Do you know what an information graphic or an infographic is? It is a visual representation of information that often makes it easy to read and understand complicated information. Infographics are all over Pinterest and because of Pinterest’s popularity, they are now all over the web.
Many infographics are filled with data and statistics, and others, like the one below, don’t don’t contain numbers at all:
They are a huge traffic source for websites, which is why I recently embarked upon a quest to add an infographic to all of my website’s pages. So, now I create infographics on the regular now – for both new web pages I create, to spiff up old pages, to promote a product, and the list goes on.
Here’s the kicker – I do all of this graphic creation for FREE! Huh? It’s true.
Back in the day I used Adobe Illustrator, but keeping up with that expensive program and all of its versions didn’t seem worth it. I needed something much easier and less expensive. I currently use the PicCollage app for making photo collages and fun infographics on my smart phone, but I needed something a little more robust.
Hence, I present to you PicMonkey!
This platform is freakin’ incredible, and all of these exclamation points are very necessary! I’m that enthusiastic about this technology and I use it every week.
Check out these cool features:
- Simple To Use. I mean really simple. You can drag and drop and create images — like your Facebook cover photo – at the click of a button (or two).
- Very comprehensive. Just because it’s simple to use doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of stuff you can do. There are lots of options like tons of fonts, a variety of overlays, many cool graphics, and several photo editing options. And, that is just the tip of the iceberg.
- It’s free. I’ve been using the free version, so you can definitely do all these cool things without denting your wallet. However, if you want access to even more fonts, more graphics, and even more options, the paid version is as low as $33 for the year. Crazy!
- No need to download software. You use the software online, so you can access it anywhere (as long as you have an internet connection) and you don’t have to use up any space on your computer.
Want more details? How about a demonstration? Ali Rittenhouse has a really helpful tutorial on how to use it (that’s how I found about it this awesomeness), so check it out.
Ready to try it? Why not give PicMonkey.com a test drive? Then come back here, and let me know what you think. If you’ve already used it, what’s your opinion? I’d love to know! Leave me a comment below.
There’s a lot to love about dry erase boards! They can be so much fun, especially when you use colored markers. They also come in a variety of shapes and sizes, but my favorite one is the small, portable 5″ x 7″ board (affiliate link).
What’s even better is that this simple, helpful tool can be used in several ways to help get your family organized.
5 Ways to to Organize Your Family Using a Dry Erase Board
1. Create Reminders
Families have a lot to remember all the time. Why not use a dry erase board to help everyone stay on top of things?
- Use a dry erase board in your bedroom to remind you about what’s coming up and jot down tasks as you get ready in the morning.
- Attach a dry erase board near the main entry/exit door to remind you what to bring to school or work.
- Add a dry erase board to your command center. Attach markers with velcro or magnet to have a handy tool to jot down ideas and notes.
2. Post Pantry, Freezer, or Dinner Lists
You can avoid making duplicate purchases if you keep a running list of your current inventory. And, you can also let everyone know the meal plan for the week.
- Make a list of what’s in the freezer. Use a magnetic dry erase board (affiliate link) attached to the size of your refrigerator or freezer to record your list.
- Make a list that includes what’s for dinner each night. Categorize your lists by vegetables, main dish, and snacks (or the categories most used by your family).
- Make a list of what’s running low in the pantry. Take a picture of your list (or save your regular list to Evernote) so that you have it handy the next time you run to the grocery store.
Writing lists on a dry erase board can help keep these areas more organized and also keep everyone in the loop.
3. Help with Homework Time
Children can have their own personal dry erase board to keep up with their studies. When paired with colorful markers, (affiliate link) they can help make learning fun.
- Students can prioritize their homework each evening by writing an action list of things they must get completed on a dry erase board.
- White boards are also a great tool for reviewing information for an upcoming test.
- Elementary students can use dry erase boards to memorize and write out math problems.
4. Record Family Responsibilities
Tired of reminding your family member to do their chores? No more nagging! Create a list on the white board instead.
- Use a dry erase board to list jobs for everyone as well as the days they need to complete those tasks.
- Check off everyone’s responsibilities during the week as they are completed.
5. Keep Track of Upcoming Events
You can use a large dry erase calendars (affiliate link) in your kitchen or in another well-trafficked area. Then, simply add events and deadlines daily. That way, everyone will know what’s coming up!
There are oodles of ways you can use dry erase boards! How do you use yours?
“A new study—conducted by Mueller and Oppenheimer—finds that people remember lectures better when they’ve taken handwritten notes, rather than typed ones.
What’s more, knowing how and why typed notes can be bad doesn’t seem to improve their quality. Even if you warn laptop-notetakers ahead of time, it doesn’t make a difference. For some tasks, it seems, handwriting’s just better.”
To Remember a Lecture Better, Take Notes by Hand | TheAtlantic.com | 5.1.2014
*All book links are affiliate links.
Forrest Gump, one of America’s early life coaches, taught us all many years ago life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you will find.
Sometimes organizing (and prioritizing) is like a box of chocolates, too.
After receiving a box of chocolate as a gift from a department I gave a presentation to, I stumbled across this stunning metaphor. What can I say? Chocolate makes me a genius.
When dealing with a box of chocolate, I eat the dark chocolate first, dark chocolate with fruit second, milk chocolate third, and milk chocolate with fruit last. If there’s white chocolate, it’s the very, very last. I love chocolate, but I have my priorities – which is my point.
We face boxes of chocolate each day, and we make choices on how we spend our time and what tasks we complete. It’s easier to choose chocolate over anything lurking on your to-do list. No matter how much I love dark chocolate, there are times when I have to deal with white chocolate, i.e. the stuff I don’t really want to deal with but I have to because I’m a grown-up with responsibilities.
You may not always feel motivated to work on your priorities. But, the good news is that there are things you can do to make it easier to focus on the right things at the right time.
5 Ways to Focus on Your Priorities
- Work on your MIT (Most Important Thing) First. One item on your to-do list has to be a higher priority than the others. If everything is important, then nothing is important. So, start with your MIT first.
- Take a bite. Whenever possible, spend time on your MIT before opening e-mail and getting sucked into the craziness of the day. Even if it’s just 15 to 20 minutes, it will make a difference to how you feel and how productive you are. Take a bite of your MIT and bask in that sense of accomplishment you will generate for the rest of the day.
- Limit multitasking. Turn off e-mail, the Internet, and other distractions while you’re trying to focus. Multitasking reduces our productivity by up to 40 percent which is why driving and texting can make you more dangerous than a drunk driver. To help you practice focusing, use the Time Timer app and set it for 15 minutes when you begin working on your project.
- Set yourself up for success. It’s easy to say something is our priority, but the execution is really what counts. You have to set yourself up for success by making it easy. Let’s say you want fitness to be your priority. How do you make that happen? If you want to exercise in the morning, lay your workout clothes by your bed (before you go to bed). If you want to save money by bringing your lunch to work, pack it the night before so it’s all ready to go. When you make decisions in advance, it’s easier for you to follow the priorities you want to follow.
- Use a map. Unlike Forrest Gump, I actually use the little map that shows what each chocolate is. Boxes of chocolate aren’t really mysterious, and you don’t have to pinch the corner or take a bite to figure out what you have. Since we humans don’t come with our own maps or guidebook, create your own
- Schedule your priorities on your calendar to block off time to work on them
- If you have a mantra or a goal, have it hanging up where you can see it
- Keep track of strategies that work well for you and incorporate them in your daily routines to help you manage your day
Knowing what your priorities are and making them the star of your day eliminates those chocolate surprises Forrest likes.
Today’s Memorial Day, a holiday in the United States, and the OTR authors have the day off. We hope you’re having a happy and enjoyable day no matter where you are.
If you’d like to catch up on some of our posts, please have a look at:
” … a newly released study in the Journal of Science and Medicine [found] that women were much happier at work than at home. And men were only moderately happier at home than at work. Both men and women were a lot less stressed out on the weekend – when they were home – than on the weekdays.“
Are you more stressed at home than at work? | WashingtonPost.com | 5.22.2014
*All book links are affiliate links.
Can you believe that Memorial Day is less than a week away? I am so relieved that the warm weather has finally arrived, as I’m sure you are too! Now is the time to expand your living quarters to the outside, whether you have a tiny patio or a big backyard, so that you have a place to relax as well as entertain friends and family.
Now, let’s do an exercise!
Close your eyes and using all of your senses, think about what your backyard oasis would entail. Open your eyes and while you remember what you saw, sketch it with colored pencils or markers. Then, write down what you smelled, tasted, felt, and heard.
Now, unless Oprah swings by your house with a check (how lovely would that be!), you’ll probably need to forego the swimming pool and grotto, and stick to the more basic and inexpensive ideas like planting flowers and getting comfy cushions for your chairs. But that can be just as great!
Look at your drawing and focus on the following areas to make your dream backyard oasis an economical, yet beautiful place to be.
- What did you see? Pick up on the colors that you used. Is there a predominant one that is visible? Work on incorporating that color into your backyard with flowers, as well as with pillows for your outdoor furniture. Also, pick up on any lighting that was in the picture. If you dreamed of your backyard at night, think about getting Tiki torches or a variety of solar lights.
- What did you smell? Pick up on any smells that come to mind. Did you smell the clothes drying outside on the line, or a beach-y scent like coconut? Or, maybe you are smelling flowers like Jasmine. Find an area to plant some near a place you’ll be able to appreciate it.
- What did you taste? Pick up on the foods that you enjoy eating in the summertime. Maybe that’s a juicy watermelon, corn on the cob, or a burger on the grill. Make sure you stock up on these favorites in the fridge and freezer.
- What did you feel? Pick up on any textures that feel great in the summertime. Think of your bare feet on a lush lawn. Make sure to take great care of your lawn, filling in any bald patches. Hopefully you didn’t feel any mosquito bites!
- What did you hear? Pick up on sounds like birds chirping, or a stereo, playing mellow songs for you to relax to.
I hope you were able to hone in on everything that created your ideal picture of your summertime backyard. Once all of your sensory elements are in place, sit down and enjoy it, and do a “here’s to summer” cheers with someone with a glass of iced tea!
What’s in your outdoor oasis? Share in the comments!
Are you ready for this month’s 5-Minute Organizing Challenge? Each month, we explore what you can do for five minutes at a time to get more organized.
With the weather getting warmer and Springtime in full effect, more people are traveling and planning trips.So,our challenge topic this month is getting organized for warm weather travel.
Here are five mini-challenges (each one should take about five minutes to complete) that will help you prepare for you upcoming trips.
Get Organized for Warm Weather Travel Five Minutes at a Time
1. Do some research. If you’re staying at a hotel or someone’s home, find out what amenities are already there by making a call or searching online. Also, check the weather forecast. For example, will you need an umbrella for a subtropical climate? Make sure you check the forecast the night before you leave, so you can pack any additional things you may need.
2. Make a checklist of items to pack. Write or edit your list at least a week before you leave. Start with clothing, toiletries, medication, and other important items you specifically must have with you.
As the week progresses, continue adding items as you think of them. If you have a written list, consider transferring your list to your laptop, tablet, or smart phone. Remember warm weather items like sunblock, aloe vera, flip-flops, and sunglasses!
3. Use packing organizers. If you have them packing cubes, use them. If you don’t, you can spend a few minutes looking online to shop for essential pieces. Commercial organizers can be well worth the cost if you travel frequently, or if you will be on vacation for an extended time.
4. Start packing early. Several days before your trip, open your suitcase and start packing items you aren’t using. Continue to do this each day for five minutes at a time. At least 24 hours before you take off, pack whatever is still left on your list (toiletries go in last when you’re finished using them).
Shortly before you leave, rearrange your bag with the heaviest items on the bottom and place clothing on top. Be sure to pack travel-size toiletries in a plastic zip top bag or container to protect your valuables from potential leaks.
5. Pack healthy snacks. Whether you’re flying, driving, or riding to your destination, carrying healthy snacks is usually a cost-effective option — and it can be the healthiest one, too. Many airlines are cutting back on meal and snack service, and sometimes healthy foods are not available on road trips in rural areas, so pack healthy treats to hold you over until you get to your final destination.
The best vacations are usually the ones you’re most prepared for. Rushing to get to the airport or start a long journey at the last minute is never enjoyable. If you’re organized ahead of time, this can make or break the trip. By taking on a these simple 5-minute challenges this month, you will be prepared to take your trip with peace of mind.
What other 5-minute challenges can you recommend to prepare for warm weather travel?
Have you heard of Bitly?
If you have, do you know how cool the features really are?
If you haven’t heard of it, Bitly is a free service that shortens web addresses. This is extremely helpful for things like posting status updates to Twitter, but it’s SO much more than that.
I’ve known about Bitly for forever but only started using it in the last few months (kicking myself in the tushi!). Since I’ve started using Bitly for the last few weeks, I am loving it (as much as I love my digital calendar) for several reasons. As of now, I can only think of one drawback. Here’s my review and five reasons why you should be using it.
Five Reasons I Love Bitly
- Shorten links – Let’s start with the most obvious fantastic feature: you can shorten web addresses. This is convenient for social media status updates, and shorter links just look better.
- Track links – This is my FAVORITE part. You can see the analytics of every Bitly link you create, like how many people clicked on your link, the source of the clicks, and more.
This is a huge time-saver when you’re trying to track how many click-throughs you’ve sent to another website from your own site, from all of your social media outlets, from your e-newsletter, and so on.
Rather than counting all of the click-throughs manually from each individual source, you can go to one place and see the results. I found this extremely convenient when tracking the amount of traffic I sent to my sponsor’s website for the month, for example.
- It’s free! Need I say more? There is a paid version (Bitly Brand Tools), but for the features I’m mentioning today, there is no cost.
- Access it from anywhere. Since it’s an online platform, you can log in from any computer anywhere in the world to see your Bitly link data. And, of course, there’s an app so you can access your account from your phone or tablet too!
- It’s easy. It’s REALLY easy. You simply copy the URL that you want to turn into a Bitly link, paste it in the “Paste a link here to shorten” box at the top of your Bitly dashboard, and hit Enter. Then use the shortened Bitly link it generates for you rather than the original URL. That’s it!
So far the only drawback I’ve come across with using Bitly is integrating it with Pinterest. Pinterest doesn’t allow Bitly links which makes sense with all of the spammers out there. However, it’s doesn’t fit into my check-all-link-analytics-in-one-place routine.
Overall my opinion of Bitly is very high, and I would recommend using it. What has your experience been with it? Leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you!
“A recent study published in the Swedish journal, Sleep showed that, rather than boosting productivity, staying up all night is actually harmful to your brain.
The researchers measured blood levels of certain proteins associated with brain injuries such as concussions and found protein levels were 20% higher in those who pulled all-nighters compared to when they got a full night’s rest. Although not as high as protein levels post-concussion, the study proves skimping on sleep can do real brain damage.“
How Working Late is Harming Your Brain | FastCompany.com | 4.29.2014
*All book links are affiliate links.