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5 tips for keepin' it together (+ a giveaway!)

Run the DaySource

 

With the launch of my book, The Positively Present Guide to Life (yay!), I've had a lot going on the past few weeks. Not only have I been keeping up with regular blogger/writer duties, but I've also been writing tons of promotional articles and materials, speaking at local events, and working my hardest to sell my book to anyone and everyone. (Don't have a copy yet? You can buy it here!) It's been a dream-come-true to be promoting my very own book (and, even better, seeing it in the bookstores!), but it sure hasn't been easy staying on top of all the new to-do list items! 

Organization has always been important to me, but never more so than it is right now. When you add a new element to your life (like promoting a new project at work or having a new addition to the family at home), you have an entirely new set of tasks to deal with in addition to whatever was already on your plate. To make sure nothing slips through the cracks or gets neglected, it's useful to make use of whatever organization you can. The more organized you are, the easier life becomes.

I know, I know, some of you are probably cringing at the word "organized," but hear me out — organizing doesn't have to be a stress-inducing situation! I love organizing, but totally I get that not everyone has the heart-eyes-emoji-feeling I do when they think about arranging and ordering their lives. Here are some of the easy-to-do tricks I've been using lately to keep everything (including all of my new book promo tasks!) in line. 

 

HAVE A FIXED PLACE FOR EVERYTHING. 

I know this can be tough if you're not the naturally organized type, but having a designated spot for all of your things (or at least the important things that you use often) is so essential for streamlining your day-to-day tasks. When everything has a place and you know exactly where to find it, you save yourself tons of time and aggravation spent looking for things. If you don't already have everything in a set spot, it can take some time to create a system (and, if you live with others, to get them on board), but once you do this, I promise, you'll have so much less stress in your life. One of the things that's saved my mental state over the past few weeks is knowing exactly where things are when I need them. Knowing exactly where I can find my business cards or extra copies of my book or promotional materials has been a lifesaver when I had to quickly put things together. (Side note: this "everything in a place" doesn't apply only to tangible things — having designated spots for all of your files, images, and links is so essential for keeping everything together and saving yourself time.)

 

SET UP A SPOT FOR SHORT-TERM STUFF.

Because I love having a spot for everything and find it so helpful when it comes to keeping everything orderly, it's tough for me when something short-term comes up. For example, I now have lots of promotional materials for my book and extra boxes of books. Because I'm working a lot with these things right now, I need them often and can't tuck them neatly away like I'd like to do. So I've set up a short-term spot on my dresser where I keep everything new-book-related (pens for signing books, stamps and notecards for sending off bookplates, business cards, promotional bookmarks, etc.) at the ready. I won't deny that it drives me a little nuts having all of this stuff out in the open, looking as if it's waiting to be put away properly, but it's been a huge help having everything right there when I need it. This tactic is great if you have an upcoming work/school project, a big event coming up, or anything else that might require items to accessible in the short-term. 

 

MASTER THE FINE ART OF DELEGATION.  

Delegation is not my favorite. I like to think I can (and try to) do everything myself. Most of the time this is fine, but when it comes to big events — like the launch of a book! — it's important to learn how to ask for help and to delegate some of the to-do list tasks. (Even if you're not facing a big or unusual event, delegation can save a lot of time and greatly reduce your stress level.) Though it was hard for me to ask for help, I reached out to those around me (especially my amazingly helpful mom!) to assist me with tasks like sending out packets or spreading the word about the book launch. While I would have loved to do everything myself, delegating some of the tasks made it easier for me to focus on the things that only I could do (like signing books). It's useful exercise to ponder what tasks only you can do and what tasks you might be able to ask a partner, child, or colleague to help with. A reminder for all of you DIYers like me: asking for help doesn't mean you're not doing your job. 

 

MAKE GOOD USE OF YOUR DOWN TIME. 

I'm certainly not going to advise you spend all of your time organizing your life (I couldn't live without my reading time or Netflix binges!), but I will say that it helps to spend a little bit of your down time preparing for the tasks to come. I'm a big preparer — I plan my outfits days before I wear them, I determine blog post topics weeks in advance, and I love making plans well in advance — but I know that not everyone is neurotic forward-thinking as I am. You don't have to worry about every little detail, but it does help if you can do one thing during your down time to help make the next day easier on you. For example, while watching TV, make a to-do list for the next day or use commercial breaks to choose your outfit or pack your lunch for the next day. When I was sending out promotional materials for my book, I wrote out envelopes and cards while watching TV. This made me feel productive, but I was still (sort of) relaxing. It really helped me see that doing little things when you have down time now can make things easier on your future self. 

 

WRITE IT DOWN IMMEDIATELY. LIKE, NOW

I've saved the best (and most essential!) for last. When it comes to keeping things together, the most important thing you can do is write it down. Whether it's a task you need get done (add it to your to-do list), a brilliant idea you have at 2am (keep paper by your bed), or notes from an important phone call (keep paper everywhere), write it down as soon as it happens. There are two reasons for this: (1) you don't have to keep thinking about it if you put it on paper and (2) you're likely to have more accurate information if you put it in writing rather than relying on your memory. Particularly if you have a lot of things going on at once (and who doesn't?), writing things down is one of the best ways to keep it together (literally and emotionally). I have notebooks everywhere and I also have two important tools that I couldn't live without: the Every Day Matters planner and The Spark Notebook. I helped design both of these so they work really well for my needs. Regardless of what method or notebook you prefer, find a way to write things down because, I swear, it's the absolute best way to keep it all together. 

 

 

WIN A COPY OF THE SPARK NOTEBOOK!

The-Spark-NotebookSpark Layout
I'm offering you an opportunity to one of my favorite keep-it-together tools: a copy of The Spark Notebook. The Spark Notebook is a place for you to store your most important notes, goals, and big ideas so you’re always at the top of your game.It achieves what no other notebook has before: it combines the beautiful design of sleek, professional notebooks with the functionality of big life-planners and organization guides. All of the great organizational tools without any of the fuss or frills. I helped design this so I'm a bit biased, but it really is one of the best organizational tools out there. To enter to win, see below! 

 

HOW TO ENTER

1. Enter by doing one (or all!) of the following. Each counts as an entry.   

    * Friend PositivelyPresent or The Spark Notebook on Facebook
    * Link to The Spark Notebook on any social media outlet
    * Follow PositivePresent or Popforms on Twitter
    * Follow PositivelyPresent or Popforms on Instagram
    * Follow PositivelyPresent or Popforms on Pinterest
    * Link to The Spark Notebook on any social media outlet

2. Leave a comment below, including:

    * Where / how you entered (every follow / like / tweet / etc. counts!)
    * Your email address (in the email box, not the comment box)

IMPORTANT DETAILS

* Every follow / share / tweet / like, etc. counts as one entry
* Open to US residents only (sorry, international friends!)
* Enter as many times as you'd like to increase your chances
* Winner will be chosen and notified via email on 4/6/15


positively present picks: march 27, 2015

WhistleSource

 

image from www.positivelypresent.com

"Spring is when you feel like whistling
even with a shoe full of slush."

Doug Larson
 

image from www.positivelypresent.com

MY BOOK CAME OUT THIS MONTH : in case you missed it ;)

Stop Being a Victim of Your Thoughts : my latest article on ELLE.com

6 Ways to Keep Going After Tough Times : excellent advice

Honest Cinderella Trailer : this (+ the other honest trailers) made me laugh

Finding the Positive in a Negative World : advice for a positive work-life balance

7 Ways to Find Balanced When You're Feeling Overwhelmed : calm down fast

This Is for the Dreamers + the Hustlers : an inspiring little bit of advice

Hashbrown No Filter : if you watch Unbreakable Kimmy, you'll love this

This Is Why Your Story Matters : own your story, no matter what

Shelf : how cool is this typographic shelf from PB Teen?

The Anti-Bucket List : why you should have (and don't need!) a bucket list

Dealing with Negativity Online : an inspiring, beautifully written post

Self Care Journal : this would be a great addition to Finding Yourself
  

image from www.positivelypresent.com

Check out this week's
Positively Present playlist on YouTube
 

"Crystals" — Of Monsters & Men
"Velocity Girl" — Snow Patrol
"Home" — Aron Wright
"Let It Happen" — Tame Impala
"Bodyache" — Purity Ring
"As Is" — Ani DiFranco
"The Balance" — Royal Tongues
"Down By the River" — Milky Chance
"Writer's Block" — Malandros
"The Rain" — Oh Wonder
"Unravel" — Laura Welsh
"Everything" — Boyce Avenue

 

The Age of Miracles
Karen Thompson Walker

Girl Talk: Unsolicited Advice for Modern Ladies
Christie Young

(Get your copy my book, out now!)

The Positively Present Guide to Life
Dani DiPirro

 


word of the month : change (+ habits!)

Change

 

This article is part of the 2015 Word of the Month series, based on the monthly theme featured in the Every Day Matters 2015 Diary I designed for Watkins Publishing. In the planner, each month has a theme highlighted in the weekly illustrations, quotes, and activities. This month's theme is CHANGE. 

 

I was thrilled when Gretchen Rubin sent me an advanced copy of her latest book, Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives, not only because I've been a fan of hers for years, but because I find the topic of habits fascinating and it seemed like the perfect book to read along with this month's theme of change.

We all have habits — and most of us have trouble with them. Whether it's trying to make new (good) habits or quit old (bad) habits, we all have stories about our habits and how we've started, kept, or failed at them. In her book, Gretchen makes it clear that there's no one-size-fits-all solution to starting, keeping, or breaking habits. Her key insight is this: To change our habits, we must first figure out ourselves.

One of the aspects I liked most about the book is the Four Tendencies concept. (Want to know your Tendency? Take the quiz here.) I am right on the line of Rebel and Questioner and, with that in mind, I was able to see how some of the various habit strategies in the book would or wouldn't work for me. There are a lot of habit-related books out there, but most of them just focus on one strategy. The great thing about this book is that it shares insights from a variety of various sources, which gives the reader a range of options. The more options, the more likely you'll be to find a strategy that works for you! 

To delve into the strategies, you'll have to check out the book, but I'd like to share some of my favorite insights (and my thoughts about them and the topic of change) with you here. Whether you're working on starting / quitting a habit or you're coping with / initiating change in your life, these insights might help you handle the change in your life. 

 

"We should start the way we want to continue." 

This is so incredibly true. If you want to start a habit, you should begin the habit the same way you want to continue the habit. For example, if you say, "I want to read for an hour every night in bed," don't start off by reading for ten minutes on the couch, telling yourself that tomorrow you'll move to the bedroom and read more. Begin the way you want to continue. After thinking a bit about this, I realized it not only applies to habits, but also to relationships as well. Try to start your interactions with others on a positive note. 

 

"I just think, 'This is what I'm doing today.' Trust the habit. I take that first step, over and over and over." 

Sometimes the idea of starting a habit can be overwhelming if you think to yourself, Ugh, I'm going to have to do that every day/week/etc. The word "every" can be very discouraging. However, if you tell yourself that you're just going to do it today and then say that the next day and the next day it becomes so much easier to do (or not do, if you're trying to break a habit). I do this all the time with drinking. Instead of thinking, I'm not going to drink ever again, I think, I'm not going to drink tonight. I say that night after night and this summer I'll be five years sober!

 

"By giving something up, I gain." 

When it comes to giving up a bad habit, I think this is one of the best ways of thinking about it. Instead of thinking about what you're going to lose — all the cigarettes you'll miss smoking out on the porch with your friends or all those donuts you'll miss devouring on your way to work — it helps to think about what you'll gain when you give something up. In both of those examples, you'll gain better health and, particularly in the case of cigarettes, more money in your pocket. Reframing the loss of a bad habit in a more positive way makes it easier to get started and keep at it. 

 

"A stumble may be helpful, because it shows me where I need to concentrate my efforts in order to do better next time." 

If you're quitting or forming a new habit, it can be tough when you slip up. I remember when, after eight months of sobriety, I drank. It felt awful and as if all my hard work was for nothing. But the next day, I realized that this was a lesson and my stumble helped me realize that I needed to be aware of situations that were tempting for me. I used what I learned to avoid certain situations or handle them in such a way that I would be able to stay sober. Stumbling doesn't feel great, but it's a great opportunity to learn. 

 

"Make sure the things we do to make ourselves feel better [like rewards, treats, etc.] don't make us feel worse." 

This was one of my favorite lines from the book. If you're trying to quit a bad habit, it can be tempting to replace it with something that makes you feel good, particularly if the habit is really hard to quit. For example, if you're giving up cigarettes, you might start rewarding yourself with hefty portions of dessert each night. Those treats might make you feel good in the moment, but over time, they might prove to be more negative than positive (if, for example, they cause you to gain more weight than you'd like or you feel unhealthy after eating them). Rewards can be useful, but only if they truly make you feel better. 

 

"The very words we choose to characterize our habits can make them seem more or less appealing." 

Words are immensely powerful, especially when it comes to something we're trying to convince ourselves to do or not do. About a year ago, I wrote a post about the power of speaking positively about yourself but until I read this book, I'd never thought much about how much words can impact the habits we have or don't have. If you're trying to start a new habit, positive language might not be as difficult because, at the beginning a new habit can be exciting. But when trying to quit an old habit, it's important to be mindful of the words you use and try to frame the change in a positive way. 

 

"We can build our own habits only on the foundation of our own nature."

This sentence really is the crux of the book, which builds on the notion that we have the best chance of creating and breaking habits when we use tools and tactics that appeal to our personal nature. One of the great things about the book is that it helps you think about your natural tendencies with the Four Tendencies and then it provides insights on how each tendency might do with specific tactics. The better you know yourself, the more likely you'll be to discover the best ways for you to create (and keep!) good habits. 

 

"We must guard against anything that might weaken a valuable habit."

Once we have a good habit in place, sometimes we take it for granted and that's when it can be at risk of being interrupted. For example, I've been doing yoga almost every day for the past six months or so, and I've gotten so confident in the fact that I'll do it frequently that I've let myself take more days off recently when my workload has felt heavier. This could be weakening my habit, and I need to guard against rationalizations of why I could skip my daily dose of yoga. 

 

 

As with her other books, Better Than Before focuses on Gretchen's personal experiences while offering an array of strategies for the reader to choose from, some she's created and others she's come across in her research. The book provides outlets for new self-knowledge in the realm of habits and provides a variety of options (with examples) that might inspire you to make positive, life-changing habits in your own life. Even if you're not really thinking about changing your habits in particular, this book is great for coping with change and getting a better understanding of yourself. 

 

 

Finding-Self-Cover

Want to learn more about yourself so you can have a better understanding of how you might want to incorporate change in your own life? Now is a great time to discover more about yourself and what you want most by downloading a copy of the e-book Finding Yourself: A Soul-Searching Workbook for Surprising Self Discovery. Filled with inspiration, questions, and activities to get you thinking about what it means to be you, Finding Yourself is a must for learning more about who you are and about what matters most to you. Learn more about the workbook here and purchase your very own soul-searching copy here.