How I Stay Sane and “Polished” with Two Children, a Full Time Job, and a Husband that Travels.

I wrote my 8 Favorites for Efficiency last year and I thinking about all the changes and improvements I’ve made over the last year that have really revolutionized our home and my sanity that I wanted to share. This is maybe a random list, but I thought about what was most crucial to how I maintain sanity and stay pulled together and professional for my job while still on a budget, so I hope this might give others some ideas on how they might make life that much smoother and better for themselves too.

Envision Thy Future Self. I started reading High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard this last week and I also follow and listen to Rachel Hollis (you should buy both their book if you haven’t already) and both talk about envisioning your future self and who you want to be. I’ve done this for years without realizing it, starting when I set out to break my addiction to food (you can read about that here). I would journal about and think about the person I wanted to be – healthy, active, a runner, etc. and slowly over time, I became all those things.

I think it is so important and often forgotten by many to imagine the life you want to live. What is really important to you? This has helped me in all areas of my life prioritize decisions from spending money to business decisions to how we do things in our home to the type of clothes I wear and the people I spend time with. For example, I talk about how we live on a budget. The reason we’re able to stick to this is because we have certain goals and a vision for the future that overweigh my want to buy smaller or less significant things in day to day life. This is why we still live in a smaller home, because we want a lake home some day. I spend less on groceries by shopping at Aldis because I want more to spend when we have date nights (I also love everything at Aldis). You get the point.

If we didn’t take the time to think about what we really envision the future to be like, decisions would start to be made because “it’s what people do” or “everyone upgrades at xyz point in life.” It is so easy to fall into this trap. I think that it’s very important to decide what you envision for yourself before you organize or change any of the other things that I write about in the next bullet points. If you’re not sure where to begin on this, just start journalling all the things and qualities you like about yourself and those you want to cultivate. I came up with the the name of this blog years ago when I read a magazine article about how you should create a “tagline” for your life – you could do the same and it has been a reminder to how I want to live – with a continual curiosity for life and learning.

Professional Wardrobe on a Budget. I talked about this in my blog last year but I will revisit here again because I often get complimented on my wardrobe and style and I stick to a pretty small budget because of the following:

  1. I know what looks good on me and my body type. This is just from trial and error, but I know what styles look good on my and have sense of my personal fashion type and I don’t buy anything that doesn’t go with that. Period.
  2. I stick to neutrals and clothes that can be interchangeable. I pretty much stick to neutrals and most of my wardrobe can but interchanged with different pieces as well as go from dressy to casual. I tend to have fun with my jewelry for different colors and textures. I also stick to practical pieces I know I’ll wear and I don’t buy multiples until something is worn out or the price is just too good to turn down.
  3. I only shop a couple of brands and earn rewards. I shop Express for my professional wardrobe and because of that I have earned rewards over the last four years. I now get $40 free for my birthday from them plus as I earn more points I accumulate more free money. I also shop shoes at DSW and earn rewards there as well. Since I shop these places that tends to be where I get gift cards as well because my family knows I love them and guess what, then I combine offers to get more deals! This month is my birthday and I’ve managed to buy a $228 winter coat at no cost because of Express reward money and it was on clearance, $50 shoes at DSW for $20 plus the free totes they sent with a $49 purchase, and a free meal and $15 off of home decor purchases at IKEA (spend a ladies day there last week). Boom. It works!
  4. I only shop online. I put things I need in my cart only from the clearance section and when I get alerts for additional clearance that’s when I purchase.
  5. I buy quality when it matters. I own two purses for summer and winter that are designer – Michael Kors and Kate Spade – and I use them every day and I use them hard as you’ll read later. I bought them, naturally, on clearance but they were more than most purses but they have held up extremely well – going on three years – and also I feel great carrying them around!
  6. I keep a wish/needs list. I keep a wish/needs list of wardrobe items (and other needs like home decor items I want) and this keeps unnecessary spending down because when I am looking or on fun days shopping with friends, I buy what I need if I see it. When there’s a deal, I’ll pick it up.

Now that I’m into my third pregnancy, obviously my wardrobe and my body are changing and a professional pregnancy wardrobe is a whole other beast, so I will try and post how I maintain that in a future post!

High Quality Life, High Quality Plans. I have gotten extremely selective with my time. I have decided (part of that whole vision thing) what makes the cut from hobbies, to friends, to home time and if it doesn’t align with my vision, I just can’t justify putting it on the calendar because life is too short and my family time will always trump the other random activity. Getting selective in the last year has made me realize even more how much I value quality time with quality people that also want to make their lives positive, excellent and hold me to a higher standard.

Traveling Office. My purse is my traveling office. As I mentioned, I bought two quality and very structured purses to hold everything I need. I also have my wristlet that can carry, money, cards, phone and lipstick and I just use this for nights out or a quick run somewhere otherwise, my purse is always full of what I need. In it are the following with a few other ideas of time savers:

  1. Wallet
  2. Simplified planner: I added this item this year. I’m using this to meal plan and keep track of personal calendar items since my work calendar doesn’t sync to my phone. Every Friday at lunch I meal plan for the week and look at what’s coming up next week. It’s been a game changer.
  3. MacBook
  4. Padfolio: I keep track of all my work to dos and loose work papers in here and I always look sharp at a meeting or conference because I have a nice, feminine padfolio (not the massive black manly ones they usually sell for my industry) to take notes on. (Target find)
  5. Phone: email, reminders, book club books on the Libby app, podcasts for the commute, etc.
  6. Checkbook, chargers, one snack, pens, name tag

Organized Home, Organized Mind. I have a whole post on this so I won’t go into detail (read it here), but this last year I majorly revamped my home by just envisioning how we could better organize and utilize the space. I removed a lot of bulky furniture and thought about how I could make some quick but effective changes without spending a fortune and it has made all the difference in the world when I walk about the door in the morning. I can breathe when I walk back into the home each night and I spend only about 30 minutes picking up even when the house is at its messiest because everything has its own place.

Silent Time. Finally, I’ve made it a goal to pray every single day this year. I set the coffee pot on a timer (because stale coffee is a big motivator for me to get out of bed) and wake up early to have quiet time, journal, pray, and eat a nice breakfast by myself. It’s hard, but now that I’ve don’t it enough I don’t want to start my day without it. If this is the only thing you take from this post, do this one thing.

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