Thinking About it Thursday: Apps, Planners, and Blog Posts, O My! (More New Year Organization)

I think it's time to return to my Thinking About it Thursday posts. This one is more wordy than they usually are but I've got some 'splainin' to do.

I saw this book referenced on someone's blog and thought, "Color me intrigued." I now have one in my reflective little hands: The 52 Lists Project by Moorea Seal. I'm an inveterate list-maker so the idea of using lists to reflect in a meaningful way seemed like it would be right up my alley. I received it on Tuesday, and did the first week's list and can already highly recommend the book. It's a beautifully designed book, the list topics are really interesting--many are pretty unexpected--and each one has a suggested action item at the end that can make even random-seeming lists make sense in your life. It's obviously designed to start in January and go the full year, but if you got it at a different time of year, you'd just start in that section of the book. The weeks aren't dated but they're organized seasonally.

Since I got this the first week of January, I started with the first list, which had to do with goals and dreams. I've done a lot of work on goals over the last few weeks (years, really), so I thought I'd already know what would come out of my pen when I sat down to write. But as I let myself go "stream of consciousness," I discovered I had a lot of other less-obvious goals, dreams, wants, or whatever you'd want to call them, that hadn't been formalized into my mind-maps in my planner. I don't believe in overloading myself with goals, but many of them were simple things, such as the fact that my husband and I have gotten into a bit of a rut with our date nights and always go out to dinner or a movie (or if we're really time-efficient, dinner and a movie). So now I've added into my planner reminders to find area events and check museum hours and such. Little things that are so easy to do but tend to get lost when we're busy!

One of the things that showed up on my list as a goal (I won't call it a resolution) for 2017 is to be a bit more regular in my blogging and podcast than I was able to be last year.

1. I now have a goal of blogging at least once a week, preferably twice, even if I don't have anything of value to say. I also have a goal of posting a podcast episode once a month--and if I don't have much to say, it'll just be a short one!

Looking forward to that? LOL. I'll try to keep it interesting. There will likely be less quilty stuff and more general life stuff than I like to do, but it is what it is. However, I'm hoping the accountability of seeing "write blog post" or "post podcast episode" on my task list will keep me to another of my goals:

2. Embroidery or sewing every week, even if it's only 10 minutes. (That's 10 minutes a week, not 10 minutes a day. I know my limits at the moment.)

I'm more likely to be able to do consistent, short bouts of embroidery as there are some rather obvious moments in my daily schedule that could be more productive than they've been in the past. It's more a matter of making sure I have everything at-hand where I'm most likely to use it, so it's an easy pick-up-put-down kind of thing. I will finish that dang Halloween BOM by next Halloween, dang it.

3. Change up my personal-life task-tracking system to be more readily accessible.

I've been using LifeTopix for years and really like it on a lot of levels, but the developers have focused on making LifeTopix deeper, not broader. In other words, it's an extremely feature-rich program but it hasn't increased in user-friendliness nor in expanding it's platform (it's only on Mac/iPad/iPhone). Since getting an Apple Watch for Christmas, plus looking at how I really work during the day, I decided to test out a bunch of other task-management apps and am now using a combination of Todoist and Google Calendar to replace LifeTopix. I haven't deleted LifeTopix yet as I may ultimate decide Todoist doesn't quite hack it, but so far, so good. Todoist is available on ALL platforms--so I can sit at my computer and throw a bunch of tasks on there as they occur to me, I can be on my phone or iPad, or do fast checks and updates on my watch. It's also a lot faster to enter tasks in with appropriate schedules and priority than it was on LifeTopix, so setting up my reading schedule once I get my syllabi should be a lot faster. There were some workarounds I had to find out in order to get Todoist/Google to be as close a replica to LifeTopix as possible but so far, so good. (If you'd be interested, I could do a post that reviews the apps I tried, pros and cons, and why I ultimately chose the one I did. Let me know.)

4. Using a paper planner. (No, I haven't missed the irony that this comes immediately after talking about apps!)

Studies have shown that writing something by hand really does cement it better in our memories and, somehow, makes things feel more significant an important. As digitally-oriented as I am, I really wanted the more physical experience of working with a paper planner. I'm now using a Passion Planner. Again (you know me) I did a ton of research and downloaded a bunch of sample pages from several options but really liked that the Passion Planner had a lot of ways you could customize it to your own needs. Sure, customization means printing things hard copy, cutting them apart, and taping them into your planner, but that's just a good excuse to use some cute Washi tape, right? My planner and my digital apps work in consort with each other. I sit with my planner last thing at night and first thing in the morning to review my goals for the day. No work stuff is in here--just personal goals. Task items then get added to Todoist but I also have pages in here for reflections, notes to myself, inspirational quotations, habit checker lists, and so forth. Right now I'm finding it super-useful. We'll see how things go when I get back into the full mayhem of school in session.

There are a lot of other little things I'm working on but those are the biggies. On my Fight the Funk Friday post I'll share some things I've added to my healthy-living tools. Or, more appropriately, added back in again. And by then, maybe I'll have done some embroidery to share!