How I Stay Organized | Fall 2017

One of the things I struggle with the most is my love for technology. While I finally forced myself to automate my social media profiles and I just left Instagram (and a couple of Facebook groups) into my life, I still struggle with my insane love for apps. I like to watch videos and read posts about them, see how other people stay organized and I keep downloading new ones and testing them for some time until I find myself not knowing where my stuff is anymore.

I tried Todoist, TickTick, Asana, Pocket and Instapaper (and many others) because they looked cool and I thought I needed them. I switched so many times my to-do list app during the last few months that I ended up picking up an old notebook one day and just jot things down because I was too frustrated with my tech.

I love Google Drive and I use it all the time since my University moved our academic emails on GSuite, but somehow I forced myself to use Evernote, try OneNote or Dropbox Paper only because people recommended them. The truth is that I already had my own system but I wasn’t paying attention to it because I was too busy switching apps.

Normal girls get excited about a new pair of shoes, I get excited about a new app to try.

Now that we’re about to enter the Holidays season, I want to narrow down the list of tools I use and try to stick with it until the end of the year. Then, I will decide if I want to bring something else back or not.

My System

Here are the apps that I use on my system, the ones I always come back to, and other more recent apps I find very useful.

Google Calendar: I never found another calendar app with the same amount of features for free. Also, the new desktop redesign makes it even better to use.

Google Drive: here is where I store everything, from documents to pdf to online class workbooks, this is also where I draft my blog posts.

Google Keep: I finally ditched all the other to do list apps. After being an all-time fan of Wunderlist, I decided it was time to let it go because I had created so many lists there that it was incredibly cluttered and I even forgot about them. Keep is amazing, I love the way everything is in front of you and you don’t have to open folders or additional lists in order to see more, I even wrote a post on how I use it here.

Google Inbox: while on my laptop I keep using Gmail, I prefer Inbox on my phone because it’s more mobile-friendly and, above all, has a great reminders widget for Android that allows me to set reminders very quickly without even opening the app. The best thing about using Google products is that you can limit the number of accounts and login info to keep in mind.

Evernote: the native notes app on my smartphone isn’t very good and can’t be synchronized on another device, so the notes are just saved locally. Not very secure because if something happens to your phone, the notes are gone. That’s why I use Evernote for my random ideas, drafting blog posts on the go, Instagram captions and so on. I was very pleased by the experience with Simplenote (more suitable to my very simple needs), but I’ve been an Evernote user since 2012 and I didn’t want to create another account on another app. I used to have a very complex system with notebooks, stacks and tags, but I ended up not being able to find my notes (I’m not a fan of the search bar), so I decided to store my files on Drive and simplify my Evernote setup. These days I keep only one notebook and I always try to stay under 50 notes.

Trello: my favourite project management app. I mostly use it to collaborate with other people and plan specific projects. You can find all my posts about Trello here.

OneNote: this is a recent addition to the “collection”. I was looking for a handy way to save articles to read later without having to deal with another app/account. Then I found out that I could use OneNote with my incredibly old Hotmail account and that the feature to save posts there directly from Feedly was free, so I started using it as a “read later” app. I also decided to store some pdf and articles there, because I prefer the way they look there rather than Evernote and so I can keep my Google Drive decluttered and organized. So OneNote is basically my reading centre now, where I also keep blogging resources and interesting articles from the web. Finding thing is easier than Evernote because the way OneNote organize stuff with tabs and pages is exactly how my brain works. I should use it for notes and checklists, but I still prefer Evernote for that since synchronization and formatting work better on mobile.

Photo Editing

Snapseed and A Color Story are both free and they are the only apps I use these days to edit my photos.

Just For Fun

Goodreads Beta: Goodreads recently released a new app for Android and, even if it’s still in beta, I’m loving it. The layout is way better than the standard app and it has nice features.

Libib: this is a recent discovery and I use it to catalog my physical books. I love it because everything is private and it isn’t a social media.

Miscellaneous

Firefox Focus: I still use Chrome for day to da stuff, but when I have to just search random things, I prefer this app. It doesn’t save your chronology and doesn’t allow to open different tabs, so you’re forced to stay focused on what you’re doing. It’s nice to bring a bit of mindfulness in my browser research.

Adobe Scan: I tried tons and tons of scan apps and this one is definitely my favourite. I use it at University to scan notes of my classmates or documents, pages from books and things like that. I can easily scan my documents and save them as pdf files of one or more pages and export them to Drive.


I didn’t want to include the analog part of my organization because I already talked about my journals and planners in the past. However, I wanted to be sure to mention that my system is not completely digital and it will keep being a hybrid one also in 2018.

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?