Five Things to Feel Better: Bullet Journals, Brain Trains, Sleep, & More!

It seems the common thread of this week’s roundup is cultivation. Tilling, planting, faith in the seasons.

Future-focused, but vaguely. Like me, like this quest.

a field to till the soil

Below, you’ll find few grand reasons and ways to value your creativity, the best bullet journal for productivity, and a bizarre pod to revitalize your weary brain.

Foundational things for your future so bright.

And it will be bright, it has to be.

It’s been an interesting week. I had a one-off paid job doing story creation, production, and assistant directing for an internal (employee-focused) Nike shoot.

The Portland-based director reads my blog and knows my past in showbiz, so we took leaps of faith on each other and collaborated.

It was a mini version of what I’ve been doing for over a year now: putting tons of work into something, submitting, crossing fingers that all turns out well. But also, getting paid either way.

Something about doing all that work and getting compensated has struck me, though. Can my life be easier than what I’ve made it? Should I keep writing, but make space for other sources of income?

The wheels are turning. I need to make more money … soon. So it’s fitting that this week’s roundup looks to the future with faith in the now. Let’s dig in!


Weekly Roundup: The Fuuuuture Edition

1. Writer Tool: Minimalism Art Grid Journal

2. “The Future of Human Work Is Imagination, Creativity, and Strategy”

3. Reading: Grain Brain

4. Quote: “Let me fall if I must fall, the one I become will catch me.” 

5. The Pause Pod 


1. Writer Tool: Minimalism Art Grid Journal

I am ever seeking the perfect journal.

I use the Bullet method (want Bullet Journal examples? Check out Buzzfeed’s 23 Bullet Journal Ideas), so thoughts/tasks/notes/accomplishments for my day, week, month, and year all go into one well-used 8.5 x 11 notebook.

This may sound like an organizational nightmare, but it works because there’s a journal key at the front—an index! I got my first taste of quality writing journals with a Moleskine, but they’re too expensive, so I found this one as a fabulous alternative.

Do go for quality. Just like with exercise, if you don’t enjoy your practice, you won’t come back to it.

I was apprehensive of the grid journal, but the dots hover lightly in the background and help me focus the way soft background instrumental music does. All the bullet journaling ideas like charts, lists, etc. are easier, too.

It just looks more tidy, which is not something I do well. Proof? Have a look at this page from my non-grid bullet journal:

bullet journal example

My weekly bullet journal format includes the days to-do list, things for which I’m grateful, daily goals, on-going tasks, and other random things.


2. “The Future of Human Work Is Imagination, Creativity, and Strategy” – Joseph Pistrui of @nextsensing

“The hardest activities to automate with currently available technologies are those that involve managing and developing people (9 percent automation potential) or that apply expertise to decision making, planning, or creative work (18 percent).” Mckinsey

It’s a scary time for people in the traditional job world. It’s a scary time in my job world too, particularly because I don’t make money.  

A world that involves money sounds nice, but I won’t do something that takes up hours of my short life unless I enjoy it, so I’m in a bit of a pickle.

Articles like Pistrui’s, however, help me feel like I’m at least on the right track. I’m feeding my creative side and working out how to design a boss life.

“The more technical the work, the more technology can accomplish it … On the other hand, work that requires a high degree of imagination, creative analysis, and strategic thinking is harder to automate … Computers are great at optimizing, but not so great at goal-setting. Or even using common sense.”

If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that a robot won’t be able to do what I do … But that’s mostly because I have no idea what I’m doing.


3. Reading: Grain Brain

Before deciding to be a writer, I didn’t believe I could use my brain to create valuable original work.

I believed that you were either the creative type or you weren’t, and if you hadn’t been that creative kid throughout childhood and into your career , then you couldn’t just arbitrarily start being that person.

I typecasted myself as a non-creative and became instead the studious business type. But when I lived in Los Angeles, I saw that the people pursuing their creative dreams were not essentially much different than me.

They’d simply decided on something and gone for it.

There was also no predicting who would be successful—there’s often a market for just about anything. Some truly ridiculous ideas get applauded for their creativity, so why should I hold back?

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten the creativity go-ahead (from myself), I’m paying more attention to my brain.

Why does it feel like I don’t have one on some days? Why is my focus laser-sharp on others?

Obviously sleep, exercise, and natural interest play parts, but diet is perhaps the biggest player in productivity. If our bodies are these whole systems, then fuel matters.

“The origin of brain disease is in many cases predominantly dietary. Although several factors play into the genesis and progression of brain disorders, to a large extent numerous neurological afflictions often reflect the mistake of consuming too many carbs and too few healthy fats.” – Grain Brain, David Perlmutter MD

I don’t have answers here, but Grain Brain is particularly interesting because David Perlmutter, the author, is …

  • A neurologist of nearly 40 years
  • On the Board of Directors and a Fellow of the American College of Nutrition
  • On the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology
  • On the Board of Holisitic Medicine

Those are some credentials, man. There’s beaucoups of cutting-edge research behind his assertion that grains are pretty damn terrible for our brains.

Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other diseases probably aren’t just “things that happen.”

I won’t get on a soapbox here, but hey, this is a blog about the creative quest, and that means taking care of your brain. Go check out Grain Brain  or listen to it on Audible (like I am!).


4. Quote: “Let me fall if I must fall, the one I become will catch me.” 

After reading Sandberg’s book Lean In, I wanted more of her brain. Does that woman eat grain? Probably, but still.

Option B is not adrenaline-pumping female empowerment, but it’s full of wisdom on how to deal with loss and feelings of inadequacy.

She included the quote above from the Baal Shem Tov and it resonated with me because pursuing one’s own path involves ridiculous amounts of uncertainty. Lack of recognition and validation sometimes cause the edges of my being to feel blurry.

I get lost thinking that I’ve made a terrible mistake, that this pursuit will amount to nothing, and that it was stupid of me to believe I could make it as a creative person.

And sometimes I get lost in a delusional belief that I can control outcomes. Nope. All I can do is work hard and try to keep the faith.

The moments of disbelief will happen—I just try to get through them. I have to trust in a future me that doesn’t quite exist yet.

That future me is depending on present me. I’m trying, lady!


5. Pause Pod

Studies show that power nap benefits outweigh coffee and naps longer than 20 minutes. Nonetheless, I have trouble allowing myself to take that time—the whole feels so right it’s gotta be wrong thing.

Which really is just a stupidity thing. Why are humans so stupid sometimes? That is, why am I so stupid sometimes?

But you know what, I just convinced myself to go snooze for 20 and it was great. I didn’t even fall asleep. Still great.

The “nap” part is irrelevant, just get to that weird first level dreamy stage where imagination mixes with reality and you feel shimmering sprinkles begin to fall down into your brain. After that, you have just enough waking consciousness to clutch onto and say, “Okay, time to get up!”

Because you want to get to a point where you wake up without  an alarm. Sorry darling, but them’s the facts.

The reason power nap length shouldn’t exceed 20 minutes is that the brain starts releasing too many sleep chemicals, making it more difficult for you to snap into action afterwards. Also, make it a coffee nap—I know, it sounds beautiful, and it is!

Check out this Health Ambition article to master the power nap.

pause pod or not, nap!

cat napping—get it!? Photo cred: my creeper friend

Okay, but look, I didn’t like my last coworking spot because there was no quiet cozy space to mentally check out for a while. They needed a Pause Pod! It’s a mini portable tent for sleeping anywhere. Sounds weird, but it’s not too ostentatious.

Workspaces should recognize that it’s a boon to productivity (thus profit) to encourage folk to recenter and rest during the work day.

I don’t need a Pause Pod because I work from home and can lie down any time I damn well please (maybe I’m lying down now!), but I think you should have one. I mean, if you don’t work from home. I think you should take naps. In Pause Pods. Or wherever.

That’s all.


I’m always on the hunt for cool things, let me know some—leave a comment!  And get an email when I post something new.

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