Book Review – Atomic Habits by James Clear

If you enjoy self-improvement and are looking to build some good habits into your life, then definitely consider picking up James Clear’s famous publication Atomic Habits: An Easy and Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.

When this book first came out, I immediately put it into my Amazon shopping cart. A year later I finally purchased it and a year after that I finally got around to reading it.
(That’s par for the course for me. LOL)

Of course, as soon as I read it I kicked myself for not reading it sooner.

Oh well… “let it go, Amy,” is what I have to tell myself.

In this post, I’ll share with you one big reason I love this book, seven of the most impactful points I took away, and a few habits I’ve built both in my piano studio and personal life.

 

One Big Reason I Love This Book

One big thing I love about this book actually has a lot to do with its layout. 

Every chapter has a summary at the end that highlighted 6 major points to take away. This was an incredibly helpful visual recap. I tried to force myself to highlight just one or two of those points to underline in order to focus my takeaways even more.

At the end of the book, he even provides bonus chapters available for how you can apply these principles to business and to parenting.

Application, application, application.

 

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Help Your Students “Enable Original Sound” on Zoom With This Email Template

You know how sometimes in life you’re told about something that you know you should do but at the moment, you just can’t bring yourself to mentally mess with it?

That’s how I was when we started using Zoom for our online lessons.

Teachers in Facebook groups were mentioning the importance of the “Enable Original Sound” setting to help with sound quality but I was just trying to wrap my head around getting myself set up online to pay it any mind.

Then two or three weeks of lessons went by and I was DONE with the garble. It was time to upgrade our sound.

Do I kick myself a little for not dealing with this sooner? Yep. But, oh, well, I’m over it now.

Through all of this, I have to say one thing all my studio families have been mentioning in our evaluation meetings this week, was the quality of my communication throughout this whole process. They felt the instructions were incredibly helpful and easy to follow.

That’s part of our job! Quality communication.

To spell things out as clear and easy as possible, I gave my step-by-step instructions using screenshots. It doesn’t get easier than that!

Teachers: You have my permission to copy and paste this entire email and use these images to send to your studio families (if you don’t mind having my mug shot! LOL).

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Top Tools and Resources

Four Tools I Can’t Live Without

Being known as an organized person means I frequently get asked what some of my favorite tools and resources are I use on a day-to-day basis.

Of course, if you’ve been around Piano Pantry long enough, you know my #1 is by far Evernote.

When we talk about “tools” though, there is a wide gamut we use daily whether it’s for organizing music, social media, our schedule, resources, etc.

Today I want to highlight four digital tools that help me stay organized that I in 2020 I would now find it very hard to live without.


P.S. All of these along with a whole lot more of my favs are listed on a permanent page here on Piano Pantry.

Under the Menu select Resources > Recommended Resources


 

Evernote. The easiest way to describe Evernote is that it’s a digital filing cabinet where you can save multiple types of content formats in one location: documents, URL links, clips from YouTube, selections from internet pages, PDF files, and more. Highly useful for both our teaching and personal lives!

Check out all my Evernote tutorials on Piano Pantry.

 

Feedly. Using an RSS Reader is, in my opinion, the only way to properly manage content in today’s world. An RSS Reader is like a personalized digital newspaper. You tell it the website you want to follow and it will stream all the newsfeeds into one location so you can keep up on new content in one place.

Read more about how I use Feedly in this post: Managing Internet Content the Easy Way

 

Grammarly. My English teacher and writing sidekick. With Grammarly Premium, you not only get the basic critical grammar and spell-check errors, but you also get instant feedback on over 400 advanced grammar rules. Microsoft Word spell-check can’t even touch the capability of this program.

Read more on why I love Grammarly in this post: Grammarly – Spell Check on Steroids

 

LastPass. In this day and age, I couldn’t manage all my accounts and passwords properly without Last Pass. Your life will be made easier (and more secure).

Since I haven’t written a full post about LastPass, I’ll just direct you to an excellent one on Leila Viss’s site: Keeping Safe with Password Safety and Online Security.

 


P.S. All of these along with a whole lot more of my favs are listed on a permanent page here on Piano Pantry.

Under the Menu select Resources > Recommended Resources


What are tools would you have a hard time living without?


Did you find this post helpful? Consider subscribing to the Piano Pantry email list where you’ll get my once-a-month “Secret Letter” which includes what’s been going on in my studio that month, books I’m reading, favorite Instagram posts, and other fun things like that. 

Sound good?! Subscribe here.


 

Email Madness

Three Tips for Managing Your Inbox

You know who you are.

As soon as you read the title of this post you thought: “Busted!”

As independent teachers, not only do we get daily correspondence both personally and for our studio’s, but you likely get weekly emails from multiple professional organizations and website subscriptions.

Does your email Inbox have a big fat red number kind of like this (give or take a few thousand)? 🙂

Some of you may be nodding your head in agreement, raising your hand in confession, and some of you may be having anxiety seeing such a large number because you are already on a path of email management called “Inbox zero.” If you’re the latter, then kudos to you!

There are three major tips that I want to share with you today on how to manage your email and the first begins with this modern productivity term “Inbox zero.”

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5 Reasons Why Google Photos Might Be the Perfect Solution for Your Music Studio

Are you looking for a better way to organize and store photos and videos?

Would you love an easy way to share those special clips directly with students and their families – especially those that aren’t a part of social media (yes, they exist).

Google Photos might be YOUR perfect solution!

My husband and I are PC users. He’s in the business world so that’s just how it goes in our house. For years I tried but never loved iCloud Photos. The interface just didn’t feel good to me and I was frustrated and unhappy.

For years I was hoping for a way to store photos and videos that would easily allow me to tag photos of multiple students on one photo.

Don’t laugh, but in the old old days, I even tried renaming every photo on my desktop file manager to include the name of each student that was in the photo.

This was a TERRIBLE idea but I was desperate.

I felt like I had the rest of my digital life organized and in order but photos were getting the best of me.

Then I met fellow Louisville-based piano teacher Daniel Light at a session I was giving to the teachers of Louisville MTA and he changed my world forever by introducing me to Google Photos!

Today, I want to share with you five reasons why Google Photos may answer your needs (as they did mine) for a better media storage solution.

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Evernote for Gmail: A Review

In April 2019, Evernote came out with a new add-on, “Evernote for Gmail.”

If you’re not sure what an add-on (extension/plug-in) is, it’s simply an extra little program that extends the functionality of whatever program you’re using whether it’s your internet browser, WordPress site, or email client.

You are likely most familiar with add-ons in your internet browser. As you can see in this small screen-shot, in the Google Chrome browser, add-ons are viewable to the right of the URL bar.

Today I wanted to share with you a few thoughts on whether or not Evernote for Gmail is a useful tool.

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Managing Internet Content the Easy Way

Let's stop for a minute and think about how many people we "follow" online. To keep it even more specific and focused, only think about those you follow who create content for piano teachers.

Can you count them all on one hand or do you lose track after listing more than a dozen?

I stopped counting after 50. Yes, 50.  I'm pretty sure my number is actually closer to 90.

Let's crank that jaw back shut - it's not as scary as it seems!

Next to email, managing the influx of content from all our favorite blogs and websites seems to be the one area that teachers struggle with the most - and for good reason. The last five years especially have seen an explosion of new content creators - I'm one of them!

Believe it or not, it is possible to follow a large number of sites online in a manageable way without it feeling overwhelming. More importantly, you can do it without clogging your email Inbox or Facebook Newsfeed with articles. Curious?

 

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2017-2018 Speaking Schedule Reflections

This past year I was blessed to get the chance to present for several local associations and state and national conferences. Up until about three years ago, I found the idea of presenting terrifying, intimidating, and completely out of my reach.

Luckily, my inner drive, curiosity, and motivation didn’t let those feelings of fear and inadequacy stop me from giving it a shot. In return, I have realized speaking to other teachers is more rewarding than intimidating, more energizing than terrifying, and more within reach to those who persevere (and continually polish those proposals LOL).

Psst…If you’re interested in what I’ve learned along my presenting journey then check out the post Tips for Presenting: Tools, Resources, and a Pep Talk.

Let’s take a quick peek at those of you I was able to be with this past year!

 

First Applications of Music Learning Theory

My friend, Joy Morin, and I have been excited to get our first duo session out there. It’s exciting not only because it’s a session we put together and can present together, but because we’re able to share what we’ve been learning about applying Music Learning Theory in piano lessons.

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One-Click Calendar

Your Annual Studio Calendar Simplified [Video]

Simplicity. We can all use a little more of it, wouldn’t you agree?!

Well, today I have a tutorial video that will make the creation of your studio calendar from year to year as simple as one keystroke and…

Voila! Your new calendar will be created.

I’m not exaggerating. No, seriously. It’s true.

 

The Calendar

Before I turn your studio management world upside down, let me show you the calendar we’re about to create.

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App-Land Madness

How I Organize My Devices

App-land madness.

Yeah, you know what I’m talking about!

As teacher especially we deal with twice the amount of apps because we have not only our personal apps, but endless apps on rhythm, sight reading, note-naming, and on and on and on. It’s likely most of us don’t even use half the apps on our screen on a regular basis.

While our smartphones and tablets are incredible devices that have given us the ability to access all kinds of useful (and some not so useful) tools that can enhance the way we work, teach, and go about our daily lives, they’ve also become another item that we have to figure out how to manage.

You guessed it. Today we’re talking about device organization.

If you’re anything like me, since the day you’ve owned a smartphone and/or tablet, you’ve played around with and rearranged the layout of your devices again and again.

Over the past year, I’ve finally settled on a layout I like and have stuck with. As a bonus, the layout is almost exactly the same on both my iPhone and iPad.

Today I have a video for you on how I organize my devices.

Care to have a peek?

If you prefer to watch it on YouTube, just click on the word “YouTube” on the bottom right-hand corner of the video. In order to see the video as clearly as possible, I would recommend expanding the video to full screen by clicking on the broken box-shape clear to the right of the screen at the bottom.

Do you have any tips that work for you when it comes to device organization? Share below!