Tag: writing for business

How I Navigate Imposter Syndrome as a Non-Native English Writer

Author Dominik Jemec Photo by Marcel Kukovec

By Dominik Jemec

“You’ll never be good enough because you’re not a native writer.” That’s what a professor of translation studies at my university in Austria told me when I said my dream was to be an English writer. That was five years ago.

I’ve had many awful jobs since graduating, from delivering mail in sweltering heat to fielding daily insults while working in a call centre. Then in 2021, I got my first writing job: creating customer care-related content about cryptocurrencies. After a mass layoff in the summer of 2022, I joined a travel company called TourRadar as a content specialist, where I work on creative campaigns.

But I’m not complacent. My impostor syndrome leaks out of me a lot. If you’re a non-native writer like me, you may be fighting the same demons. Here’s how I keep them at bay.

I split up my writing process

You can’t be a writer without writing. But if you’re constantly questioning your skills, how do you actually get down to writing?

First, research. I use AI tools like ChatGPT 4. They’re just much better than looking things up online. I write detailed prompts because the better my input, the better the output.

Then I write, without overthinking. To stay focused, I put on a timer and just hammer out the text. If I have writer’s block, I ask ChatGPT to write a draft based on the research.

Lastly, I edit. It’s a tough process. Sometimes I have to remove parts I really like that just don’t fit. But I never discard them – I put them in a document with other unused content. Editing is ‘magical’. I might go a certain direction when I write, then turn it on its head when I edit.

I seek feedback

I’ve often been scared to send a piece of writing to my manager for proofreading. I would try to make every sentence perfect, thinking I’d be sacked if I didn’t. The pressure I put on myself took more energy than the writing itself, so I eventually learned to let go.

Every time my manager gives me feedback, I go through it carefully, analysing where I need to improve. All my favourite writers – Kurt Vonnegut, Douglas Adams and Hunter S. Thompson – got edited, so why shouldn’t I?

Outside of work, I get writing feedback from the Sunday WritersClub, and do specialised courses, including City, University of London’s Introduction to Copywriting, led by Maggie Richards. Not only did I learn the fundamentals of copywriting, I wrote a lot of copy and received helpful feedback from Maggie.

I connect with other writers

I listen to writing podcasts like the Copywriter Club, and follow creative writers like Drayton Bird, Dan Nelken and Eddie Shleyner on LinkedIn. If, for example, you love advertising like I do, whenever you see an ad you like, find out who produced it and start following them on social media. The knowledge writers share (for free) is staggering.

I embrace my voice

I used to embellish my writing because I really wanted to prove myself. But I’ve found that such texts are mostly unreadable. I’ve learned that simplicity wins.

There is merit in emulating good flow and sentence structure, but at the end of the day, your voice is your USP. Incorporate idioms, metaphors and storytelling elements from your own culture. Your writing will stand out.

I apply for all writing jobs

Many writing jobs ask for a native writer. After I started my current job, I asked our recruiters how many people had applied for the position. Through one job search platform alone there were over 60 applicants. Many were probably native writers with impressive CVs. So why did I get the job? Maybe because of my unwavering passion for writing.

I truly hope my tips help you overcome any self-doubts you may have as a non-native writer – and inspire you to keep on writing well, no matter what lies ahead.

About the author: Dominik Jemec is a Slovenian working in Vienna as a content writer in his third language, English. You can connect with Dominik on LinkedIn.

Dominik took City’s Introduction to Copywriting course taught by Maggie Richards. As part of the course, students can pitch a blog idea. If successful, the post will then be edited and appear on our site. For our full range of courses, visit HERE.

 

 

Neuro-Linguistic Programming: What It Is And How It Can Improve The Way We Do Business

by Helena Dias

I bet if you were told that you could train your mind and connect with others, without saying a single word, you wouldn’t believe it.

Neuro-Linguistic Programming, or NLP—simply put, an ‘Instruction manual for the mind’—doesn’t teach us how to read or control minds. Instead it teaches us how to deal with our own emotions and how to build rapport with others. Through a simple set of tools, you can improve the way you see yourself and others and, in turn, the way people see and interact with you.

Background

Therapeutic Intervention?

I first came across NLP when I was battling anxiety and Nyctophobia—fear of the dark. I’d tried Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, yoga and meditation. All helped, but only for a short period, after which the negative feelings would always come back. A friend suggested I try hypnotherapy and I started seeing a therapist that combined hypnotherapy with NLP. After the session he would give me techniques to practice on my own and for the first time I felt empowered and in charge of my own recovery process.

Seeing the results in myself led me to start my own NLP practitioner journey with the aim of helping others.

NLP was developed in the 1970s in California by psychologist Richard Bandler and linguist John Grinder. They believed it was possible to combine techniques from different forms of therapy and self-help practices to create a tool kit for the mind.

Take our fight or flight response. It was designed to aid survival in dangerous or threatening situations, and yet most of us are no longer in constant contact with danger. We become fearful of something going wrong even when we have no proof that it will go wrong. We develop phobias of things that can’t really harm us, and we create ideas and thoughts in our brain to counter these phobias, manifesting anxiety, stress and fears in physical form. NLP teaches us to use our brain power in a way that can dismantle these ideas and thoughts and impact us more positively.

How NLP benefits individuals

NLP can increase our self-worth and confidence leading to better communication, influence, and leadership skills. It works by changing the way we talk (linguistic) to, and about, ourselves (neuro-brain).

In NLP the use of the word “don’t” is discouraged. It is based on the belief that our brains find it difficult to process negative statements. We respond better when we think about the things we want to happen, rather than those we don’t.

For example, you could approach the following situation in two ways:

Negative: I’m prepared, therefore I won’t fail this presentation.

Positive: I’m prepared, therefore I will give a great presentation.

To negate a fear, first we must think of that fear and make it more present in our mind. For example, if I tell you to not think of a blue tree you first need to think of the blue tree to tell your brain to not think of it. If we can visualise our success instead, we present ourselves in a more confident way, leading others to trust us.

How NLP benefits our dealings with others:

Body Talks?

When we consider that 93% of our communication is non-verbal, it makes sense to pay attention both to our own body language and others’, and use our observations to help build rapport.

When we meet people for the first time, we may have the feeling that we’ve met them before. We feel comfortable around them. NLP teaches us to label this experience body language matching or mirroring.

We can then use those labels and knowledge to connect and build rapport with others. For example, if you are in a meeting and you want to connect with the person you are presenting to, observe their body language and try mirroring it by moving your hands at a similar speed, smiling, or leaning in the same direction as the other person. The idea is that this will bring us towards the other person’s world and help them feel more comfortable and more open to connect with us.

We can also use other people’s body language to help us determine the words we choose. For example, through eye patterns we can determine which ‘sense’ is more dominant for that person, and how they might be thinking. NLP classifies these senses into Visual, Auditory and Kinaesthetic.

When we are asked questions, we go to our brain “draws” to pick the information before we answer. Even though the action might take less than a second, after a few questions it becomes easier to identify which ‘sense’ the other person is using and adapt our language to better connect.

Connecting the Dots

A person who often looks down to the left when asked a question would be classed in NLP terms as more kinaesthetic, i.e. they are more connected to feelings and actions. When describing something to that person we may get better results if we talk about how an experience made us feel: ‘I came out of the house and I felt the sun on my face.’

By using language that others identify with we manage to connect and go into their world, leaving them more open to what we have to say.

 

In conclusion

NLP can produce results almost instantly but to see long-term benefits it requires practice.

The beauty of it is that we can come back to it at any time and any place. It helps us understand ourselves, be more confident and calmer under pressure. The more in control of our emotions we are the more we can connect with others.

Our Writing for Business and Copywriting courses include the opportunity for students to pitch and be published on our blog. This week’s blog was pitched and written by Writing for Business student Helena Dias. Helena is a Conference Organiser for UNISON and has been working in events for more than ten years. She is currently training to become an NLP practitioner with Toby and Kate McCartney.

For more on all our writing courses visit our home page HERE.

Writing Short Courses Newsletter Spring 2023

The bluebells are here and the days are getting just that bit longer. Here to bring even more joy is the latest news from our wonderful writing short course alumni and tutors.

Alumni News

Novel Studio alumni news: Award-winning author Deepa Anappara will publish Letters to a Writer of Colour later this year. Edited with Taymour Soomro, it’s a collection of essays on fiction, race, and culture. Deepa has also recently joined the MA Creative Writing teaching team at City where she teaches Literary Journalism. There will be a launch for the book at City on March 13th. It’s free but you’ll need to register HERE.

Book cover of Letters to a Writer of Colour

Letters to a Writer of Colour, edited by Deepa Anappara

 

Book cover for The House of Whispers

The House of Whispers, Anna Mazzola’s new novel

Anna Mazzola’s new historical thriller, The House of Whispers, will launch in March 2023. Ian Rankin has described Anna’s work as ‘Historical fiction with a fantastical twist, done with verve and skill’.

Janet Philips has published her debut book, Great Literary Friendships, with Bodleian Library, described by Publisher’s Weekly as a ‘fun spin on literary analysis’.

Rachel Mann has published her short story, The Things We Grew, with Passengers Journal. She has also published a column in the Rumpus called Things I Wish I Could Workshop other than my Novel.

Katy Darby’s Writers’ Workshop and Short Story Writing students continue to shine. Emma Guinness (Grae) has won Scots book of the Year 2022 for her novel Be Guid Tae Yer Mammy. Her second novel, The tongue she speaks15k of which was workshopped on her City course — was published last year with Luath Press. Sue Hann has a publishing deal with Neem Tree Press for a non-fiction book due out in 2025.  Kate Gilby Smith has published two middle-grade children’s books with Hachette since taking the course in 2017, the first was The Astonishing Future of Alex Nobody and the second is Olive Jones and the Memory Thief, which came out in June 2022.

Book cover for OliverJones and the Memory Thief

Olive Jones and the Memory Thief by Kate Gilby Smith

Joe Gallard has won the Ilkley International 8x8x8 playwriting competition. His play, This is Not a Drill, will be performed at the Ilkley Playhouse this April. Tickets available here. Helen Harjak was shortlisted for the 2022 Willesden Herald Short Story Prize. Former Times literary editor Erica Wagner will publish a new book, The Vocal + Fiction Awards Anthology, with Unbound in February 2023. The anthology is a collection of stories chosen from over 13,000 entries submitted to the Vocal+ Fiction Awards. Roly Grant’s 500 word story ‘Dust’ was the Richmond borough winner in Spread the Word’s ‘City of Stories’ anthology, published in June 2022.

Martin Ouvry’s Novel Writing and Longer Works’ alumnus Conor Sneyd has published his debut novel, Future Fish, with Lightning Books. You can read more about Conor’s path to publication on our blog here. Two of Martin’s other students, Angelita Bradney and Kate Vine, have been taken on by top literaryn agents — Catherine Cho at Paper Literary, and Johnson & Alcock, respectively.

2023 looks like being a great year for Peter Forbes’ Narrative Non Fiction alumni. Dee Peyok brought her pitch for a book about Cambodian rock music in the 1960s to the

Author photo of Aniefiok Ekpoudom

Aniefiok Ekpoudom

course back in 2013. The book, Away from Beloved Lover, was published by Granta in January, to rave reviews. More recent alumni include Claire Martin’s (2021) Heirs of Ambition, a history of the Boleyn family before they became famous, which will be published by The History Press; and Aniefiok Ekpoudom’s (2015) Where We Come From: How Grime and Rap gave voice to a generation is due from Faber in August. In other news, Alice Kent has been longlisted for the Observer/Burgess Prize for Arts Journalism 2023.

Opportunities

The Novel Studio, our flagship year-long course for aspiring novelists, has opened for applications. For more details on the course and how to apply follow the link to our home page. To find out more about our extensive list of published alumni, take a look here.

If you want to talk to me in person about the Novel Studio or any other writing short course, I’ll be at the virtual Open Evening on 28 March. Sign up HERE.

City Writes

Our termly writing competition open to all writing short course students, past and present, is seeking submissions for its spring event. This term’s guest alumna will be award-winning author Hannah Begbie, author of two Mother and Blurred Lines, both published by HarperCollins. For your chance to join Hannah on the virtual stage, you need only send in your best 1,000 words of creative fiction or nonfiction (no young children’s fiction or poetry please) by midnight on March 3rd to rebekah.lattin-rawstrone.2@city.ac.uk . You can find full submission details here.

Hannah Begbie

Or just come along to hear some fantastic new writing on the night itself, 29th March. It’s all on Zoom and you can register here.

Scholarships

We continue to offer a fully funded place for a young adult (18-25) from an underrepresented background and/or facing financial difficulty on our Writing for Social Impact course. To apply, please contact the tutor Ciaran Thapar explaining why you’d like to attend. This course is now offered monthly to reflect the increased demand.

Please see below for more information on our Novel Studio scholarship.

New Courses

Pete Austin and Anna Tsekouras, aka Anon agency, have hit the ground running on our new Branding 101 course for small businesses, creatives, entrepreneurs or anyone who wants to know more about how to create and foster their own brand. Feedback so far has been very positive with one student describing it as ‘the perfect blend of foundational theory and tangible takeaways.’

Tutor News

Holly Rigby joins the teaching team as Thursday night’s Narrative Non Fiction tutor. A former student on Peter Forbes’ course, she is a passionate advocate for the course and a brilliant writer and teacher in her own right. Holly worked as an English teacher in inner London schools for almost a decade, and is currently working on a book about the UK education system, published by Repeater Books in early 2024. Welcome, Holly!

Writing for Social Impact tutor, author and youth worker Ciaran Thapar has launched his own newsletter, ALL CITY, through Substack. Pitched as the ‘diary of a youth worker, with the pen of an author’, the newsletter will be a weekly dive into the challenges of inner city youth work and education. You can sign up and find out more here.

Anna Wilson is now teaching our Writing the Memoir course. Most of Anna’s books have been for children and teens, but more recently she has turned her hand to writing for adults. Her memoir A Place for Everything – my mother, autism and me has been reviewed as “a seminal work in this area” by the world expert in autism in women, Professor Tony Attwood. Welcome back, Anna!

Paris writing retreat, 12-16 April 2023. Former Novel Studio tutor and award-winning author Dr Emma Claire Sweeney and literary agent Jonathan Ruppin will host five days of mentoring and group writing sessions in a stunning private residence a short walk from the Eiffel Tower. Planning and follow-up sessions on Zoom. Quote CITY10 for 10% discount for bookings made by 13th March 2023.

Paris Writing Retreat

And finally…

We wanted to say a huge thank you to Harriet Tyce. Harriet has funded and supported our Novel Studio scholarship for the past four years. A former barrister and Novel Studio alumna, Harriet is now a Sunday Times best-selling crime novelist. Her three novels, all published by Wildfire, have been runaway successes and her reputation as a leading crime writer is now firmly established. We have been so lucky to have Harriet’s backing for the Novel Studio, not only through the scholarship program — a program she initiated — but also through her ongoing mentoring support for the scholarship recipients and her generous introductions to the annual showcase. We very much hope to keep the scholarship alive — so do watch this space for more on this — but in the meantime, thank you so much, Harriet!

That’s all for this term. Congratulations and thanks to all our wonderful students and tutors.

To find out more about all our creative writing short courses visit our home page HERE.

And for more on all City’s short courses, look HERE.

A Cautionary Tale of ‘Reply All’

We’ve all been there… you were either the recipient or the sender of an accidental reply-all email. It may have made you cringe. It may have made you wonder whether you should acknowledge your mistake. Should you apologise? Should you notify the sender? One thing is certain, it looks unprofessional. Writing for Business student, Karen Young, gives her top three reply-all blunders: how to deal with them, and how to avoid them.

 

Ready to send?

1.The time you didn’t check your email before replying all. The result: you’ve sent a comment that was meant specifically for one colleague and ended up offending the other external recipients.

We’ve all done it: hit reply-all by accident, whether it’s on your mobile or desktop, and not checked that all-important email before sending. You may have made a comment to your colleague and cc’d the external recipients. It could have been a response meant only for your colleagues.

What should you do? Acknowledge that you sent the email to the external recipients by mistake. And apologise: they could have been customers or third-party suppliers.

My advice: always triple-check your email before sending. Check the recipients and cc’s, the subject, and the body text. You will never regret doing so.

 

2.When a flurry of people reply-all to the whole company

A company-wide email is sent. The topic could be an upcoming event, a milestone, or a financial goal reached. If senior management acknowledge this, fine. But there’s no need for everyone to say “Fantastic”, or “Okay”, or “Thanks”. This type of reply-all clogs up inboxes and the server.

My advice: if you have a meaningful reply, select only those who need to hear it.

Think before you click?

3.You’ve accidentally replied all, and then those in copy purposefully reply-all to let you know you’ve replied all!

My advice: If you need to let the person know they’ve made the mistake of replying all, let them know. Everyone else on copy will already know. Reply to the sender only.

To aid the fight against the reply-all annoyance, Microsoft have helpfully enabled a feature to deal with email storms – a Reply All Storm Protection Feature. Check whether your organisation has this. It could save many headaches.

Above all, consider whether a reply-all is necessary and always triple-check your emails. It may take a few minutes when time is precious but it is always worthwhile!

Triple check before you hit send

About the author

Karen Young has worked in secretarial / assistant roles for 24 years in three different industries – law, private equity, and most recently mining. She holds a Level 3 Professional Diploma in Law through the Institute of Legal Executives. Karen enjoys learning to maintain her professional development, including the very rewarding City’s Writing for Business short course.

For more on the Writing for Business course Karen took, visit our webpage.

We are also running our Writing for Business course this summer as a one-week intensive. For more information visit the course page here.

To find out more about our vibrant writing short course portfolio, including our summer schools, visit our website here.

 

Business as Usual?

Do we create our own business stereotypes and, if so, where do these  misconceptions come from?  Writing for Business student, Stacey Steele, investigates.

Business As Usual?

I’m going to be completely honest. If you had said the word business to me three years ago, I would have visualised a group of people sat round a large table wearing smart, but monotonous, clothing. The group would mostly be men (I’m ashamed to say) and they would be listening and nodding along to their leader without question. For some reason, I always thought the environment would be tense and uptight, and personalities or fresh ideas were best left at the door if business was going to get done.

Why on earth I had these misconceptions, I do not know. I certainly never thought businesses should be run like that. I can only assume my own life experiences, which were probably hugely contributed to by certain TV shows like ‘The Apprentice’, had moulded a fixed stereotype of business settings. Based on my own knowledge and skills, it didn’t feel like it was a world I was qualified to be in and therefore definitely best left to the ‘experts’.

The dictionary definition of business is very loose. Dictionary.com describes it as ‘an occupation, profession, or trade’, ‘the purchase and sale of goods in an attempt to make a profit’ or a ‘person, partnership, or corporation engaged in commerce, manufacturing, or a service; profit-seeking enterprise or concern’. So, my own fixed view of what was basically Mr Banks at work (from the 1964 film, Mary Poppins) was restrictive, and had major potential to hold me back.

Business Revelations

Transferable skills: easy as A, B, C

Before my current role (as an Operations Manager), and for most of my adult life, I worked in education. Not strictly a business, but I would argue I gained most of my transferable skillset there. Experience quickly taught me that managing a class of children, all with different learning targets, and being able to adapt and develop to meet individual needs are all invaluable skills in a business setting. Prior to that I had various jobs in an office, shops, and a photography studio – all of which were clearly businesses. Places where goods or services were offered in exchange for payment and with the intent to make a profit. But why had I hastily dismissed these settings as being part of the business world, and therefore myself included?

It seems when we think about stereotypes and fixed ideas, we may not be self-reflecting enough. Although it is important to recognise that our own unconscious biases and stereotypical thinking can be reinforced by structural inequalities and prejudices, are we also restricting ourselves? By leaving teaching and joining the business world I suddenly had to address my own ignorance. I quickly discovered that these fixed notions of working in business were causing me to limit myself. But is it any easier to challenge misconceptions when they are our own?

What’s in a Job Title Anyway?

A possible route to feeling intimidated by business is the array of officious-sounding job titles floating around in businesses. These have the potential to create a fixed mindset of the type of character a role requires. People in senior roles may be expected to behave in a certain way, with a system of hierarchy affecting how colleagues interact with each other. But this behaviour may be assumed rather than anticipated and by continuing the cycle, rather than challenging stereotypes, nothing changes.

Doing it Differently

There are many outliers in business. Those that don’t worry about what has gone before. Industry pioneers we read about and by whom we’re inspired. I sometimes wonder if ‘imposter syndrome’ is commonplace for potential trailblazers. Are the ones who would dare to do it differently, the very people who don’t feel they belong?

Blaze your own trail

There is a risk that individuals with a unique approach could feel intimidated and dissuaded from entering a profession because of the barriers they interpret are there. Many factors can affect our opportunities, including education, gender, race, disabilities and social background. But the drive for greater diversity is gathering pace and blinkered views of who sits in the boardroom are slowly being cast out. Nevertheless, we also need to address our own self-limiting and obstructive attitudes.

Smashing Stereotypes

Create your own possible

So how do we avoid becoming victims of a perpetual self-fulfilling prophecy? What can we do to stop our preconceptions of the business world and ‘how it’s done’ from leading us to believe we don’t have a place in it? Essentially, be the change. Don’t be influenced by unwritten rules or intimidated by grand job titles. Becoming a CEO doesn’t mean you have to stay in your office and taking a trainee role shouldn’t mean others can’t learn from your ideas. Breaking conforms and challenging expectations takes bravery, but it’s the only way outdated stereotypes (even fictional ones) can become a thing of the past.

About the author

After becoming a mum at 18, Stacey Steele studied part-time whilst working in education and eventually became a qualified teacher. She decided to change direction after her husband took on his own business, and moved into a role managing operations within the company. Stacey took City’s Writing for Business Short Course with Jenny Stallard.

City are running a week-long Writing for Business Summer School in August. For more information visit our webpage.

To find out more about our vibrant short writing course portfolio, visit our website.

Five things I’ve learned about writing for business by teaching writing for business

By Jenny Stallard

Writing for Business is a, well, tricky business. The balance of the formal and informal, the words we choose being a key part of whether a client will perhaps want to meet us, work with us or indeed pay us.

 

In the 8-week course that I teach for City, University of London, we cover a lot of the practicalities of Writing for Business, from blogs and bios to emails and CVs. However, there is always a lot of discussion about the emotional side of things: how we might develop a tone of voice unique to us and our business, the formality vs informality of email styles and how to address different clients or potential clients.

 

These are also all things I come across in my daily life as a self-employed coach and writer! And it means that, during the course, I always have moments of clarity about my own Writing for Business. Tutoring on Writing for Business (WFB) has actually taught me a lot about the methods and choices we make when it comes to our language in business.

 

 

Here’s what I’ve learned:

 

1: Our style and tone of voice is always a work in progress. Particularly if we are writing for our own business. I have found that my style has evolved more since teaching the course, too, as I hear the lessons each time and apply them to my own Writing for Business! We must, of course, adhere to style guides where appropriate, but being ‘brave’ enough to build our own style is something we should and can work on constantly. And, it’s OK if it changes over the course of time, too.

 

2: The types of writing for business are always expanding. At the beginning of each 8-week course, we brainstorm what forms writing for business can come in. There is always something new from someone to add to the list. For example, we discuss whether podcasts are WFB (I would argue that the show notes are), or TikTok and Instagram (well, captions are writing, aren’t they?).

 

3:  If in doubt, probably leave it out! This is particularly true for the emoji, which comes up for discussion in the module I teach on emails and etiquette. An emoji in an email is a total no-no for some, while, in the media industry and particular newsletters, I often see emojis in the subject line and indeed the body of an email. As with everything, if you’re considering using an emoji, think whether it adds anything, and always go back to whether the client/reader would be on board with it.

 

4: Sometimes the smallest words are the best. One of the parts of the course I love teaching is about calls to action – those small sets of one to three words where a site, article or post gets us to click to either sign up, buy, or find out more. Often, we can see writing for business being about the long form writing, from reports and brochures to presentations and articles. And of course, it is! But there is a real skill in shortening words down, and, in particular, self-editing. Writing a call to action, an 8-word headline or just 100-word bio is often the most satisfying as we work our magic to make the fewest words say the most.

 

5: The biggest challenge isn’t the words, it’s the confidence to write – and publish – them. From a blog post to an email asking for ‘that’ meeting about a promotion/pay rise, to a social media post or a profile and bio. Selling – whether it’s a product or ourselves – using words is hard. Often what holds us back is ‘but what if nobody reads it?!’. Having the courage to publish, press send, or upload our writing for business is perhaps the biggest challenge of all. I hope that my writing this piece, and putting it ‘out there’ inspires readers and course members to do the same.

 

 

Jenny Stallard teaches City’s 8-week Writing for Business course. For information on our other writing courses, visit our website.

 Register for our Virtual Open Evening next Thursday 31 March at 6pm

Five Mindful Practices for A Good Day at Work

By Holly James

Finding a work-life balance can be tough. Maybe you feel like you never get any time to yourself, that you’re too stressed, or you just aren’t doing your best at work. Try these simple daily practices to change things for the better.

    1.  Meditate in the morning

Start out simple and easy. It’s important to be gentle with yourself. Begin by finding a comfortable position for your body, where you won’t get disturbed. Sitting cross-legged or laying down on your bed are options, but if you’re worried about falling asleep, try sitting first!

Once you’re settled, close your eyes and focus on the quality of your breathing. In meditation, you want to lengthen both your inhales and exhales, to provide an oxygen-rich relaxation experience for your whole body. Insight Timer is a great free app offering guided meditations and soothing music to help.

    2.  Pen a positive intention

Make sure it’s specific and achievable. It could be something like “Today I will go for a walk outdoors”, or “Today I’ll drink water instead of coffee”. Write it on a bright post-it and stick it to your computer screen, or jot it in your journal to remind yourself later. Remember to always be kind. It’s an intention, not a measure of achievement.

    3.  Do a quick clean

Tidy house, tidy mind. It can be hard to feel productive and creative when your living space is messy. Set a 15-minute timer before work and get hoovering! If the noise doesn’t wake you up, the movement will.

   4.   Play with the Pomodoro technique

You might have heard of this technique for boosting productivity, but try using it to schedule regular breaks instead. It works by setting a timer that splits a time block. For example, 45 minutes of work, and a 15-minute break. You can move your body in your breaks, drink water, or go outside for fresh air. Our bodies need regular movement, and our brains ample rest for us to feel energised and happier.

  5.   Befriend your breath

Just pause for a moment and take a single deep breath. Notice where your breath goes when you inhale – does it fill your belly, or get stuck in your throat? Are your exhales short and forceful, or long and relaxing? When we‘re stressed our breath shortens, and less oxygen can get to the brain, which it needs to function fully. Try breathing deeply for a couple of minutes and see how you feel. 

When I was struggling to get up in the mornings to go to my 9-5 job these techniques were a lifeline. Breathwork and meditation especially helped me stay positive, even when I hated my job. I hope that by doing these practices, you find something positive shifts in your life, too.
 

By Holly James, who felt so inspired after doing our Introduction to Copywriting that she’s now a copywriter!

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