Do The Work Blog - Page 4 of 5 - Do The Work!

The Importance of Down Time

I’m not good at this down time lark, to be honest.

My brain is very busy. VERY busy. It never seems to want to give me a break.

This is fantastic for ideas, and creative problem solving, and my work ethic. Well, you would think so, right?

Turns out, maybe not so much. Like, I want my brain to be running on full speed when I’m having ideas, problem solving, and working on my business. I don’t want to be half assing it.

There’s a huge drive within me to keep working (we talked about some possible reasons for that, Right Here)… but that’s maybe not the best thing for my business or my success. Or my health. Because taking time off for family, friends, outdoor activities and even old-fashioned daydreaming has clear benefits for productivity, as well as for your mental and physical health.

Yeah, I know. Seems obvious right? But…

How Much True Down Time Did You Have Last Week?

Probably every culture on the planet has a traditional ‘day of rest’. Maybe not every single one, but, let’s agree at least that it’s a VERY common theme.

Often, we refer to it as a ‘lazy day’ now, which, you know what? Doesn’t have very positive connotations for most of us. Even if we’re binging on netflix, or going for a walk, or reading an eBook, we mostly stay switched on with our phones or tablets or laptops. We’ve got notifications and alerts popping up and intruding in constantly.

I’m not saying you have to go tech free for true down time (although, when is the last time you did THAT for any length of time?!), but there’s a significant difference between strolling through sand dunes of a sunday with an audio book playing through your headphones and your dog racing round at your feet, to sitting slumped on the couch or in your bed half watching TV with your phone in your hand for scrolling through Facebook. I’m sure we can all see that.

The point is to create genuine space and time to give your body, mind, and spirit a chance to fully relax and recharge.

How Do We Get Some Of This “Down Time” Going Then?

  • If you’re anything like me, you’re going to have to clearly and consistently schedule evenings off, one or even two days a week free of work, and weeklong chunks of holiday every year. And stick to it (if your job and family responsibilities allow for that – I’m aware of and sympathetic to economic and personal factors that might be at play here too).
  • Take regular breaks through your workday, and sometimes take a break just for the hell of it. Even standing outside under a tree for 5 minutes will help refresh you. Or try a simple 5 Minute Meditation.
  • Turn off the phone. No really, I mean it. Most of us don’t even realise (or want to admit) how addicted we are to the phones. There’s a constant call and response loop going on when it’s in reach or in your hand, and the ONLY way to break that is to just put it away, out of easy reach, where you can’t see it. Especially during down time. ESPECIALLY especially during sleep time. I’ll do a whole other post on that soon.
  • Free your mind by having somewhere you can regularly brain dump all the background or foreground noise, and a process you can trust for going through that and sorting it into actionable tasks and events. Then make sure you have simple, regular routines and habits forming for the everyday stuff, so you’re cutting down on the amount of choices you have to make every day – automating it so you are less likely to suffer decision fatigue.

 

My Down Time

Yeah. Confession Time.

I literally took zero down time last week. I worked every evening and all through the weekend, til 10pm, 11pm, or midnight every single night.

That’s not good, and I am REALLY feeling sapped and drained starting the new week. My shoulder is in agony every morning when I wake, my knee has swollen back up (old injuries), I’ve had no time or energy to keep up my 8 week cycle plan so that fell by the wayside. I’m not sleeping right, and I’m grumpy as fuck.

That’s not right, and it’s not fair either on the lovely people I live with, or on me.

So, I’m working on it. Or rather, not working on everything all at once, and trying to take WAY more down time this week. I’ll let ye know how I get on, ok?

 

Lora x

Let’s Do The Work

Gods damnit.

It’s 11.33pm of a sunday. I’ve been working all day (ok, I started a little late, but it was still before noon when I sat at my desk), and teaching in my online classes and programmes since 7pm.

I have to work late like this once a month, on the last sunday, when I teach regular classes. But I also have to take world time zones into account – I find a starting time of 9pm Irish Standard Time on a Saturday or Sunday suits most of the people, most of the time.

There’s admin to finish up, making sure everyone got access and there are no customer service issues I missed while I was teaching (sometimes tech glitches happen), and I’ve to wait for all the files to save and download safely as I record all my classes as a bonus for those who’ve signed up… but also for resale later on too. Those files are important!

Between the hottin’ and the trottin’, as my Nana says, I didn’t get a chance to write this post earlier today, but I promised a daily one so, here I am (before midnight!) keeping my promise. It might not be a very long one. Or I mean, it might, because we all know I can be a little wordy. And it might not be the best piece of writing I’ve ever done, but it’ll be done.

Because that’s what self discipline looks like. That’s what it takes to run your own business. And that’s what it means to serve a community who may be counting on you.

I hate it. I hate being like this. I’m exhausted.

I wish my life was easier…

Or do I? Do I love this, really? Am I addicted to hard work? Do I push myself so hard as a form of punishment, a replacement for the self mutilation I used to do that has left permanent scars on my body? Do I have self inflicted scars on my spirit?

One of the most difficult parts about trying to heal from all the things and grow as a balanced person, is the work of separating out – or trying to – what’s a natural part of my personality, and what is a conditioned or trauma response. I was very young, 14 years old, when an older man began to groom me for a relationship. Oh I thought I was worldly and sophisticated. I was completely sure by the age of 16 that I was madly in love with that man. He was my soulmate, in fact, young me would have you know.

How do I look back at that young person and follow a true path from there to here? How do I figure out which trees in this forest I now find myself wandering through are native, and which have sprung from seeds that were planted; that are invasive and strangling and poisonous.

I’m in the middle of this forest. All I see around me are trees. Many look different from each other, and there have been a few obvious nasty twisted ones I’ve been able to spot and uproot, even though they were well established and those roots ran deep. I’m still finding the odd sucker and creeping tendril as they try to reform, to be honest. Maybe that’s part of my life’s work now too, consistently digging them out as they try to re-establish themselves.

But the rest just look like trees. They’ve been there so long, and they’re so well established, that they look and feel like they belong there. Like they’re an essential part of the life of this forest.

How do I know which is which?

It takes work. And it’s not easy, but I’m doing it. Because this forest is worth tending, is worth taking care of, and is worth the effort of cultivating and caring for until it’s the healthiest it can be.

With that, and with the clock about to strike midnight on this ramble through my soul, I will say goodnight.

And leave you with my hope that you, too, see that you are worth any effort, any work.

Let’s do the work.

 

Lora x

 

Self Worth

(Small Content Warning: reference to child abuse, fyi)

You were born worthy.

No really, you were. We all were. I mean, think about it. Nobody (I hope none of ye anyway) looks at a baby and thinks they have to earn love. That they have to do anything to deserve care. That, as they develop, their thoughts, acts, or achievements have to meet some exacting high standard before they will be acknowledged or respected.

Because that would be abusive behaviour, right? If a person was doing those things or expecting those things from a baby or a small child, they’re abusing that child.

And if you, by any chance, were abused in any of those ways… I am so very sorry. But even so, I would hope that you wouldn’t turn around and treat another baby or child in any of those ways.

Feck, this got real deep real fast. *Goes to add a small content warning to the top of the post.* I’m getting to the point, I promise.

You were that child.

You were born deserving love, and care, and acknowledgement of your development and growth and efforts. You were automatically worthy of all that, just by the simple fact of being born.

Most of us would agree with that, right? Like, logically we can see that to be true, and right, and a good way for folk to be going about their business in the world. The difficult part comes with translating that into a sense of self worth now.

 

Where is your self worth?

Do you ever feel you’re not worthy of love? That you don’t deserve care? That your thoughts, words, actions are not good enough to be acknowledged or respected?

If you’re about to say no, that’s not you… just stall that there for a second and consider that sometimes, even if we don’t consciously think those things, they are messages we have internalised for ourselves. And so we think or act in ways that may be unconsciously sabotaging our chances of love, care, and respect. We may not truly love, care for, or respect our own selves.

If that’s still not you, for real, in any way… fucking good on ya. For real. See ya tomorrow for a different topic, all right?!

I suspect though, that for most of us here there’s some painful truth in all of that. Somehow, as we go through life from childhood to here, we pick up and absorb these thoughts or feelings that we are not enough, as we are, to deserve good things for ourselves.

Sometimes there’s a clear and obvious primary cause for this. An abusive parent or ex, for example, who consistently undermined your courage, your belief in yourself, your trust in… everything.

But we are also surrounded by commercial messaging, literally from birth, that is designed specifically, by really smart people who often understand your brain way better than you do, to make you feel that you are not good enough. That you have all of these problems, and it’s only with the judicious application of Product X or the life saving support of Service Y that you can be good enough. For a while at least.

This seeps into society too, so the people around you are consistently reinforcing these messages. That’s how advertising works. It gets a foot in the door of your brain and eventually, as pressure mounts and your confidence falls, you begin to do their work for them.

The innate sense of self worth you were born with, has been syphoned off in a steady stream through the years – sometimes actively and with intent, but also passively – leached from all of us into the fabric of the world in which we live, for the benefit and profit of the 1%.

That’s a bit grim, right?

It is. So. What are you doing about it?

What can you do?

 

Simple Ways to Build Self Worth

First off, that little bollix that lives in your brain, that whispers bad things about you to you? You need to strangle that fecker.

Take a day and make note of every negative thing you think or say about yourself. Just one day. But every single thing. Make a mental note of them as they happen, or better yet write them down. In a journal, or on a stack of post its or something.

Do whatever it takes to make it super obvious how regularly we shit talk ourselves, and how awful the things we think and say actually are. Like, really look at them, at the end of the day. Your little collection of awful things about you.

They’re not true you know.

Your feelings are not facts. Your brain is giving you worst case scenarios, worries, concerns and negative biases.

Please, for the love of dog, recognise that your negative feelings are not the truth, and refuse to internalise them as such. Just don’t accept them. And if there’s one or two you’re genuinely not sure about, ask a friend. Look for evidence.

I’m betting you’ll be given out to for being unkind to yourself (if you have good friends), or that you won’t find any solid objective evidence to support the untruths you have been telling yourself.

Finally, for now (because oh you know we’re going to come back to the topic of self worth, if for no other reason than that it’s something I struggle with constantly), focus on the things you do like about yourself. Yes, you have them. Find them ok?

When you catch that brain weasel bollix attempting to say nasty things about you, do a mental switch. Imagine yourself as a small child, and the brain bollix is somebody horrible. Are you going to really let that fecker scar that small child for the rest of its life?

No, I hope not. Take care of that little version of you, and let it grow and develop to an abundance of self worth. You deserve it.

Be well,

Lora x


 

Get your Daily (ish) Updates on the Mailing List

Habit Forming with Micro Habits

We’ve talked a lot about routine, and I know that my morning routine I’ve been sharing can seem like… a lot.

Like, it is a lot. It takes me 2 hours to go through everything at a comfortable pace. I hope that I’ve conveyed the benefits of putting that effort in, because for me it’s not only necessary to include those things in my day, and my system, in order for me to ‘survive and thrive’ – it’s also all stuff I want to do, that makes me happy and comfortable and fulfilled.

But, you don’t have to start there.

In fact, if you don’t currently have a morning routine, it would be a bit of a stretch to expect yourself to DO ALL THE THINGS, every day, and keep it up until it all becomes habit.

Remember, this system has developed for me over time, like my bullet journal and all the other stuff. I’ve figured it out as I went along, and there have been many, many abject failures, and other times when I’ve just gone way off track before bringing it back for myself.

With any routine, you have to start small.

Micro Habits, They Call Them

It’s where you make one tiny change and stick with it for a while, and then that becomes a trigger for another change, so that you end up creating a positive chain.  

So pick one thing.

Is it getting up as soon as the alarm goes off each morning? Set it the night before and leave it on the other side of the room (plug your charger in over there, is what I do). Make sure you go to bed at a reasonable time to get enough sleep, but even if you have a bad night, understand you’re getting up as soon as the alarm goes off. Regardless. It’s too fucking easy to make excuses. When you hear it ring, just countdown 5-4-3-2-1 and move. That one is a Mel Robbins trick that is really useful in many situations, by the way. You can find more on that in her book The 5 Second Rule (on Amazon US here, or on Amazon UK here). Get out of bed, stay out of bed, then go and pee, brush your teeth, drink water. Whatever is the logical next step for you to get moving and stay moving.

You can use the micro habit thing for starting any habit, but if you (eventually) want to make a series of big changes, try and list them all out, then pick the logical first one. Where do you need to start? Start there.

You’ll need to find a trigger event or condition, a cue that is the same every day. You can begin something that will be on every other day, by the way, rather than 7 days per week, but honestly my best success has been with just biting the bullet and doing the thing 7 days a week. Once it’s formed, you can take an occasional down day or day off if circumstances run differently, but it’ll take the daily repetition to form a habit. If the habit you want to form is to get up at a certain time on workdays, you’re just gonna have to get used to the fact that that’s your new wake up time every day. Soz, not soz. It’s for the best.

So choose the right cue to remind you of your goal, and kick off the new behaviour. I find something that is sort of unavoidable to happen at the same time every day to be the best one. Coming home from work, if that’s a regular time for you. Letting the dog out last thing at night. Your first morning pee. And if you don’t wake up needing to pee each morning, please increase your water intake, you are dehydrated. You’re welcome. Anyway, you get the idea.

Whatever the habit you eventually want to form is, please start small. You’re making a tiny change here, eg, take a 5 minute walk around the block. One of the biggest mistakes we make is thinking we have to go from zero to hero in one fell swoop. You really don’t. Yes, you may truly want or even need to be walking 30 minutes a day every day. That’s a great goal to build up to. But if you’re starting from no walking, and can do those 5 minutes a day every day, that’s still over 30 minutes that week that you didn’t walk last week. You’re winning, keep going.

Do 5 minutes a day every day for the following week, and you’re 14 days into a habit. That’s serious progress. At that point, you could just keep going that way and really bed in your walking habit for the following 2 weeks, giving you a well established month’s worth of daily habit. That’s a huge success! Or, if you’re getting a little frustrated with only walking the 5 minutes, you could at that point (but not before!) raise the bar – only a little – and make it 10 minutes a day, every day. You see how this all works out, I’m sure. Eventually you will build up to the goal you want, without the side-effects of feeling overwhelmed or exerting any more willpower. It makes sense right?

The most important bit though, to include from the very start of your micro habit, is a little reward once you’ve done the thing each day. Something small that you enjoy, that won’t end up being real bad for you as you indulge in it every single day! A soothing cup of tea or coffee, a fancy piece of fruit, your first facebook check-in of the day, a piece of music you love, or curling up to read or watch something you love. Whatever floats your boat.

There’s a bit more to this whole habit forming (or breaking) thing, which we’ll definitely go deeper into as we move through the days. But for now, what 1 thing are you going to change from today, or tomorrow morning? What positive habit would you like to form, starting now?

Give us a shout in the comments below and tell us!

 

All the best

Lora x

Off Routine

Ugh.

The only bad thing, really, about having a routine, is when you are put out of the routine and it really throws everything off.

It’s a small price to pay, for sure, for all the BENEFITS of having a regular routine. But it sucks.

So, it was our monthly local social/networking Pagan moot last night. Myself and another lad Paul started this in our county when I moved here over 2 years ago, and I absolutely love the community that has grown, and will continue to do so, from this one simple bit of monthly outreach and connection that I take responsibility for.

The people who attend are truly lovely and many have become really good friends. The kind of people you can really get on with. The kind of people who, when you’re with them, you don’t really pay attention to the time passing. The kind of people you can really talk to, in depth, and then suddenly realise it’s 1am on a school night. (My offspring is on summer holidays from school right now, but we still call midweek nights ‘a school night’. I don’t know why either.)

And then you get one friend settled in a taxi, stroll home as another friend is staying over, and talk even more. Next thing you know it’s 2am and you’re just shutting off the lights to try and sleep.

Well, shite.

In case you are not following, yes, I stayed up talking and drinking with my friends instead of sticking to my usual sleep routine – 10pm tech off for an 11pm goal of sleep time.

I woke at 8am and did my email and banking checks, then heard my friend downstairs so shuffled down to say before she went away to work. We got talking (again) and she ran out the door after 9.15, a little on the late side.

I was sat at my dining room table, in my dressing gown, and literally the only part of my morning I’d done was drink some water. So of course the logical thing to do was take out my phone and go on facebook. Of course.

At 10.30am, Jon came in the room and I was in a funk, feeling way off kilter… and my usual conditioned response to that is to freeze – do nothing about the big stuff. This usually looks like, as in this case, me mindlessly clicking, sharing and scrolling on Facebook, allowing my brain to slide on by the things that are causing me anxiety.

He took my hands, and told me to try a reset. Just start doing the things from my routine that settled me into my day, like we talked about a few days back. I panicked at that point because I had two articles due by lunchtime and I wouldn’t have time to do my routine and I just had to go sit in my dressinging gown and start typing.

That didn’t sound like a good plan, to either of us.

So, I took a breath, and figured I would do my minimum viable routine for now while I was pressed for time, and catch up with things later. Or, let them go for the day. Coz that’s ok too.

Upstairs; washed face, brushed teeth and tied hair back, ate a fruit bar, took meds. Got ‘dressed’ into my batman pyjama pants, and a clean loose t-shirt. Drank more water (1 litre in at that point).

Downstairs; at desk, I lit a candle on my work altar today and did my daily devotional there. I opened my bullet journal, checked the weekly for what I had on that day, and the monthly just to make sure I wasn’t forgetting an appointment or event. Thankfully, I wasn’t. Fit a very simple daily task list onto the end of a page, put my headphones on – I listen to the same playlist of strong dance beats with no lyrics as a focus trigger when I’m writing – and got to work.

Normally I prioritise my book words first. The deadline is the end end of next month and I’m still 20,000 words down, as I procrastinated over ‘researching’ it for way too long at the start. I can do that wordcount in a month easy enough if I stick to my schedule though, so I’m not too worried there anymore.

Today though I had a very limited time to get my client columns done and sent, so I did those first. Boom. It was lunchtime. But I didn’t stop for lunch yet, I pushed through to the end of the book chapter I was working on, and got that settled too.

First 3 things off the list. 4 more to go. But first, lunch (oat and banana pancakes), and more water (2 litres in at that point).

After I’d eaten (and listened to a business podcast, so that’s another bit of the daily routine ticked off there too), back to work, and I recorded another podcast episode. I’m recording a heavy dissertation on the Mórrígan as a bonus/favour for some of my Intensive Programme students – and any other folks – who might find it difficult to concentrate and consume such a weighty document/book.

I went off list a little and registered the domain name for this project (which is now set up if you’re reading this online!), and did a few other hosting and admin bits for the websites I run and the new projects I’m putting together. I’m still learning wordpress and the tech aspects of all that is a bit much sometimes, but I’ve great support on my hosting site so that really helps.

That got written down on my daily page too, as I have a common tendency to feel that I haven’t done ‘enough’ (hello anxiety disorder and C-PTSD!) in any given day, and I find that really helps – tracking exactly how much I do get done. At least I can be honest with myself that way.

As you can see, my bullet journal is really never far from my hand. I honestly can’t sit down to work at the desk without it. Like, if I lost it I’d just cry a bit and start a new one… but I will always have a journal close to me, forever I think.

So here I am, at 5.15pm with 4 (+1 bonus) tasks ticked off, and nearly done my 5th one. The rest of the tasks are not day dependant, so if I get tired and decide to shuffle them around that’s grand. I’ve done exactly what HAS to get done today, and I’m satisfied with that.

Still to do that were skipped this morning are: a little professional development/devotional reading, meditation, affirmations and visualisations (I’ll do those as I finish up for the day before I leave my desk), some light physio exercises, and a shower.

Yeah, I’m sitting here in my own stank all day, and it’s going to be very difficult to haul ass in the shower – I do even worse at the end of the day with that, than at the beginning where at least there’s a bit of momentum to get moving. So if I can’t face that, fuck it. I’ll crawl into bed and just reset it all tomorrow.

Because that’s the true beauty of a routine. It’s always there, ready and waiting for you to slot back into, no matter how far out of whack you get.

 

All the best,

Lora x

First Bullet Journal – Flip Through

A quick one today, I thought.

I’ve been sharing images from my first bullet journal, so as to illustrate the basics of getting started.

I thought – I’ll just shoot a wee video, a flip through of my very first bullet journal (October November 2016) that I’ve been talking about, to illustrate the previous days’ bujo posts.

18 minutes later…

 

Anyway. I hope it’s useful.

 

All the best,

Lora x

 


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

Bullet Journal Weeklies

I was going to talk about insomnia because I woke at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep… but we’ll go with something practical today instead of me moaning again, I think.

Where did we leave off with the bullet journal basics? Monthlies?

*goes back to check*

Nah, task lists. Ok. Well let’s look at what happens with Bullet Journal weeklies.

These aren’t in the original bullet journal system – Ryder Carroll just goes from a basic monthly list onto his dailies. We’ll get to them soon enough don’t worry.

Personally, I like to keep a simple weekly plan.

Again, there’s a little repetition from the monthly → weekly → daily system, but I actually LIKE that. It helps bed things into my brain, sets the week up really clearly, and the process of writing a simple plan calms and reassures me that I’m not forgetting anything.

If you don’t have to deal with an anxiety condition, feel free to skip the weeklies and hop directly from monthly to daily lists and notes, if you’d prefer that.

If you do… maybe just give it a try. With a little time, it really does build that trust and allow your anxiety brain to let go a little of ALL THE THINGS we usually feel we have to hold on to and keep track of.  

My Bullet Journal Weeklies

One way to do a simple weekly spread in the bullet journal (bujo) is to split a page in half vertically (down the middle), and then divide it into 7 sections for the days of the week horizontally (across the page).

On a standard A5 lined notebook page, there’ll be about 26-28 ruled lines. Leave a line or two for a title and page number, draw a line across, then drop 3 lines and draw another line across, that’s your Monday. Do it again for Tuesday, Wednesday and so on through to Sunday, and you’ll be at about line 22 or 23.

That leaves you a little space at the end of the week, which we’ll get to.

Draw that line down the middle if you want to (it’s not necessary, but helps with clarity) and split it to events on the left side and tasks on the right, or vice versa. You do you.

Write in the days of the week, and the date, in each box. On top – don’t forget the page number, and add the title ‘Week of Xth to Xth’ or whatever so it’s easy to get what’s on the page at a quick glance.

There you go. Weekly spread in your journal.

Check back to your monthly, and pull in whatever events or reminders are current to this week.

Check back to your master task list, and pull in whatever you want to pop on to a specific day of the week, or anything that has a deadline for this week.

In that leftover space at the bottom, you can put in anything you want to track. I think I said I don’t do well with big monthly trackers, though they might work for you.Bullet Journal Weeklies

They sorta overwhelm me, and when I inevitably forget or get off track and there’s gaps, they glare at me and make me feel like shit for the whole month. I always end up abandoning the tracker.

But a weekly tracker is usually ok (fucked up this week? Never mind! Next week = fresh start!).

So yeah, on these pages (dedicated pages are often called a ‘spread’ coz the topic might stretch over 2 or more pages) I track things I want to do a certain amount of times per week, eg.

  • Take a Daily Walk:    M __ T __ W __ T __ F __ S __ S __
  • Instagram Post:         M __ T __ W __ T __ F __ S __ S __
  • Reading for Fun:       M __ T __ W __ T __ F __ S __ S __

It can be left at that there, or you can put stuff pertaining to that week on the facing page – goals, a brain dump, meal plan, or general organisational notes. Whatever. Make a space for whatever you think you might need or might be useful.

If you don’t use it, fuck it. No harm. Fill the space with stickers or decorative (washi) tape, print an inspiration quote and stick it in… or just leave it blank. Nobody minds!

The point is to have the system there for whatever you need to put into it, or use it for. You’ll only find that out by experimenting and figuring out what’s going to work for you, as you go.

There’s a place to put things, and nothing gets left behind or forgotten.

Try it.

And, cue, Brain building trust and relaxing a bit in 5… 4… 3… 2… 1.

 

All the best,

Lora x

 


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

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!