Wednesday, February 25, 2015

A To-Fix List


I might be an “adult” (haha), but I still turn to my mom for most of my problem-solving. When things get rough, I know I can vent to her and get an outside perspective on the situation. One of the best parts of getting insight from my mom is that she does a lot of reading and watching and soul-searching on life, love, spirituality, goals, dreams…you name it. If she doesn’t have a piece of her own advice, I will likely get a reference to where I can find some enlightenment.

Recently, I was telling her about some issues I was having with motivation and a positive perspective on some otherwise crappy days. She recommended I create a “To-Fix List”, which would be the spine of whatever my to-do list actually is.

The point of this list is to identify what is causing the most stress and holding me back in terms of to-do lists. Here’s an example of my ideal daily to-do list:

  1. Eat breakfast every morning (even if it’s something that needs to be made quickly and eaten on-the-go)
  2. Exercise in some form – walking outside or on the treadmill, popping in a dance DVD, or going to Planet Fitness
  3. Set aside 30-60 minutes to unplug from devices/TV and read
  4. Write (a blog post, a journal entry, ramblings that no one will ever see)
  5. Work on a small creative project (friendship bracelets, weaving, etc.) you’ve been wanting to do

It’s all pretty basic. I would love for my days to have an easy-to-follow layout so that I can be productive and creative. Weekends can be flexible and are often for being lazy anyway. But when it comes to the weekday grind, I find that there’s so much I want to do that never gets done. There are also the usual responsibilities (cooking, dishes, laundry, etc.) that need to be taken into account. Still, I know I have time that can be used wisely because, more often than not, I spend a lot of time on the couch streaming episodes of Friends when things could be gettin’ done. Now that I’ve identified the things I want to do, this would be my “to-fix” list so that I can find out what’s keeping me back:

  1. There are billion things I should fix for this task. For example, I hit the snooze a lot in the morning. This is a problem on its own, but I also happen to set my alarm for a later time than I should and it results in lots of unhelpful, disturbed sleep that cuts into useful time. In this case -
    a)   I should set my alarm for an earlier time right off the bat so that, even if I hit the snooze, I’m 
           not cutting into time I actually need to prepare for the day
    b)   I should go to bed earlier because I do, in fact, keep myself up late doing silly things
           (games on my iPhone or reading that could be done earlier) even when I am actually     
           tired enough to fall asleep
    c)   I should set my outfit out each evening. Sometimes I plan this stuff as I’m falling asleep. It’s
           okay but then I can’t find what I need in the morning or it’s dirty or wrinkled and I end up
           feeling sloppy or, again, taking away time I could be using for important things
  2. Exercise is necessary for all of us. While it would be great to lose a few pounds, I’m more concerned about not losing my breath just from walking up or down the stairs. I get into grooves, but then I think that it’s cutting into other time (that I would be doing nothing, so that’s important to remember) or I slack off a couple of days in a row and I’m done. Instead of hopping right into sweats out of work, I could take the time to put on something comfortable to work out in and taking a walk around the neighborhood, using the treadmill, etc. instead. Even just a little bit of exercise is better than none and once I start, I don’t give up early unless I’m not feeling well. Since I shower in the evenings anyway, this won’t affect anything I do. I can still shower all the gross off me and prepare for the next day…two birds, one stone.
  3. Setting aside this amount of time to read is actually really important for the way I sleep. I usually read my books at lunchtime and at bedtime. On the weekends, it’s really only bedtime. If I go to bed late, then I still feel compelled to stay up and read at least a chapter. Sometimes, I can barely keep my eyes open. Other times, when I’m reading something excellent, I don’t want to put the book down and it keeps me up super late. Reading at bedtime is still something I look forward to, so what I should fix is the time I actually decide to go to bed. If I head to bed a bit earlier, I’ll have ample time to read AND I’ll most likely fall asleep earlier than usual.
  4. Writing is one of the hardest things to get myself to do and that really sucks because I LOVE IT. It’s why I’ve always kept a blog, why I love using Project Life scrapbooking, why I journal. I often think in little posts and essay pieces. I think this goes for a lot of writers, but I just think everything I put down is crap. Still, it’s what I want to say. So I should just do it. Even if it doesn’t get posted anywhere today, tomorrow, or ever or it’s just something I can look back on in the future, it feels better to get the words off my chest. This comes to mind.
  5. The great thing about streaming Netflix is that it just keeps going and going and going, only occasionally asking if you’re still watching (the answer is always yes). Popping that on is the easiest thing you do all day (deciding what to watch can sometimes be the hardest). I often put on shows I’ve seen a billion times or that don’t require a lot of attention to enjoy. Instead of settling in with a show, my Slanket, and my phone, I could leave the phone upstairs and set up my loom for some mindless weaving, play with embroidery floss to make friendship bracelets that I will never wear but love making, paint my nails (an art of completely lost touch with), or play with watercolors. I can multi-task these things if I just let myself.


My “To-Fix” list is super long. One step at a time, I suppose. I’d love to know, how do you get stuff done? Do you struggle with motivation? What helps?

I hope my mom’s “To-Fix” list suggestion can help pinpoint whatever is holding you back!

Sunday, February 8, 2015

JumpStart – Read a Book

JUMPSTART is a feature on Wings on the Way about rediscovering inspiration when it comes to things you might have stopped doing, never did, or have felt obligated to do. It’s all about putting fun back into things that should be fun!
These are my recommendations for falling into good habits and new hobbies.


I can’t stress enough just how much I love reading. I mean, it’s kinda my job to share books with people. Working at a library has only reminded me of my love for the written word. When I was much younger, I was a voracious reader and, because of that, I wanted to be an author. You couldn’t find me without my current read, a notebook, and a small box of Bic Cristal pens (BLACK INK ONLY). As I hit my teen years, I strayed from both books and my first ever dream job. I would read occasionally (I anticipated the yearly release of Gossip Girl and fell in deep and everlasting love with the Jessica Darling books during this time period), but not as much as I once had or eventually would again. It’s normal to stop and start some passions in life, but I really believe in the importance of reading.

I have a lot of friends and acquaintances in my life who say they want to read but don’t have time. At first, I understood. But then I noticed something. Those same people (and there’s nothing wrong with this and I love you, but still) were caught up with their favorite TV shows or binge watching new ones on Netflix and generally having plenty of free time for other things. So, now, when someone tells me they don’t have the time to read, I secretly roll my eyes inside of my brain. If you want to do something, you make the time. It’s okay if you don’t want to read…no one is making you do anything you don’t want to do. Why do people feel the need to make excuses by saying they don’t have time? We always find time for things we love and if we don’t, that’s a whole other problem that needs to be fixed. Of course, I’m not telling you to stop socializing or watching TV or movies or ignore your friends and family just to read, but trust me…you can find the time to read. You might even be glad you did. Here are my tips for falling in love with books!

1. Go to the library.
When I was younger my mom would take me and my sister to the public library and we would read Dr. Seuss and pick out books to take home. That’s how I killed time as a kid in the 90s. Anyway, when I started to fall in love with books again, I found that buying books was getting pricey. I still love building my own collection, but if you haven’t been to the library in a while I promise you will be glad you did. It’s quiet, a nice respite from the craziness of the world. You’ll also have access to so many books, new and old, and FOR FREE. There’s no pressure or guilt if you don’t read the book you take out, as long as you don’t let a fine rack up. You can always renew the book if you need more time. Libraries really want to make you happy, so they will find ways to get the books you request in a variety of ways such as requesting outside of the county or state at no extra charge. Another incentive for those still wary of reading: Libraries have movies. You can rent a movie FOR FREE for an entire week. Also, they don’t just have the latest movies. If there’s a movie you missed and it’s not in Redbox or on Netflix, there’s a very good chance you’ll find it at the library. It reminds me of the wonders of Blockbuster. You’re not stuck with a small selection. Can you tell I both work at and love the library? So if you go to find a movie, take home a book with you too!

2. What Do You Love?
For any TV show, movie, music, or hobby you love, there is absolutely a book about it. Sure, if you love knitting or baseball or politics you can find a non-fiction book about it, something to teach you. But there are also fictional stories about these things. There are books about everything, made-up or real. That means there’s a book out there that you will really enjoy reading, you just have to look for it.

3. Embrace the Hype
I read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl in 2012 when the book was first released. The book wasn’t yet a movie so, as an avid Entertainment Weekly reader, I was persuaded to pick it up by the excellent review. I never read mystery/thriller/crime novels, and I figured it was the best way to experiment. Since then, pretty much everyone I know has read the book, especially in preparation of the movie. Hype is a tough call; your expectations can get super high and you get let down. However, hype happens for a reason. It’s often well-deserved. Check out books that have hit the bestseller lists, won awards, or that most people you know have picked up.

4. Set the Time Aside to Unplug
I, of all people, know how hard it is to get stuck in a social media wormhole. I am often disgusted with how much time I spend on my phone doing extremely pointless things. I won’t stop, because I enjoy playing silly games and refreshing my Instagram feed. Still, I often feel like I wasted a lot of time for nothing. When I’m reading a book, especially something I’m really into, I look forward to time spent where the TV is off, the phone is put away, and I can just read. I get most of my reading done at bedtime, which I feel is the case for most people. Sometimes, it keeps me up way later than I intend. But if you love something, maybe it’ll help you get into bed earlier and benefit you in a completely different way!

5. Take Yourself Out
I’m sure it frightened me at the beginning, but I look forward to going out for lunch by myself. It’s always the case when I’m at work, because I get an hour and that’s a good chunk of time to grab food at a nice cafĂ© (or Wendy’s more often than not) and sit down with my latest read. If you’re nervous about eating on your own, books make the best dates. If you’re reading, you won’t focus on the fact that you’re alone which seriously isn’t as scary as you might think. If you haven’t done it, I highly recommend it! Since you’re on your own, there are no distractions, no need to get caught up in silly gossip. Take your sweet time eating and (this step is important) sipping on your coffee while you lose yourself in a book.

So, what do you think? Is reading a habit that anyone can pick up? Do you think these are good tips? What has helped you keep a love of reading in your life, even during the busiest times?

If you need recommendations, I love the website Goodreads (here’s my profile). You can see what your friends are reading, look up recommendations based on books you have enjoyed in the past, and check ratings and reviews to see if that book you’re curious about is worth it!