Bullet Journaling

I have been having a hard time keeping consistent with one method of keeping track of my tasks and thoughts. I was using a combination of paper and digital for awhile, but started moving more towards digital as I started working more with other people. We started using Asana, where we could assign tasks to each other and track with them. I’m kind of tied to this system, but I’m not finding it working excellent for me. BulletJournaling

I was pretty excited when I found about Bullet Journaling. The website does a great job of explaining it, but if you like creativity, there are a few examples on Pinterest to help inspire you.

Bullet Journaling isn’t journaling exactly. It’s like a GTD inbox where you write everything down that you need to keep track of, to-do items, and events. To-dos are indicated by a box, a dot indicates something to remember or a note, an open circle is an event.

I haven’t tried it yet, but it looks like something that could work. Willy has been using it a bit, which he’s said it’s been helpful.

I just wanted to share it in case it was useful to you.

When you want to quit

photo credit: M I S C H E L L E via photopin cc

photo credit: M I S C H E L L E via photopin cc

If you have ever done a job interview for a serious position, you have probably been asked the question, “Describe a time when you persevered in a difficult situation.” At work I’ve been working on a few different projects for the past couple of months. One project in particular has me thinking about this question.

Usually, I tell the story of how I wrote my first novel in a month. This experience has served me well in many circumstances. All of those circumstances involved persevering through difficulty. With that first novel, I was driven to finish to prove my brother wrong (he said I couldn’t do it). The transferable part was the pattern I noticed: the project starts and you’re exhilarated, then it starts to be less exciting but still neat, then you want to SHOOT YOURSELF and TAKE PEOPLE WITH YOU but you got this far so you better keep going, and then you get so close to the end you can feel it and you push through.

This week, I was at the SHOOT YOURSELF part of the project. As I was walking home from work one day I was reflecting on what was keeping me going. How was I managing to keep myself motivated despite the fact that I resented having to do some of the tasks I was doing (it was just that one part of the project; as a whole I’m very happy with my work!).

What motivates you?

This is the list that I came up with as I was trudging through the snow:

  1. The task is worthwhile and the end product will serve many people for years
  2. It moves our mission forward (and I believe in that mission)
  3. Our mission is worth experiencing the difficulty
  4. If I procrastinate because I don’t want to face the task, it will probably die and never be finished (which would be bad because of 1 & 2)
  5. It’s my job, and my integrity as a good employee is on the line if I bail.

But of that list, it’s really #1 – #3 that keep me going. I really, really believe in what I’m doing. I believe in it so much that I’ve done many things I’m not crazy about because I want to see us move forward. I’m happy to “take one for the team” so to speak.

Reflect on your ‘Whys’

What’s on your list? What motivates you to continue despite hardship? Running through that list was really helpful and calming. I hadn’t really thought about those things before during the project, but I agreed to do it because of the first 3 on the list.

Despite this experience being a frustrating one at times, I already feel a sense of accomplishment in getting to the other side of the hard part. I’m looking ahead to the project being finished and having a product that helps others do good work.

What motivates you when you don’t want to finish a project or task? 

Being Crafty

It's still in its home on the back of my dad's couch.

It’s still in its home on the back of my dad’s couch.

Growing up, we had this afghan that lived on the back of our couch. No matter how many times we moved (and they were many), this blanket came with us. It was there through all of our childhood illnesses, through every movie we watched, every cold Canadian winter. My Dutch grandmother had crocheted it years ago. One day, I resolved as a teenager, I would learn to crochet and make a blanket like this for my family.

Since graduating from University, I’ve been on a quest of sorts for hobbies. I know that hobbies are a very important part of a balanced and full life, especially if you’re someone like me who can be a little too into her work. But I just couldn’t find something that I clicked with and loved to do (except blog, right?).

“Start being Crafty” has been on my Personal Development Plan for years. I’ve taken steps towards these things. I sewed a bit one year, I tried to cross stitch another year… but there’s always this threshold of difficulty that I have a hard time surmounting. My mom finds this hilarious and bewildering, because these things are like breathing to her. Whereas I get annoyed when she can’t remember her AppleID or work her iPad.

But alas, here I am, finally crocheting. I asked for crochet gear at Christmas and this is my big goal for the year. For a few reasons:

  • I want to be able to do it
  • I’ve put it off long enough that it’s becoming shameful.

So despite the fact that I’m not running right now, I did go swimming this week. Despite the fact that I haven’t been writing every day, I’m blogging a little bit more regularly. And three weeks ago, I couldn’t crochet at all. I’m not stagnating anymore!

crochet

I’m back in the saddle, it seems. A friend recently asked me why I’m blogging more again and what had changed? The answer: who can know? I don’t really know what has changed, other than I actually feel like I have something to say again. Why do I have something to say suddenly? Again: who knows?

Maybe it’s that I got restless after sitting around for so long in the fall. Maybe it’s that I got a crochet hook, some wool, and a how-to book and enough motivation to start. It’s probably a little of both. This brings me to the point of my post.

I haven’t really been working on my bucket list goals very much recently, but I obviously have been moving forward on other ‘lesser’ goals. In some ways, they’re just as important as these other things, just less audacious. They’re also things that I had always wanted to do, but never made it onto my official list that I had created.

Even though a Personal Development Plan is different than a Bucket List, it’s still totally relevant to this blog. I’ll explain why the next time I write (see? I’m back in the saddle, people!).

Alone but not lonely (until I am)

Photo by Mo Riza

Photo by Mo Riza

Willy came home from a night class on Monday – the first class he’s taken since the winter semester 2012 (a year ago). It was 10:00PM when he got in. He came over to me and looked a bit sad and said something like:

“You’ve been here all night alone!”

“Yes,” I didn’t get where he was going with this

“And you did this almost every night last year.”

“Yes.”

“You just sat around all alone,” he said, and then after a beat added, “No, actually, that’s not true. You got things done while I was gone at school.”

A light when on in my head. “Yes I did, didn’t I?”

And that, folks, was when I realized the difference between last year and everything I got accomplished versus this year. The presence of my husband verses  him not being around as much.

I’ve been thinking about this all week (while procrastinating writing this post). Whenever I’m all alone in the house, I’m motivated to do things. Whenever there’s someone around, that motivation dies. The mornings when Willy isn’t around when I wake up (which is rare), I get up, have a shower, read my Bible, and have  a full morning. When he’s away or there are other people around, I’m a bum. I don’t always read my Bible ( I do always shower) but… it’s just different.

This is my guess as to why: I’m an extrovert, who sometimes cherishes my alone time but when there’s too much, I go stir-crazy. At first when I was getting used to Willy being away at school, I watched all the movies I wanted to that he didn’t. I was like a kid in a candy store. But that got old fast and I realized I was quickly going to rot my brain and waste my life. I was also getting stir-crazy so that’s when I got productive. But when people are around, it messes with me. I feel like I need to be chatting with them, engaging with them. I have a hard time ignoring my husband when he’s around. Like when I’m reading my Bible, it feels private and personal (despite the fact that I often end up telling him about what I’m reading thinking after… see where this gets confusing?) and so I feel a bit abashed to know people are seeing me doing it.

This past Friday, a bunch of friends were going skating. I decided to stay back because I get sore feet when I skate and can’t stay out as long as others, making me a kill-joy. I wanted to do something social, but I asked a few friends and they were all busy. So, I was left alone, which I wasn’t particularly excited about.

But I remembered I hadn’t baked in a while and so I did that. I ended up really enjoying my evening alone!

So I think the lesson here is that I need to institute some time where I’m actually entirely alone, without anyone around — even my dearest loved one. It wont be Monday nights when Willy’s in class, because I’m taking a class, too.

Being enough

draft

I stumbled upon a a bunch of drafts that I thought I would share since I have no idea why they were left unfinished and unpublished. This was originally dated August 10, 2013.

I’ve been reading Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird the last few weeks (and loving it). This excerpt perfectly explains my thoughts about being a emotionally healthy goal-oriented person. It’s from her essay “Publication.”

“All that I know about the relationship between publication and mental health was summed up in one line of the movie Cool Runnings, which is about the first Jamaican bobsled team. The coach is a four-hundred-pound man who had won a gold in Olympic bobsledding twenty years before but has been a complete loser ever since. The men on his team are desperate to win the Olympic medal, just as half the people in my classes are desperate to get published. But the coach says, ‘If you’re not enough before the gold medal, you won’t be enough with it.’”

This is, adding to last week’s conversation, a key to dealing with/avoiding a quarter life crisis.

What do the “winter blues” feel like for me?

draft

I stumbled upon a a bunch of drafts that I thought I would share since I have no idea why they were left forgotten and unpublished. This was originally dated Nov 12 2012.

It occurred to me this week that I’ve talked about feeling the “winter blues” and I make casually reference in conversations with my friends to feeling “emo” (emotional) sometimes, but I’ve never really explained to anyone what I mean when I say that. Sure, it’s clear enough to get the point across: I don’t feel totally emotionally healthy that day, but what do I feel?*

I’m a person who has always been pretty introspective and in touch with my emotions. I’ve always been able to put a name to what I feel and how I’m doing. I’m also pretty aware of my physical health as well. I’ve never really had to explain to people what certain things feel like. I never felt the need. I know what’s what in my own life and I manage it accordingly.

It never occurred to me that being more specific about what it feels like might be helpful for others to interpret what’s going on in their lives.

This week a few different people mentioned that they have felt lonely recently. That piqued my interest. Partially because I’m saddened by the idea that my friends feel lonely, but mostly because my winter blues feels like loneliness. Why don’t you just say you’re lonely, Jess? Why do you say you have the winter blues? Because I know I’m not actually lonely.

Here’s the other clue. It feels like sadness of the heart. When I have a combination of loneliness and heart-sadness I call this “emo.” This usually happens in  fall up until the end of December, as I’ve already mentioned. In December I’m rarely actually lonely. I’m out with friends celebrating Christmas parties, or with family for actual Christmas. But I rarely have the energy or desire to do things like go cross-country skiing with my family during those holidays and I feel sad and lonely even with them thereThat’s why I say I’m not actually lonely. I’m with people who love me and I love and care for them in return. I don’t feel isolated when I’m with them. But my brain and my heart say something different.

Call it what you may. It only happens from the months of September to December and there’s a remedy for it as I talked about in my post I LOVE LAMP!

If you find you’re feeling a little bit sad and a little bit lonely, consider if you’re exercising and taking Vitamin D, and as always make sure you’re not isolating yourself from your friends and family. You don’t want to make a self-fulfilling prophecy for loneliness.

*I don’t know what it feels like for everyone else. I’m not a medical professional and my advice is based on what has worked for me in the past based on how I feel and what I know to be true about my life and situation.