4 Ways to Address Your Anxieties About Starting a Family

4 Ways to Address Anxieties about Starting a Family Wow, you guys, have I missed blogging! This unexpected blog break went longer than I anticipated. These past few months have been filled with wedding planning and enjoying the summer with my family, but I can't wait to get back into a regular blog routine. Today, I'm super excited to have Kayla Matthews from Productivity Theory sharing some great ways to address anxieties about starting a family. Caleb and I fall into the absolutely-we-want-children category, but I have some friends who are still on the fence. Undecided or not, these four tactics are a must when it comes to deciding to start a family. Be sure to leave some comments on what you all think!

It seems like there are two types of couples in the world: Couples who are absolutely sure they want children and couples who are absolutely sure they do not want kids. In reality, there’s also the category of couples who can’t decide whether or not they want kids.

It makes sense to be in the undecided category. Children can simultaneously be a tremendous blessing and a heavy burden. Child-rearing is not for everyone. There are many concerns that need to be addressed before you take the jump and decide to start a family. Everything from financial planning to discipline techniques will cross your mind as you consider having kids. However, there are ways to confront and dispel your anxieties. If you don’t know whether or not you should start a family, start by addressing your concerns with these four tactics.

1. Involve Your Partner

You definitely must involve your partner in your decision making process. If you are on the fence about having kids, you need to see where his feelings lie. He may surprise you and be totally on board with having kids, or maybe he has no desire whatsoever. If you haven’t had the “when are we having babies” conversation yet, the time is now!

As soon as you figure out what your partner wants, or if he even knows what he wants, the process will be a little easier. Plan your family together. Talk through all of your anxieties. Is this the right time for you? Will there ever be a right time? Discuss what frightens you about children and discuss what excites you about having kids. Talk about what you want your lives to look like in 10 years. Are there kids in the picture? Are you happily married and childless? If you are undecided, a long conversation about what you and your partner want is just what you need.

Also, before you start a family, you need to be sure that your relationship with your partner is in a healthy place. Plan practical ways to nurture your marriage while raising children. If there are any signs of abuse, be it verbal, emotional or physical, you cannot have children. An abusive environment is not a safe place for babies and it’s certainly not safe for the person taking the abuse. Put your relationship’s health first before considering having children.

2. Observe Your Friends With Kids

Chances are strong that you have good friends who already started their families. They may absolutely love being parents. Good for them! You already know their outward opinions. What you need to do is have an open and raw conversation with them.

What is parenthood really like? When will you get past the sleepless nights and, really, how bad is potty-training? They will probably say the kids are worth all of it. Of course it is worth it for those parents because they truly love their kids. Be sure to push them to be honest. What’s worth it to them may not be worth it to you.

Don’t just talk to those friends of yours. Observe them. Do they seem happy overall? Do they seem run down, worn out and just plain tired? To an extent, these are symptoms of parenthood, but are you willing to go through that?

3. Plan Financially

Do some smart financial planning as you consider starting a family. A huge anxiety for couples who can’t decide if they want kids is the financial burden. A child costs a lot of money to raise. A 2010 USDA report on Expenditures on Children by Families says that it can cost anywhere from $8,480 to $23,690, depending on the age of the child. Ask yourself if you are in a good financial position to raise a child. Do you want to raise a family on one income or two? Plan carefully and use logic and reason to think through this concern.

4. Do Your Research

Think about all of the fears you harbor about having a baby. Labor, long nights with no sleep, breastfeeding and even diaper-changing might discourage you from starting a family. Those things are difficult to handle, but certainly not impossible. Read books, follow mommy blogs and ask for advice.

You don’t have to be an expert before you have a baby. There are plenty of resources out there for parents. The internet has everything you need to make an informed decision about even the most specific events. For example, this video checklist tells new parents everything they should consider for their child’s first road trip. You can’t get much more specific than that!

If you’re undecided, someday you’ll need to make a decision. However, there’s nothing wrong with taking the time you need to research, plan and carefully consider starting a family!

What about you? Do you want to start a family? Or are you still on the fence?

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 Viktor Hanacek

Getting Active This Spring

Tips for getting active this spring. Springtime is finally here! Seeing the cherry blossoms blooming and watching the grass turn green make my heart leap for joy! :) There's just something about the warmer weather, sunshine and longer days that gives me an energy boost.

I was talking with Caleb the other day on ways we can make exercising a habit. One thing we've decided to do is Crossfit workouts at home (because joining a Crossfit box is expensive). I've also decided to go to the Christian yoga studio across the street a few times a week (yes, there's a Christian yoga studio!).

As we were talking, I realized that getting active really isn't that hard. With a few basic tools, the long-awaited springtime can be full of fitness and fun. Will you join me? :)

Tips for getting active this spring.

Yoga pants: c/o Yoga Outlet Athletic jacket: Nike [similar] Shoes: Nike [similar] Water bottle: BKR

Tools for getting active this spring

A sense of adventure

Keep your eyes open and you may discover that there are opportunities for getting active right in front of you. Do you drive past a park, mountain, or path every day without a glance? Try stopping the car and exploring the area; you may discover some new favorite spaces. Do you reflexively get behind the wheel to do an errand? Try walking there; it may take longer but you will feel great when you return.

Comfortable yoga pants

Yoga pants are my go-to if I'm doing anything active, whether I'm going on a bike ride, practicing some yoga, or simply running errands on a Sunday morning. Not only are they comfortable, but they come in some pretty cute and flattering styles too!

Supportive shoes

Wearing the right shoes while you're doing anything active is important to avoid any joint or back pain. Keep in mind that not all shoes are created equal; the activities that you will be doing matter. Running shoes are not the same as trail hiking shoes, and you want to be sure you give your feet the best shot at supporting your body through your springtime activities.


Water, water, water; staying hydrated is key to feeling great as your activity increases and the temperature rises. Carry a reusable water bottle with you to make sure you always have something to drink.

"Getting Active" bucket list

Sometimes the hardest thing about getting active is finding the motivation to do so. One way to get encouraged is to create a "Getting Active" bucket list for the spring/summer. Here's a snippet of mine:

  • Go on a walk around the block after dinner every day
  • Do some spring planting
  • Ride bike on 5 different trails around the state
  • Play frisbee golf with friends
  • Take a yoga or pilates class
  • Do yoga every morning outside
  • Walk around the local zoo or aquarium
  • Bike to the beach instead of driving
  • Play with the neighbor kids outside
  • Rock climb
  • Play tennis with my sister

Something to remember as you're making your "Getting Active" bucket list: Do what you love. If you are not a fan of going to the gym, why go? I'm not big into running, so I didn't put that on my list. I considered training for a 5k that's in the fall, but I decided against it. Why? Not because I'm lazy. Because I simply don't enjoy running. So do what you love. And soon, you'll be checking off items on that bucket list of yours in a snap ;)

Tips for getting active this spring.

What about you? What's on your "Getting Active" bucket list? How do you stay active every day?

Fresh Thyme Farmers Market + Skin Care Giveaway


*I was compensated with free products from Fresh Thyme to use in this giveaway*

Fresh. Healthy. Natural. Organic.

Those words are big in today's society. It seems like everyone is jumping on the healthy bandwagon...and that's a great thing! I'm all about eating organic and incorporating more fresh fruits and vegetables in our diets.

Last week I had the opportunity to check out a new store here in Lincoln called Fresh Thyme Farmers Market and just had to share my thoughts with you. At first I thought it was just another expensive health food store, but boy was I wrong!

Think Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.

Now imagine they both met and had a baby.

That’s Fresh Thyme.

It's relatively cheap, with an extensive produce department with organic and local fruits and vegetables, a natural meat department, healthy deli foods, bakery goods, 400 bulk food bins, dairy and frozen, and health supplement products.

Even better, they carry "normal" foods as well, such as Pillsbury biscuits, Honey Nut Cheerios, and Campbell's Soup cans. What's not to love?

I visited the store twice in it's opening week, and both times the parking lot was so crowded I had to park across the street at Barnes and Noble and walk over. People love this place! Right now, Fresh Thyme is primarily in the Midwest, but it is rapidly opening new stores. I highly recommend checking out if there's a store near you!

Another thing I love about Fresh Thyme is that their body care section is full of natural products. From paraben-free lotions, natural makeup and facial care products, to fragrance-free shampoos and aluminum-free deodorant, all your skin essentials are on their shelves. This is definitely my new go-to grocery store.

And so, to celebrate healthy living and Fresh Thyme new stores, I have an amazing giveaway for all of you! :)

MyChelle Dermaceuticals skincare set AND a $25 gift card to Fresh Thyme Farmers Market!

The set includes:

  • Perfect C Serum, an ultra-nourishing serum that helps brighten and tighten your skin, improving overall skin tone.
  • Remarkable Retinal Serum to help fight fine wrinkles around your eyes! The skin around your eye is thinner, more sensitive, and has fewer oil and water glands, so it needs more moisturization. It's never too early to start anti-aging products. I'm 20 and I use an eye cream at night. Since we're constantly smiling (because we're happy), it causes the skin to crease repetitively, which eventually leads to wrinkles over time. So, the earlier you start using an eye serum or cream, the less fine lines you'll notice later down the road.
  • Sun Shield SPF 28, an environmentally safe, full spectrum, translucent daily UVA/UVB sun protection that contains soothing aloe to rehydrate your skin and calm sun-induced irritation. Perfect for all those trips to the beach!

The set also comes in a cute little MyChelle cosmetics bag. It's the perfect size for traveling!

MyChelle Dermaceuticals is just one of the many natural product lines Fresh Thyme carries. This specific skin care set is worth $110! And you just might win it! :)

Giveaway ends 2/23 at midnight (CST) and is only open to residents of the US and Canada.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you ever been to Fresh Thyme?


How to Get Out of Any Rut and Stay Inspired

Here are 10 strategies you can use to stay inspired when you feel down. Perhaps they can help you through rough times. I hope you all had a great Christmas spent with those you love :) I've been enjoying every minute of being home. As we gear up for a new year (already?!), sometimes we need a little push to get and stay inspired. Giving us some amazing advice to do so today is blogger Kayla Matthews from Productivity Theory. She's guest posted on the blog before, sharing great tips for getting in the habit of getting up earlier and making time for hobbies while working full time. Check them out!

If you’ve ever found yourself in one of life’s ruts, you know it can be somewhat difficult to bounce back to your normal, happy self. Maybe you’ve just been stressed at work or have been dealing with additional responsibilities in your personal life. Whatever it is, there’s no rut a positive attitude and bit of inspirational material can’t fix!

Here are 10 strategies you can use to stay inspired when you feel down. Perhaps they can help you through those rough times.

1. Replace Bad Thoughts With Good Ones

Every time you catch yourself thinking something negative, replace it with a positive thought. For instance, if you catch yourself ruminating on a mistake you made in the past, stop yourself and replace that thought with “I’m allowed to make mistakes. What’s done is done, and it’s time for me to move forward.”

Keep track of what negative thoughts haunt you the most and develop a list of positive affirmations to counter them. With enough practice, positive thinking will become second nature.

2. Make Positive Lists

Making lists is another great exercise in positive thinking. Once a day or whenever you need a little pick-me-up, challenge yourself to list 10 things you’re grateful for or 10 things you like about yourself.

Having a hard time getting in the habit? Ask a friend to hold you accountable. Make a pact that you’ll text each other something you’re grateful for every day.

3. Set SMART Goals

Setting goals is a great way to stay motivated. Increase your chances of success by setting SMART — specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely — goals.

Remember to set both short- and long-term goals. Long-term goals are the big things that keep you inspired, such as graduating from college or buying a house. Focusing on long-term goals alone can be overwhelming, though. Short-term goals — such as going to bed by midnight all week or passing calculus — are the stepping stones that help you achieve those long-term goals.

4. Listen to Music

Music can be a powerful motivating force! Find the music that inspires you, whether it’s hip-hop or movie soundtracks, and use it to get yourself going. Try putting together a playlist to energize yourself as you work toward your goals.

5. Do Something Creative

It’s important to set aside time for creativity. Nurture your inspiration and turn it into something tangible. Regardless of your skill level, creative self-expression is the perfect way to get your thoughts and feelings out of your head and into a more shareable form.

Whether you write, draw, craft or code, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of accomplishment as you look over your own creation after finishing it.

6. Learn a New Skill

Learning new skills can do wonders for your confidence. Pick something that’s fun and interesting to you. Maybe you’ve always wanted to try skateboarding, or perhaps you’ve been meaning to pick up a new language or teach yourself to code. Why not start now?

7. Know When to Ask for Help

There’s no shame in asking for help. In fact, knowing when and how to ask for help is a valuable skill that everyone should learn!

There’s a common misconception that asking for help takes away from your independence, but that’s just not true. Karley and her service dog, Kaiser, are a perfect example of how getting the help you need can make you more independent, not less.

8. Find a Community

Seek out people who share your struggles. If you’re raising kids alone, join a support group for single parents. If you’re struggling with a chronic disease, find solace in a Facebook group for people who share your illness. Whatever your situation, there are sure to be other people going through something similar.

Learning how your peers deal with their challenges will give you ideas and inspiration for tackling you own. Plus, you’ll have people to confide in when things go awry.

9. Take a Break

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, take some time to recuperate. Make the most of your lunch breaks, weekends and vacations. Instead of working through your lunch break or sleeping through the weekend, focus on taking care of yourself during your precious free time.

10. Update Your Resume

Even if you’re not planning on applying for a job anytime soon, updating your resume is a great way to remind yourself of what you’ve accomplished. Once you’re done sprucing up your resume, print it out on nice paper and keep it as a reminder of what you’re capable of.

The key to all of these strategies is to make them part of your routine. Don’t just pull them out during your darkest hour — make them into healthy habits and stay inspired for the rest of your life.

Kayla Matthews

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

Top Gifts for Guys


*This post contains affiliate links*

Gift Ideas for Men
Gift Ideas for Men

Every year I struggle with what to get the guys in my life. Men are so simple, but that's what makes it hard. Most of the time they want something like tools (which I have no idea which one to get, they're so picky!), something expensive (like a TV or computer), or they simply want nothing at all! Thankfully, there are some options when it comes down to this. Here's some my favorite items for guys that would make great Christmas, birthday, or anniversary gifts.

1. A Stunning Watch | Price Varies

JORD makes incredibly gorgeous wooden watches. The Dover Series (pictured above) is perfect for the man who likes to build things. With gears in full view and structured style, this self-winding automatic watch is sure to be on his wrist day in and day out. Check out JORD's full collection to find the right watch style for the man in your life (and you ladies as well!). Order before December 20, 2015 to get it in time for Christmas!

I've also partnered with JORD to giveaway a limited quantity of e-gift cards worth $35 each for the holidays! So if you've had your eye on one of these lovely wood watches, be sure to enter to get in on the savings. Entering is easy; click the link below - it will ask you for your email and your favorite JORD watch (so many to choose from) once you hit enter, your code will be emailed directly to you!

Get your $35 e-gift card here!

2. Dollar Shave Club | $3 – $9 per month depending on blade preference

Guys tend to use the same razor blade over and over because they're so expensive to buy repeatedly. The Dollar Shave Club solved that problem. Every month they send four high-quality razor blades straight to your door at an affordable price. The $6 razor is perfect and comes with free shipping! That’s less than you pay for Netflix! And as a bonus, women can use them too :) I got this for Caleb last year, and he loves it so much.

3. Gingham Tie | $19.99

A gingham tie is so classic and instantly brings an outfit up a notch. Get your man a nice tie to wear on some fancy dates with you. Or just dress up in your house. I mean, he’ll want to wear this tie even when he doesn’t have to.

4.Weekender Bag | $98

If your man travels often, consider gifting him a stylish, yet durable weekender bag. Everlane's quality is by far my top choice, as they show you transparent pricing right on their website. Meaning they show you how much it cost to make, and how much competitors are charging for the similar items. I have the reversible denim and black leather bag on my wishlist :)

5. Tommy John Trunks | $29 $26

Does your guy complain about, err, you know where? Consider gifting him something he'll be thankful for: super soft micro modal underwear. As with all Tommy John underwear, they come with a "No Wedgie Guarantee." No more complaints!

6. Thinsulate Gloves | $30 $11.99 Sale

Give your man a good, warm, stylish pair of gloves for the cold winter months. This pair features Thinsulate insulation, touchscreen friendly fingertips, ribbed cuffs, and a leather palm.

7. Box O' Balls | $9

Toss one of these balls into closets, gym bags, or smelly shoes and they'll do wonders to absorb noxious odors. Made of aromatic Eastern Red Cedar, they are a self-renewing non-endangered natural resource, meaning that they are reusable as well!

Shop more ideas for men below. Be sure to check out 75+ Stocking Suffer Ideas for Men!


The Perfect Last Minute Holiday Gift for the Ladies: JORD Wooden Watches

*I was compensated with a free product from woodwatches.com*

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

I'm going to let you in on a secret.

Gift-giving is a real struggle for me.

It's not that I don't know what type of things they like, but rather, I just want to make sure that their gift is something that they truly love. Do you ever feel the same way?

Last month my beautiful friend Noemi lost the watch she wore every day. And when she told me, I knew immediately what the perfect gift for her would be: A wooden watch from JORD.

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

You may remember how I gifted a JORD watch to my dad on Father's Day and was amazed at the wonderful craftsmanship. These watches are made from a variety of natural and sustainably sourced wood from all across the globe, are extremely lightweight, and have a crystal clear face. Absolutely beautiful!

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

Gifting the watch to Noemi was so much fun–her face lite up like it was already Christmas morning! The Sidney Series in Maple and Rose Gold is absolutely gorgeous. She gets so many compliments on it. It even has a stopwatch built in! This is not your regular everyday watch; it’s a unique and stylish accessory.

The perfect holiday gift for ladies! JORD WOOD WATCHES #JORDWATCH

JORD prides themselves on their prompt delivery with their aim to get the watch to you within 1 – 3 days with free worldwide shipping. It comes in a gorgeous wooden keepsake box, and you can even have the watch sized beforehand so it can be worn immediately!

So if you're looking for the perfect last-minute holiday gift for a special lady (or man!) in your life, I highly recommend checking out JORD's collection. I gave my boyfriend the Dover Ebony and Copper watch and he loves it so much! That one is a self-winding automatic, meaning that there is no battery–just the fact that you wear it helps make the gears work (which you can see through the face of the watch too, btw).

The watch I have an eye on is the Frankie Zebrawood and Champagne watch. It is so luxurious and minimalistic!

I’ve also partnered with JORD to giveaway a limited quantity of e-gift cards worth $35 each for the holidays! So if you’ve had your eye on one of these lovely wood watches, be sure to enter to get in on the savings. Entering is easy; click the link below – it will ask you for your email and your favorite JORD watch (so many to choose from) once you hit enter, your code will be emailed directly to you!

Get your $35 e-gift card here!

Don't forget to share your pictures with the hashtag #JORDWATCH. Enjoy! ;)

Which JORD watch is your favorite? Share it with me in the comments below!


Five Frugal Fall Activities

Needing to save money for the holiday season? Make the most of the rest of your fall bucket list by enjoying these five frugal fall activities! Someone pinch me. Is it really November 2 already?! It still feels like it's early October and autumn was just beginning. But now the days are getting shorter, the air crisper, and I'm getting the urge to bake warm goods because there's a seasonal change up ahead. One where, from November to April, we hibernate in our cozy houses.

But don't let it happen just yet! There's still time to finish that fall bucket list and enjoy the last few warm days of the year. Yesterday, the temperature here got up into the mid-70s, and today's forecast is 81! Granted, that's more like summer weather, but still. Even if you're saving up for all the holiday shopping that'll happen within the next two months, you can still have loads of fun with those you love before winter hits.

To encourage you to get out and make the most of the last few days of autumn, here are my top five favorite frugal fall activities that show that you don't need lots of money to have a good time!

Five Frugal Fall Activities

1. Stroll through a cornfield maze with warm apple cider

While most cornfield mazes will have a cost, usually they are less than $10. That being said, many cornfield mazes are located at local farms or sites that have other frugal fall activities to do as well, making the trip well worth your dollar.

2. Make a twist on the classic caramel apple

Fall food is some of my favorite food. Use the abundance of apples available to experiment and bake some delicious desserts. You can go classic and try a bunch different toppings for your caramel apples or, you can add a twist and make an Apple and Cranberry Crumble. Chef Gordon Ramsay is one of the best, if not greatest, chefs in the world. So obviously this recipe is going to taste great if he's the one who created it, right? :)

3. Picnic and/or hammock in the park (or go camping!)

Although you may think of picnics as more of a spring or summer activity, the milder temperature and climate in fall can make for an enjoyable time outdoors. There's just something about getting out in nature while the leaves are changing. Soak up the beauty. Make some sandwiches and trail mix and head out to relax or have an adventure. Either way, be sure to take some deep breaths of the fall air.

4. Explore a new bike path

Biking is one of the best frugal fall activities because you don't have to worry about baking in the sun and sweating heavily when you're simply trying to get up a hill. If you're short on time, take your bikes out for a spin around the block after dinner. Or make a day out of it! Bring your bikes out to a local bike path that you've never been on and enjoy seeing the fall colors and your new adventure.

5. Attend a local community event

Many communities host fall fairs and festivals for free or a small price. I've found some of my favorite fall festivals just by going through the events that are being hosted on Facebook. You can also check out your newspaper or go online to your city website.

Hopefully this short list of frugal fall activities can inspire you to get out and enjoy the rest of fall without spending much money. I've found that the sweetest moments in life aren't found through material things, but by the people I spend time with and how we choose to spend that time together.

If you're still looking for more ways to save for this upcoming holiday season, using a free financial software to keep track of your finances is a great place to start!

How do you make the most of the fall season? What are some of your favorite frugal fall activities?


How to Make Time for Your Side Gig while Working Full Time

Let’s look at a few ways on how to make time throughout your day, fit a side-gig into a hectic life and make it into a regular habit. This past week has been busy! I'm all moved in back in Nebraska, and ready for school to start next Monday. Last week turned out to be a tech fast for me. I found myself not constantly being on social media (or my phone in general) and I only replied to urgent emails. It feels sooo good to do a digital detox, but I'm getting back into my blogging routine again this week! Today though, I'm super excited to have Kayla Matthews from Productivity Theory sharing some AMAZING tips on how to balance your side hobby along with the rest of your busy life. Be sure to leave some comments on what you all think!

Whether it’s blogging, starting a business, launching a Kickstarter, or something else, finding time for a side-project in addition to full-time work can be seriously hard. I recently read an article on the Huffington Post about how overwork and perfectionism can lead to burnout, and when you’re balancing two jobs at once, that’s twice as true.

So let’s look at a few ways how you can make time throughout your day, fit a side-gig into a hectic life and make it into a regular habit.

Do It in the Morning

Did you know morning people are happier? It’s true: science says so. Science also says that the best way to learn a new skill is by practicing first thing in the morning, after getting a good night’s sleep. So if you’re looking for a time to put in work on your side gig, the morning might just be the best time to do it.

If that sounds appealing to you, then try this: instead of rolling out of bed with just enough time to get ready for work, try going to bed earlier and waking up an hour or two before you need to. Make a pot of coffee, eat breakfast, and then sit down to work on your thing (whatever it is).

Doing so will let you start every day off on the right foot, doing what you enjoy the most, and will also help make sure your brain is up and humming at maximum power by the time you go to work.

Do It Over Lunch

Using your lunch-break at work to put in time on your side gig can be an amazing jump-starter. Your brain is already buzzing, you’ve got a built-in deadline and it makes a nice way to break up the day.

Just be careful that you don’t step on anyone’s toes, and make sure to follow all your company’s guidelines. For example, don’t send personal emails from your work-address or blog on a work-computer—bring a laptop and do your work from there instead.

Do It in the Evening

Working after work—as in, immediately, before you eat dinner or do anything else—can be another great way to find time. That’s probably why so many people use that time to hit the gym: once you get home and have the temptation of food and Netflix in front of you, it becomes a lot harder to haul yourself off the couch and go do stuff.

You’ll have to watch out for a few things here, though. First of all, you’ll want to eat a snack in the afternoon, or dinnertime hunger will make it tricky to focus on work. You’ll also probably want to talk with your friends and family in advance about how you’ll be switching up your schedule, so you’ll be “coming home” later—mentally and maybe literally.

Whatever You Choose, Stick With it

You can find a million articles that tell you when to work and how, but no one knows how you work better than you do. Pick a time in your day that works for you, use that time to focus on your side gig and try to do it at the same time every day.

Because I have one more science fact for you: It takes an average of 66 days to form a habit. That means the longer you do something, the easier it gets to do it.

Once you’ve made time, and committed to sticking with it, you stop having to “make time” at all.

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 Kaboompics

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

The Perfect Father's Day Gift: JORD Wood Watches

*This watch was kindly sent to me by Jord watches. However, this review is 100% my honest opinion and would remain the same if I purchased the watch with my own money.*

#Jordwatch The perfect last-minute Father's Day gift! Beautiful wooden watches for both men and women. 

When I was younger, I remember my dad wearing a watch every single day to work. I remember when he would come home and place it in the drawer where he kept his keys. I remember owning multiple watches of my own because, well, watches were cool!

But times change, things break, and cell phones have now taken over. I look around and wonder what happened to the simplicity of telling time on a watch rather than a phone. Not only do they allow you to step away from technology, but they are a major fashion statement too!

So when JORD reached out and told me about their wooden watches, I fell in love instantly. Their watches are made from a variety of natural and sustainably sourced wood from all across the globe, and the craftsmanship is amazing. I gifted a watch to my dad and he loves it! All of their designs are wonderful, so it was really hard to pick just one, but I decided to give him the Fieldcrest Series in Black. Perfect choice! The watch itself is incredibly light, the face is crystal clear, and you can really see the intricacy of the wood grain. It's such a simple, yet classic style.

#Jordwatch The perfect last-minute Father's Day gift! Beautiful wooden watches for both men and women.

I highly recommend checking out the rest of their watches. I love the Cora Series in Koa and Rose Gold! And with Father's Day only 5 days away, it's the perfect last minute gift JORD prides themselves on their prompt delivery with their aim to get your watch to you within 1 - 3 days. It comes in a gorgeous wooden keepsake box, and you can even have the watch sized beforehand! Can't beat that.

Which one is your favorite? :)

#Jordwatch The perfect last-minute Father's Day gift! Beautiful wooden watches for both men and women.

#Jordwatch The perfect last-minute Father's Day gift! Beautiful wooden watches for both men and women.

10+ MORE Must Have Apps for College Students


*There are referral links present in this post. All opinions within this post are 100% honest – I only recommend apps that I personally use and love!

UPDATED FEBRUARY 8, 2017: A few months ago I wrote a post on 10+ must have apps every college student should download. That post became quite a hit on social media and I've been wanting to feature a few more apps that I love. So today I'm back with 10+ MORE must have apps for college students! Each of the following apps and resources are ones that I personally use and recommend to any busy person looking to maximize productivity and stay organized while having fun at the same time.


RefME (Free / Website)

I've been using RefME for all my papers this semester, and I don't know why I didn't use it before! It's such an amazing resource! Nobody likes figuring out how to cite a source. RefME does all the hard stuff and lets you collect sources fast and keep them organized in groups. You can either search for the reference title, author, url, etc., or simply fill in the boxes with the appropriate information, select what citation style you need, and voilá! A perfect bibliography/works cited is born! Some other great features are that it allows you to export your bibliography directly into a Word document and shows you the correct inline citation to use. With their app, you can even scan book/journal barcodes to get citations. How easy it that?


Khan Academy (Free / iPhone & iPad, AndroidWebsite)

Khan Academy lets you learn almost anything for free. Videos and visuals help solidify concepts that would otherwise be forgotten and allows you to master concepts you didn't catch in class.


Elevate (Free / iPhone & iPad, Android)

Elevate was selected as Apple's 2014 app of the year, and it rightly deserves that award! The app helps "train" your mind for the skills you need the most, such as retention, visualization, focus, comprehension, etc. All it takes is 5-10 minutes a day a few days of the week and you'll see your progress chart go up over time. The games are fun and even addicting!


Coggle (Free / Website)

Mind mapping is the new brain dump. It is such a useful way to think about new ideas and simplify complex processes. You can use it for school projects, your business ideas, product ideas, blogging, or just your daily life in general. I like using Coggle because it's web and cloud based and allows you to sync your mind maps with Google Drive. 


Printer Pro ($6.99 / iPhone & iPad)

Before you run away after looking at the price, let me just tell you that this one is definitely worth the money. Printer Pro allows you to print anything–documents, emails, web pages–directly from your iPhone or iPad. Advanced printing options such as print orientation, scaling, number of copies, and even paper size give you desktop class printing on a small scale device. Best of all, Printer Pro is compatible with Wi-Fi enabled printers as well as USB ones. No more saving documents to the cloud in order to print them later on a computer!


Influenster (Free/ Website)

Influenster lets you flex your social media influence by providing you with free, full-sized product sampling through exclusive VoxBox campaigns. To get selected for a free VoxBox filled with amazing products, simply connect your social media accounts and begin reviewing products to unlock badges. The higher your influence score, the more likely you'll get selected.


Spotify (Free / iPhone & iPad, Android, Website)

Spotify is my go-to music player for a few reasons. One, I love having the ability to choose what songs to stream and add them to playlists at the same time. Two, they have a great browsing selection where you can discover tons of new artists and songs based on your mood. And now, you can get 50% off Spotify Premium for students. Say goodbye to annoying ads.


Quizlet (Free / iPhone & iPad, Android, Website)

I've tried many flashcard apps and I have to say, this one is the best. Their app user interface beautiful and functional but the real power lies in the website. Quizlet allows you to create "sets" of flashcards that you can share with other students who are studying for the same quiz or test. It's not just flashcards either; different games help make studying fun.


Avast Mac Security (Free / Website)

It’s been said that Macs are immune to viruses and other things that are common on Windows. Because of that, many Mac users never even think to install antivirus protection. But that’s not the case anymore. Turns out, it’s not impossible to create a virus that affects a Mac; it’s just more difficult than with Windows because of nature of OS X and its security model.  I highly recommend that you install Avast Free Antivirus. It’s free, simple to install, and updates automatically to keep protection current.

I hope these apps are as helpful to you as they are to me! Don't forget to check out the other 10+ apps! Enjoy! :)

What are your must have apps?

5 Tips for Productivity

5 Tips to help you be more productive and get things done! | The Kardia Blog Most people struggle with productivity at some point. Whether it's the never ending email inbox, wasting time on Pinterest, or watching 45 minutes of parodies on YouTube (guilty as charged, but I have to admit, they were hilarious!), sometimes it can be a challenge to focus. How can you stay on track without losing your mind? Well, it turns out that even the simplest things can make you more productive than ever, like making sure you're not working on an empty stomach (the growls can be quite distracting). While we all have different ways of being productive, here are my top five, super simple tips to staying focused.

1. Do a Brain Dump

Every night before I go to bed, and every morning before I do anything else, I take out a piece of paper and write down anything that comes to mind. Everything. I write down the title of a song that's stuck in my head, ideas for blog posts, meetings I need to go to, an outfit idea I saw another girl wear, something funny a professor said in class, things I want to Google, etc. I do this to clear my head before I go to sleep, otherwise my mind will just keep on working late into the night. In the morning I look at that list and categorize them: to-do list, Google list, reminders, and random stuff. Getting everything out on paper frees my brain up from trying to keep track of all that information.

2. Make an (Organized) To-Do List

Making an efficient, organized to-do list has always been a struggle for me. I've tried making paper lists, using sticky notes, and have tried many different list-making apps, but the app Any.do is by far my favorite list-making tool. It's simple design and ability to move around tasks between Today, Tomorrow, Upcoming, and Someday lists keeps it organized. Whatever you put into the Tomorrow list will automatically move to the Today list when the day changes, and your Upcoming list will move to Tomorrow on the following Sunday.

Use Any.do to easily make your to-do list and be more productive! | The Kardia Blog

Also, if one of the items on your to-do list is getting your small business off the ground, check out Kabbage.com. Kabbage prides themselves on helping entrepreneurs increase productivity in order to achieve their goals by providing small business loans.

3. Single-Task

Many people think that multi-tasking will help them be more efficient because they're working on more than one thing at a time. While that mindset may help you get small, effortless tasks done, the truth is, you really aren’t getting stuff done as efficiently as you 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, then move on to the next.

4. Use a Table Lamp

Light is important when you're working. If you work in a dimly lit room, not only are you straining your eyes, but you're also going to get tired easily. By using a table lamp instead of overhead lighting, you can stay focused on one thing. Having the light focus in on your task keeps you from looking around and finding something else to do.

5. Have Everything Ready

 Nothing wastes more time than having to get up and leave your desk just to do little things like grabbing a glass of water. Set yourself up before you sit yourself down. Go to the bathroom, pour a glass of water, stock up on paper and pens, and find your charger before you begin working. That way you can just dive right in.

What helps you stay productive? How do you eliminate distractions?


P.S. Looking for more productivity tips? Check out these 8 ways to simplify your life!

7 Ways to Achieve Your Dreams

7 Ways to Achieve Your Dreams | The Kardia Blog Anyone who knows me knows that I am a dreamer. I live for the future and what it has in store. I'm constantly visualizing what I what to make happen. My mind is full of ideas. So how do I go about making those dreams a reality? Patience, practice, and a whole lot of support. Here are 7 ways to effectively and successfully reach your highest dreams.

Visualize Success

The first step to achieving your dream is to see it. Picture yourself reaching your goal. How will you feel when you reach your goal? How will your life change as a result? I recommend keeping a picture of your goal where you see and are reminded of it every day. Visualize success. If you can't see it happening, chances are that it never will.

Make a Plan

One of my favorite quotes says "A vision without action is nothing but a hallucination."  I keep this quote on the login page of my laptop so I see it everyday. It's a reminder that your dreams won't happen unless you make them happen. Sit down and make an action plan on how to achieve your dream. Write down the steps that need to be taken, set mini goals, brainstorm ideas, anything to put your goal in motion.

Be Positive, Not Negative

Life isn't always easy, especially when you're trying to achieve a dream. Things will go wrong, people may laugh at you and tell you that it won't work, and sometimes it may be hard to simply just get started. But don't lose hope. Stay positive. Nothing is impossible to the person who has the desire to succeed. If you really want it, you can't let negativity rule. Stay positive every step of the way.

Practice Patience

Even when you're trying your best to being positive, there will be times where you'll feel defeated or stuck. But when nothing seems to be happening, don't give up hope. Take some time to sit back and observe what is happening. Things always have a way of working out.

Be Open and Flexible

The road to achieving your dream isn't always straight and clear. If you hit a roadblock (or two, or 50), don't give up! Just go a different way. Don't look at failures as a waste of time, look at them as an opportunity to learn.

Review Your Progress

Establish a time for checking your progress and write in down in your calendar. Evaluate your strategies and tactics. If you're making great progress, what can you do to keep the momentum going? Are you getting the results you expected or desired What is the next step?

If you’re not making progress, don't let your optimism keep you from accomplishing your goals. Honestly, something will and probably is, going to go wrong. Just take a look at what is keeping you from accomplishing your goal and make a plan to overcome them.

Support Others

If you have big dreams, find others who also have big dreams! Encourage one another and provide support. Surround yourself with dreamers, believers and people who see the world as big as you do. #fireworkpeople is a great community for creatives, dreamers and entrepreneurs who want to change the world. I'm a member and I am truly blessed by all the encouragement I receive from others. Every Tuesday night at 9pm EST, there is a Twitter Party using the hashtag #fireworkpeople. If you are full of dreams and want to put them into action, I encourage you to come join us! We also have a Facebook group where we can share encouragement and stories. The community is so friendly and I hope that we can all unite with the common goal of making a difference and changing the world.

I am...a Dreamer | The Kardia

 How will you achieve your dreams? 


P.S. Check out my very first post on why I blog!

The Collaboreat

About a month ago, I jumped at the opportunity to write for a brand new website called The Collaboreat. It's a foodie and travel blogazine with talented writers and bloggers contributing articles on their favorite places to eat and drool worthy foods. This week they are doing features on the best places to eat in different college towns, and I submitted a post on the wonderful town of Lincoln!

Check out my College Eats - Lincoln, NE post on The Collaboreat and come party with us! :)

Where are some of your favorite places to eat?


P.S. Check out this post about being grateful.