The Best Productivity Tools for Spoonies

The Best Productivity Tools for Spoonies

A few weeks ago, I shared what I’ve learnt (and am still learning) about being productive with chronic illness. It may very well be our most popular new post on the blog to date! Writing about that topic, and while promoting the post, I got to thinking about the various products and services I’ve tried over time. With many productivity tools focusing on healthy, neurotypical users, they won’t all work for disabled folks who want to be more productive. The best productivity tools for spoonies, in my experience, are those that are customisable and either work with your symptoms or aim to relieve them. Each productivity tool listed here is one I’ve used myself or am currently using, which has worked for me despite chronic illness. 

Task Lists & Project Management Tools

Some of the most powerful productivity tools for spoonies help me manage my never-ending to-do lists and constant stream of projects.

Amazing Marvin

I discovered Amazing Marvin only recently, but I am oh-so-glad I did. This customisable task manager is quite possibly one of the best productivity tools to come into my life so far. And, of course, it helps that Marvin himself is absolutely adorable!

There’s so much to try when it comes to this program that I’m sure I haven’t even breached the surface where Marvin’s features and customisations are concerned. Some of my favourite strategies so far? I absolutely adore having both “due dates” and “do dates” for my various tasks and projects. I think the lack thereof has been a significant stumbling block for me in the past! The Task Jar and Random Task options are great for defeating decision paralysis and executive dysfunction. And the abilities to auto-schedule tasks that are due soon and roll over scheduled tasks make it so much simpler to keep up with everything on my lists!

For Spoonies: Amazing Marvin’s customisations mean you can adjust the program to meet your unique needs!

Todoist

Before discovering Marvin, Todoist was the newest task management tool I’d turned to. For me, the basic structure of the app was super intuitive, and it really did get me on track for the first time in ages. After my most recent flare of health issues (both chronic & acute), I fell to the wayside with organising my Todoist. That lack of upkeep definitely shows. 

Once I’ve sat down to reschedule my tasks and projects (and no longer have 100+ tasks overdue at a time), I may very well keep using Todoist & Amazing Marvin together. At the very least, a few projects will undoubtedly stay in Todoist’s free plan! 

For Spoonies: Todoist offers an intuitive user experience and, with a paid subscription, more than enough space to manage each section of your life. 

Trello

I wrote a full review of Trello a while back! While I’ve fallen away from using it regularly myself, I still think it’s one of the best productivity tools for spoonies. If you’re looking for a Kanban or Scrum-style tool, in particular, you’ll have luck with Trello. Or, if you’re like me and thrive on outlining your life with index cards, this one’s a definite winner.

If nothing else, Trello offers quite a few power-ups to help it fit your workflow. Add your tasks to a calendar, sync cards across platforms, or track the time you spend on a particular to-do. 

For Spoonies: For those who process information best visually, Trello’s card format is a great option. 

Reminders

If you’re looking for a task manager that keeps things short and sweet, the iOS Reminders app is pretty perfect. In fact, it’s one of my picks for the best apps for spoonies! You can colour-code your task lists, sync them across Apple devices, and set reminders based on time, location, or other factors. 

In the past, Reminders was rather lacklustre, though convenient. With recent iOS updates, though, it’s genuinely become a powerful task management system. If you’d like a relatively no-frills option with just enough features to keep you organised, Reminders is hard to beat. 

For Spoonies: For iOS users, the convenience of Apple’s built-in Reminders app is incomparable. And, if you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, few productivity tools for spoonies can beat being completely free!

Bonsai

This one is mainly geared towards freelancers—like me, I’m sure many other spoonies tend to stick to freelance or remote roles for the flexibility of working from home! Billed as the “#1 Freelance Product Suite,” the Bonsai dashboard will have you covered with project timelines, task lists, invoices, contracts, proposals, and more. 

For the sake of this post, Bonsai’s projects, tasks, and time-tracking features are the most geared towards productivity. But there’s so much more to gain from your Bonsai dashboard, like automated accounting (currently expenses-only, but hopefully income as well soon!), client relationship management, and lawyer-reviewed contract templates. Fellow freelancers, this one is a must!

For Spoonies: If, like me, you work from home or offer freelance services for flare-friendly flexibility, Bonsai is a must.

Task Lists and Project Managers

Digital Productivity Tools

There’s a lot to love about digital productivity tools. They’re always with you, they transfer across devices and locations almost seamlessly, and they have less environmental impact than hard-copy tools. Like the project/task managers above, these tools take advantage of the digital realm to keep your life together and let you stay on-task as much as possible. 

I use each of these on my iPad and iPhone (add a Popsocket for an extra accessibility boost!). Still, many are available for other operating systems, too. Or, if not, there’s sure to be a similar alternative!

Goodnotes

When I recently got my first iPad (a long time coming—I’ve wanted one since high school!), one of the first apps I downloaded was GoodNotes. Since starting my bullet journal journey, I stared longingly at the curated digital planners so many bujo-ers utilised. While I love my string of bullet journals (an Artist’s Loft hardcover dot journal is my budget-friendly go-to), I don’t have beautiful handwriting or ruler-straight lines. 

With a bit of a learning curve, my iPad-Apple Pencil-GoodNotes combo has given me a taste of the digital planning game, and I’m really enjoying it. Plus, with the recent addition of Elements (stickers!) in the latter, it comes close to replicating the print bullet journal experience—but with a bit neater of an outcome. 

In terms of spoonie-specific perks, two GoodNotes features stand out: the convenience of an iPad and the digitised text. I would need an entirely separate bag for my bullet journal, penshighlightersstickerswashi, and other tools with my paper bullet journal. I actually repurposed a purse organiser from AliExpress (find a similar one from Amazon here) for the sole task of organising stickers, stencils, and other small items! 

My digital combination is all-in-one (my iPad case includes a space for the Apple pencil!), so there’s no separate tote required. At most, I’ll bring my sleeve with my magic mouse and screen cleaner in a separate pouch. This means less to carry (and less to risk dropping) and less weight to manage.

And, while there’s no streamline feature available on Goodnotes as of this writing, the ability to convert handwriting to text is definitely an upgrade from script directly, at least in my case. Fingers crossed that a similar tool to Procreate’s feature will come soon! Shaky hands and impaired motor skills mean my writing is pretty universally considered to be “chicken scratch.” Even if my digital handwriting isn’t great, I can create a reasonably accurate text version of whatever I’ve written. 

For Spoonies: Digital planning options like GoodNotes allow for convenient, portable productivity with handwriting-to-text capabilities. 

Airtable

I’ve been using Airtable for quite a while now, and it’s genuinely one of my favourite tools. If you’re the sort of person who wishes every project had a spreadsheet (hi, me too!), this is one productivity tool you don’t want to miss. 

I use Airtable to create databases for my various projects, like my favourite recipes (with a low-spoon category for quick reference on bad days) or Pinterest pins for here on the blog. We even use it to manage submissions over at Nightingale & Sparrow!

Like many spoonies, my memory isn’t great. By tracking essential details in various Airtable sheets, I make sure they don’t slip through the cracks just because I’m having a struggle-heavy day. 

For Spoonies: Airtable creates a database extension of your brain, making sure you don’t have to rely on your memory when you’re already struggling.

Grammarly

I’m a professional writer, editor, and publisher (and, of course, blogger!), but brain fog likes to fight against whatever skills I have on that front. Grammarly keeps me in check when my mind doesn’t want to cooperate, or a migraine, joint pain, or other symptom is a little too distracting. 

Grammarly improves your text with proofreading, line editing, and other suggestions like a sort of advanced spell check. Suppose you’re publishing a book or some other intensive project. In that case, it’s no replacement for a professional editor (might I suggest checking out my freelance services?). But, for emails and messages, blog posts, or assignments with a quick turnaround, Grammarly is the perfect tool to take your writing up a notch, no matter how poorly you’re feeling. 

For Spoonies: No matter skilled an editor you are, chances are your brain has days where it doesn’t want to cooperate. When that happens, Grammarly keeps your writing at a high quality. 

Notes

Like Apple’s built-in Reminders app, Notes offers a simple yet effective productivity tool for spoonies. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more convenient digital tool for making a quick note of anything you’ll need to refer to later. 

For Spoonies: Another built-in iOS app, Notes is a convenient, cost-free tool for taking note of whatever you have to reference later on. 

Digital Productivity Tools

Analog Productivity Tools

With smartphones and other devices constantly at hand, it’s no surprise that digital tools are prevalent nowadays. But, even so, good old pen-and-paper is hard to beat!

Bullet Journal

While I’m incorporating GoodNotes into my bullet journal system more and more, I still love my print bullet journal. If nothing else, crafting a creative bujo page is a lovely pastime! 

My must-have bullet journal tools include an Artist’s Loft dot grid journalZebra mildlinersPigma microns, and plenty of washi and stickers

For Spoonies: A print bullet journal is ideal for migraines, screen/light sensitivity, and similar concerns. 

Notebook or notepad

If a paper to-do list and note-taking are more your speed, or you have to minimise screen time to ease your condition, a simple notebook or notepad is ideal. Five Star and Mead offer various high-quality spiral notebooks and other supplies. Or, a legal pad provides even greater convenience—no need to bother opening a cover! For smaller, portable options, I love these notepads or these miniature composition books.

Of course, you’ll need something to write on that paper, right? I turn to Pentel mechanical drafting pencils or Dixon TICONDEROGA and these gorgeous rose gold pens or BIC Atlantis ballpoints. If you struggle to use a typical pen or pencil, check out adaptive writing aids or the thicker options made for kids, which offer an easier hold. 

For Spoonies: A simple notepad and pen or pencil is one of the best possible productivity tools for spoonies. There are plenty of accessible options available for every budget, and it’s easier than screens for many disabled users’ eyes.

Planner

Need an option that’s less involved than a bullet journal but offers more structure than a notepad? Finding the right planner can be a game-changer!

Currently, my personal planner is from the Day Designer for Blue Sky collection. I’m considering a switch to a classic Day Designer next year myself, but I’ve had great luck with other Blue Sky options over the years. For alternatives, AT-A-GLANCEDay-Timer, and Passion Planner all offer some beautiful planners! For a low-cost option or additions to your existing planner, check out the free downloads available through Day Designer and Passion Planner.

For Spoonies: A pre-formatted planner offers a low-spoons alternative to a bullet journal but offers more structure than a simple notebook.

Post-It Notes

No matter what other productivity tools you use, post-it notes can be a fantastic addition. Stick them on your laptop or device of choice, your bathroom mirror, or on your go-to water bottle to remind yourself of whatever you need to recall. 

Scribble out your to-do list for the day or write out an inspiring quote to brighten your morning. Mark the date in your planner or add tabs to your bullet journal. Use eye-catching colours so you can’t miss your post-it, or opt for pastels for an option that’s easier on the eyes. 

For Spoonies: Post-it notes go wherever you are, whether that’s the office or your bed. They’re a versatile option with a wide variety of colours to choose from!

Analog Productivity Tools

Focus & Motivation

Between brain fog and managing other symptoms, focus and motivation are rather hard to come by for those of us with chronic illnesses. If a tool helps you stay focused or gather the inspiration you need to get through the day, it certainly counts as a productivity tool for spoonies. 

Flora

Another item from my best apps for spoonies list, Flora is an excellent tool for avoiding the inevitable distractions of a smartphone. If you’re easily distracted and find yourself scrolling through social media or opening a game when you pick up your phone to check the time, Flora can help motivate you to break that habit. 

Distractions

This unconventional productivity tool isn’t for everyone. For many spoonies, though, a purposeful distraction can actually boost your focus and motivation.

Audio or video

Turn on a longtime favourite show on Hulu (my go-to’s are Bob’s Burgers or A Haunting) or an inspiring Spotify playlist to serve as a backdrop to your work. Invest in a pair of Aftershokz for an earbud that lets you hear anything else (a great benefit if you suffer from anxiety). Or, if you prefer a noise-cancelling option, try a pair like these rose gold Bose wireless headphones.

Fidget toys

Beyond the fidget spinner trend of 2017, stim toys or jewellery benefit those with autism, ADHD, sensory disorders, and other conditions. Stimtastic is my personal favourite source of stim toysfidget jewellery, and even chewellery! My go-to’s are my chewable bat necklaceinfinite rings fidget, and a slow-rise squishy. Of course, I’ve got quite the wish list, too! I hope to get other squishies, their new chewable cat and dog, silicone spoons and straws, a cats in space marble maze, and a mesh marble fidget. Like other productivity tools for spoonies, fidget toys, and other stim supplies will help you stay on top of your tasks despite any symptoms. 

Productivity Tools for Spoonies Focus and Distraction

Environmental Factors

While not a productivity tool in terms of a product, your environment plays a significant role in how productive you can be, especially when dealing with health issues. By making sure you’re as comfortable as possible, you’ll be setting yourself up for success!

Hydration & Nutrition

One of my favourite tools for spoonie life is this interactive self-care guide. It’s no surprise that food and drink (and any necessary medications) are the first few suggestions it makes! 

Stay hydrated by drinking more water. Keep it cold in a BrüMateTervis tumblerHydro Flask, or S’well bottle, or take advantage of some extra insulation from YETI or Camelbak products. Don’t think a water bottle is a productivity tool? Think again! 

If you struggle with drinking plain water, adding a packet of Liquid IV or using a Cirkul cartridge can add some flavour, while a SodaStream system will create custom-made sparkling options. If you’re still struggling, tea can be the next-best drink for staying hydrated

Food-wise, it’s important to fuel yourself with regular meals when possible. But, if you’re stuck in bed or can’t find the energy to cook and be productive, a nutritious snack can help! I’m currently loving Partake cookies, and shops like Thrive Market offer plenty of vegan, gluten-free, and other good-for-you snacks and food items. 

Comfort & Symptom Relief

Life with chronic illness means it’s hard to get comfortable, much less stay comfortable over time. But, as much as it’s possible, staying comfortable can become one of your go-to productivity tools for spoonies! 

If it’s the most you can manage, there’s no shame in working from your pajamas—I have a few pairs like these from Victoria’s Secret, which are both cute and comfy! If you’re more productive in actual clothes but still want to stay comfortable, try a pair of Aerie leggings (their OFFLINE OG line is my favourite cosy option), a lounge set, or a jumpsuit or romper (another personal favourite—you look put-together without the effort of putting on pants!). 

In terms of staying productive, managing your symptoms more directly can help, too. Put together a spoonie survival kit with relief options. This might include medications, an eye mask or sunglasses, muscle rub, tea, stim toys, or other items that ease your worst flares. 

Cleanliness & Organisation

In addition to being comfortable in terms of fuel, clothing, and relief, working in a clean/organised environment can make any spoonie (or, for that matter, anyone) more productive. But, when you live with disabilities or chronic illness, it’s that much harder to stay on top of chores and housework. 

Unf*ck Your Habitat is my go-to tool for making a difference in a brief spurt of time. When I have a few minutes of energy without an immediate task, I’ll turn to Ufyh’s Challenge! feature for a cleaning mission in the room of my choice, for a duration of time I can work with (or, often, randomised). 

Productivity Tools for Spoonies Environment

Simplification

When push comes to shove, all the task management, colour-coded planners, and reminders can only do so much for our productivity. Like it or not, some to-dos are just too hard to accomplish on a bad pain day or without triggering a flare. By simplifying some or all of these must-dos (or cutting out what’s not really necessary or improving your life), you can cut back on the toll they take. 

These are just a few of my favourite areas to simplify, but the options are practically limitless! 

Grocery shopping

You need to eat, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend an afternoon at the supermarket. Tools like Walmart GroceryThrive MarketAmazon Fresh, or Instacart will bring your food and other items to your door, or at least your trunk. They may not be marketed as a technical productivity tool or productivity tools for spoonies in particular, but they’ll undoubtedly increase your productivity. 

Current Events

If you want to stay on top of what’s going on globally, there’s no shortage of reputable news sources. But, whether you have limited spoons or your anxiety spirals when you see the not-so-pleasant headlines, current events can be less than ideal. Newsletters like The NewsetteMorning Brew, or Refinery29’s This AM can give you your daily dose of news without overwhelming updates. 

Automations

In various aspects of your life, automations offer increased productivity, especially for us with chronic illness. The less effort you need to keep up with your systems, the more easily you’ll be able to stay on top of them. That’s why Zapier and IFTTT are two of my favourite productivity tools for spoonies, or anyone, for that matter! Paired with your favourite Alexa skills or other home automation tools, you can slowly bring you closer to the most productivity possible. 

 

What productivity tools do you recommend for spoonies? Let us know in the comments or @anideallifeblog across social media!

 

Mini - An Ideal Life Mini - An Ideal Life

A Very Witchy Etsy Haul

For a long time, I’ve been exploring my spiritual beliefs and practices. Today, they’re still developing and I’m still learning. But, in the process of figuring things out, I’ve fallen pretty solidly into the category of “witch.”  Most recently, this manifested as a very witchy Etsy haul!

Crystals, by far, are the witchy supplies I’ve been collecting the longest. I can remember an elementary school trip to a local mine, where I found an amethyst-coloured stone embossed with the image of a silver cat. I still have a box filled with rocks I picked up over years of adventuring with my grandparents. My family’s favourite local amusement park has a mining museum, where I’d always run my fingers through their bin of tumbled stones.

Later, I started collecting crystals that were more purposefully metaphysical, and adding in other tools, like herbs. Back in Gettysburg, I’d turn to The Crystal Wand at their previous location. In Bath, Arcania was my go-to. But today, in middle-of-nowhere, PA, my options are limited. That’s where Etsy comes in and saves the day!

I’m a long-time browser of Etsy for witchcraft supplies and more. But this was the first time I really dived into Etsy shops with the sole intention of purchasing some magickal supplies. I’m happy to say it was immensely successful! I’ve grown my collection by leaps and bounds with new crystals, herbs, candles, jewellery, and other tools to enhance my spiritual practice.

BlueWynter

I’ve actually made a few separate purchases from BlueWynter over the past few months! Their jewellery, crystals, and other pieces are so beautiful, and their customer service is unparalleled—I’ve received a few lovely complimentary pieces in addition to my orders and each fit my intentions perfectly.

Witchy Etsy Jewellery
Wire-wrapped necklace, lapis lazuli ring, rose quartz ring (with sunstone & melting quartz, I believe!), unakite heart necklace, rose quartz & garnet bracelet, lapis lazuli pendant, fluorite pendant by BlueWynter; green aventurine and jade pendants from WitheringEye

These are just a few of the pieces I selected, but be sure to check out the full BlueWynter inventory—there’s so much to enjoy!

It’s also worth noting that BlueWynter has frequent sales, so you can stock up on all the magickal jewellery and other items on your wish list!

The Serene witch

I came across The Serene Witch while searching for magickal items that were specific to Hekate, the deity I’ve been working with the longest (at least in terms of non-Christian figures).

Witchy Supplies Etsy
Box from Withering Eye, Hekate serenity beads from The Serene Witch, bell & key from MysticalFaerieCo

I selected a pair of prayer beads for myself, but they’ve also got keychains and other lovely pieces

Mysticalfaerieco

I first came across MysticalFaerieCo while searching for an altar bell. I fell in love with this vintage bronze bell and skeleton key, particularly with the key’s associations with Hekate.

Witchcraft Supplies Etsy
Scrying bowl from MysticalFaerieCo, selenite and self-love crystals from BlueWynter, Tangerine Quartz from WitheringEye

Moonstone and LAzuli

Moonstone and Lazuli was actually one of the first shops I came across, but some technical issues delayed my order a bit. I was thrilled to pick up some lovely items once those were sorted, including a blue goldstone, selenite stick, amazonite, tiger’s eye, indigenous-owned juniper-pine-spruce-sage bundle, and some mystery items.

Healing Crystals Etsy
Various crystals, including tiger’s eye, blue goldstone, and selenite from Moonstone and Lazuli

WitheringEye

WitheringEye is another shop I’ve found myself returning to for repeat purchases. One of my goals with these Etsy orders was to find an array of new-to-me pieces, and “witch kits” or boxes were an easy way to do just that. Their traveling altars and spell kits were perfect!

Altar Supplies Etsy
Altar tray, offering bowl, herbs, and candles from WitheringEye; incense from Moonstone and Lazuli, satchet of vervain from Vampire Obsessed

Each kit is prepared in a gorgeous thrifted box. It’s clear that so much care and attention goes into each order. Even with some shipping issues (UPS somehow overlooked the various “fragile”markings and damage several items), Kendall was responsive and attentive. I know I’ll be returning to WitheringEye for more magickal boxes!

Because each set is uniquely assembled, my exact items are no longer available. But WitheringEye has a wide array of beautiful witch kits in stock! I selected a Green Witch Kit, Hekate Offering Kit, Altar Kit, Traveling Altar, Money/Prosperity Spell Jar Kit, and Dream Work Kit. I’ve added some gorgeous vintage boxes, crystals, herbs, candles, and other beautiful pieces to my collection through these kits!

Santa Muerte Rosaries

I found myself pulled to Santa Muerte only recently but that call was strong. I took to Etsy in search of some Santa Muerte-specific pieces and Santa Muerte Rosaries came through!

Santa Muerte Etsy

For my initial order, I chose a white acrylic & howlite rosary and a Santa Muerte statuette/keychain. They came with some wonderful insights into Santísima and, while we’re still getting to know each other, I think she appreciates them, too. I’m so looking forward to incorporating these in my practice!

Schmerbals Herbals

I mentioned Schmerbals Herbals in my post on where to find the best teas online, but found them in my spiritual supplies search. I’m excited to try my hand at crafting some custom tea blends in addition to using these for spellwork!

Witchy Etsy Haul
Boxes & herbs from WitheringEye, spoon from MysticalFaerieCo, citrine from BlueWynter

For my initial order, I picked up some yerba mate, lavender, blue vervain, valerian root, eucalyptus, dandelion root, elderberry, ashwagandha, hibiscus, raspberry leaf, feverfew, peppermint, white willow bark, and marshmallow root (powder and organic).

Grey Kindred Spirits

Grey Kindred Spirits

Grey Kindred Spirits isn’t technically a part of this witchy Etsy haul, but deserve a shoutout nevertheless. In addition to spells and rituals, Lask and Spencer perform a variety of pro bono and discounted spellwork, including LGBTQ+ supportprotection of abused partners and families, among others.

Consider commissioning a reading or ritual from Grey Kindred Spirits to help support their work!

Vampire obsessed shop

One more bonus addition is called for here—the Vampire Obsessed Shop by HairSheBowsDesign. While not a shop with a spiritual focus, I know I can’t be the only witch who still loves the Cullens and Salvatore brothers. You’ll find a variety of vampiric pieces, including Bella’s moonstone ring and Elena’s locket! The latter even comes with a satchet of vervain to stock your locket—and protect yourself from compulsion, of course.

I’ll undoubtedly return to these shops and discover others over time, but I’m so happy with my initial witchy Etsy haul! These crystals, herbs, and other magickal supplies have already enhanced my spiritual practice and I can hardly wait to embrace them further.

Mini - An Ideal Life
Mini - An Ideal Life

The Best Professional & Personal Development Books on my TBR

The Best Professional and Personal Development Books on My TBR

Recently, I had some spare funds to invest in my businesses. My freelance services were my top priority, but I’m hoping to help An Ideal Life, my writing, and Nightingale & Sparrow, too. As a writer and enthusiastic reader, books were, of course, at the top of my wish list! With that in mind, I chose some of the best professional and personal development books on my TBR and ordered quite the book haul.

I’m balancing these reads with my Pencils & Pages reviews and my personal reading, so I’ve only made my way through a few of these so far. But I’m so excited to dive in further!

Some of these have been on my wish list for literal years, through recommendations in podcasts, webinars, YouTube videos, and other books. I came across others while compiling this haul, thanks to their subject matter, author, and/or glowing reviews. There are even a few here that I was previously given a chance to review on NetGalley! My health issues mean digital copies take me much longer to read. So, I decided to indulge in print copies of a few I’ve started to enjoy, both to review them in a more timely manner and to support their authors.

Curious about the other books I’m reading? I’ve got a post for that! 

Rather than presenting a lengthy “best professional and personal development books” list, I’ve separated this post into categories.  Of course, there’s plenty of overlap! First up, we’ve got books focused primarily on productivity. Then, there are some more general personal development books covering topics like creativity and well-being. Next, we have some books targeted to entrepreneurs and freelancers, looking at business, balance, courage, and best practices. Additionally, I ordered an assortment of books targeted to authors and creative writers–perhaps a topic for a future post here or on Pencils & Pages?

I fall into these target audiences and look to these subjects frequently, not just in professional and personal development books but in all mediums. Still, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that books have a special place in my heart! After all, I have a separate blog specifically for book reviews and have written quite a few of my own (with more to come!).

Best Productivity Books

Best Productivity Books

Looking for more Marie Kondo? Read all about my KonMari journey so far!

Best Personal Development Books

Best Personal Development Books (1)

Best Personal Development Books (2)

Best Books for Entrepreneurs & Freelancers

Best Books for Entrepreneurs

Best Books for Freelancers

Of course, there are more professional and personal development books on my wish list and TBR—but I’ve got plenty of reading to do before investing in another haul!

Do you have any other professional or personal development books you’d recommend? Anxiously Awaiting my thoughts on a particular title? Let me know in the comments or at @anideallifeblog!

Mini - An Ideal Life
Mini - An Ideal Life
Mini - An Ideal Life

Productivity with Chronic Illness

Productivity with Chronic Illness

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I live with a slew of chronic conditions. With an assortment of physical and mental illnesses both formally diagnosed and suspected, a day rarely goes by without struggling with symptoms of some sort. At the same time, though, I’m chronically busy—I run this blog and all that goes with it, run Nightingale & Sparrow, a small press & literary magazine, publish my own writing, and offer a variety of freelance services to pay the bills. And that’s not counting the basic requirements of adulthood—like managing my budget, cooking, and keeping my space clean & organised—or the less-mandatory-but-not-optional to-dos, like exercising, personal development work, spiritual tasks, social connections, and the occasional bit of relaxation.

With all this on my plate—and, more literally, on my calendar—it’s hard not to feel overwhelmed more often than not. I deal with bouts of burnout far more often than is healthy, creating another nasty cycle on top of my health issues. Ass a result of all of this, I constantly feel as if I’m behind on, frankly, everything.

To some degree, I can only blame myself—I’m ambitious to a fault and have always been one to take on more than I should. On countless occasions, I’ve made the half-joking comment that I genuinely don’t know how to relax. At the same time, though, many of these tasks are unavoidable and, if it’s technically optional, it’s likely something that’s on there because I genuinely want to do it. Without those want-to-dos, how could life be worth living? Nobody, myself included, wants to spend all of their capable hours on non-negotiable, must-do tasks.

Productivity with chronic illness

With all that in mind, I need to figure out how to be productive despite the obstacles. Recently, chronic illness is the roadblock that’s been making my life the most difficult. A few of my conditions have been flaring up on top of some acute issues, leaving me with painfully little time when I feel relatively healthy. Between the pain, fatigue, brain fog, and other concerns, it even took me quite some time to realise how much of an issue it had become!

Once I made that realisation, I quickly set to researching how to be productive with chronic illness. I’ve spent a ridiculous time searching Pinterest, Reddit, Google, and every resource I could get my hands on, seeking out the ways people thrive with conditions like depression, fibromyalgia, anxiety, lupus, PTSD, chronic fatigue, autism, ADHD, migraines, and so on. From that and my own experience, I’ve worked to create this post, a sort of guide to productivity with chronic illness. I hope it will help me better manage life while giving my fellow spoonies the support they need to do the same!

Reset your expectations.

I’d argue that this is a vital first step to being productive with chronic illness—and the one I struggle with most. If you have a disability (or, like me, several), you can’t expect yourself to have the same level of activity as someone whose most significant health issue was a cold they had three years ago. And, if you developed your condition(s) later in life, you can’t expect to accomplish the same amount of tasks in a day you once could have.

I find this especially difficult as a multi-passionate entrepreneur and single head of household (I only rent a room, but it’s still got all those unavoidable adult responsibilities!). Try as I might to purge my Todoist projects, there are some tasks that I need to get done. Plus, they typically have to be done on a deadline, or at least promptly. As a lifelong overachiever, how can I better handle the fact that sometimes it’s genuinely not possible to do everything on my list? More importantly, how do I reframe my expectations to recognise that this is simply a fact of disabled life, not some personal shortcoming?

As of yet, I don’t have a perfect answer for these. But hopefully, with time & effort, I will.

Find the right tools for you.

I love Todoist for keeping track of my never-ending list of projects & responsibilities. I’ve been a subscriber for a few months now and, while I’ve lapsed at times and my projects are terribly in need of a tidy, it’s one of the most effective tools I’ve used so far.

More recently, I signed up for a 30-day trial of Amazing Marvin. I’m still learning the ins and outs of this one, but I love it! The mascot is adorable, and the task jar is something I’ve been searching for for ages. I found Marvin while searching for a tool that would let me mark both due dates and “do” dates—another benefit.

These are just a few of the endlessly growing list of productivity tools I’ve tried, not to mention my bullet journalDay Designer planner, and other systems I’ve tested out. In short, find a tool that works for you—and it’s okay if that changes over time. If you’re looking for suggestions beyond mine, it can be helpful to search some variant of “productivity apps for [insert condition or symptom here].” Whether it’s brain fogADHD, or spoonie life in general, there’s probably a list out there with recommendations that offers a great starting point.

Experiment as much as you can.

I suggest this tip with a warning: if you aren’t careful, trying new productivity tools or chronic illness treatments can become another distraction or overwhelming project. But, if you can focus a reasonable amount, trying new things can be a great way to find the best products and services for you.

For productivity, in particular, search for a new tool when you find you can’t stick to your current system. Or, try a different option for managing the symptoms that frustrate you. Maybe CBD is the key to easing your anxiety (I’ve had luck with Wink’s CBD products!). Trello could be the project management app that finally gets you through that assignment you’re putting off. When the need arises, the more options you test out, the more likely you’ll find the right fit.

Connect with others who struggle.

In-person or online, connecting with others who struggle with productivity and chronic illness is a fantastic way to find advice. If you have friends or acquaintances who suffer from the same conditions as you do or similar symptoms and productivity problems, talk to them about ways you can help each other thrive.

If your IRL friend group is lacking in this department, the internet is ready to help. I’ve found Facebook groups to be particularly helpful (spend some time searching for your condition or symptoms, and Reddit seems to have some excellent chances to connect with others, too.

Rest, and then rest some more.

Another vital step that I overlook all too often! Whatever your condition(s), your body is constantly working to handle chronic illness symptoms. It’s hardly surprising that you face fatigue! Whenever possible, take time to rest when you need it. If you’re exhausted by 8 pm, can your remaining to-dos wait until morning? When you can’t keep your eyes open, can you let yourself take an afternoon nap? Part of why I can’t imagine doing something besides freelancing is the freedom to rest when my body needs it.

Similarly, I’ve found that I can’t sacrifice sleep and remain semi-functional, especially as I get older. Anything less than seven hours—maybe six and a half—and I need a nap by mid-morning! Here, too, I recognise the importance of rest in maintaining productivity with chronic illness.

Reconsider your workload.

Hear me out with this one, using my situation as an example. Overall, I can’t fathom paring much from my to-do list, however long it becomes. I take on a lot, but these are either projects I love or those I need to survive. But, within those projects, I’m learning where to cut back.

Right now, I’m focusing on this with my freelance work in particular. For far too long, I’ve worked ridiculous hours for painfully little income. I’ll raise my rates by Q3 to better reflect costs of living, business expenses, and market averages. From there, I’ll cut down the freelance work I have at one time and earn a survival-ready wage in the process.

If you’re a freelancer like me, be sure to check your rates and other policies regularly. Are you pushing yourself too hard for too little reward? In a more conventional job, this might be a more difficult task. But, even then, consider: how can you adjust your workload, with or without trimming your project list? Then, do the same for projects in your personal life.

Be flexible.

One of the best productivity tools in my arsenal so far is simply maintaining some flexibility. I love the concept of unflappable routines, consistent habits, and practical constraints. But my various disabilities have other ideas.

As much as possible, I try to stick to my routines, keep up my habit streaks, and stop drinking coffee by 5 pm. But, when I can’t get out of bed, a migraine makes Duolingo impossible, or I can hardly stay awake to meet a deadline? Well, as they say, rules were meant to be broken—especially when it comes to being productive with chronic illness.

Bend, Adapt, or break the rules.

The standard “rules” of productivity weren’t exactly made with disabled, neurodiverent, or otherwise chronically ill people in mind. If you can manage your symptoms to work efficiently within those existing standards, that’s great! But, if not, consider adjusting the rules to better work with you.

Know you’ll work better with a stim toy or cuddly friend at your side? Let Teddy become your assistant—Bruce the Beaver is usually sitting with me as I work! If you’re in a more public workspace and anxious about having a toy, stim jewelry offers a more subtle option.

If you can’t overcome executive dysfunction or depression to wipe the dishes before running the dishwasher, run the dishwasher twice. Can’t focus on a task long enough to utilise time blocking? Jump around if it makes you more effective! Struggling to find a tool that works for you? Use Amazing Marvin’s Christina as inspiration and create something all your own! Who says you can’t adjust some norms to better meet you where you are? More often than not, absolutely no one.

How do you stay productive with disabilities?

Despite this rather lengthy post, I’m still learning how to balance productivity with chronic illness. I’ll be sure to report back as I get better at this balancing act and hit a productive sort of stride. And, in the meantime, I’d love to hear your favourite chronic illness-friendly productivity tools and tips! Or, if you test out any of my advice for yourself, be sure to let me know in the comments or @anideallifeblog.
Mini - An Ideal Life

The Best Online Tea Shops

I love tea. For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved tea in various forms—hot or iced, sweetened or highlighting just the right combination of herbs for a flavour that doesn’t need add-ins to be delicious. From the local dairy that sells iced tea with a cult following to the never-ending search for a perfect Earl Grey, I’m always looking for new teas to try. As a result, I’m constantly seeking the best online tea shops. 

I’ve been lucky enough to find a few lovely tea shops in person over the years, like Voila! in Frederick, MD. But, in each case, it’s not local, meaning I can’t restock very often. And, of course, I can find enough tea to satiate a craving. The options are then limited—basically an assortment of black or green tea bags and likely a chai or decaf option. If I’m lucky, there might be a few herbal varieties and a Yogi tea or two (Yogi makes some of my favourites!). 

Recently, I replaced my electric kettle, which disappeared in my last move. That could only mean one thing—I need more tea! So, I took to the web, seeking out the best tea I could find online. I turned to a few sites I usually use, as well as a new addition or two. And I’m excited to share these fantastic online tea shops here on the blog! 

Harney & Sons

I discovered Harney teas a while back and quickly fell in love with their beautiful tins and delicious blends. And, when you use my referral link, you can save $5 on your first order of $30 or more! 

My favourites:

Best for: an aesthetically pleasing, indulgent tea cabinet

Sips by

I was eyeing Sips by for quite a while before I finally took the plunge and signed up for a customised box. I skip months more often than I get the month’s order but, whenever I do, I’m thrilled with the results! Few things bring me as much joy as a box of happiness waiting in the mail, and Sips by is one of the happiest. 

Get your Sips by Box here.

Best for: finding new teas you’re sure to love. 

Dollar Tea Club

Dollar Tea Club is the newest online tea shop I’ve tried out, and I love it so far. I haven’t tried much of the tea just yet but, with my second order arriving next week, I’m looking forward to identifying my favourites! I do especially love my mesh heart infuser, though. I picked out that and a ball infuser with my first order—the latter arrived without its hook on the end, but a paperclip quickly fixed any inconvenience. Both work beautifully!

Use code REFHT2MVXYBDC for $1 off your first order!

Dollar Tea Club Referral Code

Best for: Anyone trying out tea or wanting to find what they like most

Snarky tea

My mom introduced me to Snarky Tea with their Just Chill Out relaxing tea. It’s quickly become one of my favourites and, by far, has the most profound effect on me out of all my teas. It’s hard not to fall asleep soon after I’ve finished a cup! I haven’t tried their other blends yet, but I have no doubt they’ll be wonderful if Just Chill Out is any indication.

Best for: Anyone wanting a side of sass with their tea

Adagio Teas

Adagio Teas have been on my wish list since college when a friend recommended them. They offered such a glowing reference that I knew I’d be in for a treat once I finally try it! I actually have a cart waiting for my very first order—I’ll be sure to report back with my thoughts once I’ve given Adagio’s tea a try.

My wish list: 

Schmerbals Herbals

I stumbled across Schmerbals Herbals on Etsy while browsing for witchy supplies (I’ll have another post in the queue soon outlining my findings there!). I love their wide range of organic herbs—with affordable prices! This shop is another I haven’t tried for myself just yet, but I’ll report back once I have. I’m excited to try my hand at creating my own blends!

My Wish List: 

Mini - An Ideal Life

I love a good cup of tea, so few things excite me as much as finding the best online tea shops to replenish my supply. Any suggestions? Let me know of any recommendations in the comments!

Mini - An Ideal Life

My Path to Burnout Remission

My Path to Burnout Remission

For my entire adult life, I’ve been working, typically an assortment of jobs simultaneously. In college, for example, I had five jobs and internships at once (on top of my double-major, double-minor course-load). Even now, several years post-grad, I’ve kept the habit, with three online businesses (including this blog!), and my writing career, not to mention my professional/personal development efforts, household tasks, and other requirements of adulthood.

After more than a decade of over-booking my schedule, I’ve gotten pretty good at juggling all these metaphorical balls in the air. But, even still, I know it’s not sustainable. More often than not, I’m flirting with burnout, if not outright wallowing in its depths. I find myself overwhelmed and overworked, skipping meals and workouts to work more but struggling to focus on the task at hand all the more as a result.

Lately, I’ve noticed the tell-tale signs of burnout setting in. I’m physically and emotionally exhausted. I look at my work and hit a mental block. My to-do list has fallen into disarray, causing more stress than it alleviates. It feels like there’s no time to do any of the many tasks that have fallen to the wayside and when I finally convince myself to do one, it’s a grueling process. At best, I make it through one or two of my to-dos. At worst, I find myself scrolling through my phone, beating myself up for my lack of productivity.

Funnily enough, I actually missed posting last week—despite this post being scheduled—because I was feeling the effects of burnout so heavily!

This struggle on top of my existing health issues (both mental & physical) make for a particularly painful combination—and one that I just can’t keep up. So, while I’m not sure burnout can really be cured, I’m working towards burnout remission.

My path to burnout remission, or at least my plan to follow as I try to get there, is based on plenty of research (and some extra time digging through Pinterest). I’m sure it will change over time, but these are the methods I’m implementing upfront. 

Say yes to myself.

I finished Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes a few weeks back and can say without a doubt that it changed my life—and I’m confident it will continue to. The portion that stands out the most to me, in retrospect, is the idea of saying yes to play.

In terms of my path to burnout remission, I’m committing to saying yes to all things fun. One of the animals comes over to snuggle? Cuddling for a while will do us both some good. My sister wants to watch a movie? I can rearrange my schedule and make some time. The opportunity to do something spontaneous presents itself? There’s no reason not to snatch it.

Listen to my body.

Slowly, I’m getting better at the basics, like remembering to take medicine when something hurts or taking time to nap when I can’t keep my eyes open much longer. But I’m determined to tune in even further.

Desperately want a certain food? I’ll enjoy it whenever possible. Ignoring the symptoms of dehydration for far too long? It’s time to drink some water (not just another cup of coffee). Tense or just feeling the need to stretch? There’s a reason I subscribe to Down Dog.

Maintain the simplest habits.

When burnout gets bad, I’ve noticed that the simplest of habits seem to become impossible. I don’t drink water or eat fresh foods. My vitamins go back in their weekly case after a day of neglecting them. I stop meditating and fall behind on my learning efforts, like online courses and Duolingo.

This time, I’m trying to cover these basics before I dive continue down this path to burnout remission. I’ve downloaded a tracking app and inputted some of these simple habits—now I’ve just got to stick to them!

Delegate when I can.

Right now, I’m not able to hire an assistant or bring on others in most of my businesses. As I work to grow the funds I’m bringing in, I hope to hire a VA to help manage some of my tasks (and support a fellow freelancer!).

For the time being, I’ll try to delegate what I can. At Nightingale & Sparrow, I have an incredible team of volunteers working on the literary magazine, and we’ll be adding a few new birds to the nest soon. At home, I’ll work with family to let others tackle tasks I can’t find time to manage. And, when the opportunity arises, I’ll bring on additional help to keep things going and growing.

Create & implement systems.

I’ve been wanting to create & implement systems for various parts of my life for a while. With suspected autism/ADHD and other issues, I think an outlined process for my recurring tasks would save so much time and energy, not to mention mental fatigue!

So far, I’ve struggled to determine the best methods for documenting these systems, much less creating them. But, with some more brainstorming and potential research, I’ll figure it out eventually. Feel free to comment with suggestions if you’ve got them!

Set categorised short-term goals.

I have a detailed five-year plan outlinging my goals in various subsets of my life, similarly to my 101 in 1,001 list. In the past, I broke those down into yearly, quarterly, weekly, and daily mini goals. Lately, though, that breakdown has fallen to the wayside, too.

As I plan ahead, I’m trying out a sort of opposite method this time. I’ll be setting short-term goals outright, with the backdrop of my ultimate milestones. Best of all, I’m starting today, with the start of a fresh, new quarter! Few things motivate me as much as a blank slate, however unimportant that might be in the grand scheme of things.

Raise my rates.

This one is very specific to my businesses (particularly my freelance business), but I’m determined to start charging what I’m worth for products and services. Because I’ve struggled with money so much myself, I tend to undercharge in the hopes of being more accessible to people like me. But, in the process, I’m maintaining my own financial struggle and forcing myself into a perpetual cycle of overworking for underearning.

So, I’ll be raising my rates, researching industry standards and factoring in my skills and experience. If someone approaches me with financial need, and I’m in the position to take on the work at a discounted rate, I’ll work with them. But, if I don’t set myself up for success and self-worth upfront, I’ll just return to burnout with painful regularity.

Learn new tools to beat burnout.

I love personal development work, so I have plenty of background in various tips and methods that could help me combat symptoms of burnout. But, even still, there’s no shortage of new tools to be learned!

Recently, I invested in a massive haul of professional/personal development books (perhaps a future post or series?). As I work through them, I’m determined to take action and implement what I learn to be a happier, healthier version of me.

What’s your best method for reaching burnout remission?

Mini - An Ideal Life
Vegan Sausage Pasta Bake

Vegan Sausage Pasta Bake

Recently, a local market had a sudden influx of plant-based options—Lightlife Smoky Bacon Tempeh, Plant-Based Bratwurst, and Gardein sliced Italian saus’ge. This shop has constantly revolving inventory, so I knew I had to stock up, and stock up I did! I found that the “bacon” was quite tasty on its own (I love tempeh) and the bratwurst went beautifully with some simple broccoli. The Italian saus’ge slices reminded me of meatball pizza (which I had to make, of course). But that led to a bit of an Italian food streak, including a vegan sausage pasta bake.

Jump to Recipe

Now, I’m a big fan of pasta. I eat some sort of it at least once a week. More realistically, it’s far more often. Usually, it’s simple pasta with sauce, and maybe some Earth Grown (Aldi) or Gardein meatballs. Sometimes it’s my go-to vegan alfredo recipe. Now, it just might be this vegan sausage pasta bake!

Looking for some other vegan-friendly recipes? Check out our archive! 

Besides eating far too much of it, my favourite experience with this pasta bake actually has to do with my non-vegan sister. I made a dish of this pasta for the first time and sat it on the stove to cool a bit before diving in. I left the room and my sister went into the kitchen for something. When she saw the casserole dish of warm pasta, she thought it was something our mom had made. She had no idea it was vegan, and even commented on how good it looked! My family doesn’t quite “get” my veganism, so this was a huge win. And, of course, it doesn’t hurt that it taste pretty great.

Vegan Sausage Pasta Bake

I recently tried some new-to-me plant-based foods, including Gardein's sliced Italian sausage, which led to this easy vegan sausage pasta bake!
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8

Equipment

  • Oven
  • Casserole Dish, greased

Ingredients
  

  • 16 ounces pasta prepared
  • 24 ounces tomato sauce
  • 12 ounces non-dairy milk
  • 6-8 ounces vegan mozzarella
  • 4 ounces Gardein plant-based sliced italian saus'ge lightly browned
  • to taste oregano

Instructions
 

  • Preheat oven to 375 F.
  • Add tomato sauce, milk, cooked pasta, and oregano to greased casserole dish and stir to coat.
  • Add sausage slices and cheese to taste (saving some cheese for topping) and stir to combine.
  • Top with cheese and extra oregano, if desired.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese is brown and melted.
  • Serve & enjoy!

Notes

  1. I like to pour the non-dairy milk directly into the tomato sauce jar & shake to get the remnants in there!
  2. I typically use Earth Grown mozzarella shreds. But remember, some vegan cheese won't melt as well as their non-vegan counterparts—but they'll be delicious nevertheless! 
  3. Can substitute Italian seasoning blend in place of oregano, if preferred. 
Keyword Baked, Pasta


Mini - An Ideal Life

Mini - An Ideal Life

Have you made your own version of this pasta bake or another of my vegan recipes? Comment below or tag me at @anideallifeblog if you share on social media!

My Law of Attraction Success Story

My Law of Attraction Success Story

I believe in magic(k). I’m a fan of all things woo-woo, defined by Merriam-Webster as “dubiously or outlandishly mystical, supernatural, or unscientific.” I’m still learning in a lot of ways. My mindset needs a lot of work and I take in personal growth content like my life depends on it. And, to some degree, I guess it does. I’ve been learning about manifestation for years but it suddenly became clear to me just a few months ago. The spark? I experienced my very own law of attraction success story.

In one of many iterations of my learning more about LOA, I set out to make a virtual vision board. With Pinterest at hand, I turned to Canva (the perfect tool for creating a digital vision board!). It was amidst this process that I came across this image:

vintage blush pink skincare fridge
Image by Blondie in the City

At this point, we were a few months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Consequentially, I was a few weeks into my first serious skincare regimen. Although it was a new interest, it was one I was already starting to love (and still do!). As I researched the best products and tools for me, I came across skincare fridges countless times. But, seeing the hefty price tags, I knew it was a long-term addition to my arsenal, at best.

Still, between my newfound love for skincare and the gorgeous aesthetic of this picture, Hayley’s photo made its way onto my vision boards. It fit the mood of my ideal life perfectly. So, even if it didn’t seem possible just yet, it was a must-have addition.

I ended up with two vision boards using the photos I’d accumulated. One was a landscape grid, which I set as my laptop background and the other was horizontal, formatted for my phone’s lock screen. This way, it would be the first thing I’d see whenever I opened or closed my phone or computer!

Canva Grid Vision Board
Canva’s grid feature is perfect for creating a virtual vision board & implementing the law of attraction!

For months, I saw my digital vision boards countless times each day—I spend a lot of time on my phone & computer as I run my businesses! I didn’t see much in terms of success. Like so many others, I struggled through 2020. Still, I stuck with it. And, come autumn, the vision boards paid off.

My mom and I headed out on a (masked) shopping trip, in search of Christmas gifts and a few necessities. As we started into Walmart, we spotted a display of colourful mini fridges as part of their pre-Black Friday offerings. I was excited to see the discounted price, about $25, the vintage style, and the stunning colours.

At first, I was drawn to the gorgeous mint fridge. In part due to my love of Tiffany & Co., mint has been my go-to colour for years! But something about the blush pink stood out to me and I broke my own rule of thumb—I picked up a pink mini fridge and brought it home, adding some of my favourite skincare products and some other goodies.

Get a similar fridge here!

It wasn’t until a few weeks later that I connected the dots. This was the same fridge I’d saved to my vision board! I could hardly believe it—and had a hard time believing that coincidence alone could explain it. Could there be a more mundane explanation, a simple matter of pretty colours catching my eye amidst happenstance? Sure. But I choose to believe in magic(k), manifestation, and the law of attraction…and will keep on working on my mindset.

Because my first law of attraction success story came from my vision boards, I recently recreated them. Who knows what my next manifestation success will be?

Mini - An Ideal Life

Best Springtime Films

Best Springtime Films to Watch This Season

With winter finally coming to a close, we could all use a bit of springtime brightness. This means packing up Rudolph the Red-Nosed ReindeerKrampus, and Elf for the season. We can’t let Christmas movies have all the fun! Instead, check out some of the best springtime films out there for all the flowers, Easter bunnies, and rebirth you could ask for. With direct ties to spring or more subtle springtime vibes, these movies will have you ready for petals and prom—without the threat of pollen you’ll find outside.

Pride & Prejudice

Colin Firth and the BBC portrayal of the classic Jane Austen novel are wonderful. But, when I’m in the mood for something fit for springtime, there’s no contest—the 2005 adaptation reigns supreme. Starring Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen as the iconic Elizabeth Bennet and Fitzwilliam Darcy, this film offers both literal springtime views in its sweeping countryside scenery and the more metaphorical iteration of rebirth in Lizzie and Darcy’s growth through pride and (you guessed it) prejudice.

Tuck Everlasting

I recently stumbled across Tuck Everlasting on Disney+ and it was like the best parts of my childhood came rushing back. Long before I discovered Alexis Bledel as the eponymous Rory Gilmore, I fell in love with Jesse Tuck alongside Winnie. I don’t remember where I got my copy of the Natalie Babbitt novel but it quickly became a favourite. It was a few years before I found out there was a film to go with it. Unsurprisingly, I was just as hooked then. With a magical spring (pun completely intended for the sake of this post) and plenty of beautiful springtime setting, Tuck Everlasting is a must-watch (and must-read!) chunk of springtime.

Get yourself a copy of the book from: Bookshop | BooksAMillion | AbeBooks

The Producers

Musical fans just might have “Springtime for Hitler” stuck in their head all season long. What can I say, the show-within-the-show was meant to be bad, but it’s so darn catchy! The Gene Wilder/Zero Mostel original 1967 film is great and, in a rare case, I’ve really enjoyed the 2005 adaptation of The Producers starring Matthew Broderick and Nathan Lane.

hop

One of the more recent films on this list, this 2011 movie is an animation-live-action-hybrid. I actually saw it for the first time within the past two years or so! It’s hard not to love James Marsden and Kaley Cuoco in any context. But it’s even easier when they’re joined by adorable characters, like Russell Brand’s E.B.. Hop is a great spring film for the family (rated PG for “mild rude humour”), whether you celebrate Easter personally or you just want to watch a funny movie about the springtime holiday.

Easter Parade

This is actually the only film on this list that I haven’t yet watched myself. But it’s most definitely on my list! Starring the incomparable Judy Garland and Fred Astaire, Easter Parade tells the story of performer Don Hewes hiring Hannah Brown, a chorus girl, to prove that he can make anyone a star. Of course, there’s a bit of romance along the way, as well as plenty of musical numbers!

Alice in Wonderland

Whether you’re following the white rabbit or painting the roses red, the springtime vibes in Alice in Wonderland aren’t exactly subtle. With plenty of merch to complement the film (and much of it, of course, showcasing the iconic Cheshire Cat grin), you can watch this one at the start of the season but embrace the Alice in Wonderland aesthetic all year long. Personally, I prefer the animated Disney classic, but the Tim Burton adaptation featuring Johnny Depp’s Mad Hatter is certainly valid, too.

A League of Their Own

For me, one of the best parts of spring starting is the arrival of the softball and baseball seasons. My grandfather was a long-time softball coach), so each season I’d come to the field with him It’s been years since I watched A League of Their Own, but I’m willing to bet those same fuzzy feelings come back with the sound of the bat hitting the ball!

Tangled

You didn’t think I was finished with animated films, did you? From the grassy hills Rapunzel rolls down and the magical flower that gives her hair its flowers to the personal renewal both she and Eugene face by the end of the film, you can’t deny the springtime feeling in Tangled. This Disney princess movie will leave you wanting to reach your dreams this spring (and likely humming “I’ve Got a Dream” while you do). And, of course, you can find plenty of Tangled merchandise, too, from collector-ready pins and dolls to a LEGO tower or plush Pascal!

10 Things I hate About You

Every good film list needs a high school romantic comedy—and a Shakespeare adaptation or two. 10 Things I Hate About You includes plenty of literal springtime, personal growth and new beginnings for its leads, and Heath Ledger at his most adorable alongside Julia Stiles. Believe it or not, I actually hadn’t seen this late-90s classic until watching it for a college course! Needless to say, I’m glad I did.

Whatever your favourite, the right movies can be the perfect start to a new season. Any of these springtime films will have you ready for all things spring!

Looking for more film recommendations? Check out our picks of the best movies for self-care days!

What’s your favourite springtime film?

Mini - An Ideal Life

My Mobile Office in a Bag

My Mobile Office in a Bag

As a full-time freelancerbloggerpoetpublisher, I was working from home long before COVID-19. In fact, I’ve done exclusively remote work since graduating college! With my various chronic illnesses, it’s the best way by far to earn a living without harming my health. Along the way, I found that keeping my most important tools in my very own mobile office in a bag is key to being as productive as possible.

I’m fortunate to have a small section of the living room to use as a workspace. But being a small corner of a room that’s used by the rest of the family, it has limited space for supplies. With that in mind, my mobile office in a bag has become all the more critical.

Really, my office in a bag is used in conjunction with that workspace and a bit of storage space dedicated to my various businesses. With the latter, I can swap out supplies as needed to blog from bed or reach out to clients from my “office.” Not only does this system keep me organised, but it also keeps me from trying to carry more than I should.

My Mobile Office in a Bag

I use this colourful Vera Bradley tote I got in a Her Campus survival kit years ago. It’s slowly starting to show its age with some fraying on the straps, but I absolutely adore it still. It’s the perfect size to hold all my essentials without getting too heavy to manage. Plus, the vivid pattern adds such a (literal) bright spot to my workdays!

What’s in my mobile office in a bag?

As I mentioned above, I swap out certain supplies as needed for the day’s projects. But there are a few pieces that stay in the bag consistently—unless, of course, they’re in use at that moment!

Laptop

When it comes to remote work, a computer is priority number one. This caused some problems last year, as the Chromebook my sister had passed on to me met its fate. For the time being, I’m using an HP Stream to work each day. It’s not perfect, but it gets the job done! And, just as importantly, it was affordable in my desperately-need-a-working-computer-right-now crisis. I plan to upgrade to a Macbook down the road but, for now, the Stream handles my day-to-day business needs. I’ve added plenty of stickers, too, to let it bring a smile to my face!

Stream - My Mobile Office in a Bag

Computer accessories

In addition to my laptop itself, I keep a variety of accessories in my bag to get the most out of my digital efforts. Right now, the list looks like this:

  • Charger (always important!)
  • MicroSD card – a simple microSD card makes up for the Stream’s lack of storage space and lets me salvage files if another computer crisis arises.
  • Laptop sleeve
  • Bluetooth mouse
  • Headphones – I actually use a few, depending on the context! I’ll use my Beats or these wireless Bluetooth headphones for transcription projects or needing to block out noise for focus. On the rare occasion I have to hop on a Zoom call or the like (I’ve only done one, actually—my disabilities aren’t fond of phone/video calls), I switch to these simple earbuds. Hopefully, I’ll be adding a set of AfterShokz to my arsenal soon, too (use my referral link <- to save $10 on your first purchase!).

Blue Light Headphones - My Mobile Office in a Bag

Blue Light Blocking Glasses

From the minimal research I’ve done, there’s little strong evidence to support the need for blue light glasses. But, placebo or not, I seem to see a difference. I snagged a four-pack of blue light glasses on an Amazon lightning deal and keep the pink pair in my mobile office in a bag (inside a simple plastic case from Dollar Tree). The clear pair lives next to my bed, for nights when I can’t resist scrolling until I start getting sleepy!

Planner

After testing out some of their downloadable pages, I knew I wanted to try a Day Designer planner myself. Mine is a part of the Day Designer x Blue Sky collaboration (this one, to be exact!), but reminds me so much of the higher-end flagship planner. The Blue Sky collab is a bit simpler, but the affordability is perfect for my current plans! I pair my planner with these pens to colour-code to my heart’s content—I even keep a colour key washi taped to the inside cover!

Day Designer - My Mobile Office in a Bag

Bullet Journal

In its current stage, I’m not using my bullet journal as a planner. But I am utilising it for a lot! I keep my bullet journal in my mobile office in a bag, as well as an assortment of Sakura Pigma microns, Zebra mildliners, and my favourite Papermate flair pens.

Bullet Journal - My Mobile Office in a Bag

pens

In addition to the pens I use with my planner and bullet journal, I keep others on hand for various note-taking and similar tasks. Right now, I’m absolutely adoring these minimalistic rose gold pens and a Bic Atlantis pen I got as a free sample with a recent Walmart Grocery order.

Pencils

Sometimes you need something erasable! That’s where a trusty pencil comes in—my go-tos are Dixon Ticonderoga or Pentel mechanical drafting pencils.

Highlighters

Zebra mildliners are popular within the bullet journal community, but I use them for so much more than my bullet journal itself! Lately, my most common use for them is with some printables from The Budget Mom. But, really, hardly a day goes by that I don’t pick up my pouch of mildliners for something! More recently, I’ve added a few Stabilo BOSS highlighters and a pack of Pilot FriXion erasable highlighters to my collection, for when I’m looking for a little less variety or greater flexibility.

Notebooks

I have yet to order an entire case of these 3×5 notepads, but I probably should! I insist on having a few of these notebooks (or these similar notepads) on hand for everything from to-do lists to noting important information. They’re so darn convenient! I also try to keep a basic legal pad or two (whether they’re simple white or pretty colours) and will sometimes add a mini composition book for sudden bursts of creative inspiration.

Beyond the bag

I try to keep as much as possible in my mobile office in a bag, for convenience’s sake. But I can’t always include everything! A few essentials that I use daily but don’t necessarily include in the bag:

  • Cell phone & charger – my iPhone XR has pretty good battery life, but I’m on it so consistently that I still need to recharge at the end of the day!
  • Water bottle – I’ll often keep a few different water bottles throughout the day! Most often, I’ll be sipping from my Brumate winesulator or Cirkul bottle.
  • Coffee – if you’ve been following me a while, you know this is a necessity!

As of this writing, these are the must-have items I keep in my mobile office in a bag. And, as I balance my freelance work, blogging, small press, and writing efforts from this tote, I have to say it’s working!
Mini - An Ideal Life

Mini - An Ideal Life

Do you use a mobile office in a bag? What do you include in yours?