A Handy Productivity Tip

We are all about productivity here at ICE HQ and we sure do love Miranda July.

“A Handy Tip For the Easily Distracted” by Miranda July – NOWNESS from NOWNESS on Vimeo.



A Round Tuit


This weekend, *nerd alert* I left for a Writing Center Conference in Greenville, NC.

What can I say, I love to tutor!

In addition to  learning several clever tutoring strategies, making new friends, and tasting my first eastern carolina barbecue, (way yummier than ours, by the way) I wrote until my fingers blistered and nearly fell off.

I found a round tuit.

I swore to myself, my professor and my friend that over the weekend I would complete my final draft for the book I am writing.

I was a woman possessed.

I scribbled feverishly for seven hours in the car there and back again–old school style–with a notebook and pen.

Back in my beloved ATL, I camped out in two separate coffee shops, carefully spacing out my caffeine intake so as to avoid

a) becoming a jittery mess and losing the ability to grasp a writing utensil

b) purchasing so many drinks that I became coffee poor

c) rushing to the bathroom nine billion times. Potty breaks throw off one’s groove. I really should purchase a shewee.


All this to say, you may congratulate me because today I am snowed in and converting all of my chicken scratch to one unified document. The world will soon be blessed with the fully-illustrated tale of a family of Polish cats that owns a bakery. I’m so excited!

I would really love to leave you with some practical tips or DIY that I learned from this experience, so let me give this a shot:

1) If you really need to get writing done, do it with a pen and paper. You will avoid internet distraction and the fatigue brought on by computer screen glare. You will also be able to write anywhere, without resenting patrons who intrepidly reached an outlet before you.

2) If you really need to get anything done, make an unbreakable vow to several people and assume that nothing but death will keep you from your purpose.

3) When writing, give yourself an instrumental soundtrack and sophisticated beverage. Each time I sat down to write I had either a coffee, tea, hot cocoa or glass of wine. Good flavors and inspiring music feed and pace your creativity.

I’m no expert, but I got work done.  I hope you do, to!


Rachel Eleanor

Listening to: Usual Happiness by Kroke.

Just Pomodor-it


During snowed-out ATL, I was separated from my beloved laptop for several days. When I finally had it back in my posession, I had a LOT of work to catch up on.

I’m sure you are familiar with this inner diaglogue:

“Time to complete my to-do list. Item number one. Oh, wait, email! Wait. Oops! Gotta answer this text! Which reminds me, I really need to get up and preheat the oven, oh I need a snack….let me check my facebook, oh no! What was I doing again?!”

Each time you try to resettle yourself into the task at hand, you are more frantic, more exasperated, and more scatter-brained.

Fear not! I have a solution!

It is called the Pomodoro Technique.

No, you don’t eat tomatoes to increase your concentration.

Please, check out the official website for an adorable video about guarding your time and getting stuff done.

In a nutshell, (or a pomodoro?) the technique is a simple process of using a timer to accomplish tasks in twenty-five minute intervals with five minute breaks in between each “Pomodoro.” After you have completed four pomodoros, you get a longer break.

It sounds deceptively simple. And it is. The key is making the time within your pomodoro sacred. I use an app for my android that runs a pomodoro timer. If I attempt to open any program other than the pomodoro, the timer stops. The technique makes you give twenty-five unadulterated minutes to the task in front of you.

When was the last time you didn’t multi-task? It’s incredibly freeing. I get tasks done one at a time in order of their importance and don’t get burned out trying to finish tasks in three hour marathons.

I made you a free printable with a phrase that I coined for my fellow pomodoro converts: “Just Pomodor-it!”

Watch the video and try out the technique. It really does work!xoxoxo

Rachel Eleanor

Listening to To Build a Home by Cinematic Orchestra.

Enough is Enough

Things. So many things. I am always caught between having too many, and longing for more.

I think that sometimes we combat boredom or hopelessness with a search for novelty. New pretty things to have, to touch, to hold, to admire.

I try never to go onto Pinterest without a specific reason, lest the tide of little frivolities drag me far, far away from usefulness and especially far from contentment.

Recently, I read something that reminded me of the importance of gratitude. How we will always chase, and ache, and never be satisfied until we begin to be genuinely content with our present circumstances.

“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”

—–Melody Beattie


Today I am grateful for three useful and beautiful sets of knit ear warmers. Each was a gift from a different kind friend who had heard me mention longing for a pair. Each was a surprise that arrived after Christmas, and each has kept my ears snuggly warm and my bad hair days looking fabulous.

And as for all the items I am not actively grateful for—those I need to chuck before I move into my closet-sized apartment in May!

Throughout my purge of possessions I have marched forward through my sentimental fog with this William Morris quote, “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

So with these reminders of being grateful for what I have (to prevent new stockpiling), and a hearty calling to cast aside objects that aren’t personally meaningful or helpful to me, I am able to move towards the future feeling a little lighter, and a great deal more joyful.


Rachel Eleanor

Listening to: Pennies from Heaven–Louis Prima

Making your calendar work for you

ImageMy favorite way to start the new year is with a fresh calendar. A clean slate to fill with new adventures and experiences. A good calendar also keeps me in line and focused. I know what’s coming down the line in future months. In the past, I have tried to cram my entire life into a single calendar. I thought it would be easier to have everything in one place. The results were a cluttered mess. Now I use 3 calendars, one for work and creative pursuits, one for home, and one for daily appointments. Today I want to share my my home calendar.

I like to choose a fairly simple utilitarian calendar and then customize it. You could also make your own. My favorite tools are washi tape, post it notes, sharpies and pencils. I start by transferring information from last year’s calendar, special dates and birthdays. Then I fill in appointments and dates that are already scheduled. I like to use washi tape and a sharpie. Not only does this fancy up my basic calendar, I can remove the tape if plans change. Lets face it, at some point they always do.

My number one tip is to write your future self notes. Little reminders to keep your life headed in the right direction. I like to use post it notes for this. They are easy to move around if needed. I write myself notes to think about future vacations, send snail mail to people I love, and check in with my goals. I also schedule mundane tasks like changing the air filter. This year I am reminding myself to think about the holidays in August. Last year I scrambled to get everything accomplished. I hope to stay ahead of the curve in 2014!

Here is to an amazing year!