[catching up] tips + hacks thursday: bullet journal

Last Winter, Nikki and a lot of the other Smart Girls with ADHD were discussing Bullet Journaling as a planning method. So by March I finally caved and tried it.

I’ve stuck with it, which is a shock for my Google Calendar-ized self who has previously been rather planner-phobic due to mostly forgetting them at home and whatnot. Hello, I couldn’t maintain control of a pencil actually being present in my backpack throughout school, how could I be expected to have not only a thing to write with but also a corresponding notebook? I still forget it sometimes, but, it’s with me when it needs to be more often than not. Being a freelancer now, I’m pretty sure the Bullet Journal system is my number one tool for being organized. (Thanks Nikki and the Smart Girls for finally making me curious enough to try. Because I NEVER thought it would work, never mind that I’d keep it up for eight months.)

What’s a bullet journal?

 

Mine’s a half grid-half lined journal that cost $8 at Staples. There’s an official Bullet Journal but look, I can’t even keep up the index on my non-official one and you know what? That’s the joy. IT DOES NOT MATTER. There are no pre-set thingies to make me feel guilty when I don’t fill them out. Here’s an awkward picture so you can see my washi tape tabs.

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The bullet method is what actually matters (which there are a thousand variations for and that are super customizable so hey, no rules!)

Here are some snaps I took of my Bullet Journal on Wednesday.

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My system is circles for events, fill them in when they’re done, and boxes for to-do items: half filled when they are started, totally filled when they are done. It’s month end so all the invoices are due and such.

http://i1.wp.com/farm6.staticflickr.com/5613/30514774232_5c7744d7f2.jpg?resize=375%2C500&ssl=1

Here’s all the shit I have to do that is slightly more checked off now but not actually as much as it should be probably. I guess it’s only Friday as I write this…

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Zooming out, this is half of my monthly view and my work stuff that I had to get done and whatnot. I made a goals section that I realized didn’t really work because you can’t jut fill in a checkbox for a goal. Which is nice because the Bullet Journal system is all live-and-learn-y. The other page has the numbered days of the month down the left side, and then what I have to do on them but there’s not a whole lot on there because I tend to just put it into the weekly view when I need it there. Which is kind of not the point but whatever.

Clearly, it works well for me because I’ve actually been using it since March. Which is pretty cool considering I’ve never stuck with anything paper that long. I like that there’s no special notebook needed—although my interest in the Passion Planner has been piqued…

Challenge Update – Day 28

Plank
175 seconds people. That is 2:55 which is almost three minutes. Nonsense.

Meditation
Bitesize Self-Compassion on Smiling Mind. Which is maybe one of my new favourites, we will see. Also I really have to try to not just do the bitesize ones but I am not made for getting up at normal times and I’ve been super sleepy. Yes, the morning meditation thing would help.

[catching up] adhd tech tuesday: pebble. [26/31]

You know what happens when you pick up your phone?

Yeah, you know it. Your phone buzzes because of a text and then you reply and ten minutes later your phone is still in your hand and you’ve scrolled through 100 tweets, 50 Facebook posts, and checked your e-mail three times. And probably sent 3 more texts and 2 Facebook messages about things you saw in your travels. Right? I know this isn’t limited to ADHD, but I find that with ADHD when I notice I am doing it, it takes a LOT to re-shift my focus back on what I was doing.

Enter Pebble.

I’ve been a Pebble user for a couple of years now. Sometimes I feel a tad cyborg-y with my Fitbit on one wrist and my Pebble on the other, but whatever.

Because now my Pebble vibrates with an alert, I check it, and if I don’t want/need to deal with it immediately, guess what? My phone stays happily face-down on my desk or in my pocket. In a much different way from Forest, I find my Pebble one of the great reasons that I check my phone less. I less haphazardly go check my phone every time it buzzes, because I can simply clear notifications from my watch and go back to what I am doing.

No, I absolutely do not have to clear notifications immediately. A lot of the time I don’t—I glance at my watch and hit back—not dismiss—and done. The alert stays on my home screen, ready for the next time I want to pick up my phone because with a quick glance, I decide if I should read/reply to it now or later. There’s less of an abyss to get sucked into on my Pebble (which is why I’m not really interested in an Apple watch, because I’d probably just get sucked in there with the interactivity anyways).

Another nice feature is reminders coming up on my watch. This is especially great if I put bus rides in my calendar—with a down button tap, I can re-check what time the bus comes from my Timeline view.

Although I totally need a Moovit Pebble app for the 90% of the time I don’t put bus times in my Google Calendar… That would be rad.

[catching up] adhd fact friday #3 [21/31]

Week Three Fact:
adhd fact fridayADHD sometimes comes with the opposite of being unable or having difficulty focusing. Hyperfocus is just what it sounds like: intense periods of focus, which make attention deficit disorder all the more confusing.

Yes, it seems paradoxical. Yet hyperfocus is very real to many ADHDers, myself included—ADHD is an “attention regulation disorder”—as difficult as it can be for us to focus on tasks that are boring or not mentally stimulating, it can be equally difficult for us to redirect our attention from something that is fun or interesting.

Hyperfocus can be the saving grace of people with ADHD with a deadline ahead of them, or a massive obstacle when we find something fun or enjoyable… and should be doing other things. However, sometimes we get so sucked in that it can be extremely hard to break our focus. Even people talking directly to us might not be enough to interrupt us—the polar opposite of what people perceive as our attention deficit selves.

For myself, I think hyperfocus is the reason I could read book after book when I was younger, especially when I had nothing else mentally interesting to do: if the book was interesting, that was the only place my attention went.

Day 21 Challenge Update

Plank: 155 seconds while on FaceTime with Kat. Which made it easier, actually.

Meditation: I completed the Bite Size Meditation series on Smiling Mind.

ADHD tech tuesday: forest. [18/31]

I was a bit skeptical about an app where I planted fake trees with the intention of the fake digital trees helping me focus.

Really, duh, why would I not be skeptical?

But curiosity won. I mean, if $2.79 helps me focus—or at least alleviate phone based distraction—well, let’s give it a shot, right?

I started here:

http://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8408/30122323440_f5e1ba6af8.jpg?resize=281%2C500&ssl=1

And honestly this was probably the ONLY amount I focused ALL DAY last Thursday. But hey, ten minutes is ten minutes. 

Yesterday (which says today but is really yesterday) was better.

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I set it for 15 minutes. And then 15 more minutes. And wrote, knowing if I used my phone for anything but keeping the app open my trees would be deadsies. Somehow not killing fake trees is super motivating.

http://i1.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8558/30302665792_a3ed893ebb.jpg?resize=281%2C500&ssl=1

I upped myself to 20 minutes after awhile, after I’d gotten 123 minutes of work done in short intervals.

LOOK HOW MANY FREAKING TREES I GREW.

http://i0.wp.com/farm9.staticflickr.com/8414/30419259485_9448d33e54.jpg?resize=281%2C500&ssl=1

I don’t think I should be this proud of myself for fake trees and bushes, but you know what? Sometimes seeing what I have actually done is good.

It doesn’t mean I can’t get distracted by my laptop, and yeah, the novelty will wear off, but I think it makes me more conscious of NOT allowing myself to get distracted, at least by technology. If I’m writing, unless I’m doing research and then get sidetracked, I primarily check my phone for social media stuff (although iMessage does come through on my Mac). And when I glance down at my phone I see this screen with how long I have left on the timer ticking down, and it tells me to like, put down my phone, and I’m like, oh yeah this app is so on to me.

I didn’t take my Concerta at noon. It was evident when I was coaching tonight, although my Special O parents get me (specifically, Terri who laughs with me about my ADHD). And at least in a gym, I can run around and laugh about it and just live my life.  So, maybe ten minutes to write this post is all I’m getting tonight. But I’m sure the Groundhog and Capture the Chicken did me some good—when it comes to ADHD (and many things but ESPECIALLY ADHD) exercise is freaking medicine.
 
Well, on the note of medicine, I also got my flu shot done tonight. So, pending they formulated it right and everything, no flu for me and my stupid asthma lungs. Yay! ‘Cause I presume exercise does not work as well on the flu as it does on ADHD…
 
 
Challenge Update: Day 18
Plank: 135 seconds = 2 minutes, 15 seconds. Pretty shaky toward the end, but hey, done is done. Maintain at 135 tomorrow. See how the flu shot arm takes that. 😉
 
Meditation: I did the study meditation midday.
Curiously, I did not meditate before I went to sleep last night, and whether it was due to that or that I had to wake up early today (which often has a negative impact on my sleep quality, or an average of an 8% reduction per SleepCycle) my sleep quality was only 68% last night, versus an all time average of 74%. 

[catching up] self-care sunday: meditation and adhd. [16/31]

I got distracted by a floor tape roller last night. I am rocking this ADHD awareness month challenge, seriously.

Kind of like mindfulness in general, meditation with ADHD is hard. Even with a guided app. I did a 3 minute meditation just now with Smiling Mind to prepare myself to write this post, and it was all “Count your breaths up to 10 and then start over. If you feel your thoughts pulling you away, start again at 1.”

Clearly I was like Seriously, Smiling Mind? And then started counting again at 1.
And then I thought about going for grilled cheese after my meeting tomorrow. And then I started again at 1. And then once I eventually got to 10, the app man told me now to stop counting and focus solely on my breath. And I kept counting, because seriously, why are you making me switch gears like that?! 

I claimed at one point in high school that I used to meditate, in the days before I had such an app to guide me. I think I honestly did not actually meditate and just did deep breathing until I fell asleep—more of a relaxation exercise than a meditation. They are not synonymous. Also I really liked the blog post I linked there, but I totally missed reading the point where it said to “take a moment now to just notice”. 

For me, meditation is not easy. Smiling Mind (or other guided meditation apps) makes it easier, but it is not easy. But I do know that the more regularly I meditate, the more I feel that I want to meditate, the more I take that second to just notice. I am more likely to incorporate a midday meditation, or early evening like I did tonight before writing this. A couple weeks ago, I did a walking meditation while walking to the bus, which was kind of cool except I did not do the pacing thing as recommended because I was trying to go from point A to point B and not from A to B back to A in six steps.

What am I getting from it? I’m not sure. A pause, at the very least, which is important with the 800 kilometers an hour ADHD brain. I use meditation to help me unwind a bit before I go to sleep. I think I notice more things in my daily life, like the sound of leaves blowing along the sidewalk behind me.

Focus? Yeah I’m not sure if it helps there. In fact, I just realized now probably part of the reason I struggle so much with not letting my thoughts drift too much during my evening meditation is because my meds have worn off. But if it can help with curbing my impulsivity even a bit, or assisting me to pause before I react to something, then hey: the practice is worth it.

And of course, there are reasons it is called a practice. I’ll never master it, especially with this quirky ADHD brain.

And that’s okay—it’s about practicing being non-judgemental about my own thoughts, and then deciding if that’s what, or how, I actually want to think—and having the power to change it, rather than regarding it as inherently good or bad. (Read more about non-judgemental awareness here.) ADHDers can be ridiculously hard on ourselves (on top of often struggling to be mindful!), and I think this is a really important thing for me to be working at… A definite self-care piece.

I think the reality is that mindfulness, meditation, being internally non-judgey is hard
Self-care is hard.

But it’s also extremely necessary. And if meditation can help guide me to those pauses, those right choices…

Well, I’ll keep trying.

 

Day 16 Challenge Update

Meditation: Check.

Plank: Repeat. 2:05. Getting easier (for now), at least with music on ;).