Thursday, January 24, 2013

Making A List, Checking It Twice

Now, Christmas may have come and gone, but I still think it's appropriate to take a cue from Santa himself. Make a list and check it twice. Recently, I've learned that this is the approach that works best for me.

So, I make a list for everything. Lately, it's the only way I've been able to get anything done. I have about a million things running through my head and countless tasks that need to be taken care of, so it's no wonder I find myself quickly overwhelmed when I'm ready to start my day.

On my journey to domestic bliss, I've been working on how to make a good, productive list instead of wasting hours making lists that I never even glance at again. I've always had a strange penchant for office supplies, weird I know, but that means that over the years I have collected a lot of different items for list-making. From post-it notes and plain white paper, to Kate Spade day planners and Apple devices, I've tried just about every mode of list-making there is.

For me, a piece of paper that says "To-Do" at the top isn't ideal. Sure it works, but it's a starting point really. It's a place where I can collect my thoughts, but it doesn't help me prioritize and it doesn't motivate me. Yes, I have to motivate myself; I have to tell myself exactly what to do and when to do it. Otherwise, I write down an incomplete list of some things that I need to do and then leave the list strewn somewhere, only to be recycled later. Usually at that point, nothing from the list is actually accomplished, but I've created an updated one somewhere else.

While I love that my iPhone, iPad, and iPod all sync together so that I have all my events and reminders are in several places, typing out specifics feels like it takes too long and it's harder to edit than just being able to quickly hand-write and scribble on. I feel somewhat limited in what I can list because of the formatting and if I have many things going on at once, they tend to get muddled together. That was the problem I was trying to solve in the first place!

I've checked out an array of websites with ideas, some that have really worked for me, and others that have failed me miserably. I'm still trying to figure out what works best for me, what ultimately will make me more productive. As I continue my journey, I will be sharing some more of these ideas and reviewing what works and what doesn't. Check back soon if you're into list-making, too. Or leave a comment below with you're favorite list-making tips!

And in the meantime, if you love visually appealing lists and organization tools, check out this adorable website I found, complete with free pre-made lists to print! Hello, Cuteness!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Take On Thank You Notes

Today I realized it has been exactly one month since my baby shower. I figured that now was the best time to write my thank you notes while I'm still anxiously awaiting the arrival of my little girl and while I still have a free moment. As I started collecting all of the things I needed to write my thank yous, I wondered what the proper time frame for sending them out was. Was I already late? Still within the window? I decided to do some research as part of my journey to domestic bliss.

It was hard to find a definitive answer about the time frame for sending out baby shower thank yous. In general, it seems that thank you notes should be sent out within one or two weeks of receiving the gift. Personally, I think that time frame seems a little short, but maybe that's because I'm already well outside of it. Four weeks feels like an acceptable amount of time. Four weeks gives a person time to enjoy their gifts and gives them time to recover from the party that they may have had. I certainly don't want people stressing out about having to get thank yous out right away when I give them a present.

Anything longer than four weeks may be pushing it, but it seems that the rule "better late than never" applies to thank yous. I have to admit, I agree with that. If someone has generously spent their time and money to give me a gift, really the least I can do it write a little, personal note to show my gratitude. Back in September, I went out of my way to pick up a gift off a friend's wedding registry. Having never received a thank you note, I still wouldn't mind if I got one now, even though it's been over three months. It is something the perfectionist in me took notice of without even meaning to, but it is also something the imperfectionist in me understands and forgives. Do you remember when people don't send you a thank you note?

Moving past the time frame, the way I see it, the task of sending out thank yous is a two part task. There's the addressing of the envelopes and then there's the actually writing inside the card. Let's break it down.

While doing my research I saw many complaints about addressing the envelopes. Many times people suggested having guests fill out their own envelopes at the baby shower, giving the mom-to-be one less thing to do. While I've been asked to do this before, I'm not a big fan of this approach. It just seems to me that this wouldn't fall into the "proper etiquette" category. And more than that, presumably you just mailed invitations to all of these people. Here's my suggestion: Use your online address book to make address labels. Provide the host of your baby shower with one copy for invitations (something I'm sure she'd appreciate) and print off a second copy to use for your thank yous. It takes no time at all! (Every Christmas, I use this same approach. I create my labels by doing a mail merge in Microsoft Word. Our Christmas cards = domestic bliss. So why not take what works and apply it here?) I have heard the argument that it's impersonal not to hand-write the envelopes, but I think as long as you're handwriting something personal on the inside of the card, the envelope doesn't really matter. People are just going to recycle it anyway.

Now, the second part, writing the message on the inside of the card, that's the part that I find daunting. I never know exactly what to write. It's best to keep it simple, but specific. You should thank the gift-giver for their specific present, and if possible, say how you're going to use it or what you already used it for. One suggestion I came across in my research was to write in the voice as the baby. While I think it's sort of sweet, it also sounds a little bit crazy. If you're going to do that, I would say at least wait until the baby is born. My favorite tip is this: type out your message first, and then hand-write it. This may sound a little more time-consuming, but it really isn't. You can probably type a lot faster than you can write, and you can edit what you say a lot easier. It's also great for spell checking! Decide what you want to say and then quickly copy it down into the actual card.

And there you have it, my take on thank you notes! I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject, too. Comment below.

Thursday, January 10, 2013


While I'm not necessarily new to blogging per se, I've decided to start a new blog now that I've learned a few things from my past experiences.

The reason I decided to start this new blog is because I'm starting a new venture in my life. Getting married two and a half years ago and then purchasing and living in our very first house shortly after, in the last few years, life has been all about adjusting. But as they tend to do, things are changing again and we are anxiously awaiting the arrival of our first child. Our baby girl is due in just ten short days!

So yes, it is probably the craziest time to even think about starting a new blog, seeing that life as I know it is about to change forever, but I find writing is therapeutic in a time of chaos. It's when I can best tap into my feelings and emotions and usually the writing process helps me to organize my thoughts in a way I normally couldn't. We'll see if it actually lasts, but hey, it's helping me in the meantime and that's what matter most, I suppose.

The reason I tended to stop blogging in the past was because of my obsessive need to be perfect. I needed to write a perfect post about the perfect topic and include a perfect picture to boot. Needless to say, that became an overwhelming and impossible task and slowly I stopped writing all together.

That obsessive need I have to be perfect carries over into pretty much everything I do. I find myself unable to start tasks at times because either I know I won’t be able to do it perfectly, or I know it will take every ounce of energy I have to get it perfect (or at least to meet my high standards anyway).

My goal for this blog is to help myself as I journey this new path of motherhood while still adjusting to married life, homeownership, and my general lack of skill in the domestic goddess category. And if I can help someone else along the way, then that would just be icing on the cake (that I made from a box, not scratch). Let’s face it; we could all use a little help sometimes.

Will I strive for perfection? Yes. Will I find it? Not likely. How will I deal with it? Only time will tell. I invite you to share my struggles and triumphs with me and hope you’ll share yours with me, too!