Monday Inspiration #005 – Where GOOD Ideas Come From

I don’t think I’m alone in my fascination about the daily routines of creatives. Which is why I love this video by Steven Johnson on where good ideas come from.

Everybody who does creative work has figured out how to deal with their own demons to get their work done. There is no evidence that setting up your easel like Van Gogh makes you paint better. Tactics are idiosyncratic. But strategies are universal, and there are a lot of talented folks who are not succeeding the way they want to because their strategies are broken.

The strategy is simple, I think. The strategy is to have a practice, and what it means to have a practice is to regularly and reliably do the work in a habitual way.

There are many ways you can signify to yourself that you are doing your practice. For example, some people wear a white lab coat or a particular pair of glasses, or always work in a specific place — in doing these things, they are professionalizing their art. – Seth Godin

Monday Inspiration #004 – Habits of Successful People

In 1989, Stephen R. Covey wrote The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it marked the start of a new genre of self help books – it was self help for the business mind.

So whilst you’re getting ready for a new week here’s the meat from the book…

Habit 1: Be Proactive
Habit 2: Begin with the End in Mind
Habit 3: Put First Things First
Habit 4: Think Win/Win
Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood
Habit 6: Synergize
Habit 7: Sharpen the Saw

This is another fabulous quote – and it’s a tweetable!

Habit is the intersection of knowledge (what to do), skill (how to do), and desire (want to do). {Click To Tweet}

image via Stuff No One Told Me

Freelancer’s Guide To Going On Holiday…

When you’re freelance or self employed it can be difficult to tear yourself away from work, but as I’ve mentioned before in this post, you need a break.  Without a good break your brain will turn to mush and your clients won’t be getting the best version of you – and who wants that? But I know (more than anyone) what a hassle it can be arranging a trip when you work for yourself.

Here’s a quick list of things you need to do before jetting off to make sure that you don’t come back to a whole heap of stress…

Sardinia 2011

Before you go…

Make sure your clients know you’re away. If your client knows you’re on holiday then they are less likely to try and contact you. Just send a quick email to anyone expecting work or an update a few weeks before you go.

Send any invoices in advance: Unfortunately whilst it feels as though the real world isn’t still functioning whilst you’re away, it is and you’re still going to have bills to pay upon your return. So send your invoices early or schedule them to go out automatically. The same goes for any bills that may need paying.

Plan your workload: Work doesn’t just stop (hopefully) so the weeks leading to your holiday may very well be a more hectic than usual. Plan and prioritise your workload so that you stay on top of your game.

Set that auto-responder: Seth Godin declares email bankruptcy (the act of deleting all those e-mails that piled up while you were having fun, so they don’t ruin the vacation glow) before he goes on holiday. He sets his auto responder to simply say: “I’m on vacation until x/x/2013. When I get back, I’m going to delete all the email that arrived while I was gone, so if this note is important, please send it to me again after that date.” A bit of a harsh move but if you get a lot of nonsense emails then you may find that this helps save you a lot of time.

If you take calls, forward them to voicemail (I usually ask them to just send an email as I’ll pick that up when I’m back – I’m not quite at the email bankruptcy stage).

Whilst your away…

Switch your data and wi-fi OFF. If you’ve got a smartphone or iPad then you’re going to be so tempted to just “quickly check” your email. Trust me when I say that you won’t just quickly check it you’ll see something that will drag you in and you’re supposed to be relaxing. If you want to continue to post of social media then delete the email accounts from your phone. You can put them back when you return.

Take a notebook: If you’re anything like me then holidays are where you get your best ideas. Taking a notebook will help you get those ideas down and it’s very therapeutic.

RELAX:  Remember you’re going away to relax and recharge. The moment you slam that front door is the time to switch off from work mode.

Monday Inspiration #003: It’s OK to quit

on their perches...

“Yo-Yo Ma’s first instrument wasn’t cello. He actually started with violin—and he wasn’t good at it. So he quit violin and picked up cello instead. Maybe you’re like Yo-Yo Ma, and you just haven’t found your cello yet.” – Karen X Cheng. Continue reading “Monday Inspiration #003: It’s OK to quit”

10 Ways To Boost Creativity

Creativity is not a talent. It is a way of operating. – John Cleese

How to Enhance Creativity

I’ve spoken before about my habit of procrastinating,  I’m kind of embracing it these days. Usually the main cause of my whiling hours away, doing nothing, is feeling as though my creative juices are empty. There has to be nothing worse than staring at a blank page when you know it should be brimming with words. Nothing worse and nothing more hampering either.

Since it’s midweek and that’s usually when the slump sets in (or at least it does for me), I thought that I’d  share a few methods that I use to boost creativity whilst I’m working…

How to Become More Creative

1.Take the afternoon off and go watch a film. A solo trip to the cinema always helps. I don’t know whether it’s the 2 hours living in someone else’s world or just time where my phone is off and I don’t have to think. But it does work.

2. Pick up a pen and write by hand. Notebooks and handwritten notes are a vital part of my routine.

3. Go outside. Walk, run, sit, whatever, just the feel of the sun on your skin, the rain on your face and the fresh air in your lungs can work wonders.

4. Have a glass of wine (or whatever your drink of choice).  An ice cold glass of chablis is the perfect creativity booster for me. There’s a limit though, one glass = great work, two glasses = sloppy and incoherent (no matter how great I think it is at the time). As Ernest Hemingway says “Write drunk, edit sober“- although not recommended for 9am on Monday morning!

5. Turn EVERYTHING around you off. No radio, telly, music. I’m not one for silence but sometimes an hour or two of perfect silence gets shit done.

6. Take a nap. Sometimes you just need to shut down.

7. Screw work, take some time to read your favorite blogs/magazines. 30 minutes of reading work by people who inspire you, WILL help get you pumped.  Here are some of my favorites: Sarah Wilson // Inspaces Between // Thug Kitchen // Danielle LaPorte // Deborah Lee // Marie Forleo // Gala Darling // Emma Cossey // Brain Pickings // British Beauty Blogger // The Middle Finger Project {my list of must reads is much longer but we’d be here ALL day – which would be kind of ironic}

8. Work elsewhere. Coffee shop, co-working space, a friends house – a change of scenery is good.

9. Get to work on your confidence. Nothing will stop creativity in it’s tracks quicker than low self esteem. Check out Alex’s Confidence Vitamins.

10. Get a cat…I love this piece from Muriel Spark. If you’ve got a cat,you’ll understand.

If you want to concentrate deeply on some problem, and especially some piece of writing or paper-work, you should acquire a cat. Alone with the cat in the room where you work … the cat will invariably get up on your desk and settle placidly under the desk lamp. The light from a desk lamp … gives a cat great satisfaction. The cat will settle down and be serene, with a serenity that passes all understanding. And the tranquility of the cat will gradually come to affect you, sitting there at your desk, so that all the excitable qualities that impede your concentration compose themselves and give your mind back the self-command it has lost. You need not watch the cat all the time. Its presence alone is enough. The effect of a cat on your concentration is remarkable, very mysterious.

Now I want your tips…What are your sure fire ways to improve creativity?

  • Bonus tip…Do something different. Join a theatre group or a writing club. Something that you can get out and mingle with like minded creatives. I love the blog post by the American Musical Theatre Academy – 5 insights into the Life of a Theatre Actor which discusses creativity and how the theatre embraces it.

20 Ways To Do Business With Charm and Manners

The perfect writing set up
Working from home, actually, working for yourself, means that sometimes you lose perspective of how people work. You go inside yourself and you find your own way of working and expect people to follow suit.

It’s hard.

Part of my ethos is to “hustle with heart” which is all about finding ways to do business and carve out a good career without being, well, to put it bluntly…an arsehole.

Just think about shows like The Apprentice, I love these shows but absolutely hate how they portray women in business. Business doesn’t have to be all high paced and a struggle with who can shout the loudest. There’s a place to do business, which combines refinement and good manners – ergo, my version of hustling with heart.

Here are 20 ways which you can do business with charm…

1. Wait before replying to any negative emails or online comments. Take your time, cool down, even sleep on it but wait until your head is clear before shooting off a response.

2. Be honest with people.

3. Be the kind of person you’d want to work for.

4. Show gratitude for projects and to those you work with.

5. Quit being jealous, this will only harm your own ambitions.

6. Aim to be part of a solution, not the problem.

7. Under promise and over deliver – always.

8. Encourage and support others.

9. Know your shit. Keep up-to-date with what’s going on in your own industry.

10. Work out your own business ethics and let them guide any decisions and choices you make.

11. Step out from behind the computer once in a while; make that call, attend that meeting.

12. Never take calls, reply to emails or send texts when you’re in a business meeting (actually, this could expand to when you’re out for lunch or meeting a friend too – in a nutshell, it’s rude).

13. Try to help others whenever you can.

14. When emailing or texting, remember the recipient is human and consider your ‘tone’.

15. Sometimes you have to tell people things they don’t want to hear, do so kindly and constructively.

16. Accept compliments and celebrate your achievements with grace and modesty.

17. Remember your performance is a reflection on you, is it your best work?

19. Be kind, be inclusive and always remain engaged.

20. Never take yourself too seriously.

Things you need to stop saying in press releases

This month I resolved to stay on top of my inbox. This meant reading and filing (as opposed to my tried and tested method of ignoring and deleting) emails as they come in.

This has meant, over the past month I’ve read a LOT of press releases and there are some phrases that need to be stopped – asap.


This isn’t a PR bashing exercise, that’s not how I roll, after all I used to work in PR myself but rather a little advice guide for anyone thinking of writing a press release to promote their business.

Stop The Press (or any variation) – I’m sorry, this is probably the most annoying phrase you could EVER start communication with. You’re not in Press Gang, your fashion line/travel company/online boutique really isn’t important enough that ANY editor is going to stop presses for you. Therefore that phrase is totally redundant. If I see this in the title it gets immediate trash bin treatment.

BlahBlah-preneur – ENOUGH with the “preneur”. I can cope with Entrepreneur (although aren’t we all? So really, its not gripping) but adding “preneur” to the end of everything just grates. Mummypreneur or Mompreneur is the absolute worst – you are a freaking female in business and you are NOT defined by your childbearing skills so just own it!

Embargo: If I see the word embargo then I assume it isn’t urgent so I just ignore it, but 9 times out of 10 I don’t ever go back to it and it ends up in the bin!

Going forward: This is a phrase that should be banned full stop, not just in press releases. It’s one of those pointless statements like “at the end of the day”.

And finally, it’s not a word but it’s something that you need to keep in mind…

Last minute events – Don’t expect us to drop everything and rush to your event – no matter how good it is. We have deadlines and lives, we need a decent amount of advance notice for any event we attend. Especially, if you’re expecting us to travel.

Seriously, it’s tough to promote your business and getting it in front of journalists, writers and bloggers etc is even tougher. If you want attention be straight to the point and quit using buzzwords because buzzwords = bullshit.

What words do you hate to see pop up in your inbox?

How to work better…A manifesto

How to work better…


  1. Do one thing
  2. Know the problem
  3. Learn to listen
  4. Learn to ask question
  5. Distinguish sense from nonsense
  6. Accept change as inevitable
  7. Admit mistakes
  8. Say it simple
  9. Be calm
  10. Smile


Ryan Gander praises Peter Fischli and David Weiss’s ten-point manifesto 

10 point manifesto by Peter Fischli & David Weiss 

Should I check my email?

Hola from a warm and gorgeous Madrid…I was planning on doing a few travel related posts before I left but in typical Rachael style I didn´t quite have the time. Anyhoo, I´m just checking out the cyber-suite in the ultra modern Axor Feria (review will be up when I´m back) so thought I´d pop on, check my email and write a small post…

I usually like to shut down when I go away but with the lure of free wi-fi and lots of exciting projects on the boil I buckled. Which then reminded me that I wanted to share this great infographic by Dell…

Should I check my email?




Right, that´s enough from me, I have wine to drink and tapas to sample. Next stop – Palma!