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! 🙂

Journal Update | August 2017

I usually share my journal updates on Instagram (mostly on Stories), but they aren’t archived well and it’s hard for me to scroll back and see what was going on at the beginning of the year, for example. Also, I’m trying to step away from social media as much as I can (more on that in another post) and I want to start utilizing my blog more to record my life and my experiments. After all, that’s why I created it in the first place.

This is my current journals pile. It’s too much, I know. In fact, one of my goals for 2018 is to reduce the number of journals I use at the same time.

  • Traveler’s Notebook (not the original brand)
  • Moleskine soft cover grid
  • another Traveler’s Notebook (not the original brand)
  • Moleskine The Hobbit Limited Edition
  • Filofax Notebook
  • Beautiful journal from NZ
  • Moleskine Harry Potter Limited Edition (not pictured because I forgot to add it, silly me!)

I received this beautiful Traveler’s Notebook last Fall as a birthday present from my friend Maria and I changed many times the way I use it, right now it contains a weekly insert and my book journal insert from OrganiseWithKatie on Etsy (I shared it on Stories the other day). The black Moleskine used to be my university bullet journal but, after finishing classes and seminars, I keep the useful info on Trello now, so I only use the notebook to take notes about the books I’m studying for September.

If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you’d probably remember this Hobbit Limited Edition Moleskine as my reading journal. It was pretty and full of lists, but I ended up not using it at all after a couple of months, so I decided to switch things up and use it for my stream of consciousness journal. I tried several times to practice Morning Pages, but I didn’t find myself comfortable journaling in the morning (I prefer at the end of the day) and having a precise number of pages to fill. So, it’s just messy writing now. I plan to finish it by the end of August and move my rambles inside a new insert of one of my Traveler’s Notebooks.

This Traveler’s Notebook is just a thin piece of plastic, to be honest, but I’m particularly attached to it because it’s been the first journal of that kind and I purchased it on Amazon.it for less than 8€. It’s the same size of a Large Moleskine, so I’ll be able to use the Moleskine Cahiers once the current inserts will be filled up. This is where I do some art journaling and collaging. Basically the things I’ll be happy to reread in a couple of years, while my ramblings on the Moleskine are pure therapy for me and I’m not going to reread those pages.

This is a Filofax Notebook and I love it because the pages are detachable, similar to the ARC system. The color, Pear, is a bit unusual and outside of my color palette, but it looks better in person and, when I purchased it in a local store 2/3 years ago, I wasn’t aware of all the other beautiful pastel colors available. I use it to record my allergies and other health issues, nothing fancy.

My friend Maria went to New Zealand at the end of last year and sent me this gorgeous notebook. I wasn’t sure how to use it because I wanted to make it last for several years, but then I decided it was the perfect notebook to record my readings.

It’s just a simple reading log, year by year (I started recording my readings in 2015). No fancy headers, trackers, stats, challenges and things like that, just a simple list of books. I still use Goodreads and Trello, they are very useful to keep track of the books I own and have to read and the ones I’d like to read in the future. But I also read many books that aren’t trackable online because they are italian editions or they are museum publications, historical or academic books and so on, so this notebook is very helpful.

Finally, this is my “bullet journal”, meaning that it stores my notes, lists, and plans. This is something that helps me to stay organized and it isn’t pretty enough to be shared and this is probably why I managed to stick with it for so long. The pressure of having an Instagram-worthy bullet journal was too much for me.

There you have it! These are all the journals I’m currently using. I hope to reduce my pile by the end of the year, just to simplify a little bit.

What journals are you currently using? 🙂

Bullet Journal | One Year Later

My school years have always been marked by beautiful diaries, I bought them at the supermarket at the end of August, when all the back-to-school stationery goodies were nicely displayed for us, planner nerds. Starting university, a friend of mine and I decided we were too old for that colorful shit and bought a Moleskine planner every year. It was nice starting with a new one every January and testing out new layouts every year. Then, for 2014, I bought a 4 Euros ugly planner, because I didn’t have any new class to attend and I was in a little depressing moment of my life. I just needed a tool to write my (very few) appointments. I hated that cheap planner and, in 2015, I gifted myself the slightly expensive planner by A Beautiful Mess, telling myself it was a way to celebrate being 25. It was colorful and funny and I loved it, but my life was still pretty slow, I was writing my bachelor thesis, I didn’t have any class to attend and then I went away for a couple of weeks for some archaeological digging, leaving my (big) planner at home.

I decided I didn’t want to repeat the experience in 2016, I had spent lots of money and felt super guilty for the weeks missed in my planner and the small amount of things written in it. But I didn’t want to come back to the Moleskine brand, I wanted something fancier. Then, I stumbled upon Kara’s blog Boho Berry during the Summer and I discovered the bullet journal method.

Please, visit www.bulletjournal.com for all the details about it.

I didn’t purchase a planner for 2016, I managed to stick with this method for a whole year and now I’d like to reflect a bit about it…in bullet points, of course! 🙂

What worked

  • the flexibility of this method allowed me to not feel myself guilty for wasting paper during those days and weeks I didn’t have anything to write.
  • I discovered a huge community of amazing women who share my same passions and don’t think I’m mad. 😀
  • I started paying more attention to my days and feeling more grateful for the little things
  • writing everything down, instead of relying on digital apps, made me way more productive, especially with my studies
  • it made me creating a written time capsule without even noticing it
  • the Daily Log is my favorite thing.

What didn’t work

  • I ended up spending more money than I did when I used real planners, because I needed 2 Leuchtturm notebooks to cover the whole year
  • I started being influenced by the bujo community wanting ALL the things I saw in my Instagram feed
  • I’ve hit a point where all my pages were Insta-worthing instead of being simply functional to my own needs
  • I never used a monthly layout in my whole life before starting a bullet journal and I can’t help myself but avoiding the Monthly Log
  • the official Future Log doesn’t work for me, I can’t have a nice view of what’s coming up and it’s too unstructured, I tried to tweak it looking for some inspiration in the community, but nothing actually works for me. I’ve always been used to write my homeworks and appointments directly in the corresponding day, no matter if my planner was a daily or a weekly one, skipping the monthly view.
  • creating all the different kind of collections and trying to make my journal looking pretty distracted me from being productive. I even arrived at the point of writing my lists on scrap pieces of paper to copy them on the bullet journal in a better way. I was writing drafts of my to do lists… I know, right?
  • my notebook was too big and heavy and I always left it at home, ending up using apps on my phone when I was away, losing the point of my analog way to plan things.

What I learned

  • Leuchtturm notebooks are beautiful, but the A5 size is too large for me, I still prefer Moleskine notebooks, even if the paper isn’t that good.
  • as a student, it isn’t very functional having only the bullet journal, I personally need more structure for assignments, seminars, classes, exams and appointments
  • I can’t spend so much money in notebooks every year
  • I have to stop making my pages pretty because I have to share them on Instagram

What next?

I recently purchased a (super cheap) B6 Muji planner for 2017, it’s very portable and thin, easy to carry with me everywhere. I’m not going to quit bullet journaling, though. My plan is to use only a couple of modules of the original method in random notebooks I already own. I’m currently using a booklet inside my Traveler’s Notebook, but I might switch to something else later on. My bullet journal will hold only my daily logs and random notes, like brain dumps, packing lists, blog posts ideas, and so on and it will remain at home, because it’s where I usually sit down and plan.

I still think it’s a great method, it just depends on your needs and habits.

Are you a paper or digital planner person? What’s your experience with bullet journaling? Feel free to leave a comment below, I’d love to chat with you! 🙂

My Reading Journal (Bullet Journal Style)

It’s no secret, at this point of my blogging life, that I love books and I love stationery (and also trying to be productive). I recently combined these two passions together to create something completely new to me, a reading journal. One of my biggest regrets is to have never tracked nor annotated my readings until 2015. I discovered Goodreads years ago and I even used it for a while, but it was just another blogger’s social media to me, so I didn’t actually care about it, I even deleted my first account, because I didn’t get the point…I was also frustrated by the fact that, at that time, it was very hard to find italian books there and I didn’t read in english yet.

Then, my love for books sparked again last year, I started reading again like when I was in highschool and I started wanting to record my progress. One of the things that I finally realized is that I don’t like writing reviews of all the books I read, I like writing my thoughts about certain books, and Goodreads wasn’t actually the right place to do that to me. So, I decided to start a reading journal using the method of the bullet journal: creating collections, numbering the pages and tracking them in an index.

I had this super cool Hobbit limited edition Moleskine that I didn’t know how to use it, since the cover is made of fabric instead of faux leather and I was always afraid of ruin it, but what a better way to use it than a bookish journal? Here are all the different elements I added so far.


1. Index
I decided to create the index at the end of the journal and continue it backwards, since I don’t like leaving blank pages in advance when I don’t actually know the exact amount I’ll need.


2. Books Read in 2015-6
Since I started using Goodreads again last year, I’ve been able to find my list of books read in 2015 and I added it as my first collection in the journal, then I added the 2016 one too (obviously, still in progress).


3. Book Log
I also decided to add a sort of log, because I like to see how many books I finish each month and have a quick view of my ratings. It’s basically the copy of the list above, but, somehow, I prefer having them separated.


4. Books to Read
I have this habit of purchasing ebooks when they are on sale on Amazon and then forgetting about them, ending up purchasing something new to start when I finish my current reading. So I created this page to add all the ebooks once I purchase them and to have something choose for my next readings.

5. Book Reviews/Thoughts
I like to journal about my feelings concerning the books I read and writing them on paper first really helps me to understand my opinions and decide what to talk about here on the blog.


6. Book Challenges
One of the reasons why I decided to start a bookish journal was the need I had to keep track of my readings for the Summer Book Bingo, since I didn’t want to clutter my actual bullet journal. I’m so happy I finally did that because it will be nice to look back at it in the future.

That’s it! My super simple but dear to me reading journal. I’m planning to add also my Tolkien studies there, I take tons of notes even during my rereadings of books like The Silmarillion and I usually put them in random notebooks that I regularly lose and forget, but now I’ll be able to keep all in one place and find stuff easily with the help of the index.


Do you keep track of the books you read?