How I stay organized in my digitally overloaded world

About a month ago, I was describing my job duties to a group of people. It wasn’t until I said them out loud that I realized that I really pack a lot into a day.

“How do you stay organized?,” one person asked? Good question.

I’ve always been organized (at least when it comes to work — my mother would disagree with that statement in my teenage years). It didn’t hit me that my organizational process was noteworthy until I started really thinking about it.

And what’s my trick? Pen and paper.

Yep — in a world where I’m designing websites and managing social media for a host of businesses, managing email marketing, writing web content and more — paper prevails.

Here are my tools:

A plannerimg_20160907_183429

A big, bulky planner with pockets and a hefty notes section. This year, I’m using Kate
Spade’s “gold dots” agenda. Small planners are OK, but it’s easier to be able to write line by line what you need to accomplish on a full size one.

To-do lists

I have a strategy when it comes to making to-do lists. First, make your list as soon as you sit down at your desk in the morning. FIRST. I mean before you check your email.

THEN, check your email. Add to the list as necessary.

Of course, some digital tools help me out as well:

Google Drive

I’ve blogged about the importance of Drive in my life before, but it deserves a second shout img_20160908_082722out.

Using Drive, I not only organize my initiatives for clients and marketing, but I’m able to share those things as well. For example, I use a simple chart to keep track of what social media management clients I’m working with — including number of posts on what networks, contact information and more.

Social media managers – you can download a template of my Drive chart here.

Google Keep

While to-do lists rank No. 1, sometimes you just don’t have a pen and paper on you. That’s when Keep comes in handy. The cloud-based list app lets you take notes on your phone and then see them later from any of your other devices.

And lastly, a few other tips for staying organized:

  • Keep your email inbox uncluttered. The delete button is your friend.
  • Take breaks. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I go walk a few blocks and get some fresh air.
  • Remember to make time for other things in your life. Being a workaholic can only help you to an extent. Schedule time for a workout, to see your friends and to veg on the couch.

 

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How saving money saved my stress levels

Money sucks.

There’s really no better way to say it. Money is necessary to live, yet can be hard to manage. Money can make you happy one day, and make you sob the next.

People say money can’t buy happiness — and I believe it — but a little bit of money can really help ease your troubles.

And THAT is why it’s important to save. Not a lot. Just a little back up to help you get by.

I went though a phase where I was terrified of getting a flat tire. After getting one and having to fork out $400 I didn’t have, right out of college, I felt like that flat tire was actually the end of the world.

I realized later that I wasn’t afraid of getting a flat tire. I was afraid of getting a flat tire – or having any kind of car trouble – and not having anything left to my name after I fixed it.

So I realized I needed to save some money. I started an online savings account with Ally bank, and saved in small increments. I didn’t let myself have a choice – I had them automatically deducted from my paycheck.

The first couple of months went by and I thought that I couldn’t live without that cash. I transferred it back into my checking account almost every pay period. After a little mental training, I stopped transferring it, and started saving without even realizing it.

What happened then, was that just by having this small backup, I felt a little more secure and a little less stressed. When the day came to pay bills, I wasn’t weeping. When car trouble came up, I didn’t fret to pay for it.

Now, I know this is pretty simple financial stuff. But believe it or not, I know people that do not save a cent. Most of the time I get the “I make too little to save anything” excuse, but I’m telling you – if I can do it as a journalist, you can do it too. Put $20 into your account every paycheck. In a year you’ll have $520. That’s a pretty good buffer if you get a flat.

Going gluten-free, and giving up

I’ve struggled with allergies my entire life. It all started with an Advil that made my throat swell as a kid.

As I got older, I developed more and more allergies. Mosquito bites. Detergents. The list goes on. In adulthood, I began developing food allergies – and some pretty hardcore ones, at that, like a severe shellfish allergy. Now, I carry an EpiPen with me wherever I go.

Flash-forward to a few months ago, when I gave up on my body. Inexplicable weight gain, skin problems, and other health issues ruled my life. I went to see a doctor.

What I learned was that all of my health problems could be tied to gluten intolerance.

And thus, the grand experiment began. And it lasted almost three months, until I gave in to naan bread at my favorite Indian restaurant. That’s where I learned something, and continued to learn more, about my body:

  1. Eating gluten makes you crave gluten. That order of naan led to a quesadilla the next day, a pizza with friends the day after that, and since then, I haven’t been able to hold myself back.
  2. Gluten slows you down. In the past two weeks, I have never felt more exhausted. I’ve had to take naps just to make it through days. When I was off gluten, I’m convinced I could have run a marathon.
  3. Which leads to my next observation, which is that, while I was off gluten, I was a machine at the gym. I had so much energy that I was burning 400-500 more calories a workout (according to my Fitbit Charge HR), AND, I was still excited to walk the dogs when I got home from the gym.
  4. My other allergies weren’t as extreme. While normally if I were in a room with someone eating shellfish I would have a reaction, while I was off gluten I was able to hang out with friends eating seafood comfortably. I didn’t take any chances trying any, though.
  5. Gluten makes it impossible to lose weight. In my first week off gluten, I lost almost 10 pounds. All together during that timeframe, I lost close to 20. In the past weeks that I’ve given in…I’ve gained it all back.

Reason number five alone should be enough for anyone to consider cutting gluten out of their diet. In a way, this post might be my way of convincing myself to make the cut again.

 

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time

The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. — Bertrand Russell

There’s something about Sundays that make them so easy to waste. And, although a wasted day is something I usually regret, I can appreciate the value of spending some quality time doing nothing.

28d799ca5825933fa4588185db42819fLife is crazy: Wake up, walk the dog, get ready, make a decent breakfast, go to work, go to meetings, start new projects, finish old projects, keep up with friends, walk the dog again, start job number two, work all night, catch up online, go to the gym, go to bed. Repeat.

Being busy is a good thing. Being responsible for so many things is fulfilling. But some days, you just need to chill.

I woke up at 9 a.m. today. My body was mad at me for sleeping so late, especially because it thought it was 10 a.m. because of daylight saving. I had a to-do list a mile long, including catching up on laundry, scrubbing the floors and meal prepping for the week.

What did I do? Nothing.

I went back to bed. I slept until 1 p.m. I watched Netflix.

I did walk the dog, for the sake of both of our sanity, but I hardly call that doing anything.

I watched more Netflix. I made a frozen pizza. And now I’m writing this.

According to psychotherapist Barton Goldsmith, days like these are important. “If you tell yourself that you’re being unproductive, remember that you can’t function well if you’ve exhausted all your resources by never stopping to take a rest,” he writes here. That’s a concept I’m still struggling to instill in my life.

Happy Sunday. I hope yours was as relaxing as mine.

Are you from the entitlement generation? I am.

Entitlement generation: By definition, the group born between 1979 and 1994 who believe they are owed certain rights and benefits without further justification.

My date of birth: Aug. 13, 1991.

Fact: “It is suggested that Generation Y is reluctant to recognize authority, and unable to take criticism.” (source)MjAxMi1jMzE0OTljNzJhNzYyNjky

Fact: Millennials tend to be attention-seeking and arrogant, expecting constant praise and reward for doing not an awful lot, and lack respect for their elders.

Fact: It pains me to see my generation referred to as “the entitlement generation.”

Fact: It pains me even more to agree with the stereotype.

I know people that are doing big things. They are going to go far in life. I have friends that are going to be editors of big-city magazines and newspapers, that are going to be athletic trainers for MLB, that are going to be game-changers in their fields.

I also know people that want to be these things, but don’t want to do any work on their way to becoming them. That think that their way is always the best way; that they deserve more than they get and want to do as little work as possible.

I’ll admit I have my moments. There are some times that I think that everyone is out to get me, that nothing I can do is ever going to be right and that people don’t take me seriously. Admitting it is the first step, right?

For the most part, though, I take pride in the fact that I work hard, that I have goals that I will do anything to achieve and that I’m respected for the work that I’ve done and the person I’ve become.

There’s a quote that (surprisingly enough, is popular on blogs and social media, specifically posted by many people considered to be millennials) I really think sums up the mentality that people of all ages should have when it comes to their schoolwork, their careers and everything in general:

Work for a cause, not for applause. Live life to express, not to impress.  Don’t strive to make your presence noticed, just make your absence felt.

If I were to give advice to those just starting their careers, or even just starting college, it would be these few notes:

Work hard. It’s when you put 110% in to the things you do that you’ll start seeing results that you want.

Don’t expect respect from others until you earn it. And on the same note, respect authority figures and those that have worked in your field longer than you. You have a lot to learn from them.

Become an information sponge. Take in all of the information that you possibly can so that you can apply it in real-world settings.

Don’t be afraid to ask for something you want or need, but don’t be pushy or demanding. And again, until you’ve put in 110%, don’t assume that you deserve whatever it is you’re asking for.

And finally, get to know the people around you. Creating positive relationships with your peers and coworkers makes life a lot easier in the long run.

Plus, a note from a friend: Choose a career you love. It’ll make all the difference.

Self Improvement and Growth #TEG30Day Challenge

One of my favorite websites, this month The Every Girl is challenging women to take a self improvement and growth challenge.

Though I’m starting a few days late, I definitely think the #TEG30DayChallenge is something that I could really use right now.

Here’s my 30 Day Challenge vow:

Over the next 30 days, I will organize my surroundings in an attempt to feel less anxiety. Clutter bothers me, and it’s starting to build up — around my house, around my work space in the office. 

I’ll spend the next 30 days organizing everything, from my kitchen to my basement, to my desk drawers at work. 

By the end of the challenge, I think all of this organization could have a big effect on my life:

1. With a decluttered kitchen, I might be more willing to cook for myself, therefore eating making myself eat healthier

2. When laundry is put in its place, whether it be upstairs or in the basement with the machines, organizing my clothes will make it easier to find outfits in the morning. And who knows, maybe I’ll find something I forgot I had. 

3. At work, getting rid of the clutter around me can help make me more productive.

Who else is participating in the #TE30DayChallenge? What are your goals?