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empowering tips

How to Self-Promote Without Feeling Pucky or Being Annoying (20 Ideas Up For Grabs)

Mayi Carles


Some people are just so great at talking about what they do + why they do it. They pull people in with a selfie + get everyone around them invested in their lifestyle in mere moments. You people, go away. This post is not for you. Kidding, you can stay… just don’t laugh at the rest of the world who really struggles with this self-promoty game.


Personally, the hardest part of my job is talking about myself to total strangers.


This past Monday I was put to the test. My super talented friend + professional hustler + public speaking powerhouse, Stefy Cohen, invited me to participate in a Girl Power conference. As the avalanche of ladies approached my booth, my heart raced as if I were riding a roller coaster, the upside down kind. Then, Loser FM started playing in my head: What if they don’t like me? What if everyone thinks my book is over-priced? What if my homemade granola isn’t good enough? Does this lace dress make me look pregnant? Wait… I am pregnant!!!


The front line is scary. I know.


Putting yourself on the line can be hard. It’s way easier to stay in bed. Tempting even. But you cannot leave your mark if you’re hiding. Even Batman has to leave his cave to fight crime + save Gotham + change the world. World’s not gonna conquer itself, I keep reminding myself.


I think many creatives struggle with promoting their work the most because, well, the work is so personal. But our small biz empires aren’t gonna create buzz for themselves. We must take the initiative to get out there + make a name for ourselves.


My goal with this post is to help you warm up your self-promoting muscles, so you feel more confident + less icky sharing your unique gifts with the world, because in doing so I’ll freshen up my un-slimmy marketing tactics + take them out for a ride, I’m getting rusty.


Here’s 20 promo-moves that won’t make you feel pucky + will definitively not annoy my tribe. Get grabby!


Sidebar Note


1. Start with how you can help them. The truth is people are not that into you. What they’re really after is what you can do for them? How your products + services can make their lives better? Ego stand aside. Narrow down your calling into a short + easy to read blurb. Then, place this comprehend sentence somewhere prominent on your website. I wrote mine with my 10 little fingers, so it felt like a personal hand written invitation to connect. How can I be of service? You can see this note on the right hand side of my sidebar, above the fold.


2. Let value take a front seat + self-promotion sit in the back. Focus on delivering outstandingly useful content that always adds value. If you share the best content in a way that’s helpful + actionable + practical, believe me, no one’s gonna think you’re a sleazy telemarketer. In fact, your audience is gonna be so eager to hear from you, they’ll probably subscribe to your newsletter just so they make sure they never miss a thing.


3. Teach what you know. Each one of us is an expert in something – a lawyer is an expert in law + a hairdresser is an expert in beauty care + a guy who sells hot dogs on the corner is an expert in street food. Start positioning yourself as an expert in your field by offering your educated 2-cents. Online, you can create blog posts + write guest posts for other websites that let people know you are an authority in the field. Offline, you can position yourself as an expert by teaching a live class + writing an informative article for a local newsletter or speaking at conferences.


4. Brand everything. Your brand is your company’s personality. Extend this over everything you do, from adding logos to your e-mail signature to your video backdrop. Create an identity for your brand + use it in all your marketing collateral + websites, anywhere that your business is represented really. Think about who your brand is + how you want to present it to others. How do you want to be portrayed? When you decide what you want your brand identity to be, create a brand book (also known as a style guide) so your brand stays consistent + tight. If you’re not sure where to start, take a look at some other examples of brand books.


5. Don’t forget about your printed material. When you send thank you notes to your clients, is your logo on there somewhere? When you hand out fliers, are they customized to match your brands look and feel? When you create downloads for your blog posts or products, do you remember to add your website in the footer? Well, you should. Consider looking at printed collateral designs that other graphic artists have created to get some design inspiration.


6. Add that fancy code. Now that smartphones are so popular, having a QR code is a great way to subtly attract new business. Placing a convenient QR code with a link to your website on your marketing items will make it more likely that potential customers will actually follow through. QR codes can also be set to dial a phone number so that customers who are interested in your services can quickly find out what you can do for them.


7. Use social media to be social, duh! Sharing content for the sake of sharing content is a one-way broadcast. Engaging with your community is a conversation. One is “how can I gain” focused, the other is “how can I give” centered. Guess which one works best? Exactly! Don’t just pop on social media every time you have a new promotion or update your website. Be an active member of your community.


8. Create social content that your followers want to repost. Asking questions + sharing quotes + posting brainteasers or even making jokes are all ways to try to encourage socialization. This, in turn will help get the word-of-mouth out about your brand + help drive up sales. And don’t forget to ask for the share – “tag a friend” or “send this to someone who needs to hear this.”


April Bowles


9. Nobody can say what your business does better than an enthusiastic customer or friend. This is the picture my bestie April Bowles-Olin posted on Instagram as soon as she received her Life is Messy Kitchen cookbook in the mail. I instantly regramed it + got a boost in sales that day. Make an effort to follow up with customers + friends who have recently bought products or services to gauge their satisfaction. Ask them if they’d be willing to give a referral + provide a testimonial or share a cute picture, which many are happy to do. Use these gems you’ve collected on marketing materials + highlight them on your website + social media platforms. Getting referrals + testimonials + visual proof that your stuff rocks, not only increases your trust factor, but it generates more leads, which means more money in your piggy bank. The best marketing of all is happy clients.


10. Go to a networking conferences or event. But remember it’s not about who talks the loudest or hands out the most free lollipops, you have to be brave enough to get vulnerable + make genuine connections. That’s how me + my business partner April Bowles-Olin clicked. We sat right next to each other at Marie Forleo’s Rich Happy and Hot LIVE. For us, building a friendship that would last a lifetime was far more meaningful than doing small talk with hundreds of women in a 2-day event. When it comes to relationships, always choose quality over quantity.


11. Don’t be a stranger, keep in touch. Meeting new people is important in self-promotion, but once you’ve met someone new, you have to be willing to maintain the relationship for it to be truly beneficial. Keep up with your former + current clients to let them know you still care. Sending out birthday greetings + VIP promotions is a great way to make them feel appreciated. Take the time to respond to posts on social networking sites. This extends to more than just clients + business relations. It also includes your friends + your neighbors + your old college buddies – everybody that means something to you, regardless of whether or not it has the potential to lead you to new business opportunities.


12. Consider doing some pro bono work. Working pro bono isn’t just for lawyers, every business can benefit from the great word of mouth that comes from donating your time + resources. True tale: I’m such a loyal Kiehl’s customer that I got a call the other day to book a free facial, and I could even bring a friend. I was so astonished by this act of generosity that I told everyone I know how much I love this brand + how amazing their products are. You can’t beat the kind of glowing recommendation that comes from making someone’s day.


13. Craft your elevator pitch. Nine seconds– that’s the amount of time people will pay attention before getting distracted by the next shiny object. Naturally we must find the quickest + easiest way to explain what you do (and practice it), so that during brief encounters with potential clients, you are able to make the most use of your time. They call it an “elevator pitch” because it should be short enough to last an elevator ride while still making an impact.


14. Be human. The key to self-promotional is to maintain a sense of humility. No one likes a bragging + boasting brat. Be a human being, not human spam.


15. Host community outreach efforts. For instance, if you’re a cheese shop, host a tasting every Thursday. If you’re a painter, have open studio nights the first Monday of every month. If you’re a yoga instructor, let clients bring a friend for free on Sundays. These are all great ways to try establishing a repertoire with local clientele.


16. Tell good stories. Storytelling is an accent art. It is less about language + more about making people feel something. In the words Maya Angelou, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”


17. Tease em’, just a little. It’s not enough to create interest, you have to stop your reader from thinking, “Oh, that’s probably going to be about X + Y + Z. I bet I know that already.” Psychological tests reveal that most people assume they know more than they actually do, so you definitely want to make sure you’re not losing readers who “think” they know what you’re going to tell them. For example, Heartmade readers who see this headline: “How to Self-Promote” might assume she already knows how. As a result, she doesn’t feel compelled to read the article. That’s why: “How to Self-Promote Without Feeling Pucky or Being Annoying (20 Ideas Up For Grabs)” works much better. Ultimately, you’re poking should let your peeps know, “Look, I know you know a lot, but you don’t know this.” And this really encourages the curiosity gremlin to wreak havoc.


18. Host a giveaway. The secret to hosting successful giveaways is to first set an intention – why you’re doing this? Do you want to reward current readers? Attract new followers? Celebrate a special event? Build a relationship with a brand? Do you want more fans for a FB page? More backlinks to your blog? Ask yourself what you’re hoping to get out of it. When you know why you’re doing a giveaway + what you want from it, you’ll be better able to decide your giveaway criteria. And for the love of all things holy, please keep your requirements for entry as simple as can be.


Work in Progress


19. Think process, not end product. I’m talking about behind the scenes footage + outtakes + pencil sketches + bloopers + rough drafts – the stuff the camera captures just before or after you get it right. People wanna see it! They are hungry for the uncensored + unPhotoshoped + unedited version. There is power in this rawness. The messy material + on-set secrets + project sneak peeks can help you tell a deeper, more engaging story about your brand.


20. Take time to browse blogs that are of interest to you + leave thoughtful comments. Of course, if a particular entry strikes your fancy. Commenting on other blogs is a great way to promote your business + do some potential networking. However, your comment can’t look like an advertisement or a self-promotion. That will likely be flagged as spam. Instead, leave an honest + heartfelt comment or ask questions that can start a dialogue between you + the blogger you admire.


Self-promotion should become a part of your daily routine, to the point that you forget you’re even doing it.


I’m confident that if you incorporate some of these tactics into your marketing outreach campaigns, you’ll be kicking butt in no time.


Now, I would like to hear from you. Can you think of other tips + techniques for more sensible + effective self-promoting ? What are some of your favorite self-promotion moves? Drop them in the comments below. 


I’ll be back next week with a new article. Stay tuned + thanks for being part of the Heartmade family.



Mayi Carles

14 Tools I Can’t Live Without (Well, Maybe I Can, But I Don’t Want To)

Mayi Carles


This is a question I get asked pretty much everyday, to share what’s inside my toolbox. Today I’m going to talk about a few of my favorite things – tools I can’t live without. Well, maybe I can live without em’, but I choose not to. 


You might be surprised to see how very little I need, actually. A few basic supplies + very simple platforms that make life a little easier.


But you know what?  At the core of it all, we are already everything. You have you. I’ve got me. Our unique abilities + talents + perspective + skills + ideas + visions + the way we use all that goodness to articulate what we are. Everything else is extra frosting.


Here’s my list of favorite frostings… I mean tools:


1. 0.5 Mechanical Pencil. Got one in my purse + one in my nightstand + one on the car + one inside my beach bag. It’s my writing tool of choice.


2. Micron Ink Pens. When accuracy + minute details + preservation count, there is no pen that stands a chance next to the unparalleled archival quality of Microns. The finer-points are great for technical outline work + the bolder ones are perfect for hand-lettering projects.


3. 8.5″ x 11″ White Paper. Fancy right? Were you expecting me to recommend a glamorous sketch book or art journal? The truth is, I tried using a tablet once + many other gadgets, but I always come back to my plain ol’ blank piece of paper. My illustrations all start there, humbly. And that’s good enough for me.


4. Giant tube of titanium white paint. I usually buy Americana (or Liquitex when it’s on sale.)


5. Of course, other colors too. I splurge on these 3 shades because they’re the ones I use most often in my Design Studio: Natural Buff + Light Portrait Pink + Foliage Green.


6. 000 Brushes. Tight, but still flexible. Natural bristle, suited for acrylics. I’ m not loyal to a brand, but I usually know how I want the brush to feel on the canvas + shop accordingly. I usually purchase 20 at a time because they lose their shape quickly, and due to the nature of my work, the moment they get messy hair, they no longer serve their purpose. To give you an idea, I used 38 brushes to complete all the Life is Messy Kitchen illustrations.


7. Plastic Paint Pallets with Paint Wells: Here’s where I pour + mix (or not mix, which is what the independent paint wells are for) my paint colors. I love the way they can be completely wiped clean at the end of the day.


8. Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap. Essential to clean my hands + my brushes too, believe it or not. I used to get these ugly rashes when cleaning with heavy-duty stuff like turpentine. Not anymore. Love Mrs. Meyer’s. Strong enough to remove tough messes + soft enough for my 10 little fingers. My favorite scent is Lemon Verbena.


9. Image Scanner. These days I use the Canon CanoScan LiDE 120 Color Image Scanner, Canon’s lowest-cost flatbed scanner. Lets me do high-quality image scans without paying extra for film-scanning features or photo editing software I really don’t need.


10. Life is Messy Planners. The organized system for creatives that provides “just enough” structure for your journey to take your brilliant ideas from light bulb to done without becoming a correctional facility, and “just enough” wiggle room to unleash your unique gifts + honor your most valued forms of currency, freedom + happiness. Planners are my BFF. Saved my life a couple of times already. Helped me make room for what truly matters to me + Expecto Patronus any dementor that stands in the way. No wonder it’s not just me using them, but 7 thousand other artists + creatives + innovators + small business owners. Because they were designed by someone who speaks your language… moi.


11. MadMimi. This is the e-mail marketing platform I use to send all my e-mails + stay in touch with my favorite people. It’s very intuitive + allows me to create fully customizable campaigns without making my head hurt. Above all, I’m a loyal customer because of their out-of-this-world customer service. Have never seen anything like it. They reply within minutes (if not seconds) to my needy (and sometimes frantic) e-mails, providing quick answers + solutions to my every question. Makes me wonder, maybe MadMimi is operated by minions. It’s the only explanation for their awesomeness.


12. Harvest. I used to dread invoicing, then I found Harvest. In my opinion, a simpler + much better way to work + run my business. I use Harvest for all my time tracking + billing needs. Managing clients + organizing projects + preparing invoices has never been so ridiculously easy. One of my favorite features is their seamless integration with PayPal + Stripe, making it less annoying for clients to pay with one click + freeing up my time to bake cookies. Win-win.


13. PayPal/Stripe. I use both as my payment processors. PayPal is a trusted brand + has a long history of processing payments on the web. Stripe, well, they are the hottest new payment processor on the block for handling credit card payments in a very secure way. These days, I get about 50% of my orders though PayPal + the other half from Stripe.


14. Creative Cloud. For only $40-something bucks a month, I have all the tools + assets I need to create my best work more efficiently. Creative Cloud includes all-new versions of my favorite desktop apps – including Photoshop + Illustrator. These days, when I’m not editing pictures or cleaning up my illustrations on Photoshop, I’m vectorizing my work or creating printables on Illustration.


That’s what’s on my go-to kit. Really. You will be given 10,000 options at the art supply store + the Mac store + Amazon + everywhere! My advice? Just stick to your gut + your budget + allow your creativity to take over from there.


I know it’s fun to hoard bundles of fancy brushes + expensive software. Trust me, I know. But,  you are your best asset – not the tools. Use what you have. Do what you can.


What tools can’t you live without? Any brands + platforms + hacks you’ve tried + fell in love with?


Giveaway Winner

As promised, today I’m giving away an autographed copy of Life is Messy Kitchen.


And the lucky winner is… Haydee Montemayor!!! Congratulations Haydee. You won. Yay! Please send me an e-mail with your mailing address to ship your gift immediately. So happy for you.


I will be hosting more giveaways very soon, so don’t be sad if you didn’t win, okay?



Mayi Carles

Revealed: My End of the Month Money Tracking Ritual (Free Income Tracker + Expenses Tracker Inside)

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In the real world, as in not my parallel Universe where I take over the galaxy in my stretchy pregnant lady pants on top of a pink unicorn, today marks the final workday of January. One month down, eleven more to go.


Today, most companies are looking at their balance sheets + hyperventilating + crunching numbers + paying their employees + panicking… yada yada. You know the drill. Unless, of course, you don’t.


Wait WHAT? You don’t know your numbers?Really? I’m not talking about rough estimates, I’m talking about cold turkey numbers: How much money you made this month; and just as importantly: How much money did you spent?


Let me get my cape. I’ll be right back. This monkey business has got to stop. Time to go pro my friend.


Captain Mayi to the rescue. (If I get a little bossy today, please blame the Hulk Waffles I had for breakfast. They are making me feel fierce.)


Alright, so I hear you get nauseous when you have to talk about money. I get it.


Money Quote


When I thought of writing this post, I got very nervous (picture lots of nail bitting). I’m still in the process of owning my financial strengths + improving my weaknesses + ditching my upper limit scrips. I’m still deciphering how I feel about things like debt + shopping sprees + earning big money + self-worth + hiring an accountant + doing my taxes + paying my bills + everything in between.


To tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, I still got way more questions marks than conclusions, but I know ONE THING for sure + it’s this: Not thinking about money doesn’t work. It’s a lie. Pretending that this isn’t important is a myth we tell ourselves to avoid confronting our money gremlins.


So today I decided to do something brave (or stupid, depending on how you look at it). I’m gonna show you, exactly, how I deal with my money, every month. My Money Tracking Ritual revealed.


My method is so ridiculously simple, anyone can do it. Including moi, the President of the Math Sucks Club. You don’t need a gold trumpet or an expensive application. You don’t need a NASA certification or to block out your entire weekend to get it done. I’m talking easy + to the point, cuz who has time for the encyclopedic version, right?


So here goes…


This is my End of the Month Money Tracking Ritual:

  • Put on my money party glasses.
  • Grab my Hello Kitty calculator.
  • Download + print my Income Tracker.
  • Download + print my Expenses Tracker.
  • Insert data.
  • Crunch the numbers.


Here’s what it looks like when you put it all together:


Income Tracker Example


Expenses Tracker Example


Set Yourself Up For Success

Here are a few tips + tricks to bulletproof your Money Tracking Ritual:


Know where to look. In terms of gathering my “Income” data, I don’t obsessed myself with looking everyday at my PayPal balance. I would end up in an insane asylum if I did that. Instead, I know where I have to go at the end of the month to grab my numbers – my Etsy dashboard + my admin panels for all my Life is Messy products + my Harvest account for my client commissions + etc. I also have a list of all the fantastic retailers I work with + I contact them to see if they have a check for me + jot down the number. When you know where to look you are not digging numbers like a crazy person the last day of the month.


Data collection is easy when you make it easy. I have a little folder in my inbox called “Expenses”. Every time I pay an affiliate + purchase a plugin + pay my Adobe membership fees + invest in professional photos + hire a copy editor or whatever, I file it there. It’s a habit. At the end of the month, it’s such a breeze just to scan through + plug in the numbers into my Expenses Tracker.


Get yourself in the mood. Do I need a Hello Kitty calculator? Of course not. Does it help make the process less painful? You bet sistah. Do I need to download my cute trackers? No. Does it make me feel like I’m playing Monopoly? Ahem… YEAH! Are the party money glasses really necessary? Maybe not. Do they make me feel like a money goddess? The answer is abso-freaking-lutely. Money can be boring, but only if you make it boring.


Expand your tolerance for abundance, both ways. I joke that I love counting my money. I’m great at receiving money. GREEEAT. The giving it away part, not so much. I’m working on it. I’m one of those people who still dances every time a new order comes in, as if it were my very first sale. Sometimes though, I struggle with being as graceful investing in premium software or professional services. My stomach contracts + I worry, “Can I really afford this?” I’m slowly learning that it is just as important to bless the money than comes in as the money that’s going out into the Universe. The other day, I tried something crazy. As I was getting ready to write a check, I said a little prayer, “Thank you so so much for allowing me to purchase this BEA-U-TI-FUL bamboo floor for Olivia’s nursery.” I instantly felt grateful, instead of stressed. It made all the difference. Try it next time you send money back into the world.


Don’t skip through+ pretend no one noticed. You noticed + you are someONE. It’s like pretending that by not doing the dishes, the pile will magically disappear. Oh no, it will only get bigger. You might turn your face the other way, but sooner or later your pile of dirty dishes it’s gonna come + bite you you know where. You might tell yourself you don’t care. You can try to convince yourself that money isn’t that important, but until you sit down + know what you have you will always ALWAYS feel scared. If you want to attract more money, you can’t do it from a place scarcity + ignorance. Knowing your numbers is one of the most empowering things you will EVER do.


Every quarter, sit down + analyze your data. What is selling like hot tamales? What products are just sitting in the shelves accumulating dust? Where is your bucket leaking? These quarterly analysis help you make smart decisions moving forward, like what projects should get fired + which deserve a bit more spotlight. This is what I call proactively being BOSS, instead of a passive victim of “the economy” or whatever other bullsh*t story we tell ourselves.


Freebies For You

I believe you deserve to live a rich life, so I’ve decided to make my Income Tracker + Expenses Tracker available to you, for FREE!!! If you’re feeling generous + want to return the favor, just share this post with someone who really needs it.


Income Tracker

Download Banner


Expenses Tracker

Download Banner


Let’s Wrap

When you know your numbers:

  • You know your business’s minimum break-even point.
  • You know what you need to charge for profitability.
  • You know how to charge what you’re worth.
  • You know how to expand on what’s working.
  • You know what to stop doing what’s sucking.


I believe money is the seed of money. You want money? Enough that you don’t have to worry about money? Well, you gotta plant the first seed + give it water when it’s thirsty + make sure it’s getting proper sunlight + care for it, if you want to see it bloom. Actually… money is what you make of it. It can become a soggy plant or a gorgeous garden of Eden. It can become your worst nightmare of your BFF. It’s always your choice.


The first step is to KNOW. Know your money. Knowledge is power.


Quote - Pitbul


I hope you take advantage of the cosmic timing, not only the end of the week, but the culmination of the first month of the year, to start fresh.


Deep breaths! I promise you is never as bad as it looks. You might discover that you might actually be able to afford a fancy deep tissue massage weekend, or perhaps a new cookbook (wink wink).



Mayi Carles


Life is Messy Bootcamp 2015 Ad

Tips For Using Your Planner (Messy Tabs Inside)

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All our lives we’ve been told the things we should + shouldn’t do:

  • Paint inside the lines.
  • Eat your veggies.
  • Memorize poems.
  • Put your opt-in box at the right hand side of your website
  • Follow the recipe.
  • Read the instructions before assembling.
  • Brush your teeth.
  • Call your mom.
  • Comb your hair.
  • No rollerblading inside the house.
  • Elbows off the table.
  • Stop crying.


So when my Life is Messy Bootcamp alumn, Karen Lema asked for assistance on how to best use her Life is Messy Planners, I really debated whether or not I should hand out a manual.


I decided to put together this blog post instead. Hopefully I’ll provide enough guidance to kickstart your best year ever + leave enough wiggle room for your big juicy creative imagination.


Keep on reading if you care to steal my black belt planning moves. Ka-POW!


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Getting Started

First things first. I can’t stress enough the importance of having a robust system you can trust – a calendar where you can collect all your “I wills” + turn them into “I dids”.  This is not only the place where you jot down your action items, but also track your big picture landscape. Be sure to pick a calendar system that you like + goes well with your style and personality.


Today, I’m gonna talk specifically about how to use my Life is Messy Planners, but you’re welcome to use these guideposts + adapt them for your own management workflow. No judgement.


To tell you the truth, from the very beginning (my gosh, has it really been 5 years since I first conceptualized these planners?) there hasn’t been an official rule book to operate my Life is Messy Planners, and I did that up purpose.


Traditional planning has always felt quite artificial to me + irrelevant to real work, which is why I’m guessing most people drop their New Years resolutions by the time February shows up. Sad. I didn’t want to create another calendar solution people feel chained to. No way Jose!


I envisioned more like a roadmap, a lighthouse that provides just enough direction for your journey to the top of your metaphorical Mount Everest:

  • Enough structure to take your brilliant ideas from light bulb to done without becoming a correctional facility.
  • Enough wiggle room to unleash your unique gifts + honor your most valued forms of currency freedom + happiness.


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That being said, here are some humble tips to get started that don’t make you feel like a military sargent is shouting in your ear that your lack willpower:

  • Go to www.lifeismessyplanners.com to purchase your planners, if you want to (wink).
  • You’ll get an instant e-mail with your link to download your planners.
  • Set your printer to fit the entire page.
  • For your visual delights, use a color printer.
  • Preferably, print on 8.5 x 11 inch paper or cardstock.
  • Fill in directly on your computer, or
  • Fill in with your fave writing + coloring instruments.
  • To keep your sheets tidy, use a ring binder.
  • Hole punch your sheets.
  • Divide your sections with cool tab dividers.
  • Get your hands on fun washi tape + stickers.
  • Pin your urgent sheets to a corkboard for easy reminding.


Now let’s jazz it up!


Getting The Tools You Need

Over the years, I’ve gathered a short but might powerful list of my favorite supplies + tools + equipments to use alongside my planners. And here they are. Mayi’s favorite thing (that are not expensive at all):




I mean, you don’t really need any of these, but then again you don’t need a superhero cape + yet you kinda want one, don’t you? With your initial n’ all. I know!


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Organizing Your Planner

This is how I intuitively categorize + organize the sections in my Life is Messy Planners, in case you’re curious:




Yearly Calendar


Big Picture:

  • Goal Generator
  • Goal Getter
  • Habit Tracker
  • Resolution Tracker



  • Daily To Do Planner (2)
  • Weekly To Do Planner
  • Monthly To Do Planner (12)
  • Month At A Glance
  • Yearly To Do Planner
  • Mental Detox



  • All Out Of
  • Chore Chart
  • Don’t Forget Contacts
  • Happy Birthdays
  • Home Improvement
  • In Case of Emergency
  • Oh Happy Day
  • Party Planner
  • Password Keeper
  • Personal Avatar
  • Recipe Cheat Sheet
  • Shopping List
  • Trip Planner
  • Weekly Fitness Planner
  • Weekly Meal Planner



  • Blog Planner
  • Customer Avatar
  • Idea Picker
  • One Page Business Plan
  • One Page Project Planner
  • One Page to Newsletter
  • Super Power Finder
  • Sweet Spot Finder



  • Yearly Money Tracker


Creative Brainstorming:

  • Brainstorm
  • Creative Brainstorming Pages (5)
  • Journal
  • Quotes



  • Decision Maker
  • The Stop List
  • Things To Do
  • This is a Checklist


If you dig my method, you can totally borrow my Messy Tabs to help keep things tidy. You’re very welcome!


Messy Tabs

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Tips To Rock Your Planners

You may wonder how I maintain my system up n’ running. How I keep at it, in spite of the day-to-day resistance. Well, it’s not always as pretty as I would like, (please ignore the tower of dirty plates in my kitchen sink) but here are some tips I’ve found trigger all sorts of success fairies:

  • Buy a planner that you absolutely LOVE – the style + the size + the shape + the format + the colors, so that you take pleasure each time you use it. Your planner should make you smile, not cringe into a fetal position.
  • Put EVERYTHING into your planners – names + dates + notes + appointments. Consider it information central. Your brain isn’t stupid, if it knows you don’t keep everything there, it will not take your planner seriously.
  • Have a place where you open your planner + work on your planner – a workstation with the appropriate furniture + tools to serve as a central cockpit of control.
  • It doesn’t hurt to designate a special pen to be your companion during this mission. Every time I get out my Hello Kitty pen, I know it’s time to conquer the world.
  • Maintain ONE, and only ONE planner.
  • Recite the mantra, “If it’s not schedule, it doesn’t exist.”
  • In your planner, keep schedule of appointments, including appointments with yourself.
  • Block out time each day to work on your planner + plan the next days Daily To Do Planner sheet.
  • Take your Daily To Do Planner (or your Oh Happy Day sheet) with you EVERYWHERE you go.
  • Use tabs to organize your sections + stickies to mark important items that need your attention.


Screen Shot 2015-01-23 at 10.43.45 AM


Now, that’s what works for me.


What is working for you? Do you have a magical marker to scribble your tasks? Do you spill pancake syrup on your sheets for good luck? What is it? Tell me how you set yourself up for epicness, in the comments below.


See you in the chat!



Mayi Carles


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Day 5 of the 5-Day Life is Messy Challenge: A Trusted Calendar System

Part 5


We’ve reached our final day of this (hopefully) super fun + value-packed series that promises to set you off on the right path to create the best 2015 EVER! Don’t forget that everyone who participates automatically enters the drawing to win a Life is Messy Bootcamp scholarship. Hip hip hooray!


To a great degree, this free training is not about handing you a formula + expect you to do exactly as I say, but about stealing the little tricks you can see yourself implement right away. Cuz at the end of the day, it’s those teeny tiny action steps that accumulate into a big giant pile of awesome over time. Steady acceleration that keeps you sane.


There is no wrong way to do this challenge.  There’s no space for “I’m falling behind” or “I’m missing out”. You are where you need to be. Trust that you will get exactly what you need from this experience of learning + expansion. You’ll meet the people you’re meant to meet. You’ll have the “aha moments” you need to have. You’ll see the comments you’ve meant to see. Overwhelm is a choice, so choose wise my young padawan.


Today, to wrap things up with a BANG, we are going to move from framework to full-scale implementation. I’ll show you my trusted system for managing my workflow (and my lifeflow as well) + I’ll provide you with a logical sequence of doing work that matters, but making it as easy as possible for you to get on board + see how you start to break through.


KA-POW! Get your nunchakus ready.




Here’s the step-by-step action plan to getting more done in record time, minus the meltdowns + brain cellulite + grumpiness typically associated with boring calendar systems:


Step 1:


Have you ever gone to The Cheesecake Factory when you’re really, really hungry? You’re so hungry you’re angry. You’re one hangry human being. Of course you end up wanting everything on their Encyclopedic menu + making the waiter + the rest of your party wait ages for your meal verdict. There’s also a big chance you ordered waaaaay more than you should have + you’ll regret the caloric intake later, because the indulgence wasn’t even worth it. It happens when you’re not clear about what you’re truly hungry for.


Going to the grocery store on an empty stomach, same shitty situation.


In today’s schizophrenic world, clarity equals power. Lack of clarity equals gremlin town.


You can’t master your life until you have a Master Plan for your life. Know what I mean? Because if you don’t tell the Universe what you want, how do you expect to get it? For example, if you want to shrink your waistline, stop tell the Universe, “I’m fat”. It might come true one day if you keep saying it over + over + over again. Stop giving the world mixed signals. It’s freaking confusing.


That’s why I urged you to clarify your vision for what you want your life + business to look like on Day 2.


This is a good time to get out your vision board. It will be your compass. It will inform your decisions. It will help you table items + star the ones that matter to you most. Clarity leads to prosperity.


Mayi Carles - Small


Let me give you an example from my own life. This year I picked one word to carry me through till the end of 2015. That word is: SELF-LOVE. I want to be less like a machine + more people. I’m letting go of the Mayi that punishes herself on the treadmill for eating an Oreo Madness all by herself + embracing the woman that’s not at war with herself, but IN LOVE with herself. I used to fear change, but now I see my body changing everyday to make room for our precious Olivia + I’ve never felt more confident + complete in my life; every silly insecurity vanished because of the life growing inside of me. With that in mind, this is what my Yearly To Do Planner looks like:

  • JANUARY: Launch Life is Messy Bootcamp, The 2015 Edition + release the new video (ahhh I’m soooo excited about this). Work on my bedtime routine. Finish Magical Beginnings, Enchanting Lives by Deepak Chopra. Get myself a magic carpet yoga mat.
  • FEBRUARY: Work on expanding my Life is Messy line with new notepads + stationary goods. Merchandising maybe? Read The Big Leap. Vision board Olivia’s nursery. Celebrate Valentine’s Day the entire month. Secret project with my business partner April Bowles.
  • MARCH: Life is Messy Kitchen comes out of the over. Big book launch party. Start Pre-Natal Yoga classes with my friend Marlene. Order Olivia’s wallpaper + furniture. Read Profit First. Translate Life is Messy Planners to Spanish.
  • APRIL: Meet with Life is Messy Kitchen stockists + book signing events. Start putting together Olivia’s room. Book a spa date with mom.
  • MAY: Baby-proof my business. What do I want to do with Life is Messy Baby + Life is Messy Kids? Help hubby decorate his new office space. Try out a new restaurant… something we’ve never had before. Maybe Vietnamese food?
  • JUNE: This month I become a mom… OMG OMG I’m so excited!!! Find a good audiobook to take for a spin. Plan extra special date nights every week. Do a “Half-Way There” Yearly Review + tweak goals + reset intentions as needed.
  • JULY: Continue expanding my Life is Messy line of products. Find strategic allies. Learn how to make ravioli from scratch.
  • AUGUST: Expanding my Life is Messy line with back to school products. Experiment with baby food. Maybe a Life is Messy Baby Cookbook?
  • SEPTEMBER: Introduce back to school items. Blog about my experience as a mom while being an entrepreneur.
  • OCTOBER: Collect Life is Messy Bootcamp feedback + testimonials + brainstorm ways to make the new edition even better.
  • NOVEMBER: Big promo of the year! This is a good time to upgrade + optimize my systems + websites + platforms. Plan what kind of holiday I want to have with my family. Do I want to be The Grinch, buying presents December 24 or do I want to be nice ginger bread cookie maker Mayi? I get to choose.
  • DECEMBER: First Christmas with Olivia. My Christmas tree cannot suck. Dream about the new year.


With a clear vision of where I wanna go, I feel empowered + prepared for (almost) anything.


Step 2:


Ever feel like you’re continuously on hamster wheel mode, simply surviving the day-to-day? I know, it happens to me all the time when I shift my attention from big picture (“I want see my cookbook out in the world, as a physical book”) to instant gratification mind set (“Oh look my Hulk Waffles got 128 likes on Instagram!”). This step is all about reconnecting with your audacious dreams + reverse engineering for success.


Quote - Alvin


Reverse engineering is the process of dissecting an idea + project or goal into all its teeny tiny components + details in order to recreate it. The purpose is to break down daunting idea + project or goal into ridiculously small tasks that are impossible not to check-off. For example: If committing to working out everyday seems intimidating, why not say you’ll do one hundred squats a day? Heck, why not commit to one squat a day? Anyone can do one squat, right? Nothing can get in the way of ONE squat. One squat is so insultingly easy, you trick yourself into doing it, which in turn unleashes the potential for more. More good habits you actually stick to + make you happy.


So, how do you put this into practice? Break down your T-Rex idea + project or goal from macro (“I want to re-design my website) to micro (“Pick out color palette”) using your to-do planners in the following sequence: Yearly To Do Planner > Monthly To Do Planner > Weekly To Do Planner > Daily To Do Planner.


Calendar System


Tip: Be very picky + strict about the stuff that gets into your calendar. By default, you should be saying NO to a lot of things + YES only to the projects that align with your big vision + make your heart sing like Christmas morning, if you were nice.


Step 3:


I’m a big fan of writing things down on paper. Can you tell? Well, cuz I believe that what you get off your head + onto paper shapes your reality.


To-do lists help you stay focused + set priorities + forget nothing + turbo- charge your productivity. But there’s an art to list making. The key to getting the meaningful stuff done is to focus on the most important things you want to get done in the next 24 hours, as opposed to the 50 or more items I see on most people’s to-dos.


Long lists are important to keep in the back burner (like with the Mental Detox we did in your previous mission), because they help you feed your calendar system, but please know this: long lists can never be finished + there’s a huge negative psychological impact to not accomplishing what’s on there. It leaves you drained + feeling like a total loser (with a capital L shaped with your index finger + thumb and tattooed into your forehead). You get the picture.


Quote - DAY 4


And even when you do check off items from your T-Rex sized to-do list, it’s usually the easiest tasks that get knocked off first. But who are we kidding, right? We all know very well that the speediest items are rarely the most transcendental. So, again, we’re left feeling like a failure.


Short daily lists, on the other hand, are realistic + give you superpowers + make you feel freaking-tastic, because you can actually cross everything off. There’s an enormous psychological boost in getting done exactly what you set out to tackle, especially when they have big ripple effects for your life + business.


The best way to put this into action is to take out your complete Mental Detox exercise + hand pick five items that you want to tackle in the next 24 hours. Your list might look something like this:

  • Prepare my Hearty Marinara Sauce for tonight’s dinner party with my in-laws.
  • Publish Day 5 of the 5-Day Life is Messy Challenge.
  • Finish concept sketch for secret project with April.
  • Package Etsy order + ship parcel.
  • Meet with my webmaster to finish last details of new Life is Messy Bootcamp landing page.


Step 4:


Now you need to determine + plan how much time each task requires. This is an important step to make sure your five items can literally be tackled in a day without giving you an ulcer. The key is to keep your tasks manageable + hors d’oeurvres size. If a project is too large to finish in one day, can you deconstruct it even further?


When you assign how much time each task needs, your list might look something like this:

  • Prepare my Hearty Marinara Sauce for tonight’s dinner party with my in-laws – 60 minutes.
  • Publish Day 5 of the 5-Day Life is Messy Challenge – 90 minutes.
  • Finish concept sketch for secret project with April – 90 minutes.
  • Package Etsy order + ship parcel – 30 minutes.
  • Meet with my webmaster to finish last details of new Life is Messy Bootcamp landing page – 60 minutes.


You also want to make sure you don’t work on a single productive task past the 90 minute mark because your mind + body will lose their ability to focus + work optimally. If you haven’t, take a 15 minute break + then go back to it. There are a ton of fancy stopwatch apps to do this, but I use a simple tomato-shaped kitchen timer to track my work sprints + force my much-needed play breaks.


Another thing to keep in mind: Make sure your total amount of productive tasks don’t go above seven or eight to prevent burnout + potato chip binges. Also, leave room for miscellaneous periods that require little time + almost no mental effort like answering e-mails + returning phone calls + having lunch with a friend + calling your mom + etc. Take care of these reactive tasks between the big items. It will give your brain a needed break. It will also keep your momentum going + feed your sense of accomplishment.


Step 5:


It’s time to schedule exactly how your next day is going to roll out.


For that, you’ll need to get out your Daily To Do Planner. To fully plan your day, you need to remember to leave wiggle-room zones for play + to account for curve balls.




Your schedule might look something like this:

  • 7:00 – 7:30 AM – Stretch on the yoga mat.
  • 7:30 – 8:00 AM – Breakfast: Baked Oatmeal.
  • 9:00 – 10:00 AM – Doctor’s appointment – Fourth Month Check Up.
  • 10:30 – 11:30 AM – Prepare Hearty Marinara Sauce.
  • 11:30 – 12:30 PM – E-mail session.
  • 12:30 – 2:00 PM – Lunch: Ensalada de Toldo.
  • 2:00 – 4:00 PM – Publish Day 5 of the 5-Day Life is Messy Challenge.
  • 4:00 – 4:30 PM – Finish concept sketch for secret project with April
  • 4:30 – 5:00 PM – Package Etsy order + ship parcel
  • 5:00 – 5:30 PM – E-mail session.
  • 5:30 – 6:30 PM – Meet with my webmaster.
  • 6:30 – 7:00 PM – Pack the car. We’re going to the beach. Yee ha!
  • 7:00 – 8:30 PM – Roadtrip. Bring Jack Johnson CD.
  • 9:00 – 11:00 PM – Dinner Party with the in-laws with salty hair + ocean breeze.
  • 11:00 – 12:00 PM – Watch Cloud Atlas + unwind.
  • Midnight – Bed time.


Mayi Carles


Now look at your Daily To Do Planner + examine how much of your day is proactive + how much is reactive. Rewrite your plan so that 80% of your schedule is focused on proactive tasks (innovation + creating + making) + 20% on reactive tasks (replying to e-mails + responding to blog comments + answering questions raised on social media). And never ever forget to make room for fun (or a little dose of Vitamin Sea wink wink).


Also, analyze when you’re scheduling the most important tasks, either at the beginning, the middle or the end of the day. Rewrite your plan so that you are completing the hardest, most important, tasks in your most productive hours of the day.


Step 6:


Make it a habit to finish each day by setting the next day’s agenda. Not because I want to turn you into a compulsive control freak, but because this is how high performers leave nothing to chance or sloppy decision making. If you don’t commit to a healthy breakfast, for instance, you’ll be left at the mercy of bagels + office birthday cake. Oh my!


You wouldn’t be caught dead driving blindfolded, would you? Then tell me why do you fog your path ahead with unpredictable nothingness? With an empty schedule that’s code for gremlin attack. You might as well be blind-folded.


Can you see it more clearly now?


Of course, there will always be emergencies + urgencies + people that might interfere with your schedule. The key to staying on course is to anticipate these detours + have an emergency Plan B. The meeting was moved to your spinning class time? No problem, you have a go-to Shaun T’s Rockin’ Body DVD waiting for you at home. The gluten free pizza dough didn’t rise? Don’t sweat the small stuff; have Ezekiel tortillas in hand in case of emergencies.


Quote - Richard G. Scott


Tip: I like to block “Sh*t Pickle Windows” in my calendar each week to accommodate any hiccups that might occur. That way, even if all hell breaks loose, I’m never insanely behind + I feel on top of my game.


Don’t make the mistake of winging it or leaving your calendar empty at the mercy of other peoples emergencies. An empty planner means it can be easily crowded with nonsensical time wasters that don’t do a thing for your epicness. Instead, crowd out your planners with the stuff that really matters to you. Do it now.


Get Messy


DO THIS  NOW: Put your hands together; I mean, your steps together. It’s time to turn theory into practice + take your messy-proof planning system for a test drive. Download your Daily To Do Planner + Weekly Do To Planner + Monthly To Do Planner + Yearly To Do Planner. Let’s make some damage (the good kind). And don’t forget to let me know in the comments how it went. Remember, your participation in this challenge earns you cookie points to win a Life is Messy Bootcamp scholarship.


Daily To Do Planner - 12 Hours

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Weekly To Do Planner

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Monthly To Do Planner - January

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Yearly To Do Planner

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And that’s a wrap!


I hope you’ve loved this 5-Day Life is Messy Challenge as much as I’ve loved creating it for you. My wish for you is that this year, this life, becomes all that you want it to be. And then more, much more. My wish for you is that your dreams get bigger + your worries smaller. My wish for you is that you never have to carry more than you can hold at once. And while you’re climbing to the top of your metaphorical Mount Everest, I hope you know somebody believes in you + wants you to succeed, wants you to be happy + free! Yes, this is my wish.


Next week, I’ve got amazing surprises lined up for you to celebrate the Fifth Anniversary of Life is Messy Bootcamp – giveaways + a brand new website for all my messies + a mini movie I’m so excited to premier. I can barely contain myself.


Whether you decide to join us for an all new season of Life is Messy Bootcamp or not, I truly believe this series can transform your life + give you the basic framework you need to breakthrough + experience miracles this year + every single one after that. And if you ever find yourself in a painful plateau, you know where to find me.


One last favor, if it’s not too much to ask. If you have a friend, a loved one, looking to accomplish BIG things in 2015, it would mean the world if you could point them in this direction. THANK YOU for helping me spread the word with the fancy social media buttons below!


CLICK TO TWEET: Loving this calendar system to make 2015 the best year EVER! – http://bit.ly/1sHB9T3 via @mayicarles


See you mañana.



Mayi Carles


Life is Messy Bootcamp 2015 Ad