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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making yourself a routine

2019, lifestyle

Hello!

One of the things I consistently find myself yearning for in day to day life is a routine – when I left school I found it weird so at uni I made myself a more structured routine. Then again when I finished uni I struggled taking each day with no plans and no idea of what would happen.

When you’re freelance, self-employed, unemployed, a graduate struggling to find a job, whatever reason for being home a lot, often on your own and an expanse of uncertain future in front of you, the weight of that uncertainty can make it hard to find a reason to get out of bed. The only definite timings you have are breakfast, lunch and dinner and that’s assuming you’re not sad binge eating, snacking all day and have a healthy relationship with food.

So here’s where the routine bit comes in – I’ve always been the person who thrives on structure, will pull a to do list of things I need to do out of the air and keep myself busy so I thought I’d share what works for me. This is a little disclaimer that it’s exactly that – what works for me, everyone is different; some people don’t care about routines, some people really struggle to stick to a plan they’ve made and sometimes other factors come into play, I’m just sharing what I do to structure my days.

There are some tips to how I motivate myself to get out of bed every day and give myself a purpose.

#1 – writing to do lists

Is this a shock to anyone at this point? But seriously – making my monthly goals which feeds to my weekly bullet journal spreads and daily to do post-it notes make it so much easier to make a routine that doesn’t become stale too quickly because each day is different from the tasks I set myself. I then feel more productive and feel mentally prepared to do it all again the next day.

My lists are filled with things like filming videos, writing blog posts, working on my freelance career, but also includes things like doing the laundry, selling that pile of stuff that’s building up in my room etc. Obviously I can’t write a list of things that you could put on a list because it’s so personal, but if you don’t have projects to work on or you struggle to think of things you could put on a list then even things like having a shower, making lunch, making your bed can be a place to start – it’s something to tick off (which is so satisfying) and you can build on it from there.

#2 – have set times for food

It sounds ridiculous, but if you can give yourself time markers throughout the day it just breaks the day up a bit. I aim to eat my breakfast by 9am, I let myself go for lunch at 12pm (I normally count down the minutes) and then depending on what we’re having for dinner I usually start cooking about 5pm for dinner at 6pm. That’s when I stop for the day – I come out of the office, leave my computer and have some off-screen time. Which is ironic because instead of looking at my computer screen I watch TV and scroll through my phone but it’s a work in progress, I’m cutting down my scrolling! An attempt was made!

#3 – plan stuff for the future

This isn’t so much for having a routine but for keeping yourself sane – whether it’s a diary, a bullet journal or a digital calendar on your phone, getting through every day when you have to make stuff up for yourself to do is so much easier when you’ve got days with friends or a weekend away or a job pencilled in, especially if you’re unemployed and don’t have any friends that live nearby, having something to look forward to can make finding a routine in the now much easier.

It’s a bit like #2  – rather than breaking up the day, it breaks up the future so rather than this expanse of ‘no plans’, there’s something coming up. Obviously this is based on the things that I struggle with – some people see a blank calendar as relaxing or exciting but it scares me, to be honest. What I’m saying – take these tips with a pinch of salt!

#4 – have a space to work

This one I struggle a bit to explain, because for me it meant not being in the living room, not being in the kitchen and not being in my bedroom but I know that a lot of people don’t have the luxury of turning a spare bedroom into an office – I definitely didn’t at uni! But if you can find or make a separate space to work on your tasks I find that really helpful. At the moment, I’ve got a little office space at home but when I was at uni I found going into a local cafe or into uni (not the library, it was soul destroying) really helped my productivity.

Sitting somewhere as comfortable as the sofa is probably not going to work in your favour if you’re trying to get out of the slump of binging Netflix and having an afternoon nap. Also then, the sofa is not a work environment and it can be exclusively for binging Netflix and taking an afternoon nap.

#5 – have a strict sleep schedule

I don’t mean strict in the extreme way that you can’t stay up late sometimes and adapt, but having times to wake up and wind down make a routine and structure so much easier.

Personally, I start planning to go to bed at 10pm, by the time I’ve actually got up from the sofa, changed into my PJs, brushed my teeth, read a couple of chapters of my book I’m ready to settle down for sleep between 11pm and 11.30pm. I’ve also recently started not looking at my phone after I’ve plugged into charge before I start reading (except to update my Goodreads progress) and that’s really helped too.

I am to be up between 6.30am-7am but that doesn’t always happen, I’m usually out of bed by 8am at the latest and having that structure is so helpful for my routine.

It’s all a work in progress – I’m still learning, I accidentally spent three hours watching YouTube with breakfast the other day but I mentally reviewed it and planned a way to combat it. It’s about self awareness, noticing the things that aren’t helping your routine and deciding how to work on it.

I hope this has been helpful, it’s turned into a proper long ramble but these are my favourite kinds of posts!

Thank you so much for reading,

Sophie xx

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November Goals

2018, lifestyle

Hello!

This is the penultimate goals post of 2018! And then we get onto all that good New Years content looking back on my goals for last year and making goals for next year, but even though that’s not many ‘goals’ blog posts away, it is two months in real time away so like the forbidden ‘C’ word, I won’t mention it again!

This month I’m kind of having to make some important decisions – nothing too drastic, but I need to figure out what I want the next year of my life to look like and what I need to do to get there. But, that’s on a broader to do list – here are my goals for November.

[ N o v e m b e r   G o a l s ]

  • workout once a week (‘gym’/running) – I was in a decent routine of using the treadmill and rowing machine in my mum’s garage a few times a week and I’ve completely fallen out of that routine. I have started up a new dance class (two even, in one day!) and I think once a week on the treadmill, building up my stamina and maybe getting a bit better at running is a good routine to get into.
  • NaNoWriMo! I feel like I’ve mentioned it approximately a hundred million times, but NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s a website that brings together a community of writers to scribble 50,000 words in 30 days. That’s 1667 words a day and quite the challenge. I think I’ve mentioned before that writing is a huge passion of mine – I started creative writing when I was 12 and before I went to uni, every single night I would sit and tap away at my computer in front of the TV in the living room. I wrote a full length novel when I was 16 in NaNoWriMo so I’m going to try and emulate that success this year. It’s going to be a challenge but I’m so determined.
  • Balance work and making content – This month I’ve been pretty rubbish at working. I’m so lucky that I can work so flexibly for my mum’s business but I haven’t been very good at actually making the time for it. I need to set myself a stricter routine and in the end I get paid more when I do more work so it’s win win all round really.
  • Shorter to do lists – one of the things I hate the most is that I write myself a huge long list of things to do, and when I do them all it feels fantastic but when at the end of the day I’m staring at a list I’ve ticked one thing off of it’s both demotivating and daunting so to combat this, I’m only letting myself write 5 point to do lists each day. Hopefully this will maximise productivity all round and maybe even give me some spare time but mostly just keep me a bit more sane.
  • Plan December and 2019 videos – in terms of my blog, I’m pretty confident that I can write two posts a week and know what I want to write about and what I want to make. My YouTube channel however, takes a little more work and planning. I’m thinking about potentially doing Vlogmas on my main channel (you heard it here first lads) and I want to think about what projects I take on in 2019. 2016 was the year of the monthly vlog, 2017 I got back into making weekly videos and 2018 I’ve been weekly vlogging and making sit down vlogs (two videos a week!) for most of the year. I need to figure out whether I want to continue weekly vlogging, whether I want to try something new or maybe change it all up completely. If you’ve got any Christmas video requests do let me know!!

I’m feeling a bit more focused at the moment, there are certain aspects I’m trying not to think about but it’s all one step at a time, that can be part of next months goals.

Hope you all had a lovely October and are enjoying the colder temperatures – I’m loving having all my jumpers and blankets out again!

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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October Goals!

2018, lifestyle

Hello!

How another month has flown – I’ve only got two more of these posts to write in 2018 and oh my god that’s a scary way of looking at it!

October is looking to be a pretty quiet month – it’s getting considerably colder and the leaves are all starting to change colour on the trees, the nights are drawing in and I’m starting to feel all snuggly and cosy so let’s jump right in and have a ramble about the things I want to focus on this month shall we!

[ O C T O B E R   G O A L S ]

  • focus on balance – I want to make sure I spend an even amount of time on a variety of things rather than trying to squeeze doing a bit of everything every day – I want to make time to work for my mum, continue making content 4 times a week, job hunting consistently and doing other things that I want to do! Balance is definitely something I need to work on.
  • sort and decorate room, clear old office – this month I’m hoping to redecorate my room – paint a feature wall, repaint the other walls, get a new carpet and a new wardrobe but first I have to tidy and clear the contents of my room as it is currently and I need to clear the spare room I’m moving stuff into. And the spare room has all the stuff I left behind when I went to uni that I need to sort through and decide whether I’m keeping, donating or getting rid off. Overall, lots of household sorting and maybe some painting.
  • finish my scrapbook – I started my scrapbook in first year, took a three year break and worked on it a bit at the end of August/beginning of September but I’ve got a few more bits to put in and then I can just do a page when something happens or I have enough to put in it! It probably won’t take me more than an afternoon but I just want to get my scrapbook and my photo albums sorted this month.
  • try new recipes and continue eating well – for a whole week now I’ve been eating really well, I’ve been really strict with not snacking between meals and eating as healthily as I can being such a fussy eater but I want to try new meals! The way I’m doing this is by mostly letting my boyfriend and my mum choose things they like and trying new things that way, so if I find anything I’ll definitely share it on Instagram (linked below).
  • have evenings off – I spent an awful lot of my time beating myself up about not being productive enough and I so often convince myself ‘I’ll work in the evening while watching TV’ but the TV I’ve been watching at the moment has been so addictive that I haven’t been able to tear myself away from it. So I want to give myself the evenings to be properly relaxed and not feel pressured to do anything! That’s not to say I’m sacking off the things I’ve not done on my to do list, it’s a double edged sword – I want to be more productive during the days so I can have the evenings off, but if I don’t get everything done I want I need to give myself a break.

Thank you for reading,

Sophie xx

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August Mini Goals

2018, film, lifestyle, photography

Hello!

How July flew past – between trying to survive the heatwave and adjusting to life as a graduate, it’s been a bit of whirlwind. But let’s jump right in with reviewing my July goals.

[ J U L Y   G O A L S : R E V I E W ]

  1. Content – stick to the plan! I’m actually really proud of myself with this one, I’m feeling much more on top of this goal and I feel like I’m making stuff I’m actually really proud of!
  2. Portfolio – my portfolio on my blog is all done and ready for updating as and when I have something new to post (you can have a nosy here), my showreel was a much slower start but I knuckled down, made a list of everything I wanted to include, sourced all the footage and started cutting it down – so it’s not quite finished but it’s nearly there!
  3. Workout – I decided against making too much of an effort with this one because it was just too hot to workout and it wasn’t worth the hassle. But I have been making an effort to try and do lots of walking and just yesterday I started using my mum’s treadmill and I’m going to start working up from there – I did a whole rant on my Instagram stories which I saved to highlights (and I will write a full blog post on it soon!) if you want a sneak peak.
  4. Work experience – I was struggling a bit with this one because having finished my degree and in the midst of applying for career starting jobs, applying for work experience all felt a little backwards – I was unsure about what I wanted from each company I was looking into but I’ve done a bunch more research and sent a few emails off the other day.
  5. Applying for jobs – I actually, no joke, lost count of how many jobs I’ve applied for in the last couple of weeks. I lost my mojo a little bit at the end of June but by mid-July I’d pulled up my metaphorical socks and told myself I am worthy of a cool job in an industry I love, I just need to keep going to get there and that’s what I’ve done. Hopefully I’ll hear back from something soon but in the mean time, I will keep applying.

That was long, but let’s jump right into August!

[ A U G U S T   G O A L S : L O O K I N G   A H E A D ]

I wanted to shake things up a little this month – I felt like my goals had been basically the same for months I needed to adjust my focus a little bit.

  1. Write 15,000 words – in July I had a go at Camp NaNoWriMo and though I didn’t hit my target word goal, I did find the same kind of enjoyment out of writing that I used to when I was a teenager and I want to maintain that this month.
  2. Finish my passion project – I’ve had a video project for my YouTube channel on the backburner for a little while now and I’m determined to finish it this month. It’s a little out there but it’s something I really want to make and I can’t wait to share it!
  3. Focus on my Insta content / take more photos! I’ve been really enjoying Instagram at the moment and working on balancing a theme and pretty content with real life photos that match up to what I’m actually doing day in day out and I want to work on that even more. I want to take more photos and make my instagram the best it can be!
  4. Start budget tracking – I’ve not done any kind of budget tracking since I got my penultimate loan instalment in January but now I have no upcoming loans and I don’t have a lot of money, so I need to keep track of what I’m spending and where I’m spending it to make sure I have enough money to keep me going.
  5. Watch more films! I don’t necessarily mean go to the cinema more but there’s a lot of classic films that I haven’t seen, some because I know I won’t like them but a lot because I just never got round to seeing them! My mum has a pretty spectacular DVD collection (that I just databased and alphabetised) so I think we’re going to start working our way through that.

A little bit rambly this month, but I graduated in July so there’s been a fair bit of self-evaluation. I’m feeling productive and creative at the moment so hopefully that follows through!

Thank you 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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