Private Journal Entries in Springpad: What is happyconnected’s Role?

The last time I published here was February 25, 2013. I’ve since then last publication wrote privately, on Springpad.

I usually start the week with a calendar Spring, plan forward with some description of how I want the week to transpire (bridal shower, finish x, y, z tasks). Thereafter, I would document the week with journal entries under the “Comment” section and add photos. I have now completely removed the habit of writing on physical journals.

For the purpose of putting thoughts and memories onto something concrete, I’ve achieved it, privately. A year can be broken down into 52 weeks of memories: the week that my wedding dress came, that of my cousin’s wedding, when my fiancee took us to the zoo. Each Spring, with its vivid image and comments, becomes a landmark I can easily recollect.

Having this option to privately journal enables me to understand the motivation of writing on a blog. Blog writing now is for an audience. And my motivation is having something that he/she can walk away with after reading: something to think or do. Visit a website, try a recipe, or further pontificate on the subject matter. This connection to an unknown audience is what happyconnected is about.

It’s less than a month and a half till our wedding day. The question is whether my experience from now till the Big Day is worth telling others about on here. Would someone care what I have to say? I can try for the next forty something days. I owe it to try, to at least publish and see whether what I have to say has any significance. If I can’t connect, then it might be time to close up shop and realize that I have found a private medium to express my thoughts and capture my memories. And I can leave it at that.

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My Happiness Project Involves a Cohesive Smarter Work/Live System

I’ve reread Gretchin Rubin’s Happiness Project multiple times (I am a huge fan).  I’ve also read her recent work, Happiness at Home.  But somehow, I feel that I need something more cohesive.

As I was charting out the “work smart” system that allots for work life balance, I recognize that some of the techniques that Ms. Rubin described in Happiness Project (Benjamin Franklin’s resolutions chart, identifying some of things you’re grateful of, etc) are features of a larger cohesive system.  The grander scheme of the two Happiness books speaks to self awareness (determining what makes you feel great, what is right, and what makes you feel crummy and doing more of the former two and reducing/addressing the latter) and conscious growth.  Ms.  Rubin’s observations and insights resonate with us because she draws them from everyday life and interactions with family and friends.  I commend Ms. Rubin for her extensive research of different fields (popular psychology, literature). Her distillation of some of the archetypes (maximizer versus satifier) are eye opening; these archetypes have helped me understand the world a little bit better.  However, I feel that I need better tools than the resolutions chart and lists (list of splendid truths, secrets of adulthood, things to be grateful for, what makes you good, feel bad, and feel right).  My Happiness Project therefore involves figuring a work/live smarter system.

Baptism by Fire Calls For a Need to Work Smarter

It’s been awhile since my last post. The last few months had felt like baptism by fire.  The forever increasing task and project list at work, more deadlines, new developments that call for changes in processes.  It’s never ending.

I needed to take some time off the fast rail and to regroup, to think of ways to work smarter.

This pain of being overwhelmed calls for tools and processes to make work more manageable.  I’ve been experimenting with some of these tools, a few of which I had previously identified but it was only through this experience that I recognize the full benefits of combining them into a cohesive system.  I finally realize that when integrated into a system, these tools and processes make me feel like a rock star since I can recall key information faster, think clearly, access what I need, and work with focus.  I am excited to discuss some of these tools and processes in the next few blogs.

All in all, the entire experience had been transcending.  This weekend was the first weekend that I enjoy doing work on the weekend.  I know I promised myself to strive for  work life balance.  But because work had become easier to do work, it also became enjoyable.  It’s been awhile since I feel that way.  🙂

I Look to Astrid So that I can Achieve “Mind Like Water” Peace and Ascend to To-Do Heaven

I am now accustomed to referring to my phone and my web versions of Astrid to see what I need to do TODAY.  Never in my life had I been this docile.  Not to my own mother, my college roommates, and not to the man that is going to marry me.  I am just one of those people who like to work on my own terms.  But for whatever reason, I am Astrid’s slave.

Astrid has become a popular to-do list manager.

You can find out more about Astrid’s features directly from the company’s website here.  More reviews about Astrid are available via the following sites:  CNET |  Lifehacker.

I have this rigor in using Astrid is so that I can achieve peace, “mind like water” peace.

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If anyone has read I Don’t Know How She Does It by Allison Pearson, the character Kate Reddy would recount the items she needs to juggle being a working mom while narrating the story.  She would describe the latest drama consuming her and then her thoughts would wonder to her grocery list, errands she needed to run, etc.  Collectively, these lists or outstanding tasks took up around fifty percent of the novel!  It was quite annoying but then that’s reality for the rest of us; the recurrent noises in our heads forever intruding our psyche, taking up much of the time we have on earth.

For the times that I am just a little bit lazy and less diligent with Astrid, then these nagging thoughts keep coming back.  Thoughts of outstanding tasks would be elicited based on other thoughts, say a similar name, a similar location, a similar image.   So, the more exposures I get to environments having stimulus that have similar traits as my unresolved items, then the more provoked and anxious I get.  This is because neurons wire together fire together.  So, thinking of one item would illicit a memory or thought of another idea with similar traits.  The challenge is I have a long list of unresolved items and I am forever reminded of what’s open ended.  That’s not a way to experience the world.  So, to achieve peace again, I revert back to my Astrid to do list.  It is that simple.

Here is the method.  When I think of something that needs to be done, I add a task via the following ways:

  1. Add to my phone;
  2. Email to tasks@astrid.com (since I sign into Astrid via google); and
  3. Login into the Astrid web portal.

I see the process as follows:

Idea/memory –> Astrid –> Action –> Outcome

I am borrowing the Elizabeth Gilbert quote from my previous post on Diwali and Heaven and Hell.

“The karmic philosophy appeals to me on a metaphorical level because even in one’s lifetime it’s obvious how often we must repeat our same mistakes, banging our heads against the same old addictions and compulsions, generating the same old miserable and often catastrophic consequences, until we can finally stop and fix it. This is the supreme lesson of karma ( and also of western psychology, by the way)- take care of the problem now, or else you’ll just have to suffer again later when you screw everything up the next time. And that repetition of suffering-that’s hell. Moving out of that endless repetition to a new level of understanding-there’s where you’ll find heaven.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

Via Astrid, I am taking care of “my problem” of missing a recurrent deadline (such as payment for DMV registration, submitting receipts to my FSA account) by setting a task and making it recurrent, so as to prevent missing any of these deadlines EVER AGAIN.  This is particularly important if some of these deadlines are dependent on other tasks such as picking up mail.  If I have it in my Astrid, I would look out for these items in my mail and if I don’t find them, then I can be proactive by following up or  simply making the payments online.

The habit of using Astrid has helped me address all the mundane aspects of life I  sometimes loathe myself for overlooking.  I am also liberating myself from the cycle of thinking about the same thing more than once.

Instead of thinking of all the action items on my list as more to dos, I think of achieving peace and liberation at the end.

At some level, I am transcending from to-do hell to to-do heaven.

Comment on Drawbacks to Blogging (such as Journal Style Writing) by BottledWorder and Repost of: Using Springpad to Manage Ideas/Inspirations for Posts on YOUR BLOG

I’ve recently read a post from one of my favorite bloggers BottledWorder, who dispenses a lot of wonderful insights on writing, on the drawbacks to blogging.   Item 4 on the list of five drawbacks is getting used to journal-style recordings and free writing.   In brief, the two aspects of this mode  of writing are 1) forgetting to focus on the level of detail that constitute well thought out analysis and 2) once a thought has been written and we already have an outlet, then we lose the ability to connect such experiences to a cohesive message.

Springpad have certain features that address these two aspects of the drawback in journal-style writing.

As provided on Using Springpad to Manage Ideas/Inspirations for Posts on YOUR BLOG with content provided below after ****, Springpad’s phone and cloud platform enable a blogger to quickly record ideas and  inspirations when they first strike and then for the blogger to write with more detail at a later time, with consideration to technique, style, and most importantly the reader.  Furthermore, Springpad provides a mechanism to organize posts into broader categories, which can be strung back to a theme via tags or notebooks.  For example, if the myriad of posts support a certain theme overtime, say a concept to a book, the blogger can make a Notebook for your book in Springpad.  The blogger can then add to do lists, photos of inspirations, research articles collected via the web, etc.

I’ve looked at my post recently on Using Springpad to Manage Ideas/Inspirations for Posts (without YOUR BLOG in the title) and realize that the title of the post may not be informative enough.  Of the posts I made, I am particularly adamant about this one due to its utility  for other bloggers.  I am taking the opportunity to re-post with the “YOUR BLOG” title.  Have you had a situation where you realize you were writing about something that might be helpful to others but then because of oversight, such as having a vague title, have inadvertently withheld it from being read by more readers?  What do you do in such situation?

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Repost:  Using Springpad to Manage Ideas/Inspirations for Posts on YOUR BLOG

The reason why I write is so that I can have some balance from a full-time job that continues to consume me; so that I can cultivate this hobby that’s been an on and off affair over the last ten years.  However, inspirations come at every corner throughout the week.  It is hard for me to turn them off.

Conversely, it is also too much pressure to sit on the weekend mornings (my planned writing schedule) waiting for inspirations.   I end up spending an hour or two brainstorming for a post.  By the time I am done with the first draft, I am already fatigue!  I am too tired to review the draft for grammatical errors, flow, etc.

So, I need a better method to manage my writing.

I’ve started two weeks ago to use Springpad to record ideas throughout the week so that on the weekend mornings when I am to write, it’s a matter of synthesis and refinement.  This way, the end product, a post, is more thought out.

Here is a list of post ideas in my Happy Connected project notebook.  They are tagged by “post” and status (if a post had been published, then it is tagged “completed”).

The three (3) features inside each spring item that are useful include the following:

1.  The ability to attach voice recording or photos (I can record ideas while I am commuting; I can also attach photos as inspirations);

2.  The option to create reminders so I can set up a reminder for a post (for a specific date to publish it); and,

3.  The ability to make comments to each spring item.

I have over time used the Chrome clipper I talked about in Using Springpad to Gather Inspirations for a Backyard Wedding to grab web content, either for further reading, research, or blog ideas.  Having these contents readily is extremely handy.  I use this clipper instead of using any bookmark utilities.

A key feature of the Springpad platform is that you can add a spring item under multiple notebooks.   For example, when I have an item under my Europe notebook that I want to write about, I can add that item from my Europe notebook into my Happy Connected notebook.   I can then tag this item as a “post.” This way, that experience is in TWO places, a notebook called Europe that is analogous to a scrapbook and my Happy Connected blog project notebook.

Now, I struggle less with inspirations, and can focus more on technique and style.

Hopefully, one day, I can write something freshly pressed.

 

Using Springpad to Manage Ideas/Inspirations for Posts on Your Blog

The reason why I write is so that I can have some balance from a full-time job that continues to consume me; so that I can cultivate this hobby that’s been an on and off affair over the last ten years.  However, inspirations come at every corner throughout the week.  It is hard for me to turn them off.

Conversely, it is also too much pressure to sit on the weekend mornings (my planned writing schedule) waiting for inspirations.   I end up spending an hour or two brainstorming for a post.  By the time I am done with the first draft, I am already fatigue!  I am too tired to review the draft for grammatical errors, flow, etc.

So, I need a better method to manage my writing.

I’ve started two weeks ago to use Springpad to record ideas throughout the week so that on the weekend mornings when I am to write, it’s a matter of synthesis and refinement.  This way, the end product, a post, is more thought out.

Here is a list of post ideas in my Happy Connected project notebook.  They are tagged by “post” and status (if a post had been published, then it is tagged “completed”).

The three (3) features inside each spring item that are useful include the following:

1.  The ability to attach voice recording or photos (I can record ideas while I am commuting; I can also attach photos as inspirations);

2.  The option to create reminders so I can set up a reminder for a post (for a specific date to publish it); and,

3.  The ability to make comments to each spring item.

I have over time used the Chrome clipper I talked about in Using Springpad to Gather Inspirations for a Backyard Wedding to grab web content, either for further reading, research, or blog ideas.  Having these contents readily is extremely handy.  I use this clipper instead of using any bookmark utilities.

A key feature of the Springpad platform is that you can add a spring item under multiple notebooks.   For example, when I have an item under my Europe notebook that I want to write about, I can add that item from my Europe notebook into my Happy Connected notebook.   I can then tag this item as a “post.” This way, that experience is in TWO places, a notebook called Europe that is analogous to a scrapbook and my Happy Connected blog project notebook.

Now, I struggle less with inspirations, and can focus more on technique and style.

Hopefully, one day, I can write something freshly pressed.

What Half A Bottle of Sun Block Being Used Up in Two Weeks Taught Me about Enlightenment, Resolution, and Examining Elements of a Habit

I recently wrote a post on enlightenment and resolution, in Diwali and Elizabeth Gilbert on Heaven and Hell.

Wearing sun block is one of the top prevention of aging of the skin.  I know that.  This is nothing new to anyone.  I guess we’re all enlightened.  But there is a number of us who don’t wear it as often as we should.

Five plus years ago, I found a sun block that was able to protect my skin from long exposure to the sun.

Last year, I resolved to wear it more often.  I bought two tubes of these very expensive sun blocks so that they are readily available. I also put them into smaller travel size bottles so that they are in my purse, in my car, etc.  I put my money where my mouth was.  However, I DIDN’T WEAR THEM EVERY DAY.  Prevention from EVERYDAY exposure though is as important as from extended intense exposures at an occasional basis.

Recently, I came across a combined moisturizer and sun block (SPF 30) from my favorite store Purity Cosmetics (www.100percentpure.com) and I bought one to try.

Here is a description of the ARGAN OIL HYDRATION FACIAL MOISTURIZER SPF 30.

Image

Moisturizing formula with SPF 30 to block out the sun’s UVA (ultra violet aging) and UVB (ultra violet burning) rays infused with nutrients such as Argan Oil, Rosehip Oil, Green Tea and Herbal Extracts to soften and nourish skin. In addition to protecting against the sun’s UV rays, antioxidants provide protection against environmental damage to the skin. Protects against skin cancer, fine lines, wrinkles and dark sun/age spots! 

The order was placed on October 28th.  It arrived at the first week of November and I finished half a bottle in two weeks!!  This NEVER HAPPENS.  And as I looked at my experience over the history of sun block wearing, I realized something.

What I had was good but not good enough for the habit that I wanted to have.  I wanted an everyday sun block so it needed to be convenient, say a sun block and moisturizer all-in- one.  I had tried the two-in-one many years ago but the moisturizer alone was not hydrating or the sun block in the combination product was not sufficiently effective.  So, my expensive sunblock was effective in being a sunblock but it was deficient for everyday use.

Most importantly, my eyes feel like they were burning when any sun block gets into them.  I guess subconsciously, if something burns if it gets into my eyes, I didn’t want to have it on my face on an everyday basis.

In retrospect, if I had been more aware of my experience in its entirety and thought methodically of what I needed AND understood the reason I didn’t like what I had, then I would be able to look for something that has all of the following features:

  • Natural (because I am concern about chemicals being in contact with my skin);
  • Non greasy/absorbs quickly;
  • Light scent;
  • Sun block and moisturizer in one;
  • Gentle (doesn’t burn my eyes when I wash it);

I came across a September 2010 issue of In Style yesterday and found Origin’s Brighter by Nature SPF 35 which is a skin tone correcting moisturizer and it looks like this product, on paper, may have all the above features.  Then I would have started a habit of wearing sun block say in 2010.

Another way of looking at the situation however is that I’ve now finally found what I had been looking for.  So, it wouldn’t be hard for me to keep the habit I resolved to have.  I am placing an order of two more tubes of the ARGAN OIL HYDRATION FACIAL MOISTURIZER SPF 30.

Diwali and Elizabeth Gilbert on Heaven and Hell

This last week marked the celebration of Diwali, The Festival of Lights, for Indians around the world.

I am borrowing from The Hunffinton Post, the meaning of the Diwali:

“The word Diwali comes from the Sanskrit deepavali, which means a row of lights. The festival of Diwali symbolizes the victory of light over dark, good over evil and knowledge over darkness.”

Hindu, Jain, and Sihk differ in the tenets that they celebrate.

One that resonates with me personally from the post is the celebration of enlightenment in Jainism.

“In Jainism, Diwali marks the attainment of enlightenment by Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara of Jainism who laid down the central tenets of the Jain religion as it is practiced today.”

A day to celebrate knowledge over ignorance is a worthy tenet. I advocate for the celebration of enlightenment to be a global and daily affair for all. 

We should celebrate the tools that are readily available to us (internet, smart phones, computer) to enable us to be forever connected to world, so that we can understand it better, and understand ourselves better.  Now, we can conveniently feed our curiosity and  enrich our lives in myriad ways.  I will think of Diwali every time I turn on a switch of a device; I have the opportunity to be enlightened should I choose.

Besides enlightenment, another virtue that I think about is resolve.  To me, resolve means having the courage and commitment to change the current circumstances in light of being enlightened.  This is particularly difficult for our own daily affairs.

There is a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert in  Eat, Pray, and Love that I refer to when  I recognize that knowing is just the beginning and that it needs to be followed with resolve:

“The karmic philosophy appeals to me on a metaphorical level because even in one’s lifetime it’s obvious how often we must repeat our same mistakes, banging our heads against the same old addictions and compulsions, generating the same old miserable and often catastrophic consequences, until we can finally stop and fix it. This is the supreme lesson of karma ( and also of western psychology, by the way)- take care of the problem now, or else you’ll just have to suffer again later when you screw everything up the next time. And that repetition of suffering-that’s hell. Moving out of that endless repetition to a new level of understanding-there’s where you’ll find heaven.”
― Elizabeth Gilbert

Is there a day to celebrate resolve?

My Morning Routine, experimenting with image juxtaposition in Polyvore

Morning Routine

FRUIT tinted moisturizer
100percentpure.com

Face care
100percentpure.com

Eye care
100percentpure.com

Beauty product
100percentpure.com

Beauty product
alexandvon.com

One Month Blogging Anniversary

Today is a holiday so I am going to steal a pocket of time to post (I usually post on the weekends).  Why?  It is also the one month anniversary of happyconnected.

I see an anniversary as a time to reflect.  It is an opportunity to give thanks to all the good fortunes that helped me get to where I am (whether it is a company like WordPress for having a user friendly product (I struggled two weeks with another company and terminated the account with them before arriving at WordPress)), to the people around me who remained patient as I became completely immersed, to pat myself on the back for working consistently and figuring how I can keep that momentum.

The idea of blogging materialized when I was traveling in Europe in early fall.  I was on a plane and the passenger sitting next to me asked about my Android phone and whether I like it.  And that’s when I told him some of the apps that are quite helpful to have.  They are Springpad, Astrid, Thinking Space/Mindjet.  He tells me that since I seem to be this excited about the products, that I should write a book or teach a class.  He was actually the third person that told me this.  Once when I told a friend about what apps to download, he asked me if I have a blog he can follow.  My brother had also asked me to be a coach to help people improve their productivity with their phones.

I happen to bring my very first journal entry (made in August 2002) with me on that trip.  The entry was a little bit shy of ten years plus one month.

In reviewing my entries from ten years ago, I was writing to understand myself more.  Now that I am a little bit more aware of who I am, insight can be arrived at much quicker and resolution more immediate.   Therefore, I’d like to write to share my experience and what I learn from others. I can’t tell you how many times I reread The Happiness Project by Gretchin Rubin or David Allen’s Getting Things Done.  Those books help me see the world a little bit differently and give me some wisdom to make my world a little bit more manageable, and a happier person.  So, I am passing forward.

As I was traveling, I scribbled onto my pages the various forms/uses for the blog.  And on October 2nd, at the hotel room in Amsterdam, as I was trying to find connections for my laptop and my phone, the concept of “happyconnected” came to bear.  I realized at that juncture that I was enjoying my trip because I was connected!  That having my phone and my laptop helped me make better choices, that being disconnected caused me more anxiety.  I went on go-daddy to see if the account was available and it sure was.  And then I registered happyconnected at WordPress on October 12th.

I initially struggled with figuring out what to put on the site, the pages and the posts themselves.  The relevant content became apparent when my fiance and I started planning our wedding so that there would be an example of a process to share.  I asked my fiance if I can post about our wedding planning experience using Springpad and he agreed to use the app with me.  That weekend, I posted our experience researching a location for a home wedding and looking for inspirations.

I should say though that another important catalysis for a blog, besides content, was finding a template that I like and that the work product looked decent enough.  Never under-estimate the “pretty factor.”  I recognized that when I was trying to differentiate between Springpad vs. Pinterest in my recent post.  The bottom line is, if what you’re working with or creating is aesthetically pleasing, you want to work more, interact with it more, create more.  This is very important for a minimalist like myself who focuses on functions.  After all, it was this pretty factor and content that I am writing at 8:30 AM on a holiday.

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