Friday, 18 December 2020

Goodbye 2020!


In, oooh about 20 minutes, I'm going to be shutting up shop for another year and heading off on my Christmas break. But before I go, I just wanted to wish you a VERY merry Christmas - eat, drink, enjoy, and say goodbye to 2020 with joy in your heart. It might not be the Christmas you'd planned, but may it be wonderful and magical, whatever you're doing. Thank you so much for all your support over the last 12 months - old customers, new customers, yet-to-be-thinking-about-it customers: each and every one of you. 

Have a great time, and see you all in January! 

Sarah x

Friday, 13 November 2020

Why I'm supporting Adoption UK this year...

Every year I like to support the work of a great UK charity - so for every one of the Personalised Santa Letters and Telegrams that are sold this year, I'll be donating 50p to this year's cause: Adoption UK.

This fantastic charity operates around the UK, supporting adoptive families. They told me: 

"Three quarters of the children adopted today have been removed from their birth families due to abuse or neglect. Adoption alone doesn’t erase the trauma they have suffered, and they find relationships and everyday life incredibly difficult. Adoptive families face daily battles to get the longer-term support and specialist help they need. Since Covid-19 struck, many families have told us they are under even more pressure, feeling increased isolation and are heading towards breaking point. Our advice and support services are a lifeline for struggling adoptive families. They provide the empathy, connection and vital guidance that help make family life manageable and happier again. With funds we raise we will be able to respond to more calls from families in crisis, reach out to those struggling and in need, connect them to other adopters who can help them put the steps in place for a brighter future."

So that means, each and every time you order a Santa Letter or a Santa Telegram, you'll be helping families and children around the country. But, I have a passionate request for you...

Adoption UK are running a fundraising campaign called The Big Give Christmas Challenge. During the campaign, every donation they receive will be DOUBLED - which means that 50p could become £1! But, this will only be possible for orders that are purchased before midnight on December 6th. So, if you're thinking about placing an order for a Letter or Telegram from Santa this year - please, please do it by December 6th if you can. Then your support will be worth twice as much!

Personalised Santa Letters & Telegrams - written and signed by the real Father Christmas, from just £6.99 including P&P


Orders will be open until December 17th, but if you can place your order before midnight on December 6th that would be absolutely fantastic! Click here for full details on the PhotoFairytales site.

Sarah x




Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Be inspired by... November

This month is the one where the festive season can really start to kick in - and often make us all feel a bit stressed and over-whelmed. Before the chaos of Christmas begins, why not take some time to regroup and think about the joy this month brings? It's not just a gateway into Christmas: it's a beautiful month in it's own right. If you're feeling a bit jaded though, and finding it hard to find the joy of chilly November - especially during Lockdown 2:0 - take a look at my brand new Pinterest board this month. It's full of stunning images that really capture the beauty of the month and I know it will leave you feeling inspired - and maybe even ready to pull on your coat and wellies and head out for a lovely autumnal and atmospheric ramble through the countryside - or a stroll through the chilly, misty streets around your home?!


Now is a great time to grab a bit of 'me time' too - long soaks in the bath with a magazine, a glass of chilled wine, and a couple of candles (and a lock on the door!). Why not book an evening to yourself to enjoy the things you've been longing to do for ages? Cosy up and watch that film (don't forget the popcorn and Revels), or pick up that book you've been wanting to read for ages. Plan a lovely, relaxing Sunday brunch with the family - one where everyone just digs in and helps themselves, where the toaster is within arms length and you take time to read the paper or chat. Pause, and collect your thoughts before December arrives and we start to feel the pressure of Christmas.

Start thinking about the family traditions and rituals that make this season so much fun - you may have missed going out to a fireworks display this year, but you can still enjoy gathering your little family together with fun family games, and gorgeous 'picky' food that everyone can help themselves too.

Make November the time when you pause for a moment - take in the wonders of nature, the crispness of the air, the russet shades and bare tree branches, the mist gathering in the fields, the cosiness of coming in through your front door at the end of the day and sinking under a cosy throw and putting your feet up. This is a month all about YOU.

Sarah x


Monday, 9 November 2020

The 2020 Santa Letters & Telegrams are here!

These are not just ANY Santa Letter, they're the REAL Santa Letter (and they also help to support a UK charity every year too)! I know, spend 5 minutes on the internet and there's any number of personalised Santa Letters out there - but can I just tell you, the PhotoFairytales ones are very, very different... 


It's been 12 years now, since Father Christmas first contacted me to ask if I'd be his official outlet. He has great fun writing to children every year, but he also takes it extremely seriously, and spends a lot of time on his very special Letters and Telegrams. He hand signs each and every one, and makes sure he writes the envelope too. Click here to get an idea of the feedback and customer reviews people have sent in - they're just the tip of the iceberg, but they'll give you an idea of how very special his Letters & Telegrams are! 

Plus, each one that is sold also raises money for charity - and this year is no different: I will be donating 50p for every single Letter or Telegram sold to Adoption UK, a wonderful charity supporting adoptive families around the country.

This year has been a little bit strange - in fact, Santa's Workshop has had to work hard to become covid-safe too. (Have you ever tried to get a bunch of elves to socially distance? It's not an easy task!) And because it's been so different this year, Santa wanted to do something new: so he is now going to be sending Christmas Day letters too - which means there are now 3 ways that Santa Claus can write to your little boy or girl (or even your big boy or girl, he often writes to adults too you know)!

His ever-popular personalised Santa Letter Gift Packs are of course back this year - they're already selling fast, and there's only a very limited number available. They're amazing value: a special letter from Santa, a personalised certificate, a chocolate gold coin, a colour-in Christmas card, PLUS 2 extra mystery gifts too. All signed, sealed and posted for just £8.25!


His fun personalised Santa Telegrams are also back this year - and like previous years, there are 3 different options to choose from. So whether you're on the Nice or Naughty List it doesn't matter, Santa will still write to you. And if it's a baby's first Christmas he can send a special Telegram to celebrate (a brilliant little memento for the memory box too)! The Telegrams are just £6.99 including P&P. They're really lovely quality and will be a sure hit with all ages in the lead up to Christmas.


And this year Santa's new personalised Christmas Day Letters are available too. They're a fabulous extra surprise, whether Santa has already written to you or not - so order one as a special 'add on', or just a little surprise all of it's own! Santa will leave the letter on Christmas Eve, ready for your little boy or girl to discover on Christmas morning. They'll be absolutely delighted when they find it, and it will be such a magical start to Christmas Day. These special Letters are just £6.99 including P&P too, so they're brilliant value.



You can find full details of all the Santa Letters & Telegrams on the website by clicking here. Orders close on December 17th (UK deliveries). Don't delay!

Ho, ho, ho,

Sarah & Santa xx


Monday, 2 November 2020

PhotoFairytales has won another award!

I have an exciting announcement! I'm absolutely delighted to let you know that PhotoFairytales has won yet another award: 'Best Online Personalised Gifts & Nursery Decor Boutique', in their Parent & Baby Awards for 2020.


The award is from Lux Life Magazine, which is a quarterly publication focussed on the world and lifestyle of the glamourous, showcasing the best of the best and the latest luxury trends. It's wonderful to be recognised by such a prestigious publication - they said: “All of the winners are entirely focused on a single goal – to provide excellence in their sphere. Congratulations to everyone recognised here and I hope you all have a fantastic 2021 ahead of you.”

So I am, as you can imagine, more than a little bit chuffed with the news - and I want to thank you too, because without your support there wouldn't even be a PhotoFairytales, let alone an award winning one!

Sarah x

Thursday, 1 October 2020

Be inspired by... October

Ah, October - lovely, leaf changing, crisp morninged, shall we put the heating on yet, beware of witches, October...

Autumn is well and truly with us now - but before we get bogged down with the bossy Christmas season, let's revel a bit in the glory that this month brings!

I always think it's quite exciting when you wake up to the season's first frost - or even one of those crisp, foggy mornings. Our first day of October here in Norfolk is a tad dark and damp, but I'm holding out hope for a good frost snap soon (if only to discourage the spiders that seem to have taken over the house!). If you're struggling to enjoy the cold, dark mornings though - and you're pining for the warmth of past summer days - I think my brand new October inspiration board over on Pinterest will help you feel the joy for autumn! It's packed full of gorgeous images that should leave you feeling inspired and in love with this month:

With Halloween on the horizon it's tempting to go all out with the orange pumpkins, but this isn't necessarily the only way to bring a touch of autumn glow to your home this month. Why not look at more muted tones that echo the season: soft browns, warm taupe and neutral creams and greys, gentle sage greens and blues... When you start planning your Halloween decorations, think about perhaps grouping some mini pumpkins and gourds into a bowl, swap floral displays for simple and striking grasses, introduce some beautiful linen and natural wood elements into your home, light some candles for maximum cosiness in the evening too. It's a season for adding warmth, layers and texture.

Scandinavians actually think of this time of year as one of the very best seasons - they'll be marking Brittsommar on October 7th, a day to celebrate that late summer/early autumn warmth, and named after Saint Bridget of Sweden. In fact, as a nation the Danes burn more candles than any other - so why not emulate them? Make lighting a candle in the evening part of your daily routine - a candle is for any day, not just special occasions!

There are a few fun old folk-lore sayings based around the month of October, such as "Rain in October means wind in December", "When berries are many in October, beware a hard winter", and the very charming, "If ducks do slide at Hallowtide, at Christmas they will swim; if ducks do swim at Hallowtide, at Christmas they will slide."

The word 'October' comes from the word 'octo', meaning eight, and dates back to the ancient Roman calendar. It's a month which the Saxons called Wyn Monath... or Wine Month, which sounds a very reasonable way of cosying down for the chilly nights!

Whenever you head outside this month remember to take your phone with you so that you can take some snaps to capture the beauty of the changing seasons: the golden leaves, the early frosts, the low sun - even the beauty of a steel grey sky and that beautiful soft light that it brings.

Now is the time to bring the warmth and sun indoors: take a moment, pause, light some candles, and... relax.

Sarah x

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Buying unique, handmade artisan gifts has never been easier than right now!

It’s always good to try and spot a silver lining, no matter how big the cloud… and there are few clouds bigger than the Covid-shaped one that’s going on right now. The lockdown has definitely seen an upsurge in online shopping - let’s face it, when you can’t (or don’t want to) get out to the shops there’s not much else you can do apart from hit the internet! It’s one of the reasons why sites like Etsy and Folksy have seen such a rise in shoppers - and it also means that buying direct from artists, designers, makers and creators has never been easier. 


Whilst the craft fairs, pop up galleries and Christmas markets may not be happening this year, there’s still a world of talented local makers that can be discovered on the internet. If you want to buy really locally, Folksy even has a dedicated section on the site that allows you to search for makers that are in your county! If you click here, you'll find their special regional section where you can discover makers that are right in your area.

It’s great to be able to meet the maker or designer in person, of course - but buying online doesn’t have to be impersonal, especially when you’re buying from an independent artist or designer. In fact, I know that many of the sellers on Folksy love to hear from customers and are always happy to deal with questions. Speaking personally, if I know that a customer is looking for something specific, or wants a little tweak here or there to one of my designs, I’ll always do everything I can to be adaptable. And that’s not something you get when you buy in a shop!

Just think about the hours and hours you've spent over the years, walking around shop after shop. Buying your parking ticket, getting sore feet, buying something on the spur of the moment and then thinking twice about it when you get home... we've all been there! Imagine instead walking into a shop and asking the staff to bring you a comfy chair, then getting them to parade every item in the store in front of you - preferably organised by price so that you can stick within budget. And in a certain colour or size. And not something you've seen before. And if they do show you something that fits the bill, you want them to be able to provide all the details about it: what it's made from, whether it comes in different styles or colours, where it was made - in fact, it would be nice if they could nip out the back and bring out the person who made it so that they could answer all your questions. And while they're there, maybe you could ask them if it's possible to have it made in a different colour because Auntie Annie likes dark blue more than sky blue... Imagine that world! Well, you don't really have to imagine it because it's right there on the internet.

It’s always exciting when you receive your online order through the post too - opening and unwrapping the parcel, seeing the item inside that you ordered in real life… but buying online from an artisan or designer takes it to a whole new level! More often than not, you’ll discover layers of pretty tissue paper, a little heartfelt ‘thank you’ note from the seller, and maybe even a little unexpected treat inside the parcel too. It all adds up to the drama and excitement of unwrapping and revealing that gorgeous, unique item you purchased - very often, one that’s actually been made especially for you. It’s a fabulous feeling!

If you’ve started thinking about Christmas, and how you can make it extra special this year, I definitely encourage you to turn towards the independent crafters and designers for inspiration. They’re usually ahead of the curve in terms of design too, mingling traditional technique with up to date design. So if you want something that is not only unique but also stylish, you won’t be disappointed. Whether it’s traditional or contemporary that you like, there’s never been a better time than now to discover a world of talent online. Here's just a tiny selection of some of my favourite Folksy finds to give you a flavour of what you can find:

Featured sellers: Hugo and Bertie, LilliputWight, Anna Palamar Designs, The Silver Tree, The Fern Press, The Essential Soaps

Like me, many sellers have their own websites, but if you don’t know where to start to find these designer-makers the very best place to start is Folksy. Like Etsy, it’s packed with just about every kind of artist, crafter, designer and artisan you could wish for - but unlike Etsy, it’s very strict about what items are permitted on the site, so you won’t find anything mass produced masquerading as ‘handmade’! Take a look at the site to discover a wealth of delights: from ceramicists to weavers, artists to wood turners, bag makers to jewellery designers: you name it!

Your only issue will be choosing what to buy...

Sarah :)

 

Friday, 28 August 2020

Be inspired by... September

September is a strange, transitional month - we notice that evenings are getting darker sooner, and even though the sun still feels warm there can be a little shiver in the air every now and then... I love the months that bring a change in the seasons, and September is the gateway between summer and autumn.

I've created a special Pinterest board for you, full of stunning images inspired by September - they're sure to get you in the mood for welcoming in this glorious new month, and I know they'll leave you feeling totally excited about the changing season. Click the image below to view the September board, or click here - and while you're there, don't forget to follow my account of course!

September autumn aesthetic home decor

Whilst you may not be ready yet to pack away the shorts and garden chairs, and you still hold out hope for a last minute barbecue in the sunshine, it's quite exciting to think of the chilly days ahead (or is that just me?). No more being hot and flustered, now you get to wear that favourite jumper, treat yourself to a hot chocolate without people looking at you strangely, and wonder if the central heating is going to work after all these months being switched off... actually, that reminds me I need to book in the annual boiler checkup... where was I? Oh yes, waxing lyrical about the coming autumn!

And to be fair, I think lots of us enjoy autumn a lot - even the sun worshippers! (And we may even be lucky enough to experience one of those autumn sunshine weeks - the Indian Summer - when the weather is warm and the leaves on the trees are showing their golden colours in all their glory.)

September autumn aesthetic home decor

It's a time to start bringing those cosy autumnal colours into your home too - swap flowers with dried grasses and flowers, pop a cosy new cushion on the sofa, treat yourself to a new print for the wall to introduce a fresh touch to a room... little touches that mark the beginning of an exciting new season. Create a little hygge corner in your home and welcome in the season in all its glory. 

September Autumn Decor Wall Art Print

Take inspiration from the low setting sun, enjoy the shadows cast over the garden, relax and find the calm and comfort in your home: it's been a refuge for many of this over the past few months and now is the time to enjoy the shelter it gave us and be thankful for the coming new season.

Why not make the most of the last of the summer sun and head out this weekend to explore? Go for a walk at a time of day you wouldn't normally think of: first thing in the morning before anyone else is awake, or just as dusk is settling in (it's a great time of the day to glimpse into people's windows as you walk past by the way... just saying...). Start remembering all those cosy meals you only cook in the colder weather: no one really fancies a salad in the autumn, so start planning some cosy stews, tasty homemade soups, and gorgeous roast dinners! 

So, release that inner child and when the leaves do finally fall of the trees head out and give them a good kick - go on, you know you want to!

Happy autumn,
Sarah :)

 

Thursday, 27 August 2020

5 of the Best 'Missing You' Gift Ideas under £25 to Buy Now

I bet there are friends and family you’ve missed recently - some you may not have seen for months and months. My own parents live on the other side of the country, and due to shielding we haven’t seem them since Christmas. It’s a weird old time!

It’s lovely to be able to send our loved ones a little something through the post to let them know how much we’re thinking of them. It doesn’t have to be huge or expensive, it just needs to be something thoughtful that will brighten their day and let them know we’re thinking of them.



I’ve put together this collection of my top 5 gifts ideas for those we miss the most - there are many more on the website, but these are amongst my personal favourites...

1: 'Positivity & Courage' Print £10
Created to order, other designs also available



2: Personalised Family Tree Plaque, from £19.95 
Handmade to order, various colours available



3: Mini Wooden Message Plaque, £12.95 
Handmade, many other designs available, choice of shapes & colours - beautifully gift boxed



4: 'Good Friends' Print, from £17.95 
Available as a canvas, mounted print (also available as wood block - click here for details)



5: Personalised Mugs, £13.50 
Various beautifully illustrated designs available to sort all ages and occasions



This is just a small round up of my favourite 5 Missing You gift ideas - if you'd like to see more head over to the PhotoFairytales website by clicking here and have a good browse through all my other great gift ideas.

Stay safe,
Sarah :)










Monday, 20 July 2020

Mini Weddings during Covid - Gorgeous Gift Ideas under £25

Now that weddings are back on (albeit in a pretty minimal way), many couples are having to adapt the plans they made months ago when the world was such an incredibly different place. Quite understandably some couples have decided to postpone their big day, but others are keen to have their wedding day despite it all: and good for them! These covid-era weddings are going to be much smaller affairs, perhaps with a bigger celebration planned for the future when things are back to normal. 

These small wedding days and mini civil partnership ceremonies are every bit as special though, and I think they present a need to find an equally special gift. Just because you can’t be there with the bride or groom in person, doesn’t mean you can’t send them a special keepsake to help them celebrate their important ‘small wedding’ day!

Mini Weddings During Covid - Gorgeous Gift Ideas Under £25

Here’s a collection of thoughtful, meaningful and special wedding gift ideas for you to send to those couples getting married in summer 2020…

Mini Weddings During Covid - Gorgeous Gift Ideas Under £25

Personalised Wooden Circle Plaque, £23.95
Handmade to order and available in a choice of colours

Mini Weddings during Covid - Gorgeous Gift Ideas under £25
'We Begin Our Adventure' Personalised Print, from £15.95
Created to order, available in a choice of sizes

Mini Weddings during Covid - Gorgeous Gift Ideas under £25

Personalised Wedding Sign, from £18.50
Available in a choice of sizes and designs, for indoor/outdoor use

Mini Weddings during Covid - Gorgeous Gift Ideas under £25

'Home is Where We Are' Mini Wooden Message Plaque, £12.95
Handcrafted and beautifully gift boxed, range of designs available


Personalised 'Ticket to Happiness' Print, £15.95
Created to order, various designs available

For more gorgeous personalised wedding gift ideas for the bride or groom, visit the Wedding Gift Collection on the website by clicking here.

Sarah x




 


Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Gift Ideas for Key Workers under £20

Thank you gifts for key workers... not a phrase you'd probably thought of at the start of this year!

Right now there are a lot of us that have quite a bit to be thankful for - whether we’ve battled through illness, juggled home schooling with home working, been forced to be inventive over dinners thanks to the lack of food staples in the shops, or struggled with isolation and all the anxiety that has brought - there’s barely a single one amongst us that hasn’t had a tough time over the last few months.

And then there are the ones that have helped us through all this: the NHS and care workers, the teachers and supermarket staff, the postal workers and emergency services, the utility workers and transport staff, and many more besides - all those that have kept things going through thick and thin.

Personalised Gift Ideas for Key Workers Under £20

As things are starting to slowly ease and life is beginning to look a bit more normal, now is the perfect time to let those key workers know how much we appreciated them during lockdown. I wanted to create a handpicked collection of ways to say ‘thank you’ to these heroes in disguise. Whether it’s the teacher who shone during lockdown, the nurse who was there in a time of crisis, the postie who kept the post arriving - whoever it is, this collection of personalised gifts are a great way to say a special thank you to that key worker and show your appreciation.

Gift Ideas for Key Workers Under £20
Heritage Blue Plaque - £17.95
Made to order and personalised with any wording

Gift Ideas for Key Workers Under £20
Mini Wooden Message Plaque - £12.95
Hand crafted to order, beautifully gift boxed, 18 designs to choose from


Gift Ideas for Key Workers Under £20
'I'm Kind of a Big Deal' Personalised Prints - from £15.95
Personalised with any message and name, range of colours and sizes

Gift Ideas for Key Workers Under £20
'Elephant' Personalised Mug - £13.50
Personalised with your own wording front and back, range of designs available

'Bee's Knees' Wooden Sign - £14.95
Freestanding or wall mounted wooden signs, range of colours and designs

If you want more 'thank you' gift ideas, click here to take a look at the range of gifts over on the site. Everything has free UK delivery too!

Sarah x






Wednesday, 1 July 2020

WOW: 32 brand new gifts and designs just landed!

How are we all doing? Keeping well? Everything is ticking along nicely here at PF HQ... it's been a busy few weeks, and I managed to add to the pressure by deciding to introduce lots of brand new goodies to the site, and give the home page a nice little makeover whilst I was at it! (You know when you have those ideas that seem good at the time, and then a month in you're wondering where all the hours in your day are going?!)

Because we've all been kept so far away from loved ones and friends recently, I wanted to create a Missing You Gift collection too - full of gift ideas ranging from the heartfelt to the cheery.

Personalised Missing You Gift Ideas
Personalised 'Good Friends' print - available as a canvas or art print


I now have a Get Well Soon Gift collection too, with some sweet and thoughtful personalised present ideas for friends and loved ones who might be poorly at the moment.

Personalised Get Well Soon Gift Ideas
Mini Wooden Message Plaques - beautifully gift boxed, range of designs


Whilst most children haven't been at school over the last months, I know that lots of you want to send you thanks to the teachers who've been working so hard - either remotely or in person with our key worker's children. So head over to my Gifts for Teachers section to find something special to say thank you at the end of this weird old school year!

Personalised Teacher Thank You End of Term Gift Ideas
Personalised Gift Mug - wide range of designs available


If you want to see all the new additions, click here to visit the What's New section of the site where I've laid out all the new gift ranges and designs in one easy to find place.

Brand New Personalised Gifts and Prints
'Positivity and Courage Rainbow' Art Print - other designs also available


I also wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you - for your continued support, for all your lovely orders, and for your patience when orders didn't get delivered quite on time (although thankfully Royal Mail are a LOT more on top of things now!). If you're anything like me, your jeans are a bit tighter since March, and your hair has taken on a bit of a 'thatched' look, but we're still here, still standing, and still keeping calm and carrying on.

Sending love your way: stay safe and stay well.

Sarah x


Wednesday, 1 April 2020

NEW 'Post For You' Service on all Personalised Cards

I know lots of you are stuck at home isolating at the moment, which means even something basic like posting a card to friends or family becomes an issue. So, I've introduced a brand new service add-on to my range of personalised cards - a 'post for you' option.

This means I will hand write the envelope for you and post the card to your loved one 1st class - you don't have to even venture as far as the postbox!

New Post For You Service available on all personalised greeting cards!

I'm hoping this will prove useful now while everyone is struggling with Covid, but also at any time (because queuing up in the post office just to buy a stamp is no one's idea of fun!).



I've also just added loads of new personalised card designs to the site, so there are lots of lovely cards to choose from for all sorts of occasions. Every card can be personalised on the front, and can also feature a personal message on the inside too. The cards are a lovely size, professionally printed, and dispatched quickly within just one working day.



Create your perfect personalised greeting card today - and if you need me to, I'll even post it to the recipient for you too!

Stay home, stay safe - shop online.

Sarah :)




Thursday, 26 March 2020

Top 5 tips for working from home

Thousands of people across the country (and the world) are finding themselves working from home now. Whilst this is temporary and life will be back to normal after coronavirus (honestly, it will, this will pass), it can be really hard to adapt to working in a home environment, especially when you’re sharing it with the whole family and you can’t just get up and leave the house to get away from it all - and even more so when it wasn't planned!

I’ve been working from home for about 11 years now and I know from experience how hard it can be to stay focussed and productive. So I want to give you some really practical home working tips that, through trial and error, I’ve worked out and realised over the years in the hope that they might help you too… you can survive working from home, trust me!



Your work area: If you have the space, establish a work area - whether it’s a proper desk, the dining room table, a piece of board over your lap Roald-Dahl-style, whatever. That way you can walk away from it (or commute, if you will!). It’s important to be able to get work out from under your nose at the end of the day. If you can’t physically shut a door on the room you work in, make sure you clear and tidy your work area at the end of every day. Even if that just means stacking paperwork into neat piles, putting the lid of your laptop down and putting your pens in a pot, it will make it feel less intrusive when you walk past it during your days off or evenings, and it’ll make everything feel more controlled (in an already chaotic time). Working from home is all about creating divides between work-life and home-life. That’s easy to achieve when you work in a different building, but you have to consciously make the effort when you work from home - otherwise home and work can blend and you’ll never be able to switch off properly. At a time like this, when we can’t just go out whenever we want, that’s more important than ever.



Get yourself comfortable: Make sure you’re working in enough light - whether that’s natural light (ideally) or an improvised table lamp. If you find yourself frowning or working in your own shadow because the window is behind you, that’s far from ideal. You might be improvising with a dining chair that’s not the right height, so if that’s the case make sure you sit up straight (I’m world class at hunching over my desk, so I know how easy it is to end up with backache and a stiff neck at the end of the day!). Stand up and walk around the room at regular intervals. And don’t make yourself too comfy: whilst it might be tempting to put the coffee machine on the table next to you, it’s better to keep it where it is so that you’re forced to get up and move to get yourself a drink! But remember, chances are you’re going to be working from home like this for a few weeks, so make yourself comfortable and create an environment that’s as pleasing to work in as you can.



Keep to regular hours: If you’ve got very young children or others in your home that need attention I know this can be really hard. When I first started PhotoFairytales I worked from the kitchen table and my daughter Amy was very little. Even little things like her interrupting me to ask for a biscuit would cut through my concentration and it would take time to get ‘back in the zone’. If your children are old enough to understand and cooperate, try working in hourly chunks that mimic their own school routine. At the end of each hour you make yourself available - and maybe even have a 15 minute ‘playtime’ with them. That way they have a routine, the same as you. You might find yourself getting up a bit earlier to do some work before they wake up, or working later after their bed time - but just make sure you’re not tempted to dip in and out of work when you shouldn’t be. Turn your phone off, turn the laptop off, make yourself step away when you’re ‘out of hours’. When you go out to work there are structures to your day: the commute, the lunch hour, the clocking off time. But when you work from home those things can get blurred. You might not be able to stick to the same hours as usual, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a bit of routine (having a proper lunch hour is a good place to start). Maybe think about setting an alarm on your phone to remind you when to ‘go home’ at the end of the day: bzzz bzzz, home time!



Happiness is still important: Bring in a bit of what my Amy calls ‘the aesthetics’… put a nice plant by your workspace, get yourself some nice pens to write with, a pretty pot to put them in, a nice ‘work’ mug. Whatever little touches you can add that makes the environment more pleasant to work in. Chances are you’re going to be working from home for a few weeks, so you may as well make the best of things.



Dress the part: It’s so easy to just work in your pyjamas - or even get so engrossed in work you forget to brush your hair or teeth (I’m speaking from experience here, trust me on this). So, every morning make sure you get dressed just as you would if you were going to work (I mean, you don’t have to do the full shirt-and-tie-power-suit thing, but dress like someone might be coming round to the house and you wouldn't want to be caught on the hop). It sounds crazy, but the act of getting properly dressed makes you feel like you’re going to work. And it means that in your downtimes like the weekends and evenings you can still get that relaxed feeling. For example, I work from home but I never wear slippers during the day. I have a pair of shoes that I never wear outdoors, but they feel like shoes and that makes me feel different - and act different - during the day. They’re less comfy - so at the end of the day when I’ve finished work I take them off and put my slippers on - and that’s my sub-conscious indicator that tells my brain it’s now relaxing time! (I’m confessing all my secrets here, you do realise that?!)



Bonus tip: This one is all about distractions… How houseproud are you? Do you make the beds every day? Keep the carpets hoovered?  Keep things basically tidy at home? If not, you might want to get on top of things a bit. It’s hard to keep focussed when out of the corner of your eye there’s a pile of dirty plates in the sink. So every day, allot 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes in the evening to do a swift tidy. Make the beds, do a sweep of the rooms and pick up anything that doesn’t belong - even if that just means chucking stuff in a box until later, just get it out of sight. I’m not suggesting you do a full clean of your house, just a straighten up. Rope in other family members and get them to pull their weight too. It’s easy to get distracted by housework when you’re supposed to be working - personally, I find the washing is the main culprit for this: I’ll find myself dashing to the washing machine to get the next load on, or get it pegged in the garden while the sun’s shining. That’s fine, it gives me a reason to step away from my studio and straighten up and switch my focus - but I draw the line at shoving the hoover around when I should be answering emails. That sort of thing can wait - when I’m at work, I’m at work. You’re spending a lot of time in your home right now so keep it organised, delegate chores if you can, only do housework during out-of-hours - a tidy home is a tidy mind!

Also, does your phone constantly ping and buzz with notifications from social media? These might be a nice distraction normally, and you might have a routine of checking your Instagram or Facebook account during your lunch break, but they can cut across your concentration if you’ve got your phone beside you because you’re working from home.  Think about switching it off or muting the notifications - you’ve probably got enough distraction going on in your home with kids and partners interrupting you, so you don’t want to add to it with notifications that an old school friend has just seen a squirrel in their garden (or whatever)!



Above all though, remember this isn’t going to be forever. It’s a strange moment in time that we’ll all remember, but it will become a memory and life will go on.

Stay in, stay safe.

Sarah x

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