Posts in To share
{To share} A space to call my own

For a while now, I have been feeling dissatisfied with my website and blog. Neither had done anything seriously wrong. In fact... they had both been good to me for a few years now. But I couldn't shake the feeling that things just weren't right.

I looked at ways to change them, to fit with the ascetic and tone that I had grown into. I subconsciously began to ignore them, hoping the feelings would pass. Moving from Cape Town to Edinburgh, then to London with all the joys, trials and travels in between only added to those feelings. Finally, I realised that despite the good times, they just didn't fit anymore. It wasn't all bad. I had found a love for photography, I was drawn to a more minimal style and in embracing these changes I found my voice again. *Ahem. Not in a cheesy Little Mermaid kind of way.*

This brings me to the present where, after a few months of tinkering and editing, I have combined everything into a sparkling new site to call my own. It is a work in progress, but aren't we all. Thank you to endless support from the ever patient, amazing boyfriend, family and a handful of wonderful friends. Huge amounts of gratitude and love to you all.

Have a look at designerisms.net and drop me a line if you have any feedback on the contact page. Thanks for stopping by and see you again soon!

{To share} 12 surefire ways to save money

Before I started saving to travel to New York last year, I was rather useless with money. "Where did my salary GO?" I would ask in dismay, staring at my empty bank account with hundreds of transactions littering the page, resulting in a lonely little zero. Really Burr? Those second flat white coffees you really didn't need, those shoes that were on sale and didn’t-really-go-with-much-but-who-was-judging-because-hello-they-were-on-sale? Erm. Yes, OK present self, you see it now. Wake up call.

I know how hard it can be. The media convinces us that we need more *stuff* to feel good. So we mindlessly spend spend spend. The more we make? The more we spend. We make life difficult for ourselves, justifying silly purchases which don’t make us happy in the long run. I have realised that mindfulness is a huge part of saving money. It’s not one of those things that will just ‘change if you leave things alone’. Well, if you leave your wallet at home, maybe. I digress.

Here are 12 ways that helped me break out of habits and learn to save. I’m not going to sugarcoat it. This is not how to save casually for funsies… this is how I actually made enough to go to New York and later how I managed to save enough to move countries.

1. Find a goal to save for. This is important. A trip is a good one, or how about something grown up, like a car or enough to quit your hateful job and start your own business? Whatever it is, sit down and work out how much you want to, or need to save to get there. Be realistic.

2. Learn to say no. This is so simple, yet so important. Practice it out loud…. deep breath, and go! This little word will help with many of these tips.

3. Work out your expenses. I know these don’t sound like fun tasks and you are all waiting for the tip that involves eating copious amounts of ice cream as a magic solution, but it’s not quite that easy. This is important because it will help you see where you have been spending money unnecessarily. What’s coming into your account, or mattress *no judgement* and what is going out? Break it into the big things: rent, electricity, food etc. Be honest. Don’t hold back.

4. Decide how much you ‘need’ for entertainment. We will come back to this, but for now, look at the amount that’s left over after you have worked out expenses and entertainment (so eating out, movies, going out) and put that into a savings account.

So for example:

Salary: £1500 EXPENSES Rent & Electricity: £350 Food: £200 Gym & Medical Aid: £120 Transport: £70 Entertainment: £100 TOTAL: £840

£1500 - £840 = £660 (Goes into savings immediately. Do it.)

It sounds pretty hardcore but I learnt very quickly how little I really needed to get by on after my expenses. Once I worked out that I could put a quarter of my salary into a savings account and still live, I became so much more aware of how much I was spending on silly things.

5. NO ‘EXTRAS'. Seriously. This may be hard at first but it is one of the most important factors in this process. If you can’t walk around the shops with your friend without feeling tortured or giving in and buying something, then don’t go. It’s that simple. Avoid the temptation until you are out of the spending habit. When you go out, I’m sorry to tell you this but you will have to stop regularly having a few drinks, or eating snacks at a bar 'just for fun'. It wasn’t always easy for me but most people were understanding when I told them that I was saving, and the ones that aren’t? Really people. Come now. How did I do it? I ordered water… a lot. It will get easier.

 
 

You will become aware of how many coffees/drinks that you find yourself having “just because” and how much it’s actually costing you.

6. Don’t LIE to yourself. “But it’s just one coffee. What difference does it make?"

Coffee = £2.50. 1 month of coffee purchases = 4 coffees a week = £40 a month! x 12 months = £480 towards your goal.

7. Ask, “Do I NEED this?” A simple question and unless the thing you are questioning is a loaf of bread, the answer is usually always “No.” When I left South Africa, I got rid of 70% of my wardrobe. I donated most of it to charity, but also had a big sale with friends. Seeing all the items I had wasted so much time and money over as a burden (picture them taking up room in that one suitcase that you will then lug around London for 3 weeks) made me realise how each purchase has been mindless. Sale!? Done. Different colour to the one I have at home?! Done. Result? Broke and a room full of clothes I didn’t really wear, or even want anymore, and certainly didn’t need. Why not have a go at The Everygirl’s latest 30 Day challenge  to get started?

 

On that note…

8.  Cut the fat. Remove any expenses that aren’t necessary. Quit the gym for a few months and take up yoga at home, running or working out with a friend instead. Small sacrifices. Big reward.

 
 

This can also mean selling that old camera that you never, ever use. Let’s get down to basics. Make sure that your bank account or insurance isn’t costing you more than it should. Check that your air con or heating isn’t set to come on automatically each day. Again, this is all about being mindful and aware. Wherever possible, walk to places to avoid parking fees or public transport costs. Do you need 50 channels on TV? Is Netflix a cheaper option?

Whenever you have moments of frustration, picture yourself driving your new car, or sipping a cappuccino in a quaint cafe in Italy *insert dream goal here*.

9. “Honey, let’s stay home.” When friends want to meet up, just for this 3 months or so, rather socialise at your place or theirs. Instant money saver! Tea at a friend’s versus a pot of tea with cake, parking money and tip at a café? Simple maths right there. This may seem hard if you are in the habit of eating out a lot, but please note the word ‘habit’. Once you are used to thinking differently it will be easier. You need to be mindful and start to appreciate the simpler things. Re-arrange your room, read those books that you have sitting by your bed gathering dust, hang out with friends on the balcony that you love but never actually use. When people come for dinner, each person can bring a plate of food. Life doesn’t have to be expensive.

10. Be creative. No i don’t mean sell your hanger sculptures online, but hey, why not?

 
 

What I actually mean is, be creative about finding things to do that don’t require money. Public garden nearby? Use it. Neighbours dogs need walking? Bonus. See, it’s like an old school video game. If only a ding ding sound and flying pixels actually happened each time we saved money.

11. Make lunch to take into work. Requires fore planning, I know. But think how much time you will have now that you don’t go out as much ;) Here are some recipe ideas to get you started. While we are talking food, shopping in bulk is a great way to save. If you can, get to a farmer’s market or order a veg box. You will also be supporting the guys who grow the veg as opposed to the supermarkets who rip them off. Also, no ready meals or take aways. Yep. You heard me.

12. Make something visual to track your progress. A simple idea would be to buy a glass jar, and put a jelly bean inside for every £50 you save. Seeing the jar fill will remind you how well you’re doing. It isn’t science, but it helps.

Be firm for a few months and the end result, as well your renewed mindfulness, will be a great reward. What are your tried and tested ways to save? Some say this method helps too.

Keep reminding yourself why you are doing this. Believe me, it’s so worth it! Less meaningless stuff, more satisfaction. And.... GO!

{To Share} Dealing With Procrastination
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Today I would like to introduce you to a new series I’m doing called "The Pursuit of Purpose and Productivity”. Having freelanced on and off for 5 years now, I have been faced with many a challenge from a business perspective, but also as an individual. We all have those demons, the little habits that form over time that seem so harmless as a kid. For me, a biggie was procrastination. Something we all laugh about: “Hello? Yes hi Jess. Yep, I’m still re-organising my dvd collection. Today it’s in order of genre. Oh you have painted your nails three different colours today? Hardy ha ha! We are silly aren’t we?” Oftentimes it isn’t even as “productive" as that… Some days it’s watching mindless TV or making a cup of tea to fuel the strenuous task of staring at the wall.

Why do we procrastinate? For me, a huge factor is  fear, and the perfectionist in me. I fear failure, and I want to do things to the best of my ability. If the fear of failure grips me, I find myself putting off a task until I think I can put my all into it. But the danger there is that there is never a perfect time. Haven’t we all used the excuse, “But I work so much better under pressure!” Do we? DO WE? Or are we lying to ourselves to justify all the wasted time… There is something to be said for enforced time limits to mimic the push that last minute pressure gives us, but that’s a post for another day.

So what is the result of all this procrastination? I often end up “punishing” myself for procrastinating by forcing myself to stare at my computer screen, waiting for inspiration to strike, or simply staying at home instead of going for a walk on the beach, going for coffee or reading my book on a bench in a nearby park. One day I was staring blankly at my computer screen, with the sun shining outside and I was invited to go for a run, which I refused because I was reaching that last minute stage of the deadline and realised that what I was doing was completely ridiculous. That was the wake up call for me. I realised that procrastination is a thief of time (thank you Dickens). I was wasting time that I could be:

a) Following my dream and being a productive, awesome, creative force of brillianceb) Exploring, taking in the beauty around me and getting inspiredc) Relaxing, savouring something I love like a book or coffeed) Completing admin tasks that were weighing on my mind or exercising

Watching endless hours of re-runs I had seen before, or refolding my clothes, or scanning numbly through social media were not things that I wanted to write down in my journal to remember. Yes, you are probably thinking that not every moment can be noteworthy, but wouldn’t you rather TRY to make those moments purposeful, or have room for spontaneity feeling satisfied that everything you wanted to accomplish is done for the day/week?

It can take time to be free of the hold procrastination seems to have on you. I want to you to stop beating yourself up and instead get busy working towards the freedom from this vicious cycle, and the joy of guilt free spontaneity. Here is a recipe of sorts that I find helps. It can be repeated to distract from it and get you into better habits.

  1.  Firstly, look at your to-do list and pick a task that you know can be accomplished in an hour or so.
  2. Then, do something constructive. It doesn’t have to be connected to that task. It’s about relieving the pressure we associate with work. Even if it’s as tiny as replying an important email or clearing out the trash on your desktop. That, combined with a walk around the block, should clear your head and make you feel the slightest bit more resourceful.
  3. Now this is key. When you get back, DO NOT allow yourself to sit down and get on your phone. Ride the wave of resourcefulness. That little bit of energy and motivation you feel? Hang on tight. Go quickly onto something else. Depending on your goal… Get going with that first task. In my case I could start writing an article or wrap up a design I have been toying with for days.
  4. After 40 minutes, take a break. Not an hour long lounge on the couch watching cheesy TV. I mean a 5 minute break. Do some yoga (I used to laugh when people said this but I don’t mean a full session, just ease into downward dog for a few deep breaths), make some tea and look out the window. The important thing is to relax without easing back into bad habits like playing mindlessly on one’s phone or checking for grey hairs.
  5. Sit back down and wrap up that first task. Just do it. If you feel yourself drifting, remind yourself that this is just 40 minutes and you ONLY need to do this, and nothing else. Keep the thought of relaxing afterwards with no guilt in mind.
  6. Rinse and repeat. But yes, do it all over again if you can, or start slow and build up the process over a few days. Once we become aware of the awesomeness that we are missing out on, it's harder to drift back into wasteful, negative behaviour.

Note the word mindless that I have scattered through this article. Being mindful is SO important. In fact, being mindful isn’t part of procrastination. We blatantly chose lying on the couch knowing full well that it’s not a good idea and convince ourselves that we are tired or that it won’t be for long. Stop lying to yourself. Be proactively aware of what you are doing, and what you are accomplishing.

I hope that this helps. I know from experience how days of procrastination can sap ones' self-worth, so know that you are not alone, but do not accept it as something that is part of your character.

Do you struggle with procrastination? How do you get motivated to push through?

In my next segment of  “The Pursuit of Purpose and Productivity”, I will be looking at productivity and motivation further and how to continue recreating new, positive habits. Over and out fellow humans.

{To honour} Nelson Mandela
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Today we honour this wonderful man. Nelson Mandela has shown the world that kindness, grace and forgiveness are stronger than greed or evil. He leaves us with hope and inspires us to follow in his path, to love... to do everything with passion; to be patient, but also to strive for what you know to be right; to embrace the good and never give up.

“No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

May we all go forward in love, to live lives of significance and courage, and allow his qualities to live on. Thank you Madiba.

{Inspired} Thank-you belly, for allowing me to meet Jessica Hische

Yep. Yes you read that correctly.I had an incredible week of inspiration, attending the Design Indaba Young Designer's Simulcast,where they stream the live speakers in the main auditorium and it is 3 days of pure awesomeness. I left each day feeling completely exhausted but buzzed with all the amazing presentations. Truly fascinating people spoke, and I am so grateful to have had this opportunity. To be honest, it was much needed as I have been feeling rather creatively flat of late.

Anywho, I digress. My absolute type-design-hero, Jessica Hische spoke with fellow epic designer, Marian Bantjes on day 3. Having planned to rush upstairs in a nerdy attempt to meet her, I lost my nerve and carried on with the day, eating lunch, wandering around the always wonderful Design Indaba Expo and listening to other speakers. Come 4pm, I went on a hunt for food. Like a starved panda searching for bamboo I rushed into the expo with only 15 minutes until the next speaker. The juice bar was closed for no apparent reason so I headed for where I thought the Woolies food stand was.. When I passed a girl with an American accent, I didn't think twice about it... until I looked down and saw them... the cat tights! When she had started her talk, she had joked that she was "basically wearing the internet". In a true design nerd moment I scrambled around in my DI free issue backpack, and pulled out my Moleskine and a marker. Walking up to the two ladies, I sheepishly asked JH to sign my book. Instead, she did this:

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So. Awesome? And a kitty!? A girl after my own heart. I cannot fully express how incredible this moment was for me. She was so friendly and easy to chat to. I went from fan to Superfan in a day :) Hence the thanks to my dear, predictably grumbly belly. It's not every day that your favourite designer comes all the way to Cape Town. *Happy Stace*

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I'm going to end with some of her gorgeous work. She spoke about obsession being crucial for success. Her amazing work didn't come from no-where... this chick has put in the time and effort. Inspiring indeed.

All images from her site: jessicahische.is/awesome