Tag Archives: calendar

National Time Management Month

National Time Management Month

It’s National Time Management Month, and we have tips and tricks to help you improve your time management skills.

Prioritize and learn to say no. Each day, prioritize what needs to happen in your private and professional life. When you don’t have time for things outside those priorities, politely refuse to add more to those.

Schedule your time and set deadlines. Use a planner or digital calendar to keep track of your obligations. Use it to schedule blocks of time for things you need to get done, like grocery shopping, and stick to it like you would a deadline.

Schedule Your Time


Delegate tasks. Let co-workers help with work, and if you need help picking up the dry-cleaning or getting the kids to practice, ask friends and family for help.

Learn to Delegate Tasks


Make to-do lists. Whether they’re online, on an app, or written down, a to-do list for the day can help make managing your work or personal life easier. And they give you a sense of accomplishment as you finish things.

Using To-Do Lists


Avoid multi-tasking whenever possible. Even people who are great at multi-tasking can get big projects done faster and more efficiently when they’re allowed to focus. Give yourself the time to focus on the big stuff.

Avoid Multi-Tasking


Start early, and avoid procrastination. Starting the day early helps you make a plan for the day. And by starting with your toughest work first, the rest of the day will feel easier in comparison.

Avoid Procrastination


Take breaks and rest. Too much stress can take a toll on your productivity, so go for a walk or stop and get some hot tea whenever you feel tired or stressed. And rest to avoid exhaustion, which hurts your productivity in the long run.

Time to Unwind

Get Organized Month

Get Organized Month

It’s Get Organized Month, and it’s the perfect time to follow through on your resolutions and organize your life.

First up, getting organized at work helps you reduce stress, and it can be great for your career. Get started.

Organize Your Career


Is your car always a cluttered mess? It can make everything from appointments to grocery shopping take longer, so get organized.

Clean Up Your Car


Don’t let icons crowd your desktop. Get organized on your computer with these easy tips.

De-Clutter Your Desktop


Do you feel like clutter is everywhere in your life? These tips can help you get organized throughout your home.

Organize your way to a healthier diet with meal prepping.

Meal Prep Done Right


Organize your health and wellness by tracking everything from your calendar to your daily health habits.

Tracking Your Health


Organize your family’s healthcare wishes, so you’ll always be prepared in an emergency or if someone gets seriously sick.

Preparing Healthcare Wishes for the Future

Marking Milestones

Long View: Making the Most of Milestones

As a culture, we recognize milestones. We count the years with class reunions, wedding anniversaries, or years logged since a cancer diagnosis. It has been a few months, but I bet the majority of readers can tell me how many years it had been since the Chicago Cubs had last won the World Series.

As parents, we carefully record that first step, first tooth, first time rolling over. At least we do for the first baby; the second, third, fourth… maybe not quite as detailed. This month, I’m celebrating a birthday that ends in a 9.  This is a milestone in a way, a preamble to a new decade. To be completely honest, it’s more about clinging to the final year left in my current decade.

My sons had a great-grandfather who was meticulous in keeping track of each great-grandchild’s birthday. He carried a pocket calendar around and recorded every date in his precious, shaky handwriting, making sure to not miss a single date for each of his 12 great-grandkids. It was so touching to me, and I made sure to never miss that World War II veteran’s birthday either.

Today we are reminded of birthdays and anniversaries through social media. Facebook has made me a much better friend because I never would have put all of those dates into a traditional calendar. I could not keep up with sending something as old-fashioned as a card via something as truly antiquated as the mail. With just a few clicks, I can send a birthday cake emoji with a couple of exclamation points through cyberspace and am on top of things.

Some milestones can be bittersweet, like the first holiday after a grandmother passes away or a 75th wedding anniversary that never happened because one of the spouses is no longer with us. I toasted the 100th birthday of my grandmother even though she left us at 94 years old.

Do you reach out to your elderly family and friends when special dates pop up on the calendar?  These dates don’t have to be completely solemn occasions. Reaching out to remember a wedding anniversary with a widower can bring back happy memories of a beautiful marriage, not to mention the fact that you have taken the time to call or visit with this person and recognize the importance of the day.

You may not want to just send an emoji to your great grandmother. Take the time to send a card and handwritten note or better yet, stop by for a visit.

Can you imagine how you would feel at 29, 39, or 49 if your important milestone wasn’t important to anyone else?  Someone 79, 89, or 99 feels exactly the same way.

Here is an idea. This February, make an elder your valentine.

Lora Felger is a community and broker liaison at Health Alliance. She is the mother of 2 terrific boys, a world traveler, and a major Iowa State Cyclones fan.

Time for Self Care

My Healthy Journey: Putting Self-Care First

It’s a new year, which means it’s time to re-evaluate and set new healthy goals. For me, that always means trying to refocus on self-care.

As those of you following along know, I always have a hard time prioritizing the little things. So far, I have 3 big self-care goals that help with that for 2017.

Get Organized for Self-Care

Planning in Writing

I always have a planner for scheduling our company’s social media because I like to have it in writing. But this year, I took it a step further and bought myself a Passion Planner.

If you haven’t heard of Passion Planner, it combines a lot of things, like keeping a bullet journal, setting goals, imagining your future, and reminders to take care of yourself. Here’s a peek at what that looks like:

Weekly View of Passion Planner

It’s built to help you track time, workload, and to-do tasks for your personal life and goals, and it even makes you find the good in your week.

Finding Time

In an effort to fight off my workaholic tendencies, I’ve been thinking a lot about time and time management. There’s one TED talk in particular that has had me thinking for weeks:

Video via TED

This idea that there is enough time for the things that matter to you, even if you live an extremely busy life, feels so wonderful. Not only do I have no doubt that she’s right, it’s also an idea to live your life by.

For me, I’m adding a third-column to-do list to my Passion Planner, which is the self-care to-do list Laura recommends in that video. Too frequently things like my chipped toenail polish are such a low priority that I never make time for them (and I can only imagine this just gets worse as you have kids).

By putting them on my list, I give myself permission to make those little things a priority, to make time for them, even when they seem selfish or stupid. I can make time for reading a book, checking my personal email, playing with my dogs, anything. This is how I plan to make self-care a priority.

Soon, I will use the pages at the end of each month to evaluate how the first month of this is going, how my goals went, what was good and bad this month, and more.

Evaluating for Self-Care

Meal Planning and Tracking

I’ve been trying to make healthy meal plans and grocery shop in advance each week, which again, requires I make time for it.

This great video series of bento box lunches from Mind Over Munch, one per day in January,  has really been helping me to get inspired with each day’s meals. (She also has a digital cookbook of these if you need more than 30 days of inspiration!)

How I Meal Plan

To meal plan, I’ve been using a lot of tools to make it happen, which makes it a lot more fun for someone like me who loves checking things off.

First, I have a lovely Wonder Woman list that I write down meals for the week on, organized by breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I try to choose at least one recipe for a nice big breakfast on the weekends, at least one recipe for a few lunches (something I can make multiple times or a big batch of something, like soup), and then 5 or 6 dinner ideas that I’ll make over a week and a half or so (taking leftover days off from cooking). And finally, at least 1 dessert because I have a huge sweet tooth. I label where each recipe is coming from and use it as a weekly menu, marking off things I make as I go along.

Meal Planning Tools

From there, I make a grocery list on the lovely Wunderlist, which is my favorite because it syncs across devices, but there are lots of other grocery shopping apps you can try.

And I use that whiteboard beside my Wonder Woman list to keep track of all the meal prep I need to do, like boiling eggs, making homemade salad dressing or sauces ahead of time, or prepping veggies and snacks for the week.

Then, I keep a calendar whiteboard on my freezer with dinners scheduled out. It helps me plan which days I’m eating leftovers, which ones I need something easy, or when I’m going out.

Monthly Meal Calendar

I also keep a more thorough list in my planner of what I eat for each major meal.

Meal Tracking by Month

I’ve also just been trying to find little things that make my life easier in the kitchen, like my new knife block, which swivels to hold a cookbook or tablet while I’m cooking:

Kitchen Recipe Holder

Tech and Digital Organization

Finally, on the organization front, I’m trying to clean up from a digital standpoint. This means a lot of things. I got a wireless speaker for Christmas. Syncing it to my cell phone lets me play music wherever I am in the house without needing a stereo or getting my computer close to water, like while I’m cooking or showering.

I’ve also been trying to clean up my digital presence, like organizing my iTunes, consolidating multiple Netflix and Hulu profiles I’ve had on different accounts, organizing all my bills online, backing up files like my writing on Google Docs, keeping track of my different passwords and profiles, and more.

I’ve also been taking the time to use digital solutions to solve some of life’s inconveniences, from the Tile on my keys to organizing all of my loyalty cards and memberships with Key Ring and  tossing all of those business cards without guilt by backing them up in CamCard.

It’s amazing how satisfying throwing away all that clutter can be.

(Looking for more ways to clean out your wallet?  This Real Simple article can help! It even has handy suggestions for using the leftovers off all your gift cards!)

Reading Challenge as Self-Care

There are all kinds of reading challenges all over the internet, practically one for every interest you could have. Popsugar’s yearly challenge is always a good general challenge, but looking at it, I just kept thinking about all the books I already know I want to read.

So instead, I’m making my own reading challenge. I used a Christmas Amazon gift card to buy a big stack of books that have been on my list for a while and combined them with a handful I’m in the middle of or have been hoarding,

Reading List Start
(Why yes, that is a dog toy “hidden” on top of my books…)

On my self-care list, I’m forcing myself to dedicate at least 15 minutes a day to reading a book. Not the news, not my phone, a physical book.

And once I’ve forced myself to sit still and focus for those 15 minutes, I inevitably find time for at least 15 more.

Healthy Eating Self-Care

In keeping with all that self-care and meal planning, I have to follow through with making those healthy meals too.

For Christmas, I also got 3 cookbooks, which are keeping me going. Both of Skinnytaste’s cookbooks and The Dude Diet cookbook.

My New Cookbooks


Skinnytaste’s cookbooks have a variety of recipes to make up for my comfort food favorites, from chicken enchiladas, chicken parm, and baked potato soup to staples like homemade marinara, which I’m trying to avoid buying at the store.

Chicken enchiladas with homemade enchilada sauce and lime cilantro rice.

Teriyaki pork chops, with homemade teriyaki sauce, and spicy pineapple salsa.

Oven-fried chicken, which tastes a lot like Shake ‘n Bake, with cheesy cauliflower mash.

Baked potato soup, which is filled with hidden cauliflower.

The Dude Diet

And, you may not know it from looking at me,  but nachos, bar nachos especially, and chili cheese fries are my top 2 favorite foods. (Closely followed by all things sweet, mostly candy, but that’s beside the point.) So The Dude Diet is perfect for me.

It has all kinds of healthier takes on hearty classics, even going so far as to have Taco Bell copycat tacos. (Be still my beating heart!)

So far, from simple Pad Thai, where the weirdest ingredient I needed was Sriracha, to truly bar-worthy BBQ chicken nachos, this cookbook has yet to disappoint.

Chicken Pad Thai
I substituted chicken for shrimp in The Dude Diet shrimp Pad Thai recipe.

BBQ Chicken Nachos
Drool-worthy spicy, baked BBQ chicken nachos.

Using these cookbooks, I’ve been slowly tasting my way through their wonderfulness, and it’s making a difference! Not only can I see it, but I can feel it. And the best part is I’m not sacrificing anything. These recipes are delicious and doable.

Build your own group of recipes that you trust and love, or start exploring healthy cookbooks yourself. Enjoying what you’re eating is the only way you’ll be able to make a healthy lifestyle feel achievable.

Do It Yourself

Not sure how to get started setting your own goals? Our wellness tool, Rally, can help you set food, exercise, organization, and even reading goals.

Follow us on Pinterest for more healthy recipes, or find us on Instagram to see my progress and what I’m cooking up.

And join me in setting your own healthy goals for 2017. Let’s make this our healthiest year yet!























Taking Back Relaxation in the New Year

My Healthy Journey: New Year, New You?

This year has been long and tiring, and for the last few weeks, I’ve been left wondering what I could say about my goals for 2016. Honestly, I hadn’t been thinking about goals for the new year, I was too busy trying to get through the day.

Unlike last year, I don’t have a long list of the things I plan to work on. Instead, it will be a few important things that just keep coming to the top of my mind when I think about my life.

Live my life with the day-to-day in mind

I tend to focus on the long-term, big picture stuff, which means that relaxing and fun usually take the backseat. I need to make my own happiness a bigger priority, even when it’s in the face of my goals. Life is short, and I will regret those lost moments with my friends and family one day.

One of my best friends just got engaged to someone wonderful, and she’s the first person (besides my brother) whose wedding will actually be important to me. This both makes me feel like I’m getting old (I know, most of the people who follow this blog are laughing at me there), and makes me feel like, by not living in the moment, sometimes I’m missing out. And I do not want to miss a moment of the good stuff for her wedding.

I’ll be using some of the tips from this Health.com 30-day calendar to help me get started.

Learn something or do something

For example, I want to write books one day. However, when I get home after writing for work all day, I rarely sit and write fiction. I need to prioritize learning to improve the things I love, the things I want to have long-term importance in my life. I think that taking action on these passions will make me feel more fulfilled, even if I never get a book published.

Spend some time on myself everyday

I was cooking everyday, and now I’m not. I was getting enough sleep, and now I’m not. No matter how hectic things get, in 2016, I need to make time for myself a priority, both to be healthy and happy.

(I’m going to start by using the gift certificate for a massage that I got for Christmas!)

Cut back on the stuff in my life

To gear up for another move come the end February (I know, I can’t believe it’s been that close to a year already), I need to simplify my life. Get rid of all the clothes I never wear from my retail days, my 3 old pairs of boots that all have holes in them, and the old perfume bottles I’ve been moving from place to place, and make it easier on myself to live as a nomad. Hopefully this simple guide to de-clutter can help me get started.

Spend less time in the virtual world

I spend almost all of my time online. Part of it is my job, and part of it is my desire to know more about a field I want to spend the rest of my career in, and part of it is getting sucked into scrolling through my own personal Facebook and Twitter for no reason for the 50th time that day.

(Does anyone else struggle with the need to always make it back to the last thing you’d seen on social media? I know it’s silly, especially since I know how Facebook works and that it’s already not showing you everything it could, but I get such obsessive satisfaction from making it back to the beginning.)

There are things in the real world that I love doing, but instead, I spend almost all of my time, free and at work, buried in a computer. It’s time to bring some analog, some print, and some real world back into my life.

Follow along with me as I dive back into my passions, clean up, and move yet again in 2016 on our Instagram.

And you can use the improved Rally app or site to set your own healthy resolutions for 2016. From quitting smoking and taking your pills on time, to making time for laughter or exercise, Rally can help you have a healthier year.

The Holiday Season

Long View: Did You Thrive or Survive this Holiday Season?

Here at Health Alliance, we’ve made it through another holiday season. Most years I’m stressed from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day. Add in Medicare and Individual enrollment seasons, and it’s easy to wish the holidays away. Here are some ways I managed to thrive, not just survive, during the holidays.

I need to say no sometimes.

I didn’t attend every activity I was invited to, and I am a better person for it. Most years, I cause a lot of my own stress by trying to fit too many things on the calendar. Setting aside some time to relax and reflect became an important part of this round of celebrations. Try it. You might enjoy the things you agreed to do a little more.

I need to get over myself.

I don’t have to be involved in every decision. All the adults in my life are capable of selecting a turkey or picking up family from the airport. My involvement is not only unnecessary, but sometimes unwelcome. That realization took stress off me and my family!

I will not whine.

The grocery stores seemed to be crowded every time I needed to shop. Long lines, people rushing around, tempting candy displays—you know the scene. Every time I was close to whining, I remembered almost 20 percent of the population in Champaign County doesn’t know where their next meal is coming from. We can all stand in line without complaining. This gave me a much better attitude throughout the holidays.

I will not mention how cold it is outside.

I need to hunker down and stop focusing on the weather. We live in Illinois, not Hawaii. The weather is no surprise. I’m trying to focus on the warmth of the holidays, not the cold outside.

These little steps helped me have a more enjoyable holiday season. We’re also using them to get through our Health Alliance busy season with great results. Give them a try and you can thrive during the holidays, too.

Senior Centers Visiting

Vantage Point: Senior Centers Offer More Than You Think

In my role at Health Alliance Medicare, I’ve had the pleasure to work with senior centers in Chelan, Grant, Douglas, and Okanogan counties.

The word “center” means a source of influence, action or force. The first senior center started in New York in 1943 to provide education and recreation. Today’s senior center is an oasis, providing familiarity in an ever-changing world for long-time members, while carefully evolving to attract the new energy and ideas of those aging in.

The senior centers I visit are very different. Some are limited on space. Others boast grand dining and dance halls. Some are open select days. Others host a full calendar of events.

Still, they all have people who go above and beyond to make life better—either working as staff or volunteering. It is remarkable how in even the smallest towns, senior center members share meals, dance or play cards. Gathering fills the centers’ walls with a camaraderie that is authentic and intoxicating.

Through senior centers visits, I have met those with cool confidence that only comes from experience. I have felt privileged to shake the hands of veterans from every branch of the military. I met a farmer turned cowboy poet. I enjoyed wonderful lunches with even more flavorful stories. I even met “Elvis” during one event—but was more inspired by the women who helped their friend dance without the use of her walker.

Before my visits, it is fair to say I had an old-fashioned idea of senior centers.

I realize now they are as diverse as the people who frequent them. Senior centers provide a space where everyday moments bring a sense of purpose, fulfillment and harmony. All share a common goal of helping people age gracefully and independently.

I believe they hold our communities’ richest treasures.

The challenge is getting people to overcome perceptions and walk through the door. If you take those first steps, you might find a room full of friends you just hadn’t met yet.