Thoughts from the road

When I need to think, I run

Category: Lifestyle (page 1 of 3)

The Five Minute Difference…

How to kill procrastination in five minutes

If you are sat procrastinating you’re not alone.  Plenty of people put off the things they have to do until ‘later’.  A lack of motivation can stall any task, no matter how trivial or small it might seem.  Those tasks never get done.

I read about the five-minute difference some time ago.  If you can’t break out of an unproductive rut and find yourself struggling for motivation, do something that you can complete in five minutes.  Then move onto the next task, and the next until you have completed all your five-minute tasks.  You can then look back on all the tasks you completed instead of ruing a missed opportunity to get things done.  This technique, it was proposed, increases waning motivation levels and it definitely works for me.

Sometimes, a little momentum is all you need.  The most difficult part of any task is getting started and we all know how difficult that feels.  Often, tasks seem more daunting before you begin them because you still have it all left to do; get started and find your flow and that problem goes away.  By building on the tasks you can get done in a short period of time you then find yourself on a roll and much more motivated to tackle bigger challenges.

The key to success is to start the process.  We all know that if we continually postpone tasks until tomorrow, tomorrow never comes.

A New Opportunity…

The Opportunity to make the change

There are far too many excuses to avoid living life to the full.  This week, I have started an internship in digital marketing and social media, an industry I am really interested in (who’d have guessed?)!  Taking this new opportunity involves not just changing direction to start out on my dream career path but also making changes to my daily life.

Continue reading

Controlled

Abuse and The Boiling Frog Analogy

Those of you who know me will have probably heard me explain the boiling frog analogy at great length.  I love it.  For all the wrong reasons.  It is applicable to so many people in their daily lives.  It is a part of a greater problem which needs to be tackled in society but before it can be stopped, people need to realise the situations they are in.

Continue reading

Four Positives of a 4AM Alarm

Rolling over to switch my alarm off at 4am is never something I look forward to.  My bed is always at its comfiest when I know I have to get up for an early shift.  Often, waking up before 6am feels like a chore and my bed suddenly becomes the most comfortable it has ever been.  Yet despite the downsides, there are some benefits to waking up so early…

Peace

Whilst nearly everyone is still in bed, the world is a more tranquil place.  Everywhere is still and there are no phone calls or distractions preventing you from getting those niggling jobs done before work.  This also provides the perfect time to contemplate; and whilst I would never advocate setting a 4am alarm just so you can ponder which sandwich filling to choose for tomorrow’s lunch if you just happen to be awake take your opportunity!

peaceful-beach

A peaceful evening on the beach in Paphos, Cyprus

Wildlife

As the dawn breaks the peace gives way to nature, at least for a while.  The early morning birdsong is a welcome exchange for an extra hour in bed!  I live in an urban area and have often been surprised at some of the animals who cross my path whilst driving in the early hours.

leaf-on-the-pavement

A leaf in my path.  November 2016

Roads

Save for the overnight truckers and fellow shift workers the roads are empty.  Whilst there are often diversions in place whilst roadworks are done at night, main thoroughfares which are always bustling during the day are often clear.  Plus, a quick detour during a quiet hour of the morning beats sitting in a traffic jam any day of the week!

Radio

Radio stations are full of adverts and endless chatter between hosts during the day.  At night there’s more music to be enjoyed.  There’s nothing better than to drive to work to your favourite tunes!  Devoid of energy in the early hours I love having the radio turned up loud to spur me on.  By the time I get to work I just know it’s going to be a Beautiful Day!

Something to look forward to…

The Year Ahead

Life can often run away from you if you don’t have a plan.  This year I was determined to start off with a plan of things that I wanted to do throughout the year so that I have something to look forward to every few weeks.  This list is in no way a complete run down of my year (that’d take far too long) but these are the events which I think will form the highlights:

Frances at Gorilla, 3rd April:  It is no secret that Frances is one of my favourite music artists and I am really excited for when her tour hits Manchester just next month.  After following her rapidly progressing career online, there will be no better feeling than seeing her perform in person.

The High Kings:  I was excited to find that The High Kings were touring last year only to be disappointed when all the tickets had sold out.  This year The High Kings are returning to England to perform in Leeds, Warrington and Birmingham and I am going to see them!  Part of my family comes from Ireland so I’ve been brought up with Irish music, The High Kings’ modern take on traditional Irish music is something special and seeing them live is going to be a real treat!

Ramsbottom Chocolate Festival, 8th/9th April – Ramsbottom’s annual chocolate festival returns for its 9th year.  I have visited this fantastic weekend for the last five years and have enjoyed it on each occasion so far.  It is made all the more special this year as a result of the doubt over whether the festival would go ahead after health and safety concerns due to the festival’s popularity and high visitor numbers!  The good news for chocoholics everywhere is that the Chocolate Festival will return this year.  It promises to be ‘bigger and better than ever’ according to the festival’s organisers.  That is a claim I wouldn’t like to argue with…

County Cricket Season:  I love cricket and the county cricket season is almost upon us.  With a season ticket for Lancashire I will be sure to watch a few games live at Old Trafford.  There’s nothing better than watching the cricket in front of the pavilion on a sunny day…

Great Manchester 10k:  I will be taking part in my first Great Manchester 10k.  I’m looking forward to being part of such a great event and want to set a new PB under 50-minutes.  The challenge is set!

Manchester Food and Drink Festival – 28th September to 9th October:  As with all things food and drink, there are few better events to experience a wide range of world cuisines than Manchester Food and Drink Festival.

Cup North, Manchester – 4/5th November:  This will be my first visit to Cup North, Manchester’s coffee-cum-food-festival which takes place in Victoria Warehouse on Trafford Road.  I’m looking forward to meeting different roasters, learning about coffee making techniques and best practices.  Cup North is also a good opportunity to find out about any coffee houses that I need to visit in the next year.

Christmas Markets – November/December:  Yes, I know we haven’t even reached Easter but there is no denying that I am a huge fan of wandering around Manchester or York Christmas markets.  Listening to the brass band play Fairytale of New York whilst sipping Gluehwein is my idea of the perfect winter’s night.  With the vast crowds which gather at the markets in the weeks leading up to Christmas, you can’t help but feel festive.  The Christmas Markets are the perfect way to get into the spirit of Christmas whilst having a good time with your friends.

March Musings

Junkyard Golf

This weekend, I celebrated a friend’s birthday.  I’m no golfer but was surprised to find myself doing particularly well in our game of mini-golf at Junkyard until the very last hole.  Eight shots later and my score didn’t look quite so rosy!  Junkyard Golf is a quirky idea and worth a visit if you are out to have a laugh with friends whilst sipping on a beer – you can’t do that on an 18-hole course.  And why wouldn’t you want a selfie with a sign like this?

17017152_10154991618220782_7195943281767295404_o

A New Writing Venture

Whilst I haven’t posted on the blog for a while, I have started writing for an online publication which I will post the details of when the article is published in the next week or so.  It has been a different challenge writing for an online magazine compared with posting on this blog and one that I have enjoyed and intend to do more of in the future.

Pushed to the Limit with my PT

It’s now day three of my four days off from work and I am enjoying the freedom of waking up at a normal time (read:  not 3am), going running, to the gym, meeting up with friends and living like a 22-year old for once!  Today, I have started back with my PT after 6 months of training on my own and I’m sat here asking myself exactly how six months have passed so quickly!  It’s fair to say that I was given a well needed roasting this morning.  Even though I have been training on my own, I have realised quite how much knowing what you are doing makes a difference.

The weather outside isn’t too bad, I just hope it holds out until I go back to work before turning nasty again.  Going outside without having to layer up feels really liberating at this time of year, just one reason why I love March so much.  It also means that I can shop for some well needed new clothes; although I’m no big lover of clothes shopping so plan to do it all online.  It won’t be long before shorts + t-shirts are in full force and everyone is sat around a barbecue with a beer…

My First Coffee Cupping

I’ve also got my first coffee cupping on Thursday with Atkinson’s at my regular coffee haunt Grind & Tamp.  I’m really looking forward to the whole experience and although I have read up on what to expect it will be good to attend a coffee cupping for the first time.  Trying different coffees side by side with knowledgeable roasters on hand to answer questions about the way the coffees are roasted and their tasting notes should be a really enjoyable experience.  And, of course, I will blog about the night later this week!

 

Productive Traits of an Early Bird

Starting the day the right way

I often find myself awake during the early hours of the morning, either in order to go to work for a 4am start or because my body clock has failed to notice that it is acceptable to have a lie in on a day off!  How frustrating!  This morning is the last of my week’s holiday and after a fantastic but very tiring weekend in Spain I was ready for one last lie in before my first early alarm call tomorrow morning.  Alas, it was not to be!

I woke shortly after half past four.  At least I think I did.  I’ll admit that I didn’t check the time straight away as I clung on to the hope that I might be able to drift back off until a more reasonable hour of the morning.  An hour later and with no chance of returning to the land of nod, I started my day in earnest.

I enjoy making a little time in the morning to wake up before starting on any jobs that I have to do.  More often than not I will factor in time for breakfast as well as ten minutes to watch Sky Sports, especially if there is live cricket!  In that time I will also write down anything pressing that I need to remember for the day ahead.

The Power of the To Do List for Productivity

On my days off I often find myself ticking off a to-do list.  I bought myself a 2016/2017 diary last year which has a handy space next to each week where you can pen a quick note.  I use mine to remind myself of the large list of things I need to get done.  This week’s list involves making phone calls, cancelling Spotify Premium when my current discount expires and buying a new phone after mine came to an untimely death last week.  I also need to find some session plans for the gym as I didn’t have the time to find any last week before flying out to Spain.  Now I’m back on home soil I have no excuse!

The Importance of Good Coffee

Productivity can’t be achieved without good coffee and I always have one soon after getting up to start my day.  Today’s first blend is provided by Grind and Tamp as I still have some of their Christmas blend left over.  No doubt I will have another coffee later on.  Although making coffee with an Aeropress is more time consuming than using an instant variety I always find that the ends are worth the means, even if it is ridiculous-o’clock!

Blue Monday: The Self Fulfilling Prophecy

Today is Blue Monday.  The day in the year we are supposedly meant to feel at our lowest.  The focus today is on our unhappiness and the press haven’t let themselves down in this respect with articles on a number of newspaper websites highlighting the misery of this supposed occasion.

Feeling down yet?

The Telegraph‘s article on this occasion cites Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and the death of many publicly adored celebrities in 2016 as reasons to be blue.  However, these events have already happened, they are not unique to today.  And although the celebrities who have passed away will not be forgotten, there is nothing about the 16th January which is inherently related to their passing.  Indeed, by running articles on the fact that we are meant to be feeling blue, are the media perpetuating the problem?  After all, focusing so intently on Blue Monday will, psychologically, make a person feel worse than they were doing before it was brought to their attention.  The Telegraph also have a rather handy countdown clock if you really can’t bear the thought of facing today!

Privately, you might be regretting those large bills accumulated over Christmas or an already failed New Year’s Resolution.  Of these problems, only you are in control.  The first few weeks of a resolution are the hardest; they test the mettle of even the hardiest character.  Given up smoking?  Your cravings will be at their worst in the first few weeks.  Resolved to eat more healthily?  You’ve likely still got a stack of unhealthy treats from well meaning friends and relatives from the festive period.  Stay strong; carry on when the times are at their hardest and you will thank yourself later.

As I purchased my coffee this lunchtime I greeted the person behind the counter with my usual smile.  They smiled back.  We exchanged pleasantries and I went back to work.  No moping around to see here.

Although there may be research behind the claim that Monday 16th January is the bluest day of the year for many, the danger in publicising ‘Blue Monday’ is that it shifts the focus onto reasons to be miserable even if you weren’t to begin with.  The self fulfilling prophecy begins at the point you believe that today was destined to be a bad day.  It is no different to tomorrow, just like Friday 13th is just like any other Friday.

 

This morning I woke an hour earlier than my alarm; instead of lying in bed I seized the moment, grabbed my diary and noted down everything that I need to do this week.  Once I realised that I was not going to drift back to sleep for any significant length of time I got up, took a look at my list and set about ticking items off as best I could.  Unaware of Blue Monday, my early start this morning was as productive as I have been since Christmas. When Joel and Lorna broke the news that it was Blue Monday, it was too late.  Today was already a good day…

Optimism for 2017…

The new year is a time when we are granted the opportunity to draw a line under the last 12 month, whether good or bad, and start afresh.  This year I have taken this opportunity to both plan and look ahead to the next 12 months.  Here are some of the things I resolve to see and do in 2017.

Running – 10k Challenge

My first goal is simple.  Set a new 10k personal best time by the end of March.  After narrowly missing out on a sub-50 minute time in the first Bury 10k in 2016, I have set myself the goal of going one minute quicker this year.  Why March?  There are plenty of 10k races in March and by that time of the year running is starting to get more pleasant as the UK thaws out.  By giving myself a full three months to train I also aim to put work in both on the road and at the gym to ensure that I can achieve my target finish time.

pat-pacers

The PAT Pacers after completing the Bury 10k!

Travel Somewhere New

My second resolution for the new year is to travel more and explore somewhere new.

In 2016 I travelled abroad to three different countries, visiting Switzerland for the first time.  I also made trips to Italy and Cyprus in resorts I have visited before at some point.  I did very little travelling within the UK, visiting North Wales once in autumn.

In 2017, I want to see more of the world.  I am intrigued at the prospect of travelling to Germany, mainly because of the Porche museum in Stuttgart.  I’m no adrenaline junkie but when it comes to cars I love to see supercars performing to their limits.  After driving a Porche 911 on a supercar day last year I want to learn more about the car which brought me so much excitement.  Stuttgart also appeals because of the cheap flights, the Old Town of Shillerplatz and the opportunity to see yet more fast cars at the Mercedes-Benz museum.

supercars

I am also keen to travel back to Ireland for the first time since my childhood.  Although I visited as a child I would love to go back as it is a place so close to my heart.  County Mayo’s tranquillity is in stark contrast to the busy metropolis of Manchester and the sight of Crough Patrick always feels like home.

 

Frances

My third reason for being excited for the year ahead is that I am seeing Frances live in Manchester!  Whilst I regularly watch sport, mainly cricket, live at a stadium, I rarely attend music events.  It is well documented on this blog that Frances is one of my favourite artists and I am thoroughly looking forward to seeing her perform live.

 

2017 is also going to be the year I continue to learn how to box with my PT, attempt to resolve my New Years Resolution 2015 by finally going around a big wheel (who’s with me?!) and go on a stag do in Benidorm.  Although 2016 may have felt like a drag for some, I’m looking forward to what 2017 has in store!

On Reflection… 2016

2016 has widely been dubbed a bad year by many but here I reflect on my highlights of an eventful year.

Most beautiful place I have visited:  I have been to Paphos Cyprus, Geneva in Switzerland and Gabbice Mare in Italy this year.  I was lucky enough to be invited to a wedding in Montefabbri in Italy near to Gabicce, hence my trip.  The scenery around the venue was breathtaking, the venue was in the countryside, surrounded by rolling hills lit up by sunlight as far as the eye could see.  Although I have now visited the area no less than eleven times, the beauty and surroundings of Gabicce Mare never grow old.

Best Meal:  When I travel to different places I particularly enjoy trying the local cuisine in an attempt to try as much of the world’s food as humanly possible.  Upon arrival in Paphos late one evening this Easter very few restaurants were still open for business as the resort was so quiet, yet my family and I stumbled upon a delightful family run restaurant called Karlina’s just out of town.  After a four hour flight from Manchester I was more than a little peckish and the Swordfish did not disappoint.  The swordfish was served with a tomato salsa and chips seasoned to perfection (the seasoning really is worth a mention – it was beautiful!).  The service matched the standard of the food and although the restaurant was quiet and probably ready for closing by the time we arrived, the owner was more than happy to chat to us whilst we had our meal about the best places to visit during our short stay.  After a long day travelling it was the perfect evening.

Sporting Moment of the Year:  I am a huge sports fan and generally prefer cricket above all other forms of activity however this year would be different.  As the winter of 2015/16 wore on I became increasingly aware of Leicester City’s rise and the very real prospect that they could win the Premier League against all odds.  I began to watch more intensely and with greater intrigue with every passing match.  Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy’s knack for unlocking opponents defences gave Leicester the edge as they roared forward on the counter attack again and again.  When Claudio Ranieri lifted the trophy with his players in May of this year I could not help but feel elated for them.

Olympics 2016:  So iconic are the Olympics that I feel they deserve a separate mention from all other events this year.  In a year that cast darkness on the lives of many, the Olympics provided a focal point around which people could gather in excitement.  Team GB had done so well in 2012 many were asking how they could do better this year.  Although the Gold medal count was down by 2 from 29 to 27, the overall number of medals won increased by 2 making this the most successful Olympics for Team GB on foreign soil.  Laura Trott (now Kenny) and her now husband Jason Kenny took the limelight winning in their respective events.

Kenny’s performance in the Keirin was extremely exciting and nerve racking in equal measure as the event was stopped twice for riders passing the pacing bike too early.  As the race got underway for a third time the tension was mounting.  The nation held its breath.  Kenny delivered and in doing so equalled Sir Chris Hoy’s record gold medal tally (6).

Best Single of 2016:  I love music, I am always listening to Spotify and I play different tracks each day.  Lukas Graham’s 7 Years struck a chord with me although it was apparently released back in September 2015, who knew?  It climbed to Number 1 back in February of this year!  I love songs that are personal to the singer and 7 Years seems to be a song from the heart and it’s so relatable too.  In a similar vein, James Arthur’s Say You Won’t Let Go tells the story of someone wanting reassurance that the relationship is going to last whilst trying not to show their fears to their partner.  The message that James Arthur conveys throughout the song leads to some powerful and emotive lyrics including my favourite line ‘I played it cool when I was scared of letting go’.

Best Music Artist of 2016:  Those of you who follow my blog will know that this category is a foregone conclusion.  For me their is just one artist who can win this category, springing to the fore with her passionate and deeply personal Don’t Worry About Me, Frances has gone from strength to strength this year.  For all Frances fans, the news of her 2017 UK tour is extremely welcome and I look forward to seeing her live for the first time when the tour comes to Manchester.  Although Frances may not have hit the top spot in the charts with one of her singles quite yet, comparisons to Adele and her ever increasing popularity means this is just a matter of time.

Personal Achievement of 2017:  Although I have worked hard with the help of my personal trainer this year I am still not happy with my body.  I have already started setting myself challenges to improve aspects of my physique in the year ahead and look forward to them.  However, my personal achievement of 2017 is finishing the Bury 10k in a personal best time of 50.54.  My next challenge is making sure that isn’t my record for long!

 

These are my particular highlights of a rather challenging year.  Let’s see what 2017 has in store.

Older posts