Oct 29, 2014

Getting Organized: Schedule & Emails

I always find that if I can keep my schedule and my emails organized everything else is much easier to keep up. I don't go anywhere without my planner and love that I can see a month at the full view or broken down by week and day all in one place. Plus, I get to use glitter tape in it, so that right there is a major WIN over the iCal on my phone.

As for emails—it's taken me a long time to figure out what works and what doesn't, but I've finally found a system that works. Here's my guide to getting and maintaining your schedule and inbox.

1. Make Organizing Your Schedule Fun
When I first switched to an iPhone, I tried very hard to use the calendar on it to schedule my life. I hated it though and found myself not only avoiding the calendar app, but I wasn't keeping a record of anything I had to do anywhere. After a few short lived months as the most unorganized person ever, I finally purchased a planner again. I had always used one since elementary school and shouldn't have turned my back on what worked. Now, there are all kinds of cute and affordable planners that I love to use.

I don't stop there though, washi tape, fun pens and stickers keep my cute planner from falling into the traps of boredom. I use washi tape to mark dates I'm on vacation or out of town and I use stickers to mark birthdays, anniversaries and other important dates. Fine point pens like Le pen and Sharpie are the only pens I'll use in a planner, too. For some reason my handwriting just looks fancier.

2. Set a Schedule and Stick to It (as much as you can)
I thrive on a routine that has room for spontaneity. I know that makes no sense, so let me explain. I like knowing that I get up at the same time every morning for work and leave the house at the same time each morning. I like knowing that the first thing I do when I get to work is sign into my computer and go make a cup of coffee before tackling my inbox. I like knowing that I'm responsible for exercising 2 to 3 times a week, but not having it planned out beyond that. Some weeks a Monday, Wednesday, Friday workout schedule is just fine and other weeks it's not. So, the flexibility is key. I also love knowing that I can catch up on my favorite TV shows online or on demand at a later time. That way, I'm not strapped to the television at 10pm on Wednesdays because I can't miss Nashville.

To get my schedule organized, I first sat down and wrote a list of everything I want to be responsible for/want to do. This includes devotional time, TV shows I want to watch, how many days I want to run/walk a week, when I want to do lunges and free weights, my social life, family life, blogging time, writing time, free time; basically everything I want to accomplish went on a list. Then, I started plugging the necessities into my planner and now I can build in extras and last minute plans much easier, and without over scheduling my life.
3. De-clutter Email Inboxes
I might receive more emails than anyone in the world. I have two emails at work, a blog email, a  personal email and a catch-all email for subscriptions, online shopping and sale alerts. That last inbox has been clutch, but we'll get to that in a minute. My rule of thumb for all inboxes: any response that will take a sentence or two and up to a paragraph I knock out first. Then, anything that will take a more in-depth response (research, informed opinion) I will move into a "Respond Later" folder and save those for the end of the day or whatever time frame I have to respond to the email. Once I've responded to an email, I immediately archive it.

Unroll.me is a great way to get one email, when you choose, of all your subscriptions. Then, when you're ready you can click on that one email and select the particular subscription you want to view. When you're done, you only have to archive or delete one email.

About a year ago I made the decision to create email addresses for certain usages.
  • Personal email is for correspondence with friends and family, bill paying, banking, online statements and the other "adult" parts of life that are boring, but necessary to track.
  • Blog email is for anything and everything relating to this blog. Y'all can email me directly, ask questions, tell me my posts are too long or anything you like. It's also where I keep all communicating with other brands, websites, sponsored post information and subscriptions for blog related things like Rafflecopter.
  • Online Shopping/sale alert email is the one email I use for all online shopping and tracking emails, website log-ins or what have you. It's also the only email I give when checking out in stores because they send SO MANY EMAILS! I swear, I get an email every single day from Loft. I definitely don't want those emails clogging up my other inboxes, but there is an advantage to this inbox—I never leave home without my discount codes or in-store coupons (for the most part). Usually, anything I get as a paper coupon in the mail, I also get as an email, which goes directly to the email on my phone. I also make sure that the sale alert email is set for me to go out an actually retrieve the emails on my iPhone instead of having them pushed to me all the time.

Oct 27, 2014

Halloween Sweet Treats

Holidays provide any and every excuse for me to put together cute, little gifts for those around me. Since most of us are a bit too old to be going around neighborhoods door-to-door begging asking for candy at Halloween, I like to put together fun candy buckets. It's a win-win; I get to spend some time treating those around me and they get to enjoy candy without stealing it from children.
These little treat buckets were so easy to make and easy on the wallet as well. The striped jack-o-lantern pails, black and orange baker's twine and chalkboard tags all came from the Dollar Spot at Target and the variety bag of candy came from the normal candy aisle (not the Halloween candy aisle) because it was just the right size (with some extras left over for me to enjoy as well). I spent less than $20 total.
I spread the candy out on the table and made sure every pail had the same amount of each candy until they were filled to the top. Then, I used a metallic, silver pen to write "Happy Halloween" on the chalkboard tags. I swapped out the ribbons that came with the tags for the black and orange baker's twine and tied a tag to each handle.
Happy Halloween!

Oct 21, 2014

Travel Tips 102: Beauty On the Go

To say I'm a makeup product collector would be an understatement these days. I'd much prefer a gatherer of beautiful things. I love having tons of products at my fingertips to mix things up on a regular basis, but there just isn't enough room in one suitcase for all those beauty products. So, I force myself to pair down. The conversation usually goes something like this in my head, "you didn't unpack three pairs of shoes just so you could add three eyeshadow palettes, two bronzers and three mascaras. At this rate you'll need two makeup bags".

Packing makeup for travel comes down to the absolute necessities. Do I need my absolute best concealer to hide the fact that I'm only getting two hours of sleep before my flight? Uh, yeah! Do I need to pack a warm nude eyeshadow palette and a cool nudes eyeshadow palette? Uh, no.

Here's what I've got with me this week for our mountain getaway.

Be sure to follow me on Instagram @ erika_bennettblog for a peek into my mountain getaway!