Category Archives: Creative Productivity

How to be Productive

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I’m going to share a secret about one of the most productive ways you can get the latest news and information: listen to audiocasts. Why? Because you can do other tasks while listening, you can access the content easily if you have a smartphone, and it prevents you from reading from a screen.
Continue reading How to be Productive

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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15 ideas for a rainy day

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It’s a rainy day (welcome to spring), and you aren’t quite sure what to do with yourself or (if you have them) with your kids. Here are 15 ideas for a rainy day.

Ideas for a rainy day: Get creative

Turn off the TV. Some folks turn to the TV when they are faced with a “stay inside” kind of day. My advice? Give up the TV – even if it’s just for that afternoon.

tv-free-diagram

Learn a new song. If you play an instrument, take the time to perfect a song. If you don’t play, learn the lyrics of a new song or even try a new dance. If anything, turn on Pandora in the background – music can bring more joy to the most mundane activity.

Try a new craft. That can be something as simple as coloring (for adults and kids), or as complex as a new sewing project. A quick trip to the craft store presents endless possibilities.

Coloring to relax and be more mindful

Forage for usable trash. Not interested in leaving the house? Never fear! Forage through your house for usable trash. Kids love this activity. You will be amazed at the games that come from a few toilet paper rolls, a box, some string, an egg carton, and a pile dried elbow macaroni. As an adult, try covering an old shoe box with fabric or leather to create an expensive-looking container. Or, create a mosaic from broken dishes, shells, or tile.

Ideas for a rainy day: Be productive

Eat that frog. In my post to help you stop procrastinating, I talk about “eating the frog.” What does that mean? Tackle your “frogs,” those ugly items that haunt your to-do list, first thing. 1 How can you tell a task is a frog? Maybe the task that has been sitting in your queue for over a week, or you have danced around this task by completing related tasks.

Procrastinating_Edited

Grocery shop on the budget. Take the afternoon to buy affordable groceries. And, if you follow my tips, you’ll also be buying healthful food. It might not be the most glamorous activity, but it will set you up for success throughout the week.

Grocery Shopping Budget Healthy

Do some spring cleaning. This might be the perfect time to clear out and clean up that fridge, the pantry, or the closet. Just a reminder to use green household cleaners for your health and your wallet!

GreenCleaners

Focus on Joy. Lift your spirits by practicing gratitude, brightening your thoughts, and observing the world around you. Check out my post on how to bring more joy to your day.

More_Joy_Title

Ideas for a rainy day: Enjoy relaxation

Journal. Taking the time to jot down your thoughts in a journal can be (in my experience) the key to creative productivity. For me, the act of taking a pencil to a blank page opens up endless possibilities in my mind. Sometimes when I journal, I write about my day. Sometimes, I compose my to-do list. Sometimes, I sketch a drawing. A journal is a judgement-free zone.

Key_Creative_Productivity

Practice Yoga. A rainy day doesn’t mean you can’t be active! Yoga can be a relaxing exercise that not only helps you physically, but also can give you emotional space. Here’s what happened to be when I practiced yoga every day for two weeks . And, yes, you can do this with kids – try the kid’s yoga deck to start.

7 Changes I Felt After I Practiced Yoga Every Day for Two Weeks

Sharpen the saw. What do I mean? Sharpening the saw means taking a little break and reserving some quality time for oneself. According to Stephen Covey in his book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, sharpening the saw is “preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have – you.”

Take a Break_Sharpen the Saw_Image

Read. What a luxury it can be to pick up a book and read quietly. If you have kids, this is a great time to choose a classic story and act out the voices the characters as you read. If you are by yourself, this might be a good opportunity to develop your knowledge of holistic health and wellness. Snuggle up in your favorite chair with a cup of tea and enjoy!

Ideas for a rainy day: Focus on health and wellness

Cook a bunch of healthy food. I tend to make meals “in bulk” once every 6-8 weeks. These meals sit in serving-size portions in my freezer, ready to be warmed up for a quick lunch at work or a simple dinner at home. Here’s how to get started cooking in bulk.

CookInBulk

Enjoy spring veggies. What an amazing time to enjoy butter lettuce, tender asparagus, spicy radishes, and sweet young carrots. Here are some ways to prepare spring veggies.

SpringVeggies

Practice Gratitude. It’s amazing how good you can feel if you let yourself look out the window, daydream a little, and feel thankful for your life. Take a minute to observe those little things. Then, write a thank you note to someone in your life for whom you feel thankful. You can get the kids involved here too!

Thank you note

Well, there you have it! 15 ideas for a rainy day. If you still need ideas, check out my post on what to do when you are board

What do you like to do on a rainy day?

Let me know in the comments!

15 ideas for a rainy day diagram list

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

32 Pantry Essentials to Help you Cook more at Home

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We’ve all been there. You come home after a long day and the last thing you want to do it cook. So, you begin thumbing through the same-old takeout menus for dinner.

What if that could be different? Instead, you start a pot of water boiling on the stove. You mosy over to the pantry for some essentials: onion, garlic, canned tomato, and whole grain pasta. While the water comes to a boil, you sauté chopped onion and minced garlic, then pour in canned tomatoes. You add whole grain pasta to the pot of boiling water. Voila! You have a homemade dinner filled with veggies and whole grains that you cooked from pantry essentials in 25 minutes (about the same amount of time it would have taken to order and pick up dinner).

Cooking at home can be:
1. Healthier (you have control over your ingredients)
2. Less expensive (many meals you can do in less than $4 a serving)
3. Faster (yes, faster!) than takeout

Don’t we all want to cook more at home? Cooking at home is so much easier (and do-able!) if you have some of these basic ingredients in your kitchen. Even if you are behind on grocery shopping, having a well-stocked pantry can save the day. Here are 32 pantry essentials I keep on hand for those nights when I haven’t had time to go to the grocery store.

Pantry essentials examples
(here are some ideas from my kitchen…I think some of these items are pretty to keep out of the pantry)

32 Pantry Essentials to Cook more at Home

Spices and Herbs (if you don’t have fresh herbs)
1. oregano
2. cinnamon
3. rosemary
4. thyme
5. cumin

Legumes – I choose low-sodium canned or dried
6. lentils
7. black beans
8. garbanzo beans
9. pinto beans

Oil and Vinegar
10. olive oil
11. canola oil
12. sesame oil
13. balsamic vinegar
14. apple cider vinegar

Condiments
15. mustard
16. reduced-sodium soy sauce

Grains
17. whole wheat flour
18. brown rice
19. quinoa
20. popcorn kernels
21. oatmeal
22. whole grain pasta

Nuts and Seeds
23. walnuts
24. almonds
25. pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
26. flax seeds

Fruits and Vegetables
27. raisins
28. pineapple (canned, in own juice)
29. tomato (canned, low sodium)
30. onion
31. garlic
32. ginger

BONUS! I also keep a number of fruits and veggies (and mixes) ready to go in my freezer. This way, I am getting a good serving of fruits and veggies available to me at all times. Here’s what I like to keep

Greens. I add frozen spinach or kale as a side for any meal. And, I also incorporate into sauces and soups.
Bell peppers. These get added to eggs, rice and beans, or chili.
Asian veggies. There are many mixes out there. I personally love the mixes that have broccoli, snow peas, water chestnuts, mushrooms, carrots, and red bell peppers. Stir frying with fresh onion, garlic, and ginger is delicious with brown rice.
Frozen strawberries. These tart and sweet fruits blend well into a smoothie with plain low-fat yogurt and orange juice. They are also a great topping to french toast or pancakes.
Mixed berries. I love frozen mixed berries in my oatmeal, in a smoothie, or warmed as a dessert.

What pantry essentials do you keep stocked in your kitchen? Let me know in the comments!

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

A Dozen Office Gifts for Less than $10

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It’s the holiday season – and that means gifts… to friends, to family, to co-workers, and to bosses. Personal gifts makes sense for friends and family, but what can you give folks at the office (while also not breaking the bank)? Here are a dozen office gifts for less than $10 each that may inspire your gift giving.

Continue reading A Dozen Office Gifts for Less than $10

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

Why should you be excited about the end of daylight savings time?

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When is daylight savings time?

This weekend, on Sunday, November 6, daylight savings time will end. We will “fall back” and turn back the clocks an hour. This means that we will gain an extra hour of time this weekend! How will you take advantage of the time? Consider a commitment to waking up an hour earlier. This way, you can get into the habit of having more time in the morning.

Why is the end of daylight savings time the perfect opportunity to wake up early?

For starters, your body will be ready anyway. If you normally (this week) wake up at 6:30 AM, after this weekend, your body’s 6:30 AM will be the clock’s 5:30 AM. So, waking up early will feel like a regular morning. And, this also means that you won’t mess with your circadian rhythm.

The key will be to go to bed early. Most adults need 7-9 hours of sleep each night. So, try getting to bed between 8:30 PM and 10:30 PM if you plan to wake up at 5:30 AM.

Another bonus? The sun will rise earlier. If this sun rises normally at 7:00 AM this week, it will rise next week when the clock reads 6:00 AM. It will feel easier to wake up when the light outside is brighter for now – but as the days get shorter, you may want to consider using a natural spectrum lamp.

Why would you want to wake up early in the first place?

Here are 9 reasons for waking up early. If you wake up early, you have more time to:

Work out. Exercising first thing in the morning means that you don’t have to worry about getting to it for the rest of the day. And, early morning exercise gets your blood flowing to your body and to your brain – waking you up and making you feel energized.

Read. One way to be more productive is to read about productivity. Giving yourself more time to read content that will give you ideas on productivity will set you up for success. One book I reference frequently? Getting Things Done by David Allen.
Eat breakfast. Why do people say that breakfast the most important meal of the day? A healthful breakfast gives you the nutrient-rich energy you need to be productive. What’s more, people who eat a healthful breakfast weigh less than folks who skip it. Not a big pancake eater? There are so many alternative breakfast ideas. What’s not to like about good mornings with a healthy breakfast?

Meditate. Training your brain to be more resilient and calm means you will feel less stress throughout the day. I currently use the app Headspace, and in the past (when I was working to meditate for just five minutes a day), I used the Insight Timer app.

Eat the frog. In his book Eat that Frog, Brian Tracy recommends that productive people tackle the most important and the most difficult thing first thing in the morning. How great would it be if you had accomplished the most challenging item on your to do list before everyone else wakes up?

Pack a healthy lunch. Bringing lunch from home means you can have better access to healthy food throughout the day. Make sure to pack healthy snacks too.

Journal. Instead of traditional journaling, I write morning pages. Julia Cameron, in her book The Artist’s Way, recommends writing three pages of your stream of consciousness right after you wake up to spark creative thoughts. Unlike a traditional journal entry, morning pages don’t have structure; they simply exist to get your thoughts on paper.

Clean. As Gretchen Rubin says “outer order contributes to inner calm.” Take the extra time to tidy up your living space. And, don’t forget the economical green cleaners that can lend a hand!

Relax and reflect before the day begins. Enough said! Wouldn’t it be great to just have time to get yourself organized before the morning rush begins?

How will you spend the extra hour as daylight savings time comes to a close?

daylight-savings-time

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

Why you should give up the TV (even for a weekend)

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A few weeks ago, my spouse and I decided to give up the TV with a 100% TV-free weekend. No shows to watch during Friday dinner, no late night Netflix on the IPad, and no TV breaks on the couch with a snack. And, it was harder than you might think! We didn’t realize how much time we spent being zombies in front of the TV. According to the American Time Use Survey, the average American spends 2.78 hours in front of the TV each day – that’s almost 6 hours in just one weekend!

Continue reading Why you should give up the TV (even for a weekend)

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

10 Tips for Successful Mornings

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A productive morning begins with a purposeful evening. When I take the time to gear up for the morning, this helps me wind down for the night. Here are 10 evening tips you can use for successful morning – each take less than 15 minutes to do! You can even incorporate these tips into your evening routine.

Continue reading 10 Tips for Successful Mornings

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
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The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

Simple Tips for Weekday Lunch Preparation

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This week, I wanted to give you a little glimpse into my weekday lunch preparation. Hopefully some of the creative shortcuts can be helpful for you – and this post will show you how to make weekday lunch preparation easy.

Continue reading Simple Tips for Weekday Lunch Preparation

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

Want a good morning? Try an evening routine

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Everyone wants a good morning – one that is productive, purposeful, and healthy. Why? Because it sets you up for a successful day. A day where you can be your best self. Most important to a good morning, in addition to a solid compass routine, is a tried-and-true evening routine. Here are five steps to get you on the right track:

Evening Routine, Step 1: Set a bedtime.

Mornings are best when you feel rested. Arianna Huffinton tells us in her book Thrive that sleep boosts “our creativity, ingenuity, confidence, leadership, and decision making.” This means we must get good sleep before a good morning. First, set a bedtime that allows you to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep.

Evening Routine, Step 2: Reflect on the day

Reflection can be a great way to close the book on your day, so that you can begin a successful night. One way to do it? Practice gratitude. One way to start is with a gratitude jar. You can set out colorful markers, a stack of small papers, and an empty jar on a shelf. Each night, spend 5 minutes writing down three things for which you are grateful. Thinking of happy memories from the day can help you go to bed more relaxed and in a good mood.

Evening Routine, Step 3: Turn Down the Lights

I know this seems simple, but turning down the lights tells your body to start getting ready for sleep. This also means turning off screens. A blog from Harvard Health Letter says that the blue light from various screens can mess with our sleep cycle. Instead of ending the day in front of a screen, turn down the lights, and try writing in a journal or reading a book.

Evening Routine, Step 4: Find a ritual that is relaxing

Winding down from a busy day can be tough. So, find a ritual that puts you in a relaxed mood, ready to sleep. Enjoy something as simple as bedtime tea before bed for relaxation and gentle hydration. It smells great, and includes herbs that might help you fall asleep. Or, you can practice yoga. My favorite option is downloading Episode 76 from the 20 Minute Yoga Sessions Podcast: Yoga for a Good Night’s Sleep. If these don’t appeal to you, draw a warm bath and take 10-15 minutes to relax in it. You can add essential oils like lavender or muscle-soothing epsom salts for even greater relaxation.

Evening Routine, Step 5: Get some much needed rest

The average American adult (according to a Gallup Poll) gets 6.8 hours of sleep . In contrast, the National Institutes of Health recommend that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. So, how do we close the gap? Check out my post on sleep to get started. And, if you still don’t feel like you feel rested, see my 12 tips .

What is your evening routine? Let us know in the comments!

Evening Routine Diagram Steps

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!

How to Slow Down your Morning

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I talk a lot on this blog about productive mornings. This week, I tried something a little different, and I found that my productivity was great, and that my mind was relaxed, clear and ready for the day: I enjoyed a slower morning! Slowing down my morning (while still waking up early) gave me peace of mind before a busy day. Here’s how to slow down your morning:

First, I practiced my compass routine the Sunday night before.

So, the house was clean and food was prepped for the week.

When you follow a consistent weekly routine, it gives you more freedom to do what you want in the mornings.

Then, I began my morning at the usual time

…which is between 5:00 and 5:30 AM. I find it incredibly important to stay consistent with my bed time and the time I wake up.

Don’t shortchange your sleep to wake up early. According to the National Institutes of Health, adults need 7-8 hours of sleep each night. If you are waking up at 5:00 AM, I recommend going to bed no later than 10 PM for seven hours of sleep. Be realistic with yourself. If you know you need more than seven hours of sleep, make it a priority to go to bed earlier.

Next, I prioritized morning hydration.

I warmed up a cup of ginger tea and a big glass of cold water with lemon. Hydration matters, especially in the morning.

The average adult loses over one pound of water during the night (mostly through our moist breath). Dehydration can make you feel sleepy. Begin rehydrating yourself right away.

I set out the yoga mat in the living room instead of heading off to the gym.

During my yoga session, I watched the sun rise. It was an amazing sight that added such an energetic feeling to the morning.

To get started, try this 20-minute yoga sessions podcast to find a routine that works for you. I recommend episode 84, titled “Good Morning Yoga.”

I enjoyed a healthful breakfast.

A healthful breakfast will give you the nutrient-rich energy you need to be productive. And, people who eat breakfast weigh less than folks who skip it.

Finally, I wrote in my morning pages.

In her book The Artist’s Way, Julia Cameron recommends writing three pages of your stream of consciousness, right after you wake up, to spark creative thoughts. Unlike a journal, morning pages don’t have structure—they simply exist to get your thoughts on paper. After my morning pages, my mind is clear and I feel prepared for the day.

What activities do you enjoy that slow down your morning?

How to slow down your morning

© 2017 Caitlin W Howe, LLC
Manners matter here! Not sure whether your comment is irrelevant, impolite, or disrespectful? Read my commenting rules Commenting Rules

The postings on this site are my own (unless otherwise stated) and don't necessarily represent any other organization's positions, strategies or opinions. Thanks!