Posted in art, bullet journal, Bullet journaling, creativity, goal setting, lifestyle, Planning and journaling, productivity

My new slightly later than mid year BuJo and Setting up for August – birthday balloons theme

I’ve just finished my previous bullet journal and I’m excited to be moving in to a brand new notebook. This one is again from Notebook Therapy but the cover is white vegan leather with a beautiful butterfly on the front and gilded edges to the pages. I’m already wondering how long it will stay mark free for!

As we’re off on holiday shortly I’m going to keep this post picture heavy with minimal explanation. If you want to know anything about the spreads you can always ask in the comments.

Key and index pages

Future log

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Grid spacing cheat sheet

Vision board

I love how my vision board turned out. Some of the goals are ongoing from earlier in the year, some are new aspirations.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

August front cover

For my theme for August, I went for birthday balloons as my niece and our share our birthdays on the 3rd August. I completed my cover page on return from our holiday to Amsterdam. To make it quicker and easier, I used a tracing paper balloon shape to create the balloons but slightly altered them when I inked them in for a hand-drawn look. I used a 0.3 Pigma micron for each balloon and a 0.1 for the strings.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

August calendar pages

I haven’t managed to get chance to do the front cover page yet but it will feature lots of colourful balloons in the colour palette used for the calendar.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Reading log

A space for me to record books read in August and September and rate them out of 5 hearts.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

When did I last? spread

I found this really useful in my previous bullet journal, particularly for stuff that doesn’t get done that often so I’ve created a slightly more compact version.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Packing list

I do one of these every time we go away and refer back to previous ones each time. Obviously things depend on the season where we’re going and how long for but there are some items I take on each holiday. The lists help me feel more organised and mean I don’t forget things.

Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative blog

Final words…

I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at my new bullet journal and my spreads. I always find it exciting to start a new notebook but at the same time I worry about making mistakes (which I inevitably do!). However, then you have the opportunity to get creative with how you fix the problem(s). Wishing you all a wonderful August.

Posted in lifestyle, productivity, Setting goals and intentions

Monday Matters: 7 benefits of decluttering and some ways to get started

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been making a start on decluttering and re-organising some parts of our home. So far, I’ve got rid of some unwanted clothes, purged my vast collection of magazines and begun the mammoth task of clearing out and re-organising my craft room. I have a lot of ‘stuff’ and, at times, the process has been overwhelming and stressful but I’m doing a little bit each day and slowly, I’m seeing the difference it’s making. For today’s Monday Matters, I thought I would consider some of the main benefits of decluttering your home as I feel that knowing the effects it can have on health and wellbeing will help me to keep going and also might encourage some of you to dedicate a small amount of time each week to tackle an area of your home or a particular type of clutter. I’ll also offer a few ways to get started including some ideas based on the popular ‘Kondo’ method.

So, let’s start with some of the main benefits which can make a real difference to your life…

  1. You’ll have more energy

A house full of clutter is very draining. There’s always things out of place and constantly seeing your stuff everywhere will likely consume your thoughts as soon as you enter your home or spend time in a particular room. Also, you’ll regularly have to make decisions about where to put things and this can cause stress and deplete your energy levels.

Clutter can make you feel both physically and mentally tired and can also prevent you from relaxing and replenishing your spent energy after a busy day. On the other hand, a tidy and clutter free home lowers stress levels as it is an inviting and calming place to be, where you can fully wind down.

2. Your sleep is likely to improve

A tidy and clutter free bedroom promotes peaceful sleep and allows you to switch off more easily. Whereas a cluttered environment fills the mind with uneasy thoughts and has been found to cause disrupted and less restful sleep. You might think it doesn’t matter if you have lots of stuff in your bedroom because you can’t see it when you turn out the light but your brain will be stimulated as soon as it sees the ‘chaos’ causing feelings of overwhelm and stress.

It’s best to make sure most of the items in your bedroom are put away and that a small number of carefully chosen objects are on display which reflect the style you want to achieve. So, for example, your bedside cabinet or table might have a pretty lamp, your Kindle or book and a single framed photograph.

3. You’ll feel more organised

Having an orderly home will mean that you can find things more easily. If all of your things have a particular home and similar items are grouped together, you’ll feel super organised and you’ll know exactly what you have and where each item is located. Less clutter will help you feel in control whereas an excess of stuff will have the opposite effect.

You’re also likely to feel extremely proud of your home and want to show it off!

4. Fewer allergens will be present

This is a really important one for me as I’m asthmatic and have a condition called allergic rhinitis which is triggered by dust and molds. If you have stuff everywhere, it’s very difficult to keep your home free from dust. Also a build up of clutter has been shown to contribute to poor ventilation in your rooms which can cause mold. Surfaces with only a select few items on them can really help reduce the number of allergens in the air and on your furniture which is great for anyone with asthma and other similar health conditions.

5. Cleaning and tidying will become a breeze!

Whilst I was struggling with depression and anxiety, my support worker helped me to plan some small housework tasks throughout the week to encourage me to contribute to the many chores involved in running a home so I was able to feel a sense of achievement. On one of the days, in my weekly plan, we decided that I would dust and vacuum our bedroom. When asked the next week how I’d got on, I mentioned that I’d got overwhelmed and upset because just tackling my dressing table had been a gargantuan task as there was so much clutter to clear before I even attempted to clean the dusty surface. I ended up just doing the dressing table and my chest of drawers when all of the other furniture really needed doing too.

Having less clutter will make keeping your home clean much easier and so much quicker. I’m not saying that dusting, vacuuming or mopping floors will become enjoyable, but it’s likely to be much less of a chore.

6. You’ll be more productive

If you want to get things done quickly and easily you need an environment with as few distractions as possible. This is why many offices have a tidy desk policy as it promotes efficiency and effectiveness at work. Less clutter in your home has the same impact. It means you can focus on the task at hand rather than being drawn towards your stuff which needs sorting out or has just become too much to deal with.

7. Overall, you’ll feel happier in your home

Clutter is known to fuel depression and anxiety as it promotes feelings such as sadness, stress, guilt, despair, shame or inadequacy. It can also make you feel embarrassed and apologetic if you have any visitors. A clutter free home, however, can have a really positive effect on our mood by freeing us of these negative emotions making us feel more content and generally happier.

As you can see, doing a spot of decluttering can really help improve your physical and mental health and generally make your home a more pleasant place to be. But, getting started isn’t easy, especially if you have a lot of stuff. Here’s a few suggestions to get you going…

Visualise what you want

Once you’ve committed to decluttering, try a little visualisation exercise. Think about your ideal lifestyle and create a picture in your mind of what it looks like. Also, imagine how decluttering will help you work towards or achieve this and how you will feel as a result of your improved home. Perhaps you’ll have a well-ordered space where everything is neat and tidy. Maybe you’ll feel more organised and happier. Or, you might be able to relax more easily when you finish work. You could even find that you have more time to do the things you love with the people you care about. Obviously, this will differ greatly depending on your personal goals and the lifestyle you want. You might even want to write down some of your ideas after visualising so you can re-read them to help you stay motivated. If you prefer pictorial representations, you could make a vision board for your bullet journal or to pin to your wall.

Dedicate some time

It’s a good idea to regularly schedule a block of time in your bullet journal or diary and think about what will work best for you and your lifestyle. You might choose 10 minutes and set a timer for a quick spot of decluttering or an hour on a Sunday afternoon if you want to tackle your entire wardrobe. If you have a family and the stuff doesn’t all belong to you, try to get everyone involved in the process ensuring everyone takes some responsibility and can reap the rewards too. Make sure, whatever timeframe you choose, you stick to it, just like you would any other commitment.

Start small

In her popular first book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying, Marie Kondo identifies a particular order to decluttering your home. She suggests starting with clothes and invites you to get all of your clothing together and work through it to decide what you want to keep based on if each item sparks joy. However, if you have lots and lots of clothes like I do, it might be worth starting much smaller. A good way is to categorise your clothing and just working on, for example, t-shirts or trousers. Working on a small number of items can help to prevent overwhelm and make the process less stressful.

Think about what bothers you the most

Although organising expert Marie Kondo suggests a set order for decluttering, you might want to start with something else or a particular space. For example, if the mess in your living room stresses you out when you sit down to watch TV, you might want to start with visible clutter in there. Or, if the state of your bedroom may be contributing to a less than restful sleep, you could tackle this first. Whatever would have the most impact, as long as it’s not too big a job, may be the best area to start.

Deal with visible clutter first

Also related to impact and choosing what to work on is visible clutter. You might have a cupboard under the stairs which is full of junk but does it bother you all the time or only when you need something from the back of it? You might be best off starting with your desk top, your dressing table, the top of your chest of drawers or floor space if you want to really see your progress. Then, when surfaces are cleared, you can tackle cupboards, drawers and cabinets.

Make a decision about the items you don’t want or need straight away

As soon as you’ve decided what to keep, including what sparks joy and which items are useful in your life right now, make plans for your discard pile. Some of your stuff will be fit for the bin (and you’ll wonder why you still have it!), some might be perfect for donating to charity, and a small number of items could potentially be sold on ebay (but only if you have the time to photograph and list them straightway and then deal with them once they sell / don’t sell). It’s really important to take action on the items immediately, so take the bin bag(s) out as soon as you can, place donations in a box and head straight for the charity shop that same afternoon and create your ebay listings as a matter of urgency. The quicker the items are gone, the sooner you can start enjoying the benefits.

Final words…

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading today’s Monday Matters post and it has prompted you to do some decluttering. Let me know in the comments if you’re already enjoying the benefits of less clutter or if you are keen to get started. It would also be great to hear any other tips you have for beginning the process.

Happy decluttering!

Posted in Bullet journaling, life hacks, lifestyle, Mindfulness, productivity

Monday Matters: 8 wonderful benefits of listening to music

Photo credit: Lee Campbell for Unsplash

Back in October of last year, I found my mental health deteriorating, and, once again, started to have difficulties with anxiety and depression. I’m now (thankfully) feeling much better and my improved wellbeing has enabled me to start blogging again. Whilst I was struggling, the main focus of life was on doing any little thing I could either to distract myself from how I was feeling or to improve my mood. I found music was a huge help and so, for today’s Monday Matters post, I want to focus on the benefits of listening to music. The following are applicable whatever your musical preferences and can be utilised whether you are finding things difficult at the moment or feeling happy, content and positive, like I am currently. Let’s get started..

1. Elevates your mood

Whatever our taste in music, I expect we can all name at least one song which, when it starts to play, is able to shift our mood in a matter of seconds, making us want to turn the radio up, jump to our feet and start dancing around the room or burst into song. It may be the tempo, the lyrics or the sparking of a happy memory which uplifts us. Whichever of these it is that gets us going, scientific research proves that these tunes promote the release of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine into our bodies and it is this which is responsible for making us feel so good. If you do find yourself singing or dancing along to the music too, you will be doing yourself the extra favour of encouraging happy hormones known as endorphins to flood your body as well!

Making a playlist for times when you are feeling a little low or even depressed can be really useful. This can either be on your phone, your IPod or even in your bullet journal so you can seek out those songs on Spotify, YouTube or whatever is your music player of choice. Having them written down is particularly helpful for those times when you are struggling as, at that time, you may not be able to recall songs which are able to make you feel more upbeat.

The following page was inspired by one created by @sunshine_journal_ on Instagram.

A page from by current bullet journal. Photo credit: Laura Jones for Keeping It Creative

2. Improves your workout

According to my Fitbit app, which has just this second provided me with an activity tip (it must have somehow known I was writing this blog post):

‘Listening to music can help exercise feel easier, and even boost your speed. Songs with 120-140 beats per minute appear to have the biggest motivating effect’

Source: Fitbit app info.

Clicking through to the information, which was written back in 2017, I learnt that music can increase your speed, make you feel more powerful, make exercising feel easier (wahoo!), boost your mood and help to keep you motivated. When I was battling with my mental illness, I didn’t have the energy to do my Zumba workouts but I did make sure that I went for at least one long walk per day and my playlist helped to put at least a little bit of a spring in my step. Now I’m back to good health, the music is really motivating and some of the track make me want to break into a run (luckily I haven’t acted upon the urge as I don’t wear my sports bra whilst pounding the streets or the paths of my local park and don’t want to be off to the doctors with detached boob syndrome which I’m sure would be the resulting affliction lol!).

Here’s a list of some of my motivational music, many of which I copied into iTunes from some old CD singles which I believe I purchased whilst at uni many moons ago:

  • Choose Life – PF Project feat. Ewan McGregor
  • Forever – Dee Dee
  • Another Chance – Roger Sanchez
  • Alone – Lasgo
  • Beautiful – Matt Darey Feat. Marcella Woods
  • Treat Infamy – Rest Assured
  • The Night Train – Kadoc
  • The Silence – Mike Koglin
  • Kickstarts – Example
  • In For The Kill – La Roux

They’ve been put into a playlist on my old Apple iPod, aptly called ‘On The Go’ as I couldn’t work out how to give them my own title.

3. Boosts your concentration levels when working or studying

When I’m struggling with anxiety and depression, it becomes very difficult for me to concentrate on the simplest of tasks and even harder to be motivated to do things in the first place. Studies have shown that particular types of music can be really useful in encouraging productivity and creativity. Some tunes can also be quite therapeutic, reducing stress levels so that you are able to concentrate better. Personally, I prefer instrumental music as many lyrics can be more of a distraction than a help. Whilst conducting online research for today’s blog post, I discovered that the best types of musical accompaniment were suggested to be the following (one of them may surprise you like it did me!) :

  • classical music
  • ambient music
  • nature sounds
  • between 50 and 80 BPM (Beats per minute)
  • video game music!

You can find many different collections of classical music for work or study on YouTube but I like to create my own playlists as there’s nothing worse than a tune coming on that you simple don’t like. My absolute favourite has to be Fur Elise by Beethoven, but, my musical choices are often dependent on the type of task I’m working on.

Ambient music is a genre that is generally identifiable as being atmospheric and environmental in nature. According to online definitions, it is gentle and largely electronic with no persistent beat. One of my favourite pieces of ambient music is Porcelain by Moby and, although mostly tracks are instrumental, this one does have minimal lyrics. If your chosen music does have words, I think it is best to have the song on at a low volume so they don’t distract you.

I love listen to the sounds of nature in my local park or in the garden on a fine day. When you’re working or studying, apps such as ‘Calm’, ‘Sleep sounds’ or other relaxation and meditation focused packages, are great for providing nature sounds such as rain on leaves, Autumn woods, water flow, coral reef and wind in pines. I’m not sure how much of the Calm app is accessible for free ordinarily because I’m currently making use of an extended free trial but the sleep sounds app has lots free to use (my phone is Android but I expect there are iPhone Apps too).

According to my research, music at 50-80 BPM is good for stimulating the left side of the brain for information processing and problem solving. Again, collections of tracks can be found on YouTube but I would definitely recommend you create your own playlist of music you love. For sparking your creative juices, more upbeat, faster music is suggested (more BPM).

Who knew that music created to accompany video games could help boost your output? I certainly didn’t. The ones that I play tend to get on my nerves and I mute them but apparently they’re designed to enhance your gaming experience by stimulating your senses and blocking out other stimuli which may distract you. One game that both my husband and I always have the music on for though, is Angry Birds 2 but I’ve never thought of listening to it when working or studying – that is, until now (I may just have it playing in the background as I type away on this blog post!).

4. Calms the mind and relaxes the body

Some music can be really soothing when you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious or uptight. According to a number of studies, listening to calming tracks can help you relax by slowing your breathing and heart rate, lowering blood pressure and reducing levels of stress hormones such as cortisol and epinephrine (AKA adrenaline). Try searching for ‘peaceful music’, ‘soothing music’ or ‘music for relaxation’ on YouTube (I found some wonderful extended compositions by talented Norwegian musical artist Peder B. Helland whose videos also contain beautiful imagery), create your own playlist or check out some of the music on apps such as Calm.

5. Great for mindful listening

Music can be a great part of your daily mindfulness practice. Mindfully listening grounds us in the present moment and, by paying attention to what’s going on currently, you won’t be focusing on ruminating about the past or worrying about things in the future. Mindfulness is obviously a huge topic which I couldn’t possibly cover in this blog post but with regard to mindful listening to music, you can start with really paying attention to the piece, noticing its melody, rhythm, tone or lyrics and tuning in to how it makes you feel or what emotions it evokes. And of course, if your mind wanders off, as with all mindfulness practices, gently and kindly bring it back to the music without berating yourself for losing your attention or starting to think things such as ‘I can’t do this’ or ‘why do I have the concentration skills of a goldfish?’!

6. Combats isolation and feelings of loneliness

Many of us will be struggling with feelings of isolation and loneliness right now due to the effects of local lockdowns and social distancing as the result of Coronavirus. Studies have shown, however, that listening to music can combat these by triggering the release of a hormone called oxytocin which plays a key part in cultivating empathy, trust and compassion for others and creates a sense of belonging and connection.

7. Brings back happy memories

Sometimes, when you hear a song on the radio, it evokes happy memories and has the ability to transport you right back to the time when you first heard it or to a particular occasion (e.g. your wedding day, a night out with friends in your early 20s, or a family get together. Adding these to a playlist can evoke fond memories or help you recall and remember happier periods of your life when you’re feeling down. Research has shown that just replaying music helps us reconnect with the feelings we were experiencing at the time.

Talking of memory, there’s also scientific evidence that listening to music can help us retrieve memories and is also good at helping us to lay down new ones. For this reason, music can be wonderful resource for elderly relatives or those who have dementia.

8. Helps you to process difficult emotions and heal from heartache and grief

I’m sure most, if not all of us have experienced the heartache that goes with losing a loved one at some point in our lives. Although music doesn’t have the capacity to make the feelings of emotional anguish or grief go away, it can certainly help us process and make sense of things. Seeking out and listening to tracks where the lyrics seem to be describing our situation perfectly is something many of you will have found yourself doing automatically. In the past, following the breakdown of a romantic relationship, I would always find myself reaching for CDs of sad songs and having a good cry. I wasn’t sure that choosing such tunes was helpful, but according to my research, it definitely can be. In fact, listening to music which matches our mood (either in terms of tempo or lyrics), whether that be sadness, anger, excitement or joy, benefits us by activating our limbic system (the section of our brain which is directly related to emotional processing).

Final thoughts…

I hope you have found this music focused post helpful in some way and that is has encouraged you to think about using songs and instrumental pieces to benefit your mental health and wellness. Let me know in the comments if any of what I’ve said resonates with you.

Happy listening!

Posted in bullet journal, Bullet journaling, creativity, gardening, Planning and journaling, productivity, TN journaling

Spring is coming! Pretty, practical and creative journal spreads you must try

Spring officially starts on Saturday 20th March but there are already so many signs that the season is on its way. It’s a pretty chilly 3 degrees here in Sunderland today (warm coat and scarf weather), but last weekend, the temperatures rose to highs of 13 and it felt like Summer had arrived (never mind Spring) when my husband and I took a coastal walk in the bright sunshine and under cloudless blue skies! The warmer conditions have meant that lots of things are starting to pop up in the garden including early flowerers such as daffodils and tulips. One of our regular hedgehog visitors has even been tempted out of hibernation which is pretty early in comparison to previous years. There might still be lots of worries with regard to Covid around at the moment, but I think its super important to celebrate the small stuff and remind ourselves that there’s still lots to be grateful for right now and plenty to look forward to in the not too distant future. With that in mind, today I’m sharing some practical and pretty journal spreads, for your BuJo or your TN inserts, that I’ve created this week and really encourage you to try.

Spring flowers collage spread

This bright and colourful collage spread was created using pictures printed from Google images following a search for early Spring blooming flowers. They depict shrubs and bulbs which we actually have in our garden but most of which are not yet out. I copied the text in the left hand corner of page one of the double spread from an article which I found on the Woodland Trust website as I thought it was particularly fitting for the theme. The stickers are some I had left over from the Blooming Lovely collection and I discovered I had matching washi tape in my stash too. Both of these pages make me feel happy every time I look at them and I revisit it most days.

A pretty quote page

This was a free printable from https://www.bluemountain.com/blog/ I’ve printed it twice and put one copy in my bullet journal and a slightly larger version on the wall in my craft room. I found the quote by typing ‘spring quotes and sayings’. There’s lots to choose from and as long as you’re just printing them for personal rather than commercial use, you can add them to any of your journals or a prominent place in your home!

Garden jobs for Spring

This spread is purely practical, although I did add a few cute stickers! My husband and I sat down and listed some garden jobs that we would like to get done this month as a useful reference to see what needs doing and to see how much we’ve achieved. There’s not much on it yet, but by the end of the month, I reckon the list will be much longer (hopefully with lots crossed off!).

Time spent in nature

I love to document days out which my husband and I enjoy and, even though we’re limited to the local area at the moment, due to lockdown, we still go out for a walk each day. Last weekend, as I said earlier, it was really warm so we headed to our local coast. It was really busy there but as we’d had lots of sunshine, the grass was dry enough to walk on and it was easy to keep socially distant from others. I took a screenshot of the temperature on my phone as we couldn’t believe how warm it was for the end of February!

Shoots and leaves

There’s lots starting to emerge in the garden and so I took my phone out there and snapped a few signs of growth. It’s exciting to see things popping up even if some of them are weeds! The photos aren’t wonderful as I wanted them to just be quick pics but it will be good to compare how things look now with how they look in a few month’s time.

Plant and flower factfiles

This is something I started doing as part of last year’s garden related spreads. Basically, it’s just info from the plastic card you get stuck in the pots when you buy a plant or details which are included on the seeds or bulbs packet. It’s handy to know the exact variety you have and what they will look like when they come into bloom. Also, doing a little sketch of them is quite relaxing and therapeutic too! I messed up the lettering on the page so have stuck a piece on I cut from a page at the back of my journal. IRL, you can’t see it as badly as you can at the bottom of the header as you can in the photo.

Final words…

I hope you are tempted to have a go at at least one of these spreads – I guarantee they will make you smile when you look back over them if you do. I would love it if you would take the time to add your thoughts or your own ideas in the comments below. And, as always, if you’ve created any Spring spreads and shared them online, leave the link and I’ll be sure to check them out.

Posted in lifestyle, Planning and journaling, productivity, Setting goals and intentions

Monday Matters: What is the ‘WOOP technique’ and how can it help you achieve your dreams?

This week, I wanted to write a post about goal setting and fulfilling your dreams. I talked last week about the power of positive affirmations in developing confidence in your ability, but is telling yourself you are something such as successful, confident or happy enough to achieve in a particular aspect of your life? Whilst perusing the Internet for inspiration for my chosen focus, I came across something I’d never heard of before called WOOP. I’m willing to bet that a lot of my readers might not have heard of it either, so today’s Monday Matters is going to be an introduction the principles behind this fascinating and scientifically researched idea, which to me, make a lot of sense and might need more consideration.

What is WOOP?

WOOP, which stands for Wish, Outline, Obstacle, Plan is a scientifically based principle developed by German academic and psychologist Gabriele Oettingen. Her research has focused on ‘how people think about the future and how this impacts cognition, emotion and behaviour’ (Wikipedia). Gabriele has found that if we just dream or fantasise about something we want, our brains tend to think we have already attained what we desire and this can make us relax and prevent us from actually achieving our goals. She talks about two processes that we need to go through for the WOOP strategy to take effect, namely mental contrasting and implementation intentions (MCII for short). Basically, this means focusing on the contrast between the positive aspects of your desired goal and the barriers (negative aspects / obstacle / internal struggle) of you actually achieving your goal or wish. So, the WOO bit is the contrast as you imagine / visualise how wonderful it would be to fulfil your wish and then conversely, look at what might stop you. Thinking about both of these helps to motivate your self conscious to do something about the issue you face. The P part is the implementation intentions as you are coming up with a plan of actions and thoughts to work against your obstacle.

Gabriele and her team have spent 20 years fully researching and investigating goal achievement and the effects of mental contrasting and implementation intentions with studies including participants of different ages and backgrounds. The results of their work, has lead them to create WOOP as a framework for implementing change. The process has been found to be affective at helping people improve their social behaviour, health and academic performance. Examples of these scientific studies can be found online if you want to find out more.

Creating a WOOP

Wish Gabriele says that it is vitally important to give yourself some mental space in which to think about and imagine what you wish for yourself right now. You should dedicate some calm and uninterrupted time where you can specifically focus on your immediate wish for this present moment. Clearing your mind of everything else is essential so that you can dedicate your attention to working on your WOOP.

You may find that many wishes come into your mind, but you need to select the one that is most important to you and is challenging but do-able at the same time. Wishes can be about anything you want, your relationships, your job, your education, your health and fitness, whatever is important to you right now.

When you’ve decided on your wish, you should try to come up with 3 to 6 words to summarise it. I found this part really difficult as I’m very good at saying in 50 words what could be shrunken down to 5 but it’s important to be concise so you should really take your time to think.

Outcome When you have outlined your wish, you need to imagine what it would feel like if it came true (you might like to close your eyes for this bit so you can create an image of your life). Think about what the very best outcome would be and describe it in a small number of words (approximately 3 or 4 is a good number).

Obstacle Next, you need to think really carefully about what holds you back from achieving that wish. In other words, what is the main obstacle? For this, you should focus on an inner obstacle, i.e. something in you that is preventing you from realising your wish. You might find here, that you start to think of external obstacles such as other people or situations which you find yourself in but it’s important that you try to concentrate on yourself as it is much easier to create changes within yourself. Again, you could close your eyes and allow yourself to come up with a vivid image.

Plan When you’ve identified your main obstacle, you need to come up with a plan to overcome it. Again, you should try to summarise thoughts or actions in 3 to 6 words. Keep these in mind, whilst you create an If… then plan. Take your obstacle words and put them after the If. Then, place the thought or action after the ‘then…’. You can then recite your If… then plan a few times.

An example

Here’s an example from my own life. I’m now pretty good at doing yoga every day but there are always occasions when I don’t feel like doing it or think of other things I would prefer to do.

  • Goal: Yoga for 20 minutes every day
  • W: daily yoga practise for 20 minutes
  • O: Strength. Good posture. Mindfulness.
  • O: Don’t feel like it. Don’t bother.
  • P: If I don’t feel like it… then I’ll put my workout gear on, get out my mat and then remind myself of the many mental and physical benefits of practising.

Some other WOOP ideas

  • In bed by 10pm every night.
  • Be more productive.
  • Get a new job.
  • Find my soulmate.
  • Stop eating unhealthy snacks.
  • Read a self help book.
  • Meditate for 10 minutes each morning.
  • Finish a project before the weekend.

You might find the process a little tricky at first, but once you’re proficient in WOOP, you can apply it to so many situations – daily tasks, habits you want to instil, projects you want to complete or whatever you want really! Also, you will likely get much better at summarising and getting to the crux of the matter in terms of your inner obstacle which will help you develop solutions more quickly.

The WOOP app

When I visited the website for WOOP, I discovered that there’s a free APP available, so I thought I would download it and see how it works. As well as giving an introduction to WOOP, it also guides you though the process of creating WOOPs for professional, health and interpersonal wishes.

The app guides you through each WOOP by giving you a number of prompts. You can choose a timeframe from 24 hours or 1 month or you can select not to have a time frame. The app gives you limited characters in which to compose your wish, outcome, obstacle so as to encourage you to keep it brief but I can imagine it’s quite frustrating if you feel like you can’t condense it down that much. It also asks you to take your time with thinking about each step of WOOP and if you click through the steps too quickly, it will warn you that you are going too fast! If you like having things noted down on your phone, then I think you would benefit from using the app, but personally, I prefer to write things in my BuJo and have a notes page to refer to, to help me create my WOOPs.

That’s all for my introduction to using the WOOP technique for setting goals and creating a plan to achieve them. If you want to learn more about WOOP and watch a great video introduction, visit woopmylife.org Here you can also find the link for the mobile app and a free printable to help guide you through the process.