Thursday, 3 August 2017

Getting organised...does the perfect planner exist?

I've been feeling really disorganised of late*...lists everywhere, but nowhere to be found; ideas and thoughts jotted down in notebooks, but I can't remember which one; tips saved within IG, but not collated anywhere useful; free courses signed up for, but not organised enough to follow through with them.

Does any of this sound familiar to you?

I was using a bullet journal last year, to great effect, but less so at the beginning of this year. I decided to upgrade to a binder system (Filofax) as I thought that having a calendar, and sections for all the other bumpf, would makes things more easy to access. Nope...I find the rings get in the way of jotting notes down, so I end up having to remove the sheets to write things in. Grrr. And I'm hopeless with predesignated areas for to dos/This Week/goals etc, and especially with those diary inserts with times marked on throughout the day.

I've never been one to follow a pattern, colour in someone else's design, or stick to a template if I can design my own ;)

As a temporary measure, I've made myself a few of my Sprigs design notebooks (in the shop if you fancy one yourself), and am using them to make a start on being organised.

  • I have one for my Ditsy Bird thoughts/plans/projects - the biggies that need noting down and adding to as I go along. I've added an index to it, so it's easy to quickly access the page I'm after.
  • One to be used as a DB bullet journal, complete with key and index. 
  • One for home - thoughts/plans/projects - in the same way as the DB version

For my daily diary, I'm persevering with my Filofax, but am working on designing my own planner pages, taking inspiration from a variety of sources, to tailor the layout to suit me and my particular foibles.
I've got a few ideas so far

  • A weekly spread over two pages, to be used in a bullet journal way
  • A place to list weekly goals for wellbeing, to help me keep track of water consumption; vitamin taking; exercise; meditation (not yet started but really wanting to very soon)...a habit tracker, as they say it takes a month or two to turn a behaviour into a habit. So by tracking them, I can keep on top of them, to get me closer to the habit stage, and not having to consciously monitor them all the time.
  • I want to include a check-in area for have I felt this week, can I pinpoint the reasons? can I repeat them/remedy them for future weeks? how am I progressing towards my goals? did I work on the One Thing or did I get distracted? What have I learned from the week? What am I grateful for...specifics, not just 'I have a lovely home' type comments. What mindset do I need to encourage...or what mantra will help me through the week to come?

I'll start by drafting up some pages and layouts, and then trial them for a week to see how they fit. I can then tweak them until I find something that fits me and my mindset...knowing I can always change again in the future. After all, I'll be printing my own, so there won't be any wastage to worry about.

I'll share my progress on here in case anyone else is in the same boat, or just interested in seeing how my ideas pan out.

How do you keep organised...keep all those balls in the air? make sure birthday cards and gifts get sent on time? avoid missing hair appointments? get the ideas out of your head and into some form of easily accessible order? Do you have any tips or advice, or a fave planner person you refer to for ideas? Do please share in the comments or drop me a line on IG.

until next time!

*having done a bit of reading on this, I'm pretty sure it's down to hormones - I'm on medication that stops my ovaries, and has effectively put me into menopause whilst on it. I was very relieved to read that it isn't just me trying to get through my days with a frequently foggy head! :)

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

maintaining the clarity

So I was talking about my lightbulb moment in the my last post, and how I believe that simplifying life is key to a calmer mind. For me, at least.

I was thinking about this and how I often have these moments of clarity, but then they get swept up in the maelstrom of my mind.

Why is it, that in an instant I can see so vividly what needs to be done, and how to do it, and in the next moment it's gone, blurred in amongst all the other head chatter.

It feels like I'm in the sea, head under water, vision blurry with so much to see and none of it distinct. Then, just for a moment, my head pops above the surface, and I can clearly see the shore and the horizon. I know where I am, and where I need to be, and I am sure I can get there.
Then there's a wave, a change in current, and I'm back under...trying to make sense of the smudge of blues and greens in front of my eyes...trying to focus on what needs my attention.

This makes me think I need a buoyancy aid of some kind. But I'm not sure what form that will take as yet.

I do find the writing things down helps. Once it's down on paper, it's out of my head, and there's one less thought in the whirlpool that exists in there.

Do you journal? I do, sporadically. It's more of a brain download, that's how I refer to it. No doodling or pretty tapes and coloured pens. Just pen to paper and let it spew out.
Emotional vomit is how I once heard it termed. Pretty damn accurate!
And I only ever journal when I've something to try and sort out, or something bad has happened and I need to offload, without the requirement of a full conversation about it.

I always feel relieved after a journalling session - it's hugely cathartic - and I ALWAYS write way more than I think I will, and never stick to the topic I had in mind. Ha ha!

Tangents upon tangents....out it flows.

My mind quietens, shoulders release their tension, my jaw slackens and I am no longer gritting my teeth. I feel peace.

This is especially useful if I've been struggling with sleep - I usually fall asleep okay, but then either have mad, bonkers dreams that are hyper vivid, and living a whole other life in my sleep. Or, I wake up numerous times in the night - I have to get out of bed to reset (cue five trips to the loo), before climbing back in and falling back to sleep.

Talking things through with a friend is supremely helpful, especially of you're both having similar issues. This shared problem solving is much more positive and productive, than simply moaning to a friend who either doesn't have the problem, or can't relate to it.
There's too much (inherited Catholic..which I'm not!) guilt associated with that kind of sharing for me, as there's rarely any progress made...just noise coming out of my mouth...and there's been far too much of that over the past couple of years, so I try to find another solution where possible.
[Though sometimes only a good old chuntering sesh with a friend will do, whilst out stomping, or over a brew or a G and T]

Now where was I? See, this happens all the time, I have a very clear idea/thought in my head, and am working my way through it, when *poof* off it floats, like a spider web on the breeze, and I simply can't get a firm grasp on it again. Infuriating!
Thankfully, because I'm actually sat typing all of this out, I can retrace my thoughts, and get back to where I was.

Following on from the talking with a friend point, accountability is a great tool!

Either find a friend or colleague who has the same issue, and agree that you'll both check in with each other, to make sure you are keeping with the program. Each declares (or in text, message, email) what they intend to do/achieve/change to the other, and by doing that they are making themselves accountable. It's no longer a fanciful thought in your head, but an 'out in the world' promise to yourself, and someone knows about it. And they'll be talking with you to see how you're getting on, and vice versa, and there to share ideas, what has and hasn't worked for them, relevant articles they've read, lightbulb moments. You can each monitor one another's progress and help each other to stay true to your chosen paths, with regular checkins and updates. You also have someone to talk to when things go awry...a sounding board.

Another way of doing this, if you haven't got a friend in the same boat, is to find someone who has been there and found their way through it, who will be happy to be your sounding board. A mentor of sorts.

The thing I miss most about working in my old accounting office, is having my colleague across the room to bounce things off. We'd chat through issues, remind one another how to do certain formulae on our spreadsheets, boost one another when one was having a particularly tough day, and talk through the best way to handle a problem. Priceless.

Consciously telling myself to take a moment, just stop, take stock, think things through one at a time, and then go forward in a methodical way, is a great exercise. Breaking things down into their component parts, makes it much simpler to see what needs to be done, and in what order.

This does have the disadvantage of needing to be done alone, by me...but with the help of a pad, pen and the ever faithful list, it can still work. I have to make sure I keep referring to the list/notes, to stay on track.

Another thing I've learned, and been increasingly aware of in recent months is not to force things. If an issue is proving particularly stubborn, leave it be for a while. Walk away and let your mind process everything you're thinking or feeling about it, and often the answer will come naturally, organically, instinctively.

I'd been thinking about blogging, brainstorming subjects, ideas etc, and putting it off for ages, because I couldn't think of a topic that didn't feel forced or trite.

This morning I started to compose an Instagram post, which naturally became the previous, Simplify, post.

Instead of over thinking, and forcing content into my head, I gave myself the space to generate an idea...a post on something that felt relevant and real, and something I wanted to talk about. Not because: it was on trend; it was relevant to my business; or because it linked into a recent product design; but simply because it is supremely pertinent to me right now, and part of why I am struggling to keep up a consistent presence on social media.

I also recognised that the post was growing in my head as I typed, and so headed over to my blog to make the most of it.

Planning and scheduling are all well and good, but if the posts don't come instinctively, then there's no joy in it for me. This is something I have processed organically; by stepping away from courses and articles about why/when/where to post/share/blog; taking a step back from all the instruction that's out there; and giving myself the time to absorb it all.
A little like how we're told, that at night, our brains process the information we've gathered during the day, and form and cement our memories.

"One of the key components of information processing is attention. Information slams into our brains all the time - way too much information for us to process. The information enters our brains through our senses, and then, we either discard the information or we pay attention to it."

A sure fire way for me to get clarity, and let the ideas and plans flow, is to get in the bath! As soon as I'm immersed under the bubbles, my brain clears, and out they pour. I have learned to take a pad and pen in to the bathroom, as I've climbed out of too many deliciously scented, warm baths, just to make sure I write a thought down!

Is there an activity that you do that you know stimulates clear thinking? Can you harness it and use it to your advantage? I ran a bath on Saturday lunchtime, because I knew I needed some quiet thinking time. It worked! I got out, mind focused, and got straight on with tackling the gate.

Getting out for a walk works in the same way for me. It doesn't have to be a huge long hike, a simple stroll to the post office to post orders will do, or a walk through the fields and the village. Just getting away from all the stimulation around me in the house works wonders...a clear field of vision and a clear mind. No pile of ironing, no open bill, no half finished painting, and no emails demanding attention.

I always take my phone, and dependent on my mood I either do a full stomp to get my heart racing and my limbs pumping, or I take it a little steadier and make time to snap images as the moments grab me.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this! I know I'll be pondering it for a few days yet, and probably even longer still. We're heading away for a week on Sunday, and I'm going to take the opportunity to work through some of this head fog, and find my way (or ways) to tackle it.

Do please note that these are my own personal thoughts on things, I'm not saying you should try these ideas...I simply wanted to start the conversation, to find out how differently we all deal with similar issues. It's so good to talk!

Cheerio for now,

Monday, 17 July 2017

simplifying for a calmer life

Good morning, happy brand spanking new week!

I've been thinking a lot about how to get more motivated and organised.
I spent some time over the weekend, surrounded by diaries, notebooks, bullet journals...planning and plotting, to try and instil some clarity and routine into life.
Then this morning I saw a post on Instagram with a word on the image, and I knew THAT was what I needed most right now.

{ S I M P L I F Y }

When doing anything (and I mean anything...planning, buying, cooking, sorting, cleaning, gardening, entertaining, holiday packing, present wrapping, and working) I will be keeping this one word in my head.

I'm going to be using the Summer holidays as a test period for working towards making life more simple - 

  • I'll stop trying to tackle dozens of things at once; 
  • concentrate on one task at a time giving it my full attention; 
  • I'll be clearing out the brain and the house clutter (the house sort out will most definitely help with the brain sort out...2 birds 1 stone & all that); 
  • keep my spaces clear and clean, especially my desk tops...walking into My Room on a morning, and seeing crap all over the place is hugely demotivating, and, quite frankly, pretty depressing.
    I already have two golden and very simple rules that have become firm habits, and which make my life calmer - I always make my bed in the morning, and I aim to always leave the kitchen clean and tidy before going to bed a night.
    Both of these are pretty magical. I get up in a morning and come down to a tranquil scene in the kitchen, all ready for me to start the morning routine. At the end of the day, I get to go up to bed to a welcoming room that soothes my eyes and mind, helping me wind down for sleep.
    It makes absolute sense to extend what I already know to work into other areas of my life and home;
  • make sure I have at least a rough schedule for how the week will pan out - this can be flexible and tasks/appointments can be moved around, so long as they get done by the end of the week, or I know to carry them forward to the next...bullet journal tricks!

I know that over time, there will be others to add to the list, but I'll wait until they pop into my head like lightbulb moments, rather than dredging my mind for ideas that are really just fillers for this list/post.

Without realising, I'd already taken this idea on board this weekend.

I've got a few big jobs that need tackling, all sat at the back of my mind, chuntering away whilst they await their turn.

One of these was tarting up the front garden - the gate and posts, and the black metalwork on them were in need of their annual face lift, as were the two metre box covers. 
Instead of putting them off, or doing a bit, getting distracted, and having the gate stuck in the garage for a month, obstructing the path to the door, waiting for me to get around to finishing it...I just got on with it. 
On Saturday, I took the gate off it's hinges, carried it around to the garage, cleaned it, dried it, and painted the wood and metal work on one side. 
On Sunday, I got up, turned the gate over and painted that side, then went outside and did the gate posts and latch, then cleaned and painted the metre cupboards. 
By late evening, everything was dry and Paul carried the gate back round and put it in place. 

Done. Simple. I did one job and I did it well and completed it. Lesson learned.

Now to continue the challenge!

Are you good at focusing on one task, and doing it well? 

Or are you a flitter like me, flitting from one job to the next, leaving everything half done...with no satisfaction of a job well done, and a house and garage filled with unfinished tasks, piles all over the place and in need of moving/sorting/giving to charity?

I confess though, that I find it MUCH easier to employ this one at a time rule, when there's a big project involved. 
In fact, I can get positively excited at the thought of a big project such as a big garage clear out. I wonder why I can't apply the same anticipation and diligence to lesser tasks? 
Is it due to degrees of job satisfaction? Not enough to really get my teeth into? The bigger jobs feeling more meaningful?
That's a daft way of thinking, as it's usually the little jobs that are the everyday stones in the shoe of life, and getting a couple of those out of the way could make an enormous difference to daily life. 
For example, I recently tidied a couple of shelves in our pull out larder - game changer when cooking, as I know where all the sauces, condiments etc are, and I know they're all in date! 
Hmm, yet more proof of the value of this here lesson.

SIDE NOTE: Interestingly, the art I love best to create, is the most simple* - the minute I overwork a piece, I can feel jars, and doesn't give me the same feeling of peace when I look at it.
Yet more evidence that simplicity is key for me.
(*still with lots of detail and intricacy, but 'just enough')

Right, let's do this!

Do let me know your top tips for simplifying and focusing on the task in hand...all will be welcomed with open, eager arms :)

Cheerio for now

Monday, 10 July 2017

July downloadable desktop calendar

Soooo late, but here it is...using one of my #100daysofditsydoodles

Simply click on the image to go to the download!

***update - I realised I hadn't adjusted the days! Now done and link amended to the updated downloadable version***


Tuesday, 6 June 2017

June Desktop Calendar

Hello my lovelies!

This month's calendar was inspired by a wonderful coastal scene, snapped whilst holidaying on the island of Lanzarote last week.

I've used a doodle from my #100daysofditsydoodles - granted I was a bit previous in posting it in May, but it has come in very handy for this calendar.

I hope you like this happy, tranquil was only once I'd completed the design, that I spotted the white chair by the side of the house on the left. Just take a moment to imagine yourself sitting there, sun on your face, fresh sea air in your lungs, nothing troubling your mind. And breathe...

click on this image to go to the download :)

Have a wonderful and fruitful June, full of sunshine - be it in your heart or in the sky ☀️

Much love until next time,


Monday, 8 May 2017

100 days of Ditsy doodles

What's this? A actual post not involving desktop calendars? Well heck!

That's right, today I thought I'd share a creative challenge that I set myself. I'm drawing 100 days of Ditsy doodles, and sharing them on my Instagram account with the hashtag #100daysofditsydoodles.

I've seen a lot of these on Instagram where, for a set number of days, you commit to creating/doing something every day, and sharing it on your feed with your followers.

I've a track record of being horrendous at sticking with challenges (through self sabotage, usually) but thought, what the hey, I've nothing to lose, and only good things to gain.

Good things? Why yes :)
- regular material to post (sometimes finding something to share is like walking into a brick wall)
- the satisfying feeling of sticking with something for a set period of time (I have never given anything up for Lent/dry January etc)
- seeing how I fare when faced with self inflicted deadlines and guidelines
- improving my motivation to create, post, share and inspire
- seeing whether my style develops over the 100 days; whether themes appear (the first 15 days have been firmly based in the realm of botanicals and florals!)
- finding out what gives me joy to draw, and what leaves me flat and a smidge curmudgeonly (the flower for 14/100...ugh! A lesson in not over working and over thinking, and relaxing into the flow of mindless - ooh a little controversial perhaps - drawing and mark making)
- playing with different tools/materials/pens - using colour rather than purely black ink on white*
* read, 'Sarah's happy safe comfort zone and favourite place to play'

So here's a little round up of 1 - 10 and I'll share 11- 20 once I've passed that point.

If you'd like to see the doodles as they are posted, you can find me on Instagram as say hi if you pop over!

If you've got any questions about the doodles/sketches - eg pens/sketchbook etc, do please ask.

Cheerio for now,


Sunday, 30 April 2017

May Desktop Calendar

Well hello, and check me out being ON TIME with this month's calendar!
I know, I can barely believe it myself ;)

This month's challenge to myself, was to create a pattern brush in Adobe Illustrator using one of my own doodles, and to then use that to write May using the brush.

Above is a scan of the original drawings from my sketchbook - after these were scanned, the one top left was brought into Illustrator to be turned into a vector image to be edited and used to create a seamless pattern brush.
I used this course from Skillshare, which is so good - really clear and thorough, and easy to follow.

I was watching and working simultaneously - with the course open in Chrome, and Ai open at the same time - after each section, I then put what I'd learned into practice, rewinding and referencing the course as needed.

Anyhoo, a little playing around with the design later, and I created the pattern brush and then used it to write the word May for the calendar - another trick learned!

I added a few berries with the blob brush tool, a light coloured background, and the calendar itself - it's a clean and simple design this month, a rather calming change from the bright colour that was the April one :)

Simply click on the image below to download the calendar for your desktop.

Have a super May!!

Cheerio for now,