Does your life have margin? (And what the heck is margin?)

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I’ve been reading about margin the past couple of years.

Anyone who follows Michael Hyatt will read about margin of some sort (and anyone who follows me will hear about Michael Hyatt occasionally). Michael’s a big advocate of creating space in your life for what truly matters, and I’ve been getting increasingly on board with that concept. You’ll see it sprinkled throughout To Well With You because it’s such an important theme here.

Two years ago, Michael had Greg McKeown as a guest on his podcast. Mr. McKeown (pronounced muh-kyoo-un) wrote my favorite book of 2015, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less. If you’ve been around me much – online or in person – you’ve heard me mention it several times. I tell everyone they should read it. (I’m annoying that way.)

In the disciplined pursuit of less, I’ve:

  • Learned to say NO to almost everything. (Jury’s still out on how well I’m doing there … it’s a journey, not a destination.) I wrote about the N word a couple of years ago. In fact, when you subscribe to this blog, you get a free PDF called “8 tips for saying no graciously.” I’m helping you practice what I preach!
  • Worked on getting my husband to say no more often (not to me, of course! 🙂 ).
  • Become single-minded in my pursuit of getting organized – in my office space, my home, my brain. Bruce is coming along on that journey with me, albeit a little less single-mindedly. 🙂  I’m creating more space for doing what’s truly important … essentialism.

This has been a fun(ish) journey, because a lot of it plays along with my natural bent toward “being organized.” I’ve been astounded, though, at how out-of-whack things have gotten. (It’s embarrassing, actually.)

So I figured it was time to get serious about it. I’m dedicating the entire year (if it takes that long) to making the spaces in my home, head and heart free of distracting clutter. Once I have more structured systems in place, I won’t spend half my time looking for items, stepping over things and being COMPLETELY STRESSED OUT about stuff whose main purpose is to serve me, not have me serve it!

https://momismore.com/SO … WHAT IS YOUR FORM OF LIFE CLUTTER?

I started To Well With You as a way to help others live their best lives, and sometimes that means being brutally honest about where I fall short.

I want this to be a safe place for you to come clean about what you need to work on, too.

Right now, I want you to pause long enough to be honest with yourself (and post a comment about it if you’re brave enough!). If you have enough margin in your life for what’s really, truly important, stop reading now. Go on, hop on over to Pinterest or Facebook and waste a couple of hours reading about cupcakes in a jar or commenting on your friends’ perfect children.

If not …

Here’s your homework assignment. It will take 10 minutes and 10 seconds (maybe longer if you have to spend extra time looking for a sticky note 🙂 ).

  1. Sit still and relax for five minutes. Just 5 stinkin’ minutes – you can do that. Close your eyes if you want to. Do nothing but RELAX YOUR MIND and BREATHE. Next …
  2. Spend five minutes thinking about ONE area of your life where you need to create margin. Do you need to declutter a physical space, take a couple of extracurricular activities off your schedule, stop watching so much TV so you can spend more time with your family, pause to write in a journal? You decide.
  3. Write it down (10 seconds). Also feel free to share it in the comments here or on the Facebook page. Here’s an example from my list of 2017 goals:


Next week we’re going to talk about ONE AREA you’ve decided to work on, and I’m going to talk about 10-minute microbursts of productivity. I’ll also tell you about the book I’m reading and share some other resources.

We have only so much time to live our best lives. Do you want to spend your years running around in stress mode every day, or do you want to get intentional about making a difference in the lives of your loved ones and others around you?

It’s up to you, my friend. Time to decide.

 

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‘To Well With You’ reader survey

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Hey, there!

It’s been a fun first week of 2017. I hope you’ve had success so far and are pursuing your dreams and goals with passion and gusto!

Would you do me a huge favor? It won’t take long. I’m trying to make sure you have your best year ever in 2017, with the help of To Well With You. I want to help you have what you need to be successful on your personal journey to well-being.

That might be physical fitness, financial freedom, relationship success, time management or any number (or combination) of things. Please take a couple of minutes to check a few boxes and let me know what you need from me. (You’re also welcome to suggest a topic that’s not listed.) And please share the link with a friend.

The survey is below. Thanks in advance for your feedback!

 

 

 

 

Create your own user feedback survey

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Enter to win: Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is

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The week after Christmas is typically a time when our thoughts turn from holiday excess (including all the food we indulged in for several weeks) to preparing for a new year and all the hope for change that it can bring.

(We won’t talk about the indulgences that may be to come on New Year’s Eve. Fortunately I don’t have to worry about parties and food on this occasion, as my head drops to the pillow long before the ball drops on Times Square.)

I, for one, am looking for a fresh start in some of the areas I struggle with, including letting stress trigger bad habits with food. Sometimes I let that derail my goals.

I’ll be spending this weekend formalizing and putting to paper some of the goals that have been swimming around in my head for the past few weeks. (Remember the “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever” goal-setting course that I told you about in early December? Well, it’s time for the rubber to meet the road!)

So … what about you?

If getting a handle on your weight issues is one of your goals for 2017, I have an offer for you.

Nettye Johnson, a wonderful woman I’ve been following for a year or two, has written a book, Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is.

Here’s a description:

In Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is, author Nettye Johnson shares spiritual truths and scientific principles to help you:

  • Put God first and grow closer to Him in the pursuit of health and wellness.
  • Right skewed relationships with food.
  • Embrace moderation and eliminate food guilt.
  • Create a personalized, effective, and livable food philosophy for healthy weight loss and maintenance.
  • Change your view of healthy disciplines from a challenge, battle, or struggle to a privilege, joy, a part of who you are, and a way to honor God.

As are many books about weight control and healthful living, this one is written by a person who’s been there.

Nettye knows.

And because Nettye has been victorious in this battle, she wants to help others achieve the peace that comes from eliminating guilt and remorse and get on with the business of health and honoring God in the process. A few weeks ago, she offered a buy-one-get-one-free opportunity.

So … thinking of you … I bought a copy of the book and got an extra.

And I’ve been waiting to read it.

I’ve been waiting for you, my friend. The next step is yours.

I’m giving away a FREE copy of Nettye’s book, Put Your Faith Where Your Fork Is, to one reader. Here’s how you can win:

  1. Commit to reading the book with me and discussing it a chapter at a time (12 chapters, 12 weeks).
  2. Fill out the short form below telling me why you’re making this commitment (and why I should give you a free book!).

That’s it.

It’s simple: Make a commitment, then tell me why.

You have until noon Central time Monday, Jan. 2, 2017. I’ll announce the winner that evening. And if you don’t win the free copy, you’re welcome to purchase one and let me know if you’re interested in starting a group discussion. (By the way, I am not an affiliate and get no compensation for promoting this book; I just think Nettye’s awesome and has really valuable things to tell us.)

Feel free to share this post with your friends, and ask them to enter to win the free copy of Nettye’s book. (Also, subscribing to To Well With You – separate from the giveaway – will ensure that they receive my updates by email.)

The winner and I will figure out the best way to go about discussing the chapters. If you’re local, we might meet each Saturday morning over coffee or tea. If you’re my long-distance friend, we can email or connect online. (We’ll figure it out.) And if we have enough interest for a group discussion, I might create a private Facebook group to do that.

TO ENTER, fill out the form below (you’ll have to scroll to see all the content). And thanks!

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I can’t wait to see what you have to say!

#FaithWhereForkIs

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Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup

Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup
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As I write this on Christmas morning, it’s warmish and humid in north-central Arkansas. And on Christmas Day, no one is thinking of big bowls of hearty soup, right?

But I made my mom’s Vegetable Beef Soup recipe many times over the summer, and it saved me from caving in to fast food or otherwise unhealthy food temptations. Maybe you’d like to have this one handy for the post-holiday hangover – something you can dump in a pot and forget for a while. Or hold onto the recipe for a busy workweek. (Tip: Cook the meat in advance and freeze it. The cooked soup freezes well, too.)

I first posted the recipe on my other blog, Suzy & Spice, but I had a request for it this morning and thought I’d share it here, too. After all, this is the space where you come for stuff that’s good for you and pleasant, amen?

As I wrote at Suzy & Spice last year:

One of the great things about my mom is that she has always gone out of her way to give her kids everything we needed and much of what we wanted (within reason). (I guess that’s a mom’s job, right?)

One of those ways is with food … 

So here’s the recipe from my mom, Dorothy (aka Dort), totally customizable to your and your family’s tastes. I originally cooked it on the stovetop like Mom does, but when I got my programmable slow cooker a couple of years ago, that was a game changer.

NOTE: I’m trying out a new recipe app today. Comments and questions welcome. (Tell me if this format works for you.)

Print Recipe
Dort’s Vegetable Beef Soup
My mom shows her love by feeding us. She has made this hearty and healthful vegetable beef soup for years, so I named it after her!
Course Main Dish, Soups
Prep Time 20-30 minutes
Cook Time 3-4 hours
Passive Time 3-4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish, Soups
Prep Time 20-30 minutes
Cook Time 3-4 hours
Passive Time 3-4 hours
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Crumble ground round in skillet. Add onion, and cook until meat is browned. Drain, then add garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  2. Transfer to large soup pot or slow cooker. Add tomato juice and vegetables.
  3. Cover and cook 3-4 hours on low heat if using stovetop, or 7-8 hours on low setting in slow cooker, stirring occasionally.
Recipe Notes

OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:

  • Bag of mixed vegetables instead of bag of corn.
  • Green beans.
  • Red potatoes (cubed) or new potatoes (halved).
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Want to make meaningful changes in 2017?

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I wrote this to my email subscribers this morning before I left for work, and I thought I should share it here, too. (In fact, I thought it was so important that I just couldn’t go to work without pausing to write it. I was almost late, y’all!If you want to be sure you don’t miss any important announcements (or blog posts), please subscribe by filling out your name and email address in the “Subscribe to” box. (On a computer, it’s at the top right; on mobile, it’s probably below this post.)

________________________________________________

Just a quick heads-up this morning, my friends.

We’ve been talking about goals for the past few weeks, right?

OK, I’ve been talking about goals, and you’ve been listening.

You’ve been listening, right?

So here’s the deal.

Michael Hyatt’s course “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever” is the best way I’ve found to set goals and actually achieve them.

The course, available now, is something you want to consider if you’ve ever wanted to make a MEANINGFUL change in how you go about living your life.

It’s an online course that takes just 5 days to complete (yes, only five 45-minute sessions). It includes videos and a downloadable workbook and action plan to guide you.

If you’re still not convinced that Michael Hyatt totally rocks the goal setting (and achieving) arena, sign up for one of his FREE webinars. It will be worth your time – I promise. Or listen to this special edition of his podcast where Michael and COO Megan Hyatt Miller (his daughter) discuss The Top 10 Mistakes Derailing Your Goals.

I have to be honest here: I did some serious soul searching about sending this email.

Why? If you buy Michael’s “Best Year Ever” course, I get a commission.

So I felt like it would be 100 percent selfish of me to tell you about it and persuade you to sign up. I literally lost sleep over it last night.

Then I had another chat with myself. If I kept this information to myself, then I truly would be 100 percent selfish. (And I should have sent this email 2 days ago, when the course first opened.)

Yes, the course will cost you some bucks (but there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee). And, yes, I’ll profit from that.

BUT … my goal with To Well With You, in starting the website last year, in getting a coaching certification (two, actually), is to help you craft the life that God intended for you to live.

To live your life with MEANING, PURPOSE and DIRECTION.

Jesus is my compass. Yours may be something else. But God created you with a plan and a purpose.

If your life is a mess, even just a little bit, it’s time to get some clarity and start sorting it out. Set some goals (notice I didn’t say New Year’s resolutions).

Take the course (EARLY-BIRD PRICING ENDS TONIGHT) … or at least start with the free webinar.

We’re all in this together, my friends.

As the saying goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.

Let’s lift each other up.

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What is your ‘life score’?

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michael-hyatt-quote-progress-only-starts-when-you-get-clear-on-where-you-are-right-nowDo you sometimes have trouble seeing the forest for the trees?

I seem to be in that state of mind a lot more often than I’d like.

I’ve set many goals over the years (physical, spiritual, financial, business and otherwise), but sometimes I get so caught up in the overwhelm of life that I have trouble moving forward.

Sometimes I need help to gain clarity on where I stand so I can get to where I want to go.

Most of life is a journey, not a destination, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t set goals, work toward outcomes and assess our progress along the way. (That’s the journey.)

Progress, not perfection, is a phrase I’ve had to cling to when I catch myself falling back into my perfectionistic tendencies.

For nearly two years, Michael Hyatt, his team and their resources have helped me have more clarity as I work toward a more effective, confident version of myself. (I want to use my own little corner of the internet – here at To Well With You – to help you on the journey toward being the person God intends for you to be, as well.)

As Michael says, “What you don’t measure, you can’t improve.”

If you’re not already in the habit of assessing where you are, Michael’s free LifeScore Assessment will help you get started. It’s a measure of 10 interconnected areas of your life.

I just took the assessment and scored 70.

This simple tool, where I was asked to rank myself on a scale of 1-4 in 10 categories, pointed out areas where I’m doing great and areas I might need to put some more thought and time into developing (such as physical health and finances).

The results were very encouraging, because they gave me a base from which to work.

I’d love it if you’d take this quick assessment and share your results and any thoughts with me (either in the comment section of this post, or in private by emailing me).

If you’re honest with your self-assessment, you might just be pleasantly surprised at where you are, or maybe you’ll decide to reach out for more tools (accountability buddy, perhaps?) to nudge you toward making some needed changes.

We’re just four weeks (FOUR WEEKS!) from a new year, a time when many people like to start fresh and move with greater focus toward self-improvement.

Personally, I look forward to 2017 as a year to #focus and #bebrave.

What are you looking forward to in 2017 – or for the next four weeks? If you need some ideas, take the assessment and share your thoughts.

And, as always,

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Letter from my dad, 1989

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dadquote1989I’m feeling a little sentimental as I write this tonight, so instead of issuing some goal-setting challenge as we prepare for the new year or bragging about how I actually lost weight over the Thanksgiving weekend (trust me, it had been going the other way for several weeks, so I was due for some good news), I thought I’d share something incredibly special to me.

letterfromdad1989_pg1

letterfromdad1989_pg2Here’s what I wrote a few minutes ago in a “get organized”-type private Facebook group I’m a part of:

“This is what happens when you start mining through the detritus of your life. You find diamonds under all that dirt.

Thing 1: I found this letter today while clearing out old file boxes. My dad wrote it in 1989, around the time I graduated from college and was preparing to spend 2 months as a summer missionary in Guatemala. He didn’t finish the letter before I graduated, and he wrote on it some more while I was in Guatemala. We found the letter – still attached to the legal pad – after he died (Dec. 23, 1997), and then it was lost again in a bunch of file boxes. Until today.

Thing 2: A few days ago in a short burst of decluttering, I found a poem Dad wrote me for my birthday many years ago. I may post it tomorrow (my birthday) on my blog or my social media (we’ll see).

Thing 3 (but really it is the MAIN thing): God is GOOD, and he’s good ALL THE TIME. This has been a stressful year for my family, with accidents, illness, financial hardship and [other things]. My dad wrote a TON of stuff (I got my love of reading and writing from him), but these two gems were written specially for me. They give me such a feeling of being loved – by my earthly dad and my heavenly dad. If you’ve kept reading this far 🙂 thank you, and I hope it has inspired you to #bebrave and keep digging!”

So … normally I’d try to end this with some type of life lesson or challenge, but I’m going to let you come up with your own take-away. We all know we should embrace our loved ones more often and tell them how we feel. And, as we’ve just come off of Thanksgiving, we’ve read all the “I’m grateful for” posts – and that’s wonderful. (I even have a “gratitude partner,” and we email each other a list every day.)

But tonight I’m letting you enjoy the rest of your weekend guilt-free and full of my gratitude that you’re a reader here, whether regularly or sporadically. Until next time …

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Finish strong this year and get a head start on 2017

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nietzsche-claireequote2016 has been a year of challenges for my family.

Without boring you with the details, I’ll just say that, if Nietzsche and Ms. Clairee were right, I should be able to bench-press a couple of tons by now.

It’s been a tough few months.

A year ago, I set out to make 2016 my best year ever. Did I?

I’m still working on it. (I have a few weeks to go, though. Don’t write me off just yet!)

The good news? I can make a fresh start any time I want. I got off track on some of the goals I set, but I’ve decided that I’m not going to waste the last few weeks of the year in disappointment and regret. I’m using the next 40 days to:

  • Review where I am right now (the good and the not so good, the wins and the losses).
  • Refresh my commitment to those areas where I drifted off course.
  • Focus on what’s truly important.
  • Set myself up for a phenomenal 2017.
  • Finish the year STRONG!

When I set my 2016 goals a year ago (personal, professional, physical, financial and spiritual), I had significant help. I’ve been following Michael Hyatt for about a year and a half, ever since a friend from church recommended him. Since then, I’ve been somewhat of a Michael Hyatt evangelist.

Why? Because every piece of his content I’ve consumed (blog posts, podcast episodes, online courses, his Platform University and his books – most recently Living Forward) is topnotch. He embodies quality, integrity and commitment – values that draw me to him as a person and a brand. He helps me see the positive side of … well, just about everything. And he has given me some of the most meaningful phrases I use to motivate myself. (My favorite? Remember Your Why.)

So, how did Michael Hyatt help me set goals for 2016?

Among other things, it was his course called “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever.” The course included a workbook and video instruction from Michael. He helps you lay out a plan for visualizing where you want to be and how to get there.

I’ll tell you more about that later, because the 2017 version of “Best Year Ever” is coming soon. But first I want to let you know about a FREE ebook that is available to you starting tomorrow, Nov. 21. (Don’t worry; I’ll email you a link tomorrow – to be sure you get the link, provide your name and email address in the turquoise and gray “Subscribe to” form on this page.)

The book is called Achieve What Matters in 2017: 8 Strategies Super-Successful People are Using Now to Accomplish More Next Year.

You’ll recognize the names of a lot of the people Michael interviewed for the book: Dave Ramsey, Lysa TerKeurst, John Maxwell, Andy Stanley, Tony Robbins, Lewis Howes and many more. These high achievers shared their strategies for setting up the new year for success.

I got a preview copy of the book and read it over the weekend. It’s pretty good, my friends! This book will prime you for your “Best Year Ever” and whet your appetite for what the course will help you accomplish.

TOMORROW: Download the ebook (when you get my email), and get ready to hear more from me in the days to come about “5 Days to Your Best Year Ever.”

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3 tools to help you find your purpose

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hamlet quotes shakespeareWelcome to a new week! It’s been a challenging one in my family and circle of loved ones – including an epic ER visit (nine hours), multiple illnesses, physical therapy and two funerals – but we have survived and it’s a brand new day.

Before our ER visit with Mom, I had started writing a post with the famous Nietzsche quote “That which does not kill us makes us stronger,” but I decided to move in a different direction with today’s post. (I’ll still get to that one – because I truly believe adversity makes us stronger and allows us to help others through what we’ve learned – but not today.)

Last week we talked about apps that help us find margin in our lives. This week I’d like to share some less-tangible (but arguably more important) applications to move us along on the journey to well-being. These are things that are going to require you to think about what you want out of life, so warm up your brain.

The first one is a book, and I’ve talked about it before, but it bears repeating because it’s the best nonfiction book I read in 2015. Then a short video from a pastor with a different perspective on volunteering. And, third, a post from my favorite “virtual mentor,” Michael Hyatt, whom I’ve written about before.

Here are your three thought-provoking applications for this week:

essentialism_cover

  • Boil everything down to essential vs. nonessential. I’ve mentioned a particular book several times on my two blogs: Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown (the best nonfiction book I read in 2015). I learned of Mr. McKeown on Michael Hyatt’s podcast, then I bought his book and devoured it. He gives a formula for how he decides what’s essential and what isn’t in his own life. I also wrote a post called “The art of saying no” (on my other blog), which wasn’t a direct result of the book but has the same goal: margin. Subscribers to To Well With You get the free PDF “8 tips for saying no graciously” as my thank you gift. (That PDF is a modified version of the one that accompanies my “saying no” post.)

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As you serve Him, you’re likely to find the greatest work God is doing is not through you, but it’s in you.” – Cory Lebovitz

  • Why is volunteering important, and what is its purpose in a Christian’s life? A pastor named Cory Lebovitz. followed me on Twitter last month, and I followed him back after viewing his recent Tweets and his website (I don’t follow back without checking out someone’s posts). Today I viewed his 3-minute video on volunteering, and it made me stop and think about why I volunteer and what it means. I hope this gives you something to ponder.

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Few things in life are more rewarding than marketable work fueled by passion and competence.” – Michael Hyatt

  • How to find satisfaction in your work. Pastor Cory’s video addresses volunteer work, and Michael Hyatt’s post is about finding meaning and fulfillment in the paid work you do. I’ve followed Michael for about a year and a half, and I’m so grateful to my friend Rusty for recommending that I check out his site. Michael has resources, wisdom and insight on so many topics, and I find myself seeking info from him on the regular. I subscribe to his blog and his podcast, I’ve read some of his books (still making my way through the list) and I’ve taken a few of his online courses. (More on that in a future post.) This week, you need to read his post on “The 3 Components of Job Satisfaction.” He has a podcast episode on this topic, too, and it goes into more depth than the blog post. It’s called “How to Discern Your Calling.” (It’s 36 minutes long.)

Your turn: Which of these three areas do you need to work on this week? Share with us in the comments, then schedule some dedicated time to think about it, even if it’s for just 15 minutes.

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Time to get organized – let’s do it together

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Time to get organized – let's do it together
This gives me the illusion of being organized. The blank grid in the No. 1 position means I finished something!

I used to think I was organized.

People would say to me things like, “You’re so organized.”

Proof, right?

Ha!

That was before I was juggling a full-time job, two blogs, freelance work, several social media accounts, two dogs, a husband with a chronic illness (and recent surgery for a fractured collarbone – no relation to the illness), laundry, dishes, lawn mowing, household repairs, budget maintenance (ha!), piles of paper, digital to-do lists, electronic calendars …

OK, OK, you get it.

You get it, because your list is as long as mine, if not longer. (And, trust me, that paragraph contains just a fraction of the balls I’m juggling these days.)

But pretending to be organized, and giving others the impression I’m organized, is not the same thing as actually being organized.

WHY DOES IT MATTER?

What’s the purpose of “being organized,” anyway? For me, as I assume is the case for you, it’s so that I can have a bit of “margin” in my life.

Margin. Space between all the obligations, commitments, buzzers, alarms, demands, dog barks, appointments, meetings …

Margin allows us to spend more time with loved ones, relax once in a while, have a measure of control over our schedules.

So … it’s time to do something about it.

To get serious.

I’ve been researching productivity and timesaving tools this year. I’m really good at research. (If you call reading and half-hearted implementation good.)

So I’m going to start testing – in earnest – some of those tools, tips, tricks and time-honored habits.

For each one of the things I’ve downloaded already, I’m going to keep using it (more regularly, in a lot of cases) until I’m convinced it’s either a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. And I’ll share with you the results – the good, the bad and the ugly.

I’ll do the detective work for you.

I may download more tools, but not until I’m convinced that what I already have isn’t going to work well and get me (and you) farther down the road to margin.

If you’d like to join me on this journey, subscribe (see box at upper right if you’re on a computer and at the bottom of the page if you’re on a mobile device) and you’ll get to help me decide what works and what doesn’t. We’ll figure it out together. Subscribers not only get a notification every time I post here, they get content that I don’t always include on the blog. (Private tips via email.) That may be just a quick heads-up about something I’ve learned that week or a timely notification about something that’s coming up.

WHAT ALREADY WORKS

I already have a few tools I use, love, and love recommending. Here are three you should check out:

  • For keeping track of practically everything: Evernote. It allows you to dump everything in and forget about it, because there are so many ways to find it later. (The beauty of Evernote is in its tagging system.) I keep all kinds of notes in it: articles saved from the internet, to-do lists, shopping lists, blog ideas, freelance tips … I even created my own calendar from scratch when I couldn’t find an acceptable calendar tool to integrate into other apps and sync across all my devices. Jury’s still out on my calendar, and we’ll explore that later, but here’s a screen shot of the rudimentary one I made a few weeks ago (I didn’t make links from any of the calendar items, but you can totally do that – make a link from a piece of text in Evernote to another item saved in Evernote, sort of like creating your own index). The free version is awesome, but the paid versions have features such as sharing. I created a shared notebook in my premium version with a shopping/to-do list that my husband can access (and edit) in his free account. Sweet! Free for Basic, plus three paid tiers – Plus, Premium and Business – that you can pay for monthly or annually.

organized productivity apps

  • For tracking habits you want to establish (or break): the Way of Life app. It’s the best habit tracker I’ve tried, and it’s easy to keep it up to date. It’s customizable (you get three habits, or “journals,” in the free version and unlimited in the paid version). In the screen shot below, you can see that I didn’t do yoga or strength training on any of the seven days pictured; I shredded junk mail every day except Tuesday (Tuesday is in red for No, and the other days are green for Yes); I ran only one 🙁 of my intended five days that week (the two light gray days are when I didn’t intend to run, so they don’t count as No – they count as Skipped); and I flossed five out of seven days. My longest streak is in flossing, and on those streaks I get a sweet little celebratory sound and a dot in the middle of the day tracked. (A few weeks ago, I told my hygienist I had flossed more in the previous month than I ever had. She was impressed and wanted to know more about the app!) Free for three journals, $4.99 for unlimited.

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  • For drowning out distracting sounds: the White Noise app. I’m an extremely light sleeper. My dad once commented to my mom, “She could hear a mouse pee on a cotton ball.” Noise-canceling devices have been my friends since my first job out of college: at a daily newspaper at which I worked until 2 a.m., I never – and I mean never – got enough sleep during those newspaper years. (Did I mention I’m also a “morning person”?) With that first job, I bought a floor fan and kept it turned on the highest setting next to my bed. Eventually I bought a little fan to take with me when I travel. I had a good one until a couple of years ago, when it wore out and I got one that is the wimpiest excuse for white noise that I’ve ever (not) heard. So when Michael Hyatt gave me the idea for White Noise (he’s also where I got the idea for Way of Life, and he’s an Evernote fanatic), I jumped on it. I use White Noise when I travel, instead of having to pack a fan in my luggage, and also when I’m at home trying to concentrate and there’s some distraction (such as two barking dogs or Bruce eating crunchy food 🙂 ). White Noise is a lifesaver, my friends. Free, with upgrades that I don’t use or know much about.

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Now it’s your turn. Please answer one or both of these questions:

1) Have you found a tool, tip, app or habit that makes your life better, even just a little bit? If so, please share it with the rest of us in the comments. We want to know! 2) Do you have a problem or dilemma that an app or a life hack – or maybe just a little info – could solve? Tell us what it is, and I’ll do the detective work to help you solve it.

NEXT UP: I have more tips for saving time, being more productive and having a better life (margin) – and one or two of them may surprise you.

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