My Everything/Forever List

That's it. I'm doing it. I'm making a list for "everything else" that's never going to be finished because I keep adding to it. Where does this list currently exist? In my head.

Yeah, like many women, I have the running list of everything I need to do, want to do, hope to do, just going on and on and on in my brain. Well, I'm tired of it. It's time to just put it on the list when I think of it (or when I get a second to write). Then I can stop thinking about it and start planning and doing, which sounds pretty appealing. 

Rules of the List

  • Number the list because it's fun
  • When an item is complete, "cross it off" the list 
    • Write a blog post about it and include at least ONE picture
  • Add the date the item went on the list
  • Add the date the item was completed


So here goes…My Everything/Forever List

  1. Make a list for a week of work lunches/snacks
  2. Start making hummus (10/23/13)
  3. Start using homemade wipes again (10/23/13)
  4. Re-read the Five Languages of Love (10/23/13)
  5. Design Elliott's birth announcement (he's only 3 months old already!) (10/23/13)
  6. Send pictures to Minnesota family monthly (10/23/13)
  7. Start a "Baby Mamas" group at work (10/23/13)
  8. Go the Seafood Buffet at the CDA Casino with friends (10/23/13)
  9. DONE on 10/23/2013! Go to luncheon and donate to Transition (10/23/13)
  10. Make a bigger breastmilk storage box for freezer (10/23/13)
  11. Redesign MyHappyLists blog (11/21/13)
  12. Write at least once per week (11/21/13)
  13. Start a tradition of weekly date nights with daughter (11/21/13)
  14. Experiment with different eczema treatments for Baby E and myself (11/21/13)
  15. Create a visual tracking at home for goals (exercise & chores) (11/21/13)


Simplify for Success

This list is for the things that will help me be more successful by simplifying tasks.

  1. Leave a bag of frozen berries at work (instead of bringing a cup every day and then not bringing them) (10/24/2013)

Ways to Improve Focus at Work

I am really struggling today to get focused on work. I'm juggling a few different projects with similar deadlines, and I'm finding that I quiickly lose interest in all of them as soon as I start working on them. So what happens? I switch between projects repeatedly, which means I have about 30 windows open on my desktop, including Facebook and my personal email (tsk, tsk). 



If you ever have days (or weeks) like this, try using some of the following ideas to get focused at work. As soon as I'm done writing this (giving myself a 7-minute time limit to finish it), I'm going to do #1. 

#1 – Set the timer for 45-minutes & turn off EVERY unrelated distraction

I set the alarm on my phone for 45 minutes from now and I turn off every distraction. For me, that means closing every window and tab on my computer that is not DIRECTLY related to the task at hand. I tell myself, when that alarm goes off, I can reward myself. Until then, all I can do is the project at hand.

This method usually results in the same amount of work as a 3-hour chunk of time with all those distractions. 

#2 – Measure your tasks & time to deadline

Make a list of all of the tasks you need to complete to finish said project. Now make a time estimate for each of those tasks. How many working days until your deadline? Divide those days by the total amount of time. That's how much you need to spend each day before your project is due. It's a good idea to add a couple extra hours in there for when things go wrong, too. 

Put your time in at the beginning of the days so that if you want (or are able to), you can spend some more time on your project as needed. Don't save it all up for the end of the day when you're liking ot push it all off. The key is distributing tasks and times evenly. 


Project: Computer-Based Training Development
Deadline: 6 working days


  • Create Training Binder & Need of Training Verification (.5)
  • Complete training analysis & summary (.5)
  • Determine & justify delivery method (.5)
  • Identify existing material to re-use or adapt (.5)
  • Review flip chart & suggest edits or updates (2)
  • Collect visual media, finalize layouts, design CBT activity (4)
  • Storyboards, Action Maps, Scenario Branches (2)
  • Create facilitator guide (3)
  • Create Knowledge Check (2) 
  • Collect attachment info & URLs (1)
  • Complete CBT scenes with text and visual media (8)
  • Write narration (2)
  • Record Narration (4)
  • Add animations, annotations (3)
  • Develop participant handouts and guides (2)
  • Subject Matter Expert review (2)
  • Test and Edit (2)
  • Test and Edit (2)
  • Test and Edit (2)
  • Publish for Pilot (1)


RESULT: 44/6 = 7.3 hours per day

Suddenly a project that seemed pretty simple and straight forward just became real. I need to work on this baby for 7+ hours per day to hit my deadline? And this is only 1 of 3 projects that are coming due. 

As you can see, this exercise can be a big wake-up call. It only takes about 5 or 10 minutes to complete, but I feel incredibly motivated (and a tad stressed) to get VERY focused today. I really don't want to be spending time at home working on these projects. Perhaps if I focus intently, I can shave some of that estimated time off!

#3 – No time! 

Would love to make this list long, but I REALLY need to get focused on deadline-oriented tasks right now! :)

10 Tips on how to be more productive

After starting our new company, Wilson Media Consulting, I experienced what all home-based business owners experience: struggling with discipline and motivation.

Here are some tips on how to be more productive (no matter where you are).

1. 45/15 Split

My background in psychology and experience as a learner and worker has taught me that people have an optimal range of time of which they can learn, focus and be productive. The typical time range is 40-55 minutes. What this means for you: start paying attention to time when you're working. About how long into a task do you start to "fade" or does your creativity or productivity diminish? For me, it's about 45 minutes.

I like to start my work "on the hour" so I can easily do a 45/15 minute split. I start working at 7:00 am and at 7:45 am, I take a planned break. Knowing that I get to take a break helps me focus because I don't create excuses to not work.Mazie in action - My Happy Lists

When you let yourself expect a break, you'll be more productive in your 45 minutes than if you just take random breaks, get frustrated, and then stop working altogether for a couple hours.

2. The planned break

Before I start my 45/15 split, I have a plan for how I'm going to spend my 15 minutes break. That way, I don't waste time thinking about what I'm going to do when I should be working, or wasting my break time by trying to decide how I want to spend it. For example, I know that in 20 minutes I'm going to get a snack and play with our adorable cockapoo, Mazie. She likes to sleep in, so I won't wake her for a little while.

3. Timing my tasks

Measure, measure, measure! That's how you know if anything is successful. I measure the time I spend every day by using an automatic time tracker. Gone are the days of writing down what you're doing (especially if you spend 80% of your work day at the computer). I use a cool time tracker that lets me add new tasks and then set the timer on them when I start working on them. At the end of the day (or week, month, etc), with a click of a button I can see where all my time went. It also helps me bill clients because it's organized by client profiles. It's a breeze to use, and I've noticed that on the days I don't use it, my productivity plummets. There's something about seeing that little timer on my screen that shouts to me: GET TO WORK!


7 Ways to end up owing taxes even though you’re poor (unhappy list)

owing more taxes 2009 The Hubbie and I (commonly known as Team Wilson) are not wealthy by any means. We work in fairly low-paying jobs (in the $10/hour range) despite our advanced college degrees. And yet, despite living paycheck to paycheck, we have managed to end up owing the government an additional $2,000 this year.

Here are 7 reasons why (my UNHappy List of the month).

1. Miniscule pay raise. I actually worked full time for the whole year and we earned a little more money since I wasn’t going to school. But that leads to #2.

2. No longer a student. Those tuition credits came in handy.

3. Debt Settlement = Taxable Income. So poor that I defaulted on a student loan and settled the debt for about 50% of what I owed. Turns out that counts as “taxable income.” Because that makes sense.


10 ways to get the most out of counseling

If you are going to see a counselor for the first time, it can be pretty intimidating. No matter what issue you are going to work on, the following tips will help you get the most out of counseling.

Emotional Brick Wall 1. Drop your guard. We all have walls that we put up to protect ourselves. That wall is going to be one of the biggest obstacles to your growth. By dropping your guard, you commit to being honest and completely open. If you want to get your money’s worth, this is the #1 way to do it. It will be difficult, especially when you start approaching topics that cause some pain, shame, or negative emotions. Remind yourself that you’re in a safe place and that’s what you are here for. So drop your guard and be real.

2. Find the right match. Counselors are human, and they have personalities and therapeutic styles. To get the most out of your time, you must find the right match. That means you might have to hop around counselors for a little while, but it will be worth it. It’s better to shop around than meet the discouragement of delayed and negative progress due to a poor match. So take the time (and money) to find the right match.