Organized Charm: January 2014

Friday, January 31, 2014

NYNL Day 31: The Final Challenge

Day 31 Mini-Challenge:


Remember yesterday when I said to celebrate every accomplishment, no matter how small? Yes, finishing a series of Mini-Challenges totally counts! Hopefully, through this series, you have been able to narrow down and clearly define your plan(s) for the future. I hope that you have been able to create an effective system for making it happen and have felt motivated that you can do it!

If there was anything that was unclear for you, if you have questions, or just want to share your goals (but remember, not too much!) then feel free to do it in the comments or to send me an e-mail (or a Facebook message or a Tumblr message or a tweet). 

I love y’all for reading this. 

- - -

Thank You:

If you read this series from beginning to end, THANK YOU! If you read this series from day 30 to today, THANK YOU! If you are visiting this website and are reading about NYNL for the very first time, THANK YOU! 

Y’all are awesome and amazing and wonderful and you totally make my day! :) 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

NYNL Day 30: Celebrate Your Accomplishments

Welcome to Day 30! 

Mini-Challenge: Celebrate Your Accomplishments!

Even the little ones. Even the seemingly unimportant ones. And especially the big ones!

Over the past 30 days, we have taken our big picture goal and broken it down into a million little pieces. Now, each one of those little pieces is it's own little challenge. And each one deserves to be celebrated because it's leading you to the big goal! 

So, go out for Margaritas after Finals! Take a trip after finishing that big project at work! Get a manicure after running that race! 

Celebrate yourself and all of the great, wonderful, awesome things that you do! :) 

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

NYNL Day 29: Be Careful Who You Tell

Today is all about secrets. Or, at least, not broadcasting all of your life information to everyone you know. And no, I’m not talking about posting Facebook statuses about what you had for breakfast (but… you know… please don’t do that either). 

I’m talking about this: 

Telling someone your Identity Goals makes you less likely to achieve them.

Which goals are Identity Goals? The ones that are personal. The ones that will change you a little bit as a person once they are completed.

The biggest one that comes to mind is when (at the beginning of the year, every single year) people start announcing via social media: I have decided to stop smoking! Everyone (me, included) responds with things like good job! and I’m so proud of you! 

And unfortunately, a few weeks later… the goal is abandoned. 

Why does that happen? 

Check out this 3:16 minute TED Talk by Derek Sivers:
Now, does this apply to all goals? No. What if you’re trying to start your own business? Obviously, you’ll need investors, support, etc. 

But here is the dangerous thing that we’re trying to avoid:

Telling others your goal makes it a Social Reality.
The satisfaction that you get from simply announcing the goal(s) takes away your motivation to actually WORK towards it. This is because, when it’s acknowledged by others, it feels real in your mind. 

So, carefully select your audience. Try to only announce goals and life plans to the people who will actually play a part in helping you achieve them.

And let the rest of the world be surprised by all of the awesome things that you do! :)


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

NYNL Day 28: Taking Action Checklist

It’s Checklist Day (which is sort of my favorite day)! YAY! 

So, this week has been all about taking all of that goal writing and planning and finally putting it into action! If you missed a day (or 7), no big deal… here is everything that you missed :) 

Just look at this week and choose one valuable, yet doable, goal to accomplish!

Think about the tasks that are needed to accomplish the weekly goal… and make them into a to-do list!

Now that you have that handy dandy to-do list, go and DO some things on it! 

As you go through each day (working on your to-do list), simply write down your current routines!

Look for ways to rearrange your daily schedule that will create more time for working on goals!

Write down what you accomplished from your to-do list everyday… even if it’s nothing! 

I am so incredibly happy and excited that we have completed 4 WEEKS of goal setting, so far! 

Way to go! :)

Monday, January 27, 2014

NYNL Day 27: Track Your Progress

Are you still taking action? Great! Still working on your routines? Excellent! 

You’ll need those for today’s Mini Challenge: 

Write down what you accomplished. 

Starting today, we are going to begin to write down what we did to further our progress towards our goals. Every. Day. 

If the goal was to make all A’s this semester, then the to-do list for the week probably looks something like this:

Introductory Activity
Read Chapter 1
Read Chapter 2
Work on Paper

The problem with a to-do list is that many of us make it and then forget about it. We don’t come back until we’re finished with something.

But what if one item took a lot longer than you expected? And now you can’t cross it off your list because it isn’t technically complete but you know that you DID work on it (that’s seriously the worst). 

Well, by tracking our progress, our basic to-do lists kind of turn into running journal/logs of our work… which is exactly what they should be! 

Here is an example:

Introductory Activity

Monday—> Read over the directions and started brainstorming
Tuesday—> Reread through the directions and created a rough outline
Wednesday—> NOTHING
Thursday—> Revised rough outline. Fluffed up writing. Turned in Intro Activity. 

And {finally} you can do this:
Introductory Activity


See how much better that looks than leaving the same item lingering on a to-do list for days and days… making us feel all productive and whatnot? Always track your progress, even if you didn’t make any!

Trust me, you won’t allow yourself to write that nothing word down too many times :) 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

NYNL Day 26: Modify Your Daily Routines

Today's challenge is basically just an extension of yesterday’s! Once you have your notes on your current routines…

Modify your current routines to make time for working on your goals daily.

You will probably have to cut some things out of your old routine in order to add these new activities... Which is a good thing!

If you are trying to add a 30-minute workout to your daily routine, play around with your schedule until you find a place where it will effectively fit. Don't tell yourself you're going to wake up 30 minutes earlier to do it if you know you won't stick to it (I have done this SO many times!).

What time of the day do you usually have the most energy? When do you have the most downtime? When do you get sucked into those bouts of unproductivity? 

Well, then… try to fit the new workout routine into that time! Use it to replace another, less important item with it. 

This is why it is so important for us to be writing everything down so that we can actually SEE where our time is going and how to get it back!

Managing our time well is the closest we will ever get to adding more hours to the day! :) 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

NYNL Day 25: Write Down Your Routines

Today, we are focusing on the daily actions that we have set in place. We typically think of routines as recurring productive tasks to complete day after day. But, in reality, not all routines are good. In fact, I bet that a lot of us have some pretty lousy routines, if we really think about it (I certainly do!).  

So today’s challenge is to really examine those...

Write Down Your Daily Routines. 

As you go through each day for the next week or so… pay more attention to your daily habits. What do you do and when do you do it? 

Note Things that Frustrate You. 
For example, when I wake up in the morning, I want my coffee to be ready. I always have the best intentions of preparing it at night and setting the automatic timer for 5:00 AM. However, nearly every night, I wait until I’m super sleepy and ready to go to bed. Then I think, I should make coffee before I go to bed…  buuuut... I’m so tired tonight… I’ll just make it in the morning. And then I wake up in the morning, and it’s hard to get out of bed, and I’m still half-asleep, and I make a ridiculous mess all over the counter with the coffee grinds, and I vow to start setting up the coffee maker at night. 

And that is the cycle of my morning coffee plight. 

Compare Routines to Lists of Things to Improve and Maintain
Well, after making these lists, guess what? A ton of things on both lists were impacted by my daily routines! Of course I didn’t want to make coffee at night if I was doing homework before and after dinner. Why was I putting my homework off until so late when I get off work at 3? Oh, that would be because I was wasting (at least) 1 hour each afternoon on social media. 

Rearrange Your Routines
Interestingly enough, Limit Screen Time was one of the items on my list of things to improve. I already knew that it was sucking valuable time out of my day yet I was letting it. Taking that hour away from social media and giving it to schoolwork meant that I had an extra hour in the evenings. Which just happens to be more than enough time to make coffee and set the timer. 

Write This Down
5 Items to Add/Subtract for your Morning, Afternoon, and Evening Routines.

After all, how we spend our hours is how we spend our days… And how we spend our days is how we spend our lives!

Pinterest told me so. :)


Friday, January 24, 2014

NYNL Day 24: Take Action!

Today’s mini challenge? You are not even ready for it. SO freaking difficult...

Try to accomplish one thing from your to-do list.

Seriously. The challenge for this day is literally to do ONE thing from your to-do list!

How easy is that?! 

At this point, everything on that to-do list is leading up to accomplishing a big goal! The only thing to do now is to put all that planning into action... just get out there and do it!

And it sounds easy… because it kind of is easy. 

And just because it’s easy, Don’t try to complete the whole list in one day. You'll burn yourself out.

And Don’t give yourself a ridiculously difficult amount of items to do! You'll neglect the other parts if your life. 

The point is just to get into the daily habit/routine of working these little baby steps into your everyday life. Can you imagine the awesome things that you’ll be able to accomplish with 10 years of productive baby steps?!

One at a time. Little by little. :) 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

NYNL Day 23: Make a To-Do List

It’s really kind of crazy to me how simple these challenges are getting! At the beginning of this series, I knew that long-term planning would make prioritizing a little easier, but I had NO IDEA how completely simple it would make things!

Here is today’s Mini-Challenge: 
Make a To-Do List for this week.

I know, right? 

So… remember yesterday, when we designated a goal for each week this month? 
Take that goal and break it down into your to-do list for this week.

When I saw mine, I could not believe it! It looks just like every other mundane to-do list I’ve ever made in my life. Except that, this time, I knew it wasn’t. Thanks to my 10-year plan, 5-year plan, and checkpoints, I know that everything on that list matters!

Clean windows is not just another household chore. It’s a way to help our house sell so that we can move to whatever house in whatever city we choose!

E-mail advisor is not just another timeless task on my list. It’s the way I'll find out the requirements that I still need to meet before I can graduate and move on from this part of my life.

By working backwards through my life plan, I am able see the purpose of every small task in my daily life. And each of these little tasks is not just another thing to cross off of my list… it’s an eensy-weensy, baby step that’s taking me in the direction that I want to go! 

And I say YAY for baby steps! :) 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

NYNL Day 22: Designate a Weekly Goal

Check out your goal for this month. What is it? Well, I bet you can’t accomplish it all in one day. So break it down into 4 smaller steps. 

Mini Challenge: Make a goal for each week of this month

These should be 4 manageable steps that will make a significant impact. 

Here is my example. My goal for the month of January is this:
House staged perfectly and prepped for market

Well, how do we get there? We can’t just stick a sign in the yard and expect it to sell (we’ve tried). And we can’t just ask the staging fairy to *poof* make it “perfectly” staged. It takes a lot of work. 

No really… it takes a LOT of work. 

So we needed to create a plan that made the tasks less daunting and more manageable. 

Here it was:

Week 1: Fix/Repair damage to house
Week 2: Paint all walls neutral colors
Week 3: Discard/Store all excess items in house
Week 4: Contact realtor… take new pictures… officially list house

I am happy to say that we are 100% on schedule with this! Breaking down our very big goal (living in a different house in a different city) has been broken down into very manageable baby steps. 

Call a realtor to take new pictures of the house this week? 

Why, yes. I can do that. :) 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

NYNL Day 21: Goal Planning Checklist

It’s checklist day! YAY!

Here is the checklist for planning goals:

Create a halfway checkpoint for each of your big goals. Reaching it will be almost as exciting as reaching the final goal!

Studies have found that people lose motivation when they are halfway finished with a big project. Read this post for advice on regaining momentum! 

Create some smaller checkpoints along the way to keep you on the right track! And, yes, reaching each one (no matter how small) is a cause for celebration!

Create a system for keeping up with your goals and keep moving in the right direction! Everything needs a plan!

Go shopping! Get a notebook, a journal, a calendar, a to-do list… whatever will help you stay focused on your goals!

Try choosing one goal to focus on each month. This will make sure each goal has a chance to be top priority.

Now, go enjoy your day! :) 

Monday, January 20, 2014

NYNL Day 20: Designate a Monthly Goal

Now we have a plan for how to keep up with our checklists. AND we've spent all of our money buying the supplies to organize it all (oh, maybe that was just me).

Today’s Mini-Challenge: Designate one primary goal for each month!

Here is the way that I did it:

I looked at where I want to be one year from now. Then, I kind of dedicated every month this year to helping me accomplish one aspect of that plan. 

I know that sounds confusing so here's an example:

One year from now, we want to be out of this house. So I've chosen the whole month of January to focus on getting our house ready to sell. The repairs, the staging, the realtors, the downsizing, the storing… everything it takes to get a house ready for the market is taking top priority. Sure, I'm still working towards my other goals... But the house is #1 right now.

Next month, I'll need to start getting ready for (even more) certification exams for my career, so that will take top priority over thing else. 

In March, mid-terms and a huge project are due right before Sprig Break (of course they are)... So schoolwork will move to my top priority.

Eventually, I will accomplish those things and rotate through my big goals again. April may be dedicated to packing up our home (hopefully!), May will undoubtedly be dedicated to finals, June to cover letters and resumes, and on and on...

Of course, you can work on your goals however you choose. It just works best for me to see each new month dedicated to a new goal!

We are finally seeing all of the planning fall into place and I am SO excited about that!

Next week: Taking Action! :) 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

NYNL Day 19: Get the Tools You Need

Today, get the supplies that you need to help you follow your plan. 

Whether it’s a notebook, planner, tiny calendar, big calendar, Excel spreadsheet, whatever you choose. 

Is it going to be color-coded in any way? Then get the pens/markers/colored pencils to do that. 

Do you need Post-it’s or Washi Tape for to-do lists, checkpoints, or tentative dates? Then grab those! 

Today is just a day to figure out what kind of plan works well for you. 

Look at the other plans that you follow… like a daily to-do list. How do you get things done now? Do you use an app? A notepad? Minions? (And do you know where I could find some?)

Whatever is working for you now will probably work for you in the future as well. 

Here is what I did:

In my computer, I created a file in Word Notebook just for my goals. I set up a color-coded tab for each of my 4 big goals. Under each tab, I have my 10 year plan, 5 year plan, 2.5 year plan, 1 year plan, 6 month plan, 3 month plan, 1 month plan. Of course, this will be easy to edit as time goes by. It will also be a way for me to quickly reference the small tasks that I need to complete each week… those dates then go in my planner.

In my planner, I decided to use gray/silver for my goals & checkpoints. I placed those dates in my planner using silver washi tape… which I’m currently using to help me try to be more spontaneous (it’s not working). 

Basically, today is an excuse to spend your life savings in the office supply aisle in Target. ENJOY! :)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

NYNL Day 18: Create a System to Follow

Now that you’ve written out a plan,

 Spend some time thinking about how you will follow your plan. 

There are really so many different ways to keep up with all of the checkpoints and keep moving!

Here are some that I’ve thought of:

Write it in a calendar.
This is what I chose to do (of course)… because I am obsessed with calendars and planners of all kinds! I got some silver Washi tape and a Sharpie. Then I wrote and taped my “checkpoints” into my planner. 

Write a checklist.
Creating a checklist is a great way to motivate yourself to complete tasks! Obviously, checklists are effective… otherwise, we wouldn’t create them for everything! Make one and keep it in your planner, on your desk, or on a bulletin board where you can see it! 

Write it in a computer document.
Creating a plan in Word or Excel is definitely a great way to keep the plan organized and current. Both programs make it easy to edit and rearrange things. Also, with the Word Notebook layout, there are even little checkmark boxes AND different tabs can be created for different goals!

Write it in a journal.
Maybe creating a goal journal/notebook seems like the most logical way to follow your plan. Reading through it frequently will help remind you which path you are on and why. This also leaves room for a little more detail than a normal checklist would. 

Now, go set it up! :) 

These are just some ways that I thought of that could be easy for following a plan! If you came up with something different, I’d love to hear about it!

Friday, January 17, 2014

NYNL Day 17: Set Checkpoints

Start at your halfway point and work backwards! Basically, we are cutting each big task in half to make it easier to do. 

So, start at the 5-year mark aka the halfway checkpoint to your big goal
Cut the halfway point in half. 

So, where/what should be happening 2 1/2 years from now? Great! Now take that and do the same thing again. 1 year from now? Then 6 months from now? Then 1 month from now? These are going to be used as little “checkpoints” to keep us moving in the direction of our long term goals!

Here are examples from my list:

5 Year Plan: Moving into our "forever home"

2.5 Year Plan: Looking at properties in the area that we decide we like best

1 Year Plan: Living in loft/studio

6 Month Plan: Moving out of our house

2 Month Plan: Current house perfectly staged and accepting offers

1 Month Plan: Working hard to stage house perfectly and prep for market

Clearly, the things on this list will evolve, change, and shift over time. I mean, I really have no idea how long it will take for anything to happen. Or whether or not it will happen at all. Maybe some huge, life-changing event occurs next week and my whole entire plan gets derailed. But what if it doesn’t? If some external factor derails my plan; fine. But I don’t want to reach one of these time checkpoints and realize that I didn’t reach a goal because I just didn’t put in the work. 

Don’t freak out (like I admittedly did). These aren’t permanent or set in stone!

Just a “ballpark idea” of where you would like to be so you can start moving in the right direction now! :)

Thursday, January 16, 2014

NYNL Day 16: Overcoming the Halfway Point

Well, today is the halfway point for this series. Actually, maybe it was yesterday. Either way, we’re pretty much in the middle. Eek! The halfway point! We’ve done all this work and written all of these things and read all of these posts (riiiight?) and we’re only HALF WAY finished?

And think of all the halfway points that are challenging:
Midterms, Halftime, Workouts, Distance Running, Essay Writing, Lunch Breaks, Roadtrips…

It kind of seems like no matter what it is that we’re doing, we start out so motivated and ready! We work hard for a long time. But when the realization that all that work put in has only gotten us halfway to where we’re going, we kind of lose our momentum. 

This is the most dangerous part for any project and it is important to know how to defeat it! Obviously, not for the sake of this series because I’ll never know if you completed it or not (unless you tell me). It is important because it will happen when you realize you are halfway to your BIG GOALS!

Here 3 the ways to overcome the Midway Motivation Meltdown! 

1. Look back at what you’ve already accomplished.
For example, check out this one of all of the things that we have accomplished through this series: 

Thought about a 10-year plan
Created a 10-year plan
Recognized 30 things we would like to improve in our lives
Recognized 30 things we do really well
Narrowed down our life themes
Prioritized the things we would like to improve
Reevaluated our 10-year plans
Made our goals more specific
Determined how we will measure them
Ensured that they are attainable
Made them results-focused
Given them timelines!

That’s kind of encouraging, right? This is why TRACKING progress is such a huge deal! For school, I look back through my planner at all of the things that are highlighted in pink. If I’ve come this far… I can finish strongly, too! 

2. Only focus on the next baby step.
Sometimes, when I’m working on a large project, I make the mistake of writing my to-do list like this:
Write Unit on Time Telling. That’s my list. So, after I’ve researched activities to do in class, looked up materials to use, linked it to whatever other educational standards we are working on at that time, and merged it with at least one other subject… I realize that I’m only halfway finished because I still have to WRITE the dang thing! Break down the remainder of your goal and make a list of each and every tiny thing to be done. Marking those off will give 

3. Give yourself a break.
I do this pretty often right around the middle of the semester. I am over it. Like, completely. I don’t want to read another e-mail, or write another discussion, or review another syllabus, or (I can’t believe I’m saying this) even look at my planner. When I get like that, I know that there is NO point in trying to force myself to work. I give myself a day (or several) to feel like something other than a student. I know it won’t be long before I feel motivated to do what I love again… but let yourself have a break. You deserve it!

So… take a break or whatever you need and get prepared to do some awesome planning tomorrow (or whenever you feel un-over it)! :) 

How do you keep yourself motivated in the middle of tough projects?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

NYNL Day 15: Create a Halfway Point

Y’all, we are (finally) getting to my favorite part: THE PLANNING! And I absolutely LOVE to have a plan! We are also halfway through this series. And what better way to celebrate than by creating a halfway point for each of our goals (there is no better way).

Today, take each of your big life goals and create a halfway point for it.

Here’s an easy example: 
Big Goal —> Complete a marathon in 10 years
Halfway Point —> Complete a half marathon in 5 years

It literally could not get any easier than that. 

Here’s another example:
Big Goal —> Complete a nursing program in 5 years
Halfway Point —> Have half of the program work finished in 2.5 years

Okay, one more:
Big Goal —> Lose 20 pounds in 2 years
Halfway Point —> Lost 10 pounds in 1 year

*Warning: The Halfway Crisis*
So, these halfway points are pretty easy but you ever noticed how halfway through something, you feel depleted, exhausted, hopeless, where you feel like you have completely quit caring about a project (hello, Midterms!)? Actually, that’s 100% normal: This research study found that our motivation is U-shaped, starting high at the beginning and getting high again as we near the end. But motivation actually does plummet right when we’re in the middle of our progress! 

Discouraging, right? Don’t worry because we are going to make a plan to beat the Midway Motivation Meltdown

And don’t go Googling that term because I totally just made it up :)


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

NYNL Day 14: Checklist for Writing Goals

So, this completes week 2 and I am already feeling so much better about my own goals! Like, really a lot better. I’m not constantly freaking out about my future (well, at least not as much as I usually am). Not only that, I am taking more ACTION on a daily basis in order to stick to the timelines that I’ve set for myself. 

Okay, this day is basically just a checklist to make sure that we’ve hit all of the steps of how to WRITE goals that are actually substantial enough to stick to for the future. By the way… all those people who made “resolutions” for the New Year (you know, the ones who tried to start or stop something cold turkey… with no PLAN?) are already starting to break them. 

It’s true. I saw it on Facebook.

Here is the Week 2 Checklist:

1. Reevaluate 10-Year Plan
Read over the original 10-year plan, have a good laugh about its ridiculousness, then rewrite the parts that sound superficial.

2. Are the goals Specific?
Take the giant, broad, vague “goals” from the 10-year plan and turn them into really specific statements that include how, what, and why.

3. Are the goals Measurable?
Create a criteria for measuring each and every goal.

4. Are the goals realistically Achievable?
Be sure that you have all of the skills, resources, and abilities (or that you can acquire them) needed to accomplish each goal.

5. Are the goals Results-Based?
What is the end result, accomplishment, achievement of each goal? After all, we don’t have time to work on things that won’t produce results.

6. Are the goals Time-Bound?
Create a time frame for each goal. It should be long enough to actually accomplish it but short enough to motivate you to get started!

Okay, one more thing...

Do the goals use Positive Language?
Basically, you want to give yourself something to do… not something to not do. My 2013 resolution was to Stop Worrying (which clearly didn’t happen). But… I mean, that’s so vague and negative;
No wonder it didn’t happen.

Maybe something like this would have worked better:
Have a more positive attitude by re-focusing my mind on the good things that might happen rather than the bad ones. 

Check, check, check, check, check, check, and... check! :) 

{If you are reading this series for the first time, you can check out what it’s all about here}

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