Wednesday, July 25, 2012

blog love: kings & cosmics

I have a handful of blogs I read daily and one of the newer ones I've added to the lineup is too great not to share.  To say that Naomi has a way with words barely scrapes the surface.  Her posts are hilarious and relatable and her blog has quickly become a favorite.

What blogs are on your must-read list?

Friday, July 20, 2012

10 ways to be more productive

  1. Take five minutes to write out what you want to accomplish.  Allowing yourself to reflect on what it is you need to do for the day/week/month/party/whatever else you may be tackling and then jot it down will enable you to visualize the tasks at hand.  You'll also be able to see all of your "to do's" in one place, which should help you figure out things like the time needed to finish the list, which tasks can be grouped or completed at the same time and what you might need to complete the tasks.
  2. Prioritize. Related to the step above, rank the things you need to do in the order you want to accomplish them.  You can prioritize based on importance, time needed to complete each task or another measure.  Taking this step will enable you to finish the tasks you deem most critical first, and prevent you from half-completing several tasks.
  3. Set mini-goals and reward yourself with a break once you reach them. I find myself most productive when I identify goals I can accomplish every few hours and then reward myself with a small break.  I feel guilty taking breaks when I haven't accomplished something, which can sometimes result in the break feeling unsatisfying (and then me feeling like I need another break soon after).
  4. Know when to multi-task and when to be single-minded in your focus. There are some (more mindless or repetitive) projects I know I can tackle while talking on the phone, watching TV or riding in the car.  Others, require my undivided attention.  When I fail to focus on a project that needs my full concentration it ends up taking twice as long and the quality often suffers.  Know when you're dealing with a project that falls into this category, and find a time to tackle it when there are minimal distractions.  On the other hand, if there is an activity that requires minimal thought (for me folding laundry, cleaning the kitchen, tidying up around the house and working on some crafty projects fall into this category) save time and accomplish more by combining these with another activity that you want or need to do.
  5. Know thyself. Self-awareness brings endless benefits, some of which relate to productivity.  Knowing the work environment under which you thrive will help you be more intentional about creating an atmosphere conducive to productivity.  If you're a morning person, arrange your schedule so that you have the time and energy to work in the early hours.  If you find that quiet helps your efficiency, carve out a time and space to work with minimal noise and distraction around, or invest in some good earplugs.  
  6. Set a time limit on TV & Internet time (or tackle a project during commercials). I like technology as much as the next guy, but if I spend too much time reading blogs or watching Bachelorette re-runs, I usually wish I'd spent the time doing something more productive.  Instead of making me feel restricted, capping my Internet and TV time allows me more time to tackle creative projects and participate in activities that leave me feeling inspired and refreshed.  If you can't pull yourself away from TV, make tomorrow's lunch on the commercial breaks, dust between shows or fold laundry during an episode.
  7. Keep a pad of paper by your bed for late-night lists. Some of my best ideas come to me when I'm busy counting sheep.  I'd be up all night brainstorming and thinking about how to solve the most pressing problems in the world and my own life if it weren't for the notepad by my bed.  When brilliance strikes,  I jot down what I need to, and vow to pick up where I left off in the morning.  The notepad also works well for reminders.
  8. Respect your own time (and learn when to say no). While most of us don't have the luxury of choosing only those projects which thrill us to the core, we also don't have to say yes to every last thing we're asked to do.  I think women sometimes have a particularly hard time saying no when asked to donate time and energy to something, but all of us need to learn to value ourselves and our time enough to set reasonable boundaries on what we do with the time we have.  If you find your plate full of things you'd rather not be doing, identify which things you could say no to in the future, and think about what you could add to your day/week/month that you would really enjoy as a result.  If you can't say no to something, see if you can modify it in such a way that would make it a more satsifying and less time-intensive activity.
  9. Set reasonable expectations for yourself. For long-term productivity, it helps to set realistic expectations for what you can accomplish.  While you may be able to go full boar for a while, be kind to yourself and take steps to ensure you don't over-extending yourself.  Ultimately, avoiding burnouts will ensure greater productivity.  If you're finding it hard to determine realistic expectations for yourself, think about the load you'd expect a friend or co-worker to handle as a benchmark.  Remember to respect yourself as you would others.
  10. Work hard, play hard. When it's time to work, work in a smart and efficient way by following the advice above and your own tried and true methods. When it's time to play, fill your time with activities that move you, energize you, satisfy you and make you feel like you've really had a break away from work.  This balance will help you feel motivated for both work and play, ready to give your all in both environments. 
How do you stay productive?  What advice do you have for people looking to be more effective and efficient?

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


ingredients for a successful brunch:

red velvet pancakes
an extra-large dog bone
powdered sugar
fresh-squeezed orange juice
card table and extra seating brought in from the patio
growling tummies
something to celebrate

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

bbqs, strawberry lemonade, and a new home

We sure know how to pack a lot into July.  Dusty and I are mostly moved into our new place.  Two days after moving in, Joe and I put my small kitchen to the test making strawberry lemonade and veggie skewers.  At one point we had the juicer, grill, blender and trays for the grilled veggies out at the same time.  We brought our culinary creations to a family 4th of July celebration, where we spent the evening being chased by kids with bubbles (Joe) and winning impromptu hula hooping contests (Katie).  We may have also formed a Justice League when the glow bracelets came out.

What have you been up to so far this July?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


clockwise from top left: poolside x2, get-in-my-tummy tomatoes, darling Dusty, my sprawling rose bush/tree, a single dark pink rose, Joe building an IKEA etagere for my new place (I helped), bamboo contact paper, bar cart getting a facelift with the new contact paper.
A few of my favorite things as of late.  Nothing beats cooling off in the pool when temperatures have been above 100.  Move moving prep has been happening and the countdown has begun--2 days!  And my tree-like rosebush is sporting several pink flowers.  Amazing what a little water and love can do for a knockout rose plant.  I love how hardy they are, and how often they bloom.

Wishing you a happy fourth!
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