{Strategy} | Using S.M.A.R.T. Goals to Kick That Workload in the Butt!

Would you like to get more accomplished in your day and feel more in control of your success? Would you like to be able to look back on your day and say, “You know, the stuff I hate doing didn’t seem all that bad” and “I actually have a record of what I accomplished today, and it feels great!”? Do you marvel at the gurus, CEOs, and chic, sexy moms who seem to “have it all together”? This article talks about one research-backed tool you can start using immediately to achieve all of the above.

The tool? It’s something very simple and structured called S.M.A.R.T. Goals.

S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym used to describe the key elements you need to keep in mind when you are setting new goals for yourself. The act of writing goals in a S.M.A.R.T. manner effectively puts you in the driver’s seat for achieving your own success. (More about how to define success for yourself here.)

Here are the terms that the acronym stands for:

  • Specific: State exactly what you want to accomplish (who, what, where, why).
  • Measurable: What is the bare minimum (define it in metrics such as “how many pages you will have read” or “how many problems will I need to have attempted”) you need to do for this task to allow you to feel like you’ve accomplished what needs to be done?
  • Attainable: Make sure that the goals you set are within your control to achieve and reasonable for your current level of ability. They can be challenging, but they need to be realistic or you will get overwhelmed and defeated and will quit prematurely. Make sure your SMART goal is worded in such a way that it requires an action-oriented verb!
  • Relevant: How does the goal tie into your key responsibilities? How is it aligned to objectives?
  • Time-bound: Set 1 or more target dates, the “by when” to guide your goal to successful and timely completion (include deadlines, dates, and frequency).

Sound abstract enough? Let’s try to make this concrete so you can figure out how to use it for yourself:

Example 1: You are a high school student juggling 8 classes, 2-3 extracurricular activities, and college applications. Plus you’re tired all the time and you’d like to make sure you have time to hang out with friends on Saturdays. What do you do?

First, start by thinking about the big picture: Why am I doing all of these things? What do I want to accomplish by being in all of these clubs and choosing these electives? What do I intend to do at college, and how do I set myself up for future success there?

  • Sleep: Larger goal: feel better during Fall season and have enough energy to tackle my classes.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: Set an alarm for 10:30 pm to remind you to get ready for bed.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: Set an alarm for 11 pm to remind you to stop what you’re doing and get into bed.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: Set an alarm for 7 am wakeup time and get out of the bed by 7:10 am tomorrow morning.
  • Algebra 1 HW: Larger goal: Get all 20 WebAssign homework problems submitted correctly by 11:59 pm tomorrow night.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: Review the class notes for the next 15 minutes to refresh memory about what happened in class today and last Friday.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: For the next 20 minutes, attempt problems #1-3.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: I got confused. For the next 20 minutes, find and watch 2 Khan Academy videos or Purple Math tutorials to address the concepts.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: For the next hour, attempt problems #4-8.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #5: Take a break from the math by either walking around/stretching, catching up on text messages, or getting a healthy snack (~15 min). Or, proceed to one of your other class’s reading assignment to add some variety to the monotony of mathematics.
    • Continue setting S.M.A.R.T. goals until you have attempted, completed, and submitted all 20 problems.
  • U.S. History AP HW: Larger goal: Complete the history reading and required outline of the reading by tomorrow.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: Take 10 minutes to skim the topic headings, introduction, conclusion, and supplemental problems for the reading. I don’t have to get everything just yet, just get an idea of what will be covered.
    •  S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: Take 30 minutes to read each section. Stop at the end of each page to summarize using my own modified Cornell notes style (more on this here).
    •  S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: Take 15 minutes to review the Cornell notes I just made and develop an overarching argument or thesis for the paper.
  • Speech Class HW: Larger goal: Develop a speech (10 min) with corresponding slides by this Friday class period. Subject: Interpersonal Communication.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: In 10 minutes, open and start creating a PowerPoint presentation. Save it as “Comm110_Pres1.”
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: In 10 minutes, identify 20 sources of good information that have to do with interpersonal communication research and tips.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: For the next 45 minutes, pore over the 20 sources of information you found and outline notes that will serve as the content of your speech.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: 
  • General Chemistry HW: Larger goal: Prepare for the quiz this Thursday.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: 15 min: Review the major topics and the introduction, conclusion, and learning objectives for the assigned reading.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: 45 min: Attempt HW problems #1-5 to get ready for recitation on Wednesday.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: 20 min: Check the odd HW problems (#3, 5) in the back of the book and read the solutions. Correct anything that went wrong and reference the reading to resolve those issues.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: 5 min: Jot down any lingering questions to ask at office hour tomorrow.
  • College Apps: Complete all 6 applications with teacher recommendation letters and essays by the November 1 deadline.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: 10 min: Create a College Board account.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: 1 hour: Use the College Board school search account to identify the top 20 schools I think are interesting and have my major.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: 1 hour each day for 2 days (total time to be spent: 2 hr): Of this list, research a little deeper to see which ones have the courses I like the best or the clubs, mascot or activities I like best. Which ones support the SAT scores I received last time? Finalize the list to 5 schools I actually will apply to.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: I’ve heard the word “FAFSA” being thrown around by my counselor at school. 15 min: Research “FAFSA” and find out what that means.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #5: 10 min: Ask parents about the finances and what we can afford.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #6: 1 hour: Ask parents to look into FAFSA using our estimated financial information from the previous 2 years of tax data.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #7: 1 hour: Read through the admissions essay prompts for the 5 schools. Identify a common thread among the essay prompts to streamline my writing process.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #8: 1 hour: Outline a general essay (the topic I think suits me best and the main points of the following 4-5 parapgraphs to support my story) for the admissions applications to my schools. 
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #… (create more S.M.A.R.T. goals until you have successfully submitted all 5 admissions applications and essays).
  • Do this for the rest of your 8 classes. Think about how you might take these specific examples and generalize them to other types of classes you might be taking. Note:  Sometimes you may have to add or tweak your S.M.A.R.T. goals along the way to accommodate extra bumps in the road you weren’t originally expecting. 

Example 2: You are a college student juggling 2 clubs, Rush Week, and 18 credit hours. Plus it would be really nice if you could get 7-8 hours of sleep a night and get your laundry done so it doesn’t keep piling up! What do you do?

First, start by thinking about the big picture: Why am I a part of these two clubs? How do they serve me and add value to my life? What are the pros and cons of joining this sorority? Do I feel comfortable around these people? Do I believe that being around these people and this organization will support me and uplift me to achieve my future career and lifestyle goals? What constraints do I have regarding when the dining courts are open, when I can do laundry, and perhaps something like insomnia or seasonal affectivity disorder to deal with?


Once you’ve made your vision clear, break the obligations up into large goals and S.M.A.R.T. goals (objectives) that fit under each larger goal.


Like this!

  • Calculus 1 HW: Larger goal: Get all 20 WebAssign homework problems submitted correctly by 11:59 pm tomorrow night.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: Review the class notes for the next 15 minutes to refresh memory about what happened in class today and last Friday.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: For the next 20 minutes, attempt problems #1-3.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: I got confused. For the next 20 minutes, find and watch 2 Khan Academy videos or Purple Math tutorials to address the concepts.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: For the next hour, attempt problems #4-8.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #5: Take a break from the math by either walking around/stretching, catching up on text messages, or getting a healthy snack (~15 min). Or, proceed to one of your other class’s reading assignment to add some variety to the monotony of mathematics.
    • Continue setting S.M.A.R.T. goals until you have attempted, completed, and submitted all 20 problems.
  • American History HW: Larger goal: Complete the history reading and 10-page essay before next Friday class.
    •  S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: Take 10 minutes to skim the topic headings, introduction, conclusion, and supplemental problems for the reading. I don’t have to get everything just yet, just get an idea of what will be covered.
    •  S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: Take 30 minutes to read each section. Stop at the end of each page to summarize using my own modified Cornell notes style (more on this here).
    •  S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: Take 15 minutes to review the Cornell notes I just made and develop an overarching argument or thesis for the paper.
    •  S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: Take 20 minutes to make a new file in Docs and save it as “[insert_date_here]_[insert topic here]_draft.” Outline the title, sections, and purpose of the essay during this time.
    •  S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: Stretch break (~15 min) or move on to something else on my list of  S.M.A.R.T. goals.
    •  S.M.A.R.T. goal #5: Write 2 paragraphs of the essay (pick two of the sections and just put something down, remembering to cite facts and their sources in parentheses).
    •  S.M.A.R.T. goal #6, etc.: …. {Break down the paper into several sets of paragraphs and what topics might be included in them following your outline. Do this until the paper is to your liking and you’re ready to submit. With this method, since you have a few days to write the paper, slice it up over the next week so all you’re doing is editing the final draft the night before.}
  • Speech Class HW: Larger goal: Develop a speech (10 min) with corresponding slides by this Friday class period. Subject: Interpersonal Communication.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: In 10 minutes, open and start creating a PowerPoint presentation. Save it as “Comm110_Pres1.”
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: In 10 minutes, identify 20 sources of good information that have to do with interpersonal communication research and tips.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: For the next 45 minutes, pore over the 20 sources of information you found and outline notes that will serve as the content of your speech.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: 
  • General Chemistry HW: Larger goal #1: Prepare for this week’s lab.
  • General Chemistry HW: Larger goal #2: Submit lab online training. 
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: Spend 1 hour on this online module. Work as quickly yet thoroughly as possible, perhaps jotting notes to make sure I remember for the quick quiz at the end of the training.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: 15 min: Take the quiz.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: 2 min: Print the pass certificate for completing the module.
  • General Chemistry HW: Larger goal #3: Prepare for the quiz this Thursday.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: 15 min: Review the major topics and the introduction, conclusion, and learning objectives for the assigned reading.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: 45 min: Attempt HW problems #1-5 to get ready for recitation on Wednesday.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: 20 min: Check the odd HW problems (#3, 5) in the back of the book and read the solutions. Correct anything that went wrong and reference the reading to resolve those issues.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: 5 min: Jot down any lingering questions to ask at office hour tomorrow.
  • Engineering 131 HW: 
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: 20 min: Attempt question 1 in the problem set. Review any notes and readings associated with this problem.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: 20 min: Google any issues to troubleshoot question 1.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: 5 min: write down any lingering questions to ask in office hours Wednesday.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: 20 min: Attempt question 2 in the problem set. Review…. (see above).
    • And so on…
  • Rush: Attend 3 open houses and participate in at least one additional Rush week event for each of those three different sororities.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: Identify the 3 sororities whose values and community service events I gel with most by Monday, the first day of Rush Week (look this up online).
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: Meet 6 sisters from each sorority by the end of the three open houses.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: Follow up with at least 2 of the sisters from each of the sororities I visited – write thank-you notes and send to the houses.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: Plan out 3 hours within the week to go to three 1-hour Rush events with the three sororities by Tuesday at 7 pm of Rush Week. Review your class schedule to make sure you don’t miss class or any WebAssign or Blackboard deadlines!
  • Sleep: Larger goal: feel better during Fall season and have enough energy to tackle my classes.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: Set an alarm for 10:30 pm to remind you to get ready for bed.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: Set an alarm for 11 pm to remind you to stop what you’re doing and get into bed.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: Set an alarm for 7 am wakeup time. Turn on the Sun-mimicking light at this time.
    • S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: Set alarm for 7:10 am to turn off the Sun-mimicking light and get on with getting ready for the day.
  • Note:  Sometimes you may have to add or tweak your S.M.A.R.T. goals along the way to accommodate extra bumps in the road you weren’t originally expecting. 

Example 3: You are unemployed and undertaking a job search, and it’s seriously stressing you out! You don’t have any leads and you’d like to feel like you have some control over the situation. Your savings will run out in 3 months, so you need to be taking action now. What do you do?


First, remind yourself why you’re doing the job search. Is your primary goal to find any kind of work? Contractor work? Temp or seasonal work? Low-skill labor that you prefer to keep that way? Or maybe something you can build into a professional career moving forward? Is your biggest priority just making money? What is the easiest path you could take to achieve that vision?


Once you’ve narrowed that down and defined your vision clearly, try the following steps:

  • S.M.A.R.T. goal #1: 15 minutes. Hone in on the kind of work you would like to do and/or are qualified to do. Define a career objective (profession or job title). You will post this across your various online job search profiles in just a minute.
  • S.M.A.R.T. goal #2: 30 minutes. Set up each of the following job search profiles and confirm your personal information and email addresses:
    • Monster
    • LinkedIn
    • ZipRecruiter
    • Indeed
    • AdministrativeJobs.com
  • S.M.A.R.T. goal #3: 10 minutes. Proliferate the desired job title across the five profiles you just made so that it’s obvious to potential employers what kind of work you are meant to do.
  • S.M.A.R.T. goal #4: 30 minutes. Tool around on the job search Web sites you made account for just now. Review job descriptions for example “dream job” listings you find. Seek out the types of skills or training certifications you are missing from your repertoire in order to successfully get an interview by potential recruiters. List this out on notebook paper. Include any relevant buzzwords like “Agile,” “Angular,” “Hadoop,” “10-key,” “customer service,” “FIERCE conversations training,” “MBA,” etc.
  • S.M.A.R.T. goal #5: 30 minutes. Google out all of the keywords you just wrote down under goal #4 above. Find out where and how you will be able to bridge the gaps you recognized above.
  • S.M.A.R.T. goal #6:60 minutes. Make a plan for how you intend to schedule in time and tackle the new skills you need to learn using the resources you found in goal #5.
  • S.M.A.R.T. goal #7: 60 minutes. Search the desired job title across the job search Web sites and write down the listings that look most interesting (these will be the ones you apply for first). Speed is key with job applications, so find listings that were put up a couple days to a couple weeks ago and apply to them within the next week at the latest.
  • S.M.A.R.T. goal #8: 45 minutes. Freshen up your resume, or look for tutorials to make a new one. More resources for this listed here (coming soon).
  • Note that you should probably split up these goals across multiple days so that each of your applications goes in sounding professional, not sloppy or canned, concise, and fresh.
  • S.M.A.R.T. goal #9: 60 minutes per day, 3-5 days per week (total 180-300 min per week). Apply for 1-3 jobs each day until you start hearing back from recruiters. Keeping a small number to complete each day gives you constant progress without it becoming overwhelming. You’re chipping away at an iceberg, and that is slow progress.

Let me know how this technique worked for you by leaving a comment below! Did you find the examples helpful in figuring out how this technique actually works?

–Roz

 

Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.

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{Stop Harassment – & Save Yourself Some Heartache!} | How to Write a Convincing Cease & Desist Letter

In case you needed a reminder: you don’t owe anyone anything. You are your own boss. And that means that you are the boss of everything in your own life – your body, your opinions, your means of expression, your interpretations of events, how you learn, what you want and refuse to do (sexually, physically, or otherwise). You control you. And no man (or woman) should ever be permitted to control you.

As Eleanor Roosevelt, First Lady during the Great Depression, once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” That includes instances you may find harassing.

In this blog post I recount my personal, most recent experience with harassment (so you get an idea of what harassment may look like) and how I dealt with it #likeafemmeboss. Because my views are my views, and no one else’s. And I deserve to feel safe in my own home. You should too. I also outline the process of creating a Cease & Desist letter that should be robust enough to hold up in court. Disclaimer: Oftentimes the event of receiving an official-sounding Cease & Desist letter is enough deterrent to get someone to stop the harassing behavior. This article does NOT in any way substitute for professional legal advice, however. Please consult a lawyer if you would like to make sure this document can substantiate as evidence in court.

I met my next-door neighbor a couple months after I moved in. We seemed to have an amicable relationship at first. Since we both were undergoing career changes that required brushing up on new skills, I invited him over once for a group study session. After that, he continued texting me, but I had terminated my job and was making the transition (and wanted to be by myself to process all of it). So I ghosted him. He wasn’t my highest priority (whoa, shocker!) so I just didn’t give him more of my precious time and energy. And apparently that did him in.

He approached me about a week later telling me directly that he was “you know, kinda mad that [I] never texted [him] back.” I told him, sorry, it was nothing personal, and went on with my day. A few days later he texted me saying that he wanted to “kick my dumb Amazon mail,” which I took to mean that he was still angry and wanted to harm my personal property. So I texted him the following:

“This is on the verge of harassment. Do not text me again.”

Nevertheless, the a$$hole couldn’t take a hint, so three days ago he approached me again while I was out in the parking lot cleaning out my car. “I got your text. I didn’t really understand what you meant,” he said. “I think you were overreacting – I mean it was just a joke.”

By this point I was fuming. “You, know,” I said, “if you’ve never experienced harassment, you don’t really know what it feels like….” I didn’t get to finish my thought because he waved me off and just walked away before I could even explain my point of view about how things had transpired. I yelled “F*ck off” and then decided to research how to write the Cease & Desist letter. No one gets to tell me how to think or that my point of view is “overreacting,” stupid, or invalid.

Having experienced the following issues before (see below), and just rolling over and taking them, I finally decided enough was enough:

  • Sophomore year of college: sexual harassment by – not one – but two(!?) of the Organic Chemistry TA’s (not like that class isn’t already hard enough without having to walk on eggshells all year with superiors too! → Learn more about how to deal with sexual harassment MUCH more proactively here (coming soon). I want to save you as much grief as possible.)
  • Sophomore year of college: sexual assault by a guy I was dating
  • Junior year of college: a stalker I met in my chemistry class
  • Junior year of college: a persistent and very large man who kept trying to ask me out everytime I went to the library at night
  • First year of graduate school: gender discrimination by my professor of research because I couldn’t possibly already know what I was doing because I have blond hair and wear lipstick to the lab. He gave the male colleague in my year a project for which he had control and access to all of the instrumentation required, while I had to scurry and hunt and beg and peck my way to get access to my required tools (a female upperclassmen in his research group corroborated my experience with her own impression that the women in the group are required to “prove themselves” while the men are already assumed to be competent coming into the group)
  • Second year of graduate school: “date” rape by a classmate – we were studying data science at night and he decided I needed to have sex (f*ck that guy! – I still have to deal with flashbacks because of him!)

SERIOUSLY, I AM SO TIRED OF THIS SH*T.

So, here are the steps I used to deal constructively with this situation:

  • Recall the instances where the harassing behavior occurred. Document the date, approximate time, location, and description of what occurred for each instance. This allows you to have an informal record of what you might choose to write in your Cease & Desist letter, and it at least gives you the peace of mind that you know what to tell a policeman or a lawyer or mediator, should this escalate.
  • Go to Rocket Lawyer → type Cease & Desist letter → choose “harassment” as the reason for your letter.
  • Scroll down to the letter and look over the format. What does it already have to say in this format?
  • Customize, explaining your grievances and what you would like the harasser to do instead (like, for example, leave you alone).
  • Be sure to indicate a time limit by which you expect the harassing behavior to end. Specifying this formally ensures you’ve covered loose ends associated with telling someone to stop (you’ve made it very clear, even for the biggest idiot).
  • Go to the USPS near you and send your letter to the harassing person via Certified Mail with Tracking. You can get a tracking number associated with this as a legally-supported official record that you have indeed served this Cease & Desist directive to the harassing person. If they decline to sign for the document at the door, you also have a record that they rejected signing for the letter.
  • In the meantime, keep locking your car and apartment, being prudent to keep yourself safe. You should probably also keep some mace with you on your keys in the event that someone should try to inflict physical harm on you. Try to avoid engaging with the harasser again.
  • Seek out validation and support from your friends and/or family.

Please speak up in the comments section below if you found any of this information helpful. I hope I can save you some of the pain I’ve had to endure as a result of the idiot men who have simply assumed that I could not possibly “not like or be asking for” their advances.

–Roz

 

Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.

{Strategy} | Organizational Systems

Hi, Dolls!

Do you feel like you are chronically stressed and rushing around trying to get to your various obligations on time? The hustle and bustle is very American, and it’s very familiar to me. In this article I’d like to show you how you can alleviate stress by simplifying your morning and evening routines and your work life using some organizational systems.

I subscribe to the idea of domestic minimalism – that is, what is the bare minimum number of discrete items that I need to feel healthy, happy, and comfortable in my home? I eliminate anything that doesn’t spark joy and/or serve an integral purpose (such as preparing healthy, tasty food) that would also spark joy! I also subscribe to the ideals of efficiency, strategy, and focus. The fewer times I have to traipse from one end of my studio to the other to get everything together for the day, the more time I save, and the less frazzled I feel! Work winds up seeming more fun. These tips are ones I’ve tried and anecdotally proved to work for lowered stress and anxiety in home and work life:


1.  Your kitchen. If you’re really career-minded like me, the kitchen may be the last place you want to spend your time, so it’s important to minimize the amount of clutter your kitchen contains. You can do this with the following methods:

    • Schedule a 10-minute date each 1-2 weeks with your dear fridge. Review the status of your pantry. During this time you open your fridge and pantry and check for any expired things or things you just are sure you’re not going to eat any more of. Sometimes you can get a little overly ambitious about the kinds of health foods you want to try or a new recipe you made but didn’t turn out right. You may have recently gotten on a lettuce kick, so you stocked up on hearts of romaine, but now that those uneaten hearts are just starting to show signs of browning, you are overwhelmed by the task of eating them all up. You know that lettuce starts to get slimy when it turns brown, making it very unpleasant to eat. So you just keep letting it sit there, turning browner and slimier by the day. At this point, it’s best to cut your losses – throw away the food you can’t possibly get to and just chalk it up as a learning experience. You will resolve not to overbuy that food next time.
    • Organize and simplify your spice rack. Most seasoned dishes only require 2-3 different spices, allowing you to maintain a kitchen that has about 10-20 common pure spices or herbs on hand. Make a collection of the spices you use most regularly with the kinds of food you already enjoy eating, and throw out the rest. If you’re starting your very first spice collection (like, you’re just getting your first apartment), buy the 10-20 spices you think you’ll use most ahead of time so that when you grocery shop for food for the week you never have to think about which spices are actually required for the recipes you want to use that week – they are already just there for you when you get back to cook. Avoid mixtures of spices such as “Italian blend” because having the pure herbs and spices blended for you ahead of time limits your flexibility with those spices when you’re actually cooking. Here are the spices I keep on hand at all times in my kitchen (meant as a guide – tweak this in keeping with your own cuisine):
      • oregano
      • basil
      • cilantro
      • garlic salt
      • chili
      • cumin
      • clove
      • cinnamon
      • allspice
      • no-chick’n bouillon cubes
      • sea salt
      • black pepper
      • turmeric
      • Garam Masala
      • Madras curry
      • MSG
      • paprika
      • cayenne
      • poppyseed
      • chia
      • flax
      • vanilla extract
    • Get creative with Ball jars. I got a 12-pack of Ball jars to store my coffee and other air-sensitive foodstuffs about 2 years ago, and I’ve been loving them ever since! You can store shredded lettuce from the head for longer without it going brown or limp by storing it in a sealed jar. The rubber seals and the glass materials are chemically inert (trust me, I’m a chemist! 😉 ) so they are not only healthy/safe alternatives to plastic storage; they also never stain and don’t alter the flavor of the food you’re storing in them! They’re super-versatile – I’ll finish up storing lettuce for the next 2 days in a Ball jar and then immediately wash the jar in the dishwasher and use it to cart around my morning Fab Four smoothie (see my article about the Fab Four smoothie here) the next morning! I really love the versatility of these jars. Here are some awesome ways to use that next 12-pack you buy:
      • coffee
      • flax seed
      • flour
      • grains
      • beans
      • rice
      • broth stock powder
      • lettuce
      • chopped veggies
      • leftovers
      • water
      • extra utensils – set one in your cabinet or next to your stove to display your kitchen utensils or cutlery
      • spa water (flavored drinks)
      • use the leftover jars for drinking glasses!
    • Plan when it makes the most sense to do your dishes. I usually load the dishwasher at night before going to bed and unload it when I make dinner after work the next night. It allows me to feel like I always have dishes, and I don’t have to listen to the racket of the dishwasher because I’m sleeping during that time. If you don’t have a dishwasher, you may want to choose the time when you’re winding down from the day to wash your dishes so that you don’t have to wake up to a dirty, stacked sink and an overwhelming day.
    • Think about how many dishes, pots, pans, silverware, and glasses you actually need.
      • For instance, I’m a single person who usually invites over 1-3 people a couple times a month. I figured two plates were essential for my own sanity, so I bought four plates for the benefit of hosting friends at my place. I have four mugs for the same reason and sets of four of everything else as well: four cloth napkins, four forks, four knives, four spoons, and four glasses. The only caveat is that I purchased 8 stainless steel straws (since they came in an 8-pack and I use them multiple times everyday).
      • I really like feeling ritzy even though I do function on a $40k-a-year budget, so I only bought four drinking glasses in total – they are four 10-oz. glass goblets, which I feel adequately serves all my needs – I feel just as elegant drinking water from these glasses as I do a jack-and-coke, orange juice, a homemade vegan milkshake or smoothie, iced tea or coffee, a moscow mule, or a glass of wine. Best of all, they only cost me ~$2 a piece at IKEA.
      • Pots and pans? I have one medium saucepan, one stock pot with lid, one large frying pan, one casserole dish, one 9″ spring form pan for baking, one colander, and one 2-liter crock pot (a gift from my mom). I find that I can cook just about everything using this skeleton of essentials.
      • Spatulas and other cookware essentials? I have one wooden spatula/spoon, one plastic spatula/spoon (especially good for cooking rice or spreading icing on a cake), one stainless steel spatula, one potato peeler, one steak knife, one large cutting board, one small cutting board, one large paring knife, one can opener, one stainless steel ladle, one Scripto, one pair of scissors, one set of stainless steel tongs, and one bottle opener with corkscrew. I also have one of those foam pads for opening really difficult pickle jars! They all fit really nicely along with my cutlery and stainless steel straws (without separators!) in one drawer between my sink and stove.
    • Plan the one time each week you should go shopping for groceries. Get all of your fresh produce and restock staples in just one trip! You can ensure you actually accomplish this by (1) making a list before you go and (2) by not shopping when hungry. Also set a budget for how much you’d like to spend per person per week! I’ve managed to get my costs for food down to ~$35 per week, which allows me to eat interesting and whole, healthy foods without much waste. If you have a goal number of $$ you’d like to spend on groceries, you’re much less likely to succumb to impulse buys (remember in the moment what your goals regarding financial security as a Femme Boss are!).
    • Plan one time each week to wipe down surfaces so that they don’t become awful to clean later. Quick wipe downs in the age of Clorox disposable wipes take less than 3 minutes and leave you feeling refreshed and in control of your exquisite (though however inexpensive!) rental space! It doesn’t really matter what side of town you live in if you come home everyday to an organized, clean, tidy, comfy paradise).
    • Remove dishes from the dish rack, and keep counters clean. Same reason as directly above.
    • Don’t forget to utilize the under-oven storage drawer to keep all of your pots and pans handy.

2. Your bathroom. The efficiency of the bathroom is essential to your sense of calm “steaze” (“style” + “ease”) as you prepare for the workday or wind down from a stressful day at the office. Here are the ways I’ve streamlined and optimized my bathroom efficiency through organized systems:

    • Cramped for storage space? Think about re-purposing an over-the-door canvas shoe rack for extra bathroom supplies – the things you use everyday but don’t want cluttering your counter space. I figured this out when I realized that the cabinetry in my apartment really was not planned efficiently for major storage. I had a shoe rack lying around, so I figured, what the heck? I’ll give it a try! It has worked swimmingly and seriously streamlines my movement at the sink area. Examples of what you might put in one of these racks:
      • curling wand
      • straightener
      • hairdryer
      • hairbrush
      • styling products
      • exfoliant/facial washes
      • makeup palettes
      • makeup brushes
      • hair accessories
      • perfumes
      • medicine bottles
      • feminine hygiene products
      • slippers
      • hosiery
      • manicure kit/nail polishes
      • makeup removers
      • extra single-roll toilet paper rolls
      • lotion
      • scissors
      • extra razors
      • eyelash curler
      • belts
      • glasses and accessories for glasses like cleaner, microfiber cloths, and cases
      • sexual hygiene or sex toys
    • Have any of those Ball jars left over? You can store any of the following in them:
      • mouthwash
      • soap
      • shampoo
      • homemade deodorant
      • homemade toothpaste
      • homemade exfoliator
      • homemade makeup remover
      • aromatherapy-infused oils for facials and oil cleansing
      • Epsom salts

3.  Your closet. I personally prefer the lifestyle choice of buying many fewer clothing items (some would call it a minimalist or capsule wardrobe) and paying for the highest quality for each of those few items. Unlike the American fascinations with materialism and fast-fashion, I prefer this old-school European approach. Over the years I’ve figured out what looks good and feels great on my body, so I’ve limited my wardrobe to those things. I like to feel like a young off-duty model sophisticate, so I pick neutral, solid colors rather than trendy patterns. I also tend to focus on silhouettes rather than styles. Texture and lines are everything when you want to be able to mix and match your pieces to create more outfits. Everything in my wardrobe is interchangeable depending on the occasion and how I’m feeling that day. Here are the only items I keep in my closet:

    • 1 tailor-made cashmere wool coat (fall/winter/spring)
    • 1 compact-packing down coat (fall/spring)
    • 2 beanies – one maroon, the other dark grey heather
    • 1 pair black leather gloves (so warm!)
    • 1 oversized mustard-colored scarf
    • 1 grey cashmere scarf
    • 1 grey-black mottled heather scarf
    • 1 college band jacket (gotta represent!)
    • 1 brown-grey-blue checkered (plaid?) boyfriend-style button-down (got this from my dad!)
    • 7 t-shirts (in grey, navy, black, and white)
    • 1 black chiffon crop top cami
    • 3 pairs of skinny jeans – some with distresssing, others plain (so I can wear them on “casual Friday” at work)
    • 1 pair of black skinny jeans
    • 6 pairs of slacks – in grey, eggplant-grey, brown, black, and black with red pinstripe
    • 3 button-down shirts
    • 2 dusters – one in brown, one in charcoal grey
    • 1 khaki shrug
    • 1 fitted, structured charcoal grey jacket (made of super-soft sweatshirt material)
    • 2 business casual jackets (3/4-sleeve styling, one in ecru, the other in black)
    • 1 sweatshirt (maroon/dark orchid)
    • 1 mustard cardigan
    • 1 plaid wool Japanese skirt
    • 3 pairs of opaque black stockings
    • 5 pairs of denim shorts – including 1 pair of white frayed-edge shorts
    • 2 pairs of leggings for workouts
    • 5 pairs of Soffe shorts (I love the way these make my boo-tay look! grey, black, and white only)
    • 4 workout tops (since I workout almost every day)
    • 1 pair pulled leather cognac-colored Keds
    • 1 pair Frye all-leather suede over-the-knee boots
    • 1 pair Frye Tate Chelsea boots
    • 1 pair Bearpaw chocolate brown suede boots
    • my undies and bras
    • 2 pairs of pajama pants
    • 2 pajama tops (that I can also wear as camis out)
    • 5 men’s boxers (I love the way these feel to lounge in, especially when I’m not feeling super well – ladies, you probably get what I mean…)
    • 1 fancy dress – pink, strapless, Betsey Johnson! (think Elle Woods from Legally Blonde!)
    • 1 long, sequined maxi skirt in rose gold (I pair this with the black crop top!)
    • 1 LBD (it’s vintage Betsey Johnson strapless!)
    • 3 purses
    • 1 briefcase
    • 1 Fjallraven Kanken backpack (it’s Swedish, hella stylish, climate-compensated, comfy, and totally worth the price!)

4.  Things you need to take with you everyday. I have a space next to the door where I always put my keys, wallet, phone, laundry account card, and chapstick every day. As soon as I walk in the door, they go on that ledge, and they stay there till I need to leave again. This saves you so much effort trying to track these down at the last minute, when you may already be stressed about the other requirements of your day ahead of you!

5.  Your desk. To avoid overwhelm, try to limit the number of things you keep on your desk at all times.

  • File away important papers (for tips on this process see this article) as soon as you receive them in the mail.
  • Eliminate junk mail and other paper excesses as soon as you recognize that those items are no longer relevant to you!
  • Go paperless for all of your online accounts, and create a folder in your Google Drive or other Cloud-storage system (Box, Dropbox, etc.) labeled “Finances” so that you can download your receipts, confirmations, payments, account information, and orders directly as PDF format and store them virtually! To dredge them up later (which you inevitably will have to do later), all you have to do is Control+F or Search the keyword in the name of the receipt/other paperwork!
  • Throw out any extra credit card offers or upgrade notices from the vendors you already used – I mean in the age of Google, if you had actually wanted any of these things you would have sought them out already!
  • Don’t even bother with coupons unless you find coupon-collecting to be seriously beneficial or rewarding to you. I can’t even remember the last time it actually made economical or pragmatic sense for me to use a coupon! They aren’t usually targeted to your needs and require you to shop at times you normally wouldn’t to redeem them. So in the end you actually wind up spending more money and generating more clutter than you otherwise would if you had just bought things for full price, when you actually needed them.
  • Keep all office supplies you use daily on the desk. Examples:
    • bullet journal
    • tape dispenser with tape
    • pencils, pens, highlighters
    • stapler with staples
    • binder clips, paperclips
    • glasses cleaner with cloth (for all of you glasses-wearers out there!)
    • SD cards or flash drives
    • chargers
    • an extra printer cartridge pack
    • external hard drives/back-up arrangements
    • any textbooks you literally use everyday
  • Shoot for ergonomic arrangements. Try not to have to strain any muscles – invest in an external monitor, a docking station, external keyboard, mouse with mousepad, wrist support rest, good office chair (medium-to-high-back, armless). You can find more information about ergonomic arrangements here.

Let me know in the comments section what you’ve tried and any other tips you might have about making efficient and organized home systems!

–Roz

 

Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.

{Strategy} | Study Skills Resources

So you’re looking at your high school or college textbook and thinking to yourself, “Oh my god, this is so overwhelming and pointless, how will I ever get this done?”

Well, I’ve got some research-proven strategies to show you today that can help you move through that homework or studying venture as quickly and as painlessly as possible!

Note: the chemistry of your brain follows the laws of nature – meaning that it takes effort and energy to get over the hump of going from not knowing something to knowing something! It is actually progress if you’re finding that halfway through the study session you find your brain tingling or feeling overloaded! At that point take a 5-10 minute break (No joke! Remember this is what education research shows works!) to walk around your desk and come back. Make yourself a drink or go to the bathroom. What’s happening is that you are inputting the energy it requires to channel new neural pathways. And boy does that take a lot of energy!

It’s also important to make sure you have access to a little bit of “brain food” – simple carbs like crackers, chips, cookies, nuts, or even fruit – to get that brain running quickly and efficiently! Your brain mainly runs on glucose. And stay hydrated! Studies show that drinking water can be not only act as a focusing habit as you work (since it’s a repetitive and relatively mindless activity) but it can also help your brain stay focused because it’s not hitting the panic button (“Ah! it’s so dry up here I feel like crap!”) every few minutes.

Metacognition is a helpful strategy you should use to create a framework for the things you are studying. Basically, the word metacognition means “thinking about thinking.” With metacognition, you figure out the following ideas:

  1. Why am I bothering to learn this?
  2. What are the most important ideas, facts, and skills that I need to draw out of the flood of materials being thrown at me in this class?
  3. What level of mastery do I desire for this class? In my future, will it be necessary for me actually to understand 90+% of this course? Or is it sufficient for me to just work for 70-80% of the material and give myself a bit of a break?
  4. How will I use this in my future career? If this is a science class and I intend to study fashion or social science, how can this knowledge apply to me broadly rather than narrowly?
  5. What kinds of practice problems can I find to experiment with the skills I’m learning in this class?
  6. Think about scenarios you can construct that allow you to “diagnose” or “solve” the situation using the concepts you’ve just learned.
  7. What kinds of mental pictures (or even physical artwork?) can I make to integrate this information into my brain right now? –Note that education research has determined that this is actually one of the most efficient and longest-lasting ways students can pocket new information!
  8. Can I describe the concept or method in my own words?
  9. Why does this work?
  10. Do I like this?
  11. How much of this (or what parts of this) do I actually need to read to feel like I’ve gotten 70-80% of the content?
  12. What positives can I pull out of this difficult or challenging concept?
  13. How do I feel while I am studying or reading about this concept? Do I feel sad? Overwhelmed? Anxious? Happy? Excited? Interested? Bored? Angry? What could be causing this emotional response?
    • If the emotion feels negative or uncomfortable, what can I do to modify my study pattern for this topic so that I can alleviate the stress or burden of undertaking this important challenge?
    • Am I using S.M.A.R.T. goals to tackle this uncomfortable homework/study assignment?
  14. Here are some other metacognition strategies you can use to get the most out of your immediate learning in lecture. –Education research has also shown that “just in time” active learning and immediate application/practice/explanation of concepts allows better and easier retention of the material! This is a second set of strategies that also promotes active learning (and better metacognition).
  15. These types of questions may sound like common sense, but nevertheless: Am I hungry? Am I tired? Am I thirsty? Have I gotten enough sleep recently? Taking care of your body (in which your mind is housed) is super-important to your sense of wellness, focus, and efficiency when you start to study.

Here are some other resources to help you channel your learning in keeping with how you work best. Most of these tests identify key aspects of your personality that help you stay focused more efficiently in various ways:

Here is some light reading you should really give a shot – focus on the toolkit entries below that correspond to what you found in the study habits test you took above!

The saying “two heads are better than one” is undoubtedly true. When you start a new semester of coursework, find yourself a few peers around you in the classroom who would be interested in meeting 1-3 times a week for a couple hours each time to study together. Find a group study space or an open table in an area of the library that permits talking. Review notes together, summarize the lectures and practice problems, and tackle hefty problems together. This process of groups coming together to work is called cooperative learning, and a ton of educational research also speaks to the strength of working in conjunction with others. Cooperative learning allows you to develop bigger and stronger mental maps, seeing how others solve problems and undertake large projects, and articulate the material with greater agility – just by working alongside others actively! You can read more about this strategy here.

–Roz

 

Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.

#Girlboss Review

#Girlboss is Sophia Amoruso’s perspective on how she built her company, Nasty Gal, from the ground up with only $50, terrible credit, and no debt! She’s an amazing trendsetter who never took “no” for an answer and always sought to get exactly what she wanted with her business. She called the shots. Talk about a pro-feminist #FemmeBoss and Nasty Gal!

Importantly, our girl Sophia wasn’t afraid to dive in and work hard at the things that truly interested her. She started her multi-million dollar business in the women’s clothing industry as a vintage shop on eBay, which she started for free in her apartment.

Sophia was a high school dropout, never went to college, and only took a photography class to learn exactly what she needed to make her thumbnails for her eBay shop appealing enough to catch any Nasty Gal’s eye. She also knew that the only way she would maintain and grow her business was to listen to her instincts and to listen to her customer base.

In her book, #FemmeBoss Sophia details exactly what led her to create Nasty Gal Vintage and how she figured out how to make the concept scalable – to create what we know today as NastyGal.com!

I highly recommend this read if you’re looking for a fellow #FemmeBoss to look up to and to super-charge your interest in your own entrepreneurial and career endeavors!

–Roz

 

Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.

{Strategy} | Clarity: Getting Out Into Nature

Hey, #Kisscrew!

Went out this weekend with my brother for a much-needed rest. We went camping at Murrell Park in Grapevine, TX. Reserved our campsite at Recreation.gov for just $10 and only brought foods we already had in our freezers and pantries. I stocked up my Grizzly cooler and sealed it shut to keep the food cold.

Lee picked me up and we went out to the park last night. Just got back today around 2 pm. It was nice to have a break. We took a couple trails to see what the park had to offer. Here are some interesting pieces we found:

     

I highly recommend going on a quick trip camping to get some clarity if you’ve been really stressed out at work or at school! Your agenda won’t miss you, but you’ll be refreshed and more productive and energized when you come back! It’s a good opportunity to recharge your batteries and essentially get “more time for less.”

–Roz

Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.

{Strategy} | Account Documentation

So you want to get your accounts in order? Here’s my strategy to kick your accounts to the curb:

The structure is simple – designate one set of pages grouped together in your bullet journal! Leave extra space for when you have more accounts to log (trust me, you will wind up adding many more accounts over the next couple years!). I’d recommend designating 3-5 pages for this purpose. Make one column for account type (e.g., company name, Web site stem, or purpose, such as Bank of America Bank Account or Password Keeper). Make another column to the right of it for the username you made for it, a third column for the email address you used for it, a fourth column for the password(s), and a final column for “secret questions” and their respective answers. Be sure to cross through your zeroes, use cursive for lowercase L’s, and cross through the middles of your 7’s so you never get confused. For more information about how to make a bullet journal that works for you, check out this article.

Example:

Account Type      Username      Email Address      Password           Secret Questions + Answers

Next, take any scraps of paper you found when organizing your personal documents (more on this here) and transcribe them onto your new paper version of a password keeper. It will probably look something like this:

That way, when you are looking for your account information while you’re on the phone or in a hurry, you never feel flustered! You’ve got a system, girl, and it will save you so much time, stress, and headache moving forward!

Leave a comment below how this works for you. If you have another effective strategy that works better, explain it down below so that your #Kisscrew can also benefit from your experience! Women empowering women – isn’t it inspirational?

–Roz

Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.

{Strategy} | Documentation

Ah, documentation! It can feel annoying. It can feel unnecessary. It can feel overwhelming or even confusing! But honestly, it’s very empowering and very important for your sense of control over your finances, records, identity, passwords, online profiles, and memberships!

I was just listening to an report on NPR’s Morning Edition (highly recommend – I just donated this morning!). The story was describing how Bitcoin has dramatically increased value and is now worth a lot of money! The problem is, however, that early investors who did not have good documentation of their private keys (long strings of letters and numbers that help keep the finances secure and registered under your account identity) could not retrieve their Bitcoins. Thus they could not cash in on their investments. Essentially, these people just lost hundreds of thousands of dollars! That adds up fast! All because they forgot to write down one precious 50-some letter key.

The report’s conclusion? Back up your information manually (think pen and paper!).

I’ve been touting this idea since day one of grad school.

And who knows? Potentially in our futures it will be essential for us to manage our own private keys to our financial accounts – if Bitcoin becomes the primary currency. So before you lose your money (and your mind!), here are some tips to help you organize yourself:

1.     Get a hanging file with folders. Seriously, this is an inexpensive way to manage your information! Start by making the following folders:

  • Taxes 2017
  • Taxes 2018
  • Identity Records
  • Online Accounts & Passwords
  • Diplomas & Certificates
  • Business Expenses (Receipts)
  • Confirmation Notices
  • Bank Statements
  • Photos, Mementos & Cards
  • Any other folder name(s) you think might help you organize your things!

“No-brainer” products that I’ve curated for you specifically to help you accomplish this:

2.     Set aside just 2 hours to collect all the documents you’ve had scattered throughout your apartment or house. Your sole task at this stage is to open all of your drawers, check your desk, look anywhere you open mail, even check bookshelves, your underwear drawer, and the space under your bed! Put EVERYTHING into one pile on the floor. This may be all you can get to today, but it’s still a HUGE step in the right direction.

3.    Next, find 30 minutes to organize the giant pile into the folder categories you made. Think carefully about which items belong where, and why. If you need to, you can even write descriptions of the contents of each folder in your bullet journal or in a sheet of paper you will stick at the front of the hanging file! Label this description “Documentation README.” This is the same type of writing that large businesses and software companies use when they deliver a new product to the user. It provides the instructions the user needs to make sense of the product and get it to work as intended.

Here’s an example of the README file I made back when I was doing my internship at the University of North Texas:

I actually keep this squirreled away in my hanging file in a folder called “Research Documentation.”

4.     Finally, go back through everything you’ve sorted and identify what items are no longer relevant. What items need to be purged? Think receipts older than 7 years, tax files older than 7 years, accounts you already deleted, etc. It’s a good idea to keep ALL of your business expenses, passwords (to active accounts), and identity records indefinitely. This task will probably take another hour or so. If you’d like to see helpful examples of what account documentation can look like, check out this article.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, set a timer to keep yourself accountable to these time limits. Remember that progress is more important than perfection and that a little step taken each day towards a goal adds up to big results – sooner, rather than later! Keep in mind WHY it’s important that you do this – you want to feel empowered and in control! This is what a #FemmeBoss does, and you are one too!

I’ve linked some complementary products that I think will also make managing your important documents more portable and flexible to the photos below:

 Handheld Super Stapler  Ink Joy Gel Pens {Trust me, these are awesome!}

These products have received very good reviews from Amazon and I genuinely think that they will add to your life, not to your clutter!

Let me know how this strategy worked for you? Did you try it? If you modified it, what did you do differently? Help a fellow #FemmeBoss out by leaving your process down in the comments!

–Roz

Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.

{Strategy} | Budgeting 101

How do you plan for your own financial security while still enjoying what the day has to offer? I’m starting a series on financial management tutorials on our blog! In the course of the next several articles, I’ll be showing you how you can go from almost $9,000 in debt to a net worth of $1.5k in only 1 year! No bull, just sound advice that echoes the likes of Warren Buffet (and my dear old dad).

First, take out a sheet of paper or your bullet journal and start listing the categories of spending and roundabout numbers you need to answer the following questions:

  1. Get real with yourself: what is the bare minimum you need to get by each month? I’m not talking about shoes, purses, blue jeans, cars, makeup, etc. What keeps you alive, healthy, and able to work? Examples: rent, food, feminine hygiene products, heat/electric, water, garbage collection
  2. What things do you need to keep you up and able to make new income? Examples: car or bus pass, Uber rides, Dickies uniform slacks or work shoes, gasoline, Wifi, taxes***
  3. What do you need to stay organized so that you feel on top of your game when getting ready for work or when you’re at work? Examples:  office supplies, coffee, briefcase, laptop, coworking space rental fees, a P.O. box
  4. What do you need to maintain basic transportation to and from your place of work?
  5. Emergencies? Examples: regular car maintenance, urgent care clinic copays, renters’ insurance, liability insurance, a couple hundred dollars of cash to keep under your mattress in case World War III, identity theft, or a tornado happened?
  6. Medical, dental, and/or vision insurance expenses + copays? Examples: annual checkups, well-woman pap smear, getting your teeth cleaned, flu shot, eye annual, recurring prescription expenses, etc.

***Look for the 3 asterisks (***) in the paragraphs below to find out how to predict how much taxes you will owe for the 2017 fiscal year!

Once you’ve answered these 6 questions, tally up the round numbers. Circle this total and label it “LIVE.” This is how much it costs for you to live. These costs are largely non-negotiable, though you may have to go back and look at your receipts or credit card bills to get a rough sense of how much these categories cost you in the previous year.

Next, add in a little “caviar” – what is ONE thing that makes you really happy? What is your regular source of entertainment? Is it Netflix? Is it Spotify Premium? Is it sewing? Is it bar hopping with friends? How about comfort foods? Shopping? The gym perhaps? List out your favorite things with the weekly or monthly price tags associated with each thing. Tally up this number, circle it, and label it “FUN.”

Add the two numbers together and box this number, labeling it “TOTAL EXPENSES.” This is how much you spend doing what you think you should be doing to live a reasonably comfortable life.

***Next, list out your source(s) of income. How much do you make per hour? Multiply this number by the number of hours you work each week (probably something like 40 hours if you are non-exempt from overtime pay) and by the number 50 (most people usually work about 50 weeks each year). This will tell you what you expect your annual salary to look like. Label this number “INCOME.” 

***Once you know what your gross salary is, you must check the list of 2017 fiscal year tax brackets here. Find two numbers between which your annual salary would fall – for example, if my annual salary were $31,000 per year, I’d look for the $20,000 cutoff and the $59,000 cutoff. The $31,000 salary is below $59,000, so I fall into the 15% tax bracket. This means that I am required to pay $932.50 plus 15% of any money I earn above $9,325 in the 2017 fiscal year to the government. This is non-negotiable and should be included in the “TO LIVE” category you calculated above.

Now here comes the hard part: the reality check.What is the difference between “TOTAL EXPENSES” and “INCOME”? If this is a negative number, you know you have to cut back on the Entertainment section (look for items to cut out of the “FUN” number you just tallied). If it is “zero,” you still have some things to chop from this part of the budget – because you always need to plan ahead a little for your retirement and for emergencies (think somewhere to the tune of at least $3/week, EVERY week. That’s less than the latte you knew you shouldn’t have bought from Starbucks this morning on your scurried way into work!).

Whew! I know that is a lot to read and expect to understand in one go! I’ll post more about 401k, IRA, and other investments in another article soon! For now, just treat the “plan ahead” money I mentioned above as a secret jackpot – nobody touches it – for any reason! Let me know what questions you have in the comments below so I can help you out!

–Roz

Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.

Reading Inspo

Hi, Dolls!

 

This is a list of the books that helped me springboard my career, productivity, emotional regulation, finances, and sustained motivation into success over the last 3 years! If you’re looking for a break from Chemistry but an opportunity for intentional self-improvement, keep on reading!

I started out with this blog feeling incredibly defeated by graduate school. I felt like a complete failure, even though I had managed to obtain my Master of Science in Chemistry from the number 1 school in the world for my graduate field of study. It turns out it was because I had been harboring a slew of negative beliefs about myself. I also had very poorly defined measures of personal success, and I had developed some poor habits regarding self-care, presenting myself with self-confidence to others, and time management. In other words, I had allowed my immense anxieties about being a “flop” in society to overtake any progress or good feelings I held about myself.

When I decided to get serious about taking the reins over my life, fixing my mental health, and creating my own dream life, I gave my depressed and anxious brain the 1-2 punch with the following books. I won’t bore you with the long-winded summaries of what the books are supposed to do – you can probably judge from the titles themselves which books will be most helpful to you! Click on the links to review the materials for yourself at Amazon.

Here they are:

 

While I was in graduate school, I was expected to go in to work 6 days a week for 12-14 hours a day. Talk about exhausting! However, I made sure each morning to include 15-30 min of reading (even just skimming some days!) of one (JUST ONE!) of these books. I had downloaded them all onto my iPad Kindle App at the same time, but I knew I just had to tackle one at a time so as not to get lost and overwhelmed and just give up. I also usually coupled this 15-30 min of quick reading with the elliptical machine at the school fitness center. This gave me the opportunity to work out my brain while I worked out my body. It gives you something more positive and encouraging to think about than “wow, this running is really starting to hurt and suck.” I also reflected on this material throughout the day and journaled about it at night before turning off the lights to sleep.

You have to keep feeding the positive beliefs with good materials like these and starving the negative beliefs you have about yourself. Good luck this week, #Kisscrew!

–Roz

Rozalyn Davis holds an M.S., Chemistry, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a B.S., Chemistry, from Purdue University. Her interests include women’s empowerment, health and wellness, and environmental sustainability.

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