Friday, 29 June 2018

Old Fashion Mental Clutter

When was the last time you said to someone, “I am so busy right now” or “ I am flat out, theres not enough time in a day is there”? Everyone is ‘busy’ these days.

I don't like the word busy. Busy is not productive. What it actually means, in modern day Britain, is you have far too much ‘to do’ at the same time and are not focused on one particular job, project or task. 

One analogy I could use is being busy in the kitchen cooking four different meals at once. You are darting form one side of the kitchen to the other. Don't let that burn! The saucepan is boiling over! You have forgotten the salad! What time did you put the meat in the oven? 

Why have you put yourself in this position? None of the four meals you are busily preparing are likely to be the best dish you have ever made. Easy solution: Cook one meal for four or cook one meal at a time. Said like that it seems ridiculous but what you may not realise is that you do this everyday. 

The problem is the same as before. Don't forget to pick the kids up. The cat needs feeding. You need to call (insert friends name here) at some point. What time is your doctors appointment? Have you finished that morning report? Must visit Mum today. Need to put the washing on. I don't have time to go to the gym.  

In both examples you can easily identify that none of the tasks you are doing are going to be of your best effort because you are not focusing. 

Whether we are at work or at home we always seem to be busy. We stress everyday to get things done and, more often than not, struggle to sleep with everything swimming in our heads. Thankfully, I have a simple solution. 

I get by everyday by having a paper diary and a notebook. Notice a key word here: paper. I do not use the diary and notebook functions on my iPhone or my iMac because it’s actually more time consuming and easily forgotten about. 

As my day goes on I have my notebook to jot down anything I need to do or ideas for any of my projects. I carry my notebook everywhere so a good idea will never be forgotten about.  Before bed every night I check my diary and my notebook. Things that are to-do in the near future goes into the diary. Everything else stays in my notebook under the heading ‘someday.’ The someday list has the ‘not urgent’ items which I can come back to when I have freed up time. 

This may seem really old school but I found it works better for me. Not only does it feel more satisfying to cross off tasks one by one in a paper diary or notebook but it encourages me to be more organised simply because I cannot rely on my phone. 

Also, with everything out of my head and onto the page I find that I am sleeping easier at night too. The physical act of writing an idea or task down helps relieve your mind before bed. Have you ever caught yourself saying while in bed “I must remember to do that”? Of course you have. Write it down there and then and it takes another worry literally off your mind. 

Why not try it for a month? See how you benefit by going old fashioned. 

Friday, 22 June 2018

Lets Talk Gender Equality

First thing’s first, what right do I have as a man to talk about a subject so fragile and sensitive? I must point out that if you have had to ask that question you, without a doubt, already qualify to read on. The next couple of paragraphs may seem like ‘throat clearing’ but in fact I am providing you with the tools to openly have this conversation with others. 

I am not a well known author, writer or with infamous authority. I am in fact, a 28 year old, working class man who enjoys observing, debating, thinking independently and educating. I have the right because I am a human being. I have the right to produce my opinions and to share my observations because I, like you, am an evolved primate with a passion to educate my fellow mammals about opportunity and human rights in this subject. 

In this case, I hope to encourage men to read this and want to learn more about gender equality. Not to push dogmatic views onto an unsuspecting readership but perhaps a man would be more comfortable accepting feminist views from another man from the outset. 

‘How can we affect change in the world when only half of it is invited, or feel welcome to participate in the conversation?’ - Emma Watson UN Women’s Global Goodwill Ambassador 2014

For the sake of clarity we need to brush up on a definition. This should not be ignored. If we plan on running we first must remind ourselves how to walk. Gender equality has taken many different forms over the years, Gender Equality, The Empowerment of Women and Feminism to name but a few.

Feminism by definition is the public belief that there should be equal human rights and opportunities between the sexes. 

I may ask you to revisit that definition later but for now lets explore the reasons why the  ‘F’ word has become such an unpopular one. Over the years we have seen a rise in what I will call the ‘fake’ feminists, what I mean by this is some people have misused the word and abused it’s meaning for their own ends. 

Man hating now walks hand in hand with feminism which has contributed to the words unpopularity. Lets clear this up here and now. Feminism is not about the revolution of women. It is not about overthrowing men from a historical seat of power and seating women on its throne instead. Equality, human rights and opportunity are a true feminists only watchwords. Any man or women who is currently seething at me, may I redirect you back to the previous definition. I must also insert for the benefit of balance that there are ‘Mens Rights’ groups but I will not poison the eyes of the few readers I have by providing a web link. I can be forgiven on this occasion. 

In 2016, The Telegraph conducted a survey on how many of us Britons consider ourselves to be Feminists. The results do seem predictable after reading the preceding description. Only 7% of us Britons consider ourselves feminists. 8000 people were surveyed and only 560 used the word Feminism to describe their position on Gender Equality. 

Are you still with me at the back of the class?

‘The overwhelming majority of the public share our feminist values but don’t identify with the label. However the simple truth is if you want a more equal society for women and men then you are in fact a feminist.’ - Sam Smethers, Chief executive of The Fawcett Society Charity

In the same survey The Telegraph asked for the publics initial reaction to the word feminism. More than a quarter had said “bitchy” while 22% said “strength” 17% said “suffragette” and the same amount used words related to gender such as “woman or female.”

Only one in twenty (4%) people in the UK said they don’t know what feminism stands for. However 3 in 5 (61%) people in Britain believe in equality for women and men but don’t describe themselves as feminist. Only 7% self-identify as feminist and one in ten (9%) think feminism is irrelevant.

My introduction into feminism came from Emma Watson. Most of you will know her as Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter films but I know her as the UN Women’s Global Goodwill Ambassador and founder of the HeforShe movement, which was born in September 2014. 

Through her work I discovered that I was a feminist by definition and immediately signed up to to find out how I could help to spread the word. I would ask you to do the same. I will also include a youtube video of Emma’s 2014 speech so you can see for yourself.

So, with the foregoing in mind I need you to ask yourself a question. Are you a feminist?

If you are, I encourage you to declare it openly and do a small part in revitalising the word and its true meaning by sharing this post or by word of mouth. 

To effect change and make gender equality a reality for both men and women, we all need to be involved. 

Friday, 15 June 2018

Is there any such thing as a Modern Gentleman?

‘You are a true Gent,’ is a phrase we are all familiar with. The old lady stepping off the train with your help, the potential girlfriend as you take her coat for her in the restaurant, the lorry driver who was taken aback when you asked if your car was in his way. With a slight bow of the head in thanks we move on with our day without any more analysis or contemplation. A phrase that we all take as a compliment, but have you considered that being a ‘modern gentleman’ in Britain is not only an admirable title, but an essential one?

Consider the current definition in the Oxford English Dictionary:

Gentleman; Noun. 

  • Chivalrous, courteous or honourable man
  • Man of good sociable position, especially of wealth and leisure
  • Man of noble birth
  • Polite or formal way of referring to a man

The latter description, I’m sure you will agree, is the most common description that we use today. With all that said and done, you can easily think of men who do not subscribe to the title of ‘Gentlemen,’ some may be in your social circle, a family member or a colleague. 

So, why labour this point? The above descriptions have become abstract concepts; out of date and irrelevant in todays British society, but with some careful re-definitions we can introduce the concept into our social circles and make good of ourselves and others. 

Consider also, current bullying statistics in schools and in the workplace. If the new generation were bought up with a gentleman ideology then perhaps society would take a leap in the right direction. 

How did you feel when you helped someone off the train? How did you feel when you were gossiping about a women in your office? It’s a natural urge as a human to want to help people and we feel good when we do so. Gossiping about that woman in your office might make you feel involved, superior or cool, but did it ever make you feel good? When we are kind to others, our brain releases a happy drug called ‘Dopamine’ which makes us feel far better than being the gossiper.

You may have heard of dopamine before in articles about drugs and social media. This is our in-built feel good system, which can be heightened by drugs, bought to heel by anxiety and exacerbated by social media. Too much makes you feel like you can take on the world, which is always a recipe for disaster, but too little can make your feel depressed, anxious and/or paranoid. The right amount can always be found by doing small good deeds each day. 

I would therefore like to offer the following as a new definition:

Gentleman; Noun
  • Chivalrous, courteous or thoughtful man
  • Man of good social attitude, especially towards women
  • Man who is self-deprecating/self-critical
  • Man who is creative and original in his thinking
  • Polite or formal way of referring to a man

A gentleman doesn’t have to be wealthy, white or of a noble birth. A gentleman is not born, in my judgement, he is grown by way of education. I would encourage any man, regardless of age, to stop and think when someone calls you a ‘Gent.’ Ask yourself; why did they call you that, what did you do and how do you feel about it? 

I genuinely believe that reintroducing an improved gentleman etiquette to our young men will improve social attitudes and respect for one another which may only be small but a good step towards reducing racists behaviour, crime and discrimination on all levels. 

So Gentlemen, what do you think? 

Friday, 8 June 2018

Minimalism; Less is More is True

I started my own minimalism story a little apprehensively. I couldn't understand the concept of having less being better for my life. However, with the help of Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus at ‘’ I quickly discovered an idea that is much bigger than just de-cluttering. 

Minimalism in essence is living life more intentionally. Getting rid of unnecessary items, which has a propensity to end up being nothing more than distractions and clutter, and focusing on the important things in life. ‘The Minimalists’ subscribe to the five values structure. ‘Life’s Important things’:
  • Health
  • Relationships
  • Passion
  • Growth
  • Contribution
Joshua Fields Millburn said it best; “Minimalism is the thing that gets us past the things so we can make room for life's important things, which aren't actually things at all.”

Armed with this new subscription I tried my hand at starting a minimalist life. First thing I knew I had to do was declutter. I took the time to look at everything I own and ask myself some questions:
  • Does this mean anything to me? 
  • Does it have a purpose? 
  • Does it bring me joy? 
  • Have I used this thing in the last ninety days?
  • Do I plan on using it in the next ninety days?  
  • Is this causing me mental or financial stress? 
If I answer negatively to most of the above, the item had to go. Some things like my Xbox 360, coffee machine, my Fiesta ST (a Ford sports car) and my collection of Warhammer models (google it if you must but don't judge me) were uploaded to gumtree, eBay or autotrader respectfully, and sold. 

The most astonishing thing about this exercise was that it was easier to get rid of these things than I originally thought it would be. I didn't feel any regret or sadness afterwards. If I was being completely truthful, however, I would have to declare that getting rid of my beloved car was hard work but I will expand on that in another piece. 

Once I had succeeded in throwing away or selling unnecessary things in my home I noticed a new found feeling of calm. There’s nothing to distract me or to encourage me to procrastinate. 

Without realising it I was able to spend more time on the five values stated above. I have more time to take exercise and my ‘health’ seriously. I am more considerate and thoughtful to the important ‘relationships’ in my life. I have been writing a lot more which is my biggest ‘passion’. I am focusing on my ‘growth’ by reading and learning more. Last but not least, I have found time to ‘contribute’ to others less fortunate than myself.

These five values, which are the offspring of Josh and Ryan from ‘,' will be the foundation of future minimalism posts and my minimalist lifestyle. Lets see how I get on. 

Saturday, 2 June 2018

Minimalism in Britain. The Exordium


It has become the norm, it seems, here in Great Britain that our younger generation is comfortable with being in debt, unfulfilled and unhappy. Credit especially has become so easy to obtain, from so many different platforms simultaneously, that millennials can get into serious money troubles in no time at all. A car on finance, a maxed credit card, a 0% balance transfer card, a loan, the current account overdraft and a phone contract to name but a few. 

Furthermore, we have so many monthly subscriptions these days that writing a proper monthly budget becomes a monumental task. Once you have factored in your Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify and a monthly magazine, you can clearly see how our monthly bills rocket up uncontrollably to a point that we struggle to support our credit-dependant lifestyles. 

Brian Milligan, who is a Personal Finance reporter for the BBC, wrote an article about a study published by the Money Advice Service (MAS) that showed that 16 million adults in the UK don't have savings more than £100 ( Can anyone deny that these findings and the preceding statements are connected for many people in Britain? 

We as a modern society are under a spell of overindulgent consumerism. In America, the average household has around 300,000 items in it according to the LA Times ( Although I do concede that the average American house is three times larger than the average home here in Britain; a case could still be made that we Brits have hundreds of thousands of items in our homes. Everything from kitchen equipment, sentimental items that have been in storage for the past ten years, clothes, gadgets, paperwork, photos and more. Why do we need all this stuff and why cant we let it go? 

The above description was me once too. Now, thanks to a little thing called Minimalism, I have started taking steps to becoming debt free, uncluttered and moving towards a more intentional way of living. 

Minimalism is a word that has many different meanings dependant on to whom you’re speaking to. Some would tell you that minimalism is only for the poor, or the rich, or people who literally only own twelve things which doesn't include a car or a property. 

This, in my judgement is all wrong. I personally subscribe to the type of minimalism that put Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus and Colin Wright on the map. I call myself a ‘minimalist' but, to the uninitiated, I would describe myself as a ‘essentialist’.  

This blog will never be able to contend with Joshua Fields Millburn, Ryan Nicodemus or Colin Wright and thats not the intent anyway. The above mentioned men are giants in this field. My blog will only record my own journey and observations. Due to Minimalism being by definition a perspectival continuum, I will have to revisit the subject to share with you how I am progressing and the pitfalls I encounter. 

With all this said and done, I appreciate it’s a lot to take in at once. First thing I would encourage you to do is go to ‘’ to find out more or watch ‘Minimalism: A documentary about the important things’ which can be found on iTunes/Movies.

To be continued