Travellers Notebook Inserts…

I made my own Travellers Notebook inserts

If you’re anything like me, you may find yourself at the mercy of your “hobby of the month”. I have a horrible tendency to latch onto a hobby, find it so incredibly fascinating that I buy all of the necessary equipment and tools and obsess over it for a month, before finding something new and “better”.

In the month of August, this has been the concept of Traveller’s Notebooks, and how I can use them to further my bullet journal productivity.

Now, you’d think that buying the inserts that go inside the notebook would be enough, and perhaps it would be if I weren’t such an impatient person. Given that Amazon deliveries can take weeks to arrive, that definitely doesn’t fulfil my “I need it now” mentality, and so I embarked on a journey to make my own inserts.

Now, before I go any further, I want to clarify: I used templates that I found online, some were free and some cost about $12 AUD, but in saying that, once I downloaded them they can be used many times over without having to be paid for again.

Once I found the templates I wanted and downloaded them, I encountered my first issue: depending on the template you get and the printing instructions included (or in some cases, not included) there are a few things that can go wrong, the biggest one I found was that using a Mac meant I had to spend 30 minutes trying to figure out how to find the print setting for “flip on short side”. After I found that, it was very easy to print and assemble, at least with this template, which includes enough weekly and daily layouts in one file to last a month, and then plain dot grid paper, as well as some basic cover designs which can be printed on card stock if you prefer the covers to be stiffer and more durable, and very clear and concise instructions to do with printing, formatting, and even the binding process.

Once it was printed and folded, I encountered my next problem: I intended to staple it together but my stapler was too short and I couldn’t line it up correctly, so for this time I have left it unbound, but this weekend I plan to go to a store and buy a book-binding awl and use a denim needle and some waxed thread to bind the inserts.

All in all, I have to say, I’m incredibly happy with my very first 2 inserts, they are absolutely not neat, one has jagged edges where I tried to cut through about 30 sheets of paper with old scissors, and the other has 2 binding edges because I printed it incorrectly, so it’s a notebook within a notebook, but they serve their purpose and with a little more practice and the right tools I will be well on my way to making my own TN inserts quickly and easily.

I will keep you posted as I move into using them gradually for my daily spreads in my bullet journal and how they work for me.

 

Advertisements

A social media detox

How do you combat a social media dependency?

In realising that I am a champion procrastinator and that I also may have ADD I noticed that one of my main procrastination tools is social media in all its forms. In order to combat this bad habit of procrastinating and fidgeting, I have decided to delete all social media apps off my phone. So today I am saying goodbye to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. (Slight disclaimer: I am not deactivating my accounts, as I use them to promote the blog and to stay in touch with family who live overseas). My goal isn’t to stop using social media altogether, it is to be more present in my day to day life, and not be constantly looking down at my phone, scrolling through Facebook or twitter to get the latest bit of gossip or news.

While I will be keeping all of my accounts and checking them on my laptop, I will be limiting that to 60 minutes a day total, not including the time I use for blog promotion, but that will simply be sharing the link and nothing else, no scrolling, no liking, no memes.

This is hard, this morning I deleted Facebook off my phone at 11am, it is now 5pm and I cannot tell you how many times I unlocked my phone to scroll through Facebook, only to find it not there. This is what prompted me to delete twitter and Instagram too, because as soon as Facebook was gone, I substituted twitter and Instagram.

I used to think that social media addiction was a myth, or at the very least highly exaggerated, but it appears to be very much true in my case. I use it as not only a tool for communication but as a way to procrastinate and avoid what I should be doing, and giving myself the illusion of productivity. If I’m looking at my social media accounts for my blog, that’s work right? Not if I’m just mindlessly scrolling and looking at what other people have posted!

I discovered a term I’d never heard before today and that is “hate following”. Hate following is when you follow someone on a social media site just to see what they’re doing and then being annoyed by them either because you hated them to begin with or because they irritate you in some way, but you don’t stop following them because you get a weird kick out of being annoyed. This is one of the many reasons that I am beginning to believe social media is toxic. I try to be a good person, and to me, being a good person means not hating anyone, but if you dislike someone you are simply polite to them when you need to speak to them. Following them for the sake of being annoyed is a petty behaviour and is part of the reason I am finding social media more and more draining.

Cutting out these toxic behaviours is part of a wider effort to improve my life in a variety of areas and it is going to be a slow process, I am under no illusion that this will be quick and painless. It is going to be hard, and frankly it might suck.

I hope that by the end of this month, I will have kicked my dependency for social media entirely, and will simply use it in the way it was intended to be used, to stay in touch with friends and to promote my work.

Let me know if you’ve ever done a social media detox before and how it worked for you. 

 

Fighting Procrastination: The Beginning

Now you know you’re a procrastinator how do you fix it?

As I said in my last post, I am a world class procrastinator. Along with acknowledging that I have a problem, I promised myself that I would do something to combat it and so here we go.

I have done some random google searches and sporadic attempts to seek out a “cure” for my procrastination in the past four days. The obvious conclusion I came to is that there is no cure for all procrastination. it very much depends on why you procrastinate, how you procrastinate, when you procrastinate and a variety of other factors.

For me, I have realised that I may have undiagnosed ADD, and that in conjunction with a fear of failure and an inability to make achievable goals leads to a giant mess of procrastination and a cycle of failure so big it feels inescapable.

It’s very easy for me to realise I have a problem or a behaviour that needs to be changed and go at it like a bull at a gate, doing 10 different things to “cure” the problem, and realising very quickly that 10 different things all at once isn’t conducive to solving the problem and giving up, because if 10 different things can’t solve a simple problem surely one thing can’t? But I am slowly learning that if I want to modify my behaviour or make a lasting change in my life, I am going to have to dedicate a decent amount of time to giving one technique a good chance at making a difference before I give up on it. This is the hardest thing for me, I am by nature very impatient and if something isn’t almost instant I get frustrated and impatient.

This constant cycle of trying and failing is disheartening and also self perpetuating. If I start doing something, knowing that it won’t work or that I will quit, I am much more likely to quit. It’s so much more about mental attitude than I realised at first and it’s disappointing to realise that my failures are all on my shoulders, but that is the truth. Every time I have failed at something, it’s not because I wasn’t given an adequate opportunity to do it right or smart, it was that I half assed it because I procrastinated so hard and so long that by the time the knowledge that the due date was looming hit me, it was so anxiety inducing that I rushed through the task just to feel that sense of accomplishment.

This cycle of “fear of failure” induced procrastination followed by actual failure is again, a self perpetuating cycle that has in the past left me with the mentality that “If I’m going to fail anyway, I might as well do something else instead and worry about that task later.”

In an effort to combat this cycle, I have downloaded an app that follows the Pomodoro technique which is basically a timer set for 25 minutes to start and preferably finish a task, but if it’s not achievable in that time, simply starting and working on it for 25 minutes is a start.

My first thought is that 25 minutes is way too long for me to sit and focus on a designated task, and I may be right about that. In just 15 minutes, I have messaged 3 people on Facebook, tagged friends in some memes and gotten back to writing this. This complete inability to focus on one thing is the biggest thing I have to cope with when I write or read for long periods, and since I love writing and want to have a book published one day it’s quite an inconvenient behaviour. Just now, I switched tabs to Facebook to answer a very unimportant message about the weather. This is the norm for me, looking for things to do, anything else than what I should be doing.

No one is forcing me to write this blog but me, and I am writing it because I want this blog to be successful one day and to have my writing shared with others. This motivation is good, but it definitely doesn’t trump my habit of procrastinating and fidgeting. So, if I can’t even stay on task when it’s a task I actually enjoy, what hope do I have for a task that I dislike? I don’t like my chances when it comes to cleaning, or filing taxes, or any number of things.

Today I did declutter my email inbox, which surprisingly wasn’t a complete mess. I am actually pretty good at reading and replying to emails, I’m also pretty good at paying bills on time as long as I have the dates they’re due written in my bullet journal. Being good at those things is a blessed relief, because at the very least, my internet isn’t going to get cut off because I procrastinated or straight up forgot to pay the bill. I may use the internet to procrastinate but at least my credit rating isn’t totally trashed from avoiding debt collectors or something grim.

You might be reading this and rolling your eyes, I am 26, and should absolutely be paying my bills on time and decluttering my email inbox. But trust me when I say, if you’re a professional, experienced procrastinator things like that can easily pile up and make you wish to sleep for an entire day and wake up with them magically done for you.

So, I just got to the end of the first cycle of the pomodoro technique, 25 minutes of work and a 5 minute break. The 25 minutes of work was pretty difficult and if I’m honest I was definitely distracted by Facebook etc, but the 5 minute break worked well, as soon as it was over I got straight back to writing this. So while the Pomodoro Technique may not stop my penchant for multi-tasking it certainly motivated me to get right back to work and do what I should be doing to a greater extent than usual. I think if I can master the single mindedness of focusing on one single task at a time, I will be so much more productive and feel more accomplished.

Another technique I am trying in order to increase productivity and minimise time wasting is having a designated “productivity playlist” on Spotify (here it is if you’re interested). The goal with this technique is to only listen to this playlist when I’m doing something productive like writing a blog post, and thus when I listen to it in the future my brain will make the connection between this playlist and working/being productive. I have used this playlist every time I have written a blog post/checked emails/checked social media for the past month and it has actually worked quite well. The only issue I have is that I get quite bored of the songs quickly so I have to add new songs and edit the list semi-regularly, which in itself could be a tool of procrastination.

The last thing I am trying this week is attempting to fix my sleep pattern. My sleep pattern is whacky for sure. Last night I slept from 2am until 11am, so I’m certainly getting enough sleep, but I constantly feel tired and fatigued and I attribute this to the time at which I go to bed and wake up. There’s a reason we have internal clocks and circadian rhythms to guide us through life. It’s because the body works best when these internal clocks and rhythms are respected. Getting enough sleep at the right time is linked to better health (both mental and physical), better mental acuity, and overall a higher quality of life. As much as I rebelled against this and ignored the scientific data because it didn’t align with what I wanted to hear it’s time I acknowledge that a good sleep pattern is a gateway to a better life.

This last one is so challenging for me. For one thing, I love sleep. If I can wake up at 11am and nap at 3pm I will, but if I do this I can’t sleep that night until 2am, and the cycle continues again, leading to constant fatigue, and dissatisfaction.

I even went through a phase where I thought I had chronic fatigue syndrome because I was sleeping 14 hours a day in split shifts and wondering why I was so tired. It’s because I slept from 2am-11am and 3pm-6pm. Which sounds absolutely crazy when I say it because who needs that much sleep? Certainly not me. When I fixed my sleep pattern for a while and was sleeping consistently 8 hours a night from 11pm-7am, I felt phenomenal.  But all it took was getting out of the habit for one night and I was back at square one. So for the next 2 weeks I am going to keep a sleep log using an app on my phone, to see where I’m really at with sleeping and then for the next 2 weeks I will implement measures to combat my bad habits.

This is going to be a long journey of self improvement but I’m optimistic and determined. I hope you’ll stay around to see how I fare.

Please let me know if you have some amazing tools for beating procrastination, I’m always open to new techniques. 

 

The monkey on my back: Procrastination

Hello, my name is Amy and I procrastinate…

My name is Amy and I am a world class procrastinator. No, really, I will do anything to get out of what I am supposed to be doing: one of the best examples of this happened today when I cleaned my bedroom with an unrivalled enthusiasm instead of writing a blog post like I had promised myself I would.

I don’t know if I’ve always been a procrastinator. As a young kid around primary school age, I would always do my homework as soon as I got it, not because I liked homework but because I understood that if I got it out of the way first I could go on to do something fun. As I grew older, I became the polar opposite: I would do anything but the thing that needed doing, I would even do things I didn’t particularly enjoy doing to get out of doing the other thing, and now at almost 27 years old I am a veteran procrastinator.

In addition to my fastidious approach to procrastination I have anxiety and a serious fear of failure, all of which adds up to a very contradictory, constantly anxious, and stressed individual.

I have tried many approaches over the years to combat this hilarious combination of traits but so far I have not succeeded in kicking the habit. Procrastination remains one of my dearest and most familiar friends, even if he isn’t particularly friendly, helpful or good at all really.

Let’s use this blog as an example shall we? I spent all of April planning the launch in May, I had plans to have 30 posts ready to be scheduled and posted on their allotted days, but by the time April 30th rolled around, I had maybe 15 posts done, 5 of which I hated and haven’t even bothered posting. I had been so enthusiastic about this blog that I researched blogging platforms, social media strategies, and how to build the perfect Facebook page, and in the end all of that was procrastination. Granted, in this case it was useful procrastination and all very necessary work to make a blog happen but if I had had more posts written that I had loved and could be proud of, I probably wouldn’t have a moment of “Oh fuck, this is all too much” causing me to re-evaluate whether I can feasibly do 5 posts a week.

Even as I write that paragraph I began procrastinating by suddenly “remembering” I needed to update my twitter and find more blogs to follow on twitter. At least this time I can tell you why I procrastinated: in talking about how I procrastinate, I have to admit that I have faults and frankly no one wants to do that, but it’s important to admit that I am a procrastinator.

In examining my behaviour I actually think it’s highly likely I have ADD, because in between writing the past two paragraphs, I have checked both twitter and Facebook twice and changed the song on iTunes about 5 times. That in isolation could just be procrastination but it’s pretty much how I live my life, flitting from one thing to another. Nevertheless, I should hold myself accountable for the fact I have let my procrastination slide into the total inability to achieve set goals in a timely manner.

When it comes to setting goals, I can be very ambitious and I start off strong, doing all of the things I need to do in order to achieve and sometimes even surpass them, but slowly I find myself realising that I can’t possibly maintain the momentum I have set for myself and therefore I will inevitably fail, so instead of re-evaluating my goals, I do something else instead and literally think to myself “I’ll do that later,” I have done this so often that I don’t even realise I am doing it anymore. My standard operating procedure is to write a deadline down in my bullet journal, look at it everyday and think “I should really do that” and then not do it until the night before the deadline. That sums up the entirety of my university life too, for all but the first 2 weeks of freshman year.

I can’t help but feel I should be keeping a tally of how many times I have checked twitter, Facebook and my phone while I’m writing this, because it is getting a little ridiculous.

I have always been a master of setting goals, I have just never been particularly skilled at achieving those goals. As I said before, it could be that I over-estimate my abilities or the amount of work required to achieve a goal and therefore am setting myself up to fail before I even begin. Goals should be SMART:

  • S- Specific
  • M- Measurable
  • A- Achievable
  • R- Realistic
  • T- Time based/Trackable

And quite often, in hindsight I can look at goals I have set and laugh at how entirely unmanageable they are and how they were never going to be something I found myself achieving.

So, dear readers, all of this is to say: My name is Amy and I am a procrastinator, but I will not let it stop me from succeeding and I will do something about it… tomorrow.

No, seriously, starting tomorrow I am going to have a daily schedule, and I am going to blog about it and hold myself accountable to the schedule, myself and you. You can all leave comments if it looks like I’m slacking off.

Let’s all band together and fight procrastination.

Traveller’s notebook: What is it and why is it awesome?

If you’ve read my Bullet journal post you’ll know that when I discovered that particular system of organisation I fell in love pretty instantly. I was never a very organised person prior to that and in fact was well known for being flaky and unreliable. I could make excuses about having a bad memory, but frankly it was more to do with the fact that I was hopeless at maintaining a diary or appointment book.

Which is why Bullet Journalling became my Holy Grail organisation system, from the moment I bought a cheap notebook and started writing down all of the important things I needed to remember, I felt more productive, useful, smarter and happier. It’s a big call to say that a system as idiot proof as bullet journalling made me a happier person but it really did.

From bullet journalling, i spiralled down a rabbit hole of organisational and planning videos on youtube and found Traveller’s Notebooks. The concept is simple, a folio style planner with removable inserts for increased flexibility and to keep productivity simple.

Folio

Bullet journal purists will tell you that a Traveller’s Notebook is NOT a bullet journal, because it is not one notebook where you write EVERYTHING. To that I say, phooey: as long as you use signifiers, daily to do lists, and an index, you’ve got yourself a bullet journal. In saying that, I have divided my Traveller’s notebook into 3 sections, one for each insert I have.

The first section is my Health section, the second is Notes, and the third is Blog.

Health

If you’ve read any of my posts on living with a disability you’ll know by now that I have Spina Bifida. I am the first to admit that in the past, I was terrible at looking after the specific concerns that my disability brought to my life, in fact I’m still pretty bad but this section is designed to end that once and for all. The first few pages are my emergency contacts, current medications, and current diagnoses. I will obviously update those if anything changes. The reason for this is that I plan to keep this TN in my handbag, and so if anything goes wrong while I am out, and an ambulance needs to be called it will be right there. This part isn’t so much a bullet journal because it requires no to do lists, it’s a compilation of information a health professional may need in the event I have a seizure or soemthing else goes wrong medically speaking. I have also included a list of my allergies and important notes that a doctor may need.

The second one is Notes, which is pretty self explanatory, but basically it’s so that I have a place to write down brief notes that may come up in the course of my day if I’m not near my Bullet Journal or if I just need to jot something down for future reference. I plan to migrate a lot of those notes into my Bullet Journal, probably at the end of each month.

Notes

The third insert is reserved for my blog, because so far I’ve been pretty bad at uploading daily blogs and I really would like to get better at this! The plan with this section is to keep all of my blog ideas, upload schedule, resources and anything else blog related in here so that when I’m late (as usual) with an upload and I’m stressing because I forgot my wordpress password or something, it’ll be right there.

Blog

So far, I am absolutely loving this new system, as well as keeping my regular Bullet Journal for planning what I’m doing each day, tracking habits, and keeping appointments all in one spot, this notebook is just an extra “layer” of organisation to keep my life in order.

If you like the look of my traveller’s notebook the link to it on Amazon is right here. I do not make any money as a result of you clicking that link (I wish!). I also went a little crazy and bought these and also these , because I have zero self control.

If you enjoyed this post, let me know if you’d like a follow up in a few weeks to see how I’m going with the system and whether I still love it as much!