Creating a Calm and Focused Environment with Anna Newton
Now, more than ever, people are getting little glimpses into how others tackle their day-to-day—trying to replicate what works to insert a bit of calm and focus into their world. This week we caught up with Anna Newton, creator of The Anna Edit, who shared some helpful insights on her daily routine and how she stays productive at home. Hopefully this Q&A will give you some more ammo for your own day-to-day and inspire you to keep at it.
Knowing that this is an extremely hard time to be productive, how do you structure your day in order to try to stay focused?
I’ve tried as best as I can to keep my routine like it always has been; setting my alarm for the same time each morning, using the mornings to get high priority/particularly taxing parts done, taking an hour out to make and eat lunch, then doing lower priority tasks in the afternoon, before rounding off the day with an at-home workout or a walk before dinner. Keeping as close to those timings as I can keeps me calm and focused, but during this time it’s important for us to be kind to ourselves too – listening to our bodies and minds and being flexible when we need it.
Is there anything you do at the beginning and end of your day to set yourself up for success for the time ahead?
I like to make sure that I’ve eaten a hearty breakfast to set myself up for the day. My mornings are my most productive times, so I set off with work straight out of bed and leave all my workouts and pampering moments till the evening.
What are some steps you take to refocus if you find yourself drifting or getting distracted?
Take a break! Don’t be afraid to stand up and take a chance to move around your space. Hand washing, make a quick snack, put on a face mask, call your Mum – just get up. Chances are when you sit back down, you’ll be able to give whatever task you’re doing another crack.
What advice do you have for people working from home alongside their partners or roommates?
Work in different rooms if that’s possible. Right now, I’m working in our home office and my husband is working in the kitchen and then tomorrow we’ll swap. Try to meet up for breaktimes and lunchtime.
For those who don’t have space in their homes for a dedicated home office, what are some ways people can “edit” a shared space to be more suitable for getting work done?
All you really need is somewhere comfortable to sit, so I’d recommend doing that in the comfiest spot possible – somewhere with a table and a high-backed chair. If possible, sit yourself near a window and make sure you have everything you need close by. Make sure you pack it away at the end of the day to keep a distinction between your working day and your evening. It can be a nice morning ritual to set it up again.
How can you create a sense of calm in your home during stressful times? What are some techniques or practices you benefit from?
For me calmness really comes from things being clean and tidy, so if ever our home is feeling out of sorts, a good cleaning session really helps to clear my head too. But if it’s not physical clutter that’s stressing me out, I do love to roll out my mat and do some at-home yoga, as cliché as it sounds. Yoga with Adriene does some great videos.
With people spending more time at home, do you have any recommendation on home-based projects people can do to fill their time or during breaks from work?
Set yourself a reading goal. Goodreads is a brilliant place to find new books and see what all of your friends are digging into. Of course, you could always go down the organizing route – creating a capsule wardrobe, sorting through loft space or clearing out your kitchen cupboards. Personally, I’m hoping to up my puzzle game. I’ve got a 1000-piece puzzle that has my name written all over it! It’s so therapeutic.
What percentage of your day is planned vs not? Do you plan down to the minute, in blocks of time, or do you let the day flow and whatever happens, happens?
On a Monday morning I sit down and plan for the week; setting myself three to five tasks to do each day. I let myself decide what order to do them in each day depending on how I’m feeling and if things need to get moved around then that’s all good too. I find having an idea of what I’d like to achieve that week, but then being quite relaxed about how and when it gets done is the best approach for me.
Who have you been inspired by in your business endeavors?
My parents inspire me hugely with their work ethic. They both tag-teamed when my sister and I were younger. My Dad went to work all day and then they swapped in the evenings, with my Mum going in to do a night shift and my Dad putting us to bed. It meant that my sister and I got quality time with the both of them, but I look back now and can truly appreciate how hard that must have been for them both. They are so supportive of our career choices too – they are my biggest supporters.
What advice do you have for women trying to start their own businesses now, or in the future?
Consistency is key in whatever field you choose. I posted almost daily for my blog for two years despite the fact that barely anyone aside from me was reading it! If you love it and it brings you joy then don’t give up – keep going! Also get yourself an incredible accountant who is able to explain things to you in a clear and concise way and responds promptly to your queries – they are worth their weight in gold!