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 to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax Data Breach

How to Protect Your Credit After the Equifax BreachMillions of people (unfortunately, not an exaggeration) are wondering what many Corporette® readers are also wondering: how to protect their credit after the Equifax data breach. On September 7, Equifax revealed that hackers may have exposed Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, birth dates, addresses, driver’s license numbers, website security questions/answers, etc., for up to 143 million people — a “breath-taking amount of highly sensitive data [handed] over to criminals,” as Ars Technica put it. (With all the upsetting news stories recently, someone thought we needed even more things to worry about!) We’ve seen some contradictory information online — and the sheer amount of advice out there is overwhelming — so we thought we’d round up some expert advice in a post. Ladies, what steps have you taken to protect your credit after the breach? Have you used any services or had any success in freezing your credit? If you’ve written to government officials about changing the laws, share your script!

Here are the latest recommendations for how to protect your credit:

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Books, Binge TV, Movies, and More

Ladies, it’s been far too long since we’ve had a check-in to see what you’re reading, what TV you’re bingeing on, what movies you’ve loved, and more (games?). What would you recommend? For my $.02, my television habits are probably more erudite than most of my other habits at this point. Right now, my husband and I love to watch great TV — anything mediocre seems like a letdown. (No judgment here, though — I’ve enjoyed plenty of not-as-great TV, too.) I’m talking about shows like Fargo, Big Little Lies, Game of Thrones … the usual heavy-hitters for awards. I’d recommend binge-watching Fortitude (Amazon), and I finally watched House of Cards (Netflix; not sure I’d recommend the last season).

When it comes to reading, I’ve been enjoying a ton of brain candy, romance-type books lately — a friend joked that it was similar to the “grief reading” she did when her father passed, and I suppose that’s true (no one died in our family; we’re just going through some slightly stressful family issues and general “2017 stinks” issues.) I can’t wait to read Big Little Lies, though, and Crazy Rich Asians is also on my list. (Trust me, this counts as “literature” compared to the other stuff I’ve been reading.)

Kate offered to share her current faves, too:

Reading: I have to admit that my reading habits of late have mostly brought me to online outlets rather than anything on paper, as well as shorter things vs. books: for example, articles in The Washington Post (especially because I have a free digital subscription for six months through Amazon Prime) and stories linked from Longform that have ranged from “Losing It in the Anti-Dieting Age” from The New York Times to “The Story of the DuckTales Theme, History’s Catchiest Single Minute of Music” from Vanity Fair.

Watching: I don’t watch a lot of TV on the actual television, mostly because we don’t have cable — so everything I’ll mention here is streaming on Netflix. As a Marvel fan, I’m currently enjoying Daredevil, and I’ll start The Defenders once I finish (skipping Iron Fist, which was universally panned). I’d also recommend Jessica Jones (as a loyal David Tennant fangirl), which is now filming its second season, and Luke Cage (which features some great music, including Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings). I’ve also recently binge-watched Jane the Virgin (perfect escapist TV!) and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (yes, Marvel again). I’ve become reacquainted with Portlandia, which is a lot of fun, and I finally watched Black Mirror, which is equally entertaining and disturbing. I’m looking forward to the next season of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — Rebecca Bloom is a musical and comedic genius!

So, ladies: What did you find and devour on your summer vacation that you would heartily recommend? And looking ahead: What are you eagerly awaiting? What fall TV are you looking forward to the most — are there any fall premieres you’ve made sure to add to your calendar? 

Image source: Pixabay

How to Keep Track of Work To-Dos

how to keep track of work to-dosHow do you keep track of different task items at work, readers? What are your best tips for how to keep track of work to-dos? Reader E wonders…

I would love a post on how people keep track of work to-dos. Do people write down their assignments on their calendars, keep a paper to do list? Some other system?

Great question, E! We’ve talked about different tools for time management, how to organize your office, as well as how to choose a great planner, and how to find a system like Getting Things Done, but I don’t think we’ve talked about how to keep track of different work to-dos. My own system is kind of simple (she said, preparing multiple bullet points) — OK, it’s not terribly simple, but it KIND of works for me. I could definitely improve, though, so I’m curious to hear what works for you guys!

Here’s the best ways I’ve found to keep track of work to-dos (and to-dos in general):

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A Smart Home: Creepy or Cool?

Here’s a question: is a “smart home,” connected and automated via various apps and devices, cool — or does it strike you as creepy? For those of you who have automated/connected your home, what products do you love the best? (I know there will be many who have a “no way no day” attitude here, and that’s ok too — I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!) As someone who tends to have an attitude of “sure it’s kind of creepy but ugggggh I hate turning on lamps manually on and off every single day when they’re an important part of our lighting design scheme,” I’ve started to go down the rabbithole. Things I’ve looked into (all of which work with my beloved Alexa as well as my smart phone, for what it’s worth):

  • Philips Hue – I got my husband a starter kit for last Christmas — getting it set up was VERY easy, and now we have colorful lights that can dim, be set to routines (such as turning on automatically at sunset), and can be turned on or off by voice command to Alexa. (We have SmartThings set up because we also have one connected outlet that my father wired for us — I think it’s a Leviton — and I will say I prefer the routines through SmartThings than through the Hue app.)  The LightStrips are awesome if you want to add undercabinet lighting to your home, particularly if you have a long bank of cabinets or, say, a long console table, china hutch, or shelf that you wish lit up; we also really like the colorful bulbs for the boys‘ room. (You can cut the lighting strips but each one needs to be plugged in to a power source.) I’ve only just begun experimenting with third party apps that, for example, change the lighting in reaction to music you’re playing.

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How to Make Sure You Get Your Money Back on Returned Online Purchases

how to make sure you get your money back on returned online purchasesMy own system needs a little work, so today I’m asking a question for advice as much as discussion: how do you make sure you’re getting your money back on returned online purchases? Have you found any good apps or systems?

If you’re like me, odds are you do a lot of online shopping these days, and part of the appeal is easy returns by mail. But keeping track of whether I’ve actually gotten the refund or credit is becoming more and more difficult. For example, sometimes when I’m returning items bought online  I have absolutely no idea how much I’m going to be getting back — for example, I remember returning stuff to Banana Republic/Gap/Old Navy once where I had purchased the items using their “super cash” and possibly had gotten an additional “buy $X and get 40% off” tiered deal — so I had no idea how returning some items from the order would affect the equation.  Other times, the store tells you clearly how much to expect back when you print out your return slips — but then returns trickle in on your credit card in smaller amounts, at different times.

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