Happy Holidays! Today, I offer the simplest of Simplified Suggestions during this holiday season – please be kind to yourself and others. With all of the chaos in the world, kindness is the best we can offer to anyone and what we can control within ourselves. Show love to those who you care about and give yourself love, too.
People often joke about my incessant use of spreadsheets for everything in my life – I totally get it, it’s a tad out of control. True story – my husband won me over with spreadsheets when we first started dating. He created two shared spreadsheets for the movies he needed to catch me up on (don’t judge me because I haven’t seen any of the Indiana Jones movies) and restaurants that we should try together. I think I knew I was in love when Thomas created a shared Google Calendar as I melted into a love puddle, obviously.
Jokes aside, I can confidently say that my fondness for spreadsheets absolutely prepares us for holiday gift giving (and budget-tracking) success. Fun Fact: I love giving gifts, surprisingly though, that is not my love language (it’s Words of Affirmation). What I love more than giving gifts is organization; hence, for the last several years, I’ve been keeping track of each year’s holiday gift recipients, gift types, mailing addresses, budgets, postage, etc.
Does time for yourself sound like a foreign concept to you, too? While I was away on a short vacation last week, I grappled internally with the irritating idea of not having the time to create my weekly Simplified Suggestion post. This type of scheduling stress tends to happen around this time of year for most people, the holidays overtake your personal and professional schedules, and it can become ridiculously chaotic if you let it.
What I decided to do is going to be a shock to everyone who knows me personally – I skipped last week’s post. Completely skipped it, without notice and without warning. After too much deliberation, I decided that being mindful of my head-space and making time for myself to relax, especially around this time of year, was most important for my mental health and well-being. And do you know what? It worked like a charm! I flew back home with a more clear head-space and ready to take on the work ahead of me for myself and my clients.
Since our first holiday season together in 2014, Thomas and I have kept our seasonal decorations simple. A beautiful rosemary tabletop tree here, some seasonally-scented candles there – it’s just that clutter isn’t our thing. So, when it came to a tree for our home, we turned to Not Martha, a super unique DIY blog with tons of amazing ideas for your home. Not Martha presents an amazing DIY idea for an alternative to a standard Christmas tree. Not Martha’s Christmas Tree Ornament Mobile is such a fun interpretation, that once Thomas and I saw it we knew we had to make it happen for our home.
Earlier this week, I digitally attended a Webinar co-hosted by DocuSign and Google. Using their new integrations, I learned that you can create, edit, and complete documents in minutes right from Google Drive and Gmail (I would insert a heart-eyed emoji here, if I could.) DocuSign has been designed as a natural extension to core Google applications, enabling users to create end-to-end digital workflows and move seamlessly from an email attachment or file stored in Drive to approval & signature in no time at all. Doing business has never been more efficient. If you are interested in watching the DocuSign and Google Webinar, you may click this link.
Quick! Take a look at your phone. How many red notification bubbles do you have scattered across the screen? Do said notifications overwhelm you or bring you stress? If so, be a tech rebel and turn off your notifications – you don’t need to be beholden to your phone.
Every marketing communications strategy inherently requires a content calendar; however, it’s not all about simplification, but very much adds value in operational efficiencies, as well. A content calendar allows for you to map out and plan your brand communications to ensure they align with strategy, company updates, events and seasonality. If planned properly, a content calendar will eventually increase your brand’s customer engagement and conversion.
Changing your last name after marriage can be a PITA for a zillion reasons: some people will judge you (shame on you, Judgey McJudgersons) either way you choose, changing a last name you’ve had your entire life can be mentally challenging and it can be utterly confounding and confusing to actually make it happen. Changing your last name, or not changing it, is 100% up to you – no judgement from this lady.
Let’s say you’ve decided to change your last name. Combing the internet for hours to research which forms to fill out and what you need to do for your own unique situation within your state doesn’t seem like a good use of your time, especially when there are a wedding and honeymoon to plan. This situation is one in which I could be most helpful!
Given my overtly Type-A nature, all travel plans (domestic or international) are accompanied by multi-tabbed planning spreadsheet workbooks. The workbooks are complete with detailed luggage organization information, packing lists, daily itineraries, restaurant reservations, travel times, estimated expenses, etc. The planning of it all is my second favorite part of vacations – the best part for me is to experience time away with people I love.
My husband and I just returned from a one-of-a-kind journey through the Netherlands and Belgium featuring daily excursions to unique breweries, delicious regional cuisine and cultural tours of historic cities like Antwerp and Dendermonde. What truly set this particular getaway apart from the rest was that I didn’t have to plan a thing (a nice respite from the status quo). Imagine the extent of my adoration for the expertly curated vacation itinerary by two of the most wonderful and knowledgeable tour guides in the world – Dr. Ruth Berman and Dr. Mike Arra of Bon Beer Voyage. Their Amsterdam to Bruges Beercation exceeded our wildest expectations. We returned home grateful for a beautiful experience and happy that we met fellow beer-lovers and new friends, just like our previous trips with them to Asheville and Washington D.C. – if this sounds like it’s up your alley, please check out the Bon Beer Voyage website to book a beercation that best suits you! Let them know that Simplified by Jess sent you.
There’s a meme floating around out there which indicates there are two types of people in the world. Some are walking around with out-of-control email inboxes in their pocket and the deathly red notification circle which indicates tens, if not hundreds of thousands of unread emails. I shudder at the thought, first with anxiety and then excitement to organize! Then there’s a niche group of people who strive for inbox zero on a daily basis.
I’d like to point out that these are both extremes – I would assume that the standard goal would be to find a happy medium; however, I am one of those Inbox Zero fanatics. It’s incredibly satisfying to triage emails, it’s akin to the feeling of checking everything off of your to-do list. Goosebumps and happiness ensue.