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Going Off Track in a Routine

Look, it happens ok?

To all of us who are trying to get a routine started, or form a habit, beat something unhelpful we’ve been landed with, or just get our shit together and do a bit better in our lives.

We all go off track at times.

As I’m writing this, it’s a Monday – the start of a new week, and oh, I had great plans and goals and aims for getting the best out of my Monday morning. I really did. I always do.

But this morning I remembered I’d to make a trip in to my Mam’s and feed our cat (my cat who can’t live with me currently and so has been kindly adopted by my Mammy) as she was away and I wasn’t sure what time she’d be home later.

Ordinarily, I would have left the feeding on the day of return, but I’m feeling a bit of the guilts coz I completely forgot to go in on Saturday, and when I arrived on Sunday she was in a huff with me. So, I thought I’d earn some extra brownie points, though of course it doesn’t work that way. Cat doesn’t give a fuck how hard I try to make it up to her.

I get kind of fixated on ideas that revolve around my inadequacies – perceived or real – and making up for them. It’s a problem, but sometimes there’s an easy fix, and I’ll make sure to take it. Therefore, it was important that the cat got fed this morning as well.

Well.

Neither of our alarms went off, and it was 8.45am before I woke up, 9am before I woke Jon. He hopped up and showered while I drank my water, took meds and ate my energy bar, and then read. FYI, this was part of today’s ‘professional mastery’ input – I’m currently revisiting Pagan Portals – Irish Paganism: Reconstructing Irish Polytheism, by Morgan Daimler (you get in on Amazon.comor Amazon.co.uk). I never really got the whole Reconstructionism thing in the States, and I want to try and figure out if that’s what I’ve been doing, as my spirituality has grown organically here in Ireland. I’ll let ye know.

Then I showered, and he went downstairs to read and get some breakfast. His choice today was Irish Customs and Beliefs, by Kevin Danaher (you can get it on Amazon.com here, or Amazon.co.uk here).

So far, so good, besides the sleeping in blip. We did a meditation session together through the Calm app, and then we headed out to Tramore to feed the cat. I plugged in my earphones and started to catch up on the weekly check-in videos from the students on my Mórrígan 6 month Intensive Programme, and then had to stop and take a breath as they were particularly moving and I wanted to focus fully on them when I got home.

Fed the cat. She was glad of the food, but didn’t care otherwise. Jon invited me for coffee, and even suggested popping home first for my bullet journal as I love a little coffee shop planning session, so I do.

By the time we got home though, my anxiety had kicked in about the amount I had to do today, and my schedule being off track, so we decided to rain-check our coffee shop treat mini date, regretfully.

I then found I wasn’t feeling right, at all. Very unsettled and out of sorts and it was only 11.30am. I needed to get back on track, and that’s where the routine kicks in. Fuck what time it was, just finish the morning routine, and ease back into the day. I went through my daily devotional, physio exercises, had some carbs and watered my garden while I listened to more of my current audiobook – The $100 Startup: Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love and Work Better To Live More, by Chris Guillebeau (you can get it on Amazon.com here, or Amazon.co.uk here).

After spending the time and energy to focus on my students’ videos, I recorded one of my own in response to them, and that was another mental tick of feeling better and not letting people down. Time to hit the office… at 2.30pm.

Sitting down at the desk, I went through a very quick affirmation and visualisation, and had a little catch up on tasks and events to reset my brain to reassure myself I wasn’t missing or skipping anything else. Then I did a simple task list for the rest of the day (6 items only)… and mentally allowed myself the grace of coming back to work after dinner if I need to, but also the understanding that I don’t have to if I don’t want to.

Nobody is going to die if those tasks don’t get done, or get moved to a different day. But I might, if I don’t take care of myself.

All that being done, I drank more water, and thanked Jon a little tearily for taking care of me and understanding me, when he brought me the coffee I hadn’t had. He knows that’s a part of my routine too (I have one a day) and that it might help with the ‘getting back on track’.

Writing this is the second item on the task list for today. First I do the daily creative things – book words is number one, then this as I quite enjoy it so it makes for an easy ‘win’, then a keyword based article as content marketing for the new meditation site/business niche I’m building is number three.

After that comes the 2 tasks that are scheduled to happen on Mondays, currently that’s writing and editing content for my 14 week Irish Magic Course. I have the bones of it written as a book I decided not to publish as a book, but instead have been adapting as a self-study email course. Wednesday is the weekly deadline to make sure those lessons are edited and ready to go, as this is the first run through of the course and the first student signed up on a Wednesday, so she receives her lessons every 7 days after that.

Yes, I pre-sell stuff and then create or improve it as I go. It makes for very clear and unavoidable deadlines, to ensure I stay ahead of myself and the work gets done. All of my classes and courses are in a constant state of editing and updating, with me usually only a few steps in front of the promises I must keep!

I’m back on track now, to some extent, and feeling a lot better that I haven’t let myself (or anyone else) down today. Lessons learned, though I’m sure I’ll need to keep re-learning these particular ones.  

First mistake was, I hadn’t put it onto my week planner to feed the cat. If it’s not written down it doesn’t exist for me.

Second, I didn’t set myself up on Sunday for the day – and the week – ahead. I got caught up yesterday in working on my current obsessive project – the guided meditation journeys website – and my usual Sunday stuff didn’t get done. We’ve no meal plan set out, I didn’t remember that the monthly Pagan moot I run is happening this Wednesday until my friend Orlagh texted me about it mid-morning, and I don’t have a weekly spread done in my journal.

What I did right though was realised I was off track, paused and took a breath before I spiralled, and just reverted to the routine. Slotted in where I’d left off, and just carried on from there, regardless of what the physical time was.

The true beauty and usefulness of having a good plan, is that it’s always there for you, telling you what you can do next.

You don’t have to worry about the big picture, or fix all your problems immediately. Just pick up the plan, put your trust in that, and take the next step. Then the next.

The Sleeping Cat

Unless you’re a cat. Then you don’t have to take any steps.

Catch you tomorrow,

Lora x

 

PS

Don’t forget the links to books I share are ALWAYS my personal resource recommendations, but are also sometimes affiliate links if you want to head over and get a copy for yourself. It doesn’t affect you in the slightest, or cost you anything, but I get a few cents kickback if you buy. I’m not going to remind ye of this every time now, but I want to be crystal clear and accountable!

My Morning Routine

I love my morning routine though.

Yeah, even on the weekends.

It has been an absolute pain in the hoop to get INTO the routine, and I’m still figuring out the details and adapting as I go, but it just takes so much hassle out of my day, without me even having to think about it too hard.

Take showering for example. Changing states is difficult for me, going from dry to wet to dry, changing clothes, it all translates into my brain as hassle. It can take a lot to get me going, but if I’m going I sort of need to keep going, because historically I’ve been running on fuel that is trauma sourced and fed so the innate danger is that if I stop I won’t get up again.

Dramatic explosive changes I can do, but the gentle transitioning of getting in the shower is a constant struggle. Welcome, my friends, to the world of executive dysfunction.

“Properly taking care of yourself seems comparable to running a marathon and a half. Maybe you don’t even want to take care of yourself. Maybe you just want to wither away. Either way, this is day three without a shower, and the only reason you’ve eaten anything is because junk food is cheap, and there sure is a hell of a lot of it in your room.”

[Quote from here, but it’s not a great article tbh]

There’s not a huge amount of information available on it, and what’s there is often taken from different contexts.

But the upshot of all of this is that to get moving in the morning, I need to not be making choices or decisions. I need a routine that means I just get moving and stay moving through it without having to think too much. That takes a trigger, and then clear steps to follow.

Here’s how I do it.

My Morning Routine

Sometimes I wake before the alarm, and I have my tablet to hand with eBooks on there, and to be able to check the time because my phone is at the end of the bed, but no Facebook. I can check email on there to make sure there’s nothing super urgent, and to see if I made any money overnight… but I don’t get into reading them. I’ll usually take a look at online banking too, and do any transfers or bill paying that’s due that day. If I woke a good bit before the alarm, I’ll do my morning professional reading, or meditation in here, depending what I’m in the mood for.  

8am – Alarm goes off, but phone is at the end of the bed out of reach. So, I have to get up to turn it off. Then I sit on side of bed and drink some water (I make sure I bring a bottle or glass with me the night before), eat an energy bar (just dates and nuts, from Aldi – no sugar), take my meds, look out the window for a while to collect my thoughts. Bathroom time; I use the loo, and brush my teeth. I’m awake now.

Showering. I turn on the bluetooth speaker and put on the business audiobook or podcast I’m currently listening too. Right now it’s The $100 Startup: Fire Your Boss, Do What You Love and Work Better To Live More, by Chris Guillebeau (you can get it on Amazon.com here, or Amazon.co.uk here). I focus on that, letting the ideas and interest bits fire off in my brain, to distract myself from having to shower. Get clean, get dry, get dressed.

I leave the biz audio on, grab my bullet journal and bits from the bedroom, and head downstairs. I drink more water, let the dog out, check on my garden, and make a green smoothie from a bag of spinach I keep in the fridge, a fresh banana, and whatever frozen smoothie mix is in the freezer. I’ll either fill the watering can a billion times to water the garden while I’m drinking this, still listening to the audio as I go, or I’ll sit outside (inside if it’s lashing, but even then I might stand under the tree a while). I’ll usually check WhatsApp messages at this point and say the daily hellos to my family, make sure nobody has died in the nighttime. Things like that.

When I’m done, I head into the sitting room where we keep our altar space, turn off the audio stuff, and I’ll say good morning to the Mórrígan. This could be anything from beating a rhythm on the Bodhrán drum, to making an offering of alcohol or incense or berries from the garden, to just saying a prayer silently or aloud. But it does always involve lighting a small votive candle on her altar and leaving some silent space for her to say good morning back. Or whatever the fuck she wants to communicate to me that day… though many days she is silent.

Then I turn on the Calm app and do the daily meditation, or choose one from the menu themes. I’m curious to try the Winnie The Pooh meditations but haven’t got there yet. Maybe next week. After that the biz audio often goes back on, or professional development (ie Irish heritage, folklore or mythology) audio, but it’s more difficult to get good versions of things I want to study on audio, so I usually have to read those myself.

I’m enjoying Morpheus Ravenna’s video classes on the Mórrígan though, and Story Archaeology has a wealth of episodes I listen to time and again, so they’ll often get slotted in there.

Because it’s time for my physio exercises! Between the dodgy knee and the persistent pain in my shoulder, I’ve a lot to be strengthening up here, and I keep the hand weights weights, roller, and stretchy elastic tension thingy in the room ready to go. If I’m feeling particularly energetic I might throw in a few stomach crunches here as well, but that’s a new thing.

If I didn’t get to read professional development stuff here, I’ll do that at this point – a chapter of a book, a section of an academic paper. It doesn’t take too long, and I might make a few notes to get the hands warmed up for the next stage.

Office time. I’ll refill my water on the way through (I’ve probably put about a litre into me at this point, but I need at least 3 litres every day) and go sit at my desk. I open the bullet journal and either read aloud or rewrite some affirmations, and spend a few minutes visualising what I’m telling myself. Then I turn to the next available page and write the day and date at the top, and check back through my monthly/master tasks and events, and my weeklies, to make sure I’ve not missed anything.

This is that training your brain to trust the system thing, making space to regularly go back and regroup or gather up any loose ends, and putting them where they need to be on a plan of action.

Then I’ll write out the tasks for the day, working round any planned events, and slotting it all in. If there’s a lot, I take a few minutes to prioritise what HAS to get done or what would be nice to get done, and then I might even number them in order of which I want or need to do first.

All of that usually takes me about 2 hours, and I am ready to start writing by 10am. I begin with my biggest project, currently my book on Pagan Priesthood, and get the daily word count for that done while I’m fresh and still have will power. (We’ll have a look at decision fatigue another day!)

My first break usually happens round 11.30 or 12 noon when I’m done that. I get some coffee and carbs into me at that point, and allow myself a small Facebook check in. Gotta watch this addictive nature round things that are designed to addict me!

I’ve developed this routine over YEARS mind you. I was doing bits and pieces of it at different points through my whole life, but it’s only in the last year or so that ‘ve put it all together and got in the rhythm of it like this.

So if you’re starting off, just pick one thing. And do it tomorrow. Keep doing it every day until you’re used to it and you don’t have to remind yourself to do it. Until it becomes something you rely on rather than something of a chore or a hassle.

What’s the one small change you could make tomorrow to begin or improve your own morning routine, to make your day a little better?

We’re a few days in now, so I’d love some feedback. Is this useful? Any questions? Anything I’ve mentioned that you’d like me to expand on or just talk more about?

Let me know in the comments below!

 

Lora x

 

PS

Don’t forget the links to books I share are ALWAYS my personal resource recommendations, but are also sometimes affiliate links if you want to head over and get a copy for yourself. It doesn’t affect you in the slightest, or cost you anything, but I get a few cents kickback if you buy. I’m not going to remind ye of this every time now, but I want to be crystal clear and accountable!

Bullet Journal Monthly Tasks

As I’m writing this… it’s the weekend!

What do we do on the weekends?

More Work!

Ok, so it’s an ongoing mission for me to try and take Sundays off, and to finish work around 6 but definitely before 7pm every evening.

I have varying levels of success with this mission, hence the ‘ongoing’ part. Like, I do know the importance of this. If I don’t take regular breaks and rest times the quality of my work definitely takes a dive… and yeah, there’s all that health stuff too.

There’s an article that says some trauma survivors cope by overworking – basically that hypervigilance and an inability to relax without guilt may lead some people to blunt their emotions through work. You can read the article here.

Yup. That sounds like me.

I was left with a whole pile of ‘not good enough’ bullshit that at first led to severe depression and apathy (I still suffer from cope with food and self-care apathy particularly, and huge reams of executive dysfunction, which is basically an overwhelming ‘freeze’ response in the ‘fight flight freeze’ behaviour pattern).

But when I was a single mammy and had to provide for my babies and their entire future, something kicked in (I think my deity but definitely my spirituality at least, had a foot in the kicking) and I started to WORK.

At first I was working for other folk and the community; I got a taste for it and learned loads. Then I began to work for myself and my family, as described yesterday with the heritage centre management job. Now, I work for myself and my family, AS WELL as taking care of other folk and my community through the work I do. This is the best.

I am however, a little addicted.

There’s so many things I want to get done! So many new ideas, inspirations from books and podcasts I read or listen to, and solutions to problems I can see, popping into my head every single day.

How do I handle all this? Why, my trusty Bujo of course!

Everything gets written down. Everything.

And once it’s in there, I have a process where I review all my notes at the end of each month and figure out what ideas I’ve had are viable, and which ones I want to prioritise, or put on the long finger. When I start a new bullet journal, one of the things I transfer is a ‘long finger list’ of viable ideas I’ve had so they stay current and accessible month by month.Monthly Tasks

We talking about getting started with a bullet journal, and we got as far as the future log, and setting up the monthly page, right?

A little more info on each month so. We looked at keeping track of all your events last time, let’s start to look at tasks now.

Bullet Journal Monthly Tasks

I find it helpful to keep a ‘master task list’ for the months’ work – all the regular shit I absolutely have to get done every single month. Those are the things I slot into my specific month’s calendar and my weekly task lists first, so that I can spread them out evenly and not bust myself open all in one week, and so that any space I have left can be filled with the stuff that comes up on the fly, or is lingering/looming from old to do lists.

Keeping one massive to do list is NEVER going to work. Honestly it just overwhelms you.

If it’s something on the monthly master list that has to happen every week or a set number of times per month, then I’ll either write ‘4x Task Name’, or put little boxes beside the task to the amount of times it has to happen. Eg: Task Name  __ __ __ __

You basically have 2 options when you’re tracking tasks, and they’re both worthwhile, or you can use a combination.

Option 1: A ‘To Do’ List

It’s as described really. Write down all the shit you have to do, then tick/X it off, or fill in the check box, when you’ve done it.

Option 2: A ‘Done’ List

This is where you track everything you’ve done, as you finish it. This can be really helpful for those ‘not good enough’ type feelings – reviewing what you’ve actually accomplished. Or it can help give you an honest look at how you’re spending your time, and where you could make some changes to get your work done more efficiently.

Personally, I’m a combo kinda person, and it changes up depending on what I need in that time.

So I have my monthly master task list (I write this out  – and do any necessary revision – at the start of each new Journal), then my monthly calendar page gets used to plan/track events, appointments, bills due and such, with some space for that month’s goals, and any tasks that are specific to that month.

From there I keep a weekly page which is where I put any upcoming events from the future log or the monthly spread, and also things I’d like to do on each day. I sometimes make a plan for what I’m going to do to relax that evening, to try and encourage myself to look forward to the recreation stuff and to make sure my brain is getting the message that this is just as important as the work stuff. We’ll look more in depth at weeklies as we go.

Then in my daily pages, I might do a time plan for the day and then track what I actually do in each time slot, to see where I’m having blips or getting distracted. Or if I’m feeling overwhelmed or down on myself, I just keep a straight up ‘things I’ve done’ list as I go through the day.

But look, speaking of overwhelm… I know this sounds like a lot.

Basically for now, just make sure your future log has been updated, and your monthly calendar page is running right.

You could try writing down a thing you did each day that you’re proud of, or really enjoyed.

Now, turn to a fresh new page, and begin to write out your monthly master task list. First, just jot down EVERYTHING you can think of. Take a brain dump. Then take a break, and come back to it and add more.

You can do it for work or personal stuff, or a combination of both. You make the rules here, and remember, it’s supposed to suit you and work for you.

Then, go through the brain dump task list, and list out just the recurring or regular monthly things.  And there you go – master task list.

Now you can pull from that and slot some tasks into your monthly calendar. But go easy on yourself, and be realistic about what you have the time and space to get done.

If there’s too many tasks and not enough time… don’t worry. You’ll get on top of it better next month. You’re getting a system going which can handle all of this much better.

For now, just prioritise, and do the best you can with the time you have.

And I’ll talk to you again soon.

Lora x

 


If you’d like some support in setting up a brand new Bullet Journal, you can take our Beginners Class Here!

(Some of) My Work History

I’m writing this early but I don’t know when it will get posted, as today is a client day and I’m away to the boutique for 10am.

I’m down to about 3 of these a month now, which is great for focus on all the other work I do. But I do like to keep my hand in within standard work environments, as it used to be the whole of my business when I first went out on my own.

A bit of background, for those who are not familiar…

For about a decade, I was a tour guide, and Heritage Centre Manager, at the Rathcroghan Royal Complex in County Roscommon, Ireland. In my time there, I moved it from a small local community business to beginning to take it’s rightful position as an internationally recognised World Heritage Site. Since I left, things have reverted to a little more of a local focus, but hey, not my circus, not my monkeys. Anymore.

As a community enterprise manager, I was very involved within my county, and volunteered – later winning a business development contract – to support other small to medium enterprises with their marketing, particularly around copywriting and information management.

I was already a published author and journalist. My first paid newspaper series ran in 2001, and my first book was written in 2003, then traditionally published in 2004, when I was just 25. The heritage job took a lot of my time and resources, and I had left my severely dysfunctional marriage in 2006, with 3 children aged 1yo, 5yo and 6yo.

I tipped away at a book project in fits and starts (Rathcroghan: A Journey, available now from Eel & Otter Press), but it wasn’t until 2013 that I got a boot up the hole to get back to writing properly, and wrote my second book ‘A Practical Guide to Irish Spirituality’ (Wolfpack Publishers, currently in reprint with Eel & Otter Press) in 3 months, while working the full time management job.

So. That’s a thing I did back then.

That was also the year I had a severe cervical cancer scare, and spent a large part of undergoing a mental and physical breakdown, due largely to previous relationship and custody issues.

I was 35.

The upshot of all of this was that I got signed off the management job by my doctor, who sort of snuck it on me by convincing me to take 2 weeks, then another 2. She knew I’d never just up and leave everyone in the lurch, but as she put it; “I don’t see what else can give, and something has GOT to give.”

She was the first person to spot the severe anxiety and C-PTSD symptoms of long term abuse.

“You’ve been in constant ‘warrior mode’ for years”, she told me, “you can’t carry on like this, your system will just crash”.

With a month’s distance on the pressures of the day job, I retreated to the security of the bookshop in which we lived, and began to think about starting a freelance writing business. I was able to take longer term sick leave on a mental health basis, and get a small stipend from the state from all those taxes I’d paid them, which cushioned some of the nerves.

And I began to write full time.

That business bloomed, and I transitioned from that to this business model… but sure we can get into all that another day. I gotta go to work!

Lora x

Daily Meditation

So I practice at least a simple meditation technique every day.

Or at least, I try to. It can be anything from a 20-30 minute Guided Journey, down to one single minute of focused mindful breathing.

A lot of the work I do, both personally spiritual and professional, is about Guided Meditation, or rather, Guided Journeys. If you’re not familiar, meditation is an umbrella term for any number of techniques or mental/physical exercises which you might engage in (like concentration on your breathing or repeating an affirmation, or a mantra).

We do this for so many reasons, from the quest to achieve a heightened level of spiritual awareness, to calming anxiety and stress, to a desire for awareness and self regulation. A guided meditation is when someone takes you through a meditation with the sound of their voice and the ‘script’ they have prepared. Not all meditations are guided.

A Guided Journey is all of the above, but specifically the guide is bringing you to a certain time or place in the spiritual realms, or your own interior landscape, usually for a particular purpose, and then bringing you back again safely. That last one is the bit most Guided Journeys fail on, by the by.

I have a multitude of guided meditations and guided journeys that I have recorded – you can check some of that out at www.Guided-Meditation-Journeys.com. I’m in the process of setting up a whole system of Guided Meditation and Journeying in the Irish Otherworld there, in fact, through 3 different levels… but you know what’s weird? Listening to the sound of your own voice.

Yeah. So even though I have exactly what’s best for me right at my fingertips, I can’t really use my own stuff, except on specific ritual occasions sometimes.

Now, the other problem that comes along with this is, I’ve been Journeying for over 20 years, and I know what’s safe, what’s good practice, and what is shit and scary and no way stay the fuck out of my mental brainspace with that nonsense please and thank you.

That last category is the biggest by far.

So. Many. Scammers. Cashing. In.

The upshot of all this is that I have literally 2 things I can use for my own meditation practice. I mean, there might be more, but these 2 work for me so I’m sticking with them.

Firstly, for long form healing Journeys, my friend Izzy Swanson is amazing, and her work is particularly suited to my trauma healing. You can find her, and her Guided Journeys, on Patreon here – https://www.patreon.com/izzyswanson. I know her work is safe.

I do those Journeys as often as I can (they run deep, and I’m in a somewhat changing place with my own healing right now, so I have to be a bit careful about cracking myself open).

But for the everyday, I use an app on my phone called Calm. There’s a daily guided meditation that takes about 5 minutes, as well as a whole range of other stuff like topical meditations, sleep stories, and even wellness classes.

Your woman’s voice that does the dailies is quite pleasant, and there’s a different little inspirational bit included at the end which is sometimes – yeah whatever cool story – but sometimes strikes me quite deeply and leaves me thoughtful for the day.

And they show a little calendar at the end of your session to track how many times you use it, and your current ‘streak’, ie how many days in a row you’ve done the daily meditation.

So. That’s all grand.

I’d a good little streak going, like, 8 days? I mentioned that I struggle with self care and consistently doing the things I know are good for me, right? And then for some reason yesterday, I didn’t.

Then last night, I had TERRIBLE anxiety dreams, a really broken sleep, and woke up at 6am freaking out and cortisol spiked through the roof.

A little background – I lived for a very long time in a ‘fight, flight, freeze’ state, and my system got very used to that over the years. A lot of my current work is trying to unpack that and figure out a new baseline ‘normal’ for myself. We’ll get more into all this as we go I’m sure. I’m nothing if not an over-sharer.

I suffered for a long time both from an inability to get to sleep, but even more so (because sheer exhaustion often took over and knocked me out) from that whole shit show of waking from severe anxiety dreams at 2 or 3am and being unable to get back to sleep coz your brain and body think you’re in imminent life threatening danger.

I take a strong dose anti-anxiety medication every night to try and stop this, and it usually works out fine. I’m sleeping better than I ever did, but… how much of that is due to the meditation?

Like, a lot goes into this healing lark. There’s a lot of strands to unpick here, and reweave into something that has brighter colours and a less blurry pattern. It’s a constant process, and probably no one thing is ever going to be a magic bullet cure for it all and suddenly I’m ‘better’.

It’s interesting though, that there’s a correlation between stopping the daily calm practice, and getting a dose of decidedly not calm that very night. Right?

One to watch anyway.

Be well, and we’ll chat more next time.  

 

Lora x

 

  

What is a Bullet Journal?

Day 002 - interior of a bullet journal

Sample Future Log – from my 1st Bullet Journal

What is a bullet journal… and why did I start one?

I believe it was my good friend Cait who first introduced me to the concept, or a version thereof, as we sat over lunch in a hotel in Carlow one of the days.

She had a plain black covered notebook that had some sort of system going on, seeming to involve categories and shading the page edges so you could easily flick back to the section you needed.

Given my 20-notebooks-for-different-things-on-the-go-at-the-same-time habit up to that point, which even I knew was vastly unmanageable and wasting time and energy, not to mention paper, I was intrigued by the key concept.

ONE notebook.

In which to keep ALL THE THINGS.

And organised so you could find the things when you needed the things.

Intriguing indeed.

However, at that point I wasn’t ready for learning a new system. So I muddled on.

I honestly don’t remember where or how I came across the bullet journal specifically after that. But by the time I’d seen it around a few places, and figured the Bujo (that’s what we call it dahling, because shortening it to BJ just wasn’t working out for anybody) was in a boom… I was ready to see what all the fuss was about.

PRO TIP: Don’t go on YouTube or Instagram and search for Bullet Journal to get yourself started. Overwhelm central. They’re all so… complicated. And artistic. And so many stickers and washi tape. Do you know what washi tape is? Oh, you will!

My first Bujo began in October 2016, with a notebook and pen. That’s literally all you need, I promise.

Any notebook, any pen.

OK Lora, but what the feck IS a Bullet Journal anyway, and why do we care?

Right. Sorry.

From the official website at www.BulletJournal.com:

“Bullet Journal® (or BuJo® for short) was created by Ryder Carroll, a digital product designer living in Brooklyn, NY. Through many years of trial and error, the system has evolved into the ideas presented here [on his website]. He sees this as an evolving, adaptable practice meant to be self curated as you determine what works best for you.”

At its most basic, it’s a blank journal in which you keep a combo of foundational elements – you’ll hear terms like index, monthlies, weeklies, dailies, collections, future log, and more. Some of which are self explanatory, and some of which we’ll dive into in future posts.

To me, the really important things about a bullet journal are:

  • Everything in one place – this keeps everything in context for your life overall; so you not only know what’s been going on, but also a general idea of why.
  • Sticking to the system – you have a structure, an index, a way of managing tasks, and you know where things go each day/week/month… and how to find them again when you need to.
  • Adapting and evolving – this doesn’t mean changing the system up all over the place, it means using the bujo on a regular basis, figuring out what works and what doesn’t FOR YOU, and adapting/evolving it to a practice that is perfect for your life.
  • Having a safe place to put things – this is vital for my busy brain; having a system that I can dump EVERYTHING into, and the trust in that system that it won’t be lost or forgotten, so I can genuinely let it go once it’s in the Journal and my brain knows I don’t have to hold onto it any more right now. Freedom!

 

Setting Up A Bullet Journal

An example of a real quick set up would be to get a notebook and pen, leave a few pages for an index, then divide the next 2 pages into 6 sections, 3 per page. Write the names of the next 6 months at the top of each of these (1 per section, in case that’s not clear), and note in any upcoming events, plans, or big picture things to track for those months. Come back to it whenever you think of anything – you have a safe place to put stuff you need to remember now. And BOOM, there’s your future log.

Number your pages, then turn back to the index and write in: FUTURE LOG – PAGE 6 & 7, or whatever pages it’s on.

Now go to the next page, and title it with the month we’re in now. Don’t wait for a new month, or a new week – just do it from today. Stick a few boxes in to draw a calendar on the page, or simply just write the date number and day down in a list vertically along the side of the page. So:

  • 1st – Sun
  • 2nd – Mon
  • 3rd – Tue

Or start with whatever day you’re on right now, and keep going all the way down to the end of the month. This is your monthly record. In here, I bring the stuff from my future log that I need to plan for, and any regular stuff I have to do, eg my Meditation Class I run each Monday, with the time and location if you need that. I’ll also put deadlines in here, and bills that are due, and other stuff like that I need to know is happening.

It may seem repetitive right now to transfer the date from your future log you just wrote in… but as things start spreading out you’ll need both. Or not, maybe monthlies will do grand for you, but I like the future log for far reaching stuff and to see my months laid out together with the big ticket items right there – mostly so I don’t over commit.

Repetition is ok too though, the act of writing things down helps us remember and store them, and it’s building the trust loop with your brain that reassures it that things are definitely secure and in an actionable system.

I’m going to leave it there for today, as there’s a lot to cover in the bullet journal and all that goes with that, because it’s so bloody useful.

Get started with that much sure, for now, and we’ll chat more next time.  

 

Lora x


If you’d like some support in setting up a brand new Bullet Journal, you can take our Beginners Class Here!

Fáilte – Welcome To My World

I don’t know exactly where to start with this, so I guess I’ll start here. Welcome!Do The Work Brain Dump

It’s around my mid year review, in 2018, and I’m looking back over my quarterly goals, some of which I’ve ticked off and some I didn’t even begin. Hey ho, that’s how it goes.

Looking back a little further to my annual goals, I think I’m doing ok with those too, and at least there’s a little more wiggle room. I still have half a year yet, right?

As we move forward here, I’ll share more specifics of stuff like that, but for now I just want to set the scene.

I am a non-binary but mostly female presenting, grey asexual panromantic who usually identifies as Bi (coz bi erasure is a thing), 40 year old white Irish mother of 3 teenagers in a wonderful and fulfilling life partnership with a straight cis storyteller guy. I’m a journalist, author, heritage professional, tour guide, educator and self-sustaining entrepreneur, legally sanctioned life rites celebrant, Pagan Reverend and Priest of a demanding Irish deity, informally diagnosed with C-PTSD and underlying general anxiety disorder.

Wow. Even writing it all out like that, it’s a lot. And I’m looking at it right now wondering what I’ve forgotten off it and who I’ll offend by leaving out references to things that relate to them.

Shush Brain. We’re good, I got instant edit capabilities, like, right here.

I have, let’s just say, a lot of balls in the air.

Some of it is because I’m currently the primary earner in the family, while my partner gets his feet under him in his new business. Some of it is because I’m really fucking creative, like, painfully so with all the ideas I have that spark off in my brain… usually around problem solving for other people or situations. That’s the other thing – I have this WORK I have to do in the world as part of my spiritual beliefs. In my way of seeing things, community leaders, priests, people in positions of power or influence in religious and/or social settings, we all have a responsibility to make the world a better place. So some of the stuff I have to get done is along those lines, and I guess that’s partly where this project is coming from too.

There’s also my mental health problems, difficulties, issues, whatever you want to call them. They go back a long way, and they run deep, and I’m in a constant process of trying to find balance between surviving in the day to day, taking care of myself adequately in order to basically function, and the desire to heal and grow, to untangle all my shit, figure it out, and get ‘better’.

Whatever that might look like.

On my Facebook and Instagram, I often post snippets of the system I use to get all of this straight and sorted in my head. I mean, I think of it as my survive and thrive system, but other folk seem to get a lot out of it too. It’s largely based around my version of a bullet journal, with a few other tools I use to supplement that, or expand on it.

I began wondering if I did a daily-ish blog describing my self care, bullet journal, trauma management/healing, business planning and execution, generally getting shit done ‘system’… would folk be interested in that? Would it be useful beyond my friends?

I asked my friends, and they seemed to think it was a good idea. I guess now I’m sort of asking you too. Time will tell!

To be honest, this isn’t an entirely altruistic idea either. I think it would help me too – keep it like a sort of journal to dump my daily brain stuff into. Plus I want to get back to daily article writing/blogging as it has a positive knock on effect for so much of the business and writing work I do. And, I actually get so excited about, and so full up of, and so obsessive around, and so much craving for understanding of, all my STUFF. Maybe this will serve as an outlet so I don’t have to keep waving my bujo (bullet journal) in the faces of my nearest and dearest. Bless their patience like.

This would have to make me a little income, at least cover costs and my time, but definitely won’t be a primary or even secondary income – I have a LOT of different income streams, which you’ll hear all about if you plan on following along – but because it’s me, I would have to make it worth my while, as I honestly can’t afford the time otherwise. So I’m going to be straight up front honest about that side of things too.

The next thing to settle was, what to call it?

I’m going to cover a lot of different topics, and I think there’s a bit of an overwhelm in the general planning communities when it comes to seeing the Insta-perfect lifestyles of the top influencers, and this will NOT be that. I’ve already used many sweary words, and frightened off most of the huge christian segment of the planning community, and probably done a million other things that knock me out of every niche in this self-development – business – planning – healing – personal growth market.

And we’re only on the first post. #oops #soznotsoz

I pulled out my bujo for a brain dump, because let’s be real here, it was half eleven of a work night and I needed to get all this outta my brain so I could try and get some sleep. And suddenly it was clear, and from there it flowed.

Do the Work.

This is my dose of reality, this is my healing journey, this is my entrepreneurial empire building, this is my personal ‘survive and try to thrive’ system.

Welcome – Fáilte!

Lora x