All posts by Sierra Grayson

About Sierra Grayson

I am a freelance photographer based out of Delaware. I specialize in all kinds of photography - you name it, I can capture it (to a socially-acceptable point, of course).

My Updated (And Now Official..) 2019 Planning Routine

Hello again my friends! I wanted to post this updated planning routine today as we are officially at the half-way point in the year – only 6 more months until Christmas which basically means the year is half over!

I’ve perfected my planning system – the system I will officially be using for at least the rest of this year. Keep reading to learn more about what exactly I do to stay on track and keep on top of my crazy busy life!

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So I have a few different methods or areas of planning, and you’ll recognize the logic here if you read my post about my favorite smartphone apps (a good quick read if you’ve got a couple minutes). My planning supplies are: bullet journal, smartphone, desktop computer. Please note that these methods are generally only used for things that I’m involved in by myself – household planning that would require my husband to be included is done with a different system entirely! (Because..I’m crazy)

Desktop Computer

I just recently purchased a desktop computer (even though I do have a laptop), and I can honestly say that I do not regret my decision at all. It’s so nice to have a larger monitor to work with when designing my “productivity wallpapers.” The wallpaper pictured below is one that I started using about a month ago in conjunction with the sticky notes software on my computer.

I basically use this as a catch-all area where I can quickly jot down any events/to-dos/reminders that I think of while I’m browsing the Internet, editing photos, or writing. It’s a way for me to visually see everything at a glance without having to scroll through a smartphone or pull out any paper/pens. You’ll notice that the wallpaper has different sections (and a color code) that allow me to organize the sticky notes at least a little bit.

Smartphone

This is where the crux of my on-the-go planning happens. I don’t usually cart around my bullet journal – which you’ll read about next – and I definitely can’t take my digital sticky notes with me wherever I go. So my phone is where some other magic happens!

I use Google Apps for all of my Gray Graphics communications and content implementation, so it only makes sense that I use it while I’m planning for some stuff as well. This helps keep my iCal app on my phone free of business events or other tasks that I don’t need to do right away for my personal life. Plus, I can access the GA suite from any Operating System (which is great ’cause my desktop uses Windows while my laptop/phone runs on Apple’s iOS). Again, I really only use these apps while I’m out and about so that I have another way to do the “sticky-notes-on-my-desktop” thing without having my actual desktop!

My Bullet Journal

I love, love, LOVE the bullet journal method of planning. I can literally customize any spread I use for inspiration so that it fits my exact needs. There’s no hassle involved with trying to rework an already-printed planner; I just have to draw in my own pages! (Honestly, the drawing is pretty therapeutic though, so I don’t mind it.)

This is usually the last place I visit on a Monday morning once I’m ready to plan out my week with a more solidified method. I use my “bujo” – as they’re usually called – to plan out my months and weeks and to brainstorm/plan my blog content from the sticky notes and GA suite stuff I have up until this point. And every morning after that, I open up my bujo and add any other things I’ve added to the two methods above while I didn’t have my bujo.. It’s a lot, I know.

Here are a couple of photos that give a glimpse into my usual weekly spread and blog planning spread.

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Basically, I’m an organizational wizard! (Or an organizational freak, depending on who you ask…) Anyway you guys, that wraps up today’s dose of inspiration and content. Do you have any tips/tricks/crazy-weird-things that you do to plan your life? Share them in the comments below!

Until next time!

My 5 Most-Used Apps

Hey everyone! Today I want to talk about the most-used apps on my phone. As a photographer, digital media manager, and writer, I have a LOT going on – especially on my phone! My 5 most-used apps help me focus on individual tasks and be as productive as I possibly can. Keep reading to find out what they are and how I use them!

  1. Alexa App (free; Dot is ~$40 on Amazon) – I have an Alexa Dot and use it mostly for home organization; my husband and I can both add to our shopping list or to-do list and can set different reminders based on which of us is talking to Alexa at any given time. It does so much more than that, but that’s how we use it most frequently!
  2. Cozi (free) – This is another one of those that my husband and I both have which helps to keep our home organized and running smoothly. We use the Cozi app to sync up calendar items (and set who is attending each item) and to plan out our weekly meals and who is cooking. The app also has pre-loaded recipes that we’ll refer to when we run out of dinner inspiration!
  3. Productive–Habit Tracker (free) – I can’t say enough about this app; it has honestly changed my habit game. You can set multiple different habits and assign a “completion schedule” to each individual habit. Every morning, I wake up and check this thing and just start checking things off the list. The app also has a “stats” section where you can keep track of which habits you fail to complete the most often or how many perfect days you’ve had. So great!
  4. Forest (free) – Okay, I think you guys have seen me talk about this on my blog before, but I LOVE the Forest app so I’ll talk about it more. It works to get you off of your phone while you’re trying to complete a task (or series of tasks) while also giving you a chance to make a real-world difference. You set a timer in the app for however long you’d like to work without checking your phone; I usually set my timer for 25 minutes then give myself a 5-min phone break before starting to work again. While your timer is going, if you don’t check your phone, the Forest app starts to plant a tree in your “Forest” in the app. Once your timer is up, the tree is fully grown (the longer the timer, the bigger the tree). If you check your phone or exit the app while the timer is going, your tree dies. The more larger trees you have, the more in-app coins you can earn. For every 2500 coins you collect, the Forest app developers will plant a real tree somewhere in the world!
  5. LightRoom (free) – I couldn’t resist putting a photography app in this mix as well. The LightRoom iOS app is completely free (whereas the actual software for a PC or laptop will cost you a premium), and there are so many cool functions. I am currently playing around with LightRoom “presets” that allow you to apply the same editing macros to any photograph. This has helped me so much with my Instagram branding. The app also keeps any of your edited photos in its own storage silo in the Cloud so that you don’t have to worry about losing anything. So nice!

Well folks, that’s it – my 5 most-used apps. Do you have any apps you use on the daily that you think your fellow readers would enjoy learning about? Drop them in the comments below!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post (a day late – whoops!). If you did, be sure to hit that “Like” button or subscribe to the blog – I would really appreciate it. Until next time!

doing what’s right

for you.

Stop trying to please everyone else.

Stop saying “Well, I’ll get to me next week.” Next week never comes.

Stop worrying about upsetting someone else.

What if you go your whole life never doing what you want to do because you think it will make someone else unhappy? Do you think you’re going to feel good about yourself or about your life? Do you think you yourself will be happy?

At the end of the day, you are the only one who has to live with you. You can’t cling to other people when the Grimm Reaper comes calling. You can’t bring them with you to wherever it is you’re supposed to go. So why are you putting your life on hold for them in the first place?

I’m not saying to completely disregard others’ feelings. I’m not saying to stomp all over everyone else and do only for yourself. I’m saying that if there’s something you know you need to do for you, but someone else doesn’t want you to do it – you shouldn’t have to worry about that.

Go for it anyway. Do what right’s by you so that you can open yourself up more fully to others later on. Take it from me, when you’re unhappy with your life or your situation, you’re not going to be thinking about how to best help other people anyway. You’re always going to be wrapped in regrets like a burrito – and not the good kind. I’m talking a 50-cent burrito you bought on the side of the road in a one-stop-light town because you didn’t have time for anything else that day. It’s going to mess you up so bad that it’ll be all you can think about. Don’t do that to yourself. Take the time to order the burrito you actually want from that really nice Mexican restaurant; it’s going to satisfy you so much that you’ll want to help others order one too.

And that’s my analogy for today. Night folks.

Creating a Zine

I am developing a new zine! For those of you who don’t know what a zine is, it’s basically a small “magazine” that includes mostly visual art in one medium and for one story line/creative purpose. I have one zine that I put together while I was in college. It’s all about college life and has pictures like one of a blue rubber ducky that I won out of the crane machine and me sitting on a bench alone – both things that basically sum up my college career… 🙂

I want to produce another zine with more photos, so I hope to take 50 zine pictures by the end of the year! I’ll reveal a little more about this creative project at some point, but I’m really looking forward to seeing it all together, and I hope you all are too!

pro bono photo

It’s so great to make money doing something I love – photography is more than a hobby that way, it’s a business (and I try to treat it as such). Every time I make a commission off a piece of work or earn some money from my services, I get super happy. But do you know what makes me even happier?

Doing the work for free.

I have to make some money somehow, yes. So I charge for my photography whenever I can or feel that I should. But it’s so great to step back and do some “pro bono” photography, to borrow some Latin from the lawyers.

I had the giant pleasure of photographing my church’s Easter festivities this past Sunday, and I did it all for free! This may sound like I’m bragging about my “generosity” – and in a way, I am bragging… I mean come on – I was there for hours just because! But more so than bragging rights, I got out of that day a sense of how happy photography can make people. I got to do portraits of families and capture the amazing essence of that day in our church, and it was so great to see how happy it made people to know that those memories were being recorded somehow.

We have this wall in our church where I put up a bunch of old church photos I found, and every single week someone notices something new in those photos. They see someone they haven’t seen in years or a loved one passed away. They recognize new parts of the church that weren’t even thought of let alone built 100 years ago (our church has been around a long time..)

What I’m trying to say is that it’s so great to be able to do something for other people not worrying about them not liking it because they’re paying you for it; it’s great to just see the joy they get out of the photos and the process

Editing the Easter photos from church
Lentin items

My Photo Editing Playlist!

Music has so much power on our brains – the science behind why teachers play music in the classroom is very compelling. Music activates parts of our brain that help us to understand things easier and better in the long-term. It also helps to activate the brain’s “focus zone” and push us to get more done in a shorter time without realizing it. Have you ever been cleaning the house or working in the yard with the music blaring and suddenly an hour’s gone by and you’ve made some real progress on your tasks? Part of that is because the music activates your brain which pushes you to work harder.

It is for these reasons that I have created a musical playlist I use when I edit my photos! I have 22 songs – so about an hour’s worth of music – that I will play in increments. I hit “shuffle” and play 5 songs at a time before I take a short break. This makes sure that I’m not sitting at my desk for more than 15 minutes at a time or staring at a screen for too long and straining my eyes. During my breaks, I’ll get up and stretch, take a lap around my apartment, and pick up little things that are out of place. This way, I feel like I’m still doing something productive, my mind isn’t foggy with stuff lying around everywhere, and I’m getting in more movement during the day!

If you want to listen to my editing playlist on Spotify, click here. Let me know what you think of my song selections in the comments!