Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Five ways to shut down being spoken down to | The Small Desk

Ok, rule number one: no-one has the right to talk down to you, they don't deserve your time and they don't deserve to be heard. You need to shut them down, and walk away whilst at the same time retaining your dignity and containing your anger. That way they look stupid, feel stupid and you don't waste any energy and stay positive.

Here are five easy sentences to say to people who are putting you down and that allow you to leave the conversation and stop and make the other person think.

On the phone:
1. "Hang on, I need to call you back. I'll ring you back. Bye." And don't ring them back.

In person:
2. "I just need a moment." Walk out of the room and round the block and go back to what you were doing before – do not put yourself back in the situation.

3. "I don't know the answer, but I'll find out and get back to you." And leave.

4. Zone out, stop listening and answer with "I'll email you further tomorrow". And leave.

Over email:
5. Thank you, [your name]. Keep it simple and do not enter into a discussion.

Basically what I've found is if you hit back with more anger it just gets worse. The most irritating thing for someone who is putting you down or trying to make you feel stupid is you not caring. There are better people in your life to care about. End of.

Also, small disclaimer, these are tips I've found work in an office. I don't have these problems at home!


Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Top 10 ways to switch off from social media | The Small Desk

As with most of the population I often find myself endlessly scrolling through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, lusting and wishing after other people's lives. Every time I put my phone down after doing this I feel a deep sense of regret for spending that time not living my own life. I'm trying to switch off more from social and live more in the moment; I've been testing out a few different hobbies that I thought would be helpful to share with you.

I'm on holiday from work at the moment, having a staycation and I realise how much easier it is to switch off from mindless scrolling and post your own content when you're not working! So, my tips for switching off from social media are not going to be ones that will involve taking a week off going to a silent retreat, but smaller things that can fit around your everyday life, cost you very little money and are very simple.

I'm sure everyone already does one or more of these things its more about reminding you that these are the easiest ways to switch off and live in the moment.

1. Read a book
I've been a little stuck in a rut recently with reading. I think the fast pace nature of video content is somewhat to blame and I'm finding books a bit slow. I need to read something that is quite fast paced to get me back into it. I get really addicted to reading when I read Jon Ronson books – he's one of my all time favourite writers and I would highly recommend The Psychopath Test and So You've Been Publicly Shamed.

2. Go for a walk
This is much easier for me now as I walk part of the way to work and I live in the countryside. But even if it's just your local park or a walk around your local area – it is the perfect way to clear your head.

3. Tidy your house
Now this one may seem a bit crazy but sometimes having a clear out and a tidy up can actually be really therapeutic. It is the movement of cleaning and tidying and working up a sweat that can leave you feeling like you can justify a bit more social media scrolling!

4. Meal plan your week with cook books
Again this may sound like a chore but it gets your creative juices flowing. Push yourself to create at least one new dish you've not made before and it will get you thinking about how you will present it on Instagram...

5. Listen to a podcast
Lately I've been listening to the new podcast from the creators of Serial. It's called S-Town and tells the story of John B. Macklemore who lives in Alabama and restores clocks for a living. The podcast was created all because John B. wrote to the producers asking them to investigate a murder... It is completely addictive and totally absorbing.

6. Be social IRL
Shocker... go out and socialise! Be that with your home friends, work mates, neighbours or family. Real life face-to-face conversation beats any social media interactions!

7. Paint
The other day I went to Paperchase and bought some felt tip pens and a blank notepad. I'm not proud of my drawings and some are just shapes and doodles but I do find it enjoyable. Everyone can draw even if it is just stick men!

8. Write
Even though this sounds so simple it can be a real stumbling block for a lot of people. People will say but what should I write!? The easiest thing I find to write is just my stream of consciousness. I will write in pen in a notepad what I've done that day, how I'm feeling or just random thoughts. It's a good way to express yourself in a space where no-one will judge you as no-one will read it – unlike social media!

9. Listen to music
Even if you don't have a music subscription service or any CDs you can still listen to thousands of songs for free through YouTube. You can spend hours drifting off listening to the lyrics of your favourite songs.

10. Write a letter
Finally, when was the last time you wrote a letter? Write a letter to someone who might be lonely or isn't going through a great time. It will force you to think about your writing and at the same time give back. You could even decorate the envelope with pretty stickers and drawings.

I hope this has been of some help – how do you switch off from social media?


Saturday, 1 April 2017

March favourites 2017 | The Small Desk

March has been a very busy month for me! I hadn't realised quite how busy until I listed it all here. It's been a funny old month: it's brought mixed emotions. I've felt sadness from hearing about the terrorist attack in London on Westminster bridge, because London is my hometown and I care deeply about it and the people in it. I've felt happiness from spending time with friends and family, and I've felt anxious due to my Grandma having a cancer operation. I've also felt a sense of achievement from giving up chocolate for Lent.

I've been on a few walks this month and enjoyed living close to the countryside. This weekend I'm going to stay in my area and take full advantage of the trains not working! Hope everyone has a nice and relaxing weekend and here are my March favourites...

1. Dancer film premiere and live performance
I've been a little bit obsessed with the ballet dancer Sergei Polunin since watching his 'Take me to Church' video on YouTube. I actually found out about the video through Dogwoof films. I love the films they produce and distribute and was browsing their website and came across this new film, Dancer. I watched the trailer and became instantly hooked on this dancer!

I then found out they were selling tickets to the premiere and that there would be a live performance by Polunin. I bought four tickets as soon as they were released and hoped that my sister and my other friends would have deepened their obsession enough to want to attend it! Luckily I managed to get my sister, her friend and my friend to come and it was magical. It was at the London Palladium and they showed the film first and the performance was after, followed by a Q&A. The live performance was the same dance from the 'Take me to Church' video. It was a very surreal experience because I'd watched it online so many times, I couldn't really take it in! It is one of those nights I will never forget, and if you haven't seen the film I strongly advise you to, it is just brilliant.

2. Day off
The day after going to the premiere I had the day off work. My partner unfortunately couldn't take the day off, so I spent it alone. I hadn't had a full day off since Christmas (except weekends) and I felt I really needed it for my mental health. I did some drawing and some reading, and had a bath. I just took a day for myself. I think it's so important to do this: to sort of reset and get some perspective.

3. Went to see the fiance's family
On the first weekend of the month we went to see the fiance's family. They took us to a pancake house and we went to see his sister's new house. It was lovely to spend time with them and to talk about how the wedding plans are going.

4. Dinner with ex-colleague
One evening this month I went for dinner with an ex-colleague. We had Mexican and moaned about work and wedding planning. It was great!

5. Chinese 
I had Chinese takeaway with the fiance twice this month. I'm so obsessed with our local Chinese takeaway. There's nothing like a Friday night in watching the TV with a full table of Chinese takeaway!

6. Makeup trial
I had my wedding makeup trial this month. I've found a really lovely makeup artist who I feel really comfortable with. The trial actually took about 3 hours and we chatted that whole time!

7. Indian with the girls
I went for an Indian meal with my school friends in town. The meal was great and I love love love seeing my friends, but the journey home was hell. The trains failed me completely and it took me 2.5 hours to get home instead of an hour! So that part was not fun.

8. Parents over for dinner
My parents came over for dinner and I cooked salmon en-croute, and my Mum brought a delicious apple crumble. It was lovely to be able to all sit round the table and cook them a full meal as obviously they've done that sooooo many times for me in the past!

9. New pans from my Mum
My Mum got a bit worried about the health effects of scratched non-stick pans and when she came for dinner I showed her scratched mine were and so she bought me a new set of stainless steel pans! And, she even dropped them off at my house! Total legend.

10. Grandma operation
My 87 year old Grandma had keyhole surgery to remove cancer, and she's going home next week! I went to see her in hospital last weekend and she's back to herself, reading poetry and refusing to watch TV.

11. Beauty and the Beast
I went to see Beauty and the Beast with one of my besties and it was amazing. I hadn't expected it to be quite so good but the soundtrack is brilliant and I'm in love with Gaston!

12. New cafe with the fiance
I went to the new cafe in the town I live in with my fiance and had a scrumptious avocado on toast dish. It's so nice to be able to stroll down the street to good food.

13. I, Daniel Blake
I've been meaning to watch this film for a long time, and one Sunday afternoon I decided to rent it from Google Play. It is an incredibly moving film and really makes you think. If you haven't watched it, I highly recommend you do. It's about the benefits system in the UK and how bureaucracy can stop it from doing its job properly.

14. Franco Manca
We went for pizza with a couple of friends – one of whom is an usher at our wedding. We had a good catch up and some tasty bread.

15. Work conferences x2
I've been to two conferences with work recently where I've met new people from my industry and actually found networking slightly easier. They're in my favourites as I think I've made progress on my social skills!

16. Wedding ring
This month I got my wedding band sorted. I went to pick it up with my Mum and we went for a delicious meal at Carluccio's afterwards. It was really nice to spend some one-on-one time.

17. Mother's Day 
This Mother's Day we went for a walk with my Dad in our local area, and then my Mum joined us for dinner at our house, as she had been working. I cooked salmon and sweet potato wedges, followed my lemon cake. This time I managed to do main AND dessert! She's been looking after my Grandma almost every day this month so I felt it was very necessary to treat her.

18. Neighbour's for drinks
After work one evening we went to our neighbours for drinks again. We are very lucky to have such nice neighbours who we can socialise with!

19. Filming with work
I've not made many films with work before but we're making four at the moment and we started the first one yesterday. I'm not doing the filming, merely supervising and looking after the performers, but it is really fun and nice to get out of the office.

20. Staying off chocolate
Finally, I still haven't eaten chocolate! But, it's not easy and I say, bring on Easter and ALL the chocolate!

How has your March been? Looking forward to April and all the light evenings?


Sunday, 19 March 2017

Keeping it simple: my everyday wear | The Small Desk

I've been wanting to do a post like this for a while, but I have struggled to find the time. But now, I'm sitting here on a Sunday morning with nothing to do, it felt like the perfect time.

In the past few years I've been saving a lot of my money and trying not to buy any clothes, however this isn't always the best idea as clothing can have an enormous impact on how you feel day-to-day. I think it's important to revisit your style and your wardrobe once a year and see how you can make it easier for yourself to know what to shop for with your everyday wear, and to evaluate what's missing from your wardrobe.

For years my style has been about trying lots of different things and especially when I was a teenager I experimented a lot with what worked for me. Anyone remember Punkyfish!? Ahhh dear! But now I'm almost 30 I feel I know what I like wearing the most and what I feel most comfortable and confident in and that is the good old simple T-shirt, jumper and jeans combo. As long as all three are fairly up-to-date and new I think it can look professional for work and stylish for socialising. I'm also thanking my lucky stars that trainers have made a comeback in a big way!

Makeup-wise I've tried and tested a fair few foundations over the years and the Revlon colour match foundation wins by far for me. Although I did have a wedding make-up trial recently and she used Giorgio Armani and if it wasn't so expensive I would definitely buy that! Anyway, without further ado here is how I keep it simple...


Hair: dye it every 6 months – usually a balayage

Skin: Liz Earle superskin moisturiser, unfragranced – it smells weird the first time you use it (a bit like fish), but you get used to it and I can't smell it anymore. No-one else could ever smell it. I've used lots of different moisturisers in my time and this is by far the best and worth the money.

-Revlon colour match foundation
-Collection 2000 lasting perfection concealer
-Bobbi Brown shimmer brick
-Body Shop bronzer
-Maybelline lash sensational mascara

Top half
I usually keep it very simple and just wear a t-shirt and jumper, but if I'm going to an event I might wear a shirt. I've listed a few recent purchases...

This is where I'll go for a bit more detail.
Monki Floral Sweatshirt
Cos dot stitch high-neck jumper

Always stripped or plain.
ASOS stripe crew neck 
ASOS linen mix fabric

Topshop vine floral embroidered chambray shirt

Bottom half

Topshop Leigh jeans – two black pairs, one blue pair. Although I really need to invest in some new ones as these are very old now and started to look baggy...

Occasion dresses and skirts (accepted normally only wear once)
Places I would buy these from:
-Anthropologie (if in sale)


Black socks – because then you never have to pair socks ever again!


Black 60 denier tights for dresses and skirts.

New Balance trainers
These are the first trainers in a long time to not give me any blisters and I think they may have actually made me feet softer!

For occasions I often buy myself a new pair of heels from ASOS or wear my Whistles boots that I got in the sale and keep getting reheeled.

So that's it! What tips do you have for keeping it simple with everyday wear?

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