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Category: Productivity

How to Organize Your Desk

How to Organize Your Desk

I had a desk in my bedroom growing up. It was cheap, faux wood with a single cupboard on the right side. It always had a ton of clutter on the top. In fact, I cannot remember a time that I actually sat at the desk and used it. Do you feel this way about your desk sometimes? It’s really easy to get too much stuff on your desk to the point that you can’t really use it. I have a quick and easy guide on how to conquer your desk, so you can use it to aid your productivity.

What Do You Use Your Desk For?

The work you do on your desk shows you how you should organize it. I use mine as a space for my computer, so most of my time at my desk is computer time. Therefore, I can have a lot on my desk, because I rarely need to use physical space for my work. I have a friend who is going to grad school, so she uses her desk for school work. She needs plenty of open space, so she has room for her textbooks and notebooks. Figure out what you use your desk for and make sure that space is favorable for that.

Take Off Everything That Doesn’t Belong

If you are anything like me, you tend to get stuff on your desk that just doesn’t belong. For me, it’s most often notebooks, but for you, it could be paper piles or art project from your kids. For now, take all of the things off your desk that isn’t related to your desk’s purpose. Either put them away where they go or set them aside for the moment. This should leave you with a clear desk. I only have my computer and its accessories (and a cat window seat, but that isn’t actually ON the desk, so it doesn’t count.)

Give Your Clutter A Home

No matter what clutter ends up on your desk there is always a way to give it a home. If you have a lot of pens on your desk, buy a pen holder and put it in a prominent spot (mine is a pot my mom’s friend made.) I struggled with notebook clutter, so I got an inbox for my desk. At the end of the day, I put all of my notebooks and other clutter in it and I clean it out once a week to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.  Whatever your clutter is, there is a way to manage it. Brainstorm a way that fits into your work style.

Set a Reminder

Now that you have your desk a little more organized. Set to-dos for the future to revisit it. Try a week, a month, and two months from now. At the three month mark, reevaluate your process and identify any systems that aren’t working. You know how you need to use your desk space! Make sure that you are keeping your desk in line with that process.

I hope your desk is easy to use now! I know I always feel better after I organize my desk. It makes it a lot easier for me to give my full attention to my work. How do you use your desk? How does organization help you to feel more productive? What tips do you have to keep an organized workspace?

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10 Things That Make Me Happy Right Now

10 Things That Make Me Happy Right Now

Sometimes, things get hard. We get lost in the things we have to do and how much time we have left to do them. It’s tough when things don’t go the way we expect. I invite you to put those things aside and let yourself have a quiet moment to think of ten things that make you happy right now. Here are the ten I came up with.

  1. My Cat Hazel
  2. Birds on my Feeder
  3. Hiking
  4. Crocheting
  5. Axel
  6. Reading Helpful Blogs
  7. Ed Sheeran Pandora Radio
  8. Podcasts (my favorite podcast is My Favorite Murder)
  9. Running
  10. Plants

Even this little activity can help you to remember that everything in life isn’t hard and not everything is life makes you mad either. Some things are just there to make you happy.

What is your list of ten?

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One Small Thing is Better Than Nothing

One Small Thing is Better Than Nothing

Sometimes I let things fall behind. I forget to clean out my email for weeks or I haven’t worked on my online course in months. Sometimes I don’t feel like doing anything, even things I think are fun. It’s so easy to get into a rut and so hard to find a way out. But I’ve found something that helps take the edge off of the times where doing anything is too much.

From Scratch Paper Studio

One small thing is better than nothing. It’s an amazingly simple concept: do something, no matter how small it is, even doing one thing is way better than doing nothing.

When my email gets overwhelming, I tell myself to delete the ones that are obviously spam. I do that one thing, that takes me less than five minutes, and the next time I open my email box it seems that much less daunting.

For my online class, I set a timer for five minutes in the morning and do what work I can in that time. It’s very slow going, but it is preferable to making no progress.

Your small steps might be smaller or larger than mine, but they still count for something. Look around and find your ruts. Do one small thing to make them that much easier.

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Organize Your Cleaning Schedule

Organize Your Cleaning Schedule

Ever since I was a kid I had trouble keeping up with cleaning. It resulted in a lot of fights with my parents and my first apartment got pretty gross. I like cleanliness a lot, but I have a serious problem with actually cleaning. Then I came up with a cleaning schedule and it changed everything! Suddenly I was actually keeping up with my cleaning tasks and I was able to keep my home up to the level I wanted it. If you feel the same way about cleaning, here are the steps I use to create my cleaning schedule.

Step One: Brainstorm

It’s time to brainstorm a list of all the cleaning activities you want to incorporate into your schedule. You can divide them in a number of ways including daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly. I tend to go to each room of my house and list all the different cleaning activities that need to be done, then I divide them up by the frequency they need to be done. You structure this in whatever way makes sense to you.

Step Two: Incorporate It Into Your Schedule

Set up a time that you are going to clean. I schedule a few weekly tasks each day and do them right after I’m done with work. Another way of doing this is doing all the tasks on one day, like on Sunday or the last weekend of the month is the weekend you clean.  It all depends on your schedule and season of life. But picking a certain time to do it will help you to remain accountable to yourself and after a few weeks it will seem like second nature to clean then. If you have kids, give them tasks or have them help with yours, as their age allows. It shows them that they are a part of the household. It was the way I learned to do laundry!

Step Three: Make Incentives

I know that a surefire way to make me do anything is to give myself a reason. This can be anything really, watching a movie you really like, or going out to dinner, or getting a sticker. Whatever works to motivate you. And if you have kids, this can be a good way to motivate them as well and it can teach them to be proud of their work! Once it becomes routine, you can stop using incentives (or keep going).

My Cleaning Schedule

In case you wanted an example, here is my current cleaning schedule.

Daily

Clean Dishes, Squeegee Shower Doors after Shower, Organize Rooms Before Bed (basically I walk around and straighten things up)

Weekly

Monday: Scoop Cat Box, Clean Shower, Clean Bathroom Mirror, Counter, Sink, and Toilet

Tuesday: Vacuum Living Room and Bedroom, Sweep and Mop Bathroom and Kitchen (I also go grocery shopping this day)

Wednesday: Scoop Cat Box, Clean Kitchen Counter, Stove, Sink, Microwave, and Fridge

Thursday: Laundry, Clean Shower Doors, Empty Garbages, Empty Recycling

Friday: Scoop Cat Box, Water Plants, Fill Birdseed, Sweep Balcony (I also do my banking on this day)

Saturday and Sunday: Off Days! I use that time to travel!

I keep my cleaning schedule as simple as I can and it keeps my house at the cleanliness level that I maintain best. Remember, this schedule is supposed to make your life easier, play with it until it feels like the right fit for you and your season in life. Please tell me what you think of this step-by-step and tell me what your schedule looks like! Happy cleaning!

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4 Reasons to Set Goals for Yourself

4 Reasons to Set Goals for Yourself

I have a lot of goals in my life. Some are related to being a virtual assistant others are related to this blog and still others are in my personal life. I am a very goal orientated person. Not everyone is this way, and for a while, I wasn’t either. Having dreams and plans doesn’t mean they are going to be accomplished; I realized that I needed goals in place to help me stay on the path to all I wanted to do. Not everyone has gotten to the point where they realize they need to make real and actionable goals. Here are a few reasons why you should.


Goals Give You Direction

I know that when I think of all the things I want to get done in my life I go into panic mode. There are so many things I would like to accomplish and simply not enough time to get them done, at least not all at once. Setting up specific and actionable goals for yourself fights this feeling of panic. You have a list of the goals you want to concentrate on and, hopefully, a plan to get them done.

Helps You Plan

By writing down the goals you want to concentrate on, you are creating a plan. It may be as simple as when you feel like working on one of them, you do. It could also be as complicated as writing very specific steps to accomplishing those goals. It doesn’t matter which end of this spectrum you fall closest to, it matters that you can see the end goal and you work towards it. It’s one of the great things about creating goals and accomplishing them.

Moves You to a Better Life

Goals often start out as dreams. They can be little or large, but they are something you want to accomplish to make your life better. This is a huge motivator and can push you to devote more time to the goals that are most important in this stage of your life.

Shows You What is Important

The best thing that goal setting can do is show you the most important things in your life. By sifting through all the things you want to be doing and picking just a few to work on at the moment, you are showing yourself what is truly a priority in your life. I know that is something that always makes me feel better.

Achieving a lot of the things you want in life is completely possible. I won’t lie and say that I don’t have days where I feel crushed by the huge number goals I have, but I do feel more grounded when I can look at my goals and know which ones I’m concentrating on. Take some time today to think of what’s attainable for you now and what you want to work towards.

 

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How to Organize Your Email Inbox

How to Organize Your Email Inbox

Email inboxes can be very scary places. It’s so easy for them to become overcrowded, which can lead even the best of us to missing important emails. This post will show you the things to think about when organizing your email. There is no one way to do this. It’s all up to your own personal preferences.

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First and foremost, you need to decide on the general lay out of your email. Do you want to use folders or have all emails in the main inbox? Do you need an archiving system or are you comfortable using the search option to find older emails? This all depends on how your own brain functions and what you are able to keep up with. I’m a little anal sometimes, so I have a folder for everything and I keep emails for years just in case. It’s what works for me.

Second, how do you want to keep up with tasks in your emails? I know that a lot of my emails require action on my part. There are a variety of ways to keep the tasks straight. You can write the task down in your task making app, flag or star the email, or leave the message as unread until you finish it. Personally, I keep emails that still need attention in my general inbox and once the task is done, I move it into my archives. Again, this all depends on personal preference.

Third, you should decide how you want to save emails and what items you want to delete. Some people like to save all of their emails, while others only save the emails they really need. It depends on what is important in your emails and what you want to save. I’m relatively stingy with the emails I keep, because once I have them archived I rarely go through and delete them.

I think the biggest takeaway is to organize your inbox how you see fit. Evaluate what is bothering you about your current email set up and start from there. It will make you feel much better and help you to stay more organized once you have a system for dealing with your emails. Then you don’t have any more emails getting lost in your inbox.

What are your tricks to keeping your email clean? Do you have any advice for them rest of us?

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The Bullet Journal: Organize Your Life Simply

The Bullet Journal: Organize Your Life Simply

 

In this blog, I am all about making life more organized as easily as possible. The bullet journal definitely makes the cut.

 

The concept is to create short journal “entries” each day of the week to remember tasks, events, and any other notes for the day. It can be as simple or as complicated as you want it to be. And the best part is it is completely customizable. It’s whatever you decide it needs to be. I’ll walk you through the basic set-up and then describe how to choose for yourself which features benefit you and your life.

 

 

Materials
You only really need two things to start a bullet journal.

 

1. A notebook. (I got mine at Target, but many people like the Leuchtturm 1917)

 

2. A writing implement. (I use a blue pen from my work)

 

Of course, you can always use more materials than that. You can have multiple colored pens or markers, you can use tabs or bookmarks, but the bare minimum is a notebook and writing utensil of your choosing.

 

 

Index and Logs
The very first thing in your bullet journal is the index and page numbers. The index a simple list of where everything is. This journal is a stream of consciousness, whenever you think of something to add, you put it on the next blank page and add the next sequential page number. The index is the way to easily be able to find each entry and what you are looking for.

 

There are three types of logs: future log, monthly log, and weekly log. The future log is a way to lay out the coming months. Usually this is done in six-month stints. It’s a way to quickly look over your future. The monthly logs are usually set up at the beginning of each month and show any pertinent events or notes for the month. Some people add a to-do list for the month here. The weekly log is for mapping the coming week. This is most helpful with to-dos.

 

 

Tasks, Events, and Notes
 Here is where we get to the heart of the bullet journal. Tasks are the most common; they are the things that need to get done. They are typically denoted by a bullet point (hence a bullet journal) and when a task is completed, an “x” is drawn through the bullet. I like to use boxes and fill them in as I complete each task, it’s just my preference.

 

Events are the things you schedule, such as a doctor’s appointment or stopping at the store after work. They are denoted with a circle (and I use triangles). Notes are anything you want to remember for the day and are denoted by a dash (which I use the same thing). They can be as simple as saying you have leftovers to writing down the first word of your child.

 

All three of these categories are important and differentiating them is also important. You should be able to glance at your daily list and immediately see how many appointments you have scheduled. You should also be able to quickly read through any notes you have when you go back through your journal.

 

 

Migrating and Abandoning
What happens if you don’t get everything done for the day? You have two simple options: either you move it to the next day or you abandon it. To migrate a task or event to a new day simply put an arrow through its bullet and write it on the next day’s list. This way, you know that the task is still being taken care of, just not on the day you originally intended it. If you decided it’s not the right time for that particular task or the event ended up not happening, you can draw a line through the whole entry. The simplicity is astounding, but this method seriously works.

 

 

The Bullet Journal is Whatever You Want
I want to wrap up this post by reminding you that the Bullet Journal is whatever you want it to be. You can already see that I have made a few tweaks to the original model by using different bullets than the original. I have also completely done away with the future, monthly, and weekly logs. They just don’t work for me. My bullet journal looks mostly like a daily to do list; it’s very rare that I write a note.  Also, sometimes I write an arrow to migrate and I don’t write it down for the next day or I scratch out an entry only to have it reappear two days later. There are no rules when it comes to your personal bullet journal. It’s whatever you want to make it so your life is a little easier. I would suggest looking around at how different people use their journals to get a feel for the style that suits you best. I’ll share a few of my sources below. I would suggest setting up your journal in the traditional fashion for the first few months, then tweaking the things that just don’t work or adding in something you wish you had. It’s all up to you, which is why this is my favorite method of scheduling. have fun learning a new organization tool!

 

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4 Tools Every Crocheter Needs

4 Tools Every Crocheter Needs

When I first started crocheting, I thought that all I needed was yarn and a hook. I quickly realized that there are a lot more tools that a crocheter needs (and promptly went out to buy them all.) Here are the top four that a new crocheter might not think about.

1. Scissors

It’s pretty impossible to crochet without some sort of cutting implement, unless you are making a single color piece. Once you start getting into pieces that have multiple colors, you need to cut yarn. I started by using whatever scissors I had lying around. Then I upgraded to a small pair of scissors that fit in my bag better (affiliate link). Then, as I started forgetting to bring my scissors with me when I was out of the house, I bought a pendant (affiliate link). It’s something I can keep on my key chain, so I always have a yarn cutting implement with me (and it just looks cute.)

2. Stitch Markers

These nifty little gadgets have a lot of different uses. They can be used to mark the first stitch when you are working in a round, it can mark the number of stitches when you are working on a blanket, and it can mark stitches when you are working on a complicated pattern. It’s basically a little reminder for later. There are typical stitch markers that are used in crochet and knitting (affiliate link). I use safety pins because I have a lot of them after running a bunch of 5ks. Basically, you need anything small that won’t fall off the stitches (I learned the hard way that bobby pins don’t work.)

3. Yarn Needles

The best way I have found to weave ends in is to use a yarn needle. It’s a large needle with a dull tip and can be used to weave ends in or sew two projects together. The first time I got some I got plastic ones but I would recommend getting metal ones in a few different sizes (affiliate link). The metal ones tend to work better through projects and don’t break as easily.

4. Hook Book

As you get more serious about crocheting, you’ll notice the amount of hooks you own grow. It can be hard to keep track of all of them. This is why you need to buy something to store all of your hooks and all of the supplies that go with them. There are a lot of different styles of hook books. The first one I had functioned a lot like an actual book and the one I have now rolls out to show all my accessories (affiliate link). Basically, find a book that will work for you, at a price point that works for you. It will save you a lot of lost hooks.

Crocheting is such a wonderful hobby to have. I love being able to create beautiful and useful pieces. Of course, I need all of my various supplies in order to get it done. Do you have any tools you absolutely need when you crochet? Please share or ask questions!

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5 Phone Apps to Earn Extra Money

5 Phone Apps to Earn Extra Money

     Having a little extra money is something we all could use and we all get into seasons of our lives where we need to squeeze every cent out of our paychecks to make ends meet. I know I’m in a major one right now as I plan my wedding (jeez, that’s expensive). I went on a massive search to find free ways to save and in the process found some pretty cool phone apps that help to supplement my stretched income.
 shopkick
      First is Shopkick. This app is based on a points, called kicks. You get kicks one of three ways. The one I use the most is walk-in kicks. You walk into a store and you get a certain number of kicks just by doing that. There are also kicks for scanning specific products within the store. You don’t even need to buy the item to get this reward, just scan it. Then, there are certain stores you can get a kick for each dollar you spend (it requires linking your card to your account). You can redeem these kicks for gift cards or prizes (and there are some pretty great ones). It does take awhile to get enough kicks to redeem, but they are very easy to get. I usually get mine as I’m doing my normal shopping. I’ve even walked around the mall and gone into a store just to get the walk-in kicks! If you are interested here is my referral link.
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     Next is Checkout 51. This app is rebate based. You see certain products listed in the app, you buy the product, and scan the receipt. Then you get cash back for your purchase. Once you get over $20.00, you can cash out and they will send a check to you. This is another slow going app, often I’m only earning a dollar or so a week. But you can get money back by buying items you would have bought anyways or base your splurges upon what is available for rebate. I always have to tell myself “just because you can get a rebate doesn’t mean you need to buy it.” Which means that they have some pretty good rebates on there. Ibotta_white_lg
     Ibotta is a lot like Checkout 51. You see rebates, buy food or other supplies, and get money back by scanning in your receipts.You also need $20.00 before you can cash out, but the ways to cash out are much more diverse. You can funnel the money into your PayPal or get a gift card (I always get an Amazon one to fuel my eBook obsession.) I’ve noticed that Ibotta usually has a wider selection than Checkout 51, though you can only use it at the stores that Ibotta has partnered with (meaning no Aldi womp wah). I do enjoy the user interface and find it easier to wrack up rebates. If you’re interested, please use my referral code.

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The fourth is Swagbucks. I was really leery of this one for a while, but once I started using it I was hooked. You complete tasks in order to get points or swagbucks. These tasks range from watching a group of videos to answering a survey to shopping online. Each task you complete gets you a certain number of swagbucks. You can redeem them in the form of gift card codes send to your email. This is a really easy way to earn a little extra cash. It comes on an app and a website making it even easier to access. Here’s my referral link, if you are interested.

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     This last app doesn’t give you savings or rebates, but it does help you to find the cheapest gas in your area. GasBuddy show you the gas prices of area gas stations. You can either sort by distance or price. I use it to see what the lowest price is in my area and then I find the nearest gas station to me that has that price. It’s also helpful to be able to find gas stations on a road trip as you can see a map of all the gas stations in an area and find one close to the highway.

Getting extra cash is always a wonderful thing. Try any of these apps to help that paycheck go a little bit further. All of them help me to supplement my tight budget. What are your favorite ways to stretch your budget? Have any of these apps worked wonders for you?

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