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11 Time-Saving Techniques for at Home or On-the-go

6 May

In this day and age, we all want a few shortcuts to make our lives easier – whether it’s chopping all the vegetables for the week on Sunday so we can just toss ingredients together to make healthy meals during the week, or packing our car with our workout gear so we can take that hot yoga class after work. Here are a few tips I use to create more time in my life:

  1. I keep a yoga journal and a One Line a Day journal by my bed with a pen. That way I can always get at LEAST one line written, even if I am feeling uninspired or sick. I know that I can always write at least ONE line. It removes the pressure of having to write more and the feelings of disappointment if I can’t.
  2. I prep my Thermos and tea bag and put it in my work tote the night before. All I have to do is grab my bag and head to the car! I get my hot water at the train station, but you can always set your coffee machine timer to start brewing your coffee or boiling the water in time for you to head out the door.
  3. I keep a change of clothes – a pair of yoga pants and a top – in my car along with my yoga mat.  If I happen to have the time to squeeze in a class, I can!
  4. I schedule a half hour in my afternoon to create and go through my To-Do list for work and for the stuff I have to do at home. I ensure that each task is manageable and if it is a long term goal, I break it down into smaller steps to achieve that goal. Right now, one of my long term goals is to write and illustrate a fairy tale for my daughter. My subtasks or steps include: buy notebook to scrawl out my ideas, search the web for fairy tales to read for inspiration, create the main character, create her best friend, etc. Checking off each step shows me I am coming closer and closer to my final goal.
  5. My best friend, an aspiring chef and food blogger, preps a week’s worth of food on Sundays so she can have healthy meals on the go during the week.  It saves her time and money being able to grab a healthy packed lunch instead of heading to the cafeteria for greasy unidentifiable meat. If a week’s worth of food sounds like a lot, try to make a few snacks for the week instead and build up from there.
  6. As I take the train to and from work, I use one of those hours to just meditate and have some Me Time; then I use the other hour to email myself lists of things I need to get done at home or at work.
  7. I have found that carving out time for myself, actually putting it into my calendar like an appointment ensures I stick to it. Would you blow off a doctor’s appointment that was scheduled? No, so don’t feel like you can or should blow off time for yourself. Carve out time for YOU, whether that is indulging in a bubble bath or just taking a nap.
  8. In my day planner - I use a traditional paper one – I keep track of everything: my work assignments, birthdays, meetings, yoga classes, etc. I find that having everything easily accessible allows me to get a good overview of my day or my week. That allows me to schedule my time appropriately. You can use a pad of paper and a pen or your smartphone, but make sure you carry your list of things to do with you so you can slowly take the steps towards fulfilling all the goals on it.
  9. After each outing with my daughter, I replenish her diaper bag with all the essentials so it is ready to go the next time we go out. I don’t have to run around at the last minute and make sure she has bottles or a change of clothes; I know everything is in there.
  10. Whenever I make homemade pesto, I make extra and freeze the unused portions in an empty ice tray.  I can easily pop one out and use it in soups or for a quick homemade pasta dish.
  11. Whenever I find nice candles, or a cute tea towel, or a good bottle of wine for a decent price, I immediately pick it up. Having these small gifts on hand takes the pressure off going to someone’s house empty-handed whether it’s for a birthday, house-warming or another event.

These are just a few of things that I do!  What time saving techniques do you have?

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Meet the Writer: Akhila Jagdish is a writer and a senior editor at The Crafted Word, an editorial services company. She loves making lists, collecting journals, reading, drinking wine and cooking. She is always looking for a good book, a new pen or a yoga class! 

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Choosing the Right Paper Format to Match Your Style

18 Mar

Notebooks, journals, and loose sheets of paper can be bought blank, lined, dotted or gridded (also known as plain, ruled, dot grid, and squared). Some alternates such as diagonal grids are also available, plus variations within the options previously mentioned (wide-ruled or college-ruled lines, for example), but the main four paper styles/formats are the focus for today.

Choosing the Right Paper Format to Match Your Style: Written by Cole Imperi, posted on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

With multiple formats to choose from, how do you know what you’ll like? Paper format can be strongly reflective of your personality, but the first place to start is to look at the things you most often write. From there, I can better guide you to a potential ‘perfect’ notebook match. 

I Make Lists

If you make lists, technically any type of paper styling will work for you but it depends on how you naturally make those lists to figure out what is best. If you tend to take a simple approach to lists—items listed all in a column that you cross off as you go—then lined is perfect for you. It will help keep your lists orderly.

If you like to (or tend to) doodle in the margins, or add in notes on the side, try blank paper. The big concern folks have with blank paper is that things can look sloppier without lines to guide you. I also think there’s something intimidating about a big blank page if you aren’t used to working with them. If you would describe yourself as creative, blank paper might be your go-to notebook type so you can really have fun with your list-making.

If you need the guidance that lines provide then lined or gridded paper will be your comfort zone. Be aware that it is possible to find some notebooks with lines on one side of the page and nothing on the other; and that might be the perfect compromise.

I Write Notes, Descriptions or Journal Entries

Lined will be your friend here. When you write blocks of text, lines are what help you keep things orderly and more importantly, aid in readability for when you go back to read what you wrote. The difficult part comes in finding the right lines. Meaning, how much spacing they have and how dark the actual line is.

You can find notebooks that have white lines, grey lines and sturdy dark black lines. You can find dotted lines and dashed lines too. If dark lines distract your eye away from what you’re writing, definitely aim for light grey lines or even reversed out white lines on grey paper. And on the flip-side, if you love structure, darker lines are ideal. The type of line you prefer is really just personal preference.

I Do a Lot of Scratch Work

If you keep multiple random pads of paper lying around, trying out just one graph notebook might be best for you going forward. If you find that you make little lists, write a few reminders, do a bit of arithmetic and doodle, you have a creative mind. The grid will help you organize your thoughts better because you will have more of a visual guideline to work with. You might start to notice yourself grouping things on a squared page rather than a blank (doodles in one corner, list in the other, notes and reminders in another, etc.).

I Doodle Constantly

As you can imagine, a blank notebook is the best option for sketching, casual doodling, and other art endeavors. The blank gives you the most space to draw with the least amount of restriction. You might find that lines or grids ‘restrict’ your doodles and drawings so just get rid of them.

I Don’t Know What I Want but I Know I Don’t Like What I Have

Try graph or dot paper. I am suggesting this because so many people never give these types of paper a try. Graph paper is typically associated with math and you can see why; the vertical and horizontal lines offer the maximum amount of ‘restriction’ on the page. But if you are coming from a lined or blank notebook camp, let this be an excuse to try something different.

Dots are great for writing out notes and descriptions because you have enough guidance to keep your text readable and without a slant. It also lets you create lists quickly and you can connect the dots to make actual check boxes. Dots also give you drawing or doodling space too but not as much ‘freedom’ as just a blank page which can scare some folks away.

I Have a Ton of Notebooks and I Use Them All

If you have a stack of notebooks, but none that are ever filled up, you might want to give one solitary dotted notebook a try. That is, if having so many unfinished notebooks bothers you. The reason you may have so many notebooks is because you are a ‘multitasker’ and none of your notebooks is a good ‘fits all’ solution. Dotted notebooks are a really good candidate for being an all-in-one solution.

Finally, no matter what camp you are in, pay attention to what and how you write. And if you’ve been writing with the same sort of notebook or paper type over the years, there might be something better out there for you.

~~~

Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

~~~

Discover Your True Passions by Journaling

25 Feb

It’s a new year and with Spring coming, many of us find ourselves looking to new things and new experiences to fill our days. With so many ‘new’ things to try, it can get a little overwhelming!  Painting, yoga, music, film, reading, journaling … the list goes on and on! So how do you find your passion?  Where do you start?

Hobbies vs. Passions

So what is a passion?  I define a passion as something that drives you; that makes you feel alive and truly happy.  A good friend of mine defined it as the “reason she wakes up in the morning.”  Your passion is dictated by how you personally define it.

What is the difference between a passion, a hobby, and your life’s work?  Some may say not much; I believe that they are distinct yet intertwined.  A hobby is something you like doing, your life’s work is something that you want to be remembered for, a passion is what YOU ARE.  Similar, yet different.

What are you passionate about?  What do you like to do, love to do, WANT to do?  Writing these down can help you find your path.

Grab a Notebook & Start Writing

First, grab a notebook (I personally like the Moleskine Cahier notebooks for this exercise), a pen (my new obsession is the Lamy AL-Star fountain pen), and find a quiet place to sit and reflect.  Write down what makes you Happy, the kind of happy with a capital H!

Do you find that you race home to start writing the second chapter of your novel?  Or that you purposely go out of your way at markets for exotic fruits and spices?   Do you live to read or write?  Does listening to music or creating music make you complete?  Write it all down. Create a list of things that inspire you and don’t edit it.

Visual Aids for Inspiration & Motivation

Take it to the next level with visual aids. Take old magazines and cut out inspiring quotes and images.  Paste them into your passions journal.  As you sift through the images, see what themes emerge – do you have pictures of the Taj Mahal, the Eiffel Tower and the beaches in Bali?  Or do you have pictures of books and letters and art?  Or is your notebook filled with recipes and images of colorful fruits and vegetables?  As you fill up your idea notebook with images, you will see distinct themes percolate to the top.

What if More Than One Passion Presents Itself?

If you find yourself with a multitude of passions emerging, my opinion is to explore them all!  Find a local class at the art center, or a non-credit course at the local university.  Carry your notebook with you to take notes about your experience: Was it what you expected? How would you change it for the better? Whether you are ecstatic, lukewarm, or turned off by a certain experience, write down what you felt and why.

As you explore different paths, remember to take your journal with you and write down everything that strikes you.  This process weeds out what you think you like with what you really love. I used to think I wanted to be a chef, but I realized after much journaling and reflection that while I love to cook, it was a hobby and not a career.  Looking back on my experiences with cooking, it became clear to me.  Writing down your honest experiences helps with that.

Community Conversations

Discovering someone else’s passion is a good way to experience something new and have a guide along the way! Talk to your friends and see what they are interested in. Politely ask if they would take you along to a yoga class with them, show you how to cook a special dish, or attend a local music concert with you.

Recently, I have found the wonders and joy of keeping a visual journal.  It has helped me find my passions and pursue them wholeheartedly.  As I flip through the pages of my journal, I can see the evolution of my thoughts and I see how I found myself in the process.

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Meet the Writer: Akhila Jagdish is a writer and editor in the process of starting her own editorial services company, The Crafted Word. She loves making lists, collecting journals, reading, drinking wine and cooking. 

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Practicing Contemplative Journaling (or How to Write Something Truly Thoughtful)

11 Feb

The Art of Contemplative Journaling (or How to Write Something Truly Thoughtful)

Have you ever wanted to sit down to write something? Not as big as a book or a novel, yet not something smaller like a recap of the day’s events. Instead, something that really interests you as you write it?

Then the concept of Contemplative Journaling will interest you. It’s the practice of writing something more than a standard journal entry, but less than a full story. It’s that lovely “in-between” area; something you can accomplish in just an hour or two and that makes for better reading and better writing.

While many ways to journal this way exist, I’m going to take you through just a few of them.

Contemplative Journaling Method #1 | Expand on Your Lists

If you read my recent post about the best formats for blog posts or journal entries, you should be pretty familiar with list-making. Lists are such fantastic little structures: great for itemizing simple things (like a grocery list) and for keeping track of what’s important (goals for 2013).

Take one of the lists you’ve already written and expand upon each item. Let’s say you decide to revisit your List of Goals for 2010 … even though it’s now three years old. Here are a few angles to create a contemplative journal entry from this.

+  Have you achieved those goals? If you have, talk about how you did it. If there are some you have not achieved, write about why not. Maybe it’s just no longer a priority.

+  Why were those your goals then? This is a great way to write about who you were then and who you are now by exploring what was important to you at the time.

+  Is there an item in that list you haven’t accomplished? Maybe it has been a goal for several years now, but you’ve just not been successful with it. Perhaps it’s time to examine why you keep thinking it’s a priority and how you’ll make it a success the next time you add it to a list.

Contemplative Journaling Method #2 | Process an Experience

While you’re reading this, think about something embarrassing that has happened to you in your life. If nothing comes to mind, think about someone who wronged you, or made you upset. Everyone has had at least one embarrassing or upsetting experience. Contemplative Journaling is a great way to process that experience. If you need to work through the experience and let go of something, this is a great exercise.

First, think of the ‘thing’ you need to let go of. Maybe it was a coworker who made a rude comment, or an inappropriate way you behaved. Objectively describe the event as it happened. Do not include ‘feelings’ in this part: no discussing how you felt or how you think they felt. Just actions.

Second, after detailing the event, move on to write about the ‘feeling’ part of the experience. Where did your feelings come into play and what were they?

Third, write the experience from the viewpoint of any other person involved. If it’s the coworker with the inappropriate comment, write the experience from his/her perspective.

(As this can be an intense exercise for some, if you need a quick break to come back to the project with fresh eyes, this is a perfect spot to pause.)

Fourth, read what you wrote and write about why you’ve held on to this. Why does this experience come up in your mind so readily? Why are you carrying it around? Does it relate to something seemingly unrelated in your past? Explore everything that comes up in your mind and write it down.

Fifth, write a statement of release. Literally write a release for the experience. “ I’ve processed this experience and I was holding on to it because of X. I no longer need to carry it with me.”

You can use this technique for all kinds of things: the loss of a pet, losing a contract on a house you’d been trying to buy, spending too much money over the holidays, canceling a night out with friends because you thought you wanted to stay in. If you have an experience that keeps ‘sticking’ then you should examine it.

Contemplative Journaling Method #3 | Be the Version of Yourself You Want to Be

This tends to be a good exercise at the beginning of a new year. It’s helpful in getting your brain to really connect the dots between where you are today and who you want to be tomorrow. Self improvement! But more fun.

Let’s say you go back to work next week after a few days off. Write about your normal workday if you went in as you are now. Below that, write about your workday, but as the person you’d like to be. Maybe you are trying to have more efficient mornings at work so you aren’t scrambling to leave on time. It might look like this:

“I show up for work 10 minutes late on Monday, set my stuff down and go to the break room for coffee. I see a coworker and we talk for about 10 minutes about the past weekend. I go upstairs, turn on my computer. I talk to my cubemate for a few minutes about the weekend. I check my email, and respond to one or two of them. Then I check Facebook. At about 10 a.m. I start my first task. I break to use the restroom. I come back and finish the task and take a lunch. After lunch, I go to my coworker’s desk to talk for a few minutes. When I get back to my desk, I see someone has left a stack of reports I need to scan, copy and file by the end of the day. I sit down to finish the work I should have completed that morning. It’s 3 p.m. and I go for a break to grab a snack. By the time I get back it’s 3:30 p.m. and I still have to copy all those documents and prepare for tomorrow’s meeting. I don’t leave until just before 7 p.m. when I should have been out the door by 5 p.m.”

The rewrite might be:

“I wake up 15 minutes earlier than normal and sit in bed to read a chapter in a book. This prevents me from hitting the snooze button and gives me a bit of ‘me’ time. I make it to work 5 minutes late. I go and grab coffee and briefly talk to a coworker. I go upstairs, turn on my computer, and make a to-do list for the day, except I divide it into Morning and Afternoon tasks. I complete a small, simple task first; then I check my email and respond to a few. I work on my next task, complete it, and grab another coffee and bathroom break. I come back, finish the last task of the morning, and head to lunch. At lunch, I invite a new coworker out with me. This gets me the socialization I think I need during the day. After lunch, I work on my afternoon tasks. I leave on time.”

It might seem like a mundane thing, but most people really enjoy this. It allows you to look at yourself as you are, and then as you’d like to be. Productivity is a great thing to try first because everyone (generally) could be a bit more productive. Whether it’s at the office, or at home (hello, laundry that never gets put away) there are a ton of scenarios to write about here.

This actually teaches your brain to better recognize those bad habits so you can correct them moving forward.

More advanced prompts for this involve interactions for others: communicating with your spouse, communicating with a child, etc.

Contemplative Journaling is an excellent use of those nice journals, nice pen and your brain. If you want to sit down to really write something then this is the perfect exercise for you.

~~~

Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

~~~

Editor’s Note: This article is part of the How to Write series. Read the others here:

How to Write: Sympathy Notes

How to Write: Ideal Business Correspondence Notes

How to Write: Friendship / Appreciation Notes

How to Write: Thank You Notes

How to Write: With a Fountain Pen

How to Write: To a New Penpal

How to Maintain Your Pen Collection

How to Write: Improving Your Cursive Skills

How to Write: A Letter of Resignation

How to Write: A Letter of Recommendation

How to Write: The Best Formula for a Blog Post People will Actually Read

Perfect Productivity Tools: Rhodia No. 18 Notepad (Multi-tasking Favorite)

8 Feb

Productivity Tools for Everyday Life brought to you by EuropeanPaper.com

Rhodia Top Staplebound No. 18 Notepad (8.25 x 11.75) on EuropeanPaper.com

How to Write: The Best Formula for a Blog Post People will Actually Read

4 Feb

How to Write: The Best Formula for a Blog Post People will Actually Read by Cole Imperi on EuropeanPaper.com/Blog

The average person takes in the equivalent of more than 174 newspapers worth of data each day, and your challenge is getting someone to not only read what you wrote on your blog, but maybe, also, to remember something about it.

Once you understand how much information the average person is bombarded with in a day, you can approach your own blog’s content with wiser eyes.

Do you know what one of the best formats for a blog post is?

A list.

People like lists. They understand them. They’re easy to read and remember.

Why do you think so many lists appear in top-selling magazines? Think about Real Simple for example. The cover generally advertises at least a few articles inside giving you 14 Ways to Clean Your Kitchen, or 48 Ways to Easily De-clutter Your Bedroom, right? The research has already been done on this, so make use of this knowledge and apply it to your blog.

Here’s how:

  1. Write a few words that describe your blog. If you already have a tagline, expand on that. If you haven’t branded yourself quite yet, briefly summarize what you normally blog about. Let’s say you write about your personal life, horses and baking.
  2. Pick one of those subjects and break it out. Take your personal life. What are things you have learned in the last year? What are some mistakes you’ll never make again and why? What have you purchased this year?
  3. Take the items you are most excited about and write the titles. Using the examples in #2 you could have:
    1. “8 Things I learned in 2012”
    2. “4 Mistakes I made as a Young Adult I’ll Never Make Again”
    3. “7 Things I Bought That Made My Life Easier”

Lists are great because once you have the title, they basically write themselves. They are also accessible to more potential readers; you can snag someone with a minuscule amount of time when you present a list. And most of all, lists are easy to share. People would rather share a list of something useful with friends rather than a very long diatribe about the happenings in your life the past week.

Lists help you package a lot of pieces together in a new way, and often, they make blogging more fun, too.

If you happen to be a journaler, packing your entries into list format is not only a good writing exercise—it also helps you gain a new perspective on whatever you may be writing about. Instead of just recording the happenings of last week, what if you called your entry “10 New Things I Discovered Last Week.” Your entry immediately becomes more than just a recall of events, and becomes something richer and deeper. If you are the type that hopes to pass your journals along to your descendants, reading list entries like the example above makes for some interesting reading.

Lists can be so much more than what you need to pick up at the grocery store or things you need to get done this week. Make use of this technique in your blogging (and writing).

~~~

Meet the Writer: Cole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

~~~

Editor’s Note: This article is part of the How to Write series. Read the others here:

How to Write: Sympathy Notes

How to Write: Ideal Business Correspondence Notes

How to Write: Friendship / Appreciation Notes

How to Write: Thank You Notes

How to Write: With a Fountain Pen

How to Write: To a New Penpal

How to Maintain Your Pen Collection

How to Write: Improving Your Cursive Skills

How to Write: A Letter of Resignation

How to Write: A Letter of Recommendation

Pull Out Your Finest Pens, Stationery & More: It’s Letter Writing Month!

1 Feb

February is Letter Writing Month! Accept the Challenge at EuropeanPaper.com

We’re psyched to begin February with news of two fabulous letter writing challenges from around the blogosphere!

  • First up is the Month of Letters Challenge (LetterMo.com) started in 2011 by novelist Mary Kowal
  • FPGeeks also created a “mail a day” challenge called International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo, which is inspired by NaNoWriMo if the acronym doesn’t sound familiar).

Both challenge websites have forums and more information, but the premise is simple: mail one thing per day over the course of the month. (Technically, LetterMo’s challenge is for you to send 23 pieces of mail, one per every day the postal service runs, while InCoWriMo’s challenge is 28 pieces of mail, one per day.) Whether you send a postcard, 5-page handwritten letter, mail art, or package is completely up to you.

Resources:

Have you written a blog post about Letter Writing Month or have another resource for us to list? Add it in the comments below and we’ll add it up here!

A Handful of Tools & Tips To Help You Organize Your Office

26 Jan

Organize Your Office with the best of the best at EuropeanPaper.com

1) Moleskine Folio Professional Filers (Set of 3) (12 x 9.5)
2) Exacompta Exacard Wirebound Business Card Holder (8 x 6)
3) Blackwing Luxury Large Notebook & Folio Cover (7.5 x 10)
4) Exacompta Exaboard (9.25 x 13.25) (Rhodia pad included)
5) 2013 Planner Sale (with savings up to 35% off!)

Tip #1: Label EVERYTHING!

You know that feeling when you first get a label-maker and you just can’t put it down? Revitalize your office and give yourself an energy boost by picking it up again. Go through old folders that can be re-purposed, finally stick a label on that junk-box you threw together on the top shelf, and label the spines or covers of your notebooks for easy reference.

Tip #2: Start Nesting

Sounds odd, right? Nesting is basically the act of purging the things that distract you and clutter your office, while finding homes for the necessary items like your pens and pencils, folders and notebooks, and other office items. Putting things in their rightful place on a daily or weekly basis will keep your office tidy and you’ll finally remember where you put that darn business card of a friend you’ve been meaning to contact.

Tip #3: Add a Pop of Color

Whether it’s a nice, bright file folder, or the funky lamp in the corner of your office, remember to have a couple vivid hues surrounding you to brighten your mood. Try to keep all the colors cohesive though, as we’re not suggesting you work in an office decorated like Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (unless you’re an avid fan). If you work inside the majority of the day, color will remind you to smile from time to time. (And don’t forget to actually pop out for a walk around the block a couple times a day – nothing is better than exercise and a bit of fresh air.)

Have a quick tip for office organization? Add it in the comments below!

7 Ways to Celebrate National Handwriting Day

23 Jan

celebrate national handwriting day with EuropeanPaper.com!

Celebrate handwriting with EuropeanPaper.com on Instagram – follow us @EuroPaper

1) Practice your penmanship. No, seriously. The small things in today’s world have such an increased focus on them, that you’ll appreciate having nice handwriting when the time comes to write a thank you letter, sympathy note, or love letter.

2) Start a new journal if you don’t already have one in rotation. Need inspiration? Check out our blog post: 10 Ideas for a Journaling Jump Start (or just start writing about National Handwriting Day)!

3) If you have more than one notebook you journal in currently, go through each one and write a paragraph about this day/week.

4) Volunteer at your local elementary or middle school and help teach children how to improve their handwriting–and why it’s important! Check out Campaign for Cursive for more information. (h/t Canon-McmillanPatch)

5) Take your time, sit down with your favorite stationery or note card, and write that thank you letter you’ve been avoiding since the holidays. Here’s how: How to Write a Thank You Letter.

6) Did you know National Handwriting Day was created on the birthday of Declaration of Independence signer John Hancock? See his beautiful signature on Wikipedia and see if you can recreate it freehand

7) Never used a fountain pen before? Today’s the day! Learn how to write with a fountain pen!

Need more inspiration? Check out our blogroll for amazing snail mailers, pen & pencil aficionados, and writers galore HERE

And that’s just scratching the surface. What are some of your suggestions for celebrating National Handwriting Day? Leave them in the comments below!

 

The Not-So-Elusive Key to an Organized 2013

21 Jan

This time of year, every venue offers you tips to organize your life, improve your situation, save money, save time, lose weight and be happier. Most advice involves buying more, doing more, or finding time and labor-intensive ways to do more with less. Let me offer another option … LESS.

Period. Own less. Do less. Be responsible for less. Enjoy life more. 

Collectors vs. Hoarders

Organizational fanatics usually collect lots of things, but they keep everything organized, so they fool themselves it’s somehow better than hoarding. I still struggle with organizational delusions. That stopped when I started to notice how much of my life was being absorbed by organizing, maintaining, and handling all my many “things.”

Now, I’m taking action.

Baby Steps

I’m creating a better 2013 for myself by eliminating things. I’ll always write long-hand in addition to my digital creations. I will always swoon at the smell of ink and paper, run my hand over sheaves of nice stationery, and want to take every writing utensil I see for a test drive. I know this about myself, so I’m learning to work with it instead of against it.

Being a writer and a tech geek means I collect more “stuff” than most. Paper, pens, pencils, desk supplies, cords, chargers, accessories and ways to carry, store, and organize it all thrills me! It is my biggest hurdle. Once I started paying attention, I realized I always reach for the rollerball in my purse when jotting notes and I always reach for my special fountain pen when I’m at my desk. All my other handwriting implements remain untouched.

When on the road, I reach for the best no-tangle charge cord for my phone/tablet and the small, most powerful charger block – so why do I sort through the dozen or so that collect in my computer bag and purse? I always grab one tech bag … so why do I own a slew of them? Some girls have shoe collections; mine are books, writing implements and tech gadgets. I own two laptops and a desktop, but always grab the same light-weight ultrabook, even when I’m working at home.

Rather than having a dozen notebooks and journals, I’ve trimmed it back to a small stock of excellent quality composition books and a luxury leather cover to make using these workhorse notebooks a pure visual and tactile delight.

The more things I have, the less I appreciate each individual thing.

Stuff = Time

Stuff requires time: YOUR time. First you must determine what you want, then locate it, make the money to buy it, mentally justify the purchase, deal with the packaging it comes in, find a place to store it, and begin feeling a grain of guilt when it sits there unused. It’s a huge responsibility. Pretty soon, the grains pile up and you find yourself in a buried. 

Purging Toward Freedom

The best part of an elimination purge is tossing projects that have been around, unfinished, for years. I realized the things I wanted to do in my 20s no longer really fit the “me” of today. Give yourself permission to change your mind about projects, hobbies, and pursuits. I don’t feel guilty for old unfinished projects now. I tossed them out. Instant relief.

I’ve discarded books (BOOKS for goodness sake!) in my “to read” pile. If I’ve not read those stacks in the last few years, it’s probably because I really prefer the ones I actually have read. More guilt gone.

Despite my love of the printed word and actual ink on paper, I read ebooks more often, especially those I will only read once. That eliminates physical clutter and I can keep a huge library of books on a variety of topics without dusting, storing, or organizing them. My physical library has been reduced to my leather-bound classics and reference books.

I’ve had art supplies for years that I want to use, but never did because I was busy managing all the other obligations in my life (many of them the result of juggling too much stuff). I’ve sorted and pruned my art implements and now have the time to use them. It’s nice!

Take the plunge!

Life is too short to spend all your time dealing with things that don’t matter, aren’t perfect, or you don’t enjoy. If you decide to take a purging approach to your new year, let me advise you to keep only the best quality of the things you really love. If that means tossing a dozen so-so items and buying one awesome one, do it!

It’s difficult to purge, but you will love the results! I promise. I’m living proof.

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Meet the Writer: Angela Allen has been creating online content for small business clients since 1999, when she had to use a painfully slow dial-up connection. Now, she specializes in real estate topics and organic content marketing for entrepreneurs on a gloriously high-speed connection. When she’s not writing for WickedWriter.com clients, she enjoys the discipline of living small in her high-tech cabin deep in the woods of Kentucky, blogging on WickedBlog, and enjoying the pure tactile titillation of going “old-school” and writing with a fountain pen on luxury paper.

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Link Love: Productivity Tips & Resolutions Help for the New Year

18 Jan

We could all use a bit of a boost this time of the month. Resolutions were made, and perhaps are not as present in your mind as they were right after New Year’s, so take a moment to peruse the links for inspiration, motivation, and a brief moment to relax and read!

Lost Coast Post: How To Complete a 365 Challenge

FastCompany: 11 Productivity Hacks From Super-Productive People

365 Letters: 2013 Letter Writing Topics

Forbes: Ten Resolutions The Most Successful People Make And Then Keep

Plannerisms: Fitting your Goals into your Schedule

Frugal Guidance: Use Evernote to Remember ANYTHING, Frugally

Recording Thoughts: Super Simple GTD Approach For Traveler’s Notebook

Lifehack: 10 Things You Need to Learn to Live a Super Happy Life (h/t Ms.Logica)

Kaizen Journaling: 45 Things You Can Write In Your Journal

A Penchant for Paper: My Productivity System

Perfect Productivity Tools: Rhodia A4 Meeting Book (All-in-one Efficiency)

16 Jan

Productivity Tools for Everyday Life brought to you by EuropeanPaper.com - Rhodia A4 Meeting Notebook

Rhodia Side Spiralbound A4 Meeting Book (9 x 11.75) on EuropeanPaper.com