Listening to your “self”

I often write “Notes to Self” down in my planner/journal instead of Tasks, or To Do’s, or Intentions. There’s something about the phrase that resonates with me. Notes. To. Self.

I’ve often started a bit of brainstorming, or mind spilling, or morning pages. with the thought of future me looking back and either wondering how brilliant and productive I was, or how silly and unproductive I was. But those things aren’t necessarily bad things, or good things, they just are. Sometimes I have a brilliant idea, but that doesn’t mean I’m productive. And sometimes I am silly and quite productive. When I listen to my inner voice, my “self,” or as some people like to say, the “higher self,” or your intuition, I find that I can be brilliant, productive, and silly. I can play and have fun, be creative, and quite productive, which is brilliant if you ask me.

I’ve been researching ways that I can use my ADHD to my advantage, as well as ways I can bring more clarity, mindfulness, focus, and productivity into my creative practice. The days of procrastinating, or avoiding–the whole flight or freeze dilemma when it comes to ADHD, stress, and anxiety is one that I know all too well.

On Monday, we lost power for four or five, maybe even six hours. I was in the middle of saving a coffee chat video for Patreon in iMovie when the power went out. The next morning when I rebooted my iMac it was acting wonky. iMovie did not work and kept giving me errors. The little bouncing colorful ball was going crazy, so I clicked “restart,” thinking maybe… to no avail, that did not work, it just made things worse as there was an update waiting for my beautiful link to the creative content and creative world–my iMac. It froze while updating. I researched the issue and found that there are times when updates take HOURS, so I managed to film a short video Tuesday evening with my iPad Air, a one take wonder, and posted it to let my Patrons know what was going on. It brought me back to my start on YouTube when I had no idea of what editing a video was much less how to do it. Note to self: find videos on Skillshare or YouTube and learn how to use iMovie on the iPad. Of all the things that could wrong during this Mercury Retrograde, and all the planets aligning in Aquarius (7 planets I think), my iMac losing its shit was not what I expected.

By Wednesday Morning, after I’d done all the things I could do, within reason, to help “unfreeze” my iMac, which I call Apple, like that star named her child, (and my Windows computer is named Windy), I found myself researching local computer repair shops. I looked at reviews, called my husband (Mr. Rockstar), to find out which one he recommended. I called. Took it in. And now I’ve found out that Apple needs a new hard drive. And by the way, the battery light in Mr. Rockstar’s car keeps coming on and going off.. yes, there’s corrosion on a post, which he needs to clean and we’re hoping that fixes it, but if not then we’ll be buying yet another vehicle battery. We just got one for my car last month, and then turned around and bought ourselves a new to us 4Runner. In our defense, my car is 21 years old and a convertible, she’s glorious but needs a bit of work. So it’s been one thing after another, after another…

And yet, as I sit here typing this post on Windy, who needs some maintenance and an upgrade himself, I am thankful that I have the ole’ boy, he’s like a Timex. But that’s not what this post is about…

I wasn’t sure if I was going to keep Windy once I moved my creative studio out of the house and into the barn studio. The tower is huge, it’s one of those gaming one’s with the fancy blue lights and the fans, and stuff. It’s slow as molasses now, it wasn’t in its hayday, but now–well, let’s just say my thought was that I’d get it worked on and upgraded tax time, and it would be the computer I use for writing, as well as Mr. Rockstar’s. He’s not on the computer much. He has a smart phone and a tablet, all Samsung products, but he’d have it for when he needed it. Note to self: Make sure to get Windy to the shop when you get the iMac fixed.

When you have ADHD, it’s recommended that when you’re using your planner, which is highly recommended, to write down you main focus areas/priorities–the areas you need to focus on first, instead of a “to do” list. And it is also suggested that you keep a “parking lot” list. A parking lot is a “productivity technique for effectively dealing with distracting but important non-agenda items that arise during the course of your day/week/month/quarter. Those non-agenda items always seem to find their way into the brain, so it’s important to honor and recognize their existence, but without interrupting the focus and goals.. The “parking lot” involves recording these incidental issues down on paper, that way you will remember them and can address them later on–this way they don’t interrupt the flow of your focus.

A Parking Lot list, is a different way of having a Notes to Self list. I like Notes to Self better, but that’s just me. One of the things I’ve found, as an avid stationery enthusiast, I often need a notebook to jot down those Notes to Self–the “non-agenda items are in my brain one minute and out the next, if I don’t write them down. And then later on, sometimes after I’ve forgotten what I thought was an incidental thing, it turns out it was actually an important thing, but I forgot to write it down, and that’s why it was in that loop, playing over and over in my brain, and I kept ignoring it, for fear of interrupting my flow, or someone’s conversation. Now, I write that shit down.

Many of us keep journals, use planners, in a variety of ways. Some of us use multiple journals, and planners. Some of us have a bit of a hybrid system. Some use one notebook (to rule them all) where they journal, create, plan. Other’s use one planner and one journal. I’ve been letting my selection of planners and journals grow organically this year, especially after the year we had in 2020. This year hasn’t been much different so far, lots of chaos, uncertainty, and confusion, intermingled with once in a lifetime astrological stuff going on (Jupiter and Saturn, etc). My word of the year for this year is “Cultivate,” and this month I’ve been cultivating some kind of routine, which was working well enough, on and off, but has been shot to hell the past few days. I’ve also been trying to cultivate a better than decent practice of Self-Care. As I’ve been working on cultivating a creative practice that works for me, finding a routine that works for me, one that includes self-care, I’ve found that some of what I’ve been using has been working, and some of the things have not been working. So I’m taking the time to reflect on the what’s and why’s, not just my what or my why, but overall.

So I’m changing a few things up. What? Again? Yes! It’s my prerogative, to do what I wanna do… (okay, how many of you hear Bobby Brown singing in your head now? Sorry, not sorry.) It really is my prerogative to do what I need to do to make things work for me, or to enjoy doing what I’m doing. Part of all of the journaling and planning is for creativity, part is for organization, part is a stress and anxiety reducer, and part is just because it’s enjoyable, so if it’s not enjoyable, not working, and it’s stressing me out–I’m not going to keep doing it. It’s as simple as that. It doesn’t matter what trends are out there. What this group is using, or this person is using, or how aesthetically pleasing it might be, if it doesn’t work for me it doesn’t work. If it doesn’t bring me joy then I’m not going to stick with it. Note to Self: Get rid of the socks with holes in the toes, they’re annoying. Oh, and while you’re at it, toss those bras that the wire is coming out of, those are annoying as hell.

I’ve been keeping a journal of some kind since I was about seven years old, that’s about forty-six years. I’ve journaled and planned in composition notebooks, agendas, binders, spiral bound notebooks, fancy leather bound notebooks and planners… and for me, it’s all about 1. the paper and 2. the size. Sometimes, when I’m stressed out and overwhelmed I use the smaller sized notebooks/planners, other times when I’m feeling really creative and have a lot I want to do I use something like an A5. And sometimes it’s something in between, like a B6, but my overall way of journaling and planning, at least the core system, is pretty much the same. I change things, improve things, let go of what isn’t working, but what I’ve found is that if the journal or planner doesn’t make me feel at home in the pages, I will not stick with it. So I’m off to work on my sketchbook. I have a few things I’d like to experiment with for some doodles I’m creating for my Patrons, and for my new YouTube Membership launch for March 1st. Lots of good stuff happening, and since Apple will be back the end of next week all new and improved, I want to be ready for all the stuff I’ve got going on.

Hope you have a great one! And remember… Do your own thing. “To thine own self be true.”

Rediscovering my love for Planning

For the longest time the only things I used for planning were: a letter or legal sized notepad, a monthly pocket calendar (the one you pick up from Dollar Tree or your local drug store for about $1, though I do remember the kids from the elementary school selling some every year), and a monthly wall calendar. That’s it. I kept up with my To Do’s on the pad of paper–I would date it at the top and then list my to-do’s, starting with the biggest priority things. I would put a check mark by it when I started it and then make the check mark and X when I was finished with it. I wrote all my bills, appointments, events, birthday’s, etc on both calendars. The wall calendar was so that I didn’t have to go digging through my purse to find my pocket calendar to know when certain bills were due, or when I needed to send out a birthday card, etc. This was before cell phones, Facebook, and app’s like Google Calendar. My system worked for decades.

Then when I was in my mid to late twenties (so 1990’s) I saw a coworker using this leather binder that she said was called a Franklin Covey. She said I could get something similar at Office Depot or Staples if I wanted to try it. So I did, but the rings… I am not, and never have been, fond of ring bound, spiral bound… but I tried it. After about a month I went back to my legal pad and pocket calendar. I’d kept the wall calendar because each month I got to laugh at a new Garfield or Snoopy or Ziggy cartoon, and all my children’t school stuff like holidays and teacher workdays, along with Doctor appointments, and our household bills were listed on that calendar–it was how I kept up with everything, and the to-do list was how I managed to remember what I’d done and completed versus what I’d started but hadn’t finished…

Fast forward a couple of decades and once again I was tempted by a ring bound planner, only this one was called a Filofax. Somewhere on my Youtube Channel there is a video about that Filofax… Needless to say, I still was not a fan of rings or spiral bound, but I did give it a good try. I also tried the Fauxbonichi, then the Hobonichi, the Bullet Journal, the Omni Journal, as well as a few other things like the Master Planner, Wordsmith Planner, the 90x Goal Planner, and the Creative Minds Journal…just to name a few. Recently, I’ve been using the Creative Minds Journal as a sidekick to my Bullet Journal, and the Hobonichi as my Personal Planner. I think I might have found my grove.

I just sent out my Newsletter for April, and I have to say that what I’ve recently been doing is really working well for me. The Bullet Journal is and isn’t a planner. It’s technically a Journal in which you can do all kinds of things in, from planning to sketching to journaling to taking notes, etc. After reading Ryder Carroll’s book about the Bullet Journal, I realized that I was focusing too much on things other people were doing in their bullet journals instead of what I really needed in mine. And that’s the great thing about the Bullet Journal System–you can make it your own. I did a blog post about the system here.

**Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission,which helps me purchase items to review, at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.**

I’ve realized learned a great deal since that blog post:

  1. I don’t have to have a habit tracker unless I actually need one. There are other ways to track habits. Some habits do not need to be tracked. If a habit tracker works for you, great. But if it doesn’t, then it is okay not to include a habit tracker.
  2. I love art and adding touches of art to the pages of my bullet journal brings me joy. Some days though, I just don’t have the time and I need more function, less pretty, and that’s okay. And some days the function is really messy… and that’s okay too!
  3. I mess up and have to fix mistakes. Correction tape, white Posca Markers, and white Signo Uni-ball pens are my best friends.
  4. I do NOT like cream paper. I prefer white paper, and so far for journals that don’t have Tomoe River paper my preference is the Archer & Olive notebooks, or the Scribbles that Matter notebooks. But my next Bullet Journal will be either a Taroko Design Breeze or a half year Stalogy notebook. I love those notebooks–not only is the paper white or nearly white, but it holds up to almost everything you put on the pages–from watercolor to fountain pens. Yes, you do have to let the ink dry, and yes the watercolor does wrinkle the paper slightly, but I like the crinkle the paper makes… it’s a lovely sound when you’re turning the pages.
  5. Though I have seen many people using their Hobonichi’s to Bullet Journal, no matter how hard I’ve tried it just doesn’t really work for me. The Hobonichi is set up perfectly as a planner, plus there is more than adequate room on the daily pages to do a bit of planning and a bit of journaling, though if your handwriting is larger like mine, the grid is a bit small. And if you write a lot like I do, then that one page per day might not be enough for your journaling, documenting your day, art, etc. This is where the Bullet Journal comes in, at least for me, which is why I use them in conjunction with each other. That might be too much for some, not enough for others, but it works well for me. (And using the Creative Minds Journal, even though the pages are cream, for my “content creation plannng/projects” is working well enough, but I don’t think I’ll buy another of the journals… I’ll just use my bullet journal once I’ve either grown tired of the cream paper or fill the journal. And I’ll have an extra watercolor palette for my grandson Viktor to use.)

Figuring out what works and what doesn’t work isn’t always easy, but some of the best advice I’ve heard in regard to planning is this: if your system works then it doesn’t matter what planner you use. I’ve been honing my system. In a way, I’m now using a much fancier version of the system I used many, many moons ago when I was writing my to-do’s down on a pad of paper, and using a pocket calendar as my “everyday carry,” and my wall calendar in my kitchen as my planning hub. As we close up April over this next week, I’ve already found a weekly layout for my Bullet Journal, thanks to Eclectic Scribbles, and I’ve finally found my way through using my Hobonichi and my Bullet Journal system together, which I talked about in one of my videos in the Newsletter I just sent out.

Not my image: found in Pinterest!

On a side note, when I first started figuring out what I was going to do for May, I asked my Patrons what theme they’d like to see… I offered a few suggestions, most of which I’d already done before, but I wanted something different. And one of them said I could do a Garden theme… and the more I thought about it the more I realized that would be perfect. Do my own thing with the Garden theme, of course, but I could have fun with it. I love drawing and watercoloring so the idea of drawing garden tools, veggies, herbs, fruit… a garden gnome or three… definitely appealed to me. Thus, May’s spread in both my Bullet Journal and Hobonichi have a garden theme. If you’d like to see May’s spread now sign up for my Patreon page. Or you can wait for Friday when I’ll have the shorter, more time-lapsed version up on my Youtube Channel.

Hope you have a great week!