Posted in: advice

Productivity Sabotage: 4 Mistakes I’ve Made

Productivity Sabotage: 4 Mistakes I've Made That You're Probably Making Too

We all want to be fabulously successful, right?

If you answered ‘yes’, feel free to skip on down to the list below. If you answered ‘no’, stay here. I have something to tell you.

Success is just another way of saying ‘things going how we want them to’. If you don’t feel the need to achieve success, it’s only because you haven’t properly defined your own idea of what a successful life would look like. Far too often I see the world of success being given up on by people who don’t see themselves as “ambitious” or “determined”, feeling that they don’t want big houses, fast cars, and a glittering career so therefore, they don’t have a drive to succeed. Furthermore, I believe the journey for success had been tainted with images of empathy-void, unhappy people who end up with heart attacks and drug abuse problems. Guess what? That’s all a lie, probably constructed specifically to deter you from trying to get what you want in life, and instead keeping you fearful enough to remain complacent in a sub-par existence.

Reaching for success isn’t some kind of never-ending marathon of pain. If it ever did become such a thing for me, I’d stop everything and look for where I went wrong. It’s not fun or easy all the time, but it should be an overall pleasant picture. One that brings you joy, pride, and fulfilment. Travel, life partners, children, home ownership – these are just the most common definitions of what success might look like. What about diamonds? Regular champagne? A small country cottage? A house with a personal library in it? What if you are a collector? Gems? Perfume? Antiques? How about supporting that charity close to your heart? Being able to eat at a nice restaurant once a week? These things don’t come for nothing.

I urge everyone to sit down and think about what you want your life to look like. Whether you write it, collage it, Pinterest it. It has to be done. Be realistic (if you are 25 and your dream is to become a rockstar but you still don’t have any musical abilities, it might be time to focus on something else!) but don’t be afraid to include things that seem a little far-fetched right now. Don’t worry about the fact that your vision might change or if you’re not 100% sure about everything yet. Life isn’t static, your goals aren’t static. When I was a teenager I thought I’d live in Japan after I graduated, so I started saving money. I didn’t end up moving, but I had the money I’d saved for that goal and great grades in Japanese class, so it wasn’t a loss at all.

Once you’ve envisioned your dreams, you actually have to work towards them. Chop it all up into goals, make plans, create timelines. Believe you can do it. But that’s not the end of it. After that, it’s time to start working. The difference between successful and unsuccessful people, is that the successful ones know when to stop looking at their Pinterest boards and actually get to work. I’m still learning how to ‘get to work’, but the past year has seen me get serious and really look at how I was going about things. I realised I’d been making some pretty huge productivity mistakes, so I thought I’d share them!


 

1. Only working when I ‘felt like it’

My biggest, biggest, biggest most cringe-inducing mistake. When I would blog, I’d write posts on a whim and post them straight away, no matter the day or time. Even worse, most of my old posts were created in a mild panic state of “I haven’t posted anything in a month”, so a few quick, terrible photos later and half-heartedly writing about ‘life lately’ or some other nonsensical rambling… well, I technically had a post. I was wasting my time creating fairly useless, pointless posts. I wasn’t seeing much blog growth, because seriously, who wants to read a last-minute post about the recent goings-on of my boring life? Not even I was that interested. I knew I could do so much better if I started writing with a purpose.

These days I plan my posts in advance on a calendar, I have a notebook full of ideas, and I know exactly what photos I need to take or what copy I need to write. And if I don’t feel like working? I don’t give a flip, Emily!!!! You’re sitting down and doing it, no excuses. The best thing I ever did was get strict with myself. I’m still not perfect, I have a long way to go, but my work ethic is developing and I’m only ever improving.


 

2. Comparing myself to others

… And worse, comparing myself to the wrong field of people. I used to really only read successful top fashion blogs, and it really distorted my idea of what success was meant to look like for a blogger. I constantly felt discouraged by the fact that I had no way of creating such high-level imagery and it put me off trying to create. I have a drive to be ‘the best’ and it seemed impossible to be the best in that highly-saturated field.

What I should have been asking was why I felt I wanted to be a fashion blog at all. I love their blogs and they work extremely, inspiringly hard, but once I thought about it, I didn’t want a blog full of photos of me in clothes. I don’t have the energy or means of creating that kind of content. Not to mention the fashion blog market is completely over-saturated & most are moving into ‘lifestyle’ now anyway. My strong suit is writing, not creating magazine-worthy editorial content and being a model – and, surprise surprise, my writing is what people comment, message, and e-mail me to appreciate. The audience I attracted were attracted by the skills I did have, not the ones I didn’t, and once I realised how best to play up my strengths I was home free.


 

3. Doing What I Thought I ‘Should’

Leading on from the last point, I found I was often looking to other blogs as I guide for what I ‘should’ be doing. Sometimes I’d end up writing on topics I didn’t care about, or focusing on things that didn’t truly reflect who I am. This was especially a problem whenever I was stuck for content, and I think it’s fairly common for anyone to do when they are trying to find their feet. However I knew I had to start putting some effort into thinking of my own ideas, otherwise I would lose interest altogether, and wouldn’t attract an audience.

Once I started brainstorming I realised I had quite a few good ideas that hadn’t really been done in my own way before (or at all). My medley interests of history, theatrics, and imagination, meant that even if I was borrowing core ideas I could present them in my own unique perspective. I don’t know of anyone else who does style guides the way I do, and my plans for future features were all born out of mild frustration that no one else had done it for me to look at!


 

4. Not Defining Success

As I already mentioned, success is highly personal and subjective. Success may also be different between our family lives and our professional lives. In a personal sense for me, success more or less has an ‘end point': I’d like a home, regular travel, and a family. Professionally, however, I never want to stop. When I meet my goals I feel successful, but success, in itself, is something that I hope will keep stretching on forever. I hope to always be creating and contributing. For some, the professional side of things is only a means to reaching the ideals of personal success, such as working hard and earning X amount in order to afford a house, family, and retirement. It is such a variable concept, and most people get stuck in the same place because they are too caught up thinking about what they are not and what they don’t want. You can’t move forward on that, you can’t make goals of of it. There’s no destination in the negatives.


My experiences are obviously mostly blog-related, but they translate to all areas. I also compare myself to people I went to school with, and sometimes feel inadequate before I remember that just because they’re happy and appear successful, it’s not my idea of success or what would make me happy so I should quit it and be happy for them.

What are some productivity mistakes you’ve made? I need to know in case I’m making them…!!

Posted in: personal

The Mailing List

vintage envelope

 

Subscribe to the mailing list

Never miss a post! Subscribing means a weekly e-mail digest of all posts from Miss Black. It’s going to be a big year, and I can promise my e-mail subscribers that you’ll hear all about it first! I look forward to gracing your inboxes (your e-mail address is safe with me, I won’t sell it or anything weird like that because I am not a diabolical creep). Sign up below!

Email Address*

First Name
Last Name

(E-mail required, other fields optional)

Posted in: sewing

Vintage Sewing Pattern Wish List

1930s Spectator Dress / 1940s Sunday Dress

I can imagine these now, made of rayon or light cotton, carrying me through long, hot summers. Whether it’s to the shops, the library, the cinema… I have extreme trouble finding summer dresses I like, which I’ve complained about here 5,000 times before. They all seem to be too short or too low cut or too ugly. Modern fashion seems to like ending dresses right at the point on my thigh that makes them look biggest. Sometimes just the thought of it makes me so incredibly frustrated. They certainly aren’t making these dresses for girls who eat Nutella from the jar in bed on the regular.


1960s Cropped Jacket / 1960s Dress & Coat

I think my obsession with coats and jackets is a “wanting what I can’t have” complex, since there’s about five seconds per year in Queensland when it’s actually cold enough to need one. The obsession remains strong however, and I’m convinced that if I simply found lighter materials to make them out of, I’d get at least ten seconds of wear per year out of them. The things I do for aesthetic…

I also love how happy the photograph of the lady is on the dress pattern. It’s so overt and shameless, which really sums up marketing in this period of time. The Post-war economy is when capitalism & consumerism as we know it really took off, free as they were from rationing and the general constraints of wartime. Marketers and advertising agencies began to commodify lifestyle and sell products in terms of fulfilment and happiness. I’m sure Mad Men illustrates this time in capitalist history well, but I could only bear a few seasons before I re-named it “wanker men being wankers” and stopped watching.


 

1930s Night Gown / 1930s Slip

Yeah, I want to be the most glamorous girl in my boudoir. That rather sounds like it could be the content of a Lana Del Rey song. The last pyjamas I bought fell apart after a couple of months wear. The satin-like material frayed right away from the binding and seams, so I’m very displeased and don’t feel at all inclined to go buy any more from the silly shops. (Also walking around the house with a giant tear at my rear was not my classiest moment.)


Of course in reality I’m not an advanced enough sewer to tackle these yet, especially when most of the time vintage patterns require re-sizing. I simply like the styles, and they are more representative of what I like than a wish list post of modern store items could probably illustrate. At any rate, they definitely inspire me to improve my sewing skills and keep challenging myself! Now, if only University could give me a break so I have time to sew…!

Posted in: Books

I’ve Been Reading…

The Perfectly Imperfect Home

20


The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman

(Pictured above) A gorgeous, fun interior design book full of timeless watercolours and practical tips for creating a real, lived-in home.

Did I enjoy it? Yes
Would I read it again? Definitely. It’s a great reference for design and a reminder to be brave & bold!
Who would I recommend it to? Those interested in realistic yet beautiful interior design
Any other thoughts? I especially loved the chapters on lighting and bathrooms. It really inspired me be brave. I loved the focus on real living, not just creating something that is picture perfect. The one downside is that the author seems to assume large living spaces and middle class budgets.
Find it on: GoodreadsThe Book Depository

Shopping for Shares by Tracey Edwards

You might have heard (seen?) me talking about my desires to start investing lately, and had been completely stuck on where to begin. Most information I could find was confusing, too advanced for my zero knowledge of finance, and completely lacking in women’s voices. Finally the library pulled through for me, and I found Shopping for Shares. It provided everything I needed to know and I’m feeling confident enough to begin trading in the near future.

Did I enjoy it? Yes!
Would I read it again? Over & over! Again, it’s a reference book.
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone interested in investing in the Australian stock market.
Any other thoughts? Really, everyone (especially women as we get paid less and are prone to earning less over our lifetimes and accumulating less superannuation due to things like maternity leave) should read this because there’s absolutely zero excuses for not investing – even if it’s just starting with a term deposit savings account.
Find it on: GoodreadsThe Book Depository

$0 To Rich by Tracey Edwards

Written by the same author as above and essentially the same book, except the first half is methods on actually saving up your first $10,000 to start investing with, no matter your budget.

Did I enjoy it? Somewhat
Would I read it again? No, I don’t need the budget/savings advice, and was already implementing pretty much all these methods anyway! Shopping For Shares is more relevant to me.
Who would I recommend it to? Anyone who needs guidance on how to save money and make your savings earn money for you.
Any other thoughts? As I said above, every woman should be investing, there are no excuses as to why you aren’t. A regular savings account (or worse, your everyday spending & savings account being the same thing) doesn’t cut it. (It kind of panics me to think that is how people manage their money!)
Find it on: GoodreadsThe Book Depository

Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan

A classic French coming-of-age tale about Cécile, a 17 year old girl, who is bored, intense, and fickle (like most teenagers). She meddles in her father’s love life with unexpected consequences.

Did I enjoy it? Yes
Would I read it again? Maybe not for a long time.
Who would I recommend it to? People interested by classics and those who aren’t bothered by pretentious, precocious, angsty teenage characters.
Any other thoughts? I think most of why I found this one interesting is because I can relate to Cécile. I was a lot like her as a teenager, though more an earlier teenager. Cécile is 17 here and still very juvenile in some ways, which I’d grown out of or become self-aware about by then, but it was also a different time back then so it’s understandable.
Find it on: GoodreadsThe Book Depository


Be my chum on Goodreads!

Posted in: style guide

Ravenclaw


“The Eagle is a symbol of strength, authority, and power, and was given to those of ingenuity and distinction.”



ravenclaw style guide satchel ravenclaw style guide white blouse  ravenclaw style guide blue skirt ravenclaw style guide brown heeled boots

Satchel

ASOS

Ivory Shirt

Modcloth

Flared Skirt

The Whitepepper

Heeled Boots

Modcloth

r13 ravenclaw style guide baroque dress blue ravenclaw style guide  ravenclaw style guide blue earrings

Dress Pump

Betsey Johnson

Baroque Dress

New Look

Gold Coat

Sally&Circle

Drop Earrings

John Lewis

ravenclaw style guide ravenclaw style guide ravenclaw style guide ravenclaw style guide

Corduroy Blazer

Johnston & Murphy

Check Trousers

Topshop

Pussybow Blouse

Topshop

Majorly Oxford

Shoes.com

 r18 r16 r15  r17

Layered Necklace

Glue Store

Celestial Robe

Modcloth

Maxi Dress

House of Fraser

Kitten Heels

Debenhams


Ink-stained fingers and the occasional pinched look of frustration when things aren’t going smoothly. There’s a small huddle of the mystical-minded to your right, and while you’d usually be interested in hearing what they have to say today your mind is on other matters (like the new sewing spell you’re trying to invent, while not seeming to be able to stop mulling over whether love is practical…). You really, really wish they’d pipe down about the bloody Moon for just five minutes.

Eventually you need a break and wander outside to breathe in the fresh air. It is Spring, and everything is fresh and beautiful. Really, there is no such thing as a “break” for you, at least not in your head, and you find yourself watching nature intently. A slight breeze through the grass. A bird that flies into a nearby tree. You walk some more just to get to the water, where the water ripples and calm fish swim. Somewhere deeper are the merpeople that you always wish you knew more about. With a flick of your wand, water droplets are dancing through the air, a twirling of patterns.

“Brilliant,” says a voice behind you, causing you to jump a little and the water droplets plop back down.
“Oh, it’s you!” A smile. “You startled me. I was thinking.”
“What about?”
“Love.”
“I see.”
“I’ve been trying to figure out if it’s practical. You know. Worth it?” you say, turning back to the water and resuming the water droplet dance.
“Well of course it’s not,” came the pragmatic reply. “But what does that matter? We love people and things anyway. Isn’t it the whole point of life?”
“I don’t know… there seems to be lots of points of life… It’s different, depending on who you talk to.”
“This is what I know: you love philosophising, and you are philosophising on whether love is worth it. What I don’t know if that’s worth it. You might just go in circles.”
“I don’t mind going in circles, it’s just interesting, is all…”


Of course, most of my takes on fashion are deeply rooted in history, and early on it became very clear to me that my interpretation of Ravenclaw style was influenced by the early 20th century. They have the inventive, productive, and slightly dreamy quality of the 1900s and 1910s. The invention of aeroplanes, the shifting of dynamics for women with WWI, along with all of the peace, stability, innovation, and slight romanticism of the Victorian and Belle Epoque eras. I also think Ravenclaws may be a little more spiritual than others, too. They are more connected to the earth and know about so many wild and wonderful things that it is easy for them to conceptualise ideas like astronomy and divination.

Further reading: Slytherin Style Guide, Slytherin Common Room Style Guide

Coming Soon: Hufflepuff & Gryffindor Style & Common Room Guides, Ravenclaw Common Room Guide

Post Navigation