Finding My Own Voice and Snippets From A Week in the Life

I can’t believe June is almost here! It’s always weird the approaching of summertime now that I’m out of school and I don’t have classes anymore nor a traditional job, I almost never realize school is over and the Summer holidays have started until I notice that the streets are less busier. As cliche as it may sound, we don’t have four seasons anymore, so I just have to look at the calendar. Also, while in the US I noticed that Summer revolves around the 4th of July, here in Italy, everything is delayed of a month as we celebrate Ferragosto on August 15th, so that’s the week when every shop, restaurant, public place is closed and this is also when those who have a traditional office job go on vacation (and everything becomes more expensive).

I have the best Summer memories of my childhood since I’ve always lived in the countryside pretty much like a Hobbit with my own friends and village traditions. But now that I’m a grown-up Hobbit, things get a bit boring these months, all my friends moved and I’m the only one here. If you don’t have a garden nor a farm keeping you busy, living in the country can be pretty solitary and tedious…especially if you’re an introvert like me. Sometimes I have to literally force myself to pick the car and go somewhere else, just to not become a total hermit. Yeah, it isn’t a Southern Living mag kind of life, believe me.

A couple of weeks ago, I’ve participated in Ali Edwards’ Week in the Life, a memory keeping project to document your week with photos and then create scrapbooking layouts including some journaling. I’m happy to report that I didn’t give up on day 2 this time! I think that what actually helped me was keeping the photos private, not feeling the need to shared them allowed me to take more candid shots of my daily life. I haven’t done the scrapbooking part yet (and I don’t even know if I’ll do it), but documenting my life right now has been very important to realize that I have to be grateful for it. Here are some photos from the second week of May.

Sometimes it’s hard getting out of bed when you know your day would be exactly the same of the one before. I blame social media for that feeling though since I used to love routines, the fear of missing out (FOMO) is difficult to ignore most of the time and, even if my relationship with Instagram has improved lately (I spend way less time on that app), I still feel like it’s shaping my life. I find it harder and harder finding my own voice and that’s also why I haven’t blogged that much lately. I want a blog that reflects my own personality, my passions and my way of seeing the world, but it’s hard now that we are exposed to an information overload.

I started missing my teenage years lately when I used to buy those teen magazines and then chatted with my girlfriends about the look of the stars on the red carpet, the mini posters of our crushes… There always was a little bit of mystery around famous people and I loved daydreaming about their perfect Hollywood lives. Now, with social media, everything looks more real and faker at the same time. The famous people I loved to read about on magazines look like “normal” people on Instagram (shoutout to Evangeline Lilly and her relaxed and informal Instagram Live videos, it’s like chatting with a friend), while “normal” people do everything to look like red carpet stars. Crazy, right? Most of the time it’s the dopamine generated by likes and numbers that makes us feel so special, I guess. That’s why I decided to step back offline a little bit lately. I find it harder and harder discovering my own voice when I’m surrounded by so much information. I want to stop putting a label on my online presence and just be my own true self.

Currently | May

Happy May, everyone! Life has been crazy lately and I’m still stuck at home every day working all day long, so I didn’t manage to get much reading and writing for pleasure done this past month. I thought a currently post would be the best one to do.

Reading: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and A General History of the Pyrates by Captain Charles Johnson

Listening: I took a break from podcasts this month to finally listen to some music. I love music but I never listen to it anymore, not sure why!

Watching: after finishing Black Sails, I’ve been happy to binge-watch Lost in Space, a new show by Netflix and I love it so much! I’m not a science fiction lover, so I was surprised to enjoy it. I’m currently in a slump because I can’t find something as good to start watching, Vikings has been on my list for so long so it would be a good moment to start it, but I’m not feeling like it right now. I also watched the Avengers movie a couple of days ago and I loved it!

Thinking: as you’ve probably noticed, social media has been on my mind a lot lately. I’m spending less and less time on Instagram and I share photos only when I feel like it and I’m really enjoying this new approach.

Wanting: a vacation. Honestly, I’ve been working non-stop during my master’s degree years (it lasts longer than the rest of the world) and my last vacation has been back in 2015 when I went to London. I couldn’t afford another trip away from the state, but I’d like to spend at least a week without having anything to do on my laptop (aside from gaming).

Loving: digital planning. Kara of Boho Berry introduced me to a new level of planner practice and I’m having so much fun with it lately, even if I don’t have an iPad, but an old Android tablet. I now have a new hobby!

Anticipating: Fall, even if it’s definitely too early for that, but I’m already tired of the weather! Also, the atmosphere during the last months of the year is the always the best, it makes me feel happy and relaxed.

Favorites:

 

What are you currently loving, planning, watching, reading, etc.? 🙂

Reflections on my lunch break and how I wasted my time on Instagram

I didn’t plan to write this post, actually, I’m supposed to be writing my thesis right now, but you know when you have something in mind and you can’t just ignore it and go ahead.

I’ve never actually talked about it here, but my biggest goal is to finish my 150-pages thesis by the end of Summer in order to graduate next Fall, but, let me tell you, it’s hard. There are some days I’d just want to curl in my bed and cry because I’m frustrated by everything and, even if I’m an introvert, it isn’t nice staying all day long glued to my laptop at home, alone. One of my favourite things to do during my lunch break has always been playing some LOTRO and catch up with emails and blogs at my desk. However, I’d like to spend at least my lunch break away from my desk now that I don’t have to study anymore, but those activities can only be done on my laptop (I know I can check blogs on my phone, but it isn’t the same for me).

Today I forced myself to stay away from my desk, giving up to my daily dose of LOTRO, and I managed to read a couple of blog posts and watch some short videos on YouTube…in half an hour, then I didn’t know what to do with my time, it was 2:30 PM and I didn’t want to go back to my thesis yet, so I thought “I could check out Instagram for 10-15 minutes”.

I ended up emerging from my phone at 3:05 PM. I’ve spent 35 minutes on Instagram without realizing it and without even. Sure, having 2 different accounts takes away more time, but I didn’t even scroll my bookstagram feed for more than 5-6 photos usually, I still engage with people there, but the one where I try to stay up to date is my personal one and it takes a lot. Especially if you’re just a bit OCD and you have to see all the Stories (don’t worry, I still skip some of them!). In these 35 minutes, however, I didn’t even share a photo nor a Story and I felt exhausted and ready to take a nap, while in my previous 30 minutes I almost got bored and over-recharged.

As I said to a friend of mine a couple of weeks ago, I love blogs because that’s a self-paced kind of feed. I scroll Feedly when I have some time, see what interests me, and I save it for later. You can’t do that with social media because they are a constant stream of updates. I follow less than 100 people on my personal Instagram profile, but still, it takes me ages to check out their updates. I don’t follow just for following, I follow who I actually care to see in my feed.

This post is a bit useless because I don’t have an actual solution to this, I don’t want to quit Instagram, but I don’t know how to avoid the overwhelm it causes me. Today I’ve lost 35 minutes of my life without even realizing it!

April Small Goals

Writes Like a Girl started this monthly post & has a monthly link up for it on her blog.

Here is a recap of my goals for the month.

1. Catch up with Harry Potter 2&3. Done! I managed to read both books just in time to follow the #harreadpotter schedule and now I’m ready for book 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

2. Clean my laptop. Nope, I’m a bad laptop mom.

3. Finish and use my bookish spreadsheet. Kind of. I finished it and I was pretty pleased with the result, but I ended up not updating it (LOL!), I mostly used my journal for that. Not sure if I’ll catch up with it or not.

4. Get a Warsteed in LOTRO. Yes!! I managed to get a nice Warsteed for my little Hobbit, now I just have to finish the training session.

March has been a looong and tiring month, I’ve got some issues with my thesis and they totally put me down, so I’ve spent many days just complaining about myself without taking action. Something I’m not very proud to admit. I hope April is going to be a happier month for me.

April Goals

1. Clean my laptop. This needs to be done!

2. Finish chapter 1 of my thesis. I usually try to keep University stuff private because I don’t like to share too much online, but I really need to get things done this month!

3. Stop caring about my posting frequency on Instagram. This isn’t an actual goal, it’s more a sort of resolution. I started using Instagram a bit differently during the first quarter of the year and, while I’m totally okay with it, I still feel too guilty for not posting sometimes.

4. Be more aware of the apps I use. Call me Bilbo Baggins (the only one who actually reads a full contract), but I’ve recently read this article on how Facebook collects data and I basically freaked out. I already knew most of the stuff mentioned, but I wasn’t aware of all the things and it’s insane! While I can’t give up to Instagram and WhatsApp, I decided to be more mindful with the things I share online, even if I’ve never posted anything private, so I started deleting the Facebook page for my blog, clearing out my About section and leaving some groups I never participated in. Also, I started logging on Facebook from the anonymous tab of my browser no more than once a day, rather than having the password saved in Firefox.

I’m not planning to quit social media, but I’d like to reduce the amount of time spent using them. I’ve recently read so many articles by people who are quitting Facebook and Instagram and I saved so many inspiring quotes, one of them is the following one:

Maybe the fact that I use Facebook to share my blog posts is a tiny tiny reason why others are still using it. It’s like I’m still visiting friends in the smoking area, even though I don’t smoke. Maybe if I quit going entirely, it will help my friends quit, too.

I’ve snapped out of the silly fear that people won’t find me if I’m not there. If they care at all, they’ll find me.

Derek Sivers

 

These are my four little goals for this month, I’d love to hear from you! What are your goals for April?

How I Stay Organized | Spring 2018

Since the beginning of the year, for the most part of the week, I’m locked at home (or in my University library) all day writing my thesis, my routine completely changed since last year. I don’t have classes nor exams to study for anymore (*jumps up and down for the excitement*) and I have a very quiet social life (/introvert), so my way to stay organized changed too since last Fall. That’s why I thought it would be nice to share how I basically simplified everything.

First of all, I got rid of many unused Trello boards. I still use it to collaborate with the Middle Earth News team and I have only another board that I use for productivity stuff which is the one where I plan my articles for Page Flutter. (I had to blur most of my cards for privacy reasons, sorry.)

I still have a couple of boards I use for personal stuff like keeping track of the movies I want to watch, the Yoga videos I want to try and the books I read, but they are just for fun boards and I don’t constantly check them. Maybe I’ll write a blog post about them in the future. 🙂

Another thing that changed lately is the way I store my files in the cloud. Previously, I just kept everything on Google Drive organized by folders, but since I’m not paying for it, I was running out of space because of all the stuff I have to temporarily store for my thesis research, so I decided to move all my personal stuff (old documents, receipts, printables, ebooks, etc.) on Dropbox since I already had an account created back in 2011 (before Drive was actually a thing). Also, inviting other people over the years allowed me to gain 7GB of storage there, which is more than enough for my personal stuff. On Google Drive, I just have two main folders one for University and one for blogging stuff, here is how the latter is organized.

I have a folder for every blog/website I write for and inside each folder I have a Google Doc for every article I write, this way I have a backup of my work if something goes wrong with the websites, it also works very well if I have to share the article with someone else before publishing it. I was using the same system for my blog, but since I write more here than everywhere else, I ended up having too many documents. So, for 2018, I decided to create a single document with all my blog posts and it works incredibly better.

The structure of the doc is very simple. I write the name of the month as Header 1 and the title of the posts as Header 2, this way they build a clickable index on the left and I can easily jump from a post to another, it also helps me to see how much I post every month on my blog. When an idea for a blog post comes to mind, I usually note it in Google Keep and, once at my laptop, I transfer it on this Doc.

For deadlines, appointments, and reminders I still use Google Calendar. I also purchased a paper planner for 2018 but since my life is totally boring right now and I have less and less stuff to do aside from staying all day at my laptop writing, I started using my Tolkien Calendar to annotate the important stuff. This way, I have a paper calendar on my wall always in front of me and a digital “backup” on Google Calendar that I also use when I’m away from my desk.

I have a similar set up for my notes too: Google Keep for reminders, lists and random notes on the go and my Harry Potter Moleskine as my everything notebook. It used to be my bullet journal, but I basically abandoned the task/appointment stuff and it’s just all collections so I call it “everything notebook” now. 🙂 Here I like to draft blog posts, plan the articles I have to write and things like that.

Bonus Tip

Finally, I’d like to share a tip that helped me a lot to avoid procrastination and getting distracted while I should work at my laptop (i.e. all day). Many people use apps that block certain websites from their browser (like Facebook) or even some software, but I don’t like that (I’m always afraid of messing up), my system is definitely simpler. I have two user accounts on my laptop, one is called Alice and one University. The first one is the admin account and I use it for everything, from blogging stuff to play LOTRO and relax, the other one if solely for working on my thesis. Having all my files on the cloud helps a lot so I can’t still access them from my other account, but also from my tablet or my phone. In this secondary account I use for University, I don’t have all my browser bookmarks nor the distraction of all the other stuff like personal files on Dropbox or LOTRO or Spotify. For a while, I toyed with the idea of using my laptop only for work and do all my blog and recreational stuff on my tablet with the help of my Bluetooth keyboard, but I like to create graphics and explore and read and things like that and doing it on a tablet was a nightmare for me! So having two different accounts is what works for me.

I hope you enjoyed this little update on my productivity set up. Feel free to let me know how you stay organized in the comments below! 🙂