Can’t Life Be Easy?

One of my five personal core values is inner & outer peace. Every morning when I meditate, I run through these five areas of my life. When I get to number three, I say this affirmation in my mind:

“Everything in our lives is taken care of with effortless ease.”

(Especially since I got married, I have been affirming for two. I figure it can’t hurt!)

The concept of effortless ease stems from the teachings of Louise Hay. It totally goes against everything we have been taught – that life is hard, nothing comes easy, be realistic, you have to work really hard and even then you might not get what you want…at least that is the prevailing vibe I have picked up on from our society in general.

When I started listening to Louise Hay’s books, I too had the resistance of wait a minute, life isn’t easy. What is she talking about?

But what if life is easy? And we just don’t realize it or tap into it.

Is an easy life a lazy life?

Sometimes I don’t really feel things, but I throw them into my meditation affirmation mix anyway with the hope that by some mystical force of the universe they will one day be true for me. I also feel very strongly that this cannot hurt anything.

So I envision my ideal day first thing in the morning, and then I go about my day as I normally would. Ideal or not so ideal.

This past week I was sick and totally exhausted. I slept in until 10:30 Saturday morning, after getting 12 hours of sleep, and it was glorious. Then I slept in until 9:30 on Sunday morning. Also glorious.

Since I was so tired all week, I was “lazy” and stayed in bed until the last possible second and took naps when I felt like it. And I didn’t feel bad about the extra sleep. I just acknowledged that that was what my body needed and enjoyed the extra rest.

Yesterday while driving, I was thinking about how I usually get up early to get a jump start on the day, and how I usually power through the afternoon tired feeling and skip naps that I would love. And then I thought about all the extra sleep last week and how my life was still okay and on track despite the supposed lost hours of productivity.

Effortless Productivity Just Might Exist

And then, I remembered my effortless ease affirmation. And realized how true it is for me. Even now. Even when my to-do list is no where near empty and my ideal day of productivity remains just out of reach.

I have complete faith that one day my to-do list will be a beautiful blank page, and that I will reach 2 p.m. knowing that everything that needed to get done that day has been taken care of.

And on the path to those and other goals, there will be naps. There will be breaks. There will be weekends of sleeping in ridiculously late just because. There will be days of missed yoga and meditation. There will be movies watched without other tasks getting done simultaneously.

Just because we are working towards greater things, that doesn’t mean we can’t be great, and feel great, right now. Wayne Dyer said on numerous occasions that we aren’t the ones doing the doing, but that we are being done. At a time when I had a work to-do list with 80 or more tasks at any given time and a sense that there was no light at the end of the tunnel, I couldn’t fathom what this man could possibly mean by not doing the doing.

But I am kind of starting to get it. Yes, I have plenty to do and I get my work done and still have more things to do, but I am realizing that it doesn’t have to be that hard. It can be effortless. It can be easy. If we let it.

So I continue to choose effortless ease as my primary filter through which I view my life and its many activities. Choosing to believe things are difficult doesn’t make sense to me anymore. Why not expect things to be effortless and easy? It doesn’t take any extra effort, after all.

Do you think life can be effortlessly easy? Please share your thoughts!

Paper Organization, KonMari Style

After I graduated college and got a job in 2006, I got a two drawer filing cabinet for my apartment, determined to make sense of the piles of papers I had thrown into a hall closet to be dealt with at an undefined future date.

I read books about getting organized, my favorite of which was Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern. I labored over what the right categories would be for all my personal papers.

I’m sure I got rid of a lot, but I still held on to plenty of papers unnecessarily. I was confused and uninformed. I didn’t know what was essential and what wasn’t essential. I held on to things because I thought I was supposed to. Out of fear that if I got rid of them that there would be regrets and consequences. continue…

My To-Do List Is a Junk Pile

For YEARS my to-do list has been my Everest. I just cannot let it go.

I have read productivity books like Getting Things Done by David Allen and Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern, and experimented with all different kinds of planners from Franklin Covey to The Hipster.

So far, I have come very close to my vision of getting this thing cleared off by the end of the day, or at the latest, the end of the week. I know it is possible, no matter what anyone says. Which is always some version of that doesn’t sound very realistic whenever I tell people about my dream of a beautiful, emptied to-do list on a regular basis.

I know there will always be things to do. That isn’t my problem. My point is having a list that doesn’t contain things that were due yesterday, or from 2 months ago.

I want to wake up in the morning, knowing that I will have the time I need to do all the things I want to do that day, AND get done whatever else needs to get done. Not working until 7 p.m., not skipping out on my walk because I’m too busy. Not sleeping less than 7 hours (I realize whenever I have a baby that last one might be negotiable, but you get the point).

My To-Do List Is Cluttering My Life

It dawned on my yesterday that my to-do list of unfinished, overdue tasks is creating clutter in my life. Not only is having this list of unfinished stuff like having junk piles all over my house, but by taking up time that I could spend dealing with physical clutter, it is literally contributing to the clutter in my life and my days. continue…

You Can Do Anything…If You Do It.

Not enough time. Not enough money. Not enough motivation. Not enough will power.

What if these go-to phrases were meaningless, and no matter how much time, money, motivation, or will power was or wasn’t available, anything was possible? Saying anything is possible is easier said than done. But doing anything is completely doable.

This is not a post to pump you up about how you can do anything if you put your mind to it. This post is about the reality of following our dreams. continue…

Short Attention Span? Try This.

Sometimes Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, our cell phones, YouTube, the internet in general, an inspired idea, and food, among an infinite list of potential things to do, are too tempting to ignore. A span of 20 minutes or however long we are trying to stay focused on something else (likely something else more worthwhile) may not be able to compete.

The List of Infinite Possibilities

When I sit down to write or do something that I would like to focus on for a period of time (usually 20 minutes to an hour), I am inevitably reminded of something from this list of infinite possibilities. I often find myself wandering to satisfy whatever curiosity of the moment has stricken.

I reason with myself that I have to do whatever it is in the moment or I might forget later, or that I will just check this one little thing and get back to work. We’ve all been there. You look up and wonder where the last 15 minutes or more went. And can’t believe that you got sucked in again to that fifth YouTube video, or are wondering how you suddenly caught up on the Facebook feed since yesterday. continue…

The Beauty of the Dry Cleaning Delivery Service

Sometimes you just don’t feel like going anywhere or doing anything. Call it lazy, or call it smart, but I love it when I discover that a business delivers – bonus points if they do it for free!

My latest delivery discovery is the dry cleaners. I have been going to this place for about a year. I mean, I have been procrastinating on going to this place on a regular basis for a year.

As much as I have tried to get into the routine of going once a week or once every few weeks, I have inevitably let the to-be-dry cleaned pile of clothes pile up to the point where the closets are getting low on supplies (mostly my fiancé’s work clothes).

I also have tried to get in the habit of ironing his clothes, but so far, I have proven to fail at that wifely duty. Sigh. continue…

Be Unapologetic About What You Want

I thought I wanted to be a writer. According to everything I have read, by the act of writing I am a writer. I don’t even have to be any good at writing, apparently. As long as I want to be a writer and I write, then I am a writer.

But I have apologized with every inch of my being for wanting to be a writer ever since I first was told that math and science are where the money and value are – not reading and writing. I have grown and come to terms with my writer ways over the years. But not without apology.

I often feel guilty telling people that I have a blog when asked what I do. I usually tell them the “real” thing that I do, as in the thing that actually produces an income. Then I slip in at the end (nervously) that I have a blog. Talking about myself as a writer makes me feel super apologetic. Like I haven’t earned the right to call myself a writer, or a blogger.

A Little Bit of Inspiration

I will be attending Alt Summit Summer this year. Alt Summit is a design and blogging conference held twice a year (January and June) in Salt Lake City, Utah. I have known about it for several years now but could never bring myself to attend a conference for bloggers, not feeling like a “real” blogger myself.

Fortunately one of my favorite vloggers, Jennifer Ross, pushed me over the edge this year with her vlogs and blog posts from the January conference. I am so excited to finally be going!

I received an email recently with links to the keynote speaker presentations from the January session. One was by Lisa Congdon, the other by Dallas Clayton. Both are amazing and I would definitely recommend checking them out.

Lisa Congdon talked about the path she took to get where she is as a creator of lots of different amazing things. She talked about being unapologetic about what you want, and that got me thinking. continue…

What to Do with Old Holiday & Birthday Cards

What do you do with all those holiday and birthday cards you have received over the years? Do you keep them in an organized filing system organized by year, toss them in a drawer or box somewhere, eventually throw them away, or something else?

Today, I would like to share my system for keeping (kinda) old holiday & birthday cards. continue…

To-Do Lists & Dreams: Is There Enough Time for Everything?

I am obsessed with getting my to-do list to zero. And I don’t think that’s a bad thing.

I totally understand that I am not going to get my to-do list to zero and it is just going to stay like that forever. That isn’t my goal. My goal is to clear out my to-do list on a regular basis, keeping it clear to allow space for new things to come into my life without the weight of old tasks from like three months ago. Or even three weeks ago.

Reading through Ask and It Is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks has helped me more clearly shape my perspective on clearing my to-do list while allowing ideas of new things to do to come into my life.

What My To-Do List Means To Me

My to-do list used to be a thing of complete dread, shackling me from enjoying life because I felt so behind all the time. I couldn’t see getting out from under the pile of stuff, no matter what I did. Not a good thing.

Today I am still working at chipping away at a few remaining tasks from several months ago, but I can see that my dream of having a regularly cleared to-do list is within reach. I am so excited about that every day!

I see my various to-do lists as simply a system of reminding myself what to do next, so I don’t have to store all that information in my brain. To-do lists are meant to liberate us from the constant cycle of remembering and forgetting things that still need to be done.

My goal for my to-do list is for it to eventually hold only items to do that I feel purposefully passionate about. I want my life to transform so that everything I do feels on purpose and exciting. I get all tingly just thinking about that! continue…

How Audio Books Can Help You Get Things Done

I used to think listening to audio books was somehow cheating, not giving the written words the full, undivided attention they deserve. Until I read The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life by Steve Leveen, founder of Levenger.

Prior to reading this little book, I had checked a few audiobooks out from the library and occasionally listened to them while driving, but still felt that the books I listened to somehow didn’t “count” as much as the ones I sat down and cleared uninterrupted time for.

After reading through Leveen’s tips for getting more reading into our lives, I had a new perspective, and was convinced that books listened to have the same weight and merit as books read visually.

Audio Books & Productivity

Even just a few years ago audio books weren’t as accessible as they are today. With apps like Audible and Overdrive and the prevalence of smartphones, audio books are more accessible and versatile than ever. Even if you don’t have a smartphone, with Overdrive, you can easily listen to library audio books through your computer.

When there is something to do that I don’t particularly want to do, like ironing, yard work, washing the dog, and sometimes preparing dinner, I often psych myself up for the task with the thought that I get to listen to my current audio book. One of the best things about audio books is that they allow you to multitask on things that don’t take too much thought. continue…

How To Get One Step Ahead

As a recovering procrastinator, I am all too familiar with the unpleasant feeling of constantly being a step behind, five minutes late, or scrambling to finish something at 11:45 p.m. I feel tense just thinking about it.

I think about how if I can be one step behind, why can’t I be just one step ahead instead? I know there is a lot of psychology involved with procrastination, but all of that aside, practically speaking, why can’t something or someone be early instead of late?

Bottom line: it is possible. It is possible for people who find themselves chronically late with arriving places or turning things in or getting things done to eventually, one day, find themselves to be people who are chronically early and turning things in and getting things done ahead of schedule.

Sigh of relief.

The Feeling of Being A Step Behind

The biggest drawback of being behind that jumps out at me is the constant nagging thought track that keep coming to mind the whole time something isn’t getting done. If I have something that is about to be overdue, my mind will not let it go.

It’s a major energy drain. Not to mention: What You Focus On Expands. As in, thinking about constantly being late and behind is pretty much a guarantee that you will continue to be late and behind. Kind of guaranteed! continue…

How Do People Keep up with Everything?

Do you ever feel totally, completely, utterly overwhelmed by…everything? This is how I used to feel. All the time. Now, I am getting better. And I would like to share what I am doing to feel excited about what I have to do rather than squished. Because who likes going around feeling squished all the time?

The Seasonal Review

The seasonal review is my process for reviewing all the things I have to and want to do in my life four times a year, at approximately three month intervals. In the past, I have done this at times that made sense to me, not necessarily coinciding with the financial quarters.

This year, I am kicking off my seasonal review with my birthday. This puts my other seasonal reviews this year at mid-April, mid-July, and mid-October. I like these times because there isn’t much out of the ordinary going on in my life in April and July, and October is a good time to gear up for the holiday season (yes, I am already thinking about the holidays…too soon?).

The seasonal review is a time to check-in and see what direction you are headed in, and if that is actually the direction you would like for your life. I get sad when I think about weeks, months, and years going by with no real progress being made. Who wants to look back and wonder what they have been doing for the past five years?

But I get excited when I think about my ideas and what I would like to see change in the future. I like to do the seasonal review to get myself motivated to take action on my ideas that might otherwise get neglected, lost to the shuffle of an overly busy lifestyle. No thank you!

I want my to-do list and days to be filled with things that make me feel joyful and peaceful. How about you? continue…

To-Do Lists Are My Life

I dream about to-do lists like I imagine people who like sports or guns dream about their hobbies. This is my thing. The thing that I get excited to get out of bed over.

I have lived somewhat oppressed by my to-do list for years; perhaps this is why I am so intrigued. It has been my challenge to conquer – “getting it all together,” or at least kinda, for the most part. Nothing is perfect, after all.

But to not be buried under 80 tasks, crushed by the weight of hundreds of things I don’t even really want to do – now that is a breath of fresh air! The fresh air that I am proud to now breathe, and I can say, with conviction, that I will NEVER allow myself to go back to that buried state. I simply refuse.

I set out yesterday with the motivation of my Birthday Eve. My own personal new year upon me, I reflected on my life over the past year and the direction I would like to take in the next. Most of the time, I feel like I am just about to have my life completely organized and to be living the lifestyle I envision, but I allow some major project that I have been avoiding to loom, holding myself back from truly moving forward.

I know this is no way to live, and I don’t want to constantly feel this way anymore. I want to really live! Looking back I don’t feel like I have made much progress on my goals over the past year. I feel like someone looking at my life would tell me to give myself a break. I do have an amazing life and I am so grateful, but I have personal goals and when I’m not making progress towards them, I feel more like I’m sinking and suffocating than fully living.

Sometimes I feel paralyzed – unable to move forward, unsure of what to do next. Yesterday around noon I decided to clear the rest of the day to “get my life together.” I started with 26 things to do on my personal to-do list, which I keep in Evernote. I was able to easily to sort the items from oldest to newest, and force myself to start with the oldest, most neglected task (from May 2014!).

My List

I want to really get my life organized, and share how I did it to help other people who struggle with stress and feeling overwhelmed. That is one of the main reasons why I have this blog.

I have read a ton of productivity and self-help books, and I want to take what I have learned and share the system I came up with that works for me with the world. And help people develop and stick to their own systems that will work for them.

I want to have a cleared to-do list at the end of each week, not having things remaining unnecessarily past one week. I want to help keep myself and my husband-to-be on target for achieving our dreams.

The only way these things will happen is if I actually do them. So I had to ask myself – do I sit down and clear the decks, doing all the little tasks that I have been putting off over the past year? It didn’t take me very long to decide that, without a doubt, yes! – I start by clearing the decks.

Letting go of the old makes room for the new, and if I want to help other people with getting their lists in order, I have to first figure out how to take control of mine. So I did. continue…

A Mantra for Greater Productivity

I’m always looking for new ways to motivate myself to get on top of everything in my life. Whether it’s more efficiently getting through email, staying on top of household chores, or getting my to-do list to zero, I am motivated by the feeling of not being bbackhind/overwhelmed. I’m going for the opposite of overwhelmed/nervous breakdown.

As I was clearing out my email on Friday for the weekend, I was about to leave five to ten in my inbox to deal with Monday morning, and then I was reminded of this phrase:

How you do anything in your life is how you do everything in your life.

I have been hearing this here and there for years (unsure of the original author), but never felt like I had enough space in my life to take the time to truly consider doing everything in my life in line with my values. I was kind of just scraping by, which isn’t exactly the picture of joy and inner peace. continue…

Ask Yourself This One Question To Beat Procrastination

The ironing piled up, the yard is an overgrown mess, and it’s tax time and none of the required documentation is in order. Or insert whatever your least favorite tasks might be.

Sometimes you just don’t feel like it. Who ever really feels like weeding the yard, ironing, or doing the taxes?

Whether the next task calling my name is unloading the dishwasher, folding the laundry,  or making a phone call to make an appointment, when “I’ll do it later” enters my mind, I ask myself one question (which I learned from reading Julie Morgenstern’s books): continue…

How to Experience a Miracle Everyday

“To me, every cubic inch of space is a miracle.”

– Walt Whitman

Traditionally, miracles have been portrayed as experiences reserved only for the deserving, lucky few. Not the regular people (like me – or so I thought).

I used to think miracles only happened to other people, far removed from my plain existence: travelers to some holy land, attendees of televised events where the preacher hits someone on the head and they are suddenly healed from their debilitating illness, or rare stories of far away people who overcame cancer or some other life-threatening disease. Not for me or anyone I knew. And certainly not for the everyday experience.

I started watching Gabby Bernstein’s YouTube videos a few weeks ago, and slowly started to absorb her message of everyday miracles. Not long after the concept of the miracle mindset entered into my awareness, I started noticing my own everyday miracles. continue…

Stop Saying This Phrase for a More Peaceful Life

Ever catch yourself saying “I’m busy”, and wonder if there will ever be a time again that this phrase doesn’t apply to your life?

I have been thinking a lot lately about how much my thoughts contribute to the overall feel of my life, particularly the feeling that there is never enough time and always too many tasks. It is not only thoughts, but also the spoken words those thoughts generate, that are creating our realities.

The popular phrases that come to mind are:

“‘I’m busy.”

“I’m too busy for/to [blank].”

“I was too busy to get around to it.”

Sound familiar? continue…

How To Motivate Yourself to Get Things Done

With so many distractions at our fingertips, it can be a major challenge to maintain focus on any one given task for more than a few seconds. Emails are constantly knocking on the doors of our minds, the internet is beckoning us at every turn, and our tummies are frequently in need of fuel. What’s a busy girl to do?

In this post, I share how to motivate yourself to park it in one place for at least 20 minutes, no matter what email has emerged or what snack might be calling you, personally, to come join it in the kitchen. Before we start, pull out whatever to-do list you are working from at the moment. Keep it handy. continue…

Make Time to Move Forward

“Once you become consciously aware of just how powerful your thoughts are, you will realize that everything in your life is exactly how you allow it to be.” — Melanie Moushigian Koulouris

I get all bogged down by my excuses more often than I would like to admit. There are so many things I want to do in a day, and my most common complaint and excuse is that I don’t have enough time.

Not enough time to cook a low carb meal, not enough time to work on my blog, not enough time to go for a walk. I suppose the counter argument could be that I am trying to do too many things in a day, but what if I’m not? What if it is the perfect amount of activities and just letting go of my excuses and complaining would bring in that extra touch of time I needed all along to get things done?

Procrastination Battles

Things either get done or they don’t. Perhaps an over-simplification, but I am so tired of procrastinating. The worst thing in recent times is that I have somehow repackaged my procrastination as a lack of time. I tell myself I am constantly busy and just couldn’t get to it, which leaves me feeling confused and betrayed. continue…

Decide to Not Feel Bad & Fiction Friday

I have felt kind of bad all week for not writing. I have been a person who feels bad for not doing the things I say I am going to do, rather than either a) just doing them, or b) acknowledging that I have a lot going on and cutting myself some slack.

I have also been a person who desperately wants to write a book, and who has talked about writing a book for years now, but somehow, still, no book. When I woke up this morning, I decided I have a choice: I can either choose to feel bad about not writing, or just write and move myself, slowly but surely, into the category of people who actually write books rather than those who just talk about writing them (while feeling bad).

Feeling bad about not writing does no good. It doesn’t enhance my word count or my chances of success. All it does is bring about more bad stuff that I have no interest in. I get down on myself because I think I don’t have enough time to write. I just have to accept that I have whatever time is available to me and work with it. John Grisham managed to find time to write while he was still working as a lawyer, didn’t he? continue…

Why Exercise is Essential, Found Time, & a Blogust Status Update

Over the past few days, I have revisited creative ways to find the time to go for walks and get in reading on even the busiest of days. I was inspired by Robin Sharma’s video on You Tube the other day in a moment of desperation for a glimmer of hope and insight into how I might get on top of my life.

Why Making Time to Exercise Matters

He mentioned the power of exercise. These days I am not big into exercise that requires excessive amounts of exertion and sweating, but I do enjoy light yoga and moderately paced walking. The idea of getting up even earlier popped into my mind, and I have been doing it ever since. continue…

I Am Not Getting a Sabbatical Anytime Soon, & I Have to Accept That

“Fall down seven times, get up eight.” – Japanese Proverb

I remember when I was younger thinking that older people who took sabbaticals were really boring. Ha! What I wouldn’t give for a sabbatical!

I have dreamed of taking a sabbatical for years now. I’m not even really sure what the official sabbatical duration is, but I am guessing it’s at least a few months. I actually took my own mini-sabbatical this past January.

I loved it. I loved every second of it. I took a nice long walk almost every day, I woke up early just because I was excited to have the whole day to do whatever I wanted, and I did yoga and meditated almost everyday. During the day I got to spend time reading and writing, and had the time to take care of the house and get things done. And felt relaxed!

Yesterday, I fell slightly ill and ended up sleeping for pretty much the whole day. Mostly feeling depressed about all of my nagging tasks and wondering how I would ever get them all done. Hence the first Blogust fail.

Why I Want a Sabbatical

I want to feel like I have time to write my book, make my blog a success, take walks, do yoga, meditate, and take care of all of my personal tasks (including planning a wedding). Not to mention crocheting. I love to crochet! When does a working girl have time to crochet? I would like to know? There are winter hats to be made, people! continue…

Blogust Schedule at a Glance

Since I have committed myself to 30 more consecutive days of posting, I figured today would be a good time to plan out my posts for the month. I have been wanting to do this ever since I started blogging but never got a grip on the organization of my thoughts more than a few days in advance.

Themed Days

I have always liked the idea of posting based on specific themes on certain days of the week. This is how I came up with the idea for Meditation Mondays. Here is the general idea for my posting schedule during Blogust: continue…

Moving Series: 7 Things to Do After a Move

“The middle of every successful project looks like a disaster.” – Rosabeth Moss Cantor

We moved into our new home the Friday before Memorial Day, and got engaged that same evening in Sedona, AZ. It probably isn’t surprising that it has taken almost two months to get settled into our new home, and hardly one item of wedding planning has happened.

Over the past few weeks, I have started to feel overwhelmed by the various tasks associated with moving that I wanted to have completed by now, as well as the wedding plans that I have the same feelings about. Today I am planning to wrap up my post-move tasks and to also move forward on wedding plans and other personal tasks over the next few weeks.

Ever since before we moved, I have kept a list of things to do before, during, and after our move. Looking back, I am grateful that we have accomplished so much. I tend to feel bogged down by unfinished tasks and projects, but when I look back at what has already been completed, I can remember feeling the same bogged down feeling when things that are now complete were incomplete.

For example, when we lived in a temporary apartment and were looking for a house, I was feeling slightly overwhelmed by the task of finding a home that we liked. Fast forward a few months, and here we are! I have to remind myself that projects in progress often feel uncomfortable, and become comfortable with that temporary feeling of discomfort.

Here are a few items either already complete or currently on my reminders list related to our move: continue…

How to Manage Email by Reducing, Not Reading

It is liberating to click the unsubscribe button at the bottom of a recurring promotional email that has bombarded your inbox for far too long. I have learned from Julie Morgenstern that holding on to outdated things has an energy that can hold us back in life. One of my motivations for living a more simplified life is to clear out all that stagnant energy that might be holding me back from making meaningful changes. I saw my email inbox as one of these areas that could use an overhaul. Today, I share the details of my journey in unsubscribing from over 130 different companies and services. 

continue…

More Email Than You Can Read? There’s a Better Way

Do you know how many email subscriptions you have?

I didn’t. Turns out, I had over 130. After switching from Gmail to Microsoft Outlook recently, I have been keeping busy spring cleaning out my email inbox over the past few weeks. I am proud to say that I recently re-established my zeroed-out inbox, and wanted to share my new and improved process in a short series of posts. continue…

Seasonal Review: Mid-Season Check-in

It’s not quite time for my summer seasonal review, but I have been thinking a lot about where I am in my goals for spring and thought it might be a good time to do a mid-season review. Spring is a great time for changes and there are certainly many good changes in my life this time around.

Shortly after I moved to Arizona I developed the daily ritual of starting to read my affirmations as soon as I get out of bed in the mornings. By the time I’m doing mouthwash, I’m wrapping them up. It takes less than three minutes to read through these 15 or 20 items, but before I hadn’t been referring to them on a daily basis. I am happy to have finally found a method that works for me. It makes sense to start the day with positive thoughts and reminders about what my goals are, and to review these before practicing yoga and meditation in the mornings.

Based on my core values, here is a brief look at where I am in my personal goals so far for spring: continue…

Moving Series: How to Plan a House Search

Whenever I start out on some big overwhelming project, I usually waste a lot of time in the beginning because I just jump in without having a system. The problem is, when it is something I haven’t done before (or haven’t set up a system for before), I have no idea what I am doing.

I recently started a house search, but at the beginning I didn’t have a well thought out plan of how to keep track of everything. After going through several systems, I finally settled on one that works a few weeks ago and wanted to share with anyone else who might find it to be useful for a current or future house search. continue…

5 Things to Do While Waiting in Line at the Post Office

Over the past several years I have come to realize that going to the post office is not my favorite thing to do in the world. The crazy long line and lack of air conditioning aren’t even the worst of it. Somehow, people just seem to be angry over there.

I cringe whenever I hear someone raise their voice or berate a postal worker (which usually happens at least once while I am there). I am not sure exactly what it is – perhaps the long line or lack of air conditioning are contributing factors to the anger? Or, maybe these people are just angry in general, waiting to lash out at whoever is there to take it?

As much as I feel for the people working at the post office when these unpleasant outbursts occur, I no longer feel the need to expose myself to the postal patrons’ anger. Never again will I enter the post office without my headphones. In case you find yourself having to go to the post office during the peak of business and frustration, here are a few ideas of things to do to pass the time and block out the negativity: continue…

Mondays vs. Fridays: Which Day of the Week is the Best One?

There are seven days in the week and someday isn’t one of them.

I often wonder: how do other people do it all? I didn’t used to. I used to think everyone else had it all together and I was the only one who couldn’t figure out how to get everything done, but now I know better.

The Friday Curse

Pretty much every Friday I enter into the weekend with the hopes that this weekend will be the one that I finally get it all together. The one where I finally have a breakthrough and make actual progress towards my goals. This mentality is dangerous and has caused me to not enjoy a lot of weekend activities in the past, because I always wanted to be getting something done.

I have definitely gotten better about it, but I still hold onto a modicum of hope that This Weekend will be The Weekend. The one to beat all the others out, because it is the one where I finally figure out how to manage my life while pursuing my personal goals.

And then Sunday happens. I have gotten much better about Sundays, but there was a time when all I wanted to do was cry on Sunday around 5 p.m., because it meant Monday morning was right around the corner. And I still hadn’t figured out what to do with my life. continue…

How To Choose What To Do Next

“Don’t force it.” – one of my friends

In any given moment, we are faced with countless choices: what to wear, what to eat, what to drink, what to say, what to think, what to do… and on and on. Having a regular schedule and goals are great, but if something on the menu of choices doesn’t excite and energize, then it is time to find new options.

Do What Energizes You

I have recently been experimenting with choosing my next task based on what I am most excited in the moment to work on. For example, if my choices are to work on my blog, read a book, and wash the dog, I am trying to stop and think about which one I am most excited about working on/completing in the moment. Some days the idea of having a clean dog is the one that makes me feel most energized, while others it might be the idea of completing a blog post.

This is a much more fun way to live than in the “I have to” state of mind, as in, “I have to wash the dog” even though I want to lay down and read a book. Even better is when I can find some kind of creative compromise between the thing I have to do and the thing I want to do. Some days the idea of washing the dog while listening to an audio book sounds like the perfect plan. continue…

There is Time

“Never give up on a dream just because of the time it will take to accomplish it. The time will pass anyway.” – Earl Nightingale

If you couldn’t already tell, I am kind of obsessed with personal productivity. Ever since I read David Allen’s book Getting Things Done several years ago, I have felt hopeful that it is actually possible to get on top of things and live a calm, peaceful life, free of the burdens of running late, losing things, overdue tasks, and unrealized dreams.

I have felt “on the cusp” of this state of awesomeness for several years now. Whenever I bring it up, other people tell me there is no such thing. I don’t buy it though. I know it is possible. It just takes dedication and time.

Time

I believe that thinking there isn’t enough time is a surefire way to run out of time. I am pretty much always in a constant state of mind that there isn’t enough time.

I worry that I can never get it all done, because I have to stop working on my project to make dinner, wash the dog, or socialize, to name a few interruptions I have slightly resented for taking away the time I could work on my dream to get it all done.

I know that I can’t get everything ever all done, but I also know that I can get caught up and stay caught up for the rest of my life. I am very certain this is a possibility. continue…

Awaken, Begin, and Continue: The ABCs of Getting Things Done

Right now I have a drawer next to me filled with mail to go through, scans to process, and projects to complete, not to mention a to-do list with multiple tasks and projects I am dying to complete. I get distracted sometimes during the afternoons though, and the piles and lists seem to sit there untouched, day after day.

The Significance of Continue

The “continue” is silent in Awaken & Begin. As challenging as it is to get out of bed in the morning excited to start a new day, or to get up the motivation to work on something new or old, it is even more challenging to persist in our efforts towards our dreams or the completion of a project. continue…

Why I Will Not Be Setting New Year’s Resolutions This Year

“You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late, and never to sick to start from the scratch once again.” – Bikram Choudhury

It’s New Year’s Eve, the day of celebrating, wearing party hats, and sharing New Year’s resolutions. New Year’s is a time of hope for the future. Unfortunately, that hope is often short-lived and quickly forgotten about midway through January.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Tend to Fail

Lately, I have not been very fond of the concept of setting New Year’s resolutions. A year can be an overwhelming period of time for pursuing any one goal. More than that, the concept of New Year’s resolutions is hardly personalized. It is something we do because it is conventional, not necessarily because it works. New Year’s resolutions probably do work for some, but I know from personal experience that it is easy to set goals on New Year’s Eve that don’t even have a fighting chance come February.

There is so much to do in our lives. There is so much that is left undone from year to year. We are busy, and we have so many obligations and expectations we feel the need to fulfill. Our long term goals might get relegated to the back burner as time moves forward, leaving our hopes and dreams in the dust. continue…

Winter Seasonal Review

quote - brian tracyIt’s that time of the year again. Well, a little late, but who’s counting? This past Labor Day weekend was my very first official seasonal review, and I decided that my next review would be on or around the Friday after Thanksgiving.

As I have mentioned before, the seasonal review is born out of a failed attempt at a weekly review, which was one of my New Year’s resolutions last year. In a nutshell, the idea of the weekly review was to wrap up loose ends from the previous week and spend time planning out the upcoming week. This was honestly just too much for me to commit to week after week. Instead, I have been working on developing habits to review things as I go daily, with a more reflective review about every three months.

Components of the Seasonal Review

My vision for the seasonal review was to revisit the idea of New Year’s resolutions more frequently than once a year. The seasonal review is a time to reevaluate goals. It is a chance to reset and get back on track more than just once a year after the overindulgence of the holidays.

I need look no farther than my hipster to see what I need to be doing. In fact, as I was looking back on my fall seasonal review post, I noticed that my ideas for what the seasonal review should consist of are entirely covered by my existing hipster categories. Here’s a few highlights from my second ever seasonal review: 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…

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…

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…

Fall Seasonal Review

The fall is my favorite season. Just thinking about my plans for this fall makes me happy. Pumpkin spice latte’s at Starbucks, red and yellow leaves, sweater weather, Christmas decorations at the stores…what’s not to like?

As I have mentioned before, I have decided to get my life more organized by breaking down my recurring to-do items by frequency as appropriate, such as daily, weekly, monthly, seasonally, and yearly. I have read so many books about productivity, but never really felt like I could truly be the productive, organized person I wanted to be. It all just seemed to be too much to tackle.

Although I have spent years trying to develop just the right systems that work for me, I have recently started reflecting on how to develop my own systems as the person I want to be, rather than who I think other people want me to be. This has freed up a lot of time and energy that I used to spend worrying about what other people think that I can now put towards my own goals and dreams. continue…

Evernote Organization

I took some time to go through my Evernote files and pare my categories down to the most basic and broad. I am proud to say that I am currently down to 4 notebook stacks. I didn’t take a before picture, but I believe I used to have closer to 10 stacks.

When I first started using Evernote, there were 2 levels of organization available: notebooks and notes. A notebook is a collection of notes. It bothered me that there were only 2 levels at first, because I really like to group similar items together and felt like I needed one more level of categorization. If I am thinking about my blog, I don’t want to have to scroll through items related to my job. I keep them separate. Now, with the ability to create stacks, I can happily group my information into small number of broad categories, and then group like sub-categories of information within each stack. continue…

Procrastinators Annonymous

Right now I have a notebook in my Evernote called “Post Drafts” with 120 notes. This is where I have been keeping ideas for blog posts for over a year. As I am writing this, I am up to 121 notes.

I set out to participate in Blogust around the beginning of this month, with the goal of posting to this blog each day throughout the month of August. I have missed about 5 or 6 days, although I posted a quote as a placeholder for each day that I missed and will be going back and posting to those days before the end of August.

A Procrastinator’s Confessions

Why oh why do we procrastinate? Maybe I shouldn’t say “we” because I am sure not everyone procrastinates, and even those of us who do procrastinate are probably really good at getting certain things done quickly. That is, certain things we either actually enjoy doing or have figured out how to do with confidence. Despite all the good advice and information I have read about getting things done and not procrastinating, I still manage to do it. continue…

Planning Projects – Part 2

After thinking about how I would like to manage the projects in my life, I have come to the conclusion that the managing and actual getting things done will stem from actually planning out what my approach to the project will be.

Following the model I have created for my reminders and rituals, I have decided that I will add new, incoming tasks to my reminders lists, but as soon as I establish that it will become a recurring task, it can be moved over to my rituals list.

In the past, I have said yes to requests on my time without really giving much attention to how I would complete whatever project I just agreed to. I was afraid to say no, because I was afraid the person making the request on my time would be disappointed in me if I did not agree to do whatever it was. This bad habit has caused me more distress over the long term than any other. I did not respect my own time enough to say no, or to ask for time to think about how I would even accomplish said project. Even if I did ask for a day or two to think it over, I wouldn’t really think about the consequences of saying yes, because I couldn’t fathom disappointing someone by saying no. continue…

The First Steps in Making Goals Real

We can probably all find some contrast between where we are and where we want to be. These hopes and dreams are what fuels ordinary people to do extraordinary things. But why does it sometimes seem like we have allowed weeks, months, or even years to go by without achieving them? The first step is effective goal-setting.

There are a ton of self-help books out there geared towards improving personal productivity. Each gives a different perspective on setting and achieving goals. Advice varies from limiting yourself to a single goal to maintaining multiple goals in a variety of areas.  With so much confusion among “experts”, what is the average person supposed to do?  Well, all of that inconsistency found in advice should tell you one thing, people are different.  No single strategy is the best and we each need to determine what is right for our own personal lives and unique situations.

I am a bit addicted to structure. I have always enjoyed organizing my to-do list and restructuring and renaming the various aspects of my life. Because of this, historically, I have had a bad habit of over-complicating solutions in my life. The problem with this is that complicated solutions are hard to maintain through time.  They become a burden and lose their luster in a few weeks.  I have learned that simple solutions (even if they are imperfect) have much more potential to change your life.  With that in mind, whatever I decided to do, it needed to be simple. continue…

Simplifying Incoming Paper

“Find the elegance in the chaos, and simplify to the extent possible.” – Tim Ferriss

I was always a paper and pen diehard. I couldn’t imagine reading documents online, and wouldn’t dare dream of letting go of my paper to-do lists. I started to reconsider when I was introduced to Evernote. Evernote is like a digital filing cabinet – but better. You can save not only documents, but also notes, ideas, pictures – basically everything – in an organized and easily retrievable fashion.

I did resist going completely paperless at first. continue…

The Seasons of Our Lives

As I mentioned the other day, lately I have been thinking of my life more in seasons.

There are sooo many things we do that are recurrent: brushing our teeth, showering, replacing mascara, washing the sheets, making plans for Christmas, buying birthday gifts, buying toilet paper…and on, and on, and on. I have started a list of such recurrent activities and right now, I am up to 92 items (just for my personal life).

In some ways that sounds like a lot, but in others it doesn’t even scratch the surface. This list actually doesn’t include things that are so automatic as taking a shower everyday, but I did put things like “floss” and “take vitamins”, because these are daily activities that I have struggled with getting into a solid daily habit of doing.

As with my goals and affirmations, I have created a notebook in Evernote to contain these items – one item per note. This has been one of those (crazy?) personal productivity ideas of mine for several years now, which I couldn’t quite hack because I never felt connected to the list. continue…