Your Free Time Companion

In my last post I talked about the difference between free time and play time. Like me, you might discover that what you thought was “free time” was in fact very stimulated play time.

It’s easy to fall into the default mode of streaming shows, checking social media, or playing video games. But when you make a commitment to give yourself space with its simple removal, it’s typically not enough.

You don’t want your time to be filled by nonsense, so you have to give it purpose.

Filling The Space

As an example, I’ve been working hard on trying to reduce my spending in coffee shops. Sure, I’d be successful for a little while, but I’d get sucked back into spending my money at these cafes.

My intent was originally try to save the money, but I do that already. 10% of every dollar I earn goes into my savings account. In my mind that money was available and my default place to spend it was at cafes.

It then occurred to me to try something different. I have a friend who is a massage therapist, and I vowed that when I have more income that I’d start using her services. Dream as I might that income never really seemed to make itself available.

It then hit me that for the money I spend in cafes I can see her almost twice a month.

Now when I’m tempted to buy a drink all I just think “nope, I’ve committed myself to massages instead”.

This has a strong social effect too. I now know that buying those drinks would have a negative impact on my ability to afford my friends services. With a well defined negative consequence I’m far less likely to buy a drink.

Filling Play Time With Free Time

Same as with the cafe drinks, you need to define your over-indulgent play time and replace it. Simply trying to remove it isn’t enough.

For instance if you spend a great deal of time watching shows it’s vital that the time is replaced. If kept open you’ll end up just watching shows again.

This is where a journal can be your best friend.

When you have free time your journal can for a very small investment of time help give you the mental space needed to find a viable replacement for the activity you’re trying to avoid. The alternative is that you will fall back on exactly what you’re trying to avoid.

A think on paper titled “What can I do today that would be really meaningful to me” would take you miles ahead. It can be a very powerful thing to do when you find your time free.

Once you define what you can do today ( Yes, TODAY, not tomorrow, not next week ) that would be really meaningful to you, go ahead and do it!

Keeping it in context of today keeps it actionable. Keep this up and you might even establish new, more meaningful habits for yourself.

Keep Things Balanced

It’s important to note that you need to keep yourself balanced. Play time is just as vital as free time, but can easily overpower free time.

Your body has gotten used to your habits of checking social media, watching shows and such, this is fine. What isn’t fine though is being so caught up in these things you can’t invest in yourself. You need to be able to define, regularly, what really means something to you.

So as a reward for giving yourself free time, don’t be afraid to give yourself some play time. But only after give yourself the attention you deserve.

That does it for today’s post! If you have any thoughts or ideas about this subject be sure to leave a comment. This stuff is really exciting and has brought a lot of value to me, and I hope it brings you value too.

Let me know!

-Devon

Pay Attention To Yourself

Today, I learned how important it is to pay attention to yourself. I’m currently re-reading Essentialism by Greg McKeown and I left off on a pretty amazing chapter this morning. I’m going to recount the story, but bear in mind I’m paraphrasing based on my memory. To get it in more detail definitely check out this book.

Greg dives into what he calls “The Asset”, and shares the story of a high performing executive who suddenly found that sleep did not come easy to him.

He would wake up in the middle of the night, like he was having an anxiety attack but without the anxiety. His body would feel the effects and he would just about fall apart.

After several emergency room visits he finally sat down and had a serious discussion with his doctor. His doctor recommended removing all stressful things from his life and take at least a year off. The alternative was he would be taking medication for the rest of his life.

The executive said he would take a few months off, and be back at it.

This did not happen however, because that first month he slept 14 hours a day and most days could barely get out of bed.

In the second month he admitted this would take a longer time than he thought.

A few years later this executive was doing a talk and was ask to recount his memory of this incident. He shared the value of “Protecting The Asset”.

In all that we do our great assets aren’t what we own, know, or even what we are capable of. Our greatest asset is ourselves.

Benjamin Franklin said it best, “An investment of knowledge always pays the best interest”. What’s foundational below even the knowledge is your body and your health. Both mental and physical.

Your Journal Focuses You Onto You

It’s great to think of journaling as exercise for the mind, and a habit that can give you space to focus on yourself for a moment.

In designing your spreads and working on yourself you’re able to make sure that the foundations of your life is being taken care of.

I’ve recently started limiting what my computer and phone are capable of. Such as limiting colors to black and white, blocking youtube, and tearing out unnecessary apps and programs.

In striving to gather too much, we lose space to focus on ourselves. This very blog post is an act of focusing on what is important to me instead of doing what youtube or a video game would want of me.

In Closing

I’m building GoJournaling to be something that is really meaningful and helpful to people. At the core, focusing on yourself is the goal of GoJournaling.

I hope you can take the time to really reflect and decide what it is you need to be happy.

Thank you for reading, take care!

-Devon

Should You Make A Mistake In Your Journal?

When you make a mistake it can be really frustrating.

Having something you really care about, that you use over a long period of time, get screwed up.

It can be as simple as you smearing some ink, or even accidentally ripping your journals binding.

Especially when you start getting artistic with it, and that pretty spread is all of the sudden marred by a misplaced speck of ink.

You know what a really fun concept is though?

Failing Faster

This is a concept typically used in project development, especially in the realm of software and games. The idea is very simple:

The further along in development a mistake is made, the more expensive it is to fix it.

The key take away here is understanding that creatives and project developers aim to make mistakes as soon as possible.

In short, they become good at making mistakes. But even more important, they become really good at learning from them.

I have a friend who really enjoys watercolor, reason being that she sees mistakes in a different light than most people I know.

She says that watercolor is a very difficult medium because it’s very unforgiving, that when you make a mistake there is no covering it up, all you can do is work with it.

She compares it to life, and sees life as a single canvas you are always painting on, but can never swap out or replace.

We’re going to make mistakes anyways, how can we make them our friends?

Making Mistakes Eloquently

Making mistakes well is a learned skill, and one that can be safely practiced in a journal.

Let’s take a moment however to define what a mistake is, which I’ll simply pull from Google.

mis·take/məˈstāk/noun

  1. an action or judgment that is misguided or wrong. “coming here was a mistake”

This definition is direct enough, but we can do better!

This definition implies that if something is “misguided”, then something can be “guided”. But how do you guide something?

It’s simple, you have to have something to guide yourself to.

You have to become absolutely clear about the result you’re looking for. Then you decide whether the action is helping you achieve that result… or not.

If you’re not clear about what your result is everything is a mistake. You don’t have any guidelines or criteria to check your actions against!

If you haven’t already, dedicate a page in your journal to writing about what you want from it.

Once decided, every day you can evaluate your actions in your journal and decide whether or not what you’ve done correlates with what you want from it.

You can track this using a daily prompt such as what I learned today.

So next time you mar your journal, make sure to ask yourself this simple question: Does this “mistake” really affect what I want to get out of my journal?

If not, you can rest easy knowing that you did not lose progress that day.

That does it for today’s post, if you haven’t already be sure to check out the prompt database for new and interesting prompts to check out.

Don’t let your mistakes hold you back, there’s a world of value you can bring not only in spite of, but because of those mistakes.

Take care!

-Devon

So, I hear your handwriting sucks…

As a young lad it was quite common for my teacher to write “focus on your handwriting” and other similar things on my assignments.

I was the worst though, it always felt like I couldn’t write the words fast enough! This resulted in some pretty sloppy handwriting.

However, in this one writing assignment, something magical happened. I don’t even remember the word, but I wrote the most perfect “o” I had ever seen.

That’s right, I was super stoked about a perfectly circular “o” that I had written down, perfectly on the line, perfectly sized. It was beautiful! After always being told that I could do better with my handwriting it felt like there was hope for me.

But being the video game loving kid I was I forgot about it as soon as I went home and played Zelda.

I still think back to it from time to time though, it’s that one time I was actually happy with my handwriting.

Fast forward a couple of years and these things called “computers” get introduced and suddenly handwriting doesn’t matter quite so much. I get into art, programming, anything I possibility could on the computer.

This may or may not have been partially motivated to avoid having to deal with my neanderthallic penmanship. On the computer I wasn’t crippled by this “handicap” I was told I had. It was common for me to have to redo assignments because of my handwriting.

When I started journaling years later, I fortunately learned that in your own journal penmanship really doesn’t matter. In fact, my penmanship has “improved” since I started journaling.

By “improved”, I mean from the outside it’s became marginally more readable.

But more importantly I grew to accept and even enjoy my unique penmanship.

Let’s think about this though, what a shame it is that we might avoid learning how to journal because we are afraid to look at our own writing!

When I first started journaling, it was a bold step for me. I felt I had to write so carefully to make sure it was perfect.

After some time though, I realised that even on days I was sloppy I was able to go back and read it. So instead I just focused putting down quality entries and responses to prompts.

While you could journal for better handwriting, it’s certainly not the best reason to journal. The goal of journaling should be to improve how you think, not how you write. Thinking precedes writing.

So be sloppy! No one is judging you but yourself ( don’t do that ) when you write in your journal. Let yourself write freely and be honest.

All that really matters is that you can read it.

Your handwriting is unique to you, and deserves expression! Own it, and over time it will come to support you.

Journaling Tips: Balancing Technology With Paper for Tasks

Balancing Technology

With all the information technology available these days the possibilities for how to organize your life has become endless. In that little screen called your phone there is an infinite canvas that can be organized into an infinite number of dimensions.

However, with infinite possibilities comes infinitely increased difficulty of choice.

You only have so much mental energy each day, and with each decision you deplete it little by little.

Therefor if your time is always spent in a space of infinite choice, it’s nearly impossible to focus and narrow down what’s truly important.

This is where the value of journaling comes in.

Striking That Balance

The fundamental issue is this: In Technology you have infinite canvas with the ability to do an infinite number of things, but your time and energy is not infinite. Given this, you need something to balance this, something that is finite in nature that can only hold so much.

This is the value of a journal.

Your journal represents what you’re focused on, what you’re doing at this time. Accomplishment comes when a task is focused on until completion, not when your focus is scattered among infinite tasks.

So where to strike that balance? What is the best approach?

To start, here is a summary of technology driven and journal driven task management and what their benefits are.

Technology Driven

Pros:

  • Infinite Canvas Size
  • Infinite ways to organize data
  • Great for long term planning and development

Cons:

  • The infinite possibility can get overwhelming

Journal Driven

Pros:

  • Directly writing in your journal builds a direct connection in your mind
  • Limited page space creates focus
  • Great for day to day work

Cons:

  • Long term planning can be difficult to handle well on paper

So the big question, which method is best? Why a combination of the two of course!

We live in an age where we have tools that our ancestors never even dreamed of, so it’s foolish to eliminate either when we can get them both working together.

I made the primary benefits of each in bold, so we can use both together in this way:

Do all your long term planning and task management in a technology system, then use your journal for the short term stuff so you can focus.

Think of it this way, you have a bookshelf full of your favorite books. Can you read all of your books at once?

You can read one, then another, and bounce around, but it’s impossible to read all of your books at the same time. It’s also a terrible way to read your books since you will get in a lot of reading but you’re unlikely to finish any of them.

At most, you will take a few books down and keep them on a stand next to your reading chair. When you sit down and read you then focus on whichever catches your fancy.

In this way, think of your technology system as your “library” of tasks that you want to get done. Your journal then represents your stand next to your chair with the books you’re currently reading.

An Example

As an example I’ll explain the system I’m using at the time of writing this article.

Using an app called Todoist, I’m able to log tasks as they come to mind, all I do is tap the Todoist widget on my home screen.

Todoist Example

I’m then able to log the task into Todoist, where it will sit until I’m ready to address it.

At the beginning of each week, I look over everything I did the previous week and move over anything that fell through the cracks using my Weekly Modules. Once I move all these tasks over I typically find that there is plenty of room to add more things that I can try to do that week.

So, I go to Todoist, and I look over my tasks which are organized into projects ( or not ) and I decide what I’m going to focus on that week by copying them over to my journal.

I then don’t look at my tasks in Todoist again until the following week, and focus on completing what I have written in my journal.

Rinse and repeat.

In this way I am systematically getting things done. Being overwhelmed doesn’t exist, because I know that having a lot only means that it will take more time for me to get to some things.

What works for you?

Now, that works for me. However you are a unique and special person, and will need a system as unique as you are. What I’ve explained is the basics however, and you can use it to compile a system that fits you.

That about does it! If you haven’t already signed up go do so to get your GoJournaling Companion and learn how to get the most out of the Modules on this site.

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