#RealTalk: Blogging Less Doesn't Make You a Bad Blogger

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger. I haven't blogged in over a month.

And you know what? That's ok.

 

Honestly, just a few months ago, the thought of not blogging for even a week was hard for me to wrap my mind around. We're told that to have a successful blog we need to:

1. Be active on ALL social media

2. Have a new blog post up 3-5 times a week (but the more frequent, the better)

3. Be constantly thinking up ideas of what to blog about

But the truth is, most of us don't have the time to do all of that. And if we try to do it all (while maintaining healthy relationships with friends and family, managing school/work, raising children, running errands, cooking food, exercising....basically living a life) we might not put our 100% best into what we're sharing with the world.

Now don't get me wrong, I give major props to all you full-time bloggers! I'm so inspired by you guys and happy that you've found something you love and are doing it! (and making some extra moo-lah, too $$$) ?

But honestly, I haven't even thought much about blogging this past month. I was just so engrossed with school, spending time with family, and working on our Kickstarter project.

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger.

It wasn't until people at school started telling me how much they love my blog that I realized, "Oh no, am I a bad blogger? I haven't blogged in so long. People are counting on me, and I'm letting them down."

Insert mini panic attack.

Five days later, on a surprisingly warm sunny day, I sat outside doing absolutely nothing. It was during that quiet time, where I paused from all of life's demands, that I realized three things:

1. I've developed a love-hate relationship with technology. I don't like always being tied to my phone and having to constantly keep up to date with Twitter, post my life on Instagram and Snapchat, all while growing my Facebook page and remembering to pin to Pinterest. So, I'm adopting a new philosophy:

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there's time.

What if we spent just half the time we do on the internet and social media on something else? What new adventures would we have? What relationships would improve? I'm not saying to swear off of internet and social media completely, but I do believe in being intentional about how we interact with it—directing and using it for good, rather than letting it direct our time.

2. Blogging less doesn't make me a bad blogger. I am going to blog less, but it will be consistent because I do love blogging! I'm aiming for 2-4 posts a week to keep burnout at bay.

3. Blog post ideas are everywhere. You don't have to sit at your desk to make a list of blog post ideas. The best ones seem to hit you when you're taking a walk, talking with a friend, listening to a lecture, or just observing people in the street. Those ideas tend to be the most unique as well.

Attempt to live life first; make online updates an echo of that when there’s time. Blogging less doesn't make you a bad blogger.

I don't regret not blogging for a month. I feel like I've come out of my break refreshed with a new outlook, and that makes me excited! Frequent blogging doesn't make you a good blogger. Being your authentic self, sharing ideas, encouraging others to grow and learn—that's my definition of good blogging.

So, if my updates seem quiet online, it's because I'm engrossed in simply living. ✌️

What about you? I want to hear your thoughts! How often do you blog? Do you feel like it's the right frequency for you?

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More Life, Less Rush

More life, less rush. #simplicity Today's post is a quickie but it's something I really wanted to share with you guys. This past Saturday was my birthday (yay!!!!) and I turned 20 :) One of the items on my 101 in 1001 list is to write a letter to myself to open when I turn 30. As I was contemplating what to write to 30-year-old Brittany, I realized a funny thing about birthdays.

Growing up, I was always wanting to be older. I couldn't wait to be 14, then 16, then 18, then 20. Now I find myself longing for the day I'm 22 and out of college. But looking back, I realize how fast my teenage years seemed to go by. Even now, I feel like I'm rushing through life, trying to get things done so I can move on to the next part. Where did enjoying the simple moments of life go? Do they only belong on Tumblr photos?

These thoughts caused me some lack of sleep last night because I long to live a simple and authentic life full of meaning, as do many of you. So what can we do to change this?

One, realize that you aren't required to hustle.

[Tweet "You are not required to hustle 24/7."]

While hustling can be a good thing (get that dream business started!), many times it can cause us to feel overwhelmed and overworked. Don't let hustling cause the quality of your work to decline or cause you to not be present in everyday moments.

Thriving and being successful isn't just tied to how hard we work, it's tied to our own definition of those words. Don't let others tell you what you need to do to be successful. You're doing just fine at your own pace. There's no need to rush through life.

Two, sometimes we get so focused on 'what could be', that we forget what is right in front of us.

We're constantly looking forward to what's next, always dreaming of the future. While I do believe that having big dreams is important and that we should work really hard to make them come true, sometimes we let those dreams cause us to believe that our current life is boring in comparison when it really isn't. The idea of the perfect life overshadows the beautiful life we're living right now.

So this is what I want to encourage you to do today, and every day to come:

Be content with where you are in this moment.

Whether you're still in school, moving across the country, getting married, starting a business, or welcoming a new baby, take 5 minutes each day to simply pause and thank God for the life He's blessed you with.

Life will always be messy. But it's your beautiful mess.

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20 Ideas for a Digital Detox

We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

The internet brings a strange paradox. At the same speed it connects us around the world, it often seems to isolate us from real-life relationships. We can Google answers, have an app direct us around town, and talk to multiple people at one time.

We are strangely captivated by our smartphones and other devices. It's increasingly hard to simply sit and wait and focus on one thing. To us, waiting has become wasting.

There are many things to unlearn in order to develop a new appreciation for real-life experiences. We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

My hope is that you'll join me in intentionally cutting back on technology and focus on the simple things in life that are often overlooked.

20 Ideas for a Digital Detox

1. Take advantage of the opportunity to experience something new. If you're not used to going without technology, it can be very difficult to start because you don't know what to do with your time. So try this. Before you attempt a digital detox, make a list of activities you can do/want to try that don't require the internet or your phone. Keep that list handy for when your "bored".

2. Download an app that tracks how much you use your phone and force you off your device once you've reached a limit. Moment is a great iPhone and iPad app, while QualityTime is perfect for Android.

3. If you have a Mac, download SelfControl. It lets you block distracting websites and anything else on the Internet you choose. Just set a period of time to block and click "Start." Until that timer expires, you will be unable to access those sites – even if you restart your computer or delete the application.

4. Step away from your phone – and give clean water to children in need. The UNICEF Tap Project encourages you to stop texting, emailing, calling, and using social media on your phone to help provide clean, safe water for children around the world. The longer you go without touching your phone, the more clean water will be given to children in need.

5. Set aside half a day, or even a whole day, once or twice a month where you deliberately disconnect in order to focus on what is important to you.

6. Can't do a whole day without just yet? Try it for an hour or two each day then. Put your phone in flight mode and turn your internet connection off. You will be amazed at how productive you'll be!

7. In the morning, go online only after you have had devotions and only after you've taken time to decide what you need to do for the day. This way God and you determine your agenda, not incoming urgent emails.

We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

8. When you're on the train, bus, or passenger seat, keep your phone in your pocket or bag.

9. Delete the app you're most addicted to for a week. After the week is up, re-evaluate if you really need it. Who knows? Maybe you'll have even forgotten you deleted it!

10. Take the weekend off from replying to emails! Chances are you don't actually need to respond until "normal" business hours on Monday morning. So if you run your own business (or even if your blog is your business) give yourself a work break and reply to emails later. It's the weekend after all!

11. Check your emails only during restricted periods during the day, such as once in the morning, once at lunchtime, and once in the afternoon.

12. Charge your phone at night so that it's full in the morning. Once your phone runs out of battery during the day, don't recharge it until 2 hours before bedtime. (This way you have an hour to check any messages or calls before putting it away for the evening.)

13. In the hour before you go to sleep, put away your computer and phone and read a book or talk with your spouse instead!

14. Cut down on the number of times a day you check Facebook and other social media. Most of the time, we check it because we're bored. Go outside, work on a project, read, or call one of those Facebook friends instead.

15. Another way to cut down on the social media checking is to leave your notifications be. Once you post something, leave it at that. No need to double and then triple check your "like" count on your Instagram photo or obsessing over how many times your post on Twitter was retweeted or favorited. Just check it later that day.

16. Or just simply turn off notifications and alerts!

We deliberately need to disengage from things that crowd our life, clutter our relationships, and isolate us from each other. We need to digitally detox.

17. Be present. Make a rule that you won't check your phone at restaurants or when in the presence of others. Learn to put the smartphone down and give people your full attention.

18. Even better. No phones at the dinner table.

19. Stop walking and checking your phone! There are so many things you miss by constantly looking down, not to mention it's the easiest way to drop and shatter your phone. Looking up every once in a while is a great way to experience the world – and keep your phone in one piece.

20. Leave your phone in your pocket during even the most awe-inspiring experiences. We all know that sunsets and sunrises are beautiful, so enjoy it instead of taking a picture. There will be many more of them to come.


I hope you'll be inspired to try some of these ideas! The one I'm most excited to try is the no walking and phone checking. Hopefully I'll be able to enjoy what's around me more this way!

How do you plan to digitally detox? Have you tried it before? Was it easy or hard for you?

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8 Ways to Make a Habit of Waking Up Early

8 Tips to Make a Habit of Waking Up Early I'm so excited to have Kayla Matthews on the blog today to share some her tips for getting up earlier! She's a productivity and time management blogger who writes for Lifehack and The Huffington Post. Her blog, Productivity Theory, is chock full of useful tips and ideas. I'm excited to use these ideas in real life, because waking up early is one thing I really want to begin doing. So be sure to leave her some feedback on what you all think – she's pretty awesome!


The phrase “the early bird gets the worm” can be annoying to those who live for the long evening hours. The excuses for getting up late are too numerous to tell, but the one reality that all late people relate to is this: Unless you are a late person, you don’t get it.

For some, it doesn’t even matter what time the alarm clock goes off. It could go off at 3 a.m. and it still wouldn’t mean punching the timecard early.

Well, late people, it’s hard to wake up early and be on time. There are a lot of benefits to seeing the sunrise.

See what the other half of the population sees, and try the world of early rising. Here’s how to make a habit of waking up early:

  1. Find Something to Be Excited About

Dreading the early morning comes from dreading what the day holds. If you aren’t excited about what you’ll be doing the next day, come up with some things you know you’ll enjoy. This could be a special trip to your local coffee shop or a really great breakfast sandwich. Even something as simple as a new shampoo can make taking a shower something to look forward to.

  1. Open the Blinds

Rising with the sun may seem like a thing of the past, but if waking up early is important to you, try opening the blinds. The natural sunlight will stream through the window and begin to brighten your morning, making it easier to open your eyes.

  1. Close Down the Screens an Hour before Bed

An hour before you get ready to hit the pillow, close down the computer and tablet screens, which can overstimulate the mind and make your sleep lest restful. Instead, find something relaxing to do to wind down the day. Try a warm bath or reading a book as part of your bedtime routine.

  1. Set an Alarm that’s Enjoyable

This is a really tough one to do. However, by choosing a song that you love or that is meaningful to you as your morning alarm, you’ll associate those good feelings the song provokes with waking up.

  1. Don’t Hit the Snooze Button

Seriously. Just don’t. This may be the hardest bad habit to overcome, but actually getting up when the alarm goes off is the key to rising early.

  1. Find Someone Who Will Keep You Accountable

Habits are hard enough to form on your own, so find someone you trust who will help you reach your goal. This may be a person who already enjoys getting up early, or it may be a friend or family member who also wants to become a morning person. Whoever is chosen, lay out the strategy and make sure you are both on the same page.

  1. Write Down Your to-Dos the Night Before

Sleep often gets disrupted when the to-dos for the next day keep bombarding your thoughts. When sleep isn’t restful, there’s no way getting up early is going to be pleasant. Instead of mentally making a list of everything that has to get done tomorrow, try writing it all down today. Doing this will help wipe out the anxiety associated with too many tasks to do.

  1. Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day, Even on the Weekends

The human body is wired like a clock and appreciates the order that waking up at the same time brings. Waking up at the same time every day is beneficial in many ways, including setting your circadian rhythm and improving your productivity. Once you’ve established a sleep pattern, try keeping it as close to the same schedule as possible. Your body will thank you.

Waking up early can boost productivity and can clear the mind to help deal with any potential issues that may arise during the day. In fact, the benefits of waking up early far outweigh the consequences of sleeping in late.

So try these tips to start your journey to early rising today.

Kayla Matthews

Kayla Matthews is a productivity blogger at ProductivityTheory.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter to read all of her latest posts!

Image by SplitShire

Join the Summer Refresh Challenge

Join the #SummerRefreshChallenge! FREE goal sheets and ideas to help you live authentically. I'm a firm believer in living life authentically and with purpose. Over the past year I've found that there is joy in simplicity. It brings balance, freedom, and happiness. Taking the time to simplify your life can really make a difference in your mood, productivity, and health.

That's why I created the #SummerRefreshChallenge. Now is the time to take that step and begin to refresh your life. Summer is the perfect time to chase your dreams and make them a reality.

The challenge itself is very flexible and allows you to tailor it to fit your needs and goals. Here's how it works:

  1. I've created a list of 34 challenges for you to complete this summer (I'm doing it too!).
  2. Take out your calendar and write in what activity you'll do on what day. Feel free to add your own summer goals as well!
  3. Down below you'll find a link for FREE goal cards to help you accomplish harder, more long term goals such as improving your photography skills or listing which Ted Talks you'd like to watch. I've filled in two goal sheets as examples that you can use and provided four more blank ones. Print out as many as you need!
  4. Share your experiences! If you tweet or Instagram photos or stories about your goals, use the hashtag #SummerRefreshChallenge. Other participants can find, follow, like, and encourage you as the summer progresses.
  5. Have fun! This is a challenge that I hope will encourage and inspire you to live life with purpose.

Throughout the summer, I'll be focusing many of my blog posts around the Refresh Challenge, meaning, I will write posts on things like how to pack the perfect picnic, or provide a list of my favorite inspirational books.

So download the PDF of the challenges (which have hyperlinks on some challenges to provide you with some inspiration) as well as the goal cards below! I hope you have fun!

DOWNLOAD THE CHALLENGES AND GOAL CARDS HERE

Are you going to participate? What other challenges will you try this summer?

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10 Things to Stop Wasting Time On

Stop wasting time on things that don't matter.

When thinking about ways to live life authentically and with purpose, a few things come to mind. One, everything you do should have a positive effect on your life, and two, you should stop wasting time on things that don't. Here are some things to consider eliminating from your life:

Distractions that keep you from spending time with those you love

We spend so much time around those we love, but how much of that time is spent spending quality time with them? Too often we're on our phone rather than engaging in conversation. Pay attention to the little things. Go for long walks. Enjoy great conversations. Count your blessings. Simply be together.

Constant busyness

Don't worry if everything doesn't happen right on schedule. While working and being productive is great, constant busyness can cause you to feel overwhelmed and stressed. Be kind to yourself and schedule in some downtime a few times a day to rest and recharge.

Needless drama

Stay away from that nonsense, because it never does anyone any good.

Social comparison

I once heard it said that you could spend a lifetime worrying about the things others have, but it wouldn't gain you anything. Be grateful for what you have.

Worrying about what other's think

Because it doesn't matter! If it makes you happy, who cares what they think? You'll find that you're much more happier when you live your life without running it by anyone else first.

One-sided friendships

Don't put time and energy into something that doesn't help you become the best version of yourself – that includes friends. Friendship is a two-way street. If you're the only one who cares about the friendship, maybe it's time to let it go.

Fad diets

A healthy body is a happy body. Quit those fad diets and cultivate the habit of a healthy lifestyle. Eat more fruits and veggies, cut back on those cheesy dishes, improve your flexibility, and workout a few times a week!

Need some help getting started? Check out these apps: SWORKIT, Yoga Studio, and MyFitnessPal.

People who aren't supportive of your goals and dreams

Don't let negative people and their opinions put a damper on your hopes and dreams. You can prove them wrong! Find support from those who are willing to help you reach those goals.

Hateful Thoughts

Don't dwell on hateful thoughts. Make kindness a daily ritual, even to those who are rude to you. Who knows? Maybe your actions will inspire them to be kind!

Procrastinating

Just do it already.

What else should we stop wasting time on?

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Time to Refresh Your Life

Come join the Summer Refresh Challenge to get a fresh start on being the best you possible. May has always been one of my favorite months. Maybe it's because it's a tease of summer, or that flowers are blooming on every corner. Maybe it's because school is wrapping up and we can finally relish being in the great outdoors again after a long winter.

In a way, May is a lot like January. Yes, the temperatures are different, but May can give you that sense of a fresh start, just like the New Year does.

When summer begins, daily routines are different. There are vacations, days off from work, barbeques, picnics, festivals, fairs, and so much more. May is the beginning of a season that is full of possibilities.

I realize that I have been absent from this space for the past few weeks. At first, it was due to finals and a crazy schedule. Then I tried to blame it on a lack of inspiration. But what began unintentional quickly became an intentional step back.

I purposely decided to take some time off from the blogging world to focus more on what's happening right in front of me. I used this time to relax as well as think of all the possibilities ahead. And that got me excited :)

You see, now is the time to take that step and begin to refresh your life. Summer is the perfect time to chase your dreams and make them a reality. And I need your help.

I'm planning on creating a Summer Refresh Challenge to help you get where you want to be. Do you want to simplify your life, but needs small, practical steps to help you get started? Do you want to capture more memories through your camera, but don't know what or how to photograph? Do you want to find your inner creative and need prompts to get those creative juices flowing? The Summer Refresh Challenge will help you do that and more!

So here's where I need your help:

I'd like you to either email, tweet, or comment ideas and things you want to do this summer. Your goals, really. For example:

  • Buy yourself flowers and display them on the table.
  • Complete an Instagram challenge
  • Learn how to streamline your wardrobe
  • Read more inspiring books
  • etc.

I'll create a fun, daily challenge (there will be multiple challenges each day to keep you well rounded and provide you with some flexibility and choice) to help you reach your goals in areas such as Business, Blog, Relationships, Faith, Health, Creativity, Simplicity, etc. I'll also write my blog posts with the intention of providing you with tips to help you complete each task.

So please send me your suggestions on what you'd like to refresh in your life this summer. I'll be posting the challenge on Sunday, June 14 and it will continue for two months, ending on Friday, August 14. I'm personally really excited about this Refresh Challenge.

For now, I'll be slowing getting back into my blogging routine. You can expect around 2-3 blog posts a week until the Summer Refresh Challenge goes out and 3-4 a week for the rest of the summer.

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

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Simplify Your Routine

Simplify your routine by trying these simple things to set you up for a successful week. Tired of waking up to busy and frazzled mornings? Or just wishing your life was a little more streamlined? Sometimes all we need is to change one aspect of our very busy lives to make things easier. Try these easy and quick ways to simplify your routine and make life more manageable.

Let sunshine brighten up your day.

Even if it's a beautiful sunny morning, closed blinds or shades can make you never want to leave your bed. Get a head start on the day! Open the blinds and let natural light stream inside your home to awaken and brighten your spirits.

Find a regular, simplified beauty routine.

Creating a simplified beauty routine can make getting ready less of a hassle. Instead of having 3 lotions to choose from and a drawer full of makeup you hardly use, find your core pieces and keep those only. Your skin will thank you for the simplicity and you'll be looking and feeling your best!

For example: moisturize entire body, wash face with a gentle cleanser, apply SPF moisturizer, concealer, light foundation, blush, a dash of eyebrow color, a simple neutral base to your eyelids, eye-liner, and mascara. Finish with some deodorant and your favorite perfume, and voila!

Pack your lunch at dinnertime.

An easy way to get lunch packed and ready to go in a flash is to use dinner leftovers. As you’re cleaning up dinner the night before, pack or make your lunch. Your morning just got a little more free.

Lay out your outfit in advance.

Get rid of the whole "I don't know what to wear" dilemma and pick out what you're going to wear the night before. Pull out everything you’ll need for your outfit: tops, bottoms, undergarments, accessories, shoes and socks.You can even hang it on a special hook to hold your outfit, stylist-style. This way, you’ll be able to get dressed without having to worry about what to wear.

Plan a menu for the week.

Not only does this save you money, but it helps you use your evening time efficiently. Begin by making an ongoing list of grocery items you've run out of and need to purchase. Then sit down once a week and decide what meal to make for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for every day. Maybe saturdays are pancake days and Friday is pizza night. Great! Schedule that in. Maybe your lunches are last night's leftovers. Perfect! One less meal to make. Add any ingredients you need to your shopping list and get cooking! And don't forget dessert ;)

Give your purse a makeover.

Stop frantically searching the dark depths of your purse just to find your phone, keys, or wallet. Instead, create a system of organization that works for you.

Use bags within your bag and assign each one a category: makeup, snacks/gum, pencils/pens, receipts, chargers, etc.

Dedicate an interior pocket to just your glasses or sunglasses. That way they'll be easily accessible.

Charge electronic devices at night or at the same time each day.

Hate realizing that your phone is going dead, right when you need it? Get into the habit of charging your phone and any other electronic devices at night so that everything is charged and ready to go.

How are you going to use the above tips to simplify your routine?

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20 Small Things to Make Time for Again

A list of 20 Things we should start making time for in our everyday lives. As I look around the world we live in, I find a lot of beauty in the simple things. There are certain things though that I think we should make more time for. Things like spending time with others and taking things slower can change your outlook on life. Here's a list of 20 small things to make time for again:

  1. Smiling at strangers. I've noticed how in most places, people walk by each other on sidewalks without ever acknowledging the other person. Let's change that! It's not hard and it might make someone's day. Give a smile and you just might get one back.
  2. Doing random act of kindness that are greater than holding the door open. Holding the door is a great act of service, but let's make the world a nicer place to live in by doing even more acts of kindness that bring smiles to people's faces.
  3. Spending more time outdoors. With longer days of daylight, nothing invigorates a day like the feeling of sunlight on your face.
  4. Taking the opportunity to be creative. Creativity isn't just for artists and those good at drawing. Everyone can be creative, and the world needs more of it. Start a journal or a scrapbook, or find a new creative routine.
  5. Stretching. Loosening your muscles can help you relax and destress.
  6. Watching the sunset or sunrise. Nothing is more inspirational than nature's canvas. Grab some blankets and pillows and take a drive to a nice lookout to watch the colors blend together.
  7. Writing letters by hand. I'm talking thank you cards, get better soon cards, letters to distant friends and family and even random notes to strangers. Digital communication in this technology driven world is easy and convenient but there’s a huge difference between texting someone you love them and writing a note and leaving it next to their bed.
  8. Genuinely asking people how they are and taking the time to talk to them. We've all fallen into the routine of walking by someone and having a conversation such as "Hey! How are you?" "I'm good, how are you?" "I'm good" "That's great" "See ya!" "Yep, see ya". Really take the time to interact and hold a conversation with someone. You might learn something new!
  9. Turning our phones off. We're so connected these days. While it's great to be able to keep up with distant friends, when you're hanging out with other people in real life, let's learn to not spend all our time documenting whatever we’re doing for social media. It often takes away from the experience itself and decreases personal interaction.
  10. Reading actual books. Nothing can beat the feeling of opening a physical book and getting lost in it's contents. Physical books hold memories and meaning. That coffee stain in the top corner, the scribbled note on the front of the back cover, the worn edges from many years of use. E-books just don't hold the same meaning or carry the same feel.
  11. Spending more time with kids. Children remind you to be joyful and live in simplicity. You can learn a lot of spending time and talking with them. Plus they're cute :)
  12. Getting more sleep. While waking up before your alarm and being able to go back to sleep feels great, going to bed earlier can leave you feeling even more refreshed in the morning. With long summer days, the sun rises before 6 at times. If you sleep in until 11am, you've slept through a lot of the day already. More time = more productivity.
  13. Getting really dressed up for no other reason than just wanting to.
  14. Living with less. Get rid of things you don't need! Physical clutter can clutter up the mind.
  15. Thinking before speaking. We’ve love getting things immediately. Whether it's a response, a text, a call, or a material item we've been wanting, we want it right that second. Let's take time to consider things in more depth and then offer a response.
  16. Exploring your world. Even if you can't make it out of the country, or state even, chances are that there are a bunch of hidden gems around the town you live in. On a sunny afternoon, pack some snacks, hop in your car, and just drive! Make stops along the way to create an adventure you won't forget.
  17. Savoring time to do nothing. Take time for yourself. Go on a walk, sit on the porch, buy yourself flowers. Taking time to simply enjoy life will help you appreciate it more.
  18. Making your health and well-being a priority. Stress is real. Life gets busy. I know. But that doesn't mean that you can put your health on the back burner. Make an effort to eat healthier foods and find little ways to increase the amount of exercise you get each day. You'll enjoy life a lot more when you're healthy enough to do everything you want.
  19. Calling home, just because. Those with a close relationship with their parents know how special it is to spend time talking to those you love. Even if you aren't that close to your parents/siblings/grandparents, take time to call and say hello.
  20. Not caring what others think of you. Be yourself. You don't have to follow the crowd. Life would be boring if we always did what everyone else does. Don't be afraid to be different.

What else do you think we should spend more time doing?

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7 Ways to Give Back while Simplifying Your Life

What if you could live a simpler life–while giving back at the same time? I challenge you to make the best of every situation and strive to live an eco-friendly, simple lifestyle.There's a lot of talk about simplicity and living a minimalistic lifestyle. There are numerous lists on the internet of ways to simplify your life. But, what if you could live a simpler life–while giving back at the same time? I challenge you to make the best of every situation and strive to live an eco-friendly, simple lifestyle. [Tweet "What if you could live a simpler life–while giving back at the same time? Here are 7 ways to do so."]

Step away from your phone – and give clean water to children in need.

The UNICEF Tap Project encourages you to stop texting, emailing, calling, and using social media on your phone to help provide clean, safe water for children around the world. The longer you go without touching your phone, the more clean water will be given to children in need. Just think, you'll be simplifying your life by being less dependent on technology all while providing clean water for children. It's a win-win!

UNICEF Tap Project

Donate your clothes – and help kids rise up with education.

thredUp* is an online consignment shop that sells popular brands at discounts of up to 90%! Even better, they provide you with a Clean Out bag to send your gently used clothing items in exchange for cash, for FREE. They'll pay you up to 80% of the resale value, and items that aren't accepted go to charitable partners or textile recycling companies. It doesn't end there. thredUP* will also donate a portion of proceeds from every thredUP bag to support the development of high-quality teachers in schools through Teach For America.

*signing up through this referral link will give you (and me) $10 to spend on thredUp!

Get rid of junk mail (easily) – and cut down on paper waste.

PaperKarma is the easiest way to eliminate junk mail. Simply snap a photo of the piece of mail and they'll figure out what it is and instantly submit a request to stop the mailing on your behalf. By doing so, you'll be saving trees and simplifying your mailbox.

Be creative – and plant a tree.

Baron Fig has created the ultimate creative notebook. 192 acid-free pages open completely flat for effective use. The dimensions are wider than traditional notebooks, making it more useful for drawings. And, for every Confidant notebook purchased, they will donate seeds to plant a tree. Even the smallest thing can make positive change within the creative lifestyle.

Baron Fig Plants Trees

Reuse shopping bags – and reduce emissions and waste.

Did you know that more than one billion single-use plastic bags are handed to consumers each day in the U.S. and it takes a 15-year-old tree to produce just 700 paper grocery bags? Paper or plastic is no longer the question. Reusing shopping bags significantly reduces both emissions and waste. Purchase one for a few cents or up to a dollar at participating retailers (they usually donate the proceeds of the bags to charities as well).

Donate your jewelry – and help homeless pets.

Unwanted jewelry? Donate it to Indigo Rescue and receive a tax receipt and the satisfaction of knowing that your your jewelry donation is helping save homeless animals.

Learn more on how to live a purposeful life – and end sex trafficking.

One of the best publications ever, Darling Magazine's mission is to encourage us, as women, to embody virtue, wit, modesty, wisdom, and love. The articles in each issue (published every four months) show how to practically live a life of purpose and intention. Even better, Darling is partnering with International Justice Mission and will donate a portion of proceeds from magazine sales specifically for the work being done to end sex trafficking in the Dominican Republic.

What other ways can you give back while simplifying your life?

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100 Things to Throw Away

The first step to minimalism is reducing clutter in your home! Many people dismiss the idea of simplifying or minimizing their life because they don't know where to begin. Truth is, the concept of minimalism isn't to own a certain number of items or get rid of all your favorite belongings; it's living with enough to be content and getting rid of unnecessary clutter.

Taking the first step to owning less isn't difficult. Begin by simply reducing the excess things in your home. For example, you need towels so you will never remove them completely—but you could simplify your life by reducing the number of towels you own.

You can even go a step further and recycle, donate, or trash items. I'm working on doing this in my own life (I have wayyyy to much junk!) and have come up with a list of 100 items you can most likely do without. Try getting rid of 10 items a week and before you know it, you will have made significant progress in your journey towards a more simplified life.

100 Things to Throw Away

  1. Old makeup/ones that you don't use much
  2. Old nail polish
  3. Movies you don't watch anymore
  4. Old coupons/flyers
  5. Old manuals to electronics
  6. Ticket stubs
  7. Takeout menus
  8. Cards given to you with no sentimental value
  9. Socks with holes
  10. Old t-shirts/ones you were given for free that you don't wear
  11. Dried flowers/dead leaves from house plants
  12. Old planners
  13. Old notebooks
  14. Unsubscribe from email subscriptions you don't absolutely love
  15. Expired food
  16. Old/broken phone cases
  17. Ripped denim
  18. Travel brochures
  19. Old shopping catalogs
  20. Old magazines
  21. Boxes that you aren't using to store anything in
  22. Purses you don't use
  23. Old shoes
  24. Empty bottles of
  25. Broken necklaces
  26. The other half of a missing earring
  27. Clothes that don't fit you right now
  28. Old/unused/broken hangers
  29. CD's
  30. Receipts you don't need
  31. Old bills
  32. Empty perfume bottles
  33. One of anything you duplicates of
  34. Old invitations
  35. Outdated electronics
  36. Piles of plastic grocery bags
  37. Old paint
  38. Neglected projects you won't get around to finishing
  39. Rarely used kitchen gadgets
  40. Extra buttons
  41. Soap/shampoo/conditioner from hotel rooms
  42. Tissue paper/gift bags/bows that you're going to "reuse"
  43. Hair accessories you don't use
  44. Old bras
  45. Ripped up pet toys
  46. Stockings with runs
  47. Unused vases
  48. Extra tupperware containers (they're reusable!)
  49. Unused stationery, stickers, sticky notes
  50. Last year's calendar
  51. Business cards from places you don't need
  52. Books you have already read
  53. Chopsticks from restaurants (if you use them a lot, buy a reusable pair!)
  54. Pencils where the eraser doesn't work
  55. Dried out pens
  56. Extra shoelaces
  57. Last years Christmas cards (both yours and ones you received)
  58. Cardboard food boxes
  59. Old dish sponge
  60. Hair products you don't use (you don't need 3 different types of shampoo)
  61. Board games with missing pieces
  62. Old homework
  63. Textbooks from classes you're finished with
  64. Extra sets of headphones
  65. That bag of gems/rocks you got from a tourist spot
  66. Old prescription glasses
  67. Broken sunglasses
  68. Worn out flip-flops
  69. Loyalty cards you don't use
  70. Free samples
  71. Posters you don't display
  72. Excess decks of cards
  73. Phone books
  74. Magnets
  75. Extra decorative pillows
  76. Paper plates
  77. Plastic forks/knives/spoons
  78. Empty shoeboxes
  79. Lanyards/keychains you don't use
  80. Puzzle books
  81. Broken Christmas lights
  82. Ornaments that have no sentimental meaning
  83. Old contact lens cases
  84. Extra bubble wrap
  85. Crafting supplies you bought for a project but don't use anymore
  86. Plastic water bottles (buy a reusable one!)
  87. Belts you don't like
  88. Hats you don't wear
  89. Puzzles with missing pieces
  90. Old medication
  91. The other half of a missing mitten/sock
  92. Used/ripped envelopes
  93. Random containers/jars
  94. Extra matchbooks
  95. Chip clips
  96. Old, raggy towels
  97. Old school projects
  98. Small pieces of scrap paper/ribbon/string
  99. Notes from your middle school lover
  100. Chapstick

What else would you add to the list?

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A Call for Simplicity

A Call for Simplicity Simplicity and minimalism are becoming hot topics in today's society. People feel the need to downsize in order to feel less frazzled. That's a good thing! Personally, I'm beginning the journey to minimalism–using baby steps. I find it difficult to jump headfirst into a new lifestyle. If you're like me, here are a few small steps you can take to begin to simplify your life.

1. Possessions

If you feel the need to begin simplifying your life, eliminating the amount of things you own is a great place to start. Choose a finite number of items to get rid of (perhaps 20, 50, or 100—it’s easier than you may think), or choose to purge 10 items from each room in your house. A few places to consider:

  • Your closet (creating a capsule wardrobe is a great idea!)
  • Your desk (do you really need another set of pens?)
  • Your beauty items (find a hair and makeup routine and keep only items that you use, no extras)
  • Your "collections" (throw away old nail polish and consider donating any movies of books you don't need to watch anymore)
  • Paper items (trash any old coupons/flyers and cut out the pages you want to keep from magazines)

2. Time

Sometimes we give priority to less important tasks and people over those we really should care about. Try this exercise:

First, make a list of everything you need to do in one day. My list looks something like: school, homework, work, blogging, time with Caleb, time with friends, cooking, cleaning, relaxation.

Second, prioritize that list. For me, spending time with Caleb is number one, then important things like school, homework, and work come next.

Next, honestly decide if you can fit all those events into a normal day. I realized at the beginning of this year that I tried to fit too much into my days. How did I fix that? I began to say no to things.

Then, schedule out your ideal day, giving more time to things more important and less time to tasks that aren't.

3. Attention

In a world where multi-tasking is considered normal, even admired, people still aren’t getting stuff done as efficiently as they could. Simplify your to-do list by learning to single-task.

  • Focus on having only one tab open at a time so you can truly engage with what you’re reading and learning. (This is hard for me. I currently have 22 tabs open…)
  • Keep your desktop clean, clear, and organized so that you aren’t distracted or stressed out throughout the day.
  • Avoid distractions by turning off the TV, putting your phone away from sight, and closing the door.
  • Prioritize by focusing on what is most important first and moving to the next task as you complete them.

3. Nature

Nature naturally makes you feel good :) If you feel overwhelmed, spend some time outdoors. Take a walk, ride on a bike trail, eat dinner on the deck/patio, let nature inspire you!

4. Technology

Sometimes it feels like technology complicates our lives rather than simplifying it. But it doesn't have to be that way! Monitor the amount of time per day that you're on your phone, tablet, or computer (not counting work) and decide how much you can reduce your usage and still be satisfied. Even simple tasks like deleting emails can take up a lot of useful time. Take the time to unenroll yourself from campaigns or sign up for a service such as Unroll.me to clear out any unnessary email clutter.

What about you? Have you considered living a more minimalistic lifestyle?

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P.S. 8 Ways to Simplify Your Life!

8 Ways to Simplify Your Life

This list of 8 things to do to simplify your life today will help you begin living a happier, more balanced lifestyle.

There is joy in simplicity. It brings balance, freedom, and happiness. Simplifying your life can really make a difference in your mood, productivity, and health. I'm striving to learn to live with less. This list of 8 things to do to simplify your life today will help you begin living a happier, more balanced lifestyle.

Single-Task

In a world where multi-tasking is considered normal, even admired, people still aren't getting stuff done as efficiently as they could. Simplify your to-do list by learning to single-task. Handle one task at a time. Do it well. And when it is complete, move on to the next. Here are a few tips to help you become the master at single-tasking:

  • Focus on having only one tab open at a time so you can truly engage with what you're reading and learning. (This is hard for me. I currently have 22 tabs open...)
  • Keep your desktop clean, clear, and organized so that you aren't distracted or stressed out throughout the day.
  • Avoid distractions by turning off the TV, putting your phone away from sight, and closing the door.
  • Prioritize by focusing on what is most important first and moving to the next task as you complete them.

Evaluate Your Commitments

Take a minute to look at everything you're committed to each month and write it down. Work, family, friends, personal projects, everything. What's most important to you? Highlight those things and consider what can be dropped from that list.

Say No

This is the one tip that can help you cut out 99% of the events and tasks that clutter your life. Release yourself from time commitments. It's ok to say no. Opportunities will come and go, and there will always be more.

Spend Less Time Online

Media affects your life more than you think. It has a great impact on your attitude and outlook and can dominate your life if you let it. To truly appreciate the influence of media in today's world, you need to take a break from it. Step back and turn it off. Your mind will be refreshed and ready to take a new look at what there is to offer.

Be Mindful of What You Say

Use fewer words and keep your speech plain and honest. Mean what you say. Avoid gossip and anything that adds unnecessary drama to your life.

Stay Out of Debt

Debt adds stress to your life, and that stress won't be gone until the debt is gone. Start today. Do what you got to do to get out from under its weight. And once your are free from debt, be mindful of your purchases.

Nurture Real Life Relationships

Social media puts a real dent in real life correspondence. Facebook, Instagram, and texting clutter your life with surface information about others. Go meet with a friend in real life and talk with them face to face. Take a moment to slow down and cherish the relationships you have with others.

Declutter Weekly

Every week set aside some time and choose one thing to declutter in your life. Take a look at the things you own, your wardrobe, your pantry, your papers, your computer files, emails, and apps on your phone. Remove the things that are just adding instead of simplifying.

What are some of your tips for simplifing your lifestyle? 

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P.S. I made a 101 in 1001 list! Do you have one?