Thursday, 19 May 2016

Book Review: Veronika Decides To Die

This book brought me a whole lot of feelings.

Last year I lost a friend to suicide and during that time when I was struggling to process what happened someone recommended I read 'Veronika Decides To Die' by Paulo Coelho. It brought me  sadness and acceptance, but I am incredibly glad I read it.

Veronika Decides to Die is a book about a young girl called Veronika. Veronika, as the title suggests, decides that she wants to end her own life. Veronika is popular, has a good job and a supportive family but she wants to give up her life through a frustration that this is it. This is all her life can offer her and she feels empty. She feels there is nothing else that she can give or wants to give in her life because she has it all...

This struck me straight off the page - how can someone give up when they think they have it all? What else was going through her mind? What led her to this?

The story unfolds and Veronika's attempt at suicide lands her in a psychiatric unit, closely monitored by a medical team - she is told that she only has a few weeks to live because of the damage to her system from her suicide attempt. Or so she is led to believe.

In that month Veronika put's her whole life into perspective with the help of the medical team and other patients. She learns more lessons in those 4 weeks than ever.

I won't tell you the ending but it is incredible. Get your tissues at the ready!

My copy is now full of notes - there are so many snippets to this book that can inspire you - if you're dealing with death or the loss of someone to suicide, if you're struggling with your own mental well-being or you're having a down day. It's all about putting everything into perspective.

This book made me think about those I have lost to suicide and to others who have lost loved ones through suicide. It's such a raw, intense feeling when it happens to someone you know, and I don't think you ever get over the shock.

I honestly believe suicide is a split second decision (I know some will disagree). What if you could press the slow-mo button before you make that decision? What if you had time to think about your whole life, intensely for a few weeks before you make your decision?

Suicide is such a common cause of death in our society and one that fills us all with so much sadness. Left with the unknown truth, the heartache and all the why, why whys?

One thing is for sure, Veronika Decides to Die made me reflect, made me think about life and helped me cope with losing our friend last year.

I just wish he could have read the book before he made his decision. Maybe things might have been different.


Wednesday, 18 May 2016

#FreelanceLife - 5 Tips That'll Get You Ticking-Off Those To-Dos!

The to-do list.

There's lots of reasons why we do them and lots of ways they've come about - even Benjamin Franklin banged on about 'to-do' lists back in the day and you know what I LOVE A LIST. There is something so satisfying about ticking off your jobs, your tasks - whatever it is.

And yes, I am the kind of person that'll write something I've already done on my list - just so I can tick it off. I feel like its a way of give yourself a pat on the back - recognition you've achieved something whether it's putting out the washing or completing a massive social media audit.

Since I've been freelancing I've lost count of the amount of times I've 'Googled' productivity, organisation, how to stay sane etc and I've come up with 5 tips that are making me more productive, more efficient and getting me more ticks!

1. Shop, sharp, successful bursts!

I picked up this tip from the incredible business journal I have my head stuck in at the moment. From the people that created the Daily Greatness Journal comes the Daily Greatness Business Planner. These guys recommend setting your daily actions into 90 minute chunks with a 10 minute break every 40 minutes. This method has worked wonders for me. Instead of getting distracted I discipline myself to 40 minutes of solid work then treat myself with 10 minutes of listening to a podcast, answering emails or calling a friend.

2. Music to your headphones

I LOVE listening to music while I work. But it has to be something totally chilled and something that doesn't carry emotions or memories - no girl's night out songs here! I recommend the Work playlists from Spotify - this one 'Music for Concentration' is my current favourite. A mix of minimalism, electronic and modern classic. It really gets me in the zone.


Brain food. I used to be terrible at eating breakfast - in fact I never used to eat breakfast. But now I've gotten into the habit of starting everyday with a glass of water and a slice of fresh lemon and either eggs and smoked salmon, a green smoothie backed with banana, spinach and pineapple or porridge with apples and sultana. Whatever I eat I make sure it's healthy and big enough to fill me up till lunch. Sugar snacking makes me lethargic and tired - easily losing concentration!

4. Let's go Outside

As I write this I've just got back from a lovely walk on the beach with my pooch. I find a mid-afternoon walk really strengthens my productivity for the rest of the afternoon. It gives me something to work towards, it gives me time to step away and it gives me time to re-align my actions and how I will achieve them on a daily basis. The fresh air does wonders for the mind!

5. Tidy desk, really does mean tidy mind

Some days I don't work from my office but on the days when I do I always start the day by tidying my workspace. Rejigging my motivational quotes, organising which notebook I'm using for the day and filing any paper I don't need for the day ahead. I'll always light a candle and open up the window for some fresh air too. I love my workspace - its calm. Working in a space you can walk away from is also hugely important!

What productivity tips do you have?

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