10 Meal Planning Tips For Making Mealtime Easier

At iStratus, we believe in being prepared. That’s why meal planning is right up our alley. Today we want to share with you 10 meal planning tips for your family.  Meal planning is a great way to ensure you and your loved ones are eating healthy, organized meals.

10 Meal Planning Tips To Make Mealtime Easier

1. Plan ahead

Start meal planning at least a week in advance to give yourself enough time to shop for ingredients and plan out meals.  Use the iStratus app to keep track of your menu. The good news is that you don’t have to do this alone.  Sit down with the whole family and get their suggestions.  Assign them a day to pick the dinner and help cook it.  This will lighten the load and make dinnertime more fun.

2. Create meal themes

Choose a meal theme for each day, such as meatless Mondays or tacos Tuesdays, and build your meal plan around it. This will help make meal planning less daunting and more enjoyable.

3. Make a grocery list

Once you’ve planned out your meals for the week, make a grocery list of the ingredients you’ll need to make them. This will help save time and money by avoiding impulse purchases. Use the iStratus app to create your grocery list directly into your calendar. Also, you may want to view our blog, iStratus Lists, for other lists to add to your calendar to make your life easier and stress-free.

4. Pre-prepared meals

Save time during mealtime by pre-prepping components of your meal ahead of time, such as chopping vegetables or marinating meats. We find that including the whole family in meal prep makes everyone more appreciative of the work and makes the task go by more quickly.

5. Get creative

Don’t be afraid to try new recipes or ingredients, meal planning is a great way to get creative in the kitchen and add some variety to your meal plan. A good rule of thumb is to add one new meal each week and choose a weekend to try it as a new recipe usually takes more time.

6. Utilize leftovers

Leftovers from one meal can become the base for another meal later in the week. This will save time and money, plus reduce waste. Consider having a “fend for yourself” night each week.  This gives everyone the opportunity to eat the leftovers from earlier meals.

7. Cook in bulk

Take advantage of meal planning by cooking large batches of meals that can be portioned out for the week’s meal plan.  This will help save time during mealtime and create more leftovers for later in the week! Spaghetti sauce and chicken breasts are two examples of items that can be cooked in bulk and pulled out later for a quick dinner.

8. Use your freezer

Building on the last tip, freezing leftovers or pre-cooked meals will help save time at mealtime and ensure you always have something on hand when hunger strikes.

9. Recycle meal ideas

Don’t be afraid to reuse meal ideas from previous meal plans to make meal planning simpler and easier. This is the #1 reason to add your menus to iStratus. It gives you the chance to go back and recycle.

10. Have a meal plan backup

Always have a meal plan backup ready in case you don’t have time to prepare or there’s an unexpected change of plans.  This could be pre-cooked meals, meal delivery services, or takeout!

Meal planning doesn’t have to be daunting. With these meal planning tips, you can create healthy and organized meal plans for the whole family with ease.  Give meal planning a try and experience the benefits of being prepared! Download the iStratus app today and give it a try!

Can An App Organize Your Family?

Running a family is hard. You have to juggle the calendar, not just for yourself but also for your spouse and your children as well. You have to plan and cook dinners, arrange for car and house repairs, and let’s not even get started on the medical appointments and weekly shopping. But, with iStratus, you can lighten the load. Using our day planner, task manager, and document manager in the right way, you can organize your family life to run as efficiently as your business life.   

In this article, we will share 8 ways you can use iStratus to keep your family more organized and efficient.

8 Ways To Use Your Calendar To Organize Your Family

1.  Sync family members’ activities

Use our family calendar to sync family members’ activities so everyone knows what’s happening and when. This will not only help you know what is going on but also will help your children understand the power of their calendars and agendas.  If you get them in the habit at a young age, then as they get older and start making plans for themselves they will be able to invite you to events such as school performances and other social activities as they reach their teenage years.

2. Automate reminders for family events

Set up automated reminders for family events, like birthdays and anniversaries, so you never forget them again. Be sure to add them to your spouse’s and children’s apps as well.  This will set them up for success. Remember that the reminder only does you good if you set the reminder early enough to plan.  For example, you might set a reminder to call your mom on her birthday but also set a reminder to order her flowers a week ahead of time. 

3. Keep track of family medical appointments

Use our day planner to keep track of family medical appointments, making sure everyone stays on top of their health. The iStratus’s robust day planner allows you to add a checklist to the event in your calendar. This way you to add a list of questions you have for the doctor or a list of items you need to bring such as intake forms, ID, and insurance card. In addition, you can add photos to the event.  We find this handy when wanting to share the medicines you are currently taking.  Just take a snapshot of the medicines and you have all the information you need right there.

4. Keep up with the household repairs

With iStratus, you can easily stay up-to-date on home repair tasks by creating a task list and setting reminders for when they need to be done. Also, don’t forget to add any service appointments to your calendar with a list of questions you have for the service provider.

5. Keep family finances organized

Use our document manager to store family financial documents securely in one place, and use the task list feature to stay on top of family bills. Because your documents can be encrypted when storing them, it is safe to save all of your financial information in the app.  This way, whether you have an appointment with an accountant or you receive an unexpected call when you are on vacation, you have all of the information at your fingertips.

6. Store family recipes in one place

Create a recipe folder in our document manager so all your family’s favorite recipes are easily accessible to everyone. Also, use the calendar to schedule who will be cooking on which nights.  We have found that you can start this process with your children early.  It may be that the youngest ones only help cook dinner in the beginning. As they get older, they can cook simple recipes by themselves. And finally, when old enough, they can choose any recipe in your folder and prepare it for the family.

7. Store family photos

With our document manager, you can store all family photos securely in one place and easily share them with family members. In addition, you can add this to tasks or calendar events as well.  This will come in handy when trying to recreate certain photos as your children grow.

8. Create a family shopping list

Use our task manager to create shared family grocery lists, making weekly shopping trips a breeze. Best of all you can add the list as a checklist in your calendar link.  That way no matter who is shopping they will have the list available to them.

With iStratus, you can make family planning easy and stress-free.  Start using our day planner, task manager, and document manager to get the family organized today!  Let iStratus help you make family organization a breeze. Organize today for tomorrow’s success! Download the iStratus app today.

Get More Done In Less Time

How many times have you said, “If I only had an extra hour in the day?” We never seem to have enough time to do the things we want to do. At iStratus, we are a little obsessed with using tools such as task lists, folders, and calendars to add time to our days. In this article, we will share ten time management tips that will change your life and add hours to your days. 

With time management, the key is breaking down your tasks into manageable chunks. One way to do this is by creating a daily to-do list. By writing out a plan for yourself of what needs to be done each day, you can enhance your productivity by giving focus and direction to your time. You may even find it helpful to assign time frames to each task. That way you can know exactly how much time you have allotted for a particular action and better plan accordingly.

Another time management tip is to schedule time for yourself. Just as we schedule time for tasks and errands, it’s just as important to carve out time during the day for rest and relaxation. This time is crucial to help you stay focused and productive.

It’s also important to use technology to your advantage when it comes to time management. Many time management tools are available which allow you to better track and organize tasks, so you can spend less time searching for information and more time completing the task at hand.

10 Time Management Tricks That Will Help You Get More Done In Less Time

1. Live by your to-do list

Successful people live by their to-do lists.  By creating a to-do list at the beginning of the day, they are intentional about what they have to accomplish throughout the day. If you want to get more done in less time, start with a to-do list.  Make a to-do list every morning and refer back to it throughout the day. In iStratus, your task list is built right in. 

2. Eliminate things from your to-do list

When you look at the list, consider what on there absolutely has to be done.  Is it something you could take off your list altogether? If so, eliminate it. Understanding that not every task is important is a big reason successful people get so much done. They are able to focus on what must happen instead of focusing on less important tasks.

3. Automate items on your list

Automation is more and more prevalent today.  Are there tasks that can be automated and removed from your list not just today but in the future as well?  Examples of tasks you may be able to automate are reminders about upcoming deadlines or thank-you notes for events.  Automating these tasks will save time, increase efficiency and reduce stress.

4. Delegate

This is probably the time management tip people skip most often.  Delegating is difficult for most people because they have to let go of control.  But when you look at the tasks on your lists, are some of them below your pay grade?  Chances are there are several that are. Which tasks can you ask someone else to handle? Maybe it’s as simple as asking one of your children to take the trash out each week or having your spouse do the grocery shopping.  If you are a business owner, maybe it’s time to hire a bookkeeper or someone who handles your marketing.  Delegation multiplies the time you have to do things.

5. Breakdown into smaller sections

Sometimes, your to-do list can be overwhelming.  That’s why we encourage you to break down tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks.    That way, you can focus on one small chunk at a time and get it done.  It’s much easier to finish the task when it’s broken down into smaller sections.

6. Take breaks

No matter how time-crunched you are, it’s important to take periodic breaks throughout the day. Taking small breaks helps you to re-energize and refocus when you feel overwhelmed.  This can help increase productivity and time management. One way to make the most of a break is to use these small breaks to go outside and walk throughout the day.  It gives you the opportunity to free up your mind and get your steps in at the same time.

7. Set deadlines

Having deadlines is important to time management success.  Setting deadlines helps you stay on track and motivates you to get things done.  Plus, it forces you to prioritize and focus on the tasks that need your attention.  In iStratus, you can set deadlines for yourself, or even assign tasks to others with deadlines in mind.

8. Block out distractions

This time management tip is essential in today’s world.  With the internet and social media, it is easy to get sidetracked by constant notifications and messages.  Set time limits for yourself on social media and time-consuming tasks.  Make sure to turn notifications off during the time you are trying to work on a task.  This will help you stay focused and get more done in less time.

9. Schedule time for yourself and your personal needs

We often forget to factor time for ourselves into our time management plan.  We get so busy with our tasks that we don’t leave any time for ourselves.  Schedule time each day when you can do something just for yourself, whether it’s yoga or taking a walk, or reading a book.  It’s important to take time for yourself each day, as it will help you stay motivated and productive in the long run.

10. Review your progress

Finally, it’s important to review your time management plan each day.  Take a few minutes at the end of the day to assess what went right, what went wrong, and what can be improved upon.  This will help you identify time management traps and make time for those tasks that often get forgotten.

By following these time management tips, you will be able to add hours to your day and make the most of the time available.  With improved time management comes increased productivity and a better quality of life.  So, what are you waiting for? Try these time management tips and see for yourself the difference they can make in your life.  With time, energy, and focus, you will be able to live your best life.  

Let time management be the key that unlocks your potential.  You can do it! Download the iStratus app today!

Reduce Your Stress By Adding These 10 Things To Your Calendar

Do you find yourself overscheduled most days?  Do you find there is never enough time in a day?  Do you sometimes wonder where time has gone?  This can be a stressful way to live.  Believe it or not, you may be able to reduce your stress level by adding these 10 things to your calendar from now on.  

10 Things To Add To Your Calendar

1. Schedule time for yourself

Make time for yourself every day. Dedicate at least 30 minutes to an hour to do something that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. This can be anything from reading, taking a walk, listening to music, or meditating. Give yourself this time to relax and rejuvenate so that you can face the rest of your day with a positive attitude. Be sure to add these thirty minutes to the calendar or it won’t happen.

2. Wake-up time

Add your wake-up time to your calendar.  Knowing when you are waking up will allow you to better schedule the rest of the day.  This may mean you need to get up earlier. This may sound counterintuitive, but by waking up even just 30 minutes earlier, you can give yourself some much-needed time to ease into your day. Use this time to do something calming, such as reading or stretching, so that you start your day off on the right foot.

3. Meal times

Make sure to schedule time for meals on your calendar. Skipping meals can lead to unhealthy habits and make it difficult to concentrate throughout the day. If you know you have a busy day ahead, plan to pack a healthy lunch or make time to stop for a quick bite. Scheduling meal times will help to ensure that you are getting the nutrients your body needs to function at its best.

Scheduling time for meals also helps you to be more mindful as you eat.  When we mindlessly eat, we are more likely to overeat or make unhealthy choices. By taking the time to sit down and enjoy meals, we can be more aware of what we are eating and how it makes us feel.

4. Exercise

Add exercise to your calendar just like you would any other important appointment. Exercise is essential for maintaining your health and well-being, so it should be given priority in your schedule. If you find it difficult to make time for a traditional workout, look for other ways to add movement to your day. Taking a brisk walk during your lunch break or riding a bike on the weekends are all great alternatives.

5. Work

Of course, you will need to schedule time for work as well. If you have a set work schedule, be sure to add it to your calendar. If you are self-employed or have a more flexible work schedule, try to set some structure for yourself by blocking out time for work each day. This will help you to stay focused and be more productive.  Also if you tend to have multiple meetings during a day, be sure to schedule a time to get specific projects done.  You may need to schedule a time to check your email or a specific project.  The goal of adding these things to your calendar is to start taking control of your schedule instead of letting your schedule take control of you.

6. Chores

Chores are an essential part of life, but they can also be a major source of stress. To make things easier on yourself, add chore time to your calendar. Dedicate an hour or two each week to laundry, grocery shopping, and other household tasks. Scheduling these activities ahead of time will help to alleviate some of the stress associated with them.

7. Family time

Make sure to schedule some quality time with your loved ones. Family time is important for maintaining healthy relationships. Whether you spend an evening each week cooking dinner together or plan a weekend getaway once a month, be sure to add this time to your calendar. One of our favorite parenting tips is to add time with each of your children to your calendar.

8. Free time

Free time is essential for letting your mind and body relax. While it is important to schedule time for your commitments, it is also essential to schedule time for yourself. Add some free time to your calendar each week so that you can do something fun and enjoyable. This can be anything from going to the movies or taking a yoga class.

9. Bedtime

Getting enough sleep is vital for your health and well-being. To make sure you are getting enough rest, add your bedtime to your calendar. Be sure to allow yourself enough time to wind down before going to sleep so that you can get a good night’s rest.

10. Reflection Time

At the end of each day, take some time to reflect on what you have accomplished. This reflection time can be used to set goals for the next day or week. It is also a good time to evaluate how your day went and identify any areas that need improvement. Scheduling this reflection time into your calendar will help to ensure that you make time for it each day.

By adding these 10 things to your calendar, you can help to reduce stress and improve your overall well-being. Scheduling time will help you to better manage your time and prioritize your commitments. Get started today by downloading the iStratus app!

Time Management Tips For Entrepreneurs

As a business owner, you may feel like there are never enough hours in the day.  Not only do you need to run a business, take care of your own health and fitness and be there for your family, but you also need to be more involved in your community and network as well.  How are you supposed to fit it all in?  Time management is a skill that will help you achieve more with less burnout.

15 Proven Time Management Tips For Entrepreneurs

1) Understand where your time goes

The first step to effective time management is understanding where your time goes. Track how you spend your time for a week or two to get a better sense of where it all goes. Once you know where your time goes, you can start to make changes. You may notice that you spend more time scrolling through social media, watching TV, or even driving to and from appointments than is strictly necessary.

2) Set priorities

Once you know where your time is going, it’s time to start setting priorities. What is the most important thing you need to be working on right now? Make a list of your top priorities and make sure you are spending your time accordingly. Don’t forget that it isn’t all about work either.  Your business is only a small part of your life.  Make sure to prioritize your health and your family as well.

3) Delegate and outsource

One of the best ways to free up your time is to delegate tasks to others or outsource them altogether. If there are tasks that someone else can do just as well as you, delegate them! This will free up your time to focus on more important things.

4) Batch similar tasks together

Batching similar tasks together can be a great time-saver. For example, if you need to make a bunch of phone calls, do them all at once instead of spacing them out throughout the day. This way you can get into a rhythm and avoid wasting time starting and stopping different tasks.

5) Use technology

Technology can be a great time-saver if used correctly. There are a ton of helpful apps and tools out there that can automate or streamline tasks, saving you time in the long run. A small example is the template feature in Gmail.  Most people have emails they send over and over again but very few people create a template that they can use instead of starting from scratch each time. 

6) Set deadlines

One way to make sure you are staying on track is to set deadlines for yourself. Having a deadline will help you focus and get the task done more quickly.

7) Take breaks

Breaks are important! Taking a few minutes to step away from your work can help you refresh and refocus, so you can be more productive when you return. We have found a brisk walk around the block is a great way to gain more energy and prioritize both your physical and mental health.

8) Schedule downtime

In addition to taking regular breaks, it’s also important to schedule some downtime into your day. This can be time spent relaxing, reading, or doing something you enjoy outside of work. It’s important to have a balance in order to avoid burnout.

9) Avoid distractions

Distractions can be a big time-waster. When you are working on a task, try to eliminate as many distractions as possible so you can focus and get the job done more quickly. Consider leaving your phone in the other room when you are working, turning off notifications on your smartwatch, or only having the tab you are working on open on your computer.  Another great way to avoid distraction is to check your email two times a day at set times.

10) Set limits

It’s important to know your limits in order to avoid taking on too much. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed, take a step back and reassess what you can realistically accomplish. Try not to bite off more than you can chew.

11) Say “no”

Learning to say “no” can be difficult, but it’s important in order to avoid taking on more than you can handle. If you are already stretched thin, don’t be afraid to turn down additional requests or commitments.

12) Simplify your life

One way to save time is to simplify your life. If there are areas of your life that are unnecessarily complicated or time-consuming, see if there’s a way to simplify them. This could involve streamlining your daily routine, decluttering your home, or cutting back on commitments.

13) Be organized

Being organized can save you a lot of time in the long run. Having a system in place for things like your calendar, to-do list, and paperwork can help you stay on track and avoid wasting time searching for things or trying to remember what you need to do.

14) Avoid procrastination

Procrastination is the enemy of productivity. If you find yourself putting off tasks or avoiding them altogether, it’s time to make a change. Try to break the habit of procrastination by setting smaller goals, holding yourself accountable, and getting started on tasks right away.

15) Make time for self-care

It’s important to take care of yourself both mentally and physically. When you are feeling well, you will be more productive and better able to manage your time. Make sure to schedule some time for self-care activities like exercise, relaxation, and healthy eating.

The iStratus app is a great way to help with time management. Use our checklist feature to keep ongoing list of what you want to accomplish and stay organized.  Download the app today.

25 Goals To Track In 2023

As the year comes to a close and we start considering the new year, it’s a good time to consider implementing new habits. In this article, we will discuss 25 healthy habits to track in the New Year. Tracking your progress can be a helpful way to stay motivated and on track.

Here Are 25 Healthy Habits To Track In The New Year

1) Exercise

Whether you’re aiming to increase the frequency or intensity of your workouts, tracking your progress can help you stay on track. In addition, tracking will help you see what improvements you have made in your chosen exercise.

2) Sleep

In the past ten years, study after study has shown that sleep is underrated.  Getting enough quality sleep is essential for good health. Tracking how much sleep you’re getting each night can help you ensure you’re getting the rest you need. And if you aren’t, it can help you see the pattern you might be able to improve to get better quality sleep

3) Water intake

Staying hydrated is important for overall health and well-being. Tracking your water intake can help you make sure you’re drinking enough water each day.

4) Fruit and vegetable intake

Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is important for good health. Tracking your intake can help you ensure you’re getting the nutrients you need. You may also find it helpful to track the types of fruits and vegetables you are eating and consider adding a wider variety to your diet.

5) Weight

Whether you are trying to lose, gain or maintain your weight, tracking your weight can help you monitor your health and fitness progress.

6) Body fat percentage

Tracking your body fat percentage may help you monitor your fitness progress and ensure you’re losing fat, not muscle. This one has become a bit controversial in the past several years.  Consult your doctor if you are unsure.

7) Waist circumference

Tracking your waist circumference can help you monitor your risk for obesity-related health conditions.

8) Blood pressure

Tracking your blood pressure can help you monitor your cardiovascular health.

9) Glucose levels

Tracking your blood sugar levels can help you manage diabetes or prediabetes. The number of people who have diabetes without being aware is rising every year. Knowing your risk is a great first step toward avoiding diabetes.

10) Cholesterol levels

Tracking your cholesterol levels can help you monitor your cardiovascular health and risk for heart disease.

11) Steps taken

Tracking the number of steps you take each day can help you increase your physical activity level. It is amazing how a whole day can go by without standing up from your desk.  Use a step counter to make sure you are getting enough movement throughout your day.

12) Calories consumed

Tracking the calories you consume each day can help you monitor your diet and ensure you’re not eating too much. Most people are surprised to find how many calories they consume in a day.

13) Protein intake

Tracking your protein intake can help you ensure you’re getting enough of this important nutrient.

14) Carbohydrate intake

Tracking your carbohydrate intake can help you monitor your diet and blood sugar levels.

15) Fiber intake

Tracking your fiber intake can help you ensure you’re getting enough of this important nutrient. Eating more fiber leads to health benefits.

16) Fat intake

Tracking your fat intake can help you monitor your diet and ensure you’re not eating too much.

17) Alcohol consumption

Tracking your alcohol can help you monitor your drinking and ensure you’re not over-consuming.

18) Caffeine consumption

Tracking your caffeine consumption can help you monitor your intake and ensure you’re not drinking too much. Too much caffeine may cause health problems, such as restlessness and shakiness, insomnia, headaches, and other symptoms.

19) Smoking

Tracking your smoking can help you monitor your habit and track your progress if you’re trying to quit.

20) Stress levels

Tracking your stress levels can help you identify when you’re feeling overwhelmed. By identifying these stressors, you will be able to find ways to manage or cope better.

21) Mood

Tracking your mood can help you identify mood patterns and help you find ways to improve your emotional well-being.

22) Productivity

Tracking your productivity can help you identify when you’re most productive and help you find ways to increase your productivity during those certain hours of the day.

23) Social interaction

Tracking your social interaction can help you identify when you’re feeling lonely and help you find ways to connect with others. After COVID, many people are still trying to find ways to reconnect socially.  Tracking may help.

24) Hobbies

Tracking your hobbies can help you find balance in your life and ensure you’re making time for things you enjoy.

25) Goals

Tracking your goals can help you stay on track and actually achieve them. 

These 25 goals are a lot of things to track but iStratus makes it easy with our customizable checklists.  Download the app today.

Creating A Health Plan For 2023

If you’re like most Americans, you’re probably setting some health and fitness goals for the new year. But a goal without a plan is just a wish. So, let’s work on a plan.

10 Steps To Take Toward A Healthier You In 2023

1) Set SMART goals

Reaching a goal starts with making SMART goals.  A smart goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound.  Vague goals like “I want to be healthy” are much harder to achieve than something like “I will walk for 30 minutes every day.”

2) Make a commitment

Part of making any goal is committing to seeing it through.  This means being willing to put in the work, even when you don’t feel like it.  When it comes to health, this might mean getting up for a workout when you’re tired or choosing healthy foods even when you’re craving something else.

Part of committing is understanding why you are making the commitment.  What are your motivations for wanting to be healthier? When you have a clear understanding of why you want to make a change, it will be easier to stick with it.

3) Make a plan

Once you know what your goals are, make a detailed plan of how you’re going to achieve them. Include specific steps, deadlines, and who will be helping you along the way. For example, if your goal is to run a 5k, find a training program and map out when you will run each week. Look for a specific couch to 5k program you can follow or better yet, join a running group that has the same goal.  Check your local community center or your local running club to find a program near you.

4) Get support

Health and fitness goals are easier to achieve when you have the support of family and friends. So, tell your loved ones what you’re working toward and ask for their help. Help them understand why it’s important to you and let them know exactly how they can help you achieve your goals.

5) Find an accountability partner

Having someone to keep you accountable can be a great motivator. Find a friend or family member who will check in with you regularly and help you stay on track. And do the same thing for them.  Consider doing some of your workouts together.  It’s much harder to skip a workout if you know your accountability partner is waiting for you.

6) Set up your environment for success

Take a look at your home and work environment and make sure they’re set up in a way that supports your health and fitness goals. For example, if you’re trying to eat healthier, make sure your kitchen is stocked with healthy food options. If you want to work out more but know the weather could be a problem, consider buying a treadmill or getting a gym membership.

7) Establish healthy habits

Forming new, healthy habits is key to reaching your health and fitness goals. So, start by identifying one or two health behaviors you want to change and focus on making those changes. Do you need to drink more water, eat less sugar, or take more steps?  Which of these is most important to you?  Remember not to try to do everything at once.

8) Be patient and persevere

Remember that lasting health and fitness changes take time. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see results immediately. Just keep working hard and stay focused on your goals. There will inevitably be setbacks along the way. But don’t let them derail your entire plan. Get back on track as soon as possible and keep moving toward your goals. Remembering why you are working so hard will help you shake off the setbacks and move forward.  You may even find you can double down on your efforts because you see how easy it is to begin again.

9) Reward yourself

Celebrate your successes, no matter how small. This will help you stay motivated and focused on your goals. Give yourself small rewards for meeting the smaller goals but also create a big reward for achieving your ultimate goal.  If your goal is to run the NYC marathon next year, reward yourself with a few extra days in the city or tickets to a show.  Make it something you might not otherwise do so it acts as the carrot to your goal.

10) Get professional help

If you’re having trouble reaching your health and fitness goals on your own, don’t hesitate to get professional help. A certified health coach or personal trainer can give you the guidance and support you need to reach your goals.

The iStratus app is a great place to keep track of your goals and your achievements.  Download the app today.

Apps To Boost Your Mental Health

The holiday season can be a stressful time for many people. From family gatherings to financial pressures, there are plenty of things that can cause anxiety and stress.

But there is one thing that can help you avoid some of the holiday stressors: technology.

From apps that help you stay organized to ones that provide on-demand mental health support, there are plenty of ways that technology can help you during the holidays.

Apps That Help Your Mental Health

Reduce The Chaos

Apps like iStratus can help you get a grip on the chaos.  Use it to keep track of your schedule and to-do lists. This can help you stay organized and avoid feeling overwhelmed by all that you have to do.

Still Your Mind

Use a meditation app like Headspace or Calm to help you relax and de-stress. Taking just 10 minutes out of your day to meditate can make a big difference in how you feel.

Track Your Mood

Using a tracking app like Moodscope or P Tracker to track your moods throughout the holiday season can help you identify stressors and figure out ways to avoid them. Don’t forget to make a note about what was happening at the time of your mood.  Were you in a great mood because you had just finished a run or were you feeling insecure because you were spending time with a certain person?  Tracking your mood can help you uncover your more dangerous triggers.

Just Breathe

Use an app like Breathe2Relax to help you control your breathing and anxiety levels. This can be a great tool when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Don’t stress that you can’t still your mind.  You don’t have to.  All you have to do is breathe.

Seek Professional Help

One of the best things to come from technology in the past couple of years is apps like TalkSpace or BetterHelp where you can get on-demand mental health support. If you’re really struggling, these apps can put you in touch with a therapist who can help.

How Are You Sleeping?

Getting enough sleep is so important for your mental health. The Sleep Cycle or Pillow apps can help you to track your sleep and get better quality rest. This is important all year long but especially when trying to maintain your mental health during a stressful time.

Sweat It Out

Exercise is a great way to reduce stress and improve your mood and not a bad excuse for getting away from the people and situations that are causing your stress. MyFitnessPal or Fitbit will help you to track your physical activity and make sure you’re getting enough exercise.

Diet Plays A Role In Mental Health

Eating healthy can help improve your mood and reduce stress levels. Use an app like Fooducate or HealthyOut to make healthier food choices. You may find that small changes go a long way toward helping you feel calmer.

Nothing Beats A Good Book

Sometimes all you need is some quiet time on your own. Use an app like Goodreads or Pocket to find books that can help you relax and escape from the stress of the season.

Sing Along

Use Pandora or Spotify to help you create holiday-themed playlists full of festive music. Listening to uplifting music can help improve your mood and reduce stress.

Discover Your Creative Side

Sometimes all you need is a few minutes to stop focusing on the stress of the day. Use an app like Color Therapy or Pigment to color and de-stress. This can be a great way to take a break from all the holiday preparations and relax for a few minutes.

Remember Why You Work So Hard

Use an app like 1 Second Everyday or Timehop to create video montages of past holidays. This can help you remember all the good times you’ve had and appreciate the present moment.

Create New Habits

Fabulous or Streaks are apps that help to develop positive habits that can help reduce stress. This can be anything from taking a few minutes each day to meditate or journaling about your stressors.

Harness The Power Of Gratitude

We love the Gratitude Journal or Happify apps.  These apps help you to focus on the positive things in your life. This can help shift your mindset and reduce stress levels.

Back To Breathing

We know we mentioned taking a breath earlier but honestly, it cannot be overstated.  We also love Breathing Space or Stop, Breathe & Think to find quick and easy stress-relief exercises. These can be great to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.

Creating A Calming Playlist

Two more meditation apps that are loved are Calm or Relax Melodies to create custom relaxation sounds and sleep preludes. This can help you fall asleep easier and get better quality rest.

Be Understood

Not being understood can add a whole new level of stress.  Using apps like Google Translate or iTranslate to help you communicate with family and friends who speak different languages can help reduce stress and facilitate communication.

Connect With People You Love

Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime are great apps to help you stay connected with loved ones who live far away. This can help you feel less alone during the holiday season.

Coordinate Your Plans

Use an app like Cozi or Life360 to coordinate holiday plans with your family and friends. This can help you avoid stress and stay organized.

We do believe that apps are a great way to help boost your mental health but keep in mind that sometimes apps don’t work to solve what is happening in your life. Sometimes you need more help.  That’s okay.  If you are experiencing unusual levels of stress and anxiety, ask for help.  A therapist, warmline, or suicide prevention hotline can help.

Strategic Goal Setting

As the end of the year approaches, you may be looking forward to the new year. A new year offers you the opportunity to look back at how you did this year and look forward to what lies ahead. This is why at iStratus, we start the goal-setting process in November.  Before our days are filled with holiday parties, shopping, and family obligations, we like to take the time to focus on reflecting on previous goals and setting goals for the new year.

Before Setting Your New Goals

Before setting your goals for the new year, look back at your goals from last year.

  • Which goals did you meet? 

Celebrate those wins.  This is a part of goal setting that people too often overlook.  Rewarding yourself for achieving a goal sets you up for success in your next set of goals.

  • Which goals did you not meet?

Inevitably, we will not meet some of our goals.  Analyzing why is a helpful way to move forward.  Was the goal realistic?  Were you close to achieving the goal?  Did you decide it just wasn’t important? Understanding what happened will help you make better, more strategic decisions when choosing your goals for next year.

For the rest of this article, we will share 10 of our favorite tips for setting goals for all areas of your life.

10 Tips For Goal Setting

1) Set realistic goals

When it comes to setting goals, it’s important to be realistic. It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new year and set unrealistic goals that are impossible to achieve. This can lead to frustration and disappointment, so it’s important to set goals that you know you can reasonably achieve.

2) Set specific goals

It’s not enough to just set a goal to “lose weight” or “save money.” These goals are too general and it’s difficult to measure whether or not you’re achieving them. Instead, try to set specific goals such as, “I will lose 10 pounds by March” or “I will save $500 by the end of the year.”

3) Set achievable goals

In addition to being realistic and specific, your goals should also be achievable. This means that they should challenge you but not be so difficult that they’re impossible to reach. For example, if you’re a smoker, setting a goal to quit smoking by the end of the year is an achievable goal. However, setting a goal to never smoke again is probably not realistic or achievable.

4) Set timely goals

Your goals should also have a timeline attached to them. This will help you stay on track and motivated to achieve your goal. For example, instead of setting a goal to “lose weight,” set a goal to “lose 10 pounds by March.”

5) Set goals in writing

One of the best ways to increase your chances of achieving your goals is to write them down. This makes them more concrete and real. It also gives you a reference point to look back on when you’re feeling discouraged.  We write our goals in the iStratus app so it is always convenient to find them.

6) Set goals in different areas of your life

When you’re goal-setting, it’s important to consider all areas of your life, not just one. This includes setting goals for your personal life, professional life, and physical health. By goal setting in different areas, you can create a well-rounded life and achieve a sense of balance.

7) Set goals with someone else

If you’re having trouble goal-setting on your own, try doing it with someone else. This could be a friend, family member, or even a professional goal coach. Having someone to help you stay accountable and motivated can make a big difference in your success.

8) Set goals that are meaningful to you

It’s essential to set goals that are meaningful to you and that align with your values and beliefs. This will make it more likely that you’ll be motivated to achieve them. For example, if one of your values is health, then setting a goal to lose weight or quit smoking would be more meaningful than setting a plan to save money.

9) Set goals that are challenging but reachable

Your goal should challenge you but not be so difficult that it’s impossible to reach. This sweet spot will help you stay motivated and focused on achieving your goal. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, setting a goal to lose 10 pounds by March is challenging but reachable. However, setting a goal to lose 100 pounds by March is probably not realistic or achievable.

10) Take action steps towards your goal

Once you’ve set your goal, it’s important to take action steps towards achieving it. This could include making a plan, setting a timeline, and finding resources to help you. Taking action steps will help you move closer to your goal and increase your chances of success.

Download the iStratus app today to start setting your own goals and keep track of them.

Preparing For The Holiday Season

The holidays can be hectic. Between cooking, shopping, decorating, and preparing for guests, the season can be quite overwhelming. But, there are some things you can do now to prepare and take some of the pressure off when the holidays finally come around. In this article, we will discuss steps you can take now to make the holidays a more joyful experience. 

10 Steps To A Less Stressful Holiday Season

1) Be like Santa and start with a list

Make a list of what needs to be done. This will help you stay organized and on track as you prepare for the holidays. You may actually want a series of lists such as:

•  a shopping list for friends and family,

  a list of who will receive a holiday card,

•  a list of recipes for any dinners or parties you will be hosting,

•  a list of your children’s holiday performances and class parties,

•  and a list of ways you can still practice self-care at this hectic time of year.

Use the iStratus folder file cabinet feature to keep all of these lists in one place.

2) Start shopping early

Shopping early will help you avoid the last-minute rush, the traffic that always comes with the holiday season, and the stress that often comes with holiday shopping. Better yet, it will ensure you are able to get the items on your list before they are all sold out.  Many stores are already reporting that they are going to be lower on items this holiday season.

3) Schedule a time to decorate your home

By adding your holiday decorating to your calendar, you may find it easier to enlist the help of your family.  Remember to add your list of decorations to your calendar as well.  This will ensure that you don’t leave your favorite ornaments in storage only to find them as you are packing up and putting decorations away again. 

Another tip that will save you trouble in the future is to toss any of the lights that are not working this year so you don’t have the aggravation of testing them all over again next year.

4) Plan your holiday menus 

Planning your holiday menus will allow you to shop for ingredients ahead of time and make any necessary preparations in advance. In addition, knowing what you want to serve will make it easier to assign some of the meals to friends and family who ask to bring something. Keep in mind that you may need to plan for parties as well as dinners and brunches.

5) Get ready for guests

Prepare your guest room or space in advance. Strip the sheets and wash them a few weeks before your guests arrive.  Have your children dust the room.  Add some decorative touches and some creature comforts such as water glasses for the bedside table. Doing these things now will make things more comfortable for your guests and make your life easier as well.

6) Wrap a little at a time

Start wrapping gifts early. One of the easiest ways to avoid the last-minute rush of the holiday season is to wrap each gift as you get it.  Doing this will save you time and stress later on and may even give you a sense of accomplishment as you see the wrapped gifts pile up.

7) Schedule your travel

Planning any holiday travel in advance will help you avoid any last-minute complications or stresses. Consider the smaller day trips you are likely to take as well.  Will you spend a day driving to a tree farm to cut down your tree?  Will your Aunt Louise host a party in a neighboring state?  These trips can add stress to a busy season if you don’t account for them in your schedule.

8) Practice self-care

We alluded to this earlier, but it is important to take some time for yourself. With all the preparations, it’s important to find time to relax and enjoy the holidays as well. Make sure you add your self-care to your schedule so you don’t neglect yourself during this busy season.

9) Schedule an ending

As important as it was to schedule your seasonal decorating, it is equally important to schedule a time to pack the decorations back up and get your home in order for the new year.  Again, this will give you the opportunity to enlist the help of your family instead of taking the task on yourself.

10) And finally, enjoy the holidays!

One of the benefits of being organized and planning ahead is that you avoid the stress of the season and can actually enjoy the holidays.  It’s important to be mindful of what will make a joyful holiday for you.  Is it certain music?  A specific food? Avoiding a particular family member or dynamic.  Remember the holidays only come around once a year, so make sure to savor every moment.

Take time to enjoy and love the holidays this season by planning ahead. Download the iStratus app today!