how I’m cutting down my screentime

2020, books, creativity, lifestyle, mental health, writing

Hello!

I know that I don’t need to reiterate that quarantine is hard, we all know that, but one thing a lot of us have inadvertently spent a lot more time doing is looking at screens – from scrolling through Instagram, to working from home with a less regimented schedule, to Netflix to video games; so much of our entertainment is on screens.

Something I’m noticing more and more recently is that spending all day going from my phone to my laptop to the TV and back isn’t doing me any good – I don’t think it’s helping my sleep and I know I feel better when I’ve spent some time away.

I thought I’d collate a little list of the off-screen things I’m really enjoying at the moment so I can come back so it when I’m feeling a bit uninspired and maybe it’ll give you some ideas too!


  • cross stitch

I bought one of those little kits from Hobbycraft before everything closed and then ignored it for weeks. So when the weather picked up I sat outside with my cross stitch and it was lovely – I’ve been doing it on and off and I’ve nearly finished it now. It’s lovely to sit down and follow a pattern and make something creative – something that takes just enough brain power to keep you occupied but not enough brain power that it’s too hard. I’ve just bought a new kit from Etsy and I’m really excited about it.

  • knitting

I swear I have other creative hobbies that aren’t related to sewing. In my house I have one set of knitting needles and one ball of wool, but my mum sent me a pattern to make ‘ear savers’ which is essentially a headband to make face masks more comfortable for front line medical staff so I’m learning new stitches and hopefully I’ll actually be able to make something useful. Once you’ve nailed the new stitches it’s very therapeutic too!

  • making lists with coloured pens

Post-quarantine lists, things to do in quarantine, daily to do lists, weekly meal plans – everything is more exciting when you use coloured pens.

  • skincare

Spending even 5 minutes just to look after your skin and moisturise, maybe doing a face mask or a foot mask – it feels like a nice to make that time to treat yourself! Go all out and have a bath if you like, I have to wait for our new bath plug to arrive though and that’s a bit anticlimactic.

  • reading

I know I’ve been banging on about reading a lot this year but considering my goal for 2020 was 12 books and I just finished my 20th and I’m feeling more creatively driven by reading and writing than I’ve felt in an awfully long time, I’m justifiably excited about it. With the weather being typically British (unpredictable), reading is the perfect activity for sitting out in the garden catching some of that vitamin D or snuggled inside while the wind does its best to tear the trees down. So many of us have an ongoing ‘to be read’ pile and we might as well make the most of trying to cut it down a little whilst we’re encouraged to stay indoors.

  • gardening

I don’t necessarily mean landscaping your garden to make raised vegetable beds and only eating your own homegrown produce this summer! I mean making the most of the space you have (a windowsill, a balcony, any outside space) and growing something – there’s so many lovely indoor plants that can flourish at this time of year.

And it doesn’t have to be expensive – I bought a bag of soil, a small set of pots, a selection of flower seeds, some basic tools and gardening gloves in my weekly Asda shop for less than £20 and the joy of watching the seeds I planted turn into little shoots and flourishing is so satisfying and going out and watering them every day is incredibly therapeutic. I have to resist buying more every time I go shopping!

If you’re not sure where to start, I believe you can buy kitchen windowsill herb kits and grow the seasonings you use to cook! Our kitchen doesn’t have a window so I’ve opted for flowers this year but I definitely want to try tomatoes, peppers and courgettes next year!

  • journalling

If the world feels a bit big right now, I can’t express anything more therapeutic than getting all your feelings out on paper. It usually makes me feel like a weight has been lifted from my chest, sometimes it’s just a little bit so I can take a slightly bigger breath and sometimes I feel light as air but getting your feelings out of your head and onto paper is so healthy.

Then if you want you could even destroy the paper – I think I’m going to ceremoniously burn my journal when I’m finished with it. I can pretend it’s symbolic about a ‘chapter of my life ending’ but let’s be real; 1) a fire pit in the summer with friends is the best so might as well provide some kindling, 2) same applies to a BBQ, 3) there’s some parts of my life documented in that journal that I would really enjoy destroying and 4) it probably would be quite symbolic and provide a nice sense of closure.

The destroying isn’t the key part – it doesn’t even have to be on paper; you could make a private social media account that’s just for you, you could do it on the notes app on your phone or have a document on your computer. You can do it however you want in whatever medium you want, but I thoroughly recommend it.


If you’ve got any hobbies or activities that you’ve taken up during quarantine – whether to spend more time offline or to help your mental health – leave them in a comment below! We can make a big master post of ideas!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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January in my bullet journal

2020, organisation, student

Hello!

I’ve been blogging fairly consistently about my bullet journal for around three years now – I started in January 2017 and I’m now on my fourth journal and it’s something I love to constantly experiment with to maximise productivity and clear my head.

So I thought I’d show you what my bullet journal looked like in January – I’ve decided to stick with a colour theme per month so it’s very blue. My layouts at the moment are really working for me but there’s some bits I’ve already changed in February, so let me know if you’d like to see those!

Starting with my opening page! I knew I wanted to use my letter stamps but I wasn’t sure how, so the left page is one that looks a bit bare but I love how my January Goals look! And I’m pleased to say I’m on track to achieve all of them – I’ve nearly done my word challenge, I registered at the doctors, I’m eating mostly carb free lunches, I’ve made an alternative decision with the new blog I want to launch and I didn’t go too mad on spending this month. And I read THREE books and went on two date nights so pretty good start to the year!

Next is my finances – I was a bit hesitant about posting this page but then I thought actually… it’s not my card details! The only information this really shows is how many times I caved and went to McDonalds this month! I find tracking my spending like this makes me much more thoughtful about the purchases I do make (except those McDonalds…) and the ‘total spent’ really makes me think. By the time my car bills come out I’ll be on about £550 for the month and maybe that sounds like a lot, but compared to some of my finance trackers last year it’s bloody brilliant!

Then we have the content plan – I was clearly optimistic about how many notes I was going to make on the right hand side of the page but overall the layout of these pages has been fairly consistent. Though I am trying something new in February…

And then we’re onto weekly spreads – I’m not going to show you every week because they all have the exact same layout with different tasks to do. I picked Week 2 because it had lots of ticks if I’m being brutally honest!

The thing I find works best for my productivity is having to make as few decisions as possible so I don’t spend time worrying about which tasks are priorities, so having the long weekly to do list broken down into day by day tasks is really good for me. If I’m feeling a bit unmotivated and run down sometimes I’ll even make a schedule where I have an hourly timetable and set myself tasks for each hour and that works really well too! Not only because I know exactly how my day is going to look but also because if there’s a big daunting task that I’m putting off, I know I only have to spend an hour on it and often I finish it in that hour and it’s not as bad as I thought!

And to conclude – my spread for this week. I also have digital to do lists so I can access my daily lists on my phone but they’re based off this spread (but I can add additional tasks as they pop up, for example I just made a dentist appointment for Thursday!).

In terms of ‘monthly organisation’ I like to count the weeks where months overlap as the last week of the month rather than the first week of the following month. I don’t know why but it just makes my mind happy.


Whenever I write about journalling I always end up rambling far more than I anticipate, but I love talking about organisation so let me know if there’s any other posts like this you’d like to see!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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top tips for photo albums and scrapbooking!

2019, creativity

Hello!

Scrapbooking and photo albums are such easy ways of keeping memories – saving concert tickets, postcards from holidays and printed photos is such a nice physical representation of what’s important to you to sit and flick through with family and friends.

For some, it’s as simple as something to stick down and a bit of tape, for the more creative of us there’s patterned paper, coloured pens, washi tape, stickers, stencils, stamps and all sorts of other bits and bobs to take it from memories on a page to something that is much more of a creative outlet.

That’s what scrapbooking and making my photo albums is for me – it’s a couple of hours in an afternoon a couple of times a month saving memories for generations down the line to browse through. So I thought I’d have a little ramble of how it works for me and a few tips and tricks.

[ s c r a p b o o k i n g ]

I started my scrapbook because I wanted somewhere to put all of my photos and posters that I’d had to take down from bedroom wall before I moved to uni. I spent maybe an hour on it in first year (yes, 2015) and then didn’t really touch it till I moved home after graduating. But then I went all out! I’d build up quite the collection of memories at this point and I spent a couple of days pouring my heart and soul in these pages to get up to date.

 

Now I just update it whenever I’ve got something I want to stick in or I’ve been on a trip and collected lots of memories – like when I took my boyfriend to Paris earlier this year.

Something I’ve learnt now that I will definitely implement in my future scrapbooking is not getting too heavy with layering things on top of each other – sticking stuff onto every page is already going to make your scrapbook fat enough but you still want to be able to close it.

But otherwise, I don’t really have any tips or tricks to share – scrapbooking is an incredibly personal thing and whether you’re simply sticking things in or you’ve got stickers and magic tapes galore, it all looks good and serves the same purpose – it’s all just about what you want from your scrapbook.

[ p h o t o   a l b u m s ]

My photo albums started as a way to capture university memories – I used a website called photobox to print polaroid-ish photos with little captions and I hung them up in my room on my fairy lights. In second year, after I worked (and lost my job) at Paperchase (still bitter, ngl) I bought one of their beautiful self adhesive photo albums which were perfect for four photos per page, lovely quality, fantastic.

I did my last photobox order after I finished university as by then, my mum had found an app called Snapfish which offers 50 free 6×4 prints a month (but only on the app, not the website) and I started ordering from there.

So I went from a self adhesive album, to a more scrapbook like album, to another self-adhesive Paperchase album, to an actual scrapbook.

Yeah, this is where it all starts to crossover.

I remembered I had a scrapbook that I had given to my Nan as a Christmas present and my uncle had given it back to me after she passed away. I was keeping it for ‘something special’ and it just kind of hit me that if I kept saving it I was never going to use it. So I flicked through the pages she had used, typed up a little letter of context (for any future generations who are obviously deeply concerned about the story behind the scrapbook…) and started sticking in my 2019 photos!

Personally I really like using photo corners because I think they’re the easiest way to make sure the photos stay secure without damaging them and they can look really cute too.

My biggest tip is don’t be drawn in to all the really expensive photo albums on the market – though the self adhesive ones can have really pretty designs and be ‘so convenient’, it’s significantly cheaper to buy an A3 scrapbook and some funky photo corners. But like the scrapbooking, it’s down to personal preference.

[ t h e    p l a n ]

From here, I’m going to keep filling photo albums until I finish my scrapbook and then I’m going to combine the two. I was finding I was having to print multiples of the same photo to put in each memory book so I’m just going to keep printing photos and keep the memorabilia to work in to combine them all.

It’ll make my photo albums more creative, it’ll stop duplicates in my scrapbook and all round, it’s something I’m really excited about. It’s going to be so cute.

At the end of the day, I design all of these because I’m an incredibly sentimental person who is absolutely in love with the idea of my family, generations down the line looking back through my soppy memories of the beginning of my relationship, growing up, dumb things that make me laugh and the creativity I put into it, it’s so much fun. But all completely recyclable too so there’s always that.

If you’ve got any scrapbook or photo album tips please do let me know in the comments! I love looking at pictures of other peoples journals and albums!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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how to make productive to do lists!

2019, lifestyle, organisation

Hello!

Thought my confidence in my ability to do literally anything right now is rock bottom, one thing I know I can do for sure is make a list and get stuff done. In the two years since I’ve had my bullet journal I’ve got a lot better at figuring out what works best for me.

How I make my to do lists has changed a lot – in the summer of 2016 I remember making lists that were 9 or 10 things long and then getting really demotivated because I wasn’t getting anything done. In the following January I started my first bullet journal and from there I started experimenting with writing a long weekly to do list so I could see what I needed to achieve over the whole week and then I could pick out tasks that I needed to do on each day.

I stuck with that structure for a while, developing it to split my weekly tasks into categories like Uni, Society, Personal, Long-Term etc just to help me focus more. But when I finished uni I felt I didn’t need the focus as much and I didn’t have the same need for tasks that were completed each week so I stopped using this around June 2018.

And between summer 2018 and the end of the year I really refined how I make my to do lists and it’s working really well for me to have a balanced productive day – not giving myself too much to do, making sure I finish all my computer jobs during the day and doing as much as I can to make sure I get everything done.

Shock horror, she’s talking about her bullet journal again. This is my nearly finished weekly spread – on the left page I write the content I want to make for the week, my monthly goals and tick boxes (because is there anything more satisfying than ticking a tick box?) for my daily tasks and this is working really well right now.

Then on the right I have my daily to do’s – each day has 4 lines for me to plan things to do and the highlighted numbers is my word goal for my writing challenge this month. I keep my Sunday box longer because I can catch up on things  I’ve missed during the week and make notes for the following week.

I think if I had a better memory and such I wouldn’t need to rewrite each list every day but I really like writing my to do’s for each day on a post it note and stick it to the front of my bullet journal so I can just tick it off without having to have it open all the time.

The way I make each list is I write the day of the week at the top, because let’s be real – I forget what day it is at least 7 times a day, then I draw 5 boxes and 3 dashes.

(not the greatest picture but gives you the idea of what my lists look like!)

The 5 boxes are for me to write the must-to do’s and those are my kind of bare minimum tasks for the day – it’ll include things like any editing or writing I’ve got to do, if I’ve got a dance class or work or anything like that, it all goes on the list with any other tasks I want to do for the day.

Then I use the dashes for tasks that aren’t too important or wouldn’t be the end of the world if I didn’t do – things like my daily writing challenge that I’m doing at the moment, any tasks I could do if I finish everything else on my list and any little jobs that really need doing but it wasn’t worth a tick box.

And this system works really well for me. That’s not to say I get everything done on my list every single day – I have bad days that I just can’t bring myself to do the things I need to do and I’m frustrated and tired. But this is the best system I’ve found so far – some people get 10 things done every day, some people get three things done a day, some people go to the gym at 6am, work 9-5, volunteer at a food bank after work and have a solid mental health so comparing your productivity to mine or anyone you see online is utterly pointless. It’s all about things like substituting phrases like ‘I was so productive today’ to ‘I got everything on my to do list done today!’ – productivity is so highly valued in society and on social media right now but every person is different and everyone works differently.

Conclusion – to do lists are great and all and I’m really happy with how I make mine now but we shouldn’t compare productivity because everyone is different.

I hope this has been even a little bit helpful! I do love talking about organisation and things like this so if there’s anything you’d like to hear my two cents on, let me know!!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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dotted Leuchtturm 1917 – starting my second bullet journal

2018, lifestyle, photography, student

Hello!

I got a new bullet journal for my birthday back in September – having filled a lined notebook that I already owned between January-November, I’d seen a lot of hype around the Leuchtturm 1917 journals. Since I knew I wanted to continue bullet journalling, I asked for this journal for my birthday.

So, considering I was trying out a new journal, transferring the relevant stuff from my old journal and it was my first time starting a journal and it not being for the first time – if that makes any sense at all? – I thought I’d talk through how I started this new journal with the admin-y bits, how I’ve adapted my weekly spreads and then my thoughts on the Leuchtturm journal.

Having had two months to think about how I wanted to format this journal. I knew I wanted to change how I presented my future logs and they’re now much more concise and more for noting important or fun dates and I’m really pleased with how they look and how I’ve used my pastel highlighters. They make me very happy.

My monthly logs I’ve kept much the same as my old journal – they look much nicer then my first journal because there’s more smaller lines in the Leuchtturm and I like them. Hence why I kept them the same. Truly thrilling.

My first spread it about university hand ins and grades because I’m not obsessed with grades sshh. But this is where the dotted part of the journal first came in really handy – making the boxes on the results page was much simpler and I really like how it looks. I can fill it in and cross bits out as necessary which I find really useful.

I have a lot of temporary lists like what I wanted to get people for Christmas, rehearsal schedules for a drama show I was in before Christmas and financial plans for the next year (it was a lot of maths on one page, not interesting at all).

This isn’t a ‘final layout’ of how I want to make my content  planning spread but it’s the first full one I’ve made – I like the calendar and being able to see nearly a full month at a time on one side but the right hand side needs work. It’ll be different in February when I’m not catering for the last couple of weeks of the previous month but I’m really excited to use these spreads throughout the year, see how I can adapt them and if they work with helping me to maintain my content.

This page isn’t massively relevant to how I set up and use my journal but I like it a lot.

And this is what my weekly spreads look like now – it’s very minor changes from where I started in November but it’s really useful for me. Rather than splitting the right page into six sections it’s now split into eight which means every day gets their own section, I can make a note of things to remember for the following week and it also limits how much I can set myself to do each day. The biggest problem with the previous design of the spreads is that I could give myself seven or eight large tasks to do each day and that’s just not feasible, so having fewer tasks and more space to organise works really well for me.

I also now have a Money Tracker on the left hand side – since being made redundant last year and getting the next instalment of student loan has meant I’ve had to be very strict with budgeting to make sure I don’t run out of money before the next instalment in April. This spread works really well for me and I’m getting much better at checking in with my journal (which was one of my new years resolutions!)

My boyfriend and I made this list of goals for the year and I’ve left the other page blank to act as a kind of scrapbook if and when we do the things we can tick them off and stick something in, I’m so excited about it.

And that’s about it for the important relevant pages from my new journal! I’ve used nearly 60 pages of about 250, so I’m not sure this will last me the entirety of 2018 but it would be nice if I could start a new one for 2019!

My thoughts on the Leuchtturm 1917 journal is pretty positive – I definitely like the dots over the lines because it’s so much more adaptable in terms of drawing boxes or grids and splitting up weekly spreads but I personally find the space between the dots is a bit small. I have rather large handwriting so I find that some of my spreads feel a bit crowded.

The pages, though advertised as being heavy duty, I find do bleed quite a lot and you can see that quite clearly in these pictures – I have to be careful with how much coloured pen I use on a page as to consider the next pages. I’ve seen people saying they use Sharpies to bullet journal but I can’t imagine that going very well in this book. Not a massive deal for me, but worth mentioning if it’s something that’s important to you!

I do love that the pages are already numbered because I always forgot to do that in my old one and it made the index much harder to maintain. I also like that the index is part of the design of the book so it looks much more formal and neat. I like it a lot – at this point in time I would definitely repurchase and use it again (especially since they’ve just released a soft cover one, so much more convenient than a hardback one) but who knows, I might find something even more convenient by the end of the year. We’ll see!

I wrote a post about starting a bullet journal and a bullet journal update in early 2017 and I wanted to do an update having moved on to my second journal. Do you like this kind of content? Would you like me to write more about bullet journalling? Let me know in the comments!

I’ve put a full bullet journal flip through on my second channel unlisted so you can only watch it with this link! How exclusive. If you want to see my journal in full I’d recommend watching that.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

 

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