More Real Life, Less Highlight Reel: How Can You Be More YOU On Instagram?

Have you noticed the shift? Because there’s a HUGE shift happening. People are getting bored, burnt out, and tired of seeing the same old content on Instagram. The fluff! The small talk captions that hold no meaning or impact. The sugary sweet highlight reel. Instead?

We’re craving connection, real life, authentic storytelling, and that coveted behind the scenes peek into other’s lives and businesses that is often not shared.

I’ll be honest. I’ve struggled with a few things on Instagram. I wouldn’t publish on my account for days because I felt like I didn’t have the best, most aesthetically pleasing photo for my grid. I’d test out multiple pictures and sigh when they weren’t “good enough.” Or, I fell into a rut, completely stuck and lost on what to write about. Are these thoughts sounding familiar?

I even felt like I needed to have at least a few swipes of makeup on every single time I showed up on Instagram Stories (until I threw that ritual way out the window when I hopped on at 5:44am, literally from bed, sans the glam squad).

What I’m about to say next is going to seem contradictory because no matter how much we tell ourselves that we need to let our hair down and be real and not be so obsessed with keeping up appearances, it’s human nature and oh-so-normal to be drawn to pretty things.

When I see a beautifully laid out Instagram feed with all the same tones and colors and stunning photography, I’m filled with all the heart eye emojis. I feel inspired. Whether we like it or not, looks still matter on this platform (to an extent).

So here’s the thing. Yes, of course we want to share those special moments, and I encourage you to do so! The trip to Cabo with the stunning ocean view, the new pair of boots you bought, the cute photo of your dog in his Halloween costume, the idyllic latte with a heart drawn in it, a flat lay of your favorite things. I’m not knocking any of this. Heck, I post things like this too.

These images definitely have their place in our grid. By sharing them, we’re celebrating micro-moments of joy and wonder in our day to day life.

But when I start to really get into someone’s vibe and content (in a non-creepy way obviously), I want to learn more about THEM, you know? I don’t just want to know about their coffee or that they’re excited about fall. I want their captions to be filled with stories and real life stuff.

So how can you show up differently, and be more vulnerable, real, and more YOU? 

Selfishly, this is what I want to know about you (and I’m sure many other people do, too):

  • All the juicy behind the scenes stuff. What does it really look like inside your life and business?
  • What are you working on, and working towards? 
  • Where are you currently struggling? 
  • What makes you and your business imperfect? 
  • What are you currently reading? 
  • What are your favorite guilty pleasures? 
  • What has inspired you recently? 
  • Did you try something new? Details, please! 
  • All the new strategies, tips, and tricks that you’re experimenting with 
  • Anything that goes beyond the surface of your photo. 
  • The not-so-great moments. Your stresses, your failed launch, that time you set a goal and didn’t achieve it, how you handled criticism or a negative comment. 

You might be cringing at that last one, but hear me out.

Sharing and exposing your deepest thoughts and insights provides value, meaning, and inspiration. 

Behind the scenes content connects you that much more to your audience. Even if ‘you’ aren’t at the center of your business, we are all our own brand, and what we put out there will either attract our tribe or repel the ones who wouldn’t have ever been a part of it anyway.

Examples I Love:

@jesscreatives - I love this perfect blend of blatant honesty and humor. She admits that her week sucked!

@elanoloo is a traveling creative who occasionally teams up with brands for meaningful partnerships. I appreciate the little details she shares here, about meeting up with Anthropologie in Maine.

@ashley.beaudin launched the Imperfect Boss movement to make ‘imperfection’ normal. You can’t help but love this girl. Search the hashtag #theimperfectboss to find thousands of other honest confessions.

@melyssa_griffin turned what could have been nothing more than a simple quote into a beautiful story about a yoga class she attended.

@byreginatv always knows how to poke fun at herself. If you can laugh at yourself and publicly admit to awkwardness? You’re doing something right.

How can you apply these tips to Instagram Stories?

  • Don’t put makeup on just for the sake of your story (unless of course, you’re already wearing it!).
  • Show more of your face on Stories. 
  • Let your audience in on your day. Chat with them and ask questions. 
  • Create polls to learn more about them and what they want to hear from you.
  • Be a storyteller. Visually take us through a day in your life! Don’t always tell. Show! 
  • Traveling for work? Going to a conference? Capture snippets of the ‘journey’ - whether that’s you walking through the airport, a glimpse of your hotel room, your favorite moments, share all of it. Pat Flynn frequently takes his followers behind the scenes on his business trips. 
  • Hanging out with a biz bestie? Have them say hi and introduce themselves!
  • Walk us through your morning or evening rituals.
  • Think of your Instagram story as a "micro-vlog." Allow that thought to inspire your content!

Here’s your challenge: Take 15 minutes today and think about how you can reveal more of yourself and your business to your audience in a way that feels fun. Jot down a list of topics and caption ideas.

And before I go, if you’re resonating with this post like crazy, here are a few other thoughts on the subject:

1. Jessica Stansberry shared in her email newsletter this month that her monthly roundup emails (that share what’s going on inside her biz) are her “most well-received” and some of her “favorite emails to write.”

2. Sarah admitted recently that she lost the joy in blogging, and wants it to be fun again. She’s burnt out on list posts and how-tos.

3. Lauren Hooker of Elle & Company revealed that her readership requested more “behind the scenes” content, inspiring this post.

4. LA influencer Brielle of The Gilded Bellini opened a dialogue here about the positive and negative effects of social media. She confessed, “the wanting to post everyday turned into a not so fun obligation for me.”

5. Gary Vaynerchuk talks a lot about documenting vs. creating. In this blog post, he says, “I believe that the people who are willing to discuss their journeys are going to win.”

P.S. Are we friends on Instagram? Click here to view my profile.

Let's Chat: Are you tired of the same old, same old on Instagram?

5 Reasons Why My Freelance Income Stayed Exactly The Same For 3 Years

Can we start a dialogue around failure? Because I was one HOT MESS just a few years ago. Running your own business can seem like a magical thing (and in many ways, it is, and it can be!) You can do client work in the comfort of your yoga pants, answer emails at 10pm or 7am (your choice!), and let's not forget the unlimited vacation days.

Backstory: I'm a boomerang business owner. Meaning, I've gone from 9-5 to business owner, to 9-5, back to full-time business owner. Everything in this article relates to my first go-around running my own business.

The truth is, we all make mistakes that make us cringe, especially in the ever humble beginning/early days.

In 3 years of running my own business (2011-2014), my income stayed exactly the same, more or less. Looking back, I can see the glaringly obvious reasons why.

1) I Didn't Raise My Prices

Pricing has everything to do with how much confidence you have in your work and the value you place on your expertise. Think of Fiverr. If you have years of graphic design and branding experience and charge a paltry $5 for a basic logo, do you really think your clients are going to be high-quality? And do you really think your time and effort spent creating a dreamy logo that so perfectly fits their brand is worth only pennies?

Forget cheap. Empower yourself to set rates that freak you out a little bit. 

I've read multiple accounts of entrepreneurs that doubled their prices and found themselves booked out for months, earning more than they imagined, and clearly still creating a high demand for their services.

Freelance business owners have a thousandfold more expenses that should be accounted for when you're coming up with a perfect pricing plan. 25-30% of your income will need to be carefully socked away in a savings account for your quarterly tax payments. Plus, don't forget health insurance and all the fun things you'll want to invest in (maybe it's a ticket to a blogging conference, 500 letterpress business cards, or that new Instagram course that just came out).

As you add more projects and swoon-worthy testimonials to your portfolio year over year, you have every right to increase your prices accordingly.

I didn't raise my rates for over three years.

2) I Accepted Low-Paying Craigslist Jobs

Sometimes, sink or swim are the only two choices, and in a sheer moment of desperation where I wasn't sure if I could make rent the following month, I frequented Craigslist and Upwork to find short-term gigs, often at far lower rates than what I hoped to be making.

Instead of only seeking what's already out there, create your own opportunities. Run a special promotion on one of your packages or services. Cold email the clients and companies you'd love to work for with a goal of setting up a meeting or selling a package. (Yes, this exact strategy has worked for me, and I know it can work for you, too.)

There are an infinite number of ways you can have people knocking on your door, rather than the other way around.

3) I Didn't Have A Plan

It's almost embarrassing for me to admit that with each passing year, I didn't create a solid business plan. So if I can give you some advice, if you're kinda nodding your head along with me... don't coast through the weeks and months without a plan and a solid strategy. Time will fly quicker than you think it will, and you'll look back and realize you didn't make it very far.

Choose to set and prioritize goals based on potential outcomes: for example, the income you could make, or the impact you could have in your niche.

You can even reverse engineer your plan by working backwards. Let's say you want to make $120,000 a year. Do the math and carefully calculate how many courses, 1-on-1 packages, products, and/or sponsored posts you need to sell in order to reach that level. Be sure to factor in expenses, taxes, and the amount you want to reinvest back into your business, too.

Wanna know an amazing, completely FREE tool that I use to plan out everything (from content, to brainstorms, to projects, to all my nitty-gritty to-dos? It's called Asana, and it's pretty much the BEST. I'm obsessed with it).

4) I Failed To Create A Passive Income Stream

Multiple streams of revenue diversify your income and are absolutely essential systems to have in place as an online business owner. I proudly served my 3-4 clients at a time, but came up empty-handed for other revenue streams. Occasionally, projects came to a halt, and I was left treading water, trying to replace the income I was missing. This caused a lot of unnecessary stress.

Consider "Eileen", as an example. She has a successful food blog where she occasionally profits $1-2K per month from sponsored content and affiliate links. Eileen also has a $97 evergreen online course where she teaches students how to create simple, delicious recipes at home. In addition to that, she takes 1 on 1 clients for coaching and mentorship. This creates a healthy "pie chart" of different revenue streams, each contributing to her bottom line month over month.

What additional revenue streams can you create in your business?

5) My Money Mindset Was Stagnant

Successful business owners believe in themselves and stop at nothing to reach their goals. They run their business like it's a 6-figure business while they're making $60K a year.

Mindset is a muscle, and it's something you have to work at every single day. In a world where we're over-saturated with messages of others' wins and successes, it's easy to feel discouraged, envious, and inspired all at the same time.

In the beginning stages, I adopted a scarcity mindset. In my world, I was a starving freelancer, scraping by for every cent, and even laughing at my Dad when he told me I should be charging double what I was offering, because I didn't believe in myself.

For more on mindset, re-read Chapter 24, over and over again, of the New York Times bestseller You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. It's one of my favorite self-help books and it's a thoroughly entertaining read!

Wherever you are in your business, inspire yourself and set those bigger goals! A few tweaks (and not doing what I did for three years!) will propel you forward.

P.S. Are you a fellow boomeranger that's gone back and forth between 9-5ing and working for yourself? I'd love to hear from you. Seriously, email me! Or, feel free to leave a comment below.

Let's Chat: Are you struggling to scale your freelance income? Which one of these reasons resonated with you and how can you take action today to fix it?

Get To Know The San Diego Creative Community - An In-Depth Guide

San Diego, California has a pretty impressive population of small business owners, bloggers, and freelance solopreneurs. We have cake pop companies, Facebook ad strategists, gift box curators, and wellness chefs. Graphic designers, distillers, and career coaches. Everywhere I turn, there seems to be a new event popping up for the creative community that I can pencil in to my calendar.

This is another reason why I’m wholeheartedly obsessed with San Diego.

I mean, how could anyone not fall in love with this coastal city? The tacos, the towering palm trees, the quite-frequently perfect days, andddd yes, the insanely amazing entrepreneurial community. Let’s dig in, shall we?

One thing I’ve noticed at every event I’ve stepped foot in, is just how supportive, encouraging, and inspiring the women are, and it lights me up like no other. I leave feeling like a firecracker - ready to take on the world, implement the next big thing, and do a happy dance over all the new people I met!

Depending on your personality type, in-person events can be nervewracking, draining, or both, but I have a few practices I put into place at the start of each month that ensure I get to at least 1 or 2.

Set an intention of how many events or new connections you’d like to make.

If you’re not used to networking on the regular, maybe 1 event per month is a good benchmark to set that won’t be too overwhelming. Last month, I managed to attend three local events, schedule a virtual brunch, and have an in-person smoothie date with a new friend at Trilogy Sanctuary (which has the prettiest views of the ocean and La Jolla!).

Pro tip: I squished the events into a 2 week window so that the rest of the month, my calendar had plenty of white space - aka dedicated time built in for rest, replenishment, and other things!

When you purchase the tickets or RSVP to claim your spot, do so ahead of time and pencil the events into your calendar. I love looking at my planner in a monthly view, and I color code my commitments with a highlighter so they really stand out.

Have 2-3 meaningful conversations.

Never walk into a local event with the goal of connecting with every single person. For one, that’s an impossible feat, and two, it would lead to 20 or 45 “small talk” conversations that end up being forgettable, rather than meaningful. (I talk more about this on the Fear Less, Create More Podcast).

Instead, stalk the Instagrams of people that you know are going to the event, and leave a comment on their page. Or, see who is ‘following’ the networking group, and check out some of the profiles of their followers. A little pre-engaging goes a long way!
Here’s a taste of the three events I attended last month:

September 9th - Woke up early (for a Saturday) and went to a beachfront spinning class at the Hotel Del Coronado with Levo San Diego, a group for young professional women. About 10-12 of us spun our hearts out and then walked over to a cute cafe for breakfast and got to know each other better.

September 11th - What better way to start a Monday than to visit a new co-working space in the heart of downtown, and settle in to an inspiring rooftop yoga flow taught by Allison Gower? This was the first San Diego Micro Meetup on a Monday. The event also offered mini swag bags, giveaways, and a lively Q&A session with two business coaches.

September 13th - I gathered around a table with 6 other creative business women and just like in a typical mastermind format, we each had the “floor” for 20 minutes to gather whatever business advice or suggestions we needed from the group. I left this Dream | Driven roundtable with new connections, a notebook filled to the brim with ideas, and plenty of validation on ideas I was contemplating for City Leaper.

Now, where to find all of these fabulous networking groups? Here is a list of my personal favorites, along with a description of each.

San Diego Networking Groups

Ad 2 San Diego - If you’re under the age of 32 and work in advertising or marketing, this is your community! The nonprofit regularly hosts inexpensive workshops and networking events for young professionals all around San Diego. Over the age of 32? Check out SDX.

Sample Event: An untapped event at the headquarters of San Diego Magazine.

Follow Ad 2 San Diego on Facebook
Follow @ad2sd on Instagram

Babes Who Sweat - I love the community that holistic health coach and trainer Keara Christine has put together. From beach boot camps to weekend hikes and wellness popup and fitness events, Keara has fostered a fun community.

Sample Event: A 2-mile run and HIIT session followed by a chat led by a nutritionist!

Follow Babes Who Sweat on Facebook
Follow @babeswhosweat on Instagram

Creative Mornings San Diego - A "breakfast lecture" series for the creative community. You can 100% anticipate free coffee, donuts, or both at these inspiring morning talks. Always held on a Friday, each month's event features a speaker and a chosen theme.

Sample Event: Speaker Sara Schairer spoke about compassion and how it can revolutionize our world.

Follow Creative Mornings San Diego on Facebook

Follow @creativemornings_sd on Instagram

Dames Collective - This intimate group of women (capped at 50 members!) host monthly meetups and gatherings all around San Diego. In their words, this is the “ultimate networking group for this generation’s female leaders, entrepreneurs, and innovators.” Membership fees apply.

Sample Event: An open brainstorming session about guerilla marketing held at You & Yours Distillery. 

Follow Dames Collective on Facebook
Follow @damescollective on Instagram

Gals That Brunch - With over 55 chapters around the world, Gals That Brunch hosts intimate brunches for women predominantly in their 20's and 30's. They're headquarted in SD, and we all know San Diego has tons of delicious brunch fare.

Sample Event: Brunch at Great Maple, complete with allll the maple bacon donuts.

Follow Gals That Brunch on Facebook
Follow @galsthatbrunchsd on Instagram

Happsters Squad - Kelli Pease has created an incredible community of happiness and inspiration over at @happsters. Now, in her newest venture, she cultivates groups of 18-20 girls for good vibes and deep connections.

Sample Event: A sunset picnic with rose and a floral sage DIY project. 

Follow Happsters on Facebook
Follow @happsterssquad on Instagram

Lady Killas San Diego - Lady Killas are devoted to the growth of female leadership in the workplace, and founder Courtney Wall has created a positive, powerful platform with monthly networking and speaker-led events. These events are super accessible to all (most being free or $5!) so you can’t afford to miss one.

Sample Event: Lauryn Evarts of The Skinny Confidential spoke to the crowd all about confidence.

Follow Lady Killas on Facebook 
Follow @ladykillas_sd on Instagram

Levo San Diego - Levo is a community of professional millennial women. I attended my first event with them recently and was blown away by how nice everyone was. The San Diego chapter hosts many fun and completely free events.

Sample Event: A scenic hike at Torrey Pines, thoughtfully called a “network-out” :) 

Follow Levo League on Facebook 
Follow @levoleaguesd on Instagram

DREAM | DRIVEN - If you’ve ever wanted to be a part of a mastermind group, DREAM | DRIVEN’s intimate roundtable events are for you. Hosted nearly every month, the platform that co-founders Marie and Michelle have built is incredible for fostering deeper connections and inspiring growth for your business.

Sample Event: You’re paired with a small group of entrepreneurs at a table, and a facilitator keeps time as each person is given 20 minutes to seek advice and ideas from the group. 

Follow DREAM | DRIVEN on Instagram

San Diego Business Babes Collective - Launched in August 2017, the San Diego chapter is bringing women together for quality connections and collaboration. I’m excited to see what events these ladies have in store for 2018.

Sample Event: Open networking at a local boutique with drinks, treats, inspiring speakers, and a photo booth. 

Follow San Diego Business Babes Collective on Facebook 
Follow @sdbusinessbabes on Instagram

San Diego Micro Meetups - Krystal organizes small gatherings of ambitious women that are thoughtfully curated and a blast to attend. Pricing is affordable and all events are limited in size so that there’s an opportunity to get to know the other ladies.

Sample Event: 1 hour of open Q&A with 2 business coaches, followed by a rooftop vinyasa yoga class at a co-working space. 

Follow San Diego Micro Meetups on Facebook 
Follow @micromeetupsd on Instagram

San Diego Style Bloggers - If you’re a fashion blogger, you don’t want to miss the opportunity to connect and collaborate with these fierce ladies. They occasionally host events in partnership with local boutiques and brands. Hashtag your outfit photos on Instagram with #SDStyleBloggers for a chance to be featured on their account.

Sample Event: A private trunk show with exclusive discounts, hosted pizza and cocktails.

Follow San Diego Style Bloggers on Facebook 
Follow @sdstylebloggers on Instagram

She Rocks - What began as an intimate networking event in the fall of 2016 has grown into a freaking fantastic, large-scale networking group for creative women in business. My first She Rocks event was insanely memorable and I look forward to future events. They have a lot planned for 2018, so keep an eye out!

Sample Event: 100+ woman networking party with bites, cocktails, a braid bar, and shopping. 

Follow She Rocks on Facebook 
Follow @sherockswerock on Instagram

Tone It Up San Diego - If you’re a fan of Karena and Katrina, or just happen to love a good sweat, this encouraging Facebook group will connect you with local San Diego women (most in their 20’s and 30’s) who share upcoming fitness events and gatherings.

Sample Event: Private class at a barre studio with mimosas served afterwards. 

Join Tone It Up San Diego on Facebook 
Follow @tiusandiego on Instagram

Tuesdays Together San Diego - A division of Rising Tide Society, Tuesdays Together hosts a monthly meetup (on a Tuesday!) with a new theme for discussion. There’s often times 1-2 speakers, and casual conversations that follow. If you identify as a ‘creative’ or a ‘maker’, you’ll fit right in!

Sample Event: Networking at a co-working space, followed by a speaker sharing her advice on client experiences. 

Follow Tuesdays Together San Diego on Facebook 
Follow @tuesdaystogethersd on Instagram

The WE Society - WE (Women Entrepreneurs) cultivates structured panel-style events every quarter. Speakers share all their best secrets and tricks to success. They always choose a quality group of panelists and host many of their gatherings at the industrial-chic space, Moniker Warehouse.

Sample Event: Drinks and appetizers from Little Lion Cafe, and a 3-gal panel. 

Follow The WE Society on Facebook 
Follow @the_we_society on Instagram


Cover Photo: Sabrina Louise Photography
2nd Photo from Top: Vivienne Tyler Photography
Networking Photos: See Instagram accounts

Let's Chat: Have you attended an inspiring networking event recently? Do you run a local networking group for women that wasn't mentioned in my post? Leave a comment and tell me all about it!

7 Honest Confessions of How I've Been An #ImperfectBoss

The creative journey is full of moments.

Of little, seemingly insignificant wins (like when one of my dormant pins on Pinterest randomly went "viral"). I was so giddy that I called my fiancé into the room to show him the graphs and the analytics.

And it's full of lows. Of the occasional tears, of insane, moody overwhelm, of wondering whether it will all be worth it.

I don't wake up every morning, swipe on red MAC lipstick and a crisp blazer, pen some prose in a gratitude journal, and spend hours and hours cultivating my next blog post and smile to myself as I hit inbox zero. Quite the opposite.

Between my day job, wedding planning, paying bills, friend dates, networking, taking care of my apartment and my dogs, and squeezing in time for maybe one 45 minute TV show each week, life feels pretty darn hectic.

Enter the hashtag #TheImperfectBoss. I'm head over heels loving this refreshingly honest movement that Ashley Beaudin created. It's humanizing, relatable, raw, and real.

So what exactly is it?

According to Ashley, the purpose is to "break open the myth of perfection and send a message to a generation of women that being in business doesn't demand that you are flawless. It simply demands that you own who you are."

The confessions have been fiercely spilling out all over Instagram and Twitter:

"My book on Amazon got so many bad reviews I stopped reading them." 

"I've been in PJs for too many days in a row." 

"Sometimes I miss blogging for fun."

Here are mine. No shame, just realness:

1) I hid behind a pen name for years.

When I first started blogging in 2009, I was known to the world as Kinsey Michaels. Kinsey was like my alter ego. She was cooler than me. More elevated, more fun, more fashionable, more confident. I lived vicariously through her in my posts. After nearly three years, I felt like an imposter and cringed at hiding behind a thin veil of a name that wasn't my own.

2) Sometimes I get so burned out.

I don't force myself to write. I strike when the iron is hot - when my words are bubbling to the surface so fast that it's hard for me to keep up with them. The truth is, most days I get home, collapse on the couch (or in front of my computer), and don't want to do much of anything that exercises my creative muscles.

3) I constantly over-consume, instead of over-create.

Content consumption is easily one of my biggest distractions. Between podcasts, bookmarking articles, self-education, courses, and following a constant stream of threads in over 30 Facebook groups, a lot of my free time goes into learning and reading, rather than doing. It's a delicate balance I'm continuing to work on. The needle will never move forward if I only observe and take information in.

4) My laundry is out of control, and has been for months.

If you saw my overflowing laundry baskets, you probably wouldn't be friends with me anymore (or be reading this blog). For whatever reason, I can never seem to stay on top of our laundry pile! You could liken it to Mt. Everest. It excited me to see so many other creatives also mentioning their lack of consistency with this seemingly simple, arduous chore. We're all human!

5) I accepted low paying jobs from Craigslist to pay the bills.

Working for myself for three years was a tremendous learning experience. Perhaps my biggest mistake was not having a gorgeous, sparkly website selling me, my skills, and my services. Instead, I shopped my resume around to companies on Craigslist, desperately accepting whatever I could get, and often accepting far less than what I was worth, in the process.

6) I'm often plagued with overwhelm.

Overwhelm is my worst enemy. I'm the queen of to-do lists, Asana unicorns, and organization in general, but when faced with a super strenuous list of tasks, I immediately freeze up. What the heck do I do first? I only have an hour to work on something - what should I focus on? Is it even worth it?

7) I was a guest on a podcast, and haven't even listened to the full episode.

When Lydia Lee of Screw The Cubicle offered to have me on her podcast over a year ago, I jumped at the chance. I had a snazzy new microphone, and a story I was excited to share with the world. I'm so bashful about hearing my own voice, that I still haven't listened to the entire interview since it's gone live!

Confessing these seven things makes me feel so naked and exposed and vulnerable. Yet, we all feel these things. They're not always peeking out from under the perfectly curated Instagram photo, but they're there. We have good days, exciting days, hard days, and discouraging days.

And I wouldn't trade this squiggly roller coaster ride for anything else. I am living my dream!

Let's Chat: Can you relate to any of these confessions? How have you been imperfect in your business?

5 Ways To Uplevel Your Home Office

Is your work space fueling you? Does it spark motivation? Do you just want to leap out of bed and sit at your desk and create stuff, minutes after waking up?

Environment is everything, especially when you live in a 600 square foot apartment!

After listening to a Being Boss podcast episode featuring fitness thought leader Chalene Johnson, I was prompted to try this eye-opening exercise, in which you score several areas of your life from 1-10 in terms of contentment. Physical health, spirituality, growth, and love, to name a few. 

After running down the list and being a tough-as-nails critic (as in, nothing got a 10 or even a 9), there it was. Environment got a solid 5. How depressing.

Of course, I knew exactly why it deserved a 5. But seeing it there on paper was a 'tell it like it is' reminder.

How would you rate your environment from 1-10?

I could shamefully point to the pile of clothes that had been sitting in a heap for months, untouched. Or the broken Hewlett-Packard printer taking up square footage in a corner. The expired clipped coupons I was keeping in a file folder for no reason at all. The dust that was quickly accumulating within a tangle of cords and USB cables.

My home office could be easily likened to... well, let's just say from afar, it looked charming, but up close, you could see it needed a little love.

If your workspace is currently even just a little bit cluttered, you better believe it's affecting your inspiration, productivity, and drive.

These are five of my favorite go-to tips to boost that environment rating and find more happiness in your work day.
Assess your equipment and even the little nonsensical things, like your desk accessories. Is there anything that you've had forever that could use a little upgrade? 

My Coach mouse pad was over seven years old. There was nothing wrong with it other than some wear and tear, but after that many years of usage, you can imagine it had certainly seen better days! A quick hunt on Etsy quickly led me to this adorable shop. Her mouse pads are thick, great quality, and feature the most delightful patterns.

As humans, I think we all have a tendency to hold onto things. It takes me probably three rounds of spring cleaning to finally part with that one sweater I always say I'm 'going to wear.' 

Or I tell myself, 'oh, one day I'll get around to fixing that.'

My broken printer was an easy 'trash it' decision (and I can't even tell you how relieved I felt after throwing it away), however, it begs the question, why did I hold onto it for so long? 

Can you relate?

It's time to snap out of that mindset and have a field day with your trash bag! Get rid of notes you don't need, pens that are running dry, and swag from conferences that you know you're never going to use.

Everything on your desk should be working and usable.
Your workspace should be a happy place; a zone that continually motivates you to work, plan, create, and dream. [Tweet This!]

My walls and desk are surrounded by constant reminders:

The 'Golden State of Mind' canvas art hanging above my monitor, the various framed photos of family and friends, and even a little note card I bought at Trader Joe's that says, "My Favorite Thing Is To Go Where I've Never Been."

What messages will fuel your motivation when you find yourself stuck in a rut?

One of my favorite desk accouterments is a white brocade file holder from The Container Store. 

While I have a larger plastic file bin for papers I don't frequently access, I keep all of my 'of the minute' files right where I can see them.

Some of the folders I keep in my desktop file include: Gift Certificates, Travel, Inspiration, and Blog.

In the midst of my cleaning frenzy, it was immediately obvious how long it had been since I had last gone through said files.

I still had folders front and center in my file with paperwork from jobs I hadn't worked in over two years (!)

Anything that's of frequent and immediate importance? Keep it in sight. And make it a point to review and go through your files quarterly.
Clear out your inbox, unsubscribe from newsletters you never read, organize your desktop icons, keep back-ups of all of your important files, and make sure your computer is healthy and up-to-date.

This step may continually feel like an on-going, major work-in-process, but once it's done, it will feel unbelievably amazing.

Make it a point to check in on all of these areas quarterly.

Immediately, I felt lighter, happier, and more inspired to get things done.

Here are some of the tools and equipment I love that keep my home office neat, organized, and inspiring!

AOC 27" LED Monitor (my newest addition and I'm in LOVE!)
Samsung 23" LCD Monitor (similar)

I can't even gush enough about how much of a difference it made spending two hours refining my desk and work area. Between scrubbing, dusting, downsizing, and up-leveling, I felt the fruits of my labor nearly immediately. And I even find myself spending more time at my desk as a result!

Let's Chat: What is the current state of your home office? Do you have any favorite office supplies? (Or maybe something that's on your wishlist?)

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