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Choosing a “Word of the Year” – Will This Actually Change Anything?

In the few days before and after January 1st, all of social media is a-buzz with “Word of the Year” chatter. Seems everyone who is setting goals is choosing a word of the year. So naturally I started to think of what I wanted my word of the year to be. Oh, I came up with some great ideas but it kept coming back to the same word.

Choosing a Word of the Year – FOCUS.

I need this in my life. I’m desperately in need of focus because frankly, I’m a bit of a mess! Yeah, I’ve got four kids so my time is stretched pretty thin. My daily to-do list varies from blog posts, freelance writing assignments, doctor’s appointments, household budgeting, social media upkeep, grocery shopping and kid’s sports events and practices. On any given day, I might be coloring my hair, rotating 6 loads of laundry, making Pins for Pinterest, sending out emails for my blog, or going to Bible study. And I’ve not told you yet, but I’ve decided to go to night school for a medical career position. I’m still not sure where I’m going to squeeze in the time for all that entails.

That’s me, crazy hair to go with my crazy schedule!

But none of this is anything that causes you to blink because I know you’re all in the same position. Isn’t the real deal of being a mom is that we have a hundred things on our plate at any given time? Moms are supposed to do it all, right? I mean, that’s what we’ve always heard.

Multitasking is Life.

Sit around with a group of moms and bring up your schedule for the day. I can almost guarantee you that someone is going to “one up” by sharing their daily routine. There’s going to be a big one in there too, something you can’t even compete with, like a business trip or surgery. It’s going to seem like piling everything you possibly can with as little sleep as you can get by on is the norm. Must be why everyone is like, “But first, coffee”.

In the time that I’ve been writing this post, I’ve been everything except focused. I currently have open my Google Analytics for my blog, I’ve un-followed about a hundred people on Instagram, I’ve followed about a hundred people on Twitter, I’ve scheduled about 50 Pins in my Pinterest account, I’ve entered several online contests, researched two upcoming posts, checked my email dozens of times, updated two other blog posts, read a few articles I searched for on Google and I’ve had several Facebook messenger conversations.

Ahem…where’s the FOCUS and how do I get it?!

My struggle with doing everything is that I try to do it all at the same time. My free time is limited of course. I squeeze in snippets of work during the day while the toddler naps or during an episode of Sesame Street. I check email in the bathroom on my phone so I don’t have to hear my husband complain about me being on social media all the time. I stay up after my family has gone to bed so I can finish a post or send out a blog idea. And of course, I try to do everything at once.

Not possible to do it all at one time, I’m finding. At least it’s not possible to do it very well! It’s not only not getting done, things are sloppy and oft forgotten in my haste to “do it all”. With the upcoming addition of night school taking me out of the house for 6 hours each week and homework on top of that, I know that finding focus NOW is imperative.

Found this folder at Target…had to have it!

Is True Focus Available for Everyone?

I actually find it really really hard to do just one thing by itself. Multitasking!! All moms do that, don’t they? Is it just in my nature to be all over the place? Is true focus even possible?!

But what if all this multitasking means that I’ll never be able to gain the focus I need? Do I really need focus at all or can I continue to just get things done as I have been – willy-nilly, squeezed in work, flitting here and there until it’s completed at the last moment. I’m thinking that I’m going to need an overhaul in my thinking. I’m going to have to make some MAJOR changes in my routine to truly focus.

What Does Focus Mean to Me?

In my eyes, focus means I’ll be able to complete one task at a time to completion. Focus feels like a COMMITMENT. Seeing a single thing done and completed before moving to the next.

I imagine looking through a camera lens, when I depress the shutter slightly and what’s in view becomes crisp and sharp. I can’t see what’s outside the frame, I can only look at what the camera is pointing at. Nothing else matters, only what’s in that small box. Even the background in the shot is blurred. There is laser focus on that single thing and all else fades away.

For me, that means if I’m writing a post, I’m only writing that post. This might mean I wait to write until all other distractions are out of focus (kids in bed, dishes all washed, TV off). And not only am I using my Word of the Year FOCUS on just my work ventures, I’m wanting to improve my life all around. If want focus on my family, my spiritual life, my marriage and my home. Less overlap. Less multitasking. More full completion.

So how does one get FOCUS?

Oh, the million dollar question! How am I going to take a WORD and bring it into fruition? How do I amend what comes naturally to me (multi-tasking) and gain sharp focus instead?

After a Google search, I found these ideas:

  • Preparing yourself for the task
  • Understanding where you need to focus
  • Drink coffee
  • Doodle
  • Minimize multitasking
  • Take a 30 minute break
  • Turn on music
  • Meditate
  • Create a to-do list
  • Understand why you lose focus in the first place
  • Get organized
  • Visualize the results
  • Work on a particular project for only 30 minutes at a time

Some of these work for me and some of them don’t. I think that finding things that are the most appropriate for you, things that will help you stick to your goals are what matters. Personally I can see myself really being able to work for 30 minutes on one task before needing a break. Making a to-do is something I already do (I live for checking things off my list!) And knowing how and why I lose focus is important (hello, can you say constant interruption from little people?)

I’m excited to see how my WORD OF THE YEAR is going to help me towards my goals of FOCUS! Share your word or goals for this year.

Did you choose a Word of the Year? I chose mine, and here's how I'm working towards meeting that goal #OneWord #WordoftheYear

 

“I Want to Save More Money” – 5 Basic Questions to Ask Yourself

"I Want to Save More Money" - 5 Basic Questions to Ask Yourself

It’s not simply enough to say that you want to “save more money”. Money has a way of disappearing from your bank account and wallet so quickly if you don’t keep track of it. If you want to save more money, the first thing you need to do is set your goal!

When my husband and I were working with a broker/Realtor to purchase our first house, he told us the minimum we’d need in cash for a down payment/closing costs. We set our monetary goal, figured out the timeline and made a savings plan. Within four months, we had more than enough set aside in our savings account. We’ve continued putting money aside in our savings account, though not as aggressively as when we had that particular goal. What a great feeling to have cash in the bank to fall back on when brakes on the car need repair, your husband is laid off for six weeks or your ceiling has a leak (all things that happened to us last year!)


Get that dream Disney vacation you've always wanted! "I Want to Save More Money" - 5 Basic Questions to Ask Yourself

Get out your note pad and make it real by answering these 5 basic money saving questions —

1. What is your monetary goal? 

Write down a number. Best to overshoot and make the number higher than you think you’ll need.

2. What are you saving for?

Keep your savings on track by pinpointing what the money is earmarked for. Whether it be you’re saving up for something grand like a home down payment or you just want to buy that gorgeous Dooney & Bourke handbag, make the goal real by writing it down. Maybe even print a photo that you put in a prominent place to keep you on track!

3. How long will it take you to reach your goal?

Set a deadline for yourself that’s within the foreseeable future. If your ultimate goal number is really big, break it up into quarters and set a date that is close at hand to help keep your savings spirits up!

4. What are you willing to give up to make saving possible?

Make sure you know your True Budget first and see where the extra savings money is going to come from to make your goal savings a reality. Try using this helpful worksheet. What’s in your budget that you’re willing to sacrifice to meet that goal? I’ve covered this topic in my articles Learning to Live Without and Realistic Ways of Cutting Back in Your Budget.

5. Is your savings plan reasonable?

The last thing you want to do is crash and burn on your goal because it’s too stressful or unrealistic. Make sure your budget has flexibility to continue to allow for fun things or emergencies.


Get that dream Disney vacation you've always wanted! "I Want to Save More Money" - 5 Basic Questions to Ask Yourself

Once you’ve answered all these questions, figure out exactly how much you’ll be setting aside each month to meet your goal.

Simple formula: Total amount you want to save divided by the months that it will take you to reach the goal = How much you need to save each month


It’s never too late to make meaningful changes! Please read up on the other topics in my Resolution Series –

I Want to Start an Exercise Routine

I Want to Look More Put Together Head to Toe

I Want to Eat Healthier

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Start (and Stick to!) an Exercise Routine On a Budget

I used to think that if “I only had a gym membership”, I could get into shape. Or if “I only had more time in the day to exercise”. It’s only with time that’s I’ve come to know that the only thing preventing me from good health are MY EXCUSES! There is a way to get fit for everyone on every budget.  Get it out of your head that you require a personal trainer, costly equipment or fancy spandex clothes in order to exercise. You really just have to push past the excuses and do it!

Before you begin, make sure you’re in good health by getting a check-up from your doctor. Please note that I include affiliate links in my posts. Clicking through and making a purchase helps me in a small financial way, thank you!

Starting an Exercise Routine on a Budget

What are your goals and what do you hope to accomplish? You’re unlikely to meet your goals if you don’t first establish what you want.

  • Purchase a calendar that you’ll keep in a prominent location where you will note your workout days and log your exercise every day. I keep mine on the fridge for everyone to see.
  • Write down your goals and place your goals in a place where you’ll see them and can be reminded of them so you’ll better stay on track. Do you want to lose weight, improve cardivascular health, become more flexible?
  • Find a like-minded workout buddy that you can schedule exercise with and meet up at a regular time & place. You’re less likely to fall off the workout wagon if you have someone else counting on you!

1. Hit the Streets

This is most often my exercise of choice, a walk or run through my neighborhood. I am fortunate to live in an area with plenty of good walking courses, some that have challenging up-hill sections. I appreciate that I can put my littlest one in his stroller and we can take a walk nearly any time of day and I don’t have to arrange babysitting for him. My oldest son is interested in improving his long-distance running skills (he’s more of a sprinter) so he’s been joining me for jogs around the neighborhood. It’s nice to have the company and also to have someone encouraging me to get up at 5am for exercise!

Benefits of an outdoor exercise

    • It’s free! All you need is a decent pair of shoes.
    • Relaxing to get out in to the open air and hit the streets, rather than a treadmill in front of a television
    • Entire family can come along, so no babysitting is required           

Disadvantages of an outdoor exercise

  • Neighborhood may not be safe or comfortable to walk in (no sidewalk, poorly lit or too hilly)
  • Inclement weather (too hot, cold or wet)

Walking Tips

  • Invest in a good pair of walking shoes.
  • If your neighborhood isn’t ideal, considering driving a short distant to a nearby park or school that allows guests to walk on their track.
  • Be sure not to let the walk become a stroll. You should still be challenging yourself and pushing yourself by extending your walking distance or by speeding up your time.

Start (and Stick to!) an Exercise Routine On a Budget

 

2. Work Up a Sweat in Your Living Room

I alternate an outdoor walk or jog with an in-home kettle bell workout. The kettle bell cost me less than $20 and I have found a wide variety of workouts online that I can do with it. I add in crunches, planks and push-ups to the routine and come out with a heart racing cardio workout in my living room. Consider streaming a workout video that you can follow on your TV (Zumba anyone?) My mom has the Leslie Sansone: Walk Away The Pounds: 30 Minute Walk DVD. I’ve done this with her and it’s excellent for getting a quick workout in at home, especially if space is limited.


Benefits of exercising in your home

  • Minimal cost. Consider picking up a few inexpensive pieces of equipment like a yoga mat, kettle bell, free weights or a resistance band.
  • Ideal for those who are intimidated by the gym and would like to perfect their form or routines before taking it out of the house
  • Easy to squeeze in the time (early morning before rest of family awakens or during a child’s nap)

Disadvantages to exercising in your home

  • Too easy to get distracted (kids, chores, etc) with things that pull you away from or shorten your workout
  • Certain spaces might not be conducive to cardio or floor-based exercises (ie: floor too hard, area too small for some cardio routines)

Home Workout Tips

  • A padded yoga-type mat can help cushion during some exercises when flooring is inappropriate.
  • Resist the urge to exercise in your pajamas! You won’t put forth the effort needed for a decent workout. Slip on a good sports bra and gym clothes and pretend you’re at the gym.
  • And so what if you are in your pjs and ready to watch your favorite show? Squeeze in a 5-minute set of crunches and planks during each commercial break!

From moving more, portion control and taking a daily probiotic, these are a few little things that moms do that make a big difference in their health. #ad #NatureMadeProbiotics

3. Squeezing in a Quick Ten at Your Desk 

We’ve all gotten deep into a project and suddenly 20 minutes at the computer turns into two hours! I have a reminder on my email system at work (you could use an app on your phone as well) to remind you to stand and stretch once every hour. Incorporate some neck, wrist and shoulder stretches to ease tension after long typing sessions.

Benefits of exercising at your desk

  • Easy to do in quick bursts of time and energy
  • Little to no equipment needed (you can even do it in heels!)
  • Beneficial to your health and back to move and stretch several times an hour

Disadvantages to exercising at your desk

  • You might feel embarrassed doing squats at your desk, especially if your desk isn’t in a private office! Do what is appropriate and feels comfortable. Ask your boss first for the okay if there is any question about the exercises.
  • May not get an elevated heart rate & will need to supplement with cardio     

At Your Desk Exercise Tips

A desk exercise probably isn’t going to be strenuous enough to break a sweat, but it’s a great way to supplement your routine and keep limber. Resistance exercises are particular effective and quick to do while sitting.


4. Join the Gym (If the Cost is Right)

My husband has a gym membership and I do not. He was “grandfathered” in to his current rate, a very low $9.99. It makes sense for him as he goes to the gym after work, is able to shower there and go straight to school. If I were to join up, the cost would be about $20 a month (still pretty low) but only cost-effective if you can get there frequently. My schedule wouldn’t allow me to get there often enough so I’ve opted out of the gym membership and choose to exercise at home.

Benefits of a gym membership

  • Money invested into it may be a good incentive to go and “get your money worth”
  • Personal trainers may be available. This is sometimes given as a one-time sign up initiative that you should absolutely take advantage of.
  • Wide variety of exercise classes & equipment that can help prevent boredom                 

Disadvantages of a gym membership

  • Hours open may not be conducive to your schedule
  • Cost may be prohibitive (monthly dues plus yearly renewal/initial sign-up fee)
  • Babysitting not always available or may be an additional cost

Gym Tips

If you are considering joining up at the gym, first figure out roughly how often you’ll be able to go. Total the cost (including the initial sign-up fee) and get an “Average Cost Per Visit” so you’ll know if this is a price you are willing to spend per workout.

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5. Work Out…Anywhere & Everywhere! 

With the kids – Play with the kids when they play. Put on music and dance along with them. Climb the stairs, slide down the slide, push them on the swing. Anything to get you off the park bench and moving along with them.

In the car – Squeeze and hold your butt muscles tight while waiting at a red light (put the car into park first!)

In the kitchen – Do as many squats or jumps as you can while you wait for the pot of water to boil.

While you wait – Waiting your turn at the doctor or dentist office? Ask the receptionist if she’ll call or text you when you’re next in line. Why sit in the stale office reading old magazines if you can take a brisk walk outside instead?

When kids have extracurricular activities – Instead of sitting on a bench watching them practice, put on your walking shoes and go!


How are you incorporating exercise into your daily routine every day? 

 

 

Kick Start the New Year with a Healthier, Wealthier and Better Organized You! – Resolution Series

I’m ready for the fresh start that the new year brings! There’s something about flipping over to the first month on a brand new calendar that makes you ready to take on challenges and adventures. Even if you’ve been soured on New Year’s Resolutions in the past, I promise that these will be fun, practical, budget-friendly and totally do-able…which means even when February rolls around, you’ll still be in the resolution groove!

Resolution Series - Kick Start the Year Towards a Healthier, Wealthier and More Organized You!

Check back soon for the first post in this series. Please sign up for my newsletter so you’ll be informed when new posts are listed!

Blessings to you for a healthy and happy New Year!

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