuinely don’t regret a single thing. Everything that has happened up to now had led me to this point, and I’m pretty happy with my lot in life. I’ve got a great job, amazing friends and family, a pretty special boyfriend and big plans for the future. I may have struggled along the way to getting to this point, and I may have had some tough times – but that makes me value what I have more than ever and I can’t help but be grateful for that. Throughout my life I have always strived to be the best version of myself as much as possible, whether that means going out of my way to help people or working hard for my degree or job. I have to admit, putting my all into everything does mean I’ve turned into a bit of a perfectionist and my high standards have meant that I’ve been left disappointed by others over the years. But I’ve learnt to accept that I have no control over the actions of others, that I can only focus on my own actions because they are the only thing that is within my control. Trust me, that’s not an easy thing for any perfectionist to deal with – I’m sure there are those who know and are nodding at the screen right now.

Regret is a funny word. It can be meaningless to a person, or it can be everything. With phrases like “carpe diem” and “live for the moment” tattooed on peoples’ extremities, plastered across inspirational images posted on Instagram and engrained on our brains – it’s no surprise that everyone says they live a life of no regrets. A conversation with a friend really got me thinking about this, whether I would do anything differently or whether I am actually really happy with the way things have turned out. I’ve always been very much of the viewpoint that things, to a extent, happen for a reason. I think if we don’t feel a certain drive to act in a certain way, we can’t really regret it, we can only learn from it. We can always wonder if things would have turned out differently, even though we know we can’t change things. I guess my regrets come more in the form of things I would love to tell my younger self, glimpses into the future I would have liked to have shared and to have known at the time. You’ve got to admit if you could go back in time and warn about a nasty boyfriend or a bad haircut, you would definitely do it…

So what would I say to my younger self?


Advice to Lucy, age 5-10

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My favourite spotty dress

  1. Really revel in staying up past bedtime reading books under your covers, and building whole cities for your Barbies. Soon will come a time when you don’t get to do either any more.
  2. Persevere in maths – it’s hard and it’s horrible, but it’s better to learn it all now than having to catch up and I promise your hard work will pay off before high school.
  3. It’s not nice to fight with your sister, but soon a time will come when it’s considered GBH and she won’t find it quite as funny. Make the most of it while you can.
  4. Don’t breathe in when that teacher comes over to read your work over your shoulder. Chugging instant coffee and chewing gum is a combination that will make you gag.

 

 

 


 Advice to Lucy, age 10-16

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At a film premiere in my acting days

  1. Friendship groups change more often than your socks, but identify the keepers and hold them close. Stick to the ones who have been there through think and thin, you’ll be fine.
  2. Don’t be afraid to work hard, what’s not “cool” is living off benefits for the rest of your life and not getting to go to university because you didn’t pass your exams.
  3. Boys are great as friends, unreliable as boyfriends at this age. Flirting is fun, but don’t waste your time – you’ll have more fun with your girls and someone very special is on the way.
  4. GCSE’s don’t actually matter!! All that work and they don’t actually amount to anything past a pass in English, maths and science to get into Sixth Form – still make sure you do well but don’t stress yourself out.

 

 

 

 


 

 Advice to Lucy, age 16 to 18

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Before the Sixth Form leavers do

  1. Don’t be afraid to speak up sooner. Those friends who have let you down repeatedly, been nasty and contribute nothing – they don’t deserve to be in your life.
  2. Don’t listen to the haters and the worriers – they know nothing about your relationship and you’re still going strong over seven years later! Dive in heart first and enjoy it.
  3. Don’t be pressured by your parents and others into choosing a university you know isn’t right for you – you’re making the right decision and you’re going to have the time of your life!
  4. Think about other options for careers and do some more research – think about journalism and media as an option instead of just teaching.

 

 

 

 


 Advice to Lucy, aged 18-21

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On my 21st birthday

  1. Partying hard will never stop you achieving your goals – enjoy, you deserve it after working so hard and no-one should stop you.
  2. Stop wasting time and accept that no matter how much you want to save friends, you can’t. They have to save themselves and all you can do is be there to pick up the pieces.
  3. Not taking a dissertation module will not affect you, but getting more journalism experience will only benefit you. Get involved with the student newspaper.
  4. Start a blog. You’re going to do really well in a few years, but that will only make you regret not starting earlier when you had more time on your hands.

 

 

 


Advice to Lucy, aged 22-present

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Before a night out aged 22

  1. You’re making the right decision to come home and take the job at the paper, but don’t expect to finish that journalism qualification – some big changes are coming.
  2. Save, save, save, save. No matter what you think you’re saving for, understand that at some point you will want to escape and you need a fund behind you. No matter how little you earn, you can always save.
  3. Don’t be afraid of a big change – you can live in denial for a year or you can make a snap decision and face up to what you have known all along – travel is the way out.
  4. Becoming editor of This Festival Feeling is one of the best things you will have done up to this point – enjoy it and really squeeze everything you can out of it.

After a request from a fellow blogger, I’m turning this post into a blogging tag! My first one, and I’m hoping you’ll all enjoy writing this post as much as I have. I want to all to share the advice and things you would say to your former self – then nominate five bloggers to do the same. My nominations are:

     Charlie          Holly          Jasmine          Aftab          Antoinette

Enjoy ladies!

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Ab Lucy sign off

PS. Don’t forget to vote for me in the UK Blog Awards travel and lifestyle categories!! Click here and here to cast your votes xx

The Eternal Battle: Qualifications vs. Experience

battleThis is a subject that comes up time and time again, and after receiving an email from friend a few weeks ago asking for some advice on how to get into journalism – I thought it might be about time I tackled this subject in a post. Everyone has a different opinion on whether qualifications or experience have the greater input into where you end up in life, and I know there are great examples for both sides – but I know so many students are left confused by which one they should be focusing on. When you’re at university, you’re constantly told you need to gain more experience but when you try to get some you are told you’re not qualified for the role. It’s an eternal battle and a vicious cycle – one that many students struggle to break. So which one should you be concentrating on?

Experience

I will always be a champion for the experience route, I may be an English Language and Communication and English Literature graduate, but I’ll be honest when I say that my degree has not really had much influence over where I have ended up. I loved studying for my degree because I was passionate about both subjects, and I would always argue that if you are passionate about something it is worth studying. But it is easy to think a degree will get you where you want to be when in actual fact they really won’t in many cases. While studying at university, I applied for work experience at national publication, More Magazine, where I spent two weeks working on the fashion desk, helping on photoshoots and so on… It wasn’t for me, but it gave me my first piece of worthwhile experience to add to my CV. Work experience at my local newspaper turned out to be the most valuable – after five days I had the front page and had been asked to write a weekly column. I also worked full time for a month with them (paid) before returning to university and was given a job upon graduating. Since graduating, I have also started writing for a festival news and reviews site, of which I was made the editor. It has not only given me great experience, but it looks fantastic on my CV and will help me in the future. Despite not being a fully-qualified journalist, I have worked in two journalistic roles since graduating three-four years ago all because of the experience I have gained. I know other fully qualified journalists who have put a lot of time into becoming qualified, but have been stuck with unpaid writing work or copy writing roles instead of journalism.

Of course, not everyone is trying to be a journalist. But this is something that will work in most professions – I have friends who work in retail, in marketing and advertising, in engineering and several who have become teachers. All of them have had to gain experience in their chosen fields before they were able to progress in their careers – it has just come in different forms. For one engineer, he was given experience and training as part of the course to become qualified for his role. For the retail worker, she started as a shop assistant and gained experience while working on the job, which allowed her to work her way up and become qualified as an office manager. All of the teachers had to gain experience of working in schools, mostly unpaid, alongside their PGSE studies so that they could finish their qualification. And those in marketing and advertising found their experience vital to gaining employment in bigger and better companies upon graduating – completing a placement year or few months while studying was a necessity. Of course, all of them also needed qualifications in one form or another, but their experience played a much larger part in their overall career path.

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Qualifications

In many fields, experience can be impossible to gain without having some kind of qualification beforehand. Journalism can be a tricky one, particularly if you are applying for work experience before studying for an NCTJ, because there is so much competition. I was lucky that I was given the opportunity to do work experience at the newspaper because I was the first in over five years to do so, and I wasn’t even studying journalism! But I know of many student journalists who have struggled to get experience without already being enrolled on a journalism course. If you know that you want to study journalism, it is a good idea to just go for it and study for your NCTJ because some papers are unwilling to take on work experience students when they do not have skills like shorthand, or a knowledge of media law. Don’t do a journalism degree! I can’t stress this enough – I know so many journalists who have done a degree and then have had to pay to study for a NCTJ afterwards because they haven’t fulfilled all of the criteria. If you want to study a degree as well, why not do like I did and study English or another humanities subject you have an interest in? Just bear in mind it is important, particularly if you want to work for a newspaper or news site, to be qualified. But also bear in mind, that there are lost of people out there who are working as journalists and freelance writers who are unqualified. It is not necessary to have a NCTJ, but it is a helpful addition to your CV and skills.

Don’t feel like I am down on qualifications and how useful or important they are. I have always taken them very seriously, whether they were GCSE’s or final exams at university, and I always think it is worth working towards having an official document saying you can do something – even if you have known you can do it for ages before. It is an achievement for yourself, and it also proves to the world that you can do something. Being officially qualified puts you ahead of the pack, if two people go for an office manager job and one has completed a managing course and the other hasn’t – the employer will probably favour the one who has. When a potential employer is just looking at your CV, having an extra qualification on there can mean the difference between a new job and the dole. It can also mean a huge difference between the rate of pay – having an extra qualification can mean you are entitled to thousands more a year overall. It can also mean being paid significantly less than someone who is doing exactly the same job as you – soul destroying. I would always recommend trying to get a well-rounded CV packed with experience and qualifications – both will play a part in getting you where you want to be.

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But which one is more important to you? For me it has to be experience – as much as I love and am proud of my degree, I have found my working experiences invaluable. My time spent working at the newspaper and the festivals site has changed what I want to do with my life and has given me the confidence, knowledge and skills to achieve that with or without the qualifications. I see them as an added bonus to my life, but not something that will hold me back or prevent me from achieving my career dreams. I know that it will be different for those working in different fields – but I would love to know about your experiences of different industries.

Do qualifications or experience mean more to you? Which has played a larger part in bringing you closer to your dream?

Ab Lucy sign off

So… I quit my job!

quitIt finally happened. The moment I’ve been counting down to, that has never seemed quite real, and that I’ve been waiting for all year. The moment when my travelling dreams finally became a reality. This time last week…

I QUIT MY JOB.

Holy shit. I can’t actually believe I finally did it. It still hasn’t sunk in despite everyone at work wanting to know all about my plans – where I’m going, how long for and who with. I keep repeating the same combination of words: solo, Thailand, Cambodia, Australia, hostels, seven months, saving money, so excited… but no matter how many times I say them, I really cannot believe that they make up my  plans for the next year. It just seems odd to me that this could finally be here, that my adventure is nearly within a fingertip’s grasp, that I can almost taste the Thai spice and salty sea air on my lips. You see, I’ve spent the best part of my life day dreaming about where I would go, what I would do and the people I would meet if I ever made my travel dreams a reality. I’ve spent the last year dreaming of a future that I couldn’t quite piece together, and I’ve spent the last 11 months saving, planning and booking the trip of a lifetime. And now, I have 10 weeks left until I board that plane all by myself and finally make that leap to full independence and take on a scary solo journey.memoriesI won’t lie, I’m pretty terrified. But I’m also more excited than I have ever been about any decision in my life, and that is what tells me I’m doing the right thing. It’s something I’ve dreamt of all my life and it is something I have more than earned the opportunity to do after working so hard for so many years. I have been working four jobs on and off this year, I have done everything asked of me and gone beyond the call of duty at all four jobs. I have put the time into setting the groundwork for a great career, put endless time into friendships and relationships. Now I deserve to take some time for myself. To enrich my own life, steal some real independence and strike out on my own. Don’t get me wrong, I am a very independent gal and anyone who knows me well enough will tell you the same. But the truth of the matter is, I have always been lucky enough to be surrounded by amazing friends, family, colleagues and to have a fantastic boyfriend by my side. This means I have never really had the chance to do anything by myself – university was the one thing where I struck out on my own but I had a huge group of great mates from the first day so it never seemed a challenge. This is something that will test me in every way possible – it will terrify me, make me rely on myself to keep me out of trouble, to take chances, to meet people, to find my way, to make a plan and all the rest. It is a big challenge when you have always had someone to help out along the way. That is the exciting part. lifeisanadventureI’m also really looking forward to finally having time to really reassess my life. I’m at a point where I think it would really do me good to take a step back and take a look at things, before making my mind up about my next move. I want time to indulge myself and to discover new passions, interests and loves. I want time to really dedicate to blogging and writing what I love, and I really want time to discover more of the world and more of myself. It is so easy to get caught up in the day-to-day rush of working so much and never really taking time to smell the roses – well now I want to smell the roses, and the spices, and the flavours the world has to offer. Yes it means leaving behind friends, family, and a boyfriend that means the world to me, but in the grand scheme of things, it is a short-term sacrifice for a lifetime of happiness. That is the best way of explaining it to those who I know don’t understand how I can leave behind these things. Adventure and risk are the best way to discover what you really what to be doing, by stepping outside of your comfort zone, you find out where your boundaries really lie.Travel-quote-4So how did I do it? Quit my job I mean. I know there are a lot of people who have been asking me how I went about it, so I though this post could explain the few steps I took to quitting my job. It was one of those things that seemed like a huge task, but when it came down to it, it was so simple and so easy. I had lots of friends and family joking about how I would do it – would I go in and slam down my resignation letter? Would I just storm out in a dramatic moment? Would I just not bother turning up any more? Haha of course not. So how did I do it?

  1. I took some time to look over my contract and our company’s intranet to see what options were available to me and what notice I would have to work.
  2. I wrote a short and simple letter of resignation, stating my reasons for leaving and what date would be my last working day.
  3. I decided to ask about a career break, but had my back-up resignation ready if needed.
  4. I asked for a meeting with my boss and did so two months ahead of my leaving date, despite my notice period only being a month – to help the company source a replacement.
  5. In the meeting, I explained my plans to my boss, mentioned how grateful I was for my time at the company and the experience I had gained, and said that in future I would be keen to write pieces on a freelance basis if needed.
  6. I spoke to HR and tracked down any missed holiday time that needs to be taken before I leave, and booked it quickly.
  7. I made a plan to contact all of my regular contacts with the news and to direct any future communication to a colleague.

Seven simple steps that took me from being a full time employee of the company to an unemployed traveller who is set to embark on a huge trip across the world early next year. It may seem really daunting to quit your job and a bit scary to have to basically reject the company after your time there, but you must remember you are completely entitled to leave at your will and move on whether to develop your own career or try something different. Don’t feel guilty for quitting your job, but remember to be respectful and grateful for what you have gained by being a part of the company. You never know when you will need a good reference, or when that job will affect your future or give you the right contacts for your next move. Don’t underestimate the power of a thank you and the importance of keeping things polite and civil to the bitter end – even if you have really hated your time in that job.travel-bugIt’s an exciting time – that’s for sure. I’m slap-bang in the middle of a couple of courses of jabs, I’m working every hour going to save more money and trying my hardest to see as many friends as possible. I still have so much to do and so little time to do it in. If any of you are planning your travels – don’t let fears of quitting your job stand in your way. It is one of the most freeing things you can do.

How did you go about it when you quit your job to take up another or travel the world? Any tips you would like to add from your own experiences?

Ab Lucy sign off

Those wobbly teeth are back haunting my dreams

Photo by TarynAfter all these festivals, it’s been pretty strange but a totally amazing feeling to be back in my own bed. I don’t think you ever truly appreciate how comfy and cosy your own bed is until you’ve spent this many weekends sleeping in a field. I’m lucky that we have such a good, waterproof tent and some nice sleeping mats that keep us about as happy as could be while staying at the festivals, but it’s always a good feeling to come home and crawl into a bed with fresh, clean sheets on it. Especially when you get it all to yourself after being stuck in a small sleeping bag in a crowded tent for four nights. So needless to say, I’ve been pretty keen to make the most of my lovely bed and have been trying my best to catch up on some serious shut-eye since the last festival – after doing three in a row, I was seriously behind on my zzz’s. But for some reason, I seem to be struggling with my sleeping pattern.

When I first came back from BoomTown Fair, I actually settled straight back into sleeping at the right times, but as the days rolled by and I returned to work, I seem to have slipped into a rubbish pattern of going to bed really late and having a pretty disturbed sleep thanks to some odd and rather traumatic dreams. Going to bed late is all my own fault, I can’t put that on anybody else, I just have so much to do and I have definitely taken on more work than there is time to do it in. Working all these extra hours means I go to bed and I’m already overtired and exhausted, but because I’ve been working full pelt, I feel really wired and can’t seem to wind down early enough to get a good night’s rest before starting all over again. In the mornings, I find myself pushing it later and later to get out of bed, then rush like a madwoman to get out the door in time to get to work – just praying for the morning I get a good lie-in.Photo by Pedro Ribeiro SimõesIt’s pretty exhausting because there’s also lots of other stuff happening at the moment, and being the busy bee I am, I just can’t bear to turn anyone down. Everyone seems to want to do something, and having so many different groups of friends means I want to spend time with everyone, but it gets to a point where it starts cutting out my me-time and more importantly, my sleep-time! I keep telling myself it will be over when August finishes and I know that is the case – so that thought is keeping me going, but in the meantime, it seems I might be stuck with some odd dreams to deal with. The latest one is a dream that I have always had, on and off, throughout my life. It’s one that I’m sure many of you will have experienced and it is a horrible feeling because they seem so real. It’s the one where you dream that your teeth are wobbling in your mouth and eventually fall out or crumble in your mouth.

Loose teeth in dreams signify that you are facing a difficult decision or transition time in your life. Common dream scenarios involve discovering that a few teeth have come loose; you may feel that a tooth is not stable and you’re worried is will come loose. These dream images point to concerns about the stability of your foundations in life and the prospect of letting go of something important to you.

Photo by Susan SermonetaThese dreams couldn’t be more apt at the moment if this is what they truly mean, and I do take dream interpretation quite seriously. I just figure that we constantly have so many thoughts in our heads, just flying around, that there must be loads left over and that there are so many we spend our time trying to squash. At night when we are most relaxed they are free to roam around our heads, but they often get confused and these feelings represent themselves in different ways. The teeth dreams are ones that seem to come to me when I am stressed, overworked and tired, and guess what – bingo! I’m all three at the moment and with lots of bigger issues to think about with travelling and various other things, it’s clear that I have some big decisions to make. I guess now the reality of going travelling by myself is starting to hit me as I now have less than five months until I head off into the great unknown with nothing but my backpack for company. I’m not worried about it, I actually can’t wait, but it just shows me quite how much time I have left to organise, save and book my trip and I’m starting to panic a bit because I know full well how quick time flies.

But it’s okay – after all of the lovely comments and messages I’ve had over my Drowning in a Tea Cup post, I’ve been reminded not to feel alone or to let myself get overwhelmed as I did before. I’m keeping on top of things, just about, and am trying to prioritise so that if there are some things that can wait, I can put those off until after the next two busy weeks. Fingers crossed the dreams don’t return as I really do hate feeling so vividly that my teeth are wobbling and crumbling – it’s awful!

Have you had any strange recurring dreams – share them below? Or do you have another interpretation for me, or even some advice for how to get back on top of planning for travelling?

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Carry on… Saving

401K 2012It’s been just under six months since my last money saving post and I thought it was about time to update you all on my progress. As you will probably all know by now, I have huge plans for next year to finally follow my heart and travel across South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand all by myself. I’m a crazy mix of scared and excited, but I’m not letting myself get too far ahead at the moment as I have so much saving and organising left to do before I can really dive into the whole experience. Of course, as you can imagine, the more money I have saved away, the better and easier the experience will flow, and, even more importantly, the longer I can relax and enjoy the trip before needing to find work. This is my main priority because the biggest point of the trip is to give myself some well deserved time off from working after having some quite high stress jobs and working since I was 14-years-old. I want some time to myself to really appreciate life and to figure out what my next move will be – the best way for me to do that is to take myself away from all routine and everything that makes life easy.

In my last post, back in February, unfortunately I didn’t say how much I had saved at that point but from my vague memory I don’t think it was very much. I now have saved almost £6,000, not including my savings from this month’s wages and a further £2,000 that I have been saving through a monthly savings plan I set up with my mum. There is also a lot of money in my eBay/Paypal accounts waiting to be claimed from selling lots of my clothes. I’m feeling pretty proud of all that considering that I actually get paid less than anyone I know and with all the festivals and events I have been covering, I have still been able to clock up so much without any other part of my social life suffering. It just shows you that it really is possible to save and still have a life at the same time – it just takes a bit of creativity, a lot of hard work and a new attitude to money.adventureWith the big plans I laid out for money saving back in February came a to-do list and I can now say that I have ticked off a fair few things from my list, and some more that weren’t even listed! I have switched my phone contract and now pay £11 – saving around £300 in the year. I have made a few hundred pounds off selling clothes on eBay and I haven’t even really been trying – I plan to sell a lot more when it gets to autumn and I have more time. I haven’t been spending very much money on nights out at home, in fact I just haven’t been on any! I’ve saved myself for special occasions like a friend’s birthday in London or a university reunion, and of course the festivals. I have made it clear to friends that I can’t afford to do much while the festivals are going on and am doing well at budgeting for them and making sure I spend within my limited budget. With all the festivals I have scored free tickets through my work at This Festival Feeling – trust me it is well deserved as I do a lot of work for them! This means all I have to pay for is travel, food and drink when I am at them. Asking for money as birthday presents meant I was able to fund my iPad Mini and new camera thanks to a combination of savings and gifts so I am well equipped for my travels and just need a backpack. I’m still entering all those competitions and  live in hope of a big win, but no luck as yet.

And as I mentioned, I was looking for extra work back in February but had no luck on the copywriting front – although I’m not sure I could spend much more time each week writing. Instead, I have secured a new job at a local pub where I will be waitressing and working on the bar for a couple of nights a week once the festivals are over. I have also been babysitting for a friend one evening a week – something which is a wonderful experience for me, a great chance for me to spend time with the little cutie and to earn a bit of extra cash. I’m also treating both jobs as great opportunities to get some more recent experience in both fields – all my previous shop work and waitressing experience dates back years – which will only be helpful when it comes to job-hunting on my travels. As much as I hope and dream of finding a more permanent job out there either in journalism or writing, I know that realistically, I am more likely to find something quickly in waitressing, bar work or as a nanny. Having recent work on my CV for each will work in my favour and hopefully put me above the rest of the applicants while helping me earn some cash to get there.

I’ll be honest and say I’m bloody exhausted and I’m actually ill as I write this for the first time in months –  I reckon it must be because I’m tired, but I refuse to give up and give in. Just another month or two until festival season finishes, then I will have lots more time to work extra hours and will be freer at weekends. Being less busy means I will be able to save twice as much from my wages each month. Everything around us is only temporary and that is what I am keeping in mind – as tired as I am at the moment, I have an end game and a goal and will do whatever it takes to get there. As far as I’m concerned, determination has got me this far and that will be what gets me there. Bring it on!

Have you got any suggestions for other ways in which I can earn extra cash or cut back slightly more? All suggestions welcome!

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