How to find structure in an uncertain world

This last month has seen many of us swapping our loungewear for our workwear and getting back to work. However there are still some people who are currently floating between working from home and going back to work. Even discussing your work routine already involves an abstract discussion, yet alone trying to actually work as efficiently as before the pandemic. With an ongoing uncertainty and a fight with your current work life balance in the midst, it’s understandable as to why you may be struggling. We will try and find you structure and calm amongst the chaos and hopefully find you a routine to go with it.

It’s perfectly okay to not know what you are doing. Most of us don’t and as soon as you decipher through the upheaval, you will know where to begin.

Nobody’s perfect – again let me reiterate this, nobody is perfect, especially in the middle of the pandemic. With work becoming so fluid that it could slip through your fingers, it’s important to try and grasp onto the things you can. For example, are your hours spread between work and home? Try and prioritise what you want to accomplish at work that day, instead of seeing your work as so many hours. By doing this you will begin to understand what is expected from you by your boss and what you expect from yourself. If you prioritise these tasks, they will provide you with a sense of accomplishment and will encourage you to complete more tasks often. As a result you may naturally be working the hours that you normally would be working, in the office.

Time for your timetable – The amount of calm that comes from a timetable is unbelievable. Don’t know whether your meant to be working on that project or attending a catch up with your boss? Check your timetable. Regardless whether you are working from home or are at work, try to give yourself a timetable to follow regularly. For example you may start work at 8:30. For the first 30 minutes you may decide to focus on answering emails. Then from 9-11 you could give all your attention to that project you’ve been trying to finish at work. This timetable could reflect your normal working day but as it is focusing on the time spent on priorities, not the location, you can take this timetable and use it wherever you are. Please don’t forget to include your breaks! Regardless whether you are at work or are working from home, breaks are vital for your efficiency. If you work all day without a break, you will begin to become tired and will burn yourself out. Within no time you will feel unwell and paranoia of your symptoms may set in. So… every hour or so, schedule in a small break. Whether this is 5 or 10 minutes is up to you, as long as you take your break. As a result your mental health will stay in tact for another productive day at work.

Prioritising tasks – It might seem like a great idea to discuss something with your boss at home but if you need to show your boss something simultaneously, then make a note and leave it for when you go into work. This especially works when you’re working between work and home. The amount of times it has taken me 20 emails to explain a step by step process that could have been resolved by a 10 minute discussion is beyond me. So please, if you think it will be quicker to complete a certain task at work (photocopying for example) then please, make a note and ask permission to go to work to complete that said task.

Make time for yourself – This may seem simple but it is one of the best ways to keep yourself motivated and ready for the day. This could be painting your nails, going to the gym or walking your dog. By making time for yourself, you will be giving yourself a break and will be allowing yourself to relax and recuperate after a day at work. Many of us had disrupted sleep whilst in lockdown, so it may be that you have an early night and read a book before bed. Whatever you do is up to you but make sure you schedule in your ‘me time’.

By organising your time more efficiently you will begin to find a sense of calm within your working day and begin to enjoy your time when you’re not at work.

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary, paperback, 391 pages, Waterstones £5.99.

I initially picked this book up out of Tesco’s (currently 2 for £8) as I wanted a funny, happy and uplifting read and I feel that I got just that with this book.

The Flatshare is about two people who decide to share a flat at different times and days of the week. Leon is a nurse that works nightshifts and Tiffy works in publishing craft books. The novel itself reflects the point of view of both Tiffy and Leon in simultaneous chapters. Along with the character’s points of view, comes along various themes to be discovered.

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Friendship – A really strong element to this book is friendship. Although there are two main friends to the main character, the book also shows the importance of friendship in the workplace and how they can also impact our mental state and our enjoyment at work. This is reflected through both Tiffy’s work colleague Rachel and Leon’s patients Holly and Mr.Prior. All of the characters add something extra to each friendship and helps the reader relate to the characters and their experiences.

Love and Gaslighting – Gaslighting is a strong theme in this book, however (pardon the pun) it gradually comes to light for the reader, so that it doesn’t take away from the characters or plot itself. You could argue that this only enriches the characters experience.

Humour – One element that is consistent throughout this novel is humour. Part of this book’s charm is that it is so relatable to many readers that it will have you laughing both at the characters and yourself. Describing someones eyes as being as ‘brown as Lindt chocolate,’ I thought was personally genius. It strikes me as one of those novels where everything you want to say but daren’t, is said. 

After reading The Flatshare I felt it had an uplifting plot that left me with a smile on my face and a few aching stomach muscles. Once I had finished reading it, I looked up Beth O’Leary’s inspiration for the novel. After discovering that O’Leary wanted her book to be ‘a book you reach for when you need a hug,’ I could not believe how well the feeling I had experienced, matched her description.

I normally read thrillers but I wanted a change to something that was a bit more upbeat. Thinking I needed a laugh in lockdown, I gave this a try. I therefore would not say that you don’t need to read Chick Lit, in order to give this book a read. If you want to laugh, have some fun and let your hair down (if you have any!), then this is it!

You can buy this book at most supermarkets (as is her other book, The Switch, which I’ll be reviewing also) or via Waterstones, as mentioned above.

Happy Reading and stay safe!

This post was originally published on my writing blog: charlotteannebarker

The Coffee House

Crack. Crack. Crack.


Crushing of the beans, the aroma in the room

subconsciously embrace that nutty taste.

Lured in by comfy seats,

take cover from the rain.

Smooth instrumentals, poetry to the ears.


Orders taken, quiet chatting,

sipping a daily coffee.

An eternal warmth, a lasting flavour,

instant relaxation.


Public but private

Indulge with great company,

A home away from home

A warm welcome, perfecting techniques,

An experience not to be missed.

brown wooden dining table and chairs

Photo by Haley Black on


This poem was first written on my writing blog:

Looking After Your Health in Self-Isolation

With the Coronavirus now sweeping the nation and many of us beginning to self-isolate, it can be easy to fall into a negative attitude and to feel like like there is no end in sight.

Looking after your Health in self-isolation

However I find looking at the benefits of self-isolation can be a great way to keep your cup half full. Below are a few key concepts to consider when self-isolating.

Look after yourself – It sounds straight forward – and it really is. If you are self-isolating, it’s important to look after yourself. with this I am focusing on getting 8 hours of sleep a day and eating nutritious food. Not only do you have time to make those recipes you’ve been so desperate to try, but you also have the time to rest as much as you need. By eating right and sleeping well, you will be allowing your body to build up its immune system.

Take up a hobby – I don’t mean something extreme like snowboarding, more along the lines of a hobby to stimulate your mind. This could be playing games, writing or even painting. Having a hobby that stimulates your ind is a great way to pass time and can act as a great stress reliever.

Reflection – Now that you have all of this spare time on your hands, it could be worthwhile to reflect on what is important to you and if you are currently happy where you are in life. If there is something you would like to change, then consider creating a plan of action to help. You don’t get much time in your busy schedule to reflect as much as this – use this time wisely.

How Taking a Step Back Can Project You Two Steps Forward

How Taking a Step Back can Project You Two Steps Forward-2Many of us may have heard of the saying, ‘One step forwards, two steps back,’ however I am here to prove that this method can sometimes work in reverse.
First things first, What do I mean about taking a step back?

In this instance, I am talking about reflection. At times we may feel like we are constantly running on a treadmill and have our goal dangling in front of us. We don’t have time to look around us to see other options and most importantly, question whether this goal is achievable.

Reflection therefore gives us the chance to step of that treadmill, look around and analyse our own goals.

Is your goal achievable or will you forever be running on a treadmill to catch a goal that is never going to be in reach? It might be that you think your goal is achievable but never really gave it much thought to reaching it in a different way. For example, if you want to complete a course. Instead of completing full time, is there a chance to study part time? Or would an Apprenticeship be a better way to channel your energy?

Now that you are beginning to look at other options it’s time to ask yourself – Are you happy in your journey to reaching this goal? If the answer is yes, then great, you’re on your way to success. If not however, why? Is it that you feel like you don’t have enough time for yourself or your friends and family? Do you think you could enjoy the process more if you changed your route to reaching your goal? All of these questions are vital to helping you figure out a more manageable way to getting what you want.

Many goals can fail due to not being happy along the way.

Where will life take you?

Take dieting as an example: if you reduce various food groups that help keep your crankiness at bay, then you might not feel miserable and wish you didn’t start dieting in the first place. However if you allow yourself some of those foods, your mood will be better overall and you may even find the journey more enjoyable. As a result, reaching your goal will be no matter of if, but when.

So how do we end up two steps forward?

It’s simple, once you have figured if you are happy or not, you know whether to change your approach to achieving your goal. I find that simplifying your goals into daily or weekly tasks is one of the best way to achieve your goals. I’ve always wanted to write a novel and decided that last year I was finally going to do it. Instead of writing my novel in one big chunk however, I acknowledged that this was impractical as I have work commitments. Instead I decided to dedicate one hour to writing on the weekends. This allowed me to write as much or as little as I wanted but allowed me to realise that each small step was a step in the right direction. I now have the final scene to write and my first draft will be complete. I can honestly say that this would not have been achievable if I did not split this goal into daily and weekly tasks.

Try it yourself! Write down your goal on a piece of paper. Whether this is a promotion at work, or to improve your health. Next write down what you can do on a daily basis to help you reach that goal. It could be to keep on top of tasks at work or to exercise twice a week. Once you have started you will start to see a benefit and may even end the year with that promotion you have been so desperate to get.

Please give this a try and let me know of your successes!

Winter is coming…

The long sunny days are beginning to get shorter and going for long runs outside seem to be getting shorter and harder as the weeks progress. Summer comes and goes, we all know that but your fitness shouldn’t be hindered as a result.

Winter is coming...

Instead, consider preparing yourself for the season ahead.

We are beginning to notice the autumnal change in the air and now is the best time to get yourself ready.

Sportswear – It might seem simple but if you enjoy exercising outside, invest in some thermal sportswear. This will allow you to continue to do what you do best outside, without feeling the chill.

What if it’s raining I hear you ask? Hats can be a great way to keep dry, along with a waterproof if you are sick of your hood falling down.

Gym – If however the weather is becoming too much to handle, begin making use of a gym membership. With the dark nights setting in, I would advise to go straight from work. A lot of the time we may have good intentions – even on the way home – however once you’re in your warm house and its become dark outside, you may be less likely to go. A tip of mine is to always have your gym bag in the back of your car. Who knows, you might even have an additional day in the gym during your working week!

Home – Okay, so leaving your cosy home may seem like a chore but remember, exercise can be done at home too. There are many apps to try, however I always find the Nike training app a brilliant start. Not only does the app give you various types of workouts – from yoga to HiiT – it can also create a 6 week fitness plan for you. This tool is also great if your plans have to change last minute.

Canva - Round White Bowl With Vegetable Salad

Nutrition – With the weather changing, so should your food. Although hearty meals might feel right at this time of year, try to eat more seasonal veg with your meals. This will give you the best nutrients possible throughout the day and they should be cheaper too.

Remember if you eat the same foods day in day out and complete the same fitness routine, not only will you become bored but your body will plateau. As a result of this you may find yourself demotivated, that might through you off track to reaching your goals.

Variety is the spice of life when it comes to fitness and nutrition. So take a look around you and respond to your environment, your body will thank you.

The Lying Game

The Lying Game begins with a text message, I need you. From this moment onwards the reader is propelled into Isa’s life and lies that entwine within. As the lies in The Lying Game  unfold, the truth about Isa’s friendships and relationships surface. With everyone playing the lying game, who should she trust?

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Best selling author Ruth Ware, also known for her novels In a Dark, Dark Wood and The Woman in Cabin 10, has yet again met the high expectations of her readers. Although I prefer In a Dark. Dark Wood (and that’s not just because I’m a northerner), The Lying Game demonstrates an element of childlike games that we can all relate to, to some extent. It is when Ruth Ware stretches and twists these concepts, that makes her novels so appealing to the 20s + market.

If you have read any of Ruth Ware’s other novels then you will enjoy The Lying Game as her style is clearly cemented in every page. If you enjoy novels such as Gone Girl, then this could be the book for you. The Lying Game is not as intense but that shouldn’t be seen as a negative. 

I would suggest this novel to anyone who wants to read a thriller with elements of light heartedness. Not every thriller needs to be intense on every page and it’s for this reason that I would recommend The Lying Game as a good holiday read.

Staying safe in the sun

It’s that time of year again. Summer. Long days, warm weather and rays for days! Sometimes us Brits can get a little too excited when it comes to the summer. We either forget to be safe in the sun or just presume because it’s Britain, it won’t be as hot or skin damaging, as abroad! We then go in the shade thinking ooh I have a tan!  Only to realise that we’ve gone as pink as a lobster!

This year I’ve really tried to focus on being safe in the sun, whilst still having fun. Am I going to sunbathe and have Pina Coladas by the pool? Yes. Am I going to put up with heat/sun stroke in the process? No.

Here’s a few tips that I’ve found to be incredibly useful and that are so easy to do.

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Don’t over do it – It can be great sunbathing; soaking up the sunshine and getting all of that vitamin D. However that doesn’t mean you have to do it all day, everyday. Try coming out of the sun between 12-2pm. This is when the sun is at its hottest. Just remember, you can still get a tan if you spend 2 hours in the shade. I promise!

Stay hydrated – Depending on where you are this can seem rather tricky to do. If you’re in certain areas of Europe where the the tap water isn’t drinkable, then bottled water is really cheap- great! If you are going to America, you can often pay a lot more for bottled water, which can be hard if you still have problems drinking their tap water. If you can get hold of water however, I’d recommend you drink MORE THAN 8 GLASSES A DAY. This concept traditionally applies to your daily routine, however you will lose more fluid in hotter climates. Ideally, use the two hours you are out of the sun as a time to hydrate yourself!

Use Sensitive Sun Lotion – Some sun tan lotions, particularly sensitive ones, state that they protect against ‘sun induced allergies.’ Sun induced allergies could suggest prickly heat or rashes that occur due to the sun. Therefore this type of sun tan lotion will help protect against these issues. For more information about sun induced allergies please click here. A significant difference between this type of sun lotion in comparison to a regular sun tan lotion from my experience, is that my skin was kept cooler for longer, meaning that I did not get any reactions whilst in the sun.

You can leave your hat on – No seriously, leave it on! It’s amazing how many times this idea can go amiss. Putting a hat or bandana over your face or the back of your head will help keep you cool. I know, It’s warm and it probably seems like it will do the opposite; I promise it won’t. Wearing a hat or even placing one on the back of your head whilst sunbathing, gives your head direct shade and will help in preventing that flaky scalp we all hate so much.

Aftersun v Moisturiser – The shower after you’ve been sunburnt can be particularly painful but remember to use aftersun once you have showered, not moisturiser! Although moisturiser will help keep your skin hydrated, it will not ease sunburn or treat the skin. Aftersun is specifically designed to ease the redness of sunburn and to cool the skin also. Apply as much as you need and don’t worry about keeping it in the fridge – that’s preference.

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Whether you are going abroad or staying at home, don’t let the sun fool you this summer. I hope this post has been useful and remember, stay safe in the sun!

The Bittersweet Feeling of a Holiday

It’s that time of year again; bags packed, taxi booked, holiday here I come. I love everything about travelling, the airports, the language, the culture and even the flying.

If there was one element I disliked however, it would have to be leaving my dog Millie behind. I hate what my suitcase does to her. As soon as I see it I get excited and think of fun times ahead. With Millie however, she knows what’s going on and knows what that means for her. Kennel time. I hate leaving her but she’s so picky with whose likes, she has no choice but to go in the kennels.

However before I leave her, I take a few fun photos with her before I go. It makes me feel like she’s coming on the holiday with me. Not only that but she also gives me something to look forward to when I get back.

So without further ado, here is a few photos I’ve taken over the years just before I left for the airport with my much loved dog. I can’t wait to see her when I get back!










This post was inspired by Aura Frames.

Why being healthy isn’t working for you

Wanting to be healthy? That’s great but how do we really know if we are healthy?

First of all you need to identify what healthy means to you. This could be having a regular exercise regime, eating nourishing foods, not eating sugar or even all of the above. Once you’ve identified what healthy means to you, you can start to achieve it.


What if being healthy is not a goal or a destination, only a process. Would you still want to be healthy? Perhaps you want to be healthy but really just want to lose a few pounds the ‘healthy’ way.


The term ‘healthy’ can come in many shapes and sizes and for that reason it shouldn’t be seen as an end goal or target. If you are wanting to be healthy so that you can lose weight, then ultimately it’s not realistic. From my own experience eating healthily and exercising regularly doesn’t always mean you will lose weight. If you’re also munching on nutritious food that you dislike, it’s not likely that you will be able to stick to this style of eating – even if you do manage to lose some weight.

The best way I believe to look at the word healthy is to imagine the word no longer exists. Now try and explain what you are wanting or trying to achieve. By doing so, this emphasises your true goals and what you really want.

Sometimes it can be hard to know if and when you are ‘healthy’ – I still find it difficult myself. You might be going out and eating more sugary treats than you are used to. Does that make you unhealthy? Not necessarily. I always think that if you are making a conscious effort to exercise regularly and are eating nutritious meals the majority of the time then you are healthy.

With that being said- Don’t be too hard on yourself! Yes, we all get stressed, tired and run down, so don’t feel guilty if you didn’t make that gym session or you had a little more sugar than usual. Just remind yourself, if you weren’t stressed/tired/sick, you would be still making an effort to exercise and eat good food.

Nourish your body

So next time you want to give yourself a lifestyle target or goal to aim towards, don’t let it be healthy! Focus on what you want and you will have a stronger chance of reaching it.