What is it about us humans that is so fascinated by seeing the way other people live? This curiosity drives our love for stories in books and on the screen, it fuels our social media obsession, and it’s probably why you are reading this very blog post.
I’m hardly immune. I love getting a peek into the lives of other people, real and fictional—partly because it’s entertaining or interesting, and also because it informs the way I go about my own life. (We could easily get into the topics of FOMO and comparison here, but I’ll save those thoughts for another day.) This interest is largely why the end of a calendar year is my very favorite time in the blogging world: I love seeing other bloggers recap their years’ highs and lows, the goals they accomplished and those that went unachieved, and especially what worked for them (and what didn’t) over the past twelve months.
We’re obviously not at the end of the calendar year, but today I thought it would be fun to share “what’s working for ME” right now, in the middle of 2018. As with almost all of my posts, I’m writing this largely for myself. I think there’s great value in periodically taking stock of how “things” are going; I like to get a sense for the areas in my life where I could stand to make some changes, and I like to celebrate the wins—this ensures that they keep happening!
Of course, I could keep this personal inventory to myself, and usually I do. But this time, instead of confining this list to my private journal, I’m writing it out here for all to read. Take a peek! You might get some ideas for some things that could work for you, too. At the very least you’ll get to engage in that oh-so-satisfying act of “spying” on someone else’s life.
While not comprehensive, this is a very long list. It’s exciting to see how many areas of my life seem to be going right. Many of the things that are working for me right now have worked well for a while; others are just for this season of life. A number of the things on this list might seem familiar (quite a few made an appearance here); that just means they’re working well enough to share more than once!
~ ROUTINES THAT ARE WORKING FOR ME ~
Routines in general work REALLY well for me, streamlining my life and helping to curb OCD-type thoughts and decision fatigue. I tend to struggle with rigidity, though, so I have to be intentional about holding these routines loosely and going with the flow when flexibility becomes necessary.
Keeping late hours. I’m a night owl by nature, and these days I’m capitalizing on that tendency. It’s working best for me to stay up until midnight or 1:00 (my boys are in bed by 9:00, so this is my work time). I usually sleep until 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning (depending on when Charleston is up).
Showering at night.
Scheduling an activity first thing in the morning. Whether it’s going to the gym, the library, or Bible Study, I try to plan some sort of activity every morning that will get us up and out of the house at a decent hour.
Prepping meals ahead of time. I like to take an afternoon per week to do as much food-prep as possible (cutting up veggies, portioning out meals, etc.). Whenever I prepare a meal, I cook multiple servings to eat throughout the week (or freeze). Thankfully my family appreciates leftovers.
Doing laundry three times per week. I wash our clothes on Monday and Thursday, and do it all in a single load (no sorting by color or family member; I wash on Cold and haven’t had a problem). I wash bedding and towels on Saturday, when I change our sheets.
Using the Marie Kondo method of folding and storing our clothes.
Taking a few minutes each night to organize/sort the day’s photos.
Wet-Swiffering our kitchen floor every night.
Grocery shopping twice per week. I get the bulk of our groceries from HEB, where I shop every Monday. On alternate Wednesdays, I go to either Costco or Sprouts to buy the items that are cheaper there.
Storing family memories (cards, notes, etc.) in one big box, with separate manila envelopes for each year. I’ve kept every single card that Luke and I have given to each other in our ten years together.
Running the dishwasher every night, and unloading it first thing in the morning.
Cleaning up toys and other clutter throughout the day.
Setting aside one full day per week to clean the whole house.
Storing all snack items, grains, and baking items in mason jars.
~ “LIFE HACKS” THAT ARE WORKING FOR ME ~
Listening to podcasts at double speed, and audiobooks at 1.25 speed. I listen using one of these (I have two so that one is fully charged at all times); it allows me to listen while I do things around the house or am running errands by myself, or in the car while Charleston listens to music on the stereo.
Adopting a personal “uniform.” In winter, it’s a sweater, leggings, boots, and a scarf. In the summer, it’s cropped leggings or denim shorts, a t-shirt, and Tieks.
Neutral/basic clothes, lots of accessories.
Storing my canvas shopping bags in the back of my car.
Keeping a box in my closet for clothing items that need to be donated.
Keeping a box in Charleston’s closet for items he’s outgrown. When the box is full, we tape it up, label it, and move it to our storage closet. Still holding out hope for that elusive second child.
Keeping baby wipes around the house, in my purse, and in both cars.
Carrying a backpack purse rather than a traditional tote.
Keeping my keys on a carabiner keychain so that I can clip them to the outside of my purse.
Using an annual Day Planner as my bullet journal.
Reading multiple books at once. At any given time I’m reading at least one fiction, one nonfiction, one ebook, one paper book, and one audiobook. This ensure that I always have a book to scratch my current reading itch.
Using Chatbooks to create family photo albums using my Instagram pictures. These are the only photo albums I make, so I’m sure to post all of the photos I know I’ll want to include. I make one album at the end of every calendar year.
~ APPS THAT ARE WORKING FOR ME ~
Amazon Prime ~ For buying just about everything.
Evernote ~ For general note keeping, list making, and document storage. (I scan all our documents and save them here, to minimize paper files.)
Day One ~ For my personal journal. I add to it throughout the day and include at least one picture every day. I also create entries for each book, movie, or tv show review.
Downcast ~ My podcast listening app of choice.
OverDrive ~ For checking out audiobooks and ebooks from the library.
Feedly ~ For keeping up with other blogs.
Kindle ~ For reading ebooks (checked out from the library or purchased ON SALE from Amazon).
Goodreads ~ For tracking my TBR as well as books I’ve read.
Pinterest ~ My back-up method for tracking books I’ve read (I start a new Board each year). I also have a Pins I’ve Done Board to keep track of recipes I’ve made, along with any personal recipe notes.
Grocery IQ ~ My grocery list. I add an item to the list as soon as we run out.
Wunderlist ~ My To Do list app. I set up weekly to-dos (such as cleaning and laundry) to be recurring tasks.
GroupMe ~ For group messaging with my Bible Study Group and Community Group.
YNAB ~ For budgeting and expense tracking.
YouVersion ~ To read various Bible translations, and also to find devotional plans.
Verses ~ For memorizing Scripture.
~ WHAT’S WORKING FOR ME AS A BLOGGER ~
Using Evernote to keep multiple planning lists. These include lists for blog topic ideas, an ongoing list of What I’m Learning, a list of items I want to include in my Lately posts, a list of favorite quotes, and one for links I’m thinking about sharing.
Writing book reviews as soon as I finish reading a book. I write these as journal entries, and they eventually provide the content for my Quick Lit posts.
Unsplash for professional images.
PicMonkey for photo editing.
Blogging “in advance” as much as possible. Other than life update posts, I like to have posts scheduled at least two weeks in advance.
~ WHAT’S WORKING FOR MY PARENTING LIFE ~
Reminding Charleston to “listen the first time” before giving instructions or direction.
Taking time to connect before disciplining, as described in this book.
Binder clips for holding up bibs. Yes, we still make Charleston wear a bib if he’s eating something messy.
Offering a grain, protein, fat, dairy source, and fruit or vegetable at every meal. And not worrying too much about portions.
Putting sprinkles on almost everything. This little hack has done wonders for expanding his food repertoire.
Following the Division of Responsibility with mealtimes. We decide what Charleston eats and when, and he decides how much.
Checking out a giant stack of picture books from the library every week.
Reading library books during/after mealtime.
Limiting television time to the weekends and iPad time to vacations.
Friday family movie nights with a picnic in the living room.
Keeping minimal toys in our home. All downstairs toys are confined to a single toy box, kept under the coffee table. Upstairs toys are rotated from storage to the playroom to maximize their usage and keep toy fatigue at bay.
Keeping out a stack of picture books, with the rest in Charleston’s (locked) closet. Having to ask us for permission to get out a book makes them much more appealing (and eliminates book messes)!
Writing letters/life updates to Charleston on the 16th of every month (his “Month Day”, since he was born on January 16th). I currently keep these in my Day One journal, and plan to eventually print them out to give to Charleston when he’s older.
Family scooter time. Charleston is great on his scooter; Luke and I have a hard time keeping up with him on ours!
~ PERSONAL CARE THAT’S WORKING FOR ME ~
Monthly pedicures at the nail salon.
Journaling every day, usually throughout the day.
Very limited scrolling on social media (especially at night time).
Weekly sessions with my therapist.
Daily Quiet Times with God. I use a journal to record my prayers and write my reflections related to that day’s Devotional Reading.
60-minute workouts at the gym, at least four times per week. I spend most of that time on the elliptical, while reading on my phone.
Coconut Oil as my lotion and nightly face cream.
Apple cider vinegar as my morning facial toner.
Diorskin BB Cream. This cream is magical, and other than a swipe of mascara, it is the only makeup item I wear on a daily basis.
Brushing with my Sonicare toothbrush.
L’Oreal Revitalift as my morning facial moisturizer and sunscreen.
Akamai soap for washing and shaving.
~ WHAT ISN’T WORKING FOR ME ~
This list could easily be just as long as what IS working for me, but I’ll keep it short. These are things that 1) I know don’t work for me and that I’m doing my best to avoid, or 2) are areas I recognize as problems and would like to change.
Filling up my schedule without leaving plenty of white space.
Trying to force blogging when I’m not in a writing “zone” or during my time with Charleston.
Sleeping less than 8 hours.
Engaging in power struggles with Charleston.
Charleston’s current nap/bedtime schedule.
(Trying to) manage other people’s emotions and expectations.
What are a few things that are working for you right now? Do our lists overlap at all? Does anything that works for me NOT work for you? Let’s compare! Also, I realize that nearly every one of these items could be a post of its own. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to answer them!