Why starting a bullet journal can be key to reaching your goals

How starting a bullet journal can get you closer to your goalsStarting a bullet journal was one of the best things I did last year to optimize my morning routine. Since then I have done my daily writing pretty much every day and I am not planning to stop. You might have seen bullet journal ideas on Pinterest or Instagram. And you might have gotten the impression that this is only for artsy people. But let me tell you, the basic idea and the most important part of it has nothing to do with creating fancy weekly spreads. Nor do you need Washi tape or colorful stickers.

Disclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

What is a bullet journal

So let’s start at the beginning and summarize quickly what a bullet journal is. As the name implies, it is a form of journal. With this type of journaling, you don’t write out all your thoughts in a fluent text. Instead, you only write down short notes. And this is where the “bullets” come in. The “bullet” part of the name comes from the very clever system of keys that are used.

The bullet journal key logic

The bullets you will be writing down can be divided into three categories: tasks, events and notes. To make it easy to distinguish between those categories, the symbol or “key” in front of it will look differently. Let’s go through those quickly!

Tasks

As we know all too well, tasks can be in various stages on our to-do list. Either we just write them down and they are waiting for us to take care of them. Or we postpone them. (Bullet journaling calls postponing “migrating”.) Sometimes we have already scheduled when to do them. And in the best case, the task is completed.

In bullet journal key tasks can look like this:

Bullet Journal Key for tasks, super important for starting a bullet journalEvents

Events are things you have already planned in your calendar. You write events down like this:

Event Key in Bullet JournalBasically you are just using an “empty” bullet, or an “o”.

Notes

Notes can be anything that you want to write down, that doesn’t fit in the other categories. Ideas, thoughts, learnings…  The bullet journal key for them looks like this:

Bullet Journal key for NotesAnd this is pretty much the most important knowledge you need for starting a bullet journal. For more detailed information you can always check out bulletjournal.com.

Why you should be starting a bullet journal

Going through these instructions above, you might be wondering why this is such a big deal. After all, it looks like just a fancy way to take notes. Honestly, you are right about this. It is simply taking notes. But take a moment and think about the following: How often do you take notes usually? And where do they end up? How great would it be to have all of your notes, to-dos and planned events in one place? Pretty great, I can tell you!

Still, the organizing part is not the best part of a bullet journal. At least in my opinion. What makes this such an integral part of my day is something else. It is the fact, that writing down my goals for the day makes me so much more likely to actually DO the stuff! While you might not take my word for granted, this is a proven fact. Just googling “writing down your goals” will provide you with a plethora of credible sources. All stating how writing down your goals is THE thing to do. Unless you don’t really want to achieve them, that is. In my opinion, this is the biggest selling point for actually starting a bullet journal.

What to do for starting a bullet journal

In my opinion, you don’t need a huge amount of supplies for starting your very first bullet journal. You will need to pick a notebook that fits your needs. A pen. (And you really don’t need a full collection of bullet journal pens to start!) And then I would very much recommend to watch this video made by the Bullet journal creator.

The best bullet journal notebook

So, which notebook to pick for your bullet journal? Many people will say that the Leuchtturm 1917* is the best bullet journal notebook. I think, the most important reason for that is the fact that Leuchtturm offers dotted lines. That gives you a lot of freedom in designing your pages and using different layouts.

And since bullet journaling has been around for quite a while and has convinced millions of people of its effectiveness, by now there are also myriads of notebook variations available.

While I see the appeal in being able to draw your own layouts and boxes, it is not necessary to start your own bullet journal. In fact, I am still using a simple black moleskine notebook*. It’s ruled, so layouts tend to look a little less cool.

A weekly spread in my bullet journalBut then again, most of the times I don’t even make a layout. Instead, I really just use the logging technique described above. And it keeps me on track!

Integrating Bullet Journaling into your day

In the morning, you can just sit down for 5 minutes, journal your tasks, events and thoughts for the day. And in the evening, you can go through them again. Checking them off, migrating and scheduling. The more you do it, the more you will become aware of what you are really doing in one day. And after one or two weeks, you will be able to read through that and see, if it aligns with your goals.


Thank you for reading my thoughts on starting a bullet journal. If you’d like, let me know about your experiences: Have you tried bullet journaling yet? If no, why not? And if yes, which benefits did you see?

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

Memrise review: How I learned 2000 romanian words in 1 month for free

I am in reviewing mode this week, so today you can read my Memrise review. And how it enabled me to learn 2000 romanian words in one month, spending only 5 to 10 minutes daily and without paying one cent.  But let’s start at the beginning!

Memrise review: How to learn efficiently

Memrise review: What is Memrise?

Memrise is an online learning platform. You can either learn by using their website or by installing their app. As of today, they support Android and iOS. They use a freemium model, meaning you can use them for free or decide to buy a membership opening a few more options for you. As a paying member, you can see more statistics about your learning behavior, for example.

Like other online learning offers, they have a wide variety of courses to pick from. The topics range from languages over history and geography to professional and career. As I haven’t really used anything but the language courses, my Memrise review will focus on those.

Memrise review: What is special about Memrise?

So far, it doesn’t sound mindblowing, right? I know. And to be honest, I would’ve probably stayed with Duolingo if not for two very important factors.

1. Course variety:

Memrise enables users to make their own courses. This can be a disadvantage, as obviously the quality control is not the same as with a curated language course. For me, it was a huge advantage though, because I had decided to learn Romanian. And guess what, at that time that course had been in development on Duolingo for YEARS. The estimated release date was another few years down the line. So clearly I needed an alternative. And there was Memrise, with hundreds of Romanian courses to pick from.

2. learning efficiency through science

(Yes, I mean efficiency, not effectiveness. Even though it’s also effective, of course. Efficiency = doing something without wasting anything, like TIME. Effectiveness = good at achieving results. Rambling over.)

A lightbulb, symbolizing the science behind the Memrise learning algorithmMemrise prides itself in having a very clever learning algorithm. Do you remember learning for a test in school? Repeating everything a hundred times, till you knew everything? Well, that can be effective. It is not efficient. And Memrise has a really cool solution for that. When you start learning vocabulary, the algorithm will remember how well you do with every single word. And depending on that it will make you repeat that word sooner or later. This means not wasting any time on words that you already know very well and instead focusing on the ones where you’re still struggling.

Naturally, this was a HUGE selling point for me. I love learning and I love efficiency. This way you can combine both!

Memrise review: Learning 2000 words in 1 month

Coming back to the title of this post. Yes, I really learned 2000 romanian words in one month. And it only took me 5 to 10 minutes a day. Although I have to admit, that I played more with the app on weekends. Because it was so much fun! But the goal of 2000 words would have been reached without that, too.

In case you are wondering, 2000 words in any language means to have a pretty good basic vocabulary. So if you have been planning on getting to know a new language for a while now, listen up. (Read up? Does that work?) I will tell you how exactly I made it happen and how you can, too!

Steps to Memrise success

1. Install the app. While learning on the website works totally fine, I just don’t carry my laptop around all the time. And for making it easy for yourself to keep learning, you just want to have the material with you.

Learning with the Memrise app on the go2. I made “reviewing” part of my morning routine. Just the words that Memrise showed me as “ready to review”. That doesn’t have to mean taking extra time out of your morning for learning. Use idle time you already have. Waiting for public transport? Time to review vocabulary. Bathroom time? Learn a few words! (Come on, you have your phone with you anyways, admit it!)

3. Make sure to get a balanced mix of reviewing and learning new words. If you haven’t used Memrise yet, this might sound confusing. What I mean is this: the app will prompt you to review words regularly. Depending on your setting you will get a notification. For learning new words, that doesn’t directly happen. You will need to open the app without reminder and learn a little. At least if you want to achieve a certain number of words.

4. Keep at it for a month. As usual, consistency is important. As a result it will be easier to remember the words. Plus, you know what they say about habits. Doesn’t take an active effort to keep them. Still, don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day. Unless you miss a whole week, your goal will still be absolutely doable.

Memrise review: Conclusion

And that’s it! You are well on your way to learning a new language! By now, I also refreshed my French with Memrise and even tried Arabic. (Unfortunately, I wasn’t very consistent with that one. The different characters threw me off my game.) Consequently I will keep recommending Memrise to everyone who asks me about language learning. Compared to the approaches and tools I have used before, this has been by far the easiest and most enjoyable way to learn new vocabulary. And I haven’t even told you abut the Mems! I guess you will have to find out all by yourself…

So tell me, are you gonna try it?

How I learned 2000 Words in a new language in 1 monthlearn a new language with Memrise

My Morning Routine or How I live my life as if it’s on purpose

My morning routine has been the most powerful tool for me to go from wishful thinking to actually start making changes in my life. I have already written about how creating a morning routine will bring you closer to the life you want. Today I don’t want to go so much into the why. Rather I want to share my personal morning routine and how I developed it.

My Morning RoutineDisclosure: Some of the links below are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

My morning routine: How it all started

At some point last year I was fed up with my life situation. I did not like going to work. I felt stuck personally and professionally. Why did nothing ever change? I took three (!) weeks off from work to have some time to myself and figure out where this huge dissatisfaction was coming from. Or better even, how to do something about it. I had been interested in personal development before, but this was the moment I really dove in. Listening to podcasts, reading blogs, watching countless TedTalks on Youtube. Soon enough I noticed a recurring topic. Something that apparently all successful people had and every self-developing person was getting into. You guessed it, everyone stressed the importance of a morning routine.

My morning routine: Borrowing from the Magic Morning

Once you start reading about morning routines, you will inevitably come across Hal Elrods book “The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed to Transform Your Life (Before 8AM)*“. Don’t worry, the essential idea is not as bulky as the title of the book.

Hal Elrods “Miracle Morning”

Hal suggests five main ingredients for a truly success inducing morning routine. He uses the acronym (life) SAVERS, which makes them easy to remember. The letters stand for:

S ilence: Get some quiet time in. No electronic devices, no TV, no chit-chat. Just you.

A ffirmations: Enough has been written about the transformative power of affirmations. Whatever your goals and dreams are, have some affirmations for them ready.

V isualization: Now it’s time to visualize what it’s gonna look and feel like to have achieved your goals. There is this video of Tony Robbins on Youtube, where he talks about the power of visualization. (If it’s too long for you to watch, skip to 10:29 where he shows the two guys how instant the effect can be.)

E xercise: Move your body in some way. Stretch a little, do some cardio or even go for a full blown workout session. But do some kind of exercise for your physical body. Weak body, weak mind.

R eading: Read at least a few pages of a book. This is not referring to entertainment literature though. Hal talks about reading books that teach you something. Self-development books, for example. Something to educate yourself.

S cribing: Write down your thoughts, your to dos or whatever comes to mind. Basically journaling in some form.

Building my own morning routine around it

As I could clearly see the advantages of each of these six habits and as they gave me a good starting point, I built my morning routine along those letters. Luckily it is not as hard as it might sound. And does not need to take 2 hours. Actually, it usually only takes me half an hour most mornings. One hour if I have time and enjoy the process. 15 minutes if I am short on time and skip some steps.

Meditating

Usually I wake up with my alarm and simply sit up in bed for a few minutes of meditation. Nothing complex, just following my breath while slowly waking up. If I feel motivated, I set a 10 minute timer. Otherwise I just do the Meditating to learn how to deal with uncertainty and as part of my morning routineexercise as the whim takes me. On those days when I feel really uninspired or have a bad case of monkey mindedness, I resort to videos of “The Honest Guys”. They are awesome!

(If you want to incorporate Meditation into your daily life while also becoming more resilient read my article about learning how to deal with uncertainty. In it I review a program that helped me so much doing this. It’s free and does not take any crazy commitment from your side.)

Looking forward to something

Another short thing I do before going any further is to find something I look forward to that day. It can be something small and insignificant like my morning porridge. Or it can be something big like an important, possibly life-changing appointment. However, I definitely find something to look forward to every single day before getting out of bed.

Affirmations

Afterwards I open my eyes and turn on the light. Depending on where I am in my cycle, I might opt for doing some affirmations here. Sometimes I skip it. When I do it, it takes just a couple of minutes.

Deciding for or against affirmations cycle related might sound weird to you. But if you are female with a cycle that actually might make a lot of sense for you, too. For further information let me refer you to the book “The optimized woman*“. I am planning on writing a more in depth review about it soon.

Visualizing

The visualization exercise happens sometimes, but I am not very consistent with it, to be honest. Definitely room for improvement there, as I can tell a huge difference in my mood when I do it. Honestly, it is worth doing it just for that. Putting yourself mentally in the situation where everything is perfect, you reached your goals, feeling what it feels like… It is like a mini vacation and huge mood booster. I am also doing visualizations with some physical goals. Difficult Yoga poses, to be specific. Simply out of curiosity, if this will get me closer to the poses without actually physically practicing them. I just like experiments.

Exercising

Happens pretty much every day. I can already hear your objections. “Not enough time in the morning. I already get up super early. Don’t want to go to the gym before work.” Relax. Sometimes my exercise is just a few gentle Yoga stretches in bed. Sometimes I do a real Yoga session on the mat. Most of the times I just go on my beloved stationary bike for ten minutes. (My  bike looks similar to this* one, just not as fancy. Seems like mine is not on Amazon anymore.) Doing this wakes me up and helps me get into the shower, as even just ten short minutes on the bike can get me sweating. Because of the integrated mini-desk, I can even combine my exercise with reading, learning vocabulary on Memrise or doing some brain training with the Elevate app.

Reading

Ah, this has to be my favorite ritual of my morning routine. Most of the times I already start doing it while still on the stationary bike. (So it mostly doesn’t even add to the time for the morning routine.) This happens reliably, every day. Most of the days I will be reading some self-development book  on my kindle. Sometimes I swap it out with the “Blink of the day” from Blinkist, if that happens to be a topic interesting to me. Even less often I might be reading a blog article about a topic keeping me busy at the moment.

Scribing

This one is usually quite quick, too. As I haven’t been much of a journal keeper before, I adopted bullet journaling around the time when I also built my morning Bullet journaling as part of my morning routineroutine. If there was a really inspiring or note-worthy thought during the reading session, I will write it down now. Otherwise this is mostly making a short to-do-list for the current day. Additionally I write down whatever I am looking forward to that day  and one thing I am grateful for. This helps me focus on the things I want to achieve, while approaching them with a positive mindset.

 

Obviously showering and  a nice and healthy breakfast are also part of my morning. However I don’t really count them as part of “my morning routine”. Should I? How do you do it? Do you have a morning routine? And has it helped you achieve your goals?

My morning routine, morning routine women, morning routine bullet journal

*These links are so-called provision links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, I can earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.

How creating a morning routine will bring you closer to the life you want

Creating a morning routine sounds like such a sophisticated undertaking. You probably already have a lot on your plate and might feel like you do not want to add yet another thing to do to that never ending list. However, before we dive into why creating a morning routine will get you closer to the life you want, consider this one thing.

Snoozing the alarm in the morning

Everyone has a morning routine

You already have a morning routine. A routine, after all, is only “a sequence of actions regularly followed”. If you get up every morning and brush your teeth, that is a morning routine. Even if you never get up in the morning and always sleep till noon, that is a routine.  A sleeping one, but still a routine. So why is it so important what you do in the morning? I am glad you asked.

Creating a morning routine sets the tone for the day

Do you know the expression “Waking up on the wrong side of the bed”? How you wake up and spend the first minutes of your day has a huge impact on the rest of it. If your morning routine consists of growling at your alarm and slowly doing the bare necessities, your brain learns that starting the day is a bad thing. However, everyone wants to be happy and enjoy their time, right? So beginning your day with activities that you know are good for you and put you in a good mood will positively impact your life quality immensely. By consciously choosing what to put in your mind right at the beginning of the day, you can influence your mood and be happier and more focused on the things that matter to you.

Creating a morning routine with beneficial habits like reading

Creating a morning routine brings beneficial habits into your life

Everyone has areas in their life where they want to improve in some way. Often times those plans for self-improvement go on the back-burner, because we feel like we have to do a huge effort to achieve them. What we forget in those situations is, that improvement does not happen in one single step. Instead, it comes from the things we do every day – our habits.

Imagine you want to drop some weight. (I am using a bit of a cliché here, but stay with me for a moment.) How are you gonna achieve that goal reliably? By doing a one time HUGE effort and going for a whole week without anything else but carrots? Or by repeatedly integrating small, permanent changes to your diet and activity level? It’s obvious, isn’t it?

Let me tell you, the same is true for any goal you want to achieve. You have been wanting to learn a new language for ages? Get an app like Memrise and invest only 5 minutes daily into that goal. It can be done while brushing. Or on your way to work.

By integrating those habits into your morning routine, you can make sure those things really happen. We all know how hard it is to make ourselves do something useful after a long day of work. Life happens – so make sure you are setup in the best way possible.

Woman feeling powerful after creating a morning routine including exercises

Creating a morning routine gives you power over your life

By consciously setting the tone for your day and picking the habits you want to make part of your daily life, you are taking control over your life. Creating a morning routine means deciding what you are working towards. And what you you want to make part of your life. Like Will Durant famously said “We are, what we repeatedly do”. Do you want to be grumpy and controlled by outer circumstances? Or do you want to take control and decide which direction your life should go in?

I learned the difference myself when I actually started having a morning routine. For years I had wanted to start my own business. I had tons of ideas in my notebooks, heaps of dreams and wishes. But life always got in the way, the time was never right. I seemed to never get closer to any of that. All of this, because I made the mistake of waiting for “that one big change”. I didn’t need it. What I needed was to figure out what I actually want to do and how I want to live. And then break it down into the small steps and habits that would bring me closer to that life. One day at a time.

Now, a few months later, I am healthier, happier and closer to achieving my dreams than I have ever been. And I know that every day brings me another step closer. Without any crazy efforts, because the morning routine has become a habit. And we all know that habits just happen by themselves, no more effort required. This works just as well for the good habits as well as the bad ones. So make sure to decide for yourself: Which habits do you want to cultivate?

How Creating a Morning Routine will get you closer to the life you want