Spring cleaning for your website

There's spring cleaning for your home and for your paperwork, but what about for your website? 

It's not far fetched to need spring cleaning for your website either. It's important to see what needs updating and removing on a regular basis, and now is the perfect time to check in with your website.  

Here are some things you can do to make sure that your website is spring clean and ready to go.

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1. Look over your banners and graphics  

Are they updated with your fonts, colors, images, etc? If not go ahead and fix those and post them to your website. I have a few to fix myself.  

2. Check all your announcements or promos

Are your announcements and promos up to date ? How old really is that intro announcement on your website, or that pop up box for your email list? Updating these regularly shows you're active on your site. 

3.  Clean out any coupon codes if you have them

If you have an online shop linked to your website, then you probably have coupon codes stacked up from some point. Make sure you're cleaning out any old ones you don't plan to use anymore.  

4. Check your bio and update it 

Is your age up to date ? Are you going on a different path now than when you started? Don't just check your bio here, but your business bio as well aka your mission statement. Make sure both of these things are still relevant to you and your brand. 

5. Check for typos

Totally guilty. I almost never check for typos. 🤦‍♀️ I know, I know.  It's something I have to start doing. (Watch there be a typo in this post). Seriously though. If not in your blog posts at least check your website. ESPECIALLY your homepage. That's your first impression. 

6. Clear out your media history  

I know you do it to. You upload pictures for your website and they sit in that little media library section for the entire year. Yeah. So make sure you go through and clear out any old pictures, videos, files, etc. 

 

Do you spring clean your website already? What are some things you do? Leave a comment and let me know !  

How to plan your content for the new year

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Content planning can be a pain. There. I said it. Truth is, it doesn't have to be ! Often times we make it more complicated than it has to be. I have a process that I use that made content planning super easy for the new year. I finished the first quarter of the year already and it only took about an hour. So I figured this process was worth sharing !  

1. Brain dump ideas  

The first thing I do when I start my content planning is to brain dump ideas. I literally just write down any idea that comes to mind. It's a little more organized once I'm finished, but step one is to brain dump away. I love to look on Pinterest for blog post ideas or inspiration from the pins I saved. Often times I'll find ways to put my own twist on certain topics. 

Tip:  Once I'm finished brain dumping, it's smart to recycle some ideas that i didn't use from last year if I still need to fill in some spaces. 

2. Categorize them  

I personally categorize my blog posts into 4 different main sections. Productivity, business, social media, and blogging. I like to try my best and get one of each topic to write about per month. This helps to make sure my content is always fresh. 

This takes a little while because sometimes it'll fit into more than one section, but it helps to see what I'm working with. Plus I'll be able to tell if I have too many in one category, and basically none in another.  

3. Holiday posts  

I always make room for holiday posts if need be. For example in December I did a girl boss holiday gift guide. So for January i try to focus my posts around starting fresh, February I'll have a couples related post (It's a unique twist so stay tuned!), etc. try to think of what's going on during the month. Are people focused on school, is there a holiday coming up, is it vacation season, wedding season, etc. These posts are important because they can bring in lots of traffic since people can relate. 

4. Make a monthly spread  

I like to physically write out my months and how many posts I'll be posting a week. For 2018 I've decided on one post a week for now since I'll be writing a little more in depth versus shorter posts. Quality versus quantity am I right ? So that's 52 blog posts overall, and there's 4 weeks in a month. So for example I'll write out "January" and 4 lines under it. Then I'll decide what blog posts I want each week and write them in. 

I personally like wriing it out by hand. However you could use spreadsheets, Google docs, etc. For your layout. Google spreads even has a calendar template you can use. I tried it last year with my videos and I loved it. 

You can also click here to get my FREE digital blog planner

It's up to you how many months you want to do at a time. I recommend doing this monthly spread every quarter. I hear about people planning their whole year at one time, but I'll be honest I tried doing that and it just didn't work. Not because I couldn't think of ideas, but because I like to post based on what's relevant. Talking about net neutrality might not be that important in a few months. If I'm using a new program this month and decide to post about it in a few weeks, I may not be using it anymore. Do you see what I mean ? My suggestion would be quarterly or even monthly. I decided to go for the quarter and see how that works. 

There's no one right or wrong way to do this ,  but this was the quickest way for me. Leave me a comment if you do something different !  

See you guys next time. Stay productive ! 

How to plan your week in less than an hour

** This is a guest post by Alex Weaver. Scroll down to read more about her! **

Do you often find yourself overwhelmed throughout the week with so much to do? Do you procrastinate your chores, homework, errands, or other tasks and then feel rushed to get it all done in one day? Well, I have a method for planning your week that will allow you to plan your schedule, spread out your tasks throughout the week, and set goals for yourself.

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First things first, you need to know what you need to do for the upcoming week. This can be done many ways. Some people pre-plan using sticky notes, others preplan in another planner. Some people use weekly sticky notes to write out events. It is important to keep track of upcoming events so that when you sit down to plan you don’t forget anything, and you can appropriately schedule your time. Once you pre-plan your week with the big events, you can take a look at the other things that you need to do.

 

Some events have to be completed on a given day, so make sure you allot time for that event. I suggest keeping a running list of errands, chores, and other tasks that you need to accomplish the next week. Then, when you sit down to plan, look at errands you may need to run throughout the week. Do you want to grocery shop, run to the post office, get your hair done, and pick up dry cleaning all in the same day? Do you want to space these errands out so you have less going on each day? It’s up to you. But remember that each of these errands, tasks, or chores take time and you need to make sure you have time to do it on the days you schedule it.

 

After you plan your events and errands, you can tackle your to-do list. Your to-do list may include tasks that you want to get done during the week but don’t have an exact time frame. These events you may want to space out as well, or maybe you want to do them all at once. It depends on you and your schedule. Say I have to do 2 papers, read some chapters, do laundry, clean the house, and more. Personally, I don’t want to do this all in one day. Instead I may delegate one task per day.

 

The last step to planning a successful week is setting goals. This can be anything you want. Maybe you want to not eat out that week. Or you want to journal everyday, or keep track of your meals. Whatever it is, writing this down and tracking it will make that goal more concrete and will encourage you to stick to it. You can track these goals using habit trackers or creating a habit tracker sheet in your planner. Setting goals is all about improving yourself--don’t set goals that you know you won’t keep, or that you don’t want to complete. Once you make it through a week and you fulfill your goal, you will feel great and accountable for your actions.

 

The key to successfully planning your week within an hour or less is that once you create a schedule, stick to it (as best as you can). Once you decide your schedule doesn’t matter, you will procrastinate and then you will end up having to complete all of your tasks in one or two days, and personally, that causes extreme anxiety for me. So to plan a week in an hour or less, it is essential that you:

  1. Pre-plan
  2. Schedule your events, errands, and other tasks.
  3. Delegate your to-do list.
  4. Set personal goals.

 

I hope these tips help you plan in a more efficient way and help you not be lost at the beginning of the week. Delegating my time is one of the most effective strategies I have encountered so that I don’t feel overwhelmed because I procrastinate.

 

Thank you for reading!

Alex

 

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Alex Weaver is a 21 year old college student in Omaha, Nebraska studying Early Childhood Education and aspires to be a teacher to young children. Alex utilizes her planner and other organization tips to ensure success in her classes. Her Instagram (@craftycollegestudent) shows her weekly planner spreads, crafty hauls, and more.  head over to her blog craftycollegestudent.com for more amazing blog posts like this one! 

The importance of your planning system

Many of us don't really know or care about what planners we use. You probably didn't even know there was different kinds of planners either. Don't worry though because before 2015 I didn't either. I thought there was just the typical target planner with the cute cover and the same horizontal boxes for the days with the tiny note section at the bottom. I thought that was it, and boy was I wrong.

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I started seriously planning August of 2015. I had used a paper planner all my life, but it was then that I decided to join the community. People were using planners I never even heard of before. Erin Condren, happy planner, Filofax, and more. All these planners I never knew about soon became added to my phones dictionary and come up in my suggestions all the time.  

Your planning system should be an extension of you, and it should suit your needs. For example there's hourly planners, daily planners, vertical layout planners , budget planners, meal planners,  blog planners, etc. 

Using the wrong planner can result in a loss of productivity, lack of organization, or lack of clarity.

For example when I was using my normal target planner, I was barley getting anything done. It didn't help me organize my day at all. I was writing things down and never getting to them. I bought a Kate Spade agenda and it was too big to bring with me, so I never used it. 

Also don't be afraid to use multiple planners if you need to. I use 2 different planners. One is more of a ring bound bullet journal, and the other is my hourly planner.

For me these two planners go hand in hand and increase productivity.

Your planning system should:

  1. increase productivity
  2. improve clarity
  3. decrease stress
  4. increase time management skills
  5. work together with itself
  6. encourage you to use your planners daily

If these are not happening for you, then it's possible you need to make a few adjustments either in the purposes of you planners, or the actual planners themselves. I always suggest people try out the bullet journal method at least once so they can create their own planners to see what works before spending money on an actual planner. Sometimes the bullet journal method ends up working out and they just stick with it. 

Experiment with different types of planners, and find one that helps. Run through the checklist above until you find a planner that ticks off all of the above. For me, this is the Passion Planner, and my Kate Spade personal planner with bullet journal style inserts I made. It took me nearly 2 years to figure out that this is what worked, but I found it and that's what matters. 

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below this post.

As always, thanks for reading!

 

How to outsource your vacation plans & boost productivity in the process

** This is a guest post. Please be sure to scroll to the bottom to read about the author!

Have you ever had the desire to travel but put off the idea because it seemed like too much work to plan?  Or have you ever thought, "I need a vacation..." but then felt too anxious to step away from your business or your responsibilities for a week?  Vacations are fun, refreshing, and necessary.  Planning them can be a lot of work.  Here's the secret to outsourcing your travel plans so you can keep focusing on the important things.

 

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Why We All Need a Vacation

No matter who you are, you need a vacation now and then.  It is an important source of self-care.  Stepping away from your home and your desk helps you to recharge and allows your brain to flex a different set of muscles.  When you interrupt your daily schedule and place yourself in a different environment, you open yourself up to new ideas and an influx of creative thinking.

In my last job I worked as an aerospace engineer at a launch company in Central California.  During launch seasons I would put in up to 60 hours a week and then go home to work on my blog.  It was exhausting.  But one of the best ways I found to recharge was a weekend trip to Disneyland.  Instead of focusing on task lists, procedures, and contingency plans I could spend a weekend focusing on imagination, positivity, and family.  In fact, I got some of my best ideas wandering through Tomorrowland.  That mini-vacation was just what I needed to head back into my job with a clear head and renewed energy.

How to Outsource Your Vacation Plans

So how do you plan a vacation when you already have too much on your to do list?  You outsource it.  Travel agents and full-service vacation planners are on the rise.  They can assist you with anything from simple weekend trips to global adventures.  Their services go beyond booking hotels and flights and include features such as the following: providing customized itineraries, booking activities and dining, providing personalized recommendations, answering questions,  and serving as a concierge throughout the entire process.  The best part is that often these services are available at no additional cost when you book with the agent.

Choose your destination and research travel agents that specialize in that type of trip.  You want someone who knows more than simply what hotels are in the area (you can discover that yourself); find someone you can connect with who truly understands what you're looking for in your vacation.

My business is centered on Disney, so I like to joke that I act as a "personal Fairy Godmother".  My goal is to handle all of the research, phone calls, emails, and planning so my clients can free up their time to focus on their other priorities.  I also love to come up with creative ideas that allow my clients to be fully present in the moment and feel completely free to enjoy their time away.  Your time leading up to a vacation should be filled with excitement and anticipation, not more stress!

Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii

Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, Hawaii

 

How to Stay Productive While on Vacation

Speaking of which, how do you take a vacation when you have a job that needs you?  It's been estimated that over 40% of Americans who receive paid time off don't plan on using all of their vacation days.  That number doesn't even take into account the many self-employed business owners who feel like they can't leave their business for a week.  Everyone deserves a great vacation. The two keys to enabling yourself to travel are planning and automation.

When I plan a vacation for myself, one of the first things I do is look at my work calendar.  What deadlines do I have that fall during that week?  What major projects do I have coming up?  I make three lists: what needs to get done before I leave, what has to get done during my trip, and what needs to get done as soon as I get back.  I minimize each of these lists by evaluating the priority of each task.

My next step is to get ahead on routine work that would need to be completed that week.  This includes social media posts, blog posts, follow ups, and newsletters.  The secret here is automation!  I write my content and emails in advance and schedule them to go out during my trip.

Due to the nature of my job, sometimes I have deadlines fall during my trips that cannot be moved.  This is when I make sure to set aside some time during my vacation to stay productive.  I check that my hotels have sufficient Wi-Fi and schedule specific time blocks to get done what needs to get done.  Then I put work away and go back to enjoying my trip and my family.

How to Let Your Vacation Fuel Your Productivity

Vacations are a great tool we have for boosting our own productivity.  The anticipation of an exciting trip helps us to push through the stressful moments and the boring routines.  Upon our return, we find that we can face our work with a fresh mind.

Here are a few easy ways to continue the benefits of the experience long after you sit back down in your office:

  • Frame some photos from your trip or set them as your desktop background
  • Listen to music you enjoyed or create meal plans that include new cuisine you discovered
  • Set aside time each day for creative brainstorming
  • Continue the concept of taking frequent mini-breaks, such as a short walk every 90 minutes
  • Include simple self-care practices into your daily routine
  • Start planning your next vacation

One last tip: Create a list of items to address when you return BEFORE you even leave for your trip.  Be sure to factor in time to sort through emails (you know your inbox will be full, so just plan ahead).  This way you'll be prepared to hit the ground running!

Vacations help us to take care of our bodies, minds, and spirit.  They keep our minds active and they support our productivity long after we return.  Just remember - you don't have to do it alone.


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Jessica Tullino

Jessica Tullino is a concierge vacation planner specializing in Disney Destinations.  She runs Imagineered Vacations, an affiliate of Ears of Experience, LLC.  She helps busy clients plan stress-free trips so they can spend more quality time with their loved ones without adding more projects to their lists.  She is a proud military spouse, a mother of two, and writes weekly for her Disney blog.

Website: www.imagineeredvacations.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/imagineeredvacations

Instagram: www.instagram.com/imagineeredvacations

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/earsbyjess

 

How to Stay Organized During the Semester

**This is a guest post ! Please see the bio below to check out this wonderful contributor

Another August, another year of classes! August and September mark the beginning of most college students’ semesters, and along with that comes the stress and anxiety of preparing for another year of homework, projects, reading, and exams. While it may not be possible to completely eliminate that anxiety, I have some tips that may help reduce anxiety while also improving your success for the semester!

 

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Map out your class schedule

Once you have signed up for classes, I suggest creating a “map” of what your weekly schedule is going to look like. You could do this online via an app such as Google Calendar, or you could create a handwritten grid of your schedule. Having a visual of your classes and free time will allow you to see when you are in class and when you have time outside of class. From here you can start to think of the best times for you to study and work on assignments. For example, I have a 3 hour break twice a week between classes and I have already planned on using that time on campus to complete homework and assignments. I also put this schedule in my planner so that I can easily flip to it and see my schedule.

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Assignment Schedule

One of the newest things I have utilized for the upcoming semester is creating an assignment schedule. Once you have all of your syllabi for your classes you can begin to map out your entire semester based on due dates that are provided. I use google sheets, but you can also use a word document, excel, or a similar program. I color code the months, and categorize assignments based on the due date, class, and a description of the assignment. This digital schedule is easily accessible and shows a linear outlook on your semester. This can also be printed and put in your planner for more accessibility! 

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Study Schedule

Once you have mapped your class schedule and your assignment schedule, you can sit down and determine what tasks need priority on a week-to-week basis. I suggest doing this on Sunday or at the beginning of your week depending on your class schedule. You can use the same program for your assignment schedule or google calendar for this. Looking at your class schedule and referencing your assignment schedule, you can allot time during the week to complete assignments for that week or the upcoming week. This can keep you focused and on task during the semester by allowing you to visualize what assignments need to be completed when. This can also prevent procrastination, the more you plan and stick to your plan, the less you will be rushing assignments at the last minute. 

 

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Organizing Paperwork

During the first week of classes you are typically given many forms, paperwork, and syllabi. What do you do with all of that? Instead of putting it in your backpack to be forgotten, create a system that can keep you organized all year. I use folders and binders to organize important forms that I do not want to lose. I have a folder for all of my class syllabi, a folder for assignment schedules (if provided), and a third folder for important paperwork that doesn’t fit with the other two. I keep all three folders in one binder and label it “Important Papers” or something similar. 

Plant time for YOU

It’s easy to get swept up in the business of college life. For me, being constantly busy and working on assignments can cause me to stress out if I don’t have any free time. Over the last few years I have learned how important it is to plan out time to relax and rejuvenate yourself for the week. This can be anything from taking a bubble bath, doing your nails, taking a nap, relaxing and watching a movie or a tv show, anything that makes you excited and relaxed. This should be a time that you look forward to that motivates you to get work done; it is a reward for your own hard work. I schedule time usually on the weekend to do my nails and it is a calming and relaxing time for me to forget the stress of classes for a few hours!

There are my most popular tips and tricks for preparing for a successful and organized semester. Many of these ideas are not originally my own; I combine a variety of strategies I have witnessed from many other people via pinterest, youtube, and instagram. These are great resources to look to if you want to learn more ways to organize and prepare for college, or life in general! I hope you take at least one of these tips and see how it can improve your semester. Good luck!

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About Alex

Alex Weaver is a 21 year old college student in Omaha, Nebraska studying Early Childhood Education and aspires to be a teacher to young children. Alex utilizes her planner and other organization tips to ensure success in her classes. Her Instagram (@craftycollegestudent) shows her weekly planner spreads, crafty hauls, and more.