GOING PLASTIC FREE

22 Mar 2019


Over the past few months, I've posted a couple of posts in relation to cutting down waste specifically in beauty and also beyond.  One aspect that I find hard to escape is the use of plastic. While I make a conscious effort to buy loose veg, fresh unwrapped bread as well as beauty products that don't use plastic bottles, some necessities make it hard to escape the use of plastic. 

When I found out that a plastic-free shop had opened in York I was very excited to check it out and give it ago. Bishy Weigh is an independently run plastic free shop just a little out of the city of York. It has basically all the essential food items that make going plastic-free even more doable. 

My friend and I headed over to the shop just the other day and I loved the experience; it felt as though I was in a sweet shop yet everything was pasta and fruits. It was such a simple process; take your own Tupperware, weigh before you fill and then weigh again after it's full to calculate the exact price of what you've bought. No need to worry if you didn't bring your own containers, they have paper bags and also reusable cotton bags to buy which are so cute. 
There was such a good choice from your basics to gluten-free alternatives and some fab dietary information for each of the products. They also had an array of washing up liquids, detergents, spices etc. as well as some other beauty items like bamboo toothbrushes and reusable makeup wipes. 

This little shop has really encouraged me to be even more conscious about what I buy and that it is possible to live a plastic-free lifestyle. I'd love to see more shops like this popping up around the country as having it so close to home is a great luxury. 

If you're in the York area and want to have a visit yourself, you can find all the information and pricing on their Facebook Page. If you're even just a little interested and seeing some of their own tips for living plastic free as well as learning a little more about their story, check out their Twitter and Instagram. 

Do you have any tips for going plastic free? Would you consider giving it a go yourself? 
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

ORGANISING MY ONLINE WORKSPACE {AD}

11 Mar 2019



Clearing out the downloads

I’m forever downloading online papers, journals, powerpoints for university and they never seem to leave my downloads folder. So, first things first; if I need it, move it to a specific folder. If not, get rid. 
As I edit my blog photos on my phone and then send to my laptop, they also end up in my downloads and never have a proper home,  so moving these out of downloads is another thing I’ve been doing and finding them a better home. 

Making a habit out of downloading something and moving a specific folder it relates to keeps the space it’s taking up to a minimum and saves me not being able to find, for example, the paper I’m looking for, only to download it again and have duplicates. Speaking of moving things to folders…

Creating folders

Kind of how you’d split up a blog post; You have your title, heading, maybe sub headings and, even sub-subheadings. Slowly getting narrower may seem a bit silly but it has really helped to streamline my workspace and having things compartmentalised so specifically has made it even easier to find what I’m looking for. 

For example, I have a folder for each year of uni which is then split into the separate modules, then again into lectures and maybe even further into lecture material, revision notes and assignments if there was one. I then know exactly where something will be and where to go to find it. It sounds so simple ( because it is) but it’s something I know we all tend to neglect and just clump all those word files into ‘documents’ with no real structure. 

Reducing bookmarks

Whether it’s a recipe I have had bookmarked for over a year and probably won’t make or a dress from ASOS that is out of stock, regularly going through and seeing whether you really need that bookmark anymore, helps my internet browser look a little less cluttered and better organised to find a bookmark if and when I really need it. 

Deleting Apps

I can only really speak for an Apple user but, just like on my phone, I’m forever downloading random apps that I think I’ll use and actually never do. A lot of apps I have downloaded tend to exactly the same thing so it’s time to delete any that really do the same job and also I just don’t use. It makes it easier to then find those that I need. 


Unsubscribing to Newsletters

We all have those emails from sites that we ordered from once and just had to tick ‘subscribe to newsletter’. This can be quite a tedious task to do but I love not getting an abundance of emails I never read coming through every day. it means that I’m more likely to see more important emails and not miss any opportunities that may have got lost among the unwanted email clutter. 

Emptying the trash 

One thing I always forget but is one of the final touches to decluttering and organising my laptop is to get rid of all the files I’ve deleted once and for all. 



Decluttering the Desktop

I’m not usually one to have a messy desktop but, from trying to find a new home for my photos, they seemed to end up here.  I recently discovered an app calledDeclutter" that has come in very handy in decluttering my desktop. It automatically organises your files into folders that appear on your desktop based on the file type; all jpg, gif, png etc into photos, all doc, docx, pdf etc into documents. On the app store, this is usually £4.99. However, Setapp contacted me about the great tool they offer and I think you’ll love it. They offer a monthly subscription with access to apps that are usually quite pricey to buy on the App Store. You get exclusive access to these apps that usually costs and unlimited use each month with the apps they have constantly updating. Declutter is just one of their many apps that I’ve been loving.  You can learn more about the set-app and what it offers here {AD-aff.*}.  

Are you a student? They offer a fabulous discount of 50% making the monthly fee just £4.99 a month; read more and sign up for a free trial here {AD-aff}.  If you’re looking to get more organised, productive and creative, the Setapp has so many apps that really help with all these and more. 


So there are the ways that I organise my online workspace; it allows me to work more efficiently and I can more easily find everything I need.  Are there any tips you have for organising your computer? I’d love to hear!
Hope you’re doing great, 
Sarah x

AD-aff* refers to affiliate links where I receive a small percentage. However, all opinions remain my own and have full control over what I say and include in posts that use the links. 

READ, WATCH, LISTEN

7 Mar 2019

I think it’s about time I share with you a few of my favourites in the world of music, TV, books and blogging. I have some great recommendations that I hope you’ll like as well and want to give a go. 

Read

"We Should All Be Feminists" 

It had been a while since I’d read non-fiction as well as feminist based-book. When I spotted this in the library, I remembered I’d bought it as a present for a friend a few years ago and had been yet to read it. I’d describe this as a great pocket-guide to feminism. It sets out what feminism really is for so many women. It was such a short yet impactful read that I would recommend to anyone interested in feminism or, honestly, anyone; it can give people a simple sense of the good that feminism does and why it exists and why it is not just for females but for everyone. 

BECC4


I tend to flick between blogs and, honestly, don’t tend to stick to one blog. However, Becca’s posts have really been catching my attention recently and I have really enjoyed reading them.  They cover some great topics that aren’t always the usual, cliche topics. I also feel like I’m reading something by a friend with her “Sick Tings” posts especially; I love them! 

The Bliss Bean 

I think I’ve found the version of me I wish I was. Everything she’s done I’ve wanted to do. She’s learnt Korean, has a fabulous blog and Instagram and has posts that I just love to read. I love the resources she includes as a few freebies. This is a very recent blog find but one I’ll definitely be going back to in the future. 

Watch 

The Sinner

I was actually intrigued to watch season 2 more than 1. However, I wasn’t sure if I could get away with not watching the first season so I thought I’d start where, I guess, you are supposed to. After only finishing the first season, I can already highly recommend. If you haven’t heard of this before, it follows a detective who looks not really at who did it but why did they do it.  Each of the two seasons has focussed on a single murder investigation where the culprit is quite an unlikely person and the situation it happens is quite peculiar. With just one investigation taking up the whole season, I wondered if it would really hold my attention but every episode ended with me wanting to start the next one straight away which is always a sign that I’m a fan. 

Wonder

This is not a new film but one that I’ve discovered and adore. It’s become my go-to cry-but-feel-better-after film. I read the book many years ago now and had been meaning to get around to watching it. When it finally made its way on to Netflix and knew I had to watch it and I’m so glad it did. It did the book so much justice and got the really important plot points across. It’s really one for all the family and I would encourage everyone to give it a watch (and maybe give the book a read as well!)

Listen 

HONNE

HONNE has quickly become one of my most listened to artists. I especially love listening to them as I work. Their music is not distracting for when I work, I find really chilled and perfect focus music. I particularly love their songs “Location Unknown” and “I Just Wanna Go Back”. I really recommend checking out HONNE this month. 

H.E.R

This is another chilled artist I've been loving. H.E.R's voice is just so soothing. I'd say a female Frank Ocean but so much more power and I love it. If you haven't checked her out before, I'd definitely recommend. I'd specifically check out "Jungle" "Best Part" and "Hard Place"; they're among my favourites and probably some of her most well known so are a great place to start.

Hope you enjoyed reading about some of my recommendations! Anything you recommend for me to read, watch or listen over the next month?
Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x

FOCUS OF THE MONTH: CREATE

4 Mar 2019

It’s somehow already March and the third month of my little challenge. I really enjoyed letting Twitter decide what my focus would be last month and so I thought I’d do this again. I kind of already knew I wanted “CREATE” to be my word to focus on but it was nice to see those who voted, agreeing that it was a good choice. I think, funnily enough, that this month is going to be a tough challenge, but I think now more than ever and ready to focus on getting creative again. 

Writing

Apart from blogging, essay and reports and the odd article writing, I haven’t taken some time to write anything else since, I think, before coming to uni. Writing was something I used to love and I’d have so many ideas I wanted to express in words. However, as work mounted, I lost both my motivation and inspiration for writing. Now, I want to write again; whether good or bad, my aim is to produce and create something written that isn’t related to uni or blogging. I want to step outside my comfort zone and create something new that, maybe, I’ll share with you in the future. 

Painting

I love to paint- particularly watercolours. I’ve had a few opportunities to pick up the paintbrush but it’s been a while since I’ve created something I love. I’ve already started working on a piece taken from a music video I love. My aim is to keep working on this and, hopefully, finish it (even if just a rough first attempt) by the end of this month. 

Something I actually wanted to start in January but have yet to get round to is art journaling; I think this will be a really nice way to get some different ideas out without feeling pressured for them to be perfect. Just yesterday, I went an picked up a notebook that I think will be great for this. I’m hoping to start working my way through the book, starting this month. 

Finding inspiration

I think one reason my motivation is lacking is that I’ve stopped searching for inspiration, I’ve stopped reading, going to art exhibitions, listening to new music etc.  I want to try and search for as much inspiration as possible; whether that’s reading more or going to a gallery. 

Whenever I’ve read about where and how people get inspiration, one thing they say is to always have a place to jot down any ideas with you on the go.  With my phone constantly in my pocket, I may as well use it for good and take a few moments in a day to write down any ideas I have had that day. Maybe do some mind maps, lists; anything that gets me thinking a little more. 

Keeping the balance

In my February in Review, I said that February’s focus of “Balance” is definitely going to be an ongoing one. With deadlines approaching over spring break and preparation for my final exams, I want to make sure I’m making time for both revision and work as well as getting creative. 
I’m going to try and swap searching social media for reading and, instead of Netflix doing some writing. This way, I’ll have no excuse for not being able to create something this month. 


So there are my goals this month based around my focus of /Create/ Can you think of any other ways I could get creative this month? Any words of wisdom? 
What are your goals and focuses for March? 
Hope you’re doing great, 
Sarah x 

FEBRUARY IN REVIEW

28 Feb 2019

So here’s my second monthly round-up where I look back on the month and, also see how well I’ve managed to incorporate my focus of the month into my life. January’s Focus was “RENEW (you can read how well I got on here). For February, I let Twitter decide what my focus should be and they,  including myself, voted for “BALANCE”. At the start of the month I outlined what I wanted to use this month to focus on in relation to balance so, how well did I do? 

The Bad

This month started off on a bit of a downhill trajectory, I was actually really struggling to find the balance between university work, having time off, blogging etc. I really felt aware of the fact that I wasn’t making enough time for everything. Every time I was taking time off from working, I felt guilty for not and when I was working, I just didn’t feel like my head was in it. 

I had a few down days where I just didn’t want to do anything which, in the end, was not actually a bad thing. It actually really forced me to take a step back and have a break and I didn’t actually feel guilty. 

The Good 

This month had some stand-out positives. If you read my “HOW I PREPARED FOR MY EXAMS”  you may have seen I managed to get firsts on both my exams I took at the start of January. The results were such a shock but so glad my hard work paid off. I did question whether it was really worth the stress but I’m overall really happy and it’s made me motivated to do well over the rest of this term and going on into my final term of university. 

Looking back, some of my favourite days of the month were spent on my own going for a walk, sat in Starbucks, going to an exercise class and even blogging. I’ve really enjoyed spending some time doing these little things in between my uni work and they all helped improve my month. 

My parents and sister all came up to visit me as well this month and, even though just for an afternoon, we had a really nice time and got a chance to take some lovely photos of York which I shared in my “PHOTO DIARY: YORK” if you want to have a peek at the photos. 

While it’s had its down moments, February has been a month of realisations of what makes me happy and what doesn’t. It’s been really eye-opening to see what aspects of my life are important to me and make me happiest. 

What I’ve accomplished 


Looking back at some of the things I wanted to focus on relating to Balance this month, I think it’s a real 50/50 split as to what I feel I managed to accomplish and what needs a little more improvement. 

A highlight of this month, and one that I think I feel I implemented well and will be carrying on doing, is tracking my mood. I’ve found this really helpful to not only see what triggers my bad moods or what has made me happy on certain days, but it also allows me to track how often I do certain activities such as uni work, blogging, seeing friends. It has helped me see if I’ve been getting that balance in. The app I’ve been using is Daylio and I love it! I’m so happy I’ve started doing this in February. 


I feel like my diet has been slowly getting back to a good place. I’m in no way watching what I eat but more just making healthier choices and eating when I’m hungry. There have been days where I have treated myself but I’m slowly cutting back. This is probably going to be an ongoing focus for the future but I definitely have felt my diet has been getting better this month. 

In progress 

I’ll be honest, I forgot that one of my focuses of the month was to decrease my screen time. I had a quick check of the screen time recorded on my phone and, while it’s high, I can’t tell whether it’s any lower/higher than last month. I’ve noticed my Instagram daily average has gone down which is a plus but I still think my screen time needs to be reduced and I think this will be something that I can link into next months focus and try again at getting the screen time lower. 

Now, for the big one. My work-life balance has fluctuated throughout this whole month. It’s been the first month since summer that I’ve had more than one day off of doing any uni work at all and I’ve loved it. I felt a lot happier after having these days off and less overwhelmed as I managed to get my thoughts in order and sort out what I need to do and when for, without feeling too stressed. Having said that, I do feel there is more to be done for me to really get this balance. So, while I feel I’ve made steps forward in getting this balance, I still feel I can do a lot more and hopefully, this will progress further into the future months. I’ll be sure to keep you updated on how this goes. 

Overall, while there have been some bad parts, there have been some good moments. While I haven’t found the balance just yet, having this to focus on this month has definitely encouraged me to work towards having a balanced life in many different aspects. Balance is going to be a theme that I’m sure to carry into the next few months to really help me progress. I think once I get this balance, I will be a lot happier. 

How has your February been? I’d love to hear what you’ve accomplished this month and have you any plans for March?
Hope you’re doing great, 
Sarah x

HAPPY (& HELPFUL) HABITS TO IMPROVE YOUR DAY

25 Feb 2019


As I’m sure many do, when I hear “Habit” I immediately jump to the negative connotations of a bad habit. I've now realised that it doesn’t always have to be negative and that having certain habits in your routine can actually help and even improve your mood over time. With this, I thought I’d share with you a few habits I have tried to pick up in order to improve my mood and mindset throughout the day. 

Make the bed.
As a kid, this was something I would get away with not doing but, as I’ve got older, I’ve found that this is something I wish I’d implemented sooner. Such a simple thing makes my room look a little more orderly and, while it may sound silly, makes me happy to return home. On the mornings I know I forgot or didn’t have time to just straighten out my duvet, I know I’ll come home and get annoyed with how unorganised and messy my room is. This just saves so much hassle later on and can help me feel that little bit more put together. 

Track your mood.
This is probably my most recent and favourite habit I have picked up over the past month. Taking a few seconds a couple of times a day to just log my mood, what I’m doing and maybe even write a little more about how I’m feeling. I’ve really enjoyed introducing this habit as it’s nice to be able to look back and see what specifically made me happy and also if there are certain things that a constantly causing a more negative mood change. It’s also nice to scroll back and reflect on the days I’ve had at the end of the month. I recommend the app Daylio on IOS for this!

Walk everywhere you can.
I’m quite often either sat at my desk at home, sat in lectures, sat in the library, in a coffee shop or on the sofa. I’ve realised that the days where I get the least exercise are actually some of my least favourite days. Whenever I can, I walk. I’ve stopped getting the bus into the city center as I know it's in walking distance and I know I’ll thank myself later for that extra bit of exercise. 

Listen to music or a podcast in the morning.
I used to have a radio alarm and I noticed that I felt a lot more energetic in the mornings. Sadly, it broke and I have got out of the habit of listening to music in the morning and have definitely had more trouble getting up early. I’m currently trying to make sure to either put on some music while I get ready or even listen to a podcast (obviously not too loud as to wake my housemates up!).  I have really enjoyed adding this into my morning routine. 

Plan the night before.
I mentioned this in my “How to Improve Mondays” but I think it’s one that applies to overall improving your week. One of the last things I do before settling down for the evening is to write out what I need to do tomorrow; whether it’s seeing what I haven’t managed to accomplish that day, any appointments etc. I make sure to jot them down somewhere I know I’ll have easy access to the next day. This saves me having to think in the morning what I need to take with me anywhere and I then know what time I need to start the day and how I will be starting it. 


So there are just a few positive habits I've tried to implement into my day that really help improve my mood and that are helpful little habits to have!

Are there any happy habits you have that you think I should have included?

Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x

PHOTO DIARY: CITY OF YORK

21 Feb 2019




Just last weekend my parents and sister all came to visit me for the day. We went out to lunch and then we had a little walk around York city centre. It's been a while since I've felt like a bit of a tourist and really appreciated how great York is.

We decided to walk part of the city walls, which I hadn't done before, as well as do the usual walk past the Minster and around The Shambles.

I haven't done a photo-diary-style post really since 2015 where I shared "ON FILM" which was a selection of photos taken from my first roll of film. I have really neglected photography since being at university. However, this little trip around York has really re-inspired me to pick up my camera more often as it's something I really enjoy doing.

Sorry, it's such a short post today but I hope you enjoyed the few pictures I took over the weekend in York.
Have you ever been to York?

Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x


HOW TO: SUSTAINABLE BEAUTY ON A BUDGET

18 Feb 2019



As sustainability is becoming a very hot topic at the moment (a really good thing, of course) I thought I would weigh in to this discussion and offer some ways I have found to help create a more sustainable beauty routine that is also no more-so expensive than normal and, if not saving you some pennies in the long-run

CRUELTY-FREE ALTERNATIVES.


I won't keep going on about this one but, I think, switching out products for cruelty-free alternatives is such a simple way to help in having more sustainable beauty options. If you are thinking about going cruelty-free but have some worries, I may have tackled them in my "CRUELTY-FREE BEAUTY: WORRIES & SOLUTIONS". If you're looking for recommendations I have an abundance of posts on cruelty-free make-upskincare and haircare that you should have a read of. Going cruelty-free does not mean choosing more expensive products. If anything, I've found since making this transition, I have been saving more money than before. 

PRODUCTS WITH SUSTAINABLE PALM OIL.

  
This is a new one for me. While I regularly have tried to exclude using cooking products that include palm oil, I think less so about in this relation to beauty and I would like to be a little more conscious about this. From speaking to a friend, however, excluding palm oil altogether can be tricky and can actually lead to loss of jobs of thousands of people and would most likely see us relying on other , possibly worse, alternative. Instead, trying to find brands that ethically and sustainably source their palm oil is a much better way of helping with the issues surrounding palm oil.

If you want to read more about palm oil in beauty products I recommend this article by Glamour: "Why Palm Oil is Bad For The Environment...". However, if you want to read a little more about palm oil and why actually completely boycotting its use isn't the best solution, I recommend reading this article by Smithsonian and also this one by TheGreenVegans and for a quick rundown, Bare-Soaps published a quick read article about what they do. They definitely word what I'm trying to say a lot better!

STREAM-LINE YOUR MAKE UP BAG.

Is it really necessary to have 10 different lipsticks all in basically the same shade? Even when I have 10 of completely different shades I wonder whether I'm actually using them all equally and if I actually need that many. I no longer see the point of having mountains of make-up that I'm probably never going to use.

Instead of buying products just because I've heard it's good even though it's exactly like something I've tried before, I think a smaller, streamlined selection of makeup that I love and use most days helps reduce the waste of throwing out products after buying and never using, while also saving money. 

NO ONE-USE. GO FOR REUSABLE.


While, yes, coming in from a night out and grabbing a make-up wipe is so much easier that cleansing your face properly (we've all been there), I've become more aware of how wasteful this really is. It's a similar thing with one-use cotton pads; used and then discarded. I recommend trying reusable cotton pads; just use and throw in with your laundry whenever you do a wash and there'll be ready to use again. You can buy so many variations of these with them being simply found on Amazon. I discovered an Etsy shop called "TabithaEveCo." who have really pretty patterned and handmade reusable make-up removal pads which I am definitely going to be buying over the next few days. 

One other thing is razors. Instead of throwing away the whole razor, why not find an option that you just need to throw away the blades and can keep hold of and reuse the handle. I've expressed my love for the Friction Free Shaving Subscription* already. You get a gorgeous metal handle and they will send you the matching razor blades for every month. They are super flexible with cancellation, changing the date and skipping months with the razors being such high quality for the price point as well. If you fancy getting your own FFS razor, you can use my referral code "U6LWZG" and get a free engraving of your name into the handle of your razor to make it all the more luxurious and encourage you to keep the handle. By just swapping out your razor blades when necessary, this is not just a convenient way of replacing them but also a lot cheaper and sustainably effective. 


BARS OVER BOTTLES



This is one that I feel can really make a difference over time. Instead of buying shower gels that, if you're like me, last only a few weeks before you have to buy a new one and the plastic isn't even recyclable in my area, I have tried just using a bar of soap instead. It lasts so much longer and, yes you may not get the great lather that you may with shower gels, I still feel fresh after and, if anything, makes my skin feel more hydrated and clean. Also, it creates so much less waste! I have been using The Body Sop soap bars specifically their Wild Argan Oil bar. I've also seen some great options from both Lush's Naked Shower Gels and Bomb Cosmetic's Solid Shower gels.

I also think to swap your usual shampoos and conditioners to those in bar form is a great option. I have used in the past a few different shampoo bars from Lush and they work just as well as any other shampoo and last so much longer than a bottle. I am yet to try a solid conditioner but I'm definitely looking to buy one soon as they are worth the investment!

WHY NOT DO IT YOURSELF?

This was a recommendation by a friend and so one that I know I can improve on. If you have bananas going off, maybe some avocado, if you're millennial as that sounds, then why not use these to make your own face mask? The natural properties are so much better for your skin than what many companies put in their face masks. Not only this, it helps reduce your waste and makes sure you're using up all your produce. 

Why not try making your own facial sprays, lip scrubs, body exfoliators and coconut make up removers as well? The internet is full of amazing recipes on how to create these and so a quick google search and you'll be able to make one of these in no time with ingredients you're bound to have in your cupboard. These will be so much less expensive than buying them in shops, will help you reuse containers you have lying around and, overall, being a lot more sustainable and natural than buying them from the drugstore.

I hope these six ways of creating a more sustainable routine have given you something to think about and, hopefully, offered easy ways to improve your beauty. Do you think I've missed anything? Do you agree with what I'm saying? I'd love to hear any of your opinions on this topic in the comments!
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

*While this doesn't count as a #AD, I wanted to let you know that if you use my referral code, I will get a small discount on my account. However, as always, all opinions remain my own and wouldn't be sharing unless I fully loved the product.


HOW I PREPARED FOR MY EXAMS

12 Feb 2019



Let's start this post with some good news. On Friday, I finally received my exam results for my January exams and, let's just say, I was shocked with the outcome. I received Firsts on both my exam modules and I am so unbelievably happy that my hard work paid off. With this news, I thought I would share with you what I did from the lecture to revision to sitting the actual exam to prepare myself for this. 

I thought I should probably add a little disclaimer here: in no way am I saying that this way is right for everyone and this is just what seemed to work for me. This was my first essay based exams in two years and so I had to try a few different methods at once to hopefully understand and remember the content well. While some of these tips may be helpful for all different subjects, some maybe only beneficial to a few subjects but hopefully there'll be something for everyone to take away from this. If you're looking for general revision help feel free to see old posts I've wrote on this topic here which, from looking back there seems to be quite a few. 

THE LECTURE 

Note-taking. 
I made sure that before every lecture I had a quick look at what the topic of the lecture would be and, if available, download the slides to my laptop ready for the lecture. While I know some people prefer to handwrite in lectures, which was my preferred method for first and second year, I realised how much time it saves to type any additional information into the notes section of powerpoint; it just saved me trying to frantically write everything down and miss vital bits of information. 
If something was already written on the slides, I wouldn't take note of it unless the lecturer phrased it in a simpler way that I understood better. 

AFTER THE LECTURE

Write- up lecture notes while fresh in my head. 
I think this was one of the best things I did last term; as soon as the lecture was over I would crack on with handwriting some initial notes of the lecture content to make doubly sure I understood. It also gave me chance to flag up early on any areas I needed to focus on understanding a little more and where I needed to find a little more research. 

Get the reading done as well. 
At the start of term, I would try my best to get the reading done even before the lecture. However, as work started to pile up or when I didn't really understand the reading before the lecture, I would make sure to also get this done on the day of the lecture. It allowed me to make quick connections back to what was mentioned in the lectures and gave me a better understanding. Doing it as early as possible meant i was out of the way and my initial work for that particular lecture was already done. 

EXTRA RESEARCH 

Knowing where to look. 
I think this is something I'll definitely be doing better this term. If you wanted to get the higher marks in exams, the lecturers stressed the need for further research. It took me a while to work out the best way to go about this but I found going to papers referenced in lecture and looking at the citations used was a quick and effective way to find out previous research. If wanting to know where research had progressed, finding the original paper on Google Scholar and looking which later papers had cited this was a great way to find even more up-to-date research. 

Review papers were always a plus as they have pages and pages of references. Also having a quick check of library to see if there's any books related to the course not only helped me find material that phrased difficult theories in, sometimes,  a better way for me to understand but also gave me another place to find some new references. 


Integrate with your notes & condense further.
So, I've got my initial notes and then, separately, all this extra research. To have these separately just didn't really help me work out in knowing where it all fits together. If I was going to write an essay on it, I really needed to have it all in one place. This is when I decide to write my notes out again; with the extra research and even more concise notes. This would later be the basis of any revision and so, already, I'm starting to learn it in preparation for exams. 


REVISION

Experiment Tables.
If you're subject or module is heavily research focusses, I really recommend this way. I would split each study up into it's intro, methods, results, discussion/conclusions and any further critical points. By doing this, I'm basically forming the paragraphs needed for the exam essays. It helps me take out the most useful points of information and not overwhelming myself with paragraphs taken straight from the paper or lecture slides. 

Testing myself. 
I previously shared with you "GREAT APPS FOR STUDENTS" and one of the ones I included was Quizlet. It basically allows you to make cue cards and is mostly used by people trying to learn a language. I used these by putting the researchers' name and year of study e.g. Jones (1998) on one side and having the definition as the main finding and conclusion of that paper. This was great for last-minute revision to help cue the recall of the other information relating to the paper. I regularly just used this throughout the months leading up to my exams to constantly remind myself of studies. They have some great features to allow you to test yourself that were really helpful, especially in remembering which paper did what. 

Practice Introductions & Essays. 
I say intros and essays as two different things as I tended to do them separately. One of my lecturers had told me that the introduction is the first hurdle faced in the exam and so having different introductions prepared for the different types of questions that could be asked allowed me to practice how to tackle these questions before even sitting the exam. It helped me know what is needed in each introduction and helped me practice writing them effectively.

With this, I found writing out essays in full and trying to time myself based on the timings that we would have in the exam meant I was more prepared in how the exam would be and gave me chance to practice how to write in the exam that was clear yet quick. 

Through constantly writing out introductions to essays and also essay plans I felt it was a really effective way of revising for the exam. If you have a friend in your module, getting them to come up with practice questions for you to try is another great way for you to get more practice in and be prepared for any trickier questions that may turn up. 


So that is how I prepared for my January Exams! I hope me sharing this with you will help any of you students with any future exams.

Do you think I missed anything important that maybe I should try before my next exams? I'd love to know!
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

CREATING A PRODUCTIVE WORKSPACE

4 Feb 2019


I find it all too easy to get into a slump with work and I've found the first step to tackle this is tidying up my desk space for optimal productivity. I've found a few things that really help to get me focussed and to minimise any distractions which I thought I'd share them with you today.


Don't sleep where you work. 

This is something that I think I've done quite well and have really benefitted from. While there is the temptation to work from my bed every morning, I now realise how unproductive this makes me. Whether it's at a desk in my room or the dining room table, I know I'll be much more productive there than in my bed. Also, I feel like not working from my bed keeps it a more relaxed area and having it associated with that and not the stress of work helps me get to sleep a little better at night as I know I can now relax in bed. 

Plenty of Empty Desk Space

I've always been one to have little trinkets, drawers, picture frames etc. on my desk but I've realised that this just isn't the most practical. While a few items isn't bad by any means, having a less cluttered desk allows me to easily see my work and spread out a more if I need to without having to take stuff off my next or move things around in order to work.

Have the essentials to hand...

Like I say, having a few items on your next is helpful. I also think having drawers under or by the side of my desk is also handy as it means I don't have to go searching when I need a pen or a ruler; I know they're close by so I won't be distracted by trying to route around to find what I need. If you don't have any drawers to hand, in the past just a pencil pot has been good enough for me or shallow box just on the corner of my desk is big enough to hold the essentials. 

...and your phone out of reach.


I'd say that this is probably the biggest cause of unproductive work both for me and I'd guess many others; always tempted to just have a quick scroll through Instagram or being instantly distracted when you see your phone light up. Putting your phone on "Do Not Disturb" is a good option but I still don't find it stops me from checking it frequently. I find it's best to place it on the other side of my room, face down and I tend not to really think about it. I also turn off notifications on my laptop for messages and emails off quite often especially if it's related to what I'm doing. It's just an extra way to minimise distractions. 

A list pad is a good place to start.

If you've got the space, I always find this a helpful addition.Having somewhere to write down what you want to get done and be able to tick it off when a job is complete makes me feel motivated to tick everything off. If you would rather not have a list pad taking up the room or wasting paper, I'm an avid lover of the Chrome extension "Momentum" which, along with giving you a beautiful chrome background everyday, has a great feature that allows you to write a To-Do list and even have the satisfaction of ticking the task off when finished. 

Lots of water.

Whenever I'm starting to flag I always make the excuse to go and get a(nother) glass of water. While, yes, breaks are good and I always try to have them regularly throughout a long time sat at my desk, I do find sometimes I'm using it as just an excuse. I find now that if I fill up a big liter bottle of water, it's more than enough to see me through to my next break and beyond. It also makes sure that I am keeping hydrated through out the day which is something I'm quite poor at remembering to do.

Have a cracking playlist.

I know that some people find it distracting to have music playing while they're working and, if it's something I need to really concentrate on, I'm exactly the same. However, I find when I'm needing something to get me focused, a good playlist always works wonders. I have a few playlists I think are good for this that I have created myself; my GREEN playlist is on my Spotify so if you're looking some more guitar vibes, it's a good one. Alternatively I also have a STUDY and REVISION playlists that I created during different exam periods in the past that always helped me feel calm and still motivated to work. 

So there's just some ways I try to create a good productive environment for me. These apply especially when I'm at home but these can definitely be applied if you're in the library or anywhere where you are trying to study.

Do you have any tips yourself for staying productive? I'd love to know!
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x 

FOCUS OF THE MONTH: BALANCE

1 Feb 2019



If you haven't already seen, I decided to set my challenge in 2019 where I take a word and, based on that word, I focus my goals for the month around that. January's focus was "RENEW" and earlier this week I shared with you my "JANUARY IN REVIEW" where I looked back on the ups and downs of the month and updated you on how I found my first month of this little challenge. 

It's not the 1st of February at the time of posting so it's on to the next focus! I was struggling to pinpoint what word I should use to narrow my focus this month and so I actually asked over on my Twitter (@saraheliza_j) what people thought my focus should be and they chose "BALANCE". I completely agreed with the choice as, while usually I struggle to make time to balance personal life with university work, I've actually found this last month a slight neglect of my university work as the tables have completely flipped. So, I think Balance was the perfect choice for February's focus as I try to find that common ground across different aspects of my life this month. 

WORK-LIFE BALANCE

Like I say, after being a workaholic last year, as I've re-discovered my interests outside of university, I've slightly neglected the work and it's started to pile up. Instead of just panicking and throwing myself back into work, I want to establish more of an equal balance between the two- making time for both things I need to get done and things I want to do. I'm already an avid planner but making sure I plan for both work and life equally will help me accomplish this in the next month. 

DIET

I've always struggled with diet and getting a good balance. However, more recently I've been having meals that are really satisfying and I'm craving a lot less the salty and sugary snacks I used to. Having said that, I do struggle to get the balance across all food groups; I try to eat mostly vegetarian  meals during the weeks and, while I love the food I'm eating, I am wary I am not getting enough protein recently. So, I want to make more of an effort to have more balanced plates; portions of veg, carbs and protein. Also, I want to choose more healthier options for snacks but not feeling so guilty when I have a little chocolate or a packet of crisps. 
Creating a good diet for myself is an ongoing challenge for me but having it as focus this month will hopefully help me a little more. 

SCREEN TIME

Since to IOS update and being able to see activity levels on Instagram, I think this is something a lot more people are becoming aware of in 2019. While, I think I use my phone a little less than the average during the day, I have the awful habit of checking my phone being both the first and last thing I do in a day. I want to try and reduce both the time and occurrences I look at my phone in February. My laptop is where I'm at most of the day; for both university and when relaxing. I'm thinking of trying to find a way that doesn't involve me looking at a screen for hours to enable me to do university work. In terms of relaxing, I'm going to make more of an effort to pick up a book instead of aimlessly searching YouTube this month. 

MOOD TRACKING

This is loosely tied around the theme of Balance but is something I want to give a go this next month. Everyone has down days and everyone has great days- there has to just be a balance between the two. I have been recently worrying that I'm having more downs than ups and so, I want to keep an eye on this over the next month to make sure I'm getting a good balance between the two and to also monitor if there's specific reasons why I have certain bad moods are bad days while also seeing what is it that makes me smile and happy and how I can implement those happy things into my life a little more often. Hopefully by tracking my mood I may find a better balance between the ups and downs over the next month. 


So there are four ways I want to tackle February's Focus of the month: Balance. I'd love to know your opinions on the focus I've chosen and if there's any other ways I can use the word Balance to make some healthy changes in February. 

What are some of your goals for February? What word do you think I should use to focus in March? 
Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x 

JANUARY IN REVIEW

29 Jan 2019

While I know some have felt like January has been a long month, I actually feel that it's flown by. This month's focus was "RENEW" as I tried to reengage with the things that I love such as art and reading while also making time for blogging and also uni work. Today, I thought I'd share with you my thoughts on this month and whether or not I've managed to reach the goals I set myself. 

THE BAD

This month didn't exactly start off well. I was reluctant to return after Christmas to face exams. For the first time since first year, I didn't want to leave home and be back at uni. I was actually feeling rather more drained than renewed at the start of the month. 

This month didn't come without it's hiccups; there were days I still felt overwhelmed with the work I needed to finish and didn't always have time to do something I wanted to spend my free time doing. 

As I mentioned in my "LET"S TALK NEW YEAR" post, thinking about jobs and life after uni is a common topic of conversation amongst my friends and can get not just me, but many others down thinking about the uncertainty of what's to come after university.  

THE GOOD

It was my 21st birthday just last week. I'm planning on writing a full post on my thoughts on turning 21 but what I will say now is I had one of the best birthday's I've had in a while. I was surrounded by friends that I felt wanted to be there rather than feeling obligated and was happy to see they enjoyed my birthday as much as I did. 

My parents also came to visit last weekend and, after my mum dropped me off and had to leave me in tears as I didn't want to come back this term, it was nice to spend some time with both her and my dad now that I was in a much happier mood. While they were only in York for the afternoon, it was nice to spend a few hours with them. Also, mum brought a fabulous cake down for me and my house to enjoy so that was a plus!

WHAT I'VE ACCOMPLISHED

I'd say one of my biggest (yet still small) accomplishments of this month was getting my blog back up and running. While not completely consistent, I have focussed on trying to publish as close to my old schedule as I can and posting what, I think, are unique and slightly different posts. With this, I've found myself more engaged on Twitter and I've been loving been back in the twitter world; interacting with people I follow and other bloggers; discovering some new blogs to follow. I think this month, I've really fallen back in love with blogging and all the little extras that come with it. 

I'd say my other accomplishment, which was more one for last year but I only recently managed to get my hands on a copy, was that an interview I did with Brit Awards Critic's Choice Winner Sam Fender back last year was published in the music magazine that we have on campus. I didn't expect the full article to be included so I was shocked to see it crossed over to two pages in the latest issue.

IN PROGRESS...

While this may sound like January has been mainly negative, I've already had some good times and made the right steps to reaching some self-related goals. While not much, I've already made a dent in my reading challenge for the year and have found reading shorter books as a better way for me to get back into reading during busier periods. I've already got the books for next month lined up and ready to open.

I've been planning a few art pieces for the first time in a long time and, while I'm worried about the outcome, I'm looking forward to making more progress in the next month. 

Writing. A hobby I love but constantly struggle with finding inspiration. I did what I always do when I hit this point and bought a new notebook; hoping that this fresh book will bring some fresh ideas. While only two pages have been filled so far, I'm hoping to keep reaching for it as we head into February. 

While I mentioned the daunting start of job hunting and working out what I want to do, while a clear plan is yet to be formed, I've started to explore a few options after speaking to some people. I'm slowly working towards really knowing what I want to do after university.


So there's a round up of what I've been up to this month including the good and the bad among other updates. I've already thought about what I want to accomplish next month and to focus on other aspects of my life as well progressing on what I have done so far. I'll be posting my February Focus of the Month later this week so stay tuned!

What are some of the positives and negatives of your January? 
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

READ, WATCH, LISTEN

24 Jan 2019


Feel like it's about time I share with you some of my favourites in the world of books, music and TV...


READ

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata
As I slowly get back into reading this year, this was the first book I picked up. It follows a lady who works at a convenience store while her friends and people around her get married and settle down she carries on working there. With the pressures that she must follow suit, she tries to come to an arrangement that will make help her live this "normal life".

This is definitely not one that everyone will like but as a short read I did enjoy it and finished it quickly. I felt it had a similar tone to Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine; one of my favourite books from last year. For a short book, it definitely also has levels relating to society's ideas of what women should be doing as well as what everyone should be up to at certain stages in their lives.  However, these norms aren't for everyone. It was a quick read and I'm not sure I got everything out of it that I could so I think I'll be giving this a re-read later this year. It's actually also my first ever (I think) translated book and it's encouraged me to pick up other translated work this year. 

I'm currently reading "13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl" and "The Last Children of Tokyo". If you want to keep up with more bookish things, follow my goodreads. 

WATCH

YOU 
Everyone's been raving about this but I went into it with quite low expectations thinking it was quite over hyped. However, I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it. The way you end up actually liking the bad guy is quite worrying almost and I felt guilty for doing so. It was a really well filmed and written series. While the end hinted at a second season and as much I enjoyed the first season, I almost feel like it might spoil the impact of the first. Having said that, if a second season was to happen, of course I'd give it a watch. 

Sex Education
I feel like we've been missing a show like this. If you like anything like My Mad Fat Diary, I would give this ago. It includes topics in a way that I think many shows have been afraid to in the past. I haven't laughed out loud at a TV show in quite a while but I couldn't stop myself at points throughout this; the characters were likeable and the British humour made it a great watch. As well as making me burst out laughing, it had me close to tears in parts and, to me, if a show can do both it's a great show that's worth the watch. 

LISTEN

RM // Mono

This mixtape or, what he calls "playlist" has got me through my revision. Such chilled music that has been great in the background. RM, or Kim Namjoon, is a rapper in the KPOP band BTS. Now, before you dismiss it right here and now, I suggest going away giving it a listen and look at the translated lyrics. It's such a beautifully written mixtape that he wrote and produced himself. This man's got so much talent and I still can't stop listening to his mixtape. 

LAUV

This is another artist that have been listening to repeatedly. Such easy going songs with a range of more upbeat and slower ones, the music is great to have on in the background as I walk or listen to as I walk to lectures. 

Orange Playlist

Of course, I have to plug my Spotify Playlist. My Orange Playlist is basically my current playlist of songs I find myself listening to regularly. It's constantly updated and changed so if you want a taste of the varied taste I have, go give it a listen! 


So, there's a little update of what I've read, watched and been listening to! Do you have any recommendations of what I should check out next? 
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

5 SKINCARE PRODUCTS I'M LOVING

21 Jan 2019



After a pretty hectic breakout at the end of last year, my skin has finally cleared and it was from the help of these following products. All of these were great at rehydrating my skin, helping with texture as well as combatting my breakout. 

I'll start by saying, I don't really agree that a scrub should be used daily. I tend to really only pick it up when I feel my skin really needs a good cleanse. I'd say this is pretty similar to most scrubs I've used in the past but this is just the one that I've been using over the past few months and found it really helps smooth out my skin (as well as having a great scent which is a nice bonus!). It creates a great base for applying foundation once I've put my moisturiser on. It's also really helped bring out the impurities in my face as well as helping reduce them over time. This is a scrub that isn't too abrasive but does get the job done. If I'm in need of a good staple scrub in the future, I'll be highly considering repurchasing this. 

This has been one more for my dry skin days- perfect for the current winter weather. It reminds me a great deal of the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish; not just in its packaging, but the consistency of the product and how great it leaves my skin feeling after. What I sometimes find with products labelled "hydrating" is that they tend to break my skin out. However, this thankfully hasn't happened with this. Whether it's this or the combination of products I've been using, I'm unsure. But this is definitely a calming and soothing cleanser that I'm so happy I picked up. 

I bought this, along with the cleanser, in a set from HomeSense and, from looking at the full price, I got an absolute steal! I think this is one of the products I have to really thank for the way my skin has been feeling recently. It's feeling a lot more hydrated all day round as well as a little brighter. I'd be wary to pay the full price of this but after trying it, I definitely understand the higher price point. 

What's a skincare post without the mention of The Ordinary. I've already included this toner in my "EVENING SKINCARE ROUTINE" back last year. This is one I'll definitely be repurchasing. There was news that The Ordinary was shutting for business. however, that doesn't seem to be the case anymore. So, if you have problems with textured skin or hyper pigmentation, I'd definitely give this ago. Also, if you've been thinking of getting the Pixi Glow Tonic, I'd definitely try this one first as it's very similar in its properties and claims while being a fraction of the price and, I can vouch, that it's great. 

Whenever I've had big breakouts in the past I've panicked and used anything and everything I could to get rid of it. However, this time round I decided to draw things back, let the breakout run it's course with the help of these products and only use Tea Tree oil directly on the spots. I actually found this worked better than piling on treatments and creams as it was a more natural treatment for the blemishes. It also meant that, by just targeting certain areas, it didn't cause my whole face to dry  out. This little oil of goodness is definitely something I'm going to be reaching for when I next breakout as well as just when I have a little pimple problem pop up in the future. 


So there's a quick run down of the products that my skin and I have been loving lately. Have you tried any of these? Do you have any recommendations for texturised skin that I should try out? 

Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x

*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. However, as always, my opinions remain my own*


WAYS TO LOVE MONDAYS

15 Jan 2019


Everyone tends to have quite the vendetta against a Monday. For most people it means the weekend's over and it's back to work/school/college. For me, it's straight back into lectures at university. However, this past term at uni I've actually found myself less resentful about getting out of bed in the morning to start the week and have actually, dare I say it, started to like them.
For some people this new year, they be looking to stop, as many do, hating on Monday's and instead looking at how you can learn to love Mondays. So, today I thought I'd share with you some positives about Mondays and a few things you could do to make the most out of the start of the week and to make them a little bit easier.

MAKE THE MOST OF SUNDAY

For me, the process starts the night before. Sitting down and writing a to-do list that I will start to tackle the next wee allows me to get my head in order. Any appointments, lectures, deadlines I might have that week I make sure are in my diary. I was thinking of doing a post about my Sunday Routine in more detail but it's very similar to the points I made in my "HOW I RESET" post so maybe give that one a read first. 

I make sure that everything is ready for tomorrow. Bag packed, lunch prepped. This means there's less rushing around and stress for the dreaded early morning that most have on a Monday. 

NEW WEEK, NEW START

Treat Monday as a refresh. If you had a hard week last week, thinking more positively of all you want to accomplish can really help you love Mondays and realise the potential it has to set yourself up for a successful week and beyond. Monday is the perfect time to go "Right, let's get this done this week" and can be a great chance to start something new you may want to introduce into your routine or something extra you want prioritise. 

EARLY NIGHT, EARLY MORNING

For many, you probably don't have a choice if you have to be in work for 9 or even earlier. If you don't have to wake up early it doesn't mean you shouldn't. Starting the week off early may seem annoying but I find it really sets the tone for the rest of the week. Being up and ready at a reasonable time gives you the day to be productive whether at work, uni or at home. I find it really gets me in the right frame of mind and gives me enough time to properly wake up before I have to get the jobs I need to do done for the day. 

If you are one that does have to get up early for work, I think making sure you a good night's sleep makes Monday morning a little more bearable. I find, while I may not seem it as soon as I wake up, give it an hour and happier and more energised than if I'd not gone to bed earlier and even if I'd chosen to stay in bed the extra few hours. 

EAT WELL

I tend to plan my meals along with my week on a Sunday and I make sure that Monday's especially, I take care in what I eat and make sure I'm not just rushing around in trying to get a meal together but making sure each meal is something I enjoy. Most importantly, I make sure to have time for a good breakfast; making time to sit down and enjoy it instead of running out the house with a bit of toast in of my mouth makes me feel a lot calmer and prepared for the rest of the day. 


These are just a few simple I think make Monday's that little bit easier and would love to know if you agree! Are you a fan of Monday's or are there any positives about Monday's that make them a little better for you? 
Hope you're doing great,
Sarah x 

WORD OF THE MONTH: RENEW

7 Jan 2019


So I've seen a similar idea floating round the blogging world. Specifically, I saw Emma at "NotCopperArmour" talk about how she has a "Word of The Year". I thought this sounded like a really cool concept but, as indecisive as I am, I thought I'd do a Word of The Month/Focus Of The Month instead. This will be something that will mean tackling a part of my life that I want to improve and making sure that I plan ahead to make sure I get the most out of each month. As I give this new idea a go I thought I'd bring you along for the journey and share with you what each focus of each month will be and also share how well it goes. I have a few ideas for certain months already but if you have any ideas for things you think would be good to focus on over the next 12 months let me know. I'd love to hear!

As it's the start of a new year, I thought it was only right to have January's focus as"RENEW". If you saw my previous post "LET'S TALK NEW YEAR" I touched upon how people put a lot of pressure on themselves to completely transform and set big goals in January and isn't always beneficial. With that, I do see the benefits of using January to reset and get your life planned and organised. That's why I think the word "Renew" really fits with how I want to use this next month.  

WHAT I WANT TO FOCUS ON THIS MONTH. 

University
The first port of call this month is exams. As I post this, I'll have entered exam week so will be in full stress mode but hopefully will be getting close to it all being over. I want to start this term a fresh. After putting too much pressure on myself and not really giving myself a proper break over Christmas, I want to take things steady but making sure I'm still putting the effort into trying my best. As my time at university will soon draw to a close, I want to make the most of the time I've got while I'm still here and try and get involved even more over this next term. 

Blogging
This has to be one of the main reasons I thought of starting this Word Of The Month Challenge. I think it will really help me focus on aspects of blogging that I'd like to improve. Sticking with this months theme, after being intermittently in and out of blogging, I want to enter back into this online world as much as I can. 
I want to focus on planning blog posts in advance and making sure I'm putting out the best content I can. 

Reading
This is similar to blogging. It was really something that was put on the back burner last year but this won't be happening in 2019. After I was under my reading challenge by an embarrassing amount this year, I am determined to not only read at least 20 books but also complete a few extra reading challenges I've set myself along the way. These will help me expand the book choices I make and dip into genres I've never tried before and read authors I've never read before. I want to focus on reengaging with reading and reinstating my love for it over January. If you want to keep more up to date with all the books I'm reading and the challenges I've set myself, I recommending heading to my goodreads.

Art. 
Another one that was neglected in 2018 and probably since high school and one that I always regret not doing more of. I have so many ideas I want to get down on paper both with pencils and paint brushes. I feel re-inspired to get creative and I'm going to make sure I find time to do this too. 

So with my word of the month being "RENEW" and my focuses set out, I guess it's time I go away and see how well this goes. 


What do you think of this idea? Do you have any suggestions of words I should use as a focus for the next 11 months? 
Hope you're doing great, 
Sarah x



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