6 thoughts on setting structured goals (even if you don’t have a planner like mine!).

love when bloggers write posts about the goals they’re setting and how they’re doing with achieving them. It’s some of my favorite blog content to read.

So I was pretty excited when I found out that people were excited about reading my goal posts : )

When I write my goal posts (check out the last two here and here) at the end of every month, my favorite planners — Passion Planner and PowerSheets — figure heavily into things, but the truth is that you don’t need to be a total stationery maniac like me to get in on the action. Since I’ve been getting so much good feedback about my goal posts recently, I thought I’d put together some more general thoughts on the process of setting regular goals like this that you can use whether you invest in structured planners like me or just want to start thinking about your approach to goals a little differently. Being deliberate about setting goals like this has been huge for me ever since I started working for myself, but I think everyone can benefit from being a little more intentional about breaking down their New Year’s resolutions or to-do lists so that things actually get done. Here are some thoughts that will hopefully get you inspired…

  • Write things down. I’m a big believer in the power of writing things down, so find a place that works for you — a sticky note on your bathroom mirror, a list on your phone, etc. — and just do it. I promise it will immediately make you feel more accountable. I wasn’t always totally addicted to planner systems like I am now. About four years ago, when I was still working in my corporate job, I got in the habit of writing out some goals for the year on a piece of printer paper and hanging it in my cubicle. The goals didn’t necessarily all have to do with work, but I knew that hanging them near my desk at the office would force me to keep them top of mind every day. I even found the Instagram evidence way back in my feed!
  • Pick a deadline. You see me posting about the goals I’m setting to achieve within a week, a year, or a month, but I put more specific deadlines on goals sometimes, too. In 2016, when I knew I needed to make a transition in my career, I decided that I needed to do it by my birthday. I drew a big star on the calendar on September 20 and worked backward so I had a plan to make that happen. Choose a significant date or an arbitrary one and write. it. down. Until a goal has a deadline or a schedule attached, it’s more like an idea. I love ideas, but they’re not always actionable.
  • Tell people about your goals. It doesn’t need to be a big, formal conversation, but letting the people in your life in on what you’re hoping to achieve is an added measure of accountability that will make it more difficult for you to make excuses. If your friends know that you have a certain goal in mind, they’ll be more likely to casually ask you about it at your next happy hour, which will motivate you to take baby steps toward achieving it. If you want to make yourself extra accountable, share some of your goals with your social media followers.

T%W+s2rMSKqYBuRBaRMtZQ_thumb_6dd

  • Be realistic when planning over time. This is one I really struggle with, since I set specific monthly goals. As you’ve probably noticed if you follow my goal posts closely, I tend to create a pretty long list for myself every month… but since my schedule and responsibilities are different every month, that doesn’t always make a lot of sense. Give yourself “margin” (one of my favorite concepts from the Cultivate What Matters team) on your goals during more hectic periods. Just because you set (and achieved!) ten goals for yourself last month doesn’t mean you need to set ten — or eleven — goals for yourself next month. I’m going to try to follow my own advice here, too : )
  • Your goals don’t need to be super serious. I think that people get spooked at the idea of setting structured goals because they associate it with quotas at work, meeting financial milestones, and the like. These things are important, but not always “fun,” right? When I’m setting up my goals for the month, I include things like weekly date nights, places I want to check out in my neighborhood, friends I want to see, and days off. This makes the process more fun and ensures that I’m achieving a little more balance.
  • Don’t fear the rollover! When I don’t achieve a goal I’ve set within the original timeframe I determined for myself, I swallow my pride and simply move it over to the next timeframe. This can be especially hard when you’ve started sharing your goals with other people (no one likes to feel like they’re failing or behind schedule!), but it’s way more important for you to make them happen eventually than it is to be sneaky just so you can impress your family and friends. Just roll those goals over, friends.

Do you set structured goals? If so, I’d love to see your suggestions in the comments below! 

 

0 comment

monthly goals recap -> april + may.

I’m not sure how we’re already FOUR days into a new month, but here we are… which means that I’m already a day or two later than I’d like to be on my newest monthly goals post. Yeesh. It’s been a crazy few days winding down from the Ignite Your Soul Summit and throwing myself back into work, and last night I drove back to my parents’ house in Pennsylvania so I can be here to celebrate my youngest sister’s first prom later today! It’s days like this that I feel so grateful to have so much control of my schedule.

wWJmqoX8RQCKE57v5zqzug_thumb_6e5
Visual progress from my April PowerSheets

I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this last month felt like a big one for me. There were some healthy shifts in mindset and lots of exciting momentum on projects that have been bopping around in my head for a long time. It feels amazing. Even though I didn’t actually get everything on my April list finished (check out my last monthly goals post here for all those original details), I’m excited to share some updates with you. Here we go!

  • Start scheduling podcast recordings.  YES! I have recordings scheduled for the first seven episodes of my podcast. Friends, getting this project up and running brought so much excitement and creative energy into my life this past month. Every time I start talking about it, I get giddy. I’m still not sure when I’m going to start sharing details about the show in advance of the late June launch, but I can’t wait to tell you more.
  • Restore a positive attitude about writing the book!  YES! Instead of pushing myself to write a certain number of pages a week based on a certain outline, in April, I (literally) took a page out of the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. I went back to basics and spent a lot of time simply writing down by hand things I’ve known and experienced. This process has reminded me how much inspiration I already have to draw from and has given me confidence in my ability to develop a novel.
IMG_9746.jpg
Brittney and I at the Summit!
  • Plan travel to Ignite Your Soul Summit.  YES! I successfully got myself to the Summit (in spite of some of the anxieties I was feeling before the event) in Portsmouth, NH. A week later, I’m still processing the experience of being there, and I’m still deciding if I’m going to share what I learned in any kind of dedicated way here on the blog — but I can say that it was an incredibly positive and inspiring weekend, and I’m so glad I went.
  • Read three books.  YES! I read Bird by Bird (a must-read for all the writers out there), Educated (an incredibly intense memoir that fed my fascination with fringe communities), and Text Me When You Get Home (a non-fiction book that gave me all the feels about my awesome girlfriends). I read a fourth book, but it relates to the podcast, so I’m not ready to name it quite yet : )
  • Pitch to 1-2 target outlets. I did pitch to two target outlets, but neither of them were technically new for me. On an unexpected note, Ranker approached me and asked me to start writing for them, and I gladly accepted! You can check out my first piece here.
  • Create social media for the podcast. √ YES! More on this to come if you’re interested in following.
  • Finalize reunion details. √ YES! We have a location and contract nailed down for our ten-year high school reunion in November. We have plenty of other things to do, but it feels good to have some major decisions already made.
  • Take a GarageBand editing tutorial.√ YES! I told you — I can’t get enough of this podcast project. For those interested, I used the William Boyd tutorial, and it was really user-friendly.
  • Have one phone-free night per week. I think that I was only able to put my phone away for the entire night once or twice over the course of April, but I did find myself making greater efforts to charge my phone in another room for at least a few hours a few nights per week. I’m going to give myself partial credit.
  • TAKE A DAY OFF! √ YES! All the praise hand and confetti emojis for this one. I shared all the details of my first real day off in months here.

For the month ahead, I’ve tried to leave myself more margin than usual in terms of time, largely because a lot of my focus outside of my standard writing clients (side note: I took on two more in the last week) will be on ramping up for the launch of the podcast. This is a massive undertaking, and I want to grant myself the time and space to do that well instead of lining up a huge list of other new goals. With the podcast alone, there will be no shortage of lessons learned and challenges conquered in May!

  • Start recording podcast episodes. I’m planning to bank a few weeks worth of episodes before I launch, and I have five recordings scheduled for this month alone. Each of those recordings requires a lot of time and prep. Moving forward, I doubt I’ll have this many recordings lined up in such a short period of time, and I know it will take some time to adjust to the new workflow, but I’d lying if I said I wasn’t a little anxious about all of this.
  • Make a plan for podcast launch team. I want to get a small group together to help spread the word about the show in the weeks before the episodes go live! If this sounds interesting to you, let me know with a comment below and I’ll include you on the email list for a more official invite when I have more details. Don’t worry — you’re not making an official commitment yet!
  • Feel healthy and strong during the Brooklyn Half Marathon. I run my fifth Brooklyn Half on May 19. I don’t have a specific time in mind. I just want to feel good while I’m doing it.
  • Refocus on book outline and process. Now that I’m in a better rhythm with the journaling process inspired by Anne Lamott, I have to figure out how to translate that to an actual outline. I bought a big stack of index cards last week, and I’m thinking about using them to physically map out different ideas.
  • Read five books. Yes, I usually plan for three each month, but I have reading to do as part of podcast prep. Am I piquing your interest yet?

Bride + Groom-0740.jpg

  • Make plans for our second anniversary. It’s hard to believe, but Matt and I will be celebrating our second wedding anniversary next month. We’ve both had our head down with work recently, and I want to make sure we prioritize this time together and make it really special. (Check out a recap of our first anniversary trip to Maine here.)
  • Pitch to 1-2 target outlets. You know how it goes.
  • Get a strong start with new clients. Like I mentioned above, I’ve recently committed to working with two new outlets. I want to make sure I prioritize those gigs in the new month so that I can get comfortable with them as part of my routine.
  • Keep a positive attitude about plans for our future move. I don’t have any specific news to report about the move that Matt and I have been working toward, because at this point, there are a lot of things that are out of our control. With that in mind, I’m planning to check in with myself at the end of every week to make sure that I’m keeping my cool and speaking kindly to others about this looming potential life change. I’ll be honest — being in limbo is really hard. I’m learning, though, that only I can be responsible for my own happiness. This also means that I need to be accountable for my attitude.

What are your goals for May? Fill me in with a comment!

3 Comments

april giveaway winner announced!

Hi everyone! Did you have a great weekend?

I’m coming to you this morning from my hotel room in Portsmouth, NH — a town that I am highly obsessed with —having successfully put my weird feels aside and completed the Ignite Your Soul Summit! I’m still processing everything that happened this weekend because it was a lot of thinking and emotional digging, but I can say that I’m really glad I took the opportunity to step out of my normal routine and put myself in a room full of people with high energy and unique perspectives. This is definitely not something I would have done a year ago, and I’m giving myself a pat on the back for giving it a chance now. It was definitely the right choice to go, and I learned so much from the amazing speakers who came to be with us.

It’s time for me to start getting packed up and ready to go back to New York (I can’t wait to see the hubs!), but not before I announce the winner of the April giveaway!

The winner of a Beautycounter Color Intense Lipstick is…

Sady!

Congratulations, Sady! I’ll send you an email today to work out the details of getting you your prize. 

giphy.gif

Thanks so much to everyone who entered and shared this giveaway! If you’re still interested in checking out some Beautycounter products — which I would highly recommend — please shop this link so we can support Elise and thank her for partnering with me this month.

I hope your week is off to a great start!

 

 

0 comment

pre-summit feels.

I didn’t become a work-from-home-ing freelancer because I like spending time alone, but I can’t say that spending more time alone didn’t seriously appeal to my introvert soul when I decided to do it. I’m lucky to have met some of my best friends when I was working in my corporate job, but I knew back then that I would become an even better friend to them once I was able to transition our relationships out of our cubicles — especially when it became clear that I was no longer a great fit for those cubicles.

These days, I’m admittedly alone a lot. I’m in constant contact with plenty of editors and sources and I have face-to-face meetings with people a few times a week, but there are days that I don’t actually interact with another human being until Matt gets home from work. Working from home is most definitely not for social butterflies, my friends, but most of the time, the quiet doesn’t bother me. I’ve always been pretty content doing things on my own, and thanks to the magic of texting, Gchat, and social media, I’m never far from a friend : )

The fact that I spend so much of my time alone makes it that much of a bigger deal that…

I’m leaving for a summit today.

Yup, a summit. Like, the kind where there a lot of people. And icebreakers. And the possibility that I might be expected to share parts of my story with total strangers. 

(Even before I was a constantly-alone writer type, that whole “sharing with strangers” thing wasn’t really for me.)

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 5.15.29 PM

I know from my fellow creatives and solopreneurs that there’s a lot of value to gatherings like this, so when one of my biggest social media and podcasting crushes Amber Lilyestrom opened registration for her Ignite Your Soul Summit in Portsmouth, NH, I thought it would be a good place for me start putting myself out there in a new way. I texted my friend Brittney Lynn (you’ve heard me gush about her before) to see if she would be open to going, too, and within 24 hours we’d both purchased our Early Bird tickets and were planning our takeout and trash TV lineup for our nights sharing a hotel room. Brittney and I have been close since we connected through blogging and Instagram back in October, and I’m so excited to officially meet her! I feel like we already know each other so well, but I’m anxious to find out how tall she is (I know that sounds silly, but it’s one of the only things I really don’t know about her!) and have wine and sushi together.

fullsizeoutput_b45.jpeg
All of the photos that Brittney and I have together so far look like this. Definitely planning to change that this weekend!

Honestly, if not for Brittney, I’d be having all kinds of social anxiety heading into this weekend, and even with her as my friend and security blanket, I can’t help but feel a little nervous about all of this. Even a year and a half later, it’s hard for me to confidently share with people what I do (hello, imposter syndrome!), and now that I’ve added a few more projects to my plate (hello, podcast-to-be!), it’s that much more confusing. I know that if people are going to take me seriously, though, I need to take myself seriously… and if they’re going to be open to me, I need to pay that forward proactively.

I decided to take the train to minimize the stress of air travel, and I’m actually really excited to use that time to get some work done, read, and decompress as I get ready for the summit. I was an Amtrak regular back in college when Matt and I were maintaining our relationship from a few states away, so I have a weird sentimental attachment to trains, anyway.

Wish me luck! I’m sure I’ll be sharing a lot of the weekend on my Instagram stories, so tune in if you want to check it out. Even with my nerves, I feel really grateful to have the chance to experience something like this, and I’m excited to see what’s in store.

What are you up to this weekend? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

…AND don’t forget that there are still a few days left to enter the April giveaway! All you have to do to be eligible to win a Color Intense Lipstick from Beautycounter is comment on this post or this photo.. The winner can pick the shade of their choice! Be sure to get your entries in by midnight on Sunday 4/29. I’ll announce the winner right here on the blog on Monday 4/30. Good luck! 

Image 4-22-18 at 8.47 PM (1).jpg

1 Comment

april giveaway.

Happy Monday, friends!

I’m not sure what the situation is where you live, but we finally got a serious dose of spring weather here over the weekend… and I can’t decide whether that makes it easier or harder to get back into the swing of the work week. I’m torn between feeling so energized that nothing can bring me down and wanting a few extra hours to simply enjoy life without a winter coat.

Either way, I’m happy to share that today is GIVEAWAY DAY — and I hope that makes your Monday a little sunnier : )

This month, I’ve partnered with my friend Elise to offer one reader a special treat from one of my favorite brands, Beautycounter. I’ve been lucky enough to feature several of this company’s products in previous giveaways — but this month, the prize is extra special because it’s LIP COLOR (my favorite): one Beautycounter Color Intense Lipstick in the shade of your choice!

Image 4-22-18 at 8.47 PM

If these great color options aren’t enough to have you already psyched to enter, don’t forget that Beautycounter is also known for its safe approach to skincare and makeup. Like the brand’s other products, the (new!) line of Color Intense Lipstick is all natural and tested against strict safety standards to make sure that you’re not putting your health at risk by using it. I started working Beautycounter into my own routine about a year ago and have been so happy with the results! Since I have a few friends who are involved with the company, I’ve learned a lot over the last few months about the dangerous practices of so many leading beauty brands. (I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s true!) Since I love a good lipstick — hello! — I’m so happy that there are safer options like this out there, and I can’t wait to collect all eight shades myself.

In the meantime, though, I’m so happy to be offering a free Color Intense Lipstick to one of you!

To enter, add a comment to this post below. It’s that simple! And if you want to take one tiny extra step to make someone else’s Monday a lot better (and to help share the Finding Plan A love), why don’t you go ahead and send this link to a friend or post it to Facebook? I’m a firm believer that more really is merrier.

I’ll draw the winner randomly one week from today, Monday 4/30. The winner will be announced right here on the blog! Good luck!

(Unfortunately, you’re not eligible to win this contest if you live outside of North America, due to shipping concerns. I’m sorry about that!)

You can check out the rest of Beautycounter’s offerings right here! Please be sure to shop that link so that we can support Elise and the awesome, health-focused business she is building. Fun fact: Elise and I fell in love on the first night of sorority recruitment back in 2009 (I was desperately trying to get her to join my house!) and we’ve never looked back. She’s a total rock star!

Happy Giveaway! 

giphy

 

 

12 Comments

a day off.

For the last two months (check out my February and March posts for proof!), I’ve been prioritizing a day off. Not just a Friday afternoon that frees up by default because we have to drive somewhere or a holiday like Christmas day when everyone has off. A real day off — the kind I used to take when I worked a corporate job that usually involved little more than binge watching the Real Housewives and getting a manicure. Putting this kind of day for myself on the schedule didn’t pan out for the first few months of the year for a variety of reasons, but about two weeks ago, I glanced at the calendar and realized that last Friday looked promisingly free. I immediately blocked out the day in my planner and started thinking about ways to keep it free. I got weirdly protective of Friday the 13th. It was all I could think about.

So, yeah, I guess you could say I really needed a day off.

I don’t think it’s easy for anyone to put on the brakes and step out of the work routine for a day — let alone a week! — but I’ve found it even more challenging to do so since I started freelancing. There’s no one else who can serve as my email back-up, no reliable colleague who can handle any surprises in my absence. Plus, since so much of my workflow now revolves around rolling deadlines, I almost had to pull back on commitments for the whole week leading up to my day off, simply to ensure that there wouldn’t be a last-minute Friday deadline added to my calendar and that I didn’t leave anyone hanging on emails about big new projects! As a result, I ended up with a slightly calmer week, which was just what I needed. It’s nice to be reminded of what it feels like to work an eight- or nine-hour day (instead of a twelve-hour one) and to realize that, even if you bring in a little less money than usual for a week or two, there will still be plenty of opportunities waiting for you when you get back.

kvTfzdlXRMuuHSOKHWZpCw_thumb_6e1

Somehow, I lucked out and ended up with the best weather day of the year for my day off, which was the cherry on top of an already perfect sundae. I tucked away my winter coat and broke out the denim jacket I bought when we were in Charlotte a few weeks ago and pulled out my favorite sandals from the back of the closet. Here’s how I spent the day off…

  • I stayed in bed until 8 AM — which is pretty late for me, even on the weekend — watching old episodes of Trading SpacesI’m so glad they brought this childhood favorite of mine back to TLC, and as fun as the reboot is, having access to the classic shows might be the best part.
  • An unhurried workout! It’s nice to have a little extra time to play with at the gym.
  • A stop at Books Are Magic, the independent bookstore here on my block that I mentioned in last week’s Brooklyn-themed Gratitude Diaries. I picked up copies of Text Me When You Get Home (the next pick for my book club!) and The Female Persuasion, written by one of my all-time favorite authors Meg Wolitzer. Both books were signed, which makes them that much more special.
  • As soon as I officially decided to take a day off a few weeks ago, I booked myself a massage at Element Healing Arts here in Brooklyn. At this point in the half marathon training process (more on that later this week!), my body is never very happy with me, so it was nice to have some of my knots worked out… though I was pretty sore after!
  • I treated myself to a makeup facelift at Sephora. As I’ve started prioritizing taking better care of my skin, I’m also trying to test out different kinds of makeup. Since I work from home, I don’t put on a full face of makeup every day, which has given me some wiggle room to spend a little more money on higher-quality products. My favorite buys? The Anastasia Brow Wiz (how have I not been using a brow pencil for all these years???) and the Smashbox Be Legendary lipstick in Pretty Social. With springtime almost in full swing, I wanted to treat myself to some new goodies so I can feel totally confident and fresh.
  • met Matt near his office in Bryant Park and we went to grab a drink with a friend at a patio bar in Midtown Manhattan. From there, we got a bite to eat at the Urbanspace food hall and finished the night with some spontaneous McFlurries on the steps of the New York Public Library.

clrxn84bSYqz9gpb%VkNrw_thumb_6e2

Start to finish, it was a pretty perfect day.

I’m not usually one to love shopping or pampering myself, but when I do, I go big… in case you couldn’t tell from that list : )

The biggest lesson I learned from this day off is that email has far too much power over my time and mental health. I knew that in order to really appreciate some free time, I would need to ignore my inbox, but I took the extra step of deleting the Gmail app from my phone entirely. I didn’t reinstall it until Sunday afternoon, and I can’t tell you how big of a difference it made. Now that I know how great it feels not to be so tied to my email 24/7, I’m going to try to make more of an effort to avoid obsessively checking it on my phone whenever I have a free minute. It’s all about phone boundaries, right?

What does your perfect day off look like? Tell me more in the comments below!

Finally, if you have a small business or side hustle that deserves a little love for press and podcasts (or know someone who does!), check out this deal that Brittney and I are running for our complete Partnering for Press series! Through tomorrow, we’re offering 25% off, which grants you lifetime access to all of the highly informative free webinars we’ve been running over the past few weeks, as well as an invitation to an even more comprehensive live session tomorrow night. You’ll also get a set of customizable tools that you can use to pitch your own business to the press so you can increase your reach and revenue! Click here for all the details — and to register! Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

Facebook & Twitter2.png

1 Comment

gratitude diaries: brooklyn edition.

This week is a special one around here, because yesterday marked a whopping three years since Matt and I made this cozy little corner of Brooklyn our official home.

If you’re reading this from the house you’ve owned for more than a decade, I understand that this seems insignificant, but it’s a pretty big deal for us. My fellow New Yorkers know how rare it is to find an apartment that you want to stick with for longer than a single lease term — but beyond that, even the math speaks for itself. Matt and I aren’t 30 yet (though Matt’s a whole year closer to it than I am!), so we’ve lived here for more than 10 percent of our lives. That’s a pretty big chunk! Growing up, we also did some moving around, which gives me an even greater appreciation for the roots that I’ve grown here in Brooklyn.

0MBHrU6IREmo6TXTzaKtVQ_thumb_1b6
Getting ready for pizza and wine on the first night in our first home together.

This milestone also has a bittersweet element this year, since it’s very likely the last one we’ll celebrate in New York City. As you may know, Matt and I are in the early stages of exploring a move to another city (don’t worry — more on that soon), and while a new beginning brings some exciting (and scary) new promises, it also means the end of a chapter that I can only describe as amazing. There will be plenty of time for me to get sentimental about this — and trust me, I will — but for now, all I can say is that I’m extremely grateful for the three years we’ve had and the thousands of memories we’ve made here in Brooklyn. With that in mind, I thought today would be the perfect day for a special edition of Gratitude Diaries, dedicated to my beautiful borough.

Here are just a few of the things I’m grateful for in Brooklyn, especially my Cobble Hill neighborhood:

  • Our local bookstore, Books Are MagicIndependent bookstores are (very sadly) a dying breed, and we’re lucky to have gotten a special one right here on my street last year. I’m so grateful to be able to take a casual stroll over to Books Are Mag, where I can always find something to buy, even if I don’t technically “need” it.
  • The dozens of restaurant patios where you can sit and enjoy drinks and snacks (when the weather is actually good, of course). I could go on and on about the restaurant scene here in Brooklyn, in general, but something that especially struck us when we left Manhattan and started life here was the availability of outdoor space! If you don’t live in New York City, this might not seem like a big deal, but it’s been a game changer for us. We love wandering the streets of Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn Heights, and Park Slope in the spring and summer, finding the perfect patio where we can set up shop for a few hours.
  • It’s so easy to get around! City living is at turns wildly accessible and incredibly inconvenient, but this neighborhood in particular has been a great home base for exploring so much of New York. We’re walkable to so many awesome nooks and crannies of Brooklyn, but our location on the greater NYC transit system also makes it easy for us to get into Manhattan within just a few minutes! There are plenty of moments when I miss having the ability to jump in the car and drive anywhere, anytime, but it’s also hard to imagine not being able to walk or subway
  • We don’t have a dog — yet — but as a serious dog lover, I really appreciate living in such a dog-friendly neighborhood. Pups of all shapes and sizes are a part of pretty much everything in our area —they’re sitting outside at bars and browsing through shops with their owners and snacking on the treats that a lot of storeowners leave in a dish outside. It makes this whole city living thing feel warmer and fuzzier.
  • I know it sounds a little nerdy, especially since I’m no architecture buff, but I just love the look of our little neighborhood. The buildings are older and have so much character, and while I can occasionally catch a glimpse of a more traditional, modern “skyline,” I think the mix of old and new that we have in the architecture around here is really unique.
  • Summertime. If you’ve never had a summer in New York, you need to at least plan a day trip over the next few months so you can get a taste of it. It’s absolutely magical! Summer is a special time of year no matter where you live, but I’ve grown partial to the New York kind over the last few years : )
  • Our favorite local ice creamery, Ample Hills — which is one of my favorite parts of a Brooklyn summer! The location that’s closest to us in Gowanus even has a roof deck, which makes an ice cream date feel a little extra sparkly.

I could go on and on, but I think I’ll save the rest. I’m going to get sappy if I go further!

In the meantime, I know I’ve made a lot of attempts to capture this special place with my phone camera, but I don’t think I quite do it justice. Check out these fun Brooklyn photos I found via Unsplash! So cool, right?

carl-solder-528908-unsplash
Photo by Carl Solder on Unsplash

 

jason-mccann-107555-unsplash
Photo by Jason McCann on Unsplash
jahsie-ault-601762-unsplash
Photo by Jahsie Ault on Unsplash
robert-katzki-119130-unsplash
Photo by Robert Katzki on Unsplash
david-cruz-604960-unsplash
Photo by David Cruz on Unsplash
anthony-delanoix-14632-unsplash
Enter a captionPhoto by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

What are you most grateful for where you live? I’d love to hear more about it in the comments below!

1 Comment

how i handle to-do lists.

As soon as I started working in my first full-time job out of college, I became addicted to to-do lists.

You already know that I have a thing for planners (if you’re new to the blog, it’s worth noting that I use both a Passion Planner and Powersheets on a daily basis), so I was thrilled with the prospect of graduating from the academic agenda I used in school to something a little different. If you’re wondering where I got this weird obsession with stationary and calendars, you can blame my mom. Growing up, I watched her fill the pages of all kinds of planners with colorful pens and neat handwriting, so it felt natural to me to do the same. I was meticulous with my agenda as early as middle school — although I did go through this weird phase where I covered every inch of each page with a highlighter mural that, in hindsight, was very messy — and I developed different systems with each year that passed. By the time I got my corporate job, I knew that a paper planner was necessary for me to stay focused and organized. I picked one out from Barnes & Noble, packed it in my new bag, and got on my first early morning commuter bus to New York City.

Within a few days, I realized that I would need to go a step further in order to keep up with my new workload. I started sticking Post-It notes to the pages of my planner, each one with a list of must-dos for that day, the following day, and the day after that. When I got tired of juggling all of those Post-Its (and when it became clear that I was responsible for using most of the sticky notes in our department’s supply closet), I streamlined my process by keeping daily to-do lists in the same notebook that I used for projects and meetings. I lived and died by those to-do lists.

When I first went out on my own as a freelancer in September 2016, there was honestly no need for a to-do list system. In those early days, I was still building up my workload, and since I wasn’t managing deadlines at that point, there wasn’t much to prioritize! I would make notes in my planner about what I wanted to accomplish, but it was much less specific than what I’d done before. And for more than a year, that worked!

At the end of 2017, I started to hit overwhelm. I’d taken on a bunch of new clients and projects in a short period of time and was forced to make some major adjustments to my schedule and routine. I struggled in that place for a long time, and while I still have my moments, I’ve been feeling a lot better lately. So, what’s helped? I brought back the to-do lists. And the Post-It notes. So many Post-It notes. 

In that spirit, I thought I’d share a few specifics about how I manage my to-do lists in hopes that they’ll help you the way they helped me! I know it seems like a pretty straightforward subject, but I always find that it’s helpful to break things down into their smallest details. Plus, I just love talking about systems and productivity and all things related to my planners! Here we go:

The Do’s of To-Do Lists

Srf7iVSLQ1aQZXbGoSTvbA_thumb_6da.jpg

  • DO… be consistent. Once something becomes a habit, you don’t have to think about it anymore. I write my to-do list every night and stick it in the same place (the bottom-right corner of my planner page for that week).
  • DO… make your to-do lists chronological. I add all of my deadlines and assignments to their respective days in my planner as I learn about them, but I’ve become so much more focused — and so much less overwhelmed — since I started creating a separate daily list of what I need to accomplish in order. I determine the order based on urgency, when I know I’ll be mentally freshest, and how different tasks will slot in around meetings.
  • DO… add the easy stuff. I’m a big believer in setting yourself up for easy wins. Once you start checking things off your list, you’re going to crave checking more things off your list over the course of the day. Even if it feels silly, add something super simple to the early portion of your list.
  • DO… write your to-do list the night before. I started doing this back in my corporate days, and I think it’s really important. It cuts out a lot of mental energy first thing in the morning when you can open up your to-do list and already know what your priorities are. In my experience, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed at the end of a workday, but if I start listing out to-dos for the next day — especially anything that I didn’t get to that day — I can wrap things up without feeling too far behind.
  • DO… include meetings and appointments. This is especially important if you’re writing out your tasks chronologically! It’s also an easy way to ensure that you’ll have something to check off.
  • DO… include email maintenance as part of your list. I don’t know about you, but managing my inbox is easily one of the most — if not the most — stressful parts of my working life. It seems like there is no end to the messages that come in, and it can get pretty overwhelming sometimes. If I don’t plan out specific blocks of time for email as part of my to-do list, I tend to feel like I need to respond to every message as it comes in, and that’s just distracting. I usually keep track of follow-ups and outreach that I need to send in my planner, and that dedicated email time gives me a chance to go through all of those at once, too.
  • DO… make your to-do list dynamic. I typically write a rough to-do list for the day as I’m finishing my work the day before, but I come back and take a second look at it right before bed. Taking some time away gives me a chance to gain fresh perspective on my priorities and have a more realistic sense of what I can accomplish the following day.
  • DO… use your inbox to support your to-do list. If there are important messages that you need to respond to within a certain period of time, keep them in your inbox so they’ll stay top of mind as you figure out how to prioritize. I tag my emails to make it easier to see what needs to happen in my email and why. I talk more about my email systems here.

What kind of systems do you use to get things done in work and life? I’d love to hear more in the comments below! 

 

6 Comments

monthly goals recap -> march + april.

I’m not quite sure how we’re already halfway through the first week of April, but here we are, I guess… and it’s time to talk goals. March was an interesting one around here, with big progress in some areas and next to none in others (trust me — I do not enjoy admitting that). I’m here with all the updates good and bad, plus a plan to make April even stronger.

Here’s a glimpse at the progress on my March Powersheets. In the middle section, the check marks mean “success!” and the dots mean “well, not quite so successful.” Oops.

tLtcP7hdTlS9821jXI5+yA_thumb_6d6

Let’s tackle my March goals one by one, shall we? In case you missed it, you can read the post where I set all these goals right here.

  • Successfully launch next collaboration with Brittney Lynn.√ YES! You’ve been seeing me share all about our free Partnering for Press webinar series here on the blog and across social media, and I’m happy to say that we’ve had a great response so far! Thanks to all of you who have tuned in! The last of the three-part series is actually going to take place tomorrow night (Thursday 4/5) at 8:00 pm EST, and it would be so fun to have my Finding Plan A family join us to wrap things up. Grab yourself a glass of wine and some snacks, because it’s totally low-pressure! Check out the details and register right here. See you then!

Twitter - April 5 - Chapter 33

  • Start buying podcasting equipment.√ YES! I have a microphone (for my fellow podcasters and aspiring podcasters, I went with this one) and a set of big fancy headphones that can’t wait to be used.
  • Finalize podcast title and start working on art/logo.√ YES! I met with my fabulous designer friend in mid-March to talk all things podcast branding. It was the first time that I really got to talk specifics with someone about this project, and I loved every minute of it. The title is locked down and I’ll get to take a peek at the first pass of the logo in the next week or two. I. can. not. wait.
  • Share draft pages. Things with my book took an interesting turn in March. I had some good work sessions in the first week or two of the month, but I found myself having a bit of a creative crisis after that. I’m finding myself wondering if I’m writing the “right” book… or if the doubts I’m having are just a normal part of the challenging process of becoming an author. I’ll share more about what I’m doing to manage all of this in my April goals, so keep reading!
  • Refocus on Pinterest. √ YES! I shut down my old Pinterest account and started totally fresh. Check it out here.
  • Pitch to at least one of the outlets on my target list for 2018. √ YES!
  • Read three books.√ YES! I read Manhattan Beach (a great piece of historical fiction that I honestly thought may have been just a little too long), Bachelor Nation (the perfect palette cleanser after said historical fiction that I would totally recommend to my fellow reality TV fans!), and FeastYou can learn more about Feast in my March giveaway post (unfortunately, the contest is now closed!), but the short version? I loved it.
  • Take a day off. I’m not proud to say that I didn’t make this one happen in March — and considering I’m inching closer and closer to total burnout every day, I think it might be a non-negotiable for April.
  • Taxes.√ YES Matt was a total champ and braved our complicated freelance tax process all on his own. We’re so relieved to have this behind us!
  • Work on the book three days a week, every week. Like I said above about sharing (or not sharing) draft pages, my book-writing process got turned upside down over the last few weeks. All I can do is try to move forward!
  • Save Fridays for big pitches and passion projects. √ YES I’ve spoken to a few fellow writers who are planning to implement this kind of routine into their own weekly schedule. You may not see it written into every one of my monthly goal posts — I don’t want to bore you! — but you can bet that this one is part of my new normal.
  • Find time once a week to write just for meI pulled this off about half as often as I would have liked to in March. Womp womp. The mental blocks I found myself hitting with working on the book toward the middle of the month kind of freaked me out, and as lame as it sounds, it turned me off of creative writing altogether. Like I said, I have a plan for how to turn things around moving forward!

Let me be totally honest — mentally and creatively, March was a tough one for me. I felt more exhausted and less confident than I have in a long, long time. My workload seemed bigger and more nonstop than ever, and while I made good progress on passion projects like Partnering for Press and the podcast, I can’t help but feel a little guilty for being so stalled on my book. No matter how much momentum I maintain with my existing clients and editors, I’m disappointed in myself when I struggle to move the needle on other things — and, in the case of writing my book, the things that matter most to me.

With the imminent end to winter weather (that has to happen soon, right?) and some new ideas about how to get inspired and stay focused, I have high hopes for April. Here’s what I’m working toward:

  • Start scheduling podcast recordings. This sounds a little boring and logistical, but it’s going to bring me a lot closer to hitting that June launch date for the show : )
  • Restore a positive attitude about writing the book! I’m reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott (if you’re a writer, you need to get your hands on this one ASAP!) and it really has my wheels turning about how to get back on my creative writing game. She offers some great assignments that I think will help me figure out if it’s time to redirect the subject matter entirely or simply dive back into what I’ve already started. I’m going to stop putting pressure on myself to work on drafting the book for a certain number of days per week and instead take that time to work on these assignments and get my confidence back.

Screen Shot 2018-04-03 at 5.15.29 PM

  • Plan travel to Ignite Your Soul Summit. At the end of the month, Brittney and I are finally going to meet in person (!!!!!!) at Amber Lilyestrom’s Ignite Your Soul Summit in New Hampshire. Before that magic can happen, I need to finalize my travel logistics.
  • Read three books. As always! This month, I have a feeling I might actually get to four.
  • Pitch to 1-2 target outlets. Again… as always!
  • Create social media for the podcast. I can’t wait to build a community for podcast listeners… and to have you all be part of it! This month, I’ll be setting up Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts so that when the time comes, you can join.
1930208_46237890692_8572_n
A very blurry photo of me at my high school graduation TEN years ago. TEN!
  • Finalize reunion details. I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that it’s been ten years since I graduated from high school, but that decade milestone seems to have really snuck up on me, because planning for the reunion has officially begun! I’m working with an awesome team of former classmates, and I think we’re going to have some of the logistics ironed out by the end of April.
  • Take a GarageBand editing tutorial. For the time being, I’m going to be editing the podcast myself, and while I have some basic editing experience, I need to brush up. I’ve been jokingly calling Matt my producer, but a girl’s gotta be able to rely on herself!
  • Have one phone-free night per week. I’ve been thinking a lot about phone boundaries in 2018, and while I think I’ve already made good progress, I want to challenge myself even further. A lot of people are big believers in social media-free weekends. I can’t say I’m quite there yet, but I do like the idea of putting my phone in the bedroom as I’m finishing up work one night per week so that I can be fully present with Matt for the few hours we have between dinner and bedtime.
  • TAKE A DAY OFF! We’ve gone all caps, people. This needs to happen. Do any of my fellow freelancers or solopreneurs have specific suggestions for how to plan a random day off? I’m very, very open to your ideas.

What are your goals for April? Fill me in with a comment!

 

 

5 Comments

march giveaway winner announced!

It’s time to announce the winner of the March giveaway, and I’m over here dancing in my PJ’s and desk chair because I get to gift a very lucky reader with their very own copy of Hannah Howard’s Feast. (I’ll let you and your imagination come up with the dance moves.) I’m just a few pages away from the end of the book now and I am so impressed by it. Hannah, I am so grateful to you for partnering with me on this month’s giveaway! Thank you for sharing your work with all of us : )

The winner of Feast is…

Victoria Munn!

Congratulations! I’ll send you an email this morning to work out the details of getting the book in your mailbox.

friends s reactions GIF-downsized_large

Thanks so much to all who entered this month! Don’t forget to come back for next month’s giveaway on April 23. If you didn’t win, I still hope you’ll consider grabbing a copy of Hannah’s book, because it’s really a great read. Check it out on Amazon here, and note that if you purchase through that link, I’ll earn a small fee for recommending Feast to you!

In the meantime, I’m off to do a nine-mile run (half marathon training is heating up!) and finish up some projects here in the office before Matt and I head to Pennsylvania for Passover and Easter celebrations with family. Sending you all the good vibes for a great weekend, no matter what you celebrate (or don’t celebrate)!

I’ll catch you back here next week. I’ll be talking March and April goals on Tuesday!

 

0 comment