How To… temper your temper.

As of late I’ve been a bit grumpy. I know it’s mostly hormonal, but am currently unsure whether it’s a result of changing my usual mood stabilizers (coffee and fish-based omega supplements), a result of trying for a baby or that I am actually pregnant.

But a temper, however random and hormonal, is a vile thing to control. So here is how I have been trying to keep my usual disposition despite everything annoying me for no reason at all.

1: Do not play the blame game.

Whether the anger is justified or unjustified, don’t spend all your time looking for things to blame and problems that are making you angry.

Recognize the sources of your anger. Recognize their validity. But try and surpass them, rather than let them annoy you more.

Example: The dog has trodden mud in the carpet after a walk with your friend. You feel the dog is useless and annoying. You feel your friend could have controlled the dog better, or cleaned up after it.

Solution: Acknowledge that it’s done now and trying to put the blame on someone does not fix the issue, it just creates more bad feelings.

2: Keep your mouth shut.

Whether the anger is justified or unjustified, unless the situation is actively dangerous don’t bring up anger when you’re still angry. Sit it out, work on it in your head and then, when you’re cooled off, see if it’s worth mentioning. More often than not, once the anger has faded back, you will feel it wasn’t worth having an argument about.

Example: You want to shout at your friend for letting the dog into the house.

Solution: Rather than alienate your friend, ask them to help you clean and do not mention that you blame them,

3: Write up a schedule.

Sometimes we get angry because we are just generally stressed and overworked and one little thing out of place can ruin our whole day. Rather than let this happen repeatedly, write a schedule that leaves a bit of room between tasks so that you have time to handle mishaps.

Example: Your friend usually visits on a Wednesday at 12 and lets the dog out in the garden.

Solution: Make sure to be free on Wednesdays from 11.50 to 12.30 so you can clean the dog before it gets inside.

4: Do something creative and relaxing.

Again, sometimes we’re just doing far, far, far too much and need some time to unwind. Humans aren’t meant to just work all day. We need some down time. And what better time for down time than when we are sitting around seething?

Doing something creative calms the stressed part of our brain and is an outlet for anger and sadness.

Example: The carpet looks damaged beyond repair. Now you start thinking about the cost of getting a new one and feel even more stressed.

Solution: Sit down for a bit with a cup of tea and some knitting, a book or some pencils and paper. At first keep the problem out of your mind, but as you relax, slowly let it in and seek a solution.

5: Look for the brightness.

There is a silver lining to every cloud, or so the saying goes. When you are in a bad place it can be hard to see the bright side, especially when it looks like the situation has no upsides at all. But it’s important to consider what the situation could be.

Is there another side effect that has provided an upside? This means there is a silver lining.

Could the situation have been much worse? This means you are doing well compared to what could have been.

Did the situation result from a generally positive thing? This means it is a small price to pay.

Examples:

If you absolutely have to change the carpet, you get to pick a new carpet for your room and reconsider the decor to make it nice. Silver lining.

The carpet was already old and stained, so it doesn’t make any difference, it can stay that way. The scenario is not so bad.

Your friend is a human and humans make mistakes. A stained carpet is a small price to pay for a friend.

And that is how I am managing my annoyance lately. I’m hoping this will pass on its own, or that I will find a way of managing my moods again, seeing as being constantly annoyed isn’t good for your mental health. But at least I am not letting it hurt those close to me or upset my life.

How do you manage irregular moods or anger?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

How To… sell yourself like coffee?!

We’ve all heard that you need to sell yourself. To employers, friends, universities, partners… everyone, really. The fact of the matter is that everyone wants to exchange with you. Your employer wants to exchange money for your skills and time. Your friends want to exchange their time for yours. Universities want to exchange an education for your money and rating. Partners want to exchange your time and body for their time and body.

But many people have a hard time selling themselves properly to anyone. So here is how to sell yourself, in coffee terms.

1: You are in control of the market price.

Let’s say you’ve just opened your coffee shop. Sure, demand and customers are the most important things. But coffee is always in demand and this is an area with high footfall. So you set the price, not anyone else. You can set the price wherever you like, really. Is it too high or too low? We don’t know yet. But it’s in your hands, nobody else’s.

2: Observe other sellers, but don’t copy.

Watch what they do. What sort of coffee are they selling? Is it good coffee? Is the price reasonable? Do they get many customers? Do they cover their rent? How much coffee do they sell?

Don’t copy what they do, just watch and take note.

3: Stand out.

You want to be different to the other sellers. Most people think the only way of doing this is lowering the price, but this isn’t true. You can sell better coffee, sell different coffee, sell it with a gimmick, try and be friendly to your customers. You can stand out from the other coffee shops in many ways and each way will attract a different type of customer.

4: Set your prices.

Now’s the time to decide what your price will be. Your price has no upper or lower limit. But if you price your coffee too low you won’t be able to pay for your shop or new stock and if you price your coffee too high then you may go a long time without customers. You can choose to sell highly exclusive or accessible coffee, but know your customers.

5: Advertise well.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling accessible or exclusive coffee, what sort of coffee you’re selling or how you’re standing out, if you don’t advertise well, then nobody will know it’s there. Advertising well isn’t really about advertising widely. For very little money you could probably drop fliers for your coffee shop all over a Chinese city, but unless your shop is in that city you won’t be reaching your target market. Think of your target market, their habits, where they congregate and advertise wisely. Make sure the advertisement is in the right place, catches the target market’s eyes and tells them what sort of coffee they will find at the coffee shop.

6: Freebies and sneak peeks.

It’s fine to offer free coffees or snacks, sneak peaks and events from time to time if you aren’t quite reaching your target market. But don’t offer too much for free too often.

If you offer a lifetime supply of coffee then you can’t offer it to just anyone or to a regular customer, or else you won’t get paid for your coffee and the gimmick won’t work. If you offer free coffee to just anyone then word will get out that there’s free coffee and people will feel cheated when they have to pay.

Some people may offer a lot of free coffee, but their business practices shouldn’t dictate yours. They will eventually shut down or lower the quality of their coffee to keep up with demand. Don’t try and set your price lower than everyone else’s, rather, offer a few exclusive freebies or sneak peeks to customers in a way that will advertise your coffee shop well and attract the right sort of clientele.

7: Wait it out.

If you want a certain type of customer and have done all the above, be patient. They will eventually come to you when you’re doing everything right. On the other hand, if you change your mind about the target market quickly and often, you might lose a lot of customers who would have stayed around and wind up selling a type of coffee you don’t like at an unreasonable price to a clientele you didn’t want. Instead, keep advertising to the right clientele, keep making coffee and wait until the clientele shows up.

And that’s how you sell coffee. Or how you sell yourself to employers, friends and partners.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

10 signs someone is worth your time.

Everyone wants their relationships with other people to be meaningful and rewarding. Whether we’re talking romantic partners, family or friends, we often have to decide who is worth our time. This is especially the case when your time is more valuable, such as when someone very attractive dates or someone with a lot of work spends time on coworkers. This guide should help you work out who adds value to your time and who is a drain on it. In no particular order, here are ten things that, all together, mean someone is worth your time.

1. You can talk without getting uncomfortably heated.

A bigger one than many people would think. It’s fine to have a debate. It’s fine to disagree. It’s fine to agree. It’s fine to have an opinion. It’s fine to get a little passionate now and again. But if you find that this person escalates arguments to levels of emotional intensity that you find uncomfortable and that they do this often, they could be causing issues. Uncomfortable arguments weigh on your mind, fill your time and are often unproductive as both of you turn defensive under uncomfortable levels of passion. If someone offers no conversation without a risk of explosion, then they may be a drain on your time.

2. You respect them as a person.

It is impossible to maintain a healthy relationship with someone you can’t respect. It’s actually possible to benefit from relationships where the other party doesn’t respect you, although you have to know that they disrespect you for it to work and these relationships wouldn’t be considered healthy. But you need to be able to respect someone as a person to make them worth your time. The amount of trouble and drama and resentment that is born of when people disappoint you or leave you is too great. You need to see them as a human with their own needs, wants and ability to move.

3. You both know what you want from each other.

This one has three layers. Firstly you must know what they want from you and you must make sure they know what you want from them. Secondly you must both be willing to fulfill those wants. Thirdly, where the other can’t fulfill your wants you must be willing to compromise and they must be willing to compromise the wants you cannot fulfill. If any of these layers is not met, then they will waste your time and later on disagreements and heated arguments may arise.

4. You enjoy time spent with them.

This is a very important one. So maybe they are  waste of time in every other sense. But if you like the time you spend with them and enjoy it whilst it lasts, they may not be a waste. On the other hand, if they are useful in every way but you hate spending time with them, you might want to consider replacing them.

5. You don’t feel you are getting the raw deal.

Relationships aren’t a zero sum game where someone wins and someone loses. But there will be upsides and downsides to every relationship. If you feel like you’re getting a bad deal and they’re resting on their laurels then it’s time to wonder whether they are worth the time you’re putting in. Even if on a rational level you are about even, if you resent them then the use of your time might not be wise.

6. You can do uncomfortable or difficult things together without turning against each other.

A sure sign that someone is worth the time you invest into them is when even unpleasant tasks don’t turn you against them. If you approach a difficult problem or a strange situation as a team, with the goal being to get everything sorted and over as soon as possible, then they are definitely a good use of your time.

7. You don’t bear grudges.

Bearing a grudge takes time and energy and interferes with future interactions. If you find yourself remembering matters you’d both agreed to put to bed and judging them based on these matters, maybe even bringing them up in arguments, then your time is being used poorly. However, if you find it easy or simply worthwhile to fight the urge to bear a grudge, then they are clearly adding a lot to your life.

8. You have the time to give.

A huge one. If there isn’t the time, there simply isn’t the time. No matter how much you like someone and how useful or pleasant they are, if you can’t find the required time then they aren’t worth your time. If they were worth your time you would make some.

9. Nobody else fits their place better.

Another important one. Is there someone with relationship seniority, who meets more of these criteria or who is just nicer to be around who can do their job just as well as they can? Too many cooks spoil the broth and too many people competing for the same places in your life means you’re putting so many times more energy and time than you need to.

10. Nothing else would fit your time better.

Finally: is there anything more productive or useful you could be doing with this time? If they add a little to your life but learning a language, developing a skill or traveling would add ten times as much, then you shouldn’t spend time developing a relationship that you will resent as you struggle in other areas of life. It’s better to not start relationships like that at all.

And those are ten solid indicators that someone is a productive use of your time. Depending on how social you are you might think anyone who meets five or more with worthwhile or you might decide that someone needs to meet ten to make them worth the time, but I wouldn’t encourage relationships with anyone who meets less than five of these criteria.

How do you make sure you’re using your social time well?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

8 Organization Tips to (Almost) Never Forget Anything.

I have a dreadful memory at times. Part of it is the same hormonal, mental, crazies problem that makes me want to sleep for days on end, hide from people, bite and break things or stare at walls rather than work. Part of it is just that I’m a forgetful sort of a person. With how long it takes me to learn names and get into routines and how hard it is for me to follow a set schedule, I’m sometimes surprised I’m functional. But I am functional, I do remember things, I do get things done (most of the time), and this is how I do it.

1. Lists.

I write lists for everything. Shopping lists, job lists, work lists, garden lists. Whatever you have to do, write it down and write it in context.

Good lists that I use regularly are “things I need to do today,” “steps to cleaning the (kitchen),” and “things to do in town.” Also, many websites have list functions. Not only do I have a list of blog posts to write, I make use of WordPress’s “Drafts” section on the dashboard to keep track of what I’m writing. I also use the beautifully organized “To Do” list on Fiverr and will flag any emails I need to respond to on Outlook. Lists do you good. Just remember to check and update them!

2. Strategic untidiness.

I’m hardly a minimalist, but I love to have a lot of clear surfaces, open floor space and bare wall patches in my house. However, I will strategically leave things in a mess on purpose. Why? Because that way I notice them!

When the pantry countertop is normally clear, but there’s a letter on it, I remember I need to post it when I next go out. When a wall is normally clear but there’s an ironing board with some shirts on it there, I remember I need to iron those shirts. When my sewing basket is normally in the wardrobe, but it’s next-to the sofa and a pile of things is on the coffee table, I remember I’m due a mending spree.

Plus, strategic untidiness also kills procrastination, because I can’t stand to leave things out of place a second longer than necessary!

3. Tell people.

Jon and I tend to relay things back to each other and ask each other odd questions all the time. We are basically walking dictionaries, encyclopedias, agendas and, in Jon’s case, a calculator for each other. But this will work on anyone who has a better memory than you or it will just increase the odds of you being reminded on time.

Tell someone what you need to remember. Try and make it someone who will be around at about the right time to remind you. It’s amazing how just by doubling the people who know something you increase the odds of remembering so much!

4. Fake deadlines.

Another one I do in part to curb procrastination, in part to remember things. If the deadline for an essay is Monday, my fake deadline will be Saturday or Sunday. If the deadline for booking an appointment is the 25th, my fake deadline will be the 20th. If the deadline for hoovering is 6pm, my fake deadline will be 3pm.

Simply set your deadline far back enough that it gives you time to remember it, panic and actually do it. That way you’re unlikely to be late or miss a deadline again.

5. Room by room.

A great way of reminding yourself of things is to sort similar tasks by room. Keep all your papers out in the office: one pile for things to send, one pile for things to file, one pile for things to copy, one pile for things to scan or transcribe. That way you get a visual reminder of what you have left to do at a time when it is convenient to do them.

Likewise with other rooms. Leave the ironing where your laundry dries or is folded once it’s dry. Keep the dishes in or by the sink for when you’re next washing. Try and think about what you would be doing in that part of the room and how you’d divide your time to make the tasks easier.

6. Notes.

Where lists fail, notes rescue you. Put notes everywhere. As text message drafts on your phone, stuck to calendars, next-to the things that need addressing, on your work desk, on your computer, on the fridge, anywhere and everywhere you will see them. The more important to remember, the more notes everywhere.

7. Folders.

For things that you need to remember on a monthly basis or even a quarterly or yearly basis, keep folders. The first thing in the folder should be a list of the last time you did it and what you did. The following pages should be records of the last times. This could be so you don’t repeat birthday presents, so you remember to save for the water bill or so you plant the vegetable seedlings out at the right time. Whatever it’s for, file it, label the folder and put a reminder on your calendar or phone that you need to check it a certain amount of time in advance.

8. Timetable.

Finally, timetables weren’t just good for school. Think about your typical week and write yourself a daily timetable. Do it hour by hour, so you can adjust things as you need. Write everything in it. Either print it out, write it on paper or do it on your computer, depending on what you’re more likely to look at.

For example, mine is on my computer because every day, first thing, I check my emails, student timetable and lists from the day before.

From around 4.30 until 5.15 I am seeing to the cat’s basics (food, water, litter, bedding), helping Jon get ready for work and doing any small jobs.

From 5.15 to 7.30 I am tidying the house, cleaning and doing odd jobs.

From 7.30 I am getting ready for work.

From 8.00 I am having lessons, writing for the blog, writing for money, writing my books.

From 16.00 I am tidying up, finishing my housework and cooking.

So usually by the evening I have done everything. And if I haven’t at least I have a few hours to finish everything.

And that’s how I try my hardest to remember everything. It isn’t failsafe. I still forget things. I sometimes forget to add something to a list or to check my list, even! But generally these tactics keep me organized, on track, low-stress and meeting all my deadlines.

How do you try and remember things? Got any tips or questions? It’s what the comments are for.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!