This year I am determined to make some changes. 2014 was a wonderful one for many reasons- we underwent a huge renovation, work was plentiful and rewarding, and my husband started a new job that has blessed our family immensely.

But 2014 was also very challenging. The reno was taxing, a new job means new routines to learn, and lots of work for me means lots of juggling. Balance kind of went out the window for me in the last quarter of 2014 and I am determined to gain it back through new habits and better planning. 

Here are a few really simple tools that I have found extremely helpful. Best part about them- they really are simple and from personal experience super effective. 

1. Say Goodbye to Survival Mode: 9 Simple Strategies to Stress Less, Sleep More, and Restore Your Passion for Life by Crystal Paine.  

I plowed through this book in about 48 hours while up at a cottage over the holidays. What Crystal suggests in her book is not rocket science- but the principles, while simple, can have life altering ramifications. The best takeaway for me was going through an exercise examining how I use my time- and identifying some pretty serious time wasters. This book is great for moms raising families and entrepreneurs alike. I highly highly recommend it. 

2. 5 Days to Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt

No secret I am a big fan of Michael Hyatt and gained quite a bit from his Platform conference. So I had a feeling his "Best Year Ever" program would be pretty helpful too. And sure enough, it has been. Through video lessons and poignant questions for discussion he encourages you to dig deep and really examine. My husband and I have been doing the 5-part video program together and discussing the questions out loud. The questions are fun as they aren't typical- fav question so far is if you had to describe last year as a movie genre what would it be? Bonus- Michael is hosting a live webinar open to anyone this Wednesday- totally worth checking out if you're interested in the course.

3. Making time for Reflection Using Apps

So basically every year I make the resolution of making more time for prayer, quiet and reflection. And every year I try but don't really make a plan- and then get discouraged that I have not made the goal. So I am using technology to help in this process and downloaded the Bible in One Year App by Alpha International. What I love about this app is that it tracks your progress really easily and the plan is essentially made for you. And if you find the Bible challenging to read Nicky Gumble's very easy to comprehend commentary puts the Scripture into context. With the help of this app I find I am craving this time- rather than struggling to find the time to pray and reflect. 

4. Evernote and Trello 

I am still a newbie at note taking and archiving software Evernote, but I have been sold on its benefits by too many people I respect. However, as with every new tool there comes a bit of a learning curve. I'm using Brett Kelly's Evernote Essentials to learn how to best maximize this tool. And Trello, oh dear Trello– it's a task manager that is essentially virtual post it notes, perfect for visual people like me who love to see tasks completed and filed away. Trello is also shareable- so your family or your team can be on the same page. You can use Trello to mange a grocery list or plan a huge corporate event- I love love love it.  

5. Purge daily

For every day of 2015 thus far I have purged an area of my house. Closets, drawers, toys, shelves- I am refusing to feel conquered by my clutter and am so committed to purging on the regular. I love this infographic on wardrobe editing, and I think a series of posts on this topic alone is coming soon. Hold me to it- because it is making me feel more peaceful, more simplified, with each drawer un-junked. 

What are you doing to start this year off well? How is 2015 going to be your best year ever?