Christmas is upon us. I hope you have your shopping and wrapping done. I hope you have a meal planned, maybe some cookies already baked and ready for Santa. But if you don’t, that’s okay. I’m here to give you permission to opt out (and by you, I mean me). You don’t need another holiday gift guide, what you need is to cut yourself some slack.
Invented Charm Posts
I often feel my focus is very split between my day to day activities and those lurking to-dos that require way more attention than my toddler will let me give to them. I have more to do in a day than I feel like there’s time to do it. I write reminders upon reminders. I block off time just to think. I’ve got lists about lists… It doesn’t always come together perfectly, but I’ve come up with my best ideas to be more efficient with the time you have, whether you’re scatter brained like me or if you’re just in a frazzled season of life.
Don’t put things off.
I received two invitations for upcoming parties, and instead of losing them like I usually do, I actually RSVPd immediately. I called and emailed the party organizers within minutes of getting the invites, wrote the dates down in my calendar, and just felt very on top of things for once. Consider if the thing you need to do is quick and if it is, just do it. Don’t put off making a decision if it’s something that can be done without much hemming and hawing.
Seize every opportunity.
During our summer getaway, we were strolling during our last morning in Carmel by the Sea. There are tons of cute shops there and suddenly it struck me that I could get a jump start on buying gifts for several holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries upcoming. We bought really fun food gifts at a cute boutique and it was an enriching experience because we were smelling and tasting things and looking at all the beautiful packaging. I crossed off every person on my list who had an upcoming celebration—in total SIX people who I would have had to shop for individually at a later point. Take the opportunity that presents itself, whether it’s an unexpected chunk of time in a waiting room that you can use to review your budget or a cool boutique that can serve as a one-stop shop. It really helps if you review your calendar frequently and look ahead at upcoming events and significant dates. Speaking of dates…
Set a date.
Ever since I started doing You Need A Budget, I always consult my budget before I make purchases. I had a bridal shower to attend this summer, but I knew I didn’t have enough in my July gifts budget to buy anything. On the first of August I made my new budget, put in the money I needed for a gift off of my friend’s registry, and then took action. I still purchased the gift well in advance of the shower, but I did so only after consulting my budget and my calendar. It took some impulse control not to just buy the gift immediately, and I still do advocate doing things immediately when possible, but it’s just as efficient to complete tasks on a set date.
Group tasks together.
This isn’t a new concept. I’ve written about it before when I wrote about a Power Hour, which I learned about from the Happier Podcast. It’s one of my all-time favorite tips! I love to employ this tactic by grouping together tasks I dislike. I recently took a free afternoon to round up a bunch of gifts that needed to be mailed. I wrapped the items, wrote cards, packed the boxes, printed shipping labels, and dropped them off at the post office. I find it’s more efficient to do a bunch of things at once, especially if I don’t love the task.
Calendar several months in advance.
I recently committed to something that I had to back out of, and I feel terrible, but it was my mistake for not flipping through the pages of my calendar. I was so focused on stuff in October, that I forgot about a trip in November. To maximize efficiency, always look forward in your calendar. I find that during busy seasons, it’s most helpful to plan two to three months ahead. Update your online and paper calendars at the same time, and start to-do lists. Take a long view of things so you’re not caught off guard.
Image credit // Jess Watters via StockSnap.io
It’s been a while. A hot minute. I can’t claim that I’ve been up to much lately. I think the longer I go between posts, the more I feel like I don’t have anything worthwhile to say. So here I am tapping the microphone. Yep, it’s still on.
I’ve been making great strides with my 2018 habit changes, but I have been struggling to find ways to treat myself. My favorite thing ever is a good ol’ Treat Yo Self day, but generally speaking, mimosas and fine leather goods are not sustainable or attainable healthy treats. On the Happier podcast, Gretchen Rubin often talks about how using food, drink, and shopping as treats undermines the positive habits changes we are trying to make. For example, one of my big goals this year is to stick to a budget and get back to saving monthly. My partner and I even started using the You Need a Budget app to better track our spending. It’s been going great so far, but the last thing I want to do is treat myself with shopping when what I want most is to save.
I think occasional planned indulgences that are food or shopping based are fine, I just want to get away from the notion that they are treats. We are all so busy with our daily lives that we may feel depleted and drained. That’s why treats are effective at staving off burn-out. I’ve pulled together a list of experiences that are very simple, low cost or free, pleasurable treats.
It’s 2018. Whoa. How’s it going for you thus far? Did you make some resolutions, pick a word of the year, or create a gratitude journal? I made a little notebook in my Notes app for 2018 goal setting, and I’ve been listening to a ton of podcasts to keep me inspired and motivated. So far I’m batting 9/10 most days. It is pretty amazing, but yet I’m totally obsessed with one of the things on my list I can’t seem to do: write everyday.
Maybe it wasn’t realistic to create an all or nothing kind of goal when it comes to writing. But when I made that goal I thought I could totally do it. I did write every day in November through about December 23. So what is stopping me from having perfect 10/10 days?
I decided to use Gretchen Rubin’s Checklist for Habit Change to pinpoint where I went wrong, and I think I figured out some areas of my goal that need improving. If you’re having a hard time getting and staying motivated about a goals/resolutions/intentions for 2018, hopefully this post will resonate with you. Regular listeners of the Happier podcast will definitely recognize these tips.
I had grand plans for this holiday season. I was going to post about Designing my Winter. I had a bunch of ideas–go ice skating, watch Love Actually at our art house theater on a date night, make a gingerbread house from scratch. But it’s a week until Christmas and all I’ve managed to do is put up a tree, have a couple peppermint mochas at Starbucks, get some shopping done (and not even all of it), and get my holiday cards out. Phew.
I have talked to a few friends about how stressed out I’m feeling. I’m constantly moving, working on writing, doing housework, parenting, etc. But I feel like I’m just treading water. During the holidays we have to do all our normal things, and then fold in all those extra obligations. And I have been trying, but to no avail, I can’t seem to fold in anything extra.
Every year I love to bake, but this year I just haven’t gotten to it. And when I think about doing it, I spin out into a panic. I had a total meltdown about it this weekend. I cried, I thought I was a terrible friend for flaking out and bringing store bought cookies to a get together. But the store bought cookies were fine. They were actually really tasty, and my friends didn’t care. It cost me seven bucks and just a bit of my pride.
Now that I can be a bit more reflective about how the first 19 days of December have gone, I will say that I think I’ve put my energy in the wrong place. Or maybe it’s not wrong, but next year I might choose differently. I have to accept that where I’m at in life means I don’t have room for everything. I want to do. I don’t want to give up a single thing, but if I don’t pick and choose carefully I’m not going to enjoy the holidays at all.
In the midst of writing this post, I got a call from a friend and we decided we aren’t exchanging gifts with each other or our families. I had been wanting to ask her that for weeks, but I never had the nerve. But I had to face facts: I’m down to the wire and I don’t want to do anymore shopping. I’m calling it. My holiday shopping is done, and sorry I’m not sorry if I crossed you off the list.
If you’re struggling, know that you’re not alone. Be gentle with yourself. Chose to do things that will bring you joy and skip everything else. Honestly, here’s my permission to skip everything if that’s what is going to bring you joy.
We are half way through November! I wanted to check in with how I’m doing on the fall I designed. Have you tried this out yet? I’ve written about it multiple times (here and here), but it’s a subject that I still really love. It’s a tip I learned from the Happier podcast with Gretchen Rubin. I get such satisfaction from making a plan and sticking to it.
1. Enjoy the season by going to an apple farm or pumpkin patch with my family.
We took Rory to a small apple farm in one of the next towns over. It was quiet and had a little playground, and was a quick and easy outing. We could have stopped there, but we upped our game and went to Apple Hill in Placerville, CA this weekend!
It is something I grew up doing and I LOVE IT. It allows me to go wild and buy tons of apples and apple products.
If you want to look at actually stunning Apple Hill photos (and not my quick, unskilled and unedited ones), check out this post about Apple Pantry Farm from Farm Tots and peruse the apple hill tag for other great posts.
I’ve slowed down to almost a stop on blogging. Not because I had some plan to, but I suppose I’m just living the fall I designed. I’ve been busy with a toddler and a home that’s in a constant state of flux.
We traveled for Nick’s work last week, and that wore me out. When we got home from the trip Nick thought it would be a good time to drill holes in the wall to run the A/V cables properly. The house feels like a danger zone.
This week there’s Halloween, and I’m prepping to start National Novel Writing Month. Again.
I’m looking through my files and I realized I’ve participated since 2007 off and on. I think I missed 2014 and 2016. I was pregnant in 2014 and in 2016 we had our house on the market and were in the process of moving. I somehow managed to “win” during years I was buying my first house and moving, changing jobs, and facing health crises. I also participated but didn’t “win” for many years.
There’s no real trick to writing and completing a novel in thirty days. It’s simply a matter of math—knowing how much time you have to write and getting your words done—but there is magic. I always feel a kind of electricity when I’m writing, the flow of words to screen or pen to paper. Now that my life is fuller than ever I have gotten better about channeling that energy and turning it off and on. I used to spend so much time during Nano just spinning my wheels, not knowing what I wanted to say, and typing words simply to get to 1,667 per day. Some years I just stopped because I couldn’t get the words to come out at all or I wasn’t willing or able to find the time.
I feel like this year will be different. I have better tools at my disposal—ten years of novel writing experience, knowing how to work in fits and starts, a voice that’s ready to be heard, and the confidence that I can follow through and finish a project. November 1st is when I’ll start this new story, but November 30th won’t be the last day I touch it, and that’s a commitment I finally feel ready to make to myself.
Best wishes if you are participating! Come find me, I’m inventedcharm there too.