Encouraging Books for 2020

Encouraging books are one of my favorite parts of my morning routine. Last summer, I downloaded Audible as a way to pass the time during summer break. But I had no idea that once I downloaded it, I would become an audiobook junkie!

Encouraging books for millennials

Now, I listen to encouraging books (read: audiobooks) for about an hour every morning while I get ready! It takes the boredom out of doing my hair. And the promise of learning something new actually gives me more incentive to get out of bed in the mornings!

Here are some of my favorite encouraging books for Millennials:

Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis

Girl, Wash Your Face | Rachel Hollis

This is one of the most encouraging books of the decade. Everyone has been all about this book lately, and for good reason! I’d never heard of Rachel Hollis before it, but listening to this book made me a huge fan! She is honest and real, even when it’s embarrassing (like a story about shaving her toes). It’s like advice a big sister would give you. And since I don’t have a big sister, I appreciated it SO MUCH. This book is great for anyone in college, out of college, in their first real job, newly married, new moms, and working moms… I honestly can’t think of a stage of life where this book wouldn’t be helpful 🙂

Of Mess and Moxie, Jen Hatmaker

Of Mess and Moxie | Jen Hatmaker

Jen Hatmaker is one of my most favorite authors ever. Her book, Interrupted, literally changed my life. It’s what made me want to leave the world of private schools and teach in one of the most low-income neighborhoods in America. She is so real and raw and FUNNY. This book is way less intense than Interrupted or Seven. This book is about extracting all the joy you can out of your daily life. Jen’s writing is fun, encouraging, and will give you the emotional boost you may be needing. This book is fun and encouraging for women of all ages!

Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards

Captivate | Vanessa Van Edwards

This book is all about body language and other subconscious things that are important for relationship building. Vanessa is a social researcher and she shares the best place to stand in a party, what to do in a job interview, and how to work better with your coworkers. Plus, I love it that she backs everything up with science. And I love it even more that she conducts most of the research herself. Her stories and experiments are fascinating! If you are job-searching, YOU SHOULD CHECK OUT THIS BOOK!

Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans

Designing Your Life | Bill Burnett & Dave Evans

These two guys actually teach a course on this at Stanford. But since taking a course at Stanford isn’t practical for most of us, this book is a good substitute! This book primarily focuses on Design Thinking, which along with Growth Mindset, is all the rage in education these days. This book tells stories of people who had no life plan or who changed the current path of their lives. If you are contemplating a career change, this book is for you. If you are fresh out of school and looking for your next steps, this book is for you. No matter your phase of life, this book is for you. It will definitely give you some insights into what you are passionate about!

You are a Badass, Jen Sincero

You Are a Badass | Jen Sincero

This book is probably the most self-helpy one on this list. However, Jen Sicnero’s style of writing and storytelling is pretty funny, even if you aren’t into that kind of book. Her basic message is that the universe is conspiring in your favor. It may sound cheesy, or fantasy-like, but I truly believe there is something to be said for a positive mindset! She talks a lot about how she has overcome obstacles in her life. And she tells stories that have helped her learn important life lessons. Her honesty is refreshing and maybe the motivation you need to get back on track. This book is perfect for anyone feeling a little down or stuck in life.

Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin

Better Than Before | Gretchen Rubin

Gretchen Rubin has become one of my favorite authors over the past few months. Even if you haven’t heard of her, you would probably recognize the cover of her first book The Happiness Project. I remember seeing it in FedEx Office in college (I spent a LOT of time at FedEx Office). This book is like Organized Charm on steroids. Gretchen is amazing. She researches, she writes, she shares. Everything in this particular book is about creating new habits. 21 different strategies total. 21! It will help you run daily, eat healthier, sleep earlier, study consistently, WHATEVER your dream goal it! Definitely check it out 🙂 This book is good for anyone looking to make life changes, but needing concrete steps to do it!

Read: 3 Habits That Will Boost Your Productivity
Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Daring Greatly | Brené Brown

Brené Brown’s main topic is vulnerability. She researches vulnerability, why we hate it for ourselves but like to see it in others, and how it can make us better leaders and humans. This particular book focuses on taking risks and is full of advice and great quotes. “If you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback”. How often do we accept judgments of others WHO ARE NOT IN OUR SITUATIONS? And on the flip side of that, how often do we judge others when WE are not in the arena? This book is perfect for anyone needing a little extra boost of encouragement to take a big leap.

Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown

Braving the Wilderness | Brené Brown

Brown encourages you to look at what lies you tell yourself and the power they hold over you. Everyone feels like they are a little weird/different/unlike anyone else. And guess what? You are. None of us have had the same mix of personality, upbringing, life experiences, education, skills, talents, etc. This is something we P R E A C H in Kindergarten, but it’s so hard to follow as adults. Brown encourages you to be true to yourself, even at the risk of feeling like you don’t fit in. It’s a message that we start needing to hear when we’re about 12, and apparently never stop needing to hear. This book is perfect for people who are “pleasers” or are seeking to fit in.

You might also like: How to Actually Accomplish Your Goals
The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin

The Four Tendencies | Gretchen Rubin

This book is like a spin-off of Better Than Before. Rubin talks about how there are four main categories of people when it comes to habit formation. What I like is that she’s not saying there are four main ways to BE or four main personality types. She’s saying, when it comes to forming (or quitting) a habit, there are four ways people handle it. This book helps you find out what YOUR tendency is and those of your children, coworkers, roommates, spouse, etc. Great for anyone who is starting new habits or looking to work better with others. 

Also read: Good Habits for College Classes
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic | Elizabeth Gilbert

Big Magic is one of those books that gives you a little surge of optimism with every paragraph. Elizabeth Gilbert’s writing is so encouraging, matter-of-fact, and inspiring that you can’t help but pick up her positive energy. She talks about how long she spent on her dream of being a writer before her first book was ever published. Gilbert walks us through how to be courageous enough to share our creative work. She talks about not trying to satisfy your ego (because you never will). And she talks about creating for FUN, not for money. This book is great for any makers/creators who hold themselves back out of fear.

You might also like: How to Feng Shui Your Work Space
Encouraging books for 2020

Most of these books are ones that focus on emotional, warm and fuzzy type things. I’ll probably do a follow-up book on my favorite professional growth books soon! I know that there are SO MANY encouraging books for both personal and professional growth. Please tell me which ones are your favorites! 🙂

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Best Teacher Gifts Under $25

Teacher gifts can be challenging. Whether your child’s teacher’s birthday is coming up, or you’re a teacher participating in Secret Santa, it’s always tough to know what others will like. If you’re looking to get a little more creative than the traditional Starbucks gift card (and support small business), then here are some of the best teacher gifts for you!

Book Lovers’ Soy Candles from Frostbeard

Do you know what most teachers love? Books and candles. When you find something that combines the two, it is truly exciting! Frostbeard is a candle shop based in Minneapolis, Minnesota that focuses on candles for book lovers. You can choose from scents like Bookstore, Old Books, Oxford Library, and Headmaster’s Office, just to name a few! They also offer several sizes, so you can go big or tiny based on your teacher gift needs 🙂

Laptop Stickers from Coffeein5th & NewHampshireBelle

Laptop stickers are perfect teacher gifts! Teachers love motivational quotes and cute illustrations. It’s part of the job. Laptop stickers are the perfect way to gift a teacher with a pretty little dose of positivity each time he or she opens up a laptop to take attendance. And speaking of that, NewHampshireBelle has the perfect sticker reminding them to do that, too… admin will thank you 😉

( Get better at taking attendance here —> Tips for Forming Good Habits )

iPhone Charger Decal from FourPandas

This shop out of Jacksonville, Florida offers all kinds of monogrammed teacher gift ideas! Teachers (and I can only speak for the Southern ones) LOVE monogrammed gifts! I love monogrammed gifts because they show that you put some thought into it ahead of time. Plus, teachers (along with everyone else) can never have enough chargers!

Personalized Notebook from OldWaysFuss&Feathers

I feel comfortable telling you that, no matter the teacher you’re thinking about, he or she is a list-maker. Teachers just can’t help it. There are a million and one things to remember: Notes to take in meetings, things to copy, children to send to the office early next Tuesday at 11:10. #teacherlife is impossible without lists and notes, which is why notebooks are one of the best teacher gifts! These sweet notebooks out of North Vernon, Indiana just add an extra little bright spot to list-making! 

Read: Weekly Lesson-Planning Process

Teacher T-Shirts from uniquebelletique

“Wait a minute…” you may be thinking. “Teachers wear t-shirts about teaching?” Yes. Yes, we do. On a dress down day, a teacher shirt, jeans, and cute tennis shoes are the most Instagrammable teacher outfit you can imagine! Teacher t-shirts make great teacher gifts! Luckily, Etsy is FULL of cute shops with tons of options, like uniquebelletique out of Midlothian, Texas, and whimsyandwhiteboards out of Salem, Oregon. 

Bonus

No teacher gift is complete without a meaningful card. In fact, you could really get away with this being your ONLY gift. And I’m not talking about a card that says, “Thanks for being the best teacher ever,” but a truly meaningful card. One where you list the things he or she does from day-to-day that you appreciate. It could be how your child’s teacher has worked really hard with him/her on handwriting over the past few months, or how your coworker across the hall always offers to make your copies.

Teachers like kindness and inspirational words, right? (see above) I still have cards hanging over my desk at home that are 3-4 years old. Those kids are almost in middle school now! But the kind words that those parents took the time to write me have been some of the most lasting gifts I’ve ever received.

You might also like: School Supply Shopping List

What gift ideas would you like to add to this list?! Please share them in the comments section 🙂

5 Steps to Keep Your Closets Organized

Everything in my house is organized. Totally and completely organized. The bookcase in the office? Organized. The shelves in the laundry room? Organized. The kitchen cabinets? Yep, you can look there. They’re organized (for now). 

But then there are *dun dun dun* the closets. 

Closets are a blessing and a curse at the same time. On one hand, they give us a place to store our stuff. On the other hand, they give us a place to store tons of stuff that we don’t need and a place to hide it away so we never have to deal with it. 

My house is about a century old, and it only has four closets. One in each bedroom, and one in the laundry room. Out of those four, I only feel like one of them is functional. The other three? Traps for junk, like things I’m planning to donate or things that just don’t have another home. 

Is this a problem for you, too? 


This post can show you how to organize your closets and keep them organized over time! Say hello to the CHARM system! 

The CHARM System:


C– Start with a Clear Goal
H– Adjust your Habits to align with your goal
A– Take Action
R– String your habits together into Routines
M– Have a Positive Mindset

Step #1: Envision a Clear Goal for Each Closet


On a piece of paper, write a heading for each closet in your house, even if you feel like it’s already being used efficiently. Next, set a timer for a minute and write down how you envision each closet being used. If you need some help, just close your eyes and visualize your perfect life, where everything is clean and everyone is happy. You are totally efficient, look completely fabulous, and everyone in your life is happy. 

In that scenario, how do you envision yourself coming into your home? Where do you put your things? What do you see when you open each of those closets? Include any containers, shelving systems, etc. that you envision. Remember to include how often you see yourself cleaning out each closet in your perfect world 🙂 

Here are my goals for each closet:

Master Closet: Categorized by clothing type and category. Organized with a chronologically rotating system. Aligns with Stylebook App. 

Laundry Closet: Holds all cleaning supplies. Also holds unusual items- Halloween costumes, etc. in neat containers. Bin for items to be donated quarterly. 

Office Closet: Holds outdoorsy stuff, like the stroller, workout equipment. Everything is organized and in its place. Cleaned out every 6 months. 

My Son’s Closet: Out of season clothes kept on the top rack. Shoes on the top rack. Blankets and toys stored on side shelves. Large toys at the bottom. 

(Want to create a minimalist wardrobe that reflects your personal style? This post will help you!)

Step #2: Form Good Habits


Now that you have that down on paper, think about what daily habits you would need to create to keep your goal a reality. I’m not talking about “Go to Home Depot and buy a shelving system.” I’m talking about consistent things like putting your clothes away at the same time of day. Here are the habits I’ll need to get into to keep my closets looking the way I want them.

Set your timer for one minute and write down how you see yourself “interacting” with each closet (it sounds crazy, but I promise it works!). 

Here are the habits I need to form to achieve the goal:

Master Closet: 
-Document everything in Stylebook every day. 
-When I come home each day, put clothes away immediately- behind other clothes in that category. 
-Every 3 months, re-evaluate items not worn. 

Laundry Closet:
-Put items to donate in “Donate” Bin as notice them. 
-Donate to Junior League every three months. 

Office Closet:
-Keep free of office clutter. This is not a home for old notebooks. 
-Identify the things you want to keep and create a new home for them. 

Cash’s Closet: 
-Put big toys (activity table/balance bike) in here nightly. 
-Organize his smaller toys by type and in bins on shelves. 
-Switch out bins weekly. 

Step #3: Take Action


Now that you’ve identified your Clear Goal and Target Habits, it’s time to take action. This is where you get to run to Home Depot and buy that shelving system! Think about what kinds of containers you want. Don’t settle for the first containers you find either, look around and find EXACTLY what you want! The size, the color. What you want exists somewhere, and you won’t feel happy with your closet if you use ill-fitting containers. 

Once you have everything you need, it’s time to actually organize the closet! I am a big fan of this and I kind of look forward to doing it. Turn on all the lights in the room where you are working, get some water, play some music, and take every. single. thing. out of your closet. Everything.

Also Read: 5 Rules for Simplified Style: Get Your Closet Under Control!

We dread cleaning out closets because it’s work. However, once we’ve taken everything out, putting things back into the closet becomes the work. You are far less likely to expend energy putting things you don’t love back into the closet. You may even find that you only loved about 20% of the things in your closet, and you were just keeping the rest because you didn’t want to go through the work of cleaning it out! 


So start with the things you love the most. If you were packing to leave town for a hurricane, and you knew there was a chance you might never see some of these things again, what would you choose to take with you? Think with that mentality. No excess. 

(Related: Creative Storage Solutions for Closets)

Once you’ve gotten those things hung back up in your closet, set a limit of some sort. It could be 20 hangers or everything you can fit in one bin. Be ruthless as you slowly decide which things to add back in. And once you’ve hit your limit, donate the excess that was hiding in your closet! This works for clothes, toys, books, blankets, whatever you’re storing in your closets. 

Most closet organization posts would stop there. You’ve done the hard work. You’ve got a nice, clean closet. You’re done, right? 

Well… organizing your closet and keeping your closet organized is kind of like losing weight and keeping it off. It’s great if you do it all at once and it looks great afterward. But if you don’t change your daily routines, it won’t last. This is where Step # 4 comes in…

Step #4 comes in: Develop Consistent Routines


Look back at your habits. This is the time that you need to use a little discipline and set those habit into motion. One of my habits was to hang up my clothes as soon as I get home. When I get home from work, it’s so easy to leave clothes on the floor for “just a few minutes” while I get water, or pick up my son. But when I do that, I’m not respecting the goal that I set for myself. 

If you tell yourself that you’re going to do something, do it. If you let yourself slack off a little here and there, eventually, you’ll find yourself right back where you started, being stressed about all the excess junk lurking in your closets. Focus on creating one habit for a month, then another one. Eventually, you’ll be able to string your habits together into routines. The routines will keep you from having to have a “closet cleaning” day every year. 

It may seem silly to consciously think about closets, and create habits and routines for them. BUT every little thing we do throughout the day is made up of habits and routines. When we don’t put a lot of thought into them, we fall into bad habits or unproductive routines. However, if you DO put thought and purpose into them, you are one step closer to living the dream life that you envisioned! 

Related: Closet Cleanout Checklist

Step #5: Keep a Positive Mindset


Get into the mindset that you are an organized person, your closets are organized, and you don’t bring in clutter. One of the biggest ways we sabotage ourselves is by saying “I’m the most disorganized person ever,” or “my house is always a mess.” DON’T SAY THAT! When you get down on yourself and your messy house, guess how your house will stay? Messy! Find a relevant quote or two that you really like and think it to yourself when you’re looking through your closets. 

Here are a few of my favorites:

“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” -William Morris


“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.” -Marie Kondo


“Life is too complicated not to be orderly.” -Martha Stewart


Take the time to put everything back where it’s supposed to go. Do it for your future self. Think about how much easier it will be to get ready for work in the morning if you don’t have to dig through a dresser drawer for something that wasn’t hung up correctly! According to Gresham’s Law of Planning, every minute spent planning saves you about 10 minutes in the future. 


So, even though it may be difficult for me to let my son cry for a minute while I hang up my clothes correctly, that helps me have a more efficient morning (which will lead to me having about 10 minutes to play with him before work)! 

Keep things like this in mind throughout your day! It may be a tiny decision now, but it will help you have a smooth getting ready time in the morning. And isn’t that totally worth it?! 

What systems have you tried to keep your closets clean and organized? How did they work? Share your experiences below! 


PS- This post was requested by a reader! You can request your own post here! 🙂