Pillow Upgrade

We’re going through another home improvement fit lately – I feel like it comes in waves. For a while, we’ll be like, “Our house is amazing!” – or we’re just lazy – and nothing new happens for a while. Then all of a sudden we realize we need to do 5 projects like RIGHT NOW and it needs to all be done like YESTERDAY and we can’t stand it.

For example, one day I was SO DONE with my bedroom pillow situation. I got this throw pillow at TJ Maxx just as a placeholder for when I found a pillow that I really liked (but didn’t break the bank). Then I totally forgot about it, and suddenly it was an emergency.

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I just felt like the pattern was a little too Pinteresty for me, and I wanted something a little more grown up and interesting. Then there was the issue of an accent color to add to the navy, white, grey, and mint theme. Emily suggested pale pink, which is a great accent color that I’m into lately – but I just loved the idea of keeping everything in this room cool – it makes me feel so calm for some reason. I know that Emily Henderson says to mix cool and warm colors or whatever, but what can I say, I’m a rebel.

Then there was the issue of how I was going to afford 3 throw pillows – everywhere I looked it was so expensive. I caved and had to have this one – it was love at first sight. Then Emily changed my life and told me about the affordable pillow covers at H&M – her genius idea? Buy the affordable pillow covers from H&M, then go to Ross and find a cheap ugly pillow to stuff it with. So much cheaper, and surprisingly easy!

With that, our bedroom face lift:

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I went with green – I think it complements the mint duvet well but adds some depth – plus I don’t see that deep green very often and I was into doing something different. This color combo makes me feel so relaxed, guys.

What do you think? How do you make your bedroom into a relaxing sanctuary?

(P.S. Yes, I hang my robe on my light. Again – me = rebel.)

 

 

 

Weight on my shoulders

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Devil: What happened to us? We were being so good! We lost a good amount of weight – remember how hot we felt that one weekend where everything looked good on us? Now all of a sudden we never work out anymore, we bite our nails within an inch or their lives again, we never shave our legs… We were so put together for a while there. WHAT HAPPENED

Angel: Um, life happened? A ton of people were in town, and there wasn’t any time to work out, then we got our period and hated life for like a week, and now we just want to have a couple beers and not worry about how our body looks for one. second. Did you see that awesome blogger’s post today? She has a body type just like ours and she is BEAUTIFUL. We are beautiful too! I bet if we put on that same amazing dress she was wearing, we would look amazing too, but we wouldn’t think so – we would beat ourselves up about it. Maybe we should read that article about loving your belly again…

Devil: We are going to Vegas in two weeks. TWO WEEKS. We were ready last week to look and feel hot AF – but we lost it. Now we have two weeks to get back to that amazing place where all of our clothes are magical and we don’t want to burn them all in a trash can. Why did we have a soda today with lunch? WHY? WE NEVER DRINK SODA. We’re slipping. Maybe if we eat a salad for lunch AND dinner every day before Vegas…

Angel: But Anthony is graduating this weekend! We have to have beer! Life is too fun and short to worry about this shit! Gawd how much time do we seriously spend arguing about how we look? IT’S SO DUMB. We should make room in our brain for things that are actually helpful! Remember college? We never beat our self up this way back then!

Devil: Because we were hot.

Angel: I mean, ya, but we’re hot now too!

Devil: *unconvinced look*

Angel: In a different way! Like, a grown up, grown-ass woman way. Like who the fuck cares? Let’s move ON. We are so much more evolved than this.

Devil: Say what you want, but everyone is going to be PISSED we didn’t do something sooner when we’re in Vegas and we have a hormonal meltdown because nothing we packed looks good and we’re in FUCKING VEGAS and we’re 27 and we should feel hot as fuck.

Angel: We are hot as fuck! We got LEATHER PANTS. They looked great, even when we felt SO fat trying them on. Nothing can go wrong with leather pants.

Devil: Okay, that’s one night’s outfit covered. WHAT ABOUT THE OTHER NIGHT. You can’t just wear leather pants two nights in a row. I dare you to find another outfit that we feel hot in when our beer belly makes a triumphant return with this new carefree attitude we have going. We need to go shopping again… But we don’t have the money and nothing fits us.

Angel: We need to get. over. it. It’s a belly. When we’re 60 and wrinkly, all we’ll think is, “Gawd, I wasted so much time beating myself up about my stupid (and adorable) belly, which was just full of good times, and the whole time I was young, and had beautiful skin, and my boobs were perky, and my ass was out of this world…” We need to appreciate all we have going for us right now and shut up about it.

Devil: But that’s the point! We’re young! We should be working out and reaching our full potential! Those girls with the ripped arms for no reason on Facebook look like they’re seriously taking advantage of their strong, young bodies. We want to be like that!

Angel: Do we though? Are we settings goals that aren’t even ours again? We just need to go on a walk, not eat out as much the next couple of days, and we’ll feel fine.

Devil: Until Vegas. VEGAS.

 

 

 

 

5 ways to instantly become more organized

 

I am addicted to get-organized-quick schemes. When I’m not busy at work, my favorite thing to do is watch webinars on how to best use my iPhone, Outlook, and other tools to be the most productive and organized person in the world that I can be.

After a couple of these webinars, advice from other people, and trying out different things, I found some really helpful tricks that have improved how I do things in my professional and personal life. Now I feel like things don’t fall through the cracks and I can keep up on all my random to-dos – the only thing left is finding the energy to do them….

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1.Turn off email notifications.

This was a huge one for me. I use Outlook at work, and the majority of the time I’m not so busy that I can’t stop for a second to answer an email, or even just scan the subject line of a new email that would pop up at the corner of my screen. I never thought the notifications were a big deal or that they interrupted anything.

Then I was listening to a webinar and they said to shut it off, and cited studies and all sorts of convincing shit that made me do it. I honestly didn’t think it would make that much of a difference, but it has.

Here’s why: even if the email is not in any way important, I will stop whatever (actually important) thing I’m doing to read it. It was so distracting, and I didn’t even realize it until it was gone. Now, when I start working on a project, I can actually get something done. Even if a super important email comes in while I’m working, can’t it wait 30 minutes to an hour? If it is that urgent, the person in need can just pick up the phone and call me. I’m telling you, it is so much nicer to go into my inbox after completely focusing on a project and seeing 5 emails, rather than checking each one as they come in and feeling like my brain is in 5 places at once.

I never turned my email notifications on on my phone, but it sounds like an awful idea, for the record. I have been hanging out with friends, drinking beers, when their phone makes a noise and all of a sudden they’re depressed because they got a stressful or drama-inducing email and now we’re all bummed.

I say, turn it off! You’ll start spending actual focused time on what you are doing right now, and your time will start to feel like your time, not someone else’s to do what they want with.

2. Set up email folders.

I mean, duh. But – I learned a system from a webinar distributed at work that has saved me from stressing out or losing track of important things during days when I felt like I had 324,785 things to do. I wish I could credit the correct person for this system, but it was months ago! If anyone thinks this looks familiar and knows the origin, please let me know – but it is too good not to share.

Here is how I have it set up:

 

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Seems a little complicated, but I promise it’s not! Let’s start at the top.

  • Inbox

This is only for incoming messages. Weird concept, right? I used to just work out of my inbox entirely and only put things in folders that I was saving for the future. But using this system, the inbox only shows you things you haven’t dealt with yet. Then, once you’ve dealt with everything (not finished everything, but allocated everything to its appropriate place in your folders) your inbox will be empty. It’s a marvelous feeling.

  • Today

These are things you need to deal with today. This is great for when you come in in the morning to a shit ton of emails in your inbox and you just need to go through everything to figure out what is urgent, what isn’t, if any fires are burning the place down, etc. If something needs to be done today, you put it in that folder and make sure everything in there is finished by the time you leave. Simple.

  • Tomorrow

Same deal. Except when you come in the next day, or maybe right before you leave, you shift your tomorrow stuff to today. Sounds like something you’ll forget to do, right? But just try if it sounds like something that could help you – it is way more intuitive than I thought it would be.

  • This week

This is great for having a reminder email in there to just keep up with a project, stay in touch with someone, etc – but it doesn’t have to have a specific deadline.

  • Next week

Same deal. When you come in on Monday, or before you leave Friday, you update your folders. See below on how I never forget to do that with my Monday calendar event.

  • Waiting For

THIS IS HUGE. This, my friends, is how I become a magical sorceress who never – I mean, never – lets anything slip through the cracks. Here’s how it works – you reply to someone asking a question, or you email someone needing something in return. After you send it, go to your send folder, and plop that baby in Waiting For. Then, you can regularly check back and follow up with people if they don’t get back to you. When someone gets back to you, you delete it from the folder. (If you are in Outlook, make sure to sort your messages by conversation so everything stays together – that way, it’s easy to see that someone got back to you even when you’re only looking in the Waiting For folder – their reply will be right there with your request.) This is great for covering your ass – you have proof right there that you were waiting on someone else, and you can politely follow up with them in a reasonable time frame so things can get resolved. I am absolutely obsessed with this one – if you do nothing else that I say in this post, but you want to try one thing, do this.

Then I have just helpful folders below – that RANDY/KAREN folder is titled “RANDY/KAREN NO ACTION” (I put it in all caps so it stands out from the other system/default folders). Randy and Karen are colleagues I work with, and they cc me on a lot of stuff that I sometimes need to do nothing about. So I put them in here, so I have them on hand when they bring it up, but it isn’t clogging up my inbox or to-do folders.

The other ones are just helpful folders to save emails that describe processes I need to follow, or a place to put emails relating to the systems we use, etc. The only other one I want to touch on is the Yay Me folder. This is great for work emails – you throw in any email where someone is like, “Hey, you organized-as-hell sorceress, you are amazing at your job and I really appreciate that hard thing you did for me today via email” into this folder. Then when you’re having a bad day, or you are trying to get the nerve up to ask for a raise, or whatever, you look at this stuff and you’re like “How did I forget for one SECOND how amazing I am”. I love it.

3. Set up calendar appointments to start your week off right.

To be honest, I need to do this with my personal life – sit down every Sunday with Anthony and look at the week ahead – decide when we will go grocery shopping, when he has rehearsals, etc. The only headway I’ve made here is getting a joint Google calendar on our phones so we don’t double-book ourselves and nothing sneaks up on us (Anthony’s idea). But the last thing I want to do on a Sunday is sit down and talk about the upcoming week, so this is a work in progress.

But the system that I have grown to love and use consistently is the calendar appointment I make for myself on Monday mornings for work. I’ve actually stuck with this one, and it helps me feel more prepared for the week ahead, and less like I’m being shot out of a cannon.

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It gets those email folders taken care of and updated, plus if I have any early meetings that week I can make sure to pay attention and re-set my alarm so I don’t sleep through it.

4. Get Evernote (or something like it)

This just keeps everything in my brain in one place. Little notes, phone numbers, email responses I can copy/paste that I send a lot, blog post ideas, instructions, you name it. I use it on my phone and it syncs to my desktop. It’s simple but can hold a ton of information that doesn’t end up getting lost or forgotten – and everything is searchable. Thank god.

5. Get Wunderlist (or something like it)

I was using Todoist for a while, and then tried Wunderlist after hearing everyone highly recommending it. I just like it. I think I switched because Todoist didn’t have the capability to share lists, which was essential because I want Anthony and I to be able to both add things and check them off. Now I share a grocery list and chores list with Anthony, plus all my other lists are in the same place. There is a desktop and mobile version, and you can set up ongoing reminders for tasks, which I couldn’t figure out how to do in Todoist – that’s huge for me since I need weekly and daily reminders (mostly to not kill my plants).

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Alright ya’ll – you now have my secret weapons. Go forth into a more organized life – one with more time for beer and friends. :)

 

What are your secret weapons for staying organized?

 

 

Don’t talk it down

 

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I was talking to Emily the other day, and she was saying how much she is enjoying her job lately – she works at a little art gallery in Capitola Village, right by the beach near our hometown. The funny thing is, it took her a while to fully embrace it.

She said when she first started there, she kept thinking, “This is only temporary, it’s just a little job while I figure out what my Grown Up Job will be, or what I want to do with my life.” Then, when anyone asked what she did, she would tell them through that lens – “It’s not a forever thing, I’m working there while I look into other career paths and figure out what I want to do.”

Then, one day, she’s working in the gallery, and she just has a moment of happiness and fulfillment. She loves it there. She loves her job. She loves being by the beach and close to her home. Then she thought: Why do I keep acting like this amazing job is only temporary? The more she thought about it, the more she realized how it was perfect for her – she has an art degree and an eye for design and new trends – she’s great at sales and has sales experience – she has a flexible schedule in a beautiful town where it can be hard to find a job… There is nothing wrong with this picture.

Even if she had another job that didn’t line up with her background the way this one does, the bottom line is – if it makes her happy, that’s all that matters. Period.

Now, since she had this shift in how she viewed it, when she tells people about her job they react totally differently.

“What do you do?’

“I work in an art gallery in Capitola Village – I get to use my art degree and see the most amazing local pieces, and it’s just down the road from my house and across the street from the beach – I love it.”

People are all of a sudden walking away thinking, wow Emily has such a cool life! Rather than, well, Emily is still in a transition period right now, I hope she finds what she wants to do. Not that it matters what people think, but it makes Emily feel better to not talk her situation down, and people have a real picture of what’s actually going on. She liked her job this whole time, but realized she had this weird perspective on it for some reason. Once she allowed herself to love it because she loves it, not because of what it might mean on paper or compared to some Pinterest article, everything changed. Why can’t this job be a forever thing? Why act like you haven’t “made it”, when in reality, you have?

 

I had the same experience. When I moved to Santa Barbara, I figured I would work as a receptionist in a dentist’s office or something – I just wanted to live here. I had no idea there was a tech community, or that I would ever enjoy working in that world. Now I’ve been working in the industry for about 3 years, and I really like my job. However, since I got a master’s in sociology, it feels like a failure somehow to be working outside of what I went to school for, especially since I’m passionate about that subject. But I’m also passionate about living in Santa Barbara and having my own apartment and visiting family and friends. That’s what my job allows me to do, while challenging me and showing me new skills I didn’t know I had.

It took a long time for me to allow myself to be happy where I am in my career. I still have moments where I think, what the hell am I doing here? But most of the time I feel really lucky and accomplished.

Talking to Emily was a great reminder – what we say about ourselves affects how we feel about ourselves – it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. It’s important to focus on where we are now and if it is making us happy, and to not judge our life by some standard that isn’t even important to us. What is more important to me – having a fancy title and making a certain amount per year, or having a flexible schedule, an amazing boss, and great benefits? It’s hard to remember to compare things with my own priorities, not someone else’s. Once I look at what I have accomplished and how it is making me feel, things start feeling better and better. I just need to allow myself to appreciate it, and not get sucked into a narrative (“work shouldn’t feel like work”; “if you’re not doing what you love, quit now”).

I recently went home to visit my family, and went with a couple of childhood friends to a local dive bar in town to catch up. I (of course) ran into a bunch of people from our graduating class that I haven’t seen in almost a decade – it was crazy.

I was chatting with one guy and he asked what I did. I said “I live in Santa Barbara and work at a tech company. I don’t know why I work in the tech industry, but I do! Haha!” (I may have had a beer or two.)

I have a hard time with being self-deprecating, so my knee-jerk reaction was to be like, “My job is so random, right?” instead of remembering how great it is.

His reaction was like, “Oh, bummer” basically. I was like, wait. Stop it. My job is awesome.

Then I remembered my conversation with Emily while I talked with someone else. They asked what I did. “I work in Santa Barbara at a software company. It’s pretty awesome – I get to travel sometimes and I really like it.” Totally different conversation – same job.

Isn’t it weird how we can sabotage ourselves? I need constant reminders.

So here is my challenge to both of us – don’t talk your shit down. Don’t be an asshole either, and brag all night about your life, but be truthful! If it makes you happy, it makes you happy! If it doesn’t, say that too – but don’t rob yourself of a good moment for no reason. Let’s start measuring our success on our own terms, and by what makes us happy – not what we think we should be doing.

 

Does this happen to you too? Maybe with another category of life? I would love to hear from other self-deprecators!

 

 

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