I've found putting together monthly habit trackers to be a super useful tool in my Bullet Journal - with the significant proviso that I don't overwhelm myself by trying to do to much, and that if I don't get everything done, that's okay. Over the last few months, things that I've tracked include:
Walked 10,000 steps (this goal goes quite well with playing lots of Pokemon Go)
Ate breakfast (and yes, doughnuts do count as breakfast)
Portions of fruits and vegetables eaten
Flossed or used interdental brushes (gum health, yo)
Had a no spend day
Went to a yoga class
Did some form of vigorous aerobic exercise (running, cycling, rowing...)
Did some weight training
Spent 1 hour learning
Spent quality time with partner
Spent quality time with friends
Sent a letter or card
Made something myself
Had a bubble bath
If you'd like to get email updates from me, sign up to my mailing list!
Never one to avoid jumping on a passing bandwagon (especially one that requires new stationery), I started using a bullet journal a few months ago, and have found it a useful, flexible method for keeping track of things. I've used a personal organiser for a number of years as a calendar brain dump, but my to-do lists, time trackers, and mind maps have traditionally been housed on disparate pieces of paper and left in drawers.
Here's the original video that lays out the main ideas:
There are a few key parts to a traditional bullet journal: the index, daily log, weekly/monthly/yearly logs, and collections. Some people put in a calendar - I already have a good system, so I haven't added this to mine.
The index is pretty simple: you number the pages as you go along and then write down the topics on a page at the back so you can look things up.
Usually in a bullet journal, you start everything on the next blank page, so the collections and logs are jumbled up together. I've modified this part of the bullet journal methodology, because I found flipping back and forth too hard, so I've separated out the daily logs and monthly logs from the collections in my current journal. The first 80 pages or so are reserved for daily logs, then 20 pages for blog post ideas and 20 pages for crafts, then some more pages for miscellaneous collections. Starting from the back, there's the index page, followed by my monthly spreads.
I don't bother numbering the pages in the daily log, and just start the page numbering in the collections section.
The daily log can be a combination of to-do list and diary, but I only use mine as a to-do list, and it is the BEST TO-DO LIST EVER. Previously, at the end of the day, I'd have ticked some things off my list and some things wouldn't have gotten done, so I'd just work off the same to-do list until either all the things are finished or I throw it away and write a new, different list.
In my bullet journal, I write out the to-do list every morning, and tasks that didn't get done yesterday get migrated, scheduled, cancelled or, if they take less than 5 minutes, done right then. It gives a real sense of finality to be able to look back at old to-do lists without being reminded of an undone task!
Re-writing undone tasks is also a good opportunity to ask myself why something hasn't been done - is it the wrong time? Schedule it for the right time. Is there another task that needs to happen first? Put that in the next to-do list. Is the task too big and daunting? Split it up into smaller steps.
The reason it's called a "bullet journal" is that you use bullets to indicate the status or type of a task. I have bullet variations for completed, cancelled, migrated and scheduled tasks, as well as for things to buy, things to download, things to research, and notes.
Daily time planner
I don't tend to plan my daily schedule in advance in great detail, but sometimes I feel as though, much like Billy Pilgrim, I have come unstuck in time, and so I jot down my plans for the rest of the day to make sure I know where I am.
Weekly time tracker
I keep my weekly logs in the same place as my daily logs - they're just a big time tracker to see how much time I've got for science, and to make sure I'm scheduling enough self care activities. I don't make a weekly log every week, but sometimes they come in handy.
For monthly logs, I have a habit tracker, a health log, and an exercise log. The habit tracker is a grid with the days of the month as columns and the habits I'm interested as rows - when I've done the thing, I colour in the square. The other logs are just blank pages that I write a line in every day. The health log has been very useful in combination with the habit tracker - hey, it turns out that when I don't eat properly, I get stomach ache! Who knew?
Apart from that, your bullet journal can be whatever you want it to be. Some of my pages are just doodles - on one page I have the rules of Galaxy Trucker written down, and on another, a list of all the things my cat is good at. If it's in your brain, put it on some paper, then you can either do something about it or turn the page and let it float past you.
Summer is here and with it comes wave after wave of conferences. Here are a few ways to make conference season a little more pleasant and a little less stressful.
Having a master packing list that you consult each time you go away is the only way to make sure you don't forget anything important. Don't forget any medications that you take, earplugs, cables for electronics, pyjamas, and toothpaste.
I know it's old advice, but rolling your clothes is a great way of fitting them into your suitcase. It also means you can pull them out when you need them without having to extract them from layers of other clothes. People say it reduces wrinkling, but my other half summed it up rather succinctly when he said "it's not that you don't get creases - they're just different creases."
I made a great decision a couple of years ago when I bought a pack of 10 clear plastic pencil cases. I use them for everything - make-up, medication, craft supplies, snacks, cables... If you put all your small items into clear pencil cases, you can see at a glance where they are.
I put together a little first aid kit to remedy any of the small things that would be annoying - bonjela in case of a mouth ulcer, eye drops and antihistamines in case of the dreaded pollen, antacids for stomach ache, painkillers for headaches, and plasters for small wounds.
A little folding travel plug like this one can be very useful to slip into your handbag with a USB cable for charging on the go.
When it comes to dressing for travel, comfort is key. I love stretchy clothes like leggings, t-shirts and hoodies. If you've got any sports clothes made out of moisture-wicking fabric, these are great for travelling on a hot day as they stop you feeling sweaty.
Have you ever wanted to watch the scenery rush past out of a train window, but been stopped by a big greasy forehead mark from whoever was sitting there before you? Bring a little packet of wet wipes so you can give the window a wipe and have an unobstructed view.
I don't have many other travel tips apart from - bring a book and don't put your bag on the seat next to you on a busy train like a jerk.
Hotel room hacks
Most hotels that cater for UK or Irish guests will have tea, coffee and a kettle in your room (for hotels without, my mum brings a tiny travel kettle). The tea and coffee supplied might not always be your preferred type, so I like to bring a few tea options with me (chamomile and Earl Grey are my favourites). I'm not a coffee drinker, but I've seen a few people with this AeroPress, which you put on your mug to make filter coffee for one.
If you get a stain on something you'd like to wear again, this travel wash is a great, concentrated solution that you can use in your hotel sink.
When your crumpled clothes emerge from your suitcase, a sensible person might iron them. However, if you, like me, hate ironing enough to never do it unless strictly necessary, an acceptable second choice is to hang up the garment in the bathroom before you have a hot shower. The steam will help some (but definitely not all) of the creases to drop out.
If I'm feeling particularly energetic I find it helpful to do a small workout before bed. Some exercises that you can do without equipment, that don't make weird thumping noises to disturb your neighbours, are salute to the sun, lunges, squats, planks, and most types of crunches. Equally, sometimes an exercise regime has to take a backseat to relaxing.
If you can, try to find a poster printing shop near to your venue so you don't have to lug a poster tube over on the plane. I've done this at my last two conferences, and it gives you a little extra time for putting the finishing touches on your poster as well as preventing problems with posters getting lost or crumpled. In both cases, it was also cheaper than getting it printed by the university!