Today’s post is going to be quite personal and rather long. I thought I would share something with you that I spend a fair amount of time on: my journal.
One of the things I find most important, both for my personal well-being and in the big picture, is going through life in a purposeful way. For every activity I engage in and everything I spend time on, I like to be very clear on the point or the reason behind it, be it career advancement, personal development, skill development, or maintaining my physical or mental health.
In order to remain purposeful, I find both planning and keeping track essential. I like to not only make plans, but also record how the execution of those plans works out, especially since the latter tends to be my bigger problem. I track stuff on paper because I am old-fashioned and I like pretty stationery and because Kindles are the spawn of the devil (they don’t even smell like books!! What the hell is the point?!). My journal is in some ways quite similar to a bullet journal, but with my own personal twists to it (and there is a LOT of room for improvement in terms of my handwriting/lettering).
I keep track daily, weekly and monthly and I track different habits in different intervals. In addition to that, I have project-based trackers in cases where the objective is a clearly defined deliverable, such as finishing a novel (80,000 words) or decluttering my apartment (selling, donating or throwing out all the items on a finite list).
Since February is almost over and spring is just around the corner (yay!), I prepared my monthly journal spread for March night, and here it is!
This double page has all the most important trackers on it.On the left page, I have my to-do list for the month, split into “uni” and “other” (I keep work to-do lists at work) as well as a weekly tracker. Every week, I track the following:
Number of exercise sessions completed (one or two is great, three is a small miracle)
New people met (my goal for the year is to meet at least one new person a week)
Number of words written for my book (anything above 0 is wonderful)
Number of hours spent on decluttering (I want to move next year and need to get rid of all my stuff until then)
Number of hours spent on my blog (this includes social media management and should be around 5 – but it never is)
Time spent socializing (I list bullet points like “coffee with Amelie” or “cocktails with Chiara”. I always feel like I neglect my friends but actually, I usually get up to four or five friend-dates a week, which I think is quite a lot.)
On the right, I have my “big-picture goals” that I try to read through every morning along with some quotes I find inspirational, just to remind myself where I want to be going. I also have a daily habit tracker that tracks time spent reading, water and vitamin intake, exercise (which I just noticed I am tracking twice, silly me), as well as whether or not I snoozed, adhered to my morning ritual, ate sweets and spent money. For every habit that I stuck to, I fill the square in with a green marker in the evening.
At the end of the month, this double page gives me a super-quick overview of how I did, what went well and what areas I still need to work on.
This is a reminder of my two biggest goals for March: I finally, finally want to stick to a morning routine that helps me start the day right, I never want to touch the snooze button again, and I want to spend more time on deep work rather than on tedious errands, planning and social media.
This is my calorie tracker. It has 100 little squares, each of which represents 700 calories, for a total of 70k or 10 kilos of body weight. When I reach a deficit of 700 calories I color in one square (as you can see, January and February have not been great – LOTS of exam-related chocolate binges). This is an example of a project-based tracker as the goal is simply to create an overall 70k deficit, rather than to spend a certain amount of time a week exercising or food prepping.
One thing I learned. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, it can be something stupid and small like the fact that “a descoperi” means to discover in Romanian or that in German, the “MS” in front of ship names stands for “Motorschiff”, or the fact that the capital of Chechnya is Grozny.
The number of pomodoros – these are deep work sessions in which you do nothing but focus on work for 50 minutes, then take a break for 10, then repeat. I aim for one or two outside of paid work – this means sitting down at home for one or two hours and working on my personal projects.
Something I am grateful for – practicing gratitude actively and regularly has been shown to have a positive effect on mental health as measured by all kinds of metrics. These can be very small or abstract things, like someone smiling at me or simply the fact that (for now) I live in a liberal, Western democracy.
A way in which I practiced self-control – I would say that at the moment, lack of self-control is one of my biggest weaknesses. I haven’t quite gotten it through my head yet that I need to sit down and write even when I’m tired if I want to publish a book and I need to go for a run even when it’s cold if I want to wear shorts in summer. I can’t work for my goals when it’s comfortable and leave it at that, because change and achievement don’t happen when it’s comfortable. And since self-control is like a muscle, I want to practice it as often as I can every day, even just in small ways – saying no to a piece of cake, sitting down and writing for 15 minutes when I am exhausted, going to a networking event when all I want to do is curl up in my pajamas, eat pizza and watch TV.
Comments – this is sort of a mini-diary section for miscellaneous notes, if something really upsets me I will write a diary entry on a blank page.
So what do you think? Am I being organized and focused or just completely crazy? What kind of things do you track, and how?