Limit Yourself to Three Important Tasks + Freebie

To Do List Tips -

We’ve all experienced to-do list overwhelm. I love making lists so making long to-do lists feels pretty natural. Listpads you see for sale at the stores are always so big! They must want you to finish everything, right?

The problem with long to-do lists is that it’s rare that you’d actually finish all the tasks on them. And then you end up feeling terrible and unproductive because you’ve barely made a dent on your task list.

But! If you limit yourself to just writing down three major things you need to do, and then do them, you’ll end up feeling really accomplished and productive. And feeling accomplished usually spurs more productivity. And if you want to call it quits for the day, you know that you did everything that you needed to for that day.

Want some other resources that explain the process?

To help keep myself on track, I created a one-page week-at-glance to-do list to narrow my focus for each day. I have a column for a focus area or theme for each day of the week, and then I write down those three most important tasks for that day. And when I get to cross off those three things, I feel great!

I’m sharing this downloadable with all of you to help you manage your tasks too.

Click on the image below to download (put “0” for the price to download for free or consider leaving a small donation). By entering your email address, you’ll be added to the official RandomOlive email list and receive monthly updates (and notice of future freebies).

Downloadable Action Plan -

Book Review: The Fringe Hours

The Fringe Hours Book Review -

Are you someone who has a hard time making time for yourself? Yea, me too. In the The Fringe Hours, Jessica N. Turner discusses the importance of spending time on yourself and how to find pockets of time in your seemingly packed schedule.

How this Book is Organized
This book is organized into four main sections: 1. Explore, 2. Discover, 3. Maximize, 4. Live Well. The book starts with the emotional dilemmas women face when thinking about self-care: the guilt, the other responsibilities, the perceived selfishness. You’ve got to get on board with wanting to make time for yourself before you’ll buy into the strategies for reclaiming time.

The book then goes through specific strategies and examples for locating pockets of time in then utilizing them for activities that are meaningful.

Throughout the book, there are reflection questions and spaces to write your responses with regard to how you’re currently spending your time and how you’d like to be spending your time.

Overall Impression
I enjoyed that this book provided specific examples of actions I could take to fill my pockets of time with meaningful activities. I also appreciated the attitude that you don’t have to “do it all” and that it’s completely reasonable to ask for help on things that you’re not interested in or good at doing.

Useful For
This book is useful for any of you who suffer from guilt about taking time to take care of yourself. Also good for those of you struggling to squeeze out a few minutes of free time amidst a busy schedule.

Additional Resources
I’ve listened to Jessica speak on a few podcasts recently and found it useful to put a voice to the story.

Amazon links are affiliate.

Better Than Before: Book Review

Better Than Before - review at

Another awesome book by Gretchen Rubin: Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives is a book about building and sticking to habits. Rubin writes from the perspective that all these habits ultimately inform our happiness if we select the right ones.

How this Book is Organized

Rubin starts with the idea that the ease at which we develop habits depends on our personal tendencies. Rubin proposes that people generally fall into four tendencies: Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel. (Find out which one you are here)

Next up, is information about the qualities of habit building, how to start, the stuff that gets in the way of making habits stick, and dealing with the people around you.

Overall Impression

As a fan of both habit resources (see my post rounding up habit resources) and Gretchen Rubin (see my review of The Happiness Project), I expected to really enjoy this book. It didn’t disappoint. I realized that I was truly a Questioner and it’s really difficult for me to build habits that I don’t totally buy into. Knowing this about myself will help me to develop strategies for building new habits.

Useful For
This book is useful for those of you who are looking for a new approach to habit-building. If you’ve had a hard time sticking to habits before, even with all the rules and advice out there, this book will offer you some perspective for adapting to your own personality type.

Amazon links are affiliate.

A Year of Morning Pages

Morning Pages -
This is the story of how free-writing on a (nearly) daily basis changed my life.

Remember when I told you about how The Happiness Project turned me around for the better? Writing morning pages is the other component of it.

In early 2014, I was in a funk. I could only explain the phenomenon as “blah” and I felt blah-by. Yes, I totally made that word up. I self-diagnosed myself with burnout (after taking a few too many online psychology tests) and looked up resources on how to get out of it.

That’s where the concept of morning pages came in. The idea was developed by artist Julia Cameron and the basic idea is that you free-write whatever is in your stream of consciousness first thing in the morning for three pages. (more info on her website) This process is related to journaling, but also, totally different for me somehow. I had tried journaling on-and-off for years, and I could never keep up. I felt like nothing would live up to the beautiful notebook I tried to use. Or if I had a bad handwriting day, I felt it wasn’t worthy of the pretty notebook.

Morning Pages -

My approach to morning pages was different. I let myself use the cheapest notebooks in my collection. (Which are the generic notebooks I hoard for ten cents apiece during back-to-school season). I let myself use whatever pens I have lying around (nothing special). And I let myself use the messiest handwriting without any care. Using cheap supplies really helps get over the thought of “wasting” the good stuff.

Letting myself use ugly messy scrawly writing in cheap notebooks helped to clarify so many of the thoughts swirling in my head. I would write about the most mundane things that were on my mind, like if I was hungry, or what I planned to do that day, or what bothered me from the day before. Just the act of writing made me realize that I really am a creative and artistic and crafty person. These pages also are a place where I brainstorm and follow my ideas from one unrelated string to another. So many of my blog posts and project ideas get their start in those morning pages (even this one).

I’ve found that this is a habit that helps to calm me. Some days all I write is inspirational words to myself like: you can do this, keep going, just start, you’re making progress, stick with it. And it helps me to block out the noise of what’s going on out there in the world and really focus on my own motivation and ideas.

Do any of you keep morning pages? Or are you interested in giving it a try? Share in the comments!

Resource Round-Up: Building Habits

Resources for Building Habits -
photo via Death to Stock Photography

I’m a big fan of personal development. One of the key methods that helps me with improving myself is to build better habits. Habits will help you make healthy behaviors more automatic and cut down on having to make a decision about things.

Here are some awesome resources to help you on your habit journey.

  • Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives by Gretchen Rubin – I just borrowed this book from the library last week. It’s a brand spanking new book (only been out for two weeks at the time of this post). If you’ve been following Rubin’s work at all, you’ll know this is a worthwhile read.
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg – I’ve written about this book before.
  • A printable habit tracker.
  • Transform your Habits by James Clear – a blog post with some really good explanations about building habits.
  • 30 Days to a New Habit by Caylee Grey – Caylee rounds up a bunch more resources to help you develop habits. She even runs a Facebook accountability group for those of us who really want some support in habit-building.

Love Your Life: a book review

Love Your Life Book Review -
If you haven’t already noticed, I’m a bit of a personal development junkie. I’m very interested in reading nonfiction books and resources that claim to improve my life somehow. Love Your Life by Domonique Bertolucci is a book that aims to uplift you and gives action items to improve your life.

How this Book is Organized

1. The left page of each spread contains a quote.
2. The right page of each spread is a related tip.
3. Topics appear in no particular order, but covers: goal-setting, fitness, gratitude, relationships, dreaming, and values.

Love Your Life Book Review -

Overall Impression
This was a quick read and reinforces many principles in other goal-setting and personal development resources. It’s concise in giving key recommendations.

Love Your Life Book Review -

Useful For
This book is useful for those of you who need quick reminders and motivators for self-improvement. Also great for people who love motivational quotes. I jotted down tons of them to work into my Friday quotes series.

Amazon links are affiliate.

Understand How Habits Are Built

Book Review: The Power of Habit -

If you haven’t already noticed, I’m a bit of a personal development junkie. I’m very interested in reading nonfiction books and resources that claim to improve my life somehow. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg is a book that explores the science behind habit-building.

How this Book is Organized
1. Habits of Individuals: This section provides examples of individuals and how their brains work to create habits.

2. Habits of Organizations: This section has more managerial advice than what you’d apply in your personal advice. However, if you’re a small business owner and trying to grow your audience, some of the stories in this section could apply to your situation.

3. Habits of Societies: The key example from this section was the Montgomery Bus Boycott in the United States in the 1960s and how peer pressure can influence society in a good way. This section could also be useful in marketing terms because it’ll give you an understanding of how ideas go viral and the importance of involving key influencers.

After telling you everything you should know about the science, the action items are hidden in the 12-page appendix. (If you read this book on an e-reader, be careful that the e-reader might direct you to a page of “similar books” before you hit the appendix) The appendix provides a four-step guide to implementing the principles presented in the text for creating and modifying habits that you can use in your life.

Overall Impression
I really enjoyed this one. I enjoyed learning about the science of why people and societies behave the way that they do.

Useful For
This book is useful for those of you who struggle to adopt new habits and are looking for strategies to change your habits for the better. This book is also useful for small business owners looking to increase sales and audience by understanding the habits of your target demographic.

Amazon links are affiliate.

Plan Your Learning Objectives Before Taking a Class

Plan Your Learning Objectives Before Taking a Class -

If you’re going to be attending conferences/workshops/classes, I recommend developing a short list of learning objectives and goals. Often, there’s so much information to digest that it can be overwhelming. By knowing what you’d like to get out of an educational experience before you start, you can focus your attention on the details that you need to know at the moment. There may be a wealth of other information offered, but it’s probably better to revisit those points later when you’re ready to act on it.

In a few weeks, April Bowles-Olin of Blacksburg Belle will be back on CreativeLive (my favorite online learning resource) to teach a course called Create Digital Products that Sell While You Sleep.

To prepare myself and get into the learning spirit, these are my personal learning objectives:

  1. Determine which types of digital products to make.
    • What is the intersection between what my audience wants and what I am qualified to produce?
  2. Select the most effective software for creative a product.
    • Word or InDesign?
    • Photoshop or Illustrator?
  3. Plan out a launch strategy for a digital product, both before and after the product is available.
    • How do you continue to promote without sounding spammy?
    • Are affiliates the best method?
  4. Determine a profitable pricing strategy.
    • Single Offer vs Multiple Packages?
  5. Select the most effective sales platform.
    • There are so many to choose from, with such a variety of fee structures; it can be tough to make a decision!

I’m hoping that April’s course will help to clarify these issues for me. Can’t wait to find out what she has to teach us!

Are you ready to make your creative work more lucrative, stable, and sustainable in the long-term? Join April Bowles-Olin for an introduction to digital products and how they can enhance your creative business. This course will show you how to produce and position viable products for generating multiple revenue streams and passive income. RSVP right here to watch it live and get access to the workbook for FREE. This post is part of the Create Digital Products blog tour.

Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Nonfiction Books

Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Nonfiction Books -

I’m constantly reading. I always have a stack of books checked out from the library and a stack of digital library books loaded on the Kindle Reading App on my iPad. But when you read as much or as quickly as I do, you need some methods to actually remember the good stuff.

Here are some tips for things you could do to get the most out of what you’re reading.

1. Take notes. The mere act of writing and jotting down key points can help you remember more of what you read, even if you never go back to re-read your notes.

Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Nonfiction Books -

2. Flag in a physical book (or highlight in an ebook). Especially pages that have action items or writing prompts that you haven’t completed yet.

Strategies for Getting the Most Out of Nonfiction Books -

3. Follow up on other books that the authors reference. These additional references will strengthen your web of understanding on that topic.

4. Visit the author’s website for the book. Often, there will be extended resource guides or printable worksheets for you to download.

5. Follow the author’s blog or social media accounts. Following him/her on social media gives you inside scoop on anything else they might be working on.

And finally: 6. If the book is dragging and you’re not enjoying the reading process, stop reading or switch to skim mode. Seriously, life is too short to slog your way through a book that you’re not enjoying, or that you aren’t getting much from. If it’s not for work or school, you don’t have to finish it.

Do you have any tips and tricks for reading (and retaining) non-fiction material?

Books shown:
Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon
Show Your Work! by Austin Kleon
StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
So Good They Can’t Ignore You by Cal Newport
The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
Go Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham

Amazon links are affiliate.

Five Podcasts to Inspire You

Awesome Podcasts to Inspire You -
Do you ever wonder what to do during your boring commute to work? I have a 40 minute drive to work each way, and I always wondered what I could do to fill the time more productively. (While still being an alert and aware driver… don’t text and drive, guys) I recently began filling my time by listening to podcasts. My car has a handy auxillary input port, and I bought myself a cable that I could plug into my iPhone. These are my top five picks that I think you should try.

1. Elise Gets Crafty

This was my gateway podcast. I had never even opened the podcast app on my phone (and I’ve had an iDevice since 2009) until Elise Blaha Cripe launched her podcast in March 2014. She’s willing to be open about her experiences as a maker and how she’s grown over the years.

My Favorite Episodes:
small-business discussion: let’s talk money | featuring Ann-Marie Espinoza
keeping it real | featuring Cathy Zielske
saying NO to say YES | featuring Tiffany Han

Awesome Podcasts to Inspire You -

2. Seanwes

Business advice galore from Sean McCabe. Seriously, listening to his marketing strategy and his conviction to his values is so awesome. What started off as a way to share the process behind being a hand-lettering artist has evolved into business advice that is applicable to any business.

My Favorite Episodes:
Spouse Episode: The No-Debt Mentality
How Learn Lettering Made $80,000 in 24 hours
You Have One Life. Set Bigger Goals

3. Explore Your Enthusiasm with Tara Swiger

Tara is another person who provides valuable insights for makers, especially those who want to market their business.

My Favorite Episodes:
Be yourself
An Introvert’s Guide to Travel
How to Pick Your Goal

4. Verbal to Visual

This one is relataively new. Doug Neill shares about developing sketch noting skills. Half the episodes are about skill building and the other half are interviews with people who embrace visual thinking.

My Favorite Episodes:
The Research-Based Benefits of Writing by Hand
Curt Neill: How a Tumblr Blog Became a Published Book
Sacha Chua: Adventures in Sketchnoting and Semi-Retirement

5. The Lively Show

Jess Lively interviews guests who aim to live their lives with intention. The guests skew more towards bloggers, but it’s interesting to hear about people’s stuggles to become the kind of the persons they want to be.

My Favorite Episodes:
Embracing Minimalism with Dana Shultz (The Minimalist Baker)
Intentions, Values, and Meaning with Noah Kagan
Wardrobe Remixing and Closing a Business with Kendi Skeen (Kendi Everyday)

What Podcasts have you been listening to lately? Any other awesome ones I should try? Leave a comment below to share!

Who’s Olive?

Hi, I'm Olivia, aka Olive. I've been an avid reader of blogs for years and decided that it was finally time to start producing instead of just merely consuming.

I'm one of those people who always insisted that I was boring. Nothing exciting or glamorous. But you know what? I realized that I don't have to be glamorous to share the bright and colorful spots in my every day life.

Where to Find Me


Click to Shop

Affiliate Products

Life Is Messy Bootcamp

Pin It on Pinterest