Social media scheduling template (free download!)

I think one of the worst parts about being a chronically over-obsessive Type A person is never being satisfied with anything commercially available when it comes to office supplies and organizational tools. Finding planners and apps and tools to track and schedule my day has always been a huge, huge challenge. I’m really picky, and nothing ever really seems to suit my needs.

The other day, I set out to find a social media scheduling tool that I liked… and…

I couldn’t find one.

Color me totally not surprised.

I spent a good amount of time poking around for a template I liked, and after a few wasted hours, I just decided to go ahead and make my own!

When I first designed the scheduler, I was managing about seven Facebook accounts and two Twitter accounts, plus a slew of other accounts on other platforms. Then, a member of my team left and the workload got shifted around a bit, so now I’m down to two Facebook accounts and two Twitter accounts. So, I quickly redesigned the scheduler.

But, now I think it works perfectly for what I need it for!

DIY social media scheduling template. Planning tools for social media managers.

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Most worn this spring

Is it just me, or does it feel like summer spring is N E V E R going to get here?

Earlier this week I posted a recap of my past year in Chicago. I’ve been reliving the apartment searching, moving and unpacking I was doing exactly a year ago on Timehop when I realized that, at this time last year, I was wearing crop tops and shorts.

I think we’ve had less than a week’s worth of “t-shirt weather” days in Chicago so far this year.

So, dressing for spring has definitely been a challenge. Normally at this point in the year, I’ve moved over to skirts and sandals. But this spring? It’s too cold for open-toed shoes so I haven’t even had an excuse to get a pedicure yet.

But I’m lazy so that’s a silver lining, I guess?

So, getting dressed every morning has definitely been a challenge this April and May. It’s really hard to face my closet every morning when I want to break out the chiffon skirts and sleeveless blouses, but am still stuck in thick cardigans and knits.

I’ve kind of compromised a bit by wearing a lot of navy and white paired together (more than usual) and sulking around a bit.

I’ve done these posts before and they usually get pretty good reviews, so here’s a list of the things I’ve worn the most this spring.

I’ve worn some of these things an embarrassing amount. Just ask my coworkers.

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hat | shirt | belt | tote bag | jeans | shoes | blazer (old, similar) Continue Reading

One year in Chicago

Well, it’s been one year, to the day, since I moved to Chicago.

And so, it only feels right to pen a love letter to this amazing place I get to call home.

It’s been an absolutely crazy year, and I wouldn’t change it for anything.

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Life lately

Arigato hey!

So, way back when, I used to do a weekly wrap-up called Sundown Rundown, where I would post my weekly highlights: what I had done, what I had read, what I had bought, etc.

Then, life got a liiiittle crazy, and I didn’t have time for blogging. My posting frequency dropped down to twice a week. Then to once a week. Then it was just three months straight of weekly recap posts. Then I realized that was pointless (because really who cares amirite?) and so I just kind of stopped those.

Life is slooowwly starting to cut back on the chaos again (knock on wood), and so I’ve started to get back to blogging. To be honest, I’ve always kind of struggled a bit with finding a focus for my blog. Weekly recaps sometimes seem like a waste of time, Pinterest-optimized tutorials sometimes seem informal and affiliate link-laden posts are, frankly, annoying. But, this is a blog about my life. So when I lose focus, this site always comes back to, well, me.

Keeping my blog authentic, down-to-Earth and reflective of my personality is pretty important to me. So, I figured I’d give a quick(ish) recap of what’s been going on in my life lately.

graffiti_alley_ann_arborGraffiti Alley in Ann Arbor — photo by Armando Sanchez Continue Reading

Seattle in 48 hours

Hello from PDT! EDT? CDT?

I’m feeling quite a bit jet lagged right now (I’m back in Central time after hitting up Pacific and Eastern all in a 24-hour span), but the complete-and-total exhaustion is totally worth it. I spent this past Friday and Saturday on the other side of the country in Seattle, and it was one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever taken — even though it was way shorter than I would have liked.

randi_shaffer_seattle_skyline_1Photo by Alex Van Der Stuyf

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Rainy days in Chicago

Rain, rain, go away.

During rainy days, I love to sit on my couch with a cup of tea and a book. But sometimes — like, yunno, work days — that can’t happen.

I’ve touched on it before, but one of the biggest transitions I faced moving from Mount Pleasant to Chicago was the stark change in commuting. In Mount Pleasant, I relied on my car to get me from A to B in five minutes. Now, I use the L. And I walk. A lot. A 45-minute trek to get five miles is not uncommon at all.

Getting caught in a sudden rainstorm in Mount Pleasant wasn’t such a big deal, since my car was always parked 20 yards away at most.

But getting caught in a rainstorm in Chicago? It was an entirely different story. Now, it’s not uncommon to walk through a downpour four to seven blocks to the L, or wait outside for 10 minutes at an unsheltered bus stop.

I initially figured my coated trench would work fine enough. After two hours of shopping and brunching during a drizzle last spring, my shirt and hair were both soaked through the coat, and it became very, very clear to me that rainwear was not something I could skimp on.

So… I went shopping!helly_hansen_kirkwall_5 Continue Reading

How to fake being a morning person

I have never been a morning person.

In college, I worked at a bar. I routinely worked until 3 a.m. and had a 4 a.m. bedtime — an 11 a.m. wakeup call for noon classes. At my first post-grad job, I was routinely so late to my 9 a.m. starting time that my boss kind of just accepted it, and my morning start time slowly just shifted to 10 a.m.

Now, at the Tribune, I start my day shifts at 10 a.m., which isn’t too bad.

But (because nothing can ever be uncomplicated in a relationship between two journalists), my boyfriend Mando was recently switched from his afternoon shift to…

A 6 a.m. shift.

Major groans. SOS smoke signals. Pleading cries for help.

Because I spend a lot of time working (full time at the Trib, freelancing and blogging), it was really important to me that I have some free time to spend with Mando. So, the two of us worked out a schedule that would have me waking up at 5:30 a.m. during the week so I could put in some blogging and freelance hours while he was at the Tribune, and then I would have some free time at night once I finished up my eight-hour work day.

The only downside to the plan is the whole waking-up-before-6-a.m. part.

So, I’ve gotten pretty good at downing unhealthy levels of caffeine and figuring out other tips and tricks for getting on a morning schedule.

Trick one? Coffee. In a cute mug.cute_white_gold_coffee_mugs

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Lincoln Park Conservatory

Happy St. Paddy’s Day! It’s a day for green, and so, I’m sharing a bit of green with you. But kind of in a totally-different-than-expected way.

I can’t believe winter is almost done and over with. Chicago temps are back up in the 40s and 50s. The snow is gone, the river has melted and we’ve even been teased with a few 70-degree days. This winter was as mild as it was predicted to be and — after a few really harsh winters — I definitely do not hate it.

But, even though the snow has disappeared and the ice has melted, the Midwest is still looking pretty… brown.

I had booked a vacation flight to Phoenix during the last weekend of February, but then it snowed and O’Hare canceled all of its flights. Long story short, I took the L to O’Hare, found out about the cancellation, rescheduled for a standby flight the next day, went home, went back to O’Hare the next day, had a three-hour delay waiting by the gate for the standby flight and then went back home after the standby flight was overbooked. My entire trip was canceled and (after 30 hours of packing, repacking and airport back-and-forth) I was so upset. I was really looking forward to surrounding myself with warmth and green!

So, a trip to the warm, humid and bright Lincoln Park Conservatory was a much-needed dose of spring in a dreary brown Chicago.

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National Reading Month

Happy National Reading Month!

I’ve always been an avid reader. I grew up out in the country, so during every summer break when I was younger, my mom relied heavily on books for entertainment. We didn’t have cable! Every Sunday, she would drive me, my brother and my sister to our local public library. I would check out the maximum number of books (12 — some of my favorites were Sweet Valley High, Nancy Drew and Lois Duncan) and take them home. I would usually finish them before Friday. I loved reading.

And I still do. I don’t have endless summer months under the watch of a babysitter to spend flipping cover-to-cover anymore, but I’ve started to make more time for pleasure reading in my schedule now that I’m out of school.

I’ve made it a goal this year to read 26 books — one every other week.

It was kind of hard to find time to read. Since I used to have the time to sit down and read an entire book from cover-to-cover with no interruptions, it’s been hard growing up and realizing it’s not really practical to do that. I might get an atypical Sunday night to read an entire book once in a while, but often, it just doesn’t happen.

So, let’s talk about finding time to read.kindle_screensaver Continue Reading