10 Things I Do Daily That Make Me 1% Better

I can always tell when there are clouds in the sky even before the sun rises over the mountains behind my home. On those days, the sky appears bubblegum pink during pre-dawn hours. When the sky is clear, it remains jet black until it isn’t. An early sign for birds like me of another crisp California day in store.

It has been a week now since I’ve adopted the habit of waking up when my cat mews for food. That’s 6:15am to be exact. I don’t do it out of joy, let me tell you. Just this past Sunday, I was quite sore about it. I wanted to sleep in, cuddled next to my husband in the warmth of the sheets because it was the weekend. I remembered the slow mornings of 2020 and 2021, where we had nothing to do and my habits were “Sleep 10 hours each night” or “Wake up when you feel like it”. Sitting at the dining table, I was feeling quite sorry for a moment there, wondering why it is that I kept making myself do this.

But at the end of a writing session, I felt 100% better. I always do. It is the same feeling you get when you work out, and you hate yourself for it as you’re getting ready. But afterwards, you get that good-sore, the one that reminds you of the progress that was achieved, and it really does boost you. That is why I am forcing myself to get out of bed. It makes me 1% better.

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If I could make any club in the world, it would be called: 1% Better Every Day Club. I am a firm believer in tiny changes having a great impact. I am also a firm believer in making the most out of every day. Now more than ever, I am reminded that each day is a gift. For the past four years, I have been living under the mantra of making myself 1% better every day.

What does 1% Better Look Like?

It doesn’t always have to be about progress or achievement. In 2018 I decluttered a lot of my stuff. In 2020, I quit a lot of my work. Last year, 1% better involved doing nothing, sleeping in, and relaxing as much as I can. I decided for 2022 that 1% better meant making the most out of life. Every body has their own goals, needs, and wants. I would recommend starting with jotting down what 1% better would look like. Feel free to use these list of questions to get your brainstorm going!

How to Be 1% Better Every Day?

After figuring out what 1% better would look like, I would begin by writing down things you can do to become the person you want to be. Let’s say you want to be in better physical shape. A few examples of 1% better include working out a certain number of days a week, getting in nature to absorb more vitamin D, taking supplements that your diet is missing out on, practicing better posture at work, eating less sugar and more fruits and vegetables, avoiding alcohol, and staying hydrated by drinking a lot of water.

Once you have a list of action items, I would start incorporating them into your daily schedule. Make them habits. Repetition is key. Hold yourself accountable by keeping a habit tracker. I use my Unbound Planner to track all my habits. You can just as easily track your habits on an Excel sheet. It doesn’t have to be expensive!

Lastly, set yourself up for success with rewards and motivations. For example, I had to get an outfit that made me feel and look good in order to establish my work out routine. And every morning when I get up to feed the cat, flipping that lever on the Balmuda kettle is the first thing I do. A mindful cup of pour over coffee is my motivation to stay awake! There should be no guilt attached to rewards and motivations. It is completely okay to make them part of the process, as long as you truly deserve it!

10 Things I Do Daily That Make Me 1% Better

There are many things I do daily to make myself 1% better. Here are my top ten!

+ Wake up early to write. Motivation: A mindful cup of pour-over coffee in a favorite mug (mine is made by RexDesign). I use the Balmuda kettle and a Hario V60. I have found over the years that writing goes on the back-burner whenever life got busy. Yet writing is really important to me. It is my outlet for both stress and creativity. It keeps me nourished the same way a good diet does. Therefore, I needed to make the space for it. Unfortunately, writing requires uninterrupted flow, which is difficult to do when my husband is awake.

Since the pandemic, he has been working remotely, which has positive and negative sides to it. One of the downsides is that I don’t have a designated space like I used to. Gone are the days of having the house to myself a few days a week. So I decided to carve that time in when he is still fast asleep. If I give to myself first thing in the morning, I am more open to sharing my time with him when he wakes up for breakfast.

+ Gratitude Journal. Each morning, I gratitude journal. I write 3 things I am thankful for. By instilling a sense of gratitude, I am reinforced to give to others as well. Plus, it’s a healthy reminder that life is never as bad as it seems. Gratitude journaling helps me think positively, and by doing so, allows me to have a positive impact.

+ Get exercise. Motivation: A favorite outfit, being outdoors, and a membership to classes. Before my thirties, I never got any exercise. My parents did not emphasize the importance of working out to their two daughters. Looking back on it, I think my personality would have been really good at sports. I started exercising in my thirties when I began experiencing back pain. Caused by a mix of my dental career, bad posture, and poor ab strength, I realized that I needed to start. I don’t want to be in pain for the rest of my life.

+ Plan ahead. Motivation: A planner that works for me. Planning ahead helps me organize my thoughts and prioritize my actions. Dedicating time to do this really helps me schedule important tasks as well as moments of rest. The latter is arguably the priority.

+ Stay hydrated. Motivation: An Ikea carafe that’s easy to have around, while fun to pour from. Occasionally, slices of fruit livens the cup. I have a daily habit of drinking a cup of water the minute I rise. That’s right! Even before coffee. I also have water with me at all times. I am constantly refilling my Kinto bottle at work, so much so that my co-workers call me a camel.

+ Read books and Listen to Podcasts. Motivation: Relaxation time and idea generation. I try to dedicate 30 minutes each day to take in information. That could involve reading or listening to podcasts. I have always loved reading (fiction in my youth, non-fiction as of late), and learning new things. I do this because I never want to stop learning something new.

+ Reflect on how I can improve tomorrow. Motivation: The hope of progress. In the evenings, I reflect on how I can improve tomorrow. Reflection is key! It is easy to go off course if one never stops to look back. I ask myself when I was at my best and when I felt unrest. Based on those answers, I find ways to make tomorrow better.

+ Get enough sleep. Motivation: I can wake up early the next morning to write. I am a monster without sleep. I can’t function. And I am a real grouch. Aside from that, I also understand that good sleep helps our bodies in so many ways. Everyone has a different definition of ‘enough sleep’. My ideal number of hours is nine, which means in order to wake up with the cat, I have to sleep shortly after dinner. Sometimes, I’ll take a cat nap if I need to catch up on hours.

+ Dedicate my life to experiments. Motivation: Sharing with others what I discover. I love to experiment and try new things. I change up my environment, my style of writing, my hobbies… heck, even my routines! Not only are new experiences exciting for me, they also help me to grow. They teach me who I am and who I want to become. Experimentation fills my life with joy.

+ Declutter. Motivation: More space – for thought, for action, for laying out on our Nordic rug. My husband once told me that he thinks I have an unhealthy relationship with decluttering. I disagree. Constant evaluation is necessary work. I get rid of things so that better ones can take their place. If I did not do that, I would have never experienced all that I have. It is arguable my number one tool for becoming 1% better every day.

I hope this post serves as inspiration for you to be the person you want to be tomorrow. Curious as to what you do to become 1% better?

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

Self-Reflection Questions to Guide the New Year

Every year, I spend a day on self-reflection (or rather, a few days) before planning for the year ahead. Asking self-reflection questions is an important step because it tells me where I’m at, which ultimately guides where I want to go. When self-reflecting, I use my Unbound Planner to start this practice, but my brainstorming bubbles over to its own thing after only a few minutes.

The main questions I ask myself starts with the word “Why”. Why do I think this goal is important? Why do I place value on this idea? Or why do I feel this way about certain things? And so on. Of course, there are a multitude of questions to ask oneself. But after every answer, I always go back to ‘Why’.

I decided to round up a few self-reflection questions worth pondering over this morning. Even if you’ve already opened your planner and started preparing for the New Year, these are still good to think about. Sometimes, after asking myself these questions, I find that I planned for things that aren’t aligned with my true goals. This is because we may do things because other people expect us to do them or because we think other people would want us to do them. But in reality, we ourselves don’t want to.

A good example of this is last year’s goal of running 6 miles under one hour. I never got around to accomplishing it. I realize that I wanted to do it because it would be ‘an achievement’. But achievements are only important to the people around us. Achievements are status symbols. Achievements do nothing for our well-being, except add a psyche boost when other people recognize them.

I do not actually love running, and when I do go for a run, I like doing it because I am out in nature and nature relaxes me. The parts I like most about running are the wind in my hair, the sun warming my skin, the sound of birds, and the smell of grass; not the time it took for me or the number of miles.

Realizing that my motivation for running was all wrong, I now know that my goal should be changed. Instead of ‘Run 6 miles in under an hour’, my new goal is to ‘Get outdoors more often by running, hiking, or taking a walk a few times a week.’ That goal is more aligned with who I am as a person, which means I am more likely to do it!

2022 could be the year of balance. It could be the year you embrace your genuine self. But it needs to start with understanding who you are. I hope you enjoy going through these questions. I recommend writing down the answers like I did! My newly acquired Surface Pro Pen has been a godsend for brainstorming! I scribble down all my ideas, erase them, cross them out, circle them, etc. I absolutely love the Surface Pen and aim to use it to help me with my goal of going digital and reducing paper clutter. Without further ado, here are the questions!

Self-Reflection Questions To Guide the New Year

  • If someone close to you was to give a speech about you, what would they say? What don’t they say that you wish they would?
  • What are your core values? Do you feel they are well integrated in your daily life? What changes can you make to better build a life around your values?
  • What are you most proud of in the year before? It could be a favorite memory or a big accomplishment.
  • What do you love to do? What brings you peace? Joy? How can you make more time for these things?
  • What drains your energy? What makes you feel anxious or worried? How can you address these things?
  • What are your talents and strengths? How can you share these with others?
  • What do you struggle with? Why?
  • What challenges or distractions hold you back? How can you move past them?
  • What does being successful mean to you?
  • How do you want to grow this year?
  • What motivates you to take action?
  • What are you feeling called toward or inspired by?
  • Name one positive habit you want to establish this year.
  • Name one skill you want to master this year.
  • What is one fear you want to overcome in the new year? Why do you fear this thing?
  • What is one dream you want to act on in the new year? Why do you have this dream?
  • What are your most important relationships? How can you nurture them better?
  • What does your typical week look like? What is your ideal week?
  • How do you experience energy levels during the day? How can you structure your day so that your body best supports you? I suggest reading this blog post from Canyon Coffee.
  • Are there daily routines (morning and evening) that help establish a sense of peace, productivity, and well-being?
  • What are you most grateful for?
  • Name one change you can make that will have the biggest impact?
  • What is one question I want to answer this year?
  • When am I at my best?

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Don’t forget to ask yourself ‘Why’ when answering these self-reflection questions. You may realize something about yourself that you never knew before. These little discoveries can better align your life to your truth. And once you’ve gotten a bit of insight, go ahead and start planning! I made a list of favorite planners in this post here. I hope you have a wonderful year!

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Top 5 Planners for A Productive 2022

It’s that time of year again! Time to start scouring the web for the best 2022 planner. If you are an avid planner like myself, you probably get joy from looking for the most productive planner possible. I live and die by a physical day planner. I always have. Without one, I am pretty much useless. I owe all of my successes to maintaining a well organized and structured life. For some reason, the digital planners don’t do it for me. I like the tactical aspect of writing stuff down. Of course, the definition of success can differ from person to person. Regardless of what success looks like to you, there will be a planner out there to help create your ideal lifestyle. Without further ado, here are my top 2022 planner!

Mal Paper

Mal Paper is a 90-day planner focused around goal setting. It works really well for list-lovers such as myself. The daily pages have no scheduler, but rather, has a list of tasks to check off. I have difficulty boxing out my time because my mind tends to jump from one task to another. As bad as it sounds, I do have a tendency to multi-task. This is why lists are usually what I live off of. This planner is quite simple and uncomplicated. It is great for entrepreneurs who have multiple projects going on at the same time. The introductory pages give great advice on how to break down goals into smaller goals, which are then used to create tasks that ultimately get the job done. You can read more about my review of this planner here.

Monk Manual

This is the right planner for living an intentional life. Just like the first planner, this is a 90-day planner. I can attest to it being the most calm, yet productive, 90 days of your life. This planner combines being with doing. When being and doing are not in balance, we feel over-whelmed and stressed. Every day, the planner helps you focus on the top three priorities. It has a gratitude section, a timeline, and a place to write down what you look forward to. My favorite part is the area to list ways in which I can give. Living my life around giving really improved my life. There is also space for daily reflection. Each week, I can reminisce on the meaningful moments, as well as prepare for ways to improve in the future. Lastly, the monthly section not only focuses on accomplishments, but also relationships and a check-in with yourself. You can read more about my experience with Monk Manual here.

Unbound 2022 Planner

In my most humble opinion, this is my #1 choice for a 2022 planner! This planner worked really well for me. It is perfect for very detail-oriented people who are juggling multiple things and need to be very organized. Some people might find this planner over-whelming, but it fit my lifestyle like a glove. This planner helped me make the most out of 2021. In fact, I would say that I have had the most productive year of my life thanks to this planner. There are so many great things to say. It’s ideal for project planning, goal making, creating timelines, meal prepping, gratitude journaling and habit tracking. This really is the ultimate productivity planner! You can read more about my review of Unbound Planner here.

Smitten on Paper

Smitten on Paper is my go-to source for notepads and weekly agendas. I have had the honor of trying this weekly agenda which is an open-dated planner. The habit tracker is perfect for someone who is motivated by rewards. The weekly schedule has a water tracker, an open space for scheduling, a task list area, and a box for prioritizing tasks. If you are more of a notepad person, I would recommend this daily notepad or this bigger version. You can read all my thoughts here.

Sugar Paper 2022 Planner

I used Sugar Paper’s spiral planners back in dental school. It helped me stay task-organized, but without all the complicated stuff. I think it’s great for students who are focused on school, or for a person who is using their planner for their personal day-to-day life. This means there is no space for project planning or for creating long-term-timelines. Entrepreneurs will most likely want a more structured scheduler. And this is definitely not for micro-managers. However, it is a good planner for big-picture, task-oriented folk. I love that this planner has a dedicated space for goal making each month. The goals focus on personal, health, finance and work/school. This means there’s opportunity for self-improvement. The weekly spread is task-oriented and in to-do list form. There is room for notes, don’t forget reminders, and daily sections. I loved using this planner throughout the entire school year!

Photo by Covene on Unsplash

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Combating Tired Eyes with True Botanicals Eye Cream

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

We returned from our Iceland adventure almost two weeks now (eek! Where does the time go?). I am only barely able to say that our sleep cycles have regressed to their normal states. For a while there I felt like our rythm will remain out of sync forever, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I keep telling folks how my brain and body seemed to be moving at a slower pace than those around me, and my days seemed to last much longer than when I first left. Perhaps it has something to do with the 24/7 sunlight commonly experienced in the northern hemisphere. If that is the case, I fear what life would feel like in 24/7 darkness.

Regardless, I’ve had my fair share of sleep these last two weeks. At first, I found myself naturally waking up at 5:30 in the morning and falling asleep at 9 pm. This sleep pattern was much preferred to my now ‘normalized’ schedule, since it gave me a few hours of “me-time” each day before the actual beginning. Unfortunately, it did not last long. I threw myself into work, playing catch-up as well as adding a few dog-sitting duties and family events that eventually had me feeling the manic American pace once again. “Can we please go back to Iceland?” I keep begging my husband.

One thing that has been on my side, however, is True Botanical’s Resurrection Radiance Eye Cream! They gifted me a sample of the stuff and it arrived a few days before I trotted off to Iceland. I was so happy to find it sitting in my bathroom drawer, ready for me and my recovery. I didn’t really know what to expect, having never used eye cream before. I have always had dark circles under my eyes, for which I blame my late nights during my endless college career. This brightening eye cream has been amazing at reducing the darkness around my eyes, immediately making me look younger than the 25-year-old fallacy I’ve been living. What surprised me, though, was the reduction in fine lines and wrinkles around my eyes. I have always been a smiler (no surprise there!), as well as extremely facially expressive. There is no shortage of dynamic crow’s feet mischievously appearing every time I laugh. After using this eye cream for only two weeks, I’ve noticed a tightness in my skin that’s as new as my love for Iceland. I am really happy with the results from this eye cream so far!

So what exactly is in this eye cream that lends it magical properties? True Botanicals is a company that prides themselves in using natural ingredients and avoiding all the synthetics that one typically finds in the beauty industry. This eye cream contains no silicones, waxes, or shimmers that would fake results. It’s the real deal. Instead, its main component is a moisture retentive bioactive compound from the Resurrection Plant, known for its resilience to harsh environments. This compound plumps up our eyes and adds moisture to reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Meanwhile, tree bark extract reduces the darkness around our eyes. Otherwise known as Terminalia Arijuna, this extract is Ecocert and COSMOS certified. It also won The Best Active Ingredient Gold Award in 2019. There is also coffee and licorice (which depuffs the eye area and adds brightness) as well as tumeric (which calms the skin for a smoother look).

I find myself using this eye cream each morning and each night. It takes very little to discover results – smaller than a pea size amount. I can see this tiny jar lasting many months. I have never really noticed before how important it is to hydrate the eye area. It’s a section of my face that I typically avoid, mostly because of my fear of getting beauty goop in my eyes. For those who were wondering, my skin is generally dry and extremely sensitive to harsh chemicals. That’s why I trust True Botanicals products. This Olivia-Wilde-sponsored company uses only the best natural ingredients to support my skin. They have never steered me wrong.

Far from being frilly, I still have room in my life to fall in love with T.B. Their RENEW facial cleanser coupled with their Pure Radiance Oil is a great, minimalist daily skin routine that checks all the boxes without buying an overwhelming amount of products. And it comes at a discounted price when purchased as a set. My mom swears by the Vitamin C Booster, and she adds that to her moisturizer each day. I also love carrying around their Nutrient Mist in my purse. It is a god-send when I travel, as airplanes somehow manage to cause dry skin and oily outbreaks at the same time. I gift Nutrient Mist to all my girlfriends, and during holiday season, it is my number one recommended stocking stuffer! Lastly, the Pure Radiance Sugar Exfoliating Body Scrub is a luxurious gift to oneself. I loved using it over the winter season as it made each shower feel like a spa day.

Shall you choose to try them out for yourself, please do note that TheDebtist will receive commission for purchases made via my links in this post. With that said, I really do appreciate the support you lend to the companies that support my blog. It is a curated list of people, doing good work, True Botanicals included!

The Balmuda Toaster Stars In Our Daily Morning Rituals

To say we value our mornings here at The Debtist household would be a vast understatement. We like to take it slow, giving to ourselves before we give to the world. Mornings are a source of inspiration. It sets the tone for the rest of the day. We feed Theo (our toothless cat), meditate in bed, and get some exercise in. We clear the dishwasher, throw open windows, and occasionally do a bit of tidying up. Always, we make it a point to sit down at the kitchen island and have breakfast and coffee together. It’s only natural for a bread baker and coffee aficionado prioritizing the things we truly love. Spending our time making breakfast is a ritual that we cling to, and the Balmuda toaster has become the star.

Introducing Balmuda

Just recently, we’ve made a new addition to our kitchen and morning routine: a modern, minimalist toaster and electric kettle from Balmuda! Balmuda is a Japanese company promising better mornings with their products. They have achieved world-wide recognition and hype around the products they create. Balmuda has brought our breakfast game to another level. As a bread baker, those words are neither said lightly, nor often. Balmuda’s products have amplified the simplicity of our mornings, while achieving the detail and complexity that we value in something as mundane as a slice of toast and a cup of joe.

Balmuda’s Little Toaster That Can

First, let me wax poetic about the Balmuda toaster. Balmuda’s ground-breaking technology has paved the way for serving bread in its prime state. When I bake sourdough, I use cast-iron combo cookers to create steam, which makes the bread rise. The goal is to get a well-toasted, crunchy exterior while maintaining a soft, moist, inner crumb. Balmuda’s revolutionary toaster does just that by adding 5 ccs of water at the beginning of the process. The added water steams the bread in much the same way my combo-cookers do. This keeps the center of the bread moist, while retaining its flavor. Have you ever eaten an over-toasted piece of bread? What does it taste like? Stale, dry, and honestly, like air. Real bread has flavor, and this little toaster makes sure of that.

Additionally, the toaster has precise temperature regulation, depending on the type of pastry or bread it is cooking. There are special settings for sandwich bread, artisan bread, pastry, and pizza. Each setting ensures that the second-by-second regulation of temperature is ideal for every baked item. There is also an oven mode that allows this toaster to cook more than just bread. Think gratins, cookies, and frozen food items. This toaster has the capability of bringing life back into week-old slices from the freezer. I would go so far as to say that Balmuda has reinvented the toaster, itself.

The sleek profile and matte finish of these toasters exude elegance in the most minimalist way. Interestingly enough, its shape also reminds me of toasters of yore, circa mid-century modern times. Smeg-like in style, it’s no wonder these toasters are now found in high-end department stores such as Williams Sonoma and Nordstrom. It looks great on a wood countertop as much as it does on a cement one. Unlike other toasters, it only has two dials and the feel of them is touch-responsive. The sound of the timer is like rain on a windowpane, and the chime at the end sounds like a gentle alarm clock – way better than your typical, earth-shattering “ding!”.

Balmuda Kettle

Balmuda has an electric kettle that is equally as impressive. I’ve written before about our Fellow’s stovetop Stagg kettle, but we are making over the switch to Balmuda’s electric version for multiple reasons. Firstly, our Fellow kettle definitely shows signs of wear. The stovetop grates scratch the bottom surface so that the matte black cover has peeled off and the metal underneath shows. I am hoping the electric Balmuda kettle will avoid this type of wear, since it sits on a heating pad rather than the stove.

The Balmuda kettle is lighter in while and has a smaller profile. A max volume indicator inside the kettle limits the kettle to 500g of water, enough for a pour-over for two. Limiting the size was a conscious decision by the company in order to keep the kettle compact. With the advent of tiny (and tinier) homes, both the kettle and the toaster fits perfectly in most small spaces.

As far as function goes, the pour itself is almost weightless, a result of Balmuda’s ergonomic proportions. The handle fits snugly in my hand, with a flat bevel to rest my thumb, resulting in better control. The spout can pour water painstakingly slow or insanely fast, it’s up to you. The kettle heats quite quickly at the push of a tiny lever at the base of the kettle stand. A neon light bulb indicates when the water is hot. The only downside is the missing thermometer found on Fellow Stagg kettles. This is compensated by the fact that, unlike Fellow kettles, the Balmuda lid can be pushed down and sealed, keeping the contents of the kettle hot, for longer.

Honestly, both the Balmuda toaster and the Balmuda kettle have lended our mornings with that feel-good vibe. Balmuda has somehow used two common appliances to capture the essence of slow-living in a tangible form. The mission statement summarizes the beauty of Balmuda’s products.

“In the past, appliances were designed to eliminate inconvenience. Today, however, with our daily lives more convenient than ever, what people look for in appliances seems to be changing.

What people demand from tools and services today is, in a word, experiences, whether surprising, moving, or joyful. At BALMUDA, we create home appliances designed to deliver a thrilling, wonderful experience. “

Balmuda CEO Gen Teraro

I couldn’t agree more.

This post is sponsored by Balmuda, a Japanese company revolutionizing the way we experience mornings. They have kindly gifted me their famous toaster and electric kettle and it has really brought our breakfast routine to another level. This blog post is an honest review as to how my experience has been elevated by Balmuda. Right now, you can get both the Balmuda Toaster and the Balmuda Kettle at 15% OFF for Mother’s Day when purchased together. It is the perfect gift for any mom who loves to spend time in the kitchen. Balmuda also partnered with Jane the Baker’s founder, Amanda Michael, and shared a recipe for Baked French Toast, in case husbands and children around the world wish to make something special to commemorate mom’s hard work. Mother’s Day is on May 9, so order early!

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

A New Ritual, with Ritual Vitamins

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more. 

This blog post is sponsored by Ritual, a new multi-vitamin company dedicatedly supporting the metabolic processes of humans in all walks of life, transparently and simply.

I have come to learn that the successful completion of my goals are a direct result of doing the microsteps needed to, by a sliver of a percentage, get ahead each day. To the untrained eye, I am may not look like I am making progress. But what I’ve come to learn through slow living is that certain acts that our society deems as unproductive are actually beneficial to our being.

Take sleep, for example. Many of my colleagues look down on sleep, writing it off as a waste of their time. I, on the other hand, have started to schedule in 30 minute naps, five days a week. That’s on top of sleeping for 8-9 hours a night. Why? Because I know that my brain works better and I get more done after allowing myself to do nothing. I do the same with meditation, cleaning the home, saving a dollar here and there – little things that most would scoff at and call negligible. You can read, here, why I don’t believe in the word negligible.

So why is it that we refuse to do the things that get us to where we want to go?

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Two things.

Firstly, it has been ingrained in our culture that the measurability of progress is what matters, not the efficacy. We value the busy bees over the ones that put in little work, even if they reach the same end goal. We like to SEE differences, as proof to ourselves and to others that we are contributing to the group. We haven’t been taught to trust the process, trust each other, or trust ourselves.

Secondly, the daily microsteps require certain characteristics that we have not had much practice with in recent years; such as grit, patience, consistency, and hard-work. We live in an age of immediate gratification. “What do you mean I need to first limit my spending in order to grow my wealth?” Don’t we all dream of creating an invention that would eliminate the need to work altogether? Or, like my father, to win the lottery?

Both of these things contribute to the difficulty in doing the little things TODAY, that add up to achieving our end goals TOMORROW. However, this is exactly what has worked for me. I apply small wins to all aspects of my life, from finance to health. I call my microsteps habits, which I then use to create daily rituals. A habit is a task that I repeat every day to ingrain it into my life, thus making it easier to do. Rituals are habits that I cherish and complete with intention, with a purpose outside of the act itself. Rituals are the foundations of my greatest achievements.

Which brings me to Ritual, the new multi-vitamin that sets future Debtist up for success. Vitamins is one of those things that people know are good for you, but they don’t regularly take. My studies of the food industry coupled with my knowledge about human physiology has really turned me upon the importance of taking our vitamins. Mass production and irresponsible farming methods have left our soils depleted, and our produce nutrient deficient. Our WFH lifestyles prevent us from being exposed to sunlight or the natural healing contributions of trees and oceans. Likewise, our obsession with sanitation prevents us from being exposed to the microbiome that actually upkeeps our inflammatory response to infection and disease. Taking vitamins is the modern ritual we need.

Ritual has created a multi-vitamin whose purpose is clear. To provide traceable, vegan-friendly, gluten-free and major-allergy-free, non-GMO pills to groups of individuals depending on their needs. They have a multi-vitamin for men, women 18+, women 50+ kids, and post or pre-natal vitamins. I personally take this one. The engineering of delayed capsules meant to release the ingredients in the small intestine is great, because this is where the nutrients are better absorbed. And there are no artificial colorants or synthetic fillers. See for yourself!

They have transparency over where each ingredient comes from, as well as the pharmacy that provides each ingredient. Plant-based alternatives are included for animal lovers of the world. Most importantly, I love their communications regarding the functions of each component, written in lay man’s terms so that everyone can actually understand what it is they are taking and why.

Need extra motivation, or a discount? Bundle your order to buy vitamins for everyone in your home, or your friend group and save $10 when you buy in bulk. You get to save money, as well as create a supportive community that reminds each member to take their vitamins. My secret to getting the job done? Find a way to make vitamins fun! My motivation is through my Unbound planner, which has a daily check-box indicator for taking my vitamin, next to the 8 glasses of water and daily exercise. Since I get such glee from checking things off a to-do list, this system works for me. Hold yourself (or a buddy) accountable, and bundle up to save.

In an effort to help others create their own ritual around vitamin-taking, Ritual has made ordering a piece of cake. Set a start date and cancel whenever. Automatic shipping is available for replenishing your bottles, and it’s FREE. Bad with creating habits and worried you won’t keep up with shipping? The bottle has an indicator of where you should be if you follow the daily ritual to a tee. Tiny reminders make microsteps easier. Place the bottle somewhere you’ll see each day – next to a toothbrush maybe. On top of your toothpaste, behind the floss. (This is your reminder to floss today). Lastly, they provide a 30-day money back guarantee.

Let me know how you like it!

Intentional Living: Invest in Rest

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

A good night’s sleep is one of the best forms of self-care. It is regenerative for the body, mind and soul, and much to any frugalist’s joy, it is free. Often viewed as an unproductive activity, getting a good night’s rest lies low on the priority list for the majority. On the contrary, I attribute much of my productivity and success to sleep – and a lot of it, too!

Ever since I was young, I was very fond of the stuff. My parents love to tell the story of how I would nod off in my high-chair, often plopping my face down on my food. I was the last to wake up on Christmas morning (well, every morning for that matter) and the first to fall asleep at night. At family get-togethers, one could be sure to find me on the couch, hogging up the sitting space asleep in fetal position. I took afternoon naps until high school and even in college, I was one of the few people who got eight hours of sleep, frequently trading in a night of partying for my warm sheets.

There was a time when I went against my sleeping pattern and took up midnight shifts as an early-morning baker. I noticed the toll it took on my health. Even though I was still sleeping eight hours every night, the fluctuation between night shifts and day shifts every other day really wrecked my body. I started depending on coffee, lost a lot of weight, and had trouble eating. My mind was exhausted and I noticed that I was on survival mode, less productive overall and more lenient about my tasks and deadlines. It only took three months for me to realize the effects, and while I was happy and alive, my body was barely keeping up.

As I gained awareness of my body’s circadian rhythm, I learned that my optimal sleeping time is 9 hours per night. If I receive less than that, it is best if I take a mid-afternoon nap. Now there are groups of people who would argue against the health benefits of this. But every person is different and the range of ideal sleep time is vast. Regardless of what the actual number of hours is, sleep is a crucial part to your overall productivity and here is why you need to make sure you get enough of it.

Reasons to Invest in Rest

  • Sleep is important for memory and processing daily experiences.
  • A night of sleep more than doubles the likelihood that you will solve a problem requiring insight.
  • Sleep clears toxins in the brain.
  • Sleep is the most crucial factor for peak performance, memory, productivity, immune function, mood regulation.
  • Even mild sleep reduction has detrimental effects on cognitive function many days afterwards.
  • One-third of working Americans sleep less than six hours a night.
  • Sleep deprivation was declared a public health epidemic by the CDC in 2018.
  • Lack of sleep increases the risk of heart disease, obesity, stroke, and cancer.
  • Getting consistent sleep is very important to your health.

As a person trying to live an intentional life, I care a lot about sleep. I understand that the long-effects of getting enough shut-eye will outweigh the few hours I lose each day. Investing in rest doesn’t just mean making the resolution to sleep a set number of hours each night, although that is the FREE self-care part of it. However, one must also consider what they sleep on.

I spend a lot of time curating my bed, and highly recommend getting a mattress and pillows that are ergonomically beneficial. Spinal problems caused by having a cheap bed will translate to decreased quality of life and productivity. My personal favorite company is LEESA. We own their mattress topper and pillows, and it has been such a game-changer. I used to have a lot of neck and back pain due to maintaining static postures and craning my neck at the dental office – so much so that I would wake up in the middle of the night from the pain and spend entire Saturdays lying on the couch unable to move. Once we switched to high-quality pillows and added the LEESA mattress topper, the pain went away! After watching my dad undergo three spinal surgeries in the last two years, I knew that I was not going to wait until my own symptoms got worse. If you want to step up your bed game, Try LEESA! Get up to $400 OFF a LEESA mattress this MLK weekend by clicking on my affiliate link. They have a great trial-period guarantee. For those who are wary about making such an expensive commitment to their health, LEESA also offers 0% financing through Affirm for as low as $25 a month, the equivalent of 8 drip coffees! Think of it as getting better sleep and saving on the coffee.

Likewise, I also invest in high quality bedsheets made out of clean fabrics that are good for the skin. I really like Parachute’s linen sheets and have written why Parachute sheets are the only sheets you need to own this post. Since then, we’ve tried a cotton duvet cover from them as well, pictured above, and we love it just as equally.

An alternative for those who wish to have cotton sheets is PACT. Pact is an eco-conscious company who makes clothing and textiles for the home. Currently, they have a sale on their bedding and bath products lasting until January 31, 2021. Simply use the code REFRESH25 to receive 25% OFF. You can access the sale by clicking on my affiliate link here.

Shop Pact Today.

Other rituals I have around my sleep include making my bed every morning so that the sheets stay clean, turning on a humidifier, and putting my phone away an hour before bed. We also wash the sheets frequently, vacuum the mattress, and rotate the toppers and pillows as outlined by my ultimate cleaning list.

Regardless of what you do to make sleep an important part of your day, make sure to prioritize it for the years to come!

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Why A Kitchen Reno Is Not Happening Any Time Soon

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure to learn more.

Sometimes, this space is as much for my readers as it is for me – a place where I can store letters to myself or record the reasoning behind this experimental project which I call life. Today, it serves as the latter, although my readers may find the value in it too; A kind note to myself as to why a kitchen renovation is not in the cards in our near future, and why that is perfectly okay.

I toyed with the idea of re-doing our kitchen in December, after visiting a few friends who underwent just that. Their pretty white cabinets and shining appliances made an impression on me and had me stumbling down a rabbit hole of quartz countertops and custom-made wooden doors. In my musings, I mulled over all the flaws of our tiny kitchen space – the creaking faucet that is sure to break any minute now, the super thin metal sink banged up from carelessness, the water-logged floorboards caused by a leak every time we ran the dishwasher left undiagnosed until three plumbers later, the oven that clicks without a fan in the rear, the plastic microwave with its sticky hooded vents, the peeling panels stickered onto the laminated cabinet doors and the crusty chipboard slowly giving up underneath these fake countertops – all the things that my dream kitchen did not have.

My consideration even went so far as physically going to Ikea, planning a kitchen with a consultant, getting quotes from the third party counter-top company and the installation crew, and coming up with a game plan to ensue renovation at a moment’s notice. As usual, my husband gave me pause and we agreed to dog-ear the project and revisit at a later month.

During which, all the things I love about the kitchen re-surfaced. I had already written another note to myself about How to Fall In Love with a Kitchen but forgot it in the midst of celebrating all the newness of our friend’s “new” home. Which goes to show that sometimes, we need reminders of our love, such as that which I hold for my own space.

How it was my own bakery for a year of my life, how I know exactly the way my breads will turn out in this faithful oven of mine, how the light hits the fake-wood and adds a soft glow to my mornings and late afternoons, how the countertops never cause me worry and allow me to thoughtlessly spill sauce that would certainly stain marble and leave hot pans unattended which would certainly burn wood, how the kitchen fridge holds enough food for the three of us, how my dishwasher keeps my hands from drying out in the winter time, how we eat breakfast and prep meals around the free wooden island that came with the house and those fold-up-Ikea chairs, how there is just enough room to store all our belongings, how a cabinet in particular holds the exact dimensions needed for my beloved KitchenAid Mixer, how there is a very specific counterspace wide enough to house our espresso machine and coffee grinder, and how it brings me so much joy to stare at my kitchen from the couch, thanking my lucky stars that we get to call this abode our home.

With all of this recognition for our kitchen’s enoughness comes the flaws of doing a renovation. Redoing a kitchen would definitely put us behind on our loan repayment journey, which serves as our number one priority and biggest goal. Redoing a kitchen would take away time from our daily lives, as well as erase my bakery’s memories. Redoing a kitchen will unlikely bring us lasting happiness, as I continue to spill sauce on new countertops and drop things in a new sink while relearning the workings of a new oven. Lastly and most importantly, redoing a kitchen is not exactly what we are about.

In an effort to practice gratitude for what we already have, to live freely from working 9-5, and to live purposefully and to the fullest, I have decided after much consideration not to tackle the kitchen renovation. And while Instagram will feed me mementos as to why renovation is a must, I will be baking away in this darn kitchen, grateful for it supporting all my culinary endeavors, forgiving my experimental failures, and hosting my favorite people while learning and relearning the beauty in the aging of things and the growing of ourselves.

Other reminders and related posts: