DAILY ACTIONS WE CAN TAKE TO FEEL GOOD AT THE END OF EACH DAY

There are times - sometimes days, weeks and even months - when we are simply going through the motions of life. As you can imagine, just going through the motions can make you feel as if you have not accomplished enough or as if you have not contributed enough value to yourself, your life, your goals and those around you. From my experience, there have been times when I have sat back and really wondered and asked myself what I have accomplished as of recent. Sometimes I can easily come up with many things (big and small) that I feel good about and other times I feel as if my list is pretty dry, even when it's really not! I believe we consistently add value to ourselves and others every single day but I also feel that we often forget to remind ourselves about those accomplishments and we can also forget that we have a lot of control about the good in our lives.  

Taking your life day-by-day and having small wins everyday will amount to so, so much. This is why it is so important to do some checks and balances as frequently as you can - below are a few ways you can do just that:  


each day is a blank slate


Remember to start each day with a fresh outlook on life. Whatever happened the day before is now in the past and cannot be changed. All we can do is work towards becoming better today than we were yesterday, making better chioces and being more present. 


keep yourself informed


Taking in information gives you the opportunity to learn something new every single day. You can pick up a book and read at least 15-20 minutes each day, you can listen to a podcast or read an article. In short, making an effort to expand your mind and learn new things can you only help you become a better and more well-rounded person. Definitely something worth giving yourself a pat on the back for! 


make healthy choices


Making the right choice can sometimes be hard because we all know how easy it is to stray a bit. But choosing the healthy lunch and dinner options, putting your phone down so you can get an extra 45 minutes of sleep and being conscious of staying active throughout the day are all healthy choices we can make for ourselves every day.


do something for someone else


Being conscious of those around you makes it easy to find ways to add value. This can be a sincere and heartfelt compliment, it can be anticipating a need and helping when you can. The point is that when you do something for someone else not only will they appreciate it but as long as you do it from the right place you will also appreciate yourself for the good deed. 


make notes


It is so important to make note of your accomplishments – they can be a mental note or run down at the end of the day or if you are anything like me, you would write down the little things and the big things you have achieved. For example, I use my planner pretty much every day and I write down the things I have accomplished that day. I think I would probably feel embarrassed to let people read my accomplishments (sometimes I make sure to put down that I gave myself a little manicure!) – the point is that if you do or finish something you have been meaning to do it is worth keeping track of. It almost feels like I am keeping a diary of sorts!

I know that this list can seem daunting but once you consistently begin incorporating these habits soon enough you will start to feel good at the end of your day.  A lot of this is about looking at the bright side of life, the good things that happen every day and the good choices we can make.

Do you actively remind yourself of the positive things you do for yourself and others each day? Share how and what you do below!

PRODUCTIVITY MADE SIMPLE: 7 EASY WAYS TO MAKE PROGRESS TOWARDS YOUR GOALS

We all start of the beginning of the year with plenty of goals in mind, most of which we want to achieve as soon as we can – which is awesome! I think that we should all have things we look forward to and things we want to accomplish. But all the dreaming and goal setting is the easy part. Creating a step-by-step plan to begin working towards your goals is ehhh somewhat easy. But, when it comes down to keeping yourself accountable and staying productive and consistent about reaching your goals…now that is the hardest part, in my humble opinion.

Making sure I follow through in doing what I tell myself I want to achieve is hard because, frankly, being your own boss is hard. I find that when you have no one else to be accountable to but yourself you may give yourself a few too many passes to push things off for a lot longer than if you were working on completing something for someone else. Do you agree? Which is why I compiled a list of what helps me stay productive through those moments (and days) when my dreams just seem to big or too cumbersome to achieve.


Make lists


I keep a running list of the things I know I need to do. I do this for my personal life - like doing laundry, blow drying my hair (all of you curly hair girls out there know that this task needs to be planned out!), doing my nails and the list goes on. I also do this for Ninel Studio – I have a list for updates I need to make to the website, a list for candle production (what I need to make, inventory lists), a list for planning my editorial calendar for the blog and a list for bigger projects down the road. Having a place that you can refer to when you need a high-level view of the things you need to get done will give you a little boost of energy to start working.


Use time blocks wisely


This strategy has really done wonders for me. Blocking out time to do specific tasks is a really great way to stay productive. If I know I have an hour in my day to spare I try to put it to good use. For example, as I am writing this blog post, I literally just got home from work and will be picked up in 45 minutes to run a few errands (i.e. shopping) so I got right to it and started writing this blog. Every minute counts. When I get back later tonight I will block out one more hour to edit this post and schedule it for publishing.


Plan your day


This is like the idea of using time blocks wisely in that we need to plan the day out. Yes, sometimes things come up and we cannot stick to a strict schedule but having at least a rough idea of what we want to accomplish the next day will help up stay on track and continue to move things forward. All you need is 10 to 15 minutes to sit down and write down what you want to accomplish the next day. This is a great way to get a head start on your day!


Use the Pomodoro technique


I must admit that I don’t always remember to do this and it is mostly because I am in and out of meetings for the better part of my day and I feel that the Pomodoro technique allows for best results if you have a good chunk of uninterrupted time on your hands (say around 2-3 hours). The basic idea of this technique is to work in 25 minute increments and take a 5-minute break and do this repeatedly for as long as you need to in order to accomplish whatever task you are working through. This technique is AMAZING – the times I can implement it I feel my productivity increase dramatically.


Skip the multi-tasking


Trying to focus on more than one thing at once really does not work for a lot of people. It certainly doesn’t for me, especially, if I am working on something that requires my undivided attention. I know it can be difficult to not reply to that email that just came in, after all, it will only take two seconds, right? Wrong! Breaking your focus to reply to that one email that will only take two seconds means that you are very likely to lose your train of thought and it may take you a while before you get back into the swing of things. This will slow down your productivity, big time. So, my advice here is to focus on your task at hand, the email can wait.


Listen to music


I like to listen to upbeat instrumentals to get me working a little bit faster. One thing I cannot do is listen to music with words while I am trying to write a blog post or draft an email – so music like electronica is pretty much my go to these days. Am I the only one?


2-minute rule


I incorporated this into my personal and professional life a few years ago and have not looked back since. The 2-minute rule means that if you have a task that will only take 2 minutes to do – just do it. But if it will take longer than that you should schedule some time to do it. The only time I do not use this technique is, as mentioned above, if I am already in the middle of something and a quick task comes across my desk. But aside from that, the 2-minute rule is fantastic a getting those little things that come up throughout the day out of sight and out of mind as quickly as possible.

There you have it – those are the ways/methods I use to stay productive and stay on track of my goals in my day to day life. Like I said in the beginning of this post, having dreams and goals is easy – making sure we work towards them one task at a time is hard if we do not feel motivated enough to do so. I hope one or all the techniques I have listed help you stay motivated and productive to reach your goals. Happy 2017!

Now your turn! Do have any other tips and techniques that help you stay productive to reach your goals? Do share below!

6 GOOD REASONS TO MAKE THE SWITCH TO SOY CANDLES

My candle addiction began about 12 years ago, since I am currently 28 years old, 12 years of my life is almost half of it! But I digress, there were times that I would have been be embarrassed at letting people see the number of candles I had at any given moment. I could not help but purchase every good smelling candle I came across. And one of my favorite things to do, at least once a week, was to put some music on and clean my room/apartment and light up a candle as a reward (for such a hard day of work), ahhh just the thought of it is so relaxing.

However, over time, I learned about how harmful paraffin wax candles are for those who ingest the fumes. Even still, a couple of years after that realization, I continued to buy the paraffin wax candles I loved so much but, inevitably, every time I burned one I felt a little bit of guilt creep onto me.

That is when my interest in a more natural lifestyle, coupled with my curiosity, need to make things and creativity morphed into making soy candles. So this week I wanted to share with you the things I have learned about soy wax over time and the benefits of burning soy candles in your home:


natural


When compared to one of the most popular type of wax used in candles, paraffin, soy wax is definitely a natural source. In case you are not aware, paraffin wax is derived from petroleum. Petroleum is the substance that is used to make gasoline, kerosene and diesel oil. I don’t know about you, but the thought of essentially burning petroleum in my bedroom made me cringe. Soy wax on the other hand, is made from a natural source, soy beans. Sounds much better, huh?


last longer


Since soy wax has a lower melting point than paraffin wax they burn for much longer. Some studies I have read state that soy wax candle lasts 50% longer than a paraffin wax candle! Talk about a bang for your buck. 


clean burn


I have read articles that state the soy candles do not produce any soot at all. I do not agree. I have tested different types pf soy wax and different types of wicks (wooden, cotton) and I found that they all produce some soot. So, while I cannot support the claims that soy wax does not produce soot I can say that they product significantly less soot than the amount of soot that a paraffin wax produces.


non-toxic


Soy wax is sustainable, it is after all made from vegetable matter (soy beans) and thus it is a renewable resource. It could be purely physiological but when I am burning one of my soy candles I feel that the air is crispier than when I burn a paraffin wax candle.

Fun fact: soy wax and tofu come from the same plant!   


helps farmers


I am a big proponent of small businesses, farmers and other lines of work that are often undervalued in our society. Purchasing materials that I know help at least one of these undervalued lines of work makes me happy J.


easy to clean up


If some candle wax is accidentally spilled or if you want to reuse the jar the candle came in, it is much easier to wash off soy wax then paraffin wax. I re-use jars all the time and some warm soapy water and a regular sponge always does the trick for the jars that contained soy wax but the jars that contained paraffin wax is a different story - I have spent up to 15 minutes trying to wash off all of the wax from one container but it’s almost impossible to get it all off. This is just one more perk to burning soy wax candles over paraffin wax candles.

Now, I can’t write a blog post about the benefits of soy wax without mentioning other types of natural waxes that can be used to make candles – some of those are coconut wax, bees wax and bayberry (to name a few). Some may be better than others in certain aspects but I do not think that anything is 100% percent perfect or that one is that much better than the other. I think it is very important and I urge you to do some research of your own, understand what you purchase and what (if any) harmful effects it could have to you and those around you. Just like with anything we eat, we should also be just as aware about the items we bring into our homes whether they are candles, room sprays, cleaning products, personal care products and the list goes on and on. Happy learning!

So, do you have a preference for a certain type of wax? Soy wax, bees wax or coconut wax? Or maybe you didn’t know there were different types of waxes? Do share below!

A NOTE ON GIVING THIS HOLIDAY SEASON + A GIVEAWAY!

Can you guys believe that it is the holiday season again?? Every single year I am always so amazed at how fast the days, weeks and months go by! This year is no different and I’m sure you all get the same feeling as well. I do have to day that this year has been good to me in so, so many ways. I feel very grateful for all of the good things and the challenges that allow me to learn and grow and I thank the powers that be every day for all of the good and remind myself that even when I am feeling a little down there is still so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to. This time of year gives me a chance to reflect and I think about the amazing people I have in my life (including my best friend in pet form, Nina) – these people are with me day in and day out listen to me when I am up and down, care about my days and we truly cherish the time we spend together.

 

My note to you this holiday season is not make it all about the materialistic things. I know that it is very easy to get sucked in to the marketing and the sales and the false sense of needing everything we see in the ads day in and day out for the rest of the season. While I do like to gift my loved ones presents for the holidays, I also like to be thoughtful about it and I give it to them with big thanks for being there for me throughout the years. I am of the mind that would much rather give one quality item that I know they need or truly want than getting a bunch of presents for the sake of just getting something. What I like to do, is take the time to think back to conversations I have had with each person and think about that one item I feel they will truly appreciate. This shows that you listen and that you care.

So, what I am saying is that giving is always good and giving without expecting anything in return is even better. This year I challenge you all to be thoughtful with your gift giving. Give your loved one’s items that you know they will get good use out of not just something that will collect dust in a drawer for years to come. This requires you to connect to those around you and be present in your conversations with them.

Those are my two cents.

And, since we are on the topic of giving, I am so excited to be a part of a giveaway this year! I have teamed up with Holl & Lane to gift an item to 17 winners as a thank you from us to you! The giveaway will run from Monday, November 28th to Sunday, December 4th. The items in the image below is what is up for grabs, each winner will get one of the 17 items. Awesome, huh?!

 

The entry is very simple – all you need to do is:

1.       Click on this link bit.ly/HLSelfLove and follow the instructions to enter.

2.       On the week of December 5th we will contact the winners to claim the prize.

With that, good luck to the giveaway entrants and I hope you all have a festive holiday season, I hope you give with intention and I hope those give to you do it with intention as well.

So now you tell me, what is your philosophy on giving gifts? Has it changed overtime? Share below!