Always a Bridesmaid

Oh, May. The flowers, the warm weather (finally!) and... the beginning of wedding season.

While I'm still waiting for Prince Charming to swipe right on Tinder, I could not be happier for my many wonderful friends who have found someone equally as wonderful to spend the rest of their lives with.

What does all of this everlasting love mean for me? Let's just say that starting in May, I have (at least) one wedding to go to per month through December. It's just so difficult being wildly popular.

For one of these weddings, I'm not only an attendee, but I'm the MOH (for those of you not reading The Knot daily, that's code for 'Maid of Honor'). Being the MOH, I am responsible for planning the most incredible Bachelorette party the Bride-to-Be (let's call her 'B2B') has ever attended. No pressure, right?

Much to TLC's dismay, my real life thankfully involves a total of zero bridezillas. B2B let me know she wanted to go to Atlantic City for her party and she knew the exact hotel she wanted to stay in, as well as where she wanted to go for dinner. Being from New Jersey, I'm sort of ashamed to say I've only been to Atlantic City once in my life and I can't even remember the name of the hotel we stayed in when I went, so clearly I'm useless in this situation. So, when the B2B told me this, I was excited about planning but needed some help ironing out the details. That's where my Fancy Hands came through.

First things first. I had made the hotel reservation, but the website said check-in is at 4pm. I'm not sure if you've ever traveled with 15 girls, but 4pm is not nearly enough time for all of us to get ready for the big night. 

My request: 

"Call the hotel and make sure that a. we can check in early and, b. our rooms are next to/near each other."

Within minutes, my assistant had called the hotel I had booked, made sure that we could check in at 1pm instead of 4pm at no extra charge, and confirmed that our rooms were near each other, as it said they would be when I booked them.

One down, several to go.

Next request:

"Can you please call Margaritaville in Atlantic City and make a reservation for 15 people on the 16th at 7:00pm. (If this is not available, please make it for 6:30 or 7:30pm.) This is for a bachelorette party. They said on the website that they can't take reservations on Saturday evenings during the Summer, but if you can do this, it would be a big help.

Also, please get an email confirmation or have them call me to confirm the reservation after you've made it. Thanks!"


"Hello Lindsay,

I have called Margaritaville in Atlantic City and made the reservation on the 16 at 7:00pm for 15 people.

They can't send a confirmation e-mail and said to call back a week earlier to confirm the reservation. However, it is already in their system.

All the best,
Celine M."

It's a miracle! I can now rest easy knowing that lodging and food are taken care of, and that we don't have to try and squeeze a party of 15 into a restaurant without a reservation at dinner time.

Now, onto the fun part: drinking! Normally I know my way around bars, but as I said, I've been to AC once and my memories are fuzzy. Fancy Hands to the rescue.


"I know little to nothing about Atlantic City. Can you find some good, non-sleazy bars in Atlantic City (might want to look up reviews) preferably on the boardwalk near/around our hotel? If you can find 3-5 popular or well-liked bars, that would be delightful. Thanks!"

Christina really nailed this response. She came back to me with 5 bars that she had verified are popular with the local crowd, as well as visiting patrons. Not only are the bars well reviewed, but there is a diverse selection of bars to choose from that will make everyone in attendance happy. Christina also kept cheap drinks in mind, which is key. 

Lastly, the B2B has requested a jitney/rickshaw/bicycle taxi ride around the boardwalk. Sounds like fun! I know about as much about jitney-rickshaws, as I know about Atlantic City. Let me get my assistant on the case.


Can you please get as much info as possible on how much it is to rent a rickshaw/jitney (I'm not really sure what they call them) in Atlantic City? It would probably be for anywhere between 1-4 hours on a Saturday evening. Are there companies that own them, or are they just dudes on a bike with a wagon attached? Enlighten me. 
Tiffany came back with a plethora of knowledge about these bicycle taxis and now I know more about rickshaw rentals in AC than I ever could have hoped. Just FYI, a one hour rickshaw ride down the boardwalk will set you back $40, but a 5 block ride will cost $5 (the same amount as a Fancy Hands task!). You don't have to reserve in advance, you can just hop on
I'm confident that I will enlist Fancy Hands to do more research for me in the coming months, but for now I'm feeling at ease knowing that most of the party has been planned and that Fancy Hands has my back if anything else comes up. 
I'll be sure to keep everyone posted on how that rickshaw ride goes. As for the rest of the party, well, you know what they say: what happens in Atlantic City, stays in Atlantic City. 
Wait, that's how that goes...right? 

Mother's Day Dilemma

Today my Dad called me in a panic. "I want to get your Mom tickets to a Broadway show for Mother's Day, but I don't know how long the star is going to be in it, and I don't know when we'll have time to go!"     

"Dad," I said. "First of all, when did you become so popular that you have such a packed schedule? Second of all, why don't you have Fancy Hands call the box office and figure out when the star is leaving the show? Also, you can have Fancy Hands suggest a good day to bring Mom to the show based on the calendar you integrated when you set up your account." 

"Oh," he said "That's a great idea! I'll go do that now. You're my favorite child."

OK, so he left out that last part. But, within about half an hour, Fancy Hands informed my father that the star was going to be in the show through August, and that he could take my mother to the show in July. As a bonus, they also found him a discount code for tickets. 

Operation Mother's Day Gift: complete.

Need help with your last minute Mother's Day gift? We can help


It's our birthday!

We're 4!

We've done an insane amount of things in the past four years.

Take a look!

Rollover: some big changes!

When we launched Fancy Hands almost 4 years ago, things were a bit different. There was only one person on the staff back then, now we've got considerably more. We had dozens of assistants when we launched, now we have thousands. Users could only submit tasks through email, now we have all kinds of apps and interesting ways to keep in touch. But for the most part, our subscription plans have stayed the same. But we're not done, we're super excited to announce a few big changes.

Rollover Tasks

The biggest change is that from now on, your tasks rollover from month to month! So if you're on the 5 task per month plan and only use three, you'll have seven when the next months starts. As long as you have an active subscription, your tasks will continue to roll over. (Once you cancel your plan, the tasks go away). 

Suggested Tasks, Reborn

We've also spent a ton of time working to help you anticipate what you need to do next. In fact, we've totally redone how we identify what you need to do next. Our algorithms have looked at your past tasks, and if you opted in, our system looked at your calendar to help figure out what you should be doing next. We're introducing a totally optional new integration that allows us to help you stay on top of your life. You can hook up your email with us and we'll automatically suggest what needs to happen next. So if someone says, "Hey, let's get drinks later" or "we're heading to Mary and Steve's anniversary next week" we'll take the lead and help you schedule, coordinate, research, and communicate with the right parties... all with just a click of a button. 

Shiny in Chrome

Users have seen these suggested tasks on their dashboard and in the iPhone/Android apps already. But today we're also rolling out a new Chrome browser extension that makes these suggestions available whenever you need them. On top of that, you can interact with your tasks without going to the site, and even get notified immediately when we're done.

Other Changes

With our integration with Google Calendar, we're still the absolute best way to schedule your appointments. However, scheduling is no longer free. Scheduling appointments will now require a task credit just like any other task you send in. However, since tasks rollover, you should have some to use!

Also, and it pains me to say it, because making purchases for our users has always been a popular feature. But we're putting a temporary pause on our ability to buy things for our users for the time being. However, we've had some issues with our partners and haven't been able to keep this feature running 100% of the time. So I made the decision to take it down until we know it will be available for everyone, at everytime, for larger purchases. I apologize about this, but we'll get it back! 

The Fancy Hands API

I'm excited today to announce we're launching the Fancy Hands API!

What is it? The Fancy Hands API enables people to make apps, add features to existing applications, and build businesses using our army of assistants. For a single developer, this means she can build insanely complicated apps in a weekend (since we have real humans do the heavy lifting).

What can you do with it? Well, lots. For example, one of our developers built a mobile app that allows you to book a car anywhere in the country. It's listed with source code, along with a bunch of other application ideas, on our developer examples page.

But it's not just the indie developers. A large sales organization could build an app to handle lead generation: when a new contact hits their Salesforce it could automatically have fancy hands reach out and look into it. Perhaps a third party company could spring up and automatically connect to these sales platforms and with Fancy Hands. They could easily charge on a per lead basis.

Currently, agencies are looking at the API to power promotions for brands. They're reaching out via social media to surprise and delight customers by helping them with shopping, travel, etc during the holiday season.  So if someone tweets about being overwhelmed with Thanksgiving planning, a brand steps in and says "We'll help!" and that's powered by Fancy Hands.

So head over to our developer page, the api explorer, our github account, and we'd love to hear your feedback.

For developers, we had some pretty specific goals:

  • People should be able to build businesses on the API (not just toys)
  • It needed to be super friendly for developers (RESTish)
  • We wanted the best interactive API docs around

What's next? Expect more endpoints and more examples. Want to get your app featured or chat about the API? Email us at [email protected]

Lessons from the Top.

(By Thorin Klosowski via Lifehacker

Many of us tend to look at certain types of financial or life advice—especially the kind that requires a little money—and disregard it because it doesn't feel like it applies to us. That's not always the case. We can all take a lesson or two from a wealthy CEO's playbook, whether it's about delegation, negotiation, or proper use of money. Let's take a look at a few of those tips.

Spend Money on Experiences, Not Goods

A lot of us equate wealth with material objects, and subsequently we try to save our money to buy things. That's usually not the best idea. In fact, according to The Washington Post, a number of America's wealthiest recommend spending money on experiences first:

You may be surprised to learn that among the monied set, expensive cars, yachts, houses, jewelry and watches come at the end of the list....

The rule of diminishing returns is a harsh mistress with luxury goods. Do you really think $100,000 audio speakers sound 20 times better than a pair of $5,000 speakers? (They don’t). Is a $250,000 sports car five times faster than a $50,000? (It is not). These days, you can buy quite a lovely home for $1,000,000 (and much less in the country’s interior). Those $10,000,000 manses are not 10 times roomier. Anyone who has owned a $10,000 Rolex will tell you that a $39 Casio keeps better time.

When discussing the benefits of wealth, I have heard again and again about amazing experiences, family get-togethers, vacations, shows, sporting events, weddings and other events as these people’s most important life experiences. While these things cost money, nearly every family can afford reasonable versions of them.

This certainly isn't the first time we've heard this. Researchers have known that experiences provide more of a psychological boost than material things, and new experiences completely change how we perceive time for the better. The good news for the rest of us is that shorter vacations are actually more memorable, so even if you can't afford to take a lot of time away from work, you'll still get a lot of out of the experience. Of course, taking a cheap vacation is easy too.

Delegate to Save Time and Avoid Frustrations

As the old saying goes, time is money. If you're running low on time, you'll benefit from a classic CEO trick: delegation.

Delegating tasks to others, or paying people to do things for you seems like a luxury that most of us can't afford. In reality, it's far less expensive than you think. We've talked before about how small expenses, like hiring a house cleaner, can make your life easier, and it applies in all sorts of ways.

For most of us, delegation means outsourcing your most annoying errands. You can outsource your chores and work to all kinds of places, like the team of assistants at Fancy Hands. Doing so doesn't cost you much money, and it saves you a ton of time. Likewise, you can get rid of most of your annoying errands with online tools like Amazon Subscribe and Save or Alice. Most of these options don't cost that much money, and while they're certainly a luxury, they're a luxury most of us can afford. I've used Amazon's Subscribe and Save for the last couple years to automate the bulk of my groceries, and while it make me feel like a king, it saves me money as well.

Plan and Track Your Spending

(Photo by CashCats

It's the simplest advice out there, but it rings true no matter how much money you make: the better you understand how you spend money, the better you are at saving it. Time is certainly money, but spending a little bit of time each week with your finances is worth it. Finance blog Get Rich Slowly explains why:

All this budgeting and goaling takes time, but millionaires are willing to spend it. Prodigious accumulators of wealth spend nearly twice as many hours per month planning their investments as under accumulators of wealth...

You don’t have to earn a big six-figure salary for planning to pay off. In a survey of 854 middle-income workers, [the authors] found “a strong positive correlation” between investment planning and wealth accumulation. This extra planning doesn’t just happen... “Most PAWs have a regimented planning schedule. Each week, each month, each year, they plan their investments.”

The key takeaway: everyone benefits from a little financial planning. We've shown you how easy it is to create a simple budget with a tool like Mint, and once you settle into your budget you can start planning better. In fact, you can create a personal financial plan without spending that much money, and doing so gives you a much better understanding of your money. If you're serious about learning financial planning, we like Learnvest because it combines a cheaper DIY alternative with access to experts so you don't mess things up. Set aside an hour each week to look everything over, see where you money is going, and try to spend it better. Once everything is set up, you can automate the whole process so you don't spend as much time thinking about it.

Negotiate Your Salary

We've mentioned before that not negotiating your salary costs you upwards of $500,000 in the long term, but salary negotiations aren't in everyone's skillset. Negotiations are hard and they're a little scary. That said, we all need to know how to do it.

We've walked you through salary negotiations in the past, and they're not nearly as terrifying as you might think. A salary negotiation is all about preparation, and after a little practice, you're ready to go. Even if more money isn't an option, negotiating for perks can make your job better. You can also take an old CEO trick and negotiate for a severance package instead of cash.

Give Yourself a Quest

We all know that goals are important, but it's hard to really wrap our minds around what we want from work or life in the long term. Speaking with Bloomberg, Evernote CEO Phil Libin describes his goals as quests, and it makes a lot of sense:

For Libin, "Lord of the Rings," the book by J. R. R. Tolkien and blockbuster movie directed by Peter Jackson, represents "the importance of having a quest," he said. He likens his mission of creating a tool to supplement people's memories to the journey Frodo and Sam embarked on to destroy the evil ring.

"Everything I needed to know in life, I learned from 'Lord of the Rings,'" Libin said. "If you're not on a quest, you're wasting your time."

It's a little silly, but Libin's point certainly rings true for all of us. If we don't have a quest that likely means we have no idea what we're doing. Figuring out what you want to do with yourself is no easy task, but we all have to do it at some point. What's nice about Libin's strategy is that the quest provides you with the long term goal you want to achieve, and it's up to you to figure out how you'll do it. We've heard this from plenty of other CEOs over the years, including Amazon's Jeff Bezos. It seems goofy, but take the time to actually sit down and think about your quest and how you'll get there. If you need a little help achieving that, we've certainly got you covered.

The fact is that whether you have $30 in your bank account or $3 million, managing your life and finances is tough. But we can all learn from each other, and when it really boils down to it, being a CEO or wealthy investor doesn't really change the game all that much.

Positive change.

How to Change the Song in Your Head

You've been singing the theme to The Love Boat for hours now, and it's making you nuts.

If a song is on an unfinished loop, "sing it through all the way, or listen to the entire song, to achieve completion," says James Kellaris, Ph.D., a professor of marketing at the University of Cincinnati, who studies why catchy tunes - called "earworms" - stick in your head. "If you can't remember all the words or how it ends, rewrite the ending. Sometimes appending a Beethoven coda or even just 'Shave and a haircut, two bits' will do the trick." If you can’t banish it, replace it. That works for Ron Dante, one of the lead voices behind the insanely catchy Coke jingle "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing." "I substitute a Beatles song, like 'Help!' or 'Let It Be' - both of which say something about what we need at that moment," he says. If the eraser tune gets lodged in your brain, too, he adds, "listen either to complex music, like Mozart, or unfamiliar music that lacks a hook, like New Age."

How to Change Your Cell Phone Carrier

Yes, it's now possible to change cell-phone carriers without changing your number, but don't expect radical improvements. All five major American cellular companies offer similar rates and deals, says James Hood, president of, which covers consumer fraud. Where they vary is in their coverage in certain areas. "Seek out people who get good service and ask what company they're using," Hood suggests. Before switching, make sure your existing contract is up or you'll be hit with an early-termination fee, which may be as much as a couple of hundred dollars, says Jennifer Walsh, a spokesperson for Sprint. For a smooth transition, don't cancel your old account before your new one is activated. "Once you close it," Walsh warns, "your number goes back into a pool, and you can lose it." And don't trust the new company to cancel your old account for you. "Often," Hood says, "they say they'll take care of it, and they just don't." 

How to Change Your Room Layout

If you want a new outlook, move some furniture. The first step is to create a new focal point, says interior designer Ron Renner, founder of Certified Interior Decorators International. Consider an armoire or a fireplace, and arrange chairs and side tables around it. Renner isn't a fan of rakish angles. "Putting couches on the diagonal wastes space," he says. When placing furniture, Natasha Younts, CEO of the Designer Society of America, follows the "three-feet rule": "If you want to put a drink down on a coffee table, you shouldn't have to reach more than three feet from the couch," she says. "And a pass-through area should be at least three feet wide." After you change a layout, observe how people use it. "We all flow toward the space that looks easiest and most appealing," Younts says. "If guests aren't entering the living room, maybe the couch is a barrier. If they're not using the path you created through the room, expand it to help direct them."

How to Change Your Sleep Schedule

If you're going to eat a balanced breakfast, go running, and save the world by 10 a.m., you really should wake up earlier. But don't try to change overnight. "Go to bed five minutes earlier each night and wake up five minutes earlier every day" until you reach your goal, says Timothy Monk, Ph.D., a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh Medical School who is leading a NASA study to find the best way of shifting astronauts' sleep schedules. If you're changing time zones, "mitigate jet lag before you travel," says Margaret Rappaport, a sleep-training specialist. If you're flying from San Francisco (Pacific time) to Boston (Eastern time), "sleep on Central time in the days before the flight," she says. Once in Beantown, immediately adopt the local schedule. For a drastic change in routine - say, a switch to the graveyard shift - try to trick nature. "When you want to be awake, keep rooms bright," Monk says. "And minimize daylight exposure before sleep by wearing dark glasses outside and dimming lights inside."

How to Change Someone Else's Mind

The essential rule when trying to convert someone is: Don't - at least, not at first. "Just listen," says Dennis Ross, former Middle East envoy and author of The Missing Peace. "It shows respect and allows you to learn." This approach applies whether the subject is peace between the Israelis and Palestinians or that orange plaid sofa your husband wants to buy. After listening, show that you get it. "Tell your husband you understand he loves the couch because it's big enough for the whole family to watch movies from," says Catherine Cardinal, a psychologist and the author of A Cure for the Common Life. "If you're negative, he'll defend it more." Next, nudge the other person to see your side. "I used to ask the Israelis what the Palestinians might accept, and vice versa," Ross says, "to make them more sensitive to each other's thinking." Then gently, imperceptibly, introduce a new outcome. "Everyone needs an explanation to tell others," Ross says, "and it's best if the other person thinks he came up with it."

How to Change Your Career

Doing what you love is more practical than you think. If you're trying to find your calling, "the most important factors to look at are your natural talents and your personality," says Nicholas Lore, director of the Rockport Institute, a career-coaching firm in Rockville, Maryland. Richard Bolles, author of What Color Is Your Parachute?, suggests making two lists: one with your top five skills, the other with your five favorite fields. Show your list around zealously. "You'll typically get many job suggestions," Bolles says. For an intermediary shift, he says, "either change your title and keep the field, or keep your title and change the field." He cites an aspiring pilot with poor vision who ended up working for the airlines by making airplane seats. Anne Steiner, director of the Seattle office of the Johnson O'Connor Research Foundation, which conducts aptitude tests, says to "volunteer or get a part-time job to learn from people in the industry you're interested in." Soon you'll be one of them.

(By Amy Spencer via Real Simple

4 Productivity Lies.

It’s easy to spot when people are lying to themselves—like when a co-worker confidently starts a huge project at 4:30, but has a 5 PM deadline. “Who’s he kidding?” you might chuckle. But when you’re telling lies to yourself, that’s another story.

When it comes to productivity, you may think you have it mastered. You check tasks off your to-do list, multitask like the best of them, and stay insanely busy from morning until night. But it turns out, your so-called “productivity” may actually be a jumble of popular myths that make you think you’re getting more done than you actually are.

Think you’re using your time wisely? Check out these four lies you might be telling yourself about being productive—and how you can free yourself from that false reality.

Lie #1: My Day’s Full of Activity, So I Must Be Super Productive

These days, there’s no shortage of digital time-fillers that can make you feel productive. You can easily spend all day emailing, tweeting, searching, instant messaging, texting, and whatever else it takes to stay in the online loop. But while your fingers are busy typing and your eyes busy reading, all you’re really doing is getting hits of information—over and over again—instead of working toward a goal.

Or, you might pack your schedule to the brim—coffee meetings in the morning and networking events after work—which forces you to spend all night responding to all the emails in your overflowing inbox. Sure, that makes you feel (and look) busy, but are you really getting anything significant done?

Solution: The Done List

To make sure you’re actually accomplishing substantial tasks each day, keep a “done list”—that is, a list of tasks you’ve completed instead of things you have left to do. When you stop to recognize each day’s accomplishments, you’ll be able to reflect more constructively: Did you spend your time wisely? Did you make any significant progress today? If “instapapered some super-useful articles” is the only item that made it onto your done list, you may need to reevaluate how you’re spending your time. 

Lie #2: Please, I’m a Multitasking Master

Multitasking can trick you into feeling like you’re a productivity superhero. After all, if you have the skills to simultaneously compile a budget, listen to a podcast, and catch up on your email, you must be running circles around your single-tasking co-workers, right?

Actually, multitasking can make you perform worse in whatever you’re doing. Studies show that when you try to focus on too many things at the same time, you’re less likely to be able to filter out irrelevant facts, switch between tasks effectively, and remember important information.

Solution: Practice Single Focus 

Try focusing on one task at a time. Why should you work against what you believe are your natural multitasking talents? Hear me out: It might feel less productive—or even be less enjoyable—to work on one thing at a time, but extreme focus will bring out your best.

To help you get out of your task-juggling habits, work in ones: Keep one simple to-do list. Complete at least one significant task toward the beginning of your day. If you’re really up for a challenge, try working in only one browser tab! When you single-task, you’ll boost your brainpower—and since you’re not spending partial attention on multiple tasks, you’ll get the task at hand done faster.


Lie #3: Schedule, Schmedule! I Go With the Flow

Some people relish planning. I, on the other hand, tend to go with the flow and work from a mental to-do list, starting with whatever seems most appealing at the moment. Usually, this isn’t a problem, and I’m able to get my work done, but I’ve noticed that I get stressed from trying to hold everything in my head.

You may think that having a flexibile and open schedule can be conducive to creativity (and it can be, to a certain extent), but that doesn’t mean all forms of scheduling should go out the window. A little structure can help you clarify your goals and think more clearly—so you won’t waste time trying to figure out if you overlooked anything from your mental to-do list.

Solution: Get Into Rhythms Rather than Timetables

Don’t worry—if you’re a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants type, you don’t need to start scheduling out your day by the minute. But what you can do is create a more reliable rhythm for yourself. Instead of scheduling your day down to the very last detail and task, try working with broader goals in mind.

With this strategy, I still recommend to-do lists—but not necessarily filled with specific tasks. Instead, list categories of what you’re working on. For example, replace itemized tasks like “write one blog post” or “contact Beth,” with higher-level goals, like “complete one task that supports growing my network” or “do two things that will broaden my expertise as an analyst.”

This will allow you to work productively toward your goals without locking yourself into turn-by-turn directions. Then, set aside a dedicated block of time for you to work on each category, so you can minimize distractions and focus on actually producing.

Lie #4: No Worries! I’ll Do it Tomorrow

The power of procrastination is, well, pretty powerful. Without much thought, the top task on your to-do list can get pushed to tomorrow, and then to the next day, and then to the next. And in your mind, you truly believe you’ll get to it eventually—but “eventually” keeps getting pushed further and further away.

Solution: Find an Accountability Ally

The root of procrastination is often a lack of accountability—if no one knows what’s on your to-do list, no one knows that you’re not actually making any progress on it. To stay on track, partner up with a co-worker or group of peers—people who are committed to helping each other do what they say they’re going to do—and plan to check in with each other at least once a week. Whenever you meet (whether virtually or in person), review your progress, share your upcoming goals, and provide feedback and encouragement. You’ll be a lot more likely to finish your blog post if you have a friend who checks up on you: “I haven’t seen an update on your blog today—when are you going to post it?”

If you can’t find an accountability partner, technology can help you become your own coach. Check out apps like iDoneThisLift, and Email Game, which keep you updated on your progress toward specific goals—which can help keep you on track and motivated to stay productive. 

Admitting our productivity lies can be tough. In fact, you may even go through a mini-cycle of grief when you first hear them: denial (“I don’t procrastinate!”), indignation (“I get plenty done!”), bargaining (“I’ll start tomorrow”), and a bit of blues—all before finally accepting them and taking the next steps. But, those steps aren’t as hard as you think: With these solutions and a hearty dose of honesty, you’ll be on your way to unmatched productivity in no time.

(By Janet Choi via The Daily Muse

Quality improvements.

Improve Your Life In 100 Days

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to make drastic changes in order to notice an improvement in the quality of your life. At the same time, you don’t need to wait a long time in order to see the measurable results that come from taking positive action. All you have to do is take small steps, and take them consistently, for a period of 100 days.

Below, you’ll find small ways to improve all areas of your life in the next 100 days.


Walk around your home and identify 100 things you’ve been tolerating; fix one each day. Here are some examples:

  • A burnt light bulb that needs to be changed.
  • A button that’s missing on your favorite shirt.
  • The fact that every time you open your top kitchen cabinet all of the plastic food containers fall out.

Write down 5 to 10 things that you’re grateful for, every day.

Make a list of 20 small things that you enjoy doing, and make sure that you do at least one of these things every day for the next 100 days. Your list can include things such as the following:

  • Eating your lunch outside.
  • Calling your best friend to chat.
  • Taking the time to sit down and read a novel by your favorite author for a few minutes.

Learning/Personal Development

Choose a book that requires effort and concentration and read a little of it every day, so that you read it from cover to cover in 100 days.

Make it a point to learn at least one new thing each day: the name of a flower that grows in your garden, the capital of a far-off country, or the name of a piece of classical music you hear playing in your favorite clothing boutique as you shop. If it’s time for bed and you can’t identify anything you’ve learned that day, take out your dictionary and learn a new word.

Stop complaining for the next 100 days. A couple of years back, Will Bowen gave a purple rubber bracelet to each person in his congregation to remind them to stop complaining. “Negative talk produces negative thoughts; negative thoughts produce negative results”, says Bowen. For the next 100 days, whenever you catch yourself complaining about anything, stop yourself.


Create a budget. Track every cent that you spend for the next 100 days to make sure that you’re sticking to your spending plan.

Don’t buy anything that you don’t absolutely need for 100 days. Use any money you save by doing this to do one of the following:

  • Pay down your debt, if you have any.
  • Put it toward your six month emergency fund.
  • Start setting aside money to invest.

Time Management

Track how you spend your time for 5 days. Use the information that you gather in order to create a time budget: the percentage of your time that you want to devote to each activity that you engage in on a regular basis. This can include things such as:

  • Transportation
  • Housework
  • Leisure
  • Income-Generating Activities

Make sure that you stick to your time budget for the remaining 95 days.

Identify one low-priority activity which you can stop doing for the next 100 days, and devote that time to a high priority task instead.

Identify five ways in which you regularly waste time, and limit the time that you’re going to spend on these activities each day, for the next 100 days. Television, video games, social media...

For the next 100 days, stop multi-tasking; do one thing at a time without distractions.

For the next 100 days, plan your day the night before (laying out an outfit helps, too). 


Losing a pound of fat requires burning 3500 calories.  If you reduce your caloric intake by 175 calories a day for the next 100 days, you’ll have lost 5 pounds in the next 100 days.

For the next 100 days, eat five servings of vegetables every day.

For the next 100 days, eat three servings of fruit of every day.

Choose one food that constantly sabotages your efforts to eat healthier—whether it’s the decadent cheesecake from the bakery around the corner, deep-dish pizza, or your favorite potato chips—and go cold turkey for the next 100 days.

Your Relationship

For the next 100 days, actively look for a new positive quality in your partner every day, and write it down. At the end of the 100 days, give your partner the list you created. 


For the next 100 days, make it a point to associate with people you admire, respect and want to be like.

For the next 100 days, when someone does or says something that upsets you, take a minute to think over your response instead of answering right away.

For the next 100 days, don’t even think of passing judgment until you’ve heard both sides of the story.

For the next 100 days, do one kind deed for someone every day, however small, even if it’s just sending a silent blessing their way.

For the next 100 days, make it a point to give praise and approval to those who deserve it.

For the next 100 days, stay in your own life and don’t compare yourself to anyone else.

Now...ask yourself, has this 100 days been better than the days before them? If yes, keep up the things on this list that you feel helped you. 

(Adapted from an article in Lifehack by Marelisa Fabrega)


I'm a huge fan of Casey Neistat. If you don't know who that is, give yourself an hour or so to watch some of the short films he makes here. If you can only watch one, this is probably the one to go for. It always inspires me. 

Casey's studio is in the same neighborhood as Fancy Hands - I saw him on his bike just this morning! 

Gizmodo toured his studio and made an amazing three-part video about the way that he works. To say he's organized would be like saying an elephant is kind of big. 

When asked about the rather OCD-nature of his setup, he says, "It's about functionality. Every minute that I spend looking for velcro tape or my drill gun is a minute I'm not doing something productive."

He's a Fancy Hands kind of guy. 


Former FBI profiler Noah Boyd (not his real name), author of The Bricklayer, shares how to spot a liar:

"In my experience, there are no standardized 'tells' that prove you're being lied to. What the investigator tries to do is find, or cause, anomalies - those tiny deviations from the norm that indicate that a person's veracity is suspect. Most commonly used is the examination of the information given, but it can also be a physical manifestation, such as a tic of the inidividual's voice, a facial clue, or even body movement. I was once able to help solve a kidnapping/homicide because my experience told me that the person I was interviewing was being too polite. Each of these items listed is not soley a proof of deception, but if one is spotted, you may want to look for others. It's generally thought that these observable variations are caused by an emotional reaction to lying, and, even worse, being caught: 

1. Stuttering/slip of the tongue

The mind is distracted with creating the next lie, or considering the fragility of the one just told. 

2. Hesitation before answering 

This means that the person is considering any flaws in the deception about to be offered. 

3. Forced facial expressions, such as smiling too long 

Done in hopes of convincing the other party of their lack of worry.

4. Change in the rate of blinking of in the pitch of one's voice

This is an uncontrollable reaction to guilt or the worry of being discovered. 

5. Eyes that divert - no lasting eye contact 

This indicates worry that the other party is going to pick up a "window to the soul" signal.

6. Increased hand activity, like fiddling with objects or their fingers 

This is emotion manifesting itself as a phyical need to relieve the stress of lying. 

7. Sitting on their hands to stop their fiddling

They've realized this is a tell, and they are trying to stop it. 

(From Guyism

Create Yourself.

Creativity is not a gift bestowed to a select few before birth. Everyone is creative. But, for some of us, that creative spark may be buried under piles of bills, boring tasks, routines and responsibilities.

Creativity needs to be nursed, cultivated and practiced. And there are many simple - and fun - ways to let your creativity loose, whether you’re interested in nurturing your hobbies or your business. You can apply creativity to any endeavor.

Here, the people who live and breathe creativity share their best strategies for cultivating inspiration.

1. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike. Sometimes good ideas just pop into our heads. But more often, it takes effort. “You can’t sit and wait for a brilliant idea to come along, you’ve got to get your hands dirty,” said Veronica Lawlor, an instructor at Pratt Institute and Parsons School of Design and author of One Drawing A Day: A 6-Week Course Exploring Creativity with Illustration & Mixed Media. “Build up that discipline of action no matter what, and you open the window for creativity to fly through.”

2. Practice “creative grazing.” That’s what designer Jess Constable does on a daily basis. She makes sure to “pay attention to a lot of different ideas and perspectives.” Constable, who’s the designer and founder of Jess LC and author of the blog Makeunder My Life, keeps an eye out for “cool color stories” when she’s shopping or interesting images when she’s online. Then every few months, the “creative grazing” “turns into some intense design days.”

3. Respond to a need. “For areas of my business that aren’t visual, creativity is all about doing what I think best serves a need for my readers or customers,” Constable said.

Her consulting business was born out of increasing questions from readers about building and boosting their businesses. “So in order to accommodate these requests along with all of the other hats that I wear, I thought offering the consulting packages would be a great way to meet this need,” she said.

Also, when you’re brainstorming about needs, Constable suggested stepping “away from the usual sources” and considering “how you can fill [the need] in a way that feels fun and unique to your perspective.”

4. Make time for creating. According to Jessika Hepburn, editor of Oh! My Handmade and author of the workbook Cultivate Your Creativity: “It seems like such a simple answer but carving time out for creative adventures can easily be shuffled down the list of priorities.”

Fitting creativity into your life, whether it’s 15 minutes or several hours, has far-reaching effects. “I have realized that if I fail to make the time to play with my tools and materials, from crocheting to playing with pixels, that I am less productive or creative in the other areas of my life,” Hepburn said.

“Mak[ing] time for making” also can be restorative. “When I feel frustrated or overwhelmed by to-do’s, I make space for being creative. Whether I come out of it with a painting or a pot holder I am refreshed and ready to focus on other things with renewed clarity.”

Hepburn makes time for creativity on evenings and weekends, which includes everything from dyeing wool to painting to sketching to “tromping about with my two girls collecting leaves, rocks, and beach glass for after-school crafts.”

5. Set deadlines. While the idea of waiting around for inspiration to strike is nice, you rarely can postpone a project ‘til your muse finally wakes up. That’s why Laura Simms, a writer, speaker and career coach for creatives, suggested establishing deadlines. “You create because you have to, not because you feel inspired,” she said. “Nothing gets the juices flowing like a deadline.”

6. Learn from others. “Study the people who do what you want to do very well,” Constable said. And it doesn’t have to be people in your field. “I find that though graphic design and fashion are not directly connected to what I do day to day with the core of my career, I have become better at both as I’ve become inspired and aware of what others are doing well.”

7. Set limits. While creativity needs room to breathe, setting limits also is valuable. “Narrowing what’s available to you forces you to try new things” and think creatively, Simms said. “Perhaps you photograph only textures, write only 200 words, or cook only local, seasonal foods.”

8. Change mediums. Think of changing mediums as “creative cross-training,” Simms said. If you usually write prose, try poetry. If you paint, try pastels or pencil. If you do crossword puzzles, try Sudoku, she said.

“If you’re paying attention, you can almost always learn something that you can bring back to your usual medium,” she added.

For instance, for Gail McMeekin, author of The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women, watercolor painting “frees up creative energy and illuminates issues in my writing work too.” “Chang[ing] modalities [also helps her clients] to shake things loose,” said McMeekin, also president of Creative Success.

9. Seek out inspiration. “Your imagination is powerful, but it needs fresh fodder,” Simms said. So she suggested engaging in activities that inspire you, such as “[visiting] a museum, [attending] a live concert, read[ing] your favorite author, tak[ing] in a sunset.”

10. Take a break. Downtime is just as important as having a schedule and being productive, Simms said. Many great thinkers have understood the benefits of a break. For instance, “Charles Darwin is said to have taken several walks a day for ‘thinking time,’” she added.

11. Welcome mistakes. “Don’t worry about making it perfectly, doing it ‘right,’ or set unreasonable standards for yourself,” Hepburn said. McMeekin agreed: “Creativity is full of surprises, so you need to give yourself permission to try things, fail, make mistakes, and then begin again with new insights.”

12. Set up a creativity-boosting routine. McMeekin has a morning routine that helps her get centered and start creating. She begins by sitting quietly and studying her goals, which she’s recorded using a Treasure Map (a collage of images that you’d like to create in your life) and a mandala. Then she listens to music and spends 20 minutes journaling.

13. Carry a notebook with you—always. When on the go, Hepburn grabs a journal or sketchbook. “I jot down ideas while out or if I don’t have the time to pursue them, make quick sketches, staple fabrics/yarns or paste images, colors and textures that interest me.” When Hepburn is ready to create, she has “a treasure trove of thoughts and inspiration to draw on.”

14. Subtract “serenity stealers” from your life. McMeekin refers to “serenity stealers” as anything that sabotages your creative process, whether that’s “people, places, things [or] unsupportive beliefs.” Getting rid of these saboteurs leaves you “free to create.”

Similarly, only share your project with people who will be completely nonjudgmental and supportive, she added.

15. Shrink stress. “Stress is a creativity killer so you must avoid it and/or minimize it,” McMeekin said. Fortunately, there are many uncomplicated ways to cope with stress. (See here and here for tips.)

16. Create your own tools. You can develop your own tools to nourish creativity. McMeekin created a deck of cards she calls the “Creativity Courage Cards,” which feature affirmations and her husband’s photos. She draws a card from the deck daily for inspiration. As she said, it takes courage to be creative, and these cards help remind her to be “fearless and proactive.”

17. Make creativity a family affair. Hepburn and her daughters spend a lot of time creating together, which is no doubt inspiring for all of them. According to Hepburn, who worked almost a decade with kids and teens, “I never fail to be inspired by their innate creativity and lack of inhibition.”

She also sees firsthand the benefits of creativity (which we may overlook sometimes). For instance, Hepburn’s 6-year-old daughter came home from school crying because she said her heart had been broken. That day, she talked about her strong heart and drew a picture, which now hangs in her room. “Access to creative expression allows us to become more resilient and deal with life trauma or stress at any age,” Hepburn said.

18. Be inquisitive. Simms suggested that readers “question, wonder [and] explore.” Doing so, she explained, “wakes your brain up to new possibilities.” And you can start anywhere. You might wonder: How does “a Stairmaster work? What does that leaf smell like? What would happen if I added cumin instead of coriander?”

19. Be open. Creativity is being flexible and open to all kinds of ideas. Lawlor tries to let go of any preconceived notions and “allow myself to live in the realm of not being sure if a thing will work or not.” She admits that this isn’t so simple in our society where quick fixes are standard. “But sometimes, I think, you have to let things simmer and be open to the unexpected.”

20. Find activities that get you “in the flow.”We’ve all experienced a time when we were fully focused on an activity and even lost track of time. That’s what being in a state of flow feels like. Simms described it as “another sort of consciousness [that] takes over and you ride on instinct;” where “time is distorted.” She recommended readers “explore what activities let you work in the flow state and enjoy the effortlessness of working from there.” This can be anything from running to reading to drawing to dancing.

(By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S. via Psych Central

Get Over It.

We've all a bad day here and there, where everything just seems to go down the drain. Bad moods happen for a reason, and it's often due to "ego depletion"—the idea that you've used up too much willpower to avoid something. The other thing that can make it worse? Thinking about the fact that you're having a bad day. In fact, believing in the concept of a "bad day" is likely to make your day worse. If you're having a short bout of stress, though, luckily there's a lot you can do to crush it right then and there. 

Eat: Theoretically, doing anything you like can improve your mood, but food works in a number of ways. First, it regenerates nutrients you've lost over the course of the day. If you're in a bad mood because you haven't eaten and your blood sugar level is low, you should already feel better after a few bites. As it turns out, there's also a chance fatty acids can have a positive effect on emotion. If fatty foods aren't your thing, eating spicy foods are known to release endorphins, the same boost you get from exercising. Basically, eating can often reverse a bad mood, but be careful not to overdo it.

Exercise: Exercise increases endorphins and can naturally switch a mood from bad to good in a matter of a few minutes. You can get an endorphin boost from exercise by exerting a moderate or high level of exercise. When your breathing starts to get a bit difficult, the body releases endorphins which can be associated with feelings of happiness. The euphoria isn't long lasting, but it should be enough to make you forget about the guy who cut you off in traffic.

Listen to Music: Music can trigger a release of dopamine into your brain. This is associated with a pleasurable feeling and subsequently can turn a frown upside down in the span of a three-minute pop song. Basically, as you're following a tune, you are anticipating what's going to happen next and the reward for doing so is a little shot of pleasure.

Embrace It: A bad mood can trigger more attentive, careful thinking and allows you to zero in on specific tasks. As we mentioned above, it gives you a sort of tunnel vision, which also means your focus is dedicated to one project. Since you can pay more attention to specific details it's a good time to get started on complex projects, rework old hair-brained ideas, or tackle a task that requires your total attention. It can even give you a slight competitive advantage because your focus is driven directly toward a task. It can also make you more persuasive because it promotes concrete ideas and communications styles. It might not be the most pleasurable way to deal with a case of the Mondays, but at least you'll get a bunch of work done because of it.

(By Whitson Gordon via Lifehacker

Do what you love.

You've probably read our philosophy on our site before: "Do what you love. We'll do the rest." 

We encourage everyone to do what they love - not just our clients. In fact, our founder, Ted Roden, created Fancy Hands by doing what he loves - building a website and company.  

Our developers launched a forum a while ago, so that our assistants can communicate with each other from all over the country. It's been a huge help for them to be able to share ideas and tips about how to get their work done, and it's connected people who were previously not able to speak to their co-workers. 

This week, one of our assistants, Allen L., started a thread with this:

I have been a Fancy Hander for a while now, and I love what I do. Fancy Hands came along at just the right time for me and has made a big difference in my life. I want to hear about your Fancy experience, so I thought I would start this thread and ask you all some questions. 

As we read the responses, we were reminded that our assistants are also doing what they love - working and learning while raising their children, caring for other family members, and enjoying the freedoms that being a Fancy Hands assistant allows them to have.

Here's what our team members had to say: 

What are the biggest benefits to working as a Fancy Hands assistant?

I have been a Estate Manager / PA for over 20 years and Fancy Hands has helped me keep my skills sharp. I had assistants in the past for some of the larger estates I managed and I never had to learn in-depth Excel spreadsheets, and I never seemed to have the time or interest to focus on it. With Google Docs (I am a G man all the way), I have been exposed to a lot, and I'm digging the learning experience. - Alan J. 

I was looking for extra work on top of my full-time job that involves long hours/lots of travel, and I found other PT work hard to schedule. I can do Fancy Hands tasks on my lunch hour, in the evenings when I've lost control of the remote, and on quiet Sunday mornings. I love getting to learn. I prefer tasks that are research/data entry based, and I've had the opportunity to learn some fantastic things! I've proofread great book chapters, I know every food truck in NYC, I've made lists of great blogs and websites that I never knew existed...sometimes I want to thank the clients for letting me help them! - Allison B. 

The biggest benefit to me is being able to work from home with my daughters. Before I started working from home, I was a teacher. It was really hard to leave something that I loved so much, but I just couldn't stand the thought of leaving my baby at daycare. I thought I'd only stay home one year and then go back, but we decided to have another baby! Also, with Fancy Hands, I'm able to put the the research skills I learned while earning my graduate degree into use! May as well get some use out of that - I paid enough for it. And the last benefit is the ability to do things that I can learn from. Education is my passion, and educating myself is part of that. I learn so much from the tasks I do as a Fancy Hand. - Courtney B. 

I have an OCD with Sensory Integration Disorder seven year old, and keeping up with him takes a lot of time and attention. The various appointments for him make working during the school year nearly impossible. I love to work - something, anything to keep that mind fresh. Fancy Hands gives me a chance to do what I am good at: research! I worked as a Reference Library Assistant for 7 years, and then 2 years as an Executive Assistant, and this puts all those skills to work. The occasional person needing help with Star Trek references makes the job even better! - Christina H. 

I get to stay at home with my son! And when we move around, because my husband is in the Army, I won't have to worry about finding a new job. - Joslyn S. 

You can work whenever you want to. The work is always changing. You can choose exactly what tasks you want to work on. - Heather D. 

I am able to stay home with my two kids (4 year old and 20 month old). I am currently three months pregnant with my third and have been so very sick and if I worked at an 8-5 job there is no way I would still be employed! Good pay is another benefit. You get what you put into it. That is a nice feeling, because it is rare these days to feel as though you are earning for the amount of work you put in. Another great benefit is the ability to stay current. The tasks I work on not only keep me relevant with the constantly changing technology and world events, it also allows me to keep my brain healthy and my grammar and typing skills up to date. - Jeanne-Marie M. 

IT IS SO MUCH FUN! I mean who can beat sitting in your recliner calling people all day? Not to mention you get to act out so many different roles. I own my own business in a way. I am the boss. Well...except for Scott, haha! YOU LEARN SO MUCH! I have learned everything from how to get major discounts on hotels, to negotiating tactics, and so many real world tools that will make my life so much easier. I love learning, especially when it's crazy odd stuff. This job never ceases to amaze me, and every day I learn something new. And Scott - I mean who doesn't like this guy? I love having a manager I can trust to the fullest. - Draconius G. 

I love the amount of knowledge that you learn and retain from various tasks. For example, I never knew there was a website dedicated totally to unclaimed property. I checked it the other day and, boom! A $75 check was sitting under my name, unclaimed for the past 6 years. Had I not had a task for someone that involved learning this interesting fact, that check would have just sat there forever! I currently work for a cable company that is going through several changes (buy-out and department shutdowns). Fancy Hands offers me the peace of mind that if my department shuts down,  I have an alternative (much more fun) full time position to go to. - Amber M. 

I quit working after I had my son in 2010; not because I had him, but because my husband got an awesome job offer in a different city and we decided to see how it would go with me not working. I make just as much here as I would working in the "real world" and paying for daycare. I love not leaving the house and dealing with difficult coworkers. I often get e-mails from an old friend at my previous job and things have gotten so bad for her since I left, I'm glad I don't have to deal with the office politics anymore. - Chris N. 

I was told 22 years ago I couldn't have children, which was fine with me since I never really liked kids...dirty little creatures, and there is just no reasoning with them. Anyhoo....wasn't I just a little (LOT) shocked that at 40 I find myself pregnant! I am now "that" woman who can not shut up about how amazing, smart, beautiful and did I mention amazing, her 2 year old little girl is. So I am an old dog learning new tricks, and FH allows me to be the stay-at-home mom I want to be without having my brain turning to complete mush. I love the flexibility that "my" company allows me. I can be my polished, professional self on the phone while covered in whatever manner of goop my daughter is finding fascinating that day. - Denise Q. 

My dad has serious health issues, and I am able to get him to appointments etc. plus spend some quality time with him while I can. I am so grateful for that! It's a gift for both of us. Second is the access to learning new things. I've seen things our clients are using and check them out - I am now on Evernote and I use Dropbox. I know I would never have learned about these great tools in my previous work environment. - Juls N. 

What advice would you give to someone considering becoming a virtual assistant?

Always be professional in your contact with our clients, and go the extra mile. - Donna H. 

Take a chance. If this is the kind of stuff you do all day for your friends and family, then make the extra step to getting paid for it. - Christina H. 

It is a great job if you're detail-oriented and good at following directions. It is important to know your skill set and be clear about the things that you're good at and knowledgeable about. Some tasks will be out of your league, and that's OK - work instead on tasks that you know you can answer thoroughly and accurately. - Allison B. 

Brush up on grammar and punctuation rules. Learn how to use Zipping software. Learn how to use Google Drive. If you make a mistake, own it and correct it. - Susan M. 

I would warn someone considering becoming a Virtual Assistant that it is addictive. This was something I was going to try for a couple of months ... and well, I'm still here! I just can't stop myself! - Juls N. 

Give it your all! The interactions you have with the clients and the information you learn is awesome! - Jeanne-Marie M. 

Know what you're good at and do that. Leave the rest to someone else, or learn how to be good at that, too. - Courtney B. 

Wake up early. Don't get overwhelmed. It's all about balance. Do what you can. Don't be afraid to ask for help. Find out what you're good at and be quick in claiming those tasks. Get real with yourself and never be afraid to go that extra mile for clients. It pays off in the end. I love Fancy Hands! - Draconius G. 

Give it your all. This is your work product that you are producing for FH. Do go the extra mile, because the first time you get kudos from a client for a job well done, it will click. You are not just an anonymous person sitting at a computer. You are THAT person's personal assistant! - Denise Q. 

Control your time.

Can you remember a period in your life when, if you look back on it now, time seemed to stretch on forever? When a week seemed like four, or an hour seemed like it went on for days? What were you doing during that period?

Chances are, you were probably doing something (or a whole bunch of somethings) that was brand new to you and demanded your attention. The funny thing is, by focusing on what you were doing, you actually slowed down time (or how your brain perceived that time, anyway).

Neuroscientist David Eagleman used this great example to explain how time perception works:

Yet “brain time,” as Eagleman calls it, is intrinsically subjective. “Try this exercise,” he suggests in a recent essay. “Put this book down and go look in a mirror. Now move your eyes back and forth, so that you’re looking at your left eye, then at your right eye, then at your left eye again. When your eyes shift from one position to the other, they take time to move and land on the other location. But here’s the kicker: you never see your eyes move.” There’s no evidence of any gaps in your perception—no darkened stretches like bits of blank film—yet much of what you see has been edited out. Your brain has taken a complicated scene of eyes darting back and forth and recut it as a simple one: your eyes stare straight ahead. Where did the missing moments go?

Before I explain these time-bending powers you didn’t know you had, let’s back up a bit and look at how our brains perceive time normally.

How we perceive time

Our ‘sense’ of time is unlike our other senses—i.e. taste, touch, smell, sight and hearing. With time, we don’t so much sense it as perceive it.

Essentially, our brains take a whole bunch of information from our senses and organize it in a way that makes sense to us, before we ever perceive it. So what we think is our sense of time is actually just a whole bunch of information presented to us in a particular wayas determined by our brains:

When our brains receive new information, it doesn’t necessarily come in the proper order. This information needs to be reorganized and presented to us in a form we understand. When familiar information is processed, this doesn’t take much time at all. New information, however, is a bit slower and makes time feel elongated.

Even stranger, it isn’t just a single area of the brain that controls our time perception—it’s done bya whole bunch of brain areas, unlike our common five senses, which can each be pinpointed to a single, specific area.

So here’s how that process affects the length of time we perceive:

When we receive lots of new information, it takes our brains a while to process it all. The longer this processing takes, the longer that period of time feels:

When we’re in life-threatening situations, for instance, “we remember the time as longer because we record more of the experience. Life-threatening experiences make us really pay attention, but we don’t gain superhuman powers of perception.”

The same thing happens when we hear enjoyable music, because “greater attention leads to perception of a longer period of time.”

Conversely, if your brain doesn’t have to process lots of new information, time seems to move faster, so the same amount of time will actually feel shorter than it would otherwise. This happens when you take in lots of information that’s familiar, because you’ve processed it before.Your brain doesn’t have to work very hard, so it processes time faster.

Interestingly though, that doesn’t mean doing something over and over again, can’t have a significant impact on your brain, in fact practice can fundamentally rewire your brain, too.

Eagleman described it like this:

The more detailed the memory, the longer the moment seems to last. “This explains why we think that time speeds up when we grow older,” Eagleman said—why childhood summers seem to go on forever, while old age slips by while we’re dozing. The more familiar the world becomes, the less information your brain writes down, and the more quickly time seems to pass.

“Time is this rubbery thing,” Eagleman said. “It stretches out when you really turn your brain resources on, and when you say, ‘Oh, I got this, everything is as expected,’ it shrinks up.”

The best example of this is the so-called oddball effect—an optical illusion that Eagleman had shown me in his lab. It consisted of a series of simple images flashing on a computer screen. Most of the time, the same picture was repeated again and again: a plain brown shoe. But every so often a flower would appear instead. To my mind, the change was a matter of timing as well as of content: the flower would stay onscreen much longer than the shoe. But Eagleman insisted that all the pictures appeared for the same length of time. The only difference was the degree of attention that I paid to them. The shoe, by its third or fourth appearance, barely made an impression. The flower, more rare, lingered and blossomed, like those childhood summers.

So if your brain got hit with loads of new information over the course of a day, and the following day received hardly any new information, the first day would seem much longer than the first, even though they were exactly the same.

New experiences also happen to improve how we learn and remember information, which I’ve explored before.

How age affects time perception

Of course, we don’t normally notice this process taking place; all we notice is the weird feeling of a day being really long, even though we know it was just 24 hours.

As we age, this process comes into play even more, making time seem to fly by much faster. This is because the more we age, the more often we come into contact with information our brains have already processed. This familiar information takes a shortcut through our brains, giving us the feeling that time is speeding up and passing us by.

For young children, it’s easy to see how this would work in reverse, since the majority of information their brains are processing would be brand new, and require more time to process.

How to make your day last longer

Learning about the brain is always fascinating, but it’s even better when you can put that learning into practice. That’s why I love this idea of time perception so much—we can use it to our advantage fairly easily.

According to the research, if we feed our brains more new information, the extra processing time required will make us feel like time is moving more slowly. And supposing it’s true that perception is reality, we’d effectively be making our days longer. How awesome is that?

Here are five ways you could put this into practice immediately. If you have more ideas, I’d love to hear them!

1. Keep learning

Learning new things is a pretty obvious way to pass your brain new information on a regular basis. If you’re constantly reading, trying new activities or taking courses to learn new skills, you’ll have a wealth of ‘newness’ at your fingertips to help you slow down time.

2. Visit new places

A new environment can send a mass of information rushing to your brain—smells, sounds, people, colors, textures. Your brain has to interpret all of this. Exposing your brain to new environments regularly will give it plenty of work to do, letting you enjoy longer-seeming days.

This doesn’t necessarily mean world travels, though. Working from a cafe or a new office could do the trick. As could trying a new restaurant for dinner or visiting a friend’s house you haven’t been to.

3. Meet new people

We all know how much energy we put into interactions with other people. Unlike objects, people are complex and take more effort to ‘process’ and understand.

Meeting new people, then, is a good workout for our brains. That kind of interaction offers us lots of new information to make sense of, like names, voices, accents, facial features and body language.

4. Try new activities

Have you ever played dodgeball on trampolines? How about jumped from a plane or raced cheese down a hill?

Doing new stuff means you have to pay attention. Your brain is on high alert and your senses are heightened, because you’re taking in new sensations and feelings at a rapid rate. As your brain takes in and notices every little detail, that period of time seems to stretch out longer and longer in your mind.

5. Be spontaneous

Surprises are like new activities: they make us pay attention and heighten our senses. Anyone who hates surprises can attest to that.

If you want to stretch out your day, this is a good way to do it. Try surprising your brain with new experiences spontaneously—the less time you give your brain to prepare itself, the less familiar it will be with any information it receives, and the longer it will take to process that time period. In fact, overwhelming your brain, which we discussed before, is one of the best ways to make time slow down.

(By Belle Beth Cooper via The Buffer Blog) 

Stay cool.

Surprise, surprise, it's summer, and that means it's hot. Here are 7 ways to keep a cool head: 

Cover your windows. 

40% of your home's heat enters through windows, especially ones that face east and west. Make sure that your window coverings are a light color and closely fit your windows. Then close them! It's not time to enjoy the daylight, it's time to batten down the hatches and save money on your AC bill. 

Phone fan. 

Silly? Perhaps. But worth a try! 

Cold cocktail.

The people next to me at the beach did this last weekend, and I was jeally jeals. Freeze orange juice in a thermos overnight. In the morning, pour a bottle of cold champagne on top of it. When you get to your picnic or concert or the beach- mimosa slushies! Drink plenty of water, too, because dehydration is definitely un-cool.

Spray the ones you love. 

If your dog is a water lover, keep a spray bottle in the refrigerator and give them a misting here and there. Go ahead and give yourself one, too. 

Stick it in the fridge. 

Soak washcloths in water, put them in ziplock bags, and keep them in the fridge (or freezer if you want to carry one with you and keep it cold longer). Pull those suckers out and rest them on your ankles, wrists, and temples when you're sweltering. 

It's also nice to keep lotion and moisturizer in the fridge to rub on your face, feet and/or back after a long, hot day. 

Head to a movie. 

If you don't have AC, now is the time to catch up on your cinematic knowledge. Movie theatres are usually so arctic that I have to take a sweater. 

Fan your sheets.

Use your handy spray bottle to lightly mist your sheets before hopping in for some shut eye. Point a fan towards your bed and you'll fall asleep feeling the kisses of a million snow-lipped angels.

Don't take it for granite.

"I could care less" and "I could literally eat a horse" are two of the most commonly misused phrases in the English language. While you may or may not be using them correctly, chances are you hear phrases being misused all the time — and it's probably one of your biggest pet peeves! Let's look at 17 of the most commonly misused phrases and learn the proper way to say them. We won't tell anyone if you forward it to a few people you may know.


Correct way to say it: It's a dog-eat-dog world.

Meaning: There's no such thing as a "doggy-dog" world. The expression goes all the way back to 43 B.C. when Roman scholar and writer Marcus Terentius Varro (comparing principles of humanity to that of animals) stated that even "a dog will not eat dog." A "dog-eat-dog" world is defined as ruthless behavior to get what you want... so look out.


Correct way to say it: For all intents and purposes… 

Meaning: "Intensive" means your purpose is intense. "Intents and purposes" means practical.


Correct way to say it: I'm supposed to go grocery shopping today.

Meaning: "Suppose to" is grammatically incorrect. Don't forget to add a "d" to the end.


Correct way to say it: The baby screamed for half the night.

Meaning: "Literally" implies that it's true. Don't say "literally" unless it's a fact!


Correct way to say it: The toddler spilled his milk by accident.

Meaning: Most people say "on" instead of "by." Surprisingly, "by" is grammatically correct.


Correct way to say it: A moot point.

Meaning: "Mute" means unable to speak; "moot" means irrelevant or obsolete discussion.


Correct way to say it: I nipped that problem in the bud!

Meaning: If you nip a plant in the "bud," you are preventing it from flowering. You simply can't nip problems in the "butt."


Correct way to say it: I ate too much today. Case in point, I ate out four times.

Meaning: "Case and point" is not a phrase. Instead, use "case in point."


Correct way to say it: Head toward the door and you'll see me.

Meaning: Toward never has an "s" at the end. Neither does "anyway." Keep in mind that "towards" is acceptable and correct in countries outside the U.S.


Correct way to say it: I should have worked out instead of taking a nap.

Meaning: "Should of" is never proper grammar. It's always "should have" or "should've." The same goes for "would have," "could have," etc.


Correct way to say it: Regardless of how the interview goes, I'm proud of you.

Meaning: Regardless means "no matter what" or "in spite of everything." Irregardless is not a proper word — plain and simple.


Correct way to say it: He was at my beck and call while I was sick.

Meaning: "Beck and call" means being made available, ready to obey. "Beckon call" is not correct usage of the English language.


Correct way to say it: She hadn't eaten all day, making her hunger pangs unbearable.

Meaning: Hunger "pains" do not exist; hunger "pangs" do. This is by far one of the most misused phrases of all.


Correct way to say it: You have another think coming!

Meaning: It's "think," not "thing." The phrase implies you have another thought (or think) coming. Over time, "think" became "thing," which is simply incorrect.


Correct way to say it: The weather will wreak havoc on our picnic.

Meaning: To "wreck havoc" means destroying chaos and adding more chaos — it just doesn't make sense. To "wreak havoc" means to cause chaos.


Correct way to say it: Yoko Ono is a famous scapegoat, often blamed for the breakup of the Beatles.

Meaning: A "scapegoat" is someone who gets blamed (possibly erroneously) for the actions of others. An escape goat is a goat that has escaped. Use it correctly!


Correct way to say it: I couldn't care less.

Meaning: If you "could care less," then you care and are capable of caring less. Make sure to keep it negative — meaning you don't care and couldn't care any less.

(By Sarah Brooks via She Knows)

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