January 6, 2016

Habit Forming

Habit Forming for 2016 on Shutterbean.com

My friend and I were talking about habits yesterday and what we would like to add to our daily routine this year. It’s a fun conversation to have because you can see how everyone differs. For example, my friend is in the habit of emptying  the dishwasher first thing when she wakes up, while I’m in the habit of waiting until I have too many dishes piled up on the counter before I empty mine. On the flipside,  I MUST MUST MUST make my bed first thing when I wake up but she’s not in the habit of doing so. These habits make us all unique. I find them kind of fascinating.

We are going to be having our kitchen cabinets painted this month, which means it will be out of commission for at least a week and I can’t waaaaaaaaaait to take everything out and put it back in again. Is that weird?  I’m in this headspace of editing the crap out of my life right now because all of the stuff I have is OWNING ME. I just want simplicity. I want better habits. I want a better foundation & routine.

This first week of the new year, I’m looking into my everyday habits and trying to figure out what I want to add and what I want to keep. I am also trying to be super realistic about this because life gets in the way and some habits never stick and some die hard.

Let’s talk about some of my habits and how I plan to change them…..

Habit Forming // shutterbean


-making lunch for Cooper  

If I make lunch the night before, my mornings run smoother. But lately, I’ve been doing it right before we leave for school and HOLY COW it’s stressful.  I think we’d both be in a better mental space if I didn’t wait until the last minute on that one. I also want to get HIM in the habit of making his own lunch. He’s done it before!

-forgetting that I need to pluck my eyebrows

High school aged Tracy used to be on top of i (oh man my brows were so sparse!) And in high school I used to reapply makeup throughout the day like clockwork. Current Tracy is like heyyyyyyyyy I guess I can go as Frida Kahlo for Halloween this year and not look in the mirror until it’s too late. The thing is, I’ve kinda put my physical self on the back burner. In the Fall, I was in the habit of taking a shower and putting makeup on before dropping Cooper off at school and I could see that it actually put me in a better mood. I fell out of that habit, though. When I look like a scrub, I kinda feel like one. SO, with that said maybe I’ll be better at looking my best this year so I can feel my best.  That doesn’t mean I’m not going to immediately put pjs on after dropping him off when I work from home 😉

-checking my phone the second I wake up

Such a bad habit!  I need to stop going into my whole cyber loop of Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Email before I even have a sip of coffee!  It sucks my energy, wastes time and can subconsciously put me in a mood if I’m not careful.  I want to kick that habit and fill it with a little meditative time so I feel more grounded before I start my day. I feel like this will be a big challenge, but I think it will make the most impact. I just have to set some ground rules for myself.

-keeping up with my blog schedule

What 2015 taught me is that consistency is awesome, but it can also be really boring. I focused so much on getting in my requisite posts each week that I didn’t allow enough playtime in the kitchen or time to put into other aspects of my work.  I want to spend a little more time feeding my creativity so I don’t feel tapped out. I want to put better energy into this blog and I think that means I’m going to be cutting some things out and adding in what feels right for me- right now. Like…this kind of post and more home/organizing stuff.

Habit Forming // shutterbean

-dealing with paper immediately before it becomes a problem

I’ve been really good about not bringing more paper into the house. Putting the recycling bing right outside out garage door has helped!  I just need to work on the piles that I already have going on here….It seriously took me 2 hours to find my expired passport yesterday and I finally found it in between a few books on a bookshelf. WTF?!

-spending 15 minutes every night as a family straightening things up

Here’s the thing. My house isn’t going to clean itself. If I do it all by myself, I get resentful and then I’m all yelling for no reason for everyone to PICK THINGS UP BECAUSE I CAN’T DO IT ALL ANYMORE. This is a habit I want to build for the family. I’d like us to set a timer and clean up all the mess we were responsible for. I think having the family room cleaned up before we sit down to dinner is a reasonable request! Let’s see how we do.

-making exercise a priority

It makes me feel better. It helps me clear my head.  I fell out of the habit…. like BIG TIME. Time to fix that.

-checking in on my phone less and being more present.

I practice this a lot and then fall out of the habit because I get unintentionally sucked back in. I turned off the email notifications on my phone because I knew that if I heard the alert sound or saw it on my phone, I couldn’t NOT check my email- even if I couldn’t respond. Sometimes I get complicated emails and then I’m all stressed when I need to have my energy in a better place. My time with my son is limited. He’s only this age once. He deserves my full attention.

But then on the flipside, I need to be more on top of my emails (who doesn’t?!) and I’ve thought about giving myself specific times of the day to deal with emails. I tried Mailstrom last year and it helped me get my inbox to zero but I have a hard time taking action with all my TO DOs in my inbox. How’s your inbox? Do you have a system? TELL ME EVERYTHING.

-clearing out the pictures on my phone and lessen my redundant backups

Because it means I have to delete things I don’t need in sooooooooo many places and then I get burned out and stop doing it altogether.  I’ve thought about setting an alarm on my phone to remind me, but I worry that I’ll just snooze it and never do it.  For the past year, I’ve been waiting until I’ve been on an airplane to clear out my phone. At one point I had 15k photos on my camera roll. Ummmmmm. Have any tips? Do you have a system that you like?

-doing research before jumping right in

I have a habit of figuring out things as I go because I am impulsive and like to just START. Then, when I’m deep into whatever I’m doing, I realize that I never thought things through and how they would change long term or how I needed to organize things for the future. I’m at this place right now where I’ve created a bunch of messes for myself because I didn’t do my research.  I’ll give you an example— naming files on my folder. I’ve created a few different systems and instead of dealing with all my files and doing it over, I started a new system and my brain can’t handle anymore so I don’t want to finish. I have two almost full hard drives filled with pictures that I haven’t felt like sorting through. In 2016, I’m transferring all of my photos to Lightroom from Aperture and am starting with a clean slate. I’m also finally setting everything up our banking stuff in Quickbooks like a fricking adult. But…instead of jumping right in, I am doing my research. I don’t want to screw this up. It feels good to be more thoughtful and deliberate. I know it will pay off in the long run.

-cleaning my car out at the end of each day

Sometimes I wait a week or two for things to get reaaaaaaaaally bad in my car for me to clean it out. It’s really stupid because I’m creating more work for myself. After awhile, my car becomes a closet and Cooper and I have SOOOOO many clothes/bags to bring in. I’m gonna make a habit of being better about bringing stuff inside. My laziness is getting on my nerves.

-putting things back where they belong 

After spending a whole weekend cleaning out our garage and taking down holiday decorations I got rid of soooooooo much stuff. At one point I realized how many duplicates of things I had of things and got so mad at myself. Like…. it’s cool that I have a tupperware for crayons but when I find ALL OF THE CRAYONS in our house at once and put them ALL away, there’s not enough space for all the crayons. Do we really need that many crayons? Or do we have so many crayons because I keep buying them because they’re never where they should be??  This happens on so many levels at our house (hello, SOCKS!) and I am sick of not having a place for everything. I want to reduce the things we have to the things we need and manage things better. Less is more, right?

-reading before bed

It’s easier for me to fall asleep if I get lost in a book before I go to bed. It distracts me from the running TO DO lists I have in my head. Right now I’m reading this book and it’s totally messing with my dreams (in a good way!).  I’ve been doing this for the past week…so I think I’m on my way to creating a new habit. I think it’s probably because we had a habit of watching 3+ episodes of Friday Night Lights every night for a month (Tim Riggins 4EVA!).  We’ve finished it now so reading is the new FNL. Or until we find another show to binge watch 😉

These are just a few habits I’d like to have/change/rework in 2016.

What about you? Do you have anything you’d like to add? Rework? 

If you’re thinking of re-working some of your habits, here’s a list of books that might help:

Habit Forming & books to look into. Check out more on Shutterbean.com!


  • Sophie

    Hey Tracy, my husband and I also are addicted to our phones. So! Since Jan 1, we have a special phone box near the front door – when you walk in, the phone goes in the box. There is a power outlet near it so it can charge there too. Hello living in the present! Goodbye Facebook black hole!

    • Tracy

      Does that mean you don’t look at it all night?!!

    • Kelly

      Culling my wardrobe was an epiphany. Now I’ve taken it too far; I’ve literally worn the same outfit to work for a solid 8…yes, 8, months. Now, not that I recommend it but sheesh, time saved *thinking* and GIVING A CRAP??? Hello!!! It’s a joy

  • Allison

    This is a fantastic post! Really great brain food for me right now. Thanks for getting me thinking and putting some infrastructure around what I want to do in the new year!

  • Danielle

    What a great post that definitely gave me some things to thing about. I’m looking forward to your home/organizing posts (those are my favorite!).

  • Jane

    These are some of my favorite posts that you do — bring on more! Love your writing, photos, and your recipes, Tracy. Thanks for all that you do.

  • Suzi S.

    Not sure if you’ve read Better than Before, but it’s been a literal life-changing book for me. HIGHLY recommend. It’s so much easier to stick to habits when we know what motivates us!

  • Julie

    I have read a lot of the books you mentioned and find them so fascinating. The one that Suzi mentioned (Better than Before) was also really interesting to me. It’s really hit home that my ability to start a new habit or break a bad one is very dependent on personality – meaning, some people are easily able to just make a change and some people need a buddy and even others will rebel against any idea about a new habit. So fun!

    • Tracy

      I must read this book!

      • Karen

        Gretchen Ruben (the author of Better Than Before) also has a podcast, Happier that she does with her sister. The did a couple not too long ago about The Four Tendencies – which touches on these topics. I’m sure the book is great and it is on my list to read, but if you want to dip your toe (or if you just prefer the podcast medium), you may like that.

  • Abby @ The Frosted Vegan

    I feel this SO hard! After finding that my ‘I’ll do this once’ was turning into a habit (Hello FNL, I just finished too!), I kept telling myself ‘I’m a grown ass woman, I know better!’. I love this post Tracy and would love to see more!

  • Eline

    I really love your post, thanks for sharing! 🙂 One request: I’m always looking forward to your Friday list – post, maybe that one can stay? 🙂

  • Rebecca Mosley

    I just wanted to say that I have been reading and following your blog for the past few years and I enjoy it very much. Your pictures are great too and the recipes are easy to follow. The recipes that I have made have always been delicious! Happy New Year to you and yours and I wish you much continued success.

  • Rachel

    You’re just the best. Thanks so much for sharing this today! I needed it.

  • Rachel Taylor

    Yes to all of this!

    For my phone photos, I started using this process: http://bneatobar.com/organizing-digital-pics-part-ii/

    Super helpful and really easy to manage!

    For my emails, I started using Gmail’s Inbox system, which automatically sorts emails into folders in your inbox, and you can pin different items and label them with what action is needed for each email. That helps me so much because I can see what needs to be done for every email without having to open it and refresh myself.

    I totally agree about keeping things put together so you don’t buy duplicates! When I cleaned out my fridge last week, I had 3 whole milk containers for different recipes, and all of the were barely used! Fail!

    • Tracy

      I tried Inbox for 5 minutes and was like UMM. CAN’T. Maybe I will give it another shot! Perhaps I should do some “research” and watch a video how it works?!

  • Ashley

    Wow, wow, wow, I feel ya, Tracy. The paper and phones especially. I’m hoping to snag a charging station or valet for phones so we’re not on them all the time and maybe even go back to an old school alarm clock so I’m not tempted to check my phone when I first get up. Re: the email inbox, I’ve heard great things about Boomerang, but haven’t tried it myself yet.

  • heather

    love this post! Really like the way you think and present ideas… love your blog! 🙂

  • Stacy

    The photo thing was an issue for me for a while, then I discovered Groove book. I use my icloud backup and have my pics set to download to my computer automatically through WiFi, That takes care of the back up part. Then once a month I load 100 photos to my Groove book app and print the book. This costs me $2.99/month and they are printed, bound in a 4×6 flip book and shipped to me. I can then decide to leave them in the book or put them in albums if I so desire. Once the book has been printed, and I receive it, the photos are deleted from my phone.

    • Tracy

      I’ve done some of that with Chatbooks for my instagram. My problem is that things get automatically uploaded to the cloud before I’ve had a chance to delete them from my phone…so then I have to delete things from my computer AND my phone and it doesn’t always sync up. Grrr.

  • Robyn

    I miss High Straightenence so much! It was such a great motivator for me to tackle some of the same areas in my own life. Would love to see more organizing posts on Shutterbean.

  • Kate

    As much as I enjoy your recipes, I like these posts end up being my favorites! I am all about improving and growing, especially in the new year. I deleted my Facebook, because it was too time-consuming, but I think I’m making up for it on Instagram, but at least there aren’t as many political rants. 😉 I also need to work on cleaning my car every week and stop treating my bedroom as a dump everything room when I get home. Oh, and exercise!

  • Nicole Russell Willis

    Tes! to more high straightenence!! whoo!! I made a rule for myself not to use my phone while I hang out with my daughter in the evening! I leave it in another room! Best habit I have!

  • Amanda

    Loved this post! Definitely trying to get myself sorted a little better this year, too! I also have to chime in on the recommendations for Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin. It gives so much information and practical advice about how to make habits work for the type of person you are, including obstacles you might face & how to overcome them. Look forward to reading more posts like this!

  • Chloe

    I also loved reading this! It would be great to see how you end up organizing your cabinets with a before/after post. I always find my kitchen and my bathroom the hardest to organize.

    Your comment about the stress of making lunches in the morning reminds me of one of my goals for the year. I am working to make the hours I spend at home more enjoyable. For the morning I’m trying to reduce stress by setting out clothes and making lunch the night before and getting up early enough to have a real breakfast a read a little bit. For the evenings, I am focusing on watching less tv so I have more time for things I love and care about.

  • Kayla

    Thank you for this post! I feel you on a lot of these. We have so much stuff that needs to be sifted through, but it starts to feel daunting and overwhelming so then I just don’t do anything. I love seeing how you organize so I’m looking forward to seeing more of that this year! And if you figure out a system for your photos please share! I need help in that department too. 🙂

  • Liz

    Oh this is so great! I have some of the same habits I’d like to break – lunch (for myself!) the night before, not scrolling my phone the moment I awake. One thing my husband and I are trying to make a habit is dinner at the actual table instead of on the couch in front of the TV. Even if it’s just noodles, it’s dinner and we can sit at the table like civilized people for a few minutes! Thanks for the good ideas & inspiration. Happy New Year!

  • Flora Margaret

    Years ago my friend Paul told me that he read that it takes 3 weeks to form a habit.

    I don’t know if there is data to support that, but I always think of that when I am trying to make a change and it helps. Maybe three weeks is the magic stretch-bu-within-reach number?

    Best of luck to you. And I want to echo Rebecca M’s comment above. I love your blog. I was following several blogs for awhile and just don’t have time anymore. Yours is the one I have stuck with. Love the design and photography, and spirit! I miss hearing you and Joy on your podcast. You always made me laugh! I would pay for that podcast BTW!

  • Caroline

    I loved this post! Once my baby grew out of the sleepy dumpling phase I fell out of the habit of checking in on my favorite blogs and mostly just read posts that caught my eye elsewhere – facebook, IG, twitter, and I missed them! I know it’s poor practice to choose vague goals – but my overall theme this year is to be more intentional – with my time, money, etc, and define that along the way. I tend to get way too specific, so it’s been a nice change to have more of a vibe for the year vs. twenty-seven goals I want to accomplish each and every day. Though, I do have some specific blog/writing/photography goals for the year!

    Excited to see what lies ahead for your blog! <3

  • Michele

    Great post as usual. And like others mentioned, I love the Friday Lists post.
    Here’s a tip that’s been GREAT for me.
    I have a “donation box” (about the size of a liquor box) in my closet. Anytime I try on a garment and it doesn’t fit, or I pick up something in my house that I don’t really care for or don’t need, I put it in the “donation box.” When it gets full I take it to the second hand store.
    I can’t stress enough how this uncluttered my life. Just knowing the box is there makes me pay better attention the the stuff I own.

    • Tracy

      I’ve got a bag in my closet for that very purpose! It’s such a game changer- I secretly love adding to it.

  • Leslie

    I love your blog, this post rang true with me, too! Love your recipes, and photography, but most of all, I LOVE “I love lists Friday” Keep that one up, please! BTW, Cooper is growing up too quickly. Enjoy your time with him!

  • Jamie

    I’m with you on getting back to exercise – I let that slide big time as soon as the cold and rain started. Here’s to more sweat in 2016. = )

  • Kati H-P

    I have tried two things this year or in recent months.

    First, I scanned Kondo’s Tidying Up Book, which I’m sure you’ve heard about a zillion times. The main gist of it was very helpful to me. My last room I finished tidying this past weekend… It feels so great to have the whole house in order and no hidden clutter traps. It also means you can find anything you need, don’t buy more of it, and use/access what you already have. This has been HUGE this year (it has been a year-plus project for us). It is so much more relaxing at home now! But, it’s just my husband and I–this may be more difficult with kids.

    Second, I just started a workout program (21DayFix), with the idea that you can do anything for 60 seconds, and you always have half an hour in a day, and you can form any habit in 21 days. This goes hand-in-hand with my cleaning project. Time to have less things, take up less space, and only focus on the important things in life. Now, to take my peepers off Facebook/Instagram, etc……

  • emily hassman

    My biggest probs are paper (freaking mail!), and things not getting put away because they never really had a proper home in the first place. Also, having a toddler and the enormous amounts of stuff that entails, but he’s not really a “problem” 😉 My organizational goal is to make a spot for all our stuff, and get rid of crap so there’s enough room for everything keep to have a home. I cleaned my desk on New Year’s Eve and it felt gooooood.

    Re: photos, I use iCloud to sync photos automatically off my phone, into the cloud and onto my home computer. I pay $2.99 a month, it took 5 min to set up, and there is zero maintenance. TWO THUMBS UP. (The only downside is I’m not as good about deleting the junk and duplicates, because space is not an issue.)

  • Laura Bradshaw

    Tracy, I Love that you are talking about Habits, it is so important to make good ones and talk about what helps people stick with them!
    Speaking of good Habits, Gretchen Rubin, The Goddess of good Habits will be in the Bay area with her sister Elisabeth Craft, they host a podcast together called Happier and it is all about habits and happiness boosters. I hear they will be in SF hosting a live show on Jan 21 and tickets are on sale at Slate.com. I wish I could make it to the Bay area for it but since you are close by there you should def check it out, at least the podcast. It is good car listening material 🙂
    Happy New Year!

  • Jess

    I am right there with you, this is a beautiful time of year to reassess how we’re living! I’ve been Big Magic and I’m excited to make more space in my life (and living space!) for that.

    My work inbox is “eh” (inbox 4o is my inbox 0), and my personal inbox always seems to be flooded with things I don’t remember subscribing for.

    I used to use folders, but a co-worker shared his method with me, and I love it.

    He archives everything, and then just searches for the method, rather than digging through folders. I do this at work, with the exception of a folder called “account info” that has random log-ins, important phone numbers, and other things that would be a pain to search for.

    My inbox is way too big to be my to-do list and that whole concept just stresses me out, so I stopped thinking of it that way. But it does help if I flag messages that need actions, or mark them unread.

    Also, if your inbox is WAY overwhelming, you can make folders by year and shove everything in there. Aahhhh.

    Happy New Year!

  • Talia

    I loved everything about this post! Keep’em coming!

  • Jenny

    I loved this post! I can’t wait to see what changed you have in store. I applaud you for making changes to stay to true to yourself and your needs. Here’s to habits in 2016, keeping the good and saying buh-bye to the bad.

  • Michelle

    Love this post! I’m currently reading Better Than Before and it’s a total game changer.

  • Kara

    Ohhh I love this Tracy! I have been thinking about my good and bad habits a lot lately as well. I totally relate to most of your good and bad habits—checking my phone the first thing, being more present, cleaning out my phone photos, reading before bed and putting things back to where they belong.

    I think a lot of it is willpower, mindset and seeing the positive outcome in habit change. For ex, around November I got into this really bad habit of constantly checking my Instagram in the middle of the night if I woke up which is often. But, then I just told myself to stop doing that because it was bad for me and I stopped. I also got myself to stretch for 10 minutes every morning which has consistently been happening for several months now. The difference in my day is quite noticeable. It’s less stressful and my body and mind feel better.

    Good luck and Happy New Year!

  • Erica

    Love this post. Finding new ways to add new levels of organization to my life make me so happy. This type of post, your organization posts, and your amazing Everyday Life posts speak so much to me.

    I really need to find a way to filter my Outlook work email to better track the to-do items lurking in there. It feels like it’s getting harder to keep afloat with how much I need to deal with each day at work.

  • Amanda

    Yes! I second someone’s comment above suggesting the Google Photos app. It has been life-changing for me! (Well, maybe not life-changing, but pretty darn amazing.) Here’s a post that explains how to use it: http://bneatobar.com/organizing-digital-pics-part-ii/

    The app even has a function now that will delete any photos from your phone that have been backed up, if you want it to. No more cloud for me! Yay, Google!

  • Jenna

    I have similar resolutions/ habits to change or create for this year – particularly the phones/ screens in the evening & reading before bed instead. (Speaking of which… I should probably put my laptop away & get on that). I’m also trying to do yoga two set nights a week with my husband – going well so far, hopefully we can keep it up! We have a nearly 14 month old so I really try to be present in the moment when I’m with her – but I also work from home while I look after her – so it’s a tricky balance sometimes.

    • Tracy

      It’s such a tricky balance! It took me so long to get into a good routine for myself/family after we had Cooper. Like…..2-3 years!

  • Jane M

    So very inspiring this post! Lots of interesting things to inspire me that I will work on in 2016. I have to say it took for my dear Mom to pass for me to learn to stop buying STUFF – because in the end it’s just stuff that sooner or later gets hauled to the curb in a black garbage bag! So that turned me into a $$ saver -a bit late in my life but yes I do the weekly challenge goal – (time 3 this year!).

  • Farrah

    Hi Tracy,

    This post was quite refreshing to read. Habits are not easy, especially if you want to build one or break one. It takes time. Give time time. It’s easier said than done, I completely get it.
    For my phone pictures, I do try to keep it to a maximum of only 300-400 pictures on my phone. When it reaches that number, I look through it all or most of it and delete the ones I have not looked at for a long time or isn’t necessarily important to have/keep. I back up my phone to iTunes and while doing so, I save the pictures on my laptop. When I have done that, I delete most of the pictures and keep one that I like to look at from time to time, which is not as much. Probably 40 pictures. But I don’t take pictures daily, and I am sure you do. You will find something that works for you because we all differ in our own ways in regards of how we live our lives.

    And for the exercise part, gosh. Yes. I am with you on that. My laziness is getting the best of me. I hate it and I continue want to change it but when I get home from a 8-4:30 job I would cook dinner but then it would get to approximately 7:00 when we have cooked and ate and I tell myself it’s too late. I then go to bed and lie down and scroll on Instagram for 20 minutes. I could’ve worked out for 20 minutes that I’ve wasted scrolling on Instagram. Haha. I will have to set up a very strict routine soon to get my ass up and going even if it’s only for 10 minutes. We all have one body and we all should treat it like a queen that we all are.

    Good luck with making and breaking your new and old habits! You got this, Tracy!
    P.S. I love your Friday lists, and your posts like this one. Keep them coming! 🙂

  • India

    I love posts like this too. They’re encouraging and help me think outside of my normal routine. I love, love, love your recipes, but always wondered how you kept up with that routine. Thanks for all your posts!

  • Dayna@kaleidoscopebrain

    I love this post Tracy. I think about this stuff a lot for myself, and I like to write myself a journal entry about the past year, and I really like this approach of thinking about it like habits.

    Anyway, love the post.-Dayna

  • Joy

    Love this post! I’ve started doing a crossword puzzle right before bedtime in order to try and turn my brain off from worrying about work stuff. It’s just the right amount of mind work necessary for me and so far it’s helping.

  • Kristen

    When my boys were young I was a single mom, and I had to have help cleaning just to keep it somewhat sanitary — and we’re not talking anywhere near perfection, mind you. We did what we called the “five-minute clean up” almost every day. The rules were: 1) no slacking — you really had to give it your ALL for 5 minutes 2) only one “five-minute clean up” per day (unless last minute company called.) It worked great and we even had a song we sang while we did it. It was a goofy song with only one verse that we made up, and we sang it really loud and raucously. It worked — so much got done in that five minutes set on the egg timer! Even when they reached their teens they were willing to do “the five-minute clean up” and the song got louder and rowdier!!

  • danielle

    Really appreciate this post, and hope you do another illustrating how you tackle things. I’d love help with a lot of the same stuff. Great knowing what others do.

  • Emma

    Hi Tracy,

    I’d love to see how you’re researching the move to Lightroom, as I’ve been considering the leap myself! I’ve read your blog for years, it’s always been one of my favourites. I used to live in San Anselmo, and your posts make me so happy to see my old Bay Area stomping grounds. I’ve also lived in Vancouver, and would love to see your take on where to eat and what to do there.

    Thanks for doing what you do!

  • Lori

    Enjoyed this post. I want to get out of the habit of checking facebook before bed. Facebook always keeps me up. Books are so much better!

  • Lexie

    I love your site because it is so relatable.
    I was never a person that made their bed until I read The Happiness Project, now I must make the bed or I don’t feel right leaving the bedroom to start my day.

    I’ve also been struggling with this need that what we have, must be only what we need and with that everything must have a place and be put back where it belongs. And I say struggle because when things are not where they belong or left out, it annoys me and I get crabby and then I don’t rest until it is put back. Also add the fact that spouse is not like me, so I am doing it for both of us and that resentment does build up! How can we balance that?

    • Tracy

      I think that I am at the point where my memory isn’t what it used to be and I am sick of looking for something that I didn’t put back in the right space.

      I live with two people who don’t put things back where they’re supposed to and it drives me NUTS. But I started to ask for help and this timer thing for us is really working. As I sit here and type this my family room is a complete mess and I’m about to set the timer and make everyone help.

      Here’s the thing- Don’t ask, don’t get. Show your husband that it’s important to you!

  • Emily

    Please post more organizing stuff!! I love your organization posts.

  • Kathryn

    Hi Tracy,
    I love Amazon cloud as a backup. I find it’s the only one I need because it has infinite photo storage for prime subscribers (or $10 a year if you don’t have prime). It’s pretty automatic and I find it just makes everything super seamless and easy. Also, on my canon rebel, there is a menu option that allows me to delete everything at once, which I just discovered recently. I now do this every few months after quickly checking to make sure my cloud is up to date.

  • Erin

    Tracy, I love all of your recipes and tips and lists and photos, but to be honest, my favorite posts of yours are posts like these – keep writing! 🙂

  • Ellen

    Hi Tracy,

    So much of what you write rings true for me, especially checking your phone less and being present. That’s been a major project of mine (blocking mode is pretty much my best friend!), and the podcast Note to Self really helps. Do you listen? It addresses so much of my struggles: clearing out photos, dealing with paper, etc. Last week’s episode even confirmed that all my list-making is the best approach to an organized brain! I hope you like it as much as I do.



    P.S. Looking forward to your new purse organization system!

  • Jonena

    So true, and real life is so crazy! We have a list of things we want to accomplish this year on our fridge (with garden projects especially prominent). We did this accidentally in 2014 and actually completed everything on the list! We never talked about it or referenced — it just lived on the fridge. I didn’t make one last year, and I have such a wah-wah feeling about our house project accomplishments last year. My personal big goal is meal planning, and we’ve started making a list of what we want for the week (protein, salad, snacks, breakfast, soup, sides) and then I make a shopping list, my husband does the shopping, and then we do a big day of cooking (and thankfully, this has become cleaning the house/do little projects time too while things simmer away). It’s a nice way to spend a weekend day and helps my headspace so much to know we have good food available all week. The other is walking together, and we’ve started scheduling it on the calendar and picking a quick meal (soup!) to have that night. I’m hoping that the happiness that comes from these two things will help them become habits, and it sure helps to have such support and buy-in (ugh, that phrase!) from my husband.

  • Natalia (basmatilime.blogspot.com)

    It’s so weird how life surprises the hell out of me, I don’t really believe in destiny but my goodness is the world trying to prove me otherwise. Last night I couldn’t sleep because my house is a real mess. My children never pick up their toys and I’m so tired at night that I let it be, Morning comes and I see all the toys still on the floor and it sets the worst mood for the day. Great start.
    So when I came through this post this morning I was speechless for a while. When I read the family 15 minute clearing before supper it was like Jackpot!!!! This is it!!! This is what I’m going to do with my girls every night. No excuses. No “I can’t I’ve got homework” No “My favorite show is about to start” Enough!!!.
    The same goes for Instagram. I’m in an Instagram contest and I’m checking the phone ALL THE TIME…it’s ridiculous!! So last night when I couldn’t sleep I thought I’m going to hide the phone until the kids are in bed and then I won’t take longer than 15 minutes… This image of my little girl asking me questions when her mother is glued to the phone and doesn’t reply will not happen ever again..
    I can’t really give you much advice on many things here… I’m taking it in…All in.. The only thing I’ve been able to tackle throughout last year and still going strong is the exercise part. For the last year I’ve been really consistent with exercise and I think it’s what’s kept me sane all along. The key for me is to make it first priority. For instance the day before I think about the time when it’s most convenient for me to exercise. And there’s no turning back. Before your mind starts playing tricks get dressed for exercise and head out…. Don’t think about it. Just do it… it will take a while but it will become a habit..Trust me…

    • Tracy

      I gotta work on the exercise part! Hoping to make that a real habit this year. My dad works out EVERY DAY without fail and he tells me all the time that it’s just apart of his routine. That when he doesn’t do it, his day suffers. I want to make that happen!

  • Kelsey

    I love habits and thinking about them, and getting an insight into habits of other people. Love these kinds of “organizing” posts on Shutterbean! On the exercise front, I am obsessed with Orange Theory right now, if there is one convenient to you check it out. It’s hard but there’s great music, someone else runs the workout (so you don’t have to give a thought to what do do) and it’s effective – I’ve noticed a huge benefit to my fitness. Happy new year and new habits!

    • Tracy

      I just saw an Orange Theory studio the other day and was curious! I’m definitely going to look into it! Thanks for the heads up!

  • CK

    Great ideas! I work from home and totally hear you on the being a scrub part… whoops. Also, I read the Charles Duhigg book on Habits and really enjoyed it – it’s an easy yet riveting read!

    We just finished FNL as well! We were a little late to the game (heh) but SO GOOD. Not to dissuade you from nightly reading, but I highly recommend series 1 of Bloodline on Netflix so you can continue to get your fix of Coach Taylor! <3

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