Clear Your Head

clearyourheadEver have one of those moments hours where there are so many thoughts running through your head? Yea, me too. This can be a debilitating experience…not sure what thought to tackle next…when is the project due…need to answer emails…return phone calls…finish to-do list. If I’m not careful…this process can quickly turn to stress and then a headache…not fun!

Last year I read Arianna Huffington’s book, Thrive, and it was eye opening.  The book is full of great information about work/life balance, getting enough sleep and why there is more to life than work.  In the book she also talks a lot about meditation.  The idea of meditation wasn’t new to me but I’d never really tried meditating.

I had plenty of excuses when I thought about meditating…I can’t sit still, I can’t quiet my mind, I can’t sit comfortably…I don’t know how to start.  So, I just didn’t do it.

Determined to try, earlier this year, I tried the app, Insight Timer, to help me meditate.  It’s a good app and has a lot of different meditators to practice with and learn from.  I would put in my earbuds and do my best to listen to the instructor and meditate. There’s one I particularly love which is called “Meditation on Gratitude” by Adam Dacey.  Adam does a great job leading this meditation and I really liked that I could focus on gratitude while meditating.

A month ago, I got a free trial of Headspace in my FabFitFun Box.  I LOVE this site so much and the meditations are amazing.  Plus, there’s a schedule to follow which really keeps me on track with meditating.  The schedule starts with 10 days of 10 minutes of mediating (we all have 10 minutes, right?).  Plus there are really fun short videos to help you learn how to meditate, including ways to clear your head and not feel guilty about thoughts entering your mind during mediation.  Andy leads the meditations every day and he’s so good…you need a great voice if you are going to lead meditations and his voice is amazing! I feel like Andy and I are friends and he really wants me to get really good at meditating…so I’m trying.

I’m on my 10th session and I feel like I am starting to really understand and get better at meditating…which is helping me clear my head daily.  Most importantly, it’s 10 minutes a day where I take time for myself to breathe deeply and take a digital break.  I read this article today about what technology is doing to our bodies…what are we doing people??

I hope if you have thought about meditating you will give Insight Timer or Headspace a try…guided meditations are really helpful.  Don’t beat yourself up if you can’t still your mind on the first few tries…it takes practice…but don’t give up.  Some days I knock it out of the park and really meditate and some days I can’t stop thinking about work or random ideas.  It’s ok…Andy says it’s ok to let the mind wander…just gently bring it back to the breath.

Have you tried meditation? Would love to hear about your experiences!

Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference

awbuI have been to many conferences over the years and some I liked and some were a waste of my time…time I can never get back!

The Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference is a conference I love to attend.  My dear friend, The Park Wife, created and organizes this conference every year.  This year will be my 3rd year to attend and I can hardly wait for August 28th to get here!

Not only are there great sessions on social media, blogging, writing and photography…but it’s a wonderful community of women (and men) who support each other.  The conference moves around the state of Arkansas and this year it’s in Hot Springs at the Arlington Hotel.

Blogging is not my full time focus but I do enjoy learning more about how to make my blog better and more influential. This conference helps me.  I manage social media for clients and I love getting in a room with other social media wizards and learning from them…you can never stop learning! This year there will be sessions on periscope and podcasting.

If you would like to attend a conference that is fun and filled with supportive, smart people and learn about blogging and social media…then the Arkansas Women Bloggers Conference is for you…AND there’s still time to register!

Did I mention that Georgia Pellegrini, Rhea Lana Riner and Lela Davidson will be speaking? It’s going to be a great conference.

My Obsession with Paper Planners

The Passion Planner

The Passion Planner

I love technology.  I’m an Apple disciple…pretty sure I have owned every iPhone, the first one is still my favorite.  Technology makes my life easier, helps me run a business and for the most part, it helps me stay sane.  However…I am a self professed paper nerd.

Can I tell you how happy paper makes me…stationery, note cards, business cards, journals…and planners.  You may recall that I love a handwritten note and feel that it is definitely a lost art…one that I know is making a comeback!

I use Sunrise and fantastical for my digital calendars but I still love writing down appointments in a paper planner.  I take the planner with me and I use a planner for…wait for it…planning!

In the past, I’ve used boring planners from an office store, because I thought those were the best planners for my job.  Last year, I discovered the Day Designer planner.  I really like this planner and used it for a year.  There were many details about this planner that I enjoyed using, like an area for daily gratitude, a to-do list next to my day and in the front of the planner is an area to write down dreams and plans for the year.  This is a great planner and it’s stylish.  However…for me, it is very bulky.

Last month I went on the ‘find a new planner’ quest.  I know…it’s May, not January but the Day Designer has different times of the year that they start and I got the Aug-Jul planner…so I had to decide to get another one or try something new.

passionplanner3

The Passion Planner

Enter the Passion Planner! This planner had everything I liked about my previous planner but it comes in two sizes and it’s more sophisticated looking…black leather vs gold polka dots. It also has a section in the front for detailing your passions and making plans to achieve your goals.  It has a week view instead of a day view, which was important to me, and it has a great space for doodling or making notes.  I LOVE this planner.  Plus…I could buy an undated planner which helped me in my mid-year need for a new planner.  There’s still a space for daily gratitude and a great to-do list. I can’t believe that after all these years, I have finally found the perfect planner for me.  {I even bought one for the Hubs}

If you are unhappy with your current planner or want to upgrade…I highly recommend checking out the Passion Planner.  They ship quickly too.

Do you have a favorite planner? Let me know in the comments!

 

What Makes My Life Easier

todolistLife is busy and hectic and we need things in our life that make it easier and less hectic.  Things like personal drivers and chefs! I wish.  No, I mean applications that keep us organized and on top of our tasks.  Isn’t that where the stress really starts to get out of control..when we lose track of an important document or we fail to meet a deadline because we weren’t all that organized?

I am always on the lookout for really great software and apps to help me.  Now that I am running a business, it’s more important than ever that I am on top of my stuff! Here are a few apps that make my life easier and if you haven’t tried them, I think you will really like them as well.

Evernote: You already know that I love Evernote…I wrote about it here.  I can’t stop singing its praises.  I take notes, create proposals, write content copy, brainstorm blog ideas and keep many lists in Evernote.  It’s wonderful.

Freshbooks: I could not run my business without Freshbooks…it’s amazing.  I am not accounting savvy…(I’m creative, I drive accountants crazy) but this makes me savvy! It tracks my expenses and revenue, creates the most beautiful invoices and even tracks my time on projects.  If you are running a biz or helping a non-profit, take a look at Freshbooks, it is super easy to use and affordable too.

Buffer: I’ve told you about Buffer before but let me say it again…it rocks! Not only is it the best social media management tool (in my opinion) out there but the Buffer team is amazing.  If you are not following their blog, start today.  Amazing, helpful information daily.

To-Do Lists: I know there are very fancy to-do list apps out there and I’ve tried teauxdeaux and trello but I wanted something simpler…a to-do list that was more like a paper list and that’s exactly what I got.  The lists pop down on my screen like post-it notes and I can check the box and it gets crossed off my list…so rewarding! (See the pic above)

Skitch: The sister to Evernote, I use Skitch every single day to take screen shots and annotate them for clients.  It’s a great tool if you need a crosshair shot or screen shot.  Skitch is an Evernote product so everything you create in Skitch goes directly to your Evernote account.  Easy, breezy!

These are just a few apps that are keeping me sane.  What apps do you use to stay organized?

My Life Runs on Evernote

evernoteAre you ever boggled by the amount of paper humans can produce? I am boggled every. single. day. I get paper from work, paper from my son’s school, paper from my 401k plan, paper from utility companies and bank statements.  Paper is out of control.  Since I have all this paper in my life, I need some way to manage it and store it.  While I am old enough to remember filing cabinets (just barely), I do not use them.  That’s when Evernote rushes in to save the day! I simply give it all to Evernote and it graciously keeps it all for me nice and neat.  Then, I recycle the paper and feel a whole lot better about the world…until the mail runs again.

I get many important papers from my son’s school and I want to have them close at hand when I need them.  Unfortunately, having them in the basket above my refrigerator doesn’t make sense when I’m not at home.  So, I scan them into my Evernote account and they are with me at all times.  His shot record, test scores, teacher syllabi…everything.  I have a notebook in Evernote called ‘Spencer’ and all that stuff goes in there.  Then…when I need to look up a teacher’s information, I just use the handy dandy search tool.  It’s pretty amazing.

It’s also a great web clipper tool.  I’ve mentioned before that I read many articles a day and when I find one that I want to hold on to for the long term, I just clip it into my Evernote account and it’s there for me whenever I need it.

I also use Evernote for work…when I am working on a document and need input or help from my team, I can share the document with those team members and we can work on the document together.  I keep my to-do lists in Evernote, my gratitude journal and even my Christmas card address list.  When I tell you my life runs on Evernote, I absolutely mean it.

To recap, here’s what Evernote can do for you:
  • Scan in any document, receipt, business card or slip of paper that you want to save.
  • Search tools to help you find any of the above that you scanned in to Evernote.
  • Web clipping tools to save articles or photos that you find on the internet. 
  • Ability to share documents with one person or a team of people.
  • Great for to-do lists, journaling, book or blog writing…so many things. 

Don’t use Evernote now but would like to? My friend Beth Stephens is the guru of Evernote and she recently wrote these great blog posts about becoming an Evernote Ninja.

Becoming an Evernote Ninja Part 1: An Evernote Primer

Becoming an Evernote Ninja Part 2: Adopting the Ways of the Cult

Becoming an Evernote Ninja Part 3: Enabling Super Ninja Powers