• fight overwhelm
    Personal Care

    5 Lifestyle Changes to Fight Overwhelm

    I know a thing or two about busy schedules. I currently work full-time, just started this blog, and am in grad school (eek!). Also, I help out my elderly grandmother and have two super fun grandchildren (talk about epic distraction), and four fur babies who need my attention. I am continually fighting overwhelm.

    When you have little time to fit everything in, it’s easy to become stressed about what you have to get done. The to-do list seems never to end, and there’s always something else that you need to do. Often, when you’re pressed for time, you neglect self-care.

    However, self-care is the one thing you should not neglect.

    While it may seem counterintuitive to add more to your already overflowing plate, self-care is vital to your well-being, your ability to work, and to your family. After all, if you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t have the strength, love, and energy to take care of anything else.

    If you think you don’t have time to add any new habits into your tight schedule, keep reading. These five lifestyle habits won’t take up a lot of your time once you get them down, but they increase your energy and decrease your stress. That means you’ll be able to function at your best for your family and have the energy to work on your blog.

    Fight Overwhelm

    Use these five simple lifestyle changes to fight overwhelm and feel energetic enough to tackle the never-ending to-do list of life.

     

    Create Sacred Space

    Sacred space helps us to connect with our inner selves. It serves to remind us that we are whole and perfect beings and that we are connected to everything. Sacred space doesn’t have to be limited to an actual space – the silence and peace within us is the sacred space. Wherever you can find to be alone with yourself for a few minutes will do the trick. However, creating an actual space can be helpful. I have a little altar in my bedroom that I use. It’s full of items that were given to me or mean something to me. An altar need not be religious either if you aren’t given toward spirituality. It can be as simple as a family picture or a seashell your child gave you, anything that can ground you and remind you why you work so hard.

    Take as little as five minutes every day to close your eyes and just breathe. Or if you prefer to be out in nature, watch nature and focus only on it. Try to avoid thinking at all, especially worrying about what you still have to do or what has gone wrong in your day. Our minds like to take quiet moments to remind us of all the negative and stressful things in our lives, but this is your time, so you have to learn to quiet that voice. It does take some practice. If you find you’re having trouble with focusing on your breath, you can create a little chant to repeat. Anything will work, but be sure to make it a positive one. If it rhymes, you’ll find it’s easier to continue chanting without too much effort. For some reason, rhymes seem to lull our minds into a quiet space.

    fight overwhelm

    Eat Whole Foods

    The importance of nutrition in our health cannot be overstated. Unfortunately, when we have a busy schedule, it’s much easier to eat fast food or grab snacks than to make a healthy meal. In the long run, such choices will cause fatigue and illness though. I’m not a big planner, but one of the few things I plan every week is my meals. I have a whiteboard monthly planner that I use, and I plan a week of dinners at a time. Knowing what we’ll be having for dinner means I’m not as tempted to seek out fast food just because time is limited. It’s honestly not much more time consuming to cook a meal from scratch than to grab fast food. There are tons of quick and healthy recipes out there. I also shop every week and pick up lots of produce and healthy snacks. Whole foods support your body so you can be healthy and vibrant.

    Exercise

    I hate exercise. I love the way I feel when I do it, but exercise is a chore. Sadly, we sit too much in our society, and studies link sitting to a decline in health. I don’t often have time to do a workout (and honestly, I hate them), but moving our body is vital to optimal health and energy. If you can’t negotiate time in your schedule for a full workout, just be sure you’re getting up and moving your body. Take a short walk outside, use the stairs, jog in place while you’re bingeing Netflix or any number of other creative ways to add some movement to your day. At my day job, I have a standing desk, and I recently saw that there are versions (<—not an affiliate link) you can purchase for at home too. This is another way to avoid sitting too much. Exercise helps to increase energy levels, and it helps to decrease stress, which is vital to fighting overwhelm.

    Be Present and Be Thankful

    One of the strategies I use to avoid feeling like there isn’t enough time is to slow down and be more present. Shifting our mindset can make the difference between feeling calm and feeling stressed out. One of the problems with a busy schedule is that it can seem like the to-do list never ends and that there’s never enough time in the day. When we start fixating on how little time we have, it begins to affect all areas of our lives and can make us not only stressed but also pessimistic, depressed, and angry. Conversely, a simple change in the way we think can affect all areas of our lives. When you find yourself stressing about all the things that still have to be done, breathe and take a step back. Instead of focusing on things that haven’t happened yet, remind yourself to be present in whatever you are doing. Then remind yourself of all the things you have to be thankful for.

    Adopting an attitude of thankfulness will spill over into a more positive attitude overall. You’ll soon realize that you have all the time and energy you need to get everything done that is a priority. And if there’s something that never gets priority, then it might be time to evaluate what parts of your to-do list no longer serve you or that you can delegate to someone else. You might have the energy to maintain a busy schedule, but it doesn’t mean you’re superhuman. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    Play

    Adults often think playing is only for kids. If you have young children, it’s easy to get down and play with them because you know playing is important for their growth. However, once the kids get older, I think this is an aspect of life adults tend to believe is no longer important. Or at least we no longer consider it a priority. It’s hard to set aside work to play; we’re adults, we don’t do that sort of thing. But play and laughter are such essential parts of life that I think it’s worth making it a habit to ensure we are getting enough play in our lives, especially when we have a tight schedule to maintain.

    By going and playing–whether you’re getting down and playing with little ones or going and swinging by yourself or any other fun thing you can think of–we recall the wonder of being a child. That wonder is still there in us, and if we let it out, it can help boost our creativity. For bloggers, this is huge. Creativity helps us to write content, create products, and solve problems, things that are all vital to our business. Sometimes we don’t need to work harder; we just need to go outside and play like a kid.

    A healthy body and relaxed mind will help you maintain your busy schedule without feeling overwhelmed. Use these tactics to allow yourself some time to relax, play, and keep yourself well. Give yourself the care you need because you are important!

    Do you have any strategies you use to make your busy life manageable? Tell me about them in the comments!

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  • female guilt
    Growth and Challenges

    Battling The Inner Voice That Is Female Guilt

    Female guilt is real.

    And it’s killing your dreams.

    Writing is hard work. Writing while maintaining a full-time job is even harder. Writing while working full-time and managing a house and making sure you balance time with family is tough. There are days (and months) where I just don’t write because I’m tired or I’ve got so much going on with my family that writing seems like a waste of precious time.

    That is a faulty way of thinking.

    We have to treat our work as a priority if we want anyone else to take us seriously.

    Women Feel Guilty A Lot

    As women, I think we have a harder time with this. We tend to put other people’s needs before our own, especially when we have a family. And that can be valid. Our children or grandchildren have needs that we must attend to. I’m blessed that I get to spend so much time with my adult kids and my grandkids. I often offer to babysit. Then there’s a house to maintain, and my husband is in graduate school and working full-time. His deadlines are non-negotiable.

    Whereas, my deadlines are. Or at least that’s how I frequently feel. I know I’m not alone in feeling that way either. Women, in general, tend to put their needs or wants after other people’s. From the time girls are young, society directs them toward domesticity and motherhood, into caring for others’ needs before their own. (Seriously, go search for gender-neutral colored kitchens and dolls for children. They are almost all made in pink and marketed to girls.)

    If you doubt me, check out the statistics on National Women’s Business Council. In 2012, women owned 64% of all healthcare and social assistance businesses, which are the second-largest fields in which women own businesses. (The number one field was “other services.”) This is compared to the male-dominated STEM fields, which are the largest entrepreneurial fields.

    female guilt priority

    I recently read an article about Letting Go Of Working Mom Guilt, and I have to say that I agree that part of the problem with working mom guilt is that societal expectations are for moms to stay at home with their children, even though that’s not what many moms want or can do. I can also say as a mother of adult children, that this guilt doesn’t end when the kids grow up. Instead, it seems to me women deal with female guilt rather than just mom guilt. As women, we tend to take on more of the housework, and we continue to take on caregiving (by the time the kids get older there’s usually an elderly family member that needs help), and we feel it’s our job as females to ensure everyone’s well-being.

    Except our own of course.

    Make Yourself A Priority

    This female guilt seems to be rooted in insane expectations of perfection and the need to be of service to others. To be honest, I think being of service to others is inherently valuable; it’s vital for our self-worth and fulfillment to help others.

    However, that doesn’t mean being of service to the point of losing ourselves or overwhelming ourselves.

    We need to remember that perfection is a lie, and we can serve others through our work. We may well have family members to take care of, but it’s healthy for us to make time for things that are important to us. Things that fulfill us and make us feel alive. Things that are just ours.

    Ensure that you make your work a priority. Because you realize that you are a priority.

     

    Writing is hard work. It takes a lot of practice, and it can be time-consuming, especially when you’re first starting out. It takes a while to learn how to quickly write a first draft then edit it to a beautiful post. And that’s not taking into account any of the other million things that are involved with having your own business.

     

    female guilt

    You can do it despite the numerous other things on your plate. You can read tips all day long on how to fit your writing business into the small windows of time you have. But none of those suggestions are going to do you any good until you’ve decided to treat your writing business as a priority.

    You must decide that this work you do is valuable. That it fulfills you. That’s it’s important to you.

    That your deadlines are non-negotiable.

    Your Work Is Important

    Your writing is a business, after all, not a hobby. You must act as though someone is already paying you for the work that you do. If you treat your business seriously, then others will follow your lead. They will view your work as important, and most likely, they will support you and encourage you.

    I believe in you. View your work as a priority, and you will be able to find the time to hone your writing skills and to take care of all the other aspects of your business. That’s when you’ll fall in love with what you do. Because it’s something meaningful that you created and nourished.

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  • create value
    Writing

    Create Valuable Content In Every Post

     

    I’m addicted to reading. I read pretty much anything I can see, including the cereal box on the counter or the back of a book that is sitting near me that I’ve read a thousand times.

    I just can’t help myself.

    So, it’s no surprise that I spend way more time than I probably should reading blogs. There’s just so much interesting and useful information out there that I must read!

     

    But even with my slight reading addiction, there are only a handful of blogs that I follow and read everything that blogger writes. What makes those bloggers different?

    They share valuable content.

    Valuable content, of course, is different depending on the audience. I might find self-help blogs and natural living blogs to have value to me because of my interests, while someone else might prefer to read about technology. However, the niche isn’t essential.

    What’s important is that the author is sharing content that offers me useful or insightful information on whatever topic they blog about.

     

    Build A Relationship With Your Audience

    Content writing is all about building relationships with your audience. Your writing or blogging is a business, and all businesses need to make money, so presumably, you have some product or service you want to sell to people. To get people to part with their money, you have to show them how your product will serve them. Show your audience your product is what they need by creating valuable content for them. When your audience feels like you have spoken to them, when they feel like you know the solution to their problem, that’s when they will part with their money or email address.

    To get your audience to the point where they are willing to give you their email or their money, you must solve their problems. In this post, I talk about how to find the questions your audience has.

    Valuable content is what will keep your audience coming back to read more. While the content alone isn’t going to bring people back (there is more to it, such as your voice), it is a pretty critical element. Think about the blogs you read regularly. What keeps you coming back to their blog? Odds are, the content they share has a lot to do with it.

    If you have a question about crocheting, you’re going to look up posts about crocheting. You might search the Internet for your exact problem, or you might pop on a site or two and search your question in their search bar.

    But you’re probably not going to subscribe to a blog that doesn’t answer your question. Or at least not one that doesn’t seem to answer any crocheting questions you might have.

    If you’re like me, you will, however, throw up your email address for the blog that answers your questions thoroughly.

     

    Content is the reason your readers will keep reading.

    Answering one question—and only one—in each post will make your content stand out. Posts that ramble and address too many ideas will have your reader moving on to another blog in short order.

    On the other hand, a post that has a catchy but clear title and a focused point will keep your reader reading until the end.

    Your particular niche, your writing style, your audience, and the idea you’re addressing will all work together to determine how long your post will be. So, don’t worry that all of your posts should be 2000 words. Valuable content isn’t about longer posts; it’s about posts that will help your audience. Some topics may require more research, and therefore, will be longer. Some topics will be relatively easy or surface topics that don’t require many words at all (like this post!). Some people have a writing style where they like to be detailed in each post, or to give a story to break into the topic, and those posts will necessarily be longer as a result.

    Once you are focused on answering one question for your audience, then you can see where the post will take you. If it’s 2000 words, then that’s great. As long as those words add value to your post and aren’t just rambling or going off on tangents, then it doesn’t matter how long your post is.

    I suggest taking each question and answering it in one sentence. That sentence is the topic or thesis statement of your post. Whenever you feel yourself rambling, or during editing, come back to that sentence and remind yourself what the focus of your post is. Everything about your post should answer that original question.

    By focusing your posts on one topic each, you will find that readers will be more engaged with your content. And, as a bonus, by focusing on only one topic per post, all those topics you would have thrown together in one post can now be separate pieces of content. I love anything that gives me more ideas for posts with less work!

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  • Writing

    How A Thesis Statement Will Keep Your Posts Focused

     

    The other day, my friend commented on how quickly I could spit words out on a page and what a good writer I was. I laughed and shared a secret with her. Anyone can do what I’m doing. You don’t need an English degree to learn it either.

    Of course, she scoffed and said she could never do it. What my friend doesn’t realize is that I was born with the desire to write (or it developed early on from my love of stories), but I wasn’t born with the skills. For years, I have struggled to learn the skills to write. And even after publishing a short story and earning a degree in English, I still struggle to write.

    The key isn’t that it’s easy. The key is that I work at it. A lot.

     

    This is good news for everyone who wants to write but doesn’t feel they are good enough. The truth is that writing is a skill that can be learned. Writing a blog post doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. The critical element is to ensure that you have a focused post. Think of it as a thesis statement for your blog post.

    A Thesis Will Focus Your Post

    If you read my post here, then you know that coming up with a list of questions to answer for your audience is how you get writing prompts. The next step in writing a focused blog post is to use the answer to the question as your focus for the post.

    That’s where a thesis statement comes in.

    Now, I’m sure you’re wondering how an academic term is going to help you write a better post. But stick with me, okay?

     

    thesis statement

    For those who don’t know, a thesis statement is usually one sentence at the end of the introductory paragraph that sums up the main point of a research paper, essay, etc.

    A thesis statement can be just as useful in writing blog posts as it is for writing academic papers. Although I don’t stick to the sentence at the end of the introductory paragraph necessarily, I think it’s important to put the sentence that sums up your main blog post point near the end of your introductory information. Much like in an academic paper, the reader then knows the point your post intends to make.

    Guide Yourself and Your Readers

    If you’re like me, you tend to ramble and find yourself wandering off topic. In the editing process, it’s a lot easier to keep the post concise and on topic if you have a focus. If you create a sentence designed to sum up the point you intend to make, then you can easily refer back to that sentence when editing (or even when writing) to ensure what you’ve written hasn’t wandered off the road.

    A thesis statement for your post doesn’t just guide you; it also guides your readers. It tells your readers precisely what information they will get by reading through your post. If that isn’t information they need, then they can move along without wasting their time. It’s much better for your reader to know up front that this is a blog post they don’t want to read rather than for them to get halfway through or to the end and realize your post was all over the place. As a reader, I hate when that happens, and I’m much less likely to read anything further on that blog.

    On the other hand, if your reader knows right away this isn’t the post for them, then they can just move on without feeling like they’ve wasted their time. You’re much more likely to end up with a reader who is still interested in checking out your posts if they know you’re not wasting their time.

    One final advantage to having a thesis statement for each post is that it will make it easier to organize. I hate organizing, and I’m always looking for ways to make it easier and to make things more efficient. By utilizing a thesis statement for each post, I can write that sentence down in my content calendar, which allows me to quickly see which topics I have covered so I’m not writing posts on the same ideas. Having the topics in sentence form also shows me where there are gaps in information I’ve written about, which can help me in brainstorming ideas for future posts.

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • just write
    Writing

    Why Just Write Is Bad Advice

    If you have ever taken a writing class or scoured the Internet for writing advice, then I’m sure you’re familiar with the advice to “just write.” The essence of the suggestion to just write is that you need to practice to improve on writing (which is true), and that to develop a habit you must write daily.

    While I agree with this advice because practicing is the only way to improve, and I’m a firm believer that creating a habit of writing will help conquer writing fears, the advice is far too vague to be useful.

    Don’t Just Write. Write with Purpose

    Will sitting down and writing whatever comes into your head improve your writing skills? Maybe. There is something to be said for having some words on a page to help keep you from the paralysis that comes with staring at a blank page.

    However, I think it’s much better to write with intention.

    The best way to practice writing engaging content for your audience is to know what problems your audience needs solved and write posts that solve them. There are plenty of good posts out there that detail how to figure out your audience’s needs, such as this one on audience research and this one on content planning. Another way to come up with content is to ask yourself what questions you have or have had in your niche and to write posts that answer those questions.

    You might be wondering why you should be doing all of this preliminary work before you sit down to the task of writing. After all, writing is the skill you’re trying to improve, so doesn’t it make sense just to start writing?

    The short answer is no. Writing without the intent to publish your work will perhaps increase your skill and will undoubtedly reduce your fear of writing. However, if you’re sitting down to write about whatever for thirty minutes every day, you’re essentially wasting time. And that’s most likely how you will feel about it. After a few days or weeks, you’ll feel discouraged that all of this practicing you’ve been doing is getting you nowhere closer to launching your site or increasing your traffic, and there’s still so much other business to be done, and the house needs cleaning . . .

    You see my point. You’ll find that you would rather scrub the toilet than to sit down to another pointless writing session where you’re accomplishing nothing for your business.

    On the other hand, if you have plenty of free time, or you enjoy practicing writing, then go for it! But if you’re a busy person with a full-time job and trying to hustle a blog on the side, “just write” is terrible advice.

    You need to write content that will help you attain your goals.

    Writing is a Process

    Practicing the craft of writing is more than just sitting down and writing for a specified amount of time each day. It’s a process that requires writing prompts, writing, and editing. The process starts by ensuring you have a prompt every day. Knowing what questions your audience needs to have answered is essential for your writing prompts. Once you’ve discovered what your audience needs to know, you can brainstorm a list of questions for you to answer. I find that I do this best in a word document, but the medium doesn’t matter as long as it works for you. Choose a method and get to brainstorming. Don’t bother editing or censoring your ideas, just let them flow. Editing is the next step.

     

    just write bad advice

    Once you have pulled out everything you can think of, the next step is to go through the list and get rid of ideas that aren’t really in your niche, or that you don’t want to write a post about. What’s left are questions that you know you can answer.

    One of my favorite methods is to capture ideas throughout the day as they come to me. I use Awesome Note for this, but you can use any notetaking app you want for this. Whenever I have an idea, or I read something that interests me, I make a note of it. I keep a tab labeled “blog ideas,” and when I’m ready to sit down and write each day, I choose one of the ideas and go for it.

    Now you have what you need to practice writing with a purpose.

    Each of those questions you have on your list or the idea that you’ve written down will be the focus of one of your posts. As I mentioned in this post, you answer the question as your thesis statement for your post. You have plenty of topics to write about for your daily writing practice, a practice that will give you content for your business.

    When you are practicing your craft with the intent to publish your work, you will write better, and you will have a much easier time getting yourself into the routine of writing. You will know you are working toward a goal rather than just writing for the sake of practice.

     

     

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