Timeboxing Vs To-Do List

I like to use both methods. Goal setting is key to every entrepreneur and to reach your goals your Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) you need to take small steps toward the desired BHAG every day.

Goal setting is the method most of us used to get things done, but should we use timeboxing vs to-do list? It mainly depends on how good you are at accomplishing tasks and setting realistic time frames for your business and personal projects.

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What Is Timeboxing

Timeboxing is simply good old fashion calendar management. Using a digital calendar/planner (I prefer a week-at-a-glance planner) you allocate time to projects based on your estimated completion time; or you slot a specific time each week to complete a repetitive task.

When you timebox items on your calendar, aka schedule them, you are committing to set aside a time during the day to complete a task. If you can’t complete it, you can least make progress on your project.

This works really well for long-term goal setting along with tasks you perform every day/week. For example, keeping up with social media can be a full time job, but necessary in this tech age. Try blocking off one hour on my calendar every morning to address social media. Check all of your accounts, respond to messages, post new pics/info, etc. On Friday, schedule two hours to give yourself time to plan and schedule posts for the next week. This way, you are not checking in every few hours. Unless there is something that needs immediate attention, you can be confident you will have scheduled time to respond.

To-Do Lists

As far as a to-do list goes, we know when were are composing them that there is way too much stuff listed to get done in one day. Additionally, we tend to chose the easiest items on the list to complete, leaving the large, time-sucking projects until tomorrow. Can you say procrastination?

Don’t get me wrong, a good to-do list is an awesome tool.

But it ends up being one of those things that basically keeps notes of what needs to get done. The items roll from day-to-day. Some may get checked off, but many eventually end up on the calendar when they become a priority or a fire, Yikes!

What Works Best

I like to use both methods, they work well in tandem. Goal setting is key to every entrepreneur and to reach your Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) you need to take small steps toward the desired BHAG every day. Timeboxing will help you accomplish these baby steps if you set aside specific, dedicated time slots for them.

I hope you enjoyed my take on timeboxing vs to-do list. You might want to read my Planners Make Goal Setting Simple article where I review my 2021 planner. I would be lost without my planner, for sure!

Okay, on to tackling my GHAGs!

Sandi

How My Bonvoy Card Saved Me From An Airbnb Nightmare

As we turned down the red dirt road, throwing sandy dust into the air, my daughter spoke of a bad Airbnb nightmare she had about this place — that it was sketchy.

Did she already know? She had booked the Airbnb months ago because it was dog friendly and she was in the process of getting a puppy. She had an idea of what she had booked, I was hopeful but not confident.

Travel With Sandi is a participant in an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. Here is what I know about travel. Everyone’s taste is different. The opinions expressed here are mine alone.

The Nightmare Begins

As we drove up the dusty road decorated with broken down trailers, junk yards, and free ranging dogs, I had a really bad feeling.

Okay, the trailer didn’t look too bad, the yard, a red sandy dirt pile, lacked any appeal, the trailer was unlocked, keys on the table. By the way, the photo below is not the trailer in question – but it’s a fun photo!

My eyes were drawn to the gilded framed print above the cheap linen drapes – the rest of the décor was 70’s velvet Elvis. The trailer was clean, so we dragged our stuff in. After all, we were in Big Water, Utah, and it was only for a few days.

The rear door led to the barely “fenced in yard.” After opening the rear door, the step out was a 5×3 foot plank platform about 18 inches above the red dirt, requiring us to jump down and our 12 pound puppy to tentatively hop off. I’m guessing it was not up to code.  The yard was all dirt and full of dog waste. The trailer next door had a yard full of rusting collectibles guarded by two large and angry dogs. The fence shook as they jumped at it hoping to get a nibble on us or the puppy.

Upon further inspection, the light switches in the bathroom were taped onto the wall – I’m sure that wasn’t up to code either. The shower was marginally disgusting. Worst of all, the exterior doors didn’t shut properly.

Photo by John Mark Jennings on Unsplash

No sleep happening

We decided to stay for the night and clipped the questionable locks closed. When we pulled the louver blinds we discovered there were missing pieces allowing a good look into the living room – where one daughter slept on the futon. 

My other daughter, the puppy, and I took the bedroom. The bed was incredibly lumpy, the sheets were rough, and the pillows were so flat my head was below my shoulders. I parked my massive suitcase in front of the back door, giving me some warning if someone tried to get in. Needless to say, we didn’t get any sleep.

About 2 in the morning there were two very large thumps from the front of the trailer. I flew to the living room expecting to see someone coming through the front door. It was my daughter and she was on the floor. The futon tipped over when she rolled over in the bed. Geeze!

The solution

We needed to get out and decided at 2 a.m. we would move. I had 80,000 Bonvoy points and found a lovely Marriot in Page, Arizona, just a few miles away. They were dog friendly and had a room for the next two nights. We booked it, packed the car, and left.

We texted the Airbnb maven to tell her our plans changed and we were leaving. She actually refunded the two nights – a very small amount – but then complained that we trashed the trailer. In reality, we left a plate, a knife and three wine glasses in the sink. We picked up our puppy poops, tossed out a few food wrappers in the trash, stripped the futon for her, and only used one hand towel and one tiny bar of soap. This chick was crazy. 

We notified Airbnb we were afraid for our safety. My daughter left a very general review about how the Airbnb maven was gracious about returning our rent. In return, she then left a nasty review for my daughter; more Airbnb nightmare 

Return to vacation joy

The Courtyard Marriott Page at Lake Powell was just what we needed. Two queen beds, a sparkling clean shower, a patio door to walk out with the puppy, a pool, and a great location. My points covered the room and we paid a $25 pet fee. Small price to pay for safety and security.

The moral of the story. I use my Bonvoy Card to pay my phone, cable, utilities, groceries, and other expenses. I accumulate over 5,000 points each month and they add up fast. This usually gives me enough points for two, three, or four nights stay in a year, plus I get a free room added on my renewal anniversary. There is an annual fee, but it is nothing to compare to what I get in return.

We have used our Points in many different cities, but this is the second time it has been handy as bailout to avoid a questionable stay. 

If you are looking for a credit card that offers you all kinds of wonderful benefits, you should consider the Chase Bonvoy Card. It may just save you from an Airbnb nightmare.

Enjoy the journey,

Sandi

PS If you are planning to rent an Airbnb, which we actually do quite often as most of them are lovely; check out my Airbnb Rental Tips And Tricks. My daughter should have followed these suggestions.

How To Plan The Perfect Road Trip

Road trips are the way we travel this summer. How to plan the perfect road trip and getting out there, when you are ready, will let you experience what’s in your own back yard.

Road trips are the way we travel this summer. Now that states are opening up, getting in our car and driving to a “near to me” destination is a safer way to enjoy the late summer and early fall. These tips on how to plan the perfect road trip will get you started on the right foot.

Travel With Sandi is a participant in an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees. Here is what I know about travel. Everyone’s taste is different. The opinions expressed here are mine alone.

Before You Go

Jumping in the car and just driving can be fun and adventurous. However, with state-by-state restrictions a little planning before hand will be helpful.

Decide where you want to visit, is it just one state or more. Campground and hotel reservations are required due to the limited number of guests they can accommodate – unless you don’t mind sleeping in your car. Ah – no thank you.

It is imperative you check the restrictions for the state(s) you will be traveling through. Each state has their own set of travel guidelines which are fluid and fluctuate as the local statistic change. Start here for New England travel restrictions.

Now for the fun part. Planning the drive. Check travel destination sites like TravelAwaits.com and AAA.com for road trip ideas.

How To Plan The Perfect Road Trip
Camden Harbor, Camden ME

Where To Stay

The large chain hotels are typically going above and beyond the CDC cleaning requirements and the smaller inns are required to follow the cleaning guidelines also. You should feel free to call them and question them on their cleaning protocol.

We have stayed in several small inns and also large resorts around New England for the last two months. I only found one incident were I was not happy with room, but I also didn’t call ahead of time.

Where To Eat

As a travel writer, food is a large part of my articles. I always plan where we eat before we start our trip.

Most places now offer outdoor dining – my preference. Some offer limited indoor dining. Unless it’s raining, when I’m on vacation I want to eat outside.

Planning your meals and making lunch and dinner reservations does tend to hem in your day. However, without a reservation, you may find yourself at the grocery store buying a picnic dinner. Which can also be fun.

National Parks can be a good choice

We have spent a lot of time hiking in the state and national parks. Which, by the way, may also require advanced registrations as many have limited their parking or closed the beaches.

States that do no require masks can make popular trail heads that are crowded feel risky. Less traveled trails will bring you close to Mother Nature’s soothing effect and offer less social interaction.

What I Love About Road Trips

Americans are getting to know there local area again. They are discovering there is so much to see and do right here in this great country we call home.

With a road trip that is less than a day’s drive from home, if you feel uncomfortable, you can pivot or just go home. In this time of uncertainty, feeling grounded in our roots, experiencing our neighboring towns, interacting with lovely people, and enjoying our freedoms unites us as Americans.

Road trips are the way we travel this summer. How to plan the perfect road trip and getting out there, when you are ready, will let you experience what’s in your own back yard. Here in New England you could start with Plymouth MA for some early American history and amazing seafood.

Safe Travels,

Sandi

Video Blogger Tools That Won’t Break The Bank

Subject matter – start with your back yard, or your street. Take a walk, enjoy the neighborhood. Look for something interesting. The just start video taping, you can edit later.

Here is a short list of tools that will take your video blogging from struggling to Wow-you-did-this-with-your-phone with video blogger tools that won’t break the bank.

Subject matter – start with your back yard, or your street. Take a walk, enjoy the neighborhood. Look for something interesting. Then just start video blogging, you can edit later. You will need to take quite a few videos to find your style. Keep at it.

Travel With Sandi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

Phones and cameras

Use your phone. I have an iPhone XS Max with 512GB. This phone has lots of storage and takes great pictures and videos. Get as much storage as you can afford. Videography takes up a lot of storage. Amazon has this phone unlocked and with a Renewed Guarantee at a pretty good price.

The new iPhone 11s are out but you can still get some refurbished ones.

Anyway you slice it, you need a good camera to take videos. I like my phone because it’s always with me. I also like Apple because the free editing software is pretty good.

If you prefer, a DSLR works well too, but it’s like duplicating everything you carry with you. I know enought to get myself in trouble with a Digital SLR camera, but there are lots of great reviews on Amazon. Make sure it has decent video capabilities.

Lighting

For on site production – a simple lighting kit will work well. When I’m photographing something in my studio or where I have control, I use a very inexpensive lighting kit that works perfectly. It’s a three piece lighting set from Limo Studio.

Lighting while you are traveling is a little trickier. Trying to catch a great shot of your dinner in a dimly lit restaurant is almost impossible. This small, rechargeable selfie ring from Meifigno has three light modes and just clips on to your phone. Slip it on, snap a few mouthwatering photos, and store it away, perfect.

stability

For stability you will need a tripod, I love this inexpensive tripod with bluetooth from UBeesize. It is perfect for when I want the camera stable and remote access.

My new fun toy is the DJI OSMO Mobile 3. This sweet little gadget stabilizes your cell phone and offers multiple controls to create stable videos while you are walking, running, and any other way you are moving fast. It takes all the jiggling out of the video. And it’s not as expensive as you would expect.

I hope you have enjoyed drooling over these Video Blogger Tools that won’t break the bank! I have fun using them, and it has upped my vlogging game.

Check out my two Youtube Vlogs:

My new vlog, Travel With Sandi

Bespoke Fashion and Sewing With Sandi

Here’s to getting lost in the journey,

Sandi

Airbnb Rental Tips And Tricks

Look at the pictures, they should tell a story. Are the beds nicely made and are they the right size for you? Will the Kitchen, Living Room and Dining Room work for your stay? Do the Bedrooms have doors? What does the front of the building look like? Is there parking? How about public transportation?

We love Airbnb! It is my first go to when we are traveling, it doesn’t matter if it is just the two of us or it is with my 3 daughters, son-in-law, granddaughter and my mom. Right now I am planning a trip with another couple to Europe and we are looking at Airbnb’s for most of our housing. We have booked all over the US, Dublin, London, Lisbon, Barcelona, and Paris. With a few simple Airbnb rental tips and tricks, you can help insure a great stay.

Travel With Sandi is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Travel With Sandi also participates in the Awin, Airbnb, and CJ Affiliate programs.

The process I use for booking is the same, no matter who is going or where we are traveling. I follow these Airbnb rental tips and tricks to book every stay. Note: we always stay in a lock out – renting the entire space – I am not totally into the “Bed and Breakfast” type of rental. I personally would not share a room either.

Airbnb Plus

Once you have decided on your destination, investigate and decide a preferred neighborhood or two. It is too easy to go down the rabbit hole looking at all the pretty pictures; you may end up far away from your “ideal fun spot”. You need to focus your search so it matches your goals i.e. shopping, dining, nightlight, museums, etc.

I start with the Airbnb Plus listing and see if one of those work. According to the Airbnb website, Plus listers, among other things must:

“To be eligible for Airbnb Plus, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Maintained an average rating of 4.8 over the past year
  • Accepted 95% of booking requests over the past year, including instantly booked reservations
  • No canceled reservations over the past year (except for penalty-free cancellations)

Additionally, Plus spaces must be:

  • Thoughtfully designed in a way that shows your unique style and personality
  • Well-equipped with amenities like wifi and coffee
  • Well-maintained and clutter-free
  • Outfitted with comfy mattresses, high-quality bedding, and plush towels”

Starting with these listings is a great way to guarantee you will have a fabulous experience. If I can’t find an Airbnb Plus listing in my target neighborhood, I continue to the rest of the listings. We have had many great stays in housing that had not yet been upgraded to Airbnb Plus

Where to Begin

To begin your search on the site, set your filters. The more filters you set, the narrower your search. Set your destination, dates and number of guests. Then use additional filters to further narrow your search. How many beds do you want? how many bedrooms? Bathrooms? Laundry? Pool? Wifi?

I don’t add neighborhoods in the filters. Firstly, they are not all listed and I may find a perfect place on the edge of my neighborhood. The map will populate on your screen and you can shift tit o reflect your desired neighborhood; the listing shown will be within that map area. This is very handy if you want to expand or constrict your search.

Next, go through the listings shown and quickly review the photos to see if the decor appeals to you. Do you want a balcony? See if the photos show one and also the view; you don’t want to be viewing the house across the alley (ask me how I know!). Do you want multiple bedrooms with certain size beds? What floor do you want to stay on? Save these listing to a wish list you set up specifically for this location. The wish lists are a great tool, particularly if you are visiting more than one city.

After you have done a cursory review. Go to your wish list and give each listing a thorough review.  Remove the ones that don’t meet your standards.

Things to look for

  • Beds don’t always mean bedrooms – think bunk room
  • Bedrooms may not have a door, it could be a loft or a drape that separates the room
  • Bathrooms do not always have showers and/or tubs
  • Patios/decks do not always have a view
  • Older buildings usually do not have elevators
  • TVs are not standard – a must have for my hubby!
  • Dishwashers, Washers, Dryers, Coffee maker – are these necessary for your stay?
  • If there are more than a few decor photos – it makes me question what they are not showing?

Look at the pictures, they should tell a story. Are the beds nicely made and are they the right size for you? Will the Kitchen, Living Room and Dining Room work for your stay? Do the Bedrooms have doors? What does the front of the building look like? Is there parking? How about public transportation?

Also consider the reviews. They should be recent and well written. You want to see positive comments about the location, cleanliness, ease of check in and responsiveness of the owner. Read between the lines!

You need to consider the Total Cost of the rental, not all rentals have the same fees. You will find Service and Cleaning fees on some rentals – so check the bottom line!

Review Your Stay

Lastly, after you check out; leave a review for your host. You build credibility with future hosts based by leaving good reviews. Make your review truthful and positive.

Check out Airbnb for your next trip and follow these few simple Airbnb rental tips and tricks when you book.

Happy Travels!

Sandi