How would you describe your YouTube journey and your current career
I started my blog and YouTube channel back in 2010, so I’m an old timer around these parts! These days I’m a YouTuber, blogger and just general online content-creator, plus a podcaster and an author.
What inspired An Edited Life?
I’ve always loved organisation and my mates would ask me to come round and help them when they moved, or to sort out their wardrobes. I began sharing these tips online; firstly about beauty storage and then my readers really wanted to know the granular – what do I do with my Tupperware boxes? My cleaning supplies? My sentimental things up in the loft? How do I sort my calendar? I realised that all of these things I had tips and tricks for, so why not put them in a book?
Did you consider any other types of book for your debut?
Whilst I love a good picture-laden coffee table book, I always knew that if I wrote a book that it would be a wordy one. An Edited Life is 80k words! Nine months of being attached to my laptop!
If you had to recommend an area of life for someone to edit first…. which would it be?
You know what we all have that can easily be sorted and feels so satisfying? The shit drawer. It’s usually in our kitchens and is completely crammed with takeaway menus, Alan keys, birthday candles, coins, batteries and stationery. Having a sort through one of the messiest parts of our homes can really spur us on to organise others.
You speak in the book about digital detoxes and truly stepping away from your phone for a day and how best to do it. Have you ever felt suffocated by the following you have built?
I share the parts of my life online that I can take criticism on, and then hold back on areas where I know that any form of negativity will give me a serious knock. It’s taken time to develop that skill, but ultimately I feel like it’s allowed me to truly appreciate my readers and my platform, and safeguard myself from the common pitfalls of the online world.
Vlogging is so closely associated with consumerism and hauls – was there a tipping point that inspired you to begin editing your life more?
Marie Kondo’s best-selling book was a huge inspiration for me. We’d just moved home and we’d bought so much stuff with us. So much stuff that we didn’t need or know that we owned! Whilst I’d always been pretty neat and tidy, that definitely propelled me to the place of ‘living with less’.
How do you manage PR packaging and approaches now?
Whilst gifts are lovely – I’m a one woman band with just one face, so I give 90% of the items I’m sent to friends and family. They’re pretty oversaturated these days too, but they still fight over mascaras, hand creams and pillow sprays. It’s actually like a focus group and they love giving me their feedback on items they’ve tried. My Grandma even makes notes!
Do you find thinking of new, inspiring content harder now you live a more edited life
I go through fits and starts when it comes to new ideas. Sometimes it’s like squeezing blood out of a stone and other times I can’t stop myself from writing notes and lists. I find inspiration from the everyday – cookbooks I’m enjoying, a new way to organise my spice rack (lame, but true!) – so I try not to panic too much when dry days happen and take a step back to have a moment to recalibrate.
Did your podcast, At Home With… inspire the book / did you have any takeaways from how different people chose to structure their homes and their lives?
My Co-host Lily, and I are terribly nosy so we really enjoyed visiting people’s homes and taking a peek into their lives for our podcast ‘At Home With’. What struck me most was how people really put love into making their homes a haven. Things aren’t cluttered, they are what makes a home individual to each of us, so I really wanted the book to reflect that and not impose a set of rules for people to rigidly stick to. Instead, it’s about editing your belongings to a point that makes your home yours, and makes you happy.
Do you think the recent social media rules will help break down the relationship between social media and encourage people to think more about their ‘wants’?
I really believe that the recent CMA rules around sponsorships and gifting are a great advance in the industry that will help increase the transparency between content creators and their readers. I look forward to seeing how the changes develop the relationships and trust between us all.
Apart from your own, are there any communities online that you engage with and appreciate?
I love the food community. It’s fun! It’s creative! It’s welcoming! It invites you to experiment and get down in your kitchen. I love it. The Bon Appetite YouTube channel is one of my favourites.
What is your relationship with your mental health and your own sense of wellbeing? Would you say this is knocked if the structure you have set in place goes awry?
Totally. I feel at my best when I feel on top of everything; both socially and with work. I hate feeling behind or stressed with my workload. So in those moments, I’ve learnt how best to prioritise my time and to give myself a bit of a break too, to try and rebalance the scales and my wellbeing. It’s a balancing act and we’re all always learning!
Do you have a finsta or any personal social media channels where you feel you can be slightly less curated?
I enjoy keeping things on Instagram Stories a little bit more relaxed and I love how instant the engagement is on there. I love to make people laugh and have fun flicking through my DMs and chatting to readers about things that have tickled us, or that they relate to.
How do you feel your relationship with fitness has changed over the years and how do you find it benefits your mental health?
I never really exercised when I was younger, but as I reached my mid-twenties and work started to really pile up I realised that I needed to take up something that allowed me time away from my desk and could double up as stress-relief. Exercise is perfect for that. When I started I thought it was all about the high-intensity sweat-inducing stuff, but these days I realise that the correct exercise format for you is whatever you enjoy and what makes you feel good. Reformer Pilates is now my form of relaxation and exercise. Whenever I’m feeling overwhelmed I realise that it’s because it’s been too long between sessions!
Which apps do you genuinely use and which would you recommend?
The latest iOS update includes a screen-time tracker on the homepage and checking that throughout the day has really helped me to become more mindful with my scrolling. A lot of what I do with my job is done on my phone, but I’m aiming for less than three hours a day and through checking-in with my screen time often it’s a goal that I can now reach without too much bother. A day when it’s under an hour feels wonderful.
How do you think we can encourage more positive attitudes towards saving money and mindful spending?
The game-changer for me was downloading my bank’s app on my phone and getting into the habit of checking my bank balance everyday. It becomes so easy to see where you’re spending and the habits that can be cut down on to save money. The less I’ve buried my head in the sand with it all, the easier budgeting has become. Knowledge is power and all that.
You talk in the book about self-care and wellbeing – at Gurls Talk we champion Self Care Sunday as a way to ensure people take time for themselves. Do you have a Self Care Sunday routine and if so, what does it involve?
I love a bit of self-care. I always feel out of sorts if a week or two goes by and I haven’t had some time to myself to groom, but more importantly, relax. It’s cliche, but you can’t beat a bath. I throw in some bath salts, soak while reading a book and take as long as I possibly can in there.
Are there any areas of your home that you allow yourself to be less curated than others
Definitely. I really love sentimental things. Photos, letters from my Grandparents when I was uni, notes from mates at school, cards, polaroids, an old dress that I wore on my 18th birthday – I keep them all! They make me happy whenever I look through them and so they totally work as part of an edited life for me. I just vow, where possible, to display, use and enjoy them as much as possible. I keep all my photos in albums and love having a flick through them when I fancy a nostalgia fix.
An Edited Life by Anna Newton (Quadrille, £16.99) is out now on Amazon and in all good bookshops