A CoSchedule Review & How I Found Blogging FREEDOM

This post contains my affiliate link. Please see my Disclosure Policy for more information.

How I found Blogging FREEDOM with CoSchedule

Hey Blogger Friends!  I have something awesome to share with you today.

Have you been there?  And by there, I mean the feeling of being chained to your blog.  (I’m not talking about the fun of blogging, I am talking about the logistics of blogging.)  Not scheduling enough.  Trying to get all your Facebook and Twitter posts out when they need to get out.  Changing one post on your editorial calendar resulting in an avalanche of resetting social media posts.  Hopping on at just the right times to pin that image, but forgetting to do it and finding yourself completely frustrated that you can’t do it all.  Yeah, me too!

This is why I am so excited to tell you about CoSchedule.  CoSchedule is a drag-and-drop editorial calendar for WordPress that puts your blog posts and social media messages on the same schedule.  What does this mean?  …FREEDOM!

A CoSchedule Review & 7 Ways it Means

Freedom for Bloggers:

 

CoSchedule-Large-Cover

 

1.  Awesome Integration with WordPress = We are Free to Work on What We Want

CoSchedule integrates beautifully with WordPress.  I can be writing a post and scroll down to schedule all my social media posts without even leaving WordPress.  No new tabs.  No other websites.  No extra clicking.  No signing in.  Now, we can save time and can focus on the real work.

CoSchedule-WordPressEditPost

 

2.  Ease of Scheduling = Freedom of Attention

I had gotten to the point where I was waking up super early, publishing a post and then trying to hurry through all my social media posting before my kids woke up.  I did occassionally use another scheduler, but it didn’t give me all the options that CoSchedule does.

Since using CoSchedule, I may not even think about a post when it goes live because I know that it is being shared on Facebook an hour later, tweeted at set times throughout the day and shared on Pinterest at the times my audience is on.

CoSchedule makes it easy and now we can be free to spend our attention elsewhere . . . like the sweet kiddos who live in our houses.

CoSchedule-CreateSocialMessage

3.  We Can Schedule Pins = Freedom to Be Offline During Peak Pinterest Times

Update 9/2014:  CoSchedule was having problems with scheduled pins and has since removed the feature until they can guarantee quality service in this area.  I am still using their services and hoping it comes back soon.

Wait, did you catch this?  YOU.CAN.SCHEDULE.PINS.  Yes, I see you doing the happy dance.  It is true.  We can finally schedule pins to the board of our choice at anytime we like!  No more stressing about trying to be present and online at peak times.

CoSchedule allows you to schedule pins

4.  We Can Drag & Drop Posts on our Editorial Calendars = We Are Free to Change Our Minds

All the husbands of female bloggers should applaud at this moment.  As scheduled as you may like to be in blogging, things come up that cause us to add in an extra post or reschedule something for another time.  With CoSchedule, you can drag and drop on the CoSchedule calendar.  And what’s even more amazing, depending on how you scheduled your social media shares (hours/days from publication vs. choosing a date and time), your social media posts either move automatically or you can drag and drop them as well!

It is so easy to change your mind and reschedule!

CoSchedule-Calendar

 

5.  Good Tech Support = Free from Frustration

I had one little glitch with my account so I emailed support.  I heard back in a very reasonable amount of time and they were so kind and helpful.  I was quite impressed.  Their support team wants you to have a terrific experience.

 

 6.  CoSchedule is Easy to Learn = Free from a Long Learning Curve

CoSchedule does a really nice job of getting you and up going very quickly.  The software makes sense and you can catch on easily.

CoSchedule-EditPost-2

 

7.  Analytics = Freedom to Improve 

If you’re a blogger, you probably know the value of analytics in showing you what is working and what is not.  With CoSchedule’s analytics, you can see what posts are getting shared across which social media outlets.  This kind of information is immensely helpful when you are trying to improve.

CoSchedule-UserDashboard

 

Now, you may be thinking that this all this freedom sounds great, but what is the cost?  CoSchedule is only $10/month.  With its ability to integrate with WordPress, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Buffer, Pinterest and even Google+ Pages, I think it is $10 well spent!

Interested in Learning More?  Click here to join me in blogging freedom!

 Can’t see the video?  Go here.

 

The YardSailr App & an Amazon $75 Giveaway

YardSailr Review and an Amazon Gift Card Giveaway

 

Do you secretly get a little giddy when you’re walking up a driveway to a yard sale?

Are you excited to discover yard sale treasures?

Do you like to save money by shopping garage sales for your kids’ toys and clothing?

If so, you may be a YARDSAILR.

I shop yard sales for toys, kids’ clothing and entertaining wares.  Of course, there are the random items that call my name while shopping, the old furniture longing to be repurposed and the craft projects just looking for a new home.  And if you want to talk parties and entertaining, I find yard sales to be a great way to save some dough as you build a collection of goods for your next event.

Yes, I.love.yard.sales.

And that is why I am so excited to introduce you to YardSailr, a fantastic new (& free) app that finally makes it easy to find local yard sales and list your own.

 

IMG_4477

 

Here is how it works (it couldn’t be easier): 

Go to the website or download the Yardsailr app (available in the App Store or Google Play).  Turn on your device’s location services or enter your zip code.  Select the number of miles in which you want results.  See the listings, hop in the car and shop!  Didn’t I tell you it was easy?

 

IMG_4482

 

What’s to Love about the YardSailr App:

You don’t have to search through a long list of yard sales that are far away.  Unlike Craigslist, you have complete control over your search parameters.  Only want to shop sales within 5 miles of your location?  It’s possible.  For my area, Craiglist shows all the Greater Cleveland sales…ALL!  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time to sort through the a long list of garage sales, most of which are over an hour away.  With YardSailr, you enter your zip code and choose a radius.  Awesome, right?

Photos show up in the search results listing.  No need to click on each sale, to find out if there are photos from the seller.  They are right there in the search results.  I don’t know about you, but I love seeing pictures.

YardSailr Listing

The website and app are convenient and easy to use.  I like the way it is structured and organized.  It just makes plain old sense!

One thing I did notice was that occasionally the address showed as a range in the search (ie. 105-125 Main Street).  If this happens for you, just double check the address given by the seller and you’ll be fine.

Listing your own sale is a breeze.  I listed my cousin’s sale in minutes and was even able to check mark categories of items being sold (toys, collectibles, tools, etc.).

yardsailr listing 2

 

All in all, the YardSailr app is great and simple to use.  It makes finding the local yard sales easy.  YardSailr has a permanent place on my phone.  

 

The Giveaway:

To celebrate their great new app, YardSailr is graciously giving away a $75 Amazon Gift Card to one of our readers.  The giveaway ends Monday, August 4th at 11:59pm and there are lots of ways to earn extra entries, including a bonus for downloading the app.  Use it and love it, friends!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

yardsailr listing 3

 

Disclosure:  I am being compensated in the form of advertising for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  Please see my Disclosure Policy for more information.

How to Organize a Neighborhood Garage Sale

how to organize a neighborhood garage sale.

There is one very big advantage the neighborhood garage sale has over the individual sale:  TRAFFIC.  This was the tipping point for me when I was deciding whether to host my own sale or organize a neighborhood garage sale.

My neighborhood has hosted annual garage sales for years thanks to my friend, Jackie.  I had helped her with online promoting and I knew some of what she was doing to prepare.  But last year, Jackie moved and I had to decide whether or not I wanted TRAFFIC for my own garage sale.

We all know there are people who only shop the neighborhood garage sales (a’hem, me included).  It is so nice to hit many houses at once than to drive 20 minutes and find the lone sale in the middle of nowhere.

A neighborhood garage sale allows for pooled advertising, but don’t forget about all that free advertising across multiple neighbors’ social media sites.  Invaluable!

How to Organize a Neighborhood Garage Sale

1.  Talk to a few of your neighbors.  Know that you have a couple other houses guaranteed to sell with you.  

My neighborhood is huge.  Out of 240 houses, I know I’ll have at least 20, more likely 30 and in fact this year, we had 39!

2.  Pick the dates.  Choose a Thursday, Friday & Saturday.  (Thursday is a great garage sale day!)

3.  Start a Neighborhood Garage Sale Facebook Page.  You’ll see why you need this later.

4.  If you are part of an association, find out if you have a budget or will be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenses.  If there is no reimbursement, consider asking neighbors to chip in $5-10 for advertising and sign expenses.  However you cut it, this is less than if someone were doing it on their own.

5.  Get the word out to the entire neighborhood.  We do this by printing and cutting 1/2 sheets of paper stuffed in newspaper boxes.  Include the dates, your contact information for those who want to participate, your Neighborhood Garage Sale Facebook page and a plea for help in promoting.

If you will be asking for help with expenses, note this here.  Be sure to mention the date people need to let you know by.  If your town requires a permit, give yourself a window of a couple days before the sale starts to stop and pick it up.

Make sure you ask all sellers to provide you with their name, phone number, home address and email address.  Email is so convenient when conveying information to all the sellers quickly.

6.  Advertise in your local papers.  This may be your biggest expense.  Include neighborhood name, dates, times and general location.

7.  Advertise online.  Promote the garage sale in local Facebook selling groups and Craigslist.  Check and see if any of your local news stations have an online garage sale connection.

Start promoting the sale on your Neighborhood Garage Sale Facebook page.  Share anything to drive interest such as:  asking neighbors to share the page, sharing the number of houses that are currently signed up to participate or encouragement to get rid of clutter.  Be upbeat and exciting.

8.  Print fliers for the community.  Place the fliers at the grocery store, local restaurant, school, office . . . wherever people go and may learn about this awesome garage sale you are planning.

9.  Get a permit, if needed.  For our city, I was able to get one permit for the entire neighborhood.  I turned in a list of all houses participating and did this the Tuesday before the sale.

10.  Make a map & flier.  This was one of the best “free” advertising tools and you’ll see why.  I have been to community sales where you can pick up a flier that has a map of the neighborhood and know exactly where every house is selling.  While this is ideal, I didn’t want to print hundreds of them.

Instead, I created a digital map, promoted it on our Facebook page and asked each house to print and hang one.  The beauty of the garage sale’s Facebook page was that because so many neighbors shared the map, over 2600 people saw it in their feeds and heard about the garage sale!  Don’t miss #11 so you can add a dedicated url to the bottom of your map flier.

HOW TO MAKE A MAP WITHOUT CRYING – Go to Yard Sale Treasure Map.  Click on the “Add Sales” tab and then click on “Spreadsheet Tool (new).”  Enter in all the addresses of the houses.  Adjust the size of the map to focus on the houses and main street for point of reference.  Take a screen shot and then edit that photo.  (I use a Picasa because it captures the screen shots for quick editing.)

11.  Post the map on a free website so you can get a dedicated url.  Whether to help social media sharing or quick reference for shoppers’ smartphones, add a url to the bottom of your map’s flier.

I use a site called Tackk.com.  I have an account and can post all kinds of things to share.  I chose to keep this map private unless you have the link and one awesome thing . . . you can customize your url.  Mine was simply tackk.com/[neighborhood’s name].

12.  Put out signs and balloons.  We put a sign out on the main street the week prior and add balloons for the sale.  If your neighborhood is large and may be considered confusing to a new-comer, you may choose to hang smaller signs from the street sign of the various streets containing sellers.

13.  Sell, sell, sell.  Make all your work worth it by having your own successful garage sale.

  • Put a sign out by the end of your drive or balloons on your mailbox.  Let people know you are there.
  • Price things well.  Remember, this is a garage sale.  People are looking for bargains.  
  • Consider a 1/2 off day for Saturday.  At that point, you’ll probably want to get rid of anything that is left.

14.  Call a charity or church that will come pick up what remains and share this information with your neighbors.  In our area, we have the veterans and a couple local church ministries that will take items either to be sold to raise money for missions or simply given away to bless others.  Several of these groups will come to the house to pick up items when scheduled in advance.  All you have to do is box it up and leave it on your front porch.

lemonade stand

Incidentally, we made a lemonade stand (for a party I have coming up) and the kids sold lemonade for a quarter.  I don’t know whether it was the fantastic stand or the adorable kids, but they made $40!

Have you had a garage sale?  Tell us your experience!  

You May Also Like:  

the-best-garage-sale-find-of-the-year-oh-how-i-love-entertaining

Say Goodbye To Survival Mode by Crystal Paine

9781400206469_p0_v2_s260x420

When I first heard that Crystal Paine had written a new book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, I knew it was a book I wanted to read.  It is far too easy to load up on commitments, stretch yourself thin and end up utterly overwhelmed and exhausted.  Have you been there [too]?

It makes me think of, “Are you tired, run-down or listless?  Do you poop out at parties?  The answer to all your problems is in this little bottle.”  Those lines are forever ingrained in my head from the TV show, I Love Lucy.  In one very well known episode, Lucy tries to get into show business and attempts to sell a product called Vitameatavegamin.

In the hilarious bit, Lucy promotes a tonic with its vitamins, meats, vegetables and minerals which will give the user more energy, popularity and supposedly, goes down just like candy.  What could be easier than 1 daily spoonful to change your life for the better?

But let’s face it.  Change doesn’t come in a little bottle.  It is simply not that easy.  When you are running everywhere, doing everything and taking responsibility for everyone, life is never fixed without purposeful intention to reorganize and change.  

Enter Crystal’s book, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life.  I am a big fan of Crystal’s blog, Money Saving Mom and have been following her for years.  She has been a huge blessing to me with my own ebook and it was such a treat to meet and chat with her at a blogging conference.  In short, she is the real-deal.

I have had seasons where the busyness, obligations, and my over-committing tendencies have been down-right overwhelming.  The exhaustion, the lack of direction . . . it was all I could to do survive.

In her book, you will read of Crystal’s real-life struggles and attempts to “escape the hamster wheel.”  In our society, we have been taught to be “yes women.”  We worry about not doing it all and too often compare ourselves with others.  Crystal debunks the myth.

“I don’t like saying no.  But if my struggles and health issues a few years ago taught me anything, it was this:  If I want to live a productive, efficient, happy, peaceful, and disciplined life, I must learn to say no.  And I must say it often.”

Crystal gives practical steps and great advice on getting out of survival mode.  She walks you through setting priorities, goals and reasonable expectations.  This wasn’t I book I breezed through – to do it right, you’ll want to invest a little time and work through your own priorities, activities and agendas.

When I wrote these things out, I immediately felt better because I could see things more clearly.  Items on my list that seemed more mundane suddenly became more valuable because I saw how it weaved into my priorities.

In Say Goodbye to Survival Mode, Crystal covers:

  • Responding to the pressure to do it all
  • Prioritizing what’s important and focusing on the best
  • Setting and accomplishing goals
  • Understanding the art and importance of discipline
  • Managing your finances
  • Handling the care of your home and day-to-day responsibilities
  • Moving forward when facing distractions or setbacks
  • Looking beyond yourself and making a difference
  • Practicing self-care to be a better woman overall

I loved Crystal’s advice on margin, creating breathing room in your life and day.  On chaotic days when I am writing out my schedule, what a difference it has made to have margin built into my day (yes, I actually scheduled it!).

Maybe you are feeling busy and burdened.  Maybe you are overwhelmed and barely surviving.  Let Crystal join you on your journey, like a good friend over coffee, and Say Goodbye to Survival Mode.

Do you have too much on your plate?  How are you handling it all?  

Through tomorrow, Say Goodbye to Survival Mode is only $2.99 for Kindle.  That is an amazing deal.  Go snatch it up!

Disclosure:  BookLook Bloggers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book.  All opinions are my own.  

My 2014 Lovely Generalities

Happy New Year, friends!  Did you make any goals this year?

I love goals and am a big proponent of setting great goals.  But this year, I have decided not to write anything specific as I have in the past . . . at least for now.  Life is just a bit to crazy to add more details and timelines that could become burdensome.

Am I feeling lazy or un-motivated?  Maybe just a little.  Or maybe it’s the need for conscious rest and stillness.  I am looking for a little cruise control at the moment. In all my roles, I need to recognize what I can and cannot take on in this season of my life and to give myself a little grace to not be the latest and greatest Super Woman.  Anyone else need this encouragement?

But even though I am not planning specific goals, I do have some generalities for 2014.  And they are lovely generalities.  

2014 inspiration

How about you?  Are you setting specific goals or do you need a peaceful period of generalities?

If you are getting specific (and good for you!), here are 25 Bible Verses on Goal Setting.  May they be an encouragement to you!  

And if you want to read about the best goal, check out my friend, Christina Fox’s post at To Show Them Jesus.  It is so good!  

Tasks for Simplicity

7 End of Year Tasks To Simplify Your Life

This month, we are wrapping up our journey to a Simply Organized Life.  It has felt great getting things in order, hasn’t it?  For December, we are finishing with easy tasks to simplify our lives.

I wrote about this in a previous post and since there is no need to re-invent the wheel, I am going to direct you back to 7 “End of the Year” Tasks to Simplify Your Life.  

It is a short, but smart list of tasks that will allow you to be more productive by reducing distractions and set you up for increased success in your daily routine.  I hope you enjoy it!

Thanks so much for joining me on this adventure.  And if you’ve missed any of our monthly tasks, you can start today by going here.

Happy Simplifying!

Organizing Your Paper Life & My Dream Command Central

 organizing your paper life

With last month’s task of organizing our digital life, it is timely and appropriate that this month, we organizing our paper life.  I don’t know about you, but paper in my house is Clutter Enemy #1.  It is not toys.  It is not books.  It is paper.

I cannot understand the amount of paper that comes into this house.  Paper often fills my counter and my desk, and occasionally a couple bins when I cave and just chuck it all for the feeling of a beautifully clean surface (however, misleading that really is).

So today, I have 6 tips on organizing your paper clutter.  These are things that have helped me immensely.  And on the last one, I’ll share with you my dream command central of paper organization that I am planning for the new house.

6 Tips for Organizing Your Paper Life

1.  Don’t let junk mail through the door.  Make use of a garbage can in your garage for efficient disposal.

2.  Have one place for bills.  Don’t go searching through stacks of paper every time you want to pay a bill.  As soon as a bill enters your house, put it in the same place.  I use this wall-mounted letter holder to keep bills and receipts in.

 

file cabinet table

 

3.  Have a good filing system.  I prefer file cabinets and my desk’s file drawer, but if space is your problem, you case use a plastic file box stored in the back of your closet.

At the suggestion of Sarah from Taylor Studio Design when I was doing the office makeover, I combined my two filing cabinets and had a table top made for them.  I love this extra counter space and have used it many times for crafts and my Cameo.

4.  Scan in documents that need to be saved rather than keeping a hard copy.  If you have a home scanner/printer, go through your papers and see which can be scanned for long term storage.

If you don’t have a scanner yourself or if you have a large amount of documents, you can go to a office supply store and pay to have them scanned.  I called my local Staples and it costs 25 cents per page and then 25 cents per file if you are separating them into many files.  While it sounds a little pricey, it will not only save you from having to purchase storage boxes or file cabinets, but you will save space at the same time.  Less paper?  Yes, please!

 

folder system to tame the paper clutter

 

5.  Try a folder system for more timely or pressing items.  I have folders labeled Action, Immediate Action, Someday, To Be Filed and Coupons in this magazine rack from Ikea.

6.  Create a Command Central.  Can you imagine a place in your house where paper flows in and out without confusion?  A place for everything and everything has a place?  No more losing something in the big stack.  No more messy piles of paper.  And since you have carefully thought out the needs of your family, maintaining this place isn’t all that difficult.

Command Central is the very spot where you manage papers coming in, papers going out, schedules, reminders and anything else that is pertinent to your family.

We are working on plans for our house and I am so excited about creating this special spot.  I have decided to put our Command Central in the mud room.  Want to see what I’m thinking about?  It is only hand-sketched, but here it is…

 

command central sketch

 

On the other wall are open-faced lockers (one for each of us).  This wall will have a chair rail, long bench with boot storage underneath, the door to the garage on the right and above the chair rail will be:

* A Big Framed Chalkboard (for notes, reminders, Scripture verses)

* Black & White Face Shots of the Kids running along the top

* Two Black Wood Wall Pockets like these below on each side of the chalkboard.  On my sketch, I only drew three pockets, but I will need four.  For our family organization, there will be one for each person, incoming mail, outgoing mail, bills and receipts.

 

51krQuQMtPL._SX342_

* A Little Runner Board with Hooks for keys and such under the Chalkboard.

And there it is, my dream Command Central.

What would make the wall for your family’s Command Central?  Leave a comment and share!

This post is a part of our Path to a Simply Organized Life series.  Join us anytime on our 12 month journey to a more organized and purposeful life.  Last Month’s Subject:  Taming the Family Schedule.

 

(This post contains some affiliate links.  Please see my Disclosure Policy on the About Page for more information.)

The Do’s & Don’ts of Organizing Your Digital Life

organizing your digital life

Remember our plan for a simply organized life?  Well, we are on the down-swing as we draw close to the end of 2013.  How have you been doing?  I have loved getting things in order . . . except for the cleaning routine.  It simply isn’t happening.  But since most of us have bigger fish to fry, I’m not worrying about it.  How about you?

This month is all about organizing our digital lives.  And while I know what should be done, I have to confess this is like the blind leading the blind.  I mean, who wants to take advice from a girl who has over 8,000 emails in her inbox.  Ugh.  I.need.this!

So let’s have a little fun and look at the Do’s and Don’ts of getting organized when it comes to your digital life.  I would love to hear what you would add.

organizing your digital life.2

Do’s & Don’ts of Organizing Your Digital Life:

  • Don’t use the same password for everything.
  • Do change your passwords frequently, even though it is a pain.
  • Do keep all your your passwords in an organized list in one easy-to-find place.
  • Don’t lose the list.
  • Don’t let your emails stack up to the thousands.  a’hem.
  • Do read this productivity tip for an out of control inbox.
  • Don’t forget to uncheck to receive all notifications when setting up new accounts.
  • Do unsubscribe when your sanity is at risk.
  • Don’t save hundreds of pictures of the same thing.  (Bloggers, you may need to call a truce with your camera.)
  • Do use technology to automate and stream line your photo saving processes.  (ie. photostream)
  • Don’t save all your docs to the general My Documents folder.
  • Do create sub-folders and then once a year, go through and purge your files.
  • Don’t do everything manually.
  • Do automate and use services like IFTTT (If this, then that) to streamline your work in sharing across accounts.
  • Don’t leave business-related social media posting to the last minute.
  • Do schedule ahead with companies like Hootsuite, Buffer or Viraltag (pins!!).
  • Don’t waste your time typing out repetitive things on your smart phone over and over again.
  • Do set up keyboard shortcuts.  (see here, #2 minus the prank part!)

So what would you add?  Come share and help us all move a little closer to a simply organized life!  

 

This post is a part of our Path to a Simply Organized Life series.  We’d love to have you join us anytime on our 12 month journey to a more organized and purposeful life.