Alicia Grace Co

The Science of Creating A New Habit

Habits, ProductivityAlicia LohComment
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Habits affect so much of our lives. A good habit can help you be more productive achieve your goals. There are some habits that many of us want to start, like going to the gym more. My personal habit goal is to drink 8 cups of water each day. But creating a new habit can seem a little tough. I’ve tried it so many times: you start out strong for a few days, then you miss one day, and suddenly you’re back at square one.

Starting a new habit shouldn’t be that difficult. Starting (and sticking to!) a new habit can be boiled down to a science that’s really easy to understand.

First, you have to understand that we’re creatures of habit, and everything in your routine now is a habit. That’s why it’s so hard to change your behaviour. When you want to start a new habit, you’re not just introducing something new into your life, but you’re also taking something away. Let’s say you want to go to the gym for an hour twice a week. You have to figure out what you need to reduce from your life to make that possible. Maybe it’s time you would have otherwise spent watching Netflix, or relaxing in the bath. Think about what you’re giving up, and decide whether the new habit that you want to create is worth it. What will you gain from it, and what benefits will you get? Know your WHY, and don’t just do something because you know you should. Go to the gym twice a week because you want to work on your health or lose some weight, not just because it’s a good thing to do.

Once you’ve decided to create a new habit, it’s time to get down to business.

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When you’re starting a new habit, it can seem a little daunting, especially when it’s something completely new. Research shows that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Commit yourself to your new habit for just 21 days to start with - that will be much less scary, and easier to think about. Once you’ve actually done it for 21 days, you’ll find that the habit has already stuck, and it’s just a matter of continuing.

Building on this theme, I know it’s really tempting to start a few new habits at the same time, but the key is to focus on just one! Starting a new habit requires quite a bit of effort, and it’s really important to get a new habit properly into your life before trying to start a new one. Just like you’d only really focus on one big project at a time, you should only work on creating one new habit at a time.

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If you struggle to keep on track with your new habit, the best thing that you can do is to automate it. Schedule that gym session into your calendar. Set a reminder every few hours to drink that glass of water. Pack a yummy lunch so that you’re not tempted to skip it.

Think about what exactly you need to do in order to create your new habit. If you want to wake up earlier, you have to sleep earlier. Is there something that is stopping you from actually doing your new habit? Make sure you address it first. Similarly, think ahead about what obstacles you may face. What if you need to stay late in the office on gym day, or you need to go to a friend’s birthday party? Things like these can interfere with your habit-forming goal, especially during those early 21 days, but they don’t have to be your pitfall. Try to think of solutions so that you’re not stressed when interferences come up. Could you go to the gym on another day, or work out longer during your next session?

Something else that is so important that people often forget is to track your habits. Make sure you know if you are actually keeping up with it, and on the days that you miss out, try to note down why. That will help you to address it in the future and stay on track. You can do it however you like, but my favourite way is with pen and paper. That’s why I created this Habit Tracker.

Lastly, and importantly, set a reward for yourself so that you have an incentive to go through with your plan. It can be something simple, even colouring in a square on your habit tracker, but your brain will find it so much easier to start something new.

Good Habits: Why Are They So Important?

Productivity, GoalsAlicia Loh2 Comments
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You’ve heard of the saying, ‘you are what you eat’. Well, how about ‘you are what you do’?

Up to 40% of what we do each day is out of habit, from our morning routines to the last few things we do each night. Habits are useful because they save energy so we can focus on other things. You don’t think about brushing your teeth or whether you’re going to drink coffee tomorrow - you just do it. Habits, then, make us more productive. But what if your habits are not the most efficient way of doing things? What if you can get ready in the mornings in 30 minutes instead of 40? I know how important 10 minutes of sleep can be, and over the week, it adds up to more than an hour.

You create a habit when you do something repeatedly, until eventually you start to do it without giving it a second thought. The thing is that your brain can’t tell a good habit from a bad habit - it’s up to you to break the cycle. Why is it so important to have good habits? Well, there are three simple reasons.

Good habits help you achieve your goals

Good habits will help you accomplish great things. They help you learn more, like when you read a little bit each day, and carve out more time in the day when your habits are productive.

Think about what habits will help you do this, and start implementing them, one by one.

Habits can keep you going

On days when your motivation is lacking, a good habit can be just what you need to keep going. Whether or not you’re feeling like exercising today, for example, a habit of going to the gym after work will see you through. It’s just like having a good work ethic: once you’ve created it, it becomes a part of you!

When I was in university, I kept a habit of studying in the evenings. No matter what mood I was in or how tired I was, I ended up doing just that, simply because I’ve made a habit of it.

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Habits help you unwind

I know I’ve been talking about productive habits, but sometimes, the habit of relaxing can help you in other areas of your life. If you have a habit of curling up on your couch (or, let’s face it, your bed) to watch Netflix on Monday nights, that’s good. It gives you something to look forward to, and you know that you have a dedicated relaxation time at the end of a long day.

Don’t miss my next blog post, because I’m going to tell you how to create a new habit.

How To Plan Your Ideal Week in 5 Steps

Planning, ProductivityAlicia LohComment
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We all have fantasies about an ideal week: waking up excited to start the day on Monday morning, accomplishing all of your tasks each day, going to sleep at a decent time each night, and having time to relax and have fun with loved ones. My ideal week includes taking my furry friend for a walk every evening.

Even though life has a way of sending surprises along the way, there’s something you can do to make your ideal week a reality: planning it out. In this post, I’ll share with you exactly how you can do this.

1. Set aside time to plan

Your ideal week deserves some thought and care. Pick a time before it starts to plan it out. Over the weekend is usually best, though if you are planning your work week, you may prefer to do this on Friday at the end of the day.

2. Pick your focus

Having a focus - a few goals, or even a single one - is the best thing you can do when planning out your week.

Set out your goals on a piece of paper. Make sure that at least one of your goals is in line with a larger goal. If you want to go back to school, for example, one of your goals could be to research universities, or speak to people about their experiences.

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3. Think about what is realistic

Ideal does not mean out of reach. You just have to be a bit realistic about it! Reflect on the week that has just ended - what went right, what went totally wrong, and what you want to work on for next week.

4. Time block

Before you start scheduling your tasks, block out the times you’ve already committed yourself to: school, work, appointments.

5. Plan your tasks

Once you have your schedule and tasks in front of you, it’s time to start planning out your tasks. Some things can be done throughout the week - put that in a weekly to do list. Write down things that have to be done at specific times on the individual days. That way, you won’t forget what you have to do.

Again, be realistic. Look at the time you have left after you have time blocked, and decide what you can get done during those periods.


Ready to plan your ideal week? My Time Planning Kit is the perfect tool for you.


12 Habits of Very Productive Women

ProductivityAlicia LohComment
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We all have so many things to do in a day, and being productive is now a must. The key to this? Having good habits that will keep you on top of your game, focus on what’s important, and most importantly, stay mentally healthy. Whether you’re a total productivity pro or you’re trying to find your rhythm, we could all use a few tips. Here are some habits of productive women that I have learned along the way.

1. Wake up early

Now, I know we all love our sleep, but this one is crucial. Productive people know that mornings are the best time to get things done, before the rest of the world wakes up. There is a surprising amount of things that can be done if you wake up just 30 minutes earlier. You can make a healthy breakfast, read a chapter of a book, write down your to do list, or even get a quick workout in.

Fun fact: I was super productive when I had jet lag in the UK because I woke up at 5am...

2. Take sleep seriously

Waking up early will only work when you are well rested. The safest thing to do is to get a solid 8 hours of sleep, but if you really want to up the game, check out how much sleep you should get depending on how old you are, or this app that wakes you up gently according to your sleep cycle.

3. Enjoy me-time

You’re a total #boss, and you deserve time to yourself to relax and unwind. There’s nothing worse than powering through and crashing, so try to take time out each day for yourself. It can be anything, from reading a book to taking a nice long bath, or going for a walk. For best results, switch off your phone and just enjoy the moment.

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4. Focus on self-improvement

Learning never stops. There’s a lot that you can do, from reading blogs to enrolling in online courses, or even learning a new language. The most productive people know that the world is changing and that they need to learn to adapt to stay on top.

5. Spend time with others

Human beings need connection. For extroverts, this comes easily, but whether you are outgoing or a homebody, it’s really important to make a conscious effort to reach out to people. Give your sister a call, catch up with that old college friend, and absolutely spent quality time with family at home.

6. Take time to reflect

There are so many times while we are chasing productivity that we feel that we haven’t enough, and if you take the time to reflect, you’ll be surprised at how much you have accomplished. Productive people also use reflection time to evaluate their actions and see if they need to change their approach.

The best way to do this is to keep a journal. I’ve kept one ever since I was little - I just found one from when I was 9-years-old! My handwriting was surprisingly nice - and love not only journaling at the end of the day, but also looking back at old entries. You’ll be surprised at what you find, and the lessons you’ll learn in hindsight. I kept a journal throughout university and was amazed at how many things I did during my time in Cambridge, though I wish I had taken the time to write more!

7. Set daily goals

I can’t emphasise this enough, because I know how easy it is to whittle the day away, especially when you focus on the small things. Decide what you want to accomplish the night before or in the morning, and you’ll soon find that you’re more productive than ever. Better yet, set weekly goals each weekend.

8. Create a plan

Setting a goal is one thing, but what will really kick you into gear is creating a plan. It’s so important to know what steps you have to take.

9. Follow a routine

One of the secrets to productivity is routine. There’s a reason why people like Mark Zuckerberg wear basically the same clothes each day, and it’s that routine prevents decision fatigue and gives you space to be creative in other areas of your life.

10. Be grateful

In the middle of all your busyness, don’t forget to set aside time to take stock of what you are grateful for and write it down.

11. Eat a healthy breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Remember, you haven’t eaten in at least 8 hours! Done right, breakfast will give you energy to power through the day, so don’t skimp on this. Everyone has their own favourite power foods - mine is soft-boiled eggs - but the ultimate go-to is something with lots of protein (like eggs, yay!), and fruits are an all-time favourite. Don’t forget to pair this with plenty of water.

12. Eat frogs

First I say to eat a good breakfast, and now I’m asking you to eat frogs, hmm… But seriously, ‘eating a frog’ means getting difficult tasks out of the way first thing in the morning. I know how draining it can be to keep putting off an annoying or hard task, but attacking them before you do anything else has some serious benefits. Completing them will give you a sense of accomplishment that’s perfect to carry you through a productive day, and will also mean that you don’t have something having over your head all day. So go ahead, eat a frog each morning!

Fun fact: I’ve eaten actual frogs...


Do you have habits you love or that make you more productive? Share in the comments, or let me know on Instagram!

A4 vs US Letter: what's the difference?

How To, Tips & Tricks, Tutorials, Ultimate Planner GuideAlicia LohComment
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One of the most frequently-asked questions I've seen is what the difference is between A4 and US Letter, so I wanted to clear the air with a cute infographic!

There isn't actually too much difference when it comes to printing, and if you're using my sheets, you'll find that you can print them on both sizes with no problem at all.

Do you think this is useful? Share it with your friends on Pinterest!

Do you think this is useful? Share it with your friends on Pinterest!


If you're curious about other planner paper sizes, I have a guide just for you! Click here to see an infographic on planner sizes, and find out the differences between A4, A5, personal, pocket, and mini!


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4 Easy Ways to Reach Inbox Zero in 13 Minutes

Productivity, Life Hacks, How To, Tips & TricksAlicia LohComment
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Inbox: ZERO. It’s an elusive number, but it’s possible to get your unread messages all the way down to 0. I see inbox 0 every other day, and even if I’m really busy, the most I’ll let my unread messages get to is 50. At least once a week, I’ll take a few minutes to cut these down to size.

I’ve read a lot of articles about email productivity, but none really use what I’m about to tell you. The methods in this post are free, practical, and really easy to use. Having a clear mind is so important to being productive and just general well-being, and a clean inbox is a step towards that. I’m here to help you tame the beast because it’s so amazing to declutter your digital life, and get the clean inbox that you deserve!

If this sounds exciting to you, read on for 3 really easy ways to give your inbox a new lease on life!

1. Unsubscribe from unwanted newsletters

You’d be surprised at how much these clog up your inbox, so the first thing you want to do is plug the hole and stop more from flooding in!

Head on to Unroll.me - it’s a free service that will pull up all of your subscriptions so you can tick them off and unsubscribe, all in one go.

If you want to do this manually, Gmail has made this easier. Instead of searching for a tiny ‘unsubscribe’ button, there is now one right next to the sender’s email address. If it’s not there, click on the arrow next to your own email address (this should just read ‘me’) in the header of the email, and there will be an ‘unsubscribe’ button. It’s a statutory requirement to have an ‘unsubscribe’ button, so use your right! (And here using the word ‘statutory’ reminds me of that law essay I need to write, hmm.)

2. Delete unwanted emails

I don’t know about you, but I really don’t need an email about a sale that ended last week sitting in my inbox.

Think of it this way: if a shoe brand emails you once a week about a sale, you’ll have 52 emails from them a year. Considering that you probably won’t need to read about sales that have already ended or new releases from last year, that’s at least 52 emails you can get rid of in one fell swoop per newsletter sender.

Find one of these emails, and copy the email address it’s coming from. Paste into the search bar so that all of the past emails from them pop up. Select all, delete, and watch your number of unread emails drop!

It’s such a satisfying feeling and is probably one of my favourite ways to do a quick email declutter!

3. Set up labels

I can’t tell you how much this has changed my life and made my emails so, so much easier to manage. I have 14 filters in my personal email address, and the one I make use of most is my ‘Newsletters’ filter (I think Gmail’s Social and Updates tabs are just really weird… though if you successfully use them, do let me know in the comments!).

To set up a new filter, go to your settings in Gmail, then Labels, and set up a few. I’d recommend starting with Newsletters, as that’s usually the bulk of emails. A few others I use are Personal, Ebay, and Paypal. For my business email, I have Orders, Resources, and Marketing to name a few. Basically, if you’re getting a lot of one type of email that you’d like to be able to sort through together, make a label for it.

Pro tip: you can assign different colours to labels! My favourite colour is pink, so all my Personal emails get a pink label. :)

4. Combine labels with filters

Now, it’s time for the exciting part with filters. By using this, you can set it so that every single email from Brand X gets marked as a Newsletter automatically, and you can even make sure it doesn’t even land in your main inbox or is marked as read immediately.

The easiest way I’ve found to do this is to filter emails as they come, or to select from existing messages. Whenever I get a new newsletter that hasn’t been labelled, I click ‘more’, then ‘filter messages like this’, which means that all emails from this sender will receive the instructions you’re about to give. Go ahead and click ‘create a new filter’.

This next page is where the exciting stuff happens. You can choose to archive all emails from this sender immediately (‘skip the inbox’), but the most important part is to apply a label. Make sure you also apply this filter to all previous emails from this sender with the little tick at the bottom.

Once you’re happy and have sent a nice number of emails into your Newsletter label, your number of unread emails should be on the decline. If you want a completely fresh start, you can always hit select all, and delete all these newsletters. Either way, they will no longer clutter your inbox.

You're all set!

Having a clean inbox is an ongoing process, and if you’ve reached the end of this article, congratulations! You’ve taken a big step. By implementing the methods I use, you can make your inbox automate and clean itself up


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Planner Sizes: Spiral-bound, Disc-bound, and more!

Ultimate Planner GuideAlicia LohComment
planner-sizes-guide.jpg

Since I published my ultimate planner sizes guide for Filofax-style planners, I've received lots of requests to make a guide for the spiral-bound and disc-bound planners like Erin Condren, The Happy Planner by MAMBI, and so many other exciting planners.

I hope you find this useful, and if you have more suggestions, please let me know in the comments or send me a message directly!

Erin Condren

Life Planner Deluxe Monthly Planner Monthly Planner Academic Planner Notebook Journal
7" x 9"
(17.78cm x 22.86cm)
7" x 9"
(17.78cm x 22.86cm)

or

8.5" x 11"
(US Letter)
7" x 9"
(17.78cm x 22.86cm)
7" x 9"
(17.78cm x 22.86cm)
7" x 9"
(17.78cm x 22.86cm)

or

8.5" x 11"
(US Letter)
7" x 9"
(17.78cm x 22.86cm)

or

8.5" x 11"
(US Letter)

MAMBI Happy Planners

Mini Classic Big
4.5" x 7"
(11.43cm x 17.78cm)
7" x 9.25"
(17.78cm x 23.495cm)
8.5" x 11" (US Letter)
(21.59cm x 27.94cm)

Midori Traveler's Notebook (TN)

A5 Regular (Full) Narrow Pocket Passport
6" x 8.24"
(15cm x 21cm)
5" x 8.5"
(13cm x 21cm)
4.5" x 8.5"
(11cm x 21cm)
3.5" x 5.5"
9cm x 14cm
3.5" x 4"
(9cm x 11cm)

ARC Planner by Staples

A4 A5
8.27" x 11.69"
(210mm x 297mm)
6" x 8.24"
(15cm x 21cm)

Others

Day Designer
Flagship Edition
Simplified Planner
by Emily Ley
Passion Planner
Classic
Passion Planner
Compact
7.3" x 9.5"
(18.5cm x 24cm)
6.75" x 9"
(17cm x 23cm)
8.5" x 11" (US Letter)
(21.5cm x 28cm)
5.5" x 8.5"
(14cm x 21cm)

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Why You Don't Have to Set a Word for 2017

GoalsAlicia LohComment
word-of-2017.jpg

Joy, grace, work hard, and limitless. These are some of the words I thought about making my ‘word of 2017’. I've seen the words others have chosen and thought long and hard.

But in the end, I decided that I’m not going to set a word for the year, and you don’t have to either.

Why?

Because it’s hard! No - I’m just kidding (though it’s pretty hard to pick just one!).

The reason you don’t have to set a word for 2017 is simply because there is no reason to limit yourself. Each time I try to pick a word, I realise that I’m going as wide as possible because if a single word is going to set the tone for my whole year, it better well cover every good and positive thing!

But when I thought about what I was doing, I realised that 2017 does not need to be defined. Each year is a fresh chapter to be filled with so many exciting and unexpected things, and there’s absolutely no reason to try to encapsulate all of the wonderful things that’s about to happen into just one word.

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That said, there’s nothing wrong in picking a word if it feels right to you. For me, it was ‘grace’ last year, which I loved and was truly and overarching theme in my whole year. This year, I’ve chosen not to pick a word because (even though I of course want grace this year and the years to come!) I feel that this year is personally one with many possibilities, and I just want the pages to be as open as possible.

Instead, I’ve decided on what I want to focus on this year, and I challenge you to do the same. For me, part of that includes my final university exams before I graduate (eeeek!), figuring out my next steps as I venture into the ‘real world’ (and here, my eeeek! becomes an aaahhh!), and listening to what God wants me to do with my future.

2017 can be anything you want. Plans change - even you change - and it’s hard to pick a word to define your entire year when so many things can happen in 12 months. As long as you know what your priorities are, I’d say that’s your word of the year covered

5 Reasons To Set Your Goals Today

Life Hacks, Productivity, GoalsAlicia LohComment

With the new year just around the year, it's the best time to set your goals! And I know what you're thinking, because I've been there too, setting resolutions that are never accomplished. But goals are so much more than just New Year's resolutions; they are things you want to achieve that you are prepared to work for.

Why is it so important to create goals for yourself? Well...

1. Setting goals gives you a sense of direction

It’s one thing to hit the snooze button and wake up ten minutes late. It’s another to jump out of bed, ready to go. Which way do you want to go?

Having a goal gives you a purpose and a mission - all things that will help you wake up excited to start your day, and I don’t know about you, but that kind of energy makes me feel good.

Also, how many times have we sat down with an extra hour, and just browsed through social media? I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve done that more times I can count, but I’ll also shout that doing this wastes a lot of time. And wasting time = nope. With a goal in mind and an action plan in hand, you’re going to make the most of your hours, and still have time to relax at the end of the day.

2. Goals make the impossible possible

Setting a goal means recognising that your dream is achievable. That yes, it is difficult, but also yes, you can and you will do it.

A goal is something that you can focus on in the long-term. It is more than saying I want my dream job and going to work early for one week. It is deciding what exactly you want, forming a plan, and following through. That is how setting goals makes your dream a reality.

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3. Achieving your goal is fulfilling

There’s nothing like knowing you have accomplished something, whether it’s a big or small goal. It’s a feeling of satisfaction, and it’s a great motivating factor. It also gives you more confidence to pursue more goals in the future!

4. It’s an opportunity for self-reflection

Thinking about your goals in life really forces you to think about what you want. Whether it is really that dream job that you want, or the lifestyle that comes with it; whether you want to do 3,500 things a day, or spend more time with your loved ones (or both!).

This can give you a new view on life, and align what you do each day with your goals.

5. Goals make you accountable

Remember that New Year’s Resolution you made way back in January? If you’re one of those rare people who have stuck to all of them, congratulations! Most people, however, struggle to accomplish half of those resolutions. The main reason is that setting a list of goals once a year just because everyone else is doing it is simply not a great way to hold yourself accountable. And that is a very important factor in accomplishing your goals.

Taking the time to map them out and write down a plan helps a lot, as it makes you accountable to yourself, and helps you nail your goal.