Try This Relaxing Bedtime Ritual

Last night, I managed to make time to soak in an epsom salt bath, do a bedtime yoga video on YouTube, and meditate before bed. If asked to describe my ideal day, this is exactly how it would end. 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…

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…

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…

How I Set Goals for Summer: Seasonal Review

The summer seasonal review will round out my first year of doing seasonal reviews. I have really enjoyed the process of reviewing my goals roughly every three months, corresponding with the changing seasons. I feel much more in touch with my goals than I did with the concept of New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t feel overwhelmed by a too frequent review such as weekly or monthly.

As with each of my seasonal reviews, I will be reviewing my affirmations by my core value categories. If you are interested in establishing your own core values (highly recommended!) I would suggest Tina Su’s Discover You Now ebook. There is an exercise in this book that led me to establishing my own core values. This was the first step in defining what my goals are, because I had to figure out my major life categories before determining specific goals.

I only write affirmations at this point. I write about 3 to 5 in each core value category, and I read through them immediately when I wake up in the morning most days. I quickly scroll through them on the Evernote app on my phone. Any actionable steps related to achieving something in one of my core value categories go on my reminders or rituals lists. If you want to read more about my use of affirmations, click here.

Of note, my life has gone through a few dramatic (good) changes over the past few weeks and months, with a recent household move and engagement! These are all exciting changes, but have also caused my many lists to explode and call for the creation of a few new lists. I am still working on catching up to everything, as I have fallen out of some of my routines while we figure out where to put everything in the house and now where to have a wedding. I hope to stay on track with my personal goals while remaining flexible with the many upcoming changes.  continue…

Motivation to Get Up On Time

I have struggled with getting up on time forever. This week, I managed to get up on time on Monday, and told myself I was going to do the same the rest of the week. Today, I share my feelings on the whole issue of getting up in the morning.

What Does On Time Mean?

Determining what time I need and want to get up in the mornings during the week has been a constant issue for me for the past several years that I have worked from home with a login time of 6 a.m. For the most part, I have aimed to get up at 5 a.m., but have also gone through phases of convincing myself that 5:30 a.m. would give me more time to rest, and others where I attempted to get up at 4 a.m. to have time in the mornings to write.

I don’t want to get up early just because I have to go to work. I want to get up because I am ready to start my day. Many mornings in the past I have stayed in bed beyond my appointed wake-up time out of dread for the upcoming day. That is no way to start any day. 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 Use Evernote to Coordinate a Move

Evernote has come to be my constant planning and idea capturing companion. When it came to all the little things that add up to the one big thing that is a household move, I immediately turned to my friend Evernote to help me manage it all.

A move is not just one day that happens and then goes away nicely. There are weeks and possibly months of planning and preparations leading up to the big day, and then more weeks and possibly months to follow filled with remaining transition-type tasks and activities.

I have written a lot previously about my hipster and how the Evernote app serves as my one single planner in life. For the move, I am using my reminders and rituals notebooks to keep track of tasks I want to make sure get done. My boyfriend Michael and I also have a few shared notebooks which are helpful for storing information we both want to be able to access.

Today I will go through each of my current Evernote notebooks that contain information related to the move, and how they are being used. continue…

Spring Seasonal Review: How I Planned Out My Goals for Spring

I am so excited that my long-awaited spring seasonal review is finally here! The seasonal review is my new system of goal-setting and reviewing that I came up with this year, in which I review the goals I set for the previous season, and look forward to changes I would like to make in the upcoming three months. This is my alternative to setting annual New Year’s resolutions. If you would like to read more about my thought process behind my seasonal review, click here. 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: 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…

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…

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…