All About Calendar Blocking

Like I mentioned in my post last week, something that I do from time to time to make sure I stay productive is calendar blocking. I don’t do it all the time (because it can sometimes seem a bit rigid and stressful, to be honest…) but when I need to buckle down and get things done, it can be really helpful. I’ve done this at work with my Outlook calendar, I’ve done this at home when I’m working from home, but sometimes I even do it at home when I’m NOT working aka for my regular life!

While I love a good to-do list (and y’all know that I do!!) it can still be easy to let some things slip through the cracks because oops you went and did other things or oops you took a long nap instead. And that’s ok. But sometimes you just really want to make sure that you get things done, and that’s where calendar blocking can help.

If you’re thinking “huh – is it just putting things on your calendar and scheduling out your day?” then you are RIGHT! It’s as easy as that! You think of all the things you need to do and all the things you want to do, and you throw them in your calendar. This is where it gets “fun” – you have to think about how long it will take you to do some tasks and what task-adjacent things should also go on your calendar. What would those be?!? Let’s look at mine from this past weekend and find out!

Let’s start with the task-adjacent items that I added to my calendar. On the first day, I went to brunch with some girlfriends. I could have just put the brunch on there, but I wanted to also add in the drive there and the drive home – those were task-adjacent.

As for other things, I just made my best guess as to how long certain tasks would take. Like going outside and walking/jogging for 3 miles – I know that’ll take about 45 minutes. But I go ahead and block off an hour on the calendar for it so I’ll have some wiggle room and will have time to go to the bathroom, drink water and stretch when I get home, etc. Other things like meal prep- based on what I had to make for the day, I figured that it would take me about 90 minutes. If it took less time – no biggie! Extra time to chill or work on something else! If it took more time – also no biggie! I could just move things around in the schedule or move a task to the next day. The great thing about calendar blocking is that you can be pretty free with it and adjust as you go.

I also try and make sure that I’m scheduling time for fun things when calendar blocking – that way it’s not just a rushed weekend where I feel like I didn’t get any rest. I am still working on a baby blanket that I’m crocheting for my newest nephew, so I made sure to schedule lots of crochet/tv time so I could relax and have some fun while still being productive! Other times, I’ve simply scheduled “free time” for an hour and I can just choose what I want to do in the moment – go get coffee, scroll through Instagram, run to Target, etc.

Is this method perfect? No! But is it helpful and worth trying? I think so! What is your favorite method for getting all your to-do list items done? Or do you hate lists all-together and hope for the best?!? Let me know!

How to Stay Productive While Working from Home

 

One of the really nice things about my company is that you can work from home when you need to. Dentist appointment? Work from home! Have a flight in the early evening and need to get to the airport? Work from home! Need to focus on work because the people that sit by you are getting on your nerves and you just need ONE day to work in silence? Work from home!!! Ok maybe that last one isn’t really a legit reason to WFH… but it’s just nice to be able to have that option. I’ve found a pretty good routine when I DO stay at home to work, and I wanted to share how you can stay productive while working from home, too!

Stick to your morning routine…

As exciting it can be to sleep in since you’re not going to have to deal with the usual commute, I try *really* hard to keep to my normal routine. That means still waking up early and getting ready like I would be going in to work. I do this because 1- if I sleep in one day during the week then I will want to sleep in ALL the days and it’s just so much harder to get up at my normal time the next day. Does that mean I’m getting old? I think it does.. and 2- I can get more done in the morning! Or start working earlier! Which means I can either take a long lunch or even stop working a little bit earlier than usual!

Get dressed in “real” clothes…

This is what I *try* to do when I work from home… but does it always happen? Nope! Really, I just try to get changed out of my pajamas. If I get changed into some workout pants and a t-shirt, that’s ok! But I think mentally the act of getting out of my jammies just signals “ok it’s time to be a real working person today!” and helps get me in the mindset that it’s working time! Usually when I work from home tho I’m running to an appointment or running an errand that is more convenient to do during the day, so I’m usually in “real” clothes, anyway.

Calendar block your day…

When I really need to focus, calendar blocking SAVES THE DAY every single time. It’s just a good way to make sure that you’re focusing on one thing (or a group of things) for a certain amount of time and it helps me not get distracted. (If you don’t know about calendar blocking, watch this YouTube video!)

Make a list of top priorities…

This kind of goes hand-in-hand with the calendar blocking above. When I’m at home and not in my usual desk/office environment, sometimes my brain shuts off and is like “what is happening? What projects are you working on? Did you even save that file?” so keeping a list of the things I ABSOLUTELY want/need to get done during the day working at home is key. I then take that list, figure out how long each item should take, and schedule out my day to give me the best chance of getting it all done.

Set a cut-off time at the end of the day…

I’m sure most people don’t have this problem, but sometimes when you’re out of your normal routine it can be easy to lose track of time and just keep working WAY longer than you should! This won’t be an issue if you calendar blocked your day, but make sure that you set a boundary and quit when it’s time!

Work elsewhere if you need to…

While having a dedicated workspace at home can help keep you on task, sometimes you just need a change of scenery. (This happens to me at work, too, where I’ll need to go to another floor or room just to work for a few hours.) So pick up and move around if you need to! Work from the kitchen! Go to the library! Hit up a Starbucks! Do what you need to do in order to stay productive and focused!

10 Instagram Accounts You Should Follow ASAP

One thing that I’ve been trying to really crack down on for myself is phone time. And by phone time I clearly mean time spent on social media. I don’t have facebook on my phone (does anyone anymore?!?), and I do go browse on Twitter from time to time, but really the bulk of my phone time is spend mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. It’s just so fun and easy to do! There’s just so much fun stuff to look at! And there’s all the friends and family I know IRL to keep up with! It’s just a lot!

I set up a application timer specifically for Instagram so that once I’ve been on the app for 20 minutes, it reminds me “You’ve spent 20 minutes on Instagram today” and that’s supposed to make me want to leave the app. And sometimes it does… but sometimes I’m in the middle of watching some great stories and I’ve just gotta stay a little bit longer! I always feel oddly proud of myself when I get that notification in the evening instead of like, 9am, which definitely happens more often than I’d care to admit.

So even though I’m trying to spend less time just mindlessly looking at social media, there are quite a few accounts that I’m always happy to see updated posts and stories from! They’ve just got great content that never make me feel like I’m wasting my time (which is the point of social media, right? Even if I AM wasting my time, it’s nice to not feel like that’s the case!) I wanted to share some of MY favorite accounts with you so you can follow along with them, too!

Kirby Jenner

This account is done SO WELL and always makes me crack up. Did you know that the Kardashian family has ANOTHER sibling that often gets forgotten about? That’s right, the totally *NOT* fictional Kirby Jenner is here to show you all his antics with the rest of his family, often with his twin sis Kendall. His Photoshop skills are great – just see for yourself!

Elizabeth Holmes

If you want all the thoughts and opinions about all things Royal (outfits, hair, appearances, babies, instagram accounts, and more) then give this lady a follow! She’s known for her “So Many Thoughts” stories where she’ll take a picture of a royal person/scenario and put ALL HER THOUGHTS on top of them. And homegirl does her research! It’s not just snarky or frivolous, it’s factual! And so fun!

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SO MANY THANKS to everyone who made my inaugural #SoManyThoughts event into *such a special* night. It was a total thrill to see the room packed full of thoughtful people. I cannot believe we were the fasting-selling event this space has seen! Swipe for some of my favorite moments. 🙌🎀🙌 . I’m so grateful to all of the people who gave of their time and resources to make this happen: thank you to @cupofjo for moderating, @made.by.we for hosting, @wolfferwine for the drinks, @scunci for the bows, @sally_hansen for the nail polish, @hatchgal for lending me a jumpsuit, @liz_devine for pics, as well as @kate_childs + @juliekohncohen + @lizasuloti + their teams for some serious hustle and enthusiasm. 💪💓💪 . YAY! Here’s to hoping we can do more! 🙏😊🙏

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Texas Humor

Just funny stuff about the greatest state. If you like Texas then you will like this.

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He’s not wrong. 🤴

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Kelly Larkin

Kelly is the cutest!!! She and her family live in Chicago and they just seem like such a fun couple/family. And bonus- she JUST had her second baby a few days ago! So get ready for all the cute baby pictures – I for one can’t wait! She has a super cute style and just seems like the nicest person around. I started following her through one of my favorite bloggers Carly (@carly) and I love seeing her pop up in my feed!

Jamie B. Golden

Jamie is 1/2 of my absolute favorite podcast duo (they do the amazing The Popcast with Knox and Jamie AND The Bible Binge, both of which are FANTASTIC listens!) and she is hilarious in her stories! But what I really love watching from her is when she talks about skincare. Girl loves her some skincare. And trying all the new things. And I just love hearing her talk about all of those new things. If you’re into face masks and eyeliner and all things Sephora (plus other hilarious things), give her a go.

Inslee Fariss

I’ve been a fan of Inslee’s art for SO long (it’s seriously so beautiful, she is crazy talented) but one thing I LOVE about following her on Instagram is that she is a mom that shows the hilarious and not so glamorous parts of raising a small human. Her son is still little and her stories are… just the best (I mean, she saved “peak toddler” stories and they just seem so relatable lol). Her son is so adorable, has a little plastic shovel that might be his best friend and for a time went around everywhere with him (watch here!), and he really hated hats for a long time. None of this sounds particularly interesting but trust me it’s just fun to see and follow along with all her adventures! They just moved from NYC to NC and I can’t wait to see what they get into in their new home!

Enneagram and Coffee

I think that you all already know that I’m super obsessed with the Enneagram… so of course I’m following a few Enneagram accounts on Instagram! I love this one because they have “serious” posts that go into what each number should work on or what is special about each one, but they also just do fun and silly posts like this one about getting a tattoo based on your number. Which is pretty much spot on.

Lonestar Southern

Cute Dallas girl alert!!! Kate is beyond adorable and just seems like the sweetest person you’ll ever meet! Her outfits are always sweet and cute and she is getting married next month, so you know there will be lots of gorgeous wedding pictures to look at soon! Follow her to make sure you see them – based on some of the things she’s shared on her blog, it will be a GORGEOUS wedding!

Covering the Bases

Another one of my favorite bloggers that is getting married soon is Krista! She is so down to earth and so preppy (in the best East Coast way without being pretentious) and I love following along with her life in NYC! Her go-to color combo is blue and white (yes, please!!!) and she is just a really fun one to follow! She’s also shared a lot of her wedding plans/ideas on her blog and this one too seems like it will be GORGEOUS – you’ll definitely want to follow along for it! (Like they’re doing their own flowers, and how gorgeous are they?!?)

Hilary Rushford

Hilary was one of the very first people that I didn’t actually know IRL that I started following on Instagram. Her energy is contagious, she always has great things to say, and she is just a whole lotta fun while also keeping things super real! She just started a podcast (which I’ve only listened to 2 episodes but am already LOVING) and oh my goodness she and her husband ELOPED and it was THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I’VE EVER SEEN!!!!!!!! I even put it in a Five for Friday post back in the fall because I was so obsessed with their gorgeous wedding photos!

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7 reasons to become an entrepreneur • 1 You have yet to discover all of your abilities. 💋 I had no idea when I first started that I was talented at business, marketing, copywriting, branding, teaching extemporaneously, writing inspiring messages on Instagram. A ton of little talents are waiting for you to uncover just how much potential you really have! • 2 You don’t know all your weakness. 💋 Entrepreneurship will also bring out your sore spots, but staying oblivious to them doesn’t mean you avoid them, it just means they’re crippling your life without you learning how to fix them. There is a better version of you waiting to be revealed! • 3 There are people you could help. 💋 Whether with your product or creating a job for someone. • 4 You have the potential to choose + control your financial peace. • 5 And the freedom to work wherever, whenever. • 6 And to prioritize what matters most whether a child, sick parent, or friend in need. • 7 If you’re a woman you can control that women are paid equal to men, given positions equal to men, + no one is subject to sexual harassment. If you’re a man you can choose the same. • 1 reason to join the free workshop here >>> DeanSt.co/PaidToBeCreative <<< a year from now you’ll wish you’d started today! (Link in bio!) • Which number is YOUR greatest reason? 💋 • PS See IG Stories for how our team responded to a total tech meltdown today. A couple years ago I would have been a mess, but today I just laughed it off. Proof that business has grown me!

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And that’s it for now! What are some of your favorite accounts – and why do YOU love them?!? I’d love to follow along with you!!

Birthday Thoughts

My birthday was almost 2 weeks ago, which means that I’m now 31! While this isn’t a *big* one to celebrate, it does mean that I’m solidly in my 30’s now, and that seems like a big deal. I’ve heard so many people say that their 30’s are their favorite decade to be in, and I already agree! My 20’s were fun, but the last year was just even more fun and fulfilling and full of growth and I just loved it!! With everything that I did and everything that happened, I tried to be really intentional about taking stock of what was going on and using it to become a better version of myself. Here are some of the things I learned (or re-learned) while I was 30 and hope to bring into this next year of my life, too!

Find things that make you happy and then do those things.

For me last year, there were a lot of things that made me happy! One of those things was travel. I swear, it felt like I went all over the place. I spent time in Texas (obvi), Tennessee, Florida, California (twice!), Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Nebraska, Georgia, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, and I loved every second of it!

Another thing that made me happy was just being creative in any way shape or form. This looked like baking, crafting, playing music, painting, and more. I may not be the best at everything I try, and that really used to bug me, but now I just see it as practice and am happy that I got to create something just for me while enjoying the process.

Don’t let silly things bring you down.

Sometimes life gets you down and it’s allowed, like when you don’t the job you were interviewing for or you rear-end someone and have to spend a good chunk of your money buying a new car. But sometimes life gets you down and it’s just silly stuff that you don’t need to worry about! A lot of this for me used to come from comparing myself to others, and this year I don’t know what it was exactly but it just didn’t seem to be an issue anymore. And thank goodness – it’s so much nicer to not deal with that!

Invest in the friendships that matter.

This year had a lot of ups and downs when it came to friendships. There were fun trips, great phone calls, a few hard conversations, making up for lost time with some, and letting go of others. But I spent a lot of time trying to be intentional with the friendships in my life that really matter, both new ones and old ones, and I feel like it really showed. I am so blessed to be able to have people in my life that I’ve known for years and years that I can get deep with, and on the flip side I met some incredible women over the last year and have had a blast getting to know them and call them real and true friends. I seriously can’t wait for this year to invest in these friendships even more!

Always find the silver linings.

It’s not easy in the moment, but there’s usually an upside that can be found in every situation. And sometimes you won’t be able to see it for a while, and that’s ok. Just know that it’s there and you’ll find it eventually. A good example of this is back in March of last year, I applied for a new job. And I wanted that job SO BAD. And I told everybody about this job and just how badly I wanted it. And I was qualified! I was SO qualified! I did all the interviews and made it to the final two candidates, and then I didn’t get the job. And I was a little bit devastated. And a little bit embarrassed (mainly because I told so many people about this great opportunity that I now didn’t get to have!) But months later, I heard that the position I was up for turned out to be not what they originally described and the person who got the job was miserable, and I felt so lucky that I didn’t get stuck in that bad position. And even better, the job that I stayed with got even better and I got to do some really great things because of it! Silver linings!

It’s ok to celebrate yourself.

You don’t have to wait for someone else to celebrate you – just go ahead and do it yourself! Did you totally rock a presentation at work? Tell your friends over a celebratory dinner! Did you meet a goal that you worked really hard for? Awesome – take yourself to see a movie! Have to work on your birthday? Blow up a bunch of balloons and get a cupcake and decorate your hotel room just because you want to! It’s ok!

It’s never too late to learn more about yourself.

2018 was the year I became OBSESSED with the Enneagram. It helped me know myself so much better, it’s actually kind of crazy. What I love about the Enneagram is that it’s not just another personality type test and it doesn’t just tell you how you act, but it goes into the root of WHY you do certain things and how to become a healthier version of yourself. I plan on doing a full Enneagram post as some point soon because I’m still obsessed with it, but in the meantime go read up on it if you don’t already know your number! I’m a 2 with a 1 wing which probably sounds a little bit crazy, but just go with it.

I’m actually really really happy being single.

Which is something I never thought I’d say, but here I am saying it! A friend and I made a pact together last year that we’d spend 6 months being intentionally single and really focusing on other important things, mainly our relationship with God and getting involved at church. Those 6 months showed me so much and I really learned to not just tolerate being single, but to ENJOY it! I definitely still want to be married someday, but I tell you what I’m having a whole heck of a lot of fun in the meantime.

Getting involved is a good thing.

Like I just said, I spent the first part of my 30th year being really intentional and jumping into community. I decided to do this in 2 ways: getting really involved in my home church and finding an organization I cared about to volunteer with. I was going to church already, and I was doing things here and there, but actually diving in and REALLY getting involved changed so much and I can’t believe what a difference a year makes. I joined a bible study and met some of the best women from all stages of life that give the best hugs. I started serving at church and love getting to see friendly faces while doing so. I joined a life group and love getting to encourage them and be encouraged by them. I started volunteering with a professional women’s organization and get so much more out of it than what I put in. Find a way to get involved and I promise you won’t regret it!

Best Gift Guides of 2018

Holiday shopping can be so stressful. I like to think that I do a pretty good job at knowing what someone needs or what they would enjoy, but sometimes it’s just hard and while it feels kind of like cheating to ask someone “what do you want?” it can be a good guarantee to give something that will actually be used and appreciated. Each year I feel like I struggle buying for one person… and every year it changes! Last year, I had NO idea what to get my brother-in-law, but this year I feel like I really knocked it out of the park… whereas last year I knew exactly what to get my mom, and this year it’s just cricket sounds when I try and thing of something. (I finally broke down and asked for ideas… so hi mom please email me back with some!) 🙂

One thing that has helped me narrow down my gift choices in the past is GIFT GUIDES!!! You might be sick of them already (it seems like there are 12 new ones showing up in my feed every day) but man they can be helpful! I love seeing what items show up on multiple lists (aka the hot items of the year) and seeing what items are crazy (like, who would ever buy that?!?!). I also find it… we’ll say entertaining… to see gift guides that are WAAAAAAAAY out of my budget. Like, wow you fancy that you think this $80 thing is a casual stocking stuffer, ok. Good for you, but no.

Every time I have seen a gift guide in my feed that I enjoyed, I added it to a list and I wanted to share the best of the best I’ve seen so far! Don’t waste your time looking all over the internet – no! They’re all right here for you! Hooray!

For the GUYS:

Gifts under $50

Gifts for lots of different types of guys

15 gifts for him

Ultimate gift guide for every man in your life

Ultimate gift guide for men

Gift guide for him

Gift guide for guys

Boyfriend gift guide

 

For the GALS:

Gift ideas for her

Gift guide for her under $50

Gift Guide for her: Mostly under $100

Cozy gift guide for her

 

For the BEAUTY LOVER:

Makeup gift guide

Gifts for beauty lovers

Beauty junkie gift guide

 

For VERY SPECIFIC PEOPLE:

Gift guide for the bibliophile

Adulting gifts

Gifts for the homebody

Gift guide for the best friend

Gifts for chronic illness patients

Gift guide for the jet-setter 

Gifts from Amazon

 

For COWORKERS:

Gifts for co-workers or your boss

Gift guide for your co-worker

 

For BABIES/KIDS:

Gift guide for toys

Gift guide for the snuggle bug

 

For THE STOCKINGS:

Stocking stuffers

Stocking stuffers

(To be honest I think all of these “stocking stuffers” would be excellent normal gifts that go under the tree, but they labeled them as “stocking stuffers” so here they are on my list.)