5 amazing tools you should use to improve your blogging.

Sometimes it can seem as if whatever you try on your blog you are not getting anywhere. It can be really difficult to turn those creative juices into views and interaction, fortunately there are many tools that can help you put a little extra shine on your content.

Below is a list of the top 5 tools that I personaly use and that have given me a degree of success.

1. Hemingway editor

The Heminway editor is such a useful app that grades the readabilty of your work. It is so easy to use as you can either type your post directly into its editor, or copy and paste your work in afterwards. The idea behind the app is to ensure your blog posts are written in such a way that they are simple to read for all people. The difficulty of sentences is ranked, as well as the number of adverbs used and your use of passive phrases.

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2. Canva

Canva is a free app that allows you to make striking blog covers and interesting social graphics quickly and easily. Using an intuitive drag and drop interface, Canva allows you to pick it up and run with it almost instantly and requires no prior knowledge of graphic design.

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3. Evernote

Evernote is a really useful note taking app that makes keeping track of all of your ideas really easy. A basic personal account is available for free, though you will be charged a small fee for the fully featured bussiness account. The personal account has always been enough for my needs, but if you want to use some of the more advanced collaborative features you may want to go for the bussiness account.

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4. Unsplash

The visual elements of your blog are just as important as the written content. High quality pictures can really take your content to the next level. Unsplash is a great free repository of free, high quality images. This is an excellent alternative to costly stock images, while still giving the high quality that is so important to your blog.

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5. Buffer

Buffer is a useful application with which you can schedule your hashtags, social links and other content to be shared to social media as and when you want. This allows you to have a near constant social media presence without putting in hours of work. It is a simple set up, and Buffer does the work for you.

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5 Ways to improve your sleep.

Getting a good night’s sleep is just as important for our health and wellbeing as having a healthy diet and getting regualr exercise.

Research has shown that poor sleep can have immediate negative effects on exercise performance, hormone levels and brain function.

Good sleep on the other hand, can help improve exercise performance, help you eat less and be generaly healthier.

Here are 5 tips to help you sleep better at night.

1. Control your light exposure.

Studies have shown that increasing your exposure to bright light during the day can have a positive effect on the quality of your sleep. These studies have mainly focused on people with severe sleep issues, but should also help improve your sleep if you have only moderate sleep problems.

The reason bright light exposure helps with sleep is becasue it helps keep your circadian rhythm healthy. Circadian rhythm is also known as your body clock. This helps both night time sleep quality as well as daytime energy levels.

Conversely, reducing blue light exposure in the evening is also known to be beneficial to sleep. Blue light is emmited from electronic devices such as smartphones and computers. It has been shown to negatively effect your circadian rhythm by tricking your brain into thinking it is still daytime. This has an impact on hormone production and means certain relaxing hormones such as melatonin are reduced.

The best way of reducing the impact of blue light is to stop watching TV and turn off bright lights about 2 hours before going to bed.

 

2. Reduce caffeine intake late in the day.

Caffiene is known to have benefits such as increasing energy, focus and even sports performance. Unfortunately these energy boosting properties make it the enemy of good sleep. In one study it was shown consuming caffeine up to six hours before bed had a significant impact on sleep quality.

Caffeine has been shown to stay at elevated levels in the blood for upto 8 hours. Therefore caffeine intake after mid-afternoon is not recommended, especially if you are already having trouble sleeping.

 

3. Be consistent.

Your body’s circadian rhythm works in a set loop, aligning roughly with the sunrise and sunset. Becasue of this it is advisable to try and go to sleep and wake up at consistent times. It is tempting to go to bed and wake up later on the weekends, however studies have shown that those who have irregualr sleeping paterns and who go to bed later on the weekends have a lower quality of sleep.

 

4. Get the temperature right.

Body temperature has a massive impact on sleep quality. When it is too warm it can be very difficult to get to sleep, this is a problem that most people, even those that don’t normaly suffer from sleep problems, experience during the summer. Keeping your room at a constant temperature of around 70 degrees farenheit, or 20 degrees celcius, year round will help you sleep better.

 

5. Relax.

Instead of spending the last couple of hours before bed watching TV or spending time on your phones, it is advisable to spend some time relaxing each evening. Relaxing activities such as reading a book or taking a relaxing bath can lower your heart rate which is known to help you drift off into a deep sleep. Even if you don’t feel like taking a full bath before bed, you could try just bathing you feet in warm water.

Other techniques such as deep breathing and vizulization can also help you relax.

 

Sleep plays such a big role in our health that it should be made top priority if you wish to be in the best health you can be.

Creating compelling content when you’re out of ideas.[Infographic]

So often I sit staring at a plain screen, wondering what I should write about in my latest post. It is always nice to try and create fresh, new content that has not been seen before. Unfortunately, that is a difficult thing to achieve. After all, everything has been written about, or drawn, or sung about or whatever. There is so much content available to all of us, all of the time that it can seem literally impossible to come up with something new. The good news is that you don’t need to come up with completely fresh content, giving your own take on other peoples work is just as useful and allows that work to reach a wider audience.
With that in mind, here is a great info-graphic created by Copyblogger based on work by their very own Danny Iny.

22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

New exercise goals

Having completed my first organised half-marathon on Sunday (9/9/18), I am now moving on to a few new excercise goals. In part because of the cold I had in the week leading up to my half-marathon I was dissapointing unable to acheive a PB, missing out by around 2 minutes. 1hr 47m:00s vs 1hr 45m:16s. Therefore a new half-marathon PB is still one of my goals, however, having spent the last couple of months focusing on longer runs in the build-up to this event it will be nice to be able to spend a little bit more time on shorter distances.

I am now looking at spending the next month or so trying to lower my 5km PB to below 20 minutes, it currently sits at 21m:04s. Along with this I would like to spend a bit more time in the gym doing some strength work as this has been a little bit on the back-burner for the last few weeks. For a while I have toyed with the idea of getting into yoga as a way of improving my flexability. For a stretch, to take me through to the new year I will look at improving my 10km PB as well, currently 45m:13s. Before again taking part in RED January to kick off 2019.

My first organised half-marathon.

Tomorrow (9/9/2018) I will be taking part in my first ever organised half marathon. This feels like a natural progression from the 10km organised runs I have done in the past. Although I have been running as part of my fitness regime for years, I have always found it difficult to motivate myself to really push as hard as I can. Organised runs have helped with this because they have given me a goal to train for, something to look towards.

My preparations for this half-marathon have gone unexpectadely well, for the first time that I can remember I have sustained no injuries whilst training for an event. My performances have greatly exceeded the targets set out in my training plan and I have even found sticking to the plan so much easier than I usually do. One thing I have done this time that differs from my usual training methods is that I have lowered the number of gym sessions I do compared to during non-training times. This has halped reduce burn out which has been a problem in the past. I have only done a couple of weight sessions a week at the gym during this training plan compared to my usual 3 or 4. I have also used other methods of cardio such as cycling as a boost when not running.

This last week I have been suffering from a bit of a cold, which does reduce my expectations for race day a small amount. Even so, I am excitedly hoping that by midday Sunday I will have a new half-marathon PB. I don’t have any future events planned as yet, but hope to find something that I can train towards in the near future.