Saturday was my cousin Abbey’s birthday. She’s a regular here on the blog, you’ve probably read a book review or two by her.
I’ve alluded to the fact that we’re no strangers to doing projects together. Hidden away in a shared Google Drive folder named The X Files, we have projects we’ve done for the past five plus years. I thought in honor of her big 2-5, I’d share some of the projects in The X Files that were completed before I made the blog.
The Cocktail Book
I’ve alluded to this one before, but we wrote a cocktail book a few years back. Our Christmas parties tend to get a little out of hand – we have themes and everything. One year our theme was “You Are What You Drink.” We all dressed up as our favorite drinks. Abbey had the cutest champagne costume and as a broke college student, I was a Pabst Blue Ribbon.
We like giving a gift to our large extended family each year as a way to say thank you to our parents and the aunts and uncles that make for such a special holiday. That year, we wrote a cocktail book with a different drink for each member of the family.
The book turned out real cute and with lots of yummy recipes. We have a few hardcover books lying around that come out around the holidays each year.
The South Park Animated Video
Another Christmas gift: we turned everyone into South Park characters.
As if that weren’t enough, we created a rendition of “Christmas Don’t Be Late” and changed the lyrics to correspond with each of our family member’s secret Christmas wishes. Unfortunately, my chipmunk singing was not the best and using Windows Movie Maker made it a frame-by-frame mess. But we certainly all made cute South Park characters.
Continuing in the Christmas spirit, last year’s theme was Disney Christmas. This year, paired with Abbey’s growing love of trivia, we made an epic Disney trivia. There were deep cuts and the slideshow was beautiful. Most of the slides relied on gifs, videos, and music, so posting pictures almost doesn’t do it justice. But here’s a few to give you an idea:
(My parents, brother, and I made a fantastic Incredible family, by the way.)
Aside from these, we’ve built board games, created a (horrible) podcast, and many more dumb ideas. Maybe someday I’ll tell those stories, but for now, a big happy birthday to Abbey – here’s to the next wave of our projects!
I have a bit of a confession: I’ve always been a daydreamer. A full-blown Capricorn, I thrive on setting goals far into the future – hello, welcome to my blog! When it comes to working towards improving myself in the short-term, I’ve never really understood it.
While I’m not the messiest person on the planet, I don’t make my bed. I never have. The concept of it bewilders me: why tidy up something I’m just going to make a mess later that night? The times I’ve made my bed are strictly limited to when I think there might be evening visitors.
On top of that, I adhere to a strong indoor-outdoor clothing policy. This might sound strange to some people, but I only wear clothes that are a little bit rattier that in the house. The clothes I wear outside of the house are a little higher quality, so I don’t want to wear them out but running them through so many clothing cycles. Seeing as I like many others have been staying at home for the past few months, my appearance hasn’t been the cutest.
My boyfriend is the exact opposite of me. The yin to my yang, he dresses up every single day, cleans his house every night, and spends time working on the little things. While I’m not a slob, my little quirks drive him crazy. He sat me down to explain his reasoning recently and honestly, it finally clicked. I understood.
The Formula That Changed Me
He argued that our daily life is the majority of our life. Most of the time, we’re just doing what we’re doing. He rationalized it as: if you dress like a slob every day, you become a slob. That one line stopped me in my tracks. I quickly realized the formula applied to every aspect of our daily lives: if you don’t do your dishes every day, you’re a person who lives in a house with dirty dishes.
Understanding that extending self-care to the minutiae of your daily life, you see maximum improvements in overall productivity and confidence. It’s really that simple. Living in a clean house just makes you happier. Sometimes these little things make all the difference.
As someone who didn’t understand this until recently, I felt like I was experiencing a breakthrough. Seriously, my mind shattered. I focus on the long-term and didn’t realize the short-term can help you get there. I shouldn’t be surprised either. After working on projects like organizing my life, I’ve been feeling the difference. I even wrote a whole post on it a little while ago. I guess I just didn’t connect the dots.
And if that wasn’t enough, you can just be a better partner/friend/family member. Grooming makes you more attractive and confident and a cleaner house is more inviting. Make your loved ones happy!
Edit: My boyfriend read this post and added: “if you’re half a percent better every day, that’s a lot of percents better in a year.” Okay, so he’s not the most eloquent – but you get the point. Maybe he should take on Project 4 with me.
Let’s talk about the little things: what little things make your day a little more productive or happier? I’m curious where else I can improve my daily life – help a girl out here.
There’s something so pure about the feeling of completing a goal you set. Not only do you have the satisfaction of completing whatever task you laid out in front of yourself, but it actually can increase your confidence and make you more likely to complete future goals. But when your goal keeps changing, are there different rules?
First, we have to ask why the goal is being changed? If you’re lowering it to something more attainable, then you’re not changing it, you’re settling. Or maybe you’re setting an intermediary goal to work towards what you actually want.
Changing your goal, on the other hand, shows that you’re internalizing it. You’re taking active steps and saying “Wait, wouldn’t it be better if I ____?” It shows self-awareness and evaluating what’s actually important to you.
Evolving goals are completely normal and healthy. I challenge you to look at goals you’ve set and haven’t worked on and ask yourself why you’re not actively working towards them. Do you need intermediary goals or are you just not interested in the goal you set?
My Evolving Goal
This was something I realized recently. I’ve always been in the habit of creating larger-than-life goals and telling myself that it wasn’t the right time to work on certain goals. I didn’t realize it was a sign.
You may have noticed Project 5 has been a little, well, quiet. Besides posting the project topic, it doesn’t seem like I’ve worked on actually writing a book. Abbey and I had this fantastic story, but putting words to paper was something both of us put off.
But we had the outlines of the book – it was a mystery novel. It had the twists and the turns. We planned out the characters and the settings meticulously. It was something we were interested in. But when it came to writing, we had no interest.
I think it’s because neither of us actually want to write a book. At least not at this point in our lives anyway. But we knew we had a story we wanted to see come to life.
I’ve mentioned before that Abbey and I are big fans of the Nancy Drew games. They’re essentially virtual escape rooms, filled with puzzles and clues. We’ve played so many, we’ve begun to recognize patterns in puzzle making. That’s when I realized that that was a way to express our story: making a game.
Everything clicked and fell into place. That’s what we’d do, we’d make a mystery game out of this story. We’d build puzzles and create dialogue and make a playable game. Who knows what form the game takes? Video game, board game, murder mystery party. It’s all something we would actually want to try. Also, wouldn’t it be fun for me to share some of the puzzles with you guys as we make them?
So with that, we have an evolved goal. I’m curious if other people think this way about goals, have you ever changed a goal you’ve had? If so, how did it turn out? I’m really interested if evolving goals have a higher success rate.
I’ve been away working on my law journal writing competition. What started as a three-week chance to earn a spot on a law journal at my school turned into one of the most stressful experiences in recent memory. Something kicked into high gear and I just wantedto compete. As someone who is usually low stress and hardly ever feels competitive, this was a strange shift. One I definitely wasn’t prepared for.
Now, I’m not allowed to talk about the specifics of the competition, but what I can say is that it was hard. The topic, in my opinion, was very difficult. I spent two of the three weeks just trying to understand the material, not a single word written.
Finding the Competitive Spirit
Something happened while I was competing and every ounce of my body just wanted to win. So much so, that I (safely) went home to stay with my parents – abandoning my boyfriend who was also competing – just to completely focus. I kicked all other distractions out of my life, including this blog.
It was a roller coaster of emotions, but I got through it. In the end, I turned in what I thought was a really strong effort. But honestly, even if I don’t make it, I’ve found peace. I forgot that while I make an effort to better myself in my personal life, I’m often complacent in my academic life. Being the best in the class has never been important to me (that’s why I started a project trying to do it, I wanted to see if I could motivate myself to compete). I’m excited that I’ve found that drive to compete.
Maybe it’s a byproduct of this blog – because since starting this journey I’ve just wanted more for myself. Not handouts, but I wanted to earn every bit of satisfaction. Finding competition has been one of the most fulfilling experiences and I’m really glad these weeks of mental burnout and suffering are over. I’m even more glad I came out on top.
Oh, and if that wasn’t enough, this morning I received my grades for the motion I wrote. It was the only other thing I slaved over, and I slaved over it because it was a part of my project. The grade came back and I was way above the average. Pushing hard and competing against yourself does pay off.
Do you compete against yourself? Do you find this practice healthy? I’d love to hear any and all thoughts down below!
As someone who is always working on projects and posting about them every day, I can understand why people think I’m more productive than most. But I’m not. To be honest, I’m probably less productive than you think. It’s all about time management. I’m an adamant believer in working smarter, not harder.
I’ve been in rigorous academic environments for a while now and one thing I notice, especially in law school, is that so often people incorrectly equate working more with doing more. This couldn’t be further from the truth.
There is so much danger in working until you drop. That “grind mentality” leads to much less success than little progress every day. We need breaks. Breaks can be anywhere from 15 minutes to a couple of days. Sometimes, taking more time off is critical. Allow me to explain:
1. Breaks Allow Your Mind To Reset
“Just sleep on it!” It’s a phrase we’ve all said, the concept of waiting to make a decision until the morning when you’re all fresh. Sometimes, though, we need to “sleep on it” in the middle of the day. Think of it as restarting a computer. When your computer is moving slow, you reboot it and there, it’s fine again!
Taking a break allows your mind to look for new solutions by looking at it with fresh eyes. You’re looking at your problem in a whole new light, right? Not quite. In difficult and nuanced situations, your brain has likely been processing your problem all along. According to a theory proposed in 2006, called Unconscious Thought Theory, your unconscious mind helps you make better decisions for these issues:
[C]ontrary to popular belief, decisions about simple issues can be better tackled by conscious thought, whereas decisions about complex matters can be better approached with unconscious thought.
A Theory of Unconscious Thought, Ap Dijksterhuis and Loran Nordgren, 2006
I’m notorious for this one. If I’ve got two assignments due, I only work on the one that’s due first. I won’t even touch the second one until the first is done.
This is a useful technique for the same reasons as above. You’re keeping yourself exposed to only one problem at a time. Cranking out assignment 1 and taking a long break before assignment 2 allows your brain get ready for a new topic.
Psychologist Jordan Peterson argues that getting small tasks done can keep us motivated to keep moving and that these small changes make a big impact in our lives. It’s powerful stuff. It’s a bit more motivational than concrete evidence of compartmentalizing, but if you’re interested, you can listen in yourself here.
3. The Longer You Work, The Less You’ll Accomplish
This is the law of diminishing returns. Eventually you’ll hit a point where the more effort you put into something, say studying, the less you’ll retain. That first hour of working on something is primary real estate. Measuring out the wood you’ll cut to make furniture, chopping all the vegetables for a soup. Whatever it may be, there eventually comes a point where your brain just won’t get much more.
While I could explain more on this topic, I think it’s best summarized by a Ted Talk my boyfriend sent me last night. Go ahead, watch this for yourself. You may be surprised:
4. You’ll Probably Be Happier Doing Your Work After Taking Breaks
It’s exemplifies why those who have the “grind mentality” might not get as much done in a day. One social media hustler, Gary Vaynerchuk, consistently advocates for working until you can’t any more. A real-estate investor, Graham Stephan, took the opportunity to explain exactly why this mentality doesn’t work for everyone – and why it didn’t work for him. I’m a big fan of this video because it promotes mental stability and also accomplishing big goals:
If you made it this far, I hope something has struck a chord that it’s okay to move slow. This method works well for me, but I want to know: what productivity tips do you have? Does this method work well for you?
So, I have a little confession: I’m actually really close to being finished with Project 2. I know that might come as a surprise, seeing as I never post about it… it’s just that I recognize that reading about me cleaning every day is boring.
That being said, it’s not like I haven’t learned anything. I’ve actually learned a lot – both about myself and about how to organize. Reorganizing and decluttering is a much more liberating experience than I ever could have imagined, I really do feel much better having everything in its place. Also, my list extends beyond physical decluttering to mental decluttering in tracking different aspects of my life.
Though I’m not finished with everything on my list, I have begun everything. And it turns out that I wasn’t really able to gauge the difficulty that’d be required for each task. I realized that two things go into cleaning: time and effort. Obviously, time relates to how long it took for me to get something done. Effort refers more to the amount of work required I’d have to put in to get it organized. For example, setting up my photo walltook a lot of time since each picture had to be put up separately, but once I had the measurements all done, it didn’t take much effort on my part. I did most of the project while watching Netflix.
It’s from this premise that I created a bit of a theory. Tasks can be sorted by these two variables, and each of these two variables can be divided further. From there, I propose that there are 9 kinds of tasks as indicated by this fancy graphic.
I thought today I could share with you guys the 9 different types of tasks as they appear on my personal cleaning list with a little insight on what was really required to get things done. That way if you’re looking to clean up something in your life, you can have a better idea of whether you’re in over your head or you can get it done in an afternoon.
The Easy Tasks: Little Time, Little Effort Tasks
These are the easy ones – they don’t really take any time at all. If any of these are on your personal list, start with them because they’re so simple.
Keeping Track of Your Passwords: Start a list right now of your computer passwords. Seriously, right now. Every time you go to log in to any website, add it to your list. In less than a month, you’ll have most of your passwords sorted out and you’ll be asking why you didn’t do this sooner.
The Hour Long Tasks: Average Time, Little Effort Tasks
These tasks are easy as pie. On a day off from work, they’ll make you feel like you’ve accomplished something with lots of time to spare.
Drawers: You can’t hide from the truth any longer – clean out that junk drawer.
The Quicker Tasks: Little Time, Average Effort Tasks
The tasks that’ll have you saying: “That wasn’t too bad!”
Organizing Your Computer Bookmarks: Honestly, this can be fun seeing what corners of the internet you discovered. But beware: distractions are bound to happen.
Setting Up Your Calendar: If you already have a calendar system in place, but it hasn’t been updated – this task just requires getting all your ducks in a row. If you don’t have a system that works for you to schedule everything, try looking around. Personally, I use Google calendar and whenever anything comes up it goes straight in. Very easy to maintain it that way.
The Full Day Tasks: Average Time, Average Effort Tasks
I’d recommend you do these on a Saturday so you can enjoy your Sunday and still feel like you had a productive weekend.
Organizing Groups of Objects: This is easily one of the most satisfying tasks on the entire list. Think about what you have a lot of. For me, that’s clothes/beauty products and old textbooks/notes. Organizing these individual groups of items by seriously cutting back makes you feel so good. Bonus points if you can make it look aesthetically pleasing!
The Watch-a-Movie Tasks: High Time, Little Effort Tasks
Since these tasks don’t really require you to have your brain present and active, go ahead and watch a movie while you’re doing them!
Any Sorting Task: Whenever you have a group of something that needs to be sorted out, you can do it while catching up on TV you’ve been missing. This can be anything from nail polish to fishing bait. Caution: Does not apply to going through photos.
The Thought Provoking Tasks: Little Time, High Effort Tasks
These might not require all that much time, but they requires you to be completely mentally present.
Creating a Food Diary: This really doesn’t take too much effort when you start, but it’s certainly high effort to keep it going. I mean logging every. single. time. you eat is definitely a lot to keep track of. But seriously, being able to track your vitamins and minerals is so worth it!
Setting Up a Workout Log: Same as above. It’s all in the upkeep.
The Tasks That Require Breaks: High Time, Average Effort Tasks
These aren’t tasks you can get done in one go, but they’re manageable enough to painlessly spread them out over a few days.
Cleaning Every Square Inch of Your House: You didn’t think I was going to forget this one, did you? It doesn’t really require all that much effort to get the ol’ spring cleaning done, but it does require that you’re actively thinking about what needs to be cleaned. Like honestly, when was the last time you moved the couch and vacuumed behind there?
The Tasks You’ve Been Putting Off: Average Time, High Effort Tasks
Okay, I’ll say it – these ones are the worst. These projects don’t quite require all day to do, and that’s too bad, because if they did you’d plan a whole weekend for them (see the Advanced, Expert Level tasks below!).
Planning a Budget/Checking Your Credit Score: This one is especially painful if it’s your first time since it requires you dissecting your spending habits. If you do have an old budget, it’s painful because you’ve got to look through your old budget to see how accurate it was. No matter what, we all hate looking at just how much money we spend and what our credit looks like.
Cleaning Out Social Media Accounts: I’ve found that cleaning out social media accounts requires high dedication to setting the image you want others to see. Those cringe-filled status updates that you posted when you were in high school probably need to be deleted.
The Advanced, Expert Level Tasks: High Time, High Effort Tasks
These are the tasks from your nightmares.
Cleaning Out Your E-mail: It’s easy to get rid of spam e-mails. It’s also easy to get rid of promotional e-mails. But oh man is it a lot of work to unsubscribe from e-mail lists. Then sorting which e-mails to trash and which to keep is brutal. Creating folders and reliving moments from the past digs up emotions. Seriously, this isn’t for the faint of heart.
Sorting Digital Files: It does not matter what sort of digital files you have, it’s a memory trap. If you stumble across an album of photos you haven’t seen in forever, you can accidentally lose an hour of your day. Plus, they’re everywhere: on your desktop, your google drive, your iCloud, your phone notes, old USBs and more. Hope you don’t find your old Sims CD. Good luck finding a single place to store it all.
What do you think of my list? What tasks are the easiest and most-satisfying for you to get done?Is my method the next KonMari method?
If it’s your first time stopping by this week, you might have noticed quite a bit has changed around here. I’ve got my own domain and have changed up the actual site! With a new theme and new featured images, it looks much better!
In the midst of these changes, Abbey and I spent a whole day doing nothing but reading in preparation for a week straight of book reviews. It was something we’ve been planning for a while as a way to relax after me finishing school! Originally, I was supposed to go visit her, but given quarantine we did it separately and checked in over the phone.
A week’s worth of consistent content has been a blast. It was tough to prepare so many reviews ahead of time, but I’ve had the opportunity to work on even more content because of it!
Additionally, I have seen a huge spike in engagement on the blog which has been overwhelming! Having the opportunity to meet some new faces and engage with people reading the same books and doing similar projects has been so much fun! On top of people visiting me, I’ve been trying to reach out to creators whose content I enjoy.
Throughout this process there are a few things I’ve picked up on that I thought I’d share. This week has given me insight as a blogger and my place in this whole mess.
This is something that’s been really noticeable in my book reviews. There are books I really loved reading and others I just couldn’t wait to finish. Sometimes, it was hard to find the motivation to even write the review after and it showed. No wonder those posts didn’t have nearly as much engagement as the ones that I was proud of writing! The key takeaway I discovered was that if you don’t enjoy what you’re writing, your readers will notice.
With love and affection, it doesn’t really matter what you’re writing about – it only take one reader to identify with your content. For example, a book I really disliked was A Clockwork Orange. It had mostly to do with the – in my opinion – abhorrent slang that distorted the story line. But I really took the time to flesh out these opinions and unpack it a little more. I spent quite a bit of time writing that post and I was happy when it became one of my most-liked posts. My readers could see the love I had put into it and responded to it.
Quantity Matters Too
This week in particular I’ve been focused on putting out content every single day. It’s been challenging, but I came in with a game plan, so it was very do-able. To no one’s surprise, posting every day brought a lot more traffic.
I’m not sure if it has something to do with the Reader algorithm wanting to suggest me more or if I was creating content on subjects others already followed. Nevertheless, I found that when people visited, they checked out my other content too. Because I have a back-catalog of posts on a variety of topics, I saw that visitors were averaging higher views when I was putting out content every day.
Writing often familiarizes others with your content and gives you more of an opportunity to be seen. And maybe, just maybe, it’ll be seen by someone who enjoys your stuff.
Just like any habit or hobby, if you’re truly excited about what you’re doing, doing it every day makes you even more excited. I found that I was thinking about content and working on my projects much more this week just because I wanted to.
Motivation is a rarity, so making the most of it is crucial. But exposing myself and quite frankly, some days forcing myself to write, brought more ideas and more of a desire to deliver on material.
There you have it – my thoughts on consistent blogging. It honestly comes down to finding your place and your voice on your blog. But I want to hear your thoughts: What do you think? Do you agree with my observations?
Fashion is a huge part of my life – I know it’s not really something I’ve talked about here, but it might have been my very first project.
Over the past few years, I’ve really focused on developing my sense of fashion. I constantly purge my closet and buy new pieces. As I purge again for Project 2, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to talk about how I do it.
I’ve always been really conscious about silhouette, so everything you’ll see fits me well. When you dress to your body shape everything looks a little bit more expensive – you’re mocking the tailored look! My body happens to be bell shape, which is similar to a pear – large hips, small bust. The only real difference is the ratio between the bust and hips is smaller for a bell shape. Dressing to your silhouette is actually very easy once you know what your shape is, so if that’s something you’re interested in learning more about, I’d highly recommend checking out this blog for more on your body shape. Spoiler: there’s more than 3 body types!
Anyway, dressing based on the right color is a little harder. It’s something I really struggle with and it’s difficult to master. As frustrating as it is to learn as you go, it’s the only real way to do it.
But have no fear! One of my favorite fashion channels just released a video streamlining different basic color theories. I highly recommend all of her videos, but this one in particular was an aha moment. Also, while my silhouette information about was particularly for women’s bodies, color theory applies to everyone.
So in honor of this video, I decided to test out some of her theories firsthand with my closet. I’ve been purging for the past few weeks and I’ve found that these theories pretty much correlate to what items I feel comfortable in and which ones I didn’t.
Side note: None of the pictures below have my face in it. It was early in the morning so I wasn’t looking very fresh. Also, my boyfriend’s not the most cooperative photographer when I wake him up to take pictures of me (shocking, really), so most of these photos were of me while I was talking. If you’re particularly interested in what my face looks like, you can see me here or here.
Do the shades in the outfit match the shades of color on your body?
My favorite way to look at colors is through shade theory. In it’s most simple form, it looks at how much white or black is added to a color. The idea is that the shade that matches your skin tone shade is what looks best on your body.
For instance, let’s look at this pink dress:
The color complements my skin tone pretty well because my skin and the dress are similar shades. To really examine it, we can put it in black and white to see the amount of brightness in both my skin and the dress.
Now it’s very clear. Though the dress is a lighter shade than my skin, it’s close so the color pops well on my body. But be careful that you’re using good lighting if you use the black and white photo trick – you can see the difference in my skin tone between my arms and my legs. This is due to the fact that my lighting came from a window. Because of this, the arms are a better point of comparison to the dress.
Comparison to skin tone isn’t the only match. You can apply the same test with hair color as well. Let’s take a darker dress:
This dress is almost an exact match in shade to my hair. Because of this, the dress color pairs with me very well.
Does the contrast in your hair and skin match with the color of the garment?
In the video, Alexandra describes two types of contrasts: soft and clear. She describes soft as a correlation in hair color and skin tone shades. On the other hand, she describes clear as hair colors that largely differ from skin tone. In general, I find that soft colors are less harsh and vibrant than clear colors.
In reality, there are more types of contrast. Idealist Style (same blog as the body shape link!) has a great chart to compare the different options:
For the sake of simplicity, let’s continue with only soft and clear. I happen to be soft because my hair color and skin tone are relatively close to one another – there’s not too much contrast. If you’re looking at the chart, I’m a bit like Katie Holmes on the bottom right. What this means is I should steer away from clear colors because it will add a sharp contrast.
Here’s an example of me wearing a clear color:
This blue is so vibrant, it almost washes out my complexion. It’s funny because I’ve had the dress for a while and have always wondered why I don’t feel as confident in it. After all, it fits me well. This contrast is subtle and if you don’t see it, it’s okay. You’ve got to train yourself to see it and it’s not necessarily something that happens right away. It’s not that I look bad in the dress, it’s just that I look better in so many other dresses.
I know this is all a bit much to take in and it can be extraordinarily difficult to piece together what this means for colors on your body. I can’t recommend the links I’ve added enough because they do such a good job at really diving into these topics and breaking them down.
For me, these theories have been remarkably impactful. I’ve found it easier to process whether to keep certain pieces that I was on the fence about. I find that using a little science in everyday areas is a key to optimization. When I go through my beauty supplies soon, I’ll take this same approach.
If you’ve enjoyed this, don’t worry, I’ll be doing a fashion project or two down the line. But for now, I’ve got to get organized!