Bullet Journals

Although I christened this year, the year of productivity- this turn around really started in October 2017. One afternoon when it was pouring down with rain, I was embarking on a YouTube marathon- clicking video after video in an effort to find a productivity solution that would help me achieve my goals and eventually I stumbled across a bullet journal. Instantly I was hooked.

The pages when hand-drawn looked incredibly gorgeous and for someone who is obsessed with calligraphy and the written word, I saw little passions sparking up which I had long forgotten. So the next morning I got up and went on a mission to find the perfect journal- no need to twist this stationary addicts arm. My to my partner’s dismay, I dragged him for a 1-hour session at Typo, even I have to acknowledge I cannot be left unattended in the store, or we will end up homeless.Image result for shut up and take my money Everything I had read up on, stated that I needed a book with grids (almost like graph paper) or plain drawing pages (like a display book)- the external covers where just not cutesy enough and did not have any puns- so I settled for a ring bound, lined booklet. I chose the ring binder booklet because I am the sticky note queen and I need enough room to stick bits and pieces into the booklet and still be able to close it comfortable. bullet hournalAlso when I draw I have a bad habit of folding my book in half so get a ring binder eliminated bending the spine of the book- which I hate doing.

I excitedly rushed home pulled my journal out at a blank desk, along with all the stationary I could find (desk was no longer blank, in fact, there was no room to write…). I then spent fifteen minutes clearing a space so I could actually write. HAHA! So I stared at the page waiting for inspiration on how to start the journal. I was waiting… and waiting…. still waiting. This inspiration was little hard to find and so far had eluded me. Back to the research, I went.

Screen Shot 2018-01-26 at 10.15.39 amAll the avid Bullet Journals bloggers and guides that I came across warned, the best place to start was with an index or a key. In order to get the most out of the Bullet Journal you literally need to define your bullets and how you will manage the data, you’re putting down. The index not only defines the journal it also restricts it and makes a set of rules for your tasks to ensure you manage your time wisely and complete all the tasks you’re adding in-to the diary. So after learning how integral the key was, I began my journal by making one. After three failed attempts scraping all the designs I didn’t like and forcing my drawing muscles keywhich I had not used in a few years to work, I settled on this design. Even now I am still not sure if I like it, but it is functional and I cannot argue with that.

As the weeks went on I began to add more an more pages to the journal, the ones I kept, were my “good drafts”, there were many failed attempts which ended up in the can, on my journaling journey. I found that the ancillary pages were distracting- I don’t need the journal to track my weight, tell me what movies I have watched or what books I read. I needed the journal to track and manage my tasks – because my job is a constantly evolving beast of days that bleed into each other and many tasks which are half done and incomplete waiting for information, the journal was rapidly filling, but it just took up way to much time. I found myself rewriting the same information over and over as I moved tasks forward, to the point where I very nearly drove myself insane. As much as I loved the concept and boy oh boy I did. I had to let the Bullet Journal go, it didn’t work for me.

The Bullet Journal did teach me a few home truths that I had perhaps been ignoring;

  • My job is constantly evolving, and it is very hard to ever get to a point where every task is complete- whilst I might chip away at it, a little bit each day, it is hardly ever fully complete.
  • I do not drink enough water- that daily water chart flabbergasted me. I wasn’t drinking water at all- and was pretty much living just on caffeine. This was a slightly unanticipated discovery- it is funny the things we can ignore.
  • As much as I love calligraphy, I haven’t written things down in longhand since I left school ten years ago- I don’t have the patience to do it now. I have too much information to get on the page to be sitting down and writing it all in. I would never get any work done.
  • I failed last years New Years Resolution of read more books- I did not get through more than one whole book last year- although I started many.
  • I am the Jack of all Trades- I start many projects, I just don’t finish them.
  • I work way too much… and when I am done working for the day, I make a few extra jobs for myself, just in case. I need to STOP TRYING TO REINVENT THE WHEEL, and just get on with it. Knowing that I needed this book as a productivity tool, made me realise that I was just wasting too much time trying to make it work. I have learned if something is the right fit, it shouldn’t feel hard or like a chore.

After three months, I had to let the Bullet Journal go, I had to say goodbye- as much as I enjoyed writing and stretching those muscles, I HATED this journal. I want the Bullet Journal to really make my job easier to be the beacon of organisation in the chaos of unfinished tasks and really, it became a hindrance- much like food and sex, sounds like a great idea in theory, but it is just so messy…

Image result for food sexy


Maybe I will finally read the search…

I had just bought a Mac and picked it up a few days before, took it my parents house and we were sitting around the table looking at the screen. Mum opened up safari, she wanted to check “how fast google was”, I mean it must be different on a Mac to her iPad, right?

She started to type “Logopenic Primary Progressive Aphasia” and bookmarked the google search to my favourites bar, she turned the screen back to me and said, “that’s what dad has.” Gently she said the words, but they still hit me like a steam train right in the gut – within seconds I had lost that gooey “I just bought something new” glow and came crashing back to that sticky old mucky feeling of “F**k, what hell do we do now”.

Dad had been unwell for a little while and at first, we didn’t know. It started off kind of endearing, he would forget little things here and there. He’d start a sentence and never finish it. He’d put the kettle on and flick the lid up (cause my sister hated the whistle it made) and then completely forget he had put it on at all, until one of us found the kettle with the water almost completely gone still on the stove with that weird smell metal makes when it is too hot. He often forgot what day of the week it was, and on the weekend would get up super early for work and be heading to the garage before we caught him and said “Hey dad, it’s Saturday remember?!”

We had only really begun to take notice of these moments when dad was probably three years into his decline, see early on it kind of seems normal – it creeps in slowly like a trickle, you sort of don’t notice it. But three years down the track…. things were getting worse and we were really starting to see the strain on dad. He was starting to get frustrated a lot, like he was trying to tell us something but couldn’t find the right words. My mother, my sister and I, had many thoughts on what a possible diagnosis could be, which we all tried to explore, over and over we began to search, we couldn’t understand it. Retrospectively, we all came to the same conclusion around the same time, not that we ever discussed it, in fact, looking back, I think my mum sort of got there first, but I think we could all see the writing on the wall. Within months, it was confirmed by dad’s Neurologist.

Logopenic Primary Progressive Aphasia is a variant of Alzheimer’s disease- at least that’s what the first result on mum’s google search had told me. Mum had saved the search so that I could go back in my own time and start to learn a little bit more about it… it has been 18 months since she saved that search and I still have not gone and read any more about this diagnosis that is slowly stealing my father from me. I don’t want to know what is going to happen in six months time, I’m trying hard to focus on and in the moment, each and everyone I can steal before he goes. I don’t want to know at what point I will lose him because I don’t think I could face knowing. There are somethings we are just better not knowing.

What makes dad’s diagnosis so hard, is that he has Early on-set Alzheimers as well, which means its aggressive and fast. Dad was only 57 when he was first diagnosed and at the age of 59 now, only a few months away from 60, I can honestly say, when he thought about retirement, this was never what he pictured. Dad always talked about how he would whisk mum off to Europe, and sadly that now can’t happen. Our family feels so young, I feel so young, at 26 it is strange to think about making decisions which are going to impact the rest of someone’s life.

I listen to my friends and people my age, talk about their weekends and how they have had a fight with their parents because they didn’t get to wear what they wanted when they left the house, or they came home too late, or they fought about where your life is going, or what I am going to do next, or how should I go back to university and finish off the course I have been deferring for two years…. etc…. it all seems so futile… and here I am… lost… wondering if when I go over to mum and dads for a cup of coffee, will dad remember my name? Will he recognise me? Will he be able to get up and walk today?

Almost every day, I turn my Mac on and I open Safari and those words stare at me, “Logopenic Primary Progressive Aphasia”, maybe tomorrow I will finally read the articles that come up on the screen. Maybe, I will start with just one.


Break Ups are Hard

I walked into the kitchen, in a daze. There you were staring at me from across the room. I went to speak, but no sound came out. There was no point saying it again. we had been going round in circles for days.

I’m sorry, I just can’t do this anymore. I can’t pretend it doesn’t matter, that it doesn’t hurt. You don’t support me. When I need you, you just make everything harder. It Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 9.20.18 pmshouldn’t be like this, I shouldn’t have to fight you. You should be making things easier for me, but you’re just so much work. We could have done so much together…

Goodbye, Bullet Journal. 

A few weeks ago, I broke up with the Bullet Journal. It was a hard decision to make, I really needed the Bullet Journal, to work, but the extra work it created was so not worth it. It’s clucky, arduous and limiting. I need something that can work as fast as I do- handwriting out all the data I need for one simple task was just too much. The bullets don’t take you into the future the way you imagine they would, they hold you back, every time you rewrite a task, it makes you feel so unaccomplished. I haven’t had that feeling for a long time- I am not a fan…

Knowing that I need something more automated as a full-time productivity solution has brought me to investigating to-do list apps. This week I am trying out To-Do-ist to see if this can improve my productivity, which last week flew out the window. I do have to note that between the Bullet Journal and the to-do list, I went about a week without anything to rely on for organisation. Not having a fully functioning to do list made my life hell, I was floundering and it is easy to see where the headaches and migraines come from. I cannot handle chaos and disorganisation at work.

Moving into exploring productivity enhancements, I want to know, what works for you? What’s your favourite method for improving efficiency?

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 10.22.42 pm

The Year of Productivity

2018 – come at me!! This year I have hit the ground running, I am planning and on top of everything so far. I have my entire year mapped out in front of me and I want to make the most of each moment. I felt last year, that I spent a lot of time idol and unproductive, that is not what I want moving forward. I spent so much time overthinking, out of survival I had to shut my brain off and operate in this kind of numbed and shut off state. That is not me, I am capable of so much more, I was coping out, giving up…giving in to 2017. I don’t want to look back and feel like I wasted time. Looking back on last year I spent a lot of time whinging about how hard it was and I don’t feel like I accomplished enough. This year, I am turning all of that around.

When I say I have my year mapped out in front of me, I am being literal, in every sense of the word. This is a picture of my current kitchen wall- I wake up every morning to my first cup of tea and this is what I see…

The Year of Productivity
kitchen wall calendar

My theory this year is not to call it a resolution. Resolution seems to have this little unwritten curse, like a promise that we know we won’t keep. This year it’s a change, a habit that I am keeping. My plan is to keep you updated on the tips and tricks I use along the way to make life a little bit easier, in hopes that you can hit the ground running too.

What are your new year plans? or dare I say, resolutions? I’d love to hear what you have planned. What is your year all about?



“I lost him”

It was around 2:30pm when you called. I had just reheated my lunch. The phone rang and your smiling face popped up on my screen.

I answered straight away, excited to hear your voice we only talk once or twice a fortnight so it’s always special when you call- your like a little ray of sunshine, always so happy and bright. As I answered my heart dropped. Hearing the sobs and gulps for air through your tears I knew exactly what had happened. “I just wanted to let you know, I just lost my dad” you cried. I went completely silent. Stunned I didn’t know what to say. “Did you hear me Bella” you asked through tear eyes. I stuttered. “Yes, yes, sorry, I just didn’t know what to say”.

We talked for a while and immediately I found myself saying all the clichés that I hate. “Everything will be okay.” “He loves you very much.” “It’s great that you got to go see him and spend time with him.” “Of course, you will miss him.” “He his not alone, there are so many people waiting for him on the other side.”

The finally those words flew out my mouth, “He had been sick for a while, it’s okay, he is at peace now”… I hated myself for saying it, how the hell is that supposed to be any comfort?? It sounded so holo to me.

Despite the fact that you are thirty years my senior we had found common ground when our fathers fell ill at the same time. Those fortnightly chats carried us through, we lent on each other as we travelled through this turbulent time. Your being the bubbelly bright spark that you are, helped me more than you know. Now here you are, needing me to comfort you and all that is spewing out of my mouth are a bunch of words that seem little comfort to me.

Whilst I really don’t know what to say or do, I’m here and I will have a handbag full of chocolate when your ready.

Finding Strength through Persistence.

I was a pretty frustrating child. I was annoying, dramatic and I always longed to be someone else. I was constantly trying to outwit/manoeuvre the system, I longed to be a crafty, flaky kid, sitting in a jazz club with a beret on listing to some poem I didn’t understand and clicking at the end in unison with everyone else- I wanted to be in that world so badly, I’d have done anything to get there. My mother, bless her soul, spent so long trying to understand why. She would spend hours talking with me, trying to process what was going on in my mind, attempting to make me grow and push through this rut that I landed myself in, which probably lasted a good ten-fifteen years – I fought her every step of the way, I am lucky I never pushed her over the edge, although a couple of times, I am pretty sure I came close. I never fought with my dad quiet as much, not sure why, for some reason I didn’t clash with his as much, probably because we were so similar, I didn’t have to try as hard to make him understand me. But my poor mum, I gave her a hard time, like nails on a chalkboard, I would drive her nuts.

Persistent, that is the best way I can describe her. No matter how much I yelled, screamed, cried, fought, made snarky inappropriate comments, she was persistent. She never gave up. When I had a problem, she always found the solution, even if I was totally unaware of it. She was in my corner fighting for me every step of the way, slowly as I grew, I started to notice it more and more.

We always had this joke, her and I, that she was my knight in shining armor, riding in on her horse coming to the rescue, sword in hand.

Then one day she started to get tired. Her health had started to deteriorate and she started to fade. Although my mum was still fighting for me, it became less and less at the front of the battle-line and more apparent that she was fighting from the shadows. No, not because she didn’t want me to see her, but because she was tired.

Around the time when I was 16, I was lying next to mum on the couch in the living room. She was exhausted. It was written all over her face – the smiles were still there, but there was a tired hollowness behind her eyes that I could see glaring at me. She needed a break. She had been fighting a losing battle, pushing herself to work after two years whilst being unwell, holding countless more years of undiagnosed issues before that in her hand- pushing forward without answers. Although we were all here to support her, my knight in shining armor was very much like superwoman she had to do it all herself – she took pride in all she did.

As she lay there on the couch, barely able to lift her head – all of a sudden, this giant, this warrior, this battleax full of fierceness – suddenly looked so small, so tired, as wave upon wave of exhaustion, started crash over her. At no time did she ever look weak (even in that moment), just simply tired. I took her hand that day as I sat with her, and I said “you are not going back, please do not go back, I won’t let you”. I was looking at this warrior, who fought every day to get out bed, struggled to get ready, every move of every limb looking like she was lifting hundreds of kilos, as the heaviness of exhaustion took over and I could not let her go back.

I held her hand that morning, as she made the call to work, to say she needed to retire – I sat with her for most of the day in fact. Pride, like I had never felt before, struck through me as she made that call – there were no tears, no shame – she simply said, “it’s time to look after me, I need to get better and I need answers.”

Then it came again, persistence. Except, this time, she was not only fighting for her family, her husband, the underdog, or me – this time, she fought for herself as well.

I had seen my mother fight for years, for everyone else, for those she loved and those she didn’t, in the countless children she taught, to ensure she not only educated, but she nurtured as well – I never had more pride in her, than in that moment, when I saw her fight for herself. It’s easy to fight for someone else, but it is very hard to say that you are worth fighting for.

I never gave up fighting with mum, I never gave up sparing with her – and I never made it easy. There were some days I am sure she wanted to pop me over the head and in a lot of situations we still don’t see eye to eye. But, every step I take, every decision I make, is because she fought – I will never stop attempting to make her proud. Her persistence is what gave me the strength to accomplish each and every milestone I have and will ever accomplish. Her persistence gave me a cause worth fighting for.

Annual Leave

I am a workaholic – there I said it!! I am that neurotic person who walks out of work at 5:30pm and by the time I have walked to my car (about 1km away), I have already checked my emails about a dozen times. It’s not unusual for me to get home after a full on day in the office and work another 4 – 5 hours. I have my personal mobile calls on a permanent diversion to my work mobile, so I only need to carry around the one work cellphone. I always field calls after-hours and like to be accessible to my clients, I am always there if they need me. Most days I am always on the go.

This week I have taken 5 days on annual leave, not because I need it, but because everyone around me keeps telling me to slow down – if I didn’t take some annual leave soon, I think my bosses would just change the locks to the office… although, knowing me, I would just climb in the window… Only one problem with taking time off – I am not good at it. I am not good at taking time for myself. I don’t like time to think and patience is just simply not a quality I possess. Then about two years ago (prompt by a crazy old roommate- although I would never admit it to her), we got two cats. No I am not a cat person, in fact I wanted a dog, but hey we ended up with cats.

They are the funniest, craziest, most loving little creatures. We have two female cats from the same litter, one who was the oldest (BMO) and one who is the runt (CatBug), and if you know your Land of Ooo and your Bravest Warriors, you will know where we pinched the names from. We got the two cheeky girls when they were just seven weeks old and have been caring for them ever since. In that time I have learned more about unconditional love and living in the moment than I thought I would. For someone who hates cats, I certainly fell for these two.

They fight, like cats and ermmm cats (felt strange to say dogs), in fact, they fight like sisters, but no matter how much they have torn each other to shreds, they curl up at the end of the day together. No matter who is “in charge”, when one of them is down they comfort each other. They also seem to have this sixth sense about them, whenever I is feeling down or having a bad day, they come and curl up with me – they not only comfort each other, but they comfort me too.


I find the two of them completely fascinating and it was when I started to care for them, that I learnt to appreciate smaller things. When we first got our cats, they were tiny – so small they would curl up in my shoe. Watching them grow forced me to slow down as it made me realise, I didn’t want to miss some sweet moments with them. Especially when they are feeling affectionate and cuddly.

Yes I know, they are not children, but your pets aren’t some possession that you love, they are little creatures you fall in love with. They have personalities, likes and dislikes, and little moment that make you appreciate some of the more important things going on around you.

I once had someone ask me, what will you do when they go – (horrid, horrid question, by the way) – will I be devastated, of course – you would hurt just as much, as if you were losing someone you loved. Seriously though, who asks a questions like that.

So even though taking a little time off is completely against my nature, waking up to these two gorgeous little fluff-balls does make a little bit easier.