Pre-Planning GHDR 2017—Reflecting on My Resolutions-To-Be

Happy Sunday, everyone. January’s almost over, and that means it’s resolution time! Well, almost: for the 3rd year in a row, I’ll be using Groundhog Day Resolutions to keep myself focused and accountable to my priorities and goals. (You can see all my past Groundhog Day Resolutions posts here.)

For those who don’t know about it, Groundhog Day Resolutions (GHDR) are a system created by Dave Seah to track work done and insights realized in a few focus areas over the course of a year. It’s a great system that helps my ADHD brain a lot, and serves as a good record of effort and discovery. The basics of GHDR are to set 3 focus areas, define them, think about the kind of work that is measurable proof of effort in each area, track tasks done, write reflections and insights, and blog a review each month. Goals are set on Groundhog Day, the 2nd of February, and then a GHDR Review post goes up (ideally) on the 3rd of March, the 4th of April, the 5th of May, and so on, with the last post going out on 12 December.

This means that, in less than a week, I’ll be setting 3 big areas of focus in my life, thinking of actionable items and desired outcomes for each, and posting about it here on the blog. I’ve been percolating a few ideas for focus areas since late December, and now I have to narrow it down to 3. Here’s what I have so far:

  • self-care & self-compassion: this has been on the list the last two years, and will almost definitely stay on this year
  • possible self-care subgoals: build a meditation practice, build healthy habits, read more for fun
  • learning new things: another goal from last year, but it ended up not quite suiting my needs or fulfilling the vision I had for it; if it stays on, it will definitely be overhauled
  • building discipline, aka finish what I start: big things happening in my life this year, starting with McNair and ending  with grad school applications next winter, so this will be an important component of my life this year… but should it be a GHDR? more thought needed
  • ask for help/utilize the resources I have: I have wonderful supportive community and lots of folks willing to help when I need it or who have ideas and resources they could share when I’m stuck, but I’m bad at asking for help when I need it
  • sharing my journey: I’ve been playing with the idea of creating a category here on the site titled ADHD2PhD to collect resources, share my thoughts and process, and create some community around grad school for folks with ADHD; I plan to blog about it a lot this year, and this seemed like a fun little idea
  • creating sustainable communities/creative community building: I’ve been getting more and more reclusive over the last two years, and I have so much on my plate that this won’t likely change much, so I need to think about how to keep in touch with folks, how to support and be supported by community, and how to fit my life into the larger picture; the US is a bit of a mess right now, and that will impact my life and my loved ones, for example, so I need to be ready for that
  • seek collaborations: some of the work I do is all me, but I do love sharing work and collaborating on projects, and I would love to do some small, fun things with other folks this year to decompress

Some of these are a little redundant, and none of them are in their final form yet, obviously, but thinking about it is helping me clarify what I want out of my life and how I want to feel. By this Thursday I will narrow the list and write my first GHDR post of the 2017 cycle. I love the first and last posts of each cycle: the February post is shiny and new, with all the excitement and vision I have for the year, while the December post helps me stop and take stock of all the amazing things I accomplished and the things I learned about myself and the world around me.

But the stuff in between is vitally important, as well. It feels authentic to me, to share my process here; not just the highs, but the lows as well. My moments of failure and struggle are as important a part of who I am as my moments of triumph and strength. By checking in with my resolutions every month, I can recalibrate, figure out what needs to change, and let go of what can’t be carried forward. I can challenge myself and my community to grow. It’s an important time for reflection in my life, and I value it for that. It keeps me real.

I’ve been thinking about what I want my blog to be and do this year. I want to add more posts regularly, and build more community here, to make the blog less about just me and more about other folks. I want to include some guest blog posts, some more resources, and get others involved here. At the same time, GHDR posts are important for me, so they’ll remain an important part of this blog. The rest depends on time and energy—I’m excited to see what this year becomes.

See you Thursday!

 

How about you: do you have a process to keep track of progress and hold yourself accountable to your goals for the year? What works for you?

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School Organization, Part 1: Bullet Journal + Passion Planner = Yes

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program, and I may receive a commission for purchases made through Amazon links in this post.

Hello, friends! Can you believe January’s already half gone? It’s weird to me, since Portland has been half-buried under snow for over a week. I was running all over getting ready for winter term to begin, and then I ended up stranded at home, waiting for the snow to melt. Portland doesn’t know how to deal with snow, so we ground unceremoniously to a halt about a week ago, and haven’t quite recovered yet.

Half of my classes were cancelled last week, but I’ve been working to get things off the ground and get myself organized for a successful term. I’ve got a new Leuchtturm1917 dot grid notebook + my Passion Planner, and with the two together, I’m ready to get on top of my life and my school work, so I can rule this term. These aren’t the only tools I use to keep on top of my work and my grades, but I’m saving “the Binder” to talk about in February. For this post, I’m gonna focus on the daily life stuff. Because I have ADHD, organization is something I can struggle with, and I’ve been working hard to build better habits for the past couple of years. I want to share how I stay organized and hear your favorite tips and tools!

 

First up: the schedule. This was the first week of classes:

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My planner, the week of January 8th

Classes were cancelled on Wednesday and Thursday, and had a late start Monday and Friday. I used  that extra free time to get started on the reading, and get my planner and papers in order. (I also  took my bestie to see Hidden Figures—so worth it— and, before getting snowed in, went to see my mom.) My planner currently has my class schedule and other obligations written in, and I’ve got a color coding system in place already. (I’m using the Staedtler Triplus Fineliner Pens, which come in a handy carrying case, and I just keep them with my planner.) As the term goes along, I’ll use the focus boxes above each day to highlight the most important tasks, as well as take notes in the blank area below and prioritize life tasks in the to-do section.

I love the Passion Planner, because this sort of thing is built in. You set goals, set deadlines, and then there are places to slot those goals and their deadlines in where they need to go. Each week also includes a little gratitude box, inspirational quote, and mindfulness exercise, which feels really nice. I opted this year for the half-size planner, and I’m not sure I like it as much—I might need the room that the bigger planner has! But I’ve got ultra fine-point pens, so it may work out alright. The upside of the small size is that I can throw this into my purse on days I’m not taking a backpack out with me.

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The health and habit tracker, printed and pasted into my notebook

Now for the notebook! My bullet journal—bujo for short— is in a Leuchtturm1917 dot grid notebook in the A5 size. (If you don’t have any idea what a bullet journal is, here’s a link to the website that explains it all.) I use the multi-color Fineliners to make fun and creative spreads, but I also often default to a plain black pen, and that’s usually a Pilot G2 ultra fine point. I also cut and paste things in, when hand drawing something would be too tedious.

I created this habit and symptom tracker in excel, and I check it periodically throughout the day to record various things. The categories listed are either symptoms, healthy or unhealthy habits, or goals. It’s a good record for my own reference when talking with doctors and counsellors, and having it helps me be more mindful of my emotions and body. The spreadsheet includes separate sheets for each month of the year, with an extra sheet included for February during leap years. Click the link above or the picture to go to dropbox and download the file for your own use—feel free to edit it to suit your own needs!

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A 20 month spread for getting to grad school in 2018

This spread is the 20 month eagle eye view of the work I need to do to get from the middle of senior year (right now) to attending a graduate history program in autumn of 2018. It’s sparse now, but I’ll fill it in more in the next 6 months.

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A list of snack and meal ideas for when I don’t know what to eat

One of my worst habits is forgetting to eat when I’m feeling stressed out. Add that to all of my food sensitivities and allergies, and I can fall really easily into the “there’s nothing to eat in the house!” trap, and go out for food or buy carb-heavy snacks at the corner store. I made a spread with easy gluten-free and diabetic friendly snack and meal ideas that I can check out when I’m feeling overwhelmed or stressed out. Having lists with these kinds of foods will help me make better choices for myself and keep my body well.

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My Daily Log—the to-do list that keeps me on track day-to-day

On a day-to-day basis, the Daily Log of the bujo system helps keep me on track. Using this, I can track everything I need to do in a day in one place. It’s flexible enough for any purpose—from writing down reminders to noting down scheduled activities to brain-dumping whatever’s bugging me, I use the daily log for so many things. I have a key set up in the first page of the journal—stars indicate tasks to prioritize, for instance—and make the next day’s list shortly before bed time. The planner helps me keep track of future stuff, but the daily log is what I use the most, checking in with it several times a day. This thing runs my life, and is partially responsible for any productivity I achieve. It feels really satisfying to check stuff off my list as it gets done.

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A tool I use for prioritizing tasks on a deadline

This one is a prioritization tool, for when I can’t seem to pick out what to work on first. When I’m struggling to keep on track, I use this one: the Eisenhower Decision Matrix, attributed to President Eisenhower. Every task I need to get done is measured on two factors, importance and urgency, and then placed accordingly into one of four quadrants, labelled “Urgent & Important,” “Urgent But Not Important,” “Important But Not Urgent,” and “Not Important & Not Urgent” respectively. I used to use an app on my laptop for this, but now I generally prefer to do it in my notebook, since I don’t always have my laptop with me. I use this one most often on the weekends, when my time is less regimented by external structures (no classes), but I still need to make sure certain things get done. Chores, fun tasks, boring tasks—if it needs to get done, I think about how each of the factors applies to it, and write it in the chart wherever it belongs. This can really help combat overwhelm and give me a place to start, which I sometimes need help with because of my ADHD.

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A two page spread to doodle around some of my favorite lines from the Hamilton musical

And sometimes I just need to scribble. The plus side of a notebook is that I always have the option to just draw some doodles, practice my hand-lettering, and make a fun and inspiring message for myself. I can write poetry, journal, vent—whatever I want. It’s my notebook, and it becomes a record of my life as I fill it up with notes, lists, pictures, and so on. This quote is to remind me that I’m where I need to be, and that taking longer to complete my degree doesn’t mean anything about my worth. This June will be the 10th anniversary of my high school graduation, and I’m battling self esteem issues over how long it’s taking to get my bachelor’s degree. This quote says taking lomger is okay, that taking longer means I’m more ready and mature and experienced than I might otberwise be, and that may help me succeed in grad school.

So, there you have it: my BuJo + Planner system for staying on top of the things I need to do to succeed at school, managing my physical and mental health, and planning my future. The follow-up post next month will cover the schoolwork-specific binder system I started using last January and talk about how it’s helped me stay on top of things and pull in all A’s and B’s in the last 3 terms. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about how you stay organized—leave a comment and let me know!

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