My Mid-Year Review

As we are now halfway through 2017 (erm… how did that happen?!), I thought it would be helpful to review my year so far and see what I’ve achieved and where I’m going for the second half of the year.

This happens to coincide with me moving into my new bullet journal so this post will cover that process, as well as a review of my goals. I’ve never done a mid-year review before, but it felt really productive and I think you could benefit from doing something similar too.

mid-year review, bujo, bullet journal, planning, goals

I began this process by looking back at the goals that I set for myself in January. It’s been a long time since I set New Year’s Resolutions, but this year I decided to set a series of goals for the year and come up with action steps to achieve them.

I broke them down into four categories: personal development, professional, home & family, and financial. In each category, I had 2-3 separate goals, such as increase fitness, publish next book, and de-clutter house. Having learned about the Getting Things Done (or GTD) system, I soon realised that having these big projects listed was of limited use. What I needed to do in order to achieve these goals, was to break each of them down into individual action steps.

Throughout the first half of the year, I have fallen in and out of my planning. Some months or weeks, I have incorporated these goals and action steps into my bullet journal spreads. But other times I’ve left them out. Take a guess when I managed to make progress on these goals…

In doing this review, I had to be honest with myself about what was and wasn’t working for me. I really set myself too many huge projects, so many of them have fallen by the wayside completely. Going forward, I know I need to limit myself to just one big project at a time, with other secondary projects that can be progressed alongside that. I wasn’t realistic about what I could take on in one year, even if my organisation had been absolutely spot on for the whole six months I would have been pushed to make good progress on more than a couple of these big projects.

There were two areas that I have made strides in, however, and I am super proud of that. I got my fourth book finished and published, resulting in my best day of sales to date. I’m now taking a little break from writing fiction to focus on this blog and my next big creative project. Right here is the other big area of progress! I wanted to redesign Spirited Mama, connect with other bloggers and grow my audience. All of this is happening.

The Big Questions

The next stage of the review was to complete a questionnaire that I picked up from Lisa Jacobs over at Marketing Creativity. Lisa created a list of 10 questions, which I adapted slightly, that cover successes and disappointments of the year so far, as well as changes for the remainder of the year.

The questions I asked myself:

  1. What feels good about the first half of the year?
  2. What areas of your life or business are feeling out of sync?
  3. What do you want the rest of the year to feel like? What would you like to see take shape?
  4. What will you need to do to make that visualisation come true?
  5. What would you like to stop doing? What’s eating up your time, making you feel bad, or not contributing to your best life in any way?
  6. What activities, products, actions, or ideas are working for you this year?
  7. What was your best creative business pay day?
  8. What actions bring subscribers, fans and followers?
  9. What isn’t working? What’s costing time and money for poor return?
  10. What do you want more of in the second half of 2017?
  11. How might you change your approach going forward?

These questions are obviously aimed primarily at people running a business, but the first five and last two can easily apply to anyone. Going through them has given me the chance to pause and reflect, examine what works and what doesn’t, and plan for the future. For instance, I know that I want to be more positive and productive, spend more time with my kids, and grow my income. What’s more, I know what tools to use and steps to take to achieve these goals.

In my bullet journal

As I am moving into my second bullet journal this month, I have been able to take on board what I have learned in doing this review, and implement changes in my bujo. I have loved bullet journaling. It’s no exaggeration to say that it has changed my life. I’m feeling so much more organised and inspired. The major advantage that bullet journaling has over standard planners is the ability to completely customise it. If you try something one week, or month, and it doesn’t work out, you can simply change it up with a new spread whenever you like.

My spreads have evolved since I started in January and I have a better idea of what works for me now. Setting up my new notebook with favourite collections that I wanted to copy over was really enjoyable and made me feel charged with purpose for the coming months.

The first page for the month that I set up was my active projects and goals spread. Knowing now that I need to be more focused and reflect on my goals more frequently, it seemed appropriate to not only have a spread for my annual goals, but one for each month as well.

bujo planning July goals spread

Next up is the traditional bujo monthly spread, more or less. Alongside it, I have included a spread that I used in June in my last notebook, an Income Log. I tried tracking my spending back in May, but I didn’t keep up with it and it actually kept me stuck in a negative mindset. I decided to log all money and value coming into my life instead. This can include things like being gifted a discount for something, or getting a freebie from a mailing list. Any time I receive something of value, I make a note of it. This helps me to feel positive about money and the abundance in my life.

Ryder Carroll traditional monthly layout, income log

I’ve been keeping a gratitude log for a few months now. Very simply, I note down one thing every day that I am grateful for. On bad days it might be something as basic as “my bed”, but since keeping this log, the bad days have grown fewer and more far between. Opposite this, I have a self care log. I used to do a monthly tracker with all the individual self-care acts I wanted to increase in my life listed separately. But I found this too overwhelming, trying to establish too many habits at once. Instead, much like the Gratitude Log, I just note one thing each day that I have done to take care of myself.

gratitude and self care log

going forward

So what are my goals for the remainder of 2017? My top priority is right here, giving you guys great content on a regular basis. Then there’s my creative writing course, Fun and Ink, which I am aiming to get launched this summer. Finally, my fitness needs a very real kick up the butt. I have action plans in place for each, and am raring to go!

So how about you? How has 2107 been going and where are you going next? I love to hear from you, so leave a comment below.

A Miracle Morning Hack for Busy Mums

Delving into the world of bullet journalling has led me into this whole world of productivity systems. It’s vast and can be overwhelming. Which shiny new thing do I try first? What will work for me? Are these gurus genuine or trying to make a quick buck?

I make no claim to know all of the answers. But I have found a hack that is working for this busy mama… so far.

miracle Morning Hack for Busy Mums

The Miracle Morning is a book by Hal Elrod, which, I must admit, I haven’t actually read (you should see my to-read list!). But I came across the concept during my many hours of watching bujo videos on YouTube!

The idea is that you get up early and do certain activities first thing, before anything else. Hal calls these the Life S.A.V.E.R.S.

Silence

Affirmations

Visualisation

Exercise

Reading

Scribe

You can interpret them in a variety of ways and do them in any order, take as much or as little time as you like. Find a way that works for you. For example, you might meditate for half an hour, do a half hour workout, read a blog post, write your shopping list, tell your reflection how awesome you are and imagine meeting all your goals that day.

Or you might spend 90 minutes in the gym before doing anything else and knock out the other tasks in five minutes.

It’s totally up to you. But the idea is to get all of these things done before most people are even out of bed, giving you a head start on the day and setting you up for a super productive one.

I am not a morning person. At all. I have always struggled to get up, no matter what time I go to bed. This was true before children and is even more so now. When I started on this productivity/intentional living adventure last autumn, getting up early was one piece of advice I automatically dismissed. Nope, not going to happen. It was Allie Casazza’s course that got me started on this journey and she says that waking early is the key to her intentional lifestyle. But, she also acknowledges that there are seasons for this. If you have a young child, for example, and are having to wake frequently at night, then this might not be the right time for you to start getting up at 5am. That’s not really true of me these days, but I do sometimes have trouble sleeping.

But when I came across the Miracle Morning, I felt this might be something worth changing my ways for.

bujo bullet journal Miracle Morning Hack

My spread in my Bullet Journal

This is still very much a work in progress and I totally hack this whole idea to suit my needs and my family at this point in our lives. I do not, as Allie Casazza recommends, rise before my children, so that I am waking up for my children, rather than waking up to their noise and demands. My kids are always up before 7am, often around 6. I need 8 hours sleep. In order to get up at 5, I would need to be asleep by 9pm. My kids don’t go to sleep until 8pm. I would need to be getting ready for bed right after they go to sleep! I would get literally no time alone with the husbeast, no time to chill out in front of the TV. So I know this routine wouldn’t work for me.

So I fudge it.

I quickly realised that the S.A.V.E.R.S. could be combined quite effectively. Yoga, for example, is both exercise and meditative (silence). I decided to embark on this 30 Day Yoga Challenge as part of my hacked Miracle Morning. It is never in silence, as not only do I have the video playing on my TV or iPad, but the kids are already up and making the noise that comes with that. But I make do. I shut the door, I tune them out as best I can and focus on my yoga session. The flows in this challenge are only 10-15 minutes, so it’s not too demanding of my time, and is a lovely way to start the day. It clears my head, which is the main purpose behind the first S.

Next, I head to the shower (most days I actually do a kettlebell workout after yoga, adding to my exercise, but this isn’t strictly part of my hack) and do my affirmations and visualisation while showering! I can’t hear the kids from the bathroom, so it’s me and the running water. Bliss. I have a list of affirmations and usually pick three or four to repeat a few times while shampooing my hair. Then I close my eyes and picture the things I want to get done that day, I imagine myself completing my tasks. I often picture a longer term goal being completed too, and crucially, the steps to get there.

Once I’m dressed, I read through a bit of my bullet journal, checking my schedule for the day and week, then write something in it. This might be another task that has occurred to me since planning the day out the previous evening, or logging my morning so far (I have various trackers in there, including my Miracle Morning).

And that’s it. That’s my hack. It takes just over half an hour!

It’s probably not what Hal Elrod had in mind, but it is my way of incorporating what I can of his system into my life with two young children who rise early!

Morning Pages notebookThis month, I decided I would start doing Morning Pages too, which also ticks the “Scribe” box. This is a truly beautiful idea and really, I think it’s a must for most people, especially parents and creative people. The idea is very simple, you write three pages, stream of consciousness style, before doing anything else after waking. Realistically, I go to the loo first haha! But then I get back into bed, get out my lovely journal – I have a separate notebook for this, but you could use your bullet journal – and write. Granted, it’s only day two of this for me, so it remains to be seen if I will keep it up. It does stretch out my Miracle Morning substantially, so it isn’t practical on days when we need to be out of the house in the morning, but on the days when we are in no rush, it’s a peaceful and therapeutic way to begin the day.

It’s a brain dump, a way to vent frustrations, note dreams, draw attention to the positives too. It’s a chance to get everything out of my head and onto the page. Unexpected things might crop up, tasks to do, project ideas, a conversation from the previous day that has been on my mind. Getting it all out clears way for all the day’s new input. I find it works really well in conjunction with Getting Things Done, by David Allen, another productivity system that I am implementing in my life. More on that in another post, I think 😉

I really love my Miracle Morning hack. Maybe one day I will be able to implement it all in full, taking my time, and actually getting the Silence in there too! But this is a step along the way. Feel free to implement this idea into your routine, or take it and turn it into something that works for you. My mantra ever since becoming a mother has been “do what works”. So far, that approach hasn’t let me down.

Do you incorporate anything from the Miracle Morning into your morning routine? Let me know in the comments if you have a hack of your own!

If you like what you’ve read here, please hit the “follow” button. You can also connect with me on social media.

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Bullet Journalling Can Seriously Level Up Your Life

Bullet journalling can streamline your life and help you live more intentionally.

This is my introductory post to the wonderful world of “bujo”, how I found it, how I’m implementing it and how it has improved my life in just a few weeks. I believe it can help you level up your life too!

This post includes some affiliate links. I may earn a small commission on purchases made through these links. I will always be honest about products I use and never recommend something I have not personally used.
Bujo Bullet Journal Title

I first encountered bullet journalling last year and my first impression was pretty much “Soooo pretty! What a lovely way to procrastinate!” I dismissed the idea, believing that it couldn’t possibly help me be more productive as it would suck my time too much.

Then last month I came back to the idea. I’m not sure what drew me back now, I don’t recall. I finally watched the Ryder Carroll video, then went on Pinterest and started searching functional spreads. Yes, many bujo enthusiasts certainly do make beautiful spreads, but that’s the extra sweet topping on the cake, it’s not the main point.

For those totally new to the concept, the bullet journal system was created by Ryder Carroll as a means of organising life in one central notebook. You number the pages and keep an index in the front so you can easily find the page you are looking for later. You create a future plan, which is several months or a year’s worth of important dates all on one spread. You can add to it throughout the year as new events appear on the horizon.

My Future Planner

Then you zoom in a bit with a monthly view. There are infinite ways to create this spread, but in the basic system, you list the days of the month on the left hand page and note here any key events or appointments. On the right hand page you keep a running list of tasks for the month. For my monthly spread, I like to have a traditional calendar view on the left, then the right page has my goals, tasks and trackers.

bujo-monthly-spread

Next you zoom in even further and keep a log of your tasks for each day. Once you complete a task, you turn the bullet point into a cross, or whatever set of symbols works for you. If you don’t complete the task that day, you either cross it off as no longer relevant, migrate it to the next day, or schedule it in your future planner for another date in the future. Every task must be dealt with in one way or another. When you migrate a task, you write it out again in the next day’s log. You keep doing so until it gets dealt with.

bujo-key

The system is so simple and easy to pick up, it can work for anyone. You make of it what you want. I quickly decided I needed a weekly spread, as well as the monthly and daily ones. This gives me an overview of my week ahead, because you only write out the dailies one day at a time, so that they take up as much space as needed, and I like to be able to see everything I have going on so I can plan accordingly. I track all the promotions I am signed up to for my books, home education groups and socials, work time, appointments, date night and so on.

You can add anything you like to your bujo, it’s a totally customisable planner and notebook. Fancy doodling? Doodle away. Want to track your weight loss? Go for it. I’m doing a few challenges and self-development programs, so I track those too.

There are some truly gorgeous examples of spreads out there on Pinterest and Instagram, so if you want further inspiration, don’t hesitate to have a look there. You’ll want to search for “bullet journal” or “bujo”. The best thing about getting into this has been joining an amazing, global community. There are so many bloggers and YouTubers doing this, not to mention the groups on social media! I’m going to pop a few recommended links at the bottom of this post for you guys to check out.

leuchtturm1917-staedtler-triplus-finelinersThe next best thing for me has been the ability to indulge my obsession with stationery! While you absolutely can bujo (totally made that a verb) with any old notebook and writing implement, there are some items that make this a truly enjoyable and creative experience. I use the Leuchtturm 1917 notebook, favourite of a great many bullet journalists. I use the dotted version, as it makes drawing lines and tables really easy but is less obvious than the full grid version. They also do a lined one and it comes in loads of gorgeous colours.

I also absolutely love the Staedtler Triplus Fineliners. They are dreamy to write with and come in sets of various quantities. The colours are really bright and don’t bleed through the pages. There is some ghosting, where you can see a little of what is written on the other side of the page, but once the second side is full you hardly notice.

I was half right when I dismissed bujo as a distraction. It does take a lot of my time now that I was previously spending doing other things. But you know what? It’s the procrastination that I’m sacrificing. I’m choosing pen and paper and my creativity, over sitting staring at Facebook or mindless TV, and I spend waaaaay less time faffing about on my phone. I am so much more productive, actually tackling my to-do lists, rather than ignoring the mental list doing circles inside my head. I feel so much more balanced and mentally well now that I have not only this amazing organisational tool, but also a creative outlet and warm community to be part of.

Here are a few more of my spreads. I hope this post inspires you to join the bullet journal community.

bujo-bucket-list

 

bujo-health-spread

 

bujo-miracle-morning

 

bujo-writing-tracker

My Writing Tracker – I track the number of words written and hours spent each week

Other blogs and Channels you MUST check out!

Boho Berry – BlogYouTube

Christina 77 Star – BlogYouTube

Tiny Ray of Sunshine – Blog

A Wild Rumpus – BlogYouTube

Sublime Reflection – Blog

That’s all for now, folks. Be sure to hit that “follow” button and connect with me on social media. Thanks for reading. If you want to recommend any other blogs or bujo resources for other readers, please leave a comment below.

Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

2017 So Far…

This is just a super quick post to update my fabulous readers! This year has been amazing so far and I wanted to let you know that although I haven’t posted much yet, there is soooo much coming!

2017-goals-and-planning

Bullet Journal

The big thing is that I started bullet journaling. There is going to be an epic post on this coming up very soon, so stay tuned (or hit the “follow” button!). If you don’t know what this is, very briefly, it is a planning system that turns a simple notebook into a diary, planner and journal. The key component is that you place an index at the front of the notebook, number your pages, and list everything you put in there in the index so you can find it again later. You keep to-do lists, plan for the future and track whatever you like in the book. I highly recommend you check out the Bullet Journal website and watch the intro video by Ryder Carroll, the guy who first created the concept. Then head to Pinterest and search for “bujo”….

So that’s been taking up a great deal of my attention for the last month.

Kids, Birthdays & Birth

I’ve been running creative writing workshops for local home educated kids, which I am LOVING so much and am figuring out ways to do more of that.

img_2841-2It’s been a very Minecraft-focused period for the Munchkin and the Bean, they are obsessed and learning so much. I am bowled over constantly by how creative they are becoming. The Bean also turned 5 a couple of weeks ago! How crazy is that?! Of course, he had to have a Minecraft cake, and I confirmed, yet again, that cake decorating does not come naturally to me!

I did a lot of reflecting on his birth around his birthday this year, it being the fifth anniversary of an event that completely changed my life in so many ways. You can check out my post about his incredible birth here, and the contract I used to get the lotus-caesarean here.

Coming up, I am going to be blogging about what’s going on in the midwifery world right now, with bizarre and potentially discriminatory action by the NMC.

Living Life On Purpose

A few weeks ago, I decided to set myself a couple of challenges. One is a 30 days of yoga challenge, which I am actually sticking to and loving! The other, is to stop yelling at my kids. I’m not the perfect unconditional/gentle parent, I admit that and when tensions run high, I resort to yelling. I became really aware of how frequently I raised my voice and have made a conscious effort to stop, cold turkey. No yelling at all. I have messed up twice. I’ll post a more detailed account of that, the reasons for it and how I’m handling it.

intentional

The first page of my bullet journal

My main focus for 2017 is to live more intentionally. I’m aiming to be productive and present in the moment, not letting my time disappear with no real recollection of what I’ve been doing, which is all too easy to do as a busy mum at home with two crazy kids. The no yelling is part of that, as is the bullet journalling. But the most significant thing is the de-cluttering. I signed up to a course late last year and got all inspired. Hubby and I did a massive purge in December and took two carloads of stuff to a charity shop. But we have loads more to do, so I’ll be posting updates on that as we progress. There might even be “before” and “after” photos!

That’s all for now, folks.

TTFN