habits

3 simple Ways To Stay on Task at Work

**Thank you to Alice from Nuggetlands for Guest-Posting Today**

Ever since I went back to work full time in December, I have been struggling to stay focused and on task. I work in an open office environment so there are constantly a lot of shiny objects for me to be distracted by. Not to mention the never-ending notifications of breaking news, email or text messages. It’s been six months in this new environment and I think I’ve finally found my stride with the help of some simple and purposeful ways to keep my focus and stay on task.  After all, I feel much more productive and way less stressed when I have my to-do list managed.  

Whether you work at home, away from or stay home with your kids these simple tips will help you stay focused on the task at hand.

3 Simple Tips For How To Stay On Task at Work

1.   Turn off your notifications

 

Minimizing distractions is the first step. It’s difficult to minimize distractions visually in an open office, besides putting my headphones on – the universal sign for “don’t bother me” in an open concept – there isn’t much more I can control. What I can control are my digital distractions. Notifications from Instagram. Email. Text. HuffPost. Apple Watch. The list goes on and on.

 

When it’s time to focus and get to work, I put my phone in Do Not Disturb mode. I have an iPhone so it’s possible to switch this setting on but still get notifications and calls from my daughter’s school or our nanny.

 

I also do the same with my laptop. This simple act helps me stay focused on the things I need to get done without stopping to look at any new emails or Slack notifications that come it.

2.  Close your tabs.

 

I’ll admit it, I have a problem with my Chrome tabs. I keep windows open hoping that I’ll keep projects and items that I need to get to the top of mind. When in actuality, it creates more distractions that it’s worth. It’s visually distracting and a constant reminder of things that I could/should/might have to do, increasing my stress level.

 

Now I bookmark the tabs with projects I need to get to and add those items to my good old fashioned to-do list in my notebook. I have started to use Evernote, cause that’s what all the young cool kids do that I work with, but I still like the act of writing things down and crossing them off a list. It makes me feel accomplished.

3.  Focus Keeper

This is an app that I downloaded on my phone and it’s been REALLY useful in helping me stay focused. It counts down from 25 minutes. Studies have shown that this is a more effective way of using a timer, rather than counting up. Once you have hit that 25-minute mark, it gives you a short 5-minute break. That’s when I can step away from my computer, check in on social media, use the restroom, whatever it is to give my brain a break so that I’m back and ready for the next 25 minutes.

 

Since I’m such a planner, I like to map out how I’m going to use each time block during the day, especially if I have meetings and client calls to work around. My first block is for checking in on all my clients each morning. Then I prioritize my to-do list for the day and make sure I use some of the time blocks to do email and my Asana tasks.

 

Try These Simple Tips to Be More Productive

This isn’t a perfect system but it’s better than what I was doing before. I’ve recognized my need for some structure and having the accountability of the timer, to-do lists, and little distractions, it’s made me far more productive and WAY less stressed out. At least until the next client emergency…#agencylife.

 

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You might also like –
Simple Ways To Be On Your Phone Less
Life Changing Morning Routine
10 Simple Life-Changing Habits

 

Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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10 Simple Habits That Will Improve Your Life Now

We are creatures of habit.  We like routine.  Our world has a routine.  The sun comes up in the morning and sets at night.  Our weeks follow a 7-day cycle.
I spent years teaching first-grade students and at the beginning of every year, I spent time establishing daily routines and habits, practicing what they look like and helping them to commit them to memory.  Why? When the kids knew the routine, less time was wasted which left more time for learning.

Habits Help Us Use Our Time Wisely

When you know what to expect with a routine, you can make time to do what matters to you.  There’s a lot in our life that is out of our control.  Routines provide security and steadiness.
You won’t have to stop and think about what to do next, you will just know. Routines help us be more efficient and take back precious minutes of our lives.

What is a habit?

Google defines a habit as a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up. How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.  So, what are some simple tendencies or practices that can make a positive impact on your life?  Let’s take a look at 10 daily habits that will improve your life right now.

 

10 Daily Habits That Improve Your Life Now

 

Get Up At a Set Time every day

Our bodies rely on cues including sleep and wake cycles to function optimally (read more here).  Although, it doesn’t seem important getting up at the same time each day will help your body to recognize when to wake and sleep.

You might even find after establishing a new wake time and doing it consistently that your body will naturally wake up at that time without the use of an alarm clock.  To read more about establishing an early morning routine, read here.

Create a Daily Meditation Time

Starting the day with some time meditation (I call it quiet time) is important.  For me, that means spending time writing in my Simple Purposeful Living daily journal and reading the bible.  I share more about my quiet time/meditation time in this post.  
Spending time reflecting, cultivating gratitude and processing what’s on tap for the day will help you step into the day with purpose and intention.

Make Your Bed

Retired Admiral William McRaven shared in a commencement speech the importance of making your bed every day.  “If you want to make a difference in the world, start by making your bed.”  His premise is that if you take care of the little things, you will take care of the big things.
The good news is if you have not made your bed previously, you can adopt this habit.  Not only, will it set your tone for the day?  It will also lead to reduced stress levels with decreased visual clutter leading to less mental clutter.   Adopting this simple habit will also help you confidently add other simple habits to your daily routine.

Get Ready for the Day

 
After I make my bed, I take about 10 minutes and wash my face, do my hair, sometimes my makeup and get ready for the day!  Then I get dressed even if its just to change into my gym clothes.  I find that if I stay in my pajamas I just feel cruddy later in the day.  Getting dressed and ready for the day sets the tone and helps you feel ready to be productive. 

Unload the Dishwasher

 
Get into the habit of running the dishwasher after dinner and then you can unload the dishwasher while your coffee is brewing.   Better yet, if your kids are old enough, they can take on this daily chore.  Setting a time to run the dishwasher and unload it ensures it goes done on a regular basis.
Unloading the dishwasher in the morning enables you to load dishes as you go throughout the day freeing up physical clutter on your kitchen counters and keeping your kitchen tidier.
 

Do 1 Load of Laundry Per Day

 
Of all the chores, laundry might be the most loathed!  It never ends and it can quickly pile up if not attended to.  So, do a load of laundry every single day.  Modern laundry machines can detect how much water to use so you aren’t wasting water.  Folding just one load of laundry doesn’t feel as painful.  We have made it a habit for the kids to grab their folded laundry and put it away as part of their bedtime routine.

Create a To Do List for Tomorrow

Before the day is over, make a quick to do list.  I try to keep it under 10 items and preferably 5-7 things.  I also check the calendar so I can mentally prepare and check my meal planner so I know what’s for dinner. It helps to wake up the next morning with a purpose and a plan.  All that to say, some days don’t go as planned so I can add anything I didn’t get done today to the to-do list for tomorrow.

Create Opportunities to Be Offline

Whether it’s a family dinner around the table, reading a book or catching a workout, it’s a good habit to get into to spend some daily time offline.  If you struggle to stay offline, read this article on simple ways to spend less time on your phone.

Daily House Tidy

 
At the end of every day do a quick sweep of the house.  Grab a laundry basket and pick up items that go to a different floor.  Don’t do this task alone.  Ask for help from your family.
Set a 5-minute timer and have kids race the time to put away all the toys, put the pillows back on the couch and do a quick vacuum.  Without the visual clutter, it’s easier to de-stress and relax after the kids go to bed.  I also love walking downstairs in the morning to a tidy space.
 

Establish a Bedtime Routine 

Every night, we go upstairs as a family for our bedtime routine.  The kids put away their clean clothes, brush their teeth, throw their dirty clothes directly into the washer for tomorrow’s 1 load of laundry.  Then, they get pajamas on before we pray as a family before reading a few books and kissing them good night.
Just like it’s important for our body’s cues to get up at the same time, it’s important that we go to sleep on time and get enough sleep.  Many people are chronically sleep-deprived.  The biggest culprit is late-night phone usage.  Try plugging in your phone and reading before bed.
On average kids need 10-13 hours of sleep.  Adults need between 7-8 hours of sleep so depending on what time you need to wake-up, subtract back to find out your bedtime.

Simple Habits Make Big Impact

Adopting these simple but powerful habits into your life can help you feel better and be more productive. Successful people are very purposeful about their lives and how they live them.  They know habits that add value to their life are important.

Remember, creating a new habit takes time and patience.  Don’t give up.  Remember why it’s important for you to do and give yourself 30 days to do it every day.  Generally, new habits form between 21-60 days.

What habits are important to your daily life?  What habits do you want to add in?  What habits would you like to stop?
Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life.
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Simple Ways To Spend Less Time On Your Phone

Recently, my phone got some water damage and it had to be resuscitated at the local fix-it place.  I didn’t even have my phone at my house and I was grabbing for it for at least the first 24 hours it was gone.

I am addicted to my phone.

On average I spend 3 hours and 34 minutes on my phone a day and about 20 hours per week on social media.  The numbers don’t lie.  I am addicted to my phone.

I am not alone because at a stoplight the other day I looked over to see the person next to me looking at their phone.  The stories we could tell of where and when we see people using their phones could go on and on.  Reports show 12% adults check their phones in the shower and 26% car accidents are caused by phone use (source).

The average person picks up their phone 110 times a day (source) and mobile phone usage has “increased from 0.3 hours per day in 2008 to 3.3 hours a day in 2017″(source).  Phone addiction is an epidemic.

So, how do you learn to unplug from your phone and break your addiction?

Simple ways To Spend Less Time On Your Phone

Opt Out of all Push Notifications

Every app gives you the option for push notifications, you know those things that might ding or show up on your locked phone screen.  Just say no to all of them!

You can change your notification settings on your apple device by going to settings, then notifications, and choosing the apps you want to change (as seen above).

Use the Do Not Disturb Feature

I know this one is hard for us moms because what if the school calls?  You can program your phone to allow certain phone numbers to ring through even if you have it set to do not disturb.   Read more about how to set that up here.

Leave Your Phone Plugged in Out of Sight

If there is a particular time of day you really struggle to keep your hands off your phone or intentionally don’t want to?  Plug it in and leave it.  The old adage rings true, “out of sight, out of mind”.

Putting it out of sight helps me to avoid the temptation.  When you are in the car, leave it in your purse as you are driving, so you are less likely to pull it out at a stoplight or worse yet driving #donttextandrive.

Use a Phone Tracker

The latest update for iPhone’s now has a screen time application in settings.  I also use the moment app (free version).  Knowing your numbers will help you to make some goals when it comes to your phone.

Use the App Limit Feature

If you own an iPhone and have the latest update, you know have the app limit feature.  You can set limits for different apps as you are trying to break bad habits.

Delete Most Used Apps for a Period

Occasionally, if I really want to unplug I will delete my favorite apps on my phone.  It’s amazing how much less time I spend on my phone with social media apps deleted.

Pick Some Time to Go Phone Free

Whether’s it no social media Sunday, no phone Friday or a rule to not look at your phone while your kids are home in the evening.  Pick a time to put your phone away.  It’s a good habit to get into and it sets a good example for your kids too!  I heard a quote recently that said, “do something that makes you forget your phone.”  Sometimes, leaving your phone behind on purpose is the right choice.

Move All Apps off your Home-screen

You won’t be as tempted to hop on social media or that other favorite app if you don’t see it right away.

Charge Your Phone Away from Your Bedroom

Many of us check our phones right before bed and first thing in the morning.  To break this habit, charge your phone in adjacent room or on a charging station on the main floor.

Keep On Keeping on…

Technology can be so good, I mean hello I love connecting with all of you and use it to run Simple Purposeful Living.  I just want to make sure I am purposeful about cultivating healthy habits not only for myself but also to be a role model to my kids.  Technology is a fact of life these days but we can steward it for good and create a healthy relationship with it.

How are you intentional with your phone usage?  Share your tips in the comments below.

Until next time, keep on keeping on living life simply on purpose!

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How To Create A Life-Changing Morning Routine

For years, my morning routine consisted of being jolted awake by a set of tiny toddler eyeballs inches from my face.  I got up when the kids got up because I was not a morning person and resigned myself to the fact that I never would be.  However, I coveted a few quiet moments alone guilt-free.  I knew the answer was to get up before my family and create a morning routine but could I do it?

The answer is yes and you can too!  I have realized what people have been saying for years, the early bird indeed gets the worm.  Creating an early morning routine has set the tone of my day and changed my life.

So, what does my morning routine look like?

Get Up an Hour Before My Family

I get up at least an hour before my family.  When I started this routine, I decided what I wanted the time to be used and planned accordingly.

Brew Some Coffee

The first thing I do after rolling out of bed and slipping on my favorite slippers is to brew myself some french press coffee.  There’s nothing like the simple pleasure of the first cup of coffee in the morning in a still and quiet home.

cozy chair with fur blanket

Enjoy Some Quiet Time

After my coffee is brewed, I head to the family room.  I grab my favorite fuzzy blanket and curl up in my chair for some quiet time.  I keep all of my materials right next to it so I can plop down and get started with my quiet time routine.  (You can read more about that here)

Mentally Prepare for the Day

Before I leave my chair, I mentally run down our day.  Sometimes, while I am in my quiet time, something comes to mind so I will write it on my hand (bad habits die hard).  It’s nice to think through everything while my mind is still fresh.

Create a To-Do List

Many times I have already written a few to do list items the day.  However, while I am mentally processing my day, I think of a few things to add to the list.  I write everything down, even the seemingly simple things so I don’t forget (mom brain ;).

Mark off a Few Low-Hanging Fruit Items

If there is time left, I will take care of a few quick to do list items that don’t take much time.  It’s such a nice feeling to cross a few things off the list before my kids even get up.

Wake Up My Kids & Get Them Started on Their Morning Routine

It’s time to wake up my kids and get them started on their morning routine.  While they are getting dressed, I go and make my bed (since everyone has vacated it at this point) and get started making their breakfast, helping make lunch, brushing teeth, and ushering them out the door for the day.

Some Helpful Tips…

Give Yourself Grace & Don’t Give Up

I am pretty sure I share this in every post but it’s key to give yourself grace.  We so often chuck something before we even have a chance to see the benefits.

 Know Your Why & What You Want to Accomplish

Why do you want to create a morning routine?  What do you hope to accomplish?  For me, I wanted a few moments guilt-free to start my day off right.  Every other hour of the day someone was around.  Knowing your why will help you stay the course when it gets hard.

Set an Alarm and Don’t Press Snooze

Studies show that your body will get used to waking up at a set time if you consistently do it for a period of time.  So, set an alarm and get up when it goes off.  I use the bedtime function in the apple clock app.  It reminds me to go to bed at a decent time so I am ready to get up in the morning.  My biggest demise as a recovering night owl is staying up too late.

Leave Your Phone Behind

I have a no phone rule meaning I do not look at my phone until my morning routine is done.  It’s a distraction for me and those moments are really precious, I want to use them wisely.

Just remember…

So, maybe you are like me and you think I could never be a morning person.  I just want to encourage you that anything is possible if you set your mind to make a change and you dig in and do the hard work to establish a routine.  Don’t forget why you want to do it, that will help you keep on going even if you miss a day.

Do you have a morning routine?  What does your morning routine look like?  Why do you do it?

You Might Also Like –

How To Develop a Quiet Time Routine

Create An After-School Routine

 

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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How to Develop a Purposeful Quiet Time Routine

Most mornings my alarm goes off at 5:45 am, I can’t believe I just typed that.  I am not a natural born morning person and for years I had no desire to get up long before my kids.

These days, I know I will regret pushing snooze so I flip off the covers, slip on my slippers and head downstairs to the quiet and still peaceful kitchen.  I warm some hot water in my tea kettle and prepare myself some french press coffee before settling into my chair and beginning quiet time with God.

Before I created a quiet time routine, my bible reading and prayer were haphazardly placed in my day.  I didn’t have a plan and quite honestly more days than not that meant it just didn’t happen.  Like any relationship, our relationship with God is at its best when we spend time with him, praying and reading His word.  So, how do you cultivate a simple and purposeful quiet time?

How to develop a quiet time with God

Know Why You Want to Cultivate this Habit

Before you set-up your spot or set the alarm, you first need to make sure you know your why.  This step is often skipped but asking why when establishing any routine is essential.

When you know your why, you will keep on keeping on even on the hard days, the days you don’t want to get out of bed.

So, why do you want to create a quiet time routine?  My why was simple.  It wasn’t because I was supposed to, although I had heard for years it was an essential part of a Christian’s walk.  That “why” was not going to sustain me for long.  Instead, I wanted to make God a priority in my life and grow a deeper relationship with Him.  Spending time with Him made life better.

Find a Time

Once you know why you want to do it and make establishing this routine a priority, you need to find a time.  Most people like early mornings because there are fewer distractions and it’s a great way to start the day.  I would agree but when I had little kids underfoot, just the thought of getting up early made me tired.  So, choose a time that works best for you.

Gather Your Materials

In order to make the best use of your time, gather all of your materials into a basket and choose a spot to do your quiet time.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, it just has to be functional.  Gather a pen, highlighter, devotional, journal and study bible near where you will have your quiet time.

Set an Alarm & Practice

Even if you don’t get up early, set an alarm or make it an appointment in your planner.  Cultivating a new routine feels clunky at first.  Remember, when you first learned to ride a bike.  It felt wobbly and you didn’t exactly know what to do but with practice and time, you figured it out.  Give yourself grace as you practice this new habit.  Experts say it takes at least 21 days to make a new routine, a habit.

Find Your Simple Purposeful Living Journal Here

How to Structure Your Quiet Time

So, now that you are cultivating this new routine, how do you make it purposeful?  I structure my quiet time into 4 main categories.

Gratitude

I think of quiet time as a conversation with God.  I start out giving him thanks for all he has given me.  I use my journal and think of all the small ways I have to be grateful to start.

praying hands and bible

Prayer

Then, I transition to prayer by giving him thanks for all the things I am grateful for and the things that are weighing on my heart, prayers for others and myself.  I love writing down my prayers because my heart just flows right on to the paper.

Scripture

I finish my quiet time reading God’s word.  You could read a devotional or the Bible.  I love to read a book of the Bible in its entirety so I can understand the full story and context.  If you are new to reading the bible, you could start with Philippians or John.  You can read at your own pace.  God can use even one scripture to teach you something.

A study bible (like this one) is also really helpful in helping you understand what the author was trying to express.  There are also cross-references to other Bible passages with the same theme located usually in the margins of a bible.

As I am reading a passage, I ask myself two questions –

  1. What does this say about God
  2. What lesson or promise can I apply to my life

Just Remember to Give Yourself Grace

It might surprise you to know, I don’t have a quiet time every day.  I aim for 5 days a week.  We often beat ourselves up for the days we didn’t do instead of celebrating the habit we are creating.

I often fall into the trap of wanting it to be all or nothing but life doesn’t work like that, you will give up if you think you have to do it perfectly.  Keep going, don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater because you missed a day!

Quiet times also don’t have to be the same length every day.  God is always there ready to hang out with you.  No quiet time routine looks the same but that’s the beauty, you and God can make it be exactly what you need.

Want more help? I have you covered.

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Until next time, keep on keeping on with a simple, purposeful life!
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Tips to Create A Schedule Based on Your Priorities

“Life is chaotic.  I can’t do it all. How do I make time for the things that matter most?”  Life is too short not to do what matters most with those that matter most so today I am sharing tips to help you create a  schedule based on your priorities!

We always used to go to Bishop’s Buffet with my Grandpa Jack.  The goal every time was to have enough room on your tray at the end of the long line of food so that you could get a piece of their famous french silk pie. Once, we sat down we would find out if our eyes were too big for our stomach.  Would we actually be hungry enough after eating all of our food to actually eat the pie? It was the question that drove my decision-making.

Sometimes, life feels like an all you can eat buffet.  Your tray is so full with all of your commitments that you feel like your eyes are bigger than your stomach, but life is too short to miss out on Bishop’s french silk pie and it’s too short to miss out on what matters most.  

So, how do create a schedule that matches your priorities?

The good news, unlike a buffet, you can always take things off.  There’s always an opportunity to make more breathing room and put on the things you really want and take off the things you don’t.  You are in control. The tray doesn’t control you, your commitments don’t drive you, you get a choice!  

1. Count the Cost

When we decide what goes on our tray, we have to count the cost.  If I put this plate full of mashed potatoes on my tray, what does that mean for the french silk pie?  If I say yes to this commitment, what does that mean for what matters most to me?

2. Know Your Priorities

What are the things and activities that matter most to you?  It’s important we know very specifically what those things are if we want our priorities to drive our decision making.  What are your specific priorities?  

 

Are your priorities currently represented in your schedule? 

Ask yourself these questions to make sure your schedule reflects your priorities

1. What needs to go?

Many people say yes to commitments out of guilt.  That’s not a good reason to say yes.  Unfortunately, because we don’t want to disappoint anyone, so we end up saying yes to the detriment of our family and our priorities.  Be ruthless, write down all your commitments and evaluate what can go.

2. What do you need to add to your plate?

Remember, you do not want to miss out on the pie!  You need to plan accordingly. Don’t leave it to chance.  Good intentions don’t make things happen!

If you are lonely or need to connect with your husband, make a plan for time away. We all have the same amount of time. Our time is finite.  If it is important to you, then plan for it. Make it happen. When you are out with your girlfriends, set the next date.  Have a standing date night each month with your husband.  Remember, it doesn’t have to be fancy to be fun! 

Before you say yes or no, pause and think about it.  

For many years, I said yes without asking my husband.  Thankfully, he was gracious but I have learned telling someone I need to talk to my husband and look at my calendar is a good practice for two reasons.  I really do want to consult my husband and get his opinion.  He knows me better than anyone and can help me sift through why I want to do it.  It also gives me time to think and respond purposefully so I don’t have to back out or say no later.

Give yourself grace.  Accept Help.  

Nothing in life is absolute, there are times where you have to make the tough decision.  You may agree to something and change your mind. You will need to ask for help or delegate.  That doesn’t make you a failure, that makes you human.  There are also certain seasons in your life where your tray is full simply because you are a new mom, have lots of little kids under toe, starting a new business or launching a product.  

Whatever the case, carefully examining what’s on your tray and making sure what you want is included will ensure no matter how crazy life is you are doing what matters most with those that matter most!

 

Take a look at your tray of commitments today.  Does it represent your priorities?  What’s missing from your tray and what can you take off your tray?

 

Until next time keep on keeping on with a simple purposeful life!

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