Category: Thrive Thursdays

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6 Ways to Get Over Your Creative Slump

This article brought to you by The Everygirl!!

Have you ever had those moments when you feel like your brain has run out of gas and you’ve encountered a mental roadblock? Where you blankly stare at the computer screen in hopes that your ideas will magically appear? You think it’s just a phase, but after a few weeks (or months), you start to wonder if your creative slump has become permanent.

Going through a creative block, or the blank page syndrome, can happen to the best of us. It can be a result of a mental burnout, criticism, or lack of inspiration. While it might feel like the end of the world, there are ways to overcome your creative slump. Here are six ways to get over your creative slump.

1. Change your routine.

Doing the same thing every day can stunt your creativity. It can prevent you from feeling inspired because you’re not experiencing anything new. Instead, challenge your thought process by switching things up. Rather than using your computer, write with a pen and paper; or work outside instead of in your office. Even the smallest change can trigger your senses, which can help you get out of a creative funk.

Source: Devon Rachel

2. Fill your world with positivity.

It’s hard to be creative when you surround yourself with negativity. Try to think of happy, original thoughts when your environment is toxic. Improve your life by complaining less often and surrounding yourself with positive people. This should illuminate your creativity because you’ll feel inspired by your positive environment.

3. Workout.

Including exercise in your daily routine can positively impact the way your mind works. Not only will it help you physically, but working out releases endorphins, which make your brain very happy. Sometimes people get in creative slumps because they forget to take care of themselves. So, be sure to make your physical well-being a priority.

Source: Monica Wang

4. Stop working and do something else.

Have you ever had one of those moments where you’ve been trying to solve a problem but you couldn’t find a solution until you did something completely different? For instance, you might have thought of it while you were taking a shower or walking the dog. This happens because, during that time, you’re allowing your brain to relax and process information. Rather than fixating on the thought, take a step back and do something else.

Source: Stephanie Sterjovski

5. Daydream.

While your teacher may have scolded you to stop doing this when you were in school, it’s actually a great way to overcome a creative block. Just like the previous point, you’re permitting your brain to relax while imagining different scenarios for the problem you’re trying to solve. This allows you to see the big picture and have an open mind.

6. Embrace it.

Beating yourself up because you’re in a creative slump is not going to get you very far (it may even prolong it). Instead of critiquing your faults, try to accept them. Not being able to produce creative thoughts doesn’t weigh on your ability to produce good work. Embrace the fact that you’re going through a creative block and challenge yourself to overcome it by being empathic to your emotions.

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This Is How You Should Use the First 3 Hours of Your Day

This article is brought to you by Sophie Miura of My Domaine!

While most companies are yet to get the memo, we’re slowly starting to accept that a shorter workweek may actually equate to increased performance. The most productive countries can prove it—people in Luxemburg work six hours per day and make more money on average than people with longer workweeks. So, if you accept the challenge to decrease office hours and increase productivity, how should you go about it?

Psychologist Ron Friedman suggests the answer lies in harnessing the first three hours of your day. “Typically, we have a window of about three hours where we’re really, really focused. We’re able to have some strong contributions in terms of planning, in terms of thinking, in terms of speaking well,” he told The Harvard Business Review last year. Inc. even suggests that honing the first three hours could help you minimize your workweek by up to 20 hoursReady to cut down your hours and supercharge productivity? Here’s how:

  1. Try the 90-90-1 challenge: For the next 90 days, spend the first 90 minutes of your workday on your number one priority. This should be a top-level task, which will stop you from procrastinating by checking email or social media. Write it in a notebook to track your progress.
  2. Eat lean protein: Donald Layman, professor emeritus of nutrition at the University of Illinois, says eating at least one ounce of protein for breakfast will help sustain blood sugar levels in the morning and stop food-related distractions.
  3. Listen to brain music: Psychologist Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis recommends listening to music on repeat to improve focus. Research suggests classical music is the best option to boost brain function.

 

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3 Life Skills That Are Difficult to Learn but Will Pay Off Forever

This article is brought to you by Kelsey Clark of MyDomaine!

Life in your 20s and 30s can leave you feeling confused, exhilarated, and in desperate need of some sort of all-knowing guidebook to decipher all that life throws at you. This is especially true when it comes to some of life’s most fruitful lessons, which may masquerade themselves as intimidating, seemingly insurmountable challenges. In an effort to declutter what is often an indecipherable road map, we’re breaking down the life skills that are, admittedly, difficult to master but extremely rewarding once you do so. With the help of Business Insider, here are three complex yet essential life skills well worth your time and effort:

Listening

You may think you mastered this life skill in elementary school, but you’d be surprised to find how many full-grown adults still struggle with listening—especially in the workplace. “Most of us … are so overwhelmed with things to do—instant messaging, phones ringing. I mean, our brain can only tolerate so much information before it snaps,” said Nicole Lipkin, author of What Keeps Leaders Up at Night, as quoted by Business Insider. Lipkin recommends actively listening to the ideas of those around you, instead of only focusing on voicing your own. “It makes things so much easier when everyone is on the same page,” she said.

Staying present in the moment

This important life skill may come naturally as a child but takes active concentration and awareness as an adult. “People are less happy when they’re mind-wandering [rather than focusing on the present], no matter what they’re doing,” said happiness researcher Matt Killingsworth as quoted by Business Insider. Killingsworth claims that around 47% of the time, people are thinking about something other than what they’re currently doing—a mind-set that can impede feelings of happiness.

Positive self-talk

Believe it or not, this third life skill was not plucked straight out of a self-help book. It will, however, come in handy once you realize that teen years spent fishing for compliments yield little in the way of actual self-confidence. “Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what others think of you,” writes Quora user Shobit Singhal when reflecting on the importance of positive self-talk. “What you think of yourself certainly does, and it takes time to build that level of confidence and ability to believe in yourself when nobody else does.”

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The Power of One Focused Hour a Day

This article if brought to you by Srinivas Rao of The Mission!

People frequently cite the lack of time to work on any creative endeavor or project. But if you choose to focus on the quality of the time you put into your efforts rather than the quantity, it can make a big difference.

One focused hour a day can produce amazing results.

The reason I’m so religious about protecting my time in the first few hours of my day is that I know it’s when I’m most prolific, productive and creative. To waste this time would be to waste one of my most valuable assets. This time is mine. It’s blocked out on my calendar as “creation time.” Because of that nobody calls me, nobody schedules meetings with me or bothers me during this time. Most of what I write is produced during this one focused hour.

  • With one focused hour a day you can write a book within a year, write 1000 words a day or finish a 45,000-word manuscript in 6 months.
  • With one focused hour a day you can easily develop a daily writing habit, and even write something daily as Seth Godin does.
  • With one focused hour a day you can make time to read the books you’ve been wanting to read.
  • With one focused hour you can find flow and build momentum for your creative endeavor
  • With one focused hour a day you can learn a new language

One focused hour a day can make the difference between getting your ass kicked by resistance and not, between working like a professional or an amateur.

Making Time and Putting in Safeguards for Your Focused Hour

One of the easiest ways to make the time for your focused hour is to download the Google Calendar app. The app has a feature called “goals” that allows you to pick a goal and tell it for how long, what time of day and how many times a week you want to work on that goal. The app finds the time on your calendar and schedules it. Set it and forget it. Now you have a constant reminder of the goal you’re working on.

Side Note: Calendars are more effective than to do lists, (a topic for another article), but try scheduling your one focused hour and see for yourself.Here’s a screenshot from one of my days.

As you’ll see I’ve made time for reading daily and watching an interview series that I wanted to get through. Thanks to the calendar I’ve watched at least 6 of the 30 interviews that Chase Jarvis has produced.

I’ve mentioned the safeguards in several previous pieces I’ve written:

  • Nobody changed the world by checking their email, so don’t check email during this hour.
  • To reap the benefits of this focused hour, you have to eliminate all sources of distraction.
  • Optimize your life for deep work and shut your phone off
  • Try not to schedule any meetings during this time. Make it clear that this time is YOURS.

Wake up an hour earlier, use your lunch hour, skip the commute home and go to a coffee shop until traffic dies down. If something truly matters, you have to make the time.

Doing deep work is about focused success in a distracted world. It’s about limiting your temptation for excessive consumption. Sometimes all you need is one focused hour a day.

 

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5 Things I Learned from 5 Years of Marriage

This article brought to you by Daryl Lindsey of The Everygirl. You can find it and many more here!

Last week, my husband and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary. FIVE YEARS. I know, I can barely believe it myself. When we first married, I thought we’d spend year five on a luxurious island vacation, stretched out on the beach of a high-end resort. In reality, we spent the weekend camping with our dog, only an hour away from the home we spend every free minute trying to renovate on our own.

The way we chose to celebrate our anniversary isn’t the only thing that turned out differently than I’d expected; my husband and I are, inarguably, both very different people than we were on our wedding day. Our political views, career paths, even our general life plans all shifted throughout the last five years—but we’re still together, we’re still in love, and we’re still happy.


Marriage, Year One

Our partnership is unglamorous. We regularly get caught up in the day-to-day, don’t always kiss hello or goodbye, and more often than not date night consists of laying in bed, streaming Netflix shows on a laptop and eating pizza. If you listen to what Hollywood says about true love, you might think we let our passion die and we’re well on our way to marital turmoil. Before I got married, I might have thought that too.

Half a decade later, I know better.

Here are five lessons learned from five years of marriage:

 

1. Any married person who says they’ve never considered divorce is lying.

Newsflash: Marriage is hard. I think a lot of couples hear that age-old phrase and interpret it to mean “marriage is hard…for other people.” You’re in for a rude awakening, I promise. Your downs are always going to seem longer than your ups, even if they aren’t. At some point, marriage will feel like an anchor tying you down to keep you from reaching your full potential, even if that’s not the case. And when that starts to happen, a little voice in the back of your mind will start chanting: Divorce! Divorce! Divorce!

More often than not, those voices go away. But if they don’t—open communication with your spouse is just about the only thing that’s going to fix it. I think there’s a societal shame in admitting that it happens, which then prevents couples from openly talking about it. Keeping quiet about marital problems is a recipe for disaster; your silence will calcify into resentment. Chances are, if you clearly communicate to your partner that their behavior hurts you and makes you want to leave, they will want to do whatever they can to fix what’s broken. It’s when one of you stops trying that you might have something to worry about.

2. Cherish every stage.

The honeymoon stage. The pre-baby stage. The homeowner stage. Marriage will exist in a series of stages, some tortuously long and some impossibly short. You’re not required to follow any specific timeline, but be present enough to love where you’re at in each stage, regardless of your plans. If you can’t take the time to be happy together in your one-bedroom apartment, you probably won’t find happiness inside a four-bedroom house.

Five years will fly by, so worry a little less about your next big step and make sure you find a reason each day to love your spouse, love being married, love being alive. 

3. Have hobbies outside of one another.

I’ve written before about the dangers of losing yourself in a relationship. It’s so easy to let yourself only exist as a couple, to disappear inside the romance until you’re unable to see yourself outside of the context of your marriage. Maintaining your sense of self is crucial to any successful partnership; you aren’t two halves that complete each other, but two wholes making the decision to navigate the world together.

4. But, maybe share a hobby or two as well.

After several years of marriage, it’s easy to fall into a routine where all you talk about with your spouse is logistics: the mortgage, the kids, whose turn it is to do what, and so on. This happened to my husband and me around year three. It felt awkward to sit down and address the problem, but we figured out quickly there were two things we really like to do together: working out and mountain biking. Those things are ours now, and it always feels a little special when we head to the gym or to the mountains.

5. Make support your number one priority.

My husband is the most supportive person I know. Whenever I feel like I’m facing some insurmountable task, whether that’s switching careers or going to therapy, he never questions my abilities or makes me feel incapable. No matter how outrageous my goal, his first reaction is always “OK, let’s do it. How do we get there?” In this respect, I am in awe of him.

As I mentioned earlier, you’re going to have ups and downs. There will be times when everything clicks, and times when you feel like you’re living with a stranger. Times when the sex is oh-my-god-everything-you’ve-ever-wanted good, and times when it’s just OK because you know what, you’re both tired and you have a morning conference call and maybe you had a big dinner earlier. When things are beginning to seem less-than-perfect, that feeling of support can supersede trivial feelings of doubt. Romance and passion are nice to have, but to me, true love is feeling safe and wanted and understood—and making sure your spouse feels the same.


Marriage, Year Five

I’m not a marriage expert. I’m not a relationship therapist. I’m just a girl, standing in front of a boy, asking him to love her and also share a 401k and a dental plan. Five years of marriage have taught me countless lessons about being a partner, a lover, even just a human being. I’m not perfect, but I’m also not done learning.

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How Do I Utilize My Mentor?

This article brought to you by The Everygirl!

Now that you have found a mentor, how do you make the best use of this relationship? Ideally, you’ve picked someone who can assist you with a very specific aspect of your career as opposed to having sought out a life guru who you’re tapping for overall inspiration. You’ll get out of a mentoring relationship as much as you put into it, so here are a few things to consider as you move forward with your mentor.

How often should you meet?

How frequently you’ll meet your mentor depends on what type of help they’re providing and also what your schedule allows. Regularly scheduled meetings can keep a relationship on track, but you may have things come up that require your mentor’s immediate insight. The most important aspect of setting a meeting frequency is that expectations are transparently communicated and agreed on by both parties. Without setting meeting frequency ground rules from the beginning, you run the risk of your mentor feeling either overextended or underutilized.

A good way to bring this up can be to, again, focus on a specific project or outcome and negotiate around that topic. “I’m hoping to attend three professional conferences this year to expand my network and brush up on my programming skills. Could we meet a couple of times over the summer to discuss this? I have a list of several I’m looking at but would love to know which you would recommend or might also be attending.”

This type of a tee up does a few things for you. First, it outlines your narrow goal and also shows that you’re willing to do some legwork—not all of the success of the outcome is hinging on your mentor coming up with things for you to do. Second, it sets a general time frame (over the summer) that your mentor can more easily agree to. Lastly, you’ve laid out your specific ask, which includes their opinion on the value of the conferences you’ve selected, along with a soft-ask to potentially join them. Structuring a meeting frequency proposal similar to this ensures you are both on the same page with expectations and how to move forward!

What can they help you with?

What you’re looking for from a mentor can be an iterative process, where you collectively brainstorm over the best ways to leverage their expertise as well as contribute to your goals. Here are a couple of possible avenues:

  • Introductions: Leveraging your mentor’s relationships with other professionals is a great way to gain insight on a new industry or company. You’ll want to be careful that your mentor doesn’t feel as though you’re abusing their network, but most would be happy to broker introductions to people you’re interested in meeting.
  • Learning opportunities: Brushing up on skills and adding a few new business cards to your stack are just some of the benefits of attending conferences or industry events. Pulse your mentor for events that they regularly attend, and as a bonus, ask if you might be able to join them!
  • Workplace dynamics support: Keeping frustrations in check at the office or finding your voice in difficult management situations are things we’ve all dealt with. A mentor can be a great place to constructively discuss ways you can tackle these challenges and inspire you to be courageous in crucial conversations.
  • Work life balance: Mentors are great sounding boards for getting perspective on balancing our personal and professional commitments. Time management, organization systems, and how they manage to contribute to other areas like family, friends, and volunteer goals are all good topics of conversation.
  • Resources for growth: A mentor whose technical or functional skills you admire can be a great person to recommend current publications and books that will keep you on top of your game, as well as any professional associations or certifications you might want to consider.
  • Innovating new ideas: Some people have a knack for brainstorming or facilitating idea conversations even when they’re not an expert in the field. If you’re looking for help to innovate some new work solutions, consider tapping a mentor from your academic circles. They’re often able to think of things in a structured way and approach problems as teaching moments.
  • Dress rehearsals: Have a big presentation, ready to negotiate your compensation, or interview for a new gig? Holding a “dress rehearsal” with your mentor is another good way to get honest constructive feedback from someone with no stake in the game.
  • Refining emotional intelligence: Emotional intelligence is a key component of leadership and succeeding in the workplace. Polishing these skills are just as important as any others, and a mentor can assist you in refining your approach to contentious situations, help you sharpen your social skills, or assist you in reflecting on some of the non-verbal and body language vibes you give off.
  • Sourcing new opportunities: If you’re considering a new job opportunity, your mentor can thoughtfully and objectively help you weigh the pros and cons of taking on a new role. Here, you probably benefit most if your mentor is familiar with both your current work and company as well some idea of what you’d be moving on to.

How can you give back?

Mentoring isn’t always a one-way street! You’ll, of course, be regularly expressing your gratitude for your mentor’s time and efforts, but also think about unique ways to give back. Is there a cause your mentor cares about or a skill you could help them with? For example, maybe your mentor’s favorite volunteer cause is looking for extra hands for a fundraising event. Offering to assist not only gives you face-to-face time with her, but also serves to deepen your relationship and build trust.

Staying attuned to what’s going on in their world makes you a responsible and responsive mentee, which is not just great to do anyway, but will of course make them more inclined to keep helping you! One of the ways we like to stay both thoughtful and at the top of mind of our mentors is to regularly email them articles that we know would be of shared interest or make for a great topic of discussion when we see them next. It’s thoughtful, takes two seconds, and makes you look uber-prepared and professional.

Mentoring relationships are successful when they are centered on a discrete objective and when the agreement to remain in a relationship is refreshed over time. You’ll likely start to see if your mentor is wiling to engage in a more long-term mentoring relationship which will probably develop organically as you keep meeting. That said, revisiting the initial terms of your proposal makes you look professional and honors your contact’s time if their own commitments and schedule has changed.

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5 Podcasts We’re Loving Right Now!

I’ll admit, a few years ago I jumped on the “Serial” bandwagon. Not only did I fall in love with the show, but it opened my eyes to the world of podcasts. Needless to say, I’ve been hooked ever since. I try to listen to a podcast every time I’m driving in the car or getting ready for the day. Today, I’m sharing a few that I’ve been listening to and loving. I’d love to hear in the comments any podcasts that you enjoy!

Monocycle: Monocycle is a podcast by Leandra Medine of Man Repeller. Her short, honest podcast tackles a range of topics—from productivity to her journey with infertility. I enjoy hearing Leandra’s sarcastic and to-the-point writing come to life on the air. I also really like “Oh Boy,” another podcast she produces (but doesn’t host). “Oh Boy” features in-depth conversations with interesting women.

Coffee + Crumbs: As a new mom, I’m always on the hunt for podcasts and blogs that tackle motherhood. This new podcast, which is born from the popular blog of the same name, does just that and more.

Pardon My French By Garance Doré: I love artist, photographer and blogger Garance Doré’s work, so it’s no surprise that her podcast is equally as inspiring. She offers advice and insight into everything from summer travel ideas to moving to New York City. I especially enjoy her interviews with different creatives.

The Lively Show: This podcast is one of the first I started subscribing to after getting hooked on “Serial.” It’s tagline is: “Add a little extra intention to your every day.” Blogger Jess Lively inspires to do this through interviews covering a ton of different topics ranging from relationships and career advice to wellness and design. Our founder, Taylor, appeared on the show a few years ago (check it out here)!

Cherry Bombe Radio: This podcast is a companion to the popular print magazine of the same title. Cherry Bombe celebrates women and food. It’s interesting and educational.

For this article and more, check out The Glitter Guide!

leisure

5 Ways a Workaholic Can Master Leisure

Workaholics, welcome. You’ll find no shame here. We love our jobs too—a lot. In fact, we can get downright boastful about to the daily devotion and tenacity required to navigate our chronically overbooked schedules. As a culture, we’ve come to equate business with significance, but the fact remains: Our brains need rest. Want to maintain peak performance? Take a vacation. Going off the grid, however, isn’t all that easy for some of us. That’s why we’ve cobbled together some tips to hack your brain into delivering the maximum return on your leisure investment. Relax, this is going to be productive.

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5 Tips to Stop Obsessive Thinking

Do you ever feel like a prisoner in your own mind? Do you constantly replay or obsess over negative situations? If you answered yes, then we are here to help. Obsessive thinking, also known as rumination, is like a hamster wheel or a broken record that plays the same bad song over and over again.

For anxious folks, even when life is going well, we tend to hyper-focus on the negative. It’s as if our brains work to hold on to the negative experiences and release the positive. Rumination can be a problem because it rarely offers new insights or solutions on how to handle a situation. Instead it emotionally hijacks us and intensifies our negative feelings.

So, how can we free ourselves from ruminating? Consider these tools for a less anxious you:

1. Increase Awareness 
The first step in changing any behavior is becoming conscious of it when it arises. We have to recognize our patterns before we can change them. Often when we are stuck in a cognitive loop, we engage in a well-established habit. It’s similar to biting nails or checking social media every few minutes—it happens unconsciously. The next time you catch yourself ruminating, think: “Stop!” (Say it out loud to break the loop.) I also have my clients practice visualization: imagine taking a current thought and putting it in a trashcan. I had one client put a rubber band around her wrist and snap it every time she ruminated to remind her to stop.

2. Name It
When we are caught in the cycle of rumination, generally there is an underlying fear that something bad is going to happen. You might be obsessing over a mistake at work, an unfinished conversation with your partner, a fight with a friend, or not living the life you envisioned for yourself. Whatever the reason, try to sum up your rumination into one single sentence: “I am scared that I may lose my job” or “I’m angry at my friend for the way she treated me.” You gain control by being able to address the real situation. If you can identify your greatest worry/fear, ask yourself, “What’s the worst thing that can happen? Can I handle that?” Most likely, the answer is yes. You’ll deal with it in the moment just like you’ve always dealt with any hardship.

3. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on your present moment experience. We spend so much time dwelling on past mistakes or worrying about future events that we spend very little time in the here and now. The practice of mindfulness can help us reduce our “thinking” selves and increase our “sensing” selves. A good example: any time you find yourself in “auto-pilot.” For instance, the next time you are eating lunch, try not giving into the impulse to check your emails (or other social media). Instead focus on what you see, hear, smell, feel, and taste. This can help ground you in the present moment. When you catch your attention wandering into the past or future, gently guide yourself back to the present moment and remember: The future does not exist anywhere but in your mind.

4. Acceptance
Take a moment and think about the source of your anxieties. I imagine a lot of them have to do with future projections or past hurts, mistakes, or regrets. Do your best to accept your situation as it is right now. I know how hard this can be, and I also know that pain and suffering gets worse depending on how we think about it. Try to lean into your feelings and take them for what they are. We often feel sad because we feel sad, are angry because we feel angry, and so on. Accept your current state as it is. Stop wanting things to be different. When you find yourself obsessing about the past or worrying about the future, ask yourself the following question: “Can I do anything about this right now?” If the answer is no, do your best to accept what is. Take a breath and do something that brings you joy. If the answer is yes, identify what you can do and do it.

5. Schedule a Worry Break
My clients often report how hard it is for them to fall asleep at night because they can’t quiet their minds. I can really relate to this. For me, for a long time, falling asleep was like a rumination carnival. I would feel fine all day and at bedtime my thoughts bounced all over the place—relationships, body image, career, finances, the future, and what I was going to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. It was exhausting and it kept me awake and anxious. After trial and error, I found that allowing myself a short period of time to worry (about 15 to 30 minutes) helped me have better boundaries. During the “worry time” I write down what’s on my mind. At night when my thoughts keep me awake, I say to myself, “Nothing is going to get solved right now, it’s time to sleep. You can think about it tomorrow.”

Working on yourself in this way can be exhausting, I know. Honestly, it’s not easy; the concepts themselves are easy. But enacting them? That’s another story. Like any new skill, it takes practice, repetition, and self-love. Be compassionate with yourself and remember you don’t have to do it all at once—don’t feel like you’ve failed if you have a fearful or anxious thought. This is not a linear process and frankly, a certain amount of fear and anxiety is normal. However, if ruminative thoughts are interfering with living the life you want to live, consider reaching out for help. Therapy is a great way to learn how to use these techniques with the help and guidance of a professional.

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6 Tips to Spring Clean Your Financial Goals

Spring is a great time to check in on any financial goals you set for 2016 and fine tune your efforts. Whether you’ve gotten off track with budgeting or are just ready for a refresh, here are six ways you can spring clean your financial goals and set yourself up for success for the rest of the year!

1. Check in on debt.

If one of your objectives this year was to pay down debt, check in on how that process is going—think about what is working well or could be improved. If you haven’t done as well as you’d planned, try not to focus on the lack of progress and simply reset your goal, starting now. Most importantly, take a look at what got in your way. Did you overshoot what you’d be able to tackle this year? Did an unexpected expense sneak up on you? Identifying why you fell off track on debt reduction can also point to other areas that you want to refresh in your financial picture.

If you’re looking for a place to start to tackle debt you might consider taking on a card or account with the lowest balance, similar to the”snowball” method. Yet you might be tempted to pick a balance with the highest rate, and there are plenty of good reasons for doing so. But you will gain momentum and traction by feeling like you can complete your debt pay goal before year’s end, so keep that in mind.

2. Revamp your budget.

Take a look at how your spending habits are progressing. Are your expenses lining up as expected or did you have an unplanned change in income? If you’ve gotten a bit off track with budgeting, you may consider trying a different budget methodology.

If you were lucky enough to get an unexpected raise this year (nice work, girl!) ensure you’re putting that money to use wisely. See if you can painlessly bump up your retirement contribution by a percentage or two, or increase automatic payments toward paying down debt. Shortly after an annual increase can be one of the best times to revamp your budget because that money can be redistributed toward your financial goals—without you even missing it!

3. Prioritize savings.

Likewise, savings plans go hand in hand with making sure your budget is on track. If you haven’t established an emergency fund with a few months of living expenses, that’s something to move to the front of the priority list. Now is also a great time to start thinking about setting up a spending plan for the holidays or any special events happening toward the end of the year. Sketching out a budget now for big purchases (like holiday gifts) is a great thing to do well in advance—you’re less likely to make impulse purchases and be more realistic with spending when removed from the holiday hustle and bustle!

4. Review financial documents.

Now that you’ve filed your taxes and we’re well into 2016, be sure you’re only hanging onto the financial records you need. Digital or otherwise, it’s a good idea to keep tax documents for seven years. It’s also valuable to do a quick clean up of any electronic statements. If you keep them in email or on a hard drive, take a few minutes to separate them into folders or delete copies you no longer need. If you still have stacks of paper documents, digitize them and place into the electronic financial folders you created. Clear out the clutter of unnecessary financial documents!

Also, check in on your credit statements. Reviewing them thoroughly is a good idea (at least once per year) so you understand your credit scoreand overall debt. It’s also important to review your credit report to be sure there are no errors—it can be one of the first indicators that you may have been victim of identity theft.

5. Brush up on your money know how.

If one of your 2016 goals was to become more financially savvy, consider recommitting to a weekly financial podcast or reading strategy to up your game in the personal finance department. If you’re feeling really committed, consider swapping out a next Netflix marathon with a free online course (like Khan Academy or Coursera) that makes financial and economic concepts easy to understand. Lastly, consider poking around your favorite news sources or the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times.It’s also fairly easy find a few finance experts to follow on social media for a daily dose of new financial ideas.

6. Tweak your taxes.

While getting a big tax return can feel like a fun surprise “bonus,” it actually means you gave Uncle Sam an interest free loan last year! Instead of waiting until next year to get that money back, take a few minutes to tweak your deductions and withholdings to ensure you’re coming out at the end of the year as balanced as possible. Always be sure you’re including a tax professional in these conversations to understand how to make tax time easier, as everyone’s personal tax situations vary.

If you’re a gal who is set on staying in “refund” territory, consider having a detailed action plan for that money as soon as you get it back—whether it’s applying the funds directly to student loan debt or immediately putting it into emergency savings. Having a goal in mind now will help you avoid fettering it away on smaller purchases or impulse buys down the line.

Do you tidy up your money habits this time of year? What finance spring cleaning tips did we miss?

For this article and more, check out The Everygirl!