We need a better relationship with our time (for life’s sake).

How you spend your time is how you spend your life. Period.

As we all know, time is always moving, and life isn’t promised to us at every moment. So how can we make sure we’re living a life that feels fulfilling to us each day? And I mean one that’s genuinely fulfilling. A life where most days we feel satisfied with what we do, who we spend time with, and how we show up in the world. We have to take an honest look at how we’re spending our time. Thankfully, we can prioritize reflecting and planning out how we want to use our time, like prioritizing taking care of our health and managing our money. Let’s explore how we can create a better relationship with our time together.

I like to work with themes and templates throughout my week to help me keep track of my progress and reflect on what I’m putting my energy and resources into. If you’ve been following me this year, you know that Money Monday is a perfect example of that.

So yes, when it comes to keeping track of how I spend my time, I have a themed day for that. It’s called Time Management Tuesdays (or TMT for short)! Every Tuesday, I reflect on where most of my energy went during the past week, and I ask myself whether or not I feel satisfied with how I spent my time. I created a PDF with questions that I answer honestly and as thoroughly as possible. Here’s a peek at some of the questions I ask myself:

This week…

What did I get the most out of (activities, relationships, routines, etc.)?

What did not serve me (activities, relationships, time wasters, etc.)?

What did I do for fun?

What did I do for my health?

What did I do for my purpose (life mission)?

I like these questions because they are focused on how I spent MY time in a way that serves ME. It’s easy for us to fill up our time with obligations or responsibilities that benefit others. Maybe you’re someone who is always putting in overtime at work, or you’re a busy parent trying to take care of your family. It’s fine and good that we serve and take care of others. However, when we don’t consciously look at how we’re spending our time, we miss out on so much. We can easily fall into the trap of ignoring our desires, being on autopilot, and living a very unbalanced life. The goal is to have a balanced life. Balanced, not perfect. But we can only get to that point when we ask ourselves real questions like this consistently.

At the end of my reflection, I make it a point to adjust next week’s plans according to what I need more of. For example, perhaps last week, I didn’t do anything fun for myself or anything related to taking care of my health. Acknowledging that, I can address why that may be and plan for next week to go to a paint nite with friends and schedule workouts for each weekday.

We must reflect, plan, and act on changing our lives by changing how we spend our time. With that, I want to offer you some action steps you can take to simplify your day-to-day and create more time for the things and people you love. Here are some tips I always keep in mind when thinking about my time:

Know what your time-wasters are and work on reducing them

For me, I have an issue with YouTube (as I mentioned in this previous post). It’s my vice of choice – I can be on there forever. So what do I do when I notice I’m spending more hours on there than I should? I block myself from accessing it using the Content Restrictions setting on my phone and laptop. I’ve also used other blockers that make this easy too. What’s a time-waster for you? Scrolling on Instagram for hours? How can you spend less time there?

Embrace the beauty of mono-tasking

If you’re like me, you probably think you’re great at multitasking. And if you are like me, I’m gonna laugh at you. LOL. But that’s because I know firsthand that doing multiple things at once splits up your attention and energy. When you do that, you sacrifice the quality of work you put into something, and you might feel more drained by the time you’re done. So embrace the beauty of focusing on ONE THING AT A TIME. Sit down, set a 25-minute Pomodoro timer, and focus solely on writing that blog post (@ me). See how much you can get done and how much better you feel while mono-tasking.

Build helpful, automatic routines and habits

You know I love good and helpful automation. Creating routines and habits that work for you allow you to accomplish what you need and want to do in a way that doesn’t take too much brainpower, energy, or maneuvering. You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but you need a routine! You need habits! They save you time, add to your life, and make day-to-day living easier for you. Build these routines and rituals to simplify getting what you need or checking off your daily tasks. There’s a whole set of books and videos I could recommend that would help you with this but the biggest tip overall is to keep it simple and ~ if possible ~ enjoyable.

Prioritize fun, health, purpose, and connection

These are four priorities I have for making sure my life feels meaningful and enjoyable. After all, what’s life without some fun? How can we function without health? Isn’t life more meaningful with a purpose? And can we all agree that we just want to feel connection and love at the end of the day? I encourage you to really make time for all of these in your life to the best of your ability. Set up time to socialize, have adventures, workout, and show up in the world. You deserve to live a good life; a fulfilling life. We all do.

My intention with this post is to encourage all of us to look at our lives from the driver’s seat and to spend it on our terms as much as possible.

#19: Midterm Season

Hey peeps!

Long time, no post. I know, I know. But I promise I’ll be back soon! I wanted to check-in to let you know that last week was Spring Break for me and now I have midterms all week (p.s. send help), which is why I haven’t posted in a while. I’ll be back on my flow as soon as these tests are over!

Although this isn’t my usual weekly reflections post, I wanted to leave you with a few gems and favorites to hold you over until the weekend:

  • What you should think about: Take the time to figure out what you TRULY value, be honest with yourself, and spend more time doing things that align with that. What do you value the most? Work, relationships, your health? How are you spending your time now?
  • Fav natural product you should try: If you haven’t tried African Black Soap, I HIGHLY recommend it. Especially if you have “problem” or “acne-prone” skin.
    • Note: you’ll likely find this at any beauty supply store near you, but I included a link to an “Amazon’s choice” African Black Soap. The tip I’ll give with buying these soaps is to choose those that look less neat and more “earthy”. There are marketed African Black Soaps that are completely black and smooth, but I’ve read that for the best quality soap you should go with the ones that look closer to this:

 

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Source: Google Images – Cleopatra’s Choice

 

May we all prosper this week — and may these test scores be ON POINT. Sending you positive vibes, always.

Valencia Saint-Louis

#18: System Shut Down + Weekly Favorites

For most of this past week, I was sick, which wasn’t fun at all. I usually don’t get sick unless I’m under a lot of stress or in what I call a “low-vibrational state”; in short it’s a state where I’m being pretty negative or feeling insecure and just emotionally or mentally feeling icky. I’m not kidding when I say this. Mentally feeling icky leads me to feel physically icky. So healing from that took a lot of deep sleep, medicine, and positive thinking.

I think my procrastination from the week before, paired with lingering thoughts of perfectionism and disappointment in producing less than exquisite work, spilled into the beginning of this week and stressed me out a lot. That and the fact that my schedule was out of whack. No wonder my immune system shut down.

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Towards the end of the week though, I started to feel MUCH better. It was a night and day difference. That experience gave me a wakeup call on how important it is for me to keep in good spirits (while still respecting the full range of emotions that come up for me), and that everything is connected. When I slacked and stressed on my work, I’m sure that led to me slacking and stressing on my nutrition and schedule and everything else. Everything is connected.

So here’s my reminder to you not to let sicky, icky feelings catch you by surprise! Make sure to keep your immunity high by:

  • Drinking lots of water, and taking in enough Vitamin C.
  • Reducing stress as much as possible with things like meditation, journaling, and deep breathing.
  • Getting plenty of deep sleep. Make those REM cycles count, sis.

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With this week ahead, my intentions are to take care of myself, to do things with a “beginner’s mindset” with LOTS of compassion, and to be grateful. Like right now I’m grateful for the fact that I had some yummy oatmeal with peanut butter (before you knock it, try it) and that my mom sent me the sweetest message filled with love this morning. I was in tears reading it. Food + mom = a whole lot to be grateful for. What are you grateful for today?

Weekly Favorites

Youtube Video: your. 20’s. aren’t. a. joke. | advice for surviving your 20’s – an amazing friend sent me this video and we bonded over how REAL this is. Ugh. If you’re in your 20s or want a trip down memory lane, please check this out.

Organization: StoryCorps

Podcast: Highest Self Podcast by Sahara Rose

Song: Sucker by the Jonas Brothers — yes, they’re back! When I was younger, I absolutely loved the Jonas Brothers. And guess what? Nothing has changed! Haha, but this song is sooo good and the music vid is absolutely beautiful. Life goals = to be Priyanka Chopra, sitting in a bathtub with jewels on my head.

 

#16: Energy Management and Weekly Favorites

Happy Friday, everyone!

I know what you’re thinking… it’s been a while. 

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I couldn’t even tell you what kept me occupied these past two weeks. The days seem to fly by so fast now that I don’t seem to remember what I did the day before if I don’t journal or write it down somewhere. But now I’m finding space and time to sit and write. I’m getting a lot better at managing my energy, carving out alone-time, and reducing stress.

My calendar (and my room) are less chaotic, and I’ve actually gotten to a point where I feel at peace. It almost feels… suspicious. You know what I mean? It feels like because I’m not stressing out that I’m not doing enough. Which is probably just a product of associating being stressed out and “busy” – a word I never like to use – with being productive. Which is NOT the case. At least not 24/7 bad stress.

I’m learning how to work smarter instead of harder and to be intentional about what I do and why I do it. Like I mentioned in my last post, there’s a cost to everything. Being intentional about how we spend our time and energy is super important.

 

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Me to me when I try to take on the world before lunch ^

 

If you’re a student, a leader, a Type-A, or anything of that sort, here’s some advice I can offer you that’s helped me find peace these past two weeks:

  1. Ask for help when you need it. Yes, you are fully capable of doing anything you put your mind to. But you are also more productive and at peace when you have the support from others that you need to get to the next level. Let others help you.
  2. If you can help it set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour every day, at the same time, for you to you decompress and relax. Put it in your Google Calendar. I’m serious. Make it as much of a priority as your schoolwork, work, or client meetings are. Use that time to listen to your needs.
  3.  Prioritize connection. Life is more than what you do. It’s the connections you make too. Be in flow with people that make you happy and feel most alive.
  4. Take slow, deep breaths.

I hope you had a nice Valentine’s Day if you celebrate it, and that you’re showing yourself and those you love lots of love this weekend!

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Weekly Favorites

Podcast: Oprah Winfrey, Part 1 (Oprah’s Master Class: The Podcast).

Youtube Video: Oprah’s Tearful Speech at Power of Women

Article: 7 Essential Tips For First Time Managers in 2019

InterviewCharlamagne Tha God – Combatting the Stigma Around Mental Health in “Shook One” | The Daily Show

Quote: “The grass is greener where you water it”

#14: Prioritizing Connection, Restless Sleep, and Weekly Favorites

It feels like a lot happened this week, even though I didn’t do much. I wasn’t as productive as I have been for the past couple of weeks, but I took a lot of time to check-in with friends and connect with my family. There were a lot of phone calls, laughs, and real conversations. And now that I think about it, maybe I needed a week like that. I’ve spent so much time thinking about how I can be productive by getting stuff done, but perhaps not enough time reconnecting with my loved ones and trying to work on the relationships that matter a lot to me.

Prioritizing Connection

A major lesson this week: in the midst of trying to personally develop in your career, studies, financial pursuits, etc. make sure to prioritize your relationships with others. Relationships are what connect us. So after your meeting today, call up your best friend. Or maybe while you’re cleaning, check-in with your brother. Make time for real connection.

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Restless Sleep

Towards the beginning of this week, I had some trouble falling asleep. I kept tossing and turning. I think it’s because I kept doing important, stimulating, and creative work right before going to bed super late. So, of course, the second my tired body hit the bed my mind was like, “WHY ARE WE POWERING DOWN?? More ideas! More creativity! Time. To. Be. Up!”

Thankfully my sleep got a lot better once I:

  1. Shut down my electronics about an hour before going to sleep.
  2. Went to sleep earlier.
  3. Stopped eating at a certain time.
  4. Took some deep breaths and stretched before sleep.

 

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Now that I’m going back to school, I have to fix my sleep schedule… and quick lol. I’m ready to go back but at the same time it feels like I never left.

Weekly Favorites:

P.S. did anyone see the new M. Night Shyamalan film, Glass? I saw it yesterday and thought it was shot so well! I won’t spoil anything, but it really makes you think about our own perceptions of who the good and bad guys are.

Hope you had a week filled with connection, good sleep, and good movies!

#13: Finished Books, Sweeet Sweet Yoga, and Weekly Favorites​

Heyy peeps!

I hope you had a great week and that you’re taking some time to appreciate all that you’ve experienced and accomplished. And extending some compassion to yourself for all the things you didn’t get to do or for not being your best self 24/7. We can’t do it all, and that’s okay. We are learning, breathing, and getting better each day. And you know what? I’m proud of us for that.

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As you know I gotta keep you updated with the weekly reflections, so here it goes! (I’m playing around with the format of my weekly reflection posts; let me know what you think of this one!)

Finished Books (Yay!)

Remember one of my last posts, where I talked about information overload and confessed that I haven’t been absorbing everything I’ve tried to read and digest? Yeah? Well, guess what! I sat down and finished You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero (after “almost finishing” reading it for a month now) and I ended up finishing Becoming by Michelle Obama today too. To be honest, wrapping up You Are A Badass was such a struggle for me. I kept getting all these inspired ideas, writing out plans, and my mind just kept wandering and wandering. I guess I didn’t want the book to end, in reality. It was filled with so many gems!!

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I highly recommend Jen Sincero’s book if you’re looking for an honest, transparent and anecdotal read that will guide you in your personal development journey. Not only is it personal but it gives you ACTUAL steps to transform your thinking (and by effect, your life). It’s nice to read a motivational story but it’s another to actually put in the work and get real with yourself.

Sweeet, Sweet Yoga

Besides the success of collecting information without feeling overwhelmed, today I connected my body and my breath and gave myself some mental clarity by doing some yoga exercises. I rolled out my mat and relaxed under the guidance of Yoga with Adrienne on Youtube. I noticed there were a few areas that were super tight and needed some extra love, but it felt so good to slow down and pay attention to what my body needed. I reveled in the slow movements, the extensions, the stretches – ahhh, the stretches!

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(Self-check: how does your neck feel? Stretch it out, one side at a time and see if you’re carrying a lot of tension there. I’ve learned that a lot of us carry tension in our necks and lower back – I certainly do.)

I feel like the last half of my week was much more fulfilling than the first half (considering the fact I can’t remember too much of what happened during the first half, HA). But I did end up going to the gym a few times this week, so I’m happy about that. Nonetheless, I’m grateful for what every day brought me. I’m learning how to slow down, trust my intuition, and guide myself back to love every day.

Weekly Favorites + Reminders:

Sending you lots of encouragement and growth this week ahead!

 

Featured Image Source: Business Insider UK

Original Poem: Flow by Valencia Saint-Louis

Flow by Valencia Saint-Louis
I am the eye of the hurricane,
the eye of wisdom,
the one who sees you eye to eye
and doesn’t believe in an eye for an eye.

I enjoy flowing like waves
And growing like waves
And dropping like rain
And washing down pain

Sprinkles of love
I drizzle above
sleeping tsunamis.

Mellow watermelon,
pretty peaches
Zen is my favorite season

I like being a full moon.
The aura
of a spring afternoon.

#12: Information Overload

I’d like to think of myself as someone who is ambitious, likes to learn, and who loves personal development. I mean personal development and growth are the pillars of this website for crying out loud.

But I have to be honest, trying to absorb all the information there is out there about being your best self and getting your life in order can be exhausting. The number of podcasts, articles, apps, books, etc. that are out there can be overwhelming. And maybe I’m talking into the void here, or maybe you’re like me, and you find yourself subscribing to tens of accounts and channels, trying to improve your life. Where do you start? What do you tackle first? Ughhhh.

Person under crumpled pile of papers with hand holding a help si
Send help!

*takes a deep breath* And to be honest with you, this has been an issue for me in the past. Taking on a lot of tasks or finding a lot of resources and not knowing where to start or divide up my time. So, I’m looking to minimalize and conquer.

To focus on ONE resource at a time, and to soak up all I can from it, before moving on to the next thing. For example, I’ve been digesting information from both Michelle Obama’s Becoming (as I mentioned in my last posts), and from the book, You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. And you know what? I’ve been reading YAAB for over a month… STILL HAVEN’T FINISHED IT.  Even though I know I want to finish it so I can internalize its lessons and move on. Even though it’s totally possible to read two books at once, I’m splitting up my time and energy and not finishing either of them – when really, I could’ve finished at least YAAB a month ago.

 

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Me to me^

 

Information overload happens not only with books of course but with social media and news and all that jazz. It’s just a lot sometimes. So I’m looking to scale back a bit, recharge, and work with what I’ve got now.

Have you ever experienced an information overload? Maybe watching the news too much has got you feeling irritated? Or maybe you’re not sure of which diet to try next between keto, paleo, avocado… In any event, I feel you.

Let’s make an effort to unplug, reset, and digest one thing at a time.

 

#11: New Year + Fresh Energy

Happy New Year everyone!

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(Side note: What a beautiful man^, am I right?)

With each new year, it seems everyone is set on creating resolutions and changing their lives. And you know what? I love it. I really do. Because even if the motivation for others is short-lived, it’s still a shift and reminder for me to continue to clarify and pursue my own goals. We all need reminders. I mean yeah, it might be annoying that everyone and their mom is now going to the gym all at once, but it’s also exciting. People are taking action. And you know what? I applaud them for that. Every small action is significant. 

But, I’m not gonna sit here and promote inconsistent action. So I have a challenge for you; what’s something you can consistently work on this year? One thing. For me for example, I’m going to do my best to blog and update this website every week. I’d love to produce content that is engaging, open, and helpful. As much fun as it is blogging about my weekly favorites and what’s going on in my life, I want to make sure everyone that reads these posts gets something useful out of them.

Let’s take this fresh energy and use it to plan for the pitfalls and days where we lack motivation. Let’s celebrate this newfound motivation and use it to create accountability pacts and incentives! WE GOT THIS! Cheeers!

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#10: Loving Myself, Michelle Obama’s Gems, and Weekly Reflections

What a week; I feel like time is flying by. And I can’t lie this week I wasn’t super productive, but I do have to pat myself on the back for doing a couple of things like continuing to listen to Michelle Obama’s audiobook titled Becoming, cleaning, grocery shopping, attempting to paint my nails, and most notably — going to the gym!

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Thank you, thank you *takes several bows*. Yes, I’ve been making it to the gym (after all, I can’t let this membership go to waste!). I’m working on distance running and toning up my body right now, so today I did 2.0 miles in 35 minutes including a warm up and cool down, with 4:45 seconds on and 00:40 seconds off. Then each day I alternate which region of my body I want to work. I’d say I’m off to a good start so far.  I’ve been working out with my best friend and let me tell you, she keeps me accountable.

I think a combination of going to the gym, eating well, and doing some end-of-the-year reflection has helped me love myself more as a result. Not only that but like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, journaling has been helping me out a ton too. It feels good to connect with my body and mind; to slow down and give myself that space. I feel healthy! Plus I’m here for the confidence boost too.

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This week I’ve also been collecting all of the gems from Michelle’s book. I love how self-aware she is, how real and candid she is about how her relationship with Barack started and how it’s evolved over the years, and how compassionate she is. Listening to this book is making me think about my own aspirations, patterns, relationships, and development. It also prompts me to ask myself, “What do I want my life to be like in X amount of years?” How do I want to write my story?

And on that note, here are some weekly reflections and favorites I came across this past couple of days:

  • Intuition is powerful. Listen to it. In silence, before making a decision, and before asking others for advice.
  • Our thoughts affect our mood. That may sound obvious, but we underestimate how amazing we can make ourselves feel through thought alone. When we think positively about ourselves and what we have, when we think in terms of gratitude, affirmations, favorite memories, and the like, we naturally raise our mood. We do that, simply by thinking! To me, that’s an incredible superpower.
  • Note to self: spend more time with the people that make you feel full and in flow. The feeling you get from that is unlike anything else in this world.

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  • I am more than enough. You are more than enough. We are abundant. We have so much value; our abilities, our manifestations, and our existence are magnificent.
  • Decide to decide, show up, and flow.
  • Favorite: The app Digit — I just started using it to work on saving for goals like paying off student loans and making a “fun” budget
  • Favorite: Sweet potato! Yummmm! I’ve been making a salad complete with leafy greens, sweet potato, hummus, avocado (if I’m feeling like it) and some dressing. Delishhh.
  • Favorite: Running!

I hope your week went well and that you recognize the power you have to make next week even better. Keep thriving, sis.

All the best,

Valencia