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Monday, July 21, 2014

Live with Less: Evernote


I used to be addicted to sticky notes. There I said it and I am sure I am not alone.

I had stacks of them in every color and would stick them to the back of my phone with to-do lists on them. I would use a pink sticky for Boho things, a yellow one for personal things, a blue one for work things, you get the idea. I would have a whole rainbow of notes hanging off my phone case at all times.

Then selfies became a thing and I had to find a new place for my notes so they wouldn’t end up in all my pics (such a first world problem, I know). I started carrying cute notebooks of various portable sizes, but instead of writing my to-do lists on the book pages, I would still write them on sticky notes and then stick those to each page. I just could not break the sticky note habit!!

That is until I decided that I needed to lighten the load in my bag. I was carrying around too much stuff and the notebooks were weighing me down! I moved towards keeping notes IN my phone, in an effort to live with less and stop carrying around so much stuff (not to mention losing important notes to myself). I started using the Notes app that came preloaded on my iPhone. It was ok, but not easy to search or edit. When I used it for to-dos, once a task was complete, I couldn’t cross it off like I did on my stickies. I had to completely delete it from the note, which just does not feel as good. I like to look at my list at the end of the day and feel good about all the scribbled out items. You know?

Then I discovered Evernote. At first, I used Evernote as a separate place to keep notes when I was on a journaling kick. At the end of each day I would type out a few things that happened and something I was thankful for as an exercise in gratitude. I liked how I could search through Evernote way easier than searching through the regular Notes app.

A few weeks ago, I finally upgraded all my apps and realized Evernote had added all these fancy features including the most wonderful thing ever….the checklist! Now every day I make myself an Evernote list and check the box of every task I accomplish through the day. I love a check marked list. I love a list in general which is why I dedicated last week to lists and still can’t seem to stop writing about them.

Another thing I love about the Evernote app is, I can schedule myself reminders for future things and don’t have to keep them on a list for a week. So next week, when I need to remind Evan about something on the calendar, I can set up a reminder that will automatically be emailed to me in the morning. That way I can add it to that day’s list and don’t have to look at it for a whole week.

I am sure there are a million features of the Evernote app that I am not using just yet, but it is so nice to have all my lists and notes in one place, reminders for things that would have been a whole separate sticky note, a place to journal that is always with me, and no more stickies all over the place!

If anyone out there has good Evernote tips, I would love to know them! Using this handy app is just one way I have tried to use the resources I have to learn to live with less!


Do you have an app that you use to minimize the clutter of notes and reminders everywhere?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Lists: Writing Prompts


Part of what I hope will keep me engaged on the blog (even when life gets crazy) is my need to cross something off my list, my list of writing prompts, that is.

I put together a list of topics I want to explore and assigned myself one per week to hold me accountable. The range is wide, but the common theme is self-improvement. I want to always find new ways to keep myself happy, healthy, and always learning. What better way to do that than share with the universe?

  1. Getting started
  2. Lists
  3. Live with less
  4. Gratitude
  5. Be Content
  6. Happiness
  7. Adventure
  8. Home
  9. Family
  10. Health
  11. Beauty
  12. Habits
  13. Busy
  14. Sleep
  15. Friends
  16. Aging
  17. Inspiration
  18. Travel
  19. Energy
  20. Clutter
  21. Goals
  22. Food
  23. Fitness
  24. Home
  25. Consuming
  26. Baby
  27. Limitations
  28. Reflection
  29. Music
  30. Reading

I was hoping to list 52 for the 52 weeks of the year, but got stumped about half way through. My goal is at week 17 (Inspiration) to make a new list that will take me through the end of the year.

Ideas are welcome!! Any topics of interest?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Lists: The Nagging To Do List

I decided to start posting to this blog again when I started reading “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. I am still in the process of reading this, so if there is a chapter at the end about not starting a blog when you have too many things to do, the joke is on me, because I haven’t made it that far. Too busy.

In one of the first chapters, Rubin talks about a task list of things that she is sure will make her happier once it is done. This list is a list of things that have been put off for far too long. I have such a list as I am sure most people do. I call it my “July to dos – the nagging list”. Literally, that is how it is labeled in my Evernote folder on my phone (more on Evernote that later).

I look at it every day and have given myself 1 month to complete all tasks. So far I am proud of my progress, but man if all of this stuff isn’t the bane of my existence.

Here goes:

  • Clean out car
  • Oil change and inspection
  • Paint the dining room
  • New York Life appointment
  • Dermatologist appointment
  • Cancel cable TV
  • Return Comcast equipment
  • Craigslist/Donate items
  • Reorganize clothes closet
  • Consignment drop off
  • Goodwill drop off
  • Sign up for baby classes
  • Schedule hospital tour
  • Cat vet appointments

Nothing on this list is overwhelming in and of itself, but add them together and I am starting to feel a stress headache coming on. I was hoping for a big shot of euphoria with every check mark, but sadly, the rest of the stuff on the list is still haunting me. I hope once the final item is crossed off the list I will have the feeling of winning the lottery. Only time will tell….

Sometimes it feels better just to put it out there. What is on your Nagging To Do List?



Monday, July 14, 2014

Lists: Day Zero Project

There is something so gratifying about checking something off a to do list. I have always liked to plan and organize. Breaking things down in little goals to accomplish is so incredibly satisfying. For me, the planning part is sometimes just as good as the actual activity. 

A while back I came across this article, "How Vacations Affect Your Happiness". In it they explain that research has show that planning a vacation is just as enjoyable if not more enjoyable than taking the trip. If there are lists and check marks involved, I can completely understand why that would be true.

I was inspired, 288 days ago, to make a big list. Chad Williams introduced me to the Day Zero Project which is a website used to create and share a to do list, 101 things to do in 1001 days. Chad is an adventurer, so his list is way more extreme than mine, but creating this kind of a list is meant to be personal. 

It took me 3 days to finish my list. 101 things are a lot of things! Not everything is something I have never done before, but everything on my list is something to enjoy, nothing like get my oil changed or clean the bathroom type of stuff. 1001 days is a little less than 3 years, so thinking long term is part of the challenge, but also part of the excitement of the list. Thinking about what life will be like that far out is something I do in a big picture way, but not necessarily in a small task kind of way.

Some of the highlights of my list include:
  • Take a cooking class
  • Visit Chicago
  • Host a cocktail party for people who inspire me
  • Start an email newsletter
  • Paint something
  • Go paddle-boarding
  • Send 10 unexpected gifts to friends
  • Ride in a rickshaw
  • Go one full day without saying one word

Totally random, I know. If you are bored or looking for ideas, you can see the full list here

I have checked off a few and it feels great every time. 

The challenge of making a list like this is simply getting started. My advice is start small. Think of just 3. 

What would yours be?

Friday, July 11, 2014

Getting Started: 5 Tips

When you Google “Getting Started” it pulls up specific instructions for starting specific types of projects, but there are universal tips and tricks to starting just about anything. Whether you are starting a new diet, starting a business, or just trying to motivate yourself to get off the sofa and clean the bathroom, these tips can help to make that first step forward toward your goal.

1. Make a list with at least one actionable item you can do right now. Every big project can be broken down in to smaller pieces to make them more manageable and to help you celebrate small successes. To me, there is nothing quite as rewarding as checking something off a to-do list, so why not start your project by organizing your list and putting that first check mark on it.

2. Get an accountability buddy. Making your self accountable to someone else is like forcing peer pressure on yourself, but in a good way. Whether you are trying to get to the gym, trying to quit smoking, or working on organizing your hall closet, if you announce it to someone else, you will feel the added pressure to follow through on your promise, which might just be the boost you need to get going.

3. Divide and conquer tasks with a team. Similar to the buddy system, if you have a project or task that can be shared with someone else you will have the accountability that comes with working as a team, and the benefit of sharing the work load. Decided who will tackle what portion of your project and communicate the deadlines that each of you will adhere to.

4. Visualize the outcome. If you can dream it you can do it! Take some time to think about what your life will be life when your project is complete or your goal achieved. Live in that moment and come back to that feeling when you are feeling discouraged or having trouble getting going.

5. Start with a cleanse. In my post earlier this week, I talked about the three ways that I am cleansing. Cleansing is a way to hit the reset button and start a new project with fresh perspective and added energy. You can rearrange your space, take some time to meditate, or plan a full on detox. The idea is to clear out space in your life for your new endeavor.

It is Friday; the end of the week, but also a great day to start what ever exciting adventure awaits you this weekend! Go forth and get started!!


Next Week’s topic: “Lists”

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Getting Started: Time to Cleanse


I worked with a woman who used to rearrange her office before every major project. She would literally move the furniture around, clean, and reorganize her entire workspace. I used to think it was a stalling tactic, a form of procrastination, but have come to realize that starting with a clean slate, as they say, does help you tackle a project or problem with added energy and refreshed perspective.

Mental Cleanse I just had a full week’s vacation away, two whole weekends, plus 6 full work days off. This is the most time I have taken off since my wedding and honeymoon four years ago and IT WAS AMAZING. I had enough time to relax, spend time with family, and refocus on what I want to accomplish once I head back to the real world. I had time to set goals for work, for my business, and for my personal life. There is nothing like time away from your daily routine to put your priorities in perspective.

Physical Cleanse I have done a bunch of different eating cleanses in the past few years, but right now is not the time for me to be doing anything extreme with my diet since I am six months pregnant. I was pumped to come across this 21 Day Morning Detox Routine while browsing on Pinterest. It is less about going extreme and more about creating a healthy habit. The cleanse is simple, (and I have no idea why it is for 21 days) you drink warm water with lemon every morning when you wake up. A ritual to start your day with hydration, is absolutely a cleanse I can get in to.

Objects Cleanse I just started reading The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin while I was on vacation and for my last day off, I vowed to start on my Nagging To-Do List, a list of things that you have been putting off, that can only make you feel better once accomplished. The two things I tackled on the list kick-started a cleanse of my space. No, I didn’t clean the bathroom even though it really needs it. Instead, I finally changed out all the hangers in my closet to matching Huggable Hangers, recommended by my professional organizer, Minima. Then I cleaned out all the clutter, vacuumed, and detailed my car. These two very rewarding projects (that took a total of 2 hours to complete) were awesome things to check off my list and absolutely gave me energy to keep going with my list.

Here’s to added energy and feeling good about getting started!


Sunday, July 6, 2014

New Beginnings

So much has happened since I started (and abandoned) this blog. I remember weeks when I would have gone out to 4 or 5 restaurants and had so much content to post about dining in Richmond that my only problem was finding time to write about it all. I loved this blog so much. It connected me to some great friends here in RVA, got me invited to some cool events, and was a great outlet for something that I absolutely love to do, write about stuff.

So what happened?

Life gets crazy. Especially when you are an over achieving, volunteer for everything, don’t know your limitations until you run directly in to a brick wall, kind of person. I have a lot of reasons why dining daily in Richmond no longer fits my lifestyle. I became vegetarian. I opened a business, while still working full time. And most recently (this January), I got knocked up. All of these things are awesome, but at the end of the day, when the blog went silent, something was missing. My outlet for discovering new things and sharing them was gone, and it is about time I do something about that.

Blogs can be stressful. Not soon before my blogging hiatus, this thing was really stressing me out. I would worry that I wasn’t posting consistently enough. I was stressed that my posts weren’t very good. I hated every picture I took to try to make my blog pretty. And if I didn’t get responses from readers, I felt like I was totally sucking. My blog became a thing I was using to try to impress other people and that made it not as fun.

Thinking of stuff is hard. Coming up with interesting content about a pretty specific subject, dining in Richmond, multiple times a week, is really not easy. Some weeks the creativity flows and other weeks I got nothing. I would get really bummed if I went to a restaurant that wasn’t good because then I couldn’t write about it and felt like I wasted not only my dollars, but my valuable blog research time. When my blog was my main hobby, it was easier to stay motivated to be creative, but when my schedule starting filling up, my time to think of cool stuff was fading away.

So, what happens now?

I am going to attempt a do-over, with a different goal in mind this time. I am going to:

Be realistic with my limitations. My goal is one post a week. If I am feeling fancy and have more in me to share, I will. If I don’t, I won’t stress. When I have this baby, I will probably take a break. And if my job/business/life gets busy, the blog will have to wait. My goal is not to be a professional blogger or get a book deal.

Not stress about all the extra stuff. Eventually, I will update the header, links, and blogroll on this blog. The most important word in that sentence is “eventually”. I will not worry about what a terrible photographer I am and stay away from posting pictures unless I have good ones. I will not think about SEO, blog comments, and all the other stuff that turns a fun hobby into something serious and stressful.

Use writing prompts to keep my creativity flowing. I will write about things that I want to read about that most of the time will have nothing to do with eating in fancy restaurants. I put together a list of 52 topics and will pick one every week, so that I don’t get burned out of one particular subject.

Let’s see how this goes…

This week’s topic: “Getting Started”