Categories
Productivity

How to Prep for a Productive Week

We’ve all been there (or currently are here). Every day starts to feel the same, especially during this pandemic. I’ve found myself feeling really unmotivated to start Monday morning. With the weekend feeling like an extension of the work week, but still not feeling productive in the slightest. And then comes more overwhelm because you feel like you haven’t tackled everything you needed to and Monday is here and you have a whole new set of to-do’s to add to your list. Phew. Okay. Take a breath. If you’ve been feeling the same way, here are some ways I’ve found helpful in setting up for a productive and fulfilling week. 

Clear space = clear mind

Managing full-time work and a side hustle means that I need to prioritize where I spend my time. But having a messy space is the #1 thing that sets me off when I’m feeling stressed. All I can think about is the mess around me. A clean space will help to alleviate stress heading into the work week. My goal is to set a specific day every week to get it done. Sunday mornings typically work best for me, but I’m also going to try Saturday mornings. Will keep you posted on what works, but everyone will be unique and what works for one person, may not always suit another!

Another helpful tip is creating a chore/cleaning list with your significant other or housemate. It helps to lay out what you both need to have in your home so that you’re feeling your best and can be the best versions of yourselves. Not the kind who wants to throw out every dish so that you don’t have to wash them anymore……just saying. 

Plan Monday on Friday

Friday afternoons are my admin/CEO days. It’s the time I set aside to sort through my emails, wrap up any tasks, send off any emails I needed to get sent and it’s also the time where I plan my next week. I’ve accepted that it’s just not productive or healthy to stress about the tasks that you didn’t get finished on Friday afternoon. It’s too late at that point and you’ll be worrying about it all weekend. Instead make a plan for the next week! Once I’ve sorted through my inbox, I check my task manager (our company uses Monday.com and I use Asana for my freelance work) and reprioritize my to do list, then have a look at the calendar for the week ahead and slot them in. Then you can relax knowing you’ve got a plan in place to tackle your to do list and it won’t be weighing on you all weekend long. 

Balance your weekend 

This is something I struggle with. I want to do all the things. And then I end up feeling like I’ve had zero time to actually rest and recharge. Setting aside an entire day to relax is just not realistic for me. I encourage you to schedule a slow morning or a Sunday afternoon to spend time doing things that make you feel relaxed. Maybe it’s a Sunday morning yoga flow or perhaps some journaling, or maybe you feel recharged baking on a Saturday afternoon. Whatever brings you joy and calm, make sure you have a solid block of time dedicated to just that. I’ve been trying to keep socializing to one day on the weekend. Instead of making plans for both days, I’ve come to realize I really need that time for myself one day a week. As they say – balance is key!

Social Media Detox

Being someone who works in Marketing and has a Social Media freelance business, I’ve noticed that being tuned in on Instagram, Twitter or TikTok has completely started to consume my day. What starts as “research” quickly turns into *mindless scrolling*. Even during the workday, I am guilty of getting distracted by my phone and constantly checking it. Sound familiar? 

I’m currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear and in Chapter 3 we start exploring the concept of cue, craving, response and reward. In one of his examples he uses social media where your cue is a problem like hitting a roadblock in a project, you are frustrated by this situation and to relieve your frustration, you pull out your phone and check social media. Your reward is feeling relieved. But now checking social media is associated with relieving frustration when you hit a roadblock at work. I think we log onto social media for a variety of reasons, whether it be boredom, or wanting to stay up to date on the latest or just feel a sense of connection with others. But a lot of the time you feel worse after scrolling and you feel like you’ve lost 2 hours or more of your life. 

So here’s your friendly nudge to take a day or two off social media. Doesn’t mean you can’t take all the photos and video of the exciting things you’ve been up to. But save them to your camera roll and post them later. Taking some time off your phone and off your apps will definitely help your mental health. During the week try scheduling social media time, or at least set a timer for yourself – it will help with the mindless scroll and make your time on the various platforms more meaningful. 

Make time for FUN

If there’s one thing you add to your weekend to-do list so that you can start your week off on the right foot, please follow this tip. HAVE SOME FUN. As the weather begins to warm up and we’re able to get outside, make some plans to go for walks and connect outdoors! Plan a sightseeing road trip, grab a coffee and sit outside, do something that will give you some joy, while also (and of course) following local health guidelines. Life is so precious, so don’t let the constant pace of life and your to-do list stop you from enjoying it. 


Whether you take all of one of these tips, I hope it helps to set your week up for success. You got this! 

Categories
Lifestyle Wellness

5 Ways I Handle the Spring Forward Time Change

It’s funny. I was born in June, which means I was born when the clocks had already shifted forward, and therefore should be more accustomed to the Daylight Savings Time. I mean, if you believe in that kind of stuff. But there’s just something about turning the clocks back an hour that feels so right to me. So suffice it to say, I’m not looking forward to this year’s Spring Forward. Especially after the year 2020 has already thrown at us. Until the government figures out if Toronto, Montreal and New York will all agree to select a time and keep it there, I’ve come up with a few helpful tips to share so that you can avoid that first week of absolute confusion and not miss out on 1 (or more) hours of sleep. 

1. Go to sleep 15-30 mins early 4-7 days before the time change

While this may not completely reset your natural sleep cycle to adjust for the hour you’re losing, it will at least help lessen the blow by giving yourself some time back throughout the week. Adjusting by 30 mins is more gentle than a full hour. You could even start waking up 15-30 mins early so that you’re balancing out the time shift. 

I don’t know about you, but that first workday morning after the time springs forward is always the hardest. It may be especially difficult now that you’re working from home and rolling out of bed with not a lot of time to spare before logging in. Do yourself a favour and give your body the extra zzz that it will need. I know I definitely will be giving this tip a shot.

 

2. Get outside earlier in the day

…Or, if you’ve been cooped up in your home, get out even a little. Soaking in that vitamin D from the sun will not only improve your mood, but it will help with your circadian rhythm. The earlier you can get outside, whether for a morning or mid-morning walk – the better! 

This one is a hard one for me. I typically have the evening shift with the doggos, so I tend to only get outside around 5pm. In the winter it definitely sucked (unless it was snowy and beautiful and glistening, then it was magical ❄️). 

3. Move your body in the AM

Although we will technically be getting more sunlight in the evening, it’s still a good idea to get your movement in during the morning hours. It’s all about setting the tone for the day, and awakening your body to adjust to the new time zone (since that’s really what it is!). Not ready for a full on HIIT workout? I don’t blame you. Start with some low impact yoga, stretching or even a 20 mins cycle if you have an exercise bike. Once you feel like you’ve adjusted to the new time, then kick it up a notch or two. Bonus points for moving your body even during a pandemic. High five to you! 🙌

Movement is one of those things that I’ve really struggled with during the pandemic (and before that if I’m being honest). We recently purchased an exercise bike and downloaded the Peloton app on our phones and I can honestly say that it’s gotten me back into some sort of physical routine. My goal is to get at least 30 mins of movement in a day (on top of the 45min to an hour walk I have with the dogs). 

4. Take regular scheduled breaks throughout the day

I think back to elementary school and having recess. What I wouldn’t give now to have those mandatory minutes of movement and fresh air. And I thought – well, why not?! I am guilty of not stepping away from my computer (even when I’m not being that productive…). I feel like there’s a weight censored notification button under my seat and if I leave my desk, my boss will know and fire me immediately. Okay…well not that dramatic…but you know what I mean. 

While we’re acclimatizing to a whole new work schedule, give yourself some grace and take those 15 mins to step away from your computer, grab a coffee, go for a quick water break, get outside – or just get out of the area where you work. This is going to be a big area of focus for me. I’m even going to put a lunch break into my calendar so that I won’t be scheduled for meetings to give myself a true rest and recovery period during the day. I highly recommend you do too.  

5. Have a morning routine you’re excited to wake up to

We’ve checked off movement and sunshine for our morning to-do’s and although those are great, they may not be the thing that gets your butt out of bed in the morning. Find out what that is and incorporate it into your morning routine. 

I’ve been experimenting with different routines and trying to find one that sticks. Something that always gets me out of bed is… coffee. Yup. My husband is the earliest of early birds and brews coffee when he wakes up, and that smell definitely gets me out of bed. I try to sit down with my coffee (water first, obvs) and journal or read something inspiring on one of my favourite blogs or even watching one of my favourite YouTubers for a quick 5 min video. That piece of my morning makes me happy and it’s something that energizes my day. 

Find what works for you – and yes, it may take a few tries to figure it out, but that can also be exciting! 

I wish you all of the rest and ease heading into this spring forward period. I know it can be a challenging transition for some or a love/hate relationship for others. Whether you’re team #SpringForward or #FallBack (I’m camp Fall Back, that’s for sure!), I hope that you find these tips helpful. 

Categories
Lifestyle

5 Things You Can Do With Your Dogs During Social Distancing

Our two dogs, Ace and Koda, have been especially happy that both my husband and I have been home for the past month. Even though it’s been so nice to snuggle them and keep them (us) company all day, I have to say, it’s been challenging to keep up a routine that we’ll also be able to stick to when hopefully this is all over with. Our dog Koda, was particularly sensitive as a puppy and had bouts of separation anxiety, so routine is very important for us. If you’re looking for some ideas about keeping a routine and things to do with your pups during this time, I’ve put together a few things you can do with your pups while social distancing.

1. Groom, Trim, Bathe and Brush Those Teeth!

Just like humans, dogs need some self-care too. Specifically if you have a breed that needs daily brushing or maintenance. I shared a video of my husband and I blow drying and brushing Ace a few nights ago and had a few people reach out thanking us for the inspiration. It’s not an easy job. And with dog groomers closed, now is a great time to start doing something at home. We’ve also got into the habit of brushing the dogs’ teeth every evening. They both have plaque build-up (gross, I know). But it’s something that we need to manage and being in lock-down means we really have no excuse.

2. Daily Walks

Now this is obviously something you should be doing every day anyway, but my tip is to keep the timing of the walks consistent with your typical daily workday. If you usually walk the dog at 7am, try to keep that time frame. Same thing goes for daily feeding routines. The more you can keep consistent,  the better for you and your pet.

3. Subscribe to a Monthly Box

If funds allow, consider subscribing to a monthly box for your doggo. Something like Woof Pack could be a great way to get monthly treats and new toys without having to leave your home. These boxes also help to support local vendors in your community.

4. De-clutter Their Toys

We have a massive, massive, toy bin for our dogs and they probably play with 4 toys (2 of which are the exact same). Anyone else? Well…there’s a cute game you can play with your dogs to de-clutter. Pull a toy out one by one with your dogs, shake it or squeak it – anything to get their attention directed towards it – if they grab it and play or seem interested, it stays. If they couldn’t care less, it goes in the ‘wash and donate’ pile. Toss whatever is ripped or too worn.

5. Keep Their Mind (And Yours) Busy

This is a great time to teach your pet new tricks, work on existing behaviours and introduce new stimulating games. My absolute favourite game to play with the dogs is hide and seek. In our 2-bedroom apartment, we don’t have that many places to hide, so we have to get a bit creative. I have the dogs sit, stay and wait. I go hide and then give them to command to “find me” (once only). If you have another person in the house, as an added stimulant, you can get the dog to smell a piece of the other person’s clothing to pick up their scent. It’s so funny to watch them run around the house looking for you. Even better? Do this when it’s dark out and lights off (obviously don’t have any dangerous things laying about…).

What other ways are you keeping busy with your pups?

Categories
Lifestyle

Vision Boarding 101

I’m back after a very long hiatus. When you write and create content for a living, it’s hard to then come home and write more content for you. In reflecting on my blog thus far, I realized that this blog is more of a day in the life of yours truly. It was such a nice way to remember things that I’ve done in the last couple of years. Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m not accomplishing as much as I would like, personally or professionally. Maybe that’s a side affect of not being in school, or learning anything new in a structured way. But I’m craving something new. But, with that crave, comes waves of insecurity and fear that I won’t succeed. This has been a challenge my entire life. Before I jump, I want to make sure I can jump well, high, and with a successful landing. But life doesn’t actually work that way. Sometimes you have to jump – even when you aren’t ready.

This is what has inspired me to write my first blog post in almost a year. When I’m craving change, my first instinct is to sit down, evaluate and make some goals. I’m more of a visual person, so vision boards work well for me! I only put mine together a week ago, and things are already starting to happen. Call me crazy, but I truly believe that what’s meant to be will be and that everything happens for a reason. However, without a vision and a plan – dreams are just dreams. You still have to take steps (even baby ones) to make your dreams come to life. Here are my 6 best tips for creating your vision board and start making your dreams a reality!

1. Don’t think – just cut

Pull out all of your old magazines that you were planning on recycling anyway and dive straight in. Don’t think too much about this process, just start cutting out pictures, words, phrases, etc that speak to you. You know, kind of like the KonMari method – if that picture sparks joy, cut it out and put it in a pile. You don’t have to use all of the images you select, but it allows your mind to just focus on what truly matters to you.

If you’re doing this online (Pinterest is a great platform for this), then just save as many photos to your board as you can. You’ll reassess afterwards.

2. Tidy your space

Clear space = clear mind. Your working area may have become a bit messy with all the magazine pages. Take 5 mins to clear up your space and get ready for the next part of the process. Gather your board, markers, glue stick, stickers, quotes, inspirational scrap-booking papers, etc that you’ll need to start putting your masterpiece together.

3. Talk is out

I did my most recent vision board with a few family members and friends, and loved having people there talk out why I found my images inspiring. I realized once I went through my photos and starting talking about why I selected it, it made more sense and my goals were becoming clear. If there were photos that I wasn’t as excited about, I ditched them before they made it onto the board.

I realized I had cut out a lot of outdoor photographs and found some really great quotes to conveyed the feeling of being more connected with nature. I always feel so much more energized and clear headed after a walk with my two dogs, and usually end up going out for much longer than intended.

Again, if you’re doing this online, talk through the photos that you’ve saved. You can even make a note on each photo about why it speaks to you as a reminder for later. Delete the photos that don’t bring you excitement or inspiration.

4. Put it together!

Assemble your masterpiece. Now that you’ve edited, and talked through your images, it’s time to start securing the pictures onto your board. I like to layout my images before gluing them permanently down. Play around with it – there is not right way to do this step! Everyone’s board will look different. I like to make it more of a collage, but I’ve also seen some people segment the board into different themes like fitness, health, career, personal, etc. Whatever makes the most sense to you, do it.

5. Add dates, numbers, actionable words.

This is a step I used to skip. I didn’t want to put actionable numbers or goals because then I would have to strive to reach them. (Yes, I know how counter-productive that is to make a vision board and just hope it happens). So this time around I put my money where my month was. When you have a date, you have to make steps towards that goal. It gives you something to envision and also gives you a time frame.

For example, I have a picture of a Before and After shot of a house. I know that whenever Adam and I buy a place, that it will likely be a fixer-upper (because Toronto is not affordable and we’re not interested in moving that far away from the city). So this photo represents our journey to home ownership. I put the year 2022 right beside a quote that says “focus”. I know that if we really crack down on our spending and paying off debt, that we will reach this goal – or at least get pretty close to it.  Another number I included was ‘300’ – which is the deadlift goal I’ve set for myself to hit by the summertime. I’ve also included the word “Summer” with a picture of a mic and stage, as that’s the time when I want to go solo and really get my singing going again.

6. Put it somewhere you’ll see it often

My final tip is to put your vision board somewhere where you will see it everyday. Don’t hide it away in your closet or let it get lost in a room you never go in. If it’s online, take a screenshot and save it to your desktop background or phone background. Look at it with intention, smile, close your eyes and give yourself some grace knowing that you’re working towards this. It’s not meant to be a board of what you’re lacking – but of where you’re going.


With that, happy vision boarding! It’s never too late to create one and whatever season of life you’re in, I can guarantee you’ll benefit from having it.

Have you ever created a vision board? Did it work for you? Let me know in the comments below.

Categories
Lifestyle

Recipe: Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Last week, I was in the mood for baking! I feel like after Christmas time everyone goes on a baking hiatus from sweet baked overload. Now that the spring weather is slowly creeping in, it felt like the right time to make something yummy.  After searching Pinterest for what seemed like hours, I finally found this recipe: Cake Batter Chocolate Chip Cookies. Um, yes please! I used Sally’s Baking Addiction’s recipe, but did change a few things.

For instance, I used Funfetti Cake Mix instead of vanilla and did not add white chocolate chips. I didn’t need to chill the dough either, it was thick enough that I was able to just roll the dough onto the baking sheet. However, Sally’s technique with rolling the dough more vertically worked really well and I will definitely continue doing that in the future! A couple of additional tips: If you’re using the funfetti cake mix, don’t use as many sprinkles! And two, use parchment paper instead of just an ungreased cookie sheet. The cookies came out much more fluffy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 and 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 and 1/4 cup Funfetti cake mix
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup sprinkles

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, mix flour, cake mix, and baking soda. Set aside.
  2. Mix the melted butter and sugars together. Add the egg and vanilla and mix until well combined.
  3. Add the flour mixture and mix until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and sprinkles. Mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough!
  4. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  5. Scoop rounded balls of dough onto baking sheet. *This is where you can see Sally’s Baking Addiction’s great tip!*
  6. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes until edges are slightly browned.
  7. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet and transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Happy Baking!

lxiv

Categories
Crafts Decor Holidays Lifestyle

Must Have Items for Fall Decor

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With October in full swing, I wanted to show you some of my fall decor pieces that I purchased this year to decorate our home. I like to find a good deal – so most (if not all of these pieces) were found at local vintage shops, Winners or the good old local Dollarstore! I like to change accessories throughout our space since I am constantly switching things up! I can’t help but be a little indecisive with decorating. There are just too many different options and I happen to love them all. So finding great deals on items are definitely worth it for me.

Below are my Top 6 Must Have Items for fall decorating!

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1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

1. YouTube Fall Tutorials

I love browsing YouTube to get inspired for upcoming seasons! I usually skim through until I see a thumbnail that grabs my attention and then eventually end up on a never-ending spiral of YouTube videos.

2. Fake Florals

I purchased those potted plants at The Real Canadian Superstore at the end of last season, but you can find similar ones at Ikea or your local craft or dollarstore. I opt for fake flowers because I can re-use them year after year for different purposes. Real flowers are costly and they do not last as long! This way I can have the look all season long without having to constantly purchase new flowers.

3. Scented Candles

These are a definite MUST HAVE item for any season. I purchased my “Pumpkin Clove” candle last year from Anthropologie along with the mercury votives. If you’re looking for a great scent, their Pumpkin Souflee Candle by Boulangerie is the perfect scent for fall.

4. Fall Garland

Adding a string of garland is an easy way to spruce up your home without going overboard. Best part again is that they can be reused in so many different capacities. I used my garland on our TV stand, but you can use it on your table, above a doorway – anywhere really!

5. Fall Table Runner

This year I decided to purchase a table runner instead of a full table cloth. I love the natural wood of our dining table and wanted that warmth to show through. I purchased the table runner at my local Homesense. They always have so many options to choose from to suit your colour story.

6. Fall Prints

I find a lot of my prints online for free from Pinterest, where the artist has allowed people to print and share them as long as they do not sell them or make any profit from them! Like I said, I change things up often, so it makes more sense to print them at home than to spend a lot of money on prints that I will eventually recycle. You can get the Fall Compass Print here and the Thankful Print here.

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Frames from Ikea.

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Print from Chicfetti.com

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I love changing up our home for fall. The crispness of the weather, wool sweaters, hot apple cider, warm blankets, scented candles and the changing leaves are just a few things I love about Fall, so it just makes sense to give my home that same inspired feeling!

What are some must have fall decor items on your list?

PS. Here’s a cozy little fall inspired picture with the pup!

lxiv