Self-Care & Organisation Tips to Support Your Busy London Life
Life in London can sometimes get on top of us with everything that’s going on. As we try to manage opportunities popping up, balance our fast-paced careers alongside social occasions, travel across the city jumping between lines and that commute time we all give up, prioritising self care can sometimes feels impossible. So, I’ve put together some quick and easy suggestions to get yourself back on track if self-care has slipped to the bottom of your to-do list. These won’t take too much time to implement but they definitely have big benefits.
Plan out your week (30 mins max)
Every sunday I sit down with a plain old notebook and plan out my entire week and literally each hour of my day. I started doing this about a year ago and I match it to my yearly/monthly goals to make sure I’m getting the most out of my time. The weekly planner helps me to fight some of the Sunday blues (and new week anxiety!) as I know exactly what to expect from the week ahead. I plan out exactly how I’m going to manage my time which brings me a lot of peace and an organised approach to life. By doing this, I can include the activities that I know are going to be good for me and help me feel in control of my life such as: when I’m going to exercise, what I’m going to eat, how I’m going to manage my spending, my planned social activities and my rest time.
I know it feels like the whole of instagram is trying to sell you a life-changing notebook but save your pennies and use what you have at home to get started. It could even be a scrap of paper or a note on your phone. Start out with an overview of your week: what time are you getting up, how long do you need to get ready, your journey time to work, your work day and then your evening activities and routine. This is how my schedule roughly lands Tuesday-Friday, however, when I was freelance or if you are freelance now you might have a lot more flexibility in that. I then go through each hour planning the day out, one of my days looks like this:
6.00-6.30am – wake up and get ready for work. Remember packed breakfast/lunch and water bottle in fridge.
6.30-7.15am – walk to the office and listen to a podcast.
7.15-4.00pm – work day (meeting at 1pm)
4.00-4.30pm – walk to gym
4.30-5.30pm – body combat class
5.30-6.30pm – shower at gym and walk home
7.00pm – Daniel coming over
7.00-8.00pm – cook and eat dinner together
8.00-8.30pm – Prepare for next day – make breakfast/lunch, put out clothes, pack bag.
8.30-10.00pm – Bedtime activities: skin care routine, 10 minute YouTube yoga video, write out expenses, write out gratitude/reflect on the day, read book or what an episode on netflix.
10.00pm – Bedtime
I know for some this might sound like the DULLEST activity to do, but honestly it’s revolutionised my weeks! Before I started doing this, I was scraping into the office with no breakfast, spending a tenner on lunch, skipping the gym to nap at home, watching Netflix all evening, staying up too late, not preparing for the next day or knowing what’s coming, waking up stressed and rushed with nothing prepared and spending a fortune on public transport whilst getting none of daily my steps in. This was not the best way to look after myself, maintain my relationships, reach my goals and make time for self-care. Even if you’re feeling skeptical, give a go and see the difference it makes!
Get your food organised (1 hour)
It is so easy to fall into the routine of grab & go in London, when I don’t get my food organised, I am a catastrophe for spending all my £££ and eating WAY TOO many treats. With a Pret A Manger on literally every street corner these days, I can easy pop in on my way to work for a Chai Latte (£3.15 and 218kcal), breakfast egg & smoked salmon half baguette (£3.15 and 358kcal) AND almond croissant for my breakfast dessert naturally (£2.15 and 374kcal). So I’ve not even made it into the workplace to make any dollar and I’ve already spent £8.45 on 950(!) calories!!! Then we get to lunch, maybe I’ll pop down to Itsu my closest takeaway/restaurant and get the chicken noodle bowl which sets me back another £7.95 and 517kcal, add a ginger and lemon kombucha for £3.25 and 27kcal and some chicken gyoza to snack on in the afternoon (£6.75 and 251kcal) and that’s another £17.95 and 795 calories. So by the time the work day has ended, before I head out for any social activities I might have planned that evening, I’ve spent £26.40 tucking into 1,745 calories. I know there’s better choices that could be made and cheaper ones, but, without prior planning, I so easily fall into ‘grab and go’ – getting what I fancy without checking anything and this was burning a big hole in my pocket whilst my coat got tighter!
I felt out of control so nailing my weekly food was a huge act of self care for me so here’s what I do. Now it’s again not revolutionary or thrilling advice but it works, I write a meal plan ahead of the weekly shop where I plan my breakfasts, lunches, dinners and snacks for the week. Once I’ve got my plan written out, I can write out a shopping list getting exactly what I need (not supermarket sweeping what I see). When I get back from the shop, I try to prepare a few things in advance to take some pressure off. For example, throwing chicken and loads of veggies into one dish, herbs and spices, bit of olive oil and into the oven and that’s a couple of lunches sorted. Or it could be cracking on with a veggie lasagne that can be eaten that evening but also makes lots of portions to be frozen or used as a lunch the next day. You might also try chilli con carne which freezes like a dream and you can replace mince with blended mushroom (trust me!) or quorn, soups for the winter, salads, stir fries of noodles or rice and veggies which is super quick and replaces my itsu fix. For breakfasts, I do overnight oats, porridge, omelettes (pre-cook, cut into finger pieces, wrap in tin foil and done), boiled eggs and cold veggies, cereal with milk in a flask. It’s all possible, the key is lots of variety and tasty meals and you can’t go wrong. To make your money stretch even further, you can also make connections between your meals to reuse the same ingredients such as planning a spaghetti bolognese, tomato pasta and chilli con carne in the same week. I also buy lots of veggies to bulk all my meals out. You can even simplify this by just making extra portions of whatever dinner you’re cooking and wham, bam, thank you mam you’ve got yourself tomorrow’s lunch sorted.
It’s these small steps that help me feel in control, looking after my body, fuelling it with healthy food giving me lots of energy and not making me feel lethargic and then wildly anxious about my monthly finances. Another easy step to take care of yourself, save time and get in control of your life. Give it a go!
Get your space organised (1-2 hours per week)
Maybe seems a bit random but I swear organising your space and your time to do this is a massive act of self-care when you feel the benefits. My first little tip is about your time and weekly plan (yes I know were harping back to the weekly plan but honestly it’s where everything starts!), I really recommend planning a time in your week when you are going to clean your space, get your washing done and household chores. I normally do this on a Thursday evening so it’s really nice when I come home on a Friday and for the weekend. But this can change week on week depending what is going on and your plans. It also helps to make a list of what you need to do so you can decide whether to blast it all out in one evening or spread it across the week into bite size chunks. It might be worth assessing your relationship to housework and how it makes you feel, will getting something small done each day which adds up be best for you? Or will tackling it all in one go be a better approach? One recommendation which honestly gives me end of week 10/10 vibes, is making sure my bedroom is tidy and I always change the bed sheets on Friday morning so they’re fresh and lovely. Then I treat myself to a proper luxury bath that evening (candles, face mask, hair mask, bubble bath – the full shabang) and fresh PJs. Now, if that’s not the definition of self-care then I don’t know what is! Another winner for getting your space organised is challenging yourself to put 1-2 things per week on eBay, vinted, depop, facebook marketplace etc. It’s a small act that takes maximum 15 minutes for an item but it puts some extra pounds in your pocket and frees up your space helping you to get organised.
Speak up for what you need in life to prioritise you!
The biggest act of self-care that I can suggest is speaking up and negotiating what you need to prioritise yourself and live your best life in London. We are not here just to serve our employers or employment status, consider what might be best for you to help you plan and prioritise your life around your working commitments. If you have an employer, perhaps that’s discussing working flexible or condensed hours, working certain days from home, asking for that pay rise or for other team members to be employed because you’ve reached capacity. When I started my current job, I was doing Monday-Friday 9-5pm (plus often an hour or two extra) and felt like I had no time for life admin and my goals. I negotiated doing condensed hours 8.45-5.30pm and having Mondays off whilst I still work full-time hours and get a full salary. A few months later, I wanted to start getting up and leaving work earlier so I re-negotiated working 7.15-4pm. Now, this isn’t for everyone and you might be negotiating something completely different, but speaking up about what I need really helped me maximise my days and feel happier. I also asked to work Fridays from home so I only do 3 office days per week. What could you ask or speak up for that would maximise your time and make you happier?
This also applies to social occasions, relationships and friendships, routine etc, I can only encourage you to really speak up if you don’t want to go to that party, if a friendship is not serving you, if there are parts of your relationship draining you, if your routine is not serving you. Speak it out loud and ask for what you need instead.
Remember your go to places when life feels overwhelming
Finally, we can do all this perfect planning and still life can throw up obstacles, unexpected moments and challenges that lead to overwhelm and burn out. When those moments hit, remember the days out, activities and places that help you to recoup your energy and give you peace. That might mean getting out of London – it certainly does for me! My go to is to get out of the city and down to the sea. It doesn’t matter what season it is, being by water and in the seaside air and environment really replenishes my energy. Consider where you need to be when it becomes too much and have this in the back of your mind for when you start to feel overwhelm building. It might just be spending more time at home and there’s some great tips for looking after your mental health here. As much as managing our lives with all of these strategies is important and great, resting, breathing, pausing is also serving and taking care of yourself.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these suggestions and some of the methods I use to take care of myself and feel organised. It’s not easy to maintain all of this and we can’t do it 100% of the time. No matter where you are in your journey towards being organised taking on even one of these is a step in the right direction! Sending you loads of love and energy London pals!