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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Tips for Getting Things Done

I'm as good of a procrastinator as the next person, but I also hate the feeling of putting things off for too long. And of course nothing feels better than checking something off your list that's been on there for a long time. I often, if only for a brief moment, feel pretty confident I could conquer the world after such times. :D

I work full time, most of which is from my home office. It's both a luxury and not at the same time. Because sometimes it's easier to do housework than paperwork and vice versa, and distractions are often plentiful. I've found that making separate lists for work and home has really helped me in prioritizing what to do and when. And it's a lot easier to focus on what I'm doing when I'm not trying to remember everything else I have to do in the back of my head.

So if you're thinking of things you need to do while reading this, stop right now and write them down. 

Here are my favorite list-keeping tips:

1. Set a goal/deadline. It's easier to get things done if you give yourself a deadline. Even if it's one you just make up for no reason it will help motivate you to get things done. Or aim for a certain number of tasks a day. Whatever motivates you most.

2. Check things off as you go.  This helps me keep momentum. If I finish one thing I'm more likely to do another, and maybe even another. Sometimes finishing one small task and checking it off your list is all the confidence you need to tackle something more difficult.

3. Reward yourself.  (The main reason I like to finish my to-do list in the first place. :D) I usually reward myself with some quiet time reading a new book or sipping a latte while I catch up on my favorite blogs. Or go on a walk. Whatever you like to do, make yourself finish some tasks before you indulge.

So, go and be productive! :)
Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Travel Planning : Coffee Shops + Cafes

I've been blogging a lot about travel this year so I'm just going to keep rolling with it and share some more. :D

For as long as I've been old enough to drive or go on road trips with my friends, I've loved planning trips. I honestly probably enjoy the planning more than the actual trip sometimes, simply because of the anticipation and all the possibilities of places to go or things to do. So I'd like to share specifically about how I find my favorite places to eat and drink (coffee).

1. Townske
After we pick a city or area to go to, I search that place in an app called Townske. I have referred to this app on here before, but basically it's a platform where anyone can make and share guides about different cities and their favorite places to go and things to do. It isn't always easy to search on there, especially if your destination is a common name, but it's a good place to start. So, for example, on our recent trip to Florida I was looking up places in St. Petersburg, Florida, but it also showed places in St. Petersburg, Russia. Just make sure what you're looking at is actually in the area you're going to or you might be disappointed. ;)

2. Instagram
Next, I search the city or area on Instagram, and I do this a couple different ways. I start by searching the city name and looking at the accounts and locations that pop up. A lot of major cities have Instagram accounts that are specifically for sharing coffee shops and restaurants in the area, so that's an ideal place to start. I look up the location and their Instagram account, if they have one, and scroll through the pictures and decide if it's a place I might like to go.

3. Google Maps
Lastly, I search google maps (or whatever map app you use). I don't usually search for places on google maps unless I'm in a pinch and looking for a popular chain restaurant or coffee shop.  The types of places I like to go to don't show up in a general google map search for coffee or cafes, so I find places on Townske and Instagram and then look them up and save them in google maps for easy look-up and navigating later.

Then, I take it a step further and save these locations in different categories. For general coffee shops or cafes that I might visit if I'm in the vicinity or just looking for more options, I simply save it with a yellow star. For places that I for sure want to visit, I save with a pink heart. If I find a cute park or building to go to or something to do, I save it with a green bookmark. And for other random locations I want to save that don't fit in any of those categories, I save it with a blue square.

To give you a better idea, this is a view of my google maps for our vacation in Florida last week:
We didn't go to near all of the places I saved, but we had plenty of options when we were looking for something to do or a place to eat.

Narrowing It Down
I'm usually pretty picky about the places I go. Especially in big cities, the options can be pretty overwhelming, so I try to find places with decor and design that particularly appeal to me. I like to go to places with white, minimalist, unique design, and when looking for coffee shops I'll always choose the place that does latte art. Now, let me explain why I choose places like this. In my opinion, coffee shops and cafes that are thoughtfully designed are an experience in themselves, the atmosphere and people there are inspiring and refreshing. And if they serve their drinks with art they usually have better tasting coffee and it means your latte was made correctly (no foam, PLEASE). It's helpful to come up with your own expectations of places you want to go and why. It doesn't have to be complicated, just what interests or appeals you.

I hope this was helpful! If you have any trip planning tricks I'd love to hear them. And do you gravitate toward a particular kind of cafes and coffee shops?
Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why I Share My Life Online

Recently on a slow afternoon I spent some time sitting on the couch scrolling through my social media feeds on my phone. This isn't an unusual occurrence, but I was particularly struck with the realization of how encouraged, inspired, and happy I felt after looking at other people's exciting adventures and beautiful talents, rather than discontentment and inadequacy.

One friend was sharing about the process of making wedding cakes and all the time and planning that goes into it. Another friend was also doing the sitting-on-the-couch-scrolling-through-Instagram thing (yay!). And another friend was shopping around local junk shops to search for unique treasures.

The information I learned from that "couch session" isn't pivotal to my life or well being, I could go the rest of my life without knowing those things about those people and what anyone else is doing with their lives. But I felt enriched to learn about what they enjoy and how they spend their time.. Each of them inspired me in different ways to try new things, look for hidden gems in my corner of the world, and that it's okay to take it easy once in a while and sit on my couch to admire the gifts and adventures that other people have.

I'm grateful they felt free to share their talents and everyday moments with their online community, and I believe each of them did so with the intent to inspire or encourage others.

We talk a lot online about comparison and showing our real lives instead of just the cute, fun moments. And, while I'm all about being real, I do know that sharing a photo of my messy kitchen isn't going to inspire you to go clean yours. So, while we can always overdo and overuse the things we have in life, we can use the resources we have wisely, for encouragement and inspiration rather than as a source for discontentment and comparison.

Inspiration. Encouragement. Community. 

That's why I share my life online.

What are your thoughts? I'd love to hear why you share parts of your life online.

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