Category: life advice

My ‘Every Damn Day’ List

Looking for productivity tips? Trying to find work/life balance or manage self-care? Then you need an 'every damn day' list! Click through to find out what it is + how to write your own!

Since I am a Virgo eldest child of Germanic/Scandinavian descent it will surprise you 0% to know that I love lists and productivity and goals and Accomplishing All Of The Things In A Timely Manner. But.  In addition to being all of these things I am also human.  So this means that sometimes I spend two hours refreshing various social media websites, pawing through my cupboards + moaning about how I don’t have enough snacks, and then walking to a coffee shop where I buy a latte and spend two hours refreshing social media sites.

And then I feel disappointed in myself for having wasted a work day clicking links on Twitter.

Two years ago I started doing something I call the ‘Every Damn Day’ list.  It’s a list of insanely basic things that I try to do every day. (And let me be clear, I’m aiming preeeeeetty low with this list.) But if I do everything on this list and THEN spend the rest of the day on Facebook in a coffee shop at least I will have been at least the teeniest, tiniest bit productive.

Because, if I do the things on this list every day, I will end my day fully dressed! hydrated and vaguely refreshed! having taken a few steps towards meeting new people and advancing my career!  (Even if the latter takes the form of giggling over cocktails with another blogger and then @mentioning a bunch of people on Twitter)

How do you deal with those days where you fall down internet worm holes?  What are your productivity tricks?  What would be on your ‘Every Damn Day’ list?

Photo by Hope House Press on Unsplash

What To Do When Someone Says Something Offensive

If you're not particularly confrontational but you're sick of your friends using words like "gay" and "retarded," this post is for you. //

A few years ago, my insanely smart, insurmountably sassy friend Cathy inadvertently created The World’s Best Response to

a) catcallers
b) people who drop the n-word or r-word
c) anyone who just generally says ignorant, offensive stuff on the regular

Cathy was walking to the bus after work, deep in thought. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw a man trying to get her attention.

Putting on her best Polite, Accommodating Voice she inquired:
“I’m sorry. What did you say?”

The man stammered/blushed/mumbled/stumbled away and that’s when Cathy realized he’d actually been catcalling her and she’d inadvertently politely confronted him. And when she actually responded to him, he nearly turned inside out with shame and cowardice.

From then on, Cathy used this method with almost every man who catcalled her. And apparently it has a 90% success rate of inducing shame!

And really, I think you can use this whenever anyone says something offensive that you both know they shouldn’t be saying.

When your friend says she feels like a ‘retard’ because she dropped the ball on a work project.
When a co-worker uses a racial slur.
When someone describes a movie they didn’t like as ‘gay.’

Some direct eye contact and a polite “I’m sorry. What did you say?” goes a long way. Usually, people know they shouldn’t be using those words, but they might be testing the waters to see if they can say them around you. Or they might have forgotten themselves.

Asking people to repeat words they probably know are hurtful forces them to recognize their word choices. Click To Tweet

If that doesn’t work, I like to say something like “Yeah, that move suuuuure was homosexual. Lots of homosexual sex in that film!”   Or you could even say “I think what you mean is the movie was poorly plotted and acted.  Right?”

Of course, this won’t work every time.  Sadly, there are down-to-the-bone racists that exist in the world and men who would see a polite inquiry as an opportunity to yell crass things in your sweet face.

But most people?  They’re good and just need a reminder that there is a human on the receiving end of those unpleasant words.

How do you deal with catcallers?  Or when people say offensive things?
Photo by on Unsplash

Your Corner Stone of Awesome

Friends, I’d like to share something impressive with you.
When I was 25 and living in Taiwan, I negotiated the terms of my lease in Chinese.
What?  Yes.
(Or, perhaps more accurately, Google Translate and some very decisive body language negotiated my lease.)

When I was 26, I got myself from Santorini, Greece to San Remo, Italy via six different pieces of transport (ferry, train, plane, subway, train, taxi).  I did it alone, without speaking Greek or Italian and I only got lost once and that was because I fell asleep on the train.When I was 27, I moved to New Zealand with a dude I’d been dating for three months.  I earned my M.A. in 18 months while working two jobs. (P.S. I would not necessarily recommend doing this.)

When I was 29, I went through an awful break up that necessitated starting my life over.  I was so broke I took a second job and blogged from my work computer because it took my three months to save enough money to buy a $200 netbook.
I’m not really telling you guys these things to impress you so much as to remind myself of what I am really, actually capable of.
When I’m feeling malcontent.
Or intimidated.
Or nervous.
Or overwhelmed.
I remind say to myself  “Self, you’re the same person who negotiated a lease in a second language. You slept on the floor of a ferry to get to Italy and teach at a summer camp.  You rebuilt your life from scratch – and the second version is way, way, waaaaay better.  This thing?  This.ain’t.shit.  You got this.”
We’ve all got those cornerstones of awesome.  Those amazing/hard/crazy things we’ve accomplished that we can look back on it wonder.
Next time you’re feeling less-than, look back at your awesome and remind yourself that if you can do THAT?  You can totally, totally do THIS.
What are your cornerstones of awesome?  Where can you draw inspiration from yourself?

You Are Not Defined Exclusively By Your Relationships With Other People


A few years ago, a close friend was going through a rough time.
One of those this-is-an-era-of-terrible-that-will-mark-my-life rough times.This friend is slightly outside of my age group – a homeowner, a minivan driver, mom to a very, very challenging teenager.  Said teenager was in the midst of making a huge mess of his life.  There was addiction and lying and fleeing and a heaping helping of blame.All this despite very, very good parenting.

Her son’s shenanigans had been going on for years and of course (of course!) my friend and her husband felt terrible.  I’m sure there were lots of late night conversations and a lot of “what could we have done differently?”

But when I talked to my friend about this, she told me something insanely, mind-blowing zen.

“You know, I don’t define myself exclusively through my relationships with other people. I’ve loved being a wife and a mother.  And I take those roles very seriously.  But there are other things in my life that are important to me and other things that I did before I became a wife and a mother. Someday I might be a widow and someday my parents will die.  But I’ll still be here and it’s important that I have other things in my life that I love.”

(at this point I think I probably put my hand on her arm and asked her if I could be her when I grew up and how, in the name of all that is good and holy, did she become so wise?)

And she’s right, of course.

Our friendships and families and partnerships are incredibly important.  And they should be.  But they’re not everything.  Your interests and hobbies should be part of the picture.  Your political views.  Your career.  The things that excite and inspire you.

When we put all our proverbial eggs in one basket, we’re giving an awful lot of power to that one aspect of our lives.  If I only define myself by my career, what happens when I get laid off?  If’ I describe myself as a ‘mom’ first and foremost, what will I say when my kids are 25 and living in other cities?

We’re all clever, interesting, complex humans.  Let’s define ourselves as such.

image via ARROW

Happiness Secret: Upgrade Your Bum-Around Clothes

This is such a small happiness hack but it totally works: upgrade your bum around clothes! Get rid of the stained sweats and the stretched out t-shirt. Buy yourself a few things that are comfortable AND cosy!

Not very shocking confession: as someone who works from home, I can frequently be found in stretched out yoga pants and novelty t-shirts, a top knot, and flip flops.

It’s comfortable and nobody is the wiser because anytime I’m in public I wear (slightly) nicer outfits of skinny jeans, boots, flowy tops, and scarves.

Well, nobody was the wiser till I told the internet.

But lately, I’ve felt like all schlumpiness has been taking it’s toll. It’s hard to take yourself seriously in unflattering yoga pants and I’m constantly running into my neighbors in the laundry room/mail area/recycling bin area while wearing an old Mailchimp t-shirt.

As such, I’ve decided to upgrade my bum-around clothes. Because you know what feels just as comfortable as yoga pants and a t-shirt? An over-sized sweater, a pair of silly leggings, and some fancy slippers?*

But the latter feels just slightly more adult-ish! When you’re wearing cute bum-around clothes you feel smug and put together!

*I realize that there are thousands of people who view leggings + big sweater as a viable outfit.  I am not one of those people.  I don’t feel like I’m public-ready when everything I’m wearing is stretchy.

Behold! Outfits that are totally comfy and perfect for Sunday morning lounging and Target-run appropriate!


This is such a small happiness hack but it totally works: upgrade your bum around clothes! Get rid of the stained sweats and the stretched out t-shirt. Buy yourself a few things that are comfortable AND cosy!

This is such a small happiness hack but it totally works: upgrade your bum around clothes! Get rid of the stained sweats and the stretched out t-shirt. Buy yourself a few things that are comfortable AND cosy!
This is such a small happiness hack but it totally works: upgrade your bum around clothes! Get rid of the stained sweats and the stretched out t-shirt. Buy yourself a few things that are comfortable AND cosy!What do you wear when you’re bumming around the house?  Have you ever tried wearing cuter bum around clothes?

Track Your Efforts, Not Your Accomplishments

Looking for productivity tips? Or to-do list ideas? Before you get started, you need to make peace with tracking your efforts, not your accomplishments.
Almost all of us want to be happier at work.

No matter where we work, no matter what we do, no matter who we work for  – most of us most of us believe we could be happier. More content. More satisfied.

I hear this from my clients all the time! We talk social media. We come up with ideas for info products. We wax philosophical on the merits of traffic-driving posts versus personal essays on important, thought-provoking topics.

Regardless of the client or topic, one questions almost always comes up:
“How much traffic/followers/subscribers do I need before I can  ________________?”

And while I do have a pragmatic, number-based answer to that question, I also have a much healthier, sanity-saving response.

You will be a lot happier if you track your efforts rather than your accomplishments. Click To Tweet

This is true for many reasons.

1. As with most things in life, the only thing you can control is yourself

You can’t control if something you write goes viral. The biggest traffic spike this blog ever received was when Reddit thought I was the Ermagerd girl.  Shockingly enough, I did not build ‘be mistaken for internet meme’ into my marketing plan.  You can control how often you post.  You can control how much time you spend on Twitter befriending awesome people.  You can control the topics you write about.

You can’t really control who links to you, who retweets you, who likes your funny cat photos on Facebook.   You can make it significantly more likely that people will link to you and like your stuff, but you can’t really make anyone do anything.

2. Most goals are reached really, really slowly with a lot of hard work

About 12,000+ people read this blog every day.  Which is great!


I’ve been getting paid to write since I was 20 and I’ve been posting seven days a week for five plus years.  If I’d been working towards the goal of 12,000 daily readers when I started my blog, I would have given up seven years ago. (Also: I would probably have drowned myself in a sea of noodles and butter but that’s beside the point.)

3. Most accomplishments probably don’t feel the way you’d expect

When you’ve been working towards one goal for months and months (or years and years) you might just come to hate that goal.  Or by the time you reach it, you’ve seen it looming in the distance for six months and it’s not particularly surprising or joy-making.

When I handed in the final paper for my M.A. I felt super glad it was over.  And then I went out for pizza with my boyfriend. When I signed with a literary agent, I felt nervous and all “Welp, I guess this is what I’m doing with the next two years of my life.  So that six-week trip to Russia and Mongolia is out of the picture.”

4.  You’ll have a lot more efforts than accomplishments – so you’ll feel happier when you track them

Two scenarios.

What you say: “I’ll keep track of how many new clients I get!”
How you feel: “Sooooooo, three months and I’ve only landed one new client.  I’m a failure, I hate everything, and I should go drowned myself in a pool of butter and noodles.”

What you say: “I’ll keep track of how many potential clients I pitch!”
How you feel: “Wow!  I pitched five potential clients this month!  I’m about a million times braver than I was last month and my presentations are heaps smoother.  I’m getting better at dealing with rejection and my pitches are getting tighter and smarter each time.”

See the difference?

Lastly – and most importantly obviously – regular efforts lead to accomplishments.  If you focus on little, day-by-day steps the big stuff will take care of itself.

P.S. How to enjoy work even if you’re really busy and kind of overwhelmed

photo by Melinda Pack // cc