Habit Spotlight: Reading

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I’ve been in a huge reading mood lately. There’s something special about getting lost in another world, another story. Bookstores are, by far, some of my favorite places to visit whenever possible (besides coffee shops, of course). There’s something magical about stepping into a bookstore and being overwhelmed by the endless possibilities and stacks upon stacks of books.

Growing up, I was definitely a reader. I preferred curling up with a good book instead of watching TV. My parents are also huge readers so being surrounded by books was not out of the ordinary for our family. We frequently stopped at the library and I joined summer reading competitions more than once.

In high school, I opted for Honors English, in which one of the requirements was to read 50 books in an academic year. Although this might sound overwhelming to some, I never shied away from a challenge.

Then college came. The habit of reading for fun was only practiced during the summer months. During the academic months, I hardly had time to pick up a book for PLEASURE. The books I read were related to my courses, and although some were interesting, most were text-books.

I’d sometimes study in bookstores because I loved the atmosphere and being surrounded by books. I’d see all of new releases and couldn’t wait until summer to read for fun again. At this time, audiobooks weren’t as popular as they are now so listening to a book wasn’t something I even thought of.

Fast forward a few years and the love for reading is still there. This year my goal is to read at least 35 books (not Honors English level, but I’ll get there!). I use Goodreads to track my progress and books I want to read. The hardest part was getting back into the habit of reading daily, and when I did sit down to read, the constant distraction of my phone seemed to always be hindering my progress.

Here are a few ways I’ve made reading part of my everyday routine so I crawl closer and closer to my goals:

  1. Set a timer. It doesn’t have to be a long period of time (even 10 minutes will do), but this helps me stay focused on reading when I know I’m being timed. It also eliminates the urge to check my phone every 5 minutes.
  2. Schedule the time. Sounds obvious, but finding the time to focus on reading is half the battle. Select time in your schedule when you’re the most likely to read, and plan on it. Don’t say you’ll “find time,” but actually schedule the time into your routine so it has a timeframe.
  3. Listen to audiobooks. Some say audiobooks don’t count toward your reading goal, but I’m in the camp that they definitely do. Yes, you can easily get distracted listening to a book while doing other things, so learning when to listen helps with that. For example, I only listen to audiobooks when doing something mindless that doesn’t require my full attention (i.e., doing my makeup, folding clothes, walking on the treadmill).
  4. Use Goodreads. Goodreads has honestly motivated me to stay on track on reading because I can update my progress and visually see how much of the book left to go. I also set my yearly reading goal on there so I can see how close I am to reaching it.
  5. Quit a book if it’s not for you. There are SO many awesome books out there that if you start a book and it doesn’t thrill you, quit it. Seriously. Don’t waste your time dragging through a book when there is a plethora of choices out there waiting for you!
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My First Month of Bullet Journaling

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One of my goals for 2019 was to start bullet journaling. I received a bullet journal and supplies for Christmas so come January 1, I was more than ready to get going.

I knew going into it that I was not your typical artsy person. I can’t doodle to save my life and staring at a book filled with blank pages was a bit intimidating at first. Thankfully, Pinterest is a thing and I quickly got inspired when I found a bunch of minimalist spreads that I could easily replicate.

Before creating my first monthly spread, I knew I wanted to create a few yearly spreads at the front of the bullet journal: Year At A Glance, Future Log, Movies to See in 2019, 2019 Bookshelf, and Blog Post Ideas…just to name a few. These are yearly spreads because they’re not tied down to a specific month so I can easily update them whenever I want.

When it came to setting up my January spreads, I kept it simple. I didn’t go *too* crazy since I wanted to focus on the actual habit/act of bullet journaling. By creating just a few spreads, I was able to see what I did and didn’t like so I could adjust accordingly for February. Here is the recap.

Things I Liked.

Habit Tracker. One of the things that attracted me to bullet journaling was the Habit Tracker. If you know me, this doesn’t surprise you. I’m obsessed with list, habits, and tracking literally anything I can. My January Habit Tracker was the first spread I created for the month and it ended up being one of my favorite spreads (shocker, I know).

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Netflix Tracker. I try not to watch tons of shows on my own, but Luke got me into Chuck and we’re both hooked. To be honest, I realized AFTER I designed the header for this spread that Chuck is actually on Amazon Prime 😐 …but I kept it anyways. Shh…don’t tell 😉

Highlight Of The Day. Another spread I loved was Highlight Of The Day, a one-page spread where at the end of the day, I wrote a quick sentence about the best thing that day. Some days were pretty nonchalant, but it was a fun challenge to find the little joy in each day.

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Things I’m Changing.

Weekly To-Do Lists. Ironically, the one thing I’m changing for February is how I did my weekly to-do lists. I still have my Bloom Planners’ Vision Planner and I track a lot of my daily to-dos in there. Halfway through January, I tried creating a weekly to-do list in my bullet journal but I wasn’t a fan of how it turned out. I think switching from a horizontal layout to a vertical one will do the trick.

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More spreads. Now that I’ve mastered a few of the spreads, I’m adding a few more in February. I like the idea of a “Monthly Goals” spread and a “When Did I Last___” spread to keep track of when I last did something (like get my car’s oil changed, clean out the fridge, etc).

Here’s to Month 2 of Bullet Journaling!