SYW175 – Our Favorite Accountability Tools

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Alissa Williams is a long-time Simple Scrapper member and regular podcast guest. She’s also my friend and accountability partner. In this episode we share updates on the planners, tools, and strategies we’re using to stay organized and on-track. Our conversation is jam-packed with ideas and resources to explore as you personalize your own systems.

Links Mentioned

Alissa Williams 0:00

Having that outward accountability even though it's not like a person, it's your phone reminding you but it's past me wanted future me to do this. So it's been game changing really.

Jennifer Wilson 0:11

Welcome to Scrapbook Your Way, the show that explores the breadth of ways to be a Memory Keeper today. I'm your host, Jennifer Wilson, owner of Simple Scrapper and author of The New Rules of Scrapbooking. This is episode 175. In this episode, I catch up with my friend Alissa Williams about our personal productivity and planner progress. We share insights on the accountability systems we use individually and together to stay forward moving in life and in scrapbooking.

Jennifer Wilson 0:43

Hey, Alissa, welcome back to Scrapbook Your Way.

Alissa Williams 0:46

Hi, Jennifer. Thanks for having me on again.

Jennifer Wilson 0:48

Can you let our listeners know who you are and where you live and all that fun stuff?

Alissa Williams 0:54

Sure. I am a director of a small public library in central Illinois, where I live with my husband and my two tween daughters, we've officially entered tweendom. They're 10 and 12. And we are getting settled in a new home in the same community that we've been living in for the last 15 years.

Jennifer Wilson 1:15

This tween girl thing is just so interesting. Things are evolving so quickly.

Alissa Williams 1:22

Yes. And it's it is interesting, you know, one day they want to snuggle with you and the next day, they don't want to speak to you and then they want to snuggle again. It's you know, it's I get whiplash some days from what's happening. But it's, and it does make scrapbooking a little more challenging because we're entering that phase where they don't really want pictures taken. Or they...

Jennifer Wilson 1:42

Yes, they have opinions. It is certainly an adventure. So also what's exciting you right now in memory keeping?

Alissa Williams 1:52

Well I am all in on Shimelle's Best Of Both Worlds kits. So, you know, each month she scrapbooks live on YouTube and she releases, you can't see my air quotes in my hands, a kit available on So you can you can sub in stuff from your own stash. Or you can buy what you want, from And so I actually, I had bought stuff in the fall to do the November scrap along with her. But then we ended up buying a house and starting to pack and move. And so I didn't do it until I got a little more settled here. But when I made those November pages, I was just delighted at how fun it was and how out of my usual style it was. And so I went back and looked at some of the past kits and I actually had some papers that match and then I bought some stuff from And so I have like, I've set myself up with like, I think three of the past Best Of Both Worlds kits to go back and scrapbook with her. And I just, I love the flexibility and I love her style. And it's teaching me a lot about layering just through watching her.

Jennifer Wilson 3:05

Yes, yes. So I've done one of those kind of right along with you. And it's been so fun. And it got me out of my comfort zone. As you said I was like journaling directly on the background of layouts. I used scissors to cut pattern paper for like the first time ever. It was just so fun and freeing. And I just love the process and I got everything from my stash I just kind of like took inspiration from her collection of products and said, Okay, I want to use my stash. And so I anticipate doing this throughout this year as a way to have some boundaries around picking products and getting some pages made.

Alissa Williams 3:47

Yeah, what I really love is I am a really good copier. Like I scraplift. That is my preferred style of scrapbooking. I have learned you know in almost 20 years of doing this that I just I'm never going to come up with the latest and greatest design. I love sketches, I love following a plan, and so it really aligns with how I like to scrapbook. And I like that I can have the same stuff she has and use the same stuff and and come up with you know and tell my own stories. So that's what's been fun as I usually don't do it right when she's doing it live. I usually am going back so I can kind of see cuz she posts on Instagram. Like okay, I need you know, three pictures and what story do I have and so that's been really, I just like the challenge of kind of the, but it's like following a live sketch in a way because she does make a sketch at the beginning of the videos and then she puts stuff together. But like I said, I feel like I'm I'm seeing some of her techniques creep into layouts that I make on my own. Or when I follow just a basic sketch so I It's my kind of preferred way of scrapbooking. And I know recently in the member community you had asked, like, if you could start from ground zero, you know, what would you do? And I was like, I would just copy Shimelle like the whole time, or maybe not her. But just this idea of, you know, the exact supplies and just the follow up, follow along scrapbooking, I'll call it.

Jennifer Wilson 5:17

Yes, yes. And I you know, that's one of the reasons why I love these Crop and Create events that Scrapbook and Cards Today has done. Because I've, for most of my scrapbooking journey, except in the very, very beginning, I felt like I was needing to do more original things, because it was all part of Simple Scrapper. And so I had very few times where I took an opportunity to have someone tell me what to do, and it's been so fun to receive this amazing box of product, and then follow along and, and make the thing together. And as you said, tell your own stories, with the supplies you're given. And, you know, just getting together with you to do it has made it even, you know, more fun?

Alissa Williams 5:58

Well, and we always say that constraints breed creativity. And so I find that true, you know, having, you know, a thematic set of supplies, maybe or, you know, a kind of getting inspiration from what story she might have told with this. And so it helps narrow down, you know, all the stories that I want to tell her, you know, even just page number of pictures, you know, helps me kind of like, okay, this is a three, three photo layout, I've got three photos from this event, it'll go with these colors, you know, it just helps make those decisions easier.

Jennifer Wilson 6:32

Yes, yes. 100%. Like, so much we get bogged down in those decisions about every single step. And so somebody else is making those decisions for you. I feel like it brings so much more fun to the process.

Alissa Williams 6:49

Absolutely, I really, I have enjoyed both Crop and Create events in the following along. And then now this Shimelle Best Of Both Worlds.

Jennifer Wilson 6:58

So I'm specifically excited about the Crop and Create fall papercrafting event. So we both just signed up for that. And it's just nice to have something on the calendar that's, you know, separate from, you know, we do have so many fun things inside of the Simple Scrapper community, but I love just being part of the broader memory keeping world and being able to participate in these other events.

Alissa Williams 7:23

Well, and you don't know what supplies you're gonna get. So it's really fun to get the box. And they do such a nice job of making it feel like a real event for being a virtual event. You know, they put surprises in and they have an unboxing party and they just I've been really impressed with how they've managed, you know, virtual events, which we all experienced in the past two years.

Jennifer Wilson 7:45

Yes, for sure. So shifting gears to storytelling, do you have a story that's still on your memory keeping Bucket List?

Alissa Williams 7:55

I do. I have realized that since the pandemic started, I have been watching more TV. And that kind of started in the pandemic when we weren't going anywhere. And you and I have done kind of some watch alongs. And then this year when we moved, our TV situation changed, and it was much we went to all smart TVs and so it was much easier to watch like never before we used to have like one TV that was the Netflix TV well now or I could watch on my computer, but like now all our TVs are smart. And so I can go to the basement and watch Netflix or whatever. And so it's kind of made it easier to stream stuff. So I have been watching so much. Like I'm super super into Friday Night Lights. Right now I watched Emily in Paris, we just I just finished Bridgerton. I've been watching a lot of things. And the story really is when because obviously I'm a librarian, I'm a huge reader, readers, reading has always been my main hobby. And when my girls were born, I basically stopped watching TV because it was kind of like I either have time to read or have time to watch TV. And I chose reading and so for about a decade, I really haven't watched much. And I haven't really watched much TV is that were TV shows that were like live or popular on the air I guess. With the exception of This Is Us, which I got caught back up on in 2020. And then now it's in its final season and I like literally have an alarm on my phone for Tuesdays at eight o'clock and I'm like watching it live, which I haven't done in years.

Jennifer Wilson 9:38

I know, it's so bizarre to watch something live of like, I totally forgot that they're like commercials and it's a different experience. I was trying to explain it to Emily like this is how TV used to be. We had to we were just like sitting here waiting for the show to come back. And you know you had to hurry to go to the bathroom to make sure you didn't miss anything and it's not like we still can't pause it but Um, it's just yeah, it's fun to have that excitement around and watching live again.

Alissa Williams 10:06

It is. And so that's a story, you know, kind of I envisioned kind of two separate layouts. You know one about kind of how I gave up TV and then how it kind of came back. And then kind of I still have an Ali Edwards Watch kit, which those cute little TVs and I've seen cute little nice, you know, layouts with that. And so I want to definitely do something about everything I've watched in the past two years and what I've enjoyed.

Jennifer Wilson 10:28

I think I need to do this too, because I mean, like, we watched Parks and Rec, and The Crown. And I rewatched Downton Abbey while you watched it for the first time.

Alissa Williams 10:41

And Bridgerton

Jennifer Wilson 10:42

And Bridgerton. Emily in Paris. Now Friday Night Lights. What else? Is there anything else?

Alissa Williams 10:49

Um, no, I think I think that's been most of it.

Jennifer Wilson 10:54

Wow, it's so crazy.

Alissa Williams 10:56

I mean, it feels like a lot.

Jennifer Wilson 10:58

I know, I know. I watch TV with you more than I want to do with my husband now.

Alissa Williams 11:03

Yeah. It's fun, though.

Jennifer Wilson 11:07

So I wanted to have you on to talk about planning and accountability. It's kind of your your regular themes. I wanted to catch up on how things have been going for you this year. Now that you're more settled in your house? And you know, what systems and tools are you using? What's working well, what's not? So what's been new with you since you were last on the episode? And how did that impact your memory keeping?

Alissa Williams 11:33

I think that a few things that are new is one, I've really started using the Reminders app on my iPhone more. And I used it to create a morning and an evening list. And then the other thing is now that we're getting settled in our new routines in the house, I found space in my schedule for some regular like Wednesday night, I call it, it's usually Wednesday nights. My husband's gone, my girls usually like to watch a show together. And I you know, sit down and either make a page with Shimelle, or I work on One Little Word or I work on something else. And so I've been making, like specifically scheduling Wednesday nights as a as a craft night. And then I'm also doing some stuff on Sundays as well. So I've put scrapbooking, like literally on the calendar for the first time in a long time.

Jennifer Wilson 12:30

Did you feel like you had to take a break when you were moving? And how were you able to get get back into it?

Alissa Williams 12:37

Oh, yes. I mean, I, you know, I'm a planner. So it was very weird for me at the end of 2021. Because we moved at the end of January. And so we were packing in December. And of course, we were gonna have to pack in January. And I was like, I don't think I can like make any crafty plans for first quarter because I don't know how long it's gonna take me to get settled. And, you know, we're gonna move at the end of January, and we're gonna go right into Girl Scout Cookie season, and I handle all that for my Girl Scout troop, let alone my own children. And so I was like, I'm gonna, like, I'm not gonna craft for a while and I'm just gonna have to be okay with that. And, and I was because I had that expectation. And I had a craft retreat on the calendar with some friends. I had, I had some plans in late March. And so I knew that I would, I knew that would be that was kind of like when I was going to restart my crafting was with that time I had specifically set aside so I had something to look forward to, which I think helped. But then I was able to just kind of be like, okay, it's fine, I'm not gonna get like, this is not the priority for these couple months. And so I definitely, I did make a few six by eight pocket layouts in the beginning of March to kind of get myself back together. And that's when I actually well, also the One Little Word supplies took forever to ship and arrive. And so in March, I started documenting my One Little Word stuff, too. So it was kind of the beginning of March. And then that that time that I set aside with some friends really then got me kind of back in my groove. And then that's when I was able to be like, Oh, Wednesday nights like, this is a good time for me to do this. So and then I was intentionally planning like, Okay, what am I going to do this week and that's when I got through kind of that first Best Of Both Worlds kit with Shimelle.

Jennifer Wilson 14:41

Well, I think I'm, I'm very admiring of you and your ability to really think about, okay, what's coming up? How can I shift my expectations to align with that and to make sure that my plate feels manageable. And you know, you tend not to overload yourself. And I really Yeah, I really admire that ability.

Alissa Williams 15:05

Well, thanks. I mean, I'm already under a lot of, moving is stressful, and oh, my job is, you know, I'm the leader of an organization. And that kind of comes with some own, you know, responsibilities and, you know, good stress and bad stress. And so being realistic and just having to set it aside was important for my mental health. But, but having, I think, having that that date in March, where I knew I was going to have time set aside for it was key to being able to put it aside, to then to really feel good about putting it aside for a while.

Jennifer Wilson 15:46

I love that, and that, I think that happens so often. And we talk about that with organizing with organizing all the time. Like, if you have a time, which you know, you're going to be able to dedicate to, you know, decluttering, managing your stash, even using your stash, like we do with our Stash Bash Saturdays. Then, you know, you don't have to do that right now. Because it makes you feel okay, doing something that's a higher priority, whether that's a creative activity, or some, you know, home responsibility that's really needing to be receiving your attention right now.

Alissa Williams 16:19

Yes, and it was, you know, so I moved all of my stuff and unpacking my craft supplies and figuring out where to put it in the new house. And I, when we were originally going to move into the house, I had one vision for this space that I was going to use as my home office slash scrapbook studio. And then the people who we bought the house from actually left a lot of furniture and one of them was this big desk, that's a really nice work surface and has a lot of flats, flat space. And so I ended up reusing some of that furniture, which kind of had me pivoting a little in terms of how I had one way I thought I was going to organize and then it was like, Oh, I I've got this furniture I could actually use instead. And the bookshelf, so there were two bookshelves. And the one bookshelf was actually deep enough for my scrapbook albums, which was like, you know, that's not super common. So that was kind of exciting. But that kind of caused me to reevaluate like, Okay, I finally knew how I was going to put this stuff away. But now it's different. So where am I going to put this stuff, but then touching all your supplies again, or seeing all your stuff was reinvigorating, too.

Jennifer Wilson 17:41

Oh, for sure. Yeah, I'm, I'm kind of in a little mini reorganization now with my closet. Finally ready to receive things again. And I just, it's just It excites me to like, go through all my paints and figure out which ones are dry. And, you know, the closet is really housing all of the not specifically scrapbook type creative supplies, some of which are Emily's and includes, you know, other crafty hobbies. Like you know, some of our tech stuff, my extra camera gear. So it's just fun to like to reset and know that you're setting yourself up for even future success.

Alissa Williams 18:21

Yes, and I like I reorganized my stamps and I reorganized how I'm storing my Ali Edwards supplies and so my other my redid my embellishment storage. So it's been fun to do that I let go of a few things. So that was good, too.

Jennifer Wilson 18:37

Awesome. So yeah, I'm my I guess my delay of entry into the year was even longer than yours. I really spent the first four months of the year focused on updating the Simple Scrapper brand, this whole brand relaunch working with a designer, basically redoing the website from scratch. And it was an exciting and important project, but I really had to put my scrapbooking on hold. So I have have kind of so few template pages set up in Lightroom for my photo book this year. And I did make those those Shimelle layouts. I have kind of dabbled here and there different projects. I've continued doing some art journaling on the side mostly daily. But in terms of like my regular scrapbooking, I've had a hard time like staying caught up with it. And it's okay and so I've I've kind of chosen an entry point of you know, while I'm sitting on the couch watching TV, during the commercials for example. The other night during This Is Us I was in Lightroom flagging my photos of accept or reject and so I'm trying to get back all the way through January just when I'm you know having my evening leisure time downstairs. And once I know all my photos have been sorted through I will jump over to the computer. So it feels feels less intimidating, because that's what's kind of facing me right now is like, Oh, I'm behind on the photos, I haven't taken that time, weekly. And so if I can get caught up in a more casual situation like in the car, we're going to be traveling this weekend. So I'm going to be doing some of it then. And I know it'll make it that much more fun to sit down and say, Okay, I know the photos that I'm saving. Now I just need to throw them in the book and start writing some stories.

Alissa Williams 20:25

Well, and knowing what you need to do or what your barriers and then finding those pockets of time, I think is really key to staying engaged in your hobby. I mean, Stacy Julian always talks about, you know, 15 minutes, what can you do in 15 minutes, and you really can do a lot in 15 minutes. Especially with photo management on our phones and using those pockets. So good, good job, you. I, going back to kind of what we were talking about earlier about the tween life tween mom life. I think the other thing too, is the stories. The daily stories aren't coming as fast and furious as I feel like they used to when the girls were younger. And so I think that also, you know, the pace of my memory keeping has changed. I'm looking at at, I'm kind of looking at the overall picture, the big picture, if you will of like, okay, I've been my girls, you know, are 10 and 12. And so I've, I've certainly scrapbook lots of stories in their lives, but like, where, where are the holes? Or where are the compilations that I need to go back and create. And so that's a different perspective, too, because I don't feel like I'm scrapbooking as much of like, Oh, here's this cute thing you said, here's how you love, you know, your stuffed rabbit or whatever.

Jennifer Wilson 21:53

Yes, yes. Well, thinking about the pace though. I think I posted on Instagram last week that most of my camera roll are pictures of my cats. So that's the reality right now is that I spend more time with the cats that I do with my family members. Because actually Emily right now, she had like four activities this past weekend. She's got something almost every night, especially during spring sports season. And so it's just kind of like me and the cats. They're the ones that are doing the cute stuff these days. And yeah, I don't think my book for this year might it might not be as long as last year because things have really kind of significantly changed as we enter into this next phase of life.

Alissa Williams 22:37

Yeah, it's definitely you know, a different season.

Jennifer Wilson 22:40

So what, let's talk about planning a little bit. That's one of our favorite things. We kind of geek out about planners. I think between the two of us, we're very aware of all the planners that are out there, and the pros and cons and exactly what sizes they come in. So what planners are you using right now?

Alissa Williams 22:57

Well, my, sitting next to me on my desk, here is my unopened, GET TO WORK BOOK for the next academic year, that will begin in July. So I am still using at home, my GET TO WORK BOOK. I use it on an academic cycle though. Because I like being able to match up my my girls school years, I find that helpful and useful. And then at work, I use a Blue Sky Planner, but that lives on my desk at work. And then I'm using Trello more now for long term project lists and like reoccurring task lists and kind of more of that reference material and not quite as an active list of to dos.

Jennifer Wilson 23:44

So I feel like you're, you've kind of, you are feeling settled now with your planner system. Is that accurate?

Alissa Williams 23:50

Yeah, I think I have a pretty good degree of some planner peace. I, I really went back and forth since the beginning of the year, I wanted to get a Cultivate What Matters Goal book.

Jennifer Wilson 24:06

Power sheets.

Alissa Williams 24:07

Power Sheets. Thank you. I'm like, what are those called again? Yes, I really kind of wanted some Power Sheets. But I just knew since I was essentially taking the first quarter off from any big goals that I didn't think it was would be quite helpful. And so I could still get a six month undated here. And I'm kind of tossing that idea around because I feel like that's the one area I'm sort of lacking in is I didn't set like I didn't usually Gretchen Rubin on her podcast with her sister. They do like 20 for 20, 21 in 21. And where it's not like goals, but just things you want to do in the year. And I didn't make a 22 for 22 list. I didn't set any big lofty goals for the year because I was really just focused on getting us moved and settled in the new house and that's still I focus, but I miss that accountability and that kind of master list of Oh, yeah, What did I want to do?

Jennifer Wilson 25:08

Yeah, I've been thinking recently and kind of doing some research on what are the different other than Power Sheets? What are the different goal planners out there? What timeframe do they work on? And because I kind of feel like that's something that I've lost touch with, as well. And I think part of it was just my own journey with work being busy, you know, trying to navigate the new semi post pandemic world and balance my mental health and just that whole thing. And now I'm feeling like, okay, now I want to actually get some stuff done again. I want to, you know, finish decorating my house and we want to remodel the basement, and how are we actually going to start taking action on some of these things? So I'm definitely excited to kind of talk to you more about doing that in the second half of the year.

Alissa Williams 25:54

Yeah. And there is I listened to this podcast by Sarah Hart-Unger, that is all about planners. And there is this quarterly goal planner that she was talking about. It's called, Best Laid Plans is her podcast, and I just, if you like, if you like planning podcasts, it's always like 25 minutes. It's a quick, interesting, and she reviews planners, which then of course, makes me want them. But she, she was talking about like this quarterly, it's more of like a magazine goal thing. And I, I'm trying to, I'll try to remember the name here of it. But I kind of intrigued by that, because that I think a lot in quarters, both in work and at home now. Because that 90 day, I think, is a good period for getting things done.

Jennifer Wilson 26:46

I agree for sure. And you know, we use the two month period at Simple Scrapper because 90 days can feel like a slog when you are trying to follow your inspiration. And so we found that, like two months, is a nice balance of being able to dig in deep, while still kind of satisfying our squirrel brain, our squirrel brains to move on to something else. So I love that we can kind of have different planning horizons throughout our life, depending on what we need. Because, you know, with, with work with, you know, home projects, things like that, you know, with personal health, 90 days, I think is a really good timeframe.

Alissa Williams 27:24

Okay, I think it's the JMB living is what it's called.

Jennifer Wilson 27:29

Oh, I've not heard of that one.

Alissa Williams 27:30


Jennifer Wilson 27:32

Okay, we will include that link and check it out as well.

Alissa Williams 27:35

Yeah, it's a quarterly journal and daily planner, incorporating mindfulness and joy into your routine.

Jennifer Wilson 27:40

But it seems there's there's so many different things nowadays, you know, particularly from smaller creators, and it's just fun to see, you know, how can we think about things differently and which, which tools support us best. I think that's why we like these conversations is because you learn something about yourself, even if it doesn't work out quite the way he wanted.

Alissa Williams 28:02

Yes. And that's what I've always liked about my GET TO WORK BOOK is that there there is, she does like a monthly wrap up and there are spaces to support goal setting throughout this. But I've always found sometimes it's helpful to have a separate kind of tracker for that kind of stuff, the bigger picture stuff.

Jennifer Wilson 28:20

For sure. So I'm using my Hobonichi Cousin. So this is the A5 and I have the Avec, which I have the two half year books. So I'm kind of excited to open up the second half of the year, I'm here at the end of June. You know, it just starts to get a little stale. And so having the half year books, you get that kind of New Year energy, the same way you Academic Planner people do and it's it's continuing to work really well, but I am making a bigger change. I have decided to let go of my Cocoa Daisy kits and as much as I love them and I love Christine and what her whole team does and I love the themes. It's so beautiful. I found that I just wasn't using enough of it. So I paired back and then they made some changes to the planner kits with you know, not including a pouch anymore, which Emily really liked every month. And so I've decided to, I bought some stickers from an Etsy shop called Plan Fantastic. And these are specifically sized for the Hobonichi Cousin size and that's one of the things that was you know, more challenging with the Cocoa Daisy kits, is that they didn't have a product that was specifically sized for this planner so it was always you know, using more washi tape, just trying to make it work. But I have such kind of a backlog of say more sentiment stickers and decorative stickers that I can use in my journaling. That I really just needed some in, some consistent input of stickers for the weeks you know that have a place To like, say, you know, have the days of the week and write the date and just to make each spread, you know, feel fun and inviting. So I'm making that change, we'll see how it goes, I may be back because I do, I do love Cocoa Daisy so much. But I wanted to try something new, particularly, you know, at this transition point at the end of the first half of the year and see if I want to continue that for the second half. And then I'm also I think, I've already mentioned this on the podcast, I did get a Passion Planner Daily. And the objective is, I'm not certainly not using it daily. But sometimes there's those days that just feel like, okay, I can't think about anything but today, and I need to map it out, I need to time block, I need to have space and true focus on just today. And so I'm grabbing it, you know, maybe once a week for those days, couple times a month, I'm not using it, actually probably as much as I thought I would. But I like that I have that option. And yeah, it's nice. I, one of the things that's come out of this whole planner discussion with you is that I need a bound planner, I don't want rings, or one of those things called the Happy Planner Discs, I don't want, I don't want rings, I don't want this I needed to actually be bound. And you know, lay mostly flat. And that's what really works for me.

Alissa Williams 31:00

That is so interesting, because I am definitely a ring person.

Jennifer Wilson 31:35

Yes, and I can't stand it.

Alissa Williams 31:39

So interesting. Well, and I guess I should add that I had been doing more time blocking at work. And so I bought on Amazon, it was like 10 bucks. Just an undated daily planner that had space for a list as well as the hours, so that I could on the days I need to time block. Because I was feeling kind of wasteful, just I would print off like a planner sheet and time block on that. And then I would recycle it. And I don't know, that just felt like I needed actual book to keep all these time block plans. And so I did purchase that that is also spiral bound to use to time block at work. And so that's been helpful on the days because like you I don't, I don't have to do it every day. But the days I need to do it, I find it very, very helpful.

Jennifer Wilson 32:37

Yes, because you know, my, my whole weekly spread has everything that that I possibly, you know, need to do want to do. And sometimes I know that I'm going to end up forgetting things, but I don't want to forget it. And so it becomes very cluttered and full. And that's fine, because that's what it's there for, is to remind me of all the things that need to be done. But I can't think about all of them in one day. And I can't certainly can't do them all in one day. So I love having just the place to to think about what's really in front of me during this work period.

Alissa Williams 33:09

Yes. And I just some more on time blocking. I had tried time blocking, before last year for work on using my Google calendar because I thought oh, well that way, if I don't finish something I can, you know, easily move it to the next empty spot and whatnot. But I just find more value in mapping it out on paper. It's so you know, I love, I am totally all in on my digital calendar. Now that's so different for me from how it was several years ago. But there are just some things that I don't think can replace paper. And I think it's that processing of your brain of like remembering and then planning and then being able to scratch it out and kind of remake the block plan if you need to.

Jennifer Wilson 33:55

Yes, yes. So there's one app that I wanted to mention. So this is an Apple app for the computer. I do not know for sure if, whether or not it's on the phone, but I will certainly link it up if it is it's called Session. And so it's a Pomodoro timer to help you use your time blocks effectively rather than just saying you're going to time block and not actually focusing during that time. And so I find that a really helpful companion when I have chosen, okay for the next 25, 52, whatever time period, 90 minutes and I want to focus. Having this on my computer kind of staring at me is a really helpful reminder.

Alissa Williams 34:37

That sounds really neat.

Jennifer Wilson 34:40

I've also used the Flip Clock. We do this during our quiet co working sessions on Monday morning. But I've used it to sometimes myself if I want to have like just big number timer on the screen so that I can really feel, I don't know, it just gives you kind of like, it, it's this huge reminder of saying you're focusing right now, you're focusing. Whenever your brain tries to like go off track. Oh, no, the timer is going, I have to know rein myself in.

Alissa Williams 35:07

I love a good timer. I just really, you know, sometimes if I just need to get started, it's like, okay, 10 minutes. I'm just gonna do this for 10 minutes. Or like Laura Tremaine talks about, you know, setting a timer to read in the morning, you know, and I, I know, we're going to talk a little bit about morning and evening routines in a bit. But, you know, I have found that just to be really helpful, even though I'm already a reader, and I don't have trouble finding time to read, but even just putting some boundaries around it is helpful.

Jennifer Wilson 35:38

Well, um, yeah, I think it's time to segue into that final topic of conversation is how are you doing with morning and evening routines right now? I think, you know, we've had so many offline conversations about this, we I guess we should catch people up. I think we both kind of felt a little off track, because of this season of life, that was extra busy.

Alissa Williams 36:00

Yes. So you know, I had moved and the weather, the spring weather here has just been non great, like rain and cold and black. And usually spring is when I sort of naturally start to wake up earlier anyway, and I get outside more, and it just wasn't happening in the new space, and for variety reasons. And so I was like, I really need to start my morning routine again, and get back on track. And then I think this was also helped by the fact that you have come back to Apple, and we both have iPhones now. Now we can be even more the same. So I have been using the Reminders app more just for daily life stuff. But then you were like, oh, with the app upgrade, you can have different reminder lists. And you can you know, they can be reoccurring, like week days, and like you actually taught me a few things, because I hadn't updated my iOS yet. But anyway, so we both I think set up an ideal evening and morning routine on our using our Reminders app. So like it, my reminders starts at 630 in the morning. And then like at seven, I have a reminder to read nonfiction for 15 minutes. And you can, it's really nice because you can kind of like, you know, change the order of stuff, and you can set it to go off at a specific time. And then, you know, it's right there on your phone. And that has been and then I have the same I set up the same thing for the evening. And it's having, having that outward. Accountability, even though it's not like a person, it's like your phone reminding you but it's like, past me wanted future me to do this. So yes, it's been game changing. Really.

Jennifer Wilson 38:01

I really look forward to my evening routine. Like last night, you know, it was about nine o'clock. And we're running a little bit later because Emily had volleyball and Steve had softball. And Steve was like, Hey, do you want to watch an episode of Ozark? Because that's one of the show we're watching together. And I'm like, No, I don't think so I want to get started with my evening routine. So something definitely has has clicked with that. And you know, there's, I would say that mine is not ideal, yet. I tried to do who what is the base? Like, where do I want to start? So that I can start adding more to it later. Because I knew there was just certain things like, for me, it's scooping the cat litter in the morning and sweeping the kitchen at night. Were things that you know, I did some of the time, but I wasn't doing consistently, and that I knew that I would really appreciate if I you know, future me would appreciate a past me did that consistently. So adding those into my Reminders on top of more of the self care things, I think has really been helpful.

Alissa Williams 39:09

Yes. And just like to not forget, like what it is you wanted to, you know, like, like, Oh, that's right. I do want to read nonfiction. And I do want to do a little bit of yoga. And I'd like it too because it's easy to skip. Like I had a couple early morning meetings this week. And so I couldn't do my full routine, but I could do parts of it. Or I could do five minutes of nonfiction reading instead of 15 minutes. And so knowing kind of what the ideal is and helps you make adjustments when other things come up because you're not always gotta have the same morning every morning.

Jennifer Wilson 39:52

Oh yes, for sure. I'm curious if you ever feel like guilty and skipping does it make you feel weird to like, go ahead and press it where it says instead of today, I'll say tomorrow?

Alissa Williams 40:05

Um, yes, it does. And what it makes me think of like, Okay, how much of a priority is this to me? Like is this like for this week, for example, I had two mornings where I had to be up earlier an hour before I normally have to be somewhere. And so like, I have a reminder to make quick, to make overnight oats each night because I'm trying to eat that for breakfast. And I've been skipping that for a while. And part of it was will like, I'm gonna have to just microwave a sandwich, or I'm going to this meeting where they're going to serve me breakfast. So some of his just practicality if it doesn't work. But yeah, I'm sort of like, okay, I've skipped making these overnight oats for like, two weeks now I need to get back on this train. Or I need to take it off the list because it's no longer a priority. And really.

Jennifer Wilson 40:57

No, I love that. I think that's that's a really positive way to look at it. That if you keep skipping it, we need to figure out why. Is it because it needs to be at a different time? Is it because it's the wrong thing? You know, what's, how do we realign if you consistently Don't skip it. If it's just like, Oh, I'm just way too tired to load the dishwasher. You know, sometimes, you really are. And sometimes you're just being lazy. So I speak, speaking for myself.

Alissa Williams 41:13

Oh, 100%. Yeah. And like, part of I know that part of this overnight oats thing is that I went to Costco two weeks ago, and I found these new breakfast sandwiches that are super delicious and like, take a minute and I'm super into them right now. And it's like, okay, in fact, we even I, I ate them all in like a week because there's only like eight and a box. But I made a special trip to go back to Costco to get them for this week, especially because I knew I was gonna have some of these early mornings where I can eat that. I can eat that in the car on the drive to work, whereas it's harder to eat overnight oats in a bowl with a spoon. So some of it just has to do with like what's happening, but it hasn't made me think okay, like, is this still a priority? Or am I really into these sandwiches? But what's better for me so?

Jennifer Wilson 42:15

Well, I'm curious, would it be valuable to you to have your evening item be make a plan for breakfast?

Alissa Williams 42:24

Oh, I like that. That could be really I need to add to the list, figure out what you're making for lunch? Or having for lunch? Because that's usually my daily struggle is...

Jennifer Wilson 42:34

Yeah, maybe it's like, Do you have a meal plan for tomorrow? Like, you don't need to think about necessarily the whole week, because we know things often shift. And, you know, that might be a weekly task to think about, okay, what is, what are the possibilities, but even just Okay, let's make some actual decisions for tomorrow.

Alissa Williams 42:50

I like that idea. Because that gives me more flexibility. But like...

Jennifer Wilson 42:55

Yeah, I've been trying to like communicate with Steve more about that. It's so amazing. Just how if you just said like, hey, like, what do you think we should have for dinner tomorrow night and having that conversation results in plans versus like frustration and in trying to decide in the moment when you're hungry and running behind and need to like feed people before they're all going different places? So having that evening conversation, I think is helpful.

Alissa Williams 42:55

For sure. I mean, we only have a couple of nights right now, where we're all home for dinner. And I really do try to prime my husband, who's our main meal provider dinner cooker. Like in the mornings, I'll be like, okay, so what if we had this for dinner? And I'm like, I'll make a suggestion. And he'll be like, Oh, no, I was thinking this, great. Because sometimes he'll text me at two like, what do you want to have for dinner? Well, at two o'clock, I've been making decisions all day and I really don't care what I have for dinner, just feed to me. So, you know, I found that just as simple like, Hey, I was thinking this or Oh, just reminder, we're all gonna be home. But we've definitely with the girls doing some different activities. We have many more nights where we're not home or someone's getting home late or, or whatnot. So it's been a little trickier to figure out what we're eating when.

Jennifer Wilson 42:59

Oh, for sure. I mean, Emily made herself ravioli yesterday at like, three o'clock. And then I made her pancakes at eight when she got home. She didn't get home until like 830 I think so I made her a couple pancakes. So it was just, you know, she's gone for a big chunk of the evening. And so we, she kind of has two dinners.

Alissa Williams 44:46

Yeah, I find they're so hungry when they get hom school.

Jennifer Wilson 44:49

Oh my gosh. Yes. I think the one of the takeaways that I have from this is just to to think about the times in which you are most likely to make a good decision. Decisions for future you. And to make sure you're assigning those to the right times. Because we all have times when we're not making the best decisions that future you will most appreciate. Like, even like going to the store when you know you're not going to be hungry, or versus going to the store when you're starving. Things like that, I think just thinking about routines and planning can help you align things just so that life goes a little bit smoother.

Alissa Williams 45:29

Well, and I think, especially for me that the evening routine is so key, because it's like, if I can have that reminder at 745 that I need to brush my teeth, as dumb as that sounds like, then I'm not waiting till nine when I'm like, or nine or 10. You know, and I'm tired. And I don't want to take you know, two minutes to brush my teeth. But if I do it it, you know, eight o'clock, but you know, before I sit down to watch a show or read a book or do whatever. , like Okay, it's done and I can, I can do it, you know, I can begin my evening routine earlier. Has been really helpful to me to like it doesn't have to be tied to necessarily bedtime. Like, it also helps me from snacking later on at night too.

Jennifer Wilson 46:17

Oh, yeah, I bet.

Alissa Williams 46:20

So yeah, I like that. I did too, of doing it when I'm more like functional. And remember reminding me like I have this I'm doing this particular protocol where I have to do this face cream at morning and at night. And so and I, the night one is easier for me to skip. And because I don't want to wash my face at night, and I don't want to put the cream on and but it's like, I know it's better for me if I do that. And so just remembering like, oh, yeah, you should, you know, wash your face. Now it's eight o'clock, before I get really tired is very helpful.

Jennifer Wilson 46:57

This is fascinating, because I think this is like a spiral versus bound planner, because that's my favorite part on my evening routine is getting to wash my face.

Alissa Williams 47:06

That's so interesting. I just yeah, I've never been like a beauty person. You're much more of a beauty person than I am. Like you like, you know, you place your orders from Ulta. I might go there once a year. So yeah, everyone has different interests, which is fine.

Jennifer Wilson 47:25

That's for sure.

Alissa Williams 47:26

But yeah, I that's never been my routine. And so when I had to start making it my routine here a couple months ago, I was like, how am I gonna remember to do this when I'm tired at the end of the night?

Jennifer Wilson 47:37

Yeah, for sure. I find that in general, it's just helping me kind of relax more than that's why I look forward to it. I'm sleeping better. I'm going to bed often earlier, like really listening to my body and like, Oh yeah, I'm tired, I should go to sleep. And then also kind of putting my phone away. And then I try to spend the last 20 minutes reading before I go to bed. And so it's just, it's been really just a nice transition. I think that's just why I look forward to so much. It just it's been pleasant.

Alissa Williams 48:09

It is pleasant. And it's, you know, I just my brain feels so full of other information. It's like, oh, yeah, it's time for you to take care of yourself now, you know, like, go do these things. And I think one night I messaged, texted you and was like, I'm going to brush my teeth now because this stupid reminder went off and I don't want to brush my teeth, but I'm doing it anyway. So I can check the box. And yes, you know, and I think it's less about brushing, but my dentist is like, Oh, you need to floss more. You know, I'm a terrible flosser. And so having that on the list helps me remember that I'm supposed to be flossing and you know, and I keep the floss on the counter. And it makes it just whatever you can do to make these things easier for you.

Jennifer Wilson 48:54

Yes, yes. So I will include a link in the show notes to I'm sure there's some sort of tutorial out there even from Apple on how to use the Reminders app for recurring activities like that. Because it's been something that's really helpful and we had to like fish around to figure out how to do it. So I will try to include some instruction in the show notes. Alissa, this has been so nice as always, I love to chat with you. Can you remind our listeners where we can find you online?

Alissa Williams 49:22

Sure. I'm AlissaRecommends at on Instagram. I post mostly about my girls, but I tried to post book recommendations and a little bit of scrapbooking too.

Jennifer Wilson 49:35

Sounds good. Thanks so much.

Alissa Williams 49:37

Thank you.

Jennifer Wilson 49:39

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