Habit/Cycle Tracking

A couple of years ago I started habit tracking. It isn’t something I stick to every month, but I still find it really useful to come back to when I get out of routine and find my good habits slipping.

Habit Tracker by Clementine Creative

I’ve streamlined my habits a bit and I now just track the few things which I feel make the biggest difference:

  • My sleep routine.
  • Switching off my phone in the evening.
  • Eating at least five portions of fruit & veg per day.
  • Exercise (going for a walk or doing some pilates).

Last year I started thinking about also tracking my mood, energy levels and sleep quality alongside these habits to see what effect the habits were having. I was interested to see whether sticking to the habits or letting them slip had an immediate impact on my mood, energy and sleep.

This also led me to thinking about how hormones affect our mood, energy levels and sleep quality and the fact that these things vary throughout the month as part of a natural cycle – regardless of habits. So I started tracking all these things alongside my menstrual cycle to see what patterns emerged!

It hasn’t been a particularly scientific experiment, but after tracking five cycles, I found that my habits don’t have a huge impact on a day to day basis, but that maintaining good habits (such as eating healthily and getting plenty of sleep) help to keep me happier overall.

Unsurprisingly – I found numerous patterns between my menstrual cycle and mood, energy and sleep quality. Most notably – at the beginning of each cycle my energy is really low despite sleeping really well and towards the end of each cycle I’m buzzing with energy despite sleeping poorly.

A magazine article I read about menstrual cycles, moon cycles and yoga (sorry – I can’t remember what magazine it was!) broke down suggested actions for each week/phase of a cycle. I cut out part of the article and have looked back at it regularly to see how my cycle fits in with it.

Below I’ve outlined what the article suggested for each phase and I’m planning to make my own list of actions/intentions incorporating what I’ve discovered whilst tracking.

Phase One (approx first week of cycle)

  • Set intentions.
  • Rest.
  • Restore.

Phase Two (approx second week of cycle)

  • Develop new possibilities.
  • Make decisions.
  • Overcome challenges.

Phase Three (approx third week of cycle)

  • Celebrate you.
  • Have fun.
  • Express yourself.

Phase Four (approx fourth week of cycle)

  • Share.
  • Reflect.
  • Release.

The information I found whilst tracking has given me a better understanding of the impact hormone fluctuations have and how I can work in sync with what my body needs. I’m much better at knowing when to push myself and when to go easy on myself.

For example – I no longer give myself a hard time for being ‘lazy’ at the beginning of my cycle. My body clearly needs lots of rest and that’s okay. I’ve been saving all my monotonous jobs that involve lots of sitting for this phase of my cycle and it’s actually turned into a super productive time!

Tracking my cycles also made me aware that I tend to have mini-meltdowns around the same time each cycle! This is when I’m feeling really creative and have lots of ideas pinging around my mind. It’s a perfect time to be designing and planning but I need to be mindful of not overwhelming my already busy brain!

Do you fancy tracking your cycle and working out your own personal actions/intentions for each phase? Drop me an email if you’d like a copy of my habit/cycle tracker!

Bullet Journal

I’ve been looking back through my blogs trying to work out when I started keeping a Bullet Journal and I’m still not sure – maybe two years? Anyway… I still LOVE it and I wanted to share a new layout I’ve been using that’s working really well for me.

I don’t know if my Filofax would technically count as a bullet journal – but I like being able to move pages around, keep sections within dividers and remove pages I no longer need without it getting messy. I still use A5 notepads for designing and they slot nicely in the front.

My Filofax is divided into five sections: Diary, Work, Home (meal planning, crop rotation etc), Contacts and Info. The work section is by far the most used and has morphed into a work/life hybrid with yearly, monthly and weekly planners.

Don’t you just love a planner before you’ve filled it with lots of to-do’s?!

I’ve been using the above layout for a good few months and I feel like it gives me a good balance. I don’t have an overwhelming amount on my weekly list but I’m motivated to get it all done because I can see an overview of what I need to do for the rest of the month. I use the monthly layout as more of a master list of what I will focus on each week with the weekly plan going into a lot more detail.

Some of my work involves sitting at a desk and some doesn’t. By dividing my weekly plan into ‘office’ and ‘make/do’ I tend to give myself a better balance each day between time at my desk and time spent making. Having a section for ‘life’ on both plans means that I also keep track of the weeks or days where I have a lot on outside of work.

My favourite thing about my new weekly layout is the colour coding! In Courtney Carver’s Soulful Simplicity book she talks about having a master list and just picking three things off it each day. Around the same time I saw a post on Instagram (I think it was by Joanne Hawker) saying that she colours in three things on her to-do list so that she’s just focusing on those three things – I loved that idea!

I use my days list at the edge of the page as a mini diary and also as a colour-code for what I’m planning to do each day. I might only colour in one thing per day or I might colour in ten… it depends how big the jobs are! But it helps me to think about my priorities, what is realistic to do in a day and to focus on one thing at a time.

I also often have an ‘It can wait’ list. Those non-urgent jobs that will become urgent at some point and creep onto the planners!

Are you a Bujo lover?

Habit Tracking

I’m loving taking part in March Meet the Maker over on Instagram!

The photo I shared of my habit tracker sparked a lot of interest so I thought I would talk about it a bit more on here…

There are so many lovely inspirational layout ideas for habit trackers on Pinterest and Instagram and I initially planned to create my own layout. But then I found this one from Clementine Creative and it was perfect…so that saved me a job!

It’s available in different sizes and is free to download as a pdf here – or you can pay to get an editable version if you want to type in your list and days rather than adding them by hand.

Why Habit Track?

At the beginning of this year, I knew that I didn’t want to set myself any big goals or resolutions. After a very busy year last year I was looking forward to being less busy and giving myself a better work/life balance. But that doesn’t just happen on it’s own!

I knew I needed a plan to make sure I was getting work done but not doing too much (an easy habit to slip into when you don’t have specific office hours). I also wanted to get into a routine with some things I’ve been doing sporadically for a while (for example – meditation) and create new habits that I knew would benefit my health.

Is it working?

In my experience, habits take a long time to build and not long to fall down! I put flossing on here because I have a tendency to floss every day for months and then miss a few days… and then just stop until I see the dentist and get told off… and then it starts over again. I’m getting better at not stopping things if I miss a few days because colouring in my pretty chart motivates me!

The thing that has surprised me most is that I don’t eat five portions of fruit and veg every day! I was planning to put seven per day as the target on my tracker because that’s the new recommendation and I thought I was easily having five. Turns out I have a tendency to eat lots of portions of the same thing each day – I’ll happily eat a few portions of carrots – but then that would only count as one portion. And however many different fruit and veggies I put in a smoothie… it counts as a maximum of two portions. And the portion size guidelines have doubled since I last checked! I’m really glad I put that on the tracker as it’s making me count each day.

Sleep habits

The most beneficial things on the tracker for me are those related to my sleep habits and working hours. I’m pretty sure I’m a nocturnal animal and as I’m self employed I could in theory sleep when I want and work when I want. But over the years I’ve discovered a lot of down-sides to being a night owl…

  • Getting up late makes me feel lazy! Even if I’ve worked until 2am the night before… It feels inappropriate and somewhat defensive to explain that to the UPS man when I answer the door in my pyjamas at 11am.
  • When everyone else is finished for the day I’m still working and miss all the fun things!
  • It’s difficult to develop a consistent sleep routine because I’m out of sync with everyone else… and insomnia kicks in when I don’t have a routine.

Small changes such as putting my phone into flight mode by 10pm (so that I’m not browsing Pinterest until midnight!) have really helped improve my sleep. Giving myself an earlier bedtime means I’m now averaging about 7.5 hours sleep compared to less than 7 hours previously – and I feel better for it.

On top of extra sleep most nights, I’m also enjoying a new slow start to my weekdays. I’m setting my alarm early to give myself some Pinterest/Instagram browsing time, followed by arm exercises and a passive chest stretch to help my knitting pains (shoulder, elbows and wrists) and ten minutes meditation. Doing all of that before I start work feels good!

What would you put on your habit tracker?

Bullet Journal 2018

I haven’t shared images of my bullet journal for a long time…mainly because it tends to get a bit messy and doesn’t look pretty in pictures!

But I’m still a huge fan of the concept of bullet journaling and I’m getting mine ready for 2018. The main thing that appealed to me initially was the idea of keeping everything in one place – my diary, work lists, plans, ideas and information. Rather than lots of notebooks and random bits of paper I could keep everything together!

My first attempt wasn’t great. The blogs I read about “how to start a bullet journal” suggested numbering pages and having an index to make it easy to find things. This didn’t work for me at all and I wasted a lot of time flicking back and fourth through that note book!

I think it’s about finding what works for you – and for me that’s a filofax. I can section things off with dividers and easily remove/add in pages so it’s really flexible. Whilst juggling two jobs it has been invaluable.

I have a diary section with monthly spreads so I can see at glance what I’m doing both socially and with work.

A freelance section where I have a monthly plan, weekly plans and then more detailed lists for each week. As you can see I haven’t planned much for next year yet!

I like having an overview showing my focus for each month/week. It gives me structure and keeps me motivated.

Most of my designing happens in seperate sketchbooks – but I get small ones that slot into my filofax so that everything is still together.

I have a home section which includes meal plans, wedmin, crop rotation planning and diy plans.

And finally contacts and info…which is just two pages of things I forget (such as my car reg!).

My bujo is fairly simple – but I love it! After initially getting a bit overwhelmed by all of the “how to” information, I’ve definitely found what works for me.

And I do love an excuse to use stickers!

Bullet Journal (addiction!)

2016-10-31-11.47.35.jpg.jpgI discovered bullet journaling back in August and I’m still finding out what does and doesn’t work for me!

The main thing that I was hoping for with my journal was that I would be able to keep everything in one place: my work lists, freelance work lists, monthly/yearly planners, home projects etc. This is generally working well – but unable to curb my urge to buy new teal stationary…I have now bought a Filofax and will be moving over to using that in 2017 (or when my current notebook is full – whichever happens first!).

2016-10-31-11.48.08.jpg.jpgAs soon as I started my new job with MEZ (Rowan), I started to miss my old diary. I use the calendar in my phone and have a planner spreadsheet which I print out – but I miss having a ‘week per page’ diary. Having a separate diary and notebook would defeat the main aim of  my bullet journal (keeping everything in one place) so I decided a Filofax would be the way forward.

I mentioned in my last bullet journal blog that keeping a contents page went out of the window quite quickly and instead I was adding washi tape colour coded tabs to each page so I could find things quickly. Well – that didn’t last long either! So that was another reason to opt for a Filofax – because it allows me to put everything into sections…and I do love a bit of categorising! Not only this, but I can also choose lots of different colours/styles of paper and add to/remove from each section easily.

I’ve used removable stickers on the dividers so that I can change them if necessary and there is a handy sleeve at the back for keeping a ‘jotter’ and a sleeve at the front where I can keep my printed monthly planners.

This is starting to sound like a sponsored blog for Filofax (which it’s not) so I’ll stop…but needless to say – I love my new Filofax! Also – If you have a Filofax it’s handy to know that Paperchase do cheap versions of most of the inserts.

Are you a Bullet Journal Junkie too?!

Back to School


Starting a new job has very much given me that back to school feeling – so I bought new shoes and stationary and started a bullet journal!

I’d seen quite a few posts on Pinterest about keeping a bullet journal – but didn’t really know what one was. After a very enjoyable evening of reading blogs and and browsing Pinterest, I discovered that it’s whatever you want it to be! You create your own layouts within a notebook of your choice, and it can incorporate to do lists, weekly/monthly/yearly planners, goals, notes, diarys, projects and whatever else you want to put in it!

This is all held together by a contents page at the front so that you can easily find what you’re looking for.

I initially got very excited and decided that my bullet journal would be the answer to everything. I would no longer need lists in my phone, a work notebook, a freelance notebook, a ‘stuff to do around the house’ notebook, a yearly planner spreadsheet, a diary, a calandar and post-it notes! Everything would fit in my bullet journal and life would be forever perfectly organised.

I quite quickly realised that not every element of it worked for me. One page isn’t enough for a contents list – and I can’t really be bothered to number every page and then log it in the contents – so that didn’t last long. I did find a solution though and have been putting washy tape ‘tabs’ on each page so that I can locate things quickly.

I also didn’t get on with monthly planners. I love my yearly planner (above) and have written my main goals for each month in there. I enjoyed ticking off the bits I’ve done in Aug, but after trying two different layouts I decided that my months are too busy to be writing everything down by hand. So I’ve reverted back to my colour-coded spreadsheet planner where I can see at a glance when I have a workday, a freelance day, a workshop, a show, or occasionally a day off! Things change and move around so much with my schedule that I enjoy the flexibilty of doing this in a spreadsheet. I have printed it out to keep in my bullet journal though so it’s still all in one place!

My favourite bit is my weekly planners. For years I’ve been using boxes on my to-lists rather than crossing things out. I find it really handy to be able to look back and see when I did something and it’s easier to see if you haven’t crossed the whole thing out. I’ve created a key to make this even more organised and that’s going well so far.

I wish my weekly layouts looked as lovely as the ones above from omgstudytime and Aprons & Stilletos, but my weekly to-do’s don’t fit into nice little boxes/days! I am however liking having my work and freelance work in the same notebook as there is a bit of crossover between the two things. At the moment I’ve been squeezing it onto one spread – but that’s just not working. I think I’m going to start doing a page with an overview of the week and the tasks I need/want to complete, then a more detailed page of freelance work to-dos for the week and then two whole pages for the day job! This should feel less overwhelming and hopefully look a bit neater.

I’m loving keeping ‘collections’/projects in my journal. I used to jot things down all over the place, but now it’s all together. I have a page of things I want to make for me, ideas for blogs, decorating plans and many other bits and bobs.

I also want to add in a ‘goals’ page – I like the layouts above from Sarah’s Chapter and gettoworkbook. I think that would be a good thing to do in December ready for the new year. And I really want a meal planner. How organised is the one above?! Unfortunately I can’t find who did this originally but I love the idea.

Although I’ve found not everything is working for me – I’m still loving my bullet journal and it’s definitely helping me to stay organised now that I’m juggling a job and freelance work. It can be whatever works for you – and if you want to find out more just check out my journal board on Pinterest where I’ve pinned a few of my favourite layouts and ideas.

Happy journaling!