Saturday, January 07, 2017

Making Changes: Wk 1 - Organize.

So, I have decided that I need to make changes in my life. I have been disorganized and neglecting a good number of things because of this. I have sit down and reworked my mental health journal. I have a monthly page set up for tracking habits and symptoms. It is a large grid. Across the x-axis, I have the dates noted with a single initial for the date of the week (ie: M for Monday, T for Tuesday, etc.) and then on the line beneath it is the numeral for the date. On the y-axis, I have the things that I am keeping track of.

 If you look at this picture to the right, you will see how I have things oriented on the page. I highlighted Sundays because it was difficult for me to discern what day was what with out it. You may also note that at the head of the graph, I have a note stating what month it is for.

And yes, I know, I oriented everything differently than what most would expect. This, however works best for me.

If you look at this second image of the two pages above, you will see that I have a key written down. This helps me track what is going on and such. It is a re-working of the bullets suggested for most bullet journals.

I also have an affirmation for the month. The last space open on this two page layout notes what important dates are coming up during the month. This way I remember that I have appointments with my psychiatrist and such.

I also have weekly lay outs between the monthly ones. These pages are different from the typical bullet journal style pages. Most of the bullet journals that I have seen, the weekly/daily pages are set up for to-do lists and such. Mine in this journal are instead focused upon taking short notes about major details about the day. On the left hand page,I have my week noted down. The week is written down as a heading for the page. Each day then has a block assigned to it with the day of the week and the date (written in numerical month . date format). In a given day's block, I have any appointments for that day written down in colored ink. Then, the remainder of the block is used to note major details about symptoms, medications taken, and things like if I had a cold or was on my menses.

On the right hand page of the weekly lay out, I have a section to write down notes about what I am grateful for. These are literally one line of detail, such as chocolate flavored tea (which is AMAZING, I found it at Walmart.) or my kids doing their homework with out a major fight. Below this, I have six lined sections. They each have a date notation. They are where I get into a bit more detail about my symptoms. So, if I had a hard time sleeping one night due to nightmares, I would note that. If on another day I had flashbacks, I would note that down and the trigger - if I recognized what the trigger was. Below this is a section for me to write down notes about medication. Thus, if I had a migraine on Tuesday, January 3rd, I would write that down and that I had take Aleve for it. Or if I had to take some Ativan because I had a panic attack, I would note that. 

The final section is for my notes about appointments. I basically summarize what happened in my appointments that week. So, if I saw my psychiatrist, I would have a note about what changes were in medication or what we discussed. I would also note down when my next appointment is. I am probably going to be changing the format for the notes on the right hand page. I will likely be adding a line for the 7th day of the week in the symptom tracking section. So, that will probably change the size of the other two sections below it. As it stands right now, I think appointment notes will be losing two lines but with out any real problems coming from it.

I have been spending time over the last two weeks studying the whole bullet journal concept. I am in the process of applying it also for my home planning binder. I have my monthly calendar in there. After this, I had a check sheet for my daily chores. This was based off of what FLYLady had going on with her control journal concept. It sort of worked but I really needed something else. So, I have made weekly pages. 

Along the y-axis, I have the "To Do List" for the day, then I have a section for my calls, above this is a pair of blocks for my morning and afternoon time. On the x-axis, I divided everything up as equally as I could manage. As a result, I have eight columns. The columns 1-7 are for the seven days of the week. Column 8 has a section for notes. Then it has a section for noting what bills are due that week. This is where I would note what bill is due, the date, and amount. I would also have a checkbox to note if it got paid.

There are also two check boxes. One is for the list of stuff that Beloved is helping me be organized and do. We have discussed it and he has agreed to help keep me accountable for things like keeping track of my mental health stuff, getting exercise, and healthy eating (among a few other things but you get the idea). And because redundancy seems to help, I have a check box for if I completed everything on my mental health list. I think I'm going to be filling that in with tally marks.

On the opposite side of the page, things are in a similar layout physically. I just copied the boxes to the other side of the page. The x-axis the generally the same except for column eight. In the bottom two boxes, I have a space to note what my total spending on groceries was for the week and a note what that number means. The top row are my menu planning for breakfasts. The second row is my menu planning for lunches. The third row is my menu planning for dinners. The fourth row are my notes about where to locate recipes and what sort of snacks I am doing on a given day.

I have been doing this format for my weekly planning for two weeks now. It seems to be working better for me. It also helps me to stay on top of things like my grocery lists and such. On the side of the page that is for noting appointments and stuff, I did add a small couple of things. If a day has a bill due, aside from the note in the 'bills due' section, I also write a small $ on that date to remind me I need to pay something. On pay days, I write a small $ to help me keep track of that. My hope is that this will get me to where I am no longer having anxiety attacks over what bills need paid.

I am also presently in the process of figuring out what other sections I should add to my binder to have it make more sense. I am seriously thinking that I should have a section where I keep track of finances. I don't know if my printer still works. If so, I am going to print off a few excel sheets to keep a running ledger. I am also going to revise and update the page that notes what bills we have. Thus, I will have a page with a list of who we have to pay, why we pay them, what the billing address is, the customer service number, the account number with them, the date the bill is due, and (if it isn't a variable amount) how much is due each month. I am also going to make a thing to note what I pay via web-banking and what I am using checks for. The ultimate goal is to migrate everything over to web-banking and (if possible) set everything up for automatic payments.

For me to be successful with that, however, I need to have a very good grasp on just how exactly money flows around here. Fortunately, Beloved is handling the savings side of things. He also sits down with me regularly to help make sure that my math is good. I'm going to see if we can schedule a day every two weeks or so to just check in on the finances stuff. I get super anxious about money stuff. Because he handles a lot of billing stuff at work, he gets burned out and runs out of the energy to focus upon that at home. Which is why I handle most of it. But, we're working towards keeping everything as organized as we can. This helps me with my anxiety and it helps him with his concerns about things like car payments being on time and such.

I am slowly compiling a section in my home organizing binder that lists the recipes for everything I make for dinner. It is a combination of writing down recipes from Pinterest that have become favorites (The tatertot casserole is a HUGE hit with the kids and we have it every Tuesday, regardless of the season.) and writing down recipes that I have always made and never really put much thought into. The last few months of being sick and having Beloved run most of the household made it pretty clear to both of us that having stuff written down in such a manner that it was all really straight forward would make life easier in the event that it happened that he had to take over dinner stuff.

I also, unfortunately, need to update the section of the home organizing binder that talks about health stuff. I have had the joyfully enlightening experience that I have a fairly long list of medical allergies. So, I need to update that thing and write down all the medications I am allergic to, and my new food allergy. I am not pleased with this development, but I think it is something that I really should make sure is written down. My father in law suggested that I get a medical alert bracelet or something to note down my allergies. I'm thinking he's got a good idea but I don't know if it could fit the whole damn list. I need to figure out what the hell one is supposed to do when they suddenly have a list of allergies that are a 1/4 mile long.

And, on top of all of this stuff I am doing to try to make my home and such more organized, I am trying to figure out how to apply these organizational things to my writing. This is far slower going. I am researching several different methods of how to do so. I am setting my sights upon getting my work into order so that I can eventually start doing things like submitting stuff to magazines and what not. I am somewhat nervous, but I have told myself that this is the year I am going to sit down and take my work seriously. Part of my work is being a parent and keeping the household running. Part of my work is keeping myself healthy. And part of my work is building my writing career.

I have told myself that I am going to devote January to getting things set up and orderly. And then over the remainder of the first quarter of the year, I am going to make a concerted effort to keep myself on task and build the habits I need to be successful. Part of this is also going to require making sure that there is some flexibility built into it all because of the fact that I need to take into account the impact of my bipolar and related mental health problems. So, I am spending a whole month getting things set up and into place. If I take the time to do it right, I think I will be successful.

Also, I have a goal of posting in here once a week, at minimum. Three times a week was a little to ambitious. I have scaled it back to see if I can be more successful. In the meantime, I am going to focus on progress. Because Beloved is right when he says that progress is more important than having a pile of things I can point at and say 'I did THIS today.' It is kinder to treat myself as being successful when I get baby steps done rather than demanding I have a finished product in a stupidly short amount of time.

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