#10 Blog Post Topic Generator: Answer The Public

When you have writer’s block, check out this awesome resource.

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Visualization of Data retrieve in Answer the Public's search for Homeschool.
Answer The Public’s Visualization for “Homeschool”

You may be wondering what this picture is. IT is super cool. Back in the day (ha, like I’m hip there), I had a job where I was responsible for converting data from one system to another. There are days where I geek out on data. A visualization of data makes me even happier.

This post is for my readers who are also bloggers. When you are at a loss for what to write about next, you have to check out this site (and what very well be my next addiction):  AnswerThePublic.com.

I could write about it, but you will get more out of it if you try it yourself.  I did a few runs to get you started: WordPress.com, blogging, Walt Disney World, and pineapple.

See? Data can be fun!

Happy Searching (and writing)!

 

 

#9 Favorite Podcasts

Since the beginning of the year, I have been listening to podcasts often. These are my current top five.

Since the beginning of the year, I have been listening to podcasts often. These are my top five:

Up First: NPR: I was on the search for something that would update me on politics without strong emotions attached, as I was frustrated with the angry political rants happening (on both sides) that sometimes would draw me away from the actual story. Goodness gracious, this was not easy to find. However, once I discovered NPR’s Up First podcast, life improved for me. This podcast is about ten minutes long and is typically posted by 6 AM, Monday through Friday. Up First provides the perfect amount up information and analysis. As for emotional commentary – there is only time for a sigh here and there or some giggles.

The Life Coach School Podcast: Brooke Castillo has changed my life. Really. My thoughts are clearer and kinder (to myself especially) than they have been in years due to Brooke’s podcasts. These are out every Thursday, and I have yet to find a podcast of Brooke’s that hasn’t given me multiple things to think about and apply in my life.

The Minimalists Podcast: I have a dream to live in an RV or a tiny home at some point in my life (hubby not so much), so this podcast is my jam.

Creating Disney Magic: Lessons in Leadership, Management & Customer Service: I have been working my way through this podcast, as I love all things Walt Disney World. While much of what I have listened to (thus far) is not new to me, I enjoy the stories Lee Cockerill shares very much.

NPR’s Planet Money: This one is a filler for me when I need a break from everything else. It is not like anything I would think about listening to, but the stories are crazy interesting.

Blog Post Photo - Favorite Podcasts

#8 Why I Love Baking Soda

I love baking soda. ♥ It can do so many things and is inexpensive. Here are my top five uses of baking soda.

I love baking soda. ♥ It can do so many things and is inexpensive. My top five uses of baking soda are:

  1. Cleaning Toilets (deodorizes and cleans at the same time). No vinegar needed, just some elbow grease.
  2. Cleaning Sinks
  3. Deodorizing Carpets – see my post about cat poop. 🙂
  4. Removing Build-up From Hair
  5. Deodorize Garbage Cans

How do you use baking soda? Any tips or tricks?

Two boxes of baking soda sit on a counter.
The super powers of baking soda.

 

 

#7 Just 15 minutes – Timer Magic

Procrastinating? 15 minutes is all you need to finish without fuss. The power of 15-minute increments.

Fly Lady TimerRoutine tasks that are not my favorite:

  • Cleaning the bathrooms, ugh, especially the showers.
  • Doing dishes – will they ever end?
  • Dusting.

For tasks such as the above, I have learned to do the task for only 15 minutes – timer and all. I learned this from FlyLady, and it can be a lifesaver. When you do something for just 15 minutes, it becomes totally do-able. When the timer beeps, the permission to stop is there, and it is freeing.

This week, when you have something to do that you’d rather not do, give yourself the gift of 15 minutes. Set a timer (Google has one). If you find it works well, you may enjoy FlyLady’s website. Everything is about baby steps over there, and they work like a charm.

May you Fly Through Your Day,

Christine : )

 

#6 Cat Poop Around the House

Why cat poop around the house should be no surprise.

For a while, we were finding cat poop around the house quite often. Thankfully, we’ve made changes to our cat’s diet that (at least for now) that has fixed our poop problem.

When we were in the onslaught of deliveries, it never failed to appear at the most inopportune time.

In the beginning, I was a stress fest, but by the end of the “run” I learned to pad plenty of time around almost anything I had planned, “just in case.”

Something to Know: our cat has three legs. He was having trouble getting himself clean for a while, so to remedy the situation, he would scoot around the carpet dragging his butt.

Tripod kitty on a chair with an arrow labeled "culprit" pointing to him.
Tripod Kitty on a Chair

Oh my, if you were lucky enough to catch him in the act, it was difficult not to smile – or laugh.

Anyway, one of the things I was working on at the time was to wrap my mind around the fact that whatever happened in my day was supposed to happen and to just go with it. It didn’t go well at first, but by the end of our “poop trials,” I would look at the skid mark across our carpet and truly think, “Well, of course, he did that. Now he feels better; we are trying to figure out the cause; and in the meantime, my carpets are cleaner than they’ve ever been b/c I’m cleaning them thoroughly so darn often.”

Truly.

When you look at something that your mind has decided shouldn’t be there, and realize that maybe your expectations are what is wrong, not the circumstances, life can get interesting, in a super fun way.

Plus, how can you be upset with this face?

 

#5 How I manage my days/weeks/months/year.

The power of writing things down, and planning your week ahead. How I keep my days organized. Spoiler Alert: It isn’t an app.

My college ruled composition book.
My Life Saver with Getting Things Done.

A composition book is my lifesaver.

Yes, I do keep my calendar in Google calendar, which I can access when I am out and about. Aaand, yes, I also have a (dollar store) wall calendar that hangs in the kitchen for the family’s quick reference, but my To-Do Book is the key to me getting to appointments on time and accomplishing tasks.

It fits in my purse, and I take it almost everywhere I go. For me, the act of writing things down forms a stronger pathway in my brain than if I had added the same task into an app (personal preference).

At some point every weekend,  I have time set aside for planning for the week ahead. It may seem like a ton of work but, in reality, I save so much time throughout the week by being uber-organized that it is now something that is non-negotiable for me.

Weekend Ahead Planning:

  • I first make sure that any new activities that added to my To-Do Book over the week, are logged into my Google calendar.
  • I take 5 minutes (max) to make sure my Google calendar and wall calendar are in sync.
  • I then spend about 15 minutes, creating pages in my To-Do Book for the week ahead.

    DailyToDoBookPage1
    Keep the left page blank for notes/ideas.
  • The days where I have a lot going on, a full page is used (on the right). Note:  I always leave the left page blank for any notes/ideas/thoughts that I want to remember.
  • The days where I know I don’t need much space, I may have the days share a page.
  • Each day I include the date, the day of the week, and my daily must-dos: these are things I usually do before I get going in the day. Daily must-dos are non-negotiables and are the items that I’ve found if I skip, they will nag at me throughout the day.
  • If I have an outside appointment, it goes on the page, BUT I don’t stop there. I always take the time to note the time that  I need to leave my house to stay on schedule.  This was life changing for me.  With homeschooling, we don’t always have a routine Monday through Friday.  Each day seems a little bit different with activities such as doctor appointments, outside classes, a trip to the city, and more.

Learning to walk through my entire day ahead of time, and making notes about details that I still need to resolve makes the week ahead run well. “Hmmm.. wait, do I need to pack a lunch for Wednesday?” If the answer is, “yes,” I add the preparation needed to my days.

I used to wake up in the morning, make breakfast, look at my calendar and then figure out what is going on for the day. On a good day, I might have done that all the night before but by doing this a few days out, I can trouble-shoot anything early. Talk about stress-relieving. 

DAILY USE 

  • The left page is for ANYTHING that I think is important that I might want to remember… a friend who says they are having surgery in September; a reminder to change my password on something; a book I saw that I want to read; etc.

    Make your list useful
    Clip your notebook/To-Do Book OPEN!
  • The magic clip holds the power. The thing that takes this portable To-Do Book from functional to life changing is having it OPEN to the day you are on all the time and keeping it with you – OPEN! I picked up an easel clip from an art store and use it to hold my book open to the current day. This way, when I come up with ten other thoughts in my head, I write it in the book (left page).
  • This powerful clip also helps to save anything of importance – for example, a card you want to deliver to someone (people still do that, right?) or a form you need to hand in somewhere. I place these items under the clip on the left page.

    At the End of a day my book looks like this.

At the end of each day (5 min. max)

  • I take a look at the next day – has anything changed?
  • I review the notes from the current day. Anything I did not complete either a) was not that important and umm… do I really need it on my list or b) is important, and I move it to the next appropriate day.
  • I look at all that I accomplished and pat myself on the back. 🙂

Stocking  Up

I stock up on composition books in August during the back to school sales (50 cents each or so). The key for me, is that I need something I can take everywhere. It must be able to fit in my purse.

Starting A New Book

When it is time for a new book, I go to the very last page where I keep a list of books that sound interesting to read. In viewing my prior To-Do Book reading list, I transfer any unread books that I still have an interest in reading.

Book Reading List

Then I flip one additional page backward, and this is where I list my long-term goals. Things like:

Declutter a room.

Go through videos and photos from 2016 and get them in a photo book and backed-up.

Make vacation plans.

Look at college financial information.

For the odd days, where I feel like I want to work on a project but need an idea, I head to my long-term goal list and begin working on one of those.

With those back pages setup, I return to the cover to label it with the start date. Sometimes, I will add some fun stickers.

Once I clip the book open to today, it is all ready to go!

What do you think?

My To-Do Book is what keeps me on the ball.

Every minute I spend using this book is worth it, as I gain ten times that in free time where I’m not wondering, “what is next, what do I need to do,” and so on.

Guess what I get to do now? I am off to check off that I finished my next WP post. Woo hoo! Of course, that was in my book. 🙂

Have a wonderful day,

Christine

#4 How to make others respect your time at home. Part 3: Learn to say, “No.”

A continuation from my last post (3 of 3): When you feel others ask too much of you, the problem may be your lack of ability to say, “No.”

Disclaimer: This advice is for mature adults who tend to lean toward people-pleasing. Obviously, not for life-threatening situations. 🙂 

“No.”

If you aren’t used to saying, “No,” maybe you should give it a try, this week.

Not only that, say it without feeling the need to give 40 excuses for saying, “No.”

Guess what? You will live through it. You may even find it empowering.

“No, that won’t work for me.”

“No, thank you.”

“I appreciate the offer but, I’m not available.”  Gasp!  You don’t even have to tell them what you are doing that has you unavailable.

My schedule and planning help me tremendously. Even when I’m mostly home with what may seem to others “not much to do” – I’m busy planning events, learning new skills, preparing for the next stage in life, organizing my daughter’s homeschooling, and more. It is easy to leave all of this off my calendar and see a whole bunch of free days, but what happens is anything I should have been doing now jumps into the next day where I wake up and already feel behind. The best way for me, personally, to fix this is to schedule things out. Some days, I list my top three things to do, and I don’t put times on them. Other days, I time things out (padded well, to keep me calm).

Along with our family calendar/google calendar, I use a composition notebook to keep me on track and organized. I’ll share a bit in my next post.

Do I always say, “No,”?  Not exactly, I am simply choosy about the who/what/where/whens in my life.

Having my schedule/goals figured out in advance, provides me with boundaries to know when saying, “No,” will ultimately bring me peace.

Best,

Christine