My Morning Routine

Today I embark on a new habit: my newly designed morning routine. In the upcoming months I will work toward engraining this into my daily schedule. I've had a number of routines over the past year, but believe I have finally landed on my ideal routine.  

The reason for a solidified morning routine is two-fold: It will instill a sense of structure to my days & it ensures that I am focusing on my goals and accomplishing what I set out to do each day. 

Let's get into it!

  1. Wake at 4:30 a.m. Waking up this early seems a bit extreme but the rewards are pretty great. It is a very peaceful and calm time of day. No footsteps coming from the resident's apartment above me, no dogs barking outside, just quiet and darkness. This also allows for the viewing of the sunrise, which is always something pretty special if you stop to soak it in. 
     
  2. Breath. I take 4 large breaths in the morning. This is a simple, albeit, random thing to put in my morning routine, but it does serve a purpose. Taking large abdominal breaths in the morning helps rid your body of carbon monoxide and gives your organs a burst of oxygen. Trust me, you'll feel much better if you start doing this. 
     
  3. Drink water. I drink 16oz of water almost immediately after I wake up (often with some lemon). This fires up your metabolism, hydrates you (your body hasn't had liquid for 8 or so hours), helps your body flush out toxins, and may help with that hunger feeling of yours. 
     
  4. Take Pablo for a walk. Walking Pablo this early is great! We have the neighborhood all to ourselves. In the summer, we catch the sunrise, in the winter, we'll embrace the darkness. 
     
  5. Make Coffee. That's pretty self-explanatory. Everyone needs coffee, amirite!?
     
  6. Read / Write / Edit. I am setting aside an hour each morning to catch up on reading, writing (which I am doing now), and editing photos or videos. This will help thwart that late night stimulus before bed. I can now rest easy that an article or edit is just on the other side of a good nights rest. 
     
  7. Exercise or meditate. Good early morning behaviors tend to lead to better decisions throughout the day. If I've exercised or meditated in the morning, I'm less likely to eat poorly or waste the day lying in bed. At least, that's how it works for me. 
     
  8. Shower. Er'body gotta keep themselves clean. I normally utilize hydrotherapy during my shower. What is hydrotherapy you ask? Well, I constantly switch between warm water and cold water. I'll spend 2 minutes in warm, then 2 in freezing cold. I cycle through this 3 times. When the body is exposed to cold water, the flow of circulation goes inward (toward your organs), when the water is warm, the flow of circulation goes outward (toward your skin). This is a simple way to increase the rate of detoxification and move those nutrients around in your body. P.s. You'll hate it at first, but you'll grow to love it. 
     
  9. Get Dressed / Say bye to Pabs / Leave for work. Once the shower is over, I simply put on my outfit, toss some kisses Pablo's way, and start my long and arduous 7min commute to work (note the sarcasm). 
     

So there you have it. My brand-spankin' new morning routine. What do you think? What's your morning routine? 

8 Things I've Done to Save Money

Most everyone has set up a budget at one time in their life. Over the years I've had a number of different 'budgets' that I had put together, but I could never seem to stick to any of them.  Below are the 8 things I've found (budgets aside) to save money and pay off my debts. 

  1. Spending Freeze. I've done this a number of times over the past year and it works great. Essentially, you put a spending freeze on all non-essential items. This includes entertainment, clothing, gadgets, etc (For me it was pretty much anything other than food & gas money). 
     
  2. Wait 30 before you pull the trigger. We have been conditioned to go out and buy things the minute we think we need it but the truth of the matter is, you probably don't. I've enacted a 30-day rule to my purchasing habits. Half the time, once the 30 days is up, I don't even remember what I was going to buy. 
     
  3. Minimize your monthly costs. At one point, I think I was subscribed to every streaming service under the sun. I had memberships still billing me that I hadn't used in months. There are two steps to this one: 1. Identify your reoccurring expenses (I do this by going online to my online banking and searching for reoccurring.) 2. Eliminate the unneeded services. $20 bucks a month may not seem like a lot, but it adds up quickly over the years. 
     
  4.  Make a list before going to the store and stick to it! Cut out the impulse buys by creating a list. If it's not on your list, don't allow yourself to buy it. Not only does this help by increasing your shopping time, it eliminates purchasing things you wont use or for groceries, may go to waste. 
     
  5. Drink Water. Yes, I know this seems a bit out-of-place but drinking water can help in many ways. 1. You don't waste money on sugary drinks or juices. 2. If you drink water before a meal you will eat less and save more food for later meals. (And for heavens sake, don't buy bottled water! Your tap is fine.) 
     
  6. Make your meals. Fast food adds up quickly; both in money, and in my case, pounds. Say goodbye to drive-thru's and pizza delivery, and say hello to your kitchen! I mean, that's why you have a whole room dedicated to preparing food AMIRITE?! I've found making food can also have very therapeutic qualities to it. 
     
  7. Quit your vices. If you drink, or smoke, or do drugs; STOP! Not only is this bad for you, you are probably spending too much money on it. Just Stop. Simple as that... (Well seek help if you can't just stop, but you get the idea). 
     
  8. Stop using credit cards. If you can't save and buy it outright, you probably need to re-prioritize the item (unless it's an emergency). Try not to use your credit cards. If you do use your credit card, pay off the full balance monthly (or at least try to pay as much as you can). Paying the minimum balance is a hole you will get stuck in with no return. 

 

Well there you have it! The top 8 things I've done to save money and pay off my debts. What do you do to save money? I want to hear about it in the comments below! 

3 Effective Ways to Tame Your Frustration

Over the past 5 months I've been focusing on becoming hyper-aware of my thoughts and my emotions. One thing that kept creeping up on me is my level of frustration for seemingly little things (e.g. a driver cutting me off in the morning, an individual who is unaware that their cart is blocking me from getting through the aisle, a co-worker not knowing something they have been trained on, etc). 

Now, I know that most of those examples are 'frustrating' or 'annoying' to most people, but I found that my frustration went from 0-to-100 very quickly. When I became conscious of my frustration level it was too late, I was already at 100 on the scale. I started to dig into this a bit and have found that the following 3 techniques have really helped me tame my frustration. I can now see the situation for what it truly is, take time to formulate my reaction, and allow myself to move on without becoming frustrated. 

  1. Let go of your expectations. This is a big one! Many of the expectations we hold for ourselves and others are irrational. Using the examples from above: I expect that if someone cuts me off they notice and give me the wave, or at least acknowledge some wrong-doing. I expect the lady in the supermarket to be aware of her surroundings and realize that her cart is blocking my path without me having to say anything. I expect a co-worker to retain the info they were trained on (even if that training was months ago). These expectations aren't necessarily irrational per-say, but they are projections of my own personal expectations onto others. 

    People tend to live in their own little world. And thats fine. When you can let go of your expectations, you no longer feel the need to become frustrated.

    I use these steps:
    a. Acknowledge the frustration mindfully (That guy just cut me off)
    b. Realize what I am expecting to happen (I am expecting him to acknowledge wrong doing)
    c. Let go of that expectation (He may not have realized he cut me off, even if he did, who cares. Life will go on)

     
  2. Create a Backstory. Tap into the potential reasons why others behaved the way they did. This is a good way to empathize with the individual while getting out of your own head. Rather than think, "That asshole just cut me off." Try to think of scenarios that person may be going through: "He must be late for work." "His wife must be in labor and he's trying to get to her faster." "Maybe he's having an emergency." "Maybe he's actually Jason Bourne trying to get away from the CIA operatives trying to kill him." "Man, he must really need to take a shit." (Yes... These thoughts should get that obsurd)

    You don't need to act on these. You don't need to figure out which is correct. You just need to come up with as many scenarios as you can. You'll find your imagination will take over and the previous feeling of frustration will be replaced with hilarious scenarios that may even make you laugh. 

     
  3. Soak it up and sit with it. Anger, annoyance, frustration; these are all natural emotions. They are the ebbs to the flows of life. You need these emotions to truly appreciate the happier times. If everything was always perfect, life would be boring as hell.

    I'm not telling you to go searching for anger, annoyances, or frustrations, but should they arise, sit with them. Try to deconstruct why you are angry, annoyed, or frustrated. Meditate on that feeling. It's perfectly natural to become pissed off if someone nearly runs you off the road. Sit with that emotion and consciously decide if you want it to effect the rest of your day. You'll notice as time passes your body will let those feelings subside. By keying into these emotions and what caused them, you can train your body to understand when you should thwart the feeling all together by using the techniques above, or when it is safe to allow yourself to hold onto those feelings for a bit.

I hope this helps! I'd love to hear if you've tried any of these and how they worked for you. Please leave a comment below with the techniques you use to tame your frustrations! 

 

My 10 Quick Tips for a More Enjoyable Life

  1. Prioritize: Pick 4-6 things that you truly care about. That truly add value to your life. Make a conscious effort to prioritize those over all others.
     
  2. Say No: Stop overcommitting. This could entail projects at work, planned events with friends, and even goals you have set for yourself. It's okay to let some of those things go in order to help focus on what's most important to you.

    TIP: I know that saying 'no' to goals you have set is a bit counter-productive. I find that people have far too many goals set for themselves. I was horrible with this. I'd have 20 goals and accomplish none of them because it was just far too many. Prioritize the goals, pick 1-3, and focus on those. Once a goal is completed, set another goal and start working toward it.
     
  3. Rid yourself of clutter: Clutter = a busy mind, needless stress, and wasted time. At least that's what it meant for me. Start to eliminate the things you aren't using. Don't fall victim to the, 'I may need that one day' thinking. If you haven't used it in the past 9 months, you can most likely live without it.
     
  4. Let go of the 24/7: It's okay to relax. Your brain actually needs it. You cannot be actively engaged for all hours of the day. It's a fallacy that people who take time for themselves are lazy. It's the contrary. People that are able to shut down for 1-2 hours a day are usually more productive when they are active.
     
  5. Mental AND Physical: Meditate. Practice mindfulness. The brain is just as important (if not more) than your physical self. Make sure you are spending time with it.
     
  6. Consume Less: Buy less stuff. Eat less junk. When you buy, make sure the object brings value to your life. When you eat, make sure the food is portioned correctly and adds the proper nutrients your body needs to remain healthy.
     
  7. Unsubscribe: Information overload is never a good thing. Pick the newsletters and e-mails that bring you value and dump the rest. You can always go and opt-in again should you miss it.

    TIP: There are many services out there that can help with this, but make sure they actually unsubscribe you vs. just block those messages from entering your inbox.
     
  8. Turn Of Notifications: We live in a society that expects immediate action. This is digital clutter. Turn off your notifications. It's an unneeded distraction that gets in the way of everything else more important.

    TIP: I use Apple's 'Do Not Disturb' feature. I have a handful of people in my 'favorite contacts' list. I get notified when these people text and call. For all others, I am not notified. I have a cadence to check my phone's screen every hour or so to see if I have missed anything. (If a caller needs me immediately, [e.g. calls, hangs up, calls back immediately], 'Do Not Disturb' will push the call through and notify me.)
     
  9. Stop Multi-Tasking: I'm sick of hearing, 'I'm an amazing multi-tasker.' I'm guilty of stating this. Technically I was, but I am an even better single-tasker. I now prioritize my projects and work on them until finished. That way each project gets 100% of my attention. If something more pressing arises, I adjust my prioritization.
     
  10. Don't take yourself too seriously: It's okay to be silly. It's okay to crack a joke. Life it too short to be serious all of the time. Go with the flow. Don't waste your energy on trying to be something that you're not.

Well there you have it. My list of 10 things that have improved my life over the past 4 months. Did I miss anything? What do you do that helps improve your day-to-day, share in the comments below. 

5 Common Misconceptions About Minimalists & Minimalism

Over the past few years the idea of living a Minimalist lifestyle has been growing in popularity. Minimalist documentaries are popping up on Netflix, the tiny house movement is in full swing, #vanlife is a thing, and individuals are starting to leave social media in droves.

In our day-and-age, popularity is often accompanied with misinformation. Below are the 5 common misconceptions pertaining to Minimalists and Minimalism.

  1. Minimalists deprive themselves: Individuals do not adopt the minimalist lifestyle to suffer. It's quite the contrary. Minimalists identify which items add value to their lives and let go of all the others. This allows them to focus on what truly matters to them. 
     
  2. Minimalism is a weekend project: Minimalism is not a point-in-time event, it's an ongoing pursuit of doing more with less. It's the constant evaluation of your possessions and what is important to you.
     
  3. Minimalists never spend money: Sure, there are some minimalists that are frugal, but it's not a prerequisite for considering yourself a minimalist. Since adopting minimalism, I do save more, but I'm also not afraid to spend money on an item or trip that will spark joy.
     
  4. Minimalism is a form of religion: An individual does not need to be religious to adopt minimalistic values. Nor is minimalism, itself, a religion. However, if you look closely, most religions do bear minimalist values. I would argue that Buddha and Jesus both fit the minimalist description.
     
  5. Minimalism is about the number: Some minimalists are more extreme than others. There are individuals that own less than 100 items, but there are also minimalists that own a larger number of items. To me, it's about the balance, not the number. 

Have you heard of these misconceptions? Have you heard of any others worth mentioning? Let me know in the comments below! 

Improving Your Work / Life Balance By Taming Your Ego

Your Ego is a powerful personal driver. However, Ego often deludes us into thinking we are more important than we really are. When you begin to believe you are better, smarter, and more important than others, your work / life balance becomes threatened.

Below are 8 facts about Ego that everyone should know.

  1. You are not as important as you think you are. There are others that can do your job. When you begin to think that you're the only one that can do something, you block others from stepping in to help. You, in turn, work endless hours to ensure everything is done properly. This is a negative work / life balance.
     
  2. There are others who are smarter than you, and that's okay. You don't need to constantly have all the answers. It is perfectly acceptable to ask questions and be open to other's suggestions. Collaboration is part of the game.
     
  3. To that note, your boss doesn't always need to know the answer to your questions. Oftentimes I hear the argument, 'He/She doesn't even know how to do what I do.' In some scenarios that may be an issue, but in most, your boss doesn't need to know the intricacies of your day-to-day job. For instance, your CEO doesn't need to know every individual task associated with an internal process. She just needs to understand how the outputs of that process fit into the bigger business plan.
     
  4. Asking others for help is not weakness, it's a strength. It shows that you trust others to do great work. Proper work dissemination is a shared skill that you'll find in most respected leaders. 
     
  5. No one will remember or care how long you worked on something. It's the impact of the work that you did that will stick around. Stop bragging about working 60 hours per week. That's not something you should be proud of. I often notice myself telling people how long I have worked as a means of venting some frustration. But no one needs to hear it. 
     
  6. Busy ≠ Important. I run into a lot of people who are always TOO busy. At times, I feel I am too busy. When I start to feel that way, I start to look for things I can disseminate to others. Remember, a sign of a good employee is the ability to identify your own limitations.
     
  7. Stop telling others how busy you are. It's annoying and people don't care. Stop wasting your time talking about it and start spending your time on correcting it.
     
  8. Not taking time off ≠ a harder worker. Stop bragging about how you don't use your vacation time. Individuals who do not use the allotted vacation time often burn out more quickly. So in the long run, you're only hurting yourself and ultimately the company you work for. Take the time off. It's what it's there for. When you look back on life, you'll regret not taking it. You do not owe your company 100% of your time.

Remember, nobody's perfect. After writing this post I and can honestly say that I am guilty of doing at least 2-3 of these things in the past week. I am actively working on improving on the above list. It's tough, the Ego is a strong force to deal with, but over-time you will be able to overcome and take back some time for the more important things in life.

What do you think of the list? Do you agree? Are there things you find yourself doing? Let me know in the comments!