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tidying tech: digital spring cleaning

Posted in Living by

Spring is here, finally. In addition to cleaning the house, purging the closet, and other seasonal cleaning, it’s also a good time to do a cleanout of your digital life. It’s easy to let things pile up in your email, on your phone, or in your download folder, which slows down devices and can even affect things like data safety and security. This type of tidying is probably my least favorite thing because I’m notoriously awful at emptying my inbox. While taking breaks from the physical aspects of spring cleaning the apartment, here’s a list of spring cleaning tasks for your digital life as well!

  • Clear tabs in your browser: That’s a live look at what my browsers look like at any given moment, and to be honest, this is a look even after I’d closed out of many. If you’re a culprit of this too, take a second to close anything you opened to read later – I like to use Pocket to save those links – and close out anything past or completed. Take a minute to go through your browser extensions as well. If there are any you aren’t using actively, removing them can speed up your browser and even protect your data (unsupported extensions can be hacked. Keep your information safe by revoking access to unsecured apps.)
  • Clear your saved bookmarks: I can’t be the only person who has managed to import decades worth of bookmarks from computer to computer. Most of the things in my bookmark menu are not only not anything I need to use anymore, but they probably aren’t even live websites anymore. Time to clear it out and make things I actually use regularly more accessible.
  • Hit Inbox Zero: For years, inbox zero has been my white whale. I aspire to it, and I can never quite get there. I use Unroll.me, but even my daily Rollup is a mess (not to mention the thousand or so mailing lists I haven’t rolled up yet.) Merlin Mann first popularized the Inbox Zero practice, and his way of thinking about inbox and email is helping me archive and clear out the junk.

While you’re spring cleaning, think about doing a quarterly review as well!

  • Delete old files from the cloud: Google Drive, Dropbox, pCloud, and other cloud services are great for backing up files, but harder to keep organized. In looking for a copy of my resume to update the other day (holla promotion, not-so-holla hunting down a current resume) I was faced with some that are over ten years old. Time to clean out all the old versions, past cover letters, and archive the college assignments you don’t need anymore.
  • Update your resume and portfolio: After locating your most current resume, take a look at it to make sure your duties are accurate for your current job and make any changes to your portfolio. You never know when you’ll need to brush it off, and there’s nothing worse than needing a presentable resume and having to rush around to update it.
  • Empty your downloads folder and recycle bin: In my job, members often attach files that I have to download for review – and I never remember to clear the folder on my computer. Check through your downloads, properly save and archive those you want to keep, then recycle the rest. Like the recycling bin in your house, clear that out as well.

What steps do you take to clean your home or digital life? Is spring cleaning something you look forward to, or do you dread it every year?

March 21, 2018
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how to use basecamp to organize your blog

Posted in Blogging by

Basecamp is a project management software, and using something like this isn’t just a good way to organize your blog or business. It’s also a good tool to have on your resume – especially if you want to transition to a remote career. Many companies use this to organize projects and tasks within the organization, and you can make it work for your own business as well. Here’s how I’m using it for the Desi Does empire!

basecamp

The first screen displays your “Teams” as well as your “Projects.” I use two different teams – one for Desi Does Pizza ideas, since it’s less structured than my business here. I use the second one to manage communication or plan out any ideas I might have for guest posts or social media help. The “My Stuff” section of Basecamp lets you easily see your outstanding assignments, quick links to your most used parts of Basecamp, tasks that are due, and things you’ve recently worked on.

how to use basecamp to organize your blog

You can sync Google Drive files or even create a doc directly on Basecamp. I love this because I can just note down any post ideas or start to draft a post.

My favorite part is the option to create project templates, so every month I can easily duplicate my content calendar project.

In this project, I have my schedule of what’s getting posted when, and in the Docs & Files section, I upload the related assets to each blog post. I do this in case I’m out and about and want to be able to easily retrieve any photos if I want to put together a quick social media post.

The best part of Basecamp for business, in my opinion, is the To-dos section. In this section, I have a To-Do card for each day that a blog post will be published. On that card, I break down the process: writing a post, editing a post, taking and editing photos, etc. It may seem basic and obvious, but if you like checking things off, it’s a really great feature.

Checking off and seeing what I’ve already done and what’s still coming up makes it super easy to follow a process and not feel overwhelmed. Here’s a deeper look at the card for last week’s Best Self Co. giveaway post (which is still open for another week!)

Basecamp’s flexibility makes it perfect no matter how big your blog or business is. You could even set it up for your daily tasks or freelance writing. It might seem like a lot of setup, but investing time into setting up templates for your routines can be a huge timesaver in the long run. It might even save you from forgetting simple marketing tasks that you should do weekly!

How do you organize your processes? Do you use a project management tool like Basecamp?

August 9, 2017
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using Best Self Journal to reach your goals & giveaway

Posted in Living by
Best Self Co. provided a sample for review and giveaway, but all opinions are my own.

If you’re like me, you have some big goals. Whether it’s running a marathon, going back to school, starting a company, or even starting a blog, it can be really hard and intimidating finding a way to make those dreams a reality. A few months ago, I discovered Best Self. Their planner/journal is created specifically to help users reach their dreams by breaking them down into smaller goals and actionable steps. That way, your big dreams feel more attainable (and you’ll be more likely to work toward them!) I thought I’d give a preview of what my Best Self journal looks like as well as a look at my routine and how I use it.

best self review

The package itself comes with the journal, as well as a pen loop and Wall Roadmap to mount so you can always keep your eyes on the prize. By putting your goals and steps up on your wall, preferably in a place where you see it most often, you’ll stay even more motivated to work hard every day. It’s dry erase, so you can even use it over and over.

Inside the journal, it’s packed with resources and advice on how to create goals. It can be harder than you think if you’ve never really set them before! You’ll learn about the 20-Mile March, and how Best Self’s 13-Week roadmap helps you achieve these goals. They’ll also point you to online resources for even more support, like a Facebook group of other users, and a guide on how to create good goals. In your journal, you’ll establish three main “result goals” which you’ll break down further. Best Self has you note the reasons that achieving these goals will improve your life, and you’ll also sign a commitment to achieve your goals. These are powerful psychological methods to motivate yourself.

The actual daily layouts are built to plan your day in a way that help you learn how to schedule your tasks in ways that work toward your goals. They also include places for morning and evening gratitudes. Practicing gratitude has many scientifically proven benefits, and it will put you in the right mindset to kill your goals. Sometimes it’s harder than others to find things to be grateful for, but if I can find six things every day, so can you. Even if it’s something as simple as the choice to take a shower every day (#RemoteWorkPerks.)

best self journal

Now that I’ve gotten into a routine after about a month of use, I’ve finally settled into a routine that works for me. I spend about thirty minutes a day with my journal. In the morning, I’ll wake up and write down my gratitudes. I’ll also write down my targets for the day. I’ve color coded each of my three result goals, so I try to have one target a day for each goal. At night, I reflect on the day, update my lessons learned and wins, and lay out my planned tasks and activities for the next day. That way, when I wake up, I don’t have to think – I’m already set up for success.

best self daily planner

During the day, I check off my progress, add things to my to-do list, and track my food (since that’s one of my action goals.) Tracking wins is fun too, and sometimes I run out of space. When you really focus on positivity and gratitude, you start to realize how great things are.

Since my goals are all color coded, that’s how I try to break down my day. You’ll see three to four colors (sometimes I’ll track work tasks in a fourth color here) in my daily spreads, and I try to add a reminder of what I’m working hard for in the My Goal section. Plus, one of my favorite parts of the journal are the inspirational quotes throughout. On each page, there’s a bit of inspiration and advice from people who are successful in their own rights. It’s helpful to have reminders on the bad days. Going forward, I’m also going to include a self-care line here. Planning in self-care is a great way to ensure that you’re going to do something for yourself every day.

best self weekly tracker

Best Self Co. was also generous enough to send over a journal for a giveaway, and I’m really excited to share this amazing productivity tool with you! Enter below, and share with us in the comments what your goals for the year are, or how you use your journal or planner.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

August 2, 2017
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how to quickly fill your content calendar and get ahead on blog posts

Posted in Blogging by

fill your blog content calendar

If you’re just starting a blog, it can be intimidating to think of enough topics to regularly post about to keep your visitors engaged. Having a schedule is really important, though – otherwise, your readers won’t know when to keep an eye out for your new posts! There’s an easy way to quickly fill your content calendar. These are the steps I use to write up my blog posts and stay ahead of the game.

Develop a posting schedule: Do you want to write three times a week, or just twice a week? Block out regular days for posts, and you’ll have a feel for exactly how many posts per month you’re looking at.

Make a content calendar so you can visualize your posts: I’m a very visual person, so I have my month calendars in my bullet journal. Since I have two blogs, I color code each of them so I can tell what post is for what website. You can use a digital calendar like iCal or Google if that’s how you prefer to plan. Laying out a month at a time helps me see what’s coming up, what I have time for, and can even help me plan posts far in advance. If you only have one blog, you could color code your themed posts or series if that helps you plot out your posts better.

Do recurring series or themed posts: There are a lot of themed weekly linkups to participate in: I’ve done Music Mondays, Tune Tuesdays, Workout Wednesdays, and Fashion Fridays here on the blog. Sometimes having this kind of theme makes it easier to focus and sit down to write. Right now I’m working on developing series, focusing on remote work as well as blog management. I’ve found that picking a broader topic like that makes it a lot easier to get ahead on my content calendar – in March, I was already planning content into May. (This is also a really great way to keep fresh content coming on your blog if you plan to take some time off.) Plus, using a series allows you to re-use the opening paragraph – this gives the series cohesion, and saves time on writing the post!

Another benefit I’ve found in developing a series is that it’s made it super easy to brainstorm topics and build off each post. For example, this series on blogging stemmed from an idea I had on doing a walkthrough of my blogging bullet journal. I’m still going to do a larger post on that, but breaking them down into individual topics allows for more in-depth information to be shared. Be sure that once you’ve written the new posts, you go through any related posts to drop backlinks in so your readers can easily access related content!

Dedicate a few hours each week to developing future content: There’s always going to be some part of blogging that has to be done every day, like sharing posts on Facebook groups, submitting to StumbleUpon and Pinterest, and responding to comments. (If you aren’t into that, think about hiring a VA to outsource the parts of blogging you find icky!) Getting ahead on writing your posts and shooting photos frees up a lot of your daily time – instead, I like to sit down a few Saturday afternoons per month and churn out posts. (Of course, if you aren’t feeling particularly inspired, this might not work.) I prefer doing this because it lets me tune out any other distractions and really focus on creating great content – once I get in the zone, it’s easy to stay on task!

Write some unscheduled evergreen posts: Life happens, right? One way you can stay on top of your posting schedule is by having evergreen posts you can lean on when you have off weeks (or months.) If you see a blank spot in your calendar that you’re struggling to fill, pop in and post one of your evergreens. Even if it doesn’t exactly fit into a series you might be working on, at least your visitors have new content (and are probably getting the chance to learn more about you!)

Do you plan your blog in advance? What’s your process like for planning your content calendar?

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May 17, 2017
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how to keep your new year’s resolutions going with quarterly reviews

Posted in Living by

quarterly reviewa

How is it already almost April? It feels like yesterday that the year was turning over and we were making the move to Chicago. Around this time of year, I like to check in with myself regarding my yearly goals: am I on track to hit them? Do I need to reevaluate some plans, or has my focus and what I want to accomplish changed? I do this by conducting quarterly reviews every three months!

It can sound like extra work or a report you don’t want to deal with, but it’s important to set aside time to check in with yourself. You’ll be able to see what’s working well and what isn’t – plus, it’s a great opportunity to review great memories over the past three months.

This year I’ve been using a Passion Planner as my monthly agenda – it has built-in reflection tools at the end of the month, so I’ve actually been doing it even more than ever. If reviewing every month feels like too much, quarterly reviews allow for more time between reflections.

Quarterly reviews have two parts: reflection and preparation. This is the process I go through when conducting my quarterly review! Read more…

March 22, 2017
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