Some Tips for Working from Home

As I’m sure many of you also are, I’ve been working from home due to the current COVID-19 pandemic for a little over 2 weeks now. Previously, I’d been teleworking one day a week, but working from home full-time is an entirely different experience. While I adapted quickly to teleworking, I quickly realized working from home was going to take some extra considerations on my part, so I figured I’d share some of those tactics I’ve been using with you all.

Get Dressed Every Day

While it’s tempting to wear comfy clothes all day, I’ve made it a point to still get up and get dressed as though I’m going to work each morning. I get to sleep in a little extra because I’m not actually commuting, but I’m still at my computer every morning at 7:45AM ready to work and also ready for any surprise Webex meetings.

Fake a Commute

Two issues with working from home are the tendency to sit all day and also the lack of a concrete beginning and end to the workday. To solve both of these, I’ve started hopping on my spin bike for 15 minutes at the beginning and end of each day. It not only closes my Apple Watch’s exercise ring for the day, but it also creates a beginning and end to my workday that has been sorely missing now that I’m not driving to and from work each day.

I also rigged up a makeshift laptop stand for my spin bike with some random things lying around the house, so if I’m feeling restless during the day, I can get a bit of additional activity in.

Engage All the “House Bots”

I think I got this idea from CGPGrey, but it’s simple and oddly effective. If needed, I try to start my dishwasher, washing machine, dryer, and/or robotic vacuum before I start working. It seems sad to say but I almost feel a sense of guilt for not working if they are. I also employ this on particularly lazy weekends or sick days, with the understanding that even if I feel like I’ve not done much, the “house bots” have at least done something to keep things moving.

Create a Dedicated Workspace

This one seems obvious, but I honestly put off having a dedicated workspace for much longer than I should have. When teleworking just once a week, I didn’t really see much of a point. I just grabbed my laptop and rotated through several locations (couch, patio, dining room table, etc) depending on the time of day and lighting in the house.

It took about a week of working from home full time to realize I missed some of the things I had at work like my extra monitor. I also realized how darn uncomfortable my dining room chairs are for sitting any longer than about an hour. Buying a chair cushion and pulling my old Apple Thunderbolt Display out from the depths of my closet were a must.

Do a Daily House Reset

This is a habit I got into before having to work from home, but I’m glad I did. Each day, I make sure to do a few basic things to keep the house in order. I don’t do them all at once. I generally spread them throughout the day whenever it makes sense so it doesn’t feel like a lot but doing them makes spending all day every day at home a little more tolerable.

At a minimum, these are some of the things I do as part of my daily house reset:

  • Make the bed when we wake up (This is actually possible right now since the other half is waking up with me.)
  • Scoop the cat box while I’m in the bathroom getting ready.
  • Empty the dishwasher while making my morning coffee.
  • Pick up anything that’s out of place as I’m walking around the house. I try to drop it off as close to the room it does belong in on my way to wherever I’m going. Our condo is essentially one long hallway so things are generally going one way or another down it.
  • Before bed, pick up any dishes and start the dishwasher.

Practice Self-Care

Let me start by saying I hate the phrase self-care. At the same time, I feel like we all really need it right now. For most of us, our lives have been upended by what’s going on. We’re having to deal with the reality of an awful pandemic that’s affecting just about everyone we know and love. We’re having to find creative ways to socialize with friends remotely. We’re learning to cohabitate (read: not fight) with housemates in closer quarters than usual, and if you’re like me, you’re also probably having to rebuild your entire work-life remotely in a time when work doesn’t always seem quite as important as everything else going on. None of this is normal, and it can be pretty overwhelming if you don’t take time for yourself.

I realized it’s way too easy to get caught in a cycle of scrolling through news, and if that’s the only thing you do, things start to look pretty grim. I’ve made it a point to carve time out of each day to practice mindfulness and think about what I’m grateful for, while also intentionally limiting my news consumption. I’ve also lowered some of the expectations for myself during this time. There are more important things to worry right now about than depriving myself of a piece of cake after dinner.

I hope everyone is doing well. If there’s any way I can be of help during this time, don’t hesitate to reach out.

More Efficient Meal Planning

I wanted to take a bit of a detour on the blog today and share something that I’ve been trying out recently to simplify things at home and save us a bit of money in the process. (Added bonus, it’s also helping me be more healthy so it’s also contributing to my year of health).

I received a copy of Cook Once Eat All Week for Christmas, and it’s been getting used just about every week since.

In essence it’s a cookbook centered on meal planning, but if by meal planning, you’re thinking you have to eat the same thing packaged into containers for a week straight, think again. The recipes are each quite different.

Meal Prepped Food In Containers

Prepped Ingredients from Week 1

The title itself is actually a bit of a misnomer. You don’t actually cook once. You actually cook throughout the week. What you actually do once is most of the meal prep, which cuts the time you spend on cooking during the rest week down to 10 or 20 minutes.

There are a few things about the book that have made it work for us more-so than other cookbooks or recipe services we’ve tried in the past:

  1. Each week is based around 3 main ingredients (usually a protein, a veggie, and a starch). This means we can save by buying things in bulk even though we’re only a household of two with limited freezer space.
  2. Each week features 3 recipes that serve 4-6 (plus two bonus meals). Well before this book, I found that planning for 3 dinners at home is the perfect amount for us each week. Three dinners (plus our usual night or two out or ordering carryout) usually leave just enough leftovers for lunches or nights when only one of us is home without throwing away a ton of food. This has taken a lot of the guesswork out of which meals to make each week. I just pick a week and those are my three meals. For larger families or those who prefer to eat in every night, I realize 3 meals isn’t enough, but for us, it’s just about perfect.
  3. Grocery lists are already made. Each week also comes with a pre-prepared grocery list meaning as long as we stick to those 3 meals, our grocery list is practically made for us give or take a few usual extras like milk, coffee creamer, or some time of fruit.
  4. Ingredients are straight forward. I’ve tried meal planning services in the past, and the one thing I couldn’t stand was always having to buy some obscure ingredient. Not only did this require a special trip to a grocery store other than Aldi, I often never used the items again. This book seems to feature pretty common ingredients. There have been a few items Aldi hasn’t stocked but they’re often pantry items I’ve reused in subsequent weeks. As we start to stock our pantry properly, I’m finding that our grocery list is becoming mostly just meats and produce.

Unexpectedly, I’ve found a couple unexpected bonuses as well:

  • Prepping everything on a single day means the kitchen only gets really messy for one day versus multiple days. Most of the messy steps requiring pots, pans, knives, and cutting boards have already been taken care of prior to cooking during the week.
  • It simplifies trash and compost. We tend to do our shopping and meal prep on Sundays or Mondays which happens to be around the time we set out our trash to get picked up for the week so most of the packaging gets thrown out almost immediately. I also keep our compost bin out and open while prepping so the bulk of our scraps get tossed into the bin all at once rather than having to open it several times throughout the week.
  • Last but not least, I find I’m getting more confident in the kitchen. I don’t mind cooking, and I’ve never been told I’m terrible at it. That being said, I tend to gravitate towards making what I’m comfortable with and that tends to be some variation of a cheesy chicken casserole found on Pinterest. This book has pushed me out of my comfort zone both in terms of flavors but also by helping me improve overall skills.

The book is composed of 26 weeks of recipes. Rather than working straight through from Week 1-26, we’re working through the weeks based on what’s in season (based on a chart included as an online extra). Thus far, we’re halfway through our 5th week and have made Weeks 1, 3, 4, and now 8.

Food in Casserole Dish

BBQ Chicken Broccoli Cauliflower Rice Casserole Before it went in the oven

Admittedly, some weeks have been home runs (e.g. Week 1) and others not so much, so I’m recording our thoughts on each week in Evernote in hopes that I can find at least several to rotate through. As an added help on my part, I’m also snapping photos of each week’s worth of prep and recipes and including them in Evernote as well. Not only does this allow me to have the recipes on my iPad while I cook, which I prefer, I can also pull up the recipes or prep instructions while I’m away from home if I need to. For our home run recipes like the Loaded Cauliflower Casserole from Week 3, I’ve also added just the recipes themselves directly to my recipe manager, Paprika, in the event we just want to make the recipe on its own.

All in all, this book has taken most of the guesswork out of cooking for the week. Cooking is almost fun again. We’re eating at home more and we’re eating much better too. Two thumbs up for this book from me.

One Word for 2020

Each year I try to set a one word “theme” for the year. It’s not a goal, but more of a guiding principle to keep in mind.

Another yearly tradition I try to do is recap the previous year and post the current year’s focus to the blog. In my mind, this is something I do every year, but in looking over my past blog posts, it seems to be less of an actual tradition than I thought. Whoops! (Note to self: Add “Post Yearly Theme Post” task to Things)

So since I didn’t post my theme for last year, I guess I’ll start my 2019 recap by sharing that it was “Intention.”

I had started feeling as though I was just blowing where ever the wind (or people in my life, rather) wanted to take me. As a type-A person, the added spontaneity was initially a breath of fresh air, but over time, my days became increasingly dictated by what other people wanted to do. As a result, I lost any sense of where I was heading. I figured that by being intentional, I’d regain some sort of control and hopefully find some sort of direction in the process.

In hindsight, I think a better name for the year’s focus would have been “boundaries”. It took the better part of the year for me to realize that I was blowing wherever the wind took me because I’d failed to set boundaries. While it seemed easier to go along with what other people want to do, I was losing my own life in exchange for everyone else’s in the process.

If I could pick the most significant takeaway from 2019, it’d be relearning how to “take up space” (as my therapist calls it) in my life again.

I started really thinking about things like:

  • What do I want in life?
  • What do I need?
  • What things am I only doing because other people wanted me to do them?

I still don’t have entirely clear answers on them, but I am learning to be honest with myself and others about what I will and won’t spend time on. This has meant saying no to more things, accepting that not everyone will be okay with my decisions, and most importantly reminding myself that saying no isn’t selfish or rude.

An unintended consequence becoming more comfortable with what I want in life is that I may have indulged myself a little too much towards the latter half of the year. I’d set a well-meaning intention to relax after a long week, but I’d do so by spending the day on the couch mindlessly shopping, snacking, and watching YouTube followed by going out for drinks and binging on mozzarella sticks and nachos while doing so only to feel awful the next day. Comparing my couch-potato tendencies to that of my significant other, who often spends his days playing hockey and ordering salads whenever we go out, only left me feeling more and more sorry for myself.

It was so obvious I needed to start exercising again and start eating better foods, but I’d reached a point where I felt too tired to do either. Instead, I spent more and more time on the couch feeling sorry for myself. By the end of the year, I’d stopped working out entirely and spent the bulk of my 2-week break on the couch.

So with that in mind, my focus for 2020 is health – both physical and mental.

I realize health is a pretty generic theme. Everyone wants to lose weight, go to the gym, eat better, and meditate more in the new year. It’s probably the most cliche theme I could pick, but considering where I ended 2019, I didn’t see any other option.

This year I’m not setting resolutions or goals to work out x number of days or lose a set amount of weight.

I’m simply asking myself, “What would a healthy person do?” whenever I find myself feeling resentful about my behaviors.

Would a healthy person watch YouTube on the couch all day?

Probably not.

But I’m also way too addicted to Gourmet Eats at this point to give up watching it completely. I could swap sitting on the couch for watching it while on my spin bike instead though.

Would a healthy person eat pizza rolls for dinner 5 days a week?

Probably not.

But I’m also generally exhausted after work. Expecting a gourmet meal every night isn’t realistic, but I can stock my kitchen with healthier options.

I usually wrap up my yearly focus posts by listing my specific goals for the year, but as I’ve already said, I’m not doing that this year. In fact, as I’ve gotten better at using my yearly focus to guide my decisions, I’ve been reducing the number of goals I set over the years.

There are a few I still do set like a yearly reading goal, and I obviously can’t ignore my work-related goals set by my supervisor. Aside from that, however, I’ve only set one goal for 2020.

For those of you who follow me on Instagram, you may have spotted a hint already in a post from the summer, but I haven’t actually shared anything on this blog yet mainly because I try to keep my private life private.

In any event, my better half proposed last summer, so that’s my one and only goal for this new year – to get married.

Do you set goals or a yearly theme for the year? If so, I’d love to hear what yours are!

Update & Brief Posting Delay

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I’m popping into the blog today to briefly explain my posting absence.

As some of you may know, my primary job is managing a help desk at a university. Our Fall semester started about three weeks ago which means I’ve been knee-deep in our busiest time of year.

Somewhere in those three weeks, there were also a number of events including celebrating my 29th birthday. (Happy belated birthday to me!)

Then, just as I seemed to be reaching the end of my busy season, I was thrown an unexpected curveball when a neighbor above me called a plumber to unclog a shared pipe in the building. It wasn’t until later that night that I discovered the plumber unknowingly unclogged the pipe by pushing it straight into my condo, and by that time, there’d already been extensive water damage caused in both my condo and the unit below me.

Thankfully, the issue was due to a shared pipe, so I was not responsible for the damages. It did mean, however, that for the better part of the past week, I was forced to deal with with a few sleepless nights, having to take off work, daily visits from a remediation company, almost deafening dehumidifiers and fans running constantly, and worst of all – watching along in horror as the flooring I was so thrilled about having put in when I bought the place were ripped up.

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While it doesn’t look all that bad in the photo, and admittedly it could have been a LOT worse, the concerning issue is that the flooring, which is now discontinued, runs throughout my condo with no breaks. Unless the pieces they gingerly removed are salvageable, we will be in for a lengthy fight and headache to have our homeowner’s association replace the floors entirely.

Normally, I try to post here every other week, but, admittedly, this is one of those cases where life even my best laid plans have been completely thrown out the window. Expect a new post in 2 weeks or so, as I get things back in order.

Top Photo by Oliur on Unsplash

Taking on the Chores CleanMama Style

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This week’s post is a bit of a divergence from this blog’s normal content, but these two changes in our house have had such an impact on my sanity, I couldn’t help but share. I’ll be back with a fun tech tip that leverages both Evernote and Things in 2 weeks.

 

I’d love to be able to tell you my house looks like one of those immaculate photos you find on Pinterest every day. Unfortunately, no house that people actually live in is capable of looking like that. More often than not, the kitchen counters are covered in that day’s meals. The dining room and balcony play host to a variety of hockey and music equipment, sofa cushions are thrown on the floor, and equal piles of laundry are sitting in the dryer, the hampers, and on the bed.

 

I’ve tried a number of methods to keeping the house clean over the years, but they all ended up being too complicated to keep up – even for me with my excessively organized to-do apps. (Spoiler alert: keep reading for a screenshot of how I’m using Things to manage household chores.) For the past few weeks, I’ve been trying out something different, and it’s working.

 

Adapted from Becky Rapinchuk’s Clean Mama routine, the house certainly isn’t spotless, but by tackling a little bit each day, it has been getting consistently cleaner. Even better, I’m spending considerably less time cleaning which is actually kind of mind-blowing.

 

Getting Started

First things first, I set up the house for to be incredibly easy to clean. I tossed all the old cleaners. I also gave up on trying to be one of those people who makes their own cleaning products. It seems like a great idea, but eventually you have to make more, and the added step of measuring ingredients becomes another reason to avoid cleaning.

 

Under each sink in the house I have a spray bottle of Mrs. Meyers Multi-Surface Spray. Each of the bathrooms also have Mrs. Meyers Tub and Tile spray and toilet bowl cleaner. With only three cleaning products to choose from, it’s no longer a question of which one to use, and because everything’s right under the sink where it should be, there’s no longer any question of where the cleaning products are. I keep bins of microfiber cloths in both the kitchen and linen closet, both of which happen to be conveniently at either end of the condo.

 

Daily Tasks

Every day, Becky’s routine recommends the five following tasks:

  • Make the Beds – Admittedly we don’t do this. I’ve never been a bed maker unless I’m feeling extra tidy. It’s also a struggle when you share a bed with someone who wakes up before or after you pretty much every day. That being said, countless people recommend doing this to set the tone for your day, so go for it if it suits you.
  • Check Floors – Our Neato vacuum takes care of the majority of this for us every day. (Thanks Neato. 🙂) I do have a small broom and dust pan in the master bathroom to sweep up around the cat box, but since we use pellets instead of clay litter this is a 2 second job most days.
  • Wipe counters – I’m a bit surprised to say I’ve gotten into quite the habit of wiping down the counters throughout the house any time I use them. Having the Mrs. Meyers spray within reach helps.
  • Clutter – I try to put things away while I’m walking around the house throughout the day, but I also have a few bins and baskets scattered around the house now for corralling the other half’s things (and some of mine too) when things get out of hand.
  • Laundry – This is another thing I don’t do daily, but instead weekly. More on that later.
I’ve also added a couple of our own tasks to the list:

 

 

  • Scoop the cat box – This is a daily necessity in a multi-cat household.
  • Empty the kitchen sink (and, if it’s full or nearly full, run the dishwasher).

 

 

Tackling these daily tasks takes maybe 15 minutes, and since I tend to do them as I’m going throughout my day, I don’t feel like I have a mountain of chores waiting for me each night when I get off work.

 

Weekly Tasks

In addition to the daily tasks, Becky recommends adding in a 10-15 minute weekly task each day of the week.

 

Mondays are bathroom cleaning days. I used to dread cleaning them, but her method is pretty darn easy. (Spray everything down. Let sit for a few minutes. Wipe from top to bottom. I’m simplifying here, but not much.)

 

Tuesdays are for dusting. It only takes a few minutes to run through the entire house with a microfiber duster. I might even consider it fun if I dare say so. Once I’m done, it goes in the hamper to be washed with the towels later in the week.

 

Wednesdays are for vacuuming. We don’t have any carpet, and Neato does a pretty good job at vacuuming the floors for us every day, so I use Wednesdays to vacuum things other than the floor (furniture, cat beds, air vents, ceiling fans, etc).

 

Thursdays are for washing the floors. I have a spray mop that I can quickly clean the floors with for this. This is one case where I do still make my own cleaning solution, but it’s easy enough to do, and it lasts a while. (Side note if you’ve followed along, you’ll notice I’ve already dusted and vacuumed up said dust on the previous two days, so the floors are already ready for mopping. Genius!)

 

Friday is considered a catch all day for things like your weekly review or meal planning. This means there’s no major cleaning on Friday.

 

Saturdays are for washing all sheets and towels. While this routine probably works great for a family, when your other half is a musician, Saturdays for us are pretty busy.

 

Sunday is technically a free day, but it has always been my laundry day for as long as I can remember so it made sense to just keep it that day. I now also change and wash the sheets on this day rather than doing it randomly throughout the week. I’ve found that by doing all the laundry at once on one day, I’m more likely to get into “laundry mode,” and therefore I’m much more likely to fold/hang everything as it comes out of the dryer rather than letting it pile up.

 

If you’re wondering where all the other monthly/seasonal household maintenance tasks are, I just slot these in throughout the week as time permits. It turns out that you actually have time to do things like wash the baseboards and clean the appliances when you’re only spending 15-20 minutes on regular cleaning.

 

As promised, here’s what it all looks like in Things.
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I had my doubts when I started this routine. I thought to myself, I couldn’t possibly keep the house clean by just doing those few things. I seriously cut my Chores list in Things in half. Somehow it works though, and my house is tidier than ever. Moreover, I actually find myself wanting to clean, so I’ll call it a success in my book.

 

Quick Condo Update

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I’m popping into the blog today for a quick post to explain my brief absence from posting.

It’s been quite a long time since I posted any updates on my condo. To be frank, not a lot has changed, so there haven’t been any updates to share up until today.

I’m pleased to say that a major project has been checked off my list in the past week.

My condo finally has new windows!

The builder-grade windows and patio door from the 70s that only served to keep the rain out have been replaced. The replacements already seem to be doing wonders for my energy usage. My Nest thermostat is already reporting my heat is running an average of 1-2 hours compared to 6-10 hours previously.

Of course, such a massive project has left my house and daily routines in shambles, so I’m still trying to play catch up to return to some sense of normalcy.

I’ll be back to my normal posting schedule soon.

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For those of you who haven’t read my About page, I’ve spent the last 4 years slowly completing a Masters degree, 1 class at a time. Well, I’m happy to report that the 14 hour days of this past semester are behind me (7:10-9:40PM classes should really not be a thing), and more importantly, so is my degree.

Ironically, the defining moment of finishing my degree wasn’t walking out of my final class or applying for graduation. For me, the strangest milestone was checking off my final task in Things and removing my School area, which marks the first time I’ve not had a School area in any task manager.

Now that I’m done my degree, the logical question is “What could I possibly do with all my free time?”

Of course, this question couldn’t come at a better time since I like to spend December reflecting on the past year and planning for the next. Thankfully planning comes after reflection because if anything’s clear, I did not slow down as I had intended. If anything I did the opposite, and I’m feeling it as we wrap up the year.

So for 2019, I’m going the opposite direction. I’m purposely keeping things simple.

My focus is on intentionality.

Instead of committing to new things, my intention is to focus on things I’ve already committed to – like all those house projects that have been on my to-do list since I moved in. (Hello, kitchen cabinet doors that are still sitting in the corner waiting to be painted.)

With that in mind, I will be taking a few weeks off, so this will be my last post of 2018.

Before I leave though, I want to say thank you to everyone who’s read this blog over the past year. A year ago, this blog was just another thing to check off on my path to maybe becoming some sort of writer in the distant future. Thanks to some major encouragement from my boyfriend and all of your amazing feedback, I couldn’t even begin to imagine this blog would be where it is today.

Thank you again, and warm wishes for the holidays.

Photo by MD Duran on Unsplash

An Experiment: Migrating from Evernote to Apple Notes

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The other day I got a crazy idea to migrate everything in Evernote over to Apple Notes.

Why you might ask?

Having my shared notes in Apple Notes while everything else lived in Evernote really bugged me – probably more than it reasonably should have, but such is my life.

The other issue nagging at me was having to pay for Evernote Premium. To be honest, I wouldn’t mind paying for the service if it weren’t for their 2 device sync limit seeming like a total cash grab. Also, I’m already paying for the iCloud storage so why not use it.

Making the switch was a bit time-consuming, but I really didn’t have to give up as much as I thought I would. In fact, in some cases, Apple Notes has actually turned out to be better.

What I’m Liking:

  • Sharing Things to Notes – It’s no surprise that Apple has baked ways to add things to Notes into just about every part of MacOS and iOS, with one notable exception which I’ll discuss a bit later.
  • Sharing Notes with Others – Sure Evernote allows you to share notes, but none of my friends or family use Evernote, so the feature was lost on me, and a big reason I was stuck using Apple Notes.
  • Simplicity of Design – I really started to notice the feature bloat of Evernote. (Evernote, if you’re listening, please let users with only one account hide the account switcher in the sidebar.) Apple Notes brings me back to a much more minimal design.06_20_18 at 12.11.23PM
  • Folder Hierarchy – I don’t need crazy folder structures for my notes, but Evernote’s insistence on a two-level hierarchy forced me to adopt some weird workarounds including prefixing my notebooks and using tags as a way to add additional levels. As long as you’re adding folders from a Mac, Apple doesn’t seem to care how many levels you want to have.
  • Apple Pencil Support – Evernote claims to have Apple Pencil support but it’s horribly laggy and a real pain to use. As a result, I was already using other apps, including Apple Notes to do any sort of Apple Pencil work.

What I’m Missing:

  • Searching Notes – You’d think searching notes stored in the stock notes app would be easy for a Mac, and if you use Spotlight, it is. Unfortunately, I use Alfred, and for whatever reason, Apple has chosen to store notes in a database that seems to be ever changing preventing any Alfred workflows from keeping up. For now, I’m searching my notes using Spotlight, which means remembering a separate keyboard shortcut. (The fact that Apple’s storing these notes in a database could also be a real pain if I ever need to get my notes out of Apple Notes, but I’m going to choose not to think about that right now because Evernote’s no better.)
  • Evernote’s Web Clipper – It’s really hard to come anywhere close to Evernote’s Web Clipper. Apple Notes can only save links to websites not a full page unless you do a web archive or save it as a PDF which requires a few additional steps. That being said, I was noticing Evernote’s Web Clipper had been doing some odd things to some of my clipped websites, so maybe not all is lost.
  • Note Links – I like to include links to other notes in my notes, as well as within Omnifocus tasks and projects. With Apple Notes, you can’t actually get a link to a note unless you pretend to share the note with someone.
  • Saving Email Content – My mail client of choice, Airmail, has native support for sharing content to Evernote, but surprisingly not Apple Notes. I frequently save important emails for reference, so this is one of my most frustrating features to lose. Surprisingly, Apple’s own Mail apps also lack any ability to share to Notes.
  • Tags – I didn’t use tags extensively in Evernote, but they were helpful in grouping things by topic without having to create a full-blown notebook. For now, I’m dealing with this by sub-folders, but I hope Apple considers adding tags in the future.

There are a few scripts and tools to help you migrate from Evernote to Apple Notes, but I opted to migrate most of my notes manually unless they were purely text-based, which meant this was a pretty time-consuming experiment. (Thankfully, it seems to be a successful experiment.) I’m nearly done migrating the last of my Grad School notes, but already I’m feeling a lot better having one single place for all of my notes.

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Top 4 Favorite Podcasts

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Taking a page out of Tiffany and Marco Arment’s podcast, Top Four, I thought it might be fun to do a quick run through of my top 4 podcasts right now.

I can’t remember what podcast actually started me down this addicting habit, but what an addiction it’s become. I listen to way too many podcasts these days, so many in fact, I do so at a cringe-worthy 2x speed just to get through them all. If I’m wearing my AirPods, you can almost bet I’m listening to a podcast. (By the way, my podcast app of choice is Overcast, and it’s free.)

Looking over my list, a few trends have emerged:

  • My tastes have definitely changed. My favorite podcasts used to be full of productivity tips and tech news. These days, my favorite podcasts tend to feature interesting stories and conversations between people I really enjoy listening to.
  • I may have a slight obsession with some podcasters.Merlin Mann and CGP Grey fascinate me. Not only are they incredible storytellers and conversationalists, some of the best tips and tricks I’ve learned over the years have come from listening to them.

So here we go.

#1 – image.pngDo By Friday – Discussions about current events, lots of laughs, absurd weekly challenges, and a whole lot of internet randomness brought to you by two of the folks behind Cards Against Humanity and Merlin Mann. What’s more to love in a podcast. I look forward to Alex, Max, and Merlin’s antics every Friday morning. Note to new listeners: this show has quite a few long-running bits so you might want to listen back to understand Powder Nation, Gary the Privacy Clown, scoot scoots, and plenty of jazz breaks.

#2 – image.pngCortex – If there was every one person’s mind I wanted to pick apart more than anyone else’s in the world (not in a creepy way), it’d be CGPGrey. The intentionality he lives by is incredible, and the relationship he has with Myke is great. (Pro Tip: Someone on Reddit shared a Google Doc listing all of CGP Grey’s tips over the episodes. It’s pretty amazing.)

#3 – image.pngBack to Work – Another Merlin appearance – Merlin and Dan are just incredible in this podcast. Don’t let the title fool you – it’s really not about work these days. Just two good friends talking about whatever strikes their fancy – Apple news, decluttering, comics, anxiety, and managing to survive without losing your mind in the world of today.

#4 – image.pngReconcilable Differences – Speaking of great relationships, I’ve really come to appreciate the conversations between John Siracusa and Merlin Mann. Topic wise, I’d compare this with Back to Work – meaning they cover everything and anything, but their banter back and forth is what makes the show.

Honorable Mentions

image.pngHello Internet – Another CGPGrey podcast. This one is a bit more topical. If you couldn’t tell by the title, it’s a show about random things on the internet (plane crashes, sports, hot stoppers, emoji, and Youtube) with a pretty dedicated group of listeners and long-running bits (that, unfortunately, include hating on the Maryland flag) just like Do By Friday.

image.pngReply All – This podcast has featured some of the most entertaining stories I’ve ever heard on a podcast. From tracking down those pesky tech support scammers all the way to their office in India to the mysterious person behind Pizza Rat, they never seem to disappoint. Their recurring bits of Super Tech Support and Yes Yes No are also surprisingly informative.

image.pngThe Girl Next Door Podcast – This podcast has become quite a guilty pleasure of mine. Kelsey and Erica talk everything from household duties and relationships to makeup and neighborhood gossip. Plus every episode starts with a cocktail. Cheers!

 

Photo by Barrett Ward on Unsplash

One Word for 2018

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Photo by freestocks.org on Unsplash

Like most everyone else, January is my time of thinking ahead for the year. I typically take off either the week before Christmas or the week after New Years to reflect, regroup and plan out the upcoming year. It’s a tradition I look forward to more and more every year.

Looking back over 2017, it was a crazy year that far beyond anything I could have planned. My word for 2017 was “acceptance,” and I hoped to get better at accepting all the things in my life I simply can’t change. Mindfulness played a big part, and in many ways, I’d say my year of acceptance was a success. Fewer things trigger my anxiety, but it’s still definitely a work in progress.

For 2018, my one word is “slow.”

Mindfulness has allowed me to notice that a great deal of my stress is simply due to my tendency to rush from one thing to another. Rushing leads me to feel as though I’m barely treading water, and it’s downright exhausting.

My year of slow will be focused on being present and intentional in the things I do. That means more paying attention to how I feel throughout the day, more focused attention on what I want to accomplish, and taking some time to enjoy all the incredible things I actually get to do.

Now, onto being present in the rest of my day.