Time Management Secrets Anyone Can Use

Having trouble focusing on what you really need to do? You’re not alone. Here are some of the best ideas to help you declutter your life and make way for big, creative boosts of productivity: 

1) If possible, only check your e-mail at designated times during the day.

2) Take a few minutes several times a day to clear your mind and refocus.

3) Make the most of to-do lists.

4) Try to schedule stretches of creative time throughout the day.

5) Say no to every meeting that isn’t truly necessary.

6) Avoid multitasking.

Read more.

Self-employed is the nature of things because who we are are not jobs, but artworks. The other option would be cooperation because of believing in/being inspired by another and dying to support their vision into fruition.

Productivity/Work Ethic/Busyness are factory working mentalities that BURN a person’s natural creativity and joy for life. People are not machines, nor should they be.

Even if you choose to take a job that has a boss, do so in full respect of yourself. Do it for your comfort (money), your desire to be of service (but not subservient), your joy of togetherness (take the job with the best people, not credentials). Always do it for you. Do not sell yourself. Being paid does not mean being owned.

What are you struggling with?

Hello there tumblr-world!  

I have been struggling, creatively.  It’s been harder for me to sit at my desk.  I’m searching for distractions (and perhaps it’s here I’m finding the biggest reserve of creativity!)  Something I try to do when I am mindful enough to do it is to help others when I feel I myself need help.  It’s amazing how these things can work.

I bet a lot of you followers of mine are creative types in one way or another.  What is it you’re struggling with right now?  What’s your biggest fear, biggest concern, biggest road-block?

I’ve made it a personal interest to find better ways to do things, and I’m constantly experimenting with various tools and methods to help me organize my time and to stay on top of my projects and my life and such.

I’m pretty much a whore for productivity, okay. Fight me.

One of the tools that really stood out to me (and managed to worm its way into my daily life) is Ryder Carroll’s bullet journaling system.

I fell in love with its simplicity and its emphasis on rapid logging (which allows its users to quickly capture and parse data)–perfect for the average person who has a lot on their plate and needs a quick and efficient way to remember things.

Why I Can’t Do Mainstream Studyblr

Most of the journals I’ve seen in the studyblr community are kawaii as hell, complete with a rainbow of Sharpie/Staedtler/Stabilo/Muji/Pilot fineliners, washi tapes, pastel-colored highlighters, and sticky notes of various shapes and sizes.

Inspired by this creativity, I tested it out myself, foolishly thinking that the ‘kawaii pages’ will be enough to motivate me. Long story short, the experiment ended a failure. Why? I realized that I put more time making my planner cute than getting actual productive work done. (I like art, okay? If I treat something as art, you can bet your entire hoo-ha that I’ll put time and effort into it.) 

It completely defeated the purpose for me, so I quit it with the kawaii schtick and moved on.

Note: I am not admonishing people who use this system, especially if it’s something that works for them. If you’re like me and aforementioned system doesn’t do it for you, maybe you can pick up some inspiration from this post.

I cannot completely forego aesthetics, though. Perhaps it’s my shameless vanity as an artist, but I am dead set on making sure my journal is simultaneously visually hella whilst being completely practical.

Hence, I went for the minimalist route, because there’s a certain thing about neatness and simplicity that makes stuff something special. I’ve talked about my brand of minimalism in this post if you’re interested. Essentially, I’ve pared down all of my tools and accessories to the meaningful things I actually need and use on a daily basis.

Here’s how I go about it.

One Notebook to Rule them All

Just one, so that every single note or task list or idea I should never for get is in one damn place–one that I check often–so ‘forgetting where I put it’ or ‘losing it in the void’ is no longer a valid excuse. No tedious/fancy organizational thing going on here, soldier.

To be honest, any notebook will do the job, but I’m as picky with notebooks as I am with sketchbooks and nothing quite fit my needs and tastes better than a hardcover pocket Moleskine with squared pages. (My local bookstore didn’t carry a LEUCHTTURM1917 with the same specs. Boo. D:)

I got this specific notebook for the following reasons:

  • Simple hardcovers are super sexy and sleek. 
  • Squared pages give me a really strong ‘engineering vibe’ because they’re often used for field notes. They make it unbelievably easy to keep your straight lines relatively straight (which is super helpful when I’m drawing out ideas that involve diagrams). I just love squared pages, okay. Nothing else can compare.
  • Since it’s pocket-sized, it’s super portable and the pages are very easy to fill up; and in my opinion, a full page instantly looks pretty. Its small size makes it a little harder to fish out of your purse, though.

Moleskines are definitely one of those items that scream rich and upperclass, but hear me out–the last time I bought a cheap squared notebook (from my previous bullet journal posts here and here–and at this point, you guys should have an idea about how much I love squared notebooks), the shitty binding and cover stressed me out on so many levels. The damn thing was literally falling apart two months into the semester. 

After which, I saved a pretty penny for this dumb notebook (which I affectionately named Fuzzy), and the rest is history. 

(I’ll talk about the nature of things I write in a minute.)

Marking Implements

These are essentially all the writing tools in my pencil pouch. It’s not practical for me to carry rainbows of fineliners and sticky notes because the large amount of color options overwhelm me. (Plus, my pages usually become a convoluted mess of colors, and those irk me to no end.)

 I use the following:

  • 5mm Joy Environmental Protection Correction Tape for obvious purposes.
  • 0.5mm Muji Gel Pen (Orange) for extra notes and a nice pop of color.
  • 0.4mm Pilot G-Tec (Blue) for regular notes.
  • 0.2mm Mitsubishi Uni Pin (Black) for headings.

As you can see, I adhere to a very strict color scheme. I use a pair of complementary colors for visual interest and one neutral color to balance things out.

This ensures that my journal pages look relatively dapper without additional embellishments.

If I were to go by the absolute essential though (because I’m attempting to be a minimalist here), I’d only bring the blue pen–but the lack of color and styling options will make me absolutely miserable, so I’d rather not.

Devious Journal Entries

I use a very simple system to identify between data–checkboxes for tasks and bullets for notes–and that’s it. Otherwise, I’ve found that the simple work becomes too complex and tedious and it completely defeats the purpose of rapid logging.

I don’t have an index so far, and I didn’t put a strict legend for my identifiers. Here’s what I do, though:

  • If I complete a task, I (diagonally) hatch the checkbox completely. 
  • If there’s progress but it’s not quite done yet, I hatch half of the checkbox. 
  • Migrated items have orange arrows protruding from them. 
  • I strike out irrelevant tasks.

Apart from daily to-do lists, I also pen in reflections and ideas. Since it’s very small and lightweight, I carry this notebook everywhere and it’s become my compact ‘inbox-and-sort-and-tackle’ tool.

In above picture, you can see my little sketch of my idea of a general layout for my blog posts. I also have an idea on how I want my tumblr theme to look like–and I actually managed to achieve it, hehe. 

As you can see, I curse a lot. I also doodle sometimes.

I keep fancy letterings and doodles to a minimum, though. I always remind myself that my bullet journal is not my sketchbook, and my pages don’t have to look like a masterpiece of typographic awesome. I end up slipping up sometimes because drawing makes me feel awesome, but I try not to make it a habit.

I keep a simple monthly calendar (the exact same thing Ryder Carroll does) because it gives me a good enough overview of the things I need to keep on top of.

That’s it! 

I hope you picked up something useful from this post. Drop me a line if you’ve got any questions/ideas/comments for me. Also, feel free to show me how you do your bullet journal by mentioning/tagging me in your post–I’d love to see! 

(人^ ∀ ^) ✿

Top 5 apps for studying with a Mac

Since I got a couple of messages asking if I could recommend some apps that are useful for studying and organisation, I decided to put together a top five of apps that help me with studying on my MacBook.

Disclaimer: For most of my studying and organisation I rely on good old pen and paper, so this list will consist only of apps I’ve found useful. If anyone would like a post on my paper-based organising methods, feel free to ask!

1. Dropbox

Dropbox is without a doubt the most important app I use on my Mac. It’s a cloud app that lets you access your stuff from anywhere with an internet connection. You get 2GB space for free, and when you install it on your computer, it works as any regular folder.

This is what mine looks like. As you see, I have a bunch of folders in which I organise all of the files that are university-related, such as my courses, but also grad school applications I’m working on, books I have on my computer, etcetera. The nice thing about Dropbox is that if I want to print a paper in the library, I don’t have to email it to myself, but I can just log in on, and there’s my paper! And if I’m working on something with others (such as the Graduate Journal in the image), it’s super easy to share the folder, so we can add and edit files in it together. Really, this app just makes my life so much easier. Download it here for free.

2. Caffeine

If you’re like me, and spend long hours hoping that if you stare at your screen hard enough, you might figure out what this author means, you know the frustration of having your screen go black because your computer probably thinks you fell asleep. Fear not, fellow studyblrs, because we have Caffeine. Yes, I know that the black goodness has been of much help during those all-nighters (and, let’s be real, any other time as well), but I’m talking about the Caffeine app, an app that keeps your screen awake, while you try to keep yourself awake. Download it here for free.

3. SelfControl

Studyblrs are great, but sometimes I find myself distracted by pictures of study setups rather than inspired to study. Those are the times I turn on SelfControl, an app that blocks all of the websites you add to the block list for however long you want (up to 24 hours), and once blocked, there is no way around it. There are a couple of browser apps that block websites in browsers, but procrastinating me will just open the distracting websites in another browser. That’s not possible with SelfControl. And that’s why this simple app is amazing and has saved my life so many times already. Download it here for free.

4. PomodoroOne / TeamViz Pomodoro

I often use the Pomodoro Technique to make big, daunting tasks more manageable, because it requires you to focus for 25 minutes and then take a 5 minute break, in which you can get up, move around, and stretch. (I like to do things like folding laundry during my breaks: this way I get my blood flowing again and clean up at the same time!). Although I have an adorable cupcake timer, I like both the PomodoroOne and TeamViz’ pomodoro app as timers for when I’m studying in public (people don’t usually appreciate my loud timer going off in the library). Each app has its qualities, so I tend to switch around between them. PomodoroOne has a nice and simple interface: it’s just a clock counting down however long you want your pomodoro’s to be, and it keeps stats of how many pomodoros you managed to do in the past two weeks. 

TeamViz’ app is a little more extensive: it combines the Get Things Done method with a pomodoro timer, so you can list your tasks, add them to Today’s Tasks, and work through them with the pomodoro timer. When the timer is running, you can also add unplanned tasks, which is great if you - like me - have about a billion things you suddenly remember when you really have to focus. Put them on your unplanned task list and you can do them later!

Get TeamViz’ pomodoro app here for free, and PomodoroOne here, also for free.

5. Coffitivity

Coffitivity is the perfect app for anyone who can’t stand silence when studying. I like to listen to University Undertones, one of the three background murmurs the app provides, while I’m also playing music, to create the stimulating ambiance of a cafe without the overpriced lattes. Get it (or play it) here for free.

BONUS: Microsoft Word or Pages?

Personally, I use Word, and as a student I bought it with a pretty steep discount at the time (this is ages ago, so I really don’t remember how much it was, sorry). It’s functional, and of course it’s nice that basically the whole world uses Word. However, if I had to make the same decision right now, I would probably try out Apple’s Pages first - from what I’ve read it does everything Word can do but in a much more user-friendly way. On top of that it seems to be less prone to freezing (which Word always does at exactly the moment it’s not supposed to do!). Still, I don’t have any experience with Pages, so I can’t give a definite advise.

Do any of my followers have experience with Pages that they’d like to share?

Things You Should Do At The Start Of Every Work Day

The first few hours of the work day can have a significant effect on your level of productivity —so it’s important you have a morning routine that sets you up for success:

1) Arrive on time.

2) Eat a proper breakfast.

3) Organize your day.

4) Check in with your colleagues.

5) Remind yourself of your core purpose at work.

6) Place important calls and send urgent e-mails.

7) Take advantage of your cleared mind.

8) Mix things up from time to time.

9) Plan a mid-morning break.

Read more.

First printable!
Heyyyyy!  Since this semester is coming to an end, and the new semester is going to start up in a while I wanted to  share my ‘Semester Prep’ checklist with you guys!  Doing all this stuff gets me super motivated and organized for the upcoming semester and sets me up for success *muscle emoji*.   
I didn’t outline absolutely everything (ex. what pens I get, or the binders or notebooks I use), but this is the jist of it!  
Check out my dropbox for the printable pdf! 

How you wake up each day and your morning routine (or lack thereof) dramatically affects your levels of success in every single area of your life. Focused, productive, successful mornings generate focused, productive, successful days—which inevitably create a successful life… By simply changing the way you wake up in the morning, you can transform any area of your life, faster than you ever thought possible.
—  Hal Elrod from The Miracle Morning