Here’s what I’ve learned about work/life balance

This year, the whole concept of work/life balance has been on my mind. With a new job, freelance work, and life goals, sometimes it feels聽so incredibly overwhelming.

I have almost zero work/life balance. Most days I get home from work late, eat dinner, take a shower, watch an old episode of The Office (which speaks to my stressed soul), and go to sleep. Not a lot of time for fun and/or relaxation, but in the past few weeks, I’ve tried really hard to change that. Here’s what I’ve learned.

 

1. Don’t take work home with you

This is really hard for me, because for so long I worked at home, so work聽was home. I still do this, because I’m writing this blog and for Hello Giggles, so my home is also my office. But in terms of my full-time job, I try to leave the drama, stress, and work at the office.

For me, this translates into trying not to complain too much about the more stressful/ridiculous parts of my job when I’m home. At home, I am ZEN. I leave the crap at work, and at home, I relax.

On the way home, however, I rant a lot to get it out of my system. 馃檪 Let yourself get it all out before you get home, so you’re not seething when you should be happy and relaxed.

2. Invest time into your hobbies…be stubborn about it.

When I got a new job, I struggled with the 12 hours a day it would require, with the addition of my commute. That’s a huge amount of time to be not doing fun things. As a way to compromise, I started listening to audiobooks on my commute. I can’t even describe how much my commute got better! I looked forward to the drive, and I got to work happier. It really makes a huge difference when you find time to do what you like.

I also tried to get my errands done during the week: before work starts (there’s a convenient Walgreens close to my office), and during my lunch hour. That way, my weekends are all for me, and to enjoy the things I love to do, writing this blog among them.

3. Turn off your phone.

Technology makes it easier to be constantly connected to work, which isn’t always a good thing. I’m lucky in that I’m not really expected to work outside of work hours, but a lot of people are. They’re constantly reachable and so are constantly expected to be available to their bosses. I think it’s important to turn off that phone during important times, like when you’re out with friends or with your family.

As for me, I try not to return emails when I’m out of work, and as for social media, I’ve turned off all my push notifications for Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook! Sometimes, being off the grid is SO NICE. I’m obsessed with my phone enough as it is without it flashing with notifications all the time.

4. Make lists鈥攂oth for what you have to do, and what you want to do.

Because I have a lot of different responsibilities, the to-do list is my drug. I’m addicted to making lists and getting to cross things off, but I also make lists for the things I want to do, like watch a particular show or see my friends on a certain day. This helps me prioritize my down time, as well as my work time. Knowing that entertainment is as important to your life as your job is half the battle.

5. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself.

I fail at this ALL THE TIME! I am constantly putting pressure on myself to meet deadlines, do everything perfectly, and have time left over. Sometimes it’s just not possible, and that’s okay.

The whole idea is to not let work become your whole life. It’s been difficult for me this year, transitioning from working from home to commuting about three hours a day (both ways). I’ve had to manage my time better, become a lot more organized, and prioritize the things I was not willing to sacrifice.

What do you do to make your life more balanced?
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I’m doing the no-buy challenge for April! Here’s how…

Last year was a bad year in terms of saving for me. I tried my hardest to be frugal, but considering I went on several trips, one overseas, the saving thing was so not for me. I was also shopping fairly heavily, which was great for fashion posts, but not so much for the wallet! Enter: the no-buy challenge.

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Review of 1byone wireless earphones

So recently, the company that sent me the record player I love also offered for review a pair of Bluetooth earphones, so since I don’t have a pair, I accepted. And here are my honest thoughts.

I tried the 1byone Bluetooth 4.1 Wireless In-Ear Headphones, which retail on Amazon for $38.99. I got them in white/gray. When I first opened the box, I was impressed by their quality, and by their general aesthetic. I charged the headphones through my laptop using the short cord they provided, and pairing the device with my cell phone was super easy. You can also pair another device, but for now, all I need is my cell phone.

Here’s what’s included in the box:

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My first record player by 1byone: some thoughts

I’ve long wanted to buy a record player, but my own bank account and my practical attitude always stopped me. If I bought a record player, would I actually use it? How often, realistically? My dad owns a ton of vinyl from its heyday, but aside from a couple of 45s my sister bought me as a present a few years ago (by The Last Shadow Puppets, Alex Turner’s side project), I have no records.聽But not for long.

I was asked to try the 1byone portable vintage-style turntable and share my thoughts! So here’s my 1byone review of this beautiful record player.

1byone review

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Wine brought to you by ‘The Princess Bride’

I’m really excited to bring you something that combines some of my favorite things: books, movies, and wine. 馃槈 Take a look at these special wine bottles inspired by聽The Princess Bride, and made to celebrate the movie’s 28th birthday:

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Christmas presents haul…

Oh hey. Christmas was beautiful, spending the whole day with the people I love the most. Here are some of the presents I got!


my favorite shampoo and conditioner, books I can’t wait to read, some gorgeous clothes from my sisters and cousins, some jewelry, a sleek black coat and a fun fur-lined vest, a coloring storybook and color pencils, Betsey Johnson bag, a Kate Spade passport holder, and possibly my favorite present: the original, unedited, pre-Special Edition Star Wars trilogy on VHS! Lucky I still have a VCR in my house!

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Christmas movies that warm your heart

I’ve already spoken a little about my reading traditions for the Christmas season, but movie-watching is a聽huge part of my Christmas. It’s the perfect excuse to get the family together and drink hot chocolate, relax under a big blanket, and think about what’s really important鈥攁nd watch a couple of clueless robbers get virtually killed by an eight-year-old. These are my favorite Christmas movies:

1. It’s a Wonderful Life

This movie made me cry when I first saw it, and it still pulls at my heartstrings every time. Unsurprisingly, we watch this movie every year because it is a quintessential Christmas movie that truly places selflessness, generosity, kindness, and strong morals at the forefront of the season, and all year round. George Bailey constantly puts others’ happiness and well-being before his own, and his life doesn’t turn out the way he wanted it to鈥攂ut even though he’s down on his luck, his good deeds in the past have saved him. I love that last quote: “No man is a failure who has friends.”

2. While You Were Sleeping

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While You Were Sleeping is one of those 90s movies I watched all the time as a kid, and so nostalgia plays a huge factor in my love for it, but this one stands the test of time. It’s a hysterical, heartwarming rom-com about a woman with no family who accidentally becomes a part of someone else’s family when she saves a stranger from getting run over by a train. Lucy is completely alone in life, but she finds love and family at the end, which is always what Christmas has been about.

3. The Muppet Christmas Carol

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Yep, my all-time, number one, favorite Christmas movie聽ever is The Muppet Christmas Carol, with two Marleys, a frog Bob Cratchit, Michael Caine as the miser Scrooge, and lines like, “No crust of bread for those in need/No cheeses for us meeses.” Oh, and Charles Dickens is Gonzo. This movie is by far the funniest version of A Christmas Carol ever, and was the first introduction I had to A Christmas Carol. Truly, I was about 11 years old before I realized that in the original, there was only one Marley. And Bean Bunny as a beggar boy continues to be my favorite thing ever:

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ADORABLE!

I also love: The Santa Clause, Disney’s A Christmas Carol (the scary animated one starring Jim Carrey, which is eerily similar to the book), Home Alone 1 and 2 (of course), Love Actually, White Christmas聽and聽Miracle on 34th Street. But those three above truly epitomize the season for me, and they make me feel the most festive, loving, and Christmassy.

What movies do you HAVE to watch this time of year? Let me know!

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A merry New York Christmas!

As I am SURE you know by now, Christmas/holiday season is my favorite time of year. I spent yesterday wandering around New York with my family doing Christmassy things, and here are some snapshots of the day.

We started at Union Square Park, where they set up a little winter village this time of year with food kiosks and gift booths, usually by local craft artisans and shops in New York. I did some gift shopping, but mostly just ate some stellar mac and cheese and drank gl眉hwein, mulled non-alcoholic wine that tasted like Christmas (I imagine…).

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From there, we walked uptown to a couple of rooftop bars. We first went to Eataly’s birreria, and the whole place was decked out in Christmas decorations. And since it was an extremely hot (for December) 65 degrees out, the rooftop was open! It was so nice. We sipped cocktails and relaxed.

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From there, we went to the rooftop of 230 5th, a hotel on Fifth Ave. The view was amazing.

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Finally, we went to dinner at Virgil’s an amazing barbecue place just off Times Square, and then we got to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, a yearly tradition I can never pass up. This year, the warm weather meant that the crowds were twice as thick and aggressive as usual, so after some gazing and a quick picture or two, we had to leave to retain our sanity. Still, braving the crowds was worth it to see that amazing tree, and watch the light show on the facade of Saks.

I didn’t take too many pictures because I’ve seen it so many times before, but here are some very poor photos of the decorations around Rockefeller Center:

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Nothing like seeing that tree all lit up!

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Things I want to do this Christmas…

I’m making a list (and checking it twice?) of all the things I want to do now that Christmas has arrived! This is my absolute favorite time of year, and I really try hard to make every day just a little bit special, even if it’s taking thirty minutes to sit with a Christmassy book/story or sip some hot chocolate. I always spend a lot of time with my family this time of year, and I also want to take a few extra days to do these things, too:

see The NutcrackeIMG_0016r

I’ve been meaning to buy tickets to the ballet forever, and Christmas is the best season, in my opinion. NYCB puts on The Nutcracker every season, so this year I have to make sure to catch a performance.

visit Bryant ParkIMG_0090

Bryant Park in the city is beautiful this time of year when they open up the merchant stalls and set up their Winter Village. It’s becoming a tradition to visit before Christmas Day, and go ice skating. Which brings me to:

go ice skating

I’m not a skilled skater by any means, but after an hour of hanging onto the barrier, I get the hang of it and I always have a blast (I think I’ve fallen every time, though).

read Dickens鈥 Christmas stories

Every year I read聽A Christmas Carol, but the book I have featured seven or eight other Christmas stories by Dickens, so this year I read them ALL.

see the Rockefeller Center Christmas treeIMG_0028

Of course: this is a must-do tradition. A lot of the time I visit the tree after Christmas because I’ve had no time, and while that’s not a bad thing (it’s less crowded, after all), seeing the tree before Christmas is definitely more special.

I get all warm and happy this time of year, and I hope that whatever holiday you’re celebrating this season, that it’s happy and cheerful and spent with the people you love.

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Polette glasses review and ~giveaway!~

Today I’m partnering with a French eyewear company called Polette to organize a giveaway! Polette approached me to do a product review, and I was very excited to sample one of their many beautifully designed frames. Below is a giveaway so you can get your own pair (with a prescription, even!) but in the meantime, here are the ones I got.

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The frames I chose were part of their e-Polette collection, frames that use polarized lenses to filter out 40% of blue light from our laptop and smartphone screens. If you’re anything like me, you spend like eight hours a day in front of a computer at work, and the eye strain is real.

When I’m wearing these, the harsh blue light looks like a soft, warm, “natural” light.

Take a look at the difference through the lenses and without:

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I’ve gotten into the habit of wearing these all day when I’m at my laptop, and even when watching TV. Blue light from screens isn’t great for our eyes, and it can keep us up at night. If you’re a gadget addict, the e-Polette is a good choice. Plus they’re really cute.

I chose the “e-ferguson ecaille” and even though they’re a little big for my face (which is my fault because I have a small face and I should have known to choose a smaller frame), I really like the way they look. I wear them during work, and when I’m blogging. They make my eyes feel nice. They’re also sturdy and well made, constructed from “hand-polished acetate and metal.”

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Aside from the e-Polette collection, Polette is an eyewear company that’s both stylish and affordable, which is my thing. And obviously, you can get them with your prescription instead of the ones I got, which are not prescription.

As for the review of my particular product, I’d give it a 5/5. I really don’t have anything to complain about; the glasses are excellent quality, I’m using them all the time, the shipping and customer service were prompt, and there are so many pretty designs to choose from! Buying eyewear online is getting more popular, because there’s no middleman storefront and so they’re much cheaper.

Giveaway time!

So for my readers, here’s a giveaway! Go to Polette.com to choose your favorite pair of frames (any kind, in any collection) and post your preference in the comments. Enter the giveaway by following/liking Polette on their Facebook,聽Instagram, and聽Twitter! The giveaway will run until Friday, December 4th. Enter now!

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