How to Build Good Habits: Tips & Tricks

How to build good habitsReaders, what are your tips on how to build good habits? Which healthy habits have you successfully started? Have you found that one healthy habit had a domino-type effect on other healthy habits (for example, getting to bed earlier)?

A few months ago, I started to get healthier by fitting exercise into my busy daygetting more sleep, and eating healthier. Although I bought a FitBit for points for my health insurance program several months earlier, I only recently started to use its tracking capabilities on a regular basis. I started by setting easy but meaningful goals, including how many days and minutes per week of activity. I made sure to enter all of my activities. To further motivate myself, I got a new bike. I started tracking my miles on two or three apps each day, as well as a legal pad, and set a goal of 100 miles per month. I also set reminders on my calendar. Looking back, I think it was about 4-6 weeks after I started that I realized that I was making exercise a priority and was consistently hitting my goals. I also felt healthier and my clothes fit a little better.

So let’s discuss some of the best tips on how to build good habits…

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How Do You Use Your Instant Pot? An Open Thread for Busy Ladies

All right, readers — who’s a fan of the Instant Pot? Which are your favorite recipes; what are your best Instant Pot tips for busy ladies? 

Unless you’ve been living under an Instant-Pot-sized rock, you’ve probably noticed the hype around this really versatile kitchen appliance. (NPR just referred to its “viral word-of-mouth success” in a headline the other day.) Many of you — like me — probably either got one or gave one for the holidays and have been spending the last month experimenting (or listening to someone else talk about their experimenting). A reader recently asked for a post similar to the slow cooker recipes post but this time specifically for Instant Pot recipes, and so we thought we’d gather some helpful links and recipes today. Do you have an Instant Pot? What do you use it for?  As a busy woman, do you find that the Instant Pot is better or worse than the slow cooker (where, for example, readers have complained that it’s difficult to find slow cooker recipes with long cook times to allow for their work schedules)!

Whoa: Note that you can get decals, like this one from Etsy seller Emilia Sofia Boutique. I also like this Gosling-themed decal: “Hey girl, drink some wine while I make dinner” from Etsy seller Big Dipper Designs.

Instant Pot is designed to replace a pressure cooker, slow cooker, rice cooker, steamer, yogurt maker, etc., and its fans use it to make everything from chili to cheesecake. The company offers several models with different sizes and features — the DUO60, DUO50, DUO80, LUX60, and the IP-Smart Bluetooth model — but we won’t take up space here describing the differences because Amazon already has a chart that does that. (Scroll down on the page to find it.) (Here’s a post from Hip Pressure Cooking to help you decide, too.) The Instant Pot is currently Amazon’s #1 bestseller in the Home & Kitchen category, and the price range is $80-$180, depending on which model you choose.

Here are a few resources for the new Instant Pot user:

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Hobby Wednesday: Coloring Books for Adults

Coloring Books for Adults

What kinds of hobbies do you like to take part in after work and on weekends? (We’re talking about offline activities here — no computers required/allowed!) This is the first in a series of occasional posts where we’ll take a look at how to pick up various hobbies. Today we’re talking about coloring books for adults, an activity that has exploded in the last year or so. You can find coloring books of all kinds at sites like Amazon or stores like Michaels or Jo-Ann Stores — I even saw a small selection at the grocery store the other day. I’ve dabbled in this trend myself; I received a Doctor Who coloring book as a gift a while ago and just took it up a notch by buying Color Quest: Extreme Coloring Challenges from Amazon, a color-by-numbers book in which each mystery picture has teeny-tiny squares or other shapes to fill in. (The picture isn’t revealed until you’re done.)

If neither of those appeals to you, don’t worry — there are many, many options out there for coloring stress relief (or just for fun) — in fact, it’s almost overwhelming. You can find coloring books of mandalas, animals, flowers and landscapes, fashion, abstract designs, tattoos, TV and movies (from Bob’s Burgers to Buffy to Lord of the Rings), lawyersarchitecture, sports, quotes, Internet-famous cats, and anatomy. There are religious coloring books, coloring books of Disney villains and Disney princesses, and several books with titles like Calm the F*ck Down: An Irreverent Adult Coloring Book (which has 800+ reviews). Your favorite website may have even put out its own coloring book, for example, The Oatmeal or Young House Love.

A few books that are highly rated at Amazon are pictured above. From L to R:

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How to Learn a New Language

Learn a New LanguageMaybe one of your new year’s resolutions is to learn a new language, or to re-learn a language you took in school but can’t speak anymore. We’ve listed the three main options for language learning below, but we’d love to hear your specific suggestions in the comments! Have you learned a new language just for fun, or to further your career? What are your best tips, ladies?

  1. Traditional language programs (e.g., Rosetta Stone): You can choose from 25 languages to learn with Rosetta Stone, including Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, and more. Check out a free demo here (after picking a language). You can see the prices here; for example, right now a one-year online subscription is $199, while a two-year subscription is $209, and an instant download of Levels 1-5 is $209. (It looks like these are temporary discounts, by the way.) According to Rosetta Stone’s FAQ page, “It will take about 40-50 hours to complete the content in each level.” Here’s a review from The Economist from a few years ago and one from PC Mag.
    Others: Pimsleur, Fluenz, Speed Learning Languages, Babbel 
  2. Free language tools (e.g., Duolingo): With Duolingo you can choose from 15 languages, including French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish, and surprisingly, Esperanto. This video (autoplay YouTube) explains that the program — which is free, with no ads — teaches you to read, write, listen, and speak through “bite-size skills that look like games.” You can use Duolingo on your computer or get the app, which has versions for iPhone, Android, and Windows phones. The company also offers online language certification for $20. Here’s a PC Mag review and an Economist review.
    Others: Foreign Service Institute public domain language courses, Internet Polyglot
  3. Online tutors/language partners: Many, many options exist in this category, including Verbalplanet ($22 for 45 minutes), Verbling (varies; teachers set their own prices), Live Lingua ($9.99/hour and up), LingQ ($0-39/month), and Lang-8 (free). Here are some tips on finding and using an online tutor.

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Should You Keep Your Blog a Secret at Work?

Should You Keep Your Blog a Secret at Work? | CorporetteIf you have a personal blog that’s not work-related, should you keep your blog a secret at work? When does your company need to know? Reader K wonders…

As a fellow lawyer, I followed your blog closely back in my NYC law firm days. I now have a more flexible legal position. (I often work remotely as my primary job is meeting with clients.) My question is concerning blogging — as I can’t express much creativity in my day job, I’ve been blogging at night and on weekends (on my own non-work laptop). It’s a personal non-money making blog — in fact it’s more of a money pit. My blog has nothing to do with work, I never even mention work — nor is it controversial. (It’s about shopping & travel.) What is the etiquette concerning letting people at work know about my blog? (My work FB friends know, but I don’t offer the info to anyone unless asked.) I know you blogged anonymously for a long time — I thought about doing this but it seemed like it might hold me back (Google authorship, guest posting, etc.). Should I worry about work “finding out”?

Great question, K. I “came out” to my law firm a month or two after I started Corporette because, even though I wasn’t making much, I had started the blog as a business and was worried about running afoul of an ethics rule my firm had regarding disclosing business connections. Still, there can be a big difference between a handful of HR people knowing about your blog, and attaching your name to the blog publicly — both for professional and personal reasons — so let’s get into it.

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Guest Post: Planning for Retirement — But Not How You Think

Planning for Retirement | CorporetteRetirement — and retirement hobbies — are likely a long way off in your mind. But I like to be prepared, so I asked Lisa from Privilege what those of us who are still working should know. Can one prepare to pursue hobbies? Were there things she thought she’d love but hasn’t -— or hobbies that, once she got deeper into them, she realized she could have made the time for, earlier? Lisa has guest posted* with us before, pondering the things you might miss about a corporate job once you’re out, and — in one of our top posts — advice from the VP/hiring manager level. Welcome back, Lisa!  -Kat

Many of us dream of retiring and finally having time for Anything But Work. I’ve taken a couple of stabs at retirement myself already, at 57. And, as it turns out, unsurprisingly for you smart folks, there’s more to it than romping around not working.

This is not to say that hobbies, travel, and sofa-intensive afternoons aren’t out there. They are. And they are good. The thing is, they’re even better when you’ve done a little advance research. And, it’s also true that many of us who’ve had jobs with responsibility and authority, despite the associated stress, don’t want to toss it all aside. We’d rather replicate what we love, add new pursuits, and get some autonomy over when we do what. (Pictured: Angela’s Garden Fabric-Back Leather Palm Garden Glove, $18.99 at Amazon.)

It’s worth planning to make that all happen.

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