Month: June 2007

Presenting the new Corrie Haffly logo! Moo!

It’s been over a month since I generated my last round of logo ideas (see part 1, part 2, part 3). Other projects and responsibilities have intruded since then, but a link to a VistaPrint business card sale that ends this Tuesday helped to whip me into gear.

I decided to start with my top three favorite logos from round 3 and just start putting them in a business card shape to see how they might develop from there. Below are some of the ones I started playing with, starting with the “corrie smiley-face logo” and the “CH combo logo.”

Business card sketches

When I got to my “smiley-C” logo, I went completely non-traditional and started working on this:

Smiliy C logo business card idea
Something about this clicked for me.

  • It’s not your standard business card.
  • It’s simple and clean.
  • It’s fun and friendly.
  • It ties in my smiley-face avatar — and even the fact that I like to draw comics.

I think the “C/H combo” logo is a little cooler-looking, maybe a little stronger, but it doesn’t scream my personality all that much.

After trying out some different fonts and wording, I’ve ended up with this (it’s not much different):

Business card design

Next steps are to get this in a format ready to send off to vistaprint, then redesign my web site and blog and invoice templates and all that printable goodness. Now I’ll finally have the excuse to try out’s Sandbox theme and custom CSS upgrade.

And if I hate this logo in a few months… well, I did come up with lots of other options. 🙂

Thanks to Angela, Liz, Penny, Shirley, Dave, Senia, Gilda, Doodah, Alex, Mike, and Lea (who wrote the original article series that inspired me to try to brand myself) for voicing helpful thoughts and opinions through this process.


Reading progress

Finished this week:

It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh. Peter Walsh is one of the people in the series Clean Sweep, and in this book, talks about why to declutter, then how. I skimmed the book to get a sense of his philosophy and structure and found it full of great tips, so I’ll be reading it again and taking some notes. Some things that I happen to remember from skimming it this time:

  • Limit your stuff to your space. If you have a bookshelf that holds DVDs, only keep as many DVDs as will fit on the bookshelf. Be ruthless – if you get a new DVD, throw an existing one out. Same with your closet, cabinets, pantries, etc.
  • Getting more storage containers/shelves/etc., while a typical reaction, is not necessarily the best solution.
  • Have a family meeting to define the purpose(s) of each room. Then, ruthlessly remove anything that doesn’t meet with those purposes. Example — the master bedroom is a romantic retreat for the parents, not a kid’s playroom. So, take out all toys that have somehow ended up in the master bedroom.
  • If a room has multiple purposes, create “zones” in that room for each purpose, and contain the stuff related to the purpose in that zone. For example — let’s say your family decides that family room’s main purpose is to provide a space for kids to play and adults to relax/read/watch TV. A secondary purpose is to act as space for someone to scrapbook. Scrapbooking stuff should be contained to a table/shelf, leaving the rest of the room available for the main purpose — hang out and play.
  • Purge a little bit every day.

I found this very good reading as we start to prepare for moving and begin purging some stuff.

Transcending CSS by Andy Clarke. Very eye-opening and inspiring. I wouldn’t recommend this book for anyone who wants to start out learning CSS because it’s not a primer, but I would definitely recommend it for any web designer/developer who wants to do CSS “right” and explore the possibilities. Some great information about CSS3 is in the last section, with actual examples of the new modules in use (including multiple background images and columns). The bulk of the book is about tying in CSS with truly semantic markup, and provides great examples of how to minimize your markup and decide which elements provide the most meaning. The book also emphasizes the creativity that can be expressed using CSS and demonstrates some great, basic design principles as well, such as designing with a grid. Plus, the book is just plain pretty! I learned a lot from this book and will start applying some of the things I’ve learned!

With a bookmark:

(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (not technically from the library — culled from a friend’s book giveaway pile)
  • The Wild Out Your Window by Sy Montomery
  • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
  • Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

Library book box:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

The week in numbers

Mixing up my week update format:

  • 85 Remember the Milk tasks completed (not including “waiting” items)
  • 2 personal GTD Projects completed
  • 5 freelance GTD Projects completed
    • 2 freelance jobs completed and invoiced
  • 24 incomplete GTD Projects
    • 9 GTD Projects that I actively worked on this week (in addition to completed projects)
  • Ran 15 minutes only this week. Total. 😦 (I haven’t been getting enough sleep… consequently “feel too tired” to exercise.)
  • 2 one-on-ones with friends.
  • Finished 2 books, started 1 more.
    • 1 “old-timer” book finished (one of those books I started months ago and has been sitting around)
  • 153 sent emails
  • Only 14 tweets. I’m slacking.
  • 2 nights home alone with hubby out of town
  • Only 11 photos taken of the cat
  • 10 hours of sleep [update: I started to add my sleep hours together and realized I didn’t keep track of them this week! Nevertheless, I did get ten hours in two nights…]
  • Filling out an average of 15.75 out of 20 bubbles on my daily routine tracker forms

And… 24 comments/pingbacks on this blog, not including my own. Thanks for visiting: Marcia (Organising Queen), Gilda, Kim, Darren (Cold Tea Again), Penny (PenguinGirl), Doodah (Just a Bit of Silliness), Stephen (HD BizBlog), Michael (Black Belt Productivity), Jeroen (Brain Tags), gtdfrk (Getting Things Done), and hak (The Outdoor Journey).

Creating daily routines… and doing them!

I’ve mentioned my daily routines several times before. Having established routines is a concept I first came across from FlyLady (although I also recently saw talking about them a well). Once I got past the garish design and the stay-at-home-mom lingo, I found some great common-sense no-nonsense organization, productivity, and self-improvement tips. Here are just a few examples of what I’ve learned and implemented from FlyLady:

  • Declutter often.
    When handling an object, ask yourself: “Do I love it? Does it make me smile? Do I have a place for it?” If you can’t say yes to all three questions, you should seriously think about getting rid of it. I’ve emptied out a lot of my closet this way.
  • Break up housecleaning into zones.
    I’ve been lax at this more recently (one of my goals is to redevelop my housecleaning routines), but the idea is that you break your house into five zones and focus on cleaning that zone each week. FlyLady’s zones match up with the weeks of the month, including partial weeks for areas that probably don’t need as much work.
  • Shine your sink.
    This is FlyLady’s very first step for people who are trying her system. To shine your sink, you have to do all the dishes and then give the sink a good wipe-down at the end of the day so that the sink is shiny and empty, ready to be used the next day. It’s a small habit that you can develop and begin to take pride in. The shiny sink idea then starts to propagate through the rest of the house — you start taking a few more extra minutes to clear the counters and make those shiny… then clean the stove… then start actually cleaning up as you cook instead of waiting until the end. FlyLady encourages you to create a “shiny sink” for each room of your house — for me, it’s making my bed every morning, and cleaning up my desk after I finish working.
  • You can do anything for 15 minutes a day!
    FlyLady encourages “baby steps” — making small improvements to your life and home. One of the ways you can do this is by committing to declutter or clean for only 15 minutes a day. And I mean only 15 minutes a day — not 15 and then feel like you are in the zone and should do it for another 50! Just do as much as you can for 15 minutes, and then stop. This keeps you from thinking that cleaning will “take a long time,” and your house will be 15 minutes cleaner or decluttered — always a good thing!

Going back to my original purpose for this post, however, the biggest thing that I’ve gotten out of FlyLady is the concept of daily routines — and how to start them.

We all have things that we know we should do every day in order to lead healthy, happy lives. Brushing your teeth. Some form of regular exercise. Doing the dishes. Drinking water. Checking the calendar. Some of these things — perhaps “brushing teeth” — are habits that we’ve already established long ago and do without thinking.

The idea that I first learned from FlyLady was to build on existing routines to help establish new routines, or “habits” if you want to call them that. Instead of trying to “schedule in a habit” into your day (where most likely it will get pushed aside by everything else), hook the habit into something you’re already doing. Usually the easiest type of habit to hook into is something you’re doing in the morning when you first wake up, or something you do in the evening before you go to bed.

Here’s an example. My dentist and hubby tell me that I should brush my teeth sometime in the morning, instead of just at night (which is how I grew up — just once a day brushing). I already do some things routinely in the morning — wake up, make the bed, put on exercise clothes, go for a walk or run, take a shower. Since I’m in the bathroom already while I’m taking a shower, I can hook “brushing teeth” to right after I shower. I get started by writing a big note with a dry erase marker on the bathroom mirror: “BRUSH TEETH AFTER SHOWER!!!” (Post-its work quite well in other locations that don’t accept dry erase marker. :)) I leave that note up there for about a month — by that time, it’s become a habit to brush my teeth after my shower.

Here’s another example. I want to develop the habit of shining my sink before I go to bed. I get started by writing a big note: “SHINE SINK” and attaching it to the headboard above my pillow. (Alternatively, since I brush my teeth right before going to bed, I could do the dry erase marker note trick as well.) This reminds me to shine the sink before my head hits the pillow.

FlyLady’s whole system is built on a series of email reminders (which I no longer subscribe to), but I’ve found that post-its and mirror-notes work just as well. More recently, the daily tracking bubble form in my organizer is serving a similar purpose.

Routines aren’t just for personal things like taking vitamins regularly and brushing your teeth, however. FlyLady encourages you to hook in housecleaning routines — such as clearing up for 10 minutes before going to bed — and productivity routines — checking your calendar for the next day’s appointments at the end of your workday, for example.

I can’t claim myself to be a queen of routines, yet, as I’m still plugging away on trying to turn my desired routines into habits. My morning routines are working out a lot better than my post-work and evening routines, so I may need to take a second look at why my post-work and evening routines aren’t working for me very well and try to tweak them. In fact, I recently tweaked my morning routines, which helped them to all fall into place:

  • Before: Here’s what my morning routine used to look like. Unfortunately, I’d usually forget to do the last three items on a daily basis.
    • Exercise
    • Shower
    • Get dressed
    • Devotions
    • Breakfast
    • Vitamin
    • Brush teeth
    • Comb/dry hair
  • Now:
    • Exercise
    • Eat breakfast – The kitchen is right by our entryway, so it’s easier for me to go into the kitchen and start eating breakfast than it is to do anything else.
    • Take vitamin – Moving breakfast up somehow helped me to stay in the “routines mindset” and remember to take my vitamin. Perhaps I was always rushing to get to work and would forget? I’m not sure, but remembering to take vitamins miraculously happened when I switched breakfast to be earlier.
    • Shower – I’m still in my grungy exercise clothes, so I rarely forget to take a shower. 🙂
    • Brush teeth – I’m in the bathroom already, so this is easier to remember.
    • Comb/dry hair – Ditto.
    • Get dressed – No-brainer.
    • Devotions – My special reading chair is right by the closet.

I think I found that location was key for me to be able to successfully hook my routines together. Part of that is my natural laziness — why go from the kitchen all the way back into the bathroom, when it’s so much more convenient to stop off in the office and check my email and get sucked into working? By grouping the actions together that were near each other, I became a lot more successful at my routines.

(This helps me to realize that when we move at the end of the summer, I’m going to have to reconfigure my routines to fit our new space!)

The other routines that I’m trying to develop (which currently are listed as after work and evening routines) are:

  • Do one thing that works towards my monthly goals
  • Practice harp
  • Clean my desk
  • Pick up around the house for 10 minutes or less
  • Put ice packs and bottled water in freezer for Steve’s lunch
  • Lay out clothes for tomorrow
  • Shine the sink

I’m finding that harp practice just goes by the wayside as I leave it for the end of my “working day,” just before I start dinner. Perhaps I need to hook it in with lunchtime so it actually gets done (and provides a nice break, as well). Part of the problem why some of these things don’t happen is that I would much rather hang out with Steve than, say, clean the house. One thing I might try is to do some of the cleaning/prep things while he brushes his teeth/gets ready for bed. Any suggestions are welcome in the comments!

Do you have daily routines or try to have daily routines, and how are they working for you?

Taking life as it comes: Huge benefit of GTD

A “quick” post to say that today is one example of why I’m loving GTD — it helps you to take life as it comes, while still being able to maintain productivity and goals.

It’s only 10:30-ish as I write this. I’ve been up since 5:30 (albeit a little slow-moving). After checking my tickler file, RTM, email, Google Reader, and making a short list of the four things I want to try to accomplish today, I wrote a note to a friend and a birthday card for another friend. Then I went for a short run (14 minutes, faster pace, plus warmup and cooldown walk), had breakfast, and then drafted part of a longer blog post.

I had planned to bike down to Starbucks (it’s really only a two-minute bike ride, so don’t get too impressed) at about 8:30 to pick up two mocha frappucinos and bring one of them to the birthday-friend, then come back home, shower, do my other morning routine things, and get started with work around 9:30 or 10.

Instead I ended up hanging out for an hour with my friend. She is a stay-at-home mom with five children, two of whom are newly adopted twin toddler boys. You could say that she hasn’t had much of a “life” lately in between not much sleep and spending all day with the kids! We had a rich time (in between consoling clingy toddlers) of sharing important things that have been going on while enjoying sips of frothy cool chocolate-flavored coffee drinks.

Having already gone through my morning time of checking my calendar, with the comfort of knowing that everything was captured and processed, and knowing that I had plenty of time in the rest of the day (well, unless more “life” happens) to get my “most important tasks” done, I had the freedom of knowing that this was exactly what I wanted to choose to do at that moment — spend valuable time with a person instead of my other projects.

Hooray for GTD!

And now for the rest of my day to begin…


I have been way too wordy the past few days, so I’m reverting to my comic archive to give you and myself a break.

Okay, the real reason is that I had five hours of sleep and am feeling rather tired and lazy.

This is an older comic I drew in the midst of a busy season.

Click to view larger version.

Stress comic

Reading update

Picked up just a few books this week at the library, and am proud to say that I’m making my way through some of the books that have been in-progress for months.

Perhaps it’s not a surprise that the two books I did finish this week perfectly reflect the main focus of my blog entries the past two weeks: Getting Things Done and cats.

Finished this week:

Getting Things Done by David Allen. I skimmed this book back in January and read it in more detail this time around. See my blog post for how I’ve converted to trying to fully implement GTD.

Essential Cat by Caroline Davis. This Reader’s Digest photo-heavy book was one of the ten books I browsed at the library (out of the 50 available) that had actual details about mother cats and kittens during birth and immediately after. Apart from providing lots of ooh- and awww-able cat and kitten pictures, it answered some of the questions I had:

  • Do I need to do anything while the mom is giving birth?
    Not really. She chews the umbilical cord through, cleans the kittens, etc. Only if she seems very, very tired, should I gently place an unlicked kitten in front of her face. There is always room for complication, and this book did give some overview of possible problems.
  • How do the kittens eliminate before they’re old enough to go in a litter box?
    The mom licks them to stimulate elimination and eats whatever comes out. I wouldn’t want that job, but at least I don’t have to worry about it for a few days/weeks.
  • How old do the kittens need to be before giving them away?
    About eight weeks.

With a bookmark:

(Books I just started reading, or books I’ve been “reading” for ages. Most recent first.)

  • It’s All Too Much by Peter Walsh
  • The Wild Out Your Window by Sy Montomery
  • The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst
  • Transcending CSS by Andy Clarke
  • Wild at Heart by John Eldredge
  • A Long Obedience in the Same Direction by Eugene Peterson

Library book box:

  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Using Remember the Milk for Getting Things Done

Remember the Milk is a cool web-based application that helps you make lists and check them off. It’s also accessible offline using Google Gears and through mobile devices. It’s also a fantastic tool for implementing Getting Things Done.

My GTD system has been in place for only four days, so I’m still moving things around, trying new things out, and reading a lot about how other people have GTD implemented. One of the things that is still in-progress is how I’m using Remember the Milk (or RTM for short). One of RTM’s greatest strengths is being very feature-rich while still being flexible, which means that you can use it in a lot of different ways. Here are some of the things I’ve been pondering, and by pondering, I mean that I’ve been spending an inordinate amount of time reconfiguring my RTM to-do lists. If you’re new to RTM, as well, I spend some time explaining how to use it and sharing the time-saving tips that I’ve come across.

Continue reading “Using Remember the Milk for Getting Things Done”