Intentional Living: Christmas Returns

I wanted to share the story of the Christmas gift that I purchased for Mikey last month. It was a fairly expensive piece of coffee equipment called the Ratio 6 (affiliate link should you choose to try it). It has been raved about by coffee addicts for being a drip machine that produces pour-over-quality coffee. We’ve been dying to try it for ages, but the high price point prevented us from buying it. Finally, I decided a joint Christmas/Anniversary gift would justify the splurge. However, the purchase did not go as planned.

We tried the Ratio 6 the week after Christmas. It looked gorgeous on our countertop. Easy to use, we thought this would be the perfect coffee maker for when the baby arrives. As we hope to have help in the form of grandparents, we figured that our community would involve a lot of people needing caffeine. It was a gift that we hoped would give to others.

And it made stellar coffee. Just as people said it would. However, the one part we didn’t like about it is the way the kettle poured the coffee. It splashed and gurgled due to an odd interior design. The anatomy of the spout had a lip that caused a bump during the pour. It was a mess to serve coffee from. Because of that one flaw, we decided to return it.

I don’t share this story to promote a snobbish sense of character. But the machine cost an arm and a leg, and the value just wasn’t there. In terms of functionality, it didn’t deliver the ease of use we wanted. So, we ended up trading it in for a standard Mr. Coffee machine that cost a tenth of the price. We figured that the purpose was to make big batches of joe that would sustain our community of baby helpers. We compromise by using quality coffee and water to begin with, and settle with less than pour-over standards for the sake of convenience. Plus, we saved a lot of money.

There was a time when I would have kept the machine. It would have photographed well. It would have made good coffee. People would have oohed and aahed. And I’ve been wanting it for a while. Previous me would use my want as justification enough to keep it. But I have since moved on to a more intentional lifestyle.

The power of intentionality requires that we make decisions based on value. We did not keep the machine because of a singular flaw. But for me, if it isn’t 100%, it isn’t anything at all. Some would overlook a short-coming so “minor”. I mean, it made dang good coffee at the push of a button. I give it cred. However, I saw the “minor flaw” as a reminder, as well as a relearning of a lesson. We can choose to spend our money on things other people convince us is “worth it”. But if you yourself don’t believe it to be true, have the courage to walk away. The media will sell. The group will convince you otherwise. Remember this: don’t waste your time on things that fall short. Life will not wait.

Unembarrasing Tips for Decluttering Christmas Gifts

  • Return for cash or credit.
  • Regift to others.
  • Resell on Poshmark or Craisglist.
  • List on your local Buy Nothing Group

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

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

My Free Advent Calendar 2022

I spent a lovely weekend refining this season’s advent calendar. Unlike one purchased from a grocery store, chalk-full of chocolates, treats, or tiny trinkets, mine is of the free and freeing variety. I have loved the challenge of creating a frugal holiday season for years now and once before published an advent calendar idea in this space. Instead of items, my calendar is self-made and filled with activities. More specifically… it’s a collection of errands focused on slowing down. I call it an ode to ending the year just right. In an effort to avoid the bustle that sweeps away our last few months from us (poof! there it goes again!), I created a list of things I want to ensure I do before the year’s end. Consider it a dedication to standing by how we as a family want to live our lives.

This year’s advent calendar looks a bit like this:

  1. Jacuzzi dip on a cold winter evening.
  2. Bake rice crispy treats for nostalgia’s sake.
  3. Head to the Hilltop Hangout to celebrate with neighbors and food trucks.
  4. Do a pre-work bagel run with Mikey.
  5. Check out the Holiday Market in Lights. See what the local artists are selling, listen to the carolers and consume wild amounts of hot cocoa and donuts.
  6. Make peppermint syrup.
  7. Watch an old Christmas movie and pop some corn.
  8. Play a boardgame by the tree.
  9. Pick oranges from the groves and make orange ornaments out of them.
  10. Attend a friend’s holiday party.
  11. View the local holiday lights while sipping on hot chocolate.
  12. Order to-go dinner on a busy weeknight and eat by candlelight.
  13. Make holiday themed pancakes.
  14. Decorate a gingerbread house.
  15. Do a family hike or some other outdoor activity.
  16. Christmas gathering with my side of the family.
  17. Bake cinnamon rolls.
  18. Make cookies for the neighbors.
  19. Deliver said cookies.
  20. Puzzle party in pajamas.
  21. Get a spa treatment with a friend.
  22. Turn up the records.
  23. Schedule a breakfast pastry and coffee gathering at our house.
  24. Call my sister and parents who will be in Spain for Christmas.

Photo by Dari lli on Unsplash

My Favorite Books on Simple Living

Simple living has transformed my life. I initially was attracted to it because of the financial benefits of owning less and doing less. We are on a financial journey, after all! But after reading about it, I became obsessed with the thought of simplicity. Looking back, I have always been a simple person. I love that this lifestyle reduces stress, anxiety, clutter, spending, and the busy-ness that has pervaded my life. In its wake, simple living left me with peace, joy, clarity, and validation of who I am at my core. I can’t believe I haven’t created a round-up yet of my favorite books on simple living, but here they are.

Top books on Simple Living

  1. Simple Matters by Erin Boyle
  2. Goodbye Things by Fumio Sasaki
  3. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
  4. Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner
  5. Do Less by Kate Northrup
  6. Slow: Simple Living for a Frantic World by Brooke McAlary
  7. The Year of Less by Cait Flanders
  8. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
  9. Kinfolk Home
  10. Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport

I have read all of these books, although they are not in any particular order. Some of these authors were really good, and I’ve got my eyes set on a few new releases, as well as books I haven’t yet had the time to read. These include:

  • Hello Habits by Fumio Sasaki
  • Destination Simple by Brooke McAlary
  • Simple Living by Julia Watkins
  • Simplicity at Home by Yumiko Sekine

I hope you’ve found these lists useful. Simple living is one of the tactics we have used to tackle our $575k student loan debt. It has been instrumental in getting us this far. Paying down debt isn’t exactly the most sustainable task, but with simple living, we have been able to do it with success!

Photo by Arif Riyanto on Unsplash

Natural Nail Rituals with Bare Hands

I have always loved simplicity and a humble aesthetic. Even when it comes to fashion and beauty, I lean towards function and comfort. It has to look good too, but we can all find beauty in the mundane, everyday things. I have a penchant for the unappreciated as you may well know. So it’s only natural that my interest was piqued when I came across the brand Bare Hands, founded by Suzanne Shade who hopes to create an alternative to routine manis and pedis. Finally, I found a person glorifying the beauty of our nails’ most natural state.

We are not taught to love natural nails.

When I was young and going to dental school, there was a cardinal rule that applied only to women: Nails must not be painted with chemical color lest someone has an allergic reaction to any ingredient. I remember the rule feeling constrictive as a twenty-something year old female. Friends my age were just making their first paychecks, and taking care of themselves through manicures and pedicures. Attending social gatherings where girls were dolled up, sipping cocktails with their glossy nails made me feel what Anna Delvey would only describe as ‘poor‘.

I was embarrassed by my naked nails. They looked grungy after working with putty, plaster, and stone all week. My nails were dull, ragged, and downright ugly. I caught myself occasionally hiding them in my pockets or under the table. When Friday came around, I reserved an hour in the evening to paint them, only to remove the color by Sunday night. There was no way I could afford a mani/pedi, which runs at around $50 with tip. Beauty, it turns out, can also be expensive.

But the definition of beauty is changing.

Historically the idea of beauty has been elevated to unnatural levels. For some women, that also makes it unattainable. Just like makeup hides our natural facial features, polish hides our natural nails. We are always told to hide. Or reach for better. We are never enough.

The problem with covering ourselves in paint and powder is that we create a facade that’s a difficult standard to maintain. It complicates things. It keeps us from doing real work. More importantly, it keeps us from being ourselves.

I am grateful to see a shift in that thinking.

Simplicity is beautiful.

There is beauty in simplicity. We see that today, as more people turn towards minimalism, slow living, and intentional lifestyle choices. It started with the popularization of a natural looking brow. Then followed the revered diastema, a gap between the front two teeth. Makeup became more neutral as fashion styles veered towards chromophobia. Today, the rich aesthetic encompasses those along the greige spectrum of browns and greens. Think of stone-colored Porsches and neutral Yeezies. And we see this aesthetic translating to the nail industry.

Enter the era of natural nails.

Bare Hands is a brand revamping what the nail industry would consider beautiful. Gone are the days of bright colored polish, long fake nails, and glittery coats. If it isn’t neutral, it just isn’t posh. At least, that is the current consensus. But what of unpolished nails altogether? Suzanne has created a natural, healthy, and sustainable method for nail care.

As a dentist, baker, and dog-walker, having painted nails is problematic most of the time. And while I love getting fancy with my collection of curated J. Hannah polishes, I go without polish for more than half of the month for the sake of simplicity. Painted nails chip on oft used hands. Moreover, no one wants synthetic oils in their mouths or their dough. For many us who work in kitchens, studios, farms, and medical offices, painted nails are just not a sustainable option.

Additionally, maintenance is a pain. The amount of time it takes to put on and take off polish is significant if you add on dry-time. If you paint your nails weekly, this could be one and a half hours per week spent on upkeep. And it is expensive. Some women have reported spending $200 a month or more on nail care alone!

Suzanne created an alternative.

Suzanne is a woman after my own heart. She has always loved the look of natural nails. And as a frugalist, she could not fathom spending a fortune to keep up with the Joneses’ social standards. Her penchant for bare nails stems from her studies in art school. After learning that certain oil-based paints are not healthy for fine art use, she started to question why it was accepted for nail color.

So began her quest to get to the root cause of why women feel the need to paint their nails. Part of it is social, yes. Seeing others at that heightened level of beauty is a factor. However, she also discovered that most women simply did not like the appearance of their nails. And none of them had methods to care for it in a natural way.

Take me for example. Every week, I am baking sourdough, working on a farm, doing dentistry, and picking up dog poop. My hands take a beating. My nails are shot. It’s easier to cover up all that wear and tear. Polish is my pretend way of making my nails pretty. But after discovering the Dry Gloss Manicure from Bare Hands, I no longer have to hide.

The Dry Gloss Manicure by Bare Hands

The Dry Gloss Manicure kit is very simple and easy to use. A tutorial on their website taught me how to use it within minutes. The routine includes caring for your cuticles, buffing your nails to reveal a natural shine, and moisturizing with a citrine oil. You can soften the cuticles using sugar and coconut oil, ingredients already in your kitchen pantry. The kit provides a unique buffing tool and a citrine oil pen packaged in a beautiful leather case, shipped without plastic in a cardboard box.

I have actually made a habit of using the dry gloss manicure each night while I am watching TV or listening to a podcast. It has made a huge difference. I admire my nails often nowadays. I open my palm and try to catch a glint of natural light. On top of that, I am obsessed with the citrine oil, that I just might buy a bottle of it by itself from the site. It smells amazing and really moisturizes the dry skin around my nails!

Join the Movement

I think it’s time we embrace natural nails. Doing so will not only save us time and money, it will also save us from the related stresses. Namely, we no longer have to keep up with the Joneses, limit our movements and tasks, and hold ourselves to an impossible standard. We can embrace ourselves, do more of what we love, and feel confident in our skin.

Deep, deep gratitude to Suzanne for allowing me to try the Dry Gloss Manicure kit. As always, the thoughts and opinions are my own. If you wish to try the manicure yourself, feel free to use my code DEBTIST15 to receive 15% off all products. This is a one-time use code per person, and any links provided in this post are tied to my audience, although I earn no money from them. There is also a newly released Natural Pedicure Set which has a verbena balm for your heels. I can only imagine it being as lovely as the citrine oil. These two are great small gestures for the hard-working girlfriends in your life, but if you wish, there is a Mani Pedi Pairing that makes a grand gift. It also saves you $6 by buying the combo.

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!

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

How to Recover From the Holidays

The holidays are just around the corner and you may already feel a bit of burnout creeping in. Every day I am asking my patients what their plans are, and “nothing” seems to be the favorite answer. We may already be burned out from the rest of the year. Every day I am asking myself what my soul needs in the new year to flourish. Others may be asking themselves what they need just to get by. Whatever the case may be, don’t forgo making plans to recover after the holiday season. The tendency may be to jump head first into 2022. Perhaps it’s better to pause, take a break, and breathe? Here are a few of my favorite ideas to recover from the holidays.

Take time off of work.

You might feel like working full-speed in order to pay for the holiday spending is what you need to do. But I love taking time off of work to recover, even for just a day. I am lucky enough to not work a 9-5 job five days a week and to have flexible schedules. However, if I did work a traditional schedule, I would certainly request time off after my busier days. This time off isn’t for completing tasks, organizing the home, or socializing. This is a chance to reset, evaluate, and prepare. Activities that are perfect for this include getting out in nature, meditating, taking a yoga class, going to a coffee shop to write, or even getting away.

Take a vacation.

Sometimes, a separation of schedule isn’t enough to take the mind off a to-do list. For me, it also usually requires a separation of space. Taking a vacation or going away from home is a great way to recover from the holidays. My choice stay is GetAway! Stationed nationally in nature, these tiny cabins are the perfect way to disconnect from the world and reconnect with the earth or whatever grounds you. I would even recommend going without your significant other. It’ll do wonders. You can read my review of the GetAway experience here. Make your first booking with my referral link and receive $25 OFF your first stay (minimum two nights required).

Declutter the Home

We accumulate a lot of things over the holidays. I look at the things we received as gifts and consider what they are replacing in our space. We try not to keep two of anything so that’s an easy way to declutter. I also try to really consider the function of things. I get rid of a lot of stuff at the end of the year. Part of that is my natural response to the frenzy that is the holiday season. I declutter to alleviate myself of the overwhelm. But the other part of it is this: I am preparing my space for an intentional life.

Clean and Organize

I don’t know about everyone else but my house tends to look as scattered as my brain after the holidays. I usually need a day to reorganize and clean. Some of the things I do is clear out the fridge and store the leftovers, which are plenty. I put the gifts away and remove the decor, which are few. I clean the kitchen, wash sheets and towels, and sweep the floors. Throughout the year, I use this cleaning list that I wrote. It is saved on my Iphone under ‘Notes’ with checkmarks next to each task. I do a weekly cleaning time block each weekend and address the tasks little by little. It’s a simple way for me to get things done.

Give back to yourself.

In the name of giving to others over the holidays, we tend to forget about ourselves. There are many self-care strategies that you can implement to give back to yourself again. This includes getting into an exercise routine, laying off the sweets, lessening the alcohol and coffee, and being openly grateful.

I know that this list is short and sweet, but these are my favorite ways to recover from the holidays. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, nor does it have to be expensive. Just make sure you are doing something for yourself to recover. The holidays is a stressful time for everyone. Don’t feel bad if you need to tell loved ones you need a break, or more space, or less time with them. We need to say no, in order to say a bigger “YES!”. That’s a good mantra to have in 2022.

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!

If you already have a planner but want to save this for the next year, Pin this post on Pinterest!

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