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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Giant tube of titanium white paint. I usually buy Americana (or Liquitex when it’s on sale.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
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?
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.
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:
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.
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.
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).
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.
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!
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.
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!
Organizing Your Planner
This is how I intuitively categorize + organize the sections in my Life is Messy Planners, in case you’re curious:
- 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 Pages (5)
- 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!
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.
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!
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:
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.
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.
FROM MACRO TO MICRO
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.
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.
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.
FROM TO-DO TO DONE
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.
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.
ALLOCATE TIME TO EACH TASK
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.
PLAN THE DAY
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
See you mañana.
Between the time you woke up today + now, did you think of anything you needed to do that you still haven’t done? Have you had the thought more than once?
Do you let your mind run a lot of the show, especially where the too-much-to-do department is concerned. Feels like you would need the entire Yedi Council to step in + clean up all that mess.
Ever feel like your head is about to explode? Explode from information overload? Explode from too many unexecuted ideas? Explode from all the things that needed to get done a long time ago?
I know, it happens to me too.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably made many more agreement with yourself than you realize, and every single one of them, big or small, is being tracked by a less than conscious part of you. These are the “incompletes” or “open loops”, which I define as anything pulling at your attention that doesn’t belong where it is, the way it is. These can include everything from really big to-do items like “Save the pandas”, to more modest “Hire a photographer”, to the tiniest task such as “Replace batteries in A/C remote”.
It’s very likely that you also have more internal commitments currently in play than you’re aware of. Consider how many things you feel even the smallest amount of responsibility to change + finish + handle or do something about. To a degree, you feel responsible to deal in some way with every new e-mail that lands on your inbox. Even your projects have areas that need to be defined. Again, responsibility, responsibility, responsibility.
Why Things Are On Your Mind
Most often, the reason something is “on your mind” is that you what it to be different than it currently is, and yet:
- You haven’t clarified exactly what the intended outcome is.
- You haven’t decided what the very next physical action step is.
- You haven’t put reminders of the outcome + the action required in a system you trust.
That’s why it’s on your mind. Until those thoughts have been clarified + those decisions made + the resulting data has been stored in a system that you absolutely trust, your brain can’t give up the job.
You can’t fool your brain. It knows when you haven’t come to the conclusions you need to. It knows whether you’ve scheduled your dentist appointment, or not. It knows when there’s no milk in the fridge. It knows.
Even when you know what you need to do or the steps you need to take to resolve an issue, your mind can’t let go until you write yourself a reminder in a place it knows you will, without fail, look. Until then, your mind will keep nagging, will keep pressuring you + will keep stressing you out.
Don’t panic. Mayi here, to the rescue. Got my Hello Kitty. I mean business!
It’s actually pretty simple. In order to deal with all that you’ve got going on, you must (1) identify + collect everything that’s ringing a bell (ahem ahem, those things that bug you when you hit the yoga mat) + (2) plan how to handle them. That’s simply taken care of with a Mental Detox. Let me explain.
You see, everything we do (and thinking is also doing) takes up space in our lives. Sometimes these thoughts mutate into mental ulcers + mental fat + God’s sake mental cellulite, which is why we must detoxify. Why do people go on Juice Cleanses? Well, to give their body a much needed rest (maybe post one too many Oreos), so it can use all it’s energy to repair tissue + heal + shine. That’s why, I propose a brain dump, a Mental Detox if you will. Why? To give you back your focus + your productive energy + your down-time + your freaking life back.
You ready? Let’s do this!
Here’s what you’ll need is:
- A stop watch or kitchen timer.
- To set aside 30 minutes of your day.
- To download + print your Mental Detox sheet.
- Something to scribble down your crazy, sexy ideas. Yes, you can use your colored markers, Picasso.
- Follow the steps.
Here’s the step-by-step plan:
In order to eliminate all the holes in your leaky bucket, you need to collect + gather together all the things you consider incomplete in your world. Consider it an inventory of open loops. Anything you attach a “need to” + “ought to” or “should”. That’s an incomplete.
Grab your Mental Detox printable + spend the next half hour writing everything that distracts you + interest you or in some way consumes a part of your conscious attention. Big projects + teeny tiny projects + coherent thoughts + utter chaos + worries + don’t forgets + would be nice tos… anything that’s swimming around in brain la la land, get it on your paper.
It might be a project or a problem that is really in your face. Perhaps it’s something you are being pressed to handle. Maybe you have a vacation trip coming up that you need to make some mayor last-minute decision about. Or it very well may be inherited one million dollars + you don’t know what to do with the cash. Whatever it is, dump it.
By the way, if you catch yourself half way through saying “I’m done”, stand up, walk around, do a little one-woman dance party + sit your cute ass back down. Because just when you think you’re done, there’s always that one more things that’s waiting to come out like a fart. Sorry for all these poo-related references.
A note of caution: This isn’t the time to be picky or choosy. There are no wrong or right items to include in your Mental Detox. Everything goes on the page, because what stays in your head, unsaid + ignored + unaccounted for, well, it seeks vengeance when you’re sleeping. Don’t.
PICK A DATE
Okay. So, when the time is up, you will end up with something that looks like a doctors prescription – a barely legible page + filled with words that make little to no sense. That’s part of the plan.
Now comes the fun part. Can you guess what’s coming? Yeah, it’s time to group your doodles + scribbles by completion date. I need you to prioritize your items according to the following categories:
- What do you want to get done in the next day?
- What do you want to get done in the next week?
- What do you want to get done in the next month?
- What do you want to do in the next year?
There’s a little section on your Mental Detox sheet to do it really easily. You’re welcome.
EMPTY YOUR BUCKET
Emptying your bucket does not mean that you have to finish everything that’s on your basket, it just means you have to take it out of the Mental Detox container + give it a proper place on your calendar + decide what should be done with it next. Schedule it if you will in your Daily To Do Planner + Weekly To Do Planner + Monthly To Do Planner + Yearly To Do Planner. You get the drill.
Not emptying your bucket is like having empty pizza boxes that nobody ever dumps. you just keep on buying more Dominos pizza + never take out the trash. Yuck!
Of course, in order to do this successfully you need to have in place a management system you can count on. Many people try to get organized but make the mistake of doing it on Post-It notes + napkins + shoe boxes + scraps of last night’s sushi menu. That’s cute. It works for a while. Not anymore. You’re not goofing around here. You need a certain degree of logic to take your routines seriously. You need a robust calendar you respect, enough to never cancel your most important appointments, the ones with YOURSELF. You need bulletproof, nothing to lose. Fire away, fire away. Ricochet, you take your aim. Fire away, fire away. You shoot me down but I won’t fall. I am TITA-NI-UM.
Got too carried away there, didn’t I?
FIRE THE FLUFF
There must also be items on your list that that you have no emotional connection to + you couldn’t pick a completion date to, like that impersonal e-mail invitation you got (“Hey Blogger”) to participate in a Little Miss Blogger Summit. This is actually a good indication that the item needs to go. If you’re not excited to do it tomorrow + next week + next month + this year, the item doesn’t deserve prime real state space in your head. Unless it’s something mandatory like doing your taxes (which you can outsource too, you know), you have my permission to draw a line + let it go. Firing your ideas + projects is liberating. Trust me.
For the longest time I’ve been dragging around Fairy Tale dreams like: “I want to learn yoga + do those funky headstands people do on Instagram.” It would be nice. You know what also would be nice? To be able to offer my Life is Messy Bootcamp in 6 different languages including Spanish, which is my native tongue. It would be absolutely fantastic. A dream come true. This had been nagging me for the longest time until I got really honest with myself + admitted to myself that this is simply not top priorities for me right now + that’s okay. In that moment, I won my life back + I freed myself from this need to be perfect + have it all right now.
Free yourself from self-imposed dreams that are just not that important right this second. Remember you can do ANYTHING. Anything you want. Really. Just not everything at once. And that’s okay.
DO THIS NOW: Download your Mental Detox worksheet + follow the steps. Be sure to share your findings in the comment section below for a chance to win cool prizes. Including a FREE membership to Life is Messy Bootcamp.
You ready? Let’s do this!
When you’re done with this Mental Detox exercise you will, by default, have in front of you a reliable Master List, the kind that will keep your to-do planners busy, but good-busy, like getting-the-stuff-that-really-matters-to-you-most-done kinda busy. You didn’t think this was all about dumping, did you? Oh no, no, no. This is called Life is Messy Challenge for a reason; we recycle crap + turn it into diamonds, baby!
It Doesn’t End Here
Look, I know this isn’t rocket science. We just didn’t re-invent the wheel here. I’m sure that at some point in time you’ve gotten to a place in a project, or in your life, where you just had to sit down + make a list. So you know this works. The thing I’ve noticed though is that you do this kind of list-making drill when the sh•t hits the fan, when the confusion gets unbearable + you just have to do something about it. Or… or…. or you usually make lists only about the specific area that’s bugging you. Why are we like this? My gooosh.
Imagine a world where you made that kind of review a characteristic of your ongoing life + work style. And you maintained it across all areas of your life + work, not just your most urgent to-do’s. You’d be practicing the kind of black belt management I teach in Life is Messy Bootcamp.
Make an appointment with yourself to do this exercise at least once every quarter. I promise you, it will change your life + business forever.
That’s it for today.
Tomorrow, I will show my trusted calendar system for getting things done like Beyonce. Stay tuned!
Whether you decide to join us for an all new season of Life is Messy Bootcamp or not, I truly believe this 5-Day Life is Messy Challenge can transform your life + give you the basic framework you need to breakthrough + experience miracles this year + every single one after that.
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!
See you mañana.