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momentum

I recently set a goal for myself — a goal to set goals. This was a challenge given to me by my boot camp trainer. What she really wanted were long-term goals: this week, this month, this year. But I told her, I have enough trouble committing to what I’m making for dinner, much less what I plan to do with my life a month from now. So she suggested I keep it simple and shoot for daily goals.

Always looking for tools to streamline and add fun to my day, I went in search of an app. There were a lot of them. I wanted it super simple, motivating and free. What I discovered was a really cool Chrome extension called Momentum.

Morning Zen
Momentum is brilliant in its simplicity. Each morning, I open a new tab in the Chrome browser and up pops a stunning zen-like photograph and a welcome, “Good Morning, Jeanne.” Then it asks me, “What is your main focus for today?” I type in my answer and then all day long, each time I open a new tab, I see that beautiful photo and a reminder of my goal. And as if it can read my mind, Momentum also reveals a relevant, motivational message of the day. It’s like a fortune cookie for my soul.

A “to-do” list sent from heaven
The simple and beautiful structure of Momentum would be enough, but what really gets me excited is the to-do list feature embedded to the right of the screen. It sounds silly, I know, to get excited over a to-do list. But this one is so freaking easy to use! When I discovered it, it was like a “where have you been all my life?” moment.

I juggle dozens of requests from multiple clients all day long. And I need to keep track of all those tasks so that at the end of the day I can report the time that I dedicated to each. With the Momentum to-do list, I just enter the tasks as they come to me and check them off as they are completed. And the best part is that anything that wasn’t accomplished is carried over to the next day. No more writing and re-writing lists in a notebook.

Cue the angels singing.

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MayaAngelouQUOTEInspirational quotes: We’ve heard our teachers recite them, we’ve shared them in presentations and we even read them in signature lines of emails. To be honest, I actually considered using a quote to begin this blog. Remember when we all learned in middle school English to use a famous quote or thought to begin our papers? I sure do and, admittedly, I carry that with me to this day.

But beyond these typical (and often forced) encounters, inspirational quotes have never really been my thing. I’m not the type to print out a quote and tape it to my mirror or anything. However, with the passing of Maya Angelou, I was reminded of the beautiful and motivational thoughts that she shared with us during her lifetime. A few of her famous quotes left a lasting impression on me and because of this, I felt I should share them with others. In some way, each quote is applicable to one’s personal life, but also has implications in our professional life. Here are three of my favorite quotes shared by Maya that have inspired me to be better, particularly at my job:

“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude”
Don’t we all wish it could be this simple? It’s certainly one of those “easier said than done” phrases to live by. Too often we encounter projects, clients, or even coworkers who we don’t like, and I hate to say it, but the chances that you’ll continue to run into these things are pretty high. Unfortunately, because it’s your job on the line, you can’t really “change it.” So change your attitude. You’re only wasting energy by focusing on the “I hate this” and “I wish it were some other way” thoughts. Instead try finding the positives. Maybe you’re learning a lot or perhaps you’ve found that you’re really good at something. Focus on that instead. I promise you can find something to enjoy in every situation!

“Nothing will work unless you do”
This quote rings particularly loud in my ears. We Millennials are often characterized as having a sense of entitlement, carrying around the idea that we deserve better, if not the best. While I have my own opinions on the truth of that accusation, I think there’s no denying that we could all use a good reminder that to get what you want you have to work hard. I like this one because it’s easy to understand. No interpretations or clarifications necessary – just work hard!

“We encounter many defeats, but we must not be defeated”
Now this one is pretty difficult (or nearly impossible if you’re anything like me) to follow. Many of us strive to be the best at what we do and leave no room for failure. Unfortunately, failure, at some point, is inevitable. I know you may think your superman or superwoman, but trust me it will happen. Whether it is a small mess-up or big mistake, chances are you’ll encounter some sort of defeat (probably more than once) in your career. What’s important to remember is that you can’t let these defeats get the best of you. Yes, it’s important to reflect upon them so that you can lessen the chances they’ll occur again, but as soon as you’ve done that – move on! Don’t hang on to any sour feelings and don’t think that you can’t get past it. Focus your energy on how you can improve the next time around and on what you learned from the experience. By doing this, you’ll only get stronger.

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The other day my three-year-old son ran up to me with his face and t-shirt covered in squiggly marker lines and exclaimed, “Momma, look what I made!” When I asked him why he had chosen his face and shirt as his canvas he shrugged and said, “I didn’t have any paper.”

I had to admit, this was a pretty imaginative solution to his lack of drawing paper and it got me thinking about creativity. In an increasingly busy life dictated by obligations, lists and tasks to complete, does creativity take a back seat? Would being more creative in my approach to a project lead to a more successful outcome? How could I incorporate more creativity into my daily routine without compromising too much on efficiency?

Creativity really can’t be planned but as I thought more about it I realized there were small things I could probably do to foster more creativity each day. This was emphasized a few mornings later. As I started out on my drive to work I found my commute brought to a halt by a big traffic back up. Rather than idle in that line of cars impatiently waiting for it to move, I took a deep breath, turned around and went a different way. To my surprise, I found myself at the office a few minutes earlier than usual! It was a small change to my usual routine and it actually gained me some time, teaching me that under the right circumstances, a creative approach can improve even the most minor of daily routines.

Encouraged by this first successful outcome, I am determined to continue my exploration of creativity’s impact on more of my projects and daily tasks and I’ll be sure to keep you posted!

I’m lucky to work with a group of very talented, innovative colleagues here at AMPED so I’ll certainly be looking to them for new ideas and inspiration. I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic as well! Do you feel like creativity often takes a back seat in our busy lives? Have you had the opportunity to take a more creative approach to a project lately? Anyone have a particularly creative way to get marker out of a t-shirt?

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