Those stats are scary, but the bottom line is this: most of us could be doing a little better with our money.
It can be difficult to start making changes with our money, and it can be even more difficult to make sustained changes. Sometimes we don’t need a massive money intervention, we just need a little kick in the pants to help us get it together.
Here are six ways you can challenge yourself to be better with money:
1. Track your spending… by hand
I’ve used Mint, YNAB, and other money tracking tools and I think they’re all great. It’s so easy to sit down at the end of the month or year and see how much you spent, and where.
A few months ago, I challenged myself to track my spending by hand, in real time for a month. I carried around a little notebook and right after I spent money on something, I’d write it down. It was tedious, yes, but so eye-opening. I knew that I pretty much eat my budget each month, but by tracking things by hand and recognizing when I was spending money, I was able to dial things way back and cut back on some of those mindless splurges.
Try it for a week or two and see if you notice any spending behaviors that you want to change.
2. Do a no-spend month
A no-spend month is a great way to reset habits and save some extra cash quickly. The idea is that for one full month, you don’t spend any money other than on a few necessary things like rent, transportation, and basic groceries. If you really want to go big, track each purchase that you make during that month — you’ll be very in-tune with your spending habits.
Before you start your no-spend month, pick a month where you don’t have obligations that are going to make this impossible. Then write down a list of your exceptions — the things you will allow yourself to spend on for the month. This will normally include rent, fixed expenses like your phone bill and internet, and very basic groceries. Lastly, write down a list of free activities that you can do so you don’t need to feel like a shut-in for 30 days.
If this sounds easy, trust me, it’s not. It’s challenging to still remain a social person while eschewing after-work drinks to find an activity that costs $0.
3. Read (or listen to) one money-related topic each week
Very few of us learned about money in school, but there’s no reason we can’t play catch up now — and we have all of the resources that we need right at our fingertips. Challenge yourself to learn one new thing about money each week. Read an article about investing, listen to a podcast about real estate, or pick up a basic personal finance book (my current favorite: The Simple Path to Wealth by JL Collins).
Even just thinking of a question that you don’t really understand the answer to and googling it can give you great information. Don’t feel like you need to take a deep dive into personal finance — building up your knowledge slowly is a great place to start.
When my husband and I were dating, he would take a few hours each month to, in his words, “do his finances.” We were 22, earned very little, and I had no idea what he could possibly be looking at.
I finally asked him to walk me through what doing his finances entailed, and we went through his thorough and pretty magnificent monthly review process. When we got married we set up our own monthly check-in, which includes:
Reviewing spending from the past month to check for fraudulent charges or mistakes, and make sure our spending isn’t wildly out of line
Looking at savings accounts and debt and see if we’re making progress towards goals
Talking about upcoming big purchases
Paying bills, canceling subscriptions, and any of the other random to-do’s that pile up during the month
Your monthly review process will likely look different, but challenge yourself to spend a little time each month just looking at your money. If you want to be good with money, the best place to start is to understand your financial situation.
5. Auto-escalate your savings
Want to challenge yourself to save more money without actually having to do anything? Many 401k plans will offer auto-escalation — that is, they’ll automatically increase the amount that you’re stashing away for retirement each year. Here’s why this is great: you don’t have to think about whether you can afford to save more — it’s taken out of your paycheck for you. Research shows that people who enrolled in auto-escalation ended up saving more than people who didn’t.
So dig up your retirement plan paperwork and find out if you can enroll in auto-escalation.
6. Adopt the 72-hour rule
I used to have an impulse shopping problem, most specifically with one retailer: Amazon. They make spending money way too easy.
The 72-hour rule helped me break this. If I’m considering buying anything other than necessities, I have to wait 72 hours before I let myself press buy. I’ll add things to my cart and if I still want it after 72 hours and I can afford it, I get it. It’s simple, but not easy. Enacting this rule has created a huge shift on what I buy and how much stuff I bring into my house.
If you want to be better with money, just pick one thing on this list to challenge yourself with. When it comes to money, small changes can really lead to big results.
I always have my phone on me. I’m the millennial stereotype. I look at my phone first thing in the morning, before I go to bed, when I’m on the toilet (TMI? Nah), and I even keep my phone with me on the bathroom vanity while I’m taking a shower in case I get an important text that needs a response. Heck, I sleep with my phone IN my bed. I can’t get away, and for the most part, I’ve never been upset about it.
However, my family thinks otherwise. The amount of times I’ve been told I’m going to get cancer from having my phone so close to at all times is enough to make me freak out (but not to actually stop). I’m also constantly told by my friends that my anxiety and stress levels will improve if I just step away for a little.
After enough nagging (love you all!) from my friends and family and a little motivation to see if this would actually work (I was skeptical), I embarked on a journey to keep my phone out of my bed for a month. I’ll be honest, there were a few nights I slipped up, but for the most part, I kept my phone on my vanity on the charger every night.
I got fewer nightmares
I’ve gotten recurrent nightmares for a few years. Some nights, I can’t even fall back asleep after I’ve woken up from one of them, and I get worried before I go to bed that I’ll have one. It has negatively impacted my sleep over the past few years, and I’ve even taken multiple different medications in an attempt to get rid of them, and nothing has worked.
Since not using my phone, I’ve noticed a huge difference in the number of nightmares I’ve had. If I use my phone before bed, I almost always have at least one nightmare. It’s also impacted the vividness of my dreams. I notice I dream a lot less and it isn’t as clear when I’m not spending time on my phone just before I fall asleep. This has been the absolute best thing to come out of this experiment and what’s reminding me to keep going!
I had less anxiety in the morning
I have panic disorder as well as generalized anxiety, and I’ve struggled with mornings for as long as I can remember. I always get anxious about whatever big meeting or event I have during the day, and it can even make getting out of bed in the morning a struggle.
After not spending a month on my phone, I’ve woken up calmer and in a better state. I’ll sit in bed some nights sending myself messages on Slack (my biggest work hack but also my downfall sometimes) with reminders and ideas floating through my head. I’ll get into a groove and realize not only is it miraculously 2am, but I’ve somehow managed to stress myself out about every single thing under the sun. Putting my phone away makes me forget about all those things. Instead, I give myself 30 minutes in the morning for a brainstorm, and this has worked out so much better.
Not looking at my phone before hitting the hay has given me a lot more time to do other things aside from scrolling on a screen. While I can’t say I’ve read 20 books in the last month, I have gotten through a backlog of magazines and read all the articles I’ve been saving up for a rainy day. (I keep a “reading list” folder on my computer, and it was getting quite long.)
My skin was clearer
I’m lazy AF when it comes to skincare. I love experimenting and trying new products, but if my bed is calling my name, taking my makeup off takes a back seat. Usually, I’ll get in bed after doing whatever I planned for the night and scroll (and swipe, no shame) on my phone for close to an hour. Before I know it, I’m curled up with my blanket, and there’s no chance of me getting up. Sorry, not sorry. Then, I wake up with acne. Boo.
Putting my phone away before bed has forced me to create a night routine and stick to it. My skincare routine gets done every single night, and I’ve noticed a huge change in my skin because of it. I’m breaking out significantly less because I’m not sleeping in makeup anymore. Even when I’ve been out late, I force myself to take the time to do my skincare routine because I know I can immediately go to bed instead of dropping my phone on my face every two minutes.
I woke up less in the middle of the night
I’ve struggled with sleeping through the night for years. From my anxiety to the nightmares to my awful sleep schedule in college, I’ve never been able to recover. If I make it through the night without waking up at least four or five times, it’s a good night for me. Usually, I’ll wake up and not be able to immediately fall back asleep, so I go on my phone for a little bit until I’m tired enough to hit the hay again. It’s a horrible cycle, and I was ready for it to change.
In the last month, I’ve noticed a gradual change in how often I wake up. I’m beginning to wake up much less (about one to two times a night), and I’ve shifted my habits toward trying to fall asleep again immediately instead of going on my phone or responding to that text that can absolutely wait until morning. This is a habit I’m still working on, but the change I’ve noticed in my sleep is amazing so far.
What’s a girl to do when you’re too hot to wear pants, but want a little more movement and comfort than a dress allows? The 2019 fashion gods have blessed us with a style trend that’s not only the it item of the season, but is as comfortable as it is breezy. It’s what you wear when you want to be able to lounge on the grass (without flashing passersby), or look nice at rooftop drinks without horrid inner-thigh sweat — a romper or jumpsuit is the menswear-inspired merging of comfy shorts and stylish dresses that we’ve needed since women could *finally* wear pants 100 years ago. Stock up on the best options of the season — you’re not going to want to wear anything else until fall.
Job hunts can be exhilarating and exhausting. If you’ve started to search for a different role, you’re on the heels of an exciting new chapter. This can take some time, and it can be even harder in today’s market where certain roles are becoming increasingly competitive. Making big moves to a new company or industry can also set up a long-term job hunt. Here are 6 ways to stay encouraged to keep moving forward.
1. Do Some Diagnosing
Take a step back and spend some time diagnosing what your discouragement is really about. Is it taking longer than you expected to find a role you like? It might be worth level-setting your expectations on timeline and revisiting with some mentors and trusted colleagues to talk about how long they think the search might take. For many expert industries and senior-level roles, it’s not uncommon for months of networking and casual interviews to go on before you work your way to a firm offer.
Are you discouraged to find that you’re less competitive for roles than you hoped? In these instances, it pays to solicit some honest feedback from interviewers wherever possible. The last thing you want to do is keep throwing resumes at a job you’re not a top fit for. Knowing what skills you might need to take a step back and build could actually save you time in the long run.
2. Get Honest Feedback
Sometimes not getting discouraged is about not repeating the same mistakes that put us in the same outcome. When I was on an almost year-long job hunt, I came out of countless interviews thinking I had done pretty well, was reasonably a good fit for the job, and ultimately… super discouraged after never getting that final “offer” call.
It wasn’t until I took a really structured feedback approach with a trusted senior mentor that things started to shift for me. We did a mock interview, went over the job descriptions of the last five jobs I’d applied for, and talked through my background and aspirations. They were able to highlight that I was really incorrectly interpreting a few job descriptions in the industry I was trying to break into, and their insider knowledge completely changed the types of roles I started to apply for. Without this guidance, I would have had no idea I was sending myself into repeated dead ends.
Granted, this can be a big ask of a mentor, so you might even find it worthwhile to invest in professional services in your area if you’ve been on the hunt for a while. A hunt that’s not resulting in an offer means that something on some level is out of alignment — skills, applications, resumes, expectations. The faster we can get honest feedback and redirect our efforts, the faster we can find the right fit for us.
3. Revisit the Corners of Your Network
Ever heard of an eigenvector score? It’s one of my favorite nerdy words, and if yours is high, it means you have really interesting contacts across industries, demographics, and other categorizations. We all have edges of our network that are a little outside of our normal working world, and strangely enough it’s really where the magic can happen when it comes to job hunt-related networking.
Instead of scanning the normal recruiters, expert senior leadership, and favorite companies you’re dying to work for, scan the outer edges of whatever you consider your personal rolodex. Pick someone who you’re sort of connected to that works somewhere you have zero interest in working, in a job you know nothing about. Share an article about their industry, ask them to coffee, or encourage them to share their story about how they got doing what they do.
This will have a couple of outcomes. Because they’re unlikely to be able to be an immediate degree of assistance to you, you’ll have really authentic conversations about navigating career journeys. You’ll also get access to a whole new network of people you might not expect, because this person is outside of your core “web” of contacts. And while it sounds cliche, you truly never know who people know. Challenging yourself to question who in your network is “helpful” when it comes to a job hunt can refresh our perspectives in discouraging times.
If you’re working away at this regularly, chances are your to-do list looks the same each time you’re on the hunt: tweak resume, check job board, call a recruiter or contact, send a few emails, etc. This can get extremely mundane and routine, diminishing the impact these tasks can have on your hunt. On the days you’ll throw something through a window before you can stomach sending another “New Opportunity” email, add something more substantive to the list.
Maybe today’s job task is to watch a talk on executive presence. Or it could be to attend a professional networking event in an adjacent profession’s line of business. It might even be to go back and read old copies of performance reviews or school projects to reconnect with some of your achievements. Freshening up the tasks on your list gives your brain new ways to work on this goal and diffuses the drudgery.
5. Book Blocks of “Job Hunt” Time
If you’re hunting for a new job, it’s a pretty omnipresent feeling (even more so if you’re under- or unemployed). When I personally survived a stretch of that time, it was hard to not allow it to be every waking thought that sneaks through. And sometimes it was even harder to let go of feeling “guilty” if I wasn’t spending any spare hour doing something to further my search.
In all reality though, we’re setting ourselves up for failure with this structure. Your interview muscles, job hunting brain cells, and over-achiever instincts need to get wound down every once in a while to be at their peak performance. I found that batching job-search-related tasks for big blocks of time did a lot to improve my psyche, instead of the feeling of constantly chipping away at little things.
6. Reconnect with Your “Why”
On days it’s hard to hang in on the hunt, revisit what you’re in it for. Bring in the larger perspective of how your efforts will either help support your family differently, give you a new intellectual challenge, or allow you to demonstrate greater leadership.
Revisiting your “why” might also take some honest questioning that if a job change isn’t essential, you might be able to achieve your why through other means. Is it time to start a business to grow your income and take on a new challenge? Do you need to revisit how your current job could be retooled for remote work or ported to a new city? Sometimes we get blinded to the idea that a new job will solve all of the problems in our working lives and beyond. It’s worth checking in with your “why” to see if there are other ways you can meet the nudge for newness.
Our careers make up a large part of our lives. We go to college to get a job, we spend time (and money!) to perfect our resumes to land our dream job in our field, spend 40+ hours a week trying to build our portfolios and make a name for ourselves, and we still have over 30 more years to go before retirement. So, we might as well make it as good as it can be, right?!
Career advice is some of the most sought after here at The Everygirl, but it’s not one-size-fits-all. Not all of us struggle with the same issues, and what some of us have figured out keeps others up at night. But we found the best way to give career targeted career advice to a large audience: the Enneagram! Our favorite personality test might be the best way to learn how you can boost your career, improve your productivity, and reach all of your goals.
Ones are all about improving themselves. They’re called The Perfectionists because they want everything around them to be good and done correctly. They’re responsible and detail-oriented, making them strong candidates for jobs that require precision and accuracy. As an employee, you can count on them to turn in quality work. With their perfectionist nature, they are their biggest inner critic. They worry that their work isn’t good unless it’s perfect, which can disrupt deadlines or cause issues when working with a team. Understand what makes you a strong employee and leader and own it. Growing your confidence in the workplace will improve your quality and quantity of work.
Relationship-oriented, caring, and supportive, twos are all about helping others. They make amazing coworkers and team members because they’re all about being there for every member of the group. When you’re creating friendships at work, make sure you set boundaries. Is this person just a work friend? Are you going to talk about work outside of the office, or is your friendship and work relationship separate? Keep these questions (and answers) in mind for a seamless relationship that is beneficial at work and at happy hour.
I’m sure there are a lot of threes reading this right now! They love leadership development and being the best employee or manager they can be. They’re always trying to level up their career, and they take a lot of pride in being career-focused. They’re goal-oriented and feel accomplished when they feel appreciated and praised at work. Focus on building your career by finding your niche — where do you fit in your company? Are you the one who’s known for her amazing customer service and personality? Or do you excel at following data leads and executing projects?
The Romantic is idealistic and seeks meaningful experiences, especially in their careers. They long to create and show their artistic expression through their career, which makes them perfect for roles that require thinking outside of the box and discovering unique ideas and solutions for problems. Find ways to keep your productivity up to tackle your biggest goals, especially if a side hustle is on that list. Fours struggle with balancing their emotions with their logic mind, so focusing on your overall career goals instead of your goals within your current company will allow you to broaden your horizons.
If you’ve ever sat in your office and thought about how much more productive and efficient you’d be if you were at home, odds are you’re a five. Fives are analytical and enjoy having time and space to themselves to work. Talk to your boss about having a few work-from-home days a month. This will give you the privacy and energy you crave to accomplish tasks and complete projects on your own time.
If you’re in an industry with a lot of competition, you’ll want a six on your team. They are trustworthy and loyal and will work hard to discover the strategies to accomplish team goals. Sixes are hyper-aware of what’s going on around them, so they have a sense of perception that others might not understand. This also can make them quite pessimistic and anxious, however, and this can often cause them to focus so intently on their main goals while forgetting the small ones necessary to get them to the end. Look at your goals closely to discover the small steps you need to achieve them.
Sevens are amazing at staying in the moment, which allows them to be optimistic and adventurous. They’re the employees who will gladly take up new opportunities to travel to another office or try out that new productivity app the whole office is buzzing about. They love thinking ahead to future plans while keeping a fast-paced mindset on achieving and setting new goals consistently. All this can lead to burnout quickly, and the last thing a seven wants is to feel unmotivated and bored at work. To combat this, delegate tasks that bore you as much as possible and work on new, interesting projects as much as you can to get you excited again.
Competition is a daily source of motivation and drive for an eight. In the workplace, they’re leaders who take charge and ask the necessary questions to propel their careers further. They’re always looking for the next opportunity, whether it’s a raise, a promotion, or a new leadership role. Keep your career thriving by asking for more duties at work. This initiative will certainly impress your boss when it comes the time to discuss raises and promotions later in the year.
Nines are all about going with the flow, and when it comes to their career, they seek to harmonize and work with others as much as possible. They are easy-going and empathetic, so they understand and see all sides and possibilities of a conflict. While twos are typically considered the people-pleasing type, nines can often get caught up in trying to keep the peace in situations that actually call for a little productive conflict. Your relationships won’t suffer if you speak up about something that is bothering you — remember that, and you’ll start to feel more respected and confident in the workplace.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever had a near breakdown while trying to take a photo.
Me too, friend. But NEVER FEAR. Taking a good photo for your website doesn’t have to leave you in tears and doesn’t require a shmancy camera or expensive lighting equipment. All you need is a relatively cloudless day, your smartphone, and a taste for adventure. We outline each of the steps to taking a wow-worthy photo below, plus we’ve got a special offer if you’re ready to up your website game. Hey, you’re going to need something to beautifully showcase your images, amiright?
Before you pick up your phone, you’ll want to start thinking about what kind of photography you actually need. If you’re starting from scratch, choose a website template and gather the information you’ll need on your site before you start thinking about photography. Channel your inner organization goddess and make a list of your site goals. How can the photography enhance these objectives?
Remember, your website is primarily an information machine — whether you’re blogging, advertising your products, creating a portfolio — your audience is visiting your website to find out more about you, to read your latest post, to consider hiring you, etc. Photography plays a hugely important part, but you want it to complement the information presented, not overshadow the purpose of your site or confuse your viewer. And you definitely don’t want to spend a lot of time taking meticulously styled photos in natural light, only to discover that they don’t work when cropped to the size you need for the top banner of your site or they don’t match the overall look of the rest of your content.
The next time you see a flatlay consider what’s in the actual photo. It’s not just an open computer or a notepad. There’s a gold pen, a pair of artfully draped glasses, a cup of freshly-brewed coffee, a vase of blooming flowers, all of the above… you get the gist. The point is styling a photo means you’ll need a few props on hand to swap in and out and to fill out your photos and help make the final shots as website-worthy as possible. Having a lot of prop options on hand will also ensure that you can easily make adjustments as you’re shooting, which will save you time and sanity. Win, win!
Start by gathering anything you have on hand that makes sense for your brand and color palette. This could be everything from desk accessories to outfit options (if you’re taking headshots) to solid-colored backdrops. You can also cut out things later. Have you seen those flatlays with tiny little scissors or just leaves scattered across a bed? Nothing is too weird. Fill in anything you’re missing and have everything ready to go before you start shooting.
This is also the time to buy/grab anything extra you might need like a tripod or photo backdrops (hint: try a cheap white posterboard or a white sheet!) or a remote timer if you’re taking photos of yourself by yourself (we all know the struggles of the someone-else-is-taking-my-photo-so-I’ll-do-this-crazy-unnatural-smile conundrum).
Step Three: Choose Your Location + Find Your Light
Now that you know what kind of photos you want on your site and have everything you need at your fingertips, it’s time to figure out the best location and time to shoot. Will you be shooting outside? Does your apartment get a lot of natural light? Will you be posing in different locations — i.e., coffee shops, parks, etc.? Once you nail down the location, you’ll want to choose a time to shoot where the light is the most flattering (so you’ll glow instead of looking like a member of the undead) and shadows won’t obscure things like flatlays or product images.
You probably already know that natural light is highly recommended for beautiful photos that need a minimal amount of editing. But what does “natural light” mean exactly?? It’s become one of those phrases like “aesthetic” that you hear constantly and has subsequently lost all meaning.
For our purposes, natural light means non-artificial — i.e., no lamps or lightbulbs. Does your apartment have huge windows? Turn off all the lights and clear a space close to a window. Try taking photos at different points of the day and angles to see the difference in the diffusion of light, length of shadows, backlighting, etc. Natural light is usually best at two times of the day:
Blue Hour — the window of time before the sun goes up or after it goes down where the sky is still colorful, but the sun itself is no longer visible.
Magic Hour / Golden Hour — the hour leading up to sunset or just after sunrise
YOU MADE IT. You’re finally ready to spread your wings and shoot your shot. When you’re framing your photo, first consider the amount of negative space.
Negative Space — the space around and between the subject of an image
In general, you want negative space around your image to ensure it doesn’t feel cramped (i.e., leave room above the subjects head) and you can always go in and crop the photo later. Try placing the subject in different areas of your image and experiment with more or less negative space. When I’m shooting for my website, I always like to leave extra negative space in case I need to crop an image to fit in a vertical banner or if I want to have text superimposed over a certain part of an image.
When you’re ready to take your photo, ensure that the camera lens on your phone is clean and free of smudges/floating fingers. Hold your hand as steady as possible to take the shot, or use your tripod. Review the photos as you go and get a variety of different angles while you have everything setup. I always take about one billion photos at this point and you know what, I’ve never said “whoops too many.” It also takes a while to get into the groove of it, so don’t beat yourself up if you don’t like the photo on the first take.
The great thing about shooting with an iPhone or smartphone is that you can easily and intuitively adjust things like depth of field and exposure on screen as you shoot (no complicated buttons or weird settings to contend with).
Try Portrait Mode for a blurred background effect (can be used with people or objects as long as they are placed in the forefront of the shot)
To adjust the exposure before you shoot, tap the screen until you see a yellow box appear with a sun icon. Make sure you tap where you want the light to focus. Next, drag your finger up or down to increase or decrease the amount of light.
Turn off your flash (no seriously, turn off your flash)
Try turning on the grid to help you balance elements inside of the frame. To turn on a camera grid on your iPhone, navigate to settings, choose “Camera” and then toggle on “Grid.”
Okay, don’t panic. Now that you’ve finally clicked that shutter, you might be stressing about your photo not looking as great as you’d like it to… and that’s where editing swoops in to save the day. Because you can’t always engineer the perfect lighting or the exact right placement that missing that plug in the background.
Editing is a delicate balance. You want to gently boost your photo without overediting it to the point where it stops looking like a photo and starts looking like a Seurat painting. Here are the essential edits to know:
Exposure — Increasing the exposure will give you a brighter, whiter looking photo. If your image is looking a little dark or lackluster, try boosting the exposure a touch. Don’t go too far or you’ll overexpose the photo and lose the dimension and necessary shadows.
Contrast — Boosting your contrast will give you slightly sharper lines and more rich, intense blacks. A great option for adding a bit more depth to your photo.
Saturation — If your photo has a yellowish tint, try decreasing the saturation to pull out some of those tones and restore a more neutral cast to the picture.
Crop — I love a good crop and how it can instantly change the feeling and mood of a photo. You always have the option to crop, which is why it’s great to get as many shots and angles as possible while you’re shooting so that you have a lot of choices to pull from when deciding where to crop.
Size — You’ll want to ensure your photo is resized to perform optimally on your website. Raw photos directly from your phone are usually anywhere from 2,500 to 3,500 pixels wide, which will load realllllly slowly on a site. Resize your photos according to where you’ll be adding them to your site. Banner images should be around 1,200 to 2,000 pixels wide and regular images on your site should be anywhere from 400 to 1,000 pixels wide. If you’re using Squarespace, it does some of this work for you by automatically creating different sizes of a high-quality image when you upload it. Less work = more time sipping wine. Score. More on formatting images for the web here.
You can make a lot of edits directly in the photo app on your phone, but if you’re looking to get a little fancy, our favorite photo editing apps here at The Everygirl office are VSCO, Snapseed, and Lightroom.
The Step Six: Upload Your Photo to Your Site!
*Applause* If you made it here, give yourself a pat on the back because you just art directed, shot, and edited a photo for your website… all by yourself with just your phone. Now that your photo is edited and ready, it’s time to upload it to your site and make sure everything looks good before you hit publish.
Here is where I like to take everything to the next level (classic Kelly) by adding some subtle animations and hover effects to create a user experience for my website viewers. Luckily, Squarespace makes this easy to do with ZERO CODE (bless). Add animations (like a soft fade up or a sharp focus in) using the “Animations” tab under your image block in Squarespace. Add hover effects with just one click to reveal the image title and description on hover.
Some days, we’re really motivated at work, eat super healthy meals, feel naturally energized even without a 2 pm coffee, and are at a constant Elle-Woods-getting-into-Harvard-Law kind of peppy. Then, there are the days where we’re counting down until 5 pm while putting off our to-do list, grabbing a Chipotle burrito for lunch (you do know guac is extra, but this day calls for it) and having our 2 pm coffee at 1:30. Many of us call these days “life.”
But imagine a world where all your days feel energized, ecstatic, and happy — no, this isn’t Legally Blonde 3, it’s your actual life. Whether you’re looking to be healthier, get happier, or just trying to feel like you’re kinda doing the adult thing right, there are tips and tricks you could do today that will give you the kind of happy, motivated, healthy days that Elle Woods felt post-trial. Eat your heart out, Warner. Here are 13 things you can do today to have a better week.
1. Make your bed
It’s just a minor step in your day, but it makes a huge difference in your life, according to Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World. Completing a small task first thing in the morning will make you feel accomplished, setting the tone for the rest of your day and your week. If it’s a weekend, consider changing your sheets and washing your pillowcases and blankets — clean bedding is the perfect fresh start for the week ahead.
We’ve talked a lot about mantras and the benefits of finding the one that works for you. Whether you need to replace negative thoughts with positive ones, or you need a go-to phrase that provides a little pick-me-up when the workday gets busy or your kids are driving you nuts, find a mantra that you connect with, and repeat it to yourself when you need it throughout the week. Wake up every morning with your mantra in mind instead of your usual to-do list.
3. Meal prep veggies
Even if you’re not a big meal prepper, having veggies ready throughout the week will ensure that you choose healthy options, even when you’re in a pinch. Chop up cauliflower, dice onions, and wash lettuce to save you time during the week. Cooking healthy recipes has never been easier! If you are an avid meal prepper, spend a couple of free hours making delicious and healthy meals that can be reheated or repurposed for days. Try recipes that are low-carb, vegan, or made with a crockpot.
We schedule meetings and appointments in our calendars, so why not schedule workouts too? Depending on what’s going on for the week ahead, book pilates classes and hot yoga for the next few days instead of waiting until the day of/before. If you work out on your own, still put it in your calendar and honor it like you would any other meeting or appointment. Scheduling ahead of time ensures that you make the time to workout and will hold yourself accountable. Grab your iCal and your running shoes, and get ready for a week of fitness.
5. Set goals for the week
Knowing your goals in advance will make you more productive throughout the entire week. Think about what you want or need to get done over the next few days, including making a list of must-dos you’ve been putting off (i.e. scheduling a doctor’s appointment or cleaning out the fridge), as well as something you want to do but have been putting off like starting a meditation practice or pitching a new project to your boss. Also, think about specific health goals — run .5 miles more, lift the next heaviest set of weights, or eat greens with 2 meals a day. A week feels doable, so the goals are easy to reach, and you’ll feel so accomplished, you’ll keep up with the goals even after this week is over.
Because sometimes we just need to totally recharge, and what better way is there to recharge in 2019 than self-care? Spend some time caring for yourself, whatever that means to you. Whether it’s putting on a face mask, playing with your dog, or going on a hike, spend some time doing something that ignites your energy instead of drains it. Listen to music you love, cook a food you enjoy, or call your best friend to reminisce on funny memories.
7. Clean your makeup brushes
Say it again for the people in the back: you need to be cleaning your makeup brushes. Regularly. It’s perhaps the easiest hack that will give you better skin over time because the bacteria that build up on the bristles can clog pores and cause acne, dullness, or inflammation. Give your brushes a deep clean every couple weeks with makeup brush cleanser. Your makeup and your skin will look better.
8. Take 30 minutes to clean out your inbox
I’m a big fan of spending off-time and weekends doing non-work things (because mental health is a thing and we all need a break!). But if you spend just a half hour to go through your emails and get your inbox down to zero (or as low as you can get it), it will make you feel much more accomplished and less overwhelmed when starting work the next day — no Sunday scaries here!
9. …and then disconnect from your phone and computer
But once that 30-minute timer goes off (because you know I’m setting a timer or else 30 minutes turns into three hours), take a break from technology and unplug. A digital detox is not only crucial for your physical health (extended screen time can affect sleeping patterns, weight, and overall health), but it’s crucial for your sanity. A window of time dedicated to stepping away from screens and the ability to be reached at all times gives you a sense of peace and quiet that we never truly have with our iPhones in our pockets. It will lead to greater productivity in the moment and greater happiness over time.
10. Do a DIY beauty treatment
Grab your apple cider vinegar and your egg yolks because the best beauty treatments you can do can be made from ingredients in your kitchen. Not only will a treatment make your skin glow or your hair lush for dayz, but being able to make your own product will increase confidence as you figure out what exactly works for your body rather than trusting formulas in bottles and tubes. Try a DIY face mask or put olive oil in your hair for a shiny mane.
Because financial self-care is still self-care, you should be regularly checking in on your financial status. Go through your bank statement to make sure you recognize all the purchases, track what you’re spending money on, and use an app like TrueBill to track your subscriptions. Have a good understanding of not only your general financial status but where your money is actually going to will help you make smarter decisions throughout the week, whether it’s walking to work instead of Ubering or packing lunch instead of that Chipotle.
12. Lay out your vitamins for the week
If you’re anything like me, your pill situation is not a simple one-multi-vitamin-with-breakfast kind of deal. It’s a personalized vitamin routine, complete with beauty-boosting and gut-fixing probiotics. In 2019 when the options are limitless (and healthy!), why not add in some extra supplements that are backed by good research or recommended by your doctor or health coach? But a hefty supplement routine can also mean extra time spent remembering which pills you took and racking through cabinets to find the right bottle. Make it easy by sorting vitamins by days of the week for the next 7 days in a pill box so you won’t have to think twice, even on the busiest days (I’m nerding out over this super chic pink one).
13. Put something on your calendar you’re excited for
While it’s important to fill up your schedule with to-dos like business meetings and workouts (remember #4!), it’s also necessary that you’re scheduling things you actually love and enjoy. Whether it’s Bachelor Monday or after-work-drinks on Thursday, make plans with people you love that you’ll be looking forward to all week long. Even if most of your girl gang are last-minute planners, try planning hangouts ahead of time so you’ll have something to look forward to. It will make the mundane moments of your Monday seem so much less, well, Monday-ish, and instead of dreading the start of the new week, you’ll be looking forward to it.
Finding the perfect workout leggings is more of a challenge that it needs to be. When you’re working out, the last thing you want to worry about is how your clothes fit, yet it sometimes is everything you’re thinking about. How are we supposed to focus on busting our as*es at the squat rack or putting in work in that barre class if our leggings don’t fit right? (The answer is you’re not unless you’re an alien who has mastered the art of ignoring ill-fitting garments.)
I’m currently on the hunt for the best leggings (who else?!), so I enlisted the help of the experts. We talked to seven fitness instructors and trainers from all kinds of workouts (spinning, yoga, barre, weight lifting) about their favorite leggings to break a sweat in. BRB — trying them all!
I LOVE the leggings from All Access NYC. They have the perfect wicking fabric for super sweaty workouts like SoulCycle and they are also super comfortable with a wide waistband. I love them and wear them all the time.
I like these because they have a bandaged high waist. I feel hugged. I teach four to five hours back to back, and my pants still breathe. For $35, they hold up against the high-price leggings that I used to buy. These days Target get a lot of my money!
My all-time favorite leggings are the Nike One Luxe in black. I’ve found that these check all of my boxes — high waisted, black, ankle length, form-fitting with no squeezing or pinching, and most importantly no saggy crotch (aka they don’t fall down). Most of my workouts include some sort of interval/circuit training so I need leggings that I can do all the things in from running to lifting to rowing to yoga etc. I practically (read actually) live in these guys. May or may not be currently wearing them!
As a fitness professional, I've worn a lot of leggings and been introduced to a bunch of cool brands through studio partnerships. My favorite style of leggings are high-waisted full tights (to the ankle) with decent compression. They must pass the squat test, last through several washes, plus generally feel special. They also have to be a reasonable price point of $30-$70.
Some awesome brands that hit those marks are DYI, Athleta and my current favorite the Joylab line at Target. Joylab is superb quality at a killer price, totally inclusive on sizing and boasts awesome designs that are on trend. They have high-waisted sets that are flattering and won't roll down. Big Fan!
I LOVE working out in my Alo high waist Airbrush leggings. They fit like a glove, lift the booty, and hug all the things in. What does this have to do with working out?!? When ya look good, ya feel good!! And if you’re working out in a place that has mirrors, which most do, you wanna like what you see. You wanna look and feel like the badass you are! And my Alo High Waist Airbrush leggings do just that! Oh, and from a practical standpoint, they don’t leave sweat stains, they aren’t see through, and they don’t move when you do!
I workout and wash clothes A LOT! So, when it comes to leggings, having an inexpensive and reliable option is clutch for me. I’d have to say my go to leggings of choice are by 90 Degree by Reflex. They’re high waisted, they come in so many cute colors, they fit my long legs, they’re squat proof, and they have pockets! They’re an all around win for me.
I have say my favorite leggings to workout in are by ALO. They manage to make leggings that both look good and perform well during exercise. I have found that the stretch is just enough to hold them in place without feeling too tight and breathable enough without being see-through. Talk about a win-win! It is nice to find a pair of leggings that are flattering and functional!
Meal Prep Sunday is the hottest trend right now in health and fitness. Prep as many healthy meals as you can within a few hours on a Sunday, divide them into containers and you have nourishing meals all set to go for your work week. It saves you time, money and helps you stay organized and on track.
Ready to get on board? Here are 20 delicious recipes to add to your meal plan. Whether you are vegan, paleo, gluten-free or dairy-free–we’ve included something for everyone.
My girlfriends are amazing women and I’ve stood by several of them as they’ve married their partners, but for me, my wedding day was about marrying my husband, not worrying about whether I had the ideal number of bridesmaids at my side.
Yup, I’m part of the growing number of millennials who are discarding the wedding party, and instead focusing on an inclusive celebration that’s all about family, friends, and zero matching outfits. We’re focusing on creating experiences and adapting traditions to fit what works now. That doesn’t always include creating a hierarchy of friends — we want everyone to have a wonderful time, get down on the dance floor, and laugh until it hurts.
When my husband and I made the decision to go without a wedding party, we didn’t second guess it for a second, none of our friends questioned it, and we haven’t had a single regret since. It meant fewer logistics, no hurt feelings, no drama, and I still got to celebrate just as I would have with bridesmaids — bachelorette party and all.
Of course, it’s your day and if you’ve always dreamed of your best girls up there with you, do it! But, if you’re on the fence, here are just a few reasons to consider jumping on board with those of us waving buh-bye to bridesmaids.
There’s No Drama
If you’ve ever been in — or not been in — a wedding, you know the stress that comes with, “Well, I only want five bridesmaids, but if I have Sarah in my wedding, then I can’t leave out Ann, and that puts me at six.” or “I know Kristy and I aren’t close anymore, but she had me in her wedding five years ago, so how could I possibly go without her?!” Friendships are tested, and sometimes ended, over the drama of who’s in and who’s out — and let’s not even get started on discussions of who’s pulling their weight when it comes to bachelorette planning.
But, to my knowledge, no one has ever ruined a friendship over a bride deciding not to have bridesmaids. By the time most of us get married, we have friends from growing up, friends from college, friends from the real world — all of these friendships are different and beautiful, so why try to rank them?
Without bridesmaids, you may be wondering, “Who’s going to be there to celebrate with me?!” Don’t worry, just because your friends won’t be standing up at the altar in the perfect shade of bridesmaid pink doesn’t mean they won’t be excited to help ring in your wedding season.
You can still have your closest friends accompany you to try on dresses, you can absolutely have a bachelorette party, and your friends will still be thrilled to throw you a bridal shower or luncheon or whatever it is that you want to mark the occasion.
Bonus: You’ll Save Money!
There was an added bonus that I didn’t expect when I chose to go without a bridal party: I saved a significant amount of money. No bridesmaids means no matching robes for getting ready in the morning, no bridesmaid gifts, no offering to pitch in for their hair and makeup… the list goes on and on.
Think that going the no bridal party route could be for you? You would be in good company. Several big bridal publications, including Martha Stewart Weddings, have picked up on the trend in recent years. Just remember a piece of advice that was passed to me from a friend who also went without bridesmaids: make sure someone is standing by during the ceremony to straighten your train and grab your bouquet!