Optimize Your Digital Life

Simple ways to organize your digital life.

Simple ways to organize your digital life.

Your digital life consists of all the pictures, documents, information, and whatever else is stored on your phone, your computer, or in the “cloud”. Most people’s are a mess; they didn’t realize they needed an organizational system until it was too late. They now have 12,000 pictures across two different computers and even more on phones and tablets.  They have a few hundred documents from work or school on their computers and a very primitive backup system, if any.  This is most people. If you aren’t this bad and you managed to get some control over your digital life, good for you! Give yourself a pat on the back, but keep reading because this could still help you.
If you run a business, are in school, or are very digitally active, cloud storage would be very beneficial for you. Whether or not you know it or agree, we are transitioning into the age of “The Cloud”.  The cloud is a buzzword that basically means you upload your information to the internet and the service you are using stores that information for you.  To sum it up further, whatever information you put in “the cloud” is stored on the internet.  However you want to say it, it gives you a bit more freedom and frees up your hard drive space.  For example, depending on what service you use, those hundreds of documents you have could be available on your smartphone, your tablet, or your other various computers.
Don’t freak out! It used to be hard, but it’s becoming so simple that I recommend it to anyone.  If your a PC lover then Microsoft has a new program suite called Microsoft 365 that is a great option.  It’s 99.99 a year, but you get access to their programs as well as a terabyte of storage in the cloud. That’s a great deal! If your an Apple person, don’t worry.  Apple is rolling out a similar service this fall and until then, you can store your iSuite files as well as many pictures and other things in their iCloud.
I am telling you all this because I truly think it is the best option for digital management. As long as you keep your devices with access locked, then it is a great tool and it’s super easy to use.  All your data available at any time makes waiting in the doctors office an opportunity to get some work done. Or a phone call more productive because you can address the issue at that moment instead of waiting to “get back to the office”.  But the cloud isn’t for everyone.
If you typically use one computer and store all your information there, without needing to access it often, then cloud storage may not be for you, but look into it. It’s your decision that is based on your individual needs.
Ok, so on to actual organization!  Most people’s digital lives are separated into two categories, maybe three. Personal, work, and one other maybe school, blog, etc.  I look at digital storage as a pyramid. At the top are folders for broad categories that break down until every file has a place and folder to go.  This digital organization will be different for everyone. I have top files for home, each of my businesses, and one for sharing.  In home it is broken down by pictures, videos, and documents.  Pictures and videos are broken down by dates and documents are broken into past tax information, current tax information, important documents, house, cars, etc. you see where I am going.  It’s like a storage cabinet but digital.  Once you have the folders in place you can start to move your files.
Try to simplify and get rid of things. You don’t need tax information from 1970, so pitch it. If your are concerned because your stuff isn’t digital, don’t be. Just make it digital. Spend a day converting your life to the digital world. I did this two years ago and am thrilled with the results. It’s easier to find information and files and I am more productive having the information available to me at all times.
What are some ways you stay organized digitally?

Odd Ways to Simplify Your Life

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I know we have talked about simplicity before, but I never went in depth about some things that can really help you maintain a simpler, easier life. There are several ways you can go about this and many of these techniques can be transferred to other areas of your life. For example, one of the ways I have been trying to simplify my life is by unsubscribing from all junk emails. But the same could be applied to junk mail as well. It’s a waste for me to receive countless marketing ads when I don’t buy anything. It’s also a waste of time to sort through all this mail and delete the emails or recycle the actual mail. I can get up to 200 emails a day and most are junk. This advice isn’t just for people who have too little time in their day. So find that unsubscribe at the bottom of your emails and go to town! Or call the number listed on the magazines or circulars to get your name taken off the list. Ok so let’s simplify this so you don’t have to read as much!
1.Stop junk emails at the source and unsubscribe!
2.Stop junk mail at the source and end subscriptions.
3.Get rid of excess clothing that is not allowing you to see what you really have to wear.
4.Plan out your meals in advance and buy ingredients for that specific meal. Don’t try to throw things together at the last minute.
5.Touch things once. This means, don’t stack things up in piles to be dealt with later. If it’s in your hand, put it where it belongs, not on the kitchen counter. ( I know this is hard, but it will make a difference, trust me).
6.Get rid of apps on your phone you don’t use! Try this: move all your applications but one to the second or third screen on your phone. As you use an app, move it to the first. After a month, delete the apps you haven’t used.
7.Plan and make to do lists in one place. I have seen women who have three calendars and four places where they keep their to do or to get lists. Simplify. I recommend Erin Condren life planners. There is a whole community that can give you ideas and help you stay organized. You can see how I use mine by following me on Instagram @ LiveBreatheInspire. Get $10 off by using my referral code.https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/jesssonmore0225
8.If you have to drive somewhere, try to plan other stops that coincide. I learned this from serving my way through college. If your going someplace anyways, why not make the trip count and get other things done as well. For example, if I am dropping my hubby off at the airport I will oftentimes stop by Costco on the way there or on the way home. It’s about a 20 minute drive there and so I will plan in advance and make the trip once, accomplishing two tasks. Seems simple, but it can save a lot of time.
9.Have less stuff! This one is just as it sounds. I know I keep going over this, but when you have a ton of things in your life, you spend a lot of time organizing, fixing, and taking care of them. Ok, I am done, but seriously, try to get rid of some of it.
10.I am guilty of having several email addresses. I am in the process of simplifying it down to one. My bad, but seriously, keep it simple if you can help it.
11.Keep your digital life simple. Keep your files in one place and make sure everything is properly backed up. I can’t imagine how I would find anything without dropbox and my organization system in it.

These are just a few ways you can keep it simple in your own home. What do you do to simplify? We would love it hear it!
-Jessica

You Are The Heart Of The Home!

What is your role in your home?  Are you a peacemaker?  A chef?  Are you the brains?  Or are you the brawn?  Are you the refuge in the storm? Or are you causing the storm?  I have caused quite a few storms in my marriage and want to share with you my journey to be the heart of the home.   IMG_0009

I have wanted to write this post for awhile.  I have really been contemplating my role in our home lately.  I truly believe women are supposed to be the heart of the home.  Not that they can’t lead, or shouldn’t make decisions, but that they really should model peace, love, and kindness in their home.  If I learned one thing from watching all the seasons of “Wife Swap” is that the wife sets the tone, mood, and feel of the home.  If she is harsh, the children and husband are generally scared and also react harshly.  If the wife is obsessed with a sport, craft, or hobby, so is everyone else.   If the wife is not fulfilled, everyone feels her discontentment.  I think the phrase, “If momma isn’t happy, no one is happy,” is wiser than I realized.

What tone do you set for your home?  If your curious, ask the other people in your household or a trusted friend.  If the words “tiger” and “mom” are in the same sentence you may want to continue reading.  For some women the error might not be as obvious.  Being perpetually busy, always stressed, disinterested in life, obsessed with the wrong things, and more can set a bad tone in your home.  As a the woman in the house you don’t have to be a mom to be an influencer in your home. I have no kids, but I realized that the tone I have set in our home is as I say “no bueno!”

It took me awhile to realize my faults, however, four years I have been on the wrong path and I just now realized it.   My husband has been gone most of the time now for about two years and I have taken on all the roles in our home.  I didn’t set out in our married life trying to rule the home.  I just noticed that when he was gone all the time everything fell on me.  This is no excuse for being a controlling super ninny, but this is how it happened.  Now when he comes home I have a hard time letting go and letting him take over.  When did I become such a controlling wife?  So what if he makes a mistake?  Isn’t that how I learned?  Isn’t that how I grew as a person?  By trying things and making mistakes?  I should have realized the tone I was setting was one of business and to-do lists.  When I am constantly working to try to catch up with the ever growing workload I don’t take time for the things in life that matter most.

My mother in law Jennie and I had a heart to heart a few months ago and something she said didn’t really hit me until recently.  She said she was afraid to call me because she knew how busy and stressed I always was.  She didn’t want to bother me.  How could I not see that!  People are afraid to call me because they know I am barely keeping my head afloat!  It’s my fault entirely that I am here.  That I have set an improper tone in our marriage.  I have always chosen to try to get everything done.  Thinking if I could just work a bit harder, one day I will be done and can rest.  But here’s the kicker, I am never done! I have never been done and will never be done.  That’s life!  Right now my to do list spans three pages.  I mean BIG pages, like the 8 1/2 by 11 type of pages lol.  But I am making it a priority to write to you all because I really feel like this is important.

Don’t make the mistakes I made.  The house doesn’t have to be perfect, the laundry will be there tomorrow (unless you don’t have clean underwear and in that case, please, do the laundry), and your tv show can be watched on netflix five months from now.  I feel like women, myself included, have forgotten the most important thing in life, LOVE! It’s the people that matter! You can literally take NOTHING to the grave with you, but you can live on through the impact you made on others in your life.  That starts at home, but it’s also the hardest to do at home.  I know that most people treat their closest family and friends the worst.  Why is that?  That we give our best to the people we will never see again, but we cannot be kind and gentle with our own family? Please don’t stop reading because I have really great news!

Heart of Your Home

Even if you have been the abominable snowman in your household you can change.  You can be the wife, mother, daughter, and friend you were intended to be.   I would never bring you down and then not show you the way back up!  I know it’s hard, but there are ways you can change and make your household the safe, loving, and joyful place it’s supposed to be.

1.  Search for the areas you need to work on.

-This could be anger, sadness, lack of energy, hostility, judgement, laziness, disorganization, business, harshness, too high expectations, etc.

-Ask your family what they would like to see you change and you can’t get mad!

-If you can ask your parents or a trusted friend.  I am lucky enough to have both who are not afraid to tell me what’s what! 🙂

2. Make a physical list of the traits or qualities that are negatively impacting others in your home.

-Since your home isn’t perfect I am going to assume there will be other’s who may test your resolve and patience, but remember, it’s your home.  No matter what hubby or the kids do, it’s you who will make the biggest impact in the long run, if you can make it!

3.  List out things you can do on a daily basis to combat those traits and write them out next to each one.

-For business I wrote that I will never turn down time with others to do things that don’t have to be done that day.

I also wrote that I will take time for myself to workout or do other things I need to do in order to take care of myself.

-Next to unloving, I wrote that I need to find the love languages of the people in my life by the end of the week, so if you don’t get a call or text,  please send me your list, I would love to know! (If your not sure what love languages are, please look up the book and read it! It’s pretty dead on.  Basically it says that everyone has different ways of giving and receiving love.  Most people don’t receive love the same way. For example, please don’t buy me gifts, they do nothing for me, but sit and talk to me for an hour and I will feel so loved! But my friend Kate on the other hand loves gifts and they make her feel special and loved.  So for each person it’s unique, but knowing that information about others can help you to be a better friend, mother, lover, daughter, and whatever else you happen to be.)

In addition to finding out their love languages I wrote that I need to do something with that knowledge.  I need to say the things I feel, or send the gifts that I think of when I am shopping, or just spend the time I would like to with the people I love.

-I could keep going, but trust me,  you don’t want me to!

4.  Put the list where you can see it everyday, and don’t be afraid to tell your family what you’re working on in order to get accountability and support.  I am sure they will be excited and it might encourage them to do the same.  One of the greatest qualities my parent’s instilled in Rini and I was a drive to be better.  We constantly saw them working on improving themselves while we were growing up and we definitely never forgot.

Please feel free to comment or contact us with any ideas or questions.  We would love to hear from you all.

In addition, the woman is the heart of the home spiritually.  If you want to change your home for good in the best and purest way possible start praying for yourself and your family.  The loving, kind, peaceful woman you want to be can be found through God’s love and searching for Him is the quickest way to change your home.  It happened in mine and I will never forget how amazing it was to see the changes unfolding in our lives.  I just hope that over time I can learn to be the woman who God wants me to be for my family.  I am also thankful for the friends He has brought me who are such great role models in their own homes!

-Jess

 

 

A Moment of Peace Please! #1 Kill the Crap!

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I cannot begin to tell you how much I have craved peace recently.  But sometimes it seems as though life is just a big mess of to-do lists.  I oftentimes get caught up in all the things I have to do.  Owning and operating a small online business (Lillian Grace) as well as a photography business is never ending work.  There is always something to be done.  My hubby and I have moved countless times and I just finished my classes for my degree.  Craziness has been our life and I am DONE!   I did this to myself.  I created a life that seemed more like a prison than something I was enjoying.  I gained back all the weight I had lost; I have been stressed and tired and made very poor decisions.

“Oh, you want me to help you while I am in the middle of finals, just finishing up my busy season with Lillian Grace, and shooting senior portraits like mad, sure! Sounds like a great idea! So what if we are still not settled in our new house! Let’s do this!” But I dug my grave and now I must deal with it…

I don’t allow myself to wallow much so I will quickly get to my point.  I know many of you out there are feeling the same way I do.  You feel exhausted and overwhelmed.  Like you don’t have enough time or energy, but you still have to meet deadlines and perform.  Your jobs are stressful and you still have to take care of the home and kids! While it seems like there is no way out, I can assure you there is!  While I feel the only true peace comes from God, there is a lot of deliberate steps you can take to make your life more peaceful.  You’re probably wondering at this point if I have any room to talk, but you would be so amazed at the changes I have made in the past two weeks.  I am amazed at how I was able to completely change my life in such a short amount of time.  I can’t tell you what to do, or wave a magic wand and make your life less stressful, but I can tell you what I have tried and the things that impacted my life the most.

1. Get Rid of Stuff!

How I killed the crap!

The number one change that I made in my life that has given me the most peace is getting rid of STUFF!  This was not the first change I made by any means, in fact it was one of the last, but it seems to have had the biggest impact on my peace.  My hubby and I moved into a small two bedroom condo last October.  We knew there wasn’t a lot of room and that we needed to cutback our stuff, but my mindset was more about how to fit everything in and make it organized than to actually get rid of anything.  Thus we ended up with a house that was always  cluttered, had too many decorations, too much furniture per room, and was hard to clean.  I have spent countless hours trying to organize and fit everything into this tiny home that it is a bit depressing.  This stuff I was spending so much time cleaning and organizing didn’t add any value to my life and it took away my peace.  So now I am in the middle of a harsh battle with the “stuff” in my life.  I started with my linen closet. It’s just my hubby and I and we had over 20 body towels, 20!  And most were ripped and given to us by our parents who didn’t want them anymore.  So I went through them and we kept ten.  Four are white for guests and the rest are assorted colors for us.  I would have paired it down to eight, one towel in the wash and one in use for the both of us, but Tim isn’t as excited about getting our lives in order (lol).  Also, why do we need more than two sets of sheets?  One on the bed and one in the wash.  How did I not think of these things sooner!  Same with blankets, really, do I need like 20 different kinds of blankets?  After the linen closet I took on the furniture.  I had a desk and a workstation that I used for Lillian Grace’s shipping stuff.  I realized I could combine the two and just use the workstation as a desk.  This allowed me to get rid of a giant desk and now I can choose to sit or stand up and work. (That is another post altogether, but I am so excited about standing up and working!)  I also realized that the dresser was barely filled with Tim’s shorts, so we put them in his closet, and we sold the dresser!  I got it for free and painted it so essentially we made 60 bucks( heck ya!).  Then I went through my business stuff, kitchen, and attic.  I have pulled so much out for the garage sale that it is literally filling one side of our garage.   I am far from done.  I have to loose the weight, again, and then I will be going through my clothes more thoroughly.  I still have to do our pantry, my dresser, and finish up a couple of other places, but overall it feels great.  I noticed that cleaning is quicker since I don’t have to move as much stuff, I see what I have better and am more deliberate about putting it back in it’s place, and that it’s easier to find places for things when you have less stuff to begin with.

So how does less stuff bring me peace?

You know how you walk into a model home and don’t want to leave!  There’s not a lot of stuff in each room, no clutter, and it’s all clean.  That’s basically the affect less stuff had on my life.  No my home is not a model home, but what I thought would seem empty and sterile actually feels peaceful.  I am not going to lie, I kind of felt like I had a little war with myself through the process.  I really felt, even though I had never used some things, that I needed to keep them! I felt that just because I spent money on something that it had to be kept or else it was a waste.  What I didn’t realize is the fact I never used or will ever use it is a waste, and me holding onto it was just adding insult to injury. (Now before I buy anything I ask myself the questions that I will list below.)  So I battled and came out realizing that my things are just that, things.  I can’t take them to the grave with me, and I realize there are memories with some of them, but I am taking pictures and moving on!  But we need things to survive, and oftentimes things can save us time and add value to our lives.  So essentially, your things should be tools or they should add to your life, if they don’t kick em’ to the curb and concentrate on living your version of an amazing life!  Looking at my stuff that way also gave me a peace about letting go.  Do I need this? Does this add value to my life?  Have I used this in the last year? Where will I put it? These are the questions I asked about all of my possessions.  Questions you should ask too!

Next week I will elaborate on some of the other decisions that I made that are giving me peace in my life.  I can’t wait to share with you all! If you’re visiting us for the first time please leave us a comment or message! We would love to hear from you about your lives or if you decide to implement any of these suggestions.

-Jessica