Reflections on Blooktober

There are still four days left on October, but I figured I would go ahead and get put my thoughts on Blooktober out there, since today is the due date of the book proposal contest that I was entered into.

I slowly started to accept over the past week that I was not going to be a contest participant, even though I wrote at least two posts about my determination to do so. I guess I could be slightly embarrassed since I said I would but now I am not, but more than anything I just feel relieved. continue…

Turn Your Home into Your Own Spa

It is really nice to go to a spa, but also really expensive. Day to day life can get stressful, and going to a spa once every few years, if that, isn’t gonna cut it.

Who says you have to pay a ton of money to feel relaxed? Here are a few around the house ideas to kick off a relaxing weekend, or break a stressful day: continue…

Rewards for Good Behavior

I have read many tips in books, magazines, and blogs about the concept of rewarding yourself for doing something good. I have tried to keep lists (I guess I am kind of a list nut) of ideas of rewards for myself to choose from whenever I am trying to convince myself to do something I don’t really feel like doing.

My rewards aren’t all that extravagant: a bath, time to read, a trip to Starbucks, watch an episode of Parenthood or Glee, or watch my favorite YouTube channels. I kind of do these things on a regular basis these days anyway. I am working on associating them with other things I sometimes don’t feel like doing, but want to have done. continue…

A Trick to Start Good Habits

Some things that are good for us aren’t particularly fun. I don’t love taking vitamins or flossing my teeth, and even though I enjoy yoga and walking, many days I don’t feel like it. But I almost always feel better afterwards.

It takes work to maintain health and peaceful surroundings, but once the work is done, there are generous rewards to those who put in the effort. continue…

Car Maintenance Organiziation

I have gone major Blogtober MIA. I am trying to think of something special to do to make up for it as Blogtober draws to a close over the next week!

An organization project that has been on my mind for quite some time is how to organize car maintenance documentation. This project is somewhat of a companion to glove compartment organization, as the glove compartment tends to become the catchall for car maintenance documents.

I am not particularly passionate about car maintenance, but I am passionate about organization. I am finding that just about any undesirable task can become fun when placed into the context of something else you actually care about. For me, that something else is figuring out how to organize things in a way that is user-friendly and makes sense to me. continue…

Garage Organization Project: It’s a Start

I kind of love cleaning out garages. When I go for walks and other people’s garage doors are up, I always have to look in because I am so curious what they look like. Some are pretty organized with shelves and storage bins, and some are major disaster areas. I hate to call someone out, but there is at least one garage near me that is packed from the house right up to the garage door. I don’t even think there is a path to walk through!

Now is the Time

Our garage really isn’t all that bad, but it could use some work. We have only lived here for a few years, so there isn’t a crazy amount of stuff accumulated out there. Even so, recently I have been thinking about what organizing projects I would like to complete and the garage is definitely on the list.

It is the perfect time of year for garage organization. The weather is just right for being outside, and with the holidays coming up, I would love to get everything organized to make the Christmas decorating time this year much more enjoyable. It has been on my mind for a few weeks now, but I keep telling myself I don’t really have time to take on such a large project with all of the other things I am trying to get done on top of working full-time.

Yesterday I decided that it is very unlikely that I am going to just happen across this blissful day where I have nothing else to do but organize the garage before Thanksgiving. I will just have to make the time to do it. continue…

Email Miniseries: Reducing the Clutter

To wrap up the Email Miniseries, I would like to focus on the concept of excess items in an email inbox as clutter, and ideas to minimize the clutter. Think of your email inbox as a messy (or very messy, depending on the number of emails in the inbox) room or garage.

Close your eyes and picture a garage that is a total disaster area. How does it make you feel? Now, take that same garage and imagine it perfectly cleaned out and organized. Perhaps there is an item or two that has just been in use out of place, but otherwise, everything is in order. It is your dream garage.

Now think of your email inbox. How does it make you feel? Before I started clearing my email inbox to empty, I always felt like I was missing something, or emails that didn’t make me feel particularly good would subtly haunt me while they sat there. I never felt in control. It was very unsettling.

If you feel completely overwhelmed by an email inbox, there is an answer. continue…

Email Miniseries: There is a Better Way

The problem of email overload is multifaceted and extremely varied between and within individuals. A person with a full-time job probably faces different email challenges from even a part-time employee, and the nature of a person’s work will also factor into the equation of how much email is delivered to them on average in a day. The majority of us also have to deal with managing personal email accounts, which come with a whole separate set of challenges than those of the workplace. Although there are still some people who don’t have a personal email account (who I am starting to think are actually the smart ones), it is pretty uncommon, and probably looked at as being a little weird. Well, whoever said being weird was wrong?

Take Leo Babauta, for example. This man is one of my heroes. He went from being out shape, in debt, and a slave to his job, to being this zen guru who runs everyday, lives debt free, and creates his own work, running amazing, successful blogs with millions of followers of his thoughts on the simple way of life. He writes about simple email in his book The Power of Less. He is now to the point where he doesn’t even have an email account, but he still makes it in this world. Funny, huh?

I am not planning on giving up my email accounts anytime soon (although I am not convinced that would be the worst thing in the world), but I have come up with my own plan to manage the constant stream of thoughts and ideas that are delivered to me on a daily basis. continue…

Email Miniseries: You’ve Got Way Too Much Mail

The email series will be more of a miniseries, but I figured I had so many things to say about email that it wouldn’t all fit into one post.

Does anyone else ever feel totally defeated and beaten down by their email inbox(es)? I can’t be the only one. I am one person, and my email inbox is 100 people asking for a piece of me, my life, my time, my soul. Okay, so it’s not quite that dramatic anymore, but I have lived through my own personal email black hole. I often wonder what other people’s inboxes look like when I send an email. Isn’t that weird? I ask myself, how do they do it?

What’s in your email inbox?

Emails can fall into one or more of the following categories: tasks, reference material, and unnecessary communication. As managers of often multiple email inboxes, it is our job to identify which type of information we are dealing with, and move each item along to its final destination as quickly as possible. An email inbox is a queue to process just as a task list is. It is not a filing system. continue…

The Bliss of Zero Email

I watched the movie You’ve Got Mail the other day. I love that movie, and it is pretty funny to remember how email used to be at that time when it was so new: a concept that was more of a novelty than an obligation. Somewhere within the past fifteen years email inboxes have exploded into completely unmanageable hosts for information and digital communication overload. continue…

Meditation Mondays (On Tuesday!): Things to Bring to Meditation

I totally failed to post yesterday! First Blogtober fail. So I am making it up by posting twice today. Hopefully the Blogtober gods will forgive me.

I like to keep things as simple as possible. One of the reasons I really like to do yoga, walks, and meditation as part of my personal health and well-being plan is because they require very little, if any, equipment, and can be done just about anywhere you go. I usually do yoga in my pajamas in the morning, followed by as much meditation as possible (20 minutes is the ideal amount of time for me), also in pajamas.

I really have no excuse not to meditate, but just like everything else, it can get neglected, despite how easily accessible it is to take just a few minutes to calm the mind. Although you really don’t need anything to meditate, here are a few things I have found help enhance the experience for me. continue…

Glove Compartment Organziation

I recently got in the mood to organize my car glove compartment. When I got my new car insurance card the other day, I opened the glove compartment and started going through the contents, and decided I would like to get that place organized once and for all. Plus, it is starting to feel like fall, so car organization was a good excuse to get outside!

I did a major glove compartment clean out a few years ago when I started getting serious about going paperless. I decided I probably didn’t need all the papers in the glove compartment and discovered that I didn’t even know what half the stuff in there was. The car actually used to be my parents’, and I even discovered papers from previous cars that they no longer owned! Shocking! I scanned in whatever I felt might be useful someday (update: I have never once referred to any of those papers that I scanned in) and trashed whatever was no longer relevant. Below I have detailed what I decided to let go of from that space and what I decided to keep in the glove compartment. continue…

Blooktober Status Update: You Have to Start Somewhere

I will admit that I have been avoiding working on the “book” part of Blooktober. I thought proclaiming that I would do it might help, but I have been letting my fears take over.

I knew that if I didn’t at least do something to work towards writing this thing this weekend then I could probably kiss achieving my dream of entering the contest goodbye. This is what you call down to the wire. I am now just two weeks away from my deadline, and only today have somewhat seriously written an extremely rough draft of my book overview.

Don’t Let Fear Take Over

I have an example book proposal that was handed out at the writing conference last spring that kicked off the book proposal writing contest I am attempting to enter. Every time I sit down to try to read it, I get completely overwhelmed and discouraged and find something else to do. continue…

Hipster Series: Wrap Up

To wrap up the Hipster Series, I figured I would go through the remaining types of information I am using my hipster to record. Here is a look at how my hipster notebook stack is set up in Evernote:

photo

 In my Hipster: An Overview post, I listed the other categories of information I am tracking in my hipster, and explained how I use the “-Blank” notebook as a designated place to record incoming bits of information that I am not sure what to do with at the moment. Having this notebook actually helped me to determine an extra category that I decided to add to my hipster. continue…

Hipster Series: Affirmations

I find writing affirmations to be easier than writing goals. I first learned about writing affirmations from the same book that introduced me to writing goals, Jack Canfield’s How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be.

Not only does it seem easier to me to write affirmations, but it also seems easier to go through them. The reason affirmations make me feel so warm and fuzzy is because they use the concept of “acting as if”. While I generally start my goals with the statement “I intend to…” I start my affirmations with “I am…”, implying that I have already achieved whatever great dream I am thinking about in the moment. No matter how unrealistic the dream, affirming it with a statement that it is already happening automatically makes it feel not so impossible. continue…

Hipster Series: Turning Goals into Dreams into Reality

“All our dreams come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” – Walt Disney

I have read a lot of books that talk about how to write and achieve goals. I have kept goals on 3 x 5 index cards and on 8 1/2 x 11 printer paper in a 3-ring binder. Once again, one of the biggest limiting factors for me has been having a portable list of goals.

A 3-ring binder is just not practical for me to carry around everywhere I go. A small stack of 3 x 5 index cards can be handy, but what if you have 15 goals and then an additional 15 affirmations to carry around? I always liked the idea of giving each goal its own 3 x 5 card or notebook-sized sheet of paper. I liked the space that giving a goal its own sheet of paper creates. I didn’t want to just cram all my goals onto one or a few sheets of paper. I wanted them to be able to breathe. continue…

Hipster Series: Other Categories of Rituals

“Forget all the reasons why it won’t work and believe the one reason why it will.” – unknown

Just as there is a flow of stuff in our lives, there is a flow of tasks. Many tasks change hands multiple times, and while they do not require our constant attention, they often need to remain within our peripheral awareness while they are in someone else’s hands. Within my rituals lists, I am keeping track of a few additional types of information that I wanted to keep up with on a regular basis but didn’t want to have to go looking for in another separate list. continue…

Hipster Series: Turning To-Do List Items into Rituals

“It’s easier to take a small action now instead of a big action ’some day.’” – posted at Marc and Angel Hack Life

These days I have four primary lists that I track my to-do items on each day:

1. Reminders

2. Reminders – Weekday

3. Rituals

4. Rituals – Weekday

I previously explained how I use my reminders lists here. Today I am going to go into more detail about how I have come to create my rituals lists. continue…

Hipster Series: Transformation of a To-Do List

Keeping tracking of everything that has to be done is no small feat. Not having a properly functioning system to track the things I have to do has always really bothered me. I have kept to-do lists for a long time, but not until recently have I started to figured out a way to actually get the things they contain done.

From a Loooong To-Do List to a Short Reminders List

Since I started recording my recurring tasks on my rituals list, the reminders list has become super short. Right now I am maintaining two reminders lists: Reminders & Reminders – Weekday. continue…

Hipster Series: Task List Categories

The functional component of any planner is the task list. There are all kinds of things we have to do in life. After battling my need to over-categorize, I have come to realize that designating tasks as belonging to either one or the other of two major categories is the best system for me.

New vs. Recurring Tasks

It took me a long time to realize that the majority of tasks I need to get done on a daily basis are things I have already done before. New tasks that we haven’t done before can seem intimidating at first, and often overwhelming. The good news is that once something has been done once, it doesn’t have to be so overwhelming. I also noticed that many new tasks become recurring tasks, so they can easily fit into an overall system of recurring activities that are familiar and not so overwhelming. continue…

Hipster Series: Paper vs. Digital Planners

“You will find that it is necessary to let things go; simply for the reason that they are heavy. So let them go, let go of them. I tie no weights to my ankles.” C. JoyBell C.

I am addicted to lists. I love making them, re-writing them, and especially crossing things off of them. If you are not familiar with the hipster, I have written an overview post here. The hipster series will be a series of posts going more in-depth into the categories of lists that I keep in my hipster. First, I wanted to talk about my thoughts on paper-based vs. digitized planners. continue…

Monthly Review: September

At the beginning of September, I posted about my fall seasonal review. The seasonal review is a time to reflect on how the previous season went with respect to personal goals, and to then look forward to plans for the upcoming season.

Getting into the habit of having a weekly review was one of my New Year’s resolutions this year. I tried to get into the routine of a weekly review during the first part of this year, but for a variety of reasons it just didn’t seem to work out. Instead, I came up with the idea of thinking of my life in seasons, hence the seasonal review.

Today I am in the mood to do a monthly review and check in with my fall season plans that I made in the beginning of September. I know I haven’t done everything I said I would from the beginning of the fall, but I do feel like I have developed some good habits, which I attribute to the fall seasonal review. continue…

Blooktober Kickoff

“The beginning is always today.” – Mary Shelley

Fall is in the air! This year, for me, this means Blooktober during October, and then NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) in November. More about NaNoWriMo later.

What is Blooktober?

I participated in Blogust this year, posting everyday during the month of August. I will admit that I did take some liberties in what is technically considered posting everyday, as I ended up missing days and having to go back and post later during the month of August. In the end, I completed all 31 posts within the month.

In September, I lost my writing and posting momentum that the challenge of participating in Blogust fueled. I am glad that I gave myself some in-between time, but I also feel that I am ready for another challenge. I wasn’t sure if I would participate in Blogtober (posting everyday during October), but I now know that I must. Sometimes, there just comes a point where you realize it is now or never. I am sensing that this is one of those times for me. continue…