Fragmented Thoughts

A notebook for half-formed ideas and other things on the mind of Emma Cragg.

I've spent this afternoon revisiting my personal values as part of a strategy session planning what projects I'm going to work on next.

My reason for doing this is simple – without understanding my values, and therefore what is important to me, it's very hard to make decisions about where best to spend my time and what to prioritize.

I've chosen to write out my values as a keyword and supporting statement. That currently looks like this:

  • Integrity; an unwavering belief in who I am and what I have to give.
  • Openness; staying curious and sharing what I learn.
  • Stability; a solid footing from which to grow and thrive.
  • Trust; building on honesty and clear communication as a foundation for all relationships.
  • Connection; building relationships for inspiration, encouragement, energy and empathy.
  • Sustainability; living and working at a sustainable pace, developed through reflection, routine and self-compassion.

With my values clearly articulated, I can go to my list of potential projects and see how they align with them. To do this, I annotate each project with icons (see image below) to represent each value that it fulfils. For example, my weekly newsletter aligns with integrity, openness, trust and connection. This activity helps me to feel more confident in the decisions I make around the projects I prioritize and pursue.


This is day 22 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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Let me say this first – I'm not against self-promotion, you can't be when you are a one-person business, but I believe there are boundaries and when they are pushed it aggravates me.

I'm writing this as a lament because recently one of the most supportive groups I've been involved with has been hijacked by people promoting their new products and services. When I joined it was a place to ask questions, get feedback or recommendations and share ideas. But those kinds of posts are now few and far between, and I miss it. I miss the safe space among peers to ask for, and offer, help.

I know it doesn't have to be this way. I've been, and am (thankfully), part of at least one community that has succeeded in maintaining a peer support space free from marketing. From what I've observed, the reason it succeeds is that all of the following are in place: – clear and visible community guidelines – multiple channels for different topics, rather than a single stream – active moderators, who challenge guideline breaches

Why does this feel so rare though?


This is day 21 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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By my calculations I'm reaching a point where I could legitimately claim to have been blogging for 20 years. I began my blogging journey as a teenager back in the early 2000s. My very first blog was on Diary-x.

I clearly got the blogging bug as after that I've had blogs on: – Tumblr – Blogger – Wordpress (both hosted and self-hosted) – write.as

At any one time I'll have at least two blogs on the go; one more personal and one more professional. I've also set up blogs for specific projects and training programmes. In a past life I even used a blog to teach people how to blog.

I can't say what prompted me to start blogging, but I know why I've continued. A blog is a space to: – think and explore what interests you – develop writing skills and style – express yourself and share ideas publicly – start conversations and get feedback

Can social media or newsletters replace blogs? I don't think so. These other places to write and express yourself are an addition to, not a replacement for, blogs. If anything, I think we're seeing a renaissance of blogging through challenges like 100 Days to Offload that help build the habit and confidence to write, and services like write.as that make it so much easier to publish.


This is day 20 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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When you work from home the boundaries of the work day are often blurred. Without the act of physically changing location it can be hard to switch off from work. Over the years I've developed a set of end of day rituals to help with this.

1. End of day review The very last thing I do at my desk is to write a short review of the day. I answer three questions: – What went well? – What challenged or frustrated you? – What will help you have a good day tomorrow? It helps me to mentally tie up any loose ends and set myself up for the next day. I'll also clear up any papers or notebooks so I can start afresh in the morning.

2. Fresh air and exercise The Urban Wanderer describes the act of walking at the start and end the day when working from home as a reverse commute. I find this particularly effective at the end of the day to help empty my mind of work related things. I'm lucky to have a park on my doorstep and so I'll usually do a few laps of that.

3. Offline activity Spending time away from a screen immediately after finishing work is the best way I know to relax and shift gear. Most days for me this means an hour or so in the kitchen cooking tea. It's an activity that for me signifies the start of my evening.

What rituals do you have to help you switch off from work?


This is day 19 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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Over the years I’ve periodically posted lists of the small, everyday things that I’m grateful for. Along with many other things I’ve chosen to commit to lately is making this a weekly thing.

So without further ado, here’s my first (of this incarnation at least) list of reasons to be cheerful:

  • the honesty of children: “Can we stop Zoom now?” said my nephew part-way through a family birthday call... he got his wish
  • an extra few moments of light in the evening
  • walking on fresh snow
  • getting to that point in a book where all the loose threads start coming together... and you can’t bear to put it down
  • cosy new pyjamas

This is day 18 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

Tags: #gratitude

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I love Saturdays. A day to unwind and have fun. A day to really switch off and relax. Here’s what a typical lockdown Saturday looks like...

  • Wake around 8 and read in bed until I start to get hungry.
  • Breakfast, usually eggs and coffee.
  • FaceTime with my parents to chat and do the crossword. This is something we’d do when we stay with them that we’ve made a weekly ritual during the pandemic.
  • Lunch, usually a homemade soup.
  • Walk, I try to get out every day for an hour or so.
  • The rest of the afternoon is given over to whatever sport is on. Today for example I’ve listened to football on the radio, and watched rugby and football matches.
  • Tea is often leftovers or a takeaway as Saturday is my night off cooking. Tonight we’ve got a rather fine curry I made yesterday. And a couple of beers of course!
  • We round of the day with a film or a board game. Tonight we’re playing a new one; Forbidden Island.

To be fair, I don’t think my Saturdays before the pandemic were that different. You’d just need to factor in a hockey match in place of the walk.

What does your perfect Saturday look like?

— This is day 17 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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Sometimes we can be tempted into thinking that there's a magic item, experience or feeling that will bring us success or happiness. We pin our hopes on it. We work our way steadily towards it.

Sometimes we might reach or attain that magical thing. But when we do, we realise it wasn't that magical after all and we set our sights on something else.

We keep on going. Keep on searching. Keep on learning. And eventually we realise; it's about the journey, not the destination.

When I think of this, it reminds me of a line I once heard in a TV show (Baptiste, I think):

The wind blows Still the world turns

This post was prompted by the latest issue of Sophie Cross' Thoughtfully newsletter.


This is day 16 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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It can be lonely working for yourself. You may see people regularly, but meetings with clients are no proxy for having a team around you.

I'm grateful for the advice I got when I first went freelance to make sure I didn't spend all my time at home in my office. It prompted me to join a local co-working group and attend sessions at least once a month. Later I spent more time co-working, with at least one day per week among the community at Good Space, where I later rented a shared office.

Since the start of the pandemic the ability to go out to co-working spaces and work side-by-side with people has obviously been restricted. Sadly this means that many places, Good Space included, have had to close.

I'm grateful however to other initiatives that create a community for freelancers and other solo-workers. This morning I joined a virtual co-working session run by my local group. Last week I attended daily pomodoro sessions from Othership. And every day I check in with the Leapers community.

There are plenty more communities and sessions like this out there. If you're a freelancer or self-employed and feeling lonely or isolated then I'd pass on the piece of advice given to me – find yourself some co-workers.


This is day 15 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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Something I've been pondering a while is where the line lies between cutting yourself some slack and slacking off.

Is it contextual? Is it time-bound? Is it to do with the difference between needing a break and avoiding a task?

Answers on a postcard please.


This is day 14 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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There used to be a time when I was among the first to sign up to new websites and apps. I was eager to poke around with other early adopters to see what they offered, how they worked and if there were any benefits for my work or personal life. Some stuck. Others didn't.

There's a reticence now. I'm not sure where it comes from. Maybe it's due to my change in circumstance? When I worked in universities, often I was the one in the team who sussed things out and shared new digital tools. I don't have this role now I'm my own boss. Maybe it's down to the sheer volume of new software that is being released every day? There's no way to keep up with it all, so why not let others filter out the dross. Maybe it's a loss of trust? I'm certainly more conscious about what happens with my personal data and the content I create when I sign up to these things. Maybe I've got better ways to spend my time?


This is day 13 of my #100DaysToOffload challenge. Want to get involved? Find out more at 100daystooffload.com

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