Sometimes I just need to paint something, glue something, and make something cute, ya know? Life can get so hectic but there is something about taking 30 minutes (or less) and doing a craft project that calms me down. So every once in a while I will stop what I’m doing and pull out some supplies and see what happens.
That’s the story behind this quick, easy and totally cute Valentine’s Day craft – a “conversation heart” door hanger that is perfect for any door or small wall space in your home. Paint the hearts any color you like, write a few sayings, glue on some ribbon and voila! Instant gratification.
And then you can resume your busy schedule.
3 Wooden hearts from the craft store (4″ across)
1 Spool of red & white polka dot ribbon (1.5″ wide)
Acrylic craft paint (I used yellow, pink and lavender)
Foam paint brushes
Red paint pen
Hot glue gun and glue sticks
Sand paper or sanding block
1. Lightly sand each wooden heart with the sanding block or sand paper. Just enough to smooth out any rough edges. Remove any dust with a barely damp paper towel.
2. Paint each heart a different color. Apply at least 2 coats for complete coverage, allowing to dry between coats.
3. When the paint is completely dry, write conversation heart sayings on each heart with the red paint pen. (You could use a red Sharpie marker if you don’t have a paint pen.) For inspiration on what to say, click here for a recap of the newest sayings from the maker of the Sweethearts candy.
4. Lay out the hearts, spacing them evenly apart. Measure a length of ribbon – you want it long enough to fit all the hearts plus at least 6 inches above and below the hearts.
5. Glue the hearts in place with hot glue. (Use more than you think you need.)
6. Fold down the top inch of the ribbon and secure with a dot of hot glue (you want a double thickness of ribbon to be tied into the bow). Measure another length of ribbon to create a bow – about 2 yards if you want the streamers to be as long as middle ribbon. Use this ribbon to tie a bow around the top of the ribbon with the hearts, making sure the knot is nice and tight.
7. Cut the bottom edge of the ribbons in an inverse “V” shape if desired. Hang the doorhanger from the knot in the bow from a nail or hook.
A note from Deanne: I’m delighted to have my friend and colleague Dawn Mena contribute her brilliance and guidance in a guest post, just in time for writing those seasonal thank-you notes and client letters. Be sure to read all the way to the end to get your free gift from Dawn–a valuable resource that makes writing thank you notes easy and FUN.
When it comes to building a company on the principles of gratitude and positivity, nothing is as easy or as powerful as taking the time to say “thank you.” Surprisingly, a good bit of gratitude goes a long with toward more than just making someone’s day, it can also be the spark that ignites business growth by creating raving fans who appreciate you right back – and keep coming back for more.
According to social media expert and author of the book “The Thank You Economy,” Gary Vaynerchuk once said that we need to treat each customer as though he or she were the most important customer in the world. I couldn’t agree more. And I’d add beyond customer people like mentors, colleagues, vendors, joint venture partners, newsletters subscribers, baristas, and anyone else who affects your day, your life, and your business. Since Day 1 of running my own business, I’ve made it a practice to send a variety of Thank You’s to people who make a positive impression in my life. Customers – yes. But also all the other people I’ve just mentioned and more.
How can you harness the power of appreciation? It all starts with what you say (or write) when you take the time to thank someone. And the format, or place, you send your thanks you. Cards are great, I love ‘em, but a surprise thank you in a different format can have as much impact as well.
Here are 5 unique ways you can thank those special people in your life, and a little help for brainstorming the perfect content to spread those warm, happy feelings during this season, and all year round.
#1 The Top Fan Thank You
Make a list of your Top Fans. You know, the ones that have been with you from Day 1. They’ve cheered you on, participated in your programs, given you valuable and honest feedback and support. They are the bee’s knees. Send them a personal email. And with that email, a special gift, something that took a little time or effort and they would really appreciate. As an example, I recently sent a “love” letter to one of my biggest fans. And as I knew she was starting an online business of her own, and using social media, I took some time to select something awesome she said in her online content and create a unique graphic image that featured her quote, name and website. All of this was done in less than 30 minutes (both email writing and image creation). And I used Canva to get the job done for free. (check out my user guide for Canva, it rocks!)
#2 The Unexpected Thank You
Thank someone who won’t expect it. Out of the blue. For no specific reason. Use email, or do it publicly using social media. Keep it simple, sweet, and include a silly token such as a cute photo, quote, or link to a happy, inspirational video. Put a smile on their face and a spring in their step.
#3 The Pre-Thank You
Thank new fans or followers BEFORE they buy or sign up. When a new potential customer first signs up for your newsletter list, follows you on social media, or sends you a simple inquiry, NOW is the time to let them know how grateful you are. Where’s the best place to do this? A “welcome” email. I see so many people use template messages in these that are super boring and robot-like. Take the opportunity to make strong first impression by using their first name in the greeting, telling them how grateful you are that they took a chance on you, and then send them a little hank you gift such as access to something secret, a download, a tip about a cool free graphic design site, etc. Or offer a free phone call, invite to your next gathering, or whatever else you think they would appreciate.
#4 The Old School Thank You
There’s nothing quite like a handwritten letter. Think about your best clients of all time, mentors such as business or life coaches, colleagues that cheer you on, or your biggest fans on social media. Take a minute to find out their snail mail address and send them a hand-written note. WRITING TIP: Be specific about what you’re thanking them for. Not just “thanks for helping” but “thanks for taking the time to sit down over PSL’s and brainstorm out what I needed to add to my new program. Oh, and the scone was great too!” Make them personal, original and to-the-point and you’ll really make their day.
#5 The Secret Handshake Thank You
Next time you attend a business networking meeting or any other live event, take the opportunity to sneak a thank you gift or card to someone who deserves it. Maybe it’s the leader of a networking group that has transformed your business. Or a women who took the time to make you feel comfortable at your first meeting. Someone who sent a lucrative referral your way. A mentor, an inspiration, or maybe they just made you laugh. Write up a card, include a small gift such as a gift card, invitation, sticker, candy, etc. Slide it into their bag so they find it later. Smoothly hand it to them as you’re leaving the event. Make it low-key so they don’t feel on-the-spot or obligated – just appreciated.
If you struggle with what to write, I’ve rounded up some writing prompts for everything from fun to professional to heartfelt thank you’s that will spark your imagination and help you get started. Just click the graphic below to check it out and get started.
Bottom line, gratitude is super valuable in itself just for the joy it brings to everyone involved. But it can also help you to create a strong and growing business by creating unbreakable bonds between you and your audience – and inspiring them to return to you again and again because you make them feel special. And really isn’t that what we all want?
About the Author: Dawn Mena works with people who struggle with what to write for their blogs, newsletters, and anything to do with their business. She shows them how to get the results they are looking for by applying simple strategy principles, along with a lot of personality, to inspire audiences and keeps them coming back for more. Learn more at www.dawnmena.com.Read More
If you’ve ever told yourself anything like, “I need to exercise more” or “I wish I could stop the negative chatter in my head” but you’ve never quite accomplished either, have I got a smart and simple solution for you! Gratitude.
Yep, scientists have proven that gratitude can have measurable effects on our overall wellbeing and very specific benefits to our physical and mental health.
This is the perfect time to start (or refresh) a habit of gratitude: a daily practice of words and deeds that generate a sense of goodness our lives. With Thanksgiving Day just a couple of weeks away, giving thanks is naturally on our minds. But more than that, the holiday season is for many of us a stressful, non-stop time, while others may experience bouts of seasonal depression or anxiety.
Gratitude to the rescue!
Research proves that professing and feeling gratitude improves one’s emotional state, life experiences, health and relationships. The word comes from the Latin gratia (grace, favor, goodwill). So practicing gratitude literally brings grace into our lives. It helps us connect to something outside of ourselves—whether it’s other people, nature, or a higher power.
Without going all science-y on you, here are five surprising benefits that gratitude brings to your life and your health.
1. Grateful people exercise more, have fewer aches and pains and generally feel healthier than other people.
In a study by noted gratitude expert Dr. Robert A. Emmons, participants were asked to write just a few sentences a week about things they were grateful for. Another group wrote about things that annoyed or irritated them, and a third group wrote about events in their life (not specifically positive or negative). Participants that focused on gratitude were more optimistic and felt better about their lives compared to the group that focused on irritations.
2. Practicing gratitude can decrease a range of negative feelings, from regret and resentment to envy and frustration.
3. You’ll sleep better. Spending just 15 minutes a night before bedtime writing in a gratitude journal was shown to improve sleep in a study published in Applied Psychology: Health and Well-Being. It makes sense if that’s the last thing your brain is thinking about, instead of a news program of the latest doomsday headlines, sports, or a movie.
4. Gratitude can reduce aggression and increases empathy and compassion, according to a study by the University of Kentucky in 2012. Those who ranked higher on gratitude scales exhibited greater sensitivity and empathy toward others, even when given negative feedback, as well as a reduced desire to seek revenge.
5. Gratitude can actually boost your immune system! By promoting feelings of optimism, being thankful stimulates the production of red blood cells which in turns boosts our immunity to disease.
All of these benefits are great, but like any practice the question is, how do you start and more importantly, stick with it? The good news is, there are a lot of simple and practical ways to incorporate more gratitude into your daily life and routine. What’s important is the intention to feel gratitude for someone or something, and to express it in some way.
One of the easiest ways is to cultivate a habit of writing a thank-you note a week to someone who has done you a good turn or provided a great service. My friend Dawn Mena has five ways to write thank you’s that will create raving fans. What a great start!
For more ways to experience the everyday grace of gratitude, I’ve put together 20 simple ways to practice gratitude. It’s surprisingly easy to make thankfulness a part of your daily life and routine and reap all those benefits!
Why not just try and see what happens when you experience and express gratitude? What have you got to lose?
I’d love to hear your results and what effects you see in your life and wellbeing with a gratitude practice. Share your experiences on the Facebook page—and thank you in advance!
Featured image (c) 2013 Shay CochraneRead More
I admit it. I was a messy desk person for years. And years.
When I worked as an attorney in private practice, my assistant would regularly come into my office and ask for a document, looking dubiously at the piles and stacks of papers and files on my desk and on the floor.
I would think for a second or two, reach into a pile and voila! I could pull out what she needed pretty quickly.
I was proud of my messy desk and my piles.
Maybe I’ve outgrown whatever psychological need my messy desk fulfilled, but a few months ago (July 30th to be exact), I realized that I dreaded going into my home office to work at my desk. I had been working for a couple of weeks at the kitchen island, telling myself that the new sofa and rug made the great room the best room in the house. Why wouldn’t I want to spend time there?
In reality, I felt completely uninspired sitting at my desk, surrounded by piles of papers, files from completed projects, books, reminders of unfinished projects. And the piles of stuff that just sort of landed on my desk. (Like evil fairies came in and dumped stuff on my desk, right?) I think there may have been some hair products and a missing lip gloss in there. Oh, and an ankle brace. Even my desk accessories seemed to forlornly say, “We’re done.” There was barely space to set a glass of water or a cup of tea, much less to spread out work documents or reference books.
The physical clutter was creating mental clutter and stagnation on so many levels.
And I was feeling like a fraud; after all, one of the basic tenets of my design business is “where you work affects how you work.” I’ve written reports about it, and written about how to clean off your desk.
But I wasn’t doing it. Hmmm. There had to be something else going on.
Armed with that curiosity and an intention to make a permanent change, I embarked on a challenge to not only clean off my desk, but keep it clean for 30 days and see if it made a difference.
Well, it’s been more than 75 days and I’m happy to say, my desk is still clean. Turns out, it’s an actual thing. Desktop Zero. Kind of like Inbox Zero, but for your physical workspace.
The difference in my energy, attitude and confidence working with Desktop Zero has been nothing short of extraordinary. I love walking into my home office every day. I feel happy sitting down at my desk. It seems happy, too. My work is more focused and efficient. I have everything I need at my fingertips. I feel inspired. I have physical space to work! I have mental space to think and create. And when I’m getting more done, feeling great about my results, and having new ideas—guess what? These are all confidence builders. Mindset changers.
So that’s the simple thing: Desktop Zero. Not easy, but simple.
If, like me, your desk is a long way from Desktop Zero, I’ll share the steps of my process to get there, in hopes that it inspires you to clean off your work space and keep it clean—and see what might happen for you and your creativity and business!
1. Find some inspiration. For me, getting to that “enough is enough” point was the spark, but finding some very cute and inspiring accessories at Home Goods helped push me over the edge of inspiration. I chose a teal color palette based on a pencil cup (it’s actually a tumbler for the bathroom), an intricate wood box from India and some pastel file folders. I couldn’t put these beauties (above) on a messy desk!
2. Clean off the desk. Literally get everything off the desk surface and any cubbies. I used the method I normally do: trash, action, file (get all the steps here). This time I added bins for “relocate” and “put away”– things that belonged in another room or in the supplies cabinet and “donate,” and then a separate pile for shredding.
3. Look at your pain points. As you’re cleaning off the desk, look for patterns in the piles. What’s in them and how did they get there? For me, I discovered that I tossed receipts and business cards from business trips on the desk (there was no designated place for them) and dropped random items on the desk just because they belonged somewhere in the office. For example, when I would unpack from a trip, anything that is stored in the office like my camera, travel power cords, or books, I would just put them on the desk and not put them away where they belong. Instant clutter! Over time, it built up into overwhelming mountains of stuff. Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can design a solution or process to handle the pain points (more on that in a minute).
4. Clean your desk. Dust, vacuum, polish, wax—whatever is best for your desk. I dusted and applied a nice coat of lemon oil to my teak writing desk.
5. Replace only what is necessary on a day-to-day basis. I have a rule that a desktop is for creating, inspiring and working. It is not for storage. So my desktop has a lamp, pen cup, computer, a small box for paper clips and such, a notebook, a legal pad and a stand up file organizer for frequently (daily) used files. On the little shelf on top of the desk I keep a few inspiring photos, letter opener and a vase of flowers.
6. Address pain points. This step will depend on what you identified as the major causes of clutter in step 3. In my home office, I dealt with the piles of receipts by creating a folder for them. I created a “home” for the receipts. And more importantly I resolved to put things where they go, rather than dropping them on the desk to put away later. I literally timed how long it took to put back a book, put my tote bag where it belonged, or to put an event folder in its storage box. Each task averaged about 20 seconds. I’m not kidding. Assuming everything already has a home, it takes seconds to put things away rather than stacking or piling them until they become a messy pile that can take an hour of precious time to tackle. Time it yourself!
7. Store active project files off the desk. This was the game changer for me. I struggled with having a “working office” and a clutter-free, presentable office. (My office is just off the foyer of my home and doesn’t have a door.) I’m busy, I have a lot of projects that I work on for different clients at any one given time. Plus, my desk doesn’t have deep drawers. So I took to the floor. On one side of my chair I have a deep file-size basket where I keep binders of reference material, and on the other side I’m using a deep tray to store project files, notebooks, my planner, and other project materials. I can easily pull out what I need as I work on different client projects during the day.
If you have a credenza or storage drawers in your desk, these might be optimal areas for you.
But here’s the most important step and the key to this new clutter-free workspace:
8. Put everything away at night. At the end of the day, no matter what you worked on, put everything away, leaving only the essentials on the desktop.
No, really. At the end of every day put everything away—no matter what. Even if it’s the thing you’ll keep working on first thing in the morning. Put. It. Away. This is the secret! This is Desktop Zero.
Just try it for 30 days. Once you clean off your desk, address your pain points and get into the habit of keeping it clean and clear every day, you’ll see how you feel coming in to your office in the morning. See how it affects your mental clarity, focus, creativity and confidence.
Let me know how this works for you! Comment below or share your story on Facebook. If you’d like to book me for a consultation to get your home office on track, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.