Categories
Journal Simplify

Progress on Going More Analog

The other week I wrote about my plans to spend less time in front of screens. So let’s talk about my progress on going more analog. Spoiler alert: the more I get into this, the easier it becomes.

Those of you who’ve been reading this page for a while know what I’m doing. It’s more than building a bubble against *gestures broadly at the world* the rest of 2020. I’m making plans to ride out the inevitable seasonal affective disorder that comes with living this far north. There won’t be much sun from around 1 November to about 1 February. I need routines the keep my busy and protect my mental health.

Reading More

Free from trying to decide what book to read next, I’m reading more. There are two ground rules that I’ve set. The first is that I can’t be into more than two books at a time. One has to be fiction. The other will probably be a business book, a book of writing, or a biography, given my habits.

The second rule is that I will read every evening after dinner. Quiet music, a cup of tea, and a good book. I need to stop working all the time. I can have my journal with me to take notes. Going forward I want to blog more about novels I’m reading. Keeping notes on skills, tips, and even good quotes is useful.

Watching Less

The other day I went through my Netflix queue and deleted anything that wasn’t uplifting. That means that it’s pretty much just inspirational documentaries and stand-up comedy specials. No politics, no violence, no “gritty” dramas. I added a few things that I know cheer my up and are infinitely rewatchable. Won’t You Be My Neighbor, the Mister Rogers doc. Rilakkuma and Kaoru, the beautiful, slow-paced stop-motion masterpiece. The entire Miyazaki catalog which, yes, outside of the US is all on Netflix.

I’m setting a limit on how much I can watch per day. That’s the only way of going more analog, short of buying a Blu-ray player and a bunch of discs. It’s scheduled time, so I don’t fall into a binge-hole and have difficulty climbing out. These are the times when I miss broadcast television, when the show you like was on at a specific time, on a particular day. Streaming services can be as insidious as social networks in their efforts to keep you glued to a screen.

Blogging in Batches

Planning out blog posts in advance means I can write them in batches and schedule them. I don’t need to get online every day to fiddle with my websites. When people leave comments, I respond when I check my email, which is currently back to a once-per-day activity.

I Killed Twitter (Again)

I looked in on my business Twitter to see what bad takes people were having on my publishing niche at the moment. What I walked in on were people whose opinions I usually respect defending genocide. Yeah. Seriously.┬áBoth accounts are now deactivated. I need a break, It’s likely I will turn them back on just to syndicate blog content there.

I’ve also killed my business Instagram, which I never used effectively. At the moment I don’t have time to dedicate to that front. My personal account has been turned to private. All I use it for is to look at cute animals, art museums, and architecture. I’m not going to bother posting anything, at least for the time being.

Curating Music

I’m curating a “get me moving in the morning” playlist. Most of that is 60s and 70s R&B. Mornings are for jazz. In the afternoon things switch over to classical. After dinner, which has now been designated as reading time, I go back to some quiet jazz or world music. My kitchen sounds like a coffee shop crossed with an NPR station.

This is one area where going more analog is difficult. I don’t own any media like CDs, tapes, or records, and wouldn’t have anything to play them on if I did. Hell, I don’t even own a radio. I stream all music off of my computer. I am considering digging my old computer out of the closet and setting it up purely as a music server.

Killing Trees to Spite the Algorithm

My bullet journal will be where I track everything by 1 January 2021. I’m eliminating online tools in favor of a wall calendar. I’ve purchased a stack of small notebooks that fit in my pocket. Journaling reduces the number of things that I track electronically.

Ideally, I wont have to be online more than an hour per day to check on things and perform essential business tasks. That’s the real objective in going more analog. And paper is recyclable, so I really don’t feel all that bad about killing trees.

Progress on Going More Analog

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Categories
Create Journal Simplify Thrive

Thinking in Terms of Weeks

Lately I’ve been thinking in terms of weeks, rather than days or months. A while back I gave up using monthly spreads in my bullet journal in favor of weekly logs, but for a number of reasons I’m slowly switching back. I’m still planning things in weekly segments, though, and I’ll get to why in a moment.

One of the many, many differences between the United States and Finland is that numbered weeks are used more commonly here. For example, the week that I am writing this, ending 27 September 2020 , is week 39. There are 53 weeks in 2020, simply because of how the dates fall. In the US I only ever saw it in business, particularly on things that required ISO-8601 standards.

Here in Finland I see it used in ads to let you know how long a sale runs, or how long a coupon is good for. Restaurants advertise their specials based on the week number. And of course, businesses, schools, sports team, and club use the week number.

Weekly Thinking as a Minimalist Spoonie Writer

Here’s where it’s working for me so far:

As a writer, I’ve stopped thinking of a deadline as being firmly fixed on Tuesday of Week 42. Now I think of Week 41 being the final week that I have to work on a particular manuscript, so plan accordingly. Not only does it allow me to better adjust my workload, it lessens the stress. I feel as if I have more time to get caught up and do the million things that always pop up when you’re in the home stretch.

As a minimalist, it means I only have 52 or 53 time units to worry about, not 365. It’s a lot easier to hold that concept in your head. That smaller number to work forces me to realize that my time is finite. It prevents me from over-booking myself. I need to prioritize better, and only spend my time on the things that matter the most to me or will have the greatest impact.

As a spoonie, thinking in weeks rather than days gives me space to breathe. If I’m not feeling well or can’t be especially productive one day, I don’t feel as guilty about it. There are few things in my life that absolutely, positively need to be done on a specific day. A week is still short enough for me to have a sense of urgency, so that I don’t put things off. But it’s a large enough space that if I have to take a moment it’s not going to completely wreck my workflows.

Thinking in Terms of Weeks

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Categories
Journal Simplify

4-Page Quarterly Bullet Journal Spreads

For the remainder of this year, I’ll be testing out some tools I want to use in 2021. This includes shifting some of my processes, and trying to streamline the way I track things. To that end, for October, November, and December I’ve devised 4-page quarterly bullet journal spreads.

The concept is fairly simple. A standard monthly spread is two facing pages. On the left-hand page the days of the month are written from top to bottom, 1 to 28, 30, or 31 depending. The first letter of the day of the week goes next to it. The rest of the line is for any events, appointments, or reminders.

The right-hand page of the two-page spread is for monthly tasks. These are things that you want or need to get done in this month, but aren’t necessarily date-dependent. Most bullet journalers either work directly from this list, or reassign tasks to weekly or daily spreads as they have openings in their schedule. Again, this is a Ryder Carrol standard spread.

All I’m doing different with a quarterly is sticking two more monthly lists in there. So the left-hand page is October, 1 to 31. The facing right-hand page is November, 1 to 30. The following page is December, and the facing page is a quarterly task list. Boom.

Why? Blogging and Project Planning

To test this out, I’m using one of these quarterly spreads for this blog. The quarterly tasks page is where I capture ideas for blog posts or series. From there I can assign posts to days, writing tentative titles on the dated list. When I’ve used an idea, I can put an X next to it.

This kind of big-picture visibility lets me group similar posts. It also lets me see if I have too many similarly-themed posts bunched together. If I want to built to something, or have some running thought that I want to work with, I can outline how I’m going to present it in bite-sized portions.

I only need to plan a week ahead, but honestly? Right now I have posts planned through the middle of November. I won’t have to sit down and try to come up with ideas at the last minute. When I have time, I can batch them and write posts in advance. This process takes away a lot of stress.

At the end of the quarter I can review unused ideas. If they’re still viable, I can migrate them to the next quarter’s spread. And so on, and so on. Ideally, it means I’ll never run out of material.

4-Page Quarterly Bullet Journal Spreads

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Categories
Journal Simplify

End of the World or End of the Year

Although it currently unclear whether this is the end of the world or the end of the year, I’m being optimistic. I’ve started thinking about how I want to set up my 2021 bullet journal. If nothing else, it keeps me occupied, and hopeful, and thinking about something other than the existential horror of 2020.

The first thing I did was review my current bullet journal to see how I’ve used it. There are pages in the front devoted to the four major goals I wanted to accomplish this year, all of which when straight out the window by March. Not because they were squishy resolutions; they were solid SMART goals. It was all COVID-19 and related ennui. I’ve settled on one objective for 2021, and it’s far less ambitious: just survive. I’ll write more on this in the near future.

Looking over the current journal, I realized that I have a finite number of pages left. This year was the first time I started a new journal on 1 January. I’d like to do the same for the coming year, because the tidiness of it sooths me. So I counter the number of pages left, and divided it by the number of weeks left this year, and that left me with a reasonable “page budget” that I need to stick to.

Going Mostly Analog

One thing I want to do next year is get rid of as many electronic tools as possible. When I look through the windows of our flat, I see forest and sky and a lake. Looking through the window of the internet on my laptop and phone, I see nothing but a burning hellscape. Again, unclear if this is the end of the world or the end of the year. I’d like to avoid that window as much as possible.

I’d also like to spend less time staring at screens in general. It’s far more pleasant to be able to look things up in my journal, write down notes, and review things while sipping coffee. To that end, I’m replacing Google Keep with tiny pocket notebooks that measure about 5cm x 7.5cm (2″ by 3″). When I’m not in a position to access my journal, I can jot down notes. I will hand-write grocery lists, and copy down any information I need before going it.

It also means that some things that I currently track on spreadsheets or in Scrivener will move into the bullet journal. I spent a day going over what I currently track, deciding what matters and what doesn’t. Then I figured out the most efficient way to turn those things into spreads, collections, or simple trackers in my bullet journal.

Two or Four Journals Per Year

I’ll be writing more about my new setup in the coming weeks. There’s still a lot of filtering to be done. I want to make sure that I’m not tracking things for the sake of tracking them, or making things needlessly complicated and confusing. Even though I fit all of 2020 into one journal, I figure that 2010 will take at least two. I’ll break it evenly, six months per book. There may be some empty space at the end, but not a lot.

If I add in some of the things I’m considering, though, I may even go to one journal per quarter. The appeal of that is more journals. There are very few things that I buy for myself, or enjoy shopping for. Journals are a treat. I find setting them up relaxing, and then using them extremely satisfying. The thought of a new journal every 3 months makes me giddy. It also means that I can switch things up as my life, and this f’n world, inevitably continues to change.

End of the World or End of the Year

If you enjoy my posts, in the name of everything holy please buy me a coffee and help me to stay in Finland. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.

Categories
Journal Simplify Thrive

My Personal Social Dilemma

About a month ago people started contacting me out of the blue. They all told me they missed me on social media. It was weird, that about 5 people that I haven’t interacted with in months or years suddenly reached out to me over the course of a week or so. I didn’t ask why; I was kind of afraid to know the answer. The social pressure to be normative and get back on social media is already there any time I get online, anywhere, for any reason. That’s my personal social dilemma.

There Are Other Ways

I get most of the online content I consume through an RSS feed aggregator. It doesn’t show me things I didn’t ask for. People I choose to follow don’t suddenly go missing unless they’re legitimately not posting. Things are presented chronologically. There’s no interference from algorithms. The only ads I see are to get a better plan with the RSS aggregator that offers more features, which seems like a fair thing to hit me up for. None of this creates the illusion of a connection between content creator and content consumer, though.

Some of the marketing, publishing, and writing feeds I keep pitching the necessity of having a social media presence. Years and years of data tell me that, for my business, this is not true. Few people will step off of Facebook or Twitter to visit my blog and read a post. A barely non-zero number of sales have ever been generated by my social media presence, even when I had accounts with thousands of followers.

Still, in spite of several attempts and massive amounts of evidence, elements of doubt continue to be introduced. What if it’s not social media? What if I’m just doing it wrong?

A Toe in the (Toxic) Water

After reading several newer pieces on using social media for business, I started syndicating my company blog posts to Twitter. I began to interact with people there, for just a few minutes a day. Then I started syndicating these blog posts to my personal account, although I haven’t really spoken up or commented on anything there.

A couple of weeks later, and I have some preliminary results from this experiment. As expected, there has been no boost in sales or traffic. I am, however, more anxious, angry, and unhappy than I was prior to resuming contact with these toxic environments.

The Social Dilemma

Yesterday I watched The Social Dilemma on Netflix. It’s a bit superficial and cheesy, but think it could be eye-opening to a lot of people. If you’re like me, i.e. you’ve been paying attention, there’s nothing new here. Social media is manipulative, it’s bad for you, and it’s destroying civilization as we know it. That’s not hyperbole. There are facts upon facts upon facts to support it.

Of course, it won’t make any difference. Everyone has their own facts now, and we don’t live in anything like a shared, common reality. People who are already inclined and understand and agree with this film, will. Those who don’t find it to be in their best interests will deny that there’s anything to it, and dismiss it as stupid or propaganda.

I need to go blow up my social media accounts again.

My Personal Social Dilemma

If you enjoy my posts, in the name of everything holy please buy me a coffee and help me to stay in Finland. Consider subscribing below, so you can read my daily ramblings about the writer’s life, minimalist, being a spoonie, and the intersection of all of those things.

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About Berin Kinsman

Berin Kinsman is a writer, game designer, and owner/publisher at Dancing Lights Press. An American by accident of birth, he currently lives in Finland with his wife, artist Katie Kinsman.