So it looks like I have to revamp this space! I need a new tagline because 

My perpetual journey towards organized happiness as a working student.

no longer applies. BECAUSE I’M NOT A STUDENT RIGHT NOW! Unreal. I started this journey 10 years ago and re-started it 5 years ago. Suggestions?


Journey toward Adulthood: Next Chapter


Hi, internet people!

I’m not much for long winded stories so I’ll just say that I’ve had a rough time the past year or so. I dearly missed blogging and engaging with planner community (even though I never stopped lurking). Things that are different now:

  1. I FINISHED MY UNDERGRAD! My convocation is in 4 days! Still having nightmares about homework.
  2. I get to read for fun now. I’m currently working on The Sexual Politics of Meat by Carol J. Adams. I will post my reading wish list at some point. I’d love suggestions if you have any!
  3. On that note, I’m currently transitioning from being pescetarian to vegan. Wish me luck.
  4. I really like my job and I’m hoping to get a permanent position.
  5. I’ve gone down the fountain pen and ink rabbit hole. My current daily is my Sailor High Ace Neo with Private Reserve Ebony Blue
  6. I’ve read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up twice and I’m in the process of KonMari-ing my tiny apartment.
  7. I’m a Starbucks person now. I even have the fancy gold card with my name on it.
  8. I found my perfect day-bag.
  9. I use a standing desk at home…sometimes.
  10. My bras actually fit me and they are comfortable.
  11. I’m slowly building my capsule wardrobe and it’s actually really fun.
  12. →(Biggest change relevant to this blog) I’m a Hobonichi Techo convert! I still have my A5ish Avery Dennison binder for home.

Things that are the same:

  1. Immigration is still exhausting.
  2. I sleep in too much on my days off.
  3. I miss Marylanders.
  4. I’m bad at wearing heels.
  5. I love my dogs.
  6. I have amazing people in my life.

I have to accept that I embody Gretchen Rubin’s concept of the rebel tendency. Part of the reason I’ve been away so long is that I knew that I was not able to prioritize building a blogging habit. I haven’t had the mental energy and I was hesitant to write a post announcing “I’m back!” if I was just going to fall back off the grid a week later.

Tl;dr I’m excited to start posting again but currently I can make no promises about my schedule.

Time Tracking vs Personal Values

An interesting post on Google+ this past week got me thinking about time blocking.  The discussion involved how to deal with discrepancies between how time is planned and how time is actually spent.

I’ve been fond of tracking pomodoros in the past during those extra long days during midterms and finals week because it’s rewarding.  Unfortunately, a big problem with this approach is the lack of any “penalty” if I get distracted and go off track.


My biggest struggle these days is accounting for Parkinson’s law, as defined by

Parkinson’s law (noun): the statement, expressed facetiously as if a law of physics, that work expands to fill the time allotted for its completion.

Personally, I’ve found that statement consistently true, yet I still continue to work open-endedly.  Too often when I’m doing something like writing a paper, I decide I’m going to work on it until it’s done and then it takes much longer to complete than if I’d had less time (without a significant increase in quality).

On the other hand, a bulletjournalist in the same discussion wisely noted that time blocking has a tendency to stifle creative flow.

So…I abuse open-ended approaches, the pomodoro technique is insufficient, and time blocking is too restrictive.  What’s left? Monitoring.

At times when I decided track my behaviour, the result are enlightening.  Tracking my sleep has motivated me to be more diligent about getting ready for bed on time.  Keeping a food log helps me to avoid stress-eating.  I recently started keeping track of whether or not I meditate every day and I haven’t skipped since (yet).


If you’ve read my other posts, you know I’m a big fan of Gretchen Rubin.  Her Strategy of Monitoring brilliantly articulates exactly why this habit is so effective.

I’m especially excited about this because I’m currently reading The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris based on the strategies of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.  I’ve been meeting with a group this term to go through the chapters together.   This week, we’re naming our values and examining whether or not we are living according to those values.

For example, if you believe that one of your primary values is “fitness”, is that reflected in your daily life? Maybe you claim to value “family”, but you don’t ever seem to have enough time for them.


I think that monitoring how I spend my day might be extremely valuable in this regard.  Scription’s Chronodex was mentioned in the same Google+ post and I remembered how enamoured I was with the design when I first discovered it.  Back then, I felt overwhelmed about trying to make it work for me, but I threw my doubts to the wind today and printed out a whole sheet of them.  Whoo hoo!


I’ll let you know how it goes.

Planner Evolution Update

I conditioned my Holborn for the first time in months.  I use Kiwi Outdoor Mink Oil and my dog thought it smelled really interesting so the in-progress pictures didn’t work out.

wpid-wp-1424135916907.jpeg wpid-wp-1424136118456.jpeg

I have reorganized since my last post.  This was my previous setup:

  1. Notes/In (also called “capture” or “inbox” if you use GTD / ZTD or any variant)
  2. Journal
  3. Collections
  4. Referencewpid-img_20150216_1612192.jpg.jpeg

This is my current setup:

  1. Bullet Journal*
    1. Daily Pages
    2. Tasks
    3. Monthly Spreads
    4. Collections (indexed)
  2. Reference
  3. Notes/in

wpid-img_20150216_1528472.jpg.jpeg*Note: Technically, the first four sections are my “bullet journal”.

1A – Daily pages

I mostly stay in the first section day-to-day and I consult and pull data from the other sections as needed.  I just started keeping an index card (inspired by TheXEffect) in my daily pages to keep track of my daily mindfulness practice.

1B – Tasks

My tasks section is where I list to-dos that are not bound to specific dates.  At the end of each month, I title a new page for the new month (e.g.  MARCH 2015).  Each item on the previous month either gets migrated or crossed off so I never have to consult previous spreads.

Lately, I’ve been needing to keep track of a few tasks I’d like to do for my mom.  I’m trying out keeping my “Mom” list on the left side and everything else on the right.

wpid-img_20150216_1614002.jpg.jpeg wpid-img_20150216_1613112.jpg.jpeg

1C – Monthly Spreads

wpid-img_20150216_1614302.jpg.jpegThe first picture is my attempt at being creative this term.  Those are stickers on a dry erase sheet I cut to fit and punched.  My work schedule is often erratic, so I just put in my class and yoga schedule and some chores.  I’ve started volunteering since then and I am on a different yoga schedule so it needs an update badly.

I format my monthly spread similar to Ryder Carroll’s recommended bullet journal setup, but I found I wanted more lines to add some structure (the long horizontal lines indicate weeks).  I usually draw up about 3 months at a time for future planning purposes.  You can see my academic due dates already written in for April.



1D – Collections

Collections are where I put things that are relevant medium term as opposed to things like grocery lists that are only relevant for a few days.  This is the only section I index.  My other bullet journal sections are chronological so indexing is unnecessary.

2 – Reference

This is where my medium to long term collections and lists live.  I keep a couple of important passwords and backup codes here as well as my yoga studio’s spring schedule, grading guidelines used by my school, marriage rules, the handy NATO phonetic alphabet, and of course some commonly used Klingon phrases (yIDoghQo’!).

wpid-img_20150216_1618292.jpg.jpeg wpid-img_20150216_1619002.jpg.jpeg wpid-img_20150216_1619232.jpg.jpeg

3 – Notes/In

wpid-img_20150216_1620472.jpg.jpegI could not bring myself to drop this section altogether, even though I don’t often use it.  I justify this because I keep extra pages here.

Sometimes I need to doodle or quickly take notes to organize later.  I try to scratch out as I go so I know when a page is no longer needed.

I use to print my 5mm graph paper.  They are stellar.

I was going to show off my pocket dividers and other knick-knacks but this post is getting long and I need to go to bed eventually.  Goodnight, internet!


I did it.  I finished my fall term with straight As and I am preparing my flight tomorrow morning.  I will be spending the holidays with family.

This is how I pack.

I suppose I should probably bring some clothes too…

I’m looking forward to some reading time.


Hopefully I will have the time (and the internet access) to post an update on my paper route while I am away.  My Filofax / bullet journal frankenstein has continued to evolve and I have so many ideas for next term!

But right now I have to finish packing.

P.S.  Philofaxy thought I was cool enough to spotlight yesterday.  Clicky!

My (not quite) Perfect Triumvirate

Happy Monday!

I feel silly because I just realized that this little pocket is obviously for coins…


I thought today I would compare how I use my planner, Evernote, and Google Calendar since we’ve been discussing combining digital and analog methods on Google+.  The picture below illustrates my ongoing battle of too many systems.  I’ve accepted that I need more than one system, but my current goal is to define exactly how I use each one so they are more or less mutually exclusive.  That way, I know precisely where to find the information I need.


I’m going to organize this post into three big categories:

Appointments, To-Dos, & Notes

TLDR (if you don’t want to read the whole thing)

Google Calendar

  • appointments + details
  • known due dates for bills and school assignments as a reference


  • simplified appointments under daily journal
  • to-dos- master list, daily, and upcoming
  • collections


  • shopping list
  • food log
  • school & work notes


Here’s what Monday-Wednesday look like for the next two weeks in Google Calendar.

Screenshot 2014-10-20 at 10.56.55

I like to put my schedule into Google calendar because it syncs across devices.  Plus, I can easily set up my class schedule at the start of the term so there’s very little work involved.  I can add events from Gmail in a couple clicks.  Bills repeat automatically.

I usually go ahead and put in my school assignments at the beginning of the term because it’s nice to have here.

Screenshot 2014-10-20 at 10.57.14Screenshot 2014-10-20 at 10.57.26

I have my CMNS 304W lecture today.


In my daily bullet journal entry, I have written in the class that I have today, but I didn’t bother to write in the time or any other details.



To-dos belong in my journal.  I find having a single place for them is best.  The one exception I make is my grocery shopping list.

I keep that in Evernote and I set up an IFTTT recipe for it using the hashtag #shopping so it’s easy to add items.  I appreciate being able to pull up the list on my phone while I’m at the store.

Screenshot 2014-10-20 at 12.02.07

(I have an IFTTT recipe for my Food Log in Evernote as well.)

Screenshot 2014-10-20 at 12.08.17

Chores go in my journal under my monthly spread.  I also copy school assignments in here and date-specific to-dos.  I like it as my “big picture” of the month.



I still keep my Notes/In section at the front of my Filofax, but I’m wondering if I should just incorporate it into my journal section for a more classic bullet journal setup.  I like giving myself a place to be messy so I can quickly dump my brain without worrying about formatting, but having one less section might be simpler.  Hmm…


I keep my collections in a separate section.


School and work notes go into Evernote.  I don’t understand how people can keep decent handwritten lecture notes.  I can type much faster than I can write by hand and I can actually read it later (my handwriting is either fast or legible- never both).  Having a search function is another huge advantage, as well the ability to cut and paste.

(The [Journal] notebook is for my IFTTT items. I should probably change the title to be less confusing.)

Screenshot 2014-10-20 at 12.07.19

So there you have it- my work in progress.

The last thing I will mention is that I also use Google Drive, albeit not for things I need to access on a daily basis.  It’s more of my file cabinet for important receipts, immigration documents, etc.  I write and store my written school assignments there as well because the formatting is beautiful and Evernote is completely lacking in that respect (Evernote doesn’t even have a word-count to my knowledge).

Alright, back to homework.  I hope you all have a nice day and thanks for reading!