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.

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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!

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