10 Ways To Prepare For Back To School 2020 | Refresh, Revive and Rethink

The new school year. A fresh start. The final few months of the last academic year fell to pieces, so having this new chance is very exciting! Although it will be scary, re-entering school after 6 months away from it, I am remaining positive. These are 10 simple things you should do before heading into the new school year to help you feel refreshed and ready. Some are more simple than others! Even if you’re not going into education this September/Autumn time, it’s always worth detoxing before a new month begins. Hope you enjoy!

1. Clear out your camera roll

I would like to say I stay on top of this, but I honestly don’t. There is so much random stuff that builds up in my camera roll, both on my iPad and phone. Sorting through this and filing it into albums takes a lot of time but seeing it cluttered stresses me out even more. Put on some tunes and set to it. You’ll feel much better afterwards.

2. Set up your bullet journal/planner for September

Setting up a new month in your planner is such a theraputic process. Translating all the random sticky notes into one place lifts a weight off your shoulders. When it’s just a month I am planning, I can go into detail which is very helpful. I highly recommend this, especially if you are starting back in September!

3. Write in all the events and tasks in your annual calendar 

I don’t know about you, but there are some things going on in months to come that I need to jot down (because by the time that month has arrived, I will have forgotten). I have a calendar up on my wall that I like to add all of my events too. It’s similar to what you might do at the start of January! An academic year is a new year too – remember?

4. Plan meal ideas

Quite a lot of us take packed lunches or some sort of transportable meal to work. To avoid last minute ‘unhealthy’ choices, write down a few ideas of things to put in your lunch box. Eg. hummus and salad wrap, vegetarian chilli, leftover pie from the previous night. This saves time and energy when it comes to making your lunch in the morning/night before!

5. Get in touch with friends

I hope you’ve been doing this already! Text your friends, maybe go deeper and ask them how they feel about the new academic year. Most of my friends are anxious, so I do my best to reassure them that everything will be okay. Just check in with them, and maybe help each other out with revision.

6. Make sure your schoolbag is ready

I love doing this! Sharpening pencils, washing out last years pencil case, cleaning my bag. Maybe putting in new organisation systems for the new year! For example, last year I bundled all subjects into one big folder, but this year I will separate them. Find out what works for you.

7. Revise last year’s material

This doesn’t have to be an intimidating thing to complete. I didn’t take my books home this year, because we had to leave because of coronavirus (unannounced!!!). However, I’m going to a new school so I doubt my old things will be that useful. Still, I’ve been revising French and a bit of maths. If you have your books, read through them. To take it a step further, answer questions related to the subjects your struggle with (for me that’s index notation).

8. Sort out your damn sleep schedule

You admit your sleep schedule has been a bit haywire in lockdown! So get it sorted. Two weeks before starting back is ideal, but I’ve not done that. A week before school begins is slightly more reasonable! Wake up at the time you would need to for work.

9. Make your workspace an ideal place to study

Some of you have online school, meaning this is crucial. I would highly recommend watching Ruby Granger’s video on how to make the perfect workspace (linked here). I will be making a variation of this video in a blog format soon, I hope! I’m returning to school full time in September, but I’ll still have masses of homework to complete on my desk at home. That’s why I set mine up with a cute vision board beside it – full of my goals and aspirations. That helps me stay on track with my studying, so then I have in mind what I’m working for.

This desk drawer needs some attention!

10. Do nothing 

It sounds counter-productive, but doing nothing is the best way to refresh and recharge. After a few days of doing nothing (whatever nothing means to you) you’ll become so bored that you can’t wait to hurtle into tasks again. I also find my best creative ideas come while I am on a break!

I hope, through completing this mini checklist, you feel ready to conquer the next academic year! Let’s try our hardest, fall on our backsides, then pick each other up again and keep going. This year is so different to anything I’ve experienced before. But different doesn’t mean bad. Through lockdown I feel that I have changed a lot, for the better (I hope). And no doubt this coming year will see a lot of personal growth too. I am so excited for you, and us!

What are your goals for September/the coming school year?

Sending you all the best,

catherine x

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How I Avoid Instagram Consumerism | 5 Ways To Spend Less In 2020

This will be a long post, so let’s just get straight into it!

What Is Instagram Consumerism?

This is a term I think I made up myself, but it could well be used elsewhere. Instagram consumerism, in my eyes, is the way Instagram affects how/when/where you buy your products. It is especially prominent in the influencer space, more specifically, brand deals and collabs. However there is also pressure around all of social media to wear a different outfit every day. This first harms our mindset towards clothing, and leads to consequences of buying more clothing to adhere to the expectation. 

Why Is It Bad?

First and foremost, the easiest ways to purchase clothing is via fast fashion brands. That is a problem in itself, which my friend Ava did an amazing guest post about on my blog. Secondly, the most advertised clothing on Instagram is fast fashion. To those who are not educated on the subject, it’s easy to fall into the trap of fast fashion.

Before we go ahead, I’d like to add a disclaimer: not everyone can afford sustainable fashion. It disappoints me that less advantaged families have to buy from fast fashion brand without choice. If you are included within that bracket, please do not feel pressure from me. You do not need to switch to sustainable fashion if you can’t afford it.

However, so many people with enough money to buy slow fashion decide to still go for the fast fashion option. That disappoints me beyond belief. Seeing influencers on YouTube with millions of subscribers do a Primark haul that gets over 500k views is scary. Unless they’re putting the revenue from that video towards charities that help garment workers in Bangladesh (where Primark’s clothes are made), I’m not going to support it. I’m scared because they have power, they own the label ‘influencer’ for a reason. They influence those people who watch the video to buy fast fashion. 500k views. That has an impact. 

How Do I Avoid Instagram Consumerism?

Now to the main part of this post. This section goes for any product you see promoted on Instagram, or YouTube. Not just clothing! 

1) Read The Facts

If you see a book on Instagram, made from paper that is not FSC approved, look into how harmful that can be for the planet. Read information on deforestation, learn about why you should just buy second hand. Even better, an independent book store. Although they are expensive, they have plummeted into financial decline since the Covid-19 outbreak (like many other businesses). Support small. Rather than just buy on a whim, wait a few days. Find other buying options.

2) The Influencer Is Only Going To Hype The Brand Up, They Would Never Advertise a Product They Do Not Like

Okay, so this is an obvious one. If an influencer has been sent a gifted item that they do not like, they wouldn’t post it on their Instagram. It’s gifted, they’re not paid for it. They might send a critical review back to the seller by email, but they wouldn’t share it with their audience. Next time you see a gifted item on someone’s feed, remember that everyone is different. Just because they love it, doesn’t mean you will. Plus, this influencer didn’t buy it with their own money. Everyone loves free things! They might not have bought it if it weren’t free. 

3) Make a Wishlist

Make a wishlist of all the physical items you desire in life (a book, a cactus and a blanket are on mine). Next time you want to buy something from an advertisement, glance back at your wishlist. Do you really want to spend your money on this, or should you put it towards something you have wanted for a while? If you decide you really love the advertised product on Instagram, write it on your wishlist. Come back a few days later and rethink. Do you still want this?

4) Did You Want This a Few Weeks Ago?

This is similar to the wish list idea. At the moment, razors have been gifted to a ton of creators in my Instagram feed. They’re cute, pink and, for some people, essential. Did you need a new razor a few weeks ago? Do you need a razor now? Probably not, because you already have one. Wait until you need a new razor before buying a new one! Don’t just buy one now, and then not get full use out of your old one. That’s wasteful.

5) What Purpose Does It Serve?

Book = happiness, education. Cactus = room decor. Blanket = keeps me cosy in the evenings. Everything serves a purpose. Some, however, will be more important than others. List out, either on paper or in your brain, the purposes your desired product serves. This simple practise will define what you should be spending your money on.

That’s it for today’s post! It was a little all over the place, wasn’t it? Hope you all don’t mind. Don’t forget that this post is a part of my series The Plastic Plan. It’s ongoing series, where every Friday either myself or a guest writer blogs about climate change, fast fashion and plastic. If you’re interested in educating yourself on those very important subjects, please do head over to The Plastic Plan category on my blog!

Let me know in the comments which tip you found most useful! 

What was the last thing you bought after seeing it on social media?

catherine x

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How To Be Productive After A Long Day | Never Heard Before Tips That Will ALWAYS Keep You On Track

For most of us, evenings are the only time we can commit to our side hustle. During the day time we might have work, school or other activities that make it impossible to find time for our blogs, Instagrams and YouTube channels. I know that for me, after a long day of school and homework, I don’t have the energy to invest into my blog. Sometimes I just flop on the sofa and sleep. Although that’s totally okay, and the education system puts too much pressure on young people, you still sometimes need to get stuff done. It’s not that I don’t have the motivation to blog, it’s that I don’t feel prepared to take on the mammoth task of writing a post or responding to emails. In those cases, I use these five tips to keep me on track.

Turn Off Your Phone!

Usually my phone will be powered off as I complete homework, but in the odd case that it isn’t, I will always turn it off before doing some blogging. In conjunction with this, I will also close down all of my Safari tabs. If you have an iPad – or any other device connected to social media – turn that off as well. In some cases you will need your device to complete blogging tasks (replying to comments, writing Instagram captions) but where you can, do it from the laptop. It makes you approach every task with a more professional outlook, which I find very helpful.

Write A To-Do List

Hear me out here, because you’ve probably heard this one countless times. Sometimes a list in my bullet journal feels overwhelming, so I like to break it down into manageable parts on a sticky note or alternative piece of paper. A task on my to-do list may be ‘write a blog post’, but on the sticky note I will make a detailed plan so I have a structure to the post. This usually consists of five points – which I then adapt on. Write yourself a mini to-do list, breaking down a bulkier task. I promise you it works every time!

Get Some Fresh Air

For some of you, this may not be possible. In that case, just open your window and let the air circulate through. Unless, of course, you’re living in a toxic air space. Then don’t listen to a word I say!

After writing a to-do list, I like to go for a short 30 minute walk. No music, no podcasts, just thinking through and action plan for the task I need to complete. You could call this procrastination, but it helps bring a new perspective to my work. I might have sat through 2 hours of homework, and I just need to stretch my legs. I can’t be sat at the same desk all evening. In winter it gets dark super fast, therefore this idea is impractical. In that case I’ll do a short yoga or meditation. It sounds so fancy to say that – but yes I regularly do yoga!

Perform A Ritual

Don’t get hasty, I don’t mean magic spells! Before I get started on blog work, I always perform a ritual to get me in the mood. For me this is opening my window, cleaning my room and getting a glass of water. It’s nothing special, but after completing that series of events I feel ready to take on my previously thought out to-do list. It will differ from person to person but here are some ideas: make a cup of tea, read a chapter of your book, tidy away your school things, complete a meditation. My school work ritual is making a cup of tea and obtaining a snack of two crackers. Try it!

Just Do It

I know you don’t want to hear this, but it’s the only way you’ll ever complete something. Just do it; get started on the task! I will always need to have a few energising moments after school, before I start blogging. Everyone needs a break, that’s a given. You can’t expect yourself to sit at a desk for 5 hours without once getting up. But your creative outlet is your passion. If you need motivation to do it, it’s probably not the right thing for you.

These self-help posts are some of my favourites to plan and write out. Do you enjoy them? Most importantly, are they helpful? I know productivity is a bit of taboo topic. You cannot be productive all the time, and you need breaks to keep your mind creative. However, during lockdown, I found myself giving up too soon. My evenings were spent watching hours of Doctor Who, not moving much and resulting in feeling just a bit ugh. Therefore I started implementing tips like these to keep me on track. Self-worth should not be measured by productivity. But then again, you only live once and you must make the most of your time on this earth. Key word: balance. Your definition of balance is in constant flux, which makes it hard to define. But effort is never wasted when it comes to self-care. 

Which of these tips are you going to use? Do you have any tips to be productive after a long and tiring day?

Let’s make the comment section a bubble of advice, so we can help those who are finding it difficult to find time post-work for their hustles. And as always, let me know what’s occurring in your life at the moment. You have no idea how much I love chatting with you all.

catherine x

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5 Ways To Share Your Support To The Black Lives Matter Movement | Guest Post By Simple Little Things

Why has Black Lives Matter suddenly disappeared from your stories? Injustice doesn’t end after a few protests. You’ve got to keep supporting the movement. You’ve got to keep having those uncomfortable conversations. This is a post written by my new blogging friend, Ana. Included are 5 ways to support the movement. Anything written in italics are adaptations from me, Erin. The rest are Ana’s words.

Educating yourself

Knowing about current issues are very
important. Educating yourself about the movement not
only enlightens you but you also helps the person who
wanted to spread the awareness. There is so much to learn about this topic, since it doesn’t get taught enough on the school curriculum.

Petitions

Signing up petitions can also help you voice
yourself and preferably heard by the government.

I suggest you click on this link. My friend made a Linktree with loads of petitions to sign. They are the ‘main’ ones, if you will. However, by browsing Change.org, you will find loads more worthy causes. Once signed, share to your Instagram! Not to be performative, but to encourage others to take the steps you’re taking.

This photo is not mine

Platforms

No matter how small or big your platform is,
keep raising your voice. Your never know one day when
you will be heard. I always see various messages related to
the movement being spread on my friend Erin’s Instagram
account. It is truly fascinating to see her make use of her
platform to the most.

Thank you dearly, Ana! I don’t think I make enough effort but I keep trying. Sharing resources it the most helpful, and that’s what I try to do through my platforms.

Cute piece of artwork chosen by Ana

Donations

I know you’re wondering if you donate money –
will it reach the necessary organisation? Here’s what you
can do, start small. It always doesn’t have to be a huge
amount. Your contribution and awareness is all that
matters. Make sure you find a reliable organization too
and I am sure that your money will be valued.

These are organisations you can donate to:

https://undocublack.org

https://colorofchange.org

https://naacpldf.org

https://m4bl.org

https://baji.org

This photo is also taken from Safari (not taken by me)

Say the name

Do not ever hesitate to say the name. It is
due to the reason that we did not talk about the incidents
that happened to so many others like George Floyd, we never got the chance to know them. Talk about it. Join groups and share your ideas. There are so many productive things that you can do.

Ana chose this photo to be added in! It’s so powerful.

This isn’t a collaboration to gain views, engagement, likes etc. I just want to shed light on an important issue. If you haven’t heard of Ana, you should definitely check out her blog and Instagram. She writes skincare/health/beauty posts. I find them really useful, and decided to write a guest post for her blog in return. I will link that here. It’s 5 ways to prevent greasy hair. However, I’d much prefer you to click on the links of resources. Support BLM. The fight never ends.

How are you going to keep supporting anti-racism? What have we missed from this list?

Educate us by leaving your comments below. This needs discussion.

catherine x

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How To Be A Morning Person (If You Want To) | 5 Easy Tips & Useful Advice

Not all of us can be morning people. There’s no point trying to be someone you’re not! If you’re a night owl, you do you. However, I know a lot of you want to try out early starts for a time so you know how it makes you feel. I’ve always been an early riser and over the years I have implemented things into my routine that help me off to a good start. In case you’re interested,I wake up at 6. These are the tips I have for you if you want to wake up earlier:

1) Get 8 Hours Of Sleep

This sounds shocking to a lot of you, but it’s the healthiest amount of time you should be in bed. On the first couple of nights I’d even try 9 hours, because your body clock with trick itself into thinking you’re tired when you’re not. After a week or two you’ll get into a routine. Set an alarm for bedtime and stick by it! I get ready for bed about 20:30 and fall asleep around 22:00. This leaves time for doing the things I like before bed, rather than late night studying. 

2) One Alarm Only!

At first you will need to use a snooze alarm, but after a month get rid! It’s really bad to have a snooze, and it makes you more tired than you were previously. To cut it short, your body takes an hour to ‘shut down’ and when you interrupt this your body reacts and thinks it needs more sleep. I’m good at waking up at the first alarm, because I have a motivation for the morning.

3) Set An Intention

In the past month I got into practising yoga and I do it to start off every morning. When I’m laying in bed, debating whether or not to lie in, I think about my yoga. Just the idea motivates me to get up! And once I’m out of bed I do something to fully wake myself up.

4) Drink Water

Before bed I get myself a glass of water, leaving it on my desk for the morning. Once I switch off my alarm (which is across the room, double tip here!), I go over and drink a whole glass of water. At once. After 8 hours of not drinking it’s really important to get fluid in your body, but it also wakes you up. If water isn’t your thing, go downstairs and make yourself a cup of tea! There’s no point going to bed when the kettles boiling.

5) Stick To It

Weekends are no exception! Get up every day at the same time and slowly you’ll have a consistent body clock. It may seem hard at first but your future self will thank you for it.

What time do you wake up every morning? Are you an early bird or a night owl?

erin x

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