How to be a More Productive Planner

I struggled with starting this post today. Originally, my intentions were to write about why planning is important, but as I sat down to write I found that I didn’t have as much to say as I thought I did. Instead, the post started to steer in the direction of how to be a more productive planner and why planning is helpful on a day to day basis.

Here are a few tips on how to plan more productively!

Make the time to plan your week // Take an hour or so at the beginning of your week and sit down with your calendar, schedule, to-do list, etc., and plan things out. You are more likely to be successful and accomplish more if you assign specific tasks to specific days. I personally find that I have a greater sense of peace and control when I plan my whole week out in advance. There are less surprise things to do that sneak up on me and I feel more calm starting my week off in order. Every morning, take a quick look at the day you have planned to see if you need to make any changes, and adjust accordingly.

Menu plan // This can be a cumbersome chore for me, but my week runs so much more smoothly when I have an idea of what we are going to do for dinner every night. To get started menu planning, brainstorm a list of your favorite meals so you have a “bank of options,” so to speak. You can then plan out your meals accordingly. Save time consuming recipes for nights when you know you’ll be able to cook, and either plan freezer meals or take-out for nights when you won’t have time to cook. Remember that your meal plan doesn’t have to be set in stone! Every now and then I will look at our menu for the evening and not feel like eating what we planned, but because we have a whole week of meals planned and shopped for, I can just swap days and still be ahead of the game!

Find a system that works for you // For me, it’s color coding. Planner Color CodeI assign a specific color to different aspects of my life so that when I write everything out in my planner I can quickly see what it is I have to do that day, or what my overall schedule for the week looks like. I personally find this to be really helpful because I don’t need to necessarily look at each and every thing that is happening that day, but just by glancing I’ll know that I have two blog posts to write, an appointment in the morning, and a meeting for church in the evening. If you are interested, here is a picture of the color code I am currently using:

Don’t over-plan // This one is really important. I know many of us have a ton of commitments, appointments, and events we need to keep track of, but if you spread yourself too thin eventually it will catch up with you. If you over schedule yourself (or your kids!), either a) you wont be able to keep up or participate fully in everything you are supposed to do, b) you will accidentally forget about things you are supposed to do, or c) you will burn out from trying to do everything. It is important to learn how to say no to people or commitments when you are becoming overbooked. It’s also important to learn how to prioritize the things you decide to stay committed to. It may be hard to eliminate things from your schedule at first, but as you learn what your priorities really are and how much you can handle, you will feel less stressed by keeping it simple (or at least, a little more simple than before).

Be flexible // Occasionally you may not get to everything you planned to do–life can be unpredictable and sometimes it just doesn’t happen! Allow yourself some wiggle room and be flexible with your schedule. Make sure not to schedule two things so closely back to back that you don’t give yourself time to travel, or a buffer in case your first commitment runs late. If you don’t accomplish all you want to in one day, take a few minutes at the end of your day to re-evaluate your plan and see where you can re-assign some tasks. That might mean you cut some things out completely, and that’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up for needing to change the plan.

Celebrate your accomplishments // Particularly in regards to goal setting, make sure to celebrate what you have achieved! Breaking a larger goal down into “bite-sized” manageable pieces is a great way to make the goal more achievable, and it also makes it way easier to plan for. When you manage to plan out the steps to accomplishing your goal you are already well on your way to being successful, so be sure to celebrate when you actually do complete one of those tasks! A simple pat on the back will help you to stay motivated, and if you wrote it down, crossing it off will make you feel great and give you a visual reminder of what you have achieved.

Buy a planner that you love to use // I invested in an Erin Condren life planner last year, and I really feel like it has made a huge difference in how I plan and my productivity level. I love how pretty and well organized it is, and it makes me excited to sit down with my colored pens and washi-tape and get to planning. If you find a planner you love, it will help you love to plan! This post is not sponsored in any way by Erin Condren. I just found something that works for me, so I wanted to share it with you. You can check out my most recent YouTube video all about my planner and why I love it below.

I hope some of these tips were helpful for you! Tell me, what are some things you do to be a more productive planner? I’m always looking for new ideas and tips!

Linking up with the Lou Lou Girls for their Fabulous Party and Worthwhile Wednesday!

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Building a Simplified Wardrobe You Love to Wear

For the past few weeks I have felt the need to purge as much clutter from my house as possible, including from inside my closet. I was feeling really overwhelmed with all my clothes and still feeling like I had nothing to wear, so I decided to shop my own closet and simplify things. I mean for goodness sake, I turn twenty-six at the end of the month and I still have clothes from high school. It’s time to move on!

Building a Simplified Wardrobe you Love to Wear Header

I was intimidated to start this process because I love clothes. I love love love them. Accessories too. But, I’m at this point in my life where I have neither the means nor the space to be able to support the kind of endless wardrobe that I dream of. I have the feeling that eliminating the bulk of clothes I don’t wear that are just taking up space will be freeing. Maybe I’ll even find that my dream wardrobe isn’t endless after all, but simple and minimal.

You could call this a capsule wardrobe of sorts, but I haven’t gone through yet to see how many pieces I have now that I have paired things down and I don’t think everything goes with absolutely everything. Can I still call it a capsule wardrobe? I don’t know. Regardless of what I’m calling it, I already feel SO much better about my clothes and about my body because I always feel good in what I wear. I’ll go more in depth in a separate post about what specific pieces I have kept and how I plan on mixing and matching them, but for now I wanted to tell you how I started the whole process because let’s face it–sometimes it is hard to get started, and even harder to let things go.

Take everything out of your closet // Seriously, everything. Clothes, shoes, your bath robe, belts, scarves, extra hangers, that purse that you forgot you had because it got stuffed all the way in the back. Everything. Lay it all out on your bed or the floor–where ever you have space. If you use a dresser or drawers, empty those too. You want your entire wardrobe to be out in the open, in plain sight, so that nothing can hide from you.

Stop for a moment // Breathe. Don’t get overwhelmed. You good? Okay. Continue.

Find your favorites // You know what I’m talking about. That shirt that makes you feel like a million bucks, or that dress that you get compliments on all the time. Quickly go through and pick out the things that make you feel great, look great, and that you love. If you have even a moment of doubt about whether or not you love it–YOU DON’T! Put it down, and we will get to it in a minute. You may find that when you are finished with this step you have only a few things hanging in your closet, and that’s okay! This is your foundation, and we are going to build up from here. If you end up with more than half of your stuff back in the closet or on the shelves, that’s okay too–but make sure you really are only choosing pieces you LOVE.

Begin to sort // Now that you have all of your faves hanging back up, it’s time to go through the pile again. For this part, move quickly. Don’t stop to think too much, otherwise you will talk yourself into keeping way more than you need to. Be instinctual. Remember, just because something is pretty, or was purchased on sale, or cost a fortune, or was a gift DOESN’T MEAN that you have to keep it. Some of your clothes have made it through a lot of legs of the race, but sadly, some players must be eliminated and cannot continue on. Sorry, I’ve been watching a lot of reruns of the amazing race on Hulu-plus. Anyway…

Go through your clothes and sort them into three piles: to donate, to try on, and needs to be fixed. In your donate pile go the clothes that you know you never wear, or hate wearing, or always try to avoid. Don’t think twice. Just do it. Your try on pile should be for clothes that you are kind of neutral toward. I had quite a few tops that were in fine condition that I liked and looked good on me, but that I wasn’t completely in love with. After trying them on, I decided to keep them for now because they were able to match many other items in my wardrobe, and I can’t exactly afford to get rid of everything I own right now. Remember though, if you have to say, “I like this, but…” or, “This would look nice, if…” you probably need to get rid of it, unless it is a super easy thing to take care of. Lastly, in your needs to be fixed pile should be the clothes that have a small stain you need to try to remove, or those pants that need to be hemmed, etc. If you feel confident that you are actually going to follow through on these fixes, alterations, or DIY attempts, then go for it and keep them; but if you know you are never going to get around to taking care of things, into the donate pile they should go.

Do this sorting step with everything you have. At the end of sorting, hang up everything you are going to keep, and move the pile to be donated to a different room. If you feel so inclined, you can go through your accessories, including shoes, purses, jewelry, and belts at this point too. If you really want to go through everything, take care of your work out clothes or pjs now as well, and any other miscellaneous items. It should be noted that I am not counting accessories or work out gear toward my total item count, nor am I counting my t-shirts or pants I use for working at volunteer projects, moving, painting, etc. I also live in Hawaii and don’t have to worry about seasons, so if you have items you love that aren’t seasonal (including outerwear!) don’t get rid of them! This is where the “capsule” part of the wardrobe can come into play. You can either separate by season and then store those clothes elsewhere, or you can just move them to a separate part of your closet if you are low on storage space.

One more side note: If you are someone who has a really hard time parting with clothes (I know I am…) because you are afraid to get rid of something that you “might need if such-and-such occasion ever happened,” consider putting those clothes into storage for a month or two. If you go to retrieve something out of the box, you can keep it. But at the end of the time period you gave yourself, anything that hasn’t been touched should be donated. Chances are you’ll forget you even had it in the first place.

Find the missing pieces // Now that you have paired down your wardrobe, look at your closet! Doesn’t that feel so much better? If you don’t have too much hanging up still, don’t be alarmed! Based on the pieces you have kept–which should all be pieces that you LOVE and feel good in–you should be able to see your style start to emerge. Now you can begin to make a shopping list of pieces you need. Only left with one pair of pants? Need a new pair of classic black heels? Write down the items you need to fill holes, and then prioritize your needs so you know what you need to buy first. This will allow you to be able to shop sales when possible, and honestly makes shopping way less stressful. I went shopping today, and even though I saw some things I really loved, I kept my wardrobe in mind and knew if a particular item didn’t really fit in. I was able to be way more decisive, and my wallet was grateful too!

As for what ended up in my closet–I was so surprised to see that even though I love color, I naturally gravitate toward neutrals. The few pops of color in my closet were all in the same coral/pink shade range, except for a few dresses that I have which helped mix things up a little bit. When I saw my closet after it was all cleaned out, I decided that I want to primarily build my wardrobe using neutrals and spice things up with pops of color by accessorizing. I think this will allow my clothes to mix and match really easily and will give me way more combination options than if I have tons of colorful tops and bottoms. I still will have a few colorful pieces! But in the future when I am purchasing things I am going to be more aware of the color palette I’m going for.

There you have it! Sorry if that was kind of long winded, but I wanted to be thorough. What do you all think? Are you going to try to simplify things and revamp your wardrobe? Do you have any other tips I should know about? Let me know in the comments!

Don’t forget to be on the lookout next week for my follow up post where I’ll go in detail (with pictures!) about what my wardrobe looks like now that it has been made over.

I hope this was helpful. Have a great rest of your weekend, loves!

Fourth of July and other weekend randomness

We are only one week into July and I feel like I am already playing catch up! We were super busy this last week, but we still tried to make time for some fun stuff. Brinton and I both had to work all day on the 4th (which I was super bummed about because it was a beautiful day here in Hawaii!), but we were at least able to join our friends in the evening for some food and fireworks at Ala Moana.  We had such a great evening though that it didn’t really matter that we had both worked all day long!

Fourth of July CollageAnd let’s not forget the festive nails!

This nail design is all over Pinterest, so I decided to give it a try. I love how it turned out!

This nail design is all over Pinterest, so I decided to give it a try. I love how it turned out!

Confession: these were actually my Memorial Day nails. I did the same exact thing for the 4th, except I did my ring finger with red and blue polka dots instead of the stripes and heart. I don’t know why I didn’t take a picture!

The rest of the weekend we took to try and get stuff done around the house. On Saturday I very suddenly felt that we had a lot of stuff. Does anyone else know what I mean? We are working right now on sorting through all of that so we can get rid of the clutter and have everything organized for when baby comes. It’s definitely a process, but I really love that “ahh, it’s clean and everything has its place” feeling, ya know?

I’m probably going to do a more organized home post when we finish this project, but I did want to share one more photo. Brinton and I tackled cleaning out our closet yesterday, and I absolutely love the way that he has reorganized his ties.

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It should be noted that this boy has a ridiculous number of ties…this isn’t even all of them! Before his mission he was trying to build a collection of one tie for every day of the year…but luckily I think he has since given up on that. Zip ties are on the right, regular ties on the left.

Haha, I am sure he is going to think I am a complete weirdo for loving this so much that I shared it on my blog…but I think it’s brilliant. It looks so nice! I should have taken a before and after shot of the whole closet, but did I? Nope. Oh well. The closet got clean. That’s all that matters!

I’m hoping to stay more on top of things on the blog this week. I have most mornings off and I’m closing instead for the next few days, so hopefully that means I can get quite a bit done before work. And I promise, week 32 baby update and picture coming soon!

Linking up with Sami!

Sami's Shenanigans

Hassle Free Meal Planning using my Awesome New Menu Board

A few weeks ago while I was browsing on Pinterest, I saw a DIY that not only looked cute, but was functional and seemed to be something that would motivate me to meal plan more consistently. Thanks to The Creative Mama, I was inspired to create this menu board which I happen to be totally obsessed with now.

Awesome, right? Menu planning has been a breeze the last few weeks, and what’s even nicer is that I don’t dread doing it anymore. It’s not a tedious chore. All I have to do is flip through the entree cards and look to see what I already have in the house so I can spend as little money as possible on groceries. It took me less than 5 minutes to menu plan this morning. Not to mention, of course, that this looks pretty too! Here is a quick photo step by step on how to make one yourself:

Step 1: Get pretty paper

Step 2: Sand down wood letters, and paint any color. Use 2 to 3 coats to cover.

Step 3: While paint is drying on wood letters, cut paper into creative background pattern, and insert into frame. I kept the glass in on mine.

Step 4: Cut strips of paper to clothes pin size. I used hot glue to make sure they would stay securely on and not peel off.

Step 5: Label the clothespins with the days of the week. I chose to just use the first letter, and I just eyeballed the circles while cutting. I used just a glue stick to glue the letters on.

Step 6: Hot glue the clothespins on the frame. Leave enough space between them that the menu cards won’t overlap.

Step 7: Lay out the letters on the top of the frame however you want them. I traced on the back of the letters where I wanted to place the hot glue, and also lightly traced the frame where I wanted the letters to lay. This made it much easier for me to place it correctly the first time!

It’s coming together!

Step 8: Take some extra scrapbook paper and cut it out so that you can fold it over whatever you are using as the card holders. I used a Rice-a-Roni box cut in half.

Step 9: Glue the paper on the box. I felt that the inside needed to be pretty too, so I added paper inside as well.

Step 10: Add a decorative strip around the box, and glue it to the glass in the frame. (Note: I used hot glue for the at first, but I found that they just peeled off. My husband had some “Amazing Goop” in his stash of fix-it things, so I used that the second time. It has an extremely strong hold and has worked really well, but I do advise to use it at your own discretion. That stuff is lethal.)

Ta-da! Menu board is complete. All I did for the menu cards was brainstorm all of our favorite meals and added them to a word document I created so that each one would have a cute graphic behind it. There was probably an easier way, but this worked for me just as well.

There you have it! Simple enough, though it did take some time to get through all the steps. Right now I am using the top card holder for recently used meals and the bottom one for meals waiting to be used. Once I play around with it a little bit more, I may change that and just use the top one for side dishes and the bottom for entrees, but I am going to see how this works out for me first.

If any of you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment! Happy planning!

How to Get Organized

My husband and I recently moved into a new apartment. I was so excited at the opportunity to re-organize our life and revamp the way we operate in our home. We were living in a very, very tiny studio and moving to a somewhat larger, but still tiny one bedroom apartment, so I knew that even though I would have more space, I didn’t want that to mean that suddenly our stuff was going to be everywhere. I wanted things to be streamlined, and pretty, and I really wanted everything to have a place. It took longer than I wanted it to, but this weekend I finally got everything squared away. After everything was done, I sat down with a nice cold glass of lemonade (it’s always summer here in Hawaii!) and reflected upon my accomplishment.

Here are my 5 motivators/tips to getting organized:

1. Just Do It

Yes, I did just grab my inspiration from Nike. Sometimes when it comes to organizing, all it takes is just getting up and doing it. The longer I would sit there thinking about all of the things I had to organize, the less was happening, and the more I was feeling overwhelmed. When I finally just got up and started sorting through things, I realized it wasn’t as overwhelming as I was making it out to be in my head. I also realized I was actually enjoying everything finally getting put away. Step one: just stand up!

2. It really doesn’t take that long

When it comes down to it, I had my whole apartment organized in just a few hours (that includes being cleaned!). Now, that may sound like a long time, but think about how long it takes to clean up when everything piles up everywhere and things get out of control. You may even have to break it up into small organization projects room by room and tackle everything a little bit at a time, and that is perfectly fine! You’ll find that once you start, time flies by.

3. Don’t let yourself get distracted

This one is hard for me. I started my organization project in our bedroom. As I began sorting through everything and putting things in their “new homes,” I would take something into another room. Then, seeing something that needed to be put away in that room, I would start organizing that pile. I had to stop myself a few times (out loud, even) and go back to the one room I was supposed to be working on. It took a little bit of diligence, but once I was able to solely focus on the task at hand, it wasn’t long before I was completely finished organizing our bedroom. It was satisfying (and motivating!) to see one room 100% finished instead of three rooms partly finished. It helped to feel that I had really accomplished something, and it made moving on to the last two tasks/rooms much easier.

4. If it doesn’t have a home now, it’s never going to have a home

This is a sad but simple truth. If you put something in a non-specific area “to be dealt with later,” chances are it is just going to become a pile of clutter. I used to have a bad habit of making these kinds of piles around my house, and every designated cleaning day I would re-sort the pile…make it not so cluttered looking…maybe move it to another area…but I would never actually do anything with it. If something can’t be placed in a designated area now, it probably needs to go. Of course there are exceptions and situations where this wont apply, but overall, I feel like it is a good rule. It also leads to my last tip:

5. Some stuff just has to go

If you are undecided on where to put something ask yourself the following questions: Do I use this? Do I really like this? Can it go with other things that I’m having trouble finding a home for? If I get rid of this, will I even notice? Chances are, it is something that you can live without.  If you are really having trouble getting rid of it, I have heard other bloggers recommend making a “donation box” in your home. Put the item in question in the box and leave it for two weeks to a month. At the end of the month, donate the box. If throughout that month you either didn’t go back for anything in the box or didn’t even remember what was in there, it didn’t need to be taking up valuable space in your home. Parting with things is hard, but the clean organized feeling is SO worth it.

Well, there you have it. Cleaning and organizing can be challenging, but when it comes down to it, the feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction when everything is in its place is awesome. I have felt so much less stressed over the last few days as I look around at an organized apartment instead of seeing a big cluttery mess of things to do. I’m so glad I finally got it all done, and I hope these 5 things help some of you to get motivated to do it too!

Next time…how to keep things organized. Haha, that is the second half of the challenge!