Whole30 meal planning

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The only way that I have made a regimented plan like this work for Christopher and I so far is with diligent planning. Being on a schedule like this can seem like a lot of upfront work but! It saves you from doing the back-and-forth ‘I don’t know, what do you want to eat?’ banter, which I can very much appreciate.

The cycle starts on Friday where I sit down and plan all of the meals for the following week, from dinner on Sunday to the following Friday or Saturday night. To make the Whole30 work the best, it is important to use a wide range of proteins, fruits and vegetables. I try to keep this in mind when I’m making the meal plan for the following week.

Once I have the menu set, I select the items I will need to purchase and add them to my grocery lists. This task has been made a million times easier using the app AnyList. On Saturday I do the shopping. During this time I’ve been going to up to 4 different stores to get all that I need so it takes more time that I’m use to.

Sunday is reserved for cooking. I usually make a large batch of breakfast that lasts from Monday morning until Friday morning. This makes our lives easier because it takes next to no effort in the morning to prepare something to eat before work. When I make dinners for the two of us I always try to make enough for our lunches the next day. This is also for the sake of simplicity and to ensure what we have for lunch is nutritious and filling.

Dinner time is when I get to cook more creatively or try a new recipe. Christopher and I have had a lot of ‘hell yeah!’ moments during this time and a few ‘meh’ moments too. Here are a few of my favorite items that we’ve made so far:

1. OVEN-ROASTED CAULIFLOWER RICE
This recipe comes from Melissa Joulwan from The Clothes Make The Girl, but I did make some modifications for the version I am sharing today!

This recipe is a perfect side dish to accompany asian inspired recipes and fish or roasted chicken. Though it doesn’t taste like rice, I think the texture is similar and it has all the nutritional benefits that come from cauliflower. I recommend making a big batch and using the leftovers through out the week for nights when you-just-can’t-even with cooking dinner.

Ingredients:
1 head of cauliflower
1 tbs clarified butter/ghee
3/4 tsp salt
garlic powder, to taste

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 425º
2. Break florets and remove stem from cauliflower
3. Place in a food processor (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your processor)
4. Pulse between 10 and 15 times
5. In a large bowl, place the cauliflower rice and stir in the melted ghee, salt and garlic powder
6. Spread evenly on a large baking sheet
7. Place in oven for around 25 minutes or until you notice some brown toastyness on the top

2. MOCHA RUB STEAK
This recipe came from the book It Starts With Food and Christopher and I used it for our Valentine’s Day dinner. He loves coffee and I love chocolate so this seemed like the perfect combo for our tastebuds.

The rub recipe yielded a little more than we needed for dinner so we bagged up the excess and will be using it in some culinary adventure in the future.

Ingredients:
2 steaks of your choosing, we had rib-eye but next time we’d like to try sirloin
1 tbs clarified butter/ghee
1 tbs black pepper
1 tbs coriander
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp ground coffee

Steps:
1. Crush spices in a spice grinder or morter and pestle
2. Massage rub generously on to steaks
3. Wrap steaks in plastic wrap
4. Allow steaks to rest between 30 and 60 minutes before cooking
5. Heat cast iron skillet for 10 minutes on medium heat
6. Add clarified butter/ghee to pan and coat bottom evenly
7. Add steaks to pan and cook until browned (about 5 mins)
8. Turn steaks with tongs and allow to cook until desired doneness
9. Remove from pan and allow steaks to rest for 5 mins before serving

3. BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
Weekday breakfasts with this recipe have been perfect! It is basically a frittata with all of the ‘must haves’, veggies, protein and fats. I bake it in a 9″ x 13″ pan and it is enough to make 10 squares and each square is packed with energy and comfort. I can easily see us using this recipe well after our Whole30 is over.

Ingredients:
1 package of shredded potatoes
1/2 lb prosciutto
2 handfuls of spinach
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
12 eggs
1 clove minced garlic
1 tbs clarified butter/ghee
salt to taste
pepper to taste

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350º
2. In a skillet, add cooking fat and heat until shimmering
3. Place garlic and prosciutto in the pan and allow to cook down
4. Add potatoes, red pepper and spinach and allow to cook through
5. Allow this mixture to cool and add to the baking pan
6. Whisk eggs with a few shakes of salt and pepper
7. Grease baking pan and add the protein and vegetable combination
8. Pour the eggs on top of this mixture
9. Bake for 20 minutes or until the middle is cooked through
10. Once cooled, cut into squares
11. Enjoy with avocado (my fave) or fruit on the side

4. SPICY THAI BASIL CHICKEN
Our first foray in cooking Whole30 recipes was with this lovely recipe from Alanna of Planks, Love and Guacamole. Christopher made it the first time we had it and it gave me hope that I would really enjoy eating this way for 30 days. It has a nice spicy flavor an herbatiousness and an almost creamy quality that I loved. The garnishes are great too, maybe even my favorite part of this dish.

We’ve made this recipe twice and I look forward to making it again and again!

Ingredients:
1 lb boneless chicken breast
salt to taste
pepper to taste
oil to coat chicken

sauce –
1 cup fresh basil
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs vinegar
1 tbs coconut aminos
1 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
a few shakes of compliant hot sauce, I like
2 cloves of garlic
1 jalapeño, take seeds out if you want to tone down the heat

garnish-
1/2 cup crushed cashews
1/3 cup chopped pineapple

Steps:
1. Preheat oven to 350º
2. Cut chicken into pieces
3. Toss with oil, salt and pepper
4. Wrap chicken into aluminum foil packets
5. Bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes
6. While chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce
7. Combine the sauce ingredients in a food processor and pulse until it is a pesto-like consistency
8. Toss chicken with sauce
9. Top with the cashews and pineapple
10. Serve in lettuce wraps or over oven-roasted cauliflower rice

the photo shown of this dish is from the original source here because apparently I didn’t get a good photograph of it while eating it.

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Whole30 Day 15 thoughts

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Helllllo! Welcome to the land of no grains, dairy, legumes or sugar!

AKA the good, the bad and the F you.

Sounds like fun, yeah?

Now that I am half way through the detox phase of this journey, I thought I would share some thoughts of my Whole30 experience so far:

Week 1 was strange, unorthodox even. Because I was sick with a cold (it wasn’t pretty) I was very tired and my appetite was gone for the most part. That week was a bad week but not because of Whole30. This very strange part of starting this way was that it led me to 2 feelings…

1. It led me into a false sense of security, feeling like my body didn’t crave sugar after all! Furthermore, assuming that once my health was back, the rest should be actually easy.

AND

2. It gave me the confidence to look my cravings in the face and all the commercials featuring a perfectly styled slice of pizza and say ‘nope!’. The initial jolt of confidence gave me a good start before battling week 2.

Week 2 (being totally honest here) was hellish. Emotionally draining it fluctuated by the hour. After I would eat breakfast I would feel so so sooo good. After lunch I would feel happy, maybe a little envious at seeing what my fellow co-workers were nomming on. Then by 2 or 3pm I would feel kind of sad, lost or straight up pissed. For example, on Wednesday of last week we had a staff meeting and one of my co-workers sat in front of me with a mother fucking twix bar. I wanted to punch everyone in the face. My sugar dragon was like ‘What up now, B?!’ I calmed down, don’t worry. The feeling didn’t last long but it was powerful. Then, I would keep drinking water, which really did help me to make my way home between 5:30 and 6pm. Dinners have been awesome so far. We eat at the table, it’s all very cute. At the end I usually feel like, I’m good. I’m satisfied. I don’t need any more food today. Annnnd then it’s 8pm and I want the entire world’s supply of peanut butter. At this time of night, I am so damn glad that we don’t have anything in the apartment that I could sneak into my closet and munch on. The worst was one evening when I thought it would be an okay idea to pin cake recipes to bake in the ‘future’. Talk about food lust! It was brutal. In lieu of no after dinner snacking I would have more water, maybe some tea if I need it and then I would be okay again for the rest of the night.

I know that what I’m experiencing right now is normal. Totally normal. When I get to times that make me want to cry or punch everyone, I literally have to tell myself that ‘I’m doing this for my health! This is a gift, just for you. You aren’t being punished. I love you.’ This experience followed by the reintroduction phase and the allergy testing that I’ll have done this week is all to know how my body works so I can treat it right. I’m not aiming to be a perfect Whole30 person forever, that’s not what the program was designed for, but I need to be a perfect Whole30 person right now.

Now that I’ve officially entered week 3 I think I turned a corner and I’m noticing some real positive outcomes. Overall, my energy level has improved through out the day. Also, when I do get a headache it goes away MUCH faster, within minutes instead of hours. With the passing of each day saying no to sugar is easier which feels so damn good.

During this time I’m making an effort to document my thoughts, make note of any headaches I get, and sharing some of my meals (via Instagram) in the hopes to be present in what I’m doing and how I am feeling. I want to have my mind and body really be there for each other in real time, not passively. I want to know what makes me feel great, how to better fight temptation, and what makes me feel badly.

Ultimately, I feel like if 15 days of this hasn’t killed me or I haven’t killed anyone then the next 15 will be just fine.

FYI, in the next few days I’ll be posting about how I’ve structured my meal planning for Whole30, which has been crucial for my success so far. Annnnd I’ll be sharing a few recipes that have wow-ed me.

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Maternity shoot for little Sprout

I got to flex my photography muscles a couple of weeks ago while shooting a maternity session for my good friends Joey and Rachel! It was such an honor to be asked to document this special moment in their family’s life.

Before Christopher and I traveled to Argentina we bought a new camera, the Sony a6000 and sold the camera I had since college, a Canon EOS Rebel XSi. Since the camera was still pretty new to me I was nervous about using it in a more professional setting, but after some testing I was getting really excited for shoot day.

One thing that helped before the shoot was that Rachel and I collaborated on a shared Pinterest board, this helped us stay on the same page during the session.

Here are some of my favorite shots from the session. They were such a pleasure to photograph!

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Whole30 Day 1 and an explanation

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As I eluded to on Friday, the next phase of 2015 ‘detox’ starts today with something big, something scary, something very important. I’m taking the next 30 days to rewrite my relationship with food and personal health.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had constant recurring headaches. In recent years, they have been worse and now are accompanied by sinus pressure and congestion. I’d say that I get a headache that varies in severity about 3 times a week. Not only that, but I’ve been on a nasal steroid spray for 3 years that has provided little help.

During my doctor visit at the end of 2014 I had a CT scan scheduled to see if there are any visible issues. Around the same time is when I heard about the Whole30.

The Whole30 is like pushing the reset button for your body and mind in regards to food. Many processed foods that we eat every day are disruptive to personal hormone balance which can cause spikes and dangerous lows in blood sugar levels, digestive aliments and autoimmune disorders caused by constant inflammation and immune system problems. These same foods can also mess with your mind and cause very real addictions. What really spoke to me personally was that some of these foods also cause inflammation associated with allergies.

After meeting with my ENT to go over my CT results and finding nothing physically wrong, he suggested that I should be tested for allergies. At this point, it was becoming clear that if I want to take a proactive approach to my health then I should give the Whole30 a try.

So what is the Whole30? It is 30 days of eating whole foods, nothing processed for 3 meals every day. Each meal should consist of protein/meat/seafood, vegetables, healthy fats and occasionally fruit. This way of eating is very healthy and can aid in clearing your body of chronic issues that you may have just accepted as part of who you are. Eating this way will boost your energy and help your sleep pattern so your body functions at its best.

Here’s the hard part–You can not eat any dairy, grains, legumes, sugar or alcohol for the 30 days either. And guess what? Those are basically all of my favorite foods…BUT if I’m being completely honest with myself, they never make me feel very well after I eat them. Even if it is just a little discomfort it all weighs on you one way or another. The plan sounds pretty harsh but it is temporary. In reality it’s an amazing gift to yourself, even though it seems like pure torture.

I know the next 30 days are going to be a challenge cuz this girl loves sugar and all the carbs on the planet, but what is keeping me motivated is the re-introduction phase. After the 30 days are over you add in one of the categories of food that was restricted for a day with a rest day after to notice how your body feels, after that, you are to add another category in for another day until you tested them all. This is what interests me the most because I would love to know what food makes me feel good and what ones make me feel bad so I can know how to feed myself better. It is very much like you are conducting an experiment on yourself.

Many people who have completed the Whole30 once have said that it has changed their life. I am hoping to have a transformative experience too (in between all of the swearing and tantrums).

One of the most powerful things about this program is that it is not at all focused on body weight because the scale only gives you a very small picture of your heath. In fact, they tell you to not weight or measure yourself AT ALL during the 30 day period. Many people do end up losing a healthy amount of weight in the 30 day timeframe but they urge you not weigh yourself because of what it can do to your mind. Not seeing instant visible results can add too much pressure to you and distract you from what the point of all of this is, the point of this plan is to feel healthy, energetic and nourish your body the best way you can.

I’ve been preparing myself mentally and the apartment for about a month. I’ve read the cornerstone book called It Starts With Food written by the couple who started the Whole30. I found this to be an amazing and alarming read. I had no idea that I knew so little about how the human body processes food and how delicate of a balance our hormones work under! Upon completing the book I found recipes online and pinned them to my dedicated pinterest board and made an effort to get rid of non-compliant foods around the apartment. I’ve read that being prepared and planning ahead is what can make or break the 30 days. I took that to heart and I am now fully stocked until next week when I’ll be making a new meal plan for the next 7 days. Let me tell you! Planning all three meals for 7 days is no joke! Until now, I only planned a dinner menu for Christopher and myself.

Here are the things I’m looking forward to:

  • Trying new recipes! Maybe really enjoying a new food that I’ve never given a chance to before.
  • Going on this journey with my husband who also suffers from similar sinus issues AND my mom!
  • Having a great support system around me. The people whom I have told have been very encouraging.
  • The amazing support system that I found online and on Instagram. I know that I’m going to need a lot of boosts in the beginning! Some of my favorite Instagramers that I’ve been keeping up with on their Whole30 journeys are Mandy and Nichole.

Have any of you done the Whole30 before? Any advice? I’m a bundle of nerves right now but, I’m so excited to really learn about myself and slay those food dragons one day at a time!

Also, here’s what I can expect to be feeling from Day 1 to Day 30. When I first read this it made me laugh and want to cry. Alright! Here we go!

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January Favorites

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Hello! January has been a very fulfilling month. It feels like I was able to get a lot of things done and I’m well on my way to have a great 2015. Other than getting a good handle on my productivity and time management, here are the little things that made my month extra special…

1. Bellavitano Merlot Reserve Cheese:
When Christopher and I visited my dad and his family for Christmas he had a platter of vegetables, fruit, cheese and crackers ready for us when we arrived. He always feeds us sooo well when we visit. My favorite item that he introduced us to was this cheese right here! It’s a hard, salty, crumbles a little bit yet still has a great creamy taste. It’s a perfect cheese for snacking. I found it on a recent trip to Costco and I had to pick a hunk up for myself.

2. Dr. Teal’s Pure Epsom Salt Foaming Bath:
Epsom salt is a great natural healer because of the mineral compound of sulfate and magnesium. The magnesium can help reduce inflammation and increase muscle and nerve function while sulfates aid in the body’s absorption of nutrients and flushing of toxins. To me, this all seems like extra credit because that’s not why I bought it in the first place! This product is something I picked up from Ulta with a gift card I received from Christmas. I was almost out of bubble bath but I didn’t know what to get because I tend to use a lot at a time and many of the bottles were both small and expensive. I almost gave up, but then I found Dr. Teal’s. This is one huge 34 oz bottle of bubble bath that is only $7. This stuff smells so calming, has all the benefits of epsom salt AND the few times I’ve used it were the best baths of my life. I’m talking, best nights of sleep I’ve had in a while, calm mind and calm muscles.

3. Candle-ology, Wasabi:
In my hometown there is a shop called Moynihan Gallery that sells art and housewares. At the back of their shop they have a candle and scent shop in the back called Candle-ology where you can create your own custom scented candle from their large collection of scents. They have everything from earthy scents, floral scents, food scents too like hot chocolate. My mom and I were there for a while smelling almost all of their collection. I didn’t make my own scent but I did find one scent that I had to take home with me, which was called ‘wasabi’. It has a is light, clean citrusy and somewhat spicy scent. I’ve never smelled anything like it! The scent range is quite large, filling the entire apartment for a couple of days. The next one I am excited to buy is ‘tomato leaf’ and who knows! Maybe I’ll do a custom scent one day too.

4. Invisibilia podcast:
Those who know me even a little know that I love podcasts and radio shows in general. When Serial came out I followed it week by week and that’s pretty much how I feel about the show Invisibilia too, which explores the science of the mind and cognitive reasoning. That may sound super boring but it’s told with stories about people who have overcome unbelievable circumstances like a blind man who teaches other blind people how to create images and see the world around them using echo location. Another episode deals with the power of human thoughts. I have gobbled this so up so far! So if I were you, I’d add this to your podcast list right now.

5. Stila Convertible Color in Lillium:
With the Ulta gift card burning a hole in my pocket I decided to shop a new cheek color because until this shopping trip, I had been rocking the same blush for about 5 years and I needed to replace it. I quickly became sidetracked by all of the lovely shades of pale pink lip colors that I all of a sudden ‘absolutely needed in my life!’. I bet I wandered around Ulta for a good 30 minutes trying to figure out what to buy before I found the Stila Convertible Color compact. This thing does both lip and cheek color and does both well. I’m usually pretty skeptical yet hopeful with products like this because I want to believe that I can have it all in one item, but I usually wind up disappointed. Because this item is in my ‘favorites’ post you can probably tell that I’m pretty happy with it! As a cheek color, it blends into the skin easily with a blush brush and as a lip color it is subtle and not drying. I was so glad to get the item I wanted and needed for one price and not an outrageous price either.

6. Young Living ‘Breathe Again’ roll on:
One of my favorite products I’ve used since becoming a member of Young Living Essential Oils has been the ‘Breathe Again’ roll on. My sinus are always in need a lot of love so this product has been a great addition to clearing some sinus pressure and mild congestion. The smell is minty and the sensation is akin to vicks vaporub but not as intense. Unlike other essential oil products, the roll on makes application easy while still feeling instant relief.

7. Lili Bermuda in ‘Coral’:
Early in December, my mom went to house sit for a friend in Bermuda (pretty awesome, right?) Anyway, while she was there she saw so many beautiful sights and enjoyed a lot of the small businesses, one of which was a perfumery. When she told me about it I asked her if she could get me some and sure enough, on Christmas morning that was one of the gifts I got! She got me the travel sized scent of ‘Coral’. It has got to be my favorite scent of all time, and I’m a girl who loves her scents! What I love the most about it, other than the light citrus and floral notes is that it really stays with my body chemistry. Most perfumes I use fade in a matter of minutes, but this scent sticks with me for hours. I know that when it’s used up I’ll have a hard time not ordering it online immediately.

I really hope your first step into this new year has been a good one! I’m looking forward to what the next phase in this year will look and feel like (also scared shitless, to be honest). The next phase is ‘detox’. More on that later…

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Productivity Week: final thoughts

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Originally I wasn’t going to do a ‘final thoughts’ post.

My plan was to wrap up with my last post, but then I thought that it would imply that I think that I have life all figured out and everything is easy now, as well as an overall ‘look at how great I am now!’ kind of thing, which isn’t true at all. Getting by from day to day feels easier but I’m not on cruise control by any means.

Just because you have a system in place doesn’t mean that you can kick back and let it do its thing. It is important that you notice when things don’t work out and a process feels like it gets in the way or a list isn’t making any sense. This doesn’t mean your system failed you, just that you have to change it.

The real failure would be in just letting it fail.

Re evaluating the lists, timelines, apps and calendars you rely on will help you stay honest and productive. A way that I make sure that I check myself is that I have events scheduled in my Wunderlist that asks me to do some review.

I do a daily, weekly and monthly review. Each of these reviews look slightly different and last for about 15 minutes. These reviews are opportunities to empty my mind of anything that I might have be needlessly been storing, review my calendar a few days or weeks out, look at my next action items and take a look at how I’ve been using my productivity tools.

Constantly reviewing myself was something that I brushed off when I first heard about it because frankly, it felt like busy work. I did give it a chance and was surprised at how many things I was able to catch with such direct prompts. For me, the structure has given me a starting point, not the end point, that’s for me to figure out.

The other thing that has been an adjustment has been learning to give my mind space to relax. I’m so use to having my mind feel panicked (even if it is only just a little bit) and searching for the next thing I ‘should be’ doing. At times I catch myself trying to find things to worry about. I have to remind myself that everything is taken care of and now I can just clear my mind or focus on something new. This is a problem that feels more like a luxury when it arrives. Most of the time I find that I am chugging along, not too busy or bored either which is the best feeling you can expect to have.

Okay! That’s it for my Productivity Week! I hope you enjoyed it and learned a few helpful bits too. I had so much fun putting this mini series together.

If you have anything that has worked for you, please share! I love to hear about how people are making their life easier so they can enjoy the good stuff even more.

Have a great weekend! I hope it’s productive and restful.

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Productivity Week: AnyList

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One of the lessons GTD preaches is to have only one master list. For that I use Wunderlist. Except for…

Meal planning.

I treat meal planning differently than the rest of my list making strategy because it is a list that depends on another set of lists, recipes.

Christopher gave me the heads up on my favorite way to plan meals which is AnyList. Like the other productivity apps I’ve discussed there is some upfront work involved but it can save you time in the long run.

Once a week Christopher and I plan our week and what the meals will look like, this depends on our schedule. Will one of us be out of town one night? Do we have plans to go out another night? Are we going on vacation soon? We decide on the nights we will be eating at home, then decide what we will make. Some meals are made in larger quantity for the sake of leftovers on a busier night of the week others are crowd favorite recipes like taco Tuesday. When that is in place and added to our dinner schedule to our calendar in iCal, then I head over to AnyList. Here is where the magic happens…

You can add recipes to it. So add your mom’s chili recipe to the app, it will ask for the ingredients, preparation steps and then it saves it for you. From there you can select individual ingredients from the recipe you will be using and they will be added to your grocery list! I have my grocery list shared with Christopher so we can both make edits. I even have different lists for each of the stores we shop at. This app is free, but it can only be used on your phone UNLESS you buy the yearly family plan or individual plan which gives you web editing access and many other handy tools like a meal planning calendar. The family plan is only $11.99 a year and to me, it is sooooo worth it! I use my phone all the time when I’m cooking because SO MANY of the recipes I use are from Pinterest and cooking while scrolling through a blog post with a great recipe is super annoying. Even using a cookbook tends to be cumbersome. When the recipe is on your phone with AnyList it is minimal and easy to read. The only bummer is adding all the recipes from the phone, which is kind of clunky. Now that I have the family membership I can copy and paste the whole recipe when I’m on the computer, which is so much easier.

What I think is so special about it is that there is a direct action link between the recipes you are cooking and your grocery list. All you have to ask yourself is ‘what do I want for dinner?’ find the recipe and then select the ingredients you need and then they are sent to your grocery list.

Even the grocery list is smart. It automatically organizes your list by categories, like produce, meat, dairy. This makes a major difference because it makes to act of shopping easier so you aren’t hauling your booty all the way back to the dairy aisle because milk was at the bottom of your list.

If nothing else, I’d recommend giving the free version of this app a whirl. It really will make difference.

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Productivity Week: Evernote

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And then there was Evernote. Before I took the GTD class on Skillshare I never understood the draw to this app and the productivity power it holds, but since I’ve starting using it I have been amazed. The Crome extension and sharing ability with the new iOS for my iPhone is part of the reason why I think it is so smart. I have been the Queen of open tabs when I use my internet browser because I want to ‘remember this’, ‘save that!’ Now I can really save it and it isn’t clutter, much like Pinterest but it also is accessible when I’m not connected to the internet. I have my account organized with topic specific notebooks and I can set reminders on content too. Evernote is free, lives on my phone, tablet and computer.

Here’s an example of how it has saved me; I was doing some research at a couple different health food stores and wanted to document comparable prices and products so on the fly I created a new note for each store, added photos and comments. Now I can view this content at home and when I’m out. The research I did doesn’t have to just live in my head because remembering it really isn’t that important, now the knowledge I gained is now with me all the time.

Here’s another useful example; When I create blog posts and want to link back to something I can clip the link and send it to my ‘blog content’ notebook in Evernote and I can go back to it when I’m prepping my post to be published. I don’t have to search for it again or leave it open as a tab in my web browser. Sometimes I still forget that I can do this! Old habits, man…

Keeping projects in progress in Evernote has got to be my favorite thing about it. I can add to it, change it, reorganize it from anywhere. I can add typed documents, articles I found online, videos, photos, etc. This makes the space more complete and reliable.

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Productivity Week: Wunderlist

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Basically, technology and GTD saved my brain.

The human brain is not built to remember everything that’s going on in your life. This is why to-do lists are used by most people, but finding the right system for me wasn’t as easy as go to a store, buy an agenda and boooooom, problem solved. These agendas very quickly started to look like a war zone, I would scratch things out, stuff things in it, use cool colors for no real reason (if the color changes have no reason it can start to feel like there is a reason because your brain likes to make associations and it ends up making it visually difficult for your brain to organize – rant over) leave the thing at home, and then your system is a wash. If you can’t rely on your system then you don’t have a system at all.

Enter the couple of the year…Wunderlist and my phone!

Props to that little hunk of tech for buzzing or dinging at me when I want things to get done or generating a list of things I need to budget time for every day. If I need to move something around, change details or delete something this power couple is on it! The system has everything that I need for it to work, it’s clean, simple and takes very minimal effort.

But, there is effort.

The effort comes from immediately capturing  flashes of inspiration, a memory or conversation. You must do something with your ideas right away! Don’t let them leave your mind as quickly as they arrived. Since I always have my phone with me so this is why my phone is the best tool for capturing thoughts quickly. Wunderlist is the dumping ground for all the random things I want to do, need to do, and want to remember for later. I organize it all in assigned lists such as ‘cleaning’ ‘personal to-do’ and a shared ‘to-do’ with myself and Christopher where you can also assign tasks to an individual. I make a point to check my to-do list every day, first thing in the morning and last thing in the evening. I make adjustments such as setting due dates, add reminder alerts, set recurring events. Another very key part of this practice is to name your tasks as specifically as possible. For example, using a task like ‘organize the closet’ is pretty vague since you can ‘organize’ about a million different ways. Something better would be to try making that item more focused on next actions, like ‘pick up baskets for the closet from Mom’, this is when you might want to attach a due date of a time you know when you’ll see her, a reminder too would be even better. I keep my Wunderlist in mind when I am looking at my calendar too so I do not over book myself. Which I have done SO often in the past.

So yeah there is effort, but it’s only 15-ish minutes a day and in this practice you will be able to trust your to-do list and it won’t collect dust like the ones that have failed you in the past…sorry old agendas of yore…

I started using Wunderlist this summer and the advantages of using it came into clear focus in December in the midst of the holiday season. However, since I took the GTD oriented classes at the beginning of January, my lists are better than ever. I rely on those lists like you wouldn’t believe! Amazingly, Wunderlist is FREE (there is a premium version too, but the free version is so good that you can get along perfectly fine with just that). Wunderlist auto syncs with your devices like computer, phone, tablet and the design is very intuitive. The only issue I have with the design is that the interface feels kind of old and its insistence of using Gill Sans as its typeface. I can look past that because it is beyond easy to use and the most helpful features are free which still blows my mind, including features like sharing lists, setting due dates, reminders, recurring due dates, subtasks, tags and notes.

Also, they are the nicest folks on social media. Hey, Dom!

Task managing can feel really overwhelming, but as long as you keep the list honest, always changing and follow a consistent system you will succeed. Give your brain back the power to generate ideas, it doesn’t need to store your multiple to-do lists too.

Free your mind, try Wunderlist and live yo life!

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Productivity Week: the beginning

PW_thebeginning

Welcome to Productivity Week!

In recent months I’ve been spending my free time cleaning up my poor use of time. I thought I would pass along some nuggets of wisdom that I’ve adopted to any of you fellow scatter brained people with the best of intentions out there.

Let’s start out by me giving you a brief intro of why this became so important to me. See, productivity has not always been a friend of mine. I have been chronically late for things my whole life, scatter brained as heck accompanied by an always changing to-do list associated with a constant feeling of never having enough time in the day to do what I find most valuable. It got to a point where I really thought my brain was failing me and I would forget some pretty important things.

My sun sign is Capricorn but I am on the cusp between that and Sagittarius. (ps. skip this section if you are super annoyed by astrology, I won’t mind) Capricorns are very grounded people and are comforted by order, structure and logic while Sagittarius are more happy-go-lucky and dream big. Basically it’s like the tortoise vs the hare. Being a little bit of both can be confusing when I want to live a blissful life but get caught up in the details and can’t find a balance to calm down both sides of what makes me tick. I get really annoyed when things don’t make logical sense and I can’t find a system to rely on (i.e. I am late to things and can’t remember to do the things I need to do) and then I get mad that these problems get in my way at all (i.e. spending more time on feeling upset than happy). This is a battle I’ve struggled with for a long time.

Then (start reading now if you skipped the last section) I found GTD!!! Sweet, sweet GTD. This program was just what I needed as sort of how-to guide on being more efficient on a daily basis. My logical side was like “YES! Directions! THANK YOU!” and my happy more creative side was jumping up and down because this meant my mind would be more freed up to have time to experiment, write and have fun. GTD or (Get Things Done) is a process oriented strategy that encourages everyone to remove all of the reminders and to-do lists from your brain and store them in a reliable place to organize by category, priority and project. This method has been widely loved and I recommend you giving it a look too! This method has been has been well established by David Allen. He has a couple great TED talks here and here that you should watch if you have some time.

I heard about this method through the Skillshare class called Get Stuff Done Like A Boss. I enrolled in the class and it has absolutely changed me. I then took Tiago Forte’s follow up class called Design Your Habits. Both classes were super powerful for me and maybe they will be just what you need to be even more of a BA.

Okay that’s it for today’s intro to this powerful week of ass kicking productivity! Check back tomorrow for more! (you better believe I just checked something off from my to-do list for the day and it felt amazing.)



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