When we rounded up our staff's Weekly Upgrades last Saturday, our editors were introducing more plant life into our environments, cracking the code to Instagram-worthy Halloween costumes, quitting coffee, and clearing out browser clutter.
This week, we're taking ballet classes for a spin, upgrading our software, creating ingenious texting shortcuts, and finding creative ways to keep our kids occupied.
What upgrades did you make this week? Let us know in the comments.
Skip barre class in favour of the real thing
I upgraded my barre class to a ballet class. There is an actual ballet studio in my city (the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre) that offers drop-in classes open to the public. Since I've tried barre classes at two different studios recently, and found them boring and repetitive, I thought I'd try the real thing instead. Ballet class is so much fun. The first half of class was all about practising skills at the barre, which isn't the same kind of burning/exhausting workout as a barre class, but it definitely challenges your body while giving your brain something to do. Then we did some fancier moves on the floor (leaping, spinning). Live piano music too, by the way. The class is a little tricky to follow if you don't know the terminology, so for best results, read up beforehand. My instructor was super friendly to beginners, though, so I never felt too lost.
- Beth Skwarecki, Health Editor
Automate your daily check-ins
Every day, when I leave work, I send a text message to my partner, who usually works from home. I'll ask if she needs anything from the outside world while I'm on the way home, or what the dinner situation is, just in case I need to hit the grocery store for some essential ingredients. The days I forget to text her usually coincide with days where the fridge is empty, or when she'd like me to pick up a cider beer on the way home. So I employed IFTTT to help me never forget that all-important text message. Using my Android device, I created an IFTTT applet to text her every weekday at 6PM, asking if I need to grab anything on the way home.
- Patrick Austin, Staff Writer
Invest in a tricked out mouse
My five-year-old Logitech G700 finally died, so I switched to the G502. While I'm learning to love wireless headphones, I don't really need a wireless mouse, but I do need a hell of a lot of buttons. Not for gaming, but for internet browsing.
- Nick Douglas, Staff Writer
Make time for 'morning pages'
Inspired by Jaime Green's recent Lifehacker post on morning pages, this week, I decided to give the process a try. The idea is to write three pages of anything, first thing in the morning, to kickstart creative ideas and clear your head. Admittedly, I'm using it more for head-clearing and as a de-facto journal than as a supplement to some greater creative project, but so far, I love it. I don't have time to do it every day (and some days I've decided that writing a few short grafs is better than skipping things altogether just because I don't have time for the full three pages). But I've found it's a really nice way to organise your thoughts and centre yourself, even if it starts out as stream-of-consciousness nonsense.
- Virginia K. Smith, Managing Editor
Use the internet to improvise a colouring book
It's a simple thing, but when my four-year-old comes into my home office while I'm working, I'll ask her what character she likes, and then I'll do a Google image search for "_ colouring page" and print it out. The first time I printed out Minnie Mouse, her mind was blown. She ran downstairs to her dad, yelling, "Mummy can make any character!" Now she thinks the printer is some magical voodoo wonder device. The cool thing about it is that colouring keeps her occupied (and quiet) for a good 20 minutes or so.
- Michelle Woo, Parenting Editor
Get your books off the floor, finally
My upgrade this week is that I finally got a bookshelf. My books were stacked in a very bohemian fashion on the floor, and it was starting to mess up their spines. They do look much better on a shelf, and now I have more floor space.
Claire Lower, Food & Beverage Editor