by Nikola | May 11, 2023 | An Organized Life, Bullet Journaling
Time is our most precious resource, yet it often seems like there’s never enough of it. We’re constantly bombarded with distractions and interruptions that make it challenging to stay focused and get things done. That’s where time blocking comes in – it’s a powerful productivity technique that can help you take control of your time and use it more effectively. In this ebook, we’ll explore what time blocking is, how it works, and how to use it to achieve your goals and make the most of your time.
What is time blocking?
Time blocking is a technique that involves dividing your day into blocks of time and assigning specific tasks or activities to each block. By doing this, you can create a schedule tailored to your needs and priorities and ensure you’re using your time in the most productive way possible.
Why use time blocking?
There are many benefits to using this technique, including increased productivity, reduced stress, and improved work-life balance. Dividing your daily schedule into blocks of time can also help you prioritize your tasks, minimize distractions, and spend your time on the things that matter most to you.
How to get started
Getting started is easy – all you need is a calendar or planner and a willingness to experiment and adjust your schedule as needed. If you want to make the most of your time, this method can be an incredibly effective strategy. First, set clear goals for yourself. This will give you a sense of direction and purpose and help you stay focused throughout the day. Next, identify your priorities so you know which tasks to tackle first. Finally, breaking your day into manageable time blocks of 15, 30 or 60 minutes can help you stay organized and on track. This allows you to work efficiently and avoid distractions, ultimately leading to greater productivity and success.
Tips for successful time blocking
While time blocking can be a powerful productivity tool, it does require some discipline and effort to make it work effectively. Effective time management requires setting achievable goals, being adaptable, and utilizing helpful software and tools to improve organizational skills. By implementing these key strategies, you can optimize your time management and quickly achieve your objectives. In addition, remember to prioritize tasks, take breaks when needed, and be flexible in adjusting your schedule. With these tips, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the art of time blocking and achieving success in your daily tasks.
Common challenges and how to overcome them
Like any productivity technique, time blocking can have its challenges. Interruptions and distractions can quickly derail your schedule, making it difficult to stay on track. Be gentle with yourself, and remember to recognize that you are human and working on your goals and develop strategies to overcome your obstacles. One approach is scheduling time for interruptions and distractions, allowing you to address them without sacrificing productivity. Another method is eliminating or minimizing distractions by turning off notifications or finding a quiet workspace.
It is also common to underestimate the time it needs to complete a task. You’ll get better at estimating how long tasks take over time, but until you’ve honed your instincts, err on the side of blocking off too much time rather than too little. Instead, pad your schedule with extra time to complete and transition between tasks. You can even create “conditional blocks” of time you can tap into if you fall behind.
Try these tools
Find out how long it takes you to complete your tasks by tracking them with RescueTime or Toggl. Over time, this will improve your sense of much much time you should budget for in your daily or weekly plan.
By proactively addressing these challenges, you can maximize your time and stay focused on your goals.
Advanced time-blocking techniques
Once you’ve mastered the basics of time blocking, you can take your productivity to the next level. One such technique is “batching,” where you group similar tasks and complete them all at once. Another technique is “theme days,” where you assign specific themes to each day of the week and only work on tasks related to that theme on that day. These advanced techniques can help you stay focused and maximize your productivity, ultimately leading to greater success in both your personal and professional life.
Software and tools to improve your time-blocking skills
Various software and tools available can help with time blocking and organizational skills. One popular option is Trello, which allows users to create visual task boards and organize their to-do lists by priority and deadline. Another helpful tool is RescueTime, which tracks how much time you spend on various tasks and can help users identify areas where they may need to improve their time management. Additionally, apps like Focus@Will and Freedom can help eliminate distractions and enhance focus during designated time blocks. Ultimately, the best software and tools for time blocking will depend on individual preferences and needs, but these options are a great place to start.
In addition to digital tools, planners and journals are popular choices for many people who prefer to have a physical record of their tasks and appointments. By writing down assignments and deadlines, users can better visualize their schedules and prioritize accordingly. Some people also find that physically writing down tasks can help them commit them to memory more effectively. Additionally, using coloured pens or stickers can help make the planner or journal more visually appealing and engaging. Ultimately, whether someone prefers digital or non-digital tools depends on their preferences and habits.
How long does it typically take to see the benefits?
The time it takes to see the benefits of time blocking can vary depending on several factors, including your current habits, the complexity of your tasks, and how effectively you implement the technique. However, with consistent practice and proper implementation, you can begin to experience the benefits of time blocking within a few weeks or even sooner. The process involves an initial adjustment period, followed by increased awareness and focus, improved productivity and time management, enhanced work-life balance and reduced stress. It’s important to note that individual experiences may vary, and consistency and perseverance are essential to fully realizing the benefits of time blocking.
Time blocking is a powerful tool that can help you take control of your time and achieve your goals. By following the tips and strategies outlined in this post, you can create a schedule that works for you and make the most of every minute of your day. So what are you waiting for? Start time blocking today and see the difference it can make in your life!
by Nikola | Apr 14, 2023 | Bullet Journaling
Whether you’re an artist, writer, or planner, having the right stationery, art and planner supplies can make a huge difference. Here are some of the reasons why you might want to invest in a selection of planner supplies, why we love stationery, and the best places to find all your stationery, planner supplies, and art supplies in Victoria, BC.
Do I need planner supplies to use my planner or journal effectively?
While it’s true that using a journal or planner can help you stay organized and on top of your tasks and goals, having the right supplies and stationery can make the experience even more enjoyable and effective.
If you are like me, you love a variety of writing materials, papers, pens, pencils, envelopes, stickers, washi tape, markers, and other related items.
Here are a few reasons why you might want to consider investing in more supplies and stationery for your journal or planner:
Customization: Having a variety of supplies, such as pens, stickers, and washi tape, allows you to customize your journal or planner to suit your style and preferences. This can make the experience more fun and engaging and help you stay motivated and committed to your goals.
Functionality: Using the right supplies, such as pens with different colours and tips, can help you organize your thoughts and tasks more effectively. For example, use a different colour for each category of tasks or a specific type of pen to prioritize your to-do list, tasks and appointments.
Inspiration: Using beautiful stationery and supplies can inspire your creativity and make journaling or planning feel more special. When you enjoy using your journal or planner, you’re more likely to stick with it and achieve your goals.
Of course, it’s okay not to have a ton of supplies and stationery at home to use a journal or planner effectively. However, having the right tools can make the experience more enjoyable, functional, and inspiring. So don’t be afraid to invest in a few extra supplies to enhance your journaling or planning experience.
Why many People Love Stationery and Planner Supplies
- It’s a form of self-expression: Stationery allows people to express their personality through their choice of paper, pens, and other writing tools. For example, some people prefer colourful or patterned paper, while others prefer sleek and simple designs. The choice of planner supplies reflects one’s individual style and taste.
- It’s a form of art: Many people enjoy creating art or calligraphy with their stationery. They may experiment with different types of pens, inks, and paper to create unique designs and lettering styles. In addition, creative processes can be therapeutic and relaxing for some people.
- It’s nostalgic: For some people, stationery brings back memories of a simpler time when letter writing was a more common form of communication. So writing a letter on beautiful stationery can evoke nostalgia and sentimentality.
- It’s a gift: Stationery can be a thoughtful gift for someone who enjoys writing, drawing, or organizing. In addition, it can be customized to suit the recipient’s tastes and preferences, making it a thoughtful and personal gift.
Where to buy stationery in Victoria?
Whether you are visiting or a local, and, depending on what you’re looking for, here are a few options in Victoria that suit your journal and planner needs.
- Monk Office & Art, formerly known as Island Blue Art & Framing: Monk Office & Art is a locally owned family business providing products and services to Vancouver Island’s creative and business communities and beyond. They offer a wide selection of art supplies, including paints, brushes, canvases, and more. They also have a great selection of stationery and planner supplies, including notebooks, journals, and pens.
- Opus Art Supplies: Opus Art Supplies is a chain of art supply stores with a location in Downtown Victoria. They offer a wide selection of art supplies, including paints, brushes, canvases, and more. They also have a great selection of stationery and planner supplies, including notebooks, journals, and pens.
- Munro’s Books: Munro’s Books is a locally owned and operated bookstore that has been a Victoria institution since 1963. They have a great selection of books, including art books and journals. They also carry a small selection of stationery and planner supplies, including notebooks and pens.
- Russell Books: Russell Books is another locally owned and operated bookstore in Victoria that has been around since 1991. They have a great selection of books, including art books and journals. They also carry a small selection of stationery and planner supplies, including notebooks and pens.
- The Papery: The Papery is a stationery store in downtown Victoria that offers a wide selection of stationery and planner supplies, including notebooks, journals, pens, and more. They also carry a small selection of art supplies, including pens and markers.
- Michael’s: Michael’s is a chain of craft stores with a location in Victoria in the Uptown Mall. They offer a wide selection of art supplies, including paints, brushes, canvases, and more. They also have a large selection of stationery and planner supplies, including notebooks, journals, and pens.
Whether you’re an artist, writer, or planner enthusiast, there are plenty of great reasons and places to find stationery and art supplies in Victoria, BC. From locally owned bookstores to chain craft stores, there’s something for everyone. So go out and find the perfect notebook, pen, or paintbrush to inspire your creativity and keep you organized. And if you haven’t seen our post on how to get started with a bullet journal, check out our How to Start a Bullet Journal post.
by Nikola | Mar 22, 2023 | Bullet Journaling
Planning your goals with a bullet journal or planner has become increasingly popular in recent years as a way to keep track of tasks, events, and notes in an organized and creative manner. However, even the most organized and careful journalers may need to correct mistakes from time to time. Errors can be frustrating to deal with, whether it’s a misspelled word or a misplaced line or point. But fear not! In this blog post, we’ll discuss some tips on how to fix mistakes in a bullet journal.
Tip #1: Cover Up – Use Craft Paper, Correction Tape or Whiteout
One of the simplest ways to fix a mistake in a bullet journal is to use correction tape, whiteout or a piece of paper. Cover Ups allow you to hide the mistake and try again. Grab a colourful piece of paper and get creative on your page. You can add even more of these pieces to give your page a distinctive look. These options are quick and easy, but keep in mind that they may leave a noticeable mark on the page.
Tip #2: Cross It Out and Rewrite
Another option is to cross out the mistake and rewrite the correct information next to it. This quick and easy fix doesn’t require additional materials, but it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing option.
Tip #3: Use Washi Tape or Stickers
If you’re looking for a more creative way to fix a mistake in your bullet journal, consider using washi tape or stickers. Washi tape is a decorative tape that you can use to cover up blunders or add visual interest to your pages. You can also use stickers or add decorative elements to your bullet journal. This option is not only functional but also adds some personality and flair to your pages.
Tip #4: Add pages to your Bullet Journal
When you are creating your spreads ahead of time, your mind might wander from time to time. For example, after beautifully lettering the following weekday, you suddenly realize that you forgot a day in between. So simply add a page to your journal and get creative with the additional room you gained.
Tip #5: Make Something New
It can happen all too easily when drawing lines or planning on a nice flourish to end a word with, and the line goes not where it is intended to go. Embrace it and make something new. A favourite go-to is to doodle or to draw around it and incorporate the wayward line into an intricate new design element.
Tip #6: Embrace Imperfection
Finally, remember that mistakes are a natural part of the bullet journaling process, and it’s okay to have some imperfections in your planner or journal. You can even use mistakes as an opportunity to add some character to your pages. For example, you could doodle around a mistake or turn it into a funny anecdote. So don’t be too hard on yourself for making mistakes – embrace them and make the most of them!
In conclusion, fixing mistakes in a bullet journal is a simple process that can be done using a variety of techniques. Whether you prefer a quick fix or a more creative solution, plenty of options are available to help you fix mistakes in your bullet journal. Remember to embrace imperfection and enjoy the process of creating a personalized and unique journal that reflects your personality and interests.
by Nikola | Jul 17, 2019 | Bullet Journaling
A good weekly spread is the backbone of your bullet journal and will probably either make or break the habit. If you find them too complicated or tedious, it will be hard to keep at it. If you are not happy with the way they look or how creative you can get or the space you have to express your thoughts, you might get discouraged and not stick to your new ritual. . How to get it right? Well, find a set of layouts that you like and understand your needs and goals. Are you a minimalist, the creative type, do you delve in watercolour, or do you want to explore them all? Check out these 10 super simple weekly layouts for your bullet journal and decide for yourself what suits your needs best.
In my experience, I have found the horizontal spreads to be the best if you prefer to jot down memories. The horizontal format gives you the space to write short sentences or bullets, and, depending on the size of your journal and handwriting, leave room for creative space.
In the next four spreads, you will see the same theme in four different varieties. Same basic layout, four entirely different looks.
Boxes denote the space for your weekly goals and each day. Instead of boxes, you can choose lines, or separate the daily space with the day of the week in your favourite brush lettering font.
You could try the same format, boxes and all and add some tangle patterns as a design element? Doesn’t take long and creates a distinct look for that particular week. Find the instructions to this pattern in my tangle pattern post.
Again, I used the same format again, this time added some fancy washi tape and created room to track water intake, meals and active time.
If you have some lightly coloured craft paper, you can also use this to create a stunning spread using the same structure.
How to deal with the tail end of the month?
What to do with the end of the month? How do deal with the gaping white space that needs to be filled? First of all, don’t panic. As I learned in design school “Don’t be afraid of white space. The page elements need this space to breathe.” Secondly, I started to use the extra space for either some creative outlet or a mini reflection on the month. This will help you greatly when you do your year-end reflection. The more you make yourself aware of what happened each month, the less often you look back at the past year not remembering how it went by so fast. No more blank spots and more memories which all in all help you perceive time to progress a little slower.
Weekly spread with habit trackers
Ok, we have finally left the same-old horizontal pattern behind and added creative and tracking spaces to the sides.
This is a weekly spread one-pager that tags on a page with goals, trackers or whatever you want to add to your page. Not to forget space to give gratitude, my favourite tool to staying mindful, and appreciative of the blessings in my life.
Vertical weekly layouts for your journal
The vertical layout is ideal if you want to highlight your appointments, and jot down simple notes. It is the perfect way to gain an overview of your week.
In the simple weekly layout above I decided to hand-draw my lines, which give the page a distinct freestyle look. See the spread below that features accurate boxes which I drew using a ruler.
This layout provides lots of space for notes or trackers while clearly structuring your week. I love the simplicity and contrasting beauty of the black cursive versus rigid grey lettering.
This layout focuses on giving you an hourly overview of your day. It could also be used to track how you spend your time and see where there are “pockets” of time that you could use more efficiently.
Whether you are a seasoned bullet journaler and already have your favourites, or are are about to find your style, it is always fun to try out something you don’t usually do. What I love about journaling is that I can fit it exactly to my needs. If I am feeling minimalistic, i’ll go after that style. If I need to focus on tracking anything, in my case usually water intake, goals, gratitude and exercise, I can do that. Care to share which weekly layout you prefer for your bujo?
by Nikola | May 20, 2019 | Bullet Journaling
Have you ever wondered how so many bullet journals are lovingly adorned with beautiful banners and why they look always crooked when you try to do draw them? This is totally me. And that is exactly why I am writing this post today: to help you hoist your banners and let them fly high all across your bullet journal. And without further ado, here is how to draw banners. Five different ones to be exact.
Why do we like banners? They help you structure a page or give emphasis to a headline. They are eye-catching and all in all so much fun to draw.
1. The Classic
Start with a rectangular box. Then add two small triangles to the top. Now add the flaps. Make sure the flaps end higher than your box’ baseline. If you want you can now add texture to the flaps and darken the triangles (back of the flap).
2. The Classic – variation
As the title suggests, this is a variation of the first banner I showed you. With this one, I chose to curve the base box ever so slightly. Follow the steps as prompted and you can’t go wrong.
3. The Wrap
This one is a little bit more advanced, but you can do it. I had to fiddle around with it at first, but it did turn out nicely. Make sure to stagger your first two boxes. Then, connect them in a Z like way from the end of the top to the beginning of the first. The flaps are similar like the ones above but achieved differently. The bottom lines almost look like a swoosh.
4. The Single Fold
Start the single fold with a slight bend to your base box. You can let this end in a forked flap if you wish. Next, add your upper swoosh (would also work on the bottom). Finish your
5. The Scroll
Start your top line almost like a lower-case letter e with a very long tail. Then add your vertical V-shape to create the side of the flap and close up your base box. Make sure the lower curve of the box matches as closely as you can to your upper curve. Add two vertical lines to finish off the scroll look and et voila, you did it.
A few more tips: Test your headline size and length before you set your banner in stone, so to speak. Penciling in the headline and box size helps a great deal. You can also create your favourite banners on one sheet, and draw them in a nice “fat” black. Keep this sheet handy and you can use this to trace your next banner into your journal or similar medium. Never forget, have lots of fun and keep practicing how to draw banners. It’ll become second nature in no time.
Have fun practicing how to draw banners.
by Nikola | Apr 24, 2019 | Achieve your goals
If you were ever overwhelmed by life and the goals you put on your agenda, you probably know how hard it is to get back on track. You might feel like hiding, procrastinating or not being able to stop worrying about many things in your life. And all these feelings usually come with a huge amount of guilt. Guilt for feeling overwhelmed in the first place, for not being able to progress, for being not strong enough.
Let me tell you bluntly, this is a lot of bull**** your subconscious is trying to feed you. Stop buying into the guilt trip right now. It is ok if you still feel it, but don’t feed it anymore, just let it all go, slowly but surely. I am telling you this so drastically because I have been there so many times. In fact, I am making my way just out of this guilt-bull**** right now.
“You can’t crush your goals if you are running on empty.”
I got overwhelmed by my own plans and goals, took some self-prescribed time off my blog, and wallowed in guilt over not being able to get back on track with my goals. After about 2-3 months of a complete stop, I am just starting to feel better and getting back to writing, to thinking creatively and being excited about it all.
So, how can you get there? Here are my 8 tips on how to get back on track with your goals:
1. Assess what stage you are in
To know what stage you are in, will help you determine the next steps to take.
For example, if you are in the overwhelmed phase, it would be next to impossible to jump right to taking the first steps in the right direction again. You first have to take very good care of yourself.
The process might look like this:
You realize that there is a lot on your plate, but you want to push forward on your goals, so you just keep going. Probably, you don’t know how to scale down and simply hope it will get better on its own. Trust me, it never does get better on its own. You need to make it better. And you can do it.
This is the head-in-the-sand feeling, where all of a sudden even enjoyable activities like hanging out with friends or taking time for yourself will stress you out. You might come to a halt and stop as many stressors as possible. Work, health, and family-related stressors are usually much harder to put on hold and might need an entirely different approach.
In all honesty, I can say that I am not able to look at any of these tips in any stage before ‘rebound’. Self-care and feeling better must come first.
2. Go back to your why
Why did you set your goal in the first place? Every good goal starts with why. Go back and try to find it. Tell yourself or write down why you decided to take on this goal in the first place.
A few days ago, a co-worker asked me about my blog. I sighed and told her how I put it on hiatus because I was overwhelmed. As I described the entire situation to her and explained the purpose of this blog, I reminded myself why I started this in the first place. Inspiring people to follow their dreams and live their lives passionately is what this site is all about. Et voilà, I am currently working on this article and taking the first step back. Whatever your goal is or was, dig deep and find your WHY. The more you can tie it to a positive emotion, the easier it will be for you to get back on track.
3. Assess your goal(s)
Take a good look at your goals for the year. Go through them one by one, prioritize again and throw overboard what no longer suits you. What is your most important item? Put this on top of your list. Goals can change. That’s ok.
4. Are you still passionate about your goal?
Let’s talk about the one goal you have gotten off track with. How much do you still want it? Very much? Is it worth fighting for? If deep down, you don’t really care about your goal it will be infinitely harder to get back and stay on track.
5. Acknowledge and let go
Acknowledging what is happening and being ok with it is an important step to make when you want to get back on track. Try to write down your own acknowledgment sentence:
“I have gotten off track with ______________ because ________________________. I need to _________________. I will not beat myself up about it anymore. It is ok to get overwhelmed and it is even better to take care of myself. I am still passionate about ________________ and want it to succeed. I can do it!”
Wow, this felt good, hey?
Here is mine: “I have gotten off track with blogging because I was overwhelmed by work and all that needed to be done to kick-start this blog. Stopping everything and getting better first is my first priority. I will not beat myself up about it anymore. It is ok to get overwhelmed and it is even better to take care of myself. I am still passionate about my blog and want it to succeed. Everything I want to achieve, I can achieve.”
6. What is holding you back?
When you think about getting back on track, what does this look and feel like? Are you feeling overwhelmed just thinking about it? Do you feel you don’t know where to start again or are you afraid that you can’t do it? Write down all your perceived and real obstacles and ideas on how to overcome them and then move on to the next point.
7. Create a new action plan
Now that you have reconfirmed your goals and acknowledged your obstacles, it is time to set a new action plan and schedule. Start small. Don’t overwhelm yourself again. Include enough self-care in your plan and remember that a schedule is not a deadline. You want to enjoy this.
8. Put your plan into action
Just get started, it doesn’t have to be perfect. After all
your careful planning, you can’t go wrong. Start small and start somewhere. If you need a day off tomorrow, that is ok. If you keep thinking about it, that is excellent. It means you are excited about your goal and that will help you get back on track. Take your time.
No matter where in the process you are, you deserve a big pat on your back. Just the fact that you are thinking about this, means you are on the way to getting better and getting back on track. You have not abandoned your goal, but rather care about it so much that you researched on how to get back on track. Hold on to this. It will serve you well and get you far. This all takes time, patience and persistence. Be good to yourself.
If you are a journaler, track your progress in your (bullet) journal. I am not kidding, this makes you realize that you are making progress. It is very powerful. Because after all, happiness is perceived progress.
Throughout my journey of recent overwhelm and resulting self-care, I came across this quote, that has helped me to make it through and helped me get back on track:
Be stubborn about your goals, but flexible about your methods. Namaste.
by Nikola | Mar 2, 2019 | Bullet Journaling
It has come to this. You have started your bullet journal or been looking at other people’s successes with their journals and couldn’t help yourself but feeling utterly envious of the simple ease with which presumably all the bullet journalers skillfully master their fonts and headlines. I hear you, I have been there, and I have searched many times for “brush lettering tutorial”.
I’ll be super honest with you, what you see online is so often the most perfected version of itself, in this case, brush lettering or faux calligraphy. Don’t get me wrong, I utterly admire all those wonderfully skilled artists out there that have mastered the skill of calligraphy and the art of brush lettering. I know from my own experience, it takes a lot of practice, patience, diligence, not giving up and bit more practice. Yes, and let’s add a bit more practice, please. After all, practice makes perfect. I have yet to come across a single brush lettering tutorial that shows the struggles the artists face.
And of the topic of being honest, I did study graphic design, a long time ago and for that, I had to take courses in calligraphy. Even so, brush lettering IS hard. Creating elegant swirls and holding the pen do come easily to me, yet my lettering is often not as perfect as I would like it to be. Nevertheless, I do not mean to discourage you. On the contrary. I am writing this post about brush lettering for you, to tell you to just dive in, hang in there and/or not give up. You will get there, all it takes is practice and accepting the stage you are in.
Brush lettering tutorial: Real-life trick #1: Tools
To get started, you won’t need to rush to by fancy paper or pens. Don’t get me wrong, I love fancy stationery, but there are less expensive options out there for sure. What you will need:
- Brush pen or Crayola pip squeak pen, brush and watercolor
Yes, a brush pen is probably best, but before spending money on a pen you probably run dry just by practicing your letters, you could practice the technique of holding it and varying pressure just as easily with a Crayola pip squeak pen. I borrow my daughter’s pens sometimes. Oops, another real-life trick comes out.Brush lettering tutorial:
Brush lettering tutorial: Real-life trick #2: Paper
The smoother the paper, the better for the pen. But again, don’t worry about buying fancy paper if you are just practicing with a practice pen. The exercise is just as effective. Tracing paper also helps, if you have that handy. Using lined paper also helps at first to get the hang of writing straight.
Brush lettering tutorial: Real-life trick #3: Technique
What do brush letters consist of? In short, thinner upstrokes, and thicker down strokes and some transitions in between. Let’s try.
Practice simple up and down strokes and fill a full page. Get a good feel for the pen and how much pressure it takes to create thinner versus thicker lines. Go and practice now. Once you feel confident, try to put up strokes and down strokes together in a waveform. Practice and fill another page.
Brush lettering tutorial: Real-life trick #4: Practice
I know you can’t wait to progress and get to use this font in your bullet journal. But again, think of the four P’s: grab your pen and paper and patience, and practice. Ok, I’ll give you two letters to practice the combined up and down strokes: n and u.
Done? Great, let’s move on. Let’s progress to the next level: curves.
The trick with curves is to not rush it and control the amount of pressure to the pen and angle you hold it in. Practice some a’s, e’s, c’s Now you can add strokes to curves like in the letter d, g or q.
Again, take your time, pick up the pen from the paper very briefly, if needed, and keep going.
Brush lettering tutorial: Real-life trick #5: Make things easier
Have a look at your favourite brush lettering style and get familiar with the shape of each letter. Practice the flow of the letters with a regular fine tip pen to get the shape into your muscle memory. When this feels familiar switch to the brush pen. Fill pages and pages with your letters.
Brush lettering tutorial: Real-life trick #6: Cheat
Use a pencil to sketch out the word on your page. Either use a brush pen right away or add a second line next to your down-strokes to mimic the thin-thick effect and then fill the gap between the two down strokes and voila, you have created faux calligraphy. Yay. By using a pencil you see how much space the word takes up on your space and where you want your swirls to land.
Brush lettering tutorial: Real-life trick #7: Practice makes perfect
Do you see how many of these letters look uneven or have too little variation in the thickness of the stroke? It is because this takes a lot of practice. I can’t stress this enough. Practice makes perfect.
Brush lettering tutorial: Real-life trick #8: Large font
Another trick is to try a larger font first. The change between thick and thin strokes is way easier to master in a larger font. When you feel confident in lettering larger words, try your hand at smaller fonts.
Whenever you feel like it, start transferring your new skills to your bullet journal. Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. It is all part of the process. Thanks for reading. What do you struggle most with when it comes to hand lettering? Let me know, I would love to know how I can help you.
by Nikola | Feb 20, 2019 | Achieve your goals
You might have read that I recently was overwhelmed and had to take a step back from the multitude of tasks that I put on my own to do list:
- taking care of my family
- being the best version of myself at my job
- keeping the house clean (luckily I don’t have to shoulder that all by myself)
- this blog, horse-back riding
- taking riding lessons
- looking after my health
- working out
- professional development
- socializing for myself and my daughter
The list goes on. In short, I was having a hard time and needed to find a way on how to stay focused to follow my dreams.
As I outlined in “Feeling overwhelmed?”, to get better, I had to take a step back, scale down my pace and prioritize. I also tried the 15 minute-block challenge. While I enjoyed going through the exercise, I knew what I am spending my time on. In my opinion, the 15 minute-block method is great if you don’t have a good sense of where you spend your time. It reveals where there might be pockets of time that could be optimized and serves as a reminder to use “waiting time”. So far I haven’t been able to make dramatic changes. So I kept researching and exploring.
As it so often is the case with synchronicities, because you attract what you focus on, I came across this quote:
The simplicity of Mr. Maxwell’s statement struck a cord in me. Achieving your goals and living your dreams needs you to focus and manage your priorities.
Here are the 13 tips that help me focus:
When you prioritize your tasks you create a clear mental picture on where you want to focus your energy on. Even though 20 things may seem like a top priority right now, something has to give. You are only human!
Put everything you need to do and accomplish on a piece of paper or in your bullet journal and write it down. The Brain Dump exercise might give you an idea on where to start. Then, go through and find the top three things that you need to tackle first.
2. One thing at a time
Being able to multitask is praised as a top quality in any employee. But there is a steep price that multitaskers pay. According to a 2009 Stanford Study, multitaskers are more easily distracted, have a decreased memory capacity and ability to switch from one task to the next.
Even computers are not able to multitask: they process one 0 or 1 at a time. They are just extremely fast at it.
Stopping constant multitasking is something I learned quickly at my current job. There are always a million things to do and they all seem to be most important, right now! The pace is fast, but when it is at its fastest, I put my head down and focus only on one thing at a time: when it is time to put the monthly newsletter together, I clear everything else off my desk. I get the distracting and interrupting tasks like emails, social media content creation and scheduling out of the way, and then fully dedicate my attention to writing, image creation and putting it all together.
3. Take a break
Breaks are as important as getting things done. Give your body and brain a break from the task at hand and relax your eyes and your mind. It can be as little as taking a 20 sec screen break, to getting some tea or coffee or even going for a walk during lunch. I am still amazed what a walk over lunch does for me. When I come back, I am energized, focused and much more balanced during the afternoon.
4. Get organized
Being organized is much more than having an up-to-date to-do list and decluttering your space. They are important pieces to the puzzle, but there is even more that you can do to bring focus and clarity to your life. Here are a few simple ideas on how to stay focused and organize your life:
• Place items such as phone, keys, wallet, sunglasses always in the same spot
• Put your monthly bills in a stack and pay them on time
• Lay out your clothes for the next day
• Keep a running grocery list. I use this great app for it called Wunderlist.
Bringing order into your life will help you stay on track and on focus so you can devote your energy to your main goals in life.
5. Quiet Place
A quiet space to work that keeps outside distractions to a minimum helps you stay in your zone and lets your creativity flow. Some people work well with music, others prefer to work without. Find out where your sweet spot is.
6. Keep work at work
In today’s day and age, it seems that there are real pressures on many of us to take work home and be available beyond the working hours. Where it is sometimes necessary to work overtime to get the job done, research has shown that doing it consistently depletes mental and physical energy. If we are not able to detach from work, we might be detaching from important personal relationships sooner or later. Keeping healthy boundaries will let you arrive at work refreshed, focused and with the ability to be innovative. Here is a great article on detaching from work on Psychologytoday.com.
7. A good night’s sleep
Getting consistently enough sleep is vital to a healthy mind, body and keeping you excited about your day and your goals. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults between ages 26 – 64 should get on average between 7-9 hrs of sleep per night.
Do you feel you have “brain fog” a lot or are increasingly forgetful? Regular exercise releases chemicals in your brains that will positively impact your memory, concentration, and mental focus, according to the Harvard Medical School. If you exercise your body, you also exercise your brain. Rigorous exercise will also allow you to shut off your brain that keeps running up and down your to-do lists.
9. Devote specific hours to tasks
When you plan your week ahead, devote specific hours to specific tasks, like checking your email in the morning, after lunch and before the end of your day. Get the most important tasks tackled in the morning, when your focus and energy are the freshest. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and you will be able to see how you make progress every day.
10. Embrace doing nothing
There is nothing wrong with taking some time away from your to-do list. Scientists suggest that spending time in meditation or simply doing nothing at all are essential to our mental and physical health, increase productivity and creativity. The Italians even have a name for the art of doing nothing: ‘Dolce far niente‘ or The sweetness of doing nothing.
Clutter is a huge form of distraction not only in your work space but also in your life. You don’t have to become a clean-o-maniac, but make sure that your space, home, office is beneficial and conducive to achieving your goals and following your dreams.
12. Minimize distractions
When you are working on your goals, say no to all distractions: email, social media, TV, gaming, or your mobile phone. Electronics are usually the worst offenders. You can feel busy with busy-work, but not get the big-ticket items on your list done.
13. Nourish your body
Your health is the most important asset you have in your life. Money, friends, great dreams become secondary if you are lacking in health. Nourish your body with what it really needs to stay focused. Everybody is different and you need to find out what works best for you.
Speaking of synchronicities, this is a story that I recently read in a newsletter, which I usually delete without reading (how ironic, I know), and since then realized it can be found all over the internet, albeit with slight alterations.
Focus on the glass of water
One day, a new employee went to the HR manager and said, “I’m not interested in coming to the office anymore.” The HR manager responded, “But why?”
“There are people who do a lot of politics and talk negatively all the time. Some are gossiping constantly,” the young man replied.
“OK, but before you go, can you do one last thing? Take a full glass of water and walk three times around the office without spilling a drop on the floor. After that, leave the office if you wish,” countered the HR manager. “Heck, it’s a matter of minutes,” thought the young man, so he walked three times around the office with this full glass of water in hand.
As he reached the HR office the HR manager asked, “When you were walking around the office, did you see any employee speaking badly about another employee? Any Gossips?” The young man replied, “No.” Then the HR manager asked, “Did you see any employee looking at other employees the wrong way?” The young man repeated, “No.” “Do you know why?” asked the HR manager and the young man replied again, “No.”
“The reason you didn’t see any of that is that you were focused on the glass, to make sure you didn’t tip it and spill any water and the same goes with your life. When our focus is on our priorities, we don’t have time to see the mistakes of others,” explained the HR manager.
How to stay focused time and time again? It helps if you love what you do. Whether it is your work, your side hustle, your goals and dreams you follow, we can all come back to our focus, because we are motivated to follow our passion. However, it is not always that easy to love what you do. Try to use the impetus of what you don’t love as motivation to make a change that does inspire you. But that topic is certainly worth its own article.
Look after your health, physically and mentally, focus on your priorities and your goals and dreams will be within your reach. Happy focusing and I’d be curious to know what works for you and what you struggle with most when it comes to staying focused.
by Nikola | Feb 6, 2019 | Bullet Journaling
Have you tried to incorporate a new habit into your life to improve your quality of life? Or maybe you have tried to increase, let’s say, your daily water intake using a habit tracker? If you are like me you probably have tried out new habits and failed at times and succeeded in some others.
Using a habit tracker, what did you find? Is it just one more thing on your to-do list or are you struggling with finding the perfect app or system that works for you? Well, your bullet journal is a great place to start. I’ll show you 80 ideas for habits to track using your journal. With a journal, you have total control over how your “app” will look, everything you want to track is in one place and you will create the perfect system that fits your needs. Do you need more reasons for starting to track your habits in your bullet journal? Glad you asked.
Benefits of using a habit tracker
For a new habit become second nature to you, it takes on average more than two months for a new behaviour to become a real habit. If you absolutely want a number, experts say that 66 days of performing an action daily a new habit will set in. This all depends though on each individual person and circumstances.
Using a habit tracker will
- Make it likelier to achieve your goals
- Give you a sense of everyday accomplishment and a feeling of being in control
- Show you how you are doing with your goals
- Offer insights into new ways to adjust if need be
“The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” – John C Maxwell
If you are looking to create a series of new habits, experts recommend to work on one at a time and then build on the established habit. Let a habit be the trigger for your new habit. For example: When you wake up, drink one cup of water. When you mastered that, you can add the next habit, such as practice your daily affirmations. And so on. Stack your habits so to speak.
How to track your habits
When it comes to tracking your habits, it is all about your personal preference. Use whatever system that works best for you and that you enjoy the most. Remember, tracking takes determination to keep going, just like your new habit.
Here are a few ideas for tracking your habits:
- Bullet journal
- App on your phone or computer
Habit Tracker Ideas for your Bullet Journal
Depending on the tracker and habit that you want to cultivate, you can use a daily, weekly, monthly or annual tracking system. Some work better than others. I just created a double page with all the things I want to track this year. Somewhere during the process, I realized that I should have opted for a monthly tracker spread though.
If you would like to increase your water to eight glasses per day (approx. 2l) you might feel more motivated to track each glass of water you drink. Therefore a daily tracker in your weekly log might be most helpful. For most trackers, a monthly spread works really well.
Here is a list of ideas of habits to track:
- Reducing Screen time
- Bullet Journal
- Call/write to one friend or family member
- Get outside
- Get up by (X)am
- Go to bed by (X)pm
- (X) hours of sleep
Health and Fitness
- Minutes walked
- Supplements and Vitamins
- Record weight
- No smoking
- No processed sugar
- Meal planning
- Food prep
- No soda/pop
- Calorie intake
- Water intake
- No alcohol
- Body lotion
- Face cream
- Mop floors
- Load/Un-load Dishwasher
- Clean counters
- Clean bathrooms
- Water plants
- Grocery shopping
- Change bedding
- Quality time with kids
- Reading to child(ren)
- Playing outside
- Quality time with partner
- Spending time with pet
- Cleaning litter/feeding bowls/Cage etc/
- Wash Car
- Vacuum inside of car
- Declutter interior
- Check oil
- No spend
- Track expenses
- Monthly savings
- Track income
- Pay bills/debt
- No eating out
- Playing instrument
- Creative writing
- Create blog post
- Read emails
- Take pictures
- Fill Social Media channels
- Learn something new
- Sign-up for e-course
- Email marketing
- Plan material/posts/content for next quarter
Whatever habits you decide to track and what kind of tracker you use, remember to keep the goal in mind and make the ride as motivating and enjoyable as you can. And if something does not work for you, tweak it. Never give up on your dreams and trying to improve your quality of life. It’s all about you!
Shoot me a message or comment in the section below what habit trackers you like to use and find the most helpful.
by Nikola | Jan 22, 2019 | Happiness
I must admit I feel a little bit foolish right now. Here I am chasing my own dreams, getting ahead and thinking that things couldn’t work out any better. Until I sat at my chiropractor’s office and going over my test results that show clearly that I have been running at full speed without refueling for a bit too long. I am feeling overwhelmed. Big time. My body is telling me to slow down.
Why is everything a bit too much all of a sudden? Why am I feeling so overwhelmed? Am I not following my dreams with this blog, with going riding, with the dream job that I have, with starting to work out more, with daily affirmations, bullet journals and social media channels that want to be updated every day? Typing this all out it becomes obvious to me, doesn’t it? But I love all those things and they make me happy. As I said, I am feeling a bit foolish right now.
Maybe for the first time ever, I am extremely driven and determined, because I am following my dreams. I was and still am utterly surprised that this let to an impasse. Isn’t following your dreams the ultimate goal? Sigh, yes, but it needs to be sustainable. My mind tells me “blah blah” right now and all I want to do is poke my tongue at myself with every sentence I write. I should heed my own advice for a change and do all the things I write about. I usually do, but I clearly have not taken good care of myself in the last little while.
What to do when feeling overwhelmed?
So what would be my own advice? Taking a good look at my older posts about self-care, time management and all the bullet journal prompts, I came to the conclusion, that yes, they were all valid. So I decided to get to the root of the problem and assessed this whole mess. Where to start? Glad you asked.
Be gentle to yourself
Take a moment to breathe. Or a day, or two, or a week. Whatever you feel you need to catch your breath. Don’t judge yourself or how you are feeling. This feeling of overwhelm is there to protect you, as weird as it sounds. If you would not have noticed somehow, you could have developed a serious condition. We are experts at fooling ourselves and talking us into thinking that everything is fine when we should take it slow.
I was, and still am a little bit, convinced that everything was going fine, and I felt great. Honestly, this came as a shock to me. I’ll try not to feel defeated by this realization and rather use it as an impetus to tweak and grow.
Let’s start with a Brain Dump, where you dump all your tasks or any stray thoughts onto a page. I used my bullet journal for this. *winkwink*. Get it all out there. Let it sit and just look at it. Overwhelming? Go figure.
You could compare this to a download of information from your brain onto a page. You become more calm, regain mental space and quieten your mind that tried to hold onto every thought and task, running like a hamster in it’s wheel.
Categorize all your tasks into the following categories (or any that make sense to you):
- Necessity (don’t forget to add sleep and eat)
- Nice to have
- Health etc.
This practice will help you see a clear big picture. After putting everything on paper, it will become more evident what is important to you, what has to be accomplished and what could be postponed until some later time.
Strategize and cut back excess
Create, your daily schedule, because after all, a day has only 24 hrs. I followed Matt Ragland’s 15 Minute Block system. Fill in the hours with the necessities like work, sleep, eat, commute and family. Then add your wants as they are what make you happy: friends, hobbies, working out, ME TIME. Start with your current schedule and look for ways to optimize it, then run with it for a week. After a week of diligent tracking, you might have gained valuable insights on how to tweak things. Make sure you add breathing room or small pockets of me-time. Can you optimize your daily schedule or cut back to work on your dreams for one hour a day. You can achieve a lot in one hour per day. Check out my article about time management.
It is always a good idea to reach out to others and seek help. Simply acknowledging the fact that you are feeling overwhelmed is a good step in the right direction. Talk to your partner, a friend, a doctor or practitioner. You will know what is best for you. By noticing, acknowledging and working on the challenges that presents itself before us, we grow into an even better version of ourselves.
Keep focusing on the end goal, reducing stress and the feeling of overwhelm. Test out your new strategy or schedule and run with it for a week. If it doesn’t work, go back to the drawing board and change it. This needs to work for you and nobody else.
What I am doing about all of my mess?
I started to slow down. Then I decided to share this with you as it feels the most authentic to me. I would not be authentic if I couldn’t share that I too get overwhelmed sometimes. So finally, this past week, i heeded my own advice and assessed my own to-do list, daily tasks by using the brain dump method. Scaling back my own expectation was the biggest challenge for me. Now, I committed myself to the 15 Minute-block time-track challenge to assess the use of my time and see how I could optimize it. In addition, I prioritized going back to a regular Pilates routine and seeing my chiropractor to get back in shape. Even though I feel like I’d rather be an ostrich putting my head in the sand, I keep repeating my affirmation – you could also call them a mantra – “You can do this!”
Feeling overwhelmed is never a good feeling. However, that you notice what is going on is a huge step forward. You can only get better when you know that something is not going right. Give yourself a pat on the back for it. I mean it. Do it now. That’s nice.
Don’t forget to breathe and take it slow. As slow as you need. You will be able to get back on track!