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Low-Information Diet: Five Tools You Need to Kick Your Phone Habit to the Curb

When you think about what's going to matter to you when you're 80 years old, where does your cell phone fall on that list? If you're anything like me, there's a good chance the amount of time you spend on your phone is disproportionate to how important it is in the big picture of your life. Little by little, it is possible to break the attachment we have towards our phones and replace them with the things that matter most to you.

Earlier this summer, we talked about a Low-Information Diet, and last month we shared 11 ways to eliminate digital overwhelm. Today, I'm thrilled to wrap up our Low-Information Diet series with five tools that are helping me—little by little—kick my phone habit to the curb.

Alarm clock. Our phones have become one of the first things we touch in the morning because we often use them for alarms, making it easy to roll over and start mindlessly scrolling through social media or emails. Remove the temptation by buying an actual alarm clock, and charge your phone in a different room at night.

Grayscale. Our cell phones and all the apps on it are designed to be addictive, but there are built-in ways to begin to break the addiction. By unlocking a feature within the accessibility feature in some phone's settings, you can change the color of your phone screen to grayscale. While it won't promise to kick your mindless scrolling to the curb entirely, it is a helpful (and free!) way to make social media and Snapchat less enticing! Here's a step-by-step tutorial on how to make your phone grayscale if you'd like to give it a try.

A drawer. This could be a drawer, a box, or a countertop–it basically needs to serve as a home base for your phone when you're at home. Implementing phone hours is a great way to "out of sight, out of mind".

PowerSheets. I can say, without a doubt or hesitation, that the progress I've made on my yearly goal "Phone down, eyes up" is due largely in part to our PowerSheets Goal Planner. Working through the PowerSheets Prep Work helped my understand the WHY behind my goal, which has been the driving force for my commitment to making progress on it. I was able to outline starting steps, and I've been able to slowly add those to my monthly Tending List as monthly, weekly, and daily goals over these past few months. Our 2018 PowerSheets are sold out, but we can't wait to get the 2019 PowerSheets Goal Planners (and the rest of the collection!) in your hands on October 24th! Join our newsletter family, and you'll be the first to see our new collection in the coming weeks.

Accountability. Give people in your life permission to call you out and say, "You need to put the phone down." Community creates accountability. Accountability creates follow-through. Follow-through leads to results. Giving close friends permission to speak the hard truth to you in moments where you're on your phone takes maturity, and it's a surefire way to give yourself a kick in the pants. Sometimes my husband does this in a subtle way by asking, "what's on your phone?" Other times he'll reach across the couch, grab my phone, and put it on the coffee table. Both of these tactics get the point across! I'm often most blind to my own faults, and it sometimes takes someone I love and trust to give me a push and call me higher.

Saying no to distractions opens up space to say yes to something better. Our phones have the ability to do a lot of good when used purposefully–connecting us to so many wonderful people and organizations. Our best advice? Use social media and your times of connectivity on purpose. Write out a mission statement for how and why you will use them well. Post that mission statement to your computer or desk where you will see it often. If you find yourself mindlessly using social media again, check your motive and get back to cultivating what matters in your life!

I'd love to hear from you: are there other tools you are using to help you control your screen time? Did you enjoy this in-depth series on a particular goal area? What else would you like to see? Please leave a comment below; all comments welcome!

 

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Quick and Easy Recipe Round-Up

August often marks a season of transition—regardless of whether or not you have kids! Changing calendars means adjusting current routines and adopting new rhythms. We believe it's possible to be prepared and present at the same time. A little intentional forethought goes a long way, especially when it comes to meal planning!

Thanks to our Wellness Goal Guide, one of my weekly PowerSheets goals over the past few months has been weekly meal planning and prepping. It's been incredibly helpful to have a bank of easy meals to choose from, and I've found myself soliciting tried and true recipes from friends and family.

While we certainly won't claim to be food bloggers, trying a new recipe that's been given the thumbs-up from someone you trust is much easier than scouring Pinterest. Today we're sharing some of our favorite quick meals and tips to help you enter this new season with the ability to focus on the things that matter most to you!

  • The go-to meal for our Customer Delight and Conference Manager, Ashlea? A salad with Trader Joe's chili-lime chicken burgers on top. The patties come frozen, pre-portioned, and only take five minutes to cook.
  • Here's a great tip from our Marketing and Content Coordinator, Jordan, for houses that have pickier eaters: choose a meal that's easy to modify. For example, she often makes chicken quesadillas for her meat-loving husband, but can easily swap the meat portion out in hers if she wants something lighter without making two separate dinners.
  • Our Operations gal, Kaylee, loves a simple Caprese Pasta Salad. It's a delicious meal with only a few ingredients, and if the weather near you is as warm as North Carolina, then you can keep this in your rotation for a few more weeks!
  • Our Marketing Director (whom you will meet next month!) loves "dump-and-bake" meals, which means you dump all the ingredients in one pan (hello easy clean-up!). Pair it with a fresh salad and baguette, and you're good to go!
  • Conference Director Kristin has a go-to meal that's a proven crowd-pleaser: Honey Lime Chicken Enchiladas. Pair it with black beans and cilantro-lime rice, and you have a meal that's sure to leave people wanting seconds.
  • A recent favorite meal in our home is Chickpea Pasta with Sun-dried Tomatoes. We're not vegetarian, but we try to eat meat-free when possible to save money and make sure we're loading up on vegetables, and this is a hearty meal! My advice? Leave the crushed red pepper out of the main pot, and let each person add it to their finished bowl.
  • Our Designer, Casey, loves easy oven fajitas. Not only does it pair great with rice and beans, but you can easily double the batch for leftovers. Two tips from Casey? Skip all the individual spices and throw in a packet of the fajita mix and line the sheet pan with foil for easier clean-up.
  • If you live near a Trader Joe's, take a tip from Marissa, our PR and Partnerships Manager, and stock up on Trader Joe's Mandarin Orange Chicken for your freezer. Pair it with brown or cauliflower rice (your husband and children will never know, she says!), and you're ready to feed a crowd!

Do you have any easy recipes that have become favorites in your home? Feel free to share them below so we can add them to our recipe banks!

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How to Create a Cultivated Day [FREE DOWNLOAD]

There's a good chance if you're on social media, you've seen this post floating around Instagram. It's been reposted numerous times, and there are more than 600 comments on the original post. Halloween decorations are filling the shelves at my local grocery store, and the hobby stores in my area are already putting up holiday decorations. There is a sense of overwhelm beginning to creep into the air, and we're here to say it can be different. You have the potential to spend your days doing what matters most to you.

It is possible to be present and prepared at the same time. That's what cultivating what matters is all about. It's possible to live a cultivated life–a path with a clear purpose. It doesn't happen overnight, but it can happen little by little, through a series of small choices you make. And you can start today.

“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” You've likely heard the popular quote by Annie Dillard, and we couldn't agree with it more. It's why we created the PowerSheets Goal Planner–to help you uncover what matters most, make a plan for your big picture goals, and take action on them. Part of taking action on your goals is ensuring you have margin in your days to do the things you've always wanted to do.

Today, we're sharing four tips for creating "cultivated" days and a fun sale in the Cultivate Shop to set you up for success!

Decide what does (and doesn't) matter to you. When we say yes and no, we are making decisions. Each time you say no to one thing gives you the opportunity to say yes to something better, but it's important to make sure your yeses and no's are clearly defined. Download and print our FREE Intentional Life List. Write your list of what you are saying YES to and what you are saying NO to in your cultivated day, and then hang it somewhere you'll see it each day! Remember, there are no wrong answers, and it's okay if your list looks different than someone else's list. This list will serve as a summary of what to include in your cultivated days.

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Create meaningful routines. No matter how hard we try, our days will always only have 24 hours in them, and an important step in creating a cultivated day is to examine the "bookends" of your days. Establishing productive morning and evening routines will not only create consistency and help you cultivate important habits, but it will also ensure you are prepared to tackle the things that come up during your day! What are you already doing in your mornings and evenings that work for you? How can you do them better? You can even take it a step further and write out your ideal cultivated morning and evening routines to help you stick to them!

Stay true to yourself. In the same way your YES + NO list might look different than someone else's, it's important to remember that your cultivated day might look different, too! Resist the urge to create a cultivated day just because it "should" look that way. If you prefer to get moving first thing in the mornings, it probably won't make sense for you to schedule an hour of snuggling up with coffee and a blanket to reflect and meditate. Do what works best for you!

Equip yourself with the right tools. You wouldn't try to cook a spaghetti dinner without the noodles, and the same is true for creating your cultivated day! Get rid of what doesn't work, and replace it with something that does work! Be willing to try a new routine, and invest in the right tools to help you create cultivated days. With the right tools, you can

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Maybe you want to cultivate your faith, get your finances in orderprioritize what matters, or create new routines for your family–we've got you covered!

Everything in the Cultivate Shop is 25% off now through Monday, August 13th. All orders over $50 will receive free domestic shipping, too. (It's the next-best-thing to hand delivering your orders!). No code needed; offer applies to new orders only.

Are you ready to start fresh? Not sure where to start with some of your goals? Leave a comment, and let us know! We'll happily do some goal coaching in the comments and share what Cultivate Shop products will work best in your season of life!

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Cultivate Your Calendar with Lara Casey

Feeling overwhelmed? Like you don't have time for the good stuff in your life because your days are full of the to-dos on your list? Are you exchanging celebrating the people you love and adventures with the things that don't fill you up?

If that's you, you're not alone! And we want to encourage you to do something about it!

Join Lara Casey for a FREE live workshop on Thursday, August 9th at 12pm ET where she's going to share her top ten tips for cultivating your calendar.

If you are not able join us live at 12pm ET, there's no need to fret! A replay will be available for all those who register, so be sure to sign up to have access to the broadcast afterwards! If you have questions you'd like Lara to answer, use the "ask a question" feature once you sign up!

Leave us a comment to let us know you're coming! We can't wait to spend the afternoon with you!

P.S. Our 2019 #PowerSheetsAreComing on October 24th! Sign up to stay updated over the next few weeks and to be the first to see the new collection before it goes live!

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Six Must-Do’s for Your Evenings

Preparing well. That’s what the evening routine is all about.

I know, I know! That sounds like more work. And you’re thinking “I just got done with all of the laundry/work/chores/everything by the evening. I don’t want to do more.

Preparing well can serve you well that evening and it sets you up to be able to cultivate what really matters the following day. When you are cultivating what matters, you positively impact everything about your life and everyone in it.

Before we jump in, let me say this: everyone’s night routine looks different depending on your life, but the key is to find what works for you and cultivate those habits each day. Consistency creates habits that ultimately determine the flow of your everyday life, and an evening routine is a great place to start. I'm excited to share six must-dos for my evenings, and I hope it helps you start to think through your own personal evening routine.

Something to straighten up. For me, it’s the kitchen. If the kitchen is straightened up—dishes in the dishwasher, clutter-free counter, things put away—it's much easier for me to relax. Take a quick few minutes to pass through your space, and put away random things that need to be put away. After you're finished, set out only what you will need for the morning. For me, it's a packed lunch to take to work, water bottle for an AM workout, or a sticky note of things to remember for the following day!

Something to help you plan ahead. Each evening, I spend five minutes running through the next day's calendar to see if there are any schedule changes, high-level to-dos, or something out of the ordinary that my husband and I need to remember. These are things like getting gas on my way to work, running an errand before heading to the office, or picking up something specific at the store for dinner. I write these things down on a sticky note, and I put it somewhere I see first thing in the morning so I can get off to a productive start. I also take a few moments to look over my PowerSheets Tending List to mark off my daily goals.

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Photo by Brooke

Something productive. While I'm going through my schedule, I ask myself if there are any tasks that can easily be done that evening. Whether it's dropping mail in the mailbox, prepping the next day's dinner, signing a document, or folding the lingering laundry in the dryer, I find that finishing one productive task not only helps me feel accomplished, but it keeps it from building up on the weekends. My best advice? Don't try to tackle huge project. These should be small and achievable tasks that take no more than 15 minutes.

Something encouraging. This one is my personal favorite! I try to take a few minutes to do something that encourage myself or someone else. I might write a note for my husband's lunch or send a quick text to a friend or loved one just to say hello and that I miss them. Sometimes, I'll spend time in my Write the Word Journal, taking note of what I'm grateful for in the "On My Heart" section. Whatever it is, this activity should be uplifting and help you set a stress-free tone for the evening. 

Something restful. A great way to wind down before bed is to do something that helps your mind start to slow down. It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but it should be something that works for you. Maybe it’s reading or journaling. Maybe dimming the lights and putting on a bedtime playlist of soft tunes while you brush your teeth and prepare for bed. Whatever it is, the idea here is that it’s calming, relaxing, and creating an environment conducive to getting a great night's sleep!

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Photo by Sarah

Something tech-free. We talk about this one often, but it's because we believe it's essential! Designating the last hour before bedtime screen-free helps you get better sleep. A few tricks: make the very first thing you do before all of the nighttime necessities—brushing your teething, washing your face—putting the phone away. In the closet. In the bedside drawer, or across the room. This not only frees you from distractions but is also a nice mental cap on the end of the day. Hint: If you use your phone as your alarm, try replacing it with an affordable alarm clock. You eliminate the distraction entirely, and you can charge your phone in a nearby room.

 I’d love to hear from you! Do you have an evening routine? What are the best aspects of your night routine? Leave a comment with your best tips and tricks!

Want to embrace mornings and make them productive, too? Check out eight tips for embracing mornings!

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