Productivity

  • How to Create The Perfect Morning Routine

    I consider waking up early a personal time investment in myself. Most of the time you’re really not getting up early for anyone but yourself. To enjoy some peace and serenity. To start your day off right. 

    While waking up early is still hard (it gets easier though, I promise) I know that it increased my productivity and my mood by 100%. I wanted to share 7 of my favorite tips to help you become a morning person and create a morning routine that works.

    Start Small

    Let’s face it – it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to get up at 5 am every day when you’re used to sleeping in until 8 am. Instead, start with small 5 minute increments. Wake up 5 minutes earlier every day for two weeks before kicking off your morning routine. 

    Let’s say you usually get up at 8 am to get dressed and rush to work. If you get up 5 minutes early (Day 1 – 7:55 am, Day 2 – 7:50 am, Day 3 – 7:45 am etc.)  you will have gained 70 minutes after just two weeks.

    It’s much easier to trick your body into waking up earlier if you start small. Your new wake up time after two weeks – 6:50 am.

    Create an evening routine 

    In order to have a successful morning routine you need to create an evening routine. For me that consists of the following:

    • Set up my next day in my bullet journal
    • Meal Plan and pack my lunch
    • Program my coffee machine 
    • Read a book or listen to an audio book on Audible to unwind so I can go to bed at a decent time

    Use a Wake Up Light Alarm

    There is nothing worse than waking up in darkness to the blaring sound of your alarm. The Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation wakes up your body naturally by simulating a gradual sunrise. It slowly brightens over a 30 min period BEFORE your alarm goes off.

    It truly makes the biggest difference waking up to a brightly lit room. 

    Exercise 

    Ok, before you skip this paragraph – hear me out. I’ve been there. I tried to get up early and go to the gym in the morning a few times but it just doesn’t work for me. Gym time is for the weekends and evenings when I have time and actually WANT to go. 

    We now have a “home gym” meaning that my boyfriend has some gym equipment in the garage and I have a small TV, a yoga mat and some weights in our spare bedroom. 

    For me, the key was to eliminate any unnecessary steps or obstacles that I needed to overcome before working out. Get up, get ready, get dressed, walk to the car, drive to the gym, park etc.

    Now I roll out of bed, turn on a workout or Yoga video on You Tube and go. 
    I realize that not everyone has the luxury of a spare bedroom or a garage but even just a video on your phone and enough space to stretch out on the floor is all you need.

    Have something to look forward to

    As lame as this may sound you need something to look forward to so you can get out of bed. For me that’s as simple as coffee. I love my coffee and frequently try different flavored coffee, type of creamers, flavor shots etc.

    I also have a few favorite mugs that I get excited about using. 
    Programming my coffee machine (get yourself a programmable coffee machine if you don’t have one already! It will change your life) and getting up to the smell of fresh coffee really motivates me (on most days anyway). 

    Other ideas that might motivate you to get out of bed:

    • listen to your favorite song or podcast
    • light your favorite scented candle
    • drink tea
    • watch the sunrise
    • wear a new outfit
    • read a few pages of a new book
    • meditate
    • gratitude journal
    • make a healthy breakfast

    Whatever it may be, take some time to sit down and reflect on what would get you out of bed. Try to come up with a few different things to look forward to so you can switch it up throughout the week.

    Get Organized

    I don’t know about you but being organized makes me feel happy and motivated.

    I go over my planner, my top 3 priorities for the day, make my bed and straighten up a few things around the house. 

    Pro Tip: Track your morning routine in your bullet journal or just track which days you managed to get up early. It will motivate you to continue. 

    Work on something you’re truly passionate about

    Since I started this blog it got a lot easier for me to get up early. Instead of dreading going to work first thing after I get up, I now have some time to work on something I’m truly passionate about and that I’m just doing for me.

    Believe it or not but as I’m writing this post it is currently  7:45 am 🙂
    My goal is to ultimately have a profitable online business. I firmly believe that very morning and every hour I spent working on this blog brings me closer to this goal. 

    Morning time is such a great time to be creative, productive and passionate for something you truly care about. Don’t let that morning energy go to waste!

    My Morning Routine 

    To give you an idea of how to implement these tips I put together my typical morning routine:

    • 5:30 AM – Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock turns on 
    • 6:00 AM – Get up and walk my pup
    • 6:15 AM – Exercise for 30 min
    • 6:45 AM – Shower and get dressed while my programmable coffee machine starts brewing my coffee
    • 7:15 AM – Organize my workspace and set my top 3 priorities for the day 
    • 7:30 AM – Drink coffee and work on my business for an hour
    • 8:30 AM – Leave for work

    Again, this routine will look different for everyone. This is what works for me. I still have days where I just can’t get up or when my schedule looks different.

    When you’re having a hard time getting up remember that creating a thoughtful and effective morning routine can truly change your habits and your life.

    Do you have a morning routine? Is there anything you would add? I would love to know more about your routine so please share your thoughts in the comments 🙂

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  • 5 Inspirational Books To Help You Grow In 2020

    “Read more” has been on my New Years Resolutions list FOREVER! Not because I don’t read but because I want to read even MORE. Every year I try to squeeze in more reading and constantly update my book wish list.

    Over the last two years, I was very focused on books that would help me with my personal development journey. I wanted to be inspired, change, learn and grow and I feel like I have found the perfect books to do just that. 

    Here are my top 5 motivational and inspirational personal growth books. I hope they will help you grow this year as much as they have helped me.


    Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies About Who You Are so You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be – Rachel Hollis


    A friend told me about Rachel’s #Last90Day Challenge last year and I loved it! Ramping up for 2019 by using the last 90 days of 2018 to set yourself up for success – uhm, yes, please. So when I heard about her new book I knew I had to read it.

    Girl, Wash Your Face is all about the lies we tell ourselves. Rachel uses examples from her own life to explain how she overcame those lies.

    My favorite lies she talks about in the book: “I’m a Terrible Writer” and “I’ll Start Tomorrow”. Some powerful stuff in there. 

    My favorite quote:

    “Stop thinking that if you only had the right job, the right man, the right house, the right car, the right whatever that your life will become what you’ve always dreamed of.” 


    Let that sink in for a moment and tell me you haven’t thought these exact thoughts before. I know I have plenty of times. Heck its why I started this blog in the first place.

     


    Unfu*k Yourself: Get Out of Your Head and into Your Life – Gary John Bishop


    This handbook to unfu*king yourself will show you how your negative self-talk keeps you from becoming the best version of yourself. You’re limiting your potential by holding yourself back. Everything you need is already within you.

    Gary John Bishop leads you through 7 assertions geared towards changing your mindset. With just over 200 pages this books is a great sweet and short read. 

    My favorite quotes: 

    “Remember, everything is solve-able, and if you can’t see a solution, it only means you haven’t worked it out yet.” 

     

    “The only difference between you and the person who’s living the life you want is that they’re doing it. They’ve built that life and they’re living it.”


    This is a great reminder for me when I look at other bloggers who are crazy successful. They’re living the life I want because they worked hard to get there. Anyone can accomplish anything they want to with hard work and persistence.


    The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun – Gretchen Rubin


    I was a little late in the game for this one (it’s been out for over 3 years) but this book is a true life changer. 

    I felt so relieved knowing that others feel the same way about wanting to be happier. Even if they seem to already have everything. Gretchen has a loving husband, two kids, work that she enjoys and overall a very fulfilling life. And yet, she dedicated one year of her life (12 chapters) to find more ways to be happier.

    My favorite quotes: 

    “I grasped two things: I wasn’t as happy as I could be, and my life wasn’t going to change unless I made it change.” 

    “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence.”


    If you want to be happier, I highly recommend this book! Not only will it challenge your beliefs about happiness but it will also show you many ways to improve and question your life and perspective.


    You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life – Jen Sincero


    This book was such an easy read! It felt like sitting down with your bestie at a coffee shop. It’s so entertaining and engaging. If you’ve been through some heavy personal development lately and are looking for something light-hearted, this is the book for you.

    The 27 (short!) chapters are full of inspiring stories and motivational advice. 

    My favorite quotes:

    “You are loved. Massively. Ferociously. Unconditionally. The Universe is totally freaking out about how awesome you are. It’s got you wrapped in a warm gorilla hug of adoration. It wants to give you everything you desire. It wants you to be happy. It wants you to see what it sees in you.”

    If you ever feel fear or self-doubt – just remember this one <3

    “You are responsible for what you say and do. You are not responsible for whether or not people freak out about it.”

    I worry about what other people think waaaay too much so reading this really helped me focus on myself. What people think about me is secondary.

     


    The Gift of Anger: And Other Lessons from My Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi – Arun Gandhi


    Okay, this book is a little different than the previous ones but I love it just the same. I had just gotten back from my India Trip when I saw this book on Audible.

    I get angry sometimes. We all do. Gandhi teaches his readers why anger can be a good thing and how to channel it.

    The author Arun Gandhi was only 12 when his parents sent him off to live with his grandfather, Mahatma Gandhi. Gandhi taught him to redirect his anger. Arun learned to use it for the greater good and to drive positive change. 

    He shares the 10 life lessons he learned during that time. They ultimately changed his life forever and they got me thinking as well.

    Arun’s and Mahatma Gandhi’s story really captured me. It’s a great reminder of the simple acts of kindness and compassion in this world.

    My favorite quotes: 

    “A ‘no’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.”

    This one is big for me. I have such a hard time saying no to anyone or anything, always wanting to please everyone.

    “Use your anger for good. Anger to people is like gas to the automobile – it fuels you to move forward and get to a better place. Without it, we would not be motivated to rise to a challenge. It is an energy that compels us to define what is just and unjust.” 


    So these are my 5 books and I can’t tell you how much they have helped me to grow and self reflect.


    I hope 2019 will be a year of growth and inspiration for you. Learn new things, read new books and be inspired by other people’s success. Stop holding yourself back. You deserve greatness.

    What was the last book you read? Do you have any other personal growth book recommendation?

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  • The Absolute Best Ways To Invest In Yourself This Year

    I’m turning 29 next month (yikes!). As I’m getting closer to hitting that big scary 30 number I’m having a lot of “what will I be doing with my life” and “what HAVE I been doing with my life” anxiety.

    I also started considering all the investments I have made in myself. Did I spend enough time and money on developing myself personally and professionally?

    Most people don’t invest in themselves nearly enough. There is a misconception that investment means wasting lots of money and involves a lot of risks. But the truth is:

    “If you want to do something with minimum risk and a guaranteed big return, invest in yourself.”


    I decided to list all the things I currently do to invest in myself. Hopefully, some of these will inspire you to start investing more in yourself as well. Time to upgrade your life!

    Personal Development Investments


    Waking Up Early – 40 hrs/month

    I’m currently getting up at 6 am during the week and about 7:30 am on the weekends. Waking up early allows me to get the most out of my day. I don’t have to worry about anyone but me.

    One thing that has made getting out of bed early a lot easier is my Wake-Up Light Alarm Clock with Sunrise Simulation. Waking up feels a lot more natural.

    Since starting this blog I get up early with the intention to really focus on blogging for a few hours. These early mornings are such an important investment in myself because they allow me to concentrate and use all that early morning energy for no one but myself. 

    Podcasts – 20 hrs/month

    Podcasts are the BEST thing ever! I can’t tell you how many invaluable life lessons I got from podcasts. And the best part – I can listen to podcasts while multitasking – when I clean, cook, work out, walk your dog etc. I compiled a list of my favorite podcasts here: The Best Personal Development Podcasts That Will Change Your Life

    Reading – 4 hrs/month

    Reading is a great tool to build my knowledge. I use the Google Calendar Goal feature to remind myself to read at least three times a week. Did you know that if you read only one hour per week (or 15 min 4 times a week) you can easily finish a book per month! My goal is to read at least 12 books every year.

    An alternative to books are audio books. I’ve been using Audible for the past 5 years and love the convenience of “reading” on the go. The first month is FREE.

    Planning – 10 hrs/month

    I love planning my weeks and months with my Me & My Big Ideas Planner. Sometimes I spent hours creating my priority list or filling in my weekly to do’s. Planning makes me happy 🙂

    My newest obsession – bullet journaling! I got started with Journal Me Organized – Practical and Creative Planning but I find so much inspiration on Pinterest, too. I can draw and plan in my bullet journal for hours!

    I also recently started using a blogging planner. Designer Blogs has an amazing blog planner that comes with 9 FREE pages. They also have an extension pack for all your unlimited planning needs.

    I now keep track of my daily to do’s (blog stats, social media, post planner, editorial calendar, Pinterest, SEO etc.), and my monthly and long-term blogging goals etc.

    Journaling – 5 hrs/month

    Journaling is a great way to organize my thoughts. I definitely journal a lot less than I used to but getting everything out on paper and seeing my struggles right there in front of me has something therapeutic.

    My journal also acts as my personal development guide. Looking back at my old journal entries, it blows my mind how much I have grown. Spending time journaling is definitely a huge investment in myself.

    In addition to my journal, I also like to write in my Instant Happy Journal – 365 Days of Inspiration, Gratitude, and Joy or my 52 Lists for Happiness: Weekly Journaling Inspiration for Positivity, Balance, and Joy book. Those are great for gratitude and happiness boosts.

    Professional Development Investments


    Online Courses and Webinars – about $200-300/year

    Learning new skills has been one of my top priorities for a while. A few years ago I felt very stuck and realized that I had stagnated and not learned any new skills in forever.

    Investing in educational opportunities is the key to growing and developing myself. Websites such as Skillshare or Udemy make it easy to get started with pretty much anything I want to learn. Most recently, I bought The Complete Digital Marketing Course on Udemy. It covers SEO, YouTube Marketing, Facebook Marketing, GoogleAdwords, Google Analytics and more! I learned so much from it and there are so many other classes I can’t wait to take.

    Reward yourself when you learn something new – varies

    When I finally launched my blog, I rewarded myself with a new desk so I could be more efficient while I was working on it. I also got myself a nice new planner and a social media book because I wanted to be up to speed on current trends. Getting yourself something nice as a motivation or reward for accomplishing something should definitely be considered an investment in yourself. 

    Bonus: Check off your bucket list items

    Make it a point to actively work on your bucket list each month. If your bucket list feels like a chore try creating a Reverse Bucket List instead.



    Health Investments


    Gym Membership – $22/month

    I joined my gym about a year ago when my friend convinced me that we would lose a bunch of weight if we would hold each other accountable for actually going. Fun fact- we both stopped going after a few months. I did finally start to go back about 6 months ago.

    Since I try to save money whenever I can, paying the monthly fee really motivates me to actively use my membership. I probably go to the gym 1-3 times per week (it all depends on my mood, motivation, how busy I am etc.), so I know the $22/month are definitely worth it.

    Yoga – 5 hrs/month

    Although, I don’t pay for yoga just making time to practice yoga is a GREAT investment in myself. If I do yoga regularly my back, shoulder and neck (courtesy of sitting in front of a computer all day) hurt way less. Investing time to do yoga makes all the difference for me and I make it a priority. 

    Chiropractor – $50/month

    Ok, honestly, my chiropractor changed my LIFE! I used to have headaches and migraines almost every week making it impossible for me to be productive or motivated. A few weeks after I started going to the chiropractor my headaches were pretty much gone. I sleep better, my posture is better – it’s one of the best investments ever. Do yourself a favor and get adjusted! 

    Massages – $68/ month (plus tip)

    Deciding to sign up for monthly massages has been the best decision of my life. Does anyone even know the meaning of “treating yourself” until they get a massage?

    I cherish this hour every month. It makes me feel so good knowing that I’m spending my hard earned money on something that is only for me.
     

    Cooking – 20 hrs/ week

    Investing my time cooking a healthy meal keeps me from eating out too much.  I know exactly which ingredients I used and I save money in the process. Cooking makes you appreciate your food in a whole different way.

    Final Thoughts

    Investing in yourself is so essential. If you don’t invest in yourself then who else will? And the best part – You will never go broke from investing in yourself <3

    I created a printable self-care checklist so you can track your progress. Feel free to cross out any self-care goals that don’t apply to you. You can add your own at the bottom of the page.

    What do you do to invest in yourself? Do you think self-investment is important?
     

     

     

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  • The Best Personal Development Podcasts That Will Change Your Life

    Personal Development is so important. I’m totally hooked and constantly try to find ways to improve myself. A lot of my progress over the last few years was only possible because of podcasts.

    I’ve been listening to podcasts for about 5 years now and I can’t tell you how many invaluable life lessons I got – for free! And all while doing things like driving, working out, walking my dog etc.! It makes me feel so motivated listening to others sharing their advice, perspective and stories.  

    In the spirit of my tag line “live life purposefully” I’m sharing 4 awesome podcasts that are about to change your life on the go.

    Natalie Bacon – Design Your Dream Life

    Natalie just launched this podcast recently. She is a successful six-figure blogger and her philosophy, in a nutshell, is that everything is possible. You limit yourself by believing that you’re not good enough or that you can’t possibly achieve something (such as starting your own business). Once you learn how to let go of that fear and self-doubt you’re unstoppable. Natalie also has amazing goal setting techniques and tips she shares frequently.

    Best episode: Design Your Dream Year From Your Future

    A perfect episode to set yourself up for success in the new year (and the year after and the year after that). She describes all the things that made her last year the best year yet. She is determined that this upcoming year will be even better. Learn how to make every year better than the last!

    Happier with Gretchen Rubin

    Ever since I read Gretchen Rubin’s book “The Happiness Project”, I felt so relieved that others feel the same way about wanting to be happier even if they seemingly already are. Gretchen has a loving husband, two kids, work that she enjoys and an overall fulfilling life. And yet, she dedicated one year of her life to find more ways to be happier.

    Her podcast has a similar approach. She and her sister talk about practical, manageable habits to create a little more happiness in everyone’s life.

    Best episode: Episode 84 – Try Doing something EVERY day (instead of only some days). Great for habit forming.

    Bonus: Happier has 2 minute episodes called “A Little Happier” that talk about a favorite quote or habit to implement in your life.

    A Cure For Feeling Annoyed About Clutter – Remember Love

    Now Is Now, And Now Is Already A Long Time Ago

    Sam Laura Brown – The Perfectionist Project. 

    The Perfectionism Project (formerly called The Smart Twenties Podcast) is a podcast sharing personal growth and life advice for perfectionists. Sam has dealt with a lot these past few years (fear of not being good enough, doubting herself, feeling like she doesn’t deserve success or respect – spoiler alert: she definitely does) but now runs a successful coaching business and blog.

    In her podcast she talks about life lessons and gives practical advice for helping “ambitious women get out of their own way” as she puts it. She has a lot of insight on mindset, goal setting, career, entrepreneurship and everything in between. 

    Best episode: My absolute favorite episode (and one of the reasons I started this blog) is Blogging, Self-Doubt + How to get started.

    It is loaded with practical advice and personal stories of her blogging journey. She talks about how self-doubt held her back from actively pursuing her dreams for years and how she finally overcame her limitations. 

    Bonus: Sam sets herself an “impossible goal” every year and I love that concept. Check it out in this episode: My Impossible Goal For 2018.

    Optimal Living Daily with Justin Malik

    Justin created Optimal Living Daily as his passion project. He curates and reads the best blog content he can find (with the author’s permission). It’s like an audio book for blogs with posts from authors like Steve Pavlina. There are a total of four other shows – Optimal Finance Daily, Optimal Health Daily, Optimal Business Daily, and Optimal Living Daily Relationships. All 5 have received over 50 million downloads combined!

    Best episodes:

    1088: How We Spend Our Days by Anthony Ongaro of Break The Twitch on Personal Development

    1031: One Daily Gratitude Ritual that Will Change the Way You Think by Marc Chernoff of Marc And Angel

    Bonus:

    512: Life Habits to Improve Your Writing by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist on Content Creation from Optimal Business Daily

    There you go – 4 of my favorite personal development podcasts. I learn and apply so much to my life every day from listening to these podcasts. What are your favorites?

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