As everyone starts knuckling down to work in the new year I thought that it would be worthwhile sharing the places in London, outside of my room, where I feel most productive. Sometime having a change of environment is all you need to get you going or spark some inspiration. The more time you spend freelancing or working at home the more important it is to have an outside space you can work in to separate your home and work life and keep you feeling inspired.

I can personally guarantee each and everyone of these is 100% better than sitting in Starbucks.

ACE HOTEL 

100 Shoreditch High St, E1 6JQ

The Ace Hotel is where I go when I want to feel a bit, well a lot, cooler than I actually am. Working in a hotel lobby might sound a bit strange or uncomfortable, but it’s surprisingly relaxed and you’re guaranteed to be surrounded by some stylish people. They have one long desk, which is where I normally like to work, with power points and lights that feels studious. But they also have a range of sofas and comfy seating, and you can move into the restaurant if you’re feeling a bit peckish. I can highly recommend their chips, I know it’s not a January diet friendly suggestion, but they are gosh darn tasty and they got me through a particularly tough new year hangover a couple of years ago.

BRITISH LIBRARY 

96 Euston Rd, Kings Cross, NW1 2DB

The British Library is one of my favourite places to spend in London full stop. As someone who like quiet and calm… and books, it’s probably not that surprising. It’s also a space that’s built for working. Their café is perfect for casual working or for working in a group – sometimes I even see people doing one-on-one lessons in there. Plus their food is from Peyton and Byrne so it’s pretty tasty. The next level up is their what I call their foyer area, just up the stairs from the main entrance, which is has a series of desks with power points which are free to use. Then there are the reading rooms, which are for quiet focused work. The ultimate space to channel the student you wish you had been, plus they have so many resources you can use. It’s free to become a member but you need to be planning on using their catalogues. Word to the wise, if you want to get one of the desks in the main foyer you’ll need to be quick because they get snapped up by students fast.   

GOOGLE CAMPUS 

4-5 Bonhill St, Shoreditch, EC2A 4BX

Purpose designed as a work space the google campus has a lot going for it. If you’re serious about using the campus you can rent a desk in the coworking area or space in their labs. But if just want to drop in their café is really nice, it’s quite a buzzy atmosphere so best if you like to be in the thick of it when you’re working. The coffee’s pretty good and all you have to do is sign up as a member (feels kind of exclusive but it’s free and online).

V&A NATIONAL ART LIBRARY 

Cromwell Road, SW7 2RL

Probably the most beautiful place on this list, the V&A Art Library is the place if you want your work to have a little bit of grandeur about it. This one makes me feel like I’m back in Oxford which always makes me feel a bit more productive. It’s the perfect space to feel inspired whether you’re drawing from the environment or their ample supply of arts books. As it’s in the V&A if you get bored or need a break you’re never going to be at a loss as to what to do. Because it’s a national library, like the British Library, you have to sign up be a reader to use the reading room but it’s free and you can do it online before you go.

TIMBERYARD 

4 Noel Street, W1F 8GB

7 Upper St Martin’s Lane, WC2H 9DL

Unit 27, Boxpark Shoreditch, 2-10 Bethnal Green Rd, E1 6GY

The fact that “tea, coffee, work, and play” is Timberyard’s mantra should give you some kind of an idea about why it’s on this list. First off their menu is very good – the food selection is pretty important to me in a workspace – whether you want a full lunch or just a snack. Their coffee will keep you going. Being surrounded by other people working and collaborating always drives me to be more productive, and Timberyard has them in spades. Plus if you’re the kind of person who will need to you can rent event space with them. I’ve only been to one of their locations  but I’m planning on trying to visit the rest throughout the year.

I’ve not mentioned it as it’s a given for a workspace but all of these have free wifi and access to food not too far away.

Where do you like to work? Is there anywhere else in London I should try?

Inspired by a friend from uni (the inimitable Tucker Cholvin), this year I decided to put together a poster of my new year’s resolutions to hang above my desk to remind me to stay on track. I think the 5 aims I’ve picked for this year are doable, and things I actually enjoy, but are challenging, and if I get them done will leave me in a better position this time next year.

new year's resolutions poster 2017

This year…

I WILL run to Edinburgh

This might not seem like very far to a lot of people, but I’ve had a love hate relationship with running for a very long time – I love the idea of it but I hate doing it. But I’m giving it another go, I was pretty committed to the gym towards the end of 2015, but being in a sweaty box going nowhere has started to lose its appeal. So I’m starting from the bottom, using the NHS’s ‘Couch to 5K’ podcast and I’m hoping it will take me to being able to do 2 5k runs a week. Plus, I’m thinking if I complete the challenge I might treat myself to a weekend away in the glorious city that is Edinburgh as a little well done.

I WILL get up without hitting snooze

I’m always on a quest to be more of a morning person, but this year I’m going to keep it simple and just aim to make one (admittedly very difficult) change – not hitting snooze. I am terrible for turning off my alarm, even if I have to get out of bed to do it, and then getting back into bed. But this year that’s going to change.

I WILL read 20 novels for fun

I’ve really gotten back into reading recently, which I am so happy about. Oxford kind of dampened my drive for reading for pleasure, so I’m committing to reading 20 novels just because I can this year. At the minute The Girls by Emma Cline is on the top of my list.

I WILL take 1 picture a week

This was on my resolutions list last year and I’m really sad I didn’t do it, there are so many things that I wish I could look back on through pictures. I’m going to turn that disappointment into productivity this year. I even got some more polaroid film this year for Christmas so there are no excuses.

I WILL set up a weekly digest

A couple of years ago I sent one of my friends a picture of a dog every day for the year, and I loved doing it. I mean, I love dogs, but it also meant that I had a reason to get in touch with him every day. I kind of missed doing it this year, so I thought I would start up something similar, but a little different. I’m going to send out a weekly collection of fun things I’ve read/seen, and maybes a couple of dog pictures, to some of the people I love the most. I’m hoping it will be a mailing list they don’t want to unsubscribe from, and it doesn’t meant that I repeat myself too much in letters.

Those are my resolutions for the year, I do have some bigger more personal goals for the year, but these are the ones going up on my wall. How are your resolutions going? Do you have any tips for sticking to them?

2 things I love are colouring in to wind down and christmas jumpers, and this printable combines them both. The printable is just a plain knitwear pattern, so you can be as creative as you like or recreate the pattern I’ve posted below if you need some inspiration.

xmasjumpercolourindone

Download the printable here

As much as I love Christmas, and I really love Christmas, it can be a stressful time. There’s a lot to juggle and the more you care about getting it just so the more stressful it is. These are a couple of things I will be doing this festive season to try and stay calm and actually enjoy the holidays, and would recommend you have a go at too.

 

DECIDE NOT TO GIVE A FUCK

I recently read Sarah Knight’s The Life Changing Magic of Not Giving a Fuck* , and I genuinely do think it might have changed my life a little bit. The basic principle of the book, without giving too much away, is that you have a finite number of things you can care about and you need to decide what you can and can’t afford to put effort into. Nowhere does this apply more than at Christmas – you can’t put effort into finding the perfect gifts, the perfect tree, the perfect dinner, the perfect family relationships, the perfect hygge, the perfect red lip without completely burning out. Write a list of all, yes ALL, of the things you’re caring about this festive season and just cross a couple off – I promise you’ll feel so much better.

*Highly recommended as a gift for friends, family and loved ones, or even just yourself!

 

PLAN

Planning is normally my answer to everything, but I really think it makes a difference when it comes to Christmas. Knowing what you need to do and when can save you a lot of last minute panic. In particular, for me, planning gifts is absolutely essential if I don’t know what I’m getting when I go out to the shops (yes I do my Christmas shopping in person) it takes me a lot longer and often ends in an anxiety inducing time trapped in overstuffed stores peopled with a sea of shoppers at their worst.

 

DON’T FORGET TO HAVE SOME DOWN TIME

There’s a lot to do at Christmas, especially if you’re hosting, but running around like a headless chicken 24/7 isn’t going to do anyone any good. Make sure you schedule in some down time doing something that you know relaxes you, you will feel better and you’ll be able to do all of the things you want to do with even more energy and festive spirit.

 

GET OUTSIDE

It’s really easy to stay cooped up inside when it gets cold and grey outside. But getting outside and going for a walk is honestly worth braving getting a little chilly. I know it’s a cliché but going for a walk in the fresh air can really clear your mind, and getting a break from being in the same four walls can give you a new perspective (or at least some distance from) whatever problems you’re having within them.

 

TRY OUT SOME FRANKINCENSE

Those wise men knew what was going on Frankincense is actually really great for relieving the stress and anxiety of the Christmas period. Frankincense essential oil is really great for calming and focusing the mind, and is often used as an aid to meditation. It can even help slow your heart rate to help reduce any panic. Put a few drop in a bath, on your pulse points, in an oil burner or just spray around the room and hopefully feel the benefits.