Category: habits

The Super easy, low-tech thing I do every night to stay happy + productive

Looking for gratitude journal ideas? Or productivity tips? What if your gratitude and productivity were intertwined? It's possible! Click through to find out how!

At the end of 2012 I went through a pretty rough patch.

Like, a too-sad-to-even-eat-pizza-rolls, self-medicate-through-exercise, cry-over-your-pho sort of rough patch.

So, like anybody who’s ever read O magazine, I decided to start a gratitude journal to help me get through the darkest days. Some entries were “styled hair and left house” or “cute new hedgehog eraser.” Of course, after a few months things started looking up and I was eating pizza rolls and slurping pho sans tears.

But I kept writing in my gratitude journal every night before bed.

Everyone ever will tell you that gratitude and happiness are intrinsically linked. So I didn’t see any reason to stop chronicling the sweet, mundane parts of my day, even though I was out of the ‘cry all the time’ woods – and I’ve been doing it nearly every night since.

A few weeks ago, while laying in bed writing up the best bits of my day, I absentmindedly wrote out the next day’s to-do list on the opposite page.  It wasn’t anything fancy, just some bullet points of what I needed to get done but it brought me a lot of comfort.

I could go to sleep without worrying that I’d forget about sending that email or writing up an editorial plan for a client.  I felt like I’d planted a seed in my brain and that it would noodle on without me – creating solutions and coming up with ideas while I slept.

And I think it worked.

Since then, I’ve ended every night with two lists of five items on opposites pages. I’d made a habit of it.

The left page is five awesome/silly/wonderful things that happened that day.
The right page is five things I need to work on in the morning.

Looking for gratitude journal ideas? Or productivity tips? What if your gratitude and productivity were intertwined? It's possible! Click through to find out how!

These lists tie my work + gratitude together in my brain.  They remind me that I love my work and I’ve chosen to do it. They force me to limit the number of to-dos I assign myself.

When we connect what makes us happy and what we need to do, we're more likely to enjoy doing it. Click To Tweet

All that goodness!  With just a notebook and pen!

Do you keep a gratitude journal?  

P.S. If you need 1-on-1 help being more grateful or productive, I can help with that!

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

How to make fewer decisions (and make your life a lot easier)

Want to be more productive? Have more energy? All the productivity tips in the world won't help you if you make the wrong decisions. Decision fatigue is real - click through to find out what you should do instead

I spent most of 2011 traveling and living out a backpack. I had three options for footwear, five tops, two dresses, and two pairs of pants. (You can see my definitive ‘what to pack’ list here) 

You’d think being limited to a black tank top or a green tank top (for when I’m feeling kicky) would make me feel sartorially smothered.  Nope.  I felt free.
When your choices are limited to black tank top + pink and black scarf + jeans or green tank top + blue and green scarf + jeans it’s pretty easy to choose one and then get on with your day.
It’s a well-documented fact that having too many choices actually makes us depressed, overwhelmed, and  downright cranky. (Though maybe that last one is just me?)  But it also feels weird to actively remove choices from our lives. Didn’t we bust our asses so life would be nothing so much as a smorgasbord of opportunity and options? Whatever.

I’d like to argue that when we make fewer decisions life gets easier + happier + better.

Even if you just removed one decision from your day-to-day life! Don’t get rid of the decisions you enjoy making – where to go on holiday, what to buy your BFF for her birthday, which fancy drink to order, which suitor to encourage.

But do you actually enjoy thinking about what you’ll eat during your 30-minute lunch break? Is it fun to spend 15 minutes in Target looking for a decent birthday card? Does it thrill you to waffle over what you’ll wear to your former co-worker’s wedding? Probably not.

When you remove those non-awesome decisions, you free up time and mental space to actually enjoy your life and those decisions that you actually enjoy making.

Here are the decisions that I’ve removed from my life:

What to bring to a house party or barbeque

I made the executive decision that this would be the summer of the elevated jello shot. So far I’ve made watermelon, mojito, lemondrop, green apple, and greyhound jello shots. I love them and so does everybody else who encounters them. Autumn and Winter will be devoted to mini pies.

What card to send anyone, ever

I buy boxes of these cards. Seriously. (Though I obviously write a personal message inside the card so it doesn’t feel oddly dismissive.)

What to wear in the summer

Sundresses + sandals + bangles + my favorite lipstick. I bought three ‘fit and flare’ knit dresses and I just rotate through them.

What jeans to buy

I have five pairs of jeans and four of them are this brand. I will never shop for jeans again. I will just walk into Old Navy and buy these in bulk.

What to buy people for their wedding or baby shower

Something off of their registry at Target. I use the rule of thumb that you should purchase an item that costs .1% of your yearly income. So if you make $40,000 a year, you buy a $40 present. I just scroll through the list, find something in the right price range, buy it, put it in a gift bag with the gift receipt and one of the aforementioned cards.

What to say when it’s time to give a toast

“To friends who are family, and family who are friends.”

When to pay my bills

Every single bill I pay is set to auto-deduct from my checking account. Once a week, I look through my account to make sure all the charges seem legit.
I don’t mean to indicate that I take card-writing or toast-making or jean-purchasing lightly. (Because how my butt looks in skinny jeans is Extremely Important, guys.) When you find something that works? Keep doing it. Click To Tweet Removing some of those tiny, non-joyful decisions gives you more time and space to enjoy the decisions that thrill you.
What choices have you removed from your life? Which things can you automate?
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash

How To Get What You Want In 2 Steps. Seriously.

Wondering how to get what you want? Looking for productivity or goal setting tips? This will help! Click through and get what you want today!One of the topics I think about All The Time is the type of life I want.

These days, I’m thisclose to living The Dream.  I’d like a few more clients who have built philanthropy into their business models.  I’d like a bit more upper body strength.  I need more winter-friendly clothing and, eventually, I’d like a better car.  Like, one with remote entry.  Or power locks!

But I got this close to my Dream Life by doing something so crazy-stupid easy it nearly falls under the heading of “I don’t want to tell you about it because it’s so obvious that I feel embarrassed saying it out loud.”

But here it is:

I figured out what I wanted. Then I stopped doing dumb ish that moved me further from goal. Once I'd stopped doing self-defeating stuff, I started doing things that brought me closer to what I wanted. That's it. Click To Tweet

If you want to build a thriving freelance business

missing deadlines, working for free, being afraid of networking, downplaying your talent

researching new platforms/software/trends in your field, reaching out to people you want to work with, doing self-directed work, following up with leads, maintaining a blog/social media/internet presence

If you want to save money for a big purchase

eating out, buying things you don’t need, keeping monthly payments (gym, cable) you don’t use

making and sticking to a budget, reminding yourself why you’re on a budget, eating in, doing cheap things with your friends,

If you want to be in a serious relationship

dating people who don’t thrill you, mooning over your ex, hooking up with that person you know is bad news, putting off Big Deal conversations that need to happen

asking your friends if they can set you up, online dating, defining your deal breakers, thinking “do I like them?” rather that “do they like me?”

If you want to be healthy/fit

eating unhealthy food, driving everywhere, avoiding exercise, drinking so much coffee/alcohol
eating more produce, walking or biking when you can, finding a physical activity you actually enjoy, drinking more water, getting outside

If you want a great social life

hanging out with people who don’t fill you up, hoping that people will call you, gossiping constantly, flaking out on events you committed to

reaching out to people you want to know better, creating events and inviting people to them, saying yes (and attending) more events, taking classes filled with like-minded people, being reliable + helpful, saying nice things to and about people

What’s really great?  Just stopping the counter-productive behavior has a huuuuuge affect.  And  then when you start taking proactive steps?  Dude, you’ll be unstoppable.

Edited to add:

In the comments, a lot of you mentioned you don’t know where to start because you don’t know what you want.

But, really, I bet you do.  I think a lot of us think that ‘knowing what we want’ sounds like an elevator pitch for our dream lives: “I want a group of 8-10 smart, funny friends who do lots of outdoor activities and throw great parties, a partner who works at a non-profit, and a job with flexible hours and four weeks of vacation time.”

And while it’s great to get really specific like that, knowing what you want can be as simple as “I want to work for myself” or “I want two more close friendships.”

Don’t get down on yourself if you can’t narrow in on some super specific goal and realize that what you want will change over time.  You’ll either change direction, achieve said goal and need a new one, or reach your goal and realize it’s not that great.  And that’s okay!

What are your current goals?  What can you start/stop doing to get closer to them?

P.S. Self-defeating ish is a bad habit, one you can break. This will help – and it’s free!

Photo by on Unsplash

9 Ways To Love Moving Your Body

Looking for exercise tips or weight loss advice? That is not this post. If you'd like to learn how to love moving your body, click through for 9 great ideas! #exercise #movement #haes

For many of us, exercise has been not-so-happily married to the idea of weight loss. We may have started an exercise routine for the first time in the pursuit of shedding pounds. It may have worked. Or, more likely, it may not have.

Despite strong evidence that exercise does not actually lead to sustained weight loss, the majority of us operate under the illusion that it does. In fact, many researchers call it downright “useless” when it comes to losing weight. The reasons for this lie in a combination of the increased hunger intense exercise creates and our bodies’ set points.

If you’re starting to sweat just thinking about that, don’t despair – exercise has many other benefits outside of reducing the number on the scale.

In fact, if we can divorce exercise from weight loss, we may be more likely to engage in it regularly.

You see, when you’re exercising to lose weight, and then you don’t, you become frustrated and disenchanted with the whole process. You’re more likely to resent exercise while you’re doing it and to give up on it more easily if you don’t see results on the scale.

And exercising mindfully? Forget it.

The tragedy is that so many of us have come to loathe exercise.

Even many who do it regularly don’t enjoy it, mainly because they associate it with repeated failures (to do something that our bodies are not designed to do, mind you). They aren’t in touch with the fact that movement also has incredible physical and emotional benefits, like reducing blood pressure, improving mood, boosting energy, and even improving learning.

The amazing thing is that these benefits don’t just come from running on a treadmill.

There are thousands of ways to move your body that take the focus off numbers and put it back on helping you develop a solid relationship with your body. Here are 9!

9 ways to love moving your body

1. Go to a playground

Spend an hour or so at a playground and, trust me, you’ll be worn out. Whether you’re chasing around a small child or just hanging by yourself on the monkey bars or swings, you’ll be moving your body and connecting to your inner child.

2. Start a yoga practice

For me, yoga is all about balance – physically, mentally, and emotionally. It feels amazing to move your body in new ways, meanwhile connecting with your breath, your heart, and your deepest intentions.

3. Try Hula Hooping!

The vibrant Mara from Medicinal Marzipan introduced me to this idea a couple years ago. You can’t help but have fun just watching her. You’ll definitely want to give it a try.

4. Take a dance class

Whether it’s tango, tap, or Zumba, taking a dance class is a fun way to connect with others and get your body moving to the music. Find a beginner class and grab a partner if it makes you feel more comfortable.

5. Schedule walks with friends

Speaking of companions, walks with friends are great ways to get your blood flowing while catching up on the all the latest gossip. You get the benefits of both moving and connecting, both of which are associated with healthier bodies and minds.

6. Play in the pool

To me, swimming laps seems like torture. Bringing out the noodle, kickboards, and diving for quarters? Now that’s fun!

7. Meditate

Think meditation means being all in your head? Meditation can be used in all kinds of ways to enhance connection with your body. Try this “Hunger to Move” meditation to discover what kind of movement your body is craving. Then do it!

8. Slip and Slide, Anyone?

One of my personal favorite activities of youth, the slip n’ slide can be just as fun once you’re all grown up. While it may a recipe for injury, take it easy and you’ll find yourself laughing harder than you have in a while.

9. Join a league

Sports leagues are great ways to meet new people and try out a sport in a non-competitive environment (Okay, so some leagues are pretty competitive. Join those if you’re a more serious player.). Hop online to find a volleyball, soccer, kickball, or basketball league.

Which of these activities have you tried? What would you add for fun ways to move your body?

P.S. Trying to make exercise a habit? This will help – and it’s free!

Photo by Mohammed Hijas on Unsplash