Tag Archives: organization

What Life Looked Like

Earlier this month, I shared a view of what a typical Saturday of my life looks like these days.  I also want to share what a standard weekday looks for me.  As I’m sure a lot of you are familiar with in your own lives, the adjectives “typical” and “standard” are kind of a joke around here, especially when we’re talking about days I spend at the office.  Every day is a new adventure and while there are certainly elements of my office life that happen daily, most of the individual tasks and to-do’s are constantly changing at a drop of a hat.  I guess what I’m trying to say is this: No two days look the same – which more than likely has a lot to do with why I love my life so much right now.  Here’s an example of one of these lovely work days in June.

My alarm went off at 5:30 AM.  Before bed the previous evening I had left myself a note to encourage my getting up right away, rather than hit snooze.  But then I woke up on my own at 3:30 AM and couldn’t fall back asleep for a bit.  Because of this, I debated staying in bed for another half hour, but I knew I set my alarm early for a reason and committed to starting my day right away.  First thing I did upon getting out of bed was text my friend Courtney who I suspected was already at the studio for news segment on our local Fox affiliate.

One of my favorite parts of summertime is definitely the increase in daylight hours.  By the time I made it out to the back porch, the sun was already on the rise high into the sky. I spent some time responding to emails, filling the buffer and adding task items to my to-do list spreadsheet. 

These days I’m working off a MAJOR Google doc spreadsheet, which I created when I was feeling super overwhelmed and out of sorts. It helps keep me on track with the many, MANY tabs including daily tasks, weekend work to-do, HLB posts out on assignment, issues which demand follow up, and things I’d like to complete by 2013 – just to name a few

I’ve been eating a lot of vegetarian meals these days, including packing vegetarian lunches of awesome to bring to the office.  When the weather is warm, I LOVE throwing together salads at the office.  Here I packed romaine in one container, red peppers and left over pan-grilled tofu in another, and green olives and honey dijion dressing in a small container. I also brought a bag of sunflower seeds to top the salad of wonders.  

Then it’s shower time and getting ready to leave for work.  This day our area happened to be on a high level heat alert warning, so I decided to wear different clothes on my walk to the office than my work clothes just incase I was feeling extra sweaty and gross when I arrived.  [I’m putting true effort into each walk I take to and from work, after all.] I packed my small duffle with my work clothes for the day and made my way to the door.

First I had to say goodbye to this guy, of course.  Benson gets a few treats from me each day I leave for work, and a few treats more from Nick when he leaves, too.  I made sure to turn on all the fans and pull the blinds closed because of the heat warning, and left out 3 extra bowls of water, just in case. 

Then it was time to start my trek to the office. I am so thankful I live so close!  Today I sipped on a Monster Green Tea Rehab – energy drinks, and caffeine in general, are a major vice.  I especially love the noncarbonated tea-based drinks from Monster.  The green and red tea versions are my go-to choices.

My walk to work every morning is one of my most treasured parts of the day. I listen to podcasts [this day it was WTF with Marc Maron’s Molly Shannon episode – highly recommended, especially if you are an fan of all things snl related] every single day, and some times I do some list making, emailing, or tweeting on my phone as I walk.

I walk a little over a mile and half each way, and use the land marks I pass as a sort of check list, monitoring the time.  The house with the epic front yard flower garden brings a smile each morning…

This farm is one of my favorite scenes in my little village, and I often day dream what farm living would be like for myself.  I can picture Julie at a place like this – their vegetable gardens are HUGE and I love to watch the seasons change by paying attention to what is happening with the rows of fruits and vegetables to left of the barn above.

Alas! I have arrived. 

I am the kind of person who loves to arrive early to settle into the day at my own pace. [it’s one of my secrets to great productivity, truly.]  I didn’t want to sacrifice any of my precious getting settled time, so I left the apartment extra early this day in order to arrive with plenty of time to freshen up before work started.

After I made my switch-a-roo into business casual apparel, I head to the kitchen. [One of the coolest parts of my office is our full kitchen complete with dishwasher! I make LOTS of sweet potato fries in the winter time.]  Because we were hosting a meeting, I had some breakfast prep to do before everyone arrived to start.  I made coffee and got to work putting together a breakfast tray for the team.

Still had a good bit of time before my real work hours started so I spent some peaceful moments before 8:00 AM reading.  I’ve mentioned these two books a few times in the past – the goal is to take a few moments before the start of every work day to read from either of these books; Good Morning!, by Brook Noel and Living Juicy from SARK. [you can find both in the THS aStore]  This week, Living Juicy was talking about Traveling. I love how this book, which is a page-a-day book, works through different themes throughout the year.  My favorite days talk about napping. [SARK is big on naps!]

I still have a tiny bit of time before work starts, so I check in on a few blogs I like to read.  Do you read The Wannabe Foodie?  I love Alicia’s attitude – such a sweet girl!

I start most work days the same way: go through emails that have come in overnight and get organized for an efficient day.  This includes sorting through the piles that have accumulated on my desk during the previous work day and writing out my to-do list, highlighting the priorities.  I was slated to present late morning in the sales meeting this day, so I spent some time writing out and reviewing my notes this morning, as well.

Turns out I left my cardigan at home, in the dryer, where I had thrown it for some de-wrinkling. I texted Kristine to see if she had an extra one she could loan me and she offered to take me home to get mine when she arrived at the office. Love being so close for moments like this! Also, so grateful for good friends who are always willing to help!

When Jenn heard we were leaving the office for a few minutes, she offered to buy a round of iced coffee.  WIN!  I ordered a caramel with skim and sipped on it all day long.  Buzzzzzzzzz.

I have a daily meeting at 9:30 with my pals Jenn and Z.  It’s awesome.  I carry three folders and a notebook with me.  One folder is for things for Jenn. Another folder is for things for Z. The last of the trio is what I call the waiting folder; things in progress I hold on to here while waiting for a response or solution to take place.  I clean this out every week, assuring things do get forgotten about and reminding me to follow up! 

During this meeting I realized I made a major mistake and totally forgot to take to make breakfast.  Luckily I had a bag of cheerios to snack on during my meeting. This forgetting breakfast thing never happens – but this day I happened to be running on very little sleep and my hunger didn’t kick in at all until several hours after I woke up. 

On a typical day I make myself either a bowl of yogurt or oats and eat at my desk before work starts, scrolling through HLB Member tweets and favoriting ones I’d like to include in our “Tweets We Loved Last Week” list.  No matter the base of my breakfast, I fill it with various mix ins.  Here’s a few of my favorite combos of late:

  • instant oatmeal with dark chocolate peanut butter, diced apple, and crushed walnuts.
  • Bob’s Red Mill 10 Grain Hot Cereal with half a crushed nature’s valley cinnamon crunchy granola bar, sliced banana, and shredded coconut
  • Lemon Chobani with raw oats, sliced almonds, and berries
  • Blood Orange Chobani with dark chocolate granola, and super dark chocolate chips
  • Key Lime Dannon Oikos with cashews

After my meeting I started to tackle the to-do list tasks. I like to break up the tasks which take a lot of brain power and concentration with little tasks that I can complete in 5-10 minutes.  My job is a mish mash of tasks and each and every day I am lending myself to each of the departments in our division.  I love this part of my job; that I am able to work with every one of my coworkers from time to time, as well as learn about the different processes and elements that go into each one of our projects.

I’m thankful for a job that is filled with challenging tasks which take hours, long term projects that lend to weekly progress, and every day simple to-dos, like opening the mail.  Some days at the office are mega-productive simply because I cross off thirty small things that just need to get done – spending time in the copy room, organizing the storage area, filing documents, these are the kind of tasks I love to do while listening to my IPod in the afternoons, after a particularly difficult morning of number-heavy tasks.

I started to feel a bit hungry and reached for a staple healthy snack I keep at my desk – cups of Musselman’s Applesauce.  My favorite flavors at the moment are the Chunky, Cinnamon, and Healthy Picks Granny Smith – but I tend to rotate the flavors I’m crazy for every few months or so.

I usually have a handful of mini-lists going on at my desk as well.  The H paper includes what I’d consumed so far.  I like to write down what I’m eating each day, since I am in weight-loss mode.  It helps me to feel “on track” and in control of things. Usually by this time of the morning I’ve had eaten about 400 additional calories by now, but when I don’t get enough sleep, my appetite and eating abilities are thrown off whack majorly. 

The other list in this photo is a brain storm list for bloggers to reach out to about various HLB series and themes.  I usually get a lightening strike like idea when doing some small task [this one started when I was filling the copy machine with paper].  I try to jot it down right away so that I don’t forget it. 

Other lists usually taking place on my desk throughout the week – grocery lists, CVS shopping lists, recipe creation ideas, evening or weekend to-do lists, and simple “remember this later” lists, too.

One of my major responsibility tasks I do each month is credit card reconciliation and expense reporting for all of our divisions charges.  I’ve got this down to my own special system now, and though this is a very time consuming process, I’ve grown to enjoy it.  Or at least not hate it Winking smile  It’s a lot of organizing and listing, which as you know, is kind of my thing.

I like to take my hour long lunch break at mid-afternoon.  My favorite time frame is 2:30 – 3:30, because on most days, when it’s time to get back to work I only have an hour and half of work to go before I leave the office.

Along with salad, I devoured two slices of watermelon.  So refreshing. I’ve been on a major watermelon kick the past few weeks.

I like to eat outside on our patio as often as possible, but after snapping these photos I admitted defeat to the hot sun and retired to the break room.  My favorite place to lunch is under the shade of a big tree across the driveway from our building.  Sometimes I bring a blanket and lay underneath it’s shade for a mid-day nap. Twenty minute power naps are another of my swear-by-it productivity secrets. On days when I’m feeling especially overwhelmed or exhausted I curl up on the floor of an empty back office and set the alarm on my blackberry.  Magical snoozing!  

Even though I didn’t get nearly enough sleep the night before, I didn’t feel the need to nap during this lunch break.  Instead I spent about 30 minutes reading Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

I still had about 20 minutes of my break left at this point, so I did some HLB work at my desk.  First, I spent some time scrolling through member tweets and marking as favorite, as I mentioned before.

I also checked in on our Recipe Wednesday post to take a look at all the recipes people had started to leave in the link up.  We host a recipe round up each Wednesday with each week having it’s own theme.  There’s still a few days left to link up your Crock Pot Meals if you’re interested!

Then it’s back to work I go!  Responding to emails, more expense reporting and spreadsheet updating.  While working in the afternoon I listened to a playlist of Dave Matthews Band, Ben Folds, and Counting Crows on shuffle. 

The UPS man on his last visit of the day.  I usually see him at least three times a day, once before 10:00 AM, once before noon, and once again, like here, between 3:30 and 4:00 PM when he comes to pick up our packages.

My UPS man is extra awesome for two reasons.  First, he’s a marathoner so we talk about running just about every day.  Also, because my home and work addresses are on the same UPS route, when I get packages delivered to my apartment, he brings them to me at the office so I don’t have to see that silly little note left on my door asking me to reschedule or pick up my delivery.  So helpful and another reason I’m so thankful to live so close to work! 

Ideally, I’d like to spend the last half hour of every workday organizing and cleaning up the projects that have made the way to being spread out along my super long desk throughout the day. Usually what happens, though, is I realize at 4:57 that the day is almost over and I try to finish up whatever spreadsheet, email, or report I’m working on in a flash. 

This week, however, the new CEO of our company was due to be visiting on Friday, so I had been making the clean up a PRIORITY.  I had way too much going on preparing the visit and our division picnic to slack off on these daily things I should be making time for each day, anyway.

On a typical day, I leave the office between 5:00 and 5:30, and walk home. If it’s on the plan, and the temperature is below 80 degrees, I’ll run now. [Here are some tips for running in the evenings.] On days when mileage is on the plan but it’s above 80 when I leave the office, I’ll wait to run until sunset, when the temperature has dropped a bit.

Some days I do get a ride from Kristine on her way home.  I usually take her up on this offer when it’s raining heavily or if I have a long night of internet work ahead of me and I want to get started as soon as possible.

This, of course, was not a typical day.  We had a work dinner at the Water’s Edge Lighthouse, one of our favorite places to dine for company outings.  Our reservations were for 6:00 PM, but Jennifer, Kristine and I arrived a few minutes early to visit the bar.

My favorite cocktail as of late: Blueberry Vodka + soda + a lemon. Delicious.  Our favorite waitress, Dawn, was on for the night and she came to chat with us and help us decide on some appetizers to have ready for when the rest of the party arrived.

As the rest of our co-workers started to file in, we took a seat at our table and flipped through the menu, discussing what we were thinking for dinner.  Only a few minutes later our appetizers were presented.

We swear by the antipasto salad at the Lighthouse.  I took a few olives, mushrooms, some greens and a ball of mozzarella off the plate before passing.  I decided before arriving for dinner that I was going to eat meat-free. 

It’s a weight-loss habit I stick to because it’s not about depriving – instead of swearing off ALL meals out, instead I tell myself I will eat a veggie-rific meal.  It’s almost ALWAYS delicious and I never feel like I’ve slighted myself by skipping out on the experience of eating out with friends.  

I also enjoyed two pieces of bruschetta.  The balsamic drizzle is divine.  This is one of my favorite starters and we order it just about every time we visit.

In case you didn’t know, I’m the Queen of the sandwich. I’d much rather have ANY meal on bread. When we eat a big holiday meal at my parents house, who ever sets the table places a loaf of bread on my plate, knowing I will put a mash of whatever we are eating as a meal in between two pieces before starting to eat.

Dawn looked at me crazily when I ordered a sandwich off the casual fare/lunch menu for my dinner meal – but it was calling my name from the get go!  I ordered the Mediterranean Grill sandwich which had marinated eggplant, red peppers, sautéed spinach, and fresh mozzarella on a grilled multigrain bread.

I stuck to my “make one healthy decision” attitude, and subbed steamed broccoli and cauliflower for the fries. I ate ALL of the veggies in record time, and then felt a bit full.  I ate a piece of the eggplant that had fallen out, but asked to have my full sandwich wrapped. I wasn’t hungry at the time, but I knew that later in the evening I was going to want to eat some of it.

We ordered sampler platters for dessert and I took a slice of the red velvet cake after Dawn confirmed cream cheese icing was involved.  I took one bite of it before deciding it wasn’t really that great, and decided to sip on some red wine for dessert instead. [Silver Palm Cab. It’s the wine we often order a bottle or two of when several of us want red with dinner.] 

I love going out on work dinners because it gives us a chance to enjoy each others company in a relaxed setting.  We talked for a while at the table about all sorts of things. At one point, our division manager gave me a pop quiz on Presidential fun facts. I won.

A few people decided to stay at the bar for another drink as the party split up. Jennifer and I opted for water, but joined in for the company.

Waters Edge Lighthouse on Urbanspoon


When I got back to the house, I found Nick and Benson chilling on the back porch. And by chilling, I mean literally trying to cool down.  It was easily over 100 degrees in our AC-free apartment.  I grabbed my netbook and joined them, responding to emails and trying to catch up on some blog work.

It’s a rare day that I don’t spend at least three full hours online after returning from my day at the office. This day in particular I was feeling especially anxious about the fact that I didn’t have the time on hand that I wanted to spend doing more HLB and HLS work.  In an effort to cool down physically and stress-wise, Nick and I split a Michelob ULTRA Light Cider as I tried to write out a list of what needed to be done first priority the next day.

As expected, I got hungry again and split my sandwich with Nick before heading inside to get ready for bed.


Goodnight, sweet world.

Creative Card Inspiration Ring

When I decided last April that I was going to finish 28 projects during my 28th year, I didn’t have any one project in mind.  After cleaning out and reorganizing my craft/storage room a handful of times in the past 10 months, a few solid ideas started to form.


One Saturday this past fall, I spent several early morning hours sorting through each and every box, shelf, bag, pile, nook and cranny in the small space.  I made new piles, refilled boxes in a more organized manner, and took the time I felt I needed to prepare for some creativity to flow through my life more freely. [says Hippie Heather.]


In all my sorting and devising, I dedicated two large boxes for projects I declared needing to be finished. In some instances, this meant a scarf I’d started knitting in 2010 or an unfinished wreath I’d once dreamed up.  I deemed these “growing projects,” creative ideas that were born but haven’t reached their full potential.  Other “growing projects”  included a material I once purchased to do something with one way or another, or a stack of photos I’d like to display in some fresh way.


A stack of handmade greeting cards I’d collected over time was one such growing project.  My mother and her best friend, Miss Judi, are hand-stamping, paper-crafting ALL STARS and have sent their beautiful creations to me for every holiday, celebration, and even just-because for years.  In recent years I’ve added cards made by Danielle, Julie, and Laura to my stack.

Of course, part of the reason I keep all these cards around is for the sentimental value.  I’ve left the greeting half of many of the cards, especially the ones with hand-written notes.  But the other reason I was holding on to all these pieces of paper is that I love looking through them for lay-out and technique inspiration as I am designing my own handmade cards.


I was considering making a scrapbook filled with the cards, as a paper crafting reference, but as I added other materials to the boxes of “growing projects” I came across a package of large binding rings.  I simply punched a whole in the corner of each card with a single whole punch, and added them to one ring.  I’m adding a hook to a shelf in my craft space to hang the ring-o-cards for easy access to inspiration when I get my card-making on.


Sorting for Control

It was a Saturday morning and I found myself rolling out of bed just before 7:00 AM.  I brewed some tea and brought my favorite mug into the living room.  I turned on TCM as I stepped down into my craft room.  This just in: my craft room is a glorified storage room.  It is full of gift wrapping supplies, craft materials, and just-started projects.

I knew what was ahead of me, and part of me wanted to run from the project I saw in my near future.  Lately I’ve been thinking of my 28th Year Goals, and specifically my desire to finish 28 projects, as I’ve yet to complete even one. 

I’ve also had a strong desire to share items that I don’t have a specific use for but another person might.  Even more so, to put to use what does have a purpose. I listened to an old Gretchen Rubin podcast discussing the “Spend Out” principle.  I have been thinking a lot about what I “save” for special occasions and how I need to allow myself to make every day a special occasion, allowing the usage of these “special” items I’ve saved.  It’s the idea of the ‘61 Cheval Blanc in Sideways

I brought out a few boxes of materials and got to sorting.  A few minutes later, I returned to the craft room to grab two more boxes.  A couple of hours later, my living room had made it’s transformation into hottmessland, and development was a continued motion throughout the morning. 

Mr. Smith goes to Washington rolling in the background, and piles being built around me, I was getting this mess under control.  My 28-projects-to-complete goal was under control as well, as I was keeping a list as I came across various projects I wanted to finish.  I compartmentalized every item I uncovered.  I was in control of where to put each piece.  Did I want to keep it? Would I use it?  Would someone else use it better?

A pile for my friend Molly, and a pile for my memory box.  A grouping of items to donate, things to bring into the kitchen, to my office, and to the shop.  A box of note cards, of post its, of stickers, and beads. Sorting my greeting cards by occasion and re-spooling all of the ribbon, securing it with a straight pin to avoid future entanglement. 


My local friends think of me as someone who likes a plan and thrives on organization.  This explains why, when Molly walked into my apartment that Saturday evening, her first words were – “Ummm…Heather?  Are you okay?”

It was then that I recognized my behavior as something I’d seen before.


Am I the only one that has to physically participate in a sort of massive organization when feeling like life is out of my own control? 

When a situation isn’t going the way I would prefer it, when I can’t produce the answers someone is looking for, when I don’t have the power to control someone else’s actions in a situation – I lose my mind.  I cope by finding control where I can.  In this case, it was my craft room and the list of projects I wanted to complete.

Is this a healthy way to deal?  Perhaps.  Is it the “healthiest” way I should be reacting- or rather, how better could I handle myself when find myself in these situations?

The first step may be realizing that I don’t need to be, nor can I be, in control of every situation.  I shouldn’t want to be in control, either.  This all stems from some sort of insecurity I am facing; needing to please others, not trusting other people and their abilities, or a fear of getting hurt or upset may the culprits. 

found here, from here

I need to remember that I am not the only person in the world, and that I am not the most important person in the room. 
I need to remember that things don’t need to go my way, and that I am able to handle any situation with gentleness and kindness. 
I need to remember not to worry about what is coming my way, because worrying doesn’t produce anything positive.
I need to remember to relax and allow myself to be present, to enjoy the moment, and not feel like I need to being doing something at every single moment, of every single day.