Blog Crush: Caffeinate and Conquer

It's Blog Crush time again! This is one of our favorite series here on The Pursuit of Balance because we get to share blogs that we love with all of you. Sometimes these are wildly popular blogs with hundred of thousands of followers, and other times they're smaller - either way, each of the blogs in this series has brought something into our blogging lives that we were missing before we found them and Caffeinate and Conquer is no different! 

Blog Crush

It's a bit out of the norm for us to do a Blog Crush on a blog that is focussed solely on blogging itself, but I recently started reading Kallie's blog But First, Coffee which quickly led me to her blog focussed on helping other bloggers improve their spaces. Kallie was originally a teacher out of college so it's no wonder she's great at educating others and encouraging them to be their very best. I love the attitude a blog like this requires, it really requires Kallie to look beyond the competitive side of blogging and just say "I want us all to win". 

On a side note, I didn't even recall, but Nicole did a whole Blog Crush post on But First, Coffee so if you want more details on that particular blog of Kallie's - here's the post. Apparently, we're both crushing on this lady! 

Caffeinate and Conquer stemmed from that love of teaching and her love of all things SEM, SEO and blogging in general. What I love most about C&C is that Kallie offers multiple types of lessons and ways to learn. Some of us like to read a book to learn, others prefer to watch a video. Kallie has all the mediums you could need right on her site and it's all her information and intelligence she's sharing. She's learned a lot over the years and I've personally found her Better Blog in 10 Minutes a Day videos extremely valuable. I've already started making changes to this here blog and I think it's made a huge difference and remotivated me to grow this space. 

Screenshot directly from C&C Home page.

Screenshot directly from C&C Home page.

I don't want to spend this whole post writing about Caffeinate and Conquer though because Kallie does so much more than just write for that blog. She also has her personal blog: But First, Coffee where she writes about her life, beauty products, fashion pieces and posts that I love like 'How to be more Optimistic'.

I've truly enjoyed getting to know Kallie through her blog and I know I've grown as a blogger from watching her videos and going through her e-courses on Caffeinate and Conquer. If you're a blogger, this is something you don't want to miss! 

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10 Things I wish I'd Learned in School

I know this post seems totally random and out of the box from our usual content, and it is, but this is something we, as adults, discuss often and I think it deserves a day on the blog. How often do you find yourself saying something along the lines of 'I wish they'd taught me xyz in school'? or 'if I'd only learned how to do my taxes instead of geometry in school I'd be way better off'. I've definitely said those comments and although I think schools (especially universities) are doing a better job of preparing our youth for adulthood, I just don't think we're there yet.

10 Things I Wish I'd been Taught in School
  1. How to do my taxes - guys, if it weren't for TurboTax I'd be totally lost come tax season. I don't even keep receipts, how the hell am I going to do taxes when I'm, like, a real big kid who has to go to an accountant? I still don't know!
  2. How to balance a checkbook - albeit rather useless now thanks to online banking, I had to balance a checkbook when I first got a debit card and hello, I had no idea how to do that! 
  3. Debt - how you accumulate it, how it affects your bottom line and credit, how to get rid of it and along with debt...
  4. Credit - I knew nothing about credit when I graduated high school other than that I had gotten a credit card at 18 to start earning some credit. Do you know how much that credit card credit will help you buy a house? Oh, it won't.
    Oops, these are all money related so far - guess that's where I stand. I wish I'd learned about money!
  5. Be proactive rather than reactive - I don't think we're taught how to handle stressful or frustrating situations very well in school. It's important to learn to work towards fixing things rather than just blowing up when things go wrong.
  6. Time management - I'm decent at time management, I even wrote a post about it, but I certainly wasn't taught how to manage my time while I was in school. It would have saved me a lot of wasted time on school and work assignments had I learned sooner.
  7. Mental health - we spent hours upon hours learning about how to take care of our physical bodies in Health and PE but we spend zero time talking about mental health, depression, other related topics that are so relevant and difficult and experienced in the real world, I wish we'd learned more about how to navigate our own mental health as well as how to deal with others
  8. Long-term self-care. We had PE and Health classes, but I was never taught how important it is to pay attention to your health as you get older. Not just "go to your annual physical" but the "sitting all day is really awful for you" type stuff. The "you need to exercise at least 30 minutes a day to grow into a healthy old person type stuff. I wish I'd been taught that so I could have incorporated healthy living earlier.
  9. How to negotiate for a new job. This is HARD people. But don't worry, I've got a whole post coming about it for you! 
  10. Public speaking. I'm not talking a presidential address, I'm not talking about speaking in front of hundreds of people. I'm talking about running meetings, leading conference calls, having the courage and ability to take notes, make action items and achieve goals.

What are some things you wish you'd been taught in school? Don't hold back, we've all got them! 

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How I'm Organizing my 2017 InkWELL Press Planner

As I mentioned last week, we are full swing into the New Year. I've never been a big fan of writing things down or tracking things on paper - it's much easier to carry my phone around with me than a giant planner - BUT! Last year Nicole and I each purchased paper planners so that we could plan out our blog content for the year. It worked so well that I decided it might be time to invest in a good planner and track everything in it. 

After doing my research and deciding what was most important to me from a planner (horizontal days, enough room for blog and life, room for goal setting and habit tracking...) it was easy to pick one and order away. Then it sat on my dining room table for two months until it was close enough to 2017 for me to start planning and PLAN I DID! 

How I'm Organizing my 2017 InkWELL Press Planner

Today I'm going to break down how I'm organizing my planner, as of now.  It's only January so this could totally change as the year goes on and I figure out what does and does not work, but so far this seems to be a pretty good system for me. 

InkWELL Press LiveWELL Planner

The very first thing I did, because I liked it so much when I used it last year was write out categories by different color pen (for example, work emails, work events, work travel vs. personal travel, Justin stuff, household, etc.) and then designate colored washi tape for each of our blog categories. We have food, lifestyle, baby time, girl boss, etc. and we try to multiple in any given week. Having my week color coded by blog post category has been so valuable. It's easy to see at a glance that we're hitting different topics and categories regularly.

InkWELL Press LiveWELL Planner Categories

One thing I really loved about InkWELL Press (not a post sponsor) was that they allow for goal setting, not only annually but quarterly and even monthly - they also make it easy to track your goals. Some of the goals I set for the year include eating 4 healthy meals a week, saving a certain amount of money - and learning Spanish - which I admit is not off to a great start. 

InkWELL Press Quarterly Goals

Once I wrote out my annual goals I was able to really easily break it down into quarterly goals. I was able to take that savings goal and split it into 4 quarters and it made it seem so much more manageable to write out the amount I wanted to save in chunks. 

InkWELL Press Quarterly Goals Break Down

I'm a big fan of the "month at a glance" pages in this planner and I LOVED that InkWELL made videos with ideas on how to use all the different pages in the planner. One thing I'd never figured out was what to put on these monthly pages. Birthdays? Okay - but is that really helpful? I have them all in my outlook calendar.

The videos gave me some ideas on creating an actual schedule that could help me achieve my larger goals and also reach some of the things that I value most and that bring me the most joy. For example, it's important to both Justin and I to live in a clean house so after talking, we decided that it made sense to break out chores and set aside days to tackle certain things. Now ever Saturday morning we sweep/swiffer/vacuum and wipe down all the counter surfaces in our house. We both love that it's clean and it's such an easy thing to do in 20 minutes or so. 

I also laid out date nights, Justin and I want to actively date and planning to go out and do something fun together every other Wednesday was easy enough. Of course I also added grocery shopping, when I'm washing our towels and sheets (every Friday), and birthdays! 

InkWELL Press Month at a Glance Planner Page

I'm not a huge "goal" person. I don't like to set New Years resolutions or come up with these lofty things I hope to achieve in a year... but I DO love tracking progress towards smaller goals. One thing this planner does well is break out goals into achievable bite size pieces. Each month I'm able to put together a Mission Board like the below and write out some of my smaller goals.

PS. My mission for the year is "Nothing is worth it if you aren't happy".

PS. My mission for the year is "Nothing is worth it if you aren't happy".

The page adjacent to the Mission Board is one where I can do some planning, notes of things to focus on and actually track some of my goals every day. In January I'm tracking days that I exercise and days that I don't consume any sugar. I love being able to quickly look and think "oh, I really didn't do so bad" even when I feel like all I've done is eat sugar.

InkWELL Press Monthly Goals Tracker

FINALLY - the weekly pages. It's important to me to have horizontal days because that's how I visualize my week and it gives me more room for my blog posts and washi tape. You can see in the below image that I have my blog posts scheduled and categorized for Monday-Thursday and then I have notes about what's due, what I'm doing, appointments, etc. on the yellow bars on the right. 

InkWELL Press Week at a Glance

I try to use stickers for appointments so I can hypothetically peel them off and add new ones if they appointments move. Things like my nail appointments or when my car needs to go into the shop. The same goes for the Washi Tape - I love it because I can take it off and put it somewhere else or write a new one easily. 

InkWELL Press Week at a Glance Page
InkWELL Press Week at a Glance Page

There is a ton more that this planner has to offer but I'm tracking everything from when shipments are supposed to arrive to my travel dates, hotel accommodations and appointments. 

Do you have any suggestions about organizing a planner? OR a whole post on it? Share the link in the comments. I've read several posts but as a newb I'd love to get other ideas! 

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