21 August 2012, 11:50
One of the reasons I love spending time with my father — other than our matching noses! — is his perpetual curiosity & interest in the world around him. Every time I talk to him, he’s reading a new book or investigating a new idea… & if you were wondering, yes, I got my interest in the world of self-improvement from him!
When he was in town last week, he made me sit down & listen to a couple of chapters of Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time. I walked away with my head full of ideas, & a day later, I purchased it & started reading it on my iPad.
Okay, I have to be honest. I am immensely sick of “productivity tips”, & I’d be really quite happy if I never read another one. But, but! This book is different.
In fact, one of the basic tenets of the book is that you will NEVER GET EVERYTHING DONE. Isn’t that kind of a relief to hear?! Brian Tracy’s thinking is that since you’ll never get it all done, you simply need to prioritise what is really important. (This is a bit “duh”, but it’s one thing to know it, & another thing entirely to put it into practice every day.)
It’s a quick & simple read, but some of the ideas are really brilliant. I’ve been implementing ALL of the ideas below in my daily life for the last couple of weeks & I can’t even begin to tell you how much I’ve been able to get done! (The feeling of freedom is immense & a total Virgo natural high.)
Here are a few notes on Brian Tracy’s book. I definitely recommend picking it up!
Clarity is one of the most essential parts of achievement.
Of course, this means that you have to know what you want in order to get it! If you don’t write it down, it’s just a dream or a wish. You should always, always, always plan on paper.
A lot of us were never taught how to set goals or make plans, & I honestly think that not knowing this stuff puts you at a disadvantage. The good news is it’s really easy to learn how to do this. Here’s a rundown…
How to set goals:
1. Decide exactly what you want;
2. Write it down;
3. Set a deadline on your goal;
4. Make a list of everything you have to do to achieve your goal;
5. Organise the list into a plan;
6. Take action immediately!
7. Resolve to do something every day that moves you toward your major goal.
Another thing to keep in mind about goal-setting is that the best goals are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant & time-based. I wrote about this approximately two million years ago, so have a peek if you want more advice on goal-setting!
I have also been advised by my father that the next book I should read is Flight Plan: The Real Secret of Success, which is all about goal-setting, so maybe once I’ve flicked through it, I can tell you what I’ve learned! Yay! It’s like a book club, except you don’t have to read the book!
“An average plan vigorously executed is far better than a brilliant plan on which nothing is done.”
Start with a master list
Get out a piece of paper & write down EVERYTHING you have to do: from paying taxes to fixing that shoe to going through your bathroom & throwing away all the old stuff you don’t use anymore. I used a sheet of A4 & wrote items all the way down the side. Simply put, if you don’t have it on paper, it will never happen. So put it on paper!
Once you’ve done your master list, you need to work out what you’re doing day-by-day. You should always plan your entire day ahead of time. In fact, write it all down the night before. In addition to waking up feeling ready to go, your brain will be subconsciously working its way through your list while you sleep. Sometimes this means you wake up with a brilliant solution or way to deal with an upcoming problem. Bonus!
Use the ABCDE method
When you make your master list, as well as your list of activities for the day ahead, be sure to categorise all your tasks into one of five categories: A, B, C, D or E.
A tasks are very important. If you don’t do them, there are serious consequences.
B tasks are things that you should do. If you bump them a day, there will be mild consequences, but nothing major.
C tasks are things that are nice to do, but have no real consequences if you miss them. Common C tasks include catching up with friends or returning social phone calls.
D tasks are things that you should delegate.
E tasks are activities that you should eliminate from your routine. Yes!!!
Write the category (A-E) next to the item, then take a new piece of paper & rank them, with A tasks at the top & E tasks at the bottom. If you have more than one A task, prioritise them (A1, A2, etc.) & put them in order.
Now, here’s the trick: never complete a B activity before an A activity. As Brian Tracy said, “resist the temptation to clear up small things first”.
It is horrifyingly easy to keep ourselves occupied with little tasks & mindless busywork, & while it can feel satisfying to do these things — like reply to email, tidy our desk, etc. — ultimately it keeps us from doing the things that are really important.
You have to start with the biggest, gnarliest task first. This is otherwise known as “eating that frog”, & is the basis for the entire book. The idea is that the activity you’re dreading most is your frog for the day, & your job is to eat it. If you have several big, ugly tasks, then you have to eat several big, ugly frogs. You’re supposed to eat the biggest, ugliest one first.
My father & I have talked about this so much that the subject has become a constant theme. We ask one another, “Did you eat that frog today?” Truth time: YES, sometimes this is annoying. Double-whammy truth time: it keeps you on task & you get things done, & isn’t that the point, after all?
So, as you work through the items on your list, tick them off (or scribble them out with vigor, which is what I like to do). It will give you a feeling of accomplishment & encourage you to continue on your path of world domination!
“Everyone procrastinates. The difference between high performers & low performers is largely determined by what they choose to procrastinate on.”
Three questions to ask everyday:
1. What are my highest value activities?
2. What can I — & only I — do that if done well will make a real difference?
3. What is the most valuable use of my time now?
I am a huge nerd who has to take notes on everything or else it is just IN ONE EAR & OUT THE OTHER (as they say), so these three questions are scrawled on a piece of paper & taped to my wall just above my laptop. Looking at them has so far kept me motivated & on track. Awesome.
Let me reiterate, in case you missed it the first time: you will never get everything done. Once you know this & accept it, you can feel less guilty about eliminating or delegating tasks that are unimportant.
From the book: “One recent study concluded that the average executive has 300 to 400 hours of reading & projects backlogged at home & at the office.” C’mon, now!
You can only do so much: do the things that ONLY YOU can do, & the things that have the power to REALLY CHANGE or improve your situation.
I think the three questions above can really help keep you chuggin’ along. What is the most valuable use of my time right now? is my fave.
“You can get your time & your life under control only to the degree to which you discontinue lower-value activities.”
Now… Go get started on your master list, & report back in a week!
All photos from Alannah Hill.
20 August 2012, 12:19
When it comes to blogging, there is no road map. The blogosphere is like the Wild West, with everyone carving out their own individual path. As wonderful as this is, it can also be extremely daunting!
Real talk: I’ve been to about a billion blogging conferences, & I seldom learn anything new. Every time I walk out, I say to whoever is standing next to me, “It makes me crazy that they always start from scratch at these things. I’ve heard the same thing so many times I think my ears are going to bleed!”
I don’t know why there isn’t more in-depth information available to bloggers. The industry is new, but it’s not that new… & there are plenty of people who are doing very well from their blogs. Maybe people who have seen some success are afraid to give away their secrets. It’s definitely not just luck or random chance that propels some blogs to stardom while others languish in the shadows.
Well… I’m not afraid to tell you what I know! I’ve been writing online since 1997 & I’ve had this blog for almost six years. You better believe that in that time, I’ve learned a trick or two!
The Blogcademy is a real nuts & bolts masterclass for people who already have the basics of blogging licked & want to take it to the next level.
We’ll be covering some of the blogging essentials, like finding inspiration and picking the right topics for your blog, how to discover your own voice and showcase your personality, growing your readership, advertising and how to make money from your blog, how to make brand connections and work on campaigns, leveraging social media, dealing with the not-so-nice bits of blogging, PR and networking, branding tips and techniques!
...But where we really excel is in pushing ourselves further. It’s not just about being online, it’s about establishing legitimacy in the offline world, too. We want to tell you everything we know about dealing with big brands (and maintaining a sense of self and integrity!); getting a newspaper or magazine column; self-publishing and digital products; creating a magazine (as well as editing, designing and distributing it!); blogging managers and agents; how to get a book deal; selling your own products, and even the ins and outs of internships!
Beyond all the strategy and insights mentioned above, we will be sharing essential design tips and elements to enhance the look and feel of what you do. It’s one thing to have a cohesive look across all your online properties, but it’s another thing entirely to know if they accurately represent you or your business. Nubby’s five years working in renowned ad agencies and design studios have given her a sophisticated and beautiful view of online design.
On Sunday, you’ll be sitting down for a photography and editing lesson with Lisa Devlin, British Journal of Photography’s wedding photographer of the year! She is one of our favourite photographers and we know you will absolutely LOVE learning from her!
Finally, the headmistresses will be assessing your blog and giving you personalised recommendations on what you can do to take your online presence to the next level. This is an unbelievable opportunity to have your work appraised by some of the best in the business, and if you take our advice, you’ll see incredible growth!
When is the Blogcademy?
The event is being taking place on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st October. Each day starts at 11am. We plan to wrap at 5pm each day, although we are happy to stay late to answer your questions!
Where is the Blogcademy being held?
It’s happening at The Silk Studio on East 4th Street in New York City.
How much does the Blogcademy cost?
The two-day event is $550 if you register before September 1st, and $600 after that. You can book your spot through PayPal on our registration page. If you’d like to pay via installments, drop us an email!
I really want to come along, but I can’t afford it!
We hear you, baby! Don’t fret, we’d love for you to be a part of it: The Blogcademy is offering a scholarship spot to one very deserving babe. It’s easy: just make a video telling us why you think YOU should be part of the first graduating class of Blogcademy, upload it to Youtube and send us the link by Sunday 16th September. We’ll pick our favourite entry and you’ll be invited to hang with us all weekend!
Blogging isn’t just what I do for work, it’s something I am incredibly passionate about. Even though I’ve been online for what feels like forever, I credit at least some of my success to the fact that I am not content to sit around & do the same thing over & over again. There is always something new to learn, something else to try, something original to strive for.
The Blogcademy has been a long time coming, & we’re extremely excited about getting to teach what we know & love! We are SO super-psyched to hang out with you for two days… We can’t wait!
16 August 2012, 12:19
“I hate my nose so much. Like, really REALLY much. It’s huge and has a very noticeable bump on it, it’s probably the only thing ruining all of my pictures and the reason why I try not to turn my face profile for people to see. I have never felt pretty. I know this may sound stupid, and it probably is, but I keep wanting for a small, beautiful, narrow nose, but, of course, I can’t help it. The only thing that I could change is my perspective, but then again, nowadays all of the articles on a “love your body” topic are based on weight, not one of them mentions anything about a “problem” like mine, and I’ve been surfing and searching for something that could help me all over your blog, but my search was useless.
Please Gala, can you help me with that? This could literally change my outlook on physical beauty and myself, and be the change I needed for a long time.”
I received this email on Wednesday, from a girl called Sophie in Lithuania. All I can say is, Sophie, you wrote to the right girl! You & I are like two peas in a pod, ‘cause you might have noticed that I have a big nose too.
Want to hear something funny? I never knew I had a big nose until someone told me I did! Before that, I just thought it was a nose. I didn’t give it much, if any, thought. It wasn’t until someone felt the need to point it out that I started to look around & notice that not everyone had a nose like mine. In fact, most people’s noses were much smaller. Maybe — horror of horrors — their “normal” noses were cuter than mine!
I can’t lie: I have had my periods of insecurity about my snoot. I have wondered if I should get it “fixed”, googled “nose job before & after”, & pondered if I could really stay shut up inside the house until the swelling & bruising went away.
But then I think about the cosmetic surgery industry, a business which literally profits from our insecurities, & I reconsider. To be clear, I actually have nothing against plastic surgery: I believe our bodies are our own to do with as we please, & it’s all too easy to judge or dismiss anyone who goes under the knife. I do, however, think the whole area is a very slippery slope. There’s a difference between having surgery, & expecting that surgery to change your life or how you feel about yourself. One of these things is not like the others.
Plus, choosing to accept yourself as you are is so much cheaper!
Sophie, if you changed your nose but not your attitude, I’m willing to bet that six months down the track, you’d find something else “imperfect” to fixate on.
No matter who you are, there is always going to be something about you that is not “model-perfect”. Maybe, like us, it’s a nose that demands attention! But perhaps you have a round tummy, or uneven boobs, or ears that stick out. Maybe there’s a part of your body that your average cosmetic surgeon would love to “fix” or “improve”, but would that really add to your quality of life?
Your nose is part of who you are, & I think that with time, you will come to appreciate it. If it helps, you’re not alone! Cleopatra had a big nose too, & she was one of the most devastating beauties in history! Other ladies with sizable snoots include Barbra Streisand, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gisele Bundchen, Penelope Cruz & Sofia Coppola... & they’re all gorgeous, talented, brilliant women. Anyone will tell you that their noses add to their character, not subtract from it.
In the Pensées, Pascal remarks “Cleopatra’s nose, had it been shorter, the whole face of the world would have been changed” (180). Ironically, what he means is that, had her nose been smaller, she would have lacked the dominance and strength of character which, in the physiognomy of the seventeenth century (or, indeed, the nineteenth century), a large nose symbolized. (Source)
The idea of what it means to be beautiful is changing all the time. Right now, we’re all expected to fit into this extremely dull cookie-cutter ideal of big eyes, a small nose, long hair, stick-thin legs, huge breasts & plump lips, not to mention white & young. God forbid you show your face in public once you have some expression lines; once you have, as Clayton Cubitt says, “earned your beauty.” What a yawnfest! Whenever I go to Los Angeles, I’m totally freaked out by the masses of women who have the same face!
I have come to the conclusion that being perfect is boring. It’s a yawn, a snore; tedious & tepid & tiresome. It lacks imagination. The pursuit of perfection is essentially an appeal for acceptance. It cries out for validation. Pick me, pick me! Accept me! I look just like you.
The quest for perfection is a way of flying under the radar. It idealises the unexceptional. It is such a dull way to spend your time… & money!
Realistically, there is nothing you can do — with the exception of surgery — that will change your nose. It will always look the way it does today. But you have the power to change your MIND about your nose, & that is the most fantastic thing! You can decide to love your nose, decide to see it as an asset! View it as something different & wonderful. It’s something that separates you from other people. It’s something that makes you look unique.
A big nose can be just as beautiful — if not moreso! — than a small or average-sized one. It’s all in the attitude: in how you carry yourself, whether you hold your head high or try to shrink into the background.
As for me? I have my good days & I have my bad days. On good days, I see my nose as something that is regal, unusual, distinctive. Sometimes I think it makes me look like an eccentric European countess, & I like that. Mostly, I am able to see my nose for what it is: just a part of my face.
My nose might not be what a plastic surgeon would craft for you, but I have slowly come to appreciate it. Most importantly, my nose links me to my family, & to my father, who I love. That’s good enough for me.
A question for you: What about you or your body have you learned to love, & how did you do it? What are you still struggling with? We’d love to know!
Super-love & super-noses,
13 August 2012, 11:52
Note: This post was first written in January of 2007! I’ve added to it because I am extremely excited about the release of Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel, which will be in cinemas starting September 21st, 2012!
When people ask me who I am inspired by, one of the very first names off the tip of my tongue is Diana Vreeland. She isn’t known to everyone, & she was no great beauty, but then, fame & good looks aren’t everything!
Diana Vreeland was an incredible woman. Born in 1903 in Paris, she spent most of her life in New York & rose to acclaim for her work as fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar & then at Vogue. Later in life, she did a tremendous amount of work for the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Flitting from Paris to London & all over the place, her husband’s job caused them to move to New York City in 1937, & she lived there until her death in 1989.
She was brilliant, & of course, that also means she was a little bit nuts. She pronounced her name not as “Diana” but “Dee-Ann”, & loved to invent words, including “pizazz” & “faction” (a combination of fact & fiction)! She obsessively searched for the perfect red, & wore hair blue-black hair slicked back with lacquer. She believed that a “good hairline” was a hallmark of elegance.
Diana was not a flashy dresser. She appreciated quality & described her ideal outfit thusly: “I’d like to have on the most luxurious cashmere sweater; the most luxurious satin pants, very beautiful stockings, very beautiful shoes — marvelous — & whatever would be suitable around the neck.”
She spent her mornings in bed, dictating & making notes, & usually showed up at the magazine around noon. Diana is the woman who popularised animal print — when a young Yves St Laurent showcased them in an early collection, she was the one who pushed them to the public.
There is so much to love in this photo! The turban with crystal stars, that looooong cigarette holder, the perfectly-manicured hands & chunky rings… It’s too divine!
“I’m terrible on facts. But I always have an idea. If you have an idea, you’re well ahead!” (Diana Vreeland)
Diana wrote a fantastic column for Harper’s Bazaar called “Why Don’t You…?” which offered creative — & not necessarily practical — ideas for its readers. Some of my favourite suggestions are:
Why Don’t You… wear violet velvet mittens with everything?
Why Don’t You… fit your clothes easily? Only English & Americans have this mania for snappy tightness.
Why Don’t You… have an elk-hide trunk for the back of your car? Hermès of Paris will make this.
Why Don’t You… have your cigarettes stamped with a personal insignia?
Why Don’t You… wear, like the Duchess of Kent, three enormous diamond stars arranged in your hair in front?
Why Don’t You… paint a map of the world on all four walls of your boys’ nursery so they won’t grow up with a provincial point of view?
“Vogue always did stand for people’s lives. I mean, a new dress doesn’t get you anywhere; it’s the life you’re living in the dress, & the sort of life you had lived before, & what you will do in it later.” (Diana Vreeland)
Diana styled her environment just as much as the pages of her magazines. From her flaming red living room to her royal blue floral bedroom to her office which was absolutely covered in pictures, they were all an example of her larger-than-life sense of style.
This is what her living room looked like. When she was having it designed, she told a friend, “I want this room to be a garden — but a garden in hell.”
Bettina Ballard said Diana’s living room was “one of the most attractive atmospheres that I know,” comparing it to “an over-crowded Turkish seraglio on a rather elegant boat.” Books, bibelots, calculated clutter, personal pictures (among them, sketches by Augustus John, Bébé Bérard, & Cecil Beaton of herself), & “treasures, many Scotch snuffboxes in horn & silver, are massed on tables, walls, & shelves looking as if one could never get around to seeing them all. A long-stemmed anemone stands in a long-stemmed vase. There are oriental divans against the wall covered with inviting cushions, & she dines at a table pushed against a divan with bright cushions propped behind her back. She presides on a big Indian print-covered sofa like a sultan’s favourite, before & after dinner, with everyone gathered on small chairs at her feet. She lives in an atmosphere of informal luxury confined in crowded quarters, in an aura of intimacy & mystery.”
I absolutely ADORE this photo of Diana in her Harper’s Bazaar office! The best thing is you can barely see her, but for the enormous plume of smoke.
“You gotta have style. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it you’re nobody.” (Diana Vreeland)
She loved to collect old snuffboxes & various treasures.
“For years I am & always have been looking out for girls to idealize because they are things to look up to, because they are perfect,” she wrote in her diary. But since she had never discovered “that girl or that woman,” she announced, “I shall be that girl.” (Diana Vreeland — source)
Rock that pom-pom trim!
What I wouldn’t give for a late-night dinner party with this woman…
“Never worry about the facts. Just project an image to the public.” (Diana Vreeland)
“The idea of beauty was changing,” she said. “If you had a bump on your nose, it made no difference so long as you had a marvelous body & good carriage. You held your head high, & you were a beauty… You knew how to water-ski, & how to take a jet plane fast in the morning, arrive anywhere, & be anyone when you got off.” (Diana Vreeland, on the 1960s)
“Don’t look back. Just go ahead. Give ideas away. Under every idea there’s a new idea waiting to be born.” (Diana Vreeland)
Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel comes out September 21st, 2012.
“Give ‘em what they never knew they wanted!” (Diana Vreeland)
Part of the reason I find Diana Vreeland so inspiring is that she was such an original. Her sense of personal style was strong & she did exactly as she pleased. I really admire anyone who puts themselves out there, without censorship or fear of rebuke. She had many cruel things written about her: journalists mocked her starry-eyed “Why Don’t You…?” column & passed judgment on her appearance, but that doesn’t matter anymore.
Being a critic is easy, but Diana changed the course of fashion forever.
13 August 2012, 11:27
I’m so excited to announce that I have recently started writing a column — Hello, Darling! — which will be appearing fortnightly in the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, Canberra Times, Brisbane Times & WA Today! I’ll be writing about happiness & health every two weeks.
Australia & its inhabitants have always been so good to me. I started galadarling.com from my apartment in Melbourne in 2006, & got my first big break in the form of an Australian Cosmopolitan column, thanks to the brilliant Sarah Wilson. In fact, my first column is all about her!
Even though I only lived in Melbourne for a year & a half, I feel like Australia really took me under its wing. I appreciate that so much!
If you’re not in Australia, never fear! Everyone can read ‘em online! In fact, here’s the first one!
My invitation to write a column for Cosmopolitan magazine could have been lost forever. I fortuitously found it in my spam folder, drowning in a sea of ads for Viagra and offers of sweet Russian mail order brides. It was 2007 and I had just started writing my blog, galadarling.com, a few months earlier.
The offer had been extended by Sarah Wilson, editor of Cosmopolitan at the time. She left the magazine shortly thereafter, to hike the Himalayas or something else utterly unfathomable. I lasted about five issues before a new editor came in and fired all the columnists – myself included. But from that unlikely beginning, Sarah and I struck up a friendship. Despite the fact that I moved from Melbourne to New York City later that year, our friendship grew, bolstered by obsessive blogging, a mutual interest in living the biggest, boldest life possible, and fancy dinners whenever she came to the States… Click to read more!
Thanks, as always, for reading!