My Favourite Productive Bullet Journal Spreads

I feel like most of us have an ambiguous relationship with bullet journals. We love them because they enhance our productivity, give us a place to track our thoughts and create a feeling that we have our lives together. Yet, we hate feeling like we have to live up to the pretty spreads we see all over Instagram and Pinterest. And for this reason I would like to preface this post with an important reminder: your bullet journal absolutely does not have to look pretty in order for it to be effective. In fact, 90% of my bullet journal pages (in particular, weekly spreads) are covered in unsightly scribbles and take under five minutes to set up in the first place.

The reason for why the photos you see in my blog posts are a bit more presentable is because a) I know they will be going up on my blog and I want to create a pleasing experience for my readers and b) doing cool lettering, doodles and implementing colour schemes on a couple of my bullet journal pages acts, for me, as a creative outlet, which is something I believe most of us need. If you see my revision notes and anything destined to remain hidden from public consumption, you will understand that a messy person like myself with handwriting that can only be described as abysmal needs reassurance that I do posses the hint of artistic competence (lol). What I am trying to say is, do not be put off from starting a bullet journal because an obligation to make it look objectively aesthetic does not exist if this is not something you wish to do.

Now, this post is a collab with Mia, who runs a lifestyle blog called Beautiful, Inspiring, Creative…Life. Not only is she is a super talented blogger with a very unique style and content (featuring many things including productivity, fashion and life advice), but also the loveliest person with an attitude all of us can admire. We bonded over our mutual love for many things, bullet journaling included, and decided to share our favourite spreads used to further productivity and self development. You can check out her post HERE.

And now, let us have a look at some of my ideas, which you may wish to try out if you haven’t already.

1. Reading log or a reading list.

Reading list bullet journal

I know that many people often set themselves a goal of reading more books, whether fiction or non fiction, listening to particular podcasts or watching interesting films. However, achieving this is tricky unless you are keeping yourself accountable. This is the main reason for why you may want to dedicate a page of your bullet journal to some sort of reading list, whether in the form of a space to jot down books you come across and may wish to read in the future, or a more structured ‘to read’ page with tick boxes next to each item. Continue reading “My Favourite Productive Bullet Journal Spreads”

My January Bullet Journal Setup

I approach any trend with a degree of scepticism. I question whether it is right for me, just because it has worked for a seemingly large portion of the population (to give an example, I totally learnt the hard way that I do not suit Instagram eyebrows). That’s why, despite months of gawking at pages of calligraphy and daily tasks organised into immaculately drawn boxes, I procrastinated on starting a bullet journal.

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I feared regular journaling would become a waste of time without delivering any tangle benefits – after all, I am not too bad at organisation, and didn’t want to fix something that isn’t broken. I thought my Instagram was enough of an artistic outlet, and my blog – an ideal place to share my thoughts. So, what made me ask for my first bullet journal for Christmas and jump abroad the band wagon? Turns out, as with all occurrences throughout history (yes, I am convinced that Maria getting a bullet journal will be scrutinised by future academics and I am simply trying to facilitate their job), there are several reasons:

a) I want to spend less time on technology: at the moment, I rely on everything from Google Docs to various calendar apps to organise my life. While this gets the job done, I personally benefit from spending less time on digital devices, and find that physically writing stuff down helps cement tasks and intentions in my mind much more than typing.

b) I want to keep things in one place: to explain what I mean, at the moment I track the different aspects of my life in different documents and notebooks. The books I’ve read, the articles I wish to write, how much money I’ve spent… While I will keep this system because it allows me to explore these things in greater detain than an A5 spread, my bullet journal will provide an overview of my life at a glance, a place to jot down things before they escape my head. Plus, we all benefit from being concise on occasion, from focusing on the bigger picture as opposed to the finer details.

c) I want to overcome my fear of tracking thoughts, feelings and emotions: we all know that writing is therapeutic. But up until now, I have been writing as a form of distraction, not acceptance of how I actually feel. For example, if I am angry or upset, I will start doing an outline for an upcoming blog post or write a poem about a completely unrelated topic. I don’t think I have ever kept a diary for more than a couple of days. Honestly, my inhibition is a fear of saying something cheesy, and not having much to write because sometimes I struggle with articulating my emotions in the first place. However, in the absence of deeper sentiments to express, it doesn’t hurt to write an outline of my day before bed, and if being cheesy anywhere is acceptable, it is in a private journal firmly hidden from the public’s eyeshot.

d) Many moments in life are elusive, and with time seeming to move exceptionally fast as of recent, it is easy to forget the little things that happen on a day-to-day basis, the ones which make you smile before dissolving into the monotony of our daily routines. Sometimes, it’s difficult to remember anything beyond the most significant of events. In December 2018, however, I want to be able to recall what made each month special and relive the moments I have managed to capture from each day/week.

Needless to say, I was ecstatic to discover this beautiful bullet journal from Leuchtturm 1917 among my Christmas presents and used it to pass the time while my delicious lentil and mushroom pie was baking away. And since then, I have been obsessed, creating a new board on my Pinterest to collect all of the wonderful ideas I want to implement into my pages throughout the year. What I adore the most is just how much you can personalise your journal. We all live vastly different lives, have vastly different aesthetic tastes, and we can tailor our bullet journal spreads to our preferences as much as we like. Thus, if you are new to this as I am, I encourage you to ponder deeply about what exactly you want to derive from journaling: is it organisation, a therapeutic effect, a place to keep track of thoughts and memories? What are the significant components of your life: your fitness journey, your blog, your career? Be flexible, and keep in mind that these may change in accordance with the constant meander of life.

(Just to give an example: I know I am a sensible spender, reserving not much more than a minute corner to track my expenditure, yet if you are someone who wishes to tighten their spending habits, setting up a detailed expense tracker may be beneficial.)

To save me from further rambling, let’s have a look at my bullet journal:

January Bullet Journal

Monthly bullet journal spread

Continue reading “My January Bullet Journal Setup”

The Ultimate Guide to Setting New Year’s Resolutions

I could write a dramatic account of fireworks blazing through the sky, cheers and the champagne glasses of my friends colliding as the clock strikes midnight. However, a much more realistic New Year’s Eve scenario in the life of Maria is one in which the protagonist is laying in bed, not wanting to miss the onset of 2018, while longing for the magical hour when it is (more or less) socially acceptable to go to sleep on that particular night.

New Year's Resolutions

Regardless of how you wish to enter 2018, the start of a new year is always monumental. On the first of January, we awaken feeling the same, but fundamentally altered at the same time. It is enshrined in our society as a turning point, as the sort of fresh start a new week or month are incapable of delivering, a blank canvas from which we, as humanity, can work to create a better joint experience for us all. The previous year’s misfortunes are left behind and we hope the upcoming twelve months will feature more ups than downs. Of course, this is often subverted as time as merely a social construct and a shift from one year to the next will not in itself stop bad things from happening, but my point is that New Years Eve holds immense symbolic value in all of our minds.

Undoubtedly, many of us have been writing down New Year’s resolutions over the last few weeks – a process which will intensify now that the pressures of Christmas are over. Me personally? Yes and no. There are certain personal things I wish to work on in the upcoming year (concerning, for the most part, my emotional wellbeing and habits) that I’ve been procrastinating on because I know I will have to fundamentally alter my mindset to tackle them. However, many of my goals are very ‘long term’ and my individual preference is reiterating them whenever the need arises, as opposed to waiting for a new year, and setting shorter term objectives on a monthly, weekly and daily basis. In addition to that, 2018 is the year I officially start university, meaning that as my life undergoes an upheaval so will the nature of the things I wish to achieve. Continue reading “The Ultimate Guide to Setting New Year’s Resolutions”

How to Work Out When You Don’t Have Time

I think we can all agree that December is a hectic time for many of us. On top of work and/or education, we have the added pressure of buying Christmas presents, attending Christmas parties, and if you are brave enough, sticking to a Blogmas schedule (I seriously applaud anyone who is brave enough to attempt it, you are the real MVP).

I’m in quite a fortunate position because the vast majority of my family members live in Russia and do not celebrate Christmas. I can focus on the enjoyable side of the holidays a bit more while taking it easy on my bank account. However, there have certainly been periods in my life – for example, when I was preparing for exams in May earlier this year – when I could not focus on anything other than a particular objective and ended up neglecting my exercise routine, which for me happens to be a vital form of self care.

Working out when busy

And by ‘neglecting my exercise routine’, I do not mean I went to the gym five times a week as opposed to six. I literally did not move from my chair for a wholesome twenty days except for walking to and from the train station, which is a decision that I lived to regret: finding some spare moments each day to get in physical activity would have only boosted my productivity, without being the dreaded waste of time I feared it would become. Moreover, when I eventually returned to the gym, my strength and endurance had decreased by at least a third, and I could not perform even the most basic exercises without a pain in my joints. Continue reading “How to Work Out When You Don’t Have Time”

The Constraints of the Online World

Before we jump into this blog post, I would just like to apologise once again for my absence. I’ve had an unexpectedly busy couple of weeks and have had no time to sit down, write posts and edit photos, but now that my schedule is much more flexible I am excited to not only get back to posting on a regular basis, but also catching up with all of your blogs!

Blogging niche

Anyway, while I have been away I thought a lot about blogging and where I want my blog to go in the future, as well as some of the things that many bloggers struggle with despite all of the positives that come out of being in this community. One of these struggles, and one of the questions every blogger undoubtedly asks themselves, is whether or not to have a niche.

Continue reading “The Constraints of the Online World”

Five Reasons to Take a Break From The Internet

While you’ll see me roll my eyes and sigh like a conservative old man at certain aspects of millennial culture, the internet is not one of them. I will proudly tell anyone that I love the internet. And not just because it’s full of memes and reassures you that at any point, you are not alone in your existential crises. The internet has created millions of opportunities for everyone since its conception – to start a business, meet other people, have a creative space to share their skills and talents.

For example, take blogging. I think it’s super cool how we can share our opinions and start conversations, all while allowing other people to capitalise on our knowledge through tutorials, recipes, guides. Moreover, connecting with likeminded individuals across the world would be much slower if communication was still done via messenger on horseback: the world is faster and more immediate on the internet. While this isn’t for everyone, I love it in moderation and thrive in an environment where everything is evolving and constantly moving forward. Moreover, as much as people like to separate the internet from the ‘real world’, they are becoming increasingly interconnected and influence each other on a daily basis, often for better rather than for worse (I mean, I highly doubt delicious vegan cafes would be popping up all over the place had it not been for the world wide web allowing the vegan message to spread like wildfire, if you excuse the unoriginal simile).

Taking a break from social media

That being said, the online world has its drawbacks and from time to time, a break can benefit virtually all of us. Of course, there are people out these who depend on it to make a living, and whether you agree with such a career path or not, time off equates to less income. But in many cases, these people have found their thing and provided that they’re doing what they love, taking extensive breaks isn’t necessary except for in extenuating circumstances.

A couple of months ago, a girl I know said to me that when she goes on her annual holiday to France, she has no internet access for 2-3 weeks and simply hearing those words made my heart skip a beat because I couldn’t remember the last time I stayed offline for more than a couple of hours. For the reasons mentioned above, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that. The internet is amazing, and I don’t agree with people who blindly hate it just because it is unlike ‘the good old days’. However, there must be a balance with everything in life and spending too much time online can have negative consequences, right down to an addiction. We also cannot deny that among all of the self-help resources and innovative ways to find solace in times of hardship, there are unreasonable pressures on here which can make us feel overwhelmed and impact our mental health.

Why we should unplug

Internet detox

Taking an internet break doesn’t have to mean switching off for months and retreating into a cave or living in a forest (ironic because I am in a forest of sorts in these photographs, but that is entirely coincidental). In most cases, a weekend or a set amount of hours each day is all I need. So, for what reasons may such a break be beneficial? Continue reading “Five Reasons to Take a Break From The Internet”

Why and How I Avoid Procrastination

How ‘procrastination’ should be defined is something I’ve been thinking about a lot over these last couple of days. According to various online resources, it is the postponement of one task in favour of a less urgent, or a more enjoyable, activity. A blatant example is scrolling through twitter as a means of avoiding an essay which is due in a matter of hours, or watching ‘just one more episode’ of your favourite TV show when there are urgent work-related emails that need to be answered. While you value your long term goals, and a morsel of anxiety may sit at the back of your mind in regards to the consequences of not doing what needs to be done, but this is not enough to force your brain into prioritising long-term rewards over short-term gratification.

Beat procrastination

 

Some proponents of ‘hustle until you drop’ deem anything that is not contributing to your long term objectives, whether those are related to financial stability, fitness or moral fulfilment, a waste of time. Have you ever watched Netflix at any point in your life? You’re a lazy procrastinator. I’ve even seen someone give skincare the procrastination label. However, I have to disagree with this because frankly, we are not emotionless machines. Self-care is paramountly important. Entertainment exists for a reason – as humans, we need to enjoy ourselves on a regular basis, and set aside time to reap the benefits of all of our hard work. For sure, we have different staminas, and tolerate different workloads before we start to go crazy, but a lack of balance and overexertion will actually make you less productive and more prone to wasting time (I will return to this point later). Continue reading “Why and How I Avoid Procrastination”