Excessive? Maybe. Effective? Definitely.

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Photo by Kimberly Farmer on Unsplash

I’ve loved notebooks since I can remember. The stationery section was always my favourite and could spend hours testing pens, looking at paper, and, oh, those beautiful notebooks. The best part about notebooks, however, is getting to write in them. Over the years I’ve had a lot of different systems, but I always come back to a version of the same one.

These are the five notebooks I use every day and that have changed my life:

The to-do list book

To-do lists are the OG of productivity tools and they’re severely underrated. …

Only two things matter

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Photo by Rodion Kutsaev on Unsplash

The only things that matter are regularity and value.

There’s endless advice out there. Posting daily, always having at least two things active on your ‘story’, making sure to use all of the newest features…

A lot of these things have good data behind them, but if you’re really wondering how often you should be posting to social media as a service-based business, this is for you.


If your main business isn’t social media then your income doesn’t directly depend on the number of followers you have. …

Everything else can just go home

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Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

Being an adult is hard. There’s a lot of stuff going on, and even just keeping it together can be a bit of an ask at times. How are you supposed to hold down, or even excel at a job, socialise, build relationships and look after yourself and a home at the same time? There’s too much to do.

But what if I told you that there was one productivity technique that would blow all the others out of the water. A technique that’s so simple you’ve probably already been doing it for years. A system that will actually give you a natural high as it helps you complete things. Amazing right? …

If Beyoncé used this technique we’d be in trouble.

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Photo by Swag Photography on Unsplash

You might have heard that you’ve got the same 24 hours in your day as Beyoncé. What you might not have is the drivers, the housekeepers, the nannies, the chefs…

I definitely don’t have any staff helping me out at home, and time blocking is the productivity tool that helps me fit in a Lot into my life without going completely insane.

It can be a bit daunting to begin scheduling your life in a lot of detail, but by starting slowly and simply you’ll soon find a rhythm that brings value to you. …

Does anyone really know?

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Photo by Alessandro Alimonti on Unsplash

In a former job I was involved in a lot of selection processes for staff positions and for internships. My colleague and I noticed that we kept making the same mistake in these processes: interviewing candidates directly after lunch.

Once we’d eaten we suddenly had so little energy that we noticed we would come across as fairly indifferent to candidates, and wouldn’t necessarily ask all of the questions we might have if we had more energy.

It was brought to our attention when we finished one interview and another colleague said ‘wow you really didn’t like him did you?’. We actually did, and he got the internship, but it seemed like our full stomachs were absorbing all of our enthusiasm and giving off the wrong message. …

This is how to do it right.

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Author screenshot (Instagram is for work I swear…)

I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who thought 2020 had been ‘pretty normal’ for them. If you do, please tell me, I’m intrigued.

Cancelled flights left me in the UK at the start of lockdown (as opposed to Spain where I usually live) and my partner and I, Ryanair hand luggage in tow, spent the next four months at my family home in Edinburgh.

Apart from the sheer oddness of living in my childhood bedroom, we suddenly had to think about other people and how our working routines affected them. Let’s just say we realised we had more bad habits than we thought.

We were used to living alone and managing our own timetables, guilty of working overtime and definitely not eating at regular times. It might sound strange, but having to get work done within a defined time frame was eye opening. I regularly worked evenings and weekends and had lost sight of the separation between work time and leisure. …

Nike was right all along

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Photo by Kid Circus on Unsplash

We’re suckers for starting at a logical point or time. Diets start on Mondays, challenges on the first of the month, New Year’s resolutions… well… It often means that we put off doing things right now and convince ourselves that we should wait until the next logical moment.

Having a clear start point is nice, but mainly it’s a great way to ensure that you don’t actually make progress on anything Now. …

You’re human. But don’t let that stop you.

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Photo by Ali Yahya on Unsplash

We all have off days. I had one this week. My brain was complete mush and I couldn’t focus on anything I was trying to do. So instead of persevering and trying to drag unwilling brain through all the tasks I had planned, I took the whole day off.

I’ve taken surprise days off for a number of reasons in the past, from being ill to being mentally exhausted to helping a friend in need… it happens.

I work for myself, so it’s particularly simple for me to do that. I’m my own boss so I know exactly what will slide if I take the day. But these days are just as important for employees. Usually they won’t create lasting issues, but the trick is in not letting one ‘off day’ derail your entire week. …

When inspiration has deserted you.

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Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Inspiration is fickle and it definitely doesn’t understand things like ‘rent is due next week’. And that, my friend, is a problem. You can have the best intentions in the world, a shiny new notebook and a perfectly crafted writing routing, but that spark? That can’t be relied on.

Writing is great. But it’s also hard. Different parts of the process are more difficult for different people. Some find it easy to come up with ideas and boast of their Trello boards containing 600 yet-to-be written article ideas or outlines. …

Seriously. Everything.

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Photo by Samantha Gades on Unsplash

I’m a self-confessed self-help junkie. I adore reading self-help books, business systems, productivity hacks… I even watch endless morning routine videos on youtube, presumably hoping that they’ll rub off on me and I too will become a green-smoothie-powered-zen machine.

Over the years I’ve fallen in and out of love with different mottos and suggestions. But there’s only one thing that has stood the test of time. Ok maybe two. Maybe three if you count the sun salutations. But we’re here about that first one. Are you ready?

Less but better.

You might recognise this mantra, and with good reason. I came across it in Greg McKeown’s ‘Essentialism’ which is a bit of a cult classic in the world of self improvement and it just clicked. …


Jessie Brechin

Digital marketing strategist, coach, sometime writer. Founder of thebloop.com helping small business owners claim their space with confidence. Scotland/Spain

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