Tag Archives: organization

A Planner Round-Up

I recently found my perfect planner. If you’re still on the hunt for yours, I have a few ideas…

Erin Condren Lifeplanner
$55

Classic never goes out of style. This bestseller is a coiled book and allows for a completely customizable look! Build your book just how you want it and find the style that fits your life. Choose between weekly planning layouts, embrace a color scheme, and customize your cover and the coil.

The Simple Elephant
$20

Use exclusive sections to craft positive affirmations, goals, and gratitude statements to renew your commitment, feel inspired, and live happier every calendar day, month, and year. Use the mindmap and vision board to drill in goals and fully engage with both sides of your mind.

Brit + Co Planner
$15

Use the Brit + Co Spiral Bound Planner to stay on schedule. It comes with monthly and weekly calendars, lined and grid paper, to-do lists, activity pages, and blank pages for doodling the day away.

Lemome Bullet Journal
$15

Timeless style and a simple versatile design make this a perfect choice for bullet journaling. The dotted grid pattern helps guide your writing, while staying out of the way of your drawings and doodles. The dots, spaced 5 mm apart, are light enough to blend in once the page is filled. 

$18
A hardcover notebook that’s small enough to go everywhere you go and big enough to work with all day long, whether at home, work, or in transit. The Confidant hardcover notebook comes in Light Gray & Charcoal. It’s available in 3 sizes: Pocket, Flagship, & Plus—AKA Small, Medium, & Large. But every version opens flat and features quality lasting paper.
 
$34
What’s on the agenda for 2018? This classic covered spiral planner, features gold foil and an elastic closure. The agenda holds 17-months of weekly and monthly calendar pages. There’s also a pocket folder with ruler, as well as sections for notes, celebrations, and contacts.
Which one suits your style best? Do you have a tried-and-true planner you love? Comment below and share! ❤ 
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My Notebook System

notebook system

Do you have a system to keep track of all your to-do’s for the day? It may seem like a no-brainer to some folks out there, but once I developed a set-up that worked for me it was a game changer.

As you can see above, I devote a full page to each day. I borrow elements from the bullet journal system, but it’s a WAY scaled down version. Each of my tasks are given a tick box that I check off as it gets completed. If I didn’t complete the task it gets an arrow so that I know to migrate it onto my list of to-do’s for the following day. If an item no longer needs completing for whatever reason I give it a strike-through.

In the middle of the page are my notes. These are items I encounter through out the day that I want to return to and investigate further when I have more time. This little section is instrumental in keeping me focused on the task at hand. And I don’t forget about things that may be useful or interest me later. Sorta like leaving myself little breadcrumbs in the form of bullet points!

And finally, something I started in 2016, a MANTRA! I kicked off the new year with Yoga with Adriene’s Yoga Camp. The challenge included 30 yoga videos to be done every day for 30 days and each one came with their own mantra. I found these daily affirmations wildly helpful and inspirational in January so I figured, why stop here!? When I sit down with my list at the beginning of each day I find a phrase, quote, or affirmation that I can focus my thoughts towards in the coming hours.

I also borrow The Monthly Log or Calendar Page from the Bullet Journal method. That’s where the Bullet Journal similarities end. For me, keeping an index (a key Bullet Journaling component) just feels too cluttered. The full Bullet Journal system, though I tried and enjoyed it for awhile, just isn’t for me. And ya gotta find what works for you. I love my system and love that it’s adapted over time to keep me productive and my brain-space uncluttered.

OH! And for forward-planning (ie. weekly and monthly planning as opposed to daily to-do’s) I use a mini-binder planner from the Target Dollar Spot. I just started it at the beginning of April and have been trying my hand at planner decorating…..totally something I never thought I would get into but I’m absolutely loving it. Perhaps I’ll post some pictures at some point if y’all are into it.

How do you stay on top of your daily to-do list? Do you keep paper lists or are you totally digital? Have you ever tried keeping a bullet journal? Into planner decorating? Tell me everything!!! 

Meal Planning for Beginners in 7 Easy Steps

Think you’re too broke, too lazy, or too culinary clueless for meal planning? Think again! Follow these 7 steps and you’ll be well on your way to an easy week of meals.

1. Choose 2 breakfasts.

Select two breakfast options. One will bear the brunt of your breakfasting so you’ll want to choose something that’s quick, filling, and economical. I don’t think anything fits that bill better than oatmeal but of course toast, smoothies, or cereal are great options as well. The other breakfast is more of a treat. When it comes to the broke, lazy, and clueless categories listed above; I fall into the lazy camp. So a treat for me would be greek yogurt with a few toppings (like granola and fruit). It takes even less time to prepare than my ol’ work-horse oatmeal but it’s also not as cheap. Therefore, I would choose it as my secondary option. You could of course get fancier with pancakes, omelettes, or whatever you like. But just stick to two for the week!

2. Pack your lunch.

Plan to bring your lunch along to work or school. This will keep you from dipping into your pocketbook for restaurant or cafeteria fare but will also make sure you have a healthy option on hand. You can control your food’s ingredients if YOU are the one who prepares it. Below is an example of a work-week’s worth of lunches. Think of your packed lunches as a puzzle with three parts:

  1. An entree – like a salad or sandwich
  2. A fruit or veggie side
  3. Something extra to help keep you full – like a protein or healthy fat

work lunch meal plan

3. Use leftovers whenever possible.

Incorporate leftovers from your dinners into your lunches whenever possible. Salads are great for this. Throw some leftover taco filling on top of some greens and veggies and you’ve got a taco salad! Or include a smaller portion of the protein or veggie you had for dinner as one of your side items.

Weekend lunches are more of a free-for-all without a set plan. Dedicate these meals to eating up the rest of your leftovers! Or if you’ve done a really great job on using them up throughout the week, take the opportunity to treat yourself. (More on that below!)

4. Plan a week of dinners and REPEAT.

Now I know this might seem crazy. But if you fall into one (or all) of the broke, lazy, and clueless categories then consider how helpful this may be. Choose 7 possible meals that you can cycle through week after week. Perhaps this sounds limiting but I really believe in decision fatigue. Especially where the daily 4 o’clock “Oh God, what am I gonna have for dinner?” question is concerned. Why not make it easy on yourself? Now I’m not saying you pick 7 recipes and make those recipes to the LETTER over and over for the rest of all time. Select meals that allow you to expand or simplify as needed. Meals that allow you to switch it up when you want to or stick to old, tried and true favorites when you’re exhausted and over it. Let’s go through the examples below…

dinner meal plan menu

  • Spaghetti – This is a dish I can make with my eyes closed so it’s perfect for Monday nights. If I feel like switching it up I can use my spiralizer to make zucchini noodles or I can switch out the ground beef/turkey for veggies. I could make meatballs or a traditional bolognese or even a lentil bolognese. I can have the spaghetti with a big salad or breadsticks or even a caprese.
  • Beans & Rice – I can alternate between a Cajun style and a Cuban style. I could do baked beans and switch the rice out for toast. I can serve any of these with a side of whatever veggie is on sale or in season.
  • Breakfast for Dinner –  Scrambled eggs with fruit and toast or biscuits. Blueberry waffles or pancakes with bacon and yogurt. The possibilities are endless (and cheap) and everyone has their favorites when it comes to breakfast.
  • Tacos – You can do hard tacos or soft, tacos in a bowl (ie. haystacks), or everything served over chips instead of in a shell. Taco salads for a healthier spin. Keep them vegetarian or do them with pork, chicken, ground beef, or fish. There’s no paying extra for guac when you’re at home. Just whip some up!
  • Pizza – Topping choices galore so pick your poison! If you’re feeling especially not into it, pick up a frozen pizza or a pre-made but uncooked number from the deli at your grocery store. Or make it yourself. OR make it yourself on top of pita bread or bagels. Wanna up your veggie intake? Serve some crudites with ranch or hummus for dipping as a side.
  • Mac & Cheese – You might be feeling some comfort food on Saturdays. Mix butternut squash into the sauce or add peas. Make it super kid friendly with hot dogs or elevate it with bacon and caramelized onions.
  • Dinner on a board – Super easy and no cooking involved. A perfect way to ease into a new week. Think: Salami, cheeses, grapes, cornichons, crusty bread, etc. Yum!

You don’t have to use these meals/ideas. Create your own! And you can always switch them out or around as needed just in case you get bored or want to expand your horizons.

5. Find a few snacks that suit you.

Better to be prepared than suffer later! Just like with breakfast you’ll want to choose a few options for the week. I like to choose one that’s customizable and economical, like popcorn. Super cheap and you can make it sweet, savory, or spicy for whatever you’re feeling when the snacking urge hits. Then I like to choose another option that’s quick and filling. This is what you’ll pull out in case you’re HANGRY. My go-to for this is Lara bars but any sort of throw-it-in-your-bag snack would work. I also like to keep some bananas or baby carrots on hand for something healthy to munch on.

6. Commit to making one dessert item a week.
You can munch on whatever you make all week, serve it to unexpected guests or save it to bring with you to an event or for someone’s birthday at work. No need to get crazy… think: chocolate chip cookies, brownies, no bakes, simple cupcakes, fruit pies or crumbles. I share Michael Pollan’s belief that if you make it at home it’s probably not all that bad. Let’s not kid ourselves. You’re gonna want dessert. So, plan for it, make it at home, and then enjoy!
peanut butter chocolate no bake recipe
(recipe via Food Network.)
7. Treat yourself.

Finally, find ways to “go out to eat” that don’t involve the full-on dinner, drinks, and dessert rigamaroll. Complete restriction is a recipe for failure. Here are some ideas:

  1. Treat yourself to a nice coffee on the weekend over a good book or the newspaper.
  2. Treat yourself to an after-work happy hour drink for a catch-up chat with a co-worker or friend.
  3. Treat yourself to a supermarket lunch on Saturday afternoon. Think: salad bar, sushi, or a deli sandwich. Maybe even grab a cookie from the bakery or a fresh piece of fruit. Wash it down with your favorite drink.
  4. Treat yourself to an evening walk around your neighborhood that involves a quick stop-off at the ice cream parlor.

Choose one or two of these indulgences each week and you’ll find yourself much more capable of sticking to your plan.

Alright, over to you guys. Do you meal plan? Any tips you would add to this list? 

Keeping a Notebook

Recently, my dearest has been experimenting with a new organization/journaling/calendar system. Since starting a few weeks ago he’s been RAVING about it. Honestly, the whole system seems like a total game changer so I asked him to fill us in. Take it away, Chet!

I have dates in my Google calendar. I have notes from courses that I’ve taken in Evernote. I have random ideas and lists jotted down in Google Keep. I have a near endless number of notebooks, legal pads, binders, and folders filled with years of academic and recreational work. Ideas, outlines, lists of books to read, movies to watch, music to listen to….stuff.

Digital technologies have completely unleashed work and leisure. We are all familiar with the struggles of being plugged in 24/7, but I’m consistently frustrated with the solutions to these problems. There are no shortage of apps and software designed to help us organize our lives, but, somehow, the more apps I download to organize my life the more disorganized and fragmented it becomes! I log into some of these programs, weeks or months after I’ve last used them, to find piles of useful notes, things that would have helped save me time if I had remembered their existence. Months ago, I bought a Moleskine notebook in order to help solve this problem once and for all. I would hand write all of my important notes to this one notebook so that it would be impossible to lose track of information. The result? Disaster!

notebook1

I ended up with this mess. All of my notes were in one place, but they were completely unreadable. The Moleskine was a great place to keep content, but not a great place to sort and easily find that content later. Enter the Bullet Journal. The Bullet Journal is a very simple analog note taking organizational scheme. In essence, it provides the system for organizing a notebook into a searchable, readable form. The most basic entries are simple task lists and reminders by day.

notebook2

Much better! Tasks are now clearly organized, and can be checked off or moved around as necessary. The Bullet Journal system also uses page numbers in some really cool ways. I’ve gone through and numbered the whole book in advance, and those numbers can now be used as a table of contents.

notebook3

I’ve only just started this system, so I don’t have many entries (yet), but I do have a few cool ones. You can see in the pic that there are some other categories listed like movies and pc games. These are persistent lists. You can keep adding items to them and reference when needed. I’ve already used a full page for my first movies list, so I’ve brought a few stragglers over and created a new one.

notebook4

You can even begin to subdivide using other important tags like Netflix availability. This method of organizing has really helped me to be more efficient in my media consumption. Before, I would twiddle my thumbs, browsing Netflix aimlessly. Now, I can quickly scan through stuff I want to watch, and not just settle on content I’ve already seen. I also plan on including a few tags with titles that I’m unfamiliar with so that I can sort even quicker.

My favorite aspect of the Bullet Journal, by far, is the customization. Now that you have an organizational framework, you can use it to your advantage. I used a ruler to draw up a simple calendar for this month. On the opposing page, I’ve made a list of monthly notes/goals.

notebook5

 

This gives me a macro/micro view of my ongoing projects. If I want to sketch out a given week, I’m also free to do that.

I’ve only just started using the Bullet Journal, but it’s already helping me tremendously. I’ve been able to organize and collapse some disparate lists into a compact, portable package. The daily lists sometimes aren’t needed. I’ll remember everything on my plate for a given day and finish them all. I’m still working at cracking the journal open at least twice a day. When I do, I get to see my tasks, and then see them completed or re-organized. It adds a great sense of accomplishment to a day, and also helps me prepare for the next day by clearly establishing my goals. I also think it’s a great place to unplug, to practice your handwriting, to not use a phone all the time!

If you’re feeling frazzled by apps, or just looking for a place to keep some informal lists, a Bullet Journal may be for you!

Thanks for sharing, Chet! I’ve been pretty enamored with this whole system since he began sharing it’s success with me. Luckily, I was gifted the tools to start trying it out for myself…

notebook6

So far so good! ❤ 

 

 

Tour my shelves.

bookcase1

Today, I thought I’d let you take a little tour of my bookcase shelves. I’ve been contemplating a bookshelf reorganization by color (straight up Roy G. Biv style) just to change things up but also because they look so fun and aesthetically pleasing when I see colorful book rainbows on Pinterest and Apartment Therapy. (Examples: here, here and here.) For now, though, these books live categorically–in my own little library system. So go ahead and take a peek at my bedroom bookcase. I have another smaller set of shelves in my living room for books that deserve more spotlight as well as a shelf in my dining room for cookbooks–we’ll save their tours for another day. (Remember when I said I may never whittle down ALL of my belongings to fit in an actual, real life tiny home? Haha.) Want a closer look?

Some fiction…

fiction1

Some favorite reads…

topshelf

Kid lit…

childrens

A few for drama…

plays

Lit class holdovers…

litclass

More fiction…

fiction2

Communication Studies…

comm

Religion and Dreams (lol)…

religion

A teeny, tiny German language section…

germanlang

Memoirs…

memoirs

Poetry…

poetry

Gettin’ my learn on…

nonfiction

and teachin’ younguns how to be orators…

teachingspeech

How do you organize your books? Do you think I should make the switch and have all these book-babies live the rainbow life? I guess if I end up hating it I can always switch it back to my current system…especially now that I have photo documentation. : ) 

Make life a little easier with these free apps.

iphonenotebook

Like many young adults just on the other side of various quarter-life crises, while balancing “big people jobs” with mundane grown-up responsibilities, sometimes I’m barely holding it together–organizationally speaking. Fake it ‘til you make it! Since so many people who appear to have it all together swear by their technological solutions, I decided to do a little digging and see if I couldn’t research my way into some make-life-easier apps. And because I ascribe to the gospel of “Ballin’ on a Budget”, I gave myself one rule…they had to be free. Here’s what I rounded up! Feel free to leave your own suggestions in the comments below.

For seeking so you shall find:

Job Search- Look for jobs based on job description and location with Indeed.com’s search application.

Repairpal- Assists you in locating auto repair shops in your area.

Last.fm- Find the latest artists and albums.

Gas Bag- Locates the cheapest gas prices.

For staying organized:

Sticky Notes- Write reminders on virtual post-it notes and stick them on a virtual bulletin board.

24me- This app will keep track of bank and Netflix accounts, track how many cell phone minutes you’ve used, and log frequent flyer miles.

Smart ToDo- Keeps track of due dates and a detailed “To Do” list.

Evernote-Jot down notes via text, audio or picture. Everything you in-put is searchable later.

For a fitness focus:

MapMyRun- Keeps track of all your runs, including: pace, distance, route, speed and charts your progress over time.

Restaurant Nutrition-Lets you know the healthiest choices when dining out.

For getting out of a jam:

iTranslate- Combines voice recognition, translation and output to achieve the dream of a Universal Translator.

Law Dojo- Know your rights.

For PARTY:

Drinks and Cocktails- Spin the wheel and get a new drink recipe every time.

Birthday Reminder- Keep track of all your friends’ special days…and know when to expect the next party.

Perfect Date-Helps you plan a romantic evening out with your lucky gal or guy.

For making discoveries in your town:

Fandango-Find out what is playing at the local movie theater and how much the ticket will set you back.

Songkick Concerts- Lets you know when your favorite band will be rolling through your town.

iRecycle-Trying to be environmentally conscious? This app will tell you where the local recycling center is.

Pizza Finder-Find the best slice in town!

For shopping ‘til you drop:

Closet+-Keep an organized closet by cataloguing your wardrobe with pictures and descriptions.

Book Bargain- Alerts you to the best deals on Amazon and other online book sellers.

For staying up to date on current events:

NYTimes- Get news for free from a trusted periodical.

NPRAddict- News with a bit more quirk, this app also lets you download great podcasts which are wonderful for roadtrips and passing time on the elliptical.

For life-long learning:

Word of the Day –Expand your vocabulary and your GRE score.

Art Lite-Learn all about the artists, significance and history behind your favorite works of art.

SparkNotes- Lets you access Spark Notes for all the literary classics. Be sure to read the actual text too!

(iPhone illustration via here.)

On Writing: A First Attempt at Self-Reflection.

typewriter

As you may have noticed, Finding delight. and writing in general have taken a bit of a backseat for me these last few weeks. Long work days, with long play days (I’m trying to enjoy Summer to it’s fullest while it lasts : ) interspersed as well, fill up my calendar to bursting. I figured this step away would be a great time to reflect on my writing. I strive to continue to grow and remain, as ever, a life-long learner. Here is a current assessment of my writing–

I’ve always felt an intense need to know the stories of others. Perhaps due to some innate, busybody quality so deeply ingrained in my curious person I seek them out without a moment’s hesitation. Or maybe, and this is certainly the more forgiving explanation I tend to hope is true, it is within these narratives I collect that my own story gains meaning. Yet peering down a dark, forgotten alleyway in someone else’s story in search of clues to create your own is troubling.  I once saw a newspaper cartoon sum up the marketability of our stories rather aptly. Two bookshelves were shown in the memoir section of a bookstore–one labeled “People with lives way better than mine,” the other “People with lives way worse than mine.” As a reader, these subsections are comforting. Escapism and reassurance. Self-help and self-congratulation. But as a writer, I end up wondering; how can I tell my own life without touting my privilege or weighing the tragedy I’ve encountered against others’? Will anyone peer around a corner in my life and, startled, run right into themselves?

As I’m seeking to incorporate my own story into my writing much more than ever before, not always as the subject of- but at least the framework for-, I find this familiarity with the stories of others to be both a strength and a weakness. I know how to tease emotion to the front of the page. I have an understanding of what readers find compelling. I am honest. But I worry about relatability. I worry about form and length. And most detrimental, I still believe I can make the words and thoughts of another more beautiful than I can make my own. The reader is my best friend and my greatest enemy. I concern myself with people’s perceptions and approval before the first word hits the page. I’m not going to bullshit and say I would write for no one, that is a lie. I want everything I write to be read. I write FOR readers. In the end, I believe this audience awareness is an asset.

All of this being said, there is no particular aspect of my writing which keeps me awake at night. Yes, I could stand a refresher course in grammar–specifically commas, my writing teacher brother so sweetly pointed out. (I can’t help that I love them.) I have a penchant for writing as if my words will be spoken not read. Sometimes my style is anything but succinct. But I’m not losing sleep over any of these assessments. I know they can be rectified with practice and patience. What keeps me awake at night are my ideas and brainstorms. I lie in bed going over all the directions a topic could go, the sentences that could snap, the sources I could pull from. Even the perfect wording to an email comes to me as I settle in and keeps me restless in the dark for hours. For far too long these thoughts were overwhelming and resulted in little more than daydreams and conversation fodder. But more and more, I am learning to just wake up and write.

In the coming weeks I shall explore what this assessment means for me as a blogger and will attempt to work towards regaining some consistency with my posts. I am working with a Writer’s Group for accountability purposes (which is super nerd-alert exciting for me) and camaraderie. My current goal for the next week is not just to WRITE but to work towards a more organized process. Any writers out there? What are your favorite organizational tips? I’d love to try my hand at some of your ideas or discuss them with my new writer’s crew. : )