Penelopes often don’t like change. We like to stick to doing things we’re good at and stay with predictable routines. Makes us effective, and in control. And, after a time, royally bored.

Have you become too comfortable with your life? Are your routines old, your hobbies stale, your relationships zingless? Time to get out of our rut. We’re going to learn something new.


Today’s assignment:

Watch: Julie & Julia with Meryl Streep and Amy Adams or Read: Julie & Julia by Julie Powell


Or Think: What project can you take on that’s like the one Julie Powell did? What can you do that would get you out of your comfort zone and/or enable you to learn new things?

Some ideas:

  • Get the list of the 100 best movies of all time and work through them. Maybe do this as a part of a film club, instead of a book club. Oh, that’d be fun! Once a month, you get together with some good friends, and eat, drink wine and watch an iconic movie. You could even do food themed to the movie. Am I going too far?
  • Read the most popular novels of all time. You can also choose from this list of reader favorites.
  • Read every book by a particular author that has always fascinated or eluded you. (Charles Dickens? Agatha Christie? Alice Hoffman? Gabriel Garcia Marquez? Alexandre Dumas?)
  • Eat at the best 25 restaurants in your area.
  • Learn to cook like Thomas Keller from The French Laundry.
  • Listen to every Mozart concerto or Beethoven symphony. For extra credit, read a biography of that composer and put some context to the music.
  • Take a class at your nearest college or junior college about something that both interests and stretches you. Shakespeare? Art History? Come on, you know you love homework.
  • Take a dance class. You loved ballet or jazz dance when you were little, right? Why not now? Have you seen the cute ballet/dance clothes there are out there now? It’s not just tutus, girls.
  • Learn a new hobby. Knitting would be my suggestion, but there may be other hobbies.
  • Take an online class to increase your skills at work or you ability to make small talk at parties.
  • Visit the top 10 wineries nearest you, or, if you’re not near a wine region, go to your nearest wine shop or BevMo and have them help you work through one of the Top 100 Wines of the Year lists. Don’t love wine? Do the same thing with beer. Or tea. Or honey. The internet makes the possibilities nearly endless.

Do: Choose a subject that appeals to you on an intrinsic level and get deeply into it. No more skimming here and there. Pick something and expand yourself. Become an expert. You’ll be changed and broadened (hopefully, just mentally) and you’ll surely be less bored.

For my part, I’ve decided to work my way through all the books written by the Bronte sisters. Some I’ve read and will be re-reading, some will be new. I love me some Victorian angst.

Do you need to get your groove back? Want to feel more yourself? Become an expert ona new topic. Here's how. From Penelope Loves Lists

What do you think? Any of this sound interesting to you? Are you up for the challenge? Please weigh in with other ideas that can be added to the list.

A Penelope Classic post, brought to you as we gear up for our new website, launching in September!

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I hate doing simple things wrong. Even occasionally. And, given that 90% of my work life is spent in my email application, that’s a place where I really despise making dumb mistakes. Here’s how I minimize two of the most common (and embarrassing) errors I make in email.


“Doh!” Moment Tip #1: Stop forgetting to attach your attachments:

When I’m writing the body of the email, as soon as I type the word “attach” or mention the document at all, I stop typing and attach it right then. Mid-sentence.

Then, after attaching the document, I go back and finish writing the email. This has cut down my attachment forgetfulness by more than 50%. It’s simple yet effective.

(Note that many email applications now have a similar feature built in. This is true of my favorite: Postbox.)

“Doh!” Moment Tip #2: Stop hitting the dreaded “reply all” button:

I moved my “reply all” button to an inconvenient place on my toolbar by customizing my menu in my email application. I’ve kept the “reply” button easily accessible on the left side, but I place my “reply all” all the way to the right. Over in No Man’s Land. I really have to want to “reply all” now.

Not only does this keep me from looking like an idiot, it also keeps me from littering the inboxes of people who don’t really need to read my reply.

 2 Tips Email Pin

A Penelope Classic post brought to you as we get ready to unveil our brand new website in September!

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Today, a not-so-easy challenge, but a short one:

Look at your overall To Do List and scan down to the bottom. I’ll just bet that those items are the ones you really don’t want to do. Could be for a good reason, could be you’re blocked for some small, stupid reason.

But those items are the ones that niggle at your sub-conscience. They’re the ones that weigh you down and wake you up in the middle of the night feeling vaguely uneasy.ToDoListLeaPerrinsCC

Today, choose one and either do it completely OR take one single step toward getting it done. If you take that single step, put on your calendar that one week from today you’ll take another single step.

When you’re done, you’re gonna feel loads better. Promise.

Here’s mine: I have to rent a small, ancillary space for my day job. This is annoying and, more importantly, feels like something that’s taking time from things that are more important. Nevertheless, it must be done for a couple different reasons that aren’t going away. It’s been bugging me for days. Today, I called the rental agent and set up a meeting. It’s on my calendar and I feel better.

If you’re up to sharing in the Comments, I’d love to hear what that one thing was and how you kicked its ass.

Challenge: Do one thing you don't feel like doing. Find this and much more to feed your Type A personality at Penelope Loves Lists

A Penelope Classic post, re-boosted because we always need this challenge.

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How To Get More Done in Your Day :: or, how to eat Monday for breakfast

August 21, 2015

Alright, Penelopes. We are going to make MINCEMEAT of our day today. We are going to eat frigging Monday for breakfast. As we lay our pretty little heads on our pillows tonight, we are going to sigh happily. Why? Because we have more on our “Done” list than on our “To Do” list. Please note […]

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A Trick to Make Your Target Shopping Easier

August 20, 2015

I am always looking for ways to make the chores I have to do regularly easier, faster, or more enjoyable. I’m also always looking for ways to deal with any “pain points” that occur with these regularly-recurring chores. My weekly trip to Target had just such a pain point. I have to go to Target […]

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How to Create a Day Full of Random Acts of Kindness with your Kids

August 18, 2015

by Penelope Loves Lists Contributor Lisa Shields The most magical thing happened to my family last weekend … we had an entire day with NOTHING on the calendar. In our over-scheduled world, the days are now few and far between when there isn’t an activity planned or a major “to-do” to accomplish. I know its […]

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8 Steps to “Power” Grocery Shopping

August 14, 2015

It has to be done: the weekly grocery shopping trip. For me, it’s the difference between chaos and order for the entire week. Here are the steps to follow to get this chore right. During the week: Give yourself a place to jot down any menu ideas you have while you’re working during the week. […]

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